• Category Archives reviews
  • Windows 10s – A revolution for Accessibility

    Microsoft released the Surface laptop last week. As someone who absolutely loves the Surface Book, I’ve been following with interest the developments in the surface line. I’m not hugely blown away with the Surface Pro line but that’s a reflection of the state of touch screen access using screen readers more than the device itself. Physically, I think the surface pro is very nice to hold, powerful enough to run all standard productivity and development tools and durable enough to be used for both business and pleasure every day. The surface book however is the perfect computer. When relaxing on the bus on the way to and from work I can easily consume content but with this machine, an I7 with 16GB RAM and a 512GB solid state hard disk, I can just as easily run up a few virtual machines, Visual Studio 2017 and a suite of debug and analysis tools and it hardly breaks a swet. It’s perfectly comfortable to type on for 12 hours a day and the battery life is just brilliant. I sound like an advertisement for Surface Book which is fine. It’s easily the nicest laptop I’ve ever owned.

     

    The Surface Laptop doesn’t quite tick all the boxes for me but that’s a good thing at the moment. It is expensive. Maybe too expensive for most people but it’s what it represents that is important. The Surface line is aspirational. It’s expensive but it’s a product line that shows off the power of Windows. It’s Microsoft’s way of showing the world what can be done with devices that run Windows and as a result, PC manufacturers are following their lead. This means that although the Surface Laptop is at the higher end of the price scale, the introduction of Windows10S in parallel means that Microsoft partners are again following Microsoft’s example by releasing their own devices built on Windows 10S. This will mean lower prices for lower spec machines that although do less, still do more than a device like the iPad or Android tablet.

     

    What has all this got to do with accessibility for Blind people? The answer is unfortunately a bit long but please stick with me for a minute so I can explain. Because the result in a year or two could be huge if the current pace of change is retained.

     

    I love the Jaws screen reader for what I do every day. But for many people, all they need to use is a browser and Microsoft Office. I’m not sure if Jaws will be as compelling in the long term as it is right now for the average user with the recent developments in Narrator, the built in screen reader for Microsoft Windows. Not that I’m saying I could personally use Narrator every day. I think it’s still years behind Jaws but look at Voiceover, the built in screen reader for Apple’s OSX and IOS operating systems. It’s also years behind Jaws and it has quite a few bugs but yet, it’s probably the most popular screen reader in the world at the moment. It is highly likely that it has taken over from Jaws in terms of overall screen reader market

    share as more blind users have access to mobile devices than Windows PC’s I’m sure. Those same users might be happy paying $189 to $1200 for various specs of low powered laptops.

     

    For those of you who remember or paid any attention to Windows RT, this really isn’t that. From an accessibility perspective, Windows RT was completely unusable. But with Surface pro, Surface book, the surface studio and now the surface laptop, a blind user can turn it on, hit two buttons and get access to the core of the OS without a commercial screen reader. I bet Freedom scientific are very worried about this – and if they aren’t, they certainly should be.

     

    I’m talking to Microsoft in Ireland and the US every week at the moment about offers for education as that’s the area I’m now working in. I’m consistently delighted when they raise the topic of accessibility without being prompted. There’s a fella heading up the applications for children that includes Minecraft who is great at working on accessibility problems for many difficult areas.

     

    I think it’s a case of watch this space.

     

    I’m also putting my money where my mouth is. There’s an application called Whats up gold that isn’t working with Jaws at all at the moment. I’ve switched to narrator and Edge when using it as I get the best results. This should come as a huge shock for anyone related to the development of Jaws. It certainly shocks me. There are controls that Narrator is reading perfectly such as grid views, tree views and toolbars that Jaws isn’t even seeing in Chrome, Firefox or IE.

     

    I need Narrator to be more responsive and I’ve left feedback with Microsoft in relation to this so here’s hoping that it gets better. I can see myself using it more as time goes on unless Jaws gets a lot better for touch screen access.

     

    I travel a lot on busses so using the laptop isn’t always very comfortable. For that reason, I use a touch screen device such as my phone. I’d really like to be able to use my surface book more for consuming content on the go. If Narrator gives me this freedom first, then there will be no contest.

