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I like my ipad

Posted by Darrell Hyatt on August 1, 2010

Welcome to the enabling abilities to appear podcast, as many of you know Ipads are a very hot topic at the moment many people are purchasing them and as you know I purchased an ipad a little while ago and I thought it would talk about some of the things that I found in the amount of time that I’ve been working with it.

The first thing that I noticed is it’s very light and easy to carry around, I used to have a PDA and got use to putting all my appointments and everything into it and now it seems that as technology advances some things have not been able to keep up and so I ended up not using my PDA is much.  I’ve since found that the ipad has now become my PDA as well as my preferred mobile computer device, and I know that makes me sound like I’m a geek well I guess I am truly geek and ultimately that doesn’t bother me.

I find the ipad wonderful because it’s got a nice large screen I can magnify whatever I am looking at simply by dragging my fingers across the screen.  I love having Internet access anywhere there’s a wireless connection for me to use, it allows me to work on ideas and in so on it allows me to share my website content with anyone anywhere.

One of the other things that I think is very useful is the fact that there’s so many unique and useful applications available for the  ipad, I for example have a jumbo calculator with large size buttons that was free and as you may know I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking to create transcripts for my podcasts as well as do a great deal of my work using Dragon which is a speech recognition software program and to my great surprise there’s a version of Dragon available for the ipad.

It does require that you be connected to an Internet connection for it to work however, with an Internet connection I am able to use the software to dictate notes and so on to myself which I can then e-mail to any one of my numerous e-mail accounts and transfer it to my computer and this application is free.

Because there’s so many different applications that are either free or inexpensive for example you can get the pages word processor for $9.99.  My wife the Left Thumb Blogger uses her ipad as a communication device and she uses a program called Proloquo2 go which was I believe around $200 which makes the ipad a very useful and very inexpensive communication aide when you consider that a lot of the adaptive technology and communication programs available are several thousand dollars.

So in comparison you could get an ipad with say Proloquo2go for approximately $1000 and you have much more functionality, you wouldn’t have the stigma of feeling different because you’re using different adaptive technology.  The ipad is now readily available and many many many people have it so an individual using it with a disability for whatever purpose whether it be communication writing whatever the individual needs to do they would fit in because the ipad the has now become standard and recognized almost anywhere you go.

My first impression after using the ipad for a month or so now is I love it, it has great functionality great potential I would recommend getting a case for one when you purchase it and I only see the applications list available for the ipad as growing.  Even though you may not find exactly what you are looking for right now you will certainly find something that you can get started with and as time goes by there will be many more applications available

If you have any questions comments or concerns please feel free to e-mail me at darrellh@enablingabilities.com you can visit my website which is www.enablingabilities.com Thank you very much.

Magnification made Easy

Posted by Darrell Hyatt on July 1, 2010

Welcome to the enabling abilities to appear podcast I’m going to continue my series on the Ease of Access Center which is part of Windows 7.  It used to be cold accessibility options in earlier versions of Windows, in my last podcast I talk to will be on screen keyboard.

In the this episode I’m going to talk about the magnifier in earlier versions of this particular application you could magnify the screen anywhere from 1 to 9 times, which was a significant amount if you were an individual who had minor difficulty seeing items that were particularly small such as icons this was quite sufficient.

You had significant options as well in terms of whether you want to follow cursor all those sorts of things you could do, the magnification area itself could be adjusted in size  to cover approximately half of the screen it did take some getting used to.

In the new version of this particular program you have the option of having the magnification area docked at the top and you can drag it to any size you want including the entire screen. Docked is the way the magnifier worked in earlier versions.

You also have here the option of what’s called a lens and that is simply the same as if you are carrying around a magnifying glass and looking at various options, it will follow the mouse etc you can make the lens any size you want tall or thin and long. whatever basically suits your needs the best.

The new version also allows you to go to full screen magnification which by far is my favourite of the options and this allows you to have the whole screen magnified and so there’s no separate area where the magnification shows up and another area where you are moving your mouse that’s the standard regular size of everything which some users had found disconcerting and hard to get used to.

One of the other things that I noticed in your version of the software is that the magnification is simply done in percentages rather than times magnified from 2 to 9, now it’s 100% 200% etc. you can go all way up to 1600 times which is very very significant and makes things extremely large but then the graphics themselves are very jagged and somewhat unclear.

