Important Messages, such as Service Disruption and Opening Times.

Our office hours are Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM UK time. We will try to give assistance to those people not living in the UK outside of those hours if possible.


SPL Studio scripts for JAWS updated

JAWS scripts for StationPlaylist Studio version 5.0 have now been updated to build 6.

There are two notable changes.

First, in the Adjust JAWS Options dialog box, the second item in the list is an option to enable or disable the notification that you have reached the top or bottom of a list, such as a playlist. It is enabled by default.

Second, in the documentation I have included instructions for modifying the JAWS default scripts to make it possible for some notifications to speak or play a sound globally, such as when a song is about to end. Usually the installer would make these modifications, however it seems that the installer I use does not install to JAWS version 14.0 if that is the only version on the machine. Despite my very best efforts including public appeals, I am unable to find anyone who is able or willing to help with the creation of an installer to do this work. As a workaround, this is all I can do. It may help if you have multiple versions of JAWS installed.

If you are already using the scripts for 5.0, just extract the contents of the zipped file to your JAWS Settings/ENU folder of the version of JAWS you are running, replacing those which already exist. There will be no need to modify the default files if it has already been done.

You can download the scripts from

Enjoy the new update!

Review of the Mackie ProFX12 audio sound mixer


Because we undertake a lot of audio production work including internet broadcasting, we make heavy use of an audio sound mixer. For those who don't know, very briefly a sound mixer allows you to mix several audio sources together, such as microphones, the output from soundcards, musical instruments, CD players and so on. Not only can you do this but you can also vary aspects of each individual sound, such as its volume level and audio quality.

I do particularly like the sound quality of my radio shows to be as professional as possible with no distortion and minimal background noise. While we have had a mixer for the past year, the background sound emitting from it was quite significant due to the cheaper components within it. I wanted to purchase a mixer we could use for our current projects while leaving room for expansion. Having done a lot of research on the internet, I finally settled upon the Mackie ProFX12 unit.

Description of the Mackie ProFX12

This unit is built to last. It is constructed to withstand a good deal of transport and its chassis is made of steel and consequently is quite heavy. Certainly it won't be falling off a desk onto the floor!

The ProFX12 is known as a 12 channel mixer. Channels 1 through to 4 can accommodate either 4 microphones (with XLR inputs) or 4 mono line-in devices (with quarter inch jacks). Channels 5 through to 8 are two stereo pair of line-in (quarter inch jacks) or 2 additional microphones (again with XLR inputs). Channels nine through to 12 are two sets of stereo pairs with line-in quarter inch jacks. In practice, this means you could use four stereo devices and a mixture of mono inputs and microphones as a typical example. You can use a combination of any of these.

The mixer contains the ability to accommodate microphones with phantom power for those needing it. There is a "low cut" switch for each microphone input so as to reduce specific frequencies which may be helpful in some situations.

Each channel has a balance control. This may be useful if two microphones were being used and you want to have one speaker in the lefthand channel and one on the right (although I personally do not like this arrangement). Each channel also has a monitor control (described later), a gain control (for applying additional volume), three band graphic equaliser for changing the sound characteristics of the channel, a mute switch (for removing the channel from the main mix) and a level to control the effects (such as reverb). These are all rotary dials. A tactile arrow is contained on each rotary dial with a definite "click" resistance to denote the midway point. Finally, each channel has its own slider fader, situated at the point closest to you.

The graphic equalisation for each channel is particularly important as it is unlikely that two devices are going to sound the same. Even using two identical microphones, the way each person speaks may sound different requiring changing of the graphic equalisation for each one.

There are two additional functions for input I have not mentioned yet. A pair of phono sockets accommodate an additional CD player (or tape deck if you have one). However more usefully, (and very exciting), the mixer includes USB connectivity both in and out. What this means is that you can connect the unit to the computer via the USB port. You can either then send out the main mix to the computer (so as to provide internet broadcast streaming or recording), but very usefully, you can send the input from the computer back to the mixer. So if you want to record Windows sounds or internet content such as video, this can be set to be part of the main mix or bypassed if required. Alternatively, this is seen as a separate sound source in StationPlaylist Studio and so for example you could assign this internal soundcard to your cart player for jingles, as I do. Naturally, this input also has its own fader control for changing the volume.

