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BarCampMadison: KidsCamp

BarCampMadison The idea of KidsCamp is to have kid-friendly activities within a BarCamp event. Since BarCamps are often on the weekend, some of the people who attend have children, and may prefer not to abandon them in favor of BarCamp, so are seeking ways to get them involved. There’s also the idea of getting kids interested in technology, and how we could foster such a thing.

At BarCampMadison3, Scott Fradkin led a discussion about this topic. I sat in on it, as did Bob Waldron (and at least one other person, though I didn’t get his name.) We talked over the idea, and Scott got “elected” to explore it more and try to do something for the upcoming BarCampMilwaukee5.

Here is the audio from the session. (There’s a part in the middle of this audio file where the fire alarm went off. We had to leave the building for 10 minutes during that time. I cut that out because it was most unpleasant. If the topic seems to veer in one direction quickly, that is probably why.)

You can also download an MP3 file if you’d like. (And for our freedom loving friends, enjoy an Ogg file.)

(Related: See the mention of BarCampMilwaukee2 and “Popsicle Sticks 2.0” in this post.)

Also, if you want to get all of the audio automagically downloaded podcasting style, subscribe to the feed. I’ll add in more BarCamp stuff as I get it all edited and published.

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Mac OS X Text to Speech

I recently worked on a project that required making audio files out of text files, which is something I’ve done before, but haven’t done regularly since 2000 or so when I was making cassette tapes of web pages. There’s a simple way to do this using Mac OS X.

Keyboard System Preferences

Open you System Preferences and go to Keyboard and select the Keyboard Shortcuts pane. Click on Services and scroll down to Text until you see Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track and check that box.

TextEdit

Now open TextEdit and select some text and control-click (or right click depending on your computer input device) and you’ll see a contextual menu item for Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track. Select it.

iTunes

Now jump over to iTunes and you’ll see the track. It’ll be called Text to Speech.

M4A audio file

In iTunes you can highlight your track and select the File menu and then Show in Finder (or just hit command-R) and the Finder will open the folder containing your file. It’s an MPEG-4 Audio file (also known as an AAC file) with an m4a extension.

ITunes can obviously convert the file to an MP3 for you, but if you want another format (like OGG) you can use Audacity. You should be able to do whatever you need to do with it from there, (And that whatever you need to do with it bit was the deciding factor for this specific project.)

I was really hoping to use an existing test-to-speech API on the web to automatically generate the audio. Google has an unofficial Text-To-Speech API (go on, try it.) Seeing as it’s “unofficial” and didn’t work in the way I wanted to use it, and there is an awesome group where people ask about APIs and ToS and no one answers, I skipped it.

AT&T also has a great text to speech demo online, which clearly spells out how you can’t use it, which is quite helpful. (Basically you can’t use it for anything public or commercial, which sucks, but I’m glad they come right out and say it.)

There are other options (almost all commercial) including services like iSpeech, which I may look into. There may be some open source text to speech options, but as to how good they are, or how easy they are to get up and running, that is yet to be seen… or heard, as it were.

(Note: I’ve got a follow-up post coming about Mac OS X Text to Speech via the command line.. stay tuned!)

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BarCampMadison: Matt’s Research Paper

The BarCampMadison3 Lightning Talks were awesome! Listen up, and you’ll get to hear “Professor” Matt Gauger discuss a SCIgen paper he created.

You’ll probably love this so much you’ll want to download an MP3. (And for our freedom loving friends, enjoy an Ogg file.)

Also, if you want to get all of the audio automagically downloaded podcasting style, subscribe to the feed. I’ll add in more BarCamp stuff as I get it all edited and published.

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BarCampMadison: My Vegan Girlfriend

While waiting for BarCampMadison3 to start we captured this conversation between myself and my vegan girlfriend. We had quite the talk about the farmer’s market, vitamins, religion, Morrissey, and of course, Veganism.

OK, this is actually a conversation between myself and Vegan Soundboard, an iPhone app that was being controlled by Matt Gauger. We recorded it on the Zoom H2 Handy Portable Stereo Recorder.

I ended up using Convo Droid to record a number of sessions at BarCampMadison3, but I figured I’d get this out first, as it was actually recorded before the official start of the event. Also, it’s funny.

Vegan Soundboard

You’ll probably love this so much you’ll want to download an MP3. (And for our freedom loving friends, enjoy an Ogg file.)

Also, if you want to get all of the audio automagically downloaded podcasting style, subscribe to the feed. I’ll add in the BarCamp sessions as I get them edited and published.

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Convo Droid

Convo Droid

I’m not sold on the name “Convo Droid” but this thing is a friend of Time Lapse Bot that will be used to capture audio at BarCampMadison.

It consists of a mic stand and a Zoom H2 Handy Portable Stereo Recorder which can be used to capture a full day of audio. The idea here is, we put this in session rooms and let it record the discussions so that we can publish them later. It is battery powered, but in order to get a full day of use, we’ll probably need to go with AC power.

(And if you have a better name than “Convo Droid” please let me know!)