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Thursday, April 27, 2006

My New Cell Phone

So yesterday I decided to upgrade my cell phone. For several reasons. The most important one is that my phone dies after 3 or 4 calls and is generally not very reliable. Also, I smashed the little plastic window in the front when I leaned over a counter in the ER...two years ago...and I've had a little piece of scotch tape over the top since then and it looks...unsophisticated. So I went into my not-terribly-local cell phone store and talked to a very informative young lady who proceeded to sell me a really nice little phone.

BTW I am not going to take this opportunity to rant about how out of control inappropriate cell phone usage has gotten recently and how you can't stand in line, take a cab, or cross the street without some moron yakking on about something completely unrelated to the situation around him or her and not paying attention while engaging in a dangerous activity like driving or operating heavy machinery, or how worried I am about the air around our brains being constantly criss-crossed by an increasing volume of radio-waves containing the most unimportant drivelous chatter, because I've already done so here, and the odds are, if you have a blog, I've done it on your blog too.

So, anyway, this phone I bought yesterday has several upgrades over my previous phone, the most important being that it's not broken. Yet. So it's got that going for it. But it also has....wait for it....A CAMERA!

Yes! This means I can now join the approximately one billion other cell phone users out there who can take grainy, blurry pictures of unidentifiable objects as they drive. Now, you're thinking, "Psychotoddler, you won't sell out. You've just told us how much you look down on other people who use their cell phones irresponsibly." Of course, you're right, I'm not going to subject you to pictures of other drivers picking their noses, because if you want to see that, you can just get stuck in traffic in your own town and look around a little.

But having a camera means that I can finally document all the little things that come up that I've had to describe in prose in the past. For example, not one hour after buying the phone, I took this shot:

Care to venture a guess as to what this is? Need a hint? Look here. A picture really is worth a thousand words. And now, I can also annoy my family and friends (if I had any) by sneaking up on them and taking poor quality pictures when they least expect it! Like this one of Iguana attempting to dry her hands in our new kitchen!

Of course, once you get the pictures ON to the phone, there is the little issue of getting them OFF of the phone. Because it would be more than a little inconvenient if I had to drive out to each of your homes and open up my phone so you could gaze at the tiny picture on its screen. Fortunately, my phone comes with Bluetooth functionality. So, theoretically, I should be able to connect it to my Bluetooth-enabled PDA and transfer the pictures that way.

WRONG! It doesn't work. Oh, the two devices can see each other. They just won't interact in any useful way. Much like me at a party, the two Bluetooth devices will see each other, shake hands, and then just stare at each other. That's pretty much where the conversation ends. The girl in the store told me that the phone companies disable a lot of the useful features, like the one that would have allowed me to use my laptop and my phone to surf the internet while I'm on the road. On the other hand, I can use Bluetooth to stick a headset in my ear and walk around looking like Lt. Uhura.

Ultimately, the only way to get the pictures off the phone is for me to email them to myself. Clunky, but it works. The phone has a few other useful features. As is becoming increasingly common in new appliances, it can take limited video. Get ready for some blurry, garbled, stuttering PT movies!

It also has limited speech recognition. This is nothing new. My old phone had voice dialing, too. But whereas my old phone made me record a voice tag to attach to a number, and then would try to match it up to a live voice command, this one can actually read written text on its own. This is not as good as it sounds. It recognized "Home" and "Office" pretty well (well, Ah-fiss and not Awe-fiss), but try as I might I could not get it to pronounce my wife's name, which starts with a Cha (as in "Channuka", not "Charo"). The closest match it could come up with was "Mom".

We won't even go there.


Eshet Chayil said...

Hey, at least you got your bluetooth to work. I've had mine in my purse for like 2 months saying I was going to take it to a srint store with my phone and have them do it for me. As for the pictures, not so sound braggy9 well, ahem, maybe just a lil) my phone is more of a ppc, and it has a REAL digital camera in it. So la di da, I get quality pics with the time stamp and everything. Although the novelty of it wears off really quick and you stop using it. The comcorder on phones is fun too, but I only use that like ever month or so, when of course I remember I have it and have the patience to deal with it.

Ezzie said...

Careful - most phone companies charge to e-mail pics/video off of them...!

Best time to take video clips - on long car trips. Especially of the speedometer at 100, until the driver takes his hands off the wheel to block the came-- GET YOUR HANDS BACK ON THE WHEEL YOU BUM!!!

Woah, sorry, flashback. :)

Doctor Bean said...


wanderer said...

Congratulations on your new phone. Now return it.

I'm actually half-serious. Judging from your story, I'm assuming you get your cell phone service from Verizon. The sales lady was only partially accurate - it is only ONE phone company that disables their Bluetooth, and that's Verizon. Why? Greed. With Bluetooth functioning as designed, you would be able to offload all those videos and pics for free, use it to connect your laptop on the road, etc. By disabling the Bluetooth, they can make a lot of dough at the expense of your frivoulous picture snapping (as Ezzie aluded to above). There is a class action lawsuit about this, see here.

