Office-Bob Archives: May 2003


Geek Viagra, how I love thee


As you may recall from my May 16th entry I was having some doubts as to my geekiness because I had been reluctant to upgrade to a new cellphone, because I wasn't interested in bells and whistles like text messaging, websurfing and the like.

Well I received my new phone and accessories over the last two days (of course the accessories showed up the day before the phone), and I have to admit that I'm starting to get excited.

After the initial "how the hell do I turn this thing on?" moment, I contacted my service provider and got the phone activated; then, it was time to RTFM (yes, sometimes I actually do read the manual, okay?) and get to work. Hmm, let's see what this bad boy can do:

1) Different ring tones -- well, I'm not too interested in this because I've always hated those cutesy-pie ring tones -- I mean, if I want to listen to the "William Tell Overture," I'd much rather enjoy an actual performance by a full orchestra.

2) Longer standby battery life -- okay, this is good -- the difference between the old and new phones are probably a combination of the age of my old phone/batteries and advances in technology, but I like it no matter the reason.

3) Different user profiles -- I can configure different notification options so if I'm in a meeting, calls will be handled differently that if I want it in pager mode. Pretty nice!

4) Vibrating alert -- This was one of the big selling points for the phone, and it's nice to know it's built-in and doesn't rely on a vibrating battery.

5) Alphabetical listing of numbers -- my old phone tracked numbers by the order in which they were entered, so searching for a specific number was hit or miss or, in other words, C didn't always come after A and B.

6) Call groups -- I can assign numbers to particular groups, and then decide if I want the phone to ring if someone from that groups tries to call me; perfect for the people you don't always want to talk to, but who you have to be able to contact every now and then.

6) Voice dialing -- I can record voice tags for up to 20 numbers to have hands-free dialing -- and in my preliminary testing it works very well; even numbers with similar voice tags (Mary Cell, Mary Work) are selected correctly.

Suddenly, I feel a stirring in my loins...could it be -- yes, I think it is -- I'M TURNED ON BY THIS PHONE!

Oh baby, I'm ready to start installing the car holder and get going on hands-free calling -- I mean, there's even a button on the headset that allows me to answer calls or activate the voice freaking kewl is THAT?

Damn, it feels good to be a geeksta!


Oh, for the life of a Luddite

Those of you who remember my April 11th screed about pagers, billing, and paranoia won't be surprised to hear that I'm still getting pages telling me that there's a problem with my account, but now at least there's a light at the end of the tunnel: it seems that an $8 charge from 2001 (?) made its way onto my account and that's what's been setting off the automated dunning notices; since there's nothing in their system to explain why the charge appeared, they've cancelled it and the messages should stop coming.

That's not why I've written this entry, however.

During my multiple calls to the wireless company, I ended up talking to a very nice person by the name of Nancy, who informed me that I was eligible for a phone upgrade because I'd had my phone since -- well, since at least 2001.

My phone needs are rather simple; I don't need text messaging, I'm not interested in playing games on my phone, and I certainly don't want to surf the Web on a tiny little screen. I only have my phone on when I'm making a call or expecting one; if people want to contact me, they can either leave a message at work or home or they can page me (and if my phone is off, it redirects to my pager anyway).

Were it not for the fact that they don't make batteries for my phone anymore I wouldn't even have considered getting a new one, but between the discount offer and the fact that sooner or later my phone was going to need to be replaced -- well, I started to waver.

Nancy wasn't supposed to recommend a particular model since they offer different brands, but she told me about one that she thought was quite nice. I did some research and compared it to other phones, and it looks like it'll do what I need -- and it has a vibrating feature, which is something I'd wanted for a while (my current phone doesn't have this feature built-in; it requires a vibrating battery -- no rude comments please! -- which are no longer being made, hence my having to think about getting a new phone in the first place). It has games that I won't play, and it has text messaging that I won't use, but it appears to be a good, (relatively) simple phone that'll do what I need -- so I went ahead and ordered it; it should arrive sometime next week.

Now, though, I'm faced with a question that I don't have an answer for: why is it that for some items like a computer, digital camera or DV camcorder I'll buy a model that does more than I need at the moment, but for things like cellphones and PDAs I'm interested in basic functionality and nothing else?

Hey, I'm a guy, and a technoweenie at that -- I have a home office full of electronic gear and I can troubleshoot a PC with the best of them, so why am I not interested in an internet-enabled cellphone? Am I a genetic freak that doesn't feel the primal urge to engage in penis measuring when I encounter another technomage? Do I have an extra Y chromosome? Did my mom ingest toxic waste when she was pregnant with me?

Dammit, I can spend hours at Home Depot drooling over power tools (I know, I don't use my circular saw that much but when I need one, I really need it) but I'm not into watching sports on TV. How can I ever hope to reconcile these conflicting aspects of my personality?

I'm not 100% sure, but until I can figure this out I think I may have to tear up my geek membership card.