Tuesday, 31 March 2009

31. Skype recording - PowerGramo

This is an excellent program for recording Skype conversations, with apparently few restrictions on the time you can use it. The professional (paid) version give you a few extras, but not worth worry about in the beginning (e.g. separating the two voices, and recording conference call.


Monday, 30 March 2009

30. Voice search - Blackberry and Google

I am an avid Blackberry user, and have been for about .... well, I am on my fifth Blackberry. It is usually not very well served for applications. But Google have just made voice searching available for my device. I downloaded it, and the results, I admit, were excellent. But I shall try to resist going around and showing everybody.

Blackberry Voice Search

Sunday, 29 March 2009

29. Screen grabbing - Screentoaster updated

It seems that Screentoaster, originally reviewed on 21 January 2009, have upgraded their system to make it faster and better, especially for YouTube recording and uploading. Hopefully, as it gets easier to use this technology, so there will be more and more tutorials produced.


Saturday, 28 March 2009

28. Image resizing - it's a RIOT

This is a screenshot from RIOT (it stands for Radical Image Optimisation Tool), a wonderful little package which allows you to easily change the size and resolution of images very quickly and easily. This is the perfect tool for making images smaller for ppts and Word documents making a picture paint 1000 words. I wish everybody would use it. Then I would not end us receiving so many unnecessarily huge documents.

In the above example, I reduced the image from 85k to 10k with little loss of quality at this size.


Friday, 27 March 2009

27. Unzipping - using Jzip

This is a slightly more generic piece of software than usual. I list it because I was getting annoyed at keep coming across files that required buying WinZip. So I looked for an alternative, and this does it perfectly, and is free.


Thursday, 26 March 2009

26. Visual resources - Academic earth

The background to this website was that somebody was reviewing the web for resources and discovered a whole load of freely available not only lectures but also courses on the web. They are mostly highly academic, but may be of interest to some.

Academic Earth

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

25. A clearer video - Quietube

One of the most annoying things about YouTube is the huge number of distractions and links on any one page. Wouldn't it be nice if you could simple look at a video with no distractions.

Well now you can thanks to Quietube. All you have to do is (and you may need to follow carefully here!) go to the Quietube website, drag the logo from the centre onto your Bookmarks toolbar, and it sits there ready. When you want to watch a clip, go to YouTube, find the clip and then click on the Quietube logo. This will then load a stress free clear background. You also send the "new" web address to a friend and they can see it on a clean background too.


Example (Ruzsa Magdolna - Hungarian Pop Idol winner)

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

24. Long life netbook from Samsung

It seems the soon to be release Samsung N310 will come with a battery life of 5 hours as standard, or a massive 11 hours with an enhanced battery. That could save a few shutdowns due to low battery!

Samsung battery

Monday, 23 March 2009

23. Browser Previews - from CoolPreview

There are lots of browser options to choose from. This is a Firefox extension that allows you to see a preview of a web page is you hover over a link. (That is the setting I have chosen. You can also have a "Click on the icon" option.)

The one drawback is that if you hesitate over a link, it will pop-up, so you need to be decisive.


Sunday, 22 March 2009

22. What to do - A simple to do list via Google

Organisation and priorities area always a problem for me. Not in the doing, but in how to organise them outside my head so that somebody else could understand (and I do not forget!). The Desktop is covered in very useful stickies, none of which I feel I can throw away. But I am now hoping that a Google gadget could help. It is "installed" through iGoogle (have a Google account and use Google as your default, and that allows you to use iGoogle) and simply allows a list to appear in your browser. Nothing complicated. Just a pure list. With a priority setting.

But like all new listing systems, lets see how it works in the next month.

The page below shows several other to do lists. I have chosen the one that is also used by 2.3 million other users.

To-do Lists

Saturday, 21 March 2009

21. Text to singing - with Oddcast

I came across this little oddity from Oddcast, which is intended as a demonstration of their technical skills. But I realised that with a little creativity, it could be a fun (though slightly limited!) little exercise for kids practicing, for example, syllabification.

Put simply, you type in your words to replace the existing ones, it sings it to you! The way it can implicitly teach is that you decide to use only have one syllable per box. So you can work with the child to break up words into something the program can manage sometimes with creative spelling to recreate the syllable sounds), and then sing.

Yes, it is a bit limited to only two songs in the demo - Supertramps Breakfast in America and Ace of Base's All that she wants. But it can still be fun, and inspire further activities.

Oddcast Text-to-sing

Friday, 20 March 2009

20. Realising concept maps - The Realizer

With the market for concept mapping apparently close to saturation, the latest thing appears to be the creation of add-ons. First I mentioned about the add-on of speech-to-text (for MindManager). Now we have The Realizer that is said to be a tool to help plan brainstorning activities.

Apparently it works through provocation of the thinking process to help generate and develop ideas. It is currently available for MindManager and Visual Mind.


Thursday, 19 March 2009

19. Power projector - Castrade

It seems that the technology on the micro-projectors is moving forward rapidly. Castrade have announded a 10 lumens device which may not sound very strong but it is five times better than the previous version.

