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.

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

Blogs

A Summary of Some New Features in Version 5.2 of the StationPlaylist Suite.

Introduction.

I have been testing version 5.2 of the StationPlaylist products for six weeks now and I hope I have provided useful feedback to the developers concerning a number of issues.
This is a very significant new release.

The official help documentation and release notes in the Email accompanying an upgrade to version 5.2 of Studio and Creator provide the official tutorial on how to use the new features. What follows is a brief summary of what I have found to be the most useful innovations for me.

I have tested the new upgrade:

  • In live broadcasting environments;
  • Through our station Team-FM in continuous automation mode over a number of weeks, and;
  • Extensively with voice tracking.

From an accessibility perspective with JAWS, the scripts for these products have had many changes and this is the version which will be focused on from this point forward. So, if you are interested in obtaining improvements to the JAWS scripts, you should be running Studio and Creator version 5.2.

While there are improvements for users who broadcast live, you are likely to benefit enormously from this update if you voice track any shows (although not remotely), and if you run a PC in automation mode to host a radio station for example. The products are extremely stable in automation mode and can run for weeks at a time continuously without an issue.

Voice Tracking.

One of the best improvements in this release would be the voice track facilities. At this point, what I am about to describe does not relate to remote voice tracking.

To explain further, remote voice tracking, while it seems attractive, does have a number of limitations.

You cannot pause during recording, so your voice breaks may well include fluffs or stumbles, together with key clicks and additional extraneous noise. Best results are obtained when voice tracking on a local PC which is where the focus is in the 5.20 release.

There are two major features worthy of note.

  1. The first is a completely redesigned recorder for creating the voice tracks. Of course it is accessible, and shows the incoming and outgoing songs visually on screen, and available in JAWS by pressing ALT+3. This gives a useful reminder as to what you have played and the upcoming item. The recorder also allows you to pause during recording.
  2. It can record in extremely high quality sampling rate and mono/stereo if desired. These files can be edited, perhaps to include additional programme elements, to reduce background noise or to ensure that the voice track speech coincides with the end of a file. All of this gives a show a very polished feel about it, and would equate to something you would conceivably hear on the radio.

One of the advantages of using the new recorder is that you can record your voice tracks while hearing the outgoing and incoming songs. There are several Radio Buttons which govern the recording of the voice break. You can choose to record as you would have done so before, using the automatic setting, which means that the voice track will play at the end of a track in the natural way or upon a predetermined outro time, (see below).

You can also record an outro only, or both an intro and outro. This final option is very useful, since you can determine precisely when your speech should commence on the outgoing song by listening to it, how long the voice break should be, and when the incoming song should start. It also means that if you are voicetracking a show where you haven't specified any intro or outro times, it's not too important because, using this method, you are telling Studio where to place the speech in relation to the songs. In other words, you are specifying the outro and intro times as you go along. It's very cool if you want to work in this way.

The procedure would be as follows:

  1. Select the Radio Button so as to record the voice track relative to the outgoing and incoming song.
  2. Press Enter, (the default keystroke for initiating the process). The final portion of the outgoing song will begin to play.
  3. At the desired point in the outgoing song, press Enter again and begin speaking. You will hear the song fade down so as to accommodate your speech, if appropriate options have been set so to do in Studio.
  4. When you wish the next song to begin, press Enter and continue speaking.
  5. Prior to the beginning of the vocals, stop speaking and press Enter to conclude the process.

A handy feature in this recorder is that if appropriate, the last few milliseconds can be removed from the recording so as to potentially erase any key clicks for example which may be very helpful. This also applies to the recorder used for remote voice tracking and is the only major change in this regard. If you are going to use this feature, be sure not to press Enter to terminate the recording as soon as speech has stopped else you may find the final syllable will be cut.

To repeat, the recorder can create files using a variety of formats including wav and in mono or stereo. This ensures optimum audio quality is achieved for the voice breaks, and allows for editing. Bare in mind that, if using the above described method of manual recording by hearing the outgoing and incoming songs, editing will cause some timing issues, so you would only want to do that if you were going to select the Automatic setting. This in itself brings me to a useful point.

If using the setting where Studio will automatically calculate the voice break timings, (and particularly when voice tracking remotely), you should pay careful attention to your outro's. Great emphasis is often placed upon marking the start of the vocals, (the intro time), but the Outro's are just as important!

If you do not specify outro times, Studio will typically wait until the song is fading down prior to starting the subsequent voice track. This is not what happens in a radio environment in many situations. A DJ will often talk over a song well before the natural fade, so think about that when preparing your shows and mark the outro time appropriately.

Overall, this is a wonderful recorder and it works extremely well, but I haven't finished with voice tracking yet. There's another excellent feature to write about.

