Saturday, 28 February 2009

28. Online word processing - Shutterborg

Shutterborg is an free online word processor that runs inside your browser. In many ways it is not so different from many of the others. But I like its simplicity.


Friday, 27 February 2009

27. Time management - Manictime

Do you ever wonder where your time has gone? This personal time management software will help you track it down! It is a small piece of software that you install, and it kindly tells you what you were doing at various times of the day, with a nice colour graphic to remove any doubt.

Have I install it? Not sure I dare!


Thursday, 26 February 2009

26. Online storage of pdf's - Pdfvia

Sometime you may need to send in an assignment or coursework where you are very proud of the pictures and other multimedia, only to find the resulting pdf (which you use to stop others changing the content) is too big to email. What do you do?

PDFvia is the solution, though I am not exactly clear why this is limited to pdf's. However, it does say it will take 50 meg files, and is free. Then you can simply share the web address of where others (e.g. teachers and tutors) can find it.


Wednesday, 25 February 2009

25. Keep Out - Keepmeout

Do you ever find yourself distracted by keep returning to YouTube or Facebook or some other attention grabbing site? Need a way to assist you resisting those temptations? Keepmeout may be the answer. It is a simple concept that does as it says on the domain. It limits your access per hour to any given web site.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

24. Language learning - En masse

Jane Hart of the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies had just compiled a list entitled 100+ Language Learning Websites.

Of course language learning is not at the centre of every dyslexic individuals day. But it could be fun to try learning a little Chinese, for example! And note that it also includes websites for learning English. It could also help those still having to struggle with French or Spanish.

Monday, 23 February 2009

23. Sort out you life - with Doris

That is what the website says! It is (yet) another task management tool that is designed to help you prioritise and organise your activities. It is interesting that they actively encourage people to give suggestions.

Sent with Instant Email from the Blackberry.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

22. Learning online - Ask Lynda

There are many "learning" videos on YouTube, but it is hard to find something to recommend due to picture or content quality.

Lynda is a website with literally thousands of online "courses" which are split into small biteisize chunks of 1 to 10 minutes. The quality is excellent (so files are big), and there are a good number that are free, so at least you can see what you will get for your money. At $25 a month for an individual it could be expensive. But you can then view as much as you like. This may be very cost effective for institutions.

Content covers many areas, such as Open Office as well as more specialist software such as Dreamweaver.

Sent with Instant Email from the Blackberry.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

21. Visual shortcuts - MyClusta

There are a number of alternatives for browser front pages. While iGoogle allows you to create a word-based click list to go straight to your favourites, MyClusta allows you to have an image based front page. So you can have lots of images on your front page, one for each link to a favourite. You can choose your own images: e.g. use the BDA logo for the BDA shop or something from your own collection. It is not as quick as the iGoogle word-based list, but could be worth the extra effort.

Sent with Instant Email from the Blackberry.

Friday, 20 February 2009

20. Your own fonts - YourFonts

This is a simple little program that allows you to make your own font in about 15 minutes. You can even use your own handwriting!!!!

The fonts can be used on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux machines.

And its free.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

19. Save, store and share docs - Docuter

This is another way to store documents and remove the need to remember where you put the USB! It is simple to login and use, and I was able to use it within seconds.


Wednesday, 18 February 2009

18. Little learnings - Popling

What is a popling? I guess it must be a little question that appears in a pop-up.

Popling is a little desktop application that supplies you with questions every few minutes. So you do not need to constantly explicitly, need to be constantly revising something. It can just come to you.

The only drawback is that it is very new. So while there may be Spanish and Geography, there is not much depth. Hopefully that will improve with time.

However, you can always add your own setof testing questions.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

17. Projecting the future - Samsung mobile projector

A few months back I talked about handheld projectors. Now Samsung have released a mobile with a built in projector. Although designed (apparently) for projecting photos, it can also be used for projecting calenders, Powerpoint presentations, TV or who knows what else. Below is a link to a video of this phones potential, though you need to wait until fairly near the end to see the projector part. But it is worth the wait!

