FW: BBC Video/Audio: ‘Humans need another planet’

I’m self-forwarding this recent BBC audio clip of Dr. Stephen Hawkins because I found it interesting. Not so much what he says, although I don’t necessarily disagree with him there either, but listen to his synthesized voice closely. He flubs several important words, and I find that odd since we all know he prepares his responses in advance. I’m left wondering why he didn’t correct those errors. Are we simply hearing some academic arrogance, or is there some limit on what his AAC can do? Of course, changing pronunciation is nothing in Xpress-It, but I’m told Hawkins uses older Dynavox equipment. Hmm, all I know is that my Shell managers would’ve rejected whatever he uses.

 

Also strange is the tiny electronic beep we hear before Hawkins speaks. What the hell is that?

 

—–Original Message—–
From: webmasters@bbc.co.uk [mailto:webmasters@bbc.co.uk] On Behalf Of me
Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 1:50 PM
To: royall@conchbbs.com
Subject: BBC Video/Audio: ‘Humans need another planet’

 

me saw this on the BBC News website and thought you should see it.

 

** Message **

blah

 

** ‘Humans need another planet’ **

Stephen Hawking has said the long-term survival of the human race depends on its ability to find another planet to live on.

< http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/check/nolavconsole/ifs_news/hi?redirect=st.stm&news=1&bbram=1&bbwm=1&nbram=1&nbwm=1&nol_storyid=6159437 >

 

 

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Us and Them

Yes, this blog entry is a departure for me. My blog normally deals with things that directly influence my life. It is also affected by this particular topic, perhaps just a little less directly.
 
I spend a significant amount of time viewing or listening to a lot of technology broadcasts (Let’s call them what they are, they are programs originating from single points going to an indeterminate number of destinations—the media shouldn’t ever be the message) as part of my efforts to stay current in my chosen field, Information Technology. “A lot” means a dozen or so shows from a variety of sources, but most of them can be traced back to the Ziff-Davis publishing empire or Leo Laporte’s TWIT group. Both camps are heavily populated by alumni from TechTV.
 
For those unaware, TechTV was a television network that distributed its programming via cable and satellite networks. As the name suggests, TechTV was all about technology before it was gobbled up by Comcast Cable. TechTV started out as a Ziff-Davis venture, and was independent for several years.
 
Leo Laporte announced this week that programming from his group would be also available through something called undo.tv. There’s no question that undo.tv is a strange animal; I’ve yet to hear the name explained. Yet, the parent company, pikspot.com, says that one of its main goals is to create a conduit that enables TechTV “alumni” and audience to reconnect, and resume the interaction that made the network unique. Certainly, pikspot.com clearly has additional plans, but they don’t appear to conflict with this noble goal.
 
Why then are the “TechTV refugees” (I find that a more fitting term) associated with Ziff-Davis now resisting the idea of undo.tv? Do they perceive some sort of risk for them connected to the venture? Or do they regard the venture itself as a threat? I don’t know. I am certainly not an expert, but I do know Patrick Norton of DigitalLife TV frequently laments that experimenting with new video formats is constrained by his bandwidth budget. It seems to me that any credible offer of bandwidth is worth serious consideration. That’s much like offering a broadcaster additional transmitter capacity. The greater capacity you have, the more people you can reach. So what’s the problem?
I’m afraid that the reluctance of the Ziff-Davis supported TechTV refugees to embrace other distribution channels is linked to a comment recently made by Jim Louderback, a lesser TechTV personality who became one of Ziff-Davis’ numerous VPs. He essentially dismissed his TechTV experience as part of the Dot Com boom and bust. Fortunately, Patrick Norton was there to drag Jim back to earth. TechTV didn’t even peak until 2001, well after the bubble popped.
 
I must wonder if the downplaying of the “TechTV experience” is part of wanting to minimize the “competition.” I find that ZD is among the worst in wanting everyone and his dog to visit their many, many websites. They seem to believe that people want to visit their 1,000 different websites to get their content. Rev3.com is also guilty of this to a lesser extent. Didn’t we learn anything from the iTunes store? The Windows version of the iTunes software is god-awful. I tried it three times, and ended up ripping out of my laptop here each time. Yet, people still love the iTunes store experience, partly because it is a one-stop shop. For podcasts, for example, you have to look long and hard to find one not in iTunes. It’s just unfortunate that iTunes offers no facility for the audience to provide feedback. Otherwise, there would be no need for undo.tv.  People want one-stop things. Pay attention, ZD and Rev3.

