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Voicemail

Monday, July 28, 2008
So the object of my deepest loathing lately has been a 30-year-old technology known as voicemail. Yes, that ubiquitous messaging system that has infected almost every phone on the planet is something I can't stand. I don't mind much leaving messages, but the process of getting one and trying to listen to it is infuriating.

In leaving a message, the biggest annoyance is the "Hi, this is so and so, I'm not here, please leave a message. TO LEAVE A NUMERIC MESSAGE, PRESS 'POUND' NOW." Yes, that last bit in caps that added to the end of almost every voicemail just grates on my nerves every time. I wonder how often it's used? In the thousands of voicemail experiences I've had, I've seen it used just once. Yet we have to listen to it every time!

But wait, leaving a message is actually the convenient part of voicemail. Let's talk about receiving one. As a member of the Verizon network (currently), I'm subject to their absolutely annoying system when it comes to message retrieval. Allow me to walk you through the process. It starts with me getting a voicemail. I dial into the voicemail system...

PLEASE. ENTER. YOUR. VOICEMAIL. PASSWORD.
*beep beep beep beep*
YOU. HAVE. ONE. NEW. MESSAGE.
FIRST. MESSAGE. FROM. FIVE. ZERO. THREE. FIVE. FIVE. FIVE. ZERO. ONE. ZERO. ZERO. SENT. TODAY. AT. EIGHT. O'CLOCK. AM.
*message plays*
PRESS. SEVEN. TO. ERASE. THIS. MESSAGE. PRESS. NINE. TO. SAVE. THIS. MESSAGE.
*beep*

Hopefully the caps and periods in those sentences let you know how irritating and slow it is. Furthermore, let's assume I'm somewhere where I can write down any pertinent information left in the message... 'cause if I'm not, I get to press "9" and then fight my way through the system again later.

But wait! Let's say I did save the message. It's a message I might need later! So I fight back through and play it... but don't delete it. After a set amount of time (it feels like three weeks, give or take) I then have to deal with erasing or re-saving this message when I sign in to get my voicemail. So the process I described above gets even more painful as I have to wait for each call to be described to me ("YOUR. MESSAGE. FROM. FIVE. ZERO. THREE...") before dealing with it (again) and then trying to listen to my message.

My point to all this? It's frustrating and stupid. We have the technology now to do better. One of the many neat features of the iPhone is "Visual Voicemail", which allows you to skip all that nested menuing and deal directly with the message. It's just one more feature that makes it difficult to resist the iPhone's siren call...

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