Gadgetry

August 19, 2009

Well, the new phone came in. I am officially infected – perhaps terminally – with gosh-wow.
   My phone is an iPhone knockoff by Samsung, who I thought only made stereo and television equipment. But then, if Apple is making telephones in addition to computers, you never know what to expect nowadays.
   I forgot to mention that what started this new phone fever was that my significant other got herself one a week before, thus firmly implanting the desire. She got a really cool one, so cool in fact that I got a bad case of the “gotta haves.”
   So it gets here and I take it out of the box. It’s all sleek and black and has this huge touch screen. I pull out the “Quick Start Guide” and am informed that I need to fully charge the battery before using my phone.
   Now, first thing out the gate, I’m hacked off.
   Here I am, after years of messing around with dinky little clamshell phones, I finally get the nerve to get some new-fangled, gee-whiz job and it finally comes in…now I gotta wait four hours before I can play with it. I fired off an angry email to my service provider suggesting they charge the dang batteries before they send me a phone, lest I send them a payment for my bill by check that is equally in need of being charged.
   But I charged the flippin’ thing and finally get to turn it on. At this point I realized exactly how antiquated I have become.
   Now, I am computer systems manager and webmaster for the Banner’s web site. I’m not an expert by any stretch, but I know a fair bit about such things. I can promise you here and now that little of what I know came in handy in operating a new touch screen cell phone.
   Nothing makes sense. The little icons had mysterious names that I couldn’t decipher. Now, here’s the clincher: No printed manual. It was on a CD. So to fully learn to operate my “gosh-wow” phone, I had to sit before my computer. Takes all the glory out of the word “mobile” doesn’t it?
   Instead, I did what any self-respecting, red-blooded American man does in such a situation:
   “Eenstruckshuns? We doan need no steenking eenstruckshuns!”
   Thus began a series of icon punching, exploring, freaking out and journeying into the hinterlands of the wireless world.
   It was a little hard to get used to the touch screen. I would try to scroll the display by lightly raking my finger from top to bottom or bottom to top and nothing would happen. If I applied a little more force it would either zoom to the bottom or top, or ask me if I really, truly, absolutely wanted to make an international call to Amsterdam. Once it told me my order was complete and my copy of Slumdog Millionaire was on the way, unless I pressed “cancel.”
   But I soon got the hang of the touch screen and enjoyed seeing what all the little icons did. Some allowed you to purchase music to play on your phone, which I didn’t care for because I have a nice, big stereo in the living room; others allowed you to watch television on your phone, but a three-quarter inch tall Buffy just didn’t seem to appeal to me. There was a place to download videos. Of what, I do not know, and decided I’d rather not find out.
   In the middle of all this, Suzie and I text’d each other. I don’t know how to spell that properly. “Texted” just doesn’t read right. Properly, I guess I should say, “Suzie and I sent text messages to each other,” but then that’s a whole buncha words for something that’s supposed to simplify, isn’t it? When the description of a method of simplification is long and complicated, you’ve essentially lost any ground you’ve gained in the first place. “Text’d” therefore works for me.
   The only real problem, as I feared, was that my rather thick fingers either missed the right button or hit two of them.
   So then we talked to each other across the living room. If you’ve never done this on your cell phone, don’t. It’s a brain numbing experience. You realize just how slow the cellular network is in terms of lag time. You hear the person talking in the room with you and in the earpiece of the phone and there’s a second or so delay. It gets so confusing that you start talking when they pause, and then they start talking, and the last half of my sentence attaches itself to the first half of hers and the first half of my sentence is attached to the last half of hers and in the end, we apparently decided to invade Norway.
   The phone has a three-megapixel camera. It has no flash. Suzie’s has a flash. I was jealous. It also does not have Wifi, the wireless Internet access technology. Hers does. I was jealous again. But she likes the touch screen and the size, so it all averages out.
   I knew that some of these features were Internet driven, and that my provider charges me .01 cents per kilobyte of data. Now, at that rate, a megabyte would cost me about ten bucks. You can imagine how many Web sites are about one megabyte in size. Even if they were, that would be ten bucks per visit. Highway robbery! I swore I didn’t need or want such high-falootin’ gadgetry.
   But here’s my girl, breezing around on the ‘Net on her Wifi-equipped phone and yeah, it got to me. I also read about all the cool things you can do with Google Maps (one of my favorite things!) and the like and well, yeah, you guessed it. I signed up for a dadgum data access plan. It was very reasonably priced, compared to a BMW, anyway.
   Now, that should have been the end of it, right? Nope. Now I gotta get new glasses. That’s right. I can’t read the stinking print, even if I blow it up, and when I do, I hate scrolling left and right on the screen to reach each line. So now I gotta go get new glasses. And these are only three years old!