Text To Speech

Yesterday was so cool, I got a great amount achieved.

About 2 months ago I was flippantly commenting on Twitter that wouldn’t it be so cool if my Twitter rss feed was converted into speech. When I say “cool” I actually mean a total hoot! I’d not have a great need for hearing my twitter friends, I can read them fine, but as it happens, it does turn out to be hilarious. Read on.

A friend suggested (please remind me who that was) that I approach Xfruits and propose the concept to them, so sure enough I did.

After some chats back and forth with Gilles Le Cocguen, and a few beta runs, Gilles has now gone and publicly launched the service and called it Vocalfruits.

The service is awesome, once you have created an account it’s simply a matter of pasting your rss feed into the system, you get options for what type of voice you’d like associated with your feed.

You can hear my twitter feed here (http://vocalfruits.com/Audio/wa3bfd/) Yes depending on when you check and who has posted, you might find it pretty bloody hilarious.

Now of course I probably won’t use this service for my twitter feed, but this did initiate the idea that this is an awesome service for well constructed text, and that’s important, which could be converted into, actually amazingly good, speech.

So I went forth and installed this on http://SLEDucating.com, a Blog concerned with SecondLife academics and other forward thinkers (let me know if you want to join), and of course immediately obtained a podcast by default, albeit a computerised voice. Remember a podcast is simply content pushed down an rss feed.

The way it works on SLEDucating is:

1. SLEDucating rss feed fed into Vocalfruits – new rss feed created
2. VocalFruits rss fed into Feedburner (I like stats). – new feed created
3. Feedburner rss feed added to SLEDucating Blog and a player added from Bigcontact (means people can listen on site)
4. Added Feedburner rss to iTunes (or any aggregator you choose)

This, at least for me, is very useful. I’m one of those people that learn and digest a great deal more if the content is in an audio format. Reading through long Blog posts of text is not my gig, so with this service I can simply grab the podcast from iTunes and listen to the latest content while on the move in the car, train, plane, and other dead time.

There are some glitches which will get fixed I’m sure, I’m also sure Gilles would appreciate the feedback if you get into this.

I love it.

Would YOU use this service, would YOU have a use for this in YOUR life?

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Audana Marketing

Today I’ve launched Audana Marketing a new site, and more importantly a brand, an identity, for the various marketing/branding and online community development I continually get involved with.

Having my fingers in multiple pies means that projects can often be undocumented or rather not “shown-off” in a way that many people, certainly potential clients are not used to, sure I blog some bits and pieces here, but so many people often want a brand to associate their project with, I also feel that this is very important.

So Audana Marketing was born, the name “Audana” is a mash-up between two avatar names from the 3D world of SecondLife, where a great deal of development work has taken place which I have led or been a part of.

Audana Marketing draws, and will draw, on talent from an incredibly diverse pool and often from completely unconnected people depending on each new project requirement.

The current Wordpress theme on Audana was ported beautifully by a new young talented coder/programmer who goes by the name of MagicBug on Twitter.

Comments are encouraged on this, and maybe you will be in on our next project in some way, we all draw on each other and motivate and inspire, share your thoughts and experience it helps.

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Frutte Di Mare

OK so Charles said he needs some new recipe, so this inspired me to blog one. I had blogged this particular one on The Phone Cam sometime ago, but some people need step by step instructions so I thought I would create those here.

This dish is a great great taste IF and only IF you get it right. Frutte Di Mare means Sea Fruits so get your seafood taste buds wrapped around this.

Also bear in mind, like all great cooking, the ingredients change, just like Chinese whispers can change the meaning of text, so feel free to adapt this to your own needs, that’s what I did and do each time. And remember I’m one of those people who use a bit of

OK so you are going to need.

Red Onion
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Moscatel de Valencia (a very sweet wine)
Green Chili
Tomato Passata (tinned toms are fine)

So first take half the red onion and chop it really fine like so:

chopped red onion

The next step is to plenty of the olive oil in a frying pan over a moderate heat and “sweat off” the opinions. The secret here is not too hot, do not burn them but get ALL the water out of them, as in ALL the water, “sweat” them off…

While that is doing you should prepare some water for the pasta which should be as salty as the Mediterranean, so get plenty of salt in there. I usually add a lot of salt, some of you may prefer less than me, but hey I’m a salt nut.

Next job is to “sweat off” the tomatoes, and add a tiny amount of green chili and some capers.

You hear me say “sweat off” a lot in this post, this is vital in lots of dishes like this. Italian food is oil based not water based (this is one of the key areas some people get wrong), you really need to get all that water out.

Have patience take a bit of time (sip some wine while it’s doing).

As you can see in this next pic the water really has ALL gone. Only the ingredient remains with the oil. Looks delicious already, and the tomatoe at this point would have become sweet, if you do not sweat correctly they do not become sweet, they have that sharp taste still.

So now that you have the basic sauce prepared (easy eh), you can get on with washing the seafood.

As you can see I have crab sticks, mussels and squid as my seafood, that’s a good taste and not too strong in flavour, also the texture is good, firm. Most stores sell this in packs, but you can mix this up from a good fish shop.

So next up is that “special touch”, adding some of that deliciously sweet white wine. I like to use dessert wine, very sweet and thick in texture.

Throw plenty in with the seafood and sauce. Again you must “sweat” this down a little, not too much as the seafood will become hard, so don’t add too much.

Pasta should be prepared Al Dente, you know, firm to the bite, do not get it all soft and bloated, it is best with texture. This is another key area some people get wrong. Pasta should be textured, firmish.

Lastly you drain the pasta (DRAIN ALL WATER) and mix together, you should have a dish looking something like mine here.

Note the colours will vary a lot from dish to dish, so don’t worry about that but do take note of the textures and amounts.

And lastly get that wine, and enjoy the delightful taste of Chris Hambly’s version of Frutte di Mare.

I’d love to hear about it if you do try this version, send a comment in.

Have fun and, always take your time, never rush food, cooking and eating is to be made special.

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