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September 29, 2018

Why voice commands on computers don't work for you


Voice commands on computers are wonderful. I've lived a long time, and although I'm still waiting for flying cars, at least the future lets me talk to computers. But if they don't work for you, I'm sorry to say this, but they probably never will. And that's because no one really understands what you're saying, including your dog.

I like to compare computers to dogs, because they're very literal. If you say, "Sit!" your dog will understand you. If you say, "Well, how would it be if, whenever you feel like it to, maybe, uh, sit down, there or over there, maybe next to the couch..." your dog will probably just tip its head at you, or maybe just go take a nap. I've known a lot of people like this, nice people who can't do commands.

Now calm down here if you think you have to memorize commands for you computer, you don't. This isn't 1989, when you had to. Now you can say, "Play Avengers Infinity War" or "Play the Avengers Infinity War movie",  you can even add a please and thank you if you'd like. There's no need to be brusk, but just imagine that you're asking a stranger to do something for you. Don't turn it into a guessing game, or an complicated essay, just say what you want.

I hope this helps, and I understand your frustration. I learned to clean up how I spoke when I started teaching, removing excess stuff that just confuses people, and slang, that sort of thing. If I wanted someone to open a door for me I would say, "Please open the door". Then I would say "thank you". I still say thank you to my computer, it just makes me feel better.

The good news is that if you can learn to talk to your computer, human beings will probably begin to understand you better, too.

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