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Month: October 2018

Converting text to speech with AWS Polly

I wanted to try my hand at using the AWS Polly text-to-speech service.  Polly offers several different voices and supports multiple languages, most of which sound pretty good, especially if you use SSML when passing text.  SSML is where the character of the speech (rate, tone, pitch, etc) come into play.  See here for more detail. What I’ve done is created a script to interact with the AWS Polly API using PHP and store the output into an S3 bucket.  Click here to try it out. Step 1: Creating the IAM User This has been outlined in many prior posts so I won’t go into detail.  We’ll be using the AmazonS3FullAccess and AmazonPollyFullAccess permission policies (screenshot of my user summary here).  If you don’t plan on saving the results to S3, you don’t need the S3 policy attached (obviously). Step 2:  Converting our text to speech <?php require ‘/home/bitnami/vendor/autoload.php’; //Prep the Polly client and plug in our IAM credentials use Aws\Polly\PollyClient; $clientPolly = new PollyClient([ ‘version’ => ‘latest’, ‘region’ => ‘us-west-2’, //I have all of my AWS stuff in USW2 but it’s merely preference given my location. ‘credentials’ => [ ‘key’ => ”, //IAM user key ‘secret’ => ”, //IAM user secret…

WordPress Plugin Recommendations – 2018 Edition

I’m not an optimization expert nor am I a WP power user but I have been using the platform for over ten years.  I have a strong preference for plugins that are lightweight, easy-to-implement and configure, and have a clean removal (plugins which leave artifacts are a huge pet peeve of mine).  Here’s a list of my must-have plugins for almost all WordPress installations. WordFence My complaints with WordFence surround it’s initially annoying push for upgrading to the premium version. You can dismiss/hide those, though, which leaves you with a pretty effective solution at thwarting most low-end abusive crawlers/sniffers. The highlight is the threshold with auto-block feature which allows you to block traffic if activity breaches certain thresholds.  It just makes things easy. Wordfence Security – Firewall & Malware Scan Instant Images Although not my area of interest, it’s handy.  Instant Images pulls free-to-use (under the CC0 license) images from UnSplash directly into your WordPress media library.  It saves a few clicks and makes things easier when in need for stock images. Instant Images – One Click Unsplash Uploads Velocity Velocity is a nifty plugin that allows you to embed YouTube/Vimeo/SoundCloud media without loading the heavy iframes/JS libraries until the…