Blind Bargains

Blind Bargains Qast 17: The Golden Age Of Braille N Print


This week Joe and J.J. prepare for the oncoming onslaught of tech that will arrive in the forms of Google i/O and Apple's WWDC. We have some great wrap up panels scheduled. So be sure to stay tuned to our feeds for episodes 18 and 19! However, before the cavalcade of announcements begin in earnest, this week the duo discuss your feedback and toss in a tip that will have you tapping your fingers to the beat of a different drummer.

Sponsor: BlindAlive

We'd like to thank this week's sponsor, BlindAlive for providing us the motivation and support needed to create this episode. No matter your level of health or fitness, there is an exercise program out there for you. To learn more about these fitness products, and subscribe to BlindAlive's podcasts, visit their website. And remember "Don't just live, be alive"!

Special note:

As you may know, Joe resides outside of Houston and he notes the terrible flooding that has come about to many portions of Texas due to the record amounts of rain. he suggests to those who have the means, and would like to help, that the American Red Cross is seeking donations for those impacted by the Texas floods. To learn more, visit the Red Cross website.

In The News:

Online Registration for ACB Convention in Dallas now Available

Also, NFB preregistration ends May 31st. If you have not already made your travel plans, this tweet might interest you.
@NFB_voice Discount from @Delta for #NFB15 attendees flying July 2-13: use meeting code NMLJV when booking & receive discount ranging from 2% to 10%

Breaking: You Can Now Binge Watch House of Cards on Netflix with Audio Description

BrailleNote KeySoft 9.5 Brings Exam Mode, Internet Radio, UEB Enhancements

Serotek Announces 3rd Generation of DocuScan Plus, Taking Upgrade Preorders for $149

Meanwhile, AI Squared came out with the ZoomText Mac CamReader.

Dave Williams announced his departure from Dolphin Computer Access this week on Twitter.
@dwilliamsuk Wishing everyone from @YourDolphin well as I bow out after 9 years. So long and thanks for all the cake.

From our friends at Cool Blind Tech, There's Another Screen Reader, and it Wants to Shine on your Android device

Uber: Disability Laws Don't Apply to Us

These are the cities where you can now request a Spanish-speaking Uber driver

Windows 10 upgrades won't be free for everyone: Do you qualify?

Blind Gamers Are Embracing Developers Who Have an Eye for Accessibility

How To: Naming Title Ranges in Excel

Thanks to Char, from the cisco Academy, for sending in this excellent demo/tip for using JAWS and NVDA with Microsoft Excel. CAVI is a great place to gain skills and learn various computer programs. Check them out to learn what they offer!

Tip: Type Drummer

Bang out beats on the keyboard with Type Drummer

Sound Off

We mentioned a musical site earlier, however, we got this tweet in about another tune based site.

@yourchangeling Something you may wish to consider covering is that Spotify Premium is now user friendly with screen readers on Windows 8.1.

J.J. mentioned on the show that the beta version from last year, which contained more screen reader friendly controls, might now be the default public version. We'll give it a try and report back soon on what we find.

darknexus has some thoughts on the Korean backpack navigational aid and graphics display we spoke about last week:

"This is a joke, surely? As if we don't already stick out like a sore thumb with either our canes or dogs, and lose the practical use of one of our hands when walking... Now some company seriously thinks we'd want to lose the use of our one available hand while walking and look like some crazy sci-fi monster while doing it, all for the low price of under $7,000? I have to laugh. Laughter is the only sane response to something like this. I seriously doubt these people have ever even consulted with a blind person in their lives. I'll stick with my Aftershokz, cane, and my favorite Android GPS app which, I might add, cost well under $7,000 altogether... way, way under.

"To iPhone, or not to iPhone?". That is the age old question CW asks in regards to our interview with Jenny Axler of HIMS.

"This show is as good as always and I enjoyed it. The blaze ET sounds interesting, but I am having a hard time convincing myself into buying it when it comes out. If some has an IPhone, what is there in this device for them. On the IPhone, there is the voice dream reading app along with the bard app and the learning ally app. Of course, there is the KNFB scanning app. Other than the ease of use that this device is promising with the file browser, is there something else I am missing? It looks like it is being aimed somewhere between the EZ and the IPhone. I am not trying to say this device is useless, because it is not. Another thing that may be asked by some is why this device over the victor stream or the book port. To me, the built in camera with the OCR gives it an edge over the other devices that might come close, but is it Werth the extra price? I guess the thing that brings up all the questions is the fact that I am having a hard time finding a place in my life for this device even though I would like to own one. In some ways, I can see a point in having a device to read books on that is separate from the IPhone. I currently using a different phone then the IPhone, but I do have my share of IOS devices and I guess I am trying to figure out what slot this device fills for me that an app on the IOS devices does not fill."

