Category: Travel

Using Bigpond email with multiple devices

Please note: the following is my understanding and simplified view of a complex landscape of options and protocols
It is intended to provide insight for the inexperienced, rather than a complete and accurate technical description

If you are reading this as a customer of another ISP then just assume that every mention of Bigpond is a reference to your provider. While things that are true of bigpond might not be true of your provider this should still get you most of the way there

Bigpond and others provide email addresses for free with their services, but in reality this is nothing more than a trap to prevent you from switching to another service – in my opinion there is no reason for a Bigpond customer to use one of these addresses

Apple iCloud, Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail etc. are portable when you switch to a different Internet Service Provider and remain capable of being used with standard settings anywhere in the world (as do properly setup self hosted emails like myname@myowndomain.whatever)

A bigpond address often fails to send when you are not connected to the Telstra provided infrastructure forcing users to access expensive solutions like global data roaming or clunky solutions like webmail

In addition a Bigpond address is not designed (at time of writing) to properly sync between multiple devices

Why? Bigpond use a protocol known as POP which offers advantages for the provider including reduced ‘chattiness’ between devices and the email server, but none for the user – especially when the user has more than one device*

*status of messages (flagged, read, unread, deleted, forwarded, replied) is not echoed between devices

Other protocols exist – IMAP, Exchange, Google Sync, iCloud

Exchange is a Proprietary (Paid) Microsoft protocol which supports multiple devices for mail, calendar, contacts and notes
It is typically used by businesses with their own domain

Google Sync is similar to Exchange and is apparently based on it
Google Sync, with the right settings makes it easy to sync mail, calender, contacts and notes between iPad, iPhone and presumably other mobile devices
while it works well on mobile, due to licencing restrictions, it doesn’t work fully on the desktop and is quite frustrating and time consuming to configure on a PC or Mac (Purchasing Outlook may be a solution to this)
One major advantage of Google Sync is the ability to set it up with your own domain
Update: Unless you were already using Google Sync or a paying Google Customer, Google Sync is effectively dead –

iCloud is a proprietary (free) protocol for those who own one or more Apple computing devices
iCloud makes it easy to sync mail, calender, contacts, notes, bookmarks, documents, location, device backups, reminders between all of those devices and a few items can sync with a PC running the iCloud Control Panel

IMAP is a non proprietary email protocol which works on any device, but must be supported by the provider of your email;

Bigpond – does NOT support IMAP
(email addresses ending in or similar)

Gmail – Supports IMAP, but I have seen the uninitiated become confused by the way Gmail handles IMAP
(email addresses ending in

iCloud – Supports IMAP, but setting up as iCloud is easier (iCloud email can be easily used on PCs with Outlook, Macs, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Setting up on a different device requires careful configuration)
(email addresses ending,,

email addresses ending in,,,,,
Internode – Supports IMAP
Adam – Supports IMAP
Your own hosted email may or may not support IMAP, although most do
Other providers like Yahoo, Hotmail, Dodo, iPrimus etc. may or may not support IMAP to one degree or another

POP – Some of these emails support POP, but I generally recommend avoiding it. If you have a bigpond address which you have shared with many people and you now use multiple devices it is normally*** best to switch to an iCloud or Gmail address and have your incoming Bigpond emails redirected there

***Not all bigpond addresses are equal. In all cases we can forward emails received at a bigpond address to another address, but it is not always possible to prevent the bigpond inbox from continuing to fill up requiring us to keep checking in

Update:I have experienced varying interfaces with Bigpond webmail and settings.
In all cases those settings allow mail to be forwarded to another address, but most of the time there is no option to stop the Bigpond inbox from continuing to fill up. Since writing this blogpost I have helped people set this up 3 or 4 times and it is starting to appear as though address ending are of the inferior variety (inbox continues to fill) while those ending in appear to be capable of forwarding emails WITHOUT, at the same time, continuing to fill up themselves

We can use pieces of each protocol – for example

A bigpond user might use POP for his email, but use iCloud for his Calendar and Contacts

A Gmail, internode or Adam user might use IMAP for email and Notes with iCloud for Calendar and Contacts

