AI and the Future of Audiobooks, featuring Simon Vance

If you’re an audiobook listener, you’ve probably heard or seen comments that suggest that listening to an audiobook is “cheating,“ that it’s not really reading a book. But you know that this is false. When you listen to an audiobook, you listen to a performance of a book, which is as much “the book” as when you view the words. In the voice of a skillful narrator, an audiobook becomes an immersive experience, and can unfold elements of a text that you might not appreciate on paper.

We have reached a fork in the road for audiobooks. While they have never been more popular, as people listen to a wide variety of audio content on the go and at the gym, it is now possible to use synthesized voices to make spoken-word versions of any kind of text that sound sort of real. These voices are much better than the text-to-speech voices you can already access on your computer.

Apple is already offering an AI audiobook option for self-published authors who sell on their Books platform, and it won’t be long before Amazon-owned Audible follows. We will soon have two tiers of audiobooks: those read by experienced narrators, able to tease out the subtleties and nuances of texts, and those read by mechanical voices, that may sound somewhat real, but that lack humanity. Is using AI to narrate audiobooks a form of cheating?

Read the rest of the article on The L&L Blog.

To learn how to use Scrivener for Mac, Windows, and iOS, check out my book Take Control of Scrivener 3.

The New HomePod Brings a New Sound and More Home Smarts

It was a surprise when Apple discontinued the original HomePod in March 2021, after three years, and it was even more of a surprise in January 2023 when they announced a new model. If Apple stopped selling the device for want of sales, it doesn’t seem to make much sense to bring back a new version that is essentially the same. There are some differences in sound signature and home capabilities, which I will discuss in this article, but if you look at an original and 2nd generation HomePod, side by side, you will not be able to tell the difference.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

PhotoActive Podcast, Episode 134: Mike Hipple Lived Through That

We’re excited to welcome photographer Mike Hipple to talk about his latest book Lived Through That: 90s Musicians Today. What started as an artistic distraction to photograph creative people spawned a book of iconic 1980s musicians, 80s Redux!, which he followed up with this book of notable music makers of the next decade. We talk about working on such a large project, dealing with unexpected adversity, and improvising on the fly.

Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at the PhotoActive website. You can follow The PhotoActive on Twitter at @PhotoActiveCast to keep up to date with new episodes, and join our Facebook group to chat with other listeners and participate in photo challenges and more.

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode #277: Credential Stuffing, Pig Butchering, Security Keys for Your Apple Account, and the New Mac mini

This week’s threats involve credential stuffing and pig butchering, and we examine whether you should use security keys to protect your Apple ID account, and why the new Mac mini is a maxi computer.

Follow the The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

The Next Track, Episode #248: The New HomePod

Apple has released a new HomePod, two years after discontinuing the original model. But is it the HomePod we want, or the HomePod we need? We discuss how it works with home automation. Also, Audio Hijack has just been updated. It’s an essential app for recording audio on Macs.

Help support The Next Track by making regular donations via Patreon. We’re ad-free and self-sustaining so your support is what keeps us going. Thanks!

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Find out more at The Next Track website, or follow The Next Track on Twitter at @NextTrackCast.

Apple’s 2023 Mac mini is a Mini Mac Studio

Apple’s Mac mini has always seemed like an outlier in the company’s computer line-up. Originally touted as an inexpensive, stripped-down Mac – it was BYODKM, or “bring your own display, mouse, and keyboard” – the Mac mini was marketed for a while to switchers, people moving from Windows to Mac.

Over the years, the Mac mini languished, and there was a fallow period when it seemed like it wouldn’t be updated. After an update in October 2014, it took four years for the Mac mini to be refreshed. But when Apple released Macs running the company’s own processors, the Mac mini was one of the first to get an M1 version, and, in January 2023, Apple started shipping an M2 model. Available with M2 and M2 Pro processors, the Mac mini is no longer the little computer that could, but now stands as a powerful desktop computer for everyone.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

How to protect your Apple ID account with Security Keys on iPhone, iPad, or Mac

Apple has just released macOS 13.2, iOS 16.3, and iPadOS 16.3. One of the new security features is the ability to protect your Apple ID account with a security key, a hardware device that acts as a second factor for two-factor authentication.

This robust addition to the security of your Apple account prevents hackers from getting into your account without the security key, but it’s not for everyone. In this article, I’ll explain why you might want to protect your Apple ID account with a security key, and how to set this feature up.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode #276: The Year in Mac Malware 2022

Apple has updated all its operating systems again, and even issued a security update for iOS 12. We discuss new features in the HomePod software, and we look back at the notable Mac malware of 2022.

Follow the The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.