Text to speech software

This is a topic I have had a lot of interest in lately. Text to speech is not really a new technology (I used it in the 80s) but its gotten significantly better. Additionally, people want to use it for professional products (ie elearning). Narration is an expensive cost in an elearning product so a good voice could help to really save a lot of money. So is it good? Well, at this point its OK. There is some software out there that really isn’t terrible and some that hasn’t improved since 1985. Overall I am excited to keep trying it out and see if it gets better over the next few years. Here are a few videos I have created which go through some of the current software on the market today. You can be the judge and jury: Would you use it?

Buying a new computer for college – Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 School year!

This post is for all undergrad and graduate students for Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 school year:

I have had several students ask me about buying a new computer and figured I would post to the group…

When I get a new computer I do one of two things…1) I get one that will last me 2 years or 2) one that will last me 4 years. Obviously the 4 yr one is much more expensive.

So my recommendations…

*See my product recommendations for computers and accessories

1. Get a student discount. All of the companies offer them. Now is a great time to get back to school deals (for instance they may throw in an ipad). Be sure to check out the main companies, Dell, ASUS, Apple, etc.

2. Get a minimum of 12GB of Ram. Ram matters. This is the first thing I choose to upgrade on a machine. If you are in a tech field (computer science, instructional technology, video editing, etc) I would really recommend as close to 32GB as you can get.

3. For the normal user, I don’t think you need to upgrade anything else unless you feel inclined to spend more money. Ram is the first thing I upgrade, video card 2nd, processor 3rd. In that order. I don’t worry about hard drive space at all as I use the cloud to store my files. I don’t worry about other features either except for making sure they have enough ports such as an HDMI port. If you are going to major in a tech related field, I would strongly recommend you upgrade the RAM, video card, and then processor.

5. I would get a PC over a Mac. Macs are great and work really well but there are some issues I run into with them in my courses. Either will work though! Chromebook, ipads, etc won’t cut it, you need a real machine. Again, Chromebook, ipads, etc won’t cut it, you need a real machine.

6. As far as brands, they are all fine for the most part. I prefer Alienware and Dell since that is what I have used over the last few years. I currently have an alienware R17 with max upgrades. I like alienware because they already come with upgraded video cards that you won’t even have an option for with a standard machine. A lot of them are VR Ready. In fact, the only machine in the college of education that runs VR is mine. None of the others will do it. But any brand will be ok as long as you (see #7)

7. Get a warranty. Get a warranty for as long as you want to keep the machine. Its worth it. I cannot tell you how many machines I have went through. I have had Macs die. I have had PC die. Many times. Just get the warranty. I think I have a 4 yr warranty on my current machine.

8. Price – Based on the specs I have provided, you can easily find a low end machine for $550. I don’t think you can find a 12GB ram machine for cheaper. I would recommend you spend $700-$1000 if you want this machine to last 4 years. Obviously, if you are going into a tech major you are going to spend more.

9. Size – This is all preference. Please go to a store and try a few different sizes. Common sizes are 13, 15, and 17 inches. I prefer 17 but some thing that is too big. My wife for example, prefers 13, which I think it too small.

If you have other questions, please feel free to ask. – Dr. Pastore

Video

2019 Security Recommendations

My 2019 Annual Security recommendations. These are recommendations I think you should follow to help keep your data and privacy safe online.

Browser: Firefox – Its open source and is the backbone of tor for a reason. I much prefer firefox to any other browser. Chrome is a close second but I do not like that its not open source. I only use Firefox for email and sites where I login otherwise, I use the next site listed as most secure for all of my searching, research, googling, etc. https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/

Most secure browser: Tor. Tor is designed for those times when you don’t want anyone to see what you are doing. TOR blocks your ISP, the government, etc —humblerise.com. from seeing what you are doing online. It keep everything you are searching very secure. Researchers, journalists, the government, and criminals all use tor when they want their tracks to be private. The bad thing about Tor is that its slow because its rerouting your data and some functions on various websites won’t work. https://www.torproject.org

Mobile Browser – Firefox and Firefox Focus are my preferred go to browsers. I mostly use firefox focus 99% of the time. Focus is really fast and simple. If you want more privacy, there are various tor browsers for the web https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/focus

Security add on for your browser/Adblock – uBlock – works for firefox and chrome and keeps away ads and other nonsense. This helps many pages load faster too. It will also prevent youtube ads. This is my goto addon when I install a new browser. https://www.ublock.org/

VPN – Cyberghost and others like NordVPN. If you are using a program like Kodi to watch TV/Movies you better be using a VPN. I used to solely recommend cyberghost because they were the cheapest quality VPN but now many others have dropped prices and offers sales/discounts. Its so much about which company but rather that you have one. When you use a VPN you entire computer is hidden from your ISP vs tor which just hides the tor browser. A VPN is a must when using public wifi like at a hotel or starbucks. https://www.cyberghostvpn.com/en_US/

