The voice in the basement caught my attention.
I listened carefully, and yes indeed, there was a distinct voice but one that I recognized as belonging to Housemate.
Thinking he was trying to get my attention, but wasn’t speaking loud enough for me to hear on the stairs and through the walls, I went to the landing and called, “I don’t. didn’t hear what you said. Did you want something? I asked, showing the right amount of concern and interest.
“No,” he replied, “I was talking to the remote to change the channel.”
With that, I went back to my business, grateful that no one else had heard this exchange. But then again, why would anyone wonder why they were having a one-sided conversation with an inanimate object when such conversations are happening more and more: “Google, turn on the lights”, “Alexa, play some music country” or “Alexa, call Joe. Nor can we forget that invisible travel companion who gives directions to nearly lost travelers.
But I had never heard anyone in our house speak to the TV remote, so I was surprised when, when questioned, Housemate excitedly told me that we could issue commands to the remote and it would change chain for us. This marvel was due to the upgrades our cable company required so that we could continue watching our favorite shows with improved performance.
I was given a quick tutorial on how to command this little device to do what I asked, paying only partial attention to the instructions. “What if the person living inside the device did not follow the instructions and rebelled at the tone of my voice or the order given?”
Or was this another method used to further steal the identity of our household?
Housemate assured me that the cable company left us with no choice but to upgrade our old big black box to a much smaller and sleeker one, which came with the voice activation feature, as well as many other previously unknown challenges/changes. reception of the definition. I had thought the picture would be clearer and subtitles or streaming news would be easier to read. But no one told me, or didn’t listen, that you would have to memorize dozens, yes, hundreds of new channel numbers.
After grumbling appropriately about all these changes, we sat there with our noses to the screen as Housemate called the numbers and I recorded them as CBC, TSN, Global, CTV, Spike, Adult Swim (what?), A&E, PBS, NBC, ABC and so on and so forth. Then I painstakingly transferred the numbers to a spreadsheet, it looked a lot like a blood pressure chart when I was done.
On the old remote, when channel numbers were entered, the screen would automatically produce a show. This one doesn’t. There is another step to learn and so I too have on occasion politely asked what his name is to tune into Channel 251 which is hopefully CBC National News.
Housemate continues to find errors in our spreadsheet and has also informed us that we have several hundred more channels to go through so that we have a full list of what is available. It can make do for now with what we already know, and voice assistance from another gadget we didn’t know we needed.
I got into the habit of ignoring the voice in the basement. I just hope he’s asking for a channel change and he doesn’t want me to call 911.
Joyce Walter can be reached at [email protected]
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.