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Show HN: We made a web app so that our parents can keep reading to our daughter (readastorytome.com)
185 points by benja123 3 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 57 comments

This is a really good idea. This has nothing to do with the current crisis but if you could somehow credibly guarantee hosting for 50+ years people could read stories to their yet to be born grandchildren. People with terminal diseases and a two year old could still read to their children after their passing. Consider it.

I created an app that allows you to do that.


You create a book in the app by taking pictures. Add audio to a page.

You can export the book in a .zip file, that you can put on your desktop and view in your browser.

To be honest, de sharing experience sucks (ever tried getting a big .zip file from a mobile phone to a desktop..?), also the browser view doesn't have the flipping pages.

It's a pet project I've often neglected for a couple of years, and then put some extra effort in. But I'm now working on the online part, where you can upload the zip file, and share the book via an URL, and does have the flipping pages.

Would love to get feedback, so if someone wants to try it out, contact me and I can create account for you.

Would be great to make a commercial product out of it, but I used to not have the tech skills, and now pretty much have the skills, but finding the time is the challenge. Also I refuse to add ads :)

We've created a lightweight app that creates a custom format of audio + photo + your metadata (tags, notes etc): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=app.pointo

You can share a specific recording by creating a link valid for 24 hours, intended for p2p sharing.

We've heard people use this for similar things: teachers teaching kids, journaling, voice memos, tracking investment decisions, recipes etc. Limitation is that there's one photo per recording atm.

You can say I’m stuck in 1992 but you could use a desktop application to record a file that you could be responsible for yourself.

At $.02/GB you could host a 1 GB video on S3 for about $12.

Based on past performance that price would probably be even cheaper as the per-GB-month price keeps dropping.

The video would be likely be much smaller than 1 GB so you could instead spend the same money to put it on all three major clouds, AWS, Azure, and Google, storage tiers for the same price.

I’m willing to bet $100 that at least one of them will still be operating a cloud blob store in 50 years.

When you think about it, these files won't need to be accessed very often or quickly, so you could reduce the costs to $2.5 per GB by using AWS Glacier. I mean what is an extra 3-5 hour wait when you have already been waiting 50 years...

Amazon should offer this as a service. For a fixed fee, storage on S3 for as long as it remains operational.

The combination of Moore's (nee Kryder's) Law and ability to internally invest the principle should make it financially viable to offer such a product.

But the reason to do it would be the branding. AWS is a bedrock of the internet. Some fly by night startup offers a cloud based image editor, but Amazon is the one that guarantees your drawings will outlast them, and you.

Given Bezos' involvement in the 10k year clock project it might be up his alley even if there's not a watertight business case for it.

You could probably hash the recording names/details and store that on a world-readable unique public URL and feed those to your users through internet archive links.

You could actually build this really quickly.

- Create a site where people can manually upload phone videos of them reading a story to their child.

- Store it in S3 or Glacier

- Have a request access section - basically a contact me form. You will anyways need to verify the individual, so this part can be completely manual.

Why not give it a shot?

Wouldn't YouTube suffice for that?

Awesome idea, and nice work! Is this open source, and if so, would you mind sharing a link to it? I am beginning work on a slightly similar project [1] to help facilitate speech therapy (girlfriend is a speech-language pathologist) over video chat and would be interested to compare with your approach and tech stack.

I saw this [2] Chess + video chat project the other day, and drew heavy inspiration from its approach [3].

[1]: https://github.com/scott113341/slp-memory

[2]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22790728

[3]: https://glitch.com/edit/#!/rootshirechess

I have not made it open source atm, but it is something I am considering.

Tech stack: Elixir/Phoenix (liveview mostly) WebRTC code is based off: https://codelabs.developers.google.com/codelabs/webrtc-web/#...

I setup a turnserver using https://github.com/coturn/coturn

What do you need help with? Maybe I can help you now.

+1 for open source, I like Phoenix and it would be great to improve my knowledge from an example like this.

I'm interested more about how you are doing deployments of elixir/phoenix app, and your dev setup ... like do you use docker for developing and production and stuffs like that ...

edeliver + distillery

Followed this tutorial https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-auto...

Thanks for the info. Can you give more info on your dev setup? Do you use docker for developement/production?

I don't use docker - I have never really used it and wasn't going to start. It's using one DO server, a 4 vCPU, but could be using much much less. Before posting I upgraded it from a 5$ machine The turnserver is a $5 DO server.

Feel free to email me - ben@readastorytome.com and I will gladly fill you in on all the nitty details around the deployment. It's embarrassingly simple :)

Thanks for the info and for offering help. I will definitely reach out to you in case I need more info on your setup.

Wishing you best for your app.

Please consider open sourcing it. You cannot begin to imagine how beneficial it is to study or even encounter working examples online.

This is an awesome idea, I had one yesterday that was similar but for a different purpose: LastMessage.to/<someone>

After reading this article: https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/03/us/costa-luminosa-passengers-... "Kevin and Ryan Sheehan will never know whether their father heard them say goodbye on speaker phone."

My thought was to create a place where you can leave your last message to someone or to the world.

