Thursday, 30 April 2009

30. Talking of functions - vlingo with iPhone and Blackberry

As a dedicated Blackberry user, I am delighted to see that services are now becoming available for both the iPhone and the Blackberry. The latest in dyslexia-friendly tools is this simple download which give you voice control for many of your programs.


Wednesday, 29 April 2009

29. Shared documents with formating - Solodox

Here is another one of those programmes whereby you can simultaneously edit documents online, which can be very useful. But there are a couple of extras with this. Firstly it looks like you can have all the formatting in place (unlike in other similar programs that just use Courier typeface with no embellishment). And it is also available in Japanese and Chinese. OK, so the second one may not interest most readers!


Tuesday, 28 April 2009

28. Large files? Enjoy the buzz of Otengo

On several occasions on this blog I have mentioned my need to send large email. This one now seems to be a better solution than previous ones. It is a small freely downloadable application which allows you through email to share files at least 100 meg, and maybe a lot bigger. As I understand it, from a technical perspective it is ingenious in that you send an email and at the same time in the background a special little program uploads it to a web folder (a sort of ftp). The recipient is told where to find it, and downloads, again using a small piece of software. Simple and easy to use (but only PC at present).


Monday, 27 April 2009

27. Concept mapping on and offline

Yes, it is yet another concept mapping tool. This one is free online, and also has an offline version. It uses Microsoft Silverlight, as opposed to Flash, Apex or some of the other systems. I am not convinced of Silverlight programs as yet. It seems the critical mass of the number of people developing software in this system has still not been reached. Only time will tell if Silverlight moves forward. But the software seems good though I did notice the email with the password did say "keep your reference number for when the product goes commercial. Hm!


Sunday, 26 April 2009

26. Email and backing up

Last week I had a serious problem with my computer, and as one stage I thought I was going to loose all my data. Fortunately I had back-ups of all my files. There was only one problem - email. I really do not understand why they make it so difficult to copy across or back-up of email so difficult. This made me re-think about the way we email.

While waiting for the computer to be fixed, I found that the email program Thunderbird can be installed on a USB memory stick. This means I can now not only access email from any computer via my USB memory stick, but also I can back up everything easily. Subsequently, I have found several colleagues who do the same.

Thunderbird Portable

Saturday, 25 April 2009

25. Text prediction made usable - Phrase Express

Do you ever wish there was an easier way to type frequently used phrases, expand abbreviations and auto-complete repetitive phrases? That is what PhraseExpress does. It also has a few other little tricks. See their website for details. What I particularly like is the way it says why it is free for personal use. They understand word of mouth is important, and ask people to recommend it to their bosses, who then pay just $50 (€39) for the software.

To get a good idea of is powers, try their video demonstration.


Video demo

Friday, 24 April 2009

24. Typing tutor - From Pete

There was something very appealing in this online typing course. Maybe it was because it was not all "designery", and obviously done by a real person for real people. And there was humour and explanations. I am not saying it follows the phonics principles of some of the commercial software, but it does not try to. As it says on the front page "Welcome to this humble course. Here you'll find a set of free online typing lessons and typing exercises for beginning typists, and frustrated hunt-and-peckers who want to move from four-finger typing to full-blown touch typing." Nice one Pete!

Pete's Online Typing Lessons

Thursday, 23 April 2009

23. Image software - Paint

Due to the unexpected death of my computer, I am now working on a computer without the huge range of software I normally have access to. So it is nice to be reminded what can be done with no resources. In this case I was preparing a blog entry for tomorrow and realised I did not have my usual professional software to turn my screen grab into a jpg. And I did not have time to download the usual free or Open Source software. So I turned to Paint, which is a Windows Accessory, and is perfect for the simple task. Sometimes the simplest is the best solution.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

22. Low price netbook - Coming soon

There are many rumours about low cost netbooks. But this one from Aware Electronics of Taiwan was apparently on show at the 2009 Electronics and Components China Sourcing Fair in Hong Kong last week. Two newsworthy features: 1) The cost is allegedly $150 (or €115) and 2) it has a detachable (7 in) screen. According to reports, it has "up to 512MB memory, 8GB NAND flash storage and a choice of Windows XP or Linux." It is not clear if options equals additional costs.

The manufacturers website describes it slightly differently, though that may be an earlier version. They describe it as an "advanced digital photo frame with the features of a standard PC." The specifications are also lower, but this may be due to a delay in refreshing their web pages. Either way, it gives us a glimpse of future development and costs. It will be ideal for simple work on the move, but I think we can rule out speech-to-text on it!


