Sunday, 28 February 2010

28. Touch screens

It seems that X2 Computing has a device out to rival the iPad, which is not available until April. There are two versions, both of which are bigger than the iPad. But then many people were producing mobile music players before the iPod. We shall see who wins the tablet wars.

X2 Computing Touch Screen

Saturday, 27 February 2010

27. Presentation

Many individuals think they are good at presentation because they can use flashy graphics. But I say that flashy graphics usually hides a lack of interesting content. Here are 10 Important Tips for Powerpoint Presentations that help one concentrate on the subject matter and ensure a powerful presentation. There are also lots of other suggestions for how to make and improve presentations.

Ten presentation tips

Friday, 26 February 2010

26. Shortcuts

To me there is nothing more frustrating than searching through all those menus in Excel to find just the function you need. And of course, not only can I not remember it, it does not even appear on the menus. For example, Crtl + ; give the current date. Well, all you have to do it go to Help (F1) and type in "shortcuts" and you have all of them listed. Print out the results and there you have a very good Shortcut Guide. So much quicker than other methods.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

25. Learning resource - Videos on Office

Why read the manual if you can find an online video? I found this great resources, thanks initially to trying to find something through a not-always-helpful Microsoft Office Help. It pointed to a (independent?) website with videos. Here is one that answers a long-standing question of mine - how to get rid of track change. But explore the rest of the site.

Woopid - Track changes

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

24. Comment - Is your website dyslexia friendly?

What makes a website dyslexia friendly? There are many factors, such as the more obvious background colours, font size and clear layout. However, some people seem to get lost in the idea of what is a clear layout. To me it means that when the website appears, you can very quickly see what is there and go to the right place. So why do so many people still make websites where you have no option but to scroll in order to see key information and links? And yes, I am talking about dyslexia-related websites.

And what about those little add-ons that sit at the bottom of the screen, hiding the words you have been searching for? Why does nobody stand back as look at it? The answer is that nobody can be bothered to talk to the user group. So unless you can tell me that the user group has used it and provided feedback, please do not tell me that a website is dyslexia-friendly.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

23. Drawing package

I was looking for a recommendations today on a project but nothing monumental to announce. However, I did find this nice little online sketching website.However, I found it works in Firefox but not in IE.


Monday, 22 February 2010

22. Browsers

I have not tried Google Chrome for a bit, but I do note that it has a good list of shortcuts, which I find is very useful as it saves lots of time and effort. Of course you still have to remember the combinations! But that is why I have Post-Its!

Chrome Shortcuts

Sunday, 21 February 2010

21. Hardware - Spellcheckers

I tend to think of spelling being checked on the computer these days. But sometime there is a need for a handheld spellchecker, for example for pupils in the classroom, or for when you just do not have that computer open (rarely in my case!). So I decided to look up the trusted supplier Franklin and was delighted to see the range they have available. In particular I like the talking spellchecker but it is "Temporarily out of stock". The one shown here is also very good, but does not speak.


Saturday, 20 February 2010

20. Screen recording

If you want a simple frame grab from the web for a ppt of Word document, then you can always use Prt Sc on your keyboard. But if you are looking for something more sophisticated, then this could be the answer. Features include the options to capture the entire document (even the part off screen), to capture a draggable area, to copy to the clipboard and to save as a jpg or png.


Friday, 19 February 2010

19. Organisation

Need to organise "everything"? Here is one piece of software that claims to be able to do that. According to the website, it could assist with:
• Contact information
• Trip information
• Financial information
• Make notes on clients
• Password management
• Shopping
• Health
• Teachers notes
• Students notes
• Project planning
• Make notes in courtrooms
• Gift ideas
• TV programs
• Capture news, track articles in periodicals
• Write books
• Music
• Sport
• Kids
• Domestic pets

All My Notes

Thursday, 18 February 2010

18. Notetaking

There are many types of programs for note taking, and if I was to review one a month, it would take me quite a few years to get through the ones I already know. So here is a list to let you decide.

Notetaking software

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

17. Dyslexia Friendly web sites

Readers of this blog will know that I recently had published a book called Dyslexia in the Digital Age. In it I talked about User Interfaces and dyslexia-friendly websites. But I did not name any. Why? Because I could not find any worth citing.

Let us take for example the issue of coloured backgrounds. Why can't designers implement something simple and easy to access instead of telling you to go to Options/Tools. One that does a reasonable job (though I would like to see more colour combinations) is the EU Project Embed.

