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How to use VocaTalk as a research and learning tool

November 3, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve been using Google Notebook which is now discontinued.  If you are already signed up, you can keep using it at http://www.google.com/notebook.   Then I’ve recently discovered WebNotes, an online research and web annotation tool (http://www.webnotes.net), and it changed my life.  It allows you not only to bookmark things that you find on the web, but also highlight portions of pages, and put sticky notes on them.  You can access your bookmarks pretty much anywhere.

If you are doing online research, constantly reading things all over the net, this tool is for you.  I have realized that combining it with a text-to-speech tool like VocaTalk to listen the bookmarked web content the next day on commute creates a unique learning experience.

First, you need to subscribe to WebNotes and download the browser addon for it for the best experience.  Also, download VocaTalk if you don’t already have the latest version and request a free beta license.  For the best experience, you can also download high quality SAPI voices, rip some CDs or import mp3 music to VocaTalk.  VocaTalk will use all the installed voices and music in your library to generate a high quality mp3 and publish it locally as a podcast episode.

Once you install these two wonderful apps, you’re ready to enter a new world of self learning experience much more fun than anything you’ve ever experienced before!

As you surf the net searching for interesting news articles, books, blogposts, mark them with WebNotes tool.

Mark your research using WebNotes

Mark your research using WebNotes

Create a collection of bookmarks, highlights, stickynotes.

Manage your bookmarks with WebNotes
Manage your bookmarks with WebNotes

You’ll probably add many such bookmarks before you actually start reading them.  So it’s good to be able to manage and organize them using the browser add-on for WebNotes.

When you want to actually turn the content into mp3 speech, click on the bookmark in WebNotes to open it.  Launch VocaTalk and paste the content into VocaTalk.  Then click ‘Turn into new podcast episode’ link at the bottom of the window.

Turn content into podcast episode using VocaTalk

Turn content into podcast episode using VocaTalk

VocaTalk will present an options pane for you before creating the podcast episode.  Here you can pick music and some special audio fx like positional audio, voice modulation and binaural beats.  Then it’ll create and queue the episode under a podcast folder.  You can start generating the podcast now, or just keep creating such episodes and defer generation.

Generate musical mp3 episode using VocaTalk

Generate musical mp3 episode using VocaTalk

Once the generations are complete, you can publish them locally to iTunes/Zune or just download to your mp3 player.  I like the podcasting better because it makes it much easier to manage so many mp3 files that are listened once and thrown away.

VocaTalk episodes that are combined with nice background music sound like fancy audio documentaries that make listening much more fun and less monotonous for hours of listening experience.