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Who Doesn't Have a Cell Phone?

From the clunky, ugly things used mainly by businesspeople a couple of decades ago, cell phones have shrunk, and at the same time risen, to tiny little things that can fit in the palm of your hand, and yet possess an array of convenient and entertaining features. Cell phone subscription in the United States is now estimated to be over 190 million, out of a population of about 225 million. Even kindergarteners these days are flipping open those cell phones on the playgrounds to call their mommies.

Now that cell phones are increasingly pushing land lines off the market, the populace that remains without a cell phone, or that owns one but never delves deeper than the address book, must come to terms with this wonderful invention and learn to use it to the full extent of its possibilities.

Although the features that the most users are the most familiar with are the games (snake and pong?) and the address book, there are many other helpful features that most cell phones include. To make the most of your phone, you must ferret out these features and take them for what they're worth. To know what's going on with your phone, though, you have to know the basics first. Of primary importance is reading your cell phone's manual.

This may seem like a dreary job, but cell phone manuals tend to be very accessible, with features divided into categories and easy to understand (not to mention quick to read) instructions. You should also look around the cell phone provider's website. Companies like Nokia have websites that contain constantly updated information on their products, and surfing such sites is a great way to learn more about your phone. And always have the 1-800 number for your cell phone's tech support line hanging around. You never know when you might need it.

Now to the featuresˇKCell phones feature a number of things that make life easier, but which before the advent of digitalization, came in much bigger packages and were less convenient, especially for someone who's busy. One great feature is the alarm clock. If you're away from your tried-and-true radio clock and feel like getting a quick bit of shut eye, your cell phone provides a portable way of ensuring that said shut eye is indeed quick.

Unlike checking accounts, which don't tell you you've exceeded your resources until it's too late, most cell phones provide a minutes counter which allows you to keep track of your minutes so that you do not exceed your allocated monthly amount. You can also reset this counter at the beginning of each month so that you can keep track month by month, instead of having to unsheathe your calculator.

Some phones come with a voice activated speed dial. This feature allows you to say someone's name into your phone and then record the numberˇXafter that, whenever you want to call that person, simply speak their name (into the phone of courseˇXthis isn't magic), and the phone will dial. In addition to address books which can fit a large selection of numbers, this makes keeping track of your contacts much easier.

If you don't want to be disturbed, you can program your cell to forward all incoming calls to the White House, or your home voice mail if you prefer. It's a good idea to do this when you've exhausted your minutes and don't want to use your cell phone until they're renewedˇXjust forward the calls to a number at which you can be reached.

Feeling more comfortable with cell phones now, are you? In a world where cell phone use is proliferating at such a fast rate, you better get buckled and ready for the ride. Within a few months, cell phones will likely be even smaller, even more convenient, allowing you to download music and tv shows like an ipod. Nothing's going to stop the cell phone revolution.

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