HumaneText has stopped working

March 11, 2007

Update: The recent Mac OS X.4.9 update fixed me right up. Go figure.

I've been using the HumaneText OS X Service for years and have never had any trouble with it. However, earlier today I tried to use it to convert something from Markdown to XHTML and nothing happened. The menu is accessed (i.e., it flashes), but the text is not converted and the highlight is removed.

Any ideas? I've tried everything. All of my other services work without issue and any new services I install work just fine. I'm stumped.

Tagless voice-dialing on the BlackBerry Pearl

March 10, 2007

Ever since posting my Jawbone "review," I've received a ton of e-mail asking specific questions about the headset (as I welcomed in the earlier post). A couple of months ago (yes, I'm just getting around to writing about this now; ugh) I received an inquiry from someone regarding whether the Jawbone supported tagless voice-dialing,1 and in one of my very rare moments of gadget ignorance, I noted that that would be a function of the phone and not the headset, and that in any event I couldn't test it because my BlackBerry Pearl didn't support such a feature. In fact, I hadn't heard of any phone that could do tagless voice-dialing. Imagine my surprise then when this guy e-mailed me back and told me that the Pearl is indeed capable of this little wonder.

Now, to be fair to me (and my fragile ego), I gave up on voice-dialing many years ago. It never seemed to work well (on any phone) and so I just kind of quit caring about it. Not to mention that recording tags for my most-called contacts was a ridiculous chore given the frequency with which I changed phones. In reading phone reviews (or writing my own), it was a subject I simply ignored completely, and in casual conversation I'd quickly dismiss it.

With that background experience in mind, you probably understand that I was fully expecting this tagless voice-dialing to suck to the point of unusable and for me to immediately fall back to my previous stance on the technology. But it didn't suck. In fact, it hasn't messed up once in almost two months of me using it. Not once.

Me: "Call Sarah."
Phone: "Calling Sarah."
Me: "Brillyunt!"

Color me impressed. Just one more reason the Pearl remains the best phone going right now (despite it having only EDGE). Other well-informed people agree.

  1. "Tagless" voice-dialing is the ability to specify a contact in your address book without having to record their name beforehand and without having to train the device to your voice — the software/hardware is smart enough to deduce the intended contact from your words alone.   

Apple unveils new product-unveiling product#

Described in its patent filing as a ‘hype-generating mechanism with fully integrated Mac compatibility,’ the iLaunch is powered by Intel dual-core processors optimized to calculate a product’s gravitas. Apple claims the iLaunch can garner the same amount of press attention as a major scientific discovery, high court ruling, celebrity meltdown, or natural disaster at 200 times the speed of a traditional media-fostered launch.

The Onion strikes again.

Darwin's God#

In the world of evolutionary biology, the question is not whether God exists but why we believe in him. Is belief a helpful adaptation or an evolutionary accident?

A must-read.

Brain works more chaotically than previously thought#

The passing on of information from neuron to neuron does not, they show, occur exclusively at the synapses, i.e. the junctions between the nerve cell extensions. Rather, it seems that the neurons release their chemical messengers along the entire length of these extensions and, in this way, excite the neighbouring cells.

FeedBurner's view of the feed market#

In today’s post we’ll take a look at one aspect of the feed aggregator market - the web-based aggregators - and draw some conclusions about how audiences are consuming content in new and different ways.

A very insightful post from one of my favorite Internet companies.

Colossal squid caught off antarctica#

The squid, weighing an estimated 990 lbs and about 39 feet long, took two hours to land in Antarctic waters […] If calamari rings were made from the squid they would be the size of tractor tires.

For the first time, chimps seen making weapons for hunting#

Chimpanzees living in the West African savannah have been observed fashioning deadly spears from sticks and using the tools to hunt small mammals – the first routine production of deadly weapons ever observed in animals other than humans.

How cool is this?

The unavailability of Thai milk tea and other things that grate

February 18, 2007

Am I the only person who would kill for one of the chain coffee houses to start carrying Thai milk tea? I don't know what it is about this creamy concoction, but I'm utterly addicted to it and usually order it whenever it's available. I've found that it's mostly relegated to Thai/Vietnamese restaurants, but I've also come across it at various boba shops in the area, though it's always way overpriced considering its constituent parts and the ease with which it is made. OK, so that begs the question: why don't you make it yourself? Simple, I'm lazy.

Speaking of lazy, I've been trying out McDonald's coffee lately because, well, they have signs up that say, "let us add the cream and sugar." You read that right, I go to McDonald's because they'll mix up my coffee for me, except when they don't. You see, I've now gone three times, once through the drive-thru where something like this would make the most sense, and twice inside, and not once have they added the sugar and cream for me. The story is always the same: I ask for coffee, they ask if I would like cream and sugar, I say yes, they ignore the machine that's right behind them that performs this wonder while standing under the sign that says "let us add the cream and sugar," and then they hand me my coffee parts and I do the manual labor while screaming on the inside.

I've asked, in no uncertain terms, the meaning of the sign, and cannot, for the life of me, get a coherent, sensible explanation of why, after I fork over $1.50, I'm still made to mix everything up myself. I've even asked what that machine does, but the response I got back was one of confusion; I could tell this lady thought she was in trouble (I don't speak whatever language she was whispering in, but she was scared) and so I backed off.

Remove the sign or add the cream and sugar for me!

Google's Page on artificial intelligence#

We have some people at Google (who) are really trying to build artificial intelligence and to do it on a large scale. It’s not as far off as people think.


DVR owners watch more commercials than previously thought#

According to new data released yesterday by the Nielsen Company, people who own digital video recorders, or DVRs, still watch, on average, two-thirds of the ads.

You’ve got to be kidding me. What? I’m this guy: “People who have DVRs often insist that they never watch commercials, as if skipping commercials is a badge of honor.” I don’t think I’ve seen an ad on my TV or computer in five years.

WordPress 2.1

February 17, 2007

A few hours ago I updated this site to WordPress 2.1, seemingly without issue. Most of the plugins I use here were already compatible with the new package, and if they weren't, their newest versions were, and so I basically just upgraded everything across the board. None of the plugins that I've written and currently use gave me any trouble, save Smart Archives, which I updated a couple of weeks ago to silence the unruly masses (just kidding, kinda).

Anyway, if you notice something funky around these parts, please let me know.

Apple to re-enter the sub-notebook market#

I’m so sick of all the rumors – I want this thing now! In all seriousness, I’ve really been hurting for something like this for a while and hope I’m not made to wait too much longer.

The mystery of consciousness#

Consciousness turns out to consist of a maelstrom of events distributed across the brain. These events compete for attention, and as one process outshouts the others, the brain rationalizes the outcome after the fact and concocts the impression that a single self was in charge all along.

Canon's Virtual Lens Plant#

Canon’s Virtual Lens Plant walks you through the entire lens-making process; it almost makes me appreciate the exorbitant prices I’ve paid for some of my glass, but not quite.