Monday, August 04, 2014

1365 Please Wait

Of all the stupid one-liners your computer throws at you the worst of them has to be “please wait.”

What PLEASE!  You have no choice.  When you see that demand you must comply.  

You can’t say “no, thank you.”

And you can say “NO, no no” at top volume and forever.  It will do no good.

The machine is going to sit with that little polite-atude frozen to the screen until it makes up its processor to let you continue.

In the early days, before computers went to charm school, if you did something that required the machine and the electrons to bop around for awhile, you’d get one of two responses.

The first and most ominous was “Illegal command” followed by at least one exclamation point.  A frustrated coworker at a balky terminal once typed in a blunter version of “go self-reproduce.”  Illegal Command!  

The gentler programs and computers would flash the word “working” on your screen, sometimes accompanied by a cute graphic to keep your impatient self amused while it went about its business. No

“Please wait” is like when the cop pulls you over on the highway, approaches you with his hand on his gun and addresses you as “sir” or “ma’am.”

He’s being polite.  Sooo polite.

But he’s a cop. And he has his hand on his gun, so the politeness is lost on you.

My Android phone has a habit of flashing a message that says “something went wrong.  Please wait while we log you back in.”

Could you be any more traffic cop-like?  There isn’t anything you can do with the phone but wait. So why bother with “please?”

I’d prefer “just a moment” if you want sincere politeness.  Otherwise a simple “wait” without the please will do just fine, thank you.

Let’s get straight who is in charge here.  

A computer with a sadistic streak could even say “wait, peasant!  We’re working on what you want and it’s going to take awhile.  Sit there and stew in your own juices.”  You can’t even type in the above mentioned “illegal command.”

A more passive computer might say “please understand, we are an inferior program and not ready for the kind of use we sometimes get. This is going to take some time.”

That’s wordy.  But at least it’s politeness without the flashing red lights and the cop with his hand on the gun.


--While on the topic of electronics, an etiquette problem.  With so many people leaving their phones on all the time, you have to think twice about the hour you send a message or text. Chances are you don’t want to awaken a sleeping recipient with word of your two year old’s latest “cutest thing.”

--Newsweek trumpets on its website that it’s back in print.  We’ll see how long that lasts.  Meantime, has anyone seen an actual copy on a newsstand?

--Review of car reviews:  Consumer Reports doesn’t like the Audi A-30 all that much but gives relatively high marks to the competing Buick Regal.  The New York Times dismantles the Ford Fiesta Ecoboost. And praises the Tesla all-electric but says a year of driving it required too many repairs.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2014

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