Friday, May 28

Encouraging hybrid legislation

Greetings. Here's great news on the hybrid car front. This message was forwarded to a guide dog list I'm on from another list. Enjoy.

***

Subject: Legislative Alert - Motor Vehicle Safety Act

Dear Fellow Federationists:

I am writing to report that all of our hard work on the issue of silent cars
is paying off. Language that will protect the blind and others from the
danger posed by silent hybrid and electric vehicles has been favorably
reported to the United States House of Representatives by the Committee on
Energy and Commerce as part of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 (H.R.
5381). This legislation, which is a comprehensive bill to address numerous
vehicle safety issues raised by the recent Toyota recalls, now includes
language agreed to by the National Federation of the Blind, the Alliance of
Automobile Manufacturers, and the Association of International Automobile
Manufacturers. If passed by the House of Representatives and adopted by the
Senate, this language will require the Department of Transportation to issue
regulations requiring a minimum sound standard for hybrid and electric
automobiles.



This victory is a product of our hard work and the cooperation of the
automobile industry, but we will need to remain vigilant to make sure this
bill becomes law. We will keep you apprised of developments and let you
know if action needs to be taken to secure this victory.



Thank you again for all you do.



Sincerely,

Jesse M. Hartle
Government Programs Specialist
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND

Friday, May 14

Added Twitter to blog

Greetings. Those wanting a blog post from me will be happy for this one. I've added the ability to view my last 5 tweets on the popular microblogging site known as Twitter, as well as an RSS feed for all of my tweets or posts on Twitter. After being on Twitter for 6 months now, I truely understand that to follow what someone says on the site you really need to read the conversations they participate in, verses just reading their tweets alone. So once again, anyone that wants to keep up to date on what I'm doing and things I find interesting, you're invited to join Twitter and follow your humble blog author. However, if you just want to read my tweets alone and that's all, without going to the bother of joining this free site where there's only one CAPTCHA or visual verification code, with audio option, to fill out, then that's fine too. I would also recommend the RSS feed for The Ranger Station which is listed below in the Blogs and Feeds to Watch section (where you'll also find my RSS feed). Ranger participates in lots of back and forth with people, but he also posts many interesting, and sometimes not so much, articles and links that any tech guru might find fascinating. I thought of taking his RSS feed down, but frankly, there's so much good stuff there in the article links alone that I decided to leave it up. I don't know when my next posting will be on this blog, but as my "Wayne's Latest Tweets" section will attest to, I'm fairly active on Twitter. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 30

Booksense version 2.1 released

Greetings. For those interested, Booksense version 2.1 has been released. See below the announcement from GW Micro. Also, I realize that I haven't been as active on the blog as of late. I'm much more active on Twitter. If you're on it and want to see what I've been up to or want to follow me, then go to:

www.twitter.com/wcmerritt

Enjoy.

***

In case you missed our important CSUN announcements, BookSense 2.1 firmware has been released!

You asked for it, and we have listened. GW Micro is proud to announce the brand new release of BookSense 2.1. The BookSense now supports content from SAMNet, such as audio described movies, television shows, and more. SAMNet is a subscription service. For more details and to sign up, go to
www.serotek.com

BookSense 2.1 also adds full support for NFB Newsline In Your Pocket. Now you can use the BookSense to play your favorite newspaper or magazine. For more details, visit
http://www.nfbnewsonline.org

The new, free upgrade also adds different tones for marks, and the ability to switch from text to audio or from audio to text while reading a DAISY book; making DAISY playback more simplified.

To download the latest firmware, and to read all of the changes for BookSense 2.1, go to
http://www.gwmicro.com/booksense
and then activate the BookSense 2.1 Now Available link. If you have any other questions or need help installing the firmware, please contact our Technical Support Department at (260) 489-3671, or via email at support@gwmicro.com.

Jeremy Curry
Director of Training
GW Micro, Inc.

Thursday, February 18

Stream version 3.1 released

Greetings. I received the following message from HumanWare regarding version 3.1 for the Victor Reader Stream. Coming at this from another user perspective, the Booksense already has many of the features that were added to the Stream. However, those that use the Stream will likely be pleased to have this update. Missing from this update is the announced support for the Epub e-books format, which was promoted at the recent Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference last month. Personally, since many things were fixed in Booksense version 2, such as the fixes for NLS books, I haven't looked back to the stream and am using the Booksense for all of my portable media listening. I still have my Stream at this point, but it's sitting in my desk drawer unused. Anyway, here's the information for the Stream update.

***

Dear Victor Reader Friends:


HumanWare is please to announce the release of new Stream 3.1 software. Stream 3.1 is a free release that responds to popular requests received from many Stream customers. New features include:

- Multi-level Talking Books bookshelf. The ability to create nested folders on the Other Books, Podcast, and Text File bookshelves introduced in version 3.0 has been extended to include the Talking Books bookshelf. You can now optionally create nested folders within the $VRDTB bookshelf folder and navigate the structure while browsing the Talking Books bookshelf.

- For our friends in Spain we now support the Spanish braille electronic text files with a file type of .BRA. At the time of this announcement the Spanish 3.1 is not yet available but we are working with our partner in Spain to release it as soon as possible.

- The popular percentage announcement on the Where Am I key that informs you how much of the book you have listened to has been extended to Talking Books and Audible books.

- When you set a start position for a Highlight bookmark the End position can now be set with a single key press of the Bookmark key.

- The navigation UNDO feature has been extended to the Go To Page function.

- We have introduced two shortcuts to reach the start or end of a book. To quickly jump to the beginning of a book press the Go To key once and then press the Rewind key once. To reach the end of the book press the Go To key and then the Fast Forward key.

- When you press Cancel to end a recording the Stream will now ask you to confirm. This prevents stopping a recording accidentally.

