iOS to Get More Voice Control

MacRumors (via TechCrunch) is reporting that the next major version of Apple's iOS will include more deeply integrated voice controls. I've been hoping for something like this for a while. Voice control is the inevitable direction for interacting with machines, especially mobile devices lacking a full-sized keyboard. Google's mobile OS, Android, is currently ahead on this. It allows you to enter text with your voice in any application. iOS has some basic voice controls for making phone calls and playing music, but I've long hoped that they would extend this to more applications, including 3rd party apps. There are some very useful (and free) iOS apps that you can control with your voice, including Dragon Dictation, Dragon Search, Vlingo and Siri. Apple acquired Siri about a year ago.

If you haven't seen Siri in action yet, check out this video:

It's impressive, but I'm excited to see what Apple could do with this after 1.5 years of development integrating it into iOS. Currently I can hold my phone's home button and then say, "Call Sara" or "Play songs by Phoenix," but I'd love to be able to say, "Listen to NPR newscast," "Start 10 minute timer," "Search Amazon for books about programming" or even "Hulu Plus: Play last night's Daily Show." If Apple provides a voice API to 3rd party developers we'll see stuff like that and much more.

The new features of iOS are expected to be revealed at Apple's developer conference, WWDC, this June. They'll also be discussing their new version of the desktop operating system, OS X Lion (10.7). Developers with early releases of that have already discovered that it contains some new text-to-speech voices. Perhaps that's a clue that Lion will be getting some voice control features, too. I've been using voice control and dictation software on my Mac for years (currently Dragon Dictate), but it suffers from the same lack of OS integration as Siri. It only makes sense for Apple to include these features in both iOS and OS X.

What do you think? Do you like talking to machines? Or are you frustrated by inaccuracies? When a machine responds to a voice command, do you say "Thank you"?

Update (July 25, 2011):
More info has come out about this new feature. It's rumored to be called "Assistant."

Update 2 (October 4, 2011):
Apple has officially announced the new feature and they're calling it Siri.

posted by dan | 03/29/11| 11:05:00 am| Apple|

Video of the Day: Super Toy Run

This brought back fond Nick memories. I always went crazy when a kid didn't go straight for the video games. This guy was smart.

Found via Retroist

posted by brendoman | 03/28/11| 08:59:00 pm| Anything Else, Video of the Day| Leave a comment »

Gone to New Orleans

I'm headed to New Orleans for a software conference today. It'll be my first time visiting! I'll be enjoying a riverboat cruise up the Mississippi, plenty of fish and spicy foods (not to mention beignets), and traipsing about between conference rooms at the convention center to learn about things that would probably bore you to tears: like controlling online faculty and advisor access through fine grained access rules for our self-service system, best practices for dealing in the system with students who have concurrent curricula, and setting up workflows to streamline the grade change process.

Wow, that was a long sentence. One can tell I've been listening to a Dickens book lately. I've been going through Dombey and Son. It's definitely a long one and not one of my favorites, although the other day I had a moment where one scene made up for 800 pages of relatively boring set up.

Anyway, I'll be out of town for five days; you'll be able to see photos on FB once I'm back, hopefully! And if you're not on FB, I'm sorry, I'm not gonna make the effort to post them here.

posted by wendytime | 03/19/11| 11:55:00 am| work| 1 comment »

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944): A Five-Minute Review

I can't believe I've never seen Meet Me in St. Louis until now. Even though Judy Garland's a little tough on the eyes in this one (or should I say eyebrows), it's such a fun movie. The adventures of a family in with four daughters and a son in 1904 St. Louis is full of fun moments and a lot of old-fashioned music. Margaret O'Brien steals the show with her eccentric performance as the youngest daughter. I loved the color, the sense of humor, the time period, the genuine family moments, and of course, the music. Ever since I saw the movie, every once in a while, I find the title song stuck in my head. It's definitely a new favorite.

posted by wendytime | 03/18/11| 01:36:00 pm| movies, netflix/tivo| Leave a comment »

st. patty's(paddy's) day

i have no idea what is going on right now.

all i know is that it's 3/17(18) and i'm ready to pee clean.

actually.. i just went to a show and i rapped "gin and juice" by snoop dogg and i believe that it was legit. haha! game over. i will check this. brendon: life energy -1. done.

posted by eric | 2011-03-18| 00:20:00| Anything Else| 3 comments »

True Grit (2010): A Five-Minute Review

Well, seeing as I saw this when it came out, I'm approximately three months behind with movie reviews.

