Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The link to the poor little Facebook page is below
And the Twitter page is this link
Monday, March 30, 2009
The usual conversations have started on the whys, ifs and other topics of updating to IE8. More or less the buzz has been good. However, I've seen a lot of luke warm or 50/50 viewpoints. I’m still playing with it as my default browser and I’ll save my opinion until we reach the end of the current running poll. Here are some links on the debate so far.
Mary Jo Foley: IE8 uses a multi threaded process for tabs and this can be argued that this approach eats up resources. Naturally older hardware is going to have some issues in this areas and Mary puts forth the idea that a Light edition would help her with an older Thinkpad.
Performance Myths And Facts: Ed Bott wrote a lot about IE8 recently. Part of his discussion on the topic of IE8 mentioned a performance fix. This started the flames on “fat and slow” in some circles. Paul, from the Windows Super Site, drops some heavy knowledge on the blog about Ed’s fix and other comments going round on the web as well.
eBay and Yahoo: Controversy aside, IE8 is gaining steam in some corners of the internet. Yahoo, eBay and Twitter have all rolled out Accelerators and there are more sites to join in as the final code matures. And to think we haven’t even gotten to ARIA yet.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Old names with new music. I’m going retro but not really. Here are some highlights on what rocks the Station’s orbit these days.
DM: I’ve seen the band a few times, however, I never saw them in the keyboard glory days of the 80’s. Although I can imagine what those shows were like by watching “101”. I’m keen to see this tour as the new music is a throwback to the days of “Master and Servant” or “Black Celebration”. A preview of the new album can be found at the band’s MySpace page.
The Prodigy: I’m a bad Ranger. I really like “Fat of the Lamb” which by all accounts of the true fan places me in the *sell out* camp. I can’t help it. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t hear “Firestarter”, “Breathe” or “Smack my B” on a passing car stereo or TV program. The disc is ingrained in my memory and every time I think I can walk away… someone licenses it for a movie trailer and I dig the CD out again. I mean I even liked the band’s abandoned attempt to recapture the lightning twice with “Baby’s got a temper”. Over the years, sadly, I lost my fuel for the fire that was The Prodigy. The new album is out and I’m playing with matches in hopes of rekindling a lost love. Hear for yourself at the link below.
Static X: I came late to the party with StaticX. I admire “Wisconsin Death Trip” but I came along fully around the “Shatter Zone” era. The band’s last outing, “Cannibal”, was a nice blend of Industrial, Metal and a hint of Techno. But the new disc is a straight time warp back to the age of Ministry’s early works and it isn’t for the faint of heart. I’ve got a cover that the band did of Ministry’s “Burning Inside”. So this move wasn’t a surprise to me. But I tend to like the early 90’s Ministry more than the later works. And this new Static record harkens me back to the summer that saw the return of the mega festivals like Woodstock 94.
Friday, March 27, 2009
I have this joke that my wife can’t stand. My birthday is in June and I like to say that my birthday was strategically placed for me to receive gifts every six months. Her birthday is in February. So I can see how she might not find the joke to be very funny. In three more months I’ll still think it is hilarious though. But I do admit that the joke lost a little bit of the luster when I hit 40.
I’ve been talking a lot about age and time offline recently. I’ve had to explain to people why a new Windows is coming. I’ve had to explain the reasoning behind some office procedures that pre date my starting point by five years to people who have only been working with the team for a short time. And I often find myself being the defender of the faith to a office religion I never really adhered to begin with. Yet here now I’ve traveled the path from fighting “De’Man” and all he stood for to the point where I’m working along side “De’Man” because it is comfortable and familiar. So goes the “Circle of Life” i guess.
The problem is, as I wrote back in 2007, the Mentors that I grew up with in the Industry are moving on to other things. Back when I first wrote about the subject I was focusing on friends and Reps who existed in the national arena. Now the losses are more closer to home because some of my most cherished co-workers are retiring out of the business as well. And I don’t know how to transition from being the Grasshopper to the Master who holds out the outstretched hand with the shiny pebble in the center of the palm.
