At least you chose to respond when you didn’t have to. I suppose that’s
worth a point or two. Yes, I understand the dilemma you face. If you see
Aurora Systems as strictly a for-profit venture, you cannot do individual
discounts because you have to meet payroll and other obligations. I know,
but the fact that I’ve had to basically shut my company down due to lack of
business does allow me to see the other side of the equation. If many
potential customers cannot afford a product, how much growth potential does
any business have? AAC is such an enabler–when done well–that giving it
out might actually lead to more sales in the future by making more disabled
people employable. That’s one theory anyway.
I think that saying voice synthesizers are a matter of personal preference
has some functional truth to it while missing an important underlying
reality. As any good SLP will tell us, we all hear and process voice input
somewhat uniquely. It’s a product of numerous biomechanical and
neurological factors, but I’ve learned by experience that the synthesizer
that does the best job overall will still be the synthesizer understood by
the most people. If you really read my blog, you’re aware that I’m now an
Amateur Radio Operator. I can’t imagine a more grueling and objective test
for a synthesizer, partly because "hams" tend to be older males with
degrading hearing. Xpress-It doesn’t score perfectly, but it is understood
by above 90% of the strangers I encounter. The SAPI stuff, while improving,
still has a ways to go to match that number. I’m on record as saying that a
vocally-impaired person’s requirements of voice synthesis largely comes from
his/her horizons. Talking to a world of strangers is far more demanding
than communicating basic needs to a few caregivers.
Thanks for your time.
> —–Original Message—–
> From: Robert Basler [mailto:email@example.com]
> Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2007 2:36 AM
> To: Scott Royall
> Subject: Re: Licensing Fees
> Thanks for writing. Unfortunately the sentence you referred to refers
> to things such as school district-wide licenses, term licenses and such,
> not single-user licenses. We added the Value and Standard editions at
> lower prices in order to try to give better access to our products.
> Many of our customers are in the same unfortunate situation as you and
> we are unable to offer individual discounts.
> If you are having to do vocabulary additions, most likely you are
> running the core dictionary which is intended as a base for children to
> work from. Our predict dictionary’s 180,000 word vocabulary should
> include all of the words in this email and is thoroughly trained to do
> next word prediction.
> If you are solely interested in word prediction, the Value edition
> should work well for you, however there are some word prediction
> improvements in both of our other editions. You can check out the list
> here: http://www.aurora-systems.com/pages/comparison.html
> I read on your blog that you don’t like Aurora’s speech synthesis. The
> reason we don’t include other speech synthesizers in our package is
> simply that speech synthesis is a very personal preference and every
> customer we recommend synthesizers to ends up selecting a different
> one. A product I worked on previously came in 18 different speech
> synthesizer versions and it was a logistics nightmare testing and
> maintaining all the installers, tracking licenses, producing media,
> etc. We also don’t want to have to increase the price of our product to
> include them.
> There are lots of great speech synthesizers out there, all available at
> very reasonable prices, and all of them work with Aurora through SAPI.
> Speech synthesizer developers typically require licensors of their
> products to purchase licenses by the hundreds or thousands. One we
> spoke to had a minimum purchase quantity that was 10 times the total
> number of Aurora software licenses we’ve sold over the last 18 years.
> Also, invariably these same synthesizers are sold stand-alone for the
> same discounted price as we can purchase them, so it really doesn’t make
> sense for us to try to resell them.
> If you have any further questions or concerns, please let us know.
> Scott Royall wrote:
> > Gentlemen,
> > This isn’t an easy email for me to write as it flies against my
> > pride. I’ve spent my life beating the odds and exceeding everyone’s
> > expectations despite being what’s usually labeled as “severely
> > disabled. “ I have a Computer Science degree, and worked for Shell Oil
> > for many years as an application developer. In fact, my job required
> > that I develop my own AAC software after none of the
> > commercially-available products proved up to the challenge of a
> > real-world corporate environment. However, none of my achievements
> > seemed to matter at all when lay-offs came around, because I’m now
> > trying to get along on Social Security Disability.
> > I’m also finding myself spending greater and greater amounts of time
> > writing text so generalized word prediction finally becomes worthwhile
> > to me. My own software, Xpress-It, does word prediction, but within
> > the context of speaking. That’s one reason why it works so well.
> > Generalized word prediction is quite a different specialty, and I see
> > no point in re-inventing that particular wheel. Although your
> > software isn’t perfect, it does address most of the issues. Gus! Word
> > Prediction is a little closer to what appeals to me as a developer and
> > writer, but that company has a bad reputation with me. What little
> > money I have will not go to them.
> > We are competitors in a sense, but I have to give you credit for the
> > little statement on your price page encouraging people to contact you
> > if their means don’t match with your licensing prices. At least that
> > shows you’re not oblivious to the stark realities many of your
> > potential customers face. Aurora is an example of what I refer to in
> > my blog as the “Swiss Army knife “ approach to AAC, and I am quite
> > familiar with the pressures a developer faces to go down that path.
> > But, I’m solely interested in *good *word prediction so 80% of Aurora
> > is irrelevant to me. Besides, I honestly don’t have enough money for
> > even your “value” version. At least not all at once. What I can
> > offer is $70-80 now, maybe more in installments, and some tips from
> > someone who is an experienced AAC user /and/ Windows developer. Both
> > of my current laptops are Dell frontline systems with Vista Ultimate
> > (I do still have a *few *non-monetary resources left).
> > Scott Royall
> > http://www.conchbbs.com/xpress-it.shtml
> > p.s.
> > As you can see from my vocabulary, your Value version would be
> > useless. Even the Standard version is having fits with the large
> > number of vocabulary additions.
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> > 12/17/2007 2:13 PM
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