JOHN GASSMAN: During FSCast 167, we’ll talk about the CSUN Conference. Glen Gordon will be here to talk about the new transcription service in connection with FSCast, and Eric Damery is here to talk about the next JAWS Fusion update. He’ll tell us about a new feature and welcome an old friend. That’s next on FSCast 167.
Thank you for joining us on the March edition of the FSCast. We really appreciate all the great phone calls and emails that we got as a result of last month. And this month it’s going to be a shortened version of FSCast. Lots of things to talk about, so stay tuned. If you’d like to contact us here at FSCast, you can email us. And that email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, so F S C A S T at V I S P E R O dot com. Or you can call us on the listener line, as several people did last month. And that phone number is area code (727) 803-8000, extension 1010.
Back in January a new feature came to FSCast; and instead of hearing the podcast, you can now read the podcast. Actually, Larry and I sound better close-captioned, so that’s probably an advantage in and of itself. But Glen Gordon is back with us again to talk about how all of that became a reality. Glen, welcome back to FSCast.
GLEN GORDON: Well, John, it’s great to be with you on the program this time. Back in November, when we did one of our FSOpenLines, we got a response from someone who said, “Once again, you guys have audio, and you have no way for those of us who are deaf-blind to participate.” This issue has come up over the years. We were sort of afraid to do transcriptions of things that were relatively technical because, you know, there are infinite ways to mistype what JAWS is saying.
And suddenly it occurred to me, there’s a podcast that I love listening to called Security Now! with Steve Gibson. It’s kind of a “propeller hat” podcast for those of us who are interested in computer security and the like. And Steve has been using a transcriptionist named Elaine Farris for years to transcribe his podcast, which often also gets quite technical. So I figured, if she was able to do Security Now!, she’d definitely be able to do FSCast. Reached out to her early January, and it came together for the January podcast, having transcriptions.
And Elaine has just been really eager to understand the vocabulary of our industry and to understand the way JAWS reads things. Because one of her original questions was, “Do I need to type things like 10:00 as ten colon zero zero space o’clock?” And I said, “Well, no, probably you don’t because otherwise you’ll hear 10:00 o’clock.” And there were other, you know, small things that got worked out during the first couple of podcasts. But she’s really eager to get our content right, and I think the quality of the transcriptions prove that out.
JOHN: And she only has a few days to turn that around, so she must really be quick.
GLEN: She does seem to be able to turn stuff around quickly. She has lots of clients, so we need to sort of get into the queue. And I think that’s the bigger impact than how much time it takes. Because I think, under ideal circumstances, she can knock one of these things out in a couple of hours. Except for, of course, for identifying which one of you guys is talking. That’s the thing that takes days.
JOHN: Well, she should get a raise if she is able to figure that out.
GLEN: Yes. What do they call that, combat pay?
JOHN: I think you’re, yeah, you’re exactly right. Well, I know I’m me, and he knows I’m me. So there’s no reason she shouldn’t know why I am who I am. I mean, it’s pretty simple; right?
GLEN: Yes, except for the fact that your voices are really similar.
JOHN: True. Well, I’ll just send along a photo ID next time she does a transcription, and it’ll take care of itself.
GLEN: Yeah, absolutely.
JOHN: Yeah, yeah. The transcription comes in the form of kind of an extension of the MP3 file on the blog; right? So it’s like a Word document or a PDF document?
GLEN: It’s actually an HTML web page currently. So when you get the email, if you’re subscribed to our blog, you’ll get the email that tells you a new FSCast is out. And in that email is a link that you can click to read the transcriptions. Most of the time the transcription will already be there when we post the audio of the podcast. In some cases the link won’t be live yet. But when you click on it, it’ll tell you exactly how long you’ll need to wait before you can read the transcripts. Elaine, starting with the podcasts in February, started adding headings for the various sections of the podcast, so it’s really easy to use the H key to move from heading to heading if you’re interested in one topic more than another, helping you to navigate to it quickly.
JOHN: And she’ll really be busy because we have this one coming up in March, and then a CSUN wrap-up toward the end of March, and then back in April with our normal podcast. So she will definitely get a lot of FSCast experience in the next couple of months.
GLEN: She will, and there’ll be an FSOpenLine, as well.
