Archive for the ‘computing’ Category

Morality is in the Gutter

June 7, 2011

The agreements between companies and their outside developers are stringent. Apple for example have often been criticised for the extension of their own secrecy policy to the terms of agreement in their developer programmes. This topic has again been unearthed this week with the announcements at WWDC.

I’m all for people testing. I also get excited when sites like mac Rumours talk about things but I treat them as merely rumours.

I personally know several individuals on the developer scheme and while most of them stick to the non disclosure policy, I’ve seen several who are outright breaking it.

Today it was released that there’s a “backdoor” to get iOs5 through a security leak and my favourite thing I’ve heard is that blind people must get it to ensure it activates.

I seriously roll my eyes at that. There are several blind individuals on the developer programme and if iOS doesn’t activate, they’ll let Apple know the “right way”.

I have to say, this self righteous attitude that we can break rules just to suit ourselves in the blind community is shoddy and needs to stop. You cannot have it all ways. Expect to be treated equally and then put yourself above the rules by flinging the blind card everywhere for the world to see when it suits you; hypocritical, methinks?

I am not saying sighted people or others with different disabilities are not breaching the terms of use and that is also wrong but do not use “the blind card” to justify your piracy.

To the developers who are VI and are testing both Lion and iOS5 while sticking to you’re binding agreement, I applaud you for both. Because you are testing and reporting back to Apple, you are doing the rest of us a service.

Was I tempted? Sure! If we can get something for nothing, most of us are but I will not get either Lion or iOs5 until I can purchase Lion and update my iOS devices in iTunes.

It seems mighty unfair that people who have shed out money to test to give what I I hope is constructive feedback to Apple are being tarnished with a brush by selfish and arrogant individuals determined to get their own way because they can.

I know I’m stepping onto moral high ground but seems the level of morality is in a ditch for most people these days. All I can say to those doing the backdoor way, just know, if it blows up in your face neither Apple nor your phone company will give a damn. I suspect developers and anyone on their account has cover via some reference number and that is fine but just know you are not covered under this unorthodox method.

If I was a developer, I may test and who knows, one day that may happen. With the next version of the Mac OS I might enter into the development programme as I have a spare mac at home now to test on but it wouldn’t be so I could blog about features.

The iPad: A Review

May 29, 2010

[Note to reader; I’m assuming you’re familiar with the iPhone OS to some extent in this article].


Since the US launch of the iPad at the beginning of April, worldwide customers hankered for the news of their own launch dates. Just a few weeks ago, UK customers, along with those from eight other countries, including, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Japan were able to pre-order their iPads for a 28TH May release date, while other countries still anxiously await their launch date, expected to be announced sometime in July.


I, along with many others, pre-ordered my iPad, opting for the 32 Gig wifi model and impatiently waited for it to arrive. It came early though, a day in fact and am I glad I was home Thursday morning to receive my new toy. I created an unboxing podcast and could not wait to play with the iPad.


Initial Reaction


It’s sleek and very aesthetic, even to the touch. A slightly curved back with the smooth glass touch screen we were promised. Everything about the iPad, before you switch it on is beautiful. And I don’t believe I’m saying this because I genuinely love Apple products. The keys are seamlessly fitted into the device and nothing looks out of place on this sleek unit.


Setting Up!


The setting up process is such a breeze. Literally, plug it in, register it and turn on universal access and off you go.

[Note, the device needs to be connected to a computer running the latest version of iTunes for it to work so you do need a computer to utilise the iPad.]

setting up voice over or Zoom or contrast on the iPad is very similar to the way it is achieved on the touch, iPhone, nanos and the shuffles. In summary within the iPad, or as voice over calls it in iTunes, iPod scroll area, VO to universal access and select voice over on under the “seeing” section. Once the iPad has synced, voice over will come on as I’m sure the other desired methods will.


You have a choice to use back-ups from any other devices, I.E. iPhone or I’m assuming iPod Touch. I chose to not do this as I wanted to customise the iPad at my own leisure and although I have put a few of my iPhone apps on the device, I didn’t want them all there.


First Use!


