Saturday, May 20, 2017

Ms. Robo Sexy Calling!

I had a strange incident happen to me this morning. I received a call from a robot! Seriously. Not only received a call from it, I engaged in conversation with it. The disquieting fact is that it took me at least 3-4 minutes to figure that out.

Here's how it goes in case you get one. Your phone rings; you pick it up and say hello. That initiates the robocaller--in my case, a female voice so melodic, so sweet, so sexy you do not want to hang up on her even if you are on the National Do Not Call Registry, and you have to be a damned fool not to be. The voice is nearly perfect--you do not recognize it as a robocall.

Sales calls irritate the living bejesus out of me because the callers know it is against the law to call you if you are on the registry, but lately--over the past year or so--these yahoos have been freely calling whoever they damned well please. One trick they use--and I do not understand how--is to show a number on your caller ID that, if you call it, gives you a message that the number is no longer in service. Someone told me you can arrange service with the phone company to have a phone that you can call out on but no one can call you using it?

If you are lucky, and if you bring their transgression to their attention politely, sometimes they are civil, will actually apologize, and say, sincerely, "Oh, I am so sorry. I will remove your name from our call list immediately." That courteous apology may occur about one-third of the time. (Even then you receive the same phone call a few days later from the same company.)

The other two-thirds of the offenders angrily express to me their irritation at my even bringing the point up about the registry, and in language I cannot provide in this article--crude to the extreme--cursing me out roundly and stridently for being so rude as to interrupt their sales call! I, being me, give it and more back to them before they hang up.

However, I once had this bloke remain on the line, and continue cussing me out in the most loathsome manner, astonishingly all the while using the foulest of foul language--even after I tersely reminded him I was on the registry of people not to call. I was able, due to my many years in the Marine Corps, and having served a few months aboard U. S. Navy vessels, to at least retort with equally profane words, some of which I hadn't used in years.

Finally, this interloper issued a nonstop blue streak of profanity, then hung up. I think I may have been tied with him in vulgarity to that point. However, that final outburst, for which I had no recourse due to his terminating our dialogue so abruptly, may have given him the right to crow in his office (he was loud enough that surely everyone there heard our conversation--at least his end of it.) and run around the room receiving high fives from all.

But back to my sweet little robocaller with the sexy voice. When I answered hello, there was a slight pause. I guess Ms. Robo Sexy was computing my speech. Then there is Ms. Robo Sexy saying my name, asking how I am doing this morning, and asking if I would be interested in a free gift.

(I will bet if my voice was feminine, Ms. Robo Sexy would be programmed to say "Mrs. Whomever." But, if I were a female, the marketing people would undoubtedly change the robocall voice to that of a deep-throated man such as Isaac Hayes. They are that clever. Imagine that ladies. You are half-asleep, heading to the kitchen for that second cup of coffee when the phone rings. You pick it up and say, "Hello?" Suddenly, the Theme from Shaft comes through your earpiece, and shortly thereafter an Isaac Hayes-like voice begins talking to you, asking how you are this morning, and if you'd like a free gift? My guess? There would be an abrupt readjustment of those bikini undergarments you are wearing! I'm just sayin'... )

In my case, "she" did not allow me the opportunity to respond yes or no as to whether or not I wanted a free gift--she was into her sales pitch without hesitation. The small favor they were asking was that if I would let them place a little blue sign in my yard advertising their product, I would get the free security system--or whatever it was they were peddling. I chuckled and told her I didn't have a yard of my own per se--I live in a condo and own an undivided interest equal to 1/62nd of all the "yard," or rather my owner does.

The computer program (Ms. Robo Sexy) picked up on the word condo immediately and the tone changed. The programmers haven't perfected termination of the call too well because near the end, when I did not qualify for the free gift, you could tell it was a robocall--there was a hint of the machine dialect you hear in Sci-Fi movies or TV programs about outer space when computers are communicating in voice mode. Abruptly, Ms. Robo Sexy was noticeably less sexy, considerably more interested in concluding the call. The difference in the voice was not overly apparent, but it was perceptible that it was a recorded call computerized to deal with whatever input it was given--that tell-take delay in such voice communications with computers.

Based on my responses, the computer program had alternatives--maybe thousands of them, possibly millions, depending on what I answered to Ms. Robo Sexy's questions. At the word "condo," it switched emphasis from having me agree to accept a gift to a tact of ending our conversation--politely, but quickly. The programmers knew full well that a condo owner cannot place signs on association property, not even real estate signs in most cases. Their program reflected that.

I have not given you the full range of the dialogue, which was more extensive and fast-flowing--from Ms. Robo Sexy's perspective. It was a cleverly constructed sales pitch, except a human sales person was not presenting it. No matter. It was effective to a degree, and it took me awhile to catch on.

