Freedom Scientific Gets Aggressive, Pursues PDI Folk

sandra tomkins sandratomkins at
Sat Mar 20 05:31:10 MST 2004

Hi to all on the list (from a silent lurker),

  Although I keep mum, I watch the communications on this list with avid interest and have, at last, a question.  The screen-reader on the pack-mate, could it be used on a main-stream PDA.  If so, what would be the advantages to a PM? I use a bn bt and like the braille key-board but could see the advantages, cost-wise, to using a PDA with screen-reader.  Plus, with regard to the braille display add-on, is there a driver available whereby I could plug in such a device to a PDA so that I could get the functionality of a PM without the prohibitive cost?

  I'm sticking with the bn as I like it despite all the probs but am always interested to hear how I can bypass the strangle-hold of the adaptive tech cartel.

> ----- Original Message -----
>From: "J.  R.  Westmoreland" <jr at
>To: notelinux at
>Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2004 23:25:03 -0700
>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 shortcomings.
>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 itself.
>> 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

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