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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Phone Numbers
Texting should work. Unless the message is too long, in which case it gets converted to voicemails, and I think I'm locked out of my voicemail.
Title text: Texting should work. Unless the message is too long, in which case it gets converted to voicemails, and I think I'm locked out of my voicemail.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Major revisions just made on Tuesday 24th. Have a look and correct typos etc.

Cueball, who again represents Randall as given from the caption below the comic, has several phone numbers stored for White Hat under his contact entry on his phone and asks him which number he should generally use.

Often, people who have known each other for a long time may have old information recorded for each other, which may no longer be accurate. For instance if they have know each other from when cell phones where still rather new they would have had a home phone number also. More and more people have discontinued their land lines and now only keep the cell phone number.

But it is not so easy with the five numbers Cueball has for White Hat here listed as #1 to #5 as they are numbered in the comic (and not the order he mentions them):

  1. Cell phone: The first number White Hat mentions is actually White Hat's cell phone; so usually this would be the number you should use as first priority, but not so with White Hat.
  2. Google Voice: White Hat then goes on to say he should use his Google Voice. It is not stated that this is #2, but the other four are numbered. The reason Cueball should use this is that it will forward to White Hat's laptop, although only if his laptop is connected to WiFi.
  3. Always works: The third number, the fourth he mentions always works, but for some reason it cannot do sms text messages. This could of course be because this was a discontinued landline, but see #4.
  4. This can be deleted?: This is the last number White Hat mentions. This number could also have been White Hat's discontinued landline (see #3), or a previous cell number. White Hat states that it can be deleted. But then on second thought he adds an "I think?" So even this number cannot be deleted from Cueball's phone. The title text most likely refers to this number, as it is the last he has mentioned in the main comic.
  5. Work number: The fifth number, mentioned third, is White Hat's work number (maybe he has an office, or it's just an official number for his business). But this is indifferent as it just forwards all calls directly to #1 the cell phone.

White Hat does say that Cueball should use #2 the Google Voice. This is a telephony service that provides call forwarding and voicemail services, voice and text messaging for Google customers. However he then makes it clear that this will only work when he is online with his laptop on a WiFi connection. This could be his way of saying that he only wish to talk to Cueball when he is in such a position.

However he also explains the other numbers more or less making it clear how he could be reached. And all in all it seems like his cell phone is still the best way to reach him.

Today on smartphones it could be possible in your contact list to save such tedious details about each number (such as "should always work but doesn't accept texts.") But who wishes to do so? Also not all cell phones do have this option, and maybe at best you can only label the numbers as "work", "home" or "cell" but not to the detail that White Hat provides.

In the caption below Randall explains that this kind of trouble with getting the correct number for people he wish to contact is one (another) of more (several?) reasons he never calls people. Today there are so many other methods of getting into contact, also even if texting is out of the questions as well. Skype, messenger, other social networking platforms like Facebook and of course the old way of sending a letter or talking in person...

White Hat's answer reveals a complicated history of communication practices. This cobbled-together personal technology is a common theme for Randall, see 1254: Preferred Chat System for another example, where Voicemail, text and Google Voice is also mentioned (and mixed in with written letter if not real mail).

The title text must refer to one of the five numbers saying that texting works for one of the numbers. This should then not be #3. It could be the number he says Cueball should use #2, but it seems more likely that it is an amendment to the last I think for #4. Maybe he realizes that this is the number he used to receive text on, when his #3 number was all he had and since that could not receive text he got the number which is now #4.

In either case the number he talks about can in fact receive text - but if #4 it can probably not receive phone calls. And then it gets weird because if the text gets too long then the message goes to voicemail. This is of course nonsense as a text message cannot just turn in to a spoken message. (Though of course there are programs that reads up text, but as this takes up more space than text on a server, it would make no sense).

To cap it up, just in case it did turn into a voicemail, it would not make any difference because White Hat has been locked out of his voicemail.

It is not uncommon that young people never use voicemail and expect people to text them rather than leave a message. This could be a problem for them if "old" people call to let them know of a job they have been offered etc. So it is likely that Randall also jokes about this by letting White Hat be indifferent to having been locked out of his voicemail.


[White Hat is looking at a smartphone held out by Cueball]
Cueball: I have five phone numbers for you. Which one should I use?
White Hat: That first one is my cell- you should use the Google Voice one, since it will forward to my laptop if I'm on WiFi. #5 is my work number, which just forwards to #1. #3 should always work but can't do texts.
White Hat: You can delete #4. I think.
[Caption under the panel:] Another reason I never call people.

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