Monday, December 10, 2007

I bought a new phone

I used to have a phone I liked a lot. It was a Nokia. One of these, as it happens:

I was quite happy with it, though it was old and had no multimedia capability. It made phone calls. It was extremely durable. It lasted years. However, one of the keys wore out recently, and as it was the key that unlocked the phone I was sort of stuck replacing it.

So now I've got this sexy new Nokia 6555. I didn't know exactly how new it was until I went looking for images to accompany this blog post. Well, I have one and I'm not terribly impressed. Sure, it's got a lot of stuff, but that's the point. With bloody few exceptions, I don't want the stuff they put on it. In some cases, they put stuff on it that I want, but can't access due to poor design; and in other cases there's just poor design. But lest you think that everything is gloomy, here's what's good about the phone:
  1. Bluetooth. Most phones have it these days, so does this. That's great, and expected. I'm sick of headphones with cords. When I drive, Bluetooth is just the thing. If your laptop is Bluetooth-enabled then you can use the phone as your modem.
  2. A micro-SD RAM slot. Good idea, but it's in the wrong place, which puts this feature on both lists.
  3. Hands-free dialing. Another nice feature. Damned if I can get it to work without Bluetooth, though, and WITH Bluetooth it is horribly inept at choosing the right number to dial. If I ask for "Everett" it's just as likely to offer to dial "Alice" or "Dave". Really. Out of desperation I renamed "Home" to "Leigh2Enterprise"... that is long enough to always be recognized.
  4. It has a USB port. In fact, it's one reason I bought the phone.
  5. Built in camera. Decent resolution (1.3 megapixels), nice picture. Has "night mode" and can take short videos.
  6. Built-in sound recorder. Nice for simply recording memos.
  7. The usual PIM apps. A decent calculator; calendar, and alarm clock. Especially the alarm clock... it will wake you up without jarring you.
  8. IM presence on AIM, MSN, or Yahoo instant messenger. I won't use it, but it's nice for those that need it.
  9. A email-to-text gateway. You can send an email to the phone and it arrives as a text message. OK, just about any phone allows this... even the old model I had. The point is that it's a good feature. This phone allows you to access more robust webmail, too, but I don't want that (though If I really wanted to do that I'd use my laptop ... I just want the ability to get quick messages from anybody).
  10. MP3 player. Yes, it's dross, but it saves having another gadget in the pocket. Podcasts are everywhere; if you're going to take them with you anyway, you may as well save pocket space.
Now, here's what ticks me off.
  1. As a certified geek, I have just about every USB adapter known to Man. Except one: the one that's included on this phone. AT&T doesn't carry the cable, either. Ridiculous, you say? So did I. The kind folks at the AT&T store suggested I might find the cable on Ebay. Yes, yes... they're so brilliant they haven't figured out that if you're not going to carry the accessories you really have no business carrying the phone. You ESPECIALLY have no business carrying a phone that has purportedly ben engineered for your network and yours alone. I found the cable on for $8.
  2. There are a number of demo games included. Not one full game is included. No matter; I don't want the games anyway, so I tried to delete them. After all, they're completely worthless demos. But they can't be deleted. They claim to be system files. That's right, Boys and Girls, in the AT&T universe, completely worthless demo GAMES are "system files".
  3. Cellular Video (CV). Don't want it, don't need it. If I chose to actually use this highly touted (by no one but AT&T) feature then at this moment I could see a couple of minutes of CNN News or ESPN sports; I could watch a funny holiday clip from South Park (Mr. Garrison directs the Christmas play); or two whole minutes (wheee!) of NBC Heroes. Yes, they charge for this. Yes, retards and children actually pay for it. Adults would rather reprogram the key. But guess what? You CAN'T!
  4. MEdia Net. More worthless fluff... not a useful thing on it, and I don't want it. But if I did I could "Follow Monday Night Football!"; I could find out what the weather is currently like where I'm standing; or I could download hot ringtones or games (to add to the demo crap that I can't delete). Did you know that ringtones are a billion-dollar business? We could feed every poverty-stricken man, woman, and child in Africa for what we spend on ringtones every year, so I choose to send the dollar elsewhere. You have no idea how much it pains me that I can't reprogram THAT key either. Together with CV, it's a complete waste of two keys.
  5. Push-to-Talk (PTT). This is one of the most inconsiderate, dumb-assed features ever conceived for a cellular network. You press a single button and talk and interrupt any conversation conducted by or in the immediate vicinity of the person you're calling; instantly labeling you as a rude shithead who should never be allowed within speaking distance. Before responding to this post to defend PTT, keep in mind that in making any such attempt you label yourself accordingly. PTT sucks every egg in the crate. And here's what's worse: the PTT button is on the outside of the flip-phone clamshell. This means that if you store your phone in your pocket or poketbook, you can and most assuredly WILL trigger it constantly, repeatedly, and unwantedly. Over and over and over again. You'll most certainly want to disable that key even if you use the service. But... though you can assign the PTT functioality to another key, you can neither disable nor reprogram this incredibly stupid engineering blunder. AT&T would love to charge you for this service, to the point of selling you a phone that is deliberately engineered to maximize the chance of those "accidental" charges. I say "deliberately" because no engineer qualified to put so much as two Lego blocks together could possibly create this steaming pile of stupidity by accident. The end result is that almost every time I pick up the phone I have to dismiss a dialog box that says "PTT charges will apply. Initialize PTT?" "Don't ask again" is NOT an option. However, it's exactly what you'll be shouting at the phone after you've used it.
  6. The microSD RAM slot. Yes, it's a good thing. But guess where it is? If you said, "in the basement in the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door that says, 'Beware of the Leopard'" you wouldn't be far off. You have to disassemble the phone to get to it. Remove the back cover. Remove the battery. Pull it back. Flip up the little cage and Bob's your uncle. They could have put a slot in the side of the phone. Really, they could.
OK, so that's a lot of ascerbic complaints. Don't get me wrong: the phone itself is really nice. It does what phones are supposed to do, and a number of things besides. Where I've got complaints it's generally with the additional crap that AT&T piled onto this device.


  1. I did a search for "reprogram nokia 6555 ptt button" and found your blog. I share your frustration. I still don't know how to reprogram that stupid button, but I got a good laugh. Thanks for that! You're hilarious.

  2. Hi Dave,
    I have to agree with almost everything on your blog! I bought the phone for the PC connectivity so that I wouldn't have to manually enter every entry in my Outlook address book. And, amazingly, they had the USB cable in the store (though they didn't think they did)....anyway, that damned PTT button is absolutely horrid and annoying. If someone (i.e. hacker) would develop a program to reprogram that button, they could make millions, just charge $1 for each download!

  3. I believe the micro-usb cable for the Motorola fits the Nokia. Sad but true. Most all AT&T mobile stores have the have the cable that will fit the nokia but is in a Motorola box. The fact that the store clerks didn't know this is frightening.

  4. Frankly, there's nothing special about the USB Type A to Micro-B cable used by the 6555. It's a little known, but rapidly becoming widely used standard end among the USB family. Kind of like how digital cameras made Type A to Mini ends popular at the start of the 2000's. Unlike now, the cable were included with camera, from the cheap ones to even the most expensive.