Friday, March 23, 2007

Notes From CSUN 07 1

It’s day 4 for me here in LA and I think I am finally easing up on the jet lag. Of course I fly out Saturday. So no rest, ironically, for the wicked.. I hope I can even string sentences together at work Monday.

Anyway.. let’s get to some of the things I saw and heard on the florr at CSUN 2007.

Ai Squared:
Scott Moore did two presentations yesterday. Both were kind of lackluster, however, they were informative. Zoom Text 9.1 has new Dual Monitor support. This feature is fantastic , however, it’s not easy to describe. To that end Ai Squared is looking to have a possible flash, WMV would be so much better, video on line to explain some of the benefits of running ZT on two monitors. Basicly you can run two monitors side by side giving 2 or 3x users a larger display to see at one time. Or you can have a 1x view and a 5x view, or what ever size desired, on the other monitor. This rules for those of us who have to do Power Point presentations to non visually impaired peers.
It should be noted that 9.1 will ship with a note about Office 2007. Ai Squared has detected an issue and Microsoft will be adding a hotfix to correct this known problem in the future. But for now some tracking issues may occur in Office 2007 and 9.1. I’ve been using 9.1 and 07 for a while now and I really don’t notice this too much. But it’s nice to know that MS is still listening to AT Venders from the point beyond the beta sessions.
9.1 is said to possibly be shipping in two weeks barring any unforeseen issues. It’s considered a minor update and it is priced lower than the prices it took to upgrade yourself from 8.1 to 9.0.
Also.. Zoom Text 10 was mentioned. No feature set, no price or anything like that. Just a mention..

Freedom Scientific:
The new Topazs, Topazi?, are on the show floor. These new refreshed systems sport white LED lights. And man do they make a visual difference. The newer units also have more color options and come in a 21 inch monitor to boot. While the Smartview Xtend also comes in a 21 inch flavor it’s seen as more of a custome order rather than a standarde option as found with Topaz.
Naturally Eric did a presentation on JFW and Vista. It’s a common theme among venders this year and you can’t swing a service dog by it’s tail without hitting a vender, a session or a person just mentioning Vista. Eric showed off JAWS performance in Vista and he mentioned that a new build should be on the main page this week. Possibly Tuesday.
There is a new version of the SARA on the floor and I heard it was to ship in June. More on that later.
Nothing new for the Pac Mate. I guess I am still under embargo on that for a while longer. But let me just say that Pac Mate does have some neat updates coming. Mabye by summer conventions?
Magic 10.5 is of course up and out on the web. This is a “no brainer” update if you are using Magic now. And it’s also a good partner for JAWS 8.0 if you are a user of both Screen Reader and Screen magnifier programs. There is now a Professional Scripting Edition out and I hope to have more on that later.
Both JFW 9 and Magic 11 are in the works. 9 should arrive by October and 11 may arrive in the summer.

The company showed off a few new Braille Displays. The Easy Braille is one of many units that are USB powered on this year’s show floor. It’s hard to describe but there is kind of a concave feel to the display. Your hands can rest in a curved or more natural stance and this is cool once you get used to it over time. Handy also has a new display that senses the weight of your fingers and adjusts it’s firmness accordingly. I have some documentation on this and after I read it I might be able to describe it better in another report.

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