Connect with us

Tech News

Storyline helps you customize your Alexa, no code needed

(TECH NEWS) Storyline makes it easy for non-tech people to create, test, and publish complex voice applications in minutes, using templates and visual mind-map interface.

Published

on

alexa skills ai storyline internet of things

You’re alone in your house with Alexa, your trusted companion for answers to easy questions. You have been asking her if you’ll need a sweater today, telling her to shut up (mean!) when you need a quiet moment, and instructing her to set up a 20 minute timer for the tasty DiGiorno pizza you just threw in the oven.

She’s faithful. She’s powerful. But sometimes, you just wish she was a bit more like you.

I’m not talking about your friend Alexa, I’m talking about your Amazon Echo of course! Amazon’s newest system designed to listen in on your deepest darkest secrets. Okay, okay, I can’t prove that.

With 25 million Echos purchased in the United States and an anticipated 130 million users globally by the year 2020, this version of AI will be here for a long time, but it might as well suit your needs now.

If you find yourself looking for more options and a bit more of an organic response from Alexa, there’s a new place to create your own questions and responses to integrate with your Echo device without having to be a code wizard like the engineers over at Amazon.

Alright, so the response won’t exactly be organic, because, well, you have to type it out, but hey! it will at least be something more fun than a simple “Yes” or “No” (think, Awesome! or Sounds lit!).

A new, free (!!), web app called Storyline allows you to create, test, and publish a new Alexa skill in just minutes using their online visual interface. No code, no backend, no servers. Just sign up, type in your questions and your desired responses and boom–Alexa will respond just how you’d like.

While this would work for some easy party tricks, it could come in handy if you’re looking to either create a specific skill that you want to use frequently or just add some less robotic answers from Alexa.

The Amazon Echo already has an extensive list of skills built in, but most of them are Amazon-product related and it would definitely be beneficial to add some skills specific to your needs as you wait for Amazon to get around to adding full conversational ability to Alexa’s lexicon.

Storyline is great because you can test things and use them just for yourself, you can share them with friends, or you can even publish them for some profit! The founder of Storyline wrote a blog post with screenshots and simple instructions to get you going.

With this new approach, Storyline has taken a step towards allowing those millions of users to have the power of customization normally reserved for those privy to the one’s and two’s of coding. Whether you prefer your home’s AI to be more robust or not, this service shows how fast technology is moving and how fun it can be.

Will hails from Northern California, earned a B.A. in English from Texas A&M University, and now calls Austin, Texas home where he works at a tech startup. He likes riding his bike an ungodly amount of miles and his favorite aesthetic is an open road. If you see him around he'll likely be reading a classic American novel and drinking a Topo Chico.

Tech News

Slack video messaging tool for the ultra lazy (or productive) person

(TECHNOLOGY) Courtesy of a company called Standuply, Slack’s notable lack of video-messaging options is finally addressed.

Published

on

slack video updates

Slack — the popular chat and workflow app — is still going strong despite its numerous technical shortcomings, one of which is its notable lack of native video or audio chat. If you’re an avid Slack user, you might be interested in Standuply’s solution to this missing feature: video and audio messaging.

While it isn’t quite the Skype-esque experience for which one might hope when booting up Slack, Standuply’s video messages add-on gives you the ability to record and send a video or audio recording to any Slack channel. This makes things like multitasking a breeze; unless you’re a god among mortals, your talking speed is significantly faster than your typing, making video- or audio-messaging a viable productivity move.

The way you’ll record and send the video or audio message is a bit convoluted: using a web browser and a private Slack link, you can record up to five minutes of content, after which point the content is uploaded to YouTube as a private item. You can then use the item’s link to send the video or audio clip to your Skype channel.

While this is a fairly roundabout way of introducing video chat into Slack, the end result is still a visual conversation which is conducive to long-term use.

Sending video and audio messages may feel like an exercise in futility (why use a third-party tool when one could just type?) but the amount of time and energy you can save while simultaneously responding to feedback or beginning your next task adds up.

Similarly, having a video that your team can circle back to instead of requiring them to scroll through until they find your text post on a given topic is better for long-term productivity.

And, if all else falls short, it’s nice to see your remote team’s faces and hear their voices every once in a while—if for no other reason than to reassure yourself that they aren’t figments of your overly caffeinated imagination.

At the time of this writing, the video chat portion of the Slack bot is free; however, subsequent pricing tiers include advanced aspects such as integration with existing services, analytics, and unlimited respondents.

