Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

(See the end of this page for subscribing via email, RSS, browsing articles by subject, blog archive, APH resources, writing for Fred's Head, and disclaimers.)


Friday, March 30, 2007

Sarah and the Castle of Witchcraft and Wizardry

There is an intruder in the most famous Wizard castle in the land. "She looked to be about eighteen." said a staff member of the Joke Shop. "She shopped in our store and purchased one of our most popular items, a Headless Hat. Then she had a long discussion with one of the owners, and I overheard the two of them talking about a map. The next thing I knew she was gone. Since it is mid summer, there aren't any students in the school, but I think she heard so much about the magic castle, she probably wanted to explore it".

Instead of reading about the intruder in a story, why don't we actually follow her around the castle in this audio adventure from PCS Games.

In the game you are Sarah, an American teenager, visiting the Castle of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the first time. You discover that a mischievous ghost has picked the pockets of the students leaving for the summer holidays and sprinkled money and magical items throughout the castle.

Somewhere in the castle, you will find and use wands that increase your powers, a two-way mirror, Extendible Ears, racing brooms, a Time Turner Necklace , and a very expensive invisibility cloak. With all that and more, Sarah won't have to go through the corridors of the castle unprotected.

The Castle of Witchcraft and Wizardry game transports Sarah and you into a world of fantasy filled with secret passageways and hidden chambers. You will explore the castle, searching for magical items, fighting creepy creatures knowing at any minute, disaster may strike.

So, take a trip with Sarah to the Castle of Witchcraft and Wizardry and pay a visit to the ghost's Deathday party in the dungeon, pop into the kitchen for a chat with the sometimes helpful House-Elf; slide down a pipe for a spot of spelunking in the chamber of secrets, try to hide from the cranky caretaker, pick up plenty of coins to buy sweets at the sweet shop, , spend some time in the library learning new spells, and finally, hold on tight as you fly on a broom trying to catch the golden snitch.

Click this link to download Sarah and the Castle of Witchcraft and Wizardry from PC Games. You can also download the game on the, Draconis Entertainment site.

You can try out the first game chapter which includes the Ground floor, and Basement. You can play this chapter as many times as you wish. A registration key will unlock all 14 chapters.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tips to Help Bread Last Longer

There's nothing worse than needing bread for a sandwich or toast, or a bun for a hamburger or hot dog, and opening the bag to find a rather unsightly looking green fuzzy patch growing on it. Many a bag of bread has succumbed to this unfortunate event in our house, until I discovered a way to make my bread last longer.

With four of us, two being teenagers, we go through a lot of bread each week. The first way I prolong the life of my bread is to freeze a few loaves as soon as I get home from the store. Just set them out a few hours before lunch and you're good to go.

In addition to freezing bread to make it last longer, I use my refrigerator to store it. I learned that trick from my mom when I was just a kid. She has always stored her bread in the refrigerator and I can tell you, it does last much longer. This is a great method to prolong the life of your bread. It stays fresher and tastes better.

One last tip: You can place a couple of slices into freezer bags, and store in the freezer. When you need the bread for something, place the bag into the microwave for twenty seconds on medium power. If you need additional time, just add 10 seconds on medium power until it is to the desired temperature. It should be perfect when you remove it. You can additionally take the bread straight from the freezer and into the toaster with no thawing for a delicious piece of toast in the morning!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Haggle for the Best Price Online

Do you sometimes wish you could replicate online the experience of being in one of those open market places where you can negotiate prices with individual merchants? Or wish you could just keep your eye on a product at an online store so that you know when it goes on sale, without having to go back to the store again and again? If so, then you might enjoy trying out NetHaggler:, a web application that allows you to bargain with participating online merchants.

It's simple to use. You just download a toolbar, the "Hagglebar." Then you try and get better prices for the things you're shopping for in three different ways: by tagging, nagging, and haggling. So, you can simply tag items you want to buy when the price is lowered, in which case you'll receive an alert when the price goes down to your target price (though you're not obligated to buy). Or, you can be a little more active and nag the merchant for a better price, by making an offer. This may be a little awkward at first if you grew up in a culture where you "just don't do that." I, for one, hate to bargain in person, but I might like it better in this context where I don't have to see a human being. The third option is to "haggle in a gaggle," which means you set a price, and NetHaggler will negotiate for you if it can aggregate enough demand at that price.

I love this concept if it works. And I like their whimsical marketing -- to "tag, nag and haggle" just sounds like fun. I haven't checked out the Hagglebar for accessibility with JAWS or Window Eyes, someone give it a try and let me know how it works. Low vision users shouldn't have any problems with a screen magnification program.

Click this link to visit the NetHaggler website at

Friday, March 23, 2007

Your Search Results

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

AFB Senior Site Promotes Independence and Healthy Living for People with Vision Loss

The risk of low vision and blindness increases significantly with age, particularly in those over age 65 (2004 National Eye Institute Study), and in less than five years the first wave of the 78 million baby boom generation turns 65. By 2030, the number of people over the age of 65 will comprise 20 percent of the population. AFB Senior Site, a new, fully accessible website from the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), is equipped with simple solutions to keep this demographic living in their homes, cooking for their families, reading their favorite books, and maybe even taking up a new hobby. This interactive resource is complete with multimedia components that showcase instructional videos, easy "how to" tips, and testimonials to help the growing population living with vision loss maintain an independent and fulfilling lifestyle.

In addition to providing resources on adapting daily living routines, the Site serves as a bridge-connecting users with networks of vision rehabilitation centers, orientation & mobility specialists, and a variety of aging and social services. The Site also plays host to message boards and lists of support groups enabling seniors with vision loss and their caretakers to connect with communities of people who share their same everyday life situations.

