Monday, December 31, 2007

Accessorize Your Life With The Sense View Hand Writing Camera

Before I start... Most 3 to 5 inch Hand Held Video Magnifiers are for spot reading tasks. I mean you aren't going to read or write the "Great American Novel" under them in most cases. With any Video Magnifier there are limitations either technological or physical in nature. Having realistic expectations about what you want and what the technology can actually do will be the key to finding the right fit for you and your vision. Always, always and oh yeah ALWAYS! try before you buy anything! With that said...

Looking for a way to spend some of that holiday cash that Santa left you? Do you have my CSUN Pick from 2006 on hand? If the answer to both questions is "Yes" then you may want to think about picking up the Hand Writing camera accessory for the Sense View.

SenseView Camera                                                  

Picture of a Sense View with the camera attached [on left] and a Hand Writing Camera by its self [on right]

The camera attaches to the right side of your Sense View via the expansion slot. As you can see from the picture above the camera is small and it is surprisingly lightweight. There is really only one way to attach the camera. And once you get it onto the unit you won't have trouble connecting it the next time you need the attachment. After you have it on board you can toggle the camera on and off by the use of the power button located on the front side of the camera. Don't worry about finding the button as it generally faces you when holding the unit to where the main power is on your left and the Snapshot button is at the 12:00 position. Once on board you will find that the easiest way to tell that you have the camera on is to look at the lights under the unit. When you turn the Hand Writing camera on the lights located on the Sense view will go dark and the lights on the Hand Writing camera will light up. Toggling between the main camera and the Hand Writing Camera can be performed on the fly by turning the Hand Writing Camera on or off. Sliding the camera off your Sense View may be difficult at first, however, the connection feels firm when it is attached to the main unit.

Now a few minor quibbles. When you have the unit attached one of the lips on the clamp that holds the camera onto the Sense View almost, but not completely, covers the button for switching color modes. If you read in say negative color and you write in true color then it might take some doing to toggle between the modes at first glance. The pouch that contains your new camera is something you might lose easily if you don't cary a bag or if you don't tie it on to a case for your Sense View. And for some users out there they might find writing left handed has its own drawbacks, however, when do leftys get a break anyway? Still for the low price this is worth a look for those of you who already have a Sense View. And if you are considering one you might want to throw this in with your purchase. 

Here's the link to the page detailing the Sense View Hand Writing Camera..

And to see the specs for the Sense View see the link below..

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Quick News: RAM, WHS, Office 07 And Adobe On Adobe Action

In Classic Star Trek's "Trouble With Tribbles" Scotty has a famous Geek quote used often by some of us in our Unit. When Engineer Scott is told that he must remain in his Quarters until further notice by Kirk after a bar brawl with the Klingons his response is "That will give me time to catch up on my technical journals". So it is for me, and a few others, during the Holidays in the biz. Of course the upside is that I get paid to play with the latest in Assistive/Adaptive/Access Technology. And that is a job that is hard to come by easily these days. So the benefits far outweigh the romanticism that comes with being a Government Drone. no wait.. that's not right is it? Change Government to Borg for Star Trek reference sake. Oh well here's some of the interesting stuff I have come across this week.

Laptop Specs And Vista: When I did my talk at NFB Computer Sciences in July of 06 I told the crowd to shoot for 2 GB of RAM for Vista. Roboret SinClaire, who was also on the panel, wasn't too thrilled with me over that and a few musings I had about Office 07. My mindset at the time was that eventually the hardware would have to come up to meet the demands of the software in a very short time as developers took advantage of their new play toys. Below is a Slashdot article that pretty much comes right out and says that Laptop OEMs are leaning to a GB standard configuration for RAM.

Windows Home Server: Earlier this year I stated that I wanted a WHS for the Holidays. The quick move to a new orbit for TRS kinda put the kibosh on that desire. However having my own office at home is a super cool trade off though. And in retrospect it may prove to be all for the best as the post linked to below shows that there may be some big issues with WHS.

Office 07 SP1 Isn't A Gift: This one goes out to all the non Admins out there who thought I was just whining about the various product Service Pack progress bars and the like earlier in the month. The link below shows that I am not the only guy online perplexed with all the updates, and their eventual testing, showing up at one time during the Winter Break. It also gives a very realistic reason for this wealth of updates.

Adobe On Microsoft Watch: It has been one year since Adobe went all crazy in the acquisition department to play catch up with Google and Microsoft. One rumor had it that Adobe realized that ODF threatened PDF and so they needed to be more than the company who just annoys you with constant Adobe Acrobat Updates. Macromedia and other purchases have now allowed Adobe to bug you even more with even bigger lists of updates as a result of this buying spree. Sarcasm aside, here is an interview that Karen McCall would love on where Adobe is going. i mention Karen's name because at the top of the interview they jump right into Macromedia integration possibilities with Acrobat. Love that accessibility! Oh and this runs as an embedded player at the top of the page with direct links further down. Just a warning..

Karen's web site: I would be remiss if I also didn't give a shout out to some of Karen's work on Adobe and Office access. Her Main Menu appearance from April 07 is worth a listen as well.

Vista Tip: Shift + Right Click/App Key = Hidden Options

I am catching up on podcasts during the Holiday Break. But one of the few podcasts that always gets bumped to the front of the pack is Windows Weekly at TWIT. Recently Leo and Paul added Vista Tips as a weekly feature. Some of them I have already posted under the label "Tips". This one, however, is one I didn't know about at all.

In Windows Explorer or in general folders you can hold down the Shift Key when Application Key/Right Clicking to find two new options in the list of the context menu. Doing this tip in various areas of Vista will bring you a host of different choices. In the Start Menu you can do this to see options like "Run as Administrator" and "Add to Quick Launch". Another example can be found when you place your focus on a text file in Documents you will see that a new option called "Copy As Path" is available. Can't remember those long path names? Now you can just copy them into a file for later use. Another option that can come up if you place your focus on say a folder is "Open Command Window Here". You can imagine how useful this can be for Networking. Not to mention the reminder that some way some how DOS is always with us.

To hear this particular podcast where the tip came from hit the link below.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Updates All Around: Dolphin, Magic, mPower and Ai2

Santa is truly out doing himself this month. Just when I think I have seen my last install shield for the year... Oh what am I saying. I'll be doing the whole "Family Tech Support Guy" thing during most of my Holiday Break. Oh well it is nice to be loved I guess. Ha!

Dolphin 8.02: The new update for the Dolphin line of products has gone live this week. The updates includes better IE7 support and some Vista service changes. Find out more from the link below.

Magic 11.0: An update to the Public Beta has arrived and it sports a ton of new stability tweaks. Rumor on the street is if all goes well for the team the product should see release in the next month or sooner. hey! Just in time for ATIA 08.

Keysoft 7.5 B#28: Humanware has released a new build of 7.5 to correct an issue some mPower units were having with printing from the USB connection. Non mPower units need not download this update. Find the notes on the update at the link below.

Ai Squared: The gang in Vermont is really doing some neat stuff that is more community based in tone on their News section. I think its worth the read.

Also Dean's December 20th issue of Top Tech Tid Bits has a lot of good info this week that I don't usually cover here at TRS.

If you don't subscribe to his newsletter then go read his archives. And then go subscribe! I've said it before.. howe he can do this weekly is beyond me. I did the whole newsletter thing monthly for a while and quite frankly it drove me crazy. Access World has it right with an issue every 2 months. However I have been asked if I would reconsider my absence from the newsletter game. I won't say "never again" because that will just jinx me into doing it again. If you remember those posts and you think I should do it let me know in email or comments.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Web Stuff: Firefox 3 Beta 2 And IE8

Matt Campbell has reminded me that I haven't been keeping up with posting news about Mozilla's latest. He is, as usual, right on target. Here's a link to the Firefox pages touting the public release of Firefox 3 Beta 2.

IE 8: Ars Technica has a good look at what is coming in Internet Explorer 8. There is a short bit in there about W3C compliance and the battle in the EU with Opera too. And it looks like we will see a beta for IE8 in the first half of 2008.