Turning now to the righthand side of the mixer, you have outputs for a tape deck (phono), headphones (quarter inch jack with independent level control), a foot switch for controlling the effects (quarter inch jack), and sockets to send the output to various devices such as soundcards or another external recording devices (quarter inch jacks). There is also a "monitor send" described shortly and a switch to stop all output apart from the tape deck or CD player.

The mixer contains a series of 16 audio effects which can be selected by using a rotary dial. As you move the dial carefully clockwise, you feel a slight resistance notch when denotes that a new preset has been switched to. While it is true that turning the knob anti-clockwise to the left does not provide complete resistance when the first effect is reached, they do not wrap. So, turn the dial anti-clockwise enough times so as to be sure that you are at the first effect and work from there, turning the knob clockwise through the notches. A table of effects is provided in the PDF User Guide (downloadable from the company's website) and they can of course be applied either to the main mix or monitored separately.

The other item of note on the front face of the mixer is a seven band graphic equaliser to change characteristics of the main mix after it has been processed by the other controls. This (if necessary) can be bypassed entirely or used in conjunction with the monitor.

This mixer emits very little background noise which really is not noticeable except if the volume is turned to an exceptionally high level and if you possess sensitive hearing.


One notable feature on some mixers is called pre-fade. This allows you to listen to one of the channels without sending it to the main mix, such as a microphone or even your screen-reader if you have one. The latter is important to enable you to search for tracks or read email and twitter activity for example while a radio show is progressing. However, as to how mixers handle pre-fade when using headphones is different in all cases. Some mixers allow you to hear the desired channel or channels for monitoring cutting the main mix entirely, while some allow you to hear them in addition to the main mix.

We wanted to use pre-fade in two ways. First, we wanted to be able to vary the volume level of listening to the main mix without disturbing it going to air. In other words, we want to be able to hear what is going to air very much in the background. Secondly, we wanted the ability to be able to talk to each other through the microphones and to be able to hear each other through two sets of headphones and have a simultaneous conversation.

For these reasons, I purchased a mixer which had a "monitor send". Traditionally, this is used for sending the output to monitor speakers, perhaps when mixing the performance of a band and vocalists on stage. But we will use it in a very different way.

For some time, I have used a Belkin Rockstar Multi-Function Headphone Splitter. This is a device costing about seven pounds and allows for five devices to be connected via 3.5 MM jack plugs. The combined output of the five devices is sent to one pair of headphones.

So, the sequence is as follows. Connect the headphones to the splitter. Connect a cable from the splitter to the headphone socket of the mixer. Connect the splitter to the "Monitor Send" facility on the mixer.

This gives us what we need. It ensures that the main mix can be heard through the headphones and the volume can be varied according to our listening preference. However, it will also be possible to monitor other events at varying levels, such as a screen-reader and microphones. It also means we can talk to each other and hear that conversation through the "Monitor Send". It is worth saying that the "Monitor Send" has its own overall fader as well as individual faders for the different channels you wish to monitor.

Practical Scenario

What all this means is that we have an ideal broadcast setup. StationPlaylist Studio can now send the output of two internal players for playing alternate tracks to different audio sources. So I have two soundcards, each of which outputs to a SPL Studio player and controlled on different faders. This means that the output of the programme is more polished as there is no substitute in my view for decisions being made by a human as to when songs play. The timing is far better using this method.

The mixer's own internal soundcard I use for the playback of the jingles. Again, this is preferable to having it assigned to one of the other two cards used for the playback of music, since effective mixing of dry jingles and station idents can be achieved without loss of music volume.

A further soundcard is used to output my JAWS screen-reader for monitoring. This could also be used for Skype calls without a problem, although there is plenty of expansion available to accommodate a separate card for that if desired.


While the above might sound complex to setup, you can use as much or as little of this configuration as you like. But assuming everything was correctly configured, there is no doubt that everything available to you should give your programmes or productions an extremely professional sound indeed!

