Lose your phone without losing your friends

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 January, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 January, 2004, 12:00am

I lost my mobile phone over Christmas, as did at least five of my friends. I expect the mobile phone companies always look forward to festive seasons for this very reason.

I am trying to find out if there is any software available that one can use to make a memory back-up of telephone numbers to a personal computer.

All those celeb babes' numbers I had are now gone! When I lost it, Orange said they could give a history of numbers I had dialled for voice calls but not other numbers.

Name and address supplied

There is nothing like losing a phone to ruin the holiday spirit, particularly if it contained so many important numbers. If you feel this is likely to happen again, you may want to think about tethering your new phone to a convenient body part or possibly wearing it around your neck.

The first place to ask is Orange, of course. They have a few services aimed at personal digital assistants that synchronise your phone data with your Palm Pilot or PocketPC. You may want to ask them if your SIM card is a new one with protection or an older one.

Or you can go to one of the electronics centres such as 298 Computer Zone at 298 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai Computer Centre above the Wan Chai MTR station or Windsor House in Causeway Bay (10th, 11th, and 12th floors).

As for reading the SIM card, the answer to that is yes and no. I spoke to some of the electronics dealers at the 298 Computer Zone and several have readers for $300 to $400 but they tell me that, because they are also available from the mobile service providers, they do not sell many.

Also, newer SIM cards are being created so that at least some of the data will be protected. However, data on older cards can be read in its entirety. Some service providers began using newer, protected SIM cards about a year ago.

Most standalone readers plug into a USB port on a PC and generally support Windows, or occasionally, as in the case of Hong Kong's Advanced Card Systems, Linux. I have seen nothing that works on a Macintosh yet.

Having said all that, the trend is moving away from keeping personal data on SIM cards. Most new phones now connect to computers and other devices via USB, Bluetooth or infrared. Nokia and Sony-Ericsson both offer PC software to help the process.

Mobile phones now have cameras, MP3 files and all sorts of other data which they increasingly store on removable memory cards. Putting that all on a SIM card is becoming problematic.

In places like Finland, they are experimenting with putting credit card information on SIM cards. As I am sure you can see, the days of being able to read SIM cards seem to be numbered.

If you would like to see what Orange offers to synchronise your phone and PDA, here is the link: www.orangehk.com/eng/whatweoffer/pda_services.jsp

Questions to Tech Talk will not be answered personally. E-mail Danyll Wills at tech.talk@scmp.com