Wednesday, 22 February 2012

My Personal Assistant

Our mobile phone contracts were up for renewal and we decided it was time to upgrade the old bricks and come into the 21st century. My partner wasn't all that fussed about what he got, but after using an ipad for the last 12 months I decided that I wanted an iphone. I was happy to upgrade to a basic model, but my partner decided that we needed the latest one with all the bells and whistles.

I was thrilled. Built in internet, apps, a decent camera - maps to make sure I would never get lost again. I was looking forward to Tiny Tower on the go. After setting my new ring and message tones I was ready to tackle the inbuilt personal assistant, Siri.

It can learn, the book told me. Work out who in your address book is who. Make those calls for you, set reminders, tell you what the weather is going to be. It even had a setting for English Australian. Bewdy Mate. Bonza. Life is good.

After a few simple experiments with Siri, I decided to show them at work how capable and impressive my new personal assistant was. I started with a simple command that I didn't think would stretch Siri's capabilities too far.

"Ring Susan"

A simple request I thought. Siri beeped, the little icon spun around and her techno voice came back at me.

"I can't find Season in your address book."


"I don't understand soo ten. Would you like me to search the web for soo ten?"

It must be the accent. Maybe I'm not being Australian enough. I decided to test out Siri's capabilities on the understanding of the often unique Australian language. If she was going to be my personal assistant, she needed to lift her game. Once she had been through a thoroughly in depth language lesson, it should be a breeze for her. I uttered the most Australian thing I could think of.

"G'day mate."

"Hi there Liz."

"Howzit going?"

"I'm going good, thank you Liz."

"Whatcha doing?"

"What am I doing? I'm waiting for something to do, Liz."

Hmmm. Obviously language is not a barrier and it understands my lingo quite well. Now for the test.

"Call Susan."

"'Season' is not in your address book. Would you like me to add it now?"

Nothing like a personal assistant to make you look like a fool at work. Siri hadn't done herself any favours by botching up this simple task, but all was not lost. I explained to my bemused colleagues that it probably had something to do with my accent and she probably needed some further training in that area. I then asked her to ring one of the other girls just to prove she wasn't a complete loss.

"Call Nat."

"Calling Nat mobile."

Ahh. The sweet smell of success. Siri had finally come through. Everyone was suitably impressed. I decided to push the envelope.

"Send Nat a text message."

"Send Nat a text message. What would you like to say to Nat?"

"Hi Nat."

"Sending text message to Nat - Hi Net."

Net and Season are laughing so hard they're crying. I try again, using a different tack.

"Ring Susan."

"Season is not in your address book."

I think I'll put in a reminder to spend some time each day training Siri how to respond. I think I'll do it manually. Use the keypad like I did on my old phone. It's like that old saying 'If you want it done right, do it yourself.' Maybe I should think of her as a new employee - once she learns the ropes she should be invaluable. The potential is there - I only hope she makes it through the trial period. Technology - where would we be without it.

Fair dinkum.

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