J.J. often remarks that it is nice to have choices when it comes to making a purchase decision. Joe also relays some of the common reasons why people will choose a non-Apple solution for their reading needs. The truth is that there is no right answer for everyone. So choose the one that you think fits you best. Just be sure to do the research first yourself. Seek out the devices that interest you, look into the battery life of that choice and estimate the lifetime of use that comes along with whatever decision you make. Oh, and factor in the cost of a replacement device in case it becomes damaged or stolen. That one can shock a person if they ever see the actual retail price of a device out of contract!

Last Word:

The news line up usually has a few items that land in the recycle bin, as mentioned by J.J., and here are a few of those that we ... er ... um... found.

Hilariously honest job posting admits the pay is 'sht' and the boss is a 'dckhead'

Here's how your taste in music evolves as you age, according to science

How to Swear Like a Brit - Anglophenia Ep 29

Waffle-maker dispute results in 30 people kicked out of Mason County hotel, police say

Joe mentions a waffle maker in the shape of Texas. You can get your own on Amazon for around 60 bucks.

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Displaying 3 comments.
Changeling Thursday, 28-May-2015 6:14 PM ET:

It's no surprise to me that the stand-alone NLS player is more popular than the BARD mobile app. As a rehab instructor, I see this all the time. For one thing, using the player is virtually as simple as plugging it in and turning it on. If you want to use the app, however, you need to master using the mobile device with its accessibility features turned on, be able to search for and download apps which means being able to set up an Apple ID, and then you have to master the UI of the app. You think the sentence is long? Just try swallowing having to learn all these things when all you really want is to relax and read a book. The other thing I see is a tendency for the digital cartridges to be more popular than using the BARD site. Again, I suspect this is because using the site is actually a complicated process.


Russ Friday, 29-May-2015 11:10 AM ET:

With the following apps, I can do everything the Blaze does and more minus the ocr. Bard mobile: I can read nls books on it. Books can be directly downloaded to the ipad mini. Audible: I can read books from audible. Books can be directly downloaded to the ipad mini. You can't read books from Audible on the Blace. Here's what Jenny Axler from HIMS said about Audible: Regarding Audible, it's not quite so simple. audible has absolutely NO development tools for Android. That's not to say they do not have Apps, but they can create apps without releaseing development tools to the public. Thus, we're exploring possibilities as to how to integrate this support. Thanks, Jenny A follow up message on Audible Hello, You are not wrong. However, Audible refuses to create any new plugins to make any new devices work with the old Audible Manager through which such authorizations were installed. We did contact them. But, we cannot force them to do this. I am sorry. I wish I had a better answer for you. But, they generally no longer wish to support that type of platform. In fact, someone recently contacted their tech support about a BookSense, and they were told Audible didn’t support it. I mean, even for players already in place to work via this method, there is not technical support available through audible any more. Again, I am sorry for this news, but I don’t know that we can do anything about it but to wait for the streaming platform they tell us they’re developing. Thanks, Jenny Kindle: I can read Kindle books from Amazon. You can't read Kindle books on the Blaze. Learning Ally: I can read books from Learning Ally. I can directly download books to my Ipad mini. You can't downloadbooks from Learning Allydirectly to The Blaze. Boice dream reader: I can read books from bookshare, unprotected epub. Supported File Formats PDF, EPUB (DRM free), DAISY 3.0 text-based eBooks, DAISY 2.02 audiobooks, Zipped MP3 files, such as LibriVox, Plain Text, Rich Text Format (RTF), Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Pages, Apple Keynote, HTML, What's nice about voice dream reader, you can download books from both bookshare and Project Gutenberg directly to the ipad mini. Voice dream reader is supplied with Acapela Heather. You have the optionof using Neospeech or Ivona. Personally, I like Neospeech better than Acapela. I haven't tried Ivona as of yet. LibriVox audio books pro: I can stream or download books from LibriVox or a large selection of old time radio shows. The thing I like about this app, it will resume playback when streaming content. Downcast: I can download podcasts directly to the ipad mini. I can subscribe and unsubscribe to podcasts on the Ipad mini. On the Blaze downloading podcasts works very much like the bookport plus and plextalk pocket. Because of this, you can't subscribe to podcasts on The Blaze itself. Youtube: I can use the Google youtube app to watch videos on my ipad mini. You can't do this on the Blaze. Tune n radio pro: TuneIn lets you listen to and record the world’s radio with sports, news, talk and music streaming from every continent. Enjoy 100,000 live radio stations and 2 million podcasts, concerts or shows on your iPhone, iPad and iPod. Record your favorite stream. ooTunes: Radio - Recording and Alarm Clock! INFINITE Tunes, Talk, Sports, and Entertainment Radio. over 36,000 web radio stations. On the Blaze internet radio works very much like the bookport plus and plextalk pocket. Because of this, you don't have access to the large selection of stations like I do using both the tuneIn radio and ooTunes apps. Personally I feel using the touch typing on my Ipad mini is much faster than using multi-tap text entry mode on the BlazeET when searching for books on BARD or bookshare etc. For me, the biggest drawback to the Blaze EZ, it has no telephone style keypad. Here's what Jenny posted about this on the HIMS list: As for entering text, there won't be as much text entry available in this model. To enter Wi-Fi keys, etc, you will use the arrows to choose your letters/numbers from lists, and you will use the select key to enter it. As you might guess, this isn't a quick method of entry, thus, the lack of entry intensive functionality. This model is focusing on providing access to a variety of content while remaining very simple to operate. Thus, the simplified keyboard and different interface. jenny The ipad mini has dual-channel 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi. The blaze has 2.4 GHZ 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi. The Ipad mini has Bluetooth 4.0. The Blaze has bluetooth 3.0 Both the Ipad mini and Blaze have two speakers. The Blaze uses Acapela as it's tts.


