You know those people who only use their laptops at 20%? I’m one of them. I only log onto messenger, Gtalk, Picassa, Word … and Character Map. Oh, and I once created really gorgeous business cards with Photoshop. I never got to use them, because I got a day job three days later, but at least I know how to do it now. Anyway, clearly, I have no business doing anything in tech. That despite my geeky fetish … and the fact that I work at a digital agency. Which is how I ended up with a smartphone.

You see, I don’t like to spend a lot on phones, so I’ve had about four different kinds of Mulika Mwizis. At one point, I had 4 Nokia 1200 handsets. At the same time. And they were all active.  I know, I’m special. I recently upgraded to a pretty China thing that sorta-kinda had twin-sim and internet. But after a few weeks at the agency, I realised that I needed a real phone. You can’t be a ‘social media expert‘ and walk around with a phone that doesn’t even tweet! Enter ED, my pretty black Ideos. And then … the nightmare began.

ED and I spent our first night together online. I would type stupid questions on Twitter, then punch him to get a response. Yes, ED is a touch phone, but I wasn’t touching – I was punching. Here’s the thing. Before buying the Ideos, I knew very little about smartphones and phoneternet. All I knew was that it’s a bad idea to surf outside of bundles. Please note that I had no idea just what bundles were, since I pay my Zuku bill just once a month, so I have no idea how people watch MBs. Note, also, that I once told a workmate that I had a 2MB flashdisk and 512GB modem, and I had no idea why he was laughing.

So when I took my pretty new Ideos from its box, I spent some time reading the instructions booklets. I read them cover-to-cover because … well … I do things like that. Then I turned it on … and spent ten minutes staring at it. It wasn’t because it was pretty. It was because I was waiting for the writing to disappear. At some point, I used my finger to trace the pretty rainbow text … and was prompted to ‘Drag to unlock the screen’. Oopsie!

Next, the phone prompted me to key in my Google password. Then the troubles began. See, my passwords are an interesting mix of Swa, slang, Jang, French, and Leetspeak. They’re all perfectly logical words inside my head, but on paper, they’re 13 digits of gibberish. Now, try typing 13 digits of nonsense on an Android keyboard when you’re so blonde that you can’t get the bloody screen unlocked. =(

After half an hour, I had successfully keyed in my password. Next, the phone started issuing instructions like ‘Press to open keyboard’ and stuff, but each time I tried to get anywhere, I ended up typing the wrong letter. It was even worse because I had to switch between the ABC and 123 inputs. God! At some point, a Google window opened, and I was jazzed by the clarity and pretty colours.

And then … the phone went off! It took me another five minutes to realise I’d run out of credit. But how?!? I hadn’t even done anything yet!

I’d bought some airtime with the intention of buying a bundle – even though I still had no idea what that was. I knew it involved keying *544 or 450# or something like that, and I figured I should turn the net off before I reloaded anything. Thing is … I had no idea how to do that! I didn’t know what any button did, and when I managed to stumble into settings, I had no idea what they were! There was something about Wi-Fi and 2G. I didn’t even know there was 2G. It’s not like I’d heard the term before. I tried to tweet my question, and about a hundred people answered like this:

Please note that at this point, I still had no idea of exactly what an effing bundle was!! Anyway, after a few more lost, blonde questions, I finally found the ‘off’ button, loaded my bundle, and started exploring. It was quite frustrating because everything needed a password, and logging in took me ten minutes a try. Plus, for reasons that can only be attributed to my specialness, I kept forgetting where the settings were =(

Three days into my Ideos nightmare, I downloaded a Touchpal Keyboard which, thank God, turned my Ideos into a phone! The only problem was … nothing else worked! The phone would hang for ages, and the only advice I could get was ‘Try turning it off and on again.’ Groan. Also, I hung up on a lot of people … because I couldn’t figure out how to take calls! Also, I routinely woke the entire household because I didn’t know how to put off the alarm. And I panicked because I somehow lost all my numbers, and my phone book was now inexplicably full of Gtalk avatars. Did I mention I almost threw the phone because it kept on going landscape on me? Why do I have a smartphone again?

Fast forward to two weeks later, and I now know where all the features are, though I still don’t know how to use them. The only thing I do consistently is turn data off and on as necessary, and I can’t even tweet because I type too slow. I did successfully update a twitpic, which is a huge achievement for me, so yay! Of course, I had to explain to the princess why I was eating Maryland cookies without her…

Still, my nightmare was far from over, because now I had to use ED for *gulp* work. I was required to attend a function and tweet. Live. Yes. This with a phone that I could barely switch on and off! I tried to get them to let me use a laptop, but the closest compromise was to let me use a Blackberry. I have never used a Blackberry. Let’s just say it didn’t end well.

So now I have extra homework. I have to learn to tweet from my Ideos in realtime, and I have to do it without typos, mishaps, or moments of blondeness. It would also help if I could regularly twitpic, and if I could do all these combined tasks really, really fast. All I can say is … God help me!

Ships in the nightMat Kearney

 

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