Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

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

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the it's-spect-macular! dept.

Displays 47

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."

cancel ×

47 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

My biggest surprise (5, Funny)

dtmos (447842) | more than 2 years ago | (#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. . . .

Re:My biggest surprise (4, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40323445)

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.

Re:My biggest surprise (3, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40323565)

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.

Re:My biggest surprise (3, Interesting)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:My biggest surprise (4, Insightful)

Loosifur (954968) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:My biggest surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40324011)

"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."

Are you under the impression that printers, layouters, typesetters etc still work in the newspaper business?
Did you read any newspaper lately? They look like crap, it's about time the rest of them disappears.

Re:My biggest surprise (0)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#40324533)

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

Re:My biggest surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40327615)

Except that word has always supported that.

In this case, it's not a problem as he appears to be able to submit plain text articles, but this would be my workflow in word:
Select my "big and ugly" style.
Apply Heading, Paragraph etc. formats to text as I write.
Once I'm all done and ready to submit, switch to "nice and pretty" style, and send off.

Just because word supports setting the font/size/line spacing on a per character basis doesn't mean you have to use it like that. It does support marking up with content type markers, and they generally make life easier (table of contents generated automatically from Heading formats etc...)

On the subject of the original article, having plans or even vague ideas as to how to continue your career in the event of an accident/illness is a good idea. The writer certainly didn't do himself any favours by not learning how to touch-type during the 20 years he made his career out of writing on a computer! I'm already making plans for when my eyes go as I'm pretty much guaranteed to lose my sight somehow (both parents have cataracts, one with 2 detached retinas and periodic styes requiring surgical removal, and a history of glaucoma on both sides). Fortunately, I'm a software engineer so as long as there are UI-less backend systems to develop, no-one else needs to see things the way I do. Pretty much any development environment can be customised for partial sight conditions, but I'm not sure about total sight loss. Anyone know of screen-readers that are suitable for coding? "Public void main open bracket string open square bracket close square bracket args close bracket open brace" could get pretty tedious!

Re:My biggest surprise (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 2 years ago | (#40338953)

> 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 was doing. What he actually wanted was to turn Aero Glass the everliving badword off and set his system colors to something he could actually live with. Most modern word processors will adhere to the system colors as long as you don't specifically tell them to make the text (or background) another color. Thus, it can be #FFE6BC on #294D4A (or whatever you like) on your screen, but when you hit print it still comes out black on white. I do this with OpenOffice.org all the time, and I imagine Word is very similar.

Web browsers can also be configured to behave in this way, although for some reason I can't fathom it's not the default. In Firefox, for example, Edit->Preferences->Content->Colors, make sure "Use system colors" is checked and "Allow pages to choose their own colors" is unchecked. Most browsers have this option, although finding it in the preferences is of course different for each. Quite frankly, I can't imagine browsing the web any other way. So many sites have such appallingly bad taste in colors, even for a person with normal vision, browsing with page-specified colors turned on is categorically unthinkable, as far as I'm concerned. I mean, really, the most popular combination by far is... black text on a white background? Seriously? No fooling, the most popular colors are black on white? Can you say "eyestrain"? Why would anyone ever want that? Do they think we want to pretend we're back in the twentieth century using a sheet of paper instead of a screen, or what? I've never been willing to put up with page-specified colors and have always turned them off most of the time, even back in the days of Netscape 4.

One more tip: the article talks a lot about switching settings, so I guess I should mention that if you get the Web Developer toolbar, there's a convenient option to enable and disable page colors on the fly (plus options for enabling and disabling various other things), without needing to dig through the preferences each time. Although, the situations in which you want to turn page colors on are pretty rare in my experience, so maybe that's not a big deal.

CHECK ROUTER !! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40323241)

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

Re:CHECK ROUTER !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40323597)

Actually, that was reasonably funny, not offtopic.

In releated news (1, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#40323273)

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

The iphone app will be £99 now

Re:In releated news (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40323303)

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

Re:In releated news (0)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#40323345)

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.

Re:In releated news (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40323375)

LOL - Thanks for clearing that up, just in case there was any doubt that you're a moron.

Re:In releated news (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 2 years ago | (#40323975)

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

Presentation vs Content (2)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#40323297)

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.

Re:Presentation vs Content (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40323579)

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.

Re:Presentation vs Content (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40324285)

You know that you don't HAVE to use WYSIWYG in Word...

Two words... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40323307)

Retina Display.

Re:Two words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40323793)

With his eye problems, I guess even an old 320x200 screen would be considered a retina display.

List of Reasons he choose different programs (5, Informative)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#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?"

Re:List of Reasons he choose different programs (1)

arikol (728226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40323573)

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.

Re:List of Reasons he choose different programs (2)

westlake (615356) | more than 2 years ago | (#40323673)

"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?

Re:List of Reasons he choose different programs (2)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#40325481)

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

Re:List of Reasons he choose different programs (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 2 years ago | (#40331067)

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.