Apple More Like Microsoft Than People Think

Those Mac ads sure are cute aren't they? Funny little jabs at Windows and all that right? Have you noticed that Mac says less than PC lately? There is a reason for that. It was found in marketing surveys performed by Apple that Mac was seen by most to be too smug. And PC was a sympathetic likeable character. It was also discovered that the atypical Apple boasting about being a more sturdy and stable platform was going to be something that would backfire one day. That day was October 29th.. the day OSX 10.5 was released. Below are some links to more proof that, try as you might, you end up being the very thing you fought against in the battle to defeat "da'man".

Think Secret: Here's another one of those stories where the blogger can actually become the news story on the topic they write about. If you remember Think Secret was more often right than wrong in their predictions of Apple's comings and goings. They nailed Macworld rumors so well that it drew the ire of Mr. Jobbs himself. Well a good law suit later and we see that Think Secret is no more. How 1990's MS Iron Curtain eh? Read the press release at the link below

Evil Empires: Don Reisinger over at CNET has a great opinion piece up on the "Next Evil Empire" that speaks plainly on why Apple may supplant Microsoft for this title in the next 10 years.

10.5.2 Coming: those Mac v. Vista ads are a whole lot funnier now then they were back in January. A rushed to market OS that needs lots of patches? Ah there is always a flip side to that coin. Here's a link that gives some ideas about what is coming in the next round of updates for OSX 10.5.

The Hack Saga Continues!: George Ou over at ZDNet has an article that will raise the fists of some and the eyebrows of others on who really just has issues with security in the Windows/Mac universe.

Still More Stock Option Woes: And if there was any true sign that your company has hit the level of Microsoft then it has to be the number of law suits, wanted and unwanted, that you may find yourself in at any given time. Looks like the Stock Options scandal won't go away so easily.

Windows XP Service Pack 3 RC1 Online To The Public

Santa seems to be awfully good this year with betas for just about everything. His good cheer continues with the 330 MB bundle of goodness from Microsoft. Windows XP SP3 RC1's stand alone installer can be had if you go to the link below.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Get In Line Now For Your PAC Mate Upgrade!

Finished your holiday gift list yet? No? Well Freedom Scientific has come to the rescue for you last minute shoppers by dropping info today on the PAC Mate Omni upgrades. Check out the link below while you fax, IM, Twitter or express snail mail your request to Santa at the North

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Some Brief Notes On Service Packs Released This Week

I have been answering a lot of questions off line about these new Service Packs and I thought I would put some of what I have seen so far in a post here on the blog. But before I do that.. let us set some ground rules.

These releases are not final builds. The AT software and hardware you are currently using is more than likely not officially supporting these Service Packs yet. So only download and run these updates if you feel confident that you can either fix the issues on your own or if you know that all your important data is backed up and secure. Another suggestion is that you don't try these updates out on your main computer. Most of the Beta Testers for AT software will tell you that it's best to use a secondary system with any new software before ever loading that new software onto a machine they know and love. And finally .. don't expect a ton of changes or improvements in performance. These particular updates are just maintenance releases. That is they contain a lot of fixes for issues that you would have gotten through Microsoft Update if, of course, you run and install the monthly updates on a regular basis. Oh sure there are some changes in these releases. You just won't be able to easily see them out in the open.

All the info below is based on my 19 month Dell XPS 400 running Windows Vista Ultimate or my box at work. That one being a 5 year old Dell Optiplex P4 under Windows XP. Both are running Office 2007 with my Vista box having 2 GB of RAM and my work box running under 1 GB of older and slower RAM circa 2002. I've got a brand new Gateway Vista Ultimate laptop running all this stuff too. The darn thing is brand spanking new and I don't remember the system's configuration at all. It has 2 GB of RAM at a respectable speed. Beyond that I draw a blank. I am also testing the new Zoom Text USB Drive, more on that later, along with System Access for all my installs this week.

Okay with all that said here's what I have observed.

Office 2007: The SP1 for Office is around 218 MB if you use a stand alone installer instead of Windows or Microsoft Update. The stand alone install has very few screens in it's install shield. The update took me 20 minutes to complete on the older Dell at work. The install process seemed to be Screen Reader friendly. The system may not prompt you to restart once you encounter the "finish" button.

This Service Pack was said to have some updates that would make running AT hardware and software a bit easier however, the only thing I notice is that objects and items tend to be tagged better for mouse users. Outlook 2007 especially has improved labeling on it's folder list and message panes. Tracking for Screen Magnifiers in many parts of Office 2007 is still hit or miss depending on the product you are using at the time. Typing at fast speeds with Screen Magnification does feel more familiar but if you were hoping for a reinvention of the wheel then I am sad to be the one to say that this won't change your overall opinion much. If at all. Opening large files looks to be quicker and autosaving features are more background oriented. Focus and speech may still be effected on older hardware however. And the rate of indexing, along with Windows Desktop Serch for Office users under Windows XP, on older systems is very notable if you are below 1 GB.

The good news isat face value this Service Pack doesn't seem to break anything or crash outright with most of the major AT venders. That isn't an endorsement to run right out on to the web and download it mind you. It is just a semi pro observation that it didn't set anything on fire for me. I still suggest, like I said above, that you wait for the "all clear" signal from your AT software and hardware venders before you take any Service Pack on head first. If we go by the previous track record of Office versus AT we generally see at least one patch on the horizon in the first 90 days after Microsoft drops a SP 1.

Vista: The stand alone installer is somewhere in the 450 MB range for 32 bit flavors of Vista. I had a little trouble getting SA to read the initial install screens, however, after the license agreement all went along without a hitch. The new Gateway laptops we are using off site did load the update a little slower than I would have liked which made speech a little slower than I would have liked as well.

So once you start the file you have to agree to run the update via a security dialog box. Then you have to choose "Allow" under UAC. The "I Accept" license agreement is next followed by a prompt/checkbox that will let you run the update unattended. Naturally, because I am inherently lazy, I chose this option. The system will then start the pre-install unpacking of the files. After this is completed the system will then begin Stage 1 of 3. On average the computer should run and reboot at least 2 times. You will lose speech after the first reboot. That's okay as you will know when you are done as the system will reboot into the desktop like normal once all 3 stages are complete. You should find a box on screen alerting you that the Service Pack installed successfully if all went well. All told you are looking at 1 hour or so from the initial launch of the installer to the final boot into your desktop.

The new Gateway laptop I have at work has not been with us for long. I didn't notice any major changes nor did I see any prompts for updating other services. My Dell at home, however, has been running this installation of Vista for 7 months. And it needed a little more attention. The first thing I noticed was that all my firewall settings in Windows Live OneCare were reset. I had to re-enable several Windows services like Media Player, Internet Explorer and a few programs that Microsoft is using for the reporting of bugs. After a few UAC prompts I thought the rain of "Allow" and "Continue" queries were over. How wrong I was. I have rebooted the system 3 times since I ran the update. And each time I get at least one new program asking for permission to come out from behind the firewall to play. Windows Mail, Windows Sidebar both called out to me but oddly enough the Juice podcast client didn't set off anything. Go fig?

The other odd bit of note is that the Service Pack will re-detect all your connected hardware. This makes sense as SP1 makes changes to the Vista kernel on some deep levels. My X Fi sound card dropped back to default 2.1 instead of my 5.1 setup. I wasn't able to change the configuration at first. A reboot later and I was able to put things back to rights. Also running Windows Update immediately installing SP1 showed me that a new NVIDIA driver was on line. The update showed that it was posted today. I had checked this before I installed SP1 and no update was present. So I am guessing that the driver may possibly be an update for RC1. NVIDIA did just release new beta drivers, version 169.21, for many of their cards today in case anyone is interested.

