VocaTalk Personal Podcast v1.0.25

VocaTalk generates personal podcasts that sound like audio documentaries with sound effects and music in the background. You copy and paste any content, select music and effects, generate episodes, and download to your iPod, Zune or any MP3 player.

If the content is too large, VocaTalk will automatically split it into multiple episodes of 50-60 minutes. VocaTalk uses digital signal processing technology to massage the generated speech. Listening to a VocaTalk episode is much more comfortable and fun than raw TTS (text-to-speech) technology, and it integrates with iTunes and Zune directly using podcasting technology. Generated MP3 files are always in CD quality (44.1 KHz, stereo).

There should be an image here!A VocaTalk episode is based on whatever you choose it to be. You just give the content to VocaTalk and choose music and effects. VocaTalk will read the text as it plays the music in the background. VocaTalk will use all available voices installed on your system randomly so you don’t get bored by listening to the same voice, especially during long hours of listening. It’s like a documentary audio that is narrated by multiple speakers.

VocaTalk will leave periods of silence between paragraphs to make the listening experience closer to a documentary. In order to make the listening even more comfortable, keep the focus and attract the attention, VocaTalk uses some sound effects and enhancements in the generated MP3. There are a number of different effects that you can turn on and off.

[Discovered via Download.com]

[7M] [WinVista/7] [FREE (Download VocaTalk Personal Podcast)]

[Photo above by johntrainor / CC BY-ND 2.0]

VocaTalk Personal Podcast v1.0.25

VocaTalk generates personal podcasts that sound like audio documentaries with sound effects and music in the background. You copy and paste any content, select music and effects, generate episodes, and download to your iPod, Zune or any MP3 player.

If the content is too large, VocaTalk will automatically split it into multiple episodes of 50-60 minutes. VocaTalk uses digital signal processing technology to massage the generated speech. Listening to a VocaTalk episode is much more comfortable and fun than raw TTS (text-to-speech) technology, and it integrates with iTunes and Zune directly using podcasting technology. Generated MP3 files are always in CD quality (44.1 KHz, stereo).

There should be an image here!A VocaTalk episode is based on whatever you choose it to be. You just give the content to VocaTalk and choose music and effects. VocaTalk will read the text as it plays the music in the background. VocaTalk will use all available voices installed on your system randomly so you don’t get bored by listening to the same voice, especially during long hours of listening. It’s like a documentary audio that is narrated by multiple speakers.

VocaTalk will leave periods of silence between paragraphs to make the listening experience closer to a documentary. In order to make the listening even more comfortable, keep the focus and attract the attention, VocaTalk uses some sound effects and enhancements in the generated MP3. There are a number of different effects that you can turn on and off.

[Discovered via Download.com]

[7M] [WinVista/7] [FREE (Download VocaTalk Personal Podcast)]

[Photo above by johntrainor / CC BY-ND 2.0]

iPod Clone Invented In 1979?

Before you roll your eyes, consider the images seen in this recent Gizmodo article. While it is worth mentioning that the idea of a music player was available long before Apple released its first iPod, the fact that a digital music player concept visualized in ’79 to the degree that is appears to have characteristics of older iPods is rather creepy.

Digging deeper into this concept, my jaw about dropped when I read about the idea behind how music would be delivered to its users. It again reminded me of today’s digital online music stores, be it not iTunes specifically. What hit me the hardest was the prediction that the music industry could, indeed, be circumvented using digital music stores. In 1979, I’d consider this quite an amazing prediction.

We laugh at the idea of our music being stored on mainframes somewhere, only to then be accessed over phone lines especially considering the limitations of physical storage at the time for anything remotely portable. But wait a second. Tiny, cassette like chips? Why not simply use cassettes? Seems to me that my old Ti-99-4A rocking BASIC was using cassette tapes to store my self-created programs. So does it not stand to reason that it is quite possible that assuming the nightmare that is transmitting music over a phone line is somehow overcome, one could store lossy music to a cassette tape just like we did when I was a kid?

What do you think? Was this guy ahead of his time or simply making a series of lucky guesses?

