June 27, 2009

Connectivity - Part I

My first phone was bought back in late 2003. It was a Sony Ericsson T610. I remember this clearly, because I was among the last of my friends to purchase a phone. By the time we joined the productive workforce, mobile phones were no longer a luxury. Handset prices had been relentlessly pushed down by the glut of companies in the market, which was almost matched by the competition among the service providers. Before long, pretty much everyone I knew had a phone. And it became not only a connectivity imperative among friends, but became a requirement to keep in touch with team-mates and other business colleagues.

Everybody seemed to be doing it - so I held off - for seemed like eternity at the time, but was only about 9 months. Eventually I caved in. And when I went for a phone, I wanted to take one that had as many features as possible.

The T610 was pretty good for the time - It came with a tiny browser that you could use with WAP to trudge along the information superhighways. It ran JAVA applets - which was absolutely mind-blowing for me (and eventually led to the simple understanding that the phone was nothing more than a different avatar of the computer). And it came with a tiny camera that took 320 by 240 grainy excuses for pictures.

But I was ecstatic. I used every excuse to go online and check movie timings, even if no one else seemed remotely interested in going to a movie. I photographed and cataloged various events of my daily life now that I had a camera always at hand. I used an open source program to connect the phone to my laptop and use it as a mobile router (on WAP). I bought a terminator dongle online to flash the phone to the latest firmware (something that was pretty difficult at the time, requiring special hardware - the aforementioned termninator dongle). I backed up the files, restored them, backed them up again. I built by own ringtone (from the soundtrack of the game Blood)

Looking back, the phone did not do much, but it seemed at the time there was no limits to its capabilities. As it trudged along on WAP, I never stopped being amazed that the phone talked the same networking language as the old world mainframe behemoths - TCP/IP. When it took those tiny, barely recognizable pictures using the built-in camera, it always surprised me that they managed to squeeze a camera in there. I never saw it as the little engine that could, but I was pleasantly surprised that there was an engine in there to begin with.

I ended up using the phone for about 5 years. In the time I traveled across the globe; changed phone numbers at least 5 times; switched SIM cards every few months and generally pushed it beyond its limits. Eventually it's joystick started to give way, a few buttons began developing tantrums and no amount of dis-assembly to clean it helped. It was time for a change.

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