two mobile phone stories

(1) indestructible LG phone.

My son, Kevin, has an LG phone — I don't remember the name of the model except the fact that it is a pretty cool phone. Just like many other teenagers, he is not the best caretaker of his mobile phone. He often leaves his phone on the floor so that others can step on it. He lost his phone twice and put it in water once. Now, we carry an insurance plan for his phone.

So, what happened on Friday was nothing extraordinary. He left his phone in the pocket of his shorts and put his shorts in the washing machine. We ran the washing machine — not once but twice as our machine does not work very well sometimes. Then, we put his shorts in our dryer and ran it for an hour. Then we discovered his phone, completely dead, in his pocket. Although I became upset for a moment for his careless behavior, I soon realized that such behaviors are somewhat expected of him and that's why we had an insurance.

What is surprising came after. When I informed Kevin that his beloved mobile phone is completely toasted and we probably need to get a replacement, he simply shrugged his shoulders and calmly connected his phone to a charger. He seemed to be convinced that it was just a dead battery and all he had to was just to re-charge it. To my surprise, he was right. The phone survived two cycles of laundry and the heat of a dryer. This is an amazing engineering accomplishment. Perhaps LG engineers thought about teenagers and water- and heat-proofed their phones when they designed it. If that is the case, they should contact us to use our story as a reality-TV like commercial. Then, perhaps, it was not the design of the phone, but the fabric of his shorts that protected his phone. Who knows? At any rate, the phone is still working without any hint of problems. Here is the picture of the phone.

Uploaded - Jul 15, 2008

(2) getting an iPhone

When the first generation iPhone came out, many friends of mine asked me if I would get one. I told them that I would get one when they release the second version with 3G and GPS in it. Now, Apple came out with the new model that has both features, I had no reason to resist my temptation to get this beautiful phone any more. So, on Saturday, I went to local Apple store, expecting a long waiting line. To my pleasant surprise, there was no line and I was able to leave the store in 15 minutes with a working iPhone, sort of. Almost. Not quite.

Since I wanted to keep my old mobile number from Verizon — and those who know my number know how cool that number is , the iPhone had to be crippled until the port process is completed. The process was supposed to finish within six hours. However as my old number was owned by my school, AT&T people could not simply take it away. They kept asking me a pin number which I did not have. It was Saturday afternoon and there was no way I could get that number. So, I waited until yesterday to call my school's telecommunication department, who informed me that all I need to do is to fill out a form to take over the billing responsibility of the number. The form had to be faxed back and forth at least three times to the extent that it became almost illegible. Nevertheless, by the end of the day, I was able to get the form faxed in to Verizon and was instructed to follow up with the customer service reps. But, of course, the number that I had was a special number (!) and they could not do it in a normal way. Yet, the wonderful rep somehow found a way to sidestep that procedure and release my number from the bondage of the corporate account.

Then, I called back AT&T to re-start the porting process. I informed them that now I have a new account number from Verizon and the AT&T rep told me that she will cancel the original port request and start a new one. She informed me that everything went successfully and I should get a text message around 7:40 pm. Alas! My phone went complete silence with a "no service" sign on it around 7pm, instead of getting a text message. So, around 10pm, I called the tech support of AT&T again. The rep told me that my SIM card has been disconnected from the service and cannot be re-activated. It turned out, when the previous rep canceled the original port request, she canceled my SIM card as well. So, she told me that she can either send out a new SIM card which will take 3-5 business days, or I could walk into a local AT&T store to pick a new SIM card.

This morning, I drove to a local AT&T store around 8:50am and waited for about ten minutes for them to open the door. I was the second one at the store. The person ahead of me, who literally bang the door to open it at 8:59, was another Verizon Wireless customer who wanted to switch. Unfortunately for him, there was no more iPhone at the store. While I was there waiting for my new SIM card get activated, there were at least five phone calls inquiring about iPhones. Eventually, they re-activated my phone, but as I was leaving the store, I noticed that my phone did not have any data connection, which took another 15 minutes to resolve. Finally, I have a fully functional iPhone 2.0 and I am happy.

Uploaded - Jul 15, 2008-1

Professor | Writer | Teacher Digital Innovation, Design, Organizational Genetics Case Western Reserve University

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