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Ode To The Sony Walkman

There should be an image here!I am very much a child of the ’80s, with some memories of the late ’70s, even. I remember getting up to change the channel and adjusting the rabbit ears (this is what parents used to call remote control), to begging my mom for a full sized “boom box” so I could be cool like the other kids. I even remember my first pair of parachute pants — how proud I was of my abundance of zippers!

But the one memory from that time that will stick with me always was the “portable media player” known simply as the Sony Walkman. From the beginning, I owned a number of variations of the original. And if memory serves, I think I actually owned one of these monsters at one point. Yet as this BBC article highlights, one man’s cool is another kid’s “stone age memory.”

I have so many fond memories of the Walkman that I can hardly fit them into one article. From being able to operate the portable music device blindly with one hand as I was screaming down the hill, to carrying a backpack full of “copied” cassettes that I was able to get from friends, to scrounging for loose change so I could stay stocked with batteries to power my device. Overall, there are a lot of good memories there.

Copied music? Mind you this was long before the Internet or P2P file sharing. Back then, there was no RIAA “action group” to sue you for copying cassettes. Unless you were selling them, it was a moot issue as not all kids had money to burn on new cassettes. No, the big gripe of the day was still over VHS movie piracy and stealing cable. That is where most of the eyes were during that time. I digress.

The Sony Walkman is definitely a product that shows us just how far we have come. And despite the eventual onset of the portable CD players that came out, I actually hung onto variations of the Walkman during this period simply because they were MUCH less annoying to use while biking. Seriously, let me know how biking down the dirt trails works for ya when you are trying to swap a CD! With the portable cassette decks, all one needed was a fanny-pack and an easy open cassette door on their portable player. The rest sort of took care of itself.

Today, the Sony Walkman is not likely to ever regain any of its former glory. And to a degree, I see it going much the same way as the once famed Atari 2600 home gaming system. But as each of you looks down at your iPods and iPhones, MP3 players, and what have you… remember this. The Sony Walkman was there first and, in my mind, broke ground that no single device in the portable media space has yet to achieve.

While the MP3 player was a very big deal, it hardly holds a candle to blasting Van Halen as you are biking over to 7-11 after school for a Super Big Gulp.

[Photo above by photophonic / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]

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SanDisk Introduces The Sansa slotMusic Player

Tired of the never-ending financial doom and gloom tales in today’s headlines? Let music relieve your mental meltdown — whether it’s through the tried-and-true iPod, or this format, which I predict is going to have a lifespan shorter than that of David Caruso’s movie career:

SanDisk Corporation, a leading seller of MP3 players and flash memory cards, today unveiled the Sansa slotMusic Player, the easiest MP3 player for loading and listening to music on the go. The plug & play, portable music player was specially designed for use with the new slotMusic cards available today in the United States. In addition to the Sansa-branded player, SanDisk has created personalized, branded slotMusic players for popular artists such as Robin Thicke and ABBA. Both types of slotMusic Players are shipping to U.S. stores today – including Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

The Sansa slotMusic Player (MSRP $19.99) was made to play slotMusic card albums or a self-loaded microSD card full of music. The effortless player doesn’t require a PC, Internet or any time spent managing music. Consumers simply choose their slotMusic or music-filled microSD card, pop it into the device and will be enjoying their favorite tunes in seconds.

The unique, artist-branded slotMusic Player is a stylish, all-in-one package, which includes both the slotMusic card and a trendy player bearing their favorite artist’s name and image. The branded player comes pre-loaded with an album on a 1GB1slotMusic card. (Additional content on the card may include liner notes, album art and other one-of-a-kind content personally chosen by the artist.) Artist-branded slotMusic players will retail for a MSRP of $34.99.

Announced last month, slotMusic is a new format of high-fidelity, DRM-free MP3 music on a microSD card, which gives consumers the ability to easily listen to — and quickly swap — their favorite songs among a mobile phone, personal computer, and any MP3 player with a microSD slot. slotMusic cards available this month will feature nearly 40 of the biggest names in music from all four major music labels: EMI Music, SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group. Artists on slotMusic cards include Robin Thicke, Katy Perry and Coldplay. (Media note: see associated press release.)

“With no need for computers or cords, the Sansa slotMusic Player gives consumers more time to play, and less time to worry about managing or downloading their music,” said Daniel Schreiber, senior vice president and general manager for SanDisk. “SanDisk is all about building products that are easy for consumers to enjoy. Just insert your favorite artist’s slotMusic card into the Sansa slotMusic player and press play.”

