Friday Finds for June 2 26 017
The start of each article is marked with an asterisk. Using the find/replace feature of your word processor, type in the asterisk (shift plus numeral eight) then hit enter to jump between articles.
1 Announcing NVDA 2017.2 Release
2 Switching from Window Eyes to NVDA
3 How can you use Be My Eyes
4 Computer Tech101
5 Omoton Bluetooth keyboard
6 Tactile, first ever affordable device that immediately translates printed text into Braille
7 19 Best Windows 10 Tips and Tricks You Should Know
8 The Difference Between MP3, AAC, FLAC and Other Audio Formats
9 Lizards random tidbits
10 Resource Handbooks Available from Christine Chaikin of Insightful Publications
11 Amazon Accessibility phone numberAmazon Accessibility phone number
12 How to make it Known That There is an Accessibility Problem With an App
Articles start next
*1) Announcing NVDA 2017.2 Release
For more detailed reding on each specific new feature or change, please visit the link below and visit that link addressing the specific area you are interested in.
You can move quickl between sections of this article by searching for the greater-than sign that is found at the start of each section.
The greater-than sign is made by pressing shift along with the period.
Use enter this in the search string of find with your word processor.
>I. Highlights of this release include full support for audio ducking in the Windows 10 Creators Update; fixes for several selection issues in browse mode, including problems with select all; significant improvements in Microsoft Edge support; and improvements on the web such as indication of elements marked as current (using aria-current).
Cell border information can now be reported in Microsoft Excel by using NVDA+f. (
In web browsers, NVDA now indicates when an element has been marked as current (specifically, using the aria-current attribute). (
Automatic language switching is now supported in Microsoft Edge. (
Added support for Windows Calculator on Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB (Long-Term Servicing Branch) and Server. (
New language: Burmese.
Unicode up and down arrows and fraction symbols are now spoken appropriately. (
When navigating with simple review in applications using UI Automation, more extraneous objects are now ignored, making navigation easier.
Web page menu items can now be activated while in browse mode.
Pressing escape while the configuration profile “Confirm Deletion” dialog is active now dismisses the dialog.
Fixed some crashes in Mozilla Firefox and other Gecko applications where the multi-process feature is enabled.
Reporting of background color in screen review is now more accurate when text was drawn with a transparent background.
Improved support for control descriptions provided on web pages in Internet Explorer 11 (specifically, support for aria-describedby within iframes and when multiple IDs are provided).
In the Windows 10 Creators Update, NVDA’s audio ducking again works as in previous Windows releases; i.e. Duck with speech and sounds, always duck and no ducking are all available.
NVDA will no longer fail to navigate to or report certain (UIA) controls where a keyboard shortcut is not defined.
Two empty spaces are no longer added in keyboard shortcut information for certain (UIA) controls.
Certain combinations of keys on HIMS displays (e.g. space+dot4) no longer fail intermittently.
Fixed an issue when opening a serial port on systems using certain languages other than English which caused connecting to braille displays to fail in some cases.
Reduced the chance of the configuration file being corrupted when Windows shuts down. Configuration files are now written to a temporary file before replacing the actual configuration file.
When performing the read current line command twice quickly to spell the line, the appropriate language is now used for the spelled characters.
Navigating by line in Microsoft Edge is now up to three times faster in the Windows 10 Creators Update.
NVDA no longer announces “Web Runtime grouping” when focusing Microsoft Edge documents in the Windows 10 Creators Update.
All existing versions of SecureCRT are now supported.
Adobe Acrobat Reader no longer crashes in certain PDF documents (specifically, those containing empty ActualText attributes).
In browse mode in Microsoft Edge, interactive tables (ARIA grids) are no longer skipped when navigating to tables with t and shift+t.
In browse mode, pressing shift+home after selecting forward now unselects to the beginning of the line as expected.
In browse mode, select all (control+a) no longer fails to select all text if the caret is not at the start of the text.
Fixed some other rare selection problems in browse mode.
>III. Changes for Developers
Commandline arguments are now processed with Python’s argparse module, rather than optparse. This allows certain options such as -r and -q to be handled exclusively.
core.callLater now queues the callback to NVDA’s main queue after the given delay, rather than waking the core and executing it directly. This stops possible freezes due to the core accidentally going to sleep after processing a callback, in the midle of a modal call such as the desplaying of a message box.
The InputGesture.identifiers property has been changed so that it is no longer normalized.
Subclasses no longer need to normalize identifiers before returning them from this property.
If you want normalized identifiers, there is now an InputGesture.normalizedIdentifiers property which normalizes the identifiers returned by the identifiers property .
The InputGesture.logIdentifier property is now deprecated. Callers should use InputGesture.identifie rs instead.
Removed some deprecated code:
`speech.REASON_*` constants: `controlTypes.REASON_*` should be used instead
`i18nName` for synth settings: `displayName` and `displayNameWithAccelerator` should be used instead.
`config.save`: `config.conf.save` should be used instead.
The list of completions in the autocomplete context menu of the Python Console no longer shows any object path leading up to the final symbol being completed.
There is now a unit testing framework for NVDA.
Unit tests and infrastructure are located in the tests/unit directory. See the docstring in the tests\unit\init.py file for details.
You can run tests using “scons tests”. See the “Running Tests” section of readme.md for details.
If you are submitting a pull request for NVDA, you should first run the tests and ensure they pass.
*2) Switching from Window Eyes to NVDA
nvaccess/nvda-community Wiki · GitHub
Moving from Window-eyes to NVDA A very short tutorial telling you just what you need to know to do a lot of what you did before.
