Mumzie just phoned to find out what TV programme I was watching and suggest that I change channels. Then she hung up. Do I need to get a life? Or is there something strangely comforting about the informality and brevity of the conversation, as-if mum had just called me from another room. Yes, I like that call from a virtual room emotionally nearby
scribbles tagged ‘on the phone’
People that live on the Avenue get their internets from some classic, antique, overhead telephone lines supported by pine poles placed along the pavement/sidewalk – ‘telephone poles’ as I used to call them in the 1970′s
During the road resurfacing each telephone pole was provided with it’s very own yellow sign. I never saw any particularly tall highway maintenance equipment. Nothing tall enough to interfere with the telephone lines. From a safety, phone service protection, perspective these signs may have been redundant. They did convey sense of the workers being careful, caring about our services and being very systematic.
After an inordinate number of attempts I managed to connect to my home wireless and add my gmail and Hotmail accounts to the iPhone. With each attempt I paid more attention to my tapping, typing, accuracy. The phone doesn’t reveal the passwords for a full visual check, I watched each key-tap to make sure the immediate visual feedback confirmed that I’d tapped the key that I actually intended to tap. After 3 or 4 attempts I was 100% confident that I was providing the right passwords. On average I miss-typed one character in 8. Normally miss-typed characters were on the left hand edge of the keypad. I don’t have overly large fingers. But some of the failure attempts appeared to be with the right password entered. It was impossible to predict when accurate password entry would succeed or fail. Craziness!
Each success was a major relief followed by downing numerous cups of tea from a well brewed pot. Sheer persistence together with focus on my finger movements paid-off. An unnecessarily time consuming, effort consuming and frustrating experience. Both my previous phones connected first time. If they can work effectively for me then Apple should be able to work first time too.
Problems with the iPhone:
- Key pad character target area too small or sensitive, compared to HTC Android or Nokia Lumia 830
- Unreliable connection technology compared to HTC and Nokia
The hardware is beautifully styled, I do like looking at it and holding it, more than the other phones. I’m so superficial that the effect of the styling is incredibly strong. Apple have got the ‘desirability’ and some ‘delight’ in use as part of the user experience beautifully executed, but they’ve seriously under-delivered on usability in so many ways. It’s interesting how forgivable the inefficient usability is, given the desirability and delight.
Now the attitude appears to be that if you’re innocent you don’t need privacy, if you want privacy then what are you trying to hide? Life is staged in public. Staged on the internet.
State organisations have changed their laws to align with this new highly public way of being. For example, the USA ‘Patriot Act’ allows the US Govt to write a letter to communications service providers in order to get access to, private (?), communications.
While this lack of privacy can be used to protect me, it can also be used by people who’s prejudices prevent them from seeing innocent differences.
I like privacy, I now consider it a luxury and a growing rarity.
mumzie: yes, I was here darling, I heard
wendy: that’s a first! we don’t normally actually talk to each other on the phone
mumzie: I know dear, he normally says “that’ll be wendy, you answer it” and hands me the phone
Luckily, I learnt in my teenage years that talking with dad is only warranted if there is valuable knowledge to be shared. Talking to me is not something high on his list of priorities – why would he want to do that?!
Today I called because mum’s brother-in-law has just died. Mumsie talks to move her feelings around, sometimes I wonder how on earth they ended up together, strangely, they fit together extremely well. Dads silence and mums chatter.
Repeat 3 times:
me: Hello, my name is Wendy House. On Wednesday 29th August during my appointment at the fracture clinic the Dr told me that I would have my first physiotherapy session next week, which is this week. The receptionist told me that I would recive a letter with the appointment time – I haven’t recived a letter and I’d like to check what time my appointment is.
I’ll forward you to the [name] department.
They shouldn’t tell you to phone us.
me: They didn’t. They said I’d get a letter, and I haven’t so I decided to phone you.
They shouldn’t have said that – we don’t send out letters.
You’re not on my system. Hang on while I look at these files.
Oh! you’re right on the top with a note to phone you and make a direct appointment – broken arm. It will take some time to enter all this data but I can make the appointment now. Will 11.40 on Thursday suit you?
me: Yes. Do I go to the same place as before? The fracture clinic on Floor 2.
No! Go to physiotherapy.
me: So I’ll walk in the main entrance and ask reception to point me to physiotherapy?
