More phone stuff… You’ve been warned.
It used to be that phones were pretty simple: you called someone and the phone either rang or you got a busy signal. If it rang, they either answered or they didn’t, in the which case you could let it ring a hundred times if you wanted.
They were simpler times, but people wanted more.
First, people were stuck to where the phone was connected. Even a longer cord still meant you had to worry about it getting twisted or decapitating someone who was running through the house too quickly. The answer, of course, was to go cordless. With the early ones, you couldn’t go very far, and the person on the other end could usually tell you were on a cordless phone, but it cut down on the beheadings. The cordless phones have gotten better, and there are cordless phones that let you walk a mile or better with a decent connection still. I’m all in favor of that, but why not just get:
A cell phone. The ultimate cordless. Go anywhere, and nertz to the base station part of it. Drive, eat, annoy people – these are just some of the things people can do while on a cell phone. They’re a blessing and a curse, I think. A cell phone’s the only thing I have, phone wise, but I do like the fact that I can shut it off occasionally.
Phones (both cell and landline) have tons of “features” these days:
- Call Waiting – the most hateful and deplorable invention ever conceived of by mankind. Jerry Seinfeld used to talk about losing the “phone face-off.” You’re on the phone with someone, they get a call on the other line, and when they get back, they tell you they “really need to take this” and you’re done. That’s it. How depressing to realize you’re not the most important person in their life, even if you already knew it. Confirmation can be a terrible thing. I actually don’t really mind if other people use call waiting. It’s fine. I don’t even mind losing the face-off, but I won’t use call waiting. Especially not since there’s
- Voicemail – Best. Invention. Ever. Answering machines were cool, but only worked if you weren’t on the phone already. Now, if you’re on the phone or you’re not, voicemail picks up. Sweet! This is my favorite phone feature of the last 300 years, aside from the actual invention of the phone.
- Three-Way Calling – a cool idea, but potentially embarrassing, especially tied in with the call-waiting. Let’s say you’re a Mob boss and you’re ordering a hit on a guy. Let’s call him “Al.” While you’re on the phone with Jimmy “Fishface” Garbanza, Al calls on the other line. You switch over, talk to Al for a few seconds, then tell him you need to go and switch back over to Jimmy…only you don’t. Instead, you accidentally initiate three-way calling and Al learns about your plans. Then he “flips,” becomes a witness for the government, and brings down your whole organization. See? Bad idea.
- Text messaging – now we’re getting into the realm of “cell phone only” features. This is a good one, too. Want to send someone a note but don’t have the time for a conversation? Text them! “Hpy Brthdy 2 U” can be a worthy replacement for an actual birthday card in this Internet age, and (in my opinion) can be better. I mean, it shows you’re thinking about them right at that minute. A card means “I knew your birthday was coming up, so I got this and sent it to you several days before your birthday.”
- Camera phones – not really a phone feature, more a merging of two neat things. Now I have a camera with me wherever I have my phone with me, which is pretty much anywhere. Now I can take a picture of the truck with “I have magical kung fu powers” painted on it the minute I see it, rather than trying to describe it later to people.
- Games – having a portable game system (Game Boy, PSP, etc.) us great, but not necessarily the handiest thing to carry around. Having a simple game or two on your hone is quite possibly the handiest thing in the world. Standing in line? Play a few holes of golf. In the waiting room at the doctor’s office? Bowl a little. There are even phones that are being marketed (though not very well) as gaming platforms that allow for multiplayer gaming between phones. Mortal Kombat in the parking lot after church probably isn’t the best choice, but is at least an option now.
- Ring tones – I’m not sure why it’s so fun to have a specific ringtone for a particular person, but it is. I really only have one special ringtone for one person, a sort of chirping sound. Everyone else gets “Calico Skies” by Paul McCartney.
- All sorts of other things – cell phones can almost replace a PDA these days (especially if you get the cell phone/PDA combo units), what with the scheduling, alarm, and contact info capabilities they have. They are wonderful and everyone should have one.
Two over-long posts about phones. Weird for a guy who only gets calls from like, five people. Huh.