     

    This is coming from someone who has used Jaws as the primary screen reader for twenty years. So, I have a certain level of brand loyalty. So, the point I’m making is even with brand loyalty from a person who has used this software for 20 years, if Microsoft can take the lead, even I’ll switch. That should drive some serious innovation and changes in Jaws version 19. Because if someone like me will change over, someone who just uses a computer for browsing and Email will change much sooner.


  • A skype chat with Nicky Kealy discussing and exploring some of the latest tech news and events.

     

    | Open Player in New Window


    There is a lot happening in the tech world at the moment. Some good, some not so good and some that’s just very interesting.
    In this podcast we discuss:

    • Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft visited the ST. Patrick’s campus of DCU where I work a week ago. I got to speak to him briefly about accessibility and inclusion in education.
    • Elon Musk thinks we’ll be in mars by 2022. Do you agree? Is he a visionary or a mad man? All his efferts seem to be connected to autonomy and sustainable power so here’s hoping.Another organization Mars one thinks we’ll be ready by 2027. What do you think?
    • Speaking of self driving cars, we discuss the potential assistive technology requirements of a blind person using a self driving car.
    • Facebook’s Mark Zukkerburg was live for about half an hour yesterday while he was preparing dinner. Yet he had eighty three to eighty six thousand viewers. Why! How!
    • We discuss augmented reality and AI. Where could it be in 5 years.

    Listen to this tech review with special guest Nicky Kealy.
    Thanks to my special guest Nicky Kealy for helping with this podcast.


  • Script to delete Chrome cache on all PC’s listed in a text file

    Another problem that could be fixed with a script today. Moving machines and users to a different domain resulted in a problem for some people. Chrome is a very popular browser but a number of people have reported to support that Chrome takes a very long time to start and then open the first page after log in to windows.

    It was determined that deleting the cache directory from within the users Chrome application data folder resolved this.

    Waiting for every effected user to report the problem wouldn’t be a great course of action of course. It would be a lot better to proactively go after all Chrome installations and remove the cache directory.

    So that’s what I’ve done. The script does the following:

    1. Check to see if the computer is on the network by pinging it.
    2. List all the user directories in c:\users on each computer.
    3. Check to see if the Chrome cache directory exists.
    4. Deletes the cache directory.
    5. Logs the result including any encountered errors to a file called results.txt.

    I could have searched Active Directory directly of course but I want to be able to easily add and remove computers when needed. It also allows me to run the script on 10 computers to start off and ramp up to a few thousand by the end.

    It should go without saying that as the script uses the admin share, you need to have access to the workstations that you intend to administer.

    Option Explicit
    Const ForReading = 1
    Const ForAppending = 8
    Dim objFSO : Set objFSO = CreateObject(“Scripting.FileSystemObject”)
    Dim objFile : Set objFile = objFSO.OpenTextFile(“Z:\Scripts\Chrome cleanup\AccountingsectionComputers.txt”, ForReading, False)
    Dim objWriteFile : Set objWriteFile = objFSO.OpenTextFile(“Z:\Scripts\Chrome cleanup\Result.txt”, ForAppending)

    Do Until objFile.AtEndOfStream
    Dim strComputer : strComputer = Trim(objFile.ReadLine)
    If PingMachine(strComputer) Then
    ‘Computer is pinging
    Dim objFolder : Set objFolder = objFSO.GetFolder(“\\” & strComputer & “\c$\users\”)
    Dim strUserParentPath : Set strUserParentPath = objFolder.SubFolders
    Dim strUserFolder
    For Each strUserFolder in strUserParentPath
    Dim strRemoteBasePath : strRemoteBasePath = “\\” & strComputer & “\c$\users\” & strUserFolder.name & “\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cache”
    If objFSO.FolderExists(strRemoteBasePath) Then
    On Error Resume Next
    objFSO.DeleteFolder strRemoteBasePath, True
    If Err.Number = 0 Then
    objWriteFile.WriteLine strRemoteBasePath & vbTab & ” DELETE SUCCESSFUL”
    Else
    objWriteFile.WriteLine strRemoteBasePath & vbTab & ” DELETE FAILED: ” & Err.Number & ” ” & Err.Description
    End If
    On Error GoTo 0
    Else
    objWriteFile.WriteLine strRemoteBasePath & vbTab & ” FOLDER DOES NOT EXIST”
    End If
    Next
    Else
    objWriteFile.WriteLine strComputer & vbTab & ” PING FAILED”
    End If
    Loop
    objFile.Close

    Function PingMachine(device_name)
    PingMachine = False
    Dim colItems : Set colItems = GetObject(“winmgmts:root\cimv2”).ExecQuery _
    (“Select StatusCode from Win32_PingStatus Where Address = ‘” & device_name & “‘”)
    Dim objItem
    For Each objItem in colItems
    If objItem.StatusCode = 0 Then PingMachine = True
    Next
    End Function

    If there are other scripts that you would like to see, please let me know in the comments section.


  • The Apple Watch with Voiceover review – Day 7

    Someone made a comment a few days ago about the Apple Watch and specifically Voiceover that I found kind of interesting. She said that the Apple watch isn’t like a normal talking watch. A normal talking watch has very slow speech feedback and the volume is static. It also usually chimes before announcing the time to the world. An Apple Watch might not be as discrete but it has a coolness factor at the moment that slightly negates the annoying factor for people around me. I can only hope that lasts. Her point was that the Apple Watch speaks much faster because I have it configured at that speed and if I’m going into an environment that’s quieter I can set the volume of the speech appropriately so that while in a quiet meeting for example it doesn’t shout my notifications out to the world.

    In most reviews of the Apple Watch I’ve read that people get annoyed by the number of notifications. I have to say that I’m not annoyed by them at all. I find that I actually miss most of the notifications that come in to the Apple Watch. This is because the tap is so slight that unless I’m not busy I really won’t notice. The iPhone demands attention but the Apple Watch quietly asks for it.

    I’m a techy. I love all things techy therefore it’s a given that I’ll get to like the Apple Watch but I don’t love it. I don’t see myself feeling naked without the Apple Watch like I do when I forget my phone. Sorry. That’s not quite true. I don’t feel naked without my phone but I feel like I’m missing something important. The Apple Watch isn’t that important to me. Apple announced on Monday that Apple OS version 2 will be out in September or October. I’m really hoping they address the short comings I’ve outlined on this blog in the past week. I’ll be emailing accessibility@apple.com to make sure they are aware of my problems, complaints and annoyances. I can only hope that every other Voiceover user of the Apple Watch does the same thing. If people don’t tell Apple what they are doing wrong they really can’t expect them to fix the problems for the next release.


  • Apple Watch with voiceover review – Day 2

    Day two with the Apple watch was quite uneventful.

    I was working from home so I reached my standing goal and my activity goal but I didn’t get anywhere near reaching my exercise goal. I’m hoping today will be a little better.

    Because I was at home I also didn’t have any problem with being unable to hear the watch due to background noise.

    I spent some time before work learning more about it. I still haven’t figured out how to turn off the noises for Voiceover but I learned that I can increase and decrease the volume reasonably easy. Double tap the screen with two fingers then slide up or down. The problem that I’ve encountered however is that when you release your fingers from the screen the volume can go up or down a bit. It’s not very accurate. It’s also not all that efficient so it can’t be done in a hurry.

    I also noticed that in glances you can move through the items by using the scroll area at the bottom. This is much faster than flicking up and down and then double tapping on next or previous item.

    I’ve enabled digital crown navigation. This can be done by triple tapping with two fingers. I like this method of navigation. Especially for notifications. The problem I have encountered though is when you use it to quickly move down to the last control labelled dismiss voiceover doesn’t always tell you that you’re there. It feels like an unfinished feature.

    I looked through the manual yesterday to try to find a list of Voiceover gestures. I had no success. If they are in a manual, they are well hidden.

    I’m still very irritated by the watch constantly turning on when I move my hand. Obviously I use my hands for everything. Finding things, opening doors, typing, playing music, my guide dog etc. The watch has absolutely no awareness of this though and constantly turns on and off. Each time it turns on Voiceover plays a sound and speaks the time. The problem is, I like this feature but I’d prefer if it was more intelligent. The funny thing is, I’ve read other reviews of the Apple Watch that have complained that the wrist movement isn’t fluid enough. In other words when the reviewers moved their wrist the watch face doesn’t turn on. Maybe this is something Apple have rectified and as a result have made it over sensitive.

