Smart by Charlotte Bennie


So, ye think ye’re smert, dae ye?

I’ve been indulging in a wee tech fest. Ordered a new computer, a laptop no less and a smart meter has been fitted in the house.
The laptop arrived this afternoon. Now, it’s sitting there, in the corner of my desk. All sleek, shiny and smug. It’s probably listening to me faffing around with this old machine, which has thrown several spectacular wobblies this afternoon; picking up ideas as to how it will, in its turn,cause me as much trouble and fash as it can.
I’ve used computers for long enough to know a new machine doesn’t automatically mean all will be well. This clunky old thing has keys which have to be thumped severely before they speak and is prone to bouts of sullen humming, when nothing happens, never mind its peculiar behaviour earlier when, Having sat resolutely silent, going through the shut down process brought it back to life, all perky and shouting. I’m used to all that. Whereas, this new devil?
So, if anyone is wandering along our street, in the near future, and has to dodge a laptop being hurled from an upstairs window, well, you have been warned!
As for the smart meter, this saga started last autumn. A letter arrived, offering our house such a thing, because it contained a vulnerable person. It took me a few minutes to realise this person was me. And, a few minutes later, Husband noticed that, although the envelope was addressed to me, the name on the actual letter was someone totally different.
By the way, despite being sent to someone considered vulnerable because of poor sight, no concession had been made to this. No braille. Not even large print. Meanwhile, Husband contacted our utility company. Who admitted their mistake and offered to fit our house with one of these meters. But, not until the spring. Perfect, as we’d heard these would be better by then, being capable of transferring to another company if we decided to change providers.
And, now, a dinky wee screen is sitting beside the microwave. But, whereas, the microwave talks, the wee screen is resolutely silent. However, the chap who set it up explained it was possible to access it via the relevant utility app, so I wasn’t particularly upset. Especially when SITE Apps Club members via Face Book, also assured me of this.
Then, the fun started. Yes, Voiceover works with the app. Rather clunky but adequate enough. But information from the smart meter? Nothing, not a squeak. Despite the Demo mode on the app showing examples of smart meter readings.
So,an e mail was wheeched to their Help service. And, an Expert wheeched a reply. According to which, we didn’t have a smart meter. Even more annoying, the Expert asserted there would be no reason why anyone would need to access the information via the app.
Eh? Has this person never seen a Blue Peter Guide Dog puppy? Never plittered around with Settings on an I Phone and wondered what Accessibility meant? Maybe it was the same person as the one from the DWP, who, during one of my many arguments with said organisation, said, “You have a husband who can read your post to you.”
So, with the assurance of SITE Apps Club behind us, Husband wheeched off a reply. After pointing out we’d had said meter installed, and when, he painted a moving picture of his poor, blinkie wife, unable to check whether she was saving the planet or using up the electricity as if it was going out of fashion. This may not be the place to say so, but his e mail would have brought tears to a glass eye.
It’s worked! We’ve had another reply. Apparantly, the meter takes about a fortnight to settle in. Rather like new kittens, without all that rampaging up the curtains. After that, it’ll chat away to the app, quite joco. But, a fortnight! A fortnight! There must be a computer involved, for things to take so long.
In early March, I’ll test the app and see what transpires. Check SITE Apps on face Book for an update.
And, a big Thank You to SITE Apps Club members. If we hadn’t had those assurances from yourselves, we’d have accepted that initial brush off. You gave us the confidence to persevere.



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