Click this link to check out AFB Senior Site at

Article Source:
AFB eNews

Learn Out Loud

Welcome to Learn Out Loud! It's a site full of free audio and video learning. This is a huge database of both sounds and videos that can help you learn. The main page is divided into a couple of sections and they are: Free Resources, Free Content, Featured Free Titles and Browse by Category.

Free Resources: In this area, you will find links to the following: Directory, Authors and Publishers. The Directory button just jumps you down to the Features menu that lets you browse by category.

The Authors area gives you a listing of featured writers on the site. Some of the topics you'll find are business, self-help and many more. Some authors of note to me were Douglas Adams, Lance Armstrong, H.G. Wells, Charles Dickens and even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Publishers section is a full list of the publishers that they have pages for. If you choose one of the publishers to check out, you'll find information on their company, as well as, a link pointing you to the category their work is featured in. It will also give you a link to their podcast, if they happen to have one.

Free Content: Here you'll find the links to the Newsletter, Articles and Podcasts. The newsletter is free. You just have to sign up for it. It will come to your Inbox daily, updating you with what's new in the audio and video learning world.

In the Articles section, you'll find articles on everything from what podcasts are to how to relieve stress to how to manage your time, with lots of different subjects in between. There are articles on religion, politics, sports and so much more.

The Podcast area has a listing of Learn Out Loud featured podcasts for your listening pleasure. I really loved the Great Speeches in History Podcast which gives you the chance to hear some of the greatest speakers of all time. It was a delight to listen to.

Don't want to spend time going through all of that and just want to get down to the heart of the site and start listening? Just head to the menu that lets you browse by a category. Choose the category you want to browse and you can then start listening to the offerings in that section.

All in all, this site is a keeper. It definitely made my bookmark list. Check it out!

Click this link to Learn Out Loud:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

CLiCk, Speak: A Talking Extension for Firefox

CLiCk, Speak is an open source, freely available extension for the Firefox web browser. It is part of the CLC-4-TTS Suite of products, it features a mouse driven interface, and it reads web pages - hence its name. Unlike Fire Vox ( which is designed for visually impaired users, CLiCk, Speak is designed for sighted users who want text-to-speech functionality. It doesn't identify elements or announce events, two features that are very important for visually impaired users but not for sighted folks. It also has a simplified, mouse driven interface that is designed to be easy for users familiar with point-and-click graphical user interfaces. Like Fire Vox, CLiCk, Speak works on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux; and Fire Vox has multilingual support, making it great for users who are trying to learn a foreign language and need to hear foreign language web sites read out to them for practice.

If you're a sighted user who wants to have web pages read to you because you have cognitive issues (for example, dyslexia), because you have literacy issues (like me - I can understand spoken Mandarin Chinese just fine, but reading is difficult for me), because you want to reduce eyestrain and listen to a web page being read, etc., give CLiCk, Speak a try.

Click this link to learn more or to download CLiCk, Speak.

Mobile Eyes Portable Text To Speech Scanner

Guerilla Technologies Inc, has created a Portable Reading Machine/Magnifier for the visually impaired. The company's device named MobilEyes has proprietary software running on a tablet sized computer. The program features Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Text-to-Speech output, Live Picture and Still Photograph Magnification, and a host of other multimedia transfer, storage, and playback options.

With the aid of a ten mega pixel camera mounted to the rear side of the unit, a visually impaired person can point the device in the direction of presumed text and, in a few seconds, hear any words visible within the photograph, read out loud. Practical uses are: reading the menu in a restaurant, wall mounted signs containing text information, newspapers, magazines, mail, advertisements, or products in a grocery store not easily identified by the shape of the container/box. The MobilEyes Reader can even recognize a UPC barcode and identify the product, brand/manufacturer and size of an item. When used as a video magnifier, a person can enlarge the view of any item on the MobilEyes' 7 inch video screen or connect to any computer monitor for even greater magnification. A Professional model comes with a portable flatbed scanner that can identify US currency.

For more information about their Portable and Stand-Alone Readers, including how to contact the company, click this link to visit the Guerilla Technologies website: or

Monday, March 19, 2007

Solar Powered Address Numbers

Did you know that most house numbers are virtually impossible to see at night? Whether you're waiting for food delivery, riding in a paratransit van or expecting guests, clear viewing of your address can be extremely helpful. With the EZView Solar Powered Address Numbers, you'll never again have to worry that service people, paratransit drivers or even emergency personnel will be able to locate your house. Using only solar energy, the numbers light up each evening and turn off at dawn, without electricity or help from you, ever! You will need to purchase a separate kit for each number in your address.

The EZView Solar Powered Address Numbers are visible at night from over 100 feet away. Using the included mounting materials, place the numbers on your house, mailbox or fence, anywhere they'll receive the sunlight they need to charge the included batteries. These solar-powered numbers are completely weatherproof, so they'll function in rain or cold conditions.

During the day, the sun's light is captured by the unit's solar panel, which uses the sun's power to charge its internal battery. When it gets darker, the unit begins to glow automatically, and since the EZView Solar Powered Address Numbers use an LED lighting system, there are no bulbs to change, no shadowing, and no ghosting. Dimensions: 6 1/2" H x 2 5/8" W x 11/16" D

Click this link to purchase the EZView Solar Powered Address Numbers from the SmartHome website.

Visually Impaired Benefit From Video Games

According to a study from the University of Rochester, playing action video games sharpens vision. In tests of visual acuity that assess the ability to see objects accurately in a cluttered space, game players scored higher than their non-playing peers.

Now they tell me. For years, I was told that if I didn't stop playing all those video games I would surely go blind. Well, I am blind, but I don't think my ATARI had anything to do with it.

