Freedom Scientific Gets Aggressive, Pursues PDI Folk

Saqib Shaikh me at
Sat Mar 20 06:20:41 MST 2004

Hi Sandy

You couldn't run JAWS for PPC on a mainstream PDA.  This is because FS had
to modify the operating system in order to make it work.  For example, they
had to hack PPC to add keyboard navigation etc.

Regarding the braille display - it shouldn't be a problem to get a driver to
use the PM display with an Ipaq, but it'd be no use without a screen reader.

One possibility is to:
1.  Take the FS modified operating system and put it on an Ipaq.
2.  Take JAWS for PPC and put it on the same Ipaq.
3.  Find an external keyboard and plug it in.
4.  Plug in the PM display.

Now you have something like the PM, but the keyboard and braille display
negate any size convenience, and you have to carry around 3 devices
connected by wires.  In affect this is precisely what the PM is, just in one
integrated unit .  I also don't think there'd be that much of a price

In the UK the PM with speech only is £1500.  An Ipaq is £500, a keyboard
£100.  I think FS are free to charge the extra £900 for the copy of JAWS,
and more importantly the effort and cost of manufacturing such an integrated

The one and only thing I would like changed about the PacMate is that I
would like a touchscreen for sighted people to use.  This would only
increase the price a bit and I think it is useful to have a screen on a
computer running a graphical operating system.


-----Original Message-----
From: sandra tomkins [mailto:sandratomkins at] 
Sent: 20 March 2004 12:31
To: notelinux at
Subject: Re: Freedom Scientific Gets Aggressive, Pursues PDI Folk

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

> ----- 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
>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

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