Today has been very, very rainy. As a matter of fact, I'm getting so soaked that I about fell off my chair writing this entry. My little princess is forecasting storms all through the night! Lol guess she'll be a bit wet in the morning but I *think* she'll survive. But perhaps not. Anyways gotta go now. Alexa, make it stop already! Oops, she can't hear me because her microphone is turned off. Perhaps I'll try back sometime tomorrow.
Hello everybody. I'm here this evening to talk about my birthday. Specifically, one of my birthday presents. Last weekend when I was at my parents' place celebrating, one of my siblings handed me a big rectangular box that was wrapped up. I opened it and took out a cylinder thing about the size of a can of pringles. I really wasn't expecting much in the way of B-day presents, since I already have kind of a lot of stuff. But I must admit this cylinder thing sparked my curiosity right away. It turned out to be an Amazon Echo. Some other family members have these devices and now I can proudly claim ownership of one as well. One of my tutors and I set up the device earlier this week. I had already downloaded the companion iOS app, and I have to say that in terms of accessibility, this app needs a bit of work but it is usable. Fortunately I shut off VoiceOver and this sighted tutor took over. We got my Echo up and running with little if any difficulty. I have played around with it a good deal throughout the week, and am very impressed thus far. I was honestly a bit surprised that I could actually enable a skill from my iPhone with no trouble. Regarding the device itself and Amazon's accessibility pages, I'm very happy though. Somebody was kind enough to label the device's 4 buttons in Braille. Not sure whether it came like that, or the Braille labels were affixed to the device when it arrived at my parents' place. But in any case, I greatly appreciate the gesture. I'm sure I'll continue to have fun with all my toys, and perhaps even learn a little something more in the process. Regarding the iOS app, I plan on contacting Amazon and giving them a piece of my mind as I've no doubt others have been doing. Just a little friendly reminder though to those who may be a bit heavy-handed in their advocacy approach to Amazon and/or any of these other companies: remember that they are human beings like us and have feelings too. They may not know as much about accessibility as some of us do, and in some cases they might not know a thing about it. But having said that, I for one commend Amazon on their great accessibility efforts thus far, and there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that they will continue the trend of good access.

Happy 2019!

Jan. 4th, 2019 09:44 pm
Hi everyone. Entry title says it all. Happy New Year. 2019 promises to be yet another good one for me, and perhaps even better than previous years. For one thing, I will have had my iPhone for a year as of the end of March. Though I haven't yet mastered everything, I think I'm well on my way. But enough about my iPhone for now at least. I'll just leave it at this: I'm happy to have it.





I keep telling other people that I'm going to get another job one of these days, and I'm going to try again this year. In a previous entry I briefly mentioned quitting my most recent job. I did so mainly due to the fact that I wasn't being given enough responsibilities. Given the mission of this organization, I think that's a powerful statement. But I felt and still feel that despite their claim to fame, they aren't all-inclusive. To be honest, I don't think they're trying that hard. In the beginning and after that, yes they did but not now. For those unaware, Illinois has been ranked very low in terms of services for those of us who happen to have disabilities. What's even worse is that very little if anything at all has been done to remedy this situation. I happen to know some people who want me to go through the vocational rehabilitation agency to get a job, but I don't want to do that and I've told these people. After all, there are ways of obtaining employment without involving joke/rehab. I know this for a fact because that's how I obtained all my previous jobs. Yes indeed, joke/rehab did not help me get any of these jobs. I received a few calls from them when I was volunteering at a now-defunct nonprofit organization, but I'd rather not discuss that here. Suffice it to say, those calls increased to the point of harassment. Not good. The staff ended up putting me on their payroll after awhile, but those calls had little if anything to do with their decision. Hint hint: I was grandfathered into the organization.





After thinking things over a bit, I've arrived at the decision to help a neighbor out with launching his cooking business. I'm going to try my hand at creating a website for him, and I think I have at most 3 options there. But the website will probably not be launched for awhile yet.





