Wednesday, February 28, 2007

JAWS Public Beta For Vista, JAWS 8.0 Patch And Magic 10.5 Released!

What a big day for fans of Freedom Scientific. Three major downloads have gone live today and you can get them all through the main page found at:

Also Jeff Bishop has a good list of links and some reports of issues with the new JAWS patch in Windows 2000. Check out his blog to see what others are saying about the new JAWS.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Calm Before The Storm

Sorry about the lack of updates lately. Things are just crazy in flux with everyone gearing up before CSUN. The pre show notices come around, the show happens and all the new product rolls in for review/use. But this time it's a little unique because of Vista. Some betas have gone public and some are about to release product in the wild. And then we get to do product testing again this summer near or during convention if Vista's Service Pack 1 does release in August. Whew..

I want to do some clean up around here and change a few things. I also want to ell you all how it's going with the hybrid XP/Vista first install. However.. today is my day of rest as I play catch up on my podcast listening, my Tivo watching and maybe if I am lucky I can find some time to say hello to my poor neglected PS2.

I will say that things are going better with Vista than I expected quite frankly. Crashes were easily recovered, the quality of the public betas I am using for access is pretty strong and when things do go horibly wrong the improved Narrator is there to save my bacon.

I still say buy a new box with Vista pre installed. And waiting until the holidays might be better because the hardware support that's coming is going to be just fantastic. Even though my Dell XPS 400 is less than a year old by a month.. I am buying new again in 08 most likely. That way I can be prepared for the next version of Windows rumored for late 2009. And then the cycle can begin again. Whew.. maybe I will fit in a nap right after that part about me catching up with my Tivo.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Vista Corner: Numbers, Readyboost And Black Viper's Tweaks

I have been saying for 18 months to every Assistive Technology Vender I met that the Vista adoption rate would be bigger, faster and stronger than what we saw in Windows XP. I have an entire rant on that coming but for now let's just have the numbers and all of you calling your particular Vender asking about Vista support do the talking.

More tweaks today. First is this neat article with some good tips on what you can do short of sticking a Flash Drive in every USB slot to speed up or make Vista more productive.

Black Viper's Tweaks for XP helped me out sooo much over the years. Heck I... borrowed.. some of his concepts for several presentations I made to IT Professionals in 2001/02. Now he is back with his opening assessment of Vista and it's many versions. I would A: Bookmark this site and B: only do these tweaks if you really, really and REALLY! feel comfortable with making drastic changes to your operating system. In other words I screwed myself over pretty badly once when experimenting. Good thing I have keystrokes and menus somewhat memorized. Oh and System Restore. Can't forget that either. Anyway here's the link.

Behind The Scenes: Mistaken Identity

When I was editing the Zoom Text Beta Link to the correct URL I thought it would be a good post if I told you all about some of the other crazy mix ups I have corrected on the TRS over the years. This is a little "Behind The Scenes" action that I hope is funny reading for a Friday.

I know I have said many times here that the Assistive Technology Industry is a very small world. I don’t take major swings at products on the blog because inevitably I will run into those developers or creators in some dark alley whilst out amongst the myriad of industry conventions. And trust me some of those companies can hide a body that no CSI team will ever find. But I am a user of Assistive Tech and I do have an opinion about things that transcends my worries on offending others in the biz. I just don’t air those views here unless I am dam sure of what I am saying is on target or can be easily duplicated. Case in point: I don’t like the KNFB Reader and I have been vocal about that before to the dismay of some of my NFB friends out there.

Still, as one is so apt to do, I make some really good bonehead mistakes. And like on the NBC show “My Name Is Earl” Karma has a funny way of catching up with you. Here are a couple of “behind the scenes” stories of me pulling a few Homer Simpson “Dough!” moments.

Back in July Dean at Top Dot posted that Wayne merit was me. I wrote about that and we all corrected our collective works on the Blogosphere to make sure that poor innocent Wayne would not be stuck with the sad mantle of responsibility, emphasis on sad, that is “Ranger1138”. What I didn’t say was that I read Dean’s Top Tech Tid Bits at some unholy hour, I think it was 3am, and I left him a voice message instead of the right and polite thing to do which of course was email a guy at 3am. I can’t claim it was a “drunk dial” either because I was all hopped up on coffee. This time I think it was “Taste of the Hill Country” from a local grocery chain in Texas. A nice blend of Cinnamon and Vanilla by the way.

