narrator

Where things are at

I've have been rather quiet of late, haven't I? I thought I'd post a status update, as preview of my traditional end-of-year summary.

I spent the first half of 2010 working on Tweeps, a free app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch to easily manage Twitter accounts. It was an interesting experience; I had written two previous apps for iPhones (SmileDial and Valentines), but Tweeps was a much bigger project, and my first iPad app. It includes a lot of handy technology that I'll put to use in future iOS apps.

After releasing a few bug-fix updates of my various Mac apps, I got to work on version 2.6 of Simon, my flagship product to monitor websites and servers for changes and failures. This is a significant update, and I've blogged about it a number of times recently, showing sneak peeks of some of the new features. Work on it progresses nicely. Recently Daniel was able to update the Twitter plugin to work with the new OAuth authentication scheme required with Twitter. I'm hoping to have Simon 2.6 ready for beta testing around mid-October, with a general release around mid-November. (And in the meantime, contact me if you want to try a sneak peek release — available to licensed users only.)

An interesting thing that occurred a little while ago was the sale of my first Mac OS X app. Narrator, my app to read out stories in multiple voices, was acquired by Mariner Software. That was quite an interesting experience; I'd never sold off an app before. But I still feel it was the best thing for everybody: I wasn't giving Narrator the love it deserved, and it's a great fit with Mariner's other apps. Based on that experience, I'll definitely consider offers on other of my apps, when appropriate.

After Simon 2.6 is out, assuming I have time, I'm going to close out the year with version 1.4 of Caboodle, my lean clean snippet machine. This update will include some much-requested new features, like a default font preference, encryption of child entries with the parent, and more. If Simon takes longer than anticipated, this might get pushed to next year, but I'm hoping I can get it done this year.

Next year I want my top priority to be finishing off version 2.0 of Time Out, my very handy break reminder tool. I had wanted to finish it last year, but it got postponed by Tweeps and Simon updates. It remains an important and exciting update, though, so I'm really looking forward to it. I'm sure it'll be worth the wait. And as previously mentioned, everyone who makes a donation for Time Out now will be automatically eligible for the full-featured paid edition at no additional cost — so you can set your own price for it now! This offer expires when version 2 is released. Thank you to everyone who has already donated; the volume of donations is really encouraging.

So that's where things stand now, and for the next few months. I have big plans for several of my apps after that, but I don't want to talk about future plans too much, since everything is always subject to change. What's important to me is that everything I release is of the best quality, not that I meet arbitrary deadlines. That's just the way I roll.

Narrator has moved to Mariner Software site

As discussed in a blog post a couple of months ago, my first Mac OS X application, Narrator, was acquired by Minneapolis-based Mariner Software, Inc.

The intervening time has been a transition period, as Mariner updated Narrator to use their branding, licensing, and so forth, and as their support staff got up-to-speed with the app. That process has now been completed, and Narrator is now available on their website.

Visit Mariner's Narrator web page for more information about the rebranded Narrator.

Sales and support for Narrator are now handled by Mariner. Existing Narrator 2 customers can update to the Mariner-branded edition at no cost. If you have any queries about it, please check out their helpful support resources.

I'll be interested to hear your experiences with this transition. If you have any comments (good or bad), please get in touch.

Vote for Dejal apps in VoteBundle

The people behind the popular Mac Bundle Box promotions have launched an innovative new bundle concept: the VoteBundle.

Three Dejal products are in the running: Simon, my tool to monitor websites and servers for changes or failures; Narrator, my fun app to read out stories in multiple voices (soon to move to Mariner Software); and BlogAssist, my handy tool to make marking up HTML easier. As I write this, Simon is doing quite well, though could certainly use more votes, while the other two are trailing. If you like these apps, please vote them up!

Here's an intro video (not iOS compatible, unfortunately):

VoteBundle 1 - www.VoteBundle.com from Christian Owens on Vimeo.

Welcome to VoteBundle the very first community driven, democratic Mac software bundle. Cast your votes now, www.VoteBundle.com

Mariner Software acquires Narrator

Big news: my first Mac OS X application, Narrator, an app to read out stories and interviews in multiple voices, has been acquired by Minneapolis-based Mariner Software, Inc..

Mariner Software produces several Mac apps, including MacJournal, Mariner Write, Mariner Calc, StoryMill, and many more, plus apps for Windows, iPad, and iPhone. They're a great fit for Narrator, since they already have a focus on writing-related products.

