Friday, March 31, 2006

Another Zoom Text Update And No This Isn't An April Fool's Day Hoax

ZT now stands at 9.02.2 after this update that was released on March 31st. So why the second update in less than two weeks? Is it for better App Reader support? More Neospeech voices? Crazier Color Filtering schemes? Nope. This update is for the .. ahem.. "optimazation of error reporting for Ai Squared tech support". Stand back from it's awesome fury!

Taken directly from the release notes..

"Version 9.02.2Released March 31th, 2006 for Windows XP, 2000, NT4 (SP6), Millennium and 98
Optimization of ZoomText error loggingZoomText's error logging has been optimized for easier interpretation by Ai Squared support technicians. This change does not impact the performance of ZoomText and does not provide any additional feature enhancements or bug fixes. "

Just for the record I think Supernova has the wildest color schemes of any Screen Magnifier past or present. Check them out sometime to see the Red, White and Blue scheme. And the 60's inspired theme is shagadelic baby.

Oh Yes.. Even More CSUN Notes!

The demo discs handed out contain Supernova 7.01. We have a 30 day trial up now and the new speech synth is an improvement. There's an automatic install now which means you don't have to go through all those install shields for each aspect of the program as in previous versions. Support for Pocket HAL and Windows Mobile 2005 is also said to be on this disc but I don't have any Mobile 05 units around here.. yet.

En-Vision America:
We saw the new ID Mate in it’s hand held Star Trek Phaser form. Okay it’s a lot bigger than a hand Phaser but it’s a lot smaller than the current box and wand approach to the old version. It’s still a little weighty for smaller hands but that’s where the head strap comes into play. That’s right the unit can be worn on the head for, as said to us, “hands free” tasks. Me I think I just found the last piece to my Borg Halloween outfit. No really let your mind wander on the thought of a few blind individuals wearing infa red bar code scanners on their heads as if they had on Mining Helmets. . . at eye level.

Vision Technologies Inc.
The VTI booth had the new Solitaire unit up and running. We recently passed on this unit because many felt that the refresh rate on the monitor was too low and the unit, as a result of that, tended to smear text. The *bob* of the unit when zooming or pulling out on text was very noticeable. And then, and this is a personal opinion of mine about most VTI products, the X/Y table feels like it’s made of Tupperware. Do I burp the table before I lock it down? Anyway here’s the specs for this unit.

A clarification to my earlier post about their booth. They did have an um new, pause for humor, flat panel option on the floor but the company as a whole still ships it’s current line with old school monitor options.

The new version of the Easy Link was there like I said before, however, one of the key pieces of info I wanted to pass along was that the Braille Voyager’s install shield has been changed. The first incarnation of the Voyager was a royal pain to install with JAWS 3x [the release at the time of launch] and a recently redesigned Voyager wasn’t any better in the install department. A talking install shield proved to be difficult to understand and our resident Braille expert muttered phrases that she could have only learned from a military officer. This install process is now thankfully gone and the drivers are said to be much easier to load. Still Supernova is the best support around for this device if your keen on the product. Oh and here’s the link to Easy Link by the way.

And here’s a quick funny story about the Clearview. We played with the one at the booth and noticed that it had a yellow tint to it in True, or normal, Color mode. While we talked to one Rep the second switched out the advanced feature pack. This didn’t fix the problem. In fact for most of the show the unit stayed in negative mode when we walked past the booth. I really like the design of that unit but when things on it go wrong.. they go very very wrong that’s for sure.

Ai Squared:
So it looks like I didn’t elaborate on the keyboard here at the Station. Remember that what I saw was a prototype for CSUN and it DOES NOT reflect the actual production unit.

The keyboard has 16 keys up at the top of the keyboard. They are not marked tactilely. So when you throw your hand up there you are not sure where you are in relation to what key you want. There are visual descriptors and different colors but there are no non visual properties to the keyboard shown at CSUN.

The keyboard, around $99 bucks, comes with a CD with the drivers for the unit. The keyboard it’s self is light and comfortable with a standard USB connector. I was told that you can’t remap the keys but you can disable the hotkey combo in Zoom Text so you can avoid a hotkey conflict with another program. Just push the xFont Enhancement button instead of Ctrl plus Shift plus F [which is the same command for fast forward in Windows Media Player by the way].

Low Vision International:
Here’s the website for the new hand held PVO unit introduced at CSUN.

You can also see the accessories for the Student there towards the bottom of the page. The new units shipping come with a separate control box for false colors and line markers.

Enhanced Vision:
Well the Merlin saw another change. First up the older Viewsonic monitors were dropped, then the new Samsung models appeared with the Merlin Plus allowing you to split the CCTV unit’s monitor for PC access and now the Merlin’s controls are attached to a plate directly under the LCD monitor it’s self. With previous Merlin units you could block access to the controls if you brought the monitor down low or down by the X/Y table to avoid the light from the camera base. Now you can access the same controls easier from the bottom of the monitor. And if your wondering .. the face of the camera base was flush with no duplicate controls. It’s just blank and that’s kind of weird.

The Acrobat now features a Laptop configuration/plate, a new smaller arm and a floor stand as new accessories for the unit. You can easily remove the camera head and reattach it to any of these new options for more flexibility instead of buying all new units for the same functionality.

Scanning Your Mate .. or .. Two New Press Releases From Freedom Scientific

Pac Mat 4.0 has arrived. See what you get here:

Scan Talker 2.0 also was released. See it's release here.

Figures that I do an update and I miss stuff by one day. Sigh...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

March 06: Bonus Tech Update

Here’s just a Hodge Podge of stuff I had collecting dirt over the last week or so with more nuggets of CSUN joy thrown in to boot. We will just do this Lightning Round style as their isn’t enough to do a full on newsletter.

~ Let Their Be Linux

One of the things I specifically went looking for was Open Source alternatives for Screen Reading. Here’s some of the stuff shown at CSUN and their links.

Linux Screen Reader by IBM

Orca: Here’s the official Blog for the Orca Screen Reader project.

And this one is just for fun. The article below says that the “pony tail and sandals” appearance of the core Linux user puts off the rest of us from learning the program. Yeah right!

~ CSUN Bits

Here’s a good page for some of the key product announcements made at CSUN.

Small Talk: Here the official page with the specs on that Small Talk hand held computer. Trey’Cool!

Main Menu: Dolphin’s presentation from CSUN was carried this week at ACB Radio. You can catch it now on the Wednesday replay at:

Icon: My friend Marci told me about the Icon. I didn’t see it but I have heard tons of people like it as much as I liked the Small Talk. Here’s the press release run down.

“Icon. The new symbol of freedom for the visually impaired. The ultimate all-in-one mobile manager. Now, one remarkable tool helps the visually impaired leap multiple barriers with incredible freedom. Experience the future. See the possibilities. The Icon from LevelStar.
Pocket-sized portability-
Its revolutionary two-part design means you can pocket the Icon and off you go.
Braille or qwerty docking-
It's a snap. Simply snap your Icon in to your Braille or qwerty docking station and it's a PDA/note taker. The Icon's amazing all-in-one capabilities make it the student's ultimate power tool! Remember, it's powerful! A whopping 20 GB hard drive means more power and memory for the money.

The Icon does it all.
web browsing
Pod Cast
and e-mail provide a competitive advantage in the workplace. Music, talking books,personal calendar, address manager make it a multitalented everyday companion.

Icon from LevelStar
Want more information?
Visit us at
or call toll- free 1.800.315.2305”

~ They Didn’t Know What To Call It So It Became Miscellaneous

Top Tech Tid Bits for March 23rd

ILA: A new voice activated answering machine? Where was this back in my little black book days!

Apple turns 30: Check out this really good and somewhat short history of Apple.

Videogames aid lazy eye

Video: Japan recently decided that analog video, the cable you have in the back of your TV or the little red, white and yellow plugs, will no longer be supported in the digital age. Hollywood loves this as they think that the slowest and lowest form of copying can be stopped. Learn more about the “Analog Hole” here.

