Automated Phone Systems

I have a question. Why does voice recognition still suck? If they can’t make it work, then they shouldn’t make it all. Everybody has their own unique voice and recognizing words among the many accents that exist is a difficult problem for computers. So why then do companies insist on trying to use them when we all know they are completely worthless? Unfortunately we can’t have access to the internet and a computer no matter where we are, so at times we are forced to use these shitty phone systems. Let’s say I’m in Los Angeles and decide to see a movie. On a computer, finding out what is playing where and when would be no more than a two minute process. But no, instead I dial 1-800-Fandango and get this bitch on the phone who can’t understand common English. Here is an example of how my conversation with “her” goes:

[One minute clip about some special offer that I don’t give a shit about]
Do you want to look in or around Brighton?
(Where did she come up with Brighton)
Please say a city and state
Los Angeles, California
You said, Ogden… If that’s not right say go back.
Please say a city and state or enter a zip code
(Thinking… I don’t know the zip code… I don’t live there)
I’m sorry I didn’t hear you…
Are you still there?
Please say a city and state or enter a theater express code using your telephone key pad.
(As opposed to my computer keyboard that plugs into my phone? NO SHIT!)
L O S A N G E L E S , C A L I F O R N I A
OK, Los Angeles

Then she proceeds to ask me more questions to which she can’t understand my response. And so on and so forth until 43 minutes later when I get the movie times and no longer want to see a movie. No matter how clear or how much I annunciate, it’s hit or miss with Fandango. I really hate you Fandango.

These small pictures on the screen…

are called icons.

Learn how to use a computer:

Dell 2007WFP (sweeeeeet…)

Well, it’s been a long time coming but I finally have a computer monitor that fits me perfectly. I’ve had a 17″ normal CRT monitor since my college days (it’s somewhere around 4-5 years old) and while there is nothing wrong with it… I had no clue what I was missing. The 2007WFP boasts a 20″ wide-screen and has a native resolution of 1680X1050. I’m telling you, my desktop never looked so damn sexy. My 17″ monitor I normally run at 1280X1024, the new 2007WFP is about a 35% increase in desktop space. That may not seem like much, but looking at my two monitors side-by-side, there is no comparison. In fact, now when I look at my 17″ CRT the thing looks slightly blurred and I wonder how I ever used the thing. Typical users (and by typical I mean old people who can’t read small text) of a 17″ monitor probably have a 1024X768, now in their case the increase in desktop space is more than double.

First thing’s first, don’t buy a monitor from Dell unless they are offering discounts or you have a coupon. Dell regularly has sales on their website and if you are in the market for a monitor, wait until Dell has theirs on sale. My monitor was ordered on a Tuesday night (at about 11pm), so I figured my order would take a day or two to ship, and I didn’t pay extra, so the Dell website said 3-5 business days for shipping. To my astonishment the delivery man was knocking on my door Thursday at about 5:30pm. I didn’t expect it until the weekend or beginning of the following week, so that was a great surprise. Anyways, I’ll tell the rest of the story with some pictures (unfortunately they were taken on my old 2 megapixel digital camera).

Inside the box:

The stand on top:

After taking the stand out:

Oh yes Dell, you know how to excite a geek:

After following the very complicated instructions:


The ol’ CRT gets a new home:

Yes, I’m a computer geek:

Unfortunately my camera does not do the monitor justice, it is bright, sharp and damn sexy. In fact right now (I started this post a week ago and never got around to finishing it) I’m no longer using my CRT, I connect to my laptop via RealVNC. Oh, I should mention that the monitor does support more than one input method (VGA, S-Video, Composite, and DVI-D), but I’d rather not have to hit the switch input button everytime I want to look at my laptop. I was a little bit hesitant about choosing this monitor, but I don’t have a single complaint, I can never go back to old clunky CRTs.

And now I have all this space: