As if it’s not enough to be shouted at by people, who in the face of some obvious revelation feel the need to defend themselves by yelling, I now find myself being challenged by machines that speak.
A few years ago I invested in a speaking alarm clock. It’s a small plastic box that takes an age to set. Once done, it remains silent just long enough for sleep to begin to wrap its folds around me before bursting into life and shouting the date, day of the week, time, but not the time for which I have set my alarm. I cannot help but let doubt get the better of me, roll over and reset it just in case I have made a mistake and left the gas on. Then I go through the entire routine of beating the pillow into submission before the clock starts shouting at me again.
Two years ago the Sister bought me Alexa for Christmas. It, (I cannot bring myself to gender it and describe it as ‘she”) has been squatting on top of my kitchen radio gathering dust ever since. A friend of mine, put her mind to making Alexa work for it’s place in my household.
She began by loading the app, to operate Alexa, onto my phone. The accessibility feature didn’t work and so all efforts to give me a tutorial were lost. Next she tried to make Alexa operate my SMART TV. It turns out that my SMART YV is not as SMART as advertised and is one of a tiny number in the range that does not support Alexa. This is a pity as I can see that using voice activation to operate the TV would be a definite upgrade.
Alexa has now returned to its spot in the kitchen from where it can be instructed to turn the radio on and off, which seems pointless to me. Not one to give up and ever keen to demonstrate the range of Alexa’s ability, my friend decided to skill Alexa to shop. This was a miserable failure culminating in an instruction from the sister to “shop for a boyfriend.” The reply? “I cannot purchase anything that you have not purchased before”.
Nirvana was achieved in the midst of this chaos with the delivery of talking bathroom scales. After the trials of last weeks southern Bulgarian hospitality, I had convinced myself that the previous bathroom scales had broken. How could it be possible to put on so much weight in such a short period of time? The answer. Easily.
The instructions for the speaking bathroom scales must have been written by someone who is double jointed. It is not possible to turn the scales upside down, depress the button that was on the right and is now on the left while simultaneously inserting the batteries. After a bit of improvising I managed a reverse manoeuvre and activated them. Then I stood on them. I stood on them by the open bathroom window while my next door neighbour was outside his back door.
“You weigh,” bellowed the scales, pausing for dramatic effect as if the winner of the Oscar for best lead in a drama was about to be announced, before clearly articulating my excesses through the open window. The scales might just have easily have yelled, “well what did you think would happen if you ate the full range of the fruits of the Black Sea and washed it down with red wine? Idiot”
The bad news is that I no longer believe the previous scales were broken which means I have just added to landfill needlessly and wasted £37. The even worse news is that the neighbour is now privy to something that I maintain a need to know approach to. The good news is that I have now managed to operate the volume control. None of this has stopped me eating.