Home Voice Automation is a Bad Idea… with Children

As I plugged in my Amazon Echo Dot today, an event that happens only once in a while, I realized that owning this sort of technology is a probably bad idea… with children.

Approximately 25-30% of households have children under 9 years old, and out of those households, a high percentage have more than 1 child. Have you personally experienced the gong show of children with voice automation? If not, you should pull up a chair, put on your patience cap, and watch. You wouldn’t think an AI (i.e. Alexa) could get angry… well, as it turns out, 3 children can definitely make Alexa want to turn herself off.

The whole event caused everyone in the room (AI included) to become immediately frustrated and confused.

Then it was turned off… until next time when I forget how frustrating it is.

IE6 Is Almost Dead, Really This Time!

Google really knows how to make me happy on a Tuesday morning:

In order to continue to improve our products and deliver more sophisticated features and performance, we are harnessing some of the latest improvements in web browser technology. This includes faster JavaScript processing and new standards like HTML5. As a result, over the course of 2010, we will be phasing out support for Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 ?as well as other older browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers.

We plan to begin phasing out support of these older browsers on the Google Docs suite and the Google Sites editor on March 1, 2010. After that point, certain functionality within these applications may have higher latency and may not work correctly in these older browsers. Later in 2010, we will start to phase out support for these browsers for Google Mail and Google Calendar. …

So now that Google is finally getting rid of IE6 support, the rest of the net will cave (if they haven’t stopped already) and if all goes well by the end of the year IE6 will be nothing but a story us geeks can tell over pint…

[joe] Oh, remember that time when I had to spend 3 days rewriting that great Javascript tool so that Neophyte Bob wouldn’t have to upgrade his nine year old web-browser?

[steve] 3 days! Meh, that’s nothing, try 5 days trying to get basic CSS2 to function properly.

[joe] Yeah, wasn’t there some sort of library we used called ie7.js to give it basic support?

[steve] I don’t think so, why would someone have to write a Javascript library for that?

[steve] Oh wait, yeah… that’s right, they did.

Because Everyone Has To Rant Once In A While

As a web developer in a graphic designers body I spend a lot of time making what I consider to be very usable and “pretty” interfaces, so I truly resent when Neophyte Bob arbitrarily and publicly posts something like “this interface is too techie” when what he actually mean is “this interface is not completely idiot proof”.

Come on Neophyte Bob it’s a blinkin’ select box, and by the way… stop using IE6.

A Solution to Earth’s Overpopulation

It is no secret that we have an over population problem here on Earth, in fact by 2050 based on the current rate of growth the expected human population on Earth will be well over 9 billion. It is also a fact that the way in which we live now is entirely unsustainable in every imaginable way, and based on what I see between our insistent need to “have” (me not excluded) and in some cases complete disregard for our planet, we are truly asking Mother Nature to grant us unimaginable devastation or worst.

I have a thought that may at first sound odd, but ponder this:

Homo Sapiens Minimus, This is Ed

Homo Sapiens Minimus, This is Ed

Meet “Homo Sapiens Minimus” a genetically modified homo sapiens sapiens (human) who is a 1/10th scale model of our current selves. Could we genetically modify humanity to simply reproduce smaller versions of ourselves; therefore, requiring less space, less resources and ultimately lesser of a foot print?

There are definitely going to be some harsh critics of such an out-of-the-box solution to our troubles. To interject before they can begin, I have come up with solutions to the top 5 concerns:

  1. What will we do with all of our current houses? They will be way too big if we are 1/10th our current size.

    True, modifications would need to be made to current houses, but think about it this way… all current houses could be then turned into apartment buildings; providing affordable housing for everyone. Any new houses built will obviously be much smaller, roughly the size of flats currently being built in England.

  2. How will I get to work? My current commute is already over an hour.

    Ah yes, the commute. Well my friend, in the future when we are all 1/10th the size everyone will fly to work in [currently] miniature airplanes! You see the reason we all do not all fly to work now is simply because we are too heavy to economically transport ourselves through the air due to Earth’s gravity; moving 7KG through the air is significantly simpler.

  3. Won’t my pet eat me when I am small?

    Depending on the type of pet you have, yes, there is a chance that your entire family may be eaten by Mr. Boots, whom you’ve loved for all these years. That is a sacrifice we as homo sapiens minimus will have to make.

