1789: Phone Numbers

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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.


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 know each other from when cell phones were 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.

Cueball has five numbers for White Hat, listed here 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 since the other four are numbered, it is assumed that Cueball's second number is White Hat's Google Voice number. 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 be because this is a landline (see #4).
  4. This can be deleted?: This is the last number White Hat mentions. This number could also have been White Hat's landline which would now be discontinued (but 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 number is useless as it just forwards all calls directly to #1, the cell phone.

White Hat does say that Cueball should use #2, the Google Voice number. This is a telephone service that provides call forwarding and voicemail services, voice and text messaging for Google customers. Google is updating Google Voice so that is probably the reason for the comic as the update came out rather late on the day when Google made the announcement of the update.

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 wishes 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 text-to-speech programs, 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 below the frame:]
Another reason I never call people.

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I've definitely seen this comic before. Deja vu? OfftheRails (talk) 20:56, 23 January 2017 (UTC)

#1254 21:44, 23 January 2017 (UTC)
Yep 1254 has been linked in the explanation. --Kynde (talk) 14:55, 24 January 2017 (UTC)

“Also White Hat never actually answers the question originally posed by Cueball.” – AFAIS he should use the #2 (the Google voice one). --DaB. (talk) 20:58, 23 January 2017 (UTC)

He sort of does answer the question: The Google voice number should be used. This is number 2, since 1 is cell, 3 doesn't do texts (Google voice does), 4 is obsolete, and 5 is work. 06:34, 24 January 2017 (UTC)
Yes as DaB said. I have corrected the explanation and made it clear the Google Voice is #2. --Kynde (talk) 14:55, 24 January 2017 (UTC)

"Another reason I never call people." I can't remember any previous reason given, can anyone else? -- 10:33, 24 January 2017 (UTC)

Typical Randall to make it a list and not give you all the item. Did it with the bad projection last week, and he has done do in other cases like a long list of reasons for doing something, where you only see a small section of the list. --Kynde (talk) 14:55, 24 January 2017 (UTC)

The statement in the explanation that most cell phones can't save such detailed information is incorrect. Android and iOS both allow setting custom types for phone numbers. 12:09, 24 January 2017 (UTC)

Agreed and have corrected this. --Kynde (talk) 14:55, 24 January 2017 (UTC)

I could not resist ... When viewed this comic on my Android phone with Firefox, the hover text got shortened to "Texting should work. Unless the message is too long, in which case..." Which I am finding funny in this context :) 15:44, 24 January 2017 (UTC)

Shouldn't this explanation mention the reason for this comic? Google updating Google Voice for the first time in 5 years? [1] 22:14, 23 January 2017 (UTC)

Yes and thanks. I will add this now. --Kynde (talk) 14:55, 24 January 2017 (UTC)

"However he then makes it clear that this _will only work when he is online with his laptop_ on a WiFi connection" Not true. Google Voice can be set up to ring several phone numbers, (6 total - see https://support.google.com/voice/answer/165221) in addition the Google Hangouts app on a computer. White Hat seems to want to use his laptop for calls when he's logged in on wifi, but the Google Voice number probably also rings his cell (#1), #3 (Landline?), and maybe even the partially defunct #4, if he has not updated his settings in a while.

Well obviously he has not, since he only receives his Google Voice call when he is on a WiFi connection on his laptop... But he could fix that as you say. But as long as he has not then Cueball is screwed :-) --Kynde (talk) 14:17, 25 January 2017 (UTC)
He said that it will forward to laptop if he's on wifi, not that it doesn't work otherwise. I would assume that it will call his cell (#1) when he's not on WiFi, so the only difference between #1 and #2 is that #2 would forward to laptop if he's on wifi. -- Hkmaly (talk) 00:31, 26 January 2017 (UTC)

If you send a text message to a landline number in Germany, it gets converted to speech automatically and is read (twice) to the recipient. -- (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Cool! Randall knows my brother. These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 00:57, 29 January 2017 (UTC)