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Cellphones Communications Networking

Don't Hate the Phone Call, Hate the Phone (And the Network) 145

Ever screamed at your phone, or wanted to, when it can't handle the basic job of linking you to another person by voice? antdude writes to say that The Atlantic has posted a long article titled "Don't Hate the Phone Call, Hate the Phone" about how our telephone habits have changed, but so have the infrastructure and design of the handset. A snippet: When you combine the seemingly haphazard reliability of a voice call with the sense of urgency or gravity that would recommend a phone call instead of a Slack DM or an email, the risk of failure amplifies the anxiety of unfamiliarity. Telephone calls now exude untrustworthiness from their very infrastructure. Going deeper than dropped connections, telephony suffered from audio-signal processing compromises long before cellular service came along, but the differences between mobile and landline phone usage amplifies those challenges, as well.
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Don't Hate the Phone Call, Hate the Phone (And the Network)

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  • What fiendish method of communication is a Slack DM?

    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @09:47AM (#50308571) Homepage

      A lazy dungeon master?

      Other than that ... no idea.

      • A lazy dungeon master?

        Other than that ... no idea.

        Hey, It's me! I just wanted to tell you
        (sound of dice rolling)
        umm... absolutely nothing... crap...

    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      I was wondering the same thing. My best guess is 'relaxed direct message', eg. an SMS or something like that. Never heard that term before, made me wonder if it's something the company this guy works for produces.

    • An advertisement for a site I'm not going even to bother linking here, because I hate the advertisement.
      • by Rob Riggs ( 6418 )
        Exactly. If you read "technology A sucks compared to technology B (popular/generic) and technology C (which no one has heard of), you can bet that this is solely a marketing tool for technology C. This is a slashvertisement, plain and simple.
    • Slack [slack.com] is a currently-trendy, corporate messaging/notification/collaboration system. DMs would be the Direct Messaging (person-to-person) subset of that.
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Well that's Just WIZ!

        Cant wait for more NERPS updates from SlackDM!

        People really need to start beating marketing types with sacks of doorknobs.

    • Re:Slack DM? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @10:12AM (#50308747)

      If I need to contact someone, I might send a text. I might send an email. Occasionally I might even make a phone call. But what I'll NEVER do is use some silly unknown system like the one listed in this Slashvertisement just because some venture capitalist felt like bankrolling some late-comer to the messaging game.

    • By implication from TFS, it's a telephone for people who don't have a telephone.

      What fiendish device they have for people who don't know how to use a telephone (e.g. my mother) or who don't want one (e.g. my hill-walking buddy, Tom), I don't know.

  • blame the caller. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @09:51AM (#50308595) Homepage
    As a millenial, phonecalls never made sense to me. Unless I actively want to hear your voice (my parents for example) then i have an infinite and vastly superior cadre of resources with which to communicate. Another supreme irritation is when I email a person, but they call me back. maintain parity and answer the email. Accosting me for details just means im going to keep pointing you to the email.

    But phones? no. Voicemail hell no. my voicemail is a tire fire of unanswered phonecalls from recruiters, cold callers, advertisers, sales droids, scammers, you name it. Bell make sure my generation never, ever wanted to use the telephone when they turned a blind eye to the fact that it was becoming a haven for garbage calls. comcast and company also turned me off to phones by reminding me how much i absolutely hate hanging on the line, waiting endlessly for some ESL speaker to fumble through my question or "escalate" me to another call center.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 13, 2015 @10:03AM (#50308689)

      Better option than that rant: use the right tool for the job!

      Single quick question? text it.

      Long data dump? email it.

      Sequence of questions that will probably need additional clarification? call.

      Need to REALLY get across the level of rage you feel at [worthless local monopoly ISP]? call, explain to the helpless impotent call center slave that your gripe is with someone else (in that fun tone of "if you slow me down at all, you'll be getting a shouting also"), let the bad call waiting music choice fuel your anger, get to someone with at least a shred of influence, unleash your hatred, MAKE THEM FEAR YOU!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Sequence of questions that will probably need additional clarification? call.

        Negative. That's what chat or series of 1-line emails are for. You can't refer back to a call when you're working on that project later, mistakes will be made, and it will turn into a stupid finger-pointing match that eats up far more time than you saved using voice instead of text.

