LARRY GASSMAN: On FSCast 181, we’ll hear about CSUN. We’ll also take a look at the webinars coming up very shortly, thanks to the Training Department. Also a Power Tip from Joseph LaFauci. And Ron Miller and Adi Kushner will talk about the long-awaited ElBraille. That’s all coming up next on FSCast 181.
Well, hi, everybody. Thanks for being with us. Welcome to FSCast 181. Larry and John Gassman here, and a lot to get to in a relatively short amount of time. But first let’s talk quickly about how you can contact us. It’s very easy.
JOHN GASSMAN: You can email us at email@example.com. FSCast is run together; so is Vispero, V I S P E R O. So firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can call us on the Listener Line, area code (727) 803-8000, extension 1010.
LARRY: And many of you were really good last month. When you wanted a response, you left your name and your phone number and in many cases your email address, which helped us quite a bit. Thank you for doing that, and please do that again in the future.
Now let’s talk briefly about the next JAWS, Fusion, and ZoomText update. Obviously we released JAWS, Fusion, and ZoomText in October of 2019; and we have updates about every four to six weeks. Just to let you know, there’ll be more about this later on. But we will have an update coming up after CSUN, probably a week or two after CSUN closes in March. So please stay tuned for that.
JOHN: Now let’s talk for a couple minutes about reaction from last month’s FSCast 179. We received several comments about the Edge beta, especially that unusual sound that we heard as we loaded a web page. People were asking, “What is that sound? I can’t find it on my machine anywhere.” Well, the story behind all of that is that we recorded the Edge beta and described it technically when we loaded a web page. And then when we were editing we accidentally cut that description out and forgot about it.
So what that is, is a sound that is present in Brian Hartgen’s Leasey product. And every time a web page loads, that ding sound occurs so that you don’t have to hear JAWS tell you that the page is loading and so forth. You just hear the sound and know that the page is loaded, and you’re ready to go. He has now done some other work, and so there are some other sounds that will be upcoming in future Leasey releases.
LARRY: Yes, Brian has done a lot of great work throughout the years. And for more information about his schedule of what he is doing, you can go to his web page. It’s Hartgen.org. Hartgen is spelled H A R T G E N.
JOHN: The other thing that I wanted to definitely mention was that I made a mistake. And that’s not unusual in and of itself. But I was reading an old Edge beta article about extensions not being available in the Microsoft Edge, and that is wrong. Several people told me about that: Glen Gordon, Jonathan Mosen, and Thomas Domville. And you may remember Thomas, if you are an iPhone user and listen to the AppleVis podcast. He does a lot of those podcasts, does a great job. And of course that also means he’s a JAWS user because he wrote to us here at FSCast. Matter of fact, he sent in a very brief explanation of how you can get to those extensions.
JAWS VOICE: One, go to Extension from the File Menu. Two, make sure you are at the top of the page of extensions. Three, there is a More button. Go ahead and hit SPACEBAR. Four, you can use the Find with CTRL+F4. Simply go down until you find the Allow Extensions from Other Stores. Five, check this or enable this checkbox. There you go. Just go to any Google Chrome extension site and add away.
LARRY: Let’s talk a little bit about FSOpenLine. If you happen to have missed the latest one, which was done in February, you can still hear it through the archive. You go to the web page and check on FSOpenLine. And if you’d like to read it, you can do that, too, because we do have transcripts of all of the FSOpenLines in the last year or so. So we invite you to join Rachel Buchanan and Glen Gordon and Eric Damery. And it’s usually quarterly now. And great stuff, great questions, lot of information to be heard.
JOHN: 8:00 Eastern, 5:00 Pacific in terms of the United States time zones. You can find a specific Zoom Room ID or phone number by going to the Freedom Scientific website under FSOpenLine.
LARRY: Also the next webinar is on OneDrive, and that’s coming up on March 19th. The Training Department does them, as well, on the third Thursday. They’re also putting up videos on YouTube, as well. So you can actually go in and learn more about the subject that interests you. And so the next one, March 19th, the next Freedom Scientific webinar on OneDrive.
Now let’s talk a little bit about CSUN.
JOHN: Well, we’re just a few days away from the CSUN Conference. And once again this year Freedom Scientific and Vispero will have a very large presence at the conference. You can literally go to the Freedom Scientific web page, look under up-and-coming events, and get all the information with regard to where the conference is going to be held at the Anaheim Marriott, as well as the address.
