Important Messages, such as Service Disruption.

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.

We are closed for the Christmas holidays from the evening of Wednesday 20 December 2017 through to Tuesday 2 January 2018.

We would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and happy New Year!

Blogs

Double the Fun!

Hi, Everyone.

What do you do when you get together with friends? Do you like to have a chat, a few laughs, maybe talk over the events of the week, and, of course, hear some great music? If so, please do join Brian Hartgen and myself, Lulu Wells, today at 20:00 UTC, 4 PM Eastern, 3 PM Central, 1 PM Pacific or 9 PM in the UK for our show Down for Double on The Global voice.

We will have all the things I just mentioned, plus our own particular brand of fun, and maybe a little bit of mayhem, who knows! Brian has a huge music library, so the music is sure to be great, and there is always plenty of room for your requests. To contact the show, please feel free to Email yourvoice@theglobalvoice.info or send a tweet to @lulu_bear.

We hope to see you later today and each Saturday, as we go Down for Double, only on The Global Voice.

Lulu Wells.

A lengthy post, mainly technical and reminiscing

Hi everyone!

Well this promises to be a lengthy blog entry as quite a few things have happened, primarily technical, so if you stay with these ramblings until the end, thank you! Lets hope I can remember it all!

Let me pick up the news from last Saturday which was a Bank (Public) Holiday weekend here in the UK.

If I recall, L wasn't particularly well that day. We were due to test out some broadcasting ideas for our upcoming internet radio show, "Down for Double", but it didn't happen, but that's OK. So while L was sleeping for part of the day, I did some audio production for the following day's Music Machine show, and then I got involved with website development using Drupal.

For those who don't know, Drupal is a content management system which allows you to build websites. The more I learn about it, it makes me want to learn even more, if that makes sense. I know of a few CMS platforms, but the way you can develop websites using Drupal is excellent. I haven't seen any blogs for example delivered using alternative platforms where they have been truly integrated into a website, (or are as accessible to screen-readers), as Drupal allows you to do and I hope this website is a true testimony to that.

Getting back to last Saturday, I wanted to find out how I could place access (or shortcut) keys on some of the links on the main menu of our site and I got that done. That, for some unknown reason, lead to me discovering how to ensure that a person (if signed into Facebook) could "Like" a specific page.

The site we have and blogs are, I think, pretty good at the moment. But I want soon to experiment with alternative visual themes.

We spent some of Sunday playing some iPhone games including one which L introduced me to called "SmackMe". This is cool and is like the game "Bop-It" which some people may remember. Essentially you are given gestures that you have to copy. The more levels you work through, the faster the game gets.

That made me think about other computer games like Troopanum and Grizzly Gulch, the latter produced by Bavisoft. I went searching, and they not only still have the game on the site which you can purchase (compatible with Windows7), but my old review I produced about 12 years ago in audio format is still downloadable! I tweeted out the link and before long some of us were sharing memories of old computer games we used to play, particularly Grizzly. In fact, L has just ordered Grizzly again for us from Computer Room Services. It hasn't arrived as yet but we look forward to it doing so!

That, in turn, made me think of other audio articles I used to produce for Infotech and Main Menu on ACB Radio. I particularly have fond memories of helping to produce an article for Main Menu's first birthday. It was an article reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of JAWS and Window-Eyes screen-readers. I think it was a 3 hour programme! I wonder what the results of such a comparison would be like now! Anyway, good memories.

Sunday was also the day when I published my blog entry, "A Review of Mushroom Escape", and it is interesting that my little blog gets so many readers, (smile). Anyway, credit where credit is due, within about 24 hours, some of the suggestions I had made were implemented on the site. Thanks to all those who retweeted the publication of that blog post, particularly saying that you agree with the fact that the schedule should be in the user's own time zone. That isn't in place yet, but as a substitute they do have a clock which shows the current time in US Eastern, so you have a chance of working out what should be broadcasting relative to your time zone. That helps. They have also provided links to Wikipedia articles of drama and comedy being broadcast, together with some brief show details, a mailing list for discussion of output and the times throughout the whole of each day when shows are broadcast. So, all in all, more than a good step forward I would say.

Monday evening was absolutely wonderful. We had a relaxing evening, listening to 70's and 80's music, sharing memories (particularly of Eurovision), chatting, having drinks, it was a great evening to finish the Bank Holiday!

Apart from work this week, some of my evenings have been occupied by developing the new set of JAWS scripts for StationPlaylist Studio, the broadcasting software we use. It really is about time we had a new release with new features and an upcoming release of Studio in the future has "kick started" me into this.

I won't discuss the new features here. Sometimes, when you develop script files for an application, some features do not work out in testing as you would expect them to and may be withdrawn, and anyway the discussion of them will make for another blog post. But I can mention a few things.
1. I've been working with Jeff Bishop who is the author of the Window-Eyes scripts. It is an absolute pleasure working with him, and it is good to have someone to collaborate with and to share ideas. The implementation of the Window-Eyes scripts will not be exactly the same as those for JAWS in design, they can't be for various reasons. But the concepts pretty much are the same so noone should be disadvantaged. I think people will be pleased with both sets of scripts.
2. I have spent a lot of time cleaning up the documentation accompanying the scripts, improving it and adding descriptions of the new features. Rather than a Word document, it is going to be HTML, so a lot of time has been spent making the HTML nice and clean. Given I am very fond of bulleted and numbered lists this took some time to do. So the User Guide will be available as part of the product but also directly viewable on the website.
3. I've created a form for people to submit Technical Support issues as and when they arise, where questions can be answered to give me the kind of information I would want to know when assisting someone who wanted to report a problem.
4. I've brought the internet update facility back, so I can be a lot more responsive to fixes which are required together with new features to add.

When the time is right, I'll need to set up a beta testing programme for these scripts and I want also to investigate implementing a bug tracking database so users can submit bugs and I can log the progress of them. So that is for the future. It all takes time and a lot of work, but I will get there. I've been developing these scripts for 3 years now and it is good that they keep improving.

Well, L's show, "The Bear's Lair", is about to hit the air so I will tune into that now. I am looking forward to tomorrow as L and I will be bringing back the show "Down for Double" on The Global Voice, a show where we get together, play some music and have some lively chat. We are both looking forward to that.

Have a good week everyone!

Come Over to The Bear's Lair!

Hi, Everyone.

I'd like to invite you for your regular weekly visit to The Bear's Lair, starting today at 1300 UTC, 9 AM Eastern, 8 AM Central, 6 AM Pacific or 2 PM in the UK. Sit down on my big squashy sofa, let us give you your favourite drink, and prepare for two hours of friendly chat, fun and, of course, fantastic music.

This week, we're going on our travels in the Crank it Up corner, and we have a very dreamy Love Zone for you, as well as lots of other great tunage, and plenty of room for your requests.

If you would like to contact the show, please Email yourvoice@theglobalvoice.info or send a tweet to @lulu_bear. I look forward to your company very soon, and in the meantime, have a great day.

Important notice of future SPL Studio script development

Hi everyone!

I am in the early stages of development of the next set of JAWS scripts for StationPlaylist Studio. This will be an extensive project as much of the internal code will be rewritten and much of the older code deleted. In addition, the documentation will be changed and updated.

Because of the significant changes to be made, this is a very good time to ask for any new features or improvements you would like to see in the scripts. For example, I am quite keen to do some work this time around on the area of title streaming. I would like to see the ability to enable or disable this with keystrokes for all four possible options in this regard and, (if required), the ability to be automatically reminded if title streaming is enabled when you launch Studio for the first time. But any suggestions for improvement are welcome. If you have submitted something before, please send it again.

I am keen to hear from as many of you as possible at this point, so please feel free to send any suggestions to jaws@hartgen.org
Also feel free to pass this announcement onto anyone you feel may benefit.

