Technology, thy name is frustration. As one who remembers the era in which one simply picked up the receiver of one’s heavy cast metal black telephone (which could’ve doubled as a defensive weapon) and told the operator the name of the party one was calling, I can only marvel at today’s smart phones — any one of which has more raw processing power than the computer in the spacecraft that took men to the moon and back.
Unlike most of the rest of the universe (particularly the teenagers/twenty-somethings), I am a muchly tardy adopter of smart phone technology.
Were it not for the infuriatingly abysmal service of my former cell phone carrier, which shall remain nameless (OK, a hint: it starts with an A and ends with a T), I would still be perfectly happy with my seven-year-old Motorola Razr phone, which, when I bought it, was cutting edge technology. Sleek, slim, with a dash of Star Trek communicator, it took up little room in my pocket and it had a couple of features I really liked: voice activated dialing (“Office,” I would say, and it would magically dial my office), and to answer a call, all I had to do was flip it open and start talking.
It served me well almost every place I went — except, maddeningly, at my house, where I could never get a signal consistent enough to carry on a conversation. One would think, living within spittin’ distance of the largest university in my state, where everyone and his dog has the latest iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, or other “smart” device, that one could simply stick one’s finger in the air and get a 5-bar signal. Hardy-har.
I complained to my nameless carrier (which starts with an A and ends with a T) until I was blue in the face. To no avail. Finally, in a fit of rage after the umpteen-thousandth call, of which only about 2 percent was intelligible, I told my nameless carrier (which begins with an A and ends with a T) to stuff it, signed with another provider, and in the process got a smart phone.
The new device is, admittedly, far smarter than I am (the online manual is almost 200 pages of geeky instructions); however, need not to worry, my 7- and 8-year old granddaughters, who play with their parents’ phones, can demonstrate for me, with the greatest of ease, the workings of any function or app.
With the obligatory protective case, the slab of phone takes twice as much room in my pocket, and to make or receive a call requires more steps and touch screen punching than my former phone.
But hallelujah!, I can now actually carry on a conversation without wondering what were the 98 words of every 100 that I missed because of the crummy to non-existent signal from my former nameless carrier (which begins with an A and ends with a T).
I still have a somewhat tenuous relationship with Siri, the phone’s built-in voice-activated “personal assistant,” which, in TV commercials, is ever so eager to provide whatever information one may desire. (“Will it snow today?” the cherubic little boy asks, gazing wistfully out the window, and Siri responds ever so cheerily, “Yes, I think it will snow today.”)
For me, though, “she” comes across as somewhat snarky and condescending — much like the faceless customer service (hardy-har) people at my nameless former provider (did I hint that it begins with an A and ends with a T?).