I bought a new mobile phone. If “bought” is the correct term — I paid no money up front, and the monthly fee I’m shelling out has actually dropped by ten dollars. Unlike the cinema last week, the phone company were happy to give me a discount for ordering direct from them over the web.
It arrived by courier yesterday, and in spare moments at work I tried to get it working. Eventually determining that my ancient SIM card wouldn’t work in it, I went to the phone company shop and they gave me a new one.
Voila! The phone lives! It takes photos. Lovely photos. (Well, depending on what you point the phone at, I suppose.) It has a funky full colour screen. It has a bunch of games in it. It sends multimedia messages. And it has those annoying polyphonic tones – for when you turn it on, turn it off, press a button, when someone rings you up or sends you an SMS… you get the idea. As soon as I figured out how, I switched them all off.
I know some people love their polyphonic ringtones. I don’t. I gather they’re all based around MIDI, a standard for playing music instruments. Theoretically MIDI songs can sound cool if played in full blown multi-thousand-dollar synthesisers. In almost any other environment, including on most computers, they sound like crap. This is why I have my web browser configured not to play the bloody things. The bestest piece of music can sound like crap when rendered as MIDI. Your favourite rock anthem in MIDI is not cool, it’s a travesty. It’s not much better than elevator music or supermarket muzak. And while phones are improving in their rendering of music, for the most part I think that (a) they don’t quite get there, and (b) even if they manage a perfect rendition, I don’t want my pocket trumpeting my favourite rock anthem when somebody rings me up.
Anyway, the phone is good. Is fun. New toy good. The catch? Well apart from wrestling with a whole new set of controls (including the “start call” and “hang up” buttons being on opposite sides), there is the issue of the huge collection of phone numbers in the old phone’s memory. Probably over a hundred, most of which are at least moderately useful. Ah, no problem — just slip the new SIM into the old phone, copy them over, right? Uh uh. The old phone wants a password when you change the SIM. A password from long ago, now lost in the mists of time. It’s probably just four little digits, and when I set it, it probably seemed like the perfect password, that nobody would guess but that I would remember. Now, three years later, I have no idea what the hell it is.