Spam, Microsoft Search, American Airlines WiFi and More

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Rich Tehrani
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Spam, Microsoft Search, American Airlines WiFi and More

I have so much to write about today that I just don't have the time for separate blog entries so if you excuse me, here is a list of unrelated but important topics.

Spam Arrest

I get too much spam. I get thousands of emails a day and it is killing my productivity. I now have a challenge/response system on my email which means users have to prove they are humans before I get their emails. I also check a web interface to ensure I don't miss important emails but  things got out of hand with all the spam and this new solution should help.

Text to Speech Gets New Voices

I had a recent meeting with Cepstral and they showed me demos of their service/software which provides a variety of voices for text to speech applications. There is one of George W. Bush and others. It is worth a try -- demo sites are here and here.

Applications include talking avatars, talking blogs, talking video game characters and of course talking devices around our home. What? You say... Well there will be a proliferation of web-enabled consumer electronics we will feel compelled to buy and many of these will speak to us. The losers in this scenario are living pets but it will happen. Disagree do you? Then check out chumby.

American Airlines Gets WiFi -- Leave your VoIP Headset Home

American Airlines now has WiFi on its planes but has decided voice applications such as VoIP will not be allowed. Let's see if I understand how this works -- they put phones on planes and charge $5/minute. There was no limit on how long you could talk on these phones. No one would pay this rate so they pulled the service. Now that voice does not bring in incremental revenue over the $12.95/flight it is banned. Hmm -- something seems amiss.

Microsoft to Improve Search

Microsoft is looking to improve its search algorithms and even has a plan to do so. They will look deeper into queries and try to determine user intent. The trouble is, Google has a bigger search database than Microsoft does so this will not be an easy task. Moreover, you can bet anything Microsoft is thinking of, Google is as well.

Microsoft's only hope in search is to Xobni-size their applications. Basically, Xobni (inbox spelled backwards) is a service which connects to Outlook and brings in relevant information regarding an email you are viewing. For example how many emails the sender has sent you, what files they have shared with you and even other people in their network. I really liked its ability to connect with LinkedIn and get a photo . The one problem I had with Xobni was it was too slow so I uninstalled it.

The point here is Microsoft needs tools which hook into Word and Excel, look for keywords and query the internet while I am working. Bring me back relevant information as I work. For example -- if I write General Electric in a Word document, pop the latest company news and a stock chart on the company. Show me a few blogs of importance while you are at it.

Here is the scary part of my suggestion. Allow users to have Google be the search engine for this function but try to retain control of the ads -- this will require some explanation at a later date. Also, start coding soon because if Google does this first you are screwed.

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