Monday, July 14, 2008

Feedback: Commenting On Comments

Some great remarks have been made in the comments section and I think I will take some time out to highlight a few of them again. Except this time I won’t be going back to 2007. All of them are fairly recent responses. yes, I’m turning over a new leaf and I am really reading your comments and email. Although I don’t think I have done an all email Feedback yet. At any rate let’s begin with an all too familiar, and frequent poster, you may know as “Anonymous “. This mysterious person is commenting on the Open Trade In post from May 13th.

PAC Mate Fever: Before anyone asks, “Pac Man Fever” was a song. Buckner and Garcia. Its from the 80’s.

Anonymous said...
This is the second time that they are offering it and usually Humanware don't even respond to this. Care to speculate on why this is?

I’ve been told by some of the Regional Sales Reps that the past promotion of trading in the competition’s note taker/PDAs for money off on a PAC Mate went very well. So a second round with the promotion seems logical. Especially if you are looking for a device that runs Windows Mobile 6 natively as the base operating system. The competition’s feature list, however, is getting more fierce if you read up on the Braille Sense Plus and the Levelstar Icon. And we don’t know what Keysoft 8 will hold either. The cool thing is that you have tons of choices and FS is offering everyone a way to move into their platform at some kind of a discount. As often as people talk about the cost of AT these days, you have to admit that any promotion that offers you any type of good deal is worth a mention.

Times Out: Here’s a comment from the 5/26 post on the NY Times articles.

.Reid said...
David Pogue responded to my post on his article. Since I assume you too are using a screen reader, you didn't realize that he was implying the authors were not really blind. He used single quotes around the word blind.

As I said in my reply, I really don't think that makes the article and accusation any less harmful. In fact, how in the world would he know if someone is faking blindness via email? You can see his comments here:

Thanks for that update. You’re right about his questionable judgement of determining who is and isn’t Blind via email and I suspect “The Psychic Friends Network” must be involved too. or tea leaves. Those work well.

The old phrase “Consider the source” comes to mind. I’m not a huge fan of any mainstream tech writers. Well I take that back some. Dean at the San Jose Mercury News is very good, the team at the Houston Chronicle is always a fantastic read and once in a great while the L.A. Times comes off with a head scratcher. The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today and a few other non tech publications that dip their toes in tech just don’t come up on my radar as much. Some of that is partly due to the rabid Apple favoritism that eludes in their “style over Substance” and so called perceived need to write about the hype of tech. that puts eyeballs on screens. And it isn’t something I really care about when you consider just how Blind Friendly the iPhone is these days. So David, Walt and a few others can wax ecstatic about this new fangled wiz bang visual interface jazz all they want. Just remember that Vista sold 14 times as many licenses in 1 year when compared to OSX. Also, I can’t wait to see how they spin Snow Leopard. After all the biggest new feature is Security. I thought Macs didn’t have to worry about that..

As to David’s use of punctuation to infer sarcasm on *Blind* users… One could make a statement about visual cues, the Blind and Screen Reader verbosity I guess. But really the bigger point I would rather make is that you always have to be careful with humor on the internet. If you notice I try to be as self deprecating as possible because if I make fun of me I probably won’t offend you the reader nearly as much as if I made broad generalizations or sweeping comments about a segment of our population in crude terms. that doesn’t mean I don’t do that at times if I think that our shared experience can get a point across a whole lot faster than a long descriptive narrative. It just means that I am aware of who reads this blog and I do actually try to be consistant in my writing as to not honk off anyone but those who hate my gramer and run on sentences which appear to never ever end. Hmm, I think I could have stuck a hyphen  and another broekn phrase in there somewhere. Oh well..

For the record, I use both Screen Reader and Screen Magnifier products. My job requires me to sorta know most of the leading Blindness and Low Vision AT products on the market today. Note I say ‘Know’, I used single quotes around the word know Ha Ha!, because it is really really hard to use everything well on a daily basis. I end up using one product one day and I force myself to relearn another the next. So I’m sort of a “Jack of all trades, Master of none”. AT is already a niche industry and it is very common to find a person staying with one company or a group of products that they know, and use, best. With four big players in Screen Reader territory who can blame a guy or gal for having a desire to specialize? Not me.

