My experiences with a Mac

David Poehlman david.poehlman at
Mon Mar 17 11:55:54 UTC 2008

I'm going to trim quoting and write again below and I hope it helps.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tony Baechler" <tony at>
To: "Linux for blind general discussion" <blinux-list at>
Sent: Monday, March 17, 2008 6:52 AM
Subject: Re: My experiences with a Mac
I don't own the Mac I'm
working on, so I don't have the flexibility to randomly try too much
except what's already installed or what's on the install DVD.
dp: except you mentioned installing some things through ssh.

the FN key is already turned off so I don't need to hold it for function
keys.  I don't know if I did that or if VoiceOver does that
automatically but somehow it got set that way.
dp: That is a function of vo in leopard.

Finally, I'm running
version 10.5.2 of Mac OS X, a 2.2 GHZ core 2 processor and 2 GB of RAM.
dp: this is helpful.  did you look in the user guides and documentation 
folder off the root and read the user manual for the system using preview? 
It's a .pdf and preview does a nice job with it and many other pdfs and it's 
built in to the os.

Please elaborate.  I'm running 10.5.2.  What has changed?  I saw
mentions of help but since that seems to be in html and browsing html
pages looks difficult, I hadn't bothered thus far.  So far the manual
seems to be mostly correct and I saw no what's new document.
dp: it did not ship with leopard and you will have to brazen it out and take 
the short climb o reading html.  you may find a couple of keystrokes useful:
control-option-f8 will open the voice over utility.  control-option-f7 will 
open the voice over menu.  control-option-h pressed twice quickly gives a 
list of commands.

Ah, Spotlight.  I forgot to talk about this earlier.  Yes, it's probably
the easier method of running programs if you know what you're looking
for.  It seems to be like the new Start Menu in Windows Vista.  You just
type the name of what you want, such as "term" for Terminal, and it
searches on the fly.  In my case, it showed 22 items.  The first was a
dictionary definition for the word "term."  The second item was
Terminal.  That is so far the only way I've found to quickly get to
Terminal.  The drawback is that there is no way of seeing a list of all
installed programs.  I didn't try just a wildcard character but I don't
think that would work because that would match everything.  If there is
an easier way to browse applications from Spotlight, I'm unfamiliar with
it.  For a new user, it helps greatly as long as you have an idea what
you're looking for.  I would have never found Chess with it for example
because I didn't know it was there until I browsed the Applications
table in the Finder.
dp: this would be true of any environment but a bit of detective work shows 
that ap file names end in .app.

No, I haven't.  I have not however found any other way to see all
installed programs in a menu structure.  If I press the Windows key
right now, I can arrow down to Programs or press the letter P.  From
there, I can arrow through all the programs I've installed.  I saw no
easy equivalent to this for the Mac except to use the desktop to open
"Macintosh HD" and arrow down to Applications, expand, and arrow through
about 90 different directories.  I certainly hope I'm wrong on this but
the manual didn't give any other methods apart from Spotlight which I
discussed above.
dp: I partially addressed this in my previous message, but from your well 
written description above, you appear to be using column view.  there are 
three views, icon, column and list.  icon view provides you with a table of 
the apps, you can tab and arrow through them and use type ahead to find them 
so if you want calculator, type cal; chess, type ch and so on.

Nope, not in this case.  I tried that several times and it still never
came up.  I had no idea it was there until I asked my sighted help to
look at the "About this Mac" screen and he said he couldn't see it
because the network dialogue was in the way.  I tried to close it myself
but I never found it and it never read it.  If I could browse the full
screen with the VO cursor, I could've closed it that way but there is
apparently no way to do that.
dp: there are ways to browse the full screen and some of this is addressed 
further on in the manual.  One way to get round a problem like this is to 
turn vo off and then back on again with command-f5.  You may also find that 
moving the mouse around can sometimes provide you with means to ends.  you 
can get a list of open windows with control-option-f2 pressed twice quickly.

Ah, I didn't know that.  Do the menus close automatically if you arrow
past the right-most menu?
dp: no.

You keep referring to the "Apple" key.  I think you mean Command.  The
"Apple" key disappeared a long time ago according to what I've read.
dp: last I checked it still had an apple logo on it.

Again, this is not documented in the manual.
dp: control f8 is not in the voice over manual because it is not a voice 
over command but the manual does say that there is other documentation to 
read for your mac.

Yes, I stand corrected.  On the DVD, there is gcc 3.3 and 4.0.  There is
also X11 and some other tools.  The problem with the above "sudo"
command is that it still asks for a password and nothing I try works.
I'm sure that sudo is the preferred way to do things but not without a
dp: to fix this, go to to /applications/utilities/ and click 
the "click the lock to make changes" button, type the admin password and 
press enter.  the input will not echo.  Once that is done, you need to 
enable root under the edit menu.  press enter and then you will need to type 
a password for root in two edit boxes.  Works like a charm and is not 
documented in the voiceover manual why?

How do you determine this?  There is only one default user and
apparently it doesn't have this.  The default user has no password.
Does this need to be turned on or changed in System Preferences?
dp: the default user has a password.  it is just set to login automatically 
at start up.  you created the password during system setup.

Thanks, but again I only have about a week so probably no point.  So
far, I'm not impressed enough to buy one.
dp: there's always a but.  You are not giving your self a fair shake. 
You'll miss out on a real opportunity if you pass on the Mac.

One thing I didn't discuss was the calculator.  Yes, it has one.
However, you can't press numbers on the keyboard and get meaningful
results.  You have to use the VO cursor to press buttons for each digit
you want.  That means, for example, you have to use the left arrow to
get to the digit 2, press Control, Option, Space, right arrow to 5,
repeat the Control, Option, Space, right arrow a bunch of times to plus
or times, press the button as described above, left arrow back to the
number 2, press it, right arrow to 5, press that, and go all the way
over to Equals.  All of this must be done while holding down Control and
Option.  Then what happens?  Absolutely nothing.  That's right, the
result is never spoken even though it appears on the screen.  Arrowing
around will never read the answer.  I only found out that it showed an
answer because I had sighted help.  That's the first time ever that I
had an inaccessible calculator.  Please, someone tell me I'm wrong and
it isn't as hard as all of this.  Someone tell me there is an easier way
that I missed.  If I press numbers, I get no feedback at all in the
calculator, which is why I resorted to the VO cursor.
dp: the calculator was one of the first truly accessible apps on the Mac 
because it does not rely on vo but its own speech or rather the system 
speech.  to use it, you will need to activate the speaking of keys as they 
are entered.

As always, don't hesitate to ask about any specific things you want me
to look at or try within the next week or so.  Thanks for your feedback.

dp: I want you to play a cd, a dvd, browse the ITunes web store after being 
guided through the final step of activation.  I want youto play with the say 
command in the terminal.  man say will get you going.  BTW, on terminal, I'm 
not having any issues on my early macbook or my new macbook pro with it.  Of 
course, that does not mean it does not have issues but It's reading fine for 
me.  I want you to open and explore every app.  I want you to finish the 
manual and I want you t write a lengthy positive experience document when 
you are done or at least a fair knowledgeable critique.

Jonnie Appleseed
With His
Hands-On Technolog(eye)s
Reducing Technologies disabilities
one byte at a time 

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