Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Flunking "Smart Phone"

In times past, when the internet was new and there was no such thing as a cell phone, I was the guru for all of my friends, for the offices I worked for, for the family. I was the go-to person. I read computer and software manuals like novels.,

I never got into the "guts" of the machinery, but boy I became a whiz at any program that I used. I knew how to do magical things with WordPerfect and amazed everyone at how effortlessly I was able to set up complicated pages with that program.

I knew several photo manipulation software programs and when I finally got into PhotoShop, quickly learned how to use that program, watched endless tutorials, have attended day-long seminars.

I learned web design before anybody I knew was doing web design -- not even David Gerrold (he actually had me help him set up his first web page).

On the internet, I could find just about anything I wanted to find, became queen of Google (never could understand why people called ME to ask what I knew about something and then were so amazed at how quickly I came up with an answer, when all I did was to put the "something" into Google).

When we got our Star Trek Communicator flip phones several years ago, I mastered mine pretty quickly. I could whip out a text message, add a photo, keep a calendar, set an alarm, create and assign ring tones and do a whole host of things that the little phone could do. There were lots of things that the phone had on its list of choices, but I didn't see any use for those, so I never used them.

But this new smart phone is making me feel like a first class idiot.

I learned how to change the wallpaper so instead of the harsh metalic droid screen, I could add my own photo

Droid1.jpg (43800 bytes)

DroidLacie.jpg (44136 bytes)

(Though this is a picture of both girls with Santa, and I couldn't figure out how to resize it to include the both of them)

I found all sorts of fun apps to add to the phone and proudly showed them off to Walt. They were all free apps. I was happy.

But then the problems started. My phone is allotted 300 MB of Internet data a month. I wasn't watching it too carefully since I almost never used the phone out of the house, so I was going through our wifi connection, not the internet, and supposedly that didn't count against our internet data.

But suddenly the records showed that I had used almost half of the usage allotment. I panicked. I couldn't figure out what was going on. The next day, I used the phone hardly at all. No calls, no texts, nothing that accesses the internet at all. Records showed that I had now used 75% of the allotment. The data use table on the Verizon web site showed that two of the big uses were made when I was asleep (and the phone was sitting on my desk), the other uses were made when I was at Concetta's funeral (and not using my phone), and when I was home (supposedly going through wifi).

I called Verizon yesterday and actually got a person who, naturally, couldn't tell me what the problem was. She passed me along to Amanda, her supervisor. Amanda had me change some of the settings that came with the phone (which the salesman who sold us the phone set up for me) and said she would call me this morning.

She called at the appointed time and I told her that yesterday the only times I had touched the phone were to send two test text messages (which supposedly have nothing to do with any internet activity, since they are the phone) and answered one phone call. The data usage had gone up by another chunk.

I figured that if I turned off the phone and did not use it for anything for the rest of the month, I would still exceed my monthly allotment by whatever the phone was doing that counted against my internet usage.

She explained a lot of things to me, none of which I understood and the bottom line is that she is sending me a new phone, since she can't figure out why when the phone is sitting 3 feet from our wifi source it would be accessing the internet and maybe it's a phone glitch (but she can't reduce the usage already accumulated). She also talked me into upping my internet usage to 2 gig from 3 MB. We figured that would cover this month and I'd be OK after that. Maybe. It's only $10 more a month and if it brings peace of mind, that would be worth it.

But I feel like a total idiot that I don't understand most of what exactly data delivery is, what data saver is (though both are now turned off and that apparently is going to help my data usage). I don't understand why if it shows me I'm using wifi, I'm still also using internet as well, but apparently I am. I don't understand why when programs automatically update they do it through the internet and not the wifi when the phone is sitting less than 3' from the wifi hot spot.

I'm wondering if after all these years, the smart phone has finally turned me into a blithering idiot. But we'll revisit this subject in the next couple of weeks after the new phone comes.


Lise said...

As a safeguard, can you turn off internet connection through the network? On my Droid Incredible, I go to Menu > Settings > Wireless > Mobile Network. That way no data is used unless I go in and reconnect.

You might also want to look at all those apps you downloaded. Many apps connect often - as in every 15 minutes - to the internet.

Harriet said...

There are some mighty clueless people in the customer service departments of cell phones, which is one of the reasons I use my cell phone only for emergency calls and never for texting. Occasionally I see a few seconds of "data" time on the bill; probably I hit a wrong button, but I don't go over minutes.

I've talked with reps who won't even discuss an erroneous billing. Trust is important to me.

Bev Sykes said...

Lise -- how do you find out which apps connect with the internet?

Lise said...

Bev, it seems that most apps connect to the internet, but at varying intervals. You can change how often certain programs sync (On my phone it's done at Settings > Accounts and Sync > Manage accounts) You can also turn off the Background data and auto-sync functions the same way.

It might be helpful to download yet another app - to track usage. This article might be helpful to you: http://android.appstorm.net/roundups/utilities-roundups/35-android-apps-to-monitor-usage-stats-and-tweak-system-utilities/

I removed most of the apps from my phone as they were sucking my battery down too quickly. Task killers are often touted as the answer to that program, but the apps only stayed killed for a short time and then revived themselves. And when I turned off background data, it affected something I used a lot - though I can't now remember what that was.

Good luck!