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This Day in My History

2000:  Shades of Grey
2001:  Enunciation
2002:  Is This Any Way to Run a Wedding?
2003:  Deja Vu
2004Leap Frogging Up I-5

2005:  Girly Man

"Boxcar Children"

Books Read in 2006
(Updated 9/5)

"Turning 87"

Turning 87

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Mefeedia Video Archive

My Favorite Video Blogs

Desert Nut

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Look at these videos!
AOL Interview
Beach Blanket Babylon
Forbidden Broadway
Blue Man Group

Pakistan Gives Weapons and
Amnesty to bin Laden

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Lordy, Lordy

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Support liberty and justice for all

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Cost of the War in Iraq

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9 September 2006

A couple of days ago, I posted a video called "More New Toys," which was about the fun of getting a new cell phone.  I am easily amused.

In one of those brilliant "plan ahead" moves two years ago, I went and got myself a cell phone.  I was sitting in front of a Cingular store and thought -- why not?  So I bought myself a Cingular phone and a 2 year contract. 

Then I discovered that Walt had Verizon, Jeri has Verizon, Walt's sister has Verizon and that they could all chat with each other for no cost, but as a Cingular customer, I wasn't in the "friends and family" club.

It's not that I use a cell phone a lot, so it wasn't really that big a deal.  I also paid extra to have the roll-over plan so that my unused minutes rolled over each month.  At the end of my 2-year contract, last month, I had over 4,000 unused minutes.

About the only thing I did with a cell phone, most of the time (except for times when we were in Santa Barbara and we were all calling back and forth making arrangements for Tom's annual picnic), was to play around with ring tones.  I discovered mp3 ring tones and downloaded a few.  With the phone I had, I couldn't assign a different ring tone to each person, but I could group people into group and assign a ring tone to a group.

So the family ring tone was Judy Garland singing "Over the Rainbow" (of course) and our Pinata group, the friends from Cal, all called to the Cal fight song.  The women in my Altered Book group had a song from Wicked.  For everybody else, the phone rang to a John Denver song.   But I thought it was kind of cool that other people with fancier phones could assign different ring tones to individual people.  What fun that would be.

When my Cingular contract was coming due, I broached the subject with Walt about combining our two accounts into one family account, either Cingular or Verizon.  As his Verizon account had another year to run, it seemed logical that he add me to his plan.  (This had the advantage, for me, of having the bill be paid out of our household account, instead of my own account, which was a nice deal too, now that my funds left from Australia have dribbled away.)

We went in to Sacramento on Friday and got me a new phone and added me to Walt's account.  This one is a camera phone, which is also pretty silly, since it costs extra to send photos, so it's not likely that I'll use that function much, but I'm always intrigued by anything that has the word "camera" in it.

Walt and I went to lunch at a Mongolian BBQ after the visit to Verizon and I spent the whole lunch trying to figure out the new features of my new toy.  "Are you finished with your lunch?" he asked me at one point.  It wasn't until then that I realized I had been sitting there staring at the phone for about 15 minutes and hadn't touched my food.

The first job was to transfer all the phone numbers from my old phone to my new one.  I had some 75 names in my Cingular phone and there was no easy way to do it, but to laboriously type in each name and all the information, checking one phone against the other.  The job took three hours.

cellphone.jpg (81462 bytes)It took me a bit of time to figure out how to get the wallpaper I wanted, but I finally discovered how to e-mail myself a photo from my computer, so I chose one of my favorite shots from Australia and sent that to my cell phone and — voila!  My own personal wallpaper.

I also discovered that with this phone I can set up individual ring tones for individual people.  I was tickled.  What fun it would be to set that up.

Now, I have to admit that this was really more a fun exercise than any thing useful.  Though I may have 75 contact names in my cell phone, if I use the phone four times in a month, that's a heavy use month, and it is only on rare occasions that anybody but Walt ever calls me on the cell phone, or that I use the phone for anything other than to let Walt know when I'm coming home from somewhere.  I could probably count on the fingers of one or two hands the number of times in the past two years that I have had a call from anybody other than Walt.   Heck, I don't get calls at home either!

