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We are delighted to present you with a business desk filled with informative and up-to-the-minute news clips. Check this page frequently to stay in the know and to read the insights and opinions of respected business experts and trend watchers.



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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Using newsletters to spread the word

Hello there!  I'm Matt Chadwick at the business desk and today I'd like to shine the light on the growing popularity of a trend that is being used to do such things as:
Spread the word about one's business.
Increase revenues.
Increase one's customer base.
Yes, it's the good old newsletter that more and more businesses are using to do all of this plus more.  There was a time when many people thought that the use of the newsletter was absolutely boring, mundane, and old fashioned.  However, this opinion has swiftly been changing for the past three years and it seems to be steamrolling across America these days. 
Believe it or not, the newsletter trend is turning out to be quite a little gem, a bomb of a treasure, plus much more for many.  Now, before you go scrambling to your computers to start churning out those fancy and smashing newsletters, I'd like to pass on some tips that I've taken the time to gather.
First, you need to ensure that your newsletter is concise, easy to read, and easy to understand.
Second, make it brief.  Not too long and not too short.
Third, it's always a good idea not to bombard your readers with too many newsletters.  At most monthly, at least quarterly.
Fourth, don't try to cram too much info into your newsletter.
Fifth, you can start by offering a free subscription to your readers on your website.  Not a good idea to make it a paid subscription.
Sixth, if you send your newsletter to a select group of readers, then use the BCC facility to do so.  Never, Never, disclose the list of recipients when sending out your newsletter.
Seventh, it may not be a bad idea for you to use your newsletter to advertise some special offers on your products or services.
Eith, Not a good idea to send your newsletter as an attachment if you feel that it's too lengthy.  Let me clarify.  If your newsletter is being sent to unknown recipients then best to send it as the body of your email so that it will be read more easily.  Sending your newsletter as an attachment to unknown recipients will more than likely end up being deleted or the spam checker will toss it before it gets to its destination.  However, if you know your recipients then you can get away with sending it as an attachment.
 
I'm going to leave you with an idea for thought.  Why not think of having your newsletter translated into other languages and then send it to appropriate websites or organizations?  I'll leave you some info that you can check out if you feel that translating your newsletter would help.
 
Are you looking for skilled and experienced translators/writers/researchers to help you craft your articles, blogs, business letters, emails, faxes, newsletters, and proposals in multi languages? 
Are you seeking skilled and experienced language coaches to help you learn the English language more quickly and efficiently?
Then you need to visit the folks at www.translationpeople.com.  Here you'll find a team that guarantees quick turn around, professional work, and total confidentiality.  Prices are extremely affordable and services are offered in English, Spanish, French, Cantonese, and Mandarin.
Check out the free useful information page while you're there and for absolutely free you can also tap into the latest trends and headlines.
 
At the business desk, I'm Matt Chadwick wishing you a pleasant evening.
 

Monday, July 30, 2007

Special article to mark a special anniversary

Good morning!  I'm Kerry J Harrison at the business desk and this morning I'd like to do something very special for a very special group of persons.
To mark the anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and due to heavy demand from our special needs readers, I'd like to share an article with you that befits this anniversary.  I'll let you be the judge of it all.
 
US mobile phone industry turns a deaf ear to blind mobile phone customers.
 
by Andrew Beutmueller
TelecomTV - London,UK
27/07/2007.
 
 
Today is the 17th anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a
piece of historic legislation dealing with the civil rights of disabled US
citizens. But, amongst those that will not be joining in with the the
congratulations and cork-popping are US mobile handset makers and carriers
who, according to the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) have so far
failed to "meet the needs of blind or visually impaired customers" in many
ways.
 
The AFB says that in the US mobile industry in general, handset
manufacturers in particular do not take the ADA law or handset
"accessibility" seriously as is evidenced by the fact that the overwhelming
majority of phones are not fully usable for low-vision or no-vision users.
 
According to the AFB some of the chief obstacles posed by cell phone for the
visually impaired run the gamut from 1) having no audio output of
information displayed on the screen, 2) having hard to read displays, 3)
having keys that are not easy to distinguish by touch, and 4) having product
manuals and phone bills that are not available in Braille, large print or
other easier-to-read formats.
 
The aging US baby-boomer population is now in its sixties and many
individuals are suffering natural attrition of their vision. This
inevitability is driving massive demand for so-called "vision loss-friendly
phones" with large font screens or voice output of menus or text messages.
 
Paul Schroeder, the vp of Programs and Policy Group at AFB says there is no
excuse for not meeting the needs of a major section of the population. He
says, "Given today's technological advancements, advertised constantly by
cell phone carriers, it is particularly shameful that access features are
not being made available."
 
Blind callers are indeed becoming increasingly frustrated with the mobile
industry's apparent indifference to the issue. Complaints to the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC), which enforces Section 255, a part of the
Federal Communications Act requiring all phones to be made usable for people
with disabilities, are reportedly flooding in from across the United States.
 
Earlier this month, the AFB began a campaign to help the vision-impaired to
 understand access requirements and help them file complaints with the FCC if
necessary.
 
 
 
The action also includes a letter writing campaign asking what leading cell
phone makers and carriers "are doing to meet the needs of people with vision
loss."
 
The AFB does however admit that not all carriers are insensitive to the
needs of the visually-impaired; in fact AT&T for one has taken steps to
ensure the provision of accessible phones.
 
And last year Samsung unveiled one of the first Braille mobile phones for
the visually impaired. Called the "Touch Messenger," the phone enables
visually impaired users to send and receive Braille text messages. The 3?4
button on the cell phone is used as two Braille keypads and text messages
can be checked through the Braille display screen in the lower part.
 
Nokia does not yet offer a device specifically for the visually-impaired,
but the Finnish company's handsets do come with a number of features for
low-vision and blind users.
 
Keith Nowak, a Nokia spokesperson says, "All of our devices include a raised
nib on the 5 key to help facilitate dialing, voice dialing and voice
commands and some new devices include user-selectable font sizes to help
make text more legible."
 
Mr. Nowak adds, "Nokia also offers a so-called "voice aid" application, that
allows frequently-used functions such as messages, phonebooks, battery and
signal strength, call logs and more to be read aloud on some smartphones, as
well as a dialing application that reads numbers aloud as the user scrolls
through them. We have also included audio features like talking clocks and
audible status indicators on some of our lower end cell phones as well."
 
? 2007 Decisive Media.
 
 
At the business desk, I'm Kerry J harrison wishing you a pleasant day.
 

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Using glitches in the market to your advantage

Greetings everyone!  I'm Jayna Sheffield at the business desk and I'd like to end the week on a short note.
For the past few days our markets here in North America have been on a rocky ride and it all has to do with what the experts are calling a market correction.  What this means is that from time to time we are going to experience drops in the market and these drops are meant to compensate for very high peaks in the market.  In short, what we have been seeing in the past few months whereby the markets have been rising, investors have been smiling, and stocks are doing very well, is from time to time tempered with a fall in the markets, with investors running for the door, and stocks falling.
The European markets have done very well and it is believed that now they're ready for a bit of a fall.  However, here in the United States, the markets have not yet reached their full potential and many business gurus are focusing on stocks of Microsoft and Oracle to be the ones for investors to choose.  They are putting most of their money on these two stocks to lead the pack of good stocks to invest in.
So, how can you as an individual or small business benefit from this picture?  The way we see it, the majority of non-investors are practically clueless when it comes to understanding how markets behave.  How they behave in different ways, what needs to be done in order to deal with peaks and troughs, and why all of these events take place.  Let's face it:  Over 95% of the non-investing population or should I say, over 95% of the regular population, those who are far removed from the activities of Wall Street, or the other major stock markets around the world, are literally ignorant, naive, and scared of these things. 
True it is most of us are constantly seeking ways to grow our savings and investments but at the same time we don't know how and here's where you can fill the gap if you take the time to acquire the right type of knowledge and market yourself to the right type of consumer.
What type of knowledge do you need in order to benefit?  You need to become a certified financial planner and investor.  Get the right type of certification and look for the experience necessary to make you credible with financial institutions and investment houses.
Which types of consumers should you be targeting?  In particular, pre retirees, aging baby boomers, young professionals, and families with aging parents.
Get the picture as yet?  Hurry now!  This niche will not remain open for too much longer. 
 
Now for our Amazon picks of the week.
 

business startup kit

by Steven D Strauss

A great book for you if you're getting ready to start your own business venture.  Before you take the next step towards owning your own business, you should read this book.

 

What no one ever tells you about starting your own business

By Jan Norman

It's really hard to know what to ask about how to go about starting up as a small business owner and too many people make the fatal mistake of believing that they know what they're doing.  This book answers many unanswered questions and it's good reading material for budding and potential business owners.

 

Untapped Wealth Discovered

By Jeff N Marquis and Kerry J Harrison

If you're tired of working for someone else, tired of having to spend too much time away from home at the office, and wanting to become your own boss, then you need to read this book. 

 

I'm going to leave you with some info that can get you going on your research chores re the setting up of small business ventures.

 

Are you tired of looking over your shoulder because you're so scared of being scammed out of your hard earned savings, your house, and your other assets?
Are you looking for ways to avoid those scams with their broken promises and get rich quick schemes?  Are you worried that one day soon someone is going to try and scam you out of your worldly possessions?  Do you know what you should be doing in order to combat those seedy scammers, identity thieves, and shady investors?
Now you can take advantage of some very potent info and daily updates plus more in order to help you stay healthy and sleep well at night.  All of this info is free for the taking and it will save you thousands of research hours, protect your savings and worldly possessions, and help you to make decisions that are safe, logical, and sound.  The experts at www.untappedwealth.com are offering you all of this at absolutely no cost because their philosophy is that if they help you then you will help others and we will become a safer and better country.  Check them out!  You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fraud alert! Your credit card is being targeted

Hello there!  I'm Matt Chadwick at the business desk and today I'd like to rais the alert for your credit card!  We're doing this as part of our commitment to ensure that you remain one step ahead of scammers and defrauders. 
What's the latest trick being tried by scammers and defrauders?  It seems as if they've come up with something new for us to be on the watch for.  Here it is.
Defrauders and scammers have started to use a new way to get ahold of your credit card number plus your other confidential banking details.  They are using the last three digits of your credit card number to do this.  Allow me to explain.
Normally, your credit card is made up of at least 16 numbers.  However, there are three additional numbers that most banking institutions and financial companies use in order to verify your banking details, and to verify that you are indeed the holder of the card.  These three numbers or digits are located on the back of your card and for the last little while whenever you make a transaction over the phone most purchasers ask you for this three digit number in order to verify your information and to verify that you are the cardholder of the credit card in question. 
If you give out this three digit number to someone you don't know, then you can prepare yourself to be invaded by potential defrauders and scammers.  For they will take this little gem and use it to snatch all of your personal banking details and credit card info from right under your very nose and before you know it all of your info will be at the mercy of unscrupulous persons.
DON'T EVER GIVE THIS THREE DIGIT NUMBER TO ANYONE YOU DON'T KNOW!  Only give it to authorized persons, and to an authorized merchant from whom you are making purchases.  In fact, you should never be giving out your credit card number to anyone you don't know.  Before you make either a phone or online purchase, do yourself a huge favor and check out who you're buying from. 
Think of it in this way:  Your credit card and your social security numbers are two of the most important keys to your private kingdom or domain.  Your driver's license number is the third most important key to your kingdom and domain.  Guard them with your life!  Keep them always very well hidden but not too hidden that you can't find them when needed.  Don't ever reveal them to anyone you don't know or to anyone except to those you trust with your life.
 
Now for some info for those of you who are seeking to make your websites more user friendly.  This info can help you to make your websites more attractive to visitors and will also help you to increase your revenues, decrease your costs, and expand your customer base. 
 
They call themselves a "One Stop Writing Shop" and well they should.  There are not too many companies around at present that are able to do this and do it so well.  The experts call them unique!  They offer complete services that can help you do research, write, translate and transcribe your info into multi languages.  For absolutely free they can help you to keep abreast of important trends and news items if you're either too busy to search for them or you don't know where to find them.  They can help you to increase your revenues, reduce your costs, and expand your customer bases.  They can offer you a free online monthly magazine filled with info designed to help you keep abreast of market trends and consumer habits and articles that will point you in the right direction when it comes to finding opportunities that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe.
To learn more visit them at www.sterlingcreations.ca.
 
At the business desk, I'm Matt Chadwick bidding you a great weekend.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The most given reason why most small businesses fail

Good evening!  I'm Kerry J Harrison at the business desk and on this very mellow summer's evening, I'd like to talk a bit about why most small businesses fail even before they get off the ground.
According to the experts, and in one word, research.  In short, too many persons who decide to get into their own businesses fail miserably when it comes to doing their research.  Even before they get going, they've already decided on what they're going to do and they go blindly into a business venture without even taking the time to do the proper research.
Many business magazines have given some of the following reasons as to why over 90% of small businesses across America fail to come out of the starting blocks let alone make it to the finish line. 
Let's take a look:
Many persons choose to go into a particular type of business venture because either a family member or friend has told them that this type of venture would make lots of money because it's the cool thing to do. 
Others go into a specific type of business because they honestly feel that they have the skills and experience necessary to launch and take the business to great heights.
Still others choose a particular type of business venture to pursue because they believe that it's what the market needs.
We even have a large group of business seekers going into business for themselves because they want to prove to their peers that they can run their own business and do their own thing.
The list can go on and on but for the most part too many persons do not take the time to do their research.  They don't take the time to listen to what the markets want, are demanding, and why.  They fail to listen to the voices of consumers choosing instead to force their own desires on the markets and on consumers.
For many years now this trend has been responsible for over 90% of business failures but happy to say this trend seems to be taking a welcomed back seat to another that seems to be making its way briskly and confidently through the small business economy here in America.
I'm referring to the business start-up idea trend and this trend has quietly been making moves among businesses for at least the past four years.  When it started it was very slow, but I can tell you that as of a month ago, this trend has grown ten fold within the last four years and more and more businesses and individuals are using it to great advantage.  In a nutshell, the business start-up idea tend involves the following:
Spending many more hours to research business ideas.
Spending more time to listen to the hearts and pulses of markets and consumers.
Clearly determining and deciphering the reasons for wanting to go into business.
Checking out the competition in the desired arena.
In short, spending oodles of hours to lay a sound and solid groundwork before even approaching the launch pad.
 
If you're looking for some more info on this new trend presently rocketing through our nation, then visit our top business strategies page and go to the business start-up idea link.  There you'll learn why this trend is reaping such success and you'll be able to use it to help yourself.  I'll leave you now with some additional info that you can use to help you get started.
 
How would you like to keep abreast of breaking headlines, latest trends, and up to the minute news and do it all for free?  How would you like to save yourself some precious time and energy by going to a website that offers you daily updates by some very hardworking experts and all of this at no cost to you?  Would you like to learn how to keep your assets safe and protected from the fast fingers of those unscrupulous scammers, identity thieves, and cyber pirates?
The experts at www.untappedwealth.com can show you how to obtain all of this plus much more and they are offering all of this for free because they are bound and determined to help you stay away from those get rich quick schemes, those scams with broken promises and smoking mirrors, and those pitfalls that could land you in endless trouble.  Their fingers are strategically placed on what's going on minute by minute around the world and they bring it to you as it happens.  Take advantage of their knowledge and experience and do it at no cost. 
 
At the business desk, I'm Kerry J Harrison wishing you a pleasant evening.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Important news round-up

Hey there!  I'm Alix Shadonnay at the business desk and it's time for our weekly news round-up.
Thanks again to the many emails filled with oodles of positive feedback.
 
Table of contents
 
July 25 2007
 
1  Are Speech Engines Enough to Implement Today's Mobile Voice Technology?
2  What's new in os x 10.5
3  EPB offers New Service For Visually Impaired Customers
4  Jobs needed for blind
5  White cane media
6  Hotels will lose out if their websites don't comply with the DDA
 
 
 
TechLINKS, GA, USA
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
 
Are Speech Engines Enough to Implement Today's Mobile Voice Technology?
 
By Daniel Ciarcia Jr.
 
Just as mobile devices are beginning to flex their silicon muscles by becoming as powerful as necessary to help us organize our workforces, the demand for an "eyes free, hands free" user experience is taking the next generation of voice recognition (VR) and text-to-speech (TTS) mainstream. The timing couldn't be better. Effective July 1, 2008, the state of California joins Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New Jersey and New York in the prohibition of the use of handheld mobile phones while driving. This new legislation, as it slowly advances, places pressure on mobile device manufacturers to provide highly dependable voice technology now.
 
Successfully implementing a VR system isn't always as straightforward as bolting an off-the-shelf speech engine to a graphical user interface - especially in mobiles. Even though the technology has been around for years, its lackluster performance has mobile users still using their keypads. However, systems employing highly accurate mobile voice technology are now layering additional algorithms atop the VR engine to add features like noise immunity, and voice-band conversational filtering, depending upon the use model of the system. Software that adds value to speech engines and dramatically reduces development time by multiplexing various speech engines is a complete voice solution. These solutions are gradually being implemented in mobiles making voice technology dependable in virtually any environment. So, what are the key differences between speech engines and voice solutions?
 
A speech engine is a set of library, synthesizer, binary and context files that are the building blocks of a complete solution. Engines either convert text into voiced audio output, or microphone input into text. Those tasks are generally not performed by the engines alone. Additional development is required to build a robust VR system, TTS system and to integrate these engines into mobile software interfaces.
 
A voice solution is a set of tools that layer atop the speech engines. Typically an application programming interface (API), exposing the functionality of the speech engines, allows application developers to include all that voice has to offer using relatively few method calls. For example, instead of the application cycling through the numerous speech engine events required to properly capture data from the audio input channel and convert the captured data to text, just a few multithreaded calls to the API performs the recognition functionality. Solutions also employ algorithms to manage VR and TTS engines, signal variability, microphone gain, variable audio input or audio output characteristics of target mobile devices, network delay and other filters that make voice interfaces an attractive alternative to the keyboard and screen.
 
One of the more challenging issues facing implementers of voice technology is background noise. Seek out solutions that limit the range of acceptable vocabulary for each voice-capture. The range of acceptable vocabulary at any given time need not be as open as an unabridged dictionary. In the case of voice capture, less is certainly more. Forcing the system to capture only the specific words or phrases for a given task helps eliminate issues where noise such as the sound of a car horn is converted into unwanted responses: "call 9-1-1"!
 
Vendors of speech engines recommend the use of a push-to-talk button for ultimate recognition accuracy. Yet, with proper fine-tuning, I have found that an open microphone design can deliver the same VR accuracy. Try including a wake-up phrase such as "Voice System Wake Up" and a voice parking-phrase such as "Voice System Go To Sleep" in the vocabulary to allow for periods when the user doesn't want the mobile device to enter recognition mode. These are a just few ways to increase noise immunity.
 
Other features available with voice solutions that are not always available through the engines include device independence, speaker independence and dynamic voice-thresholding. Device independence is the ability for the voice solution to operate on virtually any mobile unit regardless of device speed, operating system or memory limitations. Speaker independence means that workers need not 'train' or 'enroll' their voices to a particular device. Rather, speaker independent voice solutions can automatically adapt to the sounds of male voices, female voices, the voices of children and even individuals with heavy accents allowing people to share mobiles when necessary. Dynamic voice-thresholding refers to a method by which the voice software automatically compensates for the variability in audio systems from one mobile device to another. Similar to an automatic gain control, dynamic voice-thresholding keeps manual settings for audio input to a minimum.
 
Implementing a VR system is not a plug-and-play effort. As many IT professionals have discovered, speech engines alone are not enough for delivering mobile voice technology. Those tasked with adding voice to their offerings have two development paths available. If your team has the time, talent and expertise to multiplex and integrate speech engines, carefully follow the application notes and coding examples that are typically provided with the software development kit (SDK) tools. They provide a tremendous boost to learning and applying voice technology as implemented by a particular vendor. On the other hand, if a quick-to-market solution is better suited for your group, be sure to view a demonstration of the solution to guarantee that the performance and accuracy required for your project can be met.
 
Either way, get ready. Voice recognition is no longer a nicety, it's a necessity. Consumer demand on IT for a truly robust voice technology has arrived!
 
Daniel Ciarcia Jr.
CTG, Inc.
dan.ciarcia@ctg.com
  http://www.techlinks.net/CommunityPublishing/tabid/92/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/3807/Are-Speech-Engines-Enough-to-Implement-Todays-Mobile-Voice-Technology.aspx
 

Techworld.nl, Netherlands
 Thursday, June 21, 2007
 
Leopard preview: What's new in OS X 10.5
 
By Macworld staff
 
Extract: "Apple's tools for users with physical impairments get a major upgrade in Leopard. A new text-to-speech engine features a voice, Alex, that sounds far more natural than what Apple has offered previously. The VoiceOver screen-reading tool is also upgraded, and also supports Grade 2 contracted Braille devices."
 
More details have emerged about Mac OS X 10.5, the next major update to the Mac operating system that Apple has dubbed "Leopard." While Leopard won't be let out of its cage until October, two Steve Jobs keynote addresses and Apple's Leopard web site have given us some idea of how this latest cat will behave.
 
In the following pages, we'll describe what's publicly known about Leopard's new features--and the lingering questions that we're still trying to answer. We'll also take a look at the OS X 10.5 features Apple first unveiled in August 2006, paying special attention to what's changed since then. We'll continue to update this collection of Leopard features as more information becomes publicly available.
 
Desktop
 
What it is: What Steve Jobs called a new "Desktop" during his Worldwide Developers Conference keynote in June is really a group of changes to OS X's general interface, as well as improvements to the Dock.
 
What's new: Interface changes in OS X 10.5 include a now-translucent menu bar, a consistent dark-gray window appearance throughout the Mac interface, and a refined Dock appearance. Dock icons now sit on a glossy surface (which reflects any windows that happen to be near the Dock). Active applications get a new signal--a bright, glowing dot replaces the black triangle that signals active apps in Tiger.
>Perhaps the most significant addition to the Desktop in Leopard is Stacks--a new feature that lets you place folders in the Dock for quick access to their contents. A default stack in the Dock will be a new unified Downloads folder--downloads from the Web or from e-mail attachments automatically wind up here. The idea behind a Downloads stack is that it will help you keep your Desktop clean while still allowing easy access for downloads with just a single click.
 
he enhancements to the Desktop are covered in much greater detail in our Desktop and Finder changes preview.--JASON SNELL
 
Finder
 
What it is: As with the Desktop, calling the Finder "new" is another way to say "a new look and a few new features." Nevertheless, Leopard's Finder undergoes some significant changes from OS X 10.4.
 
What's new: First and foremost, Leopard includes a remodeled Finder sidebar that looks a lot more like what you already see in the iTunes 7 Source list. The sidebar now groups items together by Devices (hard drives, CDs, DVDs), Shared (network volumes and computers), Places (folders and files on your hard drive), and Search For. As suggested by the Shared header, Leopard places an emphasis on improved connectivity features for Macs on your network as well as other Macs you own. The Shared header in the sidebar shows any computer on your network--including Windows-based PCs--that are sharing files as well as any Mac with screen-sharing enabled. Another feature, Back to My Mac, lets .Mac subscribers connect more easily with remote Macs to share files or even control screens.
 
Probably the most eye-catching change to the Finder is another iTunes 7-inspired addition: a new Cover Flow view to go alongside the existing List, Icon, and Column views. The Cover Flow view shows a live preview of each file's contents; click on the preview for a PDF, for example, and you'll be able to flip through its pages right there in the Finder.
 
Leopard will also see changes to the built-in Spotlight search technology. While those enhancements appear to be little changed from what Apple first previewed in August 2006, it's worth reviewing those changes here. Namely, Spotlight now supports boolean logic, letting you refine searches with terms like "and," "or," and "not"--you can also search for exact phrases, date ranges, absolute dates, and simple calculations. Applications are the first matches returned in a Spotlight search, giving the feature more launcher-like capabilities.
 
