Portable Player Portal slightly updated

November 4, 2006

I have made some small changes to the Portable Player Portal pages, including reference to the new iTunes scripts, a change on the mailing list page and so on.


iTunes and JAWS – the Latest News …

November 4, 2006

It has been some time since I posted a message to the Blog, but I wanted to advise people about the latest release of iTunes version 7.


First, I have produced JAWS for Windows scripts to support this release of iTunes, and yes they do function with the latest release which is 7.0.2.  However, I would advise you not to upgrade from iTunes 6 unless you really have to.  Apart from the change in the design of the program requiring separate JAWS scripts, we are unable to support JAWS 7.10.  The visual changes in the product are so different to the extent that JAWS 7.10 has tremendous difficulties in interpreting some of the information on the screen with the JAWS Cursor accurately enough to be anywhere near reliable, and I will not release a product version which I know to be unstable even in part.


So the reality is at the moment unless things change, you can use iTunes 7 but only up to and including JAWS 7.0.  This is unfortunate as you may need to upgrade to iTunes 7 because:

A. The new iPods rely on this and

B. If you update the firmware in your older iPod, iTunes version 7 is required as the older iPod Updater program no longer deals with that situation.


I have provided a link above to the iTunes scripts so you can read about them if you wish to do that.  We are now up to version 3.0 of scripts to support iTunes 6 and 7 as there are now two downloadable programmes. 


For the avoidance of doubt, iTunes version 6 is supported up to and including JAWS 7.10.

Text Review of the PTR2

August 12, 2006

I have written a short text review of the Plextalk PTR2 if anyone is interested in reading it.  The review contains links to useful resources relating to the product.


The Plextalk PTR2

August 5, 2006

Here is a message I wrote to the mailing list of the British Computer Association of the Blind concerning the Plextalk PTR2. 


I thought a lot about whether I wanted an Edirol R09 from Roland or the Plextalk PTR2 available from RNIB and for what I want to be able to do, I decided that the Plextalk for me was the better unit. Clearly this recorder is larger than the R09, and it is a DAISY recorder and the built-in microphone is certainly not as good as the R09. However, especially when used with an external microphone or sound mixer, this is a wonderful piece of equipment.


I wanted a recorder allowing me to produce material in daisy format if required (which it is quite often), which also gives me the ability to store large quantities of recordings without the need to connect it to a PC or use a card reader within a computer to transfer the material, and which gives me extremely comprehensive audio editing capabilities without the need again to use a computer.


The PTR2 gives me all of that and a lot more. I have a 6 GB storage card which gives me approximately 105 hours of recording storage using MP3 128K stereo, or a variety of other time lengths depending upon the file format and bit rate I choose to use during recording.


The biggest advantage of the PTR2 of course is that it speaks everything. This includes the recording level status, the elapsed time of a recording, battery status, whether you are in record mode or record/pause mode – as I say all its features. Best of all, this information can be heard through headphones without intruding into the audio recording which is incredibly useful.


One of the other functions I have found invaluable is that you cannot only edit material after the recording is made, but also during the recording process. For example, if I make a mistake during recording, I can go back and overwrite the material. In addition, if I decide after recording the spoken output that I want to insert a table of contents, I can do that just by navigating to the point in the recording where it should be placed, and start the recording.  Everything I record is inserted; the machine does not overwrite the recording already made.


In summary, this machine gives me the ability to record material and edit it on the storage card, and then without the need for any external devices, write the finished product to audio or DAISY CD. Moreover, at least if I was in a conference-like situation, I could guarantee the output of my recording was going to be of a high quality and could make appropriate adjustments for example to the recording level should I need to. I would also be able to mark sections of importance either during or after the recording process which would be very useful for reference purposes.


From my Portable Player Portal web site, I shall be creating a page containing links to resources about the PTR2.


Audio Post relating to downloadable music and DAISY on a phone

July 22, 2006

In this audio post, recorded on the Plextalk PTR2, I discuss DAISY books on the Nokia N91 mobile phone, together with an excellent article from Access World concerning downloadable music, written by Janet Ingber.


Problem Regarding iPod Update

July 5, 2006

Anna Dresner reports to the Blind iPod mailing list the following piece of news concerning the iPod Updater latest release of 28 June.


I have some good news and some bad news regarding the June 28 iPod update.

If you have a Shuffle, go get it right away. It fixes several bugs. Some

iTunes music files that wouldn’t rewind or fast forward before now do, and

Format 4 Audible books which wouldn’t play in the Shuffle now do. I haven’t

had a chance to find out whether the Audible bookmarking problems have been

resolved, but this seems to be an improvement.


If you use an iPod with Rockbox, however, you may have problems. If I have

the Rockbox bootloader installed, no music in the iTunes database on my iPod

will play when the Apple firmware is running. If I uninstall the

bootloader, however, this content will play. If you don’t have any

protected content, like Audible books or iTunes music store tracks, you

should be able to use this firmware without problems. but if you do, you’ll

have to install the bootloader to play content in Rockbox and uninstall to

play protected content. I have reported this to the Rockbox list; I hope

there will be a fix soon.


iTunes 6.0.5

July 5, 2006

iTunes version 6.0.5 has been released and I am pleased to report that, with the testing I have done, there appear to be no difficulties in relation to the JAWS scripts.


Installing Rockbox on an iPod Audio Presentation

July 1, 2006

I have placed on my web site an audio presentation concerning how to install Rockbox onto an iPod. I do receive a number of enquiries about how to do this.


During the presentation, I work through which files you need to download and how to install Rockbox as a visually impaired person using a screen-reader.

Excellent Item Concerning Audio Recorders

June 29, 2006

I have just listened to an interview concerning a variety of different high quality audio recorders, available on the Blind Cool Tech web site. The item is produced by Tim Cumings who interviews Michael Lang. I thought people may be interested in this interview.


It is very refreshing when you hear an item which is interesting and where a great deal of time has obviously been put into the subject delivery and the technical presentation.

Michael Lang has a great deal of experience in using and commenting upon the merits and flaws of different audio recorders, such as the PTR2 and the Edirol products. But apart from that, Tim asks some very good questions and has paid particular attention to the editing of the interview to ensure you only hear relevant content.


The item is concluded with a brief discussion about Rockbox and MP3 players which is also very interesting. Michael has both the PTR1 and the PTR2 recorders and, since I would really like to own a PTR machine, I would love to know the differences between both products. Are there any audio reviews available yet of the PTR2?


In Touch discussion on iTunes

June 27, 2006

On 11 October 2005, Anna Dresner from the National Braille Press in the US, who wrote the book The iPod experience, and I, talked on the BBC Radio Four programme In Touch about iPods and iTunes.


I did not know this programme had been archived, but I have just found it and here is a link to listen to it. 


People Wanted to Test “Buy Track” Script

June 25, 2006

If you have version 2.71 of the iTunes scripts for JAWS installed, and you would like to test a specific script relating to the iTunes Music Store, then please let me know.


Previously, the computer screen needed to be set to a specific resolution to take advantage of the ability to purchase tracks and some other functionality.  Today however, I have implemented some alternative code into this script to see if this may be a way forward for development to deal with this and other functions. 


If you would like to try the “Buy Track” script, you must be able to place a JAWS script file into your local settings folder, you must be running JAWS 7 or 7.10, and have a fully authorised copy of the iTunes scripts.


Please send me an e-mail if you would like to test this function.

Milestone 311 Reviewed Within Infotech Magazine

June 25, 2006

The latest edition of Infotech magazine produced by T&T Consultancy Ltd features an in depth review of the Milestone 311 MP3 player/voice recorder.


Unlike many of our other articles, this item has been produced by one of our listeners, Julie Rodaway.  Julie is an excellent recordist and this is demonstrated within the item.


If you are not a subscriber to Infotech currently, this may well be the time to take out membership to the magazine.  Our Sight Village special program is about to be recorded which is always very popular.

iTunes Scripts and Anna’s Books mentioned in Access World

June 25, 2006

The iTunes JAWS scripts have been mentioned within the recent edition of Access World from the American Foundation of the Blind, together with Anna Dresner’s Blog which includes, among other things, updates to her book concerning the iPod Shuffle.  You can read the article by activating this link.  Thank you Access World for mentioning these issues in your News section.


It is also worth mentioning that the E-Access Bulletin produced in the UK by headstar mentioned the iTunes scripts and the Portable Player Portal site in the June edition.  Again, thank you.  As and when the site is updated to reflect the June edition, this Blog will link to it as will the Portal itself.

iTunes scripts for JAWS 7.1 released

June 24, 2006

Now that Freedom Scientific have released JAWS for Windows version 7.10, I have produced a release of the JAWS scripts for iTunes to support the new JAWS release.  There are no feature changes, so the version number is still 2.71.


For convenience, please find below the links to the various iTunes JAWS configurations for version 2.71.


JAWS version 5.0


JAWS version 6.0


JAWS version 6.20


JAWS version 7.0


JAWS version 7.10



iTunes Scripts Version 2.71 Released

June 17, 2006

The JAWS scripts for iTunes version 2.71 have now been released and can now be downloaded from our web site at T&T Consultancy.


There are two small changes.


1. We now have better support when copying material to an iPod, particularly the iPod Nano.


2. There is a new tool which we think is much better for training the colours.




Welcome to the Portable Player Portal Blog

June 14, 2006

Hi and welcome to the Portable Player Portal Blog.

I have devoted part of my own web site to an area which I call the Portable Player Portal.

Because I am frequently making changes to the site, it is often difficult for people to easily be notified of those changes without having to read all of the text. This Blog aims to put that right. New changes can be posted here together with updates to scripts for iTunes, any useful information which gets posted to the Blind iPod mailing list which I run that may be appropriate for the Blog, and so on.

This Blog is likely to be updated quite often. We have a number of categories which posts can be divided into, and if you have a particular player, you are able to view posts specific to that player by activating the appropriate link.

Enjoy the Blog, and if you have comments, please do let me know. I want the Blog to be as accessible and as easy to use as possible, so please let me know if there are any difficulties and I will try and rectify them.