Podcast Transcript: Mosen At Large episode 131, A detailed look at the forthcoming iOS 15 focus options, when social services says being blind means you cant be a parent and more

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Jonathan: I’m Jonathan Mosen and this is Mosen At Large, the show that’s got the
blind community talking. Coming up on the show today, your thoughts on what Apple
unveiled at WWDC. iOS 15 will try to keep you focused, and when they want to take
your kids away just because you’re blind.
Theme music: Mosen At Large Podcast.
Jonathan: Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference has now concluded and
there’s quite a bit more to say since we produced the recap, right after the keynote.
Apple has announced the winners of its Design Awards for 2021. These are
prestigious, they are highly sought after by developers because if you win one of
these awards, you get a lot of attention. Let’s go through three that I picked out that I
think are worthy of note. Warm congratulations to Voice Dream Reader.
This is one of those essential apps for blind iPhone users. Winston Chen, its
developer, has done such a good job with this app, developing it consistently over
time, with many of the new features implemented as a result of user feedback. Voice
Dream Reader is incredibly powerful and I love using it to compile a daily newspaper
of articles from my RSS feeds, which I listen to by adding them to Instapaper and
then reading them in Voice Dream.
CARROT Weather is also a category winner, this time in the interaction category.
CARROT Weather is one of the best weather apps there is. It’s available for your
iPhone, Mac, Apple Watch, and even Apple TV. It presents detailed weather
information from multiple sources, with a good dollop of snark thrown in, and
accessibility is very good, great app. Finally, Be My Eyes is a winner in the social
impact category and this is epic news. I remember seeing Hans, the blind guy who
came up with the idea of Be My Eyes, consulting with a bunch of blind people on an
iPhone-related email list about his idea.
He got a lot of negative feedback about it. Basically, people said, “Don’t bother.” Yet
his app has made a huge difference to many blind people. It just goes to show when
you believe in something enough, you have to trust your instincts, go with your gut,
follow your dream and get it done. Well done to Hans and the Be My Eyes team and
keep up the great work. Depending on your perspective, the bold, the brave, or the
stupid, have installed iOS 15 developer Beta 1 which was released right after the
keynote. In fact, even before we concluded our keynote recap, we had blind people
getting in touch saying that they had installed it.
Not massive changes for VoiceOver this year and as many people have said, “I’m
relaxed about that as long as bugs are fixed.” Sadly, some of the irritants that I have
been hoping to see fixed have not been yet but we are at the beginning of the cycle.
In particular, it is still echoing the word space even when your keyboard echo is not
set to character every time you flick right in Braille screen input to enter a space.
That one really does slow you down hearing the word space every time you enter a
new word.
There are no changes of the stage in the way that the mantis is performing with a
very limited number of keyboard commands available. I understand that Braille is no
better on Perkins-style keyboards as well, all will become clearer over time, of
course. I’d like to show you one particular feature today that isn’t necessarily
accessibility-related, but it has come up on this podcast as being on people’s wish
list. This one looks fairly feature complete. My thanks and congratulations to Apple
for doing this.
This relates to the focus system that they talked about in the WWDC Keynote. I’ve
been using iOS 15 for only a few days and already it has improved the way that I
work and the way that I deal with notifications. Let’s take a look at how this works.
I’m going to ask Siri to open Settings. This gives me an opportunity to mention that
when you have Siri on your device, it’s really fast for on device-related tasks.
That said, in New Zealand, we are not supposed to have this feature. If you set your
language to English, New Zealand as your input language for Siri. In other words,
the kind of voice that Siri wants to recognize, you will be out of luck. For my New
Zealand friends, you have a number of choices. You can switch your language to
English-Australia, English-US, or English-UK and see how Siri gets on recognizing
I guess I’m fairly lucky that my voice is relatively neutral. It doesn’t have a hugely
strong New Zealand accent and I found just switching it to English US really doesn’t
seem to have impeded the recognition of what I’m saying at all. Dig how fast this
works. Open Settings.
OS: Settings.
Jonathan: Dude, fast isn’t it? I haven’t gotten used to it yet. I’m sure I will get used to
it but every time this happens, I think, wow, this is such a big improvement. Then you
can flick through your settings or you can just tap on the screen if you know where it
is to find focus button. This is the interface to set up the focus system. If you weren’t
following along with the WWDC Keynote and its related coverage, you may not be
clear about what the focus system does. As we explore this, it will become clear so
I’ll double-tap.
OS: Do Not Disturb button.
Jonathan: I’m in Do Not Disturb at the moment, which is just one of several focus
options that you can set up because I’m recording and I don’t want to be disturbed by
With previous versions of iOS, you could either be in Do Not Disturb mode or not.
You could go into notifications and decide which notifications were sent to you but it
was all a bit convoluted. I had my Do Not Disturb set up so that calls from my
favorites would go through to me even when I was in Do Not Disturb. In my phone
favorites, I would have family members and people that really did need to get hold of
me. The trouble with that is that there are times when you genuinely just can’t be
disturbed at all.
For example, I might be in a meeting and one of my kids might just be calling me to
ask something that isn’t urgent, but they don’t know that and so they call and the
phone goes off. It’s not a big deal. Obviously, I would put my phone into silent mode
whenever I was in such a meeting. At times, you just don’t want to be bothered at all.
Of course, if you did get a call from somebody when you were reading something
from your Braille display, say notes for a presentation or something like that, then the
focus would be taken away and it would all be a bit of a drama even if your phone
was set to silent.
Now when I put my phone in Do Not Disturb, it genuinely means I can’t be disturbed
by anyone. This is my highest level of unavailability without turning the phone
completely off. It means that I have all my phone functions, but no notifications and
no calls are going to get through to me now in Do Not Disturb. If I flick right, we’ll
have a look at other focus options. OS: Sleep button.
Jonathan: When I’m asleep, if my kids are calling me in the middle of the night or
other family members, then something seriously is wrong so I do want to be
disturbed by them when I am in sleep mode. I’ve configured my sleep options this
way. Let’s have a look at what’s here. I’ll double-tap.
OS: Allow notifications, heading.
Jonathan: The first thing you need to decide is what notifications are allowed
through when you’re in this mode. I’ll flick to the right.
OS: People button.
Jonathan: If you double-tap this option, you’ll be in your contacts list and you will be
able to determine which people are allowed, if any, to break through your focus and
get through to you. This appears to apply to calls and text messages. If you have
contact groups set up, you can also specify a contact group. I’ll flick right.
OS: Apps button.
Jonathan: Similarly, which apps are allowed to break through your particular focus
that you’re setting up here? If I double-tap.
OS: People button. One of two selected. Apps button, two of two.
Jonathan: You get into the same screen actually whether you choose people or
apps, and there are two views and the apps view is now selected. When I flick right.
OS: Apps in the allowed list can send you notifications during sleep. Allowed apps,
remove all zero button, add app button.
Jonathan: I’ll double-tap the Add app button.
OS: Apps, heading.
Jonathan: And flick right.
OS: Done button. Search. Search field. Hash symbol button. Cap A button. Cap B
Jonathan: We’ve got this index of apps here. If I navigate by heading.
OS: Hash symbol, heading.
Jonathan: We’re in the number sign heading and I’ll flick right.
OS: 1 News.
Jonathan: That’s a news app from New Zealand. If I were to double-tap this, then it
would be allowed to send me notifications through this focus. I don’t want any apps
sending me notifications when I’m asleep. To get out of here we tap the-
Done button.
Jonathan: -which I’ll do now.
OS: Sleep back button.
Jonathan: I will indeed activate the Back button with a two-finger scrub. The next
thing that you can determine is whether you have time-sensitive notifications coming
through in this focus.
OS: Time-sensitive notifications. Switched button off.
Jonathan: I don’t believe that you as the user can define what a time-sensitive
notification is but developers I think will be able to. You do have some control
though. When a time-sensitive notification comes through from an app for the first
time, you’re asked if you want to keep receiving them as time-sensitive notifications.
For example, I use the calendar extensively. I also use the reminders app
The first time I received notifications from those apps in iOS 15, I was asked if I want
to keep receiving them as time-sensitive notifications, and I said, “Yes.” Now that
means that if I turn this feature on in one of my focus modes, then I will receive those
notifications even when that focus mode is on.
If you want to sit down and do some serious writing or perhaps you’re reading a book
and you don’t want to be bothered by breaking news notifications and Clubhouse
and social media of all kinds, but you do want time-sensitive notifications, turn this
on, you’ll be bothered far less, but you won’t be completely excluded from things that
might require your immediate attention.
When you’re in sleep mode, you want to sleep, that’s why by default the time-
sensitive notifications are off. Indeed, the operating system provides a wee
explanation of this feature.
OS: Allow people and apps to notify you immediately, even when you have focus
turned on.
Jonathan: I’ll flick right.
OS: Share focus status, switch button on.
Jonathan: What does this do? Let’s ask the operating system by flicking right again.
OS: When this is on, tell apps you have notifications silenced and allow people to
notify you anyway if something is important.
Jonathan: You may choose to switch this off when you’re sleeping, you just don’t
want to be bothered, but if you have family members who are dependent on you for
some reason, or you really are in a mission critical role where somebody might need
to wake you up for a really good reason, you might want to leave this on.
OS: Customization, heading.
Jonathan: Now we’re in the customization section.
OS: Home screen button.
Jonathan: Let’s have a look at what this does. I’ll double-tap.
OS: Sleep, back button
Jonathan: And flick right.
OS: Home screen, heading. Custom pages, switch button off.
Jonathan: What does this do? It tells us here too.
OS: Choose specific home screen pages to show when the focus is turned on.
Jonathan: This could potentially make you rethink the way that you organize your
apps. If you’re a neat freak like me and you have many, many hundreds of apps, as I
do, you may well have got all your apps organized into lovely folders. Sometimes
people look at my home screen and they say, “Wow, you got such an orderly iPhone
screen.” To be honest, it doesn’t really matter so much anymore because of Braille
screen input, which I use a lot of the time to launch apps, and of course, now that Siri
is so much more reliable for these sorts of functions on device, Siri is a bit more
viable than it used to be.
Now you can set up individual home screens that might pertain to a particular focus.
This is really designed to stop you from being distracted. Let’s say, for example, that
you set up a page on your home screen that has all of your work-related apps. Right
now, I have a folder called Productivity, and that served me well under the old
system, but if I want, I could move those productivity apps, which are usually work-
related onto a page called Work.
