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Archive for the tag “telephone”

Director Ron Howard on a cell phone

One day on Facebook, I got involved in a conversation about actors who became directors. The conversation ended up discussing Ron Howard, and someone mentioned Howard’s directorial debut, Grand Theft Auto.

It bears some similarities to Howard’s later films – Clint Howard appears in the film, for instance. But one thing is clearly different. This Ron Howard film had a budget of $602,000, and was deemed a success with a worldwide gross of $15 million. By way of comparison, Howard’s 2011 film The Dilemma had a $70 million budget.

But you can also see differences when you watch the trailer for the film. Despite only having a budget of less than a million dollars, apparently they worked car phones into the script. I suspect, however, that the car phones weren’t actually operational.

The car also included the destruction of various cars including a $40,000 Rolls Royce. Yes, a $40,000 Rolls Royce. And bear in mind that this is BEFORE the Blues Brothers movie and its automotive mayhem.

P.S. Opie Cunningham says “hell.” You are warned.

P.P.S. Speaking of Opie Cunningham – Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, and Andy Griffith reprised their television roles for a 2008 Barack Obama campaign video. The video, however, has since been removed from distribution.

Changes in phone number ownership – from party line to family line to personal line

I have written about the multi-user phone before, but that was in the context of phones as computers. Let’s ignore the fact that a phone can be a computer, and look at a phone as a phone. When you dial a phone number, who answers?

Privateline.com documents the first answer to this question in its page about the party line. Today, party line means something entirely different, but in the 20th century “party line” referred to a phone line that was shared by multiple households. This provided some advantages:

For years, [Homer Benedict] shared the telephone line with the woman next door. When he was working in his yard, she would pick up on his ring and summon him inside to take the call.

However, party lines had clear privacy issues, as Doris Day and Rock Hudson fans will attest. (Privateline.com notes that despite the movie “Pillow Talk” being set in New York City, that city had actually eliminated all party lines by 1930.)

Because of this, most people converted to what were then known as private lines (although Homer Benedict didn’t convert to a private line until he turned 100, and then only because the party line wouldn’t support Lifeline service). Back when I was growing up, private lines were actually considered to be private. After all, if you dialed a number, you would get mom, or dad, or one of the kids. And since these were the days in which phones were attached to the wall (i.e. no cordless phones), you usually wouldn’t have people eavesdropping on your calls. Usually.

But as I noted in my October 2011 post, more and more people are moving to cellular phones. While such a phone could theoretically be shared by a family, it often makes more sense for the phone to be associated with an individual.

This progression from party line to family line to personal line has numerous ramifications, but I’m just going to talk about one of them. I’ll return to my initial question – when you dial a phone number, who answers?

In the party line world, that answer could vary. Perhaps Doris Day isn’t at home, so Rock Hudson answers (ignoring the “distinctive ring” feature that indicated that the call was for Doris). This might be helpful if you’re the woman who lives next to Homer Benedict, but it could be disastrous if you’re trying to reach Doris Day and you reach Rock Hudson instead.

In the family line world, there was less variability – you’d usually have someone answer who was a member of a particular household. What would usually happen, however, is that the intended recipient of the call would NOT be the one to answer. Often dad would answer the phone, only to receive yet another call for his popular teenage daughter.

In the personal line world, the phone is usually answered by one person. If I dial a particular number, then I expect that a single person will answer that phone, and I will get flustered when someone else answers it.

These things have changed over the years, and we have had to change our behavior and our expectations accordingly. Sometimes we get confused – what happens if you call me and ask for my wife, forgetting that you are calling me on my mobile phone and my wife is in another county? Or what happens when a teenage boy calls that cute teenage girl – but he mistakenly calls her on her home line and her dad answers?

But the “who will answer the phone” question is just one of many questions that has resulted from these changes in phone number ownership. What issues do you encounter because of this?

At least he didn’t say “Get off my lawn” (technology of the aged)

I still have to write the follow-up to the Empoprise-BI business blog Jitterbug post from 2010, and the February 21 tymshft post that mentioned the Jitterbug in passing.

But while looking for material for a Jitterbug post, I ran across this rant from Vancouver’s “Steve in the KT” about the various types of people who call sports talk radio. One of Steve’s pet peeves is the caller who complains that sports aren’t what they used to be.

And Steve ends up complaining…about the technology used by such callers. Here’s the relevant section of the rant:

Halcyon Days of Yore Guy – You like to call in on your Jitterbug or corded phone to let us all know how sports were when you were a kid.

Phone attached to the wall? Ouch.

“These guys don’t know how good they got it. In my day, the players were always dying of the consumption and the Kaiser was constantly drafting us into service.” You scoff at things like visors and kevlar neck guards. When you watched hockey, sometimes a Bengal tiger would get loose on the ice and kill 3 or four of the players. You’re obviously, confused, alone, possibly under the impression you were calling a Bea Arthur sex line. Either way, your grandkids need reminding of how you fought for their right to get lower back tattoos.

More here.

And as for me, I need to check out a page with a Bea Arthur picture.

Use technology correctly to make friends (unless they’re Commies)

I realize that the word “friends” is overused when talking about social media, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be friendly. When mastering a new social media platform, it’s important to not only understand how the platform operates, but also the conventions that are associated with the platform.

It’s especially important to remember that communicating via a social media platform is NOT like communicating to someone standing next to you. I don’t care what social media platform you’re using – if the person is distant from you, then the person isn’t getting all of the communication that you’re providing.

That’s why, when using these newfangled social media techniques, it’s important to do things such as placing the receiver close to your mouth. Oh, and don’t slam the receiver down when you are done.

What, did you think I was talking about Pinterest?

Contact Sheet has shared a digital copy of a booklet entitled “How to make friends by Telephone.” Yes, the Bell System even used the word “friend” that Pinterest and Facebook and Google and just about everyone else is using.

When reviewing the book, Richard Darrell observed:

[I]t seems no matter how advanced we make things, the format for making friends will always leapfrog into whatever we create.

The same thing happened back in the 1940s. When the phone first became a household item, people started to question if we would even need to get out of the house anymore (just like we did when the television and the Internet became household names). However, history has shown us that we still need that physical interaction. We want to keep all our friends and still go out for a coffee or a movie every once in a while.

And of course the Bell System wanted to help. Certainly they had self interest in mind, since they wanted to encourage people to use telephones – especially for long distance calls. (Well, as long as you don’t call those Commie places like Russia.)

But the tips were certainly helpful, and despite the vast changes in the technology landscape, some of the tips are still helpful today. For example:

Shouting distorts your voice and is not pleasant.

And the existence of the book reminds us that social networking didn’t start with Twitter. Steven Hodson goes as far to refer to the telephone as “the original social network.”

Although frankly I’d hand that title to the old U.S. Post Office.

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