  4. Will we not become less intelligent when our brains are 1/10th the size?

    No, we will be 1/10th scale in every way, which makes this argument irrelevant. Besides, are 1/10th scale model trains less intelligent than full size trains? No, we will just be smaller and not toot as loud.

  5. Will homo sapiens minimus play basket ball? I love bascket ball?

    As stated in concern #3, homo sapiens minimus will have to make certain sacrifices to make certain gains; unfortunately basket ball will no longer be played. Think of this as an opportunity to invent new games, ones that perhaps we don’t currently miss, only because we have not yet thought of them.

So these may not actually be the top 5 concerns of people who are concerned about miniaturization, but it did provide some comic relief none-the-less.

Open Letter to Rogers

I am a Rogers customer and have been for 4 years now. I have been anticipating Apple’s iPhone launch in Canada for well over a year, and I even held out on buying a hacked iPhone from the States, because I wanted to buy an “official” one from you guys to celebrate the Canadian launch. Heck, I was even going to wait in a line to buy one… that is until last week.

To my incredible surprise and disappointment, your iPhone plan pricing is in my opinion a complete joke that not only does not benefit me the customer, but also does not benefit your share holders. You are hindering your own long-term success with Apple, by trying to capitalize on your short-term monopoly. I believe your iPhone plans are undermining what Apple is trying to do in the cell phone industry, and I would be surprised if Apple just let you do it.

I just wanted to let someone at Rogers know (even though a human will probably never read this) that I hope you enjoy the 100 iPhones Apple has sent you for your big launch (joke re: Apple sanctioning Rogers), and that the GPS feature is not attractive enough for me now (because of your plan pricing) to not buy a hacked 1st generation iPhone from the net.

Disappointed Customer,
Matt Simpson

Board Room Of Snakes

So there is this movie out now… Something about snakes on a plane or something stupid like that. ha. It seems that a bunch fat cat executives and their slave-type man-boy assistants tried to write a movie as part of their mid-life crisis.

I seem to have found this dialogue from their first meeting:

INT. FANCY BOARD ROOM – MID AFTERNOON

A fancy executive type board room full of fat cat executives and their slave-type man-boy assistants. WALTER struts into the full board room cackling at something on his cell phone, followed by TIMMY, a spineless errand boy with his arms full of books and papers.

WALTER
(insincerely)
Sorry I’m late gentlemen, I was… stuck in traffic if you know what I mean. (cackles aloud, alone)

So I have all this money, damit, lets make movie… A scary, scary movie… one that people will be scared of… really scared of. (cackles aloud, alone, again)

Timmy, what are people scared of?
TIMMY
(cowering)
Dust?

WALTER
(impatient)
No

TIMMY
(cowering)
The IRS?

WALTER
(more impatient, yelling)
No!

ROGER, a fat cat from Texas on the other end of the long table speaks out.

ROGER
(yells)
Snakes, I hate snakes. Crazy little critters, yeee hawwww.

WALTER
(delighted)
YES, snakes! Snakes are good.

SIMON, ROGERS slave-type man-boy assistant, whispers to ROGER.

ROGER
(disgusted and ashamed)
Flying? Boy, you’re scared of flyin’?

ROGER, about to go off on SIMON is interrupted by WALTER.

WALTER
(excited)
That’s it! We’ll make a movie about snakes on a plane?

TIMMY
(confused, cowering)
But, what is it going to be about boss? What would it be called? How would snakes get on a plane?

WALTER
(invisioning)
You idiot, it’s about snakes on a plane, snakes on a plane, and who cares how they got there.

ROGER
(excited)
Yeee hawwww.

Anyways, thats how that script I, erm, found said it initially went down. I believe it. Then I’m told they found some out-of-work writer, who happened to be addicted to meth, to actually write the movie.

Then when they actually showed the script to someone who knew what they were talking about, sh@t hit the fan as described in the other dialogue I, erm, found.

EXT. PATIO IN AN UPSCALE CAFE

Fat cat WALTER waits in anticipation as JEAN-PIERE a French artisan-type movie director dressed in black reads in horror the script which he must now direct because of a lost bet about loafer lightener.

