Hey, it could happen… (heheh)
Archive for the ‘Alex’ category
I use that term very loosely these days. A good portion of what I do in my day job is, in fact, sales and marketing. The other portion is more “evangelizing” what the not-for-profit association I work for has to offer. Salesy? To be sure. But, it’s more awareness, branding and thinking a bit outside the box more than anything else. A lot of the time I find myself doing the equivalent of ringing the dinner bell and opening the door. That dinner bell is an important catalyst and forms the basis for a book I’m in the process of outlining for eventual publication.
So, enough of that. Back to email marketing… I’m fortunate in that the day-job allows me a great deal of latitude to try things (first the corporate podcasting thing for instance, RSS feeds, blogging, etc). The environment I work in is very much a scientific one encouraging experimentation, analysis and follow-through. I had thought email marketing was going to be a bust for us in all honesty. Quite the opposite happened. In fact, if you’re interested in what I’m up to by day… drop me a comment with your email address and I’ll include you in the emailing in the next few days (don’t worry, I won’t publish your email address anywhere and it will be just this one email). See… I announce the availability of our peer-reviewed journal every month. We’ve cut the printing by about 2/3 on the circulation saving a gob of money on printing and postage in the process. It became necessary to “remind” people when the new issue came online. Otherwise, many of them forgot to check what was in the latest issue. Taking it a bit further though, I’ve been adding audio abstracts of the articles in the Alex Voice from Leopard. And, guess what!? They’re being listened to on a regular basis. Know this due to web analytics (which I’ll talk about more in a later post).
Remember, if you’d like to receive the next emailing of the announcement… just comment (and trust me, I won’t publish your comment/email addy anywhere).
I’ve worked for this not-for-profit Association now for six years. Some people might get the (mistaken) impression NFPs are backwater or risk averse. My thinking is that’s plain rubbish. They’re what you make them.
I’m fortunate in that our executives are tinkerers and scientists… ie, not risk averse. They try stuff just to see what happens by their nature. So, when I came out with the first corporate podcast out of sleepy little Tulsa… there was an instant appetite revealed within our Association’s membership for more innovative stuff. We hopped onto RSS shortly after that. And most recently we’ve been circulating the abstracts of our peer reviewed journal as machine read text using none other than the voice of Alex.
A LITTLE BACKGROUND
My granddad, Dave, was a terrific man. He passed away while Michelle and I were honeymooning in Puerto Vallarta (was that really 1991!?). He was every ounce a pioneer, bush pilot for Phillips66, and an all around amazing ham radio operator. When his eyesight failed him in the late 1980′s he began listening to his journals and periodicals on audio tape. His eyes and fingers couldn’t do what he wanted. But, his brain kept up with every development in his areas of interest.
So, it was natural for me to think of Grandpa Dave when Steve Jobs announced and demo’d the Alex voice at WWDC ’06. The Association has an aging demographic. Many of whom can’t read what they receive in the mail due to poor/failing eyesight. We also have a burgeoning younger demographic who consume VAST amounts of digital stuff. Alex came at just the right time. I’ve been recording the abstracts from our journal for over a year now. People LOVE it.
I simply wish there were more voices. For those who feel similarly… there IS Cepstral. But, their distribution licensing killed the go forward. I’m a bootstrapper by nature and couldn’t bear the idea of paying for something when an equally good, free alternative was available.
There are some people asking… how’d you record that nifty Alex voice?
First, it’s built into Leopard. You don’t have to purchase anything. Don’t get tricked into that one.
Second, be prepared to learn a very little bit about Terminal (if you can copy and paste… you can do this).
If you want Alex to read something to a file do the following in Terminal (but don’t type the quotes):
“say -v Alex Hello. My name is Alex. -o ~/Desktop/Alex.aiff”
What that will do is invoke the Alex voice to speak the sentence above and store the output to a file on your Desktop named Alex.aiff. You can now import that into iTunes and then export it to an MP3 (or whatever filetype you like).
Now, if you want Alex to read an entire text file simply do this instead:
“say -v Alex -f ~/PathTo/File.txt -o ~/Desktop/Alex.aiff”
Where the Path to file is literally where the file resides on your Mac running Leopard. Again, it will store the output to a file named Alex.aiff.
Don’t know if you’ll remember during one of the early keynotes Steve Jobs is really excited about the new voice technology coming in Leopard. Rightly so. The new voice is called Alex. It’s awesome. I really, really like Cepstral’s voices. But, they’re expensive to buy licenses to distribute rendered file off of. So far, it looks like files rendered in Alex’ voice will be freely distributable.
I think this may be one of those rare instances where I’m not really sharing anything that hasn’t already been known. I’m just doing it in a way that wasn’t done before… Does that make ANY sense? (Hope it washes with Apple Legal. But, if not… guys, call me at +1 918 813-9745 and I’ll give you an email addy for the official takedown.)
I’ve also posted a how-to since Leopard launched last Friday.