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The iPad Is Not The Future

It only takes a second to find glowing reviews about the iPad Pro 2018. I am not impressed and here’s why. 

  1. While the redesign may look cool. Holding th device reminds me of the iPhone 5 and 5S. Which in there own right where great devices to hold at that form factor of 4 inch screen sizes. Bumping that glass up to 11 or 12.9 inches just doesn’t work. Holding and feeling the new iPads is like holding a sharp razor with the blade cutting into your hand slightly. You don’t even notice until it’s to late.
  2. 2. I have to say it folks, the iPad is just  bigger iPhone. From a blindness perspective, it’s not a thing to be thrilled about. Nagvigation is made harder and for the fact that the device isn’t running a real OS is hard.
  3. Speaking of OS, Apple will never get anywhere with the iPad until they either revamp iOS specifically for the iPad or put Mac OS on it. I don’t need to say anymore about this subject.
  4. Type C is great however, when you limit what the port can do. The port itself becomes useless. Making the whole “one port to rule them all.” thing a past fleeding thought. Just like a past girlfriend you once had. oh wait! 
  5. When your own web broswer can’t display how many results you have, that’s laughable at best. Mobile safari and crippled versions of Mac OS apps rely on little to no functionality when compared to their bigger laptop counterparts. 

Tablet Bend tests need to stop

There is a big trend going around now on YouTube. People are getting tablets (mainly iPads) and bending them. But why?

 

The answer is simple if you are the person making the video. “The reason a bend test is important is to test the structural integrity of the device.” This quote was provided from a youtube channel named JerryRigeverything. You can look up his videos on YouTube and see is tests on devices.

 

I take issue with this statement. While I believe tests should be run to examine the hardware’s capabilities and limitations. Dropping from different heights, scratch tests, bend tests, etc. are not necessary. The average consumer yet the average tech consumer. Will buy a protective case or insurance for accidental damage. While I personally believe that drop tests are fine from 3 to 5 feet. The redicously insane heights are unrealistic. Many people put a screen protector over the broken glass or get the device fixed. There is even a case to be made for putting your phone in a protective case. I would also suggest a screen protector at this point as well. Better to protect both sides then just one.

 

Bend tests are stupid because while they show where the manufacturer skipped in structurally securing the device. Putting the device in this case a tablet in a bag, purse, backpack, messenger bag etc. and setting it down. Will not allow for bending of any kind. Especially if the device in question has a case to protect it.

 

If you think I am wrong on this issue. I’d like to see what your coments are on this post.

Aira, the virtual guide dog for everything service

When I started to learn mobility, I wish Aira was around. I had to learn by mentally mapping out my location and writing down directions on my Braille N. Speak at the time. I eventually graduated to using GPS devices made for the blind like the Trekker Breeze from Humanware. I then moved on up to running the Sendero GPS software on a braillenote Apex and loved that experience.

When the iPhone 3GS came out I then moved on to truly mobile GPS solutions like navigon and eventually Nearby Explorer on an iPhone X. GPS can only get you so far though. It can not tell you what’s in front of you or even beside you. Enter in a service called Aira.

Aira is a service that when paired with a set of “smart ” glasses or a phone is revolutionary to not only travel but everyday independence for the blind and visually impaired. The reason I put smart in quotes is because the glasses only have a camera attached. You can not call an Aira agent without a iPhone or Android smartphone.

So, how does Aira work? You as the blind person call with your phone or glasses connected with the app an Aira agent. This agent is trained to give you whatever assistance you need. Think of an agent as your virtual world screen reader. Allowing as much or as little information as you need. I have used them for a variety of tasks. I will write more blog posts on my various different uses. I wanted to focus this article on the navigation aspect of Aira.