Using the iPad is as Steve Jobs said, “Magical”. It feels at home under your fingers and when taking the experience at a leisurely pace, you can truly appreciate the style the iPad has. It is a lot bigger than other touch devices that people may be used to using but that is an advantage. Using apps like settings, mail and safari gives an intricate experience with the iPad screen. Now, you can select a general setting in the settings app and see all of your choices without having to go back to the previous page if you want to select the mail/contacts/calendar settings, for example in Settings. Mail is beautiful on the iPad, being able to see your emails in the left column and read the message in the main screen area. And Safari definitely utilises the screen giving the browsing experience a whole new level of smoothness and realness.


iBooks, worth it?


Although the UK store is not populated to capacity, and I am realistic about this fact, it will take time to become my primary book source, it is amazing. I’ve downloaded a few free classics so far and have searched the store for some titles and found a few that I shall be purchasing soon. The search function was a little tricky at first but this is where one of the new gestures comes into its own. Although, the four-finger-swipe can be used in apps like mail or settings to jump from the selection list down the left side to the content area and vice versa, I didn’t comprehend it would work in the app or iBook store. But it does. I four-finger-swiped and was able to type my search, swipe again and see the results. A wonderful edition to the Apple repertoire of gestures.


Actually reading on the app is wonderful. I can lay my iPad down and let it read to me or use my fingers to scan down the page. It’s a very personal experience of reading books I’ve not experienced before. Braille has to be read word to word and audio has someone else’s voice and interpretation while iBooks utilises the voice over voice, your own interpretation is very real.


Twitter, IM and social Networks?


As I no longer have a facebook account, I shall comment on the social networks I have used on the iPad. Twitter Apps are few and far between on the iPad right now. Some of my favourites have not yet transgressed to the iPad. However I’ve found an app for the iPad that is accessible and works good enough. Not had that much experience to comment on some features but it reads your timelines, you can reply, DM, retweet and such but no list support as yet. And I’m assuming there’s multiple account support but haven’t tried so don’t quote me on that. That app is Tweet and it’s free.


I haven’t found an iPad specific app for apps such as Fring or Nimbuzz which I use on the iPhone so I’m using the fring app for now. I have it in full screen mode and still works nicely. They tend to only work in portrait and seen as I have my iPad in landscape for the majority of use, this can be a slight annoyance but once the app is Ipad specific, [let’s keep hoping], it’ll work beautifully. There is a slight border around the screen in full mode but it is still workable.


Skype works nicely on the iPad too. In the UK, still no iPad specific app but I’m told they have one in the US now so we’ll just have to wait for our version to hit the App store.




I immediately opted for touch typing mode which I love. This can be changed while in an edit field with the rotor setting. I am finding I’m becoming quicker all of the time but will still opt for my wireless keyboard for extensive use. Touch typing will become easier and feels very natural. When I go to type on my iPhone, I hold the key down to hear the phonetic letter and it of course never comes and often forget to split tap to enter text. I cannot wait for touch typing in 4.0 on the iPhone. Typing on an almost full sized keyboard feels good and even if your finger is a letter out, sliding it to the right letter and lifting up feels great. Double tapping here will lead you to the need of a lot of deleting.


The phonetic speaking letters are a welcome edition to the iPhone OS and will strongly be looking forward to utilising this function on the iPhone.



Sound quality!

One Word! Awesome! The speaker sounds wonderful and the US voice I opt to use sounds incredible. Music and videos perform nicely and even though I haven’t tried it yet, I’m assuming headphones will sound just as crisp and clear.




It is heavier than the touch and iPhone but this seemed obvious to me. Its compact and durable and I like the weight so I don’t lose it somewhere. It is not so heavy you could not carry it around with ease and yet it’s not light enough that you will forget it’s on your lap.


Overall Impressions!

I waited eagerly since the announcement in January and I have to say I am delighted with the product. Is it worth the money? Ask me that after a few weeks of working with it but I will go out there on a limb and say yes, I’m glad I paid for such a revolutionary product. Do I think it’s an oversized iPhone? No! It’s a different product entirely and the beauty of it is, people will choose to use their iPads for their own uses. There’s no rule book when it comes to the iPad and that is what I love the most about it.



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

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.

ICal quick guide for your mac

January 29, 2010

ICal: Quick guide

Once you know how this app works you will love it. I’m running Snow Leopard up to date and only use the keyboard.

Ensure a few things first.
1. You’re in month view. hit cmd-3 to ensure this.
2. Make sure mini view is turned off.
3. You use VO rather than Tab.