I cannot guarantee to include all suggestions. The creation of the scripts has always been a free project and so I commit whatever time to it I can. But I will do my best to include what you send in as I always have.

When I have suggestions for new features, I will communicate them to Jeff Bishop, so we can ensure that Window-Eyes and JAWS users have the same advantages.

Thanks for reading!

A Review of Mushroom Escape

Last Sunday, the radio station Mushroom Escape was born. This was a culmination of a weekend-long festival of entertainment which ironically some of us were trying to escape from! But I am being facecious. There arre reasons why I would quite like Mushroom Escape to do well, so lets stay with that theme.

Mushroom Escape is a radio channel which streams a variety of classic comedy and drama. Its website at
www.mushroomfm.com/escape
informs the reader that the world of radio comedy and drama is vast, (which it is), and that they will bring this wonderful world to you seven days a week in a way which will keep you coming back for more. Downloads are not available on the site.

Their differences are that the schedule is planned by hand rather than an automated random selection, meaning regularly scheduled episodes of series are broadcast at the same time every week. This is important because that is what used to happen on the radio so it gives a nostalgic feel to it. In addition, they do not just focus upon American comedy and drama. A good percentage of it comes from Britain and Australia.

L and I were "brought up" on drama from the 70's and 80's especially, and for my own enjoyment and use I remember recording over ten years worth of plays continually. So I can see a lot of value in this both for those of us who are old enough to remember some of these classics and so as to introduce the subject to younger listeners. I have visited the BBC drama studios and talked to producers and actors. I used to attend recordings of The Archers at Pebblemill in Birmingham. I used to sit in the audience of radio comedy recordings. I also have really enjoyed comedy and drama from the 60's and before.

So after a week of broadcasting, what is the station like? Because of my love of the subject I had to find out.

The door to Mushroom Escape is a page on the Mushroom FM site. All the information about it (including its schedule) can be found on the same page together with a link to listen to it. The station is being slowly included into many internet radio directories including those for mobile devices.

If you live in a country and time zone other than the East coast of America, you have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to find out what time your favourite show will be aired. The way Escape works is that they have a four hour block per day which is repeated. This block starts at 6 PM Eastern and rotates. So, I am in England. It's lunch time (12 PM). I have to first work out the time difference (we are five hours ahead of Eastern) Then I have to work out from the schedule which show should be playing. This isn't as easy as it sounds, as the site only gives the initial block from 6 to 10 PM Eastern, and doesn't let us see the whole 24 hour period. By the time you've worked that all out it is probably time to give up. Are we really saying that there isn't the technology as yet to display the schedule in a user's time zone? What is so marvellous about US Eastern?

As a potential listener, the other difficulty I have is determining details of the programme episode I will be tuning into. For example, they are streaming Paul Temple dramas. Now I have heard plenty of Paul Temple drama going right back to the late 30's. I know about this man and this drama! So I am keen to find out which story they are running. I cannot. It just says "Paul Temple" - no drama title, no episode number, no synopsis. If the drama on this station is carefully planned then we ought to be able to see what we can potentially listen to.

I see a lot of tweets and Facebook posts about how much people enjoy drama, so I am certain this station will be a winner and has a lot going for it. If they could just make it a bit easier to find out what we could listen to, that would be a help. In addition, there are two more things which would add value.

First, some people would want to read some background on the drama. For example, Mushroom Escape introduced me the other day to the Lux Radio Theater. I wanted to learn more about it so I looked them up on Wikipedia. It might be nice to have links to Wikipedia articles of the dramas for background reading.

Mushroom FM is a station which seems to pride itself on listener interaction. So why not build on that? Why not create a Twitter account or blog where people can post comments. Maybe get some discussion going about the station's output. People could share their memories and thoughts about other dramas they would like to hear.

So in summary, I think the concept of the station is good but it needs a lot more power behind it at the moment. But it is early days to be fair. Lets watch and wait. Dramatic suspense?

The Music Machine is looking for your memories of 1979!

Hi Everyone!

