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Journal mcgrew's Journal: The phone

About a year ago Amy drunkenly and absentmindedly walked off with my phone. She gave it back with the screen broken off. Which meant no internet, texts, voicemail, pictures, nothing left but speakerphone, which mean it could no longer live in my pocket. It was in essence a 1970s landline.

I went to one of the local Boost stores for a replacement. I liked that phone and wanted another just like it. No such luck -- they'd stopped making it. I'd have to buy a stripped down dumbphone or carry a purse or holster because all the new non-dumb phones were way too big to fit comfortably in a jeans pocket.

So I got out my older phone and tried to get it reconnected. Its battery had died which is why I'd replaced it, but the broken phone had an identical battery so it would be fine.

Again, no luck. The site informed me that the old phone wouldn't work on my "shrinkage" plan. Shit. So I haven't had a cell phone for a year now.

When Patty came to visit, I noticed that her iPhone wasn't humungous like the Androids, and it would actually fit in a pocket not too uncomfortably.

A couple of weeks later (last Saturday) when I went to pay the bill online, one of the usual ads for phones their site always has caught my eye -- they had a Kyocera Edge for what seemed like a ridiculously low price, just a little over a hundred dollars. I looked into it further. The same size as Patty's iPhone, gorilla glass, waterproof, GPS, wi-fi, Bluetooth, a CPU as fast as my three year old notebook, 2 gigs of memory (in the early eighties only mainframes sported so much memory), 5.5 megapixel camera, Android 4.4... I got out my credit card and ordered one, completely forgetting about my phone bill.

Sunday's email had a confirmation of the order. Two smartphones would be there in three working days. Two? God damn it, I'm trying to get my credit number higher and try not to use that card too much (high balances lower your score). I emailed them, and the response was that I'd have to call Monday.

This was the first time Boost had pissed me off. I credited the error to Murphy and Hanlon. I headed to Felbers for a beer. Mike asked how I was doing. "Except for the damned phone company, pretty good."

"Tell me about it," he said. Felbers hadn't had a phone, a working juke box, or wifi for weeks. Some long distance company he'd never heard of was tacking extra charges on his AT&T bill. Their customer support said after he paid the bill they'd refund the charges and he'd told them to fuck off. He'd gotten wifi and the jukebox back (maybe he switched to ComCast, he didn't say).

Monday the lady at the help desk said to just drop the unopened phone off at a FedEx office. Damn it, what's the point of internet shopping if you still have to drive?

Wednesday evening when I got home from work there was a box on my front porch. Yay! I had a phone again! The old Motorola was going to live in a drawer in the kitchen as a backup in case the Kyocera got broken or stolen.

I went online to activate it, and the site was clunky like it was being slashdotted or DOSed. It said that I would have to make a slight adjustment to my plan. I deselected the extra $5 per month international calling; never had it before and have no use for it now. When the process was done it still wouldn't activate. Damn! I'd forgotten to pay the bill. So I got out my credit card again.

It still wouldn't activate it, even though the site now said that my bill wasn't due until next month, because I'd just paid it. It also said I'd been charged that five dollar international calling fee.

Never attribute to stupidity when greedy self-interest explains.

The next morning I called Boost again, from work, because I didn't have a working phone at all. I was on the phone with the guy for two hours trying to get it to work, and he finally said that the phone must be defective. He at least got that extra fiver off my bill and credited to my account.

I went home on break to get the phone I was going to return. I opened it, swapped batteries with the defective phone and called Boost again. Ten minutes later I had a working phone.

That interface is going to take some getting used to, and although I've been thinking about getting a tablet, I changed my mind. Leila had wanted a tablet so I bought her an Android for her birthday. Typing on that flat screen is even harder than typing on the old phone's tiny qwerty keyboard. I'll stick to my old notebook.

I went to the Google Play store to get an app that would let me listen to KSHE on it, and gave up -- too much damned typing registering an account. I'll just have Leila download it for me when I see her tomorrow, she has an account already. So when I listen to KSHE I'll probably get ads for video games and anime.

Some of the settings are damned hard to find. What you get from "settings" varies according to where you are when you set it. Frustrating.

I'd liked how it gave the temperature as well as the time, except this morning I pulled it out before my break to see how warm it was getting. It said 88 degrees, which couldn't possibly be right -- that was the high temperature yesterday. So I pulled up the Weather Channel on the computer. It was 64.

I'd shut off the GPS, which it needed for the weather widget because I think Google stalking me is just spooky. Now I can't figure out how to turn it back on.

Oh, well, it's better than my old phone's interface, that I think was designed by a bunch of drunken thirteen year olds. Even Microsoft has better programmers than Motorola!

OK, it's Sunday now. The phone thinks I'm Leila and I can't figure out how to change it, how to delete a bookmark, and it looks like Boost has really locked it down because they've removed the ability to sideload apps. I have a lot of learning to do, the skimpy manual is worthless, and the Android site will tell you what you can do with it but not how to. I'm still searching for a real manual.

After lunch yesterday I took Leila home, slipped the adaptor into the car's cassette player (it's 11 years old, no bluetooth or wifi, just radio, tape, and CD) and plugged it into the phone. KSHE sounded hollow and tinny, like an old Real Audio file played over good speakers and headed to Felbers, where Oakie was slated to be DJing.

I got a beer and went out to the beer garden; the weather was beautiful yesterday. The phone wasn't very loud so I got the little sound bomb out of the glove box.

PJ has no permanent home. He does construction work but spends all his money on booze and drugs. In the winter he usually works for landlords getting houses ready to rent and crashes there. He was hauling stuff out of the box trailer when Rachel showed up. She's Mike's daughter and part owner. "Rearranging the furniture in your house, PJ?" she said.

PJ laughed. "Nah, I'm cookin' for Mike today." The grills were stored in the shed-like trailer.

I got another beer and looked at the phone - the battery was holding up pretty good. About the time the grills stopped smelling like lighter fluid Oakie showed up, dragging another box trailer behind his giant Ford pickup truck and started hauling out equipment. Wow, that's a lot of amps and speakers for a DJ system; two racks of four amps each.

I finally figured it out when they started assembling the drum kit.

Oakie's band was pretty good. I videoed about three songs before completely filling up the phone. 720p video takes a lot of storage!

After I had a few cups of coffee this morning Kyocera's web site said that with Windows all I had to do to transfer files from the phone was to connect them with USP and it would show up as a drive, so I plugged the phone into the notebook. It saw that the phone was a drive, but it wanted me to insert a disk into the phone. Figures.

So I tried bluetooth. There's a bluetooth dongle in the Linux box and it had no trouble pairing with the old Motorola. It saw the phone just fine but tried to pair seemingly forever. I'll see if the tether works on the Linux box, but the tether is only a yard long so the phone will have to be on top of the computer.

I'll dig out that other dongle later and see if it will pair with the notebook. I'll try again with the Linux box, it's been a while since I used that feature.

I'm probably holding it wrong. Oh, wait, it's not an Apple...

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The phone

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I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.