Author: Gene Asner
Few words from the author
First, a word about using the tutorial. I explain concepts in the tutorial but much of what I do is to give commands that are different in NVDA. As I explain, a lot of what you do won’t change but certain things will require different commands.
To use this tutorial effectively, practicing many commands I give might be very useful. For example, when I give screen review commands, stopping reading and practicing in this document might help you remember and learn them. When I describe input help, turning it on and trying different keys and combinations of keys might be helpful. You will find, for example, that the screen review commands I give are announced when you have key describer on and issue the commands. That will help you review quickly and efficiently if you for get any of them, something that is far more likely to occur in the laptop layout than the desktop layout. Now that I’ve suggested ways to use it effectively, the tutorial begins.
Many people are apprehensive about switching to NVDA or any other screen-reader from Window-eyes. This tutorial will explain and demonstrate that such apprehensions are largely based on misunderstandings.
Before I discuss the misunderstanding that causes most of this apprehension, I’ll briefly discuss installing NVDA and changing the synthesizer used and speech parameters.
NVDA has a talking installer. run the file as you would any installation file. you may get a dialog asking if you want to run the file. Use the command alt r for run. If you get a UAC prompt, answer alt y.
Run narrator. Then run the NVDA installer. when you run the installer, there will be a pause and then a bit of music will play. Not long after, the talking installer will run. Unload Narrator at that point. return to the install dialog.
Tab through the choices. Accept the license agreement and then tab to install. You will get other options but install is the one you want.
Don’t stop using NVDA because of the voice. A lot of people don’t try NVDA because of the voice. As soon as you get it set up, I’ll tell you how to change the synthesizer used.
When NVDA is installed and running, a dialog box comes up with some explanatory text and the ability to set one or two options. While I know a lot of people very much dislike the default voice, it’s worth listening to the dialog and looking at the settings by tabbing through them.
I would recommend checking the check box to use caps lock as an NVDA modifier. You’ll see why I recommend this in later discussion.
Changing synthesizers and voice settings
After you go through the initial welcome dialog, it’s time to learn how to change the synthesizer. Issue the command control insert s. Use either insert. From now on, assume you can use either insert unless I state differently. A synthesizer selection dialog will open.
You will see a list of different possibly available synthesizers. Choose SAPI 5. I know everyone has at least one SAPI 5 voice on their machine. Up and down arrow through the list and stop on SAPI five. Press enter. You will now hear another voice. It may be the same voice you hear in Narrator.
Now issue the command control insert v. You are now in the voice selection and adjustment dialog. Up and down arrow to see what voices are available. Stop on the one you want. Now tab through the dialog and change settings for the voice. Once you find a voice you want and tab through and set whatever you want such as speed and punctuation, press the ok button.
Now, let’s continue with what I spoke of at the start of this tutorial. The misunderstanding that makes the switch to NVDA from Window-eyes or from any other screen-reader seem daunting is that the user doesn’t realize that most of the commands he/she uses are Windows commands and program commands and they won’t change.
Consider the following examples:
Opening menus was and still is alt. That’s a Windows command to open menus in programs. It’s the same no matter which screen-reader you use.
Control o for open doesn’t change.
Using the arrow keys to move in a document doesn’t change.
Tabbing through dialogs doesn’t change. Neither does how you move in a list or a tree view or work with a combo box, and the list goes on.
Screen-reader commands, many of which may change, such as read title bar, provide access to information you can’t get or can’t get conveniently by using Windows or program commands.
for example, read title bar. In Window-eyes, the command is control shift t. In NVDA, it’s insert t. The title bar is something a sighted person looks at. You can’t move to it with the pc cursor or application cursor, whatever you wish to call it, because there is no need. A sighted person can just see it. So the screen-reader has a command, read title bar. That command is not a Windows nor a program command.
Here are the screen-reader commands you will need to know to allow you to do a lot of what you did before with Window-Eyes:
To unload NVDA, insert q then enter.
Read title bar, insert t.
Time, insert f12.
Announce formatting information, insert f.
Read current Window, insert b. In Window-eyes the command is control shift w.
Read to end, insert down arrow. Use the down arrow on the main keyboard. In the laptop layout, read to end is NVDA key a.
Stop speech with control, as with screen-readers in general.
I’m about to discuss screen-review commands. those let you review the screen without changing the position of the cursor when editing a document, or changing where you are in a dialog or anywhere else. But first, I’ll point out that Commands such as left arrow, right arrow, control home, control end, control left arrow, and control right arrow are Windows movement commands for moving in any standard edit field including word processor edit fields. None of them will change.
Screen review commands
Note the pattern as I give these commands:
Read previous line, numpad 7.
Read current line, numpad 8.
Read next line, numpad nine.
You move in screen review to the previous or next line when you issue those commands. You can keep moving and reading until you get to the top or bottom of the screen.
Read previous word, numpad 4.
Read current word, numpad 5.
Read next word, numpad 6.
Read previous character, numpad 1.
Read current character, numpad 2.
Read next character, numpad 3.
Note the pattern:
Read current is the key in the middle of each of these rows.
Move to and read previous is the key on the left.
Move to and read next is the key to the right.
The lower the numbers, the smaller the movement unit. 1 2 and 3 move by character. 4 5 and 6 move by word, etc.
Now, here are the laptop layout review commands:
Read current line, NVDA shift period
Move to and read next line, NVDA down arrow.
Move to and read previous line, NVDA up arrow.
