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I wanted to punish my daughter with a no-frills phone but it didn't go to plan (abc.net.au)
173 points by adrian_mrd 70 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 120 comments

This is intended to be humor. Don't take it too literally.


My sons learned that from me. I began doing it during my second pregnancy when even saltine crackers were not plain enough for my level of nausea.

Yes, it's mind bogglingly messy.

The ones in Ukraine circa 2001 were the absolute best for that.

(Or, maybe being a teenager starting high school at the time makes my assessment biased).

Mivina. I was very excited to tell my US friends about The Very Ukrainian product they've all been missing out on (with a very Ukrainian brand name).

Until my grad school friend told me that it literally means Noodles From Vietnam in Vietnamese.

Turns out, Mivina was indeed created in Ukraine — and made its creator the richest person in Vietnam [1][2].

Deservedly so, I say.



So true! I don't even remember if I have ever actually cooked Mivina. And the story behind it is absolutely stunning.

I used to do that at school, but I'd add the flavoring packet. Ahh nostalgia.

Mmmmmm, open one side, dump the flavouring in and then smash it all up in the package and shake it up.

We are pretty close to someone saying they actually tried doing this commercial https://youtu.be/YHQXBAjkmOQ

this is a very popular south korean snack!


Half Korean.

I thought I figured out some amazing snack when I started eating ramen straight out of the pack. My brother and I would mix it with microwave popcorn (two unhealthy snacks cancel each other out, right?)

So it came as a shock when my cousin from Korea came to visit and wasn't impressed with our ramen snacks.

"Doesn't everyone do this?"

Turned out my Half-Korean friends were doing the same thing (we were all Army brats). They were equally surprised to find others doing it.

I've seen characters do this in anime, though it's usually presented as cluelessness.

There are many products like this in a few countries - Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia to name a few. Malaysia's 'Mamee Monster' is particularly good - the spicy one.

Name directly translates to "break it break it". For some reason author didn't bother finding out.

That's a pretty ancient review... With two little kids I don't always have time for research on every variety which I'd like to do. Apologies...

Next pregnancy, try plain matzo.

I've used a burner phone exclusively for ~6 months because of lack of financial funds. I loved that thing. Crystal clear calls, and while my fiancee had to recharge her smartphone every night I almost got to 2 weeks without charging and almost forgot that you actually have to charge it. It's a certain feeling of freedom. Unfortunately they don't run Slack so I just got an old S4, bought a huge aftermarket battery for it and optimized the kernel for energy saving and now I can still go 4-5 days in standby. Battery life is like drugs.

I was the last of my circle to switch to a smartphone; I only made the leap about a year ago - the old dumb phone finally died, and when I looked online for a replacement all I could see was senior phones. I decided I wasn't ready for that yet - so marketing works I guess - so bought the smallest smart phone I could find (a Unihertz Jelly, fwiw).

I have to say, I'm not impressed.

* battery life down from two weeks to two days on standby. People assure me it's not just my choice of model, this is the new normal and I should just get into a habit of charging it every night.

* generating dial tones during a call, as call tree systems generally require, is super awkward: you have to slide an unlock slider, then tap an icon to bring up the keypad, then dial the digit you want - all while looking at the screen, because unlike a real dial pad you cannot do this by feel - before the call tree prompt times out. Makes you feel like James Bond trying to defuse a bomb.

* texting is awkward: instead of generating text with nine tactile buttons, you swipe around a drawing qwerty keyboard twice the size of your thumb in total.

* I can't run the blackberry apps for connectivity to work because the Android version is incompatible, so it's no use as a smartphone for software reasons

* The UI generally feels like an unfinished intern project: the phone takes ages to boot, apps are slow to open and crash often, some settings do not survive a power cycle, etc etc. Having worked with many Android devices in a previous job, I'm pretty convinced this is not actually down to my choice of phone model; they're all flaky and people are just used to it. iOS devices are noticeably better in this regard, but suffer from other problems (the worst of which is Apple's disregard for third party software - every OS update breaks something, and major ones break most things, so every year or two all the actually smart parts of the smartphone stop working, you lose whatever you had stored in them and have to switch to new ones).

* The device is too small to comfortably read or browse internet on except in an emergency

Some of that is on me for picking a tiny phone, but the bigger devices aren't really much better until they get too big for a jeans pocket, and fitting into my pocket really is a hard requirement for a device whose primary purpose is something I carry on me all the time to stay in touch with people. Like any self-respecting techie I have a tablet for reading/web browsing on a decent screen, and a laptop for when I want a real computer, so the flaky unreliable value-add does not seem to justify the broken core functionality of a mobile phone.

