Tools I Use: Text to Speech

text to speech

Disclosure: Links to other sites may be affiliate links that generate us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Previously, I wrote about dictation and transcription services I use for speech-to-text.

Now imagine getting anything on your computer read back to you.

There is a little-known tool available on most computers called text to speech.

Why do I use this little-known tool meant for accessibility? I am not illiterate nor blind, but I do use this often because my ears are available more than my eyes are.

This is the same reason I listen to audiobooks and podcasts. Ears can take constant input. Eyes are needed for many things to see around you, guide you and also read.

If I need to “read” an online article, email or document (like an ‘exciting’ contract), this will read aloud all text as-is. Your computer may have multiple voices to choose from to read this text Verbatim.

  1. Find ‘text to speech’ in your system preferences.
  2. Select a voice you want to read the text and the rate of speed for the machine to read it to you.
  3. Memorize the hot keys to hit to activate this function
  4. Select some text on your internet browser or within a document.
  5. Hit the hot keys.

It will read just about any text to you so you don’t miss it.

Yes, you can control the rate of how fast or slow you want text read to you.

I use this text to speech to do the first passes of editing and proofreading of my eBooks.

Audio is faster than typing or reading (I speak fast too). This is the same reason why I recently adopted and use an Amazon Echo Dot. I can ask Alexa any of its 15,000+ different ‘skills’ which includes continuing an audio book from Audible.

Some apps call it ‘read aloud’ feature. Adobe Acrobat has this feature to read PDFs back to you as well.

Have you tried using text to speech to save yourself time?

Questions?

Tools I Use: Competitive Intelligence and Analysis

Disclosure: Links to other sites may be affiliate links that generate us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

As a startup advisor, I speak to dozens of startups per month. Competitive Intelligence and Analysis is one of the biggest gaps in knowledge for many entrepreneurs. They do not understand who their competitors are, how to find them, plot them, track them and understand how they differ until it is too late (and eat their lunch in front of them).

The competition did not just go away even if you think you don’t have any because you are in a new market or pushing new product/service. It should not be ignored before starting any venture or project. In fact, before I start any project I look at the competition so I can understand it, find their strategy, strengths, weakness, opportunities, and tactics (SWOT).

Rather than going on a 2000 word rant like I have in the past about how I do this and why you should too, I thought I leave it up to you by simply sharing a few books which can help you research this yourself since you have to do your own homework for your projects and ventures.

While many of the books on this topic out are amazingly out of date, there are a few books about this in the modern business world:

Questions?

Tools I Use: One Calendar

calendar-1559935_1280

Disclosure: Links to other sites may be affiliate links that generate us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Time

How many sets of 24 hours do you have each day?  One 

So why should we use multiple calendars for scheduling all of our events?

Segment your time between work, personal (alone), family and friends with your schedule.

Yes, you can schedule your family and friends unless you find another 24 hour period per day.

Everyone has 24 hours per day, 1440 minutes per day and 168 hours per week.

What do you do with your time?

How do you use each hour of your life? Too many don’t care and waste it.

We are either productive or not.

We move the needle toward accomplishment or not.

We move the needle toward our own fulfillment or not.

I believe if I did not accomplish something every day, the day is wasted and that is hurtful to at least one person. You.

Even if I am sick or on vacation, that is not an excuse.

Track your time

How many calendars and scheduling tools do you use to track your time, all your meetings (personal/professional), all your calls and everything else in your day?

I know too many people who use nothing for their own personal schedule and a work schedule applied by their workplace. That is not time tracking nor time management.

Without time management,  we create excuses like “I am so busy” or “I don’t have time”.

The fact is we choose how we spend our time. We choose when we get up and go to bed. We choose when we eat. We even choose when we go to the bathroom.

There is plenty of time management advice about focusing on 1 thing or top 3 things per day.

I take a different approach.

Use one calendar for all of my time. Google Calendar follows me everywhere for all of my time.

Thoughts on Paper

Forget paper calendars. I know too many people who repeatedly lose their little agenda or don’t even travel with it.  Which makes it a useless afterthought.

Hanging in my office is a really nice, big paper wall calendar which was designed by the late Massimo Vignelli. It is very nice decor, but I do not use it.

Change

When you need to shift your calendar events because someone reschedules, how do you handle that?

Simply confirm a new date/time and drag the existing event to the new date/time on Google Calendar. Done.

A calendar change takes one finger on your smartphone. Yes, you can play “Calendar Tetris” by moving calendar time blocks as needed.

If the calendar tool we use is inflexible and cannot handle iteration, change the calendar you are using. Do not wait for change to happen to you. Seek it ahead of the change so you understand it better than after it happens to you. No whining. No excuses. Use your time more wisely. We can all make the time we need based on our own priorities. After all, it is your time. All 168 hours every week. How are you using your time?

Want to know how I schedule meetings and save time doing so? Read this.

Questions?

Tools I Use: Transcription

Speech2Text

Disclosure: Links to other sites may be affiliate links that generate us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Over the past few years, I have found that converting speech to text has a lot of value.

Speech recorded or otherwise is not very searchable without a transcript.

In 2013, I ran a successful Kickstarter project to transcribe over 100 audio podcasts into the written word and create an ebook out of these transcriptions.

