My iPhone 4S turned into a paperweight. A doorstop. A brick.
While I was typing my blog post—wouldn’t you know!—it suddenly heated up, like it was on fire. I ripped off the case and put it on a stone counter top to cool it off quickly. It rebooted. I thought that was the end of the problem. The next day the juice was getting low so I plugged it in. It refused to recharge! It got down below 20%, then 10%.
I took a train down to The Apple Store, the big one on Fifth Avenue. You enter a futuristic glass cubicle with a cylindrical glass elevator and descend into pandemonium. There must have been two hundred people in the store happily perusing iThis and iThat. Some polite fellow approached me and placed me on the queue for service. I sat at a table for a short wait.
A “Genius” approached me. I told him the sad story and he murmured in sympathy. He took my phone to the operating room to look at its guts after it didn’t respond to his mild probing at the table.
The Genius returned. He told me the bad news: it will never work again. For $200 they can………
Rats and double rats!! Luckily I didn’t lose too many pictures, my favorite phone memory filler, but the ones I did lose were priceless I’m sure. Certainly if I can take one photo of a manhole cover, maybe three or four will be better. Right? Shaky hands—er … a sudden breeze—can blur a picture, ya know.
I miss Siri. I miss her (?) mispronunciation of my name and all of my family’s names. The kids (including this big one writing the blog) would spend fun hours saying all kinds of things to Siri including:
- How old are you?
- Will you marry me?
- Beam me up, Scotty.
- Are you stupid?
- Can you dance?
- Don’t talk to me.
- Are you a girl or a boy?
- Why are you so smart?
- Take me to your leader.
- Are you a Republican or a Democrat? and
- How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
We would try to trip her up. We’d howl at the funny answers that the programmers devised, delivered in a not-quite-flat but nuanced voice. Our youngest child would speak to it like a person, with long rambling sentences, which Siri answered with “I don’t know what you mean.” Siri was always patient and would provide hours of entertainment… as long as the phone was charged.
When in America, she is … female and chipper. When in Britain or France, she changes considerably and becomes a male. Apparently “research has shown people apply gender biases even to digital voices,” Huffington Post reported.1 I would switch between the British “Jeeves” voice and the American woman for entertainment. Although they provided the same information, the woman seemed to me to have better humor. Alas, the French man didn’t want to keep company with me too often (I think he knew I was married).
Siri also gave me driving directions via Google Maps, my favorite app. She never said, “No, no you blind idiot—the other left turn!” She would just flash “recalculating” on the map while I pulled over to sort out my error. She would call my mother when I commanded, “Call Mom,” and call my mother-in-law when I commanded, “Call Mum.” She took dictation well, too. Quite clever that gal, even if sometimes she’d translate my name into an expletive!
Oh yes. Watching The Jetsons as a child primed me that robots could talk. Star Trek gave a voice and ears to the computer. I am indeed living in the future.
As I price new phones outside of the Apple ecosystem and venture into the science fiction-ish land of Androids, with sweet operating system names (Jelly Bean? Kit Kat? Lollipop?), I wonder what my new phone’s personality will have. Will it even have a personality? And if so, will it be funny?
Apart from that, I wonder: why do technological items need a personality built in? Won’t this stifle creativity? I’ve already imbued my car with a name, “Fred,” and am sure that it has a temperament. However, Fred doesn’t talk back to me. When I mention aloud, “I wonder if I need to get gas,” not once has it said back to me, “this might answer your question,” and pulled into a gas station for fuel. Also note that I call Fred an “it.” Siri definitely is not an it. Come to think of it, though, the British guy is something of an “it.” Just kidding. I love British guys. I even married one!
Yeah, I will miss you, Siri. I suppose she’d have a witty comment to that statement. When I asked my sister to say that to her Siri, the reply was, “Well, I’m always here when you need me.”
Not so witty, I’m afraid.
1. “Why Siri’s Voice Is Now A Man (And A Woman).” Huffington Post, accessed February 11, 2015.↩
Photo credits: All photos by Jennifer A. Sherry, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0