Between my daughter’s soccer practice, my softball practice, playing around with the beta of FreeHand 10 (
see separate story, and honeydew projects for my wife (as in “honey, do this”), I didn’t get a chance to experiment too much with Mac OS X over the weekend. So let’s kick the week off with a pretty big announcement, then some random observations.
According to sources at Apple, Easy Access isn’t in the initial version of OS X, but it will be updated later. Easy Access is a control panel extension containing a set of keyboard utilities to assist people who might otherwise have difficulties using the keyboard or the mouse. Included as part of Easy Access are three main features: MouseKeys, StickyKeys, and SlowKeys. A fourth feature, Talking Alerts, is also included.
MouseKeys is a program that lets you control all mouse movements by typing on the numeric keypad. This utility is especially valuable for people who lack the manual dexterity to maneuver a mouse. StickyKeys is a software keylatch, meaning it can help you hold down keys during times when you must press two or three keys simultaneously (if you need to type a capital letter or a question mark, for example). For people with a physical disability who type with one finger or with a mouth wand, this keylatch feature is a helpful tool.
SlowKeys enable the user to change the length of time it takes for a keystroke to be registered on the screen. This allows for several keys to be pressed accidentally without effect. For a child or adult with fine motor difficulties, this customizable feature saves unwanted keystrokes from appearing on the screen. Talking Alerts, or Text-to-Speech, lets your speak the alert messages that appear on the screen. There are 26 different voices to choose from. In some application programs, your computer can also read text contained in documents out loud.
Now for some miscellaneous observations:
The Mac OS X photographic screen saver is really spiffy. Unnecessary, sure, but it looks good.
Apple system engineers are out on the road, showing Mac OS X at user group gatherings across North America. If you’re interested in attending such a session,
check out Apple’s Hot News.
Apple SciTech Web site
has a whole new look and feel, including articles on what’s up with Mac OS X in the physical and life sciences.
For those who find the 30-page manual that comes with OS X somewhat lacking, late April should see the arrival of author Gene Steinberg’s “The Mac OS X Little Black Book.” And other OS X books (such as “OS X for Dummies” and “The Mac OS X Bible”) are also on the way.