Sign-off : I HATE MY PHONE

peteSo we come to the end of another issue of GeekDeck and with it, the sign off. The place where someone gets the last word. Surprise surprise it’s me again. So what have I got to moan and whinge about this time? Mobile phones. Now don’t get me wrong. I have a mobile or cell, if you live in some parts of the world. I actually have two, if you count my work phone. However what I can’t get over is just how bad the signal can be sometimes.

It’s not even as if I’m roaming in a car from base station to base station. I could understand it then and would fully accept missed and dropped calls, lack of signal coverage and quality issues. However, when I’m in my place of work, and my wife is at home, in a fairly built up area, I do not expect to have to call her 3 times to finish a 5 minute conversation. That, my friend, is utterly ridiculous. We’ve found with our house, that upstairs is generally better than downstairs. Hence if you want to send a message in our house you compose it downstairs and then run up to the top of the stairs, waving your arms around as if you were trying out for the international semaphore Olympics.

“However, when I’m in my place of work, and my wife is at home, in a fairly built up area, I do not expect to have to call her 3 times to finish a 5 minute conversation.„

It’s ridiculous that a technology as “mature” as mobile phones should have such issues when trying to perform the task for which it was designed and manufactured. Am I in a remote area? No. Am I driving around, really really fast, in my Ferrari? I wish. Am I phoning someone in a another country, a thousand million miles away? No, I don’t have enough friends in my homeland, let alone finding some in other countries. The fact that I can’t even finish a simple conversation without hearing the cheery little jingle that my phone seems to take such pleasure in playing to me when a call finishes, isn’t just annoying, it’s purely outrageous.

Mobile phone technology was sold to the public under two pretenses that I have yet to have 100% proof that either are correct. 1) That it is completely safe, and 2) That it is reliable. The first of these really really gets my goat. Even I would have had health concerns whilst developing such a device, and would have made damn sure that adequate testing was performed so that ten years later we’re not still asking the question, “Wow this is great, but is it frying my brain?” or “Do I now have cancer?” The problem as I see it, and forgive me if I’m being naive, is that the technology was rushed to market. Probably by competing manufacturers. Once again money seems to be the root of the problem, or actually not money but greed.

The same is true for wireless technology. Though it seems to be getting a little better now, the market was initially flooded with different specifications and terminologies some of which worked well together, some of which didn’t. I understand the nature of business, but it’s a great shame when the emphasis on profitability exceeds that of customer service. After all, would you rather ship 1,000,000 units in the first quarter only for people to realise how bad your product really is, or would you rather start off slower at 10,000 units because you took the time to get it right, and reap the benefit of being triumphed as “the company that actually got it right first go.” Customer satisfaction is a big thing and though some people pay great attention to it, it is surprising how many companies out there that don’t. The worrying thing for me is that these companies are still flourishing, meaning the market is still being saturated with bad products.

“The worrying thing for me is that these companies are still flourishing, meaning the market is still being saturated with bad products.„

I digressed slightly to wireless and other technologies, however I’m hoping that I’m not alone in my root thought here about the very nature of our industry. The fact is, poor products affect many people; The consumer who is left stranded with something they have paid good money for that doesn’t work. The technicians, both working for the company and working on behalf of the consumer, who have to deal with angry end users and overall, the company itself. Though I know this sign-off article won’t change the world, maybe, just maybe, there will be a few designers/coders/project managers who may read it and think, you know what, you’ve got a point. Rushing things to market maybe good in the short term, but the longer term picture may not be so rosy. A prime example of this would be the latest offering from Microsoft. Vista was tooted to be the next big thing and although it certainly looked like it walked the walk, the fact that Microsoft have had to extend the availability of XP, allow people to downgrade from Vista to XP, and if rumours are correct, bundle an XP VM with Windows 7 to XP just proves the point that the big Vista push wasn’t all that worth it.

I’ve considered switching phone provider in an effort to achieve better call quality, but part of me thinks, I shouldn’t have to bother doing this. I’ve also considered getting rid of my cell altogether and instead using a VoIP softphone to talk to my wife. Whilst this is a great idea in theory, it’s just not as portable at the moment, at least not with the current technologies. If I wanted to do that, I’d probably have to rely on yet another piece of wireless, mobile technology and to be honest that’s something I just don’t have any trust in right now.

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