Read current word, NVDA control period
Read previous word, NVDA control left arrow
Read next word, NVDA control right arrow
Announce current character, NVDA period.
Move to and read previous character, NVDA left arrow
Move to and read next character, NVDA right arrow.
After a little more discussion, I’ll tell you how to change the keyboard layout to laptop.
Getting back to the review keys in the laptop layout, There are sort of patterns in the laptop layout but not the kind of uniform pattern as in the desktop layout. If I had a laptop computer without a numpad, I’d buy a USB numpad and not fool around with the laptop layout. But you can decide that for yourself. But aside from predictable keys such as that period is used for current, and that left and right arrows are used with modifiers, you can’t generalize more. Such patterns are not followed in every previous and next item. In one of the previous and next items, up and down arrow is used.
More review commands and review modes
Here are two more important commands:
Jump to top of window, shift numpad 7. Laptop layout command: control NVDA key home.
Jump to bottom of window, shift numpad 9. Laptop layout command: Control NVDA key end.
I’ve said top and bottom of Window but that’s oversimplified. It depends what kind of review mode you are using. I won’t go into that to any extent in this very short tutorial.
A brief introduction to review modes
If you are reviewing material in a word processor, use the review commands I’ve given. If you are in a dialog or some other structures, in order to see what is on screen, change to screen review mode. to do this, use the command numpad insert numpad 7 in the desktop layout. In the laptop layout, the command is NVDA key page up. Issue the command and repeat it if necessary until you hear screen review. Then you can use the review commands such as numpad 7, 8 9, etc. to review what is on screen.
After you have finished working in screen review, it is very important to return to object review. Issue the command numpad insert numpad one in the desktop layout. the laptop layout command is NVDA Key page down. Repeat the command if necessary until you hear object review. If you don’t do this, you will often hear incorrect information about where you are when you do various things in NVDA.
Changing keyboard layout
I shall now explain how to change the layout from the desktop to the laptop layout and discuss causing the caps lock to be used as an NVDA key. If you add capslock, you can still use either insert; there are times when caps lock is very convenient.
to open keyboard settings, issue the command control insert k. You are now in a list of layouts. the desktop is the default and the first in the list. If you want to switch to the laptop layout, down arrow once and then tab to and activate the ok button.
As you tab, you will notice check boxes about which keys serve as the NVDA key. Caps lock is not checked. Check it with the space bar. You can stay in the desk top layout and still tab and see these check boxes.
I use the caps lock key as an NVDA key often and I use the desktop layout. I find it much more convenient to use for the read to end command. I hold caps lock and press down arrow. That is, to me, much more convenient than using insert down arrow, regardless of which insert I use.
If you want to toggle caps lock on and off for typing, press it twice quickly. If you press it once and hold it, it serves as an NVDA key. If you press it twice quickly, it toggles caps lock on and off.
Mouse commands and review modes
To left click with the mouse, route the mouse to the review position with the command numpad insert numpad slash. That is the same command you left click wwith in Window-eyes. If you want to right click, route the mouse with the same command (numpad insert numpad slash), then use numpad star, the key immediately to the right of numpad slash. In other words, you right click with the same key you use in Window-eyes.
Screen review, though the commands are different, is similar in concept to using the mouse pointer in Window-eyes. Object navigation is different from any review mode in Window-eyes. I won’t teach its use here but you will find a discussion of it in a tutorial I will give an address for later in this tutorial. Depending on how you use your computer, you may find it very useful.
That is just about all I will teach in this very short tutorial about screen review and mouse. As I said, its purpose is to allow you to do much of what you do with Window-eyes quickly and easily. But I’ll tell you a few more things.
When you are on a web page, quick navigation commands are almost identical whether you are using NVDA or Window-eyes:
Move by headings is h.
Skip blocks of links is n.
Move to next button is b.
Next combo box is c.
Next check box is x.
Input help mode
NVDA has an input help mode which is similar to what is in Window-eyes. Insert and 1 on the main keyboard turns it on. When you press a key or combination of keys that might be a command, you will hear what the keys are and what, if any command they execute. This varies depending on where you are.
When in a browser that supports browse mode, typing a lot of individual letters will give you information about what the keys do in browse mode. I already gave much of that information above but you may want to press a lot of keys using input mode in a browser. To turn input mode off use the same command you used to turn it on, insert 1.
To learn more about NVDA, a popular tutorial is available at:
On that page, you will see links to download different sections of the tutorial dealing with different subjects. You can also download the entire tutorial as a zip file.
There is also an e-mail list for NVDA users. To join, send a blank message to this address:
I hope that this tutorial has removed much of your apprehension about switching to NVDA. Now, as you wish or need, you may consult the tutorial I gave a link to. NVDA is a powerful screen-reader and it will meet a lot of users needs as well as JAWS or Window-eyes does. I hope this very short tutorial gives you a good foundation on which to build confidence that the transition should be much easier than you may have thought and that it will help make it much more enjoyable.
*3) How can you use Be My Eyes?
There are many situations where a pair of friendly eyes can be helpful for those with visual impairments, and Be My Eyes is used to solve a wide range of daily tasks – no request is too big or too small! You can request help 24/7, as we connect you based on time zones and language – for example, if you speak English and is based in the US and need assistance in the middle of the night, then we will connect you to an English speaking helper in England, Australia or another country where it is daytime.
People are always coming up with creative ways to use Be My Eyes. The following list provides examples of some different ways that you can use the Be My Eyes app:
Finding lost items
Describing pictures, paintings or other artwork.
Matching or explaining colors
Reading labels on household products
Reading on computer screens if websites are inaccessible or screen readers are not available
Shopping in supermarkets and stores
Identifying the expiration date on perishable food packages
Familiarizing yourself with new locations
Distinguishing between products (Canned foods, shampoos, and soaps, spices etc.)
Determining if lights are turned on or off
Finding out when public transportation (busses, trains, etc.) are departing or arriving
Resolving electrical or technical issues
Right now there are over half a million sighted helpers in the Be My Eyes community who are ready and willing to assist you.
Remember that Be My Eyes is FREE no matter how much you use it.
*4) Computer Tech101
By Jim Morgan
First of all, I’d like to thank Karen, aka, Madam Editor, for helping out with last time’s column. It was a good idea and I’m appreciative of her thinking of it.
What I’d like to do is to expand just a little on what she wrote. In addition to sorting one’s Favorites in Internet Explorer, there is an additional way to group one’s Bookmarks.
What I’m talking about is using folders. This is really no different than using them anywhere else to group like items. For example, you can group together a particular Author’s books, in order to make it a little less cumbersome than looking at a long list and choosing what you want.
It’s a very simple procedure to add a folder. You simply choose Add Folder from the Favorites menu and then type in the name. After that, you can use Organize Favorites, from the same Favorites menu, to cut and paste Bookmarks into the appropriate place. Although Internet Explorer uses the term, and menu choice, Favorites, the Correct term, which Firefox uses, by the way, is BookMarks. I’m not sure why they’re called that but the term is correct.
Perhaps Microsoft just didn’t want to step on any Copyright toes or get sued again, like Apple tried to do back in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s or, maybe, they thought it would make things easier for users; I don’t know. In any case, they really are correctly termed Bookmarks.
I would recommend, when you’re finished, to sort the entries as Karen described last time so that things will be in the right order instead of the order in which they were entered.
After you’re done with this, when you access The Favorites Menu, just choose the folder in question and it will show a sub-menu of the Bookmarks in it. I would, however, suggest that you use folders when you have 2 or more items of like type. For example, I have a folder set up for Amazon that has the main Amazon site, the Screen Reader version, and Amazon Smile in it. Because you can get to a folder or Bookmark by hitting the first letter, I just hit the letter A and then using the arrow keys select the one I want.
It’s up to you how you group things together. I would recommend trying to be as unique as possible when choosing folder names so that it doesn’t get confusing later.
Just for thoroughness’ sake, there is one other way to add folders, edit Bookmarks, and place already set up Bookmarks in folders. You can use the Windows Explorer. Under the Folder Documents and Settings, there is a folder that has all the defaults you use in Windows. This folder may be “All Users”, “Default User”, or whatever name you log in with when starting Windows. On my computer, it’s my first name. One thing I’ve noticed is that when I enter the Windows Explorer it goes to the Start menu folder and I then just have to Up-Arrow a few times to get to the correct folder. Under the folder where your defaults are, is a folder called “Favorites”. In this folder are ALL your Bookmarks and any folders you’ve set up. Just as with any other files, you can rename, cut and paste, edit and delete, etc. I find this easier to do if I’m moving a bunch of files around or renaming some things.
As with everything else, it’s up to you which way to go about it; there’s no one right way. However, I would recommend, as I did above, that you do a Sort when you’re done so that things will be where you expect them to be.
Anyway, my thanks again to Karen and I hope you found this “expansion” helpful. Should you have further questions about this or general questions, please feel free to E-mail me at my address above. I will always reply to a message, even if it’s to say that I don’t know the answer. Happy Computing!
*5) Omoton Bluetooth keyboard
By Cheryl Spencer
well, back to the techy stuff. I attended our last I Access meeting a couple of weeks ago and part of the meeting consist of a show and tell session. This is when we all take turns asking a question, sharing a tip or trick, or showing off a new gadget or toy we have acquired.
This brings me to the spotlight gadget of the month. it is a taDaaaa, an Omoton Bluetooth keyboard. I hear you, what’s ALL THE FUSS? Well, this keyboard is lightweight, sexy, slim and has a tactile on off switch. There is also a pairing button you can actually feel. It works well with iDevices and will pair up with other devices as well. Another thing I especially like is that it takes 2 triple A batteries as opposed to having to be recharged.
So, I can still hear you muttering, well, big deal, and that brings me to the big deal. Yes, it is a big deal, the price is what I call a deal! On Amazon, it has a $13.99 price tag. I couldn’t pass on a deal like that so I ordered one for myself and have since ordered a few more to give as gifts. I highly recommend it!
I have had other keyboards, but found it difficult to turn them on and off. However, with this one I just push the switch on and off. I love this keyboard!
*6) Tactile, first ever affordable device that immediately translates printed text into Braille
The Braille Highway
By Nat Armeni
Hello and welcome to the June article. It totally blows me away the creative, innovated, and determined mines some college students have. This article is about six such undergrad students from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
These six engineering students, all women, Participated in the 15-hour long MakeMIT Hackathon event last February. Their motivating team name was Team 100% Enthusiasm. Well they certainly needed that enthusiasm in order to get them to submit their working gadget in on time.
Through all the changes of deciding what to create, and the problems with the different components needed to produce their prototype, they persevered. These young women had just created the first ever affordable device that immediately translates printed text into Braille. They called it Tactile, and they won first prize. Now, isn’t that something!
*Approximately 1.3 million Americans are legally blind, though millions more live with a visual disability. *At the end of 2015, an estimated 61,739 students were reported as legally blind. *Globally, 39 million people are blind and 246 million have low vision. *Only about an estimated 10% of blind children learn braille. *Up to 70% of blind people are unemployed.