But still, it would be fun to assign different ring tones.  And so I went looking for ring tones.  The one I most wanted was to replace the Cal fight song for the Pinata Group.

When I bought that ring tone it was so simple.   I found a site that sold ring tones, I chose the ones I wanted, I paid $1.99 for each one, they were sent to my cell phone and that was it.

In the past two years, apparently, people have figured out how to make it much more complicated — and expensive.

I couldn't find any site where you could just pay per ring tone.  Now it appears that before you can even look at ring tones, you have to give them your credit card number and agree to a "membership fee."  For this modest membership fee (it could be as little as $1 a month), you then have the privilege of buying ring tones.

Well, if you only want one or two period, paying a monthly membership fee is really stupid.  I searched a lot of links on Google, but they all seemed to lead back to the same company that would let me buy from them if I signed up for a membership.

I didn't search the Verizon site for ring tones for 3 days because I mistakenly thought I had to register to get into their site, and it was 3 days before Verizon recognized my new account.  I finally did check and while they didn't have everything that I was interested in (no Judy Garland, nothing from Wicked, no John Denver), they did have a choice of five different Cal songs and that was great.

But when I chose one to buy, I got this agreement to sign:

Subject to Customer Agreement. Available only in select markets. Voice-mail and subscription to RingBack Tones required. Subscription is $0.99 per month. Verizon Wireless reserves the right to assign voice-mail to you, at no charge, if you don't have it at the time of subscription or if it is dropped during subscription. Not available with Pay As You Go. TXT Messaging charges and restrictions apply when subscribing through TXT Messaging. Subscription may be terminated at any time, but subscription charge will not be prorated. A default tone, designated by Verizon Wireless and subject to change at any time, provided with subscription. Additional tones may be purchased separately through an annual license of $1.99. In certain markets, callers may hear up to one full standard ringtone before the music is played. Subscriptions for tones terminate when cancelled or when subscription to Ringback Tones is cancelled. Subscription charge for tones will not be prorated. You agree not to copy, reproduce, sublicense, transfer or assign tones or use them for any unauthorized purpose. Ringback Tones may not be available for immediate use. It could take up to 24 hours for the service to be activated. All company names, trademarks, logos, and copyrights not property of Verizon Wireless are the property of their respective owners.

Near as I can figure out, you agree to pay .99 a month for the privilege of renting ring tones for $1.99 a year.  The agreement was so confusing that I thought it was just me being too stupid to really understand what it was saying, so I posted it to the people on my CompuServe yahoo group of friends.  None of them could figure it out either.

So it appears that I can no longer just buy ring tones outright.  I actually found software that will allow you to make your own and was thrilled with that — I could make 75 different ring tones for all 75 people who will never call me.  How much fun would that be!  I could have a recording of Steve singing in the off chance Steve ever decided to call me.  Ned could call to a Lawsuit drum riff or the Superman theme, or maybe even to the 24 theme.  I could use a recording of Jeri playing the flute for her calls (should she ever call me on my cell phone instead of on the home phone).  My brain was racing with the possibilities as I downloaded the free trial software, which would allow me to make one ring tone as I decided if I wanted to buy or not.

But then I found out that the software doesn't support my cell phone, so I'm out of luck there too.  They say they hope to support it in the future, but not now.

So it appears that I'm stuck with the default ring tones.  There are 10 of them, but they are all variations on an actual ring and what fun is that? (Plus, the difference is so slight, what good would it do to have different rings for different people--I'd never remember whose was whose)

But, as I said, since nobody ever calls me it's really more of a frustration in not being able to do what should be so simple than anything else.  I'm willing to give a company good money for a ring tone or two, but I'm sure not going to pay any monthly fee for the privilege of buying something that I'll probably never use anyway.


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