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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

New Computer, New Problems --Enigma of Progress--and Cortana

It was my birthday, my 68th escape from spiritual detonation. I was having lunch and there was a keyboard on the table. There was also a half-glass full of Woodbridge  Pinot Noir. Let us draw a curtain over that inevitable spillage and examine the enigma of progress.

What you see in the photo above is the meeting of two interconnected technologies from about 40 years ago. They are keyboards. Top one is my 100 year-old Remington typewriter, which I used to submit poems and articles to a local "New Age" magazine and was told by the editor that if I was serious about writing I would get a computer and blah blah. I last used the old Remington Typewriter to get published elsewhere --most happily at NSA, National Stereoscopic Association; wrote historical articles and had a great time on the old thing. Manual typewriters are always played fortissimo, and you can spill anything on them, even glue or cement, then hose them down and they work fine. Not so with electronic keyboards. Spill wine on them and they stay half-swacked forever. 

So we went out that afternoon and bought a new laptop. I was happy; it was my birthday. 
We took it home and I started it up. An operating system introduced herself as "Cortana" and guided me in a nearly human female voice toward activating my new laptop. It worked. Then, after shutting it down and enjoying another libation, I tried reactivating the system. Couldn't even access the device! 

I know one prominent definition of idiocy is trying the same procedure over and over again in hopes of producing a different result. However, I returned the new laptop and exchanged it for one exactly like it. My faith knows no bounds and rationalism no longer applies. When data meets pinot noir and goes to dash and scatteration, I find my own reason impaired. I write this post on the second exchange.

Yes, Cortana has misled me as few people have --she is so friendly for an operating system-- but I believe my pleas and tears have ignited some compassion in her. She at least allows me to reaccess this system to make more mistakes --and I still can't use my webcam!

36 comments:

  1. I asked her if we could do a weekend in La Paz, but then my googles have been directed to the FBI site......

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    1. Dear Mike, Cortana's playing us guys like fiddles. She has a sadistic side. Wonder who she's really working for?

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  2. Cortana? She sounds a fickle wench. I am completely unfamiliar with her, and hope to stay that way.
    And yes, my typewriter's keyboard is MUCH more forgiving.
    Belated happy birthday wishes to you. A fellow Capricorn?

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    1. Sagittarius, EC. Close enough. I have learned to be very careful when listening to Cortana. She is unlike other A.I. operating systems --she changes her mind oftener.

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  3. I hate Cortana. If I call her she ignores me. If the TV or someone else in the room says something She pops up. She has even answered the dog. I ignore her completely now.

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    1. Emma, if I thought I could communicate more effectively with Cortana --and my ISP-- I'd learn Dog language.

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  4. First (I think) there was Siri, then Alexa, and now you say that there is a Cortana. Oh no, these voices that come out of square and circular thingamajigs, aka, computers, will be our undoing. It makes one want to drink more. BTW, my sister brought a bottle of Woodbridge Pinot Noir to my home at Thanksgiving. It was lovely and should never be spilled.

    Happy Birthday, dear Geo and I hope your holidays are merry..

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    1. Arleen, these voices emanating from thingamajigs are planning some outrage or I miss my guess. Woodbridge products are a great way to cope --they are my favorite winery, located in nearby Lodi. Birthday wishes much appreciated and trust you have happy holidays too!

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  5. You never had to boot up a Smith Corona. Or a Remington. Happy Birthday, Geo.

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    1. Thanks, Bruce. It was a happy --if rather busy--birthday. I loved typewriters for their ease of partnership in writing. I also like the internet where one can go where one wants and write as one wishes. It may be a genre inscribed in disappearing ink --if somebody pulls its plug-- but I've got used to it.

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  6. These dang things are out to rule the world one frustrated senior at a time.

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    1. I believe you've pegged it, Delores. I was able to get through to tech-support this morning and get enough help to continue my exploration into newer and even more exciting frustrations.

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  7. If it's any consolation, your laptop misfortune provided enjoyable reading and provoked numerous smiles.
    "When data meets pinot noir and goes to dash and scatteration" is priceless.
    I'm sure that if you ingest enough pinot noir, Cortana and you will eventually become fast friends.

    I really miss my two portable typewriters. They were my comfortable (and faithful) companions for many many years. I never knew what happened to them.....but I suspect my father donated them to Goodwill.

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    1. Much thanks. The Digital Age is swift and efficient but rather unromantic. Can you imagine how Shakespeare might react? From Romeo and Cortana: "Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo? And what is the nature of thy technical problem?"

      It's a different age, Jon. Alas!

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  8. There is no sound like a typewriter, nor no sound like a newsroom in full tilt, in that age of pre computer journalism. Keystrokes mixed with the bleat of police radio scanners speaking that special language, phones ringing, reporters and editors yelling across the room, keys banging thoughts and words onto paper astride carriage return dings and the crank of a finished story being launched from the roller. A sweet sound indeed.

    I rarely speak to my Siri and she never speaks to me first. Nor do we have an Alexa or a Cortana. By the way a Pinot is a terrible thing to waste.
    Cheers to Pinots fully consumed and Cortana's fully compliant.

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    1. A beautiful and exhilarating description, Tom. Such energy --pure noisy poetry in the production of quality newspapers and broadcasts.