True Grit is full of Coen goodness. It's got quirk, character, looks, sound, depth, and a good story. The actors are awesome, the cinematography is beautiful (and ought to have won the Oscar), and I almost wish we could have given Jeff Bridges an award this year over last, but I guess he's just on a roll. Matt Damon shows yet again that he is one of the most underrated actors out there. I think he could have been substituted for one of the other men in the Best Supporting Actor category this year for his role as La Boeuf.

I also liked that this time around, there was nothing to question at the end of this movie. After A Simple Man and No Country for Old Men and their abrupt endings and moments of confusion, this was a pleasant, straight-forward movie experience that was perfectly crafted. It's definitely one of my favorites of the year.

posted by wendytime | 03/17/11| 01:38:00 pm| [no category assigned], movies, 2010| 1 comment »


Oh my gosh, do I still have a BLOG?!

posted by wendytime | 03/16/11| 11:37:00 am| update| 4 comments »

Shameless Plug: Great Photo Retouching

My friend Grace is an awesome graphic designer and a Photoshop wiz. She is now making her services available for affordable photo re-touching and restoration. You can check it out here. Grace made the awesome logo that you have seen on this blog for the last 9 years and that is just a hint of her expertise.

posted by brendoman | 03/11/11| 12:16:00 pm| Linkworthy, Anything Else| Leave a comment »

Best News Ever: Retro Nickelodeon Shows to Return

First The Hub and now this!

If you’re a twentysomething who’s been jonesing for repeats of All That and Clarissa Explains it All, then this news is for you: EW has learned exclusively that starting this fall, TeenNick will dust off old faves like Rugrats, Kenan & Kel, Pete & Pete, The Amanda Bynes Show, All That and Clarissa and air them in a new midnight-to-2 a.m. programming block dubbed (appropriately enough) The ’90s Are All That. The tween cabler came up with the idea after seeing the huge interest in early Nickelodeon programming on social media sites. There are several Facebook pages — followed by millions of fans — that are devoted to Nickelodeon shows from the ’90s.

The also go on to say if it does well they will expand it to other shows and movies. How about if it does really well you guys resume the Nickelodeon Rewind Collection? I will definitely have my DVR set when it starts.

posted by brendoman | 03/10/11| 08:33:00 am| TeeVee, I'm a Big Geek, Anything Else| 4 comments »

Plugging Podcasts & Podcasting Tips

I received this email today:

Hey Dude,

The names james i have had a few choice words with you on twitter @Jimbotheledge :)

I need your help ... hehe

Me and My good buddy have just uploaded our first podcast onto the site

I was hoping for two things actually a cheap plug and twitter or better yet on one of your many podcasts :)

and if you have any advice on how we should get our podcast out there and how we can improve :)

Sorry for all the questions...

Cheers dude ... Peace...

I wanted to share my response here, first to see if you guys thought I was being a jerk and second because I thought it would make a good blog post. Here it is:

