How Do You Answer the Phone?

Alden Library 10-24-2013_8977I’ve touched on my negative love for cell phones in the past. I carried two-way radios on my belt for 25+ years and never minded that because they were designed as communication devices to be used only when you wanted to exchange important information.

When I became telecommunications manger and had to ride herd on hundreds of wireless devices, I was convinced they were the spawn of the devil.

When I was working, I carried two cell phones, each on a different carrier, because I was the Fone Guy. After I retired, I put all my eggs in one Verizon HTC Droid Incredible basket. The model served me well until just recently when it started misbehaving. Today it locked up, requiring me to pull the battery to do a cold boot. It flashed some debug code on the screen, popped up a couple icons, one shaped like a tombstone with RIP engraved on it, and died. It eventually rose from the dead, but I decided 2008 to 2014 was a pretty good run and maybe it was time to get a new phone.

If you wonder what the photo has to do with the story, it’s something I noticed when I was at Ohio University’s Alden Library last fall. It was striking how many students passed by with a glowing screen cradled in their hands.

I now own a Motorola Droid Ultra

Baker Center 10-24-2013_8997Here are more students with their electronic nooses. The guy on the down escalator at Baker Center looks like he’s holding a tablet, but he’s actually a dinosaur: he’s holding – Egads! – an actual sheet of paper. I showed in another post how more folks were interesting in texting and taking selfies than watching the OU football game they were attending.

The folks at the Verizon store on North Lake Blvd. in Lake Park have been a pleasure to deal with. Michael Valerio patiently showed me what devices were available. He actually listened when I told him I didn’t really care about taking photos, playing music, texting or putting something on my belt that was the size of a TV tray, and pointed me to the Motorola Droid Ultra. The price was right – Free, except for a $30 upgrade fee and the need to buy an Otterbox Defender Series case to protect it.

Getting all my old aps back was a lot simpler than the first time I went through the drill. It’ll take some time to get stuff where I’m used to seeing it, but I’m pleased with how many things things come built into the phone that I used third-party aps for in the past.

There was one problem, though. I had the phone charging behind me when I heard a strange noise. I hadn’t set up the ringtones yet, so I didn’t recognize that a call was coming in. When I picked up the phone, I could see it was Curator Jessica calling, but I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how to ANSWER the bleeping phone.

That was never a problem with my old Motorola MX340 two-way radio.

Selfies and Smoke Signals

OU vs Miami 10-26-2013The webosphere had been all agog this week because Oxford Dictionaries declared “selfie” to be the word of the year for 2013. For you old folks, a “selfie” is defined as a smartphone self-portrait shared on social media.

For you young folks, a dictionary” is what we used to call a non-electric spellchecker that was accessed by sneakernet and could be used by only one person at a time.

2013 ain’t 1968

OU vs Miami 10-26-2013While I was in Athens, Ohio, to do a presentation on the birth of the student rights movement, Curator Jessica finagled a field pass to the OU vs Miami of Ohio football game. Ostensibly she wanted me to shoot members of the undefeated 1968 football team to go along with action shots I have of them. I think she really wanted me to watch her younger sister, a member of OU’s Marching 110 prance around on the field playing her slidey thing. (Jessica is a band alum.)

I was less than excited. It was cold and parking was somewhere close to Louisville. Still, Curator Jessica can be persuasive.

Since I didn’t have to worry about game action, I wandered around looking at the spectators.

It became apparent very quickly that actually watching the game was secondary to gazing at portable electronic devices.

Here’s how we did it in the old days

OU vs Miami 10-26-2013One of the female students I was photographing while she was busy texting away gave me a “What is this creepy old guy looking at?” look.

I walked up, introduced myself and said, “I’m here doing a compare and contrast with football games from back in 1968. See, in my day, we didn’t have these fancy gizmos to keep our friends updated on the game. We had to use smoke signals. The stadium people would have small fires in pots scattered through the stadium so we could keep in touch with the folks on campus.”

“Really?” she asked, not quite convinced.

“Sure,” I said. “Wander around after the crowd leaves and you can probably still see small circles here and there burned into the concrete.” Then I walked away.

Urban legend or fodder for 30th Reunion

OU vs Miami 10-26-2013There is no doubt in my mind that the young woman went back to her dorm and shared the information I gave her.

It is either going to be the start of an urban legend or a story that will haunt her when she goes back for her 30th reunion.

Photo gallery of the New Age

Here’s a photo gallery of a modern university football game, one with nary a signal fire to be seen. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the sides to move through the gallery. And, just like when I was a student, the stands emptied out as soon as the Marching 110 finished the halftime show. It’s good to see that some things never change.