Category Archives: techie tips

Demo: Making a Text to Speech Audio File with the Mac

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I’m going to be writing up a cool book on echolocation tomorrow. I would do it today but I have a demo I want to record and I want to take advantage of an empty house since B is off this week and he’s out right now. This is different because usually I record stuff and then write up the post. This time however, I’m going to use this text to demo using the Mac to make an mp3 recording of a text document.

The book on echolocation prompted me to discover this because the author sent me a text file containing the book. I have no way of holding my place in such a large document so my friend Ricardo explained how to make an mp3 of Voiceover reading the text.

In the demo, I am going to convert this text you’re reading into an audio file. It’s so cool!

Text to Speech Demo

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Filed under Alex, apple Inc, demo, iTunes, NaBloPoMo 2012, techie tips, Voiceover

Demo: Digit-Eyes

This is yet another goofy demo of an iPhone app. I don’t think I’m capable of doing anything not goofy. This also turned into a commercial for several products haha! There a couple I give you the chance to guess though I don’t really give you too much time. I also experimented with adding an intro but I didn’t have the volume up high enough.

So without further delay, here is the forty minute Digit-Eyes demo. Here is the Digit-Eyes website. Here is the link to the AppleVis page about the app. I read through the comments there before deciding to get the app. It’s quite helpful.

Enjoy! My next demo is going to be on Text Detective. It kind of took a back seat when I got Digit-Eyes so I need to get a little more practiced with it.


Filed under apple Inc, assistive technologies, cool blinky stuff, cool product, demo, iPhone, num num food, plugs, screen reader, silly girl, techie tips

If your wireless goes out during a storm, don’t do what I did

I’ve never experienced weather affecting my wireless before. Last night it started acting up but it was late so we didn’t mess with it. Upon awakening my first thought was, I bet the internet isn’t working.

Sure enough, no internet when I woke up. I didn’t know how to start my day without Twitter to go along with coffee. I immediately started troubleshooting. I even tried getting in to a neighbor’s wireless so I could Google, but everyone is smart and password protected.

We have a router through T-Mobile because we have one of their home phones. We had gotten it after I went blind because we had both gone over our cell minutes. I’m not sure why we bother to keep it now, but anyway. The phone worked, but not the internet. I know nothing about the interworkings of a router so I thought perhaps the wireless part of it was broken. I decided to troubleshoot using an old Lynksis router I had kept.

There I was, not fully caffeinated, switching out a router blind. There’s a first for everything.

My laptop recognized the network but naturally, I couldn’t remember my old password. I tried to get in to the modem settings page to change the password but I couldn’t without being connected to the internet so I moved the laptop on top of a tall cabinet near the router to hardwire in. For some reason though, I could not access the modem page even now being connected to the net. I was chatting with Erik, checking IP configurations, neither of us understanding why I couldn’t pull up the modem page. My IP showed that my laptop was talking directly to the modem even though it was connected to the router. I realized why much later while at Gamma’s.

B got up and I finally just walked him through accessing the modem page on his desktop but I had the incorrect login information. I’m still not sure why, since I’m pretty sure Carol and I set it up to match the wireless network, but perhaps since it was a different router, therein lay the problem. I still don’t know. By this point my body was screaming after standing at the tall cabinet to access my hardwired laptop for I don’t know how long.

I decided we’d just hardwire the laptops and figure it out later since I needed to get to Gamma’s. Months ago I had planned on buying a fifty foot ethernet cable when I was dropping baseball feeds, but after Carol fixed the wireless, I never ordered the cable.

The one I had was short but B could use it for his laptop. I sent him to Best Buy to pick me up a fifty footer and he called while I was eating at Gamma’s. They didn’t have a fifty footer, only a twenty-five and it was $140. Gag what??? I told him that was nuts. I had found a fifty footer on Amazon for seven bucks. Look around, ask an employee. Best Buy was swamped so he went next door to Office Max. An employee walked right up to him, listened to what we needed and found it for him. $42. Gulp, but I was desperate and that as better than 140.

I should back up and mention that just before going to Gamma’s, I called Carol to ask what to do in Vista to get B’s laptop to recognize the ethernet. She told me, but also suggested turning off the power strip. She’s had to do that before when there’s crazy weather, which we have right now. Power everything down so it all comes back at the same time.

We did that but there was still no wireless so we left and that’s when B got my ethernet cable.

Of course I kept thinking about it the whole time I was at Gamma’s and figured out the reason my laptop was showing connection to the modem and not the router. Initially I had plugged directly into the modem. I think that’s when the laptop got confused. I then plugged into the router to attempt to access the router password.

