More Fun With Technology.

shadowEven though upgrading from an iPhone 4S to an iPhone 6 was annoying and felt like it should have been completely unnecessary at least there wasn’t that much difference. Or maybe that’s why it was annoying and felt like it should have been completely unnecessary. It was like the difference between McDonald’s fries and KFC’s potato wedges. Blindfolded I could tell them apart but only because of size and shape. They’re still just sliced potatoes deep fried in grease and I had to pay extra for the skins but that’s another story.

There have been a few nice surprises like the fact that Siri now has a whole spectrum of accents. Not that there was anything wrong with Siri’s old voice, just as there was nothing wrong with my old iPhone other than the fact that it was a couple of years old and I believe that tech companies pushing the belief that just because something is a couple of years old we should get rid of it is eventually going to bite them in the ass. Anyway Siri can now speak in languages from Turkish to Transnistrian and half a dozen English accents from the United States to New Zealand. So my phone now speaks to me in a British accent which is nice because now if I need directions or to dictate a text I don’t feel like I’m talking to a machine. I feel like I’m talking to a machine that sounds a little bit like Penelope Wilton.

It has been a little bit of an adjustment because Siri does seem to hear things a little differently now. For instance I went to create a reminder to call in refills of some of my prescriptions and said “Call in drugs”. And now I have a reminder that says “Colin Drugs” as opposed to Colin Baker or maybe Colin Hay, although he’s Australian. And sometimes I dictate texts and back when I got my first iPhone I discovered Siri spoke punctuation. I could tell Siri I wanted to send a message to my wife and say “I’m home period see you soon period” and it would spell out “I’m home. See you soon.” Then when I went to do this on my iPhone6 it spelled out “I’m home period see you soon period”. Yes, it spelled out the word “period”. Twice. What gives, Penelope? This was supposed to be an upgrade but this seemed retrograde.

Then I remembered Professor Thomas. She was an art professor I studied under in England. She was American but had married a British guy which I guess is why she peppered her speech with Britishisms. Her favorite was “full stop”. “This is Titian’s masterpiece full stop,” she’d say, or, “Expressionism was revolutionary full stop.” At first I thought it was just a weird thing she said but then I heard other British people say “full stop” and they meant the dot at the end of a sentence–what we in the U.S. call a period, although we also use “period” to mean completely different things. I’ve never gotten over the embarrassment of when I was in sixth grade and reading Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret and I was confused about what a “period” was so I asked a girl and instead of answering me she told her friends what I’d asked and they couldn’t stop giggling and I never did get a real answer until 10th grade biology. And it’s even more confusing when I think about how many women wish their periods would come to a full stop.

Anyway when dictating texts I remember to now say “I’m home full stop see you soon full stop” and this is what I get:

homeEven with the British accent some things haven’t changed, though. For instance:

siriThey should walk into a pub, Penelope. And what gives with dropping the Oxford comma?

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19 Comments

  1. halfa1000miles

    I will have to test “full stop”. I realized lately how bossy I am because I would be driving and talking into my phone and I would want to say “I don’t want to do it period”, and of course I would get “I don’t want to do it”, which is not as emphatic as I wanted to be.

    I am a big fan of the Oxford comma. I am a fan of many unpopular things. I almost cannot make myself not put two spaces after a period when typing.

    That is supposed to mean one is old. Ha! My Android would have typed “I almost cannot make myself not put two spaces after a. When typing.”

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The Oxford comma shouldn’t be unpopular and I don’t know why it’s become that way. Some time ago I read that the Oxford comma had been struck down by–I kid you not–the Oxford English Dictionary. It felt like a parent disowning their child. I purposely use Oxford commas whenever I can as a protest against that.

      Reply
  2. Kristine @MumRevised

    The Oxford comma is driving me crazy! I have tried the ‘full stop’ and she just types that for me and then asks if I have anything more to say when I pause. Siri and I do not see eye to eye or, single home button to eyes as the case may be.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It must be because you’re Canadian. Commonwealth countries confuse Siri because you’ve got the Queen on your money (and also loons) but you’re still technically independent, and Britain and Canada are two countries also divided by a common language, a lot of water, and curling.