One more interesting fact; 80 percent of blind people who are employed have something in common: They can all read Braille.
Even though these sound like large numbers, the blind community is relatively small. And, unfortunately assistive devices for the blind are pricey, since there is not a high demand. In addition, braille displays have not changed much throughout the last thirty years.
These women wanted to create something that would be life changing for the blind community. In their brief time of research, they were astonished to learn how much braille devices cost, from /$3,500 up to $15,000. Their minds were set on making an affordable, life changing device for the blind community.
Now, over a year later, the women refer to themselves as Team Tactile. They are making strides with their invention in terms of accessibility. Tactile is proposed to be the size of a candy bar with 36 cells, and to sell for an estimated price of $100.00!
Here’s how it works:
*Slide the device over printed text (a book, menu, or even a packaging label). *The camera captures images of the words and sends them to a microcontroller, which then performs text recognition. *then that information, via an electromagnetic activation mechanism, moves the pins up and down at the top of the device, translating the text into Braille. *The Braille characters physically refresh as they scroll through sections of text.
Team Tactile members are: Chandani Doshi, Jialin Shi, Bonnie Wang, Charlene Xia, Tania Yu and Grace Li.
These women are not only trying to help the blind community but they want to be an inspiration for young girls. Their message is if you are interested in engineering or science, go for it!
Remember to stay on the dotted line of life. If you would like to contact me, do so at my email address located above. Keep safe, and I’ll will speak with you again in July!
*7) 19 Best Windows 10 Tips and Tricks YYou Should Know
It has just been over a year and a half since Windows 10 was officially launched. And if you look at the technical evolution, Windows has changed tremendously and it has done so rather beautifully. Now we have a whole different level of features which are not only brilliant but equally flexible (from a longtime Windows user’s perspective, of course).
Windows 10 Tips & Tricks
It’s not essential that we know all the tricks that a particular tool has in its arsenal. Knowing the few important ones is all one needs for a smoother experience .
Features — big or small — play a big role in enhancing productivity . And while it was an arduous task of picking and testing them, we have done it and filed it. Phew!
Though you might know some of these, why take the chance of not going through this entire article and missing out on some cool ones, right? Let’s jump in.
Ads by Google
- Dark Theme
The Windows dark theme comes in a time when most of us were bored of the ordinary look (read ancient). Initially, the darker theme could be enabled only through the registry , but now it can be achieved with just a few clicks.
Windows 10 Dark Theme
Head over to the Settings > Personalisation > Colours, scroll down and choose Dark as the app mode.
The dark mode would appear mostly in the settings window, though. But explore the other features of this mode and you might end up with a very different looking desktop.
- Resize & Unpin Tiles
I love the start menu tiles since the time when they were first launched, providing me with useful insights into the weather, mail snippets, news, Twitter feed, etc. In order to get the most out of it, this particular section can be customized to your utmost satisfaction.
Windows 10 Tile
For instance, if you want your favorite tile to occupy a much wider berth, right-click on it and choose the resize option. Similarly, for removing right-click and select Unpin from Start.
Speaking of weather, did you know that just pressing Win+S will show you the weather and news? You know it now.
- Start Menu Customization
One of the best things about customization is that it lets you achieve a unique look and Windows isn’t far behind.
The start menu can be customized in many ways. Right from displaying the recently added apps to the frequently used apps, all these can be turned off/on depending on your choice.
Windows 10 Start Menu
You can also opt to have a full-screen display of the start menu in all its glory through the Use start full screen option.
Plus, if you want to get your hands on a sleek start menu, you can start by removing all the tiles and resizing it.
- Alternate Start Menu
Surely, you must be knowing that you can right-click on the start button to access the Power User Menu, but what if you need it real quick?
Just hit Win + X and the menu will pop up. The menu holds a lot of useful apps in its quiver, like Command Prompt, Control Panel, Mobility center, etc. And if you will be using the keys to go around, the up/down keys should do the trick.
Power User Menu
Another nifty trick to open the tools swiftly is to just press the underlined letter. For instance, hitting P would open the Control Panel.
- Snap Windows
An impressive feature for the multi-tasker in you. This feature lets you snap the current window to one side and simultaneously open the second one on the other side. Just press Win and right/left arrow key. What’s more, you can just scroll through the windows sans the clicks.
Speaking of multitasking, here’s a quick approach to open the pinned apps,
Win + 1 — first app
Win + 2 — second app, and so on.
- The Cortana Search
Cortana, the Windows personal assistant is a powerful aide that can be compared to the likes of Siri or Google Now.
“Microsoft’s voice-activated virtual assistant is more than just a direct link to Bing (or whatever search engine you’ve got her to use) — she’s, well, an assistant.”, writes CNET about this wonderful assistant.
And while she can do almost anything right from singing songs (bet you didn’t know that) to setting reminders, you can also customize the way Cortana operates. Whether it’s the type of cards that you want to see or the data that Cortana accesses, there’s a whole bunch of things hiding beneath the notebook icon.
Windows 10 Cortana Sing Windows 10 Cortana Define
Plus, Cortana handles most of the natural language commands seamlessly and while I did face an issue of Siri understanding my accent, Cortana just wowed me.
Cool Tip: Cortana has a useful built-in dictionary. So if you want to test her skills, type define followed by the word and the meaning will appear instantly.
- Quick Access Files and Folders from File Explorer
One of the features that I was desperately waiting for and finally, Windows 10 answered my prayers. I find it feasible to have quick access to the recently used folders, but we are humans and we have a great reputation of not thinking alike.
Windows 10 quick access
So for those who would NOT like to have an open display of their recently accessed files & folders, there’s quite an easy trick to hide them.
Head over to the file explorer and click on View > Options and uncheck the privacy checkboxes. The file explorer will switch to the My PC look.
Discover four unique ways in which you can lock files and folders in Windows 10 natively.
- Virtual Desktops
Task View, known popularly as Virtual desktops (VD), was added as a mainstream feature in Windows 10 and trust me, VDs can boost the productivity levels. In simple words, you get to have a number of desktops on your system.
Windows 10 Virtual Desktop
There are a lot third party apps that let you have VDs, but a native one surely beats the odds when it comes to stability and accessibility. The choice is yours as to how you would utilize this space. For starters, you can have a work desktop and an entertainment hub.
Keyboard shortcuts for VD,
Open TaskView – Win + Tab
New Desktop – Win + Ctrl + D
Close the current desktop – Win + Ctrl + F4
Scroll through VDs – Win + Ctrl + right/left
- Command Prompt Shortcuts
The previous versions of Command Prompt did a pro-level job of testing your patience. With Windows 10, it’s quite a breeze as it lets you to use a number of shortcuts in an effortless way.
Keyboard shortcuts for Command Prompt
Ctrl + C / V /A – Copy, Paste , Select All
Shift + Page Up / Page Down
Ctrl + Right/ Left arrow – Text browsing, etc.
- Annotating in Edge & Calendar Sync.
We tend to mostly research online these days, ending up reading tons of articles. That also means getting lost in the sea of posts and not getting any meaningful work done. That’s when the annotation feature of Edge can come into great use.
It lets you annotate on a specific area of the webpage where you would like to add a note and save the same for later references.
Plus, Windows 10 not only has revamped the hideous calendar, you can now sync the core calendar app with any third-party calendars in a fairly easy process.
- Select Audio Source from the TaskBar
On Windows 10, the audio source selection process (if one can call it a process), is neat. It can be done right from the comfort of your current window.
Windows 10 Audio Source
Just click on the volume icon on the taskbar and select the appropriate source. And when you compare it to opening the Audio Properties window and then choosing the audio source, this seems like a cakewalk.
- Record your PC
Previously, capturing a screenshot or recording a screencast wasn’t possible without the use of third-party software. However, that’s not the case with Windows 10. All you have to do is press Win + G and you will be presented with a tiny window with all the necessary options.
Windows 10 Screen Record
Win + G+ PrntScr – Screenshot.
Win + Alt + R – Screen Recordings.
- Picture Passwords & PIN
Because conventional passwords are just so passé.
On a serious note, we all know the vulnerabilities traditional passwords pose. So, the new sign-in options seem to be an added bonus since it gives you an alternative choice of having a picture or PIN as passwords.
Windows 10 Passwords & Pins
And not just a plain picture, you will need to annotate over three points in the picture — these can be a circle, a stroke or a dot on any random area.
As pictures have far more characters, it’s much safer to use them as passwords, provided you don’t use obvious gestures in noticeable places (over the nose and ears).
- Block Suggestions/ Ads
Of all the possible places that Windows can advertise its products on, it chose the start menu. And if you find these suggestions bothersome, there’s a straightforward solution to block them out — once and for all.
Windows 10 adv
Head over to personalization in the settings menu and turn off the Occasionally show suggestions in Start option (under start) and stay Ad-free.
Speaking of ads, learn how to bypass Adblock detection on websites that literally bombard you with ads.
- Find my Device
Ever faced the exasperation of tracking a lost device or a silent phone? Well, Windows offers the choice from where one can track the last known location of a device . It works similar to Google’s Device manager.
Windows 10 Device
Compared to the phone tracking , the device search has its limitations. For now, only the last known location of a PC can be tracked and you won’t be able to wipe or lock your device.
- Filter Clipboard Contents in Command Prompt
Now that command prompt lets you copy-paste texts in a jiffy, chances are that you might end up copying stuff straight off from a browser.
And there are equal chances that those texts might have some special characters or an added tab. So what do you do with the unwanted content? Remove them manually? Naah, that’s too old.
Windows 10 CP filter
Well, there’s a nice little feature in the command prompt properties which automatically removes tabs and unsupported special characters from the copied text (when enabled).
- Choose Printers
The latest version of Windows allows the system to set any last used printer as the default one. It can be both a boon or a bane for some users. If this setting is an over-kill, head over to the printer settings and turn it off.
The system will no longer switch between different printers and will stick to the default one.
- Active Hour Updates
Windows 10 has come up with this amazing feature which lets you choose the time when you don’t want updates to be installed. It’s referred to as Active Hours and that’s enabled with the proper timings. Get ready to bid goodbye to untimely updates.
Windows 10 active hours
To set the active hours, head over to Settings > Update and security and click on active hours.
- Block Notifications
Windows PC almost never stops from enlightening you on every single thing, whether it’s a Java update that’s available or a new notification. And like me, if you are annoyed with this feature, there’s an easy way to turn it off.
Windows 10 Notifications
All you need to do is head over to Settings > System and Notifications and actions and turn it off.
*8) The Difference Between MP3, AAC, FLAC and Other Audio Formats
Author: Alexander Fox
23rd May 2017
With the “death” of MP3 greatly exaggerated, many folks have been wondering what the apparently superior format, AAC, is all about. But AAC isn’t the only format out there; there are plenty of other audio compression formats that are widely available.
