Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “mobile phones”

Cellphone blues

I have three cell phones. This puzzles people who try to phone me, and are not sure which number to use, But I’m sure I’m not the only person how has acquired a number of cellphones as “upgrades” of a previous model.

The problem is that the perfect cell phone has not been developed. Each one has particular features that the others lack, and which makes it useful, and very often the “upgrade” is actually a downgrade.

I don’t know if it will help anyone who wants to call me, but here are my three phones, with a kind of catalogue raisonne of what they are good at, and what I try to use them for. Perhaps if any cell phone manufacturer happens to read this they might use it as a resource for designing the perfect phone, with all the good features and none of the bad.

My current cell phones

My current cell phones

Here they are, with the newest on the left. The leftmost one (Phone 1) I’ve had for a year. It’s from Vodacom, but I think the manufacturer is LG. I got it as an upgrade for the middle one, an Alcatel (Phone 2), which was in turn an upgrade for an HTC Cha Cha (since lost). The one on the right, the Samsung (Phone 3) was one Val got as an upgrade back in 2008, and she gave it to me when it was itself upgraded in 2010.

The main advantage of Phone 3 (the Samsung) is that it has a good quality 5 megapixel camera, which actually works. The main disadvantages are that its battery life is pretty short, and if you want to send an SMS you have to press the same keys multiple times. Also, its ring is not very loud, so if it’s at the other end of the house I often don’t hear it ringing. I use it mainly for family members, and for sending SMS messages to remind people about church services. And, of course, as a notebook camera for recording all kinds of things.

The main advantages of Phone 2, the Alcatel, is that it’s battery lasts for several days, and it has a loud and unmistakable ring. It also gives me 100 minutes a month (on our Telkom contract) so I use it for outgoing calls where possible. It also has a comprehensive keypad, which is good for typing SMSs, but I’m not sure how many one is allowed to send, and it will suddenly offer 50 free ones, to be used the same day, but then no more till the end of the month. It has a crummy 2 megapixel camera, with no easy way of getting pictures off, so I usually carry the Samsung along as well. It’s not so good for incoming calls, however, because it tends to switch itself off when it’s in my pocket, so there are sometimes missed calls.

The main advantage of Phone 1 is that it a smartphone, and so can theoretically connect to the Internet and send photos of gravestones to BillionGraves. Like the Samsung it has a 5 megapixel camera, but the quality is not so good, when it does take a picture, and most times it doesn’t. It will take any number of test pictures of nothing in particular, but when it’s something you really want, it doesn’t work at all, so I always carry the Samsung with it. It also has no keypad at all. When I first got it it took me a month to discover how to answer it when it rang. The other two have a green button you push to answer the phone. This one has a virtual button that appears randomly, and pushing it makes not a blind bit of difference. After a month or so I discovered you had to swipe right, if you can find the screen you are supposed to swipe right from. So I get a lot of missed calls on this one too.

The Internet connection on Phone 1 is also useful for times (like now) when our ADSL connsction isn’t working, but connecting to the Internet by 3G is pretty expensive.

Phone 1 is also good for receiving SMSs and replying to them. Unfortunately it often gives me phantom notifications for SMSs that are not there. It is also not so good for sending SMSs to groups. The other two are good for that, except for the Alcatel’s tendency to suddenly offer 50 free SMSs on the 3rd of the month, and nothing for the rest of the month. I realise that’s not the phone’s fault, but some inexplicable policy of the service provder (Telkom).

Phone 1 also likes to show photos of some of the people in my contacts list. They are not people I often phone, except by accident, because when I put the phone down on the table I may accidentally touch one of the pictures and the phone dials their number without my being aware of it.

So if I get a missed call on one phone, I might return the call from one of the others (usually the Alcatel, because that’s cheapest). And if I get an SMS on the Alcatel, I might reply on one of the others, because the Alcatel may have reached its monthly limit.

And if any phone manufacturer is thinking of producing the perfect phone, then I’d like to see one with a decent camera, and an easy way of getting any pictures I take from my phone to my computer. The Samsung (the oldest) does that best. It has a cable, and an SD card you can remove without having to open the phone and take out the battery and put in the computer’s card reader slot, so you can plug it into the computer and get the photos off.

My old HTC ChaCha  Android phone, for all its faults, had a cable that you could plug into a computer and see the phone as an external disk drive. That doesn’t seem to work on the new one, so it is a downgrade rather than an upgrade, with less functionality. And even though it has four times the storage of the HTC ChaCha it still tells me that there is not enough storage to update the 18 apps with updates waiting, each of which is more bloated than the last, and most of which I’m never likely to use, but they are compulsory — they came with the phone, can’t be moved to the SD card, and utter dire warnings if you tr to remove them.

