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Text-to-speech is the new Podcast

Life hacks2 min read

Podcasts and audiobooks are great, but they only exist for content native to those formats.

Text-to-speech is a gamechanger. You can take ANY text from the internet and effectively turn it into a podcast or audiobook:

  1. Copy text from a webpage
  2. Paste it in a text-to-speech app
  3. Press play!

You can adjust the speed of the speech to match your preference. Google's engine has gotten really good at sounding natural with appropriate intonations, timings between words, and such so the listening experience is enjoyable. It doesn't sound too much like a robot.

I use a free Android app I found from searching "text to speech" on the Google Play Store. Google's text-to-speech engine comes preinstalled on Android devices so it's super lightweight.

I've found text-to-speech to be a great way to consume articles that are on my reading list while walking & enjoying the weather outdoors.

The Prequel: Nightmare on Avenida El Poblado

Listening & walking is convenient and practical.

Reading & walking, on the other hand, is just the opposite (except on a treadmill). It's distracting at best, and flat-out dangerous at worst.

In Medellín, Colombia in 2016, I was walking on the streets of El Poblado. It was a beautiful day around 4:30pm in the city of eternal spring. On my way to the supermarket, I decided to enjoy a chapter on my Kindle.

In my upper peripheral vision, I see someone approaching me directly instead of walking past me on the sidewalk. At this point the person is just a few feet away. I stop in my tracks and look up. The man tries to grab the Kindle from my hands, but I must've had a good grip on it because I pull it back out of his hands. At this point I realize I'm in trouble so I immediately turn around and start sprinting in the opposite direction as fast as I can. This all happened in a matter of seconds out of pure instinct. The scary part: as I was turning away, I saw in the corner of my eye that he was holding a long, ~6 inch dagger. After sprinting about 30 yards, I swivel my head to see if I'm being chased. I'm not. Other people walking on the sidewalk looked at me like I was crazy, but they had no idea I was just held at knifepoint.

I've heard in these situations it is wise to simply give up your belongings as to not endanger yourself, but my flight response came from pure instinct. It could have ended a lot worse.

I learned my lesson: don't make any valuables visible publicly, and always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you are alone.

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