Monday, 24 August 2015

Talking Tech for August 25 and 18 2015

To shows posted at once this week: the 25th show and the 18th show for ugust 2015


Talking Tech for August 25th 2015


A Demo and Discussion of My Belkin WeMo Smart Switch’s and Link Smart Bulbs


AccessWorld for August 2015


Upgrading to Windows 10 (republish of an article from Cool Blind Tech posted in July), and a review of the book by Jonathan Mosen: Stream It! Movies, Music and more on the Apple TV with voiceOver.


Stephen Jolley: Audio Description on Free to Air TV Campaign


Vision Australia: Tell the Whole Story: Audio Description on Free to Air TV campaign


BBC iPlayer Announces new Audio Description Channel


This is great, but sadly I found that the Global BBC iPlayer app has been discontinued since about June this year.


Light Detector App now Available on Android


When I went to use my Light Detector app on my iPhone the other day, I got a nice message, saying it was also available on Android and to share the news, so I’m sharing the news.


KNFB Reader V2.0 Released with New Features


Main new features Document Stand profile, and Dropbox linked functionality.  Confusion with Free Trial announcement with V2.0 with In-App purchase, now put back to V2.1 release.


Android version of KNFB Reader coming soon.




A demo by me of the KNFB Reader V2.0 Dropbox and Document Stand Options


In the demo I mention that the app can be purchased free with In-App purchase, but this is no longer true due to some issues according to the company, now not available until version 2.1.


Transport NSW Releases New Transport App for the Blind: Stop Announcer: for Android: from Media Access Australia




Scientists from Royal Holloway University have launched a new iPad app to help people with macular disease, the most common cause of sight loss in the UK. The new app, MD_evReader, is designed to enhance the eccentric viewing technique for reading eBooks. It enables users to scroll text from any ePub document in a single stream, like a news ’ticker’. The text is presented into the reader’s best point of eccentric vision and helps them to maintain a ‘steady eye’. The speed in which the text appears can be changed using a simple trackpad according to the reader’s needs. The app also allows users to make changes to background and text colour, and allows content to be displayed on digital television screens, enabling very large font sizes to be used.


From the app store link:





Talking Tech August 18 2015


A Bit of a Trap when Purchasing Audio Books on your iOS device


This has been coming up a bit on the AT Help Desk at Vision Australia, so I thought I would mention it here in respect to buying audio books from the iTunes store on your iOS device.


The story is, if you purchase an audio book on your iOS device, it will not show up on another iOS device.  If you try and get the same book to download on another iOS device, you’ll have to purchase it again.


The trick is to use iTunes on a Pc or Mac to do your audio book purchase’s from the iTunes Store and then you can sync them to any iOS device without having to re-purchase.


Another Great New Series on ABC iView which is Audio Described: Humans


Humans is set in a parallel present, where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a Synth – a highly-developed robotic servant, eerily similar to its live counterpart. In the hope of transforming the way his family lives, father Joe Hawkins purchases a Synth against the wishes of his wife, only to discover that sharing life with a machine has far-reaching and chilling consequences.




My experiences in setting up and using the Belkin WeMo Smart Switch’s and the Belkin LED Lighting  Starter Kit using VoiceOver on the iPhone 6 plus


I wanted to have a taste of setting up a connected smart home, so I decided to give the Belkin WeMo systems a go in order to control plugged in devices (Belkin WeMo Switch), and the general house lights (Belkin LED Light Starter Kit).


The Belkin WeMo switch plugs in to a power point or power board, and connects to your Wi-Fi network and allows you to turn on/off electrical appliances that you plug in to the switch such as a electric blanket, lamp, radio, fan etc.


The Belkin WeMo switch’s are setup and subsequently controlled (turning on/off or setting start/end timer rules) via the Belkin WeMo app on an iOS or Android device: I am using my iPhone 6 plus.  I am also using an app called Quick Switch which allows me to control all of the Belkin WeMo Switch’s from my Apple watch.


I am currently using 6 Belkin WeMo Switch’s for the master bed room electric blanket and lamp, my boys lamps in their bed rooms, and the kitchen radio.


In the box you simply get the Belkin WeMo Switch and a quick start getting started guide.  However, user guides, FAQS, trouble shooting tips are all accessible via the Belkin WeMo app.


