Dumb Things I Have Done Lately

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cell Phones and Social Armor

A note that I'd saved in my phone's memo pad:
Text messaging is a way for unaccompanied non-smokers to look busy in bars.
(I guess I probably should have Twittered it, but I'm still not very much of a Twitter-er.)

Put another way: Having a cellphone gives you even more button-twiddling ways to avoid eye contact with other people in public places.

After all, looking down at your watch is good for dodging the gaze of an oncoming stranger on the sidewalk, but you can only stare at your wrist for so long.

Add your headset of choice and you can be completely wrapped up in your own little world.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dumbness Comes in Threes

Here are three bits of current dumbness:

1. I went to a milblog conference last week. I wrote about it in my work blog. I referred to one of the panelists, Sean Dustman of Doc in the Box, as Sean Preston (the Britney-Spawn) not once, but four times (1 full name reference, 3 last name references).

At least I was consistent.

2. Thanks to Sprint, my still-new cell phone, the superslim Samsung 610 does not let you play mp3s as ringtones (the better to force you to pay for downloads). However, someone on the SprintUsers Web forum found a way to do use MP3s as ringtones, simply by renaming the MP3 file with the .3g2 extension, and playing it as a video ringtone.

However, when I tried it, and during my testing, I found that it worked, but played at an unusably low volume. (So, useless as a ringtone.)

It was only by accident that I discovered that the speaker volume is automatically lowered when the phone is open. It's plenty loud when the phone is open closed.

So, now I've got the 24 CTU ringtone, with the option to use the "Ho! Ho! Ho!" bits of the Sugarhill Gang's Apache or the yodel-y bit of Baltimora's Tarzan Boy (thanks to free audio editing program Audacity)

3. I was looking at some clips from a blog entry about the best long takes in film -- it includes the hospital shootout of John Woo's Hong Kong gangster shoot-em-up flick Hard Boiled, which I own on VHS -- it took me a few minutes to realize that the video clip was from the French-dubbed version.

(With the widespread use of CGI, it's hard to keep a clean list of the best long takes and tracking shots -- there is room for debate, once you start digitally assembling bits of film to look like continuous takes. It's kind of like cheating.)

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What the Hell Am I Going to Do With Unlimited Text Messaging?

I finally got a new cell phone. Here it is next to the old one -- can you tell which one is which? It might be harder than you think, since the external displays are both monochromatic:

Samsung M610 and the long-discontinued LG 5250

But look: When opened, the new phone dwarfs the old phone -- is this not a giant step backwards?


This is where the tricky third-dimension comes into play:

The new phone, she is the thin.

Now, I've been with Sprint since 2000, and I've been out of contract for a while; if I couldn't get a deal from Sprint that included a new phone, I was going to switch to Cingular/AT&T (honest).

In return for re-upping for 2 years, I got the phone, and I ended up keeping my current minutes (650 anytime, 500 mobile-to-mobile), plus now have unlimited 7pm night and weekends ($5 with a $5 offset), and unlimited text messaging for $8. Which brings my current bill before taxes and corporate discount to $43.99.

(On the Sprintusers.com forums, there's a whole "can-you-top-this?" culture when it comes to discussions of retention plans and other deals. I admit it, I'm not a good haggler, so I'm a little jealous, though some people practically claim they get paid to be a customer.)

My current problem now, though, is that I don't have a data plan. I thought I was getting it included with the phone, but there was no record of it, and at a la carte pricing, that's $15 extra per month, which is moving my bill decidedly in the wrong direction.

I honestly would rather give up some minutes and pay less (which is kind of heresy, even though I don't currently go anywhere near my monthly caps). So I will have to see what I can finagle.

The unlimited texting may be supreme overkill; I've hooked my phone to Twitter, but I'm still having trouble trying to figure out how I can meaningfully use hundreds and hundreds of text messages per month to justify unlimited texting (even if it's only $8/month).

I'm still pretty new with all this texting stuff, which is kind of odd for a word guy. It took me a while to get the hang of the T9, though it's pretty neat.

Anyway, I have a 1-gig MicroSD card (that's Micro, not Mini -- won't make that mistake again, though I was able to cancel the order) on the way, as well as a USB cable, so I can transfer data to and from the phone until I get a data plan.

I'm also shopping around for a Bluetooth headset (just for car use, I swear), so I guess it's too late for me now.

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