Can you hear me now? Tales from a Cisco voice instructor


April 30, 2012  6:38 PM

Language Translation in the Fly

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

Imagine calling someone in China and talking to them. Okay, that isn’t too hard to imagine. Now imagine they were speaking Chinese and you were speaking English, but each of you heard the conversation in your own language. In the not too distant future you won’t have to imagine that.

AT&T is working on a technology that will translate the spoken word into the language of your choice in near real time. The idea is to offer it as a service. All you have to do is place the call and start talking and, of course, pay for the service. I can’t help but think of the Bablefish from the Adam Douglas book, “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.” If you never read the book here’s the definition of the Bablefish directly from the book:

“The Babel fish is small, yellow, leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the universe. It feeds on brain wave energy, absorbing all unconscious frequencies and then excreting telepathically a matrix formed from the conscious frequencies and nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain, the practical upshot of which is that if you stick one in your ear, you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language: the speech you hear decodes the brain wave matrix.”

If the AT&T service comes with a small yellow leech-like device, I think I will have to pass.

April 30, 2012  11:06 AM

Need a Faster Router?

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

If you find yourself transferring large files between devices over your wireless network and feel it just takes too long, you might want to checkout Netgear’s newest router when it comes out next month. They claim that you could see speeds of 1GB. That’s fast – so fast I am not really sure why I would need it. Currently I am transferring data at my home at around 54MB. I don’t feel I am waiting too long for anything, but I am sure there are those out there that will feel they just have to have one.

Netgear R6300

Netgear R6300

For those of you that do find the need for that kind of speed, the device you will be looking for is called a R6300. It is based on the 802.11ac technology, so in order to get those kinds of speed your other devices will need to be 802.11ac as well. Currently that is going to be a little hard to do since it officially isn’t even a standard yet. That should occur later this year, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping some companies from adopting it. It has been rumored that Apple may support this technology in its airport products later this year.

So, if you need to be on the bleeding edge and have the fastest, you should get ready to order the Netgear R6300 next month. By the way, it will set you back about 200 bucks.


April 29, 2012  4:09 PM

Excuse Me, I Think Your Tattoo is Ringing

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

Have you ever had your phone on vibrate and not feel it when a call was coming in? It happens to me all the time. While missing a call may not be the end of the world, there are a few I wished I had not missed. You figure there has to be a solution for this. The first thing that I thought of is why don’t they make the vibration stronger? The reason they don’t has to do with trying to keep the size of the phone small and the battery. The stronger the vibration, the quicker the battery will wear down. Also, if you have the phone in the pocket of a heavy coat or a purse you still might not feel it.

Apparently the folks at Nokia have given this problem a lot of thought and have filed a patent for a tattoo that would “vibrate” when your phone rings. It uses a type of magnetic ink, and the phone would be able to send a magnetic signal. They say it would feel more like an itch than a vibration, and it can be set to not only notify you of incoming calls, but other things such as texts and upcoming appointments.

I have to admit that I have never really had the desire to have a tattoo before and, believe it or not, this new technology really doesn’t change that for me.


April 28, 2012  2:33 AM

Remote Support Tool

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

I found a neat site today that may come in handy the next time I am trying to help one of my less than tech savvy friends. If you are known as a “computer guy,” then you know what I mean. Someone you know has trouble with their PC and the next thing you know your phone is ringing.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy helping people, but sometimes it becomes very frustrating for both parties. I am asking what I feel is a very simple question like, “what operating system are you using” and I get a very frustrated answer like “I already told you, I have a Dell.” It not their fault, they really don’t need to know what OS they have in order to get to Google. That is another one of my favorites I ask, “What browser are you using?” and they tell my “Google.”

The site that I found is called Supportdetails,com. It is a very simple site. It displays a page that shows basic information such as the OS, browser, and IP address. It even allows you to email this information. The next time I am helping someone remotely, the first thing I am going to do is send them to this site and have them email me the information. I figure this will reduce some of the frustration and speed up the resolution time, at least a little.


April 27, 2012  7:12 PM

New Email Virus

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

Just what the world needs, another virus. This new one is rather unique in that all you have to do is open an email, and you are infected. Remember the good old days when as long as you didn’t open any email attachments, you were safe and when surfing the Internet you could protect yourself simply by not downloading any files that you could not verify to be safe.

As you most likely know, you can get malware installed on your computer simply by visiting a website nowadays. This is done by a Java script that automatically loads when you visit the site. Well, some not too well intended individuals have adapted that trick to email. It works because most emails clients will read HTML and a Java script can be loaded from within HTML. When you open the infected message, it launches the Java script without requiring any interaction from the user. The only hint at all is that the users will see a message that says, “Loading…Please Wait.”

It has been reported that this email is currently making the rounds with a subject of “Banking security update” but I am sure by the time you read this, there will be a number of other variants out there. So how do you protect yourself? The safest thing to do is to disable HTML in your email client. This will result in some emails not displaying properly, but I’d rather read an ugly email than be infected. Of course, it is always a good idea to make sure your virus and malware definitions are up to date as well.


April 26, 2012  6:42 PM

What is a Zettabyte?

