In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: Don't Ask, Don't Tell...Your Computer
2. Today's Top Story
- Hackers Exploit Windows 'MS06-040' Security Vulnerability
- Microsoft Issues Advisory About MS06-040 Attack
3. Breaking News
- U.K. Authorities Loosen Airline Laptop Restrictions
- No SA 'Make Goods' From Microsoft, Says Gartner
- Intel To Winnow Pentium D Dual-Core Lineup
- Grid Computing Doubles Capability Of Hurricane Research
- Storage Guru Predicts Major Changes In Technology
- Q&A: Pat Moorhead, Advanced Micro Devices
- Oracle Refreshes PeopleSoft CRM Software
- How To Build A High-Class Media PC With Antec's Fusion Media Center
- Go Daddy Only The Latest Tech IPO Flop
- Security Spec Near For Burning Downloaded Movies To DVDs
- Open-Source E-Mail Options Expanding
- Integration For Real People
4. Grab Bag
- Microsoft: Build Your Own Xbox Game (BetaNews)
- The Rotary Cellular Phone: The Ultimate In Retro Low-Tech Chic (Gizmag
Emerging Technology Magazine)
- The Subway With Ease (Government Technology)
- Chipped Passports Coming Monday (Wired News)
5. In Depth: E-Business
- AOL Search-Term Data Was Anonymous, But Not Innocuous
- Microsoft Opens Beta On WYSIWYG Blog-Writing Tool
- New Gecko-Based Browser Debuts
- Google Adds Video Link To Home Page
- AOL Buys Userplane To Expand IM Ad Network
6. Voice Of Authority
- Blinded By The Glare Of Facial Piercings At Black Hat (Or, The One That
7. White Papers
- Improve Marketing, Sales, And Service Processes
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription
Quote of the day:
"I never think of the futureit comes soon enough." -- Albert Einstein
After over 20 years in No Man's Land, it seems like speech recognition is finally finding its
groove: telephone-based customer service.
It's certainly true that speech recognition has a devoted user base, especially among differently
abled workers. The technology has long helped those who aren't able to see their computer screens
well or at all, and so rely on speech recognition to read a Web site for them, or help input a
word processing document. It has also proven useful for people with repetitive stress injuries
and other people unable to use a keyboard and mouse.
As much of a boon as it's been to the disabled community and the co-workers, customers, and
partners who benefit from these individuals' skills, speech recognition has never really achieved
the type of mass-market promise that manufacturers have, well, talked about. The last time I
wrote anything in-depth about speech recognition was in 1984, for InformationWeek when I
worked here as a cub reporter just learning about the tech industry. (Sorry, I can't give you a
Web link for something that far back; you're just going to have to trust me on this one.)
Back then, the dream was of cubicles full of white-collar workers all talking into their
computersin other words, many, if not all of us, would use speech as the user interface of
choice in the not-too-distant future.
Turns out that scene from The Jetsons didn't come to pass for technical as well as
practical reasons. First, the software typically needs a training period to get used to a given
person's speech patterns and cadence. Any two people, even of the same generation and from the
same geographic region, will pronounce words a bit differently, and the software needs its owner
to read through fairly hefty a list of words, at least twice, to understand when that person says
"girl" versus "pearl."
Still, the accuracy rate just isn't that great, as anyone who's wrestled with "customer service"
telephone systems can attest. My personal favorite is when you call the main switchboard number
and get one of those verbal employee directories. Nine times out of 10, I get the wrong person
and have to call back three times to figure out how to reach an operator. (System: "Please speak
the name of the employee you wish to talk to." Me: "Tony Danza." System: "You selected John
Smith. Please hold while I connect you.")
The relatively few times speech-driven telephony has worked for me have been perfectly efficient,
I must say. But it just doesn't work too often. So given this experience, I read with some
skepticism about how Microsoft and IBM are now competing to tie voice recognition in with their
other applications--Office, in
Microsoft's case, and WebSphere, in
Perhaps it will be a stroke of genius to link voice recognition into established IT apps, or
perhaps it will be one more piece of bloatware IT doesn't really want to have to deal with.
In either case, Microsoft's recent
embarrassment with its speech demo in front of a roomful of financial analysts seems to prove
my point. The system wrote "Dear Aunt" when the presenter said, "Dear Mom."
And one other note of interest: Nuance, which makes Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and Microsoft both
recently promised to work with the
GetHuman project, which has established a database of secret phone numbers and codes that
enable callers to skip directly to a human when they call customer service.
What do you think? Is there a place for speech recognition in today's customer service
organizations, and how do you feel about supporting it from an IT standpoint? To read more about
this, or to comment, please see my blog
Authorities Loosen Airline Laptop Restrictions
For some flights from the U.K., passengers are still allowed to carry only clear plastic bags
with tickets, identification, and wallets. But most flights allow small bags as long as they're
free of cosmetics, toiletries, liquids, and sharp objects.
'Make Goods' From Microsoft, Says Gartner
The research company urges Microsoft to accommodate corporations that bought into its Software
Assurance program with the expectation of being able to upgrade free to the next version of
Office and Windows. For many clients, those versions are expected to ship after their SA plan
Predicts Major Changes In Technology
One of the newest technologies, RAID 6, will definitely help from a business continuity
perspective, an independent consultant said at a recent conference. But it has the side effect of
increasing the number of reads and writes for a drive by 50%, which adds to the wear over
Pat Moorhead, Advanced Micro Devices
Mobile PCs are more integrated than desktops, Moorhead said in an interview with Computer
Reseller News, a fact that plays into the company's ATI acquisition. "When you look at our
ability to more tightly integrate the design, validation, firmware, and software tools, it leads
to a much better stable image platform," Moorhead says.
Increasing customer satisfaction is a key business priority for three out of five companies, as
reported in this recent InformationWeek Research report, "Priorities 3Q 2006." Use this
report to compare your business priorities with those of 300 of your peers, and examine budgeting
plans and technology initiatives on tap for the remainder of 2006.
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4. Grab Bag
Build Your Own Xbox Game (BetaNews)
Microsoft plans to open up its Xbox 360 game development platform to the masses with the launch
of XNA Game Studio Express, due out during the holiday season. Anyone with a Windows XP computer
would be able to use the software, available for an annual $99 fee.
Chipped Passports Coming
Monday (Wired News)
The new U.S. passports will include a chip that contains all the data contained in the paper
versionname, birth date, and gender, for exampleand can be read by electronic
scanners at equipped airports. The State Department says they will speed up going through customs
and help enhance border security.
Video Link To Home Page
The new link is part of a reshuffle in which Google dropped links to its search engines for
books, discussion groups, and shopping, placing them in a dropdown box instead.
Improve Marketing, Sales, And Service Processes
In today's extremely competitive Internet economy, it's more important than ever for companies to
fully embrace new technology to optimize their business processes. Find out how TechExcel's CRM
incorporates the "Active Customer" model for the three core business groupsemployees,
customers, and partners.
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5 Top Federal Initiatives For 2015As InformationWeek Government readers were busy firming up their fiscal year 2015 budgets, we asked them to rate more than 30 IT initiatives in terms of importance and current leadership focus. No surprise, among more than 30 options, security is No. 1. After that, things get less predictable.