Speech Central: Web Text to Speech

Once upon a time I used an app called VoiceBrief, I loved it! But it was buggy, often crashing and it never got updated before finally disappearing from the App Store. I have recommended the likes of ‘Capti’ and ‘Pocket’ to learners to curate material and listen on the go (we always have places to go and listening on the go can increase productivity) but I have never come across any app that came close to VoiceBrief, certainly some could read web pages but I never found them able to read from social media and certainly not effectively. Fast forward a few years and I  am commuting more than ever and consuming so much audio media I have been finding it more difficult to access new content having exhausted most material. The app allows you to listen to key headlines and then, when interested, add the headlines as articles to read [out] in full later, with the app highlighting the tezt as it is read out. The app is straightforward and does not have a big learning curve, but what really appeals to me is how much you can customise the app – including the voice and controls.

The developer States that “The app is tested to be accessible by visually impaired users. It has many features specifically tailored to users with disabilities like integrated Bookshare service, support for DAISY books, dyslexia friendly font, many visual settings, keyboard shortcuts for the most of commands available (with various options to navigate the text) in the app and on the iPhone it can be controlled with headphone or Bluetooth hands-free buttons and functions of those buttons can be customized. Combined with the interactive web feature available in the app the latter may make the web much easier to access on the mobile device for a person with eyesight or related disability.”

The ability to skip and add articles via the remote is an excellent feature and really increases the usability of the app.  This is an app that I feel is going to really play a key role in my commute once I return after the summer break, or for anyone that can take the opportunity to consume content on the go and not just for the accessibility benefits the app offers.

Here are the app store pages for Speech Central:

The App Developer has provided me with this product for purposes of providing a personal review and I have received no payment for this unbiased review.

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Bag o’ Tech

portable gadgets

A number of weeks ago I was challenged to write a post about the tech I carry around with me, so here it is in order of least used to most…

Ultra book: This is only a work horse from work and the only thing going for it is that it is light. It’s more a necessity due to travelling around a lot and needing to access work related systems. It’s often dead the next day so it’s charger is always in tow.

Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard: my go to kit when I need to write up a report quickly on my iPad or iPhone. It does not get used enough, it’s a great piece of kit, often I use the keyboard of the iPad.

USB to Lightening Adapter: an indulgence for connecting a USB microphone to the iPad or iPhone.

Lightening Charge Cable: for the iOS devices

Presentation Pointer: for when you have to give presentations but don’t want to be tethered to the front of the room

 

Now onto my must haves!

Samson Go Mic: A fantastic mic that is used regularly to add audio commentary to presentations to support learners with their online sessions.

Headphones: A pair of wired headphones for when I am recording audio on the go with the aforementioned mic.

iPad: my mainstay bit of kit, quick, light, versatile. Reports and emails in the main.

iPhone 6 Plus: need I say anything? My backup when the iPad dies. Messaging and audio in the most part.

Apple Watch: yes a new addition, the pebble has been relegated for DIY so as not to damage my Apple Watch.

Yodo Phone Armband Case

Yodo Mobile Pouch

Having started down the Gym after a long break i needed to update my phone arm pouch, now having the iPhone 6+ I thought this was going to be a nightmare. Thankfully the Yodo Case is perfect and with an added bonus of  an additional pouch for headphones/keys/money. At under £10 I cannot reccomend enough for the larger smartphone. Find on amazon at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00UMTIAEM

Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter (for podcasting)

Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter

Although Apple have had a Camera Connection Kit in the past they have not had one included pass-though power that allows for more power hungry devices to work. In the past devices have either not worked or have required all equipment to be all but plugged together with the final connection being the lightning connector to the iPad, often still displaying a warning message.

The USB speed is only supported on the bigger brother iPad Pro and the adapter does not allow pass-through syncing but not only can you use connected cameras to import photos and videos but you can use it with the iPhone 6 as well, allowing you to plug in…

  • USB microphones, such as the Blue Yeti and the Samson Go Mic
  • Midi Interface
  • USB Ethernet adapter
  • Memory Sticks

For me this adapter is great, I can now throw my Samson Go Mic, stand and pop filter in a bag along with a powerpack (Anker are my choice) and I can pretty much record anywhere with my iPhone 6 Plus!

 

eFair 2015 Resources

The resources from the recent eFair can be found on the events website at http://efair2015.weebly.com/resources.html. I would like to say a huge thanks to Brad Wright @veescope for providing the great Veescope Live giveaways. I have already been approached by a manager who has requested further training and has ordered three green screens for her team!

 

Andy

eFair 2015 Live!

Today is the eFair 2015 @South Essex College, Thurrock Campus. For all things related check out:

 

Andy

Periscope

Streaming is going mainstream with Twitters Periscope, a streaming app that allows for you to title and stream video and audio from you mobile device (both iOS & Android). Followers get notifed of your stream and can comment via text and tap the screen to show appreciation of your content in the form of rising hearts! It’s early days for Periscope but it has already added the functionality of maps to the app so that you can identify stream locations. Other functionality ….