!! Vista Corner

You actually think I wouldn’t have any Vista news? Think again. Check out this Vista Blog with links to other Blogs.. about Vista!

The Super Site for Windows has updated the Vista Beta and release schedule:

Microsoft lost another lost suit over Internet Explorer. See the 60 day compliance memos and other stuff here.,1895,1943847,00.asp

Windows Mail, Live Mail, Outlook Express and Outlook. All are email programs from Microsoft but some will pass beyond the rim when Vista comes out. See what I mean here.

Sendero Press Release..
Over 6 years on the market and Sendero's GPS is better than ever.
After months of development and testing, Sendero GPS version 3.5 is about finished and available for advance orders. It will take us a couple weeks to have all the pieces of the package ready. You can purchase the electronic upgrade from 3.3 to 3.5 for $149. Come see
3.5 at CSUN at the LAX Marriott, March 22-25, including our GPS Limo Demos on the 24th, or in San Francisco March 30-31. Go to for demonstration locations.
Here are some of the things you can look forward to in 3.5:
* We are launching a new web site, just for you. It is called and it allows registered customers to download the new maps and POIs as well as the free downloads already available. This will facilitate more frequent and less expensive data updates. DVD copies of the maps can be ordered for an additional $50.
* Version 3.5 offers new maps and POIs in the U.S., UK and Canada.
Other country maps will be added shortly. You can now load the entire U.S. at once. Plan a trip from San Francisco to New York.
* There are a host of new route features like automatic off-route warning, estimated time of arrival, percentage of trip traveled, wrong direction alert at the beginning of a route, indication of the destination side of the street and more.
* New multiple repeat and stationary announcements. Users told us it was inconvenient to stop in the middle of the block to press a GPS command. Wouldn't it be nice if Sendero's GPS could anticipate what command you wanted so you didn't have to take your hand off the dog harness or cane handle? You can now have messages of your choice automatically trigger when you stop moving. Or, you can have the commands repeat every number of seconds.
* Append individual or multiple items to the BrailleNote clipboard.
This will enable you for example to copy all turns in a route to the clipboard and then you can print or emboss that information or save it to a file.
* There are under-the-hood items in 3.5 for an even more stable GPS version as well as more Braille display flexibility.
Sendero GPS has double the features and 10 times the number of users compared with any other accessible GPS system. To read about all the changes in Sendero GPS 3.5, go to

Monday, March 27, 2006

And They Say There's No Humor In AT...

Those who know me know that I often say that our industry rarely shows it's lighter side. But today as I recover more from the thing that is CSUN I bring you some light hearted looks at things.

First up is a Blog from a friend in the trenches. He linked to me so I feel that I have to repay him..

I didn't get to post this in the "Sweet Release" post, however, as a good Mentor told me there is humor out there in AT if you look hard enough. The below release is true and it had sessions of 12 to 20 people. And no I am not talking "eHarmony and JAWS". . .

Check this out with no beverages near your system. You have been warned!

Ft. Wayne, Indiana... For immediate release. GW Micro is pleased to announce the release of Window-Eyes for JAWS. This exciting new product will revolutionize screen reading technology. Screen reading has never been easier. Window-Eyes for JAWS provides you the best of both worlds - the power of JAWS and the ease of use of Window-Eyes. Window-Eyes for JAWS reads what JAWS alone will not, provides ease of use JAWS cannot, and gives access to settings that no one can find in JAWS.
"Some people asked us why we'd release a screen reader for a screen reader," said Dan Weirich of GW Micro. But if they had ever used JAWS, they wouldn't have had to ask."
Let's face it. No screen reader is perfect. But JAWS has been remarkably foul of late. And even so, people and organizations just keep buying it.
Well at GW Micro, we're not going to give up. Our motto is - if we can't beat them, we'll join them - and do it better. So our "middleware"
screen reader, Window-Eyes for JAWS is a logical progression for us.
Here are answers to some questions raised by our exciting new product:
What do you mean by "middleware" screen reader?
Middleware is normally a layer of programming that lets different programs talk to each other. Microsoft Active Accessibility is "middleware" that provides accessibility information. Well, Window-Eyes for JAWS is middleware that provides a usability layer, translating information from JAWS into human understandable terms, and organizing JAWS settings into a comprehensible interface, to make it possible to actually use JAWS without years of study.
If you've ever used JAWS on the Internet, you know why Window-Eyes for JAWS is an essential addition. If you don't code HTML by hand, you probably scratch your head when using JAWS on the Internet. Who knows or cares what a blockquote, onmouseover, or anchor are? With Window-Eyes for JAWS you don't have to know!
Will I have to change settings in multiple places?
Not once you install Window-Eyes for JAWS! Ever try to find where to change punctuation in JAWS? You have lots of choices: the Voices dialogs, the Verbosity dialog, or two or three different places in Configuration Manager... No more! With Window-Eyes for JAWS, all your punctuation settings are in one location! In fact, all settings are easier to find and change.
What about SAPI Voices?
They're supposed to work in JAWS, but that's only an unsubstantiated rumor - until now! Get Window-Eyes for JAWS and use any SAPI synthesizer you have installed, and with the added bonus of no crashes!
How stable will this program be, running on such an unstable platform?
Window-Eyes has a rock solid reputation for stability. If we can do that in Windows, we can do it in JAWS.
Will I be able to use third party programs?
We admit, JAWS doesn't support much more than Microsoft Office these days, but with Window-Eyes for JAWS you can run all of your favorite programs. Window-Eyes for JAWS extends the support you get beyond office environments. Life is about more than work so enjoy it!
What about synthesizers and Braille displays?
Using these devices in JAWS has never been easy. Select it when you install JAWS or reinstall it to get them to work. But with Window-Eyes for JAWS, just select your Braille display or synthesizer from a list, and you don't even need to restart the program! And Window-Eyes for JAWS fully supports using your Braille Sense as a display!
I'm not a programmer; will I have to learn to write scripts?
Absolutely not! If you're a real glutton for punishment and hate yourself and life in general, you *can* write scripts... But with Window-Eyes for JAWS you don't have to submit to such torture! And are you tired of frames that break every time you restart a program? No more! Window-Eyes for JAWS gives you all the easy to use customization tools that have been in Window-Eyes for years. Buy Window-Eyes for JAWS and never script again!
Every time I install a new version of JAWS, I find that something I use all the time is broken. Will Window-Eyes for JAWS help with this?
Yes! With Window-Eyes for JAWS, never worry about upgrading again. We provide the consistency that JAWS cannot. And those commands that give three different results on three tries? With Window-Eyes for JAWS that will never happen again!
Get your copy of Window-Eyes for JAWS today!
Disclaimer: We accept no responsibility for anyone taking this "press release" seriously, and offer no apology or sympathy for anyone without a sense of humor. Have fun!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Jet Lag is Real? And Other CSUN Bits.

I haven’t had much experience with lag. I mean I was born in the Central time zone and I have been on Eastern time tons but I only truly experienced “West is Less” when I go to Vegas. And there time has no meaning so I don’t notice lag beyond the general sleep depravation that comes from staying up all day and night. Today though I am dragging big time.

I am still mulling over my first CSUN in my head. I don’t know what I expected beyond that of the big exhibit halls. The few sessions I went to, and no I didn’t go to eHarmony and JFW thanks for asking, were hit and miss. In some cases there was a bit of poor planning on the CSUN team’s fault as they placed some really good subjects into some really small rooms. Twice I missed a crucial session due to the Fire Marshal shutting down the room because of overcrowding. Just why they put the Office 207 in one of the smallest meeting rooms is beyond me. And that Mozilla panel was filled up too 30 minutes before it ever even started. I don’t know LA at all but I can say that the show has gotten too big for what hotels it now calls home that’s for sure.

I also wasn’t impressed with the site’s overall accessibility. And why do regular print readers get nice bags and glossy programs while we electronic folk get non Braille labeled floppy disks? Floppy disks! Whatever.

