Life without a smartphone

I never did get a net connection for my T-Mobile iPhone in Italy.

I learned how dependent I had become on maps, email and texting while getting around.

For example, I went on a walk to find the synagogue in Trieste. I must have come close to it, but I didn't find it. The streets in the city aren't well marked with signs, and without a net connection my phone maps were of no use. I couldn't text to get help locating it. I had to turn around and go back. Luckily that meant going downhill, finding my hotel was quite easy. (Just walk downhill.)

In the old days before iPhones I would have had a paper map with me. That was how I explored Florence and Rome years ago. But these days I don't even think of it till it's too late.

I also had Cyclemeter with me, it tracked my walk. But while the GPS was working, apparently, somewhat -- it couldn't show me where I went. I wanted to see how close I came, after the fact. It was able to tell me how long I was out, what the temperature was (it was hot, I knew that) and how many miles I walked. (Update: The website doesn't have the time or miles, but the phone did

A cautionary tale? Not really. But still interesting to see how progress sometimes leaves us worse off than we were before.

Update: All of a sudden Cyclemeter is showing the route! Whoa. Maybe someone kicked the computer up there in the cloud! (Just kidding, I know it doesn't work that way.) So you can see that I didn't come anywhere close to the synagogue. I took a seriously wrong turn. Oh well, it was an interesting walk anyway.

Update: An annoying "feature" of iPhone map apps. When you open the app, either Google or Apple, it refreshes the display. If there's no net connection, you get a blank screen, losing whatever map you had. So if you set things up beforehand with a map of where you're going, thinking it might be useful even if you don't have a connection, you lose it just as you need it most. Really awful design. Why throw away information if you don't have anything to replace it with?

Last built: Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 11:23 AM

By Dave Winer, Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 9:40 AM. Only steal from the best.