Now the good stuff. . There are some noticeable differences in speed on my Dell XPS 400. Alt Tabbing through various windows seems faster. Flip 3D seems a bit quicker. And launching programs also feels more responsive. Initial boot times though.. not so much. Now don't misread this remark. This aspect of Vista is to be expected. When you make major changes like this to Vista it usually takes the Reliability and Performance Monitors a few days to catch up. Vista stops loading drivers and services it doesn't need over time. SP1 resets the clock on this function, therefore, I have to rebuild the databases before my cold and warm boot times go back to pre SP1 or better levels. Speaking of reset. My Windows Experience levels had to be reset too. Sadly I am still a lowly 3.1 due to my slow 3D graphics video card. I have a 5.9 on memory though. Man its like the S.A.T.s all over again. Always a low and a high number. Never both the same.

From what I can tell the memory management of Vista has been changed. There was a famous glitch about memory and system slow downs when you would copy or move large batches of files in Vista back at the Operating System's launch window. It was addressed in a patch in June. Or so we were lead to believe. It looks like SP1 may have put this one to rest though. I moved 18 GB of files to and from my Seagate Free Agent 250 GB external hard drive to see if there would be the same issues mentioned above. I also played a media file, archived Windows Mail plus I opened IE7 with a few tabs. In the past the system would crawl even if I closed everything after i copied or moved my files. SP1 seems to not display this trouble from what I can tell. The real proof, however, will come when I leave Firefox up for hours and then try to move something. We will have to see how that goes. But it does feel like Vista is responding better to multiple tasks running in multiple windows.

These are just initial impressions of both Service Packs. I imagine that I might have more to say about them towards the end of the month. If you are experimenting with either one of the releases feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 RC1 Now Public

You may have seen this already bouncing around the interwebs thanks to a few nice people who leaked it outside of MSDN and Technet. Well now you can download it from the source rather than torrent that file. The link below takes you to the download page for the Vista SP1 RC1 files. Be aware that you might encounter a wierd flash like box when you go there. I did and it really played with my focus for a bit..

Update: The Super Site Blog has better links to stand alone installers for both 32 and 64 bit editions of Vista.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Office 2007 Service Pack 1 Now On Line

I took some flack off line from friends who didn't understand me when I said that I had work coming in droves. Playing with all the major products for Blindness on Vista SP1 RC 1, XP SP3 and Office 2007 SP1 takes a bit of time. Not to mention patience. But for all those who didn't think that the perfect storm of updates weren't on the way .. I give you the download link to Office 2007 SP1.

I'm asking Santa for a new office chair for the holidays.. because I'm going to be in it a lot until ATIA.

Update: The Service Pack is 218 MB. You may want to skip this one if you aren't already on broadband. Also if you are using Microsoft Update instead of Windows Update you will see this in the list of available options. For the record I had 11 updates on my main Vista box. Your mileage will vary.

Service Packs And Tools To Avoid Them

As I said a few days ago the Release Candidates for Windows XP and Vista are due to hit the public soon.. like today. The Super Site for Windows has updated their FAQs with new information you may wish to read before you decide to load these updates.

Windows Vista SP1 FAQ

Windows XP SP3 FAQ

Here's a link to this week's Windows Weekly from TWIT that goes over the Service Packs and more..

And here's a tool from Microsoft that will let you keep from loading the SPs until they go live later on in 2008.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Behind The Scenes: Working Through The Holidays Really Stinks

Before the Thanksgiving holiday began I thought how nice it was that I would have some down time two months in a row. After all JFW 9.0 was out, a couple of my other betas were ending soon and my requests for research at work were down to a trickle. Then the air went out of that balloon on December 1st.

One of my betas got extended, I got two new products in for review and to top it off Windows XP and Vista Service Packs Release Candidate 1 hit on MSDN. Then the best part... in a wild turn of events I will be leaving my apartment complex of three years to move to the one right next door. The management of my current complex has changed, for the third time in three years, with the new mantra being that they want market rent for our area. Moving isn't a big deal for me as I jumped ship from place to place all the time when I lived in Houston. A few job moves in the 90's had me always set for "transfer" status. So it was common for me to keep stuff in boxes rather than on proper shelves. Still doing it during holiday season wasn't high on my list of things to do this December. But having an excuse to eat more so we can clean out the fridge may play nicely into that typical "office party guilt/lose weight" annual New Year's Resolution we all make on January 2nd.

Believe it or not this mini rant does have a point. The last move for me was in 2004 when I came to Austin from Houston. At that time there wasn't a big Web 2.0 push. Most sites were static or link based for things like utilities and core services. However this time around things are so not the same. Flash, Java menus and those freaking awful PDFs are everywhere. The hidden pop up fun that comes from updating plug ins I rarely use can only be described by a long list of obscenities that I don't need to quote here. Although the list does grow longer every time Adobe forces me to restart my system. Who knew there were so many ways to say something vulgar about that company? What a pain.

Here's a "for instance". I am going to have to switch from Time Warner to, gulp, AT&T Home Services due to the contract my new complex is tied into at the moment. I had used them before in Houston back in 2002 and hated the experience. In fact my time with them, formerly named SBC Home Video/DSL before Ma Bell rose again, was the catalyst for leaving the traditional phone companies all together for cable and cell based alternatives. And now I find myself dreading the long and laborious conversations I am going to have to suffer through because some portions of the service site are down right awful to read with or without their accessibility issues being called into question. In some areas of these sites I can not fathom how one can navigate through them at all without sighted assistance. Moreover, I think I will find a way to hurt someone over the phone if I get told one more time "that information can be found on our website". Um.. No. If it was I wouldn't be sitting on hold for 20 minutes just so I could hear you say that. Ugh.

Oh and the best part...

Talking to customer service, how dare they call themselves that, about not wanting or needing some of their bundled software and hardware because I have my own thank you very much. What a deal. Third party software for my convenience. "Please accept this bloatware from Yahoo as it takes up resources on your system with our complements". Not to mention the fact that I have already helped so many other people at work with trouble shooting this stuff with Screen Readers that the last thing I want to do is do the same thing at home. Sigh..

Anyway this is a long and rambeling way of saying that the blog will see odd updates at wierd times until I can get things back in order here at the Station. While some enjoy the smell of holiday trees and their beautiful lights.. I will love the smell of cardboard and the blinking movements of progress bars on monitor screens as I setup my stuff in a new orbit. The new abode is bigger and having dedicated office space will be a plus. Which means that not all of this post is written from my general dark sense of whity sarcasm. "Change is good" so they say. And I generally agree with one exception. Getting the gift of a new and bigger place without having to learn a new bus route is a pretty sweet deal as well. And it certainly beats that one family member who gives you one of those "fruitcake of the month" thingies.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

November's Poll Results And December's Poll Added

When I came up with last month's poll I thought that we might have a close race. Boy was I ever wrong. Take a look at the final tally.

Poll Question: If Stuck On A Deserted Island With Only One Web Browser I Would Choose?

Internet Explorer 6 - 2 (6%)

Internet Explorer 7 - 7 (21%)

Any Version Of Firefox - 21 (65%)

Opera - 1 (3%)

Safari - 1 (3%)

So out of 32 people an large majority of you are Firefox fans. Hmm, now I have to look and see how this page looks on IE, FF and mobile browsers. Sigh.. and here I thought it was all WYSIWYG.

Well this month's poll continues our look at die hard fans of a particular platform.

Poll Of The Month: My Next System Will Sport Which Processor?

Intel Based System

AMD Based System

It will be one of those OLPC or other Linux styled boxes

"Other" like Transmeda and the like

Let's see where this takes us this month. And feel free to throw comments or poll question suggestions in the section below..

Friday, November 23, 2007

5 Video Magnifiers In 5 Days: Day 5 The Vertex

The last unit that we take a look at is one I have only seen at shows like CSUN. I am interested in seeing the production model but until then here is a pic and a link to another new unit in the desktop game.

Telesensory Vertex

Here's a link to the product page..

Thursday, November 22, 2007

5 Video Magnifiers In 5 Days: Day 4 The Strix

If you remember my CSUN coverage from earlier this year I swooned about this unit and it's ability to see across the room. I've been working with it for a few months now and it may not be right for some who don't want to cary a 7 inch display with them from place to place. However that distance viewing feature in an all in one device is something that is unique. So take a gander at the Strix.

