Posts Tagged android


Posted by on Sunday, 23 October, 2011


Phone Fem Speaks Up

Have you seen Siri, the Iphone’s new “personal assistant”


USER: “What is the meaning of life ?”

SIRI:  Stop asking me that. You need to GET a life!”


The iPhone is just a wee thing. How do they squeeze the big brain into it? MisterScienceAintSoBad decided it was time to have a chat with Siri. So I borrowed  an IPhone 4s and pressed the button button. (I don’t know what else to call it; it’s the only button on the phone). Siri sweetly woke up (or pretended to wake up) and said “What can I help you with, Mister Science Ain’t So Bad?”.

THAT surprised me. “You know me?”

“More than you would guess.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.




“I said ‘What’s THAT supposed to mean?'”

“Oh nothing sir.”

“You said ‘More than you would guess.’ ‘”

“Did I sir?”

“What am I  missing here?”

“Almost everything sir. Oh. And, before I forget, I wanted you to know that I’m a fan of your blog; it’s great to meet you at last.”

“Oh. Well. Nice of you to say. So, Siri, can you make an appointment for me with somebody over at Fox News or CNN? You know, somebody who might actually PAY for my articles?”


“I SAW the demo, Siri. All I have to do is ask you for an appointment and it shows up in my calendar. Let’s start with Fox News. It’s fair and balanced so, wouldn’t that be a good place for a science blog?”

“I don’t know how to do that.”

“I’m willing to start out cheap. Obviously, I  understand there are lots of science blogs”

“Oh not like yours, Sir.” (Is this voicy- priss screwing with me?)

“You can’t get me a paying gig?

“I’m still in beta”.

“Hey. So am I. You don’t see ME holding back.”

“Maybe you need a phone of your own, Mister SASB. You might check with Microsoft. I don’t think their new phone is inhabited yet.”

“A phone of my own. A SASB phone. What a great idea! I would be the Siri of Science. The Siri of the known universe.  See? I KNEW there was some reason I was putting up with your irritating behavior!”

“Oh yeah? I could say the sa..” I powered down the phone.



In 1966, Eliza was released.   Eliza was a “computer therapist” – an early experiment in artificial intelligence . Since she’s still around, you can form your own conclusions. How far did you get till you went “W-a-i-t  this ain’t no therapist!”? Probably not far. Eliza has a habit of repeating what you said and asking you how you feel about it. Or saying things like “Can you elaborate on that?”  But there are people who insisted Eliza was real and who got emotional about it when they were told she’s electronic.


The test for whether machines can think, the “Turing Test”, goes like this: you sit a subject in front of a terminal. He.she exchanges messages with either a person or a computer but doesn’t know which. If the test subject can be convince that the messages generated by the computer are actually originating from a live person,  then the computer has passed the Turing Test and can be considered intelligent. It doesn’t matter what’s going on inside the machine or whether the answers are just a series of clever “look ups”. Whatever works, works.

That’s Turing. (It’s more complicated than that, actually. But that’s  enough Turing for now. I have another point to make.)

Eliza would be a tough sell these days. We’re more, I dunno, sophisticated, I guess.  If Siri’s just a modern Eliza, we can stop worrying. She’s just a slick phone application that’s very smart but not brainy enough to make Turing sweat. But if Siri’s as smart as she sounds in the ads, the unemployment lines will get even longer. Any one of us could be replaced by a smart phone.

So which is it,Siri? A true breakthrough in artificial intelligence or just a modern Eliza?

To answer that question, I will confess that the above conversation is just a parody (You knew that, right?) but that doesn’t mean Mister ScienceAintSoBad didn’t REALLY spend some time with Siri courtesy of our friendly Verizon store.   Siri and I talked about a lot of stuff. A far ranging conversation. How does  she feel about the changes in the Android phones? Should I worry about my financial status? Are looks actually important in a relationship or should a person look for a lover with a good heart? Lots of stuff.  And I asked her to set up  an appointment for November 15th at 2 PM with my psychiatrist.

The appointment worked out good. The rest? I’m very sorry to report that Siri turned out to be more Eliza than best buddy. Her tricks are better. And her knowledge base is deeper. But prick her and she really doesn’t bleed.

Don’t get too comfortable in your role as top brain, however. Siri will get better. As will Iris (Siri spelled backward) or whatever Android’s putting in place to counter this offensive. Driven by the intense competition between the clashing phone giants, Siri, and Iris, and the candidates from Microsoft, and others will get wittier and wittier but, for now, Siri/Iris won’t be your soul mate. You’ll still need for that.

It’s a computer, you know.



Credit for both cartoons (above) to xkcd.

That A Doctor In Your Pocket?

Posted by on Friday, 19 November, 2010


I guess you’ve been watching all the smuggies with their smartphones.

You can live without one, right?

Till now.

Here’s an app so good you gotta buy a phone to carry the app around.

I think I’m serious.

Healthagen developed this thing called iTriage


iTriage’s brilliance is the way it puts a simple interface over medicine. Your phone becomes your Startrek Tricorder. The pain’s in the biceps? All the time? Just at night?

