November 4, 2010

Kim Komando answers your technology questions

OSKALOOSA — Q. My son has autism and is having trouble with reading comprehension. I believe he is reading too fast. Is there a program that can read text aloud slowly?

A. Yes, a few programs can help. I would start with Balabolka. This free program converts text to speech. You can change the voice type and alter settings like pitch and speed. It also has a lot of rules for proper articulation. That helps it sound less like a computer. Balabolka also supports many common file formats. These include Word, PDF and ePub. The software also highlights words as it reads, making it easy to follow along. Download Balabolka at komando.com/news. You might also check out Kurzweil’s software. It is the leader in software for the learning disabled. Prices start around $400.

Q. I use a satellite connection to access the Internet. I only have unlimited access from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. Can I schedule updates to download automatically during that time?

A. Absolutely! If you’re using Windows 7 or Vista go to Start>>Control Panel>>Windows Update. Select Change Settings at the left. In Windows XP, go to Start>>Control Panel>>Automatic Updates. Set the updates to download and install automatically. Then choose the day and time that works best for you. Set the time somewhere between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. Just make sure you leave your computer on before you go to bed.

Q. I use a Mac, and I have a few programs I start every time I boot up. Is there a way to do this automatically?

A. There sure is. Mac OS X has an easy feature for starting programs when you log in. Click the System Preferences icon on the Dock. Then click the Accounts icon and select the Login Items button. Select the applications that you would like OS X to open automatically at startup. If you don’t see the application you want, don’t worry. You can add it. Click on the Plus sign at the bottom of the Window. Now you can select the applications you want. 

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