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Real-Time Release Notes

How to let everyone know the moment you release...
by skoopmanschap
February 28, 2006
Don't you sometimes get annoyed at the fact that when you release a book, you have to wait until you get home before you can actually announce the release? Or that you announce a release before you leave home, and when you get to the point where you planned your release, something comes up and you can't release the book where you announced it? Or, looking from the hunter's side: you get a release alert for a location just around the corner, but it is a release note for a release done hours earlier, and the book is not there anymore? I'm sure this is not a new idea, but it's new to me: real-time release notes, thanks to GPRS, your mobile phone, and Opera Mini.

It can't get much more real-time. Thanks to “new” technologies such as GPRS or the even newer UMTS (Internet on your mobile phone), you can visit websites while you walk, sit on a bench, or (theoretically, but I wouldn't try it) ride your bike. Most people will probably use this technology to check their email, maybe read up on the news or sport, or if you have the right type of phone, chat with friends. But this technology is also a wonderful tool for us BookCrossers! Here's how it works for me:

It's morning. I get up, get ready to go to work. I put a few prepared books in my bag for when the perfect release opportunity arrives. I take the bus to the nearest train station (Amersfoort, for me). I get off the bus, and take my first book out of my bag. While walking through the station, I check which of my favorite release spots is easy for me to get to without drawing attention of people who want to run after me because I “forgot my book!” I leave my book and walk away. I take out my mobile phone, start my Opera Mini, go to www.bookcrossing.com. Of course, since I do this quite often, I'm already logged in ;) I go to the release page, enter the BCID that I wrote down on a piece of paper (makes it easier to remember, theoretically I could of course look the book up on my bookshelf), enter it, select 'NS Station Amersfoort' as my BookCrossing Zone, leave a note where in the station I left the book, and voila! I'm done. A minute or two after I released my book, I've notified the website of the release and release alerts will be sent.

So what do you need? Obviously, you'll need a mobile phone. This mobile phone needs to have support for one of the techniques to connect to the Internet (WAP/GPRS, UMTS). Your mobile phone company also needs to support this, but most subscriptions these days do. Do note that you get charged for the amount of data traffic you use! Then, most phones with Internet support have some kind of browser installed. However, not all browsers work well with the BookCrossing website. For instance, the default browser on my Samsung D600 had trouble logging in to the website. Luckily, my phone can run 'Java' applications, and there is Opera Mini. Opera Mini is a version of the Opera browser, specifically made for mobile phones. It works perfectly with the BookCrossing website! With this, and your stack of books available for release, you're set for a great real-time release fest!

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