Podcast Transcript: Mosen At large episode 168, new natural voices for Windows Narrator, new Apple hardware, new Uber bugs and new Leasey 7

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Jonathan: I’m Jonathan Mosen. This is Mosen At Large. The show that’s got the blind community talking. Today, new natural voices for narrator in Windows 11. Uber has major accessibility issues. Apple has new hardware coming out, and Hartgen Consultancy is ready to release Leasey7.


Jonathan: As always, thank you so much for taking time out for the podcast. If this is your first time listening, a warm welcome to you. I did want to start by acknowledging with a lot of sadness. The death of Zain Nadella, who is the son of Microsoft’s Chief Executive Satya Nadella. Zane was 26, he had cerebral palsy, and he died last Monday. I know that human beings are incredibly resilient creatures, terrible things happen to you. Somehow you find strength that you didn’t know that you had.

I wish that for Satya Nadella and his family, because I just don’t know how you cope with the death of a child. I doubt that it will be any comfort to Satya Nadella and his family right now, of course, but I like to hope that in time they will take comfort from the fact that I believe Zane Nadella’s legacy will be that Microsoft through Satya Nadella’s awareness of accessibility and disability issues is a much more accessible and inclusive place.

That’s a wonderful and profound legacy to leave. It doesn’t bring him back, but it does mean that he will be remembered. He will have a place in Microsoft’s history. I know of course, that Satya Nadella will never become aware of or hear this, but I found the news of Zane’s death very, very moving and so a long way away from this part of the world, I’m thinking of them. I send them all the best, and lots of love and comfort during such a difficult time.


Jonathan: Have you had a look at Windows 11 lately? If you are still of the view that Windows 11 is largely a cosmetic change, and that there’s little to get excited about, you may want to rethink that. I think that was certainly the case when Windows 11 was first announced, if you were a sighted person, and you took a look at Windows 11, you could instantly see a difference. You’d have to fossick around a little bit more as a blind person to even know that you were on Windows 11.

Now that is changing and there are features being added to Windows 11 that really do add value. I did upgrade to Windows 11 over my summer break. One of the things I do enjoy very much is the dictation feature. It isn’t perfect. Sometimes it inserts punctuation when you’ve dictated it. Sometimes it repeats itself. Sometimes it repeats itself, but it is pretty good. The dictation feature was something that grabbed me immediately of all the dictation features that I’ve used, be it on iOS and Android and Windows.

This one does seem to be the most accurate overall for me. I do not like the sound scheme in Windows 11 as a hearing-impaired person who is also blind. I pick up a lot of useful information from the Windows sounds. They are too faint and unobtrusive for me. I can understand why people with certain impairments may find them less jarring, but for me, they are a step backwards. I’m sure that if I search around enough, I can probably install the Windows 10 sound scheme on Windows 11.

I do intend to do that at some point because I find the current Windows 11 sounds just too faint for them to be helpful to me. I have now put my ThinkPad on the Windows 11 insider builds. I’ve got a buck each way on this. I have not upgraded my desktop PC here in the studio that I also use as my primary work machine to the Windows 11 insider builds. I am running the latest release build of Windows 11 here in the studio, but the ThinkPad is running the insider builds, and there is a lot that is changing, and a lot to like in terms of accessibility in Windows 11, there is now full voice control available in at least some markets.

There are some changes to narrator. One of the big changes to narrator is that there are some natural voices that have been added that you can choose from. I’m very pleased about this, because one of the things that keeps me on Microsoft Edge is that when you use the immersive reader function, not only do you get rid of a lot of the clutter that can make reading news on the web so difficult, because the news is interspersed with all sorts of ads and unwanted stuff, but you also have the ability to use the read- aloud function that’s built into the immersive reader.

For some time, the voices available in that read-aloud function are stunning, and there are similar. I’m not sure they’re always identical, but there are similar voices available in Microsoft Word itself. You can go in Microsoft Office 365 versions of Word, at least into the review tab. In the review tab, there’s a read-aloud button. I am now finding that if I’m just reading a document, not proofing it, but just having a document open to have it read to me. I am now always using that read-aloud function because the voices are very pleasant.

You can listen to them for a long time without the fatigue that you sometimes get with older text-to-speech  engines, but you can also speed them up, and still have them intelligible at fast speeds. This has meant that when I use Voice Dream Reader, for instance, which is an app I make extensive use of on my iPhone, I keep hankering for those voices. I keep searching around with all the voices that Voice Dream Reader offers thinking, “Isn’t there something that comes close to this experience that I’m getting on Windows?”

There really isn’t. I love these voices for being read to in Windows 11. Well, now in Narrator, there are natural voices that you can choose from. When these first came to the insider builds, they were not available in my part of the world. I was really disappointed by this, but in the latest insider build, build 22567, that dropped just a couple of days ago, the voices do seem to be more widely available.

If they are available to you, and you’re running this insider build and you haven’t found them yet, what happens is the first time that you run Narrator when you’ve got a compatible build, it will come up with a dialogue and tell you that these natural voices are available, and do you want to install them? I have obviously done that. It just so happens that I have my handy dandy, incredible edible ThinkPad with me now.

I’m going to run Narrator with one of these voices already running, and it is the guy voice. We’ll have a bit of an extensive play with these, because I know there’s a lot of interest in these voices, and how good they really are. I’m going to run Narrator by pressing CTRL+Windows+Enter. I have obviously quit JAWS first.

Automated voice: MALP coming up. docs, compatibility mode, word, window. MALP coming up. docs, compatibility mode editing.

Jonathan: What that is saying is MALP for Mosen At Large Podcast coming up. This is the promotional message that I send out to the Mosen media list, which I hope you are subscribed to, and the Mosen At Large blog. Before I go into Narrator and have a look at the options. Let’s just read this. This is the Microsoft guy voice at the moment. I’m going to perform a continuous read by pressing the narrator key with down arrow.

Automated voice: In the next episode, new goodies in Leasey-7, accessibility issues in Uber apps, songs you love and hate and more Kia ora Mosen At Largers. Our amazing community has put together another informative, thought-provoking, listen for you. It’ll be in your podcast app this weekend. Here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect. You’re welcome to comment on these, or any other issues that are on your mind. Many of us make extensive use of Uber’s apps, both to go places and to food delivered.

After a brief period where accessibility of Uber Eats was restored. The latest update has seen Uber Eats take dramatic accessibility step backwards, and the issues with the Uber ride-sharing app persist. If you’d like to share what you’re experiencing, as well as how you’ve tried to draw Uber’s attention to the issues, and what response you’ve received, you are most welcome. On a much lighter note, last week, a listener asked us to discuss songs we love.

Songs we hate, and songs we remember being sung to us when we were children. Of course, simply naming songs we like, and don’t like is a bit boring. I’d like to know what is it about these songs that pushes all the right or the wrong buttons for you? We can have some fun with this. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy is an incredible productivity and usability enhancement tool compatible with JAWS.

It’s due for a major update with version 7 being released next week. I talk with Brian Hartgen to get the scoop on all that’s new in seven. We might even get a few hints about what else is in the pipeline. Dude, there’s plenty more on the show as well.

Jonathan: I’ll stop reading there. That’s the Microsoft guy voice at its defaults. The pitch is 10, and we’ll have a look at what the rate is in just a moment. To have a look at these other voices, I’m going to press Windows+CTRL+N, that will bring up the narrator settings window.

Automated voice: Settings window narrator toggle, switch on.

Jonathan: I’m going to press the Tab key.

Automated voice: Show all settings, button collapsed, keyboard shortcut for narrator, toggles, narrator home, show all, Complete Guide to Narrator. Choose a voice. Microsoft guy [Natural], English [United States]. Combo Box collapsed.

Jonathan: If you have not installed all of these voices, if I press tab one more time, and begin.

Automated voice: Show All Settings button collapsed. Add Natural Voices. Add button.

Jonathan: There’s an Add Natural Vices button. If I go in here, it’ll tell me, “There are no more voices to add. You’ve added them all already.” I won’t do that. I’ll go back with Shift+Tab.

Automated voice: Choose the voice. Show All Settings button collapsed.

Jonathan: This is a standard Windows 11 paradigm where sometimes things are hidden that collapsed, and you press a button to expand them. I’ll press Enter to do that.

Automated voice: Show All Settings button expanded.

Jonathan: Now when I Tab, we’ve got some control over this voice.

Automated voice: Speed slider at 10.

Jonathan: It’s defaulting to a speed of 10. Somewhat counter-intuitively you speed it all the way up by pressing the End Key.

Automated voice: [inaudible 00:10:54]

Jonathan: Now it’s gone up to 20.

Automated voice: [inaudible 00:10:57]

Jonathan: That may be quite fast for many people. How slow does it go?

Automated voice: Zero. Show All Settings button expanded. Speed slider at zero.

Jonathan: We’ll go up to five.

Automated voice: One, two, three, four, five.

Jonathan: Have a listen to that.

Automated voice: Settings Window.

Jonathan: Now, we’ll go back to 10.

Automated voice: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Settings Window.

Jonathan: 15.

Automated voice: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. Settings form fields. Show All Settings button expanded.

Jonathan: I bump the touchscreen there.

Automated voice: Choose a voice. Microsoft guy [Natural], English [United States]. Combo Box collapsed. Complete Guide to Narrator Open button.

Jonathan: That is at a reasonable clip. As you can hear it’s still very intelligible.

Automated voice: Choose a voice. Microsoft Guide [Natural], English [United States]. Show All Settings button expanded. Speed slider at 15.

Jonathan: I’m going to go back to 10.

Automated voice: 14, 13, 12, 11, 10.

Jonathan: If I press Tab-

Automated voice: Pitch slider at 10.

Jonathan: -the pitch also defaults to 10. Let’s have a look at how much range there is. We’ll press the End key.

Automated voice: 20.

Jonathan: Now it’s gone up to 20, and it sounds very different.

Automated voice: Settings Window. Speed slider a 10. Pitch slider at 20.

Jonathan: It sounds like it’s a tape that’s been sped up actually. If I go all the way down to the bottom by pressing the Home key–

Automated voice: Zero. Speed slider at 10.

Jonathan: That does sound like again, a tape that has been slowed down.

Automated voice: Settings Window. Pitch slider at zero.

Jonathan: It doesn’t take that much of a change for that kind of tape effect to be noticeable. If I go back up–

Automated voice: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.

Jonathan: Let’s say I lowered the pitch to seven.

Automated voice: Settings Window. Speed slider at 10.

Jonathan: It still slightly sounds to me like a tape that’s been slowed down.

Automated voice: Pitch slider at seven.

Jonathan: It’s definitely livable.

Automated voice: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 13. Speed slider at 10. Pitch slider at 10.

Jonathan: By the time you get to 13 it really sounds like it’s been on the helium dude. That’s what it sounds like. It sounds like it’s been on the helium. As you can hear that is a very pleasant voice to listen to. Let’s have a look at the other voices.

Automated voice: Speed slider at 10. Show All Settings button. Choose a voice. Microsoft Guide [Natural], English [United States]. Combo Box collapsed.