Anyway enough of my sad complaining about just crap. Let’s move on to tech stuff…

… Was a no show this year. Now the Bookbinder Group may have met behind closed doors, kind of like last year eh, but no official presence was mentioned of TSI or it’s parent company.

They too were not present at CSUN but some of the local and national distributors had iZoom running on the floor. I think those who read this Blog already know how I feel about this product BUT let me say that I do not like their new approach to USB at all. And if you feel so compelled to use this $250 version let it be on your head that you really should use a USB 2.0 connection with a dedicated video card and a good, 512 or more, amount of memory.

Freedom Vision:
I saw the final release product of the Fusion. It hasn’t really changed much since the prototype I talked about a few months ago. The mouse wheel is stiffer and it has some feedback to let you know that you have scrolled the thing. My friend wasn’t convinced that this unit was good for some low vision users. The Fusion uses an On Screen Menu for some of it’s advanced features and my friend felt that this may be an issue for some. To me the thing looks like an old style McDonalds Quarter Pounder box. Remember those orange things? Well now you open it up and you get a 7 inch screen with a mouse camera similar to that of the Liberty rather than an artery clogging grease ball of meat.

I also saw the new Opti. Unfortunately, in the immortal words of the Who’s Roger Daltry, “Meet the new boss.. same as the old boss” applies. The Opti comes in three new flavors.

Camera pointing down and unmovable
Camera can rotate and flip up
The hand held Mouse Cam version. Think Star Trek Phaser made out of Legos [blocky is the joke I am going for here]

Most of these new Laptop Assisted Video Magnifiers come with this plate thingy that goes under your laptop for counter balance. So in some cases the unit it’s self can weigh as much as the laptop. Well this one has a plate and software that can perform a a video capture of an image which is then converted to a bitmapped photo on the laptop display. I am not saying that this unit is bad as I only spent about 15 minutes with it at best. However, the thing that originally knocked this unit off the market still seems to be it’s Achilles heel in this incarnation. For those who don’t know the original Opti had a serious conflict with a major Screen Magnifier program. That’s still a problem now and it takes some varnish off this new Opti as well.

The company was showing off it’s Zooms companion to it’s Screen Reader solution for Symbian OS phones. I saw it went up to 800% zoom, about three letters at a time really, and the ability to do inverted and gray scale filtering. It’s neat if you have to just have screen enlargement on a 3 inch or less cell phone display. Me .. I want that Pocket HAL for Windows Mobile phones..

The rumors were true. Dolphin had Supernova 7 with an OCR properties sheet. Pocket HAL will work with Windows Mobile 2005 next month and they just updated their compatibility list. And this is how dedicated they are.. they bought all the equipment themselves and worked out the drivers for each product on their new list. Pretty sneaky sis..

Dolphin also had Producer and the new Tutor software up and running. Between Dolphin USA and Freedom Scientific’s Learning Systems Group one has plenty of options for blind individuals with learning disabilities.

Invision America:
Their new ID Mate, man I forgot the name of this thing, is pretty nice. Same voice and data base but smaller and you can now hold it in one hand. The Rep told me that it had the ability to be used with a head strap.. which made me think I could go as a member of the Borg Collective for this Halloween. Honestly I think walking around the room blindly with a big red light on my head is one good way to blind others near me.. but I digress. It’s a good idea if yo uhave to see a bar code from far away or if you need to have a “hands free” option. Just no chanting “Resistance is useless!” when wearing it in public.

Believe it or not I actually have more to spout on about CSUN later on in the week. At some point I will go back and put some links to the stuff I talked about in a “summing up” report I am working on for the job. And I may have some other news to pass along when these products grace our doorstep next month.

For now I think me and the Tivo and a very soft pillow have some long conversations and snoring ahead of us.

More Quick Bits From CSUN

Again I let everyone know that speeling is going to be bad because I am writing from a friend’s laptop. Here’s some more of what we saw so far..


The company has not changed their line up per say, however, they did have a change in color due to a new set of monitors that came from their distributor. The monitor cowlings had the company sport a new look. The unit themselves are still as solid as ever though. If you’re an old school CCTV user then these are still the units that you would generally gravitate to for your daily use.

GW Micro:

I spent some time with Window Eyes and Vista. Okay I mostly drooled over Vista. Alright I mostly panicked over Vista. The system was set for Arrow Express, Windows Classic, so I didn’t get to play with any eye candy. I did, however, see that you can’t back space hotkey to the route drive in a folder view. I could see the desktop but I could not get to My Computer or Profiles like you can currently do in XP. There’s a setting where you can do this from what I read but I was nice and I left their machine alone.

I did though try MSCONFIG from the Run dialog box and it came up with new options. And doing Windows plus Scrl Lock brought up something not exactly like a System Properties box. I was unclear about what did come up and the floor was packed making it hard to hear the system clearly. So the rumors about most hotekeys still working seem to be true. What they do now may be the new mystery. The current performance of Window Eyes was great though. I had no problems or dragging of performance when I did my tour with Window Eyes running. I imagine JFW is at the same level of performance as well but I didn’t get a chance to see their unit at their booth. I was too busy playing with the Opal that day.

The truly awesome thing at the GW Micro booth was the Small Talk. Chris Park, who came over from Himes, was instrumental in the US release of this cool little device. I will break it down in more detail later but just think of a full PDA with embedded Windows XP running Window Eyes on a 30 gig hard drive. The remarkable thing though was that you could take the unit’s stylus around the large, okay six inches may not be so large, display and the mouse would move.. without you touching the stylus to the surface of the display. Even better yet Window Eyes would speak controls and other text as you moused over them. We were even told that Zoom Text could be loaded and it too would function with the moving of the mouse-tracking. It’s a real trip but it’s near 2,800 bucks. More on this later though as it was a real star of the show.


Version 10.6 is on it’s way. And some will be happy to know that one of it’s biggest improvements comes in an update to it’s registration and authorization process. We were told that the company uses a third party program for this feature and it was having some difficulty with Raid arrays and other hardware configurations. The other big feature in this release will come in an “undo” tool.


We stopped by and talked to them for a bit but nothing is on the horizon for K1000 beyond a few more patches. Honestly this current release will be hard to top and the company has slowed down on a release schedule anyways.

Vision Technologies or VTI:

We saw the new VTI Select. Think of the base of the View but different. The Select has a monitor on an arm which can be repositioned to meet your needs. The camera base it’s self is a modified standard unit that allows you to move the camera into all sorts of positions. So it’s more like a Flipper than say an EVS Acrobat.

The other thing we noticed was that the general 1800 was connected to a plain jane Akai widescreen LCD.. and it looked fantastic. This company’s systems can really be hampered by the wrong display monitor that’s for sure as we were stunned by the clearity of the unit on this monitor you can find real cheap at Sam’s Wholesale.

The new VTI units also are shipping with a new feature. The VPs, I think that’s right, is the new “Video Positioning System”. It’s a neat way of saying that you can move the unit’s camera up and down with a knob on the face of the unit.. without moving your X-Y table. Also the units now have the red view locator light that has been on Optelec machines for years.


The unit I most wanted to see was hard to find. I thought, as per the press release, that I would find it at GW Micro’s table. But off in one of the smaller rooms I found the international distributors for Himes with the Sense View line… and boy howdy is it worth the time to see these devices.

The hand held version of the Sense View is now my new fave in this emerging line of CCTv units. It’s small, easy to see and just plain amazing looking. Okay it’s a nice wide screen with digital zoom, false colors, screen capture and a mysterious expansion slot to be used for other stuff to be named later. All for around 825 dollars US. It ships in June in the UK and a US distributorship is still being developed from what I understood. I will go on and on about this thing in more detail later on but let me say that this unit does all the things that the Amigo does but this one fits in your shirt pocket discreetly and at half the cost as well.

The desktop line of units are no slouches either. The split screen units boast 35 false color options and a beautiful display on LCD monitors. The controls may look a little Fisher Price like but you have a true tactile feel that you moved a control with each sporting a different shape or feedback when used. Those guys in Korea surely came out on fire last year with the Braille Sense and now it looks like lightning is going to strike twice with these new CCTV units.