DPenwell Monday, 01-Jun-2015 07:56 AM ET:

I wrote the discussion below in 2014 when a -Tech Doctor- podcast came down hard on the idea of using daisy players. The ironic thing was that when they referred to my comments on the next podcast, they basically ignored the things that I stated that they could be used for that the iPhone could not without finding special apps and turning your phone onto airplane mode so that certain actions were not interrupted by even a phone on vibration mode. They also ignored what I had stated about the advantages of being able to save the books on replaceable memory cards and the ability to keep bookmarked locations and to bookmark recordings. I do like the idea of the Blaze ET with the full number pad. However, I will not consider purchasing a Blaze ET as long as I my daisy players are functional. But, I suspect that the ET has all the functions of the Booksense plus the ability to use it for OCR. ------------------------------------------------------------- On one of the tech doctor podcasts, you came down hard basically saying that you see no use for independent daisy players such as the victor reader stream, Booksense/Booksense XT, or Plextalk PTP1. I know that I will miss some pertinent ideas, but I would like to give my thoughts. I have been a big listener to NLS books ever since I became legally blind. When I was still in the USA, I would listen to them while doing everything from cooking and cleaning, to setting the player outside and turning it up to listen to while I worked in my yard. Needless to say, when I moved to India in January 2008, I missed that. Because I did not want to switch from my Montana service to the US government, I did not try to get one of their players over here. When the BARD services became available, I thought that was great, but I had no access because I did not have anything to play them on. But in 2010, while visiting the USA, I bought my personal daisy player (a Booksense XT), and have been listening to books again ever since. First, I do not own a victor reader stream. But, I do own both a Booksense XT and a Plextalk Pocket PTP1. I bought my first Booksense XT back in 2010. And, 2 years ago, I had to have a friend bring me back a replacement from the USA because I made a mistake while using it. I live in India, and to keep it from swinging loose and banging into things while doing housework or when out in public, I used to keep it tucked into my shirt while doing things. The water vapor from sweating condensed on and corroded some of the parts to where it stopped functioning. So, since I used it to listen to many Bard books, I replaced it. Because I did not want to be without my Bard books, I also bought the Plextalk PTP1 as a spare and backup for my Booksense since it was cheaper than my XT. I started using the iPad (iPad 3 64Gb) in May 2012, and in December 2012 got an iPhone 5 64Gb. I use them both extensively, and I use iBooks, Nook, Kindle, and Bard for listening to books on them. I also use voicedream extensively. But if a book is available in Bard, for general use, I still prefer my daisy players, particularly my Booksense XT. First, both of the daisy players (book readers and more) can record not just as mp3, but can also record in daisy format. If you want to record lectures and bookmark places in your lectures to return to the highlights, that is important. Maybe there is an app to do that on the iOS products. But, I really do not know of one. There is also a second item regarding recording. With both of the daisy players I have, the only limit to recording time is your space on your SD card. There was no voice memo recording app that came with my iPad 3. Also, if you record on your phone and need access to it, keeping lots of recordings of lectures may result in space issues on your iOS device. And, there is no way to bookmark any location on the recording for coming back to it if you are using the voice memo app. Second, and this is a biggy!!!! Even when I do not listen to books, but just listen to podcasts and do other things on my phone I have problems with it getting through an entire day without needing to take time and recharge it. If you are out and about, that is not always possible. Therefore, I use my daisy player for that type of thing. But, if you are listening to books when out walking or riding on the bus/metro/etc., that does mean that you do have to have an extra device with you. For me, my Booksense or Plextalk is easy to use that way as they are light and do not take up much space. My phone is needed for other things that are more important than to run out the charge because of listening to books while at locations where I cannot charge it, or at times that charging is not really possible. Yes, it would be possible to carry a battery that can recharge it with me. But then you have the problem that if you are doing things, you somehow have to bundle that battery and your