Wednesday, 30 September 2009

30. Big USB memory offers a viable back-up

When I remember to back-up (!) I used to use a large plug-in device I have at home. But I have just acquired a 32 Gig (yes, 32 Gig) USB memory stick which allows me to back up just about everything. (I do not have much music or images on this computer.) The added attraction is that it has a little button on the memory stick which when you press it, the computer is backed up automatically. Now that has to be a good step way forward!

32 Gig with backup

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

29. Dropbox gets an upgrade

Dropbox has gained over one million users in just one year. So they must be doing something right! New features that have been added to this online backup and storage system include the ability to handle multiple files and perform bulk operations. For those who want to use it just to access files away when away from the office, there is also a new mobile phone access version.


Monday, 28 September 2009

28. Reminders for multiple users - Byapp

Byapp is a simple to-do list that can have multiple users. Not much more one can say!


Sunday, 27 September 2009

27. The end of XP is near

The imminent death of Windows XP keeps coming up and if you are looking to buy a new computer, such as an XP netbook (or whatever you now like to call the "sub-notebooks"), this year, you would need to know how long it should still be serviceable. Of course, if Microsoft had had its way, XP would be long gone by now. But the arrival early last year of the Linux-based machines forced them to change their policies, and offer a cut down version of XP, at a much lower price. And to be honest, I cannot see the difference between the XP on my old Sony Vaio and the cut-down version on my Samsung sub-notebook.

The Microsoft website does not seem to provide answers. But Wikipedia (which Microsoft does monitor) offers the following: "However, an exception was announced on April 3, 2008, for OEMs installing to ultra low-cost PCs (ULCPCs) either until June 30, 2010, or one year after the availability of the next client version of Windows, Windows 7—whichever date comes later."

XP in Wikipedia

Saturday, 26 September 2009

26. Asus to enter the E-Reader market

Apparently 80,000 ebook readers have been sold in the UK to date. I wonder where they are! This may be set to change soon with the announcement of Asus, the "inventors" of the netbook, entering the market. It appears that they have a "double page" book, in full colour and an entry level version at around £100 ready to hit the market soon. (Codeword for by Christmas?) Unfortunately the news does not say about the text-to-speech, which was the thorn in the side for Amazon's Kindle.

Asus E-Reader

Friday, 25 September 2009

25. Build your CV using Ceevee

Writing a good CV is never easy. This website is designed for that and that alone.


Thursday, 24 September 2009

24. Free and paid for audio books from The Talking Book Store

This illustration here is for the page that has lots of free downloads. But there are many many more books which can also be downloaded that are paid for, at very reasonable prices and for all ages.

Talking Book Store

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

23. New computer - from Nokia!

You may like to check out this video on the new computer from Nokia called the Booklet 3G. Obviously it has built in connection! It is already advertised on their Italian site. But no news of availability elsewhere.

Nokia Computer

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

22. Maths tutorials from Brightstar

It is difficult to find good videos that offer support for those looking to improve maths skills. While it does not go back to absolute basics, is does offer around 1800 videos on Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry.

Brightstorm Maths

Monday, 21 September 2009

21. Blogging just got easier with After the Deadline

I do this blog in Google's Blogger. But there are many other good blogging systems out there, such as WordPress. They have just acquired After the Deadline, which the publicity says can be used with the WordPress blog. But if you go to their webpage, you can also use the Demonstration area to check any text. It allows you to check spelling errors and provides grammar and style suggestions using artificial intelligence and natural language processing technology.

After the Deadline

Sunday, 20 September 2009

20. Laptops move to thinner versions

It seems that there are a number of "ultra" computers in production which are less them ten millimetres this, possibly even half as thin as the Apple Air. At a recent Microsoft event to show off their Windows 7, employees were shown Sony and Dell versions. However, it was not clear if they were due for production or just concepts.

Are they dyslexia-friendly? My question would be how robust are they?


