Category Archives: Marginalized

Ladies and Gentlemen, Microsoft’s New Voice Controlled PA, Cortana

Microsoft has come up with its own Window’s phone assistant and her name is Cortana. Since digital assistants are all the rage these days, here’s a look at what Cortana is all about, according to the latest science and technology news.

The Setup

Basically, Cortana is designed to learn about the user, and with intelligence that comes from Bing, language processing courtesy of Tellme, and the combined knowledge of Satori’s repository and Microsoft’s Cloud, Cortana can has the power to sense when you feel like taking a nap and silences your phone for you. To set her up, all the user needs to do is choose from some pre-defined categories, such as, headline news, health, sports, and technology. The user can also set their favorite sporting teams, or their favorite restaurant they usually have meals in. Cortana then delivers you information based on your likes and your current location. It can also make suggestions based on what you do and where you do it. the information is then stored in Cortana’s notebook which can be viewed as the equivalent of Google Now’s homescreen.

Cat Fight!

So, can Cortana hold her own against the likes of Google Now and Apple’s Siri? That’s the big question and one that we’ve got the answer for (the hard way). In a way Cortana is unique when it comes to artificial intelligence personal assistants, mainly because Microsoft took its time to study the others in the genre and just came up with a tweaked up version of the AI personal assistant, but how does it fare with the likes of Google Now and Siri?

Well, the first thing one would need to fix in their brain is that Cortana is in actuality, Microsoft’s own Bing search engine through and through. But don’t get us wrong, while Cortana does use the Bing platform, it is all Cortana, and while it’s no woman, it is female. This is actually Microsoft has shown its innovative genius, since Cortana is an extension of the Bing search engine it is a lot similar to Google Now which runs on Android devices. So, in other words, Cortana is able to recognize the stuff that interests you and then use Bing to mine the information you would need or find useful.

At the moment, there are only five 3rd party apps that are built for Cortana, and they are Hulu, Twitter, Facebook, Skype and Flixster. Microsoft has used a combination of cloud and on-device computation, for Cortana’s voice control function, which means that when you speak to Cortana, patterns of your speech are used to interpret your commands and if Cortana is unable to understand what you have said, it will reach out to its neural network to pick out possibilities. According to the latest science and technology news, this function actually helps Cortana learn and improve on its language interpretation and voice recognition functions over time. If you put the three head to head, Cortana and Google Now both have precognitive abilities which Siri doesn’t, but as far as functionality goes, Cortana clearly has the edge.

In a nutshell, Cortana has a personality of its own and because it’s voiced by the same actress of Halo, Jen Taylor, which means that you no longer have a robot like voice responding to your queries and on a side note, since there is an Halo element to Cortana, it is also capable of responding to any Halo related questions you might have.

Ending Note

In the end, the sole purpose of Microsoft to develop their own artificial intelligence personal assistant was to not only have a heads up on their rivals, but to also imbue their creation with a personality of its own and it seems like they’ve succeeded. That being said, it’s still a beta, which means that there might be more to expect when it is officially launched in the Microsoft Windows 8.1 phone which is due later on this year.

iPhoto Basic Editing on your iPad and iPhone

It’s fair to say for the average user of a camera, which means not the professionals or hobbyists who want to have something more advanced, the smartphones like the iPhone is the camera of choice. As we snap away with the phone and build up a collection of pictures it’s nice to have some kind of app to edit these pictures and add our own little style to them.

Users of Mac computers will already know of the iPhoto app for the Mac as it comes for free with the OS. The good thing about it being an apple product though is that they have now made it available for the iPhone and iPad too meaning you can edit your images on any device, though the iOS version is not as powerful as the Mac version, and not as connected between the two types of devices as much as we may like. The fact that we can still edit our images though is still a good thing.

 

Managing Your Images

The first thing that is noticeable with the app is that you can use Photo Journals on your phone. This is a cloud service meaning that you can share the images between your devices as well as having a unique URL for the image giving it access over the internet. Of course this helps with the Social Media side of things which can also be done through the app. One thing you’ll have to be aware of though is the file size, on the cloud and on the Mac they can be full size but on the iOS devices they will be limited in side. This is down to the limitations of the devices themselves.

User Interface

As can be expected from Apple the user interface is slick and easy to use. Through a thumbnail browser it’s easy to pick the image you want to view, and edit with the ability to view the image full size to check on its focus and colour etc. There is also the ability to view the images through Airplay or Apple TV, as well as through an HDMI cable to your TV. This is useful for not only home use business too for presentations. Although you can organise your photographs into the folders the app provides it’s annoying that you can’t create your own folders for more choice.

Editing your Images

Editing includes the ability to zoom into the images and apply filters, sharpen the image, lighten and darken it and desaturation. These options apply to the image as a whole, but through use of brushes it is possible to edit the image at a local level. These edits that are made only affect the image once it is re-rendered so you can mess with it to find the perfect change, knowing that you can undo it whenever you need to.

Verdict

For the average iPhone, iPad user who wants to edit the photographs that they have taken while on a day out or a good night with friends this is a good app that gives them basic editing potential and is quite fun. The more advances user though will see the weaknesses straight away, but it is obvious who exactly this app is for. It would have been nice if there was more compatibility between the devices and the Mac iPhoto software, and the restrictions to the image resolutions does hold the app back slightly but future upgrades to the software may improve these issues.