- Stream 3.1 will allow you to copy DAISY books from USB flash media such as flash memory sticks or the NLS cartridges used by the NLS library in the USA and the AFWA library in Western Australia. Each USB flash book must be in its own folder. When you attach a cartridge or flash media the Stream will automatically start playing the first DAISY book on the media. Once the book is playing you can optionally press key 3 to copy it to the Talking Books bookshelf of your SD card.

Stream 3.1 also includes several bug fixes. Please see the Release Notes for full details.

Both the software and Release Notes can be downloaded from the Stream support page at:

http://www.humanware.com/stream_support

Select the Software link on that page. You will find the Release Notes at the top of the English 3.1 software download links. You can choose from two English versions one with Samantha + Tom text-to-speech voices and another with Samantha + Daniel (UK) voices. You can upgrade to version 3.1 from any prior Stream version. To install the new software, follow these steps:

- Download the software zip file

- Unzip the single UPG upgrade file from the zip file. You do not need special unzip software. Simply press Enter to open the zip file and you can then select the UPG file.

- Copy this UPG file to the root of your Stream SD card.

- Disconnect the Stream from the computer, connect it to AC power and turn it on.

- The Stream will automatically start the update process which takes about 2 minutes during which time it will announce intermittent "please Wait" messages. The Stream will power off when the new software is installed.

- When you power back on the UPG file will be automatically removed from your SD card.

After the new software is installed, an html Release Notes document will also be available in a HumanWare sub-folder of your Text Bookshelf so you may read the Release Notes with your Stream. The html version allows you to navigate the Release Notes section by section using the 2/8 keys to select the level and keys 4 and 6 to move between sections.

With this announcement, version 3.1 is available in Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Norwegian, Polish, and Swedish. As other languages become available they will be posted on the same download page. We also are working on a new version of the Stream Companion software for Windows which will be announced on the Newswire when it is available.

HumanWare values your continued support of the Victor Reader Stream. We remain committed to our customers to make the Stream the most powerful, flexible, and enjoyable product used for listening to digital talking books, computer files, and music.

Thank you,
The HumanWare Team

Thursday, February 11

New Olympus players announced

Greetings. Below is a message that I sent to some of my work colleagues regarding the summer release of some new Olympus digital voice recorders and media players. Blind Bargains has the same information, along with many other sites, but they also have the U.S. prices, which are expected to be $249 for the Olympus D2 and $299 for the Olympus D4. Are the features for either of these players enough to get me to go out and buy one? Probably not since I've already got and am happy with my Booksense from Gw Micro. However, if the Olympus players live up to their billing and if what I speculate below about their ability to perhaps play the DAISY NLS files, then this would truly be a notable development. It could mean that a mainstream developer of technology is really taking an interest in the blind market and attempting to reach out beyond offering one token product for the blind. Given the battery life though, it does present an interesting and thought provoking case for getting these new players. Enjoy.

***

The Olympus D4 and D2 have been announced. Among other things, these players include built in voice guidance and text to speech, as well as the ability to play DAISY files specific to the blind and low vision. Though it doesn’t say so directly, since it supports the DAISY files for the blind, I’m assuming that this means it will play the NLS digital talking book files. If this is true, then this is probably the first mainstream off the shelf player that will be able to play these types of files. Read more at the link below:

http://j.mp/aeyK8E

Monday, January 18

Additional JAWS Braille driver from FS

Greetings. I received the following announcement in my email Inbox and thought it worht sharing here. For those that use these displays, then this is good news. Enjoy.

***

Direct from the Freedom Scientific website:

JAWS Driver for Brailliant and BrailleConnect Displays
As you can see from Freedom Scientific's website, with one exception, all
the major Braille display manufacturers are participating in Freedom
Scientific's Secure and Compatible Braille Display Initiative. Under this
initiative, Freedom Scientific and Braille display manufacturers work
together to make sure that users get the best experience possible with
Braille. One manufacturer, who has yet to sign on, is Baum, and we know that
there are some Freedom Scientific customers who have been inconvenienced by
that. Because of this, Freedom Scientific has filled the gap by writing and
testing its own new 32-bit driver for those using the HumanWare Brailliant
or BrailleConnect Series of displays with JAWS 11. These displays are
distributed in English speaking markets by HumanWare, but they are
manufactured by Baum in Germany. This new Freedom Scientific driver will
work with both USB and Bluetooth.

If you have one of these displays installed on your computer and working
with JAWS 9 or JAWS 10, all you need to do is install JAWS 11, download and
install the driver using the link below, and then restart JAWS 11. It should
work as expected. If you have not used these displays before on your
computer, you will still need to install the system level drivers first
using the HumanWare CD that came with your display. Once that is done,
install JAWS 11, download and install this new driver, and restart JAWS, and
then everything should be working.

We still hope that Baum will come on board with the Secure and Compatible
Braille Display Initiative, as have other Braille display manufacturers, so
that we can complete support for 64-bit JAWS.

JAWS Driver for Brailliant and BrailleConnect Displays (32-bit) - 4.0 MB
http://files.freedomscientific.com/WebFiles/Brailliant/Brailliant_brailleConnect11.0.1363.exe

Thursday, January 14

Save Wayfinder Access

Greetings. I received this message the other day regarding the Wayfinder Access product. I bought this product for my Nokia N82 phone a year ago. The times that I have used it, I have found it very interesting and helpful. Wayfinder Access was by far the cheapest and most afordable, other than the free packages that were under development, of the various GPS solutions out there for the blind. The next GPS product for the blind costs double the price of Wayfinder Access and though it runs on Windows Mobile phones, I don't believe that it can run on the Symbian platform. Hopefully another company will take up development and continue this great product. If not, then we might have seen the end of an era for a certain portion of the mobile blind population. Anyway, if you are inclined to help save the software or help continue its development and are on Facebook, then check out this group. Here's the message.

