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.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Write a Letter Online, Have it Sent Through the Regular Mail

The following tip came from Lisa to FredsHead@aph.org.

I found a site that allows you to write a letter online and send it via snail mail. It is easy to use, and does not require registration. Simply fill in the address fields, write your letter and once finished pay with PayPal. Your letter will be printed and sent ( US first class ) within 24 hours. The down side of SnailMailr is that it doesn't support international letters.

A basic letter ( up to 4 pages ) cost $1.00. You can add more pages for $0.10 and remove the SnailMailr logo for $0.15.

The page is broken into an edit box for return address, another for recipient address and text which reads:

"Step 2:
Write your letter"

Unfortunately, This link can't be clicked in the normal way by pressing enter. Instead, I had to turn MSAA mode off, root my mouse to the words "Write Your Letter," and left click. Once I did this, I was taken to a page where I was able to type in my letter. There are also well-labeled links with shortcut keys for choosing fonts and highlighting, but I did not try these.

Below the newly typed letter is another such link for sending. I also used the mouse to click this and was taken to a page where I clicked on "amazon" to pay. From there, the operation is the same as buying anything on Amazon Marketplace.

Though the site could stand to be more accessible, it is a great alternative for someone who is unable to easily address an envelope or who doesn't have stamps handy.

Click this link to write a letter with http://www.snailmailr.com.

Aman Singer says that "this method of sending letters has been my preferred way, without enclosures or with enclosures that can be scanned, for quite a while, it's easier to use than the standard method, doesn't require any kind of work on an envelope, takes a shorter time (I try to send from a closer location than my own so that the letter arrives more quickly), and I can do it anywhere with any PC rather than requiring a printer, envelope, mailbox, someone to check I haven't made a mess of the envelope, stamp, etc. Privacy goes out the window, of course, but for some letters, that isn't a significant issue.

there are tons of similar services, shipping worldwide from all over the world. http://www.labnol.org/internet/email/send-postal-letters-on-internet-via-email/7097/ has a list. My favourite, not because they're cheap but because they have quite a few printing stations and I like their site's interface with Jaws, is http://www.l-mail.com they also do Braille and Audio letters, which can be useful, though I haven't tried to send any such letters through them. The Braille and audio letters are quite expensive.

Unlike other services, I haven't found a way to upload files to them with images."

How to Address a Letter to a Government Official

How often have we been advised to 'write our Congressmen' when we're up to our armpits in some sort of dilemma or challenge such as keeping video description on television, various dog guide issues, or runaway drug costs for senior citizens? So now you've decided to take action and ask for help from your Uncle Sam (or local Alderman). Good for you, let's get started!

  1. Start with: what, who, where? It helps to clarify exactly what your problem is, so you can determine who or where is your best source of help. For example, if you were plagued by bad sidewalks, you would first start with your local phone directory to check your town or city's listing for either Public Works, or a Department of Sidewalks. That local telephone directory is a decent source of some basic government information, from the municipal all the way to the White House.

  2. Search the Internet. Here are a few helpful sites that contain information about the government.

    You can get some great results by plugging in a few good keywords into your preferred search engine. You may find a more direct route to your answer.

  3. Consider letter etiquette. The Handbook for Writers, (Troyka, Lynn Quitman; Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice Hall, 1990) suggests the following business letter format (shown below). Obviously, if you're writing from a business, you would use a company letterhead, but if writing as a private citizen, any plain stationary will do. The opening remains the same.


Sample Letter



Current date

Government contact name, Position
Department name (United States Department of Homeland Security)
Address line #1
City, State Zip

Subject: Why are you writing? Dear Government contact name,

Your problems, questions or statements should go in the body of the letter, here. Please keep in mind that though it's important to be able to vent out frustrations, a letter filled with profanities, insults, or poorly thought out ideas will not be well received at all. The old expression about 'catching more flies with honey than vinegar' still applies today.

