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Re: lynx-dev Licensing Lynx

From: Janina Sajka
Subject: Re: lynx-dev Licensing Lynx
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 15:50:09 -0400 (EDT)

I would echo Lloyd's comment: "Lynx rules."

The problems you list are not just problems with Lynx. They show up in all
kinds of applications that blind users have used for many years. This is
why the various screen readers have developed strategies to handle them
properly. My Lynx, for example, does not read the status line unless I ask
for it. It also does not speak the name of the link I'm leaving as I arrow
down. I use asap, by the way.

I do have two comments regarding blind users, however.

My first comment is a request of the Lynx folks. Actually, it's a request
of the folks porting Lynx to the Win32 environment. Is that still mostly

It has to do with the numeric keypad. Some months ago, Wayne "dumbed down"
the numeric keypad in Lynx for the benefit of screen reader users. But, he
only did it for the scan-codes active when num-lock is off. For that
reason, Lynx32 works splendidly with screen readers like JAWS for DOS--now
in the public domain. It does not work well with screen readers which
require num-lock to be on in order to "read" the screen. In that case,
both the screen reader and Lynx are passed all key presses from the
numeric keypad. So, Lynx thinks a numbered link is being typed, which is
not so. The user was simply re-reading information that had already been
painted on the screen in order to understand it better. The request is to
provide a means of ignoring the numeric keypad when num-lock is on, as it
is now ignored with num-lock off.

My second comment is to the folks desiring to equip blind users with web
capable talking computer systems. This is a laudable effort. I support you
and would be happy to advise, if you wish. I wonder, however, why you
would build on DOS in this day and age. Seems to me Linux is a far better
choice, given that free screen reader software is available for Linux, and
given that Linux is so much more capable an OS. Also, it's an OS with a
future, which DOS certainly isn't.
                                Janina Sajka, Director
                                Information Systems Research & Development
                                American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)


On Wed, 29 Sep 1999, Lloyd G. Rasmussen wrote:

