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May 28, 2024 BT Speak® System Upgrade Posted By: BT Development Team

Blazie Technologies is pleased to offer a new update for all owners of the BT Speak. Keep reading to learn what has been added or changed, including enhancements to the agenda calendar, support for additional voices and the ability to listen to over 47,000 radio stations using our new radio tuner application.

How to Install the Update

  1.  Ensure that you are connected to Wi-Fi and that your battery charge is higher than 50%. To be safe we recommend that you have your unit plugged into either a wall outlet or a USB device capable of charging the battery during the upgrade process.

  2. Press O-chord to open the Options menu.

  3. Press S for the System menu.

  4. Press S for the System Administration menu.

  5. Press U for “Upgrade the System.”

  6. You will be asked if you want to perform the upgrade. To proceed press the letter Y (for yes) followed by the enter key (dot 8.)

During the update process your device will issue short vibrations. It will also provide you with status updates as to what components are being downloaded. During this process you don’t need to do anything; just sit back and let your BT Speak install what it needs for the update. When the update is complete your BT Speak will restart. Once you hear the familiar “BT Speak Ready” message you’ll be able to enjoy the new improvements we’ve added.

The Media Menu

The Media menu is available from the Applications menu. Here are the options which you’ll find in this menu, along with their shortcut keys.
•    Media Controls: M
•    Media Files: F
•    Radio Tuner: R
•    Pandora (U.S. only): P

Listening to Radio Stations

We have added a radio tuner to the Media menu which contains over 47,000 radio stations. You can locate radio stations by searching for them or you can browse the list of stations by their location.

The Radio Tuner Menu

To access the Radio Tuner menu, press O-chord to enter the options menu. Next, open the Applications menu by navigating to it by pressing dot 4-chord or by pressing the letter A as a shortcut. From the Applications menu, open the Media menu with the letter M being the shortcut. Next, open the Radio Tuner menu, with R being the shortcut.
The options in this menu, along with their corresponding shortcut keys, are:
•    Listen to a Station: L
•    Browse Stations by Location: B
•    Favorite Stations: F
•    Blindness Community Stations: C
•    Refresh the Station Database: R

Listen to a Station (Shortcut is L)

When choosing the option for listening to a station, your BT Speak says, “enter the station’s name.” You don’t have to enter the full name of the station that you want to listen to. You are free to enter a partial name, such as BBC, followed by dot 8 or the enter key.
After entering a full or partial station name, your BT Speak says, “Radio Station Index, (your search term) Open.” 
You can navigate through the list of stations which were found as a result of your search. Pressing dot 4-chord moves forward through the list of stations. Pressing dot 1-chord moves backward through the list. Don’t forget that in any of these menus you can also press the space key to move forward or the dot 7 key to move backward. When you hear the name of a station that you want to listen to, press dot 8 or enter to begin listening.
The station should begin playing in just a few seconds. The station that you selected will also be logged by the radiobrowser.info database, which we are using to access these stations.
Once the station begins playing, you will be in a menu of media controls which is known as the Stream Actions menu. The following controls will be available.
Decrease the Media Volume: ( (dots 1-2-3-5-6)
Increase the Media Volume: ) (dots 2-3-4-5-6)
Pause or Resume This Stream: P
Metadata For this Stream: M
Description of this Stream: D
Add to Favorites: A
Remove From Favorites: R
Vote For This Station: V (this option lets the database provider know that you like the station you’re listening to)
As a reminder, any of these menu options, including specific radio stations, can be brought into your own personalized user menu, a feature we added in a previous update. To do this, simply point to the menu option that you want to put into the user menu and press control+C to copy it into the user menu. This is done by pressing the letter C along with dots 7 and 8 or you can press X-chord followed by the letter C. To access your customized user menu, press O-chord followed by the letter U.

Browse Stations by Location: B

From the Radio Tuner menu, you will find “Browse Stations by Location.” Pressing dot 8 while pointing to this option takes you to the country index. You can navigate through the list of available countries by pressing dot 4-chord to move forward or dot 1-chord to move backward. You can also press the first letter of the country you’re interested in. As an example, to locate stations from the United States, you can repeatedly press the letter U until you hear “United States.” Press enter to open the desired country. Next, you’ll be in an index of states and you can navigate through this list just as you could with the list of countries. Keep drilling down through the various menus until you find the station that you want to listen to and press dot 8 to begin playing it.
Once the station begins playing, you will be in the Stream Actions menu for performing tasks such as decreasing or increasing the media volume, pausing/resuming the station, adding the station to a favorite, etc.

Favorite Stations: F

Once you’ve added a station as a favorite, you can access them from the Radio Tuner menu. From this menu, move to “Favorite Stations” and press dot 8 or enter to open the list.

Once the station begins playing, you are free to remove it as a favorite. From the resulting Stream Actions menu, you can navigate to “Remove From Favorites” or you can press the letter R as a shortcut.

