Last updated: August 23. 2013 8:49AM - 195 Views

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If someone were to ask you whether youíre smarter than your phone, and the year was, say, 1965 or so, no doubt, youíd give them a ďduhĒ look while digging your finger into the holes of one of those rotary beauties that attached itself to the wall with that pigtail cord.



After all, the only thing I recall those phones doing was calling someone. So, if you wanted to phone, say, me back then, perhaps to find out how that dayís sandlot baseball game went up on the hill at Faurot, youíd use your finger to dial a number, CA-69651, that is still embedded in my brain despite the half century of time passage.



Of course, at that time, no one could have imagined any phone that didnít come out of a wall jack, unless, of course, it was one of those field phones in the war movies. You recall those were the movies showing some ill-fated sergeant waiting for a private to hand crank some box before handing him the business end of the phone while crouched down in a field so that he could implore someone for help for his pinned-down unit.



However, for all of us who were once children of the 1960s, phones have changed in nearly unfathomable ways since the rotary days.



My conversion from a strict reliance on landlines to venturing into the cellular age, Iím guessing, began like many of yours did, with one of those bag phones in the late 1980s. I believe it was a Motorola, and it plugged into the cigarette lighter in the car. When not in use, it was stored in a black bag.



I remember how absolutely James Bond-ish I felt whenever I was driving and someone called me. As a matter of fact, in a display of ostentation and pretension that I am ashamed to reveal, if no one were calling me, which was usually the case, Iíd pick up the phone and not really call anyone but rather just move my lips and wave a hand around in animated fashion just for show while I was waiting for a light.



Now, three decades or so later, such behavior of showing off by using a phone that doesnít come out of a wall never would be considered, of course, because the fact is that almost everyone, from first-graders through octogenarians, routinely can be seen taking into their cellphones.



As is the case with all technology, once the ice was broken and we moved from bag phones to rather bulky cellphones to newer ones small enough to easily fit in oneís pocket, models became obsolete faster than you can microwave a bag of popcorn.



When a dear friend of mine who lives outside Chicago and whom I call regularly recently got the same Samsung iPhone called The Galaxy thatís one of the devices squarely in the crosshairs of that billion-dollar judgment awarded a couple of months ago to Apple for compensation over Samsungís violating seven of Appleís patents, I told her to enjoy her month of having the latest smartphone.



That seems to be about the amount of time consumers with the newest have before another newer and better version comes along. The unveiling of Septemberís iPhone5 indeed did push my friendís gadget a step closer to obsolescence with the 5ís newer and more amazing apps and, of course, sharper graphics.



The phone I have, a Verizon 3G, of course, by now is almost a dinosaur, despite the fact thatís itís been probably no more than six months or so since I got it. The one thing I found amusing is it came in a box only with a very small pamphlet giving basic information as to how to insert the battery and how to make a phone call.



Beyond that, from what Iíve been told by one of my tech-savvy work colleagues, in a textbook example of irony, the how-to manual is accessible only in the phone itself. Well, if you get the phone and the manual is in the phone, how do you know how to access the manual to learn how to use the phone?



In order for me to navigate a lot of the features, I rely on the more enlightened techies in my family, like my sister, Joan, and my nephew Joey. Amazingly, several other features, I actually have found through trial and error.



At this stage, Iím proud to say, I can perform such amazing feats as use a calculator, make voice memos, take and text pictures, use the phone as a flashlight, make a video, set an alarm, use a stopwatch, Google my last column to see if thereís any typos and even set my fantasy football lineup.



Despite what I know how to do with this smartphone, I know there are dozens of other things am basically clueless in knowing how to do. And, itís less than even money that Iíll ever discover them.



So, the question remains. Am I smarter than my smartphone? Of course, like all former children of the 1960s, the answer is and always will be, "no." As a matter of fact, itís really not all that close.






John Grindrod
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