To create an event first open ICal from the doc, [unless you moved it, its there]. Otherwise open from apps in finder.

To create a new event vo to the calendar list and vo to the calendar you want your event to be filed under, I.E. Home/work. uninteract with the table and vO to the calendar canvas and hit cmd-N, type what you want the event to be called, I.E. doctors’ App. Then VO right and interact with the events scroll area. The first edit box is location, fill or leave it, it’s up to you. Then if its all day, vo right and check the check box with vo space.
To set the start date, vo right again until you hear the date and interact. You have to use VO and not just the arrow keys here otherwise setting the date does not work. So VO and change the dates as follows.
Year. [to change use VO up and down]
Month: [again VO-up/down]
Day: [VO-up/down to change day]
Next you change the time in the same way. Once you’ve finished stop interacting and move over with VO to set an end day and time if necessary in the same fashion by interacting, VO to the left or right to set each field and use Up or down to change the field. Think of it like a table. You VO across to highlight the year/month/day/hour/minute/Am or PM and then you move the increments with your VO–UP/Down. I guess it looks a little like a graph for those mathematics out there.

the next selection you can make is the time zone. Mostly this would be left at the default which would be your local mac’s time.
Then it’s the repeat option.
VO-space to open the pop up menu and select at your own preference.
Then if its repeated the next field is when you want the repetition to end. vo-space to select this.
Our next field is show As which will display if you’re free or busy at this time. VO-space to change the setting with the pop up menu.
Then if you haven’t selected which calendar you wanted to select you can do it here, whether its work/home/school. It’s another pop up menu so go ahead and use VO-space to open the menu and vo-up/down to change your setting.
You can set an alarm next. Default Ical sets a message with alert but you can set an email if you prefer.
The next field will be when you want your alarm to go off if you have set one. This is just a text edit box to put the number of hours or minutes, days. The next pop up is minutes/hours/days.
You can then set a second alarm if you like so if you want an email reminded and an alert sound at different times you can set a second alarm next in the same way as you did previously.
The next field is invitees so if you want to invite friends to your event you can hit the button and it will give you the option to do this.
You can then add a file if you desire. [I’ve not used this feature so I cannot give guidance here]
Url and notes are the final two fields and are both text areas.

Once you’ve edited the information stop interacting with the events scroll area and VO-right and hit done. If your event changes then highlight it in the calendar scroll area and hit cmd-E to edit and do it in the same way I just demonstrated.

You can get the entire information of your event by highlighting it in the canvas scroll area and hitting CMD-I.

The important thing to remember in this app is to use VO as much as possible and the app will work for you very well.

To delete an event.
Highlight the calendar you want to view in the calendar table and then vo-right and interact with the calendar canvas. Highlight the event and hit backspace. If the wrong month is in view, hit cmd-left/right arrow and it will take you to the previous or next months.

Anticipating The Big Bite?

January 25, 2010

And it is that time of the year again where we anticipate what Mr Jobbs and his buddies over at Apple have cooked up for us. As usual the rumour mill has been filled with all kinds of teasers and the grand unveiling is two days away but I had to report what I’ve learnt.

There is a rumour of an Apple tablet. a device that is somewhere in between a computer and a smart phone, all touch screen. But along with this piece of information, Sky News today reported that Apple are supposedly in talks with publishers, magazines and news Papers to allow the new Tablet to become some kind of reading device on the go. This of course is not new in itself but what is potentially interesting is the potential for Apple’s increasing scores of Visually impaired and Dyslexic users.

If as Sky News predict, and Apple are in talks and continue their dedication to their own policy of universal access then this could mean that books, news papers and magazines would be as readily available to not just their sighted users but to all of their users.

As a student, I really hope for this tablet to be three things.
1. accessible
2. the ability to buy and read books with voice over.
3. Relatively affordable.

If Apple can pull this off, surely some of the educational hypocrites could change their attitudes. But as I just told someone on Twitter never get complacent.

I hope for all of these things and would be shocked and very disappointed if the tablet isn’t in the least accessible to Voice Over users. So we will see.

Other trinkets of goodies may include an Iphone 4.0 update. That may be very interesting. Wish they’d sort the battery lives out, seriously. I’m tired of charging mine. And I personally suspect a new shuffle but we will see.

