Tuesday, March 31

New game at All inPlay

Greetings. I received the following email in my Inbox earlier. To join in the fun, visit the All inPlay website. Note that for the next 15 days, members and nonmembers alike can play this new game for free. Enjoy.


Greetings, All inPlayers,

We're happy to announce that our fifth game, Loco Locution, is officially gold. Our diligent beta testers have helped us make Loco the best it can be, and we thank all of you.

The launch of Loco also heralds the start of fifteen days of free access! That's right, in keeping with our tradition of opening the site after we release a title, we're busting open the doors of Allinplay.com for a fifteen-day free period starting today. Anyone can jump on and play free through April 15, so tell your friends!

Not only that, get ready for a Loco weekend! We'll host two tournaments as follows:
On Friday April 10, starting at 3 pm U.S. eastern, 2000 GMT, everyone is invited to play in the Loco Draw Poker tournament. Get back to the basics with 24 hours of five-card fun.

On Saturday April 11, immediately following the conclusion of the Draw Poker tourney, we'll up the ante with 24 hours of Hold'em hysteria.

But don't worry, we won't be celebrating long. We'll be right back to work on our sixth game. And sorry, we can't tell you what it is yet, but we *can* say it's the game we get the most requests for, so keep your ears pealed!

The All inPlay Team

Stream and Companion software version 3released

Greetings. Wouldn't you know it, a prediction of when a software package was going to be released did not come true; technology. However, it's out now. Below find the emails for the VR Stream version 3 and then the newly named HumanWare Companion 3 software. I'm putting them both here for convenience, but as mentioned before, your use of the Companion software is purely optional. There are some features in the Companion that you might want to check out though. At any rate, enjoy.

***Victor Reader Stream version 3***

Dear Victor Reader Friends:

HumanWare is please to announce the release of the new Stream 3.0 software. Stream 3.0 is a major release with exciting new features and numerous usability improvements. Version 3 responds to popular requests received from many Stream customers. New features include:

- Optional 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.
- Optional 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 a subset of your music collection and limit Random play to only that portion of your music.
- Text Search. Now you can enter words to search for in your text files or text portion of DAISY books.
- A new Bookmark alert feature can be enabled to notify you when you pass over a previously bookmarked position during playback. It will even automatically announce your audio bookmarks.
- Two text-to-speech voices. The English versions will now include both a male and female text-to-speech voice.
- Optional voice label for your SD cards

Usability Improvements:
- A 30 minute Time Jump choice has been added
- Single hotkey (#9) to toggle music random play on or off
- Book title is included in the delete confirmation prompt. Also, after deletion, the next book on the bookshelf is announced.
- Press key 4 in music to repeat the current song
- Go To Percent added to Other Books and Podcasts
- Automatic removal of the UPG file after the software upgrade

and more. Please see the Release Notes for full details on the new features and instructions on how to use them.
Both the software and Release Notes can be downloaded from the Stream support page at:

Select the Software link on that page. You will find the Release Notes at the top and the English 3.0 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 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.

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 is available in English only. As other version 3 languages become available they will be posted on the same download page. We also are releasing a new version of Stream Companion which will be described in a second email.

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

***HumanWare Companion version 3***

Dear Victor Reader Friends:

HumanWare is please to announce the release of the new Stream Companion 3.0 program.

It is available for free download on the Stream support page at:

or from the ClassMate Reader support page at:

Select the software link on either of those pages. The software has been renamed to HumanWare Companion because it now supports both of the HumanWare digital talking book players: Victor Reader Stream and ClassMate Reader. The ClassMate Reader is a DAISY and MP3 player with an integral screen. It is designed for people with learning disabilities who can benefit from seeing the text displayed while listening to the corresponding audio. It also has a built-in talking dictionary and many other features designed to help people with learning or reading disabilities. To find more information about the ClassMate Reader visit:

The HumanWare Companion is a completely new program. You do not need to uninstall the previous version of Stream Companion or ClassMate Companion. Those previous programs can remain on your computer along with the new HumanWare Companion. Once you are familiar with the new HumanWare Companion, you can then remove the old Stream or ClassMate Companion using the Windows Add/Remove option of Control Panel.

To install HumanWare Companion, download the executable (EXE) file from the above link and run this file.
The new HumanWare Companion Installation procedure will ask you to select from a list of available languages. English is the default. If you are installing for the first time, you will be asked to read and accept the license. You will also be asked if you want a Complete or Custom installation. Select 'Complete' to install for the Stream. If you are using the ClassMate Reader you should select 'Custom' to allow you to customize the Companion for that player. After installation you also have the ability to change either the language or player choices using the Options item of the Companion Tools menu.

After installing, you can run the program by selecting the HumanWare Companion icon on your desktop. Note that the desktop Stream or ClassMate Companion icons will still run the old versions of those programs until you decide to uninstall them.

The HumanWare Companion is optional software to support the Stream or the ClassMate Reader. There is no need to install this software unless you need its functionality. The Companion automates the unzipping of books and creation of folders on the SD card so many people find it more convenient than Windows for transferring books and files to the SD card. The Companion also lets you convert audio note files to wav files for use on your computer. The new features and changes for version 3.0 include:

- A complete new interface using simple pull-down menus instead of former multi-page dialogs. Now there is a Transfer menu with items for each of the Stream bookshelves.
- Five less controls in the transfer dialog windows making the dialogs easier to navigate especially for keyboard users. The Refresh button has been moved to the File menu. The About and Help buttons have been moved to a Help menu. The two controls for SD space before and after the operation have been moved to the status line at the bottom of the screen.
- The options dialog of the Tools menu lets you choose the interface language from a list of available languages. You can also choose which book player (Stream or Classmate) you are using.
- A new tree view allows you to view your music by folder and/or file.
- The Options dialog of the Tools menu lets you choose to sort your book titles or file names either alphabetically or by location (path).
- You can now append to an existing playlist in the Music window.
- There are single shortcut keys for each of the bookshelf transfer windows.
- There is a Tools menu item to create the new Stream 3.0 SD card label.
- Companion now supports the new Bookshare zip format. Select the check box to include zip files in the Talking Books transfer window and your zip Bookshare books will appear in the book list. Then just check the Bookshare books you wish to transfer. Companion will request your Bookshare password, unzip your books and transfer them to your SD card.

