[DECtalk] How about a competition?

Tony Baechler tony at baechler.net
Tue Dec 18 05:03:10 EST 2007

Hi all,

This probably sounds crazy but I thought I would throw it out anyway.  I 
guess it's the holidays or something, I don't know why I came up with this.

How about a competition of original DEC-talk creations?  It would be 
like music contests but only for original files and they must use 
DEC-talk.  They could be plain text for sending to a hardware 
synthesizer or loading into the demo or it could be an mp3 file.  Each 
contribution should be no more than five minutes in length.  You can use 
as many voices as you want.  Mix it with music or whatever.  Here are 
the rules I had in mind but of course this is all subject to change and 

1. No copyrighted works.  That means no Red Dwarf, etc.  It must be your 
own original creation.  It can't be DEC-talk singing a popular song or 
reading a copyrighted story.  Public domain works are fine.  I am 
arbitrarily defining public domain as anything published before 1923 and 
whose author has been dead for at least 70 years.  That complies with 
both US and international laws.  Agatha Christie would not count for 
example because she died in 1976.  Arthur Conan Doyle would count but 
only for works published before 1923.  He died in 1930.  Tolkien 
wouldn't count.  This rule would be strictly enforced because the files 
would be available for public download.  I will not debate differences 
between US, UK and international copyright laws.

2. It should not be longer than five minutes.  If you need to go longer 
than that, please explain why.  It would be better for an author to 
submit two entries of five minutes each than one long ten minute file.  
As much as I like DEC-talk, I don't necessarily want to hear it for ten 
minutes at a time.  That also keeps file size smaller.  This applies 
even if you submit a text file, and especially in that case as the demos 
have a small size limit and copying it directly to a serial port can 
overload the internal buffer, at least from my understanding.

3. You don't have to follow a certain format, but music is probably 
better than speech.  If you want to mix music and speech, that's fine.  
You can mix in background music as long as it doesn't violate rule 1 
above.  If you want to compose original music, so much the better.  
However, music is not a requirement.  If you just want to do spoken 
word, that's acceptable.  It must be primarily DEC-talk making the 
sounds though.  You talking and having DEC-talk say one word won't 
count.  This is somewhat up to the judges to determine what qualifies 
and what doesn't, but a good rule would be that DEC-talk should do at 
least 50% of the audio.  Mono or stereo are fine.

4. No adult material or excessive swearing.  I personally am not opposed 
to some adult material but I am not allowed to host it.  If someone 
wants to host sexual material, that is up to them but it won't be hosted 
here.  This is not up for discussion as I am not the one who made that 
rule.  I know that this rule is enforced and I don't want to lose 
Internet access, thanks anyway.  Material should be suitable to all ages 
but something in the "PG" rating scale would be accepted.  If in doubt, 
don't swear.

5. Only mp3 and ogg Vorbis files are acceptable formats.  Wave files are 
just way too big and .wma and other formats are too hard to play on all 
devices.  The exception is that flac files will be accepted because they 
can be converted to wave and there are converters for most platforms.  
Zip, .exe, html, etc will not be accepted.  You may make a zip file with 
your mp3 file and a README, but other files will not be accepted.  If in 
doubt, ask first.

The judges of the contest will be anyone who wants to download the files 
and cast votes.  I expect that the judges will be mostly from this 
mailing list but hopefully people will spread the word.  All entries 
would be uploaded with ftp or email attached, depending on size.  I 
would hold them until the deadline at which time I would put them up for 
public download on a web site.  I would probably make one master zip 
file with everyone's entries for easier download unless there are less 
than three entries.  There would be a short time (probably two weeks) 
for judges to download, listen and vote.  After the judging deadline is 
over, I would count votes and announce the winner.  If someone wants to 
donate prizes, the winner would get a prize, otherwise the winner gets a 
pat on the back and public acclaim on the site and mailing list.  After 
the contest is over, the entries would be kept indefinitely.

The inspiration for this comes from the annual IF Competition which has 
similar rules.  Also, it would be nice to get more DEC-talk original 
creations out there that are free of excessive copyright restrictions.  
Submitters are encouraged to either release their files to the public 
domain or use a Creative Commons license.  Regardless of what license is 
chosen, authors give baechler.net and other affiliated sites 
nonexclusive re-use and redistribution rights.  For more about Creative 
Commons, look at http://creativecommons.org/ .  It is not a requirement 
to license your files in this way but it is recommended and encouraged.  
This gives people the right and ability to use your works in their own 
creations without paying royalties in most cases and knowing that they 
are not violating your copyright while you still have ownership of your 
creation and can use it any way you see fit.  If you put your work in 
the public domain, you give up all rights to it, now and forever and 
anyone can do anything they want with it without your permission or 

If you have questions, it is best to post on the mailing list but you 
can write to me directly.  I would like to see this actually develop 
into something interesting.  Other sighted people have music 
competitions, so why not one designed for the blind?  Anyone may enter, 
sighted or blind as long as their entries comply with the above rules.  
A final update to the rules would be posted at the time the contest 
officially opens.  What do you all think?  I am interested in getting 
discussion going.

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