Monday, 29 June 2015

Talking Tech for June 30 2015

Before getting on to the story’s for this week

Two points I’d like to make.


The last week end in June 6 years ago I did my first audio demo on the accessible iPhone 3gs with VoiceOver.  It also means I have now been podcasting for 6 years as well.


Secondly, Apple music will launch on June 30.  I thought I’d give it  a week to be out in the wild so to speak before talking about it in next weeks program.


Vision Australia Texpo 2015


Time again to announce the dates and locations for Vision Australia technology exhibition where you will see a range of technologies on display, workshops, and the chance to chat with suppliers.


Newcastle NSW: Friday 9th and Saturday 10th October, and

Coorparoo QLD: Friday 16th and Saturday 17th October. 


donate your old smart phones to assist people who are deaf blind up to July 31 2015


If you have any smart phones laying around, please donate them to Able Australia to support people who are deaf blind who use such smart phone technology to communicate via refreshable Braille displays. 


a device that helps the blind navigate by tingling their tongues


Use your tongue with this device to detect objects/shapes, movement, and distance.  Based on a pair of camera mounted glass’s, the person who is blind via a set of electrodes, in a mouth pice will sense what is going on in front of them via their tongue by bubble   sensations.  Has received approval in Canada, United States, and other places. 


A quick review of the TCL Pulse vibrating alarm from the blog of Jonathan Mosen


Just seemed like a great device, particularly for folks with hearing issues as this device does vibrating alarms and timer, available from Amazon. 


Apple highlights apps on the Apps Store that work well with voiceOver on iOs from iMore


Great to see Apple celebrating and highlighting apps that truly work well with VoiceOver on the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. 


Amazon is now sharing its voice recognition technology (Alexa)with developers


This sounds interesting.  Alexa is currently in the Amazon Echo voice recognition assistant speaker.  Unfortunately, the actual speaker doesn’t seem to be yet available in Australia.  However, having Amazon expand its technology to other manufacturers will result in (hopefully) a range of accessible voice recognition technologies.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Talking Tech for June 23 2015

Smart oven uses food recognition to cook the perfect meal every time


Just seemed a nifty way of cooking food, not yet available. 


New USB C dock will allow you to connect up to 11 devices


With more and more laptops having USB C ports and not much else, such a USB C hub may come inhandy: the new Macbook comes to mind. 


Converting an older home in to a smart home


Just like to keep track of  different ways of setting up a smart home. 

Google launch’s website to address concerns about self driving cars


This is a great way to keep track of what is happening with self driving cars from Google. 


Getting it all done with Zoomtext Mac and CamReader


Another OCR/Video magnifier on the market, this time  extending the  functionality of Zoomtext for Mac.

Here is the actual page on the AI Squared website: 


Voice Mail


New: Voice Dream mail (from the developer of Voice Dream reader and writer).  Using gestures with speech feedback to read your mail.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Talking Tech for June 16 2015

Today’s show all about the WWDC from Apple June 9 2015: preview of OS X 10.11, iOS 9, watch os, and Apple music.


Note - OS x 10.11, iOS 9, and watchOS 2 are in beta and features may change.  In addition, the new music streaming service from Apple is not yet available.


OS X 10.11


New features in OS x 10.11 (some feature highlights):


Split view: view two apps on the screen at the same time.

Call out your cursor: shake finger on trackpad or shake your mouse and the cursor gets bigger so its easier to spot.

Spotlight: can search for more things, and you  can use natural language when searching for a file.

Improved Notes app: turn a list in to a check list, and easily add photos, urls etc.

Safari: keep favourite websites open with pin sites, easily identify which tab is playing audio, and use Airplay to stream video.

Increased performance: apps open much faster, and games display much more smoothly due to Apple’s metal technology which is already being used on iOs.


Sadly, no mention of Siri for OS X yet 



iOS 9


New in iOS 9 (some of the highlights):


Apps: A new news app, dramatically improved Notes app, Maps with transit info (in selected cities around the world), and improvements to Car play.


Improvements to iPad: 

Better multitasking features - slide view (slide to view another app and back again), and split view (see two apps on screen at same time - only on iPad air 2).

Better keyboard short-cuts when using a wireless keyboard.


Siri: improvements to Siri.


Searching: improvements to spotlight including searching within apps.


Proactive assistant: based on what time of day you use apps, get intelligent suggestions on what you may want to do next.


Listening to music and audio: bt in the car, start listening to your music or plug in your head phones and start listening to a podcast.


Who’s calling: if an unknown number, if the number has appeared in an email, iOS 9 will suggest who the caller may be.


Better power management:

if iPhone face down on table, screen will not be on.

New low power mode will extend battery life but turning off a number of features.


Move from Android with the Move to /iOS app: makes the transition to iOS from your Android device by copying relevant data over from your Android device such as Mail, Contacts, music etc. 

watchOS 2


New features in watch os2 (some feature highlights):


New clock faces, complications and night stand mode:

New clock faces - 24 hour time lapsed faces from iconic places around the world, use your own photo or randomise photos by choosing an album.

New complications: complications data can be drawn directly from apps.

Time travel: use the digital crown to scroll to the previous day today or next day to look at what is happening at a particualr time in a complications: eg weather, calendar or news item you may have missed).


Night stand mode - automatically goes in to night stand mode when charger connected and Apple watch on its side, time will display when you touch the screen,  or side/digital crown, and side button will stop and digital crown will snooze an alarm.


Better apps: apps run natively, can take advantage of hardware features in the watch (such as using the mic or internal speaker), improvements to existing apps including: 

Mail - reply to mail.

Friends: add more multiple screens of friends with each screen up to 12 friends.

Maps: get transit directions (in select cities around the world).

Siri: Siri does more on Apple watch.

Activation lock: protect your watch with your Apple id, same as iPhone.



Apple music


3 months trial, $9.99  single or $14.99 USD family subscription.  Available June 30 this year.  Provides curated music (along side your own music), Beats1 radio, and Connect (where artists  can connect with their followers).  Without a subscription, can still listen to Beats1, see what artists are posting on connect, and listen to ads supported stations.


Available with iOS 8.4, watchOS via paired iPhone, Mac/PC via updated iTunes, and Android later on this year.


I’m not sure how Apple music will differ from such online streaming music services such as Pandora radio, and Connect to me sounds like the failed Ping social sharing function that was available in iTunes a number of years ago.  With the 3 months trial certainly nothing to loose in giving it a go.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Talking Tech for June 9 and 2 2015

Just catching up with Talking Tech for the last two weeks, Google changed some options and MarsEdit which I use to do these blog posts didn’t work, and it has taken me a bit more time than expected to get back to updating the blog after Marsedit was fixed: hence blogs posts for Talking Tech for June 2 and 9 2015.


Talking Tech for June 9 2015 


Busting the myths about technology and children: 

Audio Rally racing game


A new game for Mac or PC users.



Life line Text Adventure game with a twist


Couldn’t help put this one in, a new twist on playing a text adventure on iOs and the Apple watch.


Apple watch working with Halo hearing aids


iPhone lightening Dock now available for iPhone


New book from Jonathan Mosen on the Apple tv.


Apple tv catch up concerning more channels


Along with Netflix on the Apple tv, we now have the other streaming service available in Australia: stan.


Talking Tech June 2015


Apple watch OS 1.01 update is out squashing a number of VoiceOver bugs


Apple watch update 1.01 came out in mid may, but this has been the first chance to update it during Talking Tech.


1. Can delete Mail and Messages via the 1 finger flick up or down action gesture,

2. Clearing all notifications doesn’t lock out VoiceOver users any more.

3. VoiceOver no longer getting stuck after accessing last glance.

4. Improvements under the hood for better VoiceOver accessibility with 3rd party apps.


Vision Australia trialling remote training


Vision Australia has almost completed a trial of remote training for a selected group of clients.  This pilot will allow Vision Australia to move forward in the future in providing remote training to clients in both desktop and mobile systems.


Deaf/blind phone being trialled   in Australia and the US



Talkback 4.2 for Android released 

AccessWorld for May 2015 

Victor stream now does I-Access from Vision Australia 

Keysoft v9.5 released for Braillenote and Voicenote


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

My Time with the Apple Watch

A bit more on the Apple watch plus the fact that its still the only smart watch that is accessible for blind or low vision.


The Apple watch interface again is basically: clock face screen (can choose different clock faces), home app screen (from which apps are run), apps, notifications, Glances, friends, and Siri.


In this blog post you’ll find:

Podcasts and blogs on the Apple watch and a link to the Apple watch user guide,

My confirmed 12 reasons why I want to keep using the Apple watch,

3rd party apps that I have found useful, and

Bugs with the Apple watch/VoiceOver.



Some resources: podcasts, blogs and the Apple watch user guide from Apple


My 34 podcasts on the Apple watch ranging from setup and navigation, to using most of the apps onto Apple watch such as the Activity app, Mail, Music, Phone, Remote etc.


My podcast page for Apple watch demos: 

I have done a podcast with DR Robert Carter who does the Tech doctor, podcast and Allison Sheridan Nosilla podcast.


Link to the Tech Doctor podcast: 

Link to the Nosilla Podcast: 


Presentation at the Apple Store Sydney May 19 2015 for Global Access day 21 May 2015



A Blog from Tim Noonan on his continuing experience with the Apple watch: 

Apple watch users guide from Apple 

12 reasons why I thought (and confirmed) I needed an Apple watch


1. Conveniently being able to check notifications from Mail, Calendar, Messages, and Twitter.


Yes: certainly happening.


2. Being able to pick up calls on the Apple watch rather than on my Mac or iPhone is again going to be very handy.  I.e. I don’t have to go back to the iPhone or Mac to answer a call, particularly if I’m gardening or washing the car.


Yes: certainly happening plus the benefit of making calls out from the Apple watch.


3. As I usually have my iPhone plugged in to my Mac via the lightening cable for charging, use the iPhone as a personal hotspot, and use “hay Siri” because the iPhone is powered, it again seems natural to expect the “Hay Siri” hands free functionality  on the Apple watch by just raising my wrist.


Yes: certainly happening.  Raise on wrist activation for the Apple watch and consequently Siri handy, but VoiceOver tends to speak to much if I move my arm and the Apple watch wakes up, so I usually only use this when cooking for using the Timer or when using Maps.  Otherwise, have raise wrist turned off, tap the Apple watch screen to wake it up, and then use hay Siri.


4. I use GPS a fair bit on my iPhone, and I am very curious to use the haptic feedback on the Apple watch maps for turn by turn directions.

Yes: certainly happening.  Actually presently surprised on how well the audio and haptic feedback works when you need to turn left or right when walking around.


5. As I work in a several story building, my partner has to either ring me or iMessage me when she is approaching so that I can meet her down stairs on the street just in case she can’t get a parking spot.  With haptic vibrating taps on the Apple watch, she can just notify me as it were, which will be a lot more convenient particularly if I am on the phone, which being on a help desk is most of the time.  Oh and yes, she will be getting an Apple watch as well.


Yes: certainly happening.  Partner did get an Apple watch sports 38mm, and tapping me to let me know she is outside works extremely well.


6. My partner and I some times have to let each other know that we’re running out of time to do something: e.g. get off the phone we have to go: being able to send different haptic vibrating taps I’m assuming is going to be a lot more polite (smile).


Yes: certainly happening.  This functionality like tapping me to let me know my partner is outside, works well for this type of situation as well.


7. This is one thing which my Fitbit flex doesn’t do for me, let me know when I’ve been sitting for to long and its time to move a bit,this is exactly what the Activity app will do, and make my work day that bit healthier.



Yes: certainly happening.  Vision Australia is very big on cultivating a healthy work place and work practises, and one of our items we are supposed to do is make sure you stand for a little bit at least every hour.  So, having a personal reminder is great, as I tend to sit to long at my desk and forget the time.


8. Speaking of the Fitbit flex, I won’t have to weir two devices any more: my iPod nano and the Fitbit Flex: just the Apple watch.


Yes: certainly happened.  Both my iPod nano watch and my Fitbit flex are now back in my tech box.  When Blind Square GPs gets an extension happening on the watch as well, my BEM Speaker band will go in to the box as well.


9. Being able to control my Apple tv from the Remote app on the Apple watch is going to be great.  Rather than having to grab my iPhone or worse, find where my boys have dropped/hidden the physical Apple remote.


Yes: certainly happening.  Actually this reason is amazing me as my Remote (Remote app on the Apple watch) is always with me, no more mucking around.


10. For the last several years I have been using my iPod nano 6th generation as a watch with wired ear phones.  besides getting a much more stylish device on my wrist, I can do away with the wired ear phones and use Bluetooth ear phones instead: i.e. my bone conduction head phones or my Beats Wireless head phones: much safer.


Yes: certainly happening.  Whilst I loved my iPod nano watch, having to use wired head phones was a bit of a pest when walking around.


11. As I do most of the cooking in my family, I use the timer function in Siri to time how long things have to cook, and for items that have to be put on so I can arrive with everything being cooked at the same time, I often have to check how the timer is going.  I either have to have my iPhone plugged in to use Siri or hold down the Home button to use Siri, which if you been cooking, can be a bit messy.  With the Apple watch, I can just hold up my wrist and ask away.


Yes: certainly happening.  AS I said above, I tend to turn on Raise on Wrist on in order to use hay Siri and launch apps such as the Timer when cooking.


12. As both of my boys are on medication, I have reminders on my iPhone to make sure that they take their medication throughout the day.  Sometimes if we go swimming etc, I usually leave my iPhone in the car for safety, and then usually forget about the medication.  Having the Apple watch on the spot as it were, will again be helpful.


Yes: certainly happening.  Like the Apple Remote app, having alarms/reminders to keep me on track with my boys medication is fantastic.


Four things I didn’t expect about the Apple watch:


The first thing I did not expect is how handy the Apple watch would be for my partner, in being able to contact me if she can’t reach her iPhone due to her having a fall: i.e. partner prone to falling due to a particular physical disability.


The second thing was (and I didn’t realise it was going to be in the Apple watch) was the ability to be able to Ping My iPhone and locate where in the house I put it down: very very nice.


Thirdly, the digital crown navigation which can be turned on by doing a two finger triple tap, allows you to use the digital crown to scroll (flick back) left and right through the Apple watch interface rather than having to flick left or right on the screen.


Fourthly, the set of gestures that VoiceOver uses on the Apple watch are a sub-set of what you use on VoiceOver on the iPhone.  The main gesture differences are:

iPhone -  3 finger flick down on status line for Notifications from status line, and 2 finger flick down on Clock Face for Notifications.

iPhone - 3 finger flick up on status line for control centre - 2 finger flick up on Clock face for Glances.

iPhone - 3 finger scrolling - Apple watch 2 finger scrolling.

There is also no rotor, no keyboard to use (you voice dictate or choose preset/custom responses), and half of the VoiceOver settings are split between the Apple watch and the Apple watch iOS app running on the iPhone:

Screen curtain and volume adjust on the Apple watch (two finger double tap and hold slide up or down to adjust volume), and

Screen curtain, voice rate, voice volume, speak hints, and speak on wrist raise.

Got a quite a surprise, when you adjust speech rate and volume on the Apple watch iOS app and if the watch is awake, you hear the volume or speech rate adjust as you move the slider on the iPhone.


VoiceOver gestures still the same from iOS (iPhone etc):1 finger flick left or right move by item,

1 finger double tap activate item,

1 finger flick up or down adjust slider or use action item, and

two finger double tap answer/hang up a call (not start/stop playing music).



3rd party apps that I have found useful:


Initial list.  With OS 1.01 update, a number of these apps became more accessible: eg Double Post for posting to Twitter, buttons report correctly.


Note - These apps install on your iPhone with a corresponding app running on the Apple watch.  To manage apps on the Apple watch, use the Apple watch app on the iPhone.


Alo - hear yourself speak immediately in a different language


Animal Watch -fun animal sounds (on iPhone nothing accessible on screen for VO users, watch app is ok)


Apple Store


 Around Me (what’s around me for services, shops etc)


Binaural Sleep Beats


BlackJack for Apple Watch


Browser for Apple Watch


BitList: grocery shopping list etc


Calculator Watch Pro free 


Carrot Weather: talking weather


CNN News


Decibl (sound metre)




Double Post (post to Facebook and Twitter)


FlipBoard (news)


FourSquare (find places to eat, drink etc) 


Google News


Just Big Text (communicate by “big text”)


iLight Flashlight




Life Line (text adventure game)


Metronome M1


Navigon (Australian version)


Ny Times


Overcast (podcast player)


Pandora Radio (music streaming)


Phone Mate (check iPhone battery from watch)


Speech To Notes (saved dictated notes back to iPhone)


Simple Mic (save recordings back to iPhone)




SMH Skim (Sydney Morning Herald top stories)


Tiny Tic Tac Toe


Time For Zombies (text adventure)


Remote Sounds (play sounds on your iPhone  via your Apple watch)


Tripview Sydney (bus, train, and ferry time tabling)


TuneIn Radio Pro


Tweetings (Twitter client)


Units Premium (convert a range of units)


Ventriloquist (make your iPhone speak)


Watch Out - find your phone with fun


Yellow Pages






Bugs, some of which were squished in the May OS 1.01 update plus improvements to VoiceOver to work better with 3rd party apps that hadn’t previously been working with VoiceOver: e.g. buttons not being identified correctly.


Fixed in 1.01: Get stuck in Notifications screen after force touch to clear all notifications.


Fixed in 1.01: In the Calendar app, again, get stuck in the screen after force touch to change view between day and list view.


Not fixed: Can send, but can’t playback a heart beat.


Fixed in 1.01: In the Mail app, 1 finger flick up/down for actions, deleting a message doesn’t work.


Fixed in 1.01: In Messages, deleting a Message doesn’t appear to clear it from the Apple watch.


Not fixed: In the Workout app, minutes is read out as seconds.


Not fixed: In the Timer complication, Timer value reports as 15 minutes remaining.


When replying to a text message, the dictated text gets sent straightaway with no chance to change or cancel as when replying to an iMessage.


Not a bug as such, but if you go in to Power Reserve mode, you won’t get any speech with VoiceOver as its only the time shown when the Friends button pressed.  Hold in Friends button for 4 seconds to restart back to standard operation.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Talking Tech for May 19 2015

Accessing a number of VA services: did you know?

Including - the AT help desk, Vision Australia library I-Access, digital access, Vision Australia radio, Equipment Solutions, purchasable technology training programs, highlighting a number of products from the Equipment Solutions shop at Vision Australia, and some mobile phone suggestions other than the traditional smart phones on the market for those that just want a simple mobile phone solution.


AT Help Desk


You can contact the VA Help Desk on 1300 847 466 (ask for the Adaptive Technology Help Desk) or email  Any question welcome from anyone on technology related queries for blind or low vision access.


Equipment Solutions Shop


Equipment solutions shops at Vision Australia can be contacted on 1300 847 466 and you can be directed to your local main shops in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.  Remember that most VA branch’s have an equipment display where you can mail order products or buy online at: 


Vision Australia I-Access online daisy service


The online Vision Australia I-Access service can be found on the web at:


http://i-accessonline.visionaustralia.orgYou will need a VA library member number and pin to use the service.  You can sign up to the service by contacting the VA library on:

1300 645656.


The I-Access service can be accessed on desktop and mobile operating systems and daisy players are also available for both.

In addition, the daisy 3g player is great for those who just want to receive there content automatically and don’t want to muck about with desktop or mobile devices.


Vision Australia Digital Access:


Specialising in web accessibility assessment and development.  Email them at webpage:

or phone:

1300 367055.


go to the main webpage for VA digital access at:


Vision Australia radio:


Vision Australia radio can be listen to live at:


Melbourne training material to purchase from VA: 



Remember that shows like Talking Tech and Talking Vision can be accessed as podcasts as can other shows that are aired on Vision Australia radio.


Visit the Vision Australia main radio page at:

Training material available to purchase from Vision Australia (including the online shop):


Operate a personal computer course: Zoomtext.

Operate a personal computer course: NVDA.

Operate a personal computer: JaWS.

Operate a personal computer course: Magic.

Operate a personal computer course: wwin7 mag.

Introduction to the Internet: keystrokes.

Introduction to Internet: JaWS.

Introduction to the Internet: NVDA.

Producing simple Word process docs: JaWS.

Producing simple word process docs: keystrokes.

Using email with Live Mail and keystrokes.

Introduction to spreadsheets: keystrokes.

Introduction to spreadsheets: JAWS.

Using iPhone 5 with iOS 6 accessibility features.


All these course can be found at:


Some useful tech style products from Equipment Solutions which you may find useful:


Visionkeys big bold keyboard stickers: black/white or white/black/white $10.

EZ See large print keyboards: $39.90.

 10 second voice recorder: $10 (low stock).

Aftershokz bone conduction head phones: 

$99.90 (low stock).

Learning jumbo universal remote control: $34.00.

Loc Dots 6 pack: $6.00.


The VA Adaptive Technology Help Desk often gets asked about mobile phones other than the smart phones on the market.  Not in the VA Equipment Solutions shop, but there are two 3d printable phones that people can access: either the Ownfone or the KISA phone.





Monday, 11 May 2015

Talking tech for May 12 2015

In the show today we would like to go through some recording and editing tips for recording lectures or meetings, and recording podcasts: plus some devices with which to record and two recommended PC and Mac software to get you started.


Recording lectures,  meetings or training sessions


Don’t use the internal Mike in a laptop, use an external microphone or a device which has recording capabilities,

If there is going to be a bit of noise on the surface where the mike is, put on another surface to stand,

Do a test record before hand,

Try and get the recording device as close to the person speaking as possible,

if you are able to, pause the recording when you don’t have to record what is going on,

if its for others, edit the recording to take out any material that doesn’t need to be in there.


Recording a podcast:


Be mindful of where you are doing the recording (stay away from rooms that echo, and any external noise sources, 

Have notes on what you are going to do a podcast on,

Don’t use the internal Mike in a laptop, use an external microphone or a device which has recording capabilities,

If there is going to be a bit of noise on the surface where the mike is, put on another surface or  stand,

Do a number of test records before hand,

if you are recording speech, has speech same volume as your voice and a nice easy to listen speed,

Using a mixer is great for recording a device with speech and your own voice,

Make sure you edit the recording before posting or giving to others, taking out noisy breathing, odd noises etc.

Post the podcast: usually uploading to a host, giving it a title, description, categorising and then publishing.


Recording devices that I have used:


Lectures etc


iPhone - voice memo,

Mac air  with Yeti USB microphone.




Mac air with mixer,

Mac air with UsB Yeti microphone.


Recording software


Pc - Studio recorder from American Printing House (APH). - Amadeus pro or Sound Studio. 


Mac: Amadeus Pro.