Thursday, April 30

Why men are never depressed

Greetings. I received this from a coworker. I usually don't like getting/forwarding these types of emails, but this one was too good and too funny to pass up. So, instead of forwarding it and clogging up the information superhighway with useless traffic, I'm posting it here. Besides, it's a good read. Enjoy.


Men Are Just Happier People--

Your last name stays put.
The garage is all yours.
Wedding plans take care of themselves.
Chocolate is just another snack.
You can never be pregnant.
Car mechanics tell you the truth.
The world is your urinal.
You never have to drive to another petrol station restroom because this
one is just too icky.
You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.

Same work, more pay.
Wrinkles add character.
People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them.
New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet.
One mood all the time.

Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
You know stuff about tanks and engines.
A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
You can open all your own jars.
You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.

Your underwear is $8.95 for a twelve-pack..
Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.
You never have strap problems in public.
You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes..
Everything on your face stays its original color.
The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
You only have to shave your face and neck.

You can play with toys all your life.
One wallet and one pair of shoes -- one color for all seasons.
You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.
You can 'do' your nails with a pocket knife.
You have freedom of choice concerning growing a moustache.

You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25

No wonder men are happier.

Send this to the women who can handle it and to the men who will enjoy
reading it.

Message from NLS regarding new BARD site

Greetings. I received this message today from the NLS regarding the new BARD site. BARD stands for Braille and Audio Recorded Download. The new site launched today, which for the user means unlimited downloads,a list of the top downloads in fiction and nonfiction, and other improvements. However, before you go counting the number of downloads you can do in an hour, consider the following note. Enjoy and happy downloading/reading!


To all users of the NLS BARD service:

Now that the new NLS BARD web site has been launched, we're asking again that users exercise restraint in downloading, especially during the critical first weeks of operation of the new site.

We are experiencing an enormous load on the system at the current time. This load is far higher than is to be expected based on a single day without service or any pent-up demand remaining from the pilot site's thirty-item limit.

Please remember that there is no need to download more than what you can reasonably consume. The site will be available at all times, and no materials will be removed. Please download only what you need.

As before, questions and comments should be sent to
Send questions or requests about the book and magazine collection to your library.

Wednesday, April 22

Book notifications will be turned off soon

Greetings. I received the following note from the NLS Digital Download Pilot program today regarding the end of their weekly announcements by email. As has been reported and posted on other blogs recently, the NLS Digital Download program will be ceasing on April 28, to be replaced by the new BARD site, covering Braille and recorded downloads, on April 30. Among the advantages of this are unlimited downloads, a list of frequently downloaded books, and more. Unfortunately, this means that this Friday will be the last day that emailed notices of new books being added to the collection. Read more below. Enjoy.



This Friday's new book and magazine announcements will be the last messages sent on the DTB-Test mailing list.

The download pilot test will end next Tuesday. You should have received a message last week detailing the change to our permanent service, the NLS BARD.

There will be no announcements of materials added to BARD. Users are asked to refer to the Recently Added Books and Magazines pages on the site.

Thanks again to everyone who participated in the pilot test. We couldn't have done it without you.

- Neil

2009 NFL Draft coverage

Greetings. In the extreme dry spell of non-football season, with the NBA and NHL playoffs just kicking off and baseball barely in it's first month, it's great to have a distraction from the non-NFL sports. Among the many media outlets that might be covering the 2009 NFL Draft you've got the sports TV channels such as ESPN and the NFL Network, local/national radio sports networks or stations, and, as should come as no surprise, Sirius/XM Satellite Radio. Check out this post from the Orbetcast blog on 2009 NFL Draft: Every pick from every round on Sirius XM. May all the football nuts rejoyce, or at least enjoy the break in the minotany. enjoy.

Saturday, April 18

Can-Am Braille

Greetings. I received the following press release from a friend and thought it was appropriate to post here. Please excuse any formatting errors. Links are provided where appropriate. Enjoy.


The following press release was received via the National Federation of the
Blind and forwarded herein for your information.

