How to Improve Your Cell Phone Manual

170-cell-phone2A 91 year old Moncton New Brunswick man by the name of George Williams owns two computers, an iPhone, and a new BlackBerry Playbook. “It’s always been a challenge to me,” he says “to sit down with the owner’s manuals to figure them out.”

The Owners Manuals – some people read them, and some people don’t. Even the best manuals can be a challenge to decipher. Several years ago I bought a simple Unsmart Phone. It came with a 37 page manual of tiny print that was best read with a magnifying glass. The first 11 pages were filled with preliminaries, including the advice “do not use the phone when blasting is in progress”. It also suggested that the phone should be used in “normal position” and “not to touch the antenna unnecessarily.” There were health cautions too. The handy little Scroll Key could be hazardous because it “may contain nickel.” And if it does, it “should not come into prolonged contact with the skin.”

I wasn’t aware of how dangerous these little devices could be, and that was before I had even turned it on and exposed myself to the so called effects of radiation! Turn it on – yes, that was next. I suppose I should have known that the button with the red phone on it was the on/off key. But red symbols usually indicate caution or danger, so I went back to the manual for confirmation. I finally found it on Page 11. The Red Phone button was the “End key and power key.” The Green button, which I had optimistically thought was the on key, was the “Send key.” Okay, good to go!

On Page 13 I learned how to Make a Call. That took a whole paragraph, and included directions about how to enter numbers, how to initiate the call, and how to end the call. I pretty much knew that already, but it was nice of the manual to include that information.

Text Messaging, which I didn’t have a clue how to do, was considerably briefer: “Select Menu – Messaging – Create Message – Text Message.” Then there were brief instructions on how to turn on Predictive Text, how to add a space and how to add a number. That was it for instructions. I tried to text The Car Guy (who was on a business trip in Aberdeen). It took me several hours to figure out how to do it. His phone didn’t get a text, just a message that I had called. By then it was late at night his time, and he got worried that I had called him, so he phoned me…  I crossed Texting off the list of things I would use this phone for.

The User Guide got shoved into the filing cabinet and I got out a pen and a piece of paper and wrote my own little manual. It is about 1.5 by 3 inches, and has 6 handwritten pages. It tells me everything I will ever need to know about my phone should I need a refresher course. I keep it in my purse, right next to my address book and a small pad of paper and a pen. I jokingly refer to this little cache of items as my PDA!

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6 comments

  1. Hi,
    I always read the manual of anything new I buy, but I totally agree that sometimes this is easier said than done. I love your idea of the note that you keep with you, that is just so much easier I must remember that one.

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  2. Well said! I do basically the same thing: look thru massively unhelpful manuals trying to find a few useful nuggets. Google specific problems and hope somebody can explain how they solved them in plain English! And yes, jot down all the little tidbits (usually on the inside cover of the manual) so I’ll have them if I need them.

    It’s a battle– we shouldn’t hafta work that hard after we’ve shelled out hefty sums to buy the darn gadgets!! : )

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    • Hi Mark. You have outlined the problem very well! And you are right – it just shouldn’t be that hard to find useful information. Writing manuals must not be a high priority for many manufacturers.

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  3. I don’t know who writes those manuals anyway, but some of them are so hard to figure out. My advice is to ask a child or a grandchild (or borrow one) because they don’t seem to have any trouble with technology!

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    • You are absolutely right, Comingeast. My husband was commenting just the other day how great it is to have grandchildren to decipher things for us!

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