Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spirits in the material world

The story you're about to hear is true. Only certain details have been changed, to protect the mental capacity of the author.


Computer: "Hello, and welcome! Thank you for calling Hewlett-Packard. Para supporto en espanol, blahdibladibla. Let's get started! [sounding helpful and concerned] I need to ask you a few questions. When you hear what you need, just tell me. Remember, you need to speak up so I can hear you, puny human."

Cous: "I would like to ask a question about my plotter-"

Computer (interrupting): "That is not an option. Please repeat one of the following options: to buy stuff, say 'buy stuff,' or try 'marketing' or 'replacement parts' or 'technical support.'"

Cous: "Technical support."

Computer: "Okay! Technical support! Please repeat the name of your product when you hear it, and don't worry about interrupting me."

Cous: "Alright, as long as you don't mind-"

Computer (interrupting): "That is not an option! Please say one of the following: printers, computers, personal electronics, cameras, prune juicers..."

*Long pause*

Computer: "To hear more products, say 'more products,' dummy."

Cous: "More products."

Computer: "Alright! More products! I'd wet myself I'm so excited, if only I had the capacity to do so! Please repeat one of the following: software, robots, rock, paper, scissors, Pantene Pro-V..."

Cous: "Printers."

Computer: "That is not an option!"

At this point, Cous is forced to hang up, because his phone-holding hand has to prevent his other hand from strangling him, a la Dr. Strangelove.

The chances of this reaching the right people are negligible, but please. Please, I beg of you. If you design telephone support systems, do not EVER make them voice-prompt operated. It does not make the computer resemble a human being, except that I begin to think that it is capable of hatred on a superhuman level.

If I am communicating with a machine, I am perfectly happy to do so by pushing buttons. What I am not interested in doing is repeating its own phrases back to it, like a dog which has been commanded to "speak." When you have invented a computer which can actually respond to questions, get back to me, but when it is only capable of recognizing the same twelve phrases it spits at me, and then you subject your paying customers to interaction with this unutterably obnoxious machine, I refuse to call this anything but an insult to my personhood and an affront to the very concept of speech.

**end rant**

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ashes To Ashes...

... to Ash? Ah, never mind. It's Ash Wednesday today for those of you who weren't aware, the first day of Lent. But what am I talking about? Of course you already know what day it is (and isn't).

As Cecelia was kind enough to point out, Feminine Mind Control Day is only a week away, followed on the fifteenth (as facebook has informed me) by National "That's What She Said" Day, a made-up internet holiday enjoyed by double entendre enthusiasts everywhere. I have to admit that short of completing Plan 50-WD ahead of schedule (highly unlikely at the current rate at which funds are coming in around here), I have no idea how to celebrate FMC Day this year. It is, to the best of my memory, the first FMC Day since the start of our relationship (whenever that was) that Lindsey and I are likely to be in the same town for holiday. We have no established tradition here. Of course on its surface it's a fairly stupid holiday anyways, but that's what makes it so clever. Here is one day of the year where no matter how much she rolls her eyes (and she will), I get to give her some mushy card, gift, and flowers, and there's nothing she can do about it. That is the power of FMC Day. The only problem is that I'm stumped. What do I do?

Comments, as always, are welcome.