Tomorrow, I believe, I will turn on the TV, and hear someone say “500 rockets fell on Tel Aviv today, which leads to our call-in question for this segment: do you believe Mel Gibson’s apology was sincere?”

Gird thineself for one of those needless accounts of technical contrusions. It’s boring, I know, but as Gene Kelly said: Gotta Sing.

I installed the Gigawhatsis KT-18W5B3 software on the PC side of Gnat’s Macbook. This enabled me to ship my custom ringtones and wallpapers to the new phones. Set up was amusing, as ever: Windows is preparing to install a wizard that will prepare the installation of the installation wizard; please wait. The installation process included a screen with a warning: Warning! You may see this warning. Your computer may say that your computer is incompatible. Please disregard this message. You had to click a box that said, in effect, “I subscribe to this jury-rigged heap of code with the usual weary indifference,” after which you were permitted to continue. When the Wizard was done I was presented with the Panasonic program for transferring files to the new phone. Spiffy! I plugged in the phone.

Windows has detected something new; would you like to install the hardware for it? Well, I just did, didn’t I? Dismiss. I called up the new ringtone, transferred it to the Panasonic program, then moused over the button that sent it to the phone. (Which, I should note, said “Connected: Data Mode” on its screen.) The button to send the file was grayed out.


I called up the “help” section, and was informed I should check for an updated version of the software. Okay. I downloaded a new version, read the dialogue boxthat warned me the file COULD NOT BE VERIFIED and might well be the product of rabid Bulgarian hackers who have devised a way to extract my credit card numbers by using the screen to read my retinal patterns, clicked "Okay," and installed the new version. Nothing. It didn’t work. I had bought the phone to put in new ringtones, to save myself from the beeble-burble of the modern phone, and it didn’t work.

I called the 1-800 number. Oh my. Gosh. Where to begin? I laid out my case very slowly, describing first the problem, then the steps I had taken to isolate the cause, so we didn’t waste time on things like “is the phone in your house, or just in your mind?” or “Sir, are you trying to upload a 657MB avi porn file as your custom wallpaper” or other such reasonable queries. I was quite clear when I began: the process stalls at the export option; the export button is not highlighted in green as the help page page shows. It’s blue. Light blue.

She walked me through all the steps, then said “click on the green button.”

Sigh. See, it’s blue, and that’s the problem.  “Sir, I’d like you to reinstall the software? Do you have the disk?”

No, I used it for skeet shooting. It was handy, and I was in a mood. Yes, I had the disk, but, as I'd explained, I’d removed the software provided on the disk, which was version 1.0, and uploaded the version from their website, and it didn’t work. “Which version is that?” she asked. Good question. In the Mac world, you open the folder in which the program resides, do a splat-key-I, and there’s your info. Windows was different. Every time I tried to open a folder in which the program might be located, I was presented with a blue screen that warned me I should not venture beyond, lest I mess things up. Windows is always telling me I'm at risk or that I might ruin something. It's such a mom. It took three such screens to find the file, whereupon I discovered it was v. That seemed rather definitive, so I told the helpful tech I had the most recent version. We reinstalled everything anyway just to pass the time.

Neither the base phone nor the add-on phone accepted a file transfer. She concluded the problem was either the phones or the software.

I admitted that she was on to something there, but it was unlikely both phones had failed out of the box.

“I suggest you take it back to the store and get the newer software?” she said.

“But there isn’t any new software,” I said, probably sounding like a child informed that the circus not only left town but fell off the road into a ravine and killed all the elephants and the circus was over forever and the zebras were dead too. “I don’t think they have newer versions than your website.”


“Is there anything else I can help you with today,” she said.

I said there was not, and she thanked me for calling Panasonic.

I boxed up the phones. I saw that old familiar murderous ochre mist that descends whenever simple things do not work. I’d never had to call technical support for a phone before, and it left me somewhat unmanned. How unhappy was? I reboxed the items carelessly. l did not wind up the the cords and tie them with the provided twisty. I did not resheath every item in its plastic shroud. I did not include the FCC statement card in the reboxed items. Come and get me, copper.

I was resigned to taking it back, standing in line, describing the reason it didn’t work (“It doesn’t work.” Clerk checks box that says “Customer is Idiot”) and returning to the Old Phones. Then I remembered how the computer asked to install the software when I attached the phone, even though I’d already installed the software. What if I installed it again?

Sixth time’s the charm.

I called up the phone on my cell. The new ringtone filled the house.

“Is that the new phone sound?” Gnat asked in despair. “I don’t like it.”


“It’s old fashioned.”

She frowned every time it rang today.

As the person who wrote the software with which I struggled today no doubt would say: Everyone’s a critic.

That was not the entirety of my day, but it was the most intense portion. Bully for me, I guess, that such a minor thing comprises the main irritation. Otherwise it was grand; home with Gnat, UNO tourney over root beer, a trip to the grocery store, the usual. Just nothing much of interest, really – which I’m sure I’ve just proved. And now to the TV. More tomorrow, including a Diner; I did most of it tonight, and if Star Trek fans don’t see the twist coming they have no right to call themselves nerds. (Note: I didn’t see the twist coming myself until I was 18 minutes into the show.)

See you tomorrow! Thanks for coming by.

(Oh – Screedblog on recent events in the Middle East; it’s the last two national columns, which attempt to boil down the problems of the world into 700 words.)


c. j lileks. email may be sent to first name at last name dot com.