Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Signals and Alerts

I recently purchased a new toy, an Apple TV which, with the help of the friend who recommended it and my youngest son, is now operational.  Among other things, the attraction was that it allows me to share movies and music from my iPhone or iPad to my 50-inch HD television, and because of my SAG-AFTRA affiliation I have some major movies downloaded that have to be watched before the end of the month.

I only hope it doesn’t beep, chirp or trill!

It seems I am now surrounded by sounds that didn’t exist only a few years ago.  Starting with my kitchen where the coffee maker has two sounds: one, when the coffee is done or the warming feature is about to shut off, and another if I try to turn it on without adding water.  To my ear they sound the same.  They also sound the same to me as my refrigerator that beeps when I forget to completely close the door.  It does not beep when ice is ready, a fact I would prefer to know, since I usually close the door but often do not have ice.

Moving from left to right, as they say, my microwave has beeps for the timing feature and a reminder that I gave it a task to do and “It’s done already!” Its companion piece, the oven, lets me know when the temperature I set has been reached and has its own timer.  I think it may also have a signal that the clock needs resetting.  I have another just-plain timer that has three beeps for three separate times.

I used to have an alarm clock that woke me with a buzz or would turn the radio on at full blast to accomplish the obligatory task of getting my pulse rate to 80+ before my feet hit the floor.  My current clock gradually increases the volume over a minute or two and is much more civilized.  Should I forget to choose this feature, however, it wakes me with a series of, you guessed it, beeps.

Like most of the world I have a PC, a smart phone and a tablet, all tied to my Outlook Calendar(s) and all announce the imminence of my appointments at some interval or other, pretty much at the same time.  Before I had this opportunity I was forced to look at my watch to remember my 9:00 o’clock meeting and the only reminders I had were the melodic chimes of my Ship’s Clock (eight bells three times a day) or my grandmother’s Westminster chimes, which seem to bother new visitors, especially during meetings, but which I have seemingly turned off in my mind and ears unless I am listening for them.

My PC is new and I had to transfer all my programs and documents to it.  One of those was Quicken, which I have used since 1996.  Interestingly, I had forgotten that I had to turn off the “beep” feature because the “ka-ching” every time I wrote a check drove me nuts.  After some difficulty I found the switch and now do my banking with the quiet solitude of Tom Crachit on Christmas Eve.

When my frustration drives me out of the house I find another cacophony waiting for me in my car: the seatbelt signal, the beeper for a still-set emergency brake and of course the GPS “Turn right” signal.  Of course some of those sounds are accompanied by a voice command from Siri or whomever, but I have learned not to turn until the beep comes.

My cell phone has the option of making the alerts distinctive, and the one for text arriving is entirely different than what tells me I have mail.  Incoming calls are distinctive depending on who is calling.  Voicemail has another identifier.

One time an alert was problematic.

I had my third Infinity for only about three months when it developed an aggravating problem.  Every time I would start the car, after about 30-seconds, it would beep.  That would repeat for perhaps half a dozen times and then would stop.  For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why it was beeping.  Finally, in desperation, I took it to the dealer and asked the service parking attendant to investigate.  She had me go through the process while looking over my shoulder then, very respectfully honorific of my age pointed out that there was an accompanying dashboard signal, looking somewhat like a flat tire.  The alert was to tell me that tire pressure was low in one of my tires.  It even told me which one.  It turned out that I had a nail on my left rear tire, which was patched and my car washed free in under half an hour.

The one thing I didn’t like about my new car and it turned out it was trying to save my life.

I am reading about new alerts and signals coming to cars and recently rented one that beeped when I was backing too close to an object.  My car already tells me when I leave my keys inside, and used to tell me when I was moving outside my traffic lane.  My remaining car concern is that the only signal I don’t seem to hear is the turn signal.  My theory is that it must be on the same wave length as a woman’s voice, which I am told is the first range we older people lose in our hearing, a fact some men say is a blessing from God.

A favorite personality of mine was recently interviewed on NPR with some interesting revelations.  Also, this year is a centennial of sorts for Woody Guthrie.  Finally, entitlements have been in the news for at least the last six months on almost a daily basis.  My next post will be titled Kris, Woody, and Entitlements.  Come visit to see how I tie those disparate items together.

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