3 Talk-to-Text Apps that Get the Job Done

Mobile platforms have given way to entirely new ways to develop and make use of apps. More business professionals than ever before are relying on their smartphones to get work done while out of the office, but the functionality of the on-screen keyboard interface has some of them stumped on how to stay productive. It’s for this reason that developers have created applications designed to listen to users’ voices, and record them in text format.

Here are three of the most reliable options we know of that can turn your voice into text.

Evernote has been a major note-taking application for the Android and iOS mobile platforms, as it helps users keep track of their ideas and manage their content. It’s designed to capture and store sound bytes, which can then be converted into text format. You can keep both audio and the transcribed text file together and easily accessible. This useful option gives users an outlet to cross-check between the two to make sure that everything has been translated properly.

Other than capturing audio to text, Evernote also allows you to collect information and catalog it in a way which allows for easy searching. This gives you near-instantaneous access to your data. You can chat with collaborators using a real-time, built-in chat system, as well as share files. This provides the seamless cooperation tools that the business world needs to succeed.

Dragon Dictation
Another way to take advantage of voice-to-text integration is the #1 audio dictation software, Dragon. The app itself is quite simple; it has one button that’s used to stop and record audio. Once you’ve finished reciting what you’d like to record, the text will show up. It might be a little difficult at first, but it doesn’t take too long to accomplish. The Dragon software behind the app is renowned for having great accuracy, which will allow you to produce lengthy emails, notes, status updates, and more. You can easily copy the text and save it for later, too.

Voice Assistant
Voice Assistant is an app that has been redesigned for iOS and is now easier to use than ever before. All you need to do is switch to your preferred option, and you can convert your audio files to text with ease. Once the text file is available, you can then use the auto-copy feature to send your transcripts to apps that you use the most. This makes Voice Assistant a convenient medium that can work across platforms. It’s a great alternative to built-in voice assistants like Siri. Voice Assistant supports over 22 different languages and can integrate with many of today’s most popular apps. It can be purchased for only $0.99.

If you’re hoping to make voice-to-text dictation easier, all you need to do is consider these three options. Do you find this feature useful? If so, how do you go about turning audio files to text? Let us know in the comments.

Every Business Owner Must Understand These 4 Fundamentals of IT

It makes no difference how your business’s administrative chain of command is set up. Everyone should have a basic understanding of how your IT works, as well as its related responsibilities and functions. Here are four easy ways that you can educate yourself (and your staff) on how your IT department works, be it internal or outsourced.

Know Who to Contact for Support
You should be aware of who your point of contact is for your IT department. If you don’t, your employees probably don’t, either. Therefore, you need to lead by example and share this information with them in the event of technical difficulties. Doing so allows your team to cooperate with IT and improve operations, so that minor technology issues don’t evolve into major problems that could have a drastic effect on your working operations.

Working with Vendors
Businesses often have several vendors for each of their various hardware and software solutions, which can make dealing with them unnecessarily complicated and frustrating. You should have an understanding of who to contact within these vendors if you’re experiencing an issue with their products. Basically, by being aware of information pertaining to your organization’s relationship with its vendors, you can’t go wrong.

Basic Security Best Practices
Every single one of your employees should understand how to keep your organization’s infrastructure secure. There’s no getting around the importance of data security. Your information is sacred, to the point where your organization can hardly function without the data you collect on a daily basis. Here are three best practices that should be followed to a T:

  • Employees should use long, complex passwords.
  • Employees should use two-factor authentication.
  • Employees should be able to identify potential online scams.

Managing Laptops and Mobile Devices
If you have employees who bring their own devices to the workplace, a trend known as BYOD, then you should be taking responsibility to manage these devices. Mobile devices that haven’t been equipped with a mobile device management solution in accordance with your BYOD policy, could potentially become a liability. There needs to be oversight into how mobile devices access and use your corporate data, and to restrict the flow of data for security reasons.

This may seem like quite a lot to remember, but don’t worry; Amaxx has your back. Most of the above problems can be solved simply by having an IT technician whom you can rely on. We provide outsourced IT services, including consultation, vendor management, and mobile device management policies, all so your business can function properly without a hitch. For more information, give us a call at 614-923-6700.

