Sep 182015
 
Is technology your friend illustrated by iphone

A missing phone (Tell me if you’ve seen her!) can make you wonder. Is technology your friend or your despot?

Is technology your friend or your despot, the device that’s trying to rule the household, if not your entire life? Well, it probably depends on what you mean by friend. If you like bossy friends, you’re in luck.

My missing iPhone, or better stated, the fact that it is missing, has made me wonder about the technology in my life. My phone has been hanging out “near 28555 Orchard Lake Rd” for the last 48 hours, according my to findmyphone app. Which is great information, as far as it goes.

That address is a large office building, one in which no one has turned a phone in to a receptionist, stashed it in the potted plants (I don’t know why it occurred to me to look there), left it in the bathrooms (where I didn’t go), or placed it in any prominent place.

Is Findmyphone technology your friend? Absolutely. There’s no question that it helped narrow down the number of places I needed to look for my phone.

However, like a lot of friends, it’s not perfect. Wandering the halls calling the phone and pinging it to make sounds with three people listening, left us clueless to where in this building the little devil-phone is hiding.

Findmyphone (for iPhone) is also a despot. Having lost an iPhone, I need to log in to Apple’s iCloud to use the app. Since my iPhone is missing, it follows that I have to do it with another device. Having fallen for AT&T’s get a tablet free for renewing your contract ruse (another story), I have another mobile device. But AT&T was giving away an Android device, and iCloud, refuses to play nicely—or otherwise—with Androids. It flatly refuses to let me log in from my alternate device’s “unsupported browser,” Google Chrome. Which means to use the app, I have to recruit a friend with an iPhone to meet me at the office building. That turned out to be inconvenient as well, because she thought we were meeting at her house, and having no phone, I waited at the building for a half an hour, before finding her watching Master Chef competitions in her living room.

The app also has an annoying sense of self-accomplishment. Unbeknownst to me, every time I pinged my phone through the app, I received an email. When I got home, dejected and perplexed, it toyed with my emotions with a “Your phone has been found” email. Liar. It located the building where the phone apparently still sits, now down to 13% battery, yet somehow unfindable.

Is Technology Your Friend or your despot? Word Choices

If people talked to us the way our devices do, we’d quickly unfriend them.

Yet real people program these devices. Which makes me wonder if some of these developers should attend an etiquette class. For instance, I expect better social skills from my husband’s Nook. A bookseller developed it, so subtlety shouldn’t be so hard to come by. Instead of the ultimatum: “Plug in your device or it will turn off.” It seems like a little tact could be programmed in. “Your device’s battery is so critically low that it will turn off if you don’t plug it in.” Was that so hard?

When it comes to despots, Microsoft Windows updates take my number one spot. They recommend auto-updates, so as you shut down your laptop getting ready to board a flight, it can decree, “Do not turn off your computer. Installing critical updates.” What about my critical (non-refundable) flight? Should I just tell the other 200 passengers to hold up a sec, because Microsoft has decided, with no consultation whatsoever with me, owner of said laptop, to update in that very moment?

Ovens get honorable mention on my despot list, falling into the sub-category of passive-aggressive despots. If you lean up against my mother-in-law’s (now my sister-in-law’s, but that’s not germane to the story) “intelligent” oven while waiting for something to finish baking, it decides your distributed weight is equivalent to the pointed touch of a fingertip on the off button. Turkey delayed. Thanksgiving Dinner delayed.

Or my own oven, which has been wanting a repair-person to come visit for a while now. I think it’s frustrated that I responded to it cooking things about 75 degrees warmer than the digital input, (again, on Thanksgiving Day), by going to Target and buying a $2.50 oven thermometer and setting the desired temp roughly 75 degrees lower. (Works, mostly. Plus, I’m not called on to provide emergency baked goods as much since I’ve broadcast the unpredictability of the oven.) Last weekend, it started exacting its revenge. It just turns itself on for 5 to 10 minutes now and again.

My son suggested I store a batch of unbaked brownies in the oven so I can smell when the oven is trying to take over the planet and flip the circuit breaker switch before the terminators have to show up. I’m wondering why they don’t stress flipping the circuit breaker as a first line of defense at the engineering school he’s attending.

Your Turn

How’s your relationship with your devices. Is technology your friend or your despot?

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