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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Updates, 1/26/12

Yes, I know it’s been a while, certainly a lot longer than I expected. However, finally, I have finished the next episode of the Audio Demonstration Series. As usual, it can be found in the
Demonstrations page.

I have turned my attention to iOS and, specifically, the Siri Assistant on the iPhone 4S. It is not a detailed demonstration, but I cover some basics and discuss a VoiceOver bug in Siri that has been brought up on the viPhone email list.

In addition, I have added some additional information to all of the Tips and Tricks sections of the site
and the
How To pages.

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Updates, 1/10/12

Happy New Year to all. I hope this post finds everyone starting off the new year on a positive note and with high expectations for 2012.

To start off the new year for Mac for the Blind,, I have tweaked the
Links page
with some minor updates and corrections to a few broken links.

I’ve also updated the information in the
Demonstrations page
in regard to the new place where one can find Recaardo Walker’s podcasts on using Garage Band 6 with VoiceOver and his Apple to the Core Podcast. He has moved his valuable resource,
here.

Keep checking back for some updates to other parts of the site and a continuation of the Audio Demonstration Series.

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Updates, 12/23/11

The only recent updates to the site were a few added links on the
Links Page.

I also wanted to take the opportunity to wish everyone a happy holiday season, a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. Thus far, I have not been able to get my iPhone demos to work acceptably for a podcast, as I cannot get Siri to record well. However, I must also add that I really have not done a lot of work on that and probably won’t get to do so until after the holidays.

In any event, I also wanted to thank everyone who accesses this site and who have kindly written me about it. It is the encouragement and kind words from many of you that has enabled me to keep up my enthusiasm and dedication to maintaining it. Without the community, this site would not be possible, so, once again, my most sincere gratitude to you all for your support. I have plenty of ideas for things next year, so God willing, there will be some additions and other features coming.

John Panarese

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Updates, 12/15/11

I added a Braille version of the VoiceOver Getting Started with Lion manual, which Apple has available on their site. It comes in 3 volumes and can be read with a Braille display supported by VoiceOver. It is, as usual, in the
documentation page
of the site.

It isn’t Apple related, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Serotek, makes of the System Access screen reader for Windows, just announced a special program that is available for American veterans. The program, SAMNet Vets, gives a lifetime membership to their System Access Mobile Network for qualified veterans, and those interested can send in an application. You can read the press release from Serotek
here.

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Updates, 12/12/11

A lot of people have asked me if there is a resource for finding out what apps are accessible on the Mac with VoiceOver. There used to be a database for this, and there have been a few folks who tried to take up such an undertaking as far as creating an active list.

I was happy to hear that the folks at the Applevis site are now going to include Mac apps, as well as iOS applications. You can read the announcement
here.

Ricardo Walker has added another podcast on Garage Band. I have added a link to this on the
Demonstrations page.

Finally, no, the Audio Demonstrations are not dead. I still intend to do some others as well as add some other content to the site. Unfortunately, with the holidays, I am finding time to be a problem, as I am also trying to make a living doing a variety of tasks. I can’t promise anything significant over the next few weeks, but I will try my best.

Again, as always, contributions are certainly welcome, and if anyone has articles or information or just feels like writing, please feel free to contact me.

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Thoughts About the Apple Time Capsule

The Time Capsule is the highest end of the “Airport” devices Apple has to offer. In essence, the Time Capsule is a combination backup system and router, which is a great solution for someone who needs both of this functionality in a single device because of its convenience. The Airport Express, and Extreme Base Station, are the other two devices Apple has to offer, the Extreme being great for streaming music to a stereo system through iTunes, and the Extreme being like a Time Capsule without a built-in hard drive.

I will start off by saying up front that the Time Capsule is not for everyone and because of its ?$399 and $499 price for a 2 or 3 TB drive respectively, it might be a bit too expensive for most folks to invest in. However, for me, I was looking for a simple solution for backing up both my Mac Mini and Mac Book Pro that would decrease the number of wires and connections required to do so. I have collected 2 external hard drives over the years, both being Lacy drives with one being a 500 GB model and the other being a 2 TB model. However, swapping cables between my USB hub to my computers and a Firewire connection to boot just was getting tiresome, and I was contemplating the Time Capsule option for a while. I had bought an Airport Extreme Base Station about two years ago to replace my router when it died, so I was quite familiar and happy with using an Apple router for my home network.

Apple’s Black Friday deals gave me the incentive to go through with the purchase. There was a reduction in the 3 TB model of the Time Capsule, and I had some Apple gift cards from family for my birthday to use as well. Thus, my wallet didn’t take a seriously significant hit when all was said and done. I will admit that it wasn’t a necessity to buy the Time Capsule right now, and I had originally planned to do so in the spring, but I noticed the price reduction when I was browsing on Black Friday, and the temptation got the better of me. I also had some money put aside from Mac training that I had done, which merely eased the choice for me. Continue reading

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