That story really gets to me.

With Covid-19 it's not just getting sick, it's getting sick and then being isolated from your family and loved ones knowing you may never see them again. Then you have the health care workers who are providing life saving care while isolating themselves from their loved ones so as not to risk getting them sick. The closest thing I have experienced to that type of fear is military service, but at least in that case my family and I had time to prepare for it mentally. Luckily I got through that experience okay.

I couldn't imagine being in the situation that these people are in today.

Anyways - I find it kind of hard to put into words how Covid makes me feel

This is so cool, My mom is a school teacher, and the school is trying to get her to make videos for her students.

She struggles with video editing software to make videos. This could help a lot, especially if I could have custom stories.

She could do a story session with my and I would just record the screen.

You can! Right now you can upload a PDF and that becomes your story.

Thank you !!

I was thinking about building something like this over the weekend. You saved me a lot of effort.

I'm willing to self-host / donate some money if that helps with server costs.

Anytime. You should still build one! It was a lot of fun to build.

Thanks for the offer, but right now I don't see a need for any donations/self hosting. Maybe that will come, but at the moment a relatively small single DO box is handling it pretty well.

Thanks for sharing! It such a great idea :-) Talking with my wife (SLP) she observed how important is interactive reading and I was wondering if you had that planned or if open sourcing this was an option so I could contribute to something like that.

Just as a reference, some therapy platforms allow the users to draw on the book, or put stickers and such... and even though this is not full-blown therapeutic, being able to draw (a transparent HTLM canvas on top of the image? websockets communicating x,y?) would add a lot to this, I think.

Thanks for sharing!

I thought about adding a transparent layer so that my daughter and parents can draw on a story. I never thought about it from a therapy point of view, but that is just not an area I am familiar with - interesting though. I would be super happy if this can be used for that.

As far as open sourcing it goes - I have not made it open source ATM, but it is definitely something I am considering.

Is there any way you could apply here: https://apply.ycombinator.com/session/new?continue=https%3A%... and rush your build in April/May? You have ten days left to apply but it looks fine in the current state. You really have something here. I have no affiliation with YC/HN.

This is wonderful. Truly one of those 'make a difference' kind of projects! Kudos.

Thank you!

This feels a lot like Caribu app https://caribu.com/

Add in the WHO book for children to help with dealing with covid too:



This looks really cool! I only see 7 books in the bookshelf. Are you planning to add more?

Thanks. Yes - I will be adding more over time.

Are these 7 books on public domain? Dont you have to run through buying rights or something to use books written by others?

They are all CC licensed books. See the footer and bookshelf where I include the license and link back to the sources

I just wanted to personally thank you for making this. My 7yr old and his grandparents in NYC are LOVING this. Please keep uploading more great books to the library!

Thank you so much for this comment. Really made my day.

Nice app. It could also be used to help the medical students who's exams have all been cancelled. I would like to help if this is open-sourced.

One feature request: my Microsoft surface has a front and back camera. For some reason, the app started with the read camera on. Would be nice if there was a way to pick which camera you want, if there are multiple cameras on the device.

I think that what camera is used doesn't depend on the app but on the browser. In mine (Firefox) it asks me if I want to give permission to the app to use the my camera AND it asks me which camera I want to give permission to. Chrome also has something like that (I think it's in the URL bar, an icon that looks like a video camera?)

Anyways, hope this helps!

You are correct - that is one way, but with webrtc there is also a way to give users an option to pick which audio/video source

Thanks hoomank.

I will look at adding that option in the future.

When you say it could be used to help people study for their exams, do you mean in one on one sessions or do you mean group sessions?

Very nice. Testing on my iPhone 6s landscape, I noticed the prev and next buttons were not aligned with the book page.

I also created a similar tool a few weeks ago available for free as well here https://www.appblit.com/bookcafe

That is really cool! Honestly we didn't focus on the "look" beyond making sure it was functional.

Caribu is an app in this space as well. Essentially video calls with sync’ed storybooks.

I just tried this and couldn't get anything to load (Firefox). Maybe I'm just doing something wrong? Didn't see any errors in the console

Mobile or desktop?

Desktop. I went into an "Anonymous Room" and it showed the interface, but there was no book. I tried selecting a book from the "Bookshelf" and nothing happened

Interesting - I tried it and it worked in firefox. Are you blocking Websockets by any chance? Perhaps it's your firewall. I am using phoenix liveview which uses websockets for everything.

So I tried again and it seems to be working this time. But the page of the book is ~240x190px and I can't read a darn thing.

Can you send me a screenshot? Send it to ben@readastorytome.com

Third time is apparently the charm and now it's working just perfect. If it messes up again I'll send something.

How has your experience with LiveView been?

Pretty great. It let me write this really quickly with minimal effort. There were some quirks and some weird hacks I had to make when it came to working with JS, but that could also be me doing it wrong.

My biggest complaint would be around some latency issues when the connection is bad, but I knew that would be an issue when I chose it. I would definitely choose it again.

Such a cool idea!

Thanks. It's been pretty useful for us and let us keep some type of normalcy during these strange times.

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