***

From: Darren Harris

Greetings all,

I do apologize for this cross posting but I feel that it is necessary.

I don't know how many of you have herd but the wayfinder access gps solution
for simbion based mobile phones is no longer available. Vodafone who own the
rights to wayfinder products have pulled the plug on it completely. They
have discontinued the entire wayfinder product line effectively in order to
create their own package. Which we believe is going to be completely
inaccessible to blind people.

Considering how accessible wayfinder access is to use as a product, we feel
that this is unacceptable action to be undertaken.

If you are on facebook, then I have created a group called (save wayfinder
action group). The purpose of this group is to bring a dedicated group of
people together so that we can constructively build a case in favour of
keeping access going as a product.

If you think and believe as we do that this product should be saved, then
please come and join in and help to build a case for this product.

It's not often that we come across a product that is in the adaptive market
and that is as cheap comparatively as access.

Please spread the word on other mailing lists as this is important.
Specifically the various phone and technology lists that there are out there
and anybody else who you think may benefit from this.

Thank you for your attention.

Booksense version 2 manual available

Greetings. As the title says, the version 2 manual for the Booksense is now available on the GW Micro site. Read below for more details. Note that the HTML version of the manual has been produced along with the other file format versions. The HTML version was completed after this message went out a few days ago. The HTML version has full support for heading navigation throughout the document, so that the user can read by part or individual section. these manuals can be read on a computer or on the Booksense itself. Enjoy.

****

Hello. Just to let you know that the BookSense manual is on our site
www.gwmicro.com/booksense
now. At this time, a text version and a zipped version is available.
We are working fast to convert this to html and Word as soon as
possible. This manual is for firmware version 2.0 of the BookSense. If
you want to read the manual in the document reader of the BookSense,
copy the manual text file to the Documents folder of the SD card or
flashdisk and read away.

Many thanks.

--
Raul A. Gallegos
GW Micro Technical Support Team

Monday, January 11

Booksense now supports RFB&D

Greetings. I received the following announcement from GW Micro earlier. This is great news for those students, be they in grade school, junior high, high school, college or graduate level, and professionals who may need RFBD materials in a more portable digital form. It took a while for the Booksense to add support for RFBD material, but now it's finally here. Happy reading!

****

GW Micro is proud to announce that the BookSense officially supports Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D). RFB&DAr is the leading accessible audio book library for students with disabilities such as visual impairment or dyslexia. BookSense customers can now take advantage of the large selection of textbooks available from the RFB&D service.

With the addition of support for RFB&D books, students can now instantly download textbooks from
http://www.rfbd.org
and read the books on the BookSense. Textbooks are available from RFB&D's AudioPlus service, which has books in DAISY format. Students can choose from any of the 50,000 books, all of which are read by humans, so students get the benefit of an actual person reading the book.

Adding RFB&D support to the BookSense adds even greater capability to one of the most advanced eBook readers available to people who are blind or visually impaired. The BookSense XT is the only eBook reader for the blind to have built-in Bluetooth for wire-free listening while in the classroom, as well as built-in memory to make it easier for students to carry textbooks without the need to worry about memory cards.
Whether you own the BookSense or BookSense XT, both models support RFB&D. Your player must be authorized to play RFB&D content. This means you must become an RFB&D member. You can sign up by going to
www.rfbd.org
or by calling RFB&D at 1-800-221-4792. Once you have become a member of RFB&D, you will need to authorize your BookSense player. To learn how to authorize your player, go to
http://www.gwmicro.com/kb1114


If you have any other questions regarding the BookSense, please contact GW Micro at (260) 489-3671.

Friday, January 1

2009 Annual Access Awards

Greetings. Once again, the folks over at Blind bargains are doing their annual awards for the best of 2009 in accessible technologies, products, software and websites. Click here to view 2009 Access Award rules and submit nominations. This first period of nominations goes until January 14 at 5pm EST. Nominations can only be submitted once per person and per category. View the categories and consider what you want to nominate for which before making your submissions. Enjoy and good luck to all.

Thursday, December 31

Follow me on Twitter

Greetings. For the last few weeks I've jumped into the social networking scene. i tried Facebook for about a week, and while you can still pull up my FB page, I no longer deal with that site anymore. I got tired of repeatedly having to enter those visual verification codes to add content to my page, such as status updates. For awhile it was when I wanted to put links up, but then it carried over to other content, such as straight text. So I switched to Twitter. I gave myself awhile to get used to it and now I love it. Though I'm not likely to follow thousands of people, since that would mean spending all of my time on Twitter and I'm not ready to make that commitment, I do welcoem additional followers. If you have read this blog for awhile, this is the type of content I'll post, along with other personal musings and such. For those wondering, I'm not using any sort of Twitter client to put posts up, other than the good old WWW and my cell phone to send texts though. I've heard and read about numerous programs, but am reluctant to tie myself to a specific program that can only be used on one platform. Of course, I say that, and then I'll go off and pick up a certain program; oh well, go figure. I am following some interesting peopel and businesses including, among others: Google, Southwest Airlines, Audible, and various people in the tech industry. Anyway, My Twitter page is at:
http://www.twitter.com/wcmerritt
Currently it's public, but that could also change if the mood suits me. I didn't know how much I'd get into Twitter, always having some skepticism, but have really enjoyed putting things up and watching things from other people. Thogh Facebook may offer more tools to stay connected and have fun, Twitter's simple interface and one question, of "What are you doing?" are fine for me. I'll still put things up here on the blog, but updates may decrease over time. Anyway, see you on Twitter or whatever social networking site you prefer. One more thing: if you do sign up for Twitter, there is a visual verification you have to enter, but Twitter does offer an audio solution for those that need it. There is an audio solution on Facebook, but only if you're using the main FB site, not if you're using FB Mobile. After you sign up with Twitter, there's no code to enter each time you post, which is great! Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 30

Streaming and description of Rose Bowl Parade

Greetings. I received the following note from ACB Radio. Though no connecting address is given, I expect that to listen you would just go to the ACB Radio Home Page and find the link for the ACB Radio World channel. I think they're doing this because there will be blind students from the Ohio School for the Blind in the parade as one of the many marching bands. Hopefully this streaming event will work out much better than the presidential innauguration from January of this year. In any case, enjoy.

