Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Methods For Making Text Larger

A How To for Windows 7, Vista, and XP

Sometimes I find the size of the print on certain websites a bit too small for comfortable reading. When that happens, I simply hold down the Ctrl key, and use the mouse scroll wheel to increase (or decrease) the text size. This “zoom” (or shrink) only affects the current window.

[The “keyboard shortcut” Ctrl + “+” (bigger font size) and Ctrl + “-” (smaller) works the same way.]

If this is a constant problem for you, there are a couple of quick settings adjustments you can make that will make the items on your computer screen bigger, without pushing everything off of the edges.

Microsoft calls these adjustments “Accessibility” settings.. which makes a certain amount of sense, if you think of reading your screen as “accessing” the information.

Tip of the day: Enlarge your fonts and icons for easier reading. The first and easiest way is to change the screen settings to a larger dpi (dots per inch), which, strange as it sounds, is not the same thing as changing your screen’s resolution. Your screen resolution is determined (usually) by your monitor’s size, and should be set to the highest setting your monitor allows. This is the number of ‘lines’ drawn to create your screen image, and the more lines you have the crisper (sharper) your image will be, reducing the blocky effect called “pixilation.
However, increasing you resolution has the consequence of making the items on your screen smaller. But, that is what you want to do anyway; the higher the resolution the better.

To offset the shrinking effects of high resolution, (or simply to aid those with less than terrific vision) you may want to increase the dpi number.

Step 1: Right-click on any blank (non-icon) area of your Desktop. Then, click on the bottom menu choice — “Personalize” in Vista/Win7, and “Properties” in older versions.

I will demonstrate Windows 7 first. For older versions, scroll down:

Windows 7
On the bottom left, click on “Ease of Access Center“. Then click on “Make the computer easier to see“.
EoA

Then click “Change the size of text and icons“.
Win7opts

And, finally, you can use one of three presets, or set a ‘custom’ dpi size.
Win7_1

Click Apply, and you’re done.

Vista
dpi.jpg

Click on the menu link (on the left) “Adjust font size (DPI)”, and then click on the lower radio button and change the number from 96 to 120.
scale.jpg

Click Apply, and you’re done.

Windows XP
In XP (and older), there are a few more steps to get to the right menu. From the Display Properties window, click on the Settings tab. In the lower right is an “Advanced” button, click on it. This opens a new Properties window.
scrnprop.jpg
Here you will use the drop-down arrow under “DPI setting:” which allows you to choose 120, or “Custom”. The Custom offers a sliding scale to set the dpi, and you can fine tune your setting here.. perhaps you prefer 112 dots-per-inch. Make sure the “Apply the new settings without restarting” radio button is selected to avoid a un-needed reboot.

These steps will change the over-all appearance of items on your screen, and everything will be larger and easier to read. And things will not get pushed off the edges, which a magnification, or “zoom” tool can sometimes do. If you try this, and do not like the effect, or look, of 120 dpi, simply repeat these steps and set it back to 96.

• For more vision-related settings adjustments, read this article as well.

[addenda: If you have tried these options, you may want to consider the purchase of a 22 (or larger) inch LCD monitor. Sure they’re more expensive, but It really does make a tremendous difference. I recently did this for my mother, and she can’t stop commenting on the “wonderful” improvement.]

Today’s free link(s):
• Authors, researchers, and teachers know the wonderful depository of information that is the Library of Congress. It is THE place for reference materials, digitized films, and everything ever published in the US. Much of it (if not all) is available online. Check it out, and be amazed.

Five tips for becoming a superstar blogger (humor)

Want to increase traffic to your blog by five thousand percent? These simple tips are guaranteed to work!

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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July 20, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Empowering the Blind– Assistive Technology

Folks, I am a bit timid writing today’s article because there’s simply no way I can write it without showing my ignorance. I am not blind, nor otherwise physically impaired. I have no first hand knowledge what agencies or organizations are operating in your area, nor what the pertinent laws are.
I hope you’ll bear this in mind as you read this.

