blind_html [Fwd: Fred's Head Companion - American Printing House for the Blind]

  • From: Nimer <nimerjaber1@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: blind_html@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 13 Mar 2009 08:09:14 -0600

-------- Original Message --------
Subject:        Fred's Head Companion - American Printing House for the Blind
Date:   Fri, 13 Mar 2009 12:48:16 +0000
From:   Fred's Head <fredshead@xxxxxxx>
To:     nimerjaber1@xxxxxxxxx

 Fred's Head Companion - American Printing House for the Blind

        Link to Fred's Head <>

Sound Card Stops Working After Hibernation <>

Posted: 12 Mar 2009 01:06 PM PDT

As a blind computer user, the one thing you can't have happen is for your sound card to stop working. No matter what screen reader you use, a non-functioning sound card will leave your computer useless.

Have you been having trouble with your sound being disabled in Windows Vista after you wake your computer up from hibernation? If so, Microsoft has an easy hotfix for that issue.

If you're experiencing this problem, there's a few ways to figure out if you need to install this fix. A sighted person will see a red X on the volume icon in your system tray. Plus, when they hover over the icon, they'll see a message that says "No Audio Output Device is Installed."

To fix the issue, you'll need to install a hotfix, available from the Microsoft website <>. The hotfix number is 937077 and the description is "a high definition audio device may no longer work after you resume Windows Vista from hibernation or from sleep".

Once you install the hotfix, you'll be in sound heaven once again.

Ransomware <>

Posted: 12 Mar 2009 12:29 PM PDT

I'm sure all of you have heard of computer worms, Trojans, adware, spyware and viruses, right? Those nasty little bugs are the reason for troublesome computer problems throughout the world. Well, today, I have a new type of attack to add to the list. This type of bug is called ransomware. It's been around for awhile in the computer world, but it hasn't really taken off until recently.

Ransomware is a program. It takes over your computer and then requires you to pay to get your system back to normal. Usually, it will infect your system through a bad Website or via a pop up window, but it can also come in through an email attachment or a download. Once your system is infected, it will let you know right away. More than likely, you'll see a screen come up that tells you what damage will be done to your computer if you don't pay in time. It will require you to pay in a certain way and in turn, you'll be given a code to turn off the software and stop the damage from continuing.

There are a couple well known ransomware programs currently in use around the Web. One is called Ransom.A. That program will tell you it will destroy one file every 30 minutes until the ransom is paid. That program seems very bad, but in reality, it does no damage to your system. It's simply a scare tactic to get you to pay the fee. While that specific ransomware causes no damage to your system, there are several others that truly do what they say. Those programs can cause serious harm to your computer or they simply just embarrass the infected user by popping up pornographic material on their screen.

No matter what the damage, it's important to protect your computer against these growing threats. The good news is you don't need to have any additional protection on your system to shield you from ransomware. If you keep your antivirus software up to date and have a good pop up blocker, you should remain safe from the threats. If your system should end up infected with one of these programs, do not panic and do not pay the ransom! It's best to run a full system scan with your antivirus software instead. The program can then be found and removed. If it's not removed, your antivirus company should give you a link to a Website with removal steps.

Accessible Cell Phones for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired <>

Posted: 12 Mar 2009 09:57 AM PDT

It seems that cell phones keep getting more and more complicated. You can browse the internet, take pictures, chat and check your email with your cell phone. Unfortunately accessability hasn't improved with the phones.

Some companies have figured out that blind people do use cell phones and we want to use the same features as our sighted counterparts. Before I give you a list of some accessible cell phones, let me tell you about a very basic phone and phone service.

Originally designed for elderly parents or grandparents to use as an emergency phone, or for anyone who is technically challenged Jitterbug <> is a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) that uses the Sprint <> system and features easy-to-use phones with operator-assisted calling and speed dial set-up.

Jitterbug <> currently features two phones made by Samsung <>. Both have large, easy-to-read displays, loud and clear sound, and feature large, easy to dial buttons with clear markings (no confusing icons). They also "play" a familiar dial tone when the phone is opened to simulate a landline. One phone has a standard keypad, the other has three one-touch dial keys.

The ease of use makes these phones a great option for people who are blind or visually impaired. A perfect peace of mind without 37 ringer choices and streaming TV.

       Accessible Cell Phone Suggestion from a Fred's Head Reader

I received this tip through email at fredshead@xxxxxxx <mailto:fredshead@xxxxxxx> and wanted to share it with all of our readers.

Dear Fred's Head Friends,

My husband, who is blind, did some serious looking at the different cell phones and their accessibility options. The BEST phone was offered by Verizon. He simply thinks the LGV8300 is the greatest as it has almost all audible features. Be sure to check this phone out. The following is some information on this great little phone:

Verizon Wireless offers the LG VX5300 and LG VX8300 with Voice Command and Text to Speech. These phones have features that make them more accessible to customers who are blind or visually impaired. The LG VX5300 and LG VX8300 are available at the Verizon Wireless Store.

       Learn more about the LG VX5300 and the LG VX8300

         Voice Commands

   * Digit dialing. You speak the digits; the phone dials them for you.
   * Dial by name. Speak a name that has been programmed in your LG
     VX5300 or LG VX8300 phone book and the phone will call that person.
   * Voicemail indicator with speech. If you miss a call and a
     voicemail has been left; the phone will tell you that you have a
     voice mail.
   * Caller ID with speech. You can hear either the name from your
     contact list or digits of the caller.
   * Status of the battery and signal strength.

         Speech command list

   * Call (Name or Number)
   * Send Message
   * Go to menu
   * Check Item - Contains Phone Status, Voice Mail, Messages, Missed
     Calls, Time, Signal Strength, and Battery
   * Look up Name
   * My Account - Links to VZW My Account
   * Help

         Helpful hints for using your phone

   * To access the Command List, you will need to use the Menu key,
     Scroll to Settings & Tools and the "to Tools", then "to Command List".
   * You can either request a command by speech or scroll down and
     listen to each option and then select
   * When selecting to Call Someone from the Command List, you can
     speak the name of the person that has been programmed into your LG
     VX5300 or LG VX8300 and the phone will dial their number.
   * When selecting the phone check, it will provide you with a voice
     readout of battery usage time remaining, signal strength, roaming
     status, service mode and GPS support information.
   * Please remember that background noise may affect voice recognition
     when requesting a selection of the command list.

Article Source:
Jack Middleton
Carson City NV

       Accessible Cell Phones

I just stumbled onto the Fred's Head Companion page and listened to your very informative tutorial. I sincerely appreciated all the info you gave about what a Blog is and your discussion on RSS technology. :)

I am a business banking professional and have recently lost a majority of my vision. I have just received a promotion at work (I am so excited!), but it will require that I am available to clients by cell phone. After hearing your description of podcasting and knowing that iPods and MP3's really are the best and easiest way to access the web in an audio format, my question is do you know of a product that can work as a cell phone, PDA and MP3 player all in one?

I do have some resources for you to check out. HP may have a device for you. You use Mobile Speak Pocket for access to the menus and online services. Information is available at

There is an email list dealing with accessible phones. Go to <> for details.

Thanks to special software, the Vodafone Speaking Phone reads and describes the icons in the menu to the blind user. It is also capable of reading text messages and allows users to compose and send their own messages.

Vodafone's close collaboration with the Italian Association for the Blind on the Vodafone Speaking Phone project included a trial phase, and the subsequent distribution of the phones to as many blind people as possible.

Click here to visit the Vodafone web site: <>

   "Nokia N91

The Nokia N91 phone will probably be the one most attractive to people who are blind or visually impaired, as it promises, when combined with the screen reader or screen magnification software, a fully accessible handheld mobile music experience. This device, combined with a screen reader or screen magnifier and the DAISY book reading software from Code Factory could serve many needs in one package. It could be a phone, notetaker, appointment calendar, book reader, web browser, e-mail tool and a music player all in one, eliminating the need to carry several devices at once.

