Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bad Days, Voice Recognition Software, SNoQ, and Benedict Cumberbatch

Wednesday was one of those days where you wake up and it's so dark outside that you feel like there must've been some mix-up with the sun. And it never gets any brighter, and also your hands hurt, but you have to do a lot of computer work anyway, and because your hands hurt, you're clumsy, and because you're clumsy, you keep spilling crumbs and splattering liquids everywhere on account of a person must eat, and it sucks to have to clean everything all up, because your hands hurt.

I depend on my dictation software for my e-mail communications and the transcription of my work. I'm inexpressibly grateful for its existence. BUT that doesn't mean that it doesn't make me livid with anger, even bring me close to tears, from time to time. There are just some days where nothing works; no matter where you put the microphone, no matter how distinctly you speak, it won't get any of your words right, and nothing works, and you have to use your hands. On Wednesday, in the middle of an e-mail to my sister, codename: Apocalyptica the Flimflammer, I finally gave up. "I'm not correcting what my software just wrote," I dictated. "You can figure out what words I actually said, right?"

She wrote back, "Of course, and I'd much rather do some sleuth-work than have you typing."

A minute later, she wrote back with another e-mail: "Sleuth-work! Benedict Cumberbatch!"

What a splendid world it is when we can run into Benedict Cumberbatch around every corner.

Which reminds me of an excellent game of Sufficient Number of Questions (SNoQ) Apocalyptica and I recently played. (SNoQ, as I have explained before, is a game much like 20 Questions -- 20 Questions being the game where Person X thinks of a physical entity and Person Y guesses what the entity is by asking no more than 20 Yes/No questions. Here's the difference: With SNoQ, there are no limits to what the entity can be. It can be an abstract concept, a nonentity. It can be a made-up invention. It can be an existing thing that you might not in ordinary circumstances consider to be an existing thing. There are also no limits to the number of Yes/No questions Person Y is allowed to ask. S/he always asks whatever number is sufficient.)

It only took Apocalyptica about 25 minutes to guess this concept: Apocalyptica herself, rescuing Benedict Cumberbatch when he deposits a quarter into the world's largest gumball machine and the machine goes haywire, burying him in gumballs! She is a SNoQ pro! (Especially in matters concerning Benedict Cumberbatch. Which is why I made sure this matter did. Concern him, I mean.)

It took me significantly longer to guess "an apple blasting off." (I don't have it in me to explain the context for that, but if you're curious, it's quite delightful and has to do with the scientists who recently won the Nobel Prize in physics for discovering that the universe is expanding, and you can read about it here.) (ETA 8:28pm: Okay, I confess that when it comes to physics on the blog, I'm sometimes lazy on checking my facts, because I happen to know that one of my friends will let me know if I've made a mistake. Which I did here. The scientists did not discover that the universe is expanding -- that has been known for some time. They discovered that its rate of expansion is *increasing*. Thanks, former physicist JD. ^_^)

Incidentally, my TOS keeps me from being able to type, but two things I can do without pain are: (1) drawing; and (2) procrastinating.

 Apocalyptica rescues Mr. Cumberbatch
 from a gumball calamity