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I’m getting a mini language course from my Bluetooth

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

I cut open the package that contained the smallest Bluetooth I have ever seen (for a price that I was willing to pay).

Since I am a certified geek when it comes to these things, I could not wait to start using it.

It fits in my ear, and the sound is incredible. While most of these gadgets bother my ear canal, this one doesn’t. So, it’s perfect, right?

Not really. As it activated and paired for the first time, the Bluetooth announced everything in Chinese. At least, I think it’s Chinese.

It’s not English, or German, or Hungarian, or any other languages I recognize. This was Chinese or another Asian language. But probably Chinese.

I know it was made in China. I had it shipped from there because I could not find one this size in our electronics stores here. But still, I need for this gadget to learn to speak English. Or at least one of the three languages I know.

The instructions were helpful. Pretty clear. Just follow these few steps, and the Bluetooth will start talking in English. But there was a problem. It refused.

Each time I tried to reset it, the Bluetooth just turned off. It was respectful, though, and said goodbye - in Chinese.

I sent off a message to the seller and received a quick reply. “So sorry you have problem,” he or she wrote back, and then proceeded to give me a new set of instructions, which looked much like the old set.

Until I find a solution, callers’ numbers are announced in Chinese. That doesn’t help right now, but with time, I’ll get the numbers from 0 through 9 down and will be able to know who is calling without looking at the screen.

I suspect that I’ll find the magic button pushing combinations one of these days. There is only one button, but I have to push it various ways. The whole thing fits in my ear. They only had room for one button.

I had another Bluetooth that started doing this. It switched from English to Chinese in the middle of its operation. I must have pushed some buttons on that one, but have yet to figure which ones and in which sequence.

Technology can be frustrating at times, even for the geeksters.

“You should have bought an American one,” suggested one friend.

So, when was the last time anything electronic like this was made in the USA? Most of the manufacturing has been in China for decades. The only thing I did different was that I went straight into the Chinese market and bought from a vendor there because I could not find the product in a local store.
Even the iPhone is made in China, although the profits go to Apple, to be parked offshore to avoid U.S. taxes.

My daughter brought me a coffee cup from the Eiffel Tower in Paris. She bought it at the gift shop in the tower. I really like that cup, and it will never be filled with any kind of beverage. But when I looked on the bottom, there it was, the “Made in China” sticker.

It came in a nice paper bag that states: “Tour Eiffel, Boutique Officielle.” It does not say where the bag came from, but I would bet China.

But that’s just a sidebar remark. This is not what the inventor of the Bluetooth, Jim Kardach, envisioned in 1997.

That’s right, the Bluetooth’s name origin has nothing to do with China. Its name is affiliated with the Vikings and King Harald Bluetooth, who united dissonant Danish tribes into a single kingdom and, according to legend, introduced Christianity as well.

When Kardach invented the Bluetooth, he happened to be reading a book about the ancient king, and decided to name his invention after him.

Pretty interesting way to end the column, huh? Next week I may even go into how some other inventions and companies were named.