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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Mexican Jasmine Rice Recipe by Sandrita

Well as I look about my kitchen trying to figure out something to cook tonight, I've found another one of Sandrita's recetas fantásticas to use - so I thought I would share it on the blog. Never as good as when Sandra makes it though...:)

Mexican style Jasmine Rice

2 cups of Jasmine Rice
2 roma tomatoes (chopped)
½ cup of minced onion
2 tablespoons Caldo de Pollo Seasoning (substitute Bouillon cube)
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon oil
4 cups of cold water

Place cooking oil in a large pan, once oil is hot, put 2 cups of rice stirring constantly until they turn golden, Pour in 4 cups of cold water. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to boil, then cover on low heat for 20 minutes. Fluff up rice with fork, and Voila! Arroz. Muy Rico!!!


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Caramba de dónde vienen los typos?!

I think I've already covered on the blog how I am the world's worst proofreader - substantiated yet again this week! Thanks for sticking with me through some really ridiculous mistakes. There is most certainly a correlation between how late I type the newsletter, and what kind of errors can show up! Another problem I have is that my true love at the moment is development of new technologies - different types of interactivity, new interfaces that make use of emerging online tools, etc. And this is often very tedious work, (I design a lot in Macromedia Flash MX 2004) - where you have to squint to find 1 period or comma that can ruin your entire code. So after working for hours on things like that, text looks relatively simple - and it's easy to forget that errors can be just as deadly in text format!

I guess I'm in search of the perfect language learning solution...and with all of these incredible tools available, I get tunnel vision while pursuing my dream of building the ultimate application. I think these virtual characters will add a fun new element to the e-learning modules - but it's not as simple as just plugging in a cute little character - even finding a high quality voice has proven to be a challenge. Most of the readily available voices are very mediocre and computer-y sounding - and some of the higher quality ones like Loquendo and Scansoft - are not offered as individual units, but rather part of an expensive package. Microsoft actually has a couple of very nice voices licensed from Scansoft in their new Speech Engine 2004 - but the thing won't work with XP Home - ¡double Caramba!

So for now I'm using Acapela's Ana from Spain, and I also have Cepestral's Miguel from Latin America - although his quality is just barely above what I consider the minimum I would use. If anybody has a line on a terrific Latin American TTS voice, drop me a line!


Spanish Directions and Virtual Spanish Speech

Hola all - and happy 4th to all you gringos! I've finally posted newsletter 69, which lightly covers Spanish directions, and introduces an exciting new technology. TTS, or text to speech - is not really a "new" technology, but the quality of the voices has been drastically increased in recent years. Finding good Spanish voices for these TTS engines which drive interactive applications is not easy - I've scoured the net and have only found 1 voice from Spain which I was able to download already - Virtual Ana. Check her out here!


These types of virtual characters can make e-learning a lot more fun, and offer a chance to have instant feedback in Spanish that goes way beyond what you can do with pre-recorded speech. Since AI or artificial intelligence is a bit of a fascination of mine, I am hoping to find ways to incorporate emerging AI and TTS technologies into my language programs wherever possible.

But for those of you more interested in español than tecnología...this week's lesson will be up on the blog shortly.


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