Podcast Transcript: Mosen At Large 133, childhood radio memories, non-24, what do you want in Windows 11 and more
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Jonathan Mosen: I’m Jonathan Mosen and this is Mosen At Large, the show that’s got the blind community talking. Today, to celebrate the arrival of Small World on Mushroom Escape, we’re sharing childhood radio memories. What do you hope Microsoft will reveal in Windows 11, sleep strategies for those with non-24, and more.
Thank you for joining us for another episode. It’s wonderful to have you along. Thanks to the intricacies of time zones. It is Sunday in New Zealand as I put this together, which means that today is the day. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, then as I put this together, it’s still Saturday, which means that tomorrow is the day. The day for what? The day that I’ve been looking forward to for many, many months now and that is when we launch the new version of Small World, that is the kids’ program for the whole family. It dates back to 1977 in New Zealand and ran for about 29 years on and off on various radio stations. It became such a popular fixture.
To have been given the honor of being asked to resurrect it is just something I never thought that I would have the chance to do. All a bit exciting, a little bit nerve-wracking and that happens on Mushroom Escape. The first episode will air for the first time at midnight, North American Eastern Time, on Sunday the 20th. Then it plays every four hours throughout the day so 12, 4, and 8, both AM and PM on Sunday the 20th. If you are not in North American Eastern Time and you don’t know what that equates to in your timezone, you can go to the Mushroom Escape schedule page, mushroomfm.com/escape, and it will display in your local timezone. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed getting ready to do this for you. I think I will enjoy it once it’s on and out there. Right now it’s like pre-show nerve time. [chuckles]
Anyway, all of the stuff talking about Small World and bringing up many radio memories for me made me think that it’s time we went on a good old reminiscing session. We do this from time to time, and we had a great run of discussion not so long ago. When we talked about tape recorder technology that we used to use and that got some great memories going. It’s good for those of us who have been around a while now, but it’s also good for younger people who might want to know about earlier times and what things were like.
For many blind people, radio has played a big part in our lives, hasn’t it? Sighted people, of course, love radio too. The vast majority of broadcasters are sighted. I think blind people have a higher love of radio among our population than sighted people because it’s a medium we can fully consume and appreciate. Certainly, radio played a big part in my life. I started going into the radio station when I was about four years old, which is a crazy story.
If you want to hear all about that, you can hear that in the series that tells my life story that Glen Gordon did called, In the Arena, the Jonathan Mosen Story. It’s available as a podcast if you search for In the Arena, and it’s also available on mosen.org. It’s scary to think that in just two or three years or three years time– No, two years time now, see time’s going fast, I will be celebrating 50 years on the radio, which is just scary.
Anyway, I won’t revisit too many of the memories that we covered on In the Arena because you can hear that if you want to. I would like to just talk about radio and the role that it played in my childhood as a listener. I was really fortunate to be growing up in New Zealand, where a lot was happening in radio. I started to listen to radio in the mid-1970s. Our radio history was quite similar to Britain’s, but it did have some key differences. We did have privately-owned radio stations in New Zealand until 1936. In late 1935, a left-of-center labor government was elected in New Zealand for the first time and they decided to nationalize all the radio stations. They did something a bit differently from the way the BBC did it in that they had a commercial and a non-commercial arm. It was called various things over the years, the New Zealand Broadcasting Service, the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, and later Radio New Zealand, but it was a government entity running everything.
In 1966, inspired by the offshore radio stations in Britain, which were seeking to break their government monopoly, Radio Hauraki started, which was broadcasting from the Hauraki Gulf, in the Auckland area, and I’ve produced documentaries on that subject, it’s something I really love to study and listen to airchecks of. When I eventually worked in radio, I got to work with quite a few of those guys who would tell their Radio Hauraki stories, and I loved listening to them. The big difference between what happened in Britain and what happened in New Zealand is that Britain closed all those radio stations down with the Marine Offenses Act in 1967, well most of them, Radio Caroline kept going on and off, and they set up a youth channel run by the government entity, the BBC. Private radio didn’t come to Britain for quite some years after until 1973.
In New Zealand, Radio Hauraki won their argument and won their battle so a new framework was established for private radio in New Zealand. Radio Hauraki won a license to broadcast and there was another radio station in Auckland that started around about the same time just after Radio Hauraki called Radio I, which is the one that I spent a lot of time on in the ’70s. Eventually, private radio started making its way around the country. Now, the NZBC later Radio New Zealand started lifting their game in response, and there was not a lot of networked radio on those commercial stations in the early days when I was listening, so that meant there were a lot of radio stations to listen to.
I know having talked to people about radio in the United States, where they have a lot of radio stations, the same was also true, maybe less so I’m not sure where you can tune around the dial and really get different things. Whereas today, it might not be so easy to get different products because so much has networked anyway, and this was all on AM. We didn’t have our first full-time legal FM radio station in New Zealand until 1983, that’s how much of a backwater we were back then, a very regulated backwater. This was all happening on AM.
Another big difference of that time was that there was much less interference. These days, there’s so much electronic equipment, so much computer equipment that makes it difficult to do long-distance listening on AM radio. The biggest problem I remember having was the TV, and I used to really look forward to mum and dad going to bed, and then the TV would get switched off and the reception would clear up considerably.