Dean did call me back and unlike me he did it at a reasonable hour. We had a good chat and since then I have an even bigger level of respect for him and what he does weekly with the Top Tech Tid Bits newsletters. Heck I barely get things out monthly and he even has more AT news in his stuff than my small piles of links ever do.

Now flash forward to December 06. I’m in a hurry, we are shutting down the labs for Holiday Break and I want to get the update out before I go. Do I spell check the update? Duh.. no. I barely spell or grammar check anything I post on line. The sad truth is that I have just enough time to get things down in print period. So posting raw is just something I tend to do by habit. And this laziness had me call Dean not by a mis-spelled slaughtered name but by another last name all together. Better yet I had switched Dean’s name with someone I knew in the past before I joined up with Assistive Technology. However in the AT world the last name I switched for Dean’s belongs to a wonderful person who has unfortunately passed on and if you read the original version of the newsletter I called Dean a dead person. Dean is of course very much alive and he was on vacation. He was quite surprised to see that I was calling him someone else. And I have to admit that it would throw my good vacation vibes off as well to see that I really switched up names that badly. He was a good sport and after a laugh plus a correction we have agreed that we are even on mistaken identities.

Dean’s case was nothing when compared to my recent blunder though. Well I say recent but this took place a while earlier. Remember when Jonathan Mosen left Humanware? Do you remember all the Bloggers, like me, speculating like mad about what it all could mean for the AT Industry? Remember that I mis-spelled Jonathan’s name not once but SEVERAL times? Guess what.. Jonathan remembers.

Last week Mr. Mosen stopped by the labs to talk to us about some really good things in store for Freedom Scientific. It was my first personal meeting with him although I had been in places where he had spoken via the convention circuit. I introduced myself with a small remark about Main Menu. And Jonathan said “I love your Blog.. even if you mis-spelled my name”. Oh how I groveled and pathetically apologized. But I was secure in my knowledge that I may have been a bad speller but I didn’t say anything nasty about his move to Freedom Scientific. In fact, if I remember correctly, I speculated at the time that it seemed like a good move for him and FS. He looked very happy when I saw him last week at any rate.

So if you notice lately I do a bit less speculation, a lot more speel er um spell checking and a ton more links to press releases over the last three months. Will this stop the blunders? Nah.. I seem to have a wicked talent for disaster. Just wait for the Vista upgrade horror story I am sure will happen to me soon. That one may require me to edit four letter words before I post its contents!

Speaking of linking ..

Wayne's Blog

Top Dot Enterprises

And of course Freedom Scientific

If you read the Zoom Text 9.1 Public Beta Release Notes you may have gotten a preview of this alliance. I have ZT 9.1 and WE 6.1 public betas up and running on Vista Enterprise at work and things are working well as long as you don't exit one before the other. Don't let that scare you from trying both though. It's a known issue and it's a beta and this will all be ironed out over time. Still the important part of this is that two AT Venders are working together to provide their users better access. And that is always a good thing. Here's the link to the GW Micro press release.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Digg and Youtube.. a deadly combination I tell you.

You think Windows Vista marketing is bad? This ad proves that there is just no way to make an Operating System cool in any era.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I have been testing this version of ZT for a few months now and I am excited to see that others have a chance to see what's new in Ai Squared's flagship product. Dual monitor support is a fantastic feature for those who aren't interested in jumping to Vista right away. Fill out the survey from the following link to know more.

Update: Thanks to you guys in comments.. the link has been updated.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A few months ago I decided that the old format was stale. A new look for a new operating system sounded good to me. Well I haven’t really changed the format much but you do see that I have changed the name. I guess the rest will come later. For now the old Tech Update is no more. Long live the RAT!

Steve’s Word Or Phrase Of The Moment


Description: In internet terms this refers to a web site that acts as a portal to others on various subjects that may interest you in a specific way. This mainly comes into play with Social Networking sites where Cloud Computing selects links that may appeal on mass to the group. An example of this would be and one that is more moderated/edited for it’s community would be

Top Tech Tid Bits: Dean has done a much better job at summing up the last two weeks in Assistive Technology releases than I could do here. Check out his update at the link below.