Now, put yourself in my shoes. You were just working on that second cup of coffee--meaning not yet fully awake. You suddenly realize that you have been carrying on a conversation with a robot for three to four minutes, answering questions, making declarative statements, being polite--and, yes, enjoying the alluring, melodious, siren-like voice of Ms. Robo Sexy in your ear. Who wouldn't, if male? Now if that doesn't make you feel foolish, what does?

My question: Have we gone too far--or will computers/robots inevitably take over our lives someday? This experience makes me wonder if that day is not already here!

The future will look futuristic only because we will be trying to make it look futuristic. ~Anonymous

By Major Dennis Copson

Major Dennis Copson is a retired United States Marine and is a resident of Oceanside, California. He is a freelance writer and editor.

He may be reached at

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Telerobotics Vs Telepresence....What Is The Difference?

Telerobotics (TR) is a word you may have heard before but it may not be one that produces a clear definition in your mind. The issue isn't your brain, it is the fact that the term is often misused in the mainstream media and by non-technical professionals. While "telerobotics" and "telepresence" are often used interchangeably (they are related concepts), the differences are worth explaining. In this first article, we are going to clear up some of the misconceptions and get a look at what, exactly, these two things really are before we wade into the ways in which these will affect the security/surveillance markets.

Telerobotics is often confused with the idea of Telepresence (TP). Both have a role to play in shaping the way that future security systems will act. So, what is the difference between telepresence and telerobotics?

Telepresence allows you to feel like you are in a remote location without actually being in a remote location. Currently, it's about pumping the highest resolution video and audio to the remote viewer in order to simulate the environment in which the sensing/recording equipment have been placed. This type of solution is going to be focused on improving what the camera and microphone can detect as well as bandwidth utilization. Some common examples of consumer tools include Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangouts.

These are all essentially telepresence applications that can be used from your computer or cell phone. Other than the focus on real-time interaction, this is effectively the current state of the surveillance industry. The video and audio feeds are as real time as possible and an individual can theoretically monitor those feeds from anywhere. This likely means that future applications in security for telepresence may be more about access control or real-time interactions in areas too dangerous/sensitive to host humans.

Telerobotics takes the idea from telepresence one step further. If TP is a remote set of eye and ears, TR is eyes, ears, hands and feet. It allows you to not only see/hear the location and interact via 2-way audio but also to interact physically with objects in the remote location and to navigate the TR hardware around the remote space. This capability could radically alter the way surveillance and security are done.

A telerobotics system could be set up to open doors, physically interact with people or even pull a fire alarm if the situation calls for it. It could also be used to greet guests to the facility or any of a very wide set of tasks that would normally require a human being to be in a specific location. No more having views locked to the focal points of a set of cameras and wondering what is happening just out of shot. With TR, the operator can navigate the hardware anywhere in the facility providing exactly the view needed on any desired location without the need for a bank of cameras. For now, the physical limitations of these systems would be the same as most 'remote' technologies. Bandwidth between controller and TR setup, the need to maintain the remote hardware/software and considerations tied to getting a TR setup back in operation should it encounter a significant problem while remote are all considerations that will impact anyone using TR for security.

So now that you have a better idea of the difference between the two ideas/terms, let's get to the big questions. Is this technology poised to radically change the face of corporate security? How might it do that? When could we possibly expect to see the effects?

We will look at these issues more in depth in the future pieces in this series. Stay on the look-out for the next segment in this series to learn more about these two technologies...

For the next segment in this series to learn more about these two technologies visit - | Follow us: @vmstodaynews on Twitter

By Alberto Breton

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Internet of Things "Those Who Are Most Adaptive to Change Stand the Greatest Chance of Survival"

You may have heard the term 'The Internet of Things' flying around. This refers to the advancements in technology which have enabled us to make connections and exchange data through a multitude of electronic devices that we carry with us daily, or that sit within our homes and offices.

Though, is the Internet of things just a buzz phrase? Was it created so that tech companies could sell more products? The answer is no. This is an expression coined to describe a true phenomenon that has captivated consumers across the globe. The digital revolution is here; the world is changing.

People live and breathe technology in their everyday lives. From the minute we wake we are absorbed by the latest social media posts on our Smartphones; when we go for a run we use our health tracker to tell us when to take breaks and when to work harder; some of us even use our phone to boil the kettle for our afternoon tea, before signalling to our Wi-Fi fridge that the milk is running low. The human race is becoming obsessed by technology as a way to enhance enjoyment and make our lives easier.

