[orca-list] Another newby, with some questions

Hello everyone,

I've been lurking on the list for a few weeks now, reading some of the comments, questions and so on as I try and get going with Linux. I'm pretty new to the operating system, having used it a little remotely from a shell in the 90s and learning a lot of basic file manipulation stuff along with the usual Internet programmes. I'm using Windows for most things now, and have wanted to get a machine and run Linux on it for a long time, so I could tinker and learn the OS; maybe even ditch Microsoft for the most part if I find that Linux works well for me.

A really helpful and knowledgeable person got me a nice refurbished machine and installed Ubuntu 8.04 on it for me. She successfully got Orca running in the Gnome desktop, but after playing around with it for a while I noticed that the screenreader seemed very sluggish and unresponsive. I upgraded to 512 MB of ram from 256, thinking this might improve things, and while the OS runs quicker in general I still find Orca almost excruciating to use. One odd and possibly related thing I've noticed is that even though I have both key and word echo turned off, if I'm typing a document or even entering an URL, Orca seems to be trying to keep up with my keystrokes. It never speaks until I've typed several characters, at which point it spits out some slightly garbled version of what I've typed so far. At first I thought it was some weird software quirk, but I think, after typing a lot more and being quite distracted by this, that it can't be normal behaviour.

I'm using the Espeak synthesiser at the moment .. definitely far from wild about it and I might be obtaining a Dectalk Express synth soon to make this just a little bit more manageable. Another thing I noticed is that Orca seems to "flake out" at seemingly random times without any justification. I might be browsing a page in firefox, or even in the terminal, or my partner might hit one of the mouse buttons to do something quickly, and orcca just freezes. The process still runs, but there's simply no speech. In order to get it working again I have to quit Orca and restart it (it will let me quit and doesn't have to be killed).

I know that this isn't much to go on really, but the sluggishness in particular has kept me from really tinkering with my new box as much as I'd like. I have a lot to learn and right now am reading about Linux on the windows computer because it's so much faster and more responsive! I guess at this point I am just wondering if anybody has any ideas or suggestions for me. I've looked at the Orca FAQ, but I'm afraid I'm still at a loss. It can't really be this slow for everyone can it?


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