Posts Tagged ungeeking

Dumb Phone Update

So, it has been quite a while since you have heard from me. I’ve got a lot going on, but I’ve been having a difficult time typing any of it out.

Anyhow, here is a quick one, partly because somebody asked recently what happened with the experiment where I gave up my smart phone for a month. I am into my tenth month without a smart phone. Some people see that as a success, but most of my very techie friends see it as a massive fail. People who knew me prior to the experiment, and haven’t seen me since, probably find the idea of me sitting there without a phone near constantly in my hands, a surprising thing. I have so little to use my opposable thumbs for now.

In many ways it is great, however there have been drawbacks, and I am about to embark on a very busy several months that might be helped by a smart phone, so I’ve been looking again. As I explained before, I really want certain things in a phone. What I most want is a 5 row physical QWERTY keyboard, with defined keys, in a wide format, and I want the phone to work. Also, I want the plan to not be offensively expensive, and I want the provider to only piss me off mildly. I am asking way too much.

Anyhow, I am researching phones, and one of the friends who has been most frustrated by my more restricted communication availability happens to have an iPhone that is on a plan, but isn’t in use. It is just sitting there. The phone was offered to me, and I turned it down, because I don’t get along well with touch screens, so I need (first world problems) want something with a physical keyboard.

A few days later, I realized that was asinine. I should at least give it a try. So, I am currently borrowing an iPhone. Only two people have the number, the friend whose phone it is, and my kid.

The kid texted me to find out if I needed anything from the store. I tried and tried and tried to reply to her, and it wasn’t going well. Finally I sent her 3 messages. She responded by calling me.

Here are the three messages:

  1. Ing xanod dupe on thhos thigh
  2. Oh gps cannot atop laiidnff
  3. Halo

You can submit what you think I am trying to type in comments. It’s like the crappiest contest ever. Maybe I’ll text the winner.

She texts, “Turn on auto-correct and then type. That would be fun.”

I replied, “Aiyocotrdcy I’d on”

“Perfect.” She responds.

I did a screen cap of this exchange, and I would post that, but this is an original iPhone which did not allow the sending of photos via MMS, and I haven’t been able to set up my own email through the phone because I cannot get my password typed into it correctly.

It’s awesome, right?

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About Face

I like routine and it is easy for me to fall into the habit of doing something because it is what I do, long beyond the point of that thing being important. If I do not do it, I will feel anxious, because a thing which I am “supposed” to do, is not being done.

I disabled my facebook account a week ago. I don’t expect to remain off of facebook forever (at least not yet), but it wasn’t working well for me (from a personal, not a technical standpoint). I was spending far to much time on facebook, even though I wasn’t enjoying that time. I was also spending too much time trying to figure out how I was going to make it work better for me, so I decided to remove that from my thoughts for the moment and just go cold turkey.

Now, with a little perspective, I’m coming closer to deciding how to relaunch my use, and manage it in a way that is less time and energy consuming, and hopefully provides more positive than negative.

I joined facebook (and Myspace) because my daughter was interested in being able to hang out with her friends online, and I wanted to look at the sites so I could make an informed decision. She was not yet old enough to join according to their TOS, so it was not yet an option, but I knew she’d like to have an account on her 13th birthday, so I started doing my homework ahead of time. I hated myspace, but facebook was fun for me. I had a manageable number of friends and it was nice to have a window into their lives, and for them into mine.

Four years later I have, less than, but far too close to, 200 “friends” which is absolutely ludicrous. There are not 200 people on this planet who give a shit whether I am alive or dead, much less how my day is going or what the past ten photos of my pets look like. Hell, most of my actual friends don’t really give much of a shit how my day is going, because, face it, most of my days are going the same as previous ones.

