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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!