I will definitely listen to your podcast when I get the chance but I can't plug it and I hope you understand. It's nothing against you, I'm sure your podcast is great, but I get many requests to plug people's podcasts and if I plugged yours I would have to plug everyone else's and then all I would be doing was plugging podcasts. I hope you understand. As far as tips go, I would get a good logo and put yourself in as specific of a category as possible so you can rise to the top of the charts in that specific category. You should be on all the social media sites - twitter, facebook, tumblr. Don't be a total whore but it's ok to be a little slutty (lol). Tweet about your show once a day or so, try and get some friends to RT it. Make sure you get listed in every podcast directory possible. Make sure you're in the iTunes music store. If you haven't already, submit your feed ASAP and make sure it's configured properly. Podbean makes this VERY easy. Again, make sure your category is as specific as possible. It's much easier to get into the top 100 that way. The biggest thing I can tell you though is to not worry about the numbers. If you're doing this for the numbers, you're doing it for the wrong reason. The reason why I do podcasts is because they are fun to do. If I was a wealthy billionaire living in my BrendoMansion, I would still be doing Pop Sickles and a variety of other podcasts. Quality is king, so work on making your podcast the best possible podcast you can make it. Research stories, write down notes (I use Evernote religiously. Highly recommended), try out new things, come up with original ideas. You can do it!

Yes, I realize that by publishing these emails I have now plugged his podcast. That being said, I am sorry if you have sent me a link to your podcast and I did not plug it. I get sent a lot of links. Maybe it's because James was the first person to ask for some advice along with the plug. Yeah, that's it.

posted by brendoman | 03/08/11| 09:30:00 am| I'm a Big Geek, Podcasting, Anything Else| Leave a comment »

The Blog Has Moved

Dear faithful readers,

This blog has been disconnected, or is no longer in service. Please check the url and try again.

Or just go to to see the brand spanking new blog (with all of three entries on it!). This address will no longer be updated (not a big change, I know).


posted by peter | 03/07/11| 03:12:00 pm| Hough Happenings| Leave a comment »

Image of the Day: Freaks & Geeks and Undeclared PaleyFest Poster

I was very happy to hear that Gallery 1988 would be making a poster for the Freaks & Geeks and Undeclared reunion at PaleyFest this Saturday. I can't even tell you how excited I am for this event and this makes it even more cool. I will definitely be picking up one of these.

via /film

posted by brendoman | 03/07/11| 10:51:00 am| TeeVee, I'm a Big Geek, Anything Else| Leave a comment »

Disneyland Quiz

The Disneyland Quiz

Score: 83% (10 out of 12)

That was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be.

posted by brendoman | 02/28/11| 03:50:00 pm| Quizzes, Anything Else, Disneyland| 1 comment »

Better back up that Gmail

So some Gmail users lost all their mail over the weekend. I'm thanking my lucky stars it wasn't me, as was Lee Matthews at DownloadSquad:

When the news first broke of Gmail losing a small chuck of its users' inboxes, I had a rather terrifying realization: For nearly 8 years, I've been using Gmail as my only message store -- putting all my eggs in one basket, so to speak. If you use Gmail, you're probably now thinking the same thing as me: I really should have a backup.

The article gives helpful instructions to create a backup using hotmail, which is what I'm going to do since I already have a hotmail account. It also gives instructions on how to create a backup using a desktop email program and gives links to programs that will do the job for you. I highly recommend choosing one of these options and doing it. The few minutes you spend will definitely be worth it in the event that all is lost.

posted by brendoman | 02/28/11| 11:08:00 am| I'm a Big Geek, Linkworthy, Anything Else| Leave a comment »

Quiet Time!

posted by jksterup | 02/26/11| 01:05:00 pm| Home and personal, Music| 1 comment »

Hey, man, slow down

I was listening to the latest episode of the All Songs Considered podcast, in which the critics discuss the best and most influential music of the 90s. It's a great show, and reminds me of how much that decade shaped my taste in music.

The discussion inevitably turned to Radiohead's OK Computer, and as they played “No Surpises” I was taken back to the time that the album came out. It's become such a classic (heck, it was classic 10 years ago), it's easy to take it for granted.

But I remember vividly the day I heard OK Computer for the first time. I was working at the city pool, lifeguarding during the day, hanging out with friends until late at night, and sleeping through the mornings.