Well I have more on tap including some more detailed descriptions of what we saw. But for now I have to start packing for the long flight back. I honestly never had a desire to travel to LA before this trip. But after being here and experiencing the “LA Vibe” I can understand why this city is sooo huge. I think it would be cool to come back and explore this place outside of the CSUN craziness sometime and that’s a big remark coming from a guy like me.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Some Quick News From CSUN

As promised I am writing you from a hotel in sunny LA. And I can say that I am really happy to be here. First off the plane we took had a one hour delay. It seems it was held in Jacksonville for a “mechanical problem” but of course that wasn’t all. TSA evacuated the terminal along with the situation with the plane. Now those who know me KNOW that I am not a big fan of flying, however, to my credit my friend didn’t have to hit me with a very large mallet in order to get me on that thing with wings.

Anyway.. here’s some quick news on what we saw..

Yes it looks like Jan 07 is the new date. And the MS gang at CSUN looked as shocked as the rest of us at the story in USA Today. But that new date won’t stop the MS hype machine. At one of the sessions we saw the new “Ease of Access” features in Vista. This “Ease of access” replaces the MSAA we know now with a new icon and features. Narrator, magnifier, On Screen Keyboard are now enhanced by Speech Recognition and some cognitive options that were not shown to us in the short demonstration.

Narrator is better. By that I mean it sounds better and it’s easier to understand.
Magnifier now goes to sixteen X mag but it is not full screen as the rumors thought it was.
Speech recog is not as good as say Dragon but it’s not meant to be anything more than a bundled product. Still it works better than what you currently have in Windows Mobile products.

We made some in roads with MS and I hope to have more on this stuff as we approach the Beta 2 release in May.

Freedom Scientific:

FS has JFW up on Vista. MS announced the current 13 AT companies that are working with them on the latest builds of Vista. FS and GW Micro were both listed and both are showing Vista running with Screen Readers. But the real star of the show for me so far is the first working model of the Opal. This hand held CCTV is a wide screen unit like the Pico with good colors and a slightly dimmer display. It has a slider for magnification which is unlike the slider for the Compact as that is really more of a focus knob more than anything else. The real surprise about the Opal is that it has a video out which can also be connected to a LCD monitor or TV. So your hand held unit can now also be a mouse camera for a big monitor as well. We should have one in the unit in April or May. So expect a more hands on look later on in the year.

We also saw the Topaz. It’s okay. But it is really hard to be with another in the never ending line of desktop CCTVs. Still it’s not a bad unit and we will be looking at it in more detail next month.

Open Book 8 will be hopefully released this year. Dusty is in the midst of putting the finishing touches on Magic 10. Magic, by the way, is still thought of as it’s own product rather than JAWS with big words. It does now sport some of the quick use features of JFW which may give some users of both products the ability to use a system on some base levels if their product isn’t on the machine. Forms mode and the forms list from JAWS are just some of the features that came across into Magic. I didn’t get a chance to work on a system with Magic but I am now on the Beta team for Magic and Open Book. So expect some impressions at some point later on down the road.


The real news beyond the Money talks program is that there is an update to Talking Typing Tutor. TTT can now use ATT Natural Voices. It’s a fifteen dollar upgrade, 90 dollars new, but it’s a real improvement that deserves a mention.


We are going to a session today on where Mozilla is in the rumored Alpha of 2.0 but the real news is that Mozilla is doing a lot of PR in the shadow of IE7. Some AT venders haven’t done much with Firefox and the others in the suite and there are several sessions on the docket to show just how easy it is to use Mozilla. I also have it on good authority that there is going to be a neat article in possibly the Braille Monitor in regards to the state of the AT industry and Mozilla coming out soon.

Well we are off to breakfast but expect more soon!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Magic 10 Details On Line.

Freedom Scientific has posted the feature list of it's upcoming update to their popular Screen Magnifier. Some of this will look REAL familiar to you if you are currently a JFW user. Still the instant 1x mode with a scroll wheel click is cool.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Zoom Text: Update 9.whatever Now On Line

Looks like Ai Squared went and updated it's software this weekend before CSUN. ZT, no I am not kidding, is a small patch that fixes many issues. To see the full list go here:

Oh yeah and JAWS 7.1 Beta and Beta Bug Fix Form is also on line at:

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Sweet Release Of Press: CSUN 2006 Invitations

The below are straight up cut, copy and paste versions of the tons of email on CSUN announcements I have gotten over the last two weeks. Each will be seperated by my traditional ~~ so you can skip to the ones that interest you the most. Enjoy!

You are cordially invited to the first event of the post-screen reader era.
Mike Calvo, CEO and Founder of Serotek Corporation, invites you to join him in the Santa Monica A Room of the Hilton Hotel on March 23, from 9.00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. and on March 24 from 9.00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. to hear, touch, and feel Serotek's System Access 2.0 operating from a second generation Key to Freedom, and delivering Accessibility Anywhere! There will be demonstrations every hour on the hour.
Do you really need to continue to use a screen reader? Serotek's award-winning System Access reinvents accessibility from a whole new technology base. A design breakthrough, System Access unleashes the underlying accessibility of the Windows operating system and the full range of standard Windows applications including Windows Media Player, Windows Messenger, Internet Explorer, and Outlook Express. It also provides full access to Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook, including the Outlook calendar, along with read-only access to Excel and PowerPoint content. You also get access to Adobe Reader, Skype Internet telephone services, and much more. This is just the beginning; try it with your favorite application, and you may be pleasantly surprised how well it works out of the box. There's no need to write scripts or set files, just accessibility anywhere for everyone. System Access 2.0's unique virtual mouse gives blind users point, click, review capability they've never had before. System Access delivers remote access to the user's home system and even allows the user to run his or her conventional screen reader, remotely. System Access is easy to learn and easy to use; most users are up and running with full access with no more than an hour or two of training. Now they can invest all their training time and dollars in becoming experts in the actual applications. For newly blind individuals and technical wizards alike, System Access provides a level playing field at work and at play.
If that weren't enough, System Access 2.0 comes fully loaded on the second generation Key to Freedom with AutoRun Anywhere. Plug this flash device into the USB port of a Windows XP computer, and the computer is fully accessible in seconds. Remove it, and there is no residual left on the host system. Get off the chain -- the video chain, that is; there's no need to install flimsy and security breaching video chaining drivers, so you don't need administrative access to the computer. It is truly plug and play, not plug and pray. This makes the Key to Freedom perfect for public computers such as those found in libraries and universities. The retail price of System Access 2.0 and the Key to Freedom combined is less than half the price of a conventional screen reader. Even if you use a screen reader, System Access provides you a level of mobile accessibility not available in any other product on the market. This is why In 2005, Serotek was awarded the prestigious da Vinci Award by the Multiple Sclerosis Society. This award honors outstanding engineering achievements employing universal design principles to promote accessibility.
And this is only the beginning; Mike will also show you FreedomBox Network access from cell phones and PDA's. Visit <> for more information about this award-winning product!
If you are an adaptive technology reseller and want to be a part of the future of accessibility, Serotek is looking for you. We have some very attractive distributor/dealer offerings. You can be part of an adaptive technology revolution. Respond to this email with your contact information, profession, and the date and time you'll be attending. Let's get together and see if the chemistry works. But hurry; space is limited.
It's real! It's here! The post-screen reader era has begun.
See you at CSUN.
Mike Calvo

AD·AS will be on site at CSUN 2006 to show you our line of accessible computer furniture. The exhibit dates are March 22 - March 25. If you're not familiar with our products, this would be a great opportunity to see them up close. AD·AS offers the EquityTM and AccellaTM series --- computer workstations that adjust in height using a hand crank, and the InfinityTM series which adjusts with powered height-adjustment. You'll also be able to see and try out the options and accessories that enhance accessibility for your clients and patrons. AD·AS's accessible computer workstations are commonly packaged with other assistive technology in schools, libraries and government agencies.
We'll be at Booth #150 in the Hilton International Ballroom. Please stop by to say hello and to meet with us and sign up to win a free Ipod MiniTM that will be given away to a CSUN conference attendee.
Hope to see you soon!
Nancy Coupe'
Customer Service
2728 S. Cole Road
Boise, ID 83709
800.208.2020 toll free
208.362.8001 local
208.362.8009 fax <> <>

IBM will be showcasing Innovation that Matters at the CSUN 21st Annual Technology and Persons with Disabilities conference March 22-25 in Los Angeles, California.
The IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center will host the following key
Exhibit area - we will feature solutions to enhance learning and
productivity, drive the progression from compliance to usable access,
and assist with the creation of accessible applications.
General sessions - we will be presenting a broad array of topics ranging
from cost reduction of caption editing to including users with
disabilities in the design of products and services.
Chat room – new for 2006 – we are hosting an interactive breakout
session, "Accessibility and Innovation that Matters to the World", where
participants will learn more about IBM’s commitment to innovation in
accessibility and discuss how collaboration, standards and open
computing can lead to a societal transformation with global benefits.
We hope you will join us at CSUN.

