This page is just a ramble through what I am looking at or have come across
that I think might be worth a mention, each month or so I hope to review
the contents deleting the really old stuff & moving anything really worth while
onto a proper page location - just skip through the headings every now & then
to find anything new.
You can either browse this complete page by skipping through the headings or
select from the following combo box to go straight to the latest item on the
Clicking on the headings below will either jump you through the thread headings
of the subject or take you to a page specifically for that subject. Still
working on this so some may not work yet!.
Now into March and followingthe delivery of my new Geekom mini pc I'm now
testing these and various other pages on Windows 11. Older versions of windows
from version 8 upwards should still work fine too.
Also now starting testing with NVDA 2023.1 (beta 2), BRLTTY shold have a new
Not sure how this is going to work out but I took delivery of this Samsung
smart watch today. Mainly want to use it for health reasons to track blood
pressure and pulse etc. but thought it might be an interesting item to play
with. Lets see if it lives up to the good press they keep getting and whether
it's useful or just a fashion accessory.
Will be using it with my Samsung galaxy S21, thoughts so far:-
* Setup requires sighted help to get talkback started (the screen reader);
* Linking phone to watch was simple, just follow your nose sort of stuff;
* Touch screen very fidley, not for those without steady hands and fingers.
* Looks like very good build quality;
* Much more to come!;
Anyone who's got one or similar I'd be interested to hear how you get on with
With Windows 11 having been around for a while now I really thought it
time I had a machine that supported it and had the latest hardware as when I
inspected my current machines the newest was already six years old.
Now looking for a new computer is far from easy as there are just so many
makes, models and physical sizes out there sporting a vast array of facilities.
After a lot of reading I settled on a Geekom IT11 mini PC with an Intel I7
processor, 32GB RAM and a 1tb SSD plus a wide range of USB and other ports etc.
Full details on my computer pages when it arrives.
Only seems such a short time since Kraken bounced into my life to take over
from Trent my previous guide dog and now here we are starting to plan for
Before we go any further I'll be keeping him as a pet like I've done with my
other 3 dogs, I just could not part with them after such long and loyal
I'll be documenting the journey on these pages as we progress through the
time till a replacement can be found. At the moment Guide dogs have a very
long waiting list which is put down to the effects of Covid but there is more
to it than that I feel, this looks like it's going to be a long, stressful and
Working through all these pages and other sites that I work on updating links,
correcting spelling errors and generally cleaning thikngs up!
Just downloaded an dinstalled Android 13 on my Samsung S21. Apart from the voice working a bit better and a little quicker in response
in general there seems little difference forme, lots of flashy graphices
needless to say but so far no life altering additions for me.
Like all updates worth doing as they probably help security and general
stability of the device - might still find something really useful! watch
these pages for updates.
With those of you, like me, with a problem with eye sight you might want to
take a look at the update of Google Lookout which is an app that can describe
items in your surroundings, read text and identify various other products.
The app has been available for a while now but recent updates to it and
Talkback software have made it even better. Speed of recognition is now much
faster. Please do give it a try, it's free and easy to use.
With prices in supermarkets increasing nearly every day a web site I recently
came across may well be of interest to you. Called 'trolley.co.uk' it searches
for the best price of thousands of every day products in many of the most well
known super markets. I was shocked by the differences such as a box of tea
bags varying from £5 to £8.40 for exactly the same product so clearly sites
like this will make a difference to the price of your weekly shopping.
For those of you using Whatsapp on your smart phones you may be interested in
Whatsapp desktop a utility that joins your windows computer to your phone.
The benefits I've enjoyed so for are being able to use my computer keyboard
to type londer messages; to use keyboard commands to carry out housekeeping on
the phone; still more to play with but watch this space!
Where does the time go? only seems like yesterday when Kraken bounced through
the front door for the first time and now he's 10! Time for a chicken and rice
dinner for him and a bottle of red for me.
After a few quiet years on the garden railway we managed to get it up and
running twice in 2022, loads of visitors and we managed to raise £1,525
into the bargain - a really big thanks to all my friends for helping out of
At long last we're hoping to open my garden railway to the public once again on
9 and 10 July 2022, after over 2 years of covid restrictions we have decided
to give it a go! So for the last few weeks I've been busy trying to get it
all up and running once again - hope to see lots of visitors of the weekend
who can enjoy the trains and help us raise funds for charity at the same time.
Just a quick reminder that I work on other sites that you might
just be interested in, why not take a look and as always let me know what
No big changes just having a play with the layout of the Contents sections of
these pages to see if I can make navigating the site just that bit easier.
Please do let me know what you think via the feeback page.
Turned on my smart phone this morning to find that it was talking so fast
I could not understand it! After a lot of playing around I found the
following tip and links to voice commands that help!
Start voice command
1. On your device, one-finger swipe right then up.
2. Listen for the confirmation sound.
3. Speak your command.
To slow the voice rate say:-
"Decrease speech rate"
Had to do this several times to get the rate down and had to repeat the
command a few times as it was not always recognised.
There is a list of other voice commands in the link below:-
List of Talkback voice commands
Just installed BRLTTY on my Samsung S21 and connected it to my Alva Satellite
braille display and it works! going to make reading those one time pass codes
from the banks and building societies so much easier. It was simple to install
if you folow the instructions and needless to say it's free.
So now I can be doing work on my PC via the serial connection to my display
and then switch to the USB connected to my smart phone to read the OTP.
Last week I took delivery of a new DVD/Blu ray player, the LG UBK90 hoping that
I could take better advantage of its facilities via the Magic remote for my LG
tv. Connection was not to difficult and certainly my TV now sees the
player as a connection to my TV but is not reading the menus. More investigation
to come soon but meanwhile it does work and sounds good.
Working on my Soundscape project recently and came a cross a device that plays
various sounds which are supposed to help ease the effects of Tinnitus,
needless to say there is a price attached to it and really all it does is loop
a couple of sound clips of things like birds, waves etc. This got me thinking
that maybe the Soundscape project might help sufferers too; so if you know of
anyone who suffers from Tinnitus why not mention it to them and remember it
For help and support with Tinnitus take a look at:-
British tinnitus association
The Soundscape project
Pleased to say that with the release of BRLTTY 6.4.1 the problems I have had
with my braille display not starting automatically have gone so I would
strongly recommend updating your BRLTTY software.
At the start of 2022 both these products are still going from strength to
strength and are still free! as always please do make a donation to the
projects if you use them regularly.
I've found a solution to the problems I was having with version 6.4 of BRLTTY
not starting properly with NVDA, this is to start NVDA; press the 'Windows' key
and type 'BRLTTY' and press enter (shows BRLTTY message); now restart NVDA by
pressing the NVDA' key (Zero on the numeric pad) + Ctrl + Alte keys; all
should spring into life!
This may seem a little messy but it means my old Alva terminals, some of which
are over 20 years old' still work fine.
Lets hope 2022 will see things get back to something like normal after close on
2 years of Covid.
I'm looking forward to being able to invite people back to the garden railway
and to hopefully get back to travelling to see friends.
Did you know that there are some full length audio books on YouTube? me
Whilst playing with YouTube on my LG Smart TV I tried a few searches for
various things and up popped a list of full length audio books from a range
of writers read in many cases by professional actors. A really nice feature
is that when you pause or stop the playback next time you return it remembers
the place - well worth a look.
Just had my Covid booster jab so can hopefully enjoy Christmas as safely as
possible. Still amazes me how so few people are wearing masks when in busy
Just over two months since my Samsung galaxy s21 arrived I thought I'd give
a brief update on how I find the phone, keep in mind here that I'm using the
Talkback screen reader so sighted users may have a different experience.
I have to confess that up until the last week or so I was not that impressed
with it compared with my previous S9, the bvoice feedback was sloppy to the
degree that I thought that the screen may be faulty but after the phone updated
to Android 12 and dozens of simller updates on various apps it now does seem
a lot better and useable. Don't forget that these updates have to be chased
down from both the Google play store and the Galaxy store.
Strikes me that the accessibility side of things is not seriously tested by
Samsung before release, a similar level of testing for the main market
audiance would see a large number of phones returned for a refund.
My mobile phone updated itself to Android 12 this morning. After several
minutes and grinding away it announced all done successfully! Can I spot any
difference yet? well I have to say not really - the notes suggst that there
are some visual benefits regarding colour setting and needless to say many
security upgrades. Watch this page for comments on anything I find out useful
over the next few weeks! Now for some YouTube watching to find what others
After close on to two weeks work on my collection of web pages I think we are
back up and running! Hopefully you will notice and benefit from the addition
of colour and various other bits I've cleaned up along the way. Please let me
know if you find a fault.
Starting to work through all the pages I have created adding some colour and
checking the contents too. I have removed the size adjustments from the top
of each page as all the main browsers have this facility built into them now.
Microsoft are now beginning to release Windows 11 to the world but don't get
to excited just yet! When I heard the news I went to Windows update to look
for the PC health check tool to see if I could update my computers.
I've Checked all 4 machines now and none will accept the upgrade as they are
missing a specific hardware item which the latest version of Windows relies
on for it's updated security.
Don't panic if your equipment says you cant update as Windows 10 support will
continue until October 2025 which should be around the end life span of most
I do agree with Microsofts stance here as it must be impossible to support all
old equipment without holding back the full benefits of modern chips etc.
As for me I might be tempted to find a new computer that will support 11 as
I do like to keep up to speed with technology - watch this space and if you
are happy with Windows 10 there are some computer bargains to be found on
the second hand market!
After shopping round and a lot of head scratching I finally updated my mobile
to a Samsung galaxy S21, the model selected is 5g ready and has 256Gb of
internal memory - the contract I selected works out at £40 a month which
includes all calls, texts and data. You really do need to spend time looking
round for the best mobile deals, in my case it was £17 a month cheaper to get
the phone via the EE web site than to ring them direct - what an advert for
a phone company!
The thinking behind the upgrade was to ensure the latest features would be
available for any of my various accessibility apps such as Google's Lookout and
When it comes to selecting a new mobile phone contract everybody will already
know it's mind boggling to pick one from the thousands that are available.
There may be many web sites that show lists of these and suggest they will
give you the best deal etc. but when it comes down to it you just have to
spend hours on google to search the right one down.
To get to the point and highlight how you can save lots of money I wanted to
point out my recent hunt for a new contract with EE to include a Samsung S21
with unlimited minutes, texts and between 100gb and unlimited 5g data:-
- Firstly I rang EE direct and was advised that the best they could offer
as an upgrade would cost me £57 a month with unlimited data;
- I rang Affordable mobiles where I got my last contract from and they said £55
but only 100gb data;
- Finally via Google I found that EE were offering exactly what I wanted
for £40.50 + a one off payment of £30 for the handset if I order via the web
So I ordered via the web page thus saving me around £354 over the durration
of the contract. The EE representative on the phone did not advise that
it would be so much cheaper via the web site - and this from a 'Phone' company!
Is this close to fraud/scam? I think so....
Not that I'm a big TV viewer but recently my eye was taken by a YouTube clip
of a LG smart TV with voice feedback which appeared to offer accessible control
of many of the features of the TV - so I got one!
The system appears to work along the same lines of TalkBack on android smart
phones - might well do a separate page for this but for the time being useful
things to say to get the system up and running are:-
* Audio guidance on/off
* Audio description on/off
So far I've changed channels, changed inputs, gone and search YouTube plus
a number of other things successfully purely by voice.
To get the system to listen to you press the button to the right and slightly
down from the button marked with a minus sign - hold the button down and say
your command i.e. 'Audio guidance on' - now release the button and keep
your fingers crossed!
