Once Stascom Utility Suite has been installed, this user guide
can be opened with the hot key, control+Windows+F1. The file will
be launched in your default Internet browser. This document has been tested with three browsers and was found to navigate as expected. These browsers are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Navigating the
contents is similar to that of any page on the Internet,
e.g. by headings and hyperlinks. The main sections are distinguished by level 1 headings, the sub-sections by level 2 headings, while additional information for sub-sections are under level 3 headings. The document consists of
four main sections, i.e.
Stascom Utility Suite currently consists of a few, often
unrelated, utilities. I started this project in late
2015, initially simply calling it Stascom. At the time the aim was
merely to create a tool to automatically recover and manage sound
on a user's default audio device. Subsequently I have added more
utilities and functionality, which do not necessarily have any
relation to audio as such. Nonetheless, they are proving useful, thus I added these to the package. As the program has grown
substantially since its inception, I changed the name to
Stascom Utility Suite. For simplicity, I shall
refer to the program as Stascom throughout this document.
SUPPORTED OPERATING SYSTEMS
Stascom should run on any version of Windows, XP or later, but
the supported operating systems are Windows 7 and Windows 10. The entries related to Windows settings and applications, control+Windows+F8, have not been tested on OS's earlier than Windows 7. Consequently, it is possible that not all of the entries in this dialogue will work if used on operating systems other than Windows 7 or 10.
A note to users of previous versions
Users who have been using older versions of Stascom should please take note of the following changes which were implemented in version 2017.1.7.
In older versions the minimum allowed master volume output was 20 percent. Based on user needs this setting now is customisable between 5 and 50 percent. It was necessitated by persons with a hearing impairment using audio induction systems, as well as those needing amplification from their PC or laptop output. Other users who do not have a hearing impairment occasionally use earphones. In these scenarios, the previous minimum output level of 20 percent was too high.
An opportunity to specify a minimum master volume level is given towards the end of the installation process. This value can be changed after installation in the sound recovery section via the configuration window.
A further consequence of the changed approach regarding minimum volume is that previously defined volume levels, such as recovery volume and day / night volume levels, will have to be re-configured after installing version 2017.1.7.
I have changed the interface of the configuration window. Based on user feedback the new approach is less cluttered and easier to navigate. The main screen has five radio buttons, referring to the four automated functions and the general settings section. In addition, there are two buttons below these controls, i.e. "activate" and "close." The "activate" button is the default in this window, so after arrowing to the desired radio button, pressing enter will open the corresponding settings. After pressing the "apply" button in any of the resulting windows will return focus to the main configuration screen from where a different section can be opened. Pressing the "close" button from the main window will collapse the configuration window and return to the system.
The functionality of the desktop shortcut now is twofold. If the program is not active, it will launch it. If already active, the shortcut will bring up the program menu, similar to pressing control+Windows+M.
The hot key for adding a window title exception has been removed. This key combo posed a challenge for users of laptop keyboards. The functionality to add a window title exception has been moved to the configuration window. The relevant button is found under the auto maximising section.
An option for the user to choose between a desktop or laptop keyboard layout is currently being considered. This option might become available in a future release.
A QUICK NOTE ON USING BUTTON CONTROLS IN STASCOM DIALOGUES
Extensive use is made of button controls throughout the Stascom windows. Some of these buttons are defined as the default for their specific dialogues. This means that the button will be activated when pressing the enter key. Some dialogues have more than one button though. Since only one button can be defined as the default in any given dialogue, those not defined as defaults need to be activated by pressing the spacebar. This is consistent with Windows standards.
INSTALLING THE PROGRAM
Depending on the local security policy on the user's system,
Windows 7 and 10 may report that the origin of the file, "Stascom_setup.exe," is unknown.
This is normal, since Stascom does not have a publish certificate
from Microsoft. Simply instruct it to continue. Users might be greeted with silence from their screen readers as another message from Windows is presented. Pressing tab or shift+tab will echo the following message from Windows: Windows protected your PC Windows SmartScreen prevented an unrecognized app from starting. Running this app might put your PC at risk. More info Don’t run
Enter on more info and then on run anyway. Stascom has extensively been tested on various systems, so the user
may continue with confidence at this point.
