Talking to Robots

Recent experiences at trying to get to a blood pumping, lung breathing, skin draped human when I’m trying to resolve an issue with a large corporation have been mind crushing.

I will sometimes succeed when the robot voice answering the call offers numerical choices I can respond to with my keypad, but when they want me to actually speak to them about what I want, this technology all too often leads me to blast profanity, at high volume, that could get me incarcerated.

Sorry. I could not understand you. Please try again.

This morning’s call into my service provider was the best example yet proving we are still in the infancy stages of this technology. The large corporations using it do so to decrease their head count, and look hip. Twice in the first call I was redirected back to the very top of the question and response chain after spending 3 to 4 minutes trying to provide the reason of my call. If the police or federal agents knock on my door sometime today I will not be surprised.

Sorry. I could not understand you. Let’s start over..

On my second call in, I responded to every request for information with a 5 second hold down of my zero (0) keypad button. This finally led to being dumped into a call center, and after a 5 to 10 minute wait (no problem with that, my headset is on and I’m doing other things), I actually got to an actual live person. It wasn’t the right person (my bad for the hold down the 0 ploy), but a nice person who sent my call to the right place in less than a minute, where my issue was resolved in less than 2 minutes by another pleasant person.

I really do try to play nice with the bots when they present themselves, but the technology just isn’t there yet. And when it starts listing the different issues you may be calling about, I find all too often mine is not offered as a selection. I do use online services so I almost always search the target corporation’s web site for an answer on my problem, or specifically where to call.

Suggestions to our Corporate Czars? Back off a little with the reductions in headcount in the customer service area, until the bot voice technology catches up as a quality replacement. And the folks in your company managing the bot technology may need to understand the human interface a little better.

Sorry. I am not working well for you. I will transfer you to Margie. She will help you.

An Apple Relic Resuscitated

While in the continuous throes of ridding my home of junk, I found a very old Apple iPod in a drawer. The battery was dead but I was able to find a suitable charging cable in a box of cables, and hooked it up. It took over a minute, but the device came to life displaying the big battery, in the red. After sitting for a few hours the big battery was in full green.

At first power on, a logon prompt was presented, and I realized I was probably not going to get into this device. After trying a number of possible passwords, I was forced to give up. The trip taken over quite a few days to get the iPod working again was tedious, but seeing its out of the box Apple app icons on the main screen was worth the effort. The process of getting it recovered was documented in case it goes fully back to out of the box again. The iPod has been alive since January of 2019 due to making sure the battery stays charged, and that it seems to hold a charge well.

By the model number on the back, it’s a 4th Generation iPod Touch. I was unable to find a receipt or any other record of the actual purchase date, but believe it was purchased it in 2010.

My current iOS devices are on iOS 12.3.1. This iPod is trapped on iOS 6.1.6, the update being installed after it was up and running. This the last available release for this device.

There are zero apps in the App Store available for this iPod due to the iOS version. All Apple apps that came with this release still work as intended. I can see my iCloud email account, and have manually downloaded music from my iTunes library. It cannot interface with the sound system in my car other than with a direct USB connection. This means all music playing has to be initiated from the iPod after the connection is made, making playlists a must.

All the Apple supplied apps that came with the purchase still work: Calculator, Calendar, Camera, Clock, Contacts, iTunes, Notes, Photos (camera roll), Reminders, Videos, Voice Memos, Weather, Maps, and FaceTime. The listed apps may be missing features or settings added through the 6 iOS releases since the iPod’s version.

I have fun with it. Its small size (4.25′ by 2.13′) makes it easy to carry. With tethered ear plugs the music sounds good, and I often use the iPod on my walks. To prevent impacting my data, I don’t allow iCloud access from the device except for my Apple email account. I’m still amazed it can do as much as it does, and that the battery charges last as long as they do. This version iPod is selling on the web for as high as $250, so there must be other folks out there coveting this early device.

Unknown Caller Rage

I’m retired and have a lot of time on my hands.

I’m going collect as many phone numbers as I can, legally or not. I will then call these phone numbers every day and evening, often multiple times, using an unlisted phone number. I will change this unlisted number often. I will ignore the Do Not Call lists.

If you answer I will try to sell you insurance, a newspaper subscription, or play a recording that will tell you that you are in trouble with the government and you need my help to get out of it. I will keep calling, whether you answer or not.

If I get voice mail, I will leave you as long a tiring message as I can, every time. After a month or two, my voice mail will offer to stop calling if you wire a monthly fee to an account I provide.

How long would you put up with this? Would you call the police? Would you try to have me fined, or arrested?

You would probably succeed. And deservedly so. So why can’t we citizens, harassed daily by unknown callers, call the police and get them arrested?

Adding insult to injury, the Telcos make money providing these miscreants the bandwidth they use, and then have the audacity to offer us a priced, monthly service to stop only some of the calls.

Think about that for a while.

Didn’t Wait Long Enough…

I have no complaints with the Mac Mini that I purchased last November. It’s a speedy and dependable machine, and I’m still impressed with the local storage transfer speeds and the number of memory sucking apps I can run simultaneously.

But I didn’t wait long enough. Apple’s recent announcement on March 25 included a spanking new line of iMacs. What a surprise.

Maybe they just wanted to see how many Mac Mini’s they could sell to people like me who were waiting for this news for about the last 2 years. The ones who listened to the Tech bloggers reporting that if Apple didn’t announce new iMacs at their previous new product announcement, the iMac line was probably dead (except for the one that starts at $4,999).

Sour grapes, eh? Admittedly, yeah. But like I said, the beefed up Mini performs very well and I have no complaints. But for the money I spent on it and the 3rd party monitor, I could have purchased a new iMac for the same money or slightly less, and have even better performance and longevity. And a hell of a lot better graphics.

HA! Shut up, ol’ man. Just shut up. And quit your whining. You done ok.

Yeah, that’s the ticket.