Aware Electronics

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

21. The road to organised research - Mendeley

Mendeley is a new tool (currently Beta 0.6) designed to assist you to "manage, share and discover research papers." In theory it is good (who can afford those prices for one paper!). It claims to have "Articles added: 854,817 research papers in all academic disciplines." But just below is the reality check of "6,321 research papers downloadable for free from their authors' profile pages." Maybe it is not quite so advantageous as it may at first appears.

I have decided to wait for somebody else to champion the content, rather than go in myself and hunt around.


Monday, 20 April 2009

20. Read it - ineedtoreadthis

Here is a clever little lightweight tool which allows you to create a simple "Read later" list, but without being bookmarks. It uses a little button called a bookmarklet, which sits in the Bookmarks Toolbar of the Browser. The only slightly annoying part is that you can hide the "read" items, but currently you cannot remove them. The developers have informed me that this has already been programmed into the next version, but has not been given a release date as yet.

I need to read this

Sunday, 19 April 2009

19. Fires of dissent - Kindle II revisited

It seems that the Authors Guild in the USA has forced Amazon to reconsider (remove!) the use of text-to--speech on their electronic book Kindle II. This could have far reaching implications. It seems to have brought protesters out on the street. See the video link below for details of the discussions. I would strongly recommend anybody who is considering buying one to think about the implications.

Kindle Protest

Saturday, 18 April 2009

18. Where is the car parked - G-Park

There are many trivial (and beyond trivial) iPhone applications. However, G-Park is a tool that may be useful for many dyslexic individuals. All you do it click when you park the car and then later you can follow the route back to where it is. A neat idea with a lot of potential users. Of course if you parked in a multi-storey, you still have to remember the level you are on. And if you battery dies and your charger is in the car ...... But you cannot have everything!

Friday, 17 April 2009

17. Sending large files - Yousendit

My Powerpoints tend to be BIG. Therefore I have problems sending them to people. I have found a few sites to upload to, but again there are usually restrictions of around 50Meg. However, the limit for this is 100 Meg, which opens up more possibility, including sending film clips.


Thursday, 16 April 2009

16. Online OCR - InstantOCR

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is usually about big flatbed scanners and expensive software. Here is a service that (currently) offers free online scanning. All you have to do is upload your document and it does the rest.

And it claims to work in English, Japanese, Portuguese, French, German, Turkish, Spanish, Polish, Danish, Italian, Finnish and Czech. They also have manual correction for English, Japanese and Turkish (for a small fee).

As I understand it, it works with mobile phone quality pictures, but you cannot currently send from your mobile phone as it is an upload-based system rather than an email-based system. But you could download to your computer, and then upload the image. It also converts pdfs.

Instant OCR

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

15. Online password protection - Passpack

Many people worry about password protection, for various reasons.
What is I loose my computer and the passwords are stored in an Excel? Simple answer is that you are opening yourself to being "invaded".

What if I have it protected on the computer? That is fine provided you backed it up somewhere.

Is it secure if I hold it online? In this case, Passpack has a simple solution - they do no ask who you are. So as well as the standard encryption methods, nobody could match the details with you since they do not know who you are!


Tuesday, 14 April 2009

14. Keep taking the tablets - from Motion

Although sold as a workhorse for rugged environments, this tablet PC appealed to me as a viable alternative for those who may have difficulties with the mouse, and coordinating between what they are looking at on the screen and what their hand is doing with the mouse. It is a standard tablet, but build for the more rugged environment. This may be useful for the dyspraxic individual, as well as those who take their frustration out on the technology. By using the stylus pen, the user can achieve hand-eye coordination more easily. There are many learning activities where this approach could be used. An external keyboard could be attached for more traditional typing.

Motion Tablet

Monday, 13 April 2009

13. Skype on the iPhone

With the iPhone as ubiquitous as Skype it is not surprising that the application is finally available on the hardware. Having been available for a little over a week, there are few negative comments. The interface for the iPhone version is (unusually) very close to the computer based version. This opens up may opportunities not only to chat with friends but also low cost support. Here is just one review.

Skype for iPhone

Sunday, 12 April 2009

12. Remote control by voice

Have you ever been miles from home and suddenly remembered that you left something on at home which should be off, or forgot to turn something on? Check out this computing competition entry for remote control. Basically there is now the capability of using your phone to control electrical devices in a remote location such as at home. Obviously the devices would have to be "smart devices", but the potential is huge, especially for those who may not remember everything.

Remote Control

Saturday, 11 April 2009

11. Screensharing update - Dimdim

Dimdim, the exciting web meeting and desktop sharing with over 2 million followers, has been reviewed here before, but has now had a considerable improvement with Version 5. This includes synchronised viewing of websites such as YouTube. The advantage this Open Source software has is that it makes clever use of web controls thereby minimising the speed effects due to remote and shared accessing. For a good brief review, see below. Apparently remote screen control is in development. I look forward to that next step. Thanks to Kevin of Dimdim for the update.