Setup will determine if an existing installation of Stascom is found on the system and present the available options accordingly. If the latest version is already installed, setup will offer to re-install the same version, or alternatively, remove the existing installation. In this scenario, the program information, installation agreement and user account control information screens will be skipped.
Should an older copy of Stascom be detected, setup will offer to upgrade the existing installation, or alternatively, remove the older version. In this case the program information and installation agreement screens will be shown, since new features may be available which the user is not yet aware of
Should no installation be found, setup will only offer an installation option. Pressing the "continue" button will proceed to the next step, while "exit setup" will terminate the installer without making any changes. Once again, the program information, agreement and user account control information screens will be displayed.
Stascom supports multiple users saving their individual
configuration settings on one system. By default, these settings are
saved under the name of the currently logged-on username.
By default, the name of the logged-on user is also used to personalise some
status messages spoken by Stascom, for example, the greeting when a
volume change is applied.
An option to enter a user preferred name is presented during a new installation. The name entered here will be honoured in messages spoken, as well as in the summary report.
An installation agreement is presented for new and upgrade installations in a read-only edit field, addressing
the caveats pertaining to, amongst others, distribution of the
program, the SAPI5 voice used for speech output, etc. The agreement can be navigated line-by-line as with any edit field. Should the
user not select the I agree option in this window, presented as radio buttons just below the read-only edit field, setup will
exit without performing any further actions.
The next step during installation will automatically be run as
Administrator, to successfully create the required folders and
install the Stascom modules. NVDA users, please note, if your user
account control level is set to lower than 67 percent, the user
account control prompt will not be reported by NVDA. Alt+y should
be pressed to allow the installation to continue. If an
Administrator password is linked to the Admin account, this
password should be entered prior to instructing Windows to continue
with the installation.
The first step following the above procedure will be for the
user to select an installed SAPI5 voice to be used for speech
output in Stascom, such as status messages and time announcements.
This window is a custom Stascom design which provides a user-friendly interface. A list of installed voices is presented, as
well as controls to change speech rate and volume level values. By
design, the minimum volume level allowed for the SAPI5 voice is 50 percent, as to
prevent loss of speech output. Prior to saving the
desired settings, the user may listen to a preview of the
selections made by activating the preview voice button. Pressing
the save voice settings button will save the selections made and
proceed to the next step in the installation process. Please note
that these SAPI5 voice settings can be changed at any time after
installation, by using the corresponding option in the configuration window, covered later in this
Should the user select a SAPI5 voice which is not properly
installed, or if the trial period for such a voice has expired,
setup will inform the user of same, returning focus to the Stascom
setup interface from where a different voice can be selected.
In the next step during installation the SAPI5 voice selected
in the previous window will be used to report each of the
installation steps, such as creation of the required folders,
installing the modules, creating shortcuts in the start up folder and on the desktop,
An informational message will display the status of the four automated functions in the program, providing the instruction on how to change these settings after installation. If the user has changed any of these settings in a previous installation of Stascom, the installer will retain such settings.
The last step of the installation procedure allows the user to specify his / her preferred minimum volume output. The value specified here will determine at which volume level sound recovery will be made, a feature discussed later in this document. The minimum volume level will also be honoured by the hot key to decrease master volume, control+Windows+DownArrow. The allowed range of volume levels are between 5 and 50 percent, with 5 percent increments. A preview button allows the user to hear an example of the chosen volume level spoken. It is worth mentioning that this preview should be regarded as an approximate indication of the selected volume level. Using a different synthesiser than your previously selected SAPI5 voice might be softer or louder on this volume level. The save button will store the selected minimum volume output for future use. If the volume level in this window needs to be changed after installation, it can be done via the configuration window under the sound recovery section.
The final stage of the setup procedure will thank the user for
installing Stascom, confirming the version number of the installed
copy. The key assignment for the menu hot key is provided. The option to open this user guide will be presented.