If I set my focus to Work, I could do things like get rid of all of the social media
notifications that aren’t of interest to me, perhaps have one or two breaking news
apps come through that allow me to stay in touch with really important things that are
developing, and only have the page for my work-related apps visible. Like the feature
says, it really allows you to focus.
The reverse is also true, though. In this era of push notifications and always-on
devices, it can sometimes be difficult to let go and recharge, and that is so important
for all of us. You can set up a home focus when none of your work apps are visible.
You can stop notifications from Teams or Slack or whatever tool your workplace
uses. You can make those work-related apps disappear entirely while you’re in your
home focus. We’ll go back.
OS: Allow notifications, heading.
Jonathan: The next option on this screen is-
OS: Options button.
Jonathan: I’ll double-tap it.
OS: Notifications, heading.
Jonathan: And flick right.
OS: Delay delivery, switch button on.
Jonathan: What does this do?
OS: Notifications you receive that are not in your allowed list will be delivered directly
to a notification center until the focus is turned off.
Jonathan: This just makes it a bit less tempting to look at things that you may not
want to look at.
OS: Hide notification badges, switch button off.
Jonathan: You know how you flick through your home screen and you see, for
example, Castro, 89 new items, if you subscribe to a lot of podcasts. If that kind of a
badge that shows you that you’ve got a number of unread messages and Slack or
Teams or any of those applications or Facebook posts, if they are going to distract
you, when you’re not receiving notifications from those apps, but you can see the
badge on the home screen and know there is stuff in there that might tempt you,
then you can turn this feature on so you won’t see the badges. Those are the only
options available at the moment, so we’ll go back.
OS: Time-sensitive notifications, switch button off.
Jonathan: We’ve reached the next heading on the screen.
OS: Schedule and health, heading.
Jonathan: These options seem to be specific to the sleep focus because they relate
to things like bedtime and your wake-up alarm, but if you’re configuring a focus that
is not sleep-related, there are options pertaining to when this focus triggers. It could
be at a particular time of day, it may be based on your location or a number of other
criteria. It’s very flexible. I’m going to go back to the previous screen, which will take
us back to our list of focuses.
OS: Sleep button.
Jonathan: I tried to avoid saying focuses because I think the plural is actually foci,
but it sounds ridiculous saying that. I’ll flick right.
OS: Personal, set up button.
Jonathan: We have the Personal option which I have not set up at this point.
OS: Work, set up button.
Jonathan: Similarly, the Work option.
OS: Focus silences alerts and notifications. Share across devices, on.
Jonathan: This is really cool. If you have another device in Apple land, you will be
able to share these focuses on your other devices.
OS: When a focus is on it will be turned on across all devices. Focus status button.
Jonathan: If you double-tap this button, you will see all of the apps that can access
your focus status. When I go in there at the moment, at this early stage of the cycle,
Messages is the only app that can see my focus status. If somebody else is using
iOS 15 and they message me when I’m in my sleep mode, it will let them know. If we
flick right-
OS: Phone calls button.
Jonathan: This is the same user interface that was present in the old Do Not Disturb
options. You can choose to let all phone calls through, you can have phone calls
only from favorites or no phone calls at all. I have chosen the “no phone calls at all”
option because I can let specific contacts call me through the other settings that
we’ve looked at.
You can create your own focus settings from scratch. If you want to create one, for
example, that relates to reading books, and you want to be very clear about the only
people who can bother you, the only apps that can interrupt you, you can do this
now. This is a feature that I think many of us can really use. It adds a lot of value to
the device and well done to Apple for its implementation. That is a look at iOS 15
focus options. Now, of course, we can do this really quickly. Turn off Do Not Disturb.
Siri: Okay, Do Not Disturb is now off.
Theme music: Mosen at Large Podcast.
Jonathan: James Muirhead is writing in and says, “Good morning, Jonathan, this
time from a much sunnier and warmer London. Having listened to a couple of your
podcasts, I know that you were quite excited about the prospect of a glucose monitor
appearing in the new version of Apple Watch. While this may be of some value, it is
important to know that blood glucose, though important, is completely outranked by
blood insulin.
Strong evidence is appearing which links high insulin, hypoglycemia and insulin
resistance to many chronic metabolic diseases. It is quite likely that a “normal
glucose level” is being maintained by a madly over-revving pancreas, which is
striving to keep glucose acceptably low.
For example, if a routine visit to your doctor shows that your blood pressure is high,
then it is likely that you will be prescribed pills from one of four groups, ACE
inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, or diuretics. Your doctor has no
idea which of those will work. If on follow-up your BP is still high, then she will
probably add in pills from another group. She may have tested your hemoglobin
A13C or glucose, and they are within normal limits. However, there are five possible
reasons why high insulin can be the root cause of the raised blood pressure. Your
doctor will have no idea of your insulin level as insulin measuring is not part of the
standard blood panel examination.
I know that you are always keen to learn, Jonathan, and I strongly recommend
reading Why We Get Sick by Professor Ben Bikman. That’s spelled B-I-K-M-A-N.
This is a book aimed at the public and it systematically links raised insulin levels to
many of the chronic conditions which beset people eating a Western diet. Western
diet means consuming a large amount of processed food.
An even harder-hitting book is Metabolical by Professor Robert H. Lustig, spelled L-
U-S-T-I-G. Again, this is aimed at the public but should be compulsory for all in the
medical profession. He swings some mighty punches at his own profession, at food
manufacturers, and the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Richard Knobbe, that’s K-N-O-
B-B-E, an ophthalmologist from the United States does a very persuasive 45 minute
YouTube video on the iniquities of vegetable/seed oils with particular relevance to
age-related macular degeneration.
His points are well-argued and strongly suggest that the condition is neither age-
related nor genetic. Yes, I know that 20% of the above information will be shown to
be faulty in five to 10 years, but that still leaves a great deal to ponder in the
meantime. I have no wish to denigrate doctors, but it should be remembered that
they receive the merest tangible brush with the study of nutrition in their lengthy
We the public are going to have to expect far higher standards of knowledge of food
science and nutrition as the pushier we get, the more our general practitioners are
going to have to learn. Regrettably, being referred to dieticians is not the answer
either, as you will appreciate from reading these books. Thank you for all your hard
work, and you’re very clear podcasts.” Concludes, James.
Thank you, James. Not sure how long you’ve been listening to the show, but I’m right
on board with you. In fact, I have already read Metabolical, and I’ve read authors like
Gary Taubes and Mark Hyman and have talked about them on the special program
that we did on low carb/ketogenic eating. It absolutely astounds me that as we’ve
increasingly consumed processed food and low-fat foods, the world has become
sicker, and yet certain elements of the medical profession double down and
essentially blame the patients when the advice the patients are being given is faulty,
and the food we are being marketed is damaging. It’s a really unfortunate situation
we find ourselves in. A lot of it is perpetuated by very big companies with very big
pockets, to market their wares, and also to advocate to government for no change
despite the emerging science.
Yes, Metabolical is good. I will read the other book that you mentioned, as well. Mark
Hyman spelled H-Y-M-A-N, who has had a bit of a road to Damascus experience
over all of this. He realized that the advice he was giving to his patients wasn’t
working. They were getting sicker. He got into this area of what he calls functional
medicine, where he believes that food is medicine, and if it’s not medicine, it’s
poison. I think that’s a great way to view things. Whenever I think about putting
something in my mouth, I asked myself that question, is it medicine, or is it poison?
It’s amazing how easy it is then to just not eat something if you know that you’re
poisoning your system with sugary foods.
Anyway, he has a new book out as well, which I have not read yet called The Pegan
Diet, P-E-G-A-N, so it’ll be interesting to catch up with that book at some stage.
Regarding your point about the Apple Watch, and WWDC, I think the reality is that
we are not going to convince people who are willing to take for conventional medical
advice out there that they should investigate this way of living, despite the fact that
there are increasing credible reports of people whose diabetes have been
completely eliminated by going ketogenic.
It’s a remarkable thing, but people just aren’t willing to go there. I suppose you have
to meet people where they are while also advocating for further substantive changes.
If somebody is needing to measure their glucose level, I think it will be a really big
accessibility when, if a glucometer comes to the Apple Watch, so I guess I’m being a
bit pragmatic about that.
Christopher Wright says, “The only things that stand out to me from WWDC were the
FaceTime features and SharePlay. It’s great, we can finally disable echo cancellation
and noise suppression during calls, which should make them sound more
significantly better. I also like the ability to share links, this should open the platform
up to potentially anything running a Chromium browser. SharePlay is also very
interesting. It sounds like it will send the audio in its original quality to everyone in the
call, which is better than Zoom’s implementation, which I found highly irritating
because it uses noise suppression aggressively, and there’s no way to disable it
even if you enable original sound. Hopefully, it will be in stereo as well.
I’m curious to try this with apps like Voice Dream Reader if the developer chooses to
add the feature. The only feature that seems to be limited to devices with the A12
processor is the spatial audio for voices, which I don’t really care about when talking
to people. I’m also interested in the other intelligence features, such as the ability to
extract pieces of information from images, but I’ll have to wait until I get new
hardware for that as well. I would have sprung for the 2020 iPhone SE but since my
6s is still supported, I’ll hold off until the SE is refreshed. I think it’s excellent value for
the money and the omission of the UWB chip doesn’t really bother me.
As always, VoiceOver features are of particular interest, but we’ll have to wait since
Apple doesn’t talk about those in great detail. I’m glad iOS 15 hasn’t dropped support
for older devices. My 6s will serve me well for another year. Sadly, my 2013
MacBook Air is no longer supported, and I have no plans to get a new model.
Hopefully, it will continue to run Windows 10 like a champ for many years to come.
I’m curious what Apple has done in Monterrey for VoiceOver users, although I’m not
holding my breath. Apple’s track record with VoiceOver on the Mac has been
horrible, and it’s a shame, especially with these new M1 Macs, which sound
awesome from a technical standpoint. I’m disappointed that macOS seems to be the
only thing that can run natively on them right now, which means you’re stuck if you
get one of them and realize you can’t deal with Voiceover’s shortcomings. The Intel
MAX rock. If it weren’t for the ability to run Windows, I would have gotten rid of mine
a couple of years ago, which would have been very sad.”
