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Siri and the Suspension of Disbelief

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Julian Lepinski has a thoughtful response to last week's story by Walt Mossberg on Siri's failures and inconsistencies. In particular, about the way Siri handles failed queries:

Apple’s high-level goal here should be to include responses that increase your faith in Siri’s ability to parse and respond to your question, even when that isn’t immediately possible. Google Search accomplishes this by explaining what they’re showing you, and asking you questions like “_Did you mean ‘when is the debate’?_” when they think you’ve made an error. Beyond increasing your trust in Siri, including questions like this in the responses would also generate a torrent of incredible data to help Apple tune the responses that Siri gives.

Apple has a bias towards failing silently when errors occur, which can be effective when the error rate is low. With Siri, however, this error rate is still quite high and the approach is far less appropriate. When Siri fails, there’s no path to success short of restarting and trying again (the brute force approach).

The comparison between conversational assistants and iOS' original user interface feels particularly apt. It'd be helpful to know what else to try when Siri doesn't understand a question.

→ Source: medium.com

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jbloom
251 days ago
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This is exactly how I feel. I force myself to use Siri, but I'm the 10%. Siri needs to feel more real.
Columbus, Ohio

Minecraft Coming to Oculus Rift Today

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Minecraft and VR - a pairing longed for by many. It already exists in a few mediums, but today's announcement touches on something built explicitly for Minecraft VR, more than just a port of the game into a virtual environment: Minecraft is coming to Oculus Rift, with some version-specific features that will make the game even better to play in VR!

 

What sort of features are on the table?

 

 

  • Innate keyboard and mouse support
  • VR control options for immersive comfortable turning with the Xbox One controller
  • MSAA for crisp visuals, new render distance settings that will make use of powerful VR graphics cards, and optimized Windows 10 DX11 performance
  • Even more granular customization of VR settings, so you can mix-n-match for personalized comfort

 

This is in tandem with the major VR-specific features Mojang already had working, if which there are many. One neat thing in the Oculus version is the "Virtual Livingroom," which allows players to step back from the fully-immersive experience and into a virtual armchair - a nice break if you're starting to get dizzy or strained, but want to keep mining and crafting.

 

In addition, Mojang has added all kinds of tweaks to player movement. As an example, there is a special turning mode which breaks up the smooth rotation of your camera into short, abrupt jumps. It looks strange in videos, but the improvement to players' comfort cannot be overstated, and is readily apparent while playing.

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jbloom
312 days ago
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That looks awesome!
Columbus, Ohio

Newsletters in your NewsBlur

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It’s been three years to the day that Google Reader shut down. And here’s a feature they could never build. Introducing email newsletters in your RSS reader.

You can now forward your email newsletters over to NewsBlur and then read your email newsletters right in your browser/phone/TV/tablet. A couple dozen users have been beta testing this feature for the last couple of months and everybody agrees, this feature is amazing.

Newsletters are formatted to fit all of your screens, so it looks just as good on the web as it does on your phone.

Here’s the best part. If you get a lot of newsletters, you can group them into folders and even train them to highlight the newsletters you want to read first.

Setting up newsletters on NewsBlur is easy. Just follow the personalized instructions on the web by going to Manage > Email Newsletters on either the web dashboard or the manage menu.

You might ask why not just subscribe your custom NewsBlur newsletter email address directly to the newsletter instead of forwarding copies of the newsletter. The answer is that if you want a single source of truth for where newsletters are going, you want that in your email client and not on NewsBlur. If you ever change news readers (and with new features like this, why would you want to) you’ll want to change only a single filter rule instead of dozens of newsletter emails.

And with this huge new feature, NewsBlur just became even better. NewsBlur has branched beyond RSS for a while now, fetching Twitter and YouTube stories even without RSS. With newsletters, NewsBlur becomes your single source.

If you have suggestions on what NewsBlur can help you read next, post an idea on the Get Satisfaction forums.

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samuel
358 days ago
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Keep the ideas coming. What's next, reading on a big screen perhaps?
The Haight in San Francisco
jbloom
358 days ago
Weird request, Facebook/Instagram feeds. Both may be hard with Facebook's weird stances.
hansolosays
357 days ago
nested folders would be nice? especially for newsletters
samuel
354 days ago
You can move newsletters as you please, so they work fine with nested folders. New newsletters show up in the Newsletters folder, but they don't have to stay there.
chrisrosa
347 days ago
ooo...an apple tv version would be interesting.
popular
358 days ago
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mindspillage
344 days ago
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Stuff like this makes me glad to be a paying user of NewsBlur.
Mountain View, California
jcherfas
356 days ago
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Very interesting new feature: forward newsletter to #Newsblur. Will try soon.
claudinec
356 days ago
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Wow!
Melbourne, Australia
egoexpress
357 days ago
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Awesome feature! Have beta-tested it for a while now and love it!
49.46904200,11.11430400
pfctdayelise
358 days ago
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!!
Melbourne, Australia
synapsecracklepop
358 days ago
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I was one of those happy beta testers and am LOVING IT.

I ended up simplifying my process using a "+news" alias (so I subscribe with myemail+news@mydomain.com). I set up a matching filter to forward them to my NewsBlur email. Seamless!
Atlanta
srsly
358 days ago
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Woah, this feature is actually really sweet.
Atlanta, Georgia
gradualepiphany
358 days ago
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Really nifty feature, thanks Samuel!
Los Angeles, California, USA
jbloom
358 days ago
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OH YES!!! 100% awesome!
Columbus, Ohio
sirshannon
358 days ago
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There it is! Samuel dropped a hint yesterday, I was hoping it was something like this. I like that it is implemented in a way that doesn't just take over all responsibility for the newsletters.
economyaki
358 days ago
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whoa
nyc
lelandpaul
358 days ago
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Whaaa - truly a killer feature I didn't even know I needed
San Francisco, CA
adamcole
358 days ago
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Oy, this is awesome.
Philadelphia, PA, USA
hansolosays
358 days ago
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AWESOME!
Norfolk, Virginia
jqlive
358 days ago
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Thank you!
Beijing/Hong Kong
chrisrosa
358 days ago
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wow...this is great news.
San Francisco, CA
mlupo
358 days ago
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My inbox thanks you!
Canada
drchuck
358 days ago
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This is great for sites that offer a newsletter, but no RSS feed. Well done!
Long Island, NY
redheadedfemme
358 days ago
Cool! Thank you, Samuel. NewsBlur is the best money I ever spent.

Evernote's new CEO on the company's critics: 'I love to be underestimated'

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By any standard, the past year has been hard on Evernote. Phil Libin, who led the company to 100 million registered users and a $1 billion valuation, abruptly quit the CEO post last July, triggering an exodus of top executives who had led the company since 2007. Complaints about the increasingly bloated core product mounted, just as the bottom began to drop out of the market for consumer productivity software. Soon, some critics were calling Evernote "the first dead unicorn," using the Silicon Valley term for startups valued at $1 billion or more.

Into this mix came Chris O'Neill, who previously spent a decade at Google. He once served as the managing director of the company's business in Canada, and later ran the business side of...

Continue reading…

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Belfong
406 days ago
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I still don't get much of what's Evernote's future is..
malaysia
sirshannon
406 days ago
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Too late for me. I'm back on OneNote.
wreichard
406 days ago
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I used Evernote pretty steadily for about eight years. I finally managed to break the habit this year. They'll have a very hard time winning me back, but who knows?
Earth
superiphi
406 days ago
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I never fully got into it and yet got a paid account
Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom
jbloom
416 days ago
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I liked this. I use Evernote still on a daily basis and glad to see they are working on it.
Columbus, Ohio

Launch Day: Introducing the UpGrade™ System for Schools

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When we decided to set the world in motion by introducing the Level® last year, we were thrilled that so many people joined us in our mission. We are now just as excited to announce the Kickstarter launch of the UpGrade™, an immediate solution to help change the way kids participate in a classroom setting.

The UpGrade™ System—comprising an adjustable height desk and three Grade™ decks—is a stand-alone learning station that lets teachers easily transform their classrooms into active learning spaces. Perfect for small groups or independent work, the UpGrade is now available for pre-order on Kickstarter. We are also excited to introduce the Office UpGrade™ System—a great way to add movement for those of us no longer in school. Because our supporters were so instrumental in bringing the Level to market in January 2015, we have decided to turn to the crowdfunding model once again to build our movement. 

If you would like to add movement to your classroom or office, to your child’s homework time, or to a classroom associated with StandUpKids.org, please show your support by donating to or sharing our Kickstarter campaign. Thank you for joining us on our mission to help the world keep moving!

#KeepMoving
The FluidStance Team



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jbloom
423 days ago
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Have been using my Level for about a year and love it. Am way more productive. Can't wait to see the results of this!
Columbus, Ohio

Time Travel Subway Car

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An elaborate time travel prank on a New York City subway car with four sets of identical twins!

(View on YouTube) | Subscribe to us on YouTube
Created and Directed by Charlie Todd / Produced by by: Deverge / Music by Tyler Walker

For our latest mission, we staged an elaborate time travel prank on a New York City subway car with four sets of identical twins. A man enters a subway car and announces he is raising money to complete his time machine. At the next stop, his future self enters to try to talk him out of it. More and more time travelers convene on the subway car as the train rolls along, surprising the random commuters caught up in the middle.

