Monday, 30 November 2009

30. Remote control from tightvn

It seems that remote control of desktops is becoming commonplace, and certainly a boone for dyslexic individual and those who are supporting them. This free software allows you to see and take control of somebody else's computer. Great is you want to help demonstrate to a colleague how to use software, for example.

TightVN Remote control

Sunday, 29 November 2009

29. Dys2 - the return of Edysgate

I try to keep people up to date with projects that are starting or have made significant progress recently. In this case, I want to inform readers of an exciting project that I have been involved with, for which the first (two year) part is already completed. Now it enters a second version, Dys2, which is an extention of Edysgate.

It is about making game-based activities to help develop the areas of:

1. Auditory discrimination
2. Auditory memory
3. Auditory sequence
4. Visual discrimination
5. Visual memory
6. Visual sequence
7. Spatial position (e.g. top, bottom, behind, ahead, left, right)

These computer-based activities may be used in conjuction with other teacher-based activities to help develop these skills that are used in the development of literacy skills.

It is a partnership between UK, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Cyprus, and Lithuania.

The Dys2 website will be launched towards the end of January. In the meantime, the original activities can be accessed through the Edysgate website.


Saturday, 28 November 2009

28. Tracking business notes with Timetonote

There are many systems that allow you to track what you do. And in the end, it comes down to you remembering to follwo a system, no matter how complex or simple. Timetonote is an attempt to bring organisations to some compoents of business, such as tracking the follow-up actions on phone calls and logging actions.

Time to Note

Friday, 27 November 2009

27. Make a tiny (memorable) URL with TinyURL

Have you noticed how web addresses are gettting longer and longer! Take for example, if I wanted to tell you about my book due out in January, Dyslexia in the Digital Age:

Standard link:

The TinyURL website allows you to cut it down into something manageable (here I used the abbreviation of the book - dida - and the author).

You can register your own links at

Thursday, 26 November 2009

26. Keyboard for the iPhone

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am not a lover of the iPhone. But part of that is because I miss the tactile experience I feel with the Blackbery. I know what key my fingers are tapping! Well it seems that now you can get that experience by using 4iThumbs. As I understand it, it is an overlay that goes on the front of the screen, or stored on the back. Cost are around $20.


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

25. Mini magnifier from Optelec

At first glance this may appear to be something more for the visually impaired community than the dyslexic. But try reading those ingredients on a food packed, or instructions on medicines. You know the ones, those with the unreadably small type. this could be a useful tool to make life easier. The Optelec Compact mini is a small and light video magnifier, designed to be a simple and effective, high contrast alternative to a traditional optical magnifier.

Livescribe Shop

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

24. Talking avatars from Voki

These free talking avatars can be used to animate emails, websites and other places. I confess I have not tired them yet, and look forward to hearing from those who have.

Voki Talking Avatars

Monday, 23 November 2009

23. Shopping for Livescribe

It seems that Livescribe have now added an online shop to help those looking to buy this increasingly popular hardware.

Livescribe Shop

Sunday, 22 November 2009

22. Window 7 - from experience

For all those out there thinking they should stick with Vista (or XP!) as they do not want to try yet another new operating system in Windows 7, I can tell you that so far the difference I have found are minimal. Clearly there must be new features, but so far I have been able to use all the old functions, and change back to older interfaces where necessary.

How do I know? Because I have just bought a new machine (Sony Vaio 15.5in VGN-NW20SF for the record) with Windows 7 installed. Why? because the old computer decided not to work. Did I loose any data? Everything was backed up only a few days before, and all new documents had been send to colleagues for checking. So (remarkably for me) no data lost!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

21. Recording phone calls with Recordiapro

Thanks to Robert for this suggestion. It is a hassle free call recorder. It is a paid-for service, but then you often (but no always) get what you pay for.

Recordia Pro

Friday, 20 November 2009

20. Mind mapping software update - Inspiration 9

If you are contemplating buying concept mapping software any time soon, you may like to consider that Version 9 of Inspiration is due out in January 2010. I am not suggesting that it is the one to buy, but if you are looking to compare them all, this adds a new presentation tool that may be useful for some users.

