Friday, 29 August 2008

BBC iPlayer and WebbIE Working Well

For the past 18 months, we have been involved with friends and partners in Europe, making the Thunder software available in languages other than English. Our partners proved to be good friends too and the project is at an end. But we now have Thunder working well in Italian, French, Estonian, German and Slovakian. Our partners from Southern Ireland opted to share our English version!!! In the not too distant future, we hope to take on the challenge of other languages but it all takes time, money and effort in no particular order.

If you know of individuals or organisations wanting to enjoy Thunder in these languages, please visit and you will find lots of useful information as well as the software and tutorial downloads. I would like to publically thank all those who have been involved. Our vision remains strong to get a free talking screenreader option out there throughout the world, knowing as we do, that many blind people don’t have the funds to purchase the commercial options and don’t really want to be using illegal copies.

Many Thunder users enjoy the WebbIE Text browser and, in particular, the accessible Listen Again BBC radio service. But, over the past few weeks, we have run into some problems. Hopefully they are now fixed.

In the middle of August, Google changed its code and our excellent easy Web
search facility ceased to operate. If you can’t use it, you need to go to and download the latest version of WebbIE and all will be well again. This could well happen again in the future but hopefully not for some while.

And the BBC too have been making changes to their Listen Again service. We all get used to the way we do things and, when you can’t see what is going on, perhaps the challenge of something new is greater. But take it from me, the changes made by the BBC are brilliant and give us much more to listen to and enjoy, including TV as well as radio.

Again go to and to the BBC iplayer link. There is a download and this should sort you out for the time being. The message from the BBC people is that the iplayer will become accessible to us in a standard way by the end of October. I will give an update in my next blog. If you are not up to the technical side of all this, I suggest you find a computer buddy who can do the business for you. I do this myself whenever things are too difficult.

We are being helped by some good people from an organisation called Unltd in London to develop what we are doing into a more successful social enterprise. This is not just about money and revenue, important as this is. Its more about efficiency and getting to more potential users. We do keep records of the email addresses when you download Thunder from our website. We will never disclose these email addresses to anyone else; but we do want to write to you and be in contact with you for several reasons.

We don’t actually know how many people use Thunder on a regular basis.
We don’t know if it does the job properly in your circumstances.
You might want to purchase a better sounding voice from us or a scanner to read your post etc.
Some of you might want an electronic magnifier, Closed Circuit Television System, to enable you to read print or enjoy your photos again etc.
In other words, we do have access to lots of information and some low priced but high quality products that could interest you. So we are going in the near future to be sending out emails and hoping for a good response, please. Obviously, if you just want to use Thunder and not be bothered with all that, you can just press the DELETE Key on our email and that’s fine.

We have also been talking about having some kind of Thunder community so that you can talk or email to each other, I know that some like and some don’t like this kind of thing; but its great to know you can chat to someone else when there is a problem and it all lessens the isolation which some of us experience. Anyway, emails will be flying around the world from us very soon.

The other part of what Unltd are helping us with is how to manage our business, raise the funds we need, meet the right business people and keep good accounts etc. There is so much good stuff out there on the web, we just have to make it available to everyone, whether its valuable health information, the chance to go for the best retailer financial services offers etc. So we will aim to be hear for you for many years.