In 2016, I created three other podcast series. As an experiment, I wanted to see which was more valuable. Audio alone or audio with transcripts. Guess which one was viewed more? Hint: the series with transcripts was viewed/listened to a lot more.

People value the transcripts. Enough to make an eBook out of them.

I have used a variety of tools for transcripts.

I tried Dragon Speak Naturally by Nuance a while back which is trained to your voice, but I kept forgetting I had it available to me. I am not the person speaking in my audio recording especially, book projects and podcasts which are mostly interviews. Now there is similar technology on my laptop (when connected to the web).

If you prefer to have your voice transcribed, most Apple, Chrome, and Windows-based computers now have the option of activating speech-to-text (aka dictation) where you turn on this feature (with a hotkey) and start talking as you watch your words appear on your page. If you can talk, your computer can write for you quite literally. Helps for brainstorming and writing any stream of consciousness. Some tools work better than others. Just don’t forget to edit the text later since we speak differently than we read.

When it comes to transcribing audio recordings, I used one online vendor for a successful Kickstarter project. This same vendor did a great job back then. However, after while they began to deliver slower (1 week+), less consistently and results were not as accurate as I had previously seen. This did not just happen once or twice. This caused me to look elsewhere within the free market for similar transcription services.

No transcripts are 100% accurate due to nuances in language, pronunciation, accents and even poor audio recordings, so you need to check the transcripts received against the audio you sent. I do and so should you whether you use machine transcription or human transcription. Neither is 100% accurate.

In 2016, I started to use Rev and now get transcripts for my audio recordings in less than 12 hours.

I also found a few contractors from Upwork who do transcription well, but are much slower (1 day) which is okay when it is not time-sensitive, but you have to hunt for them because they get a lot of work from around the world.

In 2018, I started using Temi to get transcripts from my audio recordings within a few minutes. Yes, that’s right…transcripts in minutes, not hours nor days. Faster and less expensive. Game changer! A 16-minute audio file gets transcribed in less than half that time thanks to machine-generated transcription which seems to improve every time I use it. Temi costs a fraction of the price of human-generated transcription. Accuracy is very close to human-generated transcription, however, I review every transcript I get back from humans or machines since there are specific words and contexts that most would miss if I did not.

UPDATE:

In March 2020, I started using Otter.ai to get transcripts of my audio recordings for podcasts and new book projects within a few minutes of getting audio. The tiered plans makes it easy to for teams to collaborate if you have external contractors reviewing the text against the audio for you. I hire a contractor on Upwork to do this overnight for a few transcripts at a time which me saves the hours of doing it myself.

Now back to creating more eBooks based on audio interviews recorded and transcribed.

Questions?

Schedule a call for consulting about your own book

Tools I Use: Mobile Ordering

Disclosure: Links to other sites may be affiliate links that generate us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Mobile Ordering is not new. As soon as Starbucks, Panera and others restaurants started offer mobile ordering, I started using them. Often, this is done through a mobile app available on a smartphone which geolocates you to the closest retail locations.

Why mobile ordering?

I like spending time wisely. Waiting is not time spent wisely. If I have to wait for anything, I listen to audiobooks or podcasts. If I can mobile order a coffee from Starbucks before I walk into the store, I do. The beverage is ready and paid for when I walk in. I walk past all the people waiting in line, find my drink (not hard since few do this today).

Mobile orders are given priority which means I wait LESS than if stopped thinking to wait in line to order a coffee. Why would I want to do that?

Advantages to mobile ordering

You win back time. Less waiting for your order since it is now a priority. Mobile order minutes before arriving. Helpful when traveling. Walk in. Pick up the order. Consume your order.

You can still configure order as you normally would. If you want your beverage prepared a specific way, these are all options during the mobile ordering process. Same thing if you order food, but you want them to hold the onions.

Some mobile ordering apps we’ll remember your previous orders to make it easier the next time you order. With a few less taps on your mobile device, you can save time during the ordering process as well.

Of course, mobile ordering can include delivery you don’t have to go anywhere, provided the establishment delivers to your location. I typically use mobile ordering when I’m commuting or traveling.

Discounts or rewards for mobile orders are common for retailers who try to make mobile orders more popular.

More retailers are offering mobile ordering as an option to speed up the process. A number of companies enable mobile ordering for restaurants with their giving menu options and branding.

I see no purpose to talk to someone about ordering my food or beverage if I can mobile order it and speed up the process. If I am grabbing and going, I see no reason to chat or pant while waiting for your order.

On the other hand, if I am going to sit down and be social, then I will not mobile order. I plan to be there a while. If some startups have their way, waiters will no longer exist next decade.

Some people who feel social pressure find issue with the tipping part of a mobile app. I find the appearance of a tipping request common now (after all, it can makes them more money), but if the person did nothing to earn a tip (which is often the case) beyond their normal counter level service that I pick up myself, I don’t tip. Period. I fail to yield nor see any social pressure nor peer pressure if I need to make an order by mobile device or at a counter, then pick up my order myself.

Delivery is another question though. I will tip if someone delivers my mobile order to home, office or where ever.

It’s also a conversation to have with people you are mobile ordering with. Something new.

Try mobile ordering next time it’s available.

Questions?