A few days ago I received a call at my online Tech Support biz from a gentleman who wanted me to look over his computer and make sure it was “up to snuff” and working optimally, because, he said, “hopefully, Ill be using it for a job.”
After answering a few of my routine questions, he had a question for me– was I familiar with JAWS?

I said I’d never heard of it. He told me “I can’t use my computer without it. I’m completely blind.” (He had a very old version, and there were some issues; thus, his call.)
We talked about life as a blind person for a while.. what impressed me most was this man’s desire to work.

Later on, I did some research, knowing that there may very well be a Tech–for Everyone topic there. It turns out that JAWS is the premier screen reading AT program.. and the most expensive– $895 for the Standard version.

[A screen reader is a software application that attempts to identify and interpret what is being displayed on the screen. This interpretation is then represented to the user with text-to-speech, sound icons, or as braille output. Screen readers are a form of assistive technology (AT) useful to people who are blind, visually impaired, illiterate or learning disabled, often used in combination with other AT such as screen magnifiers.]

My client was caught in a classic “catch-22”. He wanted to work so he could “be a man” and have some money. He needed the software to work. He could receive some financial assistance to pay for the software, if he was employed (and could prove the software was vital to that employment).
Sigh.

What is available: If you, or someone you know needs access to assistive technology– here is what my research has uncovered.

Built-in AT: Recent versions of Microsoft Windows come with the rather basic text-reading Narrator, while Apple Mac OS X includes VoiceOver, a more feature-rich screen reader. The console-based Oralux Linux distribution ships with three screen-reading environments: Emacspeak, Yasr and Speakup. The open source GNOME desktop environment includes Gnopernicus and now Orca.

Free/Open Source:
For Windows
* NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) is a free, open source, portable screen reader for Microsoft Windows. The project was begun by Michael Curran  in 2006. Although development progress has been rapid, it should still be considered alpha software.

Those listed above are it: the rest are commercial products, and range in price. All are a significant investment. Wikipedia has posted a list/comparison chart of screen readers that is a very good place to begin looking at your options.
Also, the Website Disabled World has a , complete with short reviews.

My compassion and empathy were stimulated by speaking with my client, and grasping his catch-22 dilemma. I wanted to help him be a productive member of society, and get him the proper tool, but felt powerless.
Maybe something can be done.. but what? If I am missing something, would you let me (us) know? Post a Comment.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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August 21, 2008 Posted by | computers, PC, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More tweaks for easier viewing (reposting)

For those of you who find themselves squinting at your screen, or having to lean in real close, just to be able to read that darn small text, there are a couple of quick settings adjustments you can make that will make the items on your screen bigger, without pushing everything off of the edges. Microsoft calls these adjustments “Accessibility” settings.. which makes a certain amount of sense, if you think of reading your screen as “accessing” the information.

Tip of the day: Enlarge your fonts and icons for easier reading. The first and easiest way is to change the screen settings to a larger dpi (dots per inch), which is not the same thing as changing your screen’s resolution. Your screen resolution is determined (usually) by your monitor’s size, and should be set to the highest setting your monitor allows. This is the number of ‘lines’ drawn to create your screen image, and the more lines you have the crisper (sharper) your image will be, reducing the blocky effect called “pixilation.
However, increasing you resolution has the consequence of making the items on your screen smaller. But, that is what you want to do anyway; the higher the resolution the better.

