Category Archives: Poetry

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.

Jawbone Up 2012 Round Two for the Activity Tracking Bracelet

Last year Jawbone released a gadget that promised a lot, it was to be a bracelet designed by Yves Behar that tracked your exercise and along with an app for your phone allowed you to plan out your daily routines in an aim to get fit. Combining fashion and fitness with the use of your phone it all looked good and the hype was in full swing, then people actually tried it. The problem was that the bracelets were breaking.

Refunds had to be given and things went silent on the Jawbone Up while they went back to the design and took a look what was wrong. Now here we are a year later and Jawbone is back with a new version of the Up looking for a second chance with the hope to redeem itself and show people what this piece of tech can do. So the question is, are the bracelets truly fixed and more importantly has Jawbone done enough to catch up with a technological world that has move on a year since the initial release?

The Bracelet
It’s fair to say looking at the new bracelet Yves Behar’s design is looking to be less noticed than some other devices that are offered (for example the Nike+ FuelBand with its LED design). This bracelet goes for the more subtle approach with a better look for people who want to use the device and not really have to show it off. If it is noticed though it still looks good and fits around the wrist nicely. Looking at the issues with the original the 2012 version of the UP bracelet is more waterproof and more flexible in its design. This was said to be its original problem.

It’s obvious that Jawbone have concentrated on making the bracelet better, but not looked at improving the technology. Connection to your iPad or iPhone is done through a headphone jack, no Bluetooth or micro-USB support here, which is a shame. This also means that recharging is done through the jack and a converter to connect to the device. Battery life is good though with around ten days use before having to recharge.

Functionality

All of the power of the Jawbone Up is in the software used with it, so whenever you want to look at the details you have to plug it into your iOS device. This will take the date from your bracelet and give you a readout of your activity for the days. The app has been given an update since the last version. One new addition to note is the social aspect where you’ll be able to comment on your friend’s progress (if they are using the Up app too). This is nice to keep you motivated and add a level of competition to your exercise, as well as adding that little bit of shame if you slack off.

Along with the data from the bracelet you’ll also be able to track the foot you have eaten by putting the details into the app, this will let you see your personal calorie intake, when you ate and other information. This includes functionality to scan the barcode of your food to make identifying it better. The only drawback to this is that some of the foods aren’t in the database yet, and of course you can be showing what you are eating to your friends, which may not be something you want to do.

The next feature is the sleep tracking with the advertising saying that it will help you improve your sleeping patterns. There is also functionality within the bracelet itself to act as an alarm to wake you up when required, whether this works is questionable though as the vibrations it creates may not be enough to get your attention. The same vibration alarm is also used to detect if you are being too idle and need to become more active which can be quite a good alert to if you are having a lazy day.

Statistics

The aim of tracking your life using the Up bracelet and app is to push yourself to be fitter and to track what your food habits are. Even if you have this type of functionality available you still need control. For people who like exercise though it can be quite a useful too, but the fact is there are plenty of other devices like this that can actually do the same thing.

Verdict

The problem with the original Jawbone Up appears to be that the bracelet was breaking too easy and refunds had to be made to the customers. It’s nice to see that Jawbone took the design away and improved it to make it more functional and stronger, which is obviously important if you are going to be wearing the bracelet all day. It does appear that Jawbone have fixed the issues that they have found and have provided a good solid and flexible bracelet that can be used with the app to track your life.

The problem is though that there is really nothing that new in the Jawbone Up, especially compared with newer devices that offer the same functionality. Many phone can offer tracking without the bracelet, especially Android phones running the latest Jelly Bean OS so it’s questionable if people really need something like the up anymore? Saying this there are many positives to the Up, for people interested in tracking all their exercising and life and improve their health it definitely provides plenty of tools to help you with this.

Introducing the Pipo Tablet Company

When all the major brands are competing hard in the market providing the latest technology including the tablet products, the Chinese Pipo Tablet company is not far behind as well. Certainly the Chinese products manufactured from Shenzhen are one of cheapest brands to sell tablet computers around the world. Pipo is one those brands that has successfully entered the world’s market with their cheap tablets in various different shapes and sizes. However, very little is actually known about Pipo and therefore let’s have a look at how this company started to make its way to the tablet pc industry.

The Background of Pipo

Pipo has its origin from Taiwan but they manufacture their product from Shenzhen, China. The company started in 2003 where manufactured several mp3 players and distributed throughout the various parts of Asia. The cheap MP3 players became very popular among the people in eastern and south asia where Pipo exported their products in limited to some parts of Europe and North America as well. The company always upgraded their products like manufacturing MP4 and even what they called MP5 wave players for the East Asian market mainly. They also made cheap ebook readers, digital photo frames, speakers and so on. The manufacturers at the Pipo have always been on the lookout for what trend is going on in the technology industry and have always tried to come up with unique products to satisfy the customer needs to possess cheap and quality devices. Certainly, the digital photo frame was a very good innovation that no other companies have done before.

