Categories
Technology

Steve Jobs on Speech Technology as Transcribed by an iPhone 4S

In 2003 Steve Jobs sat down with Walt Mossberg at the first-ever D: All Things Digital conference. The end of the session included a rare open Q&A with Jobs by audience members in which the following question was asked:

“You talk about handwriting and keyboard, how about speech as a human interface?”

Here is Steve’s answer transcribed by an iPhone 4S using iOS 5’s Dictation feature:

“You know that the last part of that question is is exactly right I I I’ve been almost 30 years and it’s speech is always been five years away because I’m trying to completions
But it went most of the really smart people of speech I know have gotten out of Beelitz it’s like nuclear fusion a lot of bright people went into it and and and people now think it’s a ways away you can do what you can do adequate speech today to meet your correcting a lot of stuff if you just have to know even 1% area try cannot as it turns out you can speak a lot of words in a few terrible so it’s got to be very accurate and so far no one’s come up with the technology Apple’s got a very we got to speak working on stuff Microsoft has a group you want GreatWorks be done in academia but it doesn’t look like it’s been a be real anytime soon I wish it was different”

Here is what he actually said:

“Ya know, the last part of that question is exactly right. I’ve been in this industry almost 30 years and speech has always been five years away. It’s been constant time to completion, just moving along 5 years away. Most of the really smart people in speech I know have gotten out of the field. It’s like nuclear fusion a lot of bright people went into it and people now think it’s a ways away. You can do you can do adequate speech today but it means you’re correcting a lot of stuff. If you just have even 1% error it drives you nuts. Because it turns out you can speak a lot of words in a five minute interval. So, it’s gotta be very accurate and so far no ones come up with the technology. Apple’s got a speech group working on stuff. Microsoft has a group. A lot of great work is being done in academia but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be real any time soon. I wish it was different.”

Looks like Steve was right.

Categories
General Technology Travels

Little Troubles in Big Paris

On Sept 15th, 2011, I began the lifestyle that would define me for the following months; that of a backpacker. My goal was to explore the world, learn about other cultures, and meet new people solely through mobile applications and social networks. Armed with an unlocked iPhone and 7 days worth of clothes, I made my way around based on the recommendations of friends and followers.


When I arrived in Paris via the Eurostar from London, everything was going according to plan. I had a restful train ride in which I wrote, edited photos and caught up on that week’s episode of ‘Breaking Bad’. When I got to the station my friend Kirsten was there waiting for me at the gate with a big smile.

Kirsten is over in Paris for grad school and had moved here just days before my arrival from Chicago. The original plan was for me to stay with her on. She had anticipated she would have an apartment, but was unable to secure a place before my arrival and was staying with someone from her college alumni association. Fortunately she let me know with just enough time to find a hostel for Paris.

She needed to pick up her monthly train pass so I took the opportunity to purchase a series of tickets as well. The next thing on my agenda was to pick up a prepaid SIM card for my phone so that I could proceed as planned with crowd-sourcing my iternerary. In England I had found vending machines at the train station, so I assumed the situation would be similar in Paris. Not so.

Upon my arrival to my hostel I asked about getting a SIM card and I learned that the country had recently tightened restrictions. Due to anti-terrorism legislation, a requirement has been added to supply ID and fill out paperwork to buy even a temporary pre-paid SIM card. So, figuring that the staff that the Apple Store might offer more help, Kirsten and I head out towards the Louvre shopping area.

Once there I was able to get my bearings and learned that there was an Orange store nearby that might solve my problem.

Sure enough, once we arrived at Orange, a gentlemen was extremely helpful at getting me setup. In just minutes I had what I thought was a working SIM card with 500 MB of data only to have it stop working just moments later. Frustrated, I popped the SIM card out and plugged it back in. Suddenly things worked again! And then moments later, they stopped.

I went back to Orange to discover that I needed to ‘top up’ the SIM with an additional 10€ to make it work on data. Even then, it wouldn’t work until tomorrow.

After a little bit of cross-cultural customer service battling, I returned the card for a full refund and set out looking for other carriers via an old-school paper city map.

The plan was to meet up with Kirsten and her friends at a gelato cafe across from Notre Dame around 7 PM. However, by the time I found myself in the area I couldn’t locate the cafe in question, and spent an hour or so just walking up and down the street peering into restaurants before eventually giving up. Tired, hungry and surrounded by expensive food, I resorted to the cheapest thing I could find that I knew I could get quickly: Subway.