I have now settled down into a working relationship of mutual hatred with the device, but I do miss the old phone that was just a phone. Maybe it is time to declare myself a senior after all.

"battery life down from two weeks to two days on standby. People assure me it's not just my choice of model"

It's your choice of phone. I have a cheap Samsung phone for work and I don't touch it for a week at a time and it's still charged. I suspect I could get it to last longer if I disabled some of the google syncing (assistant type stuff, checking for updates etc) but it's not my phone and i'm only on support for a week at a time.

> Maybe it is time to declare myself a senior after all.

I think you shouldn't force yourself on a technology you don't like just cause it's popular, i.e., smartphones with a touchscreen. Do try a phone with a larger screen though. :)

Have you considered going back to the feature phone? Something like the new versions of the Nokia 3310 and 8110 would address the majority of your concerns.

This reminds me of my kids responding to my gaming ban by playing space vs backspace in the windows login prompt

Is that like being without quarters, but figuring out which arcade games actually DO something on the attract screen when you move the controls?

That’s amazingly creative!

Back when the Motorola razer was the most popular mobile phone on the market, my sisters boyfriend had the sweetest tiny little flash drive sized dumb phone that I still think would be awesome to own every time I go on vacation and really want to leave reddit/Facebook/Snapchat and even hackernews at home without loosing the ability to call emergency services or fellow travelers when needs arise. Sadly that market is nowhere near attractive enough these days for anyone to care.

If you ever end up in the backcountry, you might want to consider a used Iridium phone. They can be found in good condition for significantly less than a flagship smartphone and check all the boxes for emergency, phone-only devices: small, rugged, makes phone calls, works very nearly anywhere without having to deal with local SIM cards or roaming, and expensive minutes provide an incentive to not use it for trivial stuff. Great for genuine emergencies and quick travel coordination, terrible for anything remotely resembling social media.

There is still actually a large market for these phones in the developing world.

As long as you are looking for GSM instead of CDMA and the frequencies are correct for your country have a look on sites like AliExpress and import them directly from China.

Look at the phones designed for rectal concealment, called "Beat the BOSS" phones. They're super tiny and optimized for battery life too.

Get an Apple Watch, it has cellular

How long does the battery last?

On cellular, without exercise tracking it’ll last for about 10 to 12 hours without a phone, provided it is fully charged in the beginning.

That’s my anecdotal experience

I settled on a cheap iPhone from Walmart for son which is almost totally locked down. He can call, text, listen to music. Not much else. As my child counselor told me "you are either the jerk or the sucker" -- I choose to be a jerk.

I would like to try a dumbphone for a while but no one here uses phone calls and SMS anymore, they have all shifted to Whatsapp and sometimes Instagram, so that's a bummer.

There is a Java ME version of WhatsApp available. Many dumb phones support Java ME apps.

I deleted my WhatsApp account a while ago. Luckily I have some supportive friends who still talk to me and forward important info (a lot of mandatory school info is distributed via WhatsApp) to me via SMS, email and phone calls.

I do talk to less people overall though since pretty much everyone (especially young people) uses WhatsApp or Snapchat as their primary communication medium.

Oh and I'm not really confident in SMS either. It's just a makeshift solution for me. SS7 doesn't really evoke trust in terms of security and privacy.

I think people use SMS and regular phone calls if they can't find you on whatsapp. Fortunately all have the "Phone" and SMS app already installed.

I don't know any way to have a reasonable group sms chat ( requires all sides to have a good app installed) and there is no security at all.

That situation pretty much doesn't happen, at least in the UK. Except people over 70, everyone has WhatsApp.

30, don't have WhatsApp. I use an Alcatel Flip Phone and it's been fine. I've kept my old iPhone 7 for going on holidays, when I need navigation and photos, but day to day I use the flip phone.

41, most of my friends are early 30s. Never even met someone who uses WhatsApp in the USA. (But everyone I've ever met outside the USA uses nothing else.)

Sweeping generalization is sweeping. Not even 50 here.

39, never used WhatsApp.

You wouldn't get a message from me.

I no longer get any minutes or texts with my mobile plan - data only is half the price, and I've never met anyone without WhatsApp.

Maybe try something with KaiOS?

I once punished my then-seventh-grader by locking all the apps on his iPhone for a week with a passcode. A few days later he forgets he's been punished and sends a text in front of me. "Hey! I thought I locked that down!" Turns out he found the instructions online to backup his phone and change the passcode.

It took a bit of effort and technical understanding, and since I didn't even know it was possible, let alone that easy, he didn't get in trouble. (Though I told him if he did it again, he'd be in Serious Trouble, which is the top level of trouble above big and major).