When you listen to a show, particularly one which is voice tracked, you will often hear that a song is too loud or too quiet. Sometimes, the speaker will be far too loud and the song intro is at a low volume to the extent that you cannot hear it, or alternatively, the intro is far too loud thus drowning out the speaker's words. To compensate for this, audio compression is often applied to the speaker's voice, which to my mind does not give the voice quality a natural sound, particularly if audio compression is already being applied to the overall mix.

This problem has been recognised by the developers of StationPlaylist Studio, which is why they have introduced a feature called Replay Gain. This allows the file tag to be altered so that the music is played at a desired volume level. For tracks with a very loud introduction for example, you may wish to reduce the volume using the Replay Gain feature to ensure that your words are not lost during broadcast. Similarly, for a song with a low volume introduction, you'll want to increase the volume so that the listener is aware of what is to come. There are a number of presets you can choose from or specify your own custom level, which is what I prefer to do. It's an incredibly useful feature and one which I would now not want to be without. In summary, it gives you complete control as to how the show should sound.

When focused in the Track Tool, pressing ALT+G using the JAWS scripts will activate Replay Gain, whereupon you can adjust the controls to suit, particularly the volume slider for the custom level. Then, activate the Start Button to apply the desired setting.

Crossfading.

Until now, Studio has intelligently calculated the crossfading of music tracks, spots and commercials, based on specific criteria. When you play a track, the calculations are made and, assuming you have the option set to update the file tags, you're in good shape most of the time. Of course you have always been able to change any aspect of the crossfading yourself, so if a song has a quiet ending, you would want to ensure crosssfading does not occur, or at the very least, you would apply it at a point in the song which does not interrupt its natural ending.

In 5.2, the crossfading of tracks, spots, commercials and voice tracks are all adjusted individually, through Tabbed Pages which can be found in Options, File Input.

There are default settings of course, which did not suit my preferences. Some of this relates to the audio compression being used, but I was finding that songs and spots either contained sharp fades, or items were not playing quite as quickly as they used to.
One reason for this is that Some additional intelligence has been added to the crossfading system.  Songs that have a manual Segue value set at a position where the song volume is high will be detected by Studio and a steeper logarithmic fade will be used to prevent the end of the track overpowering the start of the next track.

After a good deal of time being spent on this issue, I now have in place the following settings which are extremely acceptable, however they may not suit your particular tastes. You will need to experiment to find out what suits.
The end result however is that when adjusted, the crossfading is far better than it has ever been, but see note 2, below. Meanwhile, here are my recommended settings.

Songs Tab.

Cue at -33
Segue at -20
Overlap to -14
Min Overlap 2.5
Max Overlap 8.0

Spots Tab.

Cue at -33
Segue at -18
Overlap to -14
Min Overlap 0.5
Max Overlap 3.0

A few additional notes:

  1. The Breaknote to disable crossfading is used now for songs only. This is particularly beneficial if you want to schedule an hour, as we do, where crossfading is not appropriate with the exception of spots or commercials. I like this very welcome addition.
  2. When the above settings have been adjusted, the majority of crossfading should be excellent. However, you will want to listen to your station extensively, and take careful note of any song which is being inadvertently truncated. If you hear such a song, you should adjust the segue point in the song to a more precise time. The segue is the point where the next track will potentially begin to overlap, as described in our "Broadcast It" audio tutorial on StationPlaylist. I cannot stress enough how important this is, particularly if you are hosting a station in automation mode.

Hooks.

If you listen to a radio station, you may well hear a small preview of some of the songs to be featured in the upcoming half-hour or hourly-block. This will be in the form of a song snippet or two. In StationPlaylist terms, this is known as a hook, designed to "hook" people into listening in for longer! That's got to be good!

In your Creator rotations, you can specify a position a hook should be in a playlist, or several hooks if desired. This is done by:

  1. Placing focus at the point in the rotation where the hook should be.
  2. Add a new category containing tracks which you have marked with hooks (see below).
  3. Tab to the "Make Hook" button or press Control+H.

You can also manually specify the hooks by inserting a Breaknote as follows:
*hook=2
and
*hook=4
for example.
This will play a few seconds of a song which is second and fourth in the playlist, so in a live situation, this may well be the way to go.

How does Studio know which parts of the song to play?

If you have entered the hook positions manually into the playlist, by default, it will play the segments as specified in Studio's options on page 1 of the Advanced Tab. If introductions have been specified it will play those instead.

However more usefully, you can specify the parts of a song yourself, by loading a track into the Track Tool and marking the relevant sections. This is done by playing the track, and at the appropriate point, pressing letter H to mark the starting segment of the hook, and J to mark the end point.
The hook segment can be heard by pressing Control+H to hear the start and Control+J to hear the duration.
This allows you to mark a part of the chorus for example which is likely to be memorable. People are more likely to identify with a part of the chorus than a song introduction.
Certainly if you are scheduling hooks using Creator, the specifying of hook values is critical.

