Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bonehead Engineering - Not Just Cars

Because of changes to the laws in my home province, this past year I replaced my seemingly indestructible Samsung cell phone with a Bluetooth and hands-free capable Sanyo PRO-200 model (a Qualcomm product). I actually paid more to get this phone - which does not have a camera, doesn't play MP3's, and is not equipped with a touch screen or slide-out QWERTY keypad - because it is the "shirt and tie" twin to Sanyo's PRO-700 yellow and black rubberized "military grade" flip-phone. Nothing else available at the time seemed like it would hold up to my level of neglect and accidental abuse.

Unfortunately, it and I don't much get along, because my ancient Samsung was so much easier to use, had better voice-recognition, and had a better built-in speaker when used as - gasp! - an actual phone. I even liked the Samsung's admittedly lame mono-tone ring tones better.

I don't trust hotel wake-up calls, and I'm not a big fan of the digital clocks or TV-based alarms that are available in-room. In particular, the Sony "DreamCube" clocks used in many hotels may as well be an initiation test for Mensa, as they're next to impossible to figure out. I use my cell phone's alarm feature instead.

My Samsung was multi-voltage compatible, so even if I had to set the time initially (it wasn't European-network compatible), I could leave it plugged in, and it was 100% reliable as an alarm clock. It was also loud.

The new Sanyo? Good thing I checked, as my first trip to Germany would have killed it - it's not 220 volt friendly - but it had enough charge to function, and I did figure out how to set the time by subtracting the time zone difference from its internal (home-based) time. There probably is a way to set the time, but it didn't readily reveal itself.

No, what really ticked me off was my trip to the Detroit Auto Show. In the interest of courtesy, I set my phone to "vibrate" so as not to have it ring in the middle of some automaker's presentation. I wasn't concerned about the alarm, because as you can see from the attached picture, it clearly allows you to set a dedicated ring-tone and volume for that function.

Guess what? Despite what the alarm menu might have you believe, on "vibrate", even the alarm vibrates - no ringer. Thank goodness my wife phoned me that morning. About two minutes later, my cell phone quietly vibrated across the nightstand and fell on the floor. I nearly left it there. Stupid!

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