The Search For header in the Finder sidebar comes pre-populated with several default searches as well as recently saved Spotlight searches. Also, Leopard's Spotlight will be able to search other local Macs and remote servers, although we're not sure whether these other computers will need to run Spotlight as well.
 
As with the Desktop enhancements, we list the changes to the Finder in greater detail in our Desktop and Finder preview.--JASON SNELL AND PHILIP MICHAELS
 
Time Machine
 
What it is: With more types of files--photos, music, and such--going digital, backing up data becomes ever more important. And yet, most users don't do regular backups. Apple attempts to address this paradox with by building into OS X 10.5 an easy backup tool that will save regular users from mistakenly deleting files or suffering from a catastrophic hard-drive crash.
 
What's changed: From what Apple's demonstrated publicly since first previewing Time Machine in August 2006, not much. But there are some details about the built-in backup technology that are new.
 
When you first attach a new external hard drive to your Mac, Time Machine will offer to use that as your back-up drive. If you click on Enable Time Machine, that's it--Time Machine will back up to that drive on a regular basis, without you having to configure a thing.
 
 Apple's new AirPort Extreme base station includes a feature that lets you attach a USB hard drive to it and share that drive's contents with anyone on your local network. As it turns out, Apple says that Time Machine is perfectly suited to back up all the Macs in your house to that one centralized, networked hard drive. (And for the time it'll take to back up your hard drive via a Wi-Fi connection, you'll want the high speeds of 802.11n offered by the latest version of AirPort Extreme.)
 
Apple's Time Machine page also indicates that you can encrypt your backups if you want, and manually set specific files not to be backed up (presumably large ones).--JASON SNELL
 
Quick Look
 
What it is: Last year, we were all impressed by a feature embedded within Time Machine that let you quickly preview the contents of most documents, without launching the programs that created them. That feature--dubbed Quick Look--is now pervasive in Leopard, especially in the Finder.
 
What's new: Basically an enhanced preview, Quick Look lets you instantly access a live preview of a file without having to open an application. For example, you can view a large, readable preview of a PDF file, and flip through that file's pages, right in the Finder. In the case of a movie or audio file, you can watch the video or listen to the audio with one click. And if the default preview is still too small, another click lets you preview the file at full-screen size.
 
Quick Look supports many common file types--including text, images, movies, PDFs, and Word and Excel documents--out of the box; developers can supply plugins that add Quick Look support for their own documents.
 
This feature should be especially useful for previewing photos and movie files, but it will also come in handy whenever you want to take--well--a quick look at a file without launching another app.--DAN FRAKES
 
Spaces
 
What it is: With today's Macs, which can run so many applications at once, multi-taskers often find their windows cascading endlessly into one another. Apple tackled this problem last August by introducing Spaces, its take on the decades-old technology of virtual desktops.
 
In Leopard, you'll be able to create multiple, distinct desktops--at least nine--each with the applications and windows needed for a particular set of tasks. Instead of having scads of windows competing for screen space, or having to quit and launch groups of apps in order to have some semblance of onscreen order, Spaces offers the best of both worlds: all the applications you need at your fingertips without the clutter. For example, you could allocate one space to Web site work, populating it with iPhoto and iWeb; a "work" space hosting your Excel spreadsheets, a report in Word, and your e-mail client; another hosting your browser and iChat; and a fourth for fun stuff like games and DVD Player. (If you use a virtualization solution such as Parallels or VMWare to run Windows on your Intel-based Mac, you could even set up a space just for--gasp--Windows.)
 
As we outlined in our initial preview of Spaces, you'll be able to get a bird's eye view of your different workspaces by hitting a hotkey a la Exposé. You can toggle back and forth between workspaces via mouse clicks, keyboard commands, or just clicking the Dock icon of any application in a particular workspace.
 
What's Changed: Apple hasn't (publicly) changed Spaces much since that August 2006 preview. Spaces' onscreen display is still an Exposé-like grid that allows you to easily switch between spaces; you also use this display to drag windows between spaces and rearrange the relative positions of the spaces themselves.
 
Many of the questions we had about Spaces last August remain unanswered. We still want to know whether particular windows can appear in multiple spaces, how Spaces will deal with minor issues such as applications minimized to the Dock, and how Spaces will work on older Macs. Hopefully, those answers will come by October.--BRIAN CHEN & DAN FRAKES
 
Safari
 
What it is: When Tiger was unleashed in 2005, Apple updated its in-house browser to Version 2. Leopard will get the same treatment with a brand new version of Safari. The difference? This time, the update is available in beta form from Apple's Web site.
 
What's changed: A dramatically improved Find command finds text on a page via a method that'll be familiar to anyone who's watched game highlights on SportsCenter: the Spot Shadow. When you search for text in Safari, the entire Web page darkens, except for the text that you're searching for. The current selection pops up when you find it, all in orange--you can't miss it.
 
The last major version of Safari added support for multiple tabs in a window; with this version you can drag those tabs around to rearrange them. (It's also easier to save those tabs to a bookmark and re-open your tabbed window if you accidentally close it.) Text boxes on forms are now resizable, which will make people who post in online forums very happy. A semi-transparent inline PDF control in the browser lets you zoom in and out, save a PDF file, or open a file in Preview from within Safari.
 
And if you're a Windows user, well, the whole thing will be new to you--Safari 3 joins the ranks of Apple's cross-platform applications by running on Windows.
 
We've got much more on Safari 3's new features in a first look at the beta, as well as thisvideo tour of the updated browser.--JASON SNELL
 
iChat
 
What it is: Apple's instant messaging client gets its usual overhaul to accompany a major OS X update. In the past, that's meant features like video and audio conferencing, compatibility with other chat protocols and Bonjour support. This time around, Apple's added a number of features, which we outlined when Steve Jobs first previewed the Leopard version of iChat last August.
 
Under Leopard, iChat adds tabbed browsing, a new "invisible" status to hide your online presence from your many admirers, the ability to record audio and video conferences, Photo Booth-like video effects, and the ability to show slideshows, movies or presentations during iChat conferences--Apple dubs this last feature iChat Theater.
 
What's changed: That August 2006 preview of iChat included a Screen Sharing feature, in which you can control the Mac of another conference participant. That feature appears to be incorporated in the Finder in the latest iteration of OS X 10.5.
 
Judging by Steve Jobs' WWDC keynote, Apple has added a number of new effects to iChat--or at least shown effects that it didn't show off last August. These include a Princess Leia-style hologram and the ability to overlay your lips over someone else's portrait. iChat Theater continues to allow you to show off presentations and files during a chat session--the new detail is that any file type compatible with Leopard's Quick Look feature will work in iChat Theater.
 
Another, more practical addition to iChat is the use of the AAC-LD ("LD" for "Low Delay") audio codec. Apple says this widebrand codec samples a full range of vocal frequencies for better-sounding audio chats.--DAN MOREN AND PHILIP MICHAELS
 
Automator
 
What it is: First introduced in Tiger, Automator is a tool to help automate common tasks. It includes a number of actions for various applications that make creating simple workflows as easy as drag-and-drop.
 
What's changed: Apple hasn't talked up the changes to the Leopard version of Automator, but don't expect a program that mirrors its OS X 10.4 predecessor.
 
A new record function in Leopard will let you automate nearly any application, and you can edit the recorded action to further customize it. Automator will offer starting points, which guide you through the first steps of your workflow--for example, "working with photos" and "working with files and folders." The addition of variables means you can store values that might be used in several steps of a workflow, helping you build more complex workflows.
 
Finally, the interface for Automator appears to have received a facelift, including the presence of a Media button on the toolbar, which should give you direct access to your music and photos.--ROB GRIFFITHS
 
Mail
 
What it is: As initially demonstrated last year, Version 3 of Apple Mail features improved integration with information from throughout your Mac. There's a new feature that lets you leave notes for yourself, as well as improved integration with iCal's To-Do items. The new version will also offer Stationery, templates for creating graphics-rich e-mail messages. And ther's new support for RSS, letting you read Web site feeds right within mail.
 
What's changed: Mail 3 seems substantially the same to what we saw a year ago. The program appears to have added more support for intelligently detecting certain types of data, such as addresses, and offering to do useful things with them, such as adding those addresses to appropriate contacts in Address Book. Apple says that Mail 3 will also offer improved support for Spotlight, letting your mail float right to the top when you do a Spotlight search.--JASON SNELL
 
iCal
 
What it is: The new version of Apple's built-in calendaring program provides support for shared calendars that can be edited by multiple users. One of the keys to iCal's newfound social skills: iCal Server, built into the Leopard version of Mac OS X server.
 
What's Changed: The iCal interface has gotten a Leopard-style makeover, which means it looks more like iTunes 7 now, complete with sidebar. You can now double-click on an event in iCal and edit all its details, not just the name of the event, via what Apple calls "the new Inline Inspector window." And you can attach documents to any event's "drop box," attachments that are automatically sent when you send out invitations to that event. It's unclear just how many of iCal's new features will really only work if it's attached to a CalDAV server like the one found in the Leopard version of Mac OS X Server.--JASON SNELL
 
Dashboard
 
What it is: Steve Jobs calls Dashboard "a huge hit" for Apple since its introduction with OS X 10.4, and he's got the numbers to prove it--there are more than 3,000 widgets floating around out there that you can install on OS X 's hidden layer, accessible with just the push of the F12 key.
 
The major changes to Leopard's version of Dashboard were previewed last August. They include Web Clip, actually a button in Safari that lets you turn Web pages into widgets, and Dashcode, a development tool aimed at would-be widget makers. Dashboard will also include .Mac syncing, making it easier to transfer widgets from one Mac to another.
What's changed: Very little since las August. Jobs spent most of his WWDC 2007 keynote recapping the Web Clip and Dashcode features. However, one new detail did come out of that presentation: Apple is adding a movie widget that generates a listing of movies playing in local theaters and their show times; it also allows you to play trailers for current releases and coming attractions.--BRIAN CHEN AND PHILIP MICHAELS
 
The "Complete Package"
 
What it is: Last August, Apple slapped this all inclusive name on a trio of applications--Photo Booth, Front Row, and Boot Camp--that it planned on including with the finished version of OS X 10.5. Those applications aren't available to all current Mac users--Front Row and Photo Booth only came bundled with newer hardware while Boot Camp is a beta that Intel-based Mac users had to download the software themselves. Starting with Leopard, however, they will be.
 
What's changed: See below for details on the three parts of the package.--PHILIP MICHAELS
 
Boot Camp
 
What it is: Introduced in April 2006, Boot Camp lets Macs reboot and run Windows XP or Vista natively, complete with drivers. The Version 1.3 beta was recently released, updating drivers.
 
What's Changed: Jobs covered the Boot Camp highlights in his keynote--namely, that Windows drivers will be included with Leopard's installation discs, saving users the hassle of having to burn a CD of those drivers or install them separately.
 
But Apple may have inadvertently released another new Boot Camp feature on its Web site, before hastily taking it down. For a while, Apple's Boot Camp Web site touted a new item in the Apple menu, "Restart in Windows," which puts your Mac into a "safe sleep" mode rather than shutting it down entirely before rebooting into Windows, along with a corresponding "Restart in Mac OS X" menu item in Windows. The end result of such a capability: You still won't be able to run Windows and Mac OS X simultaneously without Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion, but you'll be able to switch back and forth between the two Windows more easily--and without having to sit through a full shutdown and restart. We'll see if that now-removed promise of a new feature appears in the final version of Leopard, but it certainly sounds compelling.--JASON SNELL
 
Front Row
 
What it is: Introduced in October 2005, Front Row provides a remote-control-driven interface to media on your Mac, including music, videos, and photos.
 
What's changed: Since Front Row's release, it's been superseded by the software on the Apple TV.
 
And it looks as if that same Apple TV software has been rolled back into Front Row. The images on Apple's marketing page for Front Row make it appear that the Leopard version of Front Row will essentially be a Mac-based version of the same functionality found on the Apple TV.--JASON SNELL
 
Photo Booth
 
What it is: Introduced in October 2005 at the same time as Front Row, Photo Booth is a small application that uses an iSight camera to take quick photos, including ones tricked out with lots of fun special effects.
 
What's changed: Leopard brings more effects to the built-in snapshot editor. Users can take photos and videos from their iPhoto and iMovie libraries as well as the stock photography that comes with Leopard and use those images as backdrops for Photo Booth pictures; the Leopard version of iChat includes a similar feature. Photo Booth files will automatically appear in iPhoto on Mac OS X 10.5; currently, those images are housed in the Photo Booth folder within your Pictures folder A new burst effect lets users take four successive shots, presented in a four-up, interactive layout that can be animated with a click. And once Leopard arrives, Photo Booth will also be able to capture video in addition to still shots.--PHILIP MICHAELS
 
Accessibility
 
What it is: Apple's tools for users with physical impairments get a major upgrade in Leopard. A new text-to-speech engine features a voice, Alex, that sounds far more natural than what Apple has offered previously. The VoiceOver screen-reading tool is also upgraded, and also supports Grade 2 contracted Braille devices.
 
What's changed: The new NumPad Commander lets you transform your keypad into quick access to commonly used VoiceOver commands. VoiceOver also lets you set hot spots over accessible windows and notifies you of any changes in those areas. QuickTime features improved closed-captioning support. And all your accessibility preferences can sync to your other Macs via .Mac.--JASON SNELL
 
DVD Player
 
What it is: DVD Player is the OS X application that handles DVD movie playback. It didn't really get much press last year when Leopard's features were initially previewed, but Apple has sure made up for that this time.
 
What's new: DVD Player has received a major feature upgrade from its Tiger predecessor. A new full-screen interface gives you easy access to playback controls, subtitles, and alternative audio tracks, as well as image, color, and audio settings.
 
An Auto Zoom button scales the movie to remove the black bars (letterbox) from the image (it does so, of course, by trimming width from the picture). A playback position bar--similar to what you see in QuickTime Player--lets you quickly drag-scroll forward or backward to any point in the movie. Use the new image bar to save bookmark locations, images you'd like to see again, and even full video clips. Once saved, you'll be able to see the bookmarks, images, and video clips any time you play that DVD again.--ROB GRIFFITHS
 
Parental Controls
 
What it is: Mac OS X's feature that allows parents to limit the capabilities of specific accounts. For example, Parental Controls can be used to restrict Mail and iChat to particular contacts; limit Safari browsing to parent-provided bookmarks; and limit the user's ability to change settings, burn discs, and hide "mature" words in the system-wide Dictionary.
 
What's Changed: Apple hasn't released many details about Leopard's version of Parental Controls, but from what we can glean from publicly-available information, Parental Controls in Leopard gets its own pane in System Preferences (rather than just a set of options in Accounts). Whereas Tiger's version lets you limit an account' Web browsing to those sites manually entered by an administrator in Safari, Leopard adds a new content filter that actually intercepts Web pages and determines, on the fly, if each is "suitable for kids," blocking those that aren't. (You can also use the Tiger approach to manually add sites that you want blocked or allowed, bypassing the content filter for those URLs.)
 
Leopard also adds time limits to Parental Controls: you can set up specific times during which a child is allowed to log in and use the Mac--with different times on weekdays than on weekends--as well as how long a Controlled account can be used at any one time. Leopard can also log a Controlled account's activities to keep track of people with whom your child has e-mailed or chatted; which applications have been used; and which Web sites have been visited. You can even monitor a Controlled account from another Mac on your home network.--DAN FRAKES
 
http://www.techworld.nl/idgns/3471/leopard-preview-whats-new-in-os-x-10punt5.html
 

The Chattanoogan, Tennessee USA
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
 
EPB Offers New Service For Visually Impaired Customers
 
Realizing that the population of those who are visually impaired is growing both nationally and locally, EPB decided to offer a new service giving customers with less-than-perfect vision the option to have their bills printed in a larger type.
 
An estimated 14 million Americans - slightly more than six percent of the population - over the age of 12 are visually impaired, according to a new study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
 
"We realized that a small percentage of our customers were unable to read the standard print text on their bills," said Kathy Burns, EPB's Vice President of Customer Relations. "Offering the large-print bill option is just another way we can provide a much needed service to our customers."
 
Over the past several years, EPB has provided many new billing and payment options for customers such as extended drive-thru business hours, additional pay stations, two branch offices that provide Saturday hours, and much more. Officials stated that EPB continually strives to offer customers more choices, flexibility and opportune ways to conduct business.
 
To learn more about the large print bill option as well as other services, please call 648-1EPB (1372) or visit www.epb.net.
 
 

News & Star (Cumbria, UK)
Thursday, June 21, 2007
 
Jobs needed for blind
 
By STEWART BLAIR
 
Caption: 'Vital': MP Eric Martlew is calling on businesses to consider employing blind people
 
A CUMBRIAN MP is urging county businesses to halt "unacceptable" levels of unemployment among the blind.
 
Despite advances in technology allowing blind and partially sighted people to join the workforce, two thirds are still out of work.
 
Carlisle MP Eric Martlew will address a business summit organised by charity Action for Blind People next Friday where he will urge local firms to open their eyes to the potential of the visually impaired.
 
He said: "I believe it is vital that blind and partially sighted people are given every opportunity to develop their talents. It is only through government and employers working with organisations such as Action for Blind People, that we shall start to tackle the unacceptable level of unemployment among visually impaired people."
 
Business people attending next week's event will be told about developments such as talking computers, known as 'screen readers', that make it easier for the visually impaired to work.
 
They will also be advised of technical assistance and support available to visually impaired members of staff, as well as the financial assistance through the Access to Work programme.
 
Action for Blind People employment coordinator Angela McLaughlin said: "We want to engage with local enthusiastic employers, who want to diversify their workforce, to provide better employment opportunities for visually impaired people."
 
The event, called the Employers Business Breakfast, runs from 9-11.30am at Carlisle Racecourse, Durdar Road, Carlisle, next Friday. Anyone interested in attending should call Angela McLaughlin on 01228 595121.
 
MLegg@cngroup.co.uk
 
http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/unknown/viewarticle.aspx?id=512238
 

White Cane Media
info@whitecane.co.uk
 
20 June 2007: For Immediate Release
 
White Cane Media is proud to announce the launch of its web site design and hosting service catering specifically for the blind and visually impaired.
 
The new service will be the first of its kind, and is intended to increase the number of blind and visually impaired Internet users who have their own web sites.
 
The founder of White Cane Media, David Goodwin, is himself blind. David has been involved in web site design and management since 1995, and has a sound understanding of the needs and concerns of blind and visually impaired webmasters.
 
Commenting on the launch of the new service, David said "the Internet has changed forever the lives of blind people. Our service is just another way through which the blind and visually impaired can explore and harness the opportunities that the Internet can offer."
 
"Whether people want to promote their business, share news and information, express their thoughts through a personal blog, create an online discussion forum on their favourite topic, or share pictures through an online photo album, our new service will provide the perfect opportunity."
 
The new service offers a range of hosting and web site design options that will cater for all levels of knowledge and experience. A basic hosting account is available for those who already have a good level of expertise, or are keen to learn for themselves, whilst there are a number of other options and features for fledgling webmasters who require a little more help in getting a web site up and running quickly and smoothly.
 
For more information visit www.whitecane.co.uk
 
ends-
 
About White Cane Media
 
White Cane Media was established in 2007 to provide web site solutions to blind and visually impaired webmasters. The founder, David Goodwin, has been involved in web site design and management since 1995. David is blind himself, and has a sound understanding of the specific needs and concerns  of blind and visually impaired webmasters. White Cane Media is based in the South West of England, but has clients from around the world. The company offers a broad range of web services that are intended to meet the needs of both individuals and small businesses.
 
For more information please visit www.whitecane.co.uk
 
 
(Via email)
 

CatererSearch.com (UK)
Thursday, June 21, 2007
 
Hotels will lose out if their websites don't comply with the DDA
 
By Christopher Walton
 
(21 June 2007 13:00)
 
Hotels are still flouting the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and losing business because their websites do not comply with the regulations, a new survey has revealed.
 
The DDA 2002 requires that the visually and hearing impaired are provided with "accessible websites".
 
But online bookings operator iknow-UK has warned that a substantial proportion of hotel websites are still "in breach of the law".
 
Marcus Simmons, managing director of iknow-UK, said while the vast majority of hotels, bed and breakfasts and holiday cottage owners now had their own websites, a considerable number of them did not take into account disabled access when they designed their sites.
 
"The deadline for businesses to make sure their sites had the minimum requirement for disabled users was more than five years ago but many are still in breach of the law," he added.
 
Bringing sites up to date would mean improving the clarity of text and increasing the number of audio and video files for partially sighted users.
 
Alyson Rose, a Disability Rights Commission spokeswoman, said: "Websites will only be changed if individuals challenge them, but disabled people are voting with their feet and going to the sites that are tailored for them. Businesses are losing out."
 
Michael McGrath, disability champion for Hilton Hotels, UK and Ireland, said he hoped the issue of website accessibility would be resolved in two to three years' time.
 
With the number of disabled people in the country standing at more than 10 million, "there is an economic imperative to get this sorted," McGrath added.
http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2007/06/21/314427/hotels-will-lose-out-if-their-websites-dont-comply-with-the.html
At the business desk, I'm Alix Shadonnay wishing you a pleasant day.

Special info for interpreters

Hi everyone!  I'm Heather DeMarco at the business desk and this morning I'd like to spread the word to all interpreters. 
We received a request to spread the word from one of our associates who received it from one of their readers.  The message was submitted by Nataly Kelly.
Hope you find it exciting and interesting.
 

***CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS***
July 18, 2007
 

Dear Interpreter,
 
What an important job you do each day, and what fascinating tales you must have to tell about the people you’ve encountered, the conversations you’ve interpreted, and most importantly, the lives you’ve touched.
 
Now, you have the perfect opportunity to share these stories in an enduring publication, so that others may read them for years to come. The only question is this: which of the many stories you’ve saved up over the years will you decide to share with the world?
 
The FAQ and Guidelines at the official website, www.fromourlips.com, will help you choose, and will also show you how to ensure the best chance of publication in an exciting new book that is all about you and your important work:
 
From Our Lips to Your Ears: How Interpreters are Changing the World
 
The project website will provide you with all of the information you need. Here are some of the basics:
 
• Interpreters working in all settings are encouraged to submit stories.
• Stories should aim to provide readers with a greater understanding of the importance of interpreters’ work
• Submissions are accepted online, via email and via postal mail, starting on July 18, 2007.
• The final deadline for submissions is December 3, 2007.
 
If you have questions after reviewing the information on the website, feel free to contact me, and I will be happy to attend to your concerns. As additional questions from potential contributors are received, the FAQ, Guidelines and related materials will also be updated accordingly.
 
It is both an honor and a pleasure to be working on this exciting project, in the hopes that it will help bring greater recognition to interpreters everywhere.
 
Respectfully,
 

Nataly Kelly, Editor
From Our Lips to Your Ears
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Language Interpreters to be Featured in New Book
 
July 18, 2007 — Nashua, N.H. — The publication of a new book that will showcase interpreters and their contributions to society was announced today.  From Our Lips to Your Ears: How Interpreters are Changing the World marks the first published compendium of stories about this unique and complex profession from the perspective of interpreters themselves.
 
“Millions of people throughout the world communicate each day without sharing a common language,” explained Nataly Kelly, editor of the publication, “This book shines a light on the unsung heroes that enable much of this communication to take place.”
 
The book will include personal anecdotes from interpreters working in an array of settings, Kelly said. “Interpreters are out there each day, helping deliver babies, interpreting witness testimony, rendering the words of foreign diplomats, and assisting consumers who wish to purchase goods and services.”
 
The stories in the collection will cover a range of topics of interest to the general public, Kelly pointed out. “This book shows how interpreters are helping meet a basic human need— the need to communicate with others.”
 
More information about the book is available at http://www.fromourlips.com.
 
The web site also provides detailed information for interpreters who would like to share their stories for possible publication in the book.
 
Contact:
 
Nataly Kelly, 603/891-1101
Fax: 877/572-0779
Email: editor@fromourlips.com
http://www.fromourlips.com
 
 
Now for some important info for those who are looking for professional help in the translation arena.
 
Are you looking for skilled and experienced translators/writers/researchers to help you craft your articles, blogs, business letters, emails, faxes, newsletters, and proposals in multi languages? 
Are you seeking skilled and experienced language coaches to help you learn the English language more quickly and efficiently?
Then you need to visit the folks at www.translationpeople.com.  Here you'll find a team that guarantees quick turn around, professional work, and total confidentiality.  Prices are extremely affordable and services are offered in English, Spanish, French, Cantonese, and Mandarin.
Check out the free useful information page while you're there and for absolutely free you can also tap into the latest trends and headlines.
 
At the business desk, I'm Hather Demarco withing you a pleasant day.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The large challenge of small devices

Good day everyone!  I'm Jeff N Marquis at the business desk and I'd like to start the week by sharing an article with you.  I found this one recently and thought enlightening enough for me to want to let you have a read.
Hope you enjoy it and find it of some interest.
 
AFB Accessworld, American Foundation for the Blind, USA
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
 
The Large Challenge of Small Devices: A First Look at the Mobile Device Landscape
 
By Bradley Hodges
 
According to many technology annalists, the era of the PC is over. Consider, if you will, the media frenzy that surrounded the announcement of the Apple iPhone, an unreleased product. The unavoidable coverage of the event provides a glimpse at the importance of handheld technology. Recall the images and descriptions of Steve Jobs waving his finger in front of a five-inch screen, whipping iPod devotees into a frenzy of iPhone lust. Try to watch a TV program without a cell phone company tempting you with miniaturized technology to organize your life; download and listen to music; watch TV; text message your friends; and, oh yes, even place a telephone call. All these things and many more are possible with currently available handheld technology. When you consider the functions that are packed into smartphones and Pocket PC devices, prices can be surprisingly low.
 
If this revolution that is happening in the palms of people's hands is so important, how do people who use nonvisual techniques stand to benefit? Or do we? In this article, I address the three basic types of handheld technology that are in common use. I describe how they are similar and the important ways in which they differ. Strategies and programs that provide accessibility to these products are described, and I conclude with some thoughts on which devices may be best suited to your situation.
 
Pocket PCs
Pocket PCs are a specific class of a broad category of devices that are often referred to as PDAs or personal digital assistants. To be sold as a Pocket PC, a device must include some specific characteristics, which are important to understand. In addition to complying with hardware standards, Pocket PCs are intended to be companion devices that you regularly connect to a personal computer that is running the Windows operating system.
 
All new Pocket PCs run on an operating system from Microsoft called Windows Mobile. Windows Mobile bundles some applications that have been tailored to operate on a handheld device with a basic operating system. These applications include Pocket Word and Pocket Excel.
 
Pocket PCs also share some physical characteristics. The most obvious is a touch screen. The touch screen allows you to tap, with a stylus or fingertip, on regions of the screen or icons to perform specific tasks, such as opening e-mail or the calendar. The appearance of the touch screen resembles the Windows desktop that is common to PCs that run Windows. In addition to the touch screen, several buttons and controls are included on all Pocket PCs. One such control is a five-way directional navigation key to perform many navigation tasks, as the arrow keys do on a conventional PC. The Enter button is located in the center of this control. In addition, four function keys, sometimes called soft keys, two on each side of the Navigation key, are found on all Pocket PCs. The action of these keys is dependent on the application that is running.
 
Beyond the touch screen and basic controls, Pocket PCs may include additional keys. The most common addition to the basics is a miniature keyboard. Sometimes called thumb keys, the rows and columns of these miniature keys are laid out in the traditional style of a QWERTY computer keyboard. Some designs place the QWERTY keys on the face of the Pocket PC, below the screen and navigation keys, whereas others use a slide-out keyboard that is oriented along the long axis of the device.
 
Regardless of the specific design, the primary functions of a Pocket PC are centered on the Windows Mobile package. "Pocket" versions of familiar Microsoft programs, including Pocket Word, Pocket Excel, Pocket Internet Explorer, and Pocket PowerPoint, are intended to give on-the-go access to files that are shared with a desktop computer. Third-party programs can also be installed on the Pocket PC. Many popular Windows applications offer "Pocket" versions.
 
Because Pocket PCs fit easily in the hand, it is not surprising that cell phone technology has been built into some of them. Dubbed "Pocket PC phones," these models often fill out the high end of a manufacturer's line. On Pocket PC phones, selected keys on the QWERTY keyboard perform double duty as a keypad for the phones. While telephone functions are included, the look and feel of the screens and navigation remain similar to Pocket PC models that do not include a cell phone.
 
Several fundamental characteristics of the Pocket PC have important implications for nonvisual use. The most important is the manner in which the Pocket PC handles turning on and off. Unlike a desktop computer, the Pocket PC is never truly off. A sleep state can be invoked. This is the closest comparison to the "off" state on computers and PDAs that are designed for people who are blind, such as the PAC Mate or BrailleNote. While the Pocket PC is in the sleep mode, controls can be activated, requiring that care be taken when using the device. Many Pocket PCs have a key-lock control to prevent accidental activation while in the sleep mode.
 
Some Pocket PCs encounter difficulty if the battery is allowed to discharge completely. Losing all power can cause a catastrophic loss of data in some models. Other models require that a visual screen calibration be completed before they are rebooted from a discharged condition.
 
Smartphones
 Reading descriptions of the seemingly endless parade of mobile devices, it is no wonder that people are confused by the terms Pocket PC and smartphone. A Pocket PC phone is a conventional Pocket PC that includes cell phone technology. A smartphone is primarily a cell phone that includes some additional functions that are found on Pocket PCs. Differentiating between the two types of devices is not always easy. Smartphones most often use a conventional cell phone-style keypad, although some models now offer full QWERTY keyboards. Smartphones are designed for one-handed operation like traditional cell phones. The interface of a smartphone is similar to that of a cell phone and does not include the touch-screen desktop that is found on Pocket PCs. The interface is comprised of two soft keys, a joystick, and Home and Back buttons. Navigation on the smartphone differs from that on the Pocket PC. Icons for functions are displayed on the screen in a grid arrangement. Selections are made from the grid by entering the number for the desired function or navigating to it with the joystick.
 
You enter text on a smartphone using one of two methods: a QWERTY keyboard, if available, or the multipress and predictive text (also known as T9) if the phone has the traditional mobile keyboard layout.
 
Smartphones focus on phone tasks and functions. The information that is presented on the primary screen of a smartphone includes messages, missed calls, profiles, and recently used applications. Screens on smartphones are generally smaller and have a lower resolution than their Pocket PC counterparts. Smartphones are generally less expensive than Pocket PCs, especially those that include cell phone technology.
 
Symbian Phones
In addition to the two members of the Microsoft clan, Pocket PCs and smartphones, there is another family of devices that provide mobile functionality: cell phones that are based on the Symbian operating system. Like smartphones, Symbian phones are phones that also include some basic PDA functionality, such as a calendar, address book contact manager, file viewer, and music player. In addition, third-party applications are becoming increasingly available for Symbian phones. In the United States, the lion's share of Symbian sales are models that are manufactured by Nokia.
 
Staying Connected
Pocket PCs include the ability to browse the web, handle e-mail in real time, and run messaging software--as long as they are connected to the Internet. Several methods of connecting to the web are available to Pocket PC designers. The first is WiFi connectivity, the same wireless technology that is used in most laptops and some desktop computers. If the Pocket PC has WiFi built in and if a network is available, the device can perform tasks that require access to the Internet or a corporate network. Many public WiFi hot spots provide access, either as a complimentary service or on a fee-for-use basis. Home WiFi routers are also a popular way to connect wirelessly for Internet access.
 
Built-in broadband access is another technology that links the Pocket PC to the Internet through a cellular network. This technology is most commonly found on Pocket PC phones that access a cellular network. Unlike WiFi hot spots, a network connection should be available wherever a cellular signal is found. A monthly fee, in addition to normal cell charges, is charged for the service, which typically ranges from $20 to $60 or more.
 
Smartphones and Symbian phones always include the technology that allows them to connect to the Internet through their cellular carriers. A monthly fee, typically $20 to $60, is charged for the service. Some cell phone providers also bill for data on a pay-as-you-go schedule. WiFi is being introduced on some new smartphones, further blurring the line between the categories of devices.
 
Bluetooth and infrared are technologies that allow Pocket PCs, smartphones, and Symbian phones to connect to other devices. Bluetooth is the more commonly used of these technologies. Intended to connect devices within 30 feet or less, Bluetooth is a wireless method for connecting keyboards, headphones, two-way phone earpieces, and a variety of other peripheral devices. The process of establishing a Bluetooth connection between a device and a Pocket PC or cell phone, referred to as "partnering" or "pairing," can be complex and inconvenient. The number of Bluetooth peripherals that can communicate with your Pocket PC or cell phone at any time may be limited to just one.
 
Managing software and files on the Pocket PC is facilitated through Microsoft Active synch for Windows XP and earlier versions. Windows Vista includes an integrated synchronization utility that is launched automatically when a compatible device running Microsoft Mobile is connected. Functionally, once your Pocket PC is connected to a Windows computer, several important tasks can be completed. The first task that many Pocket PC owners perform is e-mail and contact synchronizing, or synching. Synching means that if you have added or deleted contact information on your Pocket PC since the last time you connected to your Windows machine, your contacts will be updated on the host computer. Conversely, changes to contact information on the desktop system will be reflected in the Pocket PC address book after synching has concluded. E-mail messages that you create on your Pocket PC can be transferred to the desktop system and sent, and new messages that have been received since your last synch will be downloaded to your Pocket PC.
 
Other programs that provide information that is regularly updated can also communicate with the Pocket PC application to make changes in the information that is available to you. The Zagat restaurant review program is a popular Pocket PC application that provides ratings and addresses for restaurants. As the information about the ratings changes and restaurants are added and dropped, the Zagat program on your PC will collect updated data from the Internet and share the changes with your Pocket PC each time you run Active synch. Finally, Active synch is used to install and remove third-party programs from your Pocket PC. This management also extends to managing files and allows you to make some changes to and to update the Mobile Windows operating system.
 
Smartphones and Symbian phones can also be connected to your computer. Unlike the Pocket PC, which is a companion technology, smartphones and Symbian phones do not expect or require that you will connect them regularly to a Windows computer. Because smartphones run a Microsoft operating system, Windows Active synch is used just as it is for Pocket PCs. Symbian phones use a separate desktop application to link the phone to the personal computer. The functions that this program performs are the same as those that Windows Active synch includes.
 
Peripherals
Since Pocket PCs are small, many computer users cannot manage the five-way navigation button or Lilliputian keys. For these individuals, and the rest of us, a thriving market of devices has emerged. The goal of most of these devices is to provide an alternative to the Pocket PC interface.
 
Because the touch screen may pose access issues for those who use the Pocket PC nonvisually, many of the peripherals that are optional for most users are important alternatives for nonvisual users. Two popular Bluetooth keyboards are commonly used with Pocket PCs: the Think Outside Bluetooth Keyboard and the HP Folding Keyboard. Each is a Bluetooth add-on. Each folds up into a pocket-sized self-contained package; when it is unfolded, the keyboard resembles the keyboard on a laptop computer. The Think Outside unit has no number row; to enter a number, you hold down a function key in combination with the top row of letter keys. The HP Folding Keyboard is a bit larger and includes a full number row. Several larger keyboards, with a footprint about the size of a notebook computer, are attractive to those who need a full complement of keys and have the space to transport them.
 
Listening in to a Pocket PC, smartphone or Symbian phone is possible with the built-in speaker that is included on all these devices. The volume of these speakers is relatively low, and voice and musical fidelity is seriously limited. This is of particular concern to those who use synthetic speech as part of a package that provides access. To solve this problem, an array of Bluetooth headsets are available. A variety of manufacturers, including HP, Motorola, and Nokia, sell compatible headsets. An alternative to a headset that covers both ears is an earpiece, which is available from manufacturers of cell phones and Pocket PCs. The advantage of an earpiece is that you can use it to talk on the phone without affecting the hearing in both ears. Listening to a Pocket PC speak and attending to other sounds in the environment may be easier with an earpiece that covers just one ear.
 
Choosing a Technology
Pocket PCs, smartphones, and Symbian phones each offer advantages and have limitations. Careful consideration and some research will help ensure that the technology and device that you select will provide the results that you are looking for. Stable functional screen-reading software is available for all three categories of devices. Code Factory offers the widest array of products with screen reading and magnification for all three kinds of devices. If you are not comfortable managing downloadable software and connecting a device to your computer for installation, you need to find a dealer who can assist you. Dealers can also provide packages that are ready to go. TALKS is a screen-reading and magnification program that operates only on Symbian devices. The same process of downloading and installing it on a device is necessary. Dealers of TALKS can provide out-of-the-box solutions.
 
Pricing among the three categories of devices differs substantially. Smartphones and Symbian phones are offered at deep discounts by cellular providers. Pocket PCs, which must be purchased on their own, are the most expensive of these devices, but they do not come with a string to a cellular company attached. Smartphones are available from $99 with a cellular contract. Pocket PCs with no phone connectivity are typically available from $200. Including a cellular function adds approximately $125.
 
Training for these devices contributes to a successful and positive experience. It is fair to say that these devices are not as intuitive or consistent in their behavior as are special-purpose devices, such as the PAC Mate or BrailleNote. In addition to downloadable manuals from Code Factory and Nuance Technology's TALKS, a variety of recorded demonstrations can be found online. Two web sites that feature many articles on mobile computing are <www.blindcooltech.com> and <www.acbradio.org>.
 
Generally, Pocket PC technology has a high geek factor and is popular mainly among the technically adventuresome. The "build-it-yourself" nature of installing and configuring software to provide access and the requirements for learning to navigate and operate the device create a steeper learning curve than the phone-centered devices. At the same time, Pocket PCs can open a world of highly productive and extremely mobile features and programs.
 
Phone-based devices offer a more focused experience in which the operation of the phone is the primary activity. Those who desire a handheld organizer, telephone, e-mail system, and web browser may want to give the smartphone or Symbian-based models first consideration. Extras that allow you to create and edit documents, listen to music, and so forth are also available. These extra functions and third-party programs may not be as advanced as those for Pocket PCs. Regardless of the device that you choose and the access strategy that you use, advanced planning to learn how to use your new toy is the most important step you can take.
 
A Preliminary Look at Access
Mobile Speak Pocket and Pocket Hal are the two screen readers that are intended to provide access to Windows Mobile devices. Both products are software applications that are installed on off-the-shelf Pocket PCs. To get a feel for the Pocket PC experience with speech, we at AFB TECH obtained Mobile Speak Pocket, which is marketed in the United States by HumanWare. We also received a similar system featuring Pocket Hal, which will be reviewed in a future issue of AccessWorld. In addition, we will conduct and report on a more comprehensive review of the HumanWare Mobile Speak Pocket system.
 
What You Get
For now, let us take a quick look at what $600 buys. Our system arrived from HumanWare in a sturdy box. The packaging for all components was provided by the manufacturer of each piece of equipment. Opening the box revealed a Dell Axium 50 Pocket PC, a USB charging stand, a Bluetooth keyboard, and a shrink-wrapped print manual and Pocket PC CD. No braille, large-print, or recorded documentation was included with the package.
 
Getting Started
The On/Off button on most Pocket PCs is located on the face of the unit, above the touch screen. Because I am somewhat familiar with this class of technology, I knew where to look. Pressing the On button results in no audible response from the Pocket PC. After experimenting several times, I learned that it is necessary to hold the On button for at least a full second. The difficulty of managing on and off reveals one of the more unsavory features of Pocket PC devices. They are really never off. The screen turns off, indicating that the device is in a sleep mode. Pressing buttons can wake it up, however, so care must be taken when using and managing the device.
 
Pressing the Navigation key caused the system to speak. "List, no items" was announced after I pressed the Up arrow, and "edit" was announced after I pressed the Down arrow. If you are not familiar with the Pocket PC interface, you will be hard pressed to make any further use of your new technology right out of the box.
 
Next Steps
Because I had encountered the Mobile Speak Pocket interface in the past, I was aware that the software makes use of the touch screen. Mobile Speak divides the touch screen into 4 quadrants. Each quadrant can be tapped once, tapped twice quickly, or touched and held for a longer time. This results in 3 control functions for each of the 4 quadrants, providing a total of 12 functions that can be performed from the touch screen alone.
 
In addition to the touch screen controls, the nine hardware controls that are situated below the screen are used. The Alt key, second from the left on the Dell Pocket PC, if pressed four times in succession, will place the system into Command Help Mode, a key-identification mode. From this describer function, it is possible to tap, double tap, press, and hold the screen controls and generally to explore the hardware controls. The functions for the keys are announced clearly and concisely.
 
The documentation for Mobile Speak Pocket is available in PDF (portable document format) on Code Factory's web site. It is readable with screen readers, but should be available in a more accessible format. It should also be included in the product's package.
 
First Attempt
According to Command Help, tapping the upper left quadrant twice takes you to the Start menu. I was successful in activating the menu as described. Using the Up/Down arrow keys moved among the 11 items. Mobile Speak announced the menu item, its number on the list, and the total number of items on the menu. Moving to calendar, a popular Pocket PC application, I found that pressing the Enter button opened the application. The Up and Down arrows read "no items." Relying on the information while in Command Help, I pressed and held Quadrant 2 for help. No help was provided; the unit was silent.
 
Experimentation again was my only recourse. Tabbing revealed three items: "date edit, press Enter to display the month calendar, followed by "list, no items" and "cap s, 1 of 10." Further exploration disclosed that the date was set for Wednesday, August 3, 2005. I was not able to determine how to change the date and time within the time that was available to me.
 
I did not use the Bluetooth keyboard for this first look. Mobile Speak Pocket features an innovative approach to leveraging expanded control functionality from the device itself. The system of tap and hold worked well most of the time. The speech is not as easily interrupted as on a desktop using a conventional screen reader. Given the limited resources and architectural limitations of the Windows Mobile environment, this is not unexpected, and Code Factory manages these limitations well.
 
Shutting Down
The process of turning off the Pocket PC is similar to that of turning it on. Pressing the Power button for a second turns off the screen. No audible tone signals turn off. A key-lock slide control allows you to deactivate the keyboard and touch screen.
 
First Impressions
Mobile Speak Pocket is a technically sophisticated application that provides clear speech and 100% stability. At the same time, significant lapses in consistency and an immature interface make the experience frustrating, and the product was difficult to use. Without prompts to alert the novice Windows Mobile user in matters of navigation, the promise of a quick easy-to-use set of on-the-go applications is empty. Help messages that should be available, according to the command Help, are missing.
 
For its part, HumanWare delivered the hardware and preinstalled software packed nicely in a sturdy box. The absence of accessible documentation fails to meet the usual standards of other ready-to-use packages from this company. We found out that systems that were shipped after our unit was received included a one-page braille and print Getting Started document.
 
Is the Pocket PC for You?
If you plan to order a system, open the box, turn it on, and be up and running, then Windows Mobile systems are not for you. This technology generally appeals to the technically adventuresome user who has the time and knowledge to manage the required learning and setup that are associated with applications that are downloaded and installed by the user.
 
If portability; integration of your technology with cell phone functionality; exploring applications, such as Audible Manager; and reading books in WMA (Windows Media) format appeal, then investing the time and effort to configure and learn the Windows Mobile interface can be fruitful. Mobile Speak Pocket is stable, has good support tools available, and felt and sounded responsive and solid.
 
This first look approached the use of the HumanWare Mobile Speak Pocket package, comparing it to taking the first steps with a PDA that is designed for people who are blind. We expected a ready-to-go, convenience-oriented experience. That is not what we found. For our full review, we will roll up our sleeves and approach the task at hand from the vantage point of complexity and the requirement to do it yourself. The point is simple: The Windows Mobile environment is not the easy-to-use digital playground that some have described. In fact, the use of the Pocket PC interface is at least as complex as its desktop kin. We will explore this environment further in our full review.
 
Related articles
Talk Me Through It: A Review of Two Cell Phone-based Screen Readers by Darren Burton
http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw080103
 
An Accessible Phone Comes Calling: A Review of the Jitterbug Cell Phone by Lee Huffman
http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw080203
 
Read AFB accessworld online.   At
http://www.afb.org/aw
http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw080306
In the spirit of accessibility I'd like to leav you with some vital info for your websites.
 
Looking for ideas and opportunities to crack the over 50s market?  The baby boomer market?  The seniors market?  Other niche markets?
Are you seeking opportunities in markets that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe?
Are you having difficulty keeping abreast of important trends and news items because you're either too busy or don't know where to look?
Then you need to visit www.sterlingcreations.ca and there you'll find a suite of services that can help you to get where you want to go.
From writing to research, and translation to transcription.  There is even a free monthly online magazine that is crammed with very vital and valuable information.  You can even keep abreast of breaking trends and headlines for absolutely free.
Check it out at your convenience.
 
At the business desk, I'm Jeff N Marquis wishing you a pleasant evening.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Abundant opportunitiesfor translators and interpreters

Hello there!  I'm Matt Chadwick at the business desk and this aft I'd like to shine the light on a very growing and prosperous industry.
I'm referring to the translation industry and whereas many take this industry for  granted, it's time to start changing our tumes. 
With the ballooning growth of global trade, the demand for translators and interpreters is literally skyrocketing and these days many countries are literally falling over each other to do trade with each other.  The entire thing resembles a massive traffic jam with everyone desperately attempting to forge ahead but in order to do this they need to put a very strong and durable infrastructure in place. 
This infrastructure includes the capability to have translators and interpreters at the beck and call to translate and interpret information of all kinds.  Many countries whose first language is English are seeking translators and interpreters to translate and interpret to and from English.  Likewise for those countries whose first language is not English.
Here in the United States, Uncle Sam, large corporations, as well as medium sized companies and small businesses, international organizations, and even entrepreneurs, are all thrashing around looking for translators and interpreters to help out.  What many don't fully realize is that without the skills and services of translators and interpreters, global trade would literally grind to a complete halt.  We need translators and interpreters to keep things going.  We depend on translators and interpreters to spread the word on what's going on everywhere.  We need translators and interpreters to keep us abreast of what's going on elsewhere outside our country and beyond our borders.
I'll even tell you that there's a shortage of translators and interpreters and Americans are becoming more and more aware of this.  So much so that the going rate for translators services has jumped by over 40% in the last year and has jumped by over 50% for interpreters.  The beauty about the translation industry is that one can choose to either work from home or do it through agencies, or through employment at companies.
Hey!  Think of this!  You can do written translations from home either through the Internet or for others.  You can do it on-site.  You can interpret through the Internet or via phone.  Heck!  You can do it from anywhere you choose and pretty soon you will have the chance to start naming your own rates!
The business experts are saying that within the next five years a home based translation business may even expect to be making well into the six figures annual income.
So there you have it.  Food for thought. 
 
Now for our Amazon book picks of the week.
 

Wake up to wealth

By Robert Steven Mandel

This is a book for anyone who has an interest in seeking out new business horizons.  The author is taking the time to present some very insightful thoughts and ideas, and it makes for very good reading.

 

The 100 best businesses to start when you don't want to work hard anymore

By Lisa Rogak

So many of us don't really want to work hard anymore and age does not really matter.  For those about to retire it's a great book.  For those who are just plain old tired of working, then read it. 
 
Untapped Wealth Discovered
By Jeff N marquis, and Kerry J Harrison
This book definitely speaks to those who don't really know how to start looking for business opportunities.  it devotes a section to the translation market and if you're serious about finding riches in niches, then please buy this book. 
 
Now for some additional info for those budding translators and interpreters.
 
Are you looking for experienced multi lingual translators and writers?
Experienced professionals who can help you to write and translate, proof read and edit, and research plus more?
Are you looking for professionals who can help you to write and speak flawless English?
Having problems getting that right someone to help you proof read, edit, and research the appropriate information?
Then you need to contact the staff at www.translationpeople.com.
You can even download free useful information updated weekly and at absolutely no cost you can also keep abreast of the latest trends and headlines updated daily.
 
