Archive for March, 2010

Changing How Voice Over Says things

March 26, 2010

Ever wanted to change how voice over says something? Well you can. Here’s how

Hit VO-F8 to open the voice over utility.
arrow down through the categories list until you get to speech.
VO-right and on pronunciation hit VO-Space to select it.
Now to the right of the pronunciation button is a table. Mac automatically edits the way some symbols are spoken but to add your own vo to add.
You should be in the first column where you type your word. So for example, the phrase lol should read laughing out loud. So type lol in the first column and then VO-right.
You need to hit VO-Space here to enter your new word, otherwise it just types your word in the first column. So where it says substitution, hit VO-Space to ensure you’re about to edit the word in the write column, it should make a pop sound to allow you to know its in the right place, type laughing out loud.
To add another word repeat the process.

You can change a word for certain applications, so if you want Lol to only work in your IM client then you can select that from the applications menu within the table.

To delete an entry
Simply highlight it in the table by putting your voice over cursor on it, stop interacting with the table and VO-right to delete and vo-space to carry out the action.

To edit an entry.
Interact with the table.
Find the entry with your VO keys you want to edit.
Ensure you VO-space on the entry you want to edit whether that be the word or the substitution before you attempt to edit it.

Hope this helps you guys.
Any questions please let me know

Mail App: a Quick start Guide

March 26, 2010

Quick start Guide to Mail

Mail is one of the most useful tools in modern technology. The mail app is complex yet so simple it is ironic. Like a lot of the native Mac apps it is accessible with voice over.

Setting up your mail is relatively easy if you use Gmail or AOL and is also doable on older Hotmail accounts. And there are plenty of guides around the net to help you but in this situation I will show you how to set up gmail in IMap.

From the doc hit M and mail should be the first app we come too. If not, type the letters and unless you’ve moved it off the doc it should be there as a default.
Open it by hitting enter or VO-space.
Assuming you have not yet set up an account, here’s how to do it. If you have, skip to the next heading.

Hit CMD-comma to open preferences. Interact with the toolbar and VO-space to select the accounts tab. Stop interacting with the toolbar and hit VO-shift-right arrow to skip to the end of the window, [note on a macbook this key combination would be VO-shift-function-right arrow.].
VO-left to where it says new and hit that button with VO-space.
This opens a new dialogue which will welcome you to set up your email account. It asks for your name, email and password. Mail is rather clever in that if it recognises the server I.E. gmail in this case, it uses the default settings to set up. This is great for setting up IMap and if you want to change it to pop3 later you can always edit your account.
Following the prompts are very straight forward, entering your incoming server which would be if you have a gmail account and outgoing server which would be
Once you’ve finished creating it should take your account online. And don’t worry if it doesn’t work, deleting or editing is very easy.

Assuming your account is set up now you can check your emails.
In the main email window there are two tables, one is your inbox table storing your inbox, sent messages folder, trash, junk, etc and if you have custom made inboxes too, this is where they would be. As the side bar acts as the top folder and whatever is highlighted there its contents are shown in the file table, the inbox table does the same thing. So if your inbox folder is highlighted in the mailbox list then your messages within your inbox/inboxes will be shown in the table. [note you can have more than one email account open in mail. All your inboxes are collected together so you can check all of your mail at once].
Each message shows you who it was sent from and subject line and date and which inbox it is located in. hitting enter will open the message in a new window. Although there is [by default] a preview mode which means whatever message is highlighted in the message table will show in a scroll area at the edge of the window [right of the message table. Some people prefer to turn this off and it can be done by doing the following.
Find the preview pane, it should say ‘message scroll area”.
VO-Up arrow and it will say horizontal bar.
Route your mouse to this by VO-CMD-F5 and then physically click the mouse twice in quick succession. On your macbook this will be the long rectangular button at the front centre of your macbook, on IMac or mac mini just double click your mouse.
This should work but some people haven’t always found it to work for them. [Thanks for my twitter friend for reminding me about this and suggesting I put it in the guide, Thanks Darcy].]
While on a message in the message table, you can hit enter and it will open up in a new window.

