Jingle all the Tech

This was column was supposed to be a slam-dunk piece on a fascinating technology with thought-provoking applications in a customer service call centre environment.

NICE Systems – and no, I don’t know what NICE stands for – has developed emotion detection technology to monitor call centre traffic for customers beginning to fly off the handle by keeping an eye (ear?) out for increasing decibel levels and unflattering language. The goal is to escalate calls to a supervisor more quickly and save your angry phone calls digitally for further analysis.

Unfortunately, while my call is important to NICE Systems, all their operators are busy at the moment. (I shouldn’t joke – the official reason given for canceling the interview was an unforeseen emergency.) This leaves me considerably short of my contractually obliged 550 words, so hold my hat while I try to pull random, peripherally related things out of it.

TECHNOLOGY WE COULD REALLY USE: Take NICE’s monitoring technology; add to noise-canceling headphones; et voila: a Christmas Carol Eliminating Headset. Song lyrics such as “Christmas,” “Noel,” “Holly,” “Jolly” and “Merry” would automatically trigger a synchronized phase-reversed signal to cancel out the offending drivel. In particularly carol-intensive environments – say, shopping malls and office building lobbies – the headset could substitute a digital recording of something less-calculated to set your teeth on edge, like incessant jackhammering.

SPAM QUANTITY UP, QUALITY DOWN: Whining about the volume of spam we receive is getting us nowhere – we’ve been doing it for years now, and all it gets us is a fuller inbox. But perhaps we can prevail upon spam artistes to at least work on the quality of their efforts. I mean, from most subject lines, I can’t tell if someone’s trying to sell me a watch, manhood-enhancing patches or low-price pharmaceuticals. The spelling and grammar are appalling; the design is reprehensible. Put some work into it, dahlings – make us feel like we’re worth the effort. A little HTML and some tasteful graphics would go a long way. Your subject line should give a clear indication of exactly what I’m deleting. And would it kill ya to run a spell-check?

SPEAKING OF WHICH: Why the sudden spike in Russian-language spam? At least I assume it’s spam. I can’t read Cyrillic and my grasp of the language is limited to muttering “moose and squir-rel” like Boris Badenov in an old Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon. I may be misjudging the e-mail by its cover line, though; a recent missive was apparently offering “HIDRAULICS, TECHNICS, PNEUMATICS,” which is a far cry from C!alis and duplicate Rolexes. If, in fact, you’re in the market for such devices – the hydraulics, not the Cialis — visit www.vsedetali.ru.

LINUX COMMUNITY THIRSTS FOR INFORMATION: Can’t find any details on the 2006 Linux Beer Hike (or, more officially, LinuxBier Wanderung). A summer tradition since 1999, the hike sees the open source community trekking through hop-friendly corners of Europe – last year, in Killin, Scotland – for a week, hiking the scenery, visiting local bars and restaurants, enjoying pot luck dinners and the like. Any details would be welcome. I have selflessly volunteered to represent IT Bidness in the past, but I can’t get anybody to sign off on the expenses.

We appreciate your interest in NICE Systems’ emotion detection technology. Please hold for the next available columnist. Hopefully, we’ll be able to discuss it next week.

Dave Webb is special projects editor for IT Business Group

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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
A journalist of 20 years experience in newspapers and magazines. He has followed technology exclusively since 1998 and was the winner of the Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in the eEconomy category in 2000. (The category was eliminated in 2001, leaving Webb as the only winner ever.) He has held senior editorial positions with publications including Computing Canada, eBusiness Journal, InfoSystems Executive, Canadian Smart Living and Network World. He is currently the editor of ComputerWorld Canada and the IT World Canada newswire.

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