Let's take the 'Nest' home thermostat as an example. This appliance connects to your phone which allows you to control your heating from anywhere, inside and outside of the house. However, more impressively, it links to the 'Nest Carbon Monoxide' sensor and automatically switches off your boiler if an unsafe smell is detected. This in turn, signals your Smart light bulbs to flash a bright colour when there's a possible safety problem in your home. The Nest can also prompt your washing machine to begin a cycle when your home's energy consumption is low; it can tell your fridge to witch to low energy mode when everyone is out of the house. Not only that, the Nest is capable of learning your behaviours. By connecting to your car, a signal will be sent to the thermostat when you leave or are returning home. It then learns this pattern of behaviour and will teach itself when the heating needs to be turned off and on. Very clever gadgetry.

In a world that is changing and being consumed by the digital age, it's important that businesses move with the times and take advantage of the new technology out there. Our way of living is advancing, and technology will soon start to propel at such an accelerated speed that the world as we know it will change completely.

"Today is the slowest rate of change we will ever experience. And those who are the most adaptive to change stand the greatest chance of survival."
- Jonathan Macdonald, The Next Web, Speaker

Clearly, buying Wi-Fi fridges for your offices would not be cost effective. But there are many digital products on the market which are helping businesses to work smarter.

An issue that is becoming more prominent in the world of business is security. Due to our lives revolving around the internet, it has become much easier for a person to hack into our data through emails, low-level storage sites like Dropbox or files sent online. This worry can be easily alleviated through digital products such as McAfee, a malware and security service; or Box, an online storage platform which allows you to send files and collaborate over a secure network. Box was actually so secure that the experts at McAfee couldn't hack it when trying for 8 months!

Another product that is revolutionising the way that employees and customers collaborate, video call and share emails/calendars is Office 365. This add-on service enables businesses to co-edit internal documents with the Microsoft package and can be integrated with Box for high security file sharing.

If you're looking for a more niche digital solution, there are services such as Windows Intune available which lets companies manage all of their business devices from one portal: laptops, iPads, phones etc. Or O2 Just Call me which saves employees a lot of time when organising conference calls.

With this in mind, 'The Internet of Things' doesn't only benefit consumers. Digital products are innovating the way that businesses work. They are available on a per license basis from telecommunication providers, which gives companies the perfect opportunity to trial digital services at a low cost.

Join the digital revolution and help your business work efficiently and grow. Don't let the consumers have all the fun!

Digital services to help businesses work smarter are available on a per license basis from Welcomm Communications, which gives companies the perfect opportunity to trial them at a low cost. To learn more about the services available from Welcomm, call 0800 064 64 64.

By Keegan Stanton

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Slow Computer Fixing Techniques For Non-Techies

A new computer is fast, smooth and performs actions within seconds. However, as the time goes, it turns just the opposite and starts working slowly. As a result, programs take hours to respond and when they do, they run too slowly. So, how to get back the magic of a fast PC? Check out some cool alternatives below.

Tips to help a slow running computer

1. Reboot: Try turning the system off and on again. Reboot fixes the issues of a slow computer. Though results are not assured, still you can consider giving it a try.

2. Check for viruses and malware: Scanning the computer for malware and viruses is a very good step. This is because malware takes up the memory; thereby, making the system slow. Other harmful actions possible are corrupting applications, wiping critical files and causing real damage over time. Check if the PC runs on automatically scheduled antivirus scan.

3. Check the hard drive: While checking the hard drive, if you find just a few megabytes of storage space left or repetitive warnings about running out of drive space, it's time for some action. Empty the recycle bin, uninstall useless programs and delete temp files.

4. Check the running software: One of the most significant reasons behind a computer running slow is that it may be loaded with bloat ware applications from third-party vendors. These are the programs that run in the background and are useless eating out the system resources. In such condition, check the startup menu and uninstall the software you don't require.

5. Add more memory: This is a very good way to fix a slow computer. However, this is a time taking process and expensive as well. If you are not well-versed with technical knowledge, it's good to visit the professionals. As PC is a fragile device, don't try applying useless efforts, as it will break the system entirely.

6. Defrag the drive: Excessive usage leads to fragmentation of hard drive leading to a system that runs slow. To fix this bug, run defrag overnight in order to clean up the drive. Make sure avoid using the system for a few hours.

7. Get AOL computer checkup: If every attempt fails, it is good to go for AOL computer checkup. This will speed up the slow machine, clean up the unwanted files, automates disk defrag and optimizes the system's performance.

Try these useful tips and make your machine work the way you want it to. If you lack the needed knowledge and tool, call the technicians for immediate help.

Steve Smith has been in writing industry since years. He has detailed knowledge about technical glitches such as email set up, computer running slow, virus removal, blue screen of death and so on. Read his articles to know more about resolving technical glitches.

