What did people do before they had cell phones? When I became telecommunications manager at The Post in 1991, the company had exactly six cell phones – the original Motorola brick. They were part of a pool that could be checked out as needed. I quickly discovered that four of them were on permanent assignment, so that left only two in the pool.
Not long after that, I put our business out for bid and got a sweet deal from a carrier who would give us free phones and 60 minutes of local calling for $10 a month. Departments were happy to have an electronic noose around their employees for ten bucks a month and, since 60 minutes was more than anybody would ever need for business, they were permitted a “reasonable” number of personal calls for carrying the unit and being reachable.
Fast forward to 2007
By December of 2007, those six phones had multiplied to 577 phones, which racked up 302,166 minutes of talk time a month at a cost of $31,211.84.That’s a MONTH, not a year.
In comparison, our landline phone switches in 13 locations supported about 1,500 extensions and about 425K minutes of talking. The total BellSouth and ATT landline bill ran us about $16,500 a month, half of the wireless tab.
Every year I would negotiate a better contract which would give us more minutes at a lower cost and the usage would STILL go up. At one time, as you can see on the shelf in my office, I tried to hang on to one model of every phone we used, but the models changed so quickly that I never could keep up with them. The phones were only part of the equation. If we changed carriers or the carrier offered us “new and improved” phones, then all of the batteries, chargers, cases and accessories had to be changed out, too.
The Verizon Wireless bill ran 1,844 pages long. I always wondered how many of those minutes were actually used talking to advertising customers and news sources.
Did I mention I hate cell phones?
When I was working, I carried a cell phone on each of the two carriers we used. After all, if the message is, “Nextel’s down,” how is anyone going to call you if don’t have a phone from the other guy?
After I retired, I was persuaded to switch to a “smart phone:” a Verizon HTC Droid Incredible. I have to confess that it was pretty neat: I no longer had to have a laptop on the seat next to me if I wanted to check my mail on the road or get a weather report. Having live traffic data on the Google map was even better than using my Garmin Nuvi 760 for navigation. I hardly ever use the camera feature. If I want to take a picture, I’ll use a REAL camera.
All was going pretty well until last year when I made the mistake of letting it do a software upgrade. As part of the start-up process, the thing hollers “DROID!!” in a loud tone that becomes increasingly annoying when it goes into a reboot cycle at 2 in the morning. Every morning. The only way short of heaving it across the room is to take the battery out and reinstall it. A factory reset solved the problem, but that meant that I had to download and re-install all my applications from scratch.
I noticed several weeks ago that the phone was getting sluggish: stuff wasn’t loading as quickly as it once did and phone calls weren’t dialing as soon as I selected a name. Then, while I was in Ohio, aps started dropping off, starting with Navigation and going from there. It was like my whole smart phone had gotten dumb or had gone on strike. Soon, about the only thing that worked was Gmail. Facebook went belly-up yesterday morning.
Andrea pulled out her magic wand
Andrea at the Verizon store just over the hill from Mother said she had a magic wand she’d wave over it. After plowing the same ground I had, she said I had two choices: start with a factory reset (remember that?) or have an accident that would cause insurance to replace the phone. I assured her that if the factory reset didn’t do the job, there would definitely be an accident that would probably involve plastering a wall.
The factory reset (knock wood) looks like it solved the problem for now. Maybe my phone is smart enough to have taken my threat seriously.