Saturday, 19 September 2009

19. Quality research support from Intute

Intute calls itself "a free online service that helps you to find the best web resources for your studies and research." It is run by a consortium of UK academic institutions, and offers information on a wide range of subject. Don't expect full courses here. But there are links to high quality material, apparently vetted by academics.


Friday, 18 September 2009

18. Screencapture with PrtScr

The website claims "Sure, there are loads of free screen capture tools, but this is not another cheesy, spreadsheet-looking one. This one offers directness, ease of use, and does it with style." Too many of these screencapture tools are just too complex for their own good. Let the user decide if this is any better than the rest.


Thursday, 17 September 2009

17. Organise your status bar in Firefox with Organize Status Bar

This is a Firefox Add-On that helps you organise, unclutter and hide parts of your browser status bar (the one at the bottom). Very useful if you have a cluttered area.

Organize Status Bar

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

16. Cheap laptop still going down

If you are in the market for a very low cost but fully functional computer, the Asus EEE PC 900 running with Linux systems are excellent. These ones with 8.9in screens are very good for kids (keyboards are a bit small for adult hands) and while it may be argued that there is not too much specialist software available, they will run anything that runs in the browser. Therefore any online software or web searching is as good on these machines as the more expensive ones. The link shows a US site offering a machine for under $150, which is around £90 or €105. There are many more like this.

Cheap Asus EEE

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

15. Time out for computers with Romaco

This software could be very useful for all those who loose track of how long they sit in front of the computer. The blurb says "Romaco Timeout is a free utility that is able to limit the amount of time your kids can spend in front of the computer." But it is not just the kids that overrun. Of course you can get back in with a password. But at least it makes you stop and think about your actions.

I admit I have not tried this software yet. But then would I ever want to log off?!


Monday, 14 September 2009

14. Free video chat from Tokbox

Tired of the slowing speed of Skype? Or its increasingly "old" feel? Or just want something different? Tokbox is a new system that seems to be more in tune with users needs and looks more "2009". It allows you to easily hold group video chats (this could be social or class discussions as well as tutorials) and you could also send a video message rather than having to type. Check out their Demo for a quick overview.


Sunday, 13 September 2009

13. To Twitter or not to Twitter

As a "social phenomenon", there is little doubt that Twitter will have a place in history. But quite where remains to be seen. Recent changes suggest it is gearing up to try to develop a business model, which probably means charging organisations and institutions (e.g. businesses and education) for its use. In the same way that you can have Google Docs for free if you have the ads, or advert free if you pay, so I expect Twitter to offer benefits to those who pay. But that can only happen when the system (and its users) matures enough for it to be worth it. Reminding parents about a Parents Evening and homework notifications is not enough. Product news may be cheaper for companies than producing newsletters. But what will be the impact for dyslexic individuals? Will they help overcome the memory issues? Will the technology make them accessible? Or will they once more create a digital divide, with the good readers gaining more than the poor readers? Nobody is addressing this, and if these micro-blogging systems are to be more widely used, somebody has to analyse their potential impact with respect to the dyslexic individual.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

12. Neurodiversity in Higher Education

This site was set up to support the neurodiverse populations in Higher Education (in the UK) and offers lots of valuable advice for students and staff. The information is good, though parts have not been updated for a while.


Friday, 11 September 2009

11. Creating animation - with Go! Animate

This post is made on the basis of a picture paints a thousand word (though I am not sure what a 25 frames per second movie creates!) Anyway, with many creative dyslexic individuals out there, some may wish to experiment with this innovative animation web site.

Go! Animate

Thursday, 10 September 2009

10. Speaking websites and blogs from ReadSpeaker

As software development progresses, so things like voice enabling websites and blogs becomes easier. This one appears to be very simple. Perhaps I should try it, so you can find out for yourself! (Or else tell me your experiences.)


Wednesday, 9 September 2009

09. Storage online for sharing - from Box

File sharing is can be a problem at times. Here is a simple, secure solution.Basically the free part give you a one Gig of storage with the maximum file size of 25Meg. Then you share the contents. There are some quite big companies using it, so it must be reasonably good!


