Some years ago, I was downloading books from Project Gutenburg. I had finished couple of Masters degrees and a few years before had decided not finish off my doctoral dissertation. Nevertheless, I have retained this love of literature. Then, I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool to have my computer just read the books to me while I am coding like a madman?" It's like getting audio books for free. So, I hunted around and found this small company that had messed with the speech API and created a little program that would let me load texts and it would read them to me, in pretty decent voicing. Since then, I have used this program frequently as it has gone through updates.
There are two primary versions, a free one and a more full-featured one (check it all out here: http://readplease.com/. The most recent version, ReadPlease Plus 2003, is pretty slick, and you can get these AT&T natural voices. The free one is fine, but if you get into it, the low price they charge is well worth it. They have also expanded to introducing a new product that puts a reading bar in IE so that you can have any Web page read to you.
Here is ReadPlease Plus 2003 reading the work of one of my favorite poets, Baudelaire (the highlighted word is where it was at in reading):
Yes, that's right- it reads French, too! (and Spanish, Portugese, Italian, German, and even the Queen's English [it's a Canadian company]).
What I want them to do, and we have discussed it on the phone, is expose their app through an OM. They are doing some neat things with the speach API, but it would be great to be able to manipulate their app through a slick set of APIs. They do provide some commmand-line options for startup, but it is pretty weak on that front. Great app, though.
Rock thought for the day: Paid for and downloaded licensed copies of a load of Chuck Berry tunes yesterday from Walmart's site. Great, great music. Folks, now that you can get songs for 88 cents each, and you can choose ONLY the songs you really want, AND you can burn your own CDs etc., etc., etc., there should be no illegal song piracy going on. The industry has made it awfully convenient to be honest at this point.