The thing is, I basically added everyone who ever added me, as long as I sort of knew them. I have no idea why they added me to start with. Do they just like the friend number to look big? Did they give facebook access to their email address book? I know one added me so I could play facebook games with her. I added less than a dozen people first. But, I figured if I was going to add them, then I should pay attention to them. I made friend groups so that I could post to only specific people, but didn’t use them for reading. If they were on my friend list, I read their updates. All of them. This could take a very long time if I hadn’t looked recently. Yes. I know. You don’t need to say it, and neither do I.

Some of them are really fucking annoying too.

Plus, I didn’t block any apps or games, so I got all that spam too. The whole point was to be there so that I could check it out for my kid, and keep an eye on her and how she used it. If she started spamming people with app shit, I needed to know it. No way to guide her along if I had blocked them all. Now, she is older and I am totally confident in the care she exercises as far as facebook apps go (and really, she can go ages without even logging in to facebook, because she is busy being addicted to tumblr instead, where half the time I want to throw up over stuff I see, but hey, she is older now, so whatever).

So, I was overwhelmed with all this stuff to read, and the first choice was to narrow down my “friend” list. It turned out that was easier said than done, because while many had no real connection to my life, they were at least the friend of a friend (or friend of a business associate), and I worried about offending somebody, or some such nonsense. While I mostly feel it is nonsense, I don’t actually want to hurt somebody’s feelings if I can easily avoid it.

So, I believe over the course of my week break, I’ve come to accept that I’ll just need to create reading groups on facebook, and really only look at those people regularly. Plus, try to just see what I see when I happen to login, and not go back to check on everything they’ve posted about since I last checked.

I still find it a shitty way to communicate at any level that actually matters to me. Not to say that there are not some people that I manage to have meaningful communication on there with, but for most people, even those I care about a great deal, it just isn’t a good place for that. It is a place of small talk, and I don’t enjoy small talk. It feels like a waste of time and energy.

I’d always prefer to have a one on one conversation, or just sit home and read a book, to attending any kind of group event. Living your online life as a group event is what facebook is all about. It is a group event that invades my home every single day. I need to manage the door much better.

Fifteen years ago, the internet was more than a great resource to me, it was a refuge from the way general society interacted everyday. That is no longer the case. There is no way I can stop the internet cold turkey. I’ve stored my brain in the cloud. Dependence aside, it is clearly time for me to make a lot of changes.

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Disconnected

I’m finding it difficult to find any enthusiasm within me for G+, despite being a borderline Google fangirl. For a long time I was very anxious for a viable facebook alternative.

The thing is, I don’t think I even want an alternative to facebook anymore. I just feel so incredibly done with social networking as a THING.

I don’t need a “social networking” site. I need a “hermit occasionally bump into other people and maybe share a jug of moonshine” site.

But, let’s pretend that I am open to using something vaguely social still.

I would need G+ to integrate with Google Reader in a smooth and significant way.

I would need to be able to EASILY mark things as read. The current Mute is too many steps. Plus, I’d like to be able to mark as Read, but show me again if new content is added.

I’d need some way of labeling or tagging content, both purposeful tagging by the author based on topics, and autotagging by G+ based on type (a link post versus a photo post versus a shared post) so that I could filter reading lists based on both circles and content type. Some people I am very interested in their original content, but really don’t want to see the 100s of goofy links they post per day.

Mostly though, I am tired. I am old. I’ve been living a very rich and dear to me online life since before the web existed. Quite frankly, the more sites rise up to connect us to people, the less I feel truly connected to the people who actually matter most to me.

My month long dumb phone experiment has stretched into a month and a half with me hardly blinking. Rather than chomping at the bit to hurry and get a new smart phone, I feel half tempted to give up my laptop instead.

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Yeah, Yeah, Yeah – Experiment Update

Multiple friends have pointed out to me that the month of June is over. I went an entire month without a smart phone, and am now more than a week into July, and I still don’t have one.

WTF?

I honestly thought it was going to be REALLY difficult for me. As it turns out, I’ve rarely missed my smart phone, and more than that, I am totally disinterested in my dumb phone. I’ve gone a couple of days in a row with it set on silent, without noticing that I was missing all calls and texts. I forget to charge it, and it is dead half the time. I forget to take it with me. I have become my mother.