When B picked me up, he said that when he got home, the wireless worked fine. Everything was fine. Ugh. It must have just needed more time after the power down.

Now the wireless works fine and I have a $42 ethernet cable. I can’t decide if I should return it, or hang on to it, since I’ve wanted to hardwire anyway. I can get one cheaper on Amazon, but I like the security of having the ethernet cable in my closet.

Long story short? If there’s weather and your wireless is hinky, power down, power it all down and give it time after you give it all juice again. That way you might not waste three hours on a Sunday and end up exhausted because you didn’t have your morning ritual.

Hey, at least now I know it’ll be simple to hardwire and I can do it myself if I ever so desire. 😉

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Filed under coffeeholic, fellowship, Gamma, gratitude, proud geek, techie tips, twitter me this, weather

Safari extension allows control of Flash using Voiceover

*This post is assuming you have the latest Safari.

I’ve been using my Macbook and Voiceover for about two and a half years now. I love youtube because videos load automatically and until today, I couldn’t control embedded videos using Voiceover.

Complain about tech on Twitter and ye shall receive a solution.

A fellow VO user told me to try the Click to Flash Safari extension. Extension? Didn’t know about extensions. All this time and I never knew just how customizable Safari can be.

The following will be especially helpful for Windows converts using VO since I know Firefox is highly customizable and Jaws users can actually control Flash video.

If there are any other VO users out there who don’t know about extensions, then I’ll know I’m not the only one who kept myself in the dark forever. Silly me. Anyway, let’s get to it.

To get the click to Flash extension from Apple, click here. Navigate by heading down a ways until you hear it. The install link is the one above the Click to Flash heading. I clicked the one below it and installed another extension. Oops.

It installs automatically and quickly. I’m going to embed a video here for you to see how it works after you’ve installed it.

Before you instal the extension, you won’t even know there is an embedded video here. After you install the extension, you will now have a frame here.

VO shift down arrow to interact with the frame. Click the link right before you hear “flash”. This brings up the video element controller toolbar. VO shift down arrow to interact with it and you can now control your video. The only thing missing is volume, which is a bummer in case the video is so loud you can’t hear your screen reader.

That’s it, that’s all you do. I’ve tested a few videos and some still play automatically and some don’t. Odd. But I’ll take it.

To disable the extension in case you want a bunch of videos to automatically play, open Safari preferences (command comma) and select the extensions tab. Interact with the list. You can disable or delete.

I’m thrilled. I have missed out on countless videos because websites and blogs embed the videos. Now I can control them. Yay!

PS – If you’re new to VO and need help with some of the more basic commands to do this, let me know in comments. I didn’t want to describe every key stroke unless someone needs it.

Just discovered that it’s not perfect. I’m still not able to play videos on one of my favorite Rays sites. A page like this doesn’t work. Bullocks.


Filed under apple Inc, cool product, proud geek, techie tips, twitter me this, Voiceover, youtube

Being wireless

I love wireless! I’ve wanted wireless headphones for awhile now, especially back during baseball season. I just never really looked into it. Then back in October when B bought me the wireless keyboard, I realized just how cool having wireless headphones would be, since I don’t have to be tied to a screen.

Wireless headphones are like the only thing Apple doesn’t seem to make, but on their website they recommended a pair of Motorola Bluetooth headphones. From the reviews, it seems as though they would work with the laptop, so I found them cheap on Amazon and ordered them.

They totally sucked. The paring was easy, but Alex sounded like he was talking from a storm drain. No internet audio worked, no baseball, no youtube. The sound quality was crap for iTunes. They just plain sucked. They had that classic Bluetooth clicking that was just awful.

So I looked into USB headphones. I had found out from a techie at a small electronics store that Logitech products work well for both PC and Mac, and from the reviews and the product description, they sounded like a good bet. They were much more than the Bluetooth ones, so I was waiting.

Yesterday B went to Best Buy. Yes, on black Friday. He found the headphones and made sure the packaging said they were both Mac and PC compatible and they were. They were the ones I had looked up on amazon after finding out about the awesomeness that is Logitech.

He brought them home and we had to attack the fortress of packaging to free them. B looked at the instructions and said something about a light on the transmitter being a certain color if it was communicating with the headphones. I didn’t even have to charge them!

There’s a little transmitter, about the size of a thumb drive that plugs into your USP port. There’s a little expansion cable but I don’t so much get the point of it, that you can attach it to. I attached it to it, just to have a larger thing so I’m less likely to lose it.

