Friday, March 12, 2010

Quizzes! Games! Real Science!

It seems that the BBC (who I still find more trustworthy and comprehensive than the average US news service just because they're foreign) has a website (called Lab UK) dedicated to conducting studies on the internet through quizzes and such. Their big tagline varies along the lines of "Real Science!!" which I find quite amusing. You do what you have to in order to get your readers interested, I guess, but the biologist in me flinches when they say "Real Science!!" They have an information tab for [Real] scientists, which is more illuminating than the FAQ and info pages. Anyway, at the very least it's a more productive way to waste time playing online than the usual quizzes and games, and you still get a cute result at the end. Requires a BBC id/pword, quick registration, ostensibly to protect your answers and results. It's really fairly shrewd of whoever conceptualized Lab UK...

I did the "Web Behaviour Test:"

I am a Web Elk! (gr)


Slow-moving - Web Elks like you take their time finding exactly the right morsels of information – just like the real-world elk who carefully browses for shoots and leaves to eat.

Sociable - Real-world elks are social and stay in herds to protect themselves from predators. When you browse the web you are also a social creature, often using social networks, or other sites whose content is created by its users, as sources of information.

Specialised - Web Elks perform best when they focus on one thing at a time, rather than trying to multitask. Just as the real-world Elk is perfectly specialised for its environment, you have learned that while the web makes it possible to multitask, it’s not always the best approach.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Googlevoice, or, Lost in Transcription

So, in the interest of exploring the entire range of somewhat silly google products that may or may not improve my life, I signed up for googlevoice, and thereby googlevoicemail. I feel like I haven't explored all of the services involved (at least I think I haven't), but voice is definitely useful for when I'm at work without mys cellphone and need to make a long distance call. I just plug in the number I want to call online, and it rings my desk phone (which I had to set up, a simple procedure).

The voicemail service, however, is basically a good thought that doesn't entirely float my boat. I would love to have transcriptions of my voicemails, but the transcription algorithm or whatever just doesn't work that great. At least not for message-leavers without perfect diction (or with a sense of humor). Here is the transcript of a voicemail from Dan, telling me that he was coming home, that it's very nice out, trying to figure out where I was, and subsequently saying heck with it, he was coming home anyway. More or less:

Hey Pat, F, F, F, F. A. So, okay now. I've heard your message and I approved just trying to figure out where you are. It's a beautiful day. If you were over at the house thinking I was going to drop by if you could be a beautiful day, but I would go home. Viruses, Jeff, I was just like to away if you could do the big day, but it's I was. Barry.

The "FFFFA" was actually him laughing. Thank heavens I can still playback an audio file, too.