Readwriteweb Review

Friday, 10 April 2009

10. Reinvent your desktop - BumpTop

Do you want to change the appearance of your desktop? Make it virtual? Have it tidied for you? (Hm!!!) Well, this is an exciting website that allows you to do that and much, much more. Try looking at the video on the front page before you say no.


Thursday, 9 April 2009

9. Mindmapping on the Blackberry - Mindberry

As an "avid" user of the Blackberry (I really could not leave home without it) I am delighted to see that there is now a concept mapping tool for the Blackberry (around $11). It is good to see that people are beginning to produce applications for products other than the iPhone. I am sure there will be more to follow.


Wednesday, 8 April 2009

8. Screen recording - GoView

This verison of screen capturing allows you to record your screen and then share it immediately online with anybody who cares to view it. It is a beta version, but has potential.


Tuesday, 7 April 2009

7. Online mini-tests - yAuthor

This website offers an opportunity to make simple small, "professional looking" tests. But they could equally be made by the dyslexic learner as they could by the teacher.


Monday, 6 April 2009

6. Making movies - the XtraNormal

Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't Tom West (he has an updated version of his book "In the Mind's Eye" out later this year) say that there are huge numbers of dyslexic individuals employed in the animation industry? Well here is an animation industry for the dyslexic individual. It is an online animation maker (cartoons that move!), which although I have not spent hours exploring, does appear to offer some learning potential with a difference (including motivation?). You can write your own script (it uses some form of text-to-speech to make characters speak), choose characters, change actions and facial expressions etc. Well worth a look.


Sunday, 5 April 2009

5. Sharing all - Mikogo

This is another one of those sites that seems to offer all the necessary support mechanisms you could imagine. Among the capacities listed on their website for PCs (more restricted for Macs) are:
  • Screen Sharing
  • Switch Presenters
  • Remote Control
  • File Transfer
  • Meeting Scheduler
  • Recording & Playback
  • Whiteboard
  • Voice Conferencing service
I have yet to put it through its paces, but clearly these types of activities are rapidly becoming mainstream.


Saturday, 4 April 2009

4. The missing link - Foxtab

I can't believe that I have managed to survive until now without this!

Do you ever get lost in your web pages as you have so many open and you cannot find the one you want? Well, this is the answer. Image all you have to do it click on an icon next to the Home button and you can see every single page in one go (see above example - NB This is for Firefox only). Then click on that picture, and there you are. This is soooooo wonderful. It is not surprising nearly one million have already downloaded it.


Friday, 3 April 2009

3. Listen with Twitter - with Shouttr

Twitter is all the rage at the moment. But is it dyslexia-friendly? Lets not go into details, but here is one application that helped make it better. The Alpha version of Shouttr has just been launched. Allows you to listens to your Twits.


Thursday, 2 April 2009

2. What does it mean - Click Answers

Are you ever unsure of what a word on a webpage means? This Firefox add-on allows you to just hold down Alt and left click to have the dialogue box (like the one show above) suddenly appear with the full meaning. It will even pronounce it for you. And for the record, there have been over 2.5 million downloads for this add-on already.


Wednesday, 1 April 2009

1. Monthly Summary - March 2009

March brought a diversity of entries, as well as Spring. Unfortunately the diversity is so great that many are difficult to categorise. My highlight of the month was to discover web browsing on my Blackberry with Google using voice (30).

11. Netbook to come? - The Apple entry
13. Speaking player - Apple ipod
18. Battery life - Boston Power
19. Power projector - Castrade
24. Long life netbook from Samsung

Speech recognition
9. Sounding off - With Vista Speech Recognition
30. Voice search - Blackberry and Google

23. Browser Previews - from CoolPreview
2. Another browser - Safari
17. Quick web view - Sthrt

Resources and related
4. Video downloading - Downloadhelper
25. A clearer video - Quietube
26. Visual resources - Academic earth
29. Screen grabbing - Screentoaster updated

3. Storage and sharing system - Kabooza
5. Say it with text - Spinvox
6. Reading on the iPhone - with Kindle
7. Words and pictures - with Abilitynet
8. Giving some Latitude to Google
10. Password plus online
12. 3D touch - in development
14. Conversion - pdf to word
15. Royalty free media
16. Draw online anytime - Draw Anytime
20. Realising concept maps - The Realizer
21. Text to singing - with Oddcast
22. What to do - A simple to do list via Google
27. Unzipping - using Jzip
28. Image resizing - it's a RIOT