FZOLT! POP! If you ever watched the series Stargate Atlantis you know that sparks and fire are just one of those things that happen in science fiction labs. Or space ships. Or wherever there is electronic equipment and the place gets jostled a bit. No big deal; you can still concentrate on the important things, like character interaction.

ADDENDUM: The screwdriver referred to was found by Dr. Sharma here.

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Bobservations

Lines of Communication

 

Marissa’s skills at effortlessly manipulating secure transmissions may be a fairly common trope for her type of character, but they do make me wish I had even even a smattering of them in real life. For instance, my wife and I tried to cut the cord from AT&T recently, but it didn’t quite work out.

Like many (most) people, we’ve essentially switched to using our smartphones for everything. And I mean everything. I’ve personally forgotten what it was like to not have a flashlight, a map, and a surprisingly good camera in my pocket at all times, plus information about almost anything I wish to know. In a pinch, one can even use it to make phone calls.

By contrast, our “home phone” (landline) had fallen into disuse. We used to have phones plugged in all over the house, but one by one they had ceased functioning over the years, been unplugged, and not replaced. Our last phone was upstairs, and no one ever called on it except telemarketers. I’d long since turned off the ringer. The only reason we were keeping it was my wife wanted the landline in case there was some sort of catastrophe that knocked out cell service. She also occasionally used it to make outgoing calls. The last time I bothered to check messages we had 177 robocall partials stretching back into July. Took me over an hour to clear them off.

However, our latest phone bill contained the nasty surprise that AT&T now charged $2.50 each for 411 calls. Now, I personally never use 411, but my wife is a compulsive user of the service. She’d rather dial Information than look up a number in her contacts or find it online, and of course for zillions of years it had been a free service. Now that they were charging for it – and stiffly – it was a wallop on the bill. So that was enough. We called to cancel the phone altogether.

Naturally we ran into Customer Retention. AT&T was screamingly desperate to keep us, as we are apparently the last people in our area to even have a landline. I got the impression that if we had cancelled our service, we would have seen the lights in the nearby AT&T building quietly turning off one by one, and the few remaining employees clearing out their desks and shuffling into the parking lot while exchanging tearful goodbyes.

But they got us. As it turns out, our house alarm system still uses the landline to contact the monitoring station. So we had to keep it. But we shut it down to the minimum; just local calls, no messages, no nuthin’. From now on we can only be reached via our Pocket Internet Devices. Maybe that will at least keep the telemarketers at bay.

Those poops.

— Bob out