> The things that are done in our name!
> The following comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the
> National Library Service, my employer.
> At 03:42 AM 9/29/99 -0400, you wrote:
> >990928 Brett Glass wrote:
> >>> 990928 Klaus Weide wrote:
> >>> Tell us more about your "new program for blind users"
> >>> for which "Lynx is currently the best available code".
> >> We seek to eliminate the many problems which blind users have
> >> in using Lynx to browse the Web. Because of the way Lynx displays data
> >> and redraws the screen, it is not optimal for the blind user.
> >
> >i don't remember any blind user of Lynx -- many have sent messages
> >to lynx-dev during the past 3 years -- saying any such thing.
> >to be convincing, you need to give more details of this.
> I can see where he could be coming from.  If you use a DOS screen reader
> which echoes everything that is sent to the screen, such as normal BIOS
> output from a communications program connected to a server running Lynx,
> several suboptimal things happen which could be improved upon, but which we
> adapt to or live with:
> The status line can spit out far too many byte counts, requiring frequent
> use of the "shut up" key for your speech synthesizer, which can sometimes
> cause you to overlook an important message.  I overcome much of this by not
> having any automatic screen speech at all with Vocal-Eyes, but reading the
> bottom line of the Lynx screen any time there is a change in the first four
> characters of that line.
> When you use the down  arrow  key to go from one link to the next, if full
> screen echo is on and you don't customize the behavior of your screen
> reader, the following will typically happen:  Screen reader reads the line
> the cursor is leaving.   A fraction of a second later, Lynx repaints the
> color of the link just vacated, so you hear the link text from which you
> came again.  Lynx then repaints the text of the newly selected link and you
> finally hear what you have selected.  The status line may change during
> this operation, and you hear that, too.   If Lynx, with certain Curses
> packages, when using a VT100 terminal, could change the colors of text
> without having to rewrite the characters, at least in the "body" portion of
> the screen, part of this would be solved.
> >
> >>> Tell us about your company (the "we" in your messages), financing,
> >>> release schedule, how you are going to distribute and market it.
> >> We're a (so far) loosely knit group of hackers in Laramie, Wyoming
> >> who would like to help (and employ!) a blind friend and possibly others
> >> who are blind or visually impaired. The group overlaps with two others
> >> doing different open source-basd projects.
> >
> >if you want to be taken seriously here, you need to answer properly
> >all 5 of KW's questions; in fact, you've answered none of them.
> >
> >>> Yeah, I'm sure foundations and stuff will go for your approach.
> >> Actually, the organizations we've approached about this like the idea.
> >> Their charter is to help the disabled by equipping them
> >> with necessary technology, and while they're currently buying products
> >> such as the "Jaws" screen reader for Windows, they don't find them
> >> to be a good solution for browsing. They'd gladly go with something better
> >> and we'd like to supply it if we can do it without starving.
> >
>   I assume they are keeping up with all of the options.  JFW costs $795 or
> $895, and requires a fairly recent computer running IE 4 or 5.  This is not
> your average cast-off at the local thrift stoere.  Window-Eyes costs $595,
> but has about the same system requirements.  The advantage of both of these
> over Lynx is that they can go to a Javascript link, which Lynx does not yet
> know how to do.  See the newspaper articles from the last portion of
> for one of many examples.  An SSL-capable version is also much
> easier to obtain this way, as well.  
> The only useful thing happening with Netscape is that IBM, using DDE calls,
> hooked into it and created Home Page Reader, a $150 talking browser.  It
> currently fumbles when error messages pop up, or when plug-ins such as the
> Windows Media Player or RealAudio pop up, requiring a Windows screen
> reader, which must go to sleep when inside HPR.  But it understands more
> modern HTML, such as reading a Title on a link when no Alt text was
> supplied.    
> PW Webspeak is another talking browser, working from its own HTML pparsing
> engine, from the Productivity Works in New Jersey.  It can work with
> RealAudio without another screen reader, and development is continuing.
> Because HPR and PWW usually use software speech and are Windows programs,
> the system requirements are almost as high as for the screen reader/IE5
> combinations.
> To run Lynx on a 386, 486 or slow Pentium, you need a DOS screen reader,
> and you need a speech synthesizer.  Decent synthesizers start at around
> $300.  Some of the DOS screen readers have become unsupported freeware.
> Getting Lynx running, whether in Win95 or in DOS, requires some technical
> know-how and patience.  It's not quite a plug-and-play system.
>   With 70% of working-age blind people unemployed or underemployed,, and
> with half the blind population over 65 years old, many not familiar with
> computers, there are financial and technical support hurdles to overcome. 
> >you don't say whether the organisations you've approached are commercial
> >or non-profit, but it sounds from your description as if the latter,
> >in which case you should have no problem:
> >they should be happy to pay you for your labor at normal market rates
> >in return for a blind-improved version of Lynx
> >which they could then distribute free to blind Internet users;
> >neither you nor the organisation would have any commercial reason
> >to keep the source code a secret & indeed the organisation would benefit
> >from open source, which might be further improved by others without charge,
> >not least via this mailing-list.
> >
>   Having hung around Lynx-dev for 4 years, and been a Lynx user for
> slightly longer, I don't see how you will be able to make a commercial
> product out of your development.  Has anyone, for example, figured out
> where Fote has been for the last two years?  The effort is laudable, and
> there may be ways of actually improving the situation, by better
> communication, better documentation, screen reader configuration file
> distribution, etc.  Mr. Glass, if you have questions that I might be able
> to help answer, feel free to write me off-list about them.  Even though I
> use HPR and IE5, I continue to say that Lynx Rulz!
> Lloyd Rasmussen, Senior Staff Engineer
> National Library Service f/t Blind and Physically Handicapped
> Library of Congress    (202) 707-0535  <address@hidden>
> <>
> HOME:  <address@hidden>   <

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