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Blind Bargains Top 10 Stories of 2012: 6. GWConnect Brings a Skype Interface with a Catch

J.J. Meddaugh Friday, 28-Dec-2012 10:16 PM ET
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We're well on our way to revealing the top story of 2012 in our Blind Bargains top 10. This year's panel included participants from across the assistive technology scene: Darren Burton, Jason Meddaugh, Wayne Merritt, Jamie Pauls and Joe Steinkamp. We'll post a new story every day until we reach number one, which will be revealed on SeroTalk live on January 3. In case you missed them, you can read our earlier stories on our countdown. Number 6 concerns a popular ad-supported and low-cost software program, and we go back to Joe for his take..

"We in the blindness Community want to emulate the mainstream in everything we do. And everyone is on board… until the need for revenue of some kind comes into the conversation. This is even truer when it comes to advertising. The visual world is bombarded by ads in movies, in magazines, on YouTube videos and now on the walls of restrooms in restaurants. When it comes to ad spaces in the mainstream, almost nothing is sacred. However, when a company tries to offset the cheaper cost of providing an access solution through the use of ads… people who aren’t exposed to this mainstream way of how the internet works get upset. The New York Times experimented with placing their content behind a pay wall. Facebook is constantly in trouble for trying to capitalize on their platform with ads. And even Skype its self has ads within its opening views and has even considered ads before a call is connected. If selling ad space means that G.W. Micro can continue to offer and update a good service at a lower cost, then I don’t begrudge them at all from wanting to do so. It’s the waythe internet works. Nothing is ever truly free online." the internet works. Nothing is ever truly free online."

We actually saw the beginning of this story unfold at the end of last year, but the discussion which was reignited when an ad-free version was released earlier this year helped to bring it back on to our countdown. Ads are starting to become more common in blindness software programs. What do you think? Is this the new normal or are companies entitled to give away software free of ads? Sound off in the comments.

Category: Articles
Displaying 4 comments.
darknexus Saturday, 29-Dec-2012 08:09 AM ET:

What does it matter? GW Micro only created GWConnect instead of adding proper MSAA support to Window-Eyes. The rest of us can just use the real Skype client, not be left out at all, and not even have to be bombarded by advertising. Sorry for the few remaining Window-Eyes users, but GW Connect is a pure waste of time.


darknexus Saturday, 29-Dec-2012 08:10 AM ET:


Kyle Monday, 31-Dec-2012 12:52 PM ET:

Well, I've never been a Skype user, and probably won't be, because of the proprietary protocol, the fact that Microsoft, the same people that brought us the horror that is Windows, now owns it, and because of the fact that you have to have their client running, even if you want to connect using a different application. Microsoft will have to eventually kill either Windows Live Messenger or Skype, as they both do much the same things these days, and Microsoft has a bad habit of buying and killing companies whose products and services people depend on, e.g. TellMe/Bing411. That being said, when it comes to ads, who listens to radio or watches TV without the commercials? Ads are *not* a bad thing, as they help pay the bills. I play RSGames all the time, and I certainly don't mind the advertising, and I've even hit control-w a few times, because the ad was indeed interesting to me. Why is it that the only complaint I have ever heard about TV/radio commercials is the fact that until legislation was enacted that decreased the volume, they were too loud, but if advertising shows up on the internet, even if it means we don't have to pay out of our own pocket for a product or service, people start complaining? Seriously, commercial advertising is a way of life, and it helps us get and do a lot of things without having to pay a lot of money. Why is that such a problem on the internet if it's not a problem anywhere else? As for nothing being truly free on the internet, this isn't entirely true, as we do have free/open source software and some kind-hearted people who are willing to pay for their own server space and invest their own time and energy to bring us free software and services. However, realistically, servers, although they do cost less these days, still cost money, and this cost generally has to be recovered somehow, with an additional profit for the provider if possible. This is the way business works. No one can operate any business at a loss for very long, it will eventually run out of money. So I say bring on the ads, just make them interesting enough to most people that we will actually feel like responding to some of them.


Laz Monday, 31-Dec-2012 1:27 PM ET:

GWConnect is fine for those who just want to do the basics, but some functionality is still missing when compared to Skype itself. I might start using it if there was a way to return a missed call by having a button for such an action included in the blurb about the missed call. I have asked for this a few times, and all I've gotten is a pat-on-the-head type answer such as thank you for your suggestion. Right now, one has to try to read and remember the phone number to then place a new call by entering the phone number from memory. The ads aren't a problem as one can just press the control key to shut them up. What I dislike about the ads is that they'll come on while you're in the middle of a conversation interrupting your conversation.


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    J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.

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