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Showing posts from March, 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 …

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 i…

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: http://www.nethaggler.com, 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 o…

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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 re…

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 th…

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 (http://firevox.clcworld.net) 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 yo…

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 a…

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 t…

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…

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.

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.

Visit the lala site at http://www.lala.com and become a member.
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.
Ship the CDs you Have to lala members. Lala finds members interested in your CDs & provides shipping kits for mailing.
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 …

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 http://vawatchdog.org.

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: Standa…

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 http://www.chorebuster.net. 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 aga…

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.

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.

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 http://www.countrycallingcodes.com.

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-lin…

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 r…

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 BadSpelling.com, 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 missp…

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…

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. Th…

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.

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

Click this link to learn more about SCOOPEX from http://scoopex.com.

Tips To Accessorize and Clean Every Room In Your House

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

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. 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. 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. 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. Personalize the room by hanging an inexpensive framed picture or se…

1-800-Volunteer and the Virtual Volunteering Resource Guide

1-800-VolunteerAre 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 …

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 …