Archive for May, 2009

Cut and paste now Reorders iTunes Playlists

May 31, 2009

Apple has recently added the ability to change the order of tracks in an iTunes playlist using cut and paste. This works with any screen reader. Simply cut the track you want to move with CTRL+X and paste it where you want with CTRL+V. I’m delighted this feature has been implemented; I just wish Apple documented such improvements so people could start using them right away when they are introduced.

Accessible iPod Book now Available

May 29, 2009

I recently wrote a book about the new talking iPods for National Braille Press called Using the Accessible iPod, and it is now available in multiple formats. This book tells you how to get started with iTunes, and how to use every accessible feature on the fourth generation iPod Nano and any iPod Shuffle. There is a frequently asked questions section, as well as a section on how your iPod and iTunes organize music and how to fix tagging errors that make it hard to find the music you want. And a resources section at the back includes all websites mentioned in the book, plus sources for additional information. It costs US$15. Enjoy!

NLS Launches Permanent Digital Book Download Site

May 5, 2009

On April 28, the U.S. National Library Service ended its digital downloads pilot program, and on April 30, it launched its new Braille and Audio Reading Download service (BARD for short. If you used the pilot site, the new site will look familiar. The list of recently added books, the keyword search, the lists that let you browse by author, title or subject, and the Magazines and Account Settings links are all there. Browsing through recently added books and keyword search results works as it did before, as does downloading books. One addition is the Most Popular Books list, which displays the books most frequently downloaded in the past 90 days. Another change is that there is no longer a limit on how many books you can download.

It’s great to see this service move into high gear. What a wonderful week for people who like to download audiobooks.

RFB&D Offers All Books as DAISY Downloads

May 5, 2009

Last week, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic began offering all their books for download in DAISY format. To download a book, order it as you always have, but choose the AudioPlus Download format and check out. If the book is available, you can download it immediately from the Downloads section of your account if you have installed RFB&D’s Download Manager. (Download Manager is easy to install.) If the book is not available, you will receive an e-mail notifying you when it is. Currently, many books are not immediately available because the service is new, but this should be less of an issue as time goes on.

I tried the service a couple of days ago, and it worked very well. My book was not immediately available, but it was posted the next day. Downloading was straightforward; the Download Manager handled the downloading and unpacking of the book files. The zipped versions go in a folder in your Documents or My Documents folder called RFBD Downloads, and the unpacked versions go in RFBD Media Files. The book is in a folder whose name is the shelf number of the book. To put the book on a Victor Reader Stream or similar player, use Windows Explorer’s Copy and Paste commands. You can also listen on your computer or burn the book to CD to read with a CD-based DAISY player.

If you download a book and it doesn’t play correctly, you can download it again. I had to do this with my book, and redownloading solved the problem.

RFB&D made another nice change as well. You don’t have to type in your PIN number when you open RFB&D booksorderd on CD or downloaded after April 27. This makes playing books easier, particularly if you need to switch frequently between books.

It’s exciting to have RFB&D’s collection available as downloadable DAISY books. This will be a great help to students all over the U.S.

Stream and Stream Companion Updates Released

May 1, 2009

At the end of March, HumanWare released updates for the Victor Reader Stream and the Stream Companion transfer software. New features of the Victor Stream include:

  • Search capability within text, BRF, and DAISY text files.
  • The ability to organize podcasts, music, audiobooks, and text files into folders and to navigate by file or by several levels of folders. This makes it easier to organize large SD cards.
  • The ability to make any folder a temporary playlist so that you can play all the music on a particular album, by a particular artist, or of a particular genre, depending on how you organize your music. When you select a folder as a temporary playlist, all subfolders are included. You can shuffle temporary playlists if you like.
  • The ability to create a text label for an SD card. The text label is spoken when you insert the card into your Stream to make it easy to identify.

The new version of Stream Companion, which has been renamed HumanWare Companion because it also works with the ClassMate Reader (basically a Victor Reader Stream with a screen), is easier to use than its predicessor. You can choose the part of the program you want (Talking Books, Notes, etc.) with hotkeys or from a menu rather than having to move between them with CTRL+TAB, you can append music to a previously created playlist, and you can find out how much space is available on your player at any time by reading the status line.

You can visit the documentation page to read release notes for the Stream software or HumanWare Companion, download tutorials, or try a new option called Stream Audio Clips, which are short MP3 files, each of which explains a particular Stream feature. I’m glad to see HumanWare continuing to create great training materials as well as excellent Stream updates.