“Hi, Jonathan,” writes Darren MacDougall. “Thanks for the great rundown of the
WWDC Keynote the other day. I’m quite excited about iOS 15, and will be testing the
public beta on secondary devices when it comes out. I’ve read that iOS 15 restores
some iteration of the iOS 13 time and date picker wheels, which alone makes the
upgrade worth it. I’ve also read word of some sort of drag and drop feature for
copying and pasting photos or text from one app to another, so it will be interesting
to see how VoiceOver works with that.
From what I heard on your podcast about the new way of multitasking on iPad, it
seems like it may be something I’m a little more likely to use. I learned how to
multitask with VoiceOver in iPad iOS 13 but honestly have forgotten since I never
found the feature overly convenient. I’m also eager to test out the changes to the
weather app, and the offline Siri. In a final thought, it sometimes happens that I’m
carrying my work iPhone with me after hours, and so the new focus setting will make
sure Teams’ notifications and work emails don’t show up in the evening. I look
forward to giving all of this a try.”
Thanks, Darren, he has one more question I will come back to in just a moment. Just
to say, I also hope that this will encourage more workplaces to allow people to use
their own devices with eSIMs. If you can have your home phone number on a
physical SIM and your work phone number on an eSIM or vice versa, then you can
have everything on one device and just have the apps that are appropriate to the
task that you’re doing come up based on focus. This is much better than carrying a
second device that you have to charge and potentially could lose.
Darren says, “Do we know when or if Apple Music lossless will come to Sonos.
Thanks for the great podcast.” Darren at the time of recording, I have not been able
to find a definitive answer to this question, and I’ve been looking for it since Apple
Music made the lossless announcement. What you can do, which is quite impressive
is if you have a Sonos Arc Soundbar, the one that supports Dolby Atmos, and if you
have an Apple TV, and if that Apple TV is connected to a TV that is capable of the
Dolby Atmos that Apple is sending, in other words, you’re getting Dolby Atmos to the
Arc, then you can as long as you’re running tvOS 14.6, use the music app on the
Apple TV to get not just lossless but also Dolby Atmos music as well.
Now I have heard people expressing mixed feelings about the whole spatial audio
thing, and I would be interested in what people think of it. If you’ve tried spatial audio
this week because it’s been widely released now, what do you think, is it the next
generation of music listening or do you feel like it’s a bit of a gimmick? The negative
feedback that I’m seeing seems to be coming from people who are listening with
If you listen to the full Dolby Atmos experience on a Sonos Arc or some sort of other
Dolby Atmos capable system that’s even better than the Arc that has separate
speakers all over the place, the Dolby Atmos experience is just wonderful. Bonnie
and I spent a lovely evening yesterday, listening to some of the Dolby Atmos
content. They’ve got some playlists there. They also are showcasing the 2019 Dolby
Atmos mix of Abbey Road. It was just amazing.
The best thing that I’ve heard on Dolby Atmos actually using this method was Grover
Washington Jr.’s Just the Two of Us. I love that song and of course, it’s got Bill
Withers doing the vocals. Man, the Dolby Atmos mix they’ve made of this is just
tremendous. If you can do that with the Sonos, then that would be one way of
experiencing some of the new things that Apple Music has to offer. What we really
want, what we really really want is just the ability to stream that high-resolution
I’m hopeful that it will happen. If it doesn’t happen, it’ll be because of some business
decision on either Apple’s or Sonos’s part because Sonos does play the lossless
codec that Apple Music is using. To the best of my knowledge, there’s no technical
reason why we are not going to have lossless on Sonos .
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Jonathan: This email, it’s a hard one for me to read. It’s from Jesse Tregarthen and
he says, “Hello, Jonathan and all. Thank you for the great podcast. I look forward to
the notification every week that a new episode has been posted. I wanted to
comment on the discussion about how we’re sometimes treated by the medical
profession. In 2016, I became a father to a beautiful boy named Obsidian. He was
born 10 weeks early due to some complications and had to spend time in the
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU.
This was a very difficult time for my partner and me. Lots of time spent dodging wires
and tubes and getting to know what all the beeps and alarms meant. Quite a lot of
the experiences we had were pleasant. Most of the nurses were amazing. I’ll always
have a special place in my heart for the NICU and the doctors and nurses who
helped my little fighter through his first big hurdle. Unfortunately, some of the
experiences we had were very disheartening and added a lot of stress to two scared
young parents.
Some of the experiences included somebody asking if there was somebody coming
to take care of me when we were checking in for a procedure my partner was
required to have because of pregnancy complications. I also had to complain to the
charge nurse after the nurse assigned to my son refused to let me help bathe or
bottle feed my son because she said these jobs were too visual. After that,
somebody contacted child services who opened a case against us. The basis of the
whole thing turned out to be that they didn’t believe I could be left alone with our son.
I finally contacted the CNIB to get some advice on how to handle this. I was told to
tell them that the CNIB would be willing to advocate on my behalf, and would help
me take it to court if it came to that. As soon as I told them this, they dropped the
case, but not before telling us we should be thankful they found us to be fit parents
and decided to close the case. I should have pursued this further but as a new
parent, I was just glad they were leaving me alone.
I was also asked not to bring Obsidian to his pediatric appointments because I took
up too much of the doctor’s time, even though I could undress and dress him in less
time than I was allotted to do so. Despite all this, Obsidian is now four years old and
is a brilliant ball of energy was no signs of his premature birth.” Now there is more on
a different topic from Jesse but I’m just going to stop and say this really– I cannot
articulate the emotions that an email like this makes me feel. It breaks my heart and
it also makes me so angry.
This is my worst nightmare. When Amanda who was sighted and I were bringing our
children into the world, we picked the medical staff very carefully and we gave them
a briefing. We made sure that they understood that I was going to be a full partner in
the birthing process. We did a lot of education to avoid it because I really was very
scared of this happening. Like you Jesse, our little Heidi when she was born, she
was in neonatal for a while because she had hyperglycemia and it is a very scary
time. It’s supposed to be such a happy occasion.
You know when the birth happens, it’s just so wonderful, this miraculous thing. Then
your little bundle of joy, all the things you’ve hoped for, has finally arrived and they’re
connected to tubes and wired up and there’s all this uncertainty. It’s deeply stressful.
Then to have this crap on top of it, I just can’t tell you how sorry I am that you went
through that and it shouldn’t happen. I know it does. I have heard through American
organizations, especially about advocacy endeavors, because children have been
confiscated from their perfectly capable blind parents, just because of ignorance and
bigotry and no one being willing to listen. It is so frightening.
I’m glad you got it sorted out relatively easily, even though it would have been
stressful and your wee boy sounds amazing. Look after those times they go quickly.
Jesse continues on a lighter note, “I wanted to respond to a question from a couple
of weeks ago regarding the Amazon Fire tablets. I own the latest release of the
seven-inch model. It can be slow, and the battery isn’t great but that’s to be expected
from a tablet at that price. I’m very impressed with the VoiceView screen reader.
I feel like it’s the best of both worlds between TalkBack and VoiceOver. I feel like
they identified some of the holes in TalkBack and filled them with parts of VoiceOver.
I enjoy having the magic tap to play and stop music. It makes a great tablet for
children and I pay for the Amazon Kids+ subscription, which provides lots of books,
games, and shows tailored to my son’s age and interests. I also use it to occasionally
browse Facebook, or listen to stations on the SiriusXM app.”
Our next contribution has asked to remain anonymous but says that they are in the
UK. “I have had a range of experiences with healthcare from a blindness
perspective. The first challenge can be access to information. In the UK, we do have
an accessible information standard, which means medical information should be
provided in a format of your choice. In practice, there are often problems getting this.
This can lead to some strange needs to use workarounds, such as seeing AI as you
experienced with your jab.
Anyone seeing this trick seems amazed at its capabilities and fortunately, I have had
people show interest rather than laugh. However, I had an appointment with a
consultant who was very dismissive about the need to have accessible letters when
a nurse raised it and assumed that I would have a carer at home. This takes me on
to my second point about medics’ understanding of disability and the lives we can
lead. For example, when the potential impacts on fertility of a surgery were
discussed, the consultant said that this is not an issue for disabled people.
To be fair, the nurse of the appointment was shocked and spoke to me afterwards
but I did not opt to have treatment with this provider. I think that part of the lack of
understanding that blind people may hold down jobs, travel, and have families is
because we ask medics to certify visual impairment when any sensible person
should be able to use a registered blind certificate, a form we have in the UK where
a medic has certified level of sight to say for example, that a blind person cannot
drive. Yet we insist on asking a GP to certify. My concern is that this can impact
For example, after time off due to a bereavement, I was sent to my work doctor.
They only focused on my blindness, leaving me frustrated that the actual issue was
not addressed. Another time when I was really struggling due to negative treatments
due to my blindness and work, the same failure to make adjustments. The same
doctor argued that I needed therapy to adjust to not having the right adjustments
when a working version of JAWS and some scripts, which the government will fund,
will enable a person to be a productive contributing member to the workforce offering
medical treatment to fix them feels harmful and counterproductive to me.
I wonder how often blindness impacts the treatment we receive. Visual changes e.g
blood in urine or rashes are hard to describe and some things are not something I
want to ask a family member or someone on an app about. I can however use apps
to get assistance with medical problems to good effect e.g I kept my arm cooking
and through a FaceTime with my friend could establish that the cut while bleeding a
lot was fine with a plaster.
Despite our inability to explain visual things well, I feel the biggest problem is
attitudes. There is a lot of research about women and ethnic minorities having worse
health outcomes with pain often under-treated. I feel that there is a general lack of
confidence in a disabled person’s account and this can be worsened by the
intersection of gender, ethnicity, or social class.
Going to in-person appointments after work in a suit felt like it significantly changed
the way the GP spoke to me using longer words and more adult sentence structures.
I wonder what as a community we can do to improve experiences of healthcare for
blind people. My suggestions are as follows. One, share patient stories and voice.
Two, push that legislation affecting disabled people, for example, the UK’s
accessible information standard is followed. Three, give medics the opportunity to
see capable blind people. Too often they’re encountering elderly people who have
lost sight and not had appropriate training.