I'm a geek - if you can out-tech me, you win.

One party trick some people miss about me is that for a number of years I carried around an iPad mini (with cellular) in my front jeans pocket. It was my primary and only mobile device. It was somewhat more inconvenient than a smaller phone, but not by as much as one would expect it to be. Having its bigger screen was an advantage in many situations though.

I downsized to a large phone a year ago (partly because Apple neglected the iPad mini and I gave up waiting for a better version to come out).

What was the party trick?

My main device used to be a cell-enabled Galaxy tablet. I would make calls over cell internet with Google Hangouts. It's big but it fit in my back pocket so I loved to just randomly pull it out and pretend I was taking a call. People who hadn't seen it before we're usually astonished, "Holy shit dude, that's a huge phone!"

I guess not everybody had seen a tablet at that time, circa 2013 or so, and it worked almost every time. That was my party trick.

Always having an excuse for being happy to see people. "Why yes, that is an iPad in my pocket"

That sense of humour certainly runs in the family.

Also, teaching your kids about radio is a nice bonus.

Doesn't he know there are parental control apps?

(Although my 10 year old figured out how to bypass those in a matter of days each time I closed the previous bypass-hole... and that was using a rooted OS I could SSH into. So maybe not so effective.)

Using parental controls is a great way to get kids to become hackers and learn to break said parental controls.

It made me change to linux. I'm glad for it.

Certainly worked that way for me. Taught me a lot about injecting code into running apps!


Is "burner phone" Aussie slang or something? Anyway, I like it :)

If you've never heard "burner phone" before, you probably haven't watched Breaking Bad, which was an American cultural touch-stone she mentioned, and an excellent show you'll likely enjoy (and I envy you being able to binge watch it now, instead of waiting week after week for the next episode):


And then there's the "Breaking Phones" spin-off we really all wanted to see:


The actual "Breaking Bad" spin-off "Better Call Saul" has a whole multi-episode sub-plot about burner phones:


You can see how cool that burner phone must have made her daughter feel!

Not just Breaking bad. It's a very common term in all kinds of mafia/heist/drug dealing/espionage/etc stories, long before Breaking Bad.

Yes, but she wrote in the article "It's my daughter who's breaking bad," not "It's my daughter who's like all kinds of mafia/heist/drug dealing/espionage/etc stories". I was referring to that specific cultural reference in the article.

The Wire introduced (actually, misunderstood and propagated the misunderstanding of) the term.

Interesting. Misunderstood in what way? The definition used in The Wire is the only one I've heard.

It originally meant handgun, one that's been used in too many crimes, i.e. is too hot to have in your possession.

The Wire promulgated the phone meaning of burner AFAIK. It may have been misunderstood by the police (Ed Burns was a police officer) or it may have been by analogy.

(I learned this from articles over a decade ago, very hard to pin down now that the phone meaning is widespread.)


"The writers of The Wire did not invent this term. Evidence of its use can be found at least as far back as 1996, when the rapper Kingpin Skinny Pimp used it on the song One Life 2 Live: “Talkin’ on the burner phone, bumpin’ hutch.”"

Happy to be corrected. Nas used it (unqualified with 'phone') with the meaning gun in Ether, but that's only 2001.

It's a common term in the US in my experience, although as the article indicates it is usually a phrase related to crime.

The article suggests criminality, but I think use varies a little by context.

Buying a phone to do crimes? I imagine want to pay cash, get something that doesn't require a global account login, and is cheap enough to toss early and often.

Going through security points where you suspect they'll try to force you to log into accounts, dupe the device's contents, possibly install malware, etc? You might just be looking for something you can buy once you arrive that isn't prohibitively expensive and will be easy to re-sell for most of what you paid before you leave.

It just means disposable or difficult to track. You burn it when you are done with it to eliminate a link to you.

Not sure exactly, but when I pull out my Nokia 106 in Ontario or Michigan, there's a good chance somebody will refer to it as a burner phone.

A phone you can afford to discard ("burn"), either after its first use, or on a schedule, or when something risky happens (you are moving a lot of money or material, cheating on your spouse, etc.).

I just use it for the standby time (nearing a month).

Substitute burner phone with "disposable prepaid phone" and you will get the idea.

Burner phones are a central plot point in later seasons of The Wire, too.

I honestly wouldn't mind a minimal feature super lightweight long battery life cell phone most of the time. Basically phone calls and SMS.

They never stopped making them, they got better and better in terms of battery and weight. But you are not very likely to find them in a brick n mortar shop (at least not good ones), they only want to sell smart phones because that's where the money is. Shop online and there is plenty of choice... just don't cheap out on the £10-20 phones because they will really piss you off with bad UX, they might do mainly calls and text but you will be surprised how bad they can make that experience.

