Well, sounds to me like you're really on to something. Hey, how about this? More advanced controls could be hidden behind a pull down panel on the side. That way, if somebody doesn't even have a computer, they can still access the settings and all that; but, if somebody doesn't have a computer and they don't want to bother with the advanced stuff, it should not really matter about the time and all that. So, perhaps one of the buttons behind this pull down door could be Simple/advanced. It would be a two position toggle switch. Say Debee, how about you make sure you're on the front end design team and they need to let you write the instruction manual too. I rather like the role you seem to be on about this. Fundamentally, the principal seems to be that of KISS (keep it simple stupid). I could sure go for that. Sincerely yours, The Constantly Barefoot, Ray Home phone and fax: (985)853-0139 E-mail: rforetjr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx Skype Name: barefootedray Blog: www.raysworld.blogs.com God bless President George W. Bush! God bless our troops! and God bless America ----- Original Message ----- From: "Debee Norling" <debee@xxxxxxxx> To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> Sent: Wednesday, March 08, 2006 10:36 PM Subject: [bct] Re: Hey Larry and Rob, what about developing a recorder? I work with learning disabled students. The question I am asked most is about digital recorders. These are people who can see fine, but they have difficulty often with sequencing. Intelligence isn't a problem, many people with LD have above-average intelligence, but following a series of steps is a problem. Anyway, they think that because I'm blind and open about my disability that I have all the answers and they want to know which digital recorder is the best. My answer is None. I tell them to run to the nearest flea market with some cassettes and a supply of batteries and buy a few old cassette recorders for $5. If you have recent vision loss, ADHD, short-term memory loss or any similarly befuddling disability, most digital recorders won't work out for you. Deaf people also use recorders to be sure they don't miss out, even when a session is interpreted. Typically, they need reliability over simplicity because they can't check that it's really recording. So if APH, or someone else were to design a high-quality digital recorder, it would appeal to a wide range of disabled provided it was reliable and above all, easy. For every vision-impaired student I serve, there are ten with learning disabilities. People under-estimate the numbers in this under-served market. But most geeks, in their ivory towers can't market to them either. For example, the Book Courier was supposed to be for the LD market but it's not easy for technophobes to master. The problem with these devices is that you can tap a button, hold a button for a second, hold it down for a long time, hold it in conjunction with another button, and accomplish different things doing these machinations. Or you get tons of menus, and on those tiny screens their messages are cryptic. My MD recorder has "Rset", "Tset", "Rmode" and similarly terse possibilities. When I worked at TeleSensory, they tried to design a portable reading machine that was very easy to compete with Vera. But they kept adding features because they were way too concerned about the competition. But they were too cheap to add extra buttons to match the extra features so they instead added extra modes. It never got past the prototyping stage; it wasn't reliable and it was complicated. Focus groups thought it was difficult to use. And while I'm ranting, what happened to the OFF button anyway. The Braille 'N Speak had a genuine Off switch. Now everything goes in to "standby" mode after you issue some complex keystroke. Why can't those darned engineers put a big Off switch on things anymoore! Anyone thinking of designing a recorder for real people, rather than just for geeks, needs to read Alan Cooper's excellent "The Inmates are running the Asylum" about user interface design. And I will be happy to provide you an OCR'D copy. I agree with Neil in the recorders for the blind thread, that it needs a display, but we must be careful about complexity and feature creep. My husband says his new digital camera has more icons than Windows and he's busy memorizing what they all symbolize. This camera is marketed for geeks just like him, but there is no way my Mom, in her seventies, could use this camera. She used to be an accountant, she has normal vision, but she doesn't know electronics the way she used to know tax law. She's on her fourth digital camera now, desperately trying to find one that is just point and shoot. To appeal to the broadest range of consumers, blind, low-vision, brain injured, LD, deaf, ADHD, seniors, etc. the GigaCorder needs to be simple. And it needs to be heavily marketed as truly easy to use. Companies, even APH, seem to feel that features make a product. If the answering machine has ten modes and the competitor gets a roommate mode, then suddenly all machines get a roomate mode. But eleven modes makes even the lowly answering machine overly complicated. So, a device that differentiated itself as being simple would appeal to those vast numbers of consumers who feel most electronic devices are too complex. So this thing should be as simple as the old cassette recorder, with record, erase, stop, play, rewind and forward. No excessive buttons, no modes, no menus. Each button does one single thing only. Don't give it a calendar, a stopwatch, a calculator, a thermometer and a roommate mode! Instead, give it A USB port and a settings file in built-in flash. This would let the sophisticated user tailor it for his needs without burdening the beginner with menus and choices. Instead of menus to set the time, it should automatically set the time when connected to the computer via USB. A user shouldn't have to put it in to charge mode; it should start charging when connected to USB or AC power, and it should be smart enough to stop charging when the batteries are full. Don't make the user hold button A while pressing button B to erase, instead, just give it an erase button. Advanced users can configure it to do intelligent things, like erase anything older than a month, or erase the entire memory when it's held down. Instead of files and folders as on the modern memo recorder, let the user create folders only if he's connected to a computer so the folder-impaired won't get lost. Instead of modes to configure things like stereo/mono, prompt verbosity, record level, display brightness and the audio quality, let a simple ASCII-based .ini file handle all configurations. An intermediate user can run a program on his PC to configure the settings; an advanced user can edit the .ini file directly and the beginner doesn't need to worry about settings in the first place. If you start out with a user-centered design and you don't drift towards a marketing-based design, if you avoid trying to put in more features than your competitors, and you chant the mantra "less is more" I'm positive you'll actually increase sales with a truly must-have product! --Debee P.S. Any programmers out there want to tackle this as an open-source project? My husband designed an MP3 player with an open-source schematic. and I ported the firmware to an open-source compiler. One of those honey-do projects that is finally over. You can examine/modify our code which is downloadable from www.sparetimegizmos.com Perhaps a group of us could turn this into the GigaCorder!