Regardless of whether the yes or no option is selected at this
point, Stascom will automatically be started, confirmed by the
SAPI5 voice which will report the message: Stascom Utility Suite
Since this user guide is in HTML format, it will be opened in your default browser. Depending on other software installed on your system, on some configurations, focus might not automatically be placed in the browser window after activating the "yes" button referred to above. Should you experience this behaviour, simply press alt+tab to move to the browser window.
AUTOMATIC PROGRAM UPDATE FEATURE
Every time Stascom is launched at log on, the program will do a
background check for an update. This procedure will
only be performed if an Internet connection is available on the
user's system at the time.
Both the check for an update and downloading of the setup file is done via a secured connection, i.e. https;
If an update was found, the user will be informed of same, with
a window displaying information about what's new in the offered
update. The user will have the opportunity to accept the update,
or, alternatively, dismiss this window by choosing the no
When accepted, the
download process will be done in the background, freeing the user
to continue working. Once the download is complete, an audio
notification will be heard, with a message window from where the
update process will be initialized after pressing the OK
The feature to automatically check for program updates can be
disabled in the configuration window under the general settings
button. It is recommended that this option is left on its
default setting to benefit from the most up-to-date features of
Please note that an option to manually check for updates is
available under option 12 in the menu hot key,
The setup program, Setup_Stascom.exe, can also be used to
remove the program and its associated configuration settings.
A removal option will only be available if an existing
installation is detected.
If this option is activated, the user will be asked for
confirmation, after which the removal procedure will be
Once done, no trace of Stascom will remain on the system.
TEMPORARILY UNLOADING THE PROGRAM FROM MEMORY
The hot key, control+Windows+F4 will temporarily unload Stascom
from memory. This should hardly ever be necessary, but was added
for convenience should the need arise.
The above-mentioned hot key will ask for confirmation from the
user, with a "yes" and "no" button as choices.
If the "no" button is activated, focus will be returned to the
system with Stascom still running.
If the "yes" button is activated, the program and its
associated modules will be unloaded from memory. A SAPI5 message
will speak the message: "Good bye user", where user is the
personal name specified during installation, or via the
configuration window, under general settings.
The desktop shortcut can be used to re-launch the
program. Alternatively, when logging off and on, or after
re-booting the system, Stascom will once again be active.
Activating the desktop shortcut while Stascom is running will bring up the program menu, the same menu which is presented when pressing control+Windows+M.
GETTING A SUMMARY OF YOUR SETTINGS
Control+Windows+F2 will present the user with a summary of the
program settings chosen in the configuration window, as well as other system specific information.
This report is displayed as a read-only text file in your
default application associated with plain text files, in most cases
this will be Notepad.
Use standard navigation keys to navigate this file.
The following information will be reflected in this
Date and time on which the report was generated;
Stascom version number;
Operating system version and OS version
Recorded personal name and Windows profile name of currently logged-on
Selected SAPI5 voice and its corresponding rate and volume
parameters, as well as last Stascom message spoken by SAPI5;
Enable / disable status of the automatic check for program
updates at start-up;
Enable / disable status of the hot keys for inserting accented and other special characters;
Enable / disable status of the automatic maximising of application windows, as well as a list of window title exceptions, if previously defined;
Enable / disable status of sound recovery feature, as well as
info on last recorded action in this regard;
Enable / disable status of automated day / night volume
adjustment, as well as volume levels and time of day / night chosen
by the user. The last recorded day / night volume adjustment will
also be displayed;
Enable / disable status of time announcements. If enabled, a
list of the hours, on the half hour and on the quarter hour chosen by the user for which
time announcements should be heard;
To close the report, press alt+F4.
THE MENU HOT KEY
The hotkey, control+Windows+m, will present the user with a
numbered list consisting of linked functions to the individual hot
keys of the program, as well as five miscellaneous functions. The
letter m used in this combination can be thought of as m for menu. This keystroke was added for convenience, should the
user not wish to memorise the individual hotkeys. Please note that
a full list of hot keys is available in the hot key reference at
the end of this user guide.
The order of the list of hot keys in the above-mentioned
dialogue honour the order of the corresponding function key
combinations used with control+Windows. The order of these options
is as follows:
Control+Windows+F1: - Open user guide.