Up Next.

Within your metadata that you send out to the internet, (currently playing song artist and title information), you can now specify the next song to be played out, either by artist, title or both. This is achieved in Options, Now Playing, Stream Metadata.

As stated in the release notes, the syntax might look like this:
%+1n
or
%+1a
where "n" represents a song title or "A" an artist.

Studio is very clever in this regard. As you approach the top of the hour, the program will work out whether existing songs in the playlist can be accommodated within the hour, and, if not, will output the details of the first song in the upcoming hour.
Please note that you cannot use this feature when using cue sheets.

Additional Points Worthy of Note.

Record to File configured in the Output options / Record tab now supports recording the audio before or after the DSP.  The previous method was always before the DSP.  Now recorded files can include the DSP processing for such purposes as archived shows. For example, if you have applied audio compression through a DSP, this will be included in the recording.

You will notice a new Tabbed Page under "Options" which is entitled "User". This allows specific options to be set relative to a Studio user, such as "Accessibility Mode". By default however, they apply to all users so the majority of people will not have to be concerned about this.

Script Changes.

The scripts for JAWS, to be released when the final build has been tested, take account of the new features in 5.2. In addition, when pressing ALT+Enter to examine the properties of an item, moving to a field, adjusting it and pressing ALT+O to activate the "OK" Button, pressing ALT+Enter on a subsequent item should cause focus to be set to the field in the dialog box where you left off. This applies to Studio and the Playlist Editor and was introduced at the request of a customer.

You will also find that adjustments have been made to Enhanced Arrow key mode, so that pressing Down Arrow on columns 7 to 18 now work correctly by only outputting the column information. This is particularly useful when scanning down the outro column for example to see which items in your playlist have been correctly marked up.

JAWS Table Layer keystrokes can now be used, although the toggle of Enhanced Arrow key mode, Control+SPL key, still works just as it did before.

Speech History, Insert Space then H, now works correctly.

There are also global keystrokes to adjust the system output volume of the computer's primary sound source. Press Control+Windows+Shift+Up and Down Arrows to do so.

In StationPlaylist Creator, press SPL Key then T to hear the total time of the rotation in hours, minutes and seconds format.

In the Playlist Editor, you can now:

  • press SPL Key then T to hear the total time of the playlist.
  • Press SPL Key then S to hear the time the item is scheduled to play.
  • Press SPL Key then D to hear the date and time of the playlist.
  • Press SPL key then R to hear the rotation name.

Conclusion.

There are many many additional features and fixes in the new release of the products. This is definitely an upgrade you want to take advantage of and I would highly recommend you keep your support arrangements with StationPlaylist current.

Do enjoy the new update!

Hartgen Consultancy Products with JAWS 18, What to expect.

Hi everyone

Since the very welcome release yesterday of Freedom Scientific's Podcast relating to the upcoming public beta of JAWS version 18, I can say that we have had a lot of enquiries about using it in conjunction with our products.

Before we begin, I have never advocated using any of our products with a JAWS public beta. Doing so means that JAWS is not working as Freedom Scientific intended as part of the public beta process, and if you were to submit bug reports having done so, you are not being entirely fair to them. However, as is clear from the flood of Email messages I received this morning, some people do want to use it with our products, so here is everything you need to know.
Please read this carefully. There is a lot to take in.

Our scripts for StationPlaylist Studio, J-Dictate and Leasey will all work with JAWS 18. If you ensure you download the latest releases of all of these products from our website, you will find the installers do accommodate JAWS 18. Simply select JAWS version 18 as part of the install process.
All of these products have been thoroughly tested with JAWS 18.

J-Say will not function with JAWS 18 and is not expected to do so until November/December of this year. As a side note, that is earlier than our usual release schedule of January/February of the new year.

JAWS 18 contains a feature which allows you to migrate settings from version 17 into 18. This will appear the moment JAWS is installed and started. If you are using one of our products, particularly Leasey, you should not attempt this process. Remember, this is beta software, and at the moment there are particular instances where, if some third party scripts are housed in JAWS 17, the migrate feature does not work.

If you wanted to install Leasey into JAWS 18, and bring over your Leasey settings, Placemarkers and JAWS dictionaries etc, I will now walk you through it safely.
you should:
1. Download Leasey 3.2 from our website.
2. Install into JAWS 18.
3. Run JAWS 18.
4. When prompted to migrate settings from an earlier version, select the "No" Button by pressing the letter "N". Do not press Escape otherwise you will be asked about this each time you start JAWS.
5. Press the Leasey Key then Control+Shift+B for the Leasey Backup and Restore Manager.
6. Select Inherit Settings from an Earlier JAWS Version.
7. Finally, select Inherit Settings from JAWS 17.
The settings will be brought over and JAWS will be restarted. This should take about 5 seconds.

