Blind Bargains

Blind Bargains Qast 135: Braille Screen Input Is Beautiful

It happened to be Pancake Day at the time of recording. We aren't sure if having some form of a pancake would be a good accompaniment for the show, however, expect to hear a lot more about pancakes the closer we get to CSUN. That's because Richard Walker's Pancake House is a "must find" in San Diego. Enough about food. This week we finish up our ATIA coverage with an interview with John Taylor from IRIE_AT about a new smartphone option, discuss Video Magnifiers in "Sound Off" and talk about pancakes in the "Last Word". Hey wait, how did that get there? Oh well, grab a pad of butter and slather on the syrup for episode 135 of the delicious BBQ.

In The News:

Be my eyes partners with Microsoft to offer free tech support for Blind and Visually Impaired individuals

Orbet Reader 20 Drivers Now Available for JAWS Screen Reader

JAWS February Update Simplifies OCR from PDF's, Fixes Numerous Bugs

ZoomText Fusion and the traditional version of ZoomText 11 saw a recent update as well.

NVDA has reached another RC milestone. Which means, by the time we talk about it on the show, the newest update can't be far from being released. Be sure to keep reading the NV Access In Process blog for more details.

BrailleSense Polaris Upgrade Announcement

The latest EnVision America update to the ID Mate Galaxy shaves precious seconds off the unit's boot time. Visit theID Mate change log site to learn more about product support options.

Envision AI adds more features, and even more languages, to keep pace with Microsoft's Seeing AI

APH's Nearby Explorer, as mentioned on episode 133, has released a new version on iOS that is worth a look regardless if you use the free or paid options

Kickstarter of the week, A Japanese company wants to provide OCR using a Raspberry Pie and a pair of Smart Glasses
Learn more about the Oton Glass.

Interview: John Taylor Of IRIE AT And The Smartvision2

There are some out there who just adore pushing buttons. No, not in a mean way. More like they want to have buttons on their phones but they want those phones to still have some modern conveniences. Hear John Taylor speak about one such option with J.J. as they sit outside the ATIA Exhibit Hall on a sunny day in Orlando. To learn more about the Smartvision2, or other phone options from IRIE AT, visit their phone product page

Tip: Dark Mode List

Joe and Shelly have spoken about how great the Smart Invert functions of iOS 11 are getting as more and more developers are starting to rollout support for the feature. Dark Mode, which isn't really tied to any platform or OS, offers the same appearance of Smart Invert and it too has seen greater adoption with services like YouTube and Twitter now offering it under their settings sections. Dark Mode List is a site whose mission is to try and create a database of various services that offer Dark Mode options. It isn't platform specific either So take a look the next time you want to peruse an app without that glare intensive black text on white background distracting you.

Sound Off:

Santiago wrote us twice about Apple.

"Hi guys,
This is Santiago from California. Great job on the podcast by the way. I always tune in when a new show is released. Regarding Joe's prediction of Apple in 2018, I had a bit of a question. I mainly use Apple products for school and leisure. These include multiple Macs, an iPhone, an Apple Watch, an Apple TV, and AirPods, Obviously I have invested quite a bit of resources in to these products; however, given Apple's recent performance on the stock market, based on recent controversial actions by the company, not to mention sales of iPhones, should I start looking in to replacing at the very least some of my Apple products with those who have more of a stable future? I'm really big in to tech, so I've used Windows and Android devices before. Android would be a difficult switch for me, as I use braille screen input on iOS almost 100 percent of the time, and I don't know of a comparable feature on Android as of now. Thanks guys and keep up the good work!

And again ...

"Hi guys,
It's Santiago again. I did forget to mention something in my previous email. Quite honestly, I have absolutely no problem with the recent changes at Apple. For instance, I've personally been wanting an iPhone without a home button for years. I always thought this would result in less mechanical breakdowns when it comes to not having a home button. Not to mention, the lack of a large bezel on the iPhone X has made typing using braille screen input more accurate for me, since my fingers can be near the edges of the phone as well. As for the throttling dilemma, I will personally leave this on even when iOS 11.3 is released, but I do feel like Apple should have given users the option. It's typical of Apple to make under the hood performance changes to their products though, so that's nothing new. The only reason I ask about trying other products is the fact that I am worried about Apple's future as a company. For all I know, I might be a minority when it comes to approving of Apple's recent moves.

We've had several emails, tweets and messages about this over the last month or so. BrailleBack quality, and screen input in particular, has come under scrutiny as the likes of Amazon and the Android Braille Notetakers have started to roll their own when it comes to these types of features. We hope that changes in android Oreo at some point. Moreover, we'll continue to ask Google about the status of things as we see them throughout the year at various conventions. Here's hoping that we will have an update about this soon.

Mike Kilburn writes in with a Video magnification question;

"hi really enjoy your podcast. bunch of informatio that I ve found helpful.
has anyone solved the problem with regard to glare using video magnifiers and seeing LCD displays. are you aware of any products available that would resolve this problem.

Here is a bit of joe's email response to Mike...