Control+Windows+F2: - Generate summary report.
Control+Windows+F3: - Open configuration options window.
Control+Windows+F4: - Unload Stascom from memory for the
Control+Windows+F5: - Audio mixer information.
Control+Windows+F6: - Password Generator.
Control+Windows+F7: - Word count.
Control+Windows+F8: - Windows settings and applications.
Reset program settings to installation defaults.
Contact the program developer via e-mail.
Manually check for program updates;
visit the developer's home page.
Please note that first digit navigation is supported in the menu
hot key. For example, pressing the digit 5 will move focus to the
entry for audio mixer information. Press enter to activate the
entry with focus. Pressing the digit 1 will cycle between option 1,
10, 11 and 12. To dismiss the dialogue, press the cancel button or
alt+c, or simply press the escape key.
DOWNLOADING THE SETUP PROGRAM
As mentioned above, Stascom is self-maintaining in terms of
future updates. Should the user wish to download the installer for
backup purposes, the latest build will be available from my secured web
Feel free to
contact me with feedback. Future updates to the program will be considered, depending on user requests and my availability midst of other projects. Kindly consult this user guide before asking support questions. An option to send me an e-mail is also available
under option 11 in the menu hot key, control+Windows+m.
UTILITY DESCRIPTION AND CONFIGURATION OPTIONS
OVERVIEW OF UTILITIES
The automated functions in Stascom do not have hot keys, their routines are performed automatically in the background. All
these functions have customization options though, as discussed
later in this document.
The on-demand functions can all be activated with individual
hot keys, or, alternatively, by activating the corresponding option
from the menu hot key, discussed under "general program operation."
What follows are descriptions of the automated functions in
Stascom, what to expect from their behaviour, as well as how to
tailor their settings to your own preferences.
The purpose of the Sound Recovery feature is to recover audio
output under the following circumstances:
Master volume becomes muted, at which point the utility will
automatically unmute the default audio device.
Volume level of the master output on the default audio device
drops below the user defined minimum level, in which case it will automatically be set
to the pre-defined recovery volume output, see the section on
customisation for more detail.
When Stascom corrects sound output, whether it's by unmuting your default audio device or recovering the master volume output, a SAPI5 message will report the event. This message will be accompanied by the default Windows exclamation sound. The message itself will report the name of the event, i.e. whether Stascom recovered mute or low volume, the name of your default audio device on which the recovery was made, and lastly, the time the recovery was made.
It is important to note that if the day / night volume adjustment on a schedule is enabled, sound recovery will only be made from the minimum output level to the recovery volume if the system time is earlier than the defined night-time. The reasoning behind this is to cater for a night-volume lower than a "general use" volume.
Let's put sound recovery to the test
To test the recovery automation, from the Windows run dialogue
(Windows+R), enter "sndvol" without the quotes and press enter.
This will bring up the mixer dialogue where output levels for your
audio device can be adjusted, as well as muting of the master
volume and other applications running on your system at the time.
Feel free to either lower the master volume below your defined minimum volume, or
muting the master volume. Stascom will immediately, provided that
the sound recovery feature is on its default setting of enabled,
unmute the master output, or increase the volume to the pre-defined
recovery volume level, in the event that it has been dropped below
the minimum volume. As mentioned in the point above, the event will be reported via a SAPI5 message. It will also be reflected in the summary report, generated with control+Windows+F2.
Configuration options for sound recovery
Press Control+Windows+F3 for the configuration window.
The first radio button provides options for Sound Recovery. When activated, the
resulting window presents the first set of controls is radio buttons to either enable or disable
this feature. The default setting is enabled. Should the user
change this option to disabled, an alert message will be displayed,
recommending to leave the option enabled.
A "change minimum allowed volume level" button, when activated, enables the user to change the minimum volume output before sound recovery is triggered. It is worth mentioning that the preview option in this window should be regarded as an approximate indication of the selected volume level. Using a different synthesiser than your previously selected SAPI5 voice might be softer or louder on this volume level. The value set here will also apply to the hot key to decrease volume, control+Windows+DownArrow.
