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...making Linux just a little more fun!
Linux-Based Telecom
By Janine M Lodato

Because the baby-boom generation will soon be the senior population, the market for voice-activated telephone services will be tremendous. An open-minded company such as IBM or Hewlett-Packard will surely find a way to meet the market demand. What is needed by this aging population is a unified messaging system -- preferably voice-activated -- that lets the user check for caller ID, receive short messages, check for incoming and outgoing e-mail, access address books for both telephone numbers and e-mail addresses, and place telephone calls.

Everything that is now done by typing and text will be more quickly and easily performed with voice recognition. That is, a voice will identify a caller, read short messages aloud, provide e-mail services in both text-to-voice reading of the incoming e-mail and voice-to-text for outgoing e-mail, voice access of address books, and voice-activated placing phone calls (and ending them when you're done). Once the users are able to answer, make and end a call using just their voices, working with the telephone will be a breeze and seniors will not feel isolated and lonely. What a boon to society voice-activated telephone services will be. Whether or not users are at all computer-savvy, e-mail will also be an option applied to the telephone. It is, after all, a form of communication as is the telephone. It is a Linux-based unified communication system.

Of great value to the user would be e-mail and its corresponding address book. As e-mail comes in, messages could be read by way of a text-to-voice method. Also of great value would be a telephone system with its corresponding address book and numbers. Short messaging could be read through text-to-voice technology and short messages can be left using voice-to-text methodology.

One of the most advanced and productive uses of such simple Linux-based communication devices is to search the web without going on-line to a search engine. Instead, one can just send an e-mail to Agora in Japan and do multiple Google searches with a single e-mail. You do not even need a browser. For example, we are interested how Linux has been recently doing in the press in connection with the life sciences and medical applications. Just send a single e-mail to a free service such as Agora at dna.affrc.go.jp. In the body of a single e-mail one can put a number of searches. Of course, one can modify the search terms:

Send http://www.google.com/search?q=Linux+press+2003+life*sciences\&num=50

Send http://www.google.com/search?q=Linux+press+2003+medical*devices\&num=50

Send http://www.google.com/search?q=Linux+press+2003+telemedicine\&num=50
Within thirty minutes or so, depending on the time of the day and the load the Agora server is under, you get a number of e-mails back, one for each send command in your email. Each e-mail lists the URLs, accompanied by a one-paragraph review of the corresponding web site, which fits the keywords one has specified in the send command. Then just simply select the reference number next to the URL you are interested in and list them in a reply email back to Agora, and they will send the web page you have selected. Or you can use the deep command to get the entire web-site for the URL. To learn more send a Help e-mail to the Agora server for details.

How productive one can get, but do not abuse these fine services since they are for the researchers. Use it when it's nighttime in Japan: after 7pm on the US west coast, after 4pm on the US east coast, and after 11am in western Europe.

Anything that allows independence for the user is bound to be helpful to every aspect of society.

With the attractive price of a Linux-based unified communication device encompassing all the applications mentioned above, users can be connected and productive without the need for an expensive Windows system.


There's a list of Agora and www4mail servers at http://www.expita.com/servers.html. Two other (less reliable) Agora servers are agora at kamakura.mss.co.jp (Japan) and agora at www.eng.dmu.ac.uk (UK).

Www4mail is a very modern type of server that works similar to Agora. Two servers the author has tested are www4mail at kabissa.org and www4mail at web.bellanet.org. Send an e-mail with the words "SEND HELP" in the body for instructions.


Copyright © 2003, Janine M Lodato. Copying license http://www.linuxgazette.net/copying.html
Published in Issue 88 of Linux Gazette, March 2003

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