So I’m having some eye trouble at the mo – I’m constantly getting dry eyes, so that I have to limit my time reading and at the computer; I’ve already got through three tubes of carbomer gel in the last week.
So I thought I’d explore the possibility of text-to-speech (TTS) stuff, so that I can at least keep myself entertained through my ears – even watching TV is a strain. First stop was my Kindle Fire; deep in the settings, I discovered an option for turning on TTS software for TTS-enabled books. I was delighted, as I have several e-books half-read or waiting to be read. But, o dear, when I tried it out….
The software is technically very slick – it was quite hard to immediately tell that the pleasant-sounding American woman speaker wasn’t human. A mere minute or two of listening, however, and it was obviously mechanical. The speech rhythm was arbitrary and didn’t correspond to the text rhythm – there was the same length of pause between paragraphs, sentences and words, and no longer pauses for taking a breath; the tonal range was narrow, with no emphasis or inflection placed where it was obviously needed; the American pronunciation was jarring. That last was especially irritating as the text I was testing it on contained several instances of “apparatus” and the drawn-out middle syllable was making my teeth ache; it was fortunate that there was no mention of “aluminum” as well, as listening to “the appa-RAHH-tus was made of ah-LOO-min-um” would have had me breaking something. It was also fortunate that I was testing it on a rather dry history book (dealing, in that chapter, with “state apparatus”); I don’t want to even think about how Amazon’s robot would read out a British thriller novel.
So I looked at what was available in human-read books; voice actors are passionate about doing justice to an author’s writing. Going to audible.co.uk, I made a pleasant discovery – an extremely wide range of books, together with a no-strings offer of a free audiobook on signing up for a free months trial. An offer too good to turn down! So I signed up and went to download my free book. It was Ian Rankin’s Standing In Another Man’s Grave; having got it out of the library and then finding myself unable to read it, I was looking forward to spending several evenings listening to Detective Michael Jardine’s smooth Scottish tones narrating it.
But, of course, there was a snag. Since Amazon owns Audible.co.uk, I was expecting that I could download their audiobook straight onto my Amazon-owned Kindle, as I’d done with my ebooks. Amazingly, though, it appears I can only get an audiobook onto a Kindle by downloading it onto a PC and transferring it via a USB cable. Now, my Kindle had of course come with such a cable – but never having had to use it, I’d thrust it away somewhere and forgotten it. And could I find it again? Hah!
So here I am, waiting for a new cable to arrive and wishing desperately that my eyes would just sort themselves out.
…Toothache still continues. It’s actually a bad gum infection -copious rinsings with antiseptic mouthwash give some relief. The main effect is that I can’t eat anything without pain.
Oh well, I needed an incentive to diet anyway.
So this morning, I got out of bed feeling like c**p – headachy, sinuses stuffed up, tired and aching. I’m waiting for an appointment to see an ENT specialist about my chronic sinusitis, but that will take weeks.
So I needed some cheering up. And I think I’ve managed it. Going through my emails, I found a Twitter notification that I was now being followed by somebody who described herself as a “Crystal Skull Explorer” (her capitalisation). Looking at her Twitter account, it was clear that she wasn’t exploring in the scientific sense.
I have no idea why such a person would decide to follow me. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned the subject on Twitter; and in fact, I haven’t used Twitter for months (like Facebook, it was taking up far too much of my time). Wondering what to do about this follower, it struck me that I could put my Twitter account to some good use. It took me only a matter of minutes to find this article and tweet it, with an ambiguous description so that she would at least click on the link and read some of it..
That felt quite satisfying. Then I turned to my blog feed and immediately found a link to this wonderful comic strip. It incorporates everything I feel about science and the world of learning. So I tweeted that as well.
The Crystal Skull Explorer probably won’t read it, but you never know. But now I feel cheered up – I’ve done my good deed for the day.
It’s been three months since I last posted here, and even that was a bit of an effort. Well, I’ll try to post more often.
I’m still busy; not only trying to get the 2013 Elfin Diary finished in time but also struggling to tidy up the Astrological Association website – I’ve been appointed the webmaster. And not succeeding too well at either task….
I’ve had eyesight problems, a side-effect of of a new anti-inflammatory painkiller I started in February. It worked marvellously and I felt healthier and more energetic than I’d done in years; but after the first month my eyes started blurring and drying up, to the point eventually where I couldn’t look at a computor screen, or read, or even watch TV for long. So the painkillers had to go and I’m back with my aches and pains and stiffness and tiredness and permanent general urghness.
I’ve been posting quite a lot on Facebook*; being able to post interesting links and short snippets seems to suit me better than writing lengthy blog posts these days. Also, it’s good for keeping up with family and (real) friends. But every now and then, I chafe at the length restrictions of FB posts and think that I should maybe use my blog instead. Something else that makes me feel I should post less on FB is that there are a small but annoying number of people on my friends list who post either endless pictures of unicorns and fairies and glurgy sayings (I’m sick of being told I need to dance in the bloody rain!) or lunatic US political rants, or inane witterings about their cute pet dogs. A good interesting discussion is much more to my liking.
*I don’t use my real name on FB, so if you want to friend me there, email me; however, if I don’t know you in real life, I probably won’t accept your friend request. Especially if I think you’re the type who likes to post endless unicorn pics and glurgy sayings, lunatic rants, or inane witterings about your cuddly pets. If you think you’re not that type, then give it a go!
Wow – haven’t posted anything here for nearly two months. Best get writing then.
Like I said before, the month before Xmas was madness here, with Elfin Diary orders coming in all the time. Now the rush is over, I can sit back and analyse the mistakes. The print bill was more than I anticipated – that was my error, I hadn’t clarified things. Not a big problem – I’ve covered all my costs and even made a small profit, but I’m going to have to raise prices. Having been thrown into the deep end and knowing nothing about pricing, I simply used the same prices that Caro had been using for at least three or four years.
Of course, I have to be careful with raising prices, especially in these times – put them up too much and people won’t be able to afford them, keep them low and I’ll be left out of pocket. So, at the moment, it’s a bit of a guessing game.
Another mistake I made was to think I could sell all the Diaries myself. It now turns out that Caro had supplied shops all over the country – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told “I’ve always bought my Diary in XYZ shop, but they don’t have any this year”. But of course, without her list of shops I had no idea. This time, it will be different; I’m compiling a list of New Age shops and will be leafleting them all come August.
A smaller mistake was not noting the date of posting on each order form; a number of Diaries went AWOL in the post and weakly telling people “Er, I’m sure I posted it sometime last week…” isn’t good business. So a cheap date-stamper will be on this year’s shopping list.
Finally, this year the 2013 Diaries will be ready for sale in September! (Won’t they, John? :D)
It’s a lovely sunny day out right now but I daren’t go out walking. My ankle has been bothering me for weeks – Doc G says it’s probably a strained ligament, and he’s probably right (it started when I bought a new pair of boots) but it doesn’t seem to be getting any better; everytime I stop taking my daily dose of paracetamol the aching and twinging comes back. So I’m pretty much stuck indoors for the time being. Luckily the weather has been pretty awful most days. Good job, I suppose, as I have to get the 2013 D finished before May.
So, best to stop procrastinating, and get on with it!