paulmck (paulmck) wrote,
paulmck
paulmck

The Old Man and His Smartphone, 2020 Spring Break Episode

Complete draining of my smartphone's battery was commonplace while working from home. After all, given laptops and browsers, to say nothing of full-sized keyboards, I rarely used it. So I started doing my daily web browsing on my smartphone at breakfast, thus forcing a daily battery-level check.

This approach has been working, except that it is quite painful to print out articles my wife might be interested in. My current approach is to email the URL to myself, which in a surprisingly ornate process:

  1. Copy the URL.
  2. Start an email.
  3. Click on the triple dot at the upper right-hand side of the keyboard.
  4. Select the text-box icon at the right.
  5. Select “paste” from the resulting menu, then hit “send”.
  6. Read email on a laptop, open the URL, and print it.

The addition of a control key to the virtual keyboard might be useful to those of us otherwise wondering “How on earth do I type control-V???” Or I could take the time required to figure out how to print directly from my smartphone. But I would not recommend holding your breath waiting.

What with COVID-19 I and the associate lockdowns, I have not used my smartphone's location services much, helpful though it was in the pre-COVID-19 days. For example, prior to a business trip to Prague, my wife let me know that she wanted additional copies of a particular local craft item that I had brought back on a prior trip almost ten years ago. Unfortunately, I could not remember the name of the shop, nor were the usual search engines any help at all.

Fortunately, some passers-by mentioned Wenceslas Square, which triggered a vague memory. So I used my smartphone to go to Wenceslas Square, and from there used the old-school approach of wandering randomly. Suddenly, I knew where I was, and sure enough, when I turned to my right, there was the shop! And the craft item was even in the same place within the shop that it had been on my earlier visit!

Of course, the minute I completed my purchase, my smartphone and laptops were full of advertisements for that craft item, including listing any number of additional shops offering it for sale. Therefore, although it is quite clear that the “A” in “AI” stands for “artificial”, I am forced to dispute the usual interpretation of the “I”.

My smartphone also took the liberty of autocomposing its first-ever reply to an email, quite likely because I failed to power it off before lying it down on its screen on a not-quite-flat surface. The resulting email was heavy on the letter “b” and contained lots of emo and angst, perhaps because the word "bad" occurred quite frequently. This draft also included an instance of the name “Bob Dylan”. I will leave any discussion of the morals and immorals of this particular AI choice to the great man's many fans and detractors.

I can only be thankful that the phone left its composition in draft mode, as opposed to actually sending it. In fact, I was so shocked by the possibility that it could well have sent it that I immediately deleted it. Of course, now I wish that I had kept it so I could show it off. As they say, haste makes waste!

However, I did find the following prior effort in my “Drafts” folder. This effort is nowhere near as entertaining as the one I so hastily deleted, but it does give some of the flavor of my smartphone's approach to email autocomposition:
But there is no doubt about the way the bldg will do it in this smartphone a while now that the company is still in its position as the world's most profitable competitor to its android smartphone and its android phone in its own right and will continue its search to make its way through its mobile app market and its customers will have to pay attention for their products to the web and other apps for their customers by clicking the button and using a new app BBC to help you get your phone back in your browser and your browser based phone number and the number one you can click to see you in your browser or the other apps that are compatible or the app you use for your browser or a computer and both have or Google and you will have a lot more to say than the one that is not the only way you could not be in a good mood to get the most of your life and the rest you are in for the next two days and the rest is not a bad for you are you in a good place and the best thing you could be doing to help your family and your friends will have a sense that they can help them get their jobs done in a way that's what you are going through with your work in a good place to work and make them work better and better for their job than you can in a long term way and you are a better parent and you are not going through the process and the process is going through a good job of thinking that you're not a teacher and a teacher who believes that the best thing to be is that your browser will have the number and access of the app you can get to the web and the app is available to users for a while to be sure you can use the internet for a while you are still in a position where I have a few more questions to ask you about being able and the app you have on your computer will have to do not use it as an app you have for a
And so I have one small request. Could those of you wishing for digital assistants please consider the option of being more careful what you wish for?

My smartphone also came in handy during a power outage: The cell towers apparently had backup generators, and my smartphone's battery, though low, was not completely drained. I posted noting my situation and battery state online, which in turn prompted a proud Tesla owner to call attention to the several hundred kilowatt-hours of electrical energy stored in his driveway. Unfortunately for me, his driveway was located the better part of a thousand miles away. However, it did remind me of the single kilowatt hour stored in my conventional automobile's lead-acid battery. But fortunately, the power outage lasted only a few hours, so my smartphone's much smaller battery was sufficient to the cause.

As you would expect, I checked my smartphone's specifications when I first received it and learned that it has eight CPUs, which is not unusual for today's smartphones.

But it only recently occurred to me that the early 1990s DYNIX/ptx system on which I developed RCU had only four CPUs.

Go figure!!!
Tags: advice, confessions, reminiscences, smartphone
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