Sunday, January 08, 2012

My Top Ten Of 2011: Numbers 3, 2, 1 And More

I wanted to make sure the podcast archive was online before I finished my poll results here on TRS. To hear myself, J.J., Jamie and Lisa discuss the year that was in AT, click on the link below to be taken to the SeroSpectives podcast archive.

And now, as the late Paul Harvey was known for saying, “the… rest of the story’. Here is the story that was chosen for the number three position.

And my choice was the number 2 story selected by the panel.

Demise of Qwitter accessible Twitter client, replacements emerge
notoriety is a fickle thing. And it doesn’t always bring about fame and fortune. It can, as seen earlier this year, bring on headaches and forking of a project. Quitter demonstrated the beauty and the pitfalls of Open Source. It also, unfortunately, showed the darker side of a community enraged with some forms of snarkyness that the internet is never in short supply of on just about any subject. There are lots of fingers to be pointed in various directions for the “who and the why”, almost as many as the various offshoots of Quitter actually, and this too shall pass into obscurity like so much other “Twitter Drama’. For now though, it was one of the bigger stories of 2011.

Here is the link to what was said on Blind Bargains about the Quitter story.

To make things fun and confusing, here was what I chose for number 2.

Apple to launch iPhone 4S simultaneously with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint
The story here isn’t VoiceOver, iOS5 or even the passing of Steve Jobs. No, the acceptance of voice control with a TTS engine by the mainstream in the passion for Siri far and away is the highlight of what otherwise is just the same old iPhone in a relative modified shell. For years this technology has been available but it took the Apple marketing team to make it cool enough to use. The question is, where does Siri go after the novelty wears off? That we may see in 2012 because Siri, like iCloud, is still in beta.

Lastly, the panel and I were in sync with the number 1 story. Here is the link…

With my thoughts being…

Amazon Kindle Fire released, completely inaccessible/Amazon releases accessible Kindle for PC
this one is just so frustrating and infuriating. There is no good reason why the largest online retailer, who had months of time prior to this product’s launch, should have released the Kindle Fire without some form of access. Even using Talkback, as the Fire relies on a modded version of Android at its core, would have been something. But the fun doesn’t stop with Amazon there. the cheapest and newest of the kindles does not feature a speaker nor TTS. And the release of the Kindle for PC, with its considerable drawbacks, should have been the “Spector of Doom” for what was to come in 2011. It’s funny that many try to pit Apple versus Google on the Mobile Accessibility Wars when it really seems that Amazon is the bigger offender of anyone seeing how they have poor access on just about every platform they touch. More than anything else, Amazon’s approach .. or lack thereof.. on Access is the biggest story in Assistive Technology in 2011.

I want to thank the guys at Blind Bargains for asking me back for my third go around with this look back at the year. And it was really great fun to be able to do this in person and in podcast form. I hope you enjoyed the panel’s feedback and I invite you to continue to listen to the “This Month In AT” shows as they end up being the genesis for this conversation for the end of what will be in 2012.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

My Top Ten Of 2011: Number 4

Before I forget, you can catch the rest of the Top Ten from all of us on the panel during our “This Year In AT” show on SeroSpectives. To learn more go here…

Also, be sure to follow Lisa on Twitter…!/serospectives

the picks I have are now starting to mesh with the rest of the group as you can see from the Blind Bargains article link.

And here is the full paragraph I submitted that had a little more, and probably too much per my usual, commentary.

Code Factory Releases Mobile Accessibility for Android
one of the bigger stories in 2011 has to be the products that came from the Spanish shores of Code Factory. TV Speak, the licensing of technology for Nokea phones, updates to their existing product lines and of course the introduction of Mobile Accessibility for Android devices. Even more stunning was the decision to unbundle the Accessible Browser, arguably one of the best features of the MA suite, as a separate standalone download on the Android market for 1/5 the price of MA. Code Factory has truly shown that they can thrive in the new world of Accessibility. Kudos!

My Top Ten Of 2011: Number 5

2011 will be this odd sort of year where I’ll look back at those 365 days and scratch my head as to what was the “next big thing” in the areas of trends or innovations in Assistive Technology only to come away with a blank stare. Because nothing really stood out. Well nothing that did not jump right out at me and say “hey! Right here! I’m Number one!”. Even the panel’s choice for number five has a need for some time and distance before one can say what the impact is, or was, or will be?, on the landscape of Assistive Technology.

Some will argue that the story linked to above should have been the number one.. of any lists, polls, discussions, musings, water cooler quarterbacking or well-meant conglomerations of the Sub-Genius [hail bob reference here]. Or, like comments made by Dark Nexus made on the panel’s stories, one may wonder just how we arrived at our decisions anyway. Coin tosses, slips of paper drawn from a box or dart boards were not used or harmed in the making of our Top Ten I can assure you. and I can see why someone would wonder “why?”. My only answer is that when looking at this stuff all day, all week and okay all year, you can lose the forest from the trees. Inside baseball happens with every tech podcast and blog, therefore, I will lay that down as to part of the “why?” in my selections. However, in the case below the decision purely came from the splash on social media and the remarks made at the summer shows. To say this was a quick way to get someone to comment, okay a sure fire way honestly, would be an understatement. And this is why I chose this story for number five.

RFB&D Becomes Learning Alley
What’s more confusing than an odd series of letters in an abbreviation for a long running service? Well for starters this name change comes to mind at the top of that list of possible answers. While the name reflects a broader focus, it still remains a mystery to some out there why this was the choice for rebranding. However, it did make for some interesting conversations in the confusion of the word “Ally” for the various screen readers. A five, “come and stumble down the learning Alley with me”. Trust me, if you are reading this without a screen reader, it’s a funny phrase.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

My Top Ten Of 2011: number 6

The number six story from the panel was the buzz around the new GW Skype. I’ve already tossed my thoughts on that here on TRS, however, here they are again in the Blind Bargains link.

My pick for number six is one that I was sad to report on this year.

Solona CAPTCHA Service Goes Offline
Community based ideas are awesome. They inspire, they evolve and they can bring about change for so many. Solona not only provided a great CAPTCHA service but they also introduced the iPhone and iPad user to the world of affordable Braille Overlays for iDevices. Solona will be missed.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

My Top Ten Of 2011: Number 7

le heck of a lot on the SeroTalk Weekly podcasts. So I will just say that I still believe the ones who will have more mainstream acceptance of any autonomous vehicles is Google. The year saw Google get permission from Nevada to allow the Google car on the streets for testing, the unit has performed extremely well and the only wreck in a Google Car has been when a human was driving which says a lot. While I think the number seven story from the panel serves as a neat accomplishment, in the end, if we are ever to have a “Knight Industries Two Thousand” or “K.I.T.T., it will have to come from someone like Google and it will not allow anyone, not just the Blind, manual control. Plus, as my friend Jeff Bishop pointed out to me on Twitter, can you even imagine the insurance rates on a car like the one described in the link below to the panel’s seventh story?

It is back to the focus on mobiles for what I voted as my seventh story…

Nokia Partners with Code Factory for Free Screen Reader
The return of the licensed technology model made a comeback in 2011. Moreover, this story also shows the power for having accessibility on board as demonstrated by Google’s Talkback for Android and Apple’s VoiceOver. To remain a viable choice for Education or Government purchase, there must be access. And we now have journeyed from an expectation to a demand for it in the realm of mobile devices. But before you say “whatever, that’s a dying platform anyway” please realize that Symbian is a very large platform still in the EU and other countries outside the US. This deal allows those who rely on those phones to continue to have access until the next big thing migrates their way.