Most of us have probably uttered a word or two under our breath (or perhaps a bit louder) when our text message gets auto-corrected to some embarrassing or inane word that we didn’t intend. It seems the phone has a mind of its own.
Far be it for me to criticize the amazing technological advancements made in the last 50 years – not knowing my diodes from my cathodes or my RAM from my ROM. But I think we’re all past the days when the VCR flashes 12:00 continuously because no one knows how to set the time on the darn thing. (Millennials will have no clue what I am talking about!)
Certainly, technology is slowly becoming “idiot proof”. One day machines may be able to problem solve independently. In fact, I have already had several glimpses of either a very ingenious programmer who is yanking my chain or a very clever machine.
For example, it’s taken me a long time to understand the inherent stubbornness of my scanner. This is a wireless program attached to a sophisticated, top-of-the-line personal print/fax/scan/copy/clip-your-toenails machine.
After placing the document face down on the glass, I click on the “scan” button on my computer (it took a week of my life to sort out that it didn’t work by pressing the “scan” button on the scanner– which seemed intuitive). The first message I see after the little wheel goes round and round for 10 seconds is “Device not found”. Every. Time.
Initially I desperately searched the net for help to troubleshoot the problem. I uninstalled and reinstalled programs. I unplugged and replugged; rebooted; cleaned the glass; checked the wires, etc, etc. I was on hold for 35 minutes with the manufacturer – only to be disconnected!
Finally, in my desperation, I clicked the scan button repeatedly. The little wheel went round and round for another 10 seconds but this time the message was different, “Device busy”. Progress. So, the program could see the scanner after all, it just thought it was busy. I pressed “scan” again. “Device busy”. Once more with prayer and supplication. Voila! – “Scanning”! I heard the wonderful hum of the scanner moving back and forth over my document!
To this day, I have to press “scan”– read “device not found” then press it again to see “device busy”, maybe once or twice more until the program says to itself, “Hey, there is a scanner here and it’s connected, I guess I have no more excuses. Scanning. . .”
I have a paper shredder that literally has to be seduced into turning on. I learned after all sorts of on-line advice – including using oil to lubricate things (to carry the sexual innuendo to the extreme) – that there was a very specific routine that works with this particular shredder. One must take the paper and gently put it in the slot. Keep holding it. Nothing? Lift it up. Put the edge in the slot again. Back out. You should hear a little “rumble” then in and out a couple more times and the thing springs to life and devours the paper! After getting it going the first time for the day, it will behave for a while, but if you want to shred something hours later you will have to start the tease all over again. Unbelievable. I never bothered taking the thing back to the merchant –not sure how to explain this with a straight face.
I must say, however, that some machines are almost like beloved pets. My previous printer was a little machine that wiggled from side to side when it was printing out a document. Upon finishing the task, with the last page in the tray, it actually sang a little ascending “blub blub blub blub” – exactly like R2D2 from Star Wars! I interpreted it as, “All finished. Come and see!” I miss that little guy!
Yes, now I’m starting to anthropomorphize my machines. We all do it. Don’t you have a name for your car? Don’t you say “thank you” to Siri after she gives you the information you just requested? Haven’t you ever yelled at the GPS for telling you to turn left when there is no left turn allowed?
See? It’s happening.
We’ll have to be on our toes or someday these machines will take over the planet!
Or have they?
Other blogs posts by Shannon Lee looking at the lighter side of life:
Nicer in Nice (topless sunbathing)