        • Sequence of questions that will probably need additional clarification? call.

          Negative. That's what chat or series of 1-line emails are for. You can't refer back to a call when you're working on that project later, mistakes will be made, and it will turn into a stupid finger-pointing match that eats up far more time than you saved using voice instead of text.

          I've found with technical discussions that a bunch of chats often take too long to convey the same information. Phone calls just work better, going to said person's desk and looking at the same thing on the monitor is even better.

          • Sequence of questions that will probably need additional clarification? call.

            Negative. That's what chat or series of 1-line emails are for. You can't refer back to a call when you're working on that project later, mistakes will be made, and it will turn into a stupid finger-pointing match that eats up far more time than you saved using voice instead of text.

            I've found with technical discussions that a bunch of chats often take too long to convey the same information. Phone calls just work better, going to said person's desk and looking at the same thing on the monitor is even better.

            I hate chats. It takes hours of back and forth that a minute or two on a call or face to face would have resolved.
            People hit you up on IM expecting you to drop everything and pay attention to them. It is too disruptive in a back and forth conversation. Even though it is still disruptive to have a phone call, at least you aren't disrupted and having to switch focus 50 times over the course of hours.

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          No. If you need that, then after the phone call, send an email summary with the important data points in it and ask if that is correct. It will still be quicker than a zillion back and forth emails or a chat.

          • Doesn't anybody use handwritten notes anymore?

            And oftentimes, at least in engineering, the facts communicated in such a conversation are a) much easier to draw in symbols or sketches that just can't be done in email or chat, and b) make their way into a final drawing or specification and don't need to be published as a transcript or sketch or markup.

            • by sjames ( 1099 )

              Sure, but since it's a summary of a phone conversation, they may need to scan and email the drawings...

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        Better option than that rant: use the right tool for the job!

        Single quick question? text it.

        Long data dump? email it.

        Sequence of questions that will probably need additional clarification? call.

        This, oh a thousand times this.

        If I'm sending a lot of info, email.

        If I dont want an answer immediately or at all, text.

        If I need an answer immediately, call.

        Personally I've found the quality of voice calls, mobile, land line and VOIP to have improved significantly in the last 15 years (or 5 years in the case of VOIP). Granted I live in Australia, so I can't speak for the quagmire that is the US telecommunications industry but getting a phone call that isn't clear is a very rare event for me. Ev

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Phone calls never made sense to you because you were too wrapped up in yourself to listen to the other person. There is a whole lot more communication in the intonation and pace of speaking than there is in a text message. I suggest you actually listen to people when they're speaking to you instead of thinking up a rebuttal. Your life will be much more pleasant.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Phone calls never made sense to you because you were too wrapped up in yourself to listen to the other person. There is a whole lot more communication in the intonation and pace of speaking than there is in a text message. I suggest you actually listen to people when they're speaking to you instead of thinking up a rebuttal. Your life will be much more pleasant.

        Most people who prefer to call just waste time meandering around when instead they should have gotten their thoughts together first while composing an email. Phone calls are also a haven for people who want to avoid having a written record of what they said that could be used against them later on (never trust an engineer who avoids replying to emails.)

        If you really need to talk something out a face-to-face meeting is far superior to a phone call.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Generation Jones (aka., later boomer). Phone is for immediate response. Everything else, as far as I'm concerned, is asynchronous communication. That is, I'm not answering right away or until I want. Unfortunately, text messaging is consider an acceptable way to interrupt my day and, in most people's minds, requires an immediate response.

      Text messaging is plain stupid and I've never understood the appeal. It's this false sense that humans can multi-task that makes texting acceptable as a subtask whi

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @10:25AM (#50308865) Journal

      As someone who is just a little older than you mellenials, I can't understand why you don't like the phone. Actually I can't even understand why you don't like voice mail.

      You mention your parents and wanting to hear their voice, you don't like to hear the voice of your friends too? I happen to like to be reminded that my friends and co-workers are real personal contacts that I have and different then people I interact with exclusively via text, like other slashdot users.

