Siri: Almost Useful

Siri, running in iPhone 4S
Siri in iPhone 4S

I have been testing out Siri, the new “artificially intelligent” personal assistant of Apple iPhone 4S for today, after I got hold of the handset in the morning. Here in Finland at least Siri falls into that irritating middle category of apps/services that obviously show so much promise that you’d love to use them, yet fail so often that it mostly makes no practical sense. The two main problems over here are language and location issues: as Siri currently only agrees to understand (US) English, it is rather difficult to ask it to carry out even simple tasks in a context surrounded by Finnish personal and place names. Siri also does not accept questions of places or businesses outside of the US, making its most obvious use — asking for directions while on the go — here totally irrelevant. Yet, I managed to send out a couple of urgent text messages by asking Siri for it while on the run, but even there the street noises and messy/limited online access broke the process so many times that I could have achieved the same with much less hassle through keyboard. But: if you are really running from place to place, stopping to access a keyboard is not always an option.

Currently Siri is mostly good for fun, general knowledge demos in quiet indoor, solid WiFi conditions. But in the future it is more than likely that natural conversational agents will really become one of our major interface paradigms. Discussion style interactions are so convenient and convincing when they actually do manage to work.

Joli OS, netbooking with cloud orientation

I have been trying out various operating systems for my netbooks, which by definition are rather under-powered devices. A new try is Joli OS, which is a “cloud oriented OS” in the sense that it has web app shortcuts on the desktop, next to local apps. Installation of various new services/apps is made very easy and most media run without any tweaking whatsoever, which is nice for a Linux based OS. The cloud integration does not run very deep atm, but you can access your desktop via Chrome browser from any computer, which is handy. They are also launching a new JoliCloud version soon, aiming to become a true “social computing platform”. For more, see:

Joli OS screenshot
Joli OS

Apple TV, BBC iPlayer, AirPlay

I have been testing more integrated media systems lately. An interesting one has been Apple TV, a small black box that can fit to your hand and that is capable of streaming media from your iOS devices to the flatscreen television. The media that is available through the standard, unmodified ATV box includes iTunes movies, YouTube, Vimeo, the usual stuff, plus any iTunes media libraries you have put under a Home Share. The most interesting use that I have found so far, however, relates to the fact that you can use Wi-Fi streaming (AirPlay) to switch image from your iPad/iPhone to the big screen via ATV. There are many interesting games that take advantage of this capability, but most of them run only on iPad 2 – unfortunate for me. But I installed the BBC iPlayer app and was surprised how good quality the streamed media was. Ended up watching yet another episode of Doctor Who. One catch though: you get the AirPlay functionality (and most of the BBC content) only after a €6,99/month subscription fee. If you like British television, nature documentaries and all, it just might be worth it. I am not sure yet whether I will continue the subscription, but I will definitely continue testing the potentials of AirPlay and iCloud.

Lähettäjä Frans Mäyrä

International Journal of Play

Game Studies and Play Studies have much potential for dialogue and synergy. Please note the new journal:

The International Journal of Play is an inter-disciplinary publication focusing on all facets of play. It aims to provide an international forum for mono- and multi-disciplinary papers and scholarly debate on all aspects of play theory, policy and practice from across the globe and across the lifespan, and in all kinds of cultural settings, institutions and communities. The journal will be of interest to anthropologists, educationalists, folklorists, historians, linguists, philosophers, play workers, psychologists, sociologists, therapists and zoologists.

We welcome:

  • Reports on research projects
  • Review work across an area of research
  • Papers concerned with theory-practice links
  • Policy critiques and expositions
  • Reviews and analysis of contemporary and historical publications
  • Essays, memoirs, and other forms of reflective writing
  • Writing that builds on the experience and voices of children and young people
  • Theoretical position papers

Peer Review Policy:

All papers submitted to International Journal of Play undergo rigorous peer review based on editor screening and anonymous refereeing by at least two referees.

Journal link:

DiGRA calls for new executives

(Forwarding from Helen Kennedy, DiGRA President:)

Dear All,

The Board has lost several members mid-term this year but cannot replace them until the next round of voting next year. The Board proposed that those interested in helping during this interim period should apply by November 11th. The board has specific projects for which they are seeking support:
– Student representative
– A National Chapter development liaison
– Journal launch support
– Membership services

Please send nominations to board(at) by November 11th to serve until full elections in 2012.
We welcome proposals/nominations that align with these BUT also those that suggest new initiatives/developments.
Those successfully recruited will serve until the 2012 DiGRA AGM which will take place at Nordic DiGRA. – The entire board will need to be reelected at this AGM.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Helen Kennedy
On behalf of the DiGRA Board

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