Well, I successfully purchased a new mobile phone today – I think. My old Motorola Timeport could be a new Timex commercial. I've dropped it about 200 times. Accidentally kicked it and watched it skid across pavement. The plastic has chipped off in such large chunks that I can see the circuit board inside. The antenna has an elbow that allows the top end to spin 360 degrees. The carrier's logo sticker is long gone. The screen is going. There are varying shades of brightness in the text characters. Even my grandparents mock it, but it still works, and I get better coverage with this phone than anyone else I know. I've very reluctant to let go.

I couldn't find the new phone that I wanted in a local shop so I went online. My experience was reminiscent of eCommerce in 1995. At first, I tried a major (and I mean MAJOR) online retailer because they were offering the phone at the same price as the carrier, but with only a one-year contract. I spent 15 minutes on the site attempting to buy the phone – I just couldn't figure out the process. I didn't even abandon the shopping cart because I couldn't figure out how to get the phone in it. We're launching some new research here on configuration engines – I'm going to suggest that we add mobile phones to the list.

Then, I figured – I've had the same phone for three or four years – a two-year contract won't kill me. I moved on to the carrier's site. Not bad until I was entering my personal data. The data needed to be entered very carefully without any periods, punctuation, etc. No examples provided. I had flashbacks to debugging code in my 6.001 programming class as a freshman engineering student. Took three attempts.