This Sunday at 16:00 UTC, 5 PM UK, 12 PM Eastern on the Global Voice, we have the first in a number of special Music Machine shows coming your way.

If you enjoy the music of the 1970's, you are in for a real treat. I'll be playing some of the best sounds from that wonderful musical decade, and I'll be diving back into my vinyl record collection to get out some of the more unusual songs too that are hard to find! Your requests for your favourite 70's songs would be very welcome, more about that in a moment.

But for the second hour of the programme, we go back to 1979, I'll explain why during the show. I'll be playing some of the best hits from the year and telling you about the singles chart too. You'll also hear about the news events of the year. But I won't just tell you about them, I'll take you there, back to 1979. You'll hear audio archives of the news and other key events of the time so you can find out what it was really like!

Your memories of 1979 would be fantastic to hear about. Were you at college during the year? Were you perhaps starting your first job? Did you meet someone special? What about the music of 79, which songs in particular do you remember? Do you have any favourites?

Do please let me know your 1979 memories by writing to brian@TheGlobalVoice.Info or by sending tweets to @brianhartgen.
It would be wonderful to hear from you!

I cannot wait to be with you this Sunday only on the Global Voice with our sensational 70's show!

A Party at The Bear's Lair!

Hi, Everyone.

There's a party going on today at The Bear's Lair, starting at 1300 UTC, 9 AM Eastern, 8 AM Central, 6 AM Pacific, or 2 PM in the UK, and you're invited. We're celebrating the birthday of someone without whose help I would find it a lot more difficult to do the show. I will not say more because he is very shy, but we will talk more about it on air, and we'll be playing lots of his favourite tunage, most of it with a party flavour.

This week, there's partying going on night and day in the Crank it Up corner, and two beautiful songs in the love zone chosen by our birthday boy, plus there just might be one very big surprise in store.

As always, there is plenty of room for your requests, so please do feel free to get in touch at any time. You can Email yourvoice@theglobalvoice.info or send a tweet to @lulu_bear. We're looking forward to your company on the big squashy sofa. Pick up your favourite drink, kick back, relax, and get ready for a party at The Bear's Lair, only on The Global Voice.

A Very Special Blog Post, Who is Bert the Lep?

When I first started to do internet radio broadcasting, I needed someone I could interact with. I wasn't living with anyone who I could ask to work with me on a promotional item for a show or a radio jingle, so I had to invent someone. That person came to be Bert the leprechaun, affectionately known as "the lep". Little did I know then that this little guy would grow from a cartoon-like character into a rounded individual with a real life, a family and lots of friends. I didn't know he would have a respectable Twitter following and that his journal would be read by over 1200 people at the time of writing! When you start thinking about those numbers in terms of unique visitors to an area of a website, that's quite good for a little lep!

People who have read his journal will know that today is his 33rd bbirthday (he was born in 1979). Because it is his special day, and given he has this large following), there are things we wanted to do to celebrate it. We wanted to make it easier for people to find journal entries, to listen to his continuing audio adventures, to learn about how he was created and to be able to see him. We have done all of these things in a lot more!

When you step into the newly named Bert's Place on our website, you are immersing yourself in his fictional world. As well as being able to read about Bert and listen to his audio adventures as has been the case for some months, we have included a number of other improvements.

You can visit Bert's Who's Who page. Even if you have been following the journal day by day, you could easily be forgiven for not being able to keep up with all the members of Bert's large family! We've now included a quick guide to get you up to speed.

We've given details of Bert's Twitter and (brand new) Facebook account if you would like to follow him or become his friend. He would be glad if you did!

We've included a link to Bert's newly designed Journal pages. Previously, all the journal entries were contained in a list of links by date. But as the entries were being written almost daily in some cases this was becoming impractical. So the journal has been designed as a calendar. As you enter the journal, you will see a menu of calendar months. Activate one of the months, such as "April 2012", and you will see all the journal entries for the period. You then have a choice. You can either systematically read the journal entry by entry, or, on each page, you can see all the dates for the month without having to keep going back to the journal main index. It's a much nicer way of being able to reference specific entries!