I check email significantly less now. I used to check it like a rat pushing a button for a pellet. Sometimes I’d find a good email in my inbox. Push. Push. Push. Push. There have been days in June when I only checked my email once. Other than while on a couple of cruises, that is less than I have checked my email since 1993, when I needed to use dial-up.

I’m done. I’m not really, but I could be. I could let go of being connected for a long time.

However, I’ve had multiple people whom I actual care about lodge official complaints about this experiment. They hate me being so unavailable. So, somehow, I must get back to having a smart phone again.

But, I can’t find the right phone, which is really how I got here to start with.

I am looking for a 5 row QWERTY Android Phone, with a high build quality, a reasonable price, and available with an unlimited data plan. I don’t want to sign a contract.

The Android Sidekick 4G has the best keyboard of everything I looked at, because they sort of tried to keep the old form factor, and the Sidekick 2 keyboard was close to perfect for me (the 3 sucked, but the LX 2009 was okay). Unfortunately I think the build quality feels cheap in comparison to other phones and the way the phone opens is not nearly as good as the Sidekick they broke. Of course, T-Mobile isn’t exactly my best friend these days. Meh.

The G2 felt better and seemed like a better choice, but only had 4 rows. In the past month, T-Mobile replaced it with a G2X which doesn’t have a keyboard at all, meaning I’d have to make an extra effort to find one.

The Droid 3 has the 5th row, but is with Verizon, which means more expensive and they are tossing out the unlimited data plan, so that makes it even MORE expensive.

The Xperia Pro looks interesting, but isn’t out yet, and previously they said it would be out 2nd quarter 2011, and now they are saying 3rd quarter. Also, it is likely not going to be released in the US at all, so I’d have to get an unlocked international one. It doesn’t have the 5th row either, which makes jumping through hoops for it less appealing.

At this point, I guess I am leaning toward the Samsung Intercept which doesn’t have the 5th row, and looks to have even lower build quality than the new Sidekick, but it is significantly cheaper, and maybe Virgin Mobile will annoy me less than T-Mobile. They prepaid plan pricing is definitely better, and more suited to how I use a phone.

So, at some point I’ll get another phone, just to please a few key people. I don’t feel in a hurry, but I know they are. I make no promises as to the speed at which I manage this. Probably sometime post birthday week, since I have too much to do before then to actually decide which phone that I don’t want will be the one I go ahead and get.

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Still Dumb

I am 3 weeks into my dumb phone experiment. I’ve lost all interest in my phone. I often have no idea where it is. I don’t bother to charge it at night. I have practiced the texting and gotten much better at it, although I still think it is very annoying. For instance, it thinks that pressing the sequence 278624 is more likely to be because I want to say “brtobi” than “brunch”. I do occasionally really miss the smart phone, for useful reasons, like being able to look up something which is actually pressing or important, or having access to the occasional important and time sensitive email. I had myself rather convinced that much more of my email was important and time sensitive. It turns out that only applies to maybe 1 or 2 emails per week.

Mostly I am discovering that my addiction to my smart phone was just that, an addiction. It wasn’t vastly improving my life. It wasn’t making my life easier. I just “liked” it, and I kind of didn’t even like it, I just felt like I needed it, and felt anxious when I didn’t have it, which I chose to interpret as liking loving it, but it turns out it was just a cliché unhealthy relationship. How embarrassing.

I’m also feeling slightly more motivated to see people in person, it is particularly odd because these are people I don’t normally interact with via text or social media, and yet by tuning that noise down, it is those people I am thinking of more often than the missing static in the cloud. By slightly more motivated, I mean the idea has crossed my mind on more than one occasion, I’m still not actually inspired to making that face to face social interaction happen, and it is unlikely I will be spurred to action any time soon, what with it being SUMMER and all.

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