Saturday, September 29, 2007

Freedom Scientific Begins Talking Up JAWS 9

The main page has a link that teases an upcoming public beta for the next version of JFW. But there is more than just this page with text on it talking about version 9. The latest FScast also features talk on what to expect in the next release. To get to the FScast page hit the first link below. The second link will take you to the release notes page for the upcoming beta page.

FSCast Page

Release Notes Page

Friday, September 28, 2007

Windows XP.. Not Dead Yet!

Looks like there is life in the old girl just yet. This sets up a bit of a pickle for some because I am sure that in the US computer makers will end up selling what XP systems they have left at *low and affordable* prices [cough cough]. Read the article below to see that this wasn't a call from the masses for XP as much as it was a call from OEMs to move older hardware. If you don't want to red the link then know that XP lives until June 30th 2008.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Windows Update Eats Windows XP REpair

Two friends of mine seem to be hit by a Windows Genuine Advantage issue that blocks them from getting Windows Update files. While researching that issue I found this article that describes an even nastier situation on a recent Windows Update that eats Windows XP Repair functions. Check it out at the link below..

Friday, September 21, 2007

Office 2003 Service Pack 3 Released

Hey for once I get to write about Office without mentioning the Ribbon interface. Well almost not mentioning it .. Anyway the new SR3 is 117 MB of security patches, fixes and other rollups for the Office 2003 family of products. Learn more and download the SR from this Microsoft website.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hailing Frequencies Are Open! New Poll Of The Month Feature Added..

Well I have seen everyone else out in the Blogosphere updating their forms and such. So I guess I will experiment too. I so give into peer pressure. Anway on the right side of the page I have added a poll about Screen Reader/Review programs. I am wide open for topic suggestions if anyone has any they would like me to post.

Additionally.. Every time I add something I manage to misplace, remove or eat something else. To that end, and for the numerous requests, I place again the RSS feed link and email address. Hopefully if I can't seem to keep these thing on the front page maybe they will turn up in search queries.

RSS Link

Email Address

Windows Live Writer Hits Beta 3

It looks like this might be the last beta for the team. The new build has video plug in support native to the program. It also sports some new features for those who do that linking to 7 million other blogs/social sites like Twitter.

A word of warning though. The download now uses that new Windows Live Installer. It's something that I suggest you navigate carefully instead of just hitting next. The installer will allow you to install other Windows Live programs you may not want or use on your main system. You can just say no but at first I didn't get how the install process/screens worked. It's not hard. Just .. uh.. kinda odd.

Find out more and get the link to download the new beta from the Windows Live Writer Tame Blog here.

Feedback: Correction About The Sense View In Yesterday's Post

Aaron Smith from G.W. Micro provided some info in the comments section of yesterday's post that I thought needed to be put on the main page.

Aaron Smith said...

I just wanted to add two things about the SenseView:
1. It actually retails for $895.
2. A hand-writing camera attachment will be available for use with the SenseView very soon. We'll have an announcement on all of our e-mail lists, as well as the SenseView webpage ( once it becomes available.

Oops. Sorry for accidentally giving the wrong estimate on price. I'm honestly bad with math, numbers and prices. Hasn't stopped me yet from buying stuff though.

At this year's CSUN Chris Park showed me the attachment that Aaron mentioned above. The device fits into the expansion slot located on the right side of the Sense View. The neat thing about it is that it doesn't change the weight by much nor does it take away from the Sense View's small size either. The device, from what I remember, is slightly angled so one can write comfortably. Other so called "Writing Modes" by others in the 4 inch field of units require you to perform some finger gymnastics or have you write sideways with one of those Space Pens from NASA if you try to create even a quick Posted Note. However the coolest idea to me is that the Sense View has an expantion port period. That opens the door to several possibilities and future product releases.

Oh .. and I went back and put the right price into the other post. Sorry about that and thanks!

A "Refresh"ing New Crop Of Video Magnifiers With Familiar Names

It seems that many Video Magnifier venders have released new versions of older units just in time for that "Back to School" crowd to return to the hallowed halls of institutional learning. And some of these hardware refreshes sport some compelling new features. Let us take a small tour of three of these units which are now available and shipping across the globe. Remember that it is always best to "try before you buy" and I am not saying that any of the units below are better than the others out there on the market today. Beauty is always in the low vision eye of the beholder!

Quick Look Zoom by Ash Technologies

Image of QuickLook Zoom magnifying newspaper article

[Picture above shows a Quick Look Zoom magnifying a newspaper]

The Quick Look Zoom replaces the older Quick Look unit that has been in loyal service for almost three years. The older Quick Look model was widely known for it's clarity of image. The Zoom has that famous picture quality and a whole lot more. The Zoom has a freeze frame, contrast/brightness adjustment control and as the name implies the ability to have multiple levels of magnification. Hence the "Zoom" in the title. If that wasn't enough the Zoom also weighs half as much as the original unit. The manual states that the built in battery will last up to three hours on a charge which puts the Zoom right in the middle of battery life for similar 4 inch Video Magnifiers. Depending on your retailer you can find the Quick Look Zoom in the ball park of $795.