At the business desk, I'm Matt Chadwick wishing you a happy weekend.

Friday, July 20, 2007

More teens benefitting from business opportunities plus more

Greetings everyone!  I'm Jayna Sheffield at the business desk and I'm here to spread the word that more and more tens are joking the business world. 
No!  No joke!  Because of the growing trend towards the encouragement of teens to become their own business persons at an earlier age, our landscape in the business arena as we know it today will soon be one that we will have difficulty recognizing.  There was a time when our businesses and by businesses I mean small and medium sized businesses were being run by persons in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.  Now, however, the minimum age for business owners is dropping quite rapidly and what we're seeing today is that more and more teens are entering the business world and taking their rightful places at the helms of their very own business creations.
There is a trend presently sweeping across America which has been named the teen business idea trend by the business experts. It is a trend that seems to have started about four years ago and now it is really making a huge splash in several important quarters.
It's most prevalent among teens as this group is made up of youngsters who are determined to outdo each other, prove to each other that they're smart and can be a success.  They're also out to prove to their elders that they can make it on their own in the world, and can even become more successful than their parents. 
This trend is also quite popular among parents of teens as they are very keen to push their kids to the top and to help them to become more successful than their peers.
The teen business idea trend is even very popular among large and medium sized companies as they strive to use teens to help them develop business ideas to capture the teen market.
So, what we have here is quite interesting:  A very healthy mix of teens wanting and striving to become small business owners and entrepreneurs, parents pushing their teens to be successful, and companies running after teens to hire them on as consultants.
Nifty don't you say?  Time for you to help your teens get in on the action before it's too late?  Definitely so.  To learn more, you can visit our top business strategies page and go to the link teen business idea.
 
I'm going to give you some info now that you can use to get started.
 
Are you tired of looking over your shoulder because you're so scared of being scammed out of your hard earned savings, your house, and your other assets?
Are you looking for ways to avoid those scams with their broken promises and get rich quick schemes?  Are you worried that one day soon someone is going to try and scam you out of your worldly possessions?  Do you know what you should be doing in order to combat those seedy scammers, identity thieves, and shady investors?
Now you can take advantage of some very potent info and daily updates plus more in order to help you stay healthy and sleep well at night.  All of this info is free for the taking and it will save you thousands of research hours, protect your savings and worldly possessions, and help you to make decisions that are safe, logical, and sound.  The experts at www.untappedwealth.com are offering you all of this at absolutely no cost because their philosophy is that if they help you then you will help others and we will become a safer and better country.  Check them out!  You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain!
 
At the business desk, I'm Jayna Sheffield wishing you a great weekend.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The benefits could be huge for you if everyone can access the Internet

Good evening!  I'm Kerry J Harrison at the business desk and I'd like to send a message to those businesses that still don't get it.
Too many businesses are still very dense when it comes to getting the message that if they don't make their businesses more accessible and user friendly to all, they're going to be losers!  I just came across this article where it talks about the fact that everyone deserves to have access to technology!  Yes, just think about it!  If everyone can have the opportunity to have equal access to technology, then just think of the awesome amount of advantages and benefits that you as a small business would stand to gain.  Please give some attention to the article below.
 
Sacramento Bee, California USA
Sunday, June 17, 2007
 
Opinion - Everyone deserves access to technology, online world
 
By Jim Fruchterman and Gregg Vanderheiden
 
Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, June 17, 2007
Story appeared in FORUM section, Page E1
 
Extract "Imagine you're starting to lose your vision. It will happen to many of us as we grow older. Suddenly, that PC or cell phone stops being a useful tool because of your inability to see clearly. Did you know that today, a blind person who buys a $300 personal computer has to then purchase a $1,000 specialized piece of software to make the PC talk for them? Think about it. Blind people need to spend three or four times as much to get a PC that works for them -- and additional money each year for updates to be able to access new applications and Web content. The situation is similar for cell phones."
 
As technology races ahead at an ever-increasing pace, more and more of society's activities are moving into an online digital world that requires unfettered access. Although many of us may feel like we're falling behind technologically, large groups of Californians face barriers that block their access to the online world. People with disabilities, seniors, the poor and those without strong reading skills are facing ever-increasing obstacles to technology use. Since technology is becoming essential to education, business, personal finance, politics, entertainment and shopping, if we don't do something, we may find someone we love, or even ourselves, left behind.
 
We need to commit ourselves to delivering a base set of technological capabilities to all people, starting with Californians. At an affordable price, everybody should have access to communications technology and content to meet their personal, social, educational and employment needs. We need to raise the technology floor so that all of our citizens have at least the basic tools they need to participate in our modern society.
 
This isn't about charity any more than putting ramps on buildings for wheelchair access. It's far more just and cost-effective for society to provide equal access so that people can help themselves. As our society ages, and as our society increasingly depends on digital communication and content for fundamental activities, most of California's families will need at least basic access to ensure that people are as independent as possible. This will not only increase the quality of life for many with disabilities, but it will also decrease our dependence on families and public services that can become more costly as we age. To remain globally competitive, we need to ensure that all of our citizens have the tools they need to participate independently in our school and in the workplace.
 
Raising the technology floor is not pie-in-the-sky thinking. The business and technology communities will be excited to make it happen for most of us. But easy access needs to be practical and real. We must let everybody know about available technology that has value to them in their lives. We also need to systematically reduce or remove barriers to that access. Industry will do much of this for the majority of us anyway through its relentless drive to lower prices and improve performance.
 
When the natural forces of business and technology do not address the needs of everybody, however, we need to take action as a society to ensure that the disadvantaged segments of our community do not fall further and further behind -- or even off of the technology network. We need to build a technology floor: A common, strong foundation that gives everybody the opportunity to use the power of the emerging information and communication technologies to pursue their aspirations and dreams.
 
Imagine you're starting to lose your vision. It will happen to many of us as we grow older. Suddenly, that PC or cell phone stops being a useful tool because of your inability to see clearly. Did you know that today, a blind person who buys a $300 personal computer has to then purchase a $1,000 specialized piece of software to make the PC talk for them? Think about it. Blind people need to spend three or four times as much to get a PC that works for them -- and additional money each year for updates to be able to access new applications and Web content. The situation is similar for cell phones.
 
To raise the technology floor for all Californians, we need to deliver four key pieces of the digital puzzle. Together, they will complete our vision of equal access to opportunity in society.
 
First, we need cell phones and PCs that are cheap and powerful. We don't have to do anything here -- the industry will simply deliver. If today's cell phones cost $30 to make, it won't be long before they're $20 and then $10. If that generation of phones isn't powerful enough for our needs, just wait another year. The same dynamic is working on PC prices.
 
Second, we need access to broadband connectivity to the Internet. This is being built out globally, so we can also take advantage of it for people with disabilities if we provide affordable access. California is lagging the world in this area. Bangladesh has a plan to deploy wireless broadband across the country within two years. If we're not careful, we'll be lagging behind Bangladesh, as well as South Korea and Canada, in broadband penetration. It would be great if California committed itself to reaching parity with these countries!
 
Third, accessibility and usability are the next critical components. People should be able to find smart phones or PCs they are able to use without spending lots of money and time trying to figure them out. This is where technology developers are really failing users, especially people with disabilities. We can do better than this. We can commit to making $300 PCs and free cell phones work for everybody, including people with disabilities. It isn't hard technologically. We just have to decide to build these devices. Cell phones and networked PCs can easily be designed to be more universally accessible.
 
Fourth, people need and want relevant content and applications. Like everybody else, disadvantaged people in California need and are interested in access to e-mail, text and instant messaging, sports news, general news, social content Web sites, video/TV, shopping, eBay, games and the list goes on.
 
Much great content on the Web is already freely available because of advertising-supported models. For people with disabilities, we can do exciting things to transform content from inaccessible to accessible mediums. We can shift content from visual formats to audio formats for people who are blind or who have a learning disability. For the deaf, we can move information from audio to visual formats. With broadband and network based technologies, we can provide on-demand assistive technologies when and where people need them. And we can provide these tools to people of all social and economic levels in any location where there is a computer or a cell phone connected to the Internet, at costs that match mainstream users' costs.
 
We strongly believe we can deliver universal design -- where the tools and the content work in simple fashion -- and that this will help many people beyond those who are disabled. This includes people who aren't literate, low-income seniors, people with reduced vision and people who don't read the majority language. The idea of universal design is to make products simply usable to the broadest possible audience. The best-known example is the curb cut: Originally intended for people using wheelchairs but used effectively by almost everybody else as well.
 
We have to market these ideas and free tools, and content as well. If people don't know about them, the ideas and tools don't really matter. Many good ideas fail because nobody worried about how the intended beneficiaries would find out about them.
 
Let's build that strong floor of equally available technology and let everybody in California, and the world, know they can step up and gain equal access to the world of information, education and commerce tools that the new information technologies are providing for everyone else.
 
About the writer:
 
Jim Fruchterman is CEO and founder of Benetech, a Silicon Valley nonprofit technology company. Gregg C. Vanderheiden is a professor of industrial and biomedical engineering, and director of Trace R&D Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
 
 
I'm going to leave you now with some information that you can use to help your own cause.
 
They call themselves a "One Stop Writing Shop" and well they should.  There are not too many companies around at present that are able to do this and do it so well.  The experts call them unique!  They offer complete services that can help you do research, write, translate and transcribe your info into multi languages.  For absolutely free they can help you to keep abreast of important trends and news items if you're either too busy to search for them or you don't know where to find them.  They can help you to increase your revenues, reduce your costs, and expand your customer bases.  They can offer you a free online monthly magazine filled with info designed to help you keep abreast of market trends and consumer habits and articles that will point you in the right direction when it comes to finding opportunities that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe.
To learn more visit them at www.sterlingcreations.ca.
 
At the business desk, I'm Kerry J Harrison wishing you a pleasant evening.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Important news round-up

Hey there!  I'm Alix Shadonnay at the business desk and it's time for our weekly important news round-up. 
We thank the hundreds of emailers who have taken the time to comment on our weekly feature and we look forward to continuing it.  So, sit back and enjoy!
 
Table of contents
 
July 18 2007
 
1  Skype 3.2 Update, Skype 3.5 Beta and New JAWS Scripts Now Available
2  Accessible text-to-mp3 program: TextAloud
3  Talking Meat Thermometers
4  San francisco Installs 80 Traffic Signals for the Blind
5  Meet the talking menu
6  Government offers free receivers for tv switchover
 

Blind Access Journal
Thursday, June 14, 2007
 
Skype 3.2 Update, Skype 3.5 Beta and New JAWS Scripts Now Available
 
By Darrell Shandrow
 
Doug Lee has made Revision 455 of his JAWS scripts for Skype available at
 
http://dlee.org/skype.
 
This revision now supports the new Skype 3.5 Beta, which features a new, exciting, more accessible text chat facility. It is now possible to navigate in chat windows using the arrow keys!
 
Two new versions of Skype are now available.
 
Skype version 3.2.0.163 is now available and one place where you can download
 
it is at http://www.skype.com.
 
Here are the changes in this version:
 
feature: Added Latvian localization done by Intars Students
improvement: Audio calls improved
change: Do not accept multichats from unauthorized contacts
change: IE plugin updated
change: Extras Manager updated to version 1.2.0.261
bugfix: CCleaner removed 2 Skype related registry entries
bugfix: Tray icon menu not translated during login
bugfix: Skype crashed on password change notification
bugfix: On rare occasions, Skype crashed when opening options.
bugfix: Skype may have crashed in large multichats
bugfix: NTLM proxy authentication did not work
 
Also Skype version 3.5.0.107 beta is now available and one place where you can download it is at http://www.skype.com/go/getskype-beta.
 
This is a direct link to the .EXE file for Skype 3.5 beta. Here are the changes in this version:
 
feature: Auto redial
feature: Call Transfer
feature: Device Indicators
feature: Edit chat messages
feature: Message history loading granulated
feature: Private Telephone Numbers
feature: Send contacts inside chat
feature: Visual indicators for Audio In / Audio Out in options
feature: Show examples of notifications / alerts in options
feature: Added Latvian localization - Intars Students
feature: In-Client Hardware store button
change: Extras Manager updated to version 1.2.0.261
change: Options categories smoothly slide open and close when changed
Updated language files: Arabic (Eriksen Translations Inc.), Bulgarian (Nikolina Filipova & Nikolay Filipov), Czech (Petr Silon), Danish (Eriksen Translations Inc), German (Claudius Henrichs & Dick Schiferli), Estonian (Eve Loopere), Greek (Panagiotis Sidiropoulos http://www.magenta.gr),French (Fabrice IMPERIAL & Bruno Lépaulard), Italian (Daniele Conte), Japanese (Mayu Shimizu), Hungarian (Mark Bender & Laszlo Koncz & Gabor Stefanik),Latvian (Intars Students), Lithuanian (Viktoras Kriukovas), Norwegian (Stig Auestad), Dutch (Kees Koenders), Polish (Karol Szastok), Portuguese-Portugal (Francisco Ferreira), Portuguese-Brazil (Leslie Predrotti), Finnish (Heino Keränen), Swedish (Anders Olsson), Russian (Eriksen Translations Inc), Romanian (Péter Henning and Mónika Iancu), Turkish (Ömer Emin Dede)
 
Labels: JAWS, Skype
 
 
The Blind Bookworm Blog
Saturday, June 16, 2007
 
If you are searching for an accessible text-to-mp3 program: TextAloud
 
By Kestrell
 
Kes: I needed a text-to-mp3 conversion tool, and downloaded this one for free just this morning From Giveaway of the Day. It has lots of features including menus and keyboard shortcuts to control both the TTS voices and the text that gets read imported and aloud.
 
TextAloud
 
TextAlouds unique Text to MP3 or WMA conversion can save your daily reading to audio files to download to your portable player. Listen to email, online news, or important documents while you exercise, work or commute. TextAloud is easy to learn so you can put it to work for you right away.
 
Includes multiple ways of accessing speech and controlling/importing text to be spoken, an also includes Internet Explorer Plug-in and a Firefox toolbar. Support for Natural Voices, Neospeech, Cepstral, Acapela BrightSpeech and Elan, and ScanSoft RealSpeak Voices.
 
Download from
http://www.giveawayoftheday.com/textaloud/
 
The program is available for $29.95, but it will be free for Giveaway of the Day registered visitors as a time-limited offer.
 
http://kestrell.livejournal.com/364962.html
 

The Fred's Head Companion
Friday, June 15, 2007
 
Talking Meat Thermometers
 
By Michael McCarty
 
Friday, June 15, 2007
 
Grill Alert: Talking Remote Meat Thermometer
 
Grilling is a great way to entertain. Constantly standing next to the grill, however, is not. Now you can have the freedom to mingle with this remote meat thermometer. A voice prompt alerts you when your meat is "Almost Ready" and "Ready." It's one of the hottest accessible gifts you can give!
 
A remote meat thermometer takes the guesswork out of grilling. Insert the stainless steel probes in the center of the meat, select the type of meat and how you would like it cooked and let this wireless remote cooking thermometer do the rest. You can relax knowing that you will not overcook your food!
 
Features:
 
Works from up to 300 feet away.
Belt clip for added freedom.
Display backlight for convenient night grilling.
Water resistant for easy cleanup.
Wireless remote cooking thermometer operates at 433Mhz.
Uses two AA batteries and two AAA batteries (not included).
 
Click this link to purchase the Grill AlertTalking Remote Meat Thermometer from Brookstone.
 
http://www.brookstone.com/store/thumbnail.asp?wid=3&cid=33&sid=465&search_t
 
The Grill Right Wireless Talking BBQ/Oven Thermometer
 
Hate not knowing when meat is properly cooked? Maybe you like meat cooked a certain way? This wireless thermometer will verbally tell you when your meat has reached its perfect temperature. You can program it for 8 entrees (beef, lamb, veal, hamburger, pork, turkey, chicken, and fish), choose the "doneness" you want, and just start grilling.
 
Features LCD screen, remote wireless probe, speaks in 5 languages, has range from 32°F to 572°F, four alert options (almost ready, ready, overcooked, out-of-range), audio alarm, and the main unit can receive probe signal from up to 330 feet away.
 
Click this link to purchase the Grill Right Wireless Talking BBQ/Oven Thermometer from Oregon Scientific.
 
http://www2.oregonscientific.com/shop/product.asp?cid=9&scid=99&pid=763
 
Posted by Michael McCarty at 12:56 PM
 
 
http://fredsheadcompanion.blogspot.com/2006/10/grill-alerttalking-remote-meat.html
 

KCBS, CA, USA
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
 
San Francisco Installs 80 Traffic Signals for the Blind
 
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)  -- Audible traffic signals that guide visually-impaired people will be installed at 80 busy intersections In San Francisco, according to an announcement Wednesday by the city.
 
The city will commit at least $1.6 million to the project, the city attorney's office said.
 
The traffic signals emit a rapid ticking sound while the "WALK" symbol is displayed for sighted pedestrians. The state-of-the-art signaling devices will also feature locater tones and vibrating push buttons. If a pedestrian presses the push button for more than a second, the signaling device will provide the name of the street.
 
Anita Aaron, executive director of Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually-impaired, applauded the announcement. Her group and others have been requesting this change for years.
 
 

Business Week Online
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
 
Meet the Talking Menu
 
By Brian Burnsed
 
Will an entrepreneur's pricey new audio gizmo, Menus That Talk, catch on with diners and restaurateurs?
 
For Susan Perry, it was a forgetful moment that would change her life. After sitting down for lunch with her niece at a restaurant in Miami last August, the 50-year-old owner of a small export business realized that she&#65533;d left her reading glasses behind. And her niece couldn&#65533;t help, since she herself suffers from macular degeneration, an affliction that has left her legally blind. So when Perry joked that they needed a menu written in Braille, her niece reminded her that few visually impaired people can read Braille. As Perry sat there thinking of what else would work, a light bulb went off in her head. "I started drawing on napkins that night," she recalls.
 
Three months and $300,000 of her own money later, Perry had finished the first prototypes of her new product: "Menus that Talk," a book-sized device that lets diners push buttons to hear the different items on a restaurant&#65533;s menu. And in the intervening year, she&#65533;s become more resolute than ever that there&#65533;s an untapped market for the devices: 7% of the U.S. population cannot read a menu printed in English, either because of vision loss or an inability to read the language. And as her niece noted, only 10% of visually impaired Americans can read Braille, which is the current approach used by most restaurants. Perry is obsessed with replacing Braille menus. "I tease and say that I stopped working in August, because when I do this I don&#65533;t feel like I&#65533;m working; I feel like everything else is a distraction from this," says Perry. "This is my life."
 
Expensive Patent
For all of Perry&#65533;s enthusiasm, some industry experts question whether restaurants will pony up the hefty tab-roughly $800 each-that Perry and her company, Taylannas, plans to charge for each unit, or whether diners will make the investment in time that&#65533;s necessary to grasp how the device works (see BusinessWeek.com, 1/23/07, "Your Waiter Today Will Be a Computer"). "Would it not be less intrusive for a friend or family member to just say, 'Here are some things that are on the menu?'" asks Dennis Lombardi, an executive vice-president and food service strategist at WD Partners, an Ohio-based consulting firm.
 
To her credit, Perry has a track record of turning her ideas into business success: After graduating from the University of Central Florida with a degree in humanities, she bounced around between jobs for several years. But Perry says she yearned to work for herself, so she and her husband at the time started their own company exporting office supplies to the Caribbean. After her divorce in 2002, Perry started a second business of her own, Transformation Dynamics, which does interior design work for banks and credit unions in the Caribbean as well as exporting office supplies that range from pens and paper clips to desks and building materials.
 
But by Perry&#65533;s own admission, turning her scribblings on a cocktail napkin into a menu that actually talked has so far proven more of a challenge than her earlier business ventures. A month after her epiphany, Perry turned to longtime friend Richard Herbst, a marketing executive at Control Vision Corp. in Pittsburg, Kan., which makes GPS equipment for small airplanes. As the menu evolved, Perry and Control Vision ran into problems ranging from finding the proper battery (the cell-phone batteries that Control Vision first used would overheat and shut down) to deciding where to locate the audio headset. After Control Vision produced the first prototypes, Perry rushed to hire lawyers who could help her obtain a patent. "Lawyers are expensive," says Perry, who estimates that she spent $150,000 just on the prototype and legal fees.
 
Undetermined Cost
Perry&#65533;s newly patented product is a plastic device roughly the size of a paperback book that has 20 thumbnail-sized buttons that help users navigate between different sections of a menu. There&#65533;s a volume control, buttons that let users choose between English and Spanish, as well as a "service" button that, when pressed, flashes blue to attract the waiter&#65533;s attention. When a diner pushes a button, the device informs them, via recordings made by professional readers,which section of the menu they&#65533;ve selected, such as appetizers, soups, or entrees (and which are organized in the order of a traditional meal). Push the same button again, and the device then rattles off each item in that section, complete with descriptions and prices. The device also has a detachable speaker that can be used to funnel sound directly into the hearing aid of a hearing impaired patron.
 
Perry, who just received the first prototypes from Control Vision in May, hasn&#65533;t settled on a price. For now, she&#65533;s mulling the idea of charging $4,000 for five units, though she&#65533;s willing to slash that price significantly for major restaurant chains that buy in bulk. The effective cost for owners of small restaurants would be less as well, since they&#65533;d qualify for tax breaks for providing a service to the disabled-a tax break that Perry says would cut the net cost to small restaurateurs roughly in half.
 
But buying the units is only the first step. Perry also requires that purchasers who want to update their menus in the future must pay for new recordings by Menus That Talk&#65533;s professional readers (which the restaurateurs can download via the Internet). Perry hasn&#65533;t determined how much the update service will cost, but is unwilling to budge on letting restaurants update the menus themselves, because she wants to maintain the professional quality of Menus That Talk-and provide her company with a future annuity stream.
>
Future Fixture?
Lombardi, the industry consultant, wonders if the cost of having to pay Taylannas for menu updates will be the deal breaker for many restaurants. "Restaurants need to consider: How big is the need relative to the cost?" he says. "If it has a use, it will be pushed by legislation (mandating that restaurants meet the special needs of the disabled) rather than pulled by consumer need and industry response to consumer need."
 
So far, Perry says she hasn&#65533;t received any orders in the four weeks she&#65533;s been seriously marketing the new devices. And a few major chains contacted by BusinessWeek say they have no plans for now to purchase the Menus That Talk. "We print large-type Braille menus for sight-impaired guests," Rick Johnson, a senior vice-president for Ruby Tuesday (RT), wrote in an e-mail. "We do not currently have plans for the implementation of a device [like Perry&#65533;s]."
 
But Perry remains optimistic, claiming that she got a positive reception at the recent National Restaurant Association Show from such companies as Hooters, Disney (DIS), and Universal Studios. "We had considerable interest from big (restaurant) chains," Perry says. She says she&#65533;s also been contacted by some government agencies, including the Veterans Affairs Dept., and has also received interest from governments in Australia and India. If Perry&#65533;s dream is realized, her talking menus could be as much of a fixture at restaurants as the napkin on which it was drawn up.
 
Brian Burnsed is an intern for BusinessWeek based in Atlanta.
 
http://www.businessweek.com/print/smallbiz/content/jun2007/sb20070620_025656.htm
 
 
 
ElectronicsWeekly.com (UK)
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
 
Government offers free receivers for digital TV switchover
 
By Richard Wilson
 
The Government will provide free set-top boxes to the disabled and partially-sighted as well as less well-off elderly people when the digital TV switchover starts in Cumbria in October.
 
The Government faced opposition to its plans to switch off analogue broadcasts from interest groups which said the cost of a digital TV receiver would be an unfair burden on lower income groups and in particular the elderly and disabled who rely on TV.
 
As part of its £600m assistance scheme, which was announced last December, the Government has now said it will subsidise the total cost of "the necessary equipment to convert one television set to digital" for disabled and partially-sighted users as well as people over 75 years of age who are on some form of income-related benefit.
 
