Chesapeake Home Theatre & Hi-Fi

Larry Dent is the owner of Chesapeake Home Theatre & Hi-Fi.

These articles were written for the Islander Weekly.

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Larry's Tech Talk

A Lot of Us Might Be Breaking the Law!

Technology changes our lives, I don’t think anyone can argue against that point. And the state of Maryland was a different place before cell phones were invented. Cell phones were not only invented, they are everywhere. Almost everyone pretty much has access to a cell phone. Monthly rates are consumer level low and long distance charges are a thing of the past. In addition to providing verbal communication, most cell phones have the “text” capability. You can add surfing the internet and checking your e-mail to the new PDA cell phones capabilities.

OK, Larry we all know that stuff, who is breaking the law? A lot of us are breaking the law, that’s who. The next time you are on the road in your car, look around and see how many people are talking on their cell phones or texting or maybe even reading their email. Yeah dude, but everybody uses their cell phones in the car, who is breaking the law?

I might not have all of the legal-ese correct, but as I understand it, hand-held use of a cell phone while driving, is now against the law in MD. Yeah, but everybody talks on their phone in the car, how can that be illegal? I didn’t say that talking was illegal, hand-held use of a cell phone is illegal. Enter another technology, “Bluetooth”. I get it, so holding a cell phone is illegal, but using a “hands free” device with a cell phone is permitted.

So what’s a “Bluetooth”? Bluetooth is a wireless technology that transmits and receives signals over short distances. So a Bluetooth headset or ear bud can be used wirelessly with a cell phone. There are also Bluetooth keyboards, mouses (or is it mice?), heart rate monitors and other devices which eliminate the wires.

I have to admit that I have questions about the new law. If you use a hands free device like a Bluetooth ear bud, you are legal. But you still have to search your contacts or dial the phone to make a call. To me its not the talking that is dangerous but the eyes off the road and dialing that is dangerous. So is dialing illegal? I understand that texting and surfing the internet are just bad ideas while driving and should be illegal. But who is to say that I am dialing and not texting?

Maybe the new law puts the judgment on Police Officers. Was that driver texting, dialing, or talking without a hands free device? Or if a driver has a hands free device, does the violation go away? I have and use a Bluetooth hands free ear bud. It took some getting use to, but I really like it now. But admittedly, there are times such as dialing that I have to touch the phone and look away from the road.

What if sometime in the future, there was a phone that you could talk to and operate totally hands free? Something like, hey phone, read me my text messages? Or my wife might say to her iPhone, call Larry (she never calls me). Then of course her iPhone would actually dial my number and she would talk on her Bluetooth hands free headset. Now that’s “hands free”! Yeah, but hey Einstein, that will never happen on a small device like a PDA or cell phone. Sorry dude, it is already on the market!

The new iPhone 4S has something called “Siri”. Siri turns the new iPhone into a speech recognition device. It will read you your texts, emails, record and send outgoing texts, reminders and manage your calendar, all by simply talking to it. The other day my wife wanted to check on a prescription while driving. She simply said, “Siri, please call Rite Aid in Chester, MD.

And what if that capability was integrated with our home audio and video systems? I could say something like, go to ESPN. Or what time are the Ravens on this week? Or please play the Allman Brothers Band in Dolby Digital. HOLD UP! That’s a whole ‘nother article waiting to be written! Today is about keeping our eyes on the road!

The new MD cell phone law says that fines will range from $40 to $100 for violations. I don’t know of anyone that has been fined, but I see many, many violators. Maybe the court of public opinion doesn’t yet recognize the danger or potential of driver inattention. But Officer, my mother called me, I had to answer. Sorry, tell it to the Judge!

Steve Jobs is gone, but another one of his technologies is here and making us safer. I will look for Siri to be integrated with many new devices in the very near future. You might not own an iPhone 4S, but please, keep your eyes on the road and your hands behind the wheel!