Joe Lavin

August 22, 2003

From Computoredge Magazine

Who Needs to Play Tetris on a Cell Phone?

There are some days that I am just bored enough to take part in opinion polls. And so when I received a call to participate in a survey about cell phones, I gladly gave up 15 minutes of my time. Unfortunately, it was quite the humbling experience, because by the end of the call I realized exactly how out of touch I am.

Would you like to use your cell phone to receive e-mail? the woman on the other end asked cheerfully.

No, I just like to make phone calls with it.

Would you like to download new games with your cell phone?

No, I don't want to play games on my phone.

Would you like to view webcams with your cell phone?

No, I can't imagine wanting to do that.

Would you like to send text messages with your cell phone?

No, I'd rather just call the person.

Would you like to surf the web on your cell phone?

No, I can use my computer for that.

Would you like to take pictures with your cell phone?

No, I just really want to make phone calls and receive them occasionally.

And so the survey continued for a few more minutes. The questioner would cheerfully ask me about all the newest cell phone features that some hot shot had just dreamt up, and I would repeatedly shoot her down with a simple no. I felt bad. She seemed so excited about these features, and my responses contained no enthusiasm whatsoever. I don't mean to be such a Luddite. Technology actually does play a major part in my life, but really all I want out of my cell phone is the ability to make and receive phone calls. Is that so odd?

And, to be honest, I'm not all that excited with the part about receiving phone calls. Sometimes, I would rather just not be reached. I mainly have the cell phone because my girlfriend lives far away, and I can save on long distance bills with it. Often, to the amazement of many, I will carry the phone with me just in case I need to make a call, but I won't even bother turning it on when I leave the house.

About the only features I do use are voice mail -- which is ever so handy when you like to keep the phone off -- and the keyguard feature so that I won't accidentally call anyone when the phone is in my pocket. Before I figured out how to turn on the keyguard, my pocket had a peculiar habit of making phone calls to people in my address book. One day, my pocket somehow spent five minutes on the phone with a local taxi company. I'm not quite sure what they discussed.

As for the rest of the features, I could easily do without them. I don't even like to use call waiting. Somehow, I have always thought it was a little rude to put someone on hold. I don't really need my phone to have shiny colors. There is no need for it to light up. I don't want it to ring with the James Bond theme, Beethoven's Fifth, or Frosty the Snowman. I am a man of simple needs. If there were such a thing as a small rotary cell phone, I could probably get by with that.

My friend's phone even has voice activated dialing, which is just a little too Star Trek for me. He'll say simply "Cyn," and the phone will automatically dial his wife. Of course, he has to say it just right for the phone to understand, and by the third time he repeats "Cyn" into his phone he tends to look like an idiot. Somehow, this feature seems a little too dangerous for me. If I had voice dialing, I know I would be paranoid about accidental phone calls. My pocket already has a habit of making phone calls on its own. If I tell someone that I hate my boss, I really don't want my phone to be dialing my boss right then.

I know that wireless companies are trying to attract customers with all these new features, but I would prefer if they concentrated instead on making their networks better. Personally, I am sick of seeing the dreaded "Call is lost" message on my phone when I am in the middle of an important call, and I know I am not alone. A small game of Tetris on my phone does not solve that problem.

Of course, I suspect that I was one of the few to respond with such indifference to that survey, and I have come to accept this. If by chance your cell phone suddenly starts to play the James Bond theme in public, I promise that I will try not to glare at you.

©2003 Joe Lavin

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October 18, 1999
Always Accessible

I was given this new cell phone at work, but I'm starting to think it's defective. You see, it tends to ring a lot. Like, for example, I'll be minding my own business walking to lunch, and suddenly it'll just start ringing. Even worse, when I answer it, it'll often be someone asking me a question about work. I'm thinking of calling the manufacturer to see if they can fix it. It's really starting to bug me. ( More.... )