Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Google Nesting Place

It was recently announced, in what can only be seen as the beginning of the end of the world, that Google has made the obvious strategic move to team up with Nest.

Google will now be inside your thermostat.

I'm not sure that's a great idea. Do I need to point out the massive failure that was Google+ again? If they can't set up and manage a simple thing like a world-wide social media and networking site to compete with Facebook, what makes them think they are qualified to determine what temperature to keep my living room?

Do they even realize that my wife lives in the house? Sure, Google probably has a lot of smart people behind the scenes, but if they are foolish enough to think they can remove the manual aspect of temperature management inside my home, they obviously didn’t get too much common sense with all that book learnin’!

I mean, do the Google engineers even comprehend the fact that 72 degrees is apparently a completely different temperature, depending on what temperature it is outside. Or in the car?

Do the geniuses at Google understand that my wife thinks 72 degrees is not the same temperature in the summer as it is in the winter?

Do they know that having it be two degrees colder or warmer in an adjacent room or near a window can completely negate whatever temperature it is on the couch?

Something tells me the Google Nest won’t understand the gravity of the situation when my wife says, “It’s cold in here.” The Google Nest can’t possibly learn to read her body language and tone of voice.

Should it immediately spike the thermostat to 95 degrees and retreat to the garage for two hours, or should it bring her a blanket, kiss her on the forehead, and ask about her day? I’m not sure the Google engineers will be able to write that decision tree into the code with any success.

As I understand it, computers work mainly by computing things. I would assume the Google people need to somehow write some code of some kind to run the thermostat, and I assume that code will need to compute different variables.

Off the top of my head, in the last thirty seconds, I developed this short, very incomplete list of variables they’ll need to consider in order to choose the correct temperature for my wife:

Tone of voice
Posture
Current temperament and mood
Sarcasm level
Actual outside temperature
Perceived outside temperature
Actual current inside temperature
Perceived inside temperature
Season
Weather
Dew point
Relative humidity
Current temperament and mood of children
Wind speed and direction outside
Temperature of garage she just spent seven seconds in
Clothing layers and thickness
Square inches of exposed skin near the ankles or wrists
Shoes vs. boots
Do the boots have fur?
Actual draftiness
Perceived draftiness
Activity level in the last hour
Sock type and thickness
Are the socks “cozy” or just regular?
Hydration level
Pre/During/Post dinnertime?
Amount of wine consumed

I just can’t see them figuring all that out.

But, never mind all that. There’s one central problem that will cause all the rest of these problems to be moot: The Google Nest will be mounted to the wall.

How is it possibly going to duck out of the way of a flying shoe if it’s foolish enough to suggest that she might want to put on a sweater?

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

An Open Letter to Shutterfly, Regarding Lifetouch

Dear Shutterfly,

Last November was the first time I heard your name associated with the venerable, dare I say, tour de force of a company that is Lifetouch School Portraits.

It happened when Lifetouch sent me an email with promo codes to create free Shutterfly photo books.

A few days later, Lifetouch sent another email explaining that “We were a little too excited to deliver your free Shutterfly photo book offer so you may have received a code that doesn’t work.”  I guess they included new promo codes that may or may not have actually worked. I’ll never know, because I never tried them.

I never tried the original promo codes either, because the pictures Lifetouch was offering to put into a free Shutterfly photo book were taken by Lifetouch.

I don’t even have to go back and look at them. I just know.

Son Number One will have a forced, pained smile on his face, like he just stepped barefoot onto a bunch of seashells.

Son Number Two’s hair will be all over the place and his glasses will be visibly smudged and probably on his face crooked. His smile is a fifty-fifty toss-up.

Son Number Three will have some sort of food or condiment prominently displaced somewhere on his face or head, and his “smile” will either look pained, quizzical, confused, nervous, or, like last year’s picture, strangely rodent-ish. It will look like anything other than his actual beautiful, joyous smile.

I’m not sure why I would want any of that in a photo book, free or otherwise.

Lifetouch screwing up the codes didn’t surprise me one bit, because I have a long history with them. I have written them many helpful letters over the years (thirteen to be exact) giving them tons of free advice on how to take passable pictures of children, how to improve their business model, and how to just generally not suck at what they do.

As far as I know, no one at Lifetouch has ever read a single one of my letters. They certainly haven’t taken any of my free advice, like, maybe wiping the macaroni and cheese off the kid’s face before snapping the picture, and stuff like that.

You might not have as much direct personal experience with them, but the fact that they screwed up the free promo code email should have been a major warning sign for you.

But instead of running away as fast as you could, apparently you just went ahead and purchased Lifetouch. And according to Forbes, you paid $825 million for them! You really should have called me first. That was not a good idea.

