Archive for the ‘AccessWatch News’ Category

AccessWatch Gets An Update

February 6, 2008

I didn’t realize how long it had been since I updated the AccessWatch web site until I undertook the project this afternoon. You won’t see any drastic changes in the site, but if you look arefully you should notice some changes. Stay tuned for more improvements.

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AccessWatch Finds a New Home

December 13, 2007

Greetings AccessWatch Users:

Over the past four days I have written to you more than I have over the past three years. I told you the AccessWatch review system appeared to be in trouble. I sent a couple of you into a panic when I suggested the worst-case scenario I was looking at regarding the cost of maintaining the site. I asked for honest feedback regarding whether or not users would be able or willing to subscribe to the site. A few of you were willing to do so, but most of you stated candidly that, although you would hate to see the review system go away, you didn’t use it anywhere nearly enough to justify paying for it. I visited with people smarter than me about what I did and didn’t need in the way of a web host. I read dozens of reviews on the Internet regarding a myriad of Web host providers. I am amazed at how negative most of those reviews are. I looked at pricing and wore Tyson out on Skype batting ideas back and forth. I took the review system offline for an evening and spent the rest of the time reconfiguring the Victor Reader Stream discussion list to reflect the fact that I had been given the position of list moderator by the former owners. Tyson called GoDaddy with our AccessWatch database issues and, while one tech support person was able to replicate the problem, the advance team running all their scripts on the database was unable to replicate the problems we have been having. I put the site back online for a day and found that it worked marginally at best. Thanks Blake for managing to get one more review up while the site was still really unstable. Tyson continued to scour the Net for any affordable Web hosting company who had decent customer reviews. He sent me a link to ICDSoft.com last night. I read some very positive reviews about the company and decided to sign up with them today. So here is where we stand.

AccessWatch is up and running at its new home. The review system is working again. Be aware that after you activate the submit button, you will need to wait about 15 seconds for the review to go through. That feels like an eternity when you’re waiting, but just be patient.

I have 60 days to decide whether this new host is going to work out. If it doesn’t, I most likely will take the review system down. The new guys are a bit more expensive and give me less storage space, not that storage is a big issue for me now. Nevertheless, if ICDSoft can’t deliver what I need, I might as well stay with GoDaddy. I need you all to submit as many reviews as you can reasonably think of. Let’s put the system through its paces in the next two months. Oh, by the way, the site is still free!

For the person who requested that I find a way to post reviews on the blog, I’m looking into that as well. Stay tuned.

Happy holidays from the AccessWatch staff. (That would be Tyson and me.) Can we be staff if we don’t get paid? (smile)

Back Online? We’ll See!

December 12, 2007

I decided to bring the review system online again this evening to see what would happen. Low and behold, I was able to add a review for Studio Recorder. If you are receiving these messages, try to submit a review or two and let’s see if this thing will actually fly. I may still switch web hosts. Reviews for ICDSoft.com look pretty good. If anyone knows about these guys, drop me a line or leave a comment on the blog. GoDaddy can’t seem to consistently replicate my database problems on their end and apparently neither can I. Stay tuned for more details!

The Future of the AccessWatch Review System

December 11, 2007

Greetings AccessWatch Users:

I have decided that it will be necessary for me to take the AccessWatch review system offline for the foreseeable future. It is becoming apparent to me that some careful consideration needs to be made in order to determine how to best make the database for the review system as reliable as possible. I am looking into several options, not the least of which is to increase the entries in the AccessWatch blog significantly. Thanks to Jeff Bishop and the Main Menu team, AccessWatch has an incredible opportunity to share software reviews with the blind community. Several people have expressed a desire that the AccessWatch blog be better maintained. My friend Tyson Treasure—the real brains behind the review system–is increasingly busy and has less and less time to devote to the project as well. The last three years have been fun, and AccessWatch isn’t going anywhere. I think it is simply time to reexamine how AccessWatch can best serve the blind community. On a personal note, I have more exciting news coming, but I don’t want to divulge it at this time. Watch the blog in the coming days. Thanks to everyone who has submitted reviews to the site and made it what it is. If you would like me to feature a product review on Main Menu, please drop me an e-mail with a short review. Unless you request otherwise, I will give you credit for the review by name. If you don’t already have it in your contacts list, you can find my contact information on the AccessWatch site. Take care and happy holidays.