That's everything, you should be good to go.

I should also point out that there is an import/export facility in JAWS 18. This is very cool as it allows you to take all your JAWS 18 settings and place them on another computer. It works flawlessly.

When you export your settings in this way, JAWS creates a file which you can then take to the other computer which you own and import. One of the possible uses for this feature is to share settings with other users. If our products are installed, this will not function, as each product is registered to a specific JAWS serial number and you will be doing your fellow JAWS users a serious disservice.

If you do wish to share settings with other users, and our products are installed, you should be very selective about the settings you choose to export and give to the other users. As you would expect, this can be achieved in a very accessible and easy way, but you need to be careful.

Within our upcoming training course relating to JAWS, I will provide full tuition on how to work with this feature in the proper manner. To find out about the course, please visit
www.hartgen.org/catchup

The new Import/Export/Migration facility has been a feature people have wanted for a very long time, and in the right circumstances, it works perfectly. But as a company, it is imperative that this blog post is published so as to hopefully minimise the number of technical support queries we will undoubtedly receive. We would far rather concentrate our limited resources on assisting people who are in genuine need.

I hope the above helps you before you install and use the public beta of JAWS version 18, and do enjoy working with it!

The Dragon NaturallySpeaking V15 Product Range is Released!

Hi to all

This morning, the Dragon V15 series was released by its developers, Nuance. We're very pleased to say that this month, we will be releasing updates to both J-Dictate and J-Say to support this series in the product range.
This includes Dragon Professional Individual and Legal, the two products about which we've received the majority of enquiries.

We are aiming for 19 September as a release date and we see no reason why this cannot be met. It will mean that J-Dictate will support Dragon Home, Premium, and anything in the Professional range from version 13 onward. J-Say will support any product in the professional range from version 12.5 up to 15.

Since the launch of J-Say in 2003, this is by far the quickest time we have been able to support a new release of Dragon NaturallySpeaking so we're very excited about that.

In terms of access via J-Say to JAWS for Windows version 18, we are already working on compatibility for the release when it is available in October of 2016. JAWS version 18 support will be available to anyone who holds a J-Say Software Maintenance Agreement or those who wish to purchase a J-Say upgrade.

We look forward to bringing you increased access to voice recognition technology within this final quarter of 2016!

New Build of Leasey 3.2 is On It's Way!

Hi to all

On Monday we will be releasing the first new build of Leasey for 2017 with, we hope, more to come during the next 12 months. We hope you enjoy the new features in this build. Remember, if you haven't told your friends about Leasey yet, please do spread the word. As one user put it, "There are lots of amazing tricks hidden inside!"

The Outlook 2016 Calendar.

Since changes within Microsoft Outlook 2016 were recently introduced, creating appropriate access to it has been, to say the least, challenging. At the time of writing, if Leasey is not used, there are a number of distinct disadvantages. If you live in a country other than the United States of America, you will not hear the day of the week spoken as you move through the items in the calendar, only the date. This makes planning appointments very difficult. Moreover, a lot of unwanted information is spoken which does not provide a rapid way of moving through appointments and dates. Appointments are not always shown in Braille. Finally, pressing the Tab key too many times can cause a user to move to appointments or events outside the scope of the current day and so he or she can become disorientated.

Leasey will assist with all of these difficulties. So you will hear:

  1. The days of the week as you navigate the calendar, irrespective of the country in which you live;
  2. Whether an item is an all day event or a timed appointment. If it is an all day event, JAWS will say, "All Day";
  3. All information is displayed in Braille;
  4. As you navigate day by day, you will hear information presented in a logical sequence, such as, day, then date, then the number of items for the day;
  5. If you Tab through all of the appointments, Leasey prevents you from moving elsewhere in the calendar. You can then choose an alternative day or Shift+Tab back through the items.

A new Chapter of our documentation has been written which explains how to use the Outlook 2016 calendar.

Please note: One of the reasons this has been so challenging to accomplish is that Microsoft renders the information concerning dates and appointments differently. It not only depends upon the country in which you live but also the build of Microsoft Office being used. So please, if you work with Leasey and you find a problem, be sure to let us know because we are paying extremely close attention to this.

The HTML Assistant.

Many people are creating text for blogs, web pages and HTML documents. But in order for the presentation to look visually appealing and to enable a high standard of navigation by screen-reading software, it is important to include HTML markup. This enables you to create text at specific Heading levels, bulleted or numbered lists or even insert tables and pictures.