Sense View by G.W. Micro

SenseView Image

[Picture above shows a turned off Sense View unit]

This little powerhouse came onto the scene in a big way back during CSUN 2006. If you have been a long time reader of this blog you will remember that I put this in my "Best of Show" picks. Well since that time the gang at Himes and G.W. Micro have improved upon the unit and now it has one or two more aspects you might want to check out. The Sense View is now brighter. Some out there have said that the original unit was small, easy to hold but just a little too dim for those who have eye conditions that cause them to crave bright and shiny displays on their Video Magnifiers. The newer models of the Sense View are truly brighter and some say that the false colors even look sharper as a result of the increased contrast. Also, this is an after market thing, there is a better case for the Sense View available that has a belt clip. This is just an opinion but to me the pack in case is a little lacking in places where this other custom case exceeds in style and comfort. The battery life of the Sense View tops in the four hours plus range and the price also fits in with others at $825.

Compact+ by Optelec


[Picture above shows a Compact+ in a white text on a blue background false color mode]

Perhaps the one new unit that has the least in common with it's prior model is the Compact+. The new Compact has multiple false color filtering modes, a freeze frame option and a removable battery that will use regular store bought batteries if you run out of power in class. The unit comes with a rechargeable three hour battery, however, being able to use both types of batteries in a unit with a small screen is a very rare feature indeed. The older Compact used a lever that moved back and forth to focus the camera's lens. The Compact+ has a dial control that lets you choose from three levels of digital zoom making it a lot easier to adjust the size of print when reading pages on the fly. The real odd feature of the Compact+ would have to be it's small arm that extends outward from the unit. This arm acts as a handle of sorts which some may find easier to navigate a page with rather than holding a traditional boxier sized unit. It's not for everybody and my words can't do it justice. So seek this one out and see it for yourself if you are interested. The Compact+ can go for as low as $695 with some venders.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Apple: Tiger, Parallels and System Access?

I know that we have established that I am not a big fan of Apple or their ideas on how accessible they are outside of OSX Tiger. But I am always a fan of whatever works and last week I saw something that impressed me to no end.

We had an Apple Rep in the other day showing us some features and third party apps for access on the Mac. As a part of his presentation he showed Parallels which is a program that allows you to run Windows on the Mac. We watched as Windows XP came up on the Tiger desktop and I, along with a co-worker, thought the same idea at the same time. Let's run System Access in XP on the Mac. And you know what? It worked.

We had SA running perfectly when we had focus in Windows XP. Then we had Apple's Voiceover running when we switched over to Tiger. It was very cool and very impressive. While I don't see me sprinting out the door to pick up a Mac Mini or anything.. I have to admit that something like this is just geektastic.

Humanware Begins A Deaf Blind Newsletter

The document listed below can be found in a link on Humanware's front page at:

Deafblind Newsletter - September 2007

Washington State ODHH Chooses HumanWare to Design and Manufacture
New DeafBlind Communicator

The Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) in the State of Washington had a strong desire to serve the state’s deafblind population with new telecommunications technology for both TTY and face-to-face applications. Existing technology did not meet their needs. After extensive research, ODHH found that companies that were capable of producing the level of technology they needed did not have the resources to risk on such a small market.
ODHH decided to find the money required to help subsidize the development of the desired products. They put together a focus group that included deafblind individuals, as well as professionals who worked closely with the deafblind population, to come up with a specification for the
For more information contact Jim Halliday at
product. They were able to secure a significant amount of money for the project and set up a bid process that attracted developers. One company stood out because of its existing position in the blindness marketplace with an extremely powerful yet easy-to-use product called BrailleNote. HumanWare was then chosen to develop the new DeafBlind Communicator.

The DeafBlind Communicator project is well underway.
Sample of Possible Satellite Communicator
Add your name and email address to the newsletter list and every four to six weeks you will receive new information about the philosophy behind the product, specifications, field test results, basic functions, more advanced forms of communication, mainstream applications, and the various other components and options.

If you are interested in receiving updates about the development progress request this newsletter by emailing your name and email address to

For more information about HumanWare and its other fine products visit our website at

Vista Corner: File Names, RFM and Colleges

The usual article about "the evil empire" of Microsoft doing evil things ends up being some Linux blogger with an axe to grind. Today though Computerworld has an article about Windows files being changed that may be worth a look.

Then, continuing with the evil theme, there is that neat Reduced Functionality Mode in Vista. For those who aren't running a legal copy of the OS or for those who have run out of days on their 30 day trial you will find RFM not so friendly. You can actually get to your files with no Start Orbs or Windows Explorer if you choose to try and by a Windows Key on line then use the adress bar to browse your C:\ drive or other folders. I've done it in this mode and trust me it ain't easy. But if you have never heard of this mode then check out the article listed below.

Of course if you are trying to avoid Vista all together your days of doing so are numbered. Colleges are switching to Vista because it is all their students can get. And with cheap upgrades on sale in the Campus stores the adoption rates will begin to soar faster than some pundants predicted just one year ago. Learn more from this Ars link.

September 07 Access World Is Now On Line

This issue has more on Cell Phones, Pocket HAL, the Humanware My Reader2 plus an interview with Serotek's Mike Calvo. Find the new issue at the link below.