Scott Hanselman

Listening FASTER and more effectively

November 5, '05 Comments [9] Posted in ASP.NET | PDC | Speaking
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One of the coolest things about Cingular's Voicemail system is it's ability to speed up playback of audio by pressing "6." Each press makes the audio playback faster...2x, 3x, 4x. It's great. I HATE voicemail, make no mistake, but at least it's bearable in double speed.

I noticed that when listening to audiobooks (m4b) files like those from Audible on my iPod Nano, I can also up the speed. It looks like about 1.5x normal speed. Not too bad, but it really makes a different. Now I'm addicted to it. The new iPod's implementation is nice because it speeds up the audio without changing the pitch of the voice. I speculate they are cutting out slices of sound, rather than true speed up.

I read pretty fast, but I've stopped watching most presentations and many podcasts because I just can't stand the pacing. However, while watching the PDC videos (http://microsoft.sitestream.com/PDC05/) I noticed (as did Steve Maine) that you can right-click on the video and select Play Speed->Fast and watch the presentations in 2x speed! (I'd prefer 3x or 4x). As a bonus, the demos (since they are WMVs) are also faster.

Now I feel like I can really get through the PDC sessions at my speed. I feel as if a whole wealth of information has been opened to me. Audiobooks will flow by at the same speed regular books do.

Now if only ABC would play "Grey's Anatomy" in 2x speed...

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Saturday, 05 November 2005 08:48:03 UTC
>> Now if only ABC would play "Grey's Anatomy" in 2x speed...

Is it really the story that is slow or the incredible amount of publicity abc manages to sneak in...
Saturday, 05 November 2005 10:05:11 UTC
>> I speculate they are cutting out slices of sound, rather than true speed up.
Possibly, but the tech for simply modulating the pitch has been around a while in DJ circles. I've played with Traktor DJ Studio and you can can automatically beatmatch and then normalize pitch. I don't know for a fact, but I think they calculate the change in pitch that would be caused by the change in speed and simply compensate.
Saturday, 05 November 2005 15:35:51 UTC
You should look into software that converts text into mp3s. Combind that with a subscription to O`Reilly's Safari and you have something powerful.

I gave a small blog about that some time ago.

http://jflowers.blogspot.com/2005/09/listen-when-you-cant-read.html
Saturday, 05 November 2005 17:05:32 UTC
I usually watch Channel 9 videos at double speed. Only takes half of my time, and hearing Robert Scoble's laugh at double speed is great.
Saturday, 05 November 2005 18:55:24 UTC
"Now if only ABC would play "Grey's Anatomy" in 2x speed"

Tivo?

turn on closed captions and then hit the fast forward button on Tivo.
Voila.

Works very well for CNN too..
Monday, 07 November 2005 02:32:55 UTC
Actually, playing it "fast" is really only 1.4x, if it does it like Windows Media Player does it, which is my guess.

If you download the presentations for offline viewing, you can get the 2x or 4x that you want: in WMP, while the video is playing, you can go to the "Now Playing" tab, and cycle through the settings where it shows the graphic equalizer. One of the settings is "Play speed settings". The normal range is from .5 to 2, but outside of that, there is also 4x (and presumably, half way in between is 3x).

That's how i can get through 5 or 6 hours of podcasts in a couple of hours.
Monday, 07 November 2005 21:01:06 UTC
The iPod most likely uses some form of Time Stretching (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_stretching).
Tuesday, 08 November 2005 17:46:37 UTC
Does the iPod allow for the speeding up of non-Audible material (regular MP3s)?
Matt
Monday, 26 December 2005 19:18:16 UTC
The full DVD set for the sessions can also be downloaded at once with a site copier software. See http://clariusconsulting.net/blogs/kzu/archive/2005/12/19/FullPDC05.aspx
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.