[Mm-friends] thoughts on this week's episode

Jamie Pauls jamiepauls at gmail.com
Tue Aug 16 22:18:33 GMT 2011

Thank you for your insight. I agree with your summation regarding the need 
for both mainstream and specialized products for the forseeable future.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Sabahattin Gucukoglu" <mail at sabahattin-gucukoglu.com>
To: <mm-friends at acbradio.org>
Cc: <braillenote at list.humanware.com>; "The PAC Mate User List" 
<pmlist at pacmategear.com>
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 3:51 PM
Subject: Re: [Mm-friends] thoughts on this week's episode

>I feel a bit spoiled.
> I got to use and love a Braille Lite M40, with its serial-line terminal 
> program.  I used a Keynote Companion, with its built-in DOS prompt.  Then 
> I moved on to the Windows CE 2.12-based BrailleNote.  It was all smoke and 
> mirrors.  The only glory it shared with its predecessors was that, being 
> text-based, it was optimal for blind users, and especially braille users. 
> It remains the strongest selling point of all notetakers today, in my 
> not-so-very-humble opinion.
> They aren't "Ghetto" technologies; that's just an excuse made by people 
> who refuse to acknowledge practicality in the face of overly-expensive 
> niche-market products.  However, as owner of both BrailleNote Apex QT 
> (soon BT, and if you've been following the BrailleNote list you know why 
> [1]) and PacMate Omni QX440, I can attest to their various strengths and 
> weaknesses.  I can also, as owner of Mac and iPhone, attest to their 
> inadequacy in aggregate, simply because they cannot keep up with 
> mainstream requirements.  I've never been certain about the purchase of a 
> stand-alone braille display, partly because I could never find a decent 
> one that would meet my needs, but mostly because I doubt very much 
> whether, with all the durability and surprising ability of a bluetooth 
> keyboard and display with an iOS device, they could match the kind of 
> one-touch, instant-access, simple and completely braille-literate tools we 
> enjoy with note-takers and especially the BrailleNote, by far the mo
> st retro-fitted device of them all, with at least as much typical 
> functionality as all the others and superb braille output [2].  The Apex 
> is my note-taker of choice.
> Now, a bit about the notetakers themselves.  I'm not an unsophisticated 
> user, and have requirements beyond the simple.  I am sorry for the use of 
> Windows CE and Windows Mobile, which are not good platforms to develop 
> fundamental technologies on because they are so focussed on graphical 
> interfaces.  This is also a good part of the reason why many third-party 
> apps simply do not run on the products.  HIMS has at least partly 
> addressed the issue for developers of their community with an SDK. 
> Freedom Scientific, while it at least provides a platform which supports 
> many more mainstream applications like IMAP and PowerPoint, is stuck with 
> the same problems plaguing the cell phone screen readers, namely that 
> various hacks and kludges are needed to make apps reasonably self-voicing. 
> And HumanWare, of course, hasn't done anything at all, leaving everyone 
> with a very nice, but horribly closed, platform.  Only Levelstar have 
> picked up on this particular bit of clue.  Users are left cho
> osing products between extremes of philosophy and never quite being 
> satisfied; a sad state of affairs for such expensive devices. *Sigh*
> Oh, well.  Maybe, one day, a dock will be invented for iOS devices that 
> turn them into super-notetakers.  Maybe Apple will touch up VoiceOver and 
> turn it into some sort of menu-driven (or menu-accessible) application 
> launcher.  I doubt it though.  I think we'll all need some sort of 
> notetaker and some sort of mainstream device, until the wind changes 
> direction.  If nothing else, we can only hope the price of braille 
> displays comes down.
> Cheers,
> Sabahattin
> [1] HumanWare finally came out and told us that the Apex QT model had been 
> hobbled by an update to the protocol, rendering it useless as a braille 
> terminal for any screen reader besides JAWS.  A fix is promised.
> [2] Especially the "Indent 2 cells" option in KeySoft.  That impresses me 
> favourably when reading.
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