Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Jordy Meets The Jordy

Enhanced Vision is the creator of the Jordy Head Mounted CCTV unit. And at a recent event in Virginia LaVar Burton got to see the real world device named after his Next Generation character.


My sincere thanks to Manny at EVS for sharing these with me.

Monday, September 26, 2005

September 05 Tech Update: The 0.1 Patched Edition

Lots of links and news on updates this time around. There's even some Duxbury news which I think is a first for the update.

Steve’s Word Of The Month
Stream Poisoning
Definition: The poisoning of streams refers to the deliberate use of bad or corrupted files on Torrent or P2P sites. It’s commonly the current tactic of choice by the RIAA and the MPAA in prevention of illegal file swapping. The file that you intend to view will have pieces missing or will play for a while only to suddenly end due to the corruption of that file. Files have of this type have been known to also contain viruses and malware [Malicious Software].

~ “JAWS 7. Now It’s Personal!”

The big sequel to last year’s hit JFW 6.0 is coming soon. Here are the release notes for the changes in the impending paid upgrade.


~ “A Patch A Month Is All You Need”

Three weeks out and the first of the Internet updates for Zoom Text begins. In all fairness though the version that shipped was just one build over the modified Beta. So it’s kind of understandable, and completely in pattern, for Ai Squared to release a .1 update. See the release notes here.


~ “Your USB Is Under My Compact Thumb”

We have been discussing a lot as of late on where to go with the path on external storage and note takers. USB is the future but power and drivers are a bit of an issue. Compact Flash still might be the way for some. Read this bit below to get a perspective from Humanware.

“Hi folks,

The drivers for USB drives that are in the ROM are Microsoft generic
drivers. I would need to investigate further to be more specific than that.
Most thumb drives will work but whether they work will depend on their power
requirements and whether they are compatible with the Microsoft drivers that
as I say, are in the image.

Dean Jackson
BrailleNote Product Specialist

~ “New Access World Online”

There is a great article on resources for Assistive Technology Trainers and a neat piece on my Mentor Curtis Chong. Look I know a blind celebrity who doesn’t play a musical instrument!


~ “Vistas Broadened By 7”

I am saying this on the record now so you won’t be surprised by it later. This next version of Windows will be the most difficult challenge for us yet. Microsoft will be releasing seven, that’s right SEVEN!, flavors of Windows Vista. And chances are good that the version your consumer has won’t be the one they want. Here’s a breakdown of the current differences between the products.


Thankfully it looks like there are only two versions of Office 12 in the works. But as usual there’s a downside. The number of toolbars will change and the context sensitive tab system resembles the Windows XP “Related Task” pane in the Windows Folders system.


~ “IZoom You To The Moon”
Contributed by Roger Purdy

Here’s a brief report on the free program called IZoom. It’s a Screen Magnification alternative that is far from being comparable to programs like Magic and Zoom Text, however, some may find it to be all that they need for limited tasks.

“iZoom free magnification and screen reader

It is free as mentioned and I could not find any pop ups asking for purchasing. The software. The magnification portion can be installed with one file and is pretty straight-forward however if you want to install the speech synthesized voices, you need to install at least one more file however that isn’t difficult either. All three files, the magnification application as well as the speech synthesizers are 11 MB so you can’t carry it on a floppy but you can burn it on a CD or carry it on a USB pen drive.

After the installation, by default it starts the speech and a large red square follows each word being spoken which many may find annoying. The speech is not very good and I couldn’t get it to read very well on web pages or menus. It should not be considered. The defaults can be changed.

The magnification isn’t bad, however. It goes from 1.5x to 2, and right on up to 16x. It also provides for various magnification Windows like MAGic and Zoom Text and there is a keystroke to change to those windows which is under each choice in the interface. It’s not hard to use the magnification as it’s fairly simple and seems to run fairly smoothly, at least on the machine I tested it on which was a Windows XP Professional machine with Service Pack 2, PIV 3.0 GHz processor and 512 MB of RAM.

Reverse video is available however I couldn’t get it to work very well in that when my mouse went out of a certain range, it quit working. Also, the pointer never changed from an arrow even when you hovered the mouse over a link. There was no “busy” cursor or anything else. This can be annoying for someone that is used to it and can also cause problems for someone who tracks what the system does by using the pointer.

