Saturday, 31 October 2009

31. Zotero video tutorial - from Edenskills

I have had Zotero, a reference logging software, on my computer for some time, but have never utilised it because I am not sure how to use it. Here is a video from Edenskills which takes you through the basics.

Zotero video tutorial

Friday, 30 October 2009

30. Free text to speech from Yakitome

This is free text to speech that is used around the world. It appears to be available in English, Spanish, French and German.


Thursday, 29 October 2009

29. Security software - from Microsoft

Microsoft have launched free security software that is for XP, Vista and Windows 7. One should be grateful, though also asking why now? Is somebody trying to start a Class Action about "reasonable liabilities" of the provider?

According to their site "Microsoft Security Essentials is a free download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. It’s easy to tell if your PC is secure — when you’re green, you’re good. It’s that simple."

Google sidebar removal

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

28. Flash cards with BambooApps

Want a simple program to make flashcards? This could be the answer.


Tuesday, 27 October 2009

27. Photo editing with Picnik

This is another picture editing tool that is free, though there is a subscription based upgrade.


Monday, 26 October 2009

26. Tracking what works

This is not directly assistive technology for dyslexic individuals, but one that would be useful for website developers. The part that caught my eye was tracking for websites. That is, for a small fee, web designers can see which parts of their website are most commonly used, and what does not work. By careful use, it should be possible to make websites more dyslexia-friendly.

Crazyegg tracking

Sunday, 25 October 2009

25. Wireless power

It seems the "wireless power" technology is moving forward. This is the one where the put your device down in a certain place and it recharges without being plugged in. It seems now that Nokia has joined the ranks of Duracell, Nokia, Olympus, Philips, Samsung, Sanyo, ST-Ericsson, and Texas Instruments and others. But there are no dates for technology release.

Wireless Power Consortium

Saturday, 24 October 2009

24. Keeping up-to-date with Twitter

If, like me, you are pragmatic and will use anything where its advantages are obvious, you will still be "dubious" about value-added with Twitter. Sadly, the first time I have seen it of "use" was when I watched the progress of a two fundraisers on a journey to London. (Cracknell and Foley riding a Rickshaw from Edinburgh in 60 hours.) But this is not exactly learning, and not dyslexia related. But rather than be out in the cold and dismissive, I try to be inclusive. So here is a website that has a whole collection of links that may help you get started. I look forward to reading of uses that support the dyslexic individual.

And do I have a Twitter account? Yes, currently averaging one entry a month.

50 sources of Twitter help

Friday, 23 October 2009

23. Magnifier with PCLoupe

This is a simple, free little download which provides a magnifier around the mouse.

PC Loupe

Thursday, 22 October 2009

22. Learning languages with Lingoversity

According to their website "Lingoversity is specifically designed to increase your vocabulary in an effective and friendly way. Unlike traditional learning methods, our concept has the power to stimulate, excite and motivate students. Our unique technology guarantees that you will never forget the words you learn." Sounds like it may be dyslexia friendly.


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

21. Notes taking with Knowledge Notebook

This is an offline notes program that provides association and search capability beyond that of most notes programs. Unfortunately after the 15 day free trial, you need to pay €29. But may be worth the trial.

Knowledge Notebook

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

20. Office live - from Microsoft

It was almost by chance that I stumbled across OfficeLive. It is a Microsoft development. The site allows you to (according to them):
* Access and share files from anywhere
* Work with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
* 5GB of free online storage (thousands of Office documents)
* Share password-protected documents—you control who views and edits
* Use for work, home, and school

Similar to several others, but worth exploring since it should be there a little longer than some other sites!

Office Live

Monday, 19 October 2009

19. Shot and hear from Captura

The Captura System has been developed by Iansyst Ltd, and is a quick and always accessible way to capture text and hear it spoken. Basically you can run the software on a Windows Mobile 6 mobile phone. All you do it take a photo of the text, and then you can hear it read back to you. The prices have tumbled from when I last checked, and with a price of only £275 (for the micro SD version, using your own phone), it is worthy of serious consideration.


Sunday, 18 October 2009

18. Search Me has gone! At least for now.

One of my favourite dyslexia-friendly websites, Searchme, has gone! It is, sorry was, a browser site where it showed internet pages instead of lists of words. What a pity! The website simply says "The worlds leading visual search engine has gone off line. We are selling our IP (Intellectual Property)". I hope something appears to replace it soon.


