[nabs] Change in plans for this month's student connection.
tyler at tysdomain.com
Sun Sep 4 15:21:55 EDT 2011
I don't know if this is the place to answer this, but you prompted this
essay with the question "What's wrong with notetakers?"
First, Notetakers have always been over priced. For example, I just took
apart an old Braille N' Speak the other day just to see what was in it.
The bottom of the case says "five-cell battery," so I was looking for
this 5-cell battery. It turns out that they meant it quite literally;
the battery is a grouping of double-a rechargeable batteries, something
you can get at wallmart for cheap. The difference here is that they
encased four of the batteries in a sort of plastic with presumably some
sauder between or something to keep them tightly connected, and they ran
a wire from the positive and negative ends to another battery. So in
short, it was basically a grouping of 5 double a rechargeable batteries
that anyone with at least a bit of electronics knowledge could've made
for $20, including wire and all, maybe a bit more.
The speaker would've cost maybe $2.5, at the most, and the motherboard
with the processor would've been fairly cheap. So what's the price for
this thing? $500 still, and this is more than a decade old.
Now, lets move on to the current notetakers. Lets start with the braille
plus. When I looked at this, it was over $5000 with the accessories and
docking station included. So what are you paying for. From what I
remember, it was running USB 1.0 (that was the cool thing back in 2000
or so), a cheap processor, and barely had enough ram to get by on. My
netbook I bought for $300 has way better hardware, and is less than 10%
of the cost.
Lets look at how it's made. The developers used Python for the main core
of this thing, which means that everything is running slower than it
could because not only are they using an interpreted language, but
they're using it on top of hardware that people thought was cool pre
Y2K. They wrote this on top of a modified Linux OS, which means that
they didn't even design the OS, and they want $5000 for it?
The braille note:
Looking at the voice note, since I don't want to get in to the topic of
braille displays, the apex is just over $2000, with the option to save
$100. Now, lets look at the hardware specs on this thing. 8 gb storage.
Yes, you read that right. Most laptops under $1k are coming with upwards
of 250 gb harddrives, but you get 8 gb. How does that work out? 256 MB
ram. Wow, that is amazing, again most computers come with 4 gb or more.
They boast the windows operating system, but they plastered a shell over
the top of it, so that end-users can't develop for the Windos OS, but
they have to use their API which is hard to get to write programs for
the braille note. Now I understand that computers have more space, but
lets look at this for a second. Even the overly-priced IPhones at retail
value are better than the braille note's specs, and they cost around
$900 or so.
The blind market is flooded with extremely over priced products, whose
specs and features can't compensate for the outragious prices we are
charged. Companies can give out hardware that was big back in 2000, and
the corporate and government sektors are still going to buy these things
up for their students, because as of now we don't really have anything
better. Granted now we have the IPhone and the android is coming up,
which I find awesome; I'm tired of using pre-historic hardware and
having to take out what some people paid for their first car to pay for
it. I hope that in the future IPhone and droid will become more popular
and hopefully eclipse the notetaker market.
On 9/4/2011 11:18 AM, Chase Crispin wrote:
> Hi All,
> There has been a change of plans for this month's Student Connection.
> As you may recall, I was going to do a show on access to educational
> materials. For various reasons, that show has been postponed until
> October. This month, I will be airing a segment from Main Menu about
> note takers. What are the options out there? What is wrong with the
> options out there now? What can and can't we do with Mainstream
> technology? Where and why is specialized technology needed? Where do
> we see specialized and mainstream devices going in the future?
> I realize that this is the second show that I have rebroadcast content
> on, and I do not plan on doing this often at all. I hope you will all
> accept my apology for this show. This piece on note takers has some
> very valuable information, especially for students, so I hope you will
> tune in and give it a listen. If you have any thoughts on note
> takers, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to share with me
> what technology you do and don't use in school, what you can't do
> with what you have, any thoughts on this topic can be shared with me
> and I will briefly talk about this in the October show. Beings the
> show on access to materials has been postponed until next month, you
> still have plenty of time to send me your thoughts, questions,
> suggestions, and stories about access to educational materials. I
> would really like to hear some stories of how you get around barriers
> and get access to your materials. What sources do you use? What
> challenges do you still face? I will go through all the feedback that
> I receive on the air, and bring up some of your opinions, thoughts,
> and questions with the guests on next month's show.
> You can send in feedback about note takers and technology in school,
> thoughts, questions, and stories about access to educational
> materials, and any feedback about The Student Connection to me at this
> email address:
> chase at acbradio.org <mailto:chase at acbradio.org>
> Please note that the Student Connection comment line expired. I will
> send a new number to this list soon.
> The Student Connection is a one hour monthly show focusing on issues
> and challenges facing students who are blind or visually impaired. If
> you are a student, a teacher, a parent of a VI student, anyone else
> who works with students with a visual impairment, or even an adult
> past your school days, you are always welcome to tune in. You can
> hear The Student Connection on ACB Radio Mainstream starting at 8 PM
> Eastern, 7 PM central, 6 PM Mountain, 5 PM pacific on Tuesdays, which
> is 0:00 UTC on Wednesdays. A new episode of The Student Connection
> goes to air on the first Tuesday of every month. The Student
> Connection reairs every Tuesday for the rest of the month in the same
> time slot, and repeats every 4 hours for the rest of Tuesday and
> Wednesday. You can find archives of the show on the ACB Radio Public
> FTP site at:
> Click on the ACB Radio Archives folder, and then The Student
> Connection folder. In that folder you will find all archives of the
> Thanks for your support of the show, and I look forward to having you
> tune in starting this Tuesday at 8 PM eastern to hear all about note
> Have a great labor day!
> Chase Crispin
> Host and producer, The Student Connection.
> nabs mailing list
> nabs at acb.org
My programs don't have bugs; they're randomly added features!
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