In terms of where the main mix is sent to, to repeat, you have a choice as to whether you connect the mixer to a recording device not associated with a computer, an external soundcard or via USB. There are no specific USB drivers for the device as it just relies on Windows "plug and play". The soundcard is displayed in the Windows Volume Control. From there, you can select the mixer's soundcard for input and output. You will want to pay careful attention to the output level in the Recording Properties of Windows so as to adjust it to something which suits the mixer's output and which will not distort. You should then subsequently test with your recording and broadcast streaming software (if you use it), such as StationPlaylist Streamer.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this review. If you live in the UK, you may like to consider purchasing the mixer from Gear4Music as they always give an excellent standard of after-sales service and prompt delivery.

In conclusion, I should say that a smaller version of this mixer exists, the ProFX8, which is identical in functionality with the exception of having eight channels as opposed to 12.

Comments on the Installer for the SPL JAWS Scripts

I have had a number of "complaints" recently about the limitations of the installer program for the StationPlaylist Studio scripts for JAWS. Essentially, on machines which only have JAWS 14 installed with no other version, the installer is unable to detect the presence of V14 and make the modification to the default files. There are people which have written to me saying this is not particularly acceptable.

Before going further, I must say that my first priority in developing these scripts is to serve the needs of our own Team-FM broadcasters. The fact that other stations are actively using and benefiting from this project I consider to be a bonus for them. almost no donations are received to help support it. So in fact people do not have a right to complain.

Having said that, obviously I want to help where I can. Currently, I am using an installer called JSX, which extracts the scripts to the correct location on the machine and makes a small modification to the JAWS default file. If anyone is aware of an alternative installer to facilitate this process, or better still is able to create one, I would welcome the opportunity of corresponding with them so as to resolve this problem. The more time I spend supporting people with this process, the less time is available for new script features and development.

Thanks for reading!

Build 5 of SPL 5 scripts for JAWS now available!

StationPlaylist 5 scripts for JAWS have now been updated to build 5.

Following yesterday's build 4 release, I was doing some further testing and decided that the scripts needed a little refinement.

As you move to the top and bottom of the list with the Up and Down Arrow keys, you will find that JAWS now advises you whether you are at the top or the bottom of the playlist. This is indicated by a chime sound if sounds are enabled. This also applies to Control+Home and Control+End.

Also fixed a problem where the new function to speak categories was not being retained.

To update, simply extract the zipped archive of the jaws files found at
to your jaws Settings/ENU folder, replacing those which already exist. Alternatively, you can run the installer.

Build 4 of SPL Studio scripts now available!

Build 4 of the StationPlaylist Studio scripts is now available for version 5.0 of SPL only.

This contains the following changes.

First, I have implemented a slightly different process for reporting the Check Box state of an item, checked or unchecked, as you move through the playlist. This makes understanding this a little easier.

Now to the main feature.

Hearing the Status of Categories

As you move through a Playlist, it could be important to hear whether an item is a Track or Spot. JAWS can be set to advise you of this. Please note that this function only is useful if you have manually inserted items into a Playlist. It will not operate if StationPlaylist Creator has created a Playlist for you.

This mode can be activated by:
Pressing StationPlaylist Key then Y which toggles the function from being enabled to disabled and vice-versa, or
From the Adjust JAWS Options Dialog Box, activated with the JAWS Key+V.

Changing the status of the mode is permanent and will remain in place even if the computer is re-started until it is changed again.
To update, simply extract the zipped archive of the jaws files found at
to your jaws Settings/ENU folder, replacing those which already exist. Alternatively, you can run the installer.

My letter to the American Foundation for the Blind


I just wanted to let you know that last week I purchased the AccessNote app and I really do love all of its features.

I am a JAWS for Windows script writer, and travel extensively using trains throughout the UK to customer sites assessing applications requiring scripting and writing the scripts themselves. To this end, I now use AccessNote for keeping a note of my train seat reservations, useful information and in particular, the details of my scripting assessments. I can then sync straight to my Dropbox account so I have the notes waiting for me when I come to writing the assessment reports.

In addition to the very useful keyboard shortcuts, I like AccessNote for two main reasons. First, I have searched for a very accessible notetaking app for the I O S platform and could not find one where all the controls spoke correctly using VoiceOver and where the text could be navigated through accurately and with ease. Second, I no longer have to carry a heavy Notetaker around with me which was previously the case. I can just take my iPad and enjoy my work even more.

It would be nice to see a feature where text could be selected using block commands as can be found on the BrailleNote Apex and Pac Mate devices.

In closing, let me thank you once again for making this very useful app available and I look forward to new features and updates as and when they arise.

With very best wishes for your product’s future!

Brian Hartgen

Reborn Dolls: For and Against.

Ok, it's stupid O'clock and I'm spitting mad. there I was on Google, just minding my own
business, doing some research about how common it was to have voice boxes in reborn baby
dolls because I had seen a tweet about one earlier in the day. As anyone who has known me
for longer than five minutes knows by now, I collect reborns, lifelike baby and toddler
dolls, I have three and I wouldn't be without them. It's an expensive but perfectly
harmless hobby which hurts no one, but oh my goodness! Doesn't it ever make some of the
quote normal women, unquote, put on their judgmental caps!

So, there I was on Google and I came across this. I
really do wish I hadn't as it made me see scarlet. There were forty comments, some of them
absolutely heartbreaking. I added my own, which I will paste in below the blog entry, which
I have copied here for your convenience, but as you see I have also linked to it.


Reborn Dolls Are Treated Like Real Babies but (Alas) They’re Still Fake

Posted by Janelle Harris on April 5, 2012 at 8:25 PM

There’s awkward and then there’s weird. Awkward is when you ask someone how their sweetie
pie is doing and unceremoniously discover they’ve detoured in Splitsville. Awkward is going
out to eat with your co-workers and having the waiter come back to the table because your
card’s been declined. Awkward is when you excitedly touch another woman’s tummy only to
learn—maybe through a choice set of words—that she is actually not pregnant.

Weird, on the other hand, is a grown lady carrying around a baby doll and seriously
pretending that that hodge podge of plastic is a real infant. That’s when awkward graduates
into straight up strange. Bonus points for toting fake baby in a carrier and (yikes)
shooshing someone while fake baby takes a nap. Silly as it seems, Reborn Dolls are bypassing
the quirkiness of a few oddball women to be a full-blown international movement involving
thousands who find comfort in cuddling a faux newborn.
Some even have electronic devices implanted that mimic a heartbeat or simulate breathing.
Now that’s freaky.

Like the folks highlighted on “My Strange Addiction,” the gals who mother Reborns don’t see
anything out of the ordinary about their little hobby. One mother of two named Becky,
saddened because she couldn’t have any more children, got a Reborn as a Christmas gift and
now hauls it around in an infant car seat, only admitting it’s a doll if people ask.
Otherwise, the un-born child, one of 10 Becky has “adopted”—because you don’t buy them, you
adopt them, like Cabbage Patch Kids minus the yarn hair and fabric bodies—is passed off as

At anywhere from $50 to $4,000, they’re pricey for a doll but a heck of a lot cheaper than a
real kid. Plus, they never grow out of their brand new sneakers, spill grape juice on the
living room carpet, or need money for college tuition.

Some women, who’ve gone so far as to build nurseries for their collections, claim having and
holding the babies is therapeutic. Far be it from me to knock anyone in their process of
healing, sometimes from losing a child, sometimes from not being able to have a child at
all. But it’s when that period extends past a progressive course of action into a full-out
alternative lifestyle that it becomes a little (or a lotta) strange.
I hadn’t even heard of it until recently, but I must confess I don’t know if I could adjust
my facial expression into a socially appropriate response if some woman revealed that the
“baby” she was carrying was indeed fake. In scouring pics of them, not a one made me want to
cuddle, nuzzle, or hug them. Meanwhile, there are plenty of real-life, flesh-and-blood
babies and children in desperate need of the kind of love and attention showered on these
faux little people. I’m just saying.
Are you weirded out by Reborn dolls?

My Comment.

I have an enormous amount of sympathy with the lady who suffered a still birth. I have two
reborn babies and one toddler and I cannot over-empasize the help they have given me and
still give me every day.
I have suffered from poor health throughout my adult life which has made me unable to have a
child of my own. I think losing a child must be a thousand times worse, but never being
able to experience motherhood when you are maternally inclined leaves a huge gaping hole
inside you that nothing can fill, or at least that was true in my case.
I found out about life like baby dolls by accident in 2005 and they have helped me such a

I know very well my reborns are not real, but I cannot argue with the fact that they have
changed my life for the better. they make me feel happy, reduce my pain levels on bad days,
take me out of myself if I get worried about things. I've heard it said that this is a
morbid obsession, that I am irrational, weird, not normal. I would respectfully submit that
we all have our ways of coping with what life throws at us. this is mine, and no one, no.
one. has any right to judge me for it. I am not abnormal, I am just me.