Perfect for those on the go, the small device can easily be tucked in a pocket or purse, with a weight of a little over two ounces and dimensions of 2.75″ W x 1.4375″ H x 1.4375″ D.

SanDisk has also developed a special line of Sansa slotMusic Player accessories, including a Sansa Card Wallet, an armband, and additional slotMusic player “shells” for customizing a player to one’s own tastes.

In addition to slotMusic cards, this convenient MP3 player can play songs from any microSD card with music encoded as MP3 and WMA (DRM-free only) files. The industry leader in flash memory cards, SanDisk is currently selling microSD cards in a range of capacity with up to an astounding 16GB of capacity. 16GB can hold up to 4,000 MP3 songs2.

The Sansa-branded players ship with a customizable black shell, earphones and battery. The new Sansa slotMusic Player, both Sansa-branded (without cards) and artist-branded (including cards), is expected to be available from retailers in Europe and other regions of the world in 2009.

The Sansa slotMusic Player brings yet another dimension to SanDisk’s Sansa audio/video product family, which includes the popular Sansa Fuze and video-centric Sansa View, both of which accept with slotMusic cards. The Sansa line offers consumers unprecedented choice for enjoying their favorite media on the go through affordable, easy to use, fun & fashionable music players.

More information can be found at the official Sansa Web site.

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11 Things I Would Like To See Added To Songbird

Gnomie Bryan writes:

Songbird, as Chris knows, is an iTunes-like media player with an Internet jukebox appeal. Here is a list of things I think would improve this application. (Note: some things are already in the works.) For the sake of full disclosure I have Ubuntu 8.04 and 512 MB of RAM with a Pentuim 4.

  1. Automatic device recognition — How many times have you plugged in that SD card or USB drive only to find you have to mount it for a one-time use to play Song bird?
  2. An equalizer — Seriously, a kickass iTunes wannabe with no EQ? It’s insane!
  3. Better support for cell phones using SD cards — To get music to my cell phone I have to drag and drop from folders and manually edit the metadata like it’s 2004. There needs to be some sort of SD manager.
  4. Better video support — This flaw isn’t exclusive to Songbird — WinAmp does the same thing. It plays music amazingly then looks at the video and opens a pathetic little window. I know Miro or a Web browser will do just as well, but adding video support could make Songbird the flagship media app in the FOSS world.
  5. Better RSS support — Songbird needs a simple app to subscribe to video/audio/text feeds since it’s a media player.
  6. MTP support in Linux — Sure, this takes effort, but us *nix users have had the cold shoulder for so long — come on! I bought the freakin’ thing; I should be able to control it in Ubuntu.
  7. Improved Flash — You can’t call yourself a media playing Web browser without it. I like the Newgrounds audio portal, so pulling up Flock just to go listen to some GOA trance really sucks.
  8. Media center features — This is a no-brainer. Combine the Web-based media components with FM radio and PVR-like stuff. We don’t think of a border between TV over the air and Web TV like hulu.com.
  9. Stream capture + timed stream capture — Along with Flash support, this could be a revolution. Imagine some video interface capable of scheduling and time shifting or playing online video locally (like Totem in GNOME) or capturing Shoutcast mp3s like that XM mp3 player.
  10. CD ripping/burning with codec support — For a media player to win over iTunes users, it’s a must! Sure, a serious project might require something more complex, but for quick plop in and burn, it’s a good idea.
  11. Extras for audiophiles — I know most of this is OS/kernal stuff or for Pulse audio if you use it, but it needs stuff like surround support, special EQ settings for high end headphones, etc.

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Mobile VS Notebook?

I keep hearing over and over, how the iPhone or perhaps the Blackberry is going to somehow ensure that the dependence on the almighty notebook will soon be coming to an end. To be honest, I just do not see it. Yes, having mobile devices that provide you with access to the Web/email/etc is a tremendous help when opening up a notebook might otherwise be less than possible at that moment. However I fail to see why people get so pumped up about this debate. Honestly, who cares?