January Issue Of Access World : Some great articles on the Amigo and the Mobile Speak vs. Talks debate:

~~ Vista and Office Corner

Vista Performance Tests: Let’s get to the good stuff on Vista right out of the box. Here’s a link to some horse power tests of the new OS on various systems.

Family Discounts Not Working? Every launch has it’s problems. But offering someone something then not coming through on day of release when people want to spend their money? This just isn’t cool.

Speech Recognition In Vista Too Good? It looks like if the Moon is aligned with Mars and you leave your microphone on and a whole bunch of other stuff.. someone could take over your system through Vista’s Speech Recognition.

Security Now: There has been a lot said about why Vista’s Digital Rights Management is so prevalent in the new operating system. One of the best analysis and commentary on this issue I have heard yet is in this issue of the Security Now podcast. Download the show at the link below.

Vista Tips/Tricks from PC Magazine: About half of these are good. The other half.. eh.,1895,2088459,00.asp

New York Heart Vista: Think that people are going to slowly move to Vista? Well 3.5 million just made the switch in New York.

Inside The Vista Kernel: Straight up geek talk about the programming challenges in Vista.

Vista Service Pack 1: Here’s a bit more about the upcoming Service Pack 1 currently scheduled for August 07.

Open Document Format Converter For Office 2007: As promised the Add On is on the web and can be added to Office Suites from Microsoft.

Office 2007 Keyboard Commands Explained? This is unfortunately a little screen shot driven but still a good read.

~~ Futureproof

This section will feature new tech that is either on it’s way or it just sounds too good to be true. Either way it caught my ear and I thought it was worth a look.

Reqall: This new device may just be in the concept stages but CNET makes it sound very interesting for those who wish to use their voices instead of a keyboard.

The Microsoft Ultimate Keyboard: This sounded really interesting until

Flash Drives That Will Rule The World: Eventually we will all be flash.

Microsoft Home Server: It’s sad I know but I really will end up buying one of these. Check out the description below to see that the unit doesn’t even come with a monitor, keyboard or mouse. It’s a real server that connects to your home network through this technology that doesn’t need wires. It’s all the rage with the kids these days.

~~ Diversions

This section is devoted to those funny things that others may or may not bludgeon you with in emails at work. No not chain emails promising that Bill Gates will send you money. But we do have a Bill Gates link if that helps any. Again these are just for fun. Everyone needs fun I tell you.

Bill Gates runs like a girl: G4’s old humor driven Macworld Keynote where a Steve Jobs impersonator cracks on Bill Gates.

Apple iPHONE’s hidden features: As seen on Conan O’Brian.

This weekend I began the long process of preparing my main home system for the warp jump to Vista Ultimate Edition. Blank DVDs lay scattered about and lists of files sit in various notepad windows on the taskbar. Long searches for mysterious artifacts have resulted in some cries of “Really.. I didn’t erase that?” along with the mutterings of “Well it doesn’t matter.. it will all go when the Great Format comes.”. But what really hit me like a brick is that I will be getting more removable storage drives in the future because mass migrating large numbers of files on 160 GB drives, or larger, just plain sucks if you decide that you want a library of burned data discs. Offsite storage is a goal I try to complete once a year, however, I think I will just say “no” when I go to the 500 GB drives for $100 that await us in the near future.

What I did learn, and the reason why I am posting this, is that adding Windows Desktop Search to emulate the new search in Vista doesn’t work very well. I was looking for my .PST files from Outlook. I knew where they were, I knew the path and I went there in Explorer windows to find nothing. All my view settings are set to show everything. Compressed NTFS files, system files you know the lot. Each time I searched via the new Windows App I got zero hits. Using the old default, called Search Companion, turned up not an electronic sausage either.

What I had to resort to is to open Outlook, do an ALT + F, go down to “Data File Management” and open the “Outlook.pst” and “archive.pst” files from there. I couldn’t see them any other way. Hopefully this is just one of those “joys of beta testing” woes I have gone on about in the last few weeks. However if it isn’t and you are running Outlook 2007 Beta or RTM you may want to keep a look out for this..

If you want to see if you can find your Outlook 2007 files here’s the default path in Windows XP.

C:\Documents and Settings\Owner or Your Profile Name\Local Settings/Application Data\Microsoft/Outlook

You are looking for any files that end with a .pst. if you don’t see them then use the steps I listed above. You can also import and export Outlook files but that can get rather messy if you are using various versions of Office/Outlook on several machines.