And how could this be useful to the dyslexic individual? Because it means that one does not have to rely on the computer so much, and the smart phone aids, such as calendar, diary and other areas that are good to share can be shared with a group more easily through projection onto a convenient surface. It may not be so long before concept mapping on the mobile becomes more viable since the 640 x 480 pixels that these small projects can use means that more complex concept maps are possible to do effectively on the small screen.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

18. Battery life - Boston Power

Laptop batteries begin to loose their ability to hold charge after less than a year, with charge time typically dropping from three hours to an hour or less.

Now Boston Power have just release a battery that claims three years of sustained power . Their first batteries are for HP laptops, with a suggestion that more will follow.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

17. Quick web view - Sthrt

This is a cool site that allow you to have a collection of your favourite sites on the front page as quick links. Simple but effective. However, I am not entirely sure how it is better than others of a similar ilk. It does talk about having one's own site and sharing including through social networks. Maybe it is the sharing that makes the difference. Also, they say there are lots of widgets for news, weather, games etc.

And the name? They say it is pronounced "start", the "h" replaces the "a". Not too memorable for a dyslexic! But then it is supposed to be one's home page.


Monday, 16 March 2009

16. Draw online anytime - Draw Anytime

This site allows you to draw any time, anywhere. According to them you can "draw flowcharts, process diagrams, organizational charts and more." You can also share it with others and save as a jpg. It is all done in the browser with no download.

Draw Anywhere

Sunday, 15 March 2009

15. Royalty free media

I was recently asked to recommend a website for good free clipart to make a presentation "more dyslexia friendly" by using lots of visuals. I was not sure what to suggest. I then found this site, which is a quick link to most of the major free graphics sites. However, any other recommendations would be appreciated.


Also, there are the free photos sites

And videos

And music

Saturday, 14 March 2009

14. Conversion - pdf to word

I have been looking for a good PDF to Word converter for some time. This time I think I may have found something that I will use again. I had a pdf document that I had made in a professional publishing package, which unfortunately does not save as a Word or rtf format. I did try another online service, and which produced a download of 22 meg. This one ended up at less 800k, and more importantly it did not have those annoying hard returns at the end of each line. Without doubt this is the best I have reviewed so far. The only downside is that it can take an hour or two for a file to come back. So plan well in advance!


Friday, 13 March 2009

13. Speaking player - Apple ipod

Do you ever get frustrated because you are unable to read what tune is being played on your iPod? The information is there but you cannot access it? Well now Apple have come up with their new iPod schuffle, billed as "The first music player that talks to you." According to the Apple website "With the press of a button, it tells you what song is playing and who’s performing it. It can even tell you the names of your playlists, giving you a new way to navigate your music."

Apple iPod Shuffle

Thursday, 12 March 2009

12. 3D touch - in development

Although as a principle I try to avoid too many "coming soon" stories, I thought that, like the Apple netbook of yesterday, this was significant enough to be discussed now.

It seems Mitsubishi are developing a touch screen that will detect how far above the screen you (and your finger) are. Basically the screen will detect how close your finger is, allowing the screen to change without you touching it. It may be argued that this is a double edged sword. On one side you could say it stops all those messy fingerprints, or the stylus being stabbed at the screen until it breaks. Conversely, many dyslexic individuals also being dyspraxic - will those individuals have sufficient motor control to take advantage of such functionality. This is particularly so if you are unable to rest the palm of your hand at the side of the device! (NB They are talking about both laptops and mobile phones.)

However, maybe somebody will bring out an application that could be used on such phones specifically for the training of those motor skills. That is, the device could be used as a motor control training device.

Mitsubishi 3D Touch screen

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

11. Netbook to come? - The Apple entry

The idea of the Apple touchscreen netbook is getting closer, with "reliable sources" being quoted, and even some images be found. It is said to come out in the summer. If so, it is sure to take the market by storm. Just in time for the new academic year?

Apple Netbook

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

10. Password plus online

It uses the Google "infrastructure" which means you can log in using your standard Google username and password. As you can see above, it uses a simple template, with places for URL, User Name, Password and Notes. In the terms and conditions, it does state "1. I will not request to restore the login password" because if you forget your "encryption" password, you cannot access anything. So you need to ensure you have that in a safe place!

Password ++

Monday, 9 March 2009

9. Sounding off - With Vista Speech Recognition

Although many people know of the power of speech-to-text, and the commecial market leaders, not everybody realises that speech-to-text comes integral to Vista. And while it does not rival its commercial equivalents, as an introduction it is not too bad. Check out this video for an overview of what can be done.

Vista Speech Recognition 1

Vista Speech Recognition 2

Sunday, 8 March 2009

8. Giving some Latitude to Google

Recently I reviewed Google Latitude on this blog, and today I thought I would give you a little more feedback based on my experiences since then.

Firstly, I love it, and it can be addictive! Now, if we look at this image above (on my trusty old Blackberry which I should get repaired but I cannot consider parting with it for 24 hours!!) it shows the result of standing outside a house in the outer London area. The note says "Your position within three metres." Please do not believe everything you see. It was closer to four metres. I know, I as there!

