Cortana- Petulant, Mischievous or an Existentialist in Crisis?

As you will recall, recently I expressed puzzlement and not a little concern over Cortana. She seemed to display a certain wayward and unfocused streak. Initially, I wondered if this was to do with some newness in matters and was thus my intention to leave well alone and hope all would settle down.Interludes with Cortana

This has not been the case.

Of late due to the visit of two very active grandsons, my attention was diverted elsewhere, and I was not paying attention to my laptop. On finally returning it was obvious Cortana had not taken this well.

To begin with, she appeared to feel I should have kept up to date with things and started firing questions at me.

She wished to know what was the status of Flight AA236. She should know by now flying around from nation to nation is not something which appeals to me. Where this flight was and what it was up to was quite beyond me.

My silence caused her to take a more patronising tone. And she suggested there should be a less taxing topic. She asked me what the latest score of a soccer match involving Chelsea FC. Now, this was insulting. Had she bothered to check my browsing history she was have realised for reasons of matrimonial harmony it is the affairs and status of Aston Villa FC which concerns this household. Not even the proverbial two straws would be considered over Chelsea FC.

Since there was no response to these questions she resorted to trying to play misleading tricks.

She told me when I should pay certain bills.  These attempts had a sinister tone, as the dates she supplied were always late.

Although one is always told to ignore these things, I was concerned, she needed supervision just in case in a fit of petulance she tried to interfere with some of my files. She might get at my latest book and mischievously insert disruptions to continuity or sudden character changes.

So, there were unexpected and random visits to her.

These brought about a certain contrition which seemed to have an existentialist air about them.

On one occasion there was a phrase which held an achingly desperate appeal, it read:

‘My groceries’

This quite touched me. Although it was not clear whether she was embarking on a career in playwriting and this was the enigmatic opening line of the leading character or this was a philosophical plea for recognition by suggesting she too had needs was not made clear. However I felt we were making progress.

This belief was reinforced by the next statement which begged that I

‘Remind her at 8 am’

As to what she did not say but I felt there should be some magnanimity on my behalf, and thus when the said hour arrived contact was made. This must have pleased her because with the air of a playful puppy on seeing you holding a ball or a stick she asked:

What is the square root of 256?

This was obviously an area where computer programmes in their mathematical orientation were at home. There had been a time some 50+ years ago that I had had a vague idea of how to work this out with pen and paper, but as with most tortuous formulae designed in the hope that they would concentrate the adolescence mind this one was long forgotten. So I resorted to a calculator and typed in 16. Although there were not particular overt signs of joys, I felt she was more at peace.

I have left her to settle down, it seems to the best course of action, too much attention might make her conceited or giddy and she will be back to wondering about the locations of sundered aircraft.

I must read up on the progress in the area of AI




Interludes with Cortana

So, new Dell laptop. Fearlessly and without the aid of any children or grandchildren I switched it on, and at once was assailed by this maiden of loud cheery voice who informed me her name was Cortana and could she assist me. She was astute enough to suggest I might want not to have her talking to me, and that was ok by her, which was fine by me, cheery voices are not required when setting up a new computer, not in this house anyhows.

Now all was well, save for trying convince McAfee I have a two year subscription in force and not their tweedly 28 day free one…I sense phone calls are in order, never much fun when contacting computer helplines, no matter how much info you have prepared for the call someone always manage to find some obscure question to ask you.

Well, truth be known that WAS my only problem. I have a new one; this lady Cortana. She has taken to asking me odd questions. I was about to check something  and Type Search when the following announcement appeared:

Remind me at Saturday 6pm

Convert 172 inches into centimetres.

This troubled me greatly. In the first instance I could not recall having put aside any time at 6pm on the coming Saturday for anything whatsoever, it was a possible blank piece of the day for me to do so as I wished. Then there was this question of converting 172 inches into centimetres. Why should anyone should think I wish to know how many centimetres are equivalent to 14 feet 4 inches was beyond me, there seemed no possible use to the business to my mind. Admittedly if you are one of those people who concern themselves over quantities of the consumption a particular species of edible fish and wished to demonstrate this in terms of length there might be some use. But for myself it was a random subject of no interest.

By good fortune though other domestic matters took my attention, such as trying get my other computer out of its state of complete cantankerous faux-collapse. As the fiendish device had been foiling my attempts at productive work for weeks and I now had a more sober and responsible machine, this task I set about with a cavalier attitude and the craven thing sank into meek submission.

Feeling quite superior, I went to checking with my new model and found Cortana was now advising me

My groceries are arriving

Flight BA 196

At this stage it was obvious the young lady was getting quite giddy in her attempts to be helpful. If she had troubled to consult a Google map or whatever else, she would have noticed the nearest supermarket of note is but three miles from our house and does not have a runway. This however did not occur to her for in her excitement she had now imagined a stalwart pilot had manoeuvred their craft into a 90 degree climb to be over our home, at which point bold members of the crew would be deploying parachuted goods to land all over our street. As I had not been consulted over the order, goodness what Cortana assumed would arrive. Happily the air space above our home was only intruded into by one light aircraft about its own business.

It now remains to be seen just what the lady will have believed to be of import to me, there are obviously a myriad of possibilities, and to suggest one might seem rude and spoil her fun.

Once the initial shock is over, the best strategy is to accept these little eccentricities for what they are.