Sunday, June 27, 2010

The EVO that a Man Dwells With

At long last, I purchased a new phone.  Yesterday, I went to Best Buy and bought the EVO 4G from Sprint.  It ends several years of actively paying attention to the phone scene, trying to figure out what to buy.  It also serves as a final resting place after the false stop in January.

Let me give you some thoughts after approximately 24 hours with this newfangled "product of our genius".

My old phone sits on the couch next to me.  All of the number keys are worn off.  Pock-marked as it is with dozens of minor wounds and nicks, it is no thing of beauty.  Perhaps this is the point where I should wax rhapsodic about the "years of service" it has provided me -- but I won't.  Nor will I immediately cast it into the recycle bin as an offensive eyesore.  It has no sentimental value beyond the fact that I've carried it through most of my life's adventures in the last eight years.

It saw me teach, scrub, kiss, curse, drive, plan, yell, sigh.  And I could not forget "talk".  It most assuredly saw more than its fair share of talking.  The phone is of the vintage of my first serious romantic relationship, purchased at the behest of one who thought it madness to try to fan the embers of a long-distance love over a semi-private house telephone.

We had matching phones then, mostly because she'd already purchased the cheapest one available and that sounded good to me.  I entered the word "Telephonium" on my screen as a way to tell them apart should they get shuffled and confused.  She promptly lost hers, replaced it, lost the replacement, then switched to a different phone style.  All that in the eight months between my start of contract and the end of the relationship.  I hope she's kept better hold of phones in the intervening years -- not least because she probably switched to Apple phones, and those are expensive baubles to mislay. 

The phone has been with me on my road trips to Colorado Springs, Denton (TX), and Orlando.  It's been to North Carolina and Chicago.  It's been to three of the four corners of Missouri. It's been all the way across Kansas in one day.  I've had it through five or six jobs, every working day. 

But now I've replaced it.  In its day, it did what it needed to do admirably: it made phone calls.  What it didn't do was... well, everything else a phone can do.  Starting with text messages, which were already available when I bought in 2002 on the more "expensive" phones.  Each text I received cost me $0.40, which usually wasn't a big deal since my phone didn't receive texts.  Then advertising companies found out that I could receive them somehow and I'd get one every month or so. 

Then in January, I got my first real text.  My phone didn't really know how to handle them, so it had no way to display who they were from.  But the one in January was unmistakably from a friend.  Four words long, it pierced me to the core -- one of the reasons being that I knew there was no way for me to return the message in kind.

Then there was the matter of being offered an interview for my current job via text, which further hammered home that even if I didn't use them, the rest of the world did for serious business.  Time to get serious.  I know there was a spectacular parade of Android phones on most of the carriers, each one newer and more "holy cow" than the last.  And I knew there was an iPhone coming in June, because there's always an iPhone in June (never forget that the roots of Apple are as a hardware company).

So I set myself an ultimatum, of sorts.  My new phone would be the new iPhone or some Android phone, whichever appealed to me more when mid-June rolled around.  And right on schedule, the iPhone was announced and launched.  And I said, "Great, however..."

I should point out that the iPhone 4 is a gorgeous device, every inch a worthy possibility for a phone.  The new screen and impressive battery life were early favorites for me.  But it comes shackled to AT&T (actually, it's more like a death grip from AT&T).  And it's not known for openness and transparency.  Steve Jobs says the iPhone is not for pornography, which is fine -- I wouldn't use my phone for that EVER.  But when only Apple gets to decide what is "inappropriate", then we end up drawn versions of "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "Ulysses" being censored.  (No doubt Apple has bowed to pressure by now and corrected the "unfortunate mistake", as they probably called it.)  EDIT: Actually, it appears they forced the authors to remove the drawn genitalia through creative framing.  Ah well, it's only art.

So I went with one of the dominant Android phones on one of the cheaper carriers: the EVO on Sprint.  It's a little intimidating, this black slab.  My previous phone (referred to by more than one person as a 'Zack Morris phone', in reference to the soap "No-more-tears" opera Saved by the Bell) looked a bit like a current-generation house phone -- a comparison also made frequently.  The new phone is a two inch by four inch black slab that probably causes tiny Kubrickian apes to go crazy.

In addition to being my first cell phone with circa-2001 text messaging, this phone contains numerous other technological firsts.  It is my first camera-phone.  My first video camera (HD video, even!).  My first GPS device.  My first portable wireless router.  My first metronome/tuner single unit.  And it's my first digital vuvuzela.

Ok, so it's not ALL useful.  But it is a little disconcerting to know that this device always knows where it (and therefore me) is located all... the... time. It's also the first of my gadgets that can have a proper (though limited) conversation with.  Within the first 24 hours, I'd figured out how to physically tell the phone in perfect English that I wanted to go to my parents house ("Navigate to William Schwartz's house") and have the phone proceed to verbally dictate the route there, turn by turn.  Just a bit spooky!

The air of capability the phone emanates actually attempts to monkey with my own behavior.  I find myself going to the phone to do tasks that might be better accomplished on the laptop right in front of me.  No doubt that's newness, but it makes me feel like I'm squandering its extensively prepared-for life just having it quietly take messages for me.

As part of this momentum leading me to technologies everyone else has long-since found, I've started a Twitter account.  My goal is that it will eventually mirror what I currently contribute to my Facebook account (or vice versa).  Importantly, I'm going to throw a Twitter display on the blog somewhere, so that people can have the  Andy Schwartz experience.  That way all of my thoughts (short or long) can stay centered in one page, if you're looking for what I have to say about things. 

There's not much there now, but the twitter name is @DrAndySpeaks, for those of you who are more technically inclined.  Those non-technicals will be able to follow along once I figure out how to stick the rotating display in.  Again, I'm not trying to create another site to visit -- by adding a new site, I hope to consolidate TOWARDS a single site (this one you're reading this one now).

This is an experiment that may not work.  The wildly open nature of Twitter may not be a good fit with me.  This site is completely public, but benefits from privacy via obscurity -- few people know, so few people visit.  My twitter account, in contrast, had four followers before I'd even made a second tweet.  Now THAT is wide open!  My blog didn't have four viewers for the first year and a half...

1 comment:

  1. I have this strange of maternal pride that you finally have your phone after watching you deliberate over this for two years.