In the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the crew of the Starship Enterprise would command the computer to do all sorts of things. The way they ordered the computer to replicate a beverage, for instance, revealed a little bit about their personalities.\n\tHere\u2019s how the analytical Captain Jean-Luc Picard would say it: \u201cTea, Earl Grey, hot.\u201d The order descends logically, starting with the main subject followed by the modifiers, which presumably makes it easier for the computer to understand. Tea. What kind of tea? Earl Grey. How would you like it? Hot.\n\tHere\u2019s how the touchy-feely Counselor Deanna Troi would say it: \u201cCup of hot chocolate.\u201d When the modifier comes before the noun, the computer must listen to the entire string and then figure it out.\n\tI hadn\u2019t thought about this for years until I got an iPhone 4S, which has a voice-enabled artificial intelligence engine, called Siri, built into iOS 5 and running on the fast A5 dual-core chip. I soon found that the way I commanded Siri to perform tasks was the difference between success and failure.\n\tIn other words, Picard\u2019s logical method worked the best.\n\tFirst off, lead your command with a verb. This lets Siri know what app or function it should open. If you don\u2019t open with a verb, Siri tends to conduct a Web search on the topic, usually finding nearest places with the topic in the name. It\u2019s important to note I\u2019m talking about commands, not questions for Siri to answer.\n\tNext, get subject keywords up front. Like Picard, the main subject should be one of the first words you say after the verb, followed by the modifiers. This stream of logic gives Siri a direct path. Here are some verb-subject combinations (along with the modifiers in parenthesis):\n\t\u201cRemind me (to take out the trash at 7 p.m.)\u201d sends Siri to the Reminder app. \u201cRead text (from my sister)\u201d sends Siri to the Messages app. \u201cPlay the song (Viva la Vida)\u201d sends Siri to the Music app. \u201cStart timer (for two minutes)\u201d sends Siri to a timer function.\n\tUse the verb \u201cschedule\u201d and the keyword \u201cappointment\u201d followed by a stream of modifiers to enter an appointment in the Calendar app. Consider this Picard-esque command sequence: \u201cSchedule an appointment (for tomorrow at noon called coffee with Joe).\u201d\n\tScheduling an appointment in your Calendar app can be a little tricky. Siri will stop listening if it senses a pause in your speech, which usually happens during your long list of modifiers. This can be very frustrating. So you\u2019ll need to practice commands in a consistent way to avoid pauses.\n\tWhatever you do, please avoid the dramatic pauses and wordy speeches of Picard\u2019s predecessor, Captain James Kirk, played by William Shatner. This will be very frustrating not just for Siri, but for anyone within ear shot.