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Lip Service - Rev 1.0, Released October 2013
The News Reader That Actually Reads
We wrote Lip Service in the spirit of the readers, or lectors, in the cigar factories of old Tampa. While the factory workers cut fine tobacco and rolled it into cigars, the lectors would read aloud from Spanish language newspapers, novels and even translate on the fly from English language papers. La lectura, or the reading, provided both education and entertainment to the factory workers. The factory workers revered the lectors.
One night, several months ago, my friend, and publisher of tech blog “From the Fiefdom,” asked me if I had read his latest blog entry. I replied that I had not, but I sure would like to listen to it on the way home that evening if only such a thing were possible. Lip Service was born in that moment. I would create my own personal lector.
By the next day, I had a rickety prototype working on the Windows Phone. There were many problems yet to solve of course. For example, the speech synthesis services provided by the phone do not allow background playback. This means exiting the app, or turning the screen off would stop playback. A server would have to do the speech synthesis work and feed the resulting media file to the phone. As usual, the project was going to be more complex than originally anticipated.
About this time Sumo Software had a lot of client work stacked up, so Lip Service went to the back burner for a couple of months. I messed with it whenever I had a free moment and made improvements where I could. The one major obstacle that seemed insurmountable was finding a modern transcoder to convert the huge WAV files created by the server’s speech synthesizer into much smaller WMA files for digestion by the phone. As luck would have it, Scott Ertz, Sumo Software’s co-founder, discovered a solution to this problem while we were working on a voice transcription service app for a client. As soon as we finished the client project, I went to work applying the solution to Lip Service.
With the major roadblock cleared, Scott and I decided we could finish Lip Service within two weeks. It has been a week and three days and we plan to publish in time to attend the Tamp Bay Lightning tomorrow night. My fingers are crossed.
This first release of Lip Service is defined more by what features we left out than those we included. At Sumo Software, we believe it is more important to release a working, polished product than a mass of half-baked features that no one wants. That doesn’t mean we don’t already have a long list of improvements for release two and beyond. One thing we knew we had to include was in-app feedback. We really want to hear new ideas, comments or complaints from you. Simply swipe left from here to provide feedback of your own.
I wish to thank the following people who made Lip Service possible. Thank you, Dave LeJeune, for always inspiring the Sumo Software team to do the impossible with bits and bytes. Thank you, Jun Sato, for staying up all night with me to do battle with Windows Server 2012, IIS and the craziness that is Microsoft Media Foundation. Most importantly, thank you, Scott Ertz, for never giving up, for being a great friend and the best programming partner a man could ask for.
For your listening pleasure, we have included three RSS feeds with Lip Service: “From the Fiefdom,” “Plughitz Live - The Upstream” and “Sumo Software Corporation.” You may add your own feeds and you are not obligated to keep any of the pre-installed feeds. I do hope you will at least give each of them a listen before unsubscribing, especially if you’re interested in the tech industry or software development.
We hope you will enjoy Lip Service while it reads aloud to you, like a lector of yesteryear, from your favorite news feeds. Use it while you exercise, drive or any time you want to simply relax and listen.
To keep up with news, upcoming features and everything Lip Service please visit the blog.
Windows Phone 8
English (United States)
News + Weather / International