Click this link to read the article Visually Impaired Benefit From Video Games from Medical News Today.

EdWord: a Talking Word Processor for People with Low Vision

The program I want to tell you about now is an interesting one, a free talking word processor. Although it may not be quite as polished or refined as some commercial alternatives, EdWord may be exactly what many individuals need. The simplicity of EdWord's interface, and the attention paid to accessibility make it worth a look.

EdWord is a basic word processor, without the full range of features and options found in other programs. It is a full function word processor with all the essential features one would expect. The developers have done a nice job of making menus and toolbars accessible. For individuals with low vision, the interface is clear, uncluttered and adjustable in terms of colour, contrast, size, etc. All menus, menu options, and toolbar icons speak their names as the cursor moves over them. Once EdWord is open, the talking tooltip feature extends to everything on the desktop.

EdWord can speak each character as it is typed or each word when the space bar is pressed. Once a word is typed, EdWord will speak it when clicked with the mouse. Unfortunately, Edword does not read sentences or selected text.

User manuals, in MS Word format, are available for EdWord and all associated programs. EdWord is available for Windows 98 and later. . EdWord is part of a suite of programs from UMIST at the University of Manchester and Sense, "the UK's leading organization for people who are deafblind or have associated disabilities.

Click this link to visit the Software page of the Deafblind Online website to learn more about EdWord:

Bathroom Cabinet with LED Light

Do you need to take medication during the night? Do you find that turning on the bright bathroom light makes it difficult to see because of your eye condition? Would you like an alternative to the problem of taking medication in the dark? A company called Robern may have a solution.

Discreetly located in the doors of this bathroom cabinet is a switch that turns on soft blue LED lights. Soft on the eyes, the LED light provides adequate illumination to safely complete all routine bathroom tasks. These doors feature a light sensor that automatically turns on the light in low-light conditions. Users can also choose to manually control the night light. Robern will also offer these cabinets with an electrical shelf upgrade.

For more information, call toll-free 800-877-2376 or click this link to visit the Robern website.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Never a Tough Crowd at Instant Audience

Are you an internet broadcaster? Maybe you're the family commedian? Whatever the case, this site may be of some help.

Instant Audience is a simple soundboard application written in Flash. Simply click on the sound you want and it's played. Sounds include:

  • yeah
  • wow
  • huh
  • ooh
  • haha
  • boo
  • clap
  • aah

This worked fine for me in Internet Explorer, but had some problems with Firefox. You'll need the Flash Player for this to work at all.

Click this link to find your Instant Audience.

Trade Your Unwanted CDs Online

Do you have CDs that you no longer enjoy? Maybe it was something from the days of your youth and just thinking of that CD makes you ill. Lala, don't throw it away, trade it for something new!

As a lala member, you can trade the CDs you have for music you really want. Trading CDs through lala is easy.

  1. Visit the lala site at and become a member.
  2. List CDs you Have and pick CDs you Want. Don't worry, you'll find something you like, there's over 1.8 million CD titles to choose from.
  3. Ship the CDs you Have to lala members. Lala finds members interested in your CDs & provides shipping kits for mailing.
  4. Get the CDs you Want from lala members. Lala guarantees the quality of all CDs received or your money back!

Registering for lala is FREE! You can browse member collections and playlists, search for specific artists and albums, or sample lala recommendations. There are no upfront commitments.

Once you decide to start trading, you only pay for CDs received from your Want List. There are no hidden costs or monthly fees. Every CD you receive costs only $1 plus a standard shipping charge of $0.75. The number of CDs you receive will depend on how many CDs you ship to other members. You're NEVER obligated to ship CDs in your Have List. When someone requests one of your CDs, you decide if and when to ship the CD. The more you ship, the more you get.

Lala provides you with stamped envelopes, so all you need to do is drop your CD in the mail! You never pay anything to send CDs. Your first shipping kits will be sent to you after you agree to ship your first CD. Lala guarantees its members' satisfaction. If a CD is not received in good condition, we will credit your account and make it a priority to fulfill your request.

Like any used CD store, lala is 100% legal! Every CD you receive from other lala members is yours to keep. Since lala doesn't condone pirated music, only original CDs are being traded.

Click this link to visit the lala website:

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

VA Watchdog: Keeping an Eye on the VA

This searchable site includes news, articles, podcasts and videos, VA press releases, and useful information for vets about their benefits and how to claim them - along with a generous dollop of indignation.

The mission of VA Watchdog dot Org is quite simple. It provides the latest information about the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) and other topics of interest to veterans and their families. This information is provided free as a public service. You are encouraged to pass it on to others who will find it useful. All information is carefully documented and links to sources are provided.

The site states, "VA Watchdog dot Org is not a VA "hate site." There are plenty of those if that is what you seek."

Click this link to visit the VA Watchdog site at

Free Typing Tutor for the Blind

TypeFaster is a typing tutor that teaches you how to touch-type. Touch-Typing is using the sense of touch rather than sight to find the key. Once you can touch-type you will not need to look at the keyboard to find the letters you want to type. Kids are not the only ones who can benefit from using TypeFaster. Adults can also learn to typeFaster too. Features include:

  • Supports multiple keyboard layouts, including non-rectangular keys
  • A clear indication of which fingers to use. This is the essence of touchtyping.
  • A 3D typing game.
  • Typing statistics and the option of practising the least accurate/slowest/custom keys.
  • Keyboard is not a fixed size (resolution independent).
  • Multi-user support.
  • Teacher support (view student statistics).
  • Interface for editing lesson files and game settings.
  • Backspace support
  • Right to left text support.
  • Variable text size.
  • Lesson files can be prose or poems.
  • Lesson progress indicator.
  • Completely free with full source code availability

TypeFaster comes in 3 versions: Standard, Accessible and Spanish. The Accessible version is for visually impaired or blind users. It uses Flite, a freeware text-to-speech engine to provide continuous voice support. Currently, only the US-English keyboard layout is supported with speech. The standard version supports the following languages: French, German, Portuguese, US-Dvorak, US-English, Hebrew, and supports the Numeric-keypad.

Click this link to learn more and download TypeFaster from

Manage Chores Online

Are you sick of your roommate forgetting to take out the trash?^DNB Are you a parent that can't get your kids to do the dishes?^DNB ^DNBWell, at Chore Buster you may find the solution to those unfinished household chores.^DNB The Chore Buster task management site allows you to enter tasks, rate their difficulty, divide them among roommates or family members, and even print out a list of chores and who they're assigned to. Now everyone has a list of their weekly tasks, and no one has an excuse for "forgetting" to take out the trash.

Click this link to visit the Chore Buster website at Happy Cleaning!

Shrink MS-Word Documents

Have you ever written a document and ended up with three words on another page? How annoying! Don't you wish you could "shrink" the document a bit and lose that last page?

Well, you could try a different font size. Or, you know, adjusting it up and down just to find the exact change that will remove the need for the unwanted last page. But why waste the time when you could get Word to do that for you?

The solution to this problem is Word's "Shrink to Fit" feature found in the Print Preview section. (File menu, Print Preview choice or use the Print Preview button located on the Standard toolbar).

Once in the Print Preview, you're looking for the Shrink to Fit button. Click it and Word will shrink your document's font size to reduce the number of pages by one.

I sometimes get an error message from the Office Assistant telling me that Word couldn't make the change. With some effort, I found that if I saved the document as is and then tried again, it would complete the shrink.

There you have it. Word's version of the phrase "Shrink to Fit!"

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Accessible CD and DVD Label Making Software

I have been looking for some software to help me label my growing collection of homemade DVDs. We purchased a new video camera a few years ago and are now going through the process of converting our movies to DVD. It's a job but things are going great so far.

I had heard that Acoustica software is very accessible and easy to use. The Acoustica CD/DVD Label Maker caught my eye and I immediately downloaded the program. I discovered that it supports a wide variety of label paper and doesn't require complex setup or configuration to get good results. It worked well with JAWS and has an easy to follow wizard to help you along.

Click this link to download a demo to try it yourself or click this link to purchase Acoustica's CD/DVD Label Maker.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Horse Racing Simulation Game for the Blind

Enter the stadium with your sleek trained race horse, for a period of back to back, authentic horse racing! Complete with commentator,crowd and great ambience! Some of the features include :

  • 5 horses to choose from
  • authentic crowd and background ambience
  • commentator
  • uses Microsoft SAPI to give status info to the player
  • additional support for jaws and window eyes users who dont want to use the built-in speech
  • obstacles to avoid
  • points system
  • easy to use in-game menus
  • high quality sound effects
  • a board creator
  • bonus level
  • cheat codes and easter eggs!

You can download the horse racing game by clicking this link to visit the Lighttech Interactive Light Games page.

Light locater Audio Adventure for the Blind

in Light Locater, you play Detective Henry Johnson as he tries to save a whole city by deactivating the mega radioactive bomb A group of terrorists has planted in it's main sky scraper. Features include:

  • totally self-voicing (no screen reader required)
  • 3 skill levels to play
  • the ability to view your local top ten scores for the 3 difficulty levels
  • the ability to send your score to the Lighttech Interactive score charts.
  • authentic sound effects

You can download Light locater by clicking this link to visit the Lighttech Interactive Light Games page.

Friday, March 09, 2007

How to Call Outside the United States

I never remember how to dial someone outside the U.S. so I'm putting it in Fred's Head to help me remember.

If you live in the U.S. and want to call outside the country, you must first dial 011. This is then followed by the country code and the phone number. In the case of England, the country code is 44. You can get international country calling codes and world time zone information by visiting

Soundings Audio Magazine: News and Information About Living with Sight Loss

Soundings Audio, best known just as "Soundings", is a UK-wide registered charity that produces free, impartial and relevant information for anyone who is, directly or indirectly, affected by sight loss. Their goal is to increase knowledge, independence and awareness and to decrease feelings of isolation and improve quality of life.

Information in audio is produced and presented by a small team of professional broadcasters, readers and transcribers who work alongside other volunteers who give their time and effort to maintain this free public service.

In the sighted world, people are constantly given information that enables them to choose their options. Soundings tries to level the playing field for those who live with sight loss.

Two distinctly different programs are produced:

  • The Soundings Echo. their rolling news and information service offering a regularly updated selection of individual, stand-alone audio features and other information. It's presented as an on-line publication - in audio and text - and can be easily accessed from the Soundings website.

  • The Soundings Magazine. The monthly audio publication, which blends Soundings Echo articles with listeners' comments and opinion. The magazine also supports its own on-line discussion forum and is available to download from the Soundings website - in audio and text - and is distributed on cassette and in other formats. Each edition of the Soundings Echo and the entire Soundings magazine are available as a podcast as soon as produced.

Click this link to visit the Soundings website at

Competing Viewpoints: Retinal Rivalry

Did you know that your two eyes do not see the same image? Cover one eye at a time and you'll see the difference. It's subtle but important. The similar-yet-distinct images are integrated in the brain and this visual fusion is responsible for depth perception and stereopsis.

Why is it that wearing glasses with one yellow lens and one blue lens will not create a world of green? This is the kind of question vision researchers from UC San Diego are trying to answer.

At any instant the brain decides to accept one image or the other, never both.

Retinal rivalry is the explanation for the brain's inability to fuse two different visual images. This phenomenon also occurs in the tangible world. If you hold an apple with both hands you don't feel two apples, do you?

