Blackboard Alerts, Amie and Amazon, Robot for Software, Tellme's Shirk

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Blackboard Alerts, Amie and Amazon, Robot for Software, Tellme's Shirk

On the morning of January 27, 2010, Northwestern University Police were notified that a man with a gun had been seen in a campus building elevator. According to a recent white paper written by Blackboard, after the threat was deemed credible, university police began searching the building and adjoining buildings while University Relations, the university's communications office immediately began informing students, faculty and staff of the potential danger.
Most important was ensuring that constituents had the opportunity to either take onsite safety precautions or avoid the area altogether.
"In a crisis, we have the challenge of trying to reach our constituents all over the Chicago metropolitan area, regardless of the time of day. And the Chicago metropolitan area is a big space," said Alan Cubbage, vice president for university relations.
Administrators used the Blackboard Connect service to warn stakeholders of the danger.
"Blackboard Connect allowed us to do so in a timely manner. It has been a valuable addition to our emergency communications systems," Cubbage said. Overall, administrators used the Blackboard Connect service to send four messages in three hours to almost 45,000 people.
Read more here.

Amie Street has been acquired by Amazon for an undisclosed amount, according to Mashable. The acquisition means that "starting with September 22, all pages will be forwarded to
"We've been straddling two spaces for years now -- streaming and download," Amie Street co-founder and CEO Elias Roman told The Register. "We've basically been splitting our attention. This is a fundamental change in focus from retail and streaming to just streaming."
And if you have an Amie Street account, you should download all purchased music by September 22 and spend off any remaining balance too, since it won't be transferred to Amazon, Mashable says.
"Amie Street started by offering music from independent labels and digital distributors like The Orchard, and it was a pioneer of demand-based pricing," industry observer Matt Rosoff wrote. "But the company had to compromise on this model in order to get music from major labels such as Sony, and I haven't heard much buzz about the company in the last year."
Read more here.

As a Facebook friend of this reporter wrote, "Don't worry about that robot taking over the world thing, they've just learned to sort socks."
What's the secret to robots finally getting the widespread acceptance that's been predicted for them since, oh, the 1980's with any seriousness?
Third-party apps. That's right, what boosted Facebook and Apple gadgets into the stratosphere.According to Agence-France Press, Willow Garage has begun "selling the robots in what it depicted as a step on the journey to the kinds of personal, affordable robots science fiction writers have long envisioned."
Willow Garage officials say the robot can be used to do repetitive tasks at work or home, CNET says, and "aid those who might otherwise need to live in an assisted-living facility. The availability of more than 1,000 software libraries appears to ensure a promising future for the young robot."
Read more here.

Recently TMC CEO Rich Tehrani interviewed Grant Shirk, Director of Industry Solutions at Microsoft's Tellme. Shirk says Microsoft has surrounded the team at Tellme with the latest in speech technology, both recognition and generation. Microsoft has been working on creating a speech group for the past 15 years, he noted.
Tehrani characterized it as bringing together all the needs for speech across every one of Microsoft's applications, and combining it with Tellme's core competency and technology. "Exactly," Shirk said, adding that there are two things Tellme does well -- operating an on-demand network-based service in the cloud and creating the speech components themselves. Being able to build a technology around these competencies reinforces Microsoft's commitment to the natural user interface, he said.
Shirk added that the way to unlock the power of devices is with speech, touch and gesture, and that Microsoft was currently working in all three areas.
"Helping companies communicate well with their customers" is still one of the key areas for speech, Shirk said, adding that "when you think about the contact center, specifically, the telephone is really a company's front door."
Read more here.

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