***

Hi all,

It is with great pleasure to let you know that ACB Radio will be streaming the Rose Bowl Parade on January 1, 2010.

The coverage will begin at 15:30 UTC which is 10:30 A.M eastern and 7:30 A.M pacific.

The coverage will be streamed on ACB Radio world.

Ken Metz will be providing the coverage from the home & garden TV booth.

Also there will be full audio description provided on the stream so you won't miss a single movement in the parade!

So mark your calendars!

Date: Friday January 1, 2010.
Start time: 15:30 UTC 10:30 A.M eastern and 7:30 A.M pacific.

Where: ACB Radio World

Hope to see you there!

Larry Turnbull
ACB Radio Managing Director

Thursday, December 17

Reflections since 2000

Greetings. This is usually the time of year when I put up my year end reflections. This time though, I thought I’d do something a little different. Since we’re coming to the end of the first decade of the 2,000’s, I thought I’d do a review of some of the changes in technology between 2000 and 2009. Perhaps we can use some of these as a gage for what will come in the next 10 years. I’m sure I’m going to miss some things here so forgive me in advance.

Screen readers: The last 10 years has seen more screen readers being developed for blind users, and ones that can run on a portable USB flash/thumb/pin drive, to ones that can run from a simple website. You no longer have to be tied to an actual computer to use a screen reader. Now, when I go to my parent’s house, I can bring up a web based screen reader and have instant access to their computer, rather than waiting for them to purchase an expensive screen reader and leave it on their system for the few times that I might visit them during the year.

Notetakers: Before the year 2000, there were a few note taking devices on the blindness market, but mainly from one company. In 2000, the BrailleNote was introduced and in 2003 the PAC Mate was brought into being. Fast forward a few years and we have a range of different note taking devices in various forms and with similar abilities, some with and some without Braille displays; some using Qwerty (computer style) and some using Perkins (Braille style) keyboards; and some that have specific functions and other that have more general functions. In other words, the blind user now has lots more choice. Some newer notetakers even have built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth access, which makes getting connected to the web in order to browse websites or send/receive email lots easier. Add to that the mainstream laptops and mini-laptops, known as netbooks, that have become very popular in the last couple of years. In the beginning of this year alone perhaps 1 person I worked with had a netbook. Now though, aside from me there’s an additional 5 or 6 other people I know that have and use netbooks for greater portability. This particular portion of the tech industry, the netbooks and notetakers, will be interesting to watch over the next 2-5 years to see how they shake out.

Book reading: Before year 2000, blind people read books on their computers, in Braille, or on tape. Now though there are a number of different options, including for lack of a better phrase, the portable book reader, such as the Victor Reader Stream and Booksense, among several others. In fact, after the Stream came out in 2007 and it was seen how popular such a device was, several more devices have come out with the ability to read books, listen to music, play audio books, read different types of files (such as Word documents, text, HTML, and others), and do other things. To be fair, there were a couple of devices around that could read those types of files and other material, but they were old and out dated. In fact, one of them, the Book Port, was initially promised to have new life, but the update project for it was shelved after about 6 months in 2008 I believe. At any rate, information and entertainment has really grown in leaps and bounds as far as portability.

I can’t talk about books and portability without mentioning the work of the national Library Service (NLS). In 2000, they started their Web Braille program, where the user could download a growing collection of books and magazines in Braille formatted files. In 2007, they began officially testing a similar download service for their many audio books. That collection began with around 7,000 books, and now numbers around 16,500 books, and is growing nearly every week. Thanks to funding from Congress, the digital talking book is here and here to stay!

Cell phones: Here’s an area that’s affected everyone, blind or not. However, until around 2002, the blind did not have ready access to such devices. Sure, you could dial a number, but that quickly lost some luster when compared with all the things that your friends and colleagues could do on their phones, such as text message, take pictures, manage contacts and calendar appointments, view call logs, and much more. Then, in 2002, the Talks screen reader was created and announced that it would work with a couple of Nokia phone models. Though it’s taken a few years to get rolling, now true phone accessibility is becoming more of a forethought rather than an afterthought with many manufacturers. With some providers such as Verizon, there are even some phones that you can buy off the shelf that have built in accessibility that are increasingly allowing greater access. Perhaps not at the level of Talks, but we’re getting there. Of course I can’t talk about phone access without mentioning Apple and the work that they’ve been doing with making phones more accessible, and phones with touch screens o less. Say what you want about a touch screen accessible phone, the fact that this is now an option for the blind user, and that having a screen reader on such a phone, is a great sign of things to come. Talk about built in accessibility.

The WWW: Okay, so that’ a broad category, but just think about how many different web services have gained usage in the broader population over the past 10 years or so, such as: blogs, podcasts, social networking sites, more personalized e-commerce and shopping, staying connected, ability to use web services via your cell phone, such as texting a site for the weather or current stock quotes, among many other uses; streaming audio and video; and much, much more. Let’s not forget the growing popularity of a certain website start up that flew under the radar for a few years and quickly went from unknown to people trying to copy what they were doing and draw their users. And further, the site even added various applications that helped to change the way we work and play, such as email, shopping and bargain comparison, working with documents, spreadsheets, presentations, keeping up calendar appointments and contacts, tracking stocks and other finances, and much more. Yes, I’m speaking of Google and their many services. Google has transformed from a noun to a verb, as in, “Google it,” when someone needs to look something up. Currently, Google is even working on their own cell phone and portable netbook. That’s probably one of the big things that I’m excited about and will be closely following, to see how this whole Google Chrome operating system fills out and if it will be accessible. I suppose that might say something: am I excited about the new offering from Microsoft in Windows Seven? No, the thing that excites me is what their competitors are doing, and I’m not the only one.