Navigating has never been hard or at least not really for me. I have a lot of times been able to visualize within my minds eye directions. granted I have been able to see for a lot of my life however, that is all changing now. Some days I can and some days I can’t. When I can it is never near the level of what I could see before. Again, other posts to come on that as well. anyways, Aira is like having a virtual guide dog in your ear. They will tell you what is around you and how to avoid it. The advantage here is clear. You do not have to notice anymore with your cane how to move around an obstacle because the agent will tell you.

A perfect example I can give comes first hand. I was walking to the library locally and knew it was close by. I called up an agent just to make sure I was going the right way. While on the walk, the agent told me that there was a big truck on the sidewalk of all places! We both wondered if that was legal however, the agent helped me move around the obstacle safely. The agent also told me when poles were around and in which direction I needed to move in order to go about my way safely.

The biggest thing I can say is this. I love Aira for this reason. I find every experience enlightening and awesome. Especially the travel experiences as I don’t feel alone and lost. Aira is an awesome service and they are expanding to many different places. As of the writing of this article. Aira is now available at every walgreens locations around the world. Giving blind and visually impaired people the freedom to use Aira absolutely free in all Walgreens locations. For current explorers you will not use your minutes in any Walgreens location. This is huge as me and my wife go to Walgreens a lot. This will be awesome to use Aira for anything and as long as we need them.

As you can tell, I am very excited to be an Aira explorer. I cant recommend them enough because they are life changing.

Why I switched to a microsoft surface instead of a Macbook Pro

For many of you who know me I have my B.S. in Audio Production with a minor in communications. For the past 3 months or so, I have been getting certified as a recruiting and sourcing agent. This basically means that I will be hiring people for many different companies and positions. Because of this new found certification and awesome job I needed to get a portable computer that fit my needs. My wife and I do a lot of vlogging, so, the computer needed to be fast but yet portable enough to handle a lot of email, word processing and tracking applications that I needed for work related activities. I potentially thought of going towards a Mac computer. My wife and I went into an Apple store and waited nearly 30 minutes to get help. While I understand the Apple store is busy, I almost left the store without looking at any computers. The number one thing that moved me away from buying a macbook pro or any laptop from Apple was and still is the keyboard experience. I felt like I was skating over ice with my fingers. Barely able to tactily feel any particular key. Did I mention I almost made it into working for Apple retail? I feel sorry for the poor soul who has to say that the typing experience is great when it is not at all.

 

From an accessibility screen reader standpoint, I feel that voiceover is still harder to grasp than any windows screen reader. This is because you have to struggle with Voiceover on the mac. Where as with a windows screen reader it just gets out of your way. Letting you do what you need to do and helping whenever it needs to. This goes for narrarator as well. Microsoft has been doing a lot with their screen reader, and I am impressed.

 

Surprisingly the Microsoft kiosk was right behind the Apple store. My wife and I went over there just to check out their new computers. I went over there to check out what Microsoft had to offer in the portability camp. Well, I made a investment into my certification.

 

I purchased a Surface Pro 6! The base line model along with a typecover to match. While I was leaning towards to getting the black version. I felt that the matte black would scuff and potentially just show the silver underneath so, I stayed away. I thought about getting the pen however, what would a blind guy use a pen for?

 

Performance on the Surface Pro 6 has been awesome. Programs run fast and the fast flash storage is awesome. I am running NVDA on this system because it is light and doesn’t way the computer down like JAWS. Which I have on my desktop computer that has the space and capacity to hold such a large program.

 

Unlike the new iPad Pro machines which I did consider. The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 doesn’t compromise on anything. You will find tech reviewers not likeing the machine because it doesn’t have a USB Type C port. I don’t mind this at all. I still use non Type C periphals and really don’t know anybody who does use USB Type C if only to charge their phones. This notion that USB Type C is the future in my opinion is complete crap. USB Type C doesn’t sense from a business perspective when you have thousands of computers and need to exchange and share things with others through non cloud specific devices. Many companies by that end are still using computers without USB Type C anyways.