While these solutions work they require more configuration than a single solution like Exchange or iCloud (Google Sync is similar but much less easy unless we are only interested in using mobile devices)

iCloud seems to be the best overall solution, but your needs will vary depending on your email address, willingness or ability to change address, current devices, future devices

Now go and have a lie down…

Update:Adam it appears do not allow email addresses provided by them to be forwarded at all – if you are an Adam customer I recommend avoiding their free email accounts like the plague

Update March 6, 2013:Chariot – www, – also omit options for forwarding, but a call to their helpdesk reveals that they can set it up manually for you

iPhone 5, iOS 6, Public Transit

Dear reader

Never mind the deterioration of map resolution, if you rely on the public transport capabilities of Maps in your iPhone you might want to think twice before you upgrade to iOS 6 or buy an iPhone 5

Apple’s switch to their own mapping technologies has left a gaping hole where useful transit directions once lived

If you have already upgraded What can you do (other than waiting until Apple catch up to where they were yesterday)

One option is simply to carry another older iOS device.

I’m lucky enough to have a first generation iPod touch lying around – this device is incapable of running iOS 6 and should continue to provide public transit times and directions well into the future

Another option while we pray that Google release a standalone Maps app is to visit and add their web app to your home screen

It’s clunkier (for example, you can’t search for directions until the page has finished loading), but at least it works

Stay available – tips for the global iPhone traveller

Duncan Davidson has written a great article on choosing an iPhone for the Global traveller, however he has missed the following method which will work for any iPhone and is simple enough for most users to cope with no matter what happens when they are overseas and out of reach of their regular support network

I’ve used this method to help a few people when traveling overseas with their iPhone and/or iPad.

Most of them have kept their carrier sim, turned off data roaming, NOT set up or requested international call roaming and NOT made outgoing calls when abroad using the iPhone ‘Phone’ app. (This generally means they can continue to text normally without too much cost and there is nothing on the phone to reconfigure on the return home).

I install Skype, have them set up an online number at and enable automatic Skype credit top ups.

I set up each email account on each device to receive AND send while overseas (many devices are set up at time of purchase to use carrier smtp settings which fail to send immediately when you are not connected to the carrier.
iCloud and gmail just work anywhere. If you own your domain and use this as your outgoing mail server where supported then this will work too – other domains/ISP emails may require the use of webmail as a fallback

I set up an email auto responder for each account which explains received messages may not be responded to for a day or two (in the event of a failure to get online) – keep in mind that this may advertise that your home is unoccupied.

Back to Skype. As mentioned the traveller purchases an online number. With this we then record a voicemail message using the Skype desktop app and then, on leaving the country, activate call forwarding from each of the travellers local phone numbers to the online number (using the method of dialling the carriers call forward activation shortcut).
The message we record might mention the email address for urgent enquiries since it will almost always be possible to respond to an email rather than a call due to the extra bandwidth required, although the traveller can always respond via text message if all else fails

When anyone at home calls the travellers normal number(s) they are redirected to Skype voicemail and are able to leave a message.
The traveller receives email notification of any message and can listen and respond when they are able to connect to WiFi (using the Skype app on an iPhone to return the call costs very little and it is easy to check your costs on a daily basis by logging in to the Skype website)

A couple of issues crop up in this scenario

  1. Returned calls must be made at a reasonable hour in the callers time zone.
  2. Appointments that are added to your calendar can get shifted if you have set your device to your current (out of home country) time zone.
  3. If Skype is left running on any device the voice message may take a dozen rings to answer (and may even time out).
  4. If the WiFi you are connected to is not good enough then call quality can be poor
  5. Clients sometimes struggle to understand the difference between using Skype to make free calls to other Skype users only while they are online and making calls using ‘Skype Credit’ to the regular phone number of any person with a phone at any time of day or night
  6. Siri likes to activate when you make a Skype call and raise the iPhone to your ear (turn off this feature under Settings > GeneralĀ > SiriĀ > Raise to Speak)

In addition to all this you might consider carrying a Pocket WiFi device which is unlocked to be used with various sim cards in each country you travel to (in case local WiFi fails to be available or of a decent quality)