Thursday, October 11, 2007

Cell Phone Curses, or: Inventions Waiting to Happen

Awhile back I read a great book, Why Things Bite Back, by Edward Tenner, about the unintended effects of new technologies. Until we use new technologies, we don't see how they will apply to our lives; once we begin to change our habits by utilizing them, new challenges result. One example that stuck with me was the so-called paperless office. Turns out many people don't really trust online record keeping, so we actually generate MORE paper than before the computer age.

I joined the cellphone crowd kicking and screaming. My cellphone scared me for the first year or so - I never knew exactly how to use it, but I did warm up to it as I began to see how convenient it was. When the family went out together to run errands, we could be more efficient by splitting up, and we could still find each other. On vacation or when walking, I could fill downtime with check-in calls. And of course the familiar letting people know when I'd be arriving, by calling them en route. These uses are imperfect, of course - sometimes you can't reach the other person or lose service.
However, the most common curse is losing the cell phone altogether. My daughter and I have each lost them twice, at home or in the car. Suddenly your life is upside down - mini-crisis! This is the first invention waiting to happen, a cell phone locater. Can't they put something in a cellphone that would make a CellPhoneFinder beep when the phone is in proximity? Once the phone was under the prom dress, carefully laid out on a bed. We looked in the house for days, but if we'd had a cell phone geiger counter, it would have beeped in the hall and led us to it. LIkewise, mine cell was in the car, wedged in between the seats. The CPGD would have gone crazy as soon as we opened the car door. If this does exist, please tell us all.

A related mini-crisis: we all become more cell-dependent by adding ever more of our contacts' cell phone numbers, without having any backup - so a cellphone number backup system is sorely needed. I recently traveled to Boston where the plan was for me to call my friend when I got there. I didn't bother to write down her phone number and then, you know what happened: my cell died, with her number in it. I stopped at the airport WIreless store to find out how to download my numbers into hard copy. (I know some cells are in sync with laptops, but I'm not there yet.) The answer is that no technology exists to read numbers off your simcard (the little fingernail size chip inside the computer where the numbers are stored.) Hard to believe! We got my phone working again, but upon my return I manually copied all my numbers onto a heavy notecard for safekeeping. There has to be a better way! Likewise, if there is, let us know that, too.

5 comments:

Penny Nickel said...

When I lose a cellphone, I just walk around every place I can think of while calling its number on another cell phone until I hear it ringing. It's always worked for me so far!

MoneyChangesThings said...

yes, this is the way to go if you realize it's missing immediately and you know the immediate vicinity where. However, if doesn't work once the cellphone's battery is dead (which happens after a day or so), if the phone is off or on vibrate, or if you lose it offsite - all of which have happened to us! An many other millions of people!

plonkee said...

I think you want one of these:

http://www.iwantoneofthose.com/usb-sim-card-reader/index.html

MoneyChangesThings said...

Plonkee, this is so cool! Are they available in the states?
When I asked about this in the wireless store, they said they had used a gizmo (gizmo, widget, whatever) and it actually WIPED OUT THE DATA ON THE SIMCARD, so they didn't recommend it! It would be a scary experiment. Seems like this is the sort of service they could offer at the mobile/cell stores, so we don't have to each buy another widget....

Chava Gal-Or said...

Cell phones are a bit of enigma to me. Can't live with them; can't live with out them. I held out until 6 years ago when my father was dying and I was without my family for a bit. I was so inept that I didn't set up the voicemail until after I went to New York to meet a friend--Unfortunately, I never met up with him because I couldn't reach him and didn't know how to retrieve any messages. I was certain something came up with him because I knew he would never blow me off.

I look forward to writing a comical piece about cell phones and how most people struggled to adat to them in the beginning. A definte comedy would be enjoyed by all!