A couple of weeks ago I received a hand-me-down Audiovox SMT 5600 "smartphone" from Marc Smith (my manager at Microsoft), so that I could start to test out the various mobile apps that the research and product groups are developing. (I'm paying for my own service, though, in case you're wondering.) It took quite some time to get service set up on the phone, due to the overall stupidity of Cingular and its handling of the AT&T merger. The short version is I can't use a Cingular SIM in the card, because Cingular won't unlock it for me to use with their service; instead, I have to use an AT&T SIM, with an AT&T billing plan, even though Cingular took over AT&T. Silliness.
Marc gave me the phone and a USB cable for it--and when I also asked for an AC charger, he told me the USB cable could be used to charge the phone. Good enough, I thought. One less cable to use. Until this Friday, when I plugged my low-on-power phone into my laptop and went to bed. My laptop sensibly turned itself off not long after that, since I'd forgotten to override the power settings. And the phone ran completely out of power and went dead.
In the morning, I turned the computer on, figuring I could recharge the phone before we headed out for the day...but the amber charging light didn't come on. I tried it on another USB port, and then on another computer. Still no luck. I spent some time poking around online, and discovered that the SMT5600 will only charge over USB if the ActiveSync software has established a connection. And if the phone is dead, obviously the connection can't be established. That's not a smart phone--it's a really, really dumb phone.
We tried five different stores yesterday looking for an AC (or auto) charger--Cingular sells the phone, but the store didn't have a charger. Neither did Best Buy. Or Fry's. Or Car Toys. Or Radio Shack. Feh. Then I had a brainstorm--we now live 1.1 miles from Robert Scoble, who I know has the same phone. So I called Robert, only to find that his AC charger was at the office rather than at home. He pointed out that I could use my magical blue employee badge to get into his building and retrieve it from his office (non-managerial offices at Microsoft seem not to have locks for the most part). Then this morning I remembered that one of my colleagues has a whole pile of iMates (rebranded SMT5600s, basically), and that the chances were good there was a spare charger there. So this morning I headed over to campus with the kids, and found a whole pile of chargers in my colleague's office. I borrowed one, which I'll return tomorrow morning--I felt a little awkward "stealing" it like that, but it clearly wasn't being used today, and it was out in plain sight. :/
The phone's charging now, and I'll be careful not to let it get to the danger level again until I have my own AC charger.