Category Archives: Tricks ‘n’ tips

Case Study: Web to WAV

reading_triggerApril, from Green Bay, Wisconsin, uses Textise to help her read newsletter articles without getting a migraine. Here’s her story…

“I started getting migraine headaches a few years ago from reading so I had to give up 99% of my book reading. I really love to read newsletters, though, and it would take me forever to catch up because I could only read a little per day. So I was trying to find a software for my computer to read things to me and I found your Textise app. I combine that with Zabaware TTS Reader for Windows. 
 
“I click on an article in my newsletters, then right click to Textise it. I then copy the text to the Zabaware software and convert it to a WAV file so that I can listen to it while I’m doing other things. I also have a talking book machine from the WI Talking Book and Braille library. It lets you listen to daisy, WAVs, and MP3s. 
 
“I can  listen to them on my tablet, computer, or Talking Book player.
 
“Textise has helped me reduce my migraines a lot and allowed me to keep up with my reading. Thanks!”
It’s great to hear of the creative ways our users find for Textise. If you have a great story about how you use Textise, let us know via the Contact Page.

How to use Textise

Easy ways to use TextiseThere are various methods you can use to easily access Textise, either from the home page or by using browser short-cuts.

Here are your options…

From the Home Page

This is the way Textise started out and it’s still a useful way of using the tool. Just navigate to http://www.textise.net and you’ll see an input box marked “URL or search term”. As the label suggests, this allows you to either type in a URL or input a word or phrase you’d like to search for. If you’re searching, the drop-down underneath allows you to specify which search engine to use. Hit “Textise” or “Search” and you’ll be taken to a text only page showing either the page you specified or the search results.

Note 1: If the string you enter doesn’t contain any full stops (aka periods, aka dots), the program will assume you’re searching (since a URL always contains at least one full stop), in which case it won’t matter which button you press.

Note 2: For URLs, the program will add missing information. For example, you can type in “bbc.co.uk” and Textise will understand that you mean http://www.bbc.co.uk.

Note 3: If you type in a URL and click “Search”, the program will search for the URL using the currently selected search engine.

Firefox Add-on

For Firefox users, I’ve created an add-on that makes it easy to flip in and out of text only mode. The add-on can be accessed from the the right-click menu or from the Tools menu. Click once to enter text only mode, click again to return to the original page.

You can find more details on the Firefox Page or on the Mozilla site.

Note 4: The Mozilla site currently shows a rating of 3 out of 5 for the add-on. This is unfortunately the result of problems I had with Firefox 3.6: the structure of add-ons was changed for this version and this broke my original code. In the end, I had to re-write it from scratch. The latest incarnation has survived all of Firefox’s recent rapid version changes.

Bookmarklet

The bookmarklet provides almost exactly the same functionality as the Firefox add-on but works with all the major browsers (including Firefox). The major difference is that the bookmarklet can be configured to sit in a browser’s bookmarks/favourites bar, making it very easy to click in and out of text only mode. The underlying code is exactly the same.

You can find the bookmarklet on the Bookmarklet Page.

Note 5: For most browsers, it’s possible to simply drag the bookmarklet from the Bookmarklet Page into your bookmarks/favourites bar.

Textise Bookmarklet for iPad

Lorenzo Orlando Caum (@lorenzocaum) has published a brilliant tutorial on setting up the Textise bookmarklet on an iPad. I use this myself and can thoroughly recommend it.

Tips ‘n’ Tricks #2

A few more ways to make your text only output look funky/clear/interesting…

Easy on the eye

Black Tahoma font, 18pt, on a silver background. Like Sunday morning.

Easy on the eye

Exercise book

Proper old skool, this one. It uses the “Lined paper” background texture and the MV Boli font in blue. Add smudges and doodles to taste.

exercise book

Column

You can make text easier to read by restricting its width on the page: reducing eye/head movement is important in reducing eye strain. Use the “Text width” option to set a comfortable size. You can optionally add a border on the right-hand side, dotted or solid (it’s dotted in this example).

column

Manuscript

This is fun – you can make any web page look like something out the Lord Of The Rings or the Dark Ages. Just select “Manuscript” from the background texture drop-down and Maroon MV Boli.

manuscript

After writing this post I’ve been inspired to have a look for some more textures – and I might have a look at using Google fonts too. Keep an eye out!

Tips ‘n’ Tricks #1

Textise is a lot more configurable than people often realise. Using the Options page, you can choose how you’d like you text only output to look, from font colour to the way that links are formatted. The Options page can accessed from the Textise home page or any “Textised” page.

Textise Options page

Below are a few ideas and suggestions – just click the thumbnails to see bigger versions.

Vanilla

This is the way that the text only output is formatted by default. Font is Tahoma 14, links are in bold, underlined when hovered over.

Default settings

Underlined links

In this mode, links on the page are shown underlined instead of bold. To achieve this, just change “Link appearance” to “Underlined”.

Underlined links

No links

To get that true “text” feel, all links can be shown as plain text by selecting “Plain text” in the “Link style” section. Note that, in this mode, the links are no longer clickable: they really are “text only”.

No links mode

The other choices in the “Link style” section are “Textised” and “Original”. “Textised” means that links will lead to the text only version of a target page; “Original” means that links navigate to the “real” page.

Computer console

Finally for today, here’s a fun config: the full geek look, complete with Console font and lime text on a black background.

Computer console

More tricks ‘n’ tips soon!