Jonathan: I’m going to up arrow.

Automated voice: Microsoft Aria [Natural], English [United States]. 0ne of 21 selected.

Jonathan: This is Microsoft Aria and again the defaults are being used right now. I’m going to go back into Microsoft Word.

Automated voice: MALP coming up dot docs.

Jonathan: Go to the top of the file and just read that passage again for you. This time with the Microsoft Aria voice.

Automated voice: In the next episode, new goodies in Leasey-7. Accessibility issues in Uber apps. Songs you love and hate and more. Kia ora Mosen at Largers. Our amazing community has put together another informative, thought-provoking listen for you, and it’ll be in your podcast app this weekend. Here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect. You’re welcome to comment on these or any other issues that are on your mind. Many of us make extensive use of Uber’s apps both to go places and to get food delivered.

After a brief period where accessibility of Uber Eats was restored, the latest update has seen Uber Eats take a dramatic accessibility step backwards. The issues with the Uber ride-sharing app persist. If you’d like to share what you’re experiencing, as well as how you’ve tried to draw Uber’s attention to the issues, and what response you’ve received, you are most welcome. On a much lighter note, last week a listener asked us to discuss songs we love, songs we hate, and songs we remember being sung to us when we were children.

Of course, simply naming songs we like and don’t like is a bit boring. I’d like to know what is it about these songs that pushes all the right or the wrong buttons for you. We can have some fun with this. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy is an incredible productivity and usability enhancement tool compatible with JAWS. It’s due for a major update with version 7 being released next week. I talk with Brian Hartgen to get the scoop on all that’s new in 7. We might even get a few hints about what else is in the pipeline. Dude.

Jonathan: I have to let it go to the, “Dude” bit, because I like to hear how it interprets that. It’s dude with an exclamation mark at the end. That’s the Aria voice. I’m going to Alt+Tab because the Narrator window is still open.

Automated voice: Setting. Settings Window. Choose a voice. Microsoft Aria (Natural)

Jonathan: I will down arrow.

Automated voice: Microsoft guide [Natural].

Jonathan: One more time.

Automated voice: Microsoft Jenny [Natural], English [United States]. Three of 21 selected.

Jonathan: This is the third of the natural voices and it’s called Microsoft Jenny. I’m not sure if Jenny Lay-Flurrie got it named after her or what the deal is? That’s all right. I’ll Tab into Word.

Automated voice: MALP coming up dot docs.

Jonathan: We will go to the top of the file and have Narrator read that same passage again, this time with the Jenny voice.

Automated voice: In the next episode, new goodies in Leasey-7. Accessibility issues in Uber apps. Songs you love and hate and more. Kia ora Mosen at Largers. Our amazing community has put together another informative thought-provoking listen for you. It’ll be in your podcast app this weekend. Here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect. You’re welcome to comment on these or any other issues that are on your mind.

Many of us make extensive use of Uber’s apps both to go places and to get food delivered. After a brief period where accessibility of Uber Eats was restored the latest update has seen Uber Eats take a dramatic accessibility step backwards. The issues with the Uber ride-sharing app persist. If you’d like to share what you’re experiencing, as well as how you’ve tried to draw Ubers attention to the issues and what response you’ve received, you are most welcome.

On a much lighter note, last week a listener asked us to discuss songs we love, songs we hate, and songs we remember being sung to us when we were children. Of course, simply naming songs we like and don’t like is a bit boring. I’d like to know what is it about these songs that pushes all the right or the wrong buttons for you.

We can have some fun with this. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy is an incredible productivity and usability enhancement tool compatible with JAWS. It’s due for a major update with version 7 being released next week. I talked with Brian Hartgen to get the scoop on all that’s new in 7. We might even get a few hints about what else is in the pipeline. Dude.

Jonathan: I’ll stop reading at that point. I’ve had a couple of questions about these voices that I’ll attempt to answer. How responsive are they? Clearly, they sound very pleasant when you’re reading like this. How good are they for editing? If I just error around this document a character at a time I’ll go left. [inaudible 00:17:47] Not too bad. I suspect on my desktop machine, they’d be a little bit more responsive, because there’s a lot more processor power there. I think that eloquence is more responsive, but it’s quite marginal.

Automated voice: [inaudible 00:18:05]

Jonathan: That’s pretty good, actually. If I go into a new document-

Automated voice: Document one, Word Window. Document one editing.

Jonathan: -I’m going to turn Character Echo on.

Automated voice: Character Reading on.

Jonathan: Now I’m going to type at a reasonable speed.

Automated voice: [inaudible 00:18:21]

Jonathan: It’s not too bad, really, for a voice that is sounding so natural. What I also find intriguing about these voices is that they are tiny to install. I’m not sure why that is, because clearly, they are some concatenated speech. I don’t know whether a lot is coming down from the cloud, or how this works but each voice is only about 10 or 12 megabytes to install. When you consider the quality of these voices, that intrigues me.

I’m not sure what’s going on with that. How it’s possible to have voices sounding so good. The footprint on your local machine being so tiny. The big one, can you use these voices with JAWS? The answer? No. Not that I have found. I believe at the moment at least these voices are exclusive to Narrator. I don’t know whether Microsoft intends to keep it that way, or whether eventually, you will be able to go into the JAWS voice settings and choose Microsoft’s options, and find these voices there but right now, you cannot.

That is a look at the new voices in Narrator coming to Windows soon. If you want to play with these you can of course get into the Windows Insider Program. Are there risks in doing that? Yes, but so far I haven’t had anything catastrophic happen to me. I’m knocking on the wood pretty extensively right there. You can enroll in the Windows Insider Program by pressing Windows+I to get into Windows settings you go into Update and Security, you will find the Windows Insider program there.

These are Windows 11 voices by the way. You will need a Windows 11 capable PC, and you will need to have made the jump to Windows 11.

Recording: Be the first to know what’s coming in the next episode of Mosen At Large. Opt into the Mosen media list and receive a brief email on what’s coming, so you can get your contribution in ahead of the show. You can stop receiving emails anytime. To join, send a blank email to media-subscribe@mosen.org. That’s media-subscribe@mosen.org. Stay in the know with Mosen At Large.

Jonathan: Time to talk Apple things. As we’ve been saying on Mosen At Large for a wee while now, Apple is having a spring event. It is, as we were expecting on the 8th of March, and the theme for this one is peak performance. What can we expect at this? There is going to be, it appears a new iPhone SE. This will be the third generation of iPhone SE, and the big change here will be that it has 5G. We’ll have to see whether it also includes the W1 Chip, because the iPhone SE that’s currently out there is pretty deficient in some key areas.

For example, if you have the iPhone SE that’s currently out there, you can’t make full use of all the Apple air tag features such as precision finding. It’d be nice if that was added to the new iPhone SE as well. We will have to see. A new iPad Air expected. It’s been a while since we’ve had one of those. We’re expecting a new Mac Mini, and a new MacBook Pro with the M2 chip. We think it’s going to be called the M2. This is Apple’s ARM based processors, continuing to evolve.

They are a phenomenon, aren’t they? No doubt about that. They’re doing exceptionally well, and we should be hearing more about the evolution of these arm based Apple processors of next week’s event. I’ll be interested to see whether there’s any more talk of services, because there are some interesting rumors bubbling about, including the idea that Apple is going to compete with Audible and to create an audiobook subscription service.

Now, I don’t know whether that’s going to be ready for next week or not, but certainly there are just those whispers that that’s what Apple is working on, and services are a key revenue stream for Apple now. They’re looking for new ways to monetize services. Maybe we’ll find out about more bundles next week. It would be nice to think that there are one or two surprises that many of the analysts didn’t get. You hear so much before these Apple events now, that it’s almost like some grins spoiled your Christmas.

You just turn up to confirm what has already been leaked to a lot of people who watch this stuff. If you want to watch this stuff, the Apple peak performance event, it is on March, the 8th, US time at 10:00 AM Pacific, that equates to 1:00 PM US Eastern time. If you are elsewhere in the world, let’s do some translation for you. At this time of the year, it’s actually going to be a very civilized 7:00 AM in New Zealand, so I won’t even need a set an alarm for that one. It’ll be 6:00 PM in the UK. It’ll be a relatively civilized 5:00 AM in Eastern Australian time.

Thanks to the difference, of course, the clocks are going forward in the United States in just one more week. Those time zone differences are going to get a bit more punishing for those of us in this part of the world, and of course in this part of the world, it is the next day, so it’ll be the 9th of March in New Zealand and Australia and the Southern hemisphere that this event takes place. Of course, all of this means that iOS 15.4 is getting ready to drop officially and Apple released beta 5 of iOS 15.4 earlier in the week.

There do seem to have been some substantial Braille improvements. I don’t think it’s perfect, but what software ever is perfect? It does seem to me, in my limited, use that with beta 5, there are no, or perhaps fewer panning issues than there were before. That’s very positive if that is the case. I will be interested to hear what other people are experiencing as they become familiar with this latest version that is out to developers and for public testing.

It is a much anticipated release, this one, because you’ve got the ability to use face ID with a mask on, even if you’re not wearing an Apple watch, and there is a new American Siri voice available in this one as well, and there are a few other nuggets as well. It is going to be a fairly substantial release coming up very shortly. Let’s go back to the issue that Graham raised about Apple Music and the fact that a few are listening to albums that should be gapless like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon or the Abbey Road Medley. On some devices, you get gaps and it really messes with the enjoyment of the music.

Iain Lackey says, “It seems that Apple gives us a choice with their music service. If you want gapless playback, you have to turn off Dolby Atmos, and lossless playback in the music settings. I have turned these settings off as I value gapless playback. On the Braille issue with upper case B, Ian says, I am still getting panning freezes. I have found that toggling speech shows that the Braille has moved on, but the display hasn’t shown it until speech has been toggled. Hope that makes sense.” Yes, it does Iain, I have seen this as well. Iain wrote this at the time of iOS 15.4 Beta 3.

Dean Charlton says, “I have been trialing Apple Music for just over three weeks now. I play it on my stereo paired Echoes. I just happened to want to play Pink Floyd albums, such as Dark Side of The Moon, Wish You Were Here. They play properly, no stopping between tracks, unlike Spotify, when I played The Wall, so many stoppages between tracks, just a terrible listening experience. Spotify also does this with live albums, unlike Apple Music.

The thing that really annoys me about Apple Music though, is if you’re playing a playlist or a album and you pause it, and you say want to listen to the radio news, when you go back to play Apple Music, it’s lost its place, and starts from the beginning again. Mr. Google man tells me that many other people have experienced this also.” Thanks Dean.

Good to know that this is working as it should be working if you’re playing on Spotify and the Echo. Maybe Ian has come up with the magic formula. I shall have to go in there and turn spacial audio, and lossless off, much as it pains me to do so, because why should I listen to non lossless music? Anyway, I’ll try it and see if it fixes it. Graham you might like to do the same.

Jenine Stanley has been in touch with an email called two finger scrub troubles and says, “Yes, try saying that three times fast. I’ve noticed in IOS 15 that I too have had difficulty consistently performing the two finger scrub gesture. It seems to need to be perfectly horizontally aligned and in the center of the screen in order to work, otherwise I end up in the control panel.” What control panel? I’m intrigued about where you are going when you can’t perform the gesture, Jenine.

