Monthly Archives: October 2004

Headsets and life savers

First of all, I don’t recommend using a headset while eating Life Savers candy. They make you salivate, which makes you spit and that can clog up your microphone…

I was driving to work this morning and saw a “jerk” driving along. How did I know he was a jerk? Because he was driving fast, then slow, then making sudden lane changes only to change back a minute later. My first thought was that he was drunk, but when I passed him as he exited the highway, I saw he was talking on a cellphone. In other words, he was driving like a lot of us do – not paying attention and causing dangerous situations for other drivers around him.

What’s more important? A phone call or your safety? Most people assume they can talk and drive at the same time because they haven’t had any accidents so far. This head in the sand approach ignores the reality that we are very seldom aware of how our driving affects others in general. I had a stint as a driving instructor in a past life (I like to call it my time teaching “Early Childhood Education”) and most students (and experienced drivers I had to road test) were clueless about their bad habits.

The reality is our attention is mostly occupied by our phone conversation and we have little attention left to focus on our driving. As long as you’re on the highway on cruise control in light traffic, this probably isn’t a problem. In heavy traffic, rush hour or in city traffic, talking on a phone is just asking for trouble.

The cost of an accident can be measured in financial and personal terms. Financial – your car repair costs and insurance rate increases and possibly the time you have to take off work to recover. Personal – injuries, both physical and psychological can take a long time to heal. Especially if you cause injury to someone else. Even worse, your unfocused driving could cause the death of a stranger or someone you love.

In short, get a freakin’ headset if you’re going to talk on the phone!!!!

There. Rant’s done for now…

Man, that was a CRAPPY way to start a Monday morning. Hope you’re all having a better day.

Phone system programming 101

I get the title of today’s post from Ryan, one of our techies, who used it when explaining something about my desktop phone.

I’ve been using a Panasonic phone on my desk since I started working here. I think it was called a “Digital Hybrid Phone” according to the Panasonic literature. Anyway, we went through a little upgrade here and I got a “Super Hybrid IP Phone” instead. Gotta love these names. They sound so “technical” yet are generally meaningless. I mean, if you leave out “Super”, the units are “Digital Hybrid” or “Hybrid IP” phones. What’s the difference?

As I learned today, the “Digital Hybrid” systems are the first generation of digital phones that allowed you to get enhanced digital functions while still being able to integrate analog devices like fax machines etc.

“Hybrid IP” phone systems allow the same integration of analog devices, but offer even more digital functionality and give you full Voice over IP ability. I’ll have to do another post about Voice over IP because I think it’s a great technology with a lot of untapped potential.

Anyway, getting back to the original topic of the post, I learned from my tech that phone systems store all the information about a phone centrally. So, this phone switch didn’t affect my voice mail or any of the other custom settings I had programmed (or at least TRIED to program) into the phone. (When it comes to phones, I’ve learned that just following the prompts is usually the best bet. Reading the owner’s manual helps too…)

I’ve gotta say though, this new phone’s not as “snazzy” as the last one I had. There were more buttons, lights etc. on the other one. But, it’s got all the functions I need (and then some) and it’s a clean looking phone – not too cluttered, which I suppose I ought to appreciate more.

Isn’t it strange that in our modern world, the more complicated something looks the better we think it is while things that are simple and functional are seen as being somehow lesser? Is it conditioning or are we hard-wired that way? I remember my first office phone. It had the standard key buttons and that was it. No hold. No transfer. No fancy lights. Just a keypad and handset. Just one step away from being rotary. But, it worked. Someone called, the phone rang, I picked it up and talked to them, then hung up. No muss. No fuss.

Nowadays, I think of the things I need to be able to do with my phone. It’s more than what I had to do when I started off in the business world. Voice messaging is essential. Headset compatability is almost a necessity. Being able to transfer calls or have a three-way conversation is handy too. The intercom saves me a bunch of walking and call-waiting has been a very convenient option.

I never used to think about how phone systems worked, but every day, I’m learning something new about what features there are with various phone systems and I’m always impressed.

Hybrid IP systems are Panasonic’s latest systems and they’ve replaced the Digital Hybrid product line. Just in case you were interested.

The boss, headaches and headsets

Interesting how a little writing has the power to change a life. Well, it hasn’t happened yet in this blog, but it’s got potential.

I was talking to one of my coworkers here and showed them the headset piece I wrote a couple of days ago. Next thing I know, she’s saying how much her neck hurts from spending so much time on the phone and yeah, a headset WOULD be a good idea. Will a headset change her life? Well, if she didn’t have a sore neck and/or a headache, her quality of life would change for the better. After that, I’d only be speculating…but maybe she’d be driving home and because she didn’t have any neck pain, she could check her blind spot before changing lanes to to see the Mini Cooper there, thus preventing an accident and possible injury or even DEATH.

See? Headsets could change a life!

Imagine if there was a wholesale awakening of the idea of wearing a phone headset at work. GN Netcom’s last newsletter said there are 70 million potential headset wearers in North America. 70 million. That’s a lot. Imagine the impact of that change. Headaches and stress would decline. Sales of painkillers would drop. Chiropractors and massage therapists would be cast out into the streets…

Just kidding about that last bit, but to me, this is a striking example of how we go through our daily lives just following the routine, not thinking whether things could be better, but just accepting things the way they are. Imagine the difference a little change can make.

Of course, that’s how the people at charities work. If everyone donated a little pocket change every day, charities would be able to make a big change in the world. What have you done to change your life today? Buying a headset would be nice : ), for those of you who are interested, sells telecommunications products, including headsets, at wholesale prices. (There. The boss is mollified again.)

Speaking of the boss, he called in today from his home office and we chatted for about 1/2 hour about some website updates he’d like done. Me on my headset and him with the phone stuck between his ear and his shoulder. Guess who had a bigger headache after we were done?

Me, of course… (just kidding). Seriously though, I didn’t have any neck pain when I was done. I can’t vouch for him though.

Headset wearers – are they geeks?

Despite the number of beautiful people wearing headsets in the promotional literature, what do you think of headset wearers? Are they geeks? Working in a telecommunications company, I would expect most every desk to be equipped with a headset. To my surprise, people here prefer to use their handsets. Even the sales reps who have headsets at their desks use their handsets most of the time. What gives?

I don’t use the phone that much, but when I do, I have a Plantronics CS10 wireless headset so I can get up and wander around if I need to while I’m on the phone with a supplier or something like that. I like headsets. I use one at my home office although it’s nowhere near as nice as the CS10.

Funny thing – just looking at the headset that came with the CS10 unit – there’s no model number on it. Have they heard of branding? Also, just got off the phone with Plantronics tech support – you can use any Plantronics H-model headset with the CS10 as long as you purchase a little adapter cable. Pretty cool.

While I like what I’m using, I think the 9210 wireless headset from GN Netcom is pretty cool as well. Just so you have a point of reference, here’s links to the different headsets I’ve mentioned.

(Those links oughta keep the boss happy…)

Anyway, headset wearers. Geeks or enlightened telephone users? I’m on the enlightened bandwagon (mainly because I’m wearing one right now) but I’m curious to know what other people think. I don’t see many people with their headsets on in business settings (or even HAVING headsets) and certainly I haven’t seen anyone around here using a headset with their wireless phone. Maybe I need to live in a larger urban centre to see the beautiful people wearing headsets…

An Introduction

Hello World!

Funny – talking about telecommunications stuff and despite being a “non-programmer”, I start the posts with the most basic program name ever…

Anyway, Hi. My name’s Mark Kawabe and I am working at Telephone Magic Inc. in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. My job? Probably not to be blogging ; )

Actually, my job here is internet marketing which includes search engine optimization and of course, keeping the website updated with new products. I don’t have a telecom background or any particular training, which means that every day, I’m learning something new about something telecom related. Whether it’s a new wireless handset, Bluetooth headset, voice over IP or some other neat technology, I’m discovering more cool things that are available to the business and general public. That’s why I named this blog “Telecommunications Discoveries”. Because I’m making discoveries every day. Frankly, I’m really impressed by what’s available. So many different manufacturers doing so many neat things with technology that’s supposed to make our lives easier.

Okay – I don’t believe for a moment about technology making our lives easier in the bigger sense (i.e. I’m only working 4 hours a week but getting paid for 40 and having a wonderful life because of technology). But, I do think that the potential is there for technology to make a difference. Things like wireless headsets for mobile phones. I like those, mainly because I hate holding a headset while driving (yes, I know, I should pull over but hey, it’s not like you’ve NEVER talked on the phone while driving). I like headsets in general (mainly because sitting at a computer most of the time, I have enough neck strain thank-you-very-much). I think VoIP is cool. Maybe it’s just a guy thing – more high-tech toys. Who knows.

There’s nowhere on the Telephone Magic website to just put my observations about these products now, and at present, the owner doesn’t even know I’m doing this…though he will shortly. So, I thought I’d start a blog talking about the things I’ve learned while working here.

I’m a telecommunications newbie and I figure a lot of other people are as well. So, I’ll be trying to talk about things in telecom that I don’t think enough people use. My opinions only, of course. Just because I have to tell the boss about this thing doesn’t mean I want it to become a complete corporate manifesto.

So there you have it. The first entry in what will hopefully be a fun blog for people to read. Any feedback or questions are welcome.

Thanks for visiting!

Best Regards,

Mark Kawabe