Sunday 11 Dec 2016

High-tech Hub
David Simmonds

Wellington, Ontario, has been at the epicentre of the wine boom. Now, it could be at the epicentre of the high tech boom.

A software developer by the name of Steve Fences, up until now, based in Toronto, is moving to Wellington this March, as Wellington is the location for beta testing his new application. “Wellington,” says Mr. Fences, “is the perfect representative community. If my new application works here, it will work in Toronto, Vancouver, Shanghai, anywhere.”

Well, that certainly sounds intriguing. Tell us more about it.

“It’s quite simple really, he says. “Let’s suppose I’m standing on a street corner. This program will tell me where I am, in one of two ways. First, the mapping function will orient me: it can find that my smartphone is located at the corner of Wharf and Main and concludes I must be there, too. Second, if for some reason the mapping function doesn’t work and tells you by mistake you are at the Wellington dump and you want to double check that, the photographic function of the program will take a picture of the street signs at the corner for you and capture for you the exact location for where you are standing.”


Does that happen often?

“Look, I said we’re beta testing, didn’t I? Still, there’s more.

“How many times have you wondered whether you’re walking down a long street in the wrong direction? Let’s suppose you can find a major body of water like Lake Ontario. If you point your smartphone to the lake, it will automatically remind you that the lake lies to the south. All you have to do is tell the program you want to go, say, east; it will flash a prompt stating ‘move 90 degrees to your left,’ and there you go: it’s as simple as that.”


Didn't we learn north, west, south and east in grade school?

“Maybe you might have done once upon a time, along with cursive writing and clock-hand reading. You must be more modern these days. Let me show you the main feature of the program.

“Once you know where you are and you are direction-oriented, you can simply ask the app the location of the nearest bank, drugstore, hardware store or similar shop or service. The app will automatically find it for you. Let’s say I’m still standing at Wharf and Main and I ask the app to tell me the location of the nearest grocery store. The app will search its Wellington database and spit out an answer in a matter of seconds.”

Isn’t there a grocery store on the corner of Wharf and Main, right before your eyes?

“Yes, you and I know that, now. I’m talking about the visitor to town who keeps his nose in his smartphone. This app lets him leave it there.

“The database is also wired to respond to more complicated commands. I’ve been working on asking it, ‘where do I go to get a latte to go at 4 pm on a Tuesday?’ It’s been a tough slog, but I think we’re almost there. I don’t want to make it seem this town is dry on a Tuesday afternoon. Should I include the places with Keurig machines? Should I have separated category for non-fat lattes or for cappuccinos? Who’s to say, but me; it’s a big responsibility.


"What I'm also having trouble with is vacation rentals."

"Right now, if I tell it to ‘show me summer vacation rentals in Wellington,’ it yields far too many answers to fit on a page. I’m thinking of reprogramming it so that it just shows me properties that are not vacation rentals.

“I’m also trying to think through the abattoir and art gallery issue. Perhaps people might get a little upset if they use the wrong command when they’re looking to purchase art. We could move one them into galleries-art or slaughterhouses-meat. Then, I suppose, we must list galleries-rogues or slaughterhouses-vegetables. What of corner stores, do we list them separately from convenience stores? Do we include closed stores or just open ones? What if stores might reopen: if we don’t guess right, it would be a nuisance to come back and re-input everything? It’s as if you have to have a crystal ball.

“We just have to get the coding protocols right, which is why we’re starting here in Wellington. I just keep telling myself Shanghai will be a piece of cake after this. I have to confess, even little Wellington is giving me cold sweats. I guess maybe I should be doing a little more alpha testing as well.”

Wellington has a high tech hub at the corner of Wharf and Main; who would have thought.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, Jimmy Breslin, the late Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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