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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Fido sucks!

My cell phone provider, Fido, has moved to a voice-activated menu system. So it's now less convenient and takes longer to use.

I don't use my cell phone much, so I just use a pay-as-I-go plan, and regularly add more money to the account. I had all the key presses down pat so I could just speed through it.

When I tried to do this in a Burger King last week, I had to sit through a long message explaining the whole thing, and then found that I had to shout to make the system hear me. So I have to go into the alley next to the BK so I could yell into my phone and take a couple of minutes to do something that used to take 20 seconds.

Are people so dumb they actually can't handle pressing buttons? And why not leave the button-pressing as a option for those of us who like doing it? Wankers.

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Oh man, I had to deal with one of those last week at work when I was trying to phone a design firm. For some weird reason, the system could understand me when I said the name of the person I wanted to speak to, but not when I said "yes" to confirm that they'd got it right. So the recorded voice would just keep asking "is this correct? is this correct?" and then quit and hang up on me.

They're trying to take away the things I like about dealing with machines (can't second-guess me, can't mis-hear me, let me start over if I screw up) and keep the things I dislike (limited options, can't explain things to them).

Microsoft uses (used?) a voice-activated system for product activation. I had to use it last summer, after I made the mistake of not properly setting the system time before installing Windows XP, which promptly announced that I had missed the 30-day grace period to activate Windows online. I was locked out... even from online activation, despite having a legitimate product key.

It wouldn't have been that bad, except my sister thought I was just waiting on hold and started talking to me, as I desperately tried to wave her off so I could avoid having to repeat the code.

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