Blindness Community Stations: C

From the Radio Tuner menu, you will find the option “Blindness Community Stations”, with C being the shortcut. This will provide a menu of subcategories and other stations which may be of special interest or relevance to blind listeners, such as the ACB Media streams, radio reading services, etc.

Refresh the Station Database: R

This option from the Radio Tuner menu redownloads the entire database of radio stations to your BT Speak. It may take 25-30 seconds for this process to complete, perhaps a bit longer.

The Media Controls Menu

If you go to the Options menu and choose Applications, then open the Media submenu, you will find the Media Controls menu. This contains controls for media that you are playing from a file on your device or on a thumb drive or SD card. These controls can also be used to control the playback of a stream that you’re listening to from the radio tuner. It contains the following items, along with their corresponding shortcut keys.
•    Pause or Resume the Media Player: P
•    Previous Track: < (dots 1-2-6)
•    Next Track: > (dots 3-4-5)
•    Back Ten Seconds: { (dots 2-4-6)
•    Forward Ten Seconds: } (dots 1-2-4-5-6)
•    Restart the Current Track: R
•    Metadata for the Current Track: M
•    Description of the Current Stream: D
•    Decrease the Media Volume: ( (dots 1-2-3-5-6)
•    Increase the Media Volume: ) (dots 2-3-4-5-6)
•    Decrease the Media Rate: - (dots 3-6)
•    Increase the Media Rate: + (dots 3-4-6)
•    Reset the Media Rate: = (dots 1-2-3-4-5-6)

Browse Media Files

This menu allows you to browse for media files that you might have on your BT Speak or on an external device, such as a thumb drive or an SD card. The Media Files menu contains the following options, along with their corresponding shortcut keys.
•    Home Directory: H
•    Current Directory: C
•    Public Directory: P
•    SD Card: S
•    USB Storage: U
•    National Anthems: N
If you choose one of these folders and if media files are found, you will be placed in a list containing each of the files that were located. In addition, you will find options for playing all of the media files as sorted or shuffled. If you choose Sorted, each media file in the folder that you chose will play, one after the other. If you choose the Shuffle option, all of the files in the directory will play but the order of the files will be shuffled.

New Global Hotkeys for Controlling Media Playback

If you are listening to a radio station or playing a media file on your device, you can now use newly added keyboard shortcuts to control the media playback. These keystrokes will work in any file that may be open, meaning that you don’t need to be in the Media menu for them to work. Here are the new hotkeys we’ve added.
•    Decrease the Media Volume: Dots 1-2-3-5-6 chord
•    Increase the Media Volume: Dots 2-3-4-5-6 chord
•    Pause or Resume the Media Player: Dots 1-2-5-6 chord
•    Go to the Previous Track: Dots 1-2-5-6-7 chord
•    Go to the Next Track: Dots 1-2-5-6-8 chord
•    Restart the Current Track: Dots 1-2-5-6-7-8 chord
If you press any of these keys and no media is playing, you will hear the familiar error tone indicating that the keystroke was rejected.

New Voices and New Text to Speech Engines are Now Available

We have added new voices to the BT Speak, including six voices from RH Voice and nearly 100 voices from eSpeak.

Switching to the New Speech Engines or Synthesizers

1.    Press O-chord for the Options menu.
2.    Press S for the System menu.
3.    Press S for the System Administration menu.
4.    Press S for Change Settings.
5.    Press S for Speech Settings.
6.    Press T for Text to Speech Engine.
You will now find four options: eSpeak NG, Dec-talk, RH Voice and Vocalizer. Please note that the Vocalizer voices are not installed on the BT Speak. Vocalizer voices need to be purchased online from the Oralux Association Web site. This process will be documented in a later section.

New Speech Options

To access options for changing the voice and language for each of the text to speech engines:
1.    Press O-chord for the Options menu.
2.    Press S for the System menu.
3.    Press S for the System Administration menu.
4.    Press S for Change Settings.
5.    Press S for Speech Settings.
From this menu, you will find the following submenus, along with their corresponding shortcut keys:
eSpeak NG Settings: E
Dec-talk Settings: D
RH Voice Settings: R
Vocalizer Settings: V
TTS Engine: T
For the first four options, opening these menus will provide options for changing the language and voice for each of the available TTS engines. RH Voice provides 6 voices and eSpeak now offers 100 voices.

Voice Notes Settings

This new menu allows you to determine the file format used by the Voice Notes app. 
To access Voice Notes Settings:
1.    Press O-chord for the Options menu.
2.    Press S for the System menu.
3.    Press S for the System Administration menu.
4.    Press S for the Change Settings menu.
5.    Press V for the Voice Notes Settings menu.
Currently, this menu only contains one option:
Set the Recording Format
With F being the shortcut key. Opening this menu provides three options: MP3, Free Lossless Audio Codec and Wav.

