22 Jan 2002 rupert   » (Journeyer)

ALICE, the mobile computing app server that I've been working on, is very close to a first beta release. To demonstrate the speech recognition and speech synth capabilities that it provides, it'll include an MP3 player module that's fully voice controlled.

The software is very stable, seems to be lightweight in terms of overall CPU/memory usage, and much easier to configure, since all of the modules use a central config file now. There are a couple of minor, mostly cosmetic bugs that I'm trying to squash, but good documentation has been a much greater focus. So far I've got an installation & 'quick start' guide hammered out, and I'm working on finishing a document that describes how to accomplish development tasks like creating new modules, changing the language model, and using the functions that the LCD display and speech I/O modules provide.

Good docs are something that a good majority of otherwise well written free software seems to lack. Documentation is at least as important as the actual executable, but constantly gets treated as the sort of bastard cousin of software engineering tasks. I particularly like Knuth's Literate Programming approach towards this end, although I think that adopting a middle-ground is probably a great deal more practical in most cases, since the philosophy expounded here is time intensive in the short term.

It's really cool that the app has finally gotten to this stage:

Me: What is the name of this song?
Computer: This song is Bookends, by Simon and Garfunkel.
Me: Thanks, Alice.
Computer: You're welcome, Rupert.

--- Rupert

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