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Trust the Robots

00:00 / 6:36

If you want to know what I mean by “Trust the robots,” listen to the episode before reading any further. I wouldn’t want to kill the suspense.

Now, have you listened to the episode?


It’s less than seven minutes!

Just give it a listen.



Here’s the information I promised that you may not have been able to remember if you listened to the podcast in your car or someone other than right in front of your computer.

If you’re on a Mac, I recommend enabling the system-wide setting for speech accessibility and using a keyboard shortcut to make your computer talk. When you do this, you can have your computer read any text you highlight in any application you’re using.

To enable this setting:

  1. Click the Apple logo at the top left of your screen.
  2. Select System Preferences.
  3. Click Accessibility.
  4. Click Speech.
  5. Choose a System Voice and Speaking Rate you can tolerate. For what it’s worth, I use the “Alex” voice, and my speed is set just half a notch above normal.
  6. Next, select “Speak selected text when the key is pressed.” To change the keyboard combination, click “Change Key” and follow the directions. I prefer Option+Esc.

Once you’ve enabled your preferred shortcut key, highlight any text you want to hear read aloud, then hit your shortcut keys and follow your words on-screen as your computer reads them aloud.

Another cool trick for long passages, or entire books, is to highlight the text you want read aloud, right-click (or ctrl-click) that text, select “Services,” then select “Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track.” This will create an MP3 track of your book as read by your computer! Then you can use a program like the free VLC player to playback the MP3 file at a speed setting of your choosing.

If you’re on a PC, you can use “Narrator,” part of the system’s Ease of Access Center.

  1. Press “Windows+U.”
  2. Click “Start Narrator.” Since the program is intended for blind users, it will automatically begin to read any text your mouse encounters. To turn this off, hit “Control.”
  3. To have Narrator read a paragraph, place your cursor at its beginning and type “Caps Lock + I.”
  4. To have Narrator read an entire page, press “Caps Lock + U.”

Click here to learn more about using Windows Narrator.

If this tip is new to you and you decide to try it, let me know how it goes for you. Tell me what errors you’ve caught as a result of trusting your robot, either as a comment on the episode page at or by sending me an email at blake[at]