I’ll update when I know more.
Later Apple heads!

My Apple Mac

December 19, 2009

With all the choices on the computer market nowadays, the general consumer has more choice than ever before. However, as a visually impaired user, the only option I want to have is mac and Apple products. Here’s why.

On Thursday, I turned my trusty macbook 13 inch, 2008 model white onto to check my email and such to discover it wouldn’t boot beyond the apple logo and timer thing. I was so upset. I love my macbook so much, it recently travelled to the US with me and if I don’t take the time to at least boot it once a day, I’m sick.

Anyway, I called Apple care and booked an appointment to see an Apple genius the next day. The problem I next had was that I had to pull out my old sony Vaio laptop that runs Windows XP and has a version of Jaws for windows running on it. It wasn’t a prospect I was looking forward too, let me tell you. Nevertheless, I loaded it up and encountered twitter issues with the program I have running on that laptop, then had issues setting up my gmail account in outlook express, followed by issues with not only importing music to itunes but getting the damn program to work correctly for me. I was still fighting with Itunes at lunchtime when I left to go to my apple appointment.

I never realized how counter-intuitive windows was, and I missed my specialized features that voice over on the mac offers, such as spelling as I type. I missed hearing, “misspelled” which happens frequently when I’m typing a lot. Itunes was a complete nightmare, how anyone uses that program on windows with a screen reader is beyond me. And the screen reader itself frustrated me beyond belief, freezing on several occasions, jumping on others, it was just a nightmare I do not want to repeat.

Hasten to add, my macbook was fixed and is happily being used again. I know some people prefer windows but for me, it is mac all the way. snow Leopard can keep purring happily inside my pretty white macbook with voice over being its Captain. ☺

a quick start guide to mac and voice over

March 1, 2009

I’ve had my mac for about five months now and i love it. I have talked to several of my friends about the mac and the benefits for visually impaired users. one of my friends has now invested in the mac and I decided it would be a good idea to share some of the knowledge I’ve picked up along the way to share with other new visually impaired mac users. I’m no expert and I may have missed things out, and i might not cover everything you think I should, so if that is the case, please feel free to leave me a comment and let me know. I’ll try and do a few tutorials, but i’m no expert and I may not be the most perfect speller in the world, but I will try and help anyone who needs it.
Please feel free to message me and let me know what you think. The mac is a wonderful thing, you just have to learn it and not compare it to windows. It’s vital for learning the operating systems.
Here’s the intro

Some definitions and tips for Voice over and getting started with your mac.

The doc
The doc is where all of your applications are situated. from here you can open regularly used applications and don’t worry if something’s not there. All you need to do is put it there which is easy. Standardly, regularly used applications such as safari, mail, ichat, itunes, etc are placed in the doc by default. So to get to your doc, all you need to do is press your voice over keys [control plus option] and d. then use your voice over keys to move left orright, [the doc is by default situated at the bottom of your screen. You can move it to the left or right if you like, later on]. once you found the application you want to open, press enter. Also remember that if you want to open itunes, you can press i while in the doc and it will take you to itunes immediately. pressing I and then c will more than likely take you to the first application with the first letters being I and C which could be ichat or ical, depending which comes first. so once you found the application you want to open, press enter and it will be activated.

We have three menus in the mac, the apple menu which will also act as your application menu. if you are focussed on safari for example, and you press the menu, it will go to the apple menu first and then if you move to the right using voice over and the right arrow, it will take you to the safaris menus, such as file, edit, view, history, etc. to activate a menu, i.e, go into that menu, press voice over keys and down arrow and maneuver through the menus with your voice over keys. Pressing enter at any point will activate that action.

The apple menu
Here you can perform simple actions, such as turn your mac off, make your mac sleep or restart, force quit a programme, edit settings such as the doc, view recent items, etc. To activate any menu, hit voiceover keys and M.

Task bar menu
Here is where your indicators are situated. such as volume, if you have wireless enabled or in mac’s terminolgy airport, how many bars it is on, your battery and date and time and some other things too.
Here you can change the indicators values, so if you want to turn your mac’s volume up, simply press vo + M twice to go to the task bar menu, and then use your navigation keys to move along. you will hear voice over say a percentage and volume button, simply press the down arrow key to turn the volume down and interact with that slider or press up arrow to turn the volume up. the same things can be done to check your battery and what power source you are using by pressing vo + right arrow to move along the menu and find the battery menu. pressing vo + down will tell you what charge rate your battery is at and pressing vo + down arrow again will tell you if your mac is on power adapter or batter. [this will obviously not be applicable to imac or mini mac users].