Continue Reading

Tech News

This phishing simulator tests your company’s (lack of) readiness

(TECHNOLOGY) Phishero is a tool which tests your organization’s resistance to phishing attacks. Pro tip: Most companies aren’t ready.

Published

on

phishing simulator

In the wake of any round of cyberattacks, many organizations question whether they’re prepared to defend themselves against things like hacking or other forms of information theft. In reality, the bulk of workplace data thievery comes from a classic trick: phishing.

Phishing is a catch-all phrase for a specific type of information theft which involves emailing. Typically, a phishing email will include a request for sensitive data, such as a password, a copy of a W-4, or an account’s details (e.g., security questions); the email itself will often appear to come from someone within the organization.

Similar approaches include emailing a link which acts as a login page for a familiar site (e.g., Facebook) but actually stores your account information when you sign in.

Luckily, there’s a way for you to test your business’ phishing readiness.

Phishero, a tool designed to test employee resistance to phishing attacks, is a simple solution for any business looking to find any weak links in their cybersecurity.

The tool itself is designed to do four main things: identify potential targets, find a way to design a convincing phishing scheme, implement the phishing attack, and analyze the results.

Once Phishero has a list of your employees, it is able to create an email based on the same web design used for your company’s internal communications. This email is then sent to your selected recipient pool, from which point you’ll be able to monitor who opens the email.

Once you’ve concluded the test, you can use Phishero’s built-in analytics to give you an at-a-glance overview of your organization’s security.

The test results also include specific information such as which employees gave information, what information was given, and pain points in your current cybersecurity setup.

Phishing attacks are incredibly common, and employees – especially those who may not be as generationally skeptical of emails – are the only things standing between your company and catastrophic losses if they occur in your business. While training your employees on proper email protocol out of the gate is a must, Phishero provides an easy way to see how effective your policies actually are.

Continue Reading

Tech News

Could Amazon’s new augmented reality app replace auto mechanics?

(TECHNOLOGY) Augmented reality has been gimmicky at best, but Amazon plans on changing that with their new step forward in auto parts. But could it threaten mechanics’ market share?

Published

on

amazon augmented reality for auto parts

During its brief time in the mainstream spotlight, augmented reality (AR) technology has been used to measure objects, disappoint crowdfunding audiences, and catch Pokémon.

However, its most recent iteration (by Amazon) might have you rethinking your last trip to the used auto parts store (and your aforementioned disappointment in AR).

While Amazon has explored augmented reality applications in the past, the uses have generally revolved around projecting things such as furniture representations into rooms.

In theory, a user could select a specific model of furniture and, using their smartphone, see what the room would look like with the piece of furniture in it. Their new augmented reality service plans to extend that same technology to encompass a smaller-scale setting: automobile parts.

The app is still in its early stages of development, and they’ve only recently been granted the patent, but the concept sounds incredibly promising.

amazon augmented reality patent application

To use the app itself, a customer would point their smartphone’s camera at the vehicle’s engine. The app would feasibly start by identifying your vehicle’s model information and displaying different modular points, after which point you would be able to select a type of part and project it onto your vehicle to see how it fits.

Once you found the correct part for your vehicle, Amazon could order the part via the standard Amazon app.

In an age where the combination of YouTube and your dad’s toolbox provides an attractive alternative to paying the local mechanic, having the option to diagnose accurately your problem and have a reliable solution appear is a huge potential step forward (IF and only if you are the type of person that isn’t intimidated by a car engine).

Amazon is used to crushing the competition in traditional fields; however, where automotive augmented reality is concerned, it seems like Amazon may be the first big name to consider. Virtually no companies use augmented reality for in-house repairs, and customer-level AR support is nonexistent, making Amazon the obvious (and only) choice for now.

Augmented reality has been little more than a novelty thus far, and while some of its applications have been more geared toward services than entertainment, arguably none have been essential for more than a limited number of users (even their grocery offering). Amazon’s foray into automotive self-help is a promising step toward mainstream augmented reality which both improves users’ lives and serves a purpose greater than the sum of its parts.

We’ll stick with our trusted mechanics for our nicer cars and feel dubious that Amazon will ever threaten the practice, but for our junkers that just need a new air filter, we’re down for some AR magic.

Our ruling is that this app is pretty cool and could replace auto parts competitors, and perhaps even be used by tinkerers, but it’s unlikely that any amount of AR magic will replace mechanics (I mean, have you had to replace a part in an Audi!? You have to take out the entire engine to get to the transmission, so no thanks).

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Our Great Parnters

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories