Lest anyone suspect me of being a luddite, I’m not - I love technology. But this is another example of how technology sometimes just isn’t ready for prime time yet. Vonage (which provides my home office phone service) has a visual voicemail service that they’re desperate for me to sign up for, and so they’ve given me a 10-message free trial. Visual voicemail in this case means they have a piece of software from SimulScribe which translates the message from speech to text. I got one message this way yesterday, which was largely fine (except for the name of the VoiceCon conference, which got translated as boys foam - it doesn’t seem to do well with proper names). Anyway, today I got another message through the miracle of speech to text and it was as follows (any personally identifying information removed):
“Hi, yeah [should have been my name, Jan, which is pronounced closer to the American yawn than yeah]. This is [name of PR person, correctly transcribed] calling [word "from" omitted] [name of PR company, correctly transcribed]. I just wanted to follow-up with you I see that your [SpinVox is apparently not using any kind of grammar checker] going to CTIA. I wanted to know if you were interested in meeting with (Pittny Boost muffin?) [my favorite mistake - this should have been Pitney Bowes Mapinfo] so dayview [should have been they do] locations, intelligence, solution [location intelligence solutions] for the communications industry. I did send a an e-mail last week and I just wanted to follow-up on that to see if you were interested in meeting with (Porshe Cherry?[Chris Cherry, from what I can tell - this was in fairness pretty garbled on the audio]) from (Pittny Boost muffin?) so my phone number is 555-555-5555 it’s said CTIA 2008 (Pittny Boost muffin?) so in subject (fine?) [it said CTIA 2008 Pitney Bowes Mapinfo in the subject line] and I look forward to speaking with you. Thanks. Bye. “
Cleverly, the software does leave out any ums, ahs, and ers, of which there were a fair few in this message, and it flags the things it’s not sure about with parentheses and a question mark. Now, even with all these crazy screw-ups, it’s still comprehensible (although I might have had to listen to figure out the name of the company if the PR person hadn’t indeed previously sent me an email). I’m tempted to subscribe to the service just to add some more fun to my day - perhaps they do this on purpose for just that reason?