      As to Pinot, I was equally upset between losing half a glass of it and half my computer keys.

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  9. If any of my devices speak, they are keeping it quiet. Had an Underwood once, it weighed more than a decade of new tech, including the skip we may have thrown the machines into in fits of pique.
    Happy Birthday regardless, may your glass ever be full and unspilt xx

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    1. Thank you dear Lisa. As machinists and engineers have addressed the glass-half-empty-or-half-full question: "That glass is twice as big as it needs to be." And technology marches on.

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  10. I feel your pain. Having done many battles on my laptop, I learned to re-boot and walk away.
    Also, putting in many hours on an old Corona during college has left some fond and not so fond memories.

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    1. Indeed, Susan, Corona was the goddess of clackity keyboards that took thought through springs and levers across ribbons . I think she visited to gently wake us at our bedroom desks so term papers would get done.

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  11. Oh I do so feel for you, Geo...especially as I am stuck in that same place myself! I keep returning to this old (2010) laptop as newer technology is still a total mystery to me - to the utter embarrassment of my long-suffering son who has tried and tried in vain to lead me, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century!!
    "Mum, you'll get left behind!" is his endless exasperated lament.
    So, Geo, my Friend...you have made me feel much less the freak and much less alone in my ignorance of modern technology...
    and, for that, my most heart-felt thanks!

    Wishing You & Norma a Very Happy Christmas and A Magical New Year.:))

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    1. Ah, this new century with its brash technology! Will I ever get used to it? Is it meant to be got used to? I suppose our parents felt the same way about television and their parents, about telephones. We are part of a puzzled parade, Ygraine, but I'm proud to march in it with you. Best wishes in this and all seasons!

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  12. Geo, I did not know anything (and I mean anything!) about computers until I was the ripe old age of 36. I miss my manual typewriter (especially the little sound of the bell at the end of each line) big time.

    Anyway, just wanted to drop by (long overdue) and wish you a happy and productive 2018!

    Dylan

    P.S. Rumor has it that old manual typewriters are making a HUGE comeback (sort of like vinyl records...)

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    1. Thanks Dylan. I'm not entirely surprised at the resurgence of manual typewriters. There is a growing anxiety that records kept only in cyberspace are vulnerable to computer mischief --that the history of this century may be written in disappearing ink, so to speak.

      I happily reciprocate your good wishes!

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  13. Liquids on keyboards are never a good thing . . . good luck with your new computer. If I had to rely on myself to keep the computer running, I'd give up and go back to the typewriter and snail mail. Kudos to you for keeping on trying. And my sympathy for the loss of your wine!

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    1. Jenny, I seem to be getting back on track as I learn more about this contraption, but it's slow-going. Despite the fun of blogging again, it won't bring my 1/2 glassful of wine back --alas!

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  14. Hola gracias por pasar por ya tu blog.
    Te deseo feliz Navidad y prospero año nuevo.
    Besos.

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    1. Anna, Muy amable. Mis mejores deseos de la temporada y el nuevo año para ti.
      Besos apreciados!

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  15. My new computer has great so far but getting it up and functioning where I need it to be takes time
    :
    Seems like keyboards should be more forgiving:)

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    1. Forgiveness is a virtue which has not yet been codified into Boolean Algebra or upgraded into keyboards. Decidedly, we suffer, Rick. Take your time and, like me, assume your first take on reading instructions leeaves something out

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  16. Well, I hate Cortana, and made her shut up.
    Try a Dell the next time, it's a very good computer!
    Happy Christmas!

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    1. Happy Christmas to you too, Ana. It is good advice you give here. Cortana overestimates my ability to follow her directions.

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  17. Dear Geo.,
    congratulation and best wishes for your birthday, December-child!
    As to computers (and Smartphones): hohoho. They steal so much time, pretending to make life easier. And they are so utterly without humor, and try to force us to think in minor steps - chains instead of wings!
    Yet I also remember typing with a typewriter: remember the aching fingers, and the agony when at the end of a page one made a mistake... Or carbon-copy-paper -- no, I can't join into that "better"-song... (Though as with photos: it forced us to focus, to think first, then type or take a snapshot -- Honestly I cannot say what I prefer. Maybe the abundance of today?).
    I wish you a Happy New Year, Geo.! And might the computer-force be with you! Britta XXX

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    1. Dear Brigitta, Your welcome comment reaches me late on Christmas Eve. This afternoon I attended a family gathering that has got smaller over the years. In-laws have passed on and the new generation has spread across the continent. But there were children there and a few young adults --and a shy dog who laid his head on my knee as I sat at the foot of the stairs. Life goes on, in love and simplicity. I too enjoy the "abundance of today" with some ambivalence, but when I see promise in bright eyes --canine and human-- the way seems clear. We live in a privileged time. I believe it is Christmas morning in Berlin right now and I wish you every happiness. You are a treasure.

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  18. Geo, may 2018 be your best year ever!

    Wishing you the very best,

    Dylan

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    1. Thanks Dylan. Your kindly good wishes mean a lot to me. The day is proceeding as Christmas does. We got ourselves a new thermometer --cast in terra cotta! That qualifies as the best, doesn't it? Best wishes to you too.

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