IntelliSwitch for only $99 USD*
Click here to find out more <>
Computer access just got a lot simpler!
DiscoverPro software and the IntelliSwitch, provide wireless switch access to the computer for those who have trouble using a standard keyboard & mouse.

*Until May 31st, 2006, buy an IntelliSwitch for only $99 with the purchase of the DiscoverPro software ($399**).
See us at CSUN March 22-25
Booth Information:
Booth #143/144 Hilton and
Booth #316/331 Marriott
Thursday, March 23
1. "Wow! DiscoverPro 2.0 + IntelliSwitch + IntelliKeys = Powerful Computer Access"
Time - 1:45-2:45pm Catalina C in the Hilton hotel 2. "3 Easy Ways To Access - Touch, Point, Scan"
Time - 4:25-5:25pm Century CD in the Hilton hotel
Friday, March 24
3. "Discover Envoy for Mac OSX"
Time - 9:20-10:20am Catalina C in the Hilton hotel

Ai Squared

Quick Tips: Updates, Upgrades, Reinstallations and More

Quick Tip Logo
Sooner or later, we all need to install newer versions of our computer applications in the form of updates and upgrades. Although extra preparation and caution is often required when updating and upgrading applications, this is not the case with ZoomText 9.
Still, for many users this is a disconcerting process that invokes a variety of questions and concerns. To ease these concerns, here are answers to the most common questions about ZoomText 9 updates and upgrades, plus a couple more about reinstalls and converting trials to products.
* Do I have to uninstall ZoomText 8 before I install my ZoomText 9 upgrade?
No. If you prefer, you may leave ZoomText 8 installed on your system and still install ZoomText 9. You can even switch between running ZoomText 8 and 9, however, when switching versions you may be prompted to restart your system first.
* Do I have to uninstall ZoomText 9 before I install a ZoomText 9 update?
No. In fact, a complete ZoomText 9 product must be installed on your system in order to install a ZoomText 9 update.
* What is the difference between a ZoomText upgrade and a ZoomText update?
ZoomText upgrades provide new and enhanced features that add valuable functionality to the product. Upgrades are denoted by a change in the tenths digit or the ones digit of the product version number. Specifically, upgrading from version 8.0 to 8.1 is a minor upgrade, while upgrading from version 8.0 or 8.1 to 9.0 is a major upgrade. Upgrades must be purchased from Ai Squared or a ZoomText dealer.
A ZoomText update provides performance enhancements and bug fixes for its corresponding product release. Updates are denoted by a change in the hundredths digit of the product version number. For example, versions 9.01 and 9.02 are both updates for version 9.00. Updates are provided free of charge and may be downloaded using the ZoomText Update Wizard, or from Ai Squared's website.

* If I need to reinstall ZoomText 9, do I have to uninstall the existing installation first?
Yes and no. If the version of ZoomText you want to reinstall is older than the version currently installed on your system, than yes, you will need to uninstall the version on your system first. Otherwise, no, you do not need to uninstall ZoomText first.
* If I reinstall or update ZoomText 9, will I lose my product activation?
No. Reinstalling or updating your installation of ZoomText 9 will not remove or corrupt the ZoomText product activation.
* Do I have to uninstall the ZoomText 9 trial software before I install my ZoomText 9 product?
No. In fact, you can quickly convert your installed ZoomText trial software into a full product, without having to perform another installation. Here's how…
Each time you launch the ZoomText trial software, the Activation Wizard appears, providing an option to activate ZoomText. Select the option – "I have a serial number and want to activate ZoomText" and you will be prompted to enter your ZoomText serial number, which you can find in your ZoomText product package. Enter your serial number and follow the prompts, and in a matter of seconds your trial installation will magically convert to a full activated product. It's that easy.
We hope that the above questions and answers ease any fears you have about ZoomText updates, upgrades, reinstallations, etc. However, if you're still apprehensive about performing any of these tasks, contact Ai Squared's product support department at (802) 362-3612 (option 3) or
ZoomText Giveaways and Discounts at CSUN 2006
Image of Conference Floor <>

Ai Squared will be exhibiting at CSUN's 21st Annual Conference – "Technology and Persons with Disabilities" – March 22nd through the 25th in Los Angeles, California. The conference will bring together leading experts and manufacturers of assistive technology. Attendees will take in four days of presentations, workshops and product exhibits.
This year we will be raffling off one copy of each of our products (ZoomText Magnifier/Reader and ZoomText Magnifier) to show attendees who come by our booth and sign up for the giveaway. For those not lucky enough to win a free copy, a special CSUN discount will be available to all show attendees during the show and for a limited time afterwards. "We wanted to make CSUN a more fun event – for our customers and us – and we thought giveaways and discounts on show purchases was the way to do this", said Doug Hacker, Director of Sales and Marketing. "We’re confident people will be surprised at the discount".
The CSUN conference will be held at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott and neighboring Los Angeles Hilton. Please visit us at booths 218 and 231 in the Marriott Marquis ballroom to register for the free products, see live demonstrations of ZoomText 9.0 and pick up a free trial CD. While you're there, ask an Ai Squared representative about special show discounts on all Ai Squared products.
We also invite you to join us for our ZoomText presentations:
ZoomText 9.0: Overview for the AT Trainer Friday, March 24th at 10:40 am – Marriott, Dallas Room
ZoomText 9.0 New Features and Overview
Saturday, March 25th at 8:00 am – Marriott, Chicago Room
We look forward to seeing you there. Learn more about CSUN 2006


<> We've all witnessed the power of assistive technology and computers in enhancing the lives of people with disabilities. Equitable computer access is more important than ever in our schools, colleges and public places.
Today, accessible computer workstations from AD·AS are used in thousands of computer labs. We're proud of our role in creating accessible environments across the United States and overseas.
To make your computer lab accessible, consider these quick tips:

· Place printed resources in a location easily reached by a wheelchair user · Utilize signs with high contrast and large print · For each type of workstation in your lab, ensure that at least one is adjustable

For a comprehensive list of features an accessible computer lab should have, visit: <>
To view a short video of computer lab staff interacting with people with disabilities in an accessible computer lab setting, go to: <>
AD·AS is offering an Exclusive Spring Special for assistive technology professionals. For a limited time, purchase the InfinityTM Two-story, one of our most popular wheelchair accessible computer workstations, at 25% off of list price.