There are several smart phone apps that support the TV but there are loads of
unlabelled graphics so no luck there. I'll be emailing LG with comments after
I've been playing for a week or so to give it a fair chance.
watch this space for more details and general comments.
Is it just me or do people find it annoying and somewhat worrying when business
websites are not willing to clearly provide an address or phone number?
The lack of full contact details puts me off using such companies as I feel
that they don't trust their own product or abilities to provide a service. Also
if there are further details of a product you require a string of emails starts,
plus consider that not all web pages are accessible to some computer users
so this lack of contact could actually be a form of discrimination.
So if you feel the same let's stop using such businesses and where possible
drop them an email to let them know that they have lost your business in the
Been meaning to upgrade my desktop computers for months now and following a
software problem have now installed SSD drives in my Acer desktop units.
No big problems with doing this although it does show some gaps in my backup
methods! nothing lost but it's going to take a while to get everything back to
a condition that I really like. As always I'd strongly recommend that most people
should in this day and age have at least two working computers so if disaster
hits you have got a stable fallback machine.
Over the last 8 years or so my good friend Eamonn MacNeill has been working on
his blog pages in which he shares his love and Appreciation of a vast range of
acoustic music artists he has discovered.
In the last year or so I've been working with Eamonn to build a database of
these artists. The result of our work is now taking shape. The database
provides various searches and links to Eamonn's blog reviews, the artists home
pages and YouTube clips of the artists themselves.
Please do take a few minutes to have a look and listen, there is a random play
feature which is a good way to start enjoying the site and what it has to
With some time on my hands I've been taking a closer look at some software apps
for my Android phone that help to identify objects and read text which does
make my life a lot easier. The most outstanding so far is a Google product
called Lookout which makes an amazing go at reading labels from food packaging,
reading text and describing your environment.
The new page is still very rough but worth keeping an eye on it, why not take a
quick look and let me know what you think:-
For those of us with problems with vision this android app may be of interest.
Using your phones camera it will try to describe items, read text and most
impressive of all is it's stunning ability to identify labels on tins, bottles
As a regular user of Ebay I can't be the only person who gets very fustrated by
the lack of a good description of the item I'm looking at and may want to buy.
I've found like others I've spoken to about this that they are put off buying
items, especially if they are of a high price, if the description given if not
full and exact - would you purchase a new car without knowing the engine size?
So a call out to all Ebay sellers - please, please do include a full
description of your products - length, height, weight, material - you will see
so much more if you do!
For those interested in technology it may interest you to take a quick look at
the article below which outlines the new technologies that are heading our way
in the next few years in the field of battery design - it suggests the cars will
be able to go for hundreds of miles on a single chage and that the charging
time will drop to minutes rather than hours - read on and be impressed!
Libre office is an open source alternative to Microsoft office offering a full
range of facilities including word processing, spread sheets, database, drawing
tools and more - it has now taken over from Open office.
The big advantage to Libre office apart from it being in many ways better than
the Microsoft product is it's free but needless to say donations to keep the
project going are always welcome.
I now use Libre office exclusiely on all my machines and find it just as good
as the Microsoft product and I'm told by those in the know that in many
cases it's actually better!
Really worth taking a look and giving it a go.
A really brilliant series of podcasts featuring a range of folk artists chatting about their music from their home area. A very high standard of
production that makes for an extremely pleasent and informative listen.
It's now been well over three year since I removed the Jaws screen reader from all
my computers and replaced it with NVDA. This is not to say that Jaws is not
a good product in its own way but for me NVDA is just as good infact I found
it more responsive, less invasive to the machine and of course free with no
annual upgrade fees. I would strongly recommend anyone who needs a screen
reader to check NVDA before anything else and of course if you wish to use
braille too then there is BRLTTY which supports loads more displays than Jaws
in both 32 and 64 bit operation.
NVDA and BRLTTY are the two items of software on my computer which allow me
to access what appears on the screen. NVDA is a screen reader which converts
what appears on my screen into spoken word (excluding most images) and BRLTTY
converts the text on the screen into braille on an electronic display.
Why have both I hear you ask? well for long items of textual material having it
read to me I find easier where as if I am coding or reading something technical
having the ability to have the text at my finger tips in Braille seems to work
better for me.
The latest versions of these products for windows PC's at the moment are:-
Both can be downloaded free of charge. I would strongly recommend that any
person requiring access software try these products before buying anything, I
find them as good if not better than some comercial products costing huge
amounts of money.
Another toy for my guitars arrives, this time it's another effects pedal which
controls reverb and echo. The Ammoon PockVerb is a strongly made unit which
provides a range of excellent reverbs and echo effects, like the idea that
once the levels are set you can lock the pedal so hitting the controls by
mistake will not make the sound go crazy!
Would strongly recommend taking a look at Ammoon gear when looking for effects
as they appear well made and come at a good price.
This week I lost a very good friend to cancer, Tom Cunliffe who I first met
when working in Hastings 30 years ago lost his battle with cancer last
week. Tom was always very supportive to me in many ways especially when it
came to music, a excellent guitarist and mandolin player he gave me the push
I needed to keep playing and to try new things.
In the YouTube link above you can see him performing one of his own songs which
is, in my mind, brilliant and is part of a lovely legacy - please do give it a
listen and also please do search for his many other musical clips on YouTube.
Something really new in the access technology market for once, the Canute
braille display from Bristol Braille.
This device has 360 cells, yes you read that correctly, 360 cells - 9 lines
of 40 allowing the user to make better use of tables and diagrams and giving
the feel of reading a real braille book. How much will this set me back I hear
you ask? well it appears around "2,000 so certainly worth keeping an eye on
and finding out more about the product.
Please see the Bristol Braille site for more details:-
Bristol Baille Canute 360
The end of March 2020 sees the end of the Overdrive talking book service from
the RNIB and the introduction of their replacement in the shape of the reading
services site. If you are an existing Overdrive user you will need to visit
the new site and register again to take advantage of the new service which
offers the usual wide range of audio books and now Ebraille books.
Audio books are supplied in Daisy format and can be read via many dedicated
players and software applications for PC, smart phone and tablets.
I've used the service a few times now and although a bit clunky at first I've
got my books onto my Samsung smart phone and used the Kota reader app very
To find out more about the new service take a look at the following link:-
RNIB reading services
A couple of new items for my guitars arrived in the last week or so both made
First is a looper pedal which grabs the sound from your guitar and plays it
back in a loop, once you have the loop going you can either play your guitar
over the top live or add more layers. A really solid little unit that I'm
going to have a lot of fun with I suspect.
Second is a wireless transmittor/receiver which replaces the need for a lead
between the guitar and amplifier, not as solidly made as the pedal but I
suspect weight would be an issue here, anyway it was simple to set up and works
really well and a very good price for the system.
I'd really recommend checking Ammoon gear when looking for guitar effects.
Hot on the heels of me finding the Brave browser I've now been pointed in the
direction of yet another browser, this one is called Vivaldi. Vivaldi is not
only faster than most other browsers but offers a vast range of imformation
about what is going on on the page you are visiting - well worth taking
For screen reader users a tip with Vivaldi is to search for frames on the page
you visit, the first few lines displayed on the screen relate to Vivaldi
control and pages contents, gthe first frame is the page itself.
Have you ever heard of the Brave browser? me neither until a couple of days
ago! Only been using it for a couple of days but it already has impressed me
with it's amazing speed of loading large pages, other features are similar to
many other browsers and will take some getting use to but well worth a look
for the speed it offers.
When I'm not playing trains or working on the computer I love to pick up a
mandolin or guitar and spend some time making a lot of noise - some folks
actually say it sounds nice! Anyway in a moment of madness I decided to buy
myself a new amplifier, the Yamaha THR 30 II wireless. No point rattling on
about all the features as it would duplicate so much other stuff that is
already available, all I can add is that with a bit of work many, if not all,
of the features of the amp are accessible via the Android or Ios app that is
designed specifically for the amp. I have successfully managed to alter
effect settings and loaded/saved patches from my Samsung Galaxy S9 phone.
Have contacted Yamaha about the app and have pointed out some minor changes
that would help including further labelling of a few buttons.
I'll try to build a page specifically for the amp and it's features shortly.
A few more photos scattered around but mainly it's the layout that I've
tried to get better, hope it's worth the effort!
Over the last few weeks I've been playing with some soundscapes for my model
railway, during this work I needed to get some Tannoy messages for my station.
A few minutes on google came up with several sources but the one I'm using
to start with, it's a good voice and it's free, is supplied by Responsive
As many of you may know I dabble with guitars and mandolins with varying
degrees of success. One of the people that kindly spent hours trying to
teach me was a long standing friend of mine Phil Light who can be seen in the
following YouTube clip along with his keyboard player Andy Thomas performing
live in sussex.
Phil Light and Andy Thomas live in Sussex
Envision AI is available for both Android and Apple devices and provides text
reading and general description of environments for the visually impaired,
start the app, point your mobile camera at a document and press the start
reding button and away you go! There is a bar code reading facility and a hand
writing feature too. Well worth a try. Available from the google play store
or appple store.
The app is similar to Seeing AI provided by microsoft.
Google lens replaces the old Google Goggles application & is much, much better!
Go into the app, point the camera at an object & it makes a fare go at telling
you what it is; try pointing it at a DVD box, it gives you links to not only
the DVD itself but also (in many cases) links to the actors home pages etc.
Answers come back within a split second on my Galaxy s9 - do try it.
It's round to that time again when you work your way through thousands of deals
to find the next smart phone. I did look at a Huawei this time but decided to
stick with Samsung once more; there are so many devices out there that do a
very similar job. Had it for a week now & all is good, fast & with plenty of
Running Android 8.0 at the moment it is similar to previous phones but just
Have now loaded Google lens on it which is prooving to be very useful in
identifying items around the house, a very interesting bit of software that
will certainly grow over time - do try it.
Spotted an article in the paper today that took my eye & thought worth some
further investigation. If you find dragging your bags around when travelling
hard work there are now several companies that will do it for you. Generally
the service offered is a door to door transfer of your bags so no more having
to wait for check in or bagage reclaim at the airport. What does this cost?
I hear tyou ask, well in some cases quite cheap door to door UK looks to be
around £18.00 for up to 30KG & common destinations abroad can be as low as £34.
Take a look at sendmybag.com as an example & I'll add others when I find them
(suggestions for others welcome) they can be found on my ..
Whilst trying to find a fault on one of these pages I came across a very useful
tool provided by w3schools - the facility checks your HTML code against current
standards & provides a report containing erros & warnings - sorry to say mine
needed quite a bit of work! You can find the tool via google.
Only of interest for those of us using the NVDA screen reader is that there is
a minor update to the Vocaliser voice driver now available, version 3.0.13 can
now be downloaded. No obvious changes but I would presume a security or
stability fix so worth installing.
Due to several factors it has become necessary to change the hosting service
I use for my web sites, this should not cause any large problems but you will
need to check your bookmarks/favourites & any references you make to my sites
on your own pages.
Please update any bookmarks or references to these sites to the proper
addresses which are:-
* my personal web page
* The blatchington branch railway
If I get this right you should not notice any changes to this page accept they
should load faster. The move means rather than TalkTalk hosting the site it
has moved to GoDaddy servers which should also give me more facilities to
expand the functionality of the pages in the future.
Recently signed up for this relatively new way of getting your talking books
from the RNIB delivered direct to your computer or smart phone. For those with
a vision problem the service is free & allows access to thousands of audio
books covering a vast range of styles. Well worth a look - more later when
I've used the service for a while.