There are now 24 audio episodes in the "Bert's Audio Adventure" series. Previously, they could all be downloaded from the "Bert's Place" page of the website. Now, these are all available as a podcast. All new recordings, (such as the three being released today), will also be added to the podcast feed. In "Bert's Place", we've given you a direct link to the RSS feed, which you can also copy and paste into your Podcatcher if you wish. However, we are pleased to say that you can also search for "Bert's Place" within the iTunes Store! From the Store, you can preview podcast episodes or subscribe. Alternatively, you will also find us in the "Drama/Arts" category.

You may think that all of the above has taken a lot of work to set up, and you would be right. But we now come to the remaining much bigger projects.

Some people just want to enjoy Bert's adventures and read the journal, enjoying the make-believe which is Bert's character. But some people want to know a little more about how he was created, how his character has evolved over time and, above all, what he looks like.

First, we were very pleased to work with Paul Hopkins from the UK. Paul is a gifted interviewer and natural broadcaster who enjoys making podcasts on various topics. He kindly agreed to talk to both L and I about Bert, and you can hear the results in a 45 minute Audio Introduction to him, to be found of course in "Bert's Place". In addition to finding out "how Bert ticks", you will learn a lot about how the journal came to be written, together with the technical challenges and limitations we faced in our own personal lives when preparing items such as "The Dream Sequence". You will also hear audio extracts from Bert himself! We would particularly like to thank Paul for all his hard work in helping us produce this introduction to Bert.

But for some people, hearing and reading about Bert may not be enough. We wanted to bring him to life through visual imagery. We wanted to commission a talented artist to produce not only an initial picture of Bert but also to be imaginative and design more images on an ongoing basis. Such a person would not only need to be an expert in his field but would also have to bring to the table imagination and the power to clearly describe images to us both as we cannot see them. The artist would also need to be aware of Bert's character and the different situations in which he finds himself, so would need for example to take the time to read the journal so as to fully understand him.

We were extremely lucky to find someone very close to home who met all these requirements. Scott Clark has a tremendous amount of experience in the areas of painting and photography. His professional career spans over a decade. His client list is diverse - from fine oil portraits for private clients to large abstract paintings for prestigious showrooms and boardrooms, from emotional figurative pieces that make a bold statement to book and album cover designs, from interior design for restaurants to providing photography for TV programmes. In short, we were extremely lucky that Scott had the time and availability to do this work for us.

In the picture, Bert is sitting on the floor in a relaxed huddle. His ankles are crossed, one knee is up under his chin, his arms are loosly around his legs. He looks as if he has been rushing about, and has just flopped down on the floor to rest for a few minutes.

His face is slightly in profile, but turned toward us. It is a cute, rounded face with a slightly upturned nose, big green eyes, and a cute mouth in a half smile. He has curly sandy blonde hair. He is trendily dressed in khaki chenos and a tee-shirt in warm, muted colours, with a red white and blue target on the front. He is wearing white trainers, also sporting a matching bull's eye target on them. they have very long laces which are dangling on the floor.

Bert looks, at first glance, like someone's very trendy toddler. It is only when you look closely that you see something different. On either side of his head, almost hidden by his hair, you see what you at first think is just a wayward curl. And then you see it is his ears, just a little elongated and slightly pointed, they, and the maturity in his eyes are what make you see that he is not a toddler, but Bert, our lep.

Of course we would like to thank Scott Clarke for undertaking this project for us at very short notice and for giving it the fine attention to detail we were wanting. In particular, he listened to (and took on board) all of L's ideas concerning how she wanted Bert to look and these were transferred to the final picture. L's parents also provided essential visual assistance for which we are very grateful.

So, Bert should be a very happy little lep on his 33rd birthday. Oh, and I nearly forgot. There are two special audio adventures that have been produced to mark the occasion, both of which have required hours of production and editing! We do hope people will enjoy the new audio and all the other features we have added to the website. Happy birthday Bert!