Spotlight menu
This is really useful for finding things. If you need to find a application that isn’t on your doc, simply press vo + m three times and it will bring up the spotlight menu. or an easier way is pressing command spacebar. enter the name of the application/file and as you type different things will come up. once you’ve finished typing the item you’re looking for, press vo + down arrow and voice over will take you to the items displayed. Press enter to open the item you desire.

key strokes
here is a list of key strokes that should get you started, both in mac and voice over.

voice over keys– = control + option
to move right– = voice over keys [vo] + right arrow
to move left– = vo + left arrow
to move up– = vo + up
to move down– = vo + down arrow
to read content area, i.e, document/email– = vo + A
to read a sentence– = vo + s
to read a line– = vo + L
to read a paragraph– = vo + P
to interact with an area– = vo + shift + down arrow
to stop interacting– = vo + shift + up arrow
to go to the end of the window or interacted area– = vo + shift + end
to go to the top of the area or interacted area– = vo + shift + home
to move up or down a paragraph– = vo + shift + page up or page down

Navigating with lots of elements
Here is a list of keystrokes that will primarily help you around the web. be warned, some websites are not necessarily going to let these actions perform very easily. Hopefully the next version of safari will fix this problem.

lock vo keys [very useful if you’re mainly navigatin, just remember to unlock if you need to enter text]– = vo + semicolon
jump to next frame– = vo + command + f
jump to next graphic– = vo + command + g
Move to next heading– = vo + command + H
Move to next heading, same level– = vo + command + M
move to next different element– = vo + command + N
Move to next element [such as button, text box, check box, radio button, etc]– = vo + command + J
Move to next colour change– = vo + command + K
move to next hyper link– = vo + command + L
Move to next visited hyper link– = vo + command + V
move to next plain text– = vo + command + P
move to next font change– = vo + command + O
move to next italic text– = vo + command + I
move to next underlined text– = vo + command + u
Move to next bold text– = vo + command + B
move to block quote at same level– = vo + command + w
move to next block quote– = vo + command + q
move to next list item– = vo + command + X
move to next style change– = vo + command + c

mac and voice over keys together
go to the doc– = vo + d
go to menu– = vo + M
go to the task bar menu– = vo + M twice
go to spotlight– = vo + m three times or command spacebar
select an element on a webpage– = vo plus spacebar or vo + shift + spacebar or enter. [note, this depends on the element and the page. try each if the first doesn’t work! One usually does work. You’ll learn which ones do work for what on each webpage]
open a pop up menu– = vo + spacebar
select an item and leave a menu– = enter
select a radio button– = either vo + spacebar or just spacebar. if you use vo and spacebar it will read the action.

Item and link choosers
This is a really cool way to find things on a webpage. if you’re looking to find text within text edit for example, there is a way there too but I’ll focus on that later.

Item chooser is great if you want to find text, a control button, anything on a webpage. hit vo + i and it will say item chooser. sometimes this may take a few seconds, depending on how much content there is on the page. once it says item chooser menu, start to type the thing you are looking for. for example, on facebook, if you’re looking for your home link, type home and it will say home in the item chooser. press enter once to highlight the item and enter again or vo + spacebar, whichever you prefer to activate the link. This works for text too. so if you’re on a forum and you know roughly a word you wrote last time and you want to go to your last post to see if any other posts have occurred, type a word and the line of text your word is in will come up in item chooser. press enter to leave item chooser and use your navigation keys to move from there.
Link chooser works in a similar way, except it only works for links. To activate the links choser menu, hit vo + u. This has been useful, before hotmail redesigned their email page. the delete, move, new buttons were in some hidden files on the web page. Normally item chooser would pick things like that up but because they were hidden, voice over couldn’t find them with the item chooser. hOwever, by using the links chooser the item was found. However, unlike most elements, you had to use the vo + spacebar to activate the hidden elements. Happy to say hotmail have changed their site now so it’s all up and working with item chooser again.