Monday, July 31, 2006

The Sucky Motorola Phone

I can trace last night’s fiasco back to the sucky design of my Motorola phone, honest. Here’s what happened: Last night around 9 I called a friend of mine to see if he wanted to surf in the morning, but I dialed the wrong number. One digit off. This happened because my sucky Motorola phone was “charging”, which means I’d been plugging it in and unplugging it from its flimsy charger, wiggling it around (like they tell you not to) in hopes that it would catch some juice, all to no avail. Therefore I had to dial my friend’s number by memory, and wouldn’t you know, I got it wrong.

No big deal, right? The number I called went to voicemail, but since it wasn’t MJ’s voice on the other end, I declined to leave a message and simply hung up.

We got the first call around 1:30 that morning. Some idiot on the other end, asking for a series of nonexistent people. He’d found my number on his cell phone and decided to prank it. My wife hung up. I’m not even sure I was awake for that one. The second call, about 10 minutes later, she made me answer. The third and fourth calls, each about 15 minutes apart, woke me up, and in my confusion I kept forgetting to turn off the ringer or to say anything at all. The fifth call I freaked out and began swearing and threatening to call the police (as if that would do any good).

Angry now, I went downstairs to my computer to see if I could block the number from calling again, but of course, we don’t have call blocking. Who pays for stuff like that, right?
So then I had this bright idea that I’d bomb them back with phone calls. I remember I did that once with an old Windows NT machine, using the modem. My wife came down and begged me to just shut off the ringers, but I wasn’t listening.

I was concocting my perfect plan of revenge. It took me a long time to figure out that Windows XP’s dialer program does not really support calling like it did on NT, or at least, I couldn’t get it to work. I could enter a number to dial, but it never seemed to find the modem. Was it a hardware conflict? A modem configuration issue? A firewall problem? Here it was, getting on toward three in the morning, and I was standing there at the counter reading newsgroup posts from 1999 on how to call your grandmother through your Windows 98 machine.

Just as I was about to give up, I had a bright idea to set up a modem network connection, and see if that would get me somewhere. As soon as I had finished setting up the connection, I heard the sweet sound of success. The buzz of the dial tone, the modem dialing, the answer on the other line. Perfect! I didn’t need to say anything, I only needed to keep calling. In the Advanced properties of my new modem network connection, I set the redial timeout to thirty seconds and instructed Windows XP to try 1000 times before quitting.

I stood there for awhile (probably had a gleeful expression on my face) as my computer dialed the number of the prank callers. They’d answer, say hello, scream abuse, and eventually hang up. As soon as they did, my machine started the redial process. Brilliant!

I went on back to bed, but now I was too excited to sleep. I alternated between wild, exciting fantasies of just how frustrated the prankers must be getting by now and feelings of guilt. After all, they were probably drunk. And what if they had some emergency and couldn’t dial out? What if they found out where we lived and came by to throw rocks through the window?
I couldn’t sleep. I was too keyed up. Finally, around four-thirty, I went downstairs and disconnected my machine.

Feeling better, I went back upstairs and had just drifted into a doze when the phone rang. That’s right, the prankers again. As soon as their line was freed up, they made use of it. After the ringing stopped I went around the house and disconnected all our phones, then fell back in bed, exhausted.
“What I told you to do in the first place,” my wife said.
“Shouldn’t you be sleeping?” I said.

So, how does this relate to my crappy Motorola phone (which is part of a 2 year contract with Cingular, natch)? If the charger on that thing wasn’t so completely klugdy and brain-dead, I’d have had my friend’s number available and never needed to dial that wrong number. Which means the prankers wouldn’t have mine. Which means…well you get my drift. It’s all Motorola’s fault!

Update: I have figured out a way to make your Motorola phone a little easier to charge. Look down into the base of the phone, where the charger connects. You should see a group of three copper-colored strips where your charger is supposed to make a connection. Chances are these strips are a cloudy gray-green color by now. Take a knife or some other object with a sharp point and gently scrape these strips until they are shiny again. This should greatly improve your chances of getting the phone to charge.


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