Oh it isn’t because I don’t know the wise and witty sayings that come with the mantle of responsibility. I’ve heard myself use phrases from my parents and previous teachers that I loathed come freely out of my own mouth quite easily. I also don’t have the fear of failure or anything like that either. Possibly because I have always had the brash overconfidence thing going for me, probably to my detriment, for years. And ye ol’noggin keeps the idea train on the tracks with tons of crazy new projects. So that isn’t the trouble either.
The condition that sets me apart from my older piers is time and the complexity of today’s market.
A few years ago there was a person who made us go through a series of meetings where it was thought that my team would get some support for our schedules if we explored the concept of time management. It is usually around this point in staff meetings of this ilk that I think back to the first 10 minutes of “Robocop” and how a big oddly shaped robot, The Enforcement Droid 209 or ED209 for short, walked in and shot a guy for provoking him. But I digress.. So off we went to figure out how much time it took to do everything down to the making of the coffee each morning. And I was *encouraged* to read a bunch of management philosophies on prioritizing, segmenting and grouping tasks. Which ranged from the “What the?” to the “You got to be kidding me” on the spectrum of how these concepts could apply to my job in the Assistive Technology Industry.
My fave was the “inbox Zero” fantasy. The idea goes that you should do everything in your Inbox. No matter what the task or time. You should have nothing in your Inbox at the end of the day. And! You couldn’t cheat by moving all your messages to a folder or delete all your correspondence in case you were wondering. I realize that the new thing is to text and I’m an old fogie for the reliance on email but.. C’mon!. I see almost 300 email a week. Of course this was a management book and the idea was to delegate the majority of the work on to others. Which would be great if there were lots of people around who know what I know. However, it is getting harder to find people who know version 3 of a product let alone go back to DOS or the Vic 20.
Being good in the AT Industry takes a lot of experience. And you are only as good as the first version of the product you touched. Or at least that is what I used to say. Now flexibility is the key because next year we have Windows XP, Vista and 7 to support. Then Office 2003, 2007 and whatever the name of Office 14 ends up being when shipped. Plus Firefox, IE7 and IE8. Oh and how about all the social networking options.. And! Security software, broadband connections and the As through Ns of the wireless world. Is it any wonder why so many of my friends have left?
In the three times I have stopped to write this post since November we went from not having much in the way of x64 support to it now being a common feature for just about everyone in the biz. Features like that are coming fast with development teams working year round. Not to mention the patch schedules are even faster than the product releases used to be even two years ago. I’m absolutely lucky that I have a job that allows me to keep up with it all for the most part. Still, due to the many options for today’s access, I’ve had to make out my own niche among the types of technology on the market today. Cell phones, for instance, became something I just follow other blogs and podcasts for research rather than relying upon hands on impressions. Choosing Windows Mobile may also be my undoing but using it helps me know some Blindness Note Takers better. So I chalk it up to multi tasking. Take that!, management book “Who moved my cheese?”.
The thing is that my mental hard drive is getting full and my RAM is all used up more days than not. Yet the sheer number of people who need assistance is growing due to the aging population. Which means that the requests keep coming but the resources to handle it all are decreasing not just for me but everywhere I look.
Time.. it all takes time that I used to have before I ended up playing the violin while my friends boarded the lifeboats off the Titanic as we sped towards this giant ice cube. And while I want to resent them for leaving me with the others on the boat.. I just can’t do it because I’m thinking that part of me is saying “take me with you”. Until recently that is…
One morning it hit me. I could walk home and buy any book and read it like a sighted person. I could buy anything and have it delivered to the wrong place just like a sighted person. I have access to technology that can read street signs. I have talking GPS. I have the ability to walk up to almost any computer, Mac or Windows, and make it talk. I have … options where so many of my friends did not. I then chided myself for even thinking that there was such a concept as “too much access”. Everyone is experiencing their own form of information overload and why should our Industry be any different? Then I waved at the retreating lifeboats, picked up a shot glass, and went below decks to help those left to bail out the rushing water.