I would find it very hard to use the software with the magnification that high, over all I find the new version of the magnifier very well done has some nice enhancements gives you a lot more flexibility in not only what you can do with the magnifier, but how you use it and where you have it on your screen.  You can also invert the colors with this version and it’s very neat very crisp and again a nice enhancement.

If have any comments, questions, or concerns please feel free to e-mail me at darrellh@enablingabilities.com or visit my website which is www.enablingabilities.com Thank you very much.

Ease of Access Review Part 1 On-Screen Keyboard

Posted by Darrell Hyatt on June 1, 2010

Welcome to the Enabling Abilities to Appear podcast, being able to use the computer and a variety of ways has always been very important as well as difficult for those people with disabilities or hand control issues, vision issues etc. and Microsoft has tried to make some of those things easier with the accessibility options in earlier versions of Windows and I thought I would look at some of those options which are available in the newest operating system from Microsoft that being Windows 7.

The first thing I noticed was they changed the name from “accessibility options” to “ease of access” once you enter the ease of access center you have very similar options to what you had in earlier versions of Windows and one of the first topics that I wanted to talk about in this multipart series was how do we enter information into the computer itself?

How do we use some of the other application are available eg how do we type in to the various programs if we cannot use a standard keyboard. now Windows 7 still has the on screen keyboard but they have made a few very significant changes in the application.

The first one is that you can now actually re-size the keyboard and make the keys significantly larger, in earlier versions of the on screen keyboard yes you could physically make keyboard larger by clicking on the corners and dragging it to whatever size you wanted but the actual size of the physical keys on the keyboard did not change in size.  It was only the space around the keys to her on the edge of the keyboard itself that grew larger.

In the new version that’s part of Windows 7 however, as you drag a corner to make the keyboard larger the keys themselves all only come larger which means they are a much easier target for individuals to hit there’s less chance that you’re going to accidentally hit the wrong key.

One of the other things that I notice which is also very beneficial is they have now got word prediction built into this onscreen keyboard which means as you type several letters in the word it’s going to make some guesses as to what words you want and will put five of them up across the top of the keyboard.  If one of the words shown there is a word that you want you simply go up and click on it and it will complete that word for you.

This keyboard also has the various input methods available to you that we’re in earlier versions you can use the mouse and click on the key’s, this does require good manual dexterity and good use of the mouse.  We have the hover or dwell click is there so if you simply leave your mouse still over a key for a given period of time which is adjustable you will type the letters. There is a scanning method as well and you can use a variety of keys such as the spacebar to activate the scanning.

So there are quite a few options available for anyone that needs this particular piece of technology and I’m glad to see that they made the enhancements because in earlier versions that usually meant having to go to a third party on-screen keyboard which had the word prediction and completion in it.  This feature along with the ability to resize the actual keys is going to make it useful for a significant number of people.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns please feel free to e-mail me at darrellh@enablingabilities.com please feel free to stop by my website which www.enablingabilities.com. Thank you very much.

Podcast editing tips & tricks

Posted by Darrell Hyatt on May 7, 2010

Welcome to the enabling abilities to appear podcast today I thought I would share with you some of the tips and tricks that I’ve learned about creating and editing my podcast.

When I first started to learn not only what podcasts were but how to create them, one of things that I thought was going to be the most challenging was learning to do the editing to create the best sounding podcast that I could.  This is always my goal no matter how long I’ve been podcasting or how many podcasts I create.

Over time I’ve learned a few secrets that I would like to share with all of you, the first thing that I learned which has been very helpful is to relax and be myself because over time we get more comfortable with who we are and the way we speak and the way we sound.

Originally I thought that my podcast were very awful and there was way too many sounds and noises like the mouth clicks the breathing sounds, the dreaded um’s and ah’s that all of us have when we speak.

As I go along I now tend to not worry about those quite as much because I know I can edit them out and one of nicest things that I’ve been able to do is the learn what works best for me, one of the items that I tend to do now is rather than amplifying the audio file at the very beginning before I start my editing and my removal of the unwanted noise as I use to do before I tend now not to do the amplification until the end.