LARRY: Well, before we get to some of the presentations, let’s talk about exhibit hours. Everybody loves the exhibits. It’s a chance to go in and look at your favorite products or find out about new ones. And the exhibit hall this year will be open for three days – well, two and a half, actually, because Wednesday on March 11 it begins at noon and goes to 7:00. Thursday, it’s a full day from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. And once again on Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the exhibit hall.
Now, remember, it is free. You can go in for free. But you must register first. If you don’t register, they will not let you in. And if you’d like to see what Vispero has to offer this year, you can come and visit us at Booths 503, 603, and 703 – very easy to remember. Once again, booths 503, 603, and 703. Come visit us at the booths at the Anaheim Marriott at the CSUN Conference for 2020.
Now let’s talk a little bit about presentations. This year, all of the Freedom Scientific Vispero sessions will be in Platinum 5, and they’ll be sharing space with other organizations, as well. So what I’m going to do quickly is just give you the Vispero-related sessions thus far. One of our most popular sessions is the “What’s New with JAWS?” session. And this year, “What’s New with JAWS 2020?” will be taught by Eric Damery. That’s at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 11. Just a little later that afternoon, at 1:20 p.m., “JAWS Kiosk: What Is It, and When Would I Use It?” And that’s with Ryan Jones. And the last session we’ll talk about on Wednesday, March 11 is at 4:20 p.m. with Rachel Buchanan. And it’s “Empowering Independence: Learn JAWS, Fusion, and ZoomText.”
Moving to March 12, Thursday at 10:00 a.m., Matt Ater will be along to discuss “Lessons Learned from Developing Accessible Kiosks.” And at 11:00 a.m. Eric Damery will be back to discuss the latest in Fusion and ZoomText 2020. And for anybody who works in accessibility and assistive technology, the next session taught by Larry Lewis at 1:20 p.m. should be very interesting. It’s entitled “Overcoming Obstacles to Manual Accessibility Testing.”
JOHN: Now, we’ve very quickly mentioned a few of the presentations that will take place at CSUN. If you want more details, the quickest way to do that is to use whatever search engine you would like and search for CSUN Conference 2020. Not only will you see the presentation schedules, but you will see registration, as well as the exhibitors page, all on one website page. So that’ll give you all the information you could possibly want about CSUN for 2020.
JAWS VOICE: And now it’s time for an FSCast JAWS Power Tip.
LARRY: And for February our JAWS Power Tip winner is Joseph LaFauci.
JAWS VOICE: JAWS and Fusion have two ways for users to gather info about some important items from their system tray. Two of the most valuable for users may be the status of their battery level and details of their Internet connection. Starting with the February 2020 Update, users will find that pressing JAWS KEY+SHIFT+B will announce if AC is connected and the battery level status, followed by the Tool Tip from their Internet connection. All of this from that one command.
Now, if you are looking for more details from all the items in the system tray, you can always use INSERT+F11 to get a list and status of everything there. Or use CTRL+SHIFT+F11, and all of the items are presented to you in the virtual window, where you can review or even select and share with someone, if necessary. Finally, since remembering various commands takes some time, please use JAWS command search, INSERT+SPACE+J from there. You can type in search words such as “battery,” “level,” “system tray,” “connection,” et cetera. These will all try to quickly find and learn those features and more.
LARRY: Once again, Joseph LaFauci, thank you so much for your JAWS Power Tip. And when you win, you’ll win another year’s worth of JAWS, ZoomText, or Fusion automatically. It’ll just be added to whatever you already have. And if you’re in the United States, and you’re using the Home Annual License on the Freedom Scientific web page, then you’ll automatically be updated. If you’re outside the U.S. or are using the perpetual license, it’ll be extended, as well, for another year. Once again, send your name, serial number, and your Power Tip to email@example.com.
JOHN: March is here, and that means it’s time for CSUN. And a lot of good things happening this year. One of them is the ElBraille Notetaker, the updated, brand new version. And it will be at CSUN. We thought we might want to talk a little bit about the ElBraille because there’s a lot of great help documentation coming your way. I know for me, I enjoy looking at the documentation before I actually get the product so that I know what I’m talking about.
When I first got my iPhone back in 2011, I read up on the iPhone. I looked at all the blindness-related blogs and podcasts in the area of the iPhone so that I would know a little bit about what I was doing when I got the unit. And it helped out immeasurably.
I’ve done the same thing now for the ElBraille, both when it originally came out a couple years ago and then with the updates, as well. And in the past few days I’ve been looking at the Focus 40 Braille Display, as well, so that I can at least know what I’m talking about. Now, you need new documentation when you get a unit like this so that you can go step by step through everything.
