Excerpts from the blog Microsoft is flying University of Washington student Jeffrey Bigham to Paris where he'll collect a grand prize in...

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Excerpts from the blog

Microsoft is flying University of Washington student Jeffrey Bigham to Paris where he’ll collect a grand prize in the Imagine Cup, a student-programming contest sponsored by the company.

Bigham, a doctoral candidate in computer science, won for a project called WebAnywhere. The Web-based screen reader helps blind people access the Web from almost any computer that can produce sound, without requiring expensive accessibility software. Basically, it reads Web pages aloud.

Here’s a description, from the paper on WebAnywhere, by Bigham, Craig Prince and professor Richard Ladner:

“WebAnywhere generates speech remotely and uses prefetching strategies designed to reduce perceived latency. A user evaluation of the system is presented showing that blind users can use WebAnywhere to complete tasks representative of what users might want to complete on computers that are not their own. A survey of public computer terminals shows that WebAnywhere can run on most.”

Starting next month, the UW will host the WebAnywhere service as a free public service.

So far, Microsoft has only announced finalists in the Imagine Cup, but Bigham’s project was the only finalist named for the “Interface Design Accessible Technology Award,” so he’s the winner.

The prize includes $8,000, the Paris trip (worth $4,000) and a $3,000 trip to Los Angeles to present the project to the conference on technology for people with disabilities in March.

More Visible

A milestone Wednesday for Visible Technologies, the Pioneer Square Web analytics startup: It released version 2.0 of its TruCast software that companies can use to monitor and engage in blogs, forums and other online social media.

Visible never formally released version 1.0 of TruCast, but it’s being used by clients and shown by the company. That made Wednesday a sort of coming-out party for a product that’s expected to be a cornerstone of their business.

The company claims TruCast harvests and analyzes 70 percent more data than its competitors.

Also disclosed Wednesday is an impressive list of customers using its products to monitor and manage their online reputations, including Microsoft, Panasonic, Hormel and Dell.

Visible’s biggest investor is global ad giant WPP, but it was hatched over a kitchen table in Kirkland.

I wonder how much longer it will be before WPP buys the rest of Visible, or venture types buy the company and merge it with another analytics company that could benefit from Visible’s impressive console interface — QL2, perhaps?

New wireless honcho

Glad AT&T still has some brass at its wireless offices in Redmond.

It announced Tuesday the promotion of Fred Devereux to president of wireless operations in the West, overseeing “all wireless financial and operational matters, including all company-owned retail stores, in a region that includes Arizona, Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.”

Devereux formerly was vice president of AT&T Wireless operations in Northern California and Reno.

He’s replacing Brian Shay, who was promoted to senior vice president, converged services, at AT&T Operations. Shay’s also staying in Redmond.

A boost at the source

SourceLabs ought to get a bump from its latest move: The Seattle open-source-development tools company added Eclipse to the list of supported projects.

That makes its testing tools and resource libraries available to 2 million Eclipse developers.

I didn’t yet see Eclipse in the list of supported projects on SourceLabs’ Web site, but a spokesman e-mailed around midnight Tuesday night to say the support is now live.

This material has been edited for print publication.

Brier Dudley’s blog appears Thursdays. Reach him at 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com.