You could listen to different programs from all around New Zealand, but you could also get the Australian radio stations and even stations from Fiji. On a particularly good day, you could even get a station from American Samoa. All of this overseas listening was aided by the fact that until 1980 at midnight, the commercial radio stations would close down, at least the government-owned ones, the private ones would go 24/7, but there weren’t that many of those. All the government commercial stations would faithfully shut down at midnight, and they would switch off their transmitters so the band was completely clear.
If you were a blind person with non-24 [chuckles] like me, you could then listen to radio from Australia really easily. I remember listening to 2BL in Sydney, to 4QR in Brisbane. A lot of Sydney stations 2CH, 2SM, 3AW I think we used to get. There are a lot of stations that would just booming in after midnight when the AM band was clear. It was a treasure trove of things to listen to, jingles and ads and magic things, and of course, with the long-distance stuff I used to listen to, it would all come through the static and somehow that would make it a little bit more magical knowing that it was coming from so far away.
I didn’t have any especially amazing equipment just like a Sanyo transistor radio, I think, and at one point a Panasonic transistor radio. I don’t recall us ever using an external antenna to bring these signals in. We did have a telescopic antenna, but I don’t know what difference that made on the AM band if any, but the stations came pouring in anyway. The other interesting feature of New Zealand radio in the 1970s and ’80s, and I was actually later part of a few of these, was that you used to be able to apply to the broadcasting tribunal, which was the authority in New Zealand that granted radio licenses to operate short term radio stations for specific purposes.
There was ample capacity on the band then, even in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city that these temporary radio stations would pop up. There were usually special frequencies allocated to the temporary stations 603 way down the bottom of the dial was one, 1404 was another one and that was the one that I used for my temporary radio station at the School for the Blind. You would look on these frequencies and you’d hear a carrier there that wasn’t there yesterday, or a test tone, or music playing and you’d think, “Oh, I wonder what this is.” They would use the temporary radio station system in New Zealand for all sorts of interesting things.
Sometimes it was for Māori Language Week. The University didn’t have a full-time radio station at that stage, so they might come on for orientation week, and then they might come back for capping week. I remember that the Seventh Day Adventists used to run a radio station that popped up over the summer, from time to time, all sorts of really interesting ideas. We have these rural field days that go on at a place called Mystery Creek and Hamilton. They would have a temporary radio station actually broadcasting from there so that the farmers knew what was going on and what to visit, they used to call it Radio With Boots On, I remember. That would broadcast on 855 kilohertz from Hamilton.
The radio geek in me loved listening to the testing, just how did a radio station come to be. If you’ve listened to me launching some of the internet radio initiatives I’ve been a part of over the years, you will know I love a good radio launch, I really do. That’s where my love of that comes from, is listening to these stations, testing, and starting. Of course, if you’ve got a permanent radio station testing and starting, that was really huge and exciting. I remember with a lot of fondness, the start of the FM radio stations in 1983. Before those FM radio stations started, we got pirates on FM.
These were land-based pirates who were trying to beat to the radio inspectors, they would switch off and relocate and switch back on again. As kids, we loved those FM pirates, the pristine sound for the illegality of it, the being on the edge, and it was just amazing. You’d tune into the FM band, scan around, we had a lot of taxis on it in those days. I think they cleared 88 to 94 megahertz initially for potential broadcast at some future point and that’s where you’d go and tune. The rest of it was full of taxis and radiotelephones and things. They eventually cleared the band obviously so that’s the full band could be used for FM broadcasts.
That was what New Zealand was like, listening with the transistor radio, sometimes with a little earphone in your ear, or sometimes under the pillow. I haven’t even got onto the shortwave stuff. That was what we would do to listen to domestic radio. I do remember, one night in the 1980s when the government-owned commercial radio stations had gone 24/7 and one night, a whole bunch of them went off. There was some weird thing that went wrong with their automated programming of the transmitters, and at about 12:05, the local one I was listening to went off, that would have been 1ZB and I thought, “That’s not supposed to be off.” Then when I tuned around, they were all gone.
I actually made a phone call to Wellington where the network thing by then was broadcasting from and I said, “Do you realize that a whole lot of your stations are off the air?” Anyway, I’m just a kid calling and they didn’t believe me. They said, “Oh, you must have something wrong with your radio.” I said, “I can confirm that this problem is on 1ZB in Auckland and 1ZH in Hamilton and 1ZO Tokoroa and 1ZU in Taumarunui, and I gave them this big list of call letters and frequencies where it’s not happening and I said, “You see, I have actually checked very carefully.” They said, “Oh, [chuckles] you really do know what you’re talking about.”
They eventually got it fixed. That’s the radio nerd that I was. I suspect anyway, like many blind people, I used to often call the broadcasters, especially on the commercial radio stations where at night time and in the weekends, they would probably be the only person in the building, perhaps a newsreader. They’d be sitting there, they’d be playing their own music. This wasn’t a talk show. They never put me to air, very seldom anyway, not on this format, I would just call to say hello to them and talk about radio and stuff like that. They’d chat to me between records and then they’d say, “Hang on Jonathan.” They’d put me on hold and do their voice break, and come back and keep chatting. I got to talk to a lot of broadcasters that way and I suspect a lot of us did that.
Those are just a few of my radio memories. It’s a fun thing to talk about and I’ve been thinking about it a lot, especially since we are about to launch, relaunch, resurrect this iconic Small World show that’s meant so much to so many New Zealanders. Also because I found a YouTube channel called The Radio Vault, which is full of New Zealand radