No sound on my MacBook Pro

Picture of a Sound Mirror, with John Rousell

I’m in the middle of a very busy period of work right now and one of the things that helps to save my sanity during lonely nights in a Travelodge is the ability to listen to music or watch DVDs on my laptop.  My laptop is a 15″ MacBook Pro and I wouldn’t swap it for the world.  However, it does have its idiosyncrasies! Idiosyncrasies that often make we want to just chuck it out of the window.

At this moment in time, I cannot load the latest copy of Microsoft Office onto the laptop because it simply won’t read the (official, paid for) DVD. It will however (fingers crossed) read other DVDs so that problem is on the back shelf until I can get to one of the ‘local’ Apple Stores (all an hours drive away).

A much more immediate problem appeared recently.

As I travelled back from Maidenhead last Friday, I continued to work on some documents as I listened to music on my headphones. So far, so normal. Then this weekend, as I worked on my previous blog post, I wished to listen to music without the headphones but no sound would come out of the laptop. I tried everything I knew to cure the problem but without success. So it was ‘on to the Internet’ …

I found this post was probably the most technically correct, but the solution didn’t work for me. However, the author did lead me to this forum, where the cure was really found. My worry about this solution though (it DID work) is twofold:

  1. A) – the forum thread started back in 2006 (so it’s not a new problem – come on Apple, get your finger out) and
  2. B) – a matchstick! Really? A £1,300 laptop has to be prodded with a matchstick!!! Grrr.

Anyway, many thanks to everyone who bothers to post solutions to techie problems on the internet. You are the salt of the earth. Thank you.

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iPhone 3GS Accessibility

iPhones have a unique screen reading capability.

This can be very useful for those who are blind or visually impaired. I was very impressed when I first saw this demonstrated at the Apple offices in London. As soon as I’d got my own iPhone to play with – I checked it out. Apparently, all of this works with the latest version of  the iTouch too (but not the 8gig version)

Basically there is a VoiceOver function and a Zoom function.

These can be accessed by clicking on Settings >> General >> (scroll down now) >> Accessibility.  See the image flow below to check your progress.

Screen shots of setting up accessibility functions on iPhoneThe VoiceOver and Zoom functions cannot be used at the same time.

Things to remember when using VoiceOver:

  • To navigate the phone whilst VoiceOver is active, you have to change the way you ‘touch’ the screen. To activate an App or an instruction, you have to first of all tap the required function and then double-tap to open or activate it.
  • To scroll up and down or to flick right or left you have to use three fingers on the screen.
  • When the phone has closed down (i.e. there is no active screen) it is reactivated by touching the home button. The VoiceOver function defaults to read out the time (always present on the opening screen), so you know immediately where you are. One tap at the bottom of the screen tells you what to do next – double-tap to unlock – and the phone opens at whatever screen you were last on and tells you which that was.

Try going to Safari and opening a web page (try a BBC news page). As you tap through the news reports the voice over function will read back the text.

The Rotor

By rotating two fingers (your finger and thumb) on the screen as if you were turning an actual dial, you can change the way VoiceOver navigates the text.

“For example, a flick up or down might move through text word by word. But when you choose the “character” setting, each time you flick up or down VoiceOver will move through the text character by character — perfect when you’re proofreading or editing text.”
From http://www.apple.com/accessibility/iphone/vision.html downloaded 04/01/10

and

Entering text

Writing text can be a real trial. You have to ‘tap’ each letter to select it and then ‘double-tap’ to use it. This can be hard work with the small on-screen keyboard for sighted users, so it could be very difficult for those without sight. As a sighted user, I got into it fairly quickly but it’s a very slow process and quite frustrating. It would be interesting to hear what others think?

Zoom

Although most pages can have their size increased by using Apple’s unique ‘pinch and spread’ function – not all respond to this. The Zoom function is therefore quite useful for some sight impaired users as it works on all screens.

Once the function is turned on, you just double-tap with three fingers to activate the toggle. Drag three fingers around the screen to move the magnified image. It is suggested that another double-tap will allow the user to increase or decrease the size of magnification – but I’ve been unable to do that (doh). (Added later — To increase and decrease the level of magnification, you must do a three-finger double tap, keeping your fingers on the screen after the second tap. While keeping your three fingers on the screen, move up to increase magnification and move down to decrease magnification. Lift your fingers off the screen when the desired magnification level is reached. From http://www.nillabyte.com/blog.php?b=2 – below)

See also:
http://www.nillabyte.com/blog.php?b=280
(Report on iPhone Accessibility function use)

http://maccessibility.net/iphone/apps/
A list of Apps that work with VoiceOver

For much more help – visit: http://www.apple.com/accessibility/iphone/vision.html

Zoom

Although most pages can have their size increased by using Apple’s unique ‘pinch and spread’ function – not all respond to this. The Zoom function is therefore quite useful for some sight impaired users as it works on all screens.

Once the function is turned on, you just double-tap with three fingers to activate the toggle. Drag three fingers around the screen to move the magnified image. It is suggested that another double-tap will allow the user to increase or decrease the size of magnification – but I’ve been unable to do that (doh).