Dennis Richards column: Linking up with unsuspecting people thanks to '˜send all' button

A New Year apology. I cannot twit or tweet. My Facebook page has loads of stuff... none of it written by me. I don't know how to start. Is 'written' the term to use?

Tuesday, 10th January 2017, 10:22 am
Updated Tuesday, 10th January 2017, 10:26 am
Im trying to keep up with social media and electronic devices but technology moves so fast.

Posted? Streamed? And heaven knows what buffering is supposed to mean. Just as I have mastered texting... it is now apparently so yesterday, I should be on chatsnap (snapchat? who knows?) or Whatsupp…or whatever.

I thought I was safe, or more importantly, that you were safe. Not so. Apparently, by pressing a button, I have joined something called Linked-In.

Having checked it was not some kind of upmarket dating site, I hesitantly accepted a polite invitation from one of my oldest friends some time ago. I became linked-in – and promptly forgot about it.

Now I discover that over Christmas I have inadvertently pressed a message which said “send all”.

It would appear I am now linked to people I have never heard of, past students who happily thought they’d seen the back of me, shops I once bought a newspaper from, and last night I realised I am linked-in in France. And if I turn out to be linked-in to something/someone dodgy, I didn’t mean it Your Honour. Apologies to all.

I begin every New Year with a resolution that I will do better with social media, electronic devices and the rest. But it all moves so fast.

An invitation to dinner over the New Year from a colleague who loves good food and wine promises an evening of lively conversation.

I forget for a moment that he is also a “gizmo” enthusiast.

I have turned up waxing lyrical about my bottle of Cremant de Loire as the new kid on the block and a serious rival to Prosecco.

He is on another planet. As I enter he says in dreamy tones “Alexa, set the temperature to 20 degrees please”.

This is worrying on two levels.

Firstly he never speaks like that normally, and even more puzzling, his lady wife is most definitely not called Alexa.

Either teaching has sent him over the edge, or the Prosecco has got its retaliation in early. I get a passing hello and then he’s off again. “Alexa, volume down!”

His tone has changed, firm and authoritative again, just like he is when teaching a lively Year 10 class on Friday afternoon.

When he asks his new woman to “tell me a joke, Alexa”… I’m ready to put my coat on and make a discreet exit, clutching my bottle of Cremant. I dare to wonder what she looks like.

All becomes clear. He is the proud owner of the very latest Echo voice recognition system. I am gobsmacked and terrified at the same time.

Alexa responds to commands about the weather and the news, she can order a takeaway, will play any tune you wish, she can tell stories and jokes and enjoy games. She is superwoman.

There are, however, some situations where Alexa may be a bit intrusive “Alexa, dim the bedroom light”, might need some nifty footwork if you haven’t explained the system first.

The system is still in its easy stages and for the moment you are restricted to three names Alexa, Amazon or Echo. On refection I’m glad my colleague chose the first.

If he’d been giving orders to someone called Amazon I really would have thought the tiles had come off the roof.

A good reason to wait for the refinement, which will give you the freedom to give it a name of your choice. How about somebody you don’t like, who you can then order about for fun. “Volume down, Boris!” “Play the National Anthem Jeremy!”

The next resolution is always the easy one especially at this time of year. Just simply to keep looking for a smile. Thankfully family and friends realise I have enough deodorant, socks and scarves to keep eBay going for a while yet. I get books instead.

I love the fact that the bestseller over Christmas has been Five on a Brexit Island. Closely followed by the spoofs on Ladybird books….all three of my daughters bought me “The Grandparent”. Hilarious.

In all the stuff about the loss of so many superstar musicians in 2016, the passing of Andrew Sachs has been forgotten a bit.

It gave me a chance to introduce my students to Fawlty Towers, as my thank you to them for pointing me in the direction of the Big Bang Theory.

And as expected…right on cue there was Alan Bennett and the Times Diary.

Bennett wrote about meeting three generations of a family in Leeds and being told by the oldest member of the group that he had explained to his grandson that people from Leeds are called Loiners. “We’re from Wakefield” he added.

Bennett opined that he wasn’t at all sure what they call people from Wakefield. “Desperate”, sighed the son.

Happy New Year.