      Reply
      1. Kristine @MumRevised

        HA!

        Reply
  3. Chuck Baudelaire

    The Oxford comma rules. I’ve stopped using two spaces at the end of a sentence, however, even though it puts me at odds with Opus the Penguin. 🙁

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      No! Opus the Penguin should come around on this. He shouldn’t be hard to convince. I’ll talk him into it the next time we take a dandelion break.

      Reply
  4. Margot

    I’m an Oxford comma and a two space person, too. And like Halfa1000miles’ phone, mine also cuts me off when I double space while texting and starts a new sentence. The millennials who designed these phones are obviously gerontophobic.

    The book “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” caused me a lot of embarrassment when I was in the 6th grade, too. All of the girls were secretly reading it, so I checked it out of the school library and was actually seen with it. Gasp! I don’t know why that caused such an uproar; apparently you were to have read it, but in secret. At the time I thought that if you were caught reading it, it meant that you hadn’t started your period yet and were dying to get it. How did *you* end up reading it? It must have been very confusing if you didn’t know what a period was! (By the way, I know you’re not supposed to put book titles in quotes, but what are you supposed to do in comment sections where you can’t use italics or bold? Or can you and I just don’t know how?)

    Here’s something weird: Susan Bennett, who is the woman who does Siri’s voice, started following me on twitter (@SeriouslySusan) for no apparent reason.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      In fourth grade I read Tales Of A 4th Grade Nothing and that led me to Superfudge and that led me to pretty much anything by Judy Blume I could find, including Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, although it’s probably just as well that I didn’t find Wifey until much later, but that’s a very different story. Yeah, it was confusing but I loved and still love Blume’s books because she was the first writer who I felt got people my age.
      Anyway I appreciate your being a stickler for style and you can use standard HTML codes in the comments for bold and italics. It takes a little more time to type out < i > and < /i > (with no spaces) but I do it all the time because, like you, I don’t want to put book titles in quotes.
      And it’s interesting what random people will follow you on Twitter. I’m being followed by an account called “billiard cue”. That’s probably because I follow some famous pool players but every time I see that I think “Please don’t hit me.”

      Reply
  5. mydangblog

    I had a similar experience when I was about 7 and I asked my mother what “ejaculated” meant. She gave me a very detailed and lengthy explanation which totally confounded me, because I was reading The Bobbsey Twins and the line was something like, “Oh gosh! Look at that!” ejaculated Bill. I think my mother was a little embarrassed at jumping the gun.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I bet your mother was embarrassed, although it must have made reading The Bobbsey Twins even more interesting. That reminds me of the time a friend of mine asked his mother “What’s sex?” and with shrill panic in her voice she blurted out, “WHICH KIND?”

      Reply
  6. Ann Koplow

    I love this post, Chris. Period and full stop.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      And I love your comments from A to Zed.

      Reply
  7. M. Firpi

    If you think Siri is somewhat bewildering, check out the Apple watch. I don’t have it, but I see people talking to it as if in a Dick Tracey comic strip. The only way to text is with Siri, this is why I didn’t like it.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Everything I’ve heard about the Apple watch is that it’s awful. I don’t understand why anyone would want it. But Apple also has a very loyal group of customers who will buy anything they make.

      Reply
      1. Gina W.

        This is one of the first tweets I ever liked when I joined Twitter:

        @spivey_e
        “Apple could put out a turd with white headphones coming out of it and I would buy it.” #iTurd

        Reply
        1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

          GAH! That’s how we end up with iPhones with the headphone jack on the bottom! What is wrong with people?

          Reply
  8. Sandra

    I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to focus after you dared compare McDonald fries to KFCS, but you had my undivided attention with the whole full-stop vs. period business…and you also had my attention at your story of Margaret’s period…this post just seemed to hit all corners of the spectrum.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That may be because my feelings about technology generally run the entire gamut from crimson adoration to purple outrage.

      Reply

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