No! They could send you anywhere. Are you driving?
me: (giggles) No, I’m on foot
Go to accident and emergency, stand at the entrance facing the main car park and we’re on you’re left
mumsie: yes, dad has one
wendy: take it with you, it will help us meet-up, when I get off the train I’ll send you a text so you know I’m on my way
The next evening there’s a message from mum on the landline phone. This phone is now used only as a direct line to mum and dad
mumsie: ….we’ll charge-up the phone overnight on Saturday then switch it on a 8am on Sunday morning….
at this point I realise that using the mobile phone is not part of my parents everyday life. I’ve probably caused a bit of a kerfuffle, house discussions about how to use the mobile phone…
When my landline gets a call where the caller doesn’t respond to ‘Hello?’ ‘is anybody there?’ I suspect an automated system has dialled my number. My number is on the UK’s “Telephone Preference List”. Membership of this list makes it illegal for marketers to call my number. Hoorah! The list works for me.
When I get a call that starts with the silent treatment, an automated dialer, I LOUDLY blow into the reciever. This prompts the system to put a person on the line who decides to either:
- speak – ask for the previous registered owner of this number then try to sell me something using a rather dodgy east Asian accent. If I have time I play with them, trying to get information about them, without giving them any information about me. Normally they just get angry and rude. When I’m bored of the game I ask them to take me off their lists – they say they can’t – I tell them they’ve broken the law by calling me. They hang-up. I believe that I am doing a good service to society by keeping them talking to me rather than talking to someone who might fall for their naughty dishonestness
- hangup – I suspect they recognise me as the lady who wastes their time when they’re phishing. I feel like I know them quite well now. Certainly no friends or people from organisations that provide me with valuable services have complained about the loud noise they sometimes get when they phone the wendy house
All sent within one hour. Despite my
- overwhelming need to please others (ahem)
- effort to dash back home and read my electricity metre (sspppppllllltrrrr)
I failed to comply with their instructions promptly enough to avert this repeated messaging eperience. Like McAfee, Southern Electric appear dedicated to using modern technology to harass me, uneccessarily
Tush and hurumph
My choices are – The Royal Berkshire Hospital! Well that’s easy, I think I’ll use the Royal Berkshire Hospital.
The NHS provides an awesome online ‘choose and book’ service for booking hospital appointments. Every patient is provided with a login. The Royal Berkshire Hospital foundation trust Gyneacology department doesn’t use this fabulous service.
I used my one choice and phoned the Royal Berkshire number
- phone menu not working….
- I called a different, direct, number. The nurse was unable to access the internal computer booking service. Helpfully, asked if she could phone me back after she’d rebooted her computer…
Several phone calls later I’d pinned down an appointment time with the consultant of my choice – on the NHS! How do you choose your consultant? A tricky question for a non-specialist. All I could find was another public website, NHS choices, that provided me with all the staff names in the department, and included ‘quality’ ratings as awarded by the hospital to their own staff.
The wedding practice-party mingle in the sunshine outside St James and St William of York church. I skirt the party and slip into the substantial entrance porch of Pugin‘s psuedo Norman church. A handsome young man in the porch is talking on his mobile phone:
I’d just like you to take the “a” off the end of my name. At the moment it looks like two girls are getting married – Nicola and Alexa. My name is Alex not Alexa. Please just put it right
I imagine the wedding with the grooms name miss-spelt as a girls name. If they are having the rehearsal, the wedding is probably fairly soon, I am impressed at how well the groom maintains a semblance of calm as he delivers his plea
The telephone pole’s spider silk lightly clings to the nearby houses
I wonder how long this will last when a substantial swathe of people find it easier to get connected and manage thier bills using a “Pay as you go” mobile phone – no connection charge, no deposit if you have no credit history….
I called 6 hotels, all fully booked, none knew of other local hotels with spaces…
In desperation I discovered that Loughborough had a tourist information centre with a telephone number! The automated answer machine message told me that the answer machine was ‘full’ – unable to take any more messages
Apparantly, the local University’s “Freshers Week” has filled the town to bursting
A lucky call connected me to a working-mens club, converted into the sort of hotel that has permanent residents. Bargain price. Such a bargain I knew it was seedy before even seeing the place
I didn’t add any holes in the doors, judging by the holes already there – they come at a discout rate if you bulk-buy:
Making sure you got your phone calls was a complicated affair in the days before cell phones and answer machines. Especially for a teenager. This is just one of the problems I encountered – after coming home from a long, fun night practicing with the marching band:
Mumzie: Graham called while you were out
Wendy: Graham! Which Graham? What did he say?
Darn, now mum knows there are several Grahams in my life and he might have told her something personal.
