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Phones in stories and general

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

Another thread is being taken over with discussion about phones, for and against as well as naming them in stories. I'm hoping to move it here.

I have a cell phone to receive and make voice communications while away from my residence and in emergencies. So the smart phones have a huge amount of crap extras I don't use and I avoid them like the plague.

One reason I, and many others, avoid the fancy phones is the sheer cost. not just the fancy phones cost a lot more here, but the cost of using them on the Internet is horrendous. The a monthly charge for 1 GB of data on a Cell Phone is the same as what I can get over 300 GB of data on an ADSL service at home, or 120 GB on a satellite service. Internet usage for a cell phone over 2 years is so profitable that many companies will give you a free phone for a 2 year contract.

Edit to add: I avoid giving names in stories in most cases because not all phone brands are available everywhere.

REP

@Ernest Bywater

and I avoid them like the plague.


same here. My cell phone is the basic model at the time I purchased it. I didn't need the camera capability and didn't want it, but there was nothing available without a camera capability.

My provider keeps trying to get me to upgrade my phone, but the provider only has smart phones available now. I don't see any sense in upgrading when what I have satisfies my needs. I will be very upset if my phone dies or my provider stops providing service for the phone's communication protocol.

StarFleet Carl

@Ernest Bywater

I have a cell phone to receive and make voice communications while away from my residence and in emergencies. So the smart phones have a huge amount of crap extras I don't use and I avoid them like the plague.


I used to do that, then finally ended up having to upgrade when my flip phone finally took a dump. Went with a Samsung for a while because I didn't want an Apple product. Then ended up needing an Apple because a Samsung wasn't compatible with something at work - which was fine, because the Droid had finally quit working anyway because their OS was too buggy.

Okay, I may have installed some bad software in it, because it was so darned hackable, but that's beside the point, right?

Net result was I ended up with an iPhone 5S about 6 years ago. Note that I'm STILL using that same iPhone. I've gone through 4 cases for the thing, because dropping it onto a parking lot is a bad thing. (Learned my lesson with the old flip phones - I used to drop those in sump pits.) Wife has gone through two iPhones due to dropping them into cups of liquid.

At home I have effectively unlimited internet (I think the most download I've ever done is 250GB in one month) via cable modem for $60 per month, and I've unlimited data on our cell phones for $40 per line. I stream music on my phone, wife streams movies since due to her job at times she may have to wait 3 - 4 hours for a client to have a procedure done. (Nurse doing medical transport for elderly from assisted living to doctors and back.)

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Dominions Son

@REP

My cell phone is the basic model at the time I purchased it. I didn't need the camera capability and didn't want it, but there was nothing available without a camera capability.


The first time I got a phone with a camera, there were phones, even smart phones still available without cameras. Oddly, they were more expensive than similar phones with cameras.

I didn't particularly want a phone with a camera, but it wasn't worth paying extra for one without.

Replies:   REP  Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@StarFleet Carl

At home I have effectively unlimited internet (I think the most download I've ever done is 250GB in one month) via cable modem for $60 per month, and I've unlimited data on our cell phones for $40 per line. I stream music on my phone, wife streams movies since due to her job at times she may have to wait 3 - 4 hours for a client to have a procedure done. (Nurse doing medical transport for elderly from assisted living to doctors and back.)


It's hard to get a one to one correlation on price or service etc., but my provider has the following services (NB: one of the cheaper services available too):

Sim card only service where you have your own phone bought elsewhere is $29.99 for 4GB per month, plus $10 per extra 1 GB each month.

ADSL is $59.99 for 500 GB per month on your landline.

Satellite service is $54.99 for 200 GB per month.

Cost for Internet access are not uniform the world over.

REP

@Dominions Son

And now everyone demands a phone with a camera so they can do selfies. I have to admit that phones with video capability can be useful in certain situations.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Capt. Zapp

@REP

I will be very upset if my phone dies or my provider stops providing service for the phone's communication protocol.


My primary phone is a 'flip' type, but not the basic type. It has the standard numeric dialing buttons on the outside along with a small information screen, but when open, it has a full qwerty keyboard and a second, larger screen. I love this phone so much that when they were discontinued, I went on Ebay and bought 4 more just so I would have a replacement. I am down to to spares due to accidents making the others unusable (cell phones don't stand up too well against lawnmower blades). My carrier has been trying to get me to upgrade to a newer phone, but the ones they offer are either 'smart' phones or sliders that don't have the second screen.

Don't know what to recommend about if the provider stops supporting the comm. protocol. I don't see that happening anytime soon though - unless you are using an original 'brick' cell phone. I understand even those still work in some areas.

Tw0Cr0ws
Updated:

The first thing is DO NOT get a contract phone.

One of the biggest US cellular companies has a $200 contract; you can get the exact same service from them for $140 without a contract. They are not the cheapest, but get rave reviews for service.

The second thing is never buy a 'flagship' phone (the top of their line).
They are almost always the ones that have a permanently installed battery and no way to add storage such as a microSD card and are the most expensive.
Apple makes nothing but flagship phones.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
tendertouch

I have a smartphone (iPhone SE that replaced my 5s when I gave it to passed it to someone else) but the reasons are maybe a little different. I find the GPS (off line maps make it much more reliable) to be a great comfort - I don't necessarily use it for directions but it's there to help me get unlost when exploring by car, bike or on foot. I use it to read downloaded books and as a music player. It's useful for traveling - check in, changing reservations, etcs - since I rarely take a computer unless I'm traveling for work. It's not my nicest camera but it's the one that I always have with me so it gets the most use. It's my alarm clock, watch and reminder system as well.

On the downside it lets people call me and have some expectation that I'll get the call.

As far as including specifics in a story, any reference to technology can become dated but if you're willing to lock your story in a specific time then specifics about technology can add depth or at least color.

REP

@Capt. Zapp

My phone is a flip-top Samsung - 5/8" x 1-3/4" x 3-3/4". Fits in my front pocket nicely. I think it is a couple of generations beyond the 'brick". I bought it before I moved to San Diego and that was in 2009, so call it about 10 years old. The only problem I've had with it is a button on its side. When I accidently pressed the button it asked me to give it a voice command. I hate devices that talk to me, so I glued the button in place so it can't be pressed.

I don't recall if it was the G3 or G4 protocol that was the big thing when I bought the phone. From what I read the G2 network was recently retired. I suspect the G3 and G4 protocols will shortly go bye-bye also.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


So the smart phones have a huge amount of crap extras I don't use and I avoid them like the plague.


I avoided cellphones for years. Then I broke down and got a Samsung smartphone.

Two words for having a smart phone: Candy Crush.

I now have an iPhone. It's better. I couldn't live without it.

The texting. In fact, texting seems to be the only way to communicate with my gardener. And I text my doctor for a quick response. I get notified by text from Walmart when my prescription is ready. Of course it comes in handy with friends and family, especially if you want to get more than one person involved.

And then there's the camera. Have a question in Walmart? Take a picture and text it to my wife and get the answer. Have a great bowling game? Take a picture and text it to my instructor. My granddaughter texted me her ultrasound of her baby.

Speaking of bowling. My wife videos me while bowling.

I check baseball scores when not at home or even when home while watching something else with my wife. I keep peeking.

It's great to Google something when needed.

And GPS when I need directions.

I deposit checks with my phone. No need to go to the bank.

The calculator comes in handy when figuring a tip at a restaurant.

The flashlight came in handy many times.

My wife is a glass artist. We take credit cards. My iPhone is a point of sale terminal (using Square).

Did I mention Candy Crush. LOL

Dominions Son

@Capt. Zapp

cell phones don't stand up too well against lawnmower blades


Or snowblowers.

Dominions Son

@REP

I suspect the G3 and G4 protocols will shortly go bye-bye also.


Do you mean 3G and 4G?

If so, it's unlikely that either will go away anytime soon. 5G is only available in the US in a couple of test cities and there are rural areas that don't have 4G service yet.

awnlee jawking

@Tw0Cr0ws

They are almost always the ones that have a permanently installed battery


After the recent scandal of Apple slowing down old phones 'to preserve the battery', they offered fixed-price battery replacement for £25 in the UK. However many people who have tried to avail themselves of the offer have been told that before the battery can be replaced, the phone must have other repair work done at extortionate rates, often exceeding the phone's value.

Apple know their market - people who are happy to overpay for products.

AJ

Replies:   Michael Loucks
Michael Loucks

@awnlee jawking

After the recent scandal of Apple slowing down old phones 'to preserve the battery', they offered fixed-price battery replacement for £25 in the UK. However many people who have tried to avail themselves of the offer have been told that before the battery can be replaced, the phone must have other repair work done at extortionate rates, often exceeding the phone's value.


Actually, it was to prevent a phone crash when the processor hit peak performance and drew more power than the battery could supply. As best I can tell from available information, the change was made by the bug-fixing team.

Apple's error was not putting this through the design team, and creating an information screen with a switch to allow you to turn on 'crash randomly' mode.

(Or you could argue non-removable batterie are the error, but that's the common situation these days).

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Keet
Updated:

I have a CAT "builders phone", which means a very sturdy one you can drop a floor down, have it roll in the swimming pool and it doesn't care. It has an OS I now nothing about, not any of the big OS'es. It is dual-sim, which I do need, and lasts more then a week on a single charge. For me the choice was easy. I don't want Apple/Android/Windows, period. I don't have/use/want Whatsapp, FB, twitter etc. All I need is a phone with incidental use of SMS. And guess what, I'm a IT professional with my own little company. For me the most important is a little less support for the data-whores, long battery life and a simple calendar. I can buy that for under €60 and I usually use the same phone at least 4-5 years. I have 2 phone numbers, one of which I have from the beginning of the current cell-phone system, at that time with a refrigerator sized Nokia that lasted 2 months on a charge. I pay less for two subscriptions then most other users for one (one €6.95/month, the business number €9.95/month) and I never use all the minutes on either one. It's all email nowadays.

So I'm cheap? I don't think so. I see no point in spending hundreds of euros for something I will never use, needs daily charging and throws my data on the street. On the other hand there are I think 4 high end PC's in the house with 7 large monitors, 2 laptops and, surprise, surprise, NO TV. I think I'm not cheap, just strange.

Replies:   paliden
Uther_Pendragon

@REP

Still have a flip phone. It's having problems, but I'm not going to go with a camera.

Replies:   REP  Dominions Son
paliden

@Keet

Keet, where did you buy your phone?
The two models I looked at on Amazon were the s41 and the s31. Both had android 7 but I could not find a definitive answer as to whether or not it had 2 sim cards. I would strongly consider buying the s31 (300.00 vs 450.00 for t he s41) but the really big draw is not using Windows, Android or Apple OS.

Replies:   Keet
REP

@Uther_Pendragon

I understand. The question is will you have a choice.

Keet
Updated:

@paliden

I bought it from a webshop in The Netherlands but they don't deliver oversees. I have this one (surprised they still have it on stock).

https://www.coolblue.nl/product/460056/cat-b25.html
They have a US site and it looks like it's still available
https://www.catphones.com/en_us/cat-b25-mobilephone.html
The B30 might be a better alternative for you, a little more expensive but nowhere near 300 (€89.99 here).

Replies:   paliden
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

I didn't particularly want a phone with a camera, but it wasn't worth paying extra for one without.

The big thing now, because ANY phone or computer can be hacked to record using your phone without your knowledge, is to tape over the camera lens. They've now proven that Alexa and Siri can be 'fooled' by basic music or 'talking blogs' to force the phones/computers to purchase items or install software without the owners permission. Maybe permanently turning off the volume controls isn't a bad idea either!

Replies:   Keet
Keet

@Crumbly Writer

The big thing now, because ANY phone or computer can be hacked to record using your phone without your knowledge, is to tape over the camera lens. They've now proven that Alexa and Siri can be 'fooled' by basic music or 'talking blogs' to force the phones/computers to purchase items or install software without the owners permission. Maybe permanently turning off the volume controls isn't a bad idea either!

See, that's one of the reasons why I stick to the dumb phones.

Crumbly Writer

@REP

And now everyone demands a phone with a camera so they can do selfies. I have to admit that phones with video capability can be useful in certain situations.

It's more than just that. I've long loved fancy cameras with large, professional lens, but the newer smart phones now have 'compensation' software (similar to what satellite cameras do to make faint images appear more pronounced so they can observe distance planets with little actual signal) that allows a phone to actually take better pictures than the most expensive SLRs.

The other important point, is that while home cable connections are cheaper, the modern 4G phone datalines are actually much faster than a high-speed data line. Imagine that, relaying a message through a string of cell-towers and receivers actually operates faster than a direct connection!

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@REP

Fits in my front pocket nicely.

I used to do that, but after having a pacemaker put in due to arrhythmia that was causing me to pass out, I'm not longer allowed to. Now, everything electronic goes in my back pocket where it spends most of the time being sat on! Still, phone are so sturdy nowadays, it really doesn't affect the useful life.

Crumbly Writer

@Michael Loucks

(Or you could argue non-removable batterie are the error, but that's the common situation these days).

Non-removable batteries have more to do with the ever-decreasing size (thickness) of smart phones that it does with restricting access. If they make them easy to access, we'd still be dealing with bricks which aren't water-resistant! Personally, given the trade off, I'm glad to say goodbye to cracking open and screwing around with my camera.

Dominions Son

@Uther_Pendragon

Still have a flip phone. It's having problems, but I'm not going to go with a camera.


When it finally fails, you aren't going to have a choice.

StarFleet Carl

@Switch Blayde

Have a question in Walmart? Take a picture and text it to my wife and get the answer.


Yep. Wife writes the shopping list on the white board attached to the refrigerator. Take a picture of the white board and it's there for easy reference.

Got confusion? Shoot her a text or send a picture.

Also when doing shopping and you suspect something is overpriced but you'd like to have confirmation - use the Amazon app, scan the barcode, and you'll see what that item costs on Amazon. Got to have it now and you're in Best Buy? Take that picture with the Amazon price for the same item to the sales guy and have him match the price.

