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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) November 8, 1999


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http://www.webreference.com http://www.webreference.com/new/ http://www.webreference.com/new/submit.html New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. DHTML DINER: Loading External JS Files for DHTML Browsers 2. UPDATE: Universal Related Popup Menus 2.02 3. UPDATE: Internet License Plate Gallery 4. SOFTWARE REVIEW: Voice Recognition Software - Dragon vs. IBM 5. CONTEST WINNERS: Subscribe & Win! 6. NEW LINKS: Image Map Resources, Internet Statistics, JavaScript Resources 7. NET NEWS: * Microsoft Declared Monopoly * Real Fixes One Privacy Hole, Exposes Another * Web Publishers, Advertisers Square Off on Customer Data * Study Finds Top Firms' Web Sites Error-Ridden * A Web That's Out of This World

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. DHTML DINER: Loading External JS Files for DHTML Browsers

Why do DHTML gurus go through so many gyrations to load a simple .js file? Find out why in this step-by-step examination of browser quirks by our own DHTML dynamo, Peter Belesis.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. UPDATE: Universal Related Popup Menus 2.02

By user request we've updated our popular popups to work with frames. And of course, it's open source. By Andrew King.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. UPDATE: Internet License Plate Gallery

We've added eight new plates to the gallery, including SFT ENGR, WWWPAY, HTTPME, and 21T.COM, one of the only license plates in existence with a legal domain name. Keep those cards and plates coming!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 4. SOFTWARE REVIEW: Voice Recognition Software - Dragon vs. IBM

>The Problem

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), repeated trauma injuries are the most common newly reported workplace illness. Over 64% of the new cases reported in 1997 (the latest data available at http://stats.bls.gov) were disorders associated with repeated trauma, like carpal tunnel syndrome and noise-induced hearing loss. Of these injuries, repetive strain injuries were the fastest growing. These injuries cost businesses over $100 billion dollars in worker's compensation claims and lost work time, productivity, and rehabilitation.

>The Solution

An entire industry has grown around dealing with this problem. Ergonomic keyboards, mice, furniture, and all manner of contraptions have proliferated in response to the increasing demand. One area that shows great promise is voice recognition software. Now in their fourth generation, these products have evolved to allow hands-free dictation, and the promise of hands- free computing.

Reality doesn't always match the hype however. I've been working with three voice recognition products over last few weeks, Dragon's Naturally Speaking Preferred 4.0, IBM's ViaVoice Pro Millennium Edition, and Conversa Web 3. Rather than giving you a conventional review (you can read some below), I'll try and give you an idea of what it is really like to work with these products, and give you some tips on improving recognition.

Dragon Systems and IBM have updated their voice recognition software with larger vocabularies, improved accuracy and ease-of- use, all designed to speech-enable your apps, increase recognition accuracy, and ultimately free your hands from typing. I tested dictating with both products into a number of applications (including dictating this review, guess which product I used) and surfing the Web with their speech-enabled browsers.

>Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred 4.0

Optimized for the Pentium III, Naturally Speaking 4.0 ($199, $249 with USB Microphone) features improved training time (it took me only a few minutes), improved accuracy, voice surfing with NaturalWeb, and an improved Vocabulary Builder that reads in your existing documents. Dragon's BestMatch system features a vocabulary of 160,000 words with additional accuracy improvements for Pentium III computers greater than 450 MHz. You can dictate into most any Windows application, and common apps are fully voice-enabled (Word, Outlook, Office, WordPerfect).

Out of the box, after only five minutes of training, Dragon showed impressive accuracy (PC Magazine reports 96.5% initially and 98% accuracy after one hour). To improve recognition, use the vocabulary builder on your typical documents, use the "correct that" feature to correct recognition errors, speak clearly in complete phrases, and make sure your microphone is positioned correctly (1/2 inch in front of your mouth, just off the edge).

For straight dictation into e-mail etc., you can talk directly into Microsoft Outlook, but I recommend using the default VoicePad application for maximum accuracy and speed, then cut and paste into your app (say "click edit, click cut," move to desired app and "click edit, click paste").

You can control menus in voice-enabled applications using your voice by saying "click name-of-menu, and click menu-option." You can edit text by saying "select word" and saying the new word, but moving the cursor is still faster using a mouse or trackpad (both products have voice-enabled mice). Dragon's NaturalWord enables you to control Microsoft Word speaking natural-language commands.