It is an interesting announcement that will hopefully include many consumer
product-oriented industries down stream, including food and pharmaceutical,
and will make product information more readily available for the blind and
visually impaired.

Given that this announcement of a US and Canadian standard will likely lead
to making Braille labeling available and commonplace on millions of packages
over time, this is an even more compelling reason to encourage and support
Braille literacy for all age groups.

Mike Vandervoort
Board Member,
NFB of Texas, Abilene Chapter

PRESS RELEASE -- Converting Magazine, 3/19/2009 9:15:00 AM

To better satisfy the needs of the visually impaired in North America, the
International Association of Diecutting and Diemaking (IADD), located in
Crystal Lake, IL, has created "Can-Am Braille," a set of guidelines and
recommendations for the use of Braille on packaging.

The IADD worked in conjunction with the Braille Authority of North America
(BANA) over the past 18 months to develop the standard, whose official
release is set for Friday, May 8, at the 2009 IADD.FSEA Odyssey in Atlanta,

An informative technical workshop, "Let Your Fingers Do the Talking: Braille
on Folding Cartons" will review the North American standard in detail. All
participants will receive a copy; further distribution will take place
postworkshop through the IADD and BANA websites to reach out and bring
together the printing, paperboard packaging and pharmaceutical industries.

The standard has been reviewed and received its final approval by the IADD
Executive Committee and Board of Directors in January 2009.

"The use of Braille in packaging will continue to increase over the next
several years," predicts Stephen Brighton, IADD Braille Task Force Chair,
"following European pharmaceutical and food product packaging trends in

Brighton explains that in October 2005, a previous directive of the European
Commission regarding the use of Braille for pharmaceutical packaging was
implemented as law for newly approved medicinal products. To address these
requirements, the European Carton Manufacturers Association worked closely
with national carton associations from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France,
Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the
United Kingdom to develop a standard that is being used as a set of
guidelines and recommendations for the use of Braille on packaging. Can-Am
Braille is derived from this standard.

Already the Canadian and U.S. packaging markets are experiencing the effects
of the European requirements, with some larger pharmaceutical companies
incorporating Braille on their packaging for the last few years. It is
essential that a common standard be in place to ensure that blind and
visually impaired individuals will be able to benefit from its use. When
asked why the IADD chose to base its standard on a European one, Brighton
elaborates, "There is nothing about Braille that we can hold autonomous. We
have had the opportunity to collaborate with BANA to marry their knowledge
of Braille with our knowledge of what's practically possible when applying
Braille to paperboard substrates. What we are really dealing with is the
independence of the visually impaired. Our responsibility is to ensure that
their independence is respected and that we, as an industry, do the best
that we can to produce pharmaceutical, fast food or other types of
paperboard packaging with the best quality braille for readability and
continuity through the use of the standard. Otherwise the purpose of
producing the Braille and the resources it takes in these economic times
ends up being an exercise in futility for everyone involved."

"We are looking forward to the implementation of this standard," said Judy
Dixon, chair for the Braille Authority of North America, "It will have the
effect of making more Braille labels to help blind people identify the
packages in their everyday lives and this will be a very positive step

Interestingly, no government legislation similar to that of Europe is
currently proposed in the U.S. or Canada that would require pharmaceutical
packaging to have Braille on it. The original concept of creating a North
American standard stemmed from a Braille workshop and discussions at an IADD
Can-Am Chapter meeting. Some members had participated in a Braille workshop
at the IADD Annual Meeting in Switzerland in November 2006. It was felt that
a proactive approach on the part of industry to develop and implement its
own standard would be a way of reducing or even eliminating legislative
intervention. This has allowed the standard to be developed in a time frame
that fosters continuity, making it more of an international standard, and
that ensures it will work from a practical standpoint.

The IADD Board approved the Can-Am Braille standard in January 2009. The
BANA Board reviewed and has approved the IADD Can-Am Braille standard in
November 2008.

Contact: Jill May, IADD Chapter Relations Coordinator, International
Association of Diecutting and Diemaking.