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Saturday, May 06, 2017

Key Pointers That Explain The Utility of Mobile ERP Solutions

Mobile apps have become a core marketing tool for every business which, greatly help in customer engagement. However, apart from tapping the ever-growing smartphone audience, apps can help an organisation to improve its level of productivity and efficiency. With mobile applications, businesses are altogether stepping into a new era of more streamlined work process and getting things done more faster and quicker as well.

Adhering this fact, this article will unfold the benefit of incorporating mobility in boosting the level of productivity of a business.

Mobile ERP for Supply Chain Management....
The process of Supply Chain Management comprises of logistics, warehousing and distribution of the manufactured goods after completion of the entire manufacturing process. This stage calls the need for ERP systems for various crucial activities like Inventory planning, Distribution Management and Batch Management which, certainly becomes more effective by mobilising them.

Mobile ERP Systems for the Production Process....
Though production of physical goods is quite different from manufacturing a software product, however, product cycles come with a specified cycle time right from the very scratch to the last execution step. Thus, it becomes quite daunting to coordinate among the various associated teams to make the entire task simple. However, implementation of mobility solutions for project management and production control practices can work effectively for entrepreneurs. With the help of mobile apps, businesses will succeed in facilitating better resource planning, thereby reducing the production costs and cycle time as well.

Mobile ERP Solutions for Administrative Management....
Big organisations mostly deal with a large number of employees and wide-scale operations. Major work operations like HR and Finance leads to wastage of money when mismanaged. Moreover, when the business gets operated across several geographies, costs related to these operations become more expensive. Furthermore, issues related to miscommunication, fund mismanagement and lack of centralised supervision end up in making the process tougher. By introducing Mobile ERP solutions, which mostly come either in a two-tier or three-tier architecture entrepreneurs can make the administrative functions like management of employee attendance and grievances more simple and effective. These Mobile ERP Solutions play an integral role in improving the administrative process thereby, boosting the level of employee satisfaction as well.

Final Word....
With highly accessible and convenient mobile ERP solutions, entrepreneurs can level up the business productivity and improve work standards as well. With every other entrepreneur trying to hold an edge in this competitive business world, mobile apps serve as the boon for businesses to drive more feasibility to the work process and maximize revenue.

By Rob Stephen

Rob Stephen is one of the most skilled mobile app developers of GetAProgrammer who is keen and passionate to discuss on the latest enhancements experienced by the domain of mobile app development.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Artificial Intelligent Assistant Devices - And Future Big Government Surveillance

Today, people are debating who has the best artificial intelligent assistant. Is it Apple with Siri, Amazon with Alexa, or Google with Google Assistant (keep it simple, I guess)? Tomorrow however, the debate will not be who has the best artificial intelligent assistant, but rather which one spies on our privacy the least. Which ones are listening to our conversations in the background all the time, which ones use that information to better serve us, and which ones keep a record of all that was said? Yes, spooky isn't it. Of course, in the future there will mostly likely be no false belief that privacy exists - something that makes us baby boomers cringe.

These AI assistants do need to learn from customer input how to answer all the questions and which types of questions they will be most likely asked - through this artificial intelligence learning, they get better, thus, more valuable to us and our endeavors - at some point they will be so valuable we won't care that we are giving up our privacy - or will we? Ah ha, now I got you thinking. How soon will all this take place? Well, I'd say it is slowing happening right now, and if you are paying attention, I bet you'd be a little more alarmed at just how fast it is happening. In other words here is what I have to say: Tomorrow is becoming today and once it is here, it's here to stay.

There was a rather telling article in CNET titled; "Police Request Echo Recordings," written by Alfred Ng and published on December 27, 2016. This article stated:

"You have the right to remain silent -- but your smart devices might not. Amazon's Echo and Echo Dot are in millions of homes now, with holiday sales more than quadrupling from 2015. Always listening for its wake word, the breakthrough smart speakers boast seven microphones waiting to take and record your commands."

Interestingly enough, a technology that can prove guilt, can also prove innocents, which is a fact I was reminded recently as I sat on Jury Duty. If we ever do get to Vannevar Bush's concept of "recording a life" from cradle to grave; every song you heard, ever movie you watched, every sport you played, ever book you read, every place you went, every word you spoke - all recorded from the time you are born until the time you die - again a little spooky, but you can see we are almost there.

Just like Santa Claus, these devices will; Know when you've been good or bad, so be good for goodness sake!" What about the other verse of note: You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Pout, I Am Telling You Why! Okay so, think on that, and remember Be Great, Don't Hesitate!

By Lance Winslow

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