JOHN: That’s true.
GLEN: That’ll probably post the early part of April because we’re doing it on the 28th of March this time.
JOHN: And you’re transcribing that one, as well.
GLEN: We are, yeah.
JOHN: Oh, good, okay.
GLEN: Both FSCast and FSOpenLine will be transcribed. And as we do other things in this vein, our hope is to always have transcriptions moving forward.
JOHN: Now, have you gotten a lot of good positive reaction? I know it’s a little early, but have people been writing in with their comments?
GLEN: Yeah. We’ve gotten some reaction. If people are like I am, you write when you don’t like something, and you tend not to write if something is pleasing you.
JOHN: Right, yeah.
GLEN: I think it’s just human nature. The rock in your shoe is the thing that causes you to buy a new pair.
JOHN: Exactly right.
GLEN: So, yeah.
JOHN: Well, and for those listening to this or reading this, we encourage you to write in with your feedback or just positive comments so that everybody who has begun the process will know what your feelings are.
GLEN: It’s really interesting because I always read through the transcript just to note if there’s anything that needs to get fixed. And it’s really fast to read an hour’s worth of transcript, or however long the podcast is. It’s so much faster reading with JAWS than listening.
GLEN: Obviously, you can speed up the audio. But in some ways reading it gives a whole different dimension.
JOHN: Those of you who have read the transcriptions, we hope that you’ve enjoyed them. And thank you very much, Glen, for coming on and talking about the “behind the scenes” part of this brand new feature.
GLEN: My pleasure. I’m really excited about it and glad we’re able to provide this as an additional service.
JOHN: If you’re a long-time listener to FSCast, you know that CSUN has been discussed on many, many a podcast. It’s celebrating its 34th year this year in a new venue in Anaheim, California. Eric Damery has been to about 25 of them. And here to talk about his experiences with CSUN is Eric Damery. Welcome back to FSCast, Eric.
ERIC DAMERY: Well, thanks, guys. CSUN has its – what is it, Cal State Northridge, Cal State University Northridge. And as John mentioned, they got started back 34 years ago. And it was a very small technology conference focused on assistive technology. And I’ve been going now since 1994 or 5. We were at the LAX Marriott Hotel. And it was a relative small venue, but it was a lot of “mom and pop” companies back in those days, so lots of small booths. If you had a double booth, a double 10x10, it was big. Nobody had islands like we have today.
And there were – some big companies came. Microsoft came in the early days. IBM used to be a presence at it. But there really wasn’t a whole lot. They didn’t have big booths, and they didn’t have a lot of involvement. They were just there on the outskirts, kind of. And it was all of these small companies. It was Henter-Joyce for me at the time, you know, back in those days. And of course GW Micro was there, and Arkenstone with their OpenBook product. And it was just a fantastic show.
And there was a lot of excitement, and there were a lot of international people that would come to it because CSUN has really been known now, for a number years they’ve been known as being the number one assistive technology convention in the world. If you want to see something new that’s coming or something, and talk to maybe the people that are really cutting edge, that’s the show you wanted to be at.
They outgrew that venue by the Los Angeles Airport, and they moved to San Diego about maybe 11, 12 years ago. And we’ve been down in San Diego at the Grand Hyatt, which is a huge venue, and that’s been a great show down there. And of course all the big companies are in it now. And there’s a lot less focus on the “mom and pop” companies, and mostly the bigger companies are there now, and a lot of the IT. And the presentations are very sophisticated now. I think they’re a lot better.
We moved from San Diego starting this year, and they’ve come back up near Los Angeles. We’re actually in Anaheim at the Marriott. And so this’ll be our first year at that hotel. It should be a lot of fun. It’s close by where you guys are located, I guess.
LARRY GASSMAN: Yeah, about 12 minutes. About 12 minutes from home. So I’m looking forward to being close. And it’s a big hotel. It’s probably bigger than the L.A. Marriott, as well. And it should be much fun, a lot of fun.
JOHN: Everything is on the first floor, so it’s really easy to find things. It should be a lot easier from a mobility perspective than it was in San Diego.
