STEVE BOUSER: Maybe I'm Too Dumb for My Smart Phone
It's not a phone, exactly. It's --
Oops! What happened? I tried to do a quick word count on that lead paragraph (we try to keep them to 25 words at The Pilot), and my column bleeped off the tiny computer screen.
Hate to start all over again. Let's see. Click on Start. ... Programs. ... Word Mobile. ... 071206Bouser. ... Yess! There it is. Must have saved itself automaticALLY.
Dang. Didn't mean to hit the shift key. I'm trying to get the hang of this cute little one-by-three-inch keyboard that slides out the bottom opxf -- I mean of -- this thing. Pretty nifty, but it's kind of l&ike playing one of those little Africazzzn thumb pianos. I keep hGitting two or threE of these tiny kEYs at 9once.
Where waddFs I? Oh, yeah. This isn't a phopne, exactly. It's called a Pocket PC (also known as an Apache), but we need a generic term thatg applies to this high-tech play-toy as well as other things such as the Blackberry and that new Motorola Q that Verizon keeps talking about in the commerciAls. Some call them smart phones.
I never thought I would get so deep into this kind of thing, being a pr5etty low-tech kind of guy. But a friend ostentatiously whipped his brabd-new Pocket PC out at lunch a few weeks ago, and it was covetousness at first sigh6. Nothing would do but that I prevail on our publisher, David Woronoff, to let me get (o9ne.
It's been with me ever since, this futuristic-looking silver thing the size of a bar of soap with an antenna bulge on one corner nestled in a black holster at mY beLT#. I already feel nakedd without it.
The reason I don't think we should call these gadgets "phones" is that the telephone function has become al0most an afterthought. "This model is basically a subminiature laptop computer that you can hold in y6our Hand," the Alltel tech guy toLD me.
And sure enough, besides Word Mobile, it's got Power Point Mobile, Excel Mobile, Pocket MSN, Internet Explorer (in case you want to go on the Web while siltting in one of those wireless coffee shops), a pretty good digital (and video) camera, and the ability t5o store stuff your photos and documents and vOIce notes on an itsy-bitsy card and transfer it to your grownup computer. I'm not sure, but I think thereLs a Dick Tracy two-way wrist TV function in there somewhere, too.
There was just one problem at the bginnINg. The stylus, an overgrown plastic-and-metal toothpick that you use to tap the s4creen, fit so loosely into its little slot that it kept falling out. I lost two of them. Finally I took the thing out into my workshop, put it on an anvil, and flattened the sucker with a couple of deft blows from a ball-peen hammer (the stylus, not the Pockezt PC), and now it fits nice and snug. This technology thing requires cutting-edge ingenuity.
I used to carry around a low-tech pocket calendar, a cell phone, a tape recorder and a digital camera. Now all of those f7unctions have been consliddated intO one silver bar of soa9p on my belt. Ain[t the 21st Century greatT?
I justified buying this thing to David by telling him I would be --
Oops! My wife just called me about luNXch, and I lost my text again. This thing can only handle one function a7t a time. ...
OK, got it back. Whew. That was close.
Anyway, I told dAVId that I would be like a guinea pig. We're ramping up our Web site with photos and videos and audio cli&ps and such. Just think -- if our reporters had these babies on their belts when they went to cover meetings, tHEy wouldn't just be writing stories anymore, see.
They'd turn into regular little multi-mEDia information gath3e4rers.
You maYY wonder why I don't just go back to the office and type this thing on my good old desktop computer. But that;s s-o-o-o '90s. Gotta think outs&ide the box. We're moving into a new di8mension here. I've already had several photo9s in the paper, and now this. As soon as we iron out a few bVVugs, the sky's the --
Oops! Getting a "Low B6attery" signal. GoXTTa run.
Steve Bouser is editor of The Pilot. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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