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My favourite new features in SPL Studio V5!

StationPlaylist Studio version 5 has now been released, so I thought very quickly I would post information about my favourite features. Studio, Creator and Streamer have all been updated with new improvements. We use all of them.

Studio has two internal audio players, each of which will play a song alternately. You can now assign each player to output via a different soundcard. This means you can assign two soundcards for use as the audio playback. If you have a sound mixer, and you use Studio through that as I do, you can assign a channel on your mixing desk to each audio player, making for some very nice cross-fading. It works really well.

Next is a feature which allows you to change the properties of an item you have inserted into your playlist. So if you've inserted a spot group in error, you can change that to a manual track or any other item, such as voice intro.

Multiple tracks can be selected for copying or deleting for example by pressing Shift+Down Arrow repeatedly.

Here's a cool one, probably my favourite. In the track preview player, you can hear the last 10 seconds of a track so you can find out how the song ends. I love that! Gets you ready for those cold endings.

"Unsaved playlist warning" is a new option in the General Options. When checked, if a playlist has been manually altered and not saved, Studio will display a warning when exiting Studio or clearing all playlists.

There are stacks of other new features too. Creator has been completely redesigned and has some great options, such as a break note which disables cross-fading, something I particularly asked for.

The JAWS scripts for Studio V5 have been completely rewritten and they differ substantially from V4.33. We do have some new features, and I'll post the changes along with the scripts.

Enjoy your new products if you decide to upgrade!

Not Here For Your Inspiration? Why Not?

Ok, I think I must be really weird. I've heard people all week long rhapsidising about this blog by stella young. It discusses the Scott Hamilton quote "The only disability in life is a bad attitude", which has been freely used to illustrate heart warming/stomach heaving pictures of disabled people doing normal things. I agree in the main with a lot of what Stella young says here, and that quote is patent bolderdash. If the only disability in life is a bad attitude, could someone please press a switch and give me back my eyesight? No? Thought not.

What I am having a problem with is the latter part of the article. I read that while Stella was on the way to work one day, someone took the time to let her know that she, that is the co-traveler in question, found her, Stella Young, an inspiration. Stella had a problem with this, and I just hope that kind, well-meaning person did not get to see herself used in a blog in the way that she was. I have heard a lot of my friends say they hate it when people call them inspirational/amazing/something complimentary for doing ordinary things which they do every day. We are not here for your inspiration, grumps Stella Young. Why not, exactly?

Being called an inspiration to someone is something with which I have never had a problem. Now please, don’t get the idea that I am an attention-seeking, vainglorious, self-satisfied holier than thou goody two-shoes, who goes around trying to shed light on all the world. I’m not. I do the same ordinary things as everyone else, and probably less than some. I get frustrated about inaccessibility, I moan about my health, I have my weaknesses and my imperfections like everyone. But the way I see it is this. If somebody sees me bumbling along, leading my life and finds me inspirational, what right do I have to spoil that for them by making myself unpleasant about it? I certainly don’t seek it, but hell, I’m certainly not going to bust anyone’s bubble by being rude about it either.

And when you think of it, the fact of having or not having a disability shouldn’t have anything to do with it at all. Don’t you think it would be cool if we were all an inspiration to someone? Not because we have a disability and just get on with our lives the best we can, but for who we are, for what we do, for the difference we can make, however tiny, in the world we live in?

Oh sure, I can hear everyone saying “My disability is the least important thing about me!” and of course that’s true. But for me, if something about my being blind and doing something ordinary made a positive impact on someone then I can only see it as good, not bad.

When it comes right down to it, I’d rather have a positive effect, however tiny, on someone’s life than be thought of as a complete asshole, or, even worse, as just a makeweight.

Initial thoughts on AccessNote

Hi everyone

It's been a little while since I've posted anything to my blog, but I thought I would write a quick entry here in relation to the forthcoming app which is to be released entitled AccessNote.

Before we get to that, I have to say that I took delivery this morning of an Apple wireless keyboard I bought it from Amazon, and although it was quite expensive at around 60 pounds, it is definitely a worthwhile purchase.

When Apple produce something, it just works! That's the great thing about anything from them. Once I found the On/Off switch, I turned on the keyboard, paired it via Bluetooth which was a very straightforward process, and started using it!

It is a beautiful design and resembles a standard laptop computer keyboard which is exactly what I was hoping for. I can type at the same speed on this keyboard as I can a regular desktop. I also like the fact that it slopes up at the back which makes for a lovely ergonomic design.

There is a very good summary on this web page of VoiceOver and navigation keystrokes. But for me, this keyboard has turned the iPhone into a mini computer rather than just a phone. Fleksy is wonderful, the mini bluetooth keyboard I have is good too because with both of those things, they can be used when I do not wish to carry another device or if I need something really portable respectively. However, this keyboard is just going to be so brilliant for email composition and particularly when taking thorough and accurate notes, which leads me to my next topic.

What I want is an excellent app for notetaking, giving me similar functionality to that available on more specialist notetakers for the blind. I sent a tweet out, saying I was really looking forward to the new notetaking app, AccessNote being developed by the American Foundation for the Blind. I very much support AFB in terms of what they are trying to do here and if you read it's description you may understand why.

But the reaction I received back by way of mentions is, to put it mildly, unehthusiastic. There's the usual moaning about over pricing (which was also applied to Fleksy when it first appeared on the market until people started to realise how absolutely brilliant it was). But also I am receiving the comment that it duplicates what other notetakers do. But people do not seem to be able to answer my basic question, which is, please tell me the name of the app which replicates precisely what AccessNote is trying to do? Sure, there may be notetaking apps, indeed there is a basic app built into the iPhone as it stands, but AFB's app also boasts convenient keyboard shortcuts to achieve common tasks which blind people want to be able to do, comprehensive search facilities, accurate VoiceOver navigation, and Dropboxing syncing to name but a few items. AFB say this will be priced under $30 which is reasonable given the high cost of app development and time investment.

I tried at least one free app which was recommended, and from a VoiceOver performance perspective it was really bad. There was lots of extraneous speech I really didn't want to hear, the focus kept moving from where I wanted it to be, and various other niggles which do not make it a pleasure to use. But this would be the case, it is a free app. You get what you pay for. People need to understand that not everything in this world is going to be free or less than a pound of UK currency. This atitude is really irritating me.

So, let me end by sayingI completely support AFB's initiative and I hope it will not be too long before the app is available to us. Go AFB!