So that's a sneak preview of the year ahead for yours truly. Finally, I'd like to leave y'all with something by one of my favorite singer/parodists of all time. I'm speaking of course about the one and only Weird-Al Yankovic. I thought this would be the perfect ending, after I went across the hall to watch a special on TV about one of the incidents that Mr. Yankovic sings about in this parody. Enjoy.

http://povidi.com/YourTube/index.py?playVid=1;id=dU95v23MQ4c

Brexit?

Dec. 19th, 2018 08:28 am
Hello everyone. A neighbor friend and I were talking yesterday about the news, as we always do and he informed me that there was a lot of useful information from the BBC regarding something called Brexit. I knew this wasn't a little kid's word for "breakfast", but what I did not know was what a mess this whole thing has turned out to be. I guess y'all can tell I haven't been following the news much if at all lately. Well, you're absolutely correct! I'm happy to report that this is slowly but surely starting to change. So I thought I'd provide a one-stop location where people can go and read up on what appears to be a catastrophe, if they haven't already done so. I've not read it myself in detail yet, but I briefly glanced over it yesterday. It seems to me that some of this is a review, but it's always good to have a refresher course about these things. Check it out at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46318565 . Sorry URL shortening appears to be broken again.
There haven't been many of these, if any at all. The reason is that I've never had trouble sleeping. I think part of this is because I don't drink coffee, although I've heard and read that for some people coffee is not bad for sleep. I like coffee ice cream though. I find it rather amusing that a lot of automated emails I get go out at odd hours, such as 3:30 in the morning. Or sometimes it's actual people who email me at these odd hours. But that's okay, because I know that I'll get their emails when I check mine. Email never sleeps but I do.
If I could work anywhere, it would probably be right here in my apartment, at my computer. But this computer is portable, so if I could find reliable transportation and if I weren't so bogged down with engagements here in my building, I would be happy to travel. I would really like to be a computer consultant: testing for accessibility of websites and software that people run on their computers and/or smartphones. I just got my first fully-accessible smartphone earlier this year. I am still learning, but I really like it! I'd also like to train people on accessibility. Believe it or not, some people still don't know what accessibility means.





But the part about employment which I don't like is going through the voc/rehab agency here in my state. It is a very, very slow process and that fact has been painfully obvious over the years. Yet people keep telling me and others to stick with it and stick with it again and again and again. But nothing ever gets done.
Hi everyone. Title pretty much sums it up but not all the way. I am still learning my iPhone, but I've done more with it since my last update and like it a lot. But what I'd like to discuss in this entry is a specific 3rd-party app. I've tried out a few apps, some native and some 3rd-party ones. But the app I'd like to discuss today is relatively new, and it's from Microsoft. I was a Windows and DOS user up until Christmas of 2013, which was when I made the jump to the Macintosh platform. I used 3rd-party screen readers on Windows and DOS, since at the time Narrator wasn't that great. No offense of course is intended. My parents ended up having to pay out of pocket for the most part for the majority of it. But I also used NVDA, the free and very good Windows-based screen reader. Windows worked very well for me, and I could get everything done that I needed.





But I'd like to discuss a Microsoft app called Seeing AI. I downloaded this app a few days ago from the App store. I was able to use Touch ID in order to initiate the download. The app took a little while to download and install, but as I will explain in a bit it was well worth the wait and thus far is working pretty nicely. This app is free, which I honestly found a bit surprising given all that it can do. Just point your favorite browser to http://www.seeingai.com . This link will take you to a dedicated section for the app on Microsoft's website. It might refresh a bit though. You have been warned.





I won't bother describing the app in detail, since their website does a very good job of that. But suffice it to say Microsoft has packed several great features in and rolled them all into one app. I'm proud to report that one of these is great accessibility with VoiceOver. I think this is pretty sweet. I've not yet tried out everything, but here are some of the highlights for me.