A list box where the preferred recovery volume can be set,
options are between 5 and 100 percent, with 5 percent increments.
The default recovery volume after installation is 60 percent.
Should the recovery level be set to a value equal to or less than the user defined minimum volume, Stascom will alert the user to the fact with a message box. Adjust the recovery volume level to a setting higher than the minimum volume. Alternatively, lower the minimum allowed volume level if it suits your needs.
Sound recovery disclaimer
It should be noted that the sound module in Stascom cannot
recover audio output if
your audio hardware is faulty;
drivers used with your audio device are not up to date;
the audio drivers are not compatible with the operating system you are using. These points are covered under the installation agreement section presented during setup.
AUTOMATED DAY / NIGHT VOLUME ADJUSTMENT
If enabled, this feature will automatically lower the master
volume of your system to the pre-defined output level at the
specified time of night, see the section on customisation for more
Should the system be used again after this time with a higher
volume setting, it will check again at midnight to see if the
night-time volume is set for the night, provided that the relevant
radio button for midnight is checked in the configuration
The following morning it will be reset at the specified
day-time to the output level selected by the user.
Making use of this feature will prevent the user from being disturbed should your system produce speech output during the night when an activity is triggered by an application running on your system, such as Windows update or a scheduled radio recording. Scheduled recordings will not be influenced at all.
By default, a "good morning" or "good night" message, using the
user's specified name, will announce day or night volume levels
being activated. This can be disabled in the configuration window,
if so desired.
Changing options for day / night volume adjustment
Press Control+Windows+F3 for the configuration dialogue.
The second radio button, when activated, provides options for the automated day /
night volume adjustment. The first set of controls is radio buttons
which provide options to enable or disable this feature. The
default setting when installing the program is disabled. However, if the user has enabled this feature in an existing installation, the previously defined setting will be honoured during installation.
A list box where the preferred night volume can be specified,
starting at 5 percent up to 50 percent, with 5 percent increments.
The default setting after installation is 20 percent.
A time control where the preferred night time can be specified.
The control caters for hour, minutes and seconds. Use left and
right arrows to move between these three fields. When, for example,
on minutes, the preferred minutes can also be typed in, rather than
using arrows to find the desired setting. The default setting after
installation for night time is 21:30:00.
A set of radio buttons to specify, if volume has been adjusted after the
specified night time, if the program should set it to the desired
night volume at midnight.
A list box where the preferred daytime volume can be specified,
ranging between 5 and 100 percent, with 5 percent increments. The
default output level after installation is 50 percent.
A time control where the preferred day time can be specified.
The control caters for hour, minutes and seconds. Use left and
right arrows to move between these three fields. When, for example,
on minutes, the preferred minutes can also be typed in, rather than
using arrows to find the desired setting. The default setting after
installation for day time is 06:59:00, to coincide with the
default first time announcement of the day at 7 o'clock.
A set of radio buttons where SAPI5 announcements can be enabled or disabled
for when day / night volume adjustments are activated. The default
setting is "enabled."
AUTOMATED MAXIMISING OF APPLICATION WINDOWS
The automated maximizing feature in Stascom will maximise every
window that gets focus, without prior customisation required.
The exception to this rule will be those window titles specified by the user to be excluded from being maximised. This latter scenario occasionally is necessary for an application, or specific window, providing more accurate feedback from a screen reader when in a restored state. Recording such an exception can be done via the configuration window, opened with control+Windows+F3. Go to the automatic maximise section and choose the button referring to specifying a window title exception. This step needs to be done when the title of interest has focus. The user will be informed of what the
current window title is, and asked for confirmation to store this
title as an exception for future reference. Such an exception will
be honoured in all future sessions.
It is important to note that a window title added as an
exception will only apply to a window title with an exact match.
For example, should an exception be added for a document opened in
Microsoft Word, the exception will only be applicable to that
specific document window. Should the user open a different document
in Microsoft Word for which an exception is required, such a title
needs to be added to the list of existing exceptions, making use of the procedure described above.
Should the user at any point decide to clear the exceptions
list, this can be done via the configuration window, under the
automated maximising options. This button will remove all
previously specified exception titles.
