London 2012 (07.24.2012) – Call Me, Maybe?

No, this is not some parody or lip-sync video produced by the interns of NBC Olympics (although the idea has been brought up before). It’s a silly little story about out phone problems and how we all stay connected at the IBC. Yes, the #FirstWorldProblems hash-tag applies here.

Bit of background info. Some interns and staff came here with international data plans. Good for them.  I figured it would be cheaper for me to just get a SIM card here in London and use my old iPhone 3G.

The problem? I had to unlock my old iPhone 3G. I was able to do it before when I had studied abroad here two years ago. But I guess since the model is really old, the codes don’t work anymore. So here I am with a £15 SIM card and no phone to put it in.

On the bright side, NBC ended up giving every staff member phones so that they can contact us anytime they needed us. If I had known they were going to do that, I wouldn’t have bothered with getting that SIM card or even wasting my time unlocking my old iPhone.

Meanwhile, I was still able to use my current iPhone 4S and text other people through iMessage whenever I was connected to WiFi, a convenience that I didn’t realize of until now. Thank you, Steve Jobs. Good tip for those traveling abroad, you can still keep in touch with those back home as long as both parties are using iMessage on their iPhones.

Back to the phones that NBC gave us, did I mention that they were the old Nokia phones circa 2003? For some of us, these phones looked a lot like our first cell phones that our mom and dad got us when we were in seventh grade to make sure we got home from school safely. It brought back memories of playing games like “Snake” for hours on end. “Snake” did exist on these phones, and they helped pass time on the bus rides to and from the IBC.

There were some drawbacks. Who can remember the last time that they texted using T9? I’ve clearly been too spoiled with my iPhone keyboard and I’m sure old Blackberry users feel the same way. What would take two seconds to text “Hey, how are you?” became a 90-second task. Texting with T9 is truly a skill that many of us in the iPhone-era don’t have anymore.

A couple of other #PhoneProblems we encountered and overcame.

1. Knowing our phone number. That was an impossible task and certainly not a worthwhile one considering we were only in the country for 3-4 weeks. Most of us used a label-maker to mark down what our name and phone number was. In fact, that ended up becoming an intern-task.

2. Knowing other people’s phone numbers. One of the first assignments that the interns had was to create phone directory cards that had the contact info of everyone in our department. Hours would be spent on printing out the directories, then laminating it and punching holes in them so that they can be hung on our lanyards with our credentials.

At one point, we had already prepared 20 cards when we were informed that some of the numbers were either incorrect or missing. Definitely a punch in the gut for the interns who had just spent their afternoon tediously making them.

Luckily, we were able to program our phones so that we automatically had all the contacts we needed. Not gonna lie, it was kind of cool to have my phone number share the same contact list as Apolo Ohno’s (Ohno is serving as a correspondent for NBC Olympics during the games).

3. Using our phone as a watch. Figuring out how to get the time of day to show up on our phone wasn’t hard and I was happy to do it for the numerous producers who didn’t know which buttons to press. The problem was trying to figure out how to convert military time to the time that we’re used to. In many foreign places, including the UK, clocks go by the 24-hour mode (aka 1:11PM is 13:11). Some of us weren’t used to that, but it was something we had to cope with. The phones definitely weren’t going to show time the way we wanted it to.

So for three weeks, this was our only way of communicating with people, especially if you didn’t invest in one of those international phone plans. All you had was this small Nokia phone that could only call or text. It was certainly a step back for iPhone users, such as myself, who are used to doing so much more on a phone that actually having a conversation.

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