Frequently Asked/Answered Questions
- How do I sign up for the BARD service?
Answer: From the BARD log on page: "Access to the BARD web site is restricted to eligible readers. You will need a login ID
and password to access it. If you do not have them, review the criteria for participation
by reading the BARD Enrollment application instructions and, if you qualify, request an account."
- How do I access the built-in user guide on the player?
Answer: For standard players, power on the unit with no media in the player and hold down the Play key until the user guide is announced. If media is in
the standard player, holding down the Play key will put you in bookshelf mode where the built-in user guide will be available as one of your books. For
advanced players, hold down the diamond-shaped Info key to access the built-in user guide. Holding the Info key again will exit the guide.
- What is the difference between the standard or basic and the advanced DTB players?
Answer: The advanced player, or dtbm, will have 5 additional buttons. With the dtbm positioned so the play button is nearest you, locate the speaker, generally recognized as the top, and feel along the lower edge, or toward you. Advanced dtbm's have 5 buttons at this location. The one on the left is the information button, the next one is a previous button, the next or middle button is a navigation selection button, and the next is the forward button, and the right most button is the bookmark button.
- How can I access the player's bookshelf feature and why is this not mentioned in the built-in user guide?
Answer: The bookshelf feature was added with firmware version 2.1.0 and the built-in user guide has not been updated to discuss this feature. First, make
sure your player's firmware is version 2.1.0 or higher using the method discussed in FAQ 5. To access the bookshelf, hold down the Play key until the player
announces "Bookshelf" and the number of books on your media and the current book number selected. To move to another book, use the Forward and Rewind keys
on the standard player and the Next and Previous keys on the advanced player. When located at the desired book, press Play to start reading.
- How do I upgrade the firmware on the NLS dtbm player?
Answer: Before upgrading your firmware, you should check the current version of your firmware to see if an upgrade is necessary. To do so, remove any flash drive
or NLS cartridge from your player and power it on. The player will be in key describer mode. Press the sleep key located just above the play button fairly quickly about 10 times. The player will begin announcing its serial number and firmware version number repeatedly. You can stop the announcement by pressing any key.
An audio presentation on upgrading the NLS dtbm's firmware can be found on the "tutorial" page. Select the below link to listen to this audio presentation:
Libraries and patrons can upgrade players to the latest software by downloading the latest firmware, and following the below instructions. The link to download the latest firmware and the official NLS instructions can be found at the below link:
NLS DTBM Firmware and instructions
The below instructions may be used if you do not wish to go to the NLS DTBM Firmware site:
Step 1. download the latest software from the NLS web site. The latest player firmware is version 2.1.7 (October 24, 2011):
Step 2. Extract (unzip) this file onto a cartridge or USB drive so that the directory "upgrade" appears in the "root" directory of the drive. Note: this folder will automatically be created.
Step 3. Turn on the player.
Step 4. Insert the cartridge or USB drive containing the software.
Step 5. The player will announce "Upgrading your player's software."
Step 6. Wait until the upgrade is complete and the player restarts (about 10 seconds), then remove the cartridge.
Step 7. The upgrade will only occur if the player's version is older than the version of the software on the cartridge. Reinserting the cartridge will not repeat
Step 8. remove the thumb drive and insert it into your computer and delete the upgrade folder/files on your thumb drive. It won't hurt the player to leave the upgrade folder on your thumb drive or cartridge, but removing it will free up approximately 3 hours of space for NLS books or mp3 files.
- Can I use a flash memory card such as the type used with a Victor Reader Stream with my DTB player?
Answer: The official NLS answer is no. But they also say it will not hurt to try. Some SD cards or compact flash cards connected via a card reader do work, but most do not.
- Which thumb or flash drives work best with the DTB player?
Answer: An increasing number of flash drive or thumb drive devices are being sold with some kind of backup or file management software, or U3 software. many are now also being made with tiny usage meters. Users on the BARD Talk list are reporting that these drives do not work as well as drives that are free of additional components, including software or meters.
The Kingston third generation (G3) brand thumb drives, and the Data Traveler model in particular, as of late 2010, appear to be clean and are currently the most reliable. some users report certain drives containing software or meters will work, but report an error first.