And of course the most compelling reason for having a phone on your camera - walking down the street and someone suddenly starts yelling at you because you're a Baby Killer for wearing your Cold War Veteran hat. Start recording, so when they touch you first - in a stand your ground state - you are free and clear for beating the shit out of them (AND for showing restraint in not shooting them). That may have happened to me once...

paliden

@Keet

Thank you. But I still have 2 years and/or 2585 minutes left on my Alcatel trac-phone.

REP
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


actually operates faster than a direct connection!


That's understandable, if by direct you mean wired.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Have a question in Walmart? Take a picture and text it to my wife and get the answer.


Is that okay in the US? In the UK, retailers try to stop customers taking photos in stores. The official reason is to stop price-sensitive information being transmitted to rivals, but actually they're probably more concerned about covering up their slovenly practices.

AJ

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
awnlee jawking

@Capt. Zapp

cell phones don't stand up too well against lawnmower blades


Can any stand up to Switch Blaydes? ;)

AJ

StarFleet Carl

@awnlee jawking

Is that okay in the US? In the UK, retailers try to stop customers taking photos in stores.


Considering you'll probably see half the people walking through a store here have their phones out, I'd say try and stop them. Also, if a retailer told me to not take a picture, that'd be the last time I shopped at that retailer and he'd get a very nasty Google review.

We can tell how Wal-Mart here has adapted to the internet. I walk in and can usually see 4 or 5 Wal-Mart employees walking around with racks and bins, picking online orders for customers. The internet and shopping that way is here, so retailers have to either adapt to it or eventually suffer the fate of ShopGirl in 'You've Got Mail'. (Which begs the question on how well the big bookstore is now doing - probably not very well...)

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@StarFleet Carl

Which begs the question on how well the big bookstore is now doing - probably not very well...


True. When assessing which reference book to purchase, I like to flick through candidates to make my own assessment of how well-written it is and how thoroughly it addresses its subject. With the demise of big bookstores, I'm reduced to the less satisfying Amazon reviews and 'look inside'.

AJ

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
StarFleet Carl

@awnlee jawking

With the demise of big bookstores, I'm reduced to the less satisfying Amazon reviews and 'look inside'.


We still have a Barnes & Noble relatively close. Maybe once every couple of months we'll go there, she'll get a caramel macchiato, I'll get a large decaf, and we'll browse. Other times we'll go to Half Price Books and see what people have traded in or sold them, just to get the smell of ink and paper in our systems.

I miss the Hachette Books warehouse sale. I don't think there wasn't a single year we didn't end up with at least a full box of books, sometimes two or three. They had pallets upon pallets of books, all for $1 (each book, not each pallet!).

Replies:   Capt. Zapp
Capt. Zapp

@StarFleet Carl

They had pallets upon pallets of books, all for $1 (each book, not each pallet!).


That reminds me of an incident that happened to a friend. He went to a public auction where the city was selling off just about everything from a move to a new building. There were pallets of office equipment, filing cabinets, copiers, computers, etc. My friend decided he wanted one of the pallets of computers and placed a bid of $25 to open. Nobody bid against him. Imagine his surprise to find he had not only got the computers, but 1 pallet of copiers, 1 of printers and 1 of monitors as well. Not bad for $25, but boy was his wife pissed!

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
StarFleet Carl

@Capt. Zapp

the computers, but 1 pallet of copiers, 1 of printers and 1 of monitors as well


That's when you get to have one HELL of a garage sale, or a great trip to a flea market.

I ended up doing something like that once. An entire shopping mall was closed, and they were auctioning everything left in it. There was a small stack (about 10) of 4' glass shelves in front of a clothing store and my wife wanted them so we could put up some display shelving at home. I won with a $20 bid. Turned out it was also all the glass shelving still IN the clothing store, too. Nobody wanted them because they were 25 pounds per shelf - it was 1/2" tempered glass.

342 of them.

Took me four trips and all day with my truck fully loaded weight wise each trip to get them home and unloaded. So two tanks of gas ($60) and 4 stitches ($100). The next Sunday we went to the local flea market at the 4H fairgrounds with half a dozen sheets and stuck a $10 per sheet price tag on them, with the note that more was available.

Lady was there from out of state that had just sold some animals at the 4H sheep auction. She owned several beauty salons in another state and had been pricing glass shelves. Back then, a single heavy duty shelf like these was about $120 EACH. She grabbed her husband, followed us back to our house with their trailer, and gave me $3,000 for 300 of them without even a quibble.

Replies:   JohnBobMead
JohnBobMead

@StarFleet Carl

Now that turned out to be an incredibly good investment!

And an excellent deal for everyone concerned, potentially even the auctioneer at the shopping mall; paying to have them hauled away would have cost far more than what you bid, so even though it wasn't much, it was still a win for them.

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