Very Important AccessWatch Issue

December 9, 2007

Dear AccessWatch Users:

It is becoming increasingly apparent to me that the AccessWatch review system is not going to work reliably using the inexpensive hosting

packages I have used for the past three years or so. In order to have a reliable hosting service that will support the AccessWatch review

system, I am going to need to spend quite a bit of money over the course of a year, possibly as much as $1000. I need to know how many

current users of the system would be willing to pay $19.95 per year to continue using the review system. People would still be able to access

all other areas of the AccessWatch web site for free, but the software review area would be on a subscription basis. I might also include

some exclusive content such as tutorials and audio reviews with the yearly subscription. This idea is still in the very preliminary stages of

development, and I need to know how many users feel that they use the software reviews enough to justify paying for the privilege of using

them. I have considered alternate ways of presenting software reviews such as the AccessWatch blog already in place, but it certainly

wouldn’t be the same as the original review system that has been in place up to this point. It really is decision time for me and I honestly

need to hear from you the AccessWatch users regarding this matter. Please drop me a line at the e-mail address below:
jamiepauls@sbcglobal.net
If you are reading this on the blog, please feel free to leave a comment there as well.

Thank you very much for considering this matter.

Jamie Pauls

My Thoughts On Producing A Tutorial

September 5, 2007

My first effort at producing a paid tutorial is about two weeks old now and I have some thoughts I’d like to post here. First, it was as much fun as I hoped it would be. I love the process of recording and editing; I always have even from the time that I was playing with tape recorders as a little kid. I think many blind people have this in common. We’re not into photography so audio is the most natural choice. Podcasting is fun, but unless you produce a wildly successful podcast like Blind Cool Tech or Republic of Avalon Radio, you don’t get a lot of feedback. Producing a paid tutorial forces a conscientious person to do the best quality work they can. If people buy your product, you know they are most likely going to listen to it.

A program such as Rhapsody is a moving target of sorts because aspects of the software could change at any time. If you produce a tutorial on Office 2007, even if it is 30 hours in length, the Office apps won’t change until the next version of Office comes out. Anyone purchasing Office 2008 knows that your 2007 tutorial may or may not be relevant. Anyone purchasing a tutorial such as Jonathan Mosen’s Skype tutorial or my Rhapsody tutorial is going to be upset if the program is accessible for only two days after they purchase it. That is what potentially could have happened with my tutorial. The first version was based on version 3.1 of the Rhapsody software using Window-Eyes with no set files and some free scripts developed by Chris Nestrud for Jaws users. Real Networks decided last Saturday that users would no longer be able to use versions of their software earlier than version 4.0. With bated breath I installed the latest version. Fortunately, it was every bit as accessible as the earlier version if not a bit more so. Unfortunately, the Jaws scripts were rendered useless by the update. I spent from 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon until 2 am. Sunday morning updating the tutorial. Combined with some glitches I had delivering the content to my buyers upon purchase, I didn’t wrap up the delivery of the updated tutorial until Sunday evening. A bit of a rocky start for my first effort, but it appears to have turned out well.

I have received favorable comments from Toonhead and Anna Dresner among others who have listened to the tutorial, and this encourages me greatly. Anna gave me some tips that I will incorporate into a future update. I have promised purchasers free updates to the tutorial for as long as it is available. I also added an HTML document to the zip archive which lists the table of contents to the tutorial along with some keyboard shortcuts for Rhapsody. I wanted to link the tutorial’s seven MP3 files from within the document assuming the files were all stored in the same directory. Apparently I don’t know the correct code for doing this. If anyone does, please let me know.
I purchased a new headset mic yesterday which should improve the quality of future submissions greatly. It is the Plantronics Audio 350 headset mic. You can get it from Best Buy as well as other places online. I paid $34 for mine, but I’m sure it can be had a bit cheaper if you want to search.

Overall, my experience with producing a tutorial has been quite favorable. Thanks to everyone who has purchased the tutorial up to this point. Until next time, have a great week!

