Bringing pleasure to computerized machines

Automated Postal CenterIf you ever visit a large and/or busy post office, you may have seen one of the US Postal Service’s latest advances in self-service technology, the Automated Postal Center.

The post office near my downtown office building has one of these, and I love it. I use it every chance I get. Not to slight the job performance of postal workers (never cross a postal worker), but I find these machines to be faster and more efficient than going to the window, plus there’s almost never any line. Granted, maybe someday when everyone learns to love technology as much as I do (fax machines and photocopiers excluded), things will change, but for now I can usually just walk right up, take care of my business, and move on.

But there’s something about these machines I don’t like: the illogically friendly, human tone of the on-screen text, especially at the conclusion of the transaction:

Thanks. It’s been a pleasure serving you.

Really? Has it? Can a machine derive pleasure from anything? And if so, from serving me? Well, I suppose we do want our sentient utilitarian devices to be as servile as possible. But we’re not there yet. Some human wrote the computer program that operates this equipment, and they put that string of text into it. Who are they fooling? And why are those people being allowed out in public?

Wouldn’t “Thank you for your business” have sufficed? I’d feel a lot more comfortable with that.

I Am a Lazy Bastard

I am a lazy bastard. My laziness naturally leaves me inclined to stop right here, but I will fight it, because the only thing I cherish more than my laziness is the untold fame and glory showered upon me for my brilliant rants. (The fame and glory are untold because they don’t exist, of course, but please allow me my pipe dreams.)

Now where was I? Ah yes, my laziness, and my, uh, bastardness.

I have moments when I am, briefly, not lazy. And in those amazing and rare moments, I frantically bounce among my countless incomplete projects, hoping to push one of them far enough toward completion that I can coast to the finish line when I return to my inevitable state of lazy-librium.

Such is the case tonight. Wired on coffee and deluded about my own creative capabilities after skimming the latest copy of Print magazine at Borders, I returned home with grand visions (or at least murky hallucinations) of what wondrous new graphical overhauls I would undertake on this very web site.

Then I made the mistake of looking at what I already have.

Hmm… that’s not so bad, I thought. And maybe those grand murky hallucino-visions wouldn’t really work anyway. And besides, well, this one is already done. How can I argue with that? (Or could I, if only I were suffering a split-personality disorder?)

So instead, I took the usual lazy route… writing a rambling, incohesive, boring rant.

At least there’s one thing I’ll never be too lazy about, and that’s unnecessary parenthetical asides (like this one) and excessive use of italics!