Product channel: I've frequently heard the beeps of those bar-code scanners at the grocery store, and was always curious about them. I've also been to http://www.directionsforme.org . Hats off to Horizons for the Blind for developing Directions for Me. Well, the Product channel in Seeing AI does just that and it seems to work very well. The only problem appeared to be that on the days I tried this channel out, Mother Nature decided for whatever reason not to cooperate and the days were rather cloudy. So I can only guess that even with all the proper lighting from my apartment and from within my iPhone, the scans tend not to go well on cloudy days. But having said that I was able to scan a few items from my cabinets and one frozen item. The freezer item seemed particularly difficult, which again might've been due to the lighting. Either that, or I didn't have my iPhone and the food item positioned correctly. Or perhaps both these factors joined forces. But I did hear a few beeps, which indicated that the scan was perhaps in progress.





The other highlight for me was the Currency channel, which I think is still in beta but seems to work great. My neighbor from across the hall happened to be over here yet again at the time, and he offered me one of his bills to scan. So I accepted and Seeing AI correctly identified the bill right away. I of course gave the bill back to my neighbor. I wanted to steal it from him but he had another idea, lol.





I have not yet explored the other channels, but I know they're there. I truly hope Seeing AI isn't one of those things that sees development for a while and then disappears off everybody's radar screens never to re-surface. This app has some wonderful potential and is very well thought out. So hats off to Microsoft for that, and I hope to see further enhancements.
Just in case people did not know, I have only been able to sense light and dark all my life. But unlike some people, I like being blind. I think it's rather cool. This isn't to say that I'd wish it on others, but there are just a lot of things about being blind that in my view make it all worthwhile. There are certainly those not-so-easy things about being blind which I'll get to in a bit, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. For instance, take the issue of technology. Companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Google have really done a great job in the accessibility department. As a matter of fact, I'm writing this journal entry on the MacBook Air which my parents were kind enough to give me for Christmas in 2013. I'm using the built-in screen reader known as VoiceOver, which comes standard in all of Apple's products to date at absolutely no cost to the user. That's good especially given that Apple's products are rather expensive. Additionally, not all screen readers come standard in the operating system.





But in addition to my Mac, I just got my first truly accessible smartphone earlier this year. It is an iPhone 7, and although I'm still learning I really like it. My parents and I were skeptical at first, because of the lack of a tactile keyboard on the iPhones. But it all worked out in the end, and my father and I were able to go make the purchase.





But there's another thing about this technology which I'd like to say. A lot of websites are compatible with screen readers and other types of assistive technology, so that I and others can use said websites. These include the web platform that hosts my journal. This platform has free and paid plans available.





But along with the positives must come negatives, unfortunately. I think the biggest negative for me about being blind is transportation. I know that I cannot drive. I often joke around with friends and family about this, and tell them that I just drive with one hand on the steering wheel and my cane on the road. This joke has been told before in various forms by other people. I actually got to drive a bumper car when I was little and living in another state, but I had a sighted family member in the vehicle assisting me. That was a great deal of fun. But in reality I know I cannot and will most likely never drive a vehicle, and that inandof itself doesn't bother me in the least bit. I fully recognize that all hell would break loose if I were actually out on the road. Here I'm talking not being able to control things like ADA paratransit. I can and have certainly attempted to book ADA paratransit trips before over the years. Some of these attempts have been successful, and others have not. In my view at least, the fact that I haven't gotten out as much as I probably should, need not have any impact as to whether or not I and others in similar situations get priority when it comes to ADA paratransit. Whether a person has a medical appointment or is just casually meeting friends for drinks somewhere shouldn't matter. Our nation's paratransit system needs an overhaul, with more funding made available. I have recently taken to only using ADA paratransit during those times when I'm not on a set schedule, such as going to my parents' place. People have over the years been telling me to just try and take ADA paratransit somewhere just for fun, and I honestly have mixed feelings about this.
A practice from the past that I'd like to see make a comeback is live people answering the phones at stores, doctor's offices, etc. As much as I enjoy all this newfangled technology, there are times when I want to speak with an actual person. In addition, some of those voice-response menus I've experienced have a lot of difficulty understanding me for whatever reason. I speak as clearly as possible, and enunciate my words and other selections. But still, some of those just cannot make out what I'm saying. Some of them offer users the option of keying in their menu selection, and that's good. For some of them, keypad entry is the only choice. I'm wondering how people handle these things who have speech impairments, such as somebody with severe cerebral palsy? But I guess I might never know the answer to that one. As much as I'd like to know, it just doesn't seem too terribly important on the one hand. But that's okay, so long as everything gets done in a timely manner and according to personal preference.
Hi folks. Okay, so I guess this'll be a quick one because I landed on "Quick Update" after replying to someone, lol! But I downloaded and installed OS Mojave yesterday, Apple's latest Mac offering. I won't bother going through the new features, bugs that have been squashed or anything like that because once again I'd be repeating what others have already said. But suffice it to say, I'm pleased thus far. What I will also say is that based on my limited testing, it seems Apple's idea of porting iOS apps and/or settings over to the Mac might be a good one. Or maybe not, depending on whose side you're on. But at this point it's a bit confusing to me in a way. Perhaps that's due to the fact I haven't used my iPhone enough yet. Well, I said this was gonna be a "quick update", so with that in mind I'm outa here. Take care and please don't drink and drive.
Hi everybody. This entry's title pretty much says it all. As many of you are hopefully aware by now, Apple released iOS 12 to the masses on Monday, as well as some other goodies. We Mac users are getting our fun in the sun next week, but I did manage to update my iPhone on Tuesday. This was the first major iOS update I installed, and I honestly did not expect it to go well for that reason. Call me a pessimist or whatever you will, lol. However, I was pleasantly surprised. My only problem was the timing upon attempting to enter in my passcode in order for my iPhone to do its thing all the way through. But I sort of anticipated that, and planned accordingly. One of my tutors from Center for Independent Futures was scheduled to come later that day, and he did so I just dictated my passcode to him and he entered it into the appropriate box. And yes, I do trust him because we've been working together since December of 2005. Once he did that, my iPhone started doing its thing and I turned VoiceOver back on just to see what would happen. Sure enough, the screen reader reported the update progress from time to time, and did a stellar job as always. The entire process didn't take that long, and I am very happy with the results.