Four, identify adjustments that can help a personal bugbear of mine, which is that
despite Braille medicine packets in the UK, pharmacists often put the sticker details
over this and I either try and read it through the sticker or peel off and hope not to
destroy my Braille. Five, advocate for what we really need. Too often I have seen
people ask for a family member or carer to stay with them during appointments and
tests as an adjustment.
My belief is that for certain conditions, this may be needed, and some people may
get reassurance through it. If appropriate guidance and descriptions are provided, a
blind person does not need to be cared for and this should not be a presumed right
of exemption for COVID rules. Six, compile a list of practical things that help. For
example, when admitted to a hospital, I ask for the following, people to address me
by name and say who they are and their job function.
My bed, if possible, is close to a toilet, either in a side room or ward location, that
means I don’t need to call for help. People tell me what they are doing and hand me
medicines or touch my hand to where food or drink is. As unwell I find it harder to
pick up if these things have happened.
I appreciate this as long. I think there is a lot more we need to think about on how the
social model of disability can be understood by an audience whose role is in the
medical model.” Well, as you can hear on the show from time to time, there are lots
of disabled people who are not yet on board with the social model of disability, and
particularly if you’ve got medical staff who may have studied some years ago,
perhaps they were just never exposed to training about how to properly work with
disabled people, about expectations.
I think your summary there is absolutely right on. They think of us as medical
problems. They’re focusing on the impairment and not on the social model of
disability. I wonder what goes on in medical schools these days and I may well check
this out actually in the New Zealand context. Is there a module where they talk about
engaging properly, respectfully with disabled people? I did want to pick up on one
thing you said because I think it’s really important. I have noticed this too.
If I’m wearing a suit, I’m far less likely to be patronized. Fortunately for me, it’s
daywear for me in my present job. I will not go to a doctor… unless I’m dragged in
with some major accident, I will not go to a doctor without wearing a suit because it
does make a difference to how you’re treated. It really does. Alison Fallon is back
and she says, “Hello, Jonathan. I had a knee replacement in December of 2019. I
went to a compulsory class before the surgery and wanted to record the class and
was told that was not allowed.
I had the surgery and when it was time to discharge me, I was not permitted to
record the discharge instructions. They told me that someone at home could read
them to me. I said that that option was not acceptable. Ultimately, I was allowed to
record them but only if there was an additional staff member in the room when the
nurse read me the instructions. That policy hasn’t changed.”
Thanks, Alison. Isn’t so much of this the luck of the draw. I guess that’s the case with
any discrimination that we experience. You just sometimes get the luck of the draw
and find somebody who is unreasonable. See, by way of contrast, I woke up a
couple of years ago now, I was pretty new into this current job, which I started in
June 2019. I had such excruciating shoulder pain. It was really bad. I couldn’t even
dress myself. I got sent to this specialist, this sports specialist, actually, and they did
this thing called dry needling, which was instant relief. I walked in there basically
unable to use one of my arms and walked out with complete movement restored. It
was the most miraculous thing.
Anyway, she actually volunteered that she said, “I’m going to give you some
exercises, just to make sure that you completely recover from this, and you should
do these things.” She said, “Why don’t you give me your iPhone, and I’ll record it in
the voice memos app for you. That way, you’ve got the exact instructions.” I said,
‘What a genius idea.” She actually came up with that. You have good and bad
experiences, don’t you?
Theme music: Mosen At Large Podcast.
Jonathan: This email comes from Matt Campbell. “Hi, Jonathan. Here’s a
provocative discussion topic for Mosen At Large in case you need one. Sometimes I
feel like we’re fighting an uphill battle, trying to get software developers to implement
accessibility, especially developers that write their own GUI toolkits.” Narrator’s note,
GUI is spelt G-U-I, and it stands for graphical user interface. Matt continues, “There
are so many GUI toolkits out there and the vast majority of them are completely
inaccessible with a screen reader.
I participate in a couple of discussion sites for programmers. From time to time, I’ll
see a posting about a new or obscure GUI toolkit on one of these sites. Invariably,
when I run the demo app, it’s completely inaccessible. Thankfully, I’m no longer the
only one calling attention to this problem. A common response is that the platform
accessibility APIs like UI automation on windows are hard to implement, especially in
a cross-platform toolkit, or application.
Based on my experience, I have to agree. As you know, iOS 14 introduced screen
recognition which uses machine learning to identify not only the text on the screen
but the structure of the UI. There’s nothing stopping Microsoft, Google, and Amazon
from implementing something like this as well for their respective platforms. This
makes me wonder if the battle to get developers to directly implement accessibility is
now a waste of time. I’ll be sad if, in the future, it takes a cutting-edge processor or a
connection to a cloud service to provide the same level of real-time access to a GUI
that we had on a Pentium in the ’90s.
I also realized that it’s impractical to expect the long tail of developers to go to great
lengths to accommodate us. We may argue that these developers should just use
the platform standard controls, but there are reasons why they don’t and we won’t
change that. I’m thinking of starting an open-source project to make it easier for
developers to make their custom GUI implementations accessible so they don’t have
to implement UI automation and all of the other platform accessibility APIs.
I wonder if VoiceOver’s screen recognition, and the imitators that I’m sure will follow
has made this work irrelevant.” Thanks, Matt. I guess I feel like there’s probably
some middle ground. Interestingly, what you are arguing is what AccessiBe has
been arguing in the context specifically of websites that basically we are losing the
battle in terms of traditional accessibility paradigms and it’s time for something new.
I guess what the community has been saying to AccessiBe, though, is that what
they’re offering is actually an inferior experience to what we had before. I don’t think
we can afford to be too purist about this. We’ve got a high unemployment rate, things
are pretty dire for us, despite all of the technological advances that we’ve had in the
last three decades, especially. If anything can be done to make more jobs available
by making more things accessible, and they actually work, then I think it’s worth
checking out.
It’s a very interesting discussion. I look forward to anyone else who wants to
contribute on this and also to your evolving thinking on this Matt. Cory Ballard is
writing in and says, “Afternoon, Jonathan, I thought I would reach out and ask the
pro a quick question.” No pressure. “I do have a twice-weekly live webinar with a co-
worker and we broadcast using Zoom.
We have a pretty good setup using open broadcast studio for the visual side and use
an A&H ZED-10 FX for our mixer. Where we struggle is that Zoom will only accept
two channels of sound. Most of our sessions would have at least three sound
sources, usually two mikes, and then a computer or smartphone. Is there a good
way to connect a mixer to a computer so that Zoom will accept all of our channels?
Thanks so much for the help.”
Corey, sadly, I’m not going to be much help. I know that the ZED-10 FX is a digital
mixer. I have the Allen & Heath ZED-22 FX and it is an analog mixer. In that case, all
of the channels go out to Zoom. It has no problem to have all of those 22 channels
sending audio to Zoom because what Zoom is receiving is simply a stereo signal. If
there’s a way to simply take the stereo output, that’s coming from all channels and
send it into Zoom even if you have to do that in an analog way. Like if you could
take, say a couple of RCAs going from a line output of the mixer that hears all sound
and send it into an audio interface, then you’d be able to use all the channels.
I think the issue is relating to the fact that the digital signal is only sending a pair of
channels, but because I am not directly familiar with the mixer, I don’t know if there is
a workaround for this. What I would suggest you do is give Allen & Heath a call or
get in touch with them on the email. In the limited number of times I’ve had to contact
them, they have been very helpful.
However, there may well be other blind people out there in the Mosen At Large
community who have this ZED-10 FX mixer from Allen & Heath and could potentially
give you some pointers. Alternatively, there are people with all sorts of mixers and
audio combinations on The Blind Podmaker email list, and it could be worth
subscribing there to see if anyone else can help you. You can drop an email to
creators-subscribe@theblindpodmaker.com. If you want to join that, it’s a really good
list. Lots of interesting audio discussion there, creators-
subscribe@theblindpodmaker.com. If you have an answer for Corey, please let us
know. We will be interested in it.
Maribel wrote in during the Melbourne lockdown and says, “Hi, Jonathan, greetings
from lockdowned Melbourne for seven days at least. I enjoy getting your updates
and noticed you are going to be talking about all things Apple on the next podcast. I
am a PC user and wondered if you have a podcast you can point me to where you
talk about using Windows 10 with JAWS. I have a new computer and just can’t get
started as it is so different to the one I am on now, which runs Windows 7.
I feel like such a tech dinosour when I hear Apple zooming you into a parallel
universe. I think if I could find some podcasts describing how to get JAWS and
Windows 10 working together, I might like to get into the driver’s seat. Right now, I
am limping along on the old system.” Thanks, Maribel. I think your best resource
would be the JAWS training material. If you go to the help menu in JAWS, which is
just the same structure on Windows 10 as it is in Windows 7, and you choose
training, you will find the JAWS basic training, which has been substantially updated
to accommodate Windows 10.
There are many other training resources if you go to freedomscientific.com/training,
and there is now a Freedom Scientific Training Podcast that I recommend you
subscribe to every week because they are dealing with different applications,
different aspects of the operating system. If you are wanting to make the most of
your computer, it is a very informative listen. This is one of the great things about
Freedom Scientific is that they invest a lot in their training and resources. Start with
the basic training, work your way up from there. I wish you all the best with the new
Theme music: Mosen At Large Podcast.
Micheal: Hi, Jonathan. Great to listen to your podcast. You do a great job as usual.
Having heard earlier this year you swapped over to a Dell computer, I just did the
same in the last couple of days. I’ve got the XPS 13 inch top spec. I love it. I find
when I’m trying to plug in my headphones and listen to JAWS or anything like that,
the sound is very spatial. I’m not sure how to turn that off. Even though I went into
Windows and sound and toggled the off spatial sound.
Also, I use a Bluetooth keyboard, a Logitech K780. Even though I’ve downloaded the
software and tip to use the function keys as F1 to F12, it doesn’t seem to want to do
these. Any thoughts on that one? I was using it on an HP laptop before and had no
problem, any help would be appreciated.
Jonathan: I’ll do my best, Micheal. First, congratulations on getting a new precious,
a new shiny. It is always nice to get something new and shiny, but slightly frustrating
when you’ve got just those minor configuration things that aren’t quite working the
way that you want. Let’s deal with these two issues. First, the function keys issue
that’s easily fixed. Press the Fn key with Escape and that toggles function lock. If you
press Fn with Escape, you will get the function keys behaving like normal function
keys. Press Fn with Escape again, it’ll go back to its default state of making the
function keys perform their special Dell-related function.
Of course, when you want to get either of the other states that is not the default, you
hold down the Fn key. The audio in the Dell is really nice, but some of it does have a
detrimental effect on screen reader sound, particularly with headphones. To get
around this, I believe the utility is called a MaxxAudio Pro, but I certainly recall that it
wasn’t accessible and that I needed sighted assistance with Aira to get this fixed.
You have to go in there and make sure that you don’t have any equalization settings
enabled, certainly for headphones. It doesn’t seem to matter so much for speakers,
but for the headphones, it’s good to just get a flat signal coming into your
headphones. You can disable all of those settings in that utility, but it’s not
accessible. Good luck with your new Dell. I really like my XPS 15. Boy, it is fast. It’s
the fastest laptop that I’ve ever had. I use it more as a result.
It’s not as thin and light as some laptops I’ve had in the past, but because this is
such a good performer, it means that I get my audio editing done more quickly
because it’s got lots of horsepower. I don’t feel like it’s slowing me down. It’s a very
fast gorgeous machine. This XPS 15, I’m really happy with it, but I still do not have
an update that Matthew Horspool said he’s got for his XPS 13 where the Home and
End functions are now back on the function with left and right arrow keys. I hope you
get that, Michael, on your XPS 13, because Matthew had an XPS 13. It has not
turned up on my XPS 15 yet.
If anybody has an XPS 15 and they’ve got the Home and End keys working on
function with left and right arrow again after a firmware update, I’d be interested in
hearing about that because I hope vainly so far every time I get a new update that
that’s going to fix it today because that’s the one thing that really annoys me about
this laptop. I guess what makes it tolerable is that a lot of the time I’m using my
Mantis anyway, which has a QWERTY keyboard that I like to use, and I can use the
Home and End keys in that way, bypassing the keyboard on the Dell itself, which is a
lovely keyboard to type on.
This email is from David Zamansky. Good to hear from you, David. I remember our
FS cast interview way back when with fondness, and he says, “Hi, Jonathan, I’m
curious to know if anyone using JAWS has a way to navigate iTunes. I don’t know if
John Martins still tries to make it work with his program. I don’t know how to get to
the left pane where the library and list of artists folders is. I had it and lost it and don’t
know any command to get it back. Any help would be welcome.”
Thank you, David. iTunes has changed a lot and I’m afraid, I’m one of those people
who finds it really bloated and convoluted and just more bother than it’s actually
worth. The only thing that I use iTunes for is to make an encrypted backup of my
iPhone, particularly, at times when we’re playing with early iOS betas. You could try
seeing what’s in the view menu to make sure that what you are wanting is not
hidden. Usually, if six is your friend, if six moves you between major pains in iTunes,
which can sometimes be a major pain. If anybody has any hints on this, any scripts
that they know about, then please share them with us.
John: Hi, Jonathan, it’s John Moore. I just read the latest transcript. I wanted to
chime in a little bit about your comments about recording things. I have to say, I
agree with you 100%. I view making recordings like having cameras. It amazes me
how many people don’t seem to understand that we would love to preserve things
too, and they get hostile if you even mention that you want to record something in
audio, and yet they have video cameras themselves, and they’re always shooting
I think it’s safe to say that I consider it the exact same thing, and it’s the same
concept. I use Olympus recorders and core sound binaural microphones personally,
those have worked out for what I prefer to use and they work perfectly. Those are
what I use, but to each his own.
I just wanted to say that I agree with you 100%, and I think that it’s great how you did
that, you inspired a lot of us with the old Bloggy Bits podcast to start doing it
ourselves, and I still do it. Either when I go to the amusement park next weekend, I’m
going to be making a lot of recordings with binaural microphones, without binaural
microphones and even the Apple watch. I’m going to be making a lot. It’s for that
reason that you were talking about, you want to preserve your memories.
I think that a recorder is the best way to do that. I do understand that sometimes it is
not wise to record and I try to honor people who do not want to be recorded
whenever I can. But I also feel that preserving memories is best done with recording
for me as a blind person. Text fades away and it doesn’t convey the same meaning.
I would love for you to start doing some more binaural recordings again, those were
a lot of fun, especially when you tried to play air hockey on that one podcast, or
when you went on the Slingshot. That’s still one of the funniest live recordings I have
ever heard from anyone. I’m a right enthusiastic, who makes recordings all the time.
Jonathan: Gosh, I had completely forgotten about the Bloggy Bits podcasts, to be
honest, John, that is going way back. I think that was one of the first podcasts I did in
around 2004, and we did keep that going for a while. It’s nice that you remember that
far back with so much fondness.
You are so right, that text doesn’t have the same meaning. As I mentioned in the
episode when we discussed this, I’m so glad that I have all of these recordings of my
children, but something really interesting happened. When I was going through those
recordings for David’s 21st and putting a montage together I found a recording of my
dad, who was on a recording with David and I don’t have a lot of audio of my dad
and he died four years ago and I really regret not having more audio of him.
That was actually the first time that I’d heard his voice since he died. I’d forgotten
that I had this recording actually, and nothing can substitute for hearing a voice like
that. Nothing can.
Ad: For all things Mosen at-large, check out the website where you can listen to
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Just point your browser to podcast.mosen.org, that’s podcast.M-O- S-E-N.org.
Jonathan: This email is from Angus McKinnon, who writes, “Jonathan, do you ever
use something like the FiiO as, F-I-I-O Q1 mark II DAC?” No, I don’t. Angus. DAC,
by the way, is a digital to analog converter. I have not used one of these or anything
like it. I assume you may be asking this question because of the changes coming to
Apple Music, where you will be able to give, not just lossless, but high resolution
music. Certainly the high resolution music will benefit from a good quality digital to
analog converter.
It’s not something I have tried. If anybody has and wants to share product
recommendations and the quality of the user experience, then my audio geeky heart
would be gladdened by your contribution. Send it in by email or with an audio
attachment, maybe using your digital to analog converter to
jonathan@mushroomfm.com. The listener line number 86460 Mosen, 864-6066736.
This email is from Pam Francis who writes, “Hello, Jonathan, what is your opinion
concerning Apple’s decision to make their computers in such a way that you can not
replace parts? I got one of the last Apple computers that will allow you to take it
apart. I don’t know if I want another one given that I cannot have it repaired properly.
I think Apple does this on purpose to create obsolescence. The price is also cost
Thanks, Pam. I know that there is a lot of debate about this. There are Right to
Repair bills that are going through various legislatures in the United States. Maybe
some have already passed. I know that a number of manufacturers, Apple included
are quite vociferous in their lobbying against this kind of legislation.
I think to Apple’s credit, that Macs do last quite a long time, and I’m not sure that
Apple’s the only culprit here. You do get computers where something seemingly
innocuous happens, like you’ve got a USB port that stops working. Actually I had this
issue with a 2012 MacBook Air that I owned. I’m careful with my stuff, I wasn’t
misusing it in any way, but one day I tried to insert something into the USB port and
it wouldn’t go in. Something had happened to the USB port and I called Apple.
I think this was about maybe a year after I got it, so 2013, not that long, given the
supposed quality of Apple stuff and how long they really should last. I called Apple
support and they said, oh gosh, I’ve never heard of this before. I Googled on it, and it
was a really common problem. The Apple forums were littered with people who had
this problem with the MacBook Air USB port, and I called them back and I said,
“Listen, the internet’s full of people having the same issue as me. You’ve got a
manufacturing defect here. Even if that were not the case, unless you can clearly
prove that I have misused the equipment, we have law in New Zealand called the
Consumer Guarantees Act. That overrides any manufacturer’s warranty. If it is fair
and reasonable to expect a product to last longer than it has, then it’s up to the
manufacturer to put it right, regardless of what the guarantee or the
warranty says, the law of the land basically overrides whatever they say.”
They did fix it, but to fix it, they actually had to open it up and rip out the entire
motherboard just for one USB port and put the new motherboard in. I guess that’s
how intricately woven these manufacturing processes are now, but Apple’s not
unique in that regard. There are many laptops that are complex in this way, where
everything’s just really clearly associated with the motherboard.
I am pretty Zen about this. I guess we’re protected in New Zealand by the fact that
we do have that legislation. It is pretty robust and it’s on the side of the consumer. I
think if you abandoned Apple for this reason, you’re probably going to get a very
similar problem with any capable manufacturer these days. I do know people who
are using quite elderly Macs by technological computing standards who are getting
good value out of them.
This email is from Paul de Adario, who says, “Dear Jonathan, your podcast is
consistently informative, inspirational and entertaining. One topic you regularly stress
is the inappropriate use of the word blind and related terms. After regularly reading
terms such as “blind eye, blind with anger, blinded to the facts and blind hatred” in
editorial columns in the Washington Post, I thought I’d submit to you my recent
contribution to the newspaper, which they printed in their May 29th edition.
“Here we go. The headline is, ‘Shedding light on blindness’. While reading Dana
Milbank’s May 13th, Thursday Opinion Column, The Cancel Culture, Republicans
just Canceled Liz Cheney, I was saddened to read another routine example of how
blind people are stereotyped in part by the misuse of the word blind.
“Such examples are in articles and on the Opinion pages of the Post nearly every
week, sometimes several times a week. Milbank wrote of the GOP. Now it has
canceled a stalwart conservative and daughter of a former vice president.
“The Republican irony blindness doesn’t stop there. Equating the actions of the
Republican house members with blindness is an inappropriate and harmful use of
the word blindness. The House members may be making a poor and ill-informed
decision, maybe even a harmful and cowardly decision, but their eyesight has
nothing to do with their decision or ironic actions.
“Such a poor use of the word helps perpetuate the notion that being blind is a
condition that leaves one out of touch, unaware and unable to obtain and properly
analyze information.
“The actions of House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy [Calif] and his house
colleagues may demonstrate a refusal to face the facts, but they do not demonstrate
blindness. I am blind, but have not been blind all my life. I noticed as I became blind
gradually because of an inherited condition, that people began treating me as being
unaware, ignorant, et cetera.
“I’m proud of the many skills I developed to continue to work and, among other
activities, read newspapers, which I listen to every day. The Post’s style book should
be changed so that the paper sticks to using the word blind as meaning a condition
when eyes do not work well enough for someone to see. Such eyeballs do not
prohibit one from being informed, learning, or being aware.”
