2011-04-07 / Sam Bari

The bionic phone and cellular upgrades

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
By Sam Bari

A rumor is allegedly circulating in the scientific community that we are on the brink of a long awaited event in the evolution of human physiology. Possibly, in the next generation, humans will grow an extra appendage designed to accommodate the bionic phone.

In as few as three generations, the bionic phone will be standard equipment on most newborns in urban areas. That is how dependent we are on this seemingly convenient bit of technology. I did not make this up. It was on the Internet under the heading of “What will they think of next” on a sci-fi Web site.

I came to discover this little known bit of information while I was searching for guidance on how to buy a cell phone.

Yes, it’s that time again. Two years have gone by in a flash and my cell phone contract is up. I knew this because I started receiving upwards of 2,000 e-mails a day from various cell phone providers trying to entice me to get the latest and greatest technology the world has ever experienced.

Apparently, all of them have access to it. They just call it by different names. And all of them claim exclusivity to whatever the latest technology is.

I wouldn’t know because I have yet to learn the earliest technology. Just last week I figured out how to access e-mail on my cell phone that I’ve had for two years. Now I have to turn this phone in and get acquainted with a new model that I know nothing about.

The manual for my Blackberry is printed with a smaller font than most Bibles and is about twice as long. I read it as often as possible. Now that I am on Page 10 and starting to feel comfortable, they want me to upgrade to who knows what.

My first thoughts were: “I don’t need this kind of shabby treatment. I’m going to look elsewhere.” Bad mistake.

There are Web sites on the Internet that are designed specifi cally to help anyone in need of a cell phone. Unfortunately, not one of the sites says that you need a graduate degree in communications and interstellar electronics to understand what they are attempting to tell you.

For instance, wireless carriers in the USA operate over two different networks: Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM). Huh? Apparently, this is significant. You can’t take a CDMA phone and use it on GSM or vice versa.

What this means to us neophytes in the world of higher technology is that if you are in Kahoolawe, you might have diffi culty connecting to someone floating down the Zambezi River. This is causing me serious concern.

If the aforementioned is true, we should all have two phones— one for each system. I cannot imagine being out of touch because I bought a phone that uses the wrong network.

After you pick a network, you need a provider. There is a graph on the Internet that will tell you the areas where each provider is strong or weak. The downside is that a provider that offers a strong signal in New England might have weak data transfer in the same area.

If you manage to clear the maze of networks and providers, you must now pick a plan. Plans are tailor made for the individual with closer tolerances to an exact fit than for pistons in an Indy carracing machine. They will ask you questions about your lifestyle that you wouldn’t discuss with your priest or attorney.

Do you use the phone primarily for business or pleasure? How much do you text? Do you want to communicate with your home computer, send or receive photos or video, watch movies, stream TV, make international calls, video conference, and the list goes on ad nauseam.

Now comes the toughest part. I know, how could there be a tougher part, you ask? After you address all of these issues—you still have to pick a phone.

There are as many configurations of cell phones as there are questions about which one is best.

According to my calculations, to be completely covered for CDMA and GSM, strong signal and data in all areas, and the right configuration of cell phone to fit your lifestyle—you need at least eight different cell phones.

Without doubt, cell phones are a major part of why we live in a system we can’t understand.

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