I'm not going to go through anything in detail, because that's already been done. But I will say that iOS 12 contains some wonderful stuff. One thing which I'm looking forward to--if I'm reading things correctly--is the improvements to website passwords and Touch ID. I'm probably not alone in saying this, but the whole concept of typing on one of these devices is rather foreign. I hope to go back to Second Sense here in Chicago to get some more training perhaps on that, as well as other stuff. I've just not managed to find time to do that as of yet. But having said that, I am getting a bit better at typing on my iPhone. So for those of you iOS users who haven't yet taken the plunge, now is the time to do so. Please make sure to back up your devices prior to installing iOS 12. Instructions can be found on AppleVis; please see the "Other Interesting Links" section of my site.
Hey everyone. Yup, I finished week 2 of "Understanding Anxiety, Depression and CBT." This week we covered depression in great detail, and I found it very enjoyable and thought-provoking. I participated in all discussions, and learned a lot. I know some people with this disorder, but I do not have it myself. Next week we are going to cover anxiety. One thing I like about this course is that the material is being presented very well. I'm one of those people who find it best to digest this type of material bit by bit, and that's exactly what they're doing. I mean, I can now handle large bits of information, but this kind is probably best presented in bits and pieces. There are 3 weeks left in this course. The other neat thing is that we can jump ahead if we want, and I just might do that a little bit to save time. My social life has more or less gotten the best of me over the years, lol. But I think that's a good thing. Not that I've gotten out much on my own, but my building mates love good conversation and so do I.
Good day everybody. I know the title of this entry might sound to some of you like a computer prompt, but that's not quite what I'm getting at here. I started an online course from Open University. I'm still going to continue with my Hadley course and most likely take some other ones from them, but I read something about Open University awhile back and thought I'd check them out. I found some courses that peeked my interest, so I sent them an email to ask if they had any free offerings. I heard back from a team member who directed me to their free stuff, so I went ahead and signed up for "Understanding Anxiety, Depression and CBT". This past week was the start of the course, and I'm happy to report that I'm really enjoying it thus far. In addition, everything thus far is very accessible on the Mac with both screen readers I'm using. I've never had either of these disorders, but I have some friends who have them and I wanted to learn more. I just downloaded a mood diary template upon completion of the first week, and am going to see what I can do with it. Never kept a mood diary before though, other than filling in my moods on here and at iMood. I'm looking forward to the remainder of the course.
Hi everyone. I mentioned a few entries back that I recently paid a visit to my local Social Security office. I'm not going to disclose many details of that visit on here, but suffice it to say all went surprisingly well. Or so I thought. I had to wait a few minutes for my name to be called, but it was nothing compared to my visit to that same office many years ago. So I went back and met with a representative to conduct my business. One thing we did was try and create an online account for me. For whatever reason I did not receive the Braille activation code I was promised, but a print one eventually arrived instead. So my father had to read it to me, and we were then able to finish creating my account. I am happy to report that the Social Security website is very accessible at least with Apple's on-board screen reader VoiceOver, and with the screen reader extension from Google known as Chromevox. The site also has other helpful access features. So a big shout out to everybody involved in developing and testing that website.
Hi everyone. I thought I'd post another random update right here, just because I can. Nothing really Earth-shattering to report, but just figured I'd get this out before hitting the sack. I'm happy to report that the stomach bug which I seem to have been bitten by late last week has left me. I almost had an accident of epic proportions right in my neighbor's apartment across the hall, but somehow I managed to avoid that and he was very kind as he always is and let me invade his bathroom for a little while. Fortunately his bathroom was remodeled late last year, and it is much improved. Also fortunate is the fact that I'd already worked out for the week with my newer tutor. Then last Sunday morning when I was feeling a lot better, my other tutor--the one who has been with me a lot longer--went with me to a flea market and we walked around for awhile. He ended up making some purchases, but I didn't. The purchase for me that day came at breakfast, when we stopped at a Burger King and sat down at a table. Ya know, there's just something so good about those fast-food places. They're awesome for when you're in a pinch or a pickle. Pun totally intended. Additionally, their food tastes so great. It might not all be the most healthy food on the planet, but who's counting anyway?





