Blind Bargains

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Opinion: Shady Code Alert: Amazon iPhone App Detects Voiceover and Quietly Disables Alexa

Earlier this week, I presented a brand new workshop on conversational assistants at the library where I work. Our discussion-based tech events are a chance for blind New Yorkers to explore what's new in accessible technology, And I was pretty excited to share how Google, Apple and Amazon have designed simple, conversational interfaces that work well for blind and sighted people alike.

Getting Creative With Braille On Windows: a Look At Beta Braille Support With the Windows 10 Update

When Microsoft announced its plans for 2017, one of those plans was to implement support for braille displays through Narrator. With the release of the Creator's update, Microsoft has begun delivering on this promise. According to the December 2016 blog entry, "The (Windows Creators update) beta will support braille displays from more than 35 manufacturers, using more than 40 languages and multiple braille variants, including grade 2 contracted braille."." How well has that come to pass with the public release? Read on to find out my experiences from installing and running various devices on the new Windows 10 update.

Preorder Vaux, The Speaker That Turns Your Echo Dot in to a Portable Battery Powered Device

VAUX is the first battery-powered speaker designed specifically to house the Amazon Echo Dot. Its cordless portability, enhanced audio quality and beautiful modern aesthetic lets you enjoy VAUX anywhere in your home environment. Plug, Play. Enjoy.

Live on the Edge, or have an Ultra Lifestyle? An In-depth review of HIMS and Baum Braille Displays

Some of today's braille displays do a lot more than just display braille, but which one is right for your needs? In this in-depth article, I compare the VarioUltra (VU) from Baum and the Braille Edge from HIMS. I chose These 2 units because they both have 40 cells of braille and are what the market seems to now call "smart displays", a term given to devices which do not perform all of the functions of a traditional notetaker such as playing music, GPS navigation, downloading email directly to the device, or browsing the internet. At the same time, these devices are able to accomplish more than just connecting to an external gadget such as a computer, tablet, or smart phone. While these braille devices are in the middle in terms of functionality, they're also in the middle in terms of their price point when compared with other categories of braille devices. This article will examine both the Braille Edge and VarioUltra for their connectivity, support while connecting with some external devices, their internal applications, and physical appearance.

Apple Rundown: The “Don’t Throw Away The Gift Receipt” Edition

The holidays are usually a fun and happy time. You sing carols around the Festivus pole or holiday tree. You countdown the hours until midnight during New year's Eve with that shiny new Apple Watch. And you reflect back on the year that was with a sense of reverence. Um, yeah, that is how it is meant to be unless you factor in the party pooper of all years 2016. Not even the company Steve Jobs built was immune to the harshest of years as you will see in the stories below. Moreover, and I cannot underscore this enough, I had to quit capturing links for this edition because it was frankly making me depressed. Dogpiling, kicking you when you are down or even opportunistic doesn t begin to summarize the wide array of sadness that comes from Apple watching these days. Here s hoping that 2017 brings us an Amazon Echo competitor, foldable iPhones plus self driving iCars!

Blind Bargains Qast 2016: By The Numbers Listener Edition


The Blind Bargains Qast can t thank enough our friends, fans and cast of Regulars. Chancey, Jeff, J.J., Joe, Liam, Patrick, Scott, Shelly and Ricky all work hard to bring you information and entertainment that we think our Community will enjoy. Our Sponsors deserve a huge round of applause as well, as their support allows us to bring you event coverage. However, and most importantly, you, the listener, matter most of all. Submissions, emails and social media mentions have enabled us to grow our download numbers by 30% over 2015 s download numbers. We can t wait to see where we will go in 2017, however, we can t go anywhere without your feedback. Please feel free to send us your ideas and suggestions to or leave comments in the section below. Or, as you will read shortly, click on those shows and interviews that interest you the most. Your input shapes BBQ even if all you do is pass along a link to our content.

Cooking with J: Dead Simple Chicken Tikka Masala in the Instant Pot

A cooking column? This may be one of the last things you'd expect me to embark on but here we are. First of all, let me be completely honest. I am not a chef, nor do I know a lot of the intricacies of gourmet cooking. I do know that I like good food and meals which are simple to create. With these things in mind, I was enamored with the idea of the Instant Pot pressure cookers for their ease of use and the possibility of making all sorts of delicious dishes using only one pot. To learn more about the basics of the Instant Pot, check out Blind Bargains Qast 78 where Ricky Enger and myself discuss and demo the appliance in depth. And if you wish to purchase one, check out this page on Amazon which usually has the best prices.

Okay Google… Find Me First Impressions of Google Home

It seems like we are going to have yet another first mover advantage debate in our community. Yep, Windows versus Mac is new again. Android versus iOS was over before the war even started. Now we can add Amazon Echo versus Google Home into the fray as many out there have started to form factions on which Digital Assistant they would like to use for asking everything from How far is the Taco Bell on 3rd street? to ordering an Uber to take you to get a crunchy taco on 3rd street.

The Apple Rundown: The Command Triple Click Home Edition

September 19th seems so long ago.
Back in those halcyon days of a month and a half ago, when I knew another Apple event was on the horizon, I mused that I would have little to post other than the iPod turning 15 years old. Maybe a few articles on the new mac OS would be in order. And, if it made the street date, I'd have some things to post about iOS 10.1. Sure, there would be the 4th quarter earnings report to ponder. And I'd end the article with something funny in regards to the headphone jack.

then 2016 happened with its ability to upend everything you know and expect in a rational universe.

Apple Rundown: The Scratched Jet Black Edition

Perhaps you are sitting patiently with a tracking number in hand waiting for the delivery of a shiny new product that has winged its way from China, designed by Cupertino of course, and will be the greatest thing you have ever owned ... until the next Apple keynote, in which you will start the buying process all over again like so many salmon swimming upstream. It is the "Circle of iLife" in perpetual motion. Or, you might be clicking in to see what links I've compiled for launch day based upon my previous posts under this banner. in either case, welcome to a few stories from around the net that deal with the subject of Apple.

Sling TV offers new users a 32GB Apple TV for $89

One of the mentions in Monday's Apple WWDC keynote was the addition of Sling TV, a subscription service that brings over 20 popular channels to your device for $20 per month. With this news came the announcement of a promotion that new subscribers can receive a 32GB Apple TV for $89 when three months of service is paid for in advance ($60). This is a $209 value as the device itself sells for $149. You're basically receiving a free three month trial with a purchase of an Apple TV.

Sling TV offers over 20 channels in its base package that includes ESPN, HGTV, TBS, TNT, and more. You can add up to an additional 65 channels such as HBO, Cinemax and more. If you ve been looking to cut the cord, this is a great way to get started. Use the provided link to take advantage of this offer. Note some users report having accessibility issues with this app as it currently stands.

A Mock Election: We Tested 3 Modern Voting Machines for Accessibility

Recently, I had the opportunity to test three of the latest voting machines equipped with accessibility features. The Michigan Bureau of Elections held a Mock Election which allowed testers and poll workers to experience each of the machines and tabulate votes for both disabled and non-disabled voters. From my testing of the three machines, it was apparent that the usability of each system ranged from pleasant to downright frustrating. Below are some initial impressions of each machine, presented in the order they were tested.

Review: Which is it: the iPhone SE or iPhone 6S?

Among the announcements at Apple's latest event, was the introduction of the iPhone SE. IT has most of the same features as the current flagship 6s and 6S Plus models, but was much smaller. After learning of this announcement, I became intrigued. As an iPhone 6S user since September of last year, one of the few complaints I had about the 6S was its size. While I could get used to the larger phone, and kind of did, it always felt a bit too big for my liking. While an increase in battery life with the 6S Plus models were something I wanted to have, and having more real estate to work with Braille Screen Input is a nice feature, I could buy a battery case for less than the cost of the difference in price. TO add to that, Braille Screen Input isn't something I make very heavy use of. These were the things I considered when weighing the 6S against the 6S Plus.

The Blind Bargains Guide to Attending #CSUN16 on a Budget

It's once again time for what has become a bit of an annual tradition around here. Every March when we talk endlessly about CSUN, the largest assistive technology conference for the blind, we hear from people who would love to go, if only it was within their budget. With room rates over $200 a night, a nearly $500 registration fee, plane tickets, meals, and other expenses, the cost often seems prohibitive. With this in mind, we've updated our list of tips for enjoying the conference on a budget.

How to Turn Any Wired Speaker Set Into Bluetooth Wireless Speakers

The Logitech Bluetooth Audio Adapter connects to any PC powered speaker, home stereo system, or AV receiver with a RCA or 3.5mm jack and essentially turns the system into a Bluetooth speaker setup that is capable of receiving audio streamed from any device that features the Bluetooth chip. The adapter comes with integrated long range wireless , meaning that audio can be streamed from approximately 50-feet away from the device, a perfect range for the average house.