Saturday, 17 October 2009

17. Keeping up-to-date - E-learning: How important is it?

I came across a report on an Oxford Union debate that happened at the beginning of October, and I was intrigued by the result. (Below is a link for others to read the details.)

The motion was: "This house believes that the e-learning of today is essential for the skills of tomorrow." The motion was defeated, with 90 in favour and 144 against. That is, the attendees agreed it was not necessary. Personally, I am in favour of the new wave of learning, p-learning. And in case you are unsure, it Paper-based Learning. I love it!

This link provides a brief summary with a link to the longer version.

Oxford Union Debate Summary

Friday, 16 October 2009

16. Screen sharing with Skype

It seems that everybody now is using screen sharing. The latest that I have used is Skype. All you need to do is start a conversation with somebody and then in the conversations window click Share > Share Your Screen in the IM toolbar (in Windows) or ShareShare Screen (on a Mac). It could hardly be simpler. Then you can expand the image to cover the whole of your desktop if required.

Skype Screen sharing

Thursday, 15 October 2009

15. Check that URL with URL Fixer

It can be very annoying when you type an address only to find you typed google.con instead of .com. This Firefox addon takes a number of the most common extensions and check that they are correct before failing to find the website. Don't expect miracles, but it will check common misspellings of .com, .net, .org, .edu, .gov, .biz, .info, .mobi, and .travel

URL Fixer

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

14. Kindle in the UK

After what seems like a long delay, Amazon's Kindle is finally coming to the UK (and the rest of the world!). Reports suggest that the issue was trying to make it compatible for the 3G mobile networks (they set it to work with the US ones only, for reasons I cannot understand!) Apparently it due on the 19th October, with orders only being possible through the US site. Cost will be around £200 (including possible export taxes). What I cannot find out is what books the text-to-speech will work with.

BBC Report on Kindle

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

13. Work lookup (and hearing) with WkiLook

Wikilook for Firefox was updated last week and is even better than before. It is similar to AnswerTips, but works with Wiktionary. All you need to do (once you has installed the add-on) is to hold down the Shift key and right click. It gives you the definition and (usually but not always) the pronunciation of the word. (Also if you hold down the Ctrl key instead of Shift, you can access Wikipedia.) It also allows you to change the look-up place, making it usable in many different languages. (For example, for the Spanish look-up, you could use


Monday, 12 October 2009

12. YouTube (and similar) easy downloads

According to the Mozilla Firefox site, this is "The easy way to download and convert Web videos from hundreds of YouTube-like sites." Of course one should always be aware of copyright infringement. But if you were looking to review later that "How to do a concept map" website, this could be the answer. At 450,000 downloads per week, several others seem to agree.

Video DownloadHelper

Sunday, 11 October 2009

11. News Flash for smart phones

It seems that finally Adobe Flash, the full version, will be available for smart phones. This means that those thousands of resources that we have been able to use online will now also be accessible on the phone. Of course this is also getting ready for that point not so far away when we are projecting the screen from the mobile, for such use as YouTube, since 75% of all video is delivered through Flash. Apparently this should roll out in early 2010.

BBC Report on Adobe Flash

Saturday, 10 October 2009

10. Keeping up to date with technology - Google Wave

Google has moved forward with their "new technology" Google Wave, which Wikipedia describes as "a personal communication and collaboration tool" announced by Google at the Google I/O conference on May 27, 2009. It is a web-based service, computing platform, and communications protocol designed to merge e-mail, instant messaging, wikis, and social networking. It has a strong collaborative and real-time focus supported by extensions that can provide, for example, robust spelling/grammar checking, automated translation between 40 languages, and numerous other extensions. Initially released only to developers, a "preview release" of Google Wave has been extended to about 100,000 users on September 30, 2009.

Now to me that sound great but is in fact empty, since how is it different from what we already have (and what relevance is it to dyslexia?!). Sadly Google have never been particularly responsive to those with difficulties accessing the printed word. However, if they would include say speech-to-text, which I can now use with my Blackberry search thanks to Google, then we would see something significant. My feeling is that this could however, become somehow integral to e-learning, providing new ways to collaborate and share. My concern is that it may be impressive and innovative to developers and those who have been teaching for 20 years and need something different. But will it help the learner, or just further disenfranchise the dyslexic learner.

