Posts tagged “voice”

ChittahChattah Quickies

P&G gets innovative [Cincinnati.com] – The process behind Tide Pods includes lots and lots of research such as “talking” to 6,000 consumers. It appears this research was all done in simulated environments. I am bemused by the willing self-deception that if you put a couch in a lab, it makes the research contextual. I’d like to see P&G watching people do laundry in their real, non-idealized, messy, distracted, semi-functioning environment. Because then maybe you’d get takeaways richer than “Most laundry-doers are looking for a way to get it done faster.”

Inside the Beckett Ridge “home,” P&G researchers interviewed regular people as they sat in the comfortable couches of a mock family room or at the counter of a mock kitchen. They did the wash in a fully functioning laundry room. Through it all, they were videotaped and audiotaped, so P&G can capture how the wash gets done in a real-world setting…Back at Beckett Ridge, researchers worked on the packaging and the store display. Inside the “grocery store” with its six aisles, two checkout lanes and a self-scan lane, cameras are everywhere, recording how shoppers shop. The video feed can be streamed to any P&G Intranet site so questions and comments can be called in.

Never Too Early Movie Predictions – Sure, if we care at all, we’re still digesting the most recent Academy Awards. But forgot about 2012, this site has predictions through 2017. Sheesh, I haven’t seen any of these movies! Another moment where the corners of the Internet remind you that everyday life is filled with some genuine science fiction moments.

2015 Oscar Best Picture predictions
1. Noah
2. Citizen Hughes: The Power, The Money And The Madness
3. Churchill And Roosevelt
4. Avatar 2
5. The $700 Billion Man
6. The Color Of Lightening
7. Serena
8. Americana

Young Women Often Trendsetters in Vocal Patterns [NYT] – I had missed the original “vocal fry” hubbub a few months back, but I also enjoy how this article reframes young-female speech into a positive, leading-edge anthropological act.

Girls and women in their teens and 20s deserve credit for pioneering vocal trends and popular slang, adding that young women use these embellishments in much more sophisticated ways than people tend to realize. “A lot of these really flamboyant things you hear are cute, and girls are supposed to be cute,” said Penny Eckert, a professor of linguistics at Stanford. “But they’re not just using them because they’re girls. They’re using them to achieve some kind of interactional and stylistic end.” The latest linguistic curiosity to emerge from the petri dish of girl culture gained recognition in December, when researchers from Long Island University published a paper in The Journal of Voice. Working with what they acknowledged was a very small sample – recorded speech from 34 women ages 18 to 25 – the professors said they had found evidence of a new trend among female college students: a guttural fluttering of the vocal cords they called “vocal fry.” A classic example of vocal fry, best described as a raspy or croaking sound injected (usually) at the end of a sentence, can be heard when Mae West says, “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me,” or when Maya Rudolph mimics Maya Angelou on SNL.

Plastic Surgeons See iPhones Increase Demand for Cosmetic Procedures [Austin-Weston Center for Cosmetic Surgery] – It’s hard not to be cynical about this “press release” in which plastic surgeons tie the need for their services to a particularly hot tech brand. If you do this (the wrong way, at least) in China, you can get into trouble!

“Patients come in with their iPhones and show me how they look on [Apple’s video calling application] FaceTime,” says Dr. Sigal. “The angle at which the phone is held, with the caller looking downward into the camera, really captures any heaviness, fullness and sagging of the face and neck. People say ‘I never knew I looked like that! I need to do something!’ I’ve started calling it the ‘FaceTime Facelift’ effect. And we’ve developed procedures to specifically address it.” (via Kottke)

draw me in – Jeff Johnson’s quest to become a comic book extra. The best summary of the project – yet another example of the collapsing gulf between producer and consumer comes from this Wired article (quoted below).

Popping up in nearly 30 comic books, he has become the industry’s Waldo-a lurking stowaway who has managed to hijack the unlikeliest panels. “It’s the ultimate bragging right to go into a comic store and pick up a book you’re in,” says Johnson, a 30-year-old Kmart electronics clerk from Leavenworth, Kansas. His infamous glasses-and-goatee mug has been zombiefied (The Walking Dead), digitized (Tron: Betrayal), and placed alongside Sinestro (Green Lantern Corps), thanks to his ceaseless lobbying and the cooperation of artists. The idea sprang from a 2006 FHM contest in which entrants sent pictures of themselves in homemade costumes of villains; the winner (if you want to call it that) was drawn into Ultimate X-Men. Johnson didn’t want to dress up, so instead he handed out DrawMeIn flyers at Comic-Con, after which penciler Ryan Ottley worked him into Invincible.

