Last week's Rockbox review
was reasonably well received. Since then, however, a couple of things have
happened - one good, one less so - which make an update in order.
Starting with the good news: the iPod port can now produce audio on the
iPod Nano and 4G Color/Photo models. That means that there is now a
totally free (if still a bit bleeding edge) firmware offering for this
otherwise proprietary, DRM-equipped player. iPods running Rockbox will
have all of the features described last week, including a much wider
variety of codecs. The iPod Rockbox hackers have put a lot of work into
this port, and congratulations are in order.
Support for a full-color "while playing screen" has also been merged since
last week - a development which should reduce the number of people
complaining that the Rockbox interface is ugly.
The bad news relates to the voice menu support which makes Rockbox so
appealing to blind users (and some others as well). The best set of voices
provided for Rockbox, by many accounts, was generated with a copy of ATT
Natural Voices. Recently, the Rockbox developers got a friendly little
cease and desist notice from the folks at Wizzard Software, the company
which distributes that product in the U.S. By distributing the output from
this program, says Wizzard, Rockbox was violating the end user agreement
for the software.
So the ATT voices were pulled from the web site while the EULA was
examined; further research seems to bear out Wizzard's claim. The
licensing for that software is set up to require extra royalties if any
voice output is redistributed or used in a product. So that set of voices
is likely to be gone forever, and the developers are looking for
Some efforts are afoot to generate a set of voice files the
old-fashioned way - by recording an actual human and editing the result.
Sort of like Tom Baker making
voice files for British Telecom. That is a labor-intensive way of
solving the problem, however, and keeping the voice files current in such a
fast-moving project involves quite a bit more labor. So an automated means
for generating high-quality voice files would be a welcome contribution to
the project. Perhaps a Festival expert
would like to help them out?
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