Diatribes - Computer, Economic & Political

This blog is really just for me. If you find something interesting on it, leave me a comment. If you disagree with something, let me know what and why. In this blog I am just putting some of my thoughts for computers, the economy, politics, and other topics in writing.

14 April 2006

Ideas for Cell Phones

As my previous posts will show, I am not a luddite. But I don't own a cell phone, nor will I in the foreseeable future. I have a lot of reasons why not (mostly because I am cranky and antisocial).

Why I don't like cell phones (in no particular order)

- I don't like being accessible all the time. I want people to think a little bit before bothering me.

- I don't want people to expect me to be accessible all the time (those who keep cell phones off are often asked "why was your phone off")

- I think cell phones are largely a waste of time ("dude, where you at? What is going on..." more conversations on cell phones than regular phones seem to trail off like a pointless IM session)

- I think cell phones lead to bad planning and critical thinking skills (instead of thinking ahead we just do the "I'll call you" type of planning)

- I think cell phones cause more accidents than most other types of distractions. (Its bad when others are distracted because that MAY affect me, but worse when I am distracted because that WILL affect me).

There are others too, but these are the major ones. I know cell phones have terrific benefits. I won't waste my time writing them here, they are apparent. But I would like more out of cell phones than they currently give.

These are some must have features:

- Internet anywhere. I want to have an adapter that will plug my phone into my computer and have my phone provide internet. I know a lot of phone plans (sprint) offer this, but it isn't ubiquitous or inexpensive. A cellphone is already $20/month, can they really charge another $20/month for internet? I'm already paying for the time! An extra $20/month is fine for DSL at home, but not fine for a slow cell connection.

- Transparency. In my opinion it is unacceptable that I can't upload a 2-second mp3/wav (or at least a midi) to my cell phone for a ring-tone. $1 for a 2 second ring tone?!?! We're talking $30 per minute of ring tone at that price! Instead, for $1, I can buy an entire song on iTunes or an album on allofmp3.

- More transparency. My wife is staying with her same service, but moving to a new phone. That means that she has to go to a verizon store and THEY have to move her address/phone book. This is unacceptable. I want my address book on my computer to sync with my phone, compatibility both ways.

- Better coverage. I'm not talking in rural wyoming, I'm talking in suburbia. Cellcompanies have done great work (esp Verizon) but they still have a long way to go.

- Better power management. Not just a better battery. Better batteries are great, but I want lower consumption. When the battery on my wifes phone dies, if she tries to plug in to the wall and call again, the recharger can't keep up with the consumption so the phone will die again.

Less important than the preceding, I'd like some of these features:

- Note taking abilities. If you could call a certain number you'd get an answering machine (basically) that would record what you say, then email you what you said as an mp3. A 96kbps mono mp3 wouldn't take that much space or bandwidth (and that bitrate seems about right for cell phone quality audio).

- Free streaming audio. I don't mean enabling mass copyright infringement, I mean I want to be able to connect to my mp3s at home (via FTP, apache or whatever) and listen to them if I want. It is nice to be able to buy a song from my phone, but getting it onto a computer is a nightmare, the quality is lousy and the storage offered on phones is ghastly.

- Free streaming video. Same as above.

- Fewer buttons. Yeah this sounds impossible, but other than the 0-9, # and *, there is no reason cell phone should have 8 other buttons. Or 20 different menus to navigate through to get to any particular function.

- Better cross-platform compatibility. Camera phones are neat, but they don't play nice with Linux. I'd really like a standard of some sort for how these things connect to computers so that I could use it with Linux.

Many of these features are in particular phones, but I don't know of any phone/service that has all of them. Cell phones can do neat stuff, take pictures, watch video, play mp3s, et cetera. But if cell phones were to have these features, I'd snap one up right away.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Note taking abilities. If you could call a certain number and it would record your conversation, then email it to you as an mp3, that would be neat. A 96kbps mono mp3 wouldn't take that much space or bandwidth (and that bitrate seems about right for cell phone quality audio)."

This feature would be tricky to implement, but not for technological reasons. Every state has laws regarding recording a conversation on the phone. Some states are what are called "One Party" or "Two Party" states. In One Party states, only one of the callers has to be notified that the call is being recorded, this is why you'll hear "This call may be monitored" in nearly every automated customer service program. Other states are "Two Party," meaning that if an outside entity is doing the recording, both people have to be notified. Obviously exemptions are given to law enforcement agencies. You might say "It would be simple enough to just tell someone I was recording them" but not everyone would do that, and there would be an inordinate number of lawsuits if everyone has the ability to record every phone call they have.

I agree with the ringtones, but I don't download any because of price and since almost 90% of the time I'm in a situation where my phone has to be set on vibrate, so I just keep it on that. As far as other points regarding streaming media and data speeds, they're working on it. It's not as easy as finding a fatter cable, certain parts of the spectrum are off limits to phone companies or already in use by other groups/technologies. Then there is the whole issue of monetization.

15 April, 2006  
Blogger jambarama said...

Thanks for the comment. I was unaware about "one party" and "two party" states. But I don't think that would block what I want. I want to be able to call a number where there isn't a person. An answering machine basically, one that records what I say and then emails it to me. So the notes would be exclusively me.

16 April, 2006  

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