Sincerely,

(Your Signature Here)

cc: the name and title if applicable of anyone else who will be receiving a copy of this letter.

The "cc" at the end of the letter stands for "carbon copy." It's a relic from when people used to use carbon paper to make copies of letters as they were written.

Sadly, in the last few years, our government has had to be more sensitive to perceived terror threats. It's very important not to include threatening or inflammatory comments in your correspondence.

How to Prepare a Basic Resume

There are as many kinds of resumes as there are jobs. Use a style that matches your personality and career objectives.

  1. Choose one or two fonts at most, and avoid underlined, boldfaced and italic text. Many companies use automated recruiting systems that have difficulty with special formatting.

  2. Opt for the active voice rather than the passive voice (say 'met the goal' rather than 'the goal was met').

  3. Provide contact information such as your home address, phone number and e-mail address at the top of your resume.

  4. Include an objectives statement, in which you use clear, simple language to indicate what kind of job you're looking for. This should appear below your contact information.

  5. List your most recent and relevant experience first. Include time frames, company names and job titles, followed by major responsibilities.

  6. In a second section, outline your education, awards, accomplishments and anything else you wish prospective employers to know about you.

  7. Hire a proofreader or have someone you trust proofread your resume. Mistakes in spelling, grammar or syntax can land it in the circular file.

  8. Limit your resume to one page unless it is scientific or highly technical. Less is definitely more when it comes to resumes.

  9. Write a cover letter to submit with your resume (see the Fred's Head article How to Write an Effective Cover Letter).

Leave out personal information, particularly as it relates to your age, race, religious background and sexual orientation.

Avoid obscure fonts, clip art and other unnecessary visuals.

Choose resume paper with a little personality. If you are interested in a high-technology field, send your resume via e-mail.

Print your resume on a high-quality laser printer or new ink jet printer for crisp letters. Avoid using dot matrix and old ink-jet printers that can smear and blur.

Simply reproducing job descriptions is often just a waste of space. What achievements did you have on the job? How can you show that you really performed rather than just met the obligations? Always mention awards, raises, promotions, any other kind of recognitions.

Read Books! Because Braille Matters

The National Braille Press is delighted to continue the distribution of free braille materials to young potential braille readers an their families through the expansion of their "Read Books! Because Braille Matters program.

NBP has produced attractive Braille Book Bags for distribution to families of young blind children, at no cost to a school, or the families. The contents of the book bags include:

  • An age-appropriate print/braille book (in English or Spanish)
  • A colorful print/braille placemat
  • Braille-large print magnetic letters
  • two guides for parents, "Because Books Matter" and "Just Enough to Know Better"
  • A coupon that parents can redeem for either another free print-braille children's book or a set of braille-print playing cards.

The program goals are to:

  • Foster a love of reading at an early age;
  • Expose parents of preschool blind children to braille as an effective method of reading and writing;
  • Encourage parents to learn just enough braille to help their child;
  • Introduce visually impaired children to a means of reading independently
  • Prepare parents to advocate for braille instruction when their blind child enters school;
  • Promote an early expectation of personal achievement through literacy.
Instructions for Schools

In order to receive these free Braille Book Bags, NBP asks you to:

  1. Identify the numbers of blind children who are potential braille readers (birth through age seven, sorry no exceptions) and their families in your area. There are three age-appropriate book bags (0-3, 4-5, 6-7). They need to know how many you need in each age group (English vs. Spanish);
  2. Check with potential recipients to ensure that they have not already received a book bag, as NBP distributes directly to parents and through multiple organizations and can provide only one bag per child;
  3. Personally deliver the book bags or be willing to give NBP a mailing address for identified families;
  4. Return the postage-paid tag on the outside of the bag that will indicate to NBP you have delivered the bag (NBP assumes all costs);
  5. Encourage parents to fill out and return the coupon on the inside of the book bag;
  6. Help to evaluate the program by sharing your reactions and observations after presenting these bags to families;
  7. If you find this program valuable, write a letter of support that NBP can use to obtain additional funds to provide book bags to other families across the country;
  8. Encourage parents to write to NBP about their experiences using the bag and its materials.