JEAN-PIERE
(repulsed)
Vat is dis? You caunt be serious?

WALTER
(completely not getting that JEAN-PIERE is repulsed)
Isn’t it great! Lets get started.

A single tear runs down JEAN-PIERES face.

JEAN-PIERE
(crying)
Dis will ruin me? De only thang that would make this acceptable…

(his face lights up)
Is… is…

WALTER waits eye-wide in anticipation.

JEAN-PIERE (CONT)
A single good actor… no critic previews… advertising which vill cost more dan de movie… and most importantly… release it ven there is absolutely nothing… nothing… nothing… else in da theatres… (smug, evil look on his face)

WALTER
(confused but ecstatic)
My movie making dream will finally be a reality!

Yeah, so there you have it. The dialogue of the making of that movie about snakes… on a plane. Embarrassing stain on Hollywood? I think maybe. You?

Earth To Amy!

So my friend (and co-worker) Amy is somewhere down in Peru right now on a three week * “vacation” and we were just sitting around the office a moment ago wondering what exactly she is up to right now. Perhaps she’s wandering around Lima, perhaps she’s taking flight over the mystic Nazca Lines, perhaps she’s even hiking the ancient Machu Picchu Trail… What ever she is doing right now, she is probably having the time of her life and enjoying a touching, life changing, cultural experience. She sure is a traveller.

So Amy, cu-do’s and enjoy your trek! Oh and a big high five from Canada, in the odd event that you are actually reading my blog while enjoying your time in a small rural Peruvian village. erm… prolly not, at least I hope not. Oh but in case you are, HAPPY belated BIRTHDAY (it was yesterday). Our birthday wish for you was that you don’t have to endure the eating of small rodents while on your vacation… of course being a vegetarian and all, not because eating guinea pigs is weird or anything. erm…

Safe journey and we’ll see you when you return. We’re looking forward to reviewing the 4GB’s of photographs you’ve taken while away, on Flikr no less.

* The word vacation is in quotes because to me, a vacation entails being served copious amounts of strawberry daiquiris while sitting on my ass in a beach chair by the warm ocean. For the love of all that is holy it’s called “Vacation Time” Amy; not “Haul Your Ass Around The Globe Time” geeze! haha. But of course when I return to work after a vacation, I’m “dumber” to the nth degree as a result of all the booze and sun versus you returning smarter and energized as a result of your touching, life changing, cultural experience. But come on! *thinking of the Simpsons episode when Homer is walking down the beach in a speedo, singing “I’m in Ri-o! And I’m walking on the beach, I’m a speedo!”*

Goodbye Children, Bye Chef

Andrew just sent me a link to a post over at 411Mania about Issac Hayes wanting to leave the voice of Chef from South Park because he is upset about a recent episode that pokes fun at Scientology.

Issac Hayes upset over Scientology episode…

Issac Hayes is trying to get his release from the TV show “South Park.” He has served as the voice for Chef since 1997 but is apparently upset over the show’s recent episode making fun of the Scientology religion. Hayes is a Scientologist.

“There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins,” Hayes says. “Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored. As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices.”

The reason I find this so comical is that it actually took South Park making fun of his own religious beliefs before he was upset enough to want leave the show. I don’t seem to recall any outbursts when they were making fun of Christians, Jews, Jehovah Witness, Muslims, Barbara Streisandism, etc, but when they make fun of Scientologists and Scientology it was no longer comedic satire, but “intolerance and bigotry”.

I’m sure there is more to the story than what I’ve read thus far, and I don’t claim to know the whole issue… but come on Mr. Hayes, the chocolate salty ball is in your court to clear your name of being a serious hypocrite.

The Case of the Missing Brownies

When someone promises to bake you chocolate brownies with sprinkles and bring them into work for you the next day, you sort of get excited. Who doesn’t love chocolate brownies? Free ones! Homemade? Yummy.

So I come into work this morning, with my bib and a glass of milk… but where are the brownies? Catherine (our administrative assistant) decided she had better things to do last night than fulfill her promises and obligations to bake us chocolate brownies with sprinkles.

I for one am appalled and hurt; the betrayal… well, I’m not sure it will ever leave me. *sigh* Just when you think you know someone…

Best Regards,
Matt Simpson