To compose a new message hit CMD-N and it will open a new window.
There is a to, CC, subject, from, Server, signature and message areas in this table. [note, mail will remember addresses you type regularly for ease as default but if you need to look up an address manually, while in the compose window, interact with the tool bar and find addresses,. This button will open another window with To, CC buttons and a search box along with a list of your contacts from address book. Highlight the address you want and click which box you want it to be put in, either To or CC. Once you close this window, your addresses should be in the selected fields].
Subject line is easy enough. From will only become an issue if you have more than one email account and this is just a pop up to help you decide which email account to send your message from, work or home, etc. The next box only needs to be changed if the server isn’t correct but providing you set up a valid server when setting up your account and its working, there’s no need to change this setting.
The signature box is very useful and again, a pop up box to choose from previously created signatures, [we’ll deal with this later on].
And finally your message area.
Once your message is ready to send, hit CMD-shift-D and away your message goes.

Replying to messages
We all need to reply or forward messages and mail makes this very easy. Either having a message open in a new window or merely highlighting the message in the messages table, CMD-R will reply or CMD-shift-F will forward.

setting up Signatures
We sometimes need to set a signature, either to let people know who we are or because we want to advertise something or merely be creative. Signatures is easy enough to do in mail, although a little buggy with voice over. But I’ve found a way around these issues.
Mail has crashed on several occasions when I’ve tried to set a signature so please follow the next steps carefully and precisely to avoid such behaviour.

hit CMD-comma to open preferences.
In the toolbar, select signatures.
First table will be a list of your accounts. If you need a specific signature for a specific account, highlight that account and stop interacting with the table.
VO-shift-right arrow to get to the bottom of the page and VO-left until you hear new. VO-Space and type the name of your signature, [not the actual signature, so for example- work]
Now you will be in the table, highlighting your new signature hopefully. If not, highlight which account you selected and VO-right to the signature table and highlight your new signature.
This next step is vital. VO-shift-right arrow to get to the end again and VO-left until you here edit text area. [its to the left of the new button].
Write your signature.
[note] if you want to enter more than one signature, I find closing the window and starting the process from fresh each signature works better. for some reason it won’t enter new text on new signatures unless you close the window first and reopen.

For those advanced users, I have found a plug in to stop mail auto-marking messages as read with the preview pane open. Here’s how.
Go to

Apple’s IPad

March 25, 2010

I know, I know, I’m all late to the party. But just to let you all know, as soon as I get my hands on an IPad, I shall be reporting on it.

Unfortunately, it’s looking like the UK will only get our IPads toward the end of April, more bureaucracy I’m guessing but as soon as I can get to an Apple store, I shall be blogging about the experience.

As an IPhone user, I’m excited about this and who knows, you guys may be lucky enough to get a podcast out of me for it.

Address Book: A Quick start

March 25, 2010

Quick start Address Book

This great app works fantastically for storing all your contacts, whether its full details or just an email. On the mac, Email and messengers can access the information stored in your address book and the beauty being if you are a proud owner of an IPhone, all your contacts sync so you have them on the go.

because Address book is a native mac application, you already have it. Unless you made any changes to your doc, it should be there so hit vo-d and hit ADD to get address book highlighted and hit enter or vo-space.

Once address book is open just to make a new contact hit cmd-N and a scroll area will come up.
Interact with it vo-shift-down arrow and enter your information.
The first box will be first name, then last name, [if you have it set to default] and then company.
The next field is phone and this is usually set to work. You can change this however by using the pop up box as seen in other applications.
The edit field is the box to write the corresponding number. all boxes are labelled so each field shouldn’t be too hard to edit to your requirements.

Editing a birthday
If you use ICal, this will be an easy thing for you to do. But I’ll go over it here.
When you get to the birthday, interact and use your vo-left and right to highlight date, month and year. To change each element use vo-up and down. It must be done this way or else it won’t move the columns as it should. Once you’ve finished stop interacting, vo-shift-up arrow.

You can add fields if they are not there as default. If its just for one card, do the following.
With the card in edit mode, [outside the scroll area to the right it will say edit card and if that box is checked you’re in edit mode]. Go to card menu and insert field, go into the sub menu and select your chosen added field. Then fill it in.

You may want to group your contacts as friends, colleagues, online contacts etc. You can do this too in address book. [note, at the minute a few extra steps must be taken to create or edit groups. This issue has been reported to apple and we hope for a fix in future updates].
to create a group interact with the groups table [if its showing]. If not, hit cmd-1. Then turn VO off, [don’t worry you’ll be fine without it]. cmd-F5 to turn VO off and then hit cmd-shift-N and type your group name and hit enter. Now using cmd-F5 turn VO back on. See, that wasn’t too scary now was it?
Too add a contact to your new group either highlight that group in the group table and hit CMD-N to create a new contact or VO to the names table and hit CMD-C to copy the contact and then highlight the group you want to copy the contact to and VO back to the names table and paste your contact, CMD-V.