Tuesday, 8 September 2009

08. Etherpad just got better with the timeline

I have always liked Etherpad as a real time collaborative document website. Now it just got better with the addition of a timeline that allows you to go back to previous versions. This is the way online collaboration should be.

Etherpad Timeline blog

Monday, 7 September 2009

07. New form of stickies - Postica

There are many Post-it notes out there, each with its own pecularities. But this is a little different, and from brief trials, I like it. It is online, within the browser. Of course the catch therefore is you need to be online to read them. For me that would be a problem. But if you were not on a fixed email, this could be very useful.


Sunday, 6 September 2009

06. Where is it all going?

Without want to advertise, I have just finished my book "Dyslexia in the Digital Age" which took a little longer than I anticipated. (But for those who are interested, it should be out in January.) What was most interesting was the way I had to update during the writing process, as the technology matured and changed. So what will happen in the next 12 months, and what will be the implications? Going back over the year, for me the real change is the quantity (and quality) of services that are available online. And with even Microsoft putting significant resources, this has to be the way forward. And the impact?

Consider the way funding for assistive technology currently works for university students and those in employment. Normally there is a lump sum which can be used to pay for products. But how many funding systems are set up so that the beneficiary can pay a monthly subscription for an online service? (The fee paying versions usually have advanced capabilities.) Could this mean that users are lumbered with having to use second rate products that do not take advantage of the latest software advances and trends?

Saturday, 5 September 2009

05. Inspirations about mind mapping

There are many occasions when mind maps (or concept maps) are useful. This is an interesting website that I have just found which could inspire. There is plenty more to explore on this site too.

Mind Map Inspirations

Friday, 4 September 2009

04. Screen recording made easy with Screenjelly

This has got to be one of the simplest screen recorders I have seen. No software to install. All you do is click the button and it starts recording. You do not save to your computer, but send a link it to an email address.Sign-up is simple. But you may want to click on the "privacy" button for some recordings. Otherwise they are for the general public.


Thursday, 3 September 2009

03. Sounds easy - online audio sharing with Chirbit

Ever wanted to share your thoughts with others, but confused with "podacsting" sites? Or maybe you did not want to make a podcast, but just wanted to share your thoughts (without having to type everything!). Chirbit is a free online tool for audio sharing which enables users to record, upload, listen to and share sound bites easily. It seems you could even use iPhone Voice Memos to post to chirbit if that is what you want.

For ideas and instructions, see their blog.


Wednesday, 2 September 2009

02. Create games with Classtools

As the web page says " allows you to create free educational games, activities and diagrams in a Flash! Host them on your own blog, website or intranet! No signup, no passwords, no charge!" Although the examples tend to be at the subject learning level, they could also be adapted for phonics based activities if required.


Tuesday, 1 September 2009

01. Review of reviews of August

With 366 entries on this blog, it has been interesting to reflect back during this past month on a year of software and hardware reviews in this blog that could assist the dyslexic (and non-dyslexic) individual. It has been informative, and a good way to keep up to date with what is happening. It has also helped ensure my book "Dyslexia in the Digital Age" (commissioned by Continuum Books, scheduled for publication in January 2010) is as comprehensive as it can be.

Click on these links below to see what has been reviewed. Note this is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but is entirely made up from the reviews of the past year.

02. Translation Services
03. Password protection
04. Reminders systems with email and sms
05. Post its and Stickies
06. Plagiarism
07. Text to speech
08. Document sharing
09. Shared desktops
10. Optical Character Recognition
11. Sound recording
12. Onscreen magnifiers
13. Speech to text
14. Screen grabbers
15. Time management
16. Keyboard Skills
17. Automated functions and short-cuts
18. Drawing and picture editing
19. Backing up
20. Location finding
21. Preferences - colours, fonts etc
22. Search functions
23. Event tracking
24. Summarize and synopsis
25. Browsers start page
26. Browsers
27. Undeleting files
28. File conversion
29. Office suites
30. Concept mapping on mobile phones
31. Concept mapping software