LARRY: So for more detailed information, visit the FS home page. Visit the support menu. Look under support. You’ll see things like documentation and training and much more.
JOHN: And as you can hear from a lot of the things that we’ve talked about thus far, there’s a lot of good documentation coming out about the Focus 40 Display, as well as the ElBraille Notetaker. And again, you can come see these products available at CSUN. You can kick the, well, I was about to say “kick the tires,” but you really don’t want to kick this unit around. You can go to the booths. I’m sure that there’ll be many units there, and you can take a look at it and put your hands on it, play with it. And again, also at the conventions this summer, the NFB Convention in Houston and the CB Convention in Schaumburg, Illinois, right outside of Chicago. So a lot to look forward to this year, CSUN and the conventions, especially with the brand new ElBraille.
One of the many great things about this unit is that it’s portable, so very portable. You can go anywhere with it. And that means you have to depend a lot on the battery. Currently there’s about 15 to 17 hours of great battery life. Now, that figure can change a little bit if you have LTE enabled and are using it to do online-type things with texting and phoning and streaming. But the estimated battery life is between 15 and 17 hours.
And to find out and listen to some of the new specifications and some of the great things that are a part of this new release, we had a chance to talk to Adi Kushner, who was one of the key developers of the ElBraille product, and also to Ron Miller, who’s been with Freedom Scientific and Vispero for many, many years and really is one of the key experts in Braille products and Braille displays. And here’s what they had to say about the brand new ElBraille.
RON MILLER: So the ElBraille is a notetaker. It is very distinct because it’s a mainstream notetaker. It’s running Windows with JAWS, specifically Windows 10 with JAWS. So I like to think of it as a computer in notetaker clothing. And that is even more so today than it was when we first talked about the ElBraille.
ADI KUSHNER: Yes, I totally agree with Ron. The main point of ElBraille was, and still is, and will continue to always be, is to allow someone to enjoy the familiar and flexible notetaker form factor, the all-in-one braille keyboard and processor form factor. But instead of going and using proprietary platforms, always run mainstream, and mainstream only. And that applies both for the software, because we’re running Windows 10 and JAWS, and both for the hardware. We’re using mainstream Intel parts. I’ll talk about it later. We’re using the Freedom Scientific Focus Display, which are very known, and everything is modular. So this is one of the biggest advantages, in my opinion, of ElBraille versus other notetakers.
RON: So in the past, the original ElBraille line used a PC Stick, an Intel PC Stick; right, Adi?
ADI: Yes. The Intel PC Stick is a device in the form factor of flash drive, but slightly larger, that contained a tiny PC board and had specs that are equivalent to a very mid-range Windows tablet, back at the time. So we were talking about slower Atom processors from Intel. We’re talking low amounts of memory. Two gigabytes was the maximum. And we’re talking low amounts of internal flash storage. It was only a 32-gig C drive, a 32-gig program drive.
RON: This is where things get really exciting. This is where the changes that are made to the new unit are so very exciting; wouldn’t you say?
ADI: Yes, they are exciting. In fact, what we’ve done with the new unit is a complete makeover. So to summarize the most big changes, we have optimized the unit for the fifth generation Focus 40 Blue Display. It’s a 40-cell only for now. And we have gone back to the dock style. So the previous ElBraille 40, for those of you who know it, cannot be undocked. It was all a single unit after it got upgraded from the standard Focus. So now it can be docked and undocked again with a very easy handle and mechanism to do that. And we are now officially partnering with Intel, and this device has been certified by Intel to run on their platforms of what they call “integrated computing.”
RON: So the ElBraille has been certified; right?
ADI: Yes. The ElBraille has been fully certified by Intel and developed in full partnership with Intel engineers. So what does this mean? Whenever Intel releases a new platform for what they call “integrated computing,” which means small computer modules in a very small form factor, we are going to be the first to jump on the game and operate our device. Right now our device is powered by Intel’s current platform for this form factor, called the Intel Compute Card. In fact, we are the first manufacturer, even in the mainstream place, that releases a device to the market on the Compute Card.
RON: I think that’s huge. That’s significant. We’re the first manufacturer, either in access technology manufacture or a mainstream manufacturer, that’s been certified by Intel?
