1. 75
  1.  

  2. 14

    What’s most notable here to me is his use of Finnish to aid in text-to-speech.

    English (specifically when taken as a writing system for encoding spoken words) is notoriously inconsistent, (or as some academics phrase it, “orthographically defective”) which is a mere annoyance to sighted folk but a huge problem to people reliant on text-to-speech. This fellow works around that flaw by at first treating English writing as if it’s Finnish, using the Finnish text-to-speech engine (which is far superior to that of English due to Finnish orthography being quite sensible to begin with) and then converts the “raw” letters he hears into English words in his head, which is the error-prone part where software does a rotten job.

    Commercial text-to-speech engines would be much more effective for power users if they created an encoding for English written words which got rid of the ambiguity and pushed it to the user, but the market can’t support such a thing (it needs to be intuitive and usable without any training) so in absence of such a scheme, Finnish does the job instead. Brilliant hack.

    1. 3

      To be fair, I don’t think that’s why he’s using a Finnish speech synthesiser. From the article:

      Since I need to read both Finnish and English regularly I’m reading English with a Finnish speech synthesizer. Back in the old days screen readers weren’t smart enough to switch between languages automatically, so this was what I got used to.

      My understanding is that he would use an English speech synthesiser if he started now, as programs are better at switching to the correct synthesiser for the current language now. However, I gather that learning to interpret words at that speed is a skill that takes some practice (it’s certainly just gobbledygook to me) and he sees no reason to change since his existing setup works for him.

      (Edit: fixed typo.)

      1. 1

        Right; I don’t think it was his original reason, but I think it’s the reason he’s still using it even after the original reason no longer holds; because this way is actually more effective even tho it’s a pain to learn.

    2. 10

      This is an awesome setup to read about, I am glad it was posted.

      I spend a good deal of my time working at the command line. In fact I rarely use any other graphical applications than a web browser and an editor. I’ve found that it’s often much quicker to do the task at hand on the command line than to use an interface which was primarily designed with mouse users in mind.

      How many lobsters could this paragraph apply to?

      1. 8

        The 450wpm speech synthesiser samples are incredible, I can’t make anything out at that speed!

        I was interested to learn that he prefers Windows as VoiceOver on Mac OS isn’t that great. My uninformed impression was that in Mac OS a lot of attention is paid to usability.

        1. 4

          Usability, sure, but a ton of “usable” applications are left to rot and haven’t been touched since 2010. cough cough ~/Applications/Utilities cough cough