ILNews

Technology Untangled: Texting is not just for teens

Stephen Bour
February 3, 2010
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I must admit that until recently I didn't think much of using a cell phone for sending text messages. However, since I purchased a new phone, I've started to experiment with it, and I am surprised to report that I have found some practical as well as fun uses for this technology.

Texting always struck me as something for kids. It seemed odd to notice kids everywhere who were frantically poking away at the miniscule keyboards of their phones. If they had something important to communicate, why didn't they just call the person from the phone that was in their hands?

One of our court reporters began to text to communicate with the office. I would receive a text on occasion but still preferred e-mail or plain, old phone calls. Maybe one of the reasons for the preference was because I did not have an unlimited texting plan. Another reason was that my phone did not have a full QWERTY keyboard. Typing a response on an abbreviated keyboard with each number representing 3 or 4 letters was slow and clumsy, even with predictive-text input technology.

When my cell service contract came up for renewal, I upgraded to a new Verizon phone, which included a slideout keyboard, and an unlimited texting plan. I do not recommend experimenting with texting without an unlimited texting plan because the charges can add up quickly with the "a la carte" billing method. With the new phone, I was free to experiment with texting and prove once and for all that it really was a waste of time ... or so I thought.

For business purposes, I started to notice that communicating via text messages could be very efficient. Text messages are necessarily short - about 140-160 characters max. This helps keep the message right to the point. You can send longer communications, as they are automatically separated into several shorter parts. Texting can also take place in situations where a phone call is impractical, such as during a hearing or a deposition. I found this particularly useful during a deposition I was videotaping that ran long; I was able to alert the right people without having to interrupt the taping. I am finding many situations where texting is more efficient than playing phone tag.

While texting can offer immediate communication, it certainly does not require an immediate response to each message you receive. This is becoming a major issue because of the problem of distracted driving. It never makes sense to type a text message while driving.

Pictures can also be included with text messages. This issue has been in the news because of the unfortunate situation of teenagers "sexting" each other with suggestive pictures. A more useful example of picture messaging would be for sending immediate pictures of an auto accident. I found it useful during the Christmas shopping season to send pictures of presents being considered for purchase. Note that the pictures that are sent within text messages are compressed automatically before sending. The original versions of the pictures that are saved to your phone when you take a photo are of higher quality.

Airline travelers can take advantage of another practical application for texting. The airlines, as well as travel services like Orbitz, offer automatic text-message updates regarding flight status. It is easy to sign up for these updates when making travel reservations on your computer.

I was intrigued by ads about getting Kroger coupons on your cell phone, as well as breaking news by text message. I had to check it out. By texting GROCERY to 22888, I was able to receive a Web link that allowed me to choose offers that would automatically be added to my Kroger card and be applied at checkout.

By texting INDY NEWS to 44636, I was able to receive immediate text replies on some of the top stories in the news. The service that provides this is named 4INFO. Text M (for Movie) and your zip code to receive a reply with shows and show times for the closest theater. Visit the Web site 4info.comto learn about many other free text services, although standard text-messaging fees with your carrier will apply.

I will admit that I have become a convert to some of the virtues of texting, but I don't expect it will become as vital a communication tool for me as it seems to be for today's youth.

Stephen Bour (bourtech@iquest.net) is an engineer and legal technology consultant in Indianapolis. His company, the Alliance for Litigation Support Inc., includes Bour Technical Services and Alliance Court Reporting. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.

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  1. Falk said “At this point, at this minute, we’ll savor this particular victory.” “It certainly is a historic week on this front,” Cockrum said. “What a delight ... “Happy Independence Day to the women of the state of Indiana,” WOW. So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)

  2. congratulations on such balanced journalism; I also love how fetus disposal affects women's health protection, as covered by Roe...

  3. It truly sickens me every time a case is compared to mine. The Indiana Supreme Court upheld my convictions based on a finding of “hidden threats.” The term “hidden threat” never appeared until the opinion in Brewington so I had no way of knowing I was on trial for making hidden threats because Dearborn County Prosecutor F Aaron Negangard argued the First Amendment didn't protect lies. Negangard convened a grand jury to investigate me for making “over the top” and “unsubstantiated” statements about court officials, not hidden threats of violence. My indictments and convictions were so vague, the Indiana Court of Appeals made no mention of hidden threats when they upheld my convictions. Despite my public defender’s closing arguments stating he was unsure of exactly what conduct the prosecution deemed to be unlawful, Rush found that my lawyer’s trial strategy waived my right to the fundamental error of being tried for criminal defamation because my lawyer employed a strategy that attempted to take advantage of Negangard's unconstitutional criminal defamation prosecution against me. Rush’s opinion stated the prosecution argued two grounds for conviction one constitutional and one not, however the constitutional true threat “argument” consistently of only a blanket reading of subsection 1 of the intimidation statute during closing arguments, making it impossible to build any kind of defense. Of course intent was impossible for my attorney to argue because my attorney, Rush County Chief Public Defender Bryan Barrett refused to meet with me prior to trial. The record is littered with examples of where I made my concerns known to the trial judge that I didn’t know the charges against me, I did not have access to evidence, all while my public defender refused to meet with me. Special Judge Brian Hill, from Rush Superior Court, refused to address the issue with my public defender and marched me to trial without access to evidence or an understanding of the indictments against me. Just recently the Indiana Public Access Counselor found that four over four years Judge Hill has erroneously denied access to the grand jury audio from my case, the most likely reason being the transcription of the grand jury proceedings omitted portions of the official audio record. The bottom line is any intimidation case involves an action or statement that is debatably a threat of physical violence. There were no such statements in my case. The Indiana Supreme Court took partial statements I made over a period of 41 months and literally connected them with dots… to give the appearance that the statements were made within the same timeframe and then claimed a person similarly situated would find the statements intimidating while intentionally leaving out surrounding contextual factors. Even holding the similarly situated test was to be used in my case, the prosecution argued that the only intent of my public writings was to subject the “victims” to ridicule and hatred so a similarly situated jury instruction wouldn't even have applied in my case. Chief Justice Rush wrote the opinion while Rush continued to sit on a committee with one of the alleged victims in my trial and one of the judges in my divorce, just as she'd done for the previous 7+ years. All of this information, including the recent PAC opinion against the Dearborn Superior Court II can be found on my blog www.danbrewington.blogspot.com.

  4. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

  5. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

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