Cupcake EULA


Warning Sign, Haute Pink Cakes, San Diego, CA, July 2010

The text of the sign:

IMPORTANT POLICIES!
*If cupcakes are dropped by customers it is our policy to refrost them, and place them in a new box for $1/box. That’s the cost of the box – this could take probably 15 minutes depending on how busy we are)
We do not offer new cupcakes. If you wish to purchase new cupcakes you may receive 10% off the total, but only for that visit, same order.
*Offers cannot be combined. One coupon or offer per customer per day. Military discount not to be combined with Buy One-Get One Free coupons. Coupons will not be taken for day olds.
*We do not take American Express. Also, no credit cards will be accepted for amounts under $7.00.

One has to wonder about the frequency and severity of the exceptions that led this small bakery to break from their pink/fluffy/hip/indulgent vibe with this pre-emptively admonishing lists of warnings and do-nots. The owners have failed to internalize the brand experience they are trying to create with their flagship product.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] Google Voice Now Available to Everyone in the U.S. [Fast Company] – [Spend a few minutes with this fun, fascinating, rich infographic describing A Modern History of Human Communication] Google Voice, which began as an app called GrandCentral before Google bought it back in 2007, is a difficult beast to explain. It's sort of like a phone management system–it gives users one number which, when called, rings however many devices that user wants (cellphones, landlines, work phones, whatever). It provides an alternate web-based voice mail system which transcribes voice (sometimes well, sometimes with odd and hilarious mistakes) and pops the messages into your email for listening or reading. It's also a mobile app for Android and web (that web app can be used by the iPhone and Palm's WebOS phones) that can place outgoing calls.
  • [from steve_portigal] A Moleskine Cover for your Kindle? [Design Sojourn] – [Associating your analog experience with a digital product: sometimes it evokes relevance, sometimes it screams desperation. Moleskine?] The interesting question with this Kindle cover is whether people associate the Moleskine brand with the design of its product/cover and or associate the brand with the product’s function i.e. sketchbooks? Whether this Kindle cover makes sense or not, it is always interesting to see how brands with strong design languages leverage it on product extensions. They even have a cool design justification that does make sense: "The very idea of this new cover came from the Moleskine “notebook hackers”, who create their own custom-made accessories weaving together paper pages and digital tools. Throughout the web, hundreds of communities and discussions can be found where such Moleskine “hackers” publish their inventions. Dedicated blogs, Flickr pages, and even YouTube videos highlight the power and vitality of the Moleskine digital-analog connection."

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Amazon’s Kindle app for the PC – (Is it still an app if it runs on a computer?) While it seems to be tied to the launch of Windows 7 this week, it will also run on XP, etc. The Kindle experience starts to become platform independent. So what it is? A UI? An OS? An ecosystem? Or a store?
  • Advertising – The People Spoke. In Windows 7, Microsoft Says It Listened – Microsoft asks PC users for feedback. But after the debacle with Vista, they realized that the concept of consumers as an intrinsic part of the development process could be an effective selling point for Windows 7. And so was born a campaign carrying the theme “I’m a PC and Windows 7 was my idea.”
    “Our customers co-create the product with us,” said David Webster, GM for brand and marketing strategy “We’re using the customers’ voice to tell our story.”
    In one ad, these words are superimposed over a photograph of a woman: “I asked for it to use less memory. Now it uses less memory. I’m a tech goddess.”
    In another ad, these words appear over a photo of an older man: “I suggested they make it less complicated. Guess what? Now it’s less complicated. I so rule.”
    In commercials, Microsoft engineers say, “Bring it on; what do you got?” PC users fire back with pithy phrases like “Less clutter, just less clutter.” And the engineers reply: “Loud and clear. We’re all over it.”

Snapshots of Cultural Phenomena, a blast from the past

turnsignalsman.jpg
If you recognize this little guy, you probably saw Turn Signals back when we put it out at GVO, at random times between 1995 to 2000.

