March 31st, 2005

Added Features

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.

11 Comments on “Added Features”

  1. The Obscure says:

    Nertz? Oh, yeah. Nertz

  2. The Obscure says:

    We bought a cordless phone for the house that is 3.something gigaherz in (frequency?). The base is in the kitchen and if I am in the family room 30 feet away and I get more static than I think I'd get if I were sealed in a lead box and buried in the backyard. Is that how you spell "bought"?

  3. I love call waiting says:

    I'd just like to take this moment to say, I'd BETTER not be receiving a text message in lieu of an actual birthday card!

  4. MadMup says:

    TO – yeah, nertz. And you spell "bought" "bought."

    ILCW – Well, of course the receiver must be taken into consideration when deciding the best course of action on birthdays.

  5. Meags says:

    I enjoy call waiting, as a girl who spends hours and hours talking to a certain boy on the phone — what if my mom had to get in touch with me during a marathon phone conversation?

  6. Pixel says:

    I'm never on the phone long enough to need call waiting, but if I was chatting with a friend, and I got an urgent call- I'd be glad I had call-waiting.

    You forgot Caller ID on the list. By far an AWESOME invention.

    I only get calls from about… three people that aren't my mom. And that's pushing it.

  7. MadMup says:

    Argh! I totally meant to talk about Caller ID!

    I must be getting old.

  8. Kim says:

    I get calls from 1 person. Sometimes 2.

    As for your mob story, that happened to me. I was on the phone with Scott and I let my brother switch over to use the other line really quick to let his friend know he was on his way to his house. Well, he got the answering machine (friend was in the shower), left a quick message, and flipped back over. 3-way was initiated and Scott and I didnt know it. The worst part about it? Because it was an answering machine, the conversation was recorded.

    Also, I hate answering machines because I am so horribly awkward when leaving a message.

  9. John Clark says:

    Oh, yeah, the "assign different songs to groups of people" feature is great. One song, hey,it's a member of my family!-jump to answer it—another song,it's someone from work…maybe check it later. :)
    Also, I don't need to pull the phone out of my pocket to see who's calling.

  10. hp says:

    My phone rings so rarely that when it does start off on it's annoying (and loud, in case someone phones at 3am) ring I have a good 10 seconds of trying to figure out which button I press to answer it.

    I hate call waiting and always used to ignore the second call.

  11. Meags says:

    I share a landline with my roommate, and she's very chatty. She spends most of her waking time on the phone, actually. Call waiting = good thing. It's nice to see the phone bill and be like "heh, none of those long distance charges are for me! glee!"

    I do miss my cell phone though. However, I don't miss how bad the reception was.

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