Is MP3 Dead?
MP3 is the most popular audio format in the world. It’s hard to nail down exact statistics, but there’s a good chance that more devices support MP3 than any other audio format. The standard is far from dead. Rather, the patent on the technology has recently expired. Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits , the firm that managed licensing the patent for MP3, recently announced it would discontinue its patent licensing program and recommended users move to AAC. Some outlets took that to mean the MP3 was “dead.” In fact, the opposite is true: the MP3 format is now freely available to all.
How Does MP3 Work?
MP3, or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III, is a compression standard for encoding digital audio . It uses lossy data compression techniques that discard non-essential data to shrink the size of an audio file. When compared to audio files taken from a CD, an MP3 can shrink file sizes by as much as 95% , which is important for both bandwidth cost and storage considerations. The standard focuses on removing audio that’s outside the range of human hearing and implements principles of human sound perception, or “ psychoacoustics ,” to identify and discard sounds that the human ear won’t miss.
What About AAC?
AAC stands for Advanced Audio Coding. It’s a proprietary audio compression scheme with a lot in common with MP3. In fact, it was specifically designed to be the successor to the MP3 format, offering better sound quality than MP3 at the same bit rate. This means that AAC results in smaller file sizes while maintaining the same audio quality. It uses the same principles as MP3 for compression, discarding inaudible sounds and eliminating audio based on the psychoacoustic model.
Today, AACs are found as the audio component of the popular MPEG-4 video container. It’s also the default audio format for services like YouTube and widely supported by Apple and Sony. In contrast to MP3, however, the format is under patent and must be licensed to use legally.
How Do Lossless and Uncompressed Formats Fit In?
MP3 and AAC are both lossy formats, throwing away non-essential data to help reduce file size. Not all formats follow this principle, however. Lossless formats like FLAC or Windows Media Audio (WMA) compress audio using fully-reversible compression techniques shared with the ZIP algorithm. This shrinks file size while maintaining maximum quality. However, these formats are not as widely supported as lossy formats.
Audio doesn’t have to be compressed, however. Uncompressed formats like WAV and AIFF use pulse code modulation (PCM) to store data without alteration. Files encoded this way are larger but offer perfect reproduction and the greatest flexibility.
Are There Other Lossy Formats?
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A wide variety of different lossy formats exist, with varying degrees of popularity. Open-source formats like “Opus” use specialized techniques to offer superior quality when compared to AAC, but support is comparatively limited. Televisions and DVD players frequently use the Dolby AC-3 format for their audio. A wide variety of highly-compressed telephony formats like BroadVoice exist to support digital phone calls and voice-over-IP (VoIP) communications. A few dozen other formats exist to fullfill specific niche uses. But MP3 is more common than all these other formats combined.
AAC offers a better quality-to-compression ratio than MP3, but a lack of ubiquitous support has held it back. And now that MP3 is free for public use, it’s likely to maintain its position as the dominant lossy audio format in the years to come. I started reading about the “death” of the MP3 file format a few weeks ago. I don’t believe it will die anytime soon, but if you’re curious about the other audio file formats, as I was, here’s a good overview that’s not a very long read.
*9) Lizards random tidbits
The “terrible lizards” have fascinated people for as long as they have been digging the colossal bones out of the Earth. If you have ever seen a fossilized dinosaur skeleton assembled in a museum somewhere you can understand how the ancient Chinese thought they had discovered dragons!
Although there have probably been dinosaur discoveries dating back thousands of years — there are, for instance, references to “dragon bones” found in ancient China — the first documented dinosaur discovery took place in 1676 when a jawbone and teeth were unearthed in Oxford, England. In 1824, famed paleontologist William Buckland (1784-1856) finally named this first dinosaur Megalosaurus. Megalosaurus was a large meat-eater that stood up to
30 feet tall and weighed about 1 ton.
In 1877, a paleontologist named Othniel Charles Marsh (1831-1899) discovered a new species of dinosaur with he named Apatosaurus, meaning “deceptive lizard.” Two years later, he discovered what he believed to be another species of dinosaur. He named this one Brontosaurus, meaning “thunder lizard.” When later paleontologists examined the two fossils,however, they determined that both skeletons belonged to the same animal class, one being an adult and one being a juvenile.
Stegosaurus means “covered lizard” in Greek. This dinosaur had a double row of protective plates covering its back and tail. In addition to acting as a protective covering, these plates may have operated as a sort of cooling device — wind flowing between the plates would have helped lower the body temperature of a Stegosaurus on hot days.
The Argentinosaurus, an herbivorous sauropod and quite possibly the largest animal ever to walk the earth, is believed to have reached lengths of up to
150 feet and weighed as much as 110 tons. Only fragmentary remains have been discovered, but using their knowledge of related dinosaurs, scientists have been able to estimate the size of these specimens of Argentinosaurus.
The Brachiosaurus, a herbivore, used its giraffe-like neck to graze in the tops of trees. It is believed to have reached heights of up to 42 feet, lengths of 82 feet, and weights in excess of 90 tons. Once considered the largest known dinosaur, it has since been surpassed by the likes of Argintinosaurus and Sauroposeidon.
Dinosaurs are believed to have become extinct about 65 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period. We know of their existence today because of fossilized remains. It is impossible to know for sure what caused this sudden mass extinction, but the prevailing theory is that a massive meteor struck the earth about that time causing drastic climate changes and thus the extinction.
Resource Handbooks Available
Christine Chaikin of Insightful Publications has created 18 screen reader-friendly resource handbooks containing resources pertaining to the blind and visually impaired, for use by consumers and professionals. States available are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Texas.
