Sunday, 28 October 2012

Being myself – Rib and the mobile phone.

I, like most people, am many things inside. For some time I have been going through a minor, but important crisis. It concerns my mobile phone, but is really about something a little more fundamental.

I hate texting. No, let me rephrase that: I hate texting on phones that do not have a QUERTY keyboard. To me it is like eating with chopsticks. I can do that quite well – but why? Give me a knife and fork anytime (except in China).

A while ago I found a phone that had a neat slide out QWERTY keyboard of reasonable size and yet also seemed to be a decent phone. It was obsolete, but I bought one through eBay. I tried to like it but it was rubbish. It had touch-sensitive features that self-activated. You never knew quite what it was doing. I soon sold it again through eBay.

I was then persuaded by a convincing sales lady to renew my contract with Vodafone and get a ‘free’ HTC Wildfire phone. She said that I would get used to its touch sensitive keyboard and anyway I could return it within a week if I didn’t like it. Enamoured at first by its location and maps function, that first week seemed to fly by. For a moment I forgot the main thing that I want a mobile phone for: to make and take calls and send the occasional text without thumbing a stupid numeric keypad.

This HTC thing may be good at Internet access, social networking and location based applications – but as phone it is crap, really crap. It made long calls to the local hospital on its own! One lasted for six hours and Vodafone charged me £100 for the call. It took a great deal of time and effort to get my money back. I never once managed to enter a telephone number without multiple errors and erasures. It needed constant cosseting; the battery needed recharging most days and software updates kept a ‘coming. I began to send weird texts and got worried replies. Once I sent a message to my granddaughter accidentally signed myself Rib rather than Rob, so she now calls me Rib! Incoming calls were a trial; mostly it decided to reject them when I actually wanted to answer them.

I sold my ‘smartphone’ back to Vodafone for a pitiful £20 and the chipper shop assistant who sorted that out whilst listening to my story of gloom with tolerant sympathy commented:

“I’ve got a button phone myself. “Only the high end phones are any good with touch.”

Well, I am too mean to buy an iPhone - impressed as I am the tricks that one friend plays with his - so I bought a Blackberry look-alike, new, for £14 on the net. Hey, it actually makes and takes calls without a hitch. It has a battery life to die for and a QWERTY keypad for texts. I feel so happy. I really like this little phone – it even has a usable camera and Internet access should a want it.

Am I, for many years a key teacher of the - then new - third generation mobile technology, becoming an atavist?  Probably, but it is really great to make and take calls again. After all, I was a telephone engineer once so maybe I’m simply being myself. Roll on 4G and all the good things that it will bring to an eager user community who perhaps do not regards telephone calls as a terribly important part of a mobile phone.


  1. Interesting - man struggles with technology. what have we lost in technology? which button do I touch? Where can I get one of those phones?

  2. I'm not sure that it is technology - it's the human interface to the technology and then it all depends on the particular human perhaps. Anyway with my old phone it was not a matter of which button do I touch (does that come from a song?), the bloody thing touched them for me, all on its own.

  3. I never once managed to enter a telephone number without multiple errors and erasures. technologynews blog


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