Sheila Sybrant

Two surprising things to report: I have a new piece of technology, and I love it.

Those of you who have been reading my column for years know by now that I’m a Luddite by nature and choice — somewhat distrustful of computers and their ilk and only delving into the world of technology when work gives me no choice.

Nevertheless, I have a new piece of technology because my son and daughter-in-law gave me a Google Home for Christmas. It is a smart device that can do … well, many more things than I have column space to list. Just to give you an idea, it will, when asked, tell you the time and weather, play music for you and look up information on the internet.

My kids bought it for me in large part because it will connect to Google Photos and continuously stream pictures, so I can see numerous iterations of my granddaughter, Landri, every day, every time I walk by my Google Home. I absolutely love this feature!

I must admit that my Google Home sat in its box until very recently because I wasn’t sure I had the ability to set it up. My daughter usually does all things technological for me, and I always time any big technological purchase to coincide with her visits, but the pandemic has put a kink in her travel plans for a long time and probably for quite a while to come. Finally, I decided that I’m probably not so inept that I would blow the thing up, so what could go wrong, right?

Usually when someone says something like that, everything goes wrong. But, in fact, setup went amazingly smoothly. There were a lot of questions that I had to answer, and I’m not sure I answered all of them correctly, but Google Home told me that I could change all of these features that I set up — and I figure that eventually my daughter will be home and can do that for me if necessary.

One thing I was able to do that I’m particularly proud of was enabling Google Home to recognize my voice and my voice only. I don’t know why I did that as my husband has zero interest in talking to Google Home — and, in any event, I wouldn’t care if he did — but, still, I feel as though I accomplished something.

Because Google Home talks to me, she (yes, “she” — I had the option of a male or a female voice, and I chose the female iteration) seems almost human. Just like a human, though, she is not perfect. (Please don’t tell her I said that. She might be offended.)

For example, I asked her several times about the lowest temperature ever recorded in Nebraska and received three different answers, pulled from three different websites, which is where Google Home gets her information.

More importantly, I asked Google Home, “Who’s the cutest baby in the world?” She cited some website that claimed Flynn Bloom gets that honor.

Wrong! The cutest baby is obviously Landri, my granddaughter.

I decided to give Google Home a chance to redeem herself, so I changed the question to “Is Landri Nicole Sybrant the cutest baby in the world?” Her response? “Sorry, I don’t know how to help with that.”

I have forgiven Google Home for this failing, though, because it allows me to feel superior. Some people are smarter than the average bear. Bears are smart enough to hibernate in the winter, so I can’t claim more intelligence than that. But I am clearly smarter than the above-average computer.

Readers may contact Sybrant at svsybrant@gmail.com or 45092 859th Road, Bassett, NE 68714.

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