Monday, 18 April 2016
At the mercy of technology
Take the telephone for instance. For years I have been happy with a phone at home which rings when people want to speak to me; and I dial their number when I want to speak to them. Simple.
Now they have invented phones with answering machines, caller display so you can screen who you don't want to talk to, memory of numbers you want to talk to and so on.
Then they invented a mobile cell-phone you carry with you everywhere. So the family bought me one because apparently I had to have it. It also takes photos. "Why?" I ask myself.
For ages when the phone rang I pressed the wrong button and took a picture of my ear!
The other day I had a right problem with my phone. The home telephone rang late at night as I was getting undressed to go to bed. Why do things happen at the most inopportune time?
Just imagine the scene ... not in too much detail.
There I was, taking my trousers off when the phone in the bedroom rang. I did not want to answer it in the bedroom and wake up my wife. So I rushed downstairs, trouser-less, to pick up the extension telephone.
I wake up the dog who, never having seen me trouser-less, gets confused and starts growling and threatening to attack me where I don't want to. The cat for once loses his courage and climbs up the curtain.
I reach the phone as it is still ringing. There's no one on the line. Just heavy breathing. Heavy breathing ... and nothing else.
I wait and say nothing ... still heavy breathing on the phone ... I wait a bit more to see whether the pervert at the other end will say anything ... nothing. After about fifteen minutes or so I put the phone down on the receiver and go up to the bedroom.
I then remember that our home phone has a system whereby I can check who last phoned me. I press a button and it displays who has just rung me.
"Aha ..." I think, "I got you you little ****!"
Now all I have to do is press call-back and I can tell you what I think of you.
I press call-back and the cell-phone in my trouser pocket rings.
Apparently, when I bent down to take off my trousers I accidentally phoned my home number on "quick-dial" and phoned myself. I'd just spent a quarter of an hour downstairs listening to my wife snoring in bed upstairs. And it cost me a fortune for the priviledge.
And there's more ... as they say.
Now I have been given some contraption I have to fit in my ear and apparently it has "voice recognition". I ask the phone to connect me with an individual and it does so automatically.
Here's how a recent conversation with my voice recognition cell-phone went:
"Call Rob ... Call Rob ... Rob ... Call Rob ... ... ...
"Rob ... Rob ... R ... O ... B ... ROB you deaf beggar!
"Hello? Hi ... is that Rob? Oh sorry Rod ... I did not mean to phone you. It's this new phone ... miss-dialled you by mistake. Bye!
"CALL ROB ... CALL ROB ... No ... ROB not RON. Wait ... wait ... don't dial ... WAIT.
"Hi Ron! Are you well? I thought I'd phone and say hello. Long time no speak ... yes ... I know we spoke this morning ... I just thought I'd keep in touch ... yes ... bye for now!
"OK ... let's try again this stupid contraption.
"CALL ROB ... Dial it correctly you stupid dumb **** ... damn you ... I said ROB ... Is that clear enough ... ROB.
"Hello Steve ... do me a favour will you ... ring Rob and ask him to phone me!"
I suppose it's my fault for having friends with similar sounding names.
Cars are no better either. I hired a car the other day to go on a business trip. It had a voice controlled advisory service, instead of lights on the dashboard, to tell you what is going on.
I got in the car and switched the engine on. The voice said: "Back door still open!"
I got out of the car and checked the back door. It was shut OK. I checked the door on the other side. It was also shut.
Got in the car again and switched the engine on. It repeated "Back door still open!"
I said: "No it isn't ..."
The voice said again "Back door still open!"
I then realised I was having a conversation with an inanimate object. So I ignored it and started driving. The voice stopped, obviously no longer concerned about the open door which was not open at all.
But then, a few minutes later, it said "Drifting ... drifting ... drifting ..." every few seconds.
It took me a few minutes to realise that the car had cameras fitted near the wheels "looking" at the white lines painted on the road, and whenever I moved too much from the lane I was in and neared the white line the car thought I was losing control and warned me to get back in lane.
This triggered a game between me and the car. Every so often I deliberately moved a little too much to the left, or right, to see whether the car was paying attention and will warn me with "drifting ..."
I then noticed in my rear view mirror a police car behind me and stopped my game in case they thought I was too drunk to drive.
Later on in my journey the car sensors warned me "Too close to car in front!"
It was like having my wife sitting beside me throughout the trip.
Other household appliances are no better. We have a washing machine that requires a University Degree in Engineering to make it work; although I'll admit that my wife and the children find it easy to use. Perhaps it is a deliberate attempt by the manufacturers to give me an excuse to watch TV instead of doing the laundry. If so, that's an invention I approve of.
Our TV also has a system that when you watch a program and say the phone rings, you press a button and it freezes the screen until you finish your call, and then you carry on watching the program. It's like watching a DVD which you pause when you want; but this happens with live TV.
The other day nan was visiting us to watch Downton Abbey, a rather boring program which is broadcast at the same time as football on another channel.
Halfway through the program the phone rang, so we froze the screen. Nan asked what had happened and we explained.
She said, "How about the other people?"
"What other people?" I asked.
"All the other people watching Downton Abbey. Do they all have to wait until we have finished our phone call?"
Can you imagine that? The whole of Britain with frozen screens on their TVs becasue we have stopped the program to answer the phone, or go to the toilet?
Technology has gone too far, I tell you.
We also have a vacuum cleaner that informs you when it is too full by bursting its bag and blowing a huge cloud of dust all over the house. My wife, who lacks a sense of humour, did not find that funny the last time I vacuum cleaned the dining room minutes before we had guests arriving for a meal.
And we have a TV remote control that when I point it towards my wife and press a button it does not lower her voice at all; but instead gets me into serious trouble and the "silent treatment" for a very long time.
All in all, modern technology and me don't mix.
Labels: At the mercy of technology, Beware of technology, embracing technology, Modern Technology, Old technology, Technology and I