She says, “I have no difficulty performing the gesture, no hand issues, et cetera, I do have fairly advanced arthritis in my hands, but that’s not the gesture I find problematic. The one I find more difficult is the rotor gesture.” That is one that a lot of people struggle with. Janine continues, “This is in part why I usually use a Bluetooth keyboard. All that said, back to the two finger scrub. This seems to happen more on my iPhone 11 Pro running iOS 15.4 beta than it does on my iPhone 12 Pro running the public version of iOS 15.3.”

Marisa, you’re not alone though I’m not finding the same type of redirect with the scrub. It’s definitely much fussier in IOS 15. I would play a little bit of Michael Jackson’s You Are Not Alone at this point, but I’d probably get pinged for that, so I will just say you are not alone, Marisa. I’ve not seen it, but Jenine says she has. Here’s an interesting email from the good doctor Sally.

She says, “I have found that you can set up the different commands to different gestures. However, I want to be able to do a particular gesture that runs a shortcut, for example, move my email from students to a particular folder with one gesture instead of a lot. Thanks in advance. As you know, I’m news of voiceover on my iPhone, but have used it for a while on my Mac.” I have good news for you, Sally, it is definitely possible to assign shortcuts to gestures.

The one thing that you might find is that you’ve run out of gestures. If that’s the case on newer iPhones, you can assign a double tap and a triple tap of the back of the phone to voiceover functions, including assigning a shortcut. I use the Google assistant a lot on my iPhone, for example, because it gives more sensible responses than Siri does most of the time, so I have my triple tap of the back of the phone assigned to that.

I also use Castro to listen to a lot of podcasts. We reviewed Castro way back when, on Mosen At Large, it’s improved even more since then, it is in my view by a long way, the best podcast player for iOS. I listen to a lot more podcasts than I used to because of Castro and it’s amazing user interface. It is simplicity, but it’s also power. That’s the best thing you can hope for in a user interface.

What I’ve done is I’ve assigned a gesture when voiceover is running to play Castro, that’s an iOS shortcut, and I’ve also assigned another gesture to clear the current episode, and skip to the next one. That means that when I’m busy doing stuff, I can start playing my podcasts without going into the app, and I can also skip a podcast and go on to the next one all from my touch screen. Let’s have a look at this. We will talk to the magic machine, open voiceover settings. Are we in voiceover? It doesn’t say.

Automated voice: Voiceover heading.

Jonathan: Yes, we are. The first thing we want to do is touch-

Automated voice: Commands button.

Jonathan: -the commands button. I’ll double-tap that.

Automated voice: All commands button.

Jonathan: Now, you may think that the all commands button is not where you want to be, because that’s obviously very busy, and if you want to assign a touch gesture, why don’t you just flick right-

Automated voice: Touch gestures button.

Jonathan: -and go there, but when you do, you can’t do what you want to do. We’ll flick back.

Automated voice: All commands button.

Jonathan: We will double-tap the all commands button.

Automated voice: Interaction button.

Jonathan: Now, I’m going to swipe through this, and you’ll hear all the different options that we have here. There are lots.

Automated voice: Basic navigation button, text navigation button, advanced navigation button, editing button, rotor button, scrolling button, speech and audio button, output button, voiceover button, system button, other button, shortcuts button.

Jonathan: Actually, for reference, I think you’ll find that shortcut is the last on this list.

Automated voice: Shortcuts button.

Jonathan: Yes, it is. You can, once you go into the screen, perform a four-finger tap on the bottom half of the screen, and you will get right to shortcuts, which is where you want to be. I’ll double-tap.

Automated voice: Add to Alexa shopping list button.

Jonathan: Now, we have a list of all of my shortcuts, and if I flick right.

Automated voice: Baker street button.

Jonathan: Oh, no! That’s my command for the H-E-Y Google, so that I don’t trigger the whole world, when I want to summon it.

Automated voice: Check Apple order status button, check spelling button, check availability button, clear this episode button.

Jonathan: All right. Here’s one, clear this episode, and I do have this assigned to a gesture, so if I double tap.

Automated voice: Touch gestures, heading.

Jonathan: Flick to the right, the first thing we get is touch gestures.

Automated voice: Two-finger quadruple tap, actions available.

Jonathan: I do have actions available. If I flick down.

Automated voice: Delete, activate default.

Jonathan: I can delete and activate it. If I flick to the right.

Automated voice: Add gesture button.

Jonathan: I can add another gesture.

Automated voice: Keyboard shortcuts heading.

Jonathan: I can also assign if this isn’t too confusing, a keyboard shortcut to an iOS shortcut.

Automated voice: Add a keyboard shortcut button. Commands are prefixed with the voiceover modifier key, control plus option or caps lock.

Jonathan: That’s all. You can’t assign a Braille command to a shortcut at this point. That is how you can go in, first create your shortcut, and then if you want to assign a shortcut to a gesture, you can absolutely do that and assign it to a keyboard command too. It is a really powerful voiceover feature. Shortcuts are fantastic. You can have so much fun with them.

You can really extend the power of your phone. Then when you can combine it with this voiceover functionality, you really can do some magic. I hope that helps Sally, and that with your newly found shortcut prowess, you would move me into the super-duper cool student’s folder. If I were one.


Jonathan: It was Shakespeare who said, “Something is rotten in the state of Uber accessibility.” I think it was Shakespeare who said it, it comes from Hamlet. Doesn’t it? Anyway, when something goes so horribly wrong with accessibility at a company, you do have to wonder what has happened. Have they changed the way that the app is written? Has someone left? Sometimes what happens is you’ve got one person in a company who was a real champion of accessibility.

Somebody who takes the time to check that everything’s working okay before you release, and when that one person leaves, sometimes that’s enough to upset the equilibrium of the accessibility of an app. I don’t know. It’s all speculation because it is so difficult to talk to anyone at Uber who can actually make a difference. If you try and contact Uber support, you get these inane, unhelpful comments.

Sometimes they’ll tell you to uninstall and reinstall the apps, and really it’s just hard to break through and talk to someone who actually understands who’s at the development level. Who’s even at the escalation level. You can have a sensible conversation about being a part of the solution. There are lots of us who would be quite happy to run test flight builds, or do whatever it would take, just so we can get our Uber experience back.

I am a heavy user. I’m an Uber diamond user, and I make extensive use of both apps, when I’m not hunkering down because of a major Omnicon outbreak in this country. I do use Uber ride-share an awful lot, because I’m a diamond user. I have the fixed price from home to my office. It’s really competitively priced, and most of the time it works really well for me.

As I’ve mentioned on this show, we do have issues from time to time when Bonnie accompanies me, and we have guide dog refusals, and it’s an inconvenience and it can often be humiliating and stressful, but at least there is a process, and the process does seem to work. We have two quite significant accessibility issues going on in Uber land at the moment. One is not new. It’s been going on for a few weeks, and we’ve talked about this on the podcast before.

Christopher came up with a workaround for this, and it’s essentially, “Don’t flick.” When you are wanting to get a ride organized in the Uber ride share app, just drag your finger around the screen until you get to the point that you’ve selected your destination and everything will be okay. It is when you flick around the screen that the problems begin. Now, interestingly from the dialogue I’ve had with people on Twitter, this is definitely affecting a lot of us, but it appears not to be affecting all of us, and I don’t know why that is.

There are people with the same version number as the rest of us who are having the issue who are not having the issue. It’s nothing to do with screen recognition being on, or any of those obvious iOS fixes, it’s something to do with the app, but I do love to know what the variable is, why some people are seeing this and other people are not. The one that is new, that has just come to Uber Eats does appear to be universal.

If you have updated your Uber Eats app to the build that was released earlier this week, as this podcast goes out, you will be seeing this and I will show you what it’s doing. To demo it, I’m going to place an order with Tank, for those who are not in New Zealand, Tank is a salad place. They make the most amazing salads. It’s very good for you. It’s probably more expensive than it needs to be, but it’s jolly delicious, and so I am now in the list of items that I can order from Tank, and I’m going to flick right to one that I order pretty frequently.

Automated voice: Quinoa Chicken Goji Salad, gluten_free $17.90 button.

Jonathan: It’s a quinoa chicken goji salad. You’ve got to love those goji berries. Apparently, they have all amazing properties. I’m going to double-tap on this, because I can customize the salad. I’ll do that.

Automated voice: Quinoa close button.

Jonathan: I’ll flick to the right.

Automated voice: Quinoa chicken goji salad, free-range, poach chicken.

Jonathan: That’s already what we’ve heard. I’ll flick right, again.

Automated voice: Adjustable.

Jonathan: That doesn’t speak. I’m not sure what that’s even for, but anyway, that’s by the by.

Automated voice: Choice of extra meats, heading.

Jonathan: I can choose extra meats, and I flick right.

Automated voice: Choose zero to two. Free-range, poach chicken, $4.50 popular, place holder.

Jonathan: Right here, we see the problem. Every item on this list now has two elements. One is the title, and the other is a thing that says, place holder, that doesn’t seem to do anything. What used to happen before this build came out was that if you double-tapped any of these items, voiceover would clearly say, “Selected.”

Before you added the item to the card, you would be able to review the things that you’d selected, the customizations that you had made, and you’d be sure that you were going to get what you actually ordered. If I flick right.

Automated voice: Grass-fed beef, $4.50. Place older, choice of extra fillings, heading, choose zero to 15, heading, bacon, $2.50, popular.

Jonathan: Now, in this case, I do actually want to add bacon to this salad. I’m going to double-tap.

Automated voice: Bacon, plus $2.50, popular.

Jonathan: I have learned that it is actually now selected. My double tap has worked, but I’ve got no confirmation. If I flick left.

Automated voice: Choose zero to 15, heading.

Jonathan: Go right again.

Automated voice: Bacon plus $2.50, popular.

Jonathan: No confirmation that it’s selected. If I flick right to this phantom item for want of a better term.

Automated voice: Place older.

Jonathan: It doesn’t tell me either. I’ve got no confirmation at all, that it is selected. One way that you do have sometimes, if there is a charge for the items that you’re adding, is that you will obviously see the price go up on the add to cart buttons. If I go to the bottom of the screen-

Automated voice: Add one to the cart bullet $20.40 button.

Jonathan: You’ll notice that the price has gone up from the original that was quoted, and that’s because I’ve added the bacon, and there’s a price when you’ve added the bacon, but really that’s the only way that I’m able to tell what I’m doing, is that the price is going up. If, for example, I were to add a bunch of veggies. There is no additional charge for those. It’s not clear what I’m selecting.

If you’re mindful, if you’re careful, if you’re concentrating on what you’re doing, then it’s obviously not a show stopper, but if you’ve somehow lost track of what you’ve selected, and what you haven’t then maybe the best way is to start again and see if you can focus this time. I do hope that they fix both of these issues. I’d like to be able to get back to ordering my rides with Uber without having to drag my finger around the screen, and I would like to be able to select items and get confirmation in Uber Eats about what it is that I’ve selected.