At the end of the day, a phone that provides smoother access to YouTube or another phone that gives me instant access to my MS Exchange server is at best, a bonus. It is most certainly not replacing access to my notebook computer when I am on the go. I do not perceive using a phone as anything beyond a communication device to be very practical. And bear in mind I mean both two way and one communications, such as videos.

In my mind, this is the same sort of logic as trying to tell me that a phone with MP3 capability is going to provide the same level of satisfaction as a stand-alone MP3 player – it is utter nonsense. I have no interest in wearing out my phone’s battery and I sure as heck do not wish to attempt to use a phone as as replacement for my notebook, either. Mobile devices are great…as a computing supplement.

What do you think? Hit the comments, share your thoughts.

MP3 Players Are Not Created Equal

Hey, Chris! It’s tonydk2 from the chat room again, and I have a list of things to think about before buying an MP3 player. I myself have many MP3 players and they all have a purpose. One is for school, one is for a phone, and one is for storing all my content. There are many MP3 players out there and if you are planning on picking one up, ask yourself a few questions…

  1. Think about what you will be using it for. Will it be for jogging, walking, driving, or something else? For example, if you are planning on using your MP3 player while jogging, then consider if your pants or jogging shorts have pockets. Will you have to hold it? Then you will either want a strong, well-put-together MP3 player that can withstand the shock when you inevitably drop it, or a clip to attach it to your clothing.
  2. How much content do you have? Be aware that 1 gig holds about 240 songs. If you have 5000 songs, then you will need at least 23 gigs. If you’re planning on storing videos on the MP3 player, then you will probably need even more space.
  3. Speaking of videos, if you’re planning on using your MP3 player for the purpose of watching them, you’ll want a good picture. Some players, like the SanDisk 2.0 gig model, have a less-than-stellar display and only minimal storage space. On the other hand, SanDisk MP3/MP4 players have micro memory card slots for extra memory if desired.
  4. MP3 players are not that expensive. You can get an iPod shuffle for 49 dollars (1 gig) or a SanDisk MP4 player for 80 to 100 dollars. You do not need to spend your life savings on an MP3 player. In fact, if you are a person who just wants something that works and just plays music, then all you need is $30.00 and some change.
  5. Last, what do you want from your MP3 player? Do you want videos, podcasts, or an FM radio? There are so many features that you can get with certain MP3 players, so do your research and make sure your target player is able to do everything you expect from it.

iPod shuffle 1GB MP3 Player 2nd Generation

There should be an image here!Do you remember when the first generation of iPod shuffles were called small? When Apple’s designers were dreaming up the iPod shuffle 1GB MP3 Player 2nd Generation, they had one thing on their minds: how can we make this small and compact 1GB player even smaller? The next step in the shuffle generation is 1/3 the length of its predecessor! Having your 1GB iPod shuffle is like carrying an entire 80-pack CD-case clipped to your belt.

Featuring iTunes autofill which will automatically fill your iPod shuffle with your own or new downloaded music, you don’t even have to pick and choose if you don’t want to. Easy-to-use buttons and a slider switch make the iPod shuffle a player that’s a joy to handle as well as jam to.

Deal price: $49 + free shipping

Any Gnomies have a take on this product? Good or bad, we’d love to hear about it! Comments are absolutely welcome.

Sansa Connect MP3 Player From SanDisk

There should be an image here!The Sansa Connect MP3 Player from SanDisk mates a flash-based memory MP3 player with Wi-Fi connectivity for unlimited media options.

All you need is an open Wi-Fi network and a Yahoo! ID to listen to LAUNCHcast Internet radio. View your photos via MicroSD card or Flickr via Wi-Fi. The Sansa Connect also allows you see what your friends are listening to. The Sansa Connect has a card slot for MicroSD to access even more music and picture files. Listen with the included earphones or the internal speaker.

Special price: $79.95 (after $40 instant rebate) + shipping

Any Gnomies have a take on this product? Good or bad, we’d love to hear about it! Comments are absolutely welcome.

Lowest Prices On iPods And iPod Accessories

There should be an image here!The new iPod nano is the small iPod with one very big idea: video. The world’s most popular music player now lets you enjoy movies, TV shows, and more on a two-inch display.

iPod touch features the same multi-touch screen technology as an iPhone. Pinch to zoom in on a photo. Scroll through your songs and videos with a flick, and flip through your library by album artwork.