>Surfing the Web

You can surf the Web using Internet Explorer and Dragon's NaturalWeb. First say "Start Internet Explorer" to launch Explorer. You can go to your favorite bookmarks ("Go to Favorite WebReference"), dictate a URL "Go to Address" and control the standard navigation buttons using "Go Back," "Go Forward," "Stop Loading" etc. Clicking on a text link is as easy as saying it, and clicking on a linked image takes a bit more work (they are not numbered). If there is any question on which link you chose, a question mark appears and you can say "Click That." It takes some getting used to and isn't foolproof, but in large part it works.

>IBM's ViaVoice Pro Millenium Edition

ViaVoice's new customizable VoiceCenter centralizes all functions into one convenient menu, with wizards and a nifty animated talking pencil named "Woodrow" to guide you through the setup process. The Recognition Wizard helps you set up your microphone and voice input levels for maximum accuracy. The Navigation Macro Creator lets you build macros to repeat a series of mouse clicks or keystrokes.

ViaVoice is more user-friendly than Dragon for microphone setup and help. At any time you can say "What can I say?" and ViaVoice displays a popup with available commands. You can also invoke the ever-entertaining Woodrow by saying "Teach me about ." Woodrow talks you through the procedure, complete with context sensitive talking help.

Like Naturally Speaking, ViaVoice allows you to delete the last phrase using "Scratch that," and with both products you'll find yourself saying that a lot initially. "Correct " works pretty much the same way as Dragon. ViaVoice encourages users to correct dictatation using both the keyboard and your voice.

However, correction using just your voice is difficult. The IBM representative I talked to said that most users prefer keyboard correction, though they were looking into a hands-free mode for the next update. Recognition accuracy was pretty good, though I found ViaVoice to be a bit worse than Dragon, perhaps it's because I've had Dragon longer. ("er, Scratch that") PC Magazine found 95.6% accuracy for ViaVoice out of the box and 97.7% after two hours of use.

Unfortunately, training ViaVoice took much longer than Naturally Speaking. Initial training took about 15 minutes. There are a series of six stories you read in to analyze your voice, each 10-35 minutes long. You can pause to rest along the way, but training ViaVoice is a time-consuming chore compared to Dragon's speedy setup. With both products, the more time you put into them, the higher your recognition accuracy will be.

>Surfing the Web

Sufing the Web with ViaVoice is a bit easier than with NaturalWeb. In ViaVoice you just say "Surf the Web" and Explorer, Netscape, or AOL launches (you choose). In both programs you select links by saying the link text. In ViaVoice linked images are also numbered, to select one you just say the number. To scroll down the page just say "Page down." You use "back," "forward," and "stop" just like you'd expect.

>Conversa Web 3: "Whiskey Echo Bravo Romeo Echo Foxtrot"

The best in way I found to surf the Web with your voice is Conversational Computing's Conversa Web 3. Using Internet Explorer 4+, Conversa features speaker-independent voice recognition, licensed from IBM ("What Can I Say" sound familiar?). (Note: Barry L. Smith, Conversa's Senior Product Manager says "Conversa's speech technology is 100% internally developed.") No training is necessary, and surfing is intuitive. Like ViaVoice, you select links by saying them. Navigation buttons are labeled clearly, "Go Back," "Scroll Down," etc.

>Can you say "Papa Alpha India November?"

However, there's a price to pay for speaker independency. To enter text in the URL address field ("Enter address") or forms you have to use the military alphabet. ("Roger that, Alpha-Bravo"). I'd like to see Conversa's ease of use combined with better Web page navigation and natural language dictation.

Conversational Computing owns conversations.com, where you can find voice-enabled Web sites, and information about voice-enabling your own site.

>Hardware Requirements:

All voice recognition programs require some serious horsepower, Dragon recommends a minimum of a 200 MHz PC with 128MB of memory (and IBM recommends 225 MHz and 48MB minimum), but you won't be happy at this speed ("Can you say molasses?"). For best results, I recommend you get the fastest computer you can afford, at least a 500 MHz Pentium III. (The new 600 MHz 256 MB machine I bought for voice recognition still has some lag time after dictating a phrase).

>Buy a USB Microphone

Each product comes with its own microphone and associated sound card compatibility issues, but for maximum accuracy I recommend you bypass your sound card completely and buy a USB microphone. Dragon makes one for $79 called Naturally Clear.

>What about the Mac?

Mac users take heart. By the end of the year you'll have new Mac versions of these voice recognition products. Both will require a G3 of least 333 MHz.