I would encourage everybody who is an Uber user to report these issues. I don’t know whether the number of people reporting will make a difference, but we have had these flare-ups with Uber before where they’ve gone through periods where accessibility has just gone weird, and then it comes right again. I do hope that we come out of this trough soon, and perhaps the best way to do that is well for podcasts like this to give it a bit of exposure, and for all of us to take the time to report any issues.


Jim: Hey Jonathan, it’s Jim from Sunny Florida. I wanted to comment briefly on a few things. First off, I want to say a huge thank you to you for doing this segment about Ukraine, and I want to send a special thank you in words of support, and I’m a person of faith. I hope it’s okay to share thoughts and prayers. A lot of my friends aren’t say, “Good vibes.” I hope that’s they’ve got a lot going on over there.

My first reader driver with a job when I worked for a organization serving the blind was a Ukrainian, and believe she was born in the states, but she had been a Marine and other things. She spoke Ukrainian perfectly. I’ve tried to reach out to her and her family here. Thank you. Also. I wanted to, on a lighter note, comment about the abbreviations. Oh, yes. FT is what either Fort or feet. Sometimes you’ll be in a context, and you need to put a scanning or whatever it’s spread is, Fort or feet, which is interesting.

IN the word in is inches. Even on Facebook, it’s funny when someone writes something and voiceover or JAWS will say inches, and NA for not applicable, but it’s the abbreviation for Nevada. This is so American-centric, some of it, and I’m sure they have other abbreviations when you have it set fitting, but I just think that it’s probably going a little far. I would rather it say FL, and I just figure that out because some of my friends in Europe and the UK, they don’t know our abbreviations in the States, just like I don’t know theirs, just what was taught in school or whatever.

Weird, but I too remember the ’80s. I had an Apple IIGS and I was in the Orlando Ford area then, and we had lots of bulletin board systems or BBSs. Then, of course, here in the States, we had GEs service called Genie, G-E-N-I-E, and they worked really hard to stay accessible, and we had CompuServe which I know you’ve heard of and then America Online, which a lot of organizations went after, because they were a graphic interface and not apologetic about it.

Their IM service was accessible. It could be made accessible with scripts, but they weren’t interested in America Online or AOL was not interested in me, which really still bugs me that we didn’t really take that argument more seriously in the blind community. Anyway, yes. I remember lots of good conversations, using the mall a few times to buy CDs and other things. Then the international forums and discussion groups. Then they even came out with Genie’s with Aladdin, and that would download messages from the different interest groups or bulletin board area on Genie.

It was really pretty cool, and I actually made some friends and traveled to visit them. That was an interesting experience too, very positive. I made sure it was safe. I knew them for a while, and had a few backup setups just in case something didn’t work out, but it was good. Yes. Memories of the early days of the intranet, I guess we could call them.

Also, I remember when they got full, and got slow, and actually had a lot of conversations with people that were hearing impaired or deaf, and they didn’t know I was blind, and we got the chatting, and that’s an interface, even now where we can communicate with people even if they speak other languages, or have other types of disability, and the barriers a lot of times come down with technology.

Jonathan: Thanks, Jim. I never owned an Apple IIGS, but I remember wanting one, because I distinctly remember the tune that raised dot computing’s newsletter played. I used to get it on cassette and it said, “This is the new Apple IIGS,” and it was playing all this amazing polyphonic music with drums of sorts and everything and I thought, “Wow, that is amazing.” By that stage, I had migrated to the IBM PC.

Yes, I used Genie as well, and a lot of these services did have technology that let you log in and download things so you could read offline. The big package for DOS that did this on CompuServe was called Tapcis. I think it was reasonably accessible as far as I remember. I don’t even know. If you gave me a copy of Tapcis now, I’m sure I wouldn’t know what to do with it.

Somehow you would subscribe to different forums, it would go in, and download all the stuff from the forums you hadn’t read since you last logged on, you would read and reply, and then it would upload them all. As far as I know, the CompuServe people actually cooperated with the Tapcis people. I think it started off as an unofficial project, but then it got some support from within CompuServe itself.

Nikki: Hello, Jonathan. It’s Nikki Keck and I thought I would call in this week rather than send you an email that you would have to deal with brail display bugs to try and read. In any case, I do remember the bulletin boards very well. I started out with an Apple computer and a modem, and I don’t remember the speed of that modem, and I used CompuServe and I remember reading the AP for the first time, the Associated Press.

One day I had called in to CompuServe just to read the Associated Press in the intermediate unit where my local intermediate unit, they paid for the CompuServe, but of course, I had my own phone line actually. When I called CompuServe, that number was long distance, because my family lived out in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t have anything local. When I did that, my mom said, “Now, you really don’t want to call CompuServe just to look at the news,” and I was like, “Oh, but mom, I can read this and text and it’s so cool.”

I loved printing it out on my Braille printer. I had a VersaPoint, an original VersaPoint. Well, then after that, I did get an IBM PC with a 2400 baud modem. I did do blue wave, and I did all the echoes and I lived in Philly at that time, and I did use CompuServe at first until I got one of those huge bills that you were talking about. By the way, I do not remember my ID. Sorry to say, but after that whole thing, I did do bulletin boards and at one point, I did actually call the Blink Link and set up an account. I used the echoes.

Now I do not remember what I said. I do not remember at all what I actually said, but I do remember that one night, Willie Wilson called me up on the phone, and he had our phone number because we registered users of the Blink Link. You had to use, if you remember, they asked you for your name and your phone number and all of these things when you would register and he called me and he said, “You don’t say that.”

I don’t remember what it was, but I remember him calling me and saying, “You don’t want to say that on the echo.” I’m like, “Okay, I’m sorry.” I do remember that. Then it was funny because I pictured his voice a certain way, and most of the time when I picture somebody’s voice to sound a way, they don’t sound it all the way I picture them. He did for some reason. He sounded exactly the way I pictured him to sound.

Anyway, those are my stories of the bulletin boards. By the way, I agree with you about the screen readers. I do think three 3m or 33 M would be better than trying to interpret it, because the problem is I’ve seen this before where users edit their dictionary managers too to be a certain way, but then, of course, it’s not intuitive enough to know that if that same expression is used somewhere else, it’s going to interpret it wrong.

That is a problem. I do actually to answer the question about the image descriptions. I like to see them even if they don’t have any relationship to the text. I just like to be able to know what’s there. I feel that if a sighted person can find out that a man is walking down the street, and that’s the image being shown on the website, then I want to know that too. Those are my comments. Have a great day, when you hear, and thanks for the podcast.

Recording: On Twitter? Follow Mosen At Large, for information about the podcast, the latest tech news and links to things we talk about on the podcast. That’s Mosen At Large, all one word on Twitter.

Peter Hi Jonathan. It’s Peter from Robin Hood county hoping you are well. The song I like the most, is Sleep to Dream by Betty Levette. This is because she has such a great voice, and it is a very raunchy song. I really like that one, the song I hate is Young Girl by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap. When I was at college in the late ’60s, there was a guy who put this on the gramophone in the common room every day. We heard it at least three or four times a day.

To be honest, it drove me up the wall, and the song my mom used to sing me was a song called Past Three O’clock. It went something on the lines of, past three o’clock on a cold frosty morning, past three o’clock come our masters all. Apparently when I was a baby, my aunt Dolly used to bounce me up and down singing Any Old Iron, which is by Harry Champion, I think, an old musical artist. I think there was one that she sang called if it wasn’t for the houses in between. I can’t really remember, oh yes, I can. It’s Gus Elon.

Jonathan: Thanks very much, Peter. I’m with you. I get where you’re coming from with the Gary Puckett thing. Even if you hadn’t heard that song again and again, it is dodgy that song. The thing is, most of his songs sounded very much the same. If you’ve heard one Gary Puckett song, you’ve heard them all, haven’t you? Your comments about music hall songs remind me of the My Music Show, which was a BBC comedy panel game. For those who are not familiar with it. It was a spinoff of the My Word show.

At the end of the panel game, they would have a round where the panelists would sing a song and Dennis Norden in particular, but Frank Mirror a lot of the time as well, would take these wonderful old obscure, and quite cute music hall songs and sing them. Really enjoyed that. I’ve often thought, “I’d love to be able to find, if they were ever made albums, of particularly those old songs that Dennis Norden used to dig up,” because a lot of them were just hilarious and extremely catchy.

Love those old music hall tunes. In New Zealand Dean says, “What a field day we could have trying to narrow down one’s favorite all-time songs. Just impossible in my case, but here are just a few that are a must for me. The first ever song I remember hearing, was John Rolls. Cheryl Moana, Marie. Wow. That was a huge hit here in New Zealand.” Dean continues. “Mum had the 45, and I would’ve been sitting in front of their majestic radiogram. I would eventually beat the 45 to death. It literally wore out. Next we have Tragedy by the Bee Gees on our portable record player in the eye ward at Waikato hospital, I would drive the nurses up the wall, as I would play it on full bout. I even got moved to the end of the ward, into my own room.”

Well see, that’s a good reason to play Tragedy by the Bee Gees. “Next,” says Dean, “We go to my all time favorite year of 1985, and Treat her like a lady by the Temptations.” Oh man, I remember that song, because by that stage I was working as a DJ in an afterschool job at a skating rink. I remember spinning that track up on the vinyl for skaters to dance to. He said, “A song that always cheered me up, and could make you feel good when things weren’t going well. Songs I heard and cannot stand. This applies to these artists with everything they’ve done.”

Oh dear. “Van Morrison, Neil Diamond.” What? “The carpenter’s?” Oh no, you’re getting worse Dean. “Just ghastly and hideous.” Oh my goodness. It just goes to show doesn’t it. One person’s ceiling is another person’s floor. One person’s medicine is another person’s poison. You know that great old song that goes, “If I were a carpenter, and you were a lady.” Lena has sent an email with a subject line for the lady carpenter. You see, being a carpenter and a lady are not mutually exclusive. Lena says, “Hello, Jonathan. I’m sorry that her name escapes me, but you know it.”

I do Lena. I do, and for only twice my normal fee, I will tell you what it is. It’s Rebecca. It was Rebecca who was asking about carpentry. The lady in Canada who wants to learn about carpentry. Bookshare has a number of the NCCER handbooks. Some are basic and would answer the question mentioned in today’s show. NCCER provides education, training and other skill building help for who want to do carpentry, and other aspects of construction. Lena provides the URL to a Bookshare version of a book on fasteners and such.

“As always,” says, Lena, “This year’s shows are interesting. Best to you and Bonnie.” Thank you, Lena. Always good to hear from you. Thank you for the helpful tip, and hopefully Rebecca, that’s a resource that you can draw from. I am curious though, I’ll ask my device, what is NCCER.

Siri: Okay. I found this on the web for what is NCCER. Check it out. About NCCER vertical line person qualifications. NCCER is a nonprofit education foundation created in 1996 as a National Center for Construction Education and Research.

Jonathan: There we go. That’s what it stands for. I don’t know why Siri couldn’t have just told me that, but whatever. An email now from Andy Rebscher who says, “Hi Jonathan, regarding the inquiry from Keith about audio metering, those you mentioned for use in Reaper are very good. Additionally, if one is using GoldWave, it has a detector that allows for three thresholds. As the audio exceeds each one, a different tone is heard. All this is adjustable, and can tell you a lot about the RMS and peak values in your project. Stay well,” says, Andy, “And enjoy your summer.”

Gary: Hello, Jonathan and fellow Mosen at Large listeners, Gary here. On the topic of treadmills, I was quite a runner a couple of years ago, and I like to have a arm on a treadmill, not to hold onto them. I don’t like holding onto anything on the treadmill. It affects my pacing and my balance. I especially don’t like holding on the front of a treadmill, because then you tend to lean forward. What I like to do is, when I run with my sighted runner, I use my arm actions quite a bit, obviously swinging your arms when you run.

What I would do is generally, I just put my left arm on this side of the arm hold, and just let it scrape backwards and forwards as I’m running. I would feel where I am by using that guide and the armrest. I’d know if I’m going too far back by this little thing that juts out. Then I got another treadmill which didn’t have any armrest, only had front holds. What we done there is we tied a broomstick with quite a number of cable ties, and it actually works very well. What actually happened was when I was running with this thing over time, my arm scraped this broomstick, and it actually became smooth.

Then eventually, when I started running a little bit too far back, as sometimes happens, I would feel that the broom gets a little bit rougher. The texture of the broom gets rougher, so then I knew, “All right, well it’s time to just increase my speed just a little bit to go forward again, to run in the spot where I’m used to running, so I don’t tumble of the back of the treadmill and hurt myself.” That worked pretty well for me, and I was pretty fit to one point. I would run 10Ks every day, and on weekends I’d generally do races where I do 15Ks or 21Ks, which is half marathon.

By no means, I was never a fast runner. My best time for a 10K was 62 minutes, and I would do anywhere between 1 hour, 2 minutes and 1 hour, 6 minutes for a 10K, and 2 minutes and 30 seconds for a 21K. Obviously I prefer running outside with sighted runners, and they’ve got to be quite a bit fitter than me, because they’ve got to talk to you while you’re running, just guiding you, with approaching speed bumps, pavements, up or down, et cetera. It’s always good to have a runner that’s fitter than you that’s guiding you.

You can obviously do your normal thing, and you’re concentrating, and that sort of thing. That’s pretty much it on the treadmills. If I may add this in, don’t forget to tune into A little bit of this, and a little bit of that 3:00 AM and PM US Eastern week days. Thanks again for a great podcast.


Jonathan: We have talked about Leasey on the show before it is a veritable Swiss army knife really, for JAWS. It does all sorts of things, including drumming, if you really wanted to. My guest once again is Brian Hartgen of Hartgen consultancy. We’ve got Brian back on the podcast, because Leasey-7 is being released, and I thought it would be good to talk about some of the new features. Welcome back, Brian.

Brian: Thank you very much. It was episode 123 when I was here last time.

Jonathan: Oh, how time flies. It’s hard to describe Leasey, but I guess that’s what you do, because it’s your product. If somebody said to you, “What actually is Leasey, how do you succinctly describe it?

Brian: Well it serves two groups of different users. It’s for the complete computer beginner because there is a menu structure associated with it. If you wanted to drive some elements of your PC via a menu structure, and you just wanted to use the arrow keys and not much more then it’s that. Most people, I would say probably about 97-98% of people actually purchase it for what we call Leasey Advanced. As you say, there are so many tools, utilities, and services in there. It really does improve productivity for JAWS users, and it makes some applications more accessible as well.

Jonathan: One of the things I did over my summer break was to read the entire Leasey manual and I was taking notes while I did that. Whenever I came across a little function and I thought, “I could really use this.” Things like when I open a word document, a lot of the time, I do appreciate, particularly in a long word document, being returned to the place that I was at. It’s like a note-taker used to be. I made a note in a little word document, ironically enough, of all the functions that I keep thinking, “Yes, that’s pretty cool. I will use that sometimes.” Just wove all of them into my workflow and that has been an incredible productivity boost for me now back at work.

Brian: I’m very glad to hear that I’ve been doing something very similar this week. I’ve been going through the entire documentation, all 220 pages of it. Making lots of amendments and, of course, adding full descriptions of the new features that we’re going to talk about today.

Jonathan: In terms of learning all of this stuff. There are two choices. If you like reading documentation, you can certainly do that, and of course, one of the advantages of doing that is that it’s all searchable, but you also have these things called LeaseyBites. What are they?

Brian: LeaseyBites are very short audio tutorials that you can download from our website. They just teach a particular topic. You can see, immediately before you download it, what the subject matter is going to be. You can download it and it’s about a 5 or 10-minute tutorial in most cases as to how to use a particular function. It’s nice and concise. Now, some of those are going to be updated during the course of this year because we are changing some of the ways that some of our core Leasey features work, but at the moment, most of them are fairly current still.

Jonathan: Is there a danger in doing that, do you think? If somebody updates to Leasey and suddenly a series of commands or workflow that they might be used to doesn’t work the same as it used to, you’re going to inconvenience users by doing that?

Brian: I try not to change keystrokes, especially if we can at all avoid it because of the reason that you’ve pointed out. If there is a bit of a change to an interface that would suit everybody for the better, then I think the end results are worthwhile. Now, one of the Leasey bites I can think of, for example, is that of emoji entering emoji characters into social media platforms, or indeed documents wherever you want to put them. That, I think, was the very first LeaseyBite.

Well, we have the ability to insert those characters, but we only have a select few characters that you can put in there. I think it’s about 150. Well, we want to include the full range of close to 4,000 of those emoji characters, but it’s a question of how we design that interface so it’s not a huge list of 4,000 items that you would have to get through. There will be some redesigning of that. It’s as small as we can make it.

Jonathan: Well, smiling face with squinting eyes. [laughs]

Brian: Absolutely. Yes.

Jonathan: Would you like to take us through then some of the things that you particularly think are noteworthy in Leasey 7?

Brian: I would love to. When we started talking Leasey last time on the podcast, you’ll remember that we talked about a utility within Leasey called Elegance for ElBraille, where you can control your computer with the Braille entry keyboard. Now, JAWS gives you the ability to do that anyway, but it actually can be quite difficult sometimes to manage and to remember all the different key sequences.

With this, you just type what you want to happen. If there’s a particular windows command or a screen reading command that you happen to know, you can type it in such as Windows D or Insert Up Arrow, that kind of thing. As long as you know it, then you can type it. You can also create abbreviations as well to launch particular files and do all kinds of other things.

When I last spoke to you, we had just launched that particular feature. We’ve received very, very good reaction to it. I can’t believe it, actually. People are saying that they love it and others are saying, “Will it work with my particular display?” Obviously, as I pointed out to you last time, this is a slow process to get this working, but we now have it in Leasey 7 for the BrailleSense 6. If you have a BrailleSense connected to your computer, you can use its keyboard to drive all aspects of your PC.

You can’t do that ordinarily when you connect a BrailleSense, it acts as a Braille display, but there are only certain things that you can do. You certainly can’t drive the whole PC with it. This came out of our BrailleSense training course, which is very extensive and that we’ve got going on at the moment. That is the first major feature.

Jonathan: That is exciting because the appeal of ElBraille is obviously that you’ve got this windows capable device in a very blind-friendly package. There’s no screen because we don’t need it, but boy, even as somebody who used to live in that ecosystem I did find it hard to commit all of those combinations to memory, to efficiently use them. I can understand why that feature is popular with anybody who has a Braille input keyboard.

Brian: I can’t even remember what all the different keyboard commands are at all. When I put my ElBraille on, sometimes I just want to do something quite quickly with it and I just resort to this because it’s just so much easier.

Jonathan: Yes, absolutely. That’s great that it’s being extended. Do you see further extensions in the future or do you think this is in terms of supported devices?

Brian: No, I’d like to see it. I’ve been asked for it to be included with some other displays. I think now that I’ve got the evidence of two successful modules for this, so we’ve got the ElBraille and we’ve got the BrailleSense, hopefully, it will go down well with the BrailleSense and people will like it. That perhaps gives me some leverage to approach some other Braille display manufacturers and say, “Would it be possible for us to loan one of your Braille displays temporarily so that we can try to get this working because we’re only a small company. We can’t afford all the displays. I think we’ve done well to get what we have.” That might give us a little bit of clout, so to speak.

Jonathan: Yes, I hope so. Out of curiosity, have you had a play with the APH Mantis, which has a QWERTY keyboard, but a Braille display?

Brian: I’m afraid I haven’t, no. I would like to but I would like a Braille display principally because I want to write Braille on there. My understanding is that you can’t actually do that with the QWERTY keyboard, is that right?

Jonathan: You can Braille into it within its own software. If you open a document in the Mantis you can Braille, but I don’t believe at the moment that you can Braille into it on the computer with a screen reader, so that’s right. I just find, particularly because I’m doing so much in the Apple ecosystem and for the reasons that we’ve just been talking about, the cryptic commands due to fewer keys, that for me, the APH Mantis has really hit the spot. It’s just so efficient to have your standard very nice, easy to type on QWERTY keyboard, but the Braille display there as well for reading back. It’s good that we’ve got that choice.

Brian: It definitely is and I know you’re a big fan of it listening to the podcast. I can understand why, particularly with the Apple-related bulks that have been a debacle of late.

Jonathan: Oh, lordy lordy. Yes. What’s the next feature you’re going to tell us about?

Brian: The next feature relates to text selection. For years, we’ve had a feature where you can mark the start point of text that you want to select that you then move to the endpoint, you mark that. Then once the text is selected you can manipulate it. I was going through this process one day and I thought, “Why are we actually marking that endpoint? It isn’t serving any purpose pressing that keystroke. We’ve started selecting the text.”

JAWS knows that we’re doing that so there’s no sense at all in marking the endpoint. All we need to do is to put the cursor where we want it and then carry out any one of a number of functions. If you just bear with me one moment, I will just flick over to a document here, which I’ve got open. This is some text from one of our training courses, which I will work just let it read a little snatch off.

Automated Voice: Brian Hartgen, let’s now talk about favorites because this is going to be very important.

Brian: Okay, so if I put the cursor, to begin with on the first part of the important text, not my name that’s not important.

Automated Voice: Part colon tab. Let’s–

Brian: Okay, and I will begin the selection here.

Automated Voice: Leasey, begin selection.

Brian: Okay, we’ll just arrow down a little bit.

Automated Voice: For you, the last thing you will want to do for sites that you view regularly is to type in the web address every time particularly if it’s very long, and if–

Brian: Okay, so we’ll end it after that sentence.

Automated Voice: [unintelligible 01:10:34] End, period, end.

Brian: There we go. I’ve not marked the end of the selection note. Okay, so I’ll press now Ctrl C for copy.

Automated Voice: Copied.

Brian: The text is now copied. Now with Leasey, we have a way of reading the contents of the clipboard, so I will just get it to do that.