With Ebay's fees & prices seemingly on the increase I thought it was time to
take another look at Ebid. Certainly it does not have as many adverts but the
fees are less & there does not appear to be the 10% commision on selling.
Also if you are a person who is likely to sell a lot there is a 1 off fee
option of £49 for lifetime sellers, well worth a look.
A couple of things here, a few weeks ago I moved everything to do with my
garden railway to a new locaation which is:-
The old site will exist for a while longer but please do update any references
you may have to the new address.
Just as I got this in hand I got news that my home page will have to shift
too, if you reference it via www.martinmurdoch.me.uk there should be no snags
but if you use the old www.the-admiralty.homecall.co.uk it will vanish mid july!
Please check your bookmarks or re-bookmark my home page to the new web address
Any problems please drop me a message!
If you have ever had any problems with an Ebay transaction & needed to contact
them directly you may have had a lot of trouble doing so!
You would think that an internet company would have a good email hot line, NO
they don't; they would have excellent social media facilities, NO they don't;
how about a good old fashioned letter then? why not try & find their address on
their web site ...
After a lot of research I came across the following details which you might
Ebay (UK) Ltd.,
1 Heron Square,
Ebay seller returns 0800 358 6551 for item returns
Contact eBay's London head office directly on their official
telephone number 0208 605 3000 to
Do pass these details onto your friends!
Thank heavens that I don't suffer from this problem but sadly my good friend
Marc Tiltman, who many of you might have come across if you have visited my
garden railway events, is not so lucky. To help spread the word & help people
find out about the problem we have started a new page which will contain various
items related to meniere's & hearing loss.
Well they may not be known for their low prices but their web site is a real
credit to the company being really easy to use with access software, after
my first visit I'd give it 95% on the access score - well done Ocado!
This version of the Firefox browser is faster than ever & gives smoother
performance to those using the NVDA screen reader, you may still find some minor
problems with larger pages such as Ebay but just give the page a second or
so to settle & all will be fine!
Not a great fan of this sort of support software as I feel mainstream products
should be accessible anyway but these might well be worth a look, the PDF &
radio player for example.
A new app that currently only runs on Windows smart phones and Iphones )Iphone
6 or better) but must surely come to Android soon is an offering from Microsoft
called "Seeing AI". It's not often a new bit of software gets me going but
this does, the YouTube clips & reviews show it reading labels, recognising
faces in a room, performing OCR on a document, reading bar codes in packets &
so on. This sounds like it could be a life changer for many of us who have a
visual problem. I strongly suggest you take a look at the YouTube clips & then
go to the Apple store & try it your self.
This shocked me somewhat! after reading a novel where 1 of the characters
downloads some software that created a spoof phone number to hide their real
number I took a quick look round & yes there is such a thing, this means youn
cannot trust what is shown on your caller ID even if it appears to be a friend
or a company you do business with. Sounds to me that the powers that be
could & should quickly close down this sort of facility to prevent fraud.
This android app provides details of your current location including street
name & number, location services & heading. It's very fast at picking up
these details & updates as you move. There are several of these programs
about such as "Where am i?" "Around me", "intersect explorer", all worth
One for musicians here, this free Fender application for Android or Iphone
provides an easy way to tune your guitar. For the more advanced guitarist
there are several different tunings available.
Recently needed to convert a PDF diagram to JPG so I could put it on my web
pages, a quick google search came up with this wonderful site called Zamzar,
just upload your file, tell it what format you want the output & give your
email address so they can send you the converted file - seconds later job done!
There are dozens of supported formats from documents to images, sound & video.
We held 3 public running weekends on the Blatchington branch railway this year,
hundreds of people over the 6 days enjoyed a ride round & helped us raise a
total of £1,872 - many thanks for your generosity.
Thanks to all who came along & an even bigger thanks to my friends for giving
up their time to help. All being well we will be doing it all again next year
so we look forward to seeing you then.
With a few minutes to spare on a recent rainy day I took a look at
YouTube to find some guitar lessons & came across James Devon, he has several
really good videos that cover a variety of styles. Each video breaks a tune or
style down into small reasonably easy to learn sections. Take a look at :-
James Devon official web pages
Or search fo him on YouTube. I might even be tempted to post a video of the
resulting noise I make!
Another update including more Braille support, more OCR functionality,
application support & loads more. Do give this screen reader some time
whether you need it due to low vision or you need to test your web sites
It looks like we might be getting some additional access support in soon to
be released versions of windows 10. The following link takes you to an article
that suggest that extra narrator functionality is on its way along with support
for many braille displays, the change to the Narrator hot key has already taken
effect for many.
New access features in windows 10
Managed to pick up a good priced second hand galaxy S7 a few days ago, for the
average user the main difference is speed of response & the fact it is running
Android 7. Once it has settled in I'll be trying to root my Galaxy s5 to
Android 7 to match.
Just added a few pictures to the various gallery pages on the site, they
include some steam punks who visited my railway & views of the area we visited
Following the success of the last open weekend on the railway we had a nice
little write up in the local paper & will hopefully be appearing in
Miniature railway magazine shortly.
The branch in the media
Back home now from a week spent in Corfu, good food, wine & lots of sunshine
plus good company - who could want for more?
Now I've got to get on with getting the garden railway ready for the next open
weekend which is on 1 & 2 July, see my railway pages for full details.
It's with great sadness I have to report the death of my good friend Michael
Gold this week. I have known Michael for many years starting with his work with
me & a digital catalogue of audio recordings which, with Mikes help, I was
able to circulate to many computer users who have visual problems that made
print versions inaccessable. Over the many years I have known Michael he
became a good friend with a character larger than life, he'll be sadley missed
by so many people.
Finally got round to installing the 64 bit version of Firefox on my machines,
so far so good. Seems to be faster & have not spotted problems with using it
yet although I had very few plugins etc. added to my system.
Not a joke, there really is whisky from Wales & its very good too! tried a
glass of Penderyn last night which has a really good flavour & an excellent
finish. Next I suppose I'll have to try English whisky, yes it is produced in
this country with around 6 distilleries in operation. See the above link for
more links to distilleries round the UK.
For those of you currently on DLA you might find the above link of interest,
it's a very strange & scarey process for many, people being told that you cant
be blind as you are looking at them etc. & they are the experts assessing you
for the benefit! Don't panic though, many claims are successful.
Very sad news today, Trent my third guide dog passed away, such a lovely dog
who will be missed not only by me but also the hundreds of people who met him
when visiting my garden railway and in various other places when we were on our
Tonights the night when many a scot will be filling their faces with Haggis & a
good single malt whilst remembering the works of Robert Burns from whoes poems &
songs many a line is widely known. do take a look at the link above to find
out more about this amazing poet.
After 3 hard years my good friend Marc Tiltman has finally published his first
book on Kindle. You will need to sit back & get your bet thinking brain out
for this book as it is one hell of a subject! By the nature of the topic there
will be differing opinions on what he says but it will certainly get you
thinking. I really wish I could muster the dedication needed to do work like
Sadly my last HiFi amplifier decided to stop working recently so after
considering it's age & developments in technology in this field I decided to
buy a replacement rather than have it repaired. I settled on a Yamaha RX-V681
which was similar in function & power to my last Yamaha but had the benefit of
HDMI inputs & the ability to control it from an application on my mobile phone
which of course "talks" to me allowing me to access many of the features which
otherwise would be inaccessable. Rather than go on here I think I'm going to
start a new HiFi & audio page which can detail my other equipments features so
watch this space.
Over the last few days we have removed a diseased elm tree from my front
garden, it feels so empty with it gone so I'm looking for a replacement. While
I'm at it it's intended to add a bit of a stream, another pond & waterfall in
the area now that I have the space - lets hope for a mild autumn so I can make
headway with the work.
Strickly for the blind this one, just found an Android app that turns your
device into a light detector, Free motion on the google app store gives more
than just a bleep when the phone is pointed at a light source it can also give
a spoken light level indication.
I've now finished the process of updating all my machines to the latest version
of windows 10, it is a massive update taking an hour or so on each machine so
make sure you dont want to use yours in a hurry when you do this!
There are several articles about the effect of the update which can be found
with a quick google search.
Cortana's facilities are widely mentioned in the upgrade reviews including
the fact it is now on Android which allows you to sync between desktop &
For the geaks there is now the beginnings of a linux shell, I've had a play
with it briefly, quite nice to have the Vi editor to hand plus some of the
other linux facilities.
A few behind the scenes alterations to keep these pages up to standard, I'm
including a new metadata tag which should make things bigger & better laid out
on mobile devices jplus introduced the use of 'audio' & 'video' tags for multi
media bits. Please let me know if they cause any problems for you.
Purchased a TV tuner card recently as I was having problems with myh existing
hardware. The August USB device came with Total media software which is
totally inaccessible so I looked round & found Dvbviewer. Took a few seconds
to figure out the tuning but now up & running fine - more to follow when I've
had a chance to play more.
Finally arrived is this upgrade to Android, nothing amazing to see so far.
Whilst looking at building sound scapes for my model railway I came across
some HTML5 audio & video tags that I can use on these pages which will bring
them up to date with latest standards, please let me know if they cause you any
Worth a mention here I think is the last public running weekend of my 5 inch
gauge garden railway which was not only good fun but raised £516.58 for
Sussex search & rescue. If you fancy taking a look at the trains why not come
along on either 2 & 3 of July or 10 & 11 September - details on the railway
For all of you using Android devices with speech watch outy for the latest
update to the included screen reader called Talkback. Nothing strikes me as
a big step yet but all seems that bit faster & smoother in operation, there's
still the bug where if you use the function to reduce audio playback volume
when Talkback is speaking google voice search will not work.
Found out a few days ago that sadly my brother-in-law, Len Ralph, died a few
days ago after a long battle with kidney problems. Seems so unfair that
someone only makes it to their early sixties.
Although it's not much of a screen reader the basic functions provided by
Microsoft's Narrator should not be overlooked or forgotten. It can be very
useful when you need to update or repair your existing screenreading software.
To start or stop Narrator hold down the windows key & press enter.
Went to my good friend Mike gold's 50th a few days ago & Jan managed to catch
this picture of St. Pauls church Chigwell - hope you like it.
On a recent trip to the west country I was playing with my Galaxy S5 & tried
out an app called 'Where am I?' it is a GPS utility that tries to give you the
nearest address to your current location. When on foot it seems to give you a
house number within a couple of doors of your location, on the train it was
giving me details of towns & streets that were wisking by! wll worth taking a
look - it's available on the Google app store & is donation ware.
The 5 & 6 of September will see my garden railway open to the public again,
trains will run from around 11:00 till 17:00 on both days. Tickets cost 50p
with funds going to help the Kent, Surrey & Sussex air ambulance, do come along
& take a look - there's plent of tea, coffee & cakes too.
Still early days but I've now got Windows 10 running on my 3 machines & all
looks OK so far. Only 3 issues to report so far:-
1 - The new Edge browser does not appear to want to play with the NVDA screen
reader yet, I mainly use Firefox so not a problem.
2 - Windows media centre has vanished for good so I'm looking for alternative
software to use with my TV tuner card, probably Wintv.
3 - There are a limited number of date & time formats for the UK.
So all told I'm impressed with what I have experienced & unless anything major
goes wrong I'll be droppping all previous versions of windows.
