I have been a gadget geek all my life, drawn to anything new and shiny, especially if it lights up and does stuff.
You’re talking about a man who always has with him noise-canceling wireless headphones, the latest version of a Kindle, a Garmin GPS smartwatch, an iPhone and a bag full of cables to charge all of this, plus a battery pack in case I can’t get a plug somewhere.
For goodness sake, I nearly took up vaping because they look like sonic screwdrivers.
So when Amazon drew up the demographic of the target consumer for their new Echo gadget, there would have been a picture of me.
Echo is a nifty speaker thing that will also do stuff when you talk to it. You can ask Alexa, that’s the name of the AI personal assistant, to play your favourite radio station, the weather forecast, what the traffic is like, what’s on your calendar, to add things to your shopping list, to order stuff from Amazon (natch) to give you a recipe for carbonnade.
And it will tell you all this and more.
I was agog with wonder … then it started to get into turf that was, frankly, baffling.
Apparently, you can ask Alexa to turn the lights down. But to do this you need to have light bulbs that talk to your computer.
Wifi light bulbs? What the … ? They exist? Apparently so.
Now, part of my geekiness includes obsessive checking of reviews on this sort of thing.
One of those delighted with their hi-tech lighting said it was great to be able to tell Alexa to put on the lights in the living room so you don’t – and I quote – “stumble around in the dark”.
What? In your own house? You actually don’t know your home well enough to figure out where the light switch is in the living room?
And there’s more. You can wifi enable your central heating, so you can tell Alexa to turn it up or down. As opposed to walking the 10 steps to do it yourself. Maybe you’re scared the lights will go out and you’ll be left stumbling around in the dark.
It was then I realised Alexa isn’t the voice of the future. It’s the voice of lazy people who are going to be welded to their couch.
Shopping list? I have pen and paper for that? Someone to organise my calendar? I have Mrs B for that.
Voice-controlled central heating? That would be fine if Alexa told you to put a jumper on instead of running up your heating bills.
Gadgets are all well and good, but where’s the line between standing on your own two feet and needing a machine to do the basics of life for you? To do your thinking for you?
So, the Echo is off my Christmas list. I’ll have a cosy sweater instead, thanks.
Wrinklies should make weekends bingo day
I’m a way off retiring but already I’m planning how I’ll spend my days.
You know what that doesn’t include? Heading into a rammed city centre on a Saturday to dawdle around in folk’s way then complain about how busy it is.
For goodness sake, wrinklies have all week to get what they need in Union Street, so why clog it up at weekends for people who have no choice but to go in on a Saturday or Sunday.
Can you pensioners not make weekends your bingo or carpet bowl days instead?
Why can’t the Royals pay for their redecorating?
Begbie Towers is in need of a bit of a freshen up.
Our windows need painting, the carpet’s looking tired and the living room could do with redecorating.
So, I was wondering if all you lovely people would mind paying for that for me?
Sure, I know you have your own things to deal with, like choosing between heating or eating for some of you, but come on, I’m worth it.
What do you mean I’m a sponging chancer? If it’s good enough for the richest woman in the world, surely it’s good enough for me? Or do you think the Queen deserves £370 million of your money spent doing up her house?