The ACSP Journey Has Concluded

Why I am writing this post

Let me just make this clear at the start that this post is not intended as any sort of bragging or boasting or anything along those lines. My story about my journey to take and pass the Apple Certified Support Professional exam for Mac OS X Lion is, hopefully, to serve two purposes. Firstly, if there are other blind folks interested in doing the same thing, this will help to encourage and inspire them. Secondly, even if you don’t ever intend on taking an Apple certification exam, I hope that this will convince you that, no matter what kind of goal you set for yourself, don’t sell yourself short by believing that there is no way to achieve it because it doesn’t seem “realistic” to reach as a blind person.

I will begin by plainly stating that the ACSP exam was the most challenging and intense exams I’ve ever taken in my life. I knew it would be difficult and that a lot of preparation would be needed, but I had no idea just how hard the exam would prove to be. I had always thought that the exam I took for my Certified Social Work license had been the toughest test I had taken until I took my Black Belt test in 1994. That had been an overall much more challenging exam because of the mental and physical drain. However, despite the ACSP exam not having the physical element to it, I still felt as if I had gone through all of the aspects of the Black Belt test by the time I completed the last of the 80 questions.

Somehow, by the grace of God, when the smoke cleared and it was all over, I had passed the exam and some three months of preparing and studying had paid off for me. I will try to describe the preparations that I took in achieving my goal, as well as advising you on what worked and what will not work for you. I never took an exam like this before, and some felt that I over prepared for it. However, sitting here now, every moment and choice I made I feel was worth the effort and the time I spent getting myself ready. I hope to provide you with some tips and sound advice should you decide to take the same journey by the time I am done writing this post. Continue reading

Posted in Accessibility, General, Mac OS X Lion, Updates | 7 Comments

Mozilla Firefox Nightly Builds Now Include VoiceOver Support in Mac OS X

According to the latest news from the Mozilla folks, the nightly builds for Firefox now include support for VoiceOver in Mac OS X. I have downloaded it, and though it is clearly in its early stages, it’s really exciting and pleasing to see the effort these folks are putting into accessibility. I will post a link to the blog post here and keep in mind the performance issues Marko points out. I would strongly recommend downloading it and really giving it a good run, reporting as many bugs as you can find so they can be dealt with.

Go here for the blog post and all of the information, including a download link.

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Flashback Checker Info

For those folks who are worried about the question of whether their Mac might have that Flashback malware that received press last week, Macworld has an article that includes a link to a free application that will check your system for you. If you are not comfortable using Terminal to run the commands some places have offered to check your system, this app might be for you. I tried it out and it is completely accessible. Just open the Flashback Checker application after you download it, VO-space on the, Check For Flashback Infection, button, and VO Right arrow to the results, which can be read with VoiceOver.

In the article, there is a link to the webpage for the Flashback Checker, and there is a download link there for the application. The article can be found,

here.

Posted in Accessibility, Mac OS X Lion, OS X Snow Leopard, Updates | Leave a comment

Updates, 4/9/12

It’s the first time that I’ve had some time to work on the website with a full day’s worth of attention. Thus, I have added updates to several pages with additional information. This includes the
Tips and Tricks for the Mac page
and the
Training and Support page.
As usual, my thanks to those who have given me permission to post their material from the various user lists. This includes Mr. Lewis Alexander, who presents a really nice post on advice for dealing with non-Mac media formats on the Mac. I am grateful for his permission to add that to the site.

Podcasts will, hopefully, be coming soon. I am still in the process of studying for the ACSP for Lion Essentials exam, and have been busy with training jobs. However, I plan to do a podcast on a few apps for the iDevices and a return to the Mac with a VoiceOver Utilities overview.

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Thoughts on the New iPad

It took a little longer than I initially had in mind, but I finally purchased the new iPad last week. I have, of course, been using it regularly, and, for example, have transferred all my study material for the ACSP OS X Lion Essentials exam.

Firstly, though, let me get a question out of the way that I frequently read on the various blind Mac and iDevice user email lists. I can’t tell you how many times this has cropped up over the last few years, and I’m always fascinated by the range of responses that are offered. That question has to do with whether someone should buy an iPad if they already own an iPhone or a laptop of some kind.

My basic philosophy is this. If you are happy with what you have, then don’t buy an iPad. Some folks can do with just an iPhone or can get tasks done with their laptop, and buying an iPad might be an expense that is too much to justify.

On the other hand, the iPad, to me, is an amazing device that simply cannot be categorized. When I am asked to explain why an iPad is more advantageous to use over a laptop, it is difficult for me to really put my comments in words. You really have to use an iPad to discover what a fantastic device it is, and then you will figure out how this little beastie cannot be accurately categorized or compared to a laptop or net book.. Continue reading

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Update, 3/12/12

As a quick update, I added the user guide for the iPhone and iOS 5.1 to the
Documentation page.

As a side note in relations to the documentation, the RTF files for the Apple manuals might load slowly in your word processor application of choice. I am assuming this is a product of converting them from PDF, but I’ve noticed that the RTF versions take a few seconds to load into Text Edit on the Mac.

More to come soon as time permits. Again, as I have written here a bunch of times, I welcome any help with contributions and podcasts. I would like nothing more than to have other community members assist and contribute here.

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Update, 3/11/12

Please excuse my lack of updates and additions to the site. My training schedule for Mac and iDevice clients has gotten busy, and, on top of that, I am in the midst of preparing for the Apple Certified Support Professional exam for Mac OS X Lion Essentials. This is turning out to be quite an intensive process, and my personal schedule to have accomplished this has not fallen into place. This has been mainly because the training guide is almost 1100 pages, and the lack of regular free time has caused me to be unable to read through it and prepare on a fixed schedule.

With that said, for the next 2 or 3 weeks, I am not going to have much time to add anything to the site of any major consequence I have an iOS 5.1 user guide for the iPhone that will get posted and a few other things, but this might not come swiftly. I apologize in advance for this.

Additionally, I will be purchasing the new iPad, and will post my thoughts and reactions to the device when I use it. I must correct my reference to the iPad as, the iPad 3, in the news section of the site. The new iPad is being called simply, iPad, as Apple is dropping the number convention on the iDevices. This is, of course, logical, as the iMac, Mac Book Pro, and Mac Book Air are not designated with numbers.

Finally, there does not seem to be any new additions or major fixes to iOS 5.1 and VoiceOver. I can say that the phone is a bit snappier, but there is now a strange bug present in which if you touch the screen as soon as you wake the phone from sleep, you end up in the Phone app. The work around I have found is to wait about 3 seconds before you first touch the screen.

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More on Mountain Lion

With there being more news on the Mountain Lion update to the Mac OS that is reported to be coming this summer, here is another pretty informative Mac World article on it. Note also that Mac World does some pretty good looks at the specific new features in Mountain Lion, such as Reminders, notes and the Notification Center.

Here is the main article.

As a side note, there is no specific news on what is coming for VoiceOver and Mountain Lion. I find it a little disturbing that some have taken it upon themselves to make claims that there will be no improvements to VoiceOver or generalize their own specific issues they are having with Lion to make it seem as if they are universal problems. Let’s just wait and see what Apple does and stop assuming and speculating about things that won’t be revealed until Apple is ready.

In the mean time, though, if you have suggestions or specific bug reports that you know for sure are not limited to your system configuration, I would highly suggest dropping a line to Apple Accessibility. Now is the time to let them know.

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Mac OS X Mountain Lion

Today, it was announced that a preview version of the next major update, the 9th, to the Mac operating system, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, was made available to developers. From what is being written, a summer release is expected for the update.

Mountain Lion will, from all reports, continue to move the Mac OS to a much more iOS feel. This will include apps and features familiar to those of you using an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, such as the Reminders app, Game Center and Notification Center, as well as the iMessage capability, which is called, Messages. In fact, there is a public beta of the, Messages, App for the Mac that you can download and try. This will replace iChat, though all of the iChat services will still be available. If you’d like to try the beta,
go here.

To read about some detailed information about what to expect in Mountain Lion,
See here.

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Updates, 2/1/12

Just as a couple of pieces of information, over the last day, Apple released an update to both their Airport Utility and a firmware update for all of their routers, the Airport Express, Airport Extreme and Time Capsule. For 802.11G or earlier users, the version for Airport Utility is now 5.6, while 802.11N is 6.0. For the router firmware, the version is now 7.6.

What is of note for VoiceOver users is that the Airport Utility interface has changed to resemble how it appears in the iOS Airport Utility App. If you have used Airport Utility in the past only on the Mac, the change might be a little disconcerting at first. Just interact on the network group and then the image of your Airport router to get to the interface. You can also VO-space on them to bring up a popover with specific information. You will first have to VO-space on the edit button once you interact with your router to make any changes and get to the relevant tabs. There is also a scroll area you can interact with as well once you have interacted with your router. It’s actually pretty straight forward once you have explored a bit.

Everything, thus far, I have found to be accessible with VO. Even the image of your router will identify the status of the router and let you know the color of the light that is displaying, such as green or amber. It seems like Apple paid close attention to accessibility in this update.

The only downside, beyond having to figure out where to find things, is that I have read that some more advanced features that would be of more interest to IT folks has been removed. It is not known if this is just a temporary situation that will be corrected in future versions of the software or not. You can, however, read about the opinions and information on the missing features in several places, including macworld.

Additionally, today, an update for Mac OS X Lion was released. The current version of the OS is now 10.7.3. Thus far, there doesn’t seem to be anything new in regard to VoiceOver as of yet.

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