Outsmarted by my own phone
Minor MusingsI'm not a technophile but I try to keep pace with the 21st century. I like my computer and I've become quite adept at using it. I can program my microwave efficiently but still haven't quite mastered taping TV shows on my DVR. However, I did finally break down and buy a smart phone.
Published: May 23, 2010
Published: May 23, 2010
I had resisted for over a year, telling myself I really didn't need one, but then:
My kids, who live in three different states, all started texting me and wanting return messages, pronto. My cell phone was one of those with no keyboard, just three letters to each number. I could have driven to Alabama and back in the time it took to send one text.
I needed to make a cross-country trip and felt insecure about finding my way alone. I considered buying a portable GPS but they cost a bundle and only do one thing.
I wanted to be able to check websites and send messages while I'm watching TV.
I wanted to compare Bible verses in several translations from wherever I happen to be.
I wanted to consult a crossword dictionary from my living room as well as the airport, doctor's waiting room, etc.
I wanted a quick way to look up phrases in French, Spanish, and Italian so I could talk and interpret with friends from other cultures.
I wanted to check my email on the run without carrying my laptop and having to find times and places to hook it up wherever I go.
My smart phone does all these things and it fits right in my purse. The only problem is that it seems to require either a rocket scientist or a 14-year-old techie to operate the thing. Talk about complex! Even the manual, which you have to download from the Internet, is 50-some pages and, of course, was obviously written by someone who is not even a native speaker of English. It might as well be in Greek.
It took me a week to develop the right touch to make local calls without accidentally dialing Hong Kong. And just when I cleared that hurdle, the phone decided to automatically and unendingly redial the last person I talked to. This proved mildly amusing to friends and family the first few times, not so the 20th time. It got really embarrassing when the calls went to my doctor's office and downright scary when they went to a wrong number that belongs to one very angry tough-guy stranger.
I finally ironed out that problem, but there's still something quite disconcerting about a phone that's smarter than I am. When I'm typing a text message, it anticipates the next word, and it's usually right. When I open the application that checks what's showing at local theatres, it knows what type of films I'm interested in and doesn't even bother showing me the bloody horror flicks or animated kiddie movies that don't interest me. How cool/creepy is that?
The latest phone feature I've discovered is a game I downloaded called Teeter. It's sort of like pinball, extremely frustrating yet totally addicting.
My phone also takes both still pictures and video and can email either one to anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds - or rather it would if I knew how to make it do that.
And there's the real challenge. I could literally spend all day every day learning and practicing cool new things to do with my phone, and in the process never get anything else done.
The only thing more irritating is when the bill for this "service" is emailed directly to my phone, interrupting my game to remind me how much I'm paying for all this aggravation. Ah, the joys of life in the 21st century, teetering on the brink, outsmarted by my own smart phone.