One morning I was taking my time getting ready for work, fixing my breakfast/lunch with MTV playing in the background. By the late 1990s people were already making fun of MTV for not playing videos anymore, but there were still some time set aside for new music, and some of it was even good.

On this particular morning, as I was getting ready to leave for work, I went to turn off the TV when I saw a strange animated video set to an exciting guitar riff with what sounded like the voice of Thom Yorke. I was stunned. At a time when the Internet was still in its infancy and most of my musical knowledge came from the radio, I had no idea Radiohead had a new album out, or even that they were still together. After all, it had been over two years since The Bends, which now seems like a ridiculously inconsequential amount of time. But you must keep a couple of things in mind. First of all, those two years fell, for me, between the ages of 15 and 17, a period of tumultuous growth and expanding awareness of the world and popular culture. Second, during those years most of the bands I listened to hadn’t released more than one or two albums, and, though it was obvious that The Bends was something original, there wasn't any indication that Radiohead would still be making revolutionary music 14 years later.

Anyway, I sat in rapt wonder as Paranoid Android, which had seemingly come out of nowhere, revealed itself to be a bizarre rock epic that traced its way through multiple tempo and melody changes, with roaring guitars one moment and quiet, eerie choruses the next. I was going to be late for work, but I couldn’t stop watching until the song was over.

When it eventually wound down to its finale, I raced to work with those otherworldly guitar riffs circling around in my head. As soon as I got off work seven hours later, I went straight to the music store to pick up the CD. The rest of that evening I spent listening to the album again and again and again. I gave it my full attention. I pulled out the CD booklet and read the lyrics along with the music. I studied the artwork and read every printed word, looking for anything that would help reveal the themes of the music.

I probably listened to OK Computer at least a hundred times after that. I took it with me to swim meets, debate tournaments, car trips, everywhere. Sometimes I would turn my headphones up as loud as I could and just focus on the music, listening for a note or a bassline that I hadn’t noticed before. There is probably no album I have listened to as thoroughly as I have listened to OK Computer, and there probably never will be.

This kind of surprise discover and subsequent immersion will never happen again because the way I listen to music has changed. I no longer find out about new releases from the radio or MTV: I read about them months in advance, often in periodic updates from the bands' blogs or message boards. On the morning an album comes out I get on Amazon, download it while eating breakfast, and listen to it on my iPod on the way to work. Rarely do I have time to just sit down with an album anymore: I’m far too busy (sometimes with legitimate work, but also with frittering away on the Internet).

Even when a band does do something unexpected, like Radiohead releasing their eighth album for download last week, It’s big news for a few days, until the next thing comes along. Thanks to the Internet I buy and listen to more music than ever before, and I buy more new releases than I ever did previously. But with this increased speed and availability of information, a great work like OK Computer, instead of being the album of the year, now becomes merely the album of the week.

Don’t get me wrong: I love what the Internet has done to music. I love that I can read about an obscure artist on a message board, visit their website to hear some tracks, and download their album, all in the course of about ten minutes. I feel more connected to important developments in popular music, and I have been able to enjoy artists I never would have heard about previously. But I wonder if the rate at which I consume music is preventing me from really immersing myself in music the way I did with OK Computer.

posted by jksterup | 02/25/11| 06:25:00 pm| Home and personal, Music| 2 comments »

Daniel Pictionary Solution

Congratulations to Matt for guessing the subject of Daniel's artwork.

posted by jksterup | 02/22/11| 06:49:00 pm| Home and personal|

Daniel Pictionary

Here's a little challenge for you.

Daniel recently worked very hard to make an adorable drawing that I'm beaming with pride over.

