A compendium of Recomendo




Dirt cheap transcription

VoiceBase takes audio recordings and turns them into text. It also analyzes the text to identify subjects and keywords, and can play back the audio as it highlights the text. It’s not as good as a human transcriber, but it does a decent job and is much cheaper (2 cents a minute compared to $1 a minute for a human).You get $60 in free credit to try it out, too. — MF

Movie scores

Some of the best music being written these days is for movie soundtracks. Because they usually lack dialog and lyrics, I find movie scores easy to listen to while working. If you want some suggestions to start with, this is a decent list of the best scores since the start of this century. Quite a few of them are available on Spotify. — KK

Free sound effects

Get free, high-quality sound effects of almost anything you can think of for your podcasts, apps, or movies at Freesound. — MF

Audio utility

The free NaturalReader smartphone app (iOS and Android) converts text to speech. To use it, open the app, select a document from DropBox, Google Reader, or a website. NaturalReader will upload it and read it in a voice of your choosing. — MF

Voyager golden record

I just backed the Kickstarter campaign for a replica of the Voyager golden record sent into space that contained the music of Earth for aliens to listen to. The original golden disk was launched in 1977 and contains images, diagrams, and messages explaining humans. The modern replica is three translucent yellow vinyl LPs in an ornate slipcase and book. Very cool project. — KK


Hamilton soundtrack

The broadway hit Hamilton is worth attending in any mode. Current tickets are precious and rare, but anyone can download or purchase the musical soundtrack by the original cast. Its super popularity is not just hype: Hamilton is as great as any Shakespeare play. The lyrics are topical, timeless, profound, and linguistically witty. The entire 2.5 hour play is sung, so there are 46 songs, each one memorable. You may have heard that much of it is in rap, with different characters rapping in their own style. It’s an incredible experience just in audio. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve listened to it, but each time I derive more understanding of that period of American history, more appreciation of early American culture, and more heartbreak about the biography of a political icon. And you can sing along! If you eventually are able to get reasonably priced tickets to some version of the performance, my tip is to listen all the way through the album at least twice before you go. This play is so dense with layers, and so packed with powerful language, that your enjoyment will be multiplied by 10 each time you pre-listen. — KK

ProductivityClaudia Dawson