ERIC: Yeah. So I’ve been looking at the layout for the hotel and the conference. And like you say, it is all on one floor, which is unusual. We’ve never had that. We didn’t have that at the Marriott by LAX, and we didn’t have it at Grand Hyatt. You were all over the place to try and attend this thing. But, yeah. The Exhibit Hall is all there on the same level as where all the presentations are taking place, as I understand it. And we always have a showcase – well, I say “always.” We’ve had a showcase room now for a number of years, maybe five or six years. And we’ve got the closest showcase to the Exhibit Hall this year, but it only holds about 80 people for seating.
And so in this showcase we do presentations. We start 10:00, 11:00 on Wednesday, and we go right through till Friday afternoon around 4:00. And we have sessions going on in there pretty much nonstop the whole week, 40 minutes at a time. There’ll be anything from presentations on our software JAWS, ZoomText, Fusion. We have presentations on our training department. And The Paciello Group, TPG, is going to be there in full force this year. They’ve got a big team coming in, and they’re going to be doing a lot of sessions on accessible design and web testing and all the different things that they talk about. And there are a lot of professional companies that send their people that are trying to understand how to make sure that they’re in compliance and doing the right thing. And this is a golden opportunity for them to come and meet some of those experts from TPG. So that’s always fun.
In the Exhibit Hall itself, which is just down from our Showcase Suite, when people come into the Exhibit Hall, of course all the companies have got some fabulous booths set up, and a lot of knowledgeable staff there. And you can walk around the Exhibit Hall and see all the new products, things that are coming up, some things that aren’t quite released yet, but some that are just being released. A lot of companies try and get stuff ready to go right at this time. And we will certainly be in that boat because we’re going to be rolling out some brand new things. Some we’ll talk about here on FSCast now, and others we’ll wait and let them get unveiled at the show itself.
When people do come into the Exhibit Hall, if they turn to the right, as soon as they step in, Vispero will have three islands side by side. We’ve done this for the past couple years. So we take up a large portion of the front part of the Exhibit Hall with the Enhanced Vision product line, the Freedom Scientific product lines, and the Optelec product lines. And then we’ve got a separate booth that’s right in the middle of the Exhibit Hall where The Paciello Group will have a team of people there. And they’ll be showing some of their software products, JAWS Inspect and ARC; and they’ll have folks there to talk to companies that come by to see what we’re doing with TPG.
Now, during the conference, I know you two guys are both going to be there. And I understand you’re going to be able to do some recording and talk to some different people. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about what you guys are going to do.
LARRY: Eric, I look forward to CSUN every year, have been going since the mid ‘90s, along with John, when it was in Los Angeles at the Marriott next to the airport. And missed a few years after I got married, et cetera. But around 2009, 2010 I went, and then every year after that from 2015 on, when it was in San Diego. This year, of course, it’s so close to home for us that we’ll stay there, but we could Uber back and forth if we needed to. But a lot of the reasons I go are to see old friends because we’ve been doing this for many years. We’ve met a lot of people. It’s a chance for us to do a lot of networking as it relates to FSCast.
We’ve already talked to several people, and we will be doing some interviews that will eventually run on FSCast. We’ll talk to Larry Lewis at some point during the week about JAWS Inspect. Larry will also be talking to us about the TPG Group, as well. And we’ll talk to a lot of beta testers, private beta testers who we have been associated with, me since 2002, John since I think 2007, to talk about what they do, how they do it, as we find issues and correct issues, et cetera, as it relates to JAWS.
So we’re really looking forward to coming to CSUN once again, not only to network and to see old friends and to work a little bit for FSCast, but also just to see all of the things that are on exhibit, again. And it’s a high point of my year to come to CSUN, and we’re so happy to have the opportunity.
ERIC: Excellent. And make sure that you guys get by the Showcase Suite on Wednesday night. I think that there’s something scheduled there around 6:00 or 6:30 on Wednesday night, where we’re going to have kind of an open house celebration and announcement. So that’ll be at the Vispero Group Showcase Suite. And I forget what the name of that hall is, but they’ve got a big cluster of showcase suites for the big companies. I know Microsoft and Google and...
JOHN: It’s Platinum, I think.