Remembering the HTML syntax however to include in your text can be tricky. If one important character is not included, chances are that your formatting will not be present when you read the document at a later date, or maybe a link you insert will not function correctly. This is where the HTML Assistant can help.

There are many advantages of the HTML assistant:

  1. You do not need to remember the characters to insert for the HTML code.
  2. There is only one keystroke to remember in order to carry out all the tasks the HTML Assistant is capable of doing.
  3. The HTML Assistant is intelligent enough to know which task you are working on and will always guide you.
  4. In some instances, you can apply the HTML syntax to text you have already composed, although the preference is that you should use it while you are writing the original document. In summary, try to get into the routine of using the HTML Assistant as you write rather than after the event.

What the HTML Assistant Can Do.

To bring into view the HTML Assistant, hold down all three keys to the left of the Space Bar on a standard desktop keyboard, (ALT+Windows+Control), and while doing so, tap the letter H, for HTML.

A list of 14 items appears. When you press Enter on any option, you will be asked at least one question, possibly more. Remember, this is the only keystroke you need to remember to perform all HTML-related tasks.

Currently the HTML Assistant will help with creating headings at different levels, paragraphs, links, block quotes, bulleted and numbered lists, inserting images, and creating tables.

In respect of tables, Leasey's HTML Assistant will help in defining the column headers and rows. Leasey will also advise you when you are starting a new row of the table.

With pictures, Leasey guides you through specifying where the picture is located, alternative text for screen-readers, and the image dimensions. Leasey does also provide some guidance in terms of inches for the image, which gives you a greater understanding of what is required.

As an example of how to use the HTML Assistant, here is an extract from our documentation concerning creating a bulleted or numbered list.

This is one of the more complex parts of creating HTML code because not only is it necessary to insert characters to denote and terminate a list, but also it varies depending upon the type of list you wish to create. You would under normal circumstances have to place a tag at the start and end of each list item. Leasey takes care of this for you.

A bulleted list means that a bullet will be placed at the start of each list item. A numbered list means that the figures 1, 2, 3, etc, will be placed at the start of each list item. You will observe in our documentation that we always use numbered lists where step-by-step examples are given, but bulleted lists when highlighting a series of points to consider where you should not follow a particular routine.

From the HTML Assistant list, Go ahead and select a bulleted or numbered list option. You are asked for the first item to be placed on the list. Type it in and press Enter.

The text is inserted surrounded by the necessary HTML code.

You will also notice that characters have been placed above the text you have just typed, which indicates that a new bulleted or numbered list has begun.

Press the HTML Assistant key again. Rather than taking you back into the list of options with which you will already be familiar, Leasey knows that you are in the middle of creating a list, so she just asks you for the next item to be placed on it. Type it in and press Enter. Repeat the process as many times as necessary so as to complete your list.

You will notice each time you are asked for the next list item, you also hear this prompt: "Please Type the next Item of the Numbered List, then press Enter. To end the list, type the word, end."

So, as instructed, when you wish to end the list, into the Edit Field type the word, "end", and press Enter. Your list is now created and Leasey has terminated it with the necessary tag.

End of Documentation Extract.

In summary, we wanted to make it easier for people to create smart web pages without having to understand the series of characters to type in each situation. We do hope it helps!
Many features in Leasey are concerned with improving productivity while making computing easy for people at the same time. This new feature certainly fits those requirements.

Naturally, there is a lengthy chapter in our documentation which explains how to use this feature. We expect many enhancements to be made to this over time.

Other Enhancements.

Leasey can now be set to load the Facebook Mobile site as opposed to the larger regular version. Moreover, Leasey has been adjusted to make even using the mobile site easier. There is a full Chapter of our documentation to train you how to use the Facebook mobile site.

Two new radio stations have been added. The Accessible Friends Network radio station can be found in the Variety category and we're pleased to have Now Country back in the Country category.

One of the most popular features of last year in Leasey was the introduction of reproducing Emoji. We have added a number of new items to the Emoji list.

The new release of Leasey will be available on Monday and we hope you find it, and all the other features she has, useful!

Important Warning for People Upgrading from J-Say 12.0 or Earlier.

We have experienced this week an issue where a customer's computer would not successfully upgrade from J-Say 12.0 to the latest release. This occurs as a result of the way in which the installer for J-Say 12.0 and earlier functions which is completely outside of our control. However unfortunately we still have users who are working with this technology.

This situation only exists in an exceptionally small number of cases, but it is absolutely essential that if you are in the following position you read this information:
1. You are using JAWS 15.0 or 14.0.
2. You are trying to upgrade from J-Say 11.0, 11.1, 11.2 or 12.0.