Also, with respect to NLS download books in the United States, we are aware that the previous Companion version 2 was not transferring some NLS books properly. These issues have been corrected in Companion 3.0.
After installing the User Guide can be read by selecting the Help menu.

HumanWare hopes you enjoy the new Companion 3.0 software.

Thank you,
The HumanWare Team

Thursday, March 26

Louis Braille coin released

Greetings. I received the following announcement in my Inbox today. Enjoy.


National Federation of the Blind Celebrates
Release of the 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar
NFB Jernigan Institute Releases
Report to the Nation on Braille Literacy Crisis

Baltimore, Maryland (March 26, 2009): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind people and the leading
advocate for Braille literacy, today celebrates the release of the 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar. This historic commemorative coin, the
first-ever U.S. coin to contain tactile, readable Braille, will be launched at a special ceremony at the headquarters of the National Federation of the
Blind in Baltimore beginning at 10:00 a.m. on March 26, 2009.

The NFB Jernigan Institute, the research and training arm of the National Federation of the Blind, will also release a report to the nation on the literacy
crisis facing the blind in America. “The Braille Literacy Crisis in America: Facing the Truth, Reversing the Trend, Empowering the Blind” describes the
factors that have contributed to the shocking illiteracy rate of 90 percent among blind children and outlines steps to reverse this trend.

A portion of the money from sales of the 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar, which was authorized by a law signed by President George W. Bush
in 2006, will be used to support the NFB’s “Braille Readers are Leaders” campaign. The campaign is a national initiative created to double the number
of blind children learning Braille by 2015.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “If the blind can read, the blind can achieve. The Louis Braille Bicentennial
Silver Dollar celebrates the man who gave literacy to the blind and is a unique and beautiful keepsake, but it is also a coin with a mission: to make sure
that every blind child and every adult losing vision in our nation has the opportunity to learn Braille.”

Dr. Fredric K. Schroeder, first vice president of the National Federation of the Blind and coordinator of the NFB’s national Braille Readers are Leaders
campaign, said: “Braille is not being taught to many blind children and adults because there are myths and misconceptions surrounding the code. Braille
is said to be slow and inefficient, difficult to learn, unnecessary in light of new technology, and something that isolates blind students from their sighted
peers. But the blind know these myths to be false, and studies have shown that Braille leads to employment opportunities, independence, and self-confidence
for blind people.”

The program celebrating the launch of the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar will feature:

· The presentation of the report

· Remarks by Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind

· Remarks by Dr. Abraham Nemeth, who invented the Braille code used for mathematics and scientific notation in the United States

· Demonstrations by proficient Braille readers, including blind children

· A message from United States Senator Christopher J. Dodd, chairman of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and the sponsor of the
legislation authorizing the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar

· Ed Moy, director of the United States Mint, who will give remarks and sign certificates of authenticity

· A “Braille Fair” featuring fun activities for children and adults who want to learn about Braille

The National Federation of the Blind is asking the American public, through purchasing this stunning silver dollar, to join its campaign to bring literacy,
education, opportunity, and success to the blind of America. The Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar goes on sale to the general public at noon today.
Those interested in ordering a coin should visit
or call 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). For more information about the National Federation of the Blind and the Braille Readers are Leaders campaign, visit

Tuesday, March 24

Preview of Stream 3.0 software

Greetings. The Accessible World website has provided previews the last two weeks of the upcoming stream 3.0 software for both the Victor Reader stream and the Stream Companion. Stream version 3 should be on the web by next Monday, according to HumanWare and assuming all goes according to plan with their various last minute testing and finalizing processes. The following downloadable MP3 files cover the new features and enhancements to these different software packages. I'm putting links to both files here so as to keep them together, but one need not use the Stream Companion software if one is comfortable transferring files using the standard Windows and clipboard commands.

To download and listen to the Stream Companion version 3 software overview, go to the following address: http://accessibleworld.org/audio/download/329/tt-03-16-09.mp3

To download and listen to the Victor Reader Stream version 3overview of new features and enhancements, go to this address: http://accessibleworld.org/audio/download/331/tt-03-23-09.mp3

Both of these software releases look to offer some really cool new features and enhancements. On the Stream Companion side, instead of a multipage dialog like you had in prior versions, the interface of the program has been redone to reflect a tree view and the typical Windows menu bar, with plenty of hot keys and other selections to make performing a transfer to or from the stream very easy. On the Stream version 3.0 side, this release builds on prior releases in the folder and subfolder structure, which more aligns the Stream with Windows concepts that are familiar to everyone. There are lots of other features in Stream version 3 that are really exciting. For instance, being able to organize one's music such that each artist and associated albums are in one folder group, and being able to only play random selections in that one group for that one artist. When I initially heard of the changes to the music bookshelf, I wasn't that impressed. However, after hearing them demonstrated, well, let's just say that I've changed my mind on those enhancements. Bookmark notification, easier navigation among folders in several of the bookshelves, and other things also jump out at me from this new release. One nifty improvement that's more of a convenience change than anything is that after you update the Stream to version 3, the next time you power it on, it will automatically detect that you've already done the update, and thus remove the update file. This is a timesaver since before, you would have had to go back and remove the file before starting to use the new version, lest you update the Stream each time you turn it on. Again, not critical, but nifty all the same. The same idea applies for those new users of the NLS Digital Talking Book Pilot Program, when they install the user key, the Stream will remove it after the unit is turned on the next time. I see this as a good thing for new Stream users since they don't have to go back and remove that file later before starting to use their Streams. Over all, this looks to be a great release for anyone from the serious student in college or other school environment, the music lover, or the person who simply loves their Stream and wants to use it to its fullest potential. It's going to take a lot for Stream competitors to match what the Stream has done for the blind community.