Sure my phone rings constantly. My schedule is booked for the next two months. I started the Twitter feed because I was feeling guilty for not posting enough here at TRS. But what lovely problems to have these days. While others are fearing the economy, I’m wondering if I can ever take time off to have a vacation. Not bad for a guy who was President of his Science Fiction Club, two years running, back in high school. Ah, but if I was this popular back in high school I would have had so many more dates.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Fake Melinda Gates: Recently Mrs. Gates told a magazine about how Bill likes to keep things all in the family with Microsoft products in their home. The team at “Funny or Die” has a field day with this, as you can see from the link below, with a fake Melinda telling the world what it is like to be living without walls.
Apple Editing: This Mac ad parody takes a few seconds to sink in but it does detail the Mac experience from an experienced user’s perspective.
Macbook Wheel: This one is an oldie but a goodie. And some people actually reported it as real news. The Onion brings us the new Macbook Wheel.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I’ve added a Twitter gadget to the right sidebar as well. It is just below the Poll section. And just above the RSS feed bits that were requested a few months ago. Man this is going to actually look like a modern blog if this keeps up. I do thank you all for the suggestions for the site.
I often like to remind people that I’m not just Visually Impaired.. I’m Style Impaired as well. One day I’ll pull out my leather Member’s Only jacket from the closet and wear it proudly when that trend comes back. Or when it is “Remember the 80’s” week at work. And yes I do have a MO jacket. No dayglow shirts though. But I did have a friend with a black Knight Rider Trans Am if that seals the deal for ya.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
This month’s poll question came about from the simple fact that five people I know at work have bought various types of Netbooks since the first of the year. All said that they had open keys for their AT programs of choice and it seemed stilly to them to go for a note taker without a Braille Display option for simple things like surfing the web or taking notes. And it looks like the worm has also turned for those who voted in the poll as well. Check out the votes..
Feb's Poll Question Of The Month: Would You Buy A Netbook Running An Assistive Technology Program Or A Traditional Blindness Related Note Taker If Given Half The Chance?
I would buy the Netbook AT Program Combo Meal 12 (50%)
I would buy a Blindness Related Note Taker 0 (0%)
I gotta have my Braille input or Braille output Note Taker 6 (25%)
Whatever, I use a laptop for all things in portable computing 6 (25%)
I do caution some people to do the research before you buy if you are going for a Netbook. Not all systems are created equal. And hardware configurations are a plenty. Also, and this gets a lot of people, a Netbook is not a laptop. So don’t expect smooth sailing if you are one of those people who have 7 windows open at a time while streaming media. Moreover, with most of these systems coming in at such a low price .. we may have entered the new world of disposable computing. New from Bic, the disposable Netbook Lighter combo! Now available at Right Aid, 7-11 and Fry’s. And then there will eventually be the recycling bits. Green for paper, yellow for glass and purple for those dead Netbooks. And we will all have flying cars and dogs that will talk too. Okay maybe not that last part. Rutt’ro Roorge!
I’m scarce for poll questions at the moment, however, this one seems timely.
March’s Mini Poll Question: Are You Going To Update Your Internet Explorer To Version 8?
I'll Wait For The Service Pack
Internet Explorer.. Never!
I’ve got a guess how this might go. So we will do a mini poll this time around and go with something else in a few weeks.
Friday, March 20, 2009
It seems that not all the news this week is CSUN related. Microsoft has taken the beta and RC wraps off of their new version of IE. And you can download it now as long as your AT program of choice supports it that is. To get the new version of IE go to the link below.
If you want to know more about what the new version holds in store then I suggest the review at the Super Siste for Windows.
And if you have an office pool going on when the first exploits will be in the wild.. well.. check out this article.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The company also announced a ton of stuff yesterday. The Book Sense, the Sense View Qwerty and a partnership with Lexmark and more..