The First Ever AccessWatch Tutorial Is Here!

August 23, 2007

This first AccessWatch tutorial covers the use of the
Rhapsody music service.
There are eight MP3 files provided in the .zip archive, totaling some 82 minutes
of information. Topics include:
Overview of the tutorial
Description of the Rhapsody music service including types of accounts available
Setting up a Rhapsody account
Downloading Jaws scripts for Rhapsody
Downloading an accessible version of the Rhapsody desktop application
Exploring the desktop application and the web interface with both Jaws and Window-Eyes
Searching for and playing tracks with both Jaws and Window-Eyes
Purchasing tracks and burning them to CD
Topics which may be covered in future updates to the tutorial
The cost of the tutorial is $9.95. After you click on the Pay Pal button , you
will immediately be taken to a link where you can download the zip file. Anyone who
purchases the tutorial will be eligible for any and all updates that come out in
the future. You will be notified by e-mail when these updates become available and
will be given a link to download them.
Go to http://www.accesswatch.info and move to the AccessWatch Tutorials section which is a level 3 heading. From there you can purchase the tutorial.

Still Alive and Well

July 30, 2007

It has been almost two months since my last post, so I thought I’d just drop a quick note to let everyone know that I’m still around. This has been a busy summer. It is hard to believe that it will soon be over. I have added some links to AccessWatch in the past month or so, and I urge all to check out the site. I have also been reading the Blind Confidential blog which I find quite interesting. I will add it to the AccessWatch blog roll eventually. I trust that everyone is having a good summer. Take care and God bless.

AccessWatch Update for Friday!

June 8, 2007

Greetings all. It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but AccessWatch is still alive and well.

Below is a post from BookShare that may be of interest. Have a great weekend.

Don’t Miss the Opening of the Bookshare Chat Room Today!

Would you like to learn more about all aspects of Bookshare? Would you like to meet others who contribute so much to the thriving organization that continues to bring the gift of reading to hundreds of people? Would you like to get specific answers to questions about how to do a better job of scanning and/or validating books for the collection? If you answered Yes to any of these questions, you will not want to miss the initial launch of the Bookshare Chat Room at 1:00 p.m. Pacific, 2:00 p.m. Mountain, 3:00 p.m.
Central, and 4:00 p.m. Eastern. There is no charge and everyone interested in reading is invited.

to attend and share ideas, get answers to questions immediately, and form a community of friends with a common interest without leaving your home or office, go to:

http://tinyurl.com/2avczp

If this is the first time you have entered a Talking Communities chat room, you will need to install and then run the Talkcom software. It is very small and safe to install on your computer.

When the installation is complete, return to the sign-in screen and select the Enter Room button. Enter your first and last name, Leave the Password field blank.
tab to the log in button, and press Enter.

You will then be in the chat room and can begin talking with others in the room by pressing and holding down the Control key.

All you need to attend is a PC running Windows 2000 or later, an Internet connection, a sound card, and speakers. A microphone will be needed to allow you to interact audibly with each other. If, however, you do not have a microphone, text chatting will be available.

You can personally record each session. This will enable you to capture the event on your own computer for future reference and note taking.

Tell all your friends to join us.

The Bookshare Chat Room is made possible by the Accessible World in partnership with Talking Communities.

See you there!

Pat

AccessWatch Update for Friday!

May 19, 2007

I’ve missed two Fridays. Sorry about that. Last Friday my wife had a death in her family and we spent the weekend in Kirksville. Yesterday I was at a wedding rehearsal. Here are some reviews I have not posted to this blog. Have a great week.

This is an alert to let you know that jajoehl has just added a review for TypeAbility version 2.1.1. You may read it by using the following link:
http://www.accesswatch.info/reviewdisplay.php?pid=162

This is an alert to let you know that jajoehl has just added a review for AudioBraille version None Specified. You may read it by using the following link:
http://www.accesswatch.info/reviewdisplay.php?pid=161

This is an alert to let you know that JamesScholes has just added a review for AxCrypt version Unknown. You may read it by using the following link:
http://www.accesswatch.info/reviewdisplay.php?pid=158