Thursday, May 26, 2016

Speech! Speech!

Can I work with Raspbian? That was the question I last posed.

The answer turned out to be "Yes" and "No."

Can I work with it, can I create software that would run on Raspbian? Of course I could. Writing software is what I do. Could I write Havoc for Raspbian? Ah, that was a slightly different question. I went to work on this immediately and found Lazarus.

Lazarus is a Pascal derivative for Unix that is very much like the old Borland Delphi language, which was that company's answer to Visual Basic, which had some success in the 1990s. I had written a few things in Delphi over the years, so finding Lazarus seemed like a dream come true.

I had a couple of problems though.

First, Havoc relied on the Microsoft handwriting recognition API, something that did not exist in Raspbian and something I really couldn't just fake. A key component of Havoc was that there be no external input devices, no mouse and more importantly, no keyboard. This means that you would have to write on the screen with your finger and that writing had to be converted to text. Microsoft is really good at this.

I know what you are thinking, why not just use an on-screen keyboard? Ends up, I do offer that in Havoc. If you don't like the handwriting controls, you can tap a button and the on-screen keyboard will appear, but I didn't want that to be the first option. So I searched and found no handwriting recognition for Raspbian that I could tie in. This does not mean one does not exist out there somewhere, it just means I could not find it in a considered amount of time.

My second issue was that Havoc was not looking too much like Havoc anymore. Havoc was no longer just a touch interface, Havoc would listen when you talked to it. This was handled through the magic of the Microsoft Speech Recognition Library and works pretty well. By this time I had already tied some basic speech functionality into Havoc and wanted to keep it in. I found no real parallel to the Microsoft library for Raspbian, though I bet with a little more searching I could have found something that would work. Only, I could not see the point of continuing to look. I just didn't have faith that Raspbian could handle the work I needed Havoc to do.

So, I put my Raspberry Pi in a cabinet and went in search of another small, powerful computer. Luckily for me, there are a number of them on the market, though I had never heard of them.

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