Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A Dog's Diary August 26 2009

A dog’s diary

Just occasionally, something springs out at you an grabs your emotions and you just have to play your part. What follows came from a blind friend in Italy. It is wonderful that he translated it for us and just wanted the message to get round the UK too. He actually asked me to tidy the English but...I would not dream of being so picky and arrogant. Give a blind person a talking computer and, who knows, he may change the world for dogs and give us all a huge insight into human behaviour too. Enjoy and don;t be afraid to cry.

Week 1:

Today it’s one week since I was born: what a joy I have come to this world!

Month 1:

My mom takes care of me very tenderly: she is an excellent mother.

Month 2:

Today, I was parted from mom. She looked very anxious and said goodbye to me with a glance. Hopefully my new human family will take care of me as lovingly as she did.

Month 4:

I grew up quickly, everything attracts my attention. There are lots of children around, they are like “little brothers” for me. We are like rascals together, they pull my tail and I bite them for fun.

Month 5:

Today I was scolded: my master rebuked me because I peed in the house – but I had never been told where I should do it!

Month 12:

Today I turned one, I am almost an adult dog now, my masters say I have grown up even more than they expected. Ah, they must be so proud of me!

Month 13:

Today I felt very bad: my “little brother” took my ball, I never take his toys, so I wanted it back. My jaws have been to hard and I have unintentionally injured him. After that I was scared, they chained me, I can hardly see the sun now. They say they keep an eye on me, that I am ungrateful. I can’t understand anything of what is happening.

Month 15:

Everything is different now….. I live on the balcony. I feel so lonely, my family doesn’t love me anymore. Sometimes they forget I am hungry or thirsty. When it rains I have no shelter.

Month 16:

Today they took me away from the balcony. I was sure that my family had forgiven me. I was so excited that I started jumping for joy, and kept wagging all over the place. Besides, they took me for a walk. We headed for the motorway and then, suddenly, they stopped the car. They opened the door and I immediately got off with joy, believing we were going to spend the day in the countryside. Then a very strange thing happened: all of a sudden, with no apparent reason, they shut the door and went away. Hey, wait! You forgot me! I started running after the car with all my strength. My anguish was strong and increased even more when I realized I was going to faint….. and they would not stop. They forgot me.

Month 17:

In vain I have tried to find my way back home. I am cold and I feel lost. On my way I encounter kind-hearted people who look at me sadly and give me something to eat. With a glance I thank them from the bottom of my heart. I would love them to adopt me, I would be loyal and faithful like no other in the world, however they just say: “Poor little boy, you’re lost, ah?”

Month 18:

Some days ago I was roaming in front of a school when I saw a lot of children and guys just like my “little brothers”. When I got closer, a group of them scornfully started throwing stones at me so as to bet who owned the best aim. One of those stones spoilt one of my eyes, and since then I can’t see anything on that side.

Month 19:

You won’t believe that, but people showed more mercy on me when I was prettier. Now I am skinny, my aspect is quite different. I lost one eye and people now drive me away with a broom if I try to find shelter from the sun.

Month 20:

I can hardly move: today, someone ran over me. I thought I was safe in that place called “ditch”, but I will never forget the satisfaction in the eyes of that driver who intentionally drew up alongside the edge of the road in order to get into me. I wish he had killed me. Unfortunately he just broke my rear paw. The pain is terrible, my rear paws do not respond, and I desperately krept to a place with some grass on the side of the road.

Month 21:

I had been exposed to the sun and the rain for ten days, with no food. I couldn’t move anymore, the pain was unbearable, I felt very sick. It was a wet place where I lay, I believed my hair was dropping out. People passed by, some didn’t even spot me, some said “Watch out!” I was almost unconscious, but an unexpected power made me open my eyes. The sweetness of her voice made me react. She said “Poor little dog, how did they trash you this way?” On her side stood a man in a white suit, who touched me, then said “I’m sorry madam, there is nothing we can do for this dog, we’d better put an end to its suffering.” The kind lady started crying but eventually approved.
I wander how it happened, but I slightly moved my tail and looked at him, in order to thank him for helping me find rest at last. I just felt the injection and then fell asleep forever, asking myself why I had been born if nobody loved me.

In my country the problem of dogs being abandoned, most frequently on motorways, is still a relevant issue, in spite of aggressive campaigns promoting respect for dogs and pets.

This message is not just meant to break the hearts of dog lovers, but its aim is rather to affect those who have a dirty conscience, to cause in them a sense of guilt, shame and regret. This way, through a chain of unpredictable events, if just one dog were saved from a hostile fate, then this message will have been worth writing and circulating.

Please forward this message to as many people as you can, it’s just as challenging as sending out a joke or a picture, but you will have dedicated a fraction of your time to an animal, one of those who love us without asking anything in return. The animals will be grateful to you and your heart will be serene!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

IT and Accessit July 2009

Roger Wilson-Hinds

I am replying to a June AccessIT article, reprinted from Braille Monitor which compared four low cost screenreader software talking packages.

