Emacspeak-11.0 (Aster) Release Notes

Announcing Emacspeak-11.0 (Aster)

For Immediate Release

Mountain View, Calif., (November 29, 1999)
Emacspeak-2000: Opening Doors To A Windows-Free 2000.
--Zero cost of ownership makes priceless software affordable!

What Is It?

Emacspeak is a fully functional audio desktop that provides complete eyes-free access to all major 32 and 64 bit operating environments. By seamlessly blending all aspects of the Internet such as Web-surfing and electronic messaging into the audio desktop, Emacspeak enables speech access to local and remote information with a consistent and well-integrated user interface. With support for the freely downloadable IBM ViaVoice Outloud speech synthesis engine, Emacspeak now turns Linux into the first zero-cost Internet access solution for blind and visually impaired users.

Code Name Note

After 10 years of loyal service, Aster Labrador retired from active duty as a guide-dog on November 28, 1999. She has agreed to stay on as Emacspeak's press contact for the immediate future. This release is code named Aster in honour of her unflagging service over these last 10 years.

Emacspeak At The Bazaar

The speech-enabling approach as implemented in Emacspeak and its relevance to speech-enabling the Linux desktop will be presented at The Bazaar --The Technology Of Cooperation at the Jacob Javits Center, New York, December 15, 1999.

Major Enhancements

  1. Support for IBM ViaVoice Outloud (beta) for Linux.
  2. Further enhancements to single-click web-search.
  3. Enhanced auditory icons using midi synthesis.
  4. Single click access to desktop audio utilities including
    1. Mixer (aumix) support for setting mixer values
    2. CD player support via cdplay
    3. MP3 support via mpg123
  5. Speech-enabled RPM browser.
  6. Speech-enabled gnuplot support.
  7. --and a lot more than will fit in this margin.

See the NEWS file for additional details. The Emacspeak source distribution now includes a structured FAQ list designed to introduce new and old users to the Emacspeak environment.

Opening Doors To A Windows-Free 2000

Emacspeak is now voluntarily bundled with all major Linux distributions. Extensive studies have shown that users consider Emacspeak to be absolutely priceless. Thanks to this wide-spread user demand, the present version is being made available at the same zero cost as earlier releases. At the same time, Emacspeak-2000 continues to innovate in the area of speech interaction and carries forward the well-established Open Source tradition of introducing user interface features that eventually show up in commercial user environments. On this theme, when recently challenged by a proponent of a crash-prone but well-marketed windowing system with the assertion "Emacs is a system from the 70's", the creator of Emacspeak expressed surprize at the unusual candor manifest in the assertion that it would take popular idiot-proof interfaces until the year 2070 to catch up to where the Emacspeak audio desktop is today. Upon hearing this, the said proponent of the crash-prone system turned blue in the face (screen), crashed to the floor and refused to get booted (ever again). Industry experts welcomed this refreshing breath of Courage Certainty and Clarity (CCC) at a time when users are reeling from the Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) unleashed by complex software systems backed by even more convoluted press releases.

Independent Test Results

Independent test results have proven that unlike some modern software, Emacspeak can be easily uninstalled without adversely affecting the continued performance of the computer. These same tests also revealed that once uninstalled, the user stopped functioning altogether. Speaking with Aster Labrador this morning, the creator of Emacspeak pointed out that these results once again emphasize the user-centric design of Emacspeak; "It is the user --and not the computer-- that stops functioning when Emacspeak is uninstalled!". Note from Aster: (UnDoctored Videos Inc. is currently looking for volunteers to star in a video demonstrating such complete user failure).


Emacspeak-11.0 --code named Aster-- goes the final step in making Linux a zero-cost Internet access solution for blind and visually impaired users. Emacspeak-10.0 --(AKA Emacspeak-2000) code named WonderDog-- was the last in a series of award-winning software releases designed to make eyes-free computing a productive and pleasurable experience. Emacspeak-9.0 --(AKA Emacspeak 99) code named BlackLab-- continued to innovate in the areas of speech interaction and interactive accessibility. Emacspeak-8.0 --(AKA Emacspeak-98++) code named BlackDog-- was a major upgrade to the speech output extension to Emacs.

Emacspeak-95 (code named Illinois) was released as OpenSource on the Internet in May 1995 as the first complete speech interface to UNIX workstations. The subsequent release, Emacspeak-96 (code named Egypt) made available in May 1996 provided significant enhancements to the interface. Emacspeak-97 (Tennessee) went further in providing a true audio desktop. Emacspeak-98 integrated Internetworking into all aspects of the audio desktop to provide the first fully interactive speech-enabled WebTop.

Obtaining Emacspeak

Visit Emacspeak on the WWW at Cornell --You can also pick up emacspeak via anonymous ftp from ftp://ftp.cs.cornell.edu/pub/raman/emacspeak/. You can subscribe to the emacspeak mailing list emacspeak@cs.vassar.edu by sending mail to the list request address greg e. priest-dorman.

About Emacspeak

Based at Cornell (NY) http://cs.cornell.edu/home/raman --home to Auditory User Interfaces (AUI) on the WWW-- Emacspeak is mirrored world-wide by an international netwrok of software archives and bundled voluntarily with all major Linux distributions. On Monday, April 12, 1999, Emacspeak became part of the Smithsonian's Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

The Emacspeak mailing list is archived at Vassar --the home of the Emacspeak mailing list-- thanks to Greg Priest-Dorman, and provides a valuable knowledge base for new users.

About This Release

This press release is certified to be Y2K compliant.
More importantly, the software described is W2K free.
Press/Analyst Contact: Aster Labrador
Windows-Free (WF) is a favorite battle-cry of The League Against Forced Fenestration (LAFF).
--see this overview of details on the ill-effects of Forced Fenestration.
CopyWrite )C( Aster Labrador. All Writes Reserved.
WonderDog (DM), BlackDog (DM) and Labrador (DM) are Registered Dogmarks of Aster Labrador.
All other dogs belong to their respective owners.

Previous Release Notes

Here is a link to the release notes for the previous major release, Emacspeak-10.0
Email: raman@cs.cornell.edu
Last modified: Mon Nov 29 09:11:19 1999