The DTI has created a specification for the scheme's set-top box which is known as a "Help Box". It is an energy efficient design, sub-4W, incorporating an audio commentary feature.
 
The first area to convert will be Whitehaven in Cumbria where a set-top box designed and manufactured in Wales by TVonics will be offered as part of a £1m support scheme being provided by Capita. "We are working on a Help Box for phase one, the Whitehaven scheme," said a TVonics spokesman.
 
This box is a modified version of an existing digital TV receiver, based on a Fujitsu chipset, which incorporates a feature known as audio description. This provides an audio commentary of programmes for blind and partially-sighted users.
 
Digital UK, which is overseeing the switchover for the Government, has started the bidding process for manufacturers to supply assisted-user set-top boxes for the rest of the country.
 
For this TVonics has proposed a digital recorder design based on a Toshiba chipset.
 
At the business desk, I'm Alix Shadonnay wishing you a pleasant evening.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Growing business opportunities with vending machines

Hi everyone!  I'm Heather DeMarco at the business desk and today I'd like to pay some attention to growing business opportunities in the vending machine arena.
Vending machines are practically everywhere.  They're in our faces on a daily basis:  From school cafeterias to food courts.  From cafeterias in the workplace to restaurants.  From corner grocery stores to convenience stores.  From supermarkets to movie theatres.  From recreation parks to almost everywhere.  They sell almost everything and anything and they are now even selling videos and DVDs.  Are you getting the picture?
More and more businesses are using vending machines to reach their consumers and it's just another way to reach us.  Sure!  There's the Internet, TV advertising, media advertising, and the usual flyers and junk mail.  However, the vending machine business is growing and growing it is!
You can use vending machines to sell your merchandise, but have you also thought that you can use vending machines to advertise?  Yes!  It's what many well-known corporations are doing and you too as a small business can use this growing trend nicknamed the vending machine trend to your great advantage.
As I see it, the vending machine business when used correctly could be utilized as a two prowned attack.
First, a small business could be built to include vending machines that would sell a variety of products.
Second, the vending machine could also be used to advertise your own business.  Sure it is that vending machines usually display the names of those companies whose products come out of them but let's think big!  Wouldn't it be great to have the name of your very own little business displayed alongside the name of such big hitters as Coco-Cola?  Pepsi?  Those big names in the snack foods industry?  Wouldn't it be great to have this?
You may be thinking that the cost of going into the vending machine business may be out of your reach but actually, it may not be.  More and more snack food and beverage companies and now video companies are looking for persons to accommodate their vending machines because they truly believe that the vending machine way is a good way for them to sell their goods and in light of this they are more than willing to offer you very attractive partnerships.  The vending machine strategy allows companies to sell to a very wide market of consumers.  From kids to adults and in many different types of locations.
I urge you to look into this growing type of business opportunity and if you're interested to learn more then visit our top business strategies page and go to the start vending machine business link. 
 
I'm going to leave you with another way to advertise your small business.
 
Looking for ideas and opportunities to crack the over 50s market?  The baby boomer market?  The seniors market?  Other niche markets?
Are you seeking opportunities in markets that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe?
Are you having difficulty keeping abreast of important trends and news items because you're either too busy or don't know where to look?
Then you need to visit www.sterlingcreations.ca and there you'll find a suite of services that can help you to get where you want to go.
From writing to research, and translation to transcription.  There is even a free monthly online magazine that is crammed with very vital and valuable information.  You can even keep abreast of breaking trends and headlines for absolutely free.
Check it out at your convenience.
 
At the business desk, I'm Heather DeMarco wishing you a very happy day.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Lucrative business opportunities in the dare care arena

Good day everyone!  I'm Jeff N Marquis at the business desk and today I'd like to zoom in on a growing type of business opportunity that has suddenly snuck up on us.
While many of us are busy looking far afield for those pie in the sky rich and lucrative small business opportunities, there's one type of opportunity that seems to be right under our noses and we don't seem to be quite aware of it as yet.
I'm referring to the day care business and while many may turn up their noses at this particular type of business, I think that you should really stop for a few minutes and give it some due consideration.
Believe it or not, there is growth in the birth rate across America these days and with this comes the demand for day care services.  With so many parents working these days and having to do so in order to keep up with the ever increasing rate of the cost of living, the demand for day care services is growing at a very fast rate.  The demand is not only coming from parents, but also from those corporations and large companies that are striving to provide on-sight day care services to their employees.
What we have here is as follows:
Parents both single and couples are seeking day care services to help them cope with the daily chores of the home.
Large corporations and companies are also anxious to provide these types of services so as to keep their employees happy and in doing so they will help to alleviate the stress that parents feel when having to make the decision as to whether to stay at home with their youngsters or return to work and go through the anxiety of having to leave their kids with strangers. 
Large corporations and companies know only too well that one of the most stressful factors plaguing our workplaces today is parents worrying over the welfare of their little ones while they're at work.  So, in order to deal with this, they're getting into the act of establishing on-site day care facilities and in doing this they create a happier workplace with less stressed parents and happier kids.  The parents can visit with their kids anytime they want during the day, and the kids get to see their parents more often.
Added to this is that with more and more persons being called upon to work shift work, the demand for day care services that can offer more flexible hours is also growing.  Lots of opportunities here for anyone who is interested in new and lucrative types of businesses.  Anyone who loves working with kids and who enjoys it all.  If you'd like to learn more about this growing trend towards the growth of day care businesses then check out our top business strategies page and go to the start day care business link.
 
I'm going to leave you to think about it all, and I'm also going to leave you with some information that can help you to find other types of lucrative opportunities.
 
Are you looking for skilled and experienced translators/writers/researchers to help you craft your articles, blogs, business letters, emails, faxes, newsletters, and proposals in multi languages? 
Are you seeking skilled and experienced language coaches to help you learn the English language more quickly and efficiently?
Then you need to visit the folks at www.translationpeople.com.  Here you'll find a team that guarantees quick turn around, professional work, and total confidentiality.  Prices are extremely affordable and services are offered in English, Spanish, French, Cantonese, and Mandarin.
Check out the free useful information page while you're there and for absolutely free you can also tap into the latest trends and headlines.
 
At the business desk, I'm Jeff N Marquis wishing you a pleasant day.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Businesses that have the best chances

Greetings everyone!  I'm Jayna Sheffield at the business desk and it's the end of the week and I'm just so glad that it is.
Today I'd like to give you some food for thought and I'm doing this because of many emails and letters that we've been receiving re ideas for businesses that have the best chances of succeeding.  Allow me to clarify: 
I'm going to give you some suggestions for businesses that have the best chances of succeeding based on factors such as demand, logic, safety, common sense, and on analysis by some very old and wise experts of the day.  These ideas are mainly aimed at small business owners and entrepreneurs.  I'm going to give you a brief summary of why the particular business can succeed. 
So, here goes.
Funeral parlor.  People die all the time and will continue to do so for as long as we live so funeral parlors will always be in demand.
Cleaning service.  You can take your pick of the type of cleaning service to offer and these types of services too will always be in demand.
Hairdressing salon.  We are always looking for salons to make us more beautiful.  We are constantly in need of hair cuts.
Pharmacy.  This business will always succeed because persons need medications all the time.  In addition, they are always seeking health and beauty products.
Video store.  Now, with the skyrocketing price of movies, more and more persons are turning to buying videos and DVDs, and you can rent and/or sell these very easily.
Home security.  Here's a business that is really going guns as more and more persons are turning to security experts to help them make their homes safer and more secure from intruders.
Home computer business.  More and more home computer consumers are seeking the services of knowledgeable and skilled persons to help them protect their computers and their data from scammers and identity thieves.
 
there you have it.  Some ideas for you to ponder over the weekend.  Now for our Amazon picks of the week.
 

Making a living without a job

By Barbara Winter

If you're seeking ways to increase your income safely and you don't want to put too much effort into it, then you should read this book.  The author is imaginative and passes on lots of great ideas.

 

101 best home-based businesses for women

By Priscilla Huff

This author has something very interesting and exciting to tell women and her messages are clear, concise, and it's a great book for women to read.

 

Untapped Wealth Discovered

By Jeff N Marquis and Kerry J Harrison

These two authors are new but in a very short space of time they have managed to take the business world by storm.  They have written two editions in less than two years and are planning more.  Their book is based on safe and sound strategies.

 

Now I'm going to leave you with some additional info for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

 

Are you tired of looking over your shoulder because you're so scared of being scammed out of your hard earned savings, your house, and your other assets?
Are you looking for ways to avoid those scams with their broken promises and get rich quick schemes?  Are you worried that one day soon someone is going to try and scam you out of your worldly possessions?  Do you know what you should be doing in order to combat those seedy scammers, identity thieves, and shady investors?
Now you can take advantage of some very potent info and daily updates plus more in order to help you stay healthy and sleep well at night.  All of this info is free for the taking and it will save you thousands of research hours, protect your savings and worldly possessions, and help you to make decisions that are safe, logical, and sound.  The experts at www.untappedwealth.com are offering you all of this at absolutely no cost because their philosophy is that if they help you then you will help others and we will become a safer and better country.  Check them out!  You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain!

 

At the business desk, I'm Jayna Sheffield bidding you a great evening.

Better services can help to increase your revenues ten fold

Hello there!  I'm Matt Chadwick at the business desk and today I'd like to focus on a very touchy subject.
More and more consumers are demanding better services from companies however, many companies are still not clued in.  Or is it that they maybe just don't care, or they are not getting the message.
Consumers are now in the driver's seat for the most part and at the present time they have more options and choices as to where they shop, where they go to get service, and when they go.  They can shop on the Internet, or they can go in person. 
What concerns me is that there are many companies that are still trying to get away with poor service.  I don't like naming companies but some do come to mind.  Particularly so when it comes to some large supermarket chains.  These types of companies are very guilty of not being very aware of the needs of seniors and special needs persons.  They still need to clue in to the fact that these consumers need the additional help and service when it comes to services such as delivery and shopping assistance. 
Airlines, please listen up!  More and more consumers are demanding that you make your services more available and accessible.  Make your websites more accessible and usable to all.  Provide more assistance at the airport, and train your staff to be more personable and hospitable. 
Long distance phone companies, provide the services that you say you offer.  Stop advertising services that you don't even provide and train your customer service teams to be more knowledgeable, friendly, and communicative.  An example of an extremely bad long distance phone company is Telehop Communications.  A company that should not even be in business.  Telehop Communications is based in Toronto Canada, and boy!  According to hundreds of emails that we have received over the past few months, This company takes the cake for bad service, false advertising, and has the unmitigated nerve to keep advertising everywhere.  Please do your consumers a favor and either smarten up or get out of the market Telehop!
I could go on and on, but out of all this, and because of our firm commitment to help small businesses and entrepreneurs, we feel that small businesses and entrepreneurs should be thinking how they can use these glitches to create opportunities for themselves.
There's a very interesting trend presently sweeping across America and it has to do with the service business idea trend.  More and more small businesses and individuals are using this idea to create services that they are offering to both companies as well as individuals.  I strongly encourage you to give serious thought to this growing trend and you can read more about it by visiting our top business strategies page and take a look at the service business idea link.
 
Now for some information that can help to spark your imagination when it comes to venturing into a very unique niche market.  One that is real, growing fast, and will be around for a very long time.
 
Are you looking for experienced multi lingual translators and writers?
Experienced professionals who can help you to write and translate, proof read and edit, and research plus more?
Are you looking for professionals who can help you to write and speak flawless English?
Having problems getting that right someone to help you proof read, edit, and research the appropriate information?
Then you need to contact the staff at www.translationpeople.com.
You can even download free useful information updated weekly and at absolutely no cost you can also keep abreast of the latest trends and headlines updated daily.
 
At the business desk, I'm Matt Chadwick wishing you a pleasant weekend. 

Friday, July 13, 2007

Finding riches in niches

Good morning!  I'm Kerry J Harrison at the business desk and on this fine summer's morning, I'd like to share an article with you that clearly shows how a company has found a way to take advantage of a market niche.
For so long we've been preaching about finding riches in niches and here's a perfect example.  I say hats off to this company and if they can do it then why can't you!  Sure!  You're probably telling me now that's not easy and I'm going to agree with you.  However, it's not impossible and the rewards can be  just phenomenal if you only take the time  to do your research, exude some patience, and do your planning; and of course we are here to help you all the way. 
Take a look at this article and see if you can't get your imaginations to work.
 
Saffron Walden Reporter (UK)
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
 
Baggage PIN may stop lost luggage
 
By WEB EDITORIAL
 
webdesk@herts24.co.uk
   
Extract: "We have developed tags with Braille that are available for those travellers who may need them."
 
LOSING your luggage at the airport could be a thing of the past thanks to one innovative man from Dunmow.
 
Dave Pearce, from Woodlands Park Drive, has worked with colleagues at Bytec Solutions Ltd for six months to develop an owner identification service that he hopes will be taken up by airlines throughout the world.
 
"We've called it Baggage PIN and it's a simple concept," he explained. "First of all, you have to subscribe to the system online by going to
 
www.baggagepin.com
 
paying anything from £6 for one month's membership up to £12 for a full year. Once that is done, you are allocated an authenticated unique digital code and sent a corresponding code tag and security strap in the post which can be securely attached to each of your suitcases. We have developed tags with Braille that are available for those travellers who may need them."
 
The data keyed in by members can be accessed by authorised airline system users, which currently can only be accessed by Baggage PIN, giving the airlines the information they have previously lacked to take the necessary steps to return lost baggage to the legal owner or forward on to the required destination. This information also includes the preferred method of being contacted, so, even if several months have gone past since the bags went missing, they can be reunited with their owners.
 
Mr Pearce said: "We are currently in talks with some of the major UK airline companies to fully adopt Baggage PIN as the method of finding the legal owners of mislaid baggage. Baggage PIN even offers an inbuilt SMS system allowing baggage handling agents to contact the owners of mislaid baggage quickly and free of charge."
 
It is thought the new service is also likely to prove to be popular with insurance companies who deal with a growing number of claims each year resulting in escalating premiums.
 
If it proves a success, Mr Pearce hopes it could also be applied to operators of other forms of travel, such as rail, coach and ferry.
 
According to data from the Associate of European Airlines (AEA), across the 24 largest airlines more than 5.6 million bags went missing in 2006, an average of 15.7 bags per 1,000 travellers.
 
Bytec Solutions Ltd is a group of computer technologists who are particularly experienced in creating and analysing secure data systems, in conjunction with baggage handlers at various airports.
 http://www.saffronwalden-reporter.co.uk/content/saffron/news/story.aspx?brand=SAFOnline&category=NewsSaffron&tBrand=cambs24&tCategory=NewsSAF&itemid=WEED13%20Jun%202007%2014%3A25%3A03%3A437
Now for my important information.  This information can help you to create a more unique and powerful presence on the Internet.
 
They call themselves a "One Stop Writing Shop" and well they should.  There are not too many companies around at present that are able to do this and do it so well.  The experts call them unique!  They offer complete services that can help you do research, write, translate and transcribe your info into multi languages.  For absolutely free they can help you to keep abreast of important trends and news items if you're either too busy to search for them or you don't know where to find them.  They can help you to increase your revenues, reduce your costs, and expand your customer bases.  They can offer you a free online monthly magazine filled with info designed to help you keep abreast of market trends and consumer habits and articles that will point you in the right direction when it comes to finding opportunities that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe.
To learn more visit them at www.sterlingcreations.ca.
 
At the business desk, I'm Kerry J Harrison wishing you a pleasant weekend.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A good business name can bring you more customers and more revenue

Hey there!  I'm Alix Shadonnay at the business desk and this evening I'd like to chat a bit about the importance of choosing a good business name for your company.  Believe it or not, choosing an appropriate business name for your company is extremely important when it comes to telling the rest of the world about the types of services and products you are offering. 
So many of us get caught up in choosing fancy names for our companies that nine out of ten times the names we choose almost always does not really represent what we do and what we sell.  Many fall into the trap of choosing numbers to represent the name of their business.  Others choose fancy names like non-English words to form the name of their company.  Still others choose names that are either too brief or too long. 
The business name you choose should be just right.  Not too long, not too brief, something that your customers can easily associate with what you do and what you sell, a name that is easy to understand, easy to remember, and easy to pronounce.
There are no wise and easy tricks to choosing a business name that is just right.  Believe it or not, most experts say that in order to choose an appropriate business name you need to do your homework and do it very well.  No choosing of names because you want to name your company after your kids.  One of our clients once named his restaurant "Shalas."  He chose this name because his little girl's name was Natasha, and his little boy's name was Nicholas.  I can tell you that it did not work.  Most of his customers had difficulty associating the name of his restaurant with food.  The name meant nothing to them and soon he came to the realization that in order to remain in business he had to change his business's name. 
Many large corporations have been able to get away with choosing names that really don't mean much if you were to analyse it but they've been successful at using abbreviations to keep the names of their businesses in the spotlight.  Example, IBM, RCA, and NCR.  A perfect example of a company with a very appropriate name is Microsoft.  Truly, a business name that clearly tells the world what type of business this company is in.  There is a growing wave sweeping across America these days that is placing more and more emphasis on choosing an appropriate name to represent the business of one's company and if you'd like to know more then you can read about it by going to our top business strategies page and clicking on the business name idea link. 
 
I'll leave you with some very informative information and hopefully you can use it to your advantage.
 
How would you like to keep abreast of breaking headlines, latest trends, and up to the minute news and do it all for free?  How would you like to save yourself some precious time and energy by going to a website that offers you daily updates by some very hardworking experts and all of this at no cost to you?  Would you like to learn how to keep your assets safe and protected from the fast fingers of those unscrupulous scammers, identity thieves, and cyber pirates?
The experts at www.untappedwealth.com can show you how to obtain all of this plus much more and they are offering all of this for free because they are bound and determined to help you stay away from those get rich quick schemes, those scams with broken promises and smoking mirrors, and those pitfalls that could land you in endless trouble.  Their fingers are strategically placed on what's going on minute by minute around the world and they bring it to you as it happens.  Take advantage of their knowledge and experience and do it at no cost. 

Important news round-up

Hi everyone!  I'm Heather DeMarco at the business desk and it's that time again.  Time for our news round-up.  Before giving it to you we'd like to thank the hundreds of emailers for their very positive feedback.  We are enjoying bringing this new feature to you as much as you are enjoying reading it.
 Have a great day.
 
Table of contents
 
July 11 2007
 
1  Secure id cards encorporating braille help Wales Air Ambulance enhance its profile
2  People who drink coffee 'could prevent eye tremor'
3  Woman is first blind person to direct transcription service
4  The large challenge of small devices:  A First Look at the Mobile Device Landscape
5  Safari for Windows is far from "the world's best browser."
6  Rail racer Demo available from Blind Adrenaline
 

ProfessionalSecurity.co.uk (UK)
Friday, June 15, 2007
 
Secure ID cards incorporating Braille help Wales Air Ambulance enhance its profile
 
IDfor air ambulance, 15/06/2007
 
Secure ID cards incorporating Braille and personalised lanyards from Wales-based Payne Security have helped Wales Air Ambulance to enhance its profile when raising funds.
 
Based in Caernarfon, Swansea and Welshpool and with offices in Wrexham and Swansea, Wales Air Ambulance is a charitable organisation that airlifts life threatened sick and injured people to hospital. Effective fundraising is vital to keep the charity airborne. Staff and volunteers regularly meet with the public at events and door-to-door to canvas for contributions.
 
Wales Air Ambulance was keen to improve the visibility of its identification and contacted Payne to ask about personalised lanyards. Once dialogue had been established, it became apparent that the ID security product firm could offer further assistance by making the ID cards accessible to the blind or visually impaired. To achieve this, a contact telephone number is printed onto the card in Braille, enabling people to learn more about the charity or to confirm the authenticity of the card-holder. Each card contains the charity's distinctive helicopter logo and card-holder details.
 
What they say
 
"Payne Security's solution has provided an integrated method of maintaining visibility whilst extending ease of identification to the visually impaired," says Angela Hughes, Chief Executive of Wales Air Ambulance.
 
According to the ID product manufacturers, the move by Wales Air Ambulance towards ID cards reflects growing awareness among businesses of the need to show inclusivity towards all members of the public. In the public sector, for example, this is now a legal requirement under the regulations of the Disability Equality Duty, introduced by the government in December 2006 to ensure that disabled people are treated fairly when they interact with any form of public authority.
 
Source: http://www.payne-worldwide.com
 
http://professionalsecurity.co.uk/newsdetails.aspx?NewsArticleID=7149&imgID=1
 

BBC News, Health (UK)
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
 
People who drink Coffee 'could prevent eye tremor'
 
People who drank coffee had a lower risk of blepharospasm
 
Drinking coffee protects against an eyelid spasm that can lead to blindness, a study suggests.
 
Italian researchers looked at the coffee drinking and smoking habits of 166 people with blepharospasm.
 
Sufferers have uncontrollable twitching of the eyelid which, in extreme cases, stops them being able to see.
 
One or two cups of coffee a day seemed to reduce the risk of the condition, the team reported in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
 
The most obvious candidate for the protective effect is caffeine, but the low frequency of decaffeinated coffee intake in Italy prevented us from examining the effects of caffeine on blepharospasm
 
Professor Giovanni Defazio
 
Blepharospasm is a form of dystonia - a neurological movement disorder involving involuntary and sustained muscle contractions.
 
It usually affects people aged between 50 and 70 and someone with blepharospasm may be unable to prevent their eyes from clamping shut, so that, at times, they are effectively "blind".
 
The first symptoms may include eye irritation and discomfort, sensitivity to light and increased blinking.
 
Professor Giovanni Defazio and colleagues from the Department of Neurological and Psychiatric Sciences University of Bari in Italy said a previous study had suggested smoking had a protective effect on the condition.
 
They compared smoking and drinking habits in patients with the condition with patients with hemifacial spasm (a similar muscle spasm that usually begins in the eyelid muscles but then spreads to involve other muscles of the face) and people who were relatives of patients.
 
Doubts raised
 
In the current study there was no significant association found with smoking but those who drank coffee were less likely to develop the condition.
 
The effect was proportional to the amount of coffee drunk and the age of onset of the spasm was also found to be greater in patients who drank more coffee - 1.7 years for each additional cup per day.
 
Professor Defazio said: "Our findings raise doubt about the association of smoking and blepharospasm but strongly suggest coffee as a protective factor.
 
"The most obvious candidate for the protective effect is caffeine, but the low frequency of decaffeinated coffee intake in Italy prevented us from examining the effects of caffeine on blepharospasm."
 
He suggested that caffeine may block receptors in the brain that are associated with the tremor and explained a similar mechanism had been proposed for the protective effects of caffeine in Parkinson's disease.
 
Professor David Wong, spokesman for the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, said the condition was fairly rare.
 
"Sometimes the condition is so bad that the patients spend most of the time with their eyes closed - they are effectively then visually impaired.
 
"Eye doctors treat patients mainly these days with Botulinum toxin."
 
Professor Kailash Bhatia, professor of clinical neurology at the UCL Institute of Neurology in London said although the condition seemed to be rare it could be under reported.
 
"This is an interesting finding, if you knew exactly how this worked it would help to develop treatments or preventive measures.
 
"It's something to look at in more detail."
 
Dr Tom Warner, medical adviser to the Dystonia Society, said a much larger study was needed to confirm the findings.
 
"Whilst the data is fascinating and offers new areas of research, it should not be accepted as a proven association and certainly does not mean we should be addressing our coffee intake."
 
RELATED INTERNET LINKS
Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
http://jnnp.bmj.com/
The Dystonia Society
http://www.dystonia.org.uk/
Institute of Neurology, UCL
http://www.ion.ucl.ac.uk/
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6757825.stm
 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin USA
Monday, June 18, 2007
 
An insight into Braille: Woman is first blind person to direct transcription service
 
By ANNYSA JOHNSON anjohnson@journalsentinel.com
 
Caption: Cheryl Orgas is the first blind head of Volunteer Services for the Visually Handicapped, which transcribes reading materials for the blind.
 
If Cheryl Orgas had her way, every restaurant in Milwaukee would have Braille menus. The zoo and State Fair would stock Braille maps.
 
And every business, every school and government office, would know whom to call when they need to communicate with someone who is blind or visually impaired.
 
As executive director of Volunteer Services for the Visually Handicapped, Orgas advocates for those who cannot see. And she has a pretty good sense of what they want.
 
Orgas, 47, is the first blind person to lead the non-profit Braille and audio transcription service in its 42-year history.
 
Having used its services - and she has, since the first grade - was by no means a prerequisite. But it has given her a unique perspective.
 
"I have a passion for what this organization does and a deep understanding of what is needed," said Orgas, who joined the agency in January after a 25-year career in social work..
 
That perspective is only one of the reasons she was hired, said Cheri McGrath, who chairs the agency's board of directors.
 
"Cheryl truly embodies what VSVH is all about," said McGrath, a retired Milwaukee Public Schools teacher who is blind herself.
 
"She's received an excellent education. She's been a success in her profession and her community. She truly encompasses the whole VSVH mission," McGrath said.
 
Broad services provided
 
Housed in the Milwaukee Public Library, Volunteer Services for the Visually Handicapped transcribes written materials into Braille or audio, for a fee, for individuals and organizations around the world. It's a Herculean feat made possible, considering its bare-bones staff, with dozens of volunteers.
 
Contrary to its name, it serves more than the blind and visually handicapped. Clients include physically disabled people who can't hold books and those with learning disabilities who process audio better than the written word.
 
At 650 translations last year alone, it doesn't begin to fill the need. Publishers produce about 20,000 books a year, according to Marsha Valance, who heads the Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled in Milwaukee. But the National Library Service translates only about 2,000.
 
"So we go to them for others, particularly for books of interest here in Wisconsin," Valance said.
 
List of priorities
 
Orgas' priorities as executive director will be to modernize the agency's technology, increase its client base and raise its profile in the broader community.
 
Over the next few years, clients and the organization will trade their old cassette recorders for digital devices, and computer software upgrades will make Braille transcription more efficient.
 
While the blind have more access to the written word than ever because of the Internet and talking software, Orgas points out, there are still things that cannot be read by a computer, such as graphic files. And VSVH, she said, can fill that void.
 
At the same time, Orgas is building relationships in the sighted community with the vision of creating an agency so widely known, a service so ubiquitous, that sighted users think to call before the blind person asks.
 
"It needs to be integrated into everyday life," she said. "I want us to be that next day service, so people will get what they need quickly, whether that's in Braille, a flash card, a disc or e-mail."
 
Orgas, who grew up in Waukesha, has a long association with the agency.
 
Blinded as a premature infant by the bright lights and oxygen of an incubator, she's used its services since childhood and volunteered there as a teen.
 
History of agency
 
The agency itself grew out of a search for Braille transcribers by one of Orgas' earliest teachers, Sister Melmarie Stoll, who taught blind students for 45 years at Holy Assumption School in West Allis before retiring in 2003.
 
Orgas credits Stoll and her own supportive family for instilling in her a sense of confidence that she could achieve what she wanted in life. In hindsight it seems a simple formula: high standards and no coddling.
 
One of her early memories, she said, is falling down the steps as a child and her mother rushing to her aid.
 
"My father said, 'Oh my gosh, stop babying her. Do you want her to live with us when she's 50?' "
 
Similar struggles
 
That's not likely. Orgas resides in Shorewood with her husband, who is also blind, and their teenage son, who sees. Her life is like that of most people juggling work and family. There are meals and homework, meetings and deadlines, and never enough hours in the day to do it all.
 
Like many in the workplace, she lives by computer, e-mail - but with talking software - and the telephone.
 
That's not to say blindness doesn't complicate things. It's harder to get around, obviously.
 
Then there is the maneuvering around others' misconceptions about blindness.
 
"There's this idea that we're to be pitied or we're superhuman," Orgas said. "We're normal people doing normal things. We're just doing it a little differently."
 
Orgas, who is engaging and quick to laugh, is always taken aback when people assume she's harboring some great sadness about being blind.
 
"There is so much that life gives," she said, "from being in a relationship to being a mom and working with others.
 
"Life is so full. I can't imagine not doing it the way I'm doing it."
 
http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=621204
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin USA
Monday, June 18, 2007
 
An insight into Braille: Woman is first blind person to direct transcription service
 
By ANNYSA JOHNSON anjohnson@journalsentinel.com
 
Caption: Cheryl Orgas is the first blind head of Volunteer Services for the Visually Handicapped, which transcribes reading materials for the blind.
 
If Cheryl Orgas had her way, every restaurant in Milwaukee would have Braille menus. The zoo and State Fair would stock Braille maps.
 
And every business, every school and government office, would know whom to call when they need to communicate with someone who is blind or visually impaired.
 
As executive director of Volunteer Services for the Visually Handicapped, Orgas advocates for those who cannot see. And she has a pretty good sense of what they want.
 
Orgas, 47, is the first blind person to lead the non-profit Braille and audio transcription service in its 42-year history.
 
Having used its services - and she has, since the first grade - was by no means a prerequisite. But it has given her a unique perspective.
 
"I have a passion for what this organization does and a deep understanding of what is needed," said Orgas, who joined the agency in January after a 25-year career in social work..
 
That perspective is only one of the reasons she was hired, said Cheri McGrath, who chairs the agency's board of directors.
 
"Cheryl truly embodies what VSVH is all about," said McGrath, a retired Milwaukee Public Schools teacher who is blind herself.
 
"She's received an excellent education. She's been a success in her profession and her community. She truly encompasses the whole VSVH mission," McGrath said.
 
Broad services provided
 
Housed in the Milwaukee Public Library, Volunteer Services for the Visually Handicapped transcribes written materials into Braille or audio, for a fee, for individuals and organizations around the world. It's a Herculean feat made possible, considering its bare-bones staff, with dozens of volunteers.
 
Contrary to its name, it serves more than the blind and visually handicapped. Clients include physically disabled people who can't hold books and those with learning disabilities who process audio better than the written word.
 
At 650 translations last year alone, it doesn't begin to fill the need. Publishers produce about 20,000 books a year, according to Marsha Valance, who heads the Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled in Milwaukee. But the National Library Service translates only about 2,000.
 
"So we go to them for others, particularly for books of interest here in Wisconsin," Valance said.
 
List of priorities
 
Orgas' priorities as executive director will be to modernize the agency's technology, increase its client base and raise its profile in the broader community.
 
Over the next few years, clients and the organization will trade their old cassette recorders for digital devices, and computer software upgrades will make Braille transcription more efficient.
 
While the blind have more access to the written word than ever because of the Internet and talking software, Orgas points out, there are still things that cannot be read by a computer, such as graphic files. And VSVH, she said, can fill that void.
 
At the same time, Orgas is building relationships in the sighted community with the vision of creating an agency so widely known, a service so ubiquitous, that sighted users think to call before the blind person asks.
 
"It needs to be integrated into everyday life," she said. "I want us to be that next day service, so people will get what they need quickly, whether that's in Braille, a flash card, a disc or e-mail."
 
Orgas, who grew up in Waukesha, has a long association with the agency.
 
Blinded as a premature infant by the bright lights and oxygen of an incubator, she's used its services since childhood and volunteered there as a teen.
 
History of agency
 
The agency itself grew out of a search for Braille transcribers by one of Orgas' earliest teachers, Sister Melmarie Stoll, who taught blind students for 45 years at Holy Assumption School in West Allis before retiring in 2003.
 
Orgas credits Stoll and her own supportive family for instilling in her a sense of confidence that she could achieve what she wanted in life. In hindsight it seems a simple formula: high standards and no coddling.
 
One of her early memories, she said, is falling down the steps as a child and her mother rushing to her aid.
 
"My father said, 'Oh my gosh, stop babying her. Do you want her to live with us when she's 50?' "
 
Similar struggles
 
That's not likely. Orgas resides in Shorewood with her husband, who is also blind, and their teenage son, who sees. Her life is like that of most people juggling work and family. There are meals and homework, meetings and deadlines, and never enough hours in the day to do it all.
 
Like many in the workplace, she lives by computer, e-mail - but with talking software - and the telephone.
 
That's not to say blindness doesn't complicate things. It's harder to get around, obviously.
 
Then there is the maneuvering around others' misconceptions about blindness.
 
"There's this idea that we're to be pitied or we're superhuman," Orgas said. "We're normal people doing normal things. We're just doing it a little differently."
 
Orgas, who is engaging and quick to laugh, is always taken aback when people assume she's harboring some great sadness about being blind.
 
"There is so much that life gives," she said, "from being in a relationship to being a mom and working with others.
 
"Life is so full. I can't imagine not doing it the way I'm doing it."
 
http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=621204
 

AFB Accessworld, American Foundation for the Blind, USA
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
 
The Large Challenge of Small Devices: A First Look at the Mobile Device Landscape
 
By Bradley Hodges
 
According to many technology annalists, the era of the PC is over. Consider, if you will, the media frenzy that surrounded the announcement of the Apple iPhone, an unreleased product. The unavoidable coverage of the event provides a glimpse at the importance of handheld technology. Recall the images and descriptions of Steve Jobs waving his finger in front of a five-inch screen, whipping iPod devotees into a frenzy of iPhone lust. Try to watch a TV program without a cell phone company tempting you with miniaturized technology to organize your life; download and listen to music; watch TV; text message your friends; and, oh yes, even place a telephone call. All these things and many more are possible with currently available handheld technology. When you consider the functions that are packed into smartphones and Pocket PC devices, prices can be surprisingly low.
 
If this revolution that is happening in the palms of people's hands is so important, how do people who use nonvisual techniques stand to benefit? Or do we? In this article, I address the three basic types of handheld technology that are in common use. I describe how they are similar and the important ways in which they differ. Strategies and programs that provide accessibility to these products are described, and I conclude with some thoughts on which devices may be best suited to your situation.
 
Pocket PCs
Pocket PCs are a specific class of a broad category of devices that are often referred to as PDAs or personal digital assistants. To be sold as a Pocket PC, a device must include some specific characteristics, which are important to understand. In addition to complying with hardware standards, Pocket PCs are intended to be companion devices that you regularly connect to a personal computer that is running the Windows operating system.
 
All new Pocket PCs run on an operating system from Microsoft called Windows Mobile. Windows Mobile bundles some applications that have been tailored to operate on a handheld device with a basic operating system. These applications include Pocket Word and Pocket Excel.
 
Pocket PCs also share some physical characteristics. The most obvious is a touch screen. The touch screen allows you to tap, with a stylus or fingertip, on regions of the screen or icons to perform specific tasks, such as opening e-mail or the calendar. The appearance of the touch screen resembles the Windows desktop that is common to PCs that run Windows. In addition to the touch screen, several buttons and controls are included on all Pocket PCs. One such control is a five-way directional navigation key to perform many navigation tasks, as the arrow keys do on a conventional PC. The Enter button is located in the center of this control. In addition, four function keys, sometimes called soft keys, two on each side of the Navigation key, are found on all Pocket PCs. The action of these keys is dependent on the application that is running.
 
Beyond the touch screen and basic controls, Pocket PCs may include additional keys. The most common addition to the basics is a miniature keyboard. Sometimes called thumb keys, the rows and columns of these miniature keys are laid out in the traditional style of a QWERTY computer keyboard. Some designs place the QWERTY keys on the face of the Pocket PC, below the screen and navigation keys, whereas others use a slide-out keyboard that is oriented along the long axis of the device.
 
Regardless of the specific design, the primary functions of a Pocket PC are centered on the Windows Mobile package. "Pocket" versions of familiar Microsoft programs, including Pocket Word, Pocket Excel, Pocket Internet Explorer, and Pocket PowerPoint, are intended to give on-the-go access to files that are shared with a desktop computer. Third-party programs can also be installed on the Pocket PC. Many popular Windows applications offer "Pocket" versions.
 
Because Pocket PCs fit easily in the hand, it is not surprising that cell phone technology has been built into some of them. Dubbed "Pocket PC phones," these models often fill out the high end of a manufacturer's line. On Pocket PC phones, selected keys on the QWERTY keyboard perform double duty as a keypad for the phones. While telephone functions are included, the look and feel of the screens and navigation remain similar to Pocket PC models that do not include a cell phone.
 
Several fundamental characteristics of the Pocket PC have important implications for nonvisual use. The most important is the manner in which the Pocket PC handles turning on and off. Unlike a desktop computer, the Pocket PC is never truly off. A sleep state can be invoked. This is the closest comparison to the "off" state on computers and PDAs that are designed for people who are blind, such as the PAC Mate or BrailleNote. While the Pocket PC is in the sleep mode, controls can be activated, requiring that care be taken when using the device. Many Pocket PCs have a key-lock control to prevent accidental activation while in the sleep mode.
 
Some Pocket PCs encounter difficulty if the battery is allowed to discharge completely. Losing all power can cause a catastrophic loss of data in some models. Other models require that a visual screen calibration be completed before they are rebooted from a discharged condition.
 
Smartphones
 Reading descriptions of the seemingly endless parade of mobile devices, it is no wonder that people are confused by the terms Pocket PC and smartphone. A Pocket PC phone is a conventional Pocket PC that includes cell phone technology. A smartphone is primarily a cell phone that includes some additional functions that are found on Pocket PCs. Differentiating between the two types of devices is not always easy. Smartphones most often use a conventional cell phone-style keypad, although some models now offer full QWERTY keyboards. Smartphones are designed for one-handed operation like traditional cell phones. The interface of a smartphone is similar to that of a cell phone and does not include the touch-screen desktop that is found on Pocket PCs. The interface is comprised of two soft keys, a joystick, and Home and Back buttons. Navigation on the smartphone differs from that on the Pocket PC. Icons for functions are displayed on the screen in a grid arrangement. Selections are made from the grid by entering the number for the desired function or navigating to it with the joystick.
 
You enter text on a smartphone using one of two methods: a QWERTY keyboard, if available, or the multipress and predictive text (also known as T9) if the phone has the traditional mobile keyboard layout.
 
Smartphones focus on phone tasks and functions. The information that is presented on the primary screen of a smartphone includes messages, missed calls, profiles, and recently used applications. Screens on smartphones are generally smaller and have a lower resolution than their Pocket PC counterparts. Smartphones are generally less expensive than Pocket PCs, especially those that include cell phone technology.
 
Symbian Phones
In addition to the two members of the Microsoft clan, Pocket PCs and smartphones, there is another family of devices that provide mobile functionality: cell phones that are based on the Symbian operating system. Like smartphones, Symbian phones are phones that also include some basic PDA functionality, such as a calendar, address book contact manager, file viewer, and music player. In addition, third-party applications are becoming increasingly available for Symbian phones. In the United States, the lion's share of Symbian sales are models that are manufactured by Nokia.
 
Staying Connected
Pocket PCs include the ability to browse the web, handle e-mail in real time, and run messaging software--as long as they are connected to the Internet. Several methods of connecting to the web are available to Pocket PC designers. The first is WiFi connectivity, the same wireless technology that is used in most laptops and some desktop computers. If the Pocket PC has WiFi built in and if a network is available, the device can perform tasks that require access to the Internet or a corporate network. Many public WiFi hot spots provide access, either as a complimentary service or on a fee-for-use basis. Home WiFi routers are also a popular way to connect wirelessly for Internet access.
 
Built-in broadband access is another technology that links the Pocket PC to the Internet through a cellular network. This technology is most commonly found on Pocket PC phones that access a cellular network. Unlike WiFi hot spots, a network connection should be available wherever a cellular signal is found. A monthly fee, in addition to normal cell charges, is charged for the service, which typically ranges from $20 to $60 or more.
 
Smartphones and Symbian phones always include the technology that allows them to connect to the Internet through their cellular carriers. A monthly fee, typically $20 to $60, is charged for the service. Some cell phone providers also bill for data on a pay-as-you-go schedule. WiFi is being introduced on some new smartphones, further blurring the line between the categories of devices.
 
Bluetooth and infrared are technologies that allow Pocket PCs, smartphones, and Symbian phones to connect to other devices. Bluetooth is the more commonly used of these technologies. Intended to connect devices within 30 feet or less, Bluetooth is a wireless method for connecting keyboards, headphones, two-way phone earpieces, and a variety of other peripheral devices. The process of establishing a Bluetooth connection between a device and a Pocket PC or cell phone, referred to as "partnering" or "pairing," can be complex and inconvenient. The number of Bluetooth peripherals that can communicate with your Pocket PC or cell phone at any time may be limited to just one.
 
Managing software and files on the Pocket PC is facilitated through Microsoft Active synch for Windows XP and earlier versions. Windows Vista includes an integrated synchronization utility that is launched automatically when a compatible device running Microsoft Mobile is connected. Functionally, once your Pocket PC is connected to a Windows computer, several important tasks can be completed. The first task that many Pocket PC owners perform is e-mail and contact synchronizing, or synching. Synching means that if you have added or deleted contact information on your Pocket PC since the last time you connected to your Windows machine, your contacts will be updated on the host computer. Conversely, changes to contact information on the desktop system will be reflected in the Pocket PC address book after synching has concluded. E-mail messages that you create on your Pocket PC can be transferred to the desktop system and sent, and new messages that have been received since your last synch will be downloaded to your Pocket PC.
 
Other programs that provide information that is regularly updated can also communicate with the Pocket PC application to make changes in the information that is available to you. The Zagat restaurant review program is a popular Pocket PC application that provides ratings and addresses for restaurants. As the information about the ratings changes and restaurants are added and dropped, the Zagat program on your PC will collect updated data from the Internet and share the changes with your Pocket PC each time you run Active synch. Finally, Active synch is used to install and remove third-party programs from your Pocket PC. This management also extends to managing files and allows you to make some changes to and to update the Mobile Windows operating system.
 
Smartphones and Symbian phones can also be connected to your computer. Unlike the Pocket PC, which is a companion technology, smartphones and Symbian phones do not expect or require that you will connect them regularly to a Windows computer. Because smartphones run a Microsoft operating system, Windows Active synch is used just as it is for Pocket PCs. Symbian phones use a separate desktop application to link the phone to the personal computer. The functions that this program performs are the same as those that Windows Active synch includes.
 
Peripherals
Since Pocket PCs are small, many computer users cannot manage the five-way navigation button or Lilliputian keys. For these individuals, and the rest of us, a thriving market of devices has emerged. The goal of most of these devices is to provide an alternative to the Pocket PC interface.
 
Because the touch screen may pose access issues for those who use the Pocket PC nonvisually, many of the peripherals that are optional for most users are important alternatives for nonvisual users. Two popular Bluetooth keyboards are commonly used with Pocket PCs: the Think Outside Bluetooth Keyboard and the HP Folding Keyboard. Each is a Bluetooth add-on. Each folds up into a pocket-sized self-contained package; when it is unfolded, the keyboard resembles the keyboard on a laptop computer. The Think Outside unit has no number row; to enter a number, you hold down a function key in combination with the top row of letter keys. The HP Folding Keyboard is a bit larger and includes a full number row. Several larger keyboards, with a footprint about the size of a notebook computer, are attractive to those who need a full complement of keys and have the space to transport them.
 
Listening in to a Pocket PC, smartphone or Symbian phone is possible with the built-in speaker that is included on all these devices. The volume of these speakers is relatively low, and voice and musical fidelity is seriously limited. This is of particular concern to those who use synthetic speech as part of a package that provides access. To solve this problem, an array of Bluetooth headsets are available. A variety of manufacturers, including HP, Motorola, and Nokia, sell compatible headsets. An alternative to a headset that covers both ears is an earpiece, which is available from manufacturers of cell phones and Pocket PCs. The advantage of an earpiece is that you can use it to talk on the phone without affecting the hearing in both ears. Listening to a Pocket PC speak and attending to other sounds in the environment may be easier with an earpiece that covers just one ear.
 
Choosing a Technology
Pocket PCs, smartphones, and Symbian phones each offer advantages and have limitations. Careful consideration and some research will help ensure that the technology and device that you select will provide the results that you are looking for. Stable functional screen-reading software is available for all three categories of devices. Code Factory offers the widest array of products with screen reading and magnification for all three kinds of devices. If you are not comfortable managing downloadable software and connecting a device to your computer for installation, you need to find a dealer who can assist you. Dealers can also provide packages that are ready to go. TALKS is a screen-reading and magnification program that operates only on Symbian devices. The same process of downloading and installing it on a device is necessary. Dealers of TALKS can provide out-of-the-box solutions.
 
Pricing among the three categories of devices differs substantially. Smartphones and Symbian phones are offered at deep discounts by cellular providers. Pocket PCs, which must be purchased on their own, are the most expensive of these devices, but they do not come with a string to a cellular company attached. Smartphones are available from $99 with a cellular contract. Pocket PCs with no phone connectivity are typically available from $200. Including a cellular function adds approximately $125.
 
Training for these devices contributes to a successful and positive experience. It is fair to say that these devices are not as intuitive or consistent in their behavior as are special-purpose devices, such as the PAC Mate or BrailleNote. In addition to downloadable manuals from Code Factory and Nuance Technology's TALKS, a variety of recorded demonstrations can be found online. Two web sites that feature many articles on mobile computing are <www.blindcooltech.com> and <www.acbradio.org>.
 
Generally, Pocket PC technology has a high geek factor and is popular mainly among the technically adventuresome. The "build-it-yourself" nature of installing and configuring software to provide access and the requirements for learning to navigate and operate the device create a steeper learning curve than the phone-centered devices. At the same time, Pocket PCs can open a world of highly productive and extremely mobile features and programs.
 
Phone-based devices offer a more focused experience in which the operation of the phone is the primary activity. Those who desire a handheld organizer, telephone, e-mail system, and web browser may want to give the smartphone or Symbian-based models first consideration. Extras that allow you to create and edit documents, listen to music, and so forth are also available. These extra functions and third-party programs may not be as advanced as those for Pocket PCs. Regardless of the device that you choose and the access strategy that you use, advanced planning to learn how to use your new toy is the most important step you can take.
 
A Preliminary Look at Access
Mobile Speak Pocket and Pocket Hal are the two screen readers that are intended to provide access to Windows Mobile devices. Both products are software applications that are installed on off-the-shelf Pocket PCs. To get a feel for the Pocket PC experience with speech, we at AFB TECH obtained Mobile Speak Pocket, which is marketed in the United States by HumanWare. We also received a similar system featuring Pocket Hal, which will be reviewed in a future issue of AccessWorld. In addition, we will conduct and report on a more comprehensive review of the HumanWare Mobile Speak Pocket system.
 
What You Get
For now, let us take a quick look at what $600 buys. Our system arrived from HumanWare in a sturdy box. The packaging for all components was provided by the manufacturer of each piece of equipment. Opening the box revealed a Dell Axium 50 Pocket PC, a USB charging stand, a Bluetooth keyboard, and a shrink-wrapped print manual and Pocket PC CD. No braille, large-print, or recorded documentation was included with the package.
 
Getting Started
The On/Off button on most Pocket PCs is located on the face of the unit, above the touch screen. Because I am somewhat familiar with this class of technology, I knew where to look. Pressing the On button results in no audible response from the Pocket PC. After experimenting several times, I learned that it is necessary to hold the On button for at least a full second. The difficulty of managing on and off reveals one of the more unsavory features of Pocket PC devices. They are really never off. The screen turns off, indicating that the device is in a sleep mode. Pressing buttons can wake it up, however, so care must be taken when using and managing the device.
 
Pressing the Navigation key caused the system to speak. "List, no items" was announced after I pressed the Up arrow, and "edit" was announced after I pressed the Down arrow. If you are not familiar with the Pocket PC interface, you will be hard pressed to make any further use of your new technology right out of the box.
 
Next Steps
Because I had encountered the Mobile Speak Pocket interface in the past, I was aware that the software makes use of the touch screen. Mobile Speak divides the touch screen into 4 quadrants. Each quadrant can be tapped once, tapped twice quickly, or touched and held for a longer time. This results in 3 control functions for each of the 4 quadrants, providing a total of 12 functions that can be performed from the touch screen alone.
 
In addition to the touch screen controls, the nine hardware controls that are situated below the screen are used. The Alt key, second from the left on the Dell Pocket PC, if pressed four times in succession, will place the system into Command Help Mode, a key-identification mode. From this describer function, it is possible to tap, double tap, press, and hold the screen controls and generally to explore the hardware controls. The functions for the keys are announced clearly and concisely.
 
The documentation for Mobile Speak Pocket is available in PDF (portable document format) on Code Factory's web site. It is readable with screen readers, but should be available in a more accessible format. It should also be included in the product's package.
 
First Attempt
According to Command Help, tapping the upper left quadrant twice takes you to the Start menu. I was successful in activating the menu as described. Using the Up/Down arrow keys moved among the 11 items. Mobile Speak announced the menu item, its number on the list, and the total number of items on the menu. Moving to calendar, a popular Pocket PC application, I found that pressing the Enter button opened the application. The Up and Down arrows read "no items." Relying on the information while in Command Help, I pressed and held Quadrant 2 for help. No help was provided; the unit was silent.
 
Experimentation again was my only recourse. Tabbing revealed three items: "date edit, press Enter to display the month calendar, followed by "list, no items" and "cap s, 1 of 10." Further exploration disclosed that the date was set for Wednesday, August 3, 2005. I was not able to determine how to change the date and time within the time that was available to me.
 
I did not use the Bluetooth keyboard for this first look. Mobile Speak Pocket features an innovative approach to leveraging expanded control functionality from the device itself. The system of tap and hold worked well most of the time. The speech is not as easily interrupted as on a desktop using a conventional screen reader. Given the limited resources and architectural limitations of the Windows Mobile environment, this is not unexpected, and Code Factory manages these limitations well.
 
Shutting Down
The process of turning off the Pocket PC is similar to that of turning it on. Pressing the Power button for a second turns off the screen. No audible tone signals turn off. A key-lock slide control allows you to deactivate the keyboard and touch screen.
 
First Impressions
Mobile Speak Pocket is a technically sophisticated application that provides clear speech and 100% stability. At the same time, significant lapses in consistency and an immature interface make the experience frustrating, and the product was difficult to use. Without prompts to alert the novice Windows Mobile user in matters of navigation, the promise of a quick easy-to-use set of on-the-go applications is empty. Help messages that should be available, according to the command Help, are missing.
 
For its part, HumanWare delivered the hardware and preinstalled software packed nicely in a sturdy box. The absence of accessible documentation fails to meet the usual standards of other ready-to-use packages from this company. We found out that systems that were shipped after our unit was received included a one-page braille and print Getting Started document.
 
Is the Pocket PC for You?
If you plan to order a system, open the box, turn it on, and be up and running, then Windows Mobile systems are not for you. This technology generally appeals to the technically adventuresome user who has the time and knowledge to manage the required learning and setup that are associated with applications that are downloaded and installed by the user.
 
If portability; integration of your technology with cell phone functionality; exploring applications, such as Audible Manager; and reading books in WMA (Windows Media) format appeal, then investing the time and effort to configure and learn the Windows Mobile interface can be fruitful. Mobile Speak Pocket is stable, has good support tools available, and felt and sounded responsive and solid.
 
This first look approached the use of the HumanWare Mobile Speak Pocket package, comparing it to taking the first steps with a PDA that is designed for people who are blind. We expected a ready-to-go, convenience-oriented experience. That is not what we found. For our full review, we will roll up our sleeves and approach the task at hand from the vantage point of complexity and the requirement to do it yourself. The point is simple: The Windows Mobile environment is not the easy-to-use digital playground that some have described. In fact, the use of the Pocket PC interface is at least as complex as its desktop kin. We will explore this environment further in our full review.
 
Related articles
Talk Me Through It: A Review of Two Cell Phone-based Screen Readers by Darren Burton
http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw080103
 
An Accessible Phone Comes Calling: A Review of the Jitterbug Cell Phone by Lee Huffman
http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw080203
 
Read AFB accessworld online.   At
http://www.afb.org/aw
http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw080306
 

 AFB (American Foundation for the Blind) Blog
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
 
Safari for Windows is far from "the world's best browser."
 
Guest Blogger, Brad Hodges, National Technology Associate
 
With everyone talking about Apple's new web browser, the Safari 3 Public Beta for Windows, we decided to give it a whirl to find out how accessible it is for people who are blind. Apple hasn't always been the best about accessibility, but we were hoping to discover that Safari 3-touted by Apple as "the world's best browser"-would play well with screen readers. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.
 
Using the popular screen reading program, Window-Eyes, we downloaded and installed Safari 3 this morning, and opened up the default web page, and then... we heard nothing. Safari 3 proved to be completely inaccessible, making it impossible to read anything on the web with the Window-Eyes screen reader. Unlike Internet Explorer and Firefox, which are both vision loss-friendly browsers, Safari 3 appears to be missing the technology that communicates information about a web page to a screen reader and ultimately to someone with vision loss.
 
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been calling Safari 3 "the most innovative browser in the world, and the fastest browser on Windows." He forgot to mention that it's also the most inaccessible. In a time when more and more people are losing their sight, it would be smart for Apple to make its products user friendly to everyone.
 
Posted by Carl Augusto on 6/13/2007 4:21:21 PM
http://www.afb.org/blog/blog_comments.asp?TopicID=2921&FolderID=16#comments
 

AudioGames.net
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
 
Rail Racer Demo available from Blind Adrenaline
 
By Richard@audiogames
 
A demo for Rail Racer is now available for download through http://www.blindAdrenaline.com. Have fun!
 
(13 June 2007)
 
Really good news for racing fans
 
Rev up your engines and prepare to curse your slow reactions, because Che Martin's amazing new accessible racing game, rale Racer is zooming it's way ever Closer to release. a demo of the game, allowing the player to race on two tracks against the computer, is due for release on Wednesday the 13th of June, with the full release priced $33 (or about twenty pounds), very soon to follow....
 
(09 June 2007)
 
http://forum.audiogames.net/viewtopic.php?id=1366
 

Monday, July 09, 2007

Demand for virtual office services on the rise

Good day everyone!  I'm Jeff N Marquis at the business desk and today I'd like to tell you about a very interesting demand that's on the rise and maybe, just maybe, you can find a way to cash in on this type of demand.
What is a virtual office?  A virtual office for those of you who don't know, is one that is set up to help you deal with such things as:  Emails, faxes, phone calls, incoming mail, plus more.  In short, a virtual office takes the place of a secretary and is meant to help you keep up with day to day business operations.  It's particularly valuable to any small or medium sized business and can help to improve a business's professional image. 
The benefits to any small business to employ the services of a virtual office business are:
While you as a small business is busy dealing with your clients, the virtual office is busy keeping you a-float in the carrying out of office functions.  A virtual office can act as your secretary making and receiving phone calls on your behalf, scheduling appointments for you, acting as a receptionists for you, receiving and taking care of your mail, sending and receiving faxes and emails on your behalf, and acting as your main office administrator.  In addition, a virtual office can provide you with facilities to host meetings.
Now, you may be asking why is there an increase in demand for virtual office services?  This demand is being driven by more and more small businesses springing up everywhere.  With the increase growth of small businesses, the increased demand for virtual office services is also a fact and in order to overtake their competition, more and more small businesses are employing virtual office services.  The increasing growth of small businesses is also being triggered by the American government's desire to ensure that the small business economy has every opportunity to flourish.  Our government is of the firm belief that it needs to foster growth of the small business economy in order to fill some huge and yawning gaps in its own ability to fill the demands of both domestic and international consumers.  In addition, larger companies are also using small businesses in order to maintain an edge on the global stage.
So, what we have in essence is as follows:  The demand for virtual office services is rising rapidly.  There is at present a severe shortage of supply of virtual office services.  Those demanding these types of services are:  Small and medium sized companies and these companies are being literally forced to seek virtual office services in order to keep up and surpass their competition.  Due to the American government's desire to grow the small business economy, more and more small businesses are being created and developed.
What can one expect to make re annual incomes?  Anywhere from $60,000 and upwards.  Even six figure incomes depending on how much you want to work.  It's yours for the taking!  It's yours if you want it!  It's safe and secure income!  Don't wait too long! 
 
Now for some very timely information.
 
Looking for ideas and opportunities to crack the over 50s market?  The baby boomer market?  The seniors market?  Other niche markets?
Are you seeking opportunities in markets that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe?
Are you having difficulty keeping abreast of important trends and news items because you're either too busy or don't know where to look?
Then you need to visit www.sterlingcreations.ca and there you'll find a suite of services that can help you to get where you want to go.
From writing to research, and translation to transcription.  There is even a free monthly online magazine that is crammed with very vital and valuable information.  You can even keep abreast of breaking trends and headlines for absolutely free.
Check it out at your convenience.
 
At the business desk, I'm Jeff N Marquis wishing you a very peaceful evening.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Kids as business professionals? Making their own money?

Hey there!  I'm Alix Shadonnay at the business desk and on this gorgeous summer's evening I'd like to give you a nudge towards helping your kids to become their very own business men and women.
It's definitely not too early to start with your kids with regard to introducing them to the business world.  As a matter of fact, our government is encouraging the development of our kids at an early age.  Age does not matter here.  As early as they are able to think for themselves, read and write independently, and can use their imaginations.  Now, some of you may be saying that as far as you are concerned, kids can't think for themselves until they reach the teen years.  Wrong!  You'd be amazed to learn how able our kids are to think for themselves and how early an age they can do this.
The American government has recognized this and for the past three years they have been pushing hard to encourage kids to enter the business world as early as they can.  Recent surveys published by some top psychology magazines have revealed that kids are using their imaginations more and more to come up with some very earth shattering ideas when it comes to developing ideas for things such as:
video games, toys, business ideas, ideas to help their parents, ideas for fun foods, kids clothes, ideas for kids movies, plus much more.  Who better than kids to tell you what their likes and dislikes are.  Gone are the days of the boring old lemonade stands for kids.  Gone are the days of kids selling hot dogs and hamburgers at the side of the road in order to raise money.  Gone are the days of kids selling chocolate bars to earn some extra income or delivering newspapers door to door.  Yes, these ideas still do exist but businesses for kids are becoming more and more sophisticated and companies of all sizes across America are now using kids to help them stay ahead of their competition in such industries as:
Video games, toys, breakfast foods, fast foods, kids clothing, kids entertainment, plus more.
It's not too late for you to get your kids involved in the business world and you should not just look at doing this during the summer vacation or during other school holiday times such as at Christmas.  It should be a continuous effort all year round.  If you'd like to learn more about the fast growing business idea for kid trend presently sweeping across America then check out our top business strategies page and go to the business idea for kid link.  Or, check out our Amazon picks of the week below.
 
Now for our Amazon picks of the week.
 

The elusive quest for growth

By William Easterly 

This is a very thought provoking book that any serious business person should read.  It belongs on every desk, on every book shelf, and every business student's knapsack and briefcase.

 

Better than a lemonade stand small business ideas for kids

By Barry Bernstein

If you want your kids to get an early start into the business world, then please buy this book.  It's very insightful, shows you how to spark your kids' imaginations, and lends creativity to the family.

 

Untapped Wealth Discovered

By Jeff N Marquis and Kerry J Harrison

A truly remarkable book that gives you a realistic picture of real markets, real consumers, real demand, and how to beat your competition.  If you want to be successful at becoming your own boss then buy this book.

 

I'm going to leave you now with some very important info.

 

Are you tired of looking over your shoulder because you're so scared of being scammed out of your hard earned savings, your house, and your other assets?
Are you looking for ways to avoid those scams with their broken promises and get rich quick schemes?  Are you worried that one day soon someone is going to try and scam you out of your worldly possessions?  Do you know what you should be doing in order to combat those seedy scammers, identity thieves, and shady investors?
Now you can take advantage of some very potent info and daily updates plus more in order to help you stay healthy and sleep well at night.  All of this info is free for the taking and it will save you thousands of research hours, protect your savings and worldly possessions, and help you to make decisions that are safe, logical, and sound.  The experts at www.untappedwealth.com are offering you all of this at absolutely no cost because their philosophy is that if they help you then you will help others and we will become a safer and better country.  Check them out!  You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain!

 

At the business desk, I'm Alix Shadonnay wishing you a very pleasant weekend.

 

Friday, July 06, 2007

A good business card can win you lots of new customers

Hi everyone!  I'm Heather DeMarco at the business desk and this evening i'd like to focus on the good old business card. 
For too long we've been pushing the business card strategy to the back burner but within the last year or so the business experts have been trying to resurrect the business card as a very important way and tool to market your services and your company.  Too many of us take the business card for granted but what many fail to realize is that the business card can become a very powerful tool in one's marketing arsenal of weapons. 
When so many companies and individuals are placing most of their attention and focus on using online tools to market their services, their companies, and themselves to their peers and their customers, the good old business card stands all but forgotten.  The business card marketing method has been around for much longer than the Internet and it's not going to go away anytime soon.  So, let's examine the advantages of a good business card and see how it can be used to attract more attention, more customers, and even increase more revenue for you.
First, the business card is a good way to summarize important info.  Whereas you can use the business card to reach off line consumers and customers, you can't attract off line consumers and customers through the internet. 
Second, the business card is much more portable.  You can take the business card practically anywhere but you can't take the internet everywhere. 
Third, The business card is much more portable.  You can take it in your briefcase, in your purse, in your wallet, in anything.  You can't take the Internet around in the same manner.
Fourth, you don't need connections to view the good old hard copy business card but you need to connect in order to view info on the Internet.
I'll now turn to some tips on how to make your business card more attractive and attention getting.
1  Make your business card a convenient size so that one does not have to bend it in order to put it into their purses or wallets.  If you need to have it folded then do so in a way that is easy to carry and easy to read when unfolded.
2  Make your business card in such a way that the print stands out.  Make the appropriate contrast between foreground and background.
3  Make the print stand out.  Make it eye catching but don't use fonts that are difficult to decipher.  Ditto for the font style and font size.
4  Use colors that contrast, and colors that match.  For example, don't have a pink background and red letters on your business card.  Don't have yellow writing on a white background unless there is a big enough contrast between the white background and the yellow writing. 
5  Don't make your business cards too busy.  That is, don't cram your business cards with too much writing.
6  Make your business cards easy to read and easy to understand.
7  Use concise words to describe your services and/or products.  Don't use too many big words.  Make it simple.
If you'd like to read more about the business card idea and its importance in the business world today, then check out our top business strategies page and go to the business card idea link.
 
That's it.  Now it's up to you to do the rest.  I'll leave you now with some very interesting info.
 
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Experienced professionals who can help you to write and translate, proof read and edit, and research plus more?
Are you looking for professionals who can help you to write and speak flawless English?
Having problems getting that right someone to help you proof read, edit, and research the appropriate information?
Then you need to contact the staff at www.translationpeople.com.
You can even download free useful information updated weekly and at absolutely no cost you can also keep abreast of the latest trends and headlines updated daily. 
 
At the business desk, i'm Heather DeMarco wishing you a very happy summer's weekend.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Lucrative small business opportunities waiting for you

Good day everyone!  I'm Jeff N Marquis at the business desk and today i'd like to point you in the direction of some very lucrative and enticing business opportunities in!  None else than the travel industry.
Yes!  This industry has already started to present some very wonderful opportunities for anyone who is looking for new and enriching careers.  Or for anyone who wants to find their financial and personal satisfaction.  This is all happening because of the growing number of consumers who are demanding it and these consumers are?
Seniors, aging baby boomers, and special needs persons.  I'm going to share an article with you that I recently came across on the Internet and this article is proof of the pudding.
If you're into developing websites that can be easily understood, easily accessed, easy to use, and easy to remember, then you owe it to yourself to read the following article.
 
CatererSearch.com (UK)
Thursday, June 21, 2007
 
Hotels will lose out if their websites don't comply with the DDA
 
By Christopher Walton
 
(21 June 2007 13:00)
 
Hotels are still flouting the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and losing business because their websites do not comply with the regulations, a new survey has revealed.
 
The DDA 2002 requires that the visually and hearing impaired are provided with "accessible websites".
 
But online bookings operator iknow-UK has warned that a substantial proportion of hotel websites are still "in breach of the law".
 
Marcus Simmons, managing director of iknow-UK, said while the vast majority of hotels, bed and breakfasts and holiday cottage owners now had their own websites, a considerable number of them did not take into account disabled access when they designed their sites.
 
"The deadline for businesses to make sure their sites had the minimum requirement for disabled users was more than five years ago but many are still in breach of the law," he added.
 
Bringing sites up to date would mean improving the clarity of text and increasing the number of audio and video files for partially sighted users.
 
Alyson Rose, a Disability Rights Commission spokeswoman, said: "Websites will only be changed if individuals challenge them, but disabled people are voting with their feet and going to the sites that are tailored for them. Businesses are losing out."
 
Michael McGrath, disability champion for Hilton Hotels, UK and Ireland, said he hoped the issue of website accessibility would be resolved in two to three years' time.
 
With the number of disabled people in the country standing at more than 10 million, "there is an economic imperative to get this sorted," McGrath added.
http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2007/06/21/314427/hotels-will-lose-out-if-their-websites-dont-comply-with-the.html
If you're seeking ways to improve your very own websites then here's some info for you.
 
They call themselves a "One Stop Writing Shop" and well they should.  There are not too many companies around at present that are able to do this and do it so well.  The experts call them unique!  They offer complete services that can help you do research, write, translate and transcribe your info into multi languages.  For absolutely free they can help you to keep abreast of important trends and news items if you're either too busy to search for them or you don't know where to find them.  They can help you to increase your revenues, reduce your costs, and expand your customer bases.  They can offer you a free online monthly magazine filled with info designed to help you keep abreast of market trends and consumer habits and articles that will point you in the right direction when it comes to finding opportunities that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe.
To learn more visit them at www.sterlingcreations.ca.
 
At the business desk, I'm Jeff N Marquis wishing you a pleasant day.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Important news round-up

Good morning and a very happy July 4th to all of our readers out there!  I'm Kerry J Harrison at the business desk and as promised, we are delighted to publish some important news articles for you.
Enjoy and hope everyone enjoys their July 4th holiday.  I'm now scurrying home to start my celebrations.
 
Table of contents
 
July 04 2007

1  Finder access gps navigation
2  Wick hill announces the availablity of VASCO Digipass 840 Comfort Voice
3  Voice on the go Now Available Through Handango
4  Serotek chooses fonix Text-to-Speech for SA To Go
5  Promising protein may prevent eye damage in premature babies
6  Everyone deserves access to technology
7  Haptic clock tells time via vibrations 
 

FinderAccess GPS Navigation
       For Immediate Release
Friday, June 15, 2007
Sales contact:  Earle Harrison
651-636-5184
HYPERLINK "mailto:earle@handytech.us"earle@handytech.us
Media and training contact:  Kelly Dunn
651-636-5184
HYPERLINK "mailto:kelly@handytech.us"kelly@handytech.us
Handy Tech North America, formerly Triumph Technology,  is proud to be the
first U.S. company to offer the Way Finder Access GPS Navigation software
along with Mobile Speak for Symbian phones.  You may listen to an audio
demonstration at:
HYPERLINK> "http://www.triumphonic.com/demos/wfademo.mp3"http://www.triumphonic.com/dem
os/wfademo.mp3
Code Factory of Barcelona Spain has partnered with Sweden based Way Finder
to offer what is arguably the worlds most powerful GPS navigation solution
for people with visual impairment.  The intuitive user interface makes it easy
to explore unfamiliar areas as well as identify, select and navigate to
points of interest with a combination of pre-recorded prompts and the high quality
Mobile Speak screen reader.  Easily save your favorite destinations select
passenger car, taxi or pedestrian routes and always find out where you are
with the use of the "Where am I" feature.  Also gather information such as
street crossings, points of interest and favorites within a vicinity as well as
speed, altitude and coordinates.
Handy Tech North America is now offering complete GPS bundles that include
the phone, Mobile Speak, GPS receiver and Way Finder Access already
installed and configured.  Of course, current Mobile Speak for Symbian customers can
download and update their Mobile Speak software at no charge and purchase
the Way Finder Access and GPS receiver separately.  
The cost of the Way Finder Access telephone bundle is $1,349.00; however, in
celebration of this dramatic breakthrough in accessible GPS navigation,
Handy Tech North America is offering $100.00 off of the full package making it by
far the most cost effective blindness GPS solution, mobile phone and
organizer on the market at only $1,249.00.  This offer expires July 15th, 2007.
Also until July 15th 2007, people who already have a Symbian phone, Mobile
Speak and GPS receiver can purchase Way Finder Access for only $499.00.
Finely, if you have a phone with Mobile Speak but no GPS receiver, Handy
Tech North America can provide the Way Finder Access software and GPS
receiver ffor only $599.00.  This offer also expires July 15th, 2007.
Please note that Way Finder Access is not yet available within the CDMA
network or on the Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Smart Phone platforms.  Also
note that the above special pricing is limited to Symbian 8 second edition
phones.  People using Symbian 9 3rd edition phones will be able to take
advantage of similar specials in the near future.
Handy Tech North America will be present at both this year's National
Federation of the Blind (NFB) and American Council of the Blind (ACB)
national summer conventions.  Attendees are encouraged to stop by the Handy Tech booth for
information onthis years give-aways and to receive demonstrations on all of
the adaptive technology Handy Tech North America has to offer.
For more information on Way Finder Access, Mobile Speak and other blindness
and low vision related products, please call:
651-636-5184
Email:
HYPERLINK "mailto:info@handytech.us"info@handytech.us
or visit the Handy Tech North America web site at:
HYPERLINK "http://www.handytech.us"http://www.handytech.us
 
Response Source (UK)
Monday, June 18, 2007
 
Wick Hill anounces the availablity of VASCO Digipass 840 Comfort Voice
 
By Press Release
 
AUTHENTICATION SECURITY FOR THE THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED FROM VASCO. .
 
Woking, Surrey: 18th June 07 - Wick Hill announces the availability of Digipass 840 Comfort Voice (CV), a "speaking" Digipass card reader specially designed for blind and visually impaired Internet users. The product is available immediately.
 
VASCO's mission is to be the Full Option, All-Terrain Authentication company. This means that strong authentication has to be available for everyone. The launch of Digipass 840 Comfort Voice fits perfectly with this logic, as did the launch of Digipass 300 Comfort Voice in 2006. A person with reduced eyesight will now be able to have the same high level of Digipass security as other e-bank account holders or e-commerce users. All Digipass client authentication products are supported by one and unique core authentication engine, VACMAN Controller. This means that companies can choose which type of client authentication device they offer to their different user/customer segments.
 
Digipass 840 Comfort Voice Features:
 
- speech based user interface;
- speech based feedback of entered data and selected functions;
- e-signature and one-time password functionality, converted into voice;
- use of built-in speaker or headset;
- large display and keypad, with oversized tactile keys;
- supports Digipass standard, EMV-CAP, VISA dynamic password authentication 1.1, German Sm@rt TAN, Belgian eID Card
 
"Accessibility is one of the most important success factors for any e-commerce application," said Jan Valcke, VASCO's President and COO. "Unfortunately, few technology vendors have an eye for the needs of visually impaired consumers. As a consequence, this user segment doesn't reach the e-commerce vendors' offering. By offering speech enabled Digipass client authentication products, VASCO makes e-banking and e-commerce accessible for the blind and visually impaired. Worldwide, over 20 leading banks already offer speech enabled Digipasses to a part of their customer base."
 
About Wick Hill
 
Established in 1976, value added distributor Wick Hill specialises in secure infrastructure solutions. The company's portfolio covers security, performance, access, services and management. Wick Hill sources and delivers best-of-breed, easy-to-use solutions through its channel partners, providing customer support, implementation, training and technical services.
 
