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Hello Wigbers,


I'm designing a survey for my Master's thesis and would like to generate some false data for testing it out and playing around with statistics before I go live with it.


I would greatly appreciate if any of you can spend 5 minutes to fill out the survey and play pretend while doing so. Imagine that you are a university librarian perhaps of a different age and gender than in reality.


You're welcome to fill it out as many times as you like. I just need some data.

Thank you for your time in advance.


Survey: How would you feel if you had to wear a uniform to work?


Link to original FB note if you wish to flame me with things not appropriate for the WGB forum.



NERD ALERT: Confessions of a TTS Enthusiast

April 10, 2014 at 10:28pm

So, I have this thing I am nerding the f__k out about right now. 

What is it? 

Text-to-speech (TTS) emulation—basically talking robot applications that will read aloud anything that I tell them to. 

OK, and...? 

  • I like audiobooks because I drive a lot for my job.

  • Listening to my own writing helps me catch mistakes that I often miss while "voice proofing" out loud.

  • I am engaged in some major writing projects right now, sending out quite a bit of copy for critique. I've found that people will rarely read a large document if they have to view it on a screen (unless they have a device that will reflow the text, or one has the chops to create a formatted .epub file—a bitch, even with InDesign 6) **BUT** everyone has an MP3 player.

(If you own a relatively new e-reader, it probably has native support for some type of TTS platform.)

After tinkering with about half a dozen free desktop TTS applications (with mixed results), I decided to purchase a program that actually renders listenable audio files. However, the **really** cool part about this fancier TTS software is that one can actually go in and manipulate the phonemes (vocal sounds) to correct the pronunciation of certain words, such as slang expressions (e.g. derby names, urbanisms, or colloquial abominations like "mallpacolypse", etc.)

Making these phonetic corrections, however, is not as simple as it one day will be. (Live voice phoneme correction is coming soon, I am certain.) This Ivona TTS platform uses a markup (sort of) language for controlling the behavior of the application's LEXICON file (.lex), which actually controls the pronunciation of words at the raw phonetic level.

(See link below.)

What is even weirder is that all of the different TTS voices have names. (My favorite reader voice is a middle-aged British woman named Amy—there are tens of popular voices in a dozen different languages on the Ivona platform alone.) So, these TTS voices are basically primitive surrogate app-bots that have their own international identities.

Why do I think this is all so interesting? 

Because: as these applications become more sophisticated and pervasive in our lives (Siri, anyone?), it begs some interesting social questions about what  "identity" means as human-like identity becomes adopted by more and more of the synthetic voices and personalities that we interact with on a daily basis.

Frankly, I find it a little disconcerting. 

 (I also find coding disconcerting.)

OK, I am done nerding now. Thanks!



This is a placeholder. There will be pics. Lithos was there.

At first, through my shortsighted eyes, it looked like five random dudes rowing a surf life saving boat out on a cool and overcast morning, exercise. The swell was a gentle undulation, not the nightmare of a southerly buster or the lash of the tail of a cyclone slashing down from the north on a full moon with a king tide lifting the waves even higher.

Aussie Surf Life Saving Boat


Five men men rowing out onto an empty ocean, majestically, no other words fitted, I watched them glide by and I stood transfixed until they slid out of sight.


That’s the ThreeFiftyCrew”, said my strongest friend, “not a one of them under 70 years old”, as he sat tossing a ball to his strongest friend. “My uncle is one of them, I wouldn't take him on, not even if I still had my right leg and my left shoulder wasn't all busted up. He is the toughest man I ever met, so gentle, so kind.”


Uncles are like that.” I agreed. “They show you how to live or how not to live a life.”


Mums not getting out into the garden much any more, she's spending most of her time inside the walls, sitting and thinking, not sure what she's thinking, she says she is happy, as happy as she can be since dad died.” said my strongest friend, the friend who has dealt with so much pain. Visible scars he has aplenty, invisible ones as well.


My friend knows he could move to another beach, tell tall stories to tourists about the shark that bit off his leg and the heroic battle that followed and feel good about himself for as long as it takes to tell the tale, but he is not that kind of man.


I twisted my ankle he says, we all do it, take a jump into the future and make a bad landing. I twisted my ankle bad, real bad because I am a big man and when I jumped, I jumped high and I landed hard, I ran hard and I played hard. His words dwindled into silence and we sat for a comfortable minute or more, we both watched the dog leap and run to catch the ball and faithfully return it time after time.