But be warned that it is not always so accurate. It has put me in my neighbours house, or even on the other side of the street. However, for most instance, I consider that to be close enough. That said, it has always been accurate in this country, except this morning when I wanted to take a photograph. In that case it kept thinking I was about one kilometre away. But eventually it got to the right place.

I have also found it very accurate in China, though not so good in Italy.

There are also other views and services, including map views and ways to plot your route (unfortunately given as written instructions). I did manage to send an email to myself of my location but strangely I have not been able to find that function since. Maybe I am doing something wrong. I find it useful for locating myself exactly, zooming out to look at the street names to confirm, and then zooming back in as I walk along, following my exact location.

I have little doubt that this will be very useful for may dyslexic individuals in many instances.

Google Latitude

Saturday, 7 March 2009

7. Words and pictures - with Abilitynet

Abilitynet is now incorporating a system on their website that provides visual clues (illustrations) to help understand words you may struggle with. It is an interesting concept, using Widget symbols. However, I am not entirely convinced that all the illustrations are clear unless you first know the words!

I look forward to hearing from those who find them useful.


Friday, 6 March 2009

6. Reading on the iPhone - with Kindle

Amazon have moved the goalposts in reading books with its electronic format for over 240,000 books. They achieved this through Kindle, a small handheld electronic reader. Now they have launched an application that allows you to access those books (i.e. buy, download and read) those books on your iPhone. However, I could not see in the information about the text-to-speech reader. Maybe there will be more press coverage over the next few days.

Amazon Kindle on the iPhone

Thursday, 5 March 2009

5. Say it with text - Spinvox

Skype has got together with SpinVox to enable you to send a text message using your voice in Skype. However, be warned that if you make it over 160 characters, you will be charged for additional texts. (I.e. you are charged for the first one too.) Sorry, but there are no freebies when it comes to text messaging.


Wednesday, 4 March 2009

4. Video downloading - Downloadhelper

Do you ever watch a video and wish you could save it to your local drive instead of online? Sitting in numerous hotels with very slow download speeds, waiting 20 minutes to view a 2 minute clip on YouTube, can be beyond frustrating. Life is too short for that, especially if it is the type of video you would want to watch more than once. Well, here is a possible solution. This Firefox Add-On should help you download from many site, though to be a little cautious, it seems a recent version still has a few bugs. (With new software it is always worth reading the users feedback comments.) Yes there is a logo which you have to pay to remove, but that seems reasonable in a commercial world.


Tuesday, 3 March 2009

3. Storage and sharing system - Kabooza

Kabooza is a simple online backup and storage system that costs but could be worth it. Unfortunately I have not been able to test it as I cannot find out if there is a free trial. They talk about $1 a week. So why recommend it? Because it has the appearance of being more professional and secure than some of the others. It includes a "download and install" suggesting that there may be a way to locally manage and encrypt. But perhaps somebody who has used it could let me know. If I am given more information, I shall share it.


Monday, 2 March 2009

2. Another browser - Safari

This browser is also good for Windows machines. I thought that I should say that first as my initial reaction was that this was only for Apple. But it is good for everybody. And is it different, as you would expect Mac to be? I confess that as the blurb says, the speed is awesome. I had always assumed that the slowness of uploading a page was due to the speed of the internet connect. But it is clear from Safari 4 that the manner of rendering of the information in the page is crucial. And that image on the right hand side in the image above? That is what you get when you click a button to display where you have been recently. I think I have just found my new browser of choice.

Safari 4

Sunday, 1 March 2009

1. Review of February

February had a diversity of entries, but my favourite has to be Google Latitude (9). No doubt I shall comment more about this later.

There were a number of reading and learning entries. These were: Links to language learning (24): Learning how to use progrmmmes online - Ask Lynda (24): Little pop-up micor-learnings - Popling (18): a library of of audio books - LibriVox (13): The Amazon electronic e-notebook - Kindle 2 (12)

There were three "time management" systems: Manictime (27), Keepmeout (25) and Doris (23). To this you could add Search Pad (8) and Online notebook - Fruitnotes (7)

Three programmes that is "writing" made and appearance: Online comics - Pixton (3), Writing essays - Wikihow (10), Mapping it out - Xmaps (14)

There were three concerned with web search: More searching in pictures - Cuil (5) and Visual shortcuts - MyClusta (21) and Speaking you search criteria of - Nuance (15)

There are also a new backup and storage websites: Backing up syncplicity (4), Save, store and share docs - Docuter (19): Online storage of pdf's - Pdfvia (26)

The project highlighted for this month was iSheds (Support in Higher Education in Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania and Hungary (11)

For the others it is difficult to find groupings for the rest, so here they are
2. Picture editing online - with Pixlr
6. The portable speech engine - DSpeech
16. Online database - Blist
17. Projecting the future - Samsung mobile project.
20. Your own fonts - YourFonts
28. Online word processing - Shutterborg