Some drives will fit in the cartridge slot better than others due to their length. If you intend to insert your thumb drive in the USB port located inside the cartridge cavity, try to find the longest one. Even a small difference in length can make the difference. Drives that have a thicker height profile may not fit. While the Kingston DataTraveler generation three thumb drives fit, the second generation drives did not fit inside the cartridge cavity.
For those wishing to connect a thumb drive to the side USB port, check with your lending library about a USB elbow connector. Using this connector in conjunction with the side USB port turns the thumb drive at a 90 degree angle so it is parallel with the player, thus minimizing the risk of damage to the drive or the port in the event the drive gets bumped.
- Is there a size limit for thumb drives that work with the DTB player?
Answer: Thumb or flash drives as large as 16 GB are reported to work fine, and 32 GB drives will also most likely work. The important factor at this time seems to be brand. In particular, drives that come preloaded with software such as "U3" do not appear to work with reliability. The U3 software can be removed and the drive reformatted, but even after this effort, the drive may not perform satisfactorily.
- Can thumb drives be connected to the DTB player using the port where the cartridge connects? If yes, what is the connection procedure?
Answer: some designs of thumb drives will work better than others. People with thin or small fingers may do better at inserting the thumb drive in the cartridge slot. The slot is centered, and to identify the alignment of the thumb drive, first insert it into the side USB port. This will help you acclimate your device so it is facing the right direction. Note, the thumb drive when inserted into the cartridge slot may not appear to be firmly locked in, and may wobble slightly.
Go to the below link to listen to a short audio demonstration of inserting a thumb drive into the cartridge USB port.
- Where can I buy blank cartridges?
Answer: This is a developing market. Go to the Accessories page to find a list of the companies currently selling blank cartridges and other accessories.
- How can I connect the DTB cartridge to my computer?
Answer: Any standard USB cable will work, as long as it is identified as an extension cable. this means the cable must have a full size male USB plug on one end, and a full size USB or female receptacle on the other. Companies such as Independent Living Aids carry a short cable used for this purpose, but the cable is not a special cable and may be purchased at other locations.
The standard NLS cartridge appears to be smooth or flush where the female or receptacle end of the cable attaches to the cartridge. With a little practice, attaching the female end of the USB cable to the cartridge will become easier. When attaching a thumb drive to the NLS dtbm using a cable, a shorter cable is preferable since it will be less likely to snag on something and become the means by which the NLS dtbm is yanked from its perch.
- Can I move a thumb drive with NLS books between my third party reading device and my DTB player and have it work with both?
Answer: Yes. The NLS dtbm will locate any NLS books on your thumb drive regardless of the folder names in which they are placed. If your third party reading device requires the NLS books to be in a certain folder, you should place them branching off that folder if you plan to listen to them using both the dtbm and your third party reader. For example, if your third party reader is a Victor Reader Stream, you would place the NLS books in subfolders below $VRDTB on your thumb drive so you could listen to them on both the NLS dtbm and your Stream. Remember that bookmarks including your current reading position are stored on the individual device and will not transfer when you switch the media between reading devices.
- Where do I put MP3 files I want to listen to on my DTB player?
Answer: Create a folder on your thumb drive or a writable cartridge called: audio+podcasts. Note, when creating this folder, use the + sign between audio and podcasts. Additional folders may be created under that main folder. Mp3 files will be played sequentially based on their file names. the NLS dtbm will not announce the names of the files because it does not have a built in text to speech engine.
- When I hit rewind several times quickly, with a thumb drive connected, the NLS player re-starts. Is there a problem with the player?
Answer: The thumb drive or cartridge is probably almost full. Try deleting some books to free up space. If you suspect the player has a problem, contact the lending library who provided the machine.
- What file formats does the NLS dtbm support?
Answer: The player is able to play three general file types: Files with the extensions of, .3GP (a compressed audio format used by devices such as the Victor Reader Stream's notes files), .wav (uncompressed wave files), and .Mp3 (compressed audio files).
for the technically minded, the player is able to play digital-talking books (DTBs) structured in
DAISY 2.02, or CEA-2003 formats. The player can play audio files stored as AMR-WB+,
MPEG I/Layer 3 (MP3) and RIFF WAV
format, either as part of a talking book or as stand-alone audio files.
- Can I play RFB&D books on my player? What is the procedure?
Answer: Yes. To set up an account, you can call at: 1-800-221-4792 or send an email to: custserv@RFBD.org.
You can also go to their web site at http://www.rfbd.org/membership-individual.htm and set up an individual account. As a result of funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Grant #H327D090001 and support of private donors, RFB&D Individual Membership is now free to individuals with proper certification.
Once you have an RFB&D online account, follow these steps to activate your NLS player to play RFB&D content:
Step 1. Log into your RFB&D account online.
Step 2. Click the My Account link which is the first link on the left in the second row of links at the top of the page.
Step 3. Click the Authorize a DAISY Player link in the Other Options section of the page that opens.
Step 4. In the Please Select a DAISY Player drop-down box, select either the NLS Advanced Player or NLS Simple Player as appropriate and click the Continue button.
Step 5. Enter the player's serial number in the provided box and click Continue.
Step 6. A page will open stating that your UAK User Authorization Key was successfully generated and provide a link where you can download the UAK zip file to your computer.
Step 7. Save the zip UAK file to a folder you can easily locate in order to process it.
Step 8. Extract (unzip) all the files into the root of a USB drive or an NLS cartridge connected to your PC.
Step 9. Disconnect the USB drive or NLS cartridge from your PC.
Step 10. Turn on your NLS player.
Step 11. Connect the USB drive or NLS cartridge with the extracted UAK files to your NLS player using either the player's side USB port or the cartridge USB port whichever is most convenient. The key should be processed automatically. The player will announce "One user key processed".
Step 12. Once your player is authorized, you should then delete the 10 files from the USB drive or NLS cartridge and keep a backup copy of the original zip file on your computer.
- Is It Hard To Download From The BARD Web Site?
Answer: Here are a few tips to help you if you are new to downloading from the internet. The following instructions assume a minimal knowledge of Windows commands, including the use of Windows Explorer.
Step 1. Find the "My Documents" folder on your desktop, and open it by hitting enter.
Step 2. Hit alt-f, or open the file menu by tapping the alt key and then hitting f. Arrow down until you come to "new," which is actually the heading for another menu, or sub-menu. Select it, and you should be on the "folder" selection.
Step 3. You will be on an edit field which will contain "new folder" as the default file name. Type a different name, something like: "NLS downloads." The default name of new folder will disappear as soon as you begin typing the new name. Hit enter once you're finished typing your folder name.
Step 4. Now hit alt-f4 to exit the My Documents folder.
Step 5. Now, you're ready to download! The next steps presume you have an established account on the NLS BARD site. The following steps will provide a simple example of locating a book and then downloading it into the "NLS downloads" folder just created.
Step 6. From the BARD main page, use quick navigation to locate the edit box. Or, tab until you hear, "search the collection." You are now on the only edit box on this page, and can enter a key word or a group of words or phrases to help find a book or books.
Step 7. Open the edit field, and type: washington. Note that you do not need to capitalize words. Then, tab to the "go" button, and hit space vbar or enter. This starts the search.
Step 8. After a few seconds, a new page will load with your results. You'll notice, if you arrow down to see what this page displays, that there are over 300 results for the word, "washington." Using quick navigation, go to the various headers. The very first one is, "BARD books containing keyword: washington." Go to the rest of the headers, and you'll notice the different category breakdowns, including, title, author, subject, annotation, book number, and narrator. The first header gave a grand total of all the results in all the categories, but there are overlaps, so don't think the total provided in the first heading is a total of separate books.
Step 9. You are now free to search through this list, using various means. If you are familiar with your screen reader's virtual search feature, you can perform an additional search. Try searching for a favorite narrator. Maybe you like, "Butch Hoover." You'll find 5 or 6 titles in this list of over 300 titles. As a final comment on this simple example of searching, return to the main page and try entering: "george washington" in the search box. Note the quotation marks around the phrase. In search language, multiple words within quotation marks are called a phrase, because you want that specific clause or phrase. After hitting the "go" button, you will notice that by refining your search just a little, you narrowed your results down to 45. Generally, finding books in this manner is as much an art as it is a science. If you don't like the results for one search attempt, go back and mix up the words a little, adding, and sometimes removing words and phrases. Over time, you'll find this is a good way to find books of interest. Finally, the main page offers other ways of finding books requiring nothing more than opening the combo box, or drop down menu, and selecting an author's last name initial, a book title's first letter, and lastly, a subject.
Step 10. Once you have found a book you want, tab to the download link. It's always after the annotation, and will announce "download.." followed by the title and db number.
Step 11. The first screen asks you what you want to do with the file. Shift-tab, or tab all the way around until you hear, "save." Then find the OK button and hit space bar. You could also have just hit "alt-s" and saved a few key strokes.
Step 12. The next screen is where you select where the downloaded file is to go. Tab 4 times until you hear, "save in." You'll want to find "My Documents," and then after hitting enter, tab three times to a folder list. Arrow down until you locate "NLS downloads," and hit enter. And lastly, tab 3 times again until you hear, "save." Hit the space vbar or enter, and the download is underway. Note, once you've downloaded NLS books into your NLS downloads folder, the next time you download, provided you haven't downloaded to a different folder inbetween, this location will be remembered. If you know the download location is unchanged, just hit "alt-s" as before, which saves some key strokes. When the download finishes, you are ready to unzip the file onto the media of your choice.
- I don't like downloading books. But it seems the selection of books available on cartridge from my lending library is very small. Will they have more books any time soon?
Answer: It will take a number of years for the lending libraries to build their inventory of cartridges. If a book is available in digital format, it will always appear first on the BARD site.
- If I have a technical issue with the BARD site or my NLS DTBM, who can I contact?
Answer: First, call your local regional lending library. As staff at the regional libraries becomes more familiar with the BARD site and the players, they will be able to provide better assistance.
If you are unable to find the assistance at your lending library you require, send an email to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- I would like to search for books on the BARD site. Is it complicated?
Answer: No. The search function on the BARD site is capable of performing key word searches, searching the book title, author, narrator, as well as the annotation. Enter several key words in the edit field that you think might be of interest, then press the submit button. Or, enter an author's name, typing it exactly as it might appear in the catalog listing. This means, you would type the last name first, followed by a comma, and then the first name. Example: "Evans, Richard Paul" To search for a narrator, you must type the first name first followed by the last name. Example: "Bob Askey." Note, use quotation marks to enclose author's names or narrator names, or any multiple word phrase.
You may simply want to use the drop down or combo box functions to locate books by author, narrator, or genre. Tab or arrow down passed the search edit function to these options.
- Is there anyway I can listen to NLS books and magazines on my computer?
Answer: No. Any material received from the NLS and BARD site is copyrighted. Special permissions have been secured to allow blind and visually impaired individuals to read this material on specially designed players.
- Can I purchase a carrying strap for the NLS dtbm? And if so, where does it attach to the player?
Answer: Yes. While there is no specific strap designed for the player, the underside of the machine has two attaching points where a strap may be retrofitted. The NLS dtbm is meant more to be stationary, so it is advised that carrying it in a portable manner could result in damage to the player or a USB thumb drive if it is attached.
- Can I purchase a case for the NLS dtbm?
Answer: Executive Products has created a new soft form-fitted custom EXECUTIVE NLS/BPH CASE for the NLS/BPH digital talking book player. The case is made of a water-resistant and durable Italia faux leather and sells for $39.95..
Go to the accessories link on the BARD Talk site for the direct link to this and any other product pages.
- Is there a workaround I can try when getting a cartridge error from the NLS player when plugging my USB flash drive into it?
Answer: A wide range of results can be had when using the large variety of USB flash or thumb drives with the NLS player. Flash drives containing U3 software
or certain models with status lights have been reported to cause problems. If a cartridge error is received from the player when using a flash drive, you can try the following workaround originally posted by Daniel Vejil to try and get the flash drive to work:
Step 1. Start out with an empty Flash Drive, (no U3 Software, etc. on it) then put NLS DTB content on the Drive.
Step 2. Insert the previously prepared Flash Drive into the DTBM. At this point, it doesn't matter which port is used. Either the Cartridge Slot or the
Side USB Port will yield the same result.
Step 3. Turn on the DTBM (using the round recessed Power Button).
Step 4. When the DTBM says "Cartridge Error", just ignore this error.
Step 5. Press and hold down either the Info Button (Advanced Player users) or the Play/Stop Button (Standard Player users) on the NLS DTBM.
Step 6. The DTBM should open the built-in User Guide, and begin reading it.
Step 7. Press the Play/Stop Button to pause the reading of the Built-in Player User Guide.
Step 8. Since this is not what you really wish to hear at the moment, either press and hold down the Info Button (Advanced Player users) or the Play/Stop
Button (Standard Player users) once again. This will close the Built-in Player User Guide, and will also cause the DTBM to re-scan the already inserted
USB Flash Drive.
Step 9. When this happens, you should hear a series of beeps followed by the number of books which are contained on the Flash Drive. You then should be
able to use the DTBM normally.
- Can I play Bookshare books or any other text based books on my NLS player?
Answer: No. Bookshare books (and books found at sites like the Gutenburg Project), which are either DAISY text or plain text files, require an onboard text to speech (TTS) engine, which the NLS dtbm does not have.
Software such as Open Book, Kurzweil, and TextAloud can be used to convert the Bookshare XML file (or ordinary text files) containing text to a TTS audio mp3 file which can be played on
the NLS player. The steps involved would depend on the software being used and are beyond the scope of this FAQ.
- Can I overcharge the battery of the NLS player and are there any
specific battery management instructions?
Answer. The player can remain plugged in to a power outlet indefinitely with no ill effects. It takes about 2.5 hours to fully charge a completely discharged battery. When fully charged, the player has more than 27 hours of play time. Battery charging is an automatic function managed by the player's battery charge management chip. To preserve battery service life, a recharge
is not performed when connected to AC power until the battery has been discharged to 75 percent of full capacity.
Nickel-metal-hydride is the battery type which should last for several years. Battery management is not something to concern yourself about with the NLS player. The above answer
compiled from the NLS DTBM Training Site and email posts from Lloyd Rasmussen.
- How do eligible individuals sign up for the NLS Web-Braille service and
can Web-Braille files be played on the NLS digital player?
Answer. Web-Braille contains the full text of thousands of NLS-produced braille books, hundreds of items from the NLS Music Section, and every braille magazine currently produced by NLS. To register for Web-Braille, eligible program users must first contact their cooperating network library and provide the library with an e-mail address and a six-to-eight-character
password. When the subscription is activated, the new subscriber will receive access instructions by e-mail. Eventually, the NLS plans to merge its Web-Braille service with its BARD downloadable audiobook service but when this will occur is unknown.
Web-Braille files are in contracted braille ASCII format with a brf file extension. Web-Braille content will not play on the digital player since the DTBM has no text-to-speech capability. A device with TTS features such as the Victor Reader Stream is needed to play
- How do I reset the NLS player?
Answer: There are two types of resets for the player which in this FAQ will be called hardware resets and profile resets. A hardware reset will reboot the player and should be used when the player has become unresponsive to other controls. A hardware reset does not erase any stored data or bookmarks.
To perform a hardware reset, hold down the Power button firmly for at least 7 seconds. A reset beep will be heard. A profile reset will clear all information from the player including removing all bookmarks, setting the language to English, and resetting all controls to their default positions.
To perform a profile reset, turn off the player, hold down the Tone Up, Speed Up, and Volume Up buttons and press the Power button. The player will say "Creating New Profile."
- The NLS dtbm doesn't sort books in alphabetical order. Is there a way to force it to sort books in any logical order?
Answer: The order in which books are read by the NLS dtbm depends on whether they are digital talking books in DAISY or ANSI/NISO/NLS format or audio files in mp3 or wav format. Talking books such as those from the NLS are ordered by the Inode number (a Linux file system concept) [from Lloyd Rasmussen 3/2010 email].
From About.com, "the inode number is a unique number associated with each filename. This number is used to look up an entry in the inode table which gives information on the type, size, and location of the file and the userID of the owner of the file." The practical effect of this sort is that talking books are read in the order they are copied to the player's media.
If a user wants to control the order, they should copy the books one at a time to their cartridge or flash drive in the order desired. However, they should be aware that as books are deleted and new ones copied to the drive, the reading sort order may change. This is thought to occur because the inode number apparently is based on the physical location of the data on the drive and the gaps created in the inode table by the deleted books can be filled by the recently copied books. If order is important to the user after much copying and deletion of books, they should format their drive and copy the books back in the order desired.
