Hey Aaron

Blog Audio: Odiogo, FeedForAll, and TextAloud

iTunes decreases my blog consumption

After all this time, I'm finally blogging again. I think the issue has been the lack of time (other things are more important?) and the lack of motivation (i.e., burning desire).

Oddly enough, I think podcasts have taken me away from blogging. Since I no longer use NewsGator and FeedStation to download podcasts (I use iTunes instead), I spend less time in my news aggregator. Oh, I still consume blogs, and I think that they're still a great innovation, but I'm not using them like I used to.

A twist on blog consumption: Text-to-Speech conversion

One new product that puts a twist on consuming blogs is Odiogo. It's software that will "audify" RSS content to create MP3 audio consumable by your media player or portable audio device.

This is similar in concept to a combination of products I saw a while back: mixing FeedForAll, an RSS publisher, with TextAloud from NextUp.com. This combo allows you to create a "podcast" version of your blog. TextAloud also has other uses for text-to-speech conversion as a stand-alone product.

Odiogo, on the other hand, combines an RSS aggregator with a text-to-speech converter in one product. The price is fairly accessible at $29.99. I may try it. There are some sample audio clips of Odiogo available.

One thing I noticed is that Odiogo seems to offer only one voice (male). TextAloud, on the other hand, offers multiple voice options with a range of sampling rates from vendors including AT&T (Natural Voices), NeoSpeech, Cepstral, and ScanSoft (RealSpeak). TextAloud comes only in a Windows version and costs $29.95.

FeedForAll costs $39.95 and is available for Windows and Mac. They have an interesting set of partners offering complimentary products related to RSS feed consumption, RSS-friendly web hosting, and podcast creation.

Conclusion

I may try the audio blog content option. Unfortunately, most of my podcast solutions involve a lot of manual labor to put it onto my player (my Palm Zire 72 with an SD card). The other downside is that the text-to-speech output can sound somewhat bland, causing me to zone out instead of actively listening. I'll put it on my Someday/Maybe list (GTD).

Don't like "Podcast?" How about "Syndicast?"

Some people are confused about what the term "podcast" really means. While it originally involved a reference to Apple's iPod, the term has expanded to mean much, much more. I heard somewhere that Microsoft was trying to find a way to refer to a "podcast" without calling it a "Pod-cast." "Blogcast" was the substitute I heard offered. However, that was only a rumor.

I think there's a better word, still: syndicast. Syndication and broadcast combined. Jason Dunn of PocketPC Thoughts describes several alternative names for podcasts in his article on Microsoft's site.

The problem with coining a new term and supplanting the old term is difficult. "Podcast" is already a powerful meme. I don't suspect that it will make much difference proposing it, but I couldn't keep a clever idea to myself.

And for another perspective, Chris Pirillo says some people think it's "not important": "This is Simply Smarter Broadcasting."

It's nothing more than Internet radio at its core, folks. It's audio, on-demand, that's easily synchronized with your computer system / portable media device...

Podcasting, or syndicated downloadable content, by whatever name, is definitely here to stay.

Palm Zire 72 camera review

Here's a picture from the camera on my new Palm Zire 72.

What I like about the camera:

  • I can capture pictures when I need to (sort of).
  • I can moblog (sort of).
  • I can take short videos (sort of).
  • I say "sort of" on the above items because the quality is not so great.

    What I don't like about the camera:

  • Taking pictures is slow. You have to be very steady with the camera and wait several seconds for a shot to "take." If your hand isn't totally steady, your pictures blur easily
  • Low light situations cause poor picture quality. The camera doesn't have a light or a flash, so taking a picture inside can be difficult.
  • Sunlight washes out pictures taken outside. Yeah, that cuts down on your optimal picture taking conditions, doesn't it?
  • It's a feature I was convinced I had to have. It was either the Palm Zire 72 with a camera and no WiFi or a HP RX3115 Mobile Media Companion with WiFi and no camera. Now, I think I might have opted for the WiFi instead with all other things being equal (which they never are).

