Hooray for modern technology!

I’m upstairs in my office working.

The dog goes off – obviously someone coming to the front door. Of course, I wonder who it could be.

A moment later? I see my iPhone light up with a notification from Amazon that my package (ordered just hours ago and delivered by Amazon and their same-day Prime service) was just delivered.

So now I know who Sasha was barking at.

Hooray for modern technology!

And as an iOS software developer, I actually take a moment to think:

  • Delivery person came to my door.
  • Scanned my package to acknowledge delivery.
  • Which went up to Amazon’s servers.
  • Registered through their whole shipping system.
  • Hit my account.
  • Which knows I have the Amazon app on my iPhone.
  • So it sent Apple’s Push Notification Server a notice.
  • And then Apple sent that to my device.

And I’m greatly oversimplifying. But if you step back and really think of all the things that go in here: the billions of lines of code, the hundreds or thousands of servers, the network infrastructure, the devices, the phone systems, the peripheral systems that support all of this (e.g. the whole DNS infrastructure), and zillions of electrons flying around – and how amazingly complex and involved is the thing that just happend… and happened in the blink of an eye.

It’s truly awesome.

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12 thoughts on “Hooray for modern technology!

  1. Or you could further expand on the GeeWizz and install one of those “Ring” door bells with a camera. This will also send you images/video of who is at your door.

    As a fellow IT worker I too wonder at what we can do with technology. I am often amused buy the fact that while sitting in my living room office I can reach out to servers on our internal network as far away as Kuala Lumpur and perform my tasks. All while chatting with friends and work associates in a separate applications.

    • Oh, I should have added — I never had to get up from my chair, leave my office.

      But yes, a doorbell camera would allow for that too. I’ve been thinking about Nest’ing my whole house up.

  2. when it works, yeah. but just spend one hour with alexa (amazon echo) or google home or even siri and you’ll be disillusioned in a heartbeat. of course i already know that /ai/ is a dream that’s at least 50 years away and has been 50 years away since the term was created and ELIZA in the early 80s was deemed to be a miracle and there was talk of ‘her’ taking over psychology jobs! it’s funny that computer techs and engineers and scientists can be as gullible as–dare i say it–american voters. 🙂

    but seriously, everyone is jumping on the amazon bandwagon, yet the dumb b1tch won’t turn on my kitchen light 3 out of 5 times, never ever has played a song or album i’ve asked her to, and despite the new dish commercials, is a total failure at doing anything at all with my tv.

    bah, humbug.

    /guy

    • I spend a lot of time using Siri and iOS voice transcription/dictation. It’s not 100% perfect, but it’s pretty good and I find myself being quite productive with it. I certainly prefer voice interface to trying to type on a small flat/smooth glass screen (being spoiled by the ability to touch type).

      AI is MANY years away, but things are coming along. Slow but sure the stone is being chipped away at.

      But hey… as long as commercials and excited kids can easily cause massive Amazon orders to happen… well, maybe that’s all Bezos really wants. 😉

      • i agree that the voice recognition is miles ahead of even 5 years ago and i get about 96-98% accuracy using it and sure do wish apple would let my 3rd-party ios keyboards such as swype ?swyft? use the microphone as android does. i have to switch back and forth all day from a swipe keyboard back to the apple one as a result.

        which makes it even more frustrating that alexa fails to understand a clearly spoken simple phrase such as:

        alexa: turn <on/off> the kitchen light

        and she fails at this at least 40% of the time even in a silent room with me 3′ away from her mic. but so does google home and siri and i don’t dare try to use siri when i’m driving as it would drive me into road rage. but my garmin gps understands my commands like 95% of the time even in a noisy car with the radio going, although i admit the gps has a much much smaller command set to listen for.

        but here’s what would be real artificial intelligence, or at lest the start of it. let’s say i told alexa to turn off the kitchen light 3 times and each time she unhelpfully informs me she hasn’t understood what i want. well, why the friggin’ frig doesn’t she try to ask me what the problem is and try to correct it and then apply any solutions or workarounds for next time? that would be the very start of the seed of artificial intelligence–the awareness that a communication has failed and canned responses are supremely unhelpful.

        that’s all i ask. for someone to actually put some intelligence into what is a farce sold like snake oil to the computer unsavvy who don’t know this is exactly no better than ELIZA who simply parsed and processed and regurgitated a variation of what ‘she’ had heard. of course, 1980s BASIC obviously didn’t have any networks or control mechanisms to make it seem like it was more intelligent than just simple canned programming that nearly any idiot who’d read one book on coding could pull off.

