Friday, July 29, 2005

July 05 Tech Update

The following is a newsletter that I drum up once or twice a month for our Trainers and Field staff. It's about Assistive Technology, current tech and whatever else I find on Slashdot or G4. The names haven't been changed to protect anybody as I have seen my work shared on Assistive Newsgroups. So if you can find it there then I might as well post it here.

Steve’s word of the Month
Desktop Replacement System
Definition: Marketing term for PC units that act like Laptops. Shuttle Boxes are high end PCs used for gaming and they are somewhat luggable for the on the go person heading for a LAN party. This new trend is to offer a Laptop that could be used just as easily as a desktop system for twice the price and a battery life of one hour. The below link shows a system that retails for $4,000 and it’s Desktop brother is about $2,000. Still it’s trey cool.

Roy’s Toy Box
Contributed by Yours Truly

I recently got a call for one of those minor annoyances that some don’t know how to remove. I am talking about our old foe MSN Messenger. Not all of us want to chat with others every time we are on the World Wide Web. And we don’t want it to come up every time we check email. So the following steps will take this program out completely from Windows viewpoint. You will have to ignore the Windows Updates saying that you need to install the latest version of Messenger. And opening it manually will bring it all back. So if you do this just don’t use the program again okay?

Go to your Local Disk or C:\.Then select Program Files. Hop down to the file named Messenger. Rename this file “1 Messenger”. Then go back and remove Messenger through MSCONFIG, Services, Startup and or Windows Components through Add and Remove Programs.

Renaming is better here than deleting as you can undo the change when Windows needs Messenger. And it actually does look for and use it on rare occasions. This trick works best for 98, ME and 2000. XP is a little more picky about it and Media Center Editions rely on it for a few functions. Tweak UI and Group Policy will also disable it but that’s a different story entirely.

~ “Number 9. Number Nine. Number 9.”

I am smirking as how many times do I get to make a Beatles White Album reference. Not often enough I think. Back on track. ZT9 ships next month. About the second week of August to be a bit more specific. Expect the .01 patch to be on line at least 30 days later if things go like they did for 8.0.

~ “Oh. Oh. Oh. It’s Magic. You knoow’

Magic Beta for the next version is out and about to the Magic lists. No word on who, what or when just yet. Glenda and I will be working with it over the next few weeks so expect more next month.

~ “My JAWS are burning Roxy baby!”
Contributed by Don McDowell

Don called me to ask if we were shipping Roxyo 7 on the new computer systems. The answer is yes. Don has explained that the scripts for version 6 don’t work for 7 and there’s no word from [where the 6 scripts came from] on any new versions being made available.

The quick fix is to show a person how to burn files through Windows or Media Player. A long term fix is to ask the consumer to get a full, as the ones on the computer are OEM versions, of Roxyo and then contact them to get the older version that works best with JAWS.

Nero by the way isn’t a great solution either as it can totally ignore it’s own clearly labeled hotkeys. Even tabbing in Nero has a 50/50 chance in working.

~ “Vision loss and your rollover minutes”

I know that strange claims are made every day about technology. Just the other day I heard that Sacrum was the best of all the artificial sweeteners because the 80’s tests found a specific issue that can only appear in rats. But this one, if true, is scary for those who live on their cell phones. It’s felt by one doctor that the microwave radiation in cell phones damages your eyesight. Read below for more details.

~ “That Vista has some beautiful XPanses”

It’s more than a year away but the Developers are hard at work with the new Beta 1 release of Vista. IE7 is also coming out for XP, however, it’s a core part of Vista. It too went Beta 1 and here’s a good look at the slim version of the software.

~ “I got what Unix need”

One of my favorite technology writers out on the old interweb is Leo LaPorte. If you watched Tech TV before it became G4’s dumping ground you know the name already. Leo and Patrick Norton are Geek legends and both have some awesome viewpoints on tech in general. Below is Leo’s take on where we are going next and oddly enough the huge Mac fan says that it is Unix.

A good article on Windows versus Unix programming philosophies can be found here.

~ “Looking back at Netscape”

It’s hard to believe for some that the internet has a long and varied history outside that of the .com boom and bust. But there are many tales about those who won and lost on the net. The below link is just one of those tales.,15114,1081456,00.html?cnn=yes

~ “Deep Web Fishing”

The practice of looking for personal information for identity theft is called “fishing”. These fishers search the net or wait for you to hit a site then they cast their reels hoping to get your info through a security flaw or by finding files of a personal nature. It’s a cumbersome method as you can buy info from other sources just as easy. But it’s a Hacker thing to do it other way. Here’s an article about how this is done and how it effects all of us.

~ “Baby’s first computer manual”

Some nice person scanned in a booklet describing computers to kids circa 1978. It’s hysterical to read by today’s technology standards.

~ “IT used to be the in thing to do”

This is a really neat article on the shift in the demographics surrounding those who are pursuing a Computer Science or IT degree. Try and guess who the rising stars are before reading this one. You may be shocked to see how the US is not producing the computer driven people we once did but better yet wait and see whom amongst us will be the IT -1leaders of tomorrow.

