Monday, 23 November 2009

Me Versus The Blackberry Storm 2

I am one of those fortunate people who knows instantly what to do when faced with a computer or technology based problem. I call my friend PJ and beg him to sort it out. However, occasionally I am the person called upon to impart wisdom on matters technological. I swear that I have never pretended knowledge of anything more complex, computer-wise, than an abacus but sometimes people mistake my intense concentration when I am writing for computer literacy. My mother, who has one son with a doctorate in computer science who runs a highly successful software company, still prefers to ask me to solve her internet connection problems. My advice usually goes as follows: “Turn everything off, mum. Wait five minutes and then turn everything back on again.”

Kolapo, one of my home-care providers, wanted to buy a new phone that has internet facilities so he can send and receive emails to and from his fiancée in Nigeria. Now Kolapo has never owned a computer and certainly doesn't have a home broad band connection. He wanted a phone that would double as a PC and open up to him the World Wide Web. Someone, somewhere, had recommended he purchase the new Blackberry Storm 2 on contract from Vodafone. Now I won't go into the whole sorry saga of how difficult it was for him to get such a hi-tech phone delivered to his shared home accommodation. I won't mention the dubious signature that claimed to have accepted delivery of the said hi-tech phone and how the same phone turned up at a local post-office once Kolapo, aided by Polly, vigorously denied receiving it. Suffice to say, Kolapo eventually came in to possession of a Blackberry Storm 2 smartphone, tied to a 24 month contract. And that's where my troubles began.

Kolapo is a great guy and is a kind and considerate carer. He works 7 days a week and is there to get me up in the morning and returns to help me get back into bed last thing at night. Often he pops in during the day to help me go to the loo or to make me a coffee. He speaks multiple languages fluently but has a fairly strong African accent which can make phoning helplines a tedious or confusing experience. To get around this he seeks my advice of on all things technological.

The Blackberry Storm 2 is an amazing bit of kit but it is anything but simple to operate. It is about as intuitive as the off-side rule. I have friends with the Apple iPhone and compared to the Blackberry Storm 2 the iPhone is but a child's toy. For someone like Kolapo who has never owned a computer and who only has the vaguest understanding of the internet the phone is virtually unfathomable. To add to the problem the Blackberry is touch screen and Kolapo is a former basketball player who has enormous hands. Every time he needs to type in a multi-syllabic Nigerian dialect password it takes several attempts. He also insists on reading the terms and conditions of every site he enters. It has been a very long week.

Kolapo has also been surprised to discover that just because you have access to the www does not mean everything on it is free. He was disappointed to find his phone did not come complete with 1.6 million songs. I took pity on him and downloaded some music from my own library. He is still looking for songs by someone called R Kelly but has had to make do with Johnny Cash.

The Blackberry Storm 2 might be the perfect accessory for a businessman like my friend Darren, the fridge magnate (who, incidentally recently bought an iPhone), but for a computer novice it is a bit over the top. Especially if your only source of advice is me. I mean, can you explain the difference between the world wide web and the internet? It took me a while to understand what he meant when he wanted to know what wee-fee was for. So far I'm not sure he's made any actual phone calls on it. He uses his old hand set for those.

I wish I'd caught him before he decided on the Blackberry. I would have directed him towards the iPhone. At least he could have played Doom on it. Oh well, only 23 and a half months to go.

Until next time.