“Alexa, what’s a ‘wiretap’?”


About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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6 Responses to “Alexa, what’s a ‘wiretap’?”

  1. Ben says:

    When they first came out with personal computers they were little more than toys because no “Blockbuster App” had yet developed for them. To suggest back then that a desert hermit would “need” a personal computer would have gotten you laughed off the face of the earth! In my opinion, word processing finally provided that “Blockbuster App”, but word processing brought computers into the workplace and academia more so than the home. In the end, the “blockbuster” app that brought computers into our homes turned out to be something that few would have anticipated at the dawn of the personal computer age; the Internet itself.

    Later on, it was pocket-sized computers that were hardware searching for that “Killer App”. Remember how useless the first “Personal Data Assistants” (PDAs) were? But finally Apple perfected the smart-phone, and suddenly we all “needed” hand-held computing devices.

    Some hardware never finds it’s “Blockbuster App” and so it fades away. Remember Google Glass?

    Right now, those “home assistants” marketed by Amazon and Google are hardware waiting for a “Killer App” that may (or may not) materialize. They may fade away, or they may become ubiquitous, we just don’t know yet

    Personally, I’m in ho hurry to find out.

  2. Joel says:

    Very true. I was a little slow getting involved with PCs, but when I finally scored a technical writing job I instantly fell in love with word processors. Sooo much better than typewriters. WordStar, Word Perfect, Word, I knew’em all depending on who I worked for in the next several years. When I got dragged into management I even got pretty hot at Excel. But never actually noticed the Internet until like 1998, and didn’t find any use for it for a few years after that.

    Still waiting to hear of some useful purpose for “smart” appliances, though. And these “home assistants” where you ask questions of the open air – and get answers – really truly creep me right the hell out. I liked it a lot better when I was pretty sure my tools and toys weren’t spying on me.

  3. MamaLiberty says:

    My sister and I used to talk on the telephone a lot, but then I got so deaf I couldn’t understand much on the phone. She doesn’t like email, but finally found a device to give her middle ground. She has a super “smart phone” and she sends short “texts” to my email on a desktop computer. She talks, it types ( with some hilarious variations) and I read it. She can even send pictures of my grand nephew! Something for everyone. 🙂

    The only thing I need to talk to here in my log cabin is the dog, sometimes. I don’t need or want to talk to my refrigerator or washing machine. I don’t have an “entertainment center,” no TV, radio or CD player to talk to either. Being deaf is not an ideal life, of course, but it tends to be simplified.

  4. Robert says:

    “I liked it a lot better when I was pretty sure my tools and toys weren’t spying on me.”

    At the workplace, Alexa will, on rare occasion, respond with a comment when none of us were talking to it. No one can recall saying anything remotely resembling its wake-up word.

    I am particularly entertained by the response to “Alexa, open a box of cats”; it provides various versions of “meow”. And the occasional “Moo”. Technology, how did we live without yah?

  5. Word Processing came second.

    The first real killer app was VisiCalc — a spreadsheet, quickly eclipsed by Lotus 1-2-3 on an IBM PC/DOS based machine. That turned (for me) three days of running a calculator footing and cross-footing budgets on 13 column Wilson Jones pads (i.e., spreadsheets!) for 12 operating lines in 8 locations into about a 4 hour operation initially.

    Even better, when the VP of Sales came in and said he thought he could negotiate our resin cost down from 34 cents a pound to 31.5 cents, instead of another three days, it was 1 minute operation. It took more time to print out the new budget (using Sideways on an Epson dot-matrix printer — high tech, baby!) than to enter the new cost and hit recalc.

    All of a sudden, everyone in a company who could justify about a $4k computer (64k RAM, TWO floppy disk drives) could work scenarios without having to wait for Accounting to crunch the numbers or the computer guys to getting around to developing a program and allocating time for you.

    Word Processing was nice (I was a real Word Perfect fan until Windows 3.1 with MS Office pretty much killed DOS, Word Perfect, and Lotus), but it couldn’t turn the business world upside down like the spreadsheet did.

    My two cents.


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