Update: The first sessions are now online at the link below
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Dolphin Computer Access will be exhibiting on booth 317 within the Marriott LAX Hotel (5855 West Century Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90045) throughout the whole of CSUN 24th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, 18th - 21st March, in Los Angeles.
Visitors to the Dolphin booth will discover just why version 10 of Dolphin's SuperNova, Hal , Lunar & LunarPlus are the most advanced, yet user friendly screen magnifiers/readers ever produced. Why not take-away a free 30-day demo CD or download a demo today!
Experience for yourself how large print, MP3, Braille & DAISY documents can be quickly and accurately created by Dolphin's EasyConverter
Dolphin are presenting at CSUN 2009
Ensure to mark your diaries for the three informative & interesting conference seminars Dolphin are conducting throughout CSUN.
* SVG support in Dolphin EasyReader - 15:10 to 16:10 on Wednesday 18th March
* One college's journey to a quality alternative format solution - 16:20 to 17:20 on Friday 20th March * SuperNova version 11, driving forward usability & productivity for visually impaired professionals - 10:40 to 11:10 on Saturday 21st March Spaces within each seminar are limited and Dolphin is anticipating large audiences so arrive early to avoid disappointment.
Dolphin announce Dolphin Guide Master Distributors at CSUN
Dolphin Computer Access announce the appointment of two US master distributors for Dolphin Guide and the release of Dolphin Guide version 5 at CSUN, the 24th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference March 16th - 21st, in Los Angeles, CA.
Version 5 extends Dolphin Guide's effortless support for low vision and blind seniors, or other people that want to use a computer, but who struggle with the complexity of the modern computer. Steve Bennett, International Sales Director for Dolphin Computer Access explains
Screen shot of the Dolphin Guide menu system"Dolphin Guide removes the common computing fears and frustrations by presenting a simple menu system that sits on top of Windows, protecting the user from the more complex Windows interface. Users are accompanied by a reassuring human sounding voice that confirms every step taken, and with the option to magnify the screen also, Dolphin Guide delivers an environment in which our users can gain the confidence they need to succeed."
The launch of Dolphin Guide version 5 follows the successful integration of Software Express into the Dolphin Computer Access group following their acquisition in November 2008.
"We are delighted to announce that we have appointed two US master distributors for Dolphin Guide; EVAS & Access Ingenuity . Both companies were the clear choice given their proven expertise in access technology and their excellent track record of first class customer support. Both are essential criteria for our Dolphin Guide users and were therefore paramount in our decision making."
As master distributor for the West Coast, Access Ingenuity will support users in their home state of California, as well as Washington, Oregon and Hawaii. EVAS are appointed as master distributor on the East Coast supporting users in Rhode Island and the remaining 45 states.
EVAS logoJerry Swerdlick, President of EVAS explains why EVAS are so committed to Dolphin Guide.
"We recognise there is a very large proportion of the visually impaired population that have never been taught to use a computer. Yet these people, frequently seniors and baby boomers, want to email their family, write and read their own correspondence and generally maintain their own independence.
We are really excited to be delivering Dolphin Guide to empower our low vision and blind users, enabling them to send and receive email, write and print letters, scan and read documents, browse the internet, and now with version 5, instant message."
Access Ingenuity logoMichael Parker, President of Access Ingenuity explains:
"We are very thrilled to be working with Dolphin Computer Access on the distribution of Dolphin Guide. We are already getting enquiries from all over the west coast and are now starting to establish our dealer & reseller network."
Dolphin Computer Access, EVAS and Access Ingenuity are all exhibiting throughout CSUN, March 16th to 21st, in Los Angeles, CA. To try out the new Dolphin Guide version 5 features and the other 20 plus popular computing functions all made achievable with Dolphin Guide, visit the EVAS on booth 224 or the Access Ingenuity on booth 271 within the Marriott LAX. Alternatively you can request a free 30 day trial by visiting the EVAS website or by contacting Access Ingenuity
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
For those who are unable to attend the event on site, the session, including audio and PowerPoint presentation can still be accessed from any computer, cell phone or PDA. If your computer or portable device is equipped with speech and/or Braille, you’ll be able to view the PowerPoint presentation accessibly as well as hear the spoken presentation.
