How did people here learn GUIs

Martin McCormick martin.m at
Wed Jul 27 20:19:40 UTC 2016

	This topic is about learning GUI's and I want to honor
that as much as possible but Janina touched on a very important
piece of the puzzle to getting a good experience with computers.

	I actually wrote my own screen reader for the IBM P.C.
and continued to use it in DOS until 2009 when Vinux came along.

	If you are a tinkerer and like to write programs which
usually also involves lots of debugging, the best screen readers
echo every character you type plus read all new input to the
screen from the system. If the input is bursty such as from a
compiler or assembler, you should hear a sequential playback of
what is happening as soon as it can be read out.

	My home-made screen reader did this pretty well in to an
Echo speech synthesizer and speakup does it beautifully, also.

	The interface feels or sounds natural and you don't have
to pump it for screen after screen unless that is what you want.

	The terminal in orca also works pretty well but not quite
as well as the good old command-line but I am still not

	The voice in Apple's voiceover is good but there is one
glaring problem which I would love to see fixed and yes, it is
broken if you can't change the behavior.

	If you are listening to bursty output in voiceover, there
tends to be a short time period after which new text that arrives
blows away whatever is being said right then so you just hear
shreds of useless babble.

	I hate to be picky but I'd like to see a switch, so to
speak, where the user can select either a speakup-like mode or
the current voiceover mode. Both have their moments where they
are the best but I can not use voiceover for Unix
trouble-shooting, logging and debugging. Speakup is great at all
these things as well as very good at ssh logins and the rare
telnet session.

	I have even had speakup do weird things on slow serial
connections and there is a parameter one can tweak in which
speakup decides that all new input has stopped and it goes ahead
to speak what characters have accumulated so far.

	My old home-built screen reader actually also had a short
timer that kept resetting on new characters unless there had been
around a tenth or twentieth of a second with no data.

	I was glad to see speakup come along as my project only
worked in DOS and it was getting to be a monster toward the end.

	It was 8086 assembler with many modules. One could have
done much, much better in C but by then, it was time to move on
to Linux.


Janina Sajka <janina at> writes:
> I think as a general rule, Cheryl is quite correct. Support for the
> terminal in Voice Over, and in every gui screen reader I know is frankly
> subpar. We got to the point in DOS where the screen readers, especially
> asap and vocal-eyes, were powerful and able to change configurations on
> the fly to deal with different screens properly. Even Speakup can't do
> that like they did, though I use Speakup far more than any gui, even
> Gnome and Orca.
> Janina

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