Archive for February, 2009

Internet RadioFan appears to be accessible

February 5, 2009

Today I checked out the application Internet RadioFan from the web site “Giveaway of the Day – free licensed software daily” at the URL http://www.giveawayoftheday.com/. I was pleased to find that it seems to be completely accessible with JAWS.

According to the web site:

“The program Internet RadioFan allows you to listen to online radio and watch TV broadcasts on the Internet. All the radio and TV stations are grouped by country while the description of each channel contains the name of the city from which the broadcast originates and the style or genre of the given station.”

The direct URL for Internet RadioFan is http://www.zazsoft.com/.

I downloaded Internet RadioFan and was listening to a radio station and then a TV station in just a matter of minutes. It seemed completely accessible with JAWS. I still haven’t checked out any of the advanced features, such as setting presets, but I was able to arrow and tab around the screen, move up and down the lists of TV and radio stations and bring up the TV or radio station I wanted to listen to. Another must for me, is that Internet RadioFan allows you to set it’s volume independently of the system’s or JFW’s volume. I know we have other choices, which seem like they might have a larger selection, but Internet RadioFan seems like a keeper to me.

I didn’t see the price in US dollars right off, but it’ll be free from Giveaway of the Day until 2PM US central time.

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Audio Comparer seems to be accessible, for the most part

February 1, 2009

Today I checked out the application Audio Comparer from the web site “Giveaway of the Day – free licensed software daily” at the URL http://www.giveawayoftheday.com/. Although I wasn’t sure how useful I would find this software, I decided to check it out. It seems to be accessible, for the most part, but it doesn’t seem like I personally will find it very useful.

According to the web site:

“Audio Comparer will listen to your entire audio collection and then will be able to quickly locate duplicates and similar audio files based on their sound, not tags. The program will estimate duplicate songs’ quality and advise you which ones are better to keep and which to delete.”

The direct URL for Audio Comparer is http://audiocomparer.com/.

I downloaded the application, and I was able to successfully kick off a comparison of the music on my system. Everything was quite accessible, except there were a few unlabelled buttons. they were in the usual places, such as the browse button when you’re adding directories to the list of directories that should be compared, so it wasn’t hard to figure out what the buttons should do.

When the compare was complete, a pair of boxes come up. One box has the list of all of the tracks that were compared. This is the box that has focus, and as you move up and down the list, information on the track fills the screen. This information can be gotten to by using the JFW cursor. There’s another box that lists the results of the comparison. On my system this was blank. I’m not sure if this is because I still needed to do something or because I didn’t have any duplicate tracks. I suspect the later, since I manage the music I put on my system pretty carefully. I couldn’t get the focus over to this box using the keyboard or the JAWS cursor, but maybe this is because the box was empty. I tried to check the documentation, but there isn’t any documentation for this software yet.

I think this application could be quite handy for those people who have a larger or more dynamic music collection than I do. I also suspect that, although it won’t be totally accessible, it’ll be quite usable for a blind computer user. For my part, I don’t see much need for this application, so I’ll be using Revo Uninstaller from http://www.revouninstaller.com/ to remove Audio Comparer from my PC.

Why I didn’t sign the Video Description Petition

February 1, 2009

I saw a request on VICUG-L, the Visually Impaired Computer User Group List, to sign a petition “asking  Disney to include an audio description track on their movies released on  DVD.” The petition is titled “Video Description” and it’s hosted by PetitionOnline.com at http://www.PetitionOnline.com/dvddvs/.

Although I agree with the intent of the petition, namely to have Disney include video description on their DVD’s, I felt that the petition overstated it’s point. I realize that a strong case has to be made if Disney and other companies are going to listen to such a petition, but I don’t agree with a statement like “We [blind] cannot enjoy movies if the movies do not have video description tracks.” I enjoyed plenty of movies before I even heard of described video, and I may still enjoy a movie today that doesn’t have described video.

I recently discovered the site “Blind Mice Movie Vault” at http://www.blindmicemart.com/assets/product_images/movies2.html, which is a collection of MP3 files each containing the sound track of a movie with described video. This is the first time I’ve done more than watch the occasional movie with described video, and I’m finding that described video does make the movie more enjoyable. I’ve listened to movies I’ve seen several times before, and although I always enjoyed them in the past, I realized that with the described video, I’m picking up on things I never noticed before including video cues that help flush out the plot.

I’ve also realized that video description is an art form in itself. Although almost all of the video description I’ve come across is professional and competent, there is some video description that is better than others. I also feel that not every movie lends itself to video description, or said another way, adding video description to a movie where the beautiful panoramic scenes are the major appeal of the movie probably isn’t going to make the movie enjoyable enough for me to want to listen to it. Granted listening to a description of the beautiful scenery or the action scenes with all of the special effects is better than not getting any description at all, but when there’s more described video than there is dialog it becomes more of an exercise in dramatic reading than a movie.

Getting back to the petition, I also have a small issue with the statement “If you wonder if video description tracks are really necessary to understand what is happening, consider watching one of the Disney movies with your eyes shut. There are so many details that are conveyed visually, but not audibly, that it is impossible to understand what is going on at any given moment, much less understand the entire plot.” As stated above, I don’t think it’s true that “it is impossible to understand what is going on at any given moment, much less understand the entire plot” when you listen to a movie without described video. There are plenty of movies where I thought I followed the plot just fine and even had to explain it to my sighted friends. The issue I wanted to point out though is that asking a sighted person to close his eyes and imagine what it is like to be blind, isn’t the same thing as being blind. When I watch a movie, I have years of experience listening for audio clues to help fill in the blanks created by the absence of the video. A sighted person has no such experience, and can’t help but be left with a feeling of helplessness. Although this plays well when soliciting sympathy for a fund raiser or a petition like this, I can’t help but feel it also does a bit of harm by furthering the notion that the blind are lost without video descriptions and help from the sighted.

Like I said, I want the petition to succeed, and I would have signed it myself if it had been worded a bit differently, and I didn’t feel it conveyed the notion that the blind cannot watch TV or movies at all without described video.

By the way,    VICUG-L is the Visually Impaired Computer User Group List. Archived on the World Wide Web at http://listserv.icors.org/archives/vicug-l.html. You can subscribe by sending a blank email to vicug-l-subscribe-request@listserv.icors.org.