Emeryville Amy

This blog will be a combination of my favorite places in the Bay Area and abroad, memoirs, recipes, restaurant reviews and travel experiences.

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Location: Emeryville, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, United States

Friday, August 12, 2005

Jerk-O-Meter

I am a big SF Chronicle fan. It just doesn't seem right to start off my day without it. Once in a while mine will be taken (stolen) from my front door and then I feel somewhat lost (not to mention frustrated...) until I can get my hands on a copy. I am also the type of person who will clip out fun or interesting articles for my friends and relatives. (Who may or may not want them, but hey, at least they aren't coupons...) I have been known to quote the paper and can frequently be heard saying, "Well, in the Chronicle I read that..." I often bond with others that have read the same articles but occasionally get caught passing off some idea as my own when I had really "taken" it from the paper and a fellow reader says, "Hey, that was in the datebook section..."

An article that caught my interest today was about a new software developed by researchers at MIT called the "Jerk-O-Meter" which analyzes speech patterns on cell phones and can tell if you or the other caller are paying attention or if they, or you, are being a jerk. If you are worried that you might be a jerk on the phone you could have this program send you messages that say, "Don't be a jerk! or Be a little nicer now!" The software looks at your speech patterns and can discern if you are really paying attention.

It seems to me like people ought to be able to tell if someone is paying attention to them or not (or being a jerk!) without technological help. I think that I know when people are cooking their dinner or paying bills or watching TV while talking to me. Sometimes I am fine with the other person multitasking, especially if they can actually be engaged in the conversation at the same time. But some people really shouldn't. For example, one of my brothers isn't a multi-tasker. I can tell when he gets distracted on the phone and I ask him what else he is doing. When he confesses, it can be something as simple as twirling a pen in his hand. Just doing that is too much for him to do while he is having a conversation. He is not a cell phone owner, thank goodness.

While they are at it, maybe those MIT guys could have the "Toilet Tip-Off" which cuts the line if someone is using the bathroom and talking at the same time. If I got going, I could probably come up with a lot of suggestions for those guys.

As cell phones become more and more prevalent, we are all subject to hearing other peoples' inane conversations. I have noticed that lots of times people are just narrating what they are doing to the person on the other end. "Ok, I am getting up now and walking over to my car...there is a girl in front of me with a great top...you would really like it...Ok, I'm at my car now and opening the door..." What is that about? Why are people on their phones all the time? Nobody wants to hear someone else's life described in boring detail like that! The new technology should automatically terminate those calls.

The only thing worse than being on the other end of a call like that is to be stuck next to someone who is making the call. Airports and airplanes are places that cell phone users really drive me crazy. It seems that everyone who has a cell phone feels compelled to pull their phone out and use it the second that the flight attendants give permission after the landing. There is absolutely nowhere you can go to escape hearing the one sided conversations because you can't get out of your seat. Ahhh, it is torture.

So, if you can't beat them join them. I bought a cell phone a couple of weeks ago, yes, I finally caved. I really only got it so that when I am on the road I can still be in touch with people. My friend who went with me to buy it tells me that I need to turn it ON occasionally, or what is the point of having one. I have used it a couple of times and even did a couple of text messages. Now that I have one, I probably shouldn't complain about people using them. Or I can just hope that the researchers at MIT keep coming up with software that can help people know when they are acting like a jerk!

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amy fabulous! Recipes too, great idea. In the case of jerk- o -meter, you could have linked to the article in sfgate. I am sure Matt knows how (I don't). Leila

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Brandon said...

I just can't help but wonder. If you aren't paying enough attention to the other person, would you really be paying attention to messages that your cell phone might send you?

10:40 AM  
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3:59 AM  

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