The Belkin WeMo LED Starter Kit comprises a  Link box which plugs in to a power point or power board, and two smart LED bulbs (bayonet or screw) which you can plug in to any light socket.  The Link box connects to your Wi-Fi network and allows you to control the smart bulbs that you are using: in this case two.


The Belkin WeMo Link box is setup ] and controlled in the same way as the Belkin WeMo switch’s via the WeMo app and and the Quick Switch app running on my Apple watch.


the two smart led light bulbs I have installed in my front outdoor light, and in the main lounge room light.


In the box you get the Belkin WeMo Link Box, and two smart LED bulbs and a quick start getting started guide.  However, user guides, FAQS, trouble shooting tips are all accessible via the Belkin WeMo app.


Setting up and installing the Belkin WeMo switch’s and Belkin WeMo Link box was extremely easy.  Plug them in, in my case connect my iPhone to the Belkin WeMo device (come up as their own Wi-Fi hotspot), run the WeMo app which detects the device to be setup, put in my password to connect to my home Wi-Fi, give the device a name, and allow remote access (control the device when away from home).  Once a device is setup, it comes up in a list when you run the WeMo app (rather than the app searching for a device to be setup).


Now when I run the Belkin WeMo app from my Wi-Fi network or when out and about, I simply have a list of my named devices with a toggle button after each one to simply turn it on or off.  As far as VoiceOver is concerned, the toggle button is labeled “WeMo button), but when I double tap it using the voiceOver activate gesture, the actual device state changes between on or off.


I believe the Belkin WeMo Light Link system can control up to 50 light bulbs, and the number of Belkin WeMo switch’s is only limited by how many Wi-Fi devices your home Wi-Fi network will support.


My boys love the fact that they can now turn on/off their own lamps in their bed rooms from their iPads, my wife can turn on her electric blanket when she wants or the lamp before she walks in to the bed room, and we can turn on the outdoor or lounge room lights when we come home when it is dark.  Also having the ability to just quickly turn on the radio to catch up with the news whilst I am making breakfast for the family is quite handy.


I must say that the ability to be able to turn things on or off remotely is fantastic, especially when my wife and the boys come home late from Karate and need to turn the outdoor light on.


Over the next 3 to 6 months I will be adding more smart switch’s and smart light bulbs so that I can control most of the devices and lights at home.


The switch’s practically work best with a device that has a mechanical switch for turning the device on or off (such as a lamp, fan, radio, electric blanket etc).  With a device that as a digital switch (such as a TV, stereo etc), you will still need the remote that came with the device to start using it.


At this time the only challenge I have is setting up the timer rules to control when each device can come on or turn off.  For example, turning the outdoor light on at sunset, turning the electric blanket on at 9:00PM and off again at 10:00PM etc: at this time the Rules tab within the WeMo app are a bit difficult to use with VoiceOver.  The rest of the Belkin WeMo app is very accessible.


Belkin does sell other smart devices, but these are the two that I decided to use in my home to give me a feel of what it is like to have some kind of a smart connected home.


Overall very happy, its a portable solution to control devices in the home, and its not tied to any particular operating system.



Belkin WeMo Switch: $69 per switch.

Belkin WeMo Light LED Starter Kit (with Link box and two bulbs): $179 (either the bayonet or screw bulbs starter kit).

Belkin WeMo Smart LED Bayonet or screw bulb: $59 per bulb.




Belkin WeMo Switch:


Belkin WeMo LED Light Starter Kit Bayonet bulb:


Belkin WeMo LED Light Starter Kit Screw Bulb:


Belkin WeMo LED Smart Bulb Bayonet:


Belkin LED Smart Bulb Screw Bulb:

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Talking Tech for August 11 2015

A follow-up to the Dreaming of Streaming Webinar held on July 23 2015


In the following news item from Vision Australia, you can watch the video of the webinar, read a transcript, see a video of how to use the ABC iView service for accessing Audio Description with voiceOver, and send feedback about the webinar or send in suggestions for further webinars. 


Vision Australia Bursary open for 2016


Applications for the 2016 Vision Australia Further Education Bursaries are now open as of 1 August 2015.


Each year, Vision Australia awards Further Education Bursaries to a select number of students who are blind or have low vision. 


The bursaries provide adaptive technology to help the students fully participate and succeed in their chosen studies. Assistive technology can eliminate barriers to education and enhance access to information. It enables students to read course material, conduct research and improve their student life. 


Since the inception of the bursary scheme in 1996, over 300 students have been supported in their further education journey. 


Please read the information document, then complete the Application form and Declaration below, and follow the steps in the checklist document to complete your application.



Windows 10 was released on July 29 2015, Vision Australia Help Desk recommendation for Windows 10: is not to upgrade as yet.


Some links on Windows 10


Podcast Blind Bargains BBCast 25 on Windows 10


About 55 minutes in to the podcast commences the discussion of Windows 10. 

Podcast Cool Blind Tech: Windows 10 rises podcast 

Blog 22 Point Blog:discussion of Windows 10 from a low vision perspective


Windows 10 review from Mashable


Main Stream review. 

Podcast  Windows Weekly 420 from the TWiT Network: Windows 10


Main stream  discussion. 

AT Supplier  info


Freedom Scientific JAWS 16.0.4350 build is targeted at Windows 10:


NV Access NVDA 2015.2 supports Windows 10 (2015.3 expected in August will have further optimisations)


AiSquared: ZoomText 10.1.14; and Window-Eyes 9.2:


Other Stories


Now people who are Blind can Read Braille on a Smart Watch


The Dot gives people who are Braille readers access to this Fitbit size Smart Watch giving you access to Messages, Notifications, time, Alarm, and other functions from the smart phone via Bluetooth 4.0.  The Dot has 4 Braille cells, and has a total usage of time pperday of 10 hours.  Text (Braille) schools across the 4 cells and the user can adjust the reading/scrolling speed.  Can also be used to teach a user Braille.


People with a Disability Still an After Thought with Tech Design

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Talking tech for August 4 2015 (a bit late sorry)


Vision Australia has gone with Windows phone’s to be our mobile phone of choice for our staff, so I have spent the last couple of weeks putting Windows phone 8.1 with Narrator through it’s paces and here are some of my findings.


1. Phone, Mail, SMS and Internet Explorer are quite usable.  Starting up, locking and unlocking the phone was also very straightforward.

2. Not all of the inbuilt apps that I used on the Microsoft Lumia 640 were accessible: eg Calculator, Maps, News, Podcasts etc.

3. Narrator uses similar gestures to that of the iPhone such as 1 finger flick left or right to move to the previous and next items, and a modified version of the rotor found in iOS.

4. Have been having issues using automated systems where you have to use the keypad to enter your choice: i.e. number doesn’t seem to be recognised by the system being used.  eg had great difficulty setting up voice mail when I had to enter in the 6 digit pin.

5. Absolutely excellent that the Lumia 640 has an FM radio with the use of the head phones.

6. Two finger flicking between the Quick Launch and the Application Windows on the main screen is very straightforward.  I particularly like the fact that you can pin your most used apps or webpages to the Quick Launch Window.

7. The Back, Start Menu, and Search buttons at the bottom of all screens are fairly easy to work out their Functions.  Back is for Back a screen, Start Menu take you to the Start Menu, and the Search let’s you conduct a search.

8. The App Bar when in App which gives you access to more functions, appears to be slightly above the bottom buttons (Back, Start and search) and over to the right: 1 finger double tap on this to expand the items inside the App Bar.

9. You can change the ringer for different tones by tapping on each tone name or to hear a ring tone, just press on the button after each ring tone name.

10.  Setting the Lock Screen pin number I could not achieve due to the focus on the keypad jumping around making it impossible to enter the same pin number for verification.

11. Narrator voice settings include: selecting a male or female voice, changing the speech rate, turning on touch typing, and toggle of hints.  Narrator doesn’t support Braille.

12. Can only seem to activate speech search via my Apple ear pods with the microphone: can dial a number, search for items on the Internet, and open apps.


Dial Number or Contact Name.

Open App Name.

Send Text - respond to prompts for number/contact, message, and send/try again/cancel.

Call Voice Mail.

Find Item to Find on the Internet.



a useful link for getting started with Windows Phone