Obviously for filing under first world problems.

I have not, until a month ago, had a smartphone. I joined the rest of the people I knew in the modern world when I bought an iPhone 4S. This is somewhat amusing, as three years spent in IT left me with Facebook and Google+ feed full of people posting reasons they won’t ever buy another Apple or MS product. Well whatever, I got a damned iPhone, and those friends can deal.

For the first two weeks, Siri actually did a fantastic job recognizing the names of my friends. I was flat out amazed. It did it right out of the box, and never seemed to miss a beat. But over the past two weeks, results have progressively declined in value. My wife’s name is Kelli. She spells it with an i, and I tease her for it. But Siri handled it just fine until a week an a half ago. Then I would ask it to call Kelli, and it would say I didn’t have any contacts named Kelly. It stuck to this, and eventually I got it to work around based on using both first and last name. Now Siri insists that it can’t call anyone named Kelly McCloud. It handled my last name just fine last week. It brings up, a list of my family members, all spelled Macleod, as an example of how it doesn’t have any McClouds, but it could call one of these other wastrels if you want. But fuck all if you want to call someone on that list, it won’t do it. You have to add the layer of telling it, no, you idiot, you pronounce it right when you read it out to me but you insist on some other spelling.

It’s really this break between the insistence on spelling while still being able to correctly pronounce the names that makes it infuriating. Two of my best friends ever are named Eric and Erik. I will continue to omit their last names, but those are different. When I ask that it call Erik 2 it says it doesn’t have an Erik, but it could call Eric 1 or Erik 2. Note that I use his full name to give it context. It pronounces both first and last back to me, saying it doesn’t have an Eric 2 but it could call x where Erik 2. So, it really gets it all right, but insists that no one would ever name their child Erik or Kelli.

I understand that when two spellings are pronounced the same way, it has to make a choice for display, but it sees that there is an alternate spelling in my contacts list, indexes that alternate spelling, suggests that alternate spelling, but insists that the only valid spelling of the pronounced names Erik and Kelli is Eric and Kelly.

The overall effect is darkly comical. Siri is the spelling police. No you crazy Americans with your alternate name spellings, Siri draws a line in the sand, a line that says Erik is wrong. Only hateful idiots would use a spelling other than the Siri approved one. Have you considered misspelling the names of your friends in Siri to get them to index correctly? Siri would like you to consider doing that.

I’ve read over this, and I think I’m having a hard time expressing how surreal it feels. I just said: “Call Kelli Macleod” and Siri replies with audio and text: “I don’t have a Kelly McCloud, but perhaps you meant one of these “Jamie Macleod or Kelli Macleod” and reads those names to me with correct pronunciation. Madness. I would have just said, “Oh well, it’s voice technology and it’s not quite there yet” if it had not worked perfectly well two weeks ago.

Portland, Teardrop, Wedding

June 15th, 2008

Well, the trip to Portland was nice, though not productive in terms of finding housing. It was instructive in learning about the different renting cultures between Portland and Minneapolis. Here, landlords are trying to rent things two months out. Everyone tries to get things covered soon, so that people have time to plan. There, everyone just assumes that they will be able to rent the place out in short order, which seems a safe assumption based on how things went over there. It did mean though that when I talked to people, they almost universally thought I was insane for trying to get this done two months out.

Today K and I started to finish up the wedding plans. It’s in two weeks now, and I’m going to be going to reunion next week, which means that I need to get as much done this week as possible, to avoid angry calls. It also means that I need to finish up a few things that I keep drawing a blank on, gift type things for people who may be going through customs. Tricky.

While in Portland I also got to go to The Teardrop Lounge which was fantastic. It’s the bar I’ve wished I could find here in Minneapolis for years. The men behind the bar knew what they were doing, but more importantly, they cared. I ended up tossing back three excellent drinks, which was harder on my wallet and liver than I had intended to be, but was imminently worth it. There were assorted good restaurants, and much good beer during the rest of the trip, but the highlight was the Teardrop.

Rings on Hands

September 11th, 2007

It looks like congratulations are in order for the inimitable Mr. Ess. He’s suckered some lady into being the inimitable Mrs. Ess. Good job Josh, and nice ring. I hope your ring shopping experience was less fraught than mine. I also love that friends can tell exactly who the best man is from Josh’s quote.

I went to college reunion this past week. This was more than a little silly, as it was for the class that graduated the year before me. Still, there had been a lot of great people in that class, and I’d lost track of most of them. So I thought I’d stop in and say ‘Hi’ to a lot of people at once. I could only make four hours or so of it, as I had to work, but I drove down to Northfield anyway.

It was a good year for this sort of thing. Minnesota has actually gotten some consistent rain in the past couple of months, so the fields looked lush and green as I drove down. It was the golden hour, and everything seemed somehow more than it had been. I was driving back to some sort of fantasy campus that had never existed. The rosy glasses were held firmly in place by the Tom Waits I was playing.

The weirdness really began when I got there. Some of these people had been strangers to me since they had graduated. There were several that I would have liked to say ‘Hi’ who weren’t there, and a few that gave a general sense of brush off before I could say hello. But there were plenty of people who I had really missed. It’s hard to imagine a more pleasant nostalgia trip. An old friend, Dan Diamond, even got his ass out of NY for a little while. I’ve got to track down a few people now who couldn’t make it. But it has been great motivation to keep up with people better. For those of you I’ve lost touch with, I’m sorry. I make this sort of resolution about once every four days. I’m going to try to write though.

The other nice thing about a five year reunion, is that no one has managed to get so much done that I feel like a failure by comparison. At some point, someone is bound to do something so awesome, that when I hang around them, I inevitably, not matter how gracious they are, feel like I’m wasting my life on some level. It’s really hard to do that in five years. Ummm… grad school… yeah. Time to go I think.

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