Automated Voice: Leasey. Let’s now talk about favorites because this is going to be very important for you. The last thing you’ll want for sites that you view regularly is to type in the web address every time particularly if it’s very long.

Brian: Okay, so that is exactly how it works, and you can do it with most keystrokes. Of course, cut, copy, paste, emboldening, underlining, deleting all those kinds of things, you will be able to do it there.

Jonathan: Do you use the standard JAWS command to append to the clipboard if you want to use the append function is there a Leasey command for that?

Brian: I think there is a Leasey command for it. Yes, you can use the JAWS one as well, if you want to do that.

Jonathan: Yes. I’ve gotten used to using the Leasey command for now. This is great because this is actually a feature that I use, gosh, in a range of contexts, but one of the things I do every day with The Mosen Explosion, for example, is I look for interesting little tidbits of fairly light news, often surveys and different things. I put that all into one document, and so I select the beginning of the text, and I scroll down. then I have been using Leasey marking the end of the text, and appending it and that sort of thing. That’s really interesting that you’ve essentially taken out one step there, brilliant stuff.

Brian: It’s only a small thing, but over time a keystroke will save you quite a lot of time if it’s repeated over and over, won’t it?

Jonathan: See that’s a very interesting comment you make there. This is one of the things that I particularly like about Leasey. I know that you and I are almost obsessive about productivity and that’s why we get grumpy when Microsoft, for example, imposes verbosity and crazy things on us and I think we’re going to come back to that a bit later. All those things do add up. Efficiency does matter when your time is precious, and it’s actually showing respect for one’s time, isn’t it? That your time is valuable and all those little savings do add up.

Brian: That’s a very good way of putting it, yes. Anything that reduces the verbal clutter that you get on a day-to-day basis is a good thing I think. Obviously, we need it for people who are perhaps less experienced or who are coming to computing for the first time, that’s well understood. For those who are very fluent with using their screen readers or adept at using them, I think it is absolutely essential that we have the ability to turn off every announcement that is perhaps extraneous, that we don’t need.

Jonathan: Brilliant. All right, shall we go on to the next one?

Brian: This is quite different, actually, in terms of we’re coming away a little bit from efficiency. This is somebody who contacted me a few weeks ago and she said, “I listen to books using mp3 format.” I think she said the library was called Infravox, something like that. I don’t know whether you’ve heard of it?

Jonathan: It rings a vague bell, yes.

Brian: Okay. They’re in mp3 format, and she uses, I think she was using VLC media player and she said, “What I want to do is, is stop the book, it’s in the mp3 file, and come back to it the next day, and be able to pick up where I left off.” I had a look around and I really couldn’t find any player which allowed that to happen, not intuitively anyway. Of course, you can, if you’re using Winamp, you could perhaps set a bookmark if you want to do that in the middle of the file, and then you’ve got to go back into the bookmarks list and things like that, but I thought, “Well, we’ll try and do something about this.” I have included this for Winamp and also VLC media player. Let me just flick over to an audio file and I can quickly demonstrate this for you. Okay, so I’ve got a file here.

Automated Voice: 06 Mosen At Large 167.mp3.

Brian: Okay, so we’ve got that, all right.

Automated Voice: One.


Jonathan: I’m Jonathan Mosen. This is Mosen At Large.

Brian: There’s the file, we’ll just skip through it a little bit.

Jonathan: Is Ukraine’s Alex Younger, so poignantly told the BBC.

Brian: Okay, and I’ve paused it after that sentence, and now I will close it down.

Automated Voice: Mosen At Large.

Brian: Okay, so we’re back another day now we’re about to open the file again.


Jonathan: I’m Jonathan Mosen. This is Mosen At Large.

Automated Voice: 06 [unintelligible 01:15:27] Jonathan–

Brian: I’ll press a keystroke-

Jonathan: Today, the Ukrainian people are being punished, simply for–

Brian: -and we’re immediately back at that point. Now, when I developed the functionality for that, I took it a stage further, and I thought how would it be if we created the ability to add bookmarks within VLC Media Player because the bookmarks dialog in that player is horribly inaccessible. That’s what I did, and you can now create bookmarks to any points in the file that you would like. You bring up a dialog and it asks you what you want to call the bookmark, so you can give it a name of your choosing, so you can set multiple bookmarks per file. You press enter, and then of course, when you’ve loaded up the file next time you can go to your list of bookmarks relative to that file and you can just arrow down to the one that you want that you’ve appropriately named, and you press enter and away you go.

Jonathan: Are those bookmarks actually VLC bookmarks, or are they proprietary to Leasey itself?

Brian: They are Leasey bookmarks.

Jonathan: If you took it to another copy of VLC without Leasey installed, you wouldn’t have those bookmarks?

Brian: You wouldn’t have them, no.

Jonathan: iTunes, I think has a feature where you can define a file as an audiobook but boy, it is quite complicated to do that. You’ve got to go into a dialog and define it in iTunes, I guess for listening to audiobooks is a little bit like a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Brian: You definitely wouldn’t want to do that, no.

Jonathan: That’s really excellent.

Brian: Thank you.

Jonathan: That will be available, what on any media file, essentially?

Brian: Yes, it is. Yes, it works with any media file that we’ve tried it on.

Jonathan: Excellent.

Brian: In the audio sphere, if you like, I’ve included the scripts that we have for APH’s studio recorder. These were actually developed when I created the training course that we have on the use of studio recorder, which is a very useful application for people who want to record speech, I know that you have used it in the past.

Jonathan: Oh, yes it’s a brilliant app, yes.

Brian: It really is. There are a few areas that I thought really needed scripting, so one obvious area, for example, was where you couldn’t very quickly get the time, as in the elapsed time or the total time, in hours, minutes, and seconds format. It has to read the status bar and you can have quite a bit of information on that status bar.

The other thing that really got me was that with Studio Recorder, when you press the Spacebar, it starts playing the file, and then you press it again and that pauses it. Now, a lot of us who have used sound editors in the past, we will have got used to pressing Enter in order to pause the audio playback. It makes more sense, I think, to press Enter because you can really with the arrow keys get a nice tight edit, and that’s the way that I’ve been used to working. We have the ability to turn that on and off, we call it the alternative stop method. That means that you can go back to pressing Enter if that’s what you want, in order to turn that feature on.

Jonathan: Isn’t it interesting the way people work? One of the first things that I do within a new installation of REAPER is fix it so that the spacebar does toggle, does do play pause, like Studio Recorder. I’ve solved the problem by going the other way.

Brian: Okay. Well, at least people have that if–

Jonathan: Yes, no that’s right because that does make it more consistent with pretty much every other sound editor out there. Sound Forge does it the way that you’re talking about and I don’t know about GoldWave but it is a pretty common practice.

Brian: Yes, it is. Yes, so people have got that if they want, and there were some other dialog boxes where certain captions weren’t being read and things like that. They are all part of the scripts which people can get. Now I come to a feature, which I hadn’t even appreciated was a problem until about two weeks ago, when I got an email from a man called Oleg Chevken.

Jonathan: Yes.

Brian: I hope I’ve got the pronunciation correct.

Jonathan: Big shout out to Oleg right now.

Brian: He has become a Leasey user of late and he is excellent at sending in suggestions for features, which are very realistic to implement. They’re not crazy ideas. They’re very useful and this is definitely one of them. You will see some others as we go through the year, I’m quite sure.

This one is called Alt codes. What happens if you want to type a symbol on your computer keyboard but it’s not present on the keyboard? People might not realize that you can probably do it. If you hold down the Alt key and use the number pad to type various codes, you can actually reproduce a whole variety of different signs. For example, if you wanted a pound sign and you haven’t got one on your keyboard, that’s the British pound sign, you can type 156, I think the code is.

Obviously using the Numpad that does present its own challenges for us as visually impaired people. First of all, you may not even have a number pad, particularly if you’ve got a laptop. Second, you would have to turn on the Num Lock key anyway because ordinarily, it’s used by JAWS. With Leasey, we can now enter all these Alt codes in two different ways. First of all, what you can do is you can press a key on the keyboard. I’ve gone into Notepad now and I’m going to go into our Alt code interface.

Automated Voice: Leasey. Alt code dialog. Please type the Alt code then press Enter. List lend for a list of codes, please type the Alt code and press enter. List lend for a list of codes, edit.

Brian: Yes, it’s like New York-New York, so that they named it twice.


Brian: It’s asking us because a lot of people know these Alt codes, they’re used to using them on a regular basis. We thought, “Well, we have to give people the ability to enter the code.” I think I said it was 156, actually that last code. Just type that in and press Enter.

Automated Voice: Untyped character inserted, pound.

Brian: Yes, I got it. If you go back into the interface again.

Automated Voice: Leasey. Alt code dialog, please type the Alt code.

Brian: We’ve got the idea with the prompt but if we look at the edit field-

Automated Voice: 156.

Brian: -we’ve got exactly the same item in there because if you want to repeat the symbol, then you would just want to press Enter again. If you don’t have anything in that edit field, let me just erase that.

Automated Voice: Flat lend.

Brian: Press Enter.

Automated Voice: Startup, select an alt code dialog, list 1, list 2, send sign 155, 184, 384.

Brian: What we have is a complete list, it’s the official list of all the Alt codes that there are that I could find and if we arrow down, let’s see.

Automated Voice: Single pound sign, pound sterling, Irish pound, lira sign, 156.

Brian: What you’re getting is the description as to what the code represents but then I’ve put in the code itself as well the idea being that you can either press enter on the ones that you want in order to insert it or you can get to learn what these codes are. Again, going back to efficiency so that if you come to remember what the codes are that you regularly use, then that’s a good thing. You can just type them into the edit box in future.

Jonathan: I can immediately think of a use for this because in New Zealand our Maori language does use macrons. I am quite fortunate in that when I’m using the spell checker for English New Zealand it does actually correct my spelling. If I just type a number of words and then run the spell checker it will add the macrons. It’s not a foolproof method and actually adding the macrons as a screen reader user has been up until this point quite a fiddly process.

Brian: Yes, I can well imagine that. Now, as I said what we have here is the official list of codes but it has been suggested that what people would like to do is to have their own numeric codes that they could type in that would represent signs which are not in this list. Now, that’s not in this particular version. I want to see how this plays out initially with all the official ones, but that may well be a way to go at some stage.

Jonathan: One question that probably I can anticipate from listeners is how does this differ from the insert symbols dialog that’s already built into JAWS?

Brian: That’s a really good question. We have I think about 400 different codes in here. If you press insert 4 to bring up the insert symbols dialog, I think you’ve only got about 49 in there. It obviously hasn’t been updated for a very long time. I think, as I say, the advantage here is that for people who get to learn these codes eventually, it’s probably a quicker method if you press this keystroke when you type 156 and then press Enter. You can do that in less than two seconds, can’t you? It’s actually much easier to do it via our method but you’ve got the best of both worlds here I think and you’ve got all these extra codes in there.

Jonathan: Over time, can you build up a list of favorites as it were frequently used codes?

Brian: You can’t do that at the moment. No. No, this is just the maximum capabilities of the feature. I think we did quite well to get it into this version because we only found out about this [chuckles] two weeks ago but I’m sure it will definitely evolve, as I say. There are different ways that we could use this technology, I think.

