[BCAB] Technology reminiscence, was, Eureka!

Jackie Cairns jackie.cairnsplace at btinternet.com
Thu Feb 9 11:44:46 GMT 2012


Hi Gordon

Yes, Braille Writer is familiar, a real piece of trash if ever I saw one.
The roll that sat on it like, as you say, a cash register type paper, was
designed for sighted use if you needed to take something down, least that
was the idea.  In reality, it was a terrible machine, and I complained to
Manpower Services Commission, as they were known then, saying it wasn't up
to the job of "taking notes".  I made a convincing case, and they gave me a
Eureka, thank goodness.  Now I know its membrane was not good, but having
its external keyboard made such a difference.  The proprietor of the Braille
Writer was, let's just say, not very helpful either, and often turned up at
exhibitions "three sheets to the wind".

 


Kind Regards,

Jackie Cairns

-----Original Message-----
From: bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk]
On Behalf Of Luke, GORDON (Capita SI)
Sent: 08 February 2012 14:34
To: BCAB Discussion List
Subject: Re: [BCAB] Technology reminiscence, was, Eureka!

Hi Jackie

I think it was called the Braille Writer and somewhere at the back of a
cupboard I may still have one.  Was never really sure what the small printer
was for.  It produced pieces of paper like those you get from cash
registers.

When I started in this computer game I had an Opus III with a mighty 4.7 MHz
processor and a turbo button which increased its speed to 10 MHz.
Was never sure why you'd want it to run slower but the function was there.
I think I had Hal v3 and the predecessor of Lunar called EGA Soft Window.
The speech synthesiser was the one before Apollo but I forget its name.  As
I had more sight back then I managed to aquire a screen enlarger called
Vista made by Telelogic (I think).  To me it was a fabulous piece of kit and
never caused me any grief as the hardware was doing the enlargement so had
no latency both in DOS and Windows.
However it cost a bomb and never kept up with advances in graphics
technology so eventually was retired.

As with all things when we look back some of them were better but a lot were
just awful.

Cheers

Gordon Luke
Senior Systems Analyst
Systems Integration (L&P Applications & Testing)
 
Tel: 01732 429 044
Email: gordon.luke at capita.co.uk
Part of the Capita group www.capita.co.uk
 
P Think of the environment...please don't print this e-mail unless you
really need to.
 
-----Original Message-----
From: bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk
[mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Jackie Cairns
Sent: 08 February 2012 11:52
To: 'BCAB Discussion List'
Subject: Re: [BCAB] Technology reminiscence, was, Eureka!

I used Hal 5 and DOS until Dolphin brought out their dreadful version of Hal
For Windows.  I absolutely hated it, and used DOS on a Windows 95 machine
where there was a DOS prompt.  It wasn't quite the same, and you had to be
careful what you did in DOS on Windows 95, but we used it until 1999, when I
got sick and tired of Dolphin's updates that never made life easier in my
view.  So I'd heard of JAWS, and how much better it was in Windows.  In
those days, you could buy a 60-day timed evaluation of the full program.
We
did that and, within a week, rang S and S and bought the whole thing,
3.2 at
the time.  We never looked back.

Now I know, in fairness to Dolphin, that they've vastly improved their suite
of Windows programs and still have it over Freedom Scientific with a
combination of speech and magnification in the one program.

It's all come a long way that's for sure, and while nothing is perfect, I
guess we can do a lot more now than we could before.

I've enjoyed reading about some equipment I'd never heard of until this
thread.  Does anyone remember Pathway Communications and that dreadful piece
of rubbish Louis Woolfson brought out that preceded Jotta, but which I can't
remember the name of.  Manpower Services Commission bought one for me to use
at work.  It was a note-taker with a micro cassette on which to store files,
and it had a little roll of paper on it that I named the toilet roll, where
you could print off a note.


Kind Regards,

Jackie Cairns

-----Original Message-----
From: bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk
[mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk]
On Behalf Of Graham Page
Sent: 07 February 2012 16:20
To: 'BCAB Discussion List'
Subject: Re: [BCAB] Technology reminiscence, was, Eureka!

I remember working at action for blind people and writing improved
environment files to get word perfect working better than it did with the
supplied files from Dolphin.

Hal 4 was rubbish really because it only had monitor markers looking at one
character on the screen rather than being able to watch a whole window like
vocaleyes, jaws for dos or even Artic Business vision.

Hal 5 was an interesting program since I believe it remedied this problem
though writing environment files or whatever they were called by then was
much more complex and I never learned to do it before I started using
Windows at work in 1995.

Regards

Graham

-----Original Message-----
From: bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk
[mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk]
On Behalf Of Jackie Cairns
Sent: 07 February 2012 13:13
To: 'BCAB Discussion List'
Subject: Re: [BCAB] Technology reminiscence, was, Eureka!

Hi Nick

I must agree with you that Word Perfect 5.1 with Dolphin's Hal 4 and 5
worked superbly for me too, and it took me a long time to go over to Windows
full-time because of its proficiency.  I started off with the Apollo 1 synth
working with it, before I advanced to the Apollo 2.  Blimey the days of good
old DOS eh?


Kind Regards,

Jackie Cairns

-----Original Message-----
From: bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk
[mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk]
On Behalf Of Nick.Adamson at generaldynamics.uk.com
Sent: 07 February 2012 10:56
To: bcab at lists.bcab.org.uk
Subject: Re: [BCAB] Technology reminiscence, was, Eureka!

