Converse with your computer even when not at work

Posted on August 13, 2001

Just like any insane person, I do a fair share of talking to my computer. Amazingly enough, it never seems to talk back, even after the constant urging to get something done or to stop crashing.

Now there might be a reason to talk to your computer and actually get a response. According to, IBM on Wednesday released a voice toolkit that will allow developers a change to make applications accessible and programmable via the phone and other mobile devices. The program uses VoiceXML , which allows Web access through the phone, and has been released under Big Blue's .

Being able to talk to your computer isn't necessarily a new thing. Digital: Convergence, a Belo partner, came out with a way for your TV to talk to your computer . Voice-activated computers are being used in many different areas of society, from students who are unable to use a keyboard or mouse to doctors who need to keep their hands free for surgery to voice recognition systems for logging in to your computer.

But in my opinion, being able to talk through a different device to complete tasks on a computer takes it one step further. Let's say you forget to do something at work, like, um, send a virus to your address book. With this new technology, you can do it from your phone! There are many other useful implications as well, especially if you don't feel like going back into work after you left for the weekend.

Of course, if you don't already have this feature up and running yet, or you would rather listen to your computer talk back to you, that's a simple thing to accomplish as well. Newer Macs are equipped with the speech function, in which you can get your computer to say things like, "It's not my fault," "Stop yelling at me" and "Hello? Is it me you're looking for?" This came in handy when a friend and I decided to play a prank on a co-worker. He had been demanding too much out of his computer and frequently hit it with a ruler. I'm actually being serious. So we called him from another phone, and using the speech function, we had another computer say to him, "Hello. This is your computer. I'm tired of you yelling at me. From now on, you will call me one thing only, and that is master." During the whole thing, he was asking the computer if it was a joke. He calmed down some but eventually reverted to his antics.

Keep your ears open for the newest features for your machine, if manipulating your computer from home is something you want to do. Your friends might think you are insane when they call and you say, "Can I call you back? I'm talking to my computer." Don't worry, they already think you are insane.