Free Microsoft Office Lens speeds productivity

phone Office lens

Taking an photo of the screen

Office lens is a free app available on an iPhone, Android and Window smartphone  that links to One Drive accounts and allows you to take photographs and put them straight into Microsoft Office applications. The really good thing about Office Lens is that when I take a picture of a presentation or whiteboard I can make sure it is exactly the right shape and is straight not set at an angle using the outline on the screen by selecting the document or whiteboard menu item.

image alignment for OCR

Making sure the image is straight for OCR

That is really important if you are taking photos of text that you want to have read aloud later.  If they appear out of focus or at an odd angle you will not be able to use Optical Character Recognition (OCR), to have the image converted to text so you can use a text to speech or screen reader application later on.  Once you have taken your photo you choose which application you want to send it to and if this is Microsoft Word it will extract the text.  The other options are your photos on the phone, OneNote, OneDrive, PowerPoint and Outlook or your phone mail if you want to send it as an email attachment.  The app will also save it as a PDF.

ready for export

Ready for exporting

The best thing I like about Office Lens is how it is linked to OneNote because I can collect all the images, notes and presentations, even photos of handwritten notes straight into my Notes folder and then I can search for them at any time,  as  I really have trouble remembering what I have heard in lectures etc and this process acts as a back up .

Getting started with Microsoft Office Lens from cnet

Abi James – Researcher University of Southampton.

Free ssOverlay to tint the screen

I use coloured glasses when working with computers but our network has ssOverlay. which I can use if I forget them!   You can select the colour you want from settings arrow and activate the overlay.  It covers the screen completely and can be turned off and on from the bottom right of the taskbar. where a small yellow arrow can be seen.  Right hand mouse and you can exit the program. It is very simple and easy to use.

ssoverlay screenshot
ssOverlay (921Kb download )
“Very similar to Dark Screen, ssOverlay (the ss stands for Scotopic Sensitivity), places a coloured overlay onto the screen. The colour and transparency levels can be adjusted to suit the user.”

Gloucester College student working on StemReader for Maths

f.lux and eyestrain – cool colours for the day and warm for the evening.

screen view of tintIf you are struggling with eye strain, because of screen glare, then the application ‘f.lux‘ may help you. The software changes the colour temperature of your screen based on the time of day. Daylight has a considerable amount of blue light; whereas sunset and late evening have much warmer tones. F.lux changes the screen from daylight settings to sunset or late evening settings. The application has a basis for its development within research – the negative impact of blue or day light on a person reading at night.

I downloaded the application and have already found it has had a positive impact on my eye strain. The initial setup did not take long but the changing of your location can be a bit clunky and you will need to check the longitude and latitude of your location. I’d recommend just typing the name of the village, town or city that you live in into Google asking for the longitude and latitude. Once setup the application runs unobtrusively in the background.

I would still recommend running f.lux in conjunction with altering your screens brightness or contrast. The application also has a feature that enables you to override the settings temporarily in case you need to do colour work – graphic designers, reprographics and commercial print companies will need to take note.

Free for Windows.(also available for Mac, Linux , and iPhone/iPad)

Here is some more information about eyestrain and computer screens from Wired

Neil
Course or Programme of Study: PhD in Computer Science

Extra note

“‘During the daylight hours, f.lux keeps your monitor relatively cool with a default color temperature of 6500K. Your brain tends to associate blue light with daylight. At night, f.lux dials down the color temperature to a warmer, more yellow glow (3400K). You can also choose from presets (Candle, Tungsten, Halogen, Fluorescent, and Daylight) or adjust the settings to another specific preference. In general, the yellower the light, the less straining it is on your eyes’”

Screen Adjuster for Android that adds a tinted overlay

Default Samsung Galaxy screen

Samsung Galaxy screen tinted blue

I’ve found that Screen Adjuster for Android works well at tinting and adjusting brightness of the screen. Screen Adjuster allows you to change contrast, brightness and colour of the screen really quickly and easily.
However, working with the app can be very frustrating when you want to move the sliders near the edge of the touch screen.  The swipe gesture may not always respond.   Otherwise the app is free and easy to use and can even dim the screen below the system settings.

screen grab of Screen Adjuster

Screen Adjuster showing slider near the edge of the screen

Screen Adjuster runs on Android 2.2+ and is on Google Play – there is a version that costs 0.73p that comes without the advertisements.