one big thing that did not make it into this release, and it doesn't sound like it will ever make the Stream is the playing of digitally protected Windows Media content. Apparently, in order to do this, the stream would need to have a clock. So it doesn't look like this is going to happen on this device. Time will tell if another Victor Reader from HumanWare or another device altogether will be able to do this. Watch the Stream newswire next week for the announcement of the new versions and related documentation. I'll post the announcement here as well. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 18

Keysoft 7.5 update

Greetings. I don't usually post updates, unless they're major ones, for the BrailleNote line of products here. However, I'm doing it today because I know a lot of people use BookShare and this update mainly addresses the new zip file archives from the new BookShare site. Plus, there's some other things in here that a BrailleNote owner/enthusiast might like. I received this information from the GUI-Talk email list. enjoy.


Longueuil, Quebec, March 18 2009 -- KeySoft 7.5, Build 31 for the BrailleNote mPower, BrailleNote Classic and BrailleNote PK has been released today.

In January 2009 Bookshare updated their web site offering members a number of benefits including a change from their proprietary decompression technology, (the unpack tool), to the industry standard unzip technology. This change temporarily interrupted access to Bookshare books using the BrailleNote family of products. From Bookshare member feedback and comments we recognized the importance of this access and are releasing this free update that fixes the ability to download and unzip books to current users of KeySoft 7.5.

For users of the BrailleNote PK and Classic we have also taken the opportunity to correct the error associated with scheduling an appointment, and the failure in some circumstances to retain words added to the spelling dictionary that were corrected for mPower users in Build 29. For PK users the long term issue of sometimes losing speech has been identified and corrected.

Please read the file "Release Note for KeySoft 7.5 Build 31" for further tips on using the Bookshare site with your BrailleNote.

We encourage existing KeySoft 7.5 users to take advantage of this important Bookshare access update as the Development Team finalizes the release of KeySoft 8.0.

Installation Notes:

BrailleNote mPower

Users upgrading their mPower from an earlier version of KeySoft 7.5 do not have to download and re-install the 7.5 Product Key. Users installing KeySoft 7.5 for the first time will need to obtain a Product key. The following brief instructions apply to those Users who are already running KeySoft 7.5 on their mPower.

Simply download the new Bin file from the KeySoft 7.5 Upgrade page, using the link "KeySoft 7.5 mPower Download".

Save the Bin file to a correctly prepared SD card. This card must be 512mB or less in capacity. Insert the card in the mPower, connect the AC Adapter, and perform a Reset with dots 4-5 held down. The upgrade process will then begin. Do not remove the AC adapter or press Reset during the upgrade process.

BrailleNote Classic

Users upgrading their Classic from an earlier version of KeySoft 7.5 do not have to download and re-install the 7.5 Product Key. Users installing KeySoft 7.5 for the first time will need to obtain a Product key. The following brief instructions apply to those Users who are already running KeySoft 7.5 on their Classic.

Simply download the new Bin file from the KeySoft 7.5 Upgrade page, using the link "KeySoft 7.5 Classic Download".

Save the Bin file to a Compact Flash card. Connect the AC Adapter, and perform a Reset with dots 4-5 held down. The upgrade process will then begin. Do not remove the AC adapter or press Reset during the upgrade process.

BrailleNote PK

The following brief instructions apply to PK Users.

Download the correct version of the BrailleNote PK Upgrader, using the link "BrailleNote PK Upgrader".

Download the new NB0 file from the KeySoft 7.5 Upgrade page, using the link "KeySoft 7.5 BrailleNote PK Download".

Save both files to a Compact Flash card. Connect the AC Adapter, and run the "BrailleNote PK Upgrade.exe" using the Utilities Menu, Application Program option. The upgrade process will then begin. Do not remove the AC adapter or press Reset during the upgrade process.

KeySoft 7.5 upgrade page:

Tuesday, March 17

Stream 3.0 announced

Greetings. I received the following note from HumanWare today regarding version 3of the Stream. From the brief list of new features, it looks like they've made a genuine effort to appease those looking for music improvements and those looking for other improvements. While I can appreciate the music enhancements, I don't just have the Stream to play music, but rather to listen to books and play other kinds of files. Though I know people who do have the Stream just for playing music. If you want to do that, why not get an iPod? Oh well, to each his/her own I suppose. One particular feature that looks good to me right off is a bookmark notification when reading a book or file. I've increasingly used more and more bookmarks in my books and files, so this will be helpful. Anyway, read on for details of Stream version 3. It looks like it should be ready for download by the end of March, which is good. This will make 9 months between version 2 and version 3. Pretty good in my book. Enjoy.


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

Sunday, March 15

Still kicking ass after all these years

Gretings. For those offended by the title of this post, you might want to skip this entry. For others, keep reading.

Metallica is my other fave band of all time. True, the pair of Petra and Metallica doesn't necessarily fit, at least when put together, but they each have their place in my world. Petra has brought me closer to God, and Metallica has (no, not what you're thinking), helped me cope with reality. No, I'm not doing drugs or anything like that. However, for lack of better phrasing, when your blind/disabled, you need some way of dealing with the mass of stupid people, or those that ask questions such as, "How do you get around campus without going up steps," or the ever popular, "Do you read lips?" Okay, to be truthful, I wasn't asked this second one directly, but a friend of mine was. Anyway, with all the daily stress you got from a job, boss, paperwork, etc., there needs to be an outlet for that stress. Or, in my case, for the dealing with stupid or "misinformed" or "ignorant" people. Metallica has filled that void perfectly. So far, they've been the only group to relieve that stress. There's nothing like putting on headphones, raising the volume, and jamming to Metallica to fulfill that need for satisfaction. Along with playing some truly awesome songs over their history, they've also helped me to calm down after a stresfull confrontation, whether it be with a "stupid" person, a coworker, or a family member. Yes, even family can bring stress.

