Thursday, November 27, 2014 • 11:31
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iPhone follies and acronyms, part two


January 15, 2014
A week ago I informed my readers that I received an iPhone for Christmas, a daunting gift for a 76-year-old with eroding or never-attained digital skills. I also promised to continue this week with the story on how the unexpected gift was working out in the hands of a septuagenarian.

I need to make two statements. First, my new toy is winning. Secondly, I'm not giving up. The main thing I learned was how to text. I am now acting like a kid in a candy store and sending lots of messages to my children, especially grandchildren. So far, no one has said knock it off or go play with the dog.

I think my daughter released the Kraken when she gave me this phone. It stares at me and begs to be used. I get anxious waiting for that ''ding'' sound when there is incoming mail. I sent 14 texts in a matter of minutes on New Year's Day, then powered off because I needed a nap. My wife says I'm hooked. I say I'm not. Well, not yet.

I mentioned to Matt, one of my four grandchildren, that having 1,000 texts available per month (my plan) was ludicrous. He said he uses 5,000 per month. I know he and his girlfriend live in different states now that he has gone away to school, but 5,000 per month is 166 per day or 7 per hour. There are only 6 hours a day when he is not sleeping or in class. You do the math. Ugh!

For starters, I asked my old friends, many of whom are over 70, if they have an iPhone or something similar. Four out of five said no, with Hell in front of their reply. But the few like me trying to enter the modern world of communication are complimentary of the phone in a big way.

It's fairly obvious that any teens who started reading this column have now quit. It is okay, of course, my target audience is 50 and above, with emphasis on 70 and up. I'm convinced there is usable, entertaining and necessary data to be found from this gadget. I suspect there is irrelevant stuff, too.

I hit the music app but nothing happened, then I learned I had to download songs from iTunes at a cost in order to have them available to me. Surely they don't have anything from Nat King Cole, Jerry Lee Lewis or Johnny Mathis. I'm afraid to punch some buttons now because I did that once and the word ''purchased'' came up. Oops.

I'm working on ring tones. I've been advised that I will eventually know every tone associated with whoever I assigned them to. Problem is, my daughter did the assigning at random when she gave me my first lesson. For her own phone, the duck call ring tone goes to the most annoying caller and is not answered as frequently. That's sounds like a good idea.

For those who read my column last week I closed by sending editor Kim Harris a 3-letter message that said LTS, which means Let's Talk Salary. I also sent CITM, which I did not explain. Her answer was LOL, which made me realize I created a double entendre. Was she laughing out loud at my column because it was good, or was she responding to my LTS statement? I did not ask. I don't do rejection well.

As for the CITM, I waited and waited but nothing came. Maybe I should have been totally upfront with her. Those capital letters mean Check's In the Mail. Alas, I waited one week before writing this follow-up column and I checked the postal box daily. There was nothing. Maybe she has to check with the publisher. Maybe they are plotting a bargaining strategy. I'm trying to be patient. I've been writing for two months without a contract. Surely they don't think two lunches is adequate pay.

Back to phone: I have learned about Siri, the female voice that answers questions by pushing a button and talking into the phone unit. How neat is that? I learned the feature is on the later models, and I have an Apple S-4. I also learned that I could ''talk'' messages into the phone and not type them. This funny little black box is becoming more appealing. My kids may regret the purchase. I could become annoying with my calls and messages. Of course, they don't have to respond.

My latest application add-on is Fandango, which allows me easy access to movie times. I have seen 206 movies over the last 5 years. My last movie was Wolf of Wall Street, which I do not recommend despite a superb performance by Mr. DiCaprio. Most of it is xxx-rated and, frankly, disgusting. A senior could get a heart attack watching some of those scenes. I just closed my eyes.

It is fairly evident that I have become infatuated with my new iPhone. But I can't end the column without saying I wish this wasn't the new normal. I much prefer face-time, eye-to-eye contact and the comfort of having the person I'm talking to in the room, or at least on the land line phone. There is nothing more satisfying than an in-person conversation with family and good friends.

P.S. Hoping to be helpful, here are some usable iPhone abbreviations for seniors: ATD—At the Doctor; BTW—Bring the Wheelchair; FWIW—Forgot Where I Was; GGPBC—Gotta Go, Pacemaker Battery Low; CBM—Covered by Medicare; LMDO – Laughing My Dentures Out; BYOT—Bring Your Own Teeth; and GHA—Got Heartburn Again.

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