I tried looking for WiFi connections I could use to orient myself but it turned out that the same law that restricted SIM card purchases also restricted open WiFi

Unwilling to let the night be a complete bust I trekked back to Notre Dame and spent my time sitting in the courtyard people watching. As I sat there soaking in the incredible architecture, detailed craftsmanship, and the camaraderie around me, I determined that although nothing had gone as planned, it was still a beautiful night. Also, I was eating gelato. Gelato rules.

After some time wandering around I head back towards my hostel and found open WiFi at a bar near the Stalingrad plaza. When I finally got to catch up on tweets, fellow Chicagoan, Elaine noticed I was in Paris and so was she, I then hopped a train and headed her way.

Small photo set posted, more coming soon.

Categories
General Pop culture Technology

Thoughts on Steve

On April 1st, 2011, I walked out of the doors of The North Michigan Avenue Apple store as an employee for the last time.

My fellow employees were lined up from the glass staircase to the doorway, leaving me no choice but to walk down the middle between them. As I approached, they began to clap and cheer at full intensity. I had been a part of this ritual countless times in my six and a half years with the company, so I knew it was coming. Still, it took every fiber of my being to stay composed. I bolted for the door, and when I finally got there, I turned around, looked back at my friends, and threw my arms in the air to wave goodbye one last time.

Seconds later, I turned the corner. Once I knew I was out of the view of my colleagues, I let loose and full-on wept.

I couldn’t hold it back. Working for Apple was more than a job; Apple was a family. Apple still is my family. I have met some of the most important people in my life through Apple. Mentors, friends, lovers… you name it.

Apple allowed me to put my creative energies to use. It enabled me to move halfway across the country to start over, and it inspired me to strike out on my own.

I learned more working for Apple than I did through all of college and high school combined. I grew more as a person than I could have possibly imagined. Apple filled me with memories and experiences that I will cherish until I die. All of that, those people and memories are a part of me; many of them mean more than anything else ever will. I wouldn’t trade any of it, the good or the bad, for anything.

This morning I woke up in a hostel in Bruges and heard the news. I looked at Twitter, and it was filled with loving, thoughtful comments and not a single one in poor taste. I then looked through Instagram, and it was flooded with photo tributes. Every news site was filled with articles and comments regarding his passing.

And I wept.

I never met the man, I never even saw him in person (though I apparently stood right next to him and didn’t know it), and yet there I was standing on a picturesque bridge in the middle of Bruges on a dreary, cold day openly weeping.

My friend Nick today, posted on his Facebook regarding Steve’s death. He mused on how people feel like they know someone in the public eye when they don’t know their internal person. He said that he hopes Jobs was as good in person as we all like to think he was. I would like to counter that point.

That one man who Nick claims I didn’t know, whom I never met and who probably didn’t even know I existed, profoundly changed my life for the better. For that, I am eternally grateful.

When I heard of his retirement, I did something that I swore as an employee I would never do.

I emailed him.

It was just a simple thank you, basically saying a lot of the things I’m saying here. I have no idea if he read it, and I never will. And that’s okay. I didn’t need anything from him. I didn’t need to know him personally. The Steve I knew, the Apple I knew… it gave me more than enough.

Thank you Steve.

Categories
Photography Technology Travels

London Part 2

On Sept 15th, 2011, I began the lifestyle that would define me for the following months; that of a backpacker. My goal was to explore the world, learn about other cultures, and meet new people solely through mobile applications and social networks. Armed with an unlocked iPhone and 7 days worth of clothes, I made my way around based on the recommendations of friends and followers.


When I awoke Monday morning, Blair was determined to show me what she claimed was “the best place to get bagels” in Europe. Growing up in New York, I was spoiled rotten with great bagels, so I was instantly skeptical of her claim.

It turned out that this place was also somewhere that Lis Rock had already suggested via Twitter based on her travel experiences. And interestingly, there is a competing bagel shop right next door as well. So we decided to try both to determine which was better.

For me, the litmus test of a good bagel shop is their toasted poppy seed bagel with butter. These bagels had little in common with American style bagels. They were smaller, softer, typically plain (as opposed to seeded or spiced), and near-as-I-could-tell neither shop offered the option to have them toasted.

Unfortunately, only the second of the two shops had a poppy seed bagel on their menu. However, the shop without the poppy seed option turned out to have much better butter than the first. Ultimately I was left unable to make a conclusive decision on which was the better bagel. As far as I am concerned, neither were bagels, but I still enjoyed the experience.

After breakfast, Blair and I wandered through the city to the flower market. There we relaxed while listening to street musicians and just watched the hustle and bustle of people around us.

We then took off exploring through the city checking out the aFrom there, she took me to the financial district to check out the architecture as well as St. Paul’s Cathedral. I finally got to visit the famed Covent Garden shopping district and once again took the advice of Jim Binder by checking out a pub called the Nag’s Head. 