Martin

Google Drive for online storage and collaboration

google drive

Google Drive is an online tool which uses your Google account to store files online and can also be used to share files with other people and work on projects together. Being able to join in with a few others to work on a project and be able to take a break and have work still done is really useful.

Google Drive is able to create files, even from your desktop, and pick the permissions of who is allowed to edit it. More than one person can work on the file at the same time and the service has a chat panel for the people working in it, so that they can communicate. Everyone working on the file is given a colour and it shows who is typing when multiple people are working. Google Drive can also use documents from other applications to help create a project such as Google docs and Google sheets.

Google Drive is compatible Windows Vista, XP, 7, 8
Mac, mavericks (10.9), Mountain Lion (10.8), Lion (10.7)
Linux can access Google Drive through the website but the software is not available on the system
android 4.0+ and iOS 7.0+ are able to use Google drive, android 2.3-3.2 and iOS 6.0+ Can only view the files
Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer run Google Drive but require Java script

Tom, Mathematics

Siri for Calendar and Time Management.

siri screengrab

Siri asked to check appointments on 22nd September

Siri is brilliant for calendar management and time/task management, but underused, you can verbally manage your calendar/ tasks which, I personally find reduces the burden on my working memory and is more intuitive .  The speed of which I can set myself a reminder by taking the phone out of my pocket rather than searching for a pen and paper which I inevitably end up losing anyway is astounding!  I really like iOS accessibility. I definitely find low maintenance strategies with gainful upsides work well.

Useful wikihow page on how to turn on Siri

John Hodgson
Study Needs Assessor

TextHelp Read & Write Gold with Screenshot Reader grabbing references

TextHelp Read and Write Gold

I have been using TextHelp Read and Write Gold with Screenshot Reader for many years and today it was brilliant as I needed to grab some references from a PowerPoint presentation that was online.  The references were inaccessible and I really did not want to copy them all out!  I highlighted the area around the references, grabbed the content and the Text Reader window appeared.  I selected the text that had virtually kept its correct layout – Copy all and paste (Ctrl+A  and Ctrl+ V) they were added to the blog I was writing and I was able to acknowledge the original authors of the presentation and have an accessible version of their references!  See the result on our Arabic Symbol Dictionary blog!

I should add this can be achieved with any screen grab and text conversion program and programs such as ClaroRead

E.A. – Researcher – University of Southampton.

Using Wikipedia with the OpenDyslexic font option

OpenDyslexic font

I found the option to change the fonts on Wikipedia to the OpenDyslexic font that can help with readability.  You will find there is a cog wheel by the Language menu in Wikipedia and this is where you can choose to change the look of the fonts.

The letters are more defined at the base which means they can not be easily switched to represent another letter or cause a confusion between letters as can occur with some types of dyslexia.

Computer Science Student  – University of Southampton.

Babelbar for reading aloud and changing the look of Facebook, Twitter and Google docs

“Babelbar works with Facebook, Twitter and Google docs.  It is useful if you do not have your own text to speech program.”

babelbar

 

google docs

Babelbar is an extension or add-on for internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari and appears over the web page.  You need to highlight the text first then it will speak.  It can change the colour background, font size and translate text.

 

 

 

Attendee at Accessing the Higher Ground Conference

AudioNote for iPad & iPhone

AudioNote screen grabsAudioNote is a fantastic note taking app. The official description from the app store tells you how you can synchronise notes and audio with each key point being linked to the moment when the lecturer talks about that subject.  Because it works on a tablet or phone there is no need to wait for the laptop to boot up.

Bookmarks can be created throughout the audio recording to highlight important points for easy referencing.  It allows you to take pictures and insert them into your notes and AudioNotes can be exported to Evernote, saved and organised there. A yellow background can be used instead of white for those with visual stress/sensitivity. It costs £2.99 and is available from the iTunes store.

This YouTube video is a good introduction to AudioNote

This comes with thanks to the Disability Advisory Service at Imperial College