Sorry we got cut off, my phone just auto-rebooted

Some time ago, I was on the phone when the connection suddenly cut out. I looked at the my phone display and it said, Auto-restart in 7 seconds. The seconds counted down, and then the phone rebooted, and after about ten more seconds, it was back in business, acting like nothing was wrong. (Except that it just terminated a phone call without warning, but hey, who's keeping track?)

Sometimes I think phones are getting too smart for their own good.

Historical note: This entry was written over four years ago, and the model of IP phone in question has long since been replaced.

Comments (29)
  1. OldFart says:

    As Bjarne Stroustrup put it…

    I have always wished for my computer to be as easy to use as my telephone; my wish has come true because I can no longer figure out how to use my telephone.

  2. SMW says:

    We have a conference phone in our office that does this fairly regularly, even when it is not in use.  You can be having a meeting in the room and suddenly the phone will beep (with a distinctive sound) and reboot.  It's amusing when you are not using the phone, but annoying when you are having a conference call.  As a result, people rarely hold conference calls in that room anymore or simply use the regular IP phone that is also located in the room.

    Our IT guy has looked at it and he cannot recreate the problem. He apparently left it connected to a conferencing service for well over an hour and it never rebooted.  Oh well.

  3. Magnus says:

    The historical note makes me wonder if it in about 4 years from now will begin to come entries about Windows 8 and Metro development?

  4. David Walker says:

    Just wait until your car's engine needs to reboot while you're driving 70 MPH.

  5. Greg says:

    We recently had a major internal network outage at my work and the entire building couldn't access anything on the network.  Since I couldn't email the IT Helpdesk to let them know, I picked up my phone to call them.  Unfortunately, it is an IP phone and it said "Service unavailable".  So I had to walk to the next building and report the outage in person to the helpdesk.  I liked the old days of simple phones.

  6. Joshua says:

    "The more they overthink the plumbing the easier it is to stop up the drain." -Montgomery Scott.

  7. Cesar says:

    That sounds like the work of a BOFH sysadmin.

    "I do not care if any of these phones are in use (and given how many they are in this network, some probably are in use), I want them to apply this important cosmetic software upgrade RIGHT NOW!"

    (Preemptive xpclient comment: Windows XP does that "I will reboot in the middle of your work" thing too.)

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  9. On the bright side, this does make you appreciate the level of warning Windows gives you before an auto-reboot!

    Over-complicating simple things is far too widespread now. My oven has some sort of built-in clock-timer. I have no use for it – I have a watch, phone and kitchen timer anyway which all work perfectly well – but periodically, the timer will decide it's nap-time and cut power to the oven. Other times it randomly starts beeping. (It was supplied by a large kitchen fitting company which has deservedly gone bankrupt already, so no help there.) One day I'll either replace it with a less obfuscated model, or break out the power tools and remove this non-feature permanently.

    I've never had a call disrupted by the handset rebooting, though for a while the clock was wrong by several minutes, and being a university, I occasionally get debt collectors calling looking for long-gone students who had put that number (which was used by a shared research lab, 3-4 years before becoming mine) as theirs. The built-in directory IS actually quite useful, though: it used to cost a fortune printing, distributing and updating paper directories for the old system.

  10. Anonymous Coward says:

    Preemptive Xpclient comment Nº 2: Cesar, you can change that.

  11. Jonathan says:

    I held onto my non-IP phone until I was told they would no longer function.  The Polycom phones we have now are a waste of money.  Sure, they integrate with Lync, but only if I have Lync running on the desktop, in which case everything that is visible on the phone is already visible on my desktop.  What's the point?

  12. xpclient says:

    @Cesar, any version of Windows including XP, Vista, 7, 8 does that but if you know how to configure Windows Update, it won't do that.

  13. Gabe says:

    My wife's "smart" phone reboots itself periodically. I don't know if it's ever happened during a call, but it's annoying because it plays a little song (like the Windows startup song, only for her phone carrier). Apparently this happens even if the phone was "off" and the ringer off, meaning that if you're some place where you need to be quiet (class, a courtroom, a theater, a room with a sleeping baby), you should just not bring the phone.