      A lot gets said in a voice mail that won't be said in an e-mail. People are generally not good actors. I can get a lot extra information from a voice mail about how someone 'feels' about the subject that they many times would not write. I can also convey a lot of information like 'don't push this issue with boss, I'll fight you on this' that I would not want to commit to writing but will state thru tone, rate of speech, pronoun selection etc in voice mail or on a call. If your interaction with voice mail is through some terrible TUI I get that, but if you have visual voice mail or get it delivered to e-mail as sound clips, what is not to like? Combine that with options truly good voice mail systems have like speech-to-text so you can optionally read your voice mails for those situations where you can't listen them its even better.

             

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm not sure if I'm a "millennial" or not (born in 1980, which seems to be the cut-off, but nobody ever agrees what side of that cut-off it's on). But the fact is, I hate voicemail. Voicemail is an abomination. The sooner it dies a horrible, fiery death, the better.

        I don't like to hear anyone's voice over the phone. It's tinny and muffled at the same time, making it hard to understand. I already know that people are real. I don't need to constantly keep in contact with their "realness". Text is just fine.

        No

      • by bigdavex ( 155746 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @12:14PM (#50309765)

        A lot gets said in a voice mail that won't be said in an e-mail. People are generally not good actors. I can get a lot extra information from a voice mail about how someone 'feels' about the subject that they many times would not write. I can also convey a lot of information like 'don't push this issue with boss, I'll fight you on this' that I would not want to commit to writing but will state thru tone, rate of speech, pronoun selection etc in voice mail or on a call.

        Conversely, one of the merits of email is that people can't do that - convey something and then deny it.

      • For me a voice mail tends to be slow. The same thing said in a normal conversation always seems to go faster. Plus if it is important enough to be stored, store it in a method that is easier to edit or forward.

        Some messages are better in voicemail but where I would use voicemail is usually technical discussions where we want documentation. Usually better not to have a lot of emotion fed through that.
      • As someone who is just a little older than you mellenials, I can't understand why you don't like the phone. Actually I can't even understand why you don't like voice mail.

        I'm probably your age, and I never use voicemails anymore. (Back when I had a landline, owning an answering machine made sense, but we have better options now.) It really comes down to the interface. I can quickly and easily read text messages. Listening to voicemail takes a bit of effort - I need to be in an environment where it's convenient to call, where there aren't too many background noises, etc. And if it includes information like an address, or something else that I'd write down, I have to find a pe

      • Born on the Boomer/Gen-X cusp, I don't understand the aversion to the phone call and the addiction to texting, either.

        However, I *do* understand the aversion to voice mail. For the same reason I'd rather read an article than watch a video: It's a waste of time.

        I can read a news article in half the time it takes me to watch a news clip on the same story, and often times the written article is more fact-dense.

        And voicemail is even worse, because people take forever to get to the point, ramble on, and often

    • As a millenial, phonecalls never made sense to me. Unless I actively want to hear your voice (my parents for example) then i have an infinite and vastly superior cadre of resources with which to communicate.

      it's true that many interactions are best kept to a text medium but the tone and volume of your voice is just as informative as what you are saying. i'm not saying it's more effective at resolving issues, i'm saying it's better for expressing your emotions.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @11:37AM (#50309503) Homepage

      As a parent of a millennial, I force phone conversations.

      Because Texting is utterly useless when all I get is..

      Out of monE cn U snd me som
      LOL

      Yeah, dad is not sending crap until the phone rings.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Did my ex-wife convince you that a pair of reasonably good looking children (one of each gender) belong to you? Or did my kids con you into thinking that you were their father? The daughter does not have this problem but the boy child will make more work trying to get out of work than he would have done had he just done the work. He might be improving.

        Sound about right? Yeah, if so... Tell them bastards to call. Emailing is not contacting. I do not ask for much but I do pay a bunch. I am a dog, there must b

    • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @12:13PM (#50309757)

      As a millenial, phonecalls never made sense to me.

      Really? You never talk to anyone using your voice? Were you one of those kids who text messages the person sitting right next to you? I hate talking on the phone myself but there are plenty of times it is the most effective means of communication. It is far faster than email for many data dumps and it communicates emotion and nuance light years better. I type fast but I talk much faster. If I need to give you a core dump about an issue and deal with it quickly I'm probably going to call when typing would take too long.

      Unless I actively want to hear your voice (my parents for example) then i have an infinite and vastly superior cadre of resources with which to communicate.