The InfinityTMTwo-story is an ergonomic computer workstation with motorized adjustment <>

Offer ends April 28, 2006. Call 1-800-208-2020 to take advantage of these savings, and reference the "Exclusive Spring Special." Exact shipping charges apply.
If you'd like to receive AD·AS product catalogs by mail, you can request them online or call us at 800-208-2020.
Nancy Coupe'
Customer Service
2728 S. Cole Road
Boise, ID 83709
800.208.2020 toll free
208.362.8001 local
208.362.8009 fax <> <>


Come visit HumanWare at CSUN
Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference March 22-25, 2006 Los Angeles Airport Hilton and Marriott Hotels HumanWare will be in booth 247 in the Marriott
Come visit the Humanware Booth at CSUN where we'll be demonstrating all our products including the BrailleNote mPower with the powerful new KeySoft 7. We will be highlighting exciting low vision and braille products for the blind and visually impaired.
Register to win a new, portable Color PocketViewer or Vibe, Digital Talking Book Player, and see a demonstration of each. (One entry per person). The drawings will be held at 4 PM on Thursday and Friday.
Also, you are invited to join us for a memorial to honor Russell and Marian Smith on Wednesday, March 22 in the Meridian Room at 7:30 PM.
Product-specific presentations will be held in the HumanWare Suite. This year our in-suite sessions will be held Thursday, March 23 in the Torrance Room:
10:00 AM BrailleNote mPower & KeySoft 7
11:00 AM Maestro, The Most Portable Hand Notetaker
12:00 PM Trekker, Portable, GPS System
2:00 PM myReader, The First Auto Reader
3:00 PM What's new with Braille Displays
4:00 PM BrailleNote Users Group
We will also have our ever popular KeyShop running for BrailleNote, VoiceNote and BrailleNote PK users. Stop by our booth for more information.
ViewPlus will offer presentations on the Tiger, Emprint and IVEO in Suite 1728 of the Marriott. The schedule is:
1-2 PM Tiger/Emprint
2-3 PM IVEO/Audio Graphing Calculator
3-4 PM General Open House
10-11 AM Tiger/Emprint
11-12 PM IVEO/Audio Graphing Calculator
HumanWare and our partners will cover many topics in presentations during the general sessions. There is sure to be one of interest to you:
DAISY: Why Daisy Has Been Adopted Throughout the World Gerry Chevalier, HumanWare Wed, 9:20 AM - Denver Room, Marriott
Trekker Reviewed An Advanced GPS System for the Blind Lucia Gomez, HumanWare Thurs 9:20 AM - Boston Room, Marriott
Digital Talking Books Life After the CD
Gerry Chevalier, HumanWare
Thurs 10:40 AM - Denver Room, Marriott
Victor Reader Soft
Ivan Lagace, HumanWare
Thurs 1:45 - Denver Room, Marriott
Digital Technology and Print Disabilities Brenda McBride, HumanWare Thurs 3:05 PM - Denver Room, Marriott
Maestro, My World in the Palm Of My Hand Lucia Gomez, HumanWare Thurs 3:05 PM - Boston Room, Marriott
Emerging Computer Technologies for Accessible Math John Gardner, ViewPlus Friday 8 AM - Chicago Room, Marriott
Future Accessible and Highly Portable Computing Platforms Ivan Lagace - Humanware Friday, 9:20 - Chicago Room, Marriott
Breaking Down the Barriers of Science and Engineering Using Adaptive Technology Noel Romey, U of Arkansas Friday 9:20 AM - Dallas Room, Marriott
Sensitive Braille Displays with ATC Technology (Active Tactile Control) Sigi Kipke, HandyTech Friday 12 PM - Dallas Room, Marriott
Tactile- Audio Diagrams - IVEO
Jeff Gardner, ViewPlus
Friday 2 PM - Chicago Room, Marriott

175 Mason Circle
Concord CA 94520
(800) 722-3393


Axistive is the Online Media Partner of CSUN 2006. Thanks to this partnership, you can now follow CSUN 2006 online, with daily news, interviews, articles and products live from the conference!

<> Visit Axistive's CSUN 2006 Special Reports Online <> !


Visit SSB BART Group
CSUN Booth #364 in the Marriott
Learn about the Accessibility Management Platform (AMP) and SSB BART Group's deep bench of senior accessibility specialists. AMP combines a proven, metrics based, methodology with an easy to use web-based system for ensuring the accessibility of enterprise wide IT systems. AMP’s performance benchmarks are based on over 3 million data points from SSB BART Group's more than 1200 successfully completed accessibility projects.
For immediate assistance call:
415.624.2710 or 703.637.8955

It is hard to believe that CSUN is opening in just one week! De Witt & Associates will be there and we are very excited about all the fun and timely topics our staff will be presenting this year!
Live & Learn: Using eHarmony with JAWS, or Blind Dates and More!
De Witt & Associates President and Founder, John De Witt, relays his success in using eHarmony with JAWS. John will discuss tips and tricks for using eHarmony and talk about how he met his fiancé Paula using this service. John will be joined by Peg Halverson of The Sacramento Society for the Blind, who also met her husband Tom using eHarmony.
Friday 3/24/06, 8:00 a.m. in the Dallas Room at the Marriott
Live & Learn: Online Poker & Crazy Eights; Hands Down, Great Games!
Associate Patti Mitchell will be joined by Jeremie Spitzer from All inPlay to talk about how accessible online games can help new computer users gain confidence and provide all computer users with a thriving, fun community. This workshop will feature plenty of how-to advice for those new to this fun gaming software, plus information on how to integrate games into introductory computer training.
Friday 3/24/06, 4:10 p.m. in the Chicago Room at the Marriott
Don’t forget to stop by our booth to enter to win a $300 American Express Gift Certificate! 2nd prize will be a $200 Gift certificate. We’ll also be giving away three copies of Talking Typing Tutor! We’re at Booth 408, in the Saddle Brook Room at the Marriott.
Drop in your business card or give us your name and e-mail address to enter! And while you are at the booth, don’t forget to say hello. Our CSUN staff this year will be John De Witt, Rick Fox, Patti Mitchell, Joe Adamo, Del Basha and Larry Bonds.
At CSUN we’ll be introducing our latest Courseware offerings.
The all-new, all-updated Teaching and Learning the BrailleNote GPS: for Version 3.5. This is a must have guide for orientation and mobility instructors who need to teach students how to use this revolutionary product. As a CSUN special, good until April 21st, the Courseware is packaged free with every BrailleNote GPS purchased from De Witt & Associates.

Getting Started with the Internet and Word provides the basic lessons needed to get a novice computer user up and running with assistive technology. It is available in a JAWS and ZoomText version.
Come see us at Booth 408 in the Saddle Brook Room at the Marriott for more information!


If you have been reading about education trends in the US, then you know that the level of math and science achievement among our nation's schools puts us at a disadvantage compared to other countries in the industrialized world. What you may not know, however, is that this situation is further compounded by a substantial disparity between the math skills attainment of America's 6 million students with disabilities and those without. At Design Science, we believe this is a problem that needs fixing, and we are asking you to join us in trying to find ways to make math accessible.
The need for students with disabilities to be able to access the general education curriculum has been identified as one of the key factors in leveling the playing field and allowing students with disabilities to have the same ability to compete academically with their non-disabled peers. Although this fact has been recognized, there has been little work done so far which concentrates specifically on the accessibility of math instruction and assessment for students with disabilities. Some of the issues that must be addressed include the need for publishers, instructional software vendors, and assistive technology developers to support math accessibility in their products, and the need for all states to mandate accessible math instructional content and provide math assessments that are accessible to all students.
Design Science is working to help develop some of the technology infrastructure that will be critical in addressing the issue of math accessibility. We worked with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to help pioneer the major technology, MathML, which will be vital in creating accessible math. Design Science is also actively working with groups like the DAISY Consortium and the NIMAS Development Committee to further develop the international and federal standards which will support math accessibility in the future. We are further involved in research and development activities supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to create advanced math accessibility technologies, including improved math-to-speech, synchronized speech/highlighting of math equations for individuals with learning disabilities, Braille support, and math search engine technology.
If these ideas sound exciting to you, we invite you to hear one of our leading math accessibility developers, Neil Soiffer, as he and two other leading experts in the field describe some of the latest advances in math accessibility during the CSUN panel session "Emerging Computer Technologies for Accessible Math," on Friday March 24, 8:00-9:00 AM in the Chicago Room of the Marriott Hotel.
Also, please visit us at booth #414 in the Marriott Hotel to learn more about the work we are doing in math accessibility, and find out what you can do to promote math accessibility policy and practice in your state. We invite you to pick up our handout on making math accessible to learn more. If you can't attend CSUN, or simply can't wait to find out about our current work in this exciting area, please visit our web site at
We're looking forward to meeting you in Los Angeles!
Stephen L. Noble
Director of Accessibility Policy
Tel: (502) 969-3088
Fax: (502) 964-5198
~ Makers of MathType, MathFlow, MathPlayer, WebEQ, Equation Editor, TexAide ~