    With WiFi, you can sync wirelessly over the network, surf the Web, and check email. The Palm Zire 72 only has Bluetooth. You can sync over Bluetooth, but I haven't tried it yet because my desktop doesn't have it. The problem that I see is the physical range that is required with Bluetooth. I don't have the specs, but Bluetooth is definitely more localized than 802.11b. My computer is in the basement, and I like the idea of charging and syncing without ever going down there. Oh well, that's opportunity cost, right?

    NPR's RSS feed

    NPR has a "Digital Culture" RSS feed:
    http://www.npr.org/rss/rss.php?id=1049

    Free TUX Magazine electronic subscription

    Nobody is paying me to do this, so don't think I'm biased. TUX Magazine is a sister publication to Linux Journal. I like what I have seen so far.

    (pasted from email)

    TUX Issue No. 3 Now Available: http://www.tuxmagazine.com/node/1000135 --
    This issue is packed with how-to articles.

    Articles in this issue include:

  • Does Linux Play Well with Others
  • Linux Does Windows
  • Letters to the Editor
  • Q&A with Mango Parfait
  • Tux Paint for Kids
  • iPod and Linux
  • TUX Explains
  • How to Install MEPIS 3.3 Simply
  • K3b and Feel the Burn
  • GIMP Chrome and Metal Effects
  • Review: Quasar Accounting
  • Gadget Guy - CES 2005 Edition
  • Review: In Praise of MEPIS Linux
  • Review: Autopackage to the Software Installation Rescue
  • If you've not yet subscribed to TUX make sure to do so today.

    Remember, subscriptions are absolutely free: http://www.tuxmagazine.com/subscribe.

    Podcasting expands my mind

    Ready or not, Microsoft is podcasting. ";->"

    [Scripting News]

    This is exciting. I've said for a long time, that if I could get someone to read a computer book onto audio, that I would listen to it. Sure code samples don't translate to audio well, but a lot of the content could work.

    Podcasting (not just Microsoft's stuff) is a nice substitute, plus you get personality and flavor. You get to hear experts talk about technical topics and provide insights that you might not otherwise get to absorb quickly by reading blogs.

    I'm not trying to pigeon-hole podcasting to technical topics, but this is a great use of it for me.

    Yoda says...Enjoy It You Must

    This Weight Watcher's Smart Ones meal not only instructs you on how to prepare it, it also tells you to "enjoy" it.

    As if I would enjoy it more because they told me to, or that I would enjoy it in spite of its taste because they commanded it.

    Make Magazine Podcasts

    After my rants about podcast content, I thought it might be good to point to O'Reilly's Make magazine's online blog, complete with an audio show podcast feed and del.icio.us links.

    I'm not that much of a geek (electronic construction is beyond me), but Make seems to have a lot of coverage on trends in electronics and technology. You can sneak a peek at how to run Linux on an iPod or a Greasemonkey script that reminds you to "get back to work you surfmonkey!"

    Here's another post about running Linux on an iPod.

    And here's a Make post on running DOS games under Windows XP.

    Thanks to Grady Booch for the Make link. Be sure to read the bit (and watch the video) of the Morse code vs. SMS text messaging contest on the Tonight Show. L-O-L.

    BlogWiki

    Richard Hall over at connexions has started BlogWiki, a wiki about, what else, blogging. There are some interesting tidbits in the works, but much more can be done. Let's help out and contribute to the effort. I've already edited a page, DesktopBloggingClients. Here's a thought, how about some external links to the software mentioned on the wiki?

    I like his comment:

    This wiki has been set up to enable bloggers to share information and advice and provide a forum for the discussion of blogging issues. Of course, this already goes on in blogs themselves, but it's in the nature of a blog that discussions quickly "drop out of sight". On a wiki this doesn't happen.

    (emphasis mine)

    On wikis, the discussion is maintained in the "Perpetual Now" where a conversation is fluid, evolving, and represents the current state of affairs.

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