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Date: 15/07/23


Remember my telling you about The Picture Cube? And The Dream (or otherwise) of Alexa?

Well, it happened again last night.

I had got up sometime after 0100 to go to the bog. Sitting there, I started hearing a strange - but at the same time somehow familiar - sound. It was a series of electronic notes repeating every few seconds.

My first thought was that it was coming from outside, but then dismissed that idea as I considered it highly unlikely that anyone was walking along the road at that hour, less still that they might be playing something which only someone with the sense and taste of a social media 'influencer' could ever describe as 'music'.

Business - and the essential paperwork arising therefrom - concluded, I went downstairs for a glug of Vimto (*) before returning to bed. Standing there in the kitchen, I heard the sound again.

It was at this point that I knew for sure that it was coming from inside the house, and a sudden realisation hit me as to what it was. I went to the little cupboard on the right-hand side of the display unit in the living room, pulled a small box out from inside and took out its contents. At which moment, my hunch was proven to be correct.

You see, I bought a new phone last month, but what with one thing and another (and that may be a tale for another day) had only finally set it up last Tuesday.

The old phone, the LG K4 described here, had been perfectly adequate for five and a half years except in one key respect. It being my first smartphone, I hadn't appreciated at the time of purchase how important it was to have enough storage space. I had thought that 8GB would be perfectly adequate for what I needed it for. The upshot of this was being severely limited in what apps I could install on it (phone software manufacturers being sufficiently unhelpful as to make sure that hardly any apps could be run from the 32GB SD card I had installed on it) and, latterly, having to go in to the blessed thing two or three times a week to delete data files from some of the larger programs in order not to get that annoying message popping up every other day telling me that I was running out of space. So, it was way past time for change.

Having finally got the new Oppo A57S more or less as I wanted it, it was time to wipe as much data from the K7 as possible and put it away. This I thought I had done; to oblivion went the e-mails and texts, into the void with my bookmarks, passwords and so forth. I then put it away in its box (which I had kept, being an inveterate keeper of things "...in case they come in handy") and into the cupboard with it.

It was inevitable that I would forget something, of course. And what I forgot was the alarm set on it which wakes me up early on a Saturday morning so that I can go shopping...

...my tendency to wake up up to an hour before the alarm is due to go off anyway notwithstanding...

...and it was this which had kicked in.

But why then? After all, it was somewhere between 0100 and 0200, not 0645? Waking the machine, I saw that - having been relieved of its SIM card - the phone had become temporally utterly disorientated, believing not only that it was just before 0700, but that it was 30 November rather than 15 July (goodness knows what year it thought it was). I deleted the alarm and put the phone back to sleep again.

(In writing this piece, I've just realised the other thing I neglected to do, viz., power the thing off altogether).

Getting back into bed, however, I began to feel uneasy in the same ways that I described in the previous two pieces on this subject, as my tendency to anthropomorphise technology kicked in again. I imagined the phone sounding the alarm not out of any inevitability of inanimate programming, but as a sort of plea for aid. I visualised the device as being in the throes of a sort of automatonic Alzheimer's, lashing out and desperately crying for help in its distress at not being able to comprehend its surroundings, the context of its own existence, anymore.

Or was it merely a rebuke at being so wilfully discarded after so long a period of sterling service? An act of revenge in recognising my weakness and deliberately playing on it?

Either way, I felt the temperature in the bedroom drop, and I slept very poorly.


* This is not a euphemism