Understanding the phenomenon of retinal rivalry has provided great insights regarding visual changes in stroke victims and for patients with Crooked Eyes.

Want to learn more? Direct both of your eyes to the recent issue of Scientific American Mind cited below.

REFERENCE: Scientific American Mind (Dec06/Jan07) 'When the Two Eyes Clash'. pages 16-18.

Online Spelling Test and the Top One Hundred Misspelled Words

For me, spelling has been easy. I have always enjoyed writing, I guess that's what makes me a good fit for Fred's Head. Are you a good speller? Would you like to take an online test to see how you compare with others?

At, there are five tests that you can take. Choose one and when you are finished, not only can you see your results, but you can see how you compare to others who have taken that particular quiz.

The quiz consists of two columns of words. In each row, you will have the same word. Choose the correctly spelled word by placing a check in the right box. There are 50 questions on each quiz and they are all screen reader friendly. When you're finished, click the "Check My Spelling" button.

The results show the words you chose that were incorrect and the percentage of people who also spelled that word wrong. It will also show you the number of people who have taken the quiz, along with the percentage of words that are commonly misspelled.

Are you ready to test your spelling? I know I was excited to see how I stacked up against the other quiz takers. Check it out!

Click this link to visit

Here's a website that brings you the 100 most commonly misspelled words from A to Z and all you have to do is scroll down the page to navigate!

But wait, it isn't just a list of words! Each word comes with its own tip for helping you remember how to spell it correctly. If there is a commonly misspelled word in the tip for the word you are looking at, you will notice that it is linked. If you click the link, it will jump to that word so you can see the tip for it as well.

Once you've made it through all 100 of these words, you will be at the bottom of the page where you will find a link to 150 more commonly misspelled words. This is actually a list of them, but it's still interesting to check out.

You will also find a link to the most commonly mispronounced words and phrases. This is set up like the first 100 misspelled words. You'll get to see what you shouldn't say, what you should say and a tip on the word. If another mispronounced word is in the tip, you can click the link to jump to where it is on the page so you can see how to pronounce it as well.

Click this link to see the Top One Hundred Misspelled Words

Degauss Your Monitor

Every now and then we have a tip just for the visually impaired readers of Fred's Head. This is one such tip.

Have you noticed that your monitor looks blurry? I mean more blurry than normal. Is it as bright as it used to be? You may be able to fix this problem by degaussing it. Do you know what degaussing is?

Degaussing is the process of clearing your computer monitor of any electromagnetic build up that may have accumulated on the screen over a period of time. When necessary, degaussing can sometimes improve the picture quality of your monitor.

There's a couple of ways to get this job done. First, try just turning the monitor off and then turn it back on right away. Most of the newer monitors will degauss themselves each time they are powered on. You should hear a sound when this happens and if you don't, your particular monitor may not do it on its own.

If that's the case, find the Menu button on the front of your monitor and navigate to the Degauss choice. Select that and you should hear your monitor make the correct noise. Your screen may show a brief burst of colors, but once it goes away, your monitor will be back to normal.

Keep in mind that LCD monitors don't need to be degaussed because they don't deal with magnetic fields. All others should be done on a regular basis to keep them at their best performance levels.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Technoshock: A 3D Audio Adventure for the Blind

Technoshock is a first-person 3D shooter game for the blind and visually impaired. It has been written in the style and spirit of the classic 3D shooter game DOOM. Like traditional shooters, Technoshock lets you control a hero in a 3D environment, with robots and cyborgs attacking you.

Game Features:

  • Six thrilling levels to explore
  • Nine unique weapons to use
  • Eight types of robots to defeat
  • Five difficulty levels

A new class of weapon, that allowed people to fight with cyborgs, was successfully created by Professor Pavlov. However the supercomputer Skynet became aware of it and organized the kidnapping of the professor and his assistant. All the samples of the new weapon were destroyed.

The staff of human resistance worked out the plan of the professor's rescue and entrusted its fulfillment to your troop. However the operation has fallen. You are the only person who has survived. They know nothing of the death of your troop and are waiting on a helicopter to evacuate the humans.

The robots have kidnapped some scientists and are holding them hostage in a 6 storey building somewhere in town. They have rigged the building with traps, and other nasties to discourage anyone foolhardy enough to try and rescue them. Your task is to do just that. You will have to overcome the obstacles and make it to the sixth storey of the building where the hostages are located. You will need to enter part of a secret code into the terminals on each level to eventually obtain the complete code, which will unlock all the doors, enabling you to free the hostages. You will then take them to the roof of the building and call for the helicopter to come to the rescue.

Click this link to download Technoshock and let the adventure begin.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Clean Up After Your Dog Guide with SCOOPEX

Cleaning up after your dog guide has never been easier! Scoopex turns a daily hassle into an easy routine. From its compact package, SCOOPEX pulls out to form a triangle with a grip on top. The plastic capture bag is affixed around one side. Waste capture is accomplished with a single scooping motion. When finished, the grip on top is pushed down to lock and seal the waste for disposal. SCOOPEX is designed for anyone who needs a simple, discreet and convenient way to dispose of their pet/dog guide waste. Measures 2.25x 4.5 x .2 inches Built-in handle locks down to seal after use.

  1. Lift open and press handles together: Triangular frame builds up and bag unfolds.
  2. Keep handles pressed together and scoop waste into the bag.
  3. After collecting waste press down the frame to seal and toss.

Click this link to learn more about SCOOPEX from

Tips To Accessorize and Clean Every Room In Your House

How to Accessorize a Bathroom

Well-chosen accessories can put sizzle in your bathroom's décor. Rotate or rearrange the accessories every month or so to keep the look fresh.