 

So, I still like my standard USB port on the Surface Pro 6. One thing I forgot to mention is that you can install a micro SD card along the underside of the hinge. This hinge keeps the tablet propped up when using it. I have a 16 GB card installed but plan to move that storage up very soon. Overall, I am excited about having a portable machine with a great typing experience to go along with it. In fact, this entire review was written with the Surface Pro 6’s type cover. Performance, portability, and screen reader responsiveness are all great in the new machine. I would say go pick one up for yourself and see how awesome the Surface Pro 6 really is.

A walk with Aira

I was very skeptical about how Aira would work for me. my thought process was if I could get a lot of what I needed from free apps, why would I need anything from Aira.

Well, I was surprised when my mom purchased a subscription for me as a birthday present. For the first few days I used the service for small things like reading labels and figuring out where the pop tarts were in the cabinet and what flavor they were. Then the day came where the true test began.

On August 14 2018, my family and I went out for my birthday. While out I had an Aira agent read me some of the menu which was awesome to say the least. After the meal was finished and the bill paid. My mom told me I should really test out Aira with a walk. Going to a bakery which was right across the street but had some construction in the way. I took the challenge head on.

Firing up Aira on my iShone and connecting to an agent, I was pleasently surprised how much detail was given to me. The street name and cross street, current state of the crosswalk sign and the feet were all things that impressed me greatly while on my walk. If I didn’t want or need any this informofation, I could just tell the agent that I didn’t need any of the information.

As I hit the cross street to get closer to the bakery, the Aira agent goes on to tell me that the construction is on my left and right, the agent also gives me instructions to keep moving forward towards my destinN however disremains quiet when I am was crossing the street.

After getting cross the constrution that was in our way the Aira agent tells me to turn left. As I am walking down the street. Something amazing happened. The agent tells me to my left there is a potted plant with a vine sticking out on my left.

When we finally made it to our destination, the Aira agent couldn’t see the hours of operation on the door. They then proceeded to look up the hours for me and tell them to me. I then asked the agent to get me bam to my original destination. Everything the agent told me he said again. After the call I was so impressed that I had a hard time explaining anything to my family who asked about my experience.

I like having somebody on a call with me when I am traveling, bringing a sense of security to me as well as others in my family. I also like being able to call any time of day and ask for anything I need help with. What are your thoughts? Have you used Aira?

I can honestly say that for the month I have using the Aira service I have become a believer in the service. As of this writing I have not yet received my glasses but will update you all with another article explaining the glasses in detail when I receive them.

Transitions to Blindness: Don’t be Mad At The World

Introduction

We all have situations and things to deal with in our lives. You can either deal with these problems the right way or the wrong way. In this post I will talk about dealing with them the right way as that is the only way to get anywhere in life.

It’s Okay To be Upset For a Little Bit

Everyone gets upset from time to time. I myself get that way when I want something to go a certain way and can’t get it to work out that way. Going blind is something that you don’t have any control over. You feel like the things you used to do are now impossible to do because of blindness. Therefore you get mad and frustrated and don’t know how to handle this new phase in life. I know many blind people who are mad at the world because of their blindness. You don’t have to be one of those people. Letting go of your anger and frustration long enough to realize the positive int eh situation is best.

You can’t stay mad forever because you will not get anywhere in life. The way you treat people is the way you will be treated. Likewise you can’t just say everything that you feel to anyone. Take a deep breathe and take a minute to step back from the situation and learn from it. You can always learn something about yourself or the situation that you are in.

Learning things over again

Many times you will have to learn simple things over again. The washer that you knew how to use with your low vision. Well, now you will have to put tactile dots on it. Furniture that you used to move around easily. Will now have to stay in place. You can’t be tripping inside your own house or apartment. Learning to ask for help can be one of the hardest things. You may feel vulnerable and insecure or even stupid asking. However, let your pride go and remember that everybody asks for help. The only difference between you and somebody els is that you have a vision issue.