The Logitech Bluetooth Audio Adapter also ships with the ability to pair multiple devices at once, meaning simultaneous pairing of a smartphone and a tablet is possible. That pairing is also made extremely simple with an easy pairing feature, and automatic re-pairing when the device is switched on. Given how useful this little device is, and given the fact that there s no requirement to tinker with wires and altering existing audio setups for wireless compatibility, it s pretty much a no-brainer purchase for anyone looking to make a set of speakers wireless.

So if you have an old stereo system that you just don t use much because of the need to connect your audio source to it using a wire, this $27 investment will give your system a whole new lease on life.

Record Phone Calls with Your iPhone Case? Now You Can

Have you ever wanted to record a phone call? If you've ever thought that recording a call on an iPhone is something that could be of benefit to you, then you might want to check out this new iPhone case.

Available for $29 as part of an Indiegogo campaign that s hoping to raise $30,000 in order to get started, the Just In Case call recording iPhone case is actually a self-contained device that doesn t connect to your iPhone at all, and that s what makes it so useful.

While obviously providing somewhere to keep your iPhone, the Just In Case iPhone case has a well-placed microphone that is capable of capturing both your voice and that of the other caller and then saving the call as an MP3 to the included 2GB SD card. Buyers can, of course, put their own, larger card in there, but given the fact this is audio, we expect 2GB to be plenty for most.

The case not only records audio but also timestamps it for later retrieval, and the JIC only has two buttons, making it super easy to use. One button is the start/stop recording button, while the other is to initiate playback through a speaker on the back of the case. There s a rechargeable battery included that is said to be good for 8 hours of use. That $29 is early-bird pricing, so if you think this is something that you may want, now would be a good time to get your order in before the price goes up. JIC is available in red, black, blue, white, yellow, and green. It's designed for iPhone 5 and above, and will start shipping in May 2016.

Blind Bargains Top 10 Stories of 2015: 4. A Perfect 10?

The ballots are in and the votes have been tallied. It's time to count down the top 10 biggest and most influential stories of 2015. This year's panel included Jeff Bishop, Shelly Brisbin, Ricky Enger, Chancey Fleet, J.J. Meddaugh, Jamie Pauls, and Joe Steinkamp.
Each panelist gave us their opinions on the biggest stories in assistive technology and we've compiled their votes to create our annual list. We'll reveal a new story each day on the way to number one and announce the winner on the next Blind Bargains Qast. The 4th biggest story of the year may not impact you just yet, however, its footprint could be felt for years.

Blind Bargains Top 10 Stories of 2015: 5. The Year of the Helpful Cloud

We're about halfway through the Blind Bargains annual look at the top 10 biggest and most influential stories of 2015. This year's panel included Jeff Bishop, Shelly Brisbin, Ricky Enger, Chancey Fleet, J.J. Meddaugh, Jamie Pauls, and Joe Steinkamp. You can go here for our previous stories
Let's go to panelist Chancey Fleet for our number 5 story.

Blind Bargains Top 10 Stories of 2015: 6. These Are The Droid Apps You Are Looking For

The ballots are in and the votes have been tallied. It's time to count down the top 10 biggest and most influential stories of 2015. This year's panel included Jeff Bishop, Shelly Brisbin, Ricky Enger, Chancey Fleet, J.J. Meddaugh, Jamie Pauls, and Joe Steinkamp. You can go here for our previous stories
Each panelist gave us their opinions on the biggest stories in assistive technology and we've compiled their votes to create our annual list. We'll reveal a new story each day on the way to number one and announce the winner on the next Blind Bargains Qast. Our 6th story of the year may prove to be more relevant than some might initially think when the word "Android" is mentioned.

Updated! The Unofficial Guide to Changing Braille Displays and other Adaptive Technology into UEB

As the time has come to begin transitioning to Unified English Braille (UEB) in the US, I thought it would be a good idea to briefly discuss how to change various adaptive technologies to UEB from US English braille. Many pieces of assistive technology already support the UEB code, it s simply a matter of enabling them. Below is a list of the more common devices and how to make these changes. note that stand alone braille displays such as the Focus, Smart Beetle, Brailliant BI, etc, do not have specific settings for UEB, as these devices only receive input/output from the device they are connected to. Also note that these instructions apply to the latest version of the hardware/software listed, your results may vary on older models or versions of software. It is also assumed you know how to navigate and select various options for the hardware/software listed. A comprehensive guide to each device is beyond the scope of an article. Please consult user documentation for further support as needed.

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