Email: Protonmail – Anonymous email. Doesn’t track you. Keep your data/emails private and safe. https://protonmail.com/

Malware/adware – Malwarebytes – its free and very powerful. I use this every few weeks to check my machine. I recommend using this whenever your computer is acting slow/funky. Please consider buying the full version to support them. https://www.malwarebytes.com/

Antivirus – Honestly, windows defender that comes on your machine is probably good enough. Its all I personally use. Now on my wife’s machine I use Avira – Its free! She tends to need extra security! https://www.avira.com/

Firewall – I don’t use a firewall anymore now that windows defender does the job for me. But if I were to need the extra protection, I would use Zonealarm. A firewall is designed to stop all traffic you don’t approve to and from the internet – https://www.zonealarm.com/software/free-firewall/

How much money do Instructional Designers make?

What is the average salary of an instructional designer, trainer, elearning, edtech? What about hourly rates? How much money do Instructional Designers make? What is the salary with no work experience? What is the highest salary?

How popular are eSports?

Are eSports popular? Can you make money off of eSports? Do college offer eSports and gaming scholarships? Are there eSports arenas? These are some of the questions I answer in this video. Here are are some of the numbers and figures I discuss:

Some numbers:

43 billion – How much the movie industry made in 2018. Its also the amount the gaming industry made in America in 2018!

115 million – Highest viewership for a super bowl, ever, in 2015. 98 million – how many views the super bowl had in 2019. These super bowl #s are just to put perspective on gaming viewership since its the highest watched event in america.

99 million – How many people watch the league of legends championship series in 2018. So gaming viewership is near that of the super bowl.

Where can you play?

Arenas. We have arena now in every major city and more are being built. They are huge in other countries but they are coming or here in America!

School. Yep high schools and colleges are forming teams. In fact, you can get a college scholarship for gaming.

What about salary or money?

Top gamers are making 1-4 million dollars per year in salary/winnings. This does not include sponsorship/streaming money o any type of earnings like the supplements given to the top gamers like panax ginseng which helps them to achieve the best in their general health.

DanTDM, a top gaming streamer is estimated to be worth 45 million. So streaming/sponsorships can add significant $$$.

Ninja, a pro fortnite player was paid $1 million dollars to play a new game, Apex Legends, for a ‘few hours’, on release day.

So the money is there.

eSports are growing. Do you play or watch? I do.

How do people learn?

How do people learn? Do we have learning styles? What about learning taxonomies? What happens in our minds when we learn? How do we learn from doing, games, virtual reality?

3D Learning: What happens in working memory when we learn from virtual reality and games

Virtual reality technologies give us the capability to meld computer-generated images and the real world.

But how do we learn from virtual reality and games? What happens in our working memory? This video goes into detail about how we process that information. 3D Learning is a multisensory learning theory which explains how we learn through multiple channels in working memory.

For those new to VR and wonder about why the motion sickness happens, here is an explanation from sciencedaily.com.

“Years ago research showed that the brain can re-set an upside-down view of world to be right side up. Constantly changing images pose a bigger challenge for the brain, which has to deal with ‘lag’: the time it takes the computer system to update and display changing visual images corresponding to the users head movements. This may be a variable linked to motion sickness and other symptoms related to helmet-mounted devices.”

3D Learning

  • 3D Learning is a theory that expands on prior 2D cognitive theories (i.e. theories that focused on text and images) to explain how we process content to learn in the real world through all domains (psychomotor/affective/cognitive), from games, from experience, in virtual reality, from hand on activities, etc.
  • Its organic – living and changing
  • Research has only begun to scratch the surface
  • The model:
    • Multiple Input sources
      • Multiple input sources – There are a number of input sources that humans experience. These include vision, hearing, feeling, doing, smelling, tasting and many more
    • Sensory Memory
      • Sensory memory is where we first experience the input and put it into working memory or dismiss it
    • Working Memory
      • Learners have/can process information through a number of channels in working memory (i.e. visual, verbal, haptic/kinesthetic, olfactory, and more)
      • Learners can process multiple channels at the same time (can work together or independently from one another).
      • No matter how many channels we have, we can still only store a limited # of concepts in working memory
      • Training can improve each channel.
      • Learners will have natural strengths and preferences for one channel vs another.
      • Learners can work with prior knowledge from long term memory
    • Long term Memory
      • Long term memory is said to be indefinite

5.0 What’s next…

  • We need to expand the multimedia principles…and probably should be calling them the principles of learning
  • What are the other channels/how many?
    • Olfactory, haptic/kinesthetic, taste, etc. How many do we have?
  • What combinations work best? How many is too many?
    • For example, using our eyes, ears, and hands. Is that too many? How does that impact cognitive load?
    • There is a new game style as a memory and strategy challenge from one of the best gaming developers (lockbusters escape game) where the game is in real life mode in a room full of clues for you to discover.
  • This is especially crucial to the gaming literature as virtual reality starts to become more common for hands on training