If you really wanted to get into the school picture business so badly, I honestly believe you could have cornered the market for less than ten or twelve thousand dollars by hiring retired postal employees to take pictures at the schools with their personal cell phones. Seriously.

Anyway, today I received a desperate plea from “Lifetouch + Shutterfly” that my Fall Portraits would soon expire, and I was given helpful portrait ID numbers and access codes for all three boys so I could purchase them and have you preserve them forever.

Sounds like you guys over at Shutterfly are trying to figure out how to get back some of those wisely-spent millions. And how do I know those codes will even work?

Never mind that – back to my original point here, Shutterfly. The pictures you want me to buy were taken by Lifetouch. If I wouldn’t buy the individual paper pictures, why would I buy a hardcover book of them? Or a coffee mug? Or a pillow? Or a wrapped canvas wall hanging?

He has mustard on his face!

I have to look at food on his face almost every time he’s actually in the room. Why would I want to immortalize it on my wall, as well?

He’s smiling like he just backed into an electric fence!

Why would I want to put that on a pillow? Pillows are supposed to make people comfortable!

Have your financial people call me. We should talk.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


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Also visit Marc’s Amazon.com Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Desperately Searching for Talent

Thanks to all you boys and girls who signed up ahead of time and came out to audition today for the elementary school talent show. And a special thanks to all you kids who added your names to the list five minutes ago, even though it has been posted in the office for three weeks now. Glad to have you here.

We will take the auditions in the order that you signed up on the list. What's that, ma'am? Your daughter who signed up a half hour ago has tennis lessons today and can't stay past 3:00? Well, I'm not sure what to tell you, since there are about thirty kids who signed up ahead of her and it's already 2:45.  Maybe she could come back after tennis, or be late to practice? No ma'am, I have not been told that I'm particularly unreasonable. I'm sorry to hear that. We will miss her version of “I’m a Little Teacup.”

OK, everybody, let’s get started. First, I see, we have Kayden from the 6th grade playing piano.

[sound of individual piano keys being played in an order that does not necessarily suggest music to the listener]

Wow, OK, thank you for that Kayden. Out of curiosity, how long have you been taking piano lessons? Six years, is that right? Well, thank you for sharing your gift with us today.

OK, next up we have… oh, goody, another piano player. Jade is here from the 2nd grade.

[sound of Beethoven coming from a broken down old elementary school piano as an eight-year-old virtuoso’s fingers fly over the keys]

(Praise Jesus) Thank you, Jade! That was magnificent, sweetheart! Kayden, you might want to get the name of Jade’s teacher. No reason, just in case yours ever decides to retire or something.

Now we have Suzy and Kendall from the 5th grade performing a dance routine.

[alleged dance routine takes place intermittently]

Thank you, ladies. One note that I think deserves mentioning – most dance routines out there involve quite a bit of actual dancing. Yours seemed to contain quite a bit of standing and vague, almost imperceptible, arm movements. What’s that? It was for artistic effect? Oh, OK. Is that why you picked such a sad, slow song? Gotcha. OK, thanks for coming today. What’s that? No, no decisions will be made today. (at least no out loud decisions) We will let you know soon.

OK, looks like we have another dance routine. Kylie from the 3rd grade is here. Take it away, Kylie.

[rap song blares and a dance routine starts that would make the folks in a Prince video blush]

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold the music! Um… Kylie, honey, that kind of dancing is a little inappropriate for elementary school. What’s that, mom? Uh, OK, that might be how she dances at home, but you understand this talent show is being held here for the students, right? And that song can’t be played at school, anyway. What’s that? Well, I guess we could try to find a clean version of it, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t have too many words left. OK, go ahead and see what you can come up with. Moving on.

[two excruciating hours later]

OK, thank you for that. One note – try to sing to the back of the room. No, I don’t think you did. We have your microphone turned all the way up and we can barely hear you. Yes, sing to the back of the room. You are only singing to the back of your own throat.

Great, OK, looks like only one more audition and then we can go home (and seriously reconsider our life choices while we have a stiff drink and try to determine how we are going to put this show together…).

OK, hello Avery from the 4th grade. What song will you be singing? OK, and do you have the music? You’re going to sing it a cappella? Umm… OK, well, good luck. Let’s hear it.

[sound of the most soulful, rich, powerful, silky-smooth adult singing voice coming from a four-foot-tall girl, which makes every adult in the room weep with awe and joy]

Thank you so much, Avery, for adding your name to the list at the last minute. And thank you for going to this school!

(We’ve got ourselves a talent show!)

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen


Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Amazon.com Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!