For more information about the IADD, visit

For more information about BANA, visit

Audio description now at Disney

Greetings. I came across this article from the weekly MoPix email newsletter, from the Orlando Sentinel, called Heard but not seen at Disney: Device helps blind visualize rides. Very cool! Hopefully other parks and tourist attractions will adopt these audio descriptive ways as well. enjoy.

Wednesday, April 15

Stream FAQ updated

Greetings. I received this note from HumanWare yesterday regarding the FAQ for the Victor Reader Stream. This would be a good page to bookmark and check back with regularly. If any of the below questions, covering such topics as SD cards, RFB&D, the nLS digital download program, bookmarks, bookshelves, and more; look like ones you'd want to know more about, then check out this FAQ page. Enjoy.


Dear Victor Reader Stream Friends:

We have recently updated the Stream FAQ (frequently asked questions) document on the Stream support page at:

On that page select the documentation link and then the Stream FAQ document. This FAQ has over 100 answers to questions we have received about the Stream and we encourage you to review it. Following is a list of some of those questions. Books and Audible Manager
Q. Can I try out the Audible service without Subscribing?
Q. What is Audible Manager?
Q. How do I activate my Stream with Audible Manager?
Q. Can I use more than one SD card for Audible books on the Stream?
Q. After I activate my Stream how do I transfer Audible books to it?

Q. Why does the green power light (LED) sometimes blink when I plug the Stream to AC power?
Q. If I cannot see the LED how do I tell if the player is charging?
Q. Can I quickly get battery status without listening to all the Information items?
Q. Can I recharge the Stream while it is in use?
Q. Will I lose any bookmarks or player settings if I change the battery or allow the battery to fully deplete?
Q. What is the best way to store the battery for a long period of non use?

Q. How do I place a bookmark precisely at the start of a chapter or page or file?
Q. How can I quickly remove all the bookmarks in a single book?
Q. Will the Stream Bookmark data base fill up if I never delete bookmarks?
Q. Can I enter a bookmark while recording?
Q. During playback, will the Stream alert me if I pass over a previously bookmarked position?

Bookshelf and Folders
Q. Can I have sub-folders within the $VR bookshelf folders?
Q. How can I read .doc documents on the Stream?
Q. I have many books on my Talking Books bookshelf. Can I arrange them in categories?
Q. Can I list my Talking Books bookshelf in date order?
Q. When my podcast episode ends, can Stream automatically play the next one?

Bookshare (United States)
Q. What is the proper way to put a Bookshare book into the Stream Bookshelf?
CNIB Online Digital Audio Books (Canada)
Q. How do I transfer a CNIB Library Online Digital Audio book to the Stream?

Q. What should I do if my Stream does not respond even to the power button?
Q. Can I play the Stream while it is connected to my PC?
Q. Why do some audio files play at different volume levels on different bookshelves?
Q. Will Stream play WMA protected books such as those from Overdrive or sources?
Q. Can the Stream play MP3 books from Overdrive?
Q. How do I know if my public library's Overdrive service offer MP3 books?
Q. How do I do a factory reset of the Stream?
Q. Can I use the Windows Explorer SEND TO menu to send files to my Stream?

NFB (United States)
Q. I receive NFB newspapers by email. How do I transfer them to the Stream?

NLS Books (United States)
Q. What is the process to participate in the expanded NLS pilot project and enable my Stream to play NLS books?
Q. Once I am authorized for the NLS pilot download, how do I download a book?
Q. After downloading the book on my computer, how do I transfer it to my Stream?
Q. As an alternative, can I transfer NLS zip books using Stream Companion?
Q. Will the Stream play the future book cartridges that NLS will distribute?

Playback and Navigation
Q. If I accidentally press key 4 or 6 how can I quickly get back to my reading position?
Q. How can I quickly get to the start of a book?
Q. How can I quickly reach the end of a book?
Q. How can I quickly jump to a position far into a large text file?
Q. How can I quickly jump to a position far into a large audio file?
Q. How do I backup just a few seconds with Rewind key? If I hold it too long it backs up 1 minute.
Q. Can I resume reading a few seconds back from where I last stopped?
Q. How can I lock the keypad while playing a book?