I'm afraid of the water, afraid of floating and afraid of sinking,” I said, “never even knew it till yesterday.”


Doesn't surprise me,” said my strongest friend as he bounced the ball over and over to his strongest friend, “knowing what I know about your fathers death that seems like a perfectly rational emotion.”


Are you going to be in the ThreeFiftyCrew one day?” I wondered out loud.


There is a seat in a surf life saving boat waiting for me, if I can make it that far, that is. When I get through the rehab on my shoulder I'll be able to sit in a starboard seat, I still got a strong right arm and my left leg has handled the load so far - so good. Rowing a life saving boat is all about balance, not strength, my uncle says, once you got the right stance and know how to keep your balance every thing else comes naturally when you empty your head and open your heart.”


He threw the ball with his strong right arm, he threw it as high and as far as he could towards the ocean, towards the horizon, to where the ThreeFiftyCrew could be seen heading safely for home and the dog disappeared after it.


You are part of my life saving boat crew”, said my strongest friend.


Who else is in that boat?” I asked.


You will recognise my brother in the seat beside you, right where he been sat since you two were nippers, don't worry about the other two rowers, just know that they've got your back.”


I didn't speak, watching the dog coming back with a mouthful of ball and the stance of the sweep and the sweep of the oars as the ThreeFiftyCrew neared the beach, then I felt the tears running down my cheeks. I looked over, deep into the eyes of my strongest friend and he said..


On that day, when we get out there, out beyond the waves, out where the sun rises and sets on the sea, you and me and the rest of the crew are going floating like a bunch of turtles, just floating on the waves and gazing at the moon and maybe then, everything we learnt on the journey will make sense....

words assembled by Gary J Ford...


Release date just up on Amazon along with a blurb!

Oct. 28, 2014 is currently the slotted release date. This can change however.


Here's the blurb:

William Gibson returns with his first novel since 2010’s New York Times–bestselling Zero History.

   Where Flynne and her brother, Burton, live, jobs outside the drug business are rare. Fortunately, Burton has his veteran’s benefits, for neural damage he suffered from implants during his time in the USMC’s elite Haptic Recon force. Then one night Burton has to go out, but there’s a job he’s supposed to do—a job Flynne didn’t know he had. Beta-testing part of a new game, he tells her. The job seems to be simple: work a perimeter around the image of a tower building. Little buglike things turn up. He’s supposed to get in their way, edge them back. That’s all there is to it. He’s offering Flynne a good price to take over for him. What she sees, though, isn’t what Burton told her to expect. It might be a game, but it might also be murder.


Gone but not forgotten, so long Mr. Shepard. Thanks for your work and for giving a damn about humanity.


As a WG fan for years I eventually did something about it and wrote an article for The Conversation entitled, ‘Is anyone asking people what they want from the smart cities of the future?’ I wrote: “Future cities, where infrastructure adapts to our needs, offer are an enticing prospect. But who is in the driving seat as these urban developments crop up around the world? We need to make sure that the people who will actually live in these cities benefit.” The article received further coverage in the Guardian. So far the article has been read by 23,169 readers.

Note I took no payment for this, but hope to get people thinking.


Best Gary..

Ghost Plane... It mysteriously disappeared, defying odds and understanding. Now it haunts us. How do you think this story ends?



I'm on a William Gibson binge! I took Mona Lisa Overdrive on my recent tour of Italy to read on the plane. How sad when it ended and I was left to wonder about these people. After I got back home I had a hard cover copy of Tomorrow;s Parties on the shelf so I dove in.

It was comforting to hear the character talk about conversing with the Idoru, like hearing someone mention an old friend you haven't heard from in a few years.


Lovely turn of phrase, when he's talking about obsession: "that ache, that absence in the shape of the beloved." Poetry.  


procrastinations encured be ineffective data line short to follow thru 22 1 slight 44 reflex Kill...Kill

His dreams lay racked with the lines he had seen programmed before him like a million programmers working in some unknown unison yet it was a mere few atoms flickering in and out of our top bar hive to another hive of unknown grading and within each flicker whole centuries of theory were analyzed proven dis proven reevaluated then cross referenced in a few moments it had surpassed what little we knew and began creating such beautiful strings of data.

Then that first line of constructive program was

procrastinations encured be ineffective data line short to follow thru 22 1 slight 44 reflex Kill...Kill

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