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Thursday, 10 November 2016

Calling the kettle black: a rant.

I salute Mark Rittman for coolness under pressure. In fact I think he deserves a medal for gallantry.

I like to think I could cope with burglars breaking into my house - hey, come to think about it, I have coped with burglars breaking into my house - but Mark Rittman's experience would have destroyed me.

It was all a problem, as so often, of communication. 

Mr Rittman has a Smarter iKettle. This kettle is so smart, in fact, that you give it its instructions via a smartphone rather than having to go to all the trouble of manually pressing an ON switch. This means, of course, that you can switch the kettle on from, like, anywhere in the world! 

Should you wish to.

As it says on the website: 'It makes you wonder what you will do with all your spare time'.

Well, wonder no longer. This is what Mr Rittman did with his spare time on the 11 October 2016: he spent most of it trying to persuade his kettle to listen to him.

His Great Trial started when he discovered, a little after 9 am, that his kettle couldn't obey his orders because it was busy undergoing a forced debugging. 

Several hours later, when (as we must assume) the kettle was successfully debugged, it became clear that the kettle's base could no longer communicate with Mr Rittman's phone at all. In fact, as it turned out, the kettle's base couldn't even communicate with the kettle

Still, after some encouragement from Mr Rittman, and a couple of hours of extra scanning, it did seem finally to make contact: unfortunately the surprise of this happening was so great that the base-station re-set itself and lost contact with everything again.

Well, Mr Rittman is a hero, so instead of jumping up and down on the thing as I would have done he patiently recalibrated it, during the course of which operation it became clear that the base-station had only been pretending to connect with the kettle all the time.

I would have thrown the thing through the window at this point, but Mr Rittman is a professional computer person and so he applied his intelligence to the problem. He realised that the problem wasn't really with the kettle or the base station, after all, but with the fact that neither spoke the same language as his smartphone. 

So he set out to act as interpreter.

Being an expert, it only took about eleven hours for Mr Rittman to get his kettle working (luckily he had a saucepan to keep him supplied with hot drinks in the meantime). 

Ever so sadly, by the time the kettle did boil I'm not sure he could find a mug to drink from, as by then his internet-enabled lightbulbs had decided to reset themselves...

A medal. The man deserves a medal for services to communication.

And probably a kettle with a switch on the side of it, too.

Word To Use Today: patience. This word comes from the Latin patientia, endurance, from patī, to suffer.

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