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Adjusting Your PC Set-Up To Cope With Sudden Sight Loss 47

Posted by timothy
from the it's-spect-macular! dept.
Barence writes "PC Pro's Davey Winder has written a first-hand account of how he overhauled his PC workstation to cope with a sudden deterioration of his eyesight. Winder contracted wet macular degeneration, a progressive disease that strikes very quickly, and turns items in the field of vision into a grey smudge. He explains how he continued his work as a journalist by changing his word processor, swapping his desktop monitor for a touchscreen, and by replacing his keyboard with an Accuratus Monster keyboard (or Big Freaky Yellow Keyboard, as he's renamed it). He also explains why he had to swap his favourite Chrome browser for Internet Explorer, and how a £3.99 iPhone app saved him from spending hundreds of pounds on a dedicated hardware reader."
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Adjusting Your PC Set-Up To Cope With Sudden Sight Loss

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  • by dtmos (447842) * on Thursday June 14, 2012 @11:38AM (#40323211)

    The thing that surprised me most about TFA was that the author was able to find some feature that wasn't in MS Word. It always seems to have every feature known to man, except the feature I want, when I use it.

    Look for Fookes Software [notetab.com] to be purchased any day now. . . .

    • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @11:58AM (#40323445) Journal

      Except for separating content from presentation [wikipedia.org]. That would be particularly important for this guy, as he could make things as big and ugly as he needs to for his poor eyesight, and still produce an attractive final document.

      • by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @12:12PM (#40323565) Homepage
        I'm not sure what kind of journalist he is (has his own blog, writes for some major paper, etc.) but I would think for the most part, using MS word wouldn't be the best choice for a journalist anyway. The article is most likely going to be edited and reformatted anyway when printed, so there's no point in do any formatting at all, especially not by the journalist.
        • by Luckyo (1726890) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @12:42PM (#40323897)

          By far the best and borderline mandatory. In addition to features, the most important thing to a freelancer is compatibility. If openoffice et al botches formatting a bit and the editor you're sending your article for review finds an unreadable mess, you can stand to lose several times worth of office's price in lost income.

          Which is simply not worth the risk.

          • by Loosifur (954968) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @01:17PM (#40324467)

            This all day. I'm a freelance writer, and I couldn't live without Word. I don't know how it is in other parts of the world, but I've only ever worked for American clients, and, aside from one who wanted RTFs, they all want DOC or DOCX. I used OOo for a little bit out of a combination of contrariness and poverty, and I remember spending too much time wrestling with formatting, and then losing all the formatting when I saved it as a DOC file.

            And I don't know if this applies universally, but the days of a room full of typesetters are long gone. Yeah, your copy is going to be formatted by a copy editor or layout editor if you're working with a fairly large publisher, but they still want it to be as close to their end formatting as possible. They'll be using InDesign or Quark to do the layout, or they'll have some CMS that they use for online. In either case, they'll be expecting a standard format so that there are no hiccups when it's imported.

            And, particularly if you're freelance, the editing is going to be removing text and some light formatting. If they've got to spend more than two minutes proofreading, they're not buying your piece. Which means they'll expect a standard format (Times, Courier, or sometimes Arial, 12 pt, double-spaced, 1" margins) so they can breeze through it, and they'll want a DOC file so that their copy of Word will open it without any issues. Because I guarantee you they'll be using Word 2003, or maybe 2007 if they had a really good couple of years.

      • Except for separating content from presentation [wikipedia.org]. That would be particularly important for this guy, as he could make things as big and ugly as he needs to for his poor eyesight, and still produce an attractive final document.

        File
        Options
        Advanced
        Use draft font in Draft and Outline views
        Set to whatever font and size you want.
        OK
        View
        Draft
        Page Width

    • by jonadab (583620)
      > the author was able to find some feature that wasn't in MS Word

      There are a lot of features that aren't in word. Even such basic things as grouping-symbol matching and sexp-based navigation, which Emacs users have taken for granted since the days before WYSIWYG, are completely absent.

      However, the author is obviously a rank amateur when it comes to customizing a computer, and it would have been possible for him to continue using Word (or OpenOffice.org for that matter) if he'd had a better idea what he
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Always check your router if you can't get to a sight !!

  • a £3.99 iPhone app saved him from spending hundreds of pounds on a dedicated hardware reader.

    The iphone app will be £99 now

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No, the app will be pulled from the app store. Learn your Apple insults.

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        No, the app will be pulled from the app store. Learn your Apple insults.

        That's not an insult. It's probably true. Apple will decide to implement the feature in iOS9, so they'll pull it now.

    • Fortunately, he'd already spent hundreds of pounds on the hardware device that ran the app.

  • by Qzukk (229616) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @11:43AM (#40323297) Journal

    This particular editor allows me to also quickly increase the size of the text to something easily visible (which for me is 20pt or more) without any of these display-only factors impacting upon the printed document or actual file copy.

