Alexa, Google Home and Smart Phones Could Make Illiteracy Unimportant

*I don’t know if this concept is useful or terrifying*

This article does begin by telling it like it is, Google wants Alexa in your home so that you get used to shopping just by talking to it.  There is a paragraph of the article that discusses how every conversation we have with our digital devices allows that device to learn a little more about human speech patterns.

There is some thought to the belief that this is taking us back to where speech controls our creativity rather than writing.  Essentially writing is an artificial construct, whereas speech is more natural.  This will allow individuals that are functionally illiterate to be able to better interact with the literate world.

Also, it allows some affectations to influence other aspects of society.  For example, many new bands have come to the realization that it is best if they have a name that people can pronounce.

*This should prove to be interesting, will this be an evolution or a devolution of society?*


Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality is where you still see the real world but other aspects of the virtual world are superimposed on the real world.  This is different from the virtual world where the real world is replaced by what ever digital information you are seeing.

Ikea Place is one of the first augmented reality apps, While there are issues this app does allow you to place furniture in your living room and obtain an idea of the size and angles involved.

There is an app that allows you to drop a Porsche into your driveway, living room, etc.

There is an app that allows you to see a shark floating around in the middle of…whatever.

There is an app that allows the Very Hungry Caterpillar to come to life and live in your world, for a time.

There is a virtual tape measure, that apparently comes pretty close.

Modify your hair color virtually to see what it would look like.

Night Sky 5 allows you to see constellations, have the stars labelled, and the animal/etc. that the constellation is supposed to represent.

These are just some quick examples of what was made in the first 12 weeks of apple’s new release.  *Honestly some of them are very useful, I like the thought of not having to guess if something will look good in a space, or if there will be enough room.  Some are stupid, Yes a Porsche will look good there, but you cannot afford it after buying this device so dream on.  The Hungry Caterpillar looks like it might be useful and the future of gaming, but I am still very concerned about people getting confused about what is real and what is not.  Some people have serious trouble with that concept.*

Amazon Echo and Echo Plus

This article details the improvements and differences between the new Echo and Echo Plus.  Much of this article is spend detailing how the new difference make the speaker appear and function much like the older version.

The next section of this article begins to detail how these devices can be used as a whole home solution.

*To my way of thinking the Amazon Echo is essentially a smart home device.  Like Evernote if it is a part of every aspect of your life then it is a useful tool, if it is not immersed in every aspect of your life then it is a minor convenience.*

In the Age of Screen Time is Paper Dead?

Not really, research seems to show that writing notes in the long-hand format enables better retention of the material.  Instead of trying to write out the entire lecture the student is forced to think about what the important parts are, therefore listening better.

In a digital age everything is very expensive, both to purchase and then to maintain.  Paper doesn’t need upgraded (very often, unless you’re doing a resume or something).

There are also concentration, retention, and other issues touched on but not fully explored in this article.  Between attention span issues, how social media and other immediate forms of entertainment are  ruling our lives is it any wonder people have a hard time finishing books?

*Even when I was in high-school (17 years ago). while computers were just becoming the dynamos they are now. people had a hard time finishing books.  Many of whom have become very successful individuals.  With the advent of computers and how pervasive they are in our everyday lives it becomes harder and harder to retain an attention span.  I find myself getting ‘bored’ with things much more quickly than I used to.  This is not due to actual boredom, there is too much to do, but rather with over-stimulation.  There Really is Too Much To Do, or Learn, or Read.  Faced with more choices than I feel I can make sometimes I get paralyzed with indecision.  I think this happens with technology, taking notes, reading, learning, any of it.

When typing up notes on your computer, you think about that cute dress you were looking at earlier, or you’re wondering if you’re going  out with friends that night.  Previous generations would put a note in the margins of their notes and remember to look later, or ask if your friend is up to going out. Now you flip over to facebook or IM and while you’re checking on your plans you’ve just missed ten minutes of notes that will be on your final exam.  Or you’re so busy trying to type the notes word for word you miss the important point that the next couple of lectures are going to hinge around.  Computers are great, but how they actually effect our learning processes still needs to be discovered.*

Meet the Font Detective who Ferret Out Fakery

This was certainly an interesting article.  Any thoughts that I had (which had never occurred to me) about forging any kind of document have gone out the window.  The hours that it would take for me to find the ‘right’ font would probably negate any potential benefit.

All jesting aside, it is fascinating that individuals are willing to dedicate themselves to learning about fonts and how to identify their many differences.  This does give me some peace of mind that individuals typing up false documents and pre dating them will be caught.  Often individuals make up nonsense and expect people to take them at face value.  It is reassuring that some are trying to prevent that from happening.

How Audiobooks Made Me Appreciate Non-Fiction by Yaika Sabat

This is a good article to introduce you to a new format, or rather an old format that you might not have considered before.  This author has trouble reading non-fiction books.  Not that she lacks the desire, interest, or intellectual capacity, they just tend to be a bit dry and hard to get through.  I find myself with the same problem.  Like this author, I tend to look more toward the fiction books, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, etc.

This author emphasized that the reader (voice actor/actress) can make a difference in your reading experience, just because you dislike one voice actor doesn’t mean that the entire genre is bad.  I know that the voice actress that helped create the early Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich was not to my taste. Eventually then switched voice actors and now I really love listening to the new installment in this series.

If you are having trouble getting through non-fiction, detective novels, epic fantasy, science fiction, or another genre then try listening to Audio books.  (maybe not romance unless you can take hearing graphic sex explored…found that out the hard way, fortunately there was  ‘skip ahead 30 seconds’ button….hit that 4-10 times and you’re usually past the graphic bits. )

In recent months I have found that Audible has access to the Great Courses.  I love the idea of listening for 20+ hours at the same price of a 7+ hour book.  (I’m a bargain hunter at the root of it which is why I like libraries *free* best of all).  Now that the author of this article informed me that The Devil in the White City is about H.H Holmes and the Chicago World Fair I have that waiting for me….just as soon as I figure out where Overdrive downloaded it to on my iPad.

Happy Reading!

6th Century Writing Discovered Inside Medieval Bookbinding by Shaunacy Ferro

It is a well documented fact that in the past parchment from other texts had been recycled to be used in binding a new book.  Though it was known that the text was present it was not often able to be viewed without destroying the current book.  However one text had degraded to the point that the original writing was visible.  At this point the text was sent to be x-Rayed in an attempt to create a legible view of the text.

Since sending texts out to be analyzed all the time can be cost prohibitive, these researchers attempted two different methods of analysis.  Neither of these attempts were very successful on their own, however when they were integrated using a computer algorithm the researchers were able to create a very clear view of the hidden text, presumably at a lower cost then sending texts out all the time.

Very interesting, it just proves that we are learning all the time.