Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Torture by iPhone

Why didn't the clock wake him? He was such a light sleeper! "Arvie!" she called; no answer. "Arvie !" she called again, with a strange ring of remonstrance mingling with the terror in her voice. Arvie never answered. - from "Arvie Aspinall's Alarm Clock", by Henry Lawson


I'd had my iPhone-4s for just four days. Prior to this I'd been an Android Samsung gal. And I'd used heaps of Samsung Galaxy apps, including the inbuilt alarm feature.

Before I go on, I have to explain - alarms are of special significance in my life. Being a child of OZ (Australia) I grew up on Henry Lawson stories. One in particular caught my attention, and stayed with me - "Arvie Aspinall's Alarm Clock".

It is all about a little boy forced because of economic circumstances, to get up at the crack of dawn to earn a crust. It's a short story and in the end little Arvie doubts the Protestant work ethic (he was an intelligent child), gets a bad cold, and fails to wake at the sound of his alarm clock. He has died in the night.

I remember both of my parents telling me this story and dinning it into me that life was cruel, bosses were even crueler, and something else ... about capitalism ... but I forget what that was.

What struck me at the time was that Arvie owned a clock. I didn't. And that he had a job. I didn't.

This just goes to show that you can't count on your kids getting your message.

In any case, because of, or in spite of little Arvie, I've always had a thing about alarm clocks.

I'd liked my Samsung Galaxy alarm app. It was easy to set, and in the morning would start by sounding its alarm sound very very softly, and slowly increasing the volume. Starting off almost sub-auditory. By the time it reached hearing threshold, I'd be awake.

But then, I bought the iPhone-4S.

The inbuilt alarm on the iPhone has just one set volume. You can make it soft or loud, but as far as I can tell, there is no feature to have it start soft and morph to high. There seemed to be no way of setting it to come on at a very low volume and then to increase it until you woke. Furthermore, I am not familiar enough with iPhones to easily navigate the settings section. So I was unable to tailor the phone to play an alarm sound of my choice. I was stuck with the default which is something mid-way between a 1960's ambulance siren and a New York fire alarm.

For a few days I walked around a shattered wreck. And then DING - it dawned on me ... there must be an app for that.

So I cybered over to the cyber market-place and bought the first alarm app that had 4 stars. It looked good. You could set the alarm so the sound started off softly softly, and you could even set the number of seconds till it reached full volume. Plus there was a flashlight feature that I didn't bother with. I'd look at that later, I thought.

And so, on Sunday night I went to sleep, certain that I'd awake to the gentle sounds of Vivaldi's Four Seasons Autumn.


Yep. You got it. I'd forgotten to disable the iPhone default app alarm. And what's more the flashlight feature of my new app had defaulted to "on".

At 6:58 am precise I was awakened to the sound of ambulance sirens and fire alarms at full bore, drowning out Vivaldi's Autumn which cut in at exactly the same time, and accompanied by a searing iPhone flashlight searing straight through my retinas into my brain.

Enough already yet. Arvie, my mum and dad were right.

Alarm clocks suck!

Bring on the revolution.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This one's a beaut, Kate. Love it! Do you ever submit to the New Yorker?

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