NV Access who produce NVDA are planning to release a new version at the end of
August which willinclude improvements for Windows 10, if you fancy trying out
a beta version go to:-
NVDA & windows 10
I'd think a lot of software houses must be breathing a sigh of relief & hoping
that all Windows 7 & 8 users will take the jump to 10 so that they can drop
support for many legacy systems especially as Windows XP has now been dropped
Like many others who had registered for the automatic upgrade to windows 10 I
did not realise it had failed & so had to download the installation software
direct to my machines, after doing this it was more or less straight forward.
A word of caution to those using screen readers, the installation does require
some sighted assistance & asked me to unload Jaws from the system, it reports
that NVDA is not compatible with Windows 10 but ignore this as I'm updating
this page using NVDA with no problems.
Use the following link to get to a direct download of Windows 10, read down
the page until you find the bit about creating a version for installing on
Windows 10 download tool
Rained all day so managed to spend some time on the computer scanning in a few
dozen more photos, I've now split the gallery pages into several sections to
make them easier to manage & navigate, still hundreds of old photos & 35mm
slides to add when i get the time.
After another round of nuisance phone calls I got my act together & found that
Talktalk offer a free 'last number blocking' service, this means that after
you receive a call you can tap in a number on your phone & that last number
will not be able to contact you again until you release the block. Talktalk
customers must add the service via the web site and then after the nuisance
call has been received dial 14258 on their phone. This service combined with
the ability to block with held numbers stops the majority of those advertising
& market research calls.
Playing with the google voice search on my phone a couple of days ago & asked
"When is the next bus to Eastbourne?" in a second it came back with the bus
number, nearest bus stop & time - give it a try for your local service.
My railway was open again last weekend 11 & 12 July, it gave people the chance
to admire the hard work of Marc Tiltman & myself on the waterfalls & our
efforts on the garden as well as the trains. Apart from a bit of rain all
went well all seeming to enjoy themselves & helping us to get £120 for
charity. The next open weekend will be on 5 & 6 September when we will be
raising funds for the Kent, Surrey & Sussex air ambulance, keep your eyes on
the railway pages for details.
The release of Windows 10 is getting closer & still no shouts of "it's
rubbish!", I've signed up for the free upgrade & feel that I'll update 2
out of my 3 machines just leaving 1 at windos 7 until things are confirmed
stable. My only worry at this stage is that there are supposed to be 7
versions of the operating system, 99% of us average users will probably just
go to the home premium release & not need to do any thinking but it does seem
a little over the top.
Have now split the photo gallery into several pages as the number of photos is
rapidly increasing. Scanned groups of 4 photos in as a single collage & added
a function to enable these to be displayed. As always please do let me know
if any pictures are not displaying properly.
Please do let me know if you spot any errors on these pages. Each time I edit
any part of this site I do tend to spot something wrong, it's usually minor but
I really do try to get it right & there's now so much it' easy to miss things.
Still in Beta but demonstrated on YouTube Soundhounds entering the voice
recognition market along side Google, Siri & Windows Contana & it looks very
good indeed. Do take a look at the Youtube clips which can be found by
searching for "Hound voice recognition" - yet another Star Trek type feature
that is coming true, gone are the days where you needed to spendhours teaching
your computer what your voice sounded like this works out of the box.
Now working again on this page after a break, been trying to do some nifty
coding to make it a bit more flashy but no luck so back to the drawing board.
Meanwhile I'll fill in some of the news I missed over the last couple of months!
Not only do I have a 5 inch gauge garden railway but I also have an N gauge
layout in the house. 2 of the locos have been away to Wickness models for
servicing & upgrades & have now returned better than ever - the addition of
sound to these tiny engines really makes a difference.
If you are a Talktalk customer I strongly recommend you take alook at the
Talk2go app which they are currently offering for free. The app allows you
to answer your landline calls on your mobile & to call from your mobile via
your landline phone. The app is simple to set up & from my limited use so far
works very well.
To explian a little further, if your mobile is in a WiFi spot or receiving
mobile data you can receive & send calls from your handset as if you were using
your home phone, the call will be charged as if you are using your home phone
no matter where you are in the world (don't forget your mobile data charges
especially if you are overseas).
Got my Galaxy s3 back from Music Magpie after they changed their mind or their
original offer, the device was perfect with non of the faults they mentioned.
I've forwarded the emails & photos to my local trading standards as as far as
I can see the Music Mapie operation is a complete con, I suppose what they do
is offer the high price to get you in & then hope you will take the lower price
rather than fiddle around taking your item back.
A few days ago I sent off my old Galaxy S3 to Music Magpie as they were
offering a very good price. This morning I receive an email from them saying
the goods are not as described & offering half the price! I've asked them to
return the item & refused their lower offer - I'll be interested to see what
comes back. A lesson here, make sure you photograph any items you send them.
I'll post again when the item returns.
In a moment of madness & some sifting round the net for prices I decided to
change round my mobiles, I managed to get a good price for my old Galaxy s3 via
Music magpie & spotted the Galaxy s5 for £295 on Ebay. Still setting up
the S5, it's more or less like the S4 with a few updates & additions such as a
16Mp camera, a slightly larger screen, takes larger memory cards up to 128Gb &
has a 3.5mm microphone socket for better audio recording. More reports here &
on my Android pages as I come across features/problems.
After a long wait android 5 has just arrived on my Galaxy s4. It is a large
download so does take a long time to install - don't give up on it. I'll
tell more when I've had a chance to play with it.
Following the failure of 1 of my Acer x3812 units I decided to buy a new
machine & make use of any parts from the failed unit, the first stage of this
has now happened as I've now transfered the memory chips to my remaining X3812
giving 8Gb of memory. Next is to buy a caddy for the hard disc and CD rom
Spent a few more minutes on the gallery page, hopefully all images should now
2 larger photos to appear on 1 line.
As 1 of my existing Acer machines was beginning to give problems I decided that
it was time to get another. I went for an Acer XC-605 with core I5 processor,
8Gb memory & a massive 2Tb hard drive plus all the usual other stuff. This
machine gives me my first chance to look at Windows 8.1, lots to learn here!
Just brought to my attention is the Docmail service which allows you to have
your documents remotely printed, put in an envelope & posted via Royal mail
at less cost than it would be for you directly - sounds useful so trying
to find the catch! Anyone out there used it?
As I no longer have access to a Symbian phone & it seems support for the
operating system is reducing I have stopped making any attempt to check these
pages for accessibility on these devices. If I come across any tging I think
might be of interest regarding the Symbian system I'll mention it on this page
& add to my Nokia phones pages.
Not much to say on this yet but what I've heard so far seems quite positive,
this version of windows hopes to pull together a wide range of devices under
a single operating system from desktop PC's to mobile phones - NVDA screen
reader already seems to offer a considerable degree of access even though the
product is not even in Beta release & does not appear to be going to hit the
shops until the latter end of 2015.
Over the last few months I have received several emails containing links, when
I click on these links Windows live mail seems to add extra HTML & push the
result into Internet Explorer rather than my default browse Firefox. I spent
several hours trying to track down the answer to this problem & finally gave
up & installed Mozilla Thunderbird which does not give the same error. It's
going to take a few days to get my head round all of Thunderbird but it
has the feel of Firefox so I think I'll be dropping yet another Microsoft
product. Meanwhile if anyone out there has the answer to the link problem
please do drop me a message.
An update & a word of caution! The update is that I've gone for a sim only
contract & will buy my next phone direct, price difference is minimal really
but it means that you can get your hands on 12 month contracts rather than 24
& with a rapidly changing market I did not want to get locked in for 2 years.
The word of caution is beware of cheap looking 24 month contracts that give
you a refurbished phone, it is my understanding that all new Samsung & Nokia
phones (probably all main manufactures) come with a 24 month garantee where as
refurbished have only 12 months thus in a 24 month contract the second year
of the contract your phone is not covered & could therefore land you with
expensive repair bills if you are unlucky.
Picked up my mandolin a few days ago & took a look round YouTube to see if I
could find any lessons & yes there are loads! The one that really took my eye
though was by 'Mandolessons', there are around 70 lessons on this channel
each one consists of the tune being played at normal rate & then broken down
slowly into its individual sections - The Mandolessons web site is largely
accessible but if you are using a screen reader I suggest you use the site to
find which lesson you want & then search for it direct on Youtube - I'm
dropping a quick email about this to them.
Now coming to the end of my current mobile phone contract so looking to
upgrade. My target is to pay no more than a quid a day for my mobile, that
to include the hardware, minutes, text & data. I'm aiming to go for either
the Samsung galaxy s5 or s6 (when it is released later this year), after
studying many sites & talking direct to Orange/EE I've gone for a sim only
contract & will be buying the phone direct, sim only contracts have a big
advantage of only being 12 months rather than 24 & seem to have much bigger
allowances. At a rough guess I will save around 60Gbp over 24 months by
doing this, even more if I get the phone in a sale.
I've now had my Samsung s3 & s4 for close on 2 years so my current contract
is coming to an end, thus the search starts for the next contract. My
target is to pay no more than a quid a day which should include the price of
the phone & all minutes, texts & data that I might use. Lots of contracts
now include unlimited minutes & texts for a very low price, no big deal as
I suspect most of us do not come anywhere close to using what we have been
allocated anyway but when it comes to data lots of contracts have stupidly low
limits - anything under 1gb a month seems pointless (setting up your phone
out of the box could use all this before you can connect to Wifi).
One option is to buy the phone unlocked & get a sim only contract, this has
2 benefits, firstly the contract term tends to be shorter at 12 rather than
24 months & second the overall cost is lower - this seems to be the way to go
if you can afford the up front cost of the phone.
It's not very often I hear a song & think it really is worth a mention but my
good friend Tom Cunliffe has recently updated a youtube clip of him performing
one of his own songs which is, in my mind, brilliant - please do give it a
listen by clicking on the link above.
SCREAM! why oh why do people not include an audio challenge with these codes? I
know & completely understand why they are necessary but why not include an
audio challenge as well? This is one clear area where the disabled
disclimination act should be put into action & quickly. Could this, & should
this? be an area where the RNIB puts it's weight into action.
And lets have codes you can hear too, again I know they have to be a bit
scrambled to avoid voice recognition but some of them are over the top - came
across one that took another approach asking a question such as "what colour
is the red bus?", was simple & clear but I wonder if it is as secure.
Still playing with the layout of photos on these pages, just updated the
Following problems with space allocation from Talktalk I've now got 5Gb of
webspace with Byethost, had a snag with registration as there was a visual
verification code but a quick email got a very quick & helpful response in the
form of them setting things up for me - many thanks to Byethost support.
I've now started to port all photographs to the new space & if all is stable
other parts of the site will follow.
As always, please let me know if you spot a problem with the site at any time.
Whilst sniffing round the net I spotted how to centre my pictures on these
pages, so simple when I found it like most of these things, hope it makes it
all look much better.
Added a new combo box to this page which allows the reader to pick a news
type & jump quickly to the latest article related to it. Not sure how useful
this is going to be yet so feedback welcome.
Thanks to the hard work of Nicola Schwarz, Sabine Chapman & the team at the
Maidstone guide dog centre I'm now back on the road with my new dog Kraken.
We've just gone through 2 weeks of extremely intense training & am now more or
less on my own, the instructors are always on the other end of the phone if
things go wildly wrong but otherwise 'watchout there's a Marti & Kraken
He's settling into his new home well & Trent is beginning to get used to the
young dog, I'm having to make sure that everybody who drops in takes equal
notice of both dogs to avoid trouble.