Sadly I can find nobody addressing these issues.

Google Wave

Friday, 9 October 2009

09. Netnotes links the note to the net!

This is a simple little Mozilla Firefox extension that creates a note which is attached to the bookmark in your browser. So re-open the bookmark and the Netnote will reappear. Simple but effective.


Thursday, 8 October 2009

08. Open Office for Mac - NeoOffice

As readers know, I have a tendency toward open source software which reflects the social model (available to everybody rather than just those with money) and Windows systems, which is pragmatic rather than preference. (I grew up on Macs and still prefer them.) But I have to be familiar with the needs to users. Hence a lack of Mac software listed. However, I shall try to address that in future!

I have just found out (thanks to Jane Knight) about NeoOffice, a very stable open source Office system that is designed for Macs. Apparently there are over half a million users worldwide. It appears to be available in English, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese.


Wednesday, 7 October 2009

07. Mini Homer, for where its at

This is a great little keyring attachment that helps you relocate you car (and up to five other locations) using GPS. A simple re-use of technology to create a very different (and useful) application.

Navin MiniHomer

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

06. Convert to PDF in many languages with doPDF

The reason for highlighting this pdf converter is that it is also available in 21 language versions!


Monday, 5 October 2009

05. See your battery life in colour with BattCursor

There is little more annoying that just getting to the crucial part and suddenly the battery on the laptop fails and the whole system shuts down. Of course there are many types of indicators that you could use. But some are not very conspicuous, and only tell you once you check! This is a free utility that I came across (in PC Utilities) as "Automatically change the colour of window borders to indicate the stare of your laptop's battery." There are also battery saving functions and apparently many more options. Certainly worth a try!


Sunday, 4 October 2009

04. Collaborative suites

I was recently asked what would be a good tool for collaborative projects. Although my answer was that it depends on the specific needs of the individual, I did provide a short list of suggestions, despite a shortage of information on real needs. Recognising the increase demand for as well as opportunity, I thought that I would share. Note that this is far from a definitive list, since it does not include drawing packages, for example.

Tools I would recommend include:
Shared environment - Dimdim
Shared document - Etherpad
Shared spreadsheet - Editgrid
Shared storage - Dropbox

Saturday, 3 October 2009

03. E-learning and assistive technology from Lexdis

Lexdis is a developement from the University of Southampton which says it is "for those who are using or developing on-line learning materials. All the strategies have been provided by students who have first hand experience of e-learning. We have pulled together handy hints and tips on technologies you can use to make e-learning easier. Any technology that achieves this has been called an Assistive Technology." But there is lots more to it than that, with many tips, ideas and strategies.


Friday, 2 October 2009

02. Highlight and save web pages with iCyte

This is a simple online service that allows you to highlight and save any page on the internet. It allows collaboration and organisation in new and improved ways.


Thursday, 1 October 2009

01. September Review

For me the most exciting announcement for the past month have been in the area of hardware. With laptops becoming thinner, cheaper, and more mobile (what does the term "mobile" now mean as Nokia enter the netbook market?), technologies continue to merge. And rumours suggest that there is more to come this year, including maybe from Apple. Watch this space!


16. Cheap laptop still going down
20. Laptops move to thinner versions
23. New computer - from Nokia!
26. Asus to enter the E-Reader market
27. The end of XP is near
30. Big USB offers a viable back-up

02. Create games with Classtools
12. Neurodiversity in Higher Education
19. Quality research support from Intute
24. Free and paid for audio books from The Talking...

Screen recording and sharing
03. Sounds easy - online audio sharing with Chirbit
04. Screen recording made easy with Screenjelly
08. Etherpad just got better with the timeline
09. Storage online for sharing - from Box
18. Screencapture with PrtScr
14. Free video chat from Tokbox

28. Reminders for multiple users - Byapp
07. New form of stickies - Postica

06. Where is it all going?

05. Inspirations about mind mapping
10. Speaking websites and blogs from ReadSpeaker
11. Creating animation - with Go! Animate
13. To Twitter or not to Twitter
15. Time out for computers with Romaco
17. Organise your status bar in Firefox with Organize Status Bar
21. Blogging just got easier with After the Deadline
22. Maths tutorials from Brightstar
25. Build your CV using Ceevee