Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Apple Opens Up Their OS X Mavericks Seed (beta) Testing Program To Everyone

Interesting to see how this develops with Apple opening up the OS X Mavericks Seed (Beta) testing program to everyone, not just developers.

Here is an article link from Mashable:


http://mashable.com/2014/04/22/apple-opens-up-os-x-betas-to-all-users/?utm_cid=mash-com-Tw-main-linkHere is the link to the actual OS X Mavericks seed testing page:




Apple News - iOS 7.1.1 updated (includes fix to VO BT KB bug)

Great to see this iOS 7.1.1 update come out, including the VoiceOver Bluetooth Keyboard bug fix which stopped users of VoiceOver typing in to any edit field on iOS.


Its only been just over 4 weeks since the bug was introduced with iOS 7.1 with a previous issue with not being able to shut up the voice with the Control key: all seems fine now for both issues: fingers crossed.


If you haven't got notified of the update, go to Settings, General, Software update.


Here is a link from The Unofficial Apple Web Blog (TUAWB) in respect to the update:





Sunday, 20 April 2014

My favourite Mac Apps - Talking Tech for April 22 2014

My Top Mac Apps




Besides the builtin Mac OS x apps including: Calculator, Calendar, Contacts, Dictionary, FaceTime, iTunes, Mail, Maps, Messages, Notes, Reminders, Safari, and Textedit, these are the apps I use on the Mac all the time for one reason or another.  Keep in mind, that most of these apps also appear in iOS.


The Mac iBooks application is still currently off the list as Apple still needs to do some work on its overall accessibility, the Mac Kindle app is still inaccessible, and Microsoft Office remains inaccessible to VoiceOver users.


To make it more efficient for me to access many of these apps, I used the VoiceOver Keyboard Commander to launch these apps with the Right Option key.  For example: Option+A Amadeus Pro, Option+B Byword, Option+D MarsEdit, Option+F Airfoil, Option=K Skype, and so on.  Besides the default VoiceOver Keyboard Commander app launch options of Option+M for Mail and Option+S for Safari, I also added a few short-cuts for other default Mac apps such as Option+E for TextEdit, Option+I for iTunes, and Option+J for Messages.


Where the developer has a similar app on iOS, an app can interface with a particular app on iOS or there is a particular favourite app for iOS which does a similar function to the Mac app, I have listed it as well with the Mac app.


Probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway (smile), these apps work fine with VoiceOver on Mac OS X and iOS.


The following list of applications are either from the Mac App Store (which you can get to via the Dock on the Mac or from the 3rd party developers website.


Activity Timer


A very simple and straightforward activity timer which I tend to use when cooking or timing myself on the treadmill.  Just remember, this app once run is accessed via the Extra’s menu which you can get to with VoiceOver with Control+Option+MM.




Airfoil and Airfoil Speakers


Both of these applications are from Rogue Amoeba. Airfoil: allows you to play to multiple AirPlay speakers from apps on your Mac (such as iTunes or my daisy app ReadHear) on the same Wi-Fi network around your house, having control over every single speaker. AirFoil Speaker: turns your Mac in to an AirPlay speaker. Where the magic comes in though, is when you use Airfoil speaker as the audio source for Airfoil, then have your iOS device (such as your iPhone) AirPlay to your Mac (AirPlay speaker): which means, that you are AirPlaying to multiple speakers not just one which AirPlay normally supports.




The Airfoil Speakers iOS app to turn your iOS device in to an AirPlay Speaker.




Airplane Setting


As the name suggests, turn off your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings when you fly, just saves that little bit extra of mucking around.




Amadeus Pro


This is the audio recording and editing app that I use for all my podcasts, and the occasional meeting or conference I wish to record/edit.




Battery Monitor


This one is great when I’m working on the train.  Monitors your battery charge and discharge cycles, plus speaks out every 10 percent.






This is a great text editor.  I mainly use it for when writing mark down documents which I then want to turn in to HTML files.




