Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Nothing - absolutely nothing - makes me feel more stupid than trying to set up a piece of new technology. Especially when it shouldn't be all that new.

Like a cell phone, for example. One of the requirements of the upcoming job for the Phoenix branch of the company I already work for is my very own Blackberry. I finally got around to turning in the company Blackberry to the office up here and buying my own. It was a very near thing: WalMart only had three left and no plans to restock any Blackberries. Possibly ever.

When you've used a piece of technology for a couple years, you think you know it. Get over it. You're wrong.




Just one item: the keylock is a button  on top of this phone. In the other model it locks by pushing the middle of the left side, and unlocks at the top. No real biggie: just two years' worth of habit to relearn, reinforced by the futility of pushing the side where no button exists.

Another: there is a red LED that flashes at me on this phone. On the old one it meant that the battery was low. It's possible it means that on this one too but it also means other things. It flashes red when the battery is just fine, thank you. I haven't decoded what else it means, and the booklet is not helpful, starting with the fact that parts of the phone have one name when the arrow points to them and then in the text you are told to go to some other name.

When in doubt, call the company, right? There's a phone number listed in the booklet. Of course they want your 4-digit code to prove you are the owner of the phone before they can give you any information.

I have a 4-digit code? Really? On my paperwork, maybe, from WalMart? That of course is not in the car with me. Maybe call WalMart. My salesman is not in today, and they have no way of getting my code. Try an actual Sprint store. And by "try" they mean actually walking in the door with your phone. And your paperwork. Where is a Sprint store? Who knows?

In the process of this conversation I had a discussion with the clerk about the Catch-22 of needing a 4-digit code in order to get information about your 4-digit code. He had no idea what a Catch-22 was. Is it possible to be that young?


Some things are dependable. When the phone freezes up and/or shuts itself off for no reason and won't accept a charge, you can still depend on a hard reboot. As in, pry the back off (again, another location to get the leverage on this phone than on the last one),  pull the battery out, wait, replace it, and then be patient. It takes about 5 minutes to power up enough to turn on again. You can entertain yourself by watching the little blue line gradually fill in, your tease of a progress report. Because when that's done, you can also depend on it taking a while longer as there are still things to push and places to poke before the thing is running the proper software again.

If watching the blue line fail to entertain you, you could try trimming your toenails. Or writing the Great American Novel. Or the ever popular Bathroom Break.

I haven't figured out texting yet. I mean, I text all the time in the work software program. It only goes to the dispatcher whose zone I'm in at the time. I need to learn to send and receive with the rest of the world. Already I'm receiving some, but when I fight my way into that app, all I get is something with a time stamp entitled "no reply Sprint", fronting for a blank page. I don't seem to have any way to delete it, but I can save it to my contacts.

As if.

But that can wait. First I need to set up my voicemail box. It claims to be easy, and talks you through it. OK, sounds like I need to put it on speaker since it's impossible to program with the thing in your ear to hear the step and then hold it in front of you to decipher the keypad and figure out what they heck they're talking about. By the time you realize speaker phone is handy the menu has already changed and that option is no longer available. A full minute is required to figure out how to exit the app so you can start over, a bit wiser this time. But oops, work is calling, no time to play.

Eventually there is another lull in work, and you try again. This time you get as far as figuring just what 4-digit code you want to enter for a password - there are so many bad choices to reject - and are ready for the task.

At least that's what you think. In the work program there is the need to hit the "alt" button to switch the keypad into numbers and characters. Otherwise every stroke is a letter. So hitting and holding alt while entering your chosen numbers, you wait for the voice. It tells you you have hit - - - -, four numbers completely different from  what you wanted. Quick quandary: do you try to remember what your new inadvertent code is? Is there time to write it down before you go on or are you forever locked out of your own voicemail box now? OK, it's telling you you have a choice. If you agree with the numbers it just read back to you, press pound. If not, press star.


Repeat whole process. Same reading of wrong number back to you. Hit star again.

At least the voice is indefatigable. At some point comes the realization that maybe it could be tried without the "alt". Finally the voice recited the numbers you intended all along. If you agree, press pound. If not, press star.

Pound. Of course. And what a feeling of achievement! There is almost time to wonder how on earth one enters letters if it automatically selects for numbers on the keypad, since letters are offered as an option for the password. But before you can dally on that garden path, the voice again offers you the information of your selected numbers and the choice between pound and star.

Humph! Pound, again.

And again the voice repeats your selection of numbers and the option of pound or star.


Quick, exit the program! No, push the curly go-back arrow again, and again, and finally ... whew!

When in the future I finally do get into the program to leave an answering message, I've got some choice words planned. And then I have to figure out how to actually hear the messages left.

I figure to be proficient by, say, February.

Meanwhile, call me on my stupid phone. Unlike the smart phone, I can work that one.

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