Textic Limited, the text to speech solutions specialist, today announced the commercial launch of Talklets.
Unlike first generation text to speech (TTS) implementations that require users to download a software application, Talklets is the industry’s first commercial software as a service (SaaS) model for TTS.
Website owners simply need to insert a few lines of code into the web pages they wish to voice enable to create the necessary links to Tactic’s server platform, which then dynamically converts selected text to a streaming audio file.
With minimal time lag, typically within one second, the user hears the text read to them by one of a number of predefined voices, which closely approximate natural speech. Alternatively, the user can opt to have the selected text converted to an MP3 file, which is then downloaded and saved for later use or transferred to, for example, an iPod or mobile phone.
Bespoke implementations allow for the development of brand-specific voices that are developed by sampling an individual’s speech patterns.
The launch of Talklets is preceded by three years of research and development, culminating in technical and user trials earlier in 2008. Newly appointed CEO Paul Ayres, who previously launched both Netscape and RealNetworks in the European market, will head the commercial launch.
Paul Ayres commented, “The obvious use of the Talklets service is to satisfy increasingly stringent accessibility requirements that are mandated in legislation around the world. However, stopping there ignores the significant revenue generating opportunities available. Something like 80% of the data consumed on the Web is text and it’s only available now if you’re in front of a readable screen or if it’s printed. Talklets is designed to extract that text and deliver it in a form that meets the increasing demand for anytime, anywhere, any device access to information.
“Website owners need to start thinking how they can use Talklets to extract maximum value from the text based assets they have invested in. The combination of the software as a service model and natural speech means that services can be delivered effortlessly and be completely brand specific. There’s no reason why we couldn’t have Murray Walker voicing motor racing sites, David Frost reading news portals or Kate Moss reading fashion tips. The initial indications we have from our trials suggest that making text more flexible and accessible offers considerable long term benefits by attracting new audiences, increasing engagement and extending user ‘stickiness’.”
Talklets implementations are available for small and medium sized businesses, enterprises, public sector organisations and OEMs. Flexible pricing models relate to site traffic and the level of customization required. For companies operating in multiple geographies, Textic offers a range of male and female voices in major languages including English (UK & US), French, Dutch, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Greek and Welsh.
Fast, low-cost e-brochure solutions from ebxp
10 July 2008
e-publications specialists, ebxp, are proud to announce the launch of paperwiz, their low-cost software that helps companies take their printed brochures online quickly and easily, further reducing printing costs, saving paper and increasing visibility.
paperwiz is the ideal solution for companies wanting to convert existing brochures to online sales & marketing tools for wide distribution at a low price. e-publications retain the look and layout of traditional printed brochures while the contents, page-turning technology and zoom features make it as easy to navigate as reading a printed version. paperwiz even includes advanced features like keyword search, SEO and results measurement through Google Analytics allowing businesses to really make the most of their digital marketing.
ebxp are renown for offering bespoke e-brochures from concept to design and production. Using the latest technology they make online brochures fully interactive without compromising on image quality or creating files that are slow to download. Their client list spans a wide range of business sectors and includes Tourism Ireland, DAB Digital Radio, Reading Arts Centre and Said Business School.
ebxp’s investment in developing paperwiz has created a complimentary service offering a fast, efficient and low-cost solution that will prove particularly useful for companies looking to put multiple publications online. It’s the ideal solution for tourism brochures, magazine publishing, corporate marketing, annual reports and prospectuses.
Says co-MD Jeannie Shapiro, “We’ve developed paperwiz for all those companies looking for an inexpensive tool to help distribute existing brochures online. We’re particularly proud of the exceptionally fast turnaround paperwiz enables us to offer clients, often as little as 24 hours.”
As head of market development at YHA England & Wales, Sarah Fussey has worked closely with ebxp on a number of projects over the past three years. Of paperwiz she says: “The introduction of paperwiz is a welcome addition to the services that YHA contracts from ebxp. This will provide us with a simple, cost effective way to communicate detailed information about our school trip products to teachers in a format that is really user friendly.”
Experience and expertise at ebxp are just some of the reasons why so many companies turn to them not only to create their online brochures but also for advice on the best use of these e-brochures to reach their target audience and obtain maximum exposure.
paperwiz is available from ebxp. Average price £15/page, 24 – 48 hour turn around for up to 100 pages. To learn more about paperwiz call 01869 255747 or visit www.ebxp.com.
THE TOP TEN WAYS TO STOP COMPUTERS COSTING YOU YOUR BUSINESS
09 July 2008
In the middle of the credit crunch, the last thing small to mid-size companies need is a computer or data security disaster getting in the way of winning or holding on to business. The fact is that, today, small companies are just as exposed to computer security breaches (whether loss, fraud, theft, automated hacking attack or sophisticated blended phishing or spam attacks) as larger ones, and with the average cost of a security breach somewhere between £10k and £20k, it is an exposure that smaller organisations can no longer afford. As smaller companies typically have fewer resources available to support a quick recovery from these disasters, the prevention is better than cure imperative is even more important for them than for their bigger competitors.
