Saturday, April 22, 2017

Spell Checkers, Speech-to-Text, Digital Assistants, and Other Things I Hate #socs

I hate spell check. Really. Especially the wiggly red lines that appear under words that it claims aren’t spelled right. They annoy me no end. They usually end up under all the proper names, because the damn spell check doesn’t realize they are proper names. And, if I ever meet the clown that came up with autocorrect, I’m going to beat him over the head with The Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, the ginormous one that’s about ten inches thick.

See, I went to Catholic school, where, as I think I mentioned, the nuns taught us that misspelled words are nails in the Hands of Jesus. If we learned one thing, it was how to spell. They also stressed the importance of spelling people’s names correctly as a sign of respect. If that’s so, I get disrespected all the time, because I can stand there with a clerk and spell it out “H-O-L-T-O-N” and have them spell it “Horton,” or “Holten,” or something. See, the problem with my name is, the final “o” is pronounced as a schwa, which I guess means it could be anything. That doesn’t explain “Horton,” but… whatever.

Anyway, whenever I get a new computer, or a new word processing program, when I start seeing words underlined in red, it’s my signal to figure out how to turn off spell check. And autocorrect has to go; I would rather send something out with a misspelling than have it turned into something that conveys a meaning I didn’t intend.

Joey had a post a week ago yesterday about talk-to-text and how much she hates it. I could sympathize: I tried working with MacSpeech and Naturally Speaking, thinking that would make things less of a hassle to write, given that I type with one hand. I almost had another stroke trying to use them, and finally said “f*ck this noise” and went back to typing with one hand.

Joey was talking specifically about Siri, Apple’s “digital assistant” that they’ve been installing on all iPhones and iPads for a couple of years. When I installed Sierra (the latest version of Mac OS, which anyone who uses it realizes is just Unix under the pretty interface), Apple was very proud of the fact that Siri was now available for Mac OS and was now installed, along with their speech-to-text word processing software. Well, just because it’s installed doesn’t mean I have to use it, so I figured I’d just take the icon off the dock and ignore it. Easy-peasy, right? Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Anyway, I’m working on my desktop a couple of weeks ago, and the thing starts going slower than whale dung, and I’m like “what the f*ck is going on?” I bring up the activity monitor and I see that the Apple dictation software is taking about ten percent of the CPU cycles. “I’m not using the dictation software!” I exclaimed, and tried to kill the task, only to have it come back. I go and look at what’s eating up memory, and I see that roughly a quarter of the physical memory is being taken up by Siri and speech-to-text. I DuckDuckGo “turn off dictation mac sierra” and found that there were some options I had to turn off in my System Preferences to get rid of them. Problem solved.

Dear Apple, next time you decide to do me a favor, do me a favor: don’t do me a favor. TYVM.

I never had to mess with Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, since I got rid of Windows 10, which never worked anyway. That was really nosy, anyway, reporting everything I did to the mothership in Redmond, Washington. The best decision I made was to install Linux Mint on my laptop.

Anyway, I get up a couple of mornings ago, and there’s a message on my Kindle Fire that Alexa was now installed on it after the upgrade. You know what I did first, right? Found out how to disable it and did so, along with removing the Home icon to a group called “Sh*t I never use and can’t uninstall.” Which brings up another issue: what’s the deal with software that gets installed on my computer or other device that I can’t remove? Really, if I’m not going to use iTunes on my iPhone, why can’t I ditch it? It’s my phone or computer or whatever; if the stuff is in my way and taking up memory I want to reclaim, why can’t I?

Now, to bring things back to the original prompt, “spell,” here’s Screamin’ Jay Hawkins with “I Put A Spell On You.”


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Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word from Milton Bradley’s Scrabble, America’s good-time game!




from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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