My cell phone is, besides the way I keep in touch with certain people, the reason I no longer carry a wristwatch or frequently set a conventional alarm clock. For all the annoyances of cell phones, they win more than they lose. However, since I am also a grad student now, the chief annoyance of cell
phones for me is inappropriate ringing, such as in class or the library. My idea to improve things: a multi-part, flexible schedule for cell phones (do you remember the Biorhythms* craze?) which would ease the embarrassment and distraction of ringing when ringing isn't right, while making it harder to miss calls because you've set the phone to Silent mode for a lecture, then forgotten to restore its voice.
By multi-part schedule, I mean a series of overlapping calendars of different durations indicating times when the phone should respond differently to incoming calls.
Illustration: for me, weekends are generally OK -- I can answer the phone anytime from Friday afternoon to early Monday morning. However, on any weekday, 10:00-10:30 am is not an acceptable time for me to answer a phone call. Some portion of the middle of
the day is acceptable again, followed by another class.
What I would like to do is synch my phone with a simple, overrideable schedule, which would repeat as needed based on whether the time slots I've listed are "every weekday," "every Tuesday," "1st Monday of the month," or some other parameter, like "Aug 7-13, vacation in Peru -- use alternate-contact message on voicemail." Picture a grid calendar (with
weekly / monthly / yearly views) to click on and update on a PC screen, the results of which would be transmitted to the phone. Calls allowed to ring through could be None, All, or Whitelist only. (If a family member or close friend calls at 3 a.m., it may be an emergency and I'd be happy
to pick up; if random marketeer calls then, I'd be angry.)
The schedule would also allow for repeating, day-based alarm clock setting. I'm know some phones, especially high-end ones, have a decent
system for this -- some phones are of course full PDAs with all that brings -- but my low-end Nokias (and I believe the low-end Motorola the current Nokia replaces) seem to only allow the alarm clock to be set once-at-a-time. At 6 am, I'm not at my brightest trying to figure out the settings in order to arrange a snooze-based reprieve.
My synchable calendar of phone availability would no doubt be less than perfect and require occasional tweaking, but it seems worth the tradeoff.