They've also seen me through my recent training at The Seeing Eye. Many times while waiting for my instructor to come back with another student, I was jamming to Metallica, listening to a CD in the van's stereo and jacking the volume up to, well, loud. Or loud for me. I don't usually blast my stereo, but it's something I've started doing more of with the Sirius Satellite radio, and something I started doing more often in that Seeing Eye van. I often wondered if my fellow students and other instructors would bring this fact up to me at other times in class, saying that they could hear the music from down the block, but I didn't really care. No one ever did by the way, not that it would have mattered. I especially enjoy live cuts, and when the cut of "Cyanide" came on, as performed at Oz Fest last year, well, let's just say that those were times when you probably could have heard the CD from down the block. If you were to pass by the van at that point, which some people did, you would have seen me "head banging," bouncing up and down and I'm sure causing Gucci my new guide to look at me with quisical looks, wondering what I was up to. Those were fun times and ones that I'll always remember fondly.

Oddly enough, my first 'Tallica tape wasn't bought till about 10 years ago when I got the "Black" album that came out in 1991. I really burned that tape up, especially in the dorm at college. I especially enjoyed cranking the songs "Of Wold and Man" and "Through the Never." My first Metallica CD was the S&M double live album in the fall of 1999. I probably scored a little lower on my final exams that semester due to the listening that I did.

Favorite Metallica album: I've been going over this for the past day or so and can't really come up with anything, at least if we go by the criteria of loving each song and being able to listen to each song an infinite number of times without getting tired of it. For Metallica, I need to slightly alter the criteria to be: loving almost every song, since it seems like there's one or two songs I could point to on many of their albums that I could listen to in a pinch, but I really don't like all that much. In other words, if there's nothing else on the radio, then I'll listen to them, but I also won't go looking for these tunes to hear either. So, if that's the criteria, then my fave albums, in no particular order would be: "Death Magnetic," "... And Justice for All," and "Master of Puppets." If "unforgiven III" wasn't on the Magnetic album, then it would be perfect. Not only does it sound lesser than I know they can do, it doesn't even fit the pattern of the first two Unforgiven songs, in style or melody. But it's stil in that group of fave discs.

I've never been to a "live" Metallica show, preferring to live through their own live recordings, on the Live Sh*t disc and the recent incarnation of the Live Metallica site, where you can purchase shows and download them for a nominal fee for your listening pleasure. I'd love to go to a 'Tallica show someday, but for me, whenever I've contemplated going to a show my first problem has always been how will I get there, who can I get to go with, and that's where the desire stops since in my past that would involve having to justify going on a school night or asking a family member, none of whom, except maybe one of my brothers, would even entertain that notion.

In some instances, I love the recorded versions of songs better than the studio versions. The first two Metallica albums fit in this category. Aside from a few songs, like "Fade to Black," "For Whom the Bell Tolls," and one or two others, I really can't listen to those records. However, I absolutely love hearing those songs played live. There's just a certain quality of the live song that you don't get with the recorded one. Perhaps it's that you can hear more of the band's style when they play live; perhaps it's that James interacts with the audience, which gives a special feel to it; or, perhaps it's because it seems like live songs are played faster than their studio counterparts. Whatever the reason, I love the live songs. I read the book, "Slash," by Slash from the former Guns N' Roses superpower in the late eighties and early nineties, and according to him, he said that you can tell more of what a band's like by how they play songs live. I scoffed at that when I read it, but upon reflection and listening to some Guns' songs I have live and some Metallica songs, it makes sense. There's just something about hearing a good live recording, not one where the crowd noise is piped in for affect, or where the lead singer says something generic between songs like, "How's everybody feel?" But one where you can hear how the band fits together and why they're together.

I first heard Metallica on the now discontinued rock music network known as Z-Rock, when they were playing the "Black" album. Hearing "Sad But True" was the song that did it for me. So heavy, but so groovy; it had a slow melodic rhythm that jumped out at me and drew me in. That was the song that I had the thought of, "I've got to check this group out," which I did, slowly over time. Around 1992 or 93, the local rock station in Dallas, 97.1 The Eagle, started something that they did for at least 18-24 months, each night at 11 or midnight, they would play 20-30 minutes of nothing but Metallica, calling it "Manditory Metallica." This is where I really got familiar with the body of work up until that date. In 1997, the Eagle was part of the group of stations nationwide that airred a live question and answer session with Metallica and where the band played certain songs in acoustic form, for several hours one night. I also remember when "Enter Sandman" was big, and you even heard it on the local top 40 station, all be it in a slightly editted and shortened form. It was shortened I believe not so much because of any language, but because the station didn't want to be pegged as a heavy metal station. I think it even went up the top 40 weekly charts for a little while anyway, which was neat to see.

The "Black" album really changed Metallica. Sure, if they had continued in the direction they were headed in after the Justice album, then who knows where and what they might have gone and become. But, in other ways, after releasing the "Black" album in 91, they ended up drawing more fans than they might have otherwise done if they had stuck in the small metal category they were in before. Sure, there was some aspect of poppishness to some songs, like "Enter Sandman." But then again, who can argue with the heaviness of "Sad But True," or the grinding of "Holier Than Thou," and other songs that appeased the metal head. I think they carried on that more mainstream theme with Load and Reload later in the nineties, but still satisfied their core rock/metal fans. They disappointed and lost a lot of people with the "Saint Anger" record in 2003, but I think they gained those fans back, or a good portion of them anyway, with "Death Magnetic" released last year. I read earlier today that the Magnetic disc went platnum after only 3 weeks. Pretty good for an artist who lost many people with their prior record. And yet they continue touring. Any group that tours as much as Metallica doesn't do it for the money; rather, they tour because they want to play live. That's what I want to see in a group I listen to. Too many musicians do it for the money or because they "need" the money and those are the ones I dont' want to support. Metallica is one of the few groups that i'll probably keep digging even 10 years and more from now.