ERIC: Yeah. So people will want to make sure they’re in that area and come by and see what we’ve got to talk about. And of course in the booth, if you come by the booth, I want to make sure that you maybe bring a thumb drive and some picture files on the thumb drive because we’ve got some real exciting news coming out that we’ll talk about in a few minutes, I guess, on JAWS for Windows. And Fusion March Update there’s a brand new feature we’re calling Picture Smart. We’re going to have it in the booth, and people will be able to bring a thumb drive by. If you’ve got some JPEGs or some pictures from home, bring them with you on your thumb drive. We’ll put it in the computer, and we’ll see what JAWS thinks of your photos.
LARRY: A couple of years ago at CSUN ElBraille was introduced for the first time. And we’ve been hearing now for a little while about improvements and upgrades coming to the ElBraille. And it looks like this is the year for it, Eric.
ERIC: That’s right. We’ll be there again this year with an ElBraille stand in our booth. If you are attending, make sure you stop by. I believe Ron Miller and Adi Kushnir are both going to be in the booth again. And this year they’re bringing to us a newer version with an i5 processor in, and plenty of RAM, and a little bigger format with a 40-cell display. This is the one that a lot of people have been waiting for. So if you’ve been holding off to get an ElBraille or get your hands on the ElBraille, now is the time. So come by the booth and see those guys and check it out.
LARRY: Eric, I can’t wait. CSUN 2019 just around the corner. We hope that a lot of you will be with us. Brand new venue, lots of things to explore, and it’s coming very, very soon. So we’ll hope to see many of you there.
JOHN: Well, the March JAWS Update has a lot of interesting features and enhancements going for it. Tell us a little bit about that, Eric.
ERIC: Yeah, we’re about, let’s see, the last update we got was right at the end of January, I believe. And we’ve been working hard now for quite a while on some of these features. But Picture Smart feature, this is taking advantage of some of the AI technology that’s out there. We heard about some of the things that Microsoft’s done, and Google has done, and there are others. IBM has been doing some work in this field for a long time.
And what we’ve tried to do is come up with a feature in JAWS that’ll allow you to locate a picture and to submit that picture back to us. And it’ll be encrypted when it comes to us, and we will submit it to various services up in the cloud such as Microsoft, Google, and IBM. They’ll analyze the picture, and they’ll send the information back to us, and we’ll piece it together in the results viewer and kind of give you a description.
So I’ll give you a “for instance.” I found a picture that I had taken a number of years ago when I was on a family vacation in Arizona, and we had gone to – we were actually in Vegas, and we left Vegas, and we went by the Hoover Dam. So I was on the very top of the Hoover Dam, and I took a picture looking down at where the water is churning around as it comes out of the dam. And Picture Smart was able to recognize that that was Hoover Dam that I was standing on top of. And it described the picture quite well. If you take a picture that has text in it, it’ll actually locate the text in the picture, OCR it, and read you the text back, as well. It tells you how many people. It kind of describes it.
Now, what it doesn’t do is recognize who people are unless they’re very famous people. If you get a picture that’s got some celebrity on it, there’s a good chance that it’ll recognize who that person is and give you that information. But it does not recognize individuals. So if you have family members in the picture, it’s not going to tell you who they are. It’s just going to tell you how many faces there are and how many men, how many women, children, so forth.
But a great new breakthrough, I think, and a neat feature in JAWS. We’ve had Convenient OCR for a number of years. And now to be able to actually get it to land on an image and be able to recognize the image and give you the detail back. So I think that’s something you guys can demonstrate here in a little bit on the FSCast, give people a flare for how that’s going to work. I hope folks will come by the booth and see us and bring some pictures.
And of course if you’ve got JAWS, if you’re getting these 2019 updates, make sure you get that update and give it a try. The way it works is, if you’ve got some files that are JPEGs or image files, you can save them in a folder in Windows Explorer, or we actually create a folder called Picture Smart in your pictures directory, and you can store things in there, go to the folder, move to the file. While you’re sitting on the file, you use INSERT+SPACEBAR for the layered mode, P for Picture, and then F for file.
JOHN: Eric, we’ve talked a little bit about Picture Smart, and you’ve described it. So let’s talk a little bit more about when people can take advantage of this particular app.
ERIC: Well, we intend on getting this March Update for JAWS, ZoomText, and Fusion all posted during the course of CSUN. So people should stand by and pay attention during the mornings. We’ll get that release out as quick as we can.