Here is the ByWord iOS App Store download link as well.






A great game to play for a bit of time out.  In this game, you have to stack coins of different denominations before the time runs out. A self voicing game on the Mac where once the game has started, you can Command+F5 to turn off VoiceOver and use the inbuilt in speech in the game itself.




Clock Chimes


Just something different to the Mac’s default talking clock.  Make your Mac chime on the hour, quarter, and half an hour. 4 types of chimes to choose from. .




DocuScan Plus


Complete scanning (OCR) solution for the Mac. This application requires an account on docuscanplus.com. Scan, read, save printed documents as well as PDF files. Email the document or convert to daisy, mp3, large print or to a Braille file. You can even send the document to your Kindle. I tend to use this app when everything else fails to work.






As I listen to podcast all the time to keep up to date with main stream and assistive technology, this must be one of my most used apps on the Mac.  Listen to a whole range of podcasts on your Mac, companion to the Downcast app on iOS.




Here is the DownCast iOS App Store link as well:






allows you to share files with devices, in my case, between all of my Mac,and iOS devices. I also use it to share folders with people that I have to give or share content with: such as sharing my podcasts with Applevis or ACB Radio MainMenu.




Here is the Dropbox iOS App Store download link as well.




Instant TWIT


Sometimes rather than just downloading and listening to the various podcasts from the TWIT Network, I like to listen live.  Just remember, this app once run is accessed via the Extra’s menu which you can get to with VoiceOver with Control+Option+MM.




Here is the TWIT iOS App Store download link as well.






I’ve snuck in iTunes here for a number of reasons.  I Use iTunes to watch movies and TV shows on my Mac, redeem iTunes Gift Cards via the EyeSight camera, listen to audiobooks from audible.com, search for iOS Apps, and Airplay iTunes Radio around my house during the day.




Keeper Password and Data Vault


Keep all your passwords and data such as credit numbers secure, on the cloud, and synced with your iPHone, iPod touch or iPad. Use Keeper for iOS to sync across Mac/Devices: which is exactly what I do, very very nice considering how many logins and passwords I have.





Here is the Keeper iOS App Store download link as well.






This is the blog app I use for my technology blog site.





This is the iOS app I use (Blogger) to keep track of my blogs on blogspot.com.





Money Reader


Like the iOS app, this app on the Mac identifies paper currency via the EyeSight camera. Somtiems a bit faster than having to get my iPhone out of my pocket, particularly if I am working on the Mac.




Here is the Money Reader iOS App Store download link as well.




Music Healing


This app plays a range of relaxing music.  I tend to use it at night time via Airfoil to Airplay the music to my boys rooms as they like having music to go to sleep with.




Here is the Music Healing iOS App Store download link as well.







Apple's word processor. You can open Microsoft Word documents with it. Can also save documents out from it so that it can be opened by Word. Now this is another app that I use all the time as its also the companion to the Pages app I use on all of my iOS devices, so that I can work on documents on my Mac or iOS devices and they are all up to date with any changes.




Here is the Pages iOS App Store download link as well.



Notational velocity

Take and search notes quickly on your Mac.  Syncs with SimpleNote on iOS.  I find this is a great combination for jotting down notes at any time on either platform.



Here is the SimpleNote iOS App Store download link as well.






Great app for scanning printed books (OCR) from my flat-bed scanner or even using my iPhone as the actual scanner/digital camera. In addition, this app allows me to scan/OCR PDF image files which I would otherwise not be able to access at all by VoiceOver on the Mac.




Here is the Prizmo iOS App Store download link as well.




ReadHere Pro


Daisy audio and text player for Mac. I use ReadHear to listen to daisy books from the Vision Australia Library.




Here is a similar app (Voice Dream Reader) for iOS for reading daisy books and other formats via audio.






This is a self-voicing game portal (i.e., you have to turn off VoiceOver to use it) which allows you to play against the computer (bot) or another person or person on the internet quite a number of games. Including: Monopoly, Uno, Blackjack, Yahtzee, One Thousand Miles, Battleship, Shut The Box, Apples to Apples, Farkel, Rummy, Pig, and Bingo. I think my two favourite games from RS Games is Battleship and Pig.






An easy to use viewer for Pdf text files, just like reading in a text editing application.






In this game, once you have entered the Silver Dollar Saloon, you can prove your self a gun fighter by shooting different sized plates as the fly past faster and faster, take a go at the one armed bandit slot machine or (pick a fight (this last one I could have done without). A self voicing game on the Mac where once the game has started, you can Command+F5 to turn off VoiceOver and use the inbuilt in speech in the game itself.






I’m fairly sure we all know what is Skype by now: audio, video or text chat client.




Here is the Skype iOS App Store download link as well.




Song announcer


Leave running and receive via speech synthesis the track playing plus artist name when changing tracks via the Apple remote or the FN hardware keys F7 (Previous track), F8 (play/pause current track), and F9 (next track).






Use your Mac as your Bluetooth keyboard to your iOS device (including your Apple TV). One of those apps that you don’t know what you did before it came along. Means if I wish, I can use my Mac to access my iPhone, iPad or as I said apple TV. Just remember to Command+F5 to turn VoiceOver off when you start using it with your iOS device.





White Noise


The popular White Noise app for iOS devices is now available on the Mac. Various sounds including ocean, train, cars, wind, etc. Great for down time background noise or when your on a flight and you want to shut out background noise.




Here is the White Noise iOS download link as well.



World Radio


Actually use this radio app for listening to Vision Australia live radio.  Just remember, this app once run is accessed via the Extra’s menu which you can get to with VoiceOver with Control+Option+MM




XMart Volume


Alters your headphone volume when someone speaks to you automatically when you listening to music for example, comes in very handy when I’m working on my Mac.




Here is a similar app (Awareness)on the iOS App Store.





Great twitter application, searching for Night Owl in the Mac App Store will find the application. This is the app I use all the time for Twitter when I’m on my Mac.




Here is a link to my favourite Twitter (TweetList) app for iOS: 



Wednesday, 16 April 2014

About the Interactive iHouse Stand at the Recent International Low Vision Conference Mar/Apr 2014

At the recent international Low vision conference held in Melbourne from the 31st of March to the 4th of April 2014, the interactive iHouse was dreamt up by Vision Australia and input from Apple as a perfect mix of Apple technology enabling every day activities for people living with vision loss.


Split into four rooms (bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and lounge room) as a square, the iHouse replicated a vision impaired persons' experience in the home with the assistance of the latest accessible technology with Apple or 3rd party related products.


Each of the rooms  in the iHouse was appropriately furnished:

Bed, side table, clothing stand in the bedroom,

Fridge, cook top and bench in the kitchen,

Shower stall and cupboards in the bathroom, and

Comfortable charrs, coffee table and large screen TV in the lounge room.


Each of the zones measured 5 by 5 metres, walls with a door separated  each room, a large comfortable rug was underfoot in the lounge room, and a sensory garden was located beside the iHouse.   If visitors to the stand din’t wish to utilise the doors, they could go out and round the walls separating each room.


Each room for demonstration purposes had its own iPhone and iPad with specific apps plus an Airplay speaker.  An iMac was setup in the kitchen, and a Apple TV was connected to a large screen TV in the lounge  room.  In addition, a stand with an iPad was also connected via Airplay to a large TV screen.


An Apple Wireless keyboard was paired to the Apple TV in the lounge room to allow the navigation of the Apple TV and searching for movies etc.  The Logitech Solar KS760 keyboard was also discussed which allows the pairing of up to 3 devices from the one keyboard, so that a person can easily switch from the Apple TV, to the iPad, and then to the iMac if required.


A treadmill, blood pressure monitor, scales, and a Fitbit were all grouped under health in the bathroom.  The treadmill was to show case the Fitbit flex app and hardware, whilst the blood pressure monitor and the scales were to show case the ease of use of these Bluetooth  connected  devices with an iPhone or iPad  with their accompanying accessibility options.  The Zombies Run App was discussed as a sort of fun way to keep running on the treadmill.  The blood pressure monitor proved to be a popular item for visitors to try out.


The sensory Garden next to the iHouse showed visitors the use of the Parrot Flower Power Sensor connected to an iPad via Bluetooth to allow monitoring of soil moisture, temperature etc to allow some one with low vision to take easy care of their herbs, vegetables, plants etc.


The Kitchen show cased the use of the iDevices Kitchen Thermometer  to monitor the temperature of meat when cooking, the Woolworth’s app for checking what was in the pantry and adding to a shopping list, and using an iPhone, iPad or a Mac for looking up recipes on the internet.  Again, accessed by the built-in accessibility options.  


The iMac via the iBooks application allowed visitors to take a look at the free iSee publication by David Woodbridge and iPad Tips and Tricks by Jeanette Davies.  Visitors could also find out about all of the items on show case via Safari which showed the iHouse page from the conference website at:




The bedroom show cased:

Siri for setting alarms, checking the weather, and checking appointments for the day,

ABC Radio app for listening to any of the ABC Radio stations from around Australia,

eSleep app for crating different mood sound    environments for relaxing or going to sleep,

Looktel Money Reader app for identifying paper notes in a wallet,

Digit-Eyes app to identify colour of clothing, and

a big clock app  running on the iPad to easily tell the time.  


The lounge room show cased:

the use of the Apple TV to stream movies and TV shows to the large screen TV accessed by either speech output or high contrast low vision options by either the dedicated hardware remote or the Remote app on the iPhone or iPad,

Streaming from the iPad or iPhone the aBC iView app via the Apple TV to the large TV, and

Using the Belkin Stage Tablet stand with the iPad via the Vision Assist app to magnify or OCR hard copy documents such as mail and display again to the Apple TV on to the large  screen TV or view just on the iPad itself.  The Find My iPhone app was demonstrated from the iPad to find the iPhone via sound so that a person can find where they had put it down or let it slip behind the lounge etc.


Of course, all of the iOS devices (iPhones and iPads), the Apple tV, and the iMac could AirPlay to any of the speakers in the iHouse.


There was a dedicated person in each of the rooms to explain how the apps and hardware worked together and to answer any questions.  When a person finished with one room, they were introduced to the person looking after the next room, and so on around the iHouse.


Interestingly, all of the items that were on display in the iHouse, matched pretty well what I use in my own home.  This really does show that Apple does not just sell a bunch of separate devices, but devices which can when put all together become a life style and personal solution in the home.


Some of the Apps Used in the iHouse:


Lounge Room






Remote (for Apple TV)




ABC iView




 Find My iPhone




Bed Room


ABC Radio




Big Clock












Looktel Money Reader










iSee Getting Started with Apple Devices from a Blind Persons Perspective by David Woodbridge




iPad Tips and Tricks by Jeanette Davies










Zombies Run




 Some of the Hardware Used in the iHouse


In All Rooms


iPad air




iPhone 5s




Harman Kardon Wireless AirPlay Speakers




Lounge Room


Apple TV




Belkin Stage Tablet Stand




Logitech Solar KS760 Bluetooth Keyboard






Withings Wireless BMI Weight Scale




Fitbit Flex




Withings Blood Pressure Monitor






iMac 27 inch




iDevices Kitchen Thermometer




Sensory Garden


Parrot Flower Power Plant Health Sensor



Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Talking Tech for April 15 2014

Just some Notes on my Fitbit Flex I Purchased Last week


You ware this light wait fit tracker on your wrist inside a rubber watch style wrist band on your wrist.  Water proof up to 10 metres, so you can ware it in the shower.  Has lights on the Fitbit Flex itself, but the tracker can be completely controlled by the Fitbit iOS app.