Wow, well done, Paul, that really does deserve a round of applause there.
Yes, it does. I hope it inspires more people to stand up against this harmful,
deplorable able-ist language that we’re seeing in the media so much. We should be
calling this out and eventually if enough of us call it out frequently, we will get the
change that we deserve and we desperately need. Congratulations on doing that.
Thank you so much for sending it in.
Dawn writes. “Hi, Jonathan. I heard you talking about writing Braille when iOS
devices are connected to the Mantis. I went straight to mine and Bluetoothed to my
iPhone. When I tried to use Braille input, I discovered it would only allow me to use
the typewriter keyboard. I pressed F12, which is the hotkey that toggles the keyboard
input, but couldn’t manage to get it to switch between input methods. Is this an iOS
problem? If so, it is a great shortcoming on Apple’s part. As far as a sound or
vibration that tells you when the phone is active, I am with you all the way.”
Thank you, Dawn. No, you cannot use the Braille keyboard emulation mode in
anything but the programs on the Mantis itself. That is a function that belongs to the
Mantis software, and it doesn’t translate to terminal mode. I’m really relaxed about
If I wanted to Braille into my iPhone, I could have chosen another device. I want to
be able to type into iPhone with the QWERTY keyboard precisely because of the
bizarre Braille input anomalies that we’ve talked about extensively in recent weeks
with many listeners contributing on that subject.
I don’t perceive this to be an Apple issue. I guess there might be a way for
HumanWare who do the software for APH to make this available in terminal mode,
but I think that is actually at the APH/HumanWare end.
Greg says, “I have been thinking quite a bit about two points you have been raising
over the last few weeks. The one-eyed man and Blind Pride and frankly struggling
with them. In large part, this comes from a belief that you have a great deal of
misconception of what having the sense of vision is like.
For example, your one-eyed man assertion that he would be distracted by an
overload of visual stimulus is just absurdly removed from reality, as anyone
experiencing visual distraction can easily close their eyes. You and several others
who apparently have been blind from birth equate vision with data. Again, this is
From an evolutionary standpoint, in comparison to other species, vision is by far the
most developed of the human senses, and losing it is a major disability. While blind
people do face discrimination in many ways, including ignorance of our capabilities, I
don’t see how we can advance our cause by untruthful assertions as if blindness is
not a disability at all.
I am not either proud or ashamed of being blind. If I had the choice, I would love to
get my sight fully or partially restored. I am proud of how I have accepted my
blindness and of who I am as a person, blind or otherwise. We do need to advance
the cause of the place of blind people in our society and equal opportunity and
justice. But we must do so with honesty and integrity, and laughably absurd
assertions, minimizing the loss of vision only make us look ridiculous, and rejection
out of hand.
If Blind Pride moves that forward, I’m all for it, but, and it’s a big but, we can’t
misrepresent what blindness is any more then,” I presume than, “we should allow
sighted people to put false limitations on us.”
Thank you, Greg. Some of the most eloquent emails on the subject that we’ve
received have come from Andrew Walker, who said in his email that he has been
sighted and went blind later in life as an adult. It was because of Andrew’s email that
I dug out the one-eyed man speech that I delivered in 2016.
Adventitiously and congenitally blind people alike, and adventitiously and
congenitally disabled people alike, are increasingly subscribing to the social model of
disability. I also think you contradict your own argument when you talk about vision
being the most developed sense. It absolutely is and that’s why if the one-eyed man
had vision, he would not close his eyes. He would be distracted in a society that was
not built for vision if he were in the kingdom of the blind, that’s the point of the
The point of the example is to illustrate the social model of disability, which I accept
is taking a long time to gain any foothold in the United States but it is a model that
has been adopted here. It’s a really empowering model. It gives disabled people the
confidence and the mandate to demand that society stop making disabling choices.
The social model of disability says that blindness is not a disability. That’s what I
believe. It’s not a matter of being dishonest or lacking integrity just because I don’t
agree with you. [chuckles] I believe it because when you subscribe to the social
model of disability, what you’re saying is that we all have impairments of different
kinds. If you are short, and you can’t reach a particular shelf, then you are disabled
by birth design. Luckily, in a situation as simple as that, you can usually find an
accommodation to mitigate that disability, which is standing on a stool.
Some impairments are more severe than others and have greater consequences
than others. Certainly, the consequences of having a vision impairment are
significant but they’re not significant because of the vision impairment itself. They’re
significant because of the choices society has chosen to make around the
construction of society. If a lot of information about my environment was provided
tactually or audibly, then the fact that I’m blind would be less disabling than it is.
That’s the whole point of the social model of disability. Those of us who do promote
it, are making inroads because when I explain this to a wide range of audiences,
they get it. They understand actually that there are many things that disable them for
whatever reason, and some are mitigated and some are not. It’s time that we
mitigated as many as possible.
Now, I accept that not everybody is there. People are at varying stages, particularly
those who’ve gone through the very disturbing upheaval of having lost a sense that
is so dominant, and that it is so easy naturally to depend on, and then you suddenly
can’t depend on it anymore. I’ve had no experience of that, except that I do have
deteriorating hearing and so I do relate to it in that sense. I know what it is like to rely
on something and then find that you can’t rely on it as much anymore or if you’ve had
some accident that has taken your sight away immediately, you’ve never had that
adjustment at all. Suddenly you had it, now you don’t. That is a major, major thing to
adjust to and I don’t minimize that at all.
People’s perspective on blindness and disability will vary but it isn’t some clear
arbitrary distinction between the congenitally and adventitiously disabled as the show
has demonstrated.
David Green is writing in on this topic and says, “I am happy to say that I no longer
am ashamed to be blind and I don’t think I can say that I am proud to be blind. I have
never met you in person but here are my observations that give you freedom to be a
person who is proud to be blind.” Look at this, it is presented in a lovely bulleted list.
“You have a sharp keen mind. You are an extrovert. You are well-read and well-
educated. You seem to be humble. You have an interest in people. I would think you
are rarely in a place where you were lost for words. You being you makes you user-
friendly to the blind and sighted community. You are widely recognized as a public
voice with recognized achievements. For example, let’s take a situation at an airport.
You are getting off the plane and a wheelchair was offered to you or even insisted.
Your gift set puts you in the place of not being lost for words, quick and able to
advocate and educate on the spot. You have a lot to be proud of and it is
“Now,” continues David, “let’s take another person who is equally gifted as you but in
a totally different area. This person is an introvert. They bury their head in writing
code for accessible technology. They don’t have the gift of the gab and everything
has to be thought through before making a decision. They may not be able to
advocate for themselves on the spot and as a result, feel that they are not so proud
to be blind. They are not ashamed, they just feel that blindness can be a nuisance.
As always, your podcast is the marmalade on my toast every Sunday morning here
in Ottawa, Canada. Delicious.”
Thank you very much for your email Dave, but I’m not sure that I would agree with all
of those very flattering portrayals. Even if we assumed that they were true in a
general sense, about people, can a person who is introverted and quieter and
perhaps struggles to find the right word sometimes, isn’t as assertive, be proud to be
blind? I think they can.
The skills that you were talking about, particularly self-advocacy, are very important.
I wish that we could encourage more people to get involved in self-advocacy training.
It’s the whole thing about, “Give somebody a fish, versus teaching them to fish.” If
you advocate for somebody else then you may well help to address their immediate
problem, but if you equip them with self-advocacy skills, you’re setting them up to be
able to handle a wide range of scenarios as they arise in a constructive way.
That is separate from the subject of Blind Pride. You can be quietly proud. A dad, for
example, who is the strong, silent type, not one for massive displays of emotion, for
example, can still be very proud of one of their children’s achievements in academia,
or on the sports field. I think that pride is separate from your expression of the pride.
I guess that’s what I’m saying. You may be quietly proud of what being blind means
to you.
Michelle: Hello, Jonathan. My name is Michelle Richards-Bernstein and I was
listening to your latest podcast. I think it’s number 126. I just wanted to comment
about something that you mentioned in the podcast, which may apply to some other
of your listeners besides myself.
You mentioned, when you were talking about in the wish list, what you’d like to see
with Apple, that you find it difficult to understand why some blind and low-vision
users prefer the Victor Reader Stream over the iPhone, and I am one of those
people who prefers the Victor Reader Stream over the iPhone. I am low-vision and
became visually impaired as an adult. I did not grow up in the blind community at all.
When I became visually impaired, I learned how to use the Victor Reader Stream,
and it is my preferred way to listen to audiobooks and listen to podcasts, and even
listen to NFB-Newsline, as well. The reason is very simple, it’s tactile. Part of my
vision loss involved having extreme light sensitivity and the iPhone, with its blue
lights, even if you dial down the volume and change it to grayscale and things like
that, it’s very disorienting to my eyes. It’s very difficult for me to use the phone, even
if I turn off the screen curtain, there’s just something about the iPhone that it’s very
irritating to my eyes.
I use it as a phone and a couple of other things, but in terms of listening to
audiobooks and podcasts, which I do for several hours each day, I find it much more
comfortable for me to use the Victor Reader Stream. It took me a little while. I
learned how to use it, and now my fingers just do everything automatically. I have it
set up with Wi-Fi so the podcasts are downloaded automatically. I live in the US, so I
can search BARD easily. I use it to listen to Bookshare books. I use it for NFB-
While I do understand that it is expensive, I personally found the iPhone actually a
little more expensive when I purchased my iPhone, but I do think for some people
who have extreme light sensitivity as I do, having the tactile-ness of the Victor
Reader Stream is very helpful.
I’ve tried to share this with other people that I’ve met who are low-vision, who have
also had difficulty using the iPhone for various reasons, that this is a good option for
them, assuming that they’re willing to learn how to use the Victor Reader Stream,
and of course, that they can afford it. Thank you for your podcast. As someone who’s
new to the blind community, I find it very helpful and informative.
Jonathan: Well, thank you, Michelle, for taking the time to share your perspective.
It’s great that we have this choice of technology, and it helps me and maybe others
to understand why some people make the different choices that they do. That was a
very informative message and I appreciate it.
Here is someone I can’t identify because only their email address is in the From field,
so we don’t have a name, but they are a happy ElBraille user. “Hope everything is
going well at Mosen Towers,” says this unknown person. “I wanted to give you my
impressions about the ElBraille since I last asked you about it during one of your
shows, so here we go.
