"Have you decided to get out of bed today and do something"?
"Have you decided that you don't need the car Saturday because you didn't clean the barn?"
'"Have you decided to get your hair cut so people will stop asking me if you are my ugly daughter"
That was my dad's way of telling me what he wanted me to do. To the casual bystander, it was a fairly innocuous question. But if you honestly thought you had a choice in the matter, the response was 180 degrees on the wrong side of pleasant.
On March 21st of this year, the Free Software Foundation presented our organization Reglue with the Award for Projects of Social Benefit. We share that announcement link with Sébastien Jodogne for being given the Award for the Advancement of Free Software. We're specifically thankful that people like Sean "NZ17" Robinson spearheaded this nomination campaign and got us into the running.
And, now that it's done, I think it's safe to say.....with all the organizations throughout the world who provide such selfless services and opportunities with FOSS, well...let me just reflect that our nomination was more than we ever expected. That in itself made our directors and volunteers proud. Actually being chosen as this year's recipient is breathtakingly humbling. If you are interested in listening to the talk we gave at LibrePlanet 2015, you can listen to it here. Be warned the latency can be annoying on slower connections and there is some annoying clipping in the first 9 minutes so you might want to just click the download button and reduce your volume a bit.
I also want to thank my friends Chad McCullough, Josh Sabboth, Bob Pianka and John Kerr for helping make this happen. Special thanks to Randy Noseworthy for his support and help throughout the past two years. I will write a full article on the LibrePlanet 2015 with all its nooks and crannies in the coming week.
Reglue has worked hard for a decade to make computers accessible for financially disadvantaged kids in Central Texas. It's gratifying to see our hard work recognized. And by the way, we are going to meet here in a couple of days to share some information about Sean "NZ17" Robinson and a cool project he is working on. Stay tooned.
So here's the deal. Most of you know that I am without a voice since I
voluntarily had my larynx removed. I did so because the odds against me living for another 8 months to a year was significant. Dying isn't anywhere on my annual calendar as I still have a lot of work to do.
talked about it here a couple of weeks ago. And yeah...until this issue affected me, I couldn't give a crap less. But I do now, even though we've spoken about it elsewhere.
We're going to talk about it again. Maybe in ways some of you will find uncomfortable. That's ok, I do uncomfortable well. Stick around, I'll show you.
If what I just said pissed you off, let me clarify. You worked within the toolset you had at your disposal. I get that. Our biggest complaint is how bad the voices sound when compared to the results of work like this. Or like this. What we hope to do is not make you angry but work with us to let us know what we have to do to make it as good in Linux as it can be for the sources just outlined.
And yeah, the whole "you need to install three or more apps to get one to work half-way decently" thing is something I thought we could talk about as too.
I rubbed elbows with some impressive people at LibrePlanet 2015. I spoke with a number of programmers and project team members of active Linux applications. I asked them how to fix broken free open source software. I asked what to do when originating programmers have no interest or intention of improving his work. (S)he has no intention of making it easier to use for the other 99 percent of us. That wasn't his purpose when (s)he wrote the software.
Of those of us who don't know how to edit or write a bash script to start the application? Of those of us who don't know how to edit text files to amend a bad path to an executable? Yeah...that's most of us. So what options do we have? With the exception of one software programmer out of 7, the answer orbited tightly around the various ways the question was asked.
If the software has reached a point where the developer is comfortable using it for his or her day to day use, then that's game, set and match. A good developer will allow others to find, use and modify his work. That's the "Open" in Open Source. That's why the author released the software under the GPL. Beginning from the last line of code for his application, you are on your own.
That's the one answer I didn't want to receive but in my mind, and even before I asked the question, I knew that was the answer I was going to get. Let me put this into perspective for you.
I was asked to give a talk on Reglue and how we work. My first reaction was to of course, politely decline. I mean really...how is a guy going to give a "talk" without the physical organ that allows him to speak? The short answer was to do it synthetically....using text to speech software.
My journey through the different Linux solutions are well documented on fossforce.com so I am not going to repeat them here. But I will tell you this. After a week of plinking around, trying to get Linux-based TTS software to work consistently, I paid $90.00 for a year's subscription on a website that allows you to save your text to speech files and access them when ever you need them. The feedback on my text to speech presentation was overwhelmingly good and I will probably do it again if invited.
Most of you know how much the Linux-based solutions don't work for almost everyone who needs that solution. Those "solutions" are frustrating to even the most seasoned Linux users. We are going to try our collective best to fix this.
Neil Munro is helping me get this ball rolling. Neil is an amazing guy with excellent talents. I'm humbled that he is willing to work with me on this. Hopefully, our team will grow over the next couple of weeks.
Oh, What ball to "get rolling"?
The ball with Linux text to speech written on it. The ball that's laying in a muddy puddle half deflated and filthy. The one that's been abandoned to just rot. That ball.
What I've found out is that there are literally tens of thousands of people in the world that need this software. Consistently working, easy-to-install text to speech software. And as much as I have fought against saying this...it's just something I have no control over. If you build it, people will come.
Tens of thousands of people.
And sure...charge for your work, but make it competitive with what's already out there on the market. If you take in consideration the state of TTS in the Linux market, you are a blue chip app almost over night in both Andriod and that other phone....Oh it's on the tip of my tongue. You know...the white one.
Let me say you are now reading the words from a potential customer of at least 50 licenses a year.
So while most of the Linux TTS software is strewn in broken pieces across the Linuxshere, people of all ages, color, race and geographical location need this software to work. Their lives will be radically changed for the better if this software was available to them. There are two ways we can go about this.
1. Open a dialog with originating authors of the existing software. Entice them with money and/or fame. Ask them to make their software usable for the 99 percent of us who don't want to execute a bash script to make the software work.
2. Engage young, up-and-coming software programmers to finish the work that others before left them unfinished or unusable for most of us.
If it's money you want, just say so and I will help raise it. I understand, time is money. We can work together. And let me say it again...this isn't an attack on those who have written this software. You worked with the FOSS tools available at the time. Guide us through the hassles you had so we may be able to smooth those roads. It's a public request to pull all the fragments together in order to make is usable for everyone.
Hopefully we can work together well enough to completely make forking unnecessary.
And so there is no misunderstandings. This is the level of work we are looking to achieve, or maybe make better. Go to the link above outlined as "level of work" and choose your language and then paste the below text into the dialog box and hit speak. Listen to these results against the best even Mbrola can produce.
This is the quality of voice that is needed in the Free Open Source Software arsenal. This at the very least. What is available today is not at all ready for the every day user. The user that cannot afford the expensive and difficult "solutions" out there today.
And this is not perfect. Note the upcoming error the engine makes when it runs into a contraction or an apostrophe in a sentence.
John isn't Joe's brother and isn't his friend either.
So while not perfect, it's a place to start. Now tell us what we have to do to get there.
It's just that easy, in the scope of it anyway. Getting it done will be much more challenging. This is going to be a long haul project. It's not something that will fade away from neglect. I am making it my personal challenge to see this through. So whether it's by offering a programmer his monetary due for making this happen, or getting the attention of a younger, more eager programmer trying to establish some street cred, I don't particularly care.
But we'll know who considers this as important by the group that picks this ball up and moves it forward. You remember the ball we're talking about, right?
Have you decided to get out of bed and do something useful today?
All Righty Then.