Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 314 - Face Time

In a previous life - maybe even a couple lives ago - I was a... ahem... "Member of Technical Staff" at AT&T Bell Laboratories.

Excuse me? Bell Labs. What do you mean you've never heard of... it's Bell F-in Labs! The premiere research and development laboratory on the planet. Bell Labs cranked out more patents than any other collection of humans ever. They invented the transistor, cellular phones, and the friggin' laser. Oh, and they also discovered cosmic background radiation that were echoes of the big bang... in their spare time.

It used to be a big deal. Now it's owned by Alcatel-Lucent. A hyphenated company. That's all I know about them.

Aaaaaanyway... I got to work on some fascinating stuff, and one of the perks was that I had access to lots of products. At one time I had one of these on my desk...

That's right... a video phone. Not just any video phone. A Videophone 2500. I know!

In its day it was going to change the way people communicated. Everyone was going to have one.

Did you have one? No? I did. But just the one. Having just one of these meant that I really just had an insanely expensive phone, but still, it was pretty cool.

Ok, so they didn't catch on. But like so many ideas to come out of Bell Labs, it was ahead of its time.

Enter FaceTime.

This is an Apple feature that, quite frankly, I didn't think much of.

Until I tried it.

After failing to completely repair my boy's iPod Touch, I popped for a new one... one that included FaceTime. We fiddled with FaceTime the first day, sitting next to each other on the couch, and it seemed... ok.

Fast forward a month or so. On a whim I texted him and ask if he wanted to FaceTime. It was most excellent.
Extreme Close-up!

What I'd thought would be an awkward self-conscious conversation was fun, funny, entertaining, and connecting, in a personal way. Now, it's our preferred telecommunication mode.

The Duke's Feet

If you have FaceTime capable devices (iPhone4, 4thGen iPod Touch, a OS X v10 Mac), text or call another similarly equipped friend and/or loved one, and give it a shot.

However, do NOT confuse the fun of FaceTime with the abomination that is video conferencing.


Video conferencing takes all of the awkwardness of a conference call and adds in the discomfort of a meeting. It's like doubling-up a colonoscopy and a root canal.

You can't mute your end and share insight, or the occasional "That's what she said" with those in your room, because the other people CAN SEE YOU! You can't even roll your eyes when someone on the other side says something olympic stupid. And you really want to. And sometimes you forget that they can see you and you do it anyway, and they say "What was that, Doug?" and you're totally thinking it was some kind of Jedi trick until you remember that they CAN SEE YOU!!!

In one case, adding visual to audio erases distance and let's you see and hear a loved one laugh. In the other, it takes the only fun out of an otherwise dreary situation, and maybe gets you fired.

Yin and Yang.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.5 miles on trails that tore me up pretty good. Smell that? Smell a rest-mile day coming? I do.