when technology lets you down

The trouble with technology

By Anna Trevelyan cropped-anna-pic-2-e1436354275658.jpg

Technology is, overall, a good thing I’m pretty sure. I rarely get lost anymore, I don’t have to schlep to Tesco as often and I can pretty much find my own answer to any question (even the embarrassing ones, like ‘where is Eritrea’) without people laughing at me. However, I have come to the conclusion that some technology can cause as many problems as it solves.

(Not very) smart-phone

My worst example of ‘technology terror’, as I have now named it (a sudden attack on innocent victims from the very technology built to help the poor sods) was a smartphone I had a few years ago. Safe to say I will never buy a Nokia ever again, no matter how many pretty colours they make it in. This phone nearly ruined my life. Yes, it may have had its issues with me (being a bit bashed about, having a small amount of wine spilled over it and probably not being duly appreciated on account of it being a bit slow) but it went two steps too far to seek its revenge. Firstly, it decided to swap all the names and numbers around in my address book. My cousin became my mum, my office became my local takeaway and, worst of all, my husband became Nigel from work. Not only was I bellowing down the phone to a stunned local restaurant owner but I was sending some highly inappropriate messages to my colleague. (Nothing too bad you understand – more like “meet me at the cinema tonight!” and ‘”morning, gorgeous!”. His poor wife.) THEN the phone of doom decided to start uploading photographs straight to Facebook without any warning. This could have been VERY bad. Very bad indeed.

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Autocorrect issues

Predictive text can be a nightmare. We’ve all been there – on the old keypad phones I received daily messages saying “hi bomb” (I dread to think how many of my friends are on the M15 watch list) and the latest versions aren’t much better. ‘Houses’ can become ‘hookers’, ‘Santa’ becomes ‘Satan’ and ‘epi pen’ becomes ‘epic penis’. Maybe I should just go back to using pens and paper.

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(Another quick point: text speak. LOL is my least favourite. Floppy, incoherent connotations aside, there is a huge generation gap in the understanding of this ridiculous acronym. Young people obviously use it for laughing out loud, whereas older people use it for ‘lots of love’. I actually once received the following text: ‘Hope the funeral goes well. I’ll be thinking of you. LOL.’ For the sake of all of us please let’s just put a stop to it.)

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Internet history – to clear or not to clear?

Often having the internet history at your fingertips is a useful tool, such as when you can’t remember what you did yesterday let alone what that site was with the best brogues. BUT for many men, curious Googlers or unproductive workers this is a killer. Some of you will know exactly what I’m talking about and you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. A note to those concerned: an empty history is just as suspicious, in my humble opinion!

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Google ad embarrassment

It’s really humiliating when you are looking at the Guardian website on your lunch break and all of a sudden large adverts for bras pop up (I was clearly looking for some new undies on my home computer when know-it-all-Google decided to transfer my desktop to where I was now logged in). Sorry Google, but sometimes it just isn’t appropriate to remind me that my cup size is low on stock. (A word also to some of the gentlemen who read one of my previous blogs and are now inundated with adverts for peplum swimwear. Google, in its infinite wisdom, clearly assumes you’re a cross-dresser, and if that isn’t the case I sincerely apologise.)

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Parking assist/desist

My normal car is far too old and battered up to boast something as hi-tech as parking sensors, but if I ever hire a car or drive a work vehicle they insist on adding these pesky features. Maybe I’m just too slap-dash to use them properly but they seem to constantly judge my (perfectly adequate) parking technique and scream about how close I am to a lamp post when we all know I’ve got miles of room. So I ignore them. I think I’ve destroyed more boarder topiary and mounted more pavements when I have these sensors at my disposal, so these are going on the list.

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This one actually wasn’t me.

Indecisions, indecisions

Technology allows us to scan, search and compare so many retailers that this makes my decision making even more drawn out. Although this often allows me to get the best deal (which is great) I’m sure using up my entire month’s data allowance whilst dawdling about in John Lewis renders my £1.50 saving on a frying pan a bit of an empty victory.

'I like the dress but let me do a little comparison shopping, on the internet, first.'

‘I like the dress but let me do a little comparison shopping, on the internet, first.’   A Bacall.

Second screens

They say our TV watching habits are changing, and that barely anyone sits watching just one screen anymore – they have two! Although I’m the first to admit having access to IMDB whilst watching a TV drama is great (it saves about fifty “who is that man?”, “was he in Mrs Doubtfire?” and “he looks a bit like Terry Nutkins” style conversations) it’s also a right pain. It’s distracting, it’s annoying and it puts me on edge when we are all looking at different things. The latest ‘second screen’ technology is going to actually listen in and bring up ‘helpful’ information when it hears us commenting on it. Scary stuff. So my phone will soon be filled with pictures and facts about Terry Nutkins, apparently. They will be listening to every word: don’t say you haven’t been warned.
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Nuisance caller crisis

In the old days, my Mum would never let me answer the house phone as the lines seemed to be riddled with early 90s phone pests. I was warned about how my sister would pick up the phone and be met with heavy breathing and some rather unusual noises being broadcast down the receiver from some odd bod who never actually spoke. This doesn’t seem to happen any more (I guess they have Google for that). We are now inundated instead with calls on our mobiles from PPI salespeople, aggressive call centre workers asking about that recent ‘accident’ you allegedly had, and recorded robot voices trying to tell us something weird late at night. Call me crazy, but I’d actually rather go back to huffing noises on the house phone. At least you can ignore the phone, unplug it or just leave the receive off the hook so their bill keeps going up (oh, the hilarious tricks we used to do!). It’s harder to ignore my mobile as I’m usually so busy using it. Sorry, switch it off you say? What? How would I check my email, update my status, find my way, look up swim times, find Eritrea, check the weather or complain to South West Trains? Technology might be a right old pain but I don’t half use it.

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