    I have liked getting the notifications on my wrist though. Especially for work. I don’t get over loaded so it’s nice to get the important things even when I’ve stepped away or I’m talking to someone.

    Speaking of stepping away, one of the draws of the Apple watch for me is the fitness and activity side of things. I know I need to be more active. This is showing me exactly how much more. It may not be as accurate as dedicated devices on the market but it’s accessible and it’s accurate enough to send me in the right direction.


  • The apple Watch with Voiceover – Day 1

    The Apple watch on my wristI ordered the Apple Watch a few days after it was officially available in April and it arrived yesterday, a bit sooner than I had expected.

    I had tried one in the Apple store in Belfast back in April but the demonstration models didn’t have the ability to enable Voiceover so my conclusion wasn’t definitive on if this was going to be a benefit or not. However, as I like all things techy, I decided to go and buy one regardless.

    I want these reviews to be comprehensive without being too long so let me jump right into it.

    Firstly, there is an offal lot of packaging. I don’t know how Apple is ticking its sustainability box when it has so many little bits of packaging around the watch. It came in a card board box. Inside this was a card board shell which suspended another card board box. Inside this was a plastic box with the watch in the middle. The watch was also wrapped in about four types of plastic from the outside of the box to the strap.

    Fortunately it had plenty of battery when I started with it. It wasn’t at 100% but it was probably around 90. I turned it on, successfully paired it with my phone and within a few minutes the Apple watch was talking and working well. It’s just as well it was a quick process as I got it into my hands at 7:35 and I had to be out by 7:50PM last night.

    The fact I had to go straight out after the watch was configured meant that I didn’t really give myself enough time to get even slightly comfortable with this new user interface. I knew how to check the time, get to glances, open notifications and move around applications but I hadn’t yet customized the watch face or installed the update to 1.01.

    On the up side, bringing the Apple Watch out straight away meant that it was thrown into a real life scenario right out of the box. I had to meet the rest of my family for a big event so the room that we were in was very noisy. This posed a challenge for the Apple Watch from the perspective of a Voiceover user. How do you gain the benefit of the apple watch as a discrete extension of your iPhone when you need to have the volume up so high that everyone in the room can hear it or you need to hold your arm close to your ear like someone doing a type of very weird salute? It was one of the reasons I have a lot of reservations about the Apple watch. I have always hated talking watches with a passion. Do I really want to use one?

    I’m in noisy environments a lot so I’ll explore this potential problem more as the days go on.

    The other problem I had was when we were eating. I’d move my arm and the watch would start talking. It’s very irritating but yet I see the benefit of this feature being enabled when I’m walking. Unfortunately there’s no quick way of disabling this that I know of however I must say that I haven’t bothered reading the manual yet. I probably should have read some of this by now but I generally only read the manual when all else fails.

    I got the opportunity to configure the watch a little more last night when I got back at 1AM. It seems easy enough to use.

    One complaint I have is that voiceover is far too sluggish. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s very slow to respond, it just means that it’s slower than the phone to respond to flicks and taps. This is probably an unfair comparison to make. The phone has a much more powerful processor but if the screen reader doesn’t respond instantly to gestures the user interface feels sluggish and the experience feels very cumbersome.

    I’m being harsh. This is the first version of the Apple Watch but for the price I’ve paid for it, I demand a certain standard. The Voiceover implementation doesn’t begin to live up to that standard.

    One of my plans when buying the Apple watch was to make my own watch face. This wouldn’t be a visual face, it would use the taptic engine to provide the time in a sequence of vibrations. Unfortunately Apple put a stop to my plan by restricting the development of watch faces.

    One very positive point to the Apple Watch is it is smaller and lighter than my TISSOT TOUCH SILEN-T watch.


  • A review of Divi and my company Computer Support Services

    I have been very neglectful of this site lately. I wish I could say that will all change but. Na, it won’t.

    Here’s a short enough post. It’s not the kind of post where I say “Hey, go look at my new site over here” but that is a very small part of it. I want to tell you about a WordPress theme called Divi. This is currently the latest offering from the Elegant themes provider and its well worth considering.

    However, before you launch in there and spend money on it, let me make you aware of some of the problems I encountered.

