Can you hear me now?

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Link: “The first mobile phone call was made 40 years ago today.” (QZ.com)

Here’s one of those anniversary news items that makes you realize two things: A length of time (in this case, 40 years) can seem like both a long time, and a short time.

Today is the 40th anniversary of the first cell-phone call.

Here’s a quote from an article appearing this morning on the news website, Quartz (QZ.com):

The first mobile phone call was made 40 years today, on April 3, 1973, by Motorola employee Martin Cooper. Using a prototype of what would become the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, the world’s first commercial cell phone, Cooper stood near a 900 MHz base station on Sixth Avenue, between 53rd and 54th Streets, in New York City and placed a call to the headquarters of Bell Labs in New Jersey.

As I looked at the graphic accompanying the story, I realized I have owned a  version of mobile phone (or, as we call them here in the US of A, “cell phone”) from each of the major generations represented in the art. That’s the part that makes me think, gee,  I’m old. But then, I look at the graphic again, and I realize that it took about 15 years for that Motorola Brick he’s holding to fall in price enough to get into my hands. And I think, gee, that’s not such a long time ago.

And then I started thinking about how long it takes the technology we believe is moving rapidly to get from promise to reality, and how reality never is the same as what we imagined it would be when we first heard its promise.

Take the cell phone, for example. I feel pretty certain that my iPhone can place and receive calls, but the “phone” is one of its features I use the least. And does Motorola even make phones anymore? Google owns them for some reason having to do with patents, right? And I’m not quite sure, but I don’t think Google makes mobile phones either (not counting the ones it soon will be selling that look like a really bad pair of safety glasses you buy at the hardware store), but it gives away the Android operating system for free to anyone who wants to sell a phone, say Samsung or Facebook?

And who would have guessed 40 years ago, today, that the mobile phone would primarily be used as a device that enables you send a message to people with whom you are sharing a physical space (“You’re boring and I’m rude.”) while simultaneously sending a message to those with whom you are sharing a virtual space (“Where r u?”)

Aren’t we lucky to be living through such amazing times?

A speakerphone for your iPhone (that’s also just a speaker)

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JawBone Big Jambox (and speakerphone for your iPhone)

I rarely give shout-outs to office gizmos, but this one I had to note as I know several people who would find it handy.  The Jawbone Big Jambox bluetooth speaker has been a life-saver for the new Hammock offices during the past couple of weeks. And no, not because we needed to play our music louder.

While waiting for AT&T to get the proper wiring to our new offices so that our somewhat antique VOIP phone system can work, we’ve done what nearly every household in America that still has a landline does: Roll over all our calls to cell phones.

However, if you are a company and using the roll-over to the cell phone hack, the dinky speakers in a cell phone just don’t cut it for conference calls, especially for a group larger than, well, one person. Especially, when you’re trying to be half-way professional sounding to the party on the other end of the line.

The other day, my friend and go-to geeksketeer, Jay Graves, dropped by the office for a conference call related to a Hammock project. Seeing that our Polycom speakerphone, the one you see on every conference room table in America, was of no use, Jay pulled out of his briefcase, a Jawbone Jambox (and thus proved, he was the biggest geek in the room). “Watch this,” he said and then began to demonstrate how the bluetooth speaker also has a microphone and, thus, is a perfect hack to create a bluetooth speaker phone that can link up with an iPhone. (Update: I just recalled that the circumstances of Jay dropping by our office didn’t include a conference call — however, he never passes up an opportunity to out-gadget me.)

While the smaller version is great for traveling and probably for a home office, if you are going to have several participants on your end, you need the “Big” Jambox, the one we purchased and that is pictured above.

[Sidenote: Here’s an ubber-geek discovery I made this a.m. while on a conference call with the Jambox. I noticed that my Pebble watch (thus, proving, I was the biggest geek in the room) was displaying the caller ID for the person on the other end. I clicked the Pebble’s button next to the name (I guess, because it was there) and it hung up the call. Thus, proving, I was a clueless geek.]

Disclosure: The links on this post go to the RexBlog Amazon.com affiliate account. I think I’m up to about $4.50 in commissions for the current century.