If you are in this situation, please do not attempt the upgrade process yourself. Please write to:
brian@hartgenconsultancy.com
whereupon details of our remote access software will be sent to you. We will then connect to your computer and undertake this upgrade process.

To say again, updating from any other version of J-Say to the current release causes no difficulty whatsoever as the installation is handled in a completely different way and conforms to Freedom Scientific best practice. However, we want to be sure that our customers experience the highest level of support, and under no circumstances do we wish for anyone to be in difficulty. So please be sure to contact us in the event you are in this position.

Thank you for reading.

Remote Technical Support

Hi to all

We’re always trying to improve upon the level of assistance we give to our customers to provide the very best support available. While we have been using a facility to remotely connect to a customer’s computer and troubleshoot difficulties, this has had some limitations. There are people who simply cannot make use of this service at all for a variety of reasons, and that isn’t putting it too high. There are also times when, following computer modifications, we need to restart the machine, whereupon the whole process needs to be undertaken again.

To that end, we are transitioning to an alternative solution from Serotek which in time will include some additional modifications to ensure the process of connection is easier for those who require it, or for sighted assistants working with visually impaired people.

If you think in the future you may need technical support from us, allowing us to connect to your computer, we would ask please that you Download and Install the remote access client. This will stay in the background on your computer until needed. The install process is very straightforward, just press Enter three times to work through the various screens.

Thank you for reading and, in turn, helping us to help you!

J-Say, the Next Chapter

Introduction.

During the last few months, Nuance have rebranded a number of their Dragon NaturallySpeaking-related products. In this blog post, we'd like to explain some of the differences and where our products to assist blind screen-reader users fit into the range.

Our J-Dictate product, allowing a person to dictate into the computer without control by voice commands, works with all of the Dragon NaturallySpeaking products in the current range without exception.

Until now, J-Say, providing complete hands free control of the computer, functioned with Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 13 Professional, Legal and Medical. However, this product in time will not be available.

J-Say has not functioned with Dragon 14 Professional Individual, Legal and Group editions. This is the currently shipping and recommended series of products. The reason J-Say has not worked alongside these products is a restriction placed upon the Pro 14 series by Nuance, the developers, meaning the commands we can offer when the microphone is "Asleep" cannot be used.

While the command limitation is still the same at present, the reality is that as a company we do need to move forward and offer what functionality we can for people purchasing these products. So we now have a version of J-Say to support the Dragon Pro 14 series with a limited range of commands available when the microphone is not listening to most speech content.

What does this mean for new customers?

For the vast majority of users, it means they will not need to purchase Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional to make use of J-Say. The cost of this product was £550. Dragon Professional Individual, the new version for most people, is £295, so it is quite a saving. New customers have access to the J-Say functionality using this version.

What is the difference between Professional Individual and Group?

Dragon 14 Group is predominantly for people working in corporate environments. You would need Dragon Group if:

  • A user dictates across multiple computers and wishes to synchronize their Dragon user profile, avoiding additional work and ongoing maintenance.
  • A user needs to use Dragon across a Remote Desktop connection without Dragon being locally installed.
  • A user wishes to dictate with Dragon but not proofread their own dictation, thereby needing an assistant to perform this task.
  • The need for administrative deployment and updating of custom words and commands across multiple users.
  • MSI installation requirements within an organization.

To say again, it is extremely unlikely that an individual would want to purchase Dragon 14 Group.

What about Dragon 14 Legal?

The new release of J-Say functions with Dragon 14 Legal. However, you should bare in mind that Dragon 14 Legal is currently not available in the UK, and our understanding is that the Canadian release contains US spelling.

If I have J-Say now, with Dragon Pro 13, should I upgrade or do anything?

The only real advantage in upgrading to the 14 series would be to take advantage of additional support for Windows10 and Office 2016. On balance however, we have found that Dragon Pro 13 works extremely well in this environment. If you are considering upgrading, please talk to us first. If you did decide to upgrade to the Dragon 14 series, you can have the J-say equivalent at no additional cost, assuming you are using the latest J-Say release.

Summary.

We're very pleased to have released J-Say to support the Dragon 14 series. There certainly is a huge price reduction for new users who need to have hands-free control of the computer with speech output.

Again, the whole area of voice recognition currently is a minefield, so please talk to us if you are in any doubt as we can discuss your individual requirements and find a solution which works for you.

Product Discounts, Updates and More News from Hartgen Consultancy!

Hi to everyone

The convention and exhibition season rolls round again, and as we did last year, we're very pleased to offer substantial discounts on two of our products, Leasey and J-Dictate! You don't need to be attending a convention to get these discounts, but if you do, you'll find you can receive huge, (and we do mean huge), reductions on JAWS for Windows too.

What's On Sale?

