[athen] FW: [Access Technologist Higher Education Network] Apple Dabble ... getting to know you

Berkowitz, Daniel J djbrky at bu.edu
Fri Mar 3 09:28:08 PST 2006


Previous Posts on this Topic:

* Mac Attack ... or...

* Mac Attack ... part ii

* Mac Attack ... update

With the rising popularity of the iPod <http://www.apple.com/ipod/> , my
office <http://www.bu.edu/disability/> is witnessing an increase in the
number of students coming to campus with Apple computers. A few weeks
ago I had a conversation with IT about Mac access and this led to a meet
and greet with the campus Apple Rep. That conversation is detailed in a
previous blog post
<http://athenpro.blogspot.com/2006/02/mac-attack-part-ii.html> . He
promised to get me a loaner laptop and it arrived a couple of days ago.
I should disclose that the first personal computerI ever owned was a Mac
Performa 636 <http://www.lowendmac.com/quadra/q630.shtml> running OS
7.x <http://www.ilenesmachine.com/articles/gofishpart1.html> and I was
a Mac owner up until OS 8.5. Until landing at Boston University
<http://www.bu.edu/> I had been a dual user in previous jobs and had a
preference for the Mac. Two things have changed my point on view on this
matter - the first being my ever evolving access technology interests
tml> , experiences and responsibilities and the second being the upgrade
to Windows XP <http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/default.mspx> . For
the time being anyway I am a PC user with a preference for XP. This
could change, however, as the OS wars
<http://www.tuaw.com/2005/11/09/apple-gearing-up-for-os-war/> continue
to rage.

The laptop on loan is a 2005 15" PowerBook G4
<http://www.apple.com/powerbook/> with 1GB of RAM running OS X 10.4
Tiger. Clearing the cobwebs from my memory I spent the first day
reacquainting myself with this lovely metallic beauty. Two things struck
me immediately - (1) is the wide screen monitor and (2) is the almost
overwhelming amount of visual feedback presented by the system.

Wide Screen monitors are becoming more common and may eventually
supplant standard sized monitors on laptops [Business Week
<http://www.businessweek.com/search/podcasting.htm> has a good podcast
on this topic
10_4_05.mp3> ]. A problem for low vision users is that some
magnification programs for the PC may balk at magnifying the entire
screen. I'll likely discuss this in more detail later - for now I am
focusing my comments on E-Text.

I equate Macs with Eye-Candy <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_candy> .
This is not necessarily a bad thing and I understand why students enjoy
the bouncing icons, genie-in-a-bottle effects, detailed icons, display
options, etc. to the comparitively undynamic Windows desktop. Apples may
be not so good for the visually impaired and perhaps a bit distracting
for the ADD crowd, but were I a fair number of years younger I would
probably want one for myself.

Other differences, with which I will become more comfortable as I use
the laptop, include the manner of installing software, how files are
managed, task bar, wireless access, etc. Within minutes of starting it
up for the first time I was able to locate or install many of the
standard programs I prefer [Word, FireFox, Windows Media Player] and
install BU VPN <http://www.bu.edu/pcsc/vpn/> . In playing around with
the programs [hey - it's my job] I quickly realized that non-native
programs do not behave the same or work as well as native ones. For
example, Windows Media Player has the ability to adjust the speed
yFaster_how_to.aspx> on MP3 tracks - but not on the Mac version. I do
not find iTunes to be nearly as user friendly or flexible as WMP for a
variety of reasons I will discuss in greater detail on a later post.

Overall, most of the differences between Mac and Win are negligible and
a matter of taste. They can be overcome easily enough using Virtual PC
<http://www.microsoft.com/mac/products/virtualpc/virtualpc.aspx> - but
I do not know how this will impact access technology. That's something
else to investigate. One item I will mention - and which took me by
surprise - is the inability of the Mac to run portable applications
g.html> off a flash drive. I tried out both my RSS reader and
OpenOffice and the Mac would not recognize or allow either to run. I
have gotten both of these programs to work on a variety of Windows
machines (2000, ME, XP) and on a workstation running BU Linux
<http://linux.bu.edu/> - but not the Mac. I will try again after [if] I
get Virtual PC up and running. I was able to download OpenOffice
<http://porting.openoffice.org/mac/> and get it to run but it is
apparent that the Mac simply does not like it - kind of like the geeky
kid trying to hang with the cool crowd.

VoiceOver <http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/voiceover/> has
initially turned out to be a bit of a disappointment - I do need to work
with it some more. But what I thought was going to be a text to speech
offering is actually a self-voicing navigation device for the system and
not TTS. AccessWorld <http://www.afb.org/aw/main.asp> has a good review
of VoiceOver <http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw060505> as
does Ermin Nacor, a colleague at the SFSU Adaptive Technology Program
<http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~adaptive/> as part of a review of OS X
<http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~adaptive/osx-review.html> . I did try out the
'start speaking' option in TextEdit and found that nothing has chaged
since the last time I used a Mac. At least the 'speech' in Word for Mac
works to a minimal degree.

This weekend I will tackle my main goal - getting KatiePlayer
<http://www.kafkasdaytime.com/index.html> installed and running along
with the RFB&D upgrade <http://www.rfbd.org/katieplayer.htm> . Following
this will be some trials with Mac Access freeware/shareware
<http://www.specialink.com/mac.htm> .

Posted by D. Berkowitz to Access Technologist Higher Education Network
tml> at 3/03/2006 03:55:00 AM

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