Tuesday, May 29, 2007


My cell phone has “voice recognition” which works about as well as the famed singing pig. The pig sings out of tune but it’s amazing that it sings at all. It's more like Voice Wheel of Fortune. You never know what you're going to get.

“Call Home,” I say.

“Call Rome,” phone replies.

“Sono spiacente, Gina che Lolabrigita non è disponibile.”

“Numero spiacente e errato,” I mutter and hang up quickly.

“Call Home,” I say.

“More Foam,” phone replies.

“Attic Foam and Insulation, Carl speaking.”

“Sorry, Carl, I was trying to call home, not foam.”

“Ah,” Carl said, “you’ve got the Binford 3000 phone. No problem. Happens all the time. But, if you need a few extra R-numbers of insulation keep us in mind.”

“Will do, Carl, have a good one and keep cool.”

Once again into the fray.

“Call Hommmmmmmme,” I shout!

“Lindsey Looooooohan,” the phone informs me calmly.

Quickly I hit the power button. The last time I called Lindsey we partied all night and I felt terrible for a week.

There has to be a better way. I’ve been working with voice recognition for several decades and it’s always been a pain. It works sorta, almost, not quite and, uh, your mileage may vary. Then again one could say it doesn't work worth spit.


Once I had a system that picked up on any conversation or ambient noise. You couldn’t turn it off. It went like this.

“Whew, it’s hot today!”

Shutting. All. Windows.



“Stop! Don’t shut windows!”

Shutting down.

“Don’t shut down! Stop!”

Formatting hard disc.

“No, don’t format hard disc!”


"Stupid idiot computer!"

Two large pepperoni pizzas, extra anchovies. Confirmed.

And so it went until that system met an untimely demise in a bayou.

Then I discovered Klingon. Klingon is the ultimate voice recognition language.

Besides Klingons, who speaks Klingon? Certainly not computers or cell phones. I figured that with Klingon the cell phone would have no choice but to obey. The only downside to using Klingon would be if there were a Klingon battle cruiser in orbit and what's the chance of that?

Klingon Battle cruiser! I crack me up!

So, I changed all my voice commands to Klingon and the results have been spectacular, beyond my wildest dreams. I'd have to boast a 100% success rate in voice-activated calls.


Calling Joe...

"Yoooooool KAP!"

Calling Home...

"Rayyyyyyy Gni-Daiii!"

Calling Weather One...

It really is a good system, although the astute reader would recognize that nothing works 100%. Maybe 99%, or 99.9% and I confess the system did have one mysterious malfunction.

In an early test I called my wife's cell phone using the Klingon phrase

"Hi-jol phat!"

which means basically nothing, but is very close to the Klingon phrase

"Hi-jol pat"

which means "beam me up."

I must not have aspirated the "h" properly and that's the best explanation I have to what happened.

My wife's cell phone rang once, then went dead.

Later that night the kids asked, "When is Mommy coming home?"

I looked up into the evening sky as a small red dot orbited through Orion's Belt.

"Not for a while, I think, not for a while."


Anonymous said...

I must confess that I don't read your blog often. I drop by every month or so. Usually, I chuckle a bit, but my blog reading time is so limited.

This post may just have me hooked. I haven't cracked up so much all day. Thanks for brightening my day.

As an aside, my husband works at a company that develops voice recognition software. Actually, it translates voice mail into email. They love playing with the voice mail to see what wild things they can get the system to put into text.

Anonymous said...

You reminded me of one of my favourite bits from The Onion, entitled "Voice Recognition Software Yelled At"



That Janie Girl said...

You always make me laugh! Thanks!!