Archive for the ‘Voice Over for mac’ Category

Nambu: A twitawesome App

May 23, 2010

Twitter has become a huge part of many people’s lives. From celebrities keeping their fans up to date with their lives, to news stations and sports teams keeping us all clued in to your sister telling the world of her boring existence, twitter has truly taken off. Even within the blind community.

 

Other Twitter Clients

 

On the Mac with voice over, we have had a choice of the web, the accessibility twitter page, twitterific and syrinx as our choices for twitter clients. Adium also offers a limited service but the desktop apps are limited in their various ways and for those of us who manage more than one account, or crave to add our comments to others tweets in the form of a retweet, Syrinx and Twitterific and Adium lack functionality.

 

I am an iPhone owner and have discovered many other twitter apps that are much more feature rich than those available on the mac. They are up to date with everything that twitter offers, such as the new lists feature that allows users to group their followings into a desired list. For example, all the news tweeters to a news list so you can prioritise who you read about first thing in the morning over your cup of coffee.

 

Enter Nambu!

 

So the search continued for an accessible twitter app for the mac. All seemed relatively accessible if you didn’t feel like reading any time line whatsoever. Until this past week when after requests from several twitter users to implement more accessibility, the nambu network came through for all of those voice over users yearning for a new environment to tweet in.

 

Positives

 

Nambu is currently in public beta so many of the features are new and still improving. Here are some of the major features that attracted me to Nambu.

  1. Ability to manage multiple accounts on the fly.
  2. The traditional RT feature.
  3. The option to view your twitter lists’ time lines.
  4. Different notifications for different tweets, mentions/direct messages and new tweets.
  5. The option to translate tweets.
  6. Hide tweets.
  7. Mute hashtags or users which is a very nice contribution.
  8. The ability to read your own sent tweets.
  9. The option to search for trending topics and an across twitter search.

 

Old, familiar Features

 

Some of the features you can get in Syrinx that are not lost in Nambu

  1. Conversation view. [great if you forget what you were talking about when someone replies].
  2. Reply, dM, delete own tweets, RT, Open links all with keyboard shortcuts.
  3. Follow or unfollow and block people.

 

Design

 

I think the most wonderful thing I like about Nambu is the design and feel of the app. On http://nambu.com site they state they based it on the feel of iTunes and this is certainly true. There are two views, combination view and outline view. Both are accessible with voice over and so how you use it is your choice.

 

Combination View

This view does what it says. It combines your tweets into a timeline, including your other accounts if you have them all connected. With voice over you can move through the buffers with option and right arrow or left arrow respectively. It makes the window a little less spread out and works fine but I have three accounts running and don’t want all of my accounts in one timeline so outline view is my preference.

 

Outline View

 

Imagine iTunes, you have the sources table and whatever is highlighted there is shown in the songs table. This is true in outline view within Nambu. so for example, my personal timeline home timeline is highlighted in the first table, my timeline is then visible in the buffer section which is always labelled with which kind of buffer it is, I.E., mentions/sent, etc. It does not say which account it is focussed on but this can be found out if you jump to the first table or VO to the service pop up.

 

Other Business

 

Nambu also lets you know how many characters you have left as most other apps do. And it allows you to customise sounds if you would like to and this includes a sent sound. The option to have sound schemes may be a nice add on if anyone could find a way of doing this.

 

 

One of my favourite designs in nambu is the ability to interact with the tweet and see any hashtags you can VO-Space and it will list all of the hashtags in the timeline for you. Hitting a link will take you to safari and you can also use CMD-o to open any links.

 

Conclusion?

 

Nambu is still being worked on and so features that are currently missing or not quite complete will hopefully be updated in the future. The lists works great for reading your prepared lists but the ability to edit your lists or add new members to your lists is not currently available. I have left feedback for the developers and their continued support for all their users has been a great experience.

 

Give the app a try and see what you think and if something isn’t working then visit the feedback page and give the team a constructive piece of feedback.

 

Overall, Nambu is a clean, highly functional app with a lot of potential to take over mac voice over users’ macs in the near future.

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 imap.gmail.com if you have a gmail account and outgoing server which would be smtp.gmail.com.
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

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.

Groups
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
[mac!]

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!

Iphone and Voice Over

June 8, 2009

So WwDC happened today and thousands of people have now learned what apple promises to deliver. Snow Leopard is due September and at a discount price for Leopard users. Very nice. New macbooks have been revealed with much higher processors etc. Very cool. And The iphone now has voice over.

wait! What?

Yes no need to go back and read again, I did say the Iphone 3GS has now got voice over built in. All you need is a mac or a p.c. with screen reader technology like voice over or Window Eyes, itunes 8.2 your shiny new Iphone and you are ready to go.

I will write a more detailed account of how to use the iphone once I get my hands on one. And I am afraid you will have to wait a few weeks as the pretty new phone is not available until June 19TH.

It has to be said, this is a very exciting moment in any disabled person’s life. Finally, a company has continually gone beyond its legal obligation in providing accessibility to all. First it was voice over on the macs. Then the wonderful voice of alex. Then the ipod nanos, followed by the shuffle with voice over built in, and now the iphone. Apple just keeps making me smile. Accessibility to all is what they aim for and they are succeeding incredibly. a few months ago, not many people thought this version of the iphone would have full accessibility and here it is. All ready to be shipped and to be used by us the consumer.

What I like, no correction, love about Apple is the fact that they continue to improve their products for everyone and when they say everyone, they mean it. At last, a company is not excluding the minority groups and is including the ability in its products to make them usable for all straight out of the box. No expensive third party applications, nothing to crash their system, just plain and simple tested products that come already enabled, at no extra cost.

So here is my personal big thank you to Apple. Keep up the good work and I hope that the iphone is as amazing as it sounds. If it lives up to the legacies of your other accessible products, i see no reason why it wouldn’t be.

Thank you Apple Inc. The true company for all!