The Pipo Tablets

In the year 2010, when the tablet PC revolution was taking a hike with products like Ipad mini and so on, it was time for Pipo to step into the tablet market. In this process, till to this date, they have around 20 different tablet computers and smartphones in many different sizes ranging from 5 inches to 10 inches. Many of these products have received very good reviews from the users all over the globe where it is believed for Pipo tablets to have many features for multimedia and work at a very low and affordable price. Although android tablets are the most demanded tablet pcs, most of the Pipo tablets have the windows operating system in it, making it very famous among those users who prefer windows over android. Since, windows is user friendly for those who want to perform office related work at a very affordable price, the pipo tablets are certainly the most popular among all the Chinese products. Furthermore, Pipo also have some android tablets as well making them one of the few companies that use both the popular form operating systems in their products.

The Future

There is a high potential for the future of Pipo where they can become a very influential Chinese company like HTC and have a good share in the North American and European market. There is still plenty of areas of improvement for the company and through proper strategy they can develop into a prominent electronic product company fighting with the tech giants of the first world countries with quality and performance.

An Introduction to Twitter – 6 Ways to Promote Your Business, Organisation Or Club on Twitter

About 9 months in the past I was contacted by a client who was energized about Twitter and all it had to provide. At the time, I need to confess I knew extremely small about social media: Twitter was basically a title I had read in the paper but I was naive to all it had to supply. I felt like perhaps I had ignored one of the most critical new marketing and advertising tools on supply and I put Twitter on my record of things to attempt in the very close to long term. I was still a small not sure about tweeting and made a decision to 1st give it a go with one thing which was not company associated: my karate club. I am so pleased I did and I am now making use of it day-to-day in my personal company as properly.

In my pre-Twitter days, I would maintain in touch with my customers as often as doable but it was often a bit worrying that maybe I was sending one particular also many e-shots or producing a mobile phone call as well few. Those days of be concerned are over. You see, anyone that wishes to get updated on what is new on provide basically wants to verify out my Twitter page. Before Twitter, I would need to despatch e-shots, brochures etc. Now my info is previously distributed! It is there for anybody that wishes to study it when they want to study it. They basically want to go to my Twitter page to get up to date rapidly.

You may possibly ask how this is distinct to visiting a company’s own website. Can you not set updates there as a substitute? Well, it is a great deal different. You see, Twitter only makes it possible for you to create quick statements of 140 characters or less, including a net page link. You require to make your messages short and to the stage. This common social media web site is also interactive. I have a lot a lot more typical contact with my customers, close friends, suppliers and even competitors that was every single just before possible.

So how do you accomplish success making use of Twitter? Try the following 5 recommendations and you will be effectively on your way.

Open your totally free account: This is easy. You simply will need to go to http://www.twitter.com and fill in your particulars along with an email and password.

Appear For Individuals to Stick to: Twitter has a ‘people finder’ in the best proper corner. Look for companies or folks you know and press the adhere to button. The a lot more the merrier. Try to find and stick to businesses or people you would like to adhere to you and eventually do company with you. If the companies and men and women you adhere to are interested in your products and providers they will. This will assist generate a local community of followers: a captive audience if you like of men and women that are interested in what you have to say.

Make speak to with people subsequent you: When people get started to follow you, be positive to make speak to with them. Thank them for following you and supply your details once again. Something like: “Thank you for following (your business). If you require any details about (your product/s or solutions) please do not hesitate to make contact with me”, will do just very good.

Tweet Regularly: Perhaps you could make a behavior of tweeting your particular of the day each early morning with a hyperlink to the particular on your web site or you could introduce your customers to an report you just had published. Try not to make it all about business. Take an interest in your Twitter neighborhood. Think of this as a way to make the two company and informal conversation with your on-line neighborhood. If all you do is speak about organization all the time, people will soon switch off and end following you.

Shell out time on Building Your Local community: Soon after only one particular month on Twitter, the Google Page Rank of my Twitter page had by now gone to PR3. That is rapidly. The much more men and women that comply with you, the greater your Google Page Rank. Links pack to your website could turn out to be more substantial.

Really don’t overlook to Advertise You Are on Twitter: In your blogs, content articles and of program on your website let the men and women that make any difference know exactly where you are. You can also market your Twitter page on any printed media you may well deliver out. Make certain your buyers know in which to discover you and to hold in touch.

WE SURVIVE BY TELLING STORIES – ESSAY AT ON BEING PROJECT

Friends,

I’m delighted to have a second article published at The On Being Project Blog (formerly The On Being Blog).

In We Survive by Telling Stories I discuss folklore, faith, and prayer. This one is dedicated to my grampito who tells the best stories. Come by. I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for your support. I am so grateful for you, dear reader.

Abrazotes,

Carolina