Even though it's not tech related so much, technology has been affected by the next two items: the terrorist attacks of 2001, and the economic boom and eventual bust. One phrase seems appropriate here, which I've told students and friends regarding money: it's not how much money you have, but how you manage the money you have. Hopefully we can take that phrase and apply it as we go forward. Sure there will be tough times ahead, perhaps even tougher than what we're going through now in the recession/recovery. But if we can manage our money, then these times won't seem so tough when they do come. That's been my personal experience this year in the current economically tight times.

Hopefully we can take what we’ve learned from the first 10 years of the 21st century and apply it to the next 10 years. I think as we go forward, month by month and year by year, our lives will even more interlock with the web and the possibility that we’re going to be a web-based society is not too far off. Will we be to the point of talking to our kitchen appliances and having them automatically order things from the grocery store to refill current refrigerator stock? Who knows, anything’s possible.

On a personal level, this last 10 years has seen me wrap up my college career, get an unexpected job in working part time and doing something that I was meant to do and not what I thought I was going to do, find a full time job just weeks after being let go from the part time one, and really building my teaching ability and the different areas I would grow in, and even getting another Seeing Eye dog, which is something that I never thought I’d do. Not to mention starting a personal website which has grown to attract more than 7400 unique visitors, and maintaining the professional website for the White Cane Day Austin celebration. So it’s been a great year and a great last 10 years. Here’s to 10 more!

Wednesday, December 16

Booksense 2.0 preview

Greetings. I received the following announcement regarding version 2.0 for the Booksense from GW Micro. Note that if you are not able to attend the online presentation live, you will be able to download an audio file of the entire presentation soon afterwards. Enjoy.

***

Greetings,

The following event has been posted to the GW Micro Upcoming Events page:

Name: Online Presentation of BookSense 2.0 Firmware!
When: Monday, December 21, 2009
What: Online Meeting
Who: GW Micro Staff
Comments: You have been waiting for it, and now the time is finally here. BookSense 2.0 firmware is finally on its way! We have been paying close attention to many of your requests. We have been fixing stability issues and adding new and innovative features.

BookSense 2.0 will be a free software upgrade that you will be able to download from the GW Micro website. To make sure you know all about the changes, we will be having an online presentation of the changes and features at 11 A.M. Eastern time. Version 2.0 will be made available immediately after the presentation, so that you can find out about all of the new features, and then download the software to try them out. We know you will be tempted to call to try to get a sneak peak at the new firmware, but be patient, and next Monday will arrive before you know it.

Space is limited, so you will need to register. This meeting is for U.S. customers only, since GW Micro can only sell the BookSense in the U.S. You can register by sending an email to Drew Markley at
drew@gwmicro.com
You will need to include your first and last name, as well as your email address. A spot in the presentation will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis. If you will not be able to attend, please do not register to leave space for others. We will also be recording the presentation, so you will also be able to download it from our website.

See you Monday at 11 A.M. Eastern time!

Jeremy Curry
Director of Training
GW Micro, Inc.

Monday, November 30

Minor Talks update released

Greetings. I received this from a friend. Below is news about the current minor update for the Talks and Zooms software for many Nokia cell phones. There doesn't look to be anything major in this release, but I'll probably update anyway just on principle. Read below to see the release notes and what's been fixed or changed and other information. This update should only be made to 3rd edition phones. Enjoy.

***

Dear All,

Now available for download from the TalkNav FTP site;

http://www.talknav.com/downloads/3rd%20Edition%20Handsets

Nuance Talks & Zooms version v4.11.3, note that this is only an update for
3rd edition handsets.

The release notes follow:
TALKS&ZOOMS Version 4.11 - Release Notification


1. Introduction

We proudly announce the release of the Nuance Accessibility Suite - Nuance
TALKS and Nuance ZOOMS - Version 4.11 for Series 60 3^rd Edition for
November 30^th , 2009.

This version includes an updated version of Eloquence (6.1.123) that can be
used on all phones. In particular, it /must/ be used on all phones with
noise-cancelling audio (e.g. Nokia E52), or crashes will occur when trying
to make a call.

Version 4.11 is a free upgrade for all Premium Edition licenses generated
after November 13th, 2007.


2. The new handsets


2.1. Changes to the list of supported phone models

The following handsets are newly supported (please see section 4 "Known
Issues" about some limitations):

* Nokia E52
* Nokia 6710 Navigator
* Nokia 6720 classic
* Nokia 6730 classic
* Nokia 6790 Surge

We also assume the Nokia 5630 XpressMusic, E55 and E72 to work without
major problems. However we have not got enough test results yet to
definitely confirm this.


3. What's New?

This section lists the improvements of TALKS 4.11 compared to the
previous version (4.10).