Your job is to guess what it is a drawing of. Don't just guess "a boy" or "a dog": The subject of Daniel's drawing is very, very specific and familiar. Put your guesses in the comments (and please guess--this is going to be embarrassing if I don't get any comments). I'll post the correct answer sometime in the next couple of days.

posted by jksterup | 02/21/11| 01:39:00 pm| Home and personal| 8 comments »

200 Really is a Whole Lot

Phil and I published our 200th strip for Brax the Alien Rocker yesterday, in case you missed it. It is a really great feeling to look at something and think, "Hey, I put this into the world, and I don't think it sucks." I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Phil for this and all the other random ideas we've had over the years. I'm glad this is one of the ones that actually stuck. He does a lot of the heavy lifting for the comic and I can't give him enough credit. He deserves most of it. Here's to the next 200, and the next 200 after that. Thanks to all of you guys who read it!

posted by brendoman | 02/19/11| 12:35:00 pm| Site News, Anything Else, Comics| 4 comments »

Photo of the Day: Ken Jennings is Awesome

I am glad he has a sense of humor in the face of our impending doom.

posted by brendoman | 02/17/11| 08:59:00 am| Our robot overlords, Anything Else| 2 comments »

This Things I Believe

I have officially run out of things to title blog posts with and am now just digging up obscure Simpsons lines. Hey, it's been almost nine years of witty (and not so witty) blog titles. The well has to dry up at some point. I thought I'd take the time today to share two things I am really enjoying. First, Evernote. It is awesome. Like Dropbox, I can have it running on all my various computers and my phone. Derick and I have a shared notebook for Pop Sickles and that is where I drop all the news stories I find to discuss on the show. On Saturday morning I just move all the contents into an archive notebook and start fresh. It also records audio notes when I am in driving and I can take pictures of things and make them into notes.

I can then email notes to my other awesome thing for this week, my Kindle. In addition to being a fancy digital notebook, I can also read books on it. Pretty crazy. I don't know why, but I have been reading way, way more since I got a Kindle. I am addicted to book samples. I am also reading A Game of Thrones right now, in preparation for the upcoming HBO series. I am really digging it. I also loaded in the PDF versions of the Microsoft books I am reading to study for my first MCP exam. So now when I have a spare moment I can study or read an enjoyable book, whichever I am feeling up to. It also plays Blackjack and Solitaire and some other cool games.

It's not a post these days without a shameless plug so here that is. Coming up on Bagged and Boarded we have True Blood's Deborah Woll and Michael McMillian along with comic artist Marc Andreyko on the show this week. I am very excited for that. Feel free to comment with any questions you may have for them and I will ask them on the show. On Friday Derick and I will be joined by writer Brian Lynch for Pop Sickles. For those not in the know, Brian is pretty much the funniest person on the planet. So that's what's going on with me this week. Hope all is well for all of you!

posted by brendoman | 02/16/11| 10:24:00 am| Random, I'm a Big Geek, Anything Else| Leave a comment »

Eva just wants you to know...

posted by jksterup | 02/15/11| 06:09:00 pm| Home and personal| 9 comments »

Nothing is lost, nothing is forgotten

When I was young I subscribed to Boys’ Life magazine. Even though my membership in the Boy Scouts was very brief I continued reading the club’s official magazine for several years because it contained lots of stories, articles, comics, etc. that appealed to me as a 10-12-year-old boy.

In addition to their more professional content, the magazine also featured a joke section in the back. Readers would send in original jokes, and those who were fortunate to have their jokes selected would be compensated to the tune of two dollars. Most of the jokes were terrible--so terrible, in fact, that I figured I could come up with better. So I did.

At the time I was particularly fond of the particular sub-genre of joke that involves an invented book title with a punning author name--stuff like “Under the Bleachers by Seymour Butts.” I think I came up with two or three clean, original ideas and sent them in. The only one I distinctly remember went something like, “Babysitting Made Easy by Justin Casey Wales,” which I thought was extremely clever.

I waited with great anticipation to hear that all of my original jokes had been accepted, but after several months went by with no response I eventually gave up hope. But one day, unexpectedly, I received an envelope from Boys’ Life with two dollars enclosed. There was probably some kind of letter enclosed, but I don’t remember. All I remember are those two dollar bills, creased and worn. Although not as glamorous or professional as I had imagined, that cash in an envelope was exciting for what it represented: I was getting my name in a magazine, and I was getting paid for it.

