Tech News and Commentary
Dave and the team discuss Alexa’s birthday, Lime’s battery problems, anticipated holiday spending, a liquid that can store energy, an exchange program parking spaces, and more.
Larry in Metamora, Michigan listens mostly to Podcast, but also on AM800 CKLW – “The Information Station” and asked: “Do you know of any good programs that you can use to take the text of a work manual and convert it to speech, so the end user can listen to it on an Android phone while they’re commuting as opposed to reading the text itself.“
Larry, if you’re looking into turning a single manual to speech one time rather than doing this a lot, you may be better off using a free online translator.
There are some that don’t have tight limits and will let you translate long texts and they’ll just turn them into an MP3 that you can then load onto any device you’d like.
If you’re open to trying that, you can give fromtexttospeech.com a shot, or text2speech.org (assuming your manual is less than 4000 characters).
naturalreaders.com may be your best option if the manual is long. They limit free use of their premium voices to 20 minutes, but their non-premium ones don’t have a time limit. They also allow you to update a wide variety of file formats rather than forcing you to paste the plain text in.
Keep in mind that text to speech often falls short in some areas that may make it a poor fit for a work manual. For example, it won’t be great for reading tables, and you may read a lot of “Figure 2: The correct assembly” without knowing what figure 2 looked like.
The other clear downside is that robotic voices are really hard to like. We have smart assistants and text to speech, but we still hire live actors to read our audio books for a fee. It’s really hard to sit there for hours listening to a clunky voice with an unnatural cadence. That’s the reason premium voices like the ones from naturalreaders.com go for more money, but even those are usually not great. Siri, Alexa, and all the other voice assistants sound reasonably good, but would you want to listen to them droning on and on for hours?
Holland in Block Island, Rhode Island listens Online and asked: “I’m looking for a simple program — OTHER THAN WordPress plug-in — which will:
1. Create a login-or-register (name + Email) form (including “Forgot password?”);
2. Database or Email me registrants’ name/Emails;
3. Send successful logins to a link I create.“
This one is going to be a tough one. Logins are mostly handled either via content management systems or custom solutions there are few plug and play solutions that will work with any page.
Auth0’s Universal Login may work for you. It will manage passwords, store them securely, allow you to use 2FA. It may even be overkill, but it has free plans as well as inexpensive $13/month plans, so it may be a good place to look.
The bad news is that you won’t find many more drop in modules like that that don’t use a larger CMS. Managing your login without transitioning to a content management system may prove to be a little bit of work. You will have to salt your passwords and store them securely in a database, and make sure your implementation remains relatively safe from exploits.
The WordPress alternative to that is to update to a newer version like you do with anything else, so you’d have an easier time keeping your user’s data safe from prying eyes.
If you’re willing to build your own solution, you should be able to find tutorials online for just about any serverside language you’re using, but try to be extra careful with directory access, with how you encrypt your data, and how you store, it’s easy to get compromised if you’re not sticking to the recommended best practices.
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