So here's to you Metallica; keep rocking, keep kicking ass, keep giving us great metal. Good on you for what you've done, and here's hoping that it continues for another 10-15 years, or longer.

Saturday, March 14

Petra had rocked my world

Greetings. I was listening to the radio the other day and the hosts were talking about the bands in music that had influenced them the most and that when they heard a song by said band, they thought something like, "Wow, I've got to check this out." In my life, there are two bands that fit that description, and oddly enough they come from opposite ends of the spectrum. They are Petra, the long time Christian rock band that retired in 2005, and Metallica, the still running metal band. Both of these bands have really influenced me and been an outlet for me at different times in my life, and in some cases continue to be an outlet. I've got most of the musical catelog from Petra, at least since the mid eighties on, and all from Metallica. Of the two, I've actually only been to a Petra concert, and that was their farewell show in Irving, Texas, in 2005.

My first real music tape, after you got past the "kid stuff" that was out for young Christian kids in the eighties, was from Petra. It was the album "On Fire" that someone had given to me for a birthday or other gift. I remember listening to that tape multiple times growing up. I wouldn't do this today, but I was oblivious to the danger as a kid, but I used to put the tape in my boombox and take it into the bathroom, setting it on the floor or on the toilet lid and listen to On Fire while taking a bath. Weird perhaps for a 10 year old, but I didn't care. Later, when cleaning out my "kid" tapes and tossing them, I kept the Petra one and set the tape case away in my closet. A year or two later when rummaging in the closet for something, i found that storage case and that tape, and fell in love with Petra all over again, but this time as a pre-teen who was just getting into the pre-teen musical scene, and at that time, Petra were the only band out there that was Christian and also played rock.

A couple years later, I was sitting in the cafeteria at the school for the blind's summer program for youth, when a friend and brother that I had just met put headphones over my ears and said, "Check this out." He proceeded to play the "Armed and Dangerous" album from Petra to me. I was enraptured and it was at that point that I had that thought of, "Wow, I've got to check this group out." After listening to the title track and then "I Am On The Rock," I asked him, who this group was, and to my astonishment, he said, "Petra." I replied with something like, "This is Petra? The same guys that did 'On Fire'?" I was hooked after that.

My first CD was "Unseen Power" from Petra back in 1991. I admired Petra on a number of levels, for making great songs that really rocked out; for making great softer songs that had deeper messages; for, at least after a certain point, having completely new material on all their albums, which is hard for an artist to do; and for being a great influence. It was when listening to the "Beyond Belief" album that I noticed a theme in all the songs, some sort of connection. I think that this is my all time fave Petra album, but when you've got a group that you really dig, it's hard to rate anything in a one, two, three, order.

Petra were there when I was in junior high and at the school for the blind's summer program and feeling down and missing my folks and friends. I remember going to a store one weekend and looking longingly at the "Petra Praise" album that came out in 1990 or so. I didn't buy it at the time because probably I didn't have enough money. A few days later I got a care package from home that contained that exact album. I was so blessed by that alone. I couldn't figure out if someone at the school had talked with my folks or something, but now I know that it was the Lord looking out for me. I later talked with my parents who said that they saw that in the store and thought I'd enjoy it. Boy did I. In a place where there was next to none as far as fellow believers at the summer camp experience, I burned that tape up, listening to the songs and letting them become apart of me, over and over. I had them practically memorized by the end of camp, but kept listening. In that tape, and in a tape that my junior high church group sent to me, I felt that connection wit those back home, but more importantly with the Holy Spirit and God. Those were great memories. I even got some of the other kids to listen to them to, much to their chagrin since they were probably expecting some sort of flowery group instead of this busting out rock group, considering that this was the praise tape I had been listening to. Some made fun of me for listening to that tape, but I didn't care; that tape was my answer from God and from those back home to my loneliness.

I've snuck other Petra songs into main stream society as well, such as at some of the school to work weekends that the Texas commission for the Blind's Transition program used to have, now called Division for Blind Services. Or, at a high school dance that I sent to the DJ and asked him to play. They only played one song, but I loved it. One song in the age of George Michael, Janet Jackson and other artists in the early nineties period. I remember the DJ saying something before the song, likely apologizing for what he was about to play since it was a Christian song and this still was the secular high school dance, but I soked it up all the same. I've even turned other mains tream friends through the Dallas Services program for blind teens onto petra. One guy who really got into it and, for that brief time anyway, changed his attitude and outlook on life. I don't know if he ever became a Christian, but Petra was a welcoem addition to his musical collection, which included rock stuff and top-40 for the time around 1992 or so. Come to think of it, he probably dug Petra because of their musical talent and ability, since he really got into that sort of thing, but having the added bonus of a positive message didn't hurt either.

Even today, I've got loads of Petra songs on my computer, in my Victor reader Stream, and on a USB flash drive, that I listen to while doing stuff at work. They still sound great after all these years.

So here's to Petra; for being an awesome influence on my and other people's lives, for being great musicians, and for being there when I neede you and needed God's help. I'll write a separate entry of the other influential band. Talk later.