The Nag’s Head was an Irish style pub with an extremely short bar and a variety of Adnam’s beers on tap. We rested there with a pint and some snacks briefly before heading back to meet up with her husband Patrick, for dinner at a pub near their flat.

The following day Blair and I took a suggestion from my aunt to visit The Victoria and Albert Museum. The museum was hosting an exhibit entitled “The Power of Making,” which explored the ways people can create things of beauty or function out of the unexpected. Perhaps the most interesting example of which was this amazing Crochetdermy bear.

We wandered a bit more from there and met up again with Patrick at the Albion. Before calling it a night, we caught up with some of his friends for a quick drink and conversation. I had to head to bed as the next morning I was off to Paris via the Eurostar.

Despite cramming a lot in, my time in London was as laid back as I could have hoped. From there on out, the real trip was set to begin.

Full London photo set.

Categories
Photography Technology Travels

London Part 1

On Sept 15th, 2011, I began the lifestyle that would define me for the following months; that of a backpacker. My goal was to explore the world, learn about other cultures, and meet new people solely through mobile applications and social networks. Armed with an unlocked iPhone and 7 days worth of clothes, I made my way around based on the recommendations of friends and followers.


Traveling from Brighton to London seemed like it would be easy enough. However, when I arrived at the train station, I found that service to London had been canceled due to some sort of security issue. All was not lost however, as one of the friendly train attendants were able to help me figure out a route into the city using a variety of transfers.

I eventually arrived in East London and specifically to Cheshire Street, where my friend Blair and her husband Patrick live. Although she’s originally from South Carolina, I know Blair from Chicago, where she lived briefly to attend the School of the Art Institute’s graduate program in painting. At some point, Blair left to study abroad for a semester where she met Patrick. Fast forward a few years, and they are now married and living together in London.

My visit to London just happened to coincide with the Bermondsey Street Festival, where Blair was showing some of her artwork. Unfortunately, it also coincided with Patrick being out of town for a friend’s bachelor weekend.

After resting a bit at Blair’s flat, we made our way over to the gallery for an opening cocktail reception. There I met several of her friends and other artists who were participating in the show. I had a thrilling discussion with one gentleman, Alex, on the artistic merits of digital tools for artwork and the case for, and against, and the brilliant Japanese animation film Akira.

The next day I set out with Blair and several of her friends to the actual Street Festival. After an hour or two, I decided to split off from the group to venture out and explore London. I figured I would take the time to get to know Gowalla‘s newly revised iPhone app and its ‘Gowalla Guides’ feature. For those unfamiliar with Gowalla, it is a location-based social network that previously was built around “checking-in” to a venue similar to Foursquare (which I wrote about when it debuted at SXSW ’09.)

Recently Gowalla decided to concede the check-in war and revamp their app in a different direction. Their approach was to feature ‘city guides’ and recommendations of things to do. I was a big fan of the old app, so I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to give the new one a go.

First things first, I head off to find the Apple Store Regent Street

Yes, I’m a nerd, I know. But Apple Stores are a godsend to travelers in all seriousness. The stores feature free Wi-Fi, clean bathrooms, water fountains, and usually (but not always) a place to sit down for a while. Apple is also very particular about where they build their stores and the design of them. So if you can find a city’s Apple Store, not only will it generally assure that you’ll see some beautiful architecture, but you’ll also find a lively shopping district with good (albeit expensive) places to eat.

Once I’d caught up with everything I needed to, I popped open Gowalla to look at what was nearby. When I saw that London’s famous Picadilly Circus was a short walk away, I decided to head off in that direction. From there, I made my way to Green Park and eventually Buckingham Palace.

The Palace is a sight to behold that, unfortunately, was closed when I arrived at 6pm. Thankfully, I was still able to see the guards from the gate and talk to some of the assigned police officers. I also got a bunch of great shots from the monument across from it.

I wandered on further through the Palace parks and noticed that I could see the famous ‘London Eye’ from the park. So I decided to walk towards it, where I eventually discovered Big Ben and the bridge between them. The area around Big Ben was very alive with street performers and tourists, and I got a good laugh watching them. From there, I decided to take the advice of Jim Binder via Twitter and caught a cab over to ‘The Old Red Cow’ for a bite and a drink. Sure enough, Jim’s suggestion was spot on, and ‘The Old Red Cow’ was a cozy bar with a great atmosphere, a friendly bartender, and a heck of a burger. Shortly after that, I headed back to Blair’s via the Underground and called it a night.

Photoset now posted here.