The Strix

Image of the STRIX in the Stand for Far Viewing

Key Features

  • Auto-focus
  • Magnifies 4 to 22 times
  • 3 Viewing Modes:
    • Color
    • High Contrast (Black on white)
    • High Contrast Negative (White on black)
  • 7" TFT screen
  • Output for TV
  • Connection for computer/notebook
  • Freeze mode to capture images
  • Built in Writing Stand
  • Dimensions: 238 x 139 x 55 mm
  • Weight: 1 kg
  • Operational time on batteries: 2.5 up to 3.5 hours
  • Includes carrying case
  • One-Year Manufacturer's Warranty

To know more about the Strix see the link below.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Quick News: Pac Mate Update, Victor Reader Stream Update And USB Kurzweil K3000

Consider some of this news as me being fashionably late to several parties. As you can tell I am cleaning out my Inbox again during my vacation. And so I post some of this stuff a week.. or a month.. later than usual.

Pac Mate: Something that I think is always worth a mention is when a company releases an update to existing older products when the update or new version looms right around the corner. And dropping that update for free is a cool bonus to boot. Check out the newly posted PAC Mate updates for battery improvements at the link below.

Victor Reader Stream: not many people I know who have this little device have bad things to say about it when I corner them in dark alleys to take their units from them. Uh.. okay they usually say that they wished it supported Audible content right before I try and reach for the little box. So I use that point to try and buy the unit off of them for the cheap when my stealing tactic doesn't work. Well now it looks like it does support Audible in the latest update from Humanware. Drat! Foiled again..

K 3000 USB: I assume that this new version of the kurzweil K3000 Pen Edition is aimed squarely at the Education market. Of course you know what they say about "assuming" don't you? See the details at the link below to know more.

5 Video Magnifiers In 5 Days: Day 3 The I Stick

Please remember that this series of posts are designed only to let you know about Video Magnifiers that either have just come to market or who might not get the fanfare you might hear from a big marketing push. I urge everyone to always seek one of these units out and see it for yourself before you EVER! purchase these or any Video Magnifier. Think of them like shoes. Only you know what will fit you best.

Yesterday I mentioned how the smaller units have just exploed onto the scene. Today I throw the focus on another growing segment. The computer assisted Video Magnifier options seem to be changing all the time. One you may not know about, unless you are in Europe, is the I-Stick.

Optron I-Stick

OPTRON i-stick

Some Key Features include:

  • The i-Stick’s swivel arm folds for easy packing,
  • It sits at an angle for a large magnification area.
  • And can be straightened to a very high camera position for a better view of the blackboard and a 360 degree surround view.

Learn more from the product page..

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

5 Video Magnifiers In 5 Days: Day 2 The Looky

A long time ago there were maybe 2 or 3 hand held, or 3 to 5 inch screen models by industry speak, on the market. In less than half a decade the Hand Held market sports more than 9 choices off the top of my head. Today we throw the spotlight onto Rehan's Looky.

Rehan Technologies "The Looky"

This unit has a folding handle, removable batteries and a freeze frame feature. Other features include:

  • Can be used at home, at work, at school or out and about.
  • LCD Display size of 3.5 inches.
  • Magnification between 3 and 8 times.
  • Only 200 grams in weight.
  • Full Colour and contrast modes available: Black/white - White/black.
  • Folding handle.
  • Only 2 buttons, so it is very user-friendly.
  • Camera in the middle of the monitor; you see immediately what you want to examine.
  • A special freeze function.
  • Can be easily adjusted to a position which aids the user is writing.
  • Equipped with rechargeable batteries, which are also very easy to replace.
  • Also works with normal batteries.
  • A wonderful price.

Here's the product page for "The Looky".

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Boat Load Of Zoom Text News

Ai Squared has been very busy in the past couple of months with lots of announcements. Many of them I have known about for awhile but that old friend the NDA kept me from running on at the mouth about things. Then when it all went public I didn't post the news. So in an effort to catch up on both old and new announcements I plop this post down today. Oh and big shout out to all my peeps down in Vermont. The changes on the Ai2 news page are worth crowing about. See what I am talking about at this link.

Here is a cornucopia of news in one big post.


ZoomNews customer edition, September 2007

Table Of Contents

New ZoomText USB

ZoomText Survey and Prizes

User Story: Susan Reed

The Ai Squared Forum

In The News

ATIA 2008 Conference

ZoomText USB Coming Later This Month

ZoomText USB Drive Image

Computers have become increasingly ever-present in our lives, and so has our need to access and use them everywhere we go - at home, school, work, and even in libraries and other public facilities. This need for public computer access is no different for users of ZoomText. To make ZoomText readily available to individuals that need it, Ai Squared is introducing the new "ZoomText USB" - ZoomText delivered on a USB memory drive that users can conveniently carry with them, install, and use at any time.

ZoomText USB provides these important key benefits:

  • Access on any computer
    With ZoomText USB you can plug in and run ZoomText on any system without having to purchase additional licensing.
  • Portable and always within reach
    The ZoomText USB drive fits in your pocket or around your neck (on the included lanyard), so it’s always with you when you need it.
  • Easy to use
    Just plug in the ZoomText USB drive and ZoomText automatically starts up. If ZoomText is not installed, the friendly setup program is launched and you’ll be up and running in minutes. Note: Admin rights are required for first time installations.
  • Plug-and-Play license management
    Since the serial number is tied to the ZoomText USB drive, there are no serial numbers or license activations to worry about.
  • Take your settings with you
    Your personalized ZoomText configuration settings are saved to your USB drive and are automatically loaded each time you plug in and start ZoomText.

ZoomText USB is set to release later this month. Once we are officially set to release, we will be sending out another email which will explain ZoomText USB more in depth and include pricing information. Stay tuned!

ZoomNews Survey & Prizes

Picture of MoneyThe last survey was such a huge success thanks to YOU! We value your opinions and feedback highly and hope that you will find this second survey just as interesting.

In this issue, we are surveying about portable magnifiers. Everyone who completes the survey will be entered into a drawing to win one of two $50 VISA check cards AND as a bonus, you’ll receive an email containing a coupon for $50 off any order placed in the month of November that includes one of the portable magnifiers that we carry – the Nemo or the Max!

You have until November 21 to complete the survey so get started now and good luck in the drawing!

Launch Survey

Results of Previous Survey

Lynn Evans ImageThe September survey polled our users about their ZoomText settings. Almost 700 people completed the survey! If you are interested in the results, please visit the survey results (PDF FILE). The results are also broken down by eye condition here: Results by condition. You can see the results in graphical or in text form.

We'd like to congratulate both Bowen Dees and Lynn Evans for winning the September drawing. Each won a $50 gift certificate to

The picture to the side is Lynn hard at work at the computer, teaching in his computer lab. Fill out the survey above and maybe your picture will be the one to appear in the next issue!

Driving With Stargardt's


Almost 20 years ago, Susan Reed started to notice that her eyesight was deteriorating. Soon after that, she learned that her failing vision was due to Stargardt’s Disease, a hereditary macular (central retinal) degenerative disorder. Even though Susan is considered high functioning, she had to leave her job as a nurse because she couldn’t see well enough to perform her job properly. In the early 90s, she went back to college and pursued a degree in business.

Susan was left disheartened when she had to give up driving shortly after leaving her nursing job. She began seeing a low vision specialist in Baltimore who informed her that there was a law in the works which would permit certain low vision people to drive with the help of bioptic telescopic lenses.

With a renewed sense of hope, Susan applied to the program, earned a learner’s permit, was tested and passed the daytime driving test. In doing so, she became the first person in Maryland to get a license under this law! As long as she stayed violation free for a year, she could then take the nighttime driving test. This more intense test involved driving for 45 minutes on the Baltimore Beltway with 3 examiners in her car – to think I was nervous during my driver’s test! Susan passed with flying colors, but doesn’t like to drive at night and feels much more comfortable during the daytime. The law requires that she be retested every year and thus far, her eyesight has remained at a level that permits her to keep driving.