I just acquired a missing issue and have updated the compilation/archive here (PDF link). Check it out! Last-century references to Grant McCracken, the inventor of ramen noodles, Don Norman, and gorillas…among others.

Turn Signals…in a time before blogging, we used to take interesting articles from the paper and photocopy ’em, highlight interesting parts and put them in each other’s mailboxes. Someone suggested we turn this into something for our clients, and so we (in conjunction with a graphic design firm) created the brand, name, identity and so on. We took stories from the press, but rewrote them in a pithy/wry voice.

In its earliest days, Turn Signals was sent out by fax. We used a fax-merge program on a Mac and it would sit and dial and redial for days upon end. We didn’t have the greatest database, ended up calling people at home in the middle of the night with a fax tone. It was not a good system, but there was something about the push, the paper version. We heard stories back bout it being posted in the bathroom or left on coffee tables. Or people would fax us back with a scribbled note, or a request to be added to the distribution. We probably had a stronger identity, visually and voice, than the company did, overall. I don’t think we ever fully leveraged that, though.

Eventually we went to PDF as an email attachment. It was opt-out, which I think went with the times, although maybe we’d want to take a different approach now.

A celebrity or personalized wake-up call for your next Hyatt stay

The Hyatt Wake-Up Call service provides Hyatt guests with the opportunity to wake up to personalized greetings from loved ones back home. For a limited time, you can also receive a celebrity greeting from Christie Brinkley. From the press release the service is designed to help frequent business travelers maintain connection with others while on the road and personalize their stay with the sound of a familiar voice in the morning.

To celebrate the launch, supermodel Christie Brinkley, well known for balancing a hectic travel schedule and life as a mom, recorded two limited-edition wake-up greetings available for download.

The direct mail piece I received today comes with 4 perforated cards that I can give to others so they can record messages for me. I can see this being a hit with families with young children, but it’s going right into the recycling for me.

The mail piece:
Family and friends can easily record wake-up calls for you
By using the enclosed cards, family members and friends can create and schedule personalized Hyatt Wake-Up Calls for your stays. The process is simple.
1. Hand out the attached Hyatt Wake-Up Call cards with unique access codes
2. Remind them when you will be at Hyatt
3. Have them call the phone number or visit the website listed on the card and follow the instructions.
4. Look forward to special wake-up messages via your cell phone

Cell phone? They can’t even integrate this into their wake-up service at the hotel? You actually don’t need this to be tied to your hotel stay to use it? You could prank call a bunch of friends, or have Christie call them. It’s masquerading as a “wake-up call” but in fact, it’s just a recorded message delivery, outside of any hotel interaction.

Lame, lame, lame.

Risks of smartass system messages

I got a 500 Internal Server Error on YouTube yesterday.

It began with the usual Web 2.0 PoMo post-ironic stuff.

Sorry, something went wrong.

A team of highly trained monkeys has been dispatched to deal with this situation.

And then what seemed to be a more serious request, complete with link

In any case, please report this incident to customer service.
Also, please include the following information in your error report:

Hmm. What do information do they want me to include?