The Nokia N91 features storage for up to 3000 songs, plus smartphone functionality in an ultra-portable package. It is a device optimized for mobile music consumption. With room for up to 3000 songs on the integrated 4-gigabyte hard disk, the Nokia N91 delivers a premier music experience. In addition, the industry standard 3.5mm stereo headset jack and easy transfer of music files from your PC help make the Nokia N91 a connected mobile jukebox.

Encased in stainless steel, the Nokia N91 has dedicated music keys on its face, which slide down to reveal the phone keypad. The Nokia N91 serves up to 12.5 hours of sound via the included stereo headset. It supports a wide range of digital music formats including MP3, M4A, AAC and WMA. The phone also contains a 2 megapixel camera for print-quality photos, email support, a full web browser and video sharing. The N91 is expected to become commercially available worldwide by the end of this year.

For more information on the Nokia N91, click this link to visit the Nokia home page: <>.

Another choice for the PDA functions is the forthcoming E61 which is business oriented with Blackberry and Office applications. More important to blind users, it doesn't have a camera, which can lower the price. There are no multimedia keys like the N91, nor such an interesting storing capabilities, but you can use a 2GB MiniSD memory card.

BlindSea is a site containing, among other things, information about third-party programs for use on Series 60 cell phones. the programs, many of which have free demos or are free, have been found to mainly work with the Talks program, and many would presumably work with Mobile Speak.

Click this link to visit <>.

       Nuance TALKS

Nuance TALKS software converts the display text of a cellular handset into highly intelligible speech, making the device completely accessible for blind and visually impaired people. Nuance TALKS runs on Symbian-powered mobile phones to speech-enable contact names, callerID, text messages, help files and other screen content.

With Nuance TALKS you can:

   * Know that you have email ... and hear it!
   * Write and listen to text messages or instant messages
   * Hear caller id information
   * Know that email or text messages have arrived
   * Listen to your email
   * Add contacts and dial from your directory
   * Use the calculator, calendar and alarm clock
   * Know how much battery life remains and your phone's signal strength
   * Edit your phones profiles

Nuance TALKS runs in the background of a Symbian-powered mobile phone. The software currently works with the Nokia 3230, 3600, 3620, 3650, 3660, 6260, 6600, 6620, 6630, 6670, 6680, 6681, 6682, or the N-Gage phones as well as the Siemens SX1, and the Samsung SGH-D730. Click this link to visit Nuance's website for the complete list of compatible phones <>, this list is current as of April 2006. Click this link for more information about Nuance TALKS from the Nuance website <>. Nuance TALKS can be purchased from the Sendero Online Store <>.

An announce-only, low-traffic mailing list has been created to keep people informed about new developments regarding accessible cell phones. To join, send a blank message to information-subscribe@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx <mailto:information-subscribe@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>.

       Mark Taylor's CandleShore Blog

As more and more of us use Mobile Technology, it helps to have someone who has tested the waters and knows what works, and what doesn't for those who are blind and visually impaired. On the CandleShore Blog, you can learn about a utility that converts standard web-pages into a navigable Mobile web surfing experience, count the calories of your favorite fast food items using your Mobile phone, search for an assortment of prescription and non-prescription medicines over your Mobile phone, access a free spellchecker on your Mobile phone, perform book-keeping applications using your Mobile phone, and so much more.

Click this link to visit Mark Taylor's CandleShore Blog: <>.

Perfect Portions: Love Food Hate Waste <>

Posted: 12 Mar 2009 08:51 AM PDT

The Portions Calculator measures perfect portions for unfamiliar and familiar foods, like pasta, that are notoriously difficult to portion out correctly.

There's not much you need to know beyond that. Just pick the type of food you'd like to measure, select how many adults and children you're cooking for, and let the Portion Calculator tell you how much you should make. I've always found it really difficult to get the portions right when cooking for two, but this seems like the perfect compliment for home cookers looking to put together a meal for any sized crowd. Works great with a screen reader too!

Click this link to use the Perfect Portions calculator at <>.

Accessible Baseball Websites <>

Posted: 12 Mar 2009 07:14 AM PDT

I know we have some baseball fans who read this blog, so I wanted to create an article with some websites that are screen reader friendly and packed with historic baseball information. Here's what I've found so far.