The other thing I want to discuss here is my iPhone. I honestly haven't had as much time with it as I've wanted as of late, due to the fact my neighbors are major social butterflies. Well, I guess I'm one too. But I have learned a few more things, and am happy to report that the iPhone was indeed a good investment on my and my parents' part. No I haven't yet been able to try out any but one 3rd-party app. But I certainly know where to get them now for when the time comes. I'm planning to start working with an orientation&mobility instructor from Second Sense, which is where I attended those 2 tutoring sessions mentioned in prior entries. In addition, I may go for some more iPhone tutoring one of these days. That is, if the neighbors can leave me alone for long enough, lol. But I'm sure we'll work something out. Anyway, that's all for tonight. Take care everyone and don't you dare sleep in the subways!
Hi everyone. This entry is to test out some new features that were recently introduced on the mighty Dreamwidth. I actually enabled one of these features yesterday, that being the Shortcuts. I haven't gotten them to work just yet, but this is a brand-new feature so I'm giving it some time. In other news, I paid a visit to my local Social Security office last week and it went a lot better than I expected. But more on that in a future entry. I went to the beach yesterday and another one today, and had fun both times. That's it for now, as I am getting ready to go downstairs to the weekly meeting. TTFN!
Hi folks. I figured I'd post a quick update on my iPhone progress in the middle of doing dishes. I think I'm sort of catching onto the rotor concept on the iPhone. I've read and heard that some VoiceOver users don't like the rotor. So I figured I'd try it out myself. Who knows, I might not like it either and just toss the damn thing out the window, lol! But I like it already. Yes indeed, that was me posting a comment earlier in case you weren't paying attention and were asleep at the wheel or something. I promptly deleted it, using my iPhone of course. The rotor is definitely going to take some getting used to, but I think it's pretty cool. So perhaps I'll be able to download more apps after all, yay! I have some specific ones in mind that are listed on AppleVis. Tell ya what: this iPhone is sure growing on me. All righty then, back to my dishes before my life-skills tutor gets here. Take care all and stay out of trouble!

February 2019

S M T W T F S
     12
345678 9
10111213141516
17181920212223
2425262728  

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Feb. 18th, 2019 10:26 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios