Hello Boys and Girls,
Can you imagine a world where your voicemails are automagically transcribed by a robot and sent to your email inbox?
How would you like being able to read your voicemails instead of calling in for them?
Commodore 64 back again after a short hiatus for the holidays and a whole lot of winter fun in the snow. I've also spent the last month or so trying this new service called Simulscribe. If you look closely at some Yellow Cabs in Manhattan, you'll notice some of the cabs say Simulscribe on top. They are one and the same as the company which streamlined my voicemails for the past month.
Simulscribe, from my experiences, is an awesome service for a guy like me.
I, like many other schmos, am hopelessly stuck to my PDA. I've been stuck to my PDA ever since it was just a PDA. I remember being so happy when I got my first used Palm Vx in the mail, and oh how I giggled like school child the first time I beamed something thru an infra-red port. Now the PDA in many cases is a mobile office, with Wi-fi, Bluetooth 2.0, Edge and G3 with simultaneous phone calls, E-mail, SMS, MMS, Spreadsheet, Word Processor, Slide Viewer and unfortunately Voicemail.
See the irony here kids? Voicemail is the dinosaur of communications. It is by far the slowest way I know to absorb information. And on top of that, it's just one more thing you have to "check" 5 times a day, and twice a day on weekends. And who can forget the sloooooow menu systems for checking and deleting. It seems the natural order of things that a convergence is needed. In the true spirit of useful capitalism, Simulscribe came along and saved us some aggravation.
The service works like this:
You go through a one-time setup which essentially switches your phone account from using your current voicemail system, to Simulscribe's voicemail systems. Except that Simulscribe's voicemail systems are so much better. You basically have to enter a code in the phone that you are provided when you sign-up and Simulscribe begins to intercept any of your phone calls which would normally go to voicemail. At that point their system goes to work trying to transcribe as much of the message as it can, replacing whatever it can't with question marks. It sends you this in a text message with the relevant caller-id included. It then sends an email to the account(s) of your choosing with the message as an ultra-small audio attachment.
The end result is that you never have unread voicemails hanging around your phone like before, which was an annoyance in and of itself. Another interesting observation I've made is that the Simulscribe transcription system isn't perfect - and rightfully so. With so many possible variances in voices, background noise, heavy ethnic accents it's no wonder the system often times sends it's share of question marks my way, but interestingly enough, it's good enough. The fact of the matter is, most of the time I get 2 types of phone calls: the random "hey, how's your mum call" which usually transcribes near if not perfect, and the "context call" where, even if the system doesn't transcribe certain more complex words, you can usually, purely from context, understand the gist of the call from the words the system was able to transcribe. In the end the point gets across, which was the main need I had. The annoying touch-tone voicemail system was eliminated, and was now replaced with a text message that is 90% or better more often than not. If that doesn't get the point across there's an email right behind it with the message as an ultra-compressed audio attachment. Still, no annoying touch-tone voicemail system you have to go through. Now it plays in Windows Media Player Mobile on my terms when I feel like listening, if it's even necessary in the less than 10% of cases where transcription was less than successful.
In Simulscribe's defense, most of the unsuccessful ones were from my father, whose heavy European accent would fool even a military grade transcription system. There is also a nifty online interface for managing your service options, as well as your transcribed messages. And if you are caught in an area where your PDA just isn't swingin any net, their dial-in system works from any grimy payphone you can get your hands on.
Who knows? You might actually come to miss interacting with an automated system and want to call in from time to time. Simulscribe has accomodated that as well.
All in all the service is great. I've enjoyed using it and will definitely be subscribing. The best part is that the good peeps at Simulscribe were nice enough to extend an
Free is the place for me, and aTa is the place for all kinds of cool, new free stuff.
Stay tuned kiddies, C64 is making a comeback!
Commodore64 (the one you used to play Bruce Lee on)
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