    We also have a cable box (the kind with a DVR) that likes to reboot (admittedly, sometimes due to crashing) in the middle of watching a show. And, unlike a phone that can reboot in under a minute, this cable box takes several minutes to reboot. You just have to hope that it doesn't reboot during something good.

  14. Mike says:

    Think it is a great example of giving customers features they don't want. My phone has a directory, "services" button which I have no idea what it does, a quit button (again isn't that what hanging up is for?), a copy button (copy what to where?) etc. All I want is a phone. The only feature I think I'd like is if the thing had a button for "outside line" so you didn't have to remember what code they set to get an outside call, even then it is usually trivial since most times it is 9. There is exactly 0 benefit to the end user for IP phones that I've found, all the benefit is for the back office.

  15. arousedboat says:

    We were having a whole-company meeting where the CEO was off-site. He dialed-in over Lync and we listened over some speakers the IT team set up. Suddenly, the audio cut out. The IT team starts scrambling. IMs are working, but no audio… I guess turning up the volume seemed like a good idea. A minute or 2 later, the speakers blast "DROID!!!"

  16. JJJ says:

    I worked at a company where we produced an office IP phone whose speaker "popped" during boot when it initialized the DSP.  I'm sure it didn't seem like such a big deal during development.  I mean, so it "pops" once when the phone powers on, how often does that happen?

    Well, it turned out that the pop pretty much became the phone screaming "LOOK AT ME!  I JUST CRASHED!"

    We fixed it in the 2nd generation hardware with a physical mux that muted the audio path.  Fixed it because it was an imperfection, not to try to hide that the phone crashed.  But it was certainly a nice side effect that the phone no longer advertised when it spontaneously rebooted.

  17. Gabe says:

    JJJ: It's funny that they didn't fix the crashing, they just made it less obvious!

  18. Avi says:


    There's a nice benefit to IP Phones for users.  You can take your phone, plug it in anywhere (within your employer's network), and it has the same number.  For those who get moved around a lot, this is great!  It means your work number doesn't change or have to be reassigned to a new port when the Office Manager decides it's time for a game of Musical Cubes.  You can also bring your phone to a conference room and wait for that private phone call to come in.

  19. Alex Cohn says:

    @Gabe: it's your good luck that worthy programs on TV are so rare, no chance it will be interrupted by the STB reboot.

  20. Pixa says:

    Once the phone had rebooted, did you get a nice little notification popup informing you that the phone had just installed new updates successfully?

  21. @Avi – that's not a benefit, it's a feature.

    For us it means that when a phone doesn't just reboot but completely dies (as has happened) you can't just pick up a spare handset or take on from a desk where someone happens not to be in today, and use that.

  22. Ens says:

    "that's not a benefit, it's a feature."

    I guess I'm going to have to meditate on that one to divine its meaning.

  23. Gedoe says:

    My phone used to reboot with a lot of noise…. While showing "quietly brilliant" on the display.

  24. alegr1 says:

    … and that was when Windows boss finally admitted that a forced reboot is not a good idea…

  25. Jonathan_S says:

    @Ens I'm guessing from the rest of his post the Jalyon Smith is saying that the feature that the phone number is tied to the IP phone has pros and cons, it's not a pure benefit (advantage).

    It has the benefit that you can move that physical phone anywhere on the same LAN and the number still works.  It has the downside that if that physical phone breaks you can't just plug another handset into the same jack; you have to have to reprogram another IP phone with your information.

  26. cheong00 says:

    @Magnus: I think the chance is slim because (from the Suggestion box, topics not inclined to cover)

    •User interface programming in anything other than Win32. (Because I know nothing about it.)

  27. Lockwood says:

    My old Android handset used to like restarting itself during calls.

    Usually during 999 calls.

  28. GregM says:

    "a quit button (again isn't that what hanging up is for?)"

    That assumes you're using the handset.  If you're using the speakerphone or a headset, you can't hang up the handset without picking it up first.

  29. MatthiasS says:

    When we developed mobile phones (a long while back), we "fixed" memory leaks with a feature called "silent reboot", which did what the name suggests – reboot some subsystems without any indication that something was wrong ;)

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