On Pc’s, I’ve heard they work right away. I had read that with Mac, you need to go into System Preferences, select audio, then select the headphones from the drop down for output devices. The headphones showed up immediately and once I selected them, Alex came through them in all his human sounding glory.

To get the computer’s audio back, you need to unplug the transmitter or reselect the built in output, which is kind of a bummer, but I don’t mind. It’s easy with the laptop. Also, you charge them right from a USB cable, and you can use them wired if you need to charge them while using.

The buttons are fairly straight forward on the right ear piece. I can control the computer’s volume right from the buttons. There is an on/off switch, not a button, which I like because I can really tell when they’re off.

There’s a swiverl microphone attached to the left ear piece. I doubt I’ll ever use it unless I make my one Skype call per year, so I can’t say anything about that. The headphones have the behind the head design and just like with any of these design, the tops of the ears can get a little irritated. They are fairly light weight though, and fit snugly on my ears. The cushion on the earphones is comfortable.

I immediately tested youtube and heard the internet media just fine. I walked around the apartment listening to a video and it was fine. I started an audio book and went outside. The sound was crystal clear.

I just love them! It is wonderful to not be tethered to the computer, to not get tangled in the chord, to not struggle with the chord while putting the headphones away.

I have’t noticed any interference with phones, cell or cordless. I can take my wireless keyboard and get on my computer from anywhere in the house. I’m so excited!

No one is paying me to write this, and I’m not hooked up with Amazon. If you’re interested in these headphones, they are the Logitech Wireless Headset H760.

I highly recommend. They are a bit pricey, but totally worth it! I can’t wait for baseball! I won’t miss a single pitch!


Filed under Alex, Amazon, apple Inc, baseball, cool product, NaBloPoMo 2010, proud geek, techie tips, treat for me

Importing video from iPod Nano 5G part 2

Hopefully if anyone searches for help with this, they get to this post first.

I made an important discovery after posting part 1.

By renaming my videos, the ones I wanted to keep on the iPod aren’t there. It says they are there in the finder window, but when I went to play them on the iPod, they are not there. Foiled again. It’s looking like in order to keep videos on the iPod, they have to keep the stupid 0000.mp4 name. Either that or else renaming the dat file did it. I need to do some more testing. But I wanted to post this in case anyone comes looking. Don’t rename the files on the iPod if you want them to stay there. I would copy the un-named file to the desktop or wherever and then re-name.

I’ll check out the dat file stuff and post another update.


Filed under apple Inc, proud geek, techie tips

Importing video from iPod Nano 5G

I am posting this just in case any other Voiceover users get the new iPod Nano 5g because of the video capabilities like I did, and find themselves completely lost in how to get the videos off the iPod. Apple decided that we should use iPhoto to manage videos, but Voiceover doesn’t like it. I was on the phone with Apple for a good two hours about this, and they were at a loss. Finally I was transfered to a supervisor using Leopard, who activated Voiceover to confirm my suspician that the problem was iPhoto. He actually checked some things and called me back, still at a loss, and at that point, I had figured out a work around. When I told him how I did it he said, “well that’s a round about way to shoot a horse”. Yes, yes it is. He apologized and was going to put in a ticket to the engineers about how silly it is that we can’t just manage videos from iTunes.

The last time I imported a video, I took notes on how I did it. So here goes. If anyone has an easier solution, please let me know. A Snow Leopard user looked at iPhoto with Voiceover and had the same issue, so the problem is not solved by upgrading.

In the finder window
find iPod. I have mine named “Video Pod”, so look for whatever you named yours.

VO shift M for menu, select Open.
VO shift down arrow to interact with table
Find “DCIM” VO shift M for menu, select open
VO shift down arrow to interact with table
VO shift M on where it says “000APPLE collapsed level zero” to open
VO shift down arrow to interact with table.

Here are all the videos on the iPod. There will be mp4 files and dat files. *Important* Do not delete dat files until later, I will explain. The mp4 files are your videos. They are only labeled in numeric order. If you keep track of the videos and follow the following steps to label them, later you will know what they are.
To find the video you want to re-label,
Find the mp4 file. It’ll have 0000 or 0001 etc. VO shift M for menu. Arrow down to “open with” or “always open with”. The default player is Quicktime, but it did not play the video. After selecting “open with” Select the more option. VO shift down arrow to interact with the “file browser”. Type “iTu” or scroll down to iTunes and hit enter. Your video will play and then you’ll know what it is. I just did this and I have 4 unlabeled videos. Try and remember which one you checked. If you select “always open with” and then iTunes, if you forget which one you’ve tested, when you use the menu to select open with, iTunes will show, and then you’ll know you’ve tested it. I checked the one called 0004 and it was a mistake video. I won’t delete it until I’m sure. Repeat this with all the unlabeled videos until you find the one you want.
I just went back and listened to 0003 and it was still a mistake video. 0002 is the one I want.

So now, to re-name it. Go back to your finder window.
Scroll to the one you want. VO shift M for menu. Select “get info.
VO shift down arrow to interact with scroll area. Scroll down until you hear the file name in an edit text field. Rename. I always leave the “dot mp4” extension.
VO shift up arrow to stop interacting with the scroll area, and your name change takes effect immediately.
I like to test it after I rename.
So I start from the beginning, find my renamed file, open with iTunes, at this point now, I have told it to always open with iTunes.
Now I want the file where I can find it. I usually just stick it in my finder window/desktop.
So I find my renamed mp4 file, hit command C to copy, go back to the finder after closing the window, select my desktop or wherever, hit command V and the video is now there, named the way I want, and easy to find for uploading.

You can use this same technique to delete videos off the iPod once you have moved the ones you want to keep. Do not delete dat files off the ipod if you want to play the videos on the ipod. I did that and I assume that’s why it’s not seeing the two videos I left on the ipod. The dat files are not necessary to keep to watch the videos in iTunes, all you need is the mp4 file.

Unfortunately, the names of the videos will not appear on your iPod. Voiceover on the iPod does not read anything in the list of “camera videos”. You just have to listen to clicks.

Uploading videos to youtube is fairly simple if you have an account. I select “upload” and then scroll to where it says “having problems uploading?” and follow the directions there. For some reason it works better for me then the regular upload form.

This all just took a lot of playing and trial and error to figure out. Again, please let me know if you’ve found an easier way. Maybe soon, the problem will be solved on Apple’s end.


Filed under accessibility, advocacy, apple Inc, cool product, iTunes, proud geek, techie tips, Voiceover, youtube

Adding “alt text” to images

Alrighty, I think I’ve got some good stuff.

First, I would like to say thank you again to everyone who is interested in doing this. Its been fun for me to learn more about this too. In fact, I just learned that by adding alt text to images, it helps with search optimization. So, if your blog contains a picture of a dog on a flexi, and someone searches the blogs for “flexi”, your image description can actualy help your blog come up in search results.

I just read this on the first link I’m going to provide, which is actually a blogger post explaining how and why to add alt text in Blogger. Click here to read more.

The following links are linds to other articles about adding the alt text, and some of it is pretty technical, but interesting nonetheless. I think the blog post will be most helpful though, and thats why I put it first.

Here’s another, and another, and yet another.

So those are all links about the actual code it takes to add alt text. But now, what if you’re linking to an image in say Photobucket or Flickr? Here, I don’t know if Blogger’s html editor will help. You might actually need to find in Photobucket or Flickr or wherever you’re uploading from, how to add the alt text there.

Now that you know how to add the alt text, you could actually go to your photo hosting site, and see about adding alt tags there, too. Now, I don’t know if when you upload the photo, it will do this, or not. Its not something I asked, just something that was pointed out by Steve.

So, hopefully this will help. I might should have gone and searched about the photo hosting issue, but I’ve been kinda working all morning, not the actual job, but doing the whole advocacy thing when it comes to Facebook. I narrowed down the problem to one link I was trying to post, which I’ve posted before, so I don’t know why I’m getting another security check. So thats my excuse for not searching about the photohosting and alt text.

If there are still more problems, like if you upload a photo from a web hosting site and can’t add an alt text, let me know and I’ll look into it.

Thanks again to the guys and gals at Webaim for sending me this info.

Happy programming!


Filed under accessibility, advocacy, gratitude, NaBloPoMo 2009, plugs, proud geek, techie tips

Coming soon – Image description help

I’ve asked the folks at webaim for some good resources on adding alt tags and image descriptions. As soon as I get some good stuff, I’ll compile it into a blog post.

This stuff is all very interesting to me too, and when I have a guide dog, I’m going to be doing photos myself, so it’ll just be a good resource. I think spreading the word about accessibility to everyone possible, is a good idea too. I’ve got sighted friends all over the place now paying attention to accessibility stuff, so I think its great that the word is getting out there, even among novice programmers. Who knows who might have a site some day, where this stuff will be really important.

So, I should have a pretty informative post in the next few days, if not later this afternoon!

Thanks again to everyone learning this stuff. I know some of it is frustrating, but together we can all figure it out 🙂


Filed under accessibility, NaBloPoMo 2009, plugs, proud geek, techie tips