PHIL WIELAND: Developing a Siri-ous relationship with my phone

2013-07-05T00:00:00Z PHIL WIELAND: Developing a Siri-ous relationship with my phoneBy Phil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

Like our Indiana Legislature, I'm having a hard time adjusting to the 21st century. Unlike the Legislature, I was copacetic with the 20th century while they are reluctant to leave the 19th.

I welcomed the computer age even if I didn't understand all of its nuances, in much the same way I like having a car although pumping my own gas is about as mechanically inclined as I get.

When social media emerged, I reluctantly joined Facebook and Twitter a few months ago after my editors said I should unless I wanted to try to get my old job back with Mr. Gutenberg.

I've gotten a handful of story ideas from them so far, but I don't understand people's fascination with sharing their daily lives and random thoughts with their "friends" or "followers." And the NSA, of course.

And I now have my first cellphone. Again, it was a move the company decided was necessary. So necessary that The Times provided a spiffy iPhone 5 and is trying to train me in its use. I've almost figured out where the rotary dial is.

The phone has more bells and whistles than a clown college, and that's quite an adjustment for someone like me, who still believes phones are for making and receiving phone calls. I've grudgingly given in to having caller ID and voice mail, but I refuse to use call waiting. I can barely handle one conversation at a time.

My phone can take pictures, record video with sound, text, tweet, chirp or moo, play games, go on the Internet and do email. It has GPS, a flashlight, and it will record conversations or transcribe dictation. There are thousands of something called apps, and it also happens to make phone calls.

Sometimes I think I've got it figured out, like when I took a picture and emailed it to my editor. It wasn't a picture of me or any part of me naked or anything. It was just a picture of my boss, also not naked, taken during the iPhone training class.

Then, while on an assignment, I tried to take a picture of someone I interviewed, but I couldn't get the phone to turn on. I might have had it backwards or upside down or it was blocked by the sun's glare or sun spots. I just don't know.

My daughter-in-law was mystified when I went shopping and didn't take the phone with me. I never took a phone to the store before, and I certainly don't intend to start now. Besides, I'm a little intimidated by Siri.

I've seen my son ask Siri for everything from phone numbers to directions for changing blades on a lawn tractor to how to dispose of a body. (Really. Just ask her.) I was just trying to figure out how to use the phone and asked, "Where are you, Siri?"

Her answer was, "I am everywhere, Phillip." Now I'm pretty sure she works for the NSA.

The opinions are those of the writer. He can be reached at phil.wieland@nwi.com or (219) 548-4352.

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