The Music Machine Comes to the Global Voice!

Hi everyone!

My name is Brian Hartgen, the newest presenter on the Global Voice, and I hope you'll be able to join me for my weekly show, "The Music Machine", each Sunday starting April 29 at 1600 UTC, which is 5 PM UK, 12 PM Eastern, right before the Atitude Test!

Most people enjoy listening to music of all kinds. Many people want to know about the music they are listening to or to hear songs which are not part of radio playlists. If you are one of those people, look no further than the Music Machine!

For two hours each week, I'll do my very best to present an interesting musical mix from different genres. You are likely to learn a thing or two about the music I play and every week I'll bring to you a different type of programme including themed shows, profiles of artists or groups or maybe even a music documentary which I will produce.

So, what's on this week's show?

Given this is a new incarnation of the Music Machine, I thought we would have a music-based theme and hopefully you would like to get involved. I would like to hear about songs with either the word "Start", "Begin", "Begun" or "New" in the title, or which indicate the ending of an event and moving onto a new one. Abba's song "Move On" may be a good suggestion in that regard, but you might also choose Craig David's "Walking Away" as that indicates the ending of a relationship and moving onto pastures new. Other more obvious choices might be Hot Chocolate's "It started with a Kiss", or the Carpenters, "We've only just begun".

So, please put your thinking caps on and do suggest songs to fit in with the theme of the show if you can! It would be wonderful to hear from you!

You can e-mail your song requests and suggestions right now ahead of time to
Brian@TheGlobalVoice.Info
or tweet @BrianHartgen
and I will make sure they get into the programme!

While I am on air, the email address to contact is
YourVoice@TheGlobalVoice.Info

I can't wait to get to know you all this coming Sunday and together we'll have a great time sharing the music!

See you on Sunday!

Brian Hartgen

A Short News Post

Hi everyone!

This is going to be a small blog entry this time because I've written quite a few posts this week, but while I listen to the Bear's Lair of course, I thought I would write a paragraph or two about what has been happening in the week.

Last weekend was an exceptionally busy one, mainly with audio work. I did some testing with our new audio equipment on the Global Voice, and spent quite a lot of time ensuring that I can vary the volume of both the JAWS screen-reader speech and also the sound mixer independently. I can then hear JAWS quite comfortably together with the main broadcasting output which is good news. I've also thought about new features I can add to my show to include in future weeks. Of course I am hoping people are going to enjoy this week's show, but I have planned something great for next week also. This will involve some audio production, but if I get it right it should be a little different. But I have plenty of new themes and artist profiles in my mind as people seem to enjoy those. Nothing will be predictable that's for sure.

Speaking of things being unpredictable, during my tests last week we thought it would be a great idea to bring back Down for Double, the show L and I used to jointly host. I am glad to say we are able to do that on The Global Voice, so that will start in a couple of weeks. A good laugh, music with an upbeat feel-good factor, lively conversation and a lot more!

I also did a lot of audio editing on a project last week and some website design, all of which you will see and hear later. In fact, L and I were both working furiously on various projects and we only just stopped for food!

This week has gone by very quickly. Yesterday evening, it was the end of my working week and so we relaxed with lots of good music, drink and chat. It was great!

One thing I left out of the last blog entry. I have been asked to speak at the Accessible World programme called "Spotlight on Music". I need to speak for an hour about a musical artist or group of my choosing. There are plenty I could choose, but Mama Cass Elliot would be a good subject as I know quite a lot about her. But I have always wanted to produce a short profile of The Carter Family as again I've researched the group very extensively and they were America's first family of country music. I love country! Their history makes a good story and I think an hour would do that justice. We'll see which I choose, I'll let you know.

That's about all for now I think! If you can, please join me on Sunday at 5 PM UK, 12 PM Eastern, for my show on
www.theglobalvoice.info
More about that in a separate post. Have a wonderful week everybody!

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - blogs