I’ve been teaching my students about resumes and applying for jobs, and I stressed to them that they need to be careful of how they use their names online. I said that on the Internet nothing is lost and nothing is forgotten. I mentioned that I try to avoid using my last name on my own blog so that potential employers don’t find it when they do a Google search. It’s been a while since I actually Googled myself and I thought I’d see if the results have changed at all.

In addition to the pages of swimming results and random things I’ve carelessly attached my last name to, I was surprised to find a link to Google Books’ display of the January 1992 issue of Boys’ Life magazine. So go take a look at which joke of mine was chosen (which I had completely forgotten over the years) and marvel at the first, and as yet only, time I got paid for my writing.

posted by jksterup | 02/14/11| 09:06:00 am| Home and personal| 5 comments »

The Bishop's Wife (1947)

In 2009 I watched a bunch of Christmas movies that I had never seen, just to see if they truly were classics that I would enjoy watching each year. Only some of them stuck with me this year, so I still had plenty of time to try out a few new-to-me features, one of which was The Bishop's Wife.

In this movie, a bishop is trying to raise money for a new cathedral for his parish. He spends so much of his time catering to his potential donors and focusing on fundraising that his wife is completely neglected, and when they are together, his attitude toward her has changed greatly compared to their early years of marriage. When the bishop reaches a point of desperation for his fundraising, he prays to God for help. God responds by sending an angel to him in the form of Cary Grant, whose name is Dudley.

Dudley has to convince the bishop that he is truly an angel, but once he does, the bishop is happy to have someone who will help him with his business. When Dudley starts paying a lot of attention to the bishop's wife and giving her the attention she needs from her own husband, the bishop is far from happy. What he doesn't realize is that God's plan is to give him the help he doesn't even know he needs. Dudley is there to help the bishop realize he has wandered off the path intended for him, both with his wife and with his priorities with his parish.

Cary Grant and Loretta Young are wonderfully cast in this movie. Grant has such charisma as Dudley, and he brings so much into the lives of the people he meets. I especially love his little moments with the bishop's daughter, such as when he tells her a Bible story before she goes to bed. Also, Loretta Young is perfect with him. David Niven does a great job as the bishop himself, being both sympathetic and flawed.

Overall, this turned out to be a really pleasant little movie that I will definitely watch again. I can't say it's full of Christmas themes, although it is prominently set during the Christmas season, but it certainly does bring the idea of faith and God's plan for one's life to the forefront, which is certainly something people tend to focus on during the Christmas season. I thought it was great.

posted by wendytime | 02/10/11| 12:59:00 pm| movies, netflix/tivo| Leave a comment »

Derick Armijo Is My Hero

For those who don't know, Derick is my co-host on Pop Sickles. He also started a new movie blog yesterday and proceeded to write the greatest thing I have read on a blog in a long time:

To paraphrase a quote from NO STRINGS ATTACHED of all places "Some people live like there are no such thing as miracles, and some people live like everything is a miracle". SCOTT PILGRIM is a miracle. Movies like this aren't made, and in this movie making climate probably won't ever be made again. In terms of that quote, this is a movie about the former learning that the latter is true. If there's one thing I resent about my generation is that it exists only to point out how everything is terrible and how smart they are for pointing it out. But I never subscribed to any of that malarky. Life is beautiful and filled with amazing people and surprises. It's worth fighting for. It's worth improving yourself for. We fight these battles every day and there's nothing routine about it. It's epic. It's worth exposing your inner uselessness for. Perhaps it isn't as bad as you thought. Is it ever? SCOTT PILGRIM is sure begging for some of your love, but you know what? It loves you right back, you stupid asshole. You're going to ignore that? Please die, then.

Yeah man. Yeah. Check out Picture Start With Derick Armijo for more good stuff like this.

posted by brendoman | 02/10/11| 10:50:00 am| Movies, Linkworthy, Anything Else| 1 comment »

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