Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Whispersync for Voice Saves Your Place

Posted by JenThorpe at 9:58 PM on September 15, 2012

People who love to read will take the opportunity to squeeze in another chapter, or a few more pages, any chance they get. Today, many people are reading books on their Kindle, (or other tablet device). Or, they are listening to the audio version of a book that they got from Audible.com. Whispersync for Voice is something new that connects these two options in a unique and time-saving way.

In order to use Whispersync for Voice, you will need a Kindle. You also will need to get the free Audible app for the iPhone, iPod touch, or Android. As the name implies, Whispersync for Voice will sync up your audio book with your ebook. You can put one device down, pick up the other one, and the book will continue exactly where you left off. No more wasting time trying to figure out where one version left off when you switch to the other one.

Start by purchasing an ebook for your Kindle. There will be a button that allows you to “Add Narration” for a few dollars more. Making that purchase is what enables your Kindle and Audible app to sync up with each other. There are about 15,000 books at Audible.com that work with Whispersync for Voice right now.

The latest generation of Kindle Fire, and the Kindle Fire HD 7” and the Kindle Fire HD 8.9” will let you do something called Immersion Reading. It will let you add the professional narration to your Kindle so you can read the book and listen to it at the same time.

“In The Plex” Audible Audio Book

Posted by tomwiles at 8:59 PM on July 16, 2011

Controversy. The world of news seems to thrive on it, including the world of tech news.

Ever wonder what goes on inside a premier tech company like Google?

I just finished listening to “In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives” written by Steven Levy and narrated by L.J. Ganser.

“In The Plex” is all about Google – it’s employees, it’s business culture, and even it’s cafeterias. Additionally it includes behind-the-scenes accounts of major Google controversies most people will remember.

Google is one of those remarkable “Great American Company” stories that happened right under our noses within the past decade.

The unabridged “In The Plex” Audible audiobook version is 19 hours long. The narration is top-notch and the content quite entertaining. It ends with a discussion of Google’s sometimes-tumultuous, sometimes ho-hum social networking forays, along with a brief discussion of the development of “Google+” which has recently gone into a controlled roll-out to the general public.

If you were ever curious about the company behind the search engine, I recommend “In The Plex” as a means of sating that inquisitive urge.

The Master Switch

Posted by tomwiles at 11:01 PM on May 7, 2011

Once in a while, a book comes along that contains ground-breaking insights.  Such is the case with a book I’ve listened to over the past couple of days, the Audible audio book version of ‘The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires” by author Tim Wu.

“The Master Switch” is a compelling look into the history of major information industries such as the telegraph, the telephone, commercial broadcast radio, the commercial movie business, and commercial broadcast television. The book points out an identifiable, slowly-repeating cycle obviated by the fact that these industries were able to gain and hold monopoly status. Each in turn became quite adept at retarding disruptive technological innovations that threatened their respective business models.

Today we take an open Internet for granted, but these same and other forces are looking to take over control of the Internet and turn it into a closed, much more tightly-controlled system.

The book is extremely well written and well researched. The Audible audio book narrator Marc Vietor brings the book to life in a wonderful way.

Mr. Wu does a fantastic job of laying out the often-fascinating histories of companies such as Western Union, AT&T, NBC, etc. As consumers, we think we know these companies through their consumer advertising. The real history of these companies is often quite different and very eye opening.

If you enjoy stories about technology and business, you will almost certainly enjoy “The Master Switch” by Tim Wu.

Smartphones As The New Facebook

Posted by tomwiles at 2:40 PM on November 19, 2010

Facebook hit critical mass and managed to move into the mainstream and is now sucking in mass numbers of new users. Much of the value of a many goods and services revolves around mass adoption – it becomes beneificial for people to use Facebook simply because so many friends and family are already on it.

We keep hearing statistics about smartphone adoption rates. No doubt about it, smartphones are increasingly popular devices and are quickly moving into the mainstream.

How does this translate into the real world?

I came across a guy a few days ago that had recently gotten an iPhone 4.0 specifically so he could do Facetime chats with his brother. This guy was in his 50’s and had never owned a computer or dealt with the Internet in any way. I was surprised at how well he had learned to run his phone. He was clearly thrilled with the smartphone and what it was capable of. Even though this fellow had somehow managed to resist getting a computer and the Internet, the smartphone managed to pull him in. Furthermore, this guy was using a lot of data above and beyond WiFi and Facetime. Even as a novice user, he had already purchased a few iphone apps. Additionally he expressed a lot of interest when I was describing Audible.Com audio books.

There’s a segment of the population I run into personally that doesn’t like the idea of or see the need for or perceive any benefit from paying for mobile data connections. These are the people that are hanging onto more basic phone models. I suspect that these same people likely resisted the idea of getting a cell phone in the first place – in other words, they are late adopters when it comes to cell phone technologies and services.

We are now entering the phase of smartphone adoption of where mass numbers of people will get smartphones simply because everyone else has them. I believe smartphones are poised to outstrip even a service like Facebook with the total number of smartphone users.

These new smartphone users are likely to use mass amounts of data. Cell phone companies wanted people to have data plans because of the extra revenue from larger data-enabled bills – now they’d better be prepared to deliver on the promise.

The Man Who Lied To His Laptop

Posted by tomwiles at 4:36 PM on September 19, 2010

I just finished listening to the unabridged Audible audio book version of “The Man Who Lied To His Laptop” by Clifford Nass and Corina Yen.

After many years of working as a software interface design consultant, Clifford Nass has developed the theory that human brains cannot completely and fundamentally distinguish the difference between interacting with people and interacting with devices. This book details nearly 30 experiments Nass has performed that back up this revolutionary theory.