phone together so that you do not damage your phone connector or destroy your battery cable. Third, I normally listen to my books at close to 2 times the speed at which they were recorded. On every book, there are a few places where I have to go back and listen to that spot 2 or 3 times to catch it. And, sometimes I have to slow down the speed to fully catch a crucial word or 2. On my daisy players, that is much faster and easier. For instance, with the Bard app I have to find the button location with it talking over my book. Then, I have to double tap 2 or 3 times to get it back where I want it if I need to go back a minute or so, or double tap and hold, and then do that again to try to get where I want. (NOTE: I do like the idea that by holding down the back button, you can go back 5, 10, 30 seconds, 5 minutes, etc. But, still that is fairly slow compared to my daisy players.) On my Booksense, after I load a book, I normally change the forward and backup setting to 30 seconds. When I miss something, I can very rapidly backup and listen. If I need to slow it down, I can again do that in under 1 second by one or two quick taps on a button. Backing up to listen again is equally fast on my Plextalk pocket. But, changing speeds is a little slower than my Booksense, but faster than on the IOS Bard app. Those types of things are much faster on my daisy players. Also, the fact that the memory cards are replaceable is very good if you are doing studies. You can keep the data, bookmarks, etc associated with your old textbooks. You do not need to worry about the limitations of space associated with your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch. Although I am not a student, I would consider that to be a very important issue. I was sighted when I went through my engineering courses in College. Certain books I kept because I had areas marked up in them and used them for references even when taking later classes or after receiving my degree in Chemical Engineering. If your space is limited by phone memory, you cannot keep the book and all the highlights/markings you made for studying. Also, being able to replace the memory cards allows you to keep the recordings and bookmarks associated with any of the lectures that you record and not need to worry about space. Many of my historical and other non-fiction books I like to keep on my card as reference with bookmarks at interesting or important locations. (For example, on the Journal of Lewis and Clark, I have their first encounter with a grizzly bear bookmarked as it is interesting and comical. I also have their experiences at Great Falls Montana bookmarked.) Then, I just take off the non-fiction ones that I do not want to keep, and I limit my fiction on my card to 20 fiction books at a time. I admit that I am not impressed with how the wifi access on my Plextalk pocket works, nor the fact that when you press the status button, it goes through all status details, including your wifi status, slowing down getting the information I want regarding how far along in my book I am. And, since the current operating system on it allows download of podcasts, but not of books, I really do not use wi-fi on it and turned the wi-fi off. Also, my booksense XT does not have wi-fi built into it, just bluetooth. Therefore, I agree that implementation of wi-fi could be better. But, I do not mind connecting to my computer periodically to transfer about 20 or so books that I have downloaded onto my computer for transfer. The question comes down this,.... would I purchase a new daisy player if something happened to what I have? I cannot say at this point. I do have the backup one if something happened to either my Booksense XT or my Plextalk Pocket. I hate the price on my Booksense. But, I suspect that I would end up purchasing a replacement if both daisy players died, especially if they updated some of their features, such as adding wi-fi, making the bluetooth easier to use, etc. But, there are definitely features on it that make it a useful tool to have in combination with my iOS devices. There are limitations to the types of things you can do on your phone at the same time. When you're recording, I do not know if you can do everything at the same time, especially if you're trying to do a long recording using your phone. I suspect that an attempted call in or a text in may affect the recording. Therefore, I feel there is still a benefit to having both types of technology.


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Joe Steinkamp is no stranger to the world of technology, having been a user of video magnification and blindness related electronic devices since 1979. Joe has worked in radio, retail management and Vocational Rehabilitation for blind and low vision individuals in Texas. He has been writing about the A.T. Industry for10 years and podcasting about it for nearly 5 years.


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