So why did I decide to sell Narrator? It comes down to a lack of time. I'm basically a one-man shop: I do development, support, marketing, administration, and more, all myself. I sometimes use contractor assistance for development projects or graphic design, but the vast majority of the work I do myself. I also do contract work. So I have to prioritize my time: I can only devote so much time to each product.

Narrator was originally written back in 2002 as a fun exercise to learn the Cocoa frameworks. Then version 2 was a complete rewrite in 2008 as a way to learn Core Data and other modern technologies. But while speech technologies have always been a bit of a hobby interest with me, I haven't had enough time to enhance Narrator further. Which is a pity, as I and Narrator users have had lots of great ideas for enhancements to the app.

I finally came to the conclusion that since I couldn't give Narrator the attention it deserved, I had a choice: I could discontinue it, or let some other company take over its development.

I didn't want to discontinue Narrator, since it has such great potential, and is relied on by lots of customers, including schools and writers. So to better serve the app and its users, selling Narrator was the best option. Fortunately, Mariner Software came along at the right time, and seemed a perfect fit, since they have the resources to support multiple products, and already have apps that focus on the writing and educational markets where Narrator is most popular.

This is great news for Narrator users.

We'll make the transition as easy as possible for existing customers. Until the official switchover, you can continue to buy and get support for Narrator via the Dejal site. And once it is moved to the Mariner site, licensed users will be able to upgrade to the Mariner-branded edition of Narrator for free.

Stay tuned for news of when the changeover will occur, and further details.

Narrator 2.0.7 released

Narrator, my fun application to read out stories and interviews in multiple voices, has been updated to version 2.0.7.

This is a minor bug-fix update to correct an issue with looking up licenses in certain situations, but is recommended for everyone.

Download Narrator 2.0.7 now!

Narrator in Mac Bundle Box & Caboodle in TheMacBundles

[Mac Bundle Box]

Two Dejal products are in separate bundles at the same time currently:

  • Narrator, my fun application to read out stories and interviews in multiple voices, is in Mac Bundle Box, a collection of 6 handy apps for only $29.00.
  • Caboodle, my lean clean snippet machine to help store and organize text and images, is in TheMacBundles, a collection of 12 useful apps for only $49.95.
  • Also, Narrator is available separately as a weekly special for only $9.95 via TheMacBundles, for this week only.

20% of Mac Bundle Box purchases will be donated to the American Red Cross for Haiti disaster relief.

Check out the Mac Bundle Box and TheMacBundles websites for more information about the bundles, including the other applications included in each, or to take advantage of these great deals!

Indie+Relief followup

Yesterday around 150 independent Mac and iPhone developers participated in Indie+Relief. These developers pledged to donate proceeds of all yesterday's sales to a charity of their choice for Haiti relief efforts.

This event was organized by Justin Williams of Second Gear Software. It started off as an idea for himself, and he shared it with people on Twitter, and the idea spread. Soon, he was gathering information from other developers and setting up a website, with the design help of Garrett Murray. What started as a simple idea for himself grew into a major fundraising effort involving hundreds of applications.

I was more than happy to join in, and am pleased to be able to report sales totalling $1,350 yesterday (which is definitely more than a typical day!).

I will be donating this amount to Mercy Corps, a very worthwhile Portland-based charity. Read more about what they're doing in Haiti.

Furthermore, my wife's corporate overlords have a program of matching charitable donations, so that will bring the total up to $2,700.

It'll probably take a few days to get a total from all developers participating in Indie+Relief, but it sounds like more than $100,000 has been raised.

A very big thank you to everyone who participated, and especially to the many kind people who purchased Dejal products yesterday. I got emails from a few people saying that they had been thinking about buying Simon, and decided to buy the Enterprise license as a way to help donate to Haiti.

If you missed this event, not to worry — you can still make donations to the charity of your choice. I recommend Mercy Corps, but Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross and others are also excellent choices.

Finally, Narrator is currently in the Mac Bundle Box promotion. The bundle organizer will be donating 20% of all proceeds from this bundle to the Red Cross. So you can still donate while getting great software.

Narrator 2.0.6 released

I've just released an update to Narrator, my fun app to read out stories and interviews in multiple voices.

Version 2.0.6 fixes a couple of small but annoying bugs, and is a recommended update for everyone:

  • Fixed a bug where the age, gender, and sliders might not update when changing actors or characters.
  • Fixed a bug that could occasionally cause the Play button to stop working when playing/pausing or changing voice attributes quickly.

Download Narrator 2.0.6 now!

Narrator 2.0.5 released

I'm pleased to report that we now have a solution for the Snow Leopard incompatibility of Narrator, the fun app to read out stories and interviews in multiple voices.