    Let me start by saying a huge thanks to Emma because without her regular visual perspective I wouldn’t have had a clue what was going wrong.

    Sliders

    • The placement of text in the slider is very hard to get right. A specific image dimension is probably required however this doesn’t seem to be noted anywhere in the documentation. To get around this, I had to assign a class to the text and set the top margin to a minus value.
    • It isn’t possible to place the sections at specific points on the page and they aren’t always at the top or directly below another section. Therefore, again, I had no choice but to associate some sections with a class and then set a minus value for the top margin.
    • When I tried instead to use an image as the background of a slide it seemed absolutely impossible to control the size of that slide.
    • Be careful with other modules that you have installed. If you have a conflicting slider you may find some very strange behaviour.
    • I also recommend that when making changes to the text within a slider that you copy it to notepad or another editor because a few times I wrote a fantastic slide description only for it to be lost because the page didn’t save properly.
    • Adding a button a header to the slider spaces it out far too much. I wanted a compact and clean slider for the top of the page. Not a full length animation.
    • Saving the biggest problem until last, the slider displays properly on tablets however not IOS or Android on phones.

    Setting backgrounds.

    • I was told at one stage that the site looked a little bland. To solve this, I decided to use a background gradient. Thanks to CSS3, this is well supported and with a few checks for specific browsers in the CSS it’s very easy to implement consistently. However, some modules support setting a background colour but some don’t. There doesn’t seem to be any generic configuration items for these modules. Again, I had to get around this by using a class and styling this class using CSS.
    • There are no properties for setting the background in the Divi EPanel options so again, this had to be done using CSS.
    • Instead of just having the ability to set text and background colours in some modules to either dark or light, I would rather an additional or advanced option that would allow someone to type the hex values.

    The header.

    • I wanted to do a few things with the header. A number of people commented that the logo is very small but there is no way of changing the dimensions of this. I looked in the CSS file but I really can’t find where it is specified.
    • I would also like to add a role over but I don’t find the CSS very easy to read. The role over would define what menu item the mouse is hovering over.

    The pricing table

    • This is a fantastic idea but it’s not really a table. Its several tables. Each price you add is actually an additional table. I needed Emma’s help quite a bit to get this looking properly and even now I’m not entirely happy with it.
    • Feedback that I have received has also been quite negative about this. Divi seems to grey or dim features that are unavailable for certain price plans but it’s not obvious to people what this dim or grey colour represents. A more graphical representation would be a lot better.

    Divi is a great theme but what it claims to do isn’t quite delivered yet. I’m hoping it will vastly improve in the next year or two but if you are considering it today, be warned you will have no choice but to tweak a lot of CSS before you get it working properly.


  • A blind person can use the Arduino. Just about.

    Continuing on with my Raspberry Pi and Arduino experimentation, I’ve been trying to get a few minutes here and there over the past two days. Christmas is always a very relaxing but very busy time for me. I’m spending time with family and friends and I try to do very little with technology considering I spend so much time in front of a computer during the rest of the year. This year is very different. It’s still as busy as ever but when I get a free moment, I can’t wait to jump back into the RP. RP from here on in will mean Raspberry Pi in case you’re not sure.

    Firstly, I had a few questions sent by Email after the last post. All of these questions are asked on the Raspberry Vi website but I’ll briefly give you a few answers here.

    1. Is Speakup supported?
      Technically, Speakup is supported by Raspbian but issues with the sound card integrated with the GPU on the device have caused a lot of problems in relation to software synthesis from ESpeak and other synthesizers. It may be possible to connect something like an Apollo2 to the RP via serial to get that talking. If someone wants to send me over a cable that will connect to the pins on the RP I’d be happy to try this.
    2. Is there any accessibility in the graphical environment?
      Raspbian uses the LXDE Window Display Manager. Orca works with Gnome and the KDE screen reader has a long way to go. Theoretically if Orca is running in LXDE and you start an application written using GDK Orca will work quite happily. However, it is worth remembering that the RP is a low power device. Even with a really good memory card at 96MB read and 92MB write speed the performance will not be nice to work with. My card is 45 write 48 read. Or something close to that.
    3. Is there sound output?
      Yes. Through the line out port and through HDMI if your television supports this.