With 80GB or 160GB of storage and up to 40 hours of battery life, the iPod classic lets you enjoy up to 40,000 songs or up to 200 hours of video or any combination.

Last, the iPod shuffle. The world’s most wearable music player that holds up to 240 songs that you can take anywhere.

Don’t forget to accessorize your iPod with an armband, case, speakers, headphones, and more.

So the question is, which iPod are you?

The Union Of The Technical And Non-Technical

In the past, it has always been my mother who has stolen the spotlight with her lack of technical knowledge and skills. Her odd questions and comments have been the topic of a few of my articles. However, I recently married someone whom I believe has less technical knowledge and skills than her. I’m still undecided, but leaning slightly more towards my husband after his most recent blunder.

Last Christmas I bought my husband a small, sixty-dollar RCA MP3 player that he could take to the gym. It was a risky gift but I bought the least complicated one I could find. I loaded it up with his favorite songs, explained what it did and showed him how to turn it on, play songs, and turn it off.

Aside from seeing it strapped to his wrist when he left for the gym that was the last I heard about the MP3 player – until last week when my son decided that he wanted to purchase a similar one. I asked my husband to come to the store with me to pick one out for him. My husband’s response was: “He gets an MP3 player before I do? He is only 9.”

Recalling his Christmas gift from last year, I was a little confused by his comment. I proceeded to remind him that he did indeed own one and questioned whether he had lost it or forgotten about it. This went back and forth for a few minutes. Finally, my husband got annoyed and went on to tell me that he did not own an MP3 player. He had an iPod.

Imagine my surprise to know that I had purchased a small, sixty-dollar RCA iPod. Who knew such a thing existed? Needless to say, instead of carrying on with the conversation, I continue to let my husband go to the gym each day knowing he has his iPod strapped to his wrist.

iPod, You Pod, We All Pod…

Ponzi loves her iPod and iTunes integration, but she also hates both the iPod and iTunes.

The iPod is a beautiful, sleek mp3 player. It’s simple, easy, and fun to use. The problem, though, is that the iPod gets scratched, and then it becomes an eyesore. Since it does get scratched you should keep the iPod in a protective case, but most cases are a pain to use all the time, don’t dock easily, and generally don’t look as good as the iPod itself.

On the software end, iTunes is easy to use and listen to music, and it has some great iPod integration. Of course, the problem is DRM: you can’t use the media you’ve purchased in a way you want to. You’re limited to using the songs on your iPod or within iTunes, but beyond that you can’t simply play it on a generic MP3 player.

What MP3 player and music service do you use?

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[tags]ipod, itunes, mp3, audio player, mp3 player[/tags]

I Was Zuned, But I Was Not Impressed

Not that I am in the business of reviewing hardware… but I do get my mitts on a lot of different technology these days. Some work related, some not. I attended a Microsoft event in the Chicago area recently, and had the luck to win a door prize of a Zune media player. I had that brief rush that comes with winning something, but then thought to myself, “oh boy, a Zune.”

I’m know I’m very late in the game on reviewing the player… but I can tell you this: I am not impressed. It was a long and complicated software install, which is a turn off right away. Will somebody please tell me why MS decided to not make this device sync with Windows Media Player? I guess that would make too much sense. I suppose there was so much functionality in the device that WMP couldn’t do it justice… but perhaps people should be given a choice when installing it.

As an example, I’ll use my Creative Zen Vision 30gb media player. I can plug it into any Windows XP PC and have it recognize the device with no additional software required. I can even sync it with WMP, or manually drag compatible files to and from the device in Windows Explorer. Not so with the Zune. You must install the software.

The navigation is much more clumsy than the iPod it is trying so hard to emulate. But I guess you can excuse that because, given enough time with it, one could become proficient. Also — why didn’t Microsoft put a Mini-USB connector on the device, rather than the proprietary connector it currently uses? The connector is really awkward to plug and unplug (on the device end). Not cool. What I do think is cool, however, is how it has the display set up for video — the landscape mode, which gives you a larger screen experience. But that’s about the only positive thing I have to say about it.

So my first, and probably last, Zune will likely end up on Craigslist or at my in-laws’ garage sale.

[tags]zune, mp3 player[/tags]