To participate, simply point your web browser to http://www.accessibleevent.com at the scheduled presentation time.
When prompted for a meeting code, enter 336070133
If you are unable to attend the event as it happens, a recording will be archived in the Information Center of the SA Mobile Network as well as on the Serotek web site.
In addition to this presentation, Serotek will also be bringing you live coverage from CSUN. This coverage will be broadcast on SAMNet Radio, so feel free to tune in to http://radio.samobile.net to hear lots of exciting interviews from your favorite assistive technology companies.
We hope you’ll enjoy this year’s conference, whether attending in Los Angeles or from the comfort of your own home.
The Serotek Team
HUMANWARE UNVEILS VICTOR READER STREAM 3.0
[This announcement is displayed in text only for accessibility with Braille Notetakers. A web version with images is available at: http://www.humanware.com/en-canada/about_us/press_releases/2009_press_releases/humanware_unveils_victor_reader_stream_3]
Los Angeles California, March 17, 2009 -- Today at the annual CSUN technology conference in Los Angeles, HumanWare announced the latest version of its popular Victor Reader Stream DAISY NISO book player, MP3 player, and voice recorder. The latest release of software for the Stream is version 3.0. It is a free upgrade software for the tens of thousands of users who now enjoy their Stream worldwide.
Version 3.0 is a major release packed with new features that continue to distinguish the Stream as the industry leader among pocket size accessible players. Version 3.0 responds to popular requests received from many Stream customers. New features include:
• Multi-level bookshelf navigation for Other Books, Podcasts, and Text. Now you can optionally organize these bookshelves into multiple levels of folders and navigate at those levels.
• Multi-level folder navigation within Music files. For example, now you could choose to organize your music by levels such as genre, artist, and album and navigate at those levels to more quickly find your desired music.
• Further you can now instantly create temporary playlists of any subset of your music collection and limit Random play to only that portion of your music.
• Moreover, you can turn random play on or off with a single key press like many commercial MP3 players.
• Text Search. Yes, now you can enter words to search for in your text files or text-only DAISY books.
• Bookmark alert. You can enable an optional bookmark alert feature to notify you when you are playing a book and pass over a previously bookmarked position. It will even automatically announce your audio bookmarks.
• Two text-to-speech voices. The English version of Stream 3.0 will now include both a male and female text-to-speech voice.
• A 30 minute Time Jump feature and many other usability improvements have been added.
"With the increasing use of 8gb, 16, and even 32gb storage cards, users are managing ever increasing amounts of data on their Stream", says Gerry Chevalier, Victor Reader Product Manager. "With thousands of music files and hundreds of podcasts or text files they have asked us to provide more efficient navigation and version 3 delivers just that."
Says Chevalier, "The improved navigation as well as the bookmark alert, text search and other usability improvements in Stream 3.0 renews HumanWare's commitment to our Stream customers that we would continue to enhance the Stream over time to maximize their Stream investment."
And there's more. HumanWare is pleased to announce that Stream 3.0 will also be accompanied by a completely new-look Stream Companion software. The new Stream Companion 3.0 Windows software has a completely new menu driven interface, support for the new Bookshare zip format, and more.
HumanWare expects to have both the Stream 3.0 and Companion 3.0 available for free download before the end of March. The software will be made available on the Stream Support Page (http://www.humanware.com/en-usa/support/victor_reader_stream). To receive an email announcement for this release and stay informed on future Stream activities be sure to Register to the Stream Newswire (http://www.humanware.com/en-canada/products/blindness/dtb_players/compact_models/stream_news).
ORATOR FOR BLACKBERRY® SMARTPHONES
[This announcement is displayed in text only for accessibility with Braille Notetakers.]
