Windows Vista is a Cutter!

Turns out, there’s an interesting—and dare I say, innovative—bug in Windows Vista’s speech generation and speech recognition software.

Seems that since the speech recognition is “speaker independent”, it will respond to indiscriminate voices and, if it recognizes commands, will follow through with them. Y’know, like half the Leather Community of San Francisco.

Anyhoo, it’s possible to make Windows Vista hurt itself:

In one scenario outlined by users an MP3 file of voice instructions was used to tell the PC to delete documents.

But Microsoft, of course, downplayed it:

[Microsoft Corp] has pointed out that in order for the flaw to be exploited the speech recognition feature would need to be activated and configured and both microphone and speakers would have to be switched on. “There are also additional barriers that would make an attack difficult” said a Microsoft security researcher.

So as long as you don’t use the highly-touted and marketed speech-recognition feature of Microsoft Vista, you’ll be fine!

Is this a joke? Wait, it is! A very, very old joke: “A man walks into a doctor and says, ‘Doc, it hurts when I do this. Doc replies: Well, don’t do that!”

Reminds me of a guy I used to work with back when I was doing Computational Biology back in Pittsburgh in 1991. He was one of the Junior IT guys and he heard my office mate (an awesome guy called Ryan) and I talking about the future of computers—wall-sized display and voice interaction. He walks by the office and said, “delete .!” I thought at the time he was being incredibly unimaginative. Turns out he was prophetic—because you can still find a DOS prompt on Windows and do a del . to your own files!

So anyway, you go out and buy that, ahem, very tony new PC so that you can have translucent windows and a 3D representation of a rolodex for your onscreen windows; you get a camera for it and a microphone (don’t they build these things into PCs yet?)—to say nothing of some kick-ass speakers to play back your ZuneTunes and the other music (the types that “Play for Sure”—and you’re all set to bark orders at your Windows Vista, but Microsoft tells you not to do that!

No solution offered, no indication that they’re working on a solution to it…just “say no”.

Well, actually, “say nothing”.

•••

In other news, Bill Gates called Apple, Inc. a liar. Even thought most Windows industry folks are saying that you need to upgrade your hardware in significant ways in order to get the “new”-fangled 3D and translucency effects in your Windows windows, Bill Gates says that Apple’s lying in this ad:

But Bill goes on:

I don’t know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don’t even get it. What are they trying to say? Does honesty matter in these things, or if you’re really cool, that means you get to be a lying person whenever you feel like it? There’s not even the slightest shred of truth to it.

First, Bill, get a sense of satire. Second, Principal Vernon, what would you know about “cool”? Besides baby-shit brown-green being the new black, of course.

And third? Pay attention to your users and care about what they need. If Apple’s superior in one way, it’s that. They pay attention to usability.

Or maybe, Bill Gates knows something about John Hodgman’s ass that the rest of us don’t?

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