Friday, March 13

JAWS 10 Update 1 released

Greetings. Yesterday, Freedom Scientific released JAWS 10 Update 1. This link has information on new features and the various lists of enhancements/fixes since the full version of JAWS 10 was released last fall. There really aren't any major new features to report, except that JAWS can now officially run on 64 bit operating systems, which is notable since pretty much any new computer you buy in the stores these days only comes with 64 bit. There are probably still 32 bit operating systems out there, but likely only on the Web. There are some fixes that caught my eye in the IE and Word areas, but nothing earth shattering. At any rate, for those that like to have "the latest" or if you're in a teaching/training position and need to have it, there you go. One interesting item is that this is being referred to as an "update," not a patch. It does fit the description of the usual spring patch we might see from FS though. If the last few years are any indication, there may be one more patch in a few months, and then we'll have version 11 toward the end of the year. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 12

Talks version 4 released

Greetings. Talks version 4 was released yesterday. This version contains several improvements that look interesting to me, such as the ability to have Talks speak while on a call, to view Quick Office Word documents on your phone, and to have your license code tied to your SIM card rather than to your phone. This is particularly notable since when you switch phones, you won't have to pay the $100 transfer fee to move your Talks license from the old to the new handset. Also, Talks and Zooms, the low vision solution from Nuance, are now compiled in a single license, from what I understand from the release notes. This is notable if you ever want to demonstrate the low vision side of cell phone accessibility, which I can see myself doing for students I regularly teach.

There's another significant feature to Talks 4: that it's now supported on the Verizon Wireless Motorola Q9C phone. This is significant in that Talks can now run on a Windows mobile based device. Hopefully more WM devices will be supported in the future opening further the range of phones and options available to the end user. Click here to read the official press release from Verizon Wireless.

Below I've pasted the release notes and other related information from Talks version 4. I received this information from an email list. Note that the Nuance Talks site has not been updated yet with relevant pricing and version information, but I'm sure it will be soon. Enjoy.


Nuance proudly announce the release of the Nuance Accessibility Suite -
Nuance TALKS and Nuance ZOOMS - Version 4.00 for Series 60 2nd and 3rd
Edition for March 11th, 2009.

This version also includes the first release of Nuance Daisy2Go, a DAISY
audio+text book player. The player can be used on any phone that has a
license which is valid for TALKS&ZOOMS or TALKS Premium Edition 4.00.

Version 4 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 6650
* Nokia E66
* Nokia E71
* Nokia N79
* Nokia N85
* Nokia N96

At the same time, any 1st Edition handsets are no longer supported
(Nokia 36xx, Nokia 7650, N-Gage, N-Gage QD, Siemens SX1).
3. What's New?
This section lists the improvements of TALKS 4.00 compared to the
previous version (3.60).
3.1. New audio system (S60 3rd Ed.)
We have completely revised the audio handling in TALKS. This is most
noticeable by the ability to use speech during a call on handsets
running S60 3rd Edition for all supported text-to-speech engines. With
the previous version of TALKS, the Nokia TTS had to be used during a
call; and for S60 3rd Edition FP2, no speech during a call was possible.
The new audio handling appears to have some positive impact on
performance on a number of phones as well.
For S60 3rd Edition handsets, we have introduced two new speech
settings, which allow adjusting the base audio volume and initial
response time, so you can fine-tune speech playback for your phone,
firmware version, etc.
3.2. Support for Quick Word (S60 3rd Ed.)
It is now possible to open Word documents, such as e mail attachments,
and read them in QuickWord. QuickWord is a part of QuickOffice, and its
view-only version is pre-installed on most handsets, while the full
version that allows editing text is pre-installed on the Nokia E Series
handsets, or can be purchased otherwise.
TALKS&ZOOMS supports the view-only and full version of QuickWord 3.x, as
well as the full versions of newer releases (4.x and later, as
pre-installed on FP2 phones). When using the full version, please make
sure to switch to edit mode to allow TALKS to read the content.
3.3. SIM-based licensing
The new release of TALKS&ZOOMS gives users more freedom by offering
SIM-based licensing. When TALKS&ZOOMS is registered to a SIM-card
instead of being registered to a phone/IMEI, the user can move that SIM
card from one phone to the other, as long as the SIM license is valid
for the TALKS version installed to the new handset.
3.4. Configurable object recognition
TALKS assigns so-called "roles" to the objects it recognizes on the
mobile phone's display, and composes speech output from the text and
roles of these objects. In numerous cases, in particular when a
3rd-party application was used, TALKS has not been able to determine all
required roles correctly; in other cases, the user did not like to hear
certain announcements.
Now, the user can define the role of an object using the Object Viewer,
and thus create special speech output for each application.
Furthermore, the Object Viewer can now be used for easier entry of
replacements into the dictionary, similar to its use to assign image
labels known from the previous release.
3.5. Nuance Daisy2Go (S60 3rd Ed.)
Nuance Daisy2go is a player/viewer for books that conform to the DAISY
2.02 specification, for phones utilizing S60 3rd Edition. Daisy2go is a
part of the Nuance Accessibility Suite, and it has been optimized for
Nuance TALKS, to allow for easy alternation between audio and textual
Nuance Daisy2go provides the following functionality:
* A Bookshelf view, that allows you to find, sort, open, and delte
DAISY titles.
* The Content view, which can show the content for the selected
DAISY title in tree or list view, and allows you to select the chapter
or section you want to access.
* The Bookmarks view, which lists all bookmarks defined for the
selected DAISY title, and allows deleting them.
* The Text view which displays the textual content of a DAISY
book; text size and colour can be changed. For a title with audio and
text content, this is synchronized with the audio tracks that make up
the book.
* The Play view, that shows the navigation levels for the selected
book, "Heading 1", "Heading 2", ..., "Heading 6", "Text block", and
* A DAISY-fy feature that allows importing a folder with MP3 files
as a title on the bookshelf.
* The Book Info view, that shows information about the selected
DAISY title, like the format, title, publisher, author, narrator,
creator, duration, etcc., depending upon what is available for the
selected book.
* Forward and backward cueing, like for a tape recorder, with
adjustable speed.
* Increase or decrease the playback volume.
* Increase or decrease the playback speed without pitch changes
* Optional auto-resume at start-up, or for a selected DAISY title.
3.6. ZOOMS now available for all Premium licenses
We are now making the ZOOMS component of the Nuance Accessibility Suite
available to all users of TALKS Premium Edition. Further, we have
implemented a View choice that you can find in the Options menu of the
TALKS settings application. This allows reducing the number of visible
tab sheets and options to TALKS-only or ZOOMS-only, or accessing the
full TALKS&ZOOMS configuration, depending upon what the user likes to
3.7. Other Improvements
* Some more lines on the Standby screen can now be read
* Faster reading of icons on Standby screen once the popup with
the name has been shown for the first time
* Calendar: all upcoming appointments on the Standby screen are
read, not just the first two
* Calendar: correct number of items and full contents are read in
Day view
* You can now choose the key that is used as the TALKS key from a
list of several options, allowing e.g. the use of the "Multimedia" key
* New setting: "Read subtitles" to control reading of tab sheets
* New setting: "Read function keys", to control key echo for
function keys, such as [Key 1] and [Key 2]
* TALKS can now be muted on a per-application basis
* When softkeys change on typing the first character of a text
field (e.g. Key 1 changing to OK), both the character and the key label
is read
* Text status (T9, upper/lower etc.) are read automatically when
focus switches to a text field, and new setting "Read text status" can
turn this behaviour on or off
* Pressing "#" no longer reads information that is unrelated to
the text status
* Manual registration screen now allows character-by-character
reading of IMEI
* Support for additional type of automatically updating progress
* Braille: input is now possible in 3rd party applications where
this did not work before, and also works for the first digit of a phone
number and for selecting items from the phone's main menu
* 3rd Edition FP2: Battery and network status are also read when
keyboard is locked
* Nokia E90: Fixed swapped softkey labels in ZOOMS "Distributed
Views" mode
* Nokia 6124: added workaround to allow input of text into edit
fields on web pages
* Bug fixes and stability improvements
4. Known Issues
* 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
* Nokia E66/E71: The new calendar application is not yet
* Nokia E66/E71: Some elements on the Active Standby screen are
not yet supported, e.g. voice mailbox and received messages.
* 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
* 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.
* Some features are not supported on 2nd Edition phones:
* SIM-based licensing is only available on 2nd Edition FP2 and FP3
* Fast reading of icons on the Active Standby screen
* Reading of current street name in map view of Wayfinder Access
* Features of new audio system, e.g. delay and volume factor
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 3rd Edition itself is certified, and thus
can be installed on any supported S60 3rd 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 3rd 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 3rd Edition
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, before upgrading to TALKS 4.00.