Inspiration 9

Thursday, 19 November 2009

19. Download Microsoft Office 10 Beta

It seems the Beta version of Microsoft Office 10 is already out there to try. Of course I do not want people to be confused by problems in Beta versions. But I do like people to have free versions where possible.

Microsoft Office 10 Beta

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

18. Just put your lips together and blow - Key finder

These things used to be everywhere a few years ago, but seemed to disappear. Anyway, I have just come across again those little gadgets which you can attach to your keys. Then just whistle and the device will make a noise so you locate the keys (or anything else you attach them to). I am sure there are many sources, but here is one. (Product code 01063.)

Hawkin's Bazaar

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

17. Text-to-Speech with Talking Clipboard

This is a text-to-speech software which has some additional functions. Basically it is a cut-and-paste type, whereby you identify text in another application (e.g. Word or your browser) and copy it into this software.

Talking Clipboard

Monday, 16 November 2009

16. Timelines made easy - Tom's Planner

This is a simple way to help plan out your activities, whether it is a project, an essay or a party. It helps put everything in order, and track what you should do, and by when.

Tom's Planner

Sunday, 15 November 2009

15. Discovery 1

This autumn a number of new EU-funded project are starting, bringing together partners and expertise from across Europe. I am delighted to say that Discovery 1, led by a school in Vasto in the Abruzzo Region of Italy, held their first meeting last month. The project is about helping the dyslexic individual and those at risk of dyslexia transfer from pre-school to primary school with the minimum of problems.

Partners include Italy, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Turkey. The language of the project is English, and therefore all resources will also be available in English. I will advise readers of this blog when their website will be ready.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

14. Blogwatch - concept mapping

Probably one of the best ways to keep up with what is going on in the field of concept mapping is to subscribe to Chuck Frey's Mindmapping Blog, published weekly. Of course it is so full that it can be difficult to separate out the most useful information, and it also addresses the business world. But there are useful hints in there.

Mindmapping Blog

Friday, 13 November 2009

13. Back- for free with Save2FTPup

Quoting their website "Save2FTP is an easy-to-use FREEWARE utility intended for automatically backing up your important data to remote FTP servers. It will help you to organize your backups and schedule automatic backups. Save2FTP also features an intuitive user interface making even the most advanced features easily accessible for beginners and professionals. It is designed to fit all your needs."


Thursday, 12 November 2009

12. Spellchecking with Tinyspell

According to their website "Occasionally you need to check spelling in an application that does not include a spelling checker and you don't want to launch your word processor just for that. This is when tinySpell becomes handy. It is a small utility that allows you to easily and quickly check and correct the spelling in any Windows application."


Wednesday, 11 November 2009

11. Zooming using QZoom

QZoom describes itself as a full screen zoom and operation tool like Mac OS X in Windows XP and Vista. There is little more to add!


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

10. Stickies update

An updated version of the well respected Zhorn Stickies is now available, also in a portable (USB memory stick) version. That means you can put it on your memory stick and take it with you anywhere.


Monday, 9 November 2009

09. Apple mouse

I see this new Apple mouse as something slick, but also as a chance to move the touchpad off the computer as I keep on touching it!

Apple Mouse

Sunday, 8 November 2009

08. Online assessment

I thought I would be a little provocative today and mention about online assessment. (Readers please note that I have a commercial interest in online assessment, so my opinions may be biased!)

If there are 1,000,000 new school entrants every year in the UK, and 10% are dyslexic, that is 100,000 dyslexic kids. So, surprising as it may sound, we could solve the problem of assessments with just 500 assessors (assuming one assessment per day for 200 days a year). The problem with the maths is that we would have to have identified who to assess first (using an assessor?) and that these are all in accessible places. The alternative is to use mass evaluation of all kids, rather than just a select few. But, you say, don’t you mean screening? That depends on your point of view. If a computer can give the same degree of accuracy of, say, memory as a human assessor, do you need to be paying £100 an hour for the face-to-face service? (A human assessor is not as reliable as we may think. At least a computer is consistent!)

