Saturday 01 Oct 2016

Mobile Phones
Matt Seinberg

I am constantly amazed at the advances in technology, and it’s amazing how far mobile phones have come from the plan as you can be handset hard wired to cars to the first cell phones made by Motorola, affectionately known as “The Brick.”

I remember my first phone, an analog black Motorola flip style that did nothing except make a receive calls. I was quite large by today’s standards, 6 inches tall and 2 inches thick with a pull out antenna. I think I paid AT&T about $35 a month for that service and hardly used it.

When that contract was up, I went with another company that no longer exists, MCI and paid around $30 per month. I also got my wife a phone at the time, and she hardly used it. She has always been technologically challenged, and still is to this day. The “free” phones we got were basic, and somehow I ended up with a Motorola analog StarTac, which was a third the size of the first phone I had.

Again, it did nothing special, but it was small and it fit nicely in any pocket. The problem is that reception in malls and large retail stores where I worked was spotty, and sometimes there was no signal. This was way back in the 1980s when we were all flush with money and consumption was conspicuous.

Then the industry started to change from analog to digital service, but that first generation digital phone had a tininess and a sometimes echo to it that could drive a person crazy. However, battery life was extended, as was reception.

Someone that worked for me had a digital StarTac that they were no longer using, so she gave it to me. Since I was still working in a mall, reception was still spotty, but better than before.

Let’s fast forward to 29 June 2007 when Apple released the first iPhone. History was changed, as was the way we dealt with everyday life. You could now have your life in the palm of your hand, along with games, news, information and thousands of songs.

People didn’t know that the needed the iPhone until Steve Jobs told them that they had to have it. That was his philosophy with all Apple products, with some being hits, and some being big misses.

Since then, all the major electronics manufacturers have come out with their own smart phones. Samsung is now involved in multiple lawsuits with Apple, each claiming that the other unlawfully used patents and technology.

I wrote a couple of years ago about my daughter Michelle getting a new cell phone and having Virgin Mobile as the carrier. Since then, many phones have some out with more and better features, and she wants one. This coincided with my blue RAZR having its volume control fall off, along with having its front case partially cracked.

The most important thing is it doesn’t do anything special, except letting me store music on a micro SD card: boring.

Off to the T-Mobile store we go, and Michelle picks out the new phone she wants. She earned the money this past summer to pay for the phone and one year of service, and we agreed on the amounts that she can spend on each. So now she can talk and text to her hearts content, and have no excuse at any time for not answering the phone when we call her.

Many of my friends make fun of me because of what has been called my “dinosaur phone.” Robin Marshall even told me to get into the 21st century. This is because I don’t text, only call, while she does the opposite. My sister Elyse is the same way; she doesn’t make phone calls; she only texts. So if and when I get a new phone, they will be the first two I use it text to.

But here’s the thing with smart phones, they turn people dumb! Most people are so intent on their texting; they neglect to see things like lamp posts, garbage cans and other people on the street or in stores when they are walking. It’s like waiting for an accident to happen, and having a good laugh when it does because you, the non-smart phone owner, knows something is going to happen.

Many work places do not allow employees to use their phones while working, and rightly so. You need to give full attention to the job, not the stuff that’s happening on the phone. The same rule applies in schools when kids are in classes. If they are caught using a phone, they are usually taken away, and a parent is called.

Maybe in a future column I’ll talk about the rules and etiquette of smart phone use, but for now this is enough. The two big rules to remember are always use a hands free device when talking in the car and no texting while driving.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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