JOHN: All right. What do you say we demonstrate the Smart Picture? Eric’s still hanging out there, but Eric will be there, I’m sure, when we’re ready to talk to him again. He’s so patient.
All right. So let’s walk over now to some pictures that I have. And if you remember correctly, you have to make sure that the item to submit information to Freedom Scientific is turned on in order for this to work. Now, if you forget to do it, like I did when I first got this JAWS beta, it’ll prompt you.
So let’s take a look at a picture. I’ll go through the motions in terms of keystrokes, and it’ll give us that prompt. So I always nickname my pictures with the date and what the picture’s all about. But if I didn’t know what this one was all about, it would be very simple to find out.
So I’m going to do INSERT, which is the JAWS key on the desktop keyboard, INSERT+SPACEBAR, and then P for Picture, and then F for File. And we’re going to get that prompt.
JAWS VOICE: Picture Smart Dialog. You must enable anonymous usage data collection in order to use this feature. Do you want to enable anonymous usage data collection? NO button.
JOHN: So the NO button is there by default. Now, if you need to do this, and you don’t want to wait for this prompt, it’s one of the first things you see in the JAWS Wizard that you would normally look at when you first install the product. It’s right there. You just check the box, and then you’ll be able to take a look at your pictures. So I’m going to tab to the YES button.
JAWS VOICE: YES button.
JOHN: Press ENTER.
JAWS VOICE: Picture Smart is in progress. Heading Level 2, caption is “A man standing in front of a fence.” Heading Level 5, total number of faces in this photo is one. Heading Level 4, this landmark possibly appears in the photo: Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Heading Level 4, this text appears in the photo: SJCamGo. Heading Level 4, this object appears in the photo: person. Heading Level 4, this object probably appears in the photo: man. Heading Level 3, these tags describe the photo: baseball, baseball field, outdoor, person, sports venue, stadium. Heading Level 3, these tags probably describe the photo: baseball park, baseball player, bat and ball games, fan, product, team sport, sport.
JOHN: Now, there’s a lot of description, a lot of information in that results viewer. Matter of fact, I think the description is longer than our FSCast will be today.
LARRY: By the way, you should know that in that particular case, it recognized Angel Stadium. It recognized baseball. In most cases, if you use Picture Smart, and you have people in the photo, it will not recognize them. John just happened to take a picture of Angel Stadium, so that’s why it recognized Angel Stadium.
JOHN: And it was me in my 2002 Angel championship jersey.
LARRY: You should be happy that it described you as a man.
JOHN: That’s a different FSCast entirely. And we won’t go there.
LARRY: No, we won’t.
JOHN: Now, I have another picture.
LARRY: It’s why we have job security. We can come back in April.
JOHN: Oh, one less job coming up for you. Now we’re going to move along to one more picture to give you an idea in terms of how it recognizes some celebrities. It might recognize Eric Damery and Glen Gordon.
LARRY: I doubt it.
JOHN: And Miguel. But...
LARRY: No, come on.
JOHN: Oh, okay. Maybe I’m stretching just a little.
LARRY: It’s a stretch.
JOHN: Okay. Here’s one more picture of Disney from 2013. And I’m going to explain this a little bit. It’s a picture of me and Walt Disney. Now, Walt had been gone when I was 11 years old, so it’s not a literal picture of me and Walt Disney. But it’s a backdrop where they had Walt Disney posing, and then various cast members could come up and get their pictures taken with him. Which is what I did. So it’s the only picture I have of me and Walt Disney, sort of. So let’s see how JAWS interprets that one. INSERT+SPACEBAR+P for Picture.
JAWS VOICE: Picture Smart.
JOHN: And F.
JAWS VOICE: Picture Smart is in progress.
JOHN: And now it’s processing.
JAWS VOICE: Heading Level 2 caption is Walt Disney et al., posing for the camera. Heading Level 5, total number of faces in this photo is two. Heading Level 4, this object appears in the photo: person. Heading Level 4, these objects possibly appear in the photo: hat, man. Heading Level 3, these tags describe the photo: man, person. Heading Level 3, these tags probably describe the photo: military, standing. Heading Level 3, this tag possibly describes the photo: people, people.
