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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Communication Pains

By Silvia Uribe

My Palm phone broke down, leaving me with only a very few of the 400-plus contact numbers I used to have. My virtual Rolodex was thick -- much as the old fashioned ones that you could hardly turn due to the very many cards attached to them -- remember? As you can imagine, I'm mad. Really mad. Although I recognize that this might not be the best time for me to sit down and write a column, I'm still writing it. My frustration needs an escape valve before my family unjustly suffers the consequences.

Yes, I know, it was really dumb of me to trust that a cell phone should last past its 1-year manufacturer's warranty. One year and 3 months. That's how long mine lasted. I also know I should have backed all that information up somewhere else, and I didn't do it. Please, never neglect such an important step. I didn't do it because, believe it or not, as much as I depend on technology, I've never had a phone that wasn't reliable until now. I was kind to it. During the time that I had my Palm phone, I didn't drop it, and I was careful in the way I handled it. Well, this didn't do the trick. For the first time in my life, my phone died in front of my eyes, and I - or anyone else - wasn't able to bring it back to life. Complete drama!

Having to replace my phone, I went yesterday to the AT&T phone store located behind La Cumbre Plaza. I asked as many questions as I was able to come up with. My visit to the store lasted longer than it usually takes me to buy clothes. However, I never asked about compatibility. That was my mistake. I cannot attribute any wrongdoing to Alex, the sales representative who helped me. He offered great customer service, and answered every single question I had. The "Samsung Impression" looked good to me and I got it.

Earlier today, I showed the new phone to my daughter. With that built-in technological ability that the new generation has, she was able to figure it out completely in no time - programs, compatibility and all features, allowing me to immediately realize that this, maybe, was not the phone for me. The problem is that the phone can communicate (or synchronize) with most email providers except for Google, and guess what? I run my life on Gmail, Google Calendar, Google spread sheets, you name it. I need to get my emails, to transfer data, and do all sorts of things. Impossible!

She also identified another problem. The computer software that syncs to this phone recognizes multimedia (pic, videos and music) but not data files stored in computers.

Now, I have to go back to AT&T, return the "Impression" (according to Alex I have a 30-day grace period) and search for a new telephone. This is driving me totally crazy, as you can imagine. I'm not exaggerating. Here's the thing. Buying a phone is, to me, like buying shoes. The damn thing needs to be comfortable to handle, and not too small or too big. I also need for the numbers, letters, and whatever appears on the screen to be in a readable size (for me). And, I want a slick and slim phone, with a decent keyboard, or at the very least, with a virtual keyboard. Ah, and as I just explained: a phone that is able to "sync" with Google. If you are aware of such a phone - other than the iPhone - please let me know. I'm in a cheap state of mind, due to the recession, and paying thirty bucks a month for the Internet service seems a little excessive when I can get it in any other phone for ten.

Well, after my rant, I hope my bad experience serves you well. Learn from what happened to me, or be reminded, and always back your data up. The next time you shop for a cell phone, make sure that it is compatible with whatever service providers or programs that you use the most. Communication and compatibility are as important for humans as they are for machines. For humans, to live a happier, better life around those with whom we come in contact, and for technology so it can make us more efficient.

Wish me luck!

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latina perspective.

Cross-posted at

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