Entirely unrelated to open-sourcery, but an interesting
anecdote to boot...
Last night I was driving home from a friend's house around midnight. As I was driving up Van Ness St, a major street that cuts through San Francisco, I stopped at a traffic light. In the lane next to me was a black Chevy with a picture of a lit Olympic torch silkscreened onto the door, and the words '2002 Olympic Torch Relay' on the back. I gave the driver a friendly smile and thumbs up, and he waved back. The light changed to green, and I drove on. As I was driving along at about 30mph, the car caught up with me, and the woman in the passenger seat rolled her window down, and yelled "Hey! I have something for you!", holding out her hand. I reached out my window, grabbed the small item, and yelled back a thank you. The item turned out to be a little gold 'Salt Lake City - 2002 Olympic Torch Relay' pin. A really cool souvenir to have!
Since the torch arrives in San Francisco today, I wonder if this is the actual vehicle that carries the torch from place to place?
update: 2001-12-27: fix CMU Sphinx URL.
This greatly amused me. From a CNN news story today:
October 25, 2001 Posted: 1:19 PM EDT (1719 GMT)
By Graham Jones CNN
(CNN) -- Microsoft has launched its new Windows XP operating system.
The system promises fewer computer crashes and will allow users to delete data from their hard drive.
Data deletion, wow! The great new feature in operating systems that the world has waited thirty years for with bated breath! Go Bill, go!
I went to Mountain View and saw fair and
Zack this weekend. fair's house gets my vote as one of the
finest places in the Bay Area to get quality hacking done.
Fast DSL, comfortable couch, nice folks, and unlimited
quantities of strong Earl Grey tea! I made lots of new
additions to alice, the car computing software that I've
been working on. The biggest addition is a new module
called PrefMgr, that acts as the central source for
retrieving and saving configuration data throughout the
system. Right now there's a file called
alice.config, which has UNIX style line separated
name/value pairs in the form VARNAME=value. When
the PrefMgr client starts, it reads the config data into a
hash table in memory, then opens a socket connection back
to the event distribution server (EDS), which is the
central core of the application. When other clients
connect to the EDS (like the speech i/o module, mp3 player,
etc) they register with it by sending a service name. The
EDS then passes this to the PrefMgr, which sends back a
list of current configuration settings for the service.
These are passed back to the client, which then continues
loading, using the options given.
Ideally I'd like to hack up a little web-based interface that would allow the user to easily set and change available options, rather than having to manually edit the config file each time. I considered initially using the speech rec. system to do this, but rejected it as impractical, because most of the options are set-and-forget (IP addresses, log file locations..), and setting the options in this manner would be a bit tedious. 'Set the Ee Dee Ess Aye Pee to one two seven dot zero dot zero dot one..', and so on.
Every time I add to alice, it gets closer and closer to being an application server for voice controlled programs. I think I like that.
I found an interesting article on the social aspects of talking computer systems last week -- http: //www.tlc.utexas.edu/articles/barchas.html
It talks a little about the interesting stories of how some people came to be the very recognizable voice within automated systems. UTexas' Tex class scheduling system, AOL, and the Wildfire personal assistant are mentioned. This passage amused me:
...Now, the fan groups and fascination spawned by the Wildfire voice are an indication that Harnett and company have been successful in their task of making the computerized assistant seem real.
Some men have become preoccupied with Wildfire, calling the company to find out information about her, sending her Christmas cards and starting Web sites to speculate about what she looks like and how she acts in person. For this reason, Wildfire's identity is still a secret. She lives in the Boston area. She has a day job. She thinks the foofaraw over her voice is interesting but tries to keep it in perspective. "She's not the girlfriend of the lead engineer anymore," Harnett said, "but they're still on very good terms."...
I got on a plane for my Australia vacation 5 hours before the WTC attacks. Consequently, it was an strange, although still enjoyable vacation. Shortly after getting back to SF, I moved house.
New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.
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