Archive for Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Using a ‘dumb’ phone

May 30, 2012

Recently, I saw a strange-looking symbol in an advertisement and it was explained to me that I could scan it with my smart phone and download a coupon which I could use when paying. All of that seemed simple enough except that I don’t have a smart phone. All I have is a “dumb” phone that can ring when I have an incoming call and can allow me to communicate at anytime. Well, that is, if I remember to keep it charged.

The modern phone isn’t just for communication it is an entertainment center providing music, news, directions and who knows what more. It is even a excellent camera that can make anyone a reporter.

I will admit that sometimes I have “phone envy” when I see the magic that the new phones can do. For example, last fall I was at a Free State football game watching my grandson play and commented that I wondered how Bonner Springs was doing. No problem – my son-in-law whipped out the magic box and quickly reported that Bonner Springs was ahead at half time. I had to marvel and feel a little bit of jealousy since the only way I could get the score was by calling someone who was at the game. I have mentioned the stock market to a person at a break during a meeting. In just a couple of seconds he said the ‘Dow was up by 19 points.” Yes I certainly felt out of the loop.

Now to call my trusty cell phone “dumb” isn’t really right. It can do a lot of things my previous phones couldn’t. When it rings, I can see whose calling and if it is a motorized wheel chair company, I can disregard it. If I miss a call, it can record a voice mail or give me the telephone number of the person calling. Yes, there are lots of things it can do but it isn’t smart and it can’t give me the news of the day.

I am one of a dwindling number of persons who have a landline telephone. It also does about what the cell phone does and, personally, I think it has a better sound quality. I am also listed in the phone book, so if anyone is looking for me I can be found. I suspect that the telephone book as we know it will soon be as extinct as a dinosaur. You will have all the numbers you need to know recorded on your cell phone or you will go to the trusty inter-net to find the person you want to call.

One of the new innovations “Caller ID” has stopped a lot of shenanigans. Do you remember when kids would call with a question such as “is your refrigerator running?” When you answered “yes” you would get the smart aleck remark, “you better catch it before it gets away.” Now you simply look at Caller ID and you would know who was doing the harassing.

Another innovation I like is the ability to leave a message when someone isn’t at home. I remember a decade ago when I was coaching Kerry Roberts Basketball, I would call about practice times and if no one was at home I would leave a message. In the long ago days, I remember make a bunch of call backs to try to set and reschedule practice times.

One thing always surprises me and it is the person with the cell phone ear piece. You hear the guy talking and it takes a second to realize that he isn’t talking to himself. Of course when was the last time you saw a teen-ager who didn’t have a phone in his or her hand. If people aren’t talking on the phone they are texting. Yes, communication is rapid and accessible now. Of course there are dangers when folks text or talk on cell phones when speeding along at 75 miles per hour.

You know, the telephone has come a long ways just in my lifetime. When I was first taught to use the phone you would give the number to an operator who would “plug it in” for you. The system lasted for years and could work well. Sadly, in 1912 in Bonner Springs, the operator was sleeping on the job when a fire emergency call came in. The city marshal had to break in to wake up the operator and sound the fire alarm. The Chieftain reported the building was destroyed before the fire department arrived. There was no mention of the operator’s fate, but I would imagine she was looking for a new job.

I doubt that Alexander Graham Bell, the telephone’s inventor had any idea about the versatility and ease of operation of the modern unit. At the time of its invention, the telephone was thought of as one of the wonders of the world. Originally, only the wealthy could afford a telephone, but with the introduction of party lines and increased service areas, by the 1950s, telephones were in most homes. Now, most of us have multiple units.

I have been thinking about upgrading my- cell phone, but there is a problem --I’m not knowledgeable enough to ask the right questions. I’m sure there is a new unit which would fit my needs, if I knew what my needs are. Maybe I’ll ask my grandchildren to give me a lesson in “modern phoneology.” In the meantime, I will struggle along with my “dumb phone.”

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