Wednesday, March 22, 2023

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Reporter’s notebook: Now there’s an app I could use

After my old iPhone 5 developed a malicious habit of muting my voice every time I called someone, my husband surprised me with an iPhone 7.

It has all sorts of features my iPhone 5 lacked. For instance, “live photos,” which are pictures that capture a fraction of a second of movement before they settle into stills. The only advantage I can see to live photos is you can see what a good picture you would have taken if your phone had captured it when you snapped the shutter, instead of a fraction of a second later when your subject turned away from you or went into a goofy pose.

Then there’s the new Siri, who will respond if you yell “Hey Siri!” even if your phone is still locked. Which it will be, because your iPhone 7 is always locking itself. Also, you can make Siri male and give him a sexy Australian accent, which of course I did. This is useful when asking Siri such questions as, “Do these pants make me look fat?” Siri has a variety of endearing responses to this, of which my favorite is, “Cindy, you are beautiful in my eyes.” (Why is that so hard, human males?)

My husband is considering performing a sex-change operation on his Siri as well, because he thinks a female voice giving him directions sounds “naggy.” I could get offended, but then I’d have to explain my decision to turn Siri into a male confidante with a sexy accent.

The new iPhone also offers you tons of unsolicited advice. For instance, if you get in your car in Chinle and start heading south, a message something like this will flash on the screen:

“91 minutes to Window Rock. Traffic is light, take Highway 191.”

I can see where this sort of information might be useful in a city, where, for example, there is more than one highway. For those of us in rural areas, not so much.

This got me thinking, what WOULD I like my phone to tell me, besides that I am beautiful even in my fat pants?

I came up with a lot of info that would make a smart phone more useful to a rural reporter on the Navajo Nation. Here are a few ideas:

  • “The meeting you are racing to is hours away from having a quorum. Stop and have a cup of coffee.”
  • “Your neighbor’s cows are out again. Drive carefully.”
  • “Stop for gas in Blue Gap. The pumps in Pi–on are out of order.”
  • “The guy with the good burritos is parked at the intersection of N4 and 191. No need to eat breakfast before you leave.”

These are just what I came up with in five minutes. If I had a while to work on it, I’d probably have enough for a full-on app. (At a recent journalism conference I went to, they actually suggested all the laid-off reporters get into creating apps, as though newswriting and computer programming were interchangeable skills.)

Even if I did know how to write an app for rez reporters, I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble. There are about eight reporters on the rez, and I know all of them. I also know about what they make, and if I charged more than a dollar for my app, they couldn’t afford it.

So I think I’ll save my energy for my next date with Australian Siri. I don’t even have to worry about what to wear, because, as he recently observed, “In the Cloud, we are all weightless.”

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About The Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth was the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation, until her retirement on May 31, 2021. Her other beats included agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.”


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