But what about support for those identified? Shouldn’t there be somebody on hand to provide emotional support? Yes, I agree. Therefore, at least in the short term, until we have a real Turing machine (where the you cannot tell if the support is human or computer, as is already happening in medical services) for me the concept of online screening/testing/assessment/evaluation is about combining human resources with computer resources to provide a service that is cost effective and easy to implement. For me, it is not about computers. It is about identifying the needs of dyslexic individuals and delivery of appropriate support as soon as possible and in the most effective way. It may not be perfect, but isn't it better than nothing?

Saturday, 7 November 2009

07. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for free

Many dyslexic individuals turn to the visual arts as a means of expression. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is for those who want to get more out of a photograph. The link below shows how it can be accessed for free.


Friday, 6 November 2009

06. SEN Teacher

This is a website that provide resources for teachers of special educational needs children, including those with dyslexia. It includes computer based literacy activities as well as typing tutors.

SEN Teacher

Thursday, 5 November 2009

05. Recording calls with Cogi

There are a number of phone call recording systems, and Cogi (pronounced Co-Gee) is yet another. It costs, but it does appear to offer a better set up, and can be arranged to record mobile conversations too as well as conference calls.


Wednesday, 4 November 2009

04. Study skills project - DESSDYS

I thought that I would announce the start of a new dyslexia related EU project even thought the website is not yet launched. It is called DESSDYS, and is about providing online e-learning about study skills for dyslexic post-16 students. The project is a collaboration between England, Hungary, Italy, Bulgaria, Northern Ireland and Turkey, with resources available in all these languages. Let me if know if you are interested to be a part of this and I will forward information to the appropriate partner. (See my email address on the side of this blog.) I shall let you know when we have a website.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

03. Tablet PC from Archos

This is a neat little table PC from the manufacturers as what I have seen for years as huge storage and media playing devices. So it is only logical that they made a touchscreen Netbook.

Archos Table Netbook

Monday, 2 November 2009

02. DysFest

I do not usually mention events on this blog, but in this case I make an exception.

Dysfest is the first dyslexia film festival in the UK. The aim behind the festival is to look at the different ways dyslexia has been portrayed in films.

It starts today, Monday 2-11-2009, and runs until Friday 6-11-2009, starting from 6.15pm. This will be held at University College London (UCL). It’s FREE entry but there is a need to reserve a place.

The Director of DysFest, Pietro Passarelli, like the Directors is dyslexic and a self confessed techno geek.

Unfortunately I was unable to help directly this week. But this is my way to promote the activity. Check out the website for more details.


Sunday, 1 November 2009

01. October Review

This month I did not see any real highlights, though there were some good things. The decreased price of Captura was good (19). I like mini Homer (07). It is the sort of thing I would buy on impulse it I saw it. And the flash cards (28) seemed worth following up.

Collaborative work
04. Collaborative suites
20. Office live - from Microsoft

01. September Review
10. Keeping up to date with technology - Google Wave
17. Keeping up-to-date - E-learning: How important
18. Search Me has gone! At least for now.

07. Mini Homer, for where its at
14. Kindle in the UK
25. Wireless power

Memory and organisation
02. Highlight and save web pages with iCyte
09. Netnotes links the note to the net!
21. Notes taking with Knowledge Notebook

03. E-learning and assistive technology from Lexdi
13. Work lookup (and hearing) with WkiLook

Screen recording and sharing
16. Screen sharing with Skype

19. Shoot and hear from Captura

05. See your battery life in colour with BattCurso
06. Convert to PDF in many languages with doPDF
08. Open Office for Mac - NeoOffice
11. News Flash for smart phones
12. YouTube (and similar) easy downloads
15. Check that URL with URL Fixer
22. Learning languages with Lingoversity
23. Magnifier with PCLoupe
24. Keeping up-to-date with Twitter
26. Tracking what works
27. Photo editing with Picnik
28. Flash cards with BambooApps
29. Security software - from Microsoft