So if you really are interested in using all those cool new features, I would port your cell phone service to another, less greedy carrier. I plan on doing so as soon as my contract is up in June. Now of course if Verizon is the only game in town in Milwaukee, you may have to stick with them just for the coverage...

And if you're not with Verizon, forgive my rant!

PsychoToddler said...

Very interesting. Actually, I use US Cellular, and I use it because I get unbelievably cheap rates and it runs through work, so technically, I pay for it as an expense (like my staff salaries).

But I believe you're right about them disabling the useful features. I pay 25 cents to email a picture. Although there is a function on the phone to email the video, this apparently is not supported so the only way to move the video is to buy a data card or a cable.

This phone wasn't really much more than the others she showed me, which also support similar features, and it seems to work much better as a phone than my last one.

But I plan to go back to the place this week and grill her over some hot coals. You think they'll mind?

wanderer said...

US Cellular is a CDMA carrier like Verizon - I guess the crippled Bluetooth is a CDMA thing.

I've heard good things about T-Mobile (a GSM carrier) at least in the L.A. area. If you are interested in enjoying all the Bluetooth features (also if you're considering a new car with a Bluetooth-enabled car phone - won't work well with the crippled Bluetooth-equipped CDMA phones), you might want to look at a GSM carrier in your area. I think you have a 30 day (?) trial period to return your phone and cancel your service (or transfer it).

By the way, everything you ever wanted to know about cell phones, service etc. is at http://www.howardforums.com/.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Whenever i confiscate a cameraphone from one of my students who's playing with it in class, i take an angry picture of my face and make it their background.

Sweettooth120 said...

25 cents to email your picture...you need a new plan!

Funny pic of the stall. You saw what I wrote today. Today, as I was staring at that sage advice, I had wished I had brought my phone with me so I could have taken a picture of it and then posted it online.

In regards to your previous posting, I too wondered why those cracks are so wide. I just don't understand the advantage of it. Is there an engineer out there that can explain it?

Samurai said...

Perhaps you can unlock the bluetooth features with a firmware upgrade or something.

A google search using your phone model and the apropriate keywords may point to the right direction.

cruisin-mom said...

I think life was easier when all you needed were 2 cans and a string

Eli said...

Regarding "grainy, blurry pictures," I believe it is for this reason that Dave Barry calls cellphone cameras "CrapCams"

Shira Salamone said...

Speaking of Lt. Uhura, remember Lieutenant John Matheson from "Crusade?" There's another one who always had a hand on his headset ear.

Ezzie said...

Oooh, wait! How'd you get the video onto your comp?!

PsychoToddler said...

Is someone asking me a



I went back to the store to express my displeasure, but the smart girl was off that day. However, the other salespeople told me that US Cellular does NOT support emailing video at this time. Nor does it support transfer via bluetooth. They suggested ordering a data transfer cable from Motorola.

"F*** that," I said. I went to Best Buy and got a mini-SD card(which I can use for other phones or devices) and a card reader and transfered the file to my computer.

Then I realized that my computer couldn't read the file, which is in .gp2 format. So that led to HOURS of downloading various programs to try to convert it to .mov or .mpg or .avi format, and none of them seemed to work.

More internet research led me to the understanding that Quicktime reads .gp2 files, which was odd, because I had tried it with Quicktime and it still didn't work. I thought maybe the file was corrupted, but it still worked fine in the phone and I kept re-transferring it.

Finally I installed a new version of Quicktime and it read it just fine. So I used Youtube to upload the file and it converted it to flash for me, but as you can see, it's a little dark. Google video, BTW, doesn't support .gp2 files.

So the next step would be to find something that can convert and refine the film so it looks better on a computer. You could ask, "is it worth the effort, especially since you already have a video camera and a still camera that can take video?"

Not as such, but it's a good technical exercise for me and I've learned an unbelievable amount about Cell phones and mobile media over the past week. Plus, I don't carry around a movie or video camera with me, and I never know when something Psychotoddlerworthy will pop up.

Ezzie said...

Thanks! Except... how'd you get it from the phone to the card?

PsychoToddler said...

With this phone, if you put a card in, when you view your movie (on the phone), you get an option in the menu to "move" it to the card. Also, you can select the preferred storage device as an option.

Ezzie said...

Oh, a fancy phone. :( I guess I'm still stuck. But thank you!

PsychoToddler said...

Ezzie: If your phone can take video but doesn't accept a data card, then there must be a data cable you can get (or borrow). I mean, what's the point of taking video on your phone if you can't send it to anyone?

Ezzie said...

Um, to look at it? :(

Good point, I'll check that.

I've got these great clips of my nephew singing Yankee Doodle as a duet with Cookie Monster (himself in CM's voice)... until something happens. :)

Ralphie said...

You guys could use YouTube new mobile thingy.

PsychoToddler said...

I just tried it Ralphie. US Cellular still doesn't support sending video by phone message, so it won't work. However, I did upload the video in this message to youtube using the method in an earlier comment.

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