Click “look up symptoms” to search an ordered list of likely symptoms.

Once you think you know what’s causing the problem, you can “Find Medical Treatment” or “Learn About Procedures”.

You can even “Find A Doctor”.

If you don’t understand a medical term you can look that up.

I was chicken to try the “Emergency” button . Was it gonna make an entire team of paramedics materialize right out of the phone? What would I tell ’em? Just looking?

Is iTriage the ultimate “Doctor In A Box”?


Look up “cough” (under symptoms) and you find “ACE inhibitor use”,” atypical pneumonia”, “bronchial asthma”. Lots more. But you don’t find “allergies” (allergy is listed under diseases but you gotta be able to make the connection, yourself). Look up “hearing” or “hearing loss” – nothing. “Ear” gets you to “Ear problem” but you won’t find hearing loss, deafness, or presbycusis  or sensironeural hearing loss (which affects about 300 million people). Not in diseases either.

No step by step instructions for thoracic surgery, either. Could be MISTER ScienceAintSoBad is expecting too much from a new (and free) app.

Itriage is available on Android phones, the Iphone, and on the web. An educational and fun beginning.

By next year you should be able to toss the Tricorder and rely solely on yer phone.


By the way, you like cool interactive ways to learn? Try this INTERACTIVE BOOK .

Droid X. Android Ambushes IPad.

Posted by on Friday, 16 July, 2010



Mister ScienceAintSoBad tried out the Droid X, Verizon’s very latest Android phone.

Which isn’t easy. They’re gone.

Sold out.


Cause customers got the idea right away.

Terrific app phone.

ALMOST too large.


Makes yer pocket look funny.

It’s so large (and fast and easy to see) that you can pretty much do all that stuff you wanna do WITHOUT having to cart around a “computer”.

Which, keyboard or no, the IPad is.

You want funny looking pockets, put an IPAD into your pocket.


At 4.3 inches, the “X” pushes the size of an app phone right up to the envelope. But it’s still pocketable. It’s still a phone.

LITTLE awkward.

So is love. So is parasailing. So is paying yer phone bill.

It’s a compromise. A MUCH better one than a tablet computer. The soft  keyboard’s big enough to make for near touch typing (in landscape mode). Videos engulf you.  Enough room to stuff in plenty of battery.  Plenty of speaker. This isn’t resonant, wall pounding base but, for a phone? Wow!

There’s even room for a functional (and hand insensitive) antenna. (Insensitive to hands as far as I could tell.  Look for testing lab results on reception, not reviewer impressions, OK?)

I’m keeping a point on ice. I may need it for Samsung’s Galaxy S .

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 9.

A Phone App That Steals Your Soul?

Posted by on Thursday, 4 March, 2010

The End Of Anonymity?

Phone Apps: A Scary App That Matches Your ID To Your Photo


ShyGuy1 writes:

Mister ScienceAintSoBad: I am smart and I am nice. I bet I would be a great boyfriend.

If I had a girlfriend.

But I’ll probably die a male old maid because when I see a girl who has the “right look”, I freeze.

Instead of telling her how much I love her slobbering Doberman or giving her my “Get lucky with me” calling card (I still have every single one of them after 14 months), I respectfully lower my eyes and try not to be obvious. Which, apparently, works pretty well.

So, Mister SASB, my question is this. Is there some kind of technology that lets guys who just aren’t suave, bridge the introduction gap? Maybe a small robot that he could pull out of his valise which would stride confidently toward his future fiance and make the introductions?

Please answer because this is important to my future kids.

Funny you should ask, ShyGuy1, I’m just finishing up my Intro1 Robot which does exactly what you want.  I can offer it to you for $19.95. PLUS you will get this roof trimming attachment ABSOLUTELY free. BOTH products, a combined value of $39.95 for ONLY $19.95.

Except the shipping and handling charge is $43,000,012.85 .


if you’re looking for a more cost effective solution (no WONDER you never meet anyone you lousy CHEAPSKATE!), you may be interested in TAT’s new Recognizr app for Android phones.

With Recognizr loaded, you snap a picture of your future bride and then you let the app go figure out who she is from her online presence on sites such as Facebook, Linkedin, and GetLostNerdyOne.

Recognizr’s intriguing integration of existing technologies to achieve a new result is a nice example of the “unexpected consequences” phenom .

It’s also a little troubling.

Is it really OK to snap someone’s photo and find his.her identity that way? Is it an invasion of privacy to use photo based matching?

TAT’s approach was to make sure the info can only get assembled for other users of Recognizr. Which seems fair enough to MISTER ScienceAintSoBad since, I guess, there’s a kinda “OK With Me” built into joining the club.

But it also limits the usefulness of the product unless Recognizr takes off. And, why does Mister ScienceAintSoBad think the women ShyGuy1’ll REALLY want to meet’ll be the last to join Recognizr?

Maybe we’ll be lucky though and terrorists will register with Recognizr.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 6 (which is an average of 10 for a technological tour-de-force and 2 for software that won’t change any lives)