Dumbdevices working just fine

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By Robert Villanueva

Not long ago I was shopping with my girlfriend, Rebecca Ricks, and I saw a sign advertising something for use with smartphones.

“I guess we won’t be using that,” I told Rebecca. “We’ve got dumbphones.”

It’s true. Comparatively, anyway.

My cellphone is a prepaid flip phone that, although it has Internet capability, isn’t really designed to access it without eliciting a lot of cringing at the display. It can’t sync with other devices simply by touching them and in fact, often causes other electronic devices to make strange noises when it’s near them.

It doesn’t have a keyboard-style keypad and can’t download most apps. It doesn’t even shoot video.

In short, my cellphone is good at being a phone. And that’s why I bought it.

Sure it has a built-in camera and voice recorder. It has a calendar and alarm clock, too. I’ve used all those features at one time or another, but they had little influence in my purchase of the phone.

It’s not that I have anything against technology. I’m still waiting for the automatic doughnut maker with built-in consumer wake-up detection that makes fresh cream-filled pastries as soon as it senses I’ve grumbled into consciousness each morning.

And once we get that robot domestic engineer that cooks, cleans and runs errands, I’ll be right there picking one out. I’m sure I’ll have to take out a loan or sign a contract in blood or something, but I think it probably will be worth it.

Truth is, I think technology is cool. Some of it is even useful.

Some of it, however, is there just to enhance our entertainment or amuse us.

More often than not, I don’t want or need all the bells and whistles.

TVs, for instance, are bigger, thinner and imbued with things such as automatic volume stabilization, detecting and minimizing a change in sound level when some commercials air.

The TVs in my house — with the exception of the one in the living room — are the fat, bulky ones that sometimes don’t detect they actually are on.

There are even smart houses that respond to voice command to regulate heat, lighting and other features. Isn’t that a scaled-down version of the computer on “2001: A Space Odyssey?”

I’ll pass.

For a short time I did have a programmable coffeemaker that would turn on at a pre-designated time and had an automatic shut-off to prevent overheating and safety issues. I got it for my upstairs den shortly after Rebecca bought me my other coffeemaker, which did not have such features. We kept that one downstairs in the kitchen, and compared to the other one, the kitchen one was the dumb one.

Guess which one I’m still using?

You got it: the dumb one.

The one with the extras lasted less than a year. I’ve had the other one for about three years now, and it is in the den now.

Go figure.

That’s not an indictment on technology, but it’s not a good argument for shelling out the money for what might be perceived as a better model, either.

Bells and whistles are fine for some things, but for me, some things don’t need them.

I probably still will buy another coffee maker and it might be programmable.

But for now I’m completely content calling people on my dumbphone, sipping coffee made by my dumbcoffeemaker, while my dumbTV is blaring in my dumbhouse.

Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.