Thursday, May 17, 2012

Smartphone Dumbphone

My old phone, my "dumbphone" would make a sound when I got a text message and then keep making a sound until I checked it. It was a simple notification setting. My new phone, my "smartphone", can't do that. Or rather, it can, but it requires me to download an app. Ok. So I'm forced to sift through hundreds of notification apps. Some are free. Some cost money. Inevitably each outfit that offers one has a free and a pay option, and of course some key bit of functionality is held back from the free edition.


So I search and search and find one that seems popular and has good write ups. Mostly. Of course while there are hundreds of good reviews, there are also a few that say things like "it broke my phone, ruined my marriage, and gave me the plague." Still, I guess that uncertainty comes with the android territory, so I hold my breath and click download.

But first I have to say I'm "ok" with the permissions the app needs. Wanna know what it needs? It needs to be able to read my text messages and emails, and it needs full control over my camera. Why? For logical enough reasons. The app can't know I have unread texts or emails unless it can read them. It can't use the flash on my phone as a notification if it can't control my camera. I'm not sure why anyone would want their flash going off to notify them of a missed text message, but maybe someone's really desperate for that text from that special someone.

Still, there's no f*cking way in hell I'm giving a 3rd party application permission to read my texts, emails, and control my camera. WTF? Seriously?

I suppose any illusion of privacy I have is just that, an illusion. Google already has permission to read my gmail. I'm sure if I read my cell-phone contract closely enough Verizon has access to my texts. But my camera?

So I can either do without something I consider basic functionality that my "dumbphone" could do just fine, or I sign my life away to this 3rd party, or I begin scouring the app store again for something with a narrower scope. I mean, I might be ok letting a 3rd party read just my texts if it means not missing a text message when I don't happen to hear the alert or happen to look at my phone at just the moment the LED blinks. It's too bad too, because the app I was going to download would let me change the color and frequency that the LED would blink as a notifier. I had no idea it could blink anything other than white or any faster than once an hour. You'd think, maybe, they'd build control over that into the phone, but I guess "smartphones" really aren't that smart.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.