Torture Testing The Apple Watch: Experiences With Water

Introduction

There are a ton of benefits wearing the apple watch. I have been seeing the benefits of using one and wearing the device every day. I rarely pick up my phone anymore because I can do most things through the watch. However, when I purchased the device I got the Apple care plan along with it. This was a first for me to ever purchase the care plan with an Apple product. There is a reason I did purchase the Apple care plan. Read more to find out.

Water Stress Test

One of the main reasons I purchased the Apple care plan for my watch was because of work. I had called a few weeks ago before the purchase date to talk to a representative about water resistance of the Apple watch. The rep told me that the watch should be fine however, to go ahead and purchase the care plan because it would bar me from a expensive replacement if water damage were to happen.

A few weeks later I had gotten my Apple watch in the mail. I was excited to put it through the paces of life. Through 7 months of nightly water dunking while doing dishes at Chick Fil A. The watch was and still is impressive. Sometimes the watch would get water inside the speaker unit. I never worried because there is a nifty little feature on the watch. This feature literally pushes water out of the speaker unit. This button is a toggle on the watch but it works. You may end up having to do this water lock feature a few times but it does work getting all of the water out. Another option is to let the watch dry overnight. This to allows the speaker unit inside of the Apple watch to be completely usable the next day. Note that you can put the watch into the water locked state but the touch screen will be completely unusable. However, water may still get into the speaker unit of the watch. Again, this is not a problem at all.

What Do We Do We Swim, Swim

Another opportunity presented itself this summer. I had and still have the occasion to swim in a few pools around my wife’s family. I was interested to see how the Apple watch would handle these various types of pools and situations. Needless to say the watch did perfectly. I never knew how much exercise a person could get just by swimming for 30 minutes.

One of the first tests I did was to put the watch into the water lock state. Just like working with dishes at Chick Fil A the same situations occurred.

Conclusion

I’m very impressed with the Apple watch series 3. I’m even more impressed by how water resistant the watch is. I have no doubts it will last for a long time no matter how much water I throw at it.

What are your thoughts? Do you own an Apple watch? How have your experiences been with the device?

Why I Don’t Use AIRA

Introduction

A few months ago I switched my Focusrite 18i20 audio interface for something different. The hardware was awesome however the software was not accessible to me while in the transition of loosing my vision. So, I now have a Behringer UMC4x4. This change had to happen due to a circumstance that I couldn’t control.

I use this story to say that the AIRA smart glasses may not be for everyone. Here are a few reasons in my opinion why I am not using them at the moment.

Price

I had to bring this point up first. I agree with the price. You are getting a lot for your money and the product and service provided are always getting better. AIRA is like having your own personal assistant in your back pocket that also tells you what’s going on around you. From what I have read and heard in podcasts, I would think that I would enjoy these glasses. However, right now they are out of my price range but I am okay with that.

Apps Do A Lot Of This Already

As I have been listening, reading, and thinking about AIRA and how they could help. I started to think about the services that are already out for the blind. Services like BE My Eyes and Bespecular, Tap Tap See, Seeing AI, KNFB Reader just to name a few. All of these apps I have access to whenever I may need them. I am not limited by not having AIRA at this point in my life. If I need something scanned I can either pull out my phone for a quick look or do it when I get home for a more robust look.

Some Many Devices So Little Battery

Then there is the battery and device issue. Where you have so many different devices to charge and not enough time, or even worse very little battery left on your mobile battery charger. Or you always charge a device at night and then you forget just one time. Now, what will you do? I don’t want that to happen to me. I always have a wireless charger in my office and by my nightstand. So, I can lay my phone down on the wireless charger and know that my battery will be ready to go. Along with charging another device keeping track of one more thing will drive me insane. At current on my person when I leave the house I have. Phone, Apple watch, Sunu band, cane, wallet, Braille Sense U2 (depending on if I need it for a meeting.) So many devices I don’t need another one.