This should not be used in place of the regular AT software such as Zoom Text, MAGic, or Lunar from Dolphin. This has only limited capabilities and does not allow for much configuration or changes. If the computer user is a novice user, doesn’t have any money to purchase the regular product or if we can’t purchase it, then this could be a good substitute. Otherwise, it should not be depended upon. The speech should never be depended on but only the magnification! “

~ “Your Software says “Yes” But Your Hardware Says “No”
Contributed by Roger Purdy

Years ago people freaked over the decision of Intel and Microsoft to use the Intel Chip ID system to identify a specific computer. Now it looks like not only will Vista and the Xbox 360 lock out hardware profiles but they will prevent specific software from loading. Here’s a bit of an email I got from Roger on something that we should all be aware of in the field.

“ When I loaded my street-mapping program, I got a peculiar message from Microsoft Windows: "Data Execution Prevention. . . . To help protect your computer, Windows has closed this program." What is this? How can I prevent the problem from reoccurring?

Art Hawley

You must have a modern PC with a cutting-edge CPU. Data Execution Prevention is a feature of Windows XP SP2, but it has no effect unless the CPU supports it. When a program attempts to execute code that's stored in an area of memory marked as nonexecutable, DEP prevents it. This blocks many types of attacks that viruses and other malicious software use to breach your security.

It can also, however, block programs that simply use nonstandard programming techniques such as self-modifying code. Here's how to bring this feature under control. Right-click on My Computer, choose Properties, click the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in the Performance panel, and click the Data Execution Prevention tab. The default setting is Turn on DEP for all programs except those I select. If you run into DEP trouble with multiple programs, you could change that to Turn on DEP for essential Windows programs and services only. Initially, however, you'd do better to click the Add button and just add that mapping software to the list of exceptions. And hey! Enjoy your new computer.”

~ “Broadband TV For Digital Lifestyles”

There is some good and free video content out there for those digital enthusiasts who wish to know more beyond what G4TV discusses. Enter NERDTV in many video formats in the link below.


~ “How Secure Is Your Security?”

A new study shows that Firefox has hit that level of popularity where hackers would rather hit it instead of the tride and true Internet Explorer. In related news the IPOD hacks number in the hundreds while Creative Labs just ships their units out with viruses pre installed. Either way the days of saying that one platform is more stable and or safe than another is just plain bogus.


~ “You Can’t Teach A New Dog Old Tricks”

Companies are finding out the hard way that down grading their IT Workforce while not upgrading their infrastructure has some serious side effects. The major one being that new and younger tech workers don’t know the first thing about older Mainframes. If ever there was an argument about Computing being experienced based learning..


~ “PSX Turns 10”

I thought this was a neat overview on how far we have come in the era of videogames. The Playstation turns 10 this year and it’s hard to believe the leap between this unit and the current level of technology being packed into Next Gen units.


`` Press Releases

Iowa's Project ASSIST With Windows is currently accepting applications for US residents for the ASSIST Online program. ASSIST Online is a distance learning program that offers free online courses which will prepare you for the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exams for Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Word. The Microsoft Word class for new students begins October 3. We must receive completed applications no later than September 22, 2005. For further information, and to download an application, please point your browser to HTTP://www.blind.state.ia.us/assist/assistonline.htm.

** Duxsbury 10.5 SP 2

Duxbury Systems is happy to announce that Service Pack 2 for DBT 10.5
is now available. SP2 is compatible only with DBT version 10.5 and is
available at no cost, by download, to all who own DBT 10.5.

The service pack includes, in addition to all the updates in SP1, the
following improvements:

-- Improves support for new British Braille rules, including math and
computer notation (Please note additional important information for
British users regarding this change at
-- Adds translation support for
contracted German,
Somali and
-- Updates the LOC/NLS "Instruction Manual for Braille Transcribers"
partial-contraction series
-- Updates the translation tables for numerous languages.
-- Provides Braille-Build (font builder) support for Marburg fonts and
correctly spaced California braille.
-- Handles acute accents in Scientific Notebook files.
-- Provides additional French documentation.
-- Updates the JAWS macros, and supports installation of macros to JAWS 6.0.
-- Adds a utility (slsclock.exe) to help manage network installations
>with clock synchronization problems.

If you own DBT 10.5 you can download the service pack by going to
Help/Check for Updates... from the DBT main window. This will connect
you to a web page with links to download the service pack.
DBT 10.5 with the service pack is also available on the support section
of our web site


Monday, September 05, 2005

Once In A Lifetime Now Means A Bit More

We had a joke in the old electronics retail industry. We would call the cheap of the cheap units a "Once In A Lifetime Deal". What we meant was drop that thing once and that's it's lifetime. This was also known as the "Wal Mart Fall Apart" feature.

Now some judge has decided that closed box products can not be modded without you breaking the copyright rules. Refill your ink cartridges or tear the lable off the matress if you want to live dangerously these days.