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

Do you remember the first time you heard the word Gigabyte? Yeah, I don’t either, but I do remember thinking it was an incredible amount of space. Now it is common for laptops to have a Terabyte of storage. So what’s next? Petabyte would be the answer. A petabyte 1024 Terabytes. That’s a lot of data, but would you believe that currently around 8 Petabytes of video traverse the Internet every month and that will only keep increasing? This, of course, raises the question, “What comes after a Petabyte?” An Exabyte, which is 1024 Petabytes. After that comes a Zettabyte, which is 1024 Exabytes. If your head is spinning right now, don’t worry mine is, too. The best analogy I have heard is that if a Gigabyte were equal to an 11 oz cup of coffee, then a Zettabyte of coffee would equal the volume of the great wall of China. That’s a lot of java!

So why do these number even matter? When will we ever find ourselves in need of using numbers this large? Well, if the projections are correct, we will need to start using Zettabyte in the year 2015. It is estimated that the annual IP traffic will reach one Zettabyte in the year 2015.

This and more interesting information about the Internet and the year 2015 can be found on the infographic below.

by visually. Browse more data visualizations.


April 25, 2012  7:17 PM

The Simplest Way to Tranfers Large Files

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

Have you ever needed to send someone a large file and ran into trouble? First, you find out your company email server will not allow you to send a file that large so you send it from your Gmail account. It goes out just fine, but then you get an email telling you that it was rejected by the receiving email server because it won’t allow files that large. So then you decide to post it to your company’s FTP server only to find out that it doesn’t have guest access. It shouldn’t be that hard.

Apparently the folks at Wetransfer.com agree. They have come up with pretty much the simplest way to transfer large files (up to 2GB) that I have even seen. All you have to do is go to wetransfer.com and you are presented with the very clean and simple interface shown below.

Now all you have to do is select the file you want to send, enter the recipient’s email address, your email address, and click transfer. After the transfer is complete, the recipient will receive an email with a link that will allow them to download the file. You don’t even have to create an account. The files that you post to this service will automatically be deleted after two weeks.

Wetransfer is an example of how technology should simplify things for us.


April 23, 2012  6:47 PM

Robots Now Guarding Prisoners

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

This story looks like it was ripped right out of one of those cheap tabloids you find yourself flipping through in the checkout lanes at the grocery store. However, this one really is true. It seems South Korea has found a way to reduce the need for human guards by replacing them with robots. Actually, the robot can’t completely replace the human guards as they are not able to directly intervene in any issues that arise, but they can detect issues that may require human response.

The robots travel at two kilometers per hour (similar to a human’s normal walking pace) and can monitor prisoners and evaluate actions. They are programmed to recognize certain types of behaviors and motions that may indicate a problem. They come equipped with cameras, microphones, and speakers which allow the human guards, stationed in a operations control room, to communicate with the prisoners.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/HCIYGdlH9Y0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

The robots are similar to humans by the fact that they can not work forever without a break. When they reach 20 percent power level they automatically return to their charging station and plug themselves in. While this is all very cool, it just makes me think we are closer to Skynet then we may think. I guess as long as we don’t arm them we should be OK – unless they become self aware and arm themselves.


March 31, 2012  12:09 PM

Don’t Believe Anything You See on the Internet Tomorrow

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

Tomorrow is that day those of you that like to make fools of others live for, and the Internet is not safe from their antics. I thought as a way of cautioning you, and to have a little fun, we will take a quick look at a few of my favorite Internet April Fools day pranks.

Google hired “Autocompleters” – These are the people that automatically complete your Google search request. Hard to believe, but some people fell for this and really thought people where on the other end trying to quickly guess what you were going to enter.

Branson Buys Pluto – Virgin.com claimed the Richard Branson had purchased Pluto, but they didn’t stop there. They went on to say that he had reinstated it as a planet.

The 3D Monocle – Toshiba announced a 3D monocle “one-eyed 3D so real, you’d think you were using both eyes!”

There are others, many others, and tomorrow there will be even more to add to the list. So, when you hear tomorrow that the UN is demanding a halt to all helium mining on order to prevent the earth from falling to its doom, you may want to remember what day it is.


March 30, 2012  11:50 PM

Flexible Displays Are Here Now

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

On Thursday LG announced that it started mass production of a flexible liquid crystal display for use primarily in e-readers. It is the world’s first Electronic Paper Display (EPD). The press release was pretty interesting, but to save you some time, below are what I feel are the most interesting parts of it:

“The 6″ XGA (1024×768), e-ink, plastic EPD is expected to revolutionize the E-Book market..”

“EPD from LG Display offers users a paper-like reading experience with a plastic substrate that is as slim as cell phone protection film, and a flexible design that allows bending at a range of 40 degrees from the center of the screen.”

“…EPD realizes a super slim thickness of 0.7mm which is 1/3 slimmer than existing glass EPD; as well as a weight of 14g, which is more than 1/2 lighter.”

“The world’s first mass-produced plastic EPD from LG Display will first be supplied to ODM companies in China, followed by completed products to be released in Europe at the beginning of next month.”

As you can see from the photo above, this looks pretty cool. Since it only bends 40 degrees, you won’t be seeing any portable devices with roll up screens real soon. But I bet that isn’t as far away as some may think.


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