Tip of the Week: 5 Tips From the 90s That You’ve Completely Forgot

The 1990s were dominated by all sorts of great technology: VHS, floppy disks, and grossly oversized computer hardware. Learning new technology shortcuts was once all the rage, but when looked at now, these tech tips are rendered obsolete. However, that doesn’t stop them from hitting us right in the nostalgia. Here are some of our favorite tech tips from the 1990s.

Keep the Phone Line Open
Do you remember the good old days of only having one phone line per household? Only one person could use the phone at a given time. This meant that people had to use their imagination to keep the phone available for an important call. For example, one way to do this was to call an automated phone service, like a local movie theater for showtimes, which would repeat itself over and over again. The idea was to wait until the phone would notify you that your call was coming in. If someone were to pick up another phone, they wouldn’t hear the dial tone, keeping your plot a secret.

Use Collect Calls for Quick Messages
In the ‘90s, collect phone calls were popularized with dozens of collect call services, like 1-800-COLLECT. These calls worked by providing a brief moment to relay your name so that the person you were calling could accept the charges. Rather than actually pay for these calls, people would simply record short messages during this brief window and hang up before the charges could be accepted. Think of it like a primitive version of text-messaging. While it may not have been the most ethical practice, it sure was convenient.

Blow On Video Game Cartridges to Make Them Work
Classic gaming consoles that used cartridges, like the Nintendo Entertainment System or the Super Nintendo, were always subject to occasional hiccups. Somehow, blowing on the game’s innards seemed like a good idea to resolve the issue. Oddly enough, most of the time it worked, even though science has proven that doing so can actually corrode the cartridge’s connectors. It’s more likely that the success wasn’t a result of blowing on the cartridge, and instead it was simply from plugging in the game a second time.

Store a Disposable Camera in Your Car’s Glove Compartment
Having a camera phone today is considered commonplace rather than a luxury. The people of the ‘90s weren’t nearly as privileged, and instead had to rely on disposable cameras in their times of need. By keeping one in your car’s glove compartment, you always had a way to record events, particularly in case of a car accident. Well… after you wait several hours for the photos to develop at the drugstore, that is.

Keep Extra AA Batteries for Your Portable CD Player
Pretty much any modern portable music device runs with a rechargeable battery. Before this innovation, however, portable CD players were all the rage, and they required that you lug around your CD collection, just to have some variety in your playlist. If you wanted to go all-in with your music-listening, you had to bring extra batteries with you, just in case your CD player ran out of battery life. How’s that for inconvenience?

While these tips might not seem so special now, for many, they are remembered fondly, and are a cause to celebrate just how far technology has come in recent times. What are some of your favorite technology tips for long-obsolete devices? Let us know in the comments.

The LG Rolling Bot Can Patrol Your Home or Office [VIDEO]

b2ap3_thumbnail_lg_rolling_bot_400.jpgConsumer technology continues to grow more versatile and connected, allowing users to perform functions previously unheard of. One such piece of consumer tech is the latest in rolling security bots, the LG Rolling Bot. Basically, what you see is what you get; it’s a rolling security robot that can be controlled remotely through a smartphone.

The LG Rolling Bot can handle many small tasks with relative ease. The Bot connects to your home or office WiFi connection, and it’s controlled via a smartphone app. The Rolling Bot is equipped with a camera that lets you see what it sees on your smartphone screen, and the Bot’s microphone lets you listen to what’s going on at home through your phone’s speakers. You can also speak through the device if you’d like, allowing you to broadcast your voice through the Bot into the room it’s in. Furthermore, the LG Rolling Bot can connect to and interact with other smart home appliances via Bluetooth. In some instances, this can work to your advantage, such as for turning off appliances or other devices that you accidentally left operational, or turning up the heat before you head home.

Another feature that you might find fun with the LG Rolling Bot is the built-in laser pointer. While this might seem like a relatively useless feature, just think of how much fun it would be to mess with your pets while you’re not home. By wirelessly monitoring your cat, dog, goldfish, or other pet, you can help keep them entertained, even while you’re not there. Using the voiceover feature can let you communicate with them even when you’re not there, which might be fun for you, but confusing for them.