(End of comment.)

So, I got called an oddball, quirky, silly, freaky, strange, weird, all in the space of one
article. I suppose I can cope with that, even though, just for the record, I do not feel
the need to take my reborns out of the house unless someone has asked to see them or I've
been asked to talk about them.

The thing which really fills me with a mixture of sadness and gibbering rage is something
else I keep hearing. One of the comments left on that page said that having reborns wasn't
therapeutic, it was the reverse, a morbid obsession, especially for childless people, it
must be crule to taunt them with what they could never experience. This kind of
generalisation is insane! as I said in my comment, having the reborns really helped me to
come to terms with the no children thing, and if I had a pound and a chocolate muffin for
every story I've heard of reborns helping someone I would be a richer and a fatter woman
than I am now. People have reborns for all kinds of reasons, and for heaven's sake, who
says it's always got to be to fill a hole, heal a loss or fulfill some aching womanly
need! I know loads of people who have them because they're gorgeous things and they just
love babies, end of!

I think what gets people is that Mr Jones might have a basement full of model railway
equipment, tinker with it all weekend and every spare evening, then Mr Smith might have six
old Jukeboxes, a huge number of vinyl records and spend every weekend at car boot sales and
audio fairs getting more, while Mrs Brown haunts antiques fairs collecting old china but you
don't really see that. Some women commit the terrible crime of letting the reborn baby be
seen! Outrageous! Really not done, especially in this country.

In the end, whatever you think, who is it really hurting? I get so hot under the collar
about this because I find judgments about the way other people live difficult. Why can't we
respect that we're all different, we all have our own ways of doing things, our own likes
and dislikes, our own views. I, in my turn, respect janelle Harris's right to feel, as she
puts it, weirded out by seeing women with reborn baby dolls, but what really got to me was
her judgmental tone. She has said that the dolls did not appeal to her, even though she only saw pictures, so how can she possibly hope to understand? She said far be it from her to knock the way people healed or lived when she had spent the whole article doing just that!

When you come right down to it, what I really, really find intolerable is intolerance.

Letter to Concerning Restriction of Books on Specialist devices

I have recently sent the below letter to to encourage them to reconsider their decision not to allow specialist audio players for the visually impaired to play protected content which they offer to their paying members.


I am writing to express my concern that have taken the decision not to allow external devices to play your protected audio content, including specialist players specifically designed for visually impaired people.

I have used for a number of years now and have had a subscription of longstanding. My partner has a similar subscription. We both use a player from the company Humanware on which to listen to books, and this is particularly important for my partner as she has additional difficulties and spends a good deal of time alone. Audible is an invaluable service in that regard. It is fair to say in addition that your library of books gives visually impaired people an even wider choice of titles than similar libraries can hope to offer, certainly here in the UK, for which we are very grateful.

If the Victor Reader Stream devices we own which play your content currently malfunction in the months or years ahead, this will cause significant difficulty for us and many thousands of visually impaired people I am sure. Humanware this week launched a new incarnation of the Victor Reader Stream which sadly because of your business decision will not be in a position to play the content offered by your company.

In an interview conducted by me for our company’s podcast at
Humanware have given a commitment to updating their new player to accommodate Audible support if you worked with them, and I understand from a technical standpoint there is in fact no limitation on their part, especially since the existing Victor Reader Stream does allow the content to be played. It would seem that Humanware are more than willing to discuss this further with you.

If your company’s view is that other devices are available on which your content can be played (such as those running Apple’s I O S or Android platforms), so there is no need to allow such devices to play your protected books, I have to tell you that not everyone has the ability to access them. This may be due to a combination of factors, including being unfamiliar with the manner in which complex technology functions, recent loss of vision or poor coordination, to name but a small number of aspects. Becoming elderly or suffering with conditions such as diabetes often bring about loss of vision and difficulties with hand movement. Players developed for the visually impaired, such as Humanware’s product, contain a specially designed tactile interface to guard against such difficulties and to aid orientation. In short, the fact that modern technology now contains speech output in itself would not lessen the need for such specialist players to fill a great need and could in fact mean that Audible memberships and one-off purchases may no longer be possible for people because of this restriction.