The issue was a bug in Snow Leopard, which prevented Narrator from open its own documents. The bug stumped Apple's Developr Technical Support engineers, and definitely seems to be a bug in the operating system itself, not in my code. But the DTS engineers finally came up with a workaround for the bug, which this update implements. Narrator can once again open its documents, and so now appears to be fully compatible with Snow Leopard.

My apologies for any inconvenience this bug may have caused.

Download Narrator 2.0.5 now!

And remember, you can still get Narrator and 11 other useful apps for just $49.95 from TheMacBundles for another few days.

Last chance for TheMacBundles!

TheMacBundles promotion is almost over! Last chance to get Dejal Narrator and 11 other great apps for just $49.95.

Narrator utilizes speech synthesis to read out the contents of a text document, using different voices for different parts. You have a range of "actors" that can portray any number of "characters", so various passages of your document are spoken with differing voices, pitches, inflections, etc. You can have it read out a play or story with appropriate voices. The words are highlighted on-screen, and there are also a couple of silent read-along options for stage directions, or for you to read out your own parts. A full license is included in the bundle, not some cut-down version.

You can see more of it on the Narrator page, or download it now to give it a try.

Note that at present Narrator has an issue on Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard): everything works okay, except that it can't open saved Narrator documents. It can open other kinds, though. I'm still waiting for help from Apple to fix this, but will release a free update to fix this as soon as possible. Of course, if you're still on Leopard, you won't be affected.

This bundle also includes 11 other fine apps, for only $49.95. A bargain!

The included apps are:

  • CrossOver Games
  • DVDRemaster Pro
  • Entourage Email Archive X
  • EastPrint
  • ImageFramer
  • Money
  • Neutrino
  • Scribbles
  • Speed Download
  • Super Flexible File Synchronizer

Plus bonuses:

  • Mac DVDRipper Pro
  • Narrator

12 apps for just $49.95 — a saving of over 85%!

Visit TheMacBundles.com to learn more, or to take advantage of this great deal before it expires. Don't delay!

Narrator and 11 other apps in TheMacBundles

I'm pleased to announce that Dejal Narrator, my fun app to read out stories and interviews in multiple voices, is included as a bonus in the fourth TheMacBundles collection.

Narrator utilizes speech synthesis to read out the contents of a text document, using different voices for different parts. You have a range of "actors" that can portray any number of "characters", so various passages of your document are spoken with differing voices, pitches, inflections, etc. You can have it read out a play or story with appropriate voices. The words are highlighted on-screen, and there are also a couple of silent read-along options for stage directions, or for you to read out your own parts. A full license is included in the bundle, not some cut-down version.

You can see more of it on the Narrator page, or download it now to give it a try.

Note that at present Narrator has an issue on Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard): everything works okay, except that it can't open saved Narrator documents. It can open other kinds, though. I'm waiting for help from Apple to fix this, but will release a free update to fix this as soon as possible. Of course, if you're still on Leopard, you won't be affected.

This bundle also includes 11 other fine apps, for only $49.95. A bargain!

The included apps are:

  • CrossOver Games
  • DVDRemaster Pro
  • Entourage Email Archive X
  • EastPrint
  • ImageFramer
  • Money
  • Neutrino
  • Scribbles
  • Speed Download
  • Super Flexible File Synchronizer

Plus bonuses:

  • Mac DVDRipper Pro
  • Narrator

12 apps for just $49.95 — a saving of over 85%!

Visit TheMacBundles.com to learn more, or to take advantage of this great deal.

Dejal apps on Snow Leopard

Snow LeopardGood news: most Dejal apps work fine on Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6).

One issue that you may find with Caboodle and BlogAssist is that the Services menu has been enhanced, and the items for those apps might be disabled by default. You can re-enable them via the Keyboard Shortcuts page of the Keyboard system preferences.

However, it's not all good news. Narrator seems to be broken on Snowy. Opening a document fails, whether it was saved on Leopard or Snow Leopard. The document opens, but no content is loaded. It still opens version 1 documents fine, but not version 2's, which is rather a problem.

I've spent several hours last night and this morning trying to figure out what the problem is, without any luck so far. I'll keep on it, but just wanted to warn anyone using Narrator.

Help cure cancer with the Pan-Mass Challenge software bundles

Once again, Seth Dillingham is offering bundles as a fund-raiser for the Pan-Mass Challenge, which supports cancer research and treatment. A very worthy cause.

Unlike typical software bundles, where hundreds or thousands of people might get a fixed collection of apps at a discount, this one is a bit different: you can use his Bundle Builder site to make your personal ideal bundle of iPhone and/or Mac apps, and offer your own price for it.