“Summary, the ElBraille is a docking station for a Focus 40 Blue Braille display. The
user runs JAWS, either with a license or with the annual home license, just like on
their laptop or desktop computer. The focus slides in from the left and clicks into
place. The overall unit is well put together and doesn’t weigh much. Learning the
unit, as well as BrailleIn with JAWS, took about a week. I managed using a wired
keyboard until I got familiar with the layout and functions.
“Many people have told me that learning to use the Braille keyboard would be hard,
and I’d want to use a regular keyboard. I found this to be incorrect for me, as I prefer
typing in Braille as my primary medium and wanted to force myself to use the
Perkins keyboard only. The fan at the top middle of the unit is quiet and only seems
to spin up during tasks such as multiple tabs, multiple Word documents, and
Outlook, running at the same time, running all programs together. This doesn’t slow
the performance of the unit down at all, though.
I found the performance to be reliable and fast, without any issues of slowing down,
even with a few programs running at a time. Since the ElBraille is a Windows
environment, running any Windows program is easy and works just as expected.
Nothing more I can say about that. I thought that I’d not be used to the spacebar
being split between dot-one and dot-four, but I’ve grown to like it. I also have a
QBraille and find that spacebar to be cramped up.” Exactly, I’ve said this since I first
laid hands on the QBraille.
“Since the ElBraille is, in all sense of the word, a portable computer, I feel the need
to no longer carry my laptop and grab for my ElBraille instead. People have said that
the Sad would be a laptop replacement.” I think we might be reading iPad here, but it
says Sad. That’s an interesting Braille error.
“My ElBraille is my laptop replacement. Once configured correctly, the user of the
ElBraille will be very happy in my opinion, if given the opportunity and forcing oneself
to learn the BrailleIn method the ElBraille is an excellent choice. I must say that my
work bought me this device. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it myself.
However, I love my ElBraille, and my dreams of having a truly portable computer
have come true with the ElBraille.”
We have recently been talking about what collaboration is like in Microsoft Word if
you use a Mac, and Ernest has some experience of this. He says, “Hi, Jonathan. I
have experience working in a Word document on a Mac in the application, not in the
browser, and collaborating in real-time, and it works great.
We were only two people so I’m unsure how it will work with several people. I liked
that VoiceOver announced feedback when a person opened a document like,
“Person name is here.”
Thank you, Ernest. It’s good to know that that collaboration is coming along so nicely
on the Mac because it is something that I make extensive use of with JAWS on
John Lipsy: Hey, Jonathan. It’s John Lipsy from Utah. I have an interesting tech
conundrum for you and the Mosen At Large crowd. I have an Echo Studio, which I
purchased in October, and this problem has been there since the beginning, but I
just have learned to live with it. I finally was like, “No, I want this to work as it’s
supposed to.
So in addition to all of the other Amazon skills and music, and things that I use my
Studio for, I Bluetooth it to my Apple TV. I have an Apple TV HD with the latest
publicly-released software version. I Bluetooth it because A, the audio quality in the
Studio is better than the audio quality on my little TV speaker and also, the Studio is
closer to my bed so I can watch TV at a lower volume when I’m lying down and not
wake up the rest of the house. It Bluetooths fine. It connects, VoiceOver comes
through the speaker, which I want. The audio of whatever I’m watching comes
through the speaker, as I expected.
However, whenever a show ends, or if I have to hit the back button because I
changed my mind and I want to watch something else, there is a 7 to 10-second time
span where I don’t have any VoiceOver audio. It doesn’t go back through the TV. It’s
not routed through the Echo Studio. It’s literally not there. If I forget and try to like
swipe through icons, this time lengthens. This has happened on every software
version of my Apple TV, which leads me to think it’s an issue with the Studio itself.
I’ve tried forgetting the Apple TV and repairing it. I’ve tried erasing the Studio and
resetting it, I guess you don’t really erase it, but resetting it, whatever. I haven’t tried
resetting my Apple TV just because it’s kind of a pain to download all my apps and
get all my credentials and everything. I could do it if I need to but I really don’t want
This was not an issue at a first-gen Echo for a long time and this was not an issue
with that device. If I went back, audio from VoiceOver would start coming
immediately through the Echo as expected, and I could navigate and watch
something else.
I have a temporary stopgap in place, I purchased Airfoil Satellite from Rogue
Amoeba, which lets me connect my Mac via Bluetooth to the Echo Studio and then
AirPlay audio from my Apple TV to the Mac, which then goes to the Studio. It’s weird
like it’s daisy-chained and it’s fine but if I can get this to work the way it’s supposed
to, that would be brilliant. If you have any insights, I would appreciate them.
I have more questions about different topics, but I’m going to save those for my next
message. As always, it is wonderful hearing your show. I try to catch it every week.
Hope you and your family are doing well.”
Jonathan: I guess my first reaction, John, is what a shame the Echo Studio, given
that it is a premium speaker in the Amazon line, doesn’t offer AirPlay directly. Do you
have another Bluetooth speaker you can try this with?
I suppose it’s difficult when you have a situation like this and you’re trying to make
two devices from competing manufacturers to talk to one another, to get one of them
to own up and take responsibility.
If you can prove definitively that this problem isn’t happening on other Bluetooth
devices that you have access to, then it would seem to me the ball is very much in
Amazon’s court, particularly if we can find out from other listeners whether they have
had the same thing. If they’ve got one of these Echo Studios, and they have tried to
pair it with their Apple TV and they’ve got the same issue with VoiceOver, that would
be useful intel as they say.
If you can help John with this, please be in touch 1864-60 Mosen is my number in
the United States. You can also drop me an email with an audio attachment like
John did, or just write something down, email it into Jonathan@mushroomfm.com.
Ad: On Twitter, follow MosenAtLarge for information about the podcast, the latest
tech news, and links to things we talk about on the podcast. That’s MosenAtLarge,
all one word on Twitter.
Jonathan: Here’s an email with a moral and the moral is we get new listeners all the
time. This email says– and it’s from Beatrice, by the way. “Hi, Jonathan, how are
you? I’ve written to you before, but I wanted to thank you again, for all the work you
do to help the blind community.” That’s really kind of you. Thank you, Beatrice.
“I wanted to ask you about I believe it’s called the virtual assistant or search engine
you spoke about. How is it obtained? I tried looking for it in the App Store but was
unable to locate it there. Can I find it via a website or is it something that can be
purchased? Thanks in advance.”
Well, I tell you see, Beatrice, I’ll give you the secret, which longtime listeners to my
shows already know, but new listeners will not. I’m glad you asked the question. The
thing is, you see, that where I can, I will talk about the Amazon Echo, but it’s not
always as easy as doing that because sometimes the virtual assistant built into the
Amazon Echo makes its way to other products.
“They’ve made it available to third parties like Sonos and Bose, and it’s all over the
place. When I need to refer to it by name because unlike Siri and Google, where you
have to put a hey in front of the names, you just summon this one by saying its name
I’ve changed the name of mine. So whenever I talk about it, I call it the Soupdrinker
[Soupdrinker noise] stop, so that I don’t trigger everybody else’s devices.
Soupdrinker [noise] stop, devices from around the world. I can say things like
Soupdrinker [noise] tell me about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Soup Drinker: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 1964 children’s novel by–
Jonathan: Soup Drinker, stop. If you have an Amazon Echo or any other device that
has that virtual assistant in it, then you have the Soupdrinker. [noise]
That beautiful music signifies the arrival of another Bonnie Bulletin live this time with
Bonnie Mosen.
Bonnie: Hi, everybody. Hi, guys.
Jonathan: We could give you a round of applause if you like.
Bonnie: Okay.
Jonathan: It’s great to have you back.
Bonnie: We do that at our romance writers’ meeting.
Jonathan: [chuckles] Now we need to try and keep up our impeccable record
because last week, we had this heart-to-heart talk about the need for us not to talk
over each other.
Bonnie: Oh, yes.
Jonathan: It’s like a form of therapy because this podcast is now being transcribed
and we have had incidents where the Bonnie Bulletin was full of the dreaded word
[crosstalk], where we were talking at the same time and the transcriber couldn’t
figure out what the deuce is going on so they just put [crosstalk]. Last week, we had
a perfect score.
Bonnie: Oh, that’s great. I wonder what the Senate gets.
Jonathan: The Senate’s normally actually quite well behaved, isn’t it? I find it ironic
that in America, everyone, well, not everyone. That’s a huge generalization, sorry. In
America, there’s so much brashness and people not listening to one another, and
people just being mean, and rude, and horrible. Yet, when you go into the Senate,
it’s quite genteel still.
Bonnie: It’s tradition. Can’t fight tradition.
Jonathan: Why can’t that tradition be transferred to the general public discourse
Bonnie: I don’t know. I mean, you think about a news show, and I’m sure there’s lots
of cross-talking on Crossfire or lots of cross-talking on Meet the Press.
Jonathan: I remember when I first saw Crossfire when CNN came to New Zealand
in 1990. I was just gobsmacked. I thought, “Wow, can they all just wait for each other
to finish?
Bonnie: Or any press conference because they all talk over each other there.
Jonathan: Yes. I have some interesting news to report, and this is that we have
moved in to our building now. This is the new national office of the organization for
which I work. We’ve moved into it now.
We had a listener who was asking the question about whether you might use a
Zoom PodTrak P4 in a work context to have all of your devices coming through one
set of headphones. That’s what really inspired me to buy it. I have to say, it’s working
like a dream.
Bonnie: That’s great.
Jonathan: In my office, I have a lapel microphone, my lovely Sony lapel microphone
that I can clip onto me and that’s going into one of the inputs in the PodTrak. Then I
have the iPhone going into the special input for the iPhone on Channel 3 of the
PodTrak. I also have the PC connected via Zoom. So I can hear everything, I can
hear notifications from my phone, when I’m using my computer, when I’m doing
video or audio conferencing or taking phone calls, I can use my high-quality mic.
If I need to record any of it, I can for reference or anything like that. It’s just
marvelous. The one caveat, though, is that because there’s no mix minus really
between the PC and the phone, if I’m on a conference on my PC, I have to
remember to wind the channel down from the phone because I was having a
conversation on Teams on my PC in the office, and some breaking news notification
or other came through. It was clear as day to the people on the other end of the
Teams call.
