Another image from the museum trip yesterday...And off topic domestic stories.

©2014 Kirk Tuck, for www.visualsciencelab.blogspot.com
The Sony RX10. At the Blanton Museum.

I bought my kid a phone today. I thought it only fair. He's graduating from high school and while many of his friends, with parents in the high tech industries, outfitted their children with state of the art, smartphones many years ago poor Ben has been laboring along with a nasty little flip phone with service provided by TracFone. It's one of the companies that allows you to buy minutes in advance. Use up your minutes and you have to come back and buy more. I thought this solution would provide two advantages: First, it would teach the boy to conserve his minutes and prioritize his phone use.  Second, it would limit the damage a runaway binge of texting would inflict on my finances (as I was paying for the service). 

In the end the first phone we got was so odious to use that Ben texted only in dire emergencies. Those times when one had to find out, "where are we meeting for dinner?" Or my favorite, "Is there cross country practice this morning?" Thankfully he has never gotten into the habit of gratuitous and continuous texting and messaging. The tiny keys were a good deterrence. 

I thought we should acknowledge his maturity and scholarship with a new phone. One he wouldn't mind using. After all, when he leaves to go to school in the Fall we do want him to call us or text us on a regular basis. So I started to study various cellphone "plans." Which quickly led me to understand that the service I had contracted for years ago was......not state of the art. 

I hated texting at the time and still do, but now it seems that more and more clients default directly to the tiny keyboard to stay in touch. I did not originally have free texting on my plan and recently realized that I was paying twenty cents per text. All the time. Then I came to understand that my wife and I were sharing a data plan with 500 megabytes of data per month. Something like five big files transferred. Finally, I remembered that in my dogged determination to save money, no matter how much it cost me, I had set up the plan to share 500 minutes of talk time with my spouse...

Clearly not a good plan for the 21st century.

After conferring with the boy we decided on an iPhone 5s. And we landed on some sort of "family plan." Now we have unlimited texts and calls and we're sharing 10 gigabytes per month of data. Grudgingly moving into the 21st century. Who knows what might happen next. Is there any real reason to have cable television? Naw. I didn't think so. 


Craig Yuill said...

It's lucky you can get such a plan. Here in Canada we cannot, and we pay a small fortune for what we can get. That said, even though 500 MB may not seem like much, I found that when I used a phone with no WiFi capabilities, I rarely used up more than 200-300 MB of data per month, even when doing a lot of Web browsing.

The iPhone 5s is supposed to have quite a good camera and flash system. I hope Ben enjoys using it, and that you like your new data plan.

Markus said...

Kirk, at least now I am not alone in my restrictive approach to phones in my daughters hands. I am glad I have managed to keep those pesky gadgets away from our family meals, and yes, a prepaid plan is a viable way to prevent those nose-permanently-on-screen habits I watch all too often.

Michael Matthews said...

From the recent postings I've seen on Ming Thein's blog, the iPhone you've purchased as capable of genuinely fine photography. Not that I'd bear the cost of the data plans needed to use one.

The simple TracFone (old style Motorola flip phone) I use and the newer LG my wife uses both provide bulletproof, good quality voice communication for $8 a month each and zero cost to acquire. The Android smartphone she bought into several years ago, cost $70+ monthly and was almost unusable. Go figure.

Anonymous said...


Cable TV? Satellite TV? You gotta be kidding! No way am I paying the crazy rates for such cr*p that is on tv. OK- I'v got a pair of rabbit ears (with an inline amp) that pick up exactly 2 channels out here in the middle of nowhere. Gotta have internet so I bought a Roku box and pay $8.00 a month for streaming Netflix. Thats it, more than enough. Much more than enough!
Enjoy the new phones or should I say new camera with a phone/web attached.

Mark Bridgers said...

There are two reasons for cable TV: live sports and Game of Thrones.

Dave Jenkins said...

I would certainly like to know who Michael Matthews has his cell phone service with!

Gato said...

My sister and I, in our 60s, were forced into texting by her daughter. Once she got me started I prefer it to calls - unless I really need to have a conversation. Don't have to worry what I might interrupt, don't have to run to answer if I'm busy. Numbers, dates and addresses are saved in the phone. Less intrusive and for a lot of things works better, IMO.

As to cable, I cut that out years ago. Signed up for internet and Netflix and almost never miss it. I get 8 broadcast channels (5 in English) and and some nights have as many as 4 Law & Order reruns to choose from.

scott said...

I say no on the cable TV. What I have works better: an antennae, a Roku, and a relative's HBO Go login. Add the Roku PBS channel as well as HBO GO, plus Amazon and Netflix if you want, and you're done.

Merle said...

Our son, now in his 30s, at some point after college decided he needed a phone. He uses an iPod Touch to connect wherever there's free wifi. But he realized that, occasionally, he needed to connect with others where there wasn't. So, he got a phone and pays $40/year. Each quarter he has to pay $10 for another 100 minutes of phone/text, which he rarely uses up. Needless to say, he also has never asked us for money. Good kid.

Anonymous said...

I've been using the iPod Touch 4G as my primary walk around camera for about 4 years. The .7Mp photos are fine for the web, and the 720p video is OK for YouTube. BTW if you plug a pro mic into the iPod Touch you can record outstanding audio.

I'll replace my 2006 LG flip-phone when the iPhone 6 arrives. I'm sure it'll be good enough for some pro work.

I haven't had a TV set since the early 1990s. I do my TV/movie watching on Netflix. Thinking about signing-up for HBOGo.

The future that they talked about in the 1950s (except for the flying cars) is rapidly arriving 8-D