    I think it’s important to understand that the Raspberry Pi is not meant to be a high power device. It is primarily a tool that should promote learning by children. For someone like me, it’s a low cost device that is really useful for experimentation. If I break it, it’s not the end of the world. If I cause the system not to boot it won’t take long to fix.

    The great thing for me is I have kind of fallen away from using Linux all that actively at home. I use it on servers a lot but I rarely use it for playing with Python or trying out new packages or configs.

    I bought an Arduino a year ago with the best intentions of trying out a few things that I had heard about with the added aim of getting involved with the local maker space. Unfortunately to my annoyance, the Arduino IDE wasn’t accessible to me as a screen reader user. This meant that the kit that I bought has gone on unused for far too long. Thanks to a really brilliant little tool that I found while casually looking around last week, I now have access to compile and upload to my Arduino.

    This tool is called Ino. It is exceptionally easy to use. The basic commands are

    Ino init Creates a new project.
    Ino build Compiles and creates the make file for your project.
    Ino upload Uploads the compiled project.
    Ino serial Displays the serial output from the Arduino.

    You need the Arduino package installed first as well as Python easy_install. There are also a few dependencies listed in the requirements.txt file that will need to be installed before the tool will work.

    The great thing is that it allows complete control of the Arduino without ever using the IDE. So, it can all be done using the console via SSH.

    All I’ve done so far is use a few sensors and lights to read from the serial port just to get started. I’ve used a few loops, called functions, used include files and set up a few checks using if statements. Nothing too complicated but it’s giving me a starting point. Thanks of course to Emma who is helping me with the very visual side of the Arduino. It’s not possible for me to wire up the board so I need sighted assistance to add new components.

    Of course, you would probably get some nice debugging tools using the IDE and the output from ino build isn’t great when it encounters a problem but so far, I’ve been able to debug it manually.

    The only terrible thing about the RP and the Arduino is it’s quite addictive when you get stuck into a project. I need to remember that I’ve an 11 week old baby fighting for my attention as well.


  • First time with the Raspberry Pi

    Thanks to Emma and her mother, Santy was very good to me this year. When they asked what to get the man who now has everything he wants, my answer was simple. A Raspberry Pi and a few things that will let me mess around with it.

    So, this morning I unwrapped a Raspberry Pi B model, a power supply, an extra-long USB cable for when I want to power it off my laptop, a case for the Raspberry Pi, a camera board and a case for that board. Yes. You read that. A camera board. I want to play around with motion detection, colour detection and generally interfacing with the real world through Python.

    First thing that struck me was the amount of tiny boxes. There were boxes for:

    • The Raspberry Pi board
    • The USB cable
    • The power supply
    • The camera board
    • The camera board case
    • The Raspberry pi case
    • The SD card

    The second thing that struck me was the tiny size of the Raspberry Pi and the camera board. The Raspberry Pi is no bigger than a credit card. Going from the shortest side with the USB ports facing you, you find from left to right, the LAN port and two USB ports. Turning the device around to the right so that the long edge is facing you, there is one composite port and one audio out port. Continuing this time on the next short edge, you find the SD card reader on the bottom of the board and a micro USB port used for powering the device to the right of this on the top of the board. Continuing on around to the next long edge you find the HDMI port. If your television supports this, audio will also be piped through this port. All the ports are on the top of the card and the card reader is on the bottom.

    The camera board is connected by a ribbon cable that is attached at one end to the board. The other end attaches onto the Raspberry Pi just behind the LAN and USB ports. Getting this lined up took sighted assistance from my wife I must admit. I probably could have done it with time but I think I might be getting a bit lazy where this kind of thing is concerned. You will agree with me if you see the camera board. It’s really tiny! The case that you can buy for it is very small as well. The camera goes in to the back. There are two very small place holders at the top that hold it in place. Their hard to find though.

    Putting on the case is very straight forward and didn’t require any sighted assistance at all. The only thing I would say here is that getting the four screws in was actually quite difficult. I’d be a reasonably strong person I think but it took a lot of strength to get those screws in. The other thing is, I’m glad that I have a screw driver set for fixing ultra-portable laptops as the screw heads wouldn’t have been compatible with a standard head. The only reason that I mention this is, the Raspberry Pi is meant to be a device that is usable by kids. Getting these screws in would definitely require adult assistance. Either that or last night’s Guinness had more of an impact than I thought.