Kraken, my new guide dog, has now been with me for a week & so far the training
is going very well. It's nice to see that Trent, my old dog, has settled with
the young monster & is now beginning to play with Kraken.
All the lights in my home are now 12v supplied via 2 batteries which
are charge by 3 X 250w solar panels on my roof. There are a couple of fittings
to clean up but otherwise all is now working well. The next stage is to
connect an inverter to the system so that I can run my central heating boiler
from the batteries & thus not be effected by any mains outages.
Only 1 week on from it's last visit to the phone shop my Samsung S4 is on it's
way back as it is once again totally dead - looks like the same problem as the
last 2 times so I'll be asking for a new phone this time.
Not the mythical sea monster this time but a 2 year old german shepherd who
hopefully is going to be my next guide dog. He was supposed to join me a
few weeks ago but had some health problems which hopefully are all behind him
now. Like with all guide dogs, if you see me in the area please do not touch
Kraken until I say you can, he is young & still learning so both the instructor
& myself will be working very hard to keep his mind on the job. Photos soon.
Different snag this time, could not upload pages to my web space. Had to make
a couple of lengthy phone calls to get it sorted - everybody I spoke to was
trying to be helpful but they are forced to follow scripts which getin the way
when it's slightly outside the normal events, anyway back to normal now for a while.
Might be worth a quick mention that my samsung S4 has now been away twice for
repair in the last couple of months, both times the phone had died completely
after it had overheated. On return of the device there was no mention of what
was wrong with it. There has been reference to this happening on other peoples
Samsungs but the company are keeping very quiet.
Sorry to everybody who had problems accessing this site a couple of days ago,
could not find out what happened but it looks like Talktalk had some snags
on their servers for an hour or so - all back to normal now.
My garden railway was open to the public last weekend, 6 & 7 September, the
trains were running for hours & by the end of the weekend all of us were
shattered. Our visitors seemed to enjoy themselves & in the process we
raised more than 250 for Hearing dogs for the deaf.
A huge thankyou to Jan Daynes, Andrew Lock, Marc Tiltman & John simcock for all
their help & to everybody who came along - see you next time.
Really this is always an on going feature but I'm currently updating & checking
many of the links on my useful links pages. Please do let me know of any
others I should add. Also reminds me to suggest that when you visit an online
retailer do see if they have directions to their shops by public transport.
We will be playing trains next weekend, 6 & 7 September, all welcome to take a
ride round & help us raise some funds for Hearing dogs. See my railway
pages for more details & directions.
Here I was all geared up to take on my new guide dog & at the 11th hour saddly
he had to be withdrawn as he has fallen ill - not sure of the scale of this as
he is under going tests to see what is the problem. Bad news for all,
there's myself wanting the dog, the dog not feeling well & of course the
trainers who have spent months getting the dog ready for me - watch this page
Earlier this week I had my first meeting with my new guide dog who has the
unusual name of Kraken - lets hope he really isn't a monster! Kraken
is a German shepherd, just under 2 years old he is full of life & is going
to keep myself & my retired dog Trent on our toes.
Received an email from Skype this morning stating that they are dropping
support for the Symbian operating system from their software within the next
few weeks, support for all other smart phones continues as normal. No reason
for this was given but I suppose it shows that the number of people using this
platform must now be minimal. Use the following link to Skype's home page for
Skype's home page
Really good news for once, just downloaded & installed Open office 4.1 & it
now works with NVDA. I gather that both developers made some alterations
so that it works out of the box so to speak - I gather that Open office is regarded
to be better than the Microsoft equivilent so after trials it will be Bye, Bye Mr Microsoft (hopefully).
2 items to report for solar power, first that on the 7 June the engine used on
my garden railway for my open day was solar powered - the loco ran for around
5 hours & although the battery was low by the end of the event it was all
solar! Secondly my house is now totally 12v lighting, by the end of June I
should have a farely good idea of how much this is taking off my electricity
In October 2013 I contacted the Sainsbury's shopping telephone support team to
point out problems with accessibility. Within a week or so they got back to me
saying they had identified the problem but owing to limits on spending the
error is not likely to be put right until January 2014. I wonder if there was
a problem that broke other laws whether they would say to the authorities that
we will put it right when we can afford it & whether those same authorities
would say "fine, do what you can, no rush!"
Following recent updates to the Sainsbury's online shopping site I'm sad to say
that there is no improvement - the site remains inaccessible & very cluttered.
Here's a clue Sainsbury's IT team - take a look at your "DIV" tags & ask
your checkout staff what Pagination means.
Over the weekend of 7 & 8 June 2014 I had my garden railway open to the public
again, we gave rides to over 150 passengers & many others just dropped in to
take a look & enjoy tea & cakes. A big thanks to all who came along & helped
to raise just over £250 for Riding for the disabled.
This was the first time the railway had been open for 2 years as I have had
considerable building work done on my house so there were a few problems but
If you find yourself having to get medication for your petsdid you know you can
ask your vet for a prescription? Vets will charge for this service but you can
still find you have saved a lot of money by getting the same product over the
internet, for example Cimalgex from my vet was around 58 Gbp but via one of the
online stores on the internet it cost me around 38 Gbp including the vets
prescription & this was for just 30 tablets.
I am a great fan of Ebay, for getting those odds & ends it was the best place to buy
but now you really do need to check your prices. Recently I was buying some bits for my model railway & went straight
to Ebay, the item was there at 11 quid - I thought this was high so
checked ona model railways shop web site & found the
same item at 9.50 Gbp, even taking into consideration the postage it
was still much cheaper direct form the shop.
Now that all the building work is complete on my house I've had time to
work on the garden railway & I am pleased to say that it is more or less up &
running - currently waiting for a delivery of ballast to bed in some final
track panels & then we should be good for a public running weekend - I'm hoping
for the last weekend in May or possibly a special on the 7 & 8 June to fit in
with theSeaford railway event - details to follow.
After a very long time I now have 2 X 250w panels on my roof & a third on its way. It is hoped that these panels will supply some if not all of the power for my house lighting & possibly enough to charge the batteries for my garden railway.
see my solar pages for more details & developments.
I now have an N gauge model railway equiped with DCC sound in the locomotives,
not a hobby for the blind you would think but with the addition of sound these
layouts come to life - I'm intending to work intensively on the soundscape to
bring the model to life - see my N gauge pages for more details.
Had a chance to play with a Chrome book at the beginning of March, for those
who have not come across them they are Googles version of a laptop - they
are cheaper than a windows machine, very light weight & above all fast, from
the pushing of the button to turn it on to showing the first web page is
around 7 seconds. Sadly access is not very polished yet - more to come shortly.
The first release of NVDA for 2014 is now available, nothing much to report so
far other than it continues to improve all the time - it's my main screen
reader now, I've not used Jaws for months now. Please do give it a try &
make a small donation if you findit useful.
in which he shares his
Appreciation of acoustic music - do give it a look & check some of the new
artists he has discovered.
Where do I start & what am I after? the start point is that whilst looking for
some new furniture I found a company that looked like they might have what
I wanted so I tried to find their showroom, yes the address is there &
directions by road but not a clue on how to find them via public transport.
I've come across this many times but it finally got to me! we are being told
that we should leave our cars behind to save the planet & then being told in
not so many words that you can't live without one.
I've contacted the company in question & asked them to add walking directions
lets see if they bother, I'll name them in a few days either way..
Now here comes your part, why not do the same, find your favourite shops &
venues & see if they give public transport directions etc., if not pester them!
Just downloaded & installed the latest version of NVDA, please do give it
a try whether you are a blind user or a web developer looking to test your
pages - remember accessibility is a legal requirement to consider.
A new search engine provider has appeared & it might just do some damage to
googles hold on the market. Duckduckgo says they do not have any adverts & they
make no attempt to track what you are up to - I have tried it a few times &
it seems to be cleaner &quicker than google - give it a go!
My first real problem with the Talktalk service, after many years of using
their webspace they decided to reduce my allocated space by 50% & did not bother
to tell me before hand!
I've had to push a few things around to other spaces but it should soon all be
back, let me know if any photos are missing please.
After the success of my Galaxy s3 I took the jump & went for a s4 as well! as I
now do so much on my phone I thought that a backup device was now vital.
Although very similar to the s3 the s4 has some extra features & power that
I will fully describe on my Android pages. 2 really exciting apps that come
straight to mind are the infrared remote control, I can now control my TV from
a distance & know what I'm watching, secondly the language translator which
allows you to speak into your phone which then translates into one of 9
different languages - lots to play with here!
the latest release of the free NVDA screen reading software is now available
from NV Access for anyone to download.
Highlights of this release include a more intuitive & consistent laptop
keyboard layout; basic support for Microsoft PowerPoint; support for long
descriptions in web browsers; & support for input of computer braille for
braille displays which have a braille keyboard.
NVDA is used by 10s of thousands of blind & vision impaired people spanning
more than 120 countries, enabling them to socialize, get an education, &
participate in the workforce -- things that may not have been possible
previously for those who could not afford other expensive screen reading
NV access have just launched their new, improved website at:-
It has been revamped to better tell their story, in order to raise much needed
funds to keep NVDA going. nvaccess.org will be the central online presence for
NV Access & NVDA now. It brings together content from our previous websites in
a much more streamlined way. You can download NVDA at nvaccess.org/download
from now on. & to access development, translation & other community related
content you can follow the "community" link in the footer. This link will take
you to http://community.nvda-project.org/
On the home page of the new website you will be able to play a video called
"Our Mission", which tells the NVDA story. it would really be appreciated
if you could share a link to this video with your friends & family, letting
them know how NVDA has helped you, & telling them that donations will help
them to keep NVDA going. Any donation, big or small, makes a difference to
us & we thank you in advance. Of course, if you know any companies who might
be in a position to sponsor NVDA, definitely pass the video link on & have
them get in touch with NV access.
A minor upgrade to the Android screen reader has been released, can't spot
any major changes but it's always worth keeping this sort of product right
up to date.
Ignore the date for this entry! I'm not much good with documentation & the
amendment history of this site will verify that! but I'm going to have another
go & see if I can catch up a bit. Whether this will make any difference to
the quality of these pages is yet to be seen.
As visitors to this site will know I like playing trains, I've got the 5 inch
gauge line right round the house & an N gauge layout indoors. For several
years now the tiny N gauge trains have been left alone but my interest has been
aroused by the introduction of sound chips to this size of model railway. I'm
hoping that I can create a sound scape as well as a tactile model to enjoy.
Within the last couple of days I've downloaded & installed Microsoft's
IE10 - so far it appears a little faster but other than that not spotted any
differences, I would presume that security & other hidden aspects have been
upgraded so it's well worth while updating your copy.
Long story but in short I had my attention drawn to a recent vet bill which
included a item called Seraquin which is a diet supplement for older dogs,
the price on the invoice was £41 - a quick check on the internet showed
that I could have ordered the same product by post for £15! now I know a
vet is there to make a profit but nearly three times the price seems more
than necessary. The point of this then is if your vet suggests tablets,
creams, or special food do check the price on the internet first & in some
cases you will save a fortune, obviously certain drugs can only be obtained
via a qualified vet but many others can be legally purchased direct.
An update to Talkback, the screen reader for Android, has just installed itself
on my Galaxy & I would suspect will be heading to all Android devices. Not
quite sure what the changes are yet as I am still new to Talkback but it does
seem to be running that bit smoother - more to follow.
After loads of consideration I decided to try moving away from Nokia symbian
phones onto an Android device. My last phone, the Nokia N8, was my first
touch screen device & I have to report I did not get on very well with it, many
of its features being very tricky to use - even the last version of the talks
software only helped a little. I'll be keeping the unit as a backup & may well
still use the camera.