      That depends very much on exactly what you are trying to communicate. Talking on the phone can be VASTLY faster and more effective than email, IM, twitter, facebook and other forms of communication in a lot of circumstances. Some things are difficult to communicate adequately via email. Asynchronous forms of communication are generally very impersonal, slow, and frankly I deal with enough email as it is. The last thing I want to do is spend more time emailing.

      Another supreme irritation is when I email a person, but they call me back. maintain parity and answer the email.

      Not everyone types very well. I work with several people who can't type quickly for various reasons. Sometimes calling is a faster way to address the problem. You might prefer email but your preferences are not the only ones that matter. I don't care for talking on the phone either but if it gets the job done, so what? I care that the problem gets handled, not the medium it gets handled through.

      Accosting me for details just means im going to keep pointing you to the email.

      At which point the other person will declare you to be an uncooperative jerk. I absolutely loathe talking on the phone but if I've bothered to pick up the phone and call you there is a damn good reason for it. Answer the call, be courteous and helpful. If you point me back to email when I've bothered to call you I'm probably going to get pissed off at you. If it is a telemarketer, hang up and block the number.

      But phones? no. Voicemail hell no.

      Voicemail has its place. I use google voice which records and transcribes the voicemails I get. The problem with voicemail isn't the actual message, it's the shitty interface that has been put on it traditionally. Now that I can quickly read my voicemails I rarely actually have to listen to them and voicemail has become fairly useful. Sometimes someone needs to reach you and email isn't the right format or maybe all they have is a phone number. Voice mail allows them to communicate with you when you can't take the call which is genuinely useful.

    • Another supreme irritation is when I email a person, but they call me back.

      • You: [email] Hey Dad! How's Mom?
      • Dad: [email] She died last night.

      Ya, That would be sooo much better than a phone call.

      Accosting me for details just means im going to keep pointing you to the email.

      So, you equate someone wanting to talk with you with "accosting"? (Which, of course, they could also do via email.)

      I get it. Your/my time is important, but don't be one of those self-centered/important hipster douches that thinks the world does or should revolve around him/her. The world need more civility, not less. Now, to state the obvious: As for unwanted calls, register your nu

      • As for unwanted calls, register your number with Do Not Call. Not perfect, but I get almost zero cold calls on both my home/land line and cell phone.

        Yeah, not perfect. I still get 6 or 7 calls a day. Almost none of them leave messages, but I can tell from the caller ID that they are a commercial outfit that is illegally calling me. I should not have to talk to them and tell them that I am on the DNC list. That is THEIR responsibility. I have been on the list since about the first or second week that the registry was available. They should be required to pay a fine for the FIRST offense, and part of that money should go to me for having to do their job

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Come quick, your mother is going to die!
        Sorry Dad. I am a doctor but not a medical doctor.

        Oddly, I say this but I was actually there the night my mother passed. I was the one to attempt CPR (I am not really sure why but who was I to argue? She was quite obviously dead.) and everything. My grief would have been the same, I think, had I not been there as quickly. There was fuck-all I could do about it and, given the amount of pain she was in, fuck-all to really grieve about that is not entirely selfish. Not t

        • I was actually there the night my mother passed. ...

          I'm very sorry for your loss. I know how you feel... I was holding my wife when she died at exactly 3pm, Friday, January 13, 2006. There was also nothing I or anyone could do. I heard her last breath and felt her last heartbeat and learned what the word "forever" really means. Something like that gives you perspective, especially about what is and isn't really important.

          Sue died of a brain tumor, just seven weeks after diagnosis. We were together for only 20 years and I'm thankful for that time and, es

    • Another supreme irritation is when I email a person, but they call me back

      I agree with a lot of what you said. But this one can actually make sense, provided the person has a valid reason to call you instead of e-mailing. If you asked a question that can be answered in a sentence or two, then the response should absolutely be an e-mail. But if you asked a question that requires clarification, or has a complicated answer and the responder doesn't know how much background information you already have, then some form of real-time communication makes a lot more sense.

    • Another supreme irritation is when I email a person, but they call me back. maintain parity and answer the email.

      Consider this sequence of steps:
      1. Receive and read e-mail.
      2. Disconnect from the Internet while maintaining connection to telephone network.
      3. Think of reply to e-mail.

