‘Open The Fridge Door, Hal.’



How did this happen? My home is now sentient. I feel like Julie Christie in ‘Demon Seed’. My bathroom scale calls me up to nag me for not having done enough steps. My oven, fridge, dishwasher and microwave all beep at different times to warn me about over/under-heating.

My TV and sound system are only operable via my phone, so yesterday I sat down suddenly and accidentally turned on the snooker. Different areas of the flat can be isolated for sound – all you have to do is remember the settings.

My central heating and outer doorbell can also be programmed from abroad on my phone. Actually I can only let someone into my home via my phone (or I could actually, you know, open the door, but who can be bothered?) My vacuum cleaner tells me when its bag needs changing.

Now, all this is very wonderful, especially when you were expecting that the future might just consist of flat TVs and mood lighting. But as most systems require good wi-fi, and here in the centre of London wi-fi speeds are a joke, with regular drop-out in the service, which means that periodically our appliances will start to go wrong. Oh, and when I asked Siri to set alarm for seven o’clock he told me there were flights available to Greece. Maybe I have a speech impediment.

The countries with the fastest wi-fi speeds are Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. The UK is sixth. America doesn’t even make the top twenty. Perhaps that’s something Mr Trump should get on to help make America great again.

I quite like things with buttons. You know, press the red button to stop and the green button to go. And dials; 1 – 10 (or 11 if you like ‘Spinal Tap’). Now I have as much chance of finding my HDMI source as I do locating the Ark of the Covenant.

997c23d0-1d73-4f24-9506-1d587ae25943The very sixties building of Centre Point (two words, apparently) at the start of London’s Oxford Street used to have a control panel in its reception area that looked like something out of Thunderbirds – all big red buttons. It was beautiful and practical. My local bar (the achingly hip ‘Spiritland’) specialises in valves and vinyl and all things analogue – so fashionable. So why haven’t big buttons come back? At least then there’d be no chance of Hal locking me out of the system.

16 comments on “‘Open The Fridge Door, Hal.’”

  1. Matt says:

    You must have specified all that tech when you commissioned your remodel, so if you like buttons to press why didn’t you choose old school buttons to press? I have lived with tech and now want to live without it. Anyway you will enjoy it once you have learnt how it all connects, if it ever does 😉

  2. admin says:

    Oh I’m complaining but I like most of it. Although if you can tell me which HDMI connection I need to use with the Blu-Ray player you’re a better man than I!

  3. Ness says:

    I know someone whose job consists of going to people’s homes and showing them how their new fridge/dishwasher/oven actually works. After meeting someone whose job it was to write the manuals for those appliances it all begins to make sense.

    I’m about to move into a new home with all new appliances after years of dodgy rentals with appliances older than me (or mid-Century modern in the new architectural parlance) and I still own a crt tv so not sure how the brave new world will be treating me. One guarantee though, the internet will still be slower than London or most other places in the world. Having regularly used a tenuous internet connection in a Georgian building in London, I can vouch for the fact that it is of lightning speed compared to those of us in the colonies. My internet still doesn’t work when it’s too windy, too rainy, too humid or if anyone else in my suburb tries to log on at the same time. Trying to use my new smart tv may be a challenge with dumb internet. Still there’s always books and I believe I may have something good to read in a few months.

  4. Jo W says:

    All new ‘stuff’ these days does not come with anything resembling a comprehensive instruction manual,I’ve found,only a flimsy piece of paper with the advice that “full instructions will be found on line at www etc”. (I usually read that and scream- not everyone has access to the internet!)
    But,I have found a solution to the flashing lights,bells,buzzers etc which are the bane of my existence in this brave new world. I shout/swear at them. No,it doesn’t make them work properly but it makes me feel a whole lot better!
    Besides,these things are getting too heavy for me to defenestrate!

  5. DC says:

    Probably not HDMI 1!

    The thing I get complaints about, are massive and complicated remote controls. Also minimalist titchy remote controls, that get lost and have complicated button sequences, as they only have 8 to press!

    I’d be quite happy using my phone to control devices, but that is seen as being weird and freakish. However, using 4 different remotes is apparently quite acceptable. As those in Trumpland might say… Go figure!

  6. SteveB says:

    Your home has probably already been hacked by Putin and unknown to you is taking part in ddos attacks on lloyds bank…

  7. Ian Mason says:

    What’s clearly needed on new appliances is a big red button (to please Admin) with “autodefenestrate” written on it (to please Jo). Meantime, I’m pleased because I got a legitimate excuse to use one of my favourite words.

  8. admin says:

    Love ‘autodefenestrate’. At school we used to make up words because we had to do four years of Latin. Could do with a few more like that!

  9. Ness says:

    I think if you press the autodefenestrate button your car may drive itself out the window. Perhaps not what one may have intended.

  10. Vivienne says:

    I’m dreading the day when I can no longer have a car that just opens with a key, and with windows that just open with a manual winder. Not sure if just opening a window counts in any way as autodefenestrate …

  11. Brooke says:

    @StevenB. Don’t forget the Estonians who probably have Admin’s biodata.

  12. SteveB says:

    Well I wouldnt be at all surprised if Estonia / Lithuania is the next Crimea.
    But it’s not the personal data which I would be worried about, it’s that a lot of this home use stuff is easily hackable and weaponised for botnets spyware and the like.
    Cheerful today aren’t I?! I’ll have to autodefenestrate if I carry on like this…

  13. Crprod says:

    Be sure that you have reset the passwords from the default values on all your online devices. Apparently vulnerable webcams were compromised to send all their image data to the hosting company for Brian Krebs website. This completely overwhelmed the provider, driving it offline. Brian Krebs is famous for reporting on malware, ATM skimmers and the like.
    The US is never going to faster and more widespread internet access as the providers feel they are at the point of maximizing profit with minimum cost. In North Carolina there are laws forbidding municipalities from providing internet access. These are done under the excuse of providing choice even though providers have monopoly franchises, meaning no choice.

  14. John Howard says:

    How about a guess for the Blue Ray – HDMI 3. Go on give it a go, you know you want to.

  15. Helen Martin says:

    I still do not know how to make the tv run a dvd and have to watch films on my computer. I do not like three switching devices and want to know what happened to the tv dials and on/off switch. My sewing machine – a Pfaff – has a coil bound manual that tells me and shows me with photos anything I want to know in good English. My computer is the only thing so far that has me wanting an autodefenestrate button so far.
    There we’ve read that word a number of times and all used it at least once so it’s ours, right?

  16. Helen Martin says:

    Excuse the misplaced modifier above; it should be “tells me in good English…” of course.

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