Remember “Clippy” from Microsoft Word? Chances are, the mere mention of the dreaded Microsoft Office animated paperclip brings up wildly negative feelings. Clippy’s main flaw was that he couldn’t learn and kept badgering Office users over and over for carrying out repetitive tasks that were not mistakes. Even though users “knew” that Clippy was just an animated character, part of their brain actually related to Clippy as a real, despicable character that lived in their computers.

Similarly, BMW had a big problem with male German car owners complaining loudly about the integrated BMW GPS units. It turns out that German men objected over and over again to BMW’s help line that the BMW GPS units came equipped with a female voice, and that just wouldn’t do, because it just wasn’t “right” to take driving directions from a female voice. “Knowing” that mostly male engineers had developed it wasn’t enough to eliminate the problem.

The book is filled with some rather amazing results of experiments that indicate just how suggestible the average person really is. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Pay only Podcast not us!

Posted by todd at 12:26 PM on February 21, 2006

Being a trend setter is tough and having went through some resistance last year when we were one of the first if not the first podcast to secure a sponsor and definitely one of the few shows to have a continuous sponsor for the past 8 months, we took a lot of heat for that. The same is true for the Ricky Gervais Show who is being pretty bold in trying to demand $1.95 per episode for his show.

I did some analysis recently and figured out that if 50% of my listeners donated $1.00 per month I could do podcasting and blogging full time, completely replacing my day job, even with the increased self employment taxes. But guess what 50% of you will never pay $1.00 per month even if I kicked production to 20 shows a month. So I am quite skeptical that Ricky Gervais is going to be able to get $1.95 per episode.

My thought process initially was that their has to be added value for the listener in order to even think about asking for a $1.00 a month, when we asked all of you on a survey how much money we save you every month from the recommendations that I put forth, the 1000+ people that responded said on average I saved them $9.00 per month. In the next question I asked what they would be willing to donate $1.00 per month for the same information that was currently free, the response was predictable in most saying that they would not pay or donate to listen to a podcast.

Podcasting and popularity is kind of a double edge sword, provide great content and added value yet the realities of implementing a subscription systems was less than appealing, this is one of the reasons why Geek News Central has sponsors today, because I know in a Internet based economy people want their content for free! I agree with them, I like my content free as well. Thus until someone can build a better mouse trap we will have sponsors for the show.

I doubt we will every find out if the first for pay podcast will actually pay, my bet is that he will fall out of all the various Top 100 list, and the show will go down as a good experiment. I may be wrong but that’s where I would be betting if I was throwing dice on the craps table. [News.com]

What does Todd think about the Audible Podcasting Initiative?

Posted by geeknews at 1:56 AM on November 16, 2005

I have had a day or two now to absorb their announcement and a phone call that came into the house tonight from a new friend in New York convinced me of a couple of things. First of all to my new found friend in New York you should have been in bed it was 1am your time. I can be reached most anytime you have my private number.

First of all let me say this, I respect my listeners so much that I think utilizing a mechanism that measures how long they listen to my podcast goes against just about everything I stand for. If it looks like a turd and smells like a turd it probably is. And collecting listening habits of listeners is definitely a turd.

That being said, I will be the first to admit that I really love raw numbers and I am fact driven to a point! With that I think the non-intrusive formula I have been using is good enough and the information that I am able to obtain does not go against my principles of privacy that I hold dear.

So just what is the secret podcast audience size measuring formula. Well it is pretty simple, and I did not even come up with it. A smart guy by the name of Kevin Devin did. He determined if we were conservative in our calculations and program rules and counted the raw unique IP’s that download a complete audio file, and then see how many times that IP comes back and downloads new shows we should have a pretty good idea of the sustained listener base.

We don’t go any further and “mine” that data to figure out who the listener is, what they are using for toilet paper, where they live or nothing crazy like that of which media companies are dying to figure out. The only thing we know is that usually one IP equals one listener and if that IP comes back and downloads another show they have stayed subscribed beyond one show or more.

Again I want to emphasize that It is not important who, what or where that listener is. Because guess what you all send me 100′s of e-mails a week telling me who you are and what you like or don’t like about the show pretty simple isn’t it.

Lets be honest for a second. The media houses would love to get their hands on that treasure trove of information because they can turn that IP into Sally down the street and what kind of car she drives. Guess what I love my audience to much to lower myself to that level. I will not wrap my content in some foreign format just to measure the audience. I would imagine about the time I did my listener numbers would head south faster than a speeding bullet.

I have always thought that the content and added value is what listeners stay subscribed for. I try to find news they would not find else wise, and if I can save them a few bucks from time to time or alert them to something cool I have done my part. Sure the sponsorship helps, and I know the audience respects the need for me to have a sponsor or two and if they like something the sponsor has to offer I hope they buy the product If not, so what! But I also stand behind the products that I endorse.

So in a nutshell the idea Audible had is noble but not well suited for the majority of podcasters. I have met Mitch who did a lot of the work for this new initiative and like his straight forwardness, and I know he will respect my opinion. But lets sum it up in a few words if a advertiser and or agent does not trust me and is not willing to listen to my needs and my audience needs then it is probably a company that I am not going to want to do business with anyway. Podcasters and the Audience are your typical hard working people that deserve to insure that I and any partners I work with respect their privacy and don’t sell out to the highest bidder.

The Audible Podcast Announcement

Posted by geeknews at 2:43 PM on November 14, 2005

I spent some time in the Audible booth but they were to busy to talk to me. From the liteature that I was able to look at and the information that is on their website, I am thinking that a great number of podcasters are not going to like their model. I know that they have done their best to provide different types of plans for podcasters but looking at the plans that may be useful to me would require me paying several thousands of dollars per show just to have it distributed. I understand that they have to make money but wow.

I will have to look at their program a little closer but the initial reactions from the podsphere is not all that positive. [Audible]