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Messenger Archives - February 2010

A Garbled Word or Two About Google Voice

Google has come up with a great new service for busy people-on-the-go called Google Voice. Here’s how it works. You leave yourself a voice-mail on your Google Voice account. The Chinese then hack this voice-mail and, using speech-recognition protocols, email you a transcript of it that you can read at your leisure.

Thought I’d give it a whirl. You see, I don’t listen to myself when I speak, and that’s sad, because I’m interesting. But what if I shared my thoughts and ideas with Google Voice? That way I could be edified by them the way other people are. As well, a sophisticated speech-recognition system could help improve my vocal punctuation. My written punctuation is perfect. Example: correct use of colon. But when I speak ... commas, out of place, gratuitous use of ellipses. It’s a mess. Help me, Google Voice.

Last week I opened a Google Voice account and immediately had this thought where I’d write an article about how fantastic Google Voice was. I sent the voice-mail, then completely forgot about it until the next day when I checked the transcript:

“Hope you are, and they fit for a kid and provide 23 percent about the school budget. Please remember to vote yes on both Israelis and mail in your ballot back. I’ll be right night for information.”

Alright, it seemed I was in fact writing an article about an Israeli election. I was glad I read that, and got to work on it.

Next night I was down at Two Bells Tavern and felt the tingle of a witticism coming on. Perfect use for Google Voice. I couldn’t wait to read the transcript of it the next day. Because I knew it would be funny.

“This is an urgent you know where missus walking alone, that’s W. I don’t know if it’s not about to. That’s all of the essence. Davies. Yeah day in New York involved in and I don’t know if you’ve any time it’s God. I hope that’s yeah okay yeah yeah.”

Interesting. I decided that from now on I would drink more beers before being clever.

I’m a journalist, so I researched the Chinese on their Wikipedia page. They first entered the world stage when they took over China in 1949. Good at ping-pong ... invented Feng Shui. Hold on, here it is: the Chinese don’t speak English. Really. I was disappointed, and I told them so in a voice-mail. “Come on, China. It’s English, for god’s sake. Children speak it. That idiot who made Avatar made an entire movie in it. You don’t see me mangling your Chinese. Clean it up.” Next day, the transcript:

“Yo, you know the hey. Seattle’s just sitting up there and then and birth is clothes and but if you know. Have a nice day. Hey, So I was in the paper about how you spend down here forever. Garland sleeping in the doorway. Yeah, Sam slipping away.”

Look, I know they’re an evil empire bent on world domination. But I thought an alliance with the Chinese would at least help Google learn a thing or two about product efficiency and decent customer service. Guess not. Hey, Google? Everybody is out there and a half naked, mostly Asian people, what’s funny intact story. A through pack and here we are walking towards the Buddha shorties. Okay bye.

See more on speech recognition technology:
-Debunking Belltown's Bad Reputation
-Google Voice is a Balderdash Engine
-Be Very Afraid: Biometrics Expert Tells All

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