Daily Archives: October 18, 2013

Mobile telephony

The science of translating sound into electrical signals, transmitting them, and then converting them back to sound; that is, the science of telephones.

We have come along way from the days of a telephone that weighed a tonne, was attached to the cable carrying the incoming signals and placed on a special table a few feet from the main entrance of fortunate homeowners who had such a device.

Like the early Model T Ford motor cars, you could have any colour you wanted, so long as it was black!

Our phone from the 40s,50s and 60s was like this. In fact my sister still has it somewhere at home.

Our phone from the 40s,50s and 60s was like this. In fact my sister still has it somewhere at home.

Today the term telephony is used frequently to refer to computer hardware and software that performs functions traditionally performed by telephone equipment. For example, telephony software can combine with your modem to turn your computer into a sophisticated answering service.

Voice mail, text messages and e-mail, are other popular telephony applications, meaning we can be reached at any time from any point on the globe, 24/7.

In the technological world of today we now have mobile phones weighing little more than 100g and measuring about 5 x 124 x 8 mm.

Most children have their own mobile phone by the age of 12 or when they are starting secondary school. Some children as young as five, have their own phone.

We are worlds away from the middle 1960s, when working as a telephone operator, sitting in the Main Telephone Exchange, on the first floor, over St Andrew’s Street Post office in Dublin, Ireland, I was asked to connect an incoming caller to a number in Garristown.

Telephone Exchange Operator

Telephone Exchange Operator

Garristown was/is a village just twenty miles north of where I was sitting, yet a world apart. It was the days before STD – NO! Not STDs. I am talking about Subscriber Trunk Dialling.

I had to call the operator in Garristown Post Office and ask to be connected to the number. In those now far off days, the operator usually lived on the premises. You could hear her turn the handle to connect to the house required.

Two particular calls to Garristown come to mind.

The first attempt must have taken thirty five minutes – the time it would now take to travel the distance by road – There were several episodes of the handle whirring, before the ‘Voice of Garristown’ (that would waken the dead, never mind a neighbour half way up Main Street), announced: “They must not be getting the ring, I know they are at home, so hold on while I run up and see why they are not answering”!

Thankfully, my caller was patient and prepared to wait. It seemed an age before the breathless voice announced. “I’ll put you through now”!

On another evening, around 7.30 pm, I tried to connect a caller to another number (all single or double digit numbers) when the ‘Voice of Garristown’ announced “You will have to call back later, you will not get them now, the mission is on. The priest this year is very long winded, so they’ll be gone for about two hours”! The annual two week Mission/Retreat was being held in the local church and everything stopped for the duration!

With the arrival of computers and the transmittal of digital information over telephone systems using radio to transmit telephone signals, Our lives have changed.

International or other long-distance calls are much less expensive than through the traditional call arrangements. We now have the ability to send voice messages along with text, chat or e-mail instantaneously to any part of the world, without the aid of a ‘Voice of Garristown’ character in the middle of it!

With a miniscule mobile phone device surgically attached to our hips, (metaphorically speaking), we leave constant signals of our travels. Recent stories of missing persons have shown how those very signals helped in finding the area where a victim has last been heard from.

The aftermath of the 7/7 bombings in London, found another use for mobile phones. Amongst the carnage several mobiles were found scattered about. On a few occasions these phones were the only way of knowing who had been lost in the horribleness of the day.

Can you conceive the difficulty the emergency and police services had in finding out the owners names or in trying to notify their families?

Imagine the scenario: “Hello, Do you know the owner of this phone……?”

Do they scan down the list of contacts for an entry for ‘next–of –kin’?

Look at your list of contacts, Who should they call…

  • Loverboy,
  • Boobiebaby or
  • Snugglebug?
  • Would it be Dad- not knowing he is a heart attack about to happen,
  • Mum in the early stages of dementia, who never remembers to switch the phone on?

We should ALL be using ICE. It is not only for our drinks!

Following the above mentioned disaster, the emergency services suggested that we all add an ICE number to our list of contacts.

In Case of Emergency – The name and number of the person you want contacted should you be run over by the proverbial bus, collapse in the street, or a disaster of major proportions occur.

You need to think well about the person you select. You need someone level headed and dependable.

A person who knows more about you than your name. They need to know if you have any major health issues, take medication and if possible the name of your doctor or the practice you attend. Please be sure to ask their permission or at least tell them you are listing them as your ICE number.

It could save your life!

Now while you are at it, if you have elderly parents, children, or grandchildren with mobile phones, why not talk them through adding an ICE number to their phones.

It could save their lives!

I have a touch screen phone, so my ICE number is visible on the screen and easy to access. Yes, It is Elly.

I entered it as follows:

First name: ICE 1 Elly Parker (having a short name makes it easier)
Last name: Daughter (this way they know the relationship of who they are calling)
Mobile phone number: xxx xxx xxxx
Landline number: xx xxx xxx xxxx
Email address. ————–

At the back of a passport there is a page to give the details of a Next-of-kin, so why not on a phone? We all carry phones these days , but not everyone has or carries a passport everywhere they go.

It might save our lives!

This interesting topic Mobile telephony was brought to us this week at the suggestion of Ramana. I hope you find it helpful.