* Eloquence is switched to 8kHz on E52,E72,6710,6720,6730,5630,E55
to prevent crashes (only works with Eloquence 6.1.123 or later)
* Fixed occasional speech cutouts on E52, e.g. when moving through
menus
* Improved support of new web browser (found for example on E52, N86):
o Page title is now read (after "Page has xxx links"),
o Support for continuous reading of web page on [Talks],[Down]
o Pressing [Select] on an Edit field in a web page opens a
pop-up to allow entering text, which was not possible in
previous versions of TALKS.
o Fixed "Type error" when exiting some text fields on a web page
o Fixed cases where pressing digit in browser would not
execute TALKS quick key
* Browser: "Find next link" now also stops at buttons with type
"button" (rather than "submit")
* Fixed: keyboard echo would fail after the 4th digit when dialing a
phone number on a US-variant firmware
* Fixed incorrect item count in Calendar for todos/anniversaries and
entries with long descriptions
* Fixed: When using "*" to cycle through the list of words offered
by T9, changes in the softkeys (e.g. "Spell") are no longer
announced (since TALKS 4.0)
* TTS can be chosen again before a license key has been entered
(like TALKS 4.0 and earlier)
* Nokia 6121,6124: fixed model detection for edit field workaround
in browser
* Dictionary: fixed hangs caused by replaced text (typically in
Arabic) with non-printing characters


4. Known Issues on specific handsets

. Not all icons are labelled on newer phones, so some status indicators,
like 3G or GPRS, may not be read in all situations.

. 3rd Edition (FP1 and FP2): "Search" application is not supported.

. Nokia E52, E66, E71, E75: The new calendar application is not yet
supported.

. 3rd Edition FP2: Some status indicators (e.g. Bluetooth) cannot be
read while the phone keyboard is locked.

. 3rd Edition FP2: Built-in Help screens are not read because they use
the web browser in a way that is not yet supported by TALKS.

. 3rd Edition FP2: You will notice a slow response of voice recognition
"beep" after holding [Key 2] when TALKS is not muted

. E75: When using ZOOMS, moving around the screen by holding down the
cursor keys is currently not possible. The magnified portion of the
screen always follows the current focus position.

. N96: "Photos" application (and "Photos" submenu of "Gallery") is not
supported.

. N96: Daisy2Go does not support firmware versions prior to 20.x of this
phone. This is expected to be fixed by a future firmware update.

. Nokia N86, E72, E75: The e-mail application is not accessible with TALKS.


5. FAQ

Q: Your software does not install on my E-Series handset or branded
device, and reports a Certificate Error! Why?
A: While TALKS&ZOOMS for S60 3^rd Edition itself is certified, and thus
can be installed on any supported S60 3^rd Edition handset, the
installers for the TTS engines (Eloquence or RealSpeak Mobile) are not
signed. E-Series handsets and some branded devices do only accept the
installation of signed software, unless you turn of the corresponding
option inside the Application Manager:

. Open the phone menu.

. Open the App. Manager inside the Tools folder

. Press "Options", then select "Settings".

. Set "Software Installation" from "Signed only" to "All".

. Press "Back" to close the Settings dialogue, then "Exit" to close the
App. Manager.

. Now, you can install the TTS engine.

Another reason could be that the date on your phone is not set correctly
- as 3^rd Edition software is digitally signed, SIS files can only be
installed if the phone is set to a valid date.

Q: Can I install the new release of TALKS&ZOOMS, while a previous
release is active?

A: Yes, if the new version is installed to the same memory location as
the previous release. If you would like to change the memory location,
you have to remove the previous release first!

Q: Why do I get an "Upgrade error" when installing the S60 3^rd Edition
version?

A: The most likely reasons are that you have used a beta release, or
already have the Nokia TTS driver available that was installed as a
separate file with version 3.10. Please remove any beta version, as well
as the Nokia TTS driver or the Nuance Speech2Go Reader application,
before upgrading to TALKS 4.10.

Saturday, November 21

Seeing Eye honored in Congress

Greetings. I received the following note from the Seeing Eye. Now this is cool! Enjoy.

***

On Tuesday, November 17, 2009, U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen stood before Congress to enter a proclamation of appreciation to The Seeing Eye into the Congressional Record. Rep. Frelinghuysen is the Congressional representative of the district that includes Morristown, N.J. His kind remarks, which follow, reflect his history of support for our organization, including attending the dedication of the Morris Frank Park and sculpture in 2005. His remarks follow:

SPEECH OF HON. RODNEY P. FRELINGHUYSEN OF NEW JERSEY IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2009

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor the very dedicated employees, volunteers, and graduates of The Seeing Eye in Morristown, New Jersey, on their 80 years of service.

Dorothy Harrison Eustis and Morris Frank had a dream to make the world completely accessible to the blind and visually impaired, and in 1929, The Seeing Eye was established to make their dream a reality. Since its inception, The Seeing Eye has enhanced the independence and self-confidence of the blind and visually impaired.

The Seeing Eye pioneered the use of dogs to guide the blind, and today, the organization has successfully trained over 15,000 Seeing Eye dogs and matched them with more than 8,000 blind or visually impaired owners. Additionally, many area families have volunteered to rear generations of Seeing Eye puppies--nurturing them to accomplish their special destiny.

Twelve times every year, up to 24 visually impaired students from the United States and Canada come to Morristown to enter a twenty-seven day instructional program and are matched with a dog. The instruction includes traveling through high traffic and residential streets, shopping malls, and bus routes. Upon the completion of the program, the graduates are able to safely navigate their hometowns with the support of their Seeing Eye dogs.

In fact, most every day on Morristown streets, The Seeing Eye trainers, students and their remarkable dogs can be seen training where pedestrians and drivers alike respect their presence. The Seeing Eye also provides follow-up care and even visit graduates' homes to aid them in adjusting to their new accessibility to their environments.

Today, The Seeing Eye is a pioneer in canine genetics and medical research. It also advocates for the concerns of those with visual impairments--such as pedestrian safety and the dangers of quiet cars--by working with legislators, writing letters on behalf of those experiencing discrimination, and researching technologies to make crosswalks safer.

Madam Speaker, for the past 80 years, The Seeing Eye has provided an unprecedented service to the blind and visually impaired community, and I hope it can continue its invaluable service for many years to come. I urge you, Madam Speaker, and my colleagues to join me in congratulating all of those involved with The Seeing Eye on its 80th Anniversary.

