Good morning, everyone. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here, so again I must begin with an apology to those of you who check this site periodically to see what, if anything, I’ve had to say. I don’t want to have you give up on me for not having added any content.
Where have I been you ask? Well, during this past week, I started actually doing my new job as a customer service associate at US Cellular. I work from 2:30 PM until 11 PM each day, so that schedule has taken a bit of getting used to. Actually, I like the schedule and it shouldn’t interfere with my blogging in that I have a good portion of the day in which to get things done before I leave for work, but I’ve been playing with creating podcasts and other things on the Internet so I haven’t turned my attention to my blog. In other words, I don’t really have an excuse, but I’ve been preoccupied with other things.
One of the things that has come up in the last week is Google’s announcement that they are modifying their otherwise-excellent Toolbar so that it now will add links to web pages. Many people, like Robert Scoble, Dave Winer and Nick Bradbury have commented on it saying how much they oppose it. Time Online also has an article that lays out the controversy fairly nicely for you if you haven’t considered the issue and its implications.
Yesterday, my “Saturday,” because it was the first day of my two days off since I work both Saturday and Sunday, found me playing around with some of the features of my new cellphone. I activated the “voice services” feature on my LG VX6000. What that enables me to do is to dial my cellphone using voice commands rather than typing in the number or choosing it from the stored list of contacts in the cellphone. There are a couple of very nice advantages to using this feature, entirely apart from the StarTrek nature of it.
US Cellular offers a web site where I can log in and enter the names, various phone numbers and email addresses of my contacts into an address book, which is the source from which these voice services pulls the numbers. Entering the contacts on a web site has a couple of distinct advantages. For one thing, it is easier to enter the information at the keyboard of the computer than it is to type in the information at the keypad of the cellphone. A second advantage is that if I should have to change my cellphone, because the one I have becomes damaged or is lost or stolen, my contacts are saved outside the phone. I wouldn’t have lost my contacts list and I wouldn’t have to re-enter the information again into the phone.
Although I had held out for a long time in getting a cellphone and might not have done so at all had I not gone to work for US Cellular, I have to admit that I am quickly adapting to the convenience of having my phone always with me and at the ready if I need to make a call. And what’s more it does so much more than the phone I had at home that it is an entirely different tool than my home phone. Because I can call long distance without any additional charges, people on the opposite side of the continent are no more remote from me than those who are across town. Why the disparity between long distance calling and local calling existed for as long as it did is probably an interesting story fed by a combination of the willingness of the telephone monopoly to continue to collect a source of revenue for as long as they could get away with it and the public’s sheep-like failure to insist on having the ability to make such calls without having to pay through the nose to do so. I’m sure someone more knowledgeable than I can rationalize that state of affairs, but I, for one, am now glad it is over. With my cellphone’s capabilities to make long distance calls across the country without charge and Skype’s ability to make calls around the world without charge, I can now talk to anyone anywhere as easily and as cheaply as I can call my neighbor next door. That, folks, is a nice circumstance.
Yes, despite how much I like my cellphone, I, like some of you no doubt, also still find people’s obsession with being on the phone in every spare moment to be an indication of the inevitable decline of our civilization in that it seems to illustrate that we are reaching a point where we no longer want to experience the benefits of solitude, as if being without someone to talk to is an indication that you are someone who is defective somehow. In fact, I’ve seen too many instances where two people who are with each other choose not to talk to the person they are with but both of them are on the cellphone talking to someone else.