I never fully realized how dependant I am on the Internet and the TV until last week, when Hurricane Sandy forced me to live without either. Fortunately, my media banishment period lasted only about 36 hours, as I was able to stay at my aunt’s place uptown, where power came back on Wednesday. But for those 36 hours, my only connection to the outside world came in the form of a battery-powered radio that my grandfather bought for me nearly 20 years ago. Trapped in my 24th floor apartment (I wasn’t ready to climb back up 24 flights of stairs until I absolutely had to), I spent much of the time sitting at the dining room table, flashlight in hand, huddling by the radio and anxiously awaiting the next update as to when power might return in downtown Manhattan. For someone like myself who works in media, being out of the loop was simply unacceptable.
A few weeks earlier, I had ordered the new iPhone 5. My two-year-old Android was breaking down, randomly turning itself off multiple times a day, and then, all of a sudden, my apps stopped working and my internet connection became spotty. I was fed up, and opted to switch over to the iPhone, in part because I was very intrigued by the new Siri feature, a voice-activated program that supposedly could do anything. Make calls for you, schedule appointments in your calendar, and most importantly, provide in-depth information. Never again would I be out of the loop. Well, unless there was another blackout.
Anyway, my phone arrived a few days ago, and I’m in the process of putting Siri through a rigorous test. I always wondered how much it knew about sports, and I’m wasting no time finding out.
“How many wins did the New York Yankees have this year?” I asked.
“The Yankees finished at 95-67,” she answered, before the complete AL standings appeared on the screen. Very cool. Let’s get a little tougher.
Q: “Who led the Minnesota Twins in stolen bases last year?”
A: “Ben Revere led the team with 40 stolen bases last season.”
Q: “How many rushing yards does Ray Rice have this season?”
A: “Ray Rice has 622 rushing yards this season.”
Unbelievable. I’m hooked. But then I discovered Siri’s limitations.
Q: “Who won the 1973 World Series?”
A: “Sorry, Zach, I can only provide you with the most recent World Series results.”
Q: “How many times have the Jets won the Super Bowl?”
A: “Sorry, Zach, my knowledge of sports history is limited.”
Ahh. So apparently, Siri has only a short-term memory. But that’s OK. Everyone has their flaws. I’ll still get a kick out of chatting with this computer over the coming weeks. The bottom line is that she’ll be of enormous help to me whenever I need to quickly look up something.