The company works closely with vendors and its portfolio includes solutions from leading names such as WatchGuard, Check Point, VASCO, Allot, Imprivata, Finjan, Utimaco and Kaspersky. Wick Hill Ltd is part of Wick Hill Group, based in Woking, Surrey with sister offices in Hamburg. Users of products sourced through Wick Hill include most of the Times Top 1000 companies.
 
About VASCO
 
VASCO is the number one supplier of strong authentication and e-signature solutions and services. VASCO has established itself as the world's leading software company specialized in Internet Security, with a customer base of over 4,800 companies in more than 100 countries, including close to 750 international financial institutions. VASCO's prime markets are the financial sector, enterprise security, e-commerce and e-government.
 
- ENDS -
 
For further press information, please contact:
 
Annabelle Brown
Tel: 0191 252 8548
Email: abpublicrelations@btinternet.com.
 
For reader queries, please contact Wick Hill on 01483 227600, web: www.wickhill.com.
 

 
PR Newswire Europe
Monday, June 18, 2007
 
Voice on the Go Now Available Through Handango
 
By Press Release
 
TORONTO, Canada, June 18 /PRNewswire/ --
 
- Voice on the Go Makes Using Your Phone Easy and Safe
 
Voice on the Go Inc., provider of mobile voice solutions today announced that Voice on the Go(TM) is available through Handango, the world's leading provider of smartphone content, and its network of sites.
 
Voice on the Go allows subscribers to use their voice to gain hands-free and eyes-free access to their email, calendars, contacts and other content, from any cell phone, BlackBerry(R) smartphone, or other Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) - safely while driving, or at any other time. Voice on the Go also allows people with visual impairments or physical challenges to access their email.
 
With Voice on the Go, subscribers can conveniently dial in and listen to their email and use their voice to access their email and calendar, as well as search contacts by name or company and place calls:
 
- Listen to email summary ("You have 10 unread emails. Email number 1 from Richard Roberts. Subject is: Lunch. Received today at 9:53 a.m.")
 
- Listen to email details ("Looking forward to lunch today. Where do you want to go? Richard.")
 
- Compose, delete, & reply to your email ("Reply: Coffee for our 3 o'clock today? Let me know. Send.")
 
- Review calendar and create new appointments ("Create Appointment: June 19th 9:00 AM Sales Meeting; Discuss tradeshow next month. Save appointment.")
 
- Search contacts & place calls ("Call Mobile")
 
- Dial a number ("Call Number: 1-888-555-1234")
 
"Voice on the Go is an excellent complement to the growing catalog of productivity applications offered by Handango. Given the pervasive hands-free laws worldwide, we can see Voice on the Go becoming the standard for safe access to email while driving," said Monica Hamilton, vice president of content at Handango. "We are pleased that Voice on the Go has chosen us as their long-term distribution partner and are confident the solution will be popular with our customers."
 
"We're excited to work with Handango to offer Voice on the Go to help mobile subscribers access their critical information by voice - safely while driving, or at any other time," said Simon Arnison, president and chief executive officer of Voice on the Go. "As the leading provider of smartphone content globally, Handango's vast distribution network and trusted e-commerce platform make them an excellent choice for merchandising Voice on the Go."
 
Voice on the Go works with any phone or BlackBerry smartphone on any network and supports most popular email services. Voice on the Go can be activated quickly with no voice training, special hardware or software to download. Voice on the Go is available via local access numbers across the United States and Canada and in selected European cities. The Enterprise version provides secure voice access to corporate email for companies, government and other organizations. Voice on the Go is also available to telecommunications carriers and resellers worldwide.
 
Voice on the Go is available immediately on Handango's retail web site. With no software to download, users can get up and running quickly by simply signing up for a monthly subscription to Voice on the Go on www.handango.com.
 
About Voice on the Go
 
Voice on the Go provides mobile subscribers with access to email, contacts, calendar and other content by voice at any time, on any cell phone, BlackBerry(R) smartphone, or other PDA. It enables subscribers to listen to, compose, reply and forward their email all by voice - hands-free and eyes-free safely while driving, or any other time. The company is headquartered in Toronto, Canada and has an addressable market of more than two billion mobile subscribers worldwide(1). Voice on the Go serves this marketplace with all existing handsets. It also serves the physically disabled and visually impaired.
 
Currently, 50 countries in the world have legislation that strictly prohibits usage of cell phones while driving unless usage is "hands-free". In the United States: New York, New Jersey, California, and Washington, DC have passed similar legislation while other states have bills pending.
 
Voice on the Go is available to consumer and enterprise customers, as well as telecommunications carriers and resellers worldwide in a number of languages including English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, and German.
 
For more information, visit www.voiceonthego.com.
 
(1) GSM Association, June 2006.
 
Distributed by PR Newswire on behalf of Voice on the Go
 
PR Newswire Europe Ltd.
209 - 215 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8NL
Tel :   +44 (0)20 7490 8111
Fax :   +44 (0)20 7490 1255
E-mail :   info@prnewswire.co.uk 
 
http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/cgi/news/release?id=200869
 

Business Wire
Monday, June 18, 2007
 
Serotek Chooses Fonix Text-to-Speech for SA To Go
 
By Press Release
 
Web 2.0 Accessible to the Blind
 
June 18, 2007 09:15 AM Eastern Daylight Time
 
SALT LAKE CITY--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Fonix Speech, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Fonix® Corporation (OTC BB: FNIX) specializing in embedded speech interfaces for mobile devices, handheld electronic products, video game consoles, data base systems and processors, announces Fonix text-to-speech software on a new web application called SA To Go (System Access To Go) from Serotek Corporation, the leading provider of Internet and digital information accessibility software and systems. SA To Go is the first product to make Web 2.0 accessible to the blind and the visually impaired.
 
"Serotek chose Fonix text-to-speech for our new SA To Go application because it provides high-quality TTS without large memory requirements," says Mike Calvo, Serotek CEO. "SA To Go is more than a screen reader; it requires no installation and provides complete control of e-mail, Internet and offers access to Microsoft Office productivity tools like Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Fonix software doesn't slow down the application, and it still provides clear, easily understood TTS voices."
 
Persons with visual impairments can use SA To Go to help them more easily use computers. SA To Go provides instant Internet accessibility through www.SAtoGo.com. When finished, the user simply closes the program and any personal information vanishes leaving the host computer completely unchanged.
 
"Fonix text-to-speech software, which is optimized for limited memory applications, helps SA To Go load within seconds," says Tim K. Hong, VP of Sales, Fonix Speech, Inc. "The key to successful system access products is ease of use, affordability and convenience. Serotek's new application meets those requirements."
 
For information, users may visit www.satogo.com and follow the instructions. For more information about Serotek and its family of System Access accessibility tools, visit www.serotek.com.
 
Fonix TTS supports a wide array of hardware platforms and operating systems and offers nine voices and eight languages. For more information, call (801) 553-6600 and say "Sales."
 
About Serotek
 
Serotek Corporation is a leading technology company that develops software and manufactures accessibility solutions. Committed to the mission of providing accessibility anywhere, Serotek launched an online community specifically designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Since then, Serotek has introduced several powerful, affordable solutions that require minimal training, including System Access, for which it was awarded the prestigious da Vinci award for innovation in universal accessibility by the National Multiple Sclerosis Association. For more information, visit www.serotek.com.
 
About Fonix
 
Fonix Corporation (OTC BB: FNIX), based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is an innovative speech recognition and text-to-speech technology company that provides value-added speech solutions through its wholly owned subsidiary, Fonix Speech, Inc., currently offering voice solutions for mobile/wireless devices; interactive video games, toys and appliances; computer telephony systems; the assistive market and automotive telematics. Fonix provides developers and manufacturers with cost-effective speech solutions to enhance devices and systems. Visit www.fonix.com for more information, or call (801) 553-6600 and say "Sales."
 
Statements released by Fonix that are not purely historical are forward-looking within the meaning of the "Safe Harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements regarding the Company's expectations, hopes, intentions and strategies for the future. Investors are cautioned that forward-looking statements involve risk and uncertainties that may affect the Company's business prospects and performance. The Company's actual results could differ materially from those in such forward-looking statements. Risk factors include general economic, competitive, governmental and technological factors as discussed in the Company's filings with the SEC on Forms 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K. The Company does not undertake any responsibility to update the forward-looking statements contained in this release.
 
Contacts
Fonix Speech, Inc., Salt Lake City
Investors and shareholders contact:
Michelle Aamodt, 801-553-6736
investorrelations@fonix.com
Media and press contact:
Elizabeth Sweeten, 801-553-6617
mediainfo@fonix.com
 
http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20070618005044&newsLang=en
 

PhysOrg.com
Monday, June 18, 2007
 
Promising protein may prevent eye damage in premature babies
 
By Source: University of Florida
 
A protein long thought to be one of the body's supporting players has quietly been taking a lead role in healthy eyesight, a discovery that could rapidly lead to treatments for babies born before their eyes are finished growing, University of Florida and Harvard Medical School researchers have found.
Sponsored Links (Ads by Google)
 
The finding, described in separate, back-to-back papers to be published in Tuesday's (June 19) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offers a new target for therapies for retinopathy of prematurity, a potentially blinding disease that annually affects about 15,000 babies.
 
 In newborns with the disease, oxygen-starved areas of the retina compensate by quickly growing new blood vessels. But these new vessels are fragile and leaky.
 
"We've identified a protein that is part of the body's natural defenses in oxygen-deprived conditions," said Dr. Maria B. Grant, a professor of pharmacology and therapeutics at UF's College of Medicine. "When babies are born before levels of this protein are normal, blood vessels spread abnormally throughout the retina. But if we can increase the protein to more normal levels in premature babies, it should result in healthier blood vessel growth."
 
The protein - insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3, or IGFBP-3 - was thought to exist exclusively to regulate insulin-like growth factor-1, a molecular growth factor that is necessary for the development of nerve, muscle, bone, liver, kidney, lung, eye and other body tissues.
 
But in studies of mice and of human cells in cultures, scientists from the Program in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at UF's McKnight Brain Institute found that IGFBP-3 activates stem cells and other reparative cells of the bone marrow and the lining of blood vessels.
 
Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of Goteborg in Sweden arrive at essentially the same conclusion in Tuesday's issue of PNAS, identifying the protein IGFBP-3 as a promising therapeutic agent after analyzing data from mouse and human studies.
 
"This discovery has a big future in helping premature babies," said Alexander V. Ljubimov, Ph.D., a professor of medicine at UCLA and director of Ophthalmology Research Laboratories at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "The idea is to administer this already clinically available protein to premature babies to stabilize the existing vessels in the retina, prevent their loss and block the compensatory growth of new, aberrant vessels. Finding the right dose may enable babies to cope with the first phases of their life without becoming blind."
 
Retinopathy of prematurity affects infants weighing less than 2.75 pounds who are born within the first 31 weeks of pregnancy, according to the National Eye Institute. More than 1,000 require medical treatment and about 500 become legally blind.
 
"The discovery has added credibility because independent research groups took different approaches to show essentially the same thing," said Ljubimov, who was not involved in the research. "There is independent confirmation from totally different research teams within the same journal."
 
At UF, researchers infused IGFBP-3 into one eye of each of nine mice before placing the animals into a high-oxygen chamber for five days. When scientists compared vascular growth within the retinas, they found blood vessels were closer to normal in eyes treated with IGFBP-3.
 
When UF scientists repeated the experiment in 18 mice treated with bone marrow stem cells expressing IGFBP-3, they found the treated eyes developed normally.
 
In addition to studies in mice, Harvard research collaborators in Sweden examined infants with retinopathy of prematurity in a prospective clinical study and found that the IGFBP-3 levels were lower than those of healthy infants, further suggesting that the protein helps prevent oxygen-induced blood vessel loss and promotes healthy vascular regrowth.
 
"The implications for retinopathy are that IGFBP-3 appears to have benefit in preventing vessel loss independent of insulin-like growth factor-1 in both the mouse model of oxygen-induced retinopathy and in infants with retinopathy of prematurity," said Dr. Lois E.H. Smith, an associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and senior author of the Harvard study. "Supplementation to increase IGFBP-3 in premature infants at risk for ROP to normal levels in utero may prove beneficial in this disease.
 
"Harvard Medical School researchers and collaborators at the University of Goteborg are currently conducting a phase 1 clinical study to evaluate the use of IGFBP-3 in combination with IGF-1 to examine the effects on prevention of retinopathy in premature infants, based on the clinical findings in our study," Smith said. "This work suggests that both IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 acting independently help prevent retinopathy."
 
http://www.physorg.com/news101397180.html
 

 Sacramento Bee, California USA
Sunday, June 17, 2007
 
Opinion - Everyone deserves access to technology, online world
 
By Jim Fruchterman and Gregg Vanderheiden
 
Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, June 17, 2007
Story appeared in FORUM section, Page E1
 
Extract "Imagine you're starting to lose your vision. It will happen to many of us as we grow older. Suddenly, that PC or cell phone stops being a useful tool because of your inability to see clearly. Did you know that today, a blind person who buys a $300 personal computer has to then purchase a $1,000 specialized piece of software to make the PC talk for them? Think about it. Blind people need to spend three or four times as much to get a PC that works for them -- and additional money each year for updates to be able to access new applications and Web content. The situation is similar for cell phones."
 
As technology races ahead at an ever-increasing pace, more and more of society's activities are moving into an online digital world that requires unfettered access. Although many of us may feel like we're falling behind technologically, large groups of Californians face barriers that block their access to the online world. People with disabilities, seniors, the poor and those without strong reading skills are facing ever-increasing obstacles to technology use. Since technology is becoming essential to education, business, personal finance, politics, entertainment and shopping, if we don't do something, we may find someone we love, or even ourselves, left behind.
 
We need to commit ourselves to delivering a base set of technological capabilities to all people, starting with Californians. At an affordable price, everybody should have access to communications technology and content to meet their personal, social, educational and employment needs. We need to raise the technology floor so that all of our citizens have at least the basic tools they need to participate in our modern society.
 
This isn't about charity any more than putting ramps on buildings for wheelchair access. It's far more just and cost-effective for society to provide equal access so that people can help themselves. As our society ages, and as our society increasingly depends on digital communication and content for fundamental activities, most of California's families will need at least basic access to ensure that people are as independent as possible. This will not only increase the quality of life for many with disabilities, but it will also decrease our dependence on families and public services that can become more costly as we age. To remain globally competitive, we need to ensure that all of our citizens have the tools they need to participate independently in our school and in the workplace.
 
Raising the technology floor is not pie-in-the-sky thinking. The business and technology communities will be excited to make it happen for most of us. But easy access needs to be practical and real. We must let everybody know about available technology that has value to them in their lives. We also need to systematically reduce or remove barriers to that access. Industry will do much of this for the majority of us anyway through its relentless drive to lower prices and improve performance.
 
When the natural forces of business and technology do not address the needs of everybody, however, we need to take action as a society to ensure that the disadvantaged segments of our community do not fall further and further behind -- or even off of the technology network. We need to build a technology floor: A common, strong foundation that gives everybody the opportunity to use the power of the emerging information and communication technologies to pursue their aspirations and dreams.
 
Imagine you're starting to lose your vision. It will happen to many of us as we grow older. Suddenly, that PC or cell phone stops being a useful tool because of your inability to see clearly. Did you know that today, a blind person who buys a $300 personal computer has to then purchase a $1,000 specialized piece of software to make the PC talk for them? Think about it. Blind people need to spend three or four times as much to get a PC that works for them -- and additional money each year for updates to be able to access new applications and Web content. The situation is similar for cell phones.
 
To raise the technology floor for all Californians, we need to deliver four key pieces of the digital puzzle. Together, they will complete our vision of equal access to opportunity in society.
 
First, we need cell phones and PCs that are cheap and powerful. We don't have to do anything here -- the industry will simply deliver. If today's cell phones cost $30 to make, it won't be long before they're $20 and then $10. If that generation of phones isn't powerful enough for our needs, just wait another year. The same dynamic is working on PC prices.
 
Second, we need access to broadband connectivity to the Internet. This is being built out globally, so we can also take advantage of it for people with disabilities if we provide affordable access. California is lagging the world in this area. Bangladesh has a plan to deploy wireless broadband across the country within two years. If we're not careful, we'll be lagging behind Bangladesh, as well as South Korea and Canada, in broadband penetration. It would be great if California committed itself to reaching parity with these countries!
 
Third, accessibility and usability are the next critical components. People should be able to find smart phones or PCs they are able to use without spending lots of money and time trying to figure them out. This is where technology developers are really failing users, especially people with disabilities. We can do better than this. We can commit to making $300 PCs and free cell phones work for everybody, including people with disabilities. It isn't hard technologically. We just have to decide to build these devices. Cell phones and networked PCs can easily be designed to be more universally accessible.
 
Fourth, people need and want relevant content and applications. Like everybody else, disadvantaged people in California need and are interested in access to e-mail, text and instant messaging, sports news, general news, social content Web sites, video/TV, shopping, eBay, games and the list goes on.
 
Much great content on the Web is already freely available because of advertising-supported models. For people with disabilities, we can do exciting things to transform content from inaccessible to accessible mediums. We can shift content from visual formats to audio formats for people who are blind or who have a learning disability. For the deaf, we can move information from audio to visual formats. With broadband and network based technologies, we can provide on-demand assistive technologies when and where people need them. And we can provide these tools to people of all social and economic levels in any location where there is a computer or a cell phone connected to the Internet, at costs that match mainstream users' costs.
 
We strongly believe we can deliver universal design -- where the tools and the content work in simple fashion -- and that this will help many people beyond those who are disabled. This includes people who aren't literate, low-income seniors, people with reduced vision and people who don't read the majority language. The idea of universal design is to make products simply usable to the broadest possible audience. The best-known example is the curb cut: Originally intended for people using wheelchairs but used effectively by almost everybody else as well.
 
We have to market these ideas and free tools, and content as well. If people don't know about them, the ideas and tools don't really matter. Many good ideas fail because nobody worried about how the intended beneficiaries would find out about them.
 
Let's build that strong floor of equally available technology and let everybody in California, and the world, know they can step up and gain equal access to the world of information, education and commerce tools that the new information technologies are providing for everyone else.
 
About the writer:
 
Jim Fruchterman is CEO and founder of Benetech, a Silicon Valley nonprofit technology company. Gregg C. Vanderheiden is a professor of industrial and biomedical engineering, and director of Trace R&D Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
 
 

UberGizmo.com (Weblog)
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
 
Haptic Clock tells time via vibrations
 
Remember old grandfather clocks that chime every quarter of an hour and at the turn of each hour? For those who want a similar principle in their cellphones, they can always download up the Haptic Clock software for Java-enabled phones.
It tells you the time via a series of vibrations - all you need to do is press the 5 key. Long vibrations denote the number of hours of the current time on a 12-hour clock, while the shorter vibrations denote the number of minutes divided by 5. For example, 8 vibrations means 40 minutes past the hour, while a couple of vibrations is a mere 10 minutes. Best of all is, this software is free, making it an essential download for those who have long ditched their watch in favor of a cellphone.
 
SOURCE LINK
http://cwwang.com/wordpress/2007/05/24/haptic-clock/
 
http://www.ubergizmo.com/15/archives/2007/06/haptic_clock_tells_time_via_vibrations.html
 

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Some very important safety tips

Hello there!  I'm Matt Chadwick at the business desk and this evening I'd like to give you some very logical and common sense tips on how to protect yourself against identity thieves and scammers.   Over the past few months, we've been having a constant stream of requests for us to repeat our blog on safety tips.  So, here they are again.
First, for some phone tips.
1  Never give out your credit card over the phone to anyone you don't know.
2  If you receive a phone call asking for your banking details, simply hang up.
3  If someone calls you telling you that you've just won a big prize for example a vacation package, money, or some large appliance, don't for an instant believe the caller.  Best to hang up.
4  If someone calls you asking you to participate in a survey and they start by asking for your firs and last name, social security number, or credit card number, hang up!  Don't bother answering any of their questions.
5  If you receive a call asking you for donations for anything, hang up.
 
Second, some Internet tips.
1  If you receive an email asking for your banking details, delete it.
2  If you receive an email asking you to log in to a specific website in order to change your password, for example if the email says that they're representing your banking institution, just ignore this email and don't even bother visiting the website outlined in the email.
3  If you receive an email saying that you've won a lottery, ignore and delete.
4  If you receive an email asking for you to help transfer funds from some far away country to North America, delete immediately.
5  If you receive an email from an unknown person with an attachment, don't bother opening it.  It may be an email carrying a virus and you'd be much better off to delete it and move on.
 
Some additional tips:
When you visit your friendly ATM, make sure that when you go to do your transactions, no one is standing close enough to you so that they could see what you're doing.
Never have a password that represent a birth date of you or your your spouse or your wife.  Best to have a password that is a combination of letters and numbers.
Don't have the same password for all of your email accounts.
Change your password regularly.
Choose a password that is not so common.  Ideally, choose one that represents a word in a foreign language.
 
That's it for now.  Keep those emails coming telling us what you'd like to have us talk about.
Now for some very important info.  Info that can help you to improve your global opportunities.
 
Are you looking for skilled and experienced translators/writers/researchers to help you craft your articles, blogs, business letters, emails, faxes, newsletters, and proposals in multi languages? 
Are you seeking skilled and experienced language coaches to help you learn the English language more quickly and efficiently?
Then you need to visit the folks at www.translationpeople.com.  Here you'll find a team that guarantees quick turn around, professional work, and total confidentiality.  Prices are extremely affordable and services are offered in English, Spanish, French, Cantonese, and Mandarin.
Check out the free useful information page while you're there and for absolutely free you can also tap into the latest trends and headlines.
 
At the business desk, I'm Matt Chadwick wishing you a very pleasant evening.

Monday, July 02, 2007

More women going into business for themselves?

Greetings everyone!  I'm Jayna Sheffield at the business desk and today I'd like to answer a question that has been sent to us by many of our readers.
Are there more in business for themselves today?  The answer to this is a definite yes.  More and more women are becoming owners of small businesses.  According to CNN news almost 25% of small businesses across America today are owned by women.  In addition, 10 of the top Fortune 500 companies are owned by women, and there has been a 23% growth of women as owners of small businesses which is twice the growth of new companies.
The challenges facing women today are not much different from say five to ten years ago but this is not stopping women.  Despite the rise in the number of battered women across America, the rise in single women parents, and the rise in discrimination against women who are also immigrants and those who are disabled, the march towards more women taking their rightful places in our business economy is increasing at a very fast clip. 
It's time for women to take control of their own destiny, their own financial and personal dreams, and their own businesses.  There may still exist a glass ceiling in the corporate world, but definitely not in the world of small business and entrepreneurship.  Heck, there is absolutely nothing to stop women from getting into their own businesses.  All they need are certain tools to help them.
Tools like:  Motivation, imagination, creativity, safe and logical research, some financial backing, and support from their friends.  Come on women!  You can do it.
One of our associates is a woman and she has overcome all odds to be a very successful consultant.  Her name is Donna Jodhan.  She has been blind from birth, she has been in business for herself for over 13 years, and she has written countless newsletters, articles, and blogs.  She is also an author, and continues to help others in their fight against their governments to make websites more accessible to blind and visually impaired persons.  We're very proud to have Donna as an associate and if she can do it, then you can too!
 
Now for some very handy tips.
 
Looking for ideas and opportunities to crack the over 50s market?  The baby boomer market?  The seniors market?  Other niche markets?
Are you seeking opportunities in markets that are explosive, lucrative, but above all safe?
Are you having difficulty keeping abreast of important trends and news items because you're either too busy or don't know where to look?
Then you need to visit www.sterlingcreations.ca and there you'll find a suite of services that can help you to get where you want to go.
From writing to research, and translation to transcription.  There is even a free monthly online magazine that is crammed with very vital and valuable information.  You can even keep abreast of breaking trends and headlines for absolutely free.
Check it out at your convenience.
 
At the business desk, I'm Jayna Sheffield wishing you a pleasant evening.

Contact us to learn more.



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