    Preparing to boot it for the first time, I first had to download the Raspbian image to install it to the SD card. I had done this ahead of time by going to the downloads page on the Raspberry Pi website. That’s one of the best download pages I’ve seen actually. So clean and uncluttered and the Win32 disk imager software that I needed to install the Raspbian image onto the SD card was available as a link to make the process really straight forward. I wish I could say the same for the Disk imager site. It’s hosted by source forge, a website that I don’t particularly like. It’s full of pointless regions and the download link is very badly labelled. If you’re looking for the download, you’ll find it by searching for “download the unnamed link”. That’s no reflection on the Raspberry Pi of
    course. It’s just worth noting if your preparing to follow the same process I did.

    The Win32 disk imager archive is 5.41MB and the Raspbian image I downloaded is 783MB.

    I had read previously that the interface for Win32 disk imager was not accessible as it is written in QT and this was certainly the case for me. However, I was able to muddle through. Basic instructions might be useful for other screen readers so if you’re interested, give me a shout and I’ll write them up for you.

    When the disk imager process finished, I had a quick look at the SD card. In there, I found a config.txt file. Curiosity of course got the better of me so I went in and had a look. I found an overclocking option so I uncommented it. I had read in a few of the forums that it was safe to do this so I thought it was worth a shot. There was a link to the Raspberry Pi site at the end of the file but after skimming through the page for a moment I decided that I had enough to get started with. I’ll probably tweak this config file a little more when I’ve played around with the Raspberry Pi for a few days.

    Right. Now, Raspbian is installed onto the SD card, the case is together with the ribbon cable sticking out and attached to the camera, I have all the cables etc. that I’m going to need sitting to one side so all that’s left is to connect the tiny device to my television. I know the first set up screen isn’t accessible so I’ll need Emma’s help with it but after that, I’ll ensure SSH is enabled and get going.

    I’ve also bought a 7 port powered USB hub. The Raspberry Pi doesn’t have enough power to support many unpowered USB devices so when I’m connecting the Arduino to it I’ll need to give it a bit of a boost.

    Connecting the Raspberry Pi to the television and giving it power was absolutely no problem at all. Within a minute or two, the set up screen launched and with the assistance of Emma, my wife the system was configured in no time. A few things were a little unusual. For example, instead of selecting your keyboard layout, it wanted you to select the keyboard make and model. The localization screen was also a bit confusing. Over all, the configuration interface wasn’t as snappy or responsive as others that we have used but this is most likely as a result of the low processing power of this device.

    Of course, the first thing I changed was the user password. I also changed the hostname and checked for updates. Aside from that, oh, and increasing the partition size, there was nothing else I had to do.

    One thing I should have done right away was change the IP to a static address. I have DHCP on this network of course but when I plugged it in to one of the LAN ports in my office, the pi got a completely different IP for some reason. That’s really strange as usually my DHCP server recognises the Mac and continues to respect the lease. You wouldn’t believe how much time I wasted trying to figure out what note on my network the Raspberry Pi was. I have far too many things connected in this house so when it comes to trying to sift through DHCP logs it’s very cumbersome. I gave up and just set the address manually at the end of it.

    The first thing I did when I got connected via SSH was update the packages and the firmware. I’m surprised the start-up / configuration wizard didn’t do this automatically. It seemed logical that it would check for all available updates when the option to apply updates was available in the menu.

    After a few reboots and some testing, I’m now in a position where I can begin playing around with the pi. I’m really looking forward to this. I’ve read so much online and I’ve bought and read so many books on the subject in the past few weeks that I’m now really looking forward to getting my hands dirty.

    The first thing I’m going to do is get something working using the camera as a motion detection light bulb with This handy tutorial as a starting point.

    I didn’t use any of the information in this next site during my process of getting up and running with the Pi but I would like to commend their work. It’s people like them that continue to push accessibility forward and I would hope they are recognised for the work that they have done. Please look at the Raspberry Vi website for more details and to get involved. I learned of this project while searching on Google for any accessibility problems I may encounter.

    Finally, of course, I have to thank Emma and her mother. I’m into quite a few glasses of wine later but I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with this new toy today.