       Ballparks of Baseball

"Here is a tribute to baseball as an essential part of American culture. Learn everything you ever wanted to know about each of the Major League ballparks, from seating charts to attendance figures, to the history behind former ballparks, you^D>'ll find it here. The site does include some minor advertisements."

Click this link to visit <>.

"Users will find lots of detailed baseball history at this nicely written site. There are dozens of links to historical events, biographies, team histories, and statistics. Those interested in baseball as part of American history can find much to enjoy at this one. You can even find "this date in baseball history" trivia."

Click this link to visit <>.

       Power Pitch: Baseball and the Presidency

Here's proof that the Presidents of the United States love baseball. The Associated Press has put together a two minute slideshow with audio that talks about how the President can effect a baseball game and how baseball has been used to lift the spirits of US citizens after tragic events.

Click this link to listen to /Power Pitch: Baseball and the Presidency/ <>.

Sites found on <>

Accessible iPod for the Blind <>

Posted: 12 Mar 2009 05:53 AM PDT

We're hearing more and more about iPods and how easy it is to download audiobooks, music, and podcasts from the internet. Most portible MP3 players are difficult for the blind to use because of on-screen menus. The iPod Shuffle is the best unit for the blind so far.

The size of its buttons are a bit smaller than those on full-sized iPods, but the blind will appreciate its simplicity: there's neither a screen to worry about reading or properly navigating. There's no complicated settings to change. Its only controls are "back," "forward," "play/pause," and the volume controls.

The iPod shuffle, of course, can handle all iTunes-imported audiobooks, as well as those purchased from either the iTunes Music Store or Since these audiobooks can range anywhere from 45MB to 250MB in filesize, we'd definitely recommend the 1GB or 2GB models. Even at this capacity, you may find yourself frequently "refilling" the unit with new content.

       New, smaller iPod Shuffle gets the power of speech

Half the size of the last generation but with twice the capacity, the latest Shuffle boasts a novel way of letting you know what track you're listening to: It talks.

This Shuffle is billed as the "world's smallest music player," and indeed, it looks tiny, just 1.8 by 0.7 by 0.3 inches, or (as Apple helpfully notes) a little smaller than an AA battery.

Gone is the circular navigation pad from the last-generation Shuffle; instead, you get a new in-line remote on the earphone cord, which includes volume up/down buttons, plus a center control that lets you pause and skip tracks. Not bad, but here's the only problem: Third-party earphones won't work all that well with the new Shuffle, or at least not until someone makes a pair with a compatible in-line remote.

Also new: VoiceOver, an intriguing attempt to replace the Shuffle's missing LCD display with a computerized voice that tells you the track name and artist of the song you're listening to. Just press and hold the center key of the Shuffle's in-line remote to hear VoiceOver speak.

The new Shuffle also gets playlist support, thanks to VoiceOver. Here's how it works: Keep holding the center key and VoiceOver will tell you what playlist you're listening to, followed by a list of all available playlists; click again when you hear the playlist you want to select.

The iPod Shuffle is available from a variety of places. You may want to check with some local electronics stores in your area for pricing and availability.Click this link to learn more about the iPod Shuffle that talks from the Apple website <>.

Brian Hartgen has started a new email list called Blind iPod. The purpose of this list is for the helpful discussion of all aspects of using iPods or similar products by visually impaired people, including the software installed onto a computer in order to transfer music or spoken word material onto the device. Although the original intention (and indeed the emphasis) is to discuss the use of iPod products, it is quite acceptable to write about other (what most of us call) portable media devices, inaccurately dubbed as MP3 players by the mass market. Finally, he will allow the discussion of accessing stores for the legal download of music and spoken word material within the context of hopefully transferring the purchased audio content to a portable media device. The transfer of Podcasts to a portable media device can also fall into the scope of the list, but not material contained therein.

To subscribe to this list, please send a blank message to blindipod-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word subscribe in the subject line. I hope everyone benefits from this list.