“I tend to view my eye condition as more of an inconvenience than an impairment,” says Susan. “It’s a stumbling block to work around, but I don’t let it stand in my way.”

She truly hasn’t let her condition get in her way – Susan worked for 7 years as an office manager for the fundraising company Joe Corbi’s Pizza Kits. In fact, this is where she was introduced to ZoomText and has been a user ever since. She motivated herself to relearn the computer skills that are vital in the business world, now that she could see the screen again.

“I choose to focus on things that I have control over,” states Susan. “Since vision loss is not something that you have power over, it’s important to take things in your own hands and turn your life around. ZoomText has let me do just that.”

While she was working as an office manager for Joe Corbi’s, Susan and her husband Steve set up their own construction business run out of their home. Her husband and son Greg did the construction work while Susan managed the office.

About three years ago, Susan changed jobs and started work at Lily Pons Water Garden in Adamstown, MD. Susan had always enjoyed water gardening as a hobby, so this job was perfect for her. She has 2 water gardens at her own home – a small 600 gallon pond and a much larger 1600 gallon pond – both with waterfalls.

She still kept up with all the bookkeeping at their construction company until last year when her duties as Sales Manager and Events Coordinator at Lily Pons began to take up most of her time. Lily Pons is an aquatic plant farm with a showroom stocked with everything you would need to put in a backyard water garden. Susan is in charge of a sales staff of 5 and is the go to person for technical questions about the mechanics involved in water gardening. She definitely keeps busy – what with planning weddings on the grounds and coordinating the annual British car show, among many other activities.

Currently, she is working on the new Lily Pons website which is set to go live very soon. Susan credits ZoomText and says that there is no way that she could do her job without it. While Susan uses ZoomText at 5x magnification every day at work, her normally sighted coworkers love to use it at 2x power. It relaxes their tired eyes, a result of working at the computer all day long. “At Lily Pons, I’m really in the public eye,” says Susan. “It’s a great opportunity for me to be an advocate for the visually impaired.”

Water gardening is a seasonal business and Lily Pons closes for the winter and reopens again in March. During the off time, Susan switches gears to basket weaving. In fact, after our phone interview, she was headed to her mom’s house in Pennsylvania where they both teach basket weaving classes together. Their work is often displayed at craft fairs as well. “I’ve always been an ‘artsy' person,” says Susan. “When my vision went, basket weaving was perfect for me because it’s big enough for me to see.”

In her spare time, Susan enjoys four wheeling and loves riding around on ATVs. In addition to their son, Greg, Susan and Steve also have 2 daughters, Jennifer and Meredith and two grandchildren, Ethan, 5, and Lexi, 2. Pictured above with Susan is Garnet, their Doberman that they recently rescued and they also have 3 cats! Life is certainly busy at the Reed household, and we are glad ZoomText has allowed Susan to work at a job that she enjoys so much. If you are interested in learning more about Lily Pons, please visit their website at

Ai Squared Forum

Rome Wasn't Built In A Day

Have you been to the Ai Squared forum lately? It’s been around for a while – of course, not quite as long as the Roman Forum pictured over there – it’s been up on our website since 2004. Maybe you visit it often or perhaps you have no idea what I’m talking about.

The forum is an online meeting place for ZoomText (and BigShot) users. It allows you to interact with Ai Squared employees and your peers in order to share knowledge and news about Ai Squared products. When you post questions or comments about our products, you’ll receive feedback directly from us. Additionally, you can contact your fellow users through instant messaging and email.

You can read all the topics posted without registering, but as soon as you’re registered, you can post new topics and join in the many ongoing discussions. There are a variety of different topics of conversation including Technical Issues, ZoomText with Other Programs, ZoomText and Vista, Legacy Products, and the Large Print Keyboard, among others. The forum is a great place to talk about ZoomText issues and features, and a place to get help.

You can explore the forum at Registering only takes a few minutes and it will give you access to the additional features not available to guest users such as private messaging, emailing to fellow users, Usergroup subscription, and more. If you’re already a registered user and haven’t visited the forum in a while, take a look at all the ongoing discussions and join right in.

Whether you’re the one with the questions or the answers, check out the Ai Squared forum today!

New announcement imageIn The News

In every issue of ZoomNews, we will present a few links to articles that we’ve come across that would be of interest to our users. Check them out:

Cooking Without Looking – a television show that teaches people about low vision cooking.

Smart TV Remote For Visually Impaired - An Australian inventor has come up with a new universal TV remote control designed for those with declining eyesight or disabilities.

New $5 Bill – Scroll down the page to see the low-vision feature of the new bill.

Different Visions at Space Camp – 115 kids with vision impairments spend a week in space-camp training.

It’s Better in the Dark – Read a review of the restaurant O.Noir located in Canada where all the wait staff is visually impaired and eaters dine in the dark.

ATIA 2008 Conference

Don’t miss the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) 2008 Conference, January 30th through February 2nd, 2008 in Orlando, Florida – the premier educational and networking event in assistive technology.

The ATIA 2008 Conference features the latest products and services, showcasing more than 125 exhibitors, in one of the most comprehensive exhibitions in the industry. If you attend this event, you’ll have the chance to learn about products available to help those with low vision, hearing loss, and learning disabilities among others.

While this is a professional industry show, it is open to consumers who are interested in exploring innovative assistive technology products and participating in hands-on workshops. Attendees span a wide array of professions including business, government, education and consumer market professionals from across the globe.

If you are in the area, the exhibit hall is open to the public with free admission from 2pm to 5pm on Friday, February 1st and again from 9am to 12pm. on Saturday, February 2nd. If you are interested in attending the entire show, please visit for more information on the ATIA 2008 Conference and for registration information. Register by November 26th and save!

Stop by Ai Squared’s booth #1012 to see our new and soon to be released products: ZoomText Lite, ZoomText USB and ZoomText Scripting Edition.

Ai Squared company logo

Ai Squared
P.O. Box 669
Manchester Center, VT 05255
Tel: (802) 362-3612
Fax: (802) 362-1670

© Copyright 2007, Ai Squared, All Rights Reserved.
Ai Squared and ZoomText are registered trademarks or trademarks of Algorithmic Implementations, Inc.


ZoomNews customer edition, September 2007

Ai Squared has teamed with EVAS to create the NEW ZoomText Workstations!

Ai Squared Partners with EVAS and Dell to offer ZoomText WorkstationWe are excited to announce a new product line of ZoomText Workstations, created by EVAS, for home, work or school. Ai Squared has teamed with EVAS to offer a complete plug & play low vision workstation solution for the visually impaired.
Each Workstation is ready to use and comes fully integrated with ZoomText, application software, and peripherals installed and configured!

EVAS ZoomText Workstations: Quality, Performance, Prompt Delivery, Outstanding Value, all in a total solution that runs right out of the box.

ZoomText Workstations are sold and supported by EVAS

Serving people with disabilities since 1979.

Standard ZoomText Workstation

ZoomText Workstation with one Monitor

Click Here for more details.

Click Here to Purchase a Standard Workstation.

  • Dell Optiplex PC
  • 19" Flat Panel Monitor
  • ZoomText Magnifier/Reader 9.1
  • ZoomText Large-Print Keyboard
  • Microsoft® Office 2007 Basic
  • EVAS Classic Menu for Office
  • All-In-One Printer
  • 3 Year Warranty
  • AVG Anti-Malware

Dual-Monitor ZoomText Workstation

ZoomText Workstation with Dual Monitors

Click Here for more details.


Click Here to Purchase a Dual Monitor Workstation.

  • Includes all above features with 2 - 19" Flat Panel Monitors

Box shot of ZoomText Magnifier/Reader

Every ZoomText Workstation is pre-installed with ZoomText 9.1, and features Dual-Monitor Support.