LG 65LA970 a Smaller Super HD Showing Us The Future of Big Screen TV

Coming off CES it’s fair to say that we’ve had a look at what the year will bring and for gaming it’s looking quite good. Another area that made an impact was the expected Ultra HD televisions. With the likes of the LG 84LM960V and the Sony KD-84X9005 we were introduced to the huge screen 4K resolution televisions that come at a cost but show just how beautiful televisions can be now.

To continue the invasion of the 4K Ultra HD televisions companies are now reducing the size of the screens, which will also reduce the price that they cost to buy too. This is a sure sign that 2013 could be the year 4K becomes an affordable expense and the next big upgrade for home viewers. This will of course be dependent on just where the cost is set at. LG are one of these companies that are looking to provide smaller screens with two new models, the LG 65LA970 which we’ll be previewing here and the LG 55LA9700 which are 65-inch and 55-inch screens.

Build
The LG 65LA970 is very similar to the LG 84LM960V, it’s smart and stylish and looks good. The obvious difference is the size. Not only will this have an effect on the screen quality in a way, but it also makes it a more manageable size for your home. It may be the case that you buy the smaller models to fit in your living room, instead of picking the more huge variety. The fact is though these are still big screens and have kept the good looks of their bigger sibling.

Features
The features on the television (other than the Ultra HD 4K resolution) are the same as the LG 84LM960V as well as some of the other latest LG televisions. Passive 3D is included, and LG’s Smart portal is provided as the user interface for the menu and access to the internet apps. SmartShare is a feature provided that also offers quick access to content on mobile phones through the use of NFC tags. There is also the new LG Magic Remote which features a microphone for voice control and a mouse like functionality on the screen.

Picture Quality
When it comes to the 4K resolution this is where the possible issues will be found. On the 84-inch models the screen has room to breathe and to show it’s true potential, 64-inch does have some loss, but at 55-inch there could be a noticeable different. The quality of the screen and image though is still above normal HD and still deserves the moniker of being “Ultra HD”. The Passive 3D is also very high quality, you’ll make a lot of use out of your 3D blu-rays with these televisions.

Audio

Most people who buy a television that is this high tech will probably have their own sound systems that will connect straight to the LG 65LA970, but if you choose to run it off the build in speakers it’s pleasantly surprising that the audio quality is above average. Of course more will come out of this with reviews and testing.

Verdict
Looking at the televisions that are being used to show off the 4K resolution Ultra HD show that 2013 is going to be a big year for televisions. The cost will have to come down to a more reasonable price which may happen with these smaller models then more people will start to buy them. There may be issues with the image quality as the screens are pushed to be smaller and people who want to have the “full” Ultra HD will probably opt to try for the bigger screens, but at least we have a choice for people who finds their wallets aren’t big enough for the full cost of being so up to date with technology.

Learn how to Remove Applications from iPad

Apple’s iPad has been used widely in the present time and a lot people have been seen to acclaim this devices as one of the best gadget they have purchased so far. Although a very useful gadget which is following the latest trends and technologies, it has often caused some confusions over the minds of various users to perform certain basic tasks using it. For instance, I have seen most of the users simply asking for help to get rid of an application which he installed on his device but remains clueless on how to remove applications from iPad. Here, I am not talking about the gadget-savvy geeks who seems to have the expertise to even dig out the internal chips from it but instead this situation is seen to be very much true for novice users who had no such technical skills over it or has just laid his hands on the gadget. Whatever may it be, let us now have a look at the various steps on how to remove installed apps from iPad.

Steps to remove or uninstall applications from iPad

You can easily remove or uninstall any installed application which is being purchased or otherwise downloaded from the iPad AppStore very easily without going through any complicated steps. This very task belongs to preliminary information only and can be accomplished by one and all with a very few steps as mentioned below:-

To start with, you need to simply locate the application which you want to uninstall from the iPad and keep pressing the same for some time until you can notice that the various icons which are placed on the homescreen begins to shake or wiggle. This is the same approach which is also used to re-arrange the icons within the homescreen of the device.

After completing the first step, you will now be able to see a small cross mark ‘X’ which would be present at the upper left-hand corner of every applications listed there. Now, just click on the ‘X’ symbol which is located on the target app that you desire to uninstall.

At this stage, you will be prompted with a message to either delete or cancel the operation while also warning you that the various data which are associated with the said app would also be deleted. Confirm the process by tapping on the Delete button.

You may also be asked to rate the application which you have confirmed to remove. There will be five stars which you can tap to rate before committing to the unistallation process or otherwise skip it by tapping the ‘No Thanks’ button.

Congratulations!! Your application is now successfully removed from the iPad device. If you need the app to be installed in the device again, you can restore it easily from the AppStore whenever you wish.

So, these are the few easy steps involved through which you can remove any installed apps from your iPad device effortlessly. Therefore, no need to panic when you are stuck with any annoying application as you can easily trash them out of the device.

BEING IS THE GREATEST ACT OF RESISTANCE- ESSAY AT THE MUDROOM BEING IS THE GREATEST ACT OF RESISTANCE- ESSAY AT THE MUDROOM

Hey friends,

I’m over at The Mudroom writing a short reflection on storytelling, migration, and existing in predominantly white spaces. Come over.

The article is here: Being is the Greatest Act of Resistance

Abrazotes,
Carolina