M566Wv3PR4EcMR9a9eLGms9NQ5r30bYV6nz4j1rH-tDhYTLe_9h9DFPn-vhd
lNcw6XXxPnluW1Z3FeEjkpsEA8W9ue26uIor-q-6AJUiwkIM9X2Gpab0DatV
4qWI7wZtchM43GxVKTr4Q9oI0nd4yQzF1nPCdOKM2NrFqU2CdcQlXBII-_KZ
g5r2azifjOkEFkGS0csq1oAPl5g-v6a2yPRbT_y9BQH5bqbX7BJzc0o-mi-U
16KJSKqG-jgwfmGw3RsiMRoXM0Rmy2dz1WZLe_0UEdHtnLTptHYTI73d-9QH
BvpeXk3I5-E9QEawtA8vwR4RqWlRXc2Nl4fcuhN7nCzYn5Y3HbQ3X4ZDw3sM
xVEFjG9VR8xQk8gB4Q2CB1AHoIqaJJdp0gw1aYJTjsTgxgw9aKmfpX3ss9AE
b3z64NhBRk2O05TIeouQCcn34A1mxmRREelaQ7BudB01cQJywCpJrbkaX-bD
JOm9LI3IgUb5ZCI_PRNRkg13QALYFB9KEG0VA5WpQ-niXyV7klPZRL43vN10
PSD2kIPV_R8-qiVoZ3pBPQjb7ZyK2_eKSBfAA-2tKZ4BSfsi_MowjTjiA4Xq
56JSDndugp8A5qh57SqOlV688psc4iBYOq8gl3iSb-Hr0H41qTJUZFTD7rV5
3kPt4j1eI0Kmz0_9pib24oc6HmaEDOUxn4g_EgWttTjf9ptZAQeVFf_sIkeS
BIejqre1qaeLU9eeeZq9RICz8s4TSs3b1ZDwQ8VDeygg49jZHQK0ZdbshskV
KsCt5y-hJWw1W3C2lPBAP8aXa8BrwOqpUQuEV9GV0fb8vSXP1cuXri2VBuIR
tOA0Y-1yopGUJdYRgqIP732KjS2GzFzzBdffsSHnFYiLth11eg50kWDi-Sq-
UlyweOpjuO4IN257qYIM71VKssHLb9VNOlppuOk_ofs6VDjD0co_KcUNynS0
1nks896khINVIgI_9q353HqnlmP6UGd9viO8zjoGRruoMV_Avh3VXP_9U8Y8
s__8G46NM4Khl0W2d7I5_FYMdWjH11c36mtjbygu9M9yvXdr6rJsh-lg-aqK
w1SyOwo6VY47TS815MsP00ZtRAVxwzt2-XeFOxYHJaOA3kESIqly927Yvhcx
iiDdAAwPpS5qFJnwoNO6YXxWlpbeavzTHypL_i_vmhUP4rCrk24l4yO41LVR
kVWNYq29hvKfRQXv0TvmJetYC31dIdyl-uUiV1YE__4wYPU_9y7zjxoL_w2H
sKlc7AlSvfs0eVuxEhEtbdGF7ojesWRqrdFeZanR0YexPZKRXN_u_R4r2PTK
7ZWdpOZT2XUtyi8ETeTB1q9gksq9qv9itOpN2LXX54UMKCwiFm2zI1LUydO3
OWx_zjYun946H69BO9s1pYnIqkwLwHyE1OgDFkP8OKIN85pw6w==

Now, are they being smartass or serious? Yeah, cut and paste is cut and paste whether it’s two lines or two paragraphs, but that mass of computer gibberish is something they want me to use to communicate to a human? Strange and off-putting. Let’s put some of that Google money to work on that, folks…

Class, a number, a lizard

gecko_fanclub.gif
We recently saw an amazing production of the play A number

The dramatic premise is as deceptively simple as it is uncompromisingly topical. In five short scenes — ‘Number’ packs an astonishing amount of thought and entertainment into less than an hour — a father, Salter (Bill Smitrovich), meets with three embodiments of his son. Two, both named Bernard, are the son he fathered and the clone he raised. The other, Michael, is a stranger to him, in more ways than he can comprehend. That each is instantly recognizable as a distinct individual, despite an exact physical resemblance, is a testament to the skills of Josh Charles, who plays all three roles.

There was a Q&A afterwards where we heard about a British production (the play was originally produced in London, I believe) in which the actor playing the three different sons had more degrees of freedom in how he presented the three characters – since class can be denoted through accent in a more significant way for the Brits. It was another interesting example of small and large shifts in meaning seen from a shift in context.

Now, I noticed recently that they changed the voice actor who does the voice for the Geico gecko. He’s gone from a somewhat refined sounding English accent to a rougher Cockney (or what sounds like Cockney to me) tone. That would have significant meaning in the UK. What does it mean to us in North America? First off, it’s odd that it changed so drastically after several years of advertisements, but what are we supposed to take away from the revoicing? I honestly don’t know. Here’s what Geico’s website says

Even when the gecko becomes annoyed with people calling him at home on the phone by mistake when theyÔø?re trying to reach GEICO, he always maintains his decorum in a very proper English tone.

I think they need to update that part of their site! And there’s speculation about who the new voice actor is (described as “less posh”) here and here while others rant about the change in the character’s voice (originally Kelsey Grammer in the first ad) and purpose right out of the gate.

spamradio

Hey, if you really like spam, you can listen to it being read by a computer voice, on top of nice ambient music, at www.spamradio.com.

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