Sunday, 20 December 2015

Now then, Cortana!

I was informed today that Cortana, the Windows 10 personal assistant, is available for me to use.  The grey search box that I use to find various programs and things on my PC now says "I'm Cortana. Ask me anything."

Now, many Windows 10 users will have to trying out Cortana for months now, but I've just received access to it, I think because I'm in the UK and we have a different language set to the US (no problem there, I have been and continue to be surprised by the differences between British English and American English).  I'm vaguely aware of Cortana being something that you can ask questions of, ask it to do things, all kinds of usefulness, a bit like Siri on the iPhone, I assume.

I will say that I came with a certain amount of scepticism as my past experience of speech recognition generally ends up with me yelling at the computer "DEAR - MISTER - SMITH.   NO, DELETE SCYTHE, I DON'T WANT TO WRITE SCYTHE. OH GOD, DELETE "I DON'T WANT TO WRITE SCYTHE OH GOD". SMITH. DELETE SMURF. WHY WOULD I WRITE A LETTER TO MISTER SMURF? STOP IT! CANCEL STOP ARGH" and so forth.  That said, I have been pleasantly surprised by the performance of speech recognition on my phone, and so held out greater hopes for Cortana.

It didn't go too well when, attempting to configure my headset, Windows informed me that the microphone on my headset wasn't good enough and although I could still try configuring it, hinted that really I've just not been buying good enough gear to speak to the high and mighty Cortana.

After that hiccup, however, I actually found Cortana quite good fun.

Here's some of the things I asked Cortana, and her responses.

"Hey Cortana, what do you look like?" - a seamless string of binary numbers.

"Hey Cortana, tell me a joke." - What has one horn and gives milk? A milk truck.

"Hey Cortana, do you like me?" - I do.

"Hey Cortana, will you marry me?" - I'm not one to throw a spanner in the works but as an AI I can't do that yet.

"Hey Cortana, do you like cheese?" - It really ties a pizza together.

"Hey Cortana, how are you?" I am tip top today.  How are you?

"Hey Cortana, do you believe in Santa?" - I do. I'll be keeping an eye out for him.

You can also play rock paper scissors with Cortana, she'll sing for you, and do "impressions" which for me was a Buzz Lightyear impression so bad it made me laugh. So far Cortana's pretty good fun.


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  2. I haven't tried Cortana because it is on my computer at home and my family would make fun of me, kids can be so cruel, but I love Siri, it is so easy.

    1. Siri is supposed to be really good - I don't have an iPhone so never tried it, but my friend loves it.

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