Besides tracking steps, distance walked, activity time, calories burned, food intake, sleeping pattern, and goals, the Fitbit also has silent vibrating alarms (up to 8) that you can use to notify or remind you such as waking up as to not disturb your partner.


I’ve used step tracking apps on my iPhone before, but this is just fun, particularly if you are in friendly competition with others via the Fitbit community.


Completely VoiceOver compatible including setup. I found the website mainly accessible, just very busy with lots of content.


The Fitbit website is:




I purchased my actual Fitbit Flex via the Apple Online Store for $129.




Link to the App on the App Store is:




Apps for All Challenge 2014 - ACCAN and The Australian Human Rights Commission Competition


Vote on your most Accessible Australian App for Android, Apple or Windows to honour developers and to encourage the ongoing development of apps for the widest possible audience by Monday July 14 2014.  Top 3 apps across a number of categories will be announced at the ACCAN National Conference in September 2014.


I can think of a number of apps already myself such as: the ABC Radio app, TripView Sydney, and the Emergency app.

Email: appsforall@accan.org.au or

Phone:  02 9288 4000 / TTY 02 9281 5322




Windows Phone 8.1 to Have Narrator according to Paul Thurrott - Super Site for Windows


Narrator amongst other accessibility improvements is mentioned in this review, here is hoping it really works: currently 8.1 is for developers.




HeartBleed Security Web Floor - from Gigaom


Just mentioning it here, for more information use the following link:




And some more info debugging in 7 myths:




How to Clean  Your Laptop - from CNET


Every now and again we should really clean our laptops, here are a few tips.




AccessWorld for April 2014


 Two main story’s that caught my attention: Highlights from CSUN 2014 Exhibit hall, and AccessWorld Technology Summit RoundUp from the AFB Leadership  Conference 2014. 



Audio link for Talking Tech for April 15 2014:



Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Talking Tech for April 8 2014

Brief Notes for this Week

Sorry folks, no real notes this week for Talking Tech as it has been a bit up and down at home and at work.


In the program for this week I talk about Windows XP officially being no longer supported by Microsoft as of April 8 2014 US date line, the iHouse show casing Apple products at the recent International Low Vision Conference held in Melbourne from March 31 to April 4 )plus my 2 nifty purchases - the Fitbit flex and the Belkin Stage Tablet Stand for the iPad)), and I talk about my experience with the QANTAS inflight entertainment system which was my last blog here.

Audio link for Talking Tech for April 8 2014



Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Talking Tech for April 1 2014


3 More Audio demos from CSUN 2014

Good Grief - an over priced PC based OCR computer/reading machine - audio demo from Blind Bargains CSUN 2014

Hopefully there was a mis-communication with the developers of this device, I’m wondering if they really meant 1500 dollars rather than 15000 dollars: certainly not worth 15000 dollars.


Use of iBeacons from Accessible Help - Blind Bargains demo CSUN 2014

The use of iBeacons has the potential to make indoor navigation a real reality.


Accessible Help web Site:


AI Squared Talks Zoomtext for Mac - Blind Bargains Audio CSUN 2014



Apple Patents Touch Graphics User Interface for Vision Impaired - from Cult Of Mac

This patent was lodged in September 2009 and has now been ratified by the Patent’s office in the US.  It will be interesting to see what type of implications this has for other touch screen systems that have copied Apple’s touch screen interface for vision impaired users, such as Android.


ABC Asking for Feedback on Various Iterations of iView - from Media Access Australia


Top 5 Categories Dealt with on the AT Help Desk at Vision Australia

1. iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.

2. JAWS queries.

3. General assistive technology.

4. General Windows queries.

5. General Internet queries

Lately the Mac has been sneaking in to the top 5 queries as well.


Audio Link to Talking Tech for April 1st 2014