On June 28, 2011, in Audio, Review, Video, by Mark Sealey

Transcribe! 8.1.0
Price: $50 for single users;
contact Seventh String for pro-rated discounts

Transcribe! claims to be the “world’s leading” tool to help musicians extract music from recordings. It can also be used to transcribe speech and even allow musicians to play along. Does British firm, Seventh String, get credit for trying what’s difficult to do well but really end up as little more than an “also ran”? Or do they have a winner that works in almost every way?

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About Mark Sealey

Mark Sealey is a British expatriate working and living in Southern California with his artist/writer wife, Roberta Lannes-Sealey, whom he met in 1996, when the web, she and he were much younger. Mark's interest in computers began in the the early ‘80s when his father suggested that, If we don’t understand how to control them, they’ll creep up behind us and make life unbearable. Have they? Using the venerable Acorn system until his move to the US, Mark wrote extensively about the BBC and RISC machines. He concentrated chiefly on education, music and productivity/system software; at the time Micronet and Prestel led the way for wide area networking… he published over 2,000 articles for these outlets. After graduating with a humanities degree, Mark was a teacher for 20 years until 1994 - first in Italy then the UK. Becaming increasingly attracted to the world of information technology as a major contributor to children’s learning and development, he eventually moved to editing the UK’s chief journals in the educational computing. He has always enjoyed freelance reviewing, consulting, editing and writing. When he moved to the US, he was fortunate enough to find full time employment at a major arts non-profit as a software engineer; though it’s doubtful if there’s a single skill which he was originally hired to use that’s still in daily use. Mark is also a composer of chamber and orchestral music, music critic, a published poet, photographer and environmentalist with an enthusiasm for fitness, vegan nutrition and long distance running. He is now convinced that only humans’ humility can save our planet.

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On January 1, 1997, in Opinion, by Brian Koponen

Speech is, by far, one of the neatest features of Macs. It’s also one of the least used. It seems that everybody turns off speech recognition for one reason or another. Some people say it’s too slow while others say it uses too much memory. Not only is it useful, but it’s a lot of fun.

There are two types of speech uses on a Mac. One is Text to Speech (TTS) while the other is Speech Recognition. Combined, these form PlainTalk. Text to Speech is the easiest to use. If you open any speech savvy application, such as SimpleText, you can type and have it read back to you in a variety of voices depending upon your system. There is also a Mexican Spanish TTS system available off the Internet. This allows your computer to read back Spanish with an accent. In PlainTalk 1.5, TTS can read alert boxes that pop up.

While having your Mac talk is fun, it is limited in its use. Speech recognition, the second part of PlainTalk, is where the real fun begins. With this on, you can open files, empty the trash, find out the time and date, close windows, zoom windows and even change the view of windows. Those are just a few of the things the Finder will do. If you have any speech savvy applications, many will be able to be controlled with speech.

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