My specialization is in the areas of Screen Magnification and Video Magnification. Again, that doesn’t mean I don’t know something about Screen Readers. I just didn’t use them both at the same time. But I do have to use Screen Readers as part of my job involves me trouble shooting various AT products on XP, Vista, Office 03 and Office 07 to name a few. And as we saw in the “Morning With JAWS” I will be entering that land of the Screen Read and Screen Mag user as this type of user is in a situation apart from everything else on the market today. Therefore, you now know why I am easily distracted and or confused.  Oh and sarcastic. Especially around the end of a beta cycle. You can probably guess that a new version of something is coming out by the snarkyness of my posts. A tired mind is a terrible thing not to waste.  [Tongue firmly planted in cheek]

Dual Identities: For the most part I try to keep my internet life away from my offline life. But when you have used a handle for, gulp, years .. Things have a way of catching up with you. I’ve been Ranger1138 since 1996. So when I lose touch with folks, Google is right there to pick up the slack.

Ethne said...
You don't call and don't write and ISN news has been down for two whole weeks. I think I may just lose what little is left of my sanity. :)

Anyway DDC has tried to contact you - but fears your old email account may have eaten it.
Hope all is well, and tell da fam I said hello. (Including the four legged members):)

ISN News is the Babylon 5/Crusade site that I have belonged to since 1998. I have been one of the Moderators for the Forum since 1999. Recently we had a server give up the ghost and we lost everything. We were so used to Private Messaging one another via the boards that when they went we forgot the old means of communication completly. Or, as in some cases, Hotmail put us in one another’s junk email filters. Go fig. Anyway, Ethne is a very long time and dear friend and she left me a comment to open my hailing frequencies. Problem was I took vacation and really shunned the computer. So I’m the reason why the server went south… in the fact that I was on vacation. I don’t have control over the server. I do apparently have terible luck and timing problems though. Just thought that needed some clarification there.

We have rebooted the message boards at ISN and I really write up a storm on SF, TV and Music there. The boards run on VB and I know that isn’t always AT compatible. The new version that we upgraded to is a little busy yet still functional. Hop over to the forums via our main page if you are interested.

“Stop Making Sense”: A Talking Heads reference there. One of the best live and concert films in my opinion. Um, moving on, to a poster who had a comment on my June 12th Sense View Duo link.

Anonymous said...
Saw the demo and the unit looks good. However, GW appear to compromise on the magnification level in order to support the new features. The new unit enlarge only up to 12x compared to the 22x for the original model.

By the way, I hope they'll offer a trade-in for the current SenseView owners. I wouldn't mind upgrading, but I will not shell out another $1300 for the Duo


Honestly Jessica I haven’t spent all that much quality time with the unit. Yeah I said I would when I wrote that back on June 12th but the Convention Season is in swing and I haven’t gotten back to this one or a new model from VTI either. Thank goodness those new Humanware units aren’t coming my way until late August at the earliest. Who knew the Video Magnifier side of things would explode with new product? Oh yeah, Convention Season. Silly me. I’ll be working with the Duo this month. So I may spotlight this unit later on in July or August. It is my understanding that the unit is doing quite well though and some who had the earlier model like the Duo even more. My suggestion, as it always, is to seek it out and compare it to what you have already. Make sure to take the older Sense View with you for reference. Then c’mon back here and tell us what you think.

Summer Breeze: Ah, the Trekker Breeze. What a breath of fresh air for some. This is a comment from June 20th.

Wulfila said...
An awfully vague Press Release. Does anyone know how this new System differs from the older Trekker? It sounds as though it is more affordable; is that because it is One Unit and not Three Components - the PDA, the Receiver and Speaker? Also, what is the Significance of the Operation of this new System being simpler than that of the old One, concerning knowing or not knowing Computers or Screen Readers?

I’m going to talk about this device and Humanware more in an upcoming Convention article. As a sneak peak I’ll say again that the Breeze is misunderstood. you know how there is Old Fashioned Vanilla, French Vanilla and Plain Vanilla Ice Cream? The Breeze is one of three flavors of GPS that Humanware offers. Your tastes may vary. More on this later..