To place an order or for further information, please use the contact information below: Amy Ruell National Program Manager ReadBooks! Because Braille Matters National Braille Press 88 St. Stephen St. Boston, MA 02115 (888) 965-8965 Ext. 34 aruell@nbp.org

Using An Interpoint Braille Slate

Because the interpoint slates offered by the American Printing House for the Blind easily can be mistaken for slates for writing on one side of a page only, the following information is presented to make use of these slates easier.

To load paper into either the standard interpoint or interpoint postcard slate, stand the slate on its edge with the hinge pointing left. Open the slate part way so that the hinge is the point of a long narrow letter v.

Stand the paper on its edge between the two plates of the slate. Make sure that the left edge of the paper is backed off a bit from the hinge. When you write on the second side, it will move slightly toward the hinge, and there must be room for it to move without binding at the hinge.

Make sure that when you close the slate, all four pins will pierce the paper. If the pins at the ends of line one are in position to pierce the paper when you close the slate, just press against the pins at the ends of line 4 so they do pierce the paper. Then, when you close the slate, the pins at the top will have been lined up to go through as they should. Using the surface of the desk or table to line up the top edge of the paper and the slate makes certain that the slate will be straight all the way down the page.

As you write the first side of the page, the hinge will be at the left end of the slate. The pins at the top of the slate are located near the ends of line one, the top line. Just below and to the right of the point where these pins come through the front plate of the slate, there are holes through which you press a stylus. The point of your stylus will make pin marks that face downward toward the top of your table or desk. These pin marks are used to register (line up) the paper for writing on the second side of the sheet of paper. Now, here is the trick to having things work right.

When you turn the page over to write on side two, do not turn it over side over side like the page in a book. Instead, turn it over top over bottom. Think of it this way. Suppose you had written the letters a b c d e f g on the first line of page one. As you write, the dots will be facing down toward the table. The letters will be running in a right to left direction. They will be at the far end of the page from you.

When you turn the page over top over bottom, the letters will be at the near end of the page but still going in a right to left direction. The dots will be facing upward.

Put the paper in the slate at the bottom of the page. A b c d e will be on the line closest to you and running right to left. Now, turn the slate around so the hinge is at the right. Now a b c d e again are at the far end of the page but facing up and in a proper left to right direction. The front or cell portion of your slate will be covering the braille and the dots you write (with the hinge at the right) will not interfere with them.

Contributor: Fred Gissoni

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How to Write an Effective Cover Letter

A resume is an essential tool for any job search, but it's not the only tool. Your cover letter is equally important in creating a good first impression for a potential employer. Take some time to make your cover letter great and increase your chances of landing that dream job.

  1. Find a job posting, job tip or advertisement that interests you, and make sure you are truly qualified for the position. Busy employers sometimes receive hundreds of letters, so don't waste their time or yours.

  2. Match the letterhead style and paper you will use for your cover letter to that of your resume. This helps to establish a solid first impression.

  3. Skip the salutation if you do not know the name of the person who will be reviewing your resume. It's best to address the letter to a specific person; call the company and see if the receptionist can give you a name and title.

  4. Grab the reader's attention right away - make him or her want to keep reading. You need to distinguish yourself early from the rest of the pack.

  5. Mention in the first paragraph where you learned about the job opportunity and why you're interested.

  6. Establish a professional image in the second and third paragraphs by highlighting your most significant accomplishments and qualifications. Be careful not to quote your résumé verbatim.

  7. Clarify what you can contribute to the employer's organization rather than what you hope to gain from this potential relationship. You can discuss the latter in the interview.

  8. Remind the reader, in the last paragraph, that your resume will further explain your qualifications, experience and education. Request a personal interview, and indicate the times you will be available.

  9. Close your letter by telling the reader that you look forward to hearing from the company, and restate your enthusiasm for learning more about the opportunity.

  10. Double-check your document for spelling and grammar; refer to a stylebook if necessary. Carelessness makes a bad impression on employers.

  11. Print your letter using a good ink-jet or laser printer.

Before writing your cover letter, research the company to which you are applying. Then your letter can refer to specifics about the employer's business as reasons why you are interested in working there.

Keep it short. Most cover letters stick to one page and use a standard business letter format.

Consider using bullet points in your middle paragraphs to further highlight accomplishments.

Don't get too personal or wordy. Save stories and relevant anecdotes for the interview.

Don't brag. Confidence is important, but don't overdo it.

Skip the statistics. Although the fact that you increased your account base by 68.635 percent more than the last person may be interesting to you, it often means nothing to your prospective employer.

Never, never send a photocopied letter or use a form letter. This tells your prospective employer you are not interested enough to write an original letter and that you are satisfied doing just what it takes to get by.

Find Serial Numbers Hidden in Your Computer

You just purchased a new computer and it came loaded with software and tons of CDs. What would happen if that computer should happen to crash? Would you be able to find all the serial numbers necessary to reinstall all the programs that came bundled with your system? Could you see the print on the stickers?

What can you do to solve these problems?Well, the answer is in the Windows Registry. All of your serial numbers are stored there and you can find them if you know where to look. Don't worry, I'm not going to ask you to go into your Windows registry, I'm going to make things even easier with a free piece of software.

LicenseCrawler is a little gem you can use to scan your machine for serial numbers. The program is 100% free, make sure you don't pay for it.

After downloading the application, simply run it and it will return all the keys from your computer. When you first run the application, you'll have the option of searching your machine or another on your network by replacing localhost with another machine’s hostname or IP address that you have access to. You will need a user name and password for the remote machine with access to the registry. I would leave the registry setting set at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and simply hit the start button. The application will scour your machine and return a screen with all of your keys.

The key that comes up for Internet Explorer is actually your Windows Product Registration. You could use this key to reinstall Windows if necessary. All the other keys can be used to reinstall their respective applications. You will have to manually write them down as there is no copy  and paste functionality, no big deal for a free application.

Click this link to download LicenseCrawler to save your serial numbers.

To specifically find the serial numbers for Microsoft products, click this link to download the Magical JellyBean.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Texas School For the Blind And Visually Impaired

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) provides a wealth of educational services and resources that include adaptive technology and publications. These resources can be accessed through the TSBVI Instructional Resources Page; this website has an easy-to-use search feature.

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
1100 West 45th St.
Austin, TX 78756
Toll Free: 800-872-5273
Phone: 512-454-8631
TDD: 512-246-9451
Fax: 512-246-9450
Web: http://www.tsbvi.edu

Special Education Exchange Resource Web Site

In 1993, Dr. Brad R. Walker started a computer bulletin board service (BBS) called the Special Education Exchange (SpEdEx) in order to provide information to all persons interested in the field of Special Education. The web version of SpEdEx has been online since March 1996.

Whether you are an educator, professional, parent, consumer, student or someone else who has an interest in special education, you will find a variety of resources through SpEdEx. For example, SpEdEx provides links and online documents that provide access to professional, job, school and university listings, conference announcements, a discussion area and even poster sessions in easy-to-use formats. The majority of these are presented in standard web-format, along with a few that are made available in "universal" Adobe PDF format.

Since its inception, SpEdEx has relied on users to help it to grow. With this in mind, SpEdEx accepts users' suggestions with regard to content and it actively solicits articles and other materials from outside sources that it makes available for the benefit of all.

Click this link to visit the Special Education Exchange: http://www.spedex.com.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Creating Keyboard Shortcuts on the Mac is a Spark

Spark is a powerful, and easy to use shortcuts manager. You can use it to set “hot keys” to open applications and documents, execute AppleScripts, control iTunes, trigger menu items, and more.

Here are the steps to set up some basic shortcut keys of your own. Once you understand the basics it’s not difficult at all.

  • When you first launch Spark you’ll get the intro screen.
  • Check the two boxes marked “Activate Spark at Login” and “Activate Spark immediately”. This will make sure Spark will always launch and your shortcut keys will continue to work after you reboot the computer.
  • Now you’ll see the main screen. The table is blank at the moment but once you set some shortcut keys it will display them.
  • Ignore this screen for now and open the File menu, select “New HotKey” and you’ll see a sub-menu with the different types of hotkeys you can set with Spark.
  • You can test each type for yourself later, for now choose the “Application” sub-menu to set up a hotkey that opens an application for you.
  • You’ll need to set all four of the options showing in the pane:
    • Shortcut: the keystroke that will make the hotkey’s action happen, in this case it’s launching an application.
    • Name: just to help you remember what your shortcut does.
    • Action: there’s some options here, for an application “Launch” is probably the one you want as it will also bring the application to the front if it’s already running.
    • Application: click the “Choose…” button and select the application from the file chooser.
  • Lastly click on the “Create” button to create the shortcut. That’s all you need to do - press the key you selected and your application will launch!

If you select the other types of shortcuts, document or iTunes for example, the options are different but most of them are self explanatory. For those that aren’t obvious you can always try using them then press the shortcut key to test what they do. If you don’t like the action, come back to Spark and double-click on your action in the table to edit it.

Click this link to create keyboard shortcuts with Spark: http://www.shadowlab.org/Software/software.php?sign=Sprk.

Accessible MenuPages

Judy Dixon sent the following information into Fred's Head and it's a great resource for those looking to have a night out on the town. Naturally that would start with great food and an accessible menu.

Menupages is a website that has thousands of restaurant menus. nearly 30,000 restaurants in eight major markets: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Washington, DC, and South Florida. You can search by neighborhood, type of food and lots more. Menus are available as "viewable on-screen" or "printable" in a pdf. Both formats are easy to read with a screen reader.

Click this link to visit http://www.menupages.com.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Anne Sullivan Macy Fellowship

The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State University (MSU) sponsors the Anne Sullivan Macy Fellowship in collaboration with the University's Department of Counselor Education and Educational Psychology. Emphasizing rehabilitation research in the area of blindness and low vision, the program was started in the fall of 1992 with the goal of producing scientist-practitioners well grounded in state-of-the-art research methods and practices.

Accredited by CACREP and CORE, this advanced degree program requires students to pursue and to attain a doctoral degree. The fellowship experience includes a paid graduate assistantship with the RRTC; tuition reimbursement; participation in ongoing applied research; involvement with professional groups, state agencies for the blind and consumer advocacy organizations; and involvement in regional and national training conferences. For more detailed information about the Anne Sullivan Macy Fellowship Program, please contact the RRTC director.

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Blindness and Low Vision
P.O. Drawer 6189
Mississippi State, MS 39762
Phone: 662-325-2001
(662) 325-8693(TDD) Fax: 662-325-8989
Web: http://www.blind.msstate.edu

Locating The Keyhole In A Lock

Use your forefinger to locate the keyhole and put the tip of your finger on the keyhole. Then put your key under your finger and guide the key into the keyhole. Some persons use one hand to do this, while others use one hand to locate the keyhole and the other to insert the key into the lock.

Contributor: Jean LeSand

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Phone Support Groups for Families of Blind Children and Teens

The Jewish Guild for the Blind’s National Tele-Support Network, the only one of its kind in the country, provides free, weekly telephone support groups facilitated by social workers and psychologists for families of blind, visually impaired or multi-disabled children and teens. The Guild is nonsectarian and one of the nation’s foremost not-for-profit vision health agencies.

Created by The Guild’s Children’s Vision Health Initiative, which seeks to eliminate preventable vision loss in children, the Tele-Support Network responds to a national need for support and facilitated interaction among these families. For many, The Guild’s Tele-Support Network is the only opportunity for them to interact with other families with a blind or visually impaired child and it meets a critical need especially if participants live in small towns or rural areas.

Families are encouraged to join The Guild’s Tele-Support Network. To register or for more information, please call 800-915-0306 or click this link to visit The Jewish Guild for the Blind’s National Tele-Support Network website: http://www.jgb.org/programs-parent-tele.asp.

Mozekty: The Talking Internet Radio Database

I have lots of friends who ask me for accessible websites to find good links to internet radio stations. I usually send them to http://www.billsparks.org because Bill is visually impaired and understands how to create an online database of station listings that is screen reader friendly. Bill does a great job at keeping his website updated, but there's only so much one guy can do.

Sometimes, you just want to try something new. Why can't there be a database of stations that is being checked by a handfull of people to insure that they are online and why can't that database be screen reader friendly? I was asking myself this question one day and did a Google search for internet radio database. The results weren't good. What I found were programs that were not accessible and tons of online resources that hadn't been updated in years.

Well, I kept searching and eventually came to the InfraDrive Mozekty page. The description of the program said that "Mozekty is a free fast tool to play your audio streams and radio stations, you can also get a list of the latest radio stations on the internet and save your favourite stations. Features include:

  • Listen to hundreds of internet radio stations from around the world with this full-featured player.
  • Add, edit or delete stations from your stations database.
  • Check for latest stations found on the internet by connecting to Bitsnips.com.
  • Get full info and statistics about the current playing stream.
  • Full control from Mozekty system tray icon when the application is minimized.
  • Friendly user interface.
  • Great tool with a small size."

I knew this was the program I was looking for. I went to the InfraDrive Download Page and got a copy of Mozekty.

The program worked great but had one problem with JAWS. As I tabbed through the various options, I noticed that JAWS wouldn't read the actual list of stations. This was an obvious problem. How was I going to know what station I had selected?

I sent an email to support@infradrive.com and got an immediate email and Skype call from Ehab El-agizy. As we chatted, I discovered that this guy was really interested in my issue. He wanted to make this program accessible for blind and visually impaired users and to continue to offer it for free. We talked about JAWS and Window Eyes and how they read the screen to people who are blind or visually impaired. He downloaded a demo of each program and decided that the best way to bring accessibility to this program was to write his own Text to Speech interface.

As you can imagine, I was floored. How many people do you know would take this kind of interest in making a program accessible? Well, a few days later, he was sending me the first beta. It worked well and I could use my default SAPI voice to access most of the program's menus and combo boxes.

This was outstanding. A few days later the second beta arived. Now the entire program spoke and additional speech support was added. Now, I could choose any SAPI 4 or SAPI 5 voice and make it the default voice for the program. I could now access the program just as easily as any person with vision. I was so impressed by the work done that I promised to spread the word to as many blind and visually impaired people as possible. You are reading the result of that promise.

If you are interested in internet radio, I'd like for you to give this program a download. If you know of good internet radio stations, please submit them so we can add them to the database for all to enjoy. The current version does not support streams by RealMedia because of their perprietary nature. This may be fixed in future releases. Ehab wants our feedback and has a forum for us to post suggestions and new internet radio listings. You can also send new listings to support@infradrive.com. He did the programming and I did the testing. We made a great team and I hope we can continue to work together on the program's development. So, what are you waiting for? Click this direct link to download Mozekty.

NOTE: You will need to download the Microsoft .net framework before you can use this program. Click this link to download the Microsoft .net Framework from the Microsoft website.

If you have any questions about the program's speech output, feel free to contact me at FredsHead@aph.org.

Monday, August 10, 2009

FREE DAISY Book Reader from Freedom Scientific

Freedom Scientific is providing FSReader, its popular DAISY book reader, free to users of its PAC Mate™ and PAC Mate Omni™ accessible Pocket PCs.

FSReader for the PAC Mate and PAC Mate Omni can be downloaded free from the Freedom Scientific Web site.

Users who install Freedom Scientific’s JAWS 11 and MAGic 12 products will be pleased to discover that both products include the full desktop version of the FSReader DAISY player. This will be the case with Demo versions of JAWS and MAGic as well.

Click this link to learn more about products from Freedom Scientific by visiting their website: http://www.freedomscientific.com.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Windows Media Player 11 Guide for Those Who Use JAWS

For those who want to better understand Windows Media player 11, here's a guide for users of the Jaws screen reading program, written by David Bailes at Chorlton Workshop for hsbp.

This is a guide for Windows Media Player 11, running under Windows XP. Although the Player can deal with most types of digital media, including audio, pictures, and video, this guide is only concerned with digital audio. The guide describes how you can use Windows Media Player to:

  • Play audio files, audio CDs, and data CDs containing audio files.
  • Organise the audio files on your computer using the Library.
  • Rip audio CDs to your computer.
  • Burn audio and data CDs.
Click this link to read the Windows Media Player 11 Guide. http://vip.chowo.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/jaws/Windows-Media-Player-11-Guide.html

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Accessible TV Listings

TV Guide

BlindBargains.com has found possibly the simplest interface for TV listings and it's from an unexpected source. Often times, wireless interfaces to websites are more usable and slimmed down, making them easier to navigate. Try this link to TV Guide's wireless portal, and obtain a list of what's currently on for your cable or satellite provider in a few seconds. The listings are completely uncluttered, with just the channel number, name, and the current show.

Click this link to visit the wireless version of TV-Guide's TV listings: http://wireless.tvguide.com.

Epguides

Epguides is a website where you can quickly lookup TV show episode titles and air dates. The site currently has episode lists for over 4100 TV shows. You can search and browse them alphabetically, sort them by year, check out currently running shows and view a current and fall US TV schedule grid.

Additionally you can subscribe to newly added shows, recently canceled shows (US only) and recently released US and UK TV DVDs, and get updates on your feed reader using RSS.

Click this link to visit http://www.epguides.com.

LocateTV

LocateTV is a quick search engine for TV listings, in particular for TV shows and Movies. Find out when your favorite shows or movies are shown on TV, see whether they are available online (both free and paid), and view where you can get them on DVD.

Click this link to visit http://www.locatetv.com.

RerunCheck Notifies You if Your Favorite Show is a Repeat

RerunCheck saves you from the time and frustration of setting aside time for live television, only to say: Wait a second, I've seen that before, man, it's a rerun.

RerunCheck is a very straightforward search, having you type or grab a show name from a list of popular entries. RerunCheck tells you if the next airtime of that show is a rerun or not via email and RSS notifications, and without setting up an account. The only additional feature account registration seems to add is the ability to manage the two types of notifications, although if you use RSS ,all you need to do to manage things is delete the feed when you don't want it anymore.

Click this link to use http://reruncheck.com.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Over 70 Years of the Audiobook and How it Rose to Fame

By Peter Markovic

Seventy years ago, a person would not have found an audiobook section in their local bookstore. This is because it was 1931 when the concept of talking books was developed in order to help the blind enjoy the same literature that those who could see enjoy. From there, it grew into something greater as the years went by.

It took a while for the audiobook to grow in popularity because of the types of media it was placed upon. Records were the first method of recording and playback used. They were not very portable. Individuals would play them on their phonographs at home and that was the only time in which they were able to enjoy their audio book.

Later, the audiocassette was developed, which allowed individuals to enjoy them on their audiocassette players. In the late 1970s, cars that came standard with eight track players were being fitted with audiocassette players, which allowed individuals to play their recorded books while on the road. By the mid 1980s, this simple change in the automobile and in the way audiobooks were delivered led to a billion dollar industry.

By this point, not only were the blind and those who were visually impaired enjoying audiobooks, but soccer moms and businessmen who had to embark on long flights and drives were enjoying them in their cassette players. This went on until the 1990s when audiobooks were being recorded on CDs. But it was the start of the 21st century and the advancement of the internet that made them even more accessible. This degree of availability has led to the incredible popularity of the recorded book.

Methods of delivery

Nowadays, people can access audiobooks in these ways:

  • They can purchase books at their local bookstore on CD.
  • They can order virtually any book in audio form on the internet.
  • There are websites that offer free audio books for download.
  • Apple iTunes offers downloadable books for sale on their site to be downloaded onto the iPod.
  • Individuals can download digital books onto their Mp3 players.
  • They can simply download them onto their computers and listen to them from there.
  • Individuals can still find old copies of recorded books on the internet and other venues on both vinyl and audiocassette. In some cases original copies from 50 or more years can be found.

It is due to the availability and the different media forms that audio books are so popular. They are easy to obtain. As a matter of fact, they are easier to obtain than what they ever were before. Once it was figured out that these files could be compressed and transmitted over the internet, the industry skyrocketed.

The time and money factor

There’s also the fact that people are more pressed for time. It is not because there is less time in the course of the day, but because people are busier. Moms enjoy listening to audio books while driving the kids to school, to practice, or to other activities. They’re great to enjoy on road trips. If you are a part of a book club with no time to read, you can use digital books to catch you up while doing other things. It is one of the new ways to multitask in a world that is bustling all of the time.

There is also the money factor that is at play. Audio books tend to cost a little more than paperback copies, but less than hardback copies, which is something that makes them appealing. There does, however, need to be some kind of regulation in the cost so that the low price of audio books would not take away from traditional publishing means. For those who are able, reading is still a very important part of keeping the mind stimulated, but it is true that some just don’t have the time to sit down with a book or they prefer to hear it instead of read it. There are sometimes celebrities who will read these books and some individuals love it when a favorite celebrities voice is telling them a fantastic story. This is another aspect that makes audio books so popular.

A rise to fame

The increased popularity of audio books can literally be considered a rise to fame. Between being able to listen to them anytime and anywhere to being able to obtain them so easily, it is no wonder that most everyone is turning to audiobooks at some point in their life for one reason or another. Right now, almost half of the books being listened to are in libraries, but the other 60% is spread out amongst other venues such as the internet and bookstores. This isn’t in an effort to keep people from reading. Audio books are simply meant to help those who cannot see or do not have the time to enjoy something such as this. It is not meant to replace the paperback, but to help those who cannot use a paperback for one reason or another.

Click this link to learn more about audio books at http://audioforbooks.com/wordpress/.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Assistive Technology Oral History Project

The Assistive Technology Oral History (ATOH) Project was founded by Dave Edyburn and Chauncy Rucker in 2007 to gather first-hand accounts of pioneers in the field of assistive technology (AT). The project uses methodology and protocols used by oral historians who seek to capture the rich experiential knowledge base of a discipline or culture. To date, a small group of supporters have created a list of early contributors that we have used to conduct 19 interviews.

"The initial response has been extremely positive as AT leaders begin thinking about their legacy and new young leaders desire a deeper understanding of the historical context of their profession. We propose to interview as many people as possible who have contributed to the AT field. We digitally record our interviews and have transcripts made of each interview. The audio files and transcripts are then made available online, without charge, through this website. Naturally, we seek to ensure that our documents are universally accessible."

Click this link to visit the Assistive Technology Oral History Project website at http://www.atoralhistory.org.

APH 150th Anniversary Retrospective Website

In 2008, APH celebrated its sesquicentennial. Visit our special website (www.aph.org/150th/) that looks back at the festivities marking our 150th year. Events included completion of the renovation of the APH front lawn; the opening of a new museum exhibit area; an exhibit and presentation in Washington, DC; an essay contest with over $20,000 in prizes awarded; special 150th programming at the APH Annual Meeting of Ex Officio Trustees; and a celebratory luncheon for all APH employees and retirees. You'll find fun text, photos, and video on our sesquicentennial site.

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