Saturday, June 8, 2013

Google's Conversational Voice Search Comes to Chrome

The latest release of Chrome (27), now available for download, adds Google's conversational voice search for Star Trek-style voice searching.

We're still exploring all the things it can do, but we've talked about some of it before, when Google announced it at I/O. It can understand where you are, look up events on your calendar, and even understand context—so if you ask it "Who is the president of the United States?" it'll answer Barack Obama, after which you can ask "How tall is he?" and it will understand who you're talking about.

The service isn't fully fleshed out yet, though. You can't start searches by saying "Google" just yet, and some other demoed features may not work, but much of it is up and running. If you're using Chrome, update your software and head to to check it out.

Google Now style voice search now live in Chrome stable channel | Android Central

Wait to Receive Something You Buy and You'll Actually Like It More

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pico de gallo

IMG_9981.JPGPico de gallo is quick and easy to make at home, and it's fantastic made a few hours ahead of time. I often make it to go with tacos - today I made it with my chickpea tacos. This pico de gallo recipe isn't the most exact as far as measurements go, but I'll share some of my basic pico de gallo rules. :D

Ingredients: equal amount of tomatoes and white onionscouple cloves of garlica jalapeno or serranoa handful of cilantro - no stems!pinch of saltsqueeze of lemon or lime
After eating at quite a few Mexican restaurants here in Oakland, and experimenting with making salsas and pico at home on my own, I've decided that having equal amounts of tomatoes and onions work the best. I also love sweeter tomatoes in this - I tend to use grape or cherry. :)

Make sure you're using a white onion - yellow onions are too mild and sweet.

Method: Dice the onion finely.Pierce the tomatoes with a sharp knife and squeeze out the seeds and excess juice.Chop the tomatoes so they match the size of the onions.Mince your garlic and pepper of choice.Place everything in a bowl and mix in a generous pinch of salt.Add lemon juice and chopped cilantro to taste.Keep tasting and add until you love it!
I never add any crazy additional spices to mine - it's good as-is! I use lemon here instead of lime because I think the pico is sweet enough thanks to the tomatoes. The lemon adds a nice sour/sharp note. :) Just use whichever citrus you like more!

Also keep in mind that while it's best made in advance, the salt we added will cause lots of liquid to come out of the tomatoes and onions. You might want to drain it a little if you'll be using it on tacos.

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Physical Reconfiguration of Digital Anatomy

First, insert an image (Figure 1) into Rhino using the "picture frame" command.  This will result in an image that is able to be moved and scaled.  (Figure 2)

Use "control point curve" to draw a line around the object you wish to make 3D, in my case it was my heart and aorta.  (Figure 3)  It is important to turn Osnaps off for this, so that the line will be on one plane and not snap elsewhere where you don't want it.  Use the "patch" command to create a surface from the closed line, and then use "extrude surface" to create an extension that can hold volume.  (Figure 4)  Make sure that 'cap' is selected, so that the extruded ends are capped and the figure is solid.  

Insert another image, with the same "picture frame" command.  This image should be another view of the same object.  For example, if the first image was of the front of the object, the second image should be of the side of the object.  Rotate the second image 45 degrees.  (Image 5)

Perform the same process on the second image: control point curve, patch, extrude surface.  You now have two solid objects.  (Image 6)  Depending on where you place the second image, the tracing line may or may not be directly on the image.  If it is not, the process works just as well.  However, for patch to work correctly, make sure that the line is not curved through multiple coordinate planes.  

Arrange these two objects so that they intersect one another.  (Image 7)  

Use "Boolean2Objects" and select 'intersection.'  This should result in a three-dimensional object that is roughly the shape of your desired piece.  (Image 8)

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Confront Your Biases to See the World from Another Point of View

David Foster Wallace's commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon college has gone down as one of the better pieces of life advice out there. His suggestion is pretty simple: when you're annoyed with another person, think about why you would do what they're doing.

Of course, this is easier said than done. We have all kinds of biases that prevent us from seeing another person's point of view. One of the problems is our bias blind spot that suggests we can't really compensate for our own biases because we don't believe we have them. As Wallace suggests, the best thing you can do is try to think about how you think. Scientific American has another similar approach:

Mindfulness, in contrast, involves observing without questioning. If the takeaway from research on cognitive biases is not simply that thinking errors exist but the belief that we are immune from them, then the virtue of mindfulness is pausing to observe this convoluted process in a non-evaluative way. We spend a lot of energy protecting our egos instead of considering our faults. Mindfulness may help reverse this.

It's not easy, but choosing to think a different way can make plenty of life's annoyances less frustrating. You can read Wallace's full speech here.

This is Water | Vimeo

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