        /guy

        • I haven’t used Alexa — it’s sad to hear if it’s that off in it’s recognition.

          You are right tho about trying to get the AI to be more helpful. I’ve been doing a deep-dive into Siri’s technology and getting to see a lot closer just how all of these things work. It’s…. not easy. We want things to act human, but human’s aren’t the most deterministic of things. We want things to do what we expect them to, but predicting and determining what “we expect” is damn hard. It’s getting better, but still a ways away.

          Because well.. we’re emotional creatures, and these voice-command-recognition technologies have no clue what emotion is.

          • i live just south of a tiny little village (buffalo gap) which is about 15 miles south of abilene. it has a tiny little store which has been there for 70 years or more now as i bought 5-cent coke bottles out of a red cooler outside. so when i was plugging in my debit card one day i noticed the wireless symbol on their reader and asked them to cancel out the transaction so i could try something.

            when they reset it, i held my apple watch to the reader and there was a long indicating success. they couldn’t have been more astonished if a witch doctor had wandered in and caused it to rain inside. to them, it was pure magick and to me it was a nice experience of what tech could do.

            and it’s not just older backwards hicks who aren’t tech savvy. i got a new pair of glasses several months ago after my eye operations and the place (in abilene) was the highest of high tech–they have every optical machine known there i think. but when i went to check out i expected apple pay and a half-dozen of the young female clerks behind the counter–most with iphones swore up and down they didn’t have apple pay. so when i held my watch to their reader and it succeeded i was very popular for a few minutes. 🙂

            so yes, when it works it’s a beautiful thing. i felt the same way back in the early 80s when i saw a dos window on a mac powerbook. i’ve loved macs and vm software ever since and in fact i beta-tested for connectix for years and then microsoft when they bought them out just to kill the product.. to me, running multiple operating systems inside another one is still magical.

            /guy

            • OS inception.

              And yes, I love paying with Apple Pay when I can. My Apple Watch broke (I’m waiting to see if there’s a Watch 3 before I buy again), but I also loved using it for paying, for the QR Code boarding passes when getting on a plane. Just silly fun.

  3. i just remembered i have one good thing to say about alexa. there’s like 5000 ‘skills’ you can add to her repertoire (and exactly how the hell would you remember even two-dozen sets of vocabularies specific to each skill set?) and one is called ‘meow meow’. you say: ‘alexa: meow meow’ and she’ll entertain my cats for about two minutes. maybe, you never know when cats are in the mood to be entertained. 🙂

    /guy

  4. oh, posting that good thing reminded me of another thing that drives me crazy. i also have an echo dot which is essentially an alexa ‘mini-me’ designed to sell for about 1/4 the price while doing about 75% of what the standard echo does. btw, don’t believe the ads you see with alexa working when there’s any sound in the room or showing her working from further than about 15′. not true.

    anyway, the feature i use the most is the timer function and alexa does get this right about 95% of the time. but if i go into the kitchen and want to start a timer, alexa can’t hear me despite i’m only 6-10′ away, but with a sort of half-wall between us. so i got the echo dot to put into the kitchen so i could start timers while i was in there.

    so, amazon has evidently given thought about how the master/slave units should interact and they advertise a clever feature where the unit which hears you the ‘loudest’ will perform the command. and that’s what you’d want, as a general rule. but they implemented it about as badly as anyone not out to sabatoge the process.

    for example, if i ask one of them to turn on the kitchen light, either one of them will turn it off. which is the desired behavior. but if i start a timer in the kitchen with the echo dot and then go back into the living room, the master alexa won’t turn off the timer or tell the echo dot to do it. wtf? so instead of being able to snooze the timer from the living room, i have to walk all the way back into the kitchen to stop the very obnoxious alarm.

    exactly no thought or user feedback was put into that crappy bit of coding. and that’s only one of many such examples.
    /guy

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