June 22, 2011

No Twitter SMS alerts in South Africa?

Today is a typical example of why Noisette periodically chastises me for being so busy and never getting much done, even though I have full-time domestic help and a gardener here.

He has a point.

After having such a good day yesterday, actually checking eight things off my Monday morning to-do list (I usually drag that many things with me the whole week, though in my defense I have to say that most things I do never actually get put on the list in the first place), all I want to do this morning is respond to a reader comment. It was about the cops here in South Africa and being harassed by them for no reason, and the comment suggested to follow PigSpotter on Twitter to be alerted to road blocks ahead of time.

What a great idea, I think, so I log into my Twitter account, which basically never gets used. I have no idea what those 29 followers are hoping for. Twitter, it turns out, is very slow, what with revolutions all over the world and mankind busily tweeting (and retweeting) whatever happens every second of the day. So I waste some time just waiting for pages to come up. While I am waiting, I get sidetracked by a tweet I come across on my home screen about Michelle Obama visiting South Africa, so of course I have to go and write a post about that real quick. Then back to PigSpotter - short agony which one to pick as there is a whole list of them - and a quick click on "follow." Done? No. More searching to figure out where the heck the setting is to turn on the SMS/mobile phone alert for someone you follow (am I the only one who doesn't find Twitter particularly user-friendly?). When that's finally done I realize the phone number my new traffic cop alerts will be going to is my old U.S. phone number as I've never changed it since moving here. Piece of cake, I think. So how to change the darn phone number? I click on every setting in the profile section (with the occasional "Twitter is over capacity - please wait a moment" message flashing on the screen) but there is no place to change the phone number. Only after googling "how do I change the phone number on Twitter" (I really have a strong urge to type "the f$%#" between "how" and "do") do I learn that you have to click on a tiny box at the bottom that says "delete phone number." I had seen the box, but I wanted to add/change, not delete, so would not have thought of that. But that is exactly how Twitter has designed their account profile. So I dutifully delete my existing phone number and do in fact get a new screen allowing me to enter my current phone number.

But! A SOUTH AFRICAN PHONE NUMBER IS NOT AN OPTION!

Lots of countries come up: Afghanistan, Bahrain (duh!), Egypt (of course), Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji (!), Guyana, Kazakhstan, Sudan, Yemen - need I go on? The whole freaking world is on there, but not South Africa!

This pisses me off. So if we in South Africa decide to start a revolution, we can't even get Twitter alerts to each other.

This can't be, I think to myself, so I do some more googling. "How the #$%& can you get Twitter SMS alerts in South Africa."

It is now the end of the day - granted, some tennis, a dentist appointment, and grocery shopping for an entire army were in between - and I still haven't found a solution. I found some very obscure websites ranging from ones that claimed to send free SMSs but only offered bad links, to the Bernie Madoff version that advertised "Send free SMS South Africa (ZA)" and a sign-in screen where you enter your phone number and then someone else's phone number and then that someone else is asked to pay R30 ($4.50 or so) to receive the message.

So if anyone out there has figured how to get Twitter alerts sent to their cellphone in South Africa, please let me know!

7 comments :

cat said...

I have no idea and although I tweet, I mainly do it when I am on the computer. But Pigspotter is great. The guy deserves a medal.

Bing said...

You can set up Twitter on your iPhone and get updates via that. There's a iPhone Twitter app that's free. Is that good for you?

Sine said...

Aha! didn't even occur to me to go that route. But will it automatically know my phone number? Cause there is no place to actually enter it, and like I said, I can't enter it on my Twitter profile online either, because +27 is not an option.

I'll see if the iPhone app works, I just downloaded it. At least now I have it on my phone and can just check the status, but I would like to get SMS notifications (though maybe not, you might get inundated by those Pigspotter alerts when you're not even driving anywhere!)

TheTourist said...

Apologies for the necro-post but I figured this would help you.

I have discovered ifttt which is simply "duct tape for the internet" with which I am able to get Tweets via SMS.

http://ryansrandomrant.tumblr.com/post/11832912565/twitter-sms-updates-in-south-africa-with-ifttt

Sine said...

@Tourist - of course I first had to look up what "necro-post" means:-)

Anyway, I went over there and checked it out and it looks like it's explained in very good detail that even I could understand, so I'll give it a try. Just curious - who ends up paying for these SMSs? There's got to be some kind of hitch. Will you get lots of ads via SMS?

Thanks for the link!

Rebecca said...

@Sine Have you possibly found a solution that strictly uses SMS (doesn't use any other apps)?

Sine said...

No Rebecca, I haven't, but admit I haven't been searching for it actively either. Will ask around and let you know.