Tag Archives: cell phones

The mosquito ringtone

My little girls just shared an amazing secret with me. High frequency mosquito ringtones are being used by kids to receive calls and text messages in school, movie theaters, the dinner table, and other off-limit locales. Most adults over 30 can’t hear the ringtones due to presbycusis, a fancy medical term for old ears. The piercing sounds were originally used by British shopkeepers to keep loitering teens at bay, but kids have discovered how to use the teen repellent to their advantage. So clever!
The kids and I tried this over and over at different frequencies. I couldn’t hear anything except their squeals of laughter.
This is supposed to be a great boon for teens. But with a household of cell-toting young ones, it sounds like a win-win to me!

Cell phones for home front profiteers

Cell Phone Minutes for SoldiersOkay, if you’ve ordered anything from Amazon lately, you’ll have received something feel-goody non-profitish in the packaging, an empty doggy bag labeled CELL PHONE FOR SOLDIERS. You’re meant to read the patriotic blurb and send them your used cell phone to “Help Our Troops Call Home.” The unpadded baggy is pre-addressed to the Cell Phone Recycling Center, post paid, but you can “Help our troops even more by applying postage to this envelope.”
Wait, can our troops really use any old cell phone, refurbished, to call their loved ones back home? No.

Credit will be given for your returned phone and the credit will go toward paying for our soldiers’ phone calls. The CPFS website explains that soldiers receive prepaid calling cards with which to phone home. Looking further the site details that for every used cell phone it receives, a Michigan outfit called ReCellular disburses a payment to Cell Phones for Soldiers, enough to pay for one hour of international calling.

A survey of prepaid calling card rates for international calls yields rates ranging from 0.6¢ to 6¢ with a mean of 1.5¢. Rounding up, multiplied by 60 minutes, that’s a $1 value! The soldiers are getting ONE DOLLAR for your used phone.

Allowing for a discounted rate which CPFS can no doubt get, considering they’ve spent a million on this scheme already, probably that value is more like 50¢ per phone. From their own figures last year, CPFS distributed calling cards to 140,000 US soldiers, their share of the million being $2.50 each. In minutes, who knows how many or few. But wait, AT&T is credited with having contributed half that million in long distance minutes!

Whether we’re talking about administration expenses being gleaned from the cost differences, or tax deductions taken in excess of the contribution value, this is a windfall profit center for somebody. Not the soldiers.

Cell phone dis-servitude

Dont mind Jeeves right now
Where is the button on my cell phone to tell it
it doesn’t control me?
I remember the early adapters who got pagers and quickly learned that they had cut off their escape. At work their bosses could find them whenever they wanted. Leaving your pager at your desk was not an option. Being given a pager was a badge signifying importance that quickly became a shackle of servitude.

A cellphone is supposed to be more than a pager, a means to reach everybody else. It makes me feel like a television with the remote being bandied about who knows where. And too often it’s the remote itself calling in.

I appreciate the many features of my modern cell phone, it is indeed the most unimaginably versatile little gadget I have ever had. But I need it to do more. My phone can take pictures, record memos, and wake me up, along with every conceivable permutation of telephony, except excuse itself. It’s like a randy butler and I have to excuse it. In public, I have to make sure it will not ring inappropriately. In private I have to bear its interruptions when a better class of valet would know when to withdraw.

How should I know ahead of time when I would prefer not to be reminded of missed calls, or awaiting messages, or a waning battery? Certainly these are important matters, but in the quiet of my affairs I don’t need a needy pip-squeak chiming with regular monotony every two minutes.

Maybe the answer is in the manual. Believe me, the last thing I want is to have to learn how to better understand my new high maintenance [uninvited] best bud.