That is another use for the PodTrak P4, to use it as a little mini-mixer in a work
environment. Thank you to the genius– I don’t remember who suggested this, I’m
sorry, a listener a few weeks ago, because thanks to you, I bought this PodTrak P4
and it’s working beautifully in that context.
Bonnie: I’m sure they’ll reveal themselves.
Jonathan: I’m sure. Our Chief Operations Officer listens to Mosen At Large
sometimes. His favorite segment is the Bonnie Bulletin. He came into my office and
he said, “Oh, so this is the PodTrak P4.”
He knew all about it. We’ve had a bit of drama with technology.
Bonnie: The washing machine is still working but they’ve managed to update its
controller or something. They’re doing something with its controller because it’s
downloaded and it’s still loading. Either it’s the biggest controller on Earth or
something’s wrong because I tried using the washing machine Friday, I guess it was,
and it wouldn’t work from the controller. I did manage to get it turned on by the Alexa.
Jonathan: Oh.
Bonnie: Sorry, guys. It got stuck in some sort of loop. I don’t know what happened.
Heidi and Henry had to come over and force it out of its cycle. It does still work, but
you can’t control it by the app and you can’t change what setting it’s on. It’s stuck on
Jonathan: I’m nervous about this because the background here is that I was reading
this book by James Patterson and Bill Clinton. They’ve come out with a second book.
The first one was called The President Is Missing. You read that, didn’t you?
Bonnie: Yes.
Jonathan: Did you like that?
Bonnie: Yes.
Jonathan: Yes, it was good. Now they’ve come out with a different one, a different
president. It’s called The President’s Daughter, but it’s not the same president as the
one who was missing. I hope you’re keeping up.
Bonnie: It’s not the same. Just that president had a lot of bad luck if he was missing
that his daughter was-
Jonathan: [laughs] Despite my tiredness on Thursday night, I got to the point where
I had to finish the book. I [emphasis] reading and eventually, I did finish the book and
I went to check my mail. One should never do this before drifting off to sleep. It’s
really bad practice, but I quickly checked my mail and it was an email from our handy
dandy Synology network-attached storage device.
The email said “your Synology lost power at” I think it was 10:45 or something
around that time PM. I thought, “Oh my goodness, what’s happened here?” The first
thing I did was check with Siri, whether we could still hear Mushroom FM and we
could not.
Finally, it dawned on me I should actually just check my battery status. I checked my
battery status and it said 95% not charging, even though it was plugged in. I realized
our power had been cutterated! By this stage it was like 11:30 so it had been off for
quite a while. In New Zealand, we have multiple power companies, electricity
companies that you can choose from. My understanding is that’s not really the case
in the US, is it?
Bonnie: Not really. Every state has its own power company. Some have two, but
usually, it’s just one for each state. There’s not like a federal power company.
Jonathan: In New Zealand, it’s all been deregulated. There are so many power
companies and they all compete for your business. “Sign up for a 10-year contract
with us and we’ll give you an iPad,” all sorts of stuff. We’ve signed up with one that
said, if we agreed to sign up with them for a year, they’ll give us free electricity every
weekend. We’ve done that and that’s nice.
Anyway, I called our particular power company and talked to their faults person.
They said, yes, they had been notified that there was an outage in our area. It might
be until three in the morning until it was fixed. They said, “Have you got anybody
there who’s medically-dependent?” I said, “No, we haven’t, but we’ve got people all
around the world who are dependent on Mushroom FM and now Mushroom is not
working.” She didn’t seem terribly interested in what Mushroom Fm–
Bonnie: That’s not a medical crisis, it’s just a crisis to listeners.
Jonathan: You talked over me just then.
Bonnie: Sorry.
Jonathan: But luckily I stopped. This is the first time we’ve had a big power cut since
Henry the Wonder Son-in-law and I built the New Mushroom Pot, the great beast of
a computer that powers Mushroom FM. We set it up in the BIOS so that it’s
supposed to automatically start itself up when power is recovered, but I’ve never
seen it do it.
I wanted to make sure, so what I did was I went to sleep with one hearing aid in my
ear, mindful that when you connect your phone to power, it always wakes up and
VoiceOver speaks. I knew that when the power came back on, VoiceOver would yell
in my ear and I would be able to run down and check the Mushroom FM computer
down in the studio and hopefully get back to sleep.
That all happened. 2:17 AM it came back and it yelled at me and woke me up. I went
down and checked and it did indeed wake up. Why this is relevant is so we’ve got
two things that I don’t know if they’re related. The morning after that power cut was
when the washing machine got weird. The washing machine is saying it was
downloading a- what did they call it?
Bonnie: New controlled device controller.
Jonathan: Device controller. I don’t know whether it got upset because the power
went off and maybe there was a surge, but I don’t think so because everything else
seems to be working okay. If you’ve got a Samsung Smart washer called the what’s?
Bonnie: Quick drive.
Jonathan: Quick Drive. Sounds like going into hyperspace. Actually, when you
touch the panel, it sounds like you’re going into hyperspace [beeps].
Bonnie: It does. It still works. It’s just you can’t use it from the app which is
Jonathan: That makes me think it’s not related to that power cut, but when you have
two things happening in rapid succession like that, you can’t help wondering.
Bonnie: Hopefully, it will straighten itself out eventually because most things have
cotton in them, but everything is going to wash on cotton from now until eternity.
Jonathan: [sighs] I’m a bit nervous about the Samsung support as well. What I’ve
said to Heidi is when she gets a chance to come over, maybe we’ll contact tech
support then because I don’t really want to bring the whole VoiceOver thing into the
mix. I just don’t want to deal with it.
Bonnie: What I’m afraid they’ll say is, “Well, it has Braille on the washer,” which it
does, but that doesn’t help us. [laughs]
Jonathan: No, it’s about the output. Not the input. It’s a shame because after being
such a Luddite about the idea of us having a new-fangled washing machine with an
app, you were really digging it.
Bonnie: Yes, it is a great washer, now it doesn’t work.
Jonathan: Yes, that doesn’t work.
Bonnie: It works. It just doesn’t work as well as it did. It still is doing what it’s
supposed to be. At least it was yesterday.
Jonathan: Which vindicates your Luddidity in the first place? Is that a word?
Bonnie: Yes.
Jonathan: Is Luddidity a word?
Bonnie: That is true on some levels. I was thinking about this the other day that if I
were a teacher, I wonder if– and I can just see the backlash from parents and kids if
I were to do this if I were a teacher, where I would have a day or some like one day a
month where the kids could not use any technology, but they would have to use
pencil and paper, but they would have to use calculators or whatever.
They’d have to actually look in a book because there may come a time. Think about
it. It’s a survival thing because when you don’t have the technology, you’re pretty
much dysfunctional. You can’t do anything or you think you can’t do anything and I’m
not sure that humans are being taught those survival skills.
We remember when there wasn’t an internet and when we didn’t have iPhones, but
the generation now doesn’t, and particularly with the pandemic and natural disasters,
you sometimes got to get back to a little basics so you could at least function.
Jonathan: It’s amazing how vulnerable the internet is too. Because earlier this week
there was this massive outage of one particular provider that powers a lot of the big
websites. Like I think was it Amazon affected and BBC and the Guardian and
PayPal? A lot of really big players and apparently, it was supposedly caused by one
provider’s configuration going rogue and taking the whole thing out.
The internet’s incredibly vulnerable. One day we will have some massive coordinated
cyberattack that knocks a lot of things out. It’s just amazing and a bit scary how
much is dependent on the internet, but in America, you’ve got these survivalists
haven’t you? That they have they’re in these bunkers.
Bonnie: A lot of them are out West in Montana and places. I have to laugh because
I had this picture in my head. Because every time there’s a presidential election, one
of the groups goes underground. I had this picture like when Trump got elected, was
he standing there with Obama and handing over the keys? Okay. Now, your people
can go into the ground.
Then four years later, was he standing there with Biden going, okay now here. He
hands- no, Obama hands over the keys to Trump.
Jonathan: The one that makes me laugh is when some new political figure is
elected. You always now, every four years, you always get the surge of tweets from
people to say.
Bonnie: Not my president.
Jonathan: No. Well, they say that. What I was thinking of was they always say, “I’m
moving to New Zealand.” It’s really funny when you hear Republicans doing it. I write
back and I say, “Mate, do you realize that we’ve got an unmarried mother who’s an
atheist as our prime minister? And we’ve got a nationalized healthcare system, all
these things that you stand against. You say just because your guy didn’t win, or girl,
you’re moving to New Zealand.”
Bonnie: I think they want to because they think it’s the furthest place away as more–
I like to calmly point out that they wouldn’t let people in because we have such a
strong immigration policy that it’s not that simple. You think it’s really easy to get up
and switch countries, but trust me it’s not.
Jonathan: It is very complicated. It is.
Bonnie: Yes, once you– I don’t know, go somewhere that most people wouldn’t go
they might take you in, I don’t know. Just talking about the Doomsday preppers or
the bunker people, there is a show or used to be a show on the Discovery or History
channel. One of those that used to actually show programs and now has more
reality-based stuff called the Doomsday Preppers. They would show their little
bunkers or silos or whatever they moved into. Some of them are quite elaborate.
Jonathan: Now, Peggy Kern is commenting on the Twitter. She says, “At one point
when our water heater was updating the control module or whatever it is called, they
ended up creating a brand new app. You might want to look in the app store and see
if there is another app for your washer.”
Bonnie: That is interesting. Didn’t we do that, though?
Jonathan: Well, what I suggested we do on your phone as a test was delete the
Samsung smart things app and re-install it. I believe we’ve done that, but it’s
interesting because I did read that a smart things app update is coming. I mentioned
that to you a couple of times.
Bonnie: That’s what I thought had happened. I don’t know.
Jonathan: Thank you so much for another absolutely stunning Bonnie Bulletin.
Bonnie: Thank you.
Jonathan: We look forward to seeing you next week. Goodbye.
Bonnie: Bye.
Outro: To contribute to Mosen At Large you can email Jonathan that’s J-O-N-A-T-H-
A-N@mushroomfm.com by writing something down or attaching an audio file, or you
can call our listener line. It’s a US number 86460, Mosen. That’s 8 6 4 6 0 6 6 7 3 6.
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