Don’t Talk To Me

I can remember the days when having a doll say Mama because you turned her over was a big deal. I also remember when the Elmo doll was really cool because it had a bunch of things in its vocabulary. That was then.

Today my idea of hell is having one of those AlexaTM thingamajigs. I refused to buy a car that talked to me. I’ll be damned if I’m going to have a miniature AI following me around the room with its robotic eyes, chatting.

A recent Jimmy Kimmel monologue generated much angst because he talked about a pancake fight with his kids and ended by saying “Alexa order Bisquick”. Apparently a lot of girly robots around the country did just that.

I don’t want other voices in my home. I already have two cats and a dog who argue with me. Friends come by but I know they are going to leave. I don’t want a GPS to talk to me, or a garbage can, or any of the technology I choose to use.

This new computer comes with (duh) Windows, and that came with CortanaTM a volunteer willing to assist me with everything. She kept trying to be my friend (I kept waiting for her to giggle) – I told her I have enough already. She kept asking me questions – I told her to go away. I think she has, but I’m keeping a close watch because those cute little girly things will try to sneak back into your life and I will not have it.

On top of all the other recent technology issues I’ve had, my phone started behaving as if it was experiencing hot flashes and dementia. This was easy enough to solve. I just called my phone provider’s support representative and ordered a new one. They’ll charge me an extra $20/mon for a long time, but it’s worth not having to drive hours & hours to find a store.

The CS guy was very nice and we chatted about the difference between my weather and his in Costa Rica. It was a smooth transaction.

If you have a SamsungTM phone then you know they started including a Personal Assistant named BixbyTM. The first thing I did was shut that all down. growl

Everything was going fine until one day I started to drive down the Island and got a roaming alert from my phone provider. This happens because our signals switch from the cell tower here to one in Maine but it shouldn’t affect me. My plan includes unlimited calls/text/data to and from the US.

I checked the email I got after ordering my new phone and discovered that ALL my add-ons had been removed. Most of them I get under a grandfather clause and I am NOT willing to let them go. This was intolerable – and was going to be very expensive. Hell, half the Island uses American phones. If I called a friend down the street I’d get long distance charges.

So I set out to fix the problem. As it happened I was heading upriver and intent on catching the 9:00 ferry off the Island. Our time zone is apparently much too exotic for the rest of North America so I kept getting a recorded voice (an assistant) who wanted to send me links. By the time I made it to Deer Island I was screaming NO into the phone.

The rest of the world got to work just about the time I got on the second ferry to the mainland. It took a few minutes to get past the unnaturally cheerful “assistant” and get to a CS representative. I was very calm with him and explained my problem. He looked it up and agreed that all my add-ons would come back and grandfather was still in charge.

Then he said “OK, so now I want you to turn off your phone and then turn it back on. I will call you in a few minutes so we can make sure everything is correct.” There was just one problem. I have never turned off this phone and when I tried, instead of just powering down, it asked me to watch a tutorial on TURNING OFF THE PHONE. It obviously knew what I wanted – why didn’t it just do that?

A friend of mine had been sitting in the passenger seat throughout the trip and the drama of the phone. He is not known for his patience. It was at this point that he grabbed the phone and started pushing buttons. At some stage he must have invoked BixbyTM because she started talking in that annoyingly cheerful voice. He kept pushing buttons and she kept talking until:

  • BixbyTM (flirtatiously): How can I help you?
  • Friend (in a thundering baritone): TURN OFF THE DAMN PHONE

I don’t think this phrasing is included in Bixby’s programing. The good news is that I haven’t heard a peep out of her since.

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