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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Are you smarter than my cell phone? I’m not

Don’t bother calling me.

I don’t know how to answer my phones.

Yes, I said “phones.” I now carry two — one for personal use and one for work.

In the good old days, you picked up the receiver when you heard it ring. But, my phones chime all day.

And they’re different chimes. I am guessing they each mean different things, but I’m not sure which mean what.
When I hear them, I scurry to find the phones, and check for signals of what’s happening.

A couple I’ve figured out. Others go unexplained and I figure maybe I’m not meant to know what it’s all about.
Welcome to the smartphone revolution.

I used to think that “smartphone” meant advanced. Now I just think it means “phone that’s smarter than Laura.”

Technically, a smartphone is a cellphone that is able to do some advanced computer work. Some have a pressable keyboard that’s akin to a typewriter; others have what is known as a “virtual keyboard,” which is built into the screen of the phone and is typed using the tip of your finger. Those with long nails have a little more trouble.

Before what I’ll call the “revolution of Laura,” I had a cellphone that flipped open to reveal a keyboard that I used for texting.

Then one day out of the blue, my boss handed me a box that contained a Droid Incredible.

Incredibly, I was told it was mine to use for work. I can send texts, shoot video, shoot photos, post on our Twitter account (@newsheraldinoh) and on Facebook.

It’s a great news-gathering tool.

A few days after I got it, I realized I needed to talk to someone who works nights and figured, what the heck, I’ll use the work phone.

I pulled it out of my purse, clicked it on and discovered I didn’t know how to make a call.

First, I looked for a green button, because green meant send on other cell phones.

I didn’t find that, but I noticed a button that said “Phone” next to an image of an old-fashioned receiver.

A single push opened up a keyboard that sits atop a big green button that says “Call.”

Ahh, success!

That joy was short-lived.

Between the constant worry over the battery needing to be charged just about every night and wondering what does this app do, or, wait, that app over there ... I’m was just plain confused.

Then, my husband announced that it was time for us to use our “new every two” perk at Verizon because his cellphone could no longer send text messages, receive email or check the Internet.

Our phones are linked by a “friends and family” program, so if he was getting a new phone, I’d have to get one, too, or forfeit that right, because Verizon recently announced the end of its program that lets customers get a new cell phone every two years.

If you haven’t been to a Verizon store in a while, it’s smartphone heaven.

If you’re looking for a “regular” cellphone, you might find one in that corner, wayyyyyyyy over there. Yeah, you see it, without lights and a lot of dust.

Needless to say, when we walked out of the store about two hours later, we had two more smartphones in our house.

He knows how to use his. I’m pushing a lot of buttons and nothing is happening.

Making a call on the newest one is a lot easier, because there’s a big green button with the word “Phone” underneath.

I don’t know how to delete a message, though. Well, that’s not exactly right. Technically, I don’t know what I’m doing that is making my messages disappear.

But, thanks to Tim at Verizon Wireless in Mentor, I’m going to learn.

Poor Tim.

He is one of the sales consultants who teaches classes every Thursday morning for those who are new to smartphones.

So far he’s changed my clock from analog to digital, helped me assign speed dial numbers and reminded me a few times that you can pretty much do anything with the menu key.

Where is the menu key?

Where is Tim?

The “teachers” are patient, answering any questions. If they get stumped, they’ll tinker until they figure it out.

Once they do, they’ll go through the steps so that you, too, learn what you’re doing.

Tim said I can come back as many times as necessary to ask questions.

He also said I can just stop in and ask for help if I feel the need.

At this rate, I’m sure I’ll soon be as comfortable as I was with my old phone.

I just wish having a smartphone didn’t make me feel this stupid.

Poor Tim.


Blogger Janet said...

Reminds me of when I got my smart phone last year - definitely a learning experience! My 15-year-old had to educate me on some of the features.

April 9, 2011 at 7:54 PM 

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