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Last week, I got given a free trial of a new voice mail feature from Rogers (the cell phone company who is the devil, as you may remember.)

Basically, the service takes your voicemails and converts them into text messages sent to your phone, and the messages are really very good transcripts, I have to say.  I’d like you to help me play with it—I’ll explain how below.

I’m impressed at the results, and at what this means—you can now be someplace noisy or be busy in a meeting, and if you let a phone call go to voice mail, you can get the information without calling into your voice mail later.

That also means you save yourself a minute or two of air time, over and over again.  Not bad.

Here are examples of the text messages I’ve received.  As you can read, they are quite detailed, and well transcribed.  They both even show traces of accent, slang and txt shortcuts.

Hey Travis, It’s M—calling. Just phoning to say Hi, hadn’t seen you guys for a long time. So, hey, texted you this morning cos I was in the area, thought I just gonna drop by, I just didn’t want to drop by too early as I was gonna be doing some stuff but I end up dropping by, anyone there. So, I think I misunderstood your text so I didn’t explain my motives at all. Anyways, hopefully will see you Sunday for breakfast bud, I’ll talk to you later.

In this one there were maybe three slight errors: “be doing some stuff” was “bringing donuts”, “hey, texted” was “hey, I texted”, and “anyone there” was “you weren’t there”

Hallo Travis this is G—in B—repairs regarding your car if you can please give us a call 604———- thank you.

This one was totally correct except for the punctuation, and the “Hallo”—which, in fact, was closer to what he said than “Hello”.  Pretty good.

But there are problems.  The service costs $15 per month, on top of voice mail, on top of cell service.  I’m not going to call that a ridiculous fee, because I have no idea the cost of the technology (or oompaloompas? It isn’t clear on the Rogers site that it’s a computer behind the system) to develop or run this voice to text service.  But I can say that I won’t be paying $15 per month for it, given that I’m already paying Rogers for voice mail and text messaging.

The other problems are all minor.  The transformed messages take a while to arrive: my quick testing showed it was from 3 to 6 minutes. That’s not forever, but it’s still long enough that you could probably have called into your voice mail in that amount of time.  Also, now that I have this service, I no longer get the simple text message that told me I had a voice mail and I no longer get the little voice mail icon on my phone.  I consider this a good thing, but you might miss it.

Oh, and you might consider this a small bug: I was never able to sign up on the Web site—I had to convince the press person who contacted me to tell the engineers to activate the service for me. I never did get a confirmation msg when the service activated, either.  I never could get the FAQ page to open.  And the Web site is in flash.  Like, ick.

By the way, if you want to sign up, this is the URL.

A meaner me might go so far as to say that each and every part that Rogers handled was screwed up (pricing, signing up, activation, notification), while the SpinVox part seems to work well, and the PR guy was a really nice guy.

So, if you want to have fun testing it, go ahead and call my cell phone and leave a message.  Read a short passage from a book, or quote something from a movie or a speech.  I’ll post the transcript here, and we can see how close the SpinVox transcription is!

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

Comments

 

 

 

 

 

I recently signed up with SimulScribe, and they've been a God-send for reducing cell phone bills while we're abroad. I've been very happy with the speech-to-text conversion, too.

It's funny, I got pitched on this too, but it was the same day as this story broke:

http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2007/12/11/tech-rogers.html

I explained that I knew it was a whole other division of Rogers, but that I wasn't feeling particularly friendly to Rogers that week.

 

Posted by Darren
  at 5:46 am on Dec. 18, 2007

 

 

 

Hey - nice write up..

smile

I write the blog over at spinvox.com and just thought I'd swing by and say thanks for giving us a mention.

I'll stick you in my Friday round up tomorrow!

smile

PS - Nice blog btw.

 

Posted by James Whatley
  at 8:37 am on Dec. 20, 2007

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