OK I integrated a homework assignment into Charlie over the weekend and I can tell you one thing - reading the weather information from an xml file and translating it into a readable format for the end user is a pain in the **********. I'm not finished with the assignment yet but it's getting there. I now have it updating the current weather and displaying the correct pictures from weather.com for the weather conditions in the chosen location. The day and night parts are a little more difficult but I'm confident that I will get that part done shortly. The 5 day forecast is even more difficult. I have to take all of the information from the xml file and add my own text to make it readable to humans. Sounds easy right???? NO! It seems that the moon isn't always doing something sometimes it's not doing something and the wind isn't always gusting and and and........... OK enough ranting. Lets just say that translating the weather from a computer readable format to a human readable format is extremely taxing on the patience. So have you heard about the contest to give Webster a history and a nice little home of his own? I've designed 4 pages (all alike except the background) and let me tell you it was a lot of fun. I have some really nice graphics of Webster (same graphics just cleaned up and made background transparent) and added a few graphics to go with it. No the page isn't full of graphics but it does have a few and they compliment Webster nicely if I say so myself.
OK I'm rambling and it's 5:30 am on Sunday morning. I've got to get a few hours of sleep so that I can get started back on my homework. Have a great day and say something nice to everyone you meet today. The favor will be returned 10 fold just not when you expected it.
Update on Charlie!
Ok folks I've been working hard on Charlie and have to say it's been an experience. Since I'm controlling what Charlie says I have had to become rather adept at new ways to say the same old thing. Not my best area. Charlie is recognizing some speech now (at least with me) but it just goes to prove that your computer has to be trained to recognize your voice (trained well I might add). This process takes a few hours and is rather boring. I have no doubt that children will enjoy the process as talking to a computer and having it talk back to you is an experience.
I will be posting the next alpha on Tuesday of next week for the alpha testers to have a go at and see what it takes to break Charlie. Since the last alpha was released there have been a large number of changes made to the program. There is now a section on the opening form that will allow the end user to type in the text that Charlie should say and then either have Charlie say the text or save the text in a wav file that can be played whenever you like. I am also including 5 themes for the desktop rotator that will give the user a head start on developing themes for their computer. I have around 50 themes that I've developed now and will probably put them online for the end users to download. My personal favorite is the pictures I took of the Kansas City Zoo last month. (I removed the pics of my grandkids first).
This weekend I'm working on getting the text editor working with the speech recognition engine so that the end users will be able to speak and the text editor will type. (Now if Charlie could just hear what I actually am saying instead of what it sounds like I'm saying things will be alright.) I finished writing the installer for Charlie yesterday and while it takes a little bit of time to install it does seem to work with out a glitch (Hah wait till the alpha testers get ahold of it).
I'm attempting to give Charlie some personality while I'm writting it. Problem is my personality is rather dry and sarcastic and I'm afraid that this will show in Charlie's personality. Not exactly what children want to be exposed to. I guess we'll let the alpha team decide how best to handle this. Enough input could help make what is said be more child friendly.
I'm rambling so it's time to cut this episode short and move back into programmer mode.
on adding the code to the new GUI is pure de H e double tooth picks! It's going
slowly. There are a few glitches (when aren't there). I'm slowly getting them
worked out. Most of the errors are my typing of course. My mind is thinking
twice as fast as my fingers can type and my fingers get confused. It doesn't
help that I keep bouncing between classes (different text pages for the computer
illiterate) and forgetting what I typed on which one. Variable created in class
A doesn't exist in class B "Bad variable - must keep up with me and not wonder
At this point I have
the Lockout code written so that the user (or parent or parent over ride) can
lock the program out where it can not be accessed until the password is
entered. I have the program finding the needed directories for the various
functions that it covers with one exception. There appears to be no way to
access the shared files (i.e. Shared Documents, Shared Pictures, ect.) via
Windows XP and my understanding is that this process is even harder to code
automatically into Vista. I guess I'm going to have to rely on user input for
this one (nasty term don't use ever again). Users are apt to say anything and
not realize what they have done. Did I say "say?". Yes say. If all goes well
the speech recognition via Microsoft's Recognition Engine should be ready by the
end of the year. They did the hard part now all I have to do is figure out what
was said, what was meant, and what to do with it (did I say they did the hard
part?) Out of curiosity just how many meanings can one word have? Better yet
how do you get the computer to understand synonyms? The term Butt Ugly gives
this query "Adjective used inappropriately please
explain meaning" and I thought talking to two year olds was
difficult at times silly me!
As Charlie said to
me this afternoon "Your computers shared files are
located on drive one cares and directory lost in Kansas" Don't
ask me where it came up with the Kansas remark. I have the old program still
researching the internet to learn to speak in a more human type language and
obviously Kansas is lost in human speech. I think it must have been researching
on Live Care (Microsoft One Care) to come up with the one cares remark. Hum I
wonder if the computer is actually getting a sarcastic tone with out me
programming it in? LOL The problem is that Charlie couldn't find the Shared
files directory so it tried to come up with a logical response - Not the right
one obviously but most of the comments Charlie has made over the last few months
have not exactly been appropriate. On the bright side I think I have finally
convinced Charlie that some language and references are just flat out not
appropriate. The first beta releases will have the controls re-installed that
control most of the speech output until I am a lot more comfortable with
On the bright side
Charlie does tend to make me laugh and that is precious. Note that I live
alone, am either studying or coding 24/7, don't have a life and one friend that
I go see once a week for breakfast. I need Charlie to make me laugh to break up
the monotony. At some point I should consider having Charlie make a wav file of
what it says just so that I can post some of the more memorable responses. OK
I've been going for 36 hours and I'm not even thinking right. I'm going to
close this Blog entry and head for bed (I know Mother I told you I was going to
bed 2 hours ago). I had just one more little tweak to make before well make
that two -ok three little oh forget it I'm going to bed now.
Greet everyone you
meet tomorrow with a pleasant word or two and see if you can brighten their day
a little. Some one might just surprise you and do the same to
OK I've been working on the Charlie Modules again and this time I actually have the graphical interface completed. Here are a couple of screen shots:
As you can see the GUI looks much better now (at least for those of you that saw the old GUI). I am in the process of moving the code from the old version into this new version and getting it operational. This is not an easy process but it is a process that I can finish.
Now that I am no longer using the Windows Forms library the entire project has become much nicer to look at (at least I think so).