JOHN: We should mention one very important thing. For those of you who live outside of the English-speaking countries, at this point in time, with the release of this brand new March Update, the Picture Smart photo description works only in English, period. Oh, I’m, like, dictating on my iPhone again. Sorry. So this will be rectified and fixed so that they work in all languages, eventually. Hopefully soon. But at the moment they work just in English. So if you want to use this great new Picture Smart feature, you would have to switch to English with regard to languages. And then it would work just fine.
And what happens to those Picture Smart pictures? Does anybody see them? Does Freedom Scientific have a chance to look at them? The answer is no. When you send those pictures into the cloud through Microsoft or Google or whoever, they’re encrypted, and they’re not seen by anyone. So nobody sees the pictures with regard to security. Nobody bothers to look at them, and they couldn’t even if they wanted to. Everything is perfectly safe.
And just remember this is the first innovation of this brand new feature. So it’s not 100% yet, but it’ll get better as time progresses and as Freedom Scientific Vispero add new items to it. So it’s a lot of fun. And play with it, enjoy it, try some of your old pictures that aren’t labeled, and just see how JAWS does with Picture Smart.
LARRY: Hey, John, hang on just a second. Eric. Hey, Eric. Eric fell asleep. Okay, John. I think Eric’s ready for you.
JOHN: And we have something new to talk about with regard to Google Chrome.
ERIC: Yes. This is something that we’ve been working on with Google for a while now, and they’ve got their side of the work done and available in the Canary version of Chrome at the moment. But it’s going to roll out, I believe the end of April, for everyone that’s got Chrome that doesn’t install Canary. For years in Internet Explorer, JAWS customers have had the ability, using the virtual cursor, to select content on a web page, copy it to the clipboard, go to an email message or go to Microsoft Word and paste. And when they do, the markup that was on the web, so if it was a table or a list or a link or a heading, that information, that formatting comes with the copy and paste from IE.
That has not been available to us in Chrome to date. And starting with the March Update, if you’re running a version of Google Chrome that is Build 74 or higher, you’ll be able to do, just like with IE, be able to go in, select content, copy it to the clipboard, and paste it in an email, and you’ll get that markup. And that’ll work with the new version of JAWS and Fusion.
LARRY: Eric, John and I have been using Chrome Canary now for the last couple of years or so. We heard about it from – I think Glen Gordon told us about it at CSUN one year. And I love it. It reminds me of some of the beta stuff that we do with the beta testers, as well, because you’re always right at the forefront of what’s going on. And the updates keep coming, almost nightly, seemingly. And I love it. So I’m looking forward to this.
Now, I should warn you that this is developer beta-like software. And so you never know what you’re going to get. You know they’re still working on it. It’s a work in progress as they develop. So it’s something that probably should not be used for your everyday browser. If you want to copy and paste, you can use it for that, but then I would go back to Chrome until Chrome is updated to an equal version, et cetera. This is like beta-type software. And so just be warned if you want to use it.
ERIC: It really is good. It’s nice to kind of be on the bleeding edge of some of this stuff. And that’s a good place to be. And it’s not their alpha. It’s really getting very ready for release. It’s just a little early.
One of the things – let me just mention this one, too. When we released the new Add a Voice for Vocalizer Expressive Voices, you would have to, after you added the voices, restart JAWS in order for those voices to be present and available to you. That’s been resolved now so that, as soon as you install your voices, they’ll be present. You don’t have to restart JAWS.
JOHN: Lot of interesting things happening in March with CSUN and the new JAWS Update, and thank you for telling us about it, Eric.
ERIC: It was my pleasure, guys. And I will see you in California.
JOHN: We’re really looking forward to it.
ERIC: All right. Bye bye.
JOHN: Toward the end of March, we’ll be back with another FSCast, and we’ll talk about what went on at CSUN. And of course don’t forget the next FSOpenLine comes your way in the United States on March 28, that’s a Thursday, 3:00 Eastern Time, 12:00 Pacific, and you’ll have to figure out where it is in the rest of the world. And it’ll be published on FSCast probably early April. And then we’ll be back with another FSCast later that month. Hope you enjoyed the podcast and that you’ll be with us next time on FSCast.