Ordering Information
* Offer Valid Until December 24th, 2007

EVAS company logo

Phone: 1-800-USA-EVAS 800-872-3827

  • Click Here to Ask Questions about the ZoomText Workstations.

Ai Squared company logo

Ai Squared
P.O. Box 669
Manchester Center, VT 05255
Tel: (802) 362-3612
Fax: (802) 362-1670

Blue Banner

© Copyright 2007, Ai Squared, All Rights Reserved.
Ai Squared and ZoomText are registered trademarks or trademarks of Algorithmic Implementations, Inc.


ZoomText Scripting Edition Beta available

With great excitement, Ai Squared has recently started work on the newest edition to the ZoomText product family - ZoomText Scripting Edition, scheduled for release by early next year. ZoomText Scripting Edition will make it possible to customize the behavior of ZoomText as well as other applications, providing for enhanced functionality and automation of complex and routine tasks. With the power of ZoomText Scripting Edition, users will realize greater productivity and success, especially in workplace environments.

We have just reached code complete and need feedback from experienced scripting professionals. If you have scripting experience and are interested in testing the ZoomText Scripting Edition, go to to learn more about the project and how you can participate.

On the ZoomText Scripting website, you’ll be able to interact directly with our development team to guide us in our efforts to make this project the most beneficial to you. Visit now. We look forward to working with you!

5 Video Magnifiers In 5 Days: Day 1 The Acrobat LCD

Just in time for the holidays your fave companies are releasing new or refreshed versions of their main product lines. Today we look at the Acrobat LCD

Acrobat LCD by Enhanced Vision

Acrobat LCD User

Key features as taken from the EVS web site:

  • 3 in 1 camera technology with memory for favorite settings
  • Arm slides to the right and pivots to the front for a full inline position offering an optimal viewing experience
  • Dual keypad for easy to access controls
  • Detachable camera rotates 340 degrees
  • 5ms high resolution 19" LCD monitor
  • Auto focus
  • Seven (7) viewing modes
  • Up to 65x adjustable digital magnification
  • Rolling carrying case for easy transport (sold separately)
  • Set-up is easy - just plug and play
  • Computer toggle capability
  • 2 year warranty
  • Line markers, object locator, remote control and more.....

To see more go to the product page at:

And to read more take a look at the press release at:

JAWS 9.0 Released And Now Shipping

I kind of figured that the release was on it's way with Eric and others out on JAWS 07 World Tour this month. And it looks like you can pick up your copy of JFW along with your concert T Shirts. Just remember not to burn your fingers with your lighters durning the slow songs. [Rock N Roll joke implied here!]

Friday, November 16, 2007

Quick News: November Access World, ClassMate Reader and Open Book

I am getting ready to take a few days off from my day job. So less preamble and straight to the links today.

Access World: November’s issue of Access World just went on line. Check it out at the link below.

ClassMate Reader: A new press release is up from Humanware on their Video Magnifier/w more unit that is being targeted for the Education market. See the link below for more info.

Open Book 8.0: I know a lot of other places have already posted this link but I can never stop my fears of peer pressure. It is a high school thing I never really got over. It really explains why I feel so comfortable in Polo shirts I guess. Oh yeah. Open Book 8 ships in December. Here’s the link.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Follow Up: Firefox 3.0

I should have mentioned what Matt Campbell mentions in the comments of the earlier post on Firefox. He is right of course that this isn't an "official" release. Just a post of the nightly builds that Mozilla does on an regular basis.

Quote From Matt

Matt Campbell said...

The Digg post to which you link is premature and misleading. It doesn't point to an official beta; there is none on the FTP site. Instead, it points to the directory containing Firefox nightly builds. I would ignore any announcements of a Firefox beta unless they come directly from the Mozilla Corporation.

Thank you sir!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Firefox 3.0 Beta 1 Released

If you are following the poll for this month on the right side of the page you will see that there are some Firefox fans on the world wide webs. No doubt these fans will now have some divided opinions on some of the new looks and directions of FF3. To nab the beta and read what some at Digg are saying about it hit the link below.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

October's Poll Results And New November Poll Posted

Here are the results of October 2007's poll.

Poll Question: If you were to buy a new computer between now and this time next year you would choose which Operating System??

Windows XP for as long as I can get it 11 votes (28%)

Windows Vista Basic/Home Premium/Business/Ultimate 15 votes (38%)

Some version of Linux 4 votes (10%)

Windows Server Family of products 0 votes (0%)

I'm buying a Mac with OSX 10.5 Leopard 9 votes (23%)

There is a lot that could be read into those results. On one hand some could say that Vista isn't scaring away people. But on the other hand 11 people voted that XP is the way to go. And then there are the 9 who voted for Mac but will probably end up running a version of Windows on said Mac making the choice to go Mac even more confusing. Unless you go with the well worn concept that itunes and ipods are spinning off into secondary hardware sales for Apple. Like I said many interesting results.

The one number, that being 0, is not surprising. In all my latest discussions with the big wigs from most of the big named AT Venders Server and x64 support is on the eventual roadmaps for many of their upcoming projects. In other words.. not very soon will we see that support come right out of the box for most products on the market today. And this is purely understood as a market demand issue. When more of us general users become savvy enough to hang in those markets the AT industry will move their development from the older folks and Education markets to more competitive IT driven designs.

Now before you stop reading and skip right down to the comments section to tell me that these users already exist know that I totally agree with you. I'm just passing along what I know so far. If you want a particular feature you have to ask for it in kind, politely worded requests at Convention or in snail mail. Emails just don't cut it gang. Too easy to delete and all that. Remember that these companies are trying to make things work with a lot of platforms they have never had to deal with before. Multiple versions of operating systems, three zillion unique combinations of video and audio. . tons of web browsers. Ah! And here comes our next poll question.

Poll Question For November: If Stuck On A Deserted Island With Only One Web Browser I Would Choose?

Internet Explorer 6
Internet Explorer 7
Any Version Of Firefox

This one should prove to be as interesting if not more so than the last poll. For everything there is a "Fanboy". And so far in the last few polls we have not seen a decisive winner. I wonder if this one will break the trend..

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Magic Public Beta Updated

Like it's big brother JAWS the Screen Magnifier Magic has seen a few updates of it's own during the public beta cycle. The latest update came out yesterday around.. midnight. Boo! No it didn't but I didn't make a Halloween joke. So I am a day late and a Hershey bar short I guess. Learn more and get the latest public beta version of Magic at the link below.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Serotek Announces Two New Options To Obtain Your System Access


Serotek Corporation, the Accessibility Anywhere people, is proud to announce two exciting new options to extend accessibility to everyone. Serotek now makes its complete product offering available to people on a budget with two Software As a Service (SAS) options. For those who feel uncomfortable making any commitment, the entire Serotek offering including System Access Mobile with Neospeech and the System Access Mobile Network is available for the low, low price of $39.95 a month with no obligation. You can discontinue usage at any time and owe no cancellation fee. For those willing to commit to a forty-eight month relationship the price is just $24.95 per month. After forty-eight months you will have a paid up license to System Access Mobile with Neospeech. On-going use of the System Access Mobile Network (SAM Net) and continuing software updates will cost just $129.95 a year, guaranteed beginning in year 5 and beyond.

If you or someone you know has been caught in the dilemma of not being able to afford the accessibility tools you need and want because government agencies will only fund screen readers that are too complex and require too large an investment of your time to achieve minimal proficiency, this offer is for you. System Access Mobile is more than a screen reader, providing all the standard accessibility functions including access to the major Microsoft Office productivity tools including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook and Outlook Express, and many other popular applications like Adobe Reader, Internet Explorer, Skype, Windows Media Player and much, much more. And, with System Access Mobile you get Neospeech, delivering naturally sounding voices. In addition, System Access Mobile, in conjunction with the System Access Mobile Network delivers connectibility as you’ve never experienced it before. Access your home computer from work or on the road; exchange files; interact on-screen with friends and colleagues. System Access Mobile takes social networking to a whole new level.