Re:List of Reasons he choose different programs (1)

philip.paradis (2580427) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346413)

This is a well known problem. Slashdot simply does not properly support Unicode.

Re:List of Reasons he choose different programs (2)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 2 years ago | (#40326339)

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]

Re:List of Reasons he choose different programs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40328081)

...It isnâ(TM)t that Chrome doesnâ(TM)t support touch, but itâ(TM)s...

Why do your comments have those crazy characters? Doesn't the OS you're using do copy and paste properly? Or are you trying to paste Unicode into your submission box?

Re:List of Reasons he choose different programs (2)

philip.paradis (2580427) | more than 2 years ago | (#40329961)

It's caused by Slashdot's failure to handle Unicode properly, a problem I don't expect will ever be fixed.

Journalist who can't type properly. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40323443)

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 (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Wavey Davey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40324277)

Wavey always seems to have something wrong with him. Last time I saw him in the mid 90s he was hobbling around London with a walking stick.

Come on already (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40325019)

I want my Ixian eyes *now*, damnit!

Get a Mac - Use VoiceOver (1)

esten (1024885) | more than 2 years ago | (#40325145)

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.

you're not visually impaired are you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40325763)

Heard it works well but no personal experience here.

You have no personal experience with an iPhone/iPod or are you just singing Apple's praises without having personal experience with being visually impaired?

The developer who wrote that "expensive commercial software that needs to be added into Windows OS" that you're putting down wrote it because he lost his sight in an accident (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JAWS_(screen_reader)#History [wikipedia.org] ) which gave him very good insight into what determines the "quality" of screen reader software. How many of the developers of Apple's VoiceOver product personally need it to use their computer?

Re:Get a Mac - Use VoiceOver (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40326085)

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 see why he needed to go to IE from Chrome... (2)

rullywowr (1831632) | more than 2 years ago | (#40325663)

I can't even close the Verisign pop up ad to RTFA with Chrome...

Turn the monitor off, practice keyboard shortcuts. (1)

NoName Studios (917186) | more than 2 years ago | (#40326501)

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.

Re:Turn the monitor off, practice keyboard shortcu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40328281)

Yeah, but what's the point of using a computer with no screen? As a glorified MP3 player?

Re:Turn the monitor off, practice keyboard shortcu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40329567)

Exactly.

If the prognosis is bleak, as in complete loss of vision soon, then get off screen all together. Start using terminal programs, like mutt, or even ed. Learn braille readers. There is always emacs too.

I know that it may not be the "ideal formats for the sighted" to work with, but they can deal with their format conversions on their own.

Going with vision aids is only good if you can see. If you go totally blind, then all these aids are completely useless and are not helping in the transition...

Same issue, different solutions (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40326953)

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 desk, which helps to mitigate the fact that using big fonts uses a lot of space.
I also use virtual screens a lot, where I "park" my email program and stuff I need to be handy, but I am not using it as a primary task.
Compiz top left "hot spot" allows me to switch between virtual screens extremely quickly (despite the fact that Unity tends to get in the way... well, I consider Unity a real nuisance in general)
Tried Orca (reads vocally the content of a window, a menu etc) and found it useless for a practical usage as the process is too slow, it's way faster to zoom in, read and zoom out again.

Blue background and yellow fonts are my favorite settings since Turbo Pascal 5 (20+ years ago), I never changed since then, so I use GEdit with that settings for pretty much everything (I code Java, C, SQL, HTML,Javascript etc in GEdit).

I really found touch screens not practical for my job, they are slow (a mouse travels much faster) and not precise enough.

Chrome as a browser does the job for me, it reacts way faster than other browsers when zooming in and out.

As a keyboard a common black keyboard is ok for me, once you know how to type, you don't need much to watch where you put your fingers I think.
On that regard, I found that software that accepts a command line (i.e. CAD systems) is way easier to use for me than use small icons I cannot properly see.

Guess the going blind myth is true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40327459)

This may prove invaluable, now Logitech needs to step up and develop a mouse for guys with progressively hairy palms.

Emacspeak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40329177)

Never heard anything but good things about Emacspeak [wikipedia.org] .

C T R L _ P L U S (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40330951)

B e t t e r _ u s e _ C T R L _ a n d _ t h e _ m o u s e w h e e l.

He had to swap to Internet Explorer? (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334257)

"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.

Get your eyes checked sooner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40347951)

Get our eyes checked as soon as something is "different." A couple of "black lines" similar to "floaters" and I was at the doctor the next day. I was at the ophthalmologist a few days later with a diagnosis of wet macular degeneration. Two weeks after I noticed something wrong, I was getting a stabilizing drug injected in my eye. A week later, I was undergoing laser treatment -- the two rounds of laser zaps, a total of 1100+, was far was than the shot.

Even reacting that quickly, it had been going on for a little while. Although I've lost some sight in that eye, the biggest issue is it's difficult to read normal-sized text. Luckily, the other eye is fine.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>