You can see the LG Rolling Bot in action in this video from DigitalTrends:

Granted, if you do choose to use this device, there’s always the issue of security. Many Internet of Things devices run into the same problem. Since you’re using your home or office WiFi connection, there’s always the possibility that your LG Rolling Bot could be hacked or infected with viruses or malware. If this happens, hackers might be able to commandeer your camera and spy on you through the device. Having a toy like this get hacked might seem like it holds little consequence, but considering how it has a camera, speaker, microphone, and can control Bluetooth-enabled devices, it could be more dangerous and unsettling than you might think.

Or, worse yet, what would happen if a hacker were to take control of your device? If this happens, they could perform any of the features that you would be able to. There’s a precedent set for this type of hacking activity; there are horror stories of devices like baby monitors, garage doors, and even Internet-connected vehicles being hacked. In general, however, the Internet of Things devices most likely to get hacked are the ones of very little consequence. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take precautions when working with web-connected devices, though.

Can you think of some less conventional ways you could use the LG Rolling Bot? Let us know in the comments!

Ready or Not, Self-Driving Cars Will Soon Be On the Roads [VIDEO]

b2ap3_thumbnail_auto_driving_cars_400.jpgArtificial intelligence might be quite a ways off, but despite this, the push continues to make driverless cars a regular occurrence on the roads. Just look at how Google has its driverless cars rolling across testing grounds in Mountain View, California, and if they have their way, we might see a lot more of these vehicles hitting the roads in the near future.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Google’s self-driving vehicles can be considered a driver. According to ZDNet, Google wanted to clarify how their driverless cars could meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. In order for Google’s cars to be seen as compliant with the safety standards, all they had to do was change the position of the brake pedal and sensors, after which the vehicles were declared safe enough.

For examples of how one of these automated cars views its surroundings, watch this video:

This declaration is a huge step forward for the artificial intelligence development endeavor, but it presents an intriguing concept. Who’s to blame for an automobile accident stemming from the incompetence of a self-driving vehicle? You can’t necessarily sue a vehicle for causing an accident, unless you want to blame the manufacturer for creating a faulty product. But, what if the manufacturer simply blames the passenger because they failed to properly “set up” the vehicle? How would something like this work?

As you can probably expect, liability is a major concern for any autonomous process. With autonomous technology, though, this is a blurred grey line at best. As the feds claimed in their letter to Google, “If no human occupant of the vehicle can actually drive the vehicle, it is more reasonable to identify the ‘driver’ as whatever (as opposed to whoever) is doing the driving.” If something goes wrong, people want to find out who (or what) is at fault, and having vehicles capable of driving themselves makes it more difficult to do so.

Another huge issue is just how well Google’s autonomous cars fit into the current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. In particular, the regulations mention specific actions taken by human anatomy which describe how a motor vehicle should be controlled. As reported by WIRED:

The rule regarding the car’s braking system, for example, says it “shall be activated by means of a foot control.” The rules around headlights and turn signals refer to hands. NHTSA can easily change how it interprets those rules, but there’s no reasonable way to define Google’s software—capable as it is—as having body parts. All of which means, the feds “would need to commence a rulemaking to consider how FMVSS No. 135 [the rule governing braking] might be amended in response to ‘changed circumstances,’” the letter says. Getting an exemption to one of these rules is a long and difficult process, Walker Smith says. But “the regular rulemaking process is even more onerous.”

While liability will remain a major problem for autonomous cars, it’s still a significant step in the right direction. What this approval means is that computers can be considered humans, or at least human-like. This acknowledgement means that developers of artificially intelligent entities will have an easier time with their goals; yet, the process will still likely be filled with all sorts of legal maneuvers and such. Though Google has slated its automated cars to be available to the public by 2020, we might have to wait just a little bit longer, even for the most basic form of AI.

Would you trust an autonomous car to get you from point A to point B safely? Let us know in the comments!