Jawin’ About JAWS: Finally, here is a comment from the July 6th “Morning With JAWs” post.

jm33 said...
When you say "discussion about a version of JAWS running without the Video Interceptor. Such a version was possible and some discussion was given to what it would entail.
Good stuff on that front. Sure your Screen Reader works better with this intercept running, however, changes in the way video is displayed are coming.
And it is nice to see FS thinking about future issues." is this implying that it is soon going to be not possible to be running an interceptor with expected changes in Vista's future or is that just still at the level of speculation and concern? I hope I am incorrect here, but I would tend to think that not being able to run the interceptor would set us back a lot in our qwest for accessibility. I am aware that there are some products out there currently running without the use of an interceptor, but that it is a trade off for the portability that it allows at this point.

Hold on for this one because I go off the beaten path at least once. Trust me, there is an answer in there somewhere.

Changes in video and the like began with Windows 98 to XP. DCM came into play and it kinda did a good thing for a person who only used one type of AT on any given computer system. The move from XP to Vista introduced the move from DCM to Mirror Drivers. This too has some drawbacks if you use a combination of AT programs from the various options on the market. Mirror Drivers have been said by Microsoft to be a midway solution. As we approach Windows 7 we will see a lot more changes. There is the touch screen layer, more emphasis on High Def content via Windows Presentation Foundation [WPF] and the just announced Direct X 11. Plus when 7 rolls around we will have almost three generations of AERO Glass enabled video cards available. So it is quite possible that Glass may be the new default for Windows.

Some of that I have cobbled together from tons of articles on the net. Some comes from Rob Sin’Claire’s speeches from the 2006 Convention circut. Moreover, some comes from my talks with the various players in the AT Industry. but most of all it comes from Moore’s Law. Changes in video are inevitable. Remember that the Apple iPhone and Microsoft’s Surface technologies are pushing the On Screen Touch interfaces forward to the desktop clients. And the movie and music industries drives to close the “analog hole” continues to alter how we see, use and interact with any and all video. The Assistive Technology Industry rides on the backs of several movements in general computing. Therefore change is in the very nature of what we do. The speed of that change, and how we adapt to it as an Industry, is really the bigger issue.

Is it better to run with a Video Interceptor? Yep. Will that technology be phased out over time? Yep. Is it good that AT companies are moving forward to meet these needs? You bet. That is why a paid model will always beat the pants off of a free one for AT users. I’ll save the debate of free vs. paid for another post, however, I point out that having full time developers is far more an attractive option to part time community based initiatives if you enjoy having stable access to Windows based computers at your job. 

These brave guys and gals throughout our Industry need operating incomes so we can have the best and up to date access to things like Adobe Acrobat 5,000. To hear that a company is considering such a radical idea to their core philosophies is exciting as well as scary. I’d rather them look at it now though as opposed to patching a program six months to a year later however. Plus growth is good right?

Besides, I and others will be the crazy ones in the betas working with this thing before it comes to the public. And in my look back at Vista articles I suggested that those who were happy in XP were fine for another year at least. And how many of you out there still keep your older versions of JFW installed “Just In Case”? FS tries to ensure that this functionality is preserved in every future version if they can help matters. Eric reiterated that in Dallas earlier in the month. So “No Worries Mate”. 7 will come and hopefully we will have same day releases of AT like we did with Vista. Chances are that this is just a blip on today’s radar and this storm too shall pass. 

Okay that was too much positive and upbeat verbiage for me to type at one time. I’m going to go lay down now and let the dark clouds return. Remember you can post your thoughts to this and more at any time. Or email me. I don’t make it all that easy to do so but I do read emails. I don’t know about answering them yet. I always seem to misplace that “Reply” button. Anything you send me though is fair game unless you specify otherwise in your email. Hey, I gotta get material from somewhere..

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


The PAC Mate presentation you eluded to in your JAWS post was a great presentation. It looks like this will be a feature-rich 6.1 upgrade when they release it. Especially noteworthy are the "Reader" mode, Contracted Braille Anywhere, and not losing settings when upgrading.