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Talking Books

Mark Garland
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Joined: Nov 11, 2006
Posts: 226
Hey all,

Just wanted to share a little idea that I had with everyone. It may sound a little wacky, but I thought it was good enough to bring to the table.

I drive to work, and it takes me around 40mins. It occurred to me the other day that this time was probably wasted, and if added up it came to nearly 7hrs a week (that's near a full working day). I thought that it would be great if I could make better use of this time when studying.

My nan has poor eyesight, and so she gets "talking books" from the library.

My plan would be to combine the two. There are some already great authors with great works here, but as reading whilst behind the wheel is at best unsafe, it would be good if the books could be recorded to CD/MP3.

Imagine the potential benefit of being able to drive to work, and before you've even arrived, you've done about half hour of studying. Over a few weeks, I'm sure you would be well ahead of where you would have been, and it would make revision a breeze.

Would be interested to hear what other people think of this, and especially from the authors regarding it's feasibility.

P.S. I'm going to start studying for SCBCD in a few months, so no rush.

28/06/06 - SCJP - 69%, 05/06/07 - SCWCD - 92%, 28/02/08 - IBM DB2 v9 Fundamentals (Exam 730) - 87%, 18/11/08 - IBM DB2 v9 DBA (Exam 731) - 89%, 26/02/11 - SCBCD - 88%
Ulf Dittmer

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 42965
Well, JavaRanch (which is what this forum is all about) isn't in the business of publishing books, so I'm moving this to the "Bunkhouse Porch" forum, where books are discussed.
Mark Garland
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 11, 2006
Posts: 226
Thanks Ulf.

Was a difficult topic to place.
Christophe Verré

Joined: Nov 24, 2005
Posts: 14688

Imagine the potential benefit of being able to drive to work, and before you've even arrived, you've done about half hour of studying.

Personally, I don't think I could concentrate enough while driving. I was driving to work at my previous work. Lots of high speed roads. I would not be able to concentrate enough to drive safely. It's not like listening to music, where you don't have to focus on what you're hearing.

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Mark Garland
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 11, 2006
Posts: 226
True. I accept your point.
My old job meant a lot of being stuck in traffic where I often 'switched off'.
My new job means long country lanes, but I am often listening to the news or the radio, etc.

Perhaps the driving was a bad example.
Imagine "cleaning the house" or "painting the fence" instead, or some other repetitive job....
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 63838

I think that this would difficult for tech books, which are unlike function in many ways.

"Please see listing 7.5 which reads open bracket H T M L close bracket open bracket H E A D close bracket...."

You could always write to the plublishers and make the suggestion, but I think that'd be a hard sell.
[ August 24, 2007: Message edited by: Bear Bibeault ]

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v ray
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 15, 2007
Posts: 223
well, depends on what you want to listen to. If you want to listen to self improvement tapes, or tapes which talk about investments, buisness/management oriented kind of tapes, then it would be possible, and you would get a lot out of it.
Another option is to just download podcasts of interviews with good programmers on various sites and listen to that, you know, for inspiration.
Pauline McNamara

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 4012
I think this would be a great way to learn. There are already lots of learning podcasts out there. Here's a java-specific example, the recordings of a course given at the Harvard University Extension School, XML with Java, Java Servlet and JSP:

course page: http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~cscie259/
the feed: http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~cscie259/podcast/

Not a book, but learning by listening just the same. It's not created specifically to be a podcast, as it's really part of a distance learning program where students watch videos of recorded classroom sessions. They've just repurposed the recordings as audio podcasts too.

A "talking book" would present a special challenge, as Bear pointed out, if you need to refer to specific code. But as a complement to written material, like for the parts where the author/speaker would be explaining how code works etc., I think it would be a great way to spend time when you're on the bus or train.

Or definitely while cleaning the house or painting the fence. Cleaning house has taken on a whole new meaning since I discovered podcasts.
Mark Garland
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 11, 2006
Posts: 226
As a follow-up - I was talking with someone recently who has bad eyesight, and they showed me - http://www.naturalreaders.com/. (I'm sure there are other products on the market too!)

For $50ish (�24.30), this software will read out anything copied into the clipboard. It will work for free, but the voices aren't so great. The best ones are "Kate" and "Paul" and samples can be heard on the website.

As an experiment, I put chapter 1 of a pdf file of a technical book I'm reading through it. This program allows you to export to mp3 and it came out at 90ish mins. I sped it up (so it would fit on a cd), and then split the mp3 into 1 minute tracks (so it's easy to manipulate) and tried it in the car this morning.

I think it worked really well. It occasionally gets confused (don't = "don-tea") and obviously the code samples aren't so great, but as a review the following morning of a chapter I read last night, I'd say it was excellent.

Just thought I'd pass that on for anyone who's interested. :-)
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
subject: Talking Books
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