  • Your own streams
    • Provide a stream title
    • Enabling location
    • Restrict to invitees
    • Restrict to followers
    • Tweet new stream
    • Change between front and rear cameras (swipe down)
    • Hide chat (swipe left)
    • Save to camera roll upon completion of stream
    • Identify viewers
    • Identify replays
  • Share watched streams

Currently plans are afoot to “scope” from the upcoming eFair 2015 on the 3rd of July (no necessarily from my Twitter account) #efair2015

I can see in recent weeks that it’s popularity has eased off, my first “scope” had 50 viewers, I’m lucky if I get double figures currently. An interesting video relating to Periscope and its future is worth watching at “The Speed of Outrage: Tom Scott at Thinking Digital 2015“. Whilst I feel it makes valid points regarding reaction times I do disagree with the prediction that Periscope will not be the winner for a number of reasons…

  1. Meerkat was first, clearly stating that Twitters Periscope followed
  2. It is already being further developed
  3. It’s backed by Twitter that have a few pennies in the bank
  4. Twitter was the first “micro-blogging” and seems to have remained relatively stable and the leader (and had evolved since its inception)
  • Will it become as popular as twitter? maybe not.
  • Is streaming going to become mainstream? highly likely.
  • Will something do it better than Periscope? Maybe.

That’s the problem with future tech predictions, they are just predictions. At best they turn out to be right, at worst we laugh at how wrong they were – in the end nobody really cares other than looking for YouTube Clips of Tomorrow’s World and the elusive Hover Car, Personal Jet-pack and Robotic Assistant. For further info see https://www.periscope.tv/

Andy

Ringr Mobile

Recently I was starting to look into recording a long distance conversation, Skype was the most common medium with various recording options but no clear winner. Enter Ringr Mobile for iOS, a free high quality call recording app, where the only effort is to sign up. Once signed up and logged in you can start a new conversation by entering the email of the person you wish to speak to, set a date & time and a message.

Update: Having talked with the developers I have now tried it on a iPhone 5C and the date & time are editable, it is an iPhone 6 Plus (iPhone 6 untested) issue. It is strongly advised to put in the details of the date, time and focus of your recording if using an iPhone 6 Plus as this is the only way your collaborator will know! I am informed an update is on its way, hopefully this will be fixed. 

Once you have sent the invite out you will see a list of initiated requests containing the email address and the time you requested. So to the developers I ask that the initiate screen asks for…

  • Name (emails can be obscure or not well known)
  • Email address
  • Date and time of suggested call (to be set by user iPhone 6 Plus issues to be corrected)
  • Message (topic)

A future feature would be to enable suggested date and time changes from the invitee if suggested timings are not convenient. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic app, the pay-off comes with the fact that you then have your conversation (the invitee receives a code to put into their iOS device) and on termination have the ability to download the audio that comes in four MP3 128kbps flavours…

  1. Mixed (mono)
  2. Mixed (stereo) with one participant on the left channel and the other participant on the right
  3. Interviewer (mono)
  4. interviewee (mono)

The grief that you can save, particularly if you are looking to have captured evidence of a phone conversation for assessment. I hope the developers keep up the great start they have done with this app. Definitely one with huge potential for evidencing and it claims to be is coming to android. Keep an eye out here – http://www.ringr.us/

Update: The Developers recommend keeping app open whilst audio uploads

Andy

Back to the Old Laptop

x-ray of skeleton with heavy bag

This week I finally went back to using my old laptop, not because the surface has not suited my needs, I would not have coped since June last year if this was the case, but because I knew there were files on it that did not exist anywhere else. It was not a smooth process…. the time to log on was horrendous, but I could not believe how heavy the device was – due to carrying just:

  1. the laptop
  2. charger
  3. few pens
  4. presentation pointer
  5. small book
  6. mouse

Its not as if I don’t carry similar equipment with the surface

  1. the surface
  2. charger
  3. 2 stylus
  4. pens
  5. small book
  6. mouse
  7. hub
  8. iphone charger cable
  9. HDMI lead
  10. Spare USB Memory Sticks
  11. Small book
  12. Cleaning cloth

Double the weight at 2.3kg vs 4.8kg, and knowing that I am likely to cram more into my laptop bag I think I will stay with the Surface RT thank you kindly.

 

Andy

 

iPhone Tethering (via Bluetooth) to the Surface RT

blutooth

This week I had the opportunity to finally connect to my iPhone (well I did not really I just did not have local WiFi password when I needed it)

Simply put it is a case of turning on your Personal Hotspot and once your surface picks up your phones name input the password that is set, the problem is this will cost myself £5/Gb. Not something that I want to worry about. Connecting via wire/USB is not an option as you cannot install the drivers required on the Surface RT but you can by Bluetooth…..

Follow instrustions on how to connect bluetooth given by microsoft:

  1. On iPhone turn on Bluetooth (swipe up from homescreen to ensure Bluetooth is turned on, or settings > Bluetooth > on)
  2. Turn on personal hotspot (settings > personal hotspot > on)
  3. On the RT Surface swipe from the right to access the3 charms menu
  4. Select Change PC setting,
  5. select devices,
  6. add device
  7. Accept pairing on the  iPhone and surface as instructed
  8. To allow internet access on the Surface RT go to the control panel > Hardware and Sound > View device and printers
  9. Select the iPhone and you will find that more option appear above
  10. Select “Connect Using” and then click on drop down menu and Select Access Point.

I have found this is sufficient for reasonable access. Don’t expect it to be consistent/stable.

Andy