Jonathan: That’s the thing, isn’t it? That often when you introduce a feature you get feedback. It’s like the old Molly Whuppie story that I used to hear as a kid. “You have done well Molly Whuppie but you can do better still.” The cool thing is that I have seen Leasey features evolve over time as people have given feedback. I’m sure that you’ll get a lot of feedback on this because it’s highly useful.

Brian: I really like the feedback. I’m literally getting suggestions for new features every couple of days at the moment or improvements. to existing features and I’m very glad about that. I’d like to hear about the ways that people are using the technology at the moment or that they would like to be able to us in a particular way. Yes, please keep that coming and the features will grow over time and get refined.

Jonathan: Yes, because what you’re doing is I think what a lot of people like about the Apple ecosystem and that if you can find a committed developer there, often it’s one person who’s working very hard and knows their stuff inside out, will add features and will engage in dialogue. That’s the beauty, that’s the potential of JAWS scripting that you can have that same sort of relationship with a developer to essentially make a product more and more useful. There’s a community around this product that I think is really impactful.

Brian: Yes, thank you. That’s one of the things or one of the reasons why I started learning scripting in the first place when I was a trainer. I could immediately see where a particular person was struggling. I thought if I could just make this easier for that person, if I had some scripting skills, I could make this so much easier even though JAWS isn’t doing what I wanted to do at the moment. That’s why I started and that ethos has continued into the Leasey product all these years later.

Jonathan: There are more goodies but wait, there’s more. It’s like the infomercials. I don’t know if you give infomercials in the UK.

Brian: [laughs] I don’t think we have those, no. [laughs] This came out of the station playlist scripts that we have but again, somebody wanted it. The ability to display the time on the Braille display second by second. Now, as I said, we’ve had this for a very long time, probably about 12 years now in the station playlist scripts, right back at the beginning we had it but you can now use it everywhere.

I know that people are going to say, “Well JAWS already has this.” Indeed they do, it’s a very new feature in JAWS 2022. What that feature does is it shows the clock in the status cells, usually it shows it constantly and there are certain permutations that you can go through to configure it how you want. This just displays it on the Braille display, it doesn’t matter whether the display has status cells or not. The one I choose to use, definitely it doesn’t work there on the JAWS default clock.

The idea is that you press a keystroke. Now, I can’t demonstrate this because I’ll press it and it’s not even going to say anything. It’s not even going to tell you that it started because if it’s a Braille-based feature we really don’t want to know whether it’s started or not, we can see it there. The clock will tick up on the Braille display and as soon as you press a key, it is going to stop so you do need to bear that in mind.

Obviously, if you want to start it again, you can press a key on the keyboard. You can also press a cursor routing key and that will stop it as well. It is quite useful for people who want to see when they’ve got to the top of an hour.

Jonathan: This is cool because this actually builds on a feature that you added for me, which was that you can now specify whether Insert+F12 speaks the seconds when you push that key. I like that. I have that on all the time because I’d want to know the time right down to the second. If it’s 12:59:58 that makes a big difference to me, compared with 12:59:01. It’s great, and now that’s obviously come to Braille as well.

Brian: That’s right. Yes, if you are coming to the end of a presentation, and you’re seeing the second kick up, and it’s coming close to the top of the hour, you really need to start wrapping up. Microsoft Edge. This is a thorny issue, these extra messages, which are sometimes being spoken, quite often being spoken when new pages load, and so on. Like loading page, “Load complete.” I think it says something like that, and “Go back.” When you go to a previous page.

This is alluding to what we were talking about earlier. This is reducing the amount of oral feedback that you get. You can now press a keystroke to stop a lot of that from happening. You press the keystroke, and all the messages are gone. You can reinstate them, of course, would never take them away permanently but you do have that level of control there.

Jonathan: Hallelujah. I like Edge actually, overall, because I’m very much enjoying their Immersive Reader when you go to a web page, and you’re reading a news article, for example. I tell you what, one thing I really got into doing with Microsoft Edge of late, is using their text to speech that’s built into the Immersive Reader because it’s the best high-quality text-to-speech I have ever heard. You can actually crank that up to a reasonable speed. It’s very pleasant to listen to for long sessions, but, oh boy, those messages drive me nuts.

The one question I have is, do you think you’ll ever get it granular? For example, I don’t want loading page and loading complete but I have to confess, sometimes when I push the Go Back key and Edge says, “Can’t go back no previous page.” That is actually useful information for me.

Brian: Yes, actually, I think we probably can do that. This is just the start of it, just to see how it works out as quite a number of these features are actually. Yes, I think we will be able to do that in time.

Jonathan: What is your preferred browser at the moment?

Brian: It’s Brave.

Jonathan: Yes. Nice little browser, isn’t it?

Brian: I really like it, yes. I think that the podcast introduced me to it. I think someone was using it, it may have even been yourself, but then I started–

Jonathan: We had a listener who talked about it and then I jumped on, and it’s gained a bit of traction in the blind community. What keeps you on Brave?

Brian: It’s very usable. The ability to save files where I want them to be saved because that sometimes doesn’t work in Microsoft Edge. The ability to be able to suppress certain advertisements and things like that, that seems to work fairly well, less page clutter. I just like it. For me, it was either going to be Chrome or Brave. I’ve just stayed with Brave.

Jonathan: Right, so you’re not a particular Microsoft Edge fan at this point?

Brian: I don’t use it at all, no.

Jonathan: Interesting.

Brian: Obviously, I did for this project but there are things about it, as I say, no matter what I do, I can’t make it so that when I press Enter on a link to download a file, it just downloads it. It doesn’t prompt me to download it to a particular location. It used to, but it doesn’t seem to do that now. I just prefer what I’ve got because I can be very efficient with that.

Jonathan: That’s interesting. One of the reasons why I like it is just precisely why you dislike it because I like being able to press Enter and get a clear message that it’s downloading and it all just goes into the downloads folder. Of course, recently Windows has done something, which means that that folder is sorted so that the most recent file is at the top. It’s easy to grab the file that you’ve got and do anything that you want to do with it.

Oh gosh, it’s good to have all these choices because I can remember, and I’m sure you can too, remember a time when questions were, “What’s the most accessible option here?” Now we’ve got ourselves to a point where that’s less and less the question. We’ve got a variety of choices just like everyone else have.

Brian: That’s right. Can I just talk, while we’re discussing the internet, about another little quick feature here? Have you ever had a situation where you’ve activated a link on a web page and then you go back to the previous page, and the virtual cursor is nowhere near where you expect it to be?

Jonathan: Oh, holy soup, yes. Yes, frequently.

Brian: Yes? It happened to me earlier today. I was looking at some YouTube videos and it happened. We’ve got a way of taking care of that. Let me just bring up a website here.

Automated Voice: Leasey. Healthy fruits to look for.

Brian: Here we go, “Healthy fruits” this website’s called.

Automated Voice: Not untiled [unintelligible 01:35:16]. 3 regions, 120, headings and 185 links. Nuts.com. Premium health nuts, dried fruit, healthy snacks [unintelligible 01:35:26]

Brian: Now, this is a great example of where this happens every single time what I was talking about. Let me just activate one of these links.

Automated Voice: List of visited links show gluten-free.

Brian: Here’s one called “Gluten-free” I’ll press Enter. It should be on the webpage now.

Automated Voice: Nuts.com Brave. Site uses cookies to– Nuts.com. search heading roasted cashews salted heading [unintelligible 01:35:54].

Brian: Yes, I think it has got there. Now if I go back to the previous page.

Automated Voice: Link, build your own. Nuts.com.

Brian: Now I can press a keystroke-

Automated Voice: Visited link gluten-free.

Brian: -and it takes me right back to that link where I was. Now I’m afraid that wasn’t a very elegant demo and I’m sorry about that. It’s just the way that this site works. When you press Enter. It doesn’t give you a lot of feedback within JAWS that you’re going to a new page and so on. I think that is part of the problem. When you go back to the previous page, then you’re not where you think you should be. That’s where this new keystroke is going to come into effect I hope.

Jonathan: I presume that would also work in HTML-based emails or maybe not because of the way JAWS renders it. I’m thinking of newsletters where you often get a lot of different links to different news stories, that sort of thing. They’re in an email digest and you go and you activate one of those links. You go back to the email, and you’re at the top of the email again.

Brian: I hadn’t even appreciated that but I’m going to scurry off as soon as we’ve got this interview done and I’m going to make that work. I’m going to check it to make sure that we can do that.

Jonathan: Brilliant.

Brian: That will be there.

Jonathan: Very good.

Brian: There are a small number of other features but that pretty much wraps up what’s in the Leasey version 7.

Jonathan: I have a question for you. This is one my people would like to get in touch with your people about. I used to say that as a joke, but now I actually do have people but I’ll write to you personally. Anyway, this has to do with the fact that I’ve become a big Leasey user. One of the things that I use quite a bit actually is the Leasey text feature. For those who are not familiar with this is where you could write a novel if you want or you could just write a small paragraph or two. One of the things I also use it for is URLs. To give you an example of this, I have two calendars that I now offer public access to through Fantastical. I will do a Mosen At Large Podcast about this.

The idea is that in a work context, I provide a link to my Fantastical calendar in my job, and people can go to that web page and book time with me because it really does reduce all this nonsense about, “When are you free?” “No, I’m not free at that time.” “Can you do this.” On and on it goes. It’s very, very cool. I have another one for Mosen At Large interviews and I have both of those URLs as Leasey text. It’s just super efficient to be able to recall those long URLs and paste them into the right place.

The thing is, though, if I set it up on my laptop, it’s not on my desktop. Because I’m me, I’ve worked out how and where you’re storing them and I copy the appropriate files over. What I really, really want is some cloud-based way of keeping my Leasey data in sync. I really, really want this.

Brian: We have, I think, the best group of beta testers in the world who test Leasey. They are a group of very intelligent people who know the product inside out. We have discussed this for years about how to make this work. I think it was last year we almost had it and we had things synchronizing to all kinds of different PCs. We had it all sorted out. The only problem with it, and the reason we held back on it, was because we also have a feature called Leasey Cuts, which enables you to create shortcuts to files and folders.

I do know that literally hundreds of people are using that. Of course, what works on one machine will not work on another. We would have to filter out the Leasey Cuts aspect of it for the synchronization. The Leasey Checks, obviously, no issues there at all and lots of the other tools, but we would have to do some work on Leasey Cuts, because if it’s pointing to a file, and it’s not going to be available, then obviously there’s nothing you can do about that.

The whole thing is just going to be a complete mess if people start storing Leasey cuts on one machine, they’re going to be synchronized, and then you store them for a different machine in Leasey, they’ve got to be synchronized, and it’s all going to be terrible. That was the reason we held back on it. It’s very much in our minds as to that’s what we want to do.

Jonathan: Yes, I completely appreciate that dilemma. [chuckles] I wish you luck with sorting that out, perhaps some sort of UI that separates the Leasey Cuts into a separate local folder while everything else goes into OneDrive or Dropbox, or your cloud storage of choice.