    Yet another argument for separating them.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Yet another argument for ye olden days method. I use vim, I have my terminal set the way I like and it does not impact what content is actually in the file.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @11:58AM (#40323439)

    (MY GOD this is an ad-heavy site. Every page pops-up a sale pitch. Also it's making IE9 act wonky.)

    NoteTab Pro - Because unlike MS Word, he can use bright yellow text against a dark blue background

    Gmail - the mail display density could be set to âoecomfortableâ, which spaces each item further apart within ruled lines with High Contrast Scheme for radioactive green text on a black background

    IE9 - Because it has a touch interface. "It isnâ(TM)t that Chrome doesnâ(TM)t support touch, but itâ(TM)s slower to respond and not everything seems to work â" with IE9, it just does." (I wonder if some other browser might have better touch support, like Opera? Or Firefox?)

    "I wear a pirate-style eye patch for reading, writing and watching TV, to prevent the ghosting and distortion of the right eye being processed into what I see with both eyes. Iâ(TM)m constantly exploring what applications and hardware can do to make my life easier. And Iâ(TM)m far from alone in having a touch of the Mr Magoo about me, so maybe itâ(TM)s about time that developers started taking the problem a little more seriously?"

    • by arikol (728226)

      Would mod parent up, good summary of the salient points of the article.

      I have the same question re: browser selection.
      I've used Opera, which allows the user to make custom viewing modes and switch between "author mode" and "user mode" (User defined mode or a selection of predefined style sheets) at the touch of a button.

    • by westlake (615356)

      "It isnÃ(TM)t that Chrome doesnÃ(TM)t support touch, but itÃ(TM)s slower to respond and not everything seems to work Ã" with IE9, it just does."
      IÃ(TM)m constantly exploring what applications and hardware can do to make my life easier. And IÃ(TM)m far from alone in having a touch of the Mr Magoo about me, so maybe itÃ(TM)s about time that developers started taking the problem a little more seriously?"

      When will Slashdot support cut & paste?

      • by jimicus (737525)

        It's not cut & paste, it's a character map difference. Those A(TM)'s are almost certainly smart quotes.

        • by westlake (615356)

          It's not cut & paste, it's a character map difference. Those A(TM)'s are almost certainly smart quotes.

          Of course they are.

          But you'll see the same problem whenever you try to post a quote to Slashdot that uses an em dash or almost any other special character or symbol in common use.

    • NoteTab Pro - Because unlike MS Word, he can use bright yellow text against a dark blue background

      You can change the background color and text color in Word - this is a total non-issue you brought up.

      http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/change-background-colors-images-or-text-in-a-document-HP005233746.aspx [microsoft.com]
      http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/powerpoint-help/change-the-color-of-text-HA010338280.aspx?CTT=1 [microsoft.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm rather surprised that he needed to replace the keyboard, given that he's a journalist and should know how to type without looking at it.

    I would only replace a keyboard if I lost fingers or a hand - certainly not from going blind.

  • High Contrast Modes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2012 @12:18PM (#40323631)

    I had an a macro-aneurysm in my left eye which left a smudge caused by congealed blood which the ophalmologist told me might be permanent.

    I tried various high-contrast settings in Windows (for work) and Ubuntu at home. I was astonished at how bad most of these modes really are when you need them. There always seems to be an application which insists on having dark text even when the system window colour is dark. Visual Studio is pretty poor in HC, quite a few of the dialogues were unreadable no matter what setting I tweaked. You don't appreciate usability until you really need it, and at some point most of us will.

  • I want my Ixian eyes *now*, damnit!
  • OS X has a built in screen reader for those with visual impairments VoiceOver. The quality of this built-in software is better then expensive commercial software that needs to be added into Windows OS.

    I iPhones have the the same VoiceOver visual impairment feature. Heard it works well but no personal experience here.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The blind contestant on the current season of Masterchef is very active on Twitter. She tweeted yesterday that she can do this because Apple products have built-in screen reading capability.

  • I can't even close the Verisign pop up ad to RTFA with Chrome...
  • Growing up with my parents they knew if they saw monitor light under the door I was still awake. I quickly learned to use the computer with the monitor turned off with simply keyboard shortcuts and no audio cues such as VoiceOver.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hello, I have a very similar disease (Best disease, a genetic degenerative maculopathy).
    Degeneration is slower than the one mentioned by the author, but the outcome is pretty much the same.

    I use my PC about 10-12 hours a day and yes, I do have a lot of difficulties as I work in the BI domain and I code in different languages.

    My preferred solution is to use Linux Ubuntu, it's easy to set bigger fonts everywhere and Compiz with its zoom functionality really helps.
    I have two physical screens (23 " each) on my

  • "PC Pro's Davey Winder has written a first-hand account of how he overhauled his PC workstation to cope with a sudden deterioration of his eyesight .. He also explains why he had to swap his favourite Chrome browser for Internet Explorer"

    That wasn't entirely necessary, ctrl | + or ctrl | mouse-wheel-up zooms in quite all-right, works on Firefox and Chrome, and you can set the default font size in either.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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