29 August 2018
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Special Cellphone Issue

It All Began With the Wrong Pants

If you're a friend friend and not a "friend" friend, you know I'm a T-shirt and jeans kind of guy. Which isn't to say I don't have pants of different persuasions, including shorts, suit, and even something called "corduroy" whose spelling I had to verify and whose name origin I suspected is French (which Wikipedia tells me is a "false etymology"). I have to be careful when I wear alternative pants. I can't wipe my soldering iron tip on them for fear of increasing the hole count. I have to pay attention to lumpy pocket items since sometimes I have to wear an alternative shirt as well, which must be "tucked" into the pants, thus exposing the pockets to view. Apparently lumpy pockets are unsightly, or so I have been advised.

But this isn't about my occasional sartorial splendor. Rather, it's about a cellphone occurrence. This is a special cellphone issue of the RIKLblog, right?

While I was wearing alternative pants, I reached into my pocket for my cellphone. The pocket was in a different and unfamiliar location. Instead of grasping the cellphone in my manipulative appendage, I sort of squeezed it out of the pocket, at which point the phone succumbed to the wiles of gravity. It would have fallen to the center of the earth had it not been for the concrete pavement a few feet below, which rapidly decelerated it and caused it to break.

A Bit of Googling Later

I found a repair shop that was, unaccountably, part of a Federal Express store, although apparently run by Samsung, the phone's manufacturer. It was within walking distance. I brought it to them after carefully removing my 256GB memory card that contains the bulk of my precious media and went phoneless into the night. (Actually it was daytime and they promised I could have it back in a couple of hours. I may be bad at suspense but at least I have a flair for the dramatic, albeit a clichéd one.)

A couple of hours later, I sustained a landline call from the repair shop asking a question you never want to hear from anyone, ever. "What's your cellphone password."

Recovering swiftly, I asked why they needed to know. They told me they wanted to recover my backup.

"WHAT?" I responded. I refrain from using a much larger, bolder, and colorful font in retelling this story.

It seems that somehow, on replacing some cracked glass on my otherwise undamaged and fully functional phone, they had managed to erase not just my data and security code, they had even downgraded the Android OS to the previous version. Clearly they didn't hire ordinary idiots there.

Long story short, after some baleful glances from me and some abject apologies from the manager, they "compensated" me for their malfeasance with an explanation and some money. The explanation, less than fully satisfactory, was "that happens sometimes." The money not so coincidentally was equal to the amount that the repair would have cost.

But What a Nuisance!

I'm not the biggest cellphone nerd on the planet. I haven't "rooted" my device, neither have I spent hours divining the possibilities inherent in the hundreds of pages of manual or the Android operating system. But I'm enough of a techie that I fill my phone with a vast music library, a carefully curated photo collection, and a bunch of other information that I find convenient to have with me and that I don't want to store in the cloud, either because of gigabytage for which I'd have to pay or because of security for which I might have hell to pay were it breached.

Call me profligate: It would have been so much trouble to reconstitute the repaired phone from the data on my PCs that to avoid later repeating the experience I just bought a newer model.

Which Might Be My Last Phone for a While

The Samsung Galaxy S9+, which I purchased, is now over half a year old. Since I got it, both Samsung (Note 9), Apple (iPhones various), and others have announced newer and "better" phones. None of them seem to have any compelling improvements either in their cameras or other features I might find useful.

  • The Note 9 touts a full terabyte of memory, but despite my perpetual whining about memory capacity, the S9+ with 256GByte memory card is sufficient until it can be used as a PC, DeX notwithstanding.
  • Samsung has hinted about a folding phone that might be interesting.
  • The Light Camera, while intriguing, doesn't seem ready for photography, much less phone integration, based on the reviews I have read.
  • Google's phone may have better artificial intelligence.

And I'm a gadget lover! No wonder real people are replacing the smartphones less frequently.

Verizon and the Irritating Plan

I have been a Verizon customer for decades. Coverage and inertia. All the carriers are irritating in their own and probably similar ways. My current irritation is occasioned by the so-called "unlimited data" offering, in which if you exceed your paid allotment, your connection is slowed. Why? Well, greed, of course, but isn't there some way to make it less annoying? I've signed up for a plan in which I normally use most of my data. When I use less, I could be annoyed that I'm paying for more than I need. If I use more, I'm annoyed because the slower-loading increment wastes my time.

I wonder if Portia Plan is related to Ned Numeral. Isn't there some way that the enormous Verizon corporation could find a different way to sell data? For example, and I know this is sophisticated enough to require more than one abacus, they could charge you for the data you use? For example—follow me closely here—let's say that an incremental gigabyte of data costs $10. Why not charge $1.00 for 100 megabytes, $.10 for 10MB and 4 cents for 4MB.They could fire Portia Plan; the money they save on her salary alone would pay my bill, should they decide to credit me for the suggestion.

There's so much more to say about this subject, including the fairly rapid descent to free data, much as "long distance" has become thus. I'll spare you.

Cell Phone Insurance

Every time I buy a new phone, they try to sell me "insurance." Do I need to tell my sophisticated millireaders how bad a deal that is? Yes, I do! It's a very bad deal. Only buy insurance if you're unusually clumsy. I'm only ordinarily clumsy, and despite the breakage incident mentioned above, and another one where the floor of an Apple store broke my Note 5*, I have saved much more on insurance than the repairs cost. You will, too. In fact you probably have already.

The Best/Worst Thing About Cell Phones

Best: They are miniature miracles. And getting better. I wish Microsoft hadn't dropped the Windows Phone. If it had the same electrical specifications as the Note 9, I probably would use it as my PC and just have displays and keyboards at different locations.

Worst: Almost everybody can afford them and almost everybody has one. It's getting harder to think of anything remotely useful that can belong only to me.

An Apology

Notwithstanding the notional August date on this blogitem, I've been extraordinarily dilatory about posting it. I ain't nothin' but a sloth. Sorry.

* Gravity again. And a tile floor. Somehow the store knew I was an Android user.

Richard Factor

"Greenback Dollar"
The Kingston Trio




No claims of ignorance today. This is a T-shirt with the Collins "meatball" logo, representing the glory days of ham radio. Everyone aspired to obtain the ultimate "rig," the Collins S-line. I never had one. Too expensive then, obsolete now, although there are plenty of hobbyists who still use them for reasons of nostalgia.

A famous and well respected logo even today.

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