First Thoughts on System access, Linux, and more

hello everyone,

I’m not sure what to call this writing. A blog post, or a technology review?

I’ll probably go with the ladder however. I’m not exactly sure how or what my image is within the blind community. I tested Windows vista and 7 illegally and wrote reviews for most of these products, though they never got consoladated into one central place has a lot of them, but not all.
I suppose, though, in the long run I am your average high school student moving on to college, who has a computer life just as much as he does a computer one. My mom is not too supportive of a lot of my endevours-mainly because she doesn’t see the point in a lot that I do.

Throughout the years to come, JAWS served me well. It was fast and responsive. At the time I had a Toshiba Satelite machine, with an intel Celeron 2.8 GHz CPU and it ran fine. (you can still find reviews I wrote using that machine! )

I met several friends over the past years, specifically ones who are in college so I could relatively compare my situation with theirs.
One of them, Peter whom I met in the 8th grade, talked of System Access for the first time, saying how great the product is. I think I was a bit more closed minded than I am today, because I didn’t try System Access until the end of my 9th grade year. Or was it 10th?

My results with the product were mixed. I loved the mobile network no doubt, but hated the lag which existed when fast typing. It was a .2 second lag, nothing a lot of people would make an issue out of, but I honestly like to know and hear each letter I type, not just for confidence purposes as a journalist but simply to make sure that I’m on track and writing what my mind desires. I never ran the remote access functionality a try, but Peter did demonstrate it to me over the phone, so I had a sense of how it works.

My trial expired that summer, and I cast System access into the sea of who knows how many other products I’ve cast into the past.

During my Windows 7 testing phase, I had to reinstall my computer a lot. I think it is simply the responsibility of any beta tester. You don’t just upgrade from version to version;You often times re-format.
This is where the big shark began poking out it’s head again, stretching as it went. FreedomScientific did not like this. They felt that I was pirating their product, which I can understand. I had several conversations with Bryan Carver from over there-none of which were in the least friendliest-and after a while, I resorted to using pirated cracks with the product.

I also got a netbook last year, which meant that now I had two computers-my IBM laptop and my tiny Toshiba netbook.

So I again called Pete, not just for pure advice reasons but to also see how he was doing in general. He suggested System Access, saying that it is the primary screen reader he uses.
During that 2-year gap I mentioned, I had oppertunities to use Satogo, their web-based product which allows you to use a screen reader from anywhere, and I was really impressed. Being able to go to my media center’s computer lab and firing up a screen reader right there made me actually feel normal as far as a blind person. I was always an advocate of blindness being limitless, so I also used Satogo in several of my middle school presentations where I showcased blindness with this idea to over 300 students. Needless to say, all of them were impressed with the access idea.

Back to the point however-I have drifted again. Pete suggested that I get the loan-where you can pay for 24 months $40 and in the end have a full license copy of System Access. I pondered this and decided not to go with it. I tried to log in to my previous account with Satogo, and found that it was… non-existant.
Somehow, over two years I suppose, things change. So I gave System access another thirty day trial, and for this I am guilty-honestly I am an honest person and this was, in my mind, bypassing the system. So if anyone at Serotek is reading, I do deserve a punishment for doing a double-trial. I’m not sure if I was aware that I tried SA two years ago, but it was something that popped in my mind and caused some restlessness on my part.

And again, I did not give it a deep test. I’ve found the keyboard lag a problem, both on my netbook and on my home laptop. I also found that Yahoo Messenger was not accessible, something I used and still use to maintain my long distance relationship with my girlfriend. All of these really prevented me from using the product to it’s fullest and, aside from watching a few movies on SA Mobile, I really felt no motivation to switch or consider stepping out of the shark’s lare.

What to say. I recently built my new desktop PC, with an AMD Phenom quad core CPU that has 64-bit support. My main laptop did not support 64-bit, sporting a Core Duo processor. With talks of the next version of Windows being 64-bit only, I figured my 4-year old laptop had to go.
For college, this meant that my netbook would have to be the machine I’d use when in classes, while the desktop would run in my room.

I’m actually really afraid of theft, especially in college, of my technology. So I figured that I could use remote access to directly use my desktop from my netbook, thus allowing me to essentially constantly use my desktop. It would also let me use a central location for all documents and programs I install.

Jaws tandom costs money, and so does remote access. While tandom over the internet is free, it is a nightmare. Often times, response lag takes a long time with tandom over the internet.

What to say. It was time again to consider System access because of the free remote access functionality. I also get two licenses (that is, licenses to use two machines), which means a lot. Right now I’m using cracks on both of my machines with JAWS. That is not good, not just because it is illegal and FS will disable it eventually, but because each time there is a newer JAWS update, I’d need to wait a few months in dreaded 40 minute mode. Um, no.

I’ve mentioned linux before and I will bring it up again. While I’ve used it on and off in the last few days, and it’s accessibility is great, doing things such as remote access or broadcasting my radio show by means of “stereo mix” is very challenging. It is not impossible, but not all apps are orca-friendly, which could be a potential problem. Orca is a fairly good screen reader, but at this moment, linux’s accessibility frameworks are not widely known let alone documented for developers. Gnome provides this for all apps, and each program that uses the Gnome workspace will probably be 90% accessible, the lack of it is still noticeable. With that said, linux is still great for usage in any daily task, especially if one wants a lightweight environment to use.

