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Blackberry Blues

I have a loathe/hate relationship with my work cellphone.  It is a Nextel Blackberry 7100i, and it is probably the most ridiculous electronic gizzy I’ve ever had in my hands.  It’s packed with extraneous options, the majority of which I doubt anybody ever uses.  The voicemail is ridiculously complicated to get to.  The “keyboard” sucks (and I’ll get into that in greater detail in just a minute).  The battery-life lasts only longer than a lingering fart.  The instruction manual assumes the user has evolved with the cellphone/PDA/smartphone market, and is maddeningly vague about such incidental information as “how to turn the blighted thing on” or “where is the ‘escape button’.”

The keyboard, the main thing I really wanted to grouse about today, is the deepest seat of my Blackberry loathing.  It is a “modified QWERTY” keyboard, and it sucks most mightily. 

I’m kind of txt-chlngd anyhow, but I got used to it enough to enter people’s names in my personal cellphone’s address book.  The “letters” were the same configuration you get on a normal phone.  2-ABC, 3-DEF, 4-GHI, and so on.  The 0 key was the space-bar. If I wanted to dial 1-800-BITEME, it would be 1-800-248363.  Well, on this Blackberry, there are a flank of extra keys on either side of the normal number-pad, these keys comprising extra letters and symbols.  The keypad is 5 keys across and 4 down, and the topmost left-hand key is !QW, then 1ER, 2TY, 3UI, and .OP  You use a special extra key on the bottom-left to get the ! . ? and other special characters, and also to capitalize…I think.  I have yet to muster up the patience to find out.  This fake-QWERTY keyboard presupposes a familiarity with hunt-and-peck, a dirty habit I forcefully broke and forgot after a long and hard-won battle to learn to type properly back in highschool.  When I’m typing on a real keyboard I don’t look at the keys; when I do, it completely messes me up.  When I look at the fake-QWERTY pad on this Blackberry, I’m constantly thinking, “dammit it, where’s the fuckin’ “b” when you need it?”  On a regular phone-type keypad, the letters are sensibly arranged in alphabetical order, where anyone can find them.  On the Blackberry, the pad is way too small to touch-type on, besides which you have to hit the key twice to get the second letter on it.  It makes no earthly sense to have the quasi-QWERTY layout, when you can’t actually use the keypad like a real keyboard.  It just makes it harder and more awkward to find the letters.  I didn’t fail typing in 1992, then pass it in 1993 to revert to hunt-n-pecking in 2007, by golly!

I think I’d have a lot better attitude toward this Blackberry if it had a normal keypad and if I could eliminate or hide some of the most extraneous icons and create shortcuts to the features I actually used.  The way it is now, it is too cluttered, requires too many steps and button-twiddling, and the keypad is so inconvenient as to seem like an intentional, malicious mis-design.

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