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Thursday, April 3, 2014

My Fancy Phone Fiasco

Most of my friends, neighbors and even fellow Parkies (people with Parkinson's disease) have new cell phones. They have iPhones or Galaxy phones or some other newfangled Android phones with touch screens and speech features. All they have to do is say, "Call Bev" or "What's the weather in Kalamazoo" and the phone does just that. It calls me or tells them the current temperature back home in Michigan. They can even play humorous videos and games on their phones.

Some of my neighbors fancy phones

I have an older Smart phone. It's the kind that still has a qwerty keyboard, albeit a small one. I can make phone calls with it, type texts with it, take pictures with the camera, use the navigation feature and check my email, Facebook and Twitter accounts. I can even look things up on Google search. When it rings, it tells me who is calling if I have them in my contact list. It mispronounces very simple names, like Lisa and Home (it says Liza and Hum,) but gets the complicated names right for the most part (Dermatologist or Neurosciences.) The one thing it doesn't have is speech. I have to type everything in on that tiny keyboard. 
My old Smart phone

Well, a few months back, my phone started acting up. Calls were being dropped. The battery didn't seem to be holding a charge. It looked like I'd need a new phone. I, unlike most people, hate new electronic gadgets. I still use a desktop computer with XP from 2004. I like the older versions of software that came with it so, I refuse the software upgrades whenever they pop up. I like my ancient non-usb keyboard (you really have to press on the keys to type.)

So, I went phone shopping. After looking at what was available at the local stores, I decided to order my new phone online. Why? Because I'd have 30 days to try it if I purchased online and only 15 days if I bought it at the store (does this make any sense to anyone?) 

My new Android phone came within 3 days and my first job was to figure out how to get all the phone numbers in the contacts transferred to the new phone. It was easy; I called my Step-daughter and she talked me step by step through something called Bluetooth (and I thought Bluetooth was only for in the car.) Then I had to figure out HOW to use the phone to make calls. I tried the "Call David" feature, but the voice recognition didn't understand my Parkie speech. So, I had to find the number keys. There aren't any, you just touch the numbers on the screen. This was a disaster as I would invariably either not touch hard enough or my Parkie fingers would stutter and I'd end up typing two or three number 9's.

When my new phone rang, it just whistled. I tried to find a setting where it would tell me who was calling, but could not. I also couldn't find a ring tone that actually rang, like an old fashioned phone. I know I'm weird, but when my phone rings, I know it's MY phone.

I was missing my old phone and it was just the first day. Then I got my first incoming text message. I tried to reply using speech, but the words it kept typing were not the words I was speaking. So, I had to try to correct it using the touch screen alphabet. I couldn't find the backspace, and my stupid fingers didn't do any better at this than they did typing numbers.

I tried the "What's the weather in Yuma?" and got a Yo Mama YouTube video. Then I tried to send a new text to a friend at 11 pm local time and ended up calling someone in Florida where it was 2 am. I never could get my Twitter or Facebook page on the new phone and email was problematic, too. I was really missing my old phone. 

A neighbor suggested I try a stylus, a pen type instrument designed for touching touch screens. I bought one, but still had the same problem; I'd either not touch hard enough or I'd double touch. Argh! I'd had enough! I wanted my old phone back.

Stylus for phone

I called my cell phone provider and told them I wanted to re-activate my old phone. No problem. They would turn my new phone off and the old one would be back on in a few hours. Well, 12 hours went by and no phone, then 24 hours. I borrowed a neighbors phone to call them back. Oops, it turns out I'd need a new SIM card in my old phone in order to reactivate it. They turned the new phone back on and mailed me a SIM card; only it was the wrong card. More phone calls, more wrong SIM cards mailed. Finally, they sent the right SIM card and with two days of my 30 trial days left, I finally got my old phone working again. I hastily packed up and mailed the Android phone back.

The funny thing is, now that I happily have my old phone back, calls are not being dropped and my battery is lasting just as long as it always did. Maybe it just needed a break or maybe it just wanted to be appreciated (just like the rest of us.)