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.

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