A list of previously defined window title exceptions will be
shown in the summary report, just below the status for automatic
AUTOMATIC TIME ANNOUNCEMENTS
If enabled during or after installation, chime and audio announcements are, by default, given on the hour, on the half hour and on the quarter hour from 7
o'clock in the morning until 9 o'clock in the evening.
These default settings can be changed via the configuration
dialogue, in other words, the user can be very specific about which
hours of the day or night an hour chime should sound, or, in fact,
if it should be disabled altogether. The latter scenario is
especially handy should the system be used in an environment where
the announcements are not desirable, such as on a laptop used in a
Please also note that the user can be specific about whether announcements should be made only on the hour or for on the half hour and on the quarter hour as well. It is important to note though that if the "on the hour" option is disabled, the "on the half hour" and "on the quarter hour" options will also be disabled.
The default setting will play a short chime, followed by the
time announced by the selected SAPI5 voice selected by the
The second level will play the short chime, without speech
The third level will disable this feature.
Please note that the last toggle of enabling or disabling this
feature will remain in effect, also after a re-boot of the
I purposely decided on the subtle sound of the three chimes used
in Stascom. The idea is not to disturb those around you, but
merely to give the user a time announcement, if indeed so
The installation default chime sounds are, on the hour, three short tones, on the half hour, two short tones, and, on the quarter hour, a single short tone. However, based on user requests, the latest version of Stascom gives options for specifying user defined chime sounds individually for on the hour, on the half hour and on the quarter hour. mp3 and wav file formats are supported.
Changing time announcement options
Press Control+Windows+F3 for the configuration dialogue.
Time announcements is the fourth radio button in this window,
when activated, consisting of the options to make this feature fit your
The three available levels for on the hour, on the half and on the quarter hour can be customised as per the description discussed above.
As mentioned above, it is important to note that if the hour chime setting, in the
first set of radio buttons, is disabled, it automatically disables
the "on the half and on the quarter hour" announcements. It follows that the "on the
half and on the quarter hour" announcements, if enabled, will correspond to the active hours
of the day and night specified in the set of radio buttons discussed
Three buttons via which the user can specify the chime sounds that should be used for on the hour, on the half and on the quarter hour chime sounds.
When activating the "active hours" button below these controls, it presents a set of radio buttons for all 24 hours, allowing the user to specify which
hours of the day and / or night time should be active or silent. The
default active hours are between 7 in the morning and 9 in the evening.
The user may change these time slots to honour his / her individual
This concludes the section on automated functions. Please
continue reading to learn about on demand utilities in Stascom
and how they can enhance your daily computer operation.
AUDIO RELATED HOT KEYS
Control+Windows+F5 will provide the master volume output level
and the name of the default playback device.
Three buttons appear below this information, as follows:
open audio mixer settings,
Recording device info
a cancel button to dismiss the window.
If a microphone is not detected, or the default recording
device is not configured, the program will return a dialogue,
conveying the appropriate message. If you believe this not to be
the case, use the open audio mixer settings referred to above,
move to the recording device tab control to configure the
recording device, making sure that a default device is selected. If
your workstation is a desktop, make sure that a microphone is
plugged in. It is assumed that in the case of a laptop, that an
internal microphone is enabled and in a working state.
Control+Windows+UpArrow will increase master volume by 5% with
each keystroke. Ascending tones will be heard to indicate the
volume levels as it is increased. A SAPI5 message will inform the user
when the maximum volume level of 100% is reached.
Control+Windows+DownArrow will decrease the master volume by 5%
with each keystroke. A descending tone will be heard to indicate
the output level being lowered. The user defined minimum volume level is allowed
with this keystroke to avoid a situation where sound output
cannot be heard. A SAPI5 message informing the user of the volume level will be generated
when the minimum volume output has been reached.
PASSWORD GENERATOR DESCRIPTION
Some users may question the need for including this utility,
especially since many password generating tools are available for
download from the Internet.
