Sunlight Shining Through Cloud

What Owns Whom

Posted on: March 1, 2011

I wrote about it three weeks after it died; two weeks after I decided on its replacement; one week after discovering I was obsessed about it.  It is my smartphone, a device which – only a decade ago – was hardly a gleam in a techie’s eye; a device which – without it – causes crippling anxiety, personal dysfunction and, probably, body odor.

If I have anything to be proud of, it is that I didn’t follow through on my buying decision which would have cost between $250 and $300 (MSRP: $700).  I didn’t wait for the replacement product to become available far later than everyone anticipated.  I boldly stanched the disease before it stanched me.

Then I bought a Droid X by Motorola.  And because I’m on Verizon’s ‘New-Every-Two’ program, I paid exactly $0 for it.  On that score I feel fairly good.  But my problems are not over, because when I first held the X in my hand and gazed upon it…I knew who worked for whom.  That’s right, I am a slave to the X.

They say the X is darn-near as simple as plug-and-play, but They is wrong.  The Droid requires the intelligence of its operator to be fully engaged even if said operator isn’t apt for such functioning as coupling e-mail systems and address books and calendars which now float somewhere out in cyberspace instead of the relative safety of the PC next to my left knee.  The Droid notifies me of every e-mail, of every text, of every twitch in the universe.  It does this twice for each just to annoy me. It does this even through the night after I’ve explicitly asked it not to.

So, you say, why don’t you just read the manual that came with it?  Hey, I’m a guy who does ask for directions, okay?  Yes, I read the manual that came with it.  It’s a tiny little 18-page jobby stuffed into a small corner of the box.  It basically tells you how to charge the battery and turn the Droid on.  Then it warns you to leave the room because bad things are about to happen.  (No, really; it says that!)

Feeling deficient in the information-gathering sense, I downloaded a 58-page jobby from Motorola.  Everything, I figured, should be in there.  But it wasn’t.  Not nearly.  Now what?

Today, I found and purchased Droid X: the Missing Manual, mercifully written by Preston Gralla for nincompoops like me.  That the book had to be written at all should serve as some solace, but at 350 pages, it actually serves to prove my ownership by (not of) the machine.

It is really quite amazing what this thing does.  It syncs your schedule and contacts with your home PC.  It tells you the local weather in real-time even if you trick it by going to the next town.  It has not one or two, but seven home pages.  What on earth am I going to do with seven home pages?  The X takes 8.0 megapixel pictures and High Definition video.  I can Skype with my brother in Germany, get turn-by-turn directions, watch YouTube, order pizza online and, oh yeah, I can use it to make calls.

The Droid X: this ain’t your grandpa’s cell phone.  And I’d be thumping my chest like Tarzan if only I didn’t feel so much like your grandpa.

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