I've got a £50 dumb nokia phone, it's lighter than any smartphone and last for 1-2 weeks on battery (it's about 5 years old), impossible to break, i never have to think about it or worry about it, it doesn't distract me until someone really needs to communicate with me... I love it, but then I never liked smart phones.

I have a £20 Nokia, the only bit of poor UX that I can think of is that it is slow to navigate through MP3 files on the SDcard.

Call quality is really good.

Are there any that work with Verizon? I'm still using a phone that I got in 2011 because from what I can tell none of the feature phones work on Verizon towers.

Look for their prepaid phone offerings. There's some feature phones in that line up, and it'll work with any plan.

On Amazon, search by carrier, sort by lowest price. Some are low end Android, but some are feature phones. In my experience really low end android phones have such little storage they might as well be feature phones. You could only get 1-2 apps on max if you tried.

Because I was curious (and I am a Verizon customer), I took a look. Verizon Prepaid has exactly one feature phone available now: https://www.zteusa.com/cymbal-lte

Amazon lists at least one more but look at the fine print, if it's a 3G model it can't be activated after the end of 2018.

Can you not just buy a phone separately from your network provider?

In the UK i can just buy any unlocked phone I want online and stick my sim card in it, the networks let you use whatever you want. My current phone is only 3g but this has worked everywhere I have traveled so far, Europe, Asia, Mexico, but not tried US.

Yes, you can buy the phone separately from the provider. The issue is if you want to be able to access all the frequencies the network provider uses. If you get a phone that doesn't cover all the relevant frequencies, you will have degraded service.

I carry the new Nokia 3310 and very happy with it. Took a few weeks to relearn how to type a text but I'm fast enough now. (Though keep messages short)

Then best part about the phone is that I'm not tempted to pull it out of my pocket and check social media or browse the web every minute of the day.

It's also one of the smallest phones on the market, fits in the hand and pocket much better than every other phone.

I also have data completely disabled on it. I haven't changed my phone plan yet because I wasn't sure I would be happy with the phone, but Ive been using it about 3 months now and thinking of downgrading to a $10 a month plan.

I don't even have a mobile phone as I enjoy the freedom from the thought that all this technology has created a 1984 style panopticon. Have I had an emergency when I needed a phone? I haven't had an emergency, Project Fear can take a run and jump. Do I need one to converse with friends? I don't have any friends, the only people who get in touch are those that want something from me. Users.

Is this a joke? Please get some friends. I guarantee there are people out there interesting enough to fit the bill. Also you can have a phone without a plan and still use 911 services.

Apple Watch

1-1.5 day battery life, and still needs to have an iPhone powered on and connected to a network to be able to get phone calls, even the LTE models.

It only requires iPhone 6 which you can get on ebay for $100. Don't see the problem with battery life - just charge it when you go to bed.

You know iPhone has amazing MDM controls. Just download Apple Configurator and lock it down. You don't need a burner phone.

FZ One is a really good phone for this.

Parental controls are baked into the OS network stack with a locked bootloader.

Kids are smarter than us though!


No no, a Byzantine punishment would be to get her daughter an early Linux smartphone running a stripped down distribution of X-Windows and a primordial version of Netscape Navigator, without emacs or vi, so she has to look up her phone numbers using grep in xterm.

Actually laughed out loud for this one, thanks! :)

I took very much the opposite impression from the article - rather than allowing a lot of little grievances to fester into a big familial rift, the author did something that's kind of dramatic from a teenager's perspective but also essentially benign. The daughter faced some consequences for being a slob, but she learned something useful in the process and actually had some fun with her punishment. It seems like their bond was ultimately strengthened by this little charade. If that's the behaviour of a "terrible parent" then I can't imagine what you consider to be good parenting.

Suspend disbelief, and don't be so hard on them. They may be exaggerating for comedic effect (the tone of the article is not exactly serious), or not wanting to bother the reader with actual details from their personal life.

Ha. I was judging her for being too lax for letting her daughter have a smart phone at all.

Yeah indeed, I've told my daughter that age 12 is the youngest we will consider getting her a phone, and even then it is contingent on convincing me she is responsible enough for it.

Honestly, I worry most about the harmful social aspects and part of me wishes the damn things didn't exist. Even for myself ...

Separating child from phone addiction is Byzantine?

The Byzantines were known to take their children's phones away. Monsters, the lot of them.

I remember reading Steve Jobs was doing that to his kids. But hey, it’s the golden rule of the trade, don’t get high on your own product.