As someone who is serious about online security, I wanted to
write a tool which I know would be independent from any online
I also set it as a prerequisite that the passwords my utility
generate should be unique to the system on which they are
It is unfortunate that many people still use passwords which
are easy to decipher, often consisting of a word or short phrase
they can easily remember. Such words or phrases can just as easily
be cracked by hackers making it their business breaking into online
Users who have used earlier versions of Stascom should note
that I have totally re-written the password algorithm to meet
the following expectations:
The password character length will be ten characters to
cater for sites and services not accepting a longer character
The generated passwords will never be an exact match of any
previously generated passwords when using this utility, or for that
matter, by any other system using this utility.
Passwords will always be a combination of lower and upper case
letters, digits and special characters.
Effort has been made to cater for the rules of most online
services, but should Stascom generate a string which is not
accepted because of a specific special character, simply generate
another password to exclude the character which was not
accepted. The likelihood of this happening will be rare
After refining my password module, I have tested the passwords
it generates on various online sites to test its strength. In all
cases these passwords were defined as "very strong."
Generating a password
When pressing control+Windows+F6, the generated password will
be displayed towards the top of the window.
Right below this is a button to generate a new password,
activated with alt+g. This button has focus when the window opens.
This means that the user can repeatedly press spacebar, or enter,
to generate a new password.
below this control is a button to copy the current password to
Windows clipboard and dismiss the window.
A cancel button to close the window without copying the
Please note that, like with all dialogues found in Stascom
windows, the buttons have an alt combination for quick
access. These shortcut keys will be reported by your screen reader
while navigating over them and can be used in future to quickly navigate through dialogues or activate controls.
Important note on password generator
For security reasons, the generated password is not stored in a
file on your system. After generating a password, it will merely
remain on the Windows clipboard, provided that the user has
activated the button described above, until the contents of the
clipboard is replaced by different text or a file or files. If not
copied to the clipboard with above mentioned button, the password
exists merely in memory until the dialogue is closed. It therefore
is recommended that the user should immediately save this password
in a secured database program directly after generating it. Two such tools are
After selecting text in an editor e.g. Word or Notepad, or an application rendering virtual buffer output, such as browsers, control+Windows+F7 will report the word count for the selected text. The word count result will be displayed in a message box, which can be dismissed by pressing the
OK button. In addition, the result will be placed on the clipboard, which can be pasted in another editor or spread sheet application.
If no text was selected, this function will return a message
stating as much.
WINDOWS SETTINGS AND APPLICATIONS
Control+Windows+F8 presents the user with a dialogue from where
basic and advanced Windows settings and applications
can be activated.
The entries are presented in an alphabetical list view.
First letter navigation is supported.
The entry which the user last activated will be honoured the
next time this dialogue is opened, also between sessions. For
example, if the user previously used the add / remove programs
entry in this list, the next time the dialogue is opened, focus
will be placed on the add / remove programs entry. Either use up
or down arrows to move to a different setting, or press the first
letter of the desired entry to change focus to activate a different
The aim with this module is not to present the user with
anything more than what already is available in Windows. Instead,
it is merely an easy to navigate interface and a quick way to move
to an option when using first letter navigation.
Once the desired option is activated by pressing enter, control
is given back to Windows, from where the user needs to navigate and
manipulate controls and settings as per the usual.
To activate a command, simply press enter, which will activate
the item with focus. Tab over to the cancel
button and press enter if you do not wish to use any of the listed
entries, or, alternatively, press escape.
Some of the more advanced entries listed in this section could
be risky to use if the end user is not knowledgeable about the
commands listed here. For this reason, an alert message is presented
the first time this dialogue is accessed.
CONFIGURATION OPTIONS OUTSIDE THE SCOPE OF AUTOMATED
It was made clear under the section about automated functions that all these modules have configuration settings which ensure user control over when, how or if they should be performed. The automated function
settings are contained in the first four radio buttons i.e. Sound
Recovery, Day / night volume adjustment, Automatic maximising and
Time Announcement. A fifth radio button exists, called general
settings, pertaining to those features outside the scope of
automated functions. The entries currently presented when activating this radio button are discussed below. As more features are added to Stascom, the
available options in this section will be expanded.
