Friday, June 22, 2018
Archive >  December 2013 Issue >  Tech-Op-Ed > 

Made in U.S.A.
Walter Salm, Editor

As the voice of today's technology, I supposedly should be up to speed on everything, but I have mightily resisted giving up on my old Blackberry that I had grown to despise, mainly because it was old and well worn — like me. But it was developing some serious old-age problems; it didn't always ring on incoming calls, so many of them were missed until I checked my voice mail, usually hours later, sometimes days later. And the battery was going, as batteries do when they are old and much-used. So I finally bit the bullet and succumbed to Verizon's entreaties to avail myself of an upgrade.

But this wasn't just any upgrade. I determined that the only smart phone I would buy would be the one and only that's made in USA, the Motorola Moto-X. As a frequent voice in favor of onshoring, I really felt that I had no choice in the matter. And I certainly liked the idea of having the only Made-in-USA smart phone. The deal was finally solidified when I saw that CostCo was selling Moto-X for $100 instead of the $200 being charged by Verizon.

The first thing the CostCo salesperson did was to save all of my Blackberry's contact info to the to the cloud, since the two phones were not compatible. This gave me a moment's twinge since I have so often railed against the cloud and its incredibly wasteful use of our precious energy resources. But that moment passed as the salesperson downloaded my data to the Moto-X. All of this was taking some time, so I gave him my wife's cell phone number, and joined her back in our car in the parking lot, and we both settled down to read our books-in-progress. It was only a few minutes later that my wife's cell phone rang — she uses a POT (plain old telephone) and doesn't want anything more complicated — and I was summoned back into the store. There's really just one problem with buying a phone at CostCo; they're too busy to give you much instruction, and I was really out at sea with this brand-new-to-me Droid interface.

A few days later, I was in a meeting when the cell phone rang — we had been told earlier to turn off our cell phones — and I piped up with, "I'm sorry, the phone is brand new and I haven't yet learned to turn it off." This brought a chuckle around the room since all of us knew the helpless feeling of getting new electronics and not having some kids at home to show us how they work. My son-in-law commiserated with me, but said he had no such problem since he had two teenagers at home.

I called Verizon for some help and was told to go online and download the instruction manual PDF file from their web site. I tried, and couldn't find such an instruction manual file, so I made an appointment to go to a Verizon store for some instruction. It took two instruction sessions, and I learned how to: turn off the phone (there are no red buttons on it), how to change my ring tone, how to set up new apps (I'm still hazy on that one). I also ended up buying a new pouch/belt-clip since the one that CostCo gave me in its "free" accessory kit kept sliding off my belt.

My personal Verizon instructor also helped me to straighten out some billing problems and to streamline my phone account, since I am no longer on the road and have come to rely more on my landline than the cell, since the signal strength stinks where I now live. But the smart phone is still my lifeline when I'm away from my home office, and it's impelling me to try new things, like videophone calls, and I may even be persuaded to learn to text, something I've been avoiding like the plague. The bottom line is my new phone was made in USA, and I think that means more to me than anything else.  

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