Overall I found Dragon's Naturally Speaking to be more accurate than IBM's ViaVoice, while ViaVoice is more user friendly. Training Naturally Speaking is also much faster, and it has a larger vocabulary. For surfing the Web with your voice I recommend Conversa Web. These products don't replace your keyboard, but they can take a huge load off of your aching wrists. One other recommendation: get a private office so you don't drive your coworkers crazy.

http://www.dragonsys.com http://www.software.ibm.com/speech/ http://www.conversa.com http://www.zdnet.com/products/stories/reviews/0,4161,2331859,00.html PC Magazine, Sept. 10, 1999 http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/1999/10/29/voice_recognition/index.html Salon.com, Oct. 29, 1999


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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 5. CONTEST WINNERS: Subscribe & Win!

Congrats to this week's winners: Olaf Kolling of Stuttgart, Germany, and Lisa Beames of Beavercreek, OH. They each win a free copy of HoTMetaL Pro 6.0 from Softquad Software, Inc.

Each week we'll draw new winners from our new subscribers - you could be next. Subscribe to our text newsletter today and you too could win a copy of HoTMetaL Pro 6.0! Already a subscriber? No problem - just fill out the form, and you'll be automatically entered to win.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 6. NEW LINKS: Image Map Resources, Internet Statistics, JavaScript Resources

>Image Map Resources

Mapmaker, mapmaker, make me a map. Client or server-side, our list of image map resources will give you the tips and tools to make your maps the most mighty. http://webreference.com/authoring/graphics/imagemaps.html

>Internet Statistics

Looking for the secrets hidden in the numbers? Dive into an ocean of on-line statistics with our list of resources, and see what you can fish out. http://webreference.com/internet/statistics.html

>JavaScript Resources

So you've memorized everything Doc JavaScript's got to say, you've checked out the new JavaScript.com and... What's that? You still need more JavaScript? Swim through our list of JS resources until you've gotten your fill. http://webreference.com/programming/javascript.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 7. NET NEWS: Microsoft Declared Monopoly, Real Fixes One Privacy Hole, Exposes Another, Web Publishers, Advertisers Square Off on Customer Data, Study Finds Top Firms' Web Sites Error-Ridden, A Web That's Out of This World

>Microsoft Declared Monopoly

If you haven't been living in a cave for the last few days, you've already heard that a federal judge has declared Microsoft a monoply. But the real story is only beginning to take shape: Microsoft is responding publicly to the ruling, and news analysts are beginning to make sense of what this decision really means. http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article/0,1087,3_233431,00.html http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/trial/ http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1003-201-1431262-0.html Internetnews.com, Microsoft.com, CNet.com, 991105-991108

>Real Fixes One Privacy Hole, Exposes Another

Real Networks reacted quickly last week to criticism of its RealJukeBox program, releasing a patch that blocked the software's user identification and tracking functions. Unfortunately this won't satisfy privacy advocates, because as Wired News reports, the company's far more popular RealPlayer software also utilizes user tracking functions. http://www.internetnews.com/streaming-news/article/0,1087,8161_230531,00.html http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,32350,00.html InternetNews.com, 991102; Wired.com, 991106

>Web Publishers, Advertisers Square Off on Customer Data

In a move that may change the way Web Publishers and Advertisers deal with ad clickthrough data, IBM is testing new techniques of serving its ads to Internet users in a way that prevents publishers from knowing who clicked on IBM ads displayed on their Web sites. IBM may then withhold the click data from publishers unless they can be persuaded to do otherwise. http://search.nytimes.com/search/daily/bin/fastweb?getdoc+site+iib-site+62+0+wAAA+ibm%7Ead NYTimes.com, 991108 (free registration required)

>Study Finds Top Firms' Web Sites Error-Ridden

Fortune 100 companies' Web sites are chock-full of errors, ranging from bad links to bad coding, according to a new study. The survey, conducted by programming tools company Parasoft, examined Web sites of 95 of the Fortune 100 companies. It found that these sites had an average of one link error for every three and a half Web pages - and an astounding 12.6 coding errors per page. http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1007-200-1426293.html http://www.thewebking.com/press/releases/webking/for100rep.htm News.com, 991101

>A Web That's Out of This World

Internet engineers are turning outer space into cyberspace, hoping to expand the Internet to other worlds. "By 2030, we hope a stable interplanetary backbone can be established between the planets," Internet visionary Vint Cerf said last month at a White House presentation. Early usage would be focused on robots communicating with Earth, but we're confident that Mars colonists will eventually be able to find spam from home in their mailboxes each morning. http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2389090-1,00.html ZDNet.com, 991105


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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Managing Editor, WebReference.com update@webreference.com

Eric Cook Assistant Editor, WebReference.com ecook@internet.com

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