Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Talking to a computer

The idea of talking to a computer and it understanding your commands has been going in and out since the seventies. Despite the increasing popularity of text messaging, voice-activated technology will soon be. Because of tiny keyboards and small touch pads, 'big-fingered' adults would rather shout out than type it out.

"Mobile voice-recognition technology now allows people to send text messages to friends by talking instead of typing; to scan through transcriptions of voice mail instead of taking time to listen to them all; to tell their phones what they're looking for on the Web; and, soon, to post to Twitter from their cars by speaking, allowing drivers to keep their eyes on the road."

A number of phone applications, such as ShoutOut now translate speech into text messages and e-mails. Eventually, computer might be able to listen so well, that the computer can anticipate the upcoming commands and sounds. The technology works by listening to a voice, translating it into digital data and then anticipating the next words or sounds. But as of right now, it's more of a guessing game.

Each year the technology and accuracy of these programs advances and improves. But there are some issues to resolve:
1. Background noise- If a person is on a bus or in a busy street, the voice recognition diminishes. Google's Nexus One is a solution to this problem. It has two microphones that records both voice and background noise and then it subtracts the background noise from the voice.
2. No one speaks the same all the time- A computer might not recognize your voice the first time, so the following time you might change your inflection and tone, leading to frustration. Just speak clearly and have a neutral accent.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Feds cracking down on social networking profiles

The next friend request you receive might not be who you think it is..it could be FBI. The Obama administration is considering sending FBI undercover to scope out social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. The U.S. Department of Justice said undercover work would help "communicate with suspects," "gain access to nonpublic info," and "map social relationships." On the other hand, the IRS produced a document stating that it was ok for the FBI to review information of public sites, but they are not allowed to "misrepresent your identify (sic) or obtain information from a Web site using a fictitious identity to register." The problem is that if the FBI do plan on joining the sites for investigation that they have to be careful not to violate the terms of service. Most social networking sites say that you cannot not make a profile using a name other than your own or without permission.

The FBI logging on to social networking sites might help them reach suspects or valuable information. I don't how ever think it is good they change their identity. As they gain information on daily suspects and investigations, they do not change their identity for the sake of gaining information and the law. The social networking sites can be a form of research.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Are you ready for 4G?

What if a 4G wireless connection could match a DSL or Cable connection speed? Would you still use DSL or Cable? Clearwire 4G Wimax service is the only company with an available 4G wireless connection on the market. Because of this, people who live in the 27 markets that Clearwire offers it's fast connect are ditching their DSL or Cable companies for this 4G experience.

Several DSL or Cable users are switching over to the 4G connection. For example, Tim Elliot, who lives in the area that Clearwire began its service, canceled his AT&T DSL contract and switched over to 4G. He says that he loves "being able to go anywhere in town with my laptop and no worrying about finding a hot spot." This service might also be convenient for users who do not want to triple or bundle TV, phone and internet.

But Clearwire is not the only company that will be offering 4G connections. Verizon Wireless and not putting together a 4G network called LTE and expected to service 25 to 30 markets by the end of the year. Even though companies like Verizon and AT&T will be offering the faster connections soon in the next year, they are careful to advertising anything about replacing any DSL or Cable connections due to the fact they offer those plans.

With the quick advances of technology and a race for speed, all internet and cable companies will be at war for the fastest and most efficient service. Because of this, the cost of creating new infrastructures will increase, but so will the customers lining up for more.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pivot your way to a new type of search

Sometimes the web can be a distracting and confusing element in our lives, where everything is taken over by data over the spread of page after page. Pivot, a newly-engineered program gives a user the ability to zoom in and out of web databases- spreading from topic to topic, with everything being connected and related.

The data we consume is greater than the sum of the parts. By filtering certain areas of the web, you can break down the data and information piece by piece. For example, looking at a mortality chart, you can filter down the types of death, which one is more predominant, going through which ever age you want. You can filter by age, sex, gender, types of death, by year, etc just by the click of a button and you are 'swimming in an info graphic.'

But if it is possible to do it for data (info graphic, etc), then why can't you do it for raw data (web searches, web sites, magazines, etc.). Well you can. Pivot lets you search a url for any website and zoom in and out of it and breaking it down to its different components of information, organized all to what you want to know. Example: You type in Sports Illustrated magazine. You can filter and zoom in/out of every magazine ever produced by Sports Illustrated.You can go into decades, years, specific issues, people featured. If you find a Sports Illustrated that Lance Armstrong was featured in, you can find all the magazine (Sports Illustrated) that Lance Armstrong was featured in and then you can see all the bicyclists that were ever featured in Sports Illustrated. Because of this, you can look at everything on the web, instead of page by page, but by filters, extracting information and teasing out knowledge.