Mumzie: there’s more than one Graham? He didn’t say what it was about dear, just said to let you know he’d called
Clearly this is a discreat Graham. Can’t pick one out from the rest based on that description. So now I have to work out in which order to phone them back. Then how to start the conversation without giving away that I don’t know if I’m returning a call, or calling them for the first time? Then I have to work out how to advise mumzie on taking future calls from Grahams, to help her work out which one called without saying “which Graham are you?” which would make each of them feel insignificant, and they’re not. They’re all special in different ways
Life’s so complicated!
wendy: all trains to Reading are delayed
Concourse displays specify Delay, Delay, Delay…. Hundreds of people stand with their eyes held by the display. Murmurring rises. Jan pulls out her HTC Desire
Jan: Delays until 6.30pm, why don’t they tell me that at the station, why do I have to go to the web to find out
Wendy: can you send me that link for my phone
Jan: Um, err, probably, I’ll try
Our shoulders drop. What shall we do with this time at Paddington? Vicky looks near to tears
Vicky: I’ve got a softball game at 6.45pm
Jan notices a slow, stops everytwhere, train to Banbury, a 90 mins rather than 25mins journey to Reading. We run, weaving through bewildered would-be passsengers, to platform 11. Crushed against the train waiting for the doors to open, carried by the crowd onto the train. Midsummer heat, commuter sweat crammed into a carriage designed for half this load. People wearing black and grey. I manage to climb onto the luggage rack, a seat! Jan and Vicky are swept apart into the standing-only isles. Two ladies near me don’t look like commuters, one wearing a cheerful pink dress, another wearing a jade outfit. Pinky bends down and peers into the lower level luggage rack
Pinky: there’s a child under there…
Jade: It’s a BOY
Synchronised smiling, the childs boyness explains his desire to climb into the luggage rack. I ask the colourful duo
wendy: does anyone know what caused the delays?
pinky: A suicide on the line
wendy: how do you know?
Pinky waves her Blackberry phone, She uses the Blackberry for the whole 2hr journey, raising her eyes only to answer my occassional question then say goodbye as she leaves the train. There are few conversations on the train. Most people appear deeply engrossed in bright phone screens. From my perch I can see 4 i-phone screens – text conversations, games, reading the news
I make several attempts to start conversations with the people near me. They moan about how inconsiderate the suicide was, interrupting rush hour travel. Then they sink back into their hypnotic phones. Suicide on the line, one person traded the life they had left to give todays commuters some unanticipated travel time
I feel the need to use this precious time, someone-elses life time, wisely
While standing in the isle of a FGW commuter train from London Paddington I watched the young man seated beside me using his Blackberry phone. It looked like a mini Windows 95 – text-menu list overload! My gut reaction was yuck! The young man navigated the text-heavy grey menu with impressive speed. Clearly an experienced user.
Some of the things I love about my Android HTC desire are the way the designers have managed to
- Use pleasing interaction styles - I can gesture with flicks, stretches, squeezes. I can drag and drop all sorts of things across screens. I can use short and long presses on the screen to find different button behaviours. It’s fun to explore and learn
- Create a simple, versataile information architecture. I don’t have to learn then relearn where everything is because everything is in a sensible place that’s easy to find and find again. The navigation system is clear and simple
- Allow me to easily find and install useful, innovative, fun, relevant Apps. It’s my phone and it does what I want it to do!
- Avoid looking like Windows 95, no battleship grey, no long text menus with uninspiring fonts
- Include fun animations like the windscreen wiper blade running across the screen when its raining. I love how the designers have taken the notion of a dashboard design and then added a winscreen wiper extending the metaphor with humour. Fun!
friend: your left breast just beeped at me
wendy: new phone in cahoots with my computer calendar, a pleasantly vibrational conspiracy of reminders
Time-off work to have a cold involves:
- drink gallons of tea
- working from home
- making phone calls to co-ordinate town planners reviewing my pre-planning application for PV roof tiles
- answering 3 urgent phone calls from “24/7 PC Care” about my infected PC -sounded like fraud
- reporting potentially fraudulent phone calls to the local police
The potentially fraudulent phone calls were fascinating, I was trying to keep them on the line to find out about them without revealing much about myself or my computer. It was tough. They quickly became irritated by my questions and in all 3 calls they got angry and hung up on me.
The calls went something like this:
Potential Fraudster: Hello, I’m from 24/7 PC care and I’m calling you because we’ve noticed that your computer has an infection
wendy: how did you find that out?
Potential Fraudster: Because you are a windows registered user
wendy: Oh, you have my registration details, so you know which version of Windows I’m using?