      The following options are available:
      A. Make a phone call.
      B. Wait hours until you are again connected to the Internet through a device with a keyboard with which to compose an e-mail.
      C. A third option (please describe in detail)

      What criteria would one use to choose between these two? If neither, what is your third option?

      • C. Compose your response then send it when you're back online.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          Compose on what? Paper and pencil? Besides, it shares the drawback with B that the recipient will not receive it for hours.

          • You never said you didn't my have access to a computer or mobile phone on which to compose an email, you just said you were off the network.

    • So long as you can compel your correspondents to use the method you prefer, all is well.

      When you have to accommodate them, as you will some day, you will learn it you can express your outrage, or will have to suppress it.

      At work I try to accommodate the Millennials that cling to their chat/IM tool, knowing they were actually expecting me to accept their inadequate response to a question they don't care to figure out the correct, proper answer to, despite their inexperience with the systems involved. I know

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

      my voicemail is a tire fire

      and the ones that leave a long drawn out message volumous as "War and Peace" of 5 words/minute, and then leave callback number at warp speed.

  • by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @09:54AM (#50308615)

    Do people have troubles making phone calls nowadays? Is the US telephone network so fragile?

    I can't remember having had any trouble making a phone call and have never had a connection dropped, so I'm wondering what this article is about.

    • The US has wide stretches that have no service, or service only on certain carriers.
    • Had an international call to scotland drop a few times last week (landline my side, some sort of microsoft PBX/phone thing on the other). Rarely see this sort of problem in the US aside from stuff like cell phones in elevators or other bad coverage. Don't know where along the way the issue was, but it was frustrating.

    • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @10:17AM (#50308797)

      I can't remember having had any trouble making a phone call and have never had a connection dropped, so I'm wondering what this article is about.

      It's "about" a weak premise to try generate some buzz for a messaging platform no one has ever heard of or cares about.

      • I can't remember having had any trouble making a phone call and have never had a connection dropped, so I'm wondering what this article is about.

        It's "about" a weak premise to try generate some buzz for a messaging platform no one has ever heard of or cares about.

        This. I am working with a company that for some reason uses Slack instead of an existing, more robust communication system, like Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. It's annoying because it is one more thing I have to keep track of on my desktop and one more thing I have to check for messages, in addition to the traditional messaging platforms.

    • In my experience, proper POTS networks are vastly superior to most VoIP solutions I've used. Just today I spent an hour in a conference call (GotoMeeting) where the crappy VoIP insisted on routing my own voice back to my headset with a 1-second delay, so I had to take off the damn headset to be able to talk.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @11:39AM (#50309521) Homepage

      No 99% of all phones out there have utter shit for audio quality.
      Cellphone networks and cellphones have steadily went from decent to complete crap audio call quality.

      Sadly only apple get's it. Facetime audio calls are fantastic. Skype is as crappy as a cellphone call.

      • Amen to the call quality. I was there when it "happened". My first technical job in my early 20s was installing car phones in the late 1980s. I worked my way up to service department manager. In the early 1990s I was given by the carrier a batch of these new-fangled digital cellular phones to give for free (worth thousands each) to our best customers as part of their nationwide beta test. My customers vehemently hated them - one wanted it removed immediately. They said things like "The voice sounds me
        • Agree with you on call quality.

          A special peeve of mine is cellular callers on the radio, whether listener callers, or arranged guests on talk shows or NPR stories.

          Especially the latter two. Where the hell are the audio engineers with an equalizer to filter out the everpresent ringing, distortion and adjust the levels so I don't have to crank up the volume to understand the caller, cringe at the hyper-resonant frequencies, and then slap at the volume knob when an in-studio person speaks?

          Especially when you'

    • I'm baffled too. Phone calls (the voice kind) are extremely reliable. I've also never had a connection dropped. Maybe they are talking about foreign calls where you have to switch between several disparate systems, cross a couple third world countries who are at war, and ending up at a mobile phone powered by hand crank?

    • Do people have troubles making phone calls nowadays? Is the US telephone network so fragile?

      I can't remember having had any trouble making a phone call and have never had a connection dropped, so I'm wondering what this article is about.

      Mobile phone calls are more reliable than they used to be, but they still are absolute crap compared to landlines, in call quality, dropped call rates, price. About the only thing that mobile phones are better at is stuff that is not related to being a phone.