Samsung mobile

Monday, 16 February 2009

16. Online database - Blist

I have been looking for a good "free online database" for some time and I think I may have just found the answer - Blist. It is a "free online database"! Unfortunately I have not had time to fully explore the potential, but the page shown here is full of screenshots suggesting that it could serve most of my needs. They describe it as "Whether you use Excel or a database today, blist is the best choice for easily creating and sharing lists on the web." I came across it accidently when somebody was pointing me to information (a comparison of Android phones - see yesterday's blog) which was open for others to view and update. However, many of the examples on the Blist site are little more than Excels. Perhaps if I search a little deeper, I can fine something that shows if it does the real work of a database and is not just Excel in disguise.


Sunday, 15 February 2009

15. Speaking of searching - Nuance

It seems that mobile control by speech is about to become more mainstream as Nuance announces its new Voice Control system. They suggest that it is "a customizable modular framework that allows operators and handset OEMs to speech enable any feature, application, or network service on any mobile device they bring to market, including feature phones." This will move the voice control from "Dial John" to a full control as you would have on your fingertips. According to them, it will offer everything from standard web searches, to asking directions, playing music tracks, opening applications etc.

Clearly this is a way forward for the market, and for the dyslexic individual, and having seen one in action (all be it in a very quiet office environment) it is clearly a product with high potential and not just a gimmick.

But what I have not seen is what happens to the information accessed. It is ok if you are asking for the device to play some music, but if you want to find out information, the presentation of that information (e.g. reading Google results) can be as important as searching for it. Otherwise it remains a gimmick.

On a separate but related note, the new Android mobile phone platform has just acquired voice commands, though apparently currently restricted to its US market and the T-mobile G1 phone.

What I am not sure of is the availability of voices suitable for different markets, e.g. British English as opposed to American English. Unless the control is matched to the users voice, and provides a high level of reliability, the feature will remain unused, joining an ever increasing list of "nice but no thanks" technological innovations.

Android Voice

Saturday, 14 February 2009

14. Mapping it out - Xmaps

There are an increasing number of concept maps. This one is a royalty-free and open source tool which should mean that we should see further developments. However, they may be reserved for the Pro version.


Friday, 13 February 2009

13. Evolution of audio books - LibriVox

One day (12 Feb) I talk about the latest e-book with text-to-speech, and the next it is free audiobooks with human voices. So where is the evolution? Well, I checked out this system by finding out if it contained Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle. And it does. (Darwin's birthday is 12 February.)

To be more precise, I can listen to The Voyage chapter by chapter on my computer (with an American accent) or download the whole 629 Meg book for listening too later.


Thursday, 12 February 2009

12. Reading books - Kindle 2

Amazon have just launched their new "e-book" Kindle 2, which claims to provide access to over 230,000 books. The system is fully searchable, and also includes good quality text-to-speech.

Kindle 2

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

11. Support in higher Education in the Balkan state - iSHEDS

iSHEDS (Identification and Support of the Dyslexia Student in Higher Education) is an EU collaboration between Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and the UK. The project will identify appropriate methods of assessment, as well as develop resources for self-learning for the dyslexic student and the dyslexia support officer. ICT will play a central role in this project.

In the second year, the project will look to run pilot studies in these countries.

Further details will be available when the website is launched.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

10. Writing essays - Wikihow

There is plenty of good advice out there. The problem is tracking it down, and knowing what is good.

Here is one that uses the collaborative nature of Web 2 to provide information, which at least in theory should result in good advice. In this case the subject is "How to Write any Essay."

However, you may want to listen to it using text-to-speech as it is rather long.

Monday, 9 February 2009

9. Where am I? - Google Latitude

Geotagging, the adding of location information, appears to be taking off this year and could be very useful for dyslexic individuals, particularly if you are looking for a place or are trying to find out where you are!

The latest to enter the "Where am I and where are you?" field is Google with Latitude. It appears that you have a list of contacts in you phone and these can be used as identifiers of where people are using the GPS of their smart phone. Privacy is apparently guaranteed, which presumably means that if you don't want a "friend" to know you are nearby, you can turn it off. But then, if you turn it off, doesn't that signal something too?

I downloaded it easily onto my Blackberry, and it seemed to know where I was. Only time will tell how successful it will be.