"Sadly the matt finish is something that is rarely seen anymore in the off the shelf technology that most video magnifiers use for their monitors. Its felt by Sony, and other display makers, that the glossy finish shows off color better. You can minimize it some by using a Monitor Hood, using a Monitor Arm to extend out your screen or for some they use an anti glare filter that they can tape over the LCD. None of those solutions are perfect ones and some are downright ugly. You can play with the lighting in your area and try and place it off to the side or use a torch lamp that shines light up towards the sealing."

Every eye is unique. That means someone will have to experiment with their lighting and positioning a bit to find out what works best. It is also a good low cost solution and some people find that moving their monitor fixes a whole slew of issues. Next, Orko sends along another comment on a previous episode.

"Hi! I wish to apologize for my previous email regarding your comments about the Aira service. It was harsher than I had intended. The only reason I can give for its harshness is because I was upset by what I perceived as a negative view of a service I value greatly. Like Joe, the devil that took my vision was glaucoma, only I didn't suffer the loss of peripheral vision and a narrowing field of view as is most commonly described as the symptoms of glaucoma. Instead a slowly building fog over my vision was what I saw and it eventually masked out almost everything leaving me with only very limited light perception. This began in 2010, I was declared legally blind in 2012, and started using a white cane in 2013, at that time I was told I only had about 1% of my optic nerves left and that I would eventually go completely blind. So I'm still rather new to blindness and still learning to cope with it. My biggest problem and frustration has been situations where a sighted assistant is really needed. The problem and frustration came from not being able to find a satisfactory solution. I've tried Be My Eyes, but half the time, when I'd be connected to an assistant, the connection would be immediately dropped. Most of the time, even after numerous attempts, the app would time out with no connection to anyone at all. Only ocasionally did I get a usable connection to an assistant. And then there is the problem of the assistants themselves, while I applaud what they are doing, at the end of the day, they are still untrained volunteers with no apparents contracts or agreements in place to protect any information they might learn about you, so I kept my use of it to only those situations that I'd be comfortable talking to a complete stranger on a crowded bus with. Be specular wasn't that much better, and it was limited to those situations where a single photo and the answer to a single question was all that was needed. It too I kept to stranger on a crowded bus situations for the same reasons I limited my use of Be My Eyes. My family is, unfortunately, so broken that family members close enough to be of use are either not available or unwilling to help. Those family members willing to help are more than an hour away, so not really readily available. Then I discovered Aira and signed up in the hopes that it would be the answer I was looking for. While I agree that they could do a better job of defining what they will ultimately do with information about me that they gain from my use of the service, at least the assistants you connect to are trained professionals under a non disclosure agreement intended to protect my information. Maybe not the best solution, but definetly better than nothing, which is pretty much what you get with Be My Eyes and Be Specular. So far my experiences with the service have all been positive. I no longer worry about situations that need a sighted assistant because I now have one, and I don't hesitate to use it when the need arises. The only two cons to the service I can think of are that it isn't available 24 hours a day, but since neither am I, I can live with that. And that to use the glasses involves quite a few separate parts, so I only use them when I absolutely need to be able to use the service hands free. Otherwise, I just use my iPhone's camera. And no, despite what I said about subscribing to the podcast, I am not going anywhere and will continue to listen to it. Of all the accessibility podcasts out there, yours seems to be the only one that doesn't bow down and pay homage to the Apple god. While I do use an iPhone, I am by no means an Apple fanboy, and want to hear about all the other assistive technology available regardless of who makes it. Thanks for a great podcast and best regards."

No need to apologize and we are glad you stayed with us rather than unsubscribing. We at the BBQ are known for being outspoken. And sometimes that means we get a bit of push back when we talk about matters that strike some to the core. Still, we think it is important to talk about things beyond the press release and that can touch on some uncomfortable and emotional subjects. We also freely admit that we can be wrong about various subjects. This portion of the program was designed to highlight that very thing when people who have more knowledge about a thing speak up to tell us we were a little off base. The same goes for when our listeners have strong opinions that are more rooted in the general use of a product or service over the viewpoint of how it appears to us in the overall A.T. Industry. Don't hesitate to let us know your thoughts regardless if they disagree with ours. There is room on the BBQ for all sides in any debate!

Finally, some tweets:

CarrotTop1023: Hi there, I just want to let you guys know, I've subscribed to your podcast via my Victor Reader Stream. I'm enjoying these episodes, keep up the good work!
h_bosch1: That was an awesome tip for Pixel 2 on BBQ 134.

Also a shoutout to @DiannaMuircast for her audio clip of an interesting flight simulation.

Last Word:

A YouTube clip and something about food? Just another typical week for the last block of the show really.
QT Star Trek
Your next flight might just introduce you to Rip Van Waffles

All bets are off for next week's show. That is because we expect some out there will start to trickle their product release news prior to CSUN 2018. Tune in to hear the delight, panic and eventual acceptance from the team that we only have two more shows to go before our new year of convention coverage begins.

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File size: 70.1MB
Length: 56:39

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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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