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Column

Living with a brand-new electronic thingamajig

Shhh! It’s listening to what you say all the time

We yearn for them, we just have to have them, we told Santa about them, and then we waited. Before the Christmas wrappings are cleared away, we’ve broken through the tough vinyl trapping our prize possession in the box, undone the twisties, and are holding a dead thingamajig in our hands.

Now what? The frustration has only just begun.

In conversing with my friend Amy, I told her I would like a speaker for the living room area that I can play music on. I have one in our bedroom, but the sound doesn’t carry down to the other end of the house.

Amy excitedly said she has a voice-controlled speaker and all she has to do is say, “Play country music,” or “Play Christmas music,” or any other kind she wants, and it will play whatever she has asked for.

Ask it what the weather is today and “bam,” the little man on the speaker tells you.

Or you can say “Call Amy,” and it will make the call. Ask it anything you want and you’ll get an answer. Need a little humor in your life? Ask for a joke.

Wow that sounded cool, but I had no aspirations of getting such a gadget. The price had to be way over the top.

“Earlene, what do you want for Christmas?” husband Jerry asked.

I had given up on any results from “surprise me” years ago, so I told him I wanted a simple speaker to put in the living room area. Of course, he told me why I didn’t need it, and I explained to him why I did. Then I went on a hunting expedition. (Well, he did ask what I wanted!”)

When I shop for electronics, I try to be well informed of the advantages and disadvantages of the device I’m looking for, but there always seems to be the “unknown.” Sometimes, there’s a bunch of unknowns. In this case, I simply wanted a plain speaker to use for the radio stations and songs I have downloaded on my cellphone.

Then I spied a deal on the voice-controlled speaker Amy had told me about. It wasn’t nearly as expensive as I had anticipated.

Electronic departments usually seem to have at least one cute young man who happens to be an electronic geek. You just need to seek them out, then wait. In comparing prices and benefits of plain speakers to voice-controlled, my cute little geek and I determined it was pretty much a no-brainer on which way to go.

I told Jerry what I had found, and after further checking, he made the purchase of a package deal with two speakers. No wrapping – you can have it now. A week before Christmas, I sat down to figure out how to get it up and running.

First thing to do is read the instructions, right? There’s always a thin little booklet, or something that looks like a booklet, tucked in the box promising to tell you what to do and how to get your thingamajig up and running. So, I nestled down in a chair to wade through the booklet. The top card said, “Let’s get started.” The back said (1) Plug it in; (2) Get the app.

With any electronic purchase, a person will go through a period of buyer’s remorse. For me, this usually occurs during the installation period when I reach the part that says “get the app.” However, a couple of apps, new passwords, and three hours later, all of my expectations have been met with my voice-controlled speakers I’ve dubbed “Frog.”

I’m immensely enjoying listening to any kind of music I’m in the mood for, on one or both speakers, throughout the house. However, I do need to remember that my “new best-friend” is always listening to me. This morning, Friend Anna and I were sitting in my kitchen visiting, and I found myself whispering so Frog wouldn’t hear. He might think I’m giving a command and heaven only knows what he would do.

Never ask God for patience. He will send you out looking for a new electronic thingamajigger. But when you feel overwhelmed by it all, remember to F-R-O-G.

Note to readers: Earlene Campbell lives by the FROG motto — Fully Rely On God. She lives in Princeton and can be reached at earlenecampbell@rocketmail.com.

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