Playing Content from CDs
Q. How do I copy CD DAISY books to the Stream?
Q. How do I copy DAISY multi-CD books to the Stream?
Q. Why does Stream not play the files I copied from my audio CD using Windows Explorer?
Q. I have a DAISY CD with multiple books and a Discinfo.html file. How do I copy that CD to my Stream SD card?

Q. How do I find the total recording time available on my memory card?
Q. What are the recording specifications and space required for the AMR-WB+ files?
Q. I have many Audio Notes and cannot remember all the note numbers. Can I rename/move the Notes for archival?
Q. What type of microphone should I use on my Stream?

RFB&D (United States)
Q. How do I obtain the RFB&D User Authorization Key?
Q. How do I install the RFB&D UAK once I have purchased it?
Q. How do I play RFB&D CD AudioPlus books on the Stream?
Q. How do I play RFB&D AudioPlus books that come on more than one CD?

SD Card
Q. What type of SD cards should I use in Stream?
Q. Do I need to format my SD card before using it?
Q. How do I format my SD card?
Q. If I format the card and replace the files will I lose all the bookmarks and reading positions in my books?
Q. If I write-protect the SD card does it mean I cannot set bookmarks?
Q. Is there anything I can do if the Safely Remove Hardware option is not in my Windows System Tray?
Q. How do I set up a USB flash drive for use on the Stream?
Q. How do I set up books to play on the USB flash drive?
Q. Do all Stream functions work on the books on the USB flash drive?

Thank you,
The HumanWare Team

The other side of the news

Greetings. Below is a story I received from a guide dog related email list. Note that though the suspect of said crime appears to be a German Shepherd, the crime could have been committed by any high energy breed from any guide dog school. Enjoy.


Seeing Eye Dog prime Suspect in Toy Slaying

Virginia, April 10, 2009.

The body of Mr. Toy Octopus was discovered yesterday in his Charlottesville
home under suspicious circumstances.

"[Mr. Octopus] was the least judgmental toy I ever knew," said Mr. Stuffed Lamb, a close friend of the deceased. "He welcomed everyone he met with at least two open arms."

The cause of death remains unknown, but officials say evidence suggests
homicide. The prime suspect is one Yani Gg. Shepherd, also ofCharlottesville. Ms. Shepherd, who works as a Seeing Eye dog for a law student at the university, was unavailable for comment.

Glaze Y. Labrador, Shepherd's roommate and a retired guide herself, has another theory: "I firmly believe Mr. Octopus's demise was the unfortunate result of a botched squeakectomy," she stated in a press conference
yesterday. "Yani is young, and squeakectomies can be messy in the best of circumstances."

Shepherd, whose owner is not yet licensed to practice law, is seeking legal

"Normally, she'd have a hard time finding an attorney who would work for kibble," said the labrador-poodle mix of a local defense lawyer, who wished to remain anonymous. "But given the state of the economy, all bets are

Meanwhile, the toys who knew Octopus continue to grieve. Perhaps they can find some small comfort in the knowledge that their friend's rattle and squeaker were recovered and are suitable for transplantation.

Tuesday, April 7

Stream and Companion audio demonstrations

Greetings. I received the following note from HumanWare regarding version 3 of the Victor Reader Stream and some associated audio demos/tutorials. Enjoy.


Dear Victor Reader Stream Friends:

As a follow up to last week's release of Stream 3.0 and Companion software 3.0 we have posted two recorded tutorials. Please visit the Stream product page at:

On that page look for the Demos and Reviews heading. At the top of that list you will find two recorded tutorials for using the new features of both Stream 3.0 and the new Companion 3.0 software. These are MP3 files that you can download and listen to on your Stream.