Braille SENSE is introduced with Bluetooth, wireless LAN, MSN and power full database at the 2006 CSUN.
Please come to visit our booth #413, Marriott.
If you join our Session, you can learn more about it March 22nd 12:00PM to 12:30 PM, Boston-Marriott
SenseView the first and the world’s smallest portable magnifier designed for people on the move with 4.3" WIDE TYPE TFT-LCD is introduced at 2006 CSUN.
Also HIMS will show 2 additional desktop models.
Please visit our Booth #413 in Marriott Hotel.
If you join our SenseView session, you can lean more about P430.
March 24th 3:20PM to 3:50PM Dallas-Marriott


On behalf of Aequus Technologies, I would like to cordially invite you to attend the Snap!VRS and AspireReader™ product demonstration event during the 21st annual CSUN 2006 International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference on March 23rd in Los Angeles, CA.
During this demonstration, members of the disabilities community will have the opportunity to join friends and colleagues to experience two new exciting products and services during 1-2 hour sessions:
Snap!VRS Demo
The new Snap! video relay service for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing will be demonstrated during a 2-hr session using the Ojo™ video phone. This remarkable new video phone offers true-to-life audio and video transmission that is sure to get you excited. For Snap!VRS subscribers, the Ojo is provided for at no charge.
Please click here for details > <!VRS_CSUN2006_Invitation_FINAL.pdf>
AspireReader Demo
The new AspireReader 4.0 software player for struggling students will be demonstrated during a 1-hr session. This new software improves learning outcomes by providing multi-sensory tools for accessing digital talking books, webpages, and rich text documents.
Please click here for details > <>
I look forward to seeing you there.
Warmest Regards,
Richard Schatzberg
Chief Executive Officer
Aequus Technologies


Celebrate Dolphin’s 20th Anniversary at CSUN 2006
March 22– 25
Are you interested in the latest Access and Education technology for people who are blind or low vision or print impaired? You are!
Are you planning to visit the CSUN Conference 2006? You are!
Dolphin Computer Access would love to meet you, please call by the Dolphin booth #317/318, situated in the Marriott.
Dolphin has been a leader in the accessibility industry for 20 years, and to celebrate this CSUN 2006 will see the launch of Dolphin’s next generation version 7.0, access software. Supernova v7.0 offers users more features than any other combined screen reader and magnifier, and comes with continued robust support for all Microsoft supported platforms, including support for Citrix networks and Terminal Server sessions, as standard. All Dolphin access products are available on the Dolphin Pen – the coolest way to take your access software with you and have it run on any compatible computer, any time and anywhere!
Dolphin will also be demonstrating its latest Pocket Hal, screen reader. Launched at the recent ATIA Conference, Pocket Hal offers a full screen reader for PDA users, providing the same level of functionality as the full desk top version of Hal.
Dolphin is also busy working on screen reader solutions for Smartphones. To find out about the latest developments visit the Dolphin booth #317/318. Now whether you are at school, at work or on the move; Dolphin has a solution for you!
Ever wanted to create accessible materials instantly? Visit the Dolphin booth to try out their latest Text to Digital Talking Book software. Dolphin Producer is becoming the most talked about solution for creating instant DAISY Digital Talking Books from text documents – perfect for creating instantly accessible materials at the push of a button.
Dolphin would also like to invite you to our presentation sessions during your visit to CSUN:
Mobile Access Solutions – Pocket Hal for PDAs
Wednesday 22 March at 9:20 AM, in the Boston Room - Marriott
DAISY Accessibility for the masses Using EaseReader
Wednesday 22 March at 10:40 AM, in the Denver Room - Marriott
Text To Digital Talking Books In An Instant - Dolphin Producer
Wednesday 22 March at 1:30PM, in the Denver Room - Marriott
Advanced Synthesizer Technology from Dolphin
Saturday 25 March at 10:40 AM, in the Dallas Room - Marriott
If you are unable to make any of the presentation sessions please drop by the Dolphin booth and we will be happy to demonstrate any of the latest range of Access and Education software to you.
We look forward to meeting you in 2006.

March 06 Early Tech Update: "Because CSUN Can't Come Soon Enough!" Edition

Well we stand at the shadow of CSUN 2006. Check out the bottom of the post to see what we learned already. I will be Blogging from CSUN, if I am not out on the town in the City of Angels, with more next week. I also will be posting the tons of press releases I have here at work in a post later on today.

And please note the new dedicated Vista Awareness portion of the update. We will have this on a regular basis from this point on so be Vista Aware.. be very aware!

Steve’s Word Of The Month:
Definition: This practice is employed when you wish to say one thing but do something else. For example your teenage daughter calls from her best friend’s house and says she is staying over and doing homework. In actuality the Caller ID has been “spoofed” and your daughter called from the phone of the college Frat House where a raging Spring Break kegger is in full swing.

Some companies on the web offer the ability to use their services to show whatever you want on the Caller ID. Generally these services charge you by the call and work 90% of the time.

~ Lightning Round:

* The new Access World is up and it has an overview of the announcements at ATIA 06.

* Top Tech Tid Bits: Dean has a lot of good stuff in this issue from March 9th.

* AOL: More like SOL if you’re a dial up customer. AOL’s new ads are driven by their need to lose the dial up subscriber. I guess they don’ know that a whole lot of Texans don’t have two Dixie cups and a string let alone broadband. Read more here:

* Talking Thermostat: Everyone’s Blog has a link to this new device from Kelvin. So peer pressure makes me list it here:

* Humanware: A new CEO has been chosen to lead the company. Learn more from the official press release:

* Windows Update: Depending when you last updated you might see either

A. 5 Critical Updates from February
B. 2 Recommended Windows XP updates from February
C. 1 Critical Update from March
D. 3 Windows XP Recommended updates from March

All updates hover between 415k and 1.7 MB. Your mileage, as usual, will vary. And if you haven’t already expect a Windows Genuine Advantage update when you go to install any Windows components. It updated it’s self last month but you might not find out about it until this month. Surprise!

* McAffe: Last Friday the company released an automatic update that killed MS Excel and other programs. The company quickly recalled the update and issued a new patch Excel killing free.

* Blue Ray Blues: This High Def DVD thing is getting nuts. Now Japan has stated that analog output is gone by 2010. And if you just spent a ton of money on that new Plasma.. well read the below link and weep.

* Apple: Not only did they not issue some revolutionary new product last month at this overhypped press thingy last month but it was a platform to announce more Mac Minis. G4TV got it right last year “Apple.. reinventing the wheel even if it doesn’t need it”. And oh yeah your not safe from hackers if you run Mac OSX.

!! Vista Bewareness

Welcome to the new section that is all Vista. The new Microsoft OS will be all you see, eat or breathe once MS’s PR department gets threw with you but who says we have to wait. Below is new info on Win V, Win Vis or Longhorn.. an OS by any other name.

* Release Date: August 24th has been a historical day in the past for Microsoft. Our own spies have told us that August was either the month where the OS went gold or even the day OEMs like Dell start loading it on to new systems. Here’s a neat article to see what else happened on August 24th with Windows.

* Six Pack: MS will officially support 6 versions of Vista. You, however, may only encounter only 4.. if your lucky.

* Vista Marketing: Did you know that MS set aside 2 billion dollars to create, promote and ship the original Xbox? Well that’s nothing compared to the green Bill is going to spend on getting you interested in Vista.