Audio files in mp3 or wav format whether on a drive by themselves or in the audio+podcasts folder on a drive with talking books are played in ASCII order of their filenames, grouped into folders sorted by their ASCII names. ASCII is the acronym for the American Standard Code for Information Interchange which is a character-encoding scheme based on the ordering of the English alphabet [from Wikipedia]. The practical result is that these audio files and folders are sorted alphabetically.
- How do I change the NLS player's level of verbosity?
Answer: The verbosity level refers to the amount of information announced by the player when various keys are pressed. The player comes with two levels of verbosity, normal and reduced. What is normal or reduced verbosity varies depending on whether you have a standard or advanced player. In normal verbosity mode, the standard player announces "forward" or "back" in response to the user pressing the Fast Forward or Rewind buttons and it announces the tone, volume, and speed up and down messages in response to users pressing those buttons while the book is playing.
In normal verbosity mode, the advanced player announces "forward" or "back" in response to the user pressing the Fast Forward or Rewind buttons but announces nothing in response to the user pressing the tone, volume, and speed up and down buttons while the book is playing.
In reduced verbosity mode, the standard player will no longer announce "forward" or "back" in response to the user pressing the Fast Forward or Rewind buttons nor will it announce the tone, volume, and speed up and down messages in response to users pressing those buttons while the book is playing.
In reduced verbosity mode, the advanced player will no longer announce "forward" or "back" in response to the user pressing the Fast Forward or Rewind buttons.
Procedure to configure the player for reduced verbosity:
1. Make sure the player is in Key Describer mode (cartridge or USB device not inserted).
2. Press and hold the Fast Forward button and the Speed Down button simultaneously for 2 seconds.
3. The message "Reduced verbosity" confirms the operation has been successfully performed.
Procedure to return the player to normal verbosity:
1. Make sure the player is in Key Describer mode (cartridge or USB device not inserted).
2. Press and hold the Fast Forward button and the Speed Up button simultaneously for 2 seconds.
3. The message "Normal verbosity" confirms the operation has been successfully performed.
The above information was taken from the NLS Digital Talking Book Training Program at the following link:
- Why would I format my flash drive or cartridge and what is the procedure?
Answer: Before answering, a discussion of what formatting is would be helpful. Formatting is the act of creating a file system on a flash or hard drive so that the operating system can store and retrieve data on it. Since formatting clears the drive of any data on it, many use formatting as a solution when problems occur on the drive. Because other less drastic tools exist to repair drive problems, formatting should be considered a last resort especially when dealing with large capacity drives.
Most new flash or external hard drives come formatted so formatting is not required to start using them. Different operating systems use different file systems but the NLS player works with the FAT32 file system which is how most flash drives come formatted.
The NLS player is not compatible with the NTFS file system so the NTFS file system should not be used on your flash drive. Different operating systems have different steps for formatting. Even the same operating system can have more than one way to format a drive. This discussion will use Windows XP and the Windows Explorer utility to describe the steps in the formatting procedure.
Step 1. Plug your flash drive into a USB port on your computer. If an AutoPlay box opens, cancel out of it.
Step 2. Go to your desktop and execute the My Computer icon.
Step 3. In the my Computer window that opens, place your cursor or focus on your flash drive which will be listed as a removable disk type.
Step 4. Open the format dialog box by selecting File, Format from the menus. Alt F will open the file menu and press the letter a until the format submenu is spoken and press the enter key to open the format dialog box.
Step 5. Press alt f to move the focus to the file system drop-down box. Make sure FAT32 is selected in this drop-down box.
Step 6. If you simply want to do a quick format to erase the files in the drive index, press alt Q to tick the quick format box. If you want to do a full format, don't tick this.
Step 7. Press alt S to start the format process. You will receive a warning dialog that all data on the disk will be erased. You must select ok to continue. The drive will be formatted.
- How do I convert the time listed for a Bard book into the amount of space it will take up on my cartridge or flash drive?
Answer. One hour of an NLS book takes up 10.8MB of disk space so you would multiply the hours in the book by 10.8 to get total megabytes used by it.
- How many NLS patrons are registered with the BARD service?
As of fall, 2011, the number of patrons registered with BARD is around 40,000.