Chapter 15 – My Treo

I sold my Treo 270 to a friend in January, 2004 and almost immediately regretted it. For a year and a half prior I was in smartphone heaven, blessed with a device that ticked all the boxes: It had a colour touch screen, qwerty keypad, ran the Palm OS, had a dual-band radio for overseas use… It didn’t ship with a GPRS-compatible radio but wonder of wonders, I was able to apply a firmware upgrade myself a few months after I bought it. About the only thing it didn’t have was an onboard camera, but in the summer of 2002 when I bought it camera phones were just starting to become popular in Europe and Japan.

Okay, my GSM-based Treo wasn’t compatible with Japan’s mobile networks, but I could use it pretty much everywhere else. And in 2002-2003 it seemed like I did just that.

By this time I had racked up enough Air Canada points for a free trip to Australia, via Hawaii. I remember being on a bus in Honolulu and firing up the mobile version of MapQuest to verify the location of the Ala Moana Center, where I would enjoy my first-ever serving of Hawaiian poi. Choosing a food court vendor over a touristy hotel restaurant saved me about fifty bucks. Later that trip I would surprise a friend back in Canada with my reply to her innocuous text: “What am I up to? Oh, not much… just having breakfast in Sydney, Australia is all…”

Later that year I was back in Singapore with the The Second City theatre, and amazed our stage manager by pulling up almost-live hockey scores from back home on Yahoo’s mobile sports site. On that same trip I somehow managed to find a cute Singaporean pen pal to flirt with via SMS when I got back home — once we both figured out the country codes, of course. It didn’t last long but while it did it was an amazing thing, sharing random moments from lives on the run from opposite sides of the world. This was all in the days before Twitter, of course.

My Treo was also there for me during tougher times. It allowed me to take diligent notes from doctors as my father lay dying in hospital. During the SARS epidemic, no less. And when a sudden, North America-wide power outage silenced my desktop computer and cordless phones, my Treo persevered. That I could still make calls on it made me quite popular with my neighbours, at least for the duration of the blackout.

The last time my Treo would travel with me was, fittingly, on my last jaunt as an overseas comedian, performing for Canadian troops stationed in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We were already halfway through our two-week USO-style tour — sorry, deployment — when I learned that mobile phones were not allowed on base. Apparently local crime rings had the technology to intercept mobile transmissions, including SMS. But about the only sensitive information I remember sending was that the food was fantastic. Seriously, an army really does travel on its stomach.

My Treo and I had some great times together and it rarely, if ever, let me down. I miss it to this very day.