The good news is that business owners and managers can protect themselves from such dangers, allowing them to concentrate their efforts on getting their businesses through the downturn, by following the clear advice in independent compliance expert IT Governance’s newly-released pocket guide on information security, Ten Rules of Information Security for the Smaller Business.
This highly-informative pocket guide presents in business, not techie, language the basic commonsense precautions smaller firms need to take, describing how to apply ten easy-to-follow rules that will ensure peace of mind and, more importantly, protect future cash flow.
In the past, larger organisations tended to be the main target of attacks and, therefore, only those organisations tended to take appropriate steps to protect their IT infrastructure.
Now, however, even the smallest business operating out of a home office is exposed to the same hostile electronic environment – and data compliance requirements – as the world’s largest companies.
Electronic attacks are now largely automated and seek out unprotected targets on the Internet, finding and attacking unprotected connections within minutes. Highly sophisticated and equally automated threats lurk on websites across the Internet, in e-mails and outside in the physical world. Data Protection Act (DPA) compliance also applies to the smallest business – and, after the highly publicised failures of organisations like HMRC, even the smallest organisation is now in the gun sights of the Information Commissioner. £5k fines for breaching the DPA are going to increase, as is the rate of prosecutions.
Every business needs to take appropriate steps to protect and store its mission-critical data. And with even the smallest of ‘one man band’ companies now connected to the Internet, and with many SMEs running their own computer networks and websites, business owners need to take cost-effective, practical precautions to take in order to defend themselves against cyber threats.
Ten Rules of Information Security for the Smaller Business supplies the missing link, explaining how and where to start becoming safe, spelling out the threats and risks the small operator faces, and offering ten low-maintenance, cost-effective measures that will help them address their information security challenges. This handy pocket guide includes clear guidance on the right way to work with passwords, how any business can use its existing technology to set up firewalls and anti-spam barriers, and how to protect your wireless network.
Alan Calder, Chief Executive of IT Governance, points out: “Small businesses must make it their number one priority to take practical steps to protect against the increased risk of cyber attack. The risk has grown exponentially, and while previously a growing organisation could take a much more laissez-faire approach, the rise in Internet-related threats and other computer-related risks means that, even in the smallest of operations, protective steps need to be taken in order to guard against an unwelcome visit from one of these attackers. This guide is an ideal starting point to understand your organisation’s particular needs.”
Ten Rules of Information Security for the Smaller Business is priced at £19.95/$39.50/25.94 and is available in soft cover (ISBN 978-1-9053-5654-6), and is also available as a download. To order a copy, visit https://www.itgovernance.co.uk/shop/category/itgp-books
Business Plan Pro receives HIGHLY RECOMMENDED accreditation from Company Partners
08 July 2008
Palo Alto Software Ltd today announced that its flagship product Business Plan Pro®11.0 has received a ‘highly recommended’ rating from Wokingham-based Company Partners
Company Partners provides an online service to put people who are looking for business partners in touch with each other, serving both those starting a business, and those growing an existing business. They also enable business angels and those looking for business investment to contact each other directly.
Company Partners also undertakes an annual review of the best business plan applications available and reports on their findings through their Company Partners website. This is the first time that anyone has achieved a highly-recommended rating.
To read the product review in full, please visit the Company Partners website at this link:
Business Plan Pro®11.0 is available immediately at
http://www.paloalto.co.uk, from Amazon and also from Borders, Oxford Street, London.
THE END OF MARKET RESEARCH AS WE KNOW IT?
07 July 2008
A social networking platform for social entrepreneurs has announced a host of changes that could spell the end for street-based market research altogether.
UnLtdWorld, an online platform for social entrepreneurs is launching a new developer platform that will allow users to access anonymous real time information from its site.
The platform will allow anyone logged into the network to access all the data behind the UnLtdWorld Research Lab for comparative and historical analysis. It will allow for real-time and dynamic use with other datasets, and within mash-ups and applications that can be deployed anywhere on the web.
On www.UnLtdWorld.com, users will be able to pull, display and use segments of data, such as information relating to specific locations and interests.
Examples of usage could include displaying the relation between crime rates or crime prevention initiatives in different areas and social enterprise’s and social entrepreneurs operating in these areas; measuring the relevancy of service provision by mapping what is offered with the needs and skills of social entrepreneurs: the research lab data would allow to assess real needs and identify gaps in service provision.
This data can then dynamically be used within other application including other datasets that can then be deployed anywhere on the web, such as other Social Networking sites, or for research for particular interests or projects.
Following on with the above example, due to the fact that data is fed in real time, as data evolves and changes within the Research Lab, it will also update wherever it is being used online, providing a constantly up-to-date projection.
The Research Lab provides a deep, unique and anonymous breakdown of the UnLtdWorld community and content. It is in essence a large focus group from which to extract and manipulate data.