ADI: Yes. The Compute Card, for people to understand, is a very small credit card-sized PC module that contains everything. That means the chipset, the CPU, networking equipment, and hard drives. So we’ve gone from an Atom processor to a Core i5 processor now, so it should be a very fast chip for all tasks you want to do on your ElBraille. We’ve gone from two gigabytes of RAM to eight gigabytes of RAM, so that means four times more memory. And we’ve gone from a 32-gig eMMC flash drive, which was a very slow 32-gig small storage chip, to a 128-gigabyte, very fast SSD in what’s called “PCIe” form factor. So it’s a very fast SSD drive, and we have four times of storage with that. Of course it can be also expanded with external SD cards. And instead of 256-gig maximum, we support two terabyte SD cards now.
In terms of the physical additions to the device, so in addition of it being a dockable unit now, we have added another USB3 port. So we now have two USB ports instead of one in the past. We have added a USB Type C port which is being used for charging the unit and for connecting the Focus Display that is docked to the unit to another PC without disconnecting it from the dock, for people who don’t want to do that. So we love the capability that we offered on the previous generation ElBraille 40 that switches your Focus Display to the ElBraille or the PC, because on that unit you cannot undock it. So we kept it on this one, as well, so that people can take advantage of that.
RON: So I can either connect to the Focus 40 Braille Display with an external PC – I just use the USB cable like I would just with the Braille Display; right?
ADI: Yes; correct.
RON: Or I can use it, internally connect it to the ElBraille itself. What’s nice is I can switch back and forth between something I might be connected to on the outside and to the ElBraille just with the push of a button.
ADI: Yes, because the focus now has the five Bluetooth connections. So imagine that you can work with your iPhone, your iPad, your standard PC at home, your ElBraille, all at the same time, and do different tests on each of them. Another thing that we have improved very much is the speakers. We now have two big good-sounding stereo speakers. So I hope that people will take advantage and really enjoy the sound quality, both in music/podcasts or whatever and in terms of JAWS speech. I think it really makes it good.
RON: Now, in earlier versions you had a couple of things that were proprietary to the ElBraille. Has that been expanded with the new version?
ADI: We still offer the ElBraille keyboard editor app, which allows you to customize the function keys on the top panel of the device to perform different actions or open different apps, depending on your liking. So we still keep that. We added one more function key, so we have more options. We still have the ElNotes app, which is being used for making text and voice notes with a very convenient way.
And soon to be released, tested in the U.S. yesterday and finally approved, is an app called ElPhone, which will be released at the same time that these new devices will be out, which will allow anyone who uses an ElBraille, both the old one and the current one, the new one, to send and receive text messages, which is very critical for deaf/blind people, in my opinion, and make and receive voice calls for those of you who really want it.
And another thing we have added, which is important to mention, the previous generation ElBraille did not have sleep and hibernation modes because the Compute Stick from Intel did not support that. This time we have full sleep and full hibernate support. So you can wake up your unit in seconds while you’re in an important meeting, let’s say if you need to shut it down quickly.
JOHN: Well, thank you, Adi Kushner and Ron Miller, for being with us on FSCast to talk about the new ElBraille. And if you’d like to hear a podcast that is really the definitive podcast with a demonstration of the ElBraille, it was very accurate as of Episode #141, when Jonathan Mosen did it. And it’s still pretty accurate. But he at that time had the first innovation available. So things have changed. It’s a lot better now. But the basic concepts are the same. So if you’re just about ready to go get the ElBraille, this is an excellent podcast to listen to in which Jonathan spends a lot of time demonstrating the ElBraille and talking about using the Focus Display, as well. Again, that’s FSCast #141.
And once I feel more comfortable with the ElBraille, I would love to do some more features on some of the newer aspects that weren’t available when Jonathan did his podcast in 2017. So we’ll see how that goes in the coming months. And how do you find that podcast from Jonathan Mosen in #141? You go to the Freedom Scientific website, FreedomScientific.com, and look for the FSCast link. Press ENTER, and you should see archived pages. Matter of fact, there’s a link called Archives, and it’ll take you back to previous FSCast podcasts.
And a reminder that if you’d like to contact us here at FSCast, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, V I S P E R O. And if you do that, make sure you leave your email address and phone number if you need us to call you back for whatever reason. You can also call us on the Listener Line, and that’s area code (727) 803-8000 and extension 1010.
LARRY: Well, that’ll about do it for FSCast 181. Join us, remember, next time for FSCast and also be aware about CSUN coming up. If you’re there, please come up and say hello. And also the great updates for JAWS, Fusion, and ZoomText coming up in March. So a lot to look forward to. Thanks so much for being a part of the show. Thanks for all that you do to contribute. And we will join you next time very soon on FSCast.