Just about anybody over forty who’s ever been a fan of Monty Python will recognise that proud phrase from the hospital sketch in Python’s Meaning of Life, where the hospital administration show off their shiny new maternity features. If you’re not familiar, here’s the clip:
Machines that go ‘ping’ can be a fine addition to daily life. But how useful they are can depend upon the loudness and pitch of the ‘ping’. The ‘ping’ I was trying to follow this morning was the guiding chime of the find-my-iphone alert.
I was text-chatting with my husband just before getting back into the car after the school drop-off, so I was rather unnerved to find one back pocket empty just as I was stripping for a shower. I flung my clothes back on and was backing out of the drive to hurtle back whence I came when it occurred to me to use my iPad to find my iPhone. I parked (rather creatively), bolted back into the house and booted up the iPad, breathing quite shallowly until the little green dot settled over where my house was. Phew. After re-parking the car, I launched the iPad’s ‘make a sound’ option. First I checked the car. Couldn’t hear a hint of a ping.
I turned my hearing aids up, wondering if I was having a bad pitch deafness day, but still no ping.
Panicked, I dashed back into the house. I searched all the logical places. Then I started on the illogical places. In the far distance, I heard a faint ping. Very faint. But I have no sense of sound direction. I zipped from room to room and checked surfaces. I flung clothes up into the air. I moved furniture. I ran around some more.
On the top floor, the pinging grew a little louder. In my bedroom, it grew louder still. The problem is that I often experience something called acousma (echo after the sound), so I had no idea whether I was hearing a repeat of the last loud ping or a quieter ping because I was moving away from the source of the sound. I’ve never played such a maddening version of ‘hot or cold’ in my life.
I eventually found my phone behind the toilet in the top bathroom. It was hidden under the digital scales, which had crashed down on top of it. Naturally, I hadn’t heard the crash.
I’m delighted to have been reunited with my phone. But what finally told me that I was in the right room was the not the violence of the ‘ping’, but the sheer volume of the whistling, screaming feedback in my two Siemens hearing aids, which react peevishly when in close proximity to a high-pitched noise.
It would be lovely to be able to customise the find facility. For starters, I’d love to be able to over-ride the torch facility and screen glow to see the phone better whether it’s been left face up, or face down. Even better, I’d like to be able to over-ride the vibrate function (to find it when hidden under papers on the table). Most fun of all, I’d love my phone to work through a series of songs all chosen for my hearing pitch. I think I’d get less frustrated hunting for my phone to the strains of ‘keep the faith’, or ‘can’t get you out of my head’, even though I might feel slightly mocked by the song titles. An album full of heavy metal songs might guide me more rapidly to the scene of the lost gadget.
If you could programme your phone to compile a track list to play while you’re looking for it, what songs would you select?