Between now and 29 July 2016, you can receive a 50 percent discount on these popular products:

Please note that these discounts only apply if you purchase directly from Hartgen Consultancy.

What's Happening with J-Dictate?

Our J-Dictate product, allowing you to use all releases of Dragon NaturallySpeaking to dictate text and improve your productivity, has a new update.

If you've purchased J-Dictate in the past, you can get the update absolutely free, simply by downloading the product again and installing it. A link will have been provided in the Email which was sent to you at the time of purchase. If you do not have that, please send an email to jaws@hartgen.org containing your JAWS for Windows serial number, and we can trace the order and send it along. No problem!

There are two exciting things about this release of J-Dictate.

  • You can now create what we call a J-Dictate Text Note. Reproduce a few paragraphs or several pages with a single voice command. A signature would be a good example. The text can include graphics too, such as a handwritten signature.
  • Create commands to send mentions or direct messages to your friends on Twitter. Dragon NaturallySpeaking does not always understand the names of people you speak, so this considerably helps the process.

Both features are not only explained in our updated documentation, but they can also be used with Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home edition, which is the lowest price voice recognition product in the Nuance range. How about that?

You may like to read our Voice Recognition FAQ.

What Else is New?

As we said earlier, we are about to begin work on a new update to Leasey, again available free of charge to existing users of the product. A new version of our StationPlaylist Scripts for JAWS are being tested by some willing volunteers, and when a final release is available, there will be functionality for StationPlaylist Creator and for remote voice-tracking. Want to know what that is? You'll be able to read our documentation which will explain it. We're still improving that, but we hope the new release will be available next week.

The number of companies and organisations in the UK who are asking for our training and scripting services is very much on the increase too. So there's a lot happening.

For those who are attending conventions in the US and UK this month, safe travels to you and have a wonderful time!

New Features to Come in J-Say 14.1!

Introduction.

Now we are just a few weeks off from the release of J-Say version 14.1, we're in a position to let people know about the exciting new features which will be included as part of this release. J-Say of course allows you to control your computer by voice while at the same time gaining speech feedback from it. Our low-cost product, J-Dictate, is used for dictating text only, and there is news about that too within this blog post.

Remember, Remember.

By far the majority of our customers work to some extent in Microsoft Word and, as a result, read large documents within it. While we do have commands to find a place within a document, we've made locating the position within it far easier.

If the new feature is enabled, and the document is subsequently closed and opened again at a later time, J-Say will automatically set focus to the last point in the document which had been read or worked upon.

The Elements.

J-Say 14.1 contains support for inserting, moving through and deleting FootNotes, EndNotes, and Comments in Microsoft Word. When you've finished inserting one of these elements, just say, "Go Back", and the cursor is returned to the body of the document where you were dictating. Part of the text is also spoken as a reminder, so a user can pick up the thread of the dictation.

In addition, full support exists for document collaboration through Revisions. You can control the spoken output when a revision is encountered, (such as hearing the author, type of revision and date). Each Revision can be moved to systematically, rejected or accepted.

Finally, a list of all of the Elements mentioned above can be selected by voice and any of these moved to directly from it.

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words.

In version 6.1 of J-Say, (which seems a long time ago), we introduced J-Say Text Notes. The concept is that a voice command can be associated with reproducing a block of text, such as a few paragraphs or entire pages. However, the Text Note was restricted to plain text rather than incorporating special formatting or graphics.

This limitation has now been overcome. Imagine scanning your handwritten signature into the computer and being able to have the image with appropriate text reproduced with a voice command? This is now available with the command, "Store Text with Graphic". This will ensure our customers are more independent and is also a feature which will be available to J-Dictate users later this year.

Follow You, Follow Me.

Last year, we introduced a series of commands for users to work with Facebook, so it seems only natural that we provide a way for people to use Twitter as well.

There are a number of Twitter clients available which could be worked with. As a starting point, we have chosen to create voice commands for the Chicken Nugget application, but it is our intention to support a number of other clients in a future update.

All aspects of the application are controllable by voice, such as being able to move through tweets, examine their details, compose tweets and reply to them, the kind of things you would expect to be able to do. However, there is an additional feature which can be used irrespective of the Twitter client being worked with

Many Twitter usernames are difficult to say or even type on the keyboard. We've created the ability for a person to associate a real name with a Twitter username. This will allow a person to say the word, "Direct", or, "Mention", prior to the person's real name, such as, "Mention Brian". When the phrase is spoken, the relevant syntax is transcribed into the text edit area, such as, "@BrianHartgen". The tweet can then be dictated as usual. This feature will be available to J-Dictate users later this year as well.

Finally, you will be able to add Emoji to tweets and Facebook messages, as you can with our Leasey product. It's a feature which has been very successful and we're glad to be bringing it to J-Say users.

