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.

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