[athen] Apple Dabble ... KatiePlayer for DAISY

Berkowitz, Daniel J djbrky at bu.edu
Mon Mar 6 10:39:53 PST 2006

Guess what I did this weekend ... here is the next post in what is
becoming a full time job - Learning about accessibility for the Mac.

The reason for this series of posts is to learn about and achieve DAISY
<http://www.daisy.org/> access on a Mac running OS X. The machine being
used for this trial is a 2005 15" PowerBook G4
<http://www.apple.com/powerbook/> with 1GB of RAM running OS X 10.4
Tiger. At present there is only one DAISY playback software product for
the Mac - KatiePlayer <http://www.kafkasdaytime.com/> which is produced
by the oddly named KafkasDaytime. Much to my consternation, a search for
reviews, articles, user feedback, etc. on this prodect did not turn up
much - and what I did find was not very helpful.

* 2004 NFB Review of DTB Players [.doc format
<http://www.nfbnet.org/reviews.doc> - see document pages 38-40].
Bearing in mind this review is of an earlier version of KatiePlayer and
by association, an earlier version of MAC OS which did not include
VoiceOver <http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/voiceover/> , thus
making installation and usage quite difficult.

* 2005 conversation from the European Accessible Information
=20&forum=19> forum. Much of the thread is written by the Joseph
Woodill [head of KafkasDaytime?] and provides the development history of
the product as well as recognition that the current version is not as
complete as the company envisions - including a link to limitations of
the current version
ions.html> . The company is well aware of these [and other] issues and
made a conscious business decision to release the product in its current

* 2006 post from the KatieBlog
<http://www.kafkasdaytime.com/katieblog.html> detailing what they are
developing for the next release
.html> .

* The company is very cognizant of the need for more trials
.html> and is actively seeking feedback and field testers.

The on-line manual
<http://www.kafkasdaytime.com/katieplayer/x_public/help/home.html> for
KatiePlayer is difficult to navigate as it is broken up into small and
somewhat disjointed sections. The index page leads to what appears to be
a dead link
index.html> - but that is the case only in IE and Maxthon
<http://www.maxthon.com/> on Windows. The index page opens fine in
Safari [Mac] and Firefox [Mac and PC]. The FAQ Page
<http://www.kafkasdaytime.com/katieplayer/x_public/help/faq.html> is
quite useful and informative.

Installing the software
tml> is not as easy as I expected - but that could also be due to my
lack of experience with Macs. The programs are only available on-line
through the company website and involve downloading the product,
registering after installation, and awaiting eMail confirmation of
payment for a code to unlock the program. I opted for the Basic License
tml> as that is what my students will most likely be using. The install
process is not too different than that used by RFB&D to unlock their
software for accessing AudioPlus
<https://custhub.rfbd.org/AudioPlusDescription.html> content. Speaking
of which, installing the RFB&D overlay
<http://www.kafkasdaytime.com/rfbdwelcome.html> involves a twenty-two
(22) step process that is quite easy to screw-up [as I learned
firsthand]. Fortunately the Mac is a very forgiving machine and I have
ample experience with the RFB&D installation process for various Windows
software products <https://custhub.rfbd.org/SearchPlaybackDevices.asp> .

Post-installation and pre-use I explored the KatiePlayer Help
1b.htm> on-line. I recommend taking the time to view the series of
QuickTime movies
provided on the site - keeping in mind that they are in need of
updating. What you will find in both the videos and in actual use is
that the Speech Guide [audio-navigation] controls - which appear to be
VoiceOver integrated - are far more developed than the rest of the
program. You can control the volume, rate, and pitch of the navigation
controls but NOT the actual DTB playback thus making things a bit
backwards. I installed a typical RFB&D book with 350+ pages. Loading the
book was pretty straightforward and anyone with experience using other
RFB&D DAISY players should have little difficulty in getting the hang of
the basic program functions. Reviewing the manual
index.html> and watching the videos
before attempting any of this is recommended.

Here are my notes on player operation using an RFB&D Digital book:

* The current version lacks the ability to control playback
speed and thus is only slightly better than simply listening to well
labeled and organized mp3 files - except for the fact that this [or
another software] is necessary to access RFB&D titles.

* Page navigation
v.html> is frustrating at best. I followed the instructions to the
letter in an attempt to jump around the book and sometimes it work and
sometimes it didn't. Unfortunately, the headers and pages numbers do not
appear in what one would assume is the navigation window. Basic visual
navigation is inexplicably missing.
It could be the software, computer, RFB&D disc or some combination of
the three but the time delay while searching/navigating was much longer
than what I have become accustomed to with a Windows PC running a
comparable program.

* The bookmarking features seems to work pretty well and
provides a visual list of what has been saved but - in an unusual twist
on the norm - pointing and clicking with the mouse does not allow
navigation to saved bookmarks and users have to use keyboard commands.

* The fast-forward and reverse buttons seem to be random in
operation - sometimes skipping three pages and sometimes one. This could
be a result of the RFB&D indexing. Regardless, the time spent waiting
for the navigation to finish could be better spent if the ability to
adjust the audio speed is included in the next release.

* Aside from the expected controls [play, pause, header level,
location slider, etc.] there is one called page spanner which [according
to the manual] "provides a visual reference - showing (with vertical
white markers) where pages occur in the currently selected audio file".
Though a nice idea - the spanner visual element is simply too small to
be of any practical use.

* The "where am I?
i.html> " function seems to be the most user-friendly feature in the

The next trial was to get KatiePlayer to play a DTB 2.02 created
in-house using Dolphin EasePublisher. This was a very short trial as the
program did not [and apparently will not] recognize any DTB other than
those produced by RFB&D and Bookshare. I did attempt every configuration
of saving a DTB file to disc and flashdrive and nothing worked. I could
not find any information on the company website regarding access to or
proper configuration for in-house production. I was able to use both
iTunes and the Mac version of Windows Media Player to access the mp3
files within the DTB book folder. However, as I noted in a previous post
tml> , 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.

In it present configuration, KatiePlayer is not a program for the blind
- and extreme low vision users would have difficulty using it even with
VoiceOver and the Macintosh Accessibility
<http://www.apple.com/accessibility/> Features. Like most of what I
have learned about the Mac, users need to be able to see what they are
doing. It's inability to play DTB files created in-house severely limits
its appeal. Until the company releases the next version, I am simply
going to loan Mac users a portable player
<https://custhub.rfbd.org/SearchPlaybackDevices.asp> such as Victor
Vibe or Telex Scholar. At least that way I will know they can access any
DTB's they are provided.

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