lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Friday, October 27, 2006

Say hi

Here is a Bunthorne gem from today's Guardian crossword: Frantic SOS:" Save species!" (Mine and yours are exemplified here!) (10, 4)*

Computers and cell phones are about as personal as gadgets can get. (And thank you for not mentioning vibrators.)

In '94, when we acquired a computer, we used it jointly. I played Minesweeper, the Resident Mathematician installed software and taught himself TeX and LaTeX and our son and heir played various complicated role-playing games and learnt about fifteenth century Germany and civilisation via those games.

We each had our directories and I copied my poetry and attempts at creative writing to the hard disk. The only privacy was password protection.

The computer kept evolving, as esoteric things like motherboards, RAM and suchlike kept getting upgraded. But it was the same computer, and all I used it for apart storing my deathless prose was to play Minesweeper.

In '99, the Resident Mathematician got Linux fever. I refused to be infected. So we parted ways and he acquired a new computer and went the Linux, Via voice, Festival and Emacspeak way. We were amicably divorced, you might say, but still on talking terms, as our computers were networked. This had to be so, as I used the printer the most (I used to take printouts of crosswords almost daily), and so it was at my workstation. If he wanted to print, which was a rare event, we had to have communication channels.

Then we gave up on dial-up and acquired DIAS, and about ten months ago we embraced broadband. Our computers got so personal that I wouldn't know how to turn his machine on or use it. It has no point and click options; the Resident Mathematician would be flummoxed by my machine, too, it wouldn't speak to him. These become so private, and as we set preferences and make things easier for ourselves we resent the sight of even a maintenance man sitting at our desk to troubleshoot.

It seems like an invasion of privacy.

The Resident Mathematician doesn't use a mobile phone. I do. That phone is the most liberating thing I acquired. It allowed me to stay away from home for periods longer than a couple of hours without feeling edgy. I could keep in touch.

The phone is customised too. I set ring tones, alarms, and tones for messages and assign ring tones for friends. I store a lot of numbers on the phone that aren't written down in my phone book. The messages I receive and send, they are private communications. I might make an overseas call and hand the phone to the Resident Mathematician to speak, but the phone is mine, intensely.

And every now and then I change the settings, and use different ring tones. Last night I changed my phone settings and was struck by something. There is a provision for setting a greeting message.

So, here is a question.

What sort of a person would key in a greeting message that will flash when the phone is turned on? Who but self will see that message? It is not as if a friend or relative is going to turn your phone on, is it? So why would anyone bother to write a witty message to self that comes on when the phone is switched on?

Do you have a greeting message to yourself on your phone? Come on, 'fess up.


* Possessive case.


Anonymous Rajesh said...

Mine says 'Getting any?'

4:55 pm  
Blogger Priya said...

You jobless woman!!(evil smile) Changing settings and assigning ringtones! But jokes apart, ever realised just how alienated, incomplete and handicapped we feel in the absence of either one of them?
And ma'm that ring or the message alert tone is enough of greeting for me. I save Mr Alec Smart for the online greetings ;)

6:17 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Rajesh- Really? Don't you know?

Priya- Ah well. Self is a lady of leisure, vonly, no? I know your smart alec attitude and lethal good intentions.

True, I'd feel totally bereft without my computer. The phone is not so vital, I think.

6:30 pm  
Blogger Siva Sivaaa said...

My greeting message - "ANBE SIVAM"

10:23 pm  
Blogger Siva Sivaaa said...

And my laptop says - "ELLAM SIVA MAYAM"

10:24 pm  
Blogger neha vish said...

As of today mine is going to be "Naa Juttu Pekaku"

10:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like Priya says maybe I am jobless too, but I have a greeting message. Now why did I bother? Gotta think this one through.

11:45 pm  
Anonymous Sanket said...

Well, "someone else" could set a welcome message on one's mobile phone. Say "I love you, baby" so as to remind you of him/her (only) when one restarts the phone. :p

That aside, mine used to say, "Hello, World!". :D

12:48 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Siva- Hey, welcome back. Nice take, if you must have a message.

Neha- *winces* Please. Change it to something else pronto, I beg you.

Anon- I am not sure I got it. Your message is ' Now why did I bother?' or are you asking yourself that?

Sanket- Hi. True. But mobiles are such intensely personal gadgets that even a loved one fiddling with it would seem like an intrusion, don't you think?

7:34 am  
Anonymous Ash said...


My phone greets me(admittedly I keyed this in) by being disgruntled at me. My phone says 'You again?'

11:28 pm  
Blogger Rimi said...

A pal's phone says "there's a ghost in this machine". Go figure.

Mine simply wishes me a good day. I train my phones well. Tee hee!

12:43 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ash- *grin* Says something about you, it does.

Rimi- I am amazed at what messages we set ourselves. Your message seems to be the curtest.

12:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have a welcome message on my phone, but my desktop has a big, fat smiling man. So.

9:14 pm  
Anonymous PTC said...

The non resident mathematician was here :)

12:47 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Chandru- The Laughing Buddha, is it?

PTC- Hey, welcome back. Nice to know the Non Resident Mathematician is still reading my blog. :-)

2:33 pm  
Anonymous Prophet of Doom said...

@ Missus Em:
1. And thank you for not mentioning vibrators ... Err, I'll keep mum about that ..

2. A good message would be "Turn me off loser, I wanna sleep some more"

5:59 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ram- Thank you for keeping mum. :-) Ash's message is more succinct, I think.

4:15 pm  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

the "greeting" need not be a greeting. what if u want to remind urself that u have to tell XYZ something. A good way to do it would be to be reminded when u get a call. Can they be caller specific greetings? If so, that much the better!

PS - I see, word-verification is up and running again;).

5:51 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Karthik- I was talking about the options in phone settings, Karthik, not reminders and yeah, I have ring tones and icons assigned, groups set and more, for people who call most regularly, jobless woman that I am.

Yup, word verification is up again for what it is worth.

@ PTC- Post Script and all that. The Resident Mathematician wants to know if that is a statement of intent, now made public via my blog. Any ideas about what area you want to specialize in?

9:15 pm  
Anonymous Tivi said...

It may be a form of daily affirmation message :) I am not fat! No I don't have that as a message but maybe I should.

6:43 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Hi Tivi. Sounds a good idea, like posting magnetic stickers on fridges admonishing oneself. The sticker I used to have said, 'tomorrow, I diet' and it conveys the intent fairly.

The reality was, of course, described better by the picture of the pussycat on the sticker and the foot high sandwich being drooled at.

I am fervently embracing this. I am not fat, I am not fat! Mantra bestowed by a gracious new visitor, vonly. We are much gratified only.

10:12 pm  

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