With The CSUN 24th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference around the corner, HumanWare would like to invite you to be the first to get your hands on HumanWare's newest and most innovative software solution called "Orator for BlackBerry® Smartphones". With over 21 million subscribers in 150 countries, the BlackBerry® smartphone is a popular and an indispensible communication tool for people on the go. While providing effective communication solutions for customers, including customers with disabilities, BlackBerry® smartphones have remained inaccessible to the blindness community, until now. Introducing Orator for BlackBerry® smartphones, the first screen reader that empowers blind and visually impaired customers to access and experience BlackBerry® smartphones.
Come visit us at the HumanWare booth 247 for a personal demonstration and to enter your name to win 1 of 3 packages of Orator for BlackBerry® smartphones with a new BlackBerry® smartphone.
If you are interested in learning more on the Orator for BlackBerry® smartphones solution, be sure to attend the product presentation.
Orator for BlackBerry® Smartphones: blind access solution for BlackBerry® smartphones
When: Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Time: 1h50 PM to 2h50 PM
Where: New York room at the Marriott
Speakers: Greg Fields, Accessibility Product Manager, Research In Motion (RIM)
Michel Pepin, Product Manager, HumanWare
Attendees of this session will learn more about Orator for BlackBerry® smartphones and get a sneak preview of how the Orator for BlackBerry® smartphones enables blind and visually impaired customers to remain in touch with important information, people, family and friends while on the go.
For those not able to attend this presentation, be sure to visit the HumanWare booth in the exhibit hall at booth 247 during the following exhibit hours:
• Wednesday, March 18 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
• Thursday, March 19 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
• Friday, March 20 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
• Saturday, March 21 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
HUMANWARE UNVEILS NEW LOW VISION PRODUCTS AT CSUN 2009
[This announcement is displayed in text only for accessibility with Braille Notetakers. A web version with images is available at: http://www.humanware.com/en-usa/about_us/press_releases/2009_press_releases/copy_of_humanware_low_vision_products_featured_at_csun]
HumanWare is proud to announce two new handheld electronic magnifiers that will be on display at our Booth #247 at the 2009 CSUN conference in Los Angeles.
The SmartView Versa is a handheld electronic magnifier. Its features include: a 4.3" screen, 5x to 15x magnification, and a rechargeable battery.
The SmartView Versa+ is a handheld electronic magnifier. Its features include: a 4.3" screen, 5x to 15x magnification, saves images, plays music and videos, SD card slot to store information and images, and a rechargeable battery.
After trying them out, please fill out a form to enroll in a drawing to win a FREE SmartView Versa+. The winner will receive this prize 1 month after the announcement.
Come see our portable distance viewing camera, the SmartView Graduate. This low vision aid is a perfect companion for any student or traveling professional. This distance viewing camera has a stand with 2 USB ports that interface with your laptop. This exciting product works very well with Zoomtext.
HumanWare will also be displaying our complete line of low vision products such as the SmartView Nano and Pocket, which are low cost electronic magnifiers, along with our very popular desktop video magnifiers, the SmartView Xtend and the myReader 2, which is our one-button digital technology unit.
Our HumanWare associates are looking forward to meeting and showing you our very exciting and innovative low vision products.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Steve Took Your Button: The new iPod shuffle talks but it has one of the oddest of interfaces.. well ever. It is nice that Apple finally has come round to speech on these devices but the ship has sailed for most of us. And basic MP3 playback on NLS enabled devices will take care of a lot of people’s needs. Still for those who are all into being hip with the rest of the kids I say read the link below.
Beauty Lies In The Ear Of The Beholder: Speaking of the kids.. It seems that highly compressed audio is becoming the standard by which we judge good or bad music. Between the compression on the new Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers albums and the death of music in general by American Idol it is no wonder why some love the sound of a 128k MP3.
The Death Of High Fidelity: Now if the last two articles don’t prove that I am getting older and I am rapidly losing touch with today’s youth, or reality for that matter, then this article from Rolling Stone may explain the reasoning for my take on the audio recordings of the last six years.