Friday, March 15, 2013

The Miracle Of the Smartphone

No matter what you say, smartphones are the greatest invention since yogurt in a tube. I know many people will argue and ask What about air conditioning? Or indoor plumbing? Or The Internet — The Source Of All Truth?

All of those are valid entries for Greatest Invention Ever, but in the end the smartphone stands alone at the top of the heap.

My mom would probably disagree. She won't even buy the latest smartphone because she has a belief that all phones and computers in general are from the Devil. She still owns a small flip phone like you could purchase in 1952 and uses it only for basics like make phone calls to the Western Union office to send a telegram. Maybe she knows best, I don't know.

After last week, I am now on my fourth smartphone. Smart doesn't even begin to describe what these phones mean to me. They are the first thing I pick up in the morning and the last thing I lay down at night, which probably explains the mysterious orange, Cheeto-like markings on my smartphone.

I got my newest little handheld miracle last week. While I might be a fan of cell phones, I am not high on cell phone contracts because it seems the cellular company wants me to sign a two-year contract for a device that is guaranteed to be broken or out-of-date within about six hours.

My last phone was a problem from the start. I tried to save a little money — a fact my wife likes to remind me — for another type of smartphone that was just as good as the Apple iPhone, matter of fact it wasn't even really as good as using an actual apple as a communication device. It was slow and cumbersome. And while I could sort of make it work for most of the 24-months of my contract, the last three months were a torture the likes of which the world hasn't seen since the Spanish Inquisition. Over that time, I could not check my e-mail, check anything online, text anyone with a last name beginning with G, H, K or for some reason, Q and I couldn't keep up with the Kardashians without a considerable amount of effort and patience on my part. I lit a candle and thanked the patron saint of cell phones when my package containing my new phones arrived. I couldn't wait to start putting it to use.

Of course as with any new technology, my new phone required some "set-up," which amounts to about three hours of downloading and uploading information, agreeing to something called "terms and conditions", and setting new passwords. I don't mind passwords but I am starting to have a hard time remembering the 1,346 passwords that I have. Everything requires a different type of password. Most passwords require at least eighteen characters, including a capital letter, at least one number, one Chinese character and at least one name of a Kardashian. Passwords have become so confusing and hard to remember that I now have to store them in a password-protected file on my iPhone and a legal pad next to my home computer. It's sad really.

But it's worth it to have all of that power in the palm of my hand (which also used to be the slogan for Twinkies snack cakes). 

After all the setup and downloading and uploading and approvals was over, I immediately started figuring out all the apps I wanted to put on my phone. "Apps" for the uninitiated is short for Applachian Mountains.

Haha. That's just a joke. The Applachian Mountains are much easy to circumnavigate than the Apps Store on my new phone.

Apps or applications are an integral part of making my life easier so I only wanted the latest and greatest apps on my phone. I figure the best thing to do is to ask an expert — or "Genuis" if you will. I went by my local store and asked simply: What apps do I need to download to be cool?

I didn't like the way this particular Genuis looked down his nose at me, but he fished out his own smartphone and showed me some of his favorites. After a thorough 15-minute demonstration of the latest apps, I promptly ignored his advice and started downloading my own apps. I only download helpful apps like Spanish translators, so that I can learn to cuss in a foreign language.

Now, I feel like a real member of the 21st century again. And most of all, in spite of what my mother thinks, smartphones are not from the Devil. Cell phone contracts on the other hand. 

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