Enjoy the video first and then go behind the scenes with our mission report and photos.

CREDITS
Created and Directed by: Charlie Todd
Executive Producers: Charlie Todd, Andrew Soltys, Alan Aisenberg, Juan Cocuy, Justin Ayers
Produced by: Andrew Soltys
Co-Producer: Aleks Arcabascio
Director of Photography: Justin Ayers
Hidden Camera: Kraig Adams
Camera Operators: Justin Ayers, Christian Mortensen, Keith Haskel
Still Photography: Arin Sang-urai (photo credit for all photos on this page)
Production Assistant: Tyler Orr
Editor: Matt Braunsdorf
DIT: Brian Morrissey
Music: Tyler Walker
Starring: David Rosenberg & Jeff Rosenberg (inventor), Gwen Petry & Emily Petry (couple), Paul Herbig & Michael Herbig (couple), Michael Hughes and Matthew Hughes (final guy)

This project is our third with identical twins. In 2008 we put 15 pairs of identical twins on a subway car sitting across from each other, dressed identically. In 2013 we used two pairs of twins for a Back to the Future-themed prank. This project was a bit of a mix of the two.

We started off the day at Deverge’s studio rehearsing in a mock subway car. Most of the twins had some experience acting, but not all of them. I don’t think any of them had experience acting on a live subway car. As this would be an unauthorized performance, I had to prepare them to be ready for anything. We went over the script outline and the choreography of which stop each performer would enter, where they would sit, etc.

Agent Dave Rosenberg was the first to enter, as the panhandling time machine inventor. He got the car’s attention with his pitch, “Ladies and gentlemen, I am sorry to bother you, but I’m here today raising money for my time machine. Traditional funding methods have not worked. My Kickstarter failed. Any money you could can give will help.”

Almost immediately a man gave him $5. I guess he thought it was a funny pitch? Sadly this guy left at the next stop, so he never got to see what happened.

At the next stop, Agent Jeff Rosenberg entered and gets the car’s attention, “Wait! Stop! Ladies and gentlemen, please do not give this man any money! Do not let him finish his time machine! Our life turns out to be terrible once you start time traveling!” He approaches his brother and grabs him, “Look at me! I’m you, from the future! You have to believe me.”

Unlike our Human Mirror project, we didn’t have the twins dress identically. Instead, we had them dress in a similar style and gave them each one specific identical props. Dave wore a brand new Mets cap while Jeff wore the same cap, which was made to look older and dirtier. Jeff also happened to have longer hair and a beard, and we told him to keep the look, as it also implies time passing.

A couple on the train laughed and tried to give Dave money as Jeff pleaded with them not too.

Then the doors opened at the next stop the future versions of the couple boarded the train. They plead with themselves, “Wait, do NOT give this man money! Our lives are a disaster in the future! Time travel ruins our entire lives!”

Another guy on the train is laughing hysterically at the scene, and speaks up, “This is hilarious. They’re twins!”

At the next stop that guy’s future self enters and rushes to find him, “They aren’t twins! It’s real! This is not a prank. Do not give this man money!” The appearance of the fourth twin got the biggest reaction, as passengers were paying close attention to what was going by that point. Everyone was laughing and smiling at the absurdity.

Eventually the original panhandler is convinced that time travel is not a good idea. “You know what, you guys have convinced me. I WON’T build the time machine after all.” Everyone involved, and a few subway passengers, burst into applause. The future twins then stood around awkwardly trying to figure out what was going to happen to them. “Wait, shouldn’t we disappear if he’s not going to build it?”

We staged the scene five times total, all on the N train. We took a break in between each staging so the crowd on the car would turn over. The audience for this one was particularly small. Unlike other subway pranks that might get an entire car involved, this one was hyper-focused on the people who happened to be sitting and standing around our playing space. In most performances, it felt like a surprise for just ten people. I love creating something so ridiculously elaborate (four pairs of twins, perfectly timed staggered entrances on the train) for the benefit of so few people. Though with our video, we hope many more around the world will enjoy it.

Mission Accomplished


OTHER RESOURCES:

Production photos from photographer Arin Sang-urai: Mission Photos

If this is your first time here:
-our over 100 other missions can be seen here: Missions
-sign up for our RSS feed and Newsletter
-Subscribe to our YouTube channel, twitter, and Facebook page.

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jbloom
464 days ago
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Great Scott! That is heavy!
Columbus, Ohio
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