Wednesday, March 11

Free screen reader for Android devices

Greetings. I received the following information from the Gui-talk email list and thought it worth posting here. You may remember the article I posted not long ago regarding the blind Google engineer who was testing a new phone for accessibility. This post is in regards to that information. Enjoy, and as always, please pardon any formatting errors.


Dear list members,

As some of you already know, the Google employees T.V. Raman and Charles
Chen are working on solutions which allow blind persons to use Android
devices including new touch screen input and speech/tactile output
methods. At the moment, there are only two cell phones from HTC,
exclusively sold by T-Mobile and soon by Vodafone, but in the future there
will be many more Android-based devices, including some without touch
screens or possibly even without a display.

T.V. and his colleague are developing the first free screen reader for a
mobile platform. We, the worldwide blind community, should promote and
support his work. Google should hear from many persons that their
employees T.V. and Charles are doing a great and important job. Then
Google and other members of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) probably will
spend more attention and resources on that.

On this page you can find more information:

As it seems, Nokia fortunately has similar plans:

Best regards
Per Busch

An interesting partnership

Greetings. I received the following note from HumanWare yesterday and thought it worth posting here. Enjoy.



Longueuil, Quebec, March 10, 2009 -- HumanWare, the leader in assistive technologies for people with print disability, and digital publishing innovator ReadHowYouWant are partnering to help visually impaired readers discover the book reading device, and the format that's right for their reading needs.
ReadHowYouWant offers thousands of books in accessible formats, including 24 pt. large print, braille, and DAISY files at www.readhowyouwant.com. HumanWare provides playback devices for readers who are blind or have low vision to use with braille and DAISY files at www.humanware.com. "From the moment it appeared on the market, the Victor Reader Stream has proven itself to be the greatest portable DAISY book reading device ever. Today we are proud to team up with Read How You Want. We invite all readers to take a look at the selection of books they have to offer. Reading should always be an enjoyable experience. We hope that our customers will regularly visit our new website where they will be able to check out new DAISY book releases. Pass the word around!" says HumanWare CEO Gilles Pepin.

Beginning in April, readers will be able to go to the HumanWare website to download free, first chapters of 20 bestselling ReadHowYouWant titles each month as part of the "Free Chapter Download Program." The free, first chapters come from popular books from a variety of well-known publishers of adult and young adult books, including Wiley, Random House Australia, Murdoch Books, and Weekly Reader. The first month's selected titles will include such best sellers as, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (New World Library), "Praise Song for the Day," the inauguration poem by Elizabeth Alexander (Graywolf Press), and Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute (Berrett-Kohler), as well as children's and young adult titles to include, How to Take the GRRRR Out of Anger by Marjorie Lisovskis and Elizabeth Verdick (Free Spirit Publishing), and Extreme Habitats: Mountain Survival by Susie Hodge (Weekly Reader). After enjoying the complimentary first chapter, readers may visit ReadHowYouWant's website at www.readhowyouwant.com to purchase the entire file.