Each state’s handbook is for the residents of those states, and includes the many organizations for the blind and visually impaired, covering areas such as employment, housing, transportation, and more. The books include contact information on the local, regional, and national levels.
For more information, contact Insightful Publications via e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at (808) 747-1006, or visit www.in-sightful.com
*11) Amazon Accessibility phone number
A Shopping Surprise
With all that’s going on at Amazon, sometimes it’s hard to remember that the company is first and foremost a retailer of everything from applesauce to toy zeppelins. The company has historically gone to great lengths to make the shopping experience accessible to their customers with visual impairments. Their main site makes excellent use of all the standard Windows controls that make screen reader navigation possible, but the page can admittedly be a bit busy with special sales and personalized recommendations, which is one of the reasons Amazon created an alternate “screen reader friendly” site. The company’s various accessibility initiatives are detailed and described on the Amazon Accessibility site.
Amazon Accessibility Hotline
Amazon, like Apple and Microsoft before them, has taken accessibility one step further with the launch of a dedicated hotline for customers with disabilities. The desktop site features a click-to-call link to the access hotline on its Help pages. You are asked for your phone number, and an agent familiar with screen readers returns your call. The iOS and Android apps do not yet include this link, but you can reach the hotline directly by calling 1-888-283-1678, 3 am-10 pm PST, 7 days a week.
Hotline agents have been trained in screen reader basics and can help support (or escalate, if needed) technical issues. Agents can also help customers find products, add items to a customer’s shopping cart, and provide support for the check-out process. They cannot perform the actual checkout, however.
The accessibility hotline is primarily focused on supporting retail-related issues, including orders, returns, and delivery. They may also be able to help with device-related questions, or refer you to reps in other departments who work with accessibility.
My own very first call to the hotline proved completely successful. A six-pack of lightweight cotton pants I had bought before showed available for repurchase, but the combo box to choose size seemed stuck on extra-large, and I needed medium. Thinking maybe the combo box wasn’t working correctly, I called the hotline and was told the other sizes were no longer available.
“Hold on a minute,” the rep continued, and in less than a minute he’d found the same pants from the same manufacturer, only packaged in packs of three pair instead of six. He placed two sets in my cart, and offered to stay on the line while I checked out.
How many times have you put something in your Amazon cart and then removed it because you couldn’t see the product image and didn’t know if those cereal bowls were bright or light green, or whether the blouse had a high or low neckline? These are just a few of the reasons I can imagine why you might want to put the Amazon Accessibility Hotline in your contacts list.
*12) Rita’s iDevice Advice for May 29, 2017: How to Make It Known That There is an Accessibility Problem With an App.
There is a way to report problems or get technical support for a mobile app. Apps are software: if you need help or want to report an issue with the program’s developer, there are a couple of places to look for the contact information. Open the problematic app on your device and check its menus for a link to ‘Support’ or a ‘Contact Us’ page. If the app in question offers such an option, you may find yourself in the program’s online support guide and Frequently Asked Questions area, or get an email address to use for filing your complaint. If the app in question does not include links to technical support documentation, go to the Apple App online store where you downloaded it and search for that app’s page. Once you locate the page, look for links to the app developer’s support site and contact information so you can find the answers you need or report specific problems to the app’s creators. Those with iOS devices can see their personal software libraries by opening the App Store icon on the home screen and tapping the Purchased button. Select an app to get a pop-up window showing its information page and links to the developer. Apple’s site has support help for the company’s own apps.
There are resources available to App developers directly from Apple and at the www.AppleVis.com website, related to accessibility issues.
Scripture: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”
Psalm 8:3-4, NIV
The witness of Scripture, from beginning to end, is that God was and is the Creator of all things. Secular humanism is desperate, however, to write God out of the script and use science to prove that, in some extraordinary way, the whole of the universe accidentally created itself out of absolutely nothing – not only self-creating the matter of which the universe is made, but simultaneously creating the space in which all of God’s creation exists!
This is as scientifically nonsensical as sitting in the middle of a field, waiting for an airport and a Boeing 747 to self-create themselves, so that you can jet off on your holidays! We can be confident that this will never happen. In just the same way we can be confident that
the Universe was not an accident and that as the Psalmist contemplated the glories of the heavens, he was right in his assessment, that the moon and the stars are the work of God’s hands.
Our sun is 93 million miles away from Planet Earth. But out there in space there is a star so big that its diameter is greater than eight times the distance between the Earth and the Sun! When I contemplate the vastness and the glory of the universe and then look at the sheer miracle of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, I cannot help but praise my God, the Creator of all things.
When the Psalmist sees the incredible magnificence of God’s amazing creation he is then lost in the miraculous wonder of the fact that this amazing God is mindful of his individual existence and cares about him. It’s hard for him to comprehend that Almighty God, the
Creator of all things is aware of who he is and what he is doing!
But that is the reality of our God. He created all things, but it is mankind, made in His image and likeness, who is at the centre of His heart. When we look up to the heavens and see the magnificence of the night sky, we can be hugely encouraged that the God who put the stars in space and holds them in his hands, is the same God who put us on Planet Earth and sent His Son to show us how much He loved us.
Be encouraged – in spite of our apparent insignificance, when compared with the vastness of the universe, He is mindful of you, loves you and cares for you.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord for Your amazing creation. I marvel at the fact that You who made all things are mindful of who I am and care about me. Thank you for your wonderful love and extraordinary provision for me and all your children. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.