Why modern phones are so awful

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BRB, founding a lossless audio startup promising a vintage telephonic experience. and gold-plated connectors.


You use your phone to make phone calls?

Get with the program, granddad.

Use Slack, or something.

FWIW, I’ve always hated making phonecalls, even when there was no alternative, and this was my phone.


I’ve been VoIP only on both my home AND my business lines for MANY years. As long as the internet is working, VoIP works. I haven’t seen the trouble you’ve seen.

Honestly, the trouble usually comes in when doing group calls. And that’s a problem with the service providing the conference call, in my experience.



Interesting article until the author starts getting poetic and romantic about old phones:

The handset made telephone calls an undeniably carnal art, one in which a foreign apparatus came into close contact with one’s face, ear, and lips.

Oh boy…

This tactile sensuality coupled to other rituals of telephony—the time-consuming process of shwk-whirrrr dialing or touch-tone button-pressing to enter a number that you could recite as a koan; the sound of the dial tone initiating the invitation to dial; the definitive physical sensation of conclusion as you returned the handset to the cradle to end a call; the fact that the call itself was metered and possibly expensive—which all together made telephony a full-body experience, no matter the content of the conversation, from break-up to take-out.

These all seem like bad things to me, with the exception of returning the phone to the cradle which I’m neutral on.


Yeah, if you have a solid internet connection and are using a high quality VOIP service (that you actually pay for) with decent equipment, then it works quite well. My office phone uses VOIP and I’m on conference calls several hours a day for work. On rare occasions we get an echo in the conference system, but 90% of the problems we have hearing each other are when somebody on the line is using a mobile phone in a place that is noisy or has a bad signal.

If, on the other hand, you try to use free conference calling services with dirt-cheap consumer grade VOIP providers, it can be quite hard to hear.


I will just point to this:


Well VoIP is a sorry mess because it’s built on a platform that was never designed to carry real time audio. I mean IP was never planned or designed with an idea that it should dethrone standard analog telephony, let alone carry live video streams.

If you think about it this whole internet thing is at the same time a remarkable piece of engineering and a sorry mess. It is truly remarkable that it can do all the things it does. It is even more remarkable that it is capable on doing them using the underlying tech it has. Take for example your average website nowadays. It uses one syntax to describe the content and structure of the text it presents (HTML), another one to describe the appearance of that text (CSS). This text is generated by running a bit of code on your computer, the client side (JS). Yet another piece of code runs on computer that stores this text, the server side, again using another syntax (PHP perhaps?). Undoubtedly, it uses little bites of information stored in the database which uses yet another syntax to communicate with the rest of the system (SQL?)… No less than 5 different standards at interplay needed to generate one single web site. Sure there are many many advantages that come from flexibility, but this cacophony also has it’s down sides. It shows all the hallmarks of a system that evolved organically rather than one engineered from ground up. Give it another decade and better solutions will surely evolve.


Modern phones are wonderful future gadgets. That glass monolith with the Internet inside is our flying car, our hoverboard, our freaking jetpack. They’re just hamstrung by (mostly, IMO) disappointing battery life and the sad attachment to shit service providers.


Not sure if serious, but decoupling of data layer from server layer from interaction layer from semantic layer from presentation layer is a good thing.


The hang up slam is a seriously lacking tactile experience.

Otherwise. Yeah, old people be old y’all.


Dear God, I’m required to do half my job on VoIP… bounced from local members, to HQ on the opposite coast, and back. The other day what should have been a 30-minute call dropped three times.

And lousy thermal management and godawful crappy flash chips that in many cases go slow with age, a pain of some older smartphones (run fstrim from cron every 15 or so minutes to turn it from goddamn unusably slow to manageably sluggish) and lack of tactile feedback and… and… and…

I use teamspeak constantly. Me and a group of friends pay for a medium-high availability (4 nines) hosted teamspeak server. We never have any problems that don’t originate from some bozo trying to connect via public wifi, or an issue with our own ISPs. But in anycase, Opus audio codec set to encode at 4-40kbps basically means you could run the thing on a potato and it’d still sound great.

I don’t know why podcasters use skype for roundtables when a 50 slot TS server costs about $20 USD per month and beats skype in practically every way (unless you want video).


The doesn’t change the fact that cell phone quality is horrible, horrible, horrible. The thought that really gives me pause is when thinking about how horrible cell phone sound quality is compared to POTS service and the remembering that I used to think POTS sound quality was crap.

Cell phone sound quality is a giant leap backward.


Or any of a number of other technologies that are designed to allow you to be interrupted constantly and ruin your concentration and productivity.

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Oh yeah, guess spending a ton of hours in meetings and on phone calls instead is soooo much more productive /s

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Maybe I’m just turning into that-asshole-from-IT in my old age; but ‘consumerization’, with the utterly shit services people are familiar with from using at home clawing their way into environments where you are actually supposed to get things done, strikes me as one of the most pestilent developments in technology(aside from crypto bootloaders, everything phoning home all the time, and Oracle).

People just use awful stuff because it’s free and visible; and familiarity keeps them using awful stuff even when stumping up for something that doesn’t suck would make a great deal more sense.

We need an embittered priesthood of condescending mainframe users to keep the rabble in line.


Ugh. I’ve got a technical interview in the morning. The last one I had, the interviewers were using speakerphone on a mobile. And there was a lot of echo.

“[mumble] would you restart [mumble mumble mumble mumble]?”
“I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“HOW Would you [mumble] [mumble mumble mumble mumble]?”
“I’m sorry, but I’m having a lot of trouble understanding you.”
“How would you restart [ayish see see?]?”
“Uh, I’m afraid I don’t know what that is.”
“How can you be a Linux technician if you DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT DHCP IS!!!”
“Oh, dhcp. Er, I guess, systemctl restart dhcp, or if that doesn’t work, maybe restart it with the script in /etc/init.d”.


Or all of them at once, because the problem in this office is a lack of communication, and clearly the way to improve communication is to have as many different communication channels in use at once as possible. That should reduce confusion!

We’re all in the same room, so we can talk easily, and we’ve just been issued noise-cancelling headsets, so we’re not distracted by all the noise in the room.

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