The ironic thing in a seminar about the new IP telephony system being inflicted on campus is my attendance, as I've had phone bills negative numbers. But they're replacing the phones that are phones with phones that are Internet devices, and giving us a new exchange, but not a new area code -- I thought IP telephones were getting the area code '3', but we're sticking with the land-line '6'.
The new phones have many features I won't use, necessitating training sessions and detailed Powerpoint presentations, printed in three-by-two reduced-size handouts so the pictures are illegible. Main Components lists 17 items, counting the number keys as one. I can't wait. There are four ways to start a call, with either the receiver on or off the hook. On six rings the call is diverted to the phone's voice-mail system, unless you hit ``divert'', so the person will know you're avoiding them. You can put people on hold, which plays music, but you can't upload your own songs, which misses a great way to torment people who call.
With four phones set up for demonstration, some on ``speaker'' mode, in front the lecturer showed how to do call-waiting; conference calls; kick people off conference calls; forward calls; transfer calls; transfer calls without asking the person you're transferring them to whether they want to be recipients of transferred calls; read a log of recent calls; or change ring tones. There are 25 rings, which should be good anytime for killing an hour or two, although two of the rings are people asking, ``Are you there?''.
It also has Internet features, like booking a taxi; checking the weather (hot and muggy, chance of afternoon thunderstorms); checking the school, government, or business directory; sending and receiving SMS's to and from other people on campus; and locking your phone. There's also a web page interface so that one can harass one's phone over the Internet.
During the session, calls were received on people's cell phones at least eight times. The lecturer and the computer centre guy couldn't figure out why there was this weird time-lag feedback on the auditorium microphone system making everything sound like a sports stadium announcement to the point they gave up on the microphone and just talked louder, though I think it may have been related to the setup of four demonstration phones, some on ``speaker'' mode, in front.
Trivia: Al Jolson's salary for filming The Jazz Singer was $75,000 for eight weeks' work; additional filming was prorated at $9,375 per week. Source: The Speed of Sound, Scott Eyman.
Currently Reading: The Wellstone, Wil McCarthy.