Bonus Story: Windows Genuine Advantage Software Up At Windows Update

Be aware that the next time you run Windows Update you will have to install the new Windows Genuine Advantage software package. This software is the new way for MS to make sure that your not running an illegal copy of Windows on your machine.
This program loads through the web like a regular update the the Windows Update scan pages. Screen Reader users should look for the button on the page marked "Continue" and "Install Now". After loading this package your Windows Update screens will go back to the "Express" and "Custom" buttons we all know and love.
We have two other points of interest to cover today. If you haven't been diligent on your previous Windows Updates you will find anywhere from 1 to 3 Critical and 1 or 2 Optional updates waiting for you since July 1st's updates. Dial up users should block out a half hour between the package stated above and the other updates combined. The other bit of news is from Boing Boing. In less than 24 hours someone hacked the new Genuine Advantage. The hack circumvents the checking of one file. This is almost the same hack that was used back in the Windows 95 to 98 upgrades which seems funny to me that it returns at the dawn of Vista. Oh well what comes around..
Here's the link to the story on the hack.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A Kiss Can Say So Much

Sorry for the non updates lately. Two things have kept me from blogging on about myself. The first is that CNET article about how Blogs are one of the top ten internet fads out today. I am nothing near trendy. In fact if it wasn't for my wife I would be just as much style impaired as I am visually impaired. Therefore I tend to do the unabashed non trendy thing even when it comes to Geekdom. I mean why break a perfect track record right? Plus the wife gets to pretend that I am the world's largest Ken doll when we go shopping.

The other thing is that I was given the Simpsons box sets for my birthday. Seasons 1 through 5 are now mine and they are wonderful. I can forget syndication entirely now that I have these boxes of frosty choclate goodness, uh, I mean milkshakes. No I need to stop watching these things. But really if you want to know more about how the show got to where it is today then get these sets. The commentaries give you a good idea about how the creative team has evolved the show and it put a lot into perspective for me.

So to get back on track I want to show that there are some sarcastic and really odd viewpoints on the web from the Blind viewpoint. This site has been around for awhile and it picks up a few nods every now and then. The somewhat millitant slant makes this pretty funny stuff however and listen to how one group went out to equal the score by removing food lables from cans at a supermarket.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

More on Telesensory

The new issue of Access World has let some of the cats out of several bags on the real story behind the life and death and zombified Telesensory. Some of this stuff I have known for about a month but couldn't say anything about it .. until now. Check out this wonderful story here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

New Zoom Text Beta Update Released

Ai Squared has released another update to their new 9.0 software. This update takes the Beta from to .116. The release notes don't mention anything super critical being fixed, however, the program's overall performance jumps up every time there has been one of these updates.

Check out the software that I use every day to access my computer at the following site.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Dog Walking Days Of Summer

I figured out something this morning. I don’t know why it came to me in the haze of the early morn but now that I have this idea in my head I am doomed to ponder it all week. You see I can’t really enjoy the weekends like I use to as it’s my turn to walk the puppy on Saturday and Sunday. It’s not that I mind but well here’s my thought.

Remember Wing Commander Prophecy? There was some good stuff there, a lot better than the movie that’s for sure, with Mark Hamil and Malcolm McDowell. But to get to that feeder bar pellet you had to do some pretty inane missions. Here’s where I am going today with this dog walking thing.

Walking my dog in 100-degree heat is essentially like one long escort mission. Depending on who does more not want to be in the heat it can shift the role between me and the dog being Carrier and Fighter. If it is morning then I am the Carrier. Benji roams all over zooming from place to place. Yet he is always tethered to the slow moving Carrier. In the evening this can be somewhat reversed. He tends to want to investigate more and his pace slows. Now I am the one who is moving him along by knocking out obstacles that would slow him up from depositing his cargo.

This sad analogy gets worse of course. I realized after a month that we walked the exact same line on the exact same path. It’s like I was playing a top down rail shooter from the 80’s. River Raid for the Atari 2600 but with dogs dropping bombs on unsuspecting plant life that did nothing to incur his wrath. Which if you think about it would be the one line used on the back of the box to sell the game.

To brake up the repeat gameplay I fell back on another videogame standard. I put our walk into Mirror Mode. By that I mean we just went counterclockwise from our original circular path around the complex. And like Ridge Racer I noticed different objects from a new perspective when I approached them from this new angle.

And Mom said videogames had no lasting influences on life. Ha!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

IMDB's Bottom 100

This seems to be traveling around the net. So I took a look at the list and I was relieved to see that I only know [by that I mean wasted my life] about 25% of the films listed below. And if it wasn't for insane HBO repeats in the 80's the list would be even lower. Joe Bob Briggs's Drive In Theater Saturday Nights accounts for some of the list as well. I know for sure that's where I saw "Surf Knotsies Must Die".

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Crack in Ice Cream Form

As you sit around this holiday and dream of an easy and quick way to get your sweet fix let it be known far and wide that there is a new adictive way sweeping our fare nation. These little nuggets of joy called Dibs are ... well awesome! They come in a bin that has either 26 or 60 pieces. And five wonderful flavors to boot. And so you don't think this is just a spam post I can tell you that I have already tried two flavors. Drumstick and Crunch. Dryers damm you it's bad enough that I have videogames, DVDs and CDs to collect. Now I have to eat three more flavors..