Long Day

Thank you for your response. Your personal email address is noted. However, it seems to me that I need to clarify one point so that you can relay it to your superiors.
 
There is nothing in Xpress-It that would require a user to make an exclusive choice between Xpress-It and other AAC products such as Dynavox. In fact, that is one of Xpress-It’s main features. In technical terms, it is “input agnostic,” which is a fancy way of saying Xpress-It neither knows nor cares how it is getting user input. The input device may be a keyboard, various forms of virtual keyboards like a switching device, or even—gasp—a Dynavox tablet. Maybe now you begin to understand the true power of Xpress-It, it can easily upgrade something like a Dynavox with its vocabulary tools and speech engine.
 
——————————————————————————–
From: Nel, Lena
Sent: Monday, October 30, 2006 7:18 AM
To: Scott Royall
Subject: RE: Well, it was a long day
 
Scott,
 
Thank you for including me on this.  Your system is well designed and works great for you.  You should keep in mind that there are those that have the intelligence but still could not use your system due to their physical limitations.  Remember, there is something out there for everyone and it is getting better all the time.
 
I do hope DynaVox is interested in speaking with you, as they are always interested in what the consumer, in your case developer, has to say. 
 
Any future blog/mass emails should go to my personal email account lenasue@hotmail.com.
 
Thank you,
 
Lena
 
Marlena Nel
Sales Consultant: East Texas
1-800-344-1778 ext. 7779
Fax: 832-442-5904
 

Xpress-It

Jennifer,
 
Thank you for your inquiry. Perhaps the enclosed three-page brochure will be helpful. It was written a couple of years ago by a pair of Chinese volunteers so the text may be a bit flowery. It is accurate, nonetheless. The price for Xpress-It, which is entirely software, is $850. When you consider how cheaply (relatively speaking) Windows laptops can be purchased now, it quickly becomes apparent how competitive Xpress-It really is.
 
I should also point out that the design of Xpress-It allows it to be used in conjunction with other Windows programs, even other AAC solutions like EZ-Keys or Dynavox.
 
Scott
 
——————————————————————————–
From: Jennifer Weinman 
Sent: Monday, October 30, 2006 9:27 AM
To: royall@conchbbs.com
Subject: Xpress-It information
 
Hello,
 
I picked up a flyer from the CAN Walk this weekend.  I would appreciate it if you could send me some more detailed information and a price list.  I am the supervisor of a school for children with autism.  Several of my students are nonverbal but perform high on academics.  I feel that software such as your could really help expand their ability to communicate.
 
Thank you,
 
Jennifer C. Weinman, M.A.
Senior Case Supervisor
Aim High Academy
7040 Mapleridge
Houston, Texas 77081
713-661-7040
 

Shame on you, Verizon

When did American businesses decide they could redefine the English language? When did “unlimited use” mean anything less?

 

Yes, I’m talking about Verizon. Regular readers of my blog know I’ve been a Verizon customer almost forever, and most know I recently added EV-DO. It has been very helpful. However, I received a letter from Verizon today informing me that my EV-DO account would be terminated next Wednesday. The stated reason is that I’ve used too much bandwidth, over 10GB in a month. Verizon accuses me of violating the contract, and downloading movies or streaming video. Think again, rocket brains! You’re dealing with a laptop that’s always up. With that truth, 10GB is nothing for a full month. EV-DO isn’t good enough to stream video.

 

No, I’m not surprised. Astute observers of the Internet know Verizon has been trying to quietly do this for months. Many other news outlets, like CNet, have already pinned the actual source of the problem down to Verizon failing to understand how popular EV-DO would be, and simply getting overwhelmed by the success. What they’re doing now has already created something of an uproar on the Internet. Verizon recently lost another court battle regarding its wireless operations, and had to offer users rebates. The consensus of the ‘Net now is that Verizon will be back in this same fix regarding EV-DO in a couple of years after it runs out of legal recourse. There is apparently no valid legal justification for the reasons Verizon is giving for terminating selected EV-DO accounts.

 

I will go by my local Verizon store tomorrow to show the letter and this blog entry to the manager. I don’t expect him or her to give me any satisfaction other than maybe reproducing the same shocked expression the Blue Man Group does so well. Then, I will trundle across the road to Sprint or AT&T. Both offer broadband solutions at lower cost without hidden limits. All Verizon is doing is chasing away loyal customers.