      • by tsotha ( 720379 )

        About the only thing that mobile phones are better at is stuff that is not related to being a phone.

        Being able to make phone calls when you're not by a land line is pretty handy.

    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      Do people have troubles making phone calls nowadays? Is the US telephone network so fragile?

      I forget what it is called but some carriers deliberately misroute calls when they will lose money on them resulting in the caller getting an unending number of fast busy signals and other errors. For instance I cannot reach any government numbers located in California from Missouri.

      In addition, sound quality has gotten worse. In many cases it is so bad that I do not bother to continue the call. Part of this is do

  • Ever since I learned about Vannevar Bush's "As We May Think" published in The Atlantic and available online on their site, I have felt that The Atlantic has been doing a good job.
    https://www.bing.com/search?q=... [bing.com]
    http://www.theatlantic.com/mag... [theatlantic.com]
  • So many more reasons (Score:4, Informative)

    by Fire_Wraith ( 1460385 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @10:12AM (#50308743)
    When it comes to extortionate practices, horrible customer service, bait-and-switch special plans, secret data caps, unlimited but not really unlimited data, throttling, and any number of other things I've seen, I have oh so many more reasons to hate the cellular phone company than just this.
  • I don't like phone calls, not because they demand your immediate attention, but that it's hard to go back over what's been said and gives you no mechanism to figure out exactly what you want to say before you say it.
    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      it's hard to go back over what's been said and gives you no mechanism to figure out exactly what you want to say before you say it.

      If you are using a phone because of a lack of Internet access, you can make notes with paper and pencil before dialing.

      • You are usually having a dialogue with someone over the phone, so you might not be able to plan ahead after the initial statement,
    • by tsotha ( 720379 )
      That's how I feel. Email chains store all sorts of information you may not think you need but end up being critical at some later date. And you don't have to rely on the memory of both parties when there's a misunderstanding.
  • This is a slashvertisement for Slack.

    Not appreciated.

    • No it's not. When I read the article (from the Atlantic site) I didn't even pick up on Slack. At the worst, it's a small interstitial.

      Calm down. Call somebody on the phone and talk over your issues.

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        No it's not. When I read the article (from the Atlantic site) I didn't even pick up on Slack. At the worst, it's a small interstitial.

        Calm down. Call somebody on the phone and talk over your issues.

        In other words... here's 50 cents, call someone who cares.

        Cost of local phone call from public telephone box may vary depending on country.

  • by Higaran ( 835598 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @10:35AM (#50308939)
    We have these devices in our pockets that connect us with the rest of the world instantaneously, the vast majority of people expect because they pay some kind of amount ever month that these things are supposed to work flawlessly every single time. This kind of thing was mind boggling a generation ago, even up until a few years ago if you wanted to be sure something got done, you had to talk to someone on the other end of the phone line, a delivery will be made, a bank account opened, etc. I get that younger generation grew up with pretty much instant gratification for everything, but that doesn't make it right. The technology has outpaced our ability to get used to it we basically went from sending smoke signals, to being connected to all the collective knowledge of humanity overnight, there is no wonder that people are complaining about stuff. Technology is not perfect, it will not work 100% of the time, there is not a machine built since the beginning of time that will, get over it. Very few people do not even realize what it takes to get they call to connect when it actually does work, that kind of thing was called magic a few years ago.
    • by NJRoadfan ( 1254248 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @11:53AM (#50309623)
      That is because most of those people grew up with a landline phone backed by a network that prided itself in its "five 9s" reliability.
      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        That is because most of those people grew up with a landline phone backed by a network that prided itself in its "five 9s" reliability.

        Some of us grew up in countries that had a single provider that prided itself on providing five 9's in their bills and nine 5's of reliability.

        Telecom Australia... This is Australia caaaaaalling ($5.99 per minute, calling not actually guaranteed).

    • Exactly my thoughts reading the article.

      And after reading the comments here, I believe what the young folk need is a direct hit from a nice big solar flare to take out the networks for a few days so they can appreciate what the real world is like.

      Hell, not just cell phones, but tablets and laptops too. My 11-yo son spends 90% of his waking hours with his nose glued to a screen, and sulks the other 10% when it isn't. His only interest in earning an allowance (from doing chores and assisting me or my wife w

  • What an over-complicated load of bollocks.

