Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Things we don't do with a telephone or television anymore

With the advance of technology, there are some things we no longer do with our telephones or televisions, although we still use the words. For example:

"Pick up the phone" - It used to be that you answered a telephone call by picking up the handset while the phone was ringing. Or you initiated a phone call by lifting the phone off its hook or out of the cradle. Now you have to press a button to answer the phone or dial a number.

"Hang up the phone" - Most phones today, even cellphones, have a "hang up" button. But you no longer terminate the call and disconnect the line by hanging the handset on the hook on the wall.

"Dial a number" - Numeric touchpads have been de rigueur for over 40 years. I can't recall the last time I saw a dial telephone that still worked. Children and many young adults today don't even know how to use a dial phone.

"The phone is ringing" - Telephones today beep, chirp, warble, and blink. They can also sing you your favorite song or make burping or screaming noises to alert you to a call. But if you want a true ringing telephone, you'll have to download an, um, "ringtone" that sounds like a ringing telephone.

"Turn the TV on/off/up/down" - It used to be that every television had a rotary knob, labeled "ON/VOL" or "OFF/VOL". This knob was a combination on/off switch and volume control, and you had to turn the knob to perform any of the named actions. Other electronic gadgets also had rotary on/off switches, and so "turn me on" became a part of the vernacular. Today, rotary switches are a retro fashion, and they often don't have the same mechanical contacts behind them as the old ones.

"Tune in a channel" - The channel selector used to be a rotary dial with stops at channels 2 through 13. Don't ask about the 1. You wouldn't understand. But even if you turned the dial to, say, 5, channel 5 wouldn't come in clearly until you turned the fine-tuning dial to "tune in" the station. "Automatic fine tuning" was a fancy feature on new TVs in the 1970s, but it still didn't work perfectly. Today, you punch a channel number on the remote, and the TV's electronics take care of the fine-tuning for you. In fact, with digital TV, fine-tuning is a thing of the past.

What I said about TVs also applies to radios.

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