Saturday, December 22, 2018

Unwanted Help

I received an email from Google informing me that Google Assistant had been downloaded to my smartphone. I had not requested this facility. Not only that, I had set my preferences on Google Play to download nothing unless I requested it.  I looked at the phone and there was a pop-up screen asking for permission to access all the data on my phone and to listen in at all times to anything I said. The alternative was not that I could disable or uninstall it . Oh no, the alternative was that it would go on running anyway but would not be "so helpful".  Realising it was already listening to my under the breath comments, I said "Go away" and, rather obligingly I thought, it put up a message saying "Popping off". I then looked, in vain, for any way to permanently disable the app. I suspect it is running in background whether I want it to or not and that thought is irritating.

You may say that I should be glad of having something that is ready to help. But get a load of this; it put up some suggestions as to how I could use it. The first was "Play Bruno Mars on Spotify". I don't use Spotify, my tastes in music do not include Mr Mars and in any case I have never played music on my phone. I use my little Sansa Clip when out and about, and hi-fi (or headphones when on my pc) when at home.  I think there was something about booking flights as well (yeah, right) and also telling me all about my busy (!) schedule.

Google should know all about me and appears to have learned nothing in all of the years that the two of us have been acquainted.  It's amazing, this lack of artificial intelligence.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

On the Face of it

You have to be careful when speed reading on the internet. I was glancing over the news headlines on The Guardian website and saw the following:

That's really good, I thought, basing my snap judgement entirely on the headline and ignoring the bit below. Yes, once upon a time chefs were indeed acne-ridden and spotty. The stresses of the job and the easy temptation to pick at leftovers caused all sorts of facial eruptions. But now a generation used to healthier eating and mindfulness has conquered the pustules and cysts; they can march proudly past the Clearasil on the chemist's shelves and casually scratch their chins without a care.

I even had time to ponder the thoroughness of the Michelin inspectors. Not only do they chomp through banquets of the finest food, swill down the best wines and select the most succulent of the petit-fours in case they feel a bit peckish on the way home, they actually go into the kitchens with a notebook and inspect the visages of the chefs for unsightly warts, boils and pimples. A job for a person with a strong stomach in both senses of the phrase.

Alas, no sooner had I constructed this fascinating image than I realised my mistake, reread the headline and noticed the space after "black". Back to reality.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Dr. Commuter advises ... Boris Becker

Dr. Commuter writes:   This is a sad case. Boris Becker, the teen-age golden boy of tennis back in the 1980s, has not enjoyed similar success with the management of his finances and has been contesting a bankruptcy petition in the English courts. Unusually, his defence had constituted a claim that he had diplomatic accreditation from the Central African Republic and hence immunity from the court action but he has now dropped the claim.

This is not the fighting spirit that won young Becker three Wimbledon titles. The CAR may be a strange refuge for a famous German but there are plenty of other countries to try. Why not declare yourself to be a ship and register in Panama? You can feel free to break any laws you like as you move effortlessly round the world, informing Customs and Coastguards that they can't touch you without creating a serious diplomatic incident. Of course the downside is having to live in a dock.

Or, if you feel you'd like to get chummy with an Australian, team up with wikileaker Julian Assange. I'm told there's plenty of room in the Ecuadorian embassy broom cupboard and you can spend many happy hours arguing about whether Goolagong would have whopped Graf and how to make bratwurst out of wallabies.

Leaving your clothes on a beach and turning up somewhere else in the world has worked for some but may be a bit overworked these days. Perhaps the tried and trusty Saunders defence is the answer - drool a bit, let your hair grow unkempt and forget everybody's name. The court is bound to accept that you have irreversible dementia and let you off. As soon as you are free you can carry on just as you were before and they can't lay a finger on you.

Anyway, whichever strategy you use, do keep in touch. If things turn out nasty here at Commuter Towers, I may be joining you in that cupboard.


If you have any questions for Dr.Commuter do please write to us at the usual address. Ambassadors are welcome as long as they bring an unfeasibly large tray of chocolates with them. Representatives from the Holy Roman Empire have left it too late, sorry. Terms and conditions will be waived upon receipt of a suitable emolument conveyed in a diplomatic bag.