I’ve received a number of emails over the past few weeks asking why this blog went silent for roughly six weeks. One problem seems to have resulted from my incorrectly setting up the blog posting feature in Word 2007 (a program I still fight with quite a lot). Other reasons vary from the high level of work I’ve been doing on various projects for a handful of clients, a fairly steady feeling of apathy toward most AT products (screen readers more so than the others) and that I’ve been enjoying pleasure reading with my Vic.
Also, my creative writing has focused mostly on the novel I’m doing with a friend up in Boston on which we have bursts of terrific productivity followed by slumps where we can’t stand to think let alone write about the old days – even in a purely fictional form.
BC fans should not despair, I do plan on continuing the blog but I may start writing more about books I read on the Vic rather than the device itself. Gonz, Samhara, Boris, BC and the gang will make regular appearances in their weird alter-world of my mind. I also hope that Dena writes an article now and then but she’s pretty busy these days.
I would like to publicly thank the Humanware technical support and sales team for helping me out at ATIA. My Vic, for no reason we could figure out, fried. In less than 24 hours, the HW team had a demo model in my hands and my unit was back on its way to wherever they repair the devices. Such efficiency and complete focus on customer service impressed me to no end.
I had planned on writing an article called “SAToGo: The Best Screen Reader Money Can’t Buy” but my high level of apathy toward screen readers in general lowered my motivation to write about this very important development in the market for such products. The AIR Foundation will provide SAToGo at no cost to anyone who wants to download it. SA is a very good screen reader and, for people who speak English, this is the single most interesting development since Serotek released SAToGo in the first place.
While I’m pretty bored with screen readers and most AT products in general, I enjoy the new level of content available for me to download onto my PC and/or Vic. The other day, I browsed through the list of DVS movies on the Mobile Network formerly known as Freedom Box and found a ton of things I want to hear. I think Serotek offers something like a 30 day demo and, if you haven’t taken a peek yet, I recommend you do as you will likely find lots of stuff you enjoy up there.
The NLS digital book download site gets better every day as lots of titles enter the catalogue daily. These books, performed by professional readers, cover a very wide range of topics and serve a wide variety of different reasons one might want a particular book.
I also really like virtually everything about Bookshare.org. These books come in a text only version of Daisy and sound great on the Vic with that new synthesizer they use from Nuance. The Bookshare catalogue contains books one may enjoy for pleasure reading as well as scholarly texts one may need for a scholarly pursuit or just because they enjoy digging further into things intellectual and academic.
I’ve also been doing quite a bit of programming lately. Everything I’m working on carries some form of GPL and I hope to remain on the open source/free software side of programs developed for people with vision impairment into the long term future. I think the AIR Foundation giving away SAToGo at no cost is a good first step but we users still need to wait for Serotek to add support for programs we may need that may not be on their roadmap. I applaud the SAToGo initiative loudly but wish I had the source so I could do a few things in programs that don’t make any commercial vendor’s top ten list.
Finally, I’m not just apathetic about much commercial AT but I’m also a bit burned out on it. I try to listen to new feature lists and press releases but find myself dozing off half way through. I use screen readers because one in my position pretty well has no choice about such; I’m, however, trying to make them much less of a hobby and spend a lot less time thinking and writing about them.