What is everybody doing?

Man things have been really quiet in the Microsoft Speech world lately. The posting count on GotSpeech and the Microsoft public forums has been way down. Has everyone figured things out so they have no need to ask questions?

Are you  waiting for OCS? Vista?

Maybe you are like me and are being forced by your employer to work on another IVR system at the moment. Everytime I work on that older system I really appreciate Speech Server more.

Add your comments to this and tell us where you have been.

Speech Enabled Radio

I know, some of you are muttering under your breath that radio is already speech enabled – you turn it on and you can hear not just speech but also music. That’s a great concept but it’s not what I’m talking about.

As I told you in an earlier blog entry I recently earned my Amateur Radio license and I’m picking up where I left off probably 30 years ago with HAM and Shore Wave Listening(SWL). I find it infinitely fascinating to seek out and listen to radio broadcasts originating from some far away corner of the globe. There is something exciting to me about listening to broadcasts from stations like Radio China and Radio Havana (closer to home) or listening to what is being said in New Zealand.

Technology has really changed over the years. I cut my teeth so to speak on a Radio Shack DX-160. I recently bought one of those off of E-Bay but I’ve been decidedly disappointed in it so I’ve been looking around for a newer generation radio.

My search has led me to the WinRadio WR-G305e which is a software defined radio (SRD) meaning the the demodulation and the last IF (intermediate frequency) stages are all software defined. In simplest terms means that the guts of the radio is really just a software program that runs on a PC. It also means that the radio can be upgraded as new technologies come along and that it can be easily enhanced as the API is exposed for developers. The interface shown below is awesome in it’s beauty and the amount of control it gives you over the radio.

So. where’s the speech related part of this? Well, Terry Gold has been working on a project to speech enable his Toyota FJ using Vista and a bunch of other gadgets. I’ve been following the project and exchanging emails with Terry concerning his progress. Terry, if you are reading this you really need to get that FJ off-road. Speech enabling something seems like a great way to experiment with speech..

Casey Chesnut has a post on using MSN Messenger Mobile to automate his Media Center PC so that he can instruct it to record things even when he is away from home.

So with this type of inspiration I’ve decided that I am going to speech enable the G305e so that I can control it remotely using either speech via the phone or from Instant Messenger. It sounds like it will be a challenging project but it should be fun to work on something that combines my interests and hobbies as opposed to just writing stuff that my boss at work wants.

The G305e has an extensible API so in addition to using speech to tune it I’m going to look into streaming it’s output to the Internet so that others can listen it. I’m also going to look at writing an interface that will take Morse Code and convert it to text. I don’t know Morse Code so as they say necessity is the mother of invention.

I’ll keep you informed as to my progress but for now the first step is to order the radio tomorrow. Once that is up and running I’ll start experimenting with extending the interface. This project should keep me busy for a while but I’m really looking forward to it.

September 11, 2001 Remembered

I don’t want to go into a lot of detail here but I have been thinking about that morning 5 years ago.

I remember hearing that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and thinking that some kind of private Cessna or something had been involved. I tried to get to Fox News but the web site was really slow that morning. I also remember the really powerful feeling of helplessness and shock that grew as the morning’s event unfolded.

I remember leaving work early (I wasn’t concerned with the repercussions) so that I could be home when my two older kids  arrived home from school. I didn’t know what they had heard or had been told and I didn’t know what they were thinking. I just knew I wanted (no, needed) to be there for them. On the way home from work I stopped and bought a U.S. flag to fly from the front of the house. That was something else that I just needed to do.

I don’t know how you feel about that day or the events that have transpired here and around the world since then but I do know it is a much different world now. I know I’ll never forget.

If you are so inclined please take time for a moment of silence sometime today.

What Did These People Do?

As always I would love to hear your comments.

Unified Communications Group Team Blog

The Unified Communications Group over at Microsoft has a team blog. It has some interesting reading and the right navbar has some good links also.

As Speech Server continues down the path of integrating with Office Communications Server you should see more and more emphasis placed on unifying communications throughout the office. 

I think you (and I) should be examining everything we can about unified communications even now. Personally, I like staying ahead of the learning curve rather than playing catchup. I know that getting on board early can cause some headaches as things are still changing but I like “bleeding edge” stuff. I guess that is what keeps things interesting for me even though I’ve now written my award winning app 3 times in three different versions of Speech Server.

Speech Server book….maybe

Man this has been some roller coaster ride.

I was contacted last week by a publisher that I will name later when things are finalized. They wanted to know if Sara and I were interested in teaming up with another author (I’ll reveal the name later) to do a book on the Speech Server 2007 (SPS) and Office Communications Server.

Of course we were interested! We still have to get the book proposal (outline, timeline etc.) worked out and get a contract but things are looking better.

If this goes through then this will be an awesome book as there are some big names involved (no I’m not referring to me). I believe the talent and the enthusiasm is there to make this project successful.

I’ll keep you informed.