I am happy to participate in this effort again this year. A Standard license is available for Dejal Simon, my essential server monitoring tool, along with licenses for Dejal Caboodle, my lean clean snippet machine, Dejal Narrator, my fun app to speak stories in multiple voices, and Dejal BlogAssist, my handy HTML markup tool. Plus hundreds of other great products from other developers.

Go ahead, take a look, and put together your ideal bundle of apps, and help fight cancer!

Narrator 2.0.4 released

Narrator, my fun text-to-speech tool to read out stories or interviews in multiple voices, has now been updated to version 2.0.4.

It includes:

  • Fixed an issue with the Preferences window, where edits might not be saved when quitting with the window still open (specifically when an edit is still active).
  • Fixed an issue that could prevent finding licenses in very rare circumstances.
  • Updated the built-in Kagi purchasing tool to the latest version, which fixes some issues with Leopard.

Download Narrator 2.0.4 now!

Give Good Food to Your Mac

Macs are used by people with taste; the taste to know that the Mac is the best computing platform in the world!

So people with discerning tastes of course want only the best ingredients. Once again, the Give Good Food to Your Mac promotion is here to help.

You can select from a delicious range of quality Mac software, sampling each to find just the right items for you. Then construct a recipe of delights, receiving an increasing discount the more you purchase.

I am very pleased to be able to include Dejal Narrator to this elite selection. Narrator is an elegant speech synthesis application that has a unique feature: the ability to mix multiple voices in one document, e.g. to listen to an interview or read out a story with multiple characters. It also supports exporting to iTunes or sound files, so you can make your own synthesized voice podcasts.

So take a moment to browse through the ingredients and enjoy the savings on many fine specimens of Mac software!

Visit the Give Good Food to Your Mac site.

Simon, Caboodle & Narrator on MacUpdate Promo

Did you miss out on Dejal Simon on MacUpdate Promo recently? Never fear — I've agreed to list it at a great price in their extended deals section.

What's more, Caboodle, my handy app to keep snippets of text, images, PDFs, etc organized, and Narrator, my fun app to speak text in multiple voices, are also still available via MacUpdate Promo special deals, for a limited time:

Narrator 2.0.3 released

Narrator, my fun text-to-speech app that allows mixing multiple voices in a document and exporting to iTunes, has been updated to version 2.0.3.

This release includes some important bug fixes, and is a recommended update for everyone:

  • Fixed an issue with the Export to iTunes feature, where the importing-into-iTunes phase could fail with a "parameter error" if exporting a lot of text.
  • The lyrics value in the Export to iTunes is now limited to a length of 20,000 characters, to avoid overloading the export mechanism.
  • Fixed an occasional crasher if the word highlighting is out-of-sync with the spoken text for some reason.
  • Disabled automatic emphasis in speech for non-Apple voices, to work around a bug in the Cepstral voices, where it gives a spurious exception regarding an unexpected emphasis close tag, when there is nothing wrong with the text.

Download now!

Mac Bundle Box now available!

Mac Bundle Box

The Mac Bundle Box collection of 15 great applications is now available!

The bundle includes my own Caboodle and Narrator, plus 13 more excellent applications from other independent developers, for the low price of $49.95 total. Save hundreds of dollars over the cost of buying them separately! My two apps are together worth $35, so If there are even just one or two other apps in the bundle that you want, you'll be saving lots of money.

Visit the Mac Bundle Box site to take advantage of this great deal, while it lasts!

Sneak peek: Mac Bundle Box

Coming on August 1st:

Mac Bundle Box

A bundle of 15 great applications, including my own Caboodle and Narrator, for only $49.95 total.

Get a sneak peek at the contents via Chris Pirillo:

Visit the Mac Bundle Box site to sign up to be notified when it's available, or come back in a couple of days!

Narrator 2.0.2 released

Narrator, my app to read out stories in multiple voices, has been updated to version 2.0.2.

It is also available for half price for today only, via the MacUpdate Promo page. Be in quick to take advantage of this one-day offer!

This bug-fix release includes a few important issues:

  • Fixed an occasional crasher when saving a document immediately after making text or ruler changes.
  • Fixed a bug where the license reminder in the window title would appear even when licensed, when launching the application by opening a document instead of launching the app directly.
  • Fixed a cosmetic bug with the Check for Updates feature when using a general release and wanting only general releases, and a beta release is available.

Download Narrator 2.0.2 now, and check out the MacUpdate Promo deal before it expires!

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