The edible software 7

   In the computer biz, people will frequently describe software as being usable, or being user friendly. That is like presenting me with a dish and telling me that the food is edible. I am glad that the food is edible, but I expect so much more from food. I expect it to look good, smell appetizing, tickle my taste buds and I prefer to share it with good company. Good conversation and a few laughs make food so much more delicious. Food can be something that you dump into your stomach, at its best can be sensual experience and most of the time is something in between.

    Cooking is one of my passions. Recently I impressed my friend with some spinach pies. She seemed amazed by the fact that I made them from scratch. “Oh it is easy” I kept telling her. She look at me in disbelief. “No really! It is super easy; you start by making dough, the way you make for pita bread”. I started, trying to convince her of the undemanding nature of spinach pies. My friend looked horrified, “You make your own pita bread?” she asked me in disbelief. “Oh that is so easy” I replied. “You mix 6 cups of flour with salt, in a separate pot you warm up 3 cups of milk, you want the milk warm, but not hot …..” I noticed her eyes glaze over. I was going above my friend’s culinary skills. The thought of making dough scared her off. Later on that day I remembered something, something I had forgotten. 18 years ago, I didn’t know how to boil an egg. Making a simple pot of rice seemed like an ordeal. Nine times out of ten, when I baked a cake, the cake got dumped in the garbage instead of anybodies stomach. What takes me half an hour to make without even putting my mind into it, used to take me 4 hours of focused attention years ago. Yeah! Cooking is easy …. because I have been experimenting with it for 18 years. It is a snap today, but it seemed like a bewildering mystery many years ago. I suddenly felt very humbled by this thought.

You know what else I have been doing for a long long time? Even longer than cooking. Programming. My initial passion. I am first and foremost a computer geek. It is time that we set the bar higher. No more just  edible software. For a while now, I have been working on something, here is the baby version of it. I am hoping it will grow into a healthy young adult one day.

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7 thoughts on “The edible software

  • Shoes for Iraq

    Right. So. Many people who work mainly in English would probably wonder why anybody would need software like this. Because most software products are rendered in English, are intuitive, and most people can find their way through a series of menus just by reading. On top of that people need to know what tool they are looking for before they type an instruction for it.

    This software would seem to be useful if developed as a translation tool. The question is, if ease of use is the end-aim then should a user be able to program their own shortcuts and translations (and would they if they could) or should a user just be able to have a prepared list of translated phrases that they can pick and choose from. And is it faster to click and point then to type anything more than a few characters at once.

    Your product seems to work a bit like some other search and help functions in commercial and open source programs, for example Microsoft Office's F1 help function. Except that your product could potentially be deployed across a wider variety of programs instead of across just one office suite, and has language translation potential (which you seem to be headed toward) that could be user customised.

    Elen, I think you have built something that only a geek can appreciate.

    Can you post the rest of your recipe for pita bread now?

  • ihath

    Shoes for Iraq, thank you for your feedback. My main theory is this. If people could communicate adequatly with hand gestures, head nodes and finger pointing, we wouldn't have not invented language. Have you had the experience of being in a foreign country where you can only use hand gestures and grunts to communicate? If yes, you would appreciated how beautiful language is. Our computers today ask us to communicate with them with very simplistic gestures, click, double click and mouse drag. WordSense is only the begining of something that I hope will be much larger. I don't want to talk about it, until I can produce it into working software. I want to be able to walk the walk before I talk the talk. To answer your questions: Yes the software will be allow for translation into other languages and yes, in the future, will allow each person to create their own short cuts.

    Pita bread recipe:

    6 cups of flour
    —————-mix together

    3 cups of milk
    1 table spoon sugar
    —————– warm up in a pot. Just a little warm, not hot.

    Add 2 table spoons of yeast into the milk and let it sit of 10 minutes. You should see the yeast becoming active and starting to make a yeasty smell.

    Mix milk with the flour and knead for about 10 minutes. Cover with a kitchen towel and let the dough sit for 1 hour in a warm spot. The dough will double in size.

    preheat the oven, put on max heat.

    Seperate into small balls. The size of your fist. Roll out each ball using a rolling pin on a floured surface. Place each pita in the oven and watch closely. It doesn't take long, 5 minutes or less. The dough will seperate, creating a pita pocket. The minute the pita starts to brown, take it out of the oven.

    Use oven mittens so as not to burn your hands.

  • Shoes for Iraq

    Thanks for the rest of the recipe.

    As for your question, yes, I have often found myself in situations with other people where head nods and silent gestures are required. I even enjoy communicating that way. Of course, it is very difficult to carry out a more complex exchange of ideas as we are – but is perfectly fine for exchanging cues around shared tasks.

    You pointed out in another post (about language) that people build up a collection of signals with experience (whether those signals are verbal or non-verbal). So… logically what your software almost needs, is the capacity to "learn". For example, if you clicked and pointed at a menu option or tool then your software could remember what you clicked, recall the name, tell you what it was called, and might even ask if you want to give the tool another name.

    The ethical problem with building software that can learn is, where does it end. Might software with this capacity one day develop its own intelligence and start giving itself instructions? It seems absurd but is a problem that ethicists have discussed for decades and is becoming more imminent in the wake of developments lead by teams who are developing software that could potentially be deployed on a battlefield or to gather intelligence.

    You are very lucky to have the skills and time to develop this software, and I hope that what you build can help people. I also hope that you continue to share your developments with others as you are ready to reveal them, and that you have the resources to work with others who can take part in ethical discussions around the implications of developing an artificial intelligence. What you are doing seems very inventive. What if one day it become more than a slave to human instruction?

  • ihath

    Shoes For Iraq,

    You always have such thoughtful comments. It seems to me that with any creative act, one creates something and at a certain point one must let go and let it go into the world. You have no control how people will see it, make of it or use it. The hope is that if you created it with pure intention and love in your heart that it will do no harm, but there are no guarantees of that.

    Do let me know how the pita bread turns out.

  • Shoes for Iraq

    Generally, I agree that hope has at least a small chance of success when ideas are revealed and discussed. Your software for example. Is it a non-obvious solution for avoiding the use of the mouse. Or an intermediary program for translating and rebuilding English skins. Or a hacker's dream tool for remote influencing somebody else's work? At a glance, I can see that your product has loads of potential and that the devil probably uses it.

    Have you released this product licensed or unlicensed?

    (Will let you know how the pita turns out when I try it, which will be as soon as I dedicate time to watching it).

  • ihath

    Shoes For Iraq,

    The next post will be so that you have something with your pita. I hope you like it.

    WordSense is unlicensed right now.

    How to tell where inspiration comes from. God? The devil? or some crazy delusion? and how to tell the difference between the three? Hmmm …. now we are talking about interesting things.

  • Shoes for Iraq

    I'm sure I will. The pita was successful, I made it with half wholemeal flour and soya milk. It took me three pieces to work out how to roll them evenly. Verdict: very nice but I am certain Turkish bread conserves more energy.