I would like to thank you for reading and I would ask the company you represent to please reconsider your decision and to allow specialist devices to continue to play your ever expanding library.

With very best wishes:

Brian Hartgen

Does the Stream have a future? Of course it does.

During the past 24 hours, there has been a lot of discussion regarding a possible new incarnation of the Victor Reader Stream manufactured by Humanware. The VR Stream has for a number of years been a portable recorder and player, designed specifically for the visually impaired. Operated by a well-defined tactile keypad, it allows people to play books in a variety of formats including DAISY, hear text-based audio and to record notes.

If what we have heard is authentic, in addition to the existing functionality the new Stream will include enhanced text to speech capabilities(using Acapella voices), a redesigned physical structure, a clock, USB charging and the ability to record in stereo using an external microphone. Wifi is also on board to embrace digital libraries of the future.

But my reason for posting this blog entry is because people are already questioning whether the Stream has a future even before the product is launched, if it is. This is understandable to some extent because of the advancements in technology on the Android and I O S platforms and those devices offer similar functionality to the possibilities which would be provided in a new Stream.

Humanware have a very tough job on their hands as They have to keep up-to-date with new technology which the previous hardware in the current Stream could not possibly accommodate. They have to give people what they are wanting for the future. But they have to do that within the context of simplicity, and that's the point. There will always be a need for devices like the Stream because there have to be products of this nature to assist people who want a very easy to use interface without the complexities of a phone or similar device. There are also people like me who would like such a player to listen to books and to undertake high quality recordings so as to keep the phone free for calls and other tasks.

It doesn't matter what the mainstream devices can do. It doesn't matter what the technically able people can achieve with alternative platforms. I submit there is a need for specialist devices for the reasons set out above and others and there will be for some time to come.

To say again, I would definitely like one if at all possible. I use my existing Stream all the time, and if the speaker is of a higher standard, that would make the new model appeal to me even more. It will be interesting to know what the price is.

So there are exciting times ahead! I wish Humanware all the very best for the future of either the existing Stream or a new one if it is brought to market.

New build of StationPlaylist 4.33 and 5.0 scripts available!

A new build of JAWS scripts for StationPlaylist version 4.33 and 5 is now available.

If you use the scripts for StationPlaylist, please consider donating! Even a small donation is worthwhile as a great deal of development time goes into producing and updating them.

The best way of installing the scripts is to extract the content of the zipped archive on the webpage to your JAWS Settings/Enu folder, replacing the files which already exist.
Alternatively, an installer is available as usual.
The scripts can be downloaded from
Supporting JAWS 11 onwards.

Improvements include:
Fixed a problem where the listener count was not always displaying the stats correctly including Braille.
Added a new function, StationPlaylist Key then M from any application accept Studio, to activate the microphone. This is useful if you are focused within an application other than Studio and you need to activate the microphone quickly.

A new feature included in this release is called Studio Markers, described as follows:

Studio Markers allow you to assign an application you have running to a keystroke and return to it quickly when you need to. If you are working on a busy show, you are likely to have a number of programs running, such as Microsoft's Notepad, an email client, a web page and so on. Studio Markers make finding these programs far easier without having to search for them using the ALT+Tab key combination. You can store 4 programs to Studio Markers.

To set a Studio Marker, first focus upon the program you wish to mark, such as Notepad. Next, press the StationPlaylist Key followed by figures 1 through to 4. You can choose which of the keystrokes you would prefer to assign to the application. JAWS will report the name of the application you have marked.

In order to return to the program at any time, press the StationPlaylist Key followed by Control+1 through to Control+4. The keystroke to locate the program must match the one used to assign to the program. So, if you had set Notepad to the StationPlaylist Key then 3, the corresponding keystroke to locate it would be the StationPlaylist Key then Control+3.

All Studio Markers are permanently stored. So if you use applications on a regular basis, you can always locate them if you know which keystrokes have been assigned to them.


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