Click this link to purchase an iPod Shuffle from Apple <>.

Using iTunes 8 with a screen reader such as JAWS for Windows, VoiceOver on Mac OS X, or GW Micro's Window-Eyes 7 on Windows XP and Windows Vista, blind and visually impaired people can browse, search, buy, download and play content from iTunes U and many areas of the iTunes Store. In addition, the iPod nano (4th generation) features spoken menus, so it can be used to navigate and play tracks downloaded from the iTunes Store and iTunes U just by listening.

Shane Jackson takes you on a tour and a demo of the talking iPod Nano 4th generation in his podcast. "I also demonstrate some features of Itunes with the Mac and the iPod. Sorry, Windows users, I don't know how to use Itunes under your operating system, so I trust someone will do a fine Windows podcast very soon concerning this very subject".

Click this link to download the MP3 of Shane's podcast about the Nano <>. Click this link to subscribe to Shane's podcast: . I look <>.

iTunes is one of the most popular programs used by computer users today. And that's especially true for those who love to listen to music. iTunes helps to store and manage all of your music files in addition to different types of media, including videos and podcasts. Podcasts are radio shows downloaded on the Internet. Not only does iTunes make it easy to access all of your music on your computer, but it's also the program you can use to transfer those files onto one of the iPods we've mentioned above.

Once you have iTunes downloaded, the Library tab is the first category you'll see (on the left hand side menu for those that have some vision). The Music tab is where all your songs are sorted, which you can organize based on Name, Time (length of song), Artist, Album, Genre, My Rating, Play Count and Last Played. There's also a search bar located in the top right hand corner (or a quick tab from the main list if using a screen reader) which makes it easier to locate a particular file you may be looking for. My Rating allows you to select the number of stars you wish to give a certain song. You can select anywhere between one and five stars, with five being the highest.

To listen to a song, simply double click on the song selection and it will start playing. Screen reader users will highlight the song and press space to play and tab to navigate the box in the upper portion of the window, which allows you to manage the playback features. For those with some vision, the triangle represents playing the song, while the quotation marks stand for pausing the song. The two forward and two reverse arrows are used for skipping between songs and the volume bar is located right next to that. The search finder is located on the opposite side and in the middle, you can see the time progression of the song as it plays. All buttons are labeled and speak correctly with a screen reader.

The next three tabs in the main list belong to Movies, TV Shows and Podcasts. The next tab, Radio, can connect you to different radio stations, which are organized by their streams. You can click through them to see all of the various selections and choose what you like the most.

The next category is Store, which contains the iTunes Store tab. That enables you to purchase iTunes off the Internet. The third category on the menu is Playlists. The first tab, Party Shuffle, automatically creates a random selection of songs from your music library. The shuffle arrangement is handy if you're indecisive about what you want to listen to at any given time.

The next six tabs that appear on your iTunes menu are the playlists that come with the program itself: 90s Music, Music Videos, My Top Rated, Recently Added, Recently Played and Top 25 Most Played. The first selects songs that fit under the specified genre. My Top Rated lists any songs you have given a high rating. Music Videos includes any videos you have uploaded. Recently Added songs and Recently Played songs are updated frequently and the Top 25 Most Played lists the current 25 songs that have the highest play count numbers.

       Your MP3 Player Can Talk with Rockbox

If you've been wanting to get in on the portible MP3 player craze here's some software that will be of use.

Rockbox is an open source replacement firmware for mp3 players. It runs on a number of different models and allows those MP3 players to have their own screen reader. Players currently supported include:

   * Archos: Jukebox 5000, 6000, Studio, Recorder, FM Recorder,
     Recorder V2 and Ondio
   * iRiver: H100 and H300 series
   * Apple: iPod 4th gen (grayscale and color), 5th gen (Video), Nano
     and Mini 1st/2nd gen
   * iAudio: X5 (including X5V and X5L)
   * Additional models are in development

Click this link to visit the Rockbox development site: <>.

Brian Hartgen has created an audio presentation concerning how to install Rockbox onto an iPod.

Click this link to download the tutorial: <>.

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Nimer M. Jaber

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