Living By Numbers.

One of the features often asked for is support for Microsoft Excel. This release will contain that support. Users can easily dictate into cells, quickly move to any cell of their choosing, set up monitors for cells together with automatic column and title reading. There are many commands you can speak in Microsoft Excel to gain the most from it.

Walk Right Back.

We're very glad in this release of J-Say to be offering full voice control and support of Sendero PC Maps and GPS.

With an intuitive user interface and the power of the PC, accessible maps and GPS are at your fingertips. Just type or dictate a destination, select a route and you are on your way. It can be used while travelling or, of equal benefit, to plan a route before setting out on your journey.

Sendero PC Maps and GPS enables you to:

  • Explore rural roads or city streets, intersection-by-intersection. Teachers, family, friends, anyone can follow along with the integrated visual maps.
  • Record personal Points of Interest (POI) and add rich audio content like restaurant menus or museum descriptions. Effortlessly share these POIs in real-time when you sync with the Sendero servers or your Sendero GPS or Sense Navigation product.
  • Hear your direction of travel. Check the odometer for distance traveled.
  • Search the database of millions of Points Of Interest in many countries for everything from airports to zoos and choose one as your destination.
  • Create and follow a route to that destination. Or turn on the manual route creation and create the route while you explore the maps.
  • Easily save and print or emboss routes to take with you or to share.
  • Create longer more complex routes on the PC and then transfer them to your Sendero GPS or Sense Navigation product.

Within our extensive J-Say documentation, we provide not only the voice commands for this program but a quick summary of each function together with its corresponding keystroke.

You've Got to Feel the Music!

If you have a Sonos device, you can now even control that with your voice too!

Sonos produce a range of sound systems, which are capable of streaming internet radio and online music services, such as TuneIn Radio, Apple Music and Spotify. You can also configure the players to use your own music library. In order to control all aspects of the devices, you need to use the Sonos Controller program for a Smartphone, tablet or PC. J-say makes the Sonos Controller for Windows accessible by voice and the keyboard.

Sonos devices are an ideal complement to J-Say. While we already have a radio player and the ability to listen to audio content on the PC, these devices take the music away from the computer so the speech output is not spoiling your enjoyment of the audio. They are especially ideal for anyone who has physical difficulties in terms of manipulating radios, CD players or other audio equipment. J-Say allows these devices to be controlled from the computer which could make a world of difference to anyone who is struggling in this way.

And That's Not All.

There are a number of other voice commands we have introduced. These include, "Save as PDF", (inserted into J-Say by customer request to save a Word document as a PDF file), "What Did I Say", (which repeats back the last phrase or command spoken), and commands to speak the remaining and total time of an audio file being played in Foobar 2000. Again, this was a customer requested feature.

New Chapters will be added to our documentation explaining all of the new features in detail and remember, this is a free upgrade to all users of J-Say 14.0. We hope our customers enjoy and benefit from it, and we look forward to bringing future updates in the months to come. We have lots of plans for new features!

We would very much like to thank our beta testers once again for their ongoing support and commitment to J-Say. Without their testing and ideas for features and refinements, the product would not be what it is today.

Our New Store is Open for Business!

Since we launched our company in late 2014, our products have been available to purchase online. This is critical for us, our product distributors and our customers. However while the online store was accessible, it contained some areas of difficulty for customers and it wasn't bringing back to us all the information we need. We wanted to improve the experience for customers and we took note of every comment we received. It was just a question of finding the right solution.

Following a lot of research, we came across SquirrelCart. This not only appeared to offer everything we needed, but it allows for considerable expansion as we grow. The level of accessibility wasn't perfect, but we felt confident that with assistance from the developers and our own coding knowledge we could ensure it was the best experience available. We were particularly keen to ensure that the system could be incorporated into our existing site framework, and inexperienced screen-reader users were not confronted with speech output which was unimportant to the purchasing process.

We would very much like to thank everyone at SquirrelCart for their amazing support, incredible patience in answering our many questions and for their attention to detail. It was very encouraging that they wanted to learn about screen-readers and how they interpret the content of web pages.

Features include:

  • Checkout as a guest or create an account. As with many modern sites, you can optionally sign in using Twitter or Facebook or create an account with your own unique cridentials.
  • In most instances, a screen-reader will announce if it is essential that you complete a form field. If you still forget, we'll tell you which fields you've missed.
  • You can submit a testimonial for a product if you wish.
  • Purchasing pages are kept simple.
  • An accessible order receipt is given at the end of the purchase process which is emailed to you. If you've mislaid your receipt in the future, don't worry, we have a copy of it.

There are many features we have not implemented as yet, but we hope to do so in the future. Feel free to check out our Online Store now and we hope it is a pleasure to use!

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