Potential Fraudster: No, we don’t have your registration details, but your computer shows as infected
wendy: how do you know my computer is infected
Potential Fraudster: if you turn your computer on and go to…
wendy: can you give me your company registration number and a call back phone number?
Fraudster: Yes, after we’ve finished mending your computer, see the key on the bottom left hand side of the keyboard marked c t r l That’s the control key
Be careful out there…
Watching American Gigolo for the first time, when it was released, was fascinating. Mainly because of the reversal of commonly portrayed role gender roles. A man as prostitue, beauty and clothes obsessed, victim of clever people, concerned with making other people happy. The camerawork was also extremely good.
Call me anytime, valentine
Blondie sang call me
Engadget recently posted excerpts from a Nokia internal ‘Burning man memo’ from its new CEO Stephen Elop originally published to all Nokia employees. Essentially the memo describes Nokia’s current declining market position, attributes this to lack of management and leadership. This information is not actually anything new or suprising, not really news. Two days later the British national newspapers all contain exerpts from, and an analysis of the memo. Most of them appear to have missed the point, understimating Elop’s skills, by calling this a ‘Ratner‘ moment. Ratner jokingly denigrated the quality of his businesses products outside any plan to change that quality. It is fairly obvious, that Stephen Elop has been doing what he was employed to do, analysing and planning a strategy to rectify Nokia’s current declining share of the phone market.
Stephen Elop has a wealth of experience of fast moving, competitive business. His former job was President of Microsoft’s Business Division (Microsoft Office etc). Elop joined Nokia in late September 2010. He’s scheduled to announce Nokia’s strategy later today. The ‘burning man memo’ release is so clearly a step in the media management to hype the coming announcement. Any Microsoft President knows that a memo or email to all staff is sure to be released to the press, they write their memo’s with that knowledge – they are written as press releases.
For me the story is that in approximately 4 months he can learn the internal business processes, influencers and work with the senior management team and partner companies to develop an achievable, convincing, publishable vision and plan for changing the companies direction. Assuming it will be all those things, that’s impressive. The public version of this plan comes at today’s conference. The UK National press has all joined in on creating free publicity hype around this plan before they even know what it is. Elop is doing a great job of media management, and the press don’t even seem to realise he’s doing it. Even I’ve got wrapped up in the story. Doh!
People who have recieved one of my hand written letters have all used their phone’s to let me know, on the day the letter arrived. I have recieved texts and phone calls, its lovely. Lovely because they are not automatic, system generated, confirmations. They are exhuberantly happy, personalised, stories which make my day brighter.
Sometimes automating functionality, like message-reciept can remove the communicative properties that add value beyond knowing that, they remove the knowing how. An automated reciept confirmation would let me ‘know that’ the message was recieved but not give me any clue to ‘how’ the person experienced recieving the message.
From the above text I know that the letter recipient recognised my writing before even opening the letter. She knew it was from me. I can reasonably infer that she was happy at this point before even opeing the letter, then she expresses how enduring this experience is for her. Definitely something worth my doing again. Before phone usage was common, the main way that I knew a letter had arrived was when I recieved a letter written in response, often days, weeks, or months later.
By contrast, here on the blog, I suspect the emotional impact of my writing is less durable. Partly because it isn’t personal. A blog post is for the author or an audience, not for an individual. I only know ‘how’ the post is recieved when people take the time to write a comment or click on the hearts to illustrate that they like it. Many more people read the posts than leave me feedback on how they experienced it.
Unfortunately the chameleon circuit broke when the TARDIS was disguised as a 1950′s London blue Police box. They are essentially a mini police station for use by Police people, and members of the public can use them to (phone) call the police. Police boxes were first used in Albany NY (1877) soon after the telephone was invented! The first boxes in Britain were placed in Glasgow (1891).
By the time I was old enough to visit London (1970s) the London police boxes had long since been removed.
This green police box is alive today, in Sheffield!
Seeing this Box kept me happy for weeks, I hope the photograph does something pleasing for you too …
Why I love England #16: red telephone boxes
Just around the corner from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden is this fabulous row of antique communication devices. Many people 20 and under will never ever have used these. Why would they need to? They carry their own phones with them. In the 80′s a row of phone boxes like this in a city centre would have a person in each box talking and maybe one or two people outside, checking the change in their purses, waiting for their turn to make a private call.
According to this history, in the 1980′s most homes didn’t have landline phones.
In 1987, the post office, who deployed and maintained them, systematically replaced these red boxes with a more modern design with more glass and open to the air that reduced the likelihood of the box being used as a urinal, or the subsequent pungent smell. Pew! I remember the smell! Some villages protested against the replacement and managed to hold-on to this much loved older design. But sadly, most red boxes were removed.
I guess they are still useful to a few people for actually hosting a landline call, they are also useful for keeping warm, dry and quiet for making a mobile phone call. It’s wonderful that the local council, as many councils in tourist areas, have decided to leave them here and maintain them in such good condition. For the tourists, and people like me who can be heard bubbling
AWWWE How CUTE!
…bring bring… …bring bring…
Hello, wendy house speaking, how can I help you?
can I speak to wendy house please
yep, that’s me!
Wendy?! you sound so different on the phone, all soft, I thought someone else must have answered
even my parents don’t recognise me on the phone, don’t know what happens
you’ve got a nice phone voice
who am I talking to?
the first and only text message waiting on my phone when I woke that morning read
my position has been eliminated
It didnt read
I’ve been made redundant
I’ve lost my job
They’ve got rid of me
They’ve cut my job
No words of anger, no tremors of fear, no tissue of tears. Just the 2 words which feel like they are being pretentious because they have 3 or more syllables.
position = job
eliminated = cut
In less than 2 minutes I’d fallen deeply in love with a youngster, he must be all of 30yrs. His name badge says Glen. A good name, other members of the wendy house family are called Glen, but that wont cause a problem. Glen can solve problems.
He smiles, talks sense, makes constructive left of field suggestion, shows me diagrams, puts different phones in my hand while he uses a real pen to do some quick maths on a sheet of paper. He compares the prices of different solutions for me. I’m totally hooked. After this brief and productive conversation, this performance, we make a date for next Saturday. I bounce out of car phone warehouse with an abundance of teeth reflecting the hot glow of the summer sunshine. Maybe I should propose on Saturday. Before or after I’ve purchased something, what’s the ettiquette?
Well done Reading town’s carphone warehouse, your staff recruitment strategy is excellent. Looks like I’ll be dropping my service relationships with t-mobile, Orange, and BT all in one go for the ‘TalkTalk’ service that some of the Wendy House family are already using. Hoorah
Thankyou to Happy Frog’s friend for pointing me to the carphone warehouse
wendy: I’d like you to sell me some sort of package that would suit me, I’ve got a pay as you go cell-phone service provided by Orange and a contract wireless mobile dongle provided by you guys. I’d like to have a single bill to one cellular service provider that is cheaper than having a service with Orange and with t-mobile. What can you do for me?
t-mobile sales staff (tmss): we dont buy-out contracts, you’ll have to wait until your contract with Orange runs out
wendy: I don’t have a contract with Orange, I have pay as you go with Orange, I have a contract with you
tmss: I don’t understand, could you explain again.
wendy: (explains again, points at the t-mobile dongle in the store advertising the package I’m using to make sure the sales staff understands)
tmss: so you want a phone contract with us?
wendy: I don’t know what you offer, I want you to sell me something that enables me to have internet access from my laptop and a service to my cell phone, please, just try and sell me something.
The sales staff still looks baffled. There are two other potential customers standing next to him, they’ve been watching and listening. As I watch the sales staff look confused and fail to sell me something I feel guilty. Maybe he could sell them something.
tmss: can you explain again?
wendy: don’t worry, I give up its too sunny outside to be in here…
answering my cell phone
Orange Operative (OO): can I speak to Mrs Wendy House
wendy: my mum doesn’t use this phone, perhaps you want to talk to me, wendy house
OO: our records say this phone is registered to a Mrs Wendy House
wendy: No-one has ever invited me to my wedding, who are you and why are you calling me?
OO: Have you changed your name?
wendy: No, who are you and why are you calling me?
OO: Are you sure?
wendy: yes I’m sure, who are you and why are you calling me?
OO: I’m from Orange customer service and we want to get your feedback on our serive
wendy: that’s nice! It’s been fine except for about once per month the SIM has trouble registering on the service
OO: (really long boring monologue on why they’ve been having problems with their service, which i interrupted)
wendy: frankly, I’m busy now and not interested in why your service is below par, just fix it, dont explain it
the 15th June.
Ides of June.
Recurring in Outlook. Outlook synchronised with my cell phone. 2 messages meet me today
Your birthday (my phone). your birthday (my laptop).
I want to forget all that made loving you hurt me. A party made loving you fun.
I miss the parties I arranged for your birthday. Reading the reminder I want to send you a card. But maybe not.
I want to arrange a parrty. But maybe not.
I wish I could let it all go and delete the recurring reminder. But maybe not.
Party. Love. Sunshine. Summer. Love.