I’d like to see a phone with an easy and intuitive way of answering the phone when it rings.

But until I get one, whenever I buy trousers I look to see if they have enough pockets for three phones.

Eish MTN

When I first got a cell phone back in 2001, I got one from MTN, mainly because it was easier to understand their pricing. It was a pay-as-you-go one, and I got it because I was running around trying to organise for a student to travel to Kenya, and getting passports and visas and had to keep phoning.

Now they started sending me all kinds of offers. I’d get an SMS once a week or so, urging me to recharge and get double the air time and things like that. I usually ignored them because I don’t phone a lot, and prefer e-mail to talking on the phone. Then they started sending them twice or three times a day.

Y’ello! Recharge today and get 500% your recharge value from MTN. Offer  valid till 05-AUG-14. T&C’s Apply Opt Out: STOP to 30246 (FREE)

So after all that nagging, I thought I’d try it. I had about R78.00 worth of airtime on my phone, and topped it up with another R60.00. They sent me an SMS to say that the top up was worth R300, to be used within a week.

MTNAyobaI’m hard-put to find enough to talk about for that long, but I phoned some friends I hadn’t seen for a long time, who lived far away, and caught up with their news. By the end of the week I’d used upabout R50.00 or so of the R300.00 they’d given me. So I expected that by the end of the week my airtime would be back to what it was before. But it wasn’t. It was R60.00, the amount I had paid for the recharge, but without the R78.00 I’d had before.

So it’s a scam. They sday they are giving you more airtime, but they take away the same amount at the end of the period. In the end, they give you nothing. They pretend to give you air time to make more calls, but the cost of those calls comes off your original airtime, when the extra airtime expires.

It’s all smoke and mirrors, a ripoff.

EishMTNWell, I did like they said in that SMS, and SMSed STOP to the number they gave, and they said I’d been removed from their marketing list.

But it’s ironic to think that I first joined MTN because I thought their pricing was more transparent, that What You SEE IS What You Get (WYISYG). But it isn’t, not at all.

So it’s Boo! Hiss! to MTN.

Ayoba MTN? No, it’s Eish MTN.

Next time I want a cell phone, I know where not to go.

Telephone tapping and worse

One would think, with all the brouhaha about the closure of News of the World as a result of the telephone tapping scandal, that people might think twice about sending out spam e-mails like this

XCeptor – the ultimate spy software for mobile phones – you can install one REMOTELY to any phone around the world.

Now all you will need to do in order to get total control over a mobile (target) phone of a person of your interest is to send the special MMS to that target phone, which is generated by our unique Xsepter LOADER. This way you can get very valuable and otherwise un-accessible information about a person of your interest very easily.

All you will need to do is to install our unique Xseptic LOADER to your mobile phone and start its execution. You will get the dialog box on the display of your mobile phone and you will be requested to enter a phone number of a target mobile phone of a person of your interest. Afterwords you will choose SEND option in that dialog box. The Xseptoid LOADER will send the special MMS message to the target phone immediately and a person of your interest will have no idea that this special MMS message has been received by his phone. Our Xseptic software will be immediately installed to a target phone and it will be automatically configured for communication with your (source) phone. The special MMS message which has been used as the carrier of our Xsepter software from your (source) phone to a target phone will be automatically deleted then.

The example of use:

You will send the special MMS message containing our unique Xsepter software to a mobile phone of e.g. your girlfriend. In case your girlfriend will be using her (target) mobile phone, you will be provided by following unique functions:

In case your girlfriend will make an outgoing call or in case her (target) phone will receive an incoming call, you will get on your personal standard mobile phone an immediate SMS message about her call. This will give you a chance to listen to such call immediately on your standard mobile phone.

In case your girlfriend will send an outgoing SMS message from her (target) mobile phone or she will receive a SMS message then you will receive a copy of this message on your mobile phone immediately.

This target phone will give you a chance to listen to all sounds in its the surrounding area even in case the phone is switched off. Therefore you can hear very clearly every spoken word around the phone.

You will get a chance to find at any time the precise location of your girlfriend by GPS satellites.

All these functions may be activated / deactivated via simple SMS commands.

… wouldn’t one?

The name of the software has been changed to protect the guilty, but no doubt lots of unscrupulous journalists already know and use it.

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