Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – Tech Trails

The year is barely a week old but I’ve already experienced technological turmoil and triumphs. Here’s a brief sketch on how my 2014 began.

Have your fingers and mind ever conspired against you, forcing you to perform unexpected tasks at your computer keyboard? Generally a mindful computer user, I sat momentarily horrified when I thought I’d deleted the My Documents folder while attempting to delete another folder altogether. Returning to my senses, I restored the folder and immediately backed it up to my Drop Box storage area. Heaven help us if anything ever happens to that indispensable service.

This might be old news to many, but I thought it the coolest thing. While reading a book using the BARD Mobile app, a song was mentioned that I’d never heard. I immediately paused the book, opened the YouPlayer app (more about that in the next paragraph), searched for and listened to the song. I’d never thought to do that. Back in the day when an unfamiliar song was mentioned we didn’t have immediate access to hearing it. These days information is literally at our fingertips, and it is a magnificent thing.

For those looking for an alternative to the less than stellar YouTube iOS app, YouPlayer is a wonderfully Voiceover-accessible solution. I liked it so much I purchased the premium version. Activities such as searching for, playing and saving videos to the Favorites section are a breeze. After Twitter, this has become my go to app for YouTube content. I wonder how many videos I can save to the Favorites? I’m certain YouPlayer will provide a little popup message to let me know.

Speaking of iOS apps – have you heard of or begun using Voice Dream Reader? I first heard this app mentioned on an NPR podcast. The developer created it while on an extended vacation in a country with extremely cold days and long nights. He admitted to needing something to occupy his time. The app “plays” a multitude of text formats, including mp3 files and it syncs to your Drop Box account. It took a bit of fiddling but I’m getting the hang of it and believe the app will be quite useful for learning lyrics. Impressed with the Acapella James voice, I purchased it and downloaded a book from the Guttenberg Project to try it out.

While on the subject of speech synthesizers, I was introduced to The Synthocast Players. Curious, I downloaded the album “A Most Unusual Vacation” from www.amazon.com/mp3. It took what seemed forever to download. The entire tale is told by speech synthesizers with excellent sound effects. Upon first hearing, it appears to be a delightful Harry potter-esque adventure.

I’m forever travelling the technological trail.

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