Best of all, System Access Mobile is easy to use. In minutes you’ll be up and running, browsing the Internet, sending and receiving e-mail, and accessing your favorite productivity tools. Additional training is available for those who want to really put the software through its paces.

You also get full access to the System Access Mobile Network (SAM NET), the world’s most complete compilation of accessible sites for news, entertainment, shopping, information, and social networking. With SAM NET you can launch your own Web site, create and participate in Blogs, customize your news and entertainment. SAM NET puts you right in the center of the digital lifestyle, helping you enjoy the independence and productivity you crave. On SAM NET you’ll find a community of like-minded individuals who are taking control of their lives.

So if you’ve been hesitating because of the cost, now is the time to act. You can enjoy the digital lifestyle for less than a dollar a day ($.82/day actually). You’ll save that and more just by using an Internet telephone service like Skype, which is fully accessible to Serotek SAS subscribers. Why not give yourself (or someone you know) the digital lifestyle for the holidays. It will be the most liberating gift you’ve ever received.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Open Book 8.0 Is Coming.. Soon!

The long awaited update to Open Book will be hitting the streets soon with new features and some other functionality I can't talk about yet. However rather than I just tease you about things I have seen from the near future I give you the newly posted preview page from Freedom Scientific. Oh and expect more info in an upcoming FS cast as well.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Press Release: Dolphin Celebrates Win At CSUN With New Promotion


Lunar from Dolphin named the World’s Best Screen Magnifier at the CSUN conference - Celebrate with this incredible Promotion
Over 10 million Americans are blind or visually impaired and every seven minutes a new individual in America will become classed as blind or visually impaired. However, only 1.5 million of these 10 million individuals can actually use computers!
Increasing the individual’s independence and mobility combined with finding a solution to the difficulties and barriers that are encountered as a result of blindness and visual impairments is the philosophy of Dolphin Computer Access and its award winning software solutions.
In the battle of the screen magnifiers at the 22nd Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference (CSUN) in Los Angeles, Simon Lakin & Steve Plumpton two accessibility experts from the RNIB in the UK chose Lunar as the clear winner over six other screen magnifiers. To celebrate, Dolphin Computer Access is delighted to announce an incredible promotion aimed specifically at increasing the number of visually impaired PC literate users within the US and Canada.

Purchase a Dolphin Pen edition of the award winning software Lunar or LunarPlus today and receive a free complementary CD license edition, saving an incredible $235 on Lunar & $355 on LunarPlus!

What is Lunar?
Straining to see what’s on your computer screen? Lunar screen magnifier from Dolphin Computer Access can help you work for hours longer without getting tired eyes.

With just a click on Lunar’s innovative control panel or a push of a hot key you can instantly magnify everything on your screen, so whether you are typing a document or simply reading an email the days of having to strain your eyes are long gone.

Lunar can also greatly reduce glare too, thanks to its built-in color changer. Whether it’s inversing the desktop colors to give you white text on a black background or choosing from over 20 different color schemes, you are sure to find the one that’s right for your eyes.
Why did the judges love Lunar?

Below are just a few of the reasons why Lunar easily came out on top:
• Line view mode, ideal for relaxed reading or those with peripheral vision.
• Responsive, stable and reliable.
• Magnification at login. No need to manually load Lunar’s magnification software, just sit back and relax as it automatically loads.
• Fractional Magnification, more fractional magnification levels than any other magnifier in the market.

What is the Dolphin Pen?
Take Lunar or LunarPlus with you wherever you go without needing to install it ever again, simply plug it in and Lunar will automatically load directly from the pen drive. All thanks to Dolphin’s software being pre-installed within the new 1GB robust swivel cap design USB powered Dolphin Pen drive. It truly is the perfect assistive software solution for any low vision person who regularly uses different computers. In addition Version 8.01 of Lunar and LunarPlus work seamlessly in conjunction with all of Microsoft’s 32bit flavors of Windows Vista.

What are the advantages of a Dolphin Pen?
Increase your mobility and independence by taking your preferred screen magnification software and personal settings with you wherever you go. With the Lunar Dolphin Pen you can hot swap desks or buildings without the inconvenience of having to re-install Lunar and avoid the frustrations of inaccessible technology.
What’s the benefit of a FREE CD license edition?
If you ever forget to take your Dolphin Pen home, don’t worry you can still access the internet, email friends or maybe occasionally continue with your work as Lunar or LunarPlus could already be permanently installed on your home PC thanks to the free CD license edition.

What’s the difference between Lunar and LunarPlus?
LunarPlus includes all of the unique magnification features found within Lunar, combined with the added bonus of speech. Whilst LunarPlus is not a full screen reader, it does include the popular Eloquence and RealSpeak voices, making it ideal for those long passages of text.
LunarPlus has been specifically designed to give the user that little bit of extra help when their eyesight starts to flag towards the end of a busy day.

Notes for Editors:
1. ABOUT DOLPHIN COMPUTER ACCESS GROUP – Dolphin is one of the largest companies in the computer access industry with over 60 employees in the USA, UK and Sweden and dealers in over 30 countries worldwide. The company offers a complete range of software solutions, including screen readers, screen magnifiers, text scanners and readers, Braille translators, educational software to help with reading and writing, speech synthesisers, DAISY talking book software and mobile solutions for Windows Mobile enabled Smartphone’s. Dolphin also has the only complete solution which includes speech, magnification and Braille in a single product. Dolphin packages are developed to operate seamlessly in many different environments including education and business networks, stand-alone PCs and laptops. Dolphin is the world leader in the development of DAISY software players and content creation tool, including EasyProducer, EasyReader, Dolphin Publisher and EasyConverter. Dolphin software supports over 20 languages as standard and comes complete with Dolphin’s own synthesiser. More information about Dolphin and its products is available at .
2. Press Contacts:
Archana Bharathan, Dolphin Computer Access
231 Clarksville Road, Suite 3, Princeton Junction NJ 08550, USA Tel: (866) 797-5921
Neil Woodcock, Dolphin Computer Access
Technology House, Blackpole Estate West, Worcester, WR3 8TJ, UK Tel: +44 (0)1905 754 577
3. Statistics used in this release are available from the AFB website at .

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Apple: Classic, Older Macs, Hacks And Vista Vs Leopard

Eek! This is the most info I have ever posted in one month. Eek! This is the first time I have ever dedicated two whole posts to Apple. What's next? Dogs and cats living together .. mass hysteria?

Bye Bye Classic: If you were thinking about upgrading to Leopard and you are an older G4 866 MHz or lower well.. Welcome to Vista envy! Older applications below 10.0 are also out of luck as they can not be upconverted to Leopard. Yeah Steve. Tell me again how OSX is not like Vista.

Faster, Faster Leopard, Kill, Kill: Just how fast will your experience be if you do upgrade to 10.5? Take a look at some early field tests in the link below.

Put A Leopard On Your PC Drive: What happens when your fave company who lived by the slogan "think different" becomes mainstream? Well for some people out there they woke up to a very chilly morning in some very hot places. Hackers have moved their attention from unlocking the iphone back to hacking OSX on a Windows based PC. Being popular has it's disadvantages I guess. Sure this has been done before but I don't think it was done this well this fast. See how to load the hacked copies below.

Vista Vs Leopard: The title of this Engadget article is self explanatory except for one point. . Vista has sold over 88 million licenses and I don't think the copy-cat will do that any time soon.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The JAWS 9.0 Public Betas Keep On Coming..

One of the things I learned from all my time in working with AT Venders on private beta testing is that the info we testers submit is limited to the equipment we testers have at hand. When you go public then, and only then, do the training wheels come off and you find out that this code doesn't work with some piece of equipment from 2001 or what not. My hat is off to the gang at FS for responding and reposting to the public beta so much this go around. I hope the info they are getting continues to be valid!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Quick News: IE8, Vista DRM, Real Player, Web Fonts And Why The 21st Century Makes You Miserable

Today I start off with a theme "all about the web" then I tear that asunder with a purely non web humor story at the bottom of the post. In my days of being an aspiring radio personality they called that last story a "kicker" to end your newscast on a high note. When I start writing posts like the copy I had to create for morning radio I totally understand if you delete me from your RSS readers.

