My Interests This Week podcast – Episode 10

In this episode, I talk about my interests in the origins of Christmas Creep, literally giving my voice to a cause, and how I did with Mycroft. This episode covers the week ended November 28, 2020.

Show notes

How did Black Friday come about?

  • History of “Christmas Creep”.
    While it seems like Christmas season has been starting sooner and sooner each year, it has been doing that for decades.
  • Over a century ago, supporters of children’s were encouraging the public to shop early. This was because child labor was frequently used to catch up with sales late in the year.
  • These young people would work 11 hour days, trying to keep up with demand. The supporters of ending child labor encouraged the public so that the child workers (and regular workers) wouldn’t have to work long hours selling, sorting, and shipping gifts.
  • Nearly ten years ago, it looked like the Christmas season started in September.
  • Retailers wanted to start the Christmas season sooner because more people shopped longer.
  • Nowadays, retailers need to get into the black more than ever. The pandemic has screwed them over, and the retailers must get sales up.

Mozilla Common Voice

  • Speech to Text (StT) systems are used in many mobile phone apps, as well as in the call systems of companies.
  • App for Android: CV Android (F-droid and Play Store)
  • Usually, the body of data to train these StT systems (called a “speech corpus”) are proprietary, and can’t be widely used by anyone.
  • There’s the Mozilla Common Voice project, which aims to create a completely free speech corpus for anyone to use, especially in training the acoustic models of StT systems.
    • Speak some text and submit it to this project.
  • I’ve been contributing to this over the past six months. I have contributed over 1,000 voice samples.
  • It’s easy to contribute to this. Download the unofficial app from the Play Store or F-Droid and start speaking.
  • You can register with Common Voice and track how many samples you’ve given. You can even see where you stand amongst other contributors to Common Voice.
  • The submitted clips, if they are accepted, are released under a very liberal license.
  • Great project for helping open source StT systems like Open Sphinx.

Update on using Mycroft.

  • I’ve been using it for over a month. Haven’t used it for much.
  • Since it can’t really do a lot, I have used it for checking the weather, as well as listening to the news.
  • The news part is nice, especially when I’m exercising.
  • I had a power outage, and it knocked the device offline for a while, and so I need to correct it.
  • I haven’t done that, though, because I’ll probably dismantle the device and use the parts for something else.
  • It’s nice having a device which can tell you facts, and tell you the news.
  • But it’s like those other voice-activated assistants: what the heck am I suppose to do with it?
  • I would happily take anyone’s suggestions, because I would like to use it.

Podcast theme by Kevin Hartnell under the CC 4.0 license.

Jason Anderson

Jason Anderson has been hacking up computers for nearly 20 years and has been using Linux for over 15 years. Among that, he has a BBA in Accounting. Look him up on Twitter at @FakeJasonA and on Mastodon on

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