When phones have a mind of their own

My phone has an annoying habit of doing things by itself. Among other things, it’s made blank Facebook Messenger phone calls to random people on my Facebook friends lists. It frequently mutes itself, meaning I miss calls. And the other day it turned the screen brightness down to almost zero, rendering the phone virtually useless.

Essential writing fuel!

It took me a while to figure the problem out. I consistently discover issues of this kind when retrieving the phone from my pocket. The problem is that the screen saver – which is meant to disable the touchscreen – doesn’t always lock. The act of having an unlocked phone in one’s pocket, apparently, suffices to first activate a drop-down ‘quick settings’ slider and then randomly push things on it; or to activate whatever the last app was and randomly do something with that. The challenge, of course, is figuring out what obscure function has been activated and then trying to discover which of the 483,200 settings was switched.

Why doesn’t the screen always lock? I don’t know. Possibly a processor lag. I never buy expensive phones – if you drop your $1500 Fapple MePhone, you have $1500 worth of junk. Drop a $200 Crudmo Cheapass phone and – well, the pile of junk is cheaper. Nor do I need a supercomputer in my phone – if I want to do anything serious, I head over to my hyper-uber ‘ruler of the universe’ desktop computer with twin 27″ monitors, a dozen cores worth of latest-gen water-cooled chip, and a graphic processor that sucks so much power it drops voltages on the National Grid. Besides, there’s the pernicious design practise of making phone batteries non-replaceable – and damned if I am going to put my hard-earned lucre into the pockets of corporates who cynically ensure their phones can’t be maintained.

Personally I’d do without such a device, but the way society has gone these days it’s virtually impossible to do anything without a phone. The functionality has become embedded in the way we do things, down to the point where the New Zealand government had no compunction about making phones an essential part of their Covid-19 ‘contact tracing’ system. They also send civil defence alerts by phone. And when that happens, it basically says the device is integral with society. It’s taken only just over a decade.

Do you have phone issues? Rely on it? Feel naked without it? Let me know in the comments.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2021


8 thoughts on “When phones have a mind of their own

    1. I suspect the issue I have isn’t so much a fault as a ‘feature’… But yes, absolutely. What irritates me is that stuff these days is intentionally designed to be unrepairable – it has to be turfed and a replacement bought. The sole motive is improving the profits of the corporates that make them – not (despite the usual green-washing) doing anything practical to reduce the burden human civilisation places on our planet. Or the burden that these shoddy products places on the wallets of those who, usually, can least afford them – but on which they rely. Sigh…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I was required to carry a mobile phone with me 24/7 in the 1990s as part of my job as an engineer for a large multinational I.T. company. They were too big to fit in a pocket in those days and as it was necessary to remove the battery to charge it, we had two bateries: one in use and one charging.

    When I retired early due to ill health in 1999, i swore I’d never carry a mobile phone again. I held out for 5 years before the family persuaded me to reconsider.

    Apart from family and selected friends, I only give out my land-line phone number.

    Phones do have a mind of their own. My current one seems to set ring tones and notification tone to minimum randomly and changes from my preferred Māori/English keyboard to a US keyboard.

    My previous phone did the dark screen trick regularly and recovery was difficult as the screen was effectively blank. Its WordPress app frequently did very odd things and several other apps froze regularly and froze the phone so it wasnt possible to turn it off. Fortunately it had a removable battery that allowed for forced restarts.

    Mobile phones definitely have a mind of their own.

    I’m still not enamored with mobile phones as an everyday tool, preferring my linux dual screen desktop machine whenever possible.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I try to do everything I can on my desktop – same reason. I guess a lot can be put down to the assumptions made by programmers writing the software that drives these things. All, of course, to corporate-imposed cost limits and timing driven by marketing departments. But that doesn’t help the poor consumer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Which is the main reason I switched to Linux around 13 years ago. The programmers are the users. The software is free, and for the most is as good as anything for Windows or Apple products

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I spend a lot of time confused by my smartphone and social media, but I need to be on the likes of Facebook for my job. I’m not reliant on my phone, more the internet. As a resource (creatively and for entertainment/research/reading) it’s a major part of my life.

    i think this mobile technology is amazing, but it’s also gone and made a lot of people very irritating and rude. As there never were mobile phone etiquette lessons, so people kind of have a lack of self-awareness when they’re bellowing about random things on an otherwise quiet bus. Or when I meet close friends for a meal or something and they’re always on their phone.

    Oh well. I’m off to take a dozen selfies.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a Crudmo smartphone but I use it only for actual phone calls and for bushfire notifications. It sits on my desk, or in my bag if I go out. Really can’t understand why everyone’s so enamoured of them. Give me a decent desktop with a big screen and great graphics. And proper speakers! Ok, I’m joining Luddites Anonymous now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like my phone, for the most part, but it has a weird habit of not telling me when I have voicemails until after I call people back. So I see I have a missed call from a friend, call my friend back, and my friend asks if I listened to the voicemail he/she left me. I say no, and we carry on with the conversation. And then, after I hang up, my phone finally informs me that I have a new voicemail. It’s so weird.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.