Cool Idea: Cohdoo Audio Highlighting

Just in case: I have not bought, used, or been given the Cohdoo Highlight app. As a matter of fact, I don’t own an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad. (I do still use my iPod Classic, but that doesn’t count, does it?) This app just recently caught my eye, and I figured I’d cover it because I like the idea so much. I have, however, tried and liked Dragon Dictation. Again, though, I found it on my own and haven’t been paid to use or mention it. If you’d like to contribute your experience with either app, please feel free to do so in the comments section

As an editor and writer for the school newspaper, I record my interviews, either in writing or digitally. While using an electronic recorder lets me to keep track of the conversations I have, I usually prefer to use a pen and paper so as to have my own version of things. This approach lets me jot down questions, organize thoughts, and underline the most important information to make the writing process that much easier.

Of course, my preference comes with a caveat; very few people can write quickly enough to keep up with a conversation while maintaining full attention to detail.  Tapes and digital recorders, of course, don’t have that issue. Eventually I wondered whether you could combine the perfect “memory” of a digital recording with the ability to draw attention to the most important snippets of whatever is going on in real time. The solution doesn’t have to be complicated, and I’m fairly certain it isn’t. If a manufacturer were to add a button that could be depressed and returned to normal by users, and if the recording had a special indicator, the interview process would be easier by leaps and bounds than it currently is.

Enter Cohdoo Highlight. It’s an app for iOS devices that allows for just what I described. Recordings appear to work just as they do on the iDevices’ built-in Voice Memos app, with the significant addition of a big “Mark Highlight” button in the center of the screen. As one might guess, users tap the button to visually highlight the parts they deem important.

For journalists, this still isn’t a perfect substitute for scratch paper to record thoughts and new questions. And there will always be the occasional Luddite source who prefers that the reporter not use any recordings. Of course, there’s also the risk that this might cause some information loss in the hands of writers on tight deadlines, giving them a tool that lets them skim over their interview files and miss the content they forgot to highlight. But the benefits here are pretty significant, and the idea has applications in many places. Take this quote from a student reviewer, for example.

We really enjoyed having the ability to highlight important parts of each recording. While listening to a lecture, we took written notes while using the Cohdoo Highlight to record the lecture. As the instructor emphasized on important points, we highlighted those parts and noted the highlight number on our notes for our future reference when cramming. Compared to Voice Memos this app definitely has significantly better features which make the app absolutely a charm to use when recording and especially when listening to recorded content.

(“Cohdoo Highlight Review” by Erphan Al-Delgir)

The logical next step would be to apply this not just to audio but to other recorded media. I’m looking forward to seeing new iterations of the idea. As a side note, how about combining Cohdoo Highlight’s features with a speech transcription app such as Dragon Dictation?

For more information on Cohdoo or the $4.99 Highlight app, check out the company’s products page and the blog. Apparently, they’re working on a few updates.

Pardon me.

My apologies for the gap between posts. In my defense, school’s hard. For those students who have yet to graduate from high school, be warned: rumors of an easy senior semester have been greatly exaggerated. Either way, it’s over. I survived with a strong enough record to get a big handful of honors, and I’ll be studying a combination of Economics, Linguistics, and Neuroscience as a Michigan Wolverine. Hopefully posts will get more and more interesting as the blog grows and I’m inspired by the goings-on at my new home.

Cool Idea #11: Japan Support of the Day (via The Graphic Side of Life)

I probably haven’t mentioned it before, but good art is (to me) one of the greatest things since sliced bread. Here are some great takes on the Japanese flag.

Please donate to humanitarian efforts in Japan, North Africa, or anywhere else your help is needed.

Japan Support of the Day

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via The Graphic Side of Life

Cool Idea #10: Word Lens

The video says it all, but blogger Judith B. Herman’s says it all when she says your phone can translate signs. Word Lens is an augmented reality app that translates text within the view of a device’s camera. It does so without requiring phone/data reception, too, making it perfect for travelers.

As you can see in the video, the app is fast and the view is clear. And according to PC Mag, it works as shown in the clip except when translating long paragraphs or fast-moving text.

Word Lens is available for free, but translation packs are a premium feature. To see the app for the iPhone or iPod Touch, start here.

Cool Idea #9: Tatoeba

Anybody who’s taken a language course in high school or college is familiar with the thick two-way dictionaries made for learners. For those of us who are native English speakers with some experience in our target languages, those are pretty useful. But too often, their entries are useless to new students. When I took my first Spanish class, for example, I had no clue how to conjugate ser (to be) in the preterite tense, let alone what the preterite tense was. The dictionary didn’t provide that, and because of this I had no way to express things other than in the present tense.

I could elaborate more, but I’ve got a ton of other work to do right now, so I’ll have to cut this a little short. What I’m trying to say is that traditional dictionaries are great tools for seasoned language learners who just can’t recall the right word. When it comes to helping the new students, though, they fall flat because the words exist on their own. Tatoeba takes a different approach by giving translations of sentences, not individual words. Because everything is generated by users who are for the most part accessible and because it teaches with actual examples as opposed to rules, I think Tatoeba could be a great way to pick up a language.

Here are all the versions of “My name is Jack.” And here’s a video explaining the idea behind Tatoeba.

This is a great idea, and I’ve already started translating some sentences in English, Spanish, and Ukrainian. But I also see a whole lot of untapped potential. As translation and language education become more open and more collaborative processes, this same concept of bit-by-bit translation across multiple languages can be exported. I’d like to see within the next few years a large-scale project focused on translating books in the public domain. A crowdsourced version of say, Moby-Dick in Esperanto would be a great read, if you ask me.

One issue: I can’t seem to get Arabic text (or anything else written from left to right) to type correctly. Maybe it’s just me, though.

Question: What about reindeer predators?

Reindeer in the centre of Hammerfest, Norway

Image via Wikipedia

As described in a holiday-themed article at Reuters, the Norwegian government has responded to the fact that about 500 reindeer are killed annually in vehicle accidents. So far, officials have had roughly 2,000 reindeer tagged with reflective bands so that they’re more visible to motorists. The idea is intriguing, and I hope everything works out.

Thing is, I’m a little concerned over a different source of danger to reindeer. If they’re more visible to humans, aren’t they also more visible to predators? I assume the people behind the project considered this, but I’m not sure how the danger was dismissed.

Cool Idea #8: RelayRides

RelayRides is a little bit like ZipCar in that, in addition to being based in Massachusetts, it’s a network of cars that members share. The difference is that with RelayRides, members actually share. As in, RelayRides cars come from RelayRides users. They sign up, describe their cars and equip them with tracking devices, and put them on the RelayRides network.  The cool part here is that members who share their vehicles receive over half of usage fees. The startup is backed by Google and currently offers service in Boston and San Francisco. For more information, check out the first link and/or read this piece on Wired.