You can edit the default card set out via going to card menu, add field and edit template.

That should get you going. Any questions let me know.

When You And I Became A We

March 16, 2010

This is a poem showing how much I appreciate my guide dog.

Golden fur,
Four big paws,
Two soft ears,
sixteen clippy-cloppy claws,
One cold, wet nose,
Two beautiful brown eyes,
One wagging tail,
That is forever hitting my thighs.

Beautiful you are,
From nose to tail,
Lovely you seem,
And you hardly ever fail
To prove your love,
Your trust, dedication and loyalty,
And four years ago,
You and I became a we.

A team,
A partnership,
A bond so strong,
When you stand beside me,
In harness so clean and bright,
Nothing seems wrong,
And all seems right.

Your bouncy ways when you get excited,
Your sulky face when I tell you “no!”
Your happiness when its food time,
And your dedication when I say, “Time to go!”
Your loyalty as you guide me,
Through the streets we both have learnt,
Your my eyes and my companion,
And no matter what life brings it will never hurt
So much if you are there,
Standing strong by my side,
Wagging tail at new friends,
Happy bounces at your four-legged ones.

Still a puppy at heart,
But a great mobility aid to me,
That is why I am grateful,
That four years ago you and I became a we.

Sitting to be stroked,
When you’re off duty and just a dog,
Head so proudly held you’d think you were
King of the hogs.
Drooling as we pet you,
Enjoying the attention and love,
A wonderful buddy you turned out to be,
Four years ago when you and I became a we.

We nicknamed you Lord Bailey,
As you give off that aristocratical air,
Your paws tucked in and your nose held high,
And sniff around with that superior glare.
Sleeping so peacefully,
In your many beds,
Curled up on the living room rug,
Or sprawled out on your cushion bed,
Jumping with joy as you get a weekly treat,
snacking on the ears of pigs because you’re not fond of the feet,
Chewing your bones so loudly,
So loud we have to turn up the TV,

Groaning at my feet when I’m studying,
You never seem in peace,
Twitching and running you go,
While you’re soundly asleep,
And yet hearing all these noises it makes me
Feel so much at ease.

I feel safe while you’re beside me,
You bark to warn of your fear,
You sit beside me when I laugh,
Nuzzle me when I have tears,
When you’re sick I’m beside you,
And it pains me to see you sad,
You’re a wonderful best friend/companion,
A bonny big old lad.

Some think you’re still in training,
Others think you’re old,
But I know what you are to me,
My furry friend with a heart of gold.
Sometimes you’re mischievous and have to be told off,
And sometimes you’re a crazy fool and make me want to laugh,
Others you just lay down calmly and quietly at my knees,
And I am so grateful four years ago,
You and I became a we.

You guide me through busy streets with ease,
Dodge all the lamposts and things,
You may sniff the odd bin or two,
But you’re a dog and I know dogs have needs.
You run free whenever we get chance,
And I love to see you play,
And in my heart I keep you safe,
For today and all days.
You stop at kerbs to warn me,
The road is just right there,
You wait to be told to cross,
And at “forward” you take me there,
You find the shops we need,
And sometimes you pretend you don’t hear,
I guess some shops you hate to be in,
And then others you would never fear,
You know where I like to go,
After us being together so long,
You know when you’ve been good or bad,
and you know when you’re right and when you’re wrong,
You trudge come rain or shine,
You plod on even when you’re tired and want to sleep,
But for all your help I am grateful,
Four years ago when you and I became a we.

A special dog you are,
Like so many others through this world,
Gifted to be patient, honest and true,
And put my safety on your list of things to do.
You ask for warmth, comfort, food, water and care,
And all you truly need other than that is
A cuddle or two here and there.
So calm and efficient yet
Still a crazy hound,
Your personality makes me love you so,
And want you to always stick around,
The bond we share so special,
Your company preferencial,
Your presence a comfort and so
My love is consequential.

So on this day when you became my eyes,
When officially you became my best friend,
I want you to know I appreciate all that you do,
And will until the very end,
So when others understand that bond,
Or see you the way I see,
Then they will surely know why I am grateful,
Four years ago when you and I became a We!