I am responsible for distributing the thunder screenreader software round the world so at first I was cross and very disappointed. Thunder got short shrift. Rated the poorest Low cost screenreader.

My first reaction was to get on the phone and scream and shout about the inaccuracies and the briefness of the Thunder description. But at nearly seventy, I had the wisdom to engage brain before opening my big mouth. So how could such misinformation come to be in a professionally produced and widely respected specialist Braille magazine?

My granddaughter gave me the hint when I showed her the magazine I was reading. It was the cover. “What are floppy disks and what was life like before the internet? This was the drift of the discussion.

Don’t get me wrong. I love reading a Braille magazine on the train and there is no criticism implied or intended. But follow two chains of events:

The June article was written some time ago by a professional team well briefed in accessibility issues. It would then be approved and published and time marched on. Permissions were sought by RNIB and granted and the same article was reprinted in Braille and time marched on. I did not get round to reading the magazine until late July.

Now consider the second chain of events. I read the article on 22 July and am furious. I write this article on 22nd July and immediately pop it up as a blog on my company website also on 22nd July. I ask for it to be published as my right of reply on the same day and it may or may not get into the Braille magazine until September or possibly October, depending on the level of suitable material coming in to the Editor and it might not, of course, be deemed suitable anyway.

What my grand daughter does at the age of ten when she wants some information is to Google it. There is no waiting for her and her mates. So if readers want information about Thunder or much else for that matter, they should Google it and get the latest there is.

So now to the point: If you care to Google “screenreader” you will indeed find once or twice in the first five results. You will see clearly that Thunder is totally free to everyone, individuals and organisations. You will see that it comes in three forms: An installation .exe file so you can put it on your PC or laptop within a couple of minutes. There is a zipped file so you can copy it over to media, a pen drive, a disk or a card and run it on any modern Windows PC or laptop running XP or Vista, or very soon, Windows7 too. And there is also an MSI version for techies wanting Thunder on the college or school network etc.

We do indeed use WebbIE as our text browser and many people find WebbIE a most useful way to enjoy the internet and gather information quickly. But it does not suit everyone and we are working currently on an innovative way to get the best out of Internet Explorer 8. If you want an alternative browser such as Firefox, then Google NVDA and you will get to a pretty good option.

Thunder gives access to many Windows applications: MS Word, Outlook Express, Outlook, Notepad, Wordpad, Calc, LastFM, BBC iPlayer, and I could go on and on. If you find something you need access to, by all means ask us to create a script to make it work and we will do our best.

There is a moral to this story and I think it is about moving with the times and not doing things the way we used to in the dark ages of five years ago. Braille mags have their place and long should continue. What they can’t do is give you, the reader, the very latest information and they do you a disservice by conveying old hat stuff. I stress my commitment to Braille magazines and enjoy reading AccessIT.

Roger and Margaret Wilson-Hinds run from their home in Peterborough. They supply a range of low cost and no cost products including free Thunder, the Lightning magnifier software package, a range of electronic magnifiers and a scanning software package. The company has over one hundred thousand users worldwide and is committed to serving the needs of those not able to afford commercially priced screenreader products.

Contact Details:
E: roger”
T: 01733 234441
Blogs at

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Well, sadly, this blog has been a long time coming but at least there is some news to report.

There is a new version of Thunder up there on and some useful improvements too.

You will find three options: the first, thunder.exe is what you need if you just want to install Thunder and run it from your usual computer.

The second, let’s you use a memory stick, a thumb drive, and use Thunder on any machine. You just push the memory stick with Thunder on it, into a USB drive and away you go. The download is a .zip file. So you copy that zip file on to the memory stick and unzip it again on the memory stick – unzip here.

The third option probably won’t concern most home users. But Thunder is increasingly being used in schools, colleges, and other organisations. In such cases, the network manager will want Thunder as an MSI file so she can control the way it behaves on the various machines.

Of course, all versions are free to anyone in the world and we very much want to hear from you how you get on with Thunder. We mostly receive good reports and lots of encouragement but there will always be problems with computers and software. We can only learn from your feedback and strive to improve things.

We do encourage you to make a donation towards our work if you are pleased with what you get. We are not money-grabbers but do have monthly expenses in running this service.

You will find some improvements to both Thunder and to WebbIE too. There is a new set of help and support files. You will see on the website or should I say see or hear, a link with the title “First Help”. This is for complete beginners and gives you a start as to which keys to be pressing. The other help files in Thunder help were written by a volunteer great supporter who is a user himself who does not see the screen.

Always on the move, we shall be spending time next week planning ahead how we are going to improve Thunder and the web even more. It works fine on corporate websites where lots of cash has been spent but the web is changing fast and many of us are board with corporate stuff and want to do our own thing and listen to others doing their own thing too. And it is not reasonable to expect such home-spun websites to be so accessible. We have been looking at Facebook, Youtube and Twitter amongst others. Great fun and it won’t be long before we show you how to enjoy such pleasures.