Brian: We’re there apart from that.

Jonathan: Interesting, I see the problem. Can I also ask you about Twitter support, because there have been a few changes in Twitter clients over time? I know that OpenTween, I think, was pretty popular for a while, and then it seems that they got pinged in some way by–

Brian: It’s back now.

Jonathan: Is it back? [laughs]

Brian: It’s back. At last, it’s back. [laughs]

Jonathan: Oh well, that’s nice. I have gotten into using TweeseCake, which I have to say, is a fantastic project. I’m just so impressed with the work that those developers have done on TweeseCake because it does so much more than Twitter. In recent times, I’ve been using Telegram with it and various other things. I guess it can be difficult to keep up with the evolving world of third-party accessible Twitter clients.

Brian: I don’t have a problem keeping up, but it’s a question of, “Do we need to do anything?” With TweeseCake, although I don’t use it a great deal, I probably felt that we didn’t need to do anything with that. I haven’t been asked to, with OpenTween, I’ve put the script back in there so people can use that. People are starting to come back to it again. If people think that there really is a need for it, to get JAWS to reproduce things in a particular way, as we do, for example, with TWBlue, there are some things that people like JAWS to say to again, speed up productivity and make things more efficient.

Let me hear about it. I haven’t heard anyone say it will be really good if Leasey could do this in conjunction with TweeseCake. I think the problem I’ve got with that, anyway, is that it’s so new at the moment that the interface might change. In fact, it has changed sometimes since I’ve seen it between different versions, so maybe when things settle down a little bit.

Jonathan: Yes, that’s a very good point. It’s not yet at a 1.0 release. It is evolving in quite a cool way, so that’s right. Can you give us any hints about what you’re thinking about for future versions of Leasey?

Brian: Yes I can because I’m already starting work on the next update. We hope to have the next version of Leasey out sometime next week. At the moment, people keep commenting and saying, “Can you fix this?” or “Can you fix that?” [chuckles] There are things that have to be attended to. I’m very hopeful that next week, that is around about the 8th of March, we will have a new version out. I’ve already started working on the next one.

I’ve already talked about the emoji. I’d very much like to get the extended list of emoji characters in place because some people are finding it quite difficult to be able to work with the existing Windows dialog. I’m always hearing about this. I would like to do that. Someone has suggested a feature because we have, I think, very good support for Windows notifications.

When you get a notification, whether it be from Teams or Outlook, or wherever it comes from, we can review them very quickly. We can quickly turn them off if that’s what we want to be able to do. We can do things like abbreviate the notifications as well, so we just tell you which application it’s come from, and things like that. We can also jump into notifications.

This person has suggested that we could have sounds that could be assigned to different types of notifications. For example, if I get an email from you, I might want to be alerted in a particular way or if the notification contains a mention, which of course is very prevalent as far as applications like Teams is concerned, then we want to hear a particular sound for that. I’m really attracted by that idea.

Jonathan: Music buff that you are, you will be familiar with The Troggs song, I Can’t Control Myself. It’s got this fantastic. Oh no, at the beginning of it. Yes, you could assign that to an email for me.

Brian: Oh no, we wouldn’t do that. Some people I could think of, perhaps we might do that, but-


Brian: -as soon as I heard about this, I thought, “I’ve got to do this, I really have.” I thought, “No, I really can’t do it now.” We have to get this version out. That is something I definitely want to do. I think it has great potential, that does.

Jonathan: There’s a lot going on. If people want to try Leasey, there is a demo option available, correct? People can install and uninstall safely?

Brian: Yes, they can. They can just download the demo, they can install it. They will get 15 chances, so 15 restarts of JAWS before the demo time expires. Then they’ll have to uninstall it or preferably purchase it.

Jonathan: How much does Leasey cost?

Brian: The advanced version, the one that we’ve been mainly talking about, is £50 in the UK. That is approximately, what, $66? Something like that.

Jonathan: What about if you are a Leasey 6 user, there is an upgrade fee, I think for Leasey 7?

Brian: Yes, there is. The cost of that is £25 which is probably about $37 US.

Jonathan: Can people order that now, or do they wait until the product is released to order?

Brian: No, people can order it now. As I say, I am very confident that within a few days of you hearing this, it will be available and plenty of people have pre-ordered it. Of course, as soon as it’s released, they will get an email to say, “Yes, it’s definitely available. You can go and get it right now.” Either is fine. You can either pre-order it now or wait until it comes out.

Jonathan: Well, I really appreciate you updating us on this. I just can’t tell you how much of a difference Leasey has made to my efficiency and productivity. It’s an absolutely fantastic product. By the way, I buy it like everybody else. [laughs] It’s just brilliant. I really appreciate the work that you’ve done on it. It’s great to catch up and find out what’s coming up in this forthcoming release.

Brian: Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity. I’m really glad that you’re using it as well. It’s good to get the feedback. I haven’t forgotten about your requested feature regarding RSS.

Jonathan: Yes, I don’t know if you wanted to talk about that or not. I’ve been having a chat to Brian about the idea that an RSS cloud-based service or two might be incorporated with Leasey so that people who read news extensively across devices, like I do, might be able to do that with a lot of efficiency because at the moment, really, if you’re a PC user, and you want to use your cloud service, the best way to do that is on the web. There are some downsides of going that way. I’m sure that’s a very big project, though.

Brian: It’s a very big project. We’ve got the existing RSS reader, which took me some time to get organized. Obviously, it has major disadvantages. I have looked into it. There is an API for a particular service. There is one hurdle that I don’t have expertise in resolving at the moment. We may need to buy in some services from somebody who knows a little bit more about it. That’s something that we’ve done before, so that’s fine, if that’s what we need to do. Yes, I would like to do that. I think, along with synchronization with the cloud on different machines for Leasey settings, I think that is something that we really need to be looking at.

Jonathan: Fantastic. We look forward to what happens in the future with Leasey, and we’ll have you back on the podcast to talk about it all. Thank you so much. Looking forward to Leasey 7.

Brian: Thank you very much, once again, Jonathan. I hope your listeners have a great rest of your day.

Ad: What’s on your mind? Send an email with a recording of your voice, or just write it down. Jonathan@mushroomfm.com, that’s J-O N-A-T-H-A-N@mushroomfm.com, or phone our listener line. The number in the United States is 864-60Mosen, that’s 864-606-6736.

Jonathan: Let’s go to Hungary and hear from Peter, who says, “Hi Jonathan, can you ask your audience about what is the simplest accessible voice recorder for Android. Of course, if you know the answer, no need to bother the listeners. There are countless voice recorder apps on Google Play, but I’m too old to try them all. I would like to install a free application where I only have to push a button to start recording and that’s it. The file should be saved on my phone and be available in Windows by connecting my Nokia G20 to the desktop computer. No, Nokia G20 does not come with a pre-installed voice recorder app. Thanks in advance for all good suggestions. My best wishes from Budapest.”

Well, Peter, I’m not going to ask my audience any such thing, because you’ve just done it. [chuckles] I just read your email. I hope somebody can help. It sounds like what you are describing is an app we have on iPhone called Just Press Record, and it does exactly this, so it’s available for the phone and the Apple Watch and you just install it, double-tap the button, you start recording and voila, thanks to the magic of iCloud, your recording appears on your windows computer without any fuss at all.

If there is such a beast for the iPhone, I’m sure there will be some sort of equivalent for Android. Whether you have to connect your phone physically and grab the recording, or maybe some sort of cloud-based syncing option is available through Dropbox or Google drive.

Having got the description, if you are an Android authority and you can help Peter with a good recorder, please be in touch with the answers with the recommendations. My email address is Jonathan that’s, J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N@mushroomfm.com. Attach an audio clip, so we don’t have to hear too much of my voice if you want, or you can write it down. You can also call the listener line in the United States. The number there, 864 60Mosen, 864-606-6736,

Rebecca Skipper writes. “I am sending in a Braille display for repair and I miss the days of the Braille N’ Speak and Braille Light M20. I loved using speech and Braille on a portable device that didn’t require the use of the internet. There were times when I’d like to use speech-only devices for portability. I don’t want to take a Braille display to a restaurant or to the beach. Use of speech can help users learn a new brow code or help them understand and use symbol.

Yes, we have screen readers like Voiceover and JAWS, but I do not like using Bluetooth with external keyboards because you can lose data if Bluetooth fails. Sometimes you just want to read notes or enjoy a good book offline and having the device with speech and Braille would be nice. Getting Braille displays connected to a computer can become complicated. I do not want to use my iPhone to store credit card numbers and all the reports suggesting that Braille on iOS is not reliable.”

Oh, and then the email just stops. I guess I was expecting more. I definitely understand why you wouldn’t want to take a Braille display to the beach. You don’t want to get sand in your Braille display. I would not be without my Braille display at a restaurant because often I can go online and get the menu and read the menu for myself. As somebody who’s hearing impaired, sometimes it can be quite difficult even if you get a cooperative waiter who is going to read the menu to you. I find it much easier to have my or display with me and read the menu myself and make my own choices. I never go to a restaurant without my Braille display, but to each their own, as they say.

It sounds like what you’re describing is a note-taker, like the BrailleNote or the BrailleSense. True they do have the internet, but look, the world’s connected to the internet these days. It’s going to be very difficult for you to find a device that has Braille and speech that isn’t connected to the internet. If somebody knows of such a thing, let us know.

Here’s Matthew who writes, “Hello, Jonathan, and all listeners of Mosen At Large, hope all is well. A few weeks ago, my brother helped our family install 1Password on our devices. I was super excited when he said he was going to help and immediately sent him your episode of your demoing the product.

Things are going smoothly with 1password, but I’m having a slight issue on Windows. Using NVDA, I can’t seem to access one password the same way you do. For example, using the keyboard command to bring up the dialogue, when in text fields, finding the app in the system tray, et cetera. would love your help if possible on this. I have tried the extension on edge, Chrome, and brave. I do have the app installed.”

Thanks, Matthew. I’m not an NVDA user, so I can’t comment on that. I doubt that it’s the screen reader that is the issue in this case. It does sound like you’ve either got the new browser-based 1Password installed, or you’ve got both installed, the new browser version and 1Password Classic. I think if you’ve got both installed, then the browser version takes precedence.

You want to make sure that the 1Password Classic app is installed, and that is the one that has a completely standalone app with its own menu bar. It does not run in your browser and that you have the browser extension for 1Password Classic installed in your chromium-based browser. It’s also available for Firefox as well. I think it’s called an add-on in Firefox land and that you don’t have any of the newer 1Password extensions, where everything happens and the browser installed. You want to make sure that that thing is gone.

I’m sure that 1Password support would be able to help you with this if you make it clear that what you want to end up with is the 1Password Classic experience, which in my view is a far better screen reader experience. As I’ve said recently, I really hope they don’t take it away.


Jonathan: I love to hear from you. If you have any comments you want to contribute to the show, drop me an email written down or with an audio attachment to Jonathan J O-N-A-T-H-A-N@mushroomfm.com. If you’d rather call in, use the listener line number in the United States, 864-606-6736.


Mosen At Large Podcast.

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