Yesterday, Blind Confidential,, after posting 294 articles since we went online 2 years and 135 days ago, received visitor 500,000, a number that continues to grow. I know that BC’s popularity among the community of people with vision impairment consistently grows but I’m not entirely sure why. I enjoy writing the posts but BC hasn’t exactly informed too much in the past six months but, apparently, it has entertained.
For the most part, I have avoided writing about screen readers as my critics from two opposing camps either say I treat FS too kindly or that I write too favorably about JAWS and its fellow products. I have found a few bugs in the latest JAWS update but reported them directly to FS and didn’t bring them up in a public forum. I find that ignoring FS causes me much less anxiety than when I write about their successes and failures alike. I still use JAWS 9.0.xxx on my XP machines but, by default, I use System Access on Vista. I’m doing a lot of research into no cost and free screen readers for my job but still have little feel for that category of programs but will learn soon.
So, I suppose BC readers weren’t terribly compelled by stories about screen readers as they continued to read long after I stopped publishing stories about them. I have written some items about AT products – mostly the Vic which I really love and hope others like too.
I would like to make one suggestion about the Vic though. Specifically, in the information that is read when one hits the zero key repeatedly, the Vic announces the time for the entire book and the time remaining. I can not believe that it would be too difficult to add an option to speak the total and remaining time counts based upon one’s speech rate. If I’m running at 300% normal, the time indicators should be divided by 3 and, for example, be announced as, “time remaining 1 hour 24 minutes at the current speech rate.” Knowing the amount of time remaining at the default rate is really not too useful unless that is the rate at which one is listening.
I get regular email from fans of the Gonz Blinko stories and may make an attempt to pull them together into a cohesive bit of fiction to be published on the oft promised but never actually existent hofstader.com web page.
I would like to thank all of the readers as I’m really blown away by thinking that a half million times my blog was visited by people who enjoy the dumping of the contents of my mind over morning coffee. Maybe they don’t enjoy it but feel drawn to BC for some other reason but the hit count continues to grow. Please keep visiting and I’ll keep writing and maybe it will all make sense someday.
I would like to thank certain people specifically. Will Pearson has been a regular reader since day one and has provided us with some of our most insightful comments. When Jamal Mazrui started his CSUN presentation by asking his dueling operating system contestants to sign up for our RSS feed, we enjoyed a spike in subscriptions and new readers. Chairman Mal has provided us with our most entertaining comments providing laughter, fear and loathing in the way only a truly gonzo mind can do. Joe Clark has provided us with serious issues to debate and has brought over a lot of readers from his blog to BC. I really enjoy all of the private emails I get from people in the AT biz thanking me for making some ballsy statements about their employers, products or competitors. Now that I’m out of the biz for nearly four years, I think and write about it less often and keep information leaked to me under my hat as I don’t need the aggravation, I’m a lazy slob…
I do find the growth of interest in and work going on in the free (as in freedom with a lower case “f”) segment of the AT world very interesting. NVDA and FireVox, two programs I’m just now studying, have impressed me in a way that I haven’t felt too often in the recent history of AT software. I love the free software, GPL model for this market as it provides the community with the liberty to invent our own technological destinies rather than relying on a hope and a prayer that a closed source and closed minded AT company will get around to fixing our favorite bugs, supporting the applications we need or want to use and creatively innovating into new areas discussed on this blog and others. The Diaspora of blind hackers can, if we work together, create some tremendously cool stuff that would be cut out of a specification as too risky by the AT companies. With NVDA and other programs, we have a good platform from which to launch what will be the next few generations of the AT we need.
Well, I’m off to get a yellow Labrador tattoo of the likeness of my guide dog on my left forearm. I hope you have fun days as well.