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Jewish World Review Nov. 13, 2003 / 18 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Lenore Skenazy

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Consumer Reports

Phone my oven? Spare me | I love my cell phone. It does everything I could ever want it to do. That is, it makes phone calls.

It also does everything I don't want it to do. It has a bunch of games, a bunch of different ring tones - how incredibly vital - a calendar, a timer and so many options under "systems," you'd think it was an atomic sub.

My phone also is able to send and receive text messages - provided that sending and receiving text messages is something you have any idea how to do. If so, there's a job waiting for you at NASA.

Phonie dearest also has something called "keyguard," a button I must have somehow tapped last week, whereupon the whole thing shut down faster than a nuclear reactor on red alert, repulsing my every attempt to make a call until I brought (or perhaps hurled) the damn thing to my techie husband, who, invoking the gods of Nokia, got it to produce nuclear power, er, make phone calls again.

What a great convenience all this new technology is!

And notice how I have refrained from any sneering reference to the fact that many phones can now take pictures and browse the Web. As if the world needs a camera/Web/telephone any more than it needs an aquarium/blender/Wonderbra.

No, I am saving my sneering chits for the newest technology coming down the pike. Technology that promises to make our phones do even more stuff that most of us will never figure out, want to use or know how to turn off.

For instance, a patent has been granted for a phone that will double as a remote. If your phone rings while you're watching TV, it will either automatically lower the volume on your set or send your caller directly to voice mail, knowing that you would rather sink into the slough of couch potato dissolution than greet a live human being who is probably your mother.

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Another great leap forward promises to be the phone that will interface with all your other household appliances, including your oven. If you forget to take your cake out on time, it will alert you.

At least, if you have programmed it correctly, it will. If not, it will alert you in the middle of the night as the firefighters are breaking down your door. Or perhaps it will turn off your oven when the phone rings and you will celebrate your birthday with candles stuck in cake batter. Or maybe it will dial Russia when the oven reaches 375 degrees. Or maybe it will pour the contents of your aquarium into your blender, bake the results and phone your bra when it's done.

Venturing into an electronics store the other day, I asked the clerk which phone he would recommend.

He wouldn't. "I wanted to get a new one, too," said he. "But I didn't want all the new things it does. I just wanted a basic phone. So I kept the one I had."

Bad salesman, good idea. And if they could bring back the old ringing sound, I'd really like that.

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JWR contributor Lenore Skenazy is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

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