Adjusting the Microphone Level

We have added the capability to control the level of the microphone. To locate these settings, go to Options, System, Audio. You will find the following two new options, along with their corresponding shortcuts.
Microphone Volume Down: ( (dots 1-2-3-5-6-)
Microphone Volume Up: ) (dots 2-3-4-5-6)
These two settings were actually added in the April update and we apologize for not documenting them at that time. 

The Applications Menu Has Been Reorganized

The Applications menu, which you access from the Options menu, used to provide a lengthy list containing all of the applications. We have reorganized this menu and all of the applications are now grouped into relevant categories, including Voice, Audio, Reference, Web and Specialized Applications.

Changes to the Agenda Calendar

The following improvements and features have been added to the calendar based on your feedback:

Importing and Exporting Your Calendar

The Calendar Options menu now includes the ability to export a backup of your calendar. Unlike the “Save as Text” option, an exported calendar will save to your home directory as a read-only JSON file with a .btcal extension. This is useful for saving backups, but not ideal for interacting with your calendar entries. Use the “Save as Text” option from the Calendar Options menu to accomplish the latter.
You can also import a backup calendar from your home directory. Only properly formatted .btcal files can be imported and you'll be prompted to confirm the import. Be careful as this action will replace your current calendar with the imported one.

Other Changes to the Calendar

•    The 'default date' setting has been removed from the Calendar Options menu. Instead, leaving the date field empty when creating an appointment will save the calendar entry to today's date.
•    When browsing your calendar by week or month, the “next” and “previous” options are now properly labeled, such as “next week”, “previous month”, etc.
•    The calendar settings now adhere to the same format, look and feel as other system settings in the BT Speak.
•    In the calendar help file, the list of acceptable date and time entry formats are now split into multiple lines to improve readability.

New Desktop Mode Command to Force Focus to the Desktop Panel

When in desktop mode, pressing D-chord along with dots 7 and 8 moves focus to the desktop panel. Pressing this chord may be helpful if the Orca Preferences screen doesn’t load when pressing O-chord along with dot 7. Move your focus to the desktop panel and then you should be able to open Orca’s preferences.

New Capability For Finding Items in Menus

When in a menu, typing a lowercase letter searches for an item by its shortcut just like it always has. What's new is that typing an uppercase letter now searches for an item based on the first character of its label.
For example, from the Options menu the number sign key (dots 3-4-5-6) is used to open the stopwatch. With this new capability, you are also able to type an uppercase S to locate any items that begin with that letter, including Stopwatch. You can do this by pressing dot 7 along with the letter. Alternatively, you can also type a U-chord followed by the letter S. This method will not open the option but will just move to it.
This capability also works in the file menu. As an example, suppose that you want to open a file which is named “Journal.” From the file menu, typing the letter J along with dot 7 moves to the first file that begins with that letter. If the file that you have moved to is not the file that you wanted to open, you can keep pressing the letter J with dot 7 until you locate it. You can also press U-chord (for upper case) followed by the letter J.

Shortcut Keys Are Now Always Announced When Navigating Through Menus

When you navigate through a menu, you will now hear the shortcut key spoken for each item after the item’s name is announced. For example, when navigating through the Options menu you will hear “Applications, shortcut is A”, “Time, Shortcut is T”, etc. This may help you to eventually remember shortcut keys for menu items that you frequently access, which will help you to get to those items quickly.

Unpacking an Archive File

When in the File Browser, pressing enter when pointing to an archive file now asks you if you would like to unpack the file. If you answer "yes" the file is unpacked into a directory with the same name as the original name of the archive file with "-unpacked" appended to the title. This feature currently supports the following file extensions: .zip, .tar and .tgz.

New AI Chat Application

The Web Applications menu contains a vastly improved AI Chat application. You can find details about this new application within the new AI Chat help topic. Additionally, you can listen to its author's (Tim Noonan) audio demos, which can be found on his Web site: 
http://TimNoonan.com.au/ai-chat/

Miscellaneous Changes

•    The audio reset hotkey (dots 2-3-5-6-7-8-chord) - now resets the master volume to 60% (this used to be 95%). It also now resets the text-to-speech engine to eSpeak.
•    In previous updates, pressing Z-chord from within a file would close the file and put you into the welcome screen. This has been fixed. Now, pressing Z-chord no longer exits the editor. If you want to go to the welcome screen from a file, you can still do this by pressing a Z-chord with dot 7, which is known as the deep escape.
•    We have added the English U.K. Braille table. You will find this option by opening the Options menu and then opening System, System Administration, Change Settings, Braille Settings, Braille Table.
•    When a menu or submenu has been opened, the BT Speak now announces “opened” after speaking the name of the menu, such as “system menu opened.” This will help to confirm that you have opened the menu.
•    Audio should now return to the internal speaker when disconnecting from a Bluetooth device.
•    In previous updates, you might have received an error message when attempting to rename or delete a Bluetooth device. This should be resolved.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoy the new features and improvements we have added to the BT Speak. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with your questions and feedback.
Phone: (772) 214-1616
Email: support@blazie.net
To join our support discussion group, send an email to
Btspeak+subscribe@groups.io

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