  1. Limit towels to one or two colors (or one pattern plus one solid) to avoid a jarring, laundry-on-the-line look. Bath rugs should match one of the towel colors for a consistent appearance.
  2. Choose a shower curtain carefully. A clear curtain will add to the feeling of openness in a smaller bathroom, but a color can help the room achieve a coordinated look.
  3. Hang a shelf (the space above the toilet is often vacant) to increase storage for items such as neatly folded washcloths and dusting powder. Use small wire, plastic or straw baskets on the shelf to corral small items such as extra razors and soaps.
  4. Place facial tissues in a dispenser that matches one or more other accessories in the room, such as the toothbrush holder or lotion/soap dispenser.
  5. Personalize the room by hanging an inexpensive framed picture or setting out a potted plant. (low-light choices include mother-in-law's tongue and cast-iron plant). If you use a silk arrangement, keep it well-dusted.
  6. Set out items that make scents but are subtle. Options include potpourri and candles, which should be changed seasonally. Use spicy fragrances in fall and winter, and floral scents in spring and summer.

An excellent and decorative towel holder is an old chrome paper towel holder. Just roll up your towels and stack them between the two bars. To personalize this, you can add flowers or whatever around the bars.

I bought a hanging quilt rack with shelves. It looks nice and you can keep your washcloths and knickknacks on the shelf, and hang your towels on the rack.


Never burn a candle unattended. Because a bathroom is usually small, take care to situate the candle away from flammable objects such as curtains and towels.

Shower Curtains has a wide selection of shower curtains and bathroom accessories to help you create that perfect, relaxing bathroom you desire. A bathroom can be like a small vacation. A shower or bath is not only meant to cleanse you, but should also refresh you, and be a tranquil experience.

It can be hard to relax in the tub when your bathroom is in disarray. Sure, shower curtains serve a practical function by keeping water off the floor, but shower curtains are also essential to the design, motif, and the general "feel" of your bathroom. The shower curtain you have will likely stand out more than anything else in your bathroom^DDLso choose your shower curtains wisely. They can make it or break it, as they say.

Teach Soap

TEACH SOAP is an interesting site for soap making instructions, soap recipes, soap making tips and everything you'd want to know about making soap and other handcrafted products including lip balms, lotions, and more!

From beginners to seasoned soap makers, Teach Soap has something for everyone. From simple soap making recipes, to more complex cold process soap making instructions, their beautifully illustrated soap making tutorials will guide you through each soap making project with clear. step-by-step soap making instructions.

Their soap making experts will provide you with all the tips and tricks you'll need to start and manage your very own soap making business: how to find a good craft show, pricing your soaps, business insurance and even how to re-use your fragrance oil bottles.

For those with some vision, their Soap Maker's Gallery features beautiful soap photos submitted by their readers. Take a peek, get inspired and send in a photo of your soaps today!

Click this link to visit the Teach Soap home page:

How to Accessorize a Bedroom

The decorating scheme in a bedroom shouldn't bore you to sleep every night. Choose accessories that are attractive as well as functional, but avoid clutter.

  1. Select a bedside lamp that will take a bright bulb if you read at night. A lamp that accepts a three-way bulb (50-100-150 watts) is a solid choice.

  2. Avoid overloading the bedside table. Consider a wall-mounted swing-arm lamp to free up tabletop space if necessary.

  3. Use pillows for decorating and function. They can support your back if you want to sit up and watch television or read.

  4. Coordinate the room by using the same print two or three times in window treatments, pillows, dust ruffle and/or bedspread.

  5. Place a clock where you can view, or reach it it easily. If you're worried about oversleeping, put your alarm clock where you can't turn it off without getting out of bed. Once you're up, you're likely to keep moving.

  6. Hang something decorative on the wall above the head of the bed. A framed picture is a typical choice, but a beautiful textile such as a handmade rug or tapestry, an oversize Asian fan or a collection of pretty plates can work great as well.

  7. Display family photos in well-chosen frames atop dressers and chests of drawers. A collection usually looks best if the frames are made of identical materials, such as walnut-stained wood, white-painted wood or brass.


Place a telephone and a flashlight within reach of the bed. These items can be life savers during an emergency. If you live in earthquake country, don't hang anything heavy or breakable over your bed.

How to Accessorize a Child's Room

Accessorize your child's room with age-appropriate furnishings. Use toys in creative ways and decorate so that maintenance is easy.

  1. Ask older children how they want the room and accommodate them as much as possible. A 12-year-old girl, for instance, may tell you to ditch the dolls; a 7-year-old boy may want his toy cars lined up on a bookshelf.

  2. Add storage for treasures such as action figures, model planes, dolls and stuffed toys. Hang a shelf above a window or a closet door for seldom-used items; other options are bookshelves or wire shelving for closets.

  3. Provide a display area such as a bulletin board for displaying children's artwork and souvenirs such as photos, birthday cards and concert tickets.

  4. Match the bedspread or throw pillows to the window treatment for a coordinated look.

  5. Avoid trendy motifs such as the newest animated movie character for the bedspread, curtains and wallpaper. These looks quickly become dated and are expensive to replace.

  6. Consider a night light to help navigation toward the bathroom or to reassure a young child who's afraid of the dark.

  7. Hang lightweight, fragile items such as model planes and kit dinosaurs from filament line attached to a ceiling-mounted cup hook. This keeps the items out of harm's way but within view.

  8. Display a photo of your child in his or her room; it's a self-esteem builder.


Never leave items with small parts accessible in the room of a young child. They pose a choking hazard.

How to Accessorize a Dining Room

Yank your dining room out of its decorative rut - the traditional table centerpiece and matched pair of candlesticks. Suggestions follow, but use your imagination for some ideas that will have your friends talking!

  1. Purchase a length of beautiful fabric (about 2 1/2 yards for a 54- to 60-inch-long table), tuck the cut ends under the main body of fabric, and scrunch it into an abstract series of billows and pockets on the tabletop. Fill the pockets with bric-a-brac such as beautiful votives, several candlesticks or china figurines.

  2. Set up a minimalist tabletop vignette with a large platter (ideally ceramic or metal) and a couple of pieces of fruit. Two pears, one lying down and touching. Its upright mate, looks pleasing when placed off center on the platter.

  3. Place Grandma's silver tea service in the center of the dining table in a formal room. The silver will look best if put on a big tray or small tablecloth centered on the table.

  4. Buy a flowering plant - chrysanthemums look casual, orchids look formal - and nestle it in a companionable cachepot.

  5. Install candle sconces or electric sconces on the wall. Use the lights to increase drama in the room during special meals.

  6. Hang a mirror on the wall opposite a pretty chandelier to reflect its beauty and its light.

  7. Decorate the tabletop seasonally for holidays you observe. A crystal bowl is pretty when filled with Easter eggs or colored Christmas tree ornaments; a pumpkin and colorful fall leaves (artificial or real) look terrific for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

  8. Place a lamp on a small table near a window, and team it with items such as a vase of fresh flowers and decorative whatnot box for a pleasing vignette. Turn on the lamp during meals; a chandelier often doesn't give off adequate light.


Never leave burning candles unattended.

How to Accessorize a Family Room

A family room is where household members relax and unwind. Some folks may fidget while watching TV, listening to music or even reading, so keep the accessories durable and casual.

  1. Minimize tabletop clutter because items just seem to materialize in the family room. Reading material, discarded shoes, drinking glasses, toys and remote controls usually crowd up tables. One way to contain some of the mess is to place a decorative box on a coffee or end table as a catch-all for equipment remote controls, coasters, stray pens and the like.

  2. Set up a place to stash newspapers and magazines conveniently and neatly. This could be a magazine rack, an ottoman with storage or a big basket.

  3. Arrange books and collectibles creatively if there are bookshelves in the room. Arrange books according to size and color, and intersperse collectibles for maximum attractiveness.

  4. Place a wastebasket handy to seating so you can discard reading material and mail as you finish with it.

  5. Choose lamps that provide ample light for reading. Lamps equipped with a three-way bulb (50-, 100- and 150-watt options) are excellent choices.

  6. Add a large houseplant to soften the look of the room.

  7. Assure comfort by tossing a throw - chenille feels luxurious - onto a chair or sofa for wintertime coziness. Increase year-round lounging comfort with throw pillows.

  8. Add scent with a great candle or potpourri that's changed seasonally - for instance, spice for fall and winter, floral for spring and summer.


Never leave a burning candle unattended.

How to Accessorize a Kitchen

Considering the amount of time most folks spend in the kitchen, the cook's room should be accessorized at least as carefully as any other room in the house. The following are some ideas to give it a smart, pulled-together look.

  1. Coordinate the textiles. First hang a simple, washable curtain if you have a window in your kitchen, then choose pot holders and dish towels that coordinate with other decor such as the curtains, wallpaper, washable area rugs and countertops.

  2. Hang an inexpensive work of art, protected behind glass, that harmonizes with other elements of your decor. Small pieces can be hung on the wall between the bottoms of the cupboards and the countertops.

  3. Check your lighting. Add a better fixture if existing lighting isn't both adequate in light output and attractive.

  4. Minimize counter clutter. Canisters and a bowl for ripening produce are probably the only near necessities, but you may choose to dress up empty counters that are otherwise useless and perhaps add a vase of fresh flowers.

  5. Store scrubbing pads under the sink to improve aesthetics.

  6. Decorate the empty space between the tops of cupboards and the ceiling with washable items such as infrequently used platters and collectibles.

  7. Use decorative dispensers for your dish soap and/or hand lotion.

  8. Improve storage and upgrade decor with an attractive overhead or wall-mounted rack for pots and pans.

How to Accessorize a Living Room

Accessories complete a living room just as they do your wardrobe. Study the room and decide where it's crying out for the personal stamp that accessories will bring.

  1. Study the window treatments. Change them if they're overly formal, overly casual or the wrong scale for your other furnishings. For instance, delicate lace curtains probably won't go with a massive leather tuxedo sofa.

  2. Evaluate your lamps and add to them as needed. Most seating should have lighting accessible from either a table lamp or a ceiling fixture.

  3. Examine your pictures. Hang them low enough over the furnishings that the furniture and the picture can be viewed as a decorating unit. Bigger is usually better with framed pictures.

  4. Minimize clutter unless you have Victorian decor, which glories in bric-a-brac. This will cut down on your dusting, as well.

  5. Use an area rug to define a conversation area within the context of a large living room. Angle the rug for extra decorating drama.

  6. Add pillows and/or a throw. Chenille is cozy in winter - to the sofa unless you're going for the ultimate in minimalist decor.

  7. Introduce a bit of nature with a flower arrangement or houseplants.

  8. Rotate your pictures and other accessories to give the living room a fresh look.

Housecleaning & Housekeeping Advice, Hints and Tips

A nice starting point for the housekeeping-challenged. Pick a topic - bathrooms, carpets and flooring, garages, etc. - and it will offer articles and tips, product reviews, and links to recommended tools, books, and videos.

Click this link to visit

jandofabrics gave us another tip on The Fred's Head Companion:

Here's another easy way to help freshen up or decorate your home. You only need 3/4 yards of fabric for two seats. Recover your old chairs (dining room or kitchen). Just cut and staple. That's it! And all the sudden your old chairs have a fresh new look.

