Archive for the ‘Software’ Category
This morning I outlined some apps I think show interesting trends for the radio and audio industries, and for reference, here they are, with a couple of additions I didn’t get a chance to show.
The first three are all examples of text-to-speech developments. There are many organisations trying to achieve reliable mechanisms to automatically create speech radio.
This takes any webpage or RSS feed and turns it into speech. The computer voice is surprisingly listenable!
Newsbeat adds many more options for customisation and features a combination of computer speech and real human voices to. Weirdly, I find it hard to tell the difference sometimes, not because the computer voices are so good, but because the human voices can be very robotic.
This requires subscription to unlock all the features, but even without a mobile you can get a good idea of what’s it’s like by looking at their website.
Umano is fully human speech. How do they achieve this? The power of crowd-sourcing! You can audition to become an Umano reader, and then upload your finished readings. The users themselves select the stories they think should be turned into audio.
A couple of examples of content companies who have looked at the trends in online music listening and are seeing how they can use those in speech radio.
NPR diligently tag all their live radio and their app creates a live-sounding news and current affairs station. You can tell it what you like, it will start to give you more of that. I like it a lot.
It doesn’t have the personalisation features of NPR, but if you want programme segments, rather than hour-long chunks of radio, this is a nice way of doing it.
Storytelling with audio at the core
Operation Ajax – a comicbook-style docustory. Listen with headphones. I would happily plug in and spend hours going through, not just the story, but all the supporting material as well. An excellent example of genuinely multimedia storytelling.
Vio, is a live vocal processor for iOS. Headphones are a must. Hate the sound of your own voice? You won’t with this!
There must be many other interesting apps for audio and radio, if you know of others that you think are progressive or innovative, do let me know in the comments 🙂
While rummaging in the back of my odds and ends drawer today, I came across my old Palm device.
Welcome back to 2001! Palm called this a ‘handheld computer’, although I think I thought of it as a digital diary. I put in a couple of AAA batteries and it powered straight on (no proprietary batteries or connectors – yay!).
The m125 had a 33Mhz processor, was the first Palm to include an external memory card. It sold for $250 thirteen years ago, about the cost of a top-end Nexus 7 or a mid-spec iPhone 5S today.
The memory card in mine was still in place and still had applications installed!
Let’s see what we have:
AK Mirror: Could turn your palm into a torch. Maybe on a different model. This has no camera, no flash and a black & white screen. AKeysoft now nothing more than an abandoned WordPress page.
Avantgo. Now part of Sybase and appears to be some kind of mobile content pushing system, if it’s even still being used. That’s a shame. Avantgo was the RSS and Instapaper of its day.
And a couple of games. Dopewars is basically a free-market simulator. It’s still around online, and mobile. Here’s the Apple version with modern graphics, and an android version that’s much closer to the original.
And just to prove the thing does work, here’s me playing Hardball (a version of Breakout)
Not so exclusive anymore.
If you’re one of the people who got a free year’s subscription to Skype Premium as part of the Christmas collaboration offer, and are congratulating yourself for saving over $100, then hold on! It might not be as great a deal as you think.
Skype are about to make some big changes.
First the ‘Collaboration Premium’ freebie doesn’t include any free phone calls to real phones (one of the main parts of Skype Premium), the other important part, group video calls is about to be offered free to everyone anyway.
Skype is also ditching both the 12-month subscription offer (with its 50% discount) and the 3 month version.
Here’s part of the email reply I got from Skype when I enquired where the 12 month option had gone.
The reason behind these changes is that Skype will soon include Group Video Calling for free for those users who will link their Skype Accounts with MSA [Microsoft account]
I’m guessing this means if you have a hotmail, outlook or live.com email address.
So, if you’re about to buy or renew your Premium account, might be worth waiting to see if you can do with just Skype Credit (which is 30% off at the time of writing if you buy a git card)
I’ve been experimenting with hacking Android phones recently, either to extend their functionality, or to circumvent mobile phone companies’ annoying blocks.
This post is really just to detail what I did, with the aim of providing useful reference for others doing something similar. It took ages searching forums and other blogs to find a correct set of steps to do this, so hopeful I can shorten the time it takes the next person.
My first effort with this was with an old HTC Wildfire I’d bought from a friend for about £60 (cheap enough not to matter too much if I inadvertently turned it into a paperweight), I was to realise that this was not an entry level task.
Normally hacking an Android phone has three basic steps:
1) Find the vulnerability that allows you to become a superuser.
2) Become a superuser (getting root access)
3) Add all the software you want that the manufacturers didn’t necessarily intend.
In many cases, gaining root access is a well-practised function, that some developers have even packed up into a handy piece of software that does step one and two for you. UnRevoked is a good example for a selection of HTC handsets.
S-On / S-Off
Annoyingly HTC have a security setting to prevent you doing this, which leads to the additional step at the start of removing this (S-OFF). Turning it off should normally be simple, again it’s been done so many times that there’s some software which perform all the steps for you, in this case, Revolutionary will do it.
Except it didn’t work for me because the firmware in my phone was too recent and there was no way to hack it to turn S-OFF. I had boot version 1.01.002, and Revolutionary only works with boot version 1.01.001.
So now I had to downgrade the boot software to the earlier, hackable version. This alone was fiddly and time-consuming, and by far the best instructions for doing so are in the Aritrasen blog.
So after all that, only now, was I in a position to begin the superuser process.
Only I then discovered that there was another stumbling block. The superuser exploit only works on Android 2.1 (Eclair) and my Wildfire has already been upgraded to Android 2.2 (Froyo), and I had to downgrade that as well (keep following the Aritrasen guide, don’t skip that step, it is not optional).
OK, now I could finally start at step 1, above! Happily the rest of the process was simple and done for me by the software packaged listed. At this point I chose to use CyanogenMod rather than standard Android as the phone’s operating system because the Wildfire will only support 2.2 (Froyo), but with CyanogenMod 7, it effectively becomes a 2.3 (Gingerbread) device.
It takes a lot longer to boot now than it did (boot screen picture at top of post) and actually pretty much everything about the phone is slower, especially if you want to use Swype, or Opera, but that’s what happens when you start to push the hardware to its limits.
However, I now have the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve made my phone do something it shouldn’t really be able to do, I have a more technically capable Wildfire handset than most other people, and it’s my first play with an Android (ish) phone! Smiles all round 🙂