Tuesday, November 10

ACB Radio premiers new product

Greetings. I received the following announcement in my email earlier. Those in the blindness community who are also into AT have doubtless been seeign announcements and emails from HumanWare regarding a new product. Though the official word is expected to be tomorrow on November 11, ACB Radio will have a show this Friday night all about this new product. Read on for details on the live show, but unfortunately not what the product is going to be. It sounds like you will want to listen to the show live or download the podcast later though. Enjoy.

***

ACB Radio is proud to announce a special live event where you will learn about a
fabulous new product being launched by HumanWare. Read on and be a part of the live, call-in event!

what is it? Well, something great has just become smaller and better!
HumanWare is soon to launch an exciting new product. Is it a new DAISY player? A new Braille device? A new
scanning or low vision aid?

We can only tell you that the device is small enough to be inserted into a #1 size envelope.

Be among the first to find out about one of the most exciting products to be announced.

And, you'll hear about it first on ACB Radio Mainstream, just after Main Menu! Pass it on and tell your friends! It's way cool and worth hearing about!

when: Friday, November 13 at 9 PM Eastern, 6 Pacific; that's Saturday morning at 2 UTC.
ACB Radio's Marlaina will host this exciting program, and have as her guest
Matthew Janausauskas, HumanWare's Technical Support Manager.

Marlaina and Matthew will take your calls at 866 666 7926.

Remember, you'll hear it first on ACB Radio Mainstream, just after Main Menu.

So, join Marlaina and Matthew on Friday the 13th! It could be your lucky day!

To listen to the program on November 13 at 9 PM Eastern and 6 PM Pacific, point your browser to:
http://www.acbradio.org/mainstream

This is an event you will not want to miss!

Larry Turnbull
ACBRadio Managing Director

Google offers free Wi-Fi for the holidays

Greetings. I found this in my daily round of blogs, feeds and other such posts. Google is offering free Wi-Fi in airports across the country from now until mid January. Looking down the list, I was pleased to see my home airport of Austin on the list, along with several other Texas airports. No Dallas Lovefield unfortunately, but oh well. To read more about this or see the full list of airports, go to the following address and enjoy: http://www.freeholidaywifi.com

Monday, November 9

Google accessibility user study

Greetings. Those interested in perhaps participating in the Google Accessibility user study should go to the following address: http://bit.ly/1DJin

I have no additional information on the study other than what's there. After I filled out the form, the resulting page said that due to the high number of responses, that they may not take everyone but I would be contacted if I were selected. Since Google, along with other tech companies, have only recently started looking into making their products more accessible, anytime you get the chance to participate in said studies, grab them by the horns! Enjoy.

Saturday, November 7

Review of Microsoft Security Essentials

Greetings. Though this software has been out for a month or two, it's getting great reviews and showing good promise. If you're hesitant about trying it or currently using paid security software and want to see how MSE stacks up against competition, then check out this review from Ars Technica called First look: Microsoft Security Essentials impresses. To hear a review of the Microsoft Security Essentials software (direct MP3 download) then check out this podcast from Mary Emmerson. I've put this free software on my netbook and am considering doing the same with my Windows Vista home PC. Read the review to find out why. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 3

Seeing Eye hits matching milestone

Greetings. I received the following note from The Seeing Eye. AS is mentioned by the organization's president, it's not how many dogs have been matched, but rather the level of service that the organization gives to each match. While matching 15,000 dogs is certainly something to be proud of, that 15,000th team will get the same level of service and care from The Seeing Eye as the first 10 matches did oh so long ago. Enjoy.

***

The Seeing Eye Forges 15,000th Partnership for Independence

MORRISTOWN, N.J. – The Seeing Eye, the pioneer and innovator of dog guide services for people who are blind, announces its 15,000th partnership between human and canine ... Dr. Josephine DeFini of New York City and a black Labrador retriever named Zion.

The philanthropic organization celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, making this particular milestone especially meaningful. Zion is the ninth Seeing Eye® dog for Dr. DeFini, who has traveled through the past 52 years being led by these specially bred and trained canines.

"I can't show The Seeing Eye enough appreciation for what they've done for me," said Dr. DeFini. "Every time I return to The Seeing Eye, it's like a whole new experience because it's such a forward-thinking organization. They're always looking to make the training better, enhancing the ease with which a person with a visual impairment can enjoy movement and freedom."

A lifelong resident of New York City, Dr. DeFini returned home with Zion in September and already is back to her active life, traveling through the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. After retiring earlier this year from a career as a social worker and psychotherapist (most recently with Lighthouse International), she continues a small private practice.

Her experience as a Seeing Eye dog user is special, to be sure, but not at all unique. "Multiply the success of this new partnership by 15,000, and you begin to understand the magnitude of the impact made possible by all those who have supported our mission for the past 80 years," said Seeing Eye President & CEO Jim Kutsch. "In fact, the 15,000th dog is really no different than number 14,999. Our promise is the same for all of our graduates – to provide ongoing support and commitment to them by providing the best dog guides in the world."

Since her stay at The Seeing Eye campus in Morristown, N.J., where she trained with Zion, the team has been all over New York City, including regular trips to her Pilates class. "I can get to all those places with a cane, but it's the ease and confidence that's so different with a dog. After the experience of not having a dog for six months, I've regained my self-confidence and ease of movement."

The Seeing Eye is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, bequests, and other planned gifts. The Seeing Eye is a trademarked name and can only be used to describe the dogs bred and trained at the school's facilities in Morristown, N.J.

Monday, November 2

Not sure how much I'll get into it. My students keep requesting it so here I am.
Created a Facebook account today. Now if I can learn how to use it.