* Short Term Memory: Many have said for years that Windows is a bloated memory hog. And those people are right. But 480 MB for Vista it’s self? Not a surprise but there is a lot of debug code to be pulled out of the final build. Get another take on it here:

* Feb Build Review: Paul at the Windows Super Site has once again broken down Vista in the first of his two part review of the Feb CPM release.

* Vista Hardware and Upgrade Advisor: The old Windows XP Advisor is back and on steroids for Vista. Rumor is that it sticks it’s tongue out at you if you have an AMD chip though.

* Office 12: Word is on the street that Office 2007 will ship same day as Vista. That makes perfect and sadly good marketing sense. I say sadly because there’s nothing like two learning curves at one time. Learn more about Office here:

~ CSUN 2006

Here’s what we know so far…

Freedom Scientific-

JAWS 7.1 Features

Pac Mate 4.0 Features
* The ability to open two FSEdit word processor documents at one time and work between them
* Many new FSCalc enhancements that make this math and scientific calculator even more versatile
* A new option that lets you set a secondary braille language when reading foreign language documents
* Full access to Resco Audio Recorder to record and edit right on the PAC Mate
* Help system changes that make it easy for even a beginner to get started with PAC Mate

Magic 10 beta will be on the floor along with a possible Open Book upgrade. An Opal will be given away so I assume it’s about to ship. Topaz will also be in full mode at one of at least three FS booths.

The company will market this new Easy Braille unit. It’s USB powered and feels a little different than your average bear.

Supernova 7 will use Acapella the same way Pocket HAL does now. Pocket HAL will see an upgrade to work on Windows 2005 Mobile devices. And the big news? Supernova 7 will have a new properties sheet for OCR.

Ai Squared-
Zoom Text will have another free patch released in mid April. A .1 upgrade is on the horizon but right now there is no word if it’s going to be the path to Vista for ZT users. They will have a multi function keyboard on hand with pre programmed ZT keys at CSUN. If all goes well the prototype will go into production this April for an unspecified price. There is also a rumor floating around that they will announce or show a new line of CCTVs behind closed doors. We will see..

GW Micro-
Window Eyes 5.5 will be running on the floor under the latest build of Vista. 5.5 Beta is said to work even better. But get ready because 6.0 is just around the corner. Also they will have some new Braille Sense features on hand for the show. The big news is the inclusion of a CCTV to their portfolio as the Sense View will make it’s first public appearance at the show.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Hotel Living Ain't Easy!

The Unit recently held a big Workshop for our local Trainers. And the hotel that had been loyal to us for years had just seen it's franchise rights change twice in less than two years. The changes along with the aging property's general woes made for a bad stay for most of our visiting team. The following is a bit of a leter I sent out to the group to let them know that I too had an issue some years ago at the same location.

"I too had problems years ago. I thought some would find this story funny. It happened to me in 2000 and I was only on the job for a little more than two months. Think of that noise the clock on “24” makes as you read the following.

The following is a brief description of the events that took place on May 24th during my attempt to leave the Hotel on route to the San Antonio Center.

8:12 AM
My wife, who is my driver, and I had finished our breakfast at the hotel and were returning to our room to pick up our luggage and check out of the hotel. We both tried our keys, which are little chips with a metallic tab on one end, in the electronic lock to no avail. We then proceeded to the check out desk where the staff re-encoded our key and suggested that we try the lock again.

8:22 AM
We tried the keys again and they did not work. Usually there is a beep to signify that the lock has accepted the key, however, there were no sounds or lights to be seen or heard from the lock.

8:26 AM
We returned to the check out counter and asked for guidance in this matter. The staff conveyed to us that this sort of thing happens all the time and that it would take ten minutes for the maintenance man to replace the batteries in the door lock. We were assured that it would take no time at all even after I explained to them the fact that I was late for my appointments of the day.

8:37 AM
The worker arrives to begin his task of replacing the door lock batteries. He tries his key to see if it works and it does not. He then moves on to the room to the left of our hotel room, Room 503, and goes inside. After 45 seconds he leaves 503 and tells us to wait for his return.

8:45 AM
The worker returns and he has brought some tools with him. He attempts to gain entrance by removing the covering of the lock to our room. At this point I then went to my car to find the number for my supervisor in order to explain my situation and that I was going to be late in my arrival to the Center. That is when I heard the workman break the window. I returned to see the glass broken out of the window on Room 503. The workman then realized that the window he had just broken did not gain him entrance to our room that had no windows [ except for those in the door ]. The worker then moved to the room to the right of our room, 501, and broke that window as well. Once again the man realized too late that the window also did not gain him entrance to Room 502.

9:03 AM
I returned to tell the staff about the broken windows to find that they were not all that concerned about the situation at hand. I again explained to them that I was late and that they must have come across this kind of problem before. Mr. J. T, Rooms Division Manager, said that it happened all the time and that it would only take ten minutes longer. I explained to him that I was told that in the beginning of all of this and we were now fast approaching the one hour mark.
I then asked him some questions on what would have happened if I had not been leaving that day.

Q: “Would you move me into another room?”
A: “Sure. If that’s what you wanted.”

Q: “So I would then have to wait for all of this to be cleaned up before I could retrieve my things to put into another room?”
A: “Or we can do all that for you.”

I explained to him that at this point I didn’t feel comfortable with them handling much and that I had a security issue with the other two rooms with broken windows. It was made clear to me that this situation was a common state of affairs and at no time did I get any apollogy, however, Mr. Talbot made a half hearted gesture of an offer to make things better on my next stay.

9:14 AM
I returned in time to see the workman drop his tools and then break the window inside the door to Room 502. The glass did not go all at once so he had to work at one particular section for awhile before he had a workable area to reach around the door with. At this point there is no lock on the door and no handle either. The worker had made a large hole in the glass, however, the rest of the glass now creaked and groaned with spider web cracks running throughout the rest of the remaining door. The workman told us that he would return in a moment.

9:25 AM
My wife and I noticed that the door was slightly ajar and we managed to pry it open without touching the parts of the door that contained the splintered glass. Glass covered the floor of our room but not any of our belongings. I went to the phone and called my supervisor and explained the entire story to her. She told me to write it up and the Regional Director.
9”40 AM
I returned one last time to the check out counter to make sure I had my names straight and to also give back my key to the hotel. Mr. T was still on duty and he made a joke about the key being a “keyless lock” that I found not funny by this point in the day. When I asked for Mr. T’s name he responded by offering his card. I gave him one of mine as well and that is when his aditude changed towards me. Now Mr. T was offering free upgrades and other services the next time I came into town. In fact, I was to call him so he could “Hook Me Up Big Time” on my next stay."

This wasn't AT related but I thought it was funny none the less.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Power Is Not In Your Hands

Recently we had a whole slew of battery issues in the unit. Last year we needed a patch to fix a battery issue on a note taker. Then we had two Hand Held CCTV units from two separate manufactures go bad. One of the Hand Held units was only 35 days old. And in one case we had a battery leakage issue on a note taker that was so bad the unit smelled like cat pee. Mmmm…

ZD Net recently posted an article on a Windows issue that was part of the cause for laptop batteries draining faster than they should. So one would start to surmise that there is a real problem with battery power these days.

I honestly recommend that you look at devices that have removable batteries for your work related tasks. Some new portable CCTV units actually come with two batteries right out of the box. That means you can charge one while using another. Hand Held units, however, aren’t so lucky. Most of them, like the current line of accessible PDAs, have on board non removable batteries. Which can make replacement a fun filled trip to the Post Office as the unit will have to go back home to be repaired.

The conspiracy theorists among our staff say that it’s a pyramid scam run by the Energizer Bunny from his bunker at the Symantec Anti Virus Research Center.. but that may be just what he wants us to think. I mean Easter is right around the corner and all. It could be the Cadbury Rabbit is honing in on his action is all.

Hmm… Note to self: Mid week entries tend to go very obscure on the reference tip. Must remember to stay on topic next time. Oh who am I kidding. That will never happen.