Freedom Scientific Gets Aggressive, Pursues PDI Folk

Saqib Shaikh me at
Sat Mar 20 00:23:22 MST 2004


I have a couple of points on this topic:

1.  JRW is indeed correct about hardware support - check out
if you have any doubts.

2.  Likewise about new developments - anyone is free to write their own
application if one doesn't already exist - for example, an SSH client, Frotz
for Windows C.E., a telephone answering machine - just get the free compiler
from MS and you're away.

3.  But... Some people, noteably Sebby, are electronic freedom fighters.
People like Sebby and Richard Stallman won't be happy unless the business of
selling software cripples and dies (something I don't think will ever
completely happen).  But for people like that FS have quietly said that they
would be interested to have a Linux PacMate alongside the Windows C.E. one.
It would also be very much easier to put Linux on a PacMate if you were so
inclined - could use the Familiar Linux distribution from, and
put BrlTTY on it, or even put G.P.E. on it and write a GTK screen reader.
Its much more standard hardware.

4.  I don't think the PacMate is at risk of going out of date like the BN
possibly is.  This is because HP will continue to advance the Ipaaq, which
directly affects the hardware inside the PM.  Likewise MS continue to update
Pocket PC, and FS continue to update JAWS.

5.  My only hesitation with the PM is that it is a specially made device
without the advantages of the BN's organised menus.  It is also so big that
there are laptops (including my own) that are smaller and lighter.

Anyway, that's my £5 worth.
Aqib Shaikh

-----Original Message-----
From: J. R. Westmoreland [mailto:jr at] 
Sent: 20 March 2004 06:25
To: notelinux at
Subject: Re: Freedom Scientific Gets Aggressive, Pursues PDI Folk

If you go back in to the past a bit you will remember that PDI once tried to
do the same thing to FS with the BN/VN... <grin> I guess it goes to show
"what goes around comes around...".

Anyway, I suspect that I will be a lot like Frank and support with tech help
but not testing since I now am a PM owner.
The discount is considerable.

Second, I do not agree that one is going to another very closed system.
The development environment for the PM already exists, if you can spare the
disk space for it, and the facilities for scripting new applications is
freely available.
I have already done a few simple and sample applications using the
development environment.
The processor is a ARM xScale processor, for which linux is already ported
and supported.
Also, the devel is on-going since it is the same for the Ipack.

Fs seems to be quite willing to allow development for the device.

Yes, there are still a few problems but FS is working hard to fix them.
Also, others are working on outside development to overcome the
Finally, there are many applications that will run with no/little fiddling.

The hardware list that one can put on the PM is extensive.
Usually if you can find a ppc2003 driver for it it will work.

I like the FreeSoft idea and plan to continue to help where I can as well as
persue the same for the new device.

Since I had both devices for almost 2 months side by side I can try and
asnwer any questions listers might have.

I'm committed, or manbe should be committed, to the cause... <smile>

On Wed, Mar 17, 2004 at 10:20:14AM -0000, Sabahattin Gucukoglu wrote:
> Good peeps,
> Talk about bloody pretentious!
> See the following article:
> It's a press release from Freedom Scientific, PulseData's main rival.  
> They are - illegally, perhaps - making trade-in offers for competitive 
> products from PulseData International, namely the BrailleNote and 
> VoiceNote series.
> "Closed" and "Proprietary", gentle readers, is - I regret - a rather 
> accurate description of the BrailleNote.  Not wishing to turn this 
> into another lecture on why FreeSoft is going to be so great, I'd like 
> you all -  those in possession of BrailleNote and VoiceNote products 
> or even anyone considering making a purchase - to consider whether you 
> *really would* give up this product for a PackMate, given Freedom 
> Scientific's description of it as a "Modern, mainstream platform".  
> Bare in mind that Windows CE, on the Pocket PC architecture Freedom 
> Scientific are using, is no less proprietary than the version running 
> on BrailleNote - they refer to "Open" and "Mainstream" as a way to 
> make clear that you are supposedly able to run any Pocket PC 
> application - including the native productivity applications - on 
> these devices in their graphical representations using a custom-built 
> screen reader - Jaws for Pocket PC.  Forgeting for the moment any 
> personal dislike you may have of the PackMate for any reason not 
> related to features, such as the use of JAWS, size and bulkiness, I'd like
to spark a small discussion among you by asking:
> Do you understand, and approve, of PulseData's working philosophy?  Is 
> it clear to you all that PulseData is concerned with seemless 
> integration and exceptional ease-of-use, which cannot be said of the 
> PackMate?  Is it that you picked the BrailleNote because of its 
> menu-based structure, it's application consistency, it's online help 
> and it's target squarely at Blind/VI individuals, and would you be 
> willing to give it up?  If you approve of PDI's blindness-oriented 
> philosophy, do you prefer that the ambition of the FreeSoft project is 
> more one of cloning (and, naturally,
> improving) KeySoft than of providing the ability for you to run other, 
> non- FreeSoft applications on your BrailleNote?  If the PackMate had 
> been available at the time you bought the BrailleNote, would you have 
> instead have chosen the Packmate?  If you would, please tell us why.  
> If an effort had been made in the beginning to use Linux for the 
> PackMate, either begun by FreedomScientific or another open source 
> advocacy group, would you have supported them?  Is it, quite simply, that
you love the open source model?
>  If PulseData had gone straight from DOS to Linux, would it have been 
> a better product?  Most importantly: are you going to take this 
> opportunity from Freedom Scientific, and - if you do - why?
> We have already made clear our wish to bring you the benefits of open 
> source purely by using an open source kernel and tools - those of 
> Linux mainstream distributions.  This is a great advantage in and of
> Even so, we would like to know that our efforts are what we believe to 
> be the correct ones for our audience.  So, we want to be assured that 
> those reasons, above, really were the ones which propelled you into 
> buying the BrailleNote.  If they are, then we will deliver - we 
> sincerely hope - what you are already used to, and more.  Naturally, 
> we will make it possible to run other applications for Linux power 
> users - in no way will your horizons be restricted, as far as it is 
> possible.  Community assistance should make it possible for you to fix 
> your BrailleNote or VoiceNote, if it goes wrong, with the same power.
> Please write back to the list and speak your mind in lieu of this 
> latest below-the-belt blow to the "PDA" market for the blind.  We're 
> interested in your comments!
> Cheers,
> Sabahattin
> --
> Thought for the day:
>     A penny saved is ridiculous.
> Latest PGP Public key blocks?  Send any mail to:
> <PGPPublicKey at>
> Sabahattin Gucukoglu
> Phone: +44 (0)20 7,502-1615
> Mobile: +44 (0)7986 053399
> Email/MSN: <mail at>

J.R. Westmoreland  (W7JR)
E-mail: jr at

More information about the Notelinux mailing list