Conclusion

What are your thoughts? Will you purchase an AIRA device? Have you tried the AIRA glasses? Let us know in the comments below.

Transitioning to Sight Loss: Learning music through YouTube, Finding the right videos

Introduction

Learning braille music is amazing. It allows you to “see” the music as written on paper. Just as a sighted person learns to read printed music the same concepts apply to braille music. An E note for instance is not the character in braille for the letter e. That character is the letter f, you have to throw out everything you know about literary braille. Ok, so what about learning music by ear? Braille music is great as stated above. What about learning when braille is hard to come by or not even produced for your instrument? That’s where YouTube comes in. However, there are some pitfalls with this strategy.

So Many Videos

One of the problems with looking up music how to videos on YouTube is the massive amounts of videos. Some of them are just covers with no illustration. Many have poor audio or video quality. Yet others are great in terms of audio and presentation but lack the understanding of an individual not looking at TAB.
So Many Instructors To Little Time
Another pitfall of learning through YouTube is the many instructors and different ways of playing a particular tune. We also circle around to the above problems of audio, instructor clarity and detail of instruction. Ok, so what do I look for in a good video? I’m glad you asked.
Good Instructional Videos Are?
The answer to this question is somewhat hard to answer. The main things you will need to look for are as follows:
Great audio- without good audio you can’t hear anything the presenter says.
Clear detailed directions- the presenter should be able to tell you what string or key he is hitting and what finger or fingers they are using. This allows the visually impaired or blind person to clearly follow along with the instructor.

Notes for Video Instructors

Please for the love of music don’t do the following things
Try to instruct while playing your instrument. Most times talking over a sustained note fading out is fine. However, make sure that you can be heard over the instrument. Especially for a fast song.
Go over parts more than once.
Don’t just reference your tab or say you can download the tab from my website. This helps nobody. Think of it as you had no time to download tab and learn it. The only thing that you were able to do is watch the video.

Conclusion

I hope this post explains what a user who is blind looking for youtube videos needs to watch out for. I also hope that instructors of such videos gain some ideas on how to better implement their awesome content.

Transitioning to Sight Loss: What to do while you’re loosing sight

Introduction

One of the hardest things a person can do is loose something that they’ve had for a while. It gets even worse when you have only had vision out of one eye. Dealing with loosing vision is hard however, it can be done.

Great that you’re positive, how is positivity achieved?

Let me tell you a secret. Before I started loosing my vision I took it for granted. Yes, I was considered legally blind but I could still see the tree to use it as a landmark for instance. I could read regular print with the help of a magnifier but strained my neck to do such a task. I knew braille but had enough vision to see signs. I could go on and on about what I could see and how I used my vision for granted. Forward to now, at the time of this writing my vision is changing. How, well, in short, my vision has become unstable. Due to many factors the vision will sometimes become blurry, and the pen hole that I could see out of just went smaller to nothing. There is no pattern to the craziness and it make last for a few days as well. TheRegardless to say that this is not fun at all. However, I am dealing with it.
I make myself look at my situation this way. Here is an opportunity to do the things that you’ve told yourself you couldn’t do because of your vision. Things like remove the monitor from your computer, learning the advanced feat;features and advanced mental understanding of a screen reader, use braille for everything including silencing speech and just using braille etc. This is a chance to learn how to use technology to the fullest potential. I’ve gone as far to turn down my screen brightness on my iPhone an just using speech. Something that I have been sturggling with for years. So, if you are struggling with loosing your vision. Make it a game with yourself. I totally understand if you need time to mourn the loss of your sight. I totally understand and get that. However, loosing sight doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. Make your new life without sight a game. Learn how to do the things you do without sight. Loosing sight will enhance your life in more ways than one.
Conclusion
What do you think? How has loosing your vision improved your life? What do you do differently now that you’ve lost your sight?