I read that Steve Ballmer was much more cruel. He forced his kids to use Windows phones.

A week long punishment is pointless. A child's perception of time means a ten minute punishment is as effective (probably more effective) than a week long punishment.

When they’re small, maybe. But once they’re at an age where the device represents a portal to social engagement, I find a complete weekend-and-next social cycle basically approaches infinity in their eyes. A week is usually sufficient, but there’s been times where two is necessary. However, each of my kids differ with effectiveness of different punishment types.

No, even when they're 15.

That shirt ten minute time out tells them that their behaviour is wrong and needs to be fixed. It's tied to the actual behaviour that needs to be fixed. It prevents an argument spanning a week.

It's punishment for a 12 year old not a 2 year old...

My advice holds for anyone up to the age of about 18.

Have you had kids over the age of 2? Because your advice doesn’t hold for anyone over that age.

I don't think it is that simple depending on the age.

I'm willing to bet a 10 year old wouldn't think much of 10 minutes without a phone.

I didn't see it that way at all. Also, the article is supposed to be funny.


Have you never interacted with real people or something? I can think of a lot worse ways to discipline your kid...

Hey, that was fun :-).

Woah, who would have guessed? Kids are resourceful and can adapt?? Go figure. /s

Has anyone tried the user interface of a burner phone?

Recently I tried exchanging numbers with a friend who has a burner phone - a replacement for a lost phone.

Yes, good luck with dialling a number or storing a number in the contacts. Even sending a text is a trial of user experience, an intelligence test akin to solving a Rubik's Cube.

So it is good to see that a 12 year old can work out some of these functions. I completely failed to exchange phone contact numbers with my friend, with ten minutes of trying.

Excuse me for assuming, but you must be quite young to not know how to send a text on a burner phone. I can still T9 type like I'm still a freshman in high school, possibly as well as I can type on a smart phone.

I'm rather young- and I know how to T9 type- but I got my flipper in middle school.

I honestly quite liked it, not that I ever want to go back now.

T9 works OK, and there are other ways too (such as having to push the button multiple times to specify which letter you meant), but I think Hollerith chording is better.

(Also, I do not have a mobile phone and I think I do not want one.)

> good luck with dialling a number

You literally unlock the phone, type the number and press the call button.

Nokias, especially the 3310 model, had stellar UI for text and voice calls. Contextual menus always spot-on, two actions max for getting anywhere, T9 typing...

I think your definition of a burner phone is different than what the article describes. It's not supposed to have much in the way of navigation/UI. To place a call it should be just unlock it, open it (for flip kind), press the numbers and then press the green button :)

I bought one for my 8 yod, unknown brand "Plum" and works great, battery lasts like a week.

In my case, I got it for emergencies.

> I think your definition of a burner phone is different than what the article describes.

A burner phone is Any phone that you can pay cash for and buy air time on it with prepaid air time cards (also for cash). Therefore No One knows who owns it.

On my flip ohone, right now.

Right button (contacts) > Add Contact (First option).


Same as before, scroll down 'till you find the contact > Right click > Send V Card.

One thing I love, on the home screen, want to search for 'Rich'? Type 7424 (Rich) and Richard is listed.. Name and contact number. From there I can press the green button to call him or right click for more options.

Incredibly simple!

I believe many are designed to be smuggled in certain orifices. It must affect their functionalities.

Please don't take it badly, and only answer if you want to, but how old are you? What you call "intelligence test akin to solving a Rubik's Cube" is what absolutely everybody was doing before the release of the iPhone (so up to 2007).

Not sure what GP means by a "burner phone", but I can see a pretty wide chasm between classic "dumb phones" (I fondly remember my armored Nokia 5510 with a weapons-grade antenna) and transitionary pseudo-smartphones (like an Alcatel wossitsname that my grandpa used to have) which managed to get the worst of both worlds (touch screen with idiotic mapping and no undo, etc.)

Funny how I 'must be an idiot' for suggesting this, or stupidly aged.

My observation is a genuine one. When was the last time you tried a modern burner phone?

They are not your grandma's Nokia. They will have a brand you have never heard of and the functions will be upgraded to give lame access to WhatsApp or some other internet functionality that was not around before 2007.

The other thing is that you can quickly forget the strange button presses and hacks that went with the original burner phone interface. To take an automotive analogy, sure we hand-started cars once and you can hand-start them now but you don't get the same handle that used to come with them.

I recently tried to dial a number on a modern smart phone. I gave up and just found a landline. Is not making calls on the kind of burner phone in the article much easier? Just type in the numbers on the physical buttons that have the numbers written on them permanently, and then push some kind of "make this call" button (often bigger and central in some way)?

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