Through the Research Lab, UnLtdWorld aims to help build the capacity of social entrepreneurship, to enhance the efficiency of relations between social entrepreneurs, relevant stakeholders and the general public, and to provide critical social insight and context anywhere. Now, anyone, no matter what their size, can access, use and take advantage of this platform.
UnLtdWorld have also integrated Clickpass, an OpenID and cross-platform authentication provider and issuer, into the platform. This means that members will be able to register on UnLtdWorld and synchronise their account with using OpenID and popular authentication credentials, including Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft Live and Facebook.
Blackwell to bring first Espresso book machine to the UK
03 July 2008
Blackwell has announced that they have signed an exclusive agreement with On Demand Books to bring the first Espresso Book Machine to a UK Bookseller this year. The Espresso has now been successfully launched in nine installation sites including The Library of Alexandria, Egypt, the
University of Alberta, Canada and several locations in the US including the
World Bank and Northshire Bookstore in Vermont.
The Espresso book machine is able to print library quality paperbacks from digital files in minutes, and is revolutionising the book world.
The arrangement includes a number of agreed trial shops to begin with, followed by a roll-out opportunity across the Blackwell chain as well as possibilities overseas both in future international retail sites and in library supply. Details of agreed trial shops have yet to be finalised.
There is a confidential exclusivity agreement in place that will allow Blackwell and On Demand Books to create critical mass and to leverage the exciting possibilities that the technology makes possible.
Vince Gunn, CEO of Blackwell UK said, “When I first read about the Espresso book machine in The Bookseller, I was very keen to see it in action. From a retailer’s point of view, even allowing for the first generation technology and publisher challenges, this is a fantastic opportunity – we can sell to demand with no risk to inventory and there is an opportunity to create incremental revenue streams for publishers and ourselves. The feedback from
Todd Anderson in Canada confirms what is possible when retailers and publishers work together. Through our relationship with the publishing community we are looking forward to leveraging our unique brand position and international network to drive this exciting new technology forward. We are very much looking forward to working with Dane and the On Demand team.”
Dane Neller, CEO of On Demand Books said, “Blackwell is a superb partner of choice for us to launch in the UK market. They have an outstanding pedigree of book history behind them with a reputation for innovation. Their academic and specialist credentials both here and overseas are well suited for the Espresso book machine and we believe together we can maximise this exciting development in the book market.”
The date for launch is yet to be determined but is expected to be in autumn 2008.
KEEPING PACE WITH WEB 2.0 MAY BE ONLY WAY TO REMAIN COMPETITIVE
02 July 2008
Web 2.0 is a business reality and organisations risk losing their competitive edge if they fail to engage with Web 2.0 technologies. However, firms face making critical mistakes around privacy, information security and possible legal action if they adopt Web 2.0 technologies without thinking through their risks. In response, independent compliance expert IT Governance has just published the IT Governance Best Practice Report, Web 2.0: Trends, Benefits & Risks’, the first comprehensive look at both the opportunities and threats which Web 2.0 presents to the business world.
Web 2.0, or social networking, is a catch-all term for making websites as interactive as possible, with examples like Facebook, YouTube and photo-sharing site Flickr being among the best known. All manner of companies are starting to adopt the same kind of approaches by encouraging employee blogs, customer forums, greater use of multi-media content and images, and self-created encyclopaedias (known as ‘wikis’). Firms that care about their business and which are not using these strategies to engage with the audiences, from customer to partner to supplier to staff member, risk jeopardising those relationships and wasting the technology’s competitive potential.
However, before companies rush into Web 2.0, they need to consider how empowering their employees, or inviting more and more outside comment on their sites, could lead them to litigation or other privacy and data protection problem areas.
This 113-page Best Practice Report structures what managers really need to know about Web 2.0 and social networking, starting from a workable description of what Web 2.0 actually means in the business environment. It then goes on to offer an in-depth glossary of Web 2.0 terms, and a description of the business benefits to be derived from Web 2.0 technologies, with examples taken from real-life case studies. There is also an identification and discussion of the information security risks inherent in Web 2.0 technologies, together with recommendations for their effective mitigation.
The need for clear thinking about the right way to move to Web 2.0 is highlighted by a recent survey by IT Governance (May 2008), which showed that over 40% of respondents are using Web 2.0 sites for more than an hour each day: a proportion markedly higher in the ‘Generation Y’ (16 to 25-year-old) demographic.
The message is that the smarter organisations will adopt and adapt Web 2.0 technologies while safeguarding themselves against the dangers – risks such as breach of privacy, financial costs (lower productivity, increased drag on the corporate bandwidth) and security and regulatory compliance. Doing this will enable them to offer staff and customers the more information-rich and agile way of working and operating – at less risk.
Alan Calder, Chief Executive of IT Governance, commented,
“Company leaders have, for too long, been burying their heads in the sand when it comes to the importance of social networking. Web 2.0 is now a business reality, and CEOs need to get a proper understanding of its risks and benefits so as not to miss out on the opportunity. The best place to start such a journey is with our Best Practice Report, which aims to separate the hype from the reality.”