Although I've only had the Samsung for a few days I'm already using more of the
features than I managed on the Nokia - it's still a learning curve & some
aspects of use are a little vague but I feel it will be a vast improvement.
See my Android pages for further details.
Whilst looking at the thousands of apps available on my Nexus I came across
Winamp which I installed - this must be one of the longest running bits of
software out there & it still does the job although it does need a couple
of buttons labelled to make it work properly on the android version.
Just loaded this onto my nexus & it works like a treat! also nice for the PC -
offering access to around 70,000 radio stations round the world selectable
by region or content.
Had my tablet for a month now so thought I'd post a little update on how I'm
getting on - Well I have to say it's been a struggle & somewhat disappointing.
There have been several software & firmware updates since the purchase which
I hoped would clear up matters - things are improving a bit but still far from
what I hoped for, for a start these pages would not load at all until I
installed firefox - chrome will still not touch them, finding icons does take
a lot of practice & at times is very frustrating. Use the link above to
read more detailed notes as I draft them over the next few weeks.
I thought it would be worth the extra £5 a month on my Talktalk bill to
get any benefits this extra speed will give. My speed tests have shown an
increase from 10mbs to 30mbs (Approx). Needless to say since installation
I've not had the need to download anything large, infact the updates of these
pages will be the first items I'll be able to monitor properly.
If you are thinking of updating one little point, you will need to have a spare
mains plug socket free near your main telephone point as in addition to your
new router you will also get a furter box which appears to convert the
incoming signal to something the router can understand.
Just received news that one of the mailing lists that covers Nuance talks
for Symbian is closing, so if you follow the free lists talks mailing
list you will need to register with the international Talks users list
to be found at the link above.
We must presume that the lack of traffic on these lists is due to the increased
use of Android & apple devices - is there any future in symbian? is windows
mobile a possibility? will support for touch screens become as stable as it
is for PC's? lots of questions but no answers yet!
Just arrived is the latest version of Nuance talks for Symbian mobile phones,
had a very quick look & it seems to be a bit better and more responsive on my
Nokia N8 - more later.
I've not gone for the massive solar farm job yet, I'm starting with 2 panels
with supporting gear which I hope will be enough to charge the batteries of
my railway engines & by doing so provide a supply that will be able to act
as a battery backup for my gas boiler & just maybe enough to power my house
lighting loop. Much to say here so I hope to create a new solar page
specifically on this subject.
Heard so much about Android so I thought it was about time to have a play, I've
just picked up the latest Google Nexus 32GB tablet & am starting the struggle
to come to grips with a new talking device.
First part of the learning curve is to hit Youtube & Google for documentation
& loads of hints on how to use the access software which comes pre loaded but
not activated - it's going to take a while to come to grips with it so wtch
So nice to see the sun! six days in Fira on the island of Santorini was just
what I needed after the summer.
Santorini is a real mix of history & sunshine holiday location, managed to
struggled to the top of the still active volcano, visited the settlement of
Akrotiri which was discovered after 3500 years hidden under the ash of the last
massive volcanic arruption that hit the island.
Taken the chance to scan in a few more pictures of the family & add them to the
gallery - loads more to do yet!
An internet radio station run by the RNIB aimed at those with visual problems,
dropped in for a few seconds so far & it is all up & running
This is an amazing address search facility, type in your address & within a few
key presses you will be shown a picture of that address - not any use
for the blind but an amazing bit of software!
I've been playing with the java script that runs behind these pages again,
should be little visual change but should help to make things run a bit better &
some of the photos should look clearer.
Over the last few weeks I've been taking another look at Skype, the sound &
video quality is good, it's still free to use PC to PC but for those of us
using screen readers it has become cluttered.
In my travels round the net I have found 2 bits of software that help,
Skype talking & GW connect - I'll add details later but do take a look at them
Been playing with my photo gallery, adding some more photos of various odds
should notice additional text describing groups of photos.
I was recently asked to investigate the use of voice communications on PC for
the Blatchington trust the aim being to find a easy to use & safe environment for
the clients to communicate - easy I thought! but now I start looking it's not
so clear, indeed there are loads of bits of software that do the job but most
seem far from accessible - my favourite is Skype but the screen is cluttered
& may be a bit confusing to PC beginners - any suggestions?
Nuance have just released version 5.30.2 of their Talks screen reader for
Symbian based mobile phones, this release introduces some support for the
Belle version of Symbian.
I have just updated my Nokia N8 to the new Symbian Belle version of the
firmware along with a new release of Nuance talks version 5.30.2 - some good
bits & some not so good! Nokia have changed the layout of several applications
which I note from the web other people do not like on the plus side Talks
(screen reader) does seem more responsive although saying this it is still
very fiddly to use & not for the faint hearted. See my nokia pages for more
details when I get round to it.
Actually brought this product! after searching round for some new voices to use
with the NVDA screen reader I found & purchased Cereproc's Heather, do take
a few seconds to look at their sample voices - they are the closest to human
that I have come across & they are not that expensive either. The interesting
thing I found was that my sighted friends could understand what was being said
first time they heard it unlike with such products as Espeak.
I'm pleased to see in this years new years honours list Alison Evans has
been appointed an MBE for her work with the visually impaired - her career with
the Blatchington court trust over many years has helped so many young people.
Has anyone come across the LoroDux project yet? it appears to be a multi
platform mapping system which might replace software such as Wayfinder. LoroDux
seems to be specifically aimed at those with a visual impairment - have
a google & see what you think! my brief research can't find anything updated
after November 2011.
Now come on all you web page developers lets see you using some common sense!
A really simple area that many get wrong, "log in" & "sign off" etc. Now
to my mind if you "log in" you need to "log out" i.e. in & out, & if you
"sign on" you should "sign off" i.e. on& off - there are so many sites that mix
these terms - anybody else got similar thoughts? lets start pestering some
sites to sort these things out. For those wondering what the problem is
consider the blind computer user who has "logged in" & now wants to leave the site,
do we search for "log, sign, out or off".
Had cause to use my old Nokia N86 to make a call a few days ago & found that I
had no credit on it, now this was a little surprising as I had put £10
on it a while ago & not used it since - turns out that a background process
had been linking to the internet & trickling down my credit, I checked all
the processes & could not find what it was, checked with google & found that
many others have this problem with certain brands of this phone (mine was with
Orange). Anyway now that my n86 was out of guarantee I thought I'd get it
debranded to see if it cleared the problem & so far it looks like it has.
Do check your logs to see if your mobile device is steeling your money!
A quick word of warning here, if you get your phone debranded it will clear
all installed software such as screenreaders.
I have just found, downloaded & installed the latest Anna firmware & Nokia maps
onto my N8 - For me using the Talks screen reader it shows no improvement & the
maps application will no longer work with Nuance Talks - Sorry Nokia but for
us blind users the N8 is a no go still.
Over the last few weeks I've been playing with a few bits of software
including PHP & MySql, this also included quite a bit of manual reading during
which I came across a few things that I could implement on these pages - you
should notice a change in the appearance of tables & for those of you using
screen readers you will now find the Feedback form talks much more.
If you find any problems with any of the changes please do drop me a message
so I can hopefully work round them.
I've now had my Nokia N8 for just over 9 months & to be honest I'm struggling!
For those of us using access technology this touch screen device is a bit of
a pig - the only way I can really do anything with it is when I link it to a
bluetooth keyboard which seems to stuff the idea of having a touch screen
device in the first place. I did take a quick look at Mobile speak, the
alternative to Nuance talks, but was not that impressed at the time (I'll be
giving it another go shortly though). On various lists & groups that I read
I notice more are trying the Iphone & voice input, I'm not convinced on this
direction, for the time being I'll be looking for a good phone with a keyboard
when I next upgrade & would strongly advise others to hold off from touch
screen for as long as possible & certainly until they have had a chance to
play with one for a good while.
Another update to Nuance talks for symbian mobile phones, there are a variety of
minor updates & bug fixes in this release - I've installed it on my Nokia N8 &
it does seem to have improved its useability a bit - watch this space for
Thought I'd take the opportunity to get a few days of sunshine before the bad
weather kicks in so spent 6 really hot & sunny days in Cyprus - got home on
the first night where was a hint of ground frost!!!
For those of you who play a bit of guitar you might be interested in this site
which offers a range of backing tracks for loads of popular tunes, seems good
quality from the few I've tried!
Thanks to a reader of these pages I now have a quickly growing family tree on
Tribalpages.com - The mysterious 'Fruitpie' has been working away & uncovered
loads of records & in the process explained 1 or 2 family quirks!
We held another open weekend on my railway a few days ago, the weather was a bit
rough but we still managed to raise some money for a local special needs support
group & lifted the railways grand total to £860 - it's a bit tricky
to know who enjoys these events more the kids or the adults!
It's with much sadness I have to announce the death of a really good friend of
mine Richard Slack. He will be missed by so many people as he was not only
a larger than life brilliant character but also a superb craftsman building &
repairing instruments of many styles - he also was a music teacher & performer
so came into many peoples lives in so many ways, one of those people who it was
a real privilage to know & truely will be greatly missed.
I've had a few minutes free so have been updating these pages a bit. The main
added feature is the font size changing ability which is mainly aimed at those
with low vision but might also be helpful for those who use large screen TB's
as their monitor & tend to sit a distance from it. Please, Please do let me
know if it is helpful.
While I was at it I've also altered the random introduction message you hear
when entering my home page, from now on these will be short - the answer
machine messages will be added to another page where they can be selected
rather than forced on you.
If you are thinking about buying or updating your existing mobile phone then I
would avoid the Nokia n8 for the time being. I've now had this phone for
several months, updated all the software & firmware to the latest versions &
it's still not what I would consider useable - contact me for details.
For those with low vision I have added a couple of buttons at the top of these
pages to allow you to adjust the font size to make it easier to read. I'm
still working on how to get this change between pages but I'll get there! - do
let me know if it helps.
Just installed the latest version of Nuance talks on my Nokia n8 & have been
playing with it for the last half hour, seems to be more responsive & more areas
of the screen now talk back including when you are actually on a call.
In brief I purchased 2 refurbished Acer computers from Acer direct, as they were
refurbished I thought it worth purchasing extended cover on these machines &
went for 3 year on site - Sadly I had to call Acer as one machine developed a
hard disc problem only to be told that I was not covered as it was a refurbished
unit. I pointed out to Acer that they had sold me the cover & that during
the purchase I had to give them the serial number of the machine, when I called
for help it was this very same serial number that told them it was a refurbished
unit which they then refused to support. They are now refusing to give me my
money back so I have no support & nearly £200 out of pocket. I will
be following this up with trading standards & the county court - watch this space.
DO NOT LOAD THIS SOFTWARE if you are using screen readers, it stops you from
accessing web pages & it cannot be removed easilly. If your bank uses it
let them know about the problem & that it is not your choice not to use it but
purely an access issue - keep pestering them until they come up with a fix.
Now had the Nokia N8 for 3 months & still finding it a real struggle to use,
it is my first try with a touch screen device so there is bound to be a
learning curve but! Overall I like the idea of touch screen for phones but
as for the talking software it's just not there yet, watch this space
for updates when Nuance release the next version of talk for symbian phones.
