Selben was working at this temporary location solo while Soda was off having a baby (well, his wife was, but anyway!). It was a simple phone and local IT support gig while the regular employee was on a long vacation. While the office was large, IT support only consisted of two techs. The rest of the office consisted of software engineers and a couple of VIPs, who were given top priority. Selben had been at the office for a couple weeks and was nearing the end of his contract, when he got the call.
Selben: This is Selben. How can I help you?
VIP: My keyboard software is acting up!
Selben: I see. I’m not super familiar with that. What is it called?
Selben looked around, but the other tech was on lunch, so it was up to him to help the VIP.
VIP: It’s called ‘DICTATION MODE’.
Selben: Okay. Let me get connected so I can see.
After struggling for 20 minutes, Selben was unable to get connected to the VIP and opted to walk over to his office. He shot an email to the other tech, letting him know where he was. The office was two floors up, so he wasn’t 100% abandoning his post.
VIP showed him the software. When he ran it, a bunch of command prompt windows opened and closed, before displaying a box stating, “Ready, please begin.” VIP started talking, and the dictation filled the screen quickly. Seeing nothing wrong, Selben asked what the issue was. It was displaying almost every word he spoke, even correcting itself for mispronounced words. VIP complained it was slow sometimes, but now it seemed okay.
He closed the window before Selben could get a good look. Another series of command prompt windows opened, running more tasks, and quickly closed.
He ran it several more times, and it appeared to be working flawlessly. Selben scratched his head.
Selben: I’ve never seen software like this. Where did you say you got it, again?
VIP: One of the engineers came up with it. Zetol, I think.
Selben: Okay. I’ll talk with him.
Selben walked over to the engineer and started explaining the issue. He began to laugh loudly and asked Selben to follow him. They returned to VIP’s office, he opened the software once again and turned on VIP’s speakers.
A disembodied voice came out of the speakers.
Voice: Hello Mr.VIP I am ready to dictate for you, please begin.
VIP: The software can talk too?! That’s amazing, but why is it slow?!
Voice: Oh, I am sorry Mr.VIP. All of our agents type over 60WPM, but we are human too.
Zetol let out a sigh.
The ‘software’ that VIP was running was actually an auto-dialed session to connect with a third-party dictation company who would type whatever was said. After the session was closed, they would save the files to an online storage provider. While VIP had been explained all of this when he first got the software, at one point he had turned off his speakers. After he could no longer hear the agent on the other end of the line, he had forgotten he was actually talking to a person.