To offset the shrinking effects of high resolution, (or simply to aid those with less than terrific vision) increase the dpi number. Right-click on any blank area of your desktop. Click on the bottom menu choice — “Personalize” in Vista, and “Properties” in older versions. I will demonstrate Vista first.
dpi.jpg
Click on the menu link (on the left) “Adjust font size (DPI)”, and then click on the lower radio button and change the number from 96 to 120.
scale.jpg

In XP (and older), there are a few more steps to get to the right menu. From the Display Properties window, click on the Settings tab. In the lower right is an “Advanced” button, click on it. This opens a new Properties window.
scrnprop.jpg
Here you will use the drop-down arrow under “DPI setting:” which allows you to choose 120, or “Custom”. The Custom offers a sliding scale to set the dpi, and you can fine tune your setting here.. perhaps you prefer 112 dots-per-inch. Make sure the “Apply the new settings without restarting” radio button is selected to avoid a un-needed reboot.

These steps will change the over-all appearance of items on your screen, and everything will be larger and easier to read. And things will not get pushed off the edges, which a magnification, or “zoom” tool can sometimes do. If you try this, and do not like the effect, or look, of 120 dpi, simply repeat these steps and set it back to 96.. or try a number in-between.

For more vision-related settings adjustments, read this article as well.

[update: a reader comment has prompted me to make it clear that these Options have been a part of Windows all the way back to Windows 95] 

[addenda: If you have tried these options, you may want to consider the purchase of a 22 (or larger) inch LCD monitor. Sure they’re more expensive, but It really does make a tremendous difference. I recently did this for my mother, and she can’t stop commenting on the “wonderful” improvement.]

Today’s free link: Authors, researchers, and teachers know the wonderful depository of information that is the Library of Congress. It is THE place for reference materials, digitized films, and everything ever published in the US. Much of it (if not all) is available online. Check it out, and be amazed.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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February 8, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , | Leave a comment

More tweaks for weak eyes/readability

Yesterday I demonstrated a quick adjustment to your screen settings that will enlarge your screen’s objects (icons, windows, fonts, etc.) and make things easier to read. (If it does not appear directly below this article, click here.) Today I am going to describe additional steps that can assist those of you who need even more help, or/and suffer from such maladies as color blindness.

Tip of the day: Use Windows’ Accessibility options to make your screen easier to read. Start by accessing your Control Panel: Start >Settings >Control Panel, or Start >Control Panel.
cp1.jpg
Now click on “Accessibility Options”, which will open one of the more important Windows Properties windows: one that I consider to be the most overlooked.
accessopts.jpg
Since we are discussing vision today, we’re going to work with the “Display” tab; but I want to point out that you can make adjustments here that will assist if you have some hearing loss, have trouble typing due to arthritis, and such.
For today, we are going to enlarge things for easier reading so put a check in the checkbox marked “Use High Contrast” and then click the “Advanced” button.
hcsettings.jpg
Click on the drop-down arrow to see all the High Contrast “color schemes”. If color blindness is not an issue for you, you will be interested in the normal Windows themes at the bottom of the list. The Windows “Standard” is the XP or Vista theme (depending), and the “Classic” is the look of Windows 2000 and older.
Choose “Large”, or “Extra large”, and then click “Apply” and “OK”. The screenshot below shows how the choice “Standard, Extra large” looks when applied to an XP machine.
highcontrast.jpg
I have also made two adjustments to the cursor which will help you keep your eye on its location; increasing the “blink rate” to the maximum, and thickened its width.

If you have some difficulty differentiating shades of color, or perhaps have true color blindness, refer back to the list of of High Contrast themes — you may have to try a few until you find just the right one to remedy your particular difficulty, but there is quite a few options.. one should be right for you. Below, I have applied an extremely high contrast theme, which would take some getting used to…but is easy to read.
hc.jpg
If you have applied any of these settings and do not like the results, unchecking the “Use High Contrast” checkbox will restore your settings to where you were before.

Today’s free link: Today I’m going to re-post a tool I just don’t think enough people know about. CCleaner (“crap” cleaner) not only increases your privacy and security by removing Histories, cookies, and “temp” Internet files, but it includes a Registry cleaner/repair and a Startup manager and Uninstall tool as well.

Copyright 2007 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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October 23, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, tech, Uncategorized, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , | 3 Comments