Now back home after a quiet week in Tenerife, there's nothing like a bit
of sunshine & a few drinks to build you up! now it's back to building my
viaduct across the front garden - see my railway pages for pictures & full
Just taken delivery of my new mobile phone, the Nokia N8, it's my first attempt
at using a touch screen device & from first looks there is going to be a
really steep learning curve! Nuance talks have only just released their
talking software for this range of devices so although it does talk there
are areas which need a lot of work still to be done - watch this space.
The work on the viaduct is now well underway, both approaches are more or less
complete & the first arch is there! take a look at my railway pages for full
Just a little reminder here, if like me you pay for an all inclusive phone
package for your home you probably get wild with those companies who only
give you an 8044, 0845, 0870 etc number which costs money - don't forget
to look them up on 'say no to 0870' before dialing as there are loads
of proper phone numbers or 0800 free phone number alternatives given.
Another site for VI's never heard of it but looks like it might be useful!
Just returned from a week in Elounda Crete, my second visit to the area &
most enjoyable - photos soon!
So it's now back to mandolin playing, viaduct building & website updates.
The 11 & 12 of September had us all playing trains again! loads of visitors
took a ride round the garden & inspected the start of the viaduct work. All
seemed to enjoy themselves & in the process helped to boost the total amount
raised for charity by the railway to £715 - a big thanks to all my helpeers
without whom it would not be possible.
Always pleased to see the release of any updates to this extremely useful &
easy to use product. The software provides a really good audio capture &
editingfacility for either the beginner or more advanced user plus it's cheap!
Do take a look at the link for full details of all this companies products.
Just round the corner from my own railway a second line has appeared in a
back garden! The Beacon light railway situated at 13 Beacon road Seaford will
be opening to the public on monday 31 May between 10am & 4pm - do go along
& take a look at what you can achieve in a garden whilst helping to raise some
funds for the Chesnut tree childrens hospice in the process.
A new web site goes online! John Hayes has been teaching guitar & mandolin in
Seaford for years & has now launched his own site detailing his music &
Nuance's latest release of it's Talks software for symbian mobile phones
is supposed now to support some of the latest touch screen models such as
the Nokia N97 - not noticed a lot of difference on my N86 yet but I suspect
it is running just that bit more smoothly.
I purchased a new Acer X3812 desktop computer from Cometat the end of January,
all was well for the first week & then the main off/on switch failed, I had
read about this fault on the internet (& Comets own web site) & presumed that
as it had been known about since November 2009 that any stock despatched in late
January would have had the fault corrected - this is not the case. I returned
the item to the Eastbourne branch on 16 February for repair & was told it would
take about 7 days! now at home I look at the paperwork & it has an expected
return date of 5 March some 2 & a half weeks - it actually got returned
on 9 March by which time I had got my money back & ordered another machine from
Dell! Comet your service & customer support stinks, no updates, no messages &
certainly no customer care.
Ever wondered where the hell you were when travelling on a bus in a strange
area? London, & probably other cities, have introduced talking buses that
announce both the nex stop & where the bus is going - the Guide dogs for the
blind association is leading a drive to make this facility a legal requirement
on all UK buses & coach services. Follow the link above to find out more &
how you can help.
For those of you who have not come across daisy format books they are
electronic books which can contain text, pictures & sound, many talking books
for the blind are now produced in this format & can be played either on a
dedicated device or on your computer or mobile phone. The link above gives
a list of software packages which support daisy playback.
From TV & Radios money saving expert Martin Lewis comes a new service which
aims to hunt down the cheapest source for downloading your favourite mp3
tracks - you can save up to 50% on some albums including current chart releases.
A big thanks to Archna from Tune Checker for quickly responding to my email
pointing out a couple of missed 'alt' tags in their HTML.
Here we go again! just been hunting down a suitable 18 month mobile phone
contract for a friend, visited several web pages & went into a number of
the high street shops - what a difference in price! The basic requirement
was an 18 month contract which included a free Nokia n86 - the Orange store
in Eastbourne said the very best price was £35 a month which was close to
all other shops. However after a bit more searching we got a deal from
Virgin mobiles - 18 months, 500 anytime minutes, unlimited texts & web
access for £25 & that is with a free Nokia N86.
We ordered the phone on Saturday Virgin delivered it on the Monday, a good
service so far!.
So if you are searching for a new phone do spen a lot of time checking the
net for all the different deals you can save £'s.
Here's a little something for your mobile that might just catch your interest!
Vlingo allows you to "talk" to your mobile phone rather than tap the keys,
I was so impressed with the brief trials I did with it I actually coughed
up the £8.99 to register it. Just playing with it so far but the first
test are quite impressive - dialling numbers, sending texts & searching the
web. The neat thing with Vlingo is that it records your voice on the phone &
then sends it over the internet to be processed the resulting commands being
sent back to your phone.
Just returned from a week in Turkey, trying to sort out photo's & videos
so that I can put together a page about the holiday.
Have been taking some time to play with the internet on my phone over the last
few days & have found some useful bits, for example the train time enquiry
service from "The train line" works really well infact it's better than
using the PC based service to my mind.
A new site found! "blind Sea" contains a various things related to mobile
useage mainly a list of third party software that works with talking phones.
2 updates to report on the screen reader front, Firstly less than a year
since the last main update Freedom Scientific have a beta version of Jaws
11 available on their home page - I'm currently running this & for me there
is very little difference as of yet. The second release is for Nuance Talks
for mobile phones, version 4.10 is now out & offers increased support for
some of the latest models.
This might be a very handy application for those with limited vision, it
uses your Nokia phones built in camera as a magnifier, it has the ability
to change backgrounds & stabelise images if you have shaky hands
Whilst reading odds & ends about my new Nokia N86 I found reference to some
software which allows the phone to perform OCR (Optical Character Recognition),
it appears that Nokia have released such an application but as yet have
not made much of it - their aim is that you should be able to take a
picture of a document in any language & have it read back to you in a
language of your choice! very nifty idea, I downloaded the Nokia package
but cant get it running on my phone yet! watch this space for updates.
Just taken delivery of my latest mobile phone, it's the Nokia N86 8MP which
is supposed to be the upgrade from the N95 which I currently use, I don't
understand the Nokia numbering system but it looks good so far!
Like with my last upgrade sorting out the contract was hell, ended up with
having to drop my existing contract just to get a better deal with the same
See my Nokia phone page for more details of devices, dealers & various other
A bit of a landmark today as we hit the 5,000 visitor count - hope everybody
finds something useful here & as always please do let me know if there is
an area I should add or revisit.
Well held are 6th public runningevent over last weekend, all went well with
many people young & old enjoying a ride round plus we raised £75 for the
meningitis trust into the bargain - follow the link above for full details
of the event & railway.
Just to show the world my mum is not the only person with green fingers in
this family, mind you it does help that it is the sort of plant you can
forget for up to a month without the bloody thing dying on you
Nothing like my guitar or mandolin playing style but if you are looking for
something to help you relax why not give my mate's site a visit & try his style
for size. Wolf music provides a range of music for those looking for
relaxation & peace (mind you he can spank the plank when a bit of rock
is required too).
Just as I get these pages going my lady friend says can I have one too? so
hours of effort later & many glasses of wine (plus favours various) she now
has her family tree growing nicely.
IE8 is now installed on my main machine, seems a bit faster, cleaned off a
lot more junk when I removed browsing history & appears to have more
controlable security settings - as always watch this space for more details
Unlike me you might already know this but batteries such as PP3's do vary in
physical size - tried to replace one in my mandolin & found it to be a few
mm to big, tried several brands but the only one to fit was an energiser.
As I am using my mobile phone for more & more things & wanted to explore the
GPS systems I have signed up to Orange internet - managed to get a £5 a month
bundle which allows 500mb download each month. The first thing I did was to
visit these pages which seem to work OK although it was obvious that turning
off picture downloads was a good start. Watch this page for details
on how it goes.
My local library has just started to promote this new format range of talking
books, the book comes pre-loaded on a dedecated mp3 player - just plug in
your own headphones or mini speakers & off you go. The price to buy these
nifty looking units is high but many libraries seem to be taking them on &
renting them out, in my case £1.50 for 3 weeks. The benfits to the book
publishers is that there is no way of copying the audio files so I think
they willbe very strongly pushed. However the recording quality is poor
& it does not seem possible to move forwards or backwards a few words but
only by chapters - I'll be sticking to my tapes & CD's for a while yet.
After watching some of the recent family tree programs on the BBC my interest
was once again roused to tracking back some of my family, as I have said
before you tend to ignore them while they are alive & then wish you had asked
questions once it's too late - anyway with this in mind I've started to
look around for details & old family photos to see what I can put together.
Whilst hunting down some information about some new guitar & mandolin gear
I came across this mailing list which covers many topics relating to blind
musicians & music production, got a very good answer to my questions within
a few minutes so worth a look.
I use Firefox as much as internet explorer now, on many web pages it
seems to function much better than the Microsoft productm in some cases using
assistive technology IE7 cannot see the page whilst Firefox reveals all!
As an additional bonus it seems faster & is supposed to be much more secure.
Spotify is causing a bit of a wave in the media & music business, it boasts
that it will stream thousands of music tracks to your PC on request & totally
legally! I've set my mate Eamonn on the case & am waiting for a full report but
meanwhile take a look & see what you think.
Took a look at the NHS web site a couple of days ago when a friend thought
he might have a health problem, it's list of medical conditions with
symptoms was very helpful & clear - loads more useful health related stuff
on the site which might be useful.
Another release of this great communication tool which allows you to both talk
to & see any person in the world who also has the software on their PC. It's
simple to install & use plus it's FREE! On top of all this it is possible
to send SMS messages to mibles world wide & also dial overseas numbers from
your PC to a standard phone line for vastly reduced rates. Take a look
at the Skype site for full details & lists of other features.
A few minutes of spare time & a quick "google" & bingo we have added a variety
of fonts & a few colours to the headings on these pages - WOW! I hear you
say - whatever next?
By pure chance I took a close look at my orange mobile phone bill for once &
noticed a charge for data transfer, funny I thought, I don't remeber doing any
transfers. After checking the counters on my phone I could see that indeed
several megabytes of data had come & gone from my phone. It turns out that
there is a known bug that causes this on some older models so I went to my
local Nokia service centre who upgraded me to the latest firmware & gave the
phone the once over - I wait to see if this has cleared the problem. I would
suggest to anyone with this phone that you do check that you have the latest
release of the software as there are many bug fixes trickling through all the
Is it me? I've just been trying to plan a journey from my home town to Devon
by train, I do the journey every now & then so know the route but wante to check the train
times & ticket prices after the recent changes - The web sites are dreadful, the phone lines
are manned by people who I just cant understand & after a lot of trouble I
am no further forward. The real icing on the cake was when I took a look
at Raileasy.co.uk - getting a little stuck I thought give them a ring..
Not a chance they charge ONE POUND a minute for their phone support, so much
for Great Western.
Now after that rant let me sum up, there is a financial squeeze where everyone
is trying to earn & save money, when I try & buy a service I can't get
the correct details sithout a strunggle or having to pay a high rate
phone call - come on you lot grow up befpre upi a;; go bust!!!
Well I could just not hang on any longer! last week I took a second trip
to the workshops of Paul Hathway & came away with a cittern - a what I hear you
ask? A cittern is like a mandolin but just much bigger being over twice
the scale length which makes the fingers stretch a bit but what a sound!!
A really big thanks to Paul & his wife for making myself & my friends so
welcome & taking so much time to show me the various instruments he makes - yes
I know it's his job but not all do their job so well.
I'll be putting something on these pages giving more details & some examples
If like me you are stuck for that final small christmas gift for someone
who has everything try Hawkins bazaar, some really daft stuff that might
just do the trick! postage knocks the price up a bit for single items but still
worth a look, it might dig you out of a gift problem.
For those using screen readers the site has a few unlabelled graphics but
a talked to their web person & she's going to deal with that - nice to talk
to the web team direct who actually bothered to listen.
Home again after another trip to Devon, highlights this time were a really
great open mic night at The new inn at Goodleigh & a trip out in a Rolls Royce
that was built in 1931.
The standard of musicianship on offer on the Friday night was outstanding,
I'm not just saying that because I was playing! it really was outstanding
with not a single act that made you want to leave. (I'd also recommend the
beer & the food).
On the Sunday I was lucky enough to be taken out In John Squire 1930's Rolls,
it was a bright & frosty morning so we just had to drop in at the buffee
of the Lynton & Barnstaple railway at Woody bay for tea & cakes - Perfect!
If you like a pint & some food at your local check the list of pubs at this
site, my local 'The Old Plough' is on the list & with the voucher from
the web site offers beer & a meal for 4.50 (And it's excellent!)
As Christmas is fast approaching I've tarted up my for sale page, a range of
items can be found at very reasonable prices! ideal for that special gift...
As there has been a couple of rainy days I have spent a few hours playing with
the gallery page to bring it up to scratch, no extra pictures yet but at
least the text & pictures are in the right places now! A big thanks to Jan
for proof viewing the new layout & spotting some errors in the code.
This was a really brilliant evening with Cara Dillon at the Komedia in Brighton,
Cara performed songs from her new album "hill of thieves" which is to be
released in the new year. It was my first visit to this venue which I I was very
impressed with, it seemed just the right size to me, enough people to give
atmosphere but not so large as to loose the warm feeling of a blub at its
best. Also a really big thanks to the Komedia's staff for making us welcome
especially guide dog Molly.
After my visit to the workshop of Paul Hathway I have spent some time updating
the music links on these pages during which I came across this database of
instrument makers in the UK, whether its a complete instrument or spares you
want you will probably find it here.
Was up in London searching for some spares for my octave mandolin & dropped
in to visit Paul Hathway at his workshop - No luck with spares but very tempted
to purchase a completely new instrument. Do take a look at the site for
full details of these high quality & very farely priced instruments.
The web site of Martin Lewis is well worth a visit by all who are serious
about taking care of their money, the site is frequently mentioned on both
TV & radio - check the lists of 2 for 1 offers, how to save on rail tickets
& my personal favourite "say no to 0870" telephone number lookup
facility - see link on my welcome page!
Thought I'd bring this site to the head of the list again, if offers a source
of much interest to the blind.
Returned from Crete last Saturday after 7 nights in Gouves which is around
20 miles from the city of Heraklion. Been to Crete several years ago
& noticed some differences - had a good time however, will be adding a page
about the area & my feelings soon.
The latest version of this free GPS software now offers support for several
of the mobile phones with built in gps modules such as the Nokia N95. Each
release contains various fixes & genuine advances, I'd recommend giving it
a go & don't forget to make some sort of donation to the funds if you find
the program useful. It's now installed on my N95 - watch this page for
Not the biggest bit of news or imformation ever published on these pages but
still worth a mention, I recently purchased a set of talking bathroom scales
first looking at the specialist suppliers & then finding that there were several
mainstream companies who sold identical products but "CHEAPER!" It's always
worth a quick "Google" for anything you buy no matter how specialised it
might appear & don't think charities do it cheaper either, when I was looking
for wheelchair bbatteries for my railway I found that places like Help
the aged were more expensive than ordinary battery retailors for the exact
same product. Back to my scales briefly, if you are in the market for some
do take a look at E-scales who had a range of products & delivered very
Whilst looking for a holiday I've come across several online booking services
which offer loads of imformation &, in some cases, very good value on last
minute bookings, links to these sites have been added to my travel link
I was lucky enough this weekend to be invited to visit a local miniature railway
near Hailsham in East Sussex, thanks to one of their team of helpers I
was able to take one of my engines along & give it some exercise on the quarter
mile circuit - the line has only been open for a few months & will hopefully
grow over the following years - take a look at my railway pages for more
Not exactly huge news but still worth a mention! today I appeared on are
local radio station talking about my garden railway - the tricky bit was not
to sound too much like a real nurd! hopefully it will have been a good way
of publicising the next open day on 13 September. So far the station has
only been able to do one month trial broadcasts as a real radio station
backing this up with internet streams - anyway why not give them a quick listen
by following the link below:-
Time for a rant! I've recently had problems installing anAlva braille terminal
in conjunction with Jaws - I won't go into the problem in depth here but what
I want to say is that both Sight & Sound in the UK & Freedom scientific
in the states have offered no help what so ever. Considering the amount of
money that Jaws has cost me it really does stink - Sight & Sound just washed
there hands of the whole thing saying that they no longer support Alva even
though it is listed in the drivers list & Freedom scientific have just not
got back to me. Any alva & Jaws experts out there PLEASE
Fans of Dire straits will recognise the name of Mark Knopfler the lead
guitarist with the band & composer of many albums in his own right. A
Still bashing away at the mandolin playing bit, recently played in a pub
in north Devon called the New Inn at Goodleigh on one of there monthly open mic
nights - if you want to see how it's going take a look at the above link to a
YouTube clip showing me playing one of my tunes called "Jan's dance".
Yes my hound has made it to the TV, he appeared on "Animals do the strangest
things", the clip showed him "driving" my train round the house (they showed
about 3 seconds of a 30 second clip so I suspect other bits may be used later)
And the best bit of all! a cheque for £250 has just arrived!
I have now purchased another engine for my railway plus a few odds
& ends, all is looking good for playing silly buggers over the next few
months if the weather holds up...
Not explored this much yet but is worth keeping an eye on, specifically aimed
at the blind mobile phone user but some of these items may be of interest
or use to a wider audience.
Blind phones mailing list
In my wonderings round the net & after talking to some friends I came across
this useful site that gives you a good idea of which benefits you might
be entitled to if you are living in the UK.
After months of investigation I have finally got my updated phone, it was
a real struggle! After reading loads about various phones I settled on
the Nokia N95 - that was no problem, however sorting out the contract was real
trouble. I found a good site for comparing contracts at
Once I found what I was after I contacted Orange & asked them to match
what I had found - no chance they say... so I go to the Orange shop in
Eastbourne where they do match what I am after.. During the sign up stage
we had to ring Orange customer services to shut down my last contract etc.,
they asked why I had not contacted them direct for an update, I explained & was told
that they could have done it over the phone in the first place..
See the pages on the Nokia phones for more details on picking a contract
& phone related links.
Nokia 6630, N70 & N95 information
The RNIB have just launched a new look book site which includes a new
service which streams audio books to your PC, the site contains details of
thousands of available books in many formats - not too sure about the streaming
system, there is no demo & I don't really fancy being sat at my PC for
hours - mind you if you already have a PC in your front room as part of
your entertainment system it might work.
Welcom to RNIB book site
to these pages, the effect of this is to cleanup many areas & hopefully
allow me to add new features. Random introduction MP3's are
now in place, at the moment there are only 3 to select from but as with
the random photos as the site grows so these will become more targeted
to the area you are visiting - let me know what you think!
a result have introduced random picture display! this means that each time
you visit the site from now on you will see a variety of pictures, as the
number of pictures in the library increases I will fine tune the sort
of picture that appears - random sound clips next!
What a mine field! the phone itself is easy for me it looks like it has
to be the Nokia N95 but when it comes to the contract terms... Google comes
back with a raft of differing possibilities, one main thing is DO NOT update
or use Orange customer services over the phone they are just too expensive.
Watch this space for updates!
This is taken from Jill Whitehead's Audio Description Bulletin. No idea what
this box is like but reade on.
"Now for the great news about AD on TV. You can now buy a set-top box that
delivers AD! It's the Logik LDR V3 & it's available exclusively from
Currys online. It will cost you £59.99 & is about the size of a video
cassette. There is a dedicated AD button on the remote control that allows
you to turn AD on & off really easily. This set-top box only delivers AD,
it has no other features to assist blind & partially sighted people, such
as spoken channel announcements, so you may need help in setting it up
I've had a quick look round the net & 2 things come to mind straight away
about this box, firstly it is a Freeview receiver so you must be in a Freeview
reception area to benefit & secondly it appears other companies do sell the unit
for as little as £40 - any comments?
Capercaillie are on tour over the next couple of months & I'm off to see
them in Brighton on November 29.
Recently dropped into my local branch of Superdrug & was please to see that
they are now labelling some of their products with braille - very, very
helpful keep it up. Not to forget other shops & manufacturers that do this
to their products but it's nice to see it spreading a bit.
Went to this brilliant gig in Brighton, even the support band were
really worth seeing & as for Candice & Richie - looking forward to the
next gig already.
This site contains a variety of spoken word audio material, not looked in
depth yet but might be very useful.
Found this site listing dozens of live radio streams within the UK, great
for listening to local radio out of your own area!
It's no bloody wonder that nobody much wants to use public transport in this
country when trying to get imformation is so difficult, yes I am off on one!
a bit of a rant starts right here! just looked on the national rail enquiries
web pages to check a journey, what a load of crap! the route shown are confused,
do not show all the options etc etc the only way to be sure you have anything
like the right route is to query the complete journey & then query the same
time span but this time starting at the first change point of the first search
result - come on you lot get your act together! & as for us keep those
e-mails going to them until they sort it out.
There are a number of sites now offering streamed television on the PC,
several companies are suggesting that you can now receive hundreds of satellite
channels on your PC for a one off payment - sounds to good to be true & I can't
find anyone using it just yet so watch this space for more details! the link
below is to one of several companies all of which just seem a little OTT for
me - see what you think.
TV on PC elite
Thanks to my mate Eamonn I have added a new link to this page for people
to try, its a world music site with links to internet radio - give it a
WUMB folk radio
I've also been taking a look at the BBC radio stations live streaming,
again worth a play - I'll add some direct links to the audio streams
when I have a minute or five.
My Nokia N70 talking mobile phone is prooving a great asset, I have now got
2 really big memory cards for it (1 & 2 Gb) so have been able to load
complete talking books on it along with various GPS software - the video
camera has been used more & the results do seem to compare well with
some of the low end video recorder output.
Anyone got software for their phone they could not live without that I should
take a look at?
For those who enjoy a drink & want to get the best value for money why not take
a look at the brilliantly named "Quaffers Offfers" site which contains details
of drinks offers currently in the main UK shops.
Streaming video & its related services are worth a look I suppose, I tried
the recently launched
and managed the basics but a bit more time is necessary here.
Took another look at the UK audio network site recently, it's coming
along nicely - even if you are not blind its worth a wonder round just
to experience a different approach to publishing your information.
On this site I have now added web counters to keep a track on things,
going to make a bit more effort to get my pages registered on search
engines especially the garden railway stuff.
Meanwhile watch this space for more ramblings about sites, equipment & anything
else that happens to cross my mind!
Have not got the exact date to hand but around1 May Trent arrived to take up
duties as my third guide dog.
is pretty basic but should be useable with a braille terminal.
These pages started when I was using Freeserve as my IP, the original address
I'm not quite sure when these pages actually started but I think it was around
January 2000, trying to fill in gaps as I go along.
Actually before these web pages really started but I thought I'd add this bit
of history here anyway.
Nelson was my second guide dog taking over from Bruce in July 1995 and prooving
to be a very good follow up to Bruce. Both dogs got on well together thank
heavens and spent several happy years together.