Certain websites make an effort to use something such as Textic which uses templates. (See for example the British Dyslexia Association website.) But try searching for a word on the web page using the browser search and you will find the answer sits behind the Textic toolbar, unseen!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

16. Useful website

There are many collaborative tools, and this website brings together may of those tools from the diverse collaborative areas of

Social bookmarking and web clipping tools
Calendar/event scheduling tools
Mind mapping tools
Note taking/sharing/annotation/whiteboarding tools
Research tools

Collaboration Tools

Monday, 15 February 2010

15. Search and Research

There are a number of search and research tools coming online that are taking advantage of the lastest advances in web technology. Here is one such website. It includes the search tools as well as tutorials as to how to get the best from searching.

Noodle Tools

Sunday, 14 February 2010

14. Computers - Dual screens

GScreen - Source: Engadget

Last month I mentioned a dual screen with a 10 inch screen. I did try it at BETT, and to be honest it felt more gimmick than tool. But now the rumours from Engadget are suggesting that the dual screen laptop by gScreen will be a massive 17 inches per screen (!) and out in May. I also heard it could be around 5.5kg, and a price tag of close to $3000.

Dual Screens

Saturday, 13 February 2010

13. Supporting students

iSheds, the project that is developing support for the dyslexic student in the Balkan countries, is launching an online support e-book for tutors. This should include sections on

  • Understanding Dyslexia
  • Learner preferences and learning styles of the dyslexic student
  • Preparting matierals for the dyslexic student
  • Assistive Technology for Tutors
  • Supporting the dyslexic learner

Apparently the first section of the English version should be available in about a week. We are very interested in all feedback.

Friday, 12 February 2010

12. Books to download

An e-book reader is only as good as the content available. There are many possible sources of e-books, and you could even make your own using the content from Gutenburg.

I did come across this free one that allows unlimited reading on the web, but member ($7 per month) also can download pdfs, e-book reader formats as well as mobile phone formats. They also offer unlimited support. The range seems excellent, thought I did not go into details.

Free ebooks

Thursday, 11 February 2010

11. User preferences - Templates

When you start a new Word document, wouldn't it be nice if that Template was already set up with your own Preferences. Here is a good web site that has lots of diagrams that helps you to set up a new Template to your own preferences.

TechRepublic Templates

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

10. Comment

I am repeatedly asked "What's new?" and am never quite sure how to answer that. As I said last month, there is little now that is truly new and innovative. Little that would make me stop or turn my head. But what may make a difference is the way things are packaged. The company Creative was around selling mp3 players long before the iPod arrived. But Apple repackaged and revolutionised our access to music. Will they do the same with e-books with the new iPad? Rumour has it that they are already talking to many publishers, and some publishers are moving away from Amazon because they refuse to pay enough money. (The cheap price is good for buyers, but if the authors do not get a reasonable about of money, there could be less books to choose.) And after all, an e-book is just a tablet PC with limited capability. Personally, I will not get a iPad just yet. I need to see what you can do on it. If there are books, what about the text-to-speech? But there is little doubt that there will be a copycat response to this oversized iPhone. And as we all know, it is no longer the iPhone that is the selling point, it is all those Apps. So let's see how dyslexia-friendly these iPad's are, if they add something to a "learning" experience, or whether it is just another stepping stone towards something that will create the long awaited revolution.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

09. E-readers

It seems there are many reviews of e-readers. Here are two that will suit different types of people.

E-book Readers review (UK) - long detailed review, like a blog.

Top Ten Reviews - Short tables with key comparisons.

Monday, 8 February 2010

8. Website of the Week

Lexdis is a site I have highlighted before, but you would have to go back over 100 entries to find it. And it is worth mentioning again. As it says "LexDis 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."

In particular:
* Applications that students use during their online learning that may cause issues.
* Assistive Technologies that students use with their strategies to solve some of the issues arising.


Sunday, 7 February 2010

7. Backup and storage

When it comes to backup and storage, it is always difficult to decide what to go for, or even what features to look for. Here is a review of thirteen of the most popular ones for 2010. They all have a commercial perspective, but five offer free service for low usage. (N.B. I am not sure why Dropbox is not listed.) I particularly liked the video reviews that are available for some of them.

Backup and storage reviews

Saturday, 6 February 2010

6. Speech-to-text in Windows 7

In the UK there are still many students waiting for their funding for assistive technology. However, even Windows 7 has lots of feature that can be useful. For example, try using Speech-to-text. You can access details through the computer Control Panel/Speech Recognition, where you will find the following:

Start Speech Recognition
Start using your voice to control your computer

Set up microphone
Set up your computer to work properly with Speech Recognition

Take Speech Tutorial
Learn to use your computer with speech. Learn basic commands and dictation.

Train your computer to better understand you
Read text to your computer to improve your computer's ability to understand your voice. Doing this isn't necessary, but can help improve dictation accuracy.