Thank you,
The HumanWare Team

Saturday, April 4

State of Sirius baseball coverage

Greetings. I just read on Orbetcast the post called XM gets every 2009 MLB game; Sirius comes up (almost) empty. Apparently, XM will have every MLB game for this season, and Sirius will only airre a select few of the games. If you're a baseball lover, then you might want to sign up with XM Radio and still get the Best of Sirius for the NFL coverage. I'm glad that Sirius picked up some baseball, but it is rather disappointing for even the remote baseball fan, such as myself, to see that the "Best Of" packages don't get the large portion of games expected. However, if you're an autoracing fan, then that will be covered on the Best of Sirius/XM packages, which is some consulation I suppose. At any rate, it looks like the die-heart baseball people will be going to XM for the summer. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 2

Could netbooks dethrone the PC?

Greetings. The new York Times Technology section has an interesting article called Light and Cheap, Netbooks Are Poised to Reshape PC Industry. It talks about the rise of the netbook and how it could pose a serious threat to PC's and laptops this year. Several of my colleagues at work have these netbooks. I've heard speculation among some at work that the netbook will force the manufacturers of today's electronic note takers to really dig deep and catch up in their features. I've even considered getting a netbook from time to time. I haven't yet found one that suits me. It could happen at any time though. I'm subscribed to an RSS feed for the MSI WIND netbooks, and some of what's coming looks awfully interesting. There's a certain appeal to carrying around a computer in your backpack that weighs less than 3 pounds, verses a heavy laptop or note taker weighing in at between 4 and 6 pounds, or more. Enjoy.

Another JAWS update

Greetings. For those JAWS purists that love having the "latest and greatest," FS released another update earlier this week. Take a lookat the extensive range of fixes (or, perhaps not so much):

  • The Yahoo Instant Messenger.jss script file has been updated and included in JAWS 10 to provide support for the latest version of Yahoo! Messenger 9. Make sure to download the latest Yahoo! Messenger for full compatibility with JAWS 10.
  • The message history in AOL Instant Messenger and the e-mail messages in the Gmail Inbox are now visible to JAWS. Previously, the virtual buffer would appear to be blank if you tried to read message history or Inbox messages.
  • When navigating through the Gmail Inbox, you can once again select and open an e-mail message by pressing ENTER when focus is on the text in the Subject column. In a previous release, it was necessary to turn off the Virtual Cursor or use the JAWS cursor to open the e-mail message.
  • Resolved an issue related to certain Web pages with frames, which, when updated, created a situation where JAWS would not read the text present in the updated frame. This problem was reported for both Gmail and the Webinar software used by the Freedom Scientific Training department for the new Webinars, both free and paid, now being offered.
  • The default JAWS dictionary file (default.jdf) has been updated to include the correct pronunciation of two Russian symbols.
  • In the JAWS help file, the Using the JAWS Cursor topic now describes the Real Window and the Focus Window restriction options that are available for the JAWS Cursor. Previously, this topic only mentioned the Application Window, Current Window, Unrestricted, and Frame restrictions.

Regarding the Gmail fixes, there's no indication of whether these fixes apply to the Standard or the Basic HTML views. As always you can download the update from the FS site or perform a "check for updates" from the JAWS Help menu/submenu, depending if you have JAWS in its own window or in the system tray. Since it has only been 2 weeks since the last update, I'm thinking that something was broken 2 weeks ago and fixed now. Ah well, so goes tech and assistive tech. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 1

Newsline expands yet again

Greetings. NFB Newsline, a service where you can call a local or toll free number to listen to local/national newspapers or magazines, or get TV listings, has done it again. They've expanded and given the user more options. Yesterday, the NFB Newsline Online website launched, which among other things, allows you to read content on the web, have it automatically downloaded and placed on your Victor Reader Stream, or Icon/APH Braille Plus Mobile Manager, and perform other functions. If you're not registered with this free service, you can obtain an application from the site as well. If you're already signed upf or Newsline, then there's no additional cost. You will have to log in with your user ID and pass code, as well as agree to an agreement stating how you will or won't use the service, but this only happens the first time you log into the site. You can also sign up to have your papers emailed to you as DAISY files each day/week. Visit the site and read more about this exciting service for the blind. For more about Newsline, visit the official NFB Newsline website. enjoy.