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Tuesday, June 22, 2021


I have a smartphone I got from TracFone. It's a Samsung Android phone, probably refurbished. It was really cheap, like less than $50. I buy more time when I run out. You run out in the middle of a call and they will direct you to a person who will happily take your money and credit your account some number of minutes. This usually works fine, except the one time when I really didn't want to be interrupted. I went to the doctor and thought I would let my wife listen in on my visit, but we only got about a minute into and it shunted me off to customer service. I bailed. I was probably able to give my wife a sufficiently detailed account of my visit which is why the whole incident has become remote in my memory.

Anyway, I got this smartphone. It does it's job adequately, I can make and receive phone calls. It has voice transcription, so I can dictate text messages to people. It has a stupid little onscreen keyboard where I can peck out bits of text, one character at a time. I don't like it and I don't use it unless I have to, but that's pretty seldom, thanks to the voice transcription business.

I use Google Maps occasionally, and it can be a real lifesaver. We made good use of it when my wife and I were looking for a house to buy, and I used it to locate building suppliers when we were working on the house.

I use text messaging to send reminders to my e-mail account. I sometimes use it for longer text, but I haven't quite mastered the art of dictating a blog posting. Words don't flow from my mouth the way they do from my fingers, not that they flow that well from my fingers. Even the simplest postings often have to be re-written a couple of times to make them coherent.

Lately I have been having trouble with sending text messages from my computer. It's easier for me, I've got a full size keyboard to use. It used to be a bit of a trick, but now apparently all you need to do is tack on to the phone number and poof, magic, it gets delivered. Except when it doesn't. A couple of messages I sent this way in the last couple of weeks fell into some kind of computer limbo. The great message handler in the cloud evidently got the messages, but wasn't able to deliver them because, shut up, that's why.

A few minutes ago I got the idea to send a group message from my phone. Evidently I still don't know how to walk like an Egyptian because I could not figure it out. Ask Google and it gives me directions for Apple phones. When I get more specific, the directions become more vague (yeah, ya jus poin here and poin there and put in your addresses, but none of the places he's pointing to exist on my phone).

So I composed and sent a group text message from my computer, so I should be able to reply to all using my phone now. Let's try it. Nope, doesn't work like I hoped. My wife (Apple phone) and I both got the test message, but it does not show up as a group message, it's just single message with no evidence that it was broadcast to multiple people.

That's okay, I don't remember what I was going to say to them anyway.

There is one other nice feature, and that is that transferred all my contact information so I didn't have to add each one individually. The downside is the dark side of the net probably now has all this information. But maybe they already have everything, so maybe it doesn't matter.

I added one app when I bought a Depstech snake camera so I could trace wires in the new house. It works. It's kind of persnickety about setting up a connection and you have to remember to charge it, but it works. I guess I'm disappointed because I don't think we really learned anything about the wiring by using it. There are just a bunch of low voltage wires that just disappear into the walls and never come out again. Probably should just forget about them.

So the phone basically works, you can do things with it. But it is such a piece of junk. Here I have this amazingly powerful computer in the palm of my hand and it's just loaded up with all kinds of crap I don't want or need. Hell, I don't even know what most of it is. It's like being on a giant space station in the future and you need a bar of soap but the only place you can get any is at the Dollar Store on the main concourse so you go there and every shelf on every aisle is jam packed full of stuff, stuff that you don't need, stuff that isn't soap. But you wander around for what feels like an eternity and you eventually find the soap so you head to the checkout counter, the checkout counter that was empty when you got there, but now the other six shoppers who were in the store when you got there have all decided that it is time to go so now you are stuck at the end of the checkout line, waiting to buy your stupid bar of soap. No wonder Jeff Bezos can afford to go to outer space.

Tip of the hat to View From The Porch, or maybe The Adventures of RobertaX. One (or both) of them came up with the idea of space-faring alien civilization that was like a Walmart version of Star Trek.

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