Posts filed under 'Improving Technologies'

Fixing Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11/11.5 and Windows 8

I recently upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 8. It was a smooth process and everything on my Lenovo T410 laptop is working well. I’m enjoying the design, speed and features of Windows 8 but found very quickly that Dragon NaturallySpeaking (in my case version 11 updated to 11.5) would not allow me to open voice profiles.  This was a problem but easy to fix.

I was getting the message ”User files you have selected cannot be accessed” error when I attempted to open a user profile. This is a permissions problem and can fixed very quickly.

  1. Open Windows Explorer and navigate to your local disk (usually C:)
  2. Go to View and select “Hidden Items”
  3. Open the (usually hidden) ProgramData folder
  4. Open the Nuance folder and then DragonSpeaking11 (or whatever version you are using)
  5. Right-click on the Users folder and select Properties
  6. Select the Security tab and click on your user name (the one with which you log into Windows)
  7. Put a tick in  the ‘Allow’ box next to the Full Control option
  8. Click on OK and close any other windows you opened (you may wish to reset Windows Explorer’s default Hidden Files setting)

Dragon NaturallySpeaking should now work. Ta da!

Add comment November 1st, 2012

Video of Windows 7 On Screen Keyboard

I’ve spent part of today making this video demonstrating the new features of the Windows 7 on-screen keyboard. Try to ignore the mystery mouse cursor floating around the middle of screen.

Add comment December 18th, 2008

Windows 7 to include improved on-screen keyboard

Windows 7 OSKHurray! The up-coming new version of Windows (Windows 7) will include an improved version of the existing, free on-screen keyboard found in Windows XP. I haven’t personally seen it yet but I have heard that it is now:

  • Completely resizable
  • Has a ‘refreshed’ modern look
  • Has built-in prediction
  • Supports switch scanning access

If anyone has a beta copy of Windows 7 then I’d appreciate some feedback on the new Windows 7 OSK. When I get my copy I’ll be sure to update this post

Apparently the new Windows 7 operating system is expected to ship before Christmas 2009. What’s more it’ll run on most computers that are currently capable of running Windows Vista and possibly even a little faster.


DOSKEdit: Just thought I’d quickly add that it is possible to resize the Windows XP on-screen keyboard using my free little utility that will also dock it up against any program to avoid overlapping.

Download DOSK for free!

2 comments December 17th, 2008

Resize the XP On-Screen Keyboard

A screenshot of the resized OSK

Back in 2005 I wrote a little utility that allowed people to resize to the Windows XP On-Screen Keyboard (OSK). This is now available as a free download from the XP OSK page on my website.

Be warned that this utility was never built to be distributed to other people!

Add comment November 28th, 2007

Screen Tinter Lite

I’ve been recommending Screen Tinter Lite to people for a couple of years now. The program provides a rapid and easy way to change the Windows colour scheme. It’s far easier than trying to get to grips with the Windows Control Panel.

Screen Tinter Lite

Screen Tinter Lite quickly changes the colour scheme in most programs, including Microsoft Word. Some programs require tweaking before they’ll listen to Screen Tinter Lite and because of this I’ve created special colour tutorials for Internet Explorer 7, Adobe Reader and Firefox.

I often recommend Screen Tinter Lite to people with Scotopic Sensitivity and visual impairments but it’s a great tool for anyone who uses a computer as it can be used to reduce screen glare.

Add comment October 31st, 2007

Speech Recognition in Windows Vista and Office 2007

There’s a bit of confusion as to what has happened to the speech recognition element of Microsoft Office 2007.

Speech recognition was first introduced by Microsoft as a feature of Office XP in 2001. An improved version was then included with Microsoft Office 2003. It has been removed from the latest release, Office 2007, and is now part of Windows Vista.


Speech recognition has been ‘promoted’ to become part of Windows Vista – Microsoft’s latest operating system. This means that the feature can be used across all compatible Windows applications and makes it a real competitor for Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

If you are using Windows XP and you upgrade to Office 2007 you will lose the speech recognition feature. If you are determined to use Office 2007 then you must have a computer running Windows Vista to carry on using speech recognition. Unless, of course, you install a third-party solution such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking or IBM ViaVoice.

Further information on using speech recognition in Windows Vista will shortly appear on this blog.

Speech Recognition is often incorrectly known as Voice Recognition.

3 comments May 9th, 2007

US Schools Drop Laptops

“After seven years, there was literally no evidence it had any impact on student achievement — none.”

So the idea that a laptop for every child improves their education turned out not to be true. At least that’s what they’re finding in America, according to an article published in the New York Times today.

“Laptops had been abused by students, did not fit into lesson plans, and showed little, if any, measurable effect on grades and test scores.”

The biggest problem seems to be that pupils are using their laptops in class to play games and as a portal to the Internet’s collection of exam answers, sample essays, social networking and pornography. When institutions attempt to apply security to stop this the students simply hack their way around and then tell everyone else how to do the same.

In my opinion the problem is not the laptop, it’s the software. Or to be more specific: it’s Microsoft’s fault for believing that Windows is the best solution for every environment. It’s not. Someone in the public sector could easily knock up an operating system specifically designed for use in schools that’s flexible enough for teachers to create innovative activities but doesn’t have the built-in ability to access the wider Internet or gaming. There’s no hack around that.

Plus wouldn’t it be a bit cheaper?

Read NY Times Article

Add comment May 4th, 2007

Single Switch Access to Firefox

The newly developed Hawking Toolbar is a free, open source plugin for the Firefox web browser that makes possible single-switch access to the internet through an autoscan. It also provides group scanning, which makes the process much more efficient, and switch access to page scrolling and the most common browser features, making it useful for two-switch users as well.

Many thanks to Linda Wilson who notified me that this was missing from my original Switch Access to the Internet article.

Read more about the Hawking Toolbar.
Find out more about switch access.

1 comment April 20th, 2007

Resolution Independence in Leopard & Vista

This accompanies a new article on the main bltt site.

Resolution Independence sounds like a complex term but its introduction could make computers significantly more accessible to many people with a variety of disabilities.

It allows text and graphical elements to be easily resized without affecting the layout or clarity of the items. This means that elements can be made larger and therefore accessible to people with visual impairment. Large items, such as buttons, icons and menus, are also easier for people with physical difficulties to target using their trackball, joystick or other pointing device. Many people with learning difficulties also find less cluttered displays with larger elements easier to understand.

Windows Vista includes a graphics engine that supports Resolution Independence but Windows itself is still (mostly) tied to the pixel grid.

The forthcoming Apple OS X 10.5 Leopard is to include resolution independence and, apparantly, will use it. Release date is rumoured to be around Spring 2007.

Read further information on Resolution Independence on the bltt.org site.

Add comment March 30th, 2007

New Search for BLTT

A new search engine, powered by Google, has been added to the Better Living Through Technology website.

The previous ksearch search engine was limited as it needed to be constantly updated.

You can try the new search engine immediately from the front page of the BLTT website.

Add comment February 22nd, 2007

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