Wow, now you've got us started.
For me the best most reliable bit of kit I had was my first dos laptop.
It had hal for dos version 4, word perfect 5.1, which I don't think can yet
be beaten from an accessibility point of view and a dolphin speech synth on
a PCI card, used to know what it was called.
I had that laptop all the way through school. It never slowed down and I
never had to re install it. I got it around 1993 or 94 and the last time I
used it was for my GCSE's in 1998. I used to call it Fred.
I think it had a massive 4 MB of ram and possibly 50 MB hard disk.

Hardware wise I've got an Alva BCT 380 I bought 10 years ago which I'm still
using today every day. It was second hand then so goodness knows how old it
is. I'm guessing around 15 years or so.

I've also still got a dolphin Apollo synth sitting in my cupboard. This was
a wonderful hardware synth. I think its just about dead now, its been a few
years since I've tried to use it.

I've just ordered a voice sense through ATW. I'm looking forward to finding
out if modern AT hardware is as reliable as the stuff produced
15 years ago.

Thanks.
Nick.




Nick Adamson
Software Engineer

Advanced Projects and Technologies (AP&T)  
 
 General Dynamics United Kingdom Limited Bryn Brithdir, Oakdale Business
Park, Blackwood, South Wales, NP12 4AA

Telephone: +44 (0) 1495 236467
Email: Nick.Adamson at generaldynamics.uk.com
Website: www.generaldynamics.uk.com      

Please consider the environment before printing this email 
 

-----Original Message-----
From: bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk
[mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Jackie Cairns
Sent: Tuesday, 07 February 2012 10:40
To: 'BCAB Discussion List'
Subject: Re: [BCAB] Technology reminiscence, was, Eureka!

Hi Graham

Talking Teletext, as people who know me well, has been one of my favourite
pieces of kit since I got one in 1992.  For me, it's always been the
quickest way of finding out information.  By the time you load up your PC
and go to the page you want and scroll through all the links and other crap
to get to where you want to be on the Internet, you have the info from
Talking Teletext.  Once you learn that, for example, the football index is
on BBC page 302, the tennis and golf index are on BBC page 480, the news
index is on BBC page 102, etc, you are away and ahead of faffing around on
the Internet.  As a football and tennis fan, it's been right up my street!

I live in Northern Ireland, and I believe we are the last to be switched off
in October.  Of course, ITV Teletext went a couple of years back, so we are
really down to BBC now.

For me, it will be a sad day when I can no longer use mine.  I know not
everyone likes the voice, the Apollo one, but I've got used to it over the
years, and would still prefer it to Daniel.

I never got to see the Eureka version, but I heard it was good at the time.

My own Talking Teletext machine gave up the ghost some time ago, but I
acquired one through the Recycle It list which was in as good condition as
my original.

As this has become a thread of reminiscence, perhaps others would like to
say what their favourite piece of kit is, and what they got out of it.
When
I did my HND in Journalism, for example, I found Talking Teletext invaluable
as I had a program that meant I could save its pages and keep certain news
stories when researching them.  What do others miss, and what did you do
with your favourite piece of kit?


Kind Regards,

Jackie Cairns

-----Original Message-----
From: bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk
[mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk]
On Behalf Of Graham Page
Sent: 06 February 2012 14:23
To: 'BCAB Discussion List'
Subject: Re: [BCAB] Eureka!

Jackie, where roughly do you live?  My understanding is that all the analog
will be turned off by the end of this year so it's good bye talking
teletext.

I have got one as well and am wondering what to do with it.  maybe put it on
a bonfire on November the 5th.  It can go out in a blaze of glory and
horrible acrid smoke that only electronics can produce.

-----Original Message-----
From: bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk
[mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk]
On Behalf Of Jackie Cairns
Sent: 06 February 2012 13:52
To: 'BCAB Discussion List'
Subject: Re: [BCAB] Eureka!

Paul, I think George still has spares for Eureka, but whether they include
batteries is another matter.  Sadly, I never got to the Teletext unit.
By
the time we could afford it, they had changed something in it that didn't
work on Eureka properly any more, something like that anyway.  But when the
Portset Teletext machine came along, hey presto! It's still my favourite
piece of kit, and the quickest for finding out something like a tennis
result or football result.  Yes you need to know your way round the pages so
you can key in the exact numbers to obtain that info, but I've still got one
as the analogue signal is still with us here.

I wish there was somewhere we could send all this old kit, even as museum
pieces, and have an exhibition each year where we could go down memory lane
and pay something as an entrance fee to keep it going.  I think this kind of
idea has been discussed here before, but it would be great and better than
throwing out stuff that cost an arm and a leg at the time.  No change there
then! (smile).


Kind Regards,

Jackie Cairns

-----Original Message-----
From: bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk
[mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk]
On Behalf Of Paul David, the Wonder of Wembley
Sent: 06 February 2012 13:32
To: BCAB Discussion List
Subject: [BCAB] Eureka!

I still have mine, but the in-built battery has long ceased to function, so
if I put it onto the mains I can still do one or two things with it, but
otherwise it is of no use to me, even though it was upgraded to Professional
in 1995. The Teletext unit was pretty good, but of course it would not work
now in areas where analogue signal has been switched off, which will apply
here in London in April 2012. I used mine to download weather info from
Teletext every day, and even when I went on a 7-day swing to Bristol and
Basingstoke I was still able to pick up that weather info by linking the
Teletext unit to TV systems in those areas. I do agree with all the comments
about the voice, which was absolutely cheerless. 


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