Open the speech Reference Card
View and print a list of common commands to keep with you so you always know what to say.

And here is a short video that show a few details.
Speech-to-text on Windows 7

Friday, 5 February 2010

5.Text to speech

Behind every text-to-speech software is a good text-to-speech engine. You may like to try these voices and compare them to what you already have. Some are very impressive.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

4. Outlining

I thought that I would look for something to build on concept maps from this time last month. So I looked for Outliners. I found a website, but was rather overwhelmed by the list. I tend to try to find one or two to recommend, but in this case, I shall wait for people to tell me their favourites!


Wednesday, 3 February 2010

3. Dyslexia in different languages

I have recently been asked to write an article on supporting the multilingual dyslexic individual. So I thought why not list all those EU projects and the languages that are in. Then people can see what is available in various languages. Below is also a brief guide to those projects that have overall guides to understanding dyslexia and where to find them.

Bulgarian - Adystrain, Dessdys, Dys2, Embed, Include, Veto
Bosnian - iSheds
Croatian - iSheds
Czech - Dys2
Danish - Adystrain
Finnish - Adystrain
German - Adystrain, Dys2
Greek - Discovery, Dys2, Include
Hungarian - Dessdys, Discovery, Dystrain, Embed, Include, iSheds, Veto
Italian - Dessdys, Discovery, Embed, Veto
Lithuanian - Dys2
Polish - Embed , Include
Romanian - Dystrain, iSheds, Veto
Serbian - iSheds
Slovenian - iSheds
Spanish - Adystrain, Embed
Swedish - Dystrain
Turkish - Dessdys, Discovery
Welsh - Dystrain

Brief Summaries
Adystrain - Training for managers and vocational tutors
Dessdys - Study skills for students (temporary website)
Discovery - Transition support - Primary to Secondary
Dystrain - E-learning for teachers (Email me for details)
Embed - Dissemination of EU Projects
Include - Self-support for adults
iSheds - Identification and support in higher education in Balkans
Veto - BDA Quality Mark for institutions (Due online soon)

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

2. Portable Application

Portable applications are those that you can put onto a USB memory stick. The latest Portableapps Suite (from has just been released, and includes:
* Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition (web browser)
* Mozilla Thunderbird, Portable Edition (email)
* Mozilla Sunbird, Portable Edition (calendar/tasks)
* ClamWin Portable (antivirus)
* Pidgin Portable (instant messaging)
* Sumatra PDF Portable (PDF reader)
* KeePass Password Safe Portable (passwords)
* Sudoku Portable (game)
* Mines-Perfect Portable (game)
* CoolPlayer+ Portable (audio player)
* Pnotes Portable (sticky notes)
* Portable* (office suite)
- Writer (word processor)
- Calc (spreadsheet)
- Impress (presentations)
- Base (database utility)
- Draw (drawing)

This means that if you like to always use the same software, and need to move from one computer to another, you will always have your software with you. The one big item missing is text-to-speech. But I am working on it!

Portable Apps Suite

Monday, 1 February 2010

1. Dyslexia Update

Bosnian Dyslexia Organisation (Web launch Feb 2010 -
This newly formed dyslexia association is developed out of Tuzla University, and is working in collaboration with the iSheds project. It will provide a portal for all those with an interest in dyslexia in Bosnia.

iSheds (
Developing dyslexia support in higher education in Bosnian, Croatian, Hungarian, Romanian, Serbian and Slovenian as well as English. Online ebook for support workers to be available in March 2010. Paper based version already available.

Embed (
Self-evaluation tools for institutions now available as well as teachers self-assessment. Also self-learning modules. Available in EN, HU, BG, ES and IT.

Please help the Embed European Assistive Technology Survey by completing the online form at (NB If you want to return to it later, copy that long web address at the top. It refers just to your data.)

Dessdys (, but currently hosted at while in development). Online e-learning on study skills. First Newsletter already produced. Available upon request.Available from April 2010 in EN, BG, HU, IT and TR.

Dyslexia Veto
BDA-led project on European dissemination of the Quality Mark, creating dyslexia friendly vocational training centres in Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Romania and the UK. Website launch in February 2010.

GeoDysCo Contacts (
This now has several hundred international, national, local and individual contacts, with more coming onstream this week. 100 professionals working in the field of dyslexia in Croatia to be added in February. If you/your organisation wish to be listed or know others, please contact me for a template.

BDA Workshop Conference 25-26 Feb - Liverpool
EDA International Conference: Bruges 22-24 April -

Forgive me for "advertising" but my book is finally out. "Dyslexia in the digital age" was published by Continuum in January.