    Phone communication is instant and interactive. Failures are highlighted more by their very nature, where a text (or whatever) might have 'failed to send' a dozen times invisibly before it actually gets sent.

    That, and people are stupid, impatient chimps.

  • Something in the way they work causes my wife's voice to cut out randomly when talking to me on the phone especially if there's background noise. I don't seem to have that problem with other people just her, so maybe she has a unique voice frequency that it rejects as noise. (*insert joke here*) We've tried different brands of phone and the problem persists.
    • I have a coworker in an adjacent office whose voice my *brain* rejects as noise.

      I think she learned to speak from watching reruns of The Nanny.

      (Joke Inserted)

  • by Radical Moderate ( 563286 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @11:41AM (#50309543)
    Look, I love my iMobilePersonalComputingDevice, it does an unbelievable number of things pretty darn well. But as a phone, it sucks. The sound is terrible, the form factor is less than ideal for a phone conversation, the connection can be spotty. For a 5-minute quick check in it's fine, but I had a friend call me yesterday for what turned out to be a 2-hour heart-to-heart about the meaning of life, and it was excruciating.

    Yes, texts and other media are often superior to voice. But part of the reason millenials don't like to call is that the phones are terrible. Given the design constraints inherent in mobile devices, that's probably not going to change.
    • by whh3 ( 450031 )

      Thank you for posting this. I completely agree with your main point: these devices are great, but they are NOT phones.

      I grew up split between the gen-x and millenials and I have had cell phones on AMPS, PCS, GSM, CDMA, ... The list goes on. Even though I was able to look at WAP sites as early as 1999, the ability of these devices to get on the "Internet" has improved significantly over the last ten years.

      And yet their ability to act as a phone has roughly stayed the same over the same time period.

      Even thoug

      • And yet their ability to act as a phone has roughly stayed the same over the same time period.

        IN fact, it has deteriorated. Until I got a smartphone, I didn't realize that a phone could and would reboot, with no warning or reason. A phone should NEVER reboot. That is not acceptable behavior. This is a huge regression in phone behavior. My old dumb phone never rebooted. My landline STILL doesn't reboot. So my smartphone, if it is a step forward should not reboot either. The fact that we are willing to compromise on the basic function of a phone just so we can play crappy games with poor quality vide

        • by chihowa ( 366380 )

          It's deteriorated in more ways than just that. For all of the downsides of AMPS (and there were plenty), poor voice quality wasn't really one of them. It was horridly inefficient with spectrum, but enough bandwidth was available for voice communications and poor signal resulted in static on the channel (which we are pretty good at hearing through) instead of the common modern scenario of voice completely dropping out and stuttering every few seconds.

    • Congratulations, you just summarized TFA.

      The only thing the article left out is that oftentimes, using a bluetooth headset to ergonomicize the feature makes even a decent connection suck.

      My Plantronics only performs acceptably when the battery is more than 75% charged, and it's priced mid-range.

      • "Congratulations, you just summarized TFA."
        On slashdot, that's considered a public service, and you're welcome. Besides summarizing it, I validated it citing my vast and fascinating personal experience. Yay me.

        I do like "ergonomicize".
  • by Sir_Eptishous ( 873977 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @11:53AM (#50309625) Homepage
    1. Who encounters problems with voice calls?
    There are parts of the Earths surface that have mountainous terrain. This mountainous terrain, which is more and more being used by mankind for habitation purposes, has a tendency to have less robust cell coverage. To those who live near or in mountainous terrain, cell coverage can be spotty and problematic.

    2. Why make voice calls at all?
    Voice calls are better at reflecting the true intention of the communicating parties. Texts and emails can leave out the true intentions of the message. Voice calls can make discussions much more precise between communicating parties where nuance may be critical.

    3. Why the concern about the quality of voice calls via cell?
    Ahh, now we come to it. Once upon a time there was a telephony network in the US that was mostly reliable and had high quality. Regardless of your phone, you could expect a high degree of audio communication, via talking(a communication technique pioneered several millennia ago). Communication via "talking" via cell now is akin to cb or walkie talkie in regard to quality.
  • Browsing the web, watching videos, and playing games are the most common uses for smartphones followed by non-voice based communication. That dropped call might be annoying, but it appears to be only a problem for a small number of users. So why bother?

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