[BBC-Micro] www.bbcmicronews.co.uk

Nicholas Platts nick at invisiblecow.com
Thu Feb 18 13:43:02 GMT 2010

Hello All,

I've subscribed to this list for a little while without posting but I'd like to draw your attention to a pet project of mine.
I've been a BBC Micro fan since primary school and continue to play with BBC and Acorn kit among other old machines.

At the beginning of 2008 I built a website which attempted to give a BBC Micro a (questionably) meaningful role
on the modern internet. The site automatically takes news stories from news.bbc.co.uk, passes them to
a Beeb which reads them out using Superior Speech! and the recorded sound clips are then pushed back to the site.

Another fun feature allows users to type in their own messages and then (after a short wait) watch them read back by the Beeb.
Although I prototyped this with an emulator, all the sounds are created by genuine hardware - when news stories come in
I can hear it talking through the office door behind me :-)

Daily news podcasts are automatically generated and you can find it in the iTunes store.

This was all up and running in time for the BBC Micro 'reunion' event at the Science Museum in 2008 and George
Auckland featured it in his presentation, however a couple of problems in the speech synthesis and browser
compatibility appeared. Real work prevailed and the site went silent for almost 2 years.


I've recently found the time to fix the problems, update the site, and add a couple of new features:

a) Story Browser
Although speaking has been offline, the site has still been harvesting news stories for over 2 years. I've added
a nice story browser which lets you look through and search every story from the BBC news RSS feed.
The ajax 'live' search feature allows you to really quickly find any matching stories.

b) Twitter
The site will automatically tweet a link to every news story once it has been recorded. 
If you tweet beginning with @BBCMicroNews it will record your message and tweet back @ you with a link to
the recording.

Upcoming features:
a) Ecards. Email retro greetings cards to your friends.
b) Other systems? If I can find other old machines with relatively robust speech synthesiser then I'd be interested
in creating derivations of this site. C64? AppleII? Amiga?

Please take a look....

I'd be pleased to know about any issues people have, the site has been running without requiring attention for
a few weeks now but no doubt there are improvements to be made.

Thanks for listening

Nick Platts

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