Google Latitude

Sunday, 8 February 2009

8. Collecting notes - Search Pad

How do you collect and organise information, whether it is different searches for your holiday, or researching an essay? How do you keep track of where you have been, what was useful and why?

One way is to just copy and paste into a document. Some people like to use some form of Stickies. If your research is more meaningful and needs careful documentation, then something like Zotero could be good. Now Yahoo has started beta testing of a new service called Search Pad. Unfortunately I was unable to gain access to it (it appears to be on restricted testing) but the video (see link below) seems interesting.

Interestingly, this is just a week or so after Google announced it was stopping development of Notebook, its nearest equivalent. My guess is that this means Google have something else in the pipeline. I cannot image they would simply let Yahoo take over this area.

Search Pad

Saturday, 7 February 2009

7. Online notebook - Fruitnotes

This is a neat little online organiser, which has amongst its attributes
· To create, organize andshare your notes online.
· To upload photos andvideos with every note.
· To record your voice notes over the phone. (For US and UK)
There also a series of blog with useful notes.


Friday, 6 February 2009

6. The portable speech engine - DSpeech

This is neat little text-to-speech software which, while being a little "under-designed" at the interface level, has the redeaming feature that it is portable - that is you can load it onto a USB memory device. It uses the Windows voice.

There is also a speech-to-text part, but to say it did not like Wordsworth is a slight understatement. "I wandered lonely as a cloud" became "A one that will only as a cloud" while "that float on high over vale and hill" was given as "of the latest 1500 play or annual ". I can only assume it is my British accent that has fooled it. Perhaps it would do better with Walt Whitman.

This software is also available in Italian, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese and Japanese. They also claimed to have an interface for Chinese, Czech and Romanian. However, I did not have an opportunity to check if these voices are available.


Thursday, 5 February 2009

5. More searching in pictures - Cuil

There are an increasing number of image based. Here is yet another to try. It would be interesting to see what is prefered by dyslexic individuals.


Wednesday, 4 February 2009

4. Backing up syncplicity

This is a great back-up system that allows you to, in effect, remote access your desktop (or rather, all you files). The most difficult thing is to remember the spelling of the website!


Tuesday, 3 February 2009

3. Online comics - Pixton

There are a number of online comic makers coming online recently. The latest one that I have learned about is Pixton. What sold me was the trailer. It could be an alternative way to encourage creative writing, but without too much strain on the writing.

Pixton Trailer

Monday, 2 February 2009

2. Picture editing online - with Pixlr

This is a nice little online picture editor. Not a lot more to be said! In a dyslexia-friendly way, a picture paints 1000 words.


Sunday, 1 February 2009

1. January review

January started with a review of the year and the TechnoDys Awards for 2008 (1). We then had an exciting month that included personal route maps on mobile phone to help people find you (and find yourself!) (Zhing - 3) to laptops for €10 (31). In between there were a host of other exciting developments.

One of the most exciting was Prezi (29) which is a new form for presenting. Other visual forms were Concept mapping on the iPhone (11), Templates for mapping ideas - Exploratree (20) and Visual Mind 11 Beta (30)

Four came under the category of "text-to-speech": How do you pronounce it? - Forvo (10) Recording on the move - Audioblogs (24), For the quiet times - VLoud (13) and Burning the call - Callburner (26)

There were three capture and convert items: Improved scans from your phone - Snapter (7), Conversions - in Zamzar (23) and Screencapture - Screentoaster (21)

Two "writing" programs made and appearance: Luminotes (15) and Pic-Lits (17)

There were two concerned with web search 8. Cooliris (8) and Homepage Startup (22), and one for content management - Zimplit (27).

There is also a new tracking tool TrackClass (9), and a translator - Nicetranslator (28)

The project highlighted for this month was Embed Project(25)

For the others it is difficult to find groupings for the rest, so here they are

18. New technology
19. Write place - Livescribe
6. The local book store - in Google
5. Making your own jigsaws - Jigzone
4. Moving around files to a nearby friend
12. Plagiarism 3 - Raptor
16. Words in pictures - TagCrowd