Friday, October 30

NAGDU phone conference on dog guides in healthcare facilities

Greetings. I received this information for a phone conference/seminar that the National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU) is putting on in late November. I'm posting it now so those interested can register for this free event. Registration is limited from what I hear so act soon. Read on for more details.

***

National Association of Guide Dog Users
National Federation of the Blind
October 27, 2009

Guide Dogs in Hospitals & Other Health Care Facilities

What are your rights as a guide dog user when visiting family or friends in the hospital? As a patient, do you have the right to have your dog in the room with you? Are there places or conditions in which you can be restricted from being accompanied by your guide dog? Can your doctor deny you the right to have your guide dog with you in an examination room? Can an ambulance refuse to transport your guide dog with you? These questions and many more will be answered in an upcoming special teleseminar.

The National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU), a strong and proud division of the National Federation of the Blind, will host "Guide Dogs in Hospitals & Other Health Care Facilities" on Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. eastern standard Time (7:00 pm Central; 6:00 pm Mountain; and 5:00 pm Pacific). This teleseminar is absolutely free; however reservations are required. Participation is limited and is on a first come first served basis.

In order to reserve your space in this teleseminar, please send your name, city & state, and your email address by Friday, November 20, 2009 to

President@NFB-NAGDU.ORG

An email confirmation with the call-in number and access codes will be sent to you. Those without email access or who would like more information may call 813-626-2789.

The information provided during this teleseminar is intended as informal guidance only and should not be construed as legal advice. The National Association of Guide Dog Users, the National Federation of the Blind, or any of its affiliates, divisions, or chapters will not be responsible for any telephone charges or fees that may be incurred as the result of participation in this seminar. For more information about the National Association of Guide Dog Users, the National Federation of the Blind, or to locate a Chapter in your area, you may visit the following websites:

National Association of Guide Dog Users
HTTP://NFB-NAGDU.ORG


National Federation of the Blind
HTTP://NFB.ORG


The National Federation of the Blind is changing what it means to be blind!

Security update for JAWS 10

Greetings. I've been meaning to post this from earlier this week but haven't gotten to it until now. Below is information on a security update that has been released for JAWS version 10. Note that this is very similar to the update put out for JAWS 11 last week. If you use a computer that you have to log into, or have a computer with multiple users, then you'll want to get this update. Below is more information about the update from Eric Damery of Freedom Scientific. Enjoy.

*Additional note*: The same security update has been made available for JAWS 9.

***

All,

Last Friday, we released an update for the JAWS 11 Release that came out
on October 19th. These same changes have now been rolled into an update
for JAWS 10 and we have released an update for JAWS 10 as a result.

If a users has JAWS 10 installed today, and does a check for updates,
they will get this security update now. Alternatively, if they go to the
Freedom Scientific Download page for JAWS, they will find the full JAWS
10 English version is now version 10.0.1167 and this build contains the
security update already. If you download this and install over top of a
previously installed JAWS 10, the update is applied.

Regards,
Eric Damery
Vice President, Software Product Management
Freedom Scientific Inc.

Tuesday, October 27

Remembering Ed Eames

Greetings. A few days ago, the world lost a great champion for the rights of the blind and otherwise disabled, and even more important, the rights of guide/service dog users. This article in the Fresno Bee really sums up the life and contributions of Ed Eames. Ed Eames fought for rights of disabled. Farewell Ed; you contributed and you will be missed.

Monday, October 26

JAWS 11 security update

Greetings. Here's information on the JAWS 11 security update released late last week after the initial JAWS 11 version. What the information below does not say is that you can either run the Check for Updates feature in the Help menu of the JAWS window to retrieve the update, or download it from the FS site. This was taken from an email to the Gui-Talk email list. Enjoy.

***

Hi all,

There has been some discussion lately about a security hole found in
Jaws 11 and also in Windows. For a lot of you this will not be an issue
and you probably won't need this update. If any of the following applies
to you then you should download and install this update:

1. You are running a copy of windows and need a password to log in.

2. You're running a system with more than 1 user and any or all of those
users have restricted access.

3. You only have 1 user but that user has restricted access.

For anyone else you probably won't need to worry too much about this.
It's not something that anyone who's not physically sitting at your
computer can take advantage of.

For those people waiting to get the cd before you update you will get
the version with the fix included. You won't need to download it
separately.

Sunday, October 25

Removing the U3 LaunchPad tool from a SanDisk USB flash drive

Greetings. To get rid of the annoying U3 LaunchPad tool, click this link to read the steps for removing the SanDisk U3 LaunchPad from your USB flash drive. If you're going to use the S.A. to Go software on your drive, you might not want to do this. However, keeping the U3 software on the drive can be annoying since it causes the computer to become sluggish while the software loads, whenever you plug the drive into a computer. This page, which is apart of the forum on the SanDisk site, offers easy steps to remove this software. Note that you can also activate the LaunchPad application on the drive and it will offer an option to use the drive for storage, and once chosen, this will remove the software. This forum page also gives you the option of downloading a small removal application that can remove the software for you. These SanDisk flash drives can be used on Windows XP operating systems or above. Once the software is removed, you might want to delete any associaited folders from the drive and start from scratch. This is what I have done and it makes the process easier, since I can create and put what I want on the drive, which doesn't always match the folder names they offer. Enjoy.

Great article on former CCRC student

Greetings. I found this in the Matilda Ziegler list of articles and was pleasantly surprised to read about this former Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center student. I saw her get an NFB of Texas scholarship this weekend in San Antonio in the amount of $1,500, but it appears that she is getting other scholarships and recognition out in West Texas. Watch out for this woman; she's going to make waves and changes in her world. The link is Blind Abilene woman receives scholarship help. enjoy, and go Mary!
On the bus heading back. Had another great omlet this morning.