Chapter 8 – I Used Gel Skins Before They Were Cool

At the dawn of the new millennium — that is, February of 2001 — I took a four-month sabbatical from acting to study new media at The Canadian Film Centre. “New media” was what they called Web 2.0 before there was a Web 2.0, and Web 2.0 was what they called it before whatever it’s called now.

Why is any of this important? Only because I spent four intensive months in the company of other geeks, and for the first time didn’t have to keep my mobile phone lust in check. Add to this Fido‘s blanket 14-day no-questions-asked return policy on handsets. The result? I could justify burning through any number of Fido-branded phones in the name of “scholarly research”. And that’s exactly what I did.

First up was Motorola’s V2282. Two things drew me to it: (1) changeable plastic skins for customization not unlike my Nokia 5190, and (2) a built-in FM radio. Unfortunately, no amount of colourful plastic could hide the fact that this was one butt-ugly Moto. Truth be told, the cheap skins actually made the phone look more tawdry than without. And the FM radio, groundbreaking as it was for the time, didn’t end up being such a killer feature after all. Making a wired headset do double duty as an antenna was clever enough, but the bulk of the commuting I did in those days was underground on the Toronto Subway system — where there was no reception of any kind to be had. There still isn’t. We’re kind of backwards that way.

I don’t think this Moto lasted a week before I sent it back. Apparently it had a web browser, but I never used it. The mobile Internet would have to wait for my next handset.