I go through and do my noise reduction processes first I use a program called Audacity to record and edit the audio file itself, and using audacity and other programs such as Wavepad pact you can do many wonderful things including noise reduction.  I found if I do the noise reduction first it takes out a lot of the unwanted background noise first which eliminates having to try and remove it later when it’s more mixed in with my voice, and it tends to stop the drop-off factor of losing the high and low ends of my speech.

When the noise reduction is done later and once I’ve done the noise reduction then I go through and remove the obvious unwanted breath sounds and the other annoying sounds like the mouth clicks.

Once I’ve got the majority of those out then I go ahead and do the amplification and then if necessary I will redo the noise reduction for the final product which should if everything is done correctly be fairly clean.

The other issue that I had is the length of breaks between when I speak, initially when I first started I tended to take a lot of that empty space out of my recordings trying to match up every time I took it out to try and take out the exact same amount and even things out.  While over time I have  learned that this is not really my natural speech pattern that people have of come to know and understand for me.

I’ve learned to take out the major silences and leave some of the minor silences in to keep the natural flow of my speaking and I realize that every person has a different speech pattern and so on and we just have to think about what works best for you what is most comfortable and adapt your podcasts to that same pattern of your speaking. Hopefully these tips are helpful.

if you have any questions comments or concerns please feel free to e-mail me at darrellh@enablingabilities.com.  You may also visit my website which is www.enablingabilities.com.   Thank you very much.

Do you need two computers

Posted by Darrell Hyatt on April 1, 2010

Welcome to the enabling abilities to appear podcast, as many of you know I purchased a new quad core computer recently with Windows 7.  I’m happy to report that the computer is working fine.

There is however a case to be made for having two computers in one’s office and keeping your old computer as the second machine in your office.  If you are a entrepreneur and solopeneur as I am in the computer field I have found since working with Windows 7 that some of the software that I had been using particularly the video production software, and some of my software for providing online training and doing webinars does not work at all or well on Windows 7.

This is in no way a reflection on either the software that I’m trying to use or on Windows 7 because Windows 7 is still relatively new some pieces of software have not completed their testing and software adjustments to work correctly with Windows 7.

Because I have gotten so used to using these particular pieces of software it becomes evident to me that there is a strong case for keeping one’s old computer hooked up to not only as a backup in the interim while year switching your files and your other software over to Windows 7.

But if there are cases where the software you use doesn’t work well in Windows 7 at the moment and your very partial to using that software your only option at this point is to keep your old computer running.   This then brings up the question of how I actually used to computers when I’ve only got one monitor for example and then does this mean that I have to have two keyboards and two mice set up on my desk at which point you screen because you don’t have room on your desk for two of everything.

Luckily there is a way to use your existing monitor your existing keyboard and your existing mouse with a device called a KVM switch which you can get at any computer retailer in your area, their approximately $50-$70 and then you can connect two computers to one monitor one keyboard and one mouse.

So that when you want to use computer A you connect using your KVM switch, when you want to use computer B you simply press a button on the KVM switch and you are now using the other machine this way you can switch back and forth you can get your files from your old machine, you can run whatever software you need either from your old machine or your new machine.

It makes it very nice for testing your programs while you’re in the midst of the changeover from the old computer to a new computer.  It also allows you less non productive downtime because you’ve always got the old machine to continue working from, and another benefit of doing this is should you have a failure on one of your computers you’ve got the other one to immediately go to to work or get the materials you need to do the repair on your system that is not working.

These are a few of the reasons why I am now going to go back to having two computers.

If you have any questions comments or concerns please feel free to e-mail me at darrellh@enablingabilities.com or visit my website which is www.enablingabilities.com Thank you very much.

My Quandary

Posted by Darrell Hyatt on March 15, 2010

Hello and welcome to the Enabling Abilities to Appear podcast. Today I wanted to discuss an issue that is important to all of us as entrepreneurs and solopreneurs,

and some of us have more difficulty with this than others.

The topic I want to talk about is how do we provide good customer service without going too far, and by that how do we provide good customer service so that we give our customers value and yet don’t spend more time than is necessary and thereby lose our self money or cost our self money.

Recently I had a situation where a new client wanted me to do some work on his computer and I didn’t have a problem with the work that was requested however, when I looked into the machine itself and saw that there was quite a few significant issues with the machine I spent a great deal of time trying to find solutions for his particular issues and essentially provide the service that he had asked me to provide.

Ultimately for me after spending several hours and exhausting all possibilities to do the work that was needed I was unable to come up with a solution to his particular problems.  The next question for me became how much do I charge this individual knowing that the work that was needed was not able to be done and this was due to issues that were beyond my control as well as his.

So as I this left me with the quandary of how much do I charge, if I charge what I should for the number of hours I spent to the invoice would be a great deal of money which would make the client unhappy and ultimately would make me unhappy because I felt that there was a good likelihood I would lose this individual as a long-term client.  So I ended up picking the number that I was comfortable with for the invoice, knowing that I was losing money and that’s what I ended up going with.

Between myself and the client we ended up resolving issues and he is now a happy client who knows what his next step is going to be in terms of the next computer and so on.  I am sure that I will see this person again as a client but it still leaves me with that quandary of what happens the next time.

How do I resolve this issue of getting paid what I’m worth as well is getting paid for the hours of time that I do put in, no matter which way you look at this there’s many different answers and hopefully at some point I will come up with something that benefits both myself and the individuals I work with.

I look forward to hearing your responses to this difficult questions.  Please feel free to visit my website which is www.enablingabilities.com and feel free to comment on this particular podcast.  Thank you very much.

Useful Applications for All (Part 2)

Posted by Darrell Hyatt on February 15, 2010

Hello and welcome to the enabling abilities to appear podcast. Earlier this month I did a podcast about some of my favorite tools that I use frequently and I didn’t have a chance in that podcast to talk about some of the tools that I use to create this podcast or any of the videos that I’ve done, some of which have been posted on YouTube.

So I thought I would take this opportunity to do a part two of the favorite tools that I use the first one I want to talk about is a program called Audacity it’s a free sound recording tool that allows you to record an audio file you can do some very interesting editing with it as well I use it because it works very well in conjunction with Dragon Naturally Speaking and the recognition of the text from the audacity wave file is very good.  You can get audacity from http://www.sourceForge.net.

Another program that use is called WavePad, this is the program that I used for editing my audio files for my podcast.  It allows me to clean up the audio remove unwanted noise and any extra words or phrases like the dreaded” um” Word.

I can remove that using WavePad and create a very clean audio file.  Another one           that I use for my podcast for the mixing of the audio file itself and the music that you hear at the beginning and end of my podcast, the program that I use to put all that together into one file is called MixPad.

Both MixPad and WavePad come from the same company and it’s called NCH software.com there is the free version of both wave pad and MixPad, but they will only work for a short period of time and then you will be asked to purchase a copy.

When it comes to working with video I have two programs that I’m going to talk about the first one is Adobe Premier elements eight, this is the latest version of the Adobe Premier elements series it handles all types of video files including high-definition video which I’ve just moved into recently and love it very much.

The Adobe Premier elements is a very useful program it has advanced features allows you to a great number of effects and yet is simple to use and the results are very good. The program itself can be downloaded in a trial format from www.adobe.com the price for Adobe Premier elements is approximately one hundred and fifty dollars.

The other program I use for video is one called Camtasia Studio. This program can be downloaded in a trial format as well from www.techsmith.com

I like Camtasia Studio because it is a screen recording program which allows me to capture what’s on my screen of my computer and save it as a video. This is very useful when creating training videos or wanting to produce a demonstration on how to do a particular computer task.

It allows me to show individuals exactly what to do as if I was in the room with them. Camtasia Studio also allows me to create captions for my videos which means that they are accessible to a wider audience, those people who are deaf hard of hearing for example can view with full functionality my videos and thereby allows me to reach a wider audience with the information that I have.

Camtasia Studio is approximately $300 US, and again it is a very worthwhile program for anyone that wants to get into videos particularly where you need to capture your screen.

I hope these tips on the programs that I use to create my products and services will be helpful to you in getting some ideas where to look if you were would like to try out any of these particular programs.

If you have any questions comments or concerns please feel free to e-mail me at darrellh@enablingabilities.com you can also visit my website which is www.enabling abilities.com Thank you very much.

Useful Applications for All

Posted by Darrell Hyatt on February 1, 2010

Hello and welcome to the enabling abilities to appear podcast. A few days ago I was talking with Glenda the left thumb blogger about how things had to changed in the world of computing and in particular how there were so many more tools available for individuals and small business to do things that weren’t possible in a short time ago.

So I thought I would look at some of my favorite application and pass along some of them to you and see if maybe they would be helpful for you. I would also be very interested in your comments about some of the software tools and so on that you find very useful for you or your company’s.

The first program that I find indispensable at this point now is Skype which is a communication program that you can use for communicating with individuals all around the world as long as they have Skype. And Skype is a very nice free application you can download it at www.skype.com I often use this to communicate with my clienta help them with their tech support questions.

Now another application that works very well in conjunction with Skype is called Mikogo and that can be found www.mikogo.com Mikogo is an application that will allow me to see the other person’s computer screen. This is very helpful when doing tech support or application training because being of those see their screen I can advise them what to do next in real time and I’m certain of what’s going on it’s not a case of them having to try and describe what they’re looking at I can actually see it at the same time that they are seeing it.

Another program that I use a great deal is called Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I’ve done several podcasts on the software earlier, because it allows me to speak into the computer and it types for me I’m able to be much more productive because I only type at five or 10 words a minute and yet I can dictate at probably 30 to 40 words a minute and once you train this particular software on the sound of your voice it works extremely well I get approximately 85 to 90% recognition of the text that I dictate.

It also has other features such as playback so that I can listen to the text that I’ve typed which works well for editing and spelling mistakes and just allowing me to make sure that I get the message across that I really want to.

Dragon Naturally Speaking also allows me to transcribe other audio files that I’ve done into a text format you can find out more about Dragon Naturally Speaking at www.nuance.com So those are a few of my favorite applications that I love to use that I use very frequently and I hope you find those particular programs useful to you.

if you have any questions comments or concerns please feel free to e-mail me at darrellh@enablingabilities.com you can also visit my website which is www.enablingabilities.com.  Thank you very much

Welcome 2010

Posted by Darrell Hyatt on January 11, 2010

Welcome to the enabling abilities to appear podcast.  Another year has come to an end

ended and a new one has started. I would  like to say happy new year to everyone, I hope that your holiday season was everything you expected and more.

I look forward to 2010 for many reasons, first of all I’m very anxious to get started on some of my projects for the new year.  The most important one is connecting with more individuals and helping more people reach their goals

I have many things that I’m going to try and implement this year, the first of which is doing more podcasts on more topics of interest to you the end user.  I also want to start producing many short videos on a wide variety of computer topics to be put up on YouTube to enable me to reach more users and thereby help more individuals with their computer needs and questions.

Early this year I would also like to implement my own office hours.  This would be a chance for individuals to connect directly with me in real time through one of my meeting rooms. The  idea being if you have a question or concern relating to a computer topic, a adaptive technology question or anything else will have the opportunity to ask that question and receive answers and comments directly from me at that particular moment in time

Having said all this there’s one thing that this is going to require besides time on my part, it’s help from you the people who are listening to my podcast I would very much appreciate hearing from you with your questions, concerns, comments or topics that you would like to see covered even a podcast, a video, or in my office hours.

I would also like to let you know that you can now subscribe to my podcast by e-mail visit www.enablingabilities.com to sign up.  Thank you very much.

Happy Holidays 2009

Posted by Darrell Hyatt on December 5, 2009

Welcome to the enabling abilities to appear podcast.. 2009 is almost over and the holiday season will be here shortly. This year has gone by very quickly for me, I had so many plans and so many ideas of things I wanted to do, some of which I was able to do others I was not.

My business is currently undergoing some changes in a variety of ways including how I want to better service my clients both all and new. I am changing my website adding new features and new ways for people to communicate and interact with me. I will be doing a series of webinars in the New Year on how to create transcripts for your podcasts.

I look forward to 2010 I want to make it my best year yet, I look forward to working with new people, take on new challenges and projects and overall help more people to reach their goals in full potential.

I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season whatever that may be for you, I also wish you the best in 2010. Please feel free to e-mail me at darrellh@enablingabilities.com.  or visit my website www.enablingabilities.com.  thank you very much.