ReadHowYouWant will be demoing HumanWare's devices at book industry events such as the Frankfurt Book Fair, the London Book Fair, and Book Expo America. Similarly, HumanWare will present braille and DAISY files from ReadHowYouWant's collection on their players at technology industry shows, including CSUN and ATIA (Assistive Technologies Industry Association) conferences.

ReadHowYouWant produces Grade 2 contracted braille files, and has developed a house style that supports automated transcription while maintaining accuracy. These files may be read with a refreshable electronic braille display such as the Humanware Braillenote or Brailliant or embossed to make traditional braille books. Words are not split at line ends to make reading easier, particularly for newer braille readers.

About HumanWare

HumanWare is the global leader in assistive technologies for vision, including products for the blind and visually impaired. HumanWare's products include BrailleNote, the leading productivity device for blind people in education, in business and in their personal lives; the Victor Reader product line, the world's leading digital talking book players; and myReader2, the new version of HumanWare's unique "auto-reader" for people with low vision. For more information visit www.humanware.com

About ReadHowYouWant

ReadHowYouWant Pty Ltd and its R&D parent company, Accessible Publishing Systems Pty Ltd are both Sydney, Australia-based privately held companies founded in 2004 by electronic publishing pioneers Christopher Stephen and Greg Duncan. When Chris's sister, who suffers from MS, developed difficulty reading, they began experimenting to determine whether people with reading difficulties could benefit from changing the text format.

After more than four years of testing, ReadHowYouWant has successfully developed award-winning conversion technology that reformats existing books into the widest selection of on-demand, alternative format editions on the market today. Each edition has been optimized for maximum readability. The company's goals are to make reading easier and more enjoyable by delivering formats that suit the reader and to give people with reading difficulties access to books in the formats of their choice-at an affordable price, and as soon as the book is published. For more information visit www.readhowyouwant.com

Tuesday, March 10

Thoughts on Street Talk version 2

Greetings. I learned from reading the daily deals from the Blind Bargains site today, that Freedom Scientific is poised to release the next version of street Talk for the PAC Mate. It will be called Street Talk VIP and the you can read all about it from the link above.

While I'm pleased that they're finally going to release the long awaited Street Talk version 2, even though that's not what they're calling it, there are several things of note here. First, it's not called Street Talk version 2. Since the PAC Mate went to the Omni, all we heard from FS is that they were "working on the next version of Street Talk." However, this grows even more curious and interesting when you consider where they went with Street Talk. If you read the Blind Bargains post carefully, you se that FS has adopted the Sendero GPS program model and pricing for their GPS solution. Why is this significant? For the longest time, what differed Street Talk and the Sendero Group GPS solution, among other things, was the price. Street Talk 1 was around $600 for the full package, of hardware GPS, Street Talk 1.0 software, and appropriate connection cards for the PAC Mate. Verses the varying cost of the sendero GPS product, which usually ends up being around $1,500, which included their GPS software and minimum specs on storage cards and connection. Since I've never invested in either of these solutions, my quoting of what they include might be slightly off. However, the fact remains that FS was charging less than half of what the Sendero Group was charging for similar GPS software. If you look at all of the products that use the Sendero GPS software, such as the Braille Note line, the Voice Sense and Sense Nav products, and others, they tend to revolve around the $1,500 pricing point. Why so expensive? From what I've heard, it's due to the extremely accurate GPS data and that these programs are customized for the blind user. Street Talk was customized for the blind user, but only in the since that the Street Talk software itself was customized for the blind PAC Mate user. The other parts of the Street Talk package, including the off the shelf Destinator software that also ran with Street Talk, were just that--off the shelf. In other words, they were what any normal sighted geek would use on their mobile device. Okay, perhaps the mobile device of the sighted geek didn't use an older version of Destinator, but they did use the same software in that regard as blind folk with their PAC Mates. Now though, that's not the case.

I can't help but wonder why FS chose to go in this direction of going for one of the "blind oriented" GPS packages, rather than continuing to innovate with Street Talk. We may never know, at least not publicly, but I would like to ask an FS rep this question,along with the following: is this a sign of things to come? Are you going to move more toward what the other GPS packages and related note takers for the blind on the market are doing, such as with the Braille Note and Voice Sense, in that they are in a closed operating system? This could be a sign of things to come, or, it could just be a small piece in the over all FS product catelog. Either way, it's an interesting move. I'm sure that they will promote the new Street Talk VIP heavily over the next few months, at CSUN and the summer convensions, and at the other trade shows they go to throughout the rest of the year. I can't help but return to that initial question though of "Why the switch to the Sendero Group products?" Time will tell I suppose.

Metallica returns to satellite radio

Greetings. I received the following announcement in my email Inbox regarding Metallica's return to satellite radio. Personally, since hearing that Metalllica had a dedicated channel on XM Radio, this was something I was really looking forward to when signing up with Sirius last fall. I was slightly disappointed to discover that the dedicated band channels on XM weren't carried over when the XM and Sirius channels merged last november. Only slightly though; it seems that the Mighty Mat are given their due on several of the Sirius rock/metal channels that i regularly tune into. However, when i read this email from Sirius, I was furiously rubbing my hands together with glee. According to the Orbetcast blog, it looks like this channel will be around for about a month. I'm all in it, and always hoping that Sirius/XM will bring back the band channel for "All Metallica" at some point. Until then, starting this Saturday, I'll be enjoying the Manditory Metallica any time of the day or night. Enjoy.


Mandatory Metallica
takes over Liquid Metal
Exclusive Limited-Time
Engagement Channel

Starts This Saturday, March 14

You'll hear virtually every song from the Metallica catalog, including rare live cuts from the band's personal archives and new songs from their latest platinum album, Death Magnetic.

The channel will also feature interviews with all four band members, and with other artists including Linkin Park, Slipknot, Disturbed, Guns N' Roses, Chris Cornell and many others The launch of the channel coincides with the release of "Guitar Hero: Metallica" on March 29, as well as the band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 4.