I tried System access again today.
my experiences with the product this morning weren’t the best, on a freshly re-installed Netbook. Satogo seems to use the Internet to fetch a lot of it’s audio, which is really interesting. Though E-speak seems to be integrated into the Satogo copy you run on your machine, but I have no real way of confirming this just yet.
Still, for some reason, hitting enter on links did not bring them up-I had to open each link in individual windows with shift+enter to get them working. This ended up frustrating me since I had a billion IE windows open by the middle of the day. So I went back to JAWS on the Netbook but didn’t give up on System Access yet.

Tonight I tried it on my desktop PC. In fact, I’m using it as I type this.

There is still a .2 second keyboard lag when typing fast, a lag that jaws does not have-JAWS pronounces each letter as I type it. I would really love to know how others feel about this, so please tell me your comments.

System access, to my knowledge, also does not have options to output the audio to another soundcard. This might be an obscure feature but one which I use when broadcasting my talk show. It allows me to have JAWS going to another soundcard and my voice/station music to go through the Stereo mix of my main card. (for those who keep saying that the microphone lags in Windows 7, it doesn’t if you use the stereo mix option on your soundcard and go into the speakers under playback and use the microphone volume there, and not by using the microphone option under the recording page to play it back to your soundcard.)

With that aside, I will have to use some alternative method for rooting my audio of system access to another soundcard. I use edcast to broadcast, and sound recorder to record my shows, so no, I can’t use an audio pipeline.

Yahoo messenger isn’t supported, though the virtual mouse comes in handy. It lets me read messages in the conversation window relatively good. I’ve been informed that there is a client called Instant Bird which I will try. I don’t like Miranda because it uses too many tabbed windows and can be hard to control at times.

7 days and counting!

Again, my Satogo account was “not able to be authorized”, probably due to inactivity. So I had to register again and as a part of my Satogo subscription, I have 7 days to try all System access features, including the mobile network and remote access.
I will finally put it to the test and use it with all of my every day applications. Visual Studio 2010, Adobe reader, edcast, and a host of other apps will be tried.


While I clearly hoped to switch fully to Linux, I sadly don’t see it happening just yet. The day is close, though. Just the past 4-5 months gave Linux some major progress as far as accessibility and response time when using the built-in screen reader. You can certainly use Linux for web-browsing, twitter, and even the pigeon messenger/TTitter client for tweeting, it is still not the most intuitive operating system if you just want to use it. I know there are a lot of blinux users who are in the Visually Impaired community, and I understand why they are using it as their main operating system: It’s light, free, stable, and because it’s free, you know what is in it. The truth, though, is that right now a blind person cannot use Linux in their lifetime without having to use the command line a few times. The sighted can simply use mainstream software, but with a visual impairment things can be slightly different. Vinux certainly tries to combat this problem by including software out of the box which just works, as well as having all accessibility set up and ready to go.
While command line usage is very minimal in Linux, it’s still there. Also keep in mind that I was using a beta release of the OS-which is still a month from release, so improvements will happen. Ubuntu really didn’t support my Netbook hardware which I also found a bit disappointing. It’s Toshiba. What do you expect?

Similarly, I see a weird spark in Serotek. Sure, they are like any other access company. They compete in the market, and thus they advertise. Take a look at the System Access account screen yourself and hear Mike Calvo promote the mobile network yourself. There is nothing wrong with a company promoting their product, of course, but I am simply saying that as an example.
However Serotek have fairly seceded in being commercial and having a community with the mobile network. Their company is dedicated and I know my experiences with their customer service were beyond excellent. Right now, the company has user’s intentions at heart, and I hope and send luck to them that they will not turn the other cheek like Freedom Scientific did. All companies start off as “good” but competition can lead them to a struggle for power, which is exactly what happened with FS. It’s a deep concept, but one which I’m sure Mike Calvo and his team see reflected in the monopoly which now exists within our industry.

As a technology reviewer, I of course make assumptions to myself. Who doesn’t? But by sharing my assumptions like with my day #0 Linux article and than later sharing my results, I hope to not only present to you an unbiased look at technology, but also an outlook which attempts to share all ups and downs. Linux, for example, would make a great OS for the person who only needs e-mail, web browsing, social networks and maybe even Twitter. (TTitter requires some command line configuration to integrate with Orca). It is also good for the advanced user who loves to compile sometimes and does not have a fast-pace life. There are a lot you can get done with Linux than Windows.
Let’s now take that to System Access. I will be looking at several aspects throughout the week. Usability, compatibility, customizability, support, and documentation to name a few things.
A month from now, I will also re-visit Linux and use it once more, since betas are never a good way to assume things and take ideas from. And please, respected reader, keep that in mind, not just now, but whenever else I look at a beta product.

So, time to rev up the engines and… Access the week, with System access!

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