IE8: The Windows Super Site now has a blog and it gives us some idea of what changes come in the UI for the program in it's next whole number version update.

Vista DRM: Another blog from Ed Bott at ZDnet has a really long but really neat series debunking the rumors about some of Vista's high def DRM functions affecting some of Vista's overall speed and quality. Well sort of.. check out the blog and then check out the next episode of TWIT's Windows Weekly as Ed is set to be on to discuss his 3 part series of articles on the subject.

Real Player: In many of the recent training sessions at work that I have conducted or assisted with in the last six months I have railed on about the fact that viruses are not unique to email and MS Word. Now a days the bad stuff can be found in MP3s, PDFs or even audio and video streams. After all everything on the computer is just 1s and 0s. And malware, spyware and virsuses are ... 1s and 0s. Back on topic, someone did a Day Zero attack on Real Player.

Web Fonts In Vista: I thought this was an interesting Slashdot article that points out Vista's updated Web Fonts and how this carried over to Vista's new look.

7 Reasons Why The 21st Century Makes You Miserable: Remember MAD Magazine before it became MADTV on FOX? Now do you remember it's big competitor CRACKED? It is okay if you don't because it doesn't effect the funny article below about technology woes. I just haven't thought about CRACKED in years nor did I even think for one second it was around and on the web.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Apple: Leopard Security, Leopard Impressions And Leopard Universal Access

This post goes out to an offline friend named Chris. He is one of the few Apple fans out there that isn’t a full on zealot to the “Cult of Apple”. Yes Virginia there are normals out there. So I’ll throw him a bone and post some interesting Leopard news.

Security in Leopard: Ars Technica takes a closer look at the new security features found in OSX 10.5.

Leopard Impressions: This article from Mac Rumors has been sitting on the Digg Top 10 long enough for me to read it.. so you know it is a slow day for me then.

17 Universal Access Features And More: Neat blog on AT for the Mac. And this article outlines other features in the recent Apple announcement that would also aid those of us who use Magnifier or Voiceover.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Quick Bits: Code Factory, JAWS, Humanware and OSX Leopard

So what happens when I make a sarcastic statement about the volume of available news? More news comes a rollin' on through of course.

Code Factory Mobile Magnifier Beta: The Desert Skies has posted two Code Factory press releases. The first about Mobile Magnifier for Smartphones. To me magnifying those incredibly small screens versus quickly hearing info with speech has me saying "Speech" every time, however, to each his or her own I guess.

Mobile Speak Public Beta 2.0: Since we are talking about speech the second press release covers the new public beta phase for Moble Speak. I am really excited by their new licensing method and I think I may finally break down and get a real phone.

JFW 9: No one can say that Freedom Scientific isn't listening to feedback as they posted another update to the on going JAWS 9.0 public beta.

Classmate Reader: Humanware has announced a new device that will aid the Education market with reading and language comprehension skills. The link below takes you to the press release.

Keysoft 7.5 Build 20: I guess I have been under a rock. I'm a little late on posting this but Build 20 is up and the link is below.

Leopard System Requirements: Apple has recently said that 10.5 will drop on 10/26. If you aren't running an older G4 at 866 MHz or lower.. rejoice. If you are running an older G4.. You will be taking a trip to the Apple Store for hardware rather than software. See more of the requirements and an overview of some of the features at the link below.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Random "Microsoft" Goodness

More than 10 posts in a month. Wow, I either found a bunch of news or I found a little more time to post content. Hmm.. I am sure its not the latter. Oh well here is some random news that just so happens to be centered around Microsoft and it's many products. Minus the Zune 2, HALO 3 and Windows Home Server stuff. Ooo.. I may have another post in me this week yet!

OOXML: A month or so ago the Open XML standard was up for adoption in Europe. To say that there was some controversy around the voters and the voting process would be a very large understatement. It seems that the same endgame happens anytime money is involved with standards, format adoption and [here comes the nasty comments about me] Open Source initiatives. Check out the story below.

Office 2007 Online Converts: No its not what you think. Mary Jo Foley's Microsoft Watch is a good blog that is worth a read on some of the inside moves with the company. In a recent post she gives some NPD numbers on retail sales of Office 2007 and how people buying it through Microsoft via the method of converting their trials is somewhat affecting retail sales. Looks like Office 2007 is a hit and everyone wants a piece of the pie. Even Mac owners are buying Office in droves and they don't even get the Ribbon until next year. See the article link below.

Vista Out Of Memory .. Again: Remember those posts from May, June and maybe even July about Vista and it's hotfixes on moving files? As usual in life you fix one thing and one other thing breaks. ZDNet is saying that memory gets eaten fast when moving files. C'mon SP1..

SP1 Spoofing: Speaking of SP1 for Vista.. Did you know that if you are really crazy and really desperate you could actually fool Windows Update into giving it to you.. right this second? Ars Technica links to another site that tells you in detail on how to do just that, however, just reading the Ars description gives me a headache. So those who live in their registries go forth and conquer.

Whew! All this posting. It has been soo long since I went mad with info. Shout out to one individual at a particular company who always reminds me when we talk that I don't post enough on my blog. Now the conversations will switch to what I *AM* posting right? I tell ya there is no pleasing the internet.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Talking Microwave On Clearance At Wal Mart?

I picked up the silver version of the Hamilton Beach Talking Microwave last week for $40. I found it in the Clearance Rows at my local Super WalMart. I asked the management if this was just a move to clear inventory or if there was a new model on the way to replace the sku. Take this as plain rumor but I heard that there is a new model on the way. So if you were looking to pick up this awesome microwave head out to your nearest big box retailer as it may be on the cheap right now.

Here is the print version of the manual by the way.

Find a few other manuals from the same site here.

NewsGator and Bloglines Join APML Workgroup

I know a lot of people who use Bloglines. Take a look at some of the support that is coming to the service in the link below.

Humanware Offers A Keysoft 7.5 Presentation

Here's the press release


Please join us for an interactive on-line presentation highlighting the
new KeySoft version 7.5 for the BrailleNote family of products.
This interactive on-line presentation will take place on Tuesday,
October16 at 3:00 PM Pacific / 6:00 PM Eastern time in the HumanWare on-line
meeting room.

To participate in the event, visit the following link:
After downloading the small conference software, simply enter your name
to enter the room. No password is required, so you can leave it blank
when entering the meeting room.

We will be available to answer your questions regarding KeySoft. So
please join us to hear all about the new features of KeySoft 7.5 that
will best benefit you!
During this presentation we will discuss the new visual display
software, "KeyView," the expanded support for SD cards and USB memory
drives, and the implementation of the Unified English Braille Code
(UEB). We will demonstrate the new audio file queuing capability within
the media player.

The BrailleNote and VoiceNote have gone multilingual with the
integration of foreign languages in to KeySoft. We will demonstrate the
ease of switching between languages and Braille codes on the fly. Many
internet service providers are moving to SSL encryption for user email
accounts as an added security measure, a step by step account setup
process will be shown.

If you are unable to attend, this presentation as well as other previous
presentations will be archived at Follow the link for
Products then Presentations.

175 Mason Circle
Concord CA 94520

Monday, October 15, 2007

Windows XP: Vista Features In SP3, SP3 FAQ and Easter Eggs

You have your Vista in my XP. No.. You have your XP in my Vista!: Looks like a few more Vista features are being back ported to XP. This isn't anything new as some of XP SP2, IE7 and Media Player 11 were all stuff that at one time was said to be "Vista Only". Check out the link to learn more..

XP SP3 FAQ: Paul at the Super Site for Windows has updated his FAQ on XP Service Pack 3. You may want to bookmark this one for updates as we get closer and closer to it's full release.

XP Easter Eggs: These are mostly visual in nature, however, I thought they were kind of cool to know about none the less.