1-800-Volunteer and the Virtual Volunteering Resource Guide


Are you looking for a place to do some volunteer work? If you are, this Website makes it easy for you to find the organizations that match your goals and ideals. Just search for opportunities that interest you, create a free account so you can sign up and then start volunteering.

It's really easy to start searching. You can search by keyword or by your city, state or zip code. There are advanced search options that really help to narrow things down to find exactly what you're looking for.

Creating your account is very easy too. Just click the "Create Account" link at the top of the page. You are then presented with some options. You can sign up as an individual or as a group. Are you a member of an organization that needs volunteers? If that's the case, you can post your events and recruit volunteers. Just create an account for your organization.

Organizations that need your help for worthy causes are just a click away. This is a great way to be active in your community and gain extra experience that looks good on any resume. You can get local results, so you're giving back where you can see the difference. It doesn't get any better than that! Know someone who is looking for volunteer opportunities but doesn't use the internet? Tell them about the toll free number, you got it, 1-800-volunteer.

Click this link to visit

Virtual Volunteering Resource Guide

When thinking about volunteering, most people think of helping with the homeless or the hungry, but there is so much more out there that you can do. On this Website, you will find many different volunteering opportunities!

The categories for volunteering are: International Issues, Health, Mentoring and Advice, Helping Seniors, Knitting and Crocheting, Animals and Wildlife and Professional Services.

There is also a listing of databases where you can find volunteering opportunities by searching the Web sites that are listed. Follow the link to the database Websites and you can then start your own search.

Each section gives you a brief description of what the organization is, as well as, a link to the organization. Some have multiple entries under one heading, which gives you even more options.

You can also get great tips on how to apply and what you can expect when you apply online in the introduction section, which is under the More On This Story heading. You're looking for the link of "Things to Know Before You Apply."

So, whether you want to crochet or knit a blanket, volunteer with animals or if you just want to find a database to check out what opportunities are available, this is an excellent site to visit!

Click this link to visit the Virtual Volunteering Resource Guide.

Norton Removal Tool

Symantec has dominated the PC security market with their Norton line of antivirus software, among other security based applications for years. The products are very good, which is the reason the company has stayed on top for so long. There has however, been one problem, especially for computer users who depend on a screen reader. The products often cause the computer system to be sluggish and some features are not accessible. Once people run into these issues, they usually want to remove the software and use something that works better with speech. I have been asked to help people remove the products, which is often not an easy task.

I have seen it time and time again. A piece of Norton software (usually the antivirus program) simply does not uninstall. Sure, it will appear as though it uninstalls, but the next time you reboot your computer, you get some error message, because Norton cannot launch like it should. Of course it can't launch normally, half of the components of the program have been removed and the other half are looking for them. This situation has cost me plenty of frustrating hours over numerous machines.

Since everyone who has owned a PC seems to have had the Norton antivirus program at some point in their life of computer exposure, I thought I'd bring you a program to help remove all aspects of the Norton products.

The Norton Removal Tool is small and easy to use. Just double click on the icon and watch it take care of business. The Removal Tool can handle not only antivirus software, but a slew of Symantec's more popular programs as well, including these:

  • Norton AntiSpam 2004, 2005
  • Norton Antivirus 2003 through 2007
  • Norton Ghost 2003, 9.0 and 10.0
  • Norton GoBack 3.1 through 4.2
  • Norton Internet Security 2003 through 2007
  • Norton Password Manager
  • Norton Personal Firewall 2003 through 2007
  • Norton System Works 2003 through 2006
  • Norton Confidential Online 2007

If you have a Norton product on your PC, this is the tool you'll want to use to remove it. It shouldn't give you any problems. It's fast and most importantly, it's complete. The Norton Removal Tool can put the age old Norton uninstall issue to bed, once and for all.

There are two versions of the Removal Tool available. Choose the one that is right for your machine and get started. You can find a complete set of instructions, as well as, the downloads for both the Windows Vista/XP/2000 and the download for ME/98 by clicking this link.

Subscribe to receive posts via email

* indicates required

Browse Articles by Subject

Follow us on Twitter


Write for us

Your input and support in the evolution of Fred's Head are invaluable! Contact us about contributing original writing or for suggestions for updating existing articles. Email us at


The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) makes every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the Fred's Head articles; however, APH makes no warranty, guarantee, or promise, expressed or implied, concerning the content or accuracy of the information provided in Fred's Head. APH does not endorse any technique, product, device, service, organization, or other information presented in Fred's Head, other than products and services directly offered by APH.

The products produced by the American Printing House for the Blind are instructional/teaching materials and are intended to be used by trained professionals, parents, and other adults with children who are blind and visually impaired. These materials are not intended as toys for use by children in unstructured play or in an unsupervised environment.

The information and techniques contained in Fred's Head are provided without legal consideration (free-of-charge) and are not warranted by APH to be safe or effective. All users of this service assume the risk of any injury or damage that may result from the use of the information provided.

Information in Fred's Head is not intended as a substitute for professional advice or treatment. Consult your physician before utilizing information regarding your health that may be presented on this site. Consult other professionals as appropriate for legal, financial, and related advice.

Fred's Head articles may contain links to other websites. APH is not responsible for the content of these sites.

Fred's Head articles created by APH staff are (C) copyright American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. You must request permission from APH to reprint these articles. Email to request permission.

Any submissions to Fred's Head should be free of copyright restrictions and should be the intellectual property of the submitter. By submitting information to Fred's Head, you are granting APH permission to publish this information.

Fair Use Notice: This website may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright holder(s). This site is operated on the assumption that using this information constitutes 'fair use' of said copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law.

Opinions appearing in Fred's Head records are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Printing House for the Blind.