Select preferred SAPI5 voice and speech parameters
During installation, the user has the opportunity to select a preferred SAPI5 voice, speech rate and volume level. Since we tend to change our minds after making an initial choice, the option to modify these is necessary. When pressing this button, the user will access the familiar
dialogue we saw during installation, i.e. a list of installed
voices, preferred speech rate and volume adjustment. A button to
preview the voice, and, finally a button to save the voice settings
for future use. It should be noted that the voice chosen here is based on the index number for the specific voice as returned by Windows. Should the globally used SAPI5 voice be changed or SAPI5 voices be installed or removed by the user, this index reference will change. This effectively means that Stascom will channel its messages through a different voice. It is recommended that in this scenario the user manually unload Stascom, make changes to the Windows voices and then re-load Stascom by activating the desktop shortcut. If not, it is possible that Stascom will encounter an error when attempting to speak via a previously selected SAPI5 voice. Also, after adding or removing a SAPI5 voice or changing the globally used SAPI voice, it will be necessary to re-configure the preferred voice to be used with Stascom.
Enter preferred name to use for program messages and profile
Sounds familiar? Yes, we had the option to enter a preferred
name during installation, rather than to be addressed by our
Windows profile name. Once again, we may have the need to change
this name to something shorter, or perhaps a nick name. This button
will first report what the currently recorded name is, offering to
change it by entering a new name. If no new name is entered, the
previously defined name will be used.
Automatically check for updates when program starts
Earlier in this document I recommended leaving this feature
enabled to benefit from new additions to Stascom as they are
released. However, we may occasionally find ourselves in a
situation where Internet access is limited, or expensive, for
example, when we are paying for access at a hotel. Even though the
installer for Stascom is fairly small, we would want the
freedom to disable the automatic update feature when required. This
is a standard set of radio buttons, i.e. the one setting will enable this feature, the other will disable it.
Enabling / disabling hot keys for inserting accented and other special characters
This feature enables the user to easily insert accented and other special characters. While Stascom is active and the option pertaining to this feature is enabled, press control+slash, within three seconds followed by the letter "h", to open the reference guide in your default browser.
READING EMOJI SYMBOLS
If the Stascom installer detects that NVDA is installed on the user's system, it will copy a dictionary file which will translate emoji symbols. Please note that this dictionary file is specific to NVDA and will not be utilised by a different screen reader. During installation, the setup program will announce a message via the selected SAPI5 voice that this dictionary file is copied, as said, only if NVDA is present on the system. A NVDA add-on, developed by Erion and Jeff Rutkowski, to insert these symbols and special characters in an edit field is available for download from the following site: download the Symbol Insertion NVDA add-on here (opens in a new browser window Please consult the documentation accompanying this add-on for instructions on how to insert these symbols in your text.
HOT KEY REFERENCE
Control+Windows+m: presents the user with a dialogue consisting
of a list of hot key funtions and four miscellaneous actions. Please note that this menu will also be displayed when activating the "Stascom Utility Suite" shortcut from your desktop.
Control+Windows+F1: Opens user guide
Control+Windows+F2: Generates summary report
Control+Windows+F3: Opens program configuration
Control+Windows+F4: Unloads Stascom from memory for the current
Control+Windows+F5: Displays audio mixer information
Control+Windows+F6: Password Generator
Control+Windows+F7: Word count
Control+Windows+F8: Windows settings and applications
Control+Windows+UpArrow: increases master volume by 5% with each
Control+Windows+DownArrow: decreases the master volume by 5%
with each keystroke.
Christo de Klerk
Testing beta builds since inception of the program;
suggesting ideas for new features;
sharing his source code for accented and other special characters, which I have modified slightly for incorporation into Stascom;
layout and wording suggestions for this document.
Testing beta builds;
making UI suggestions;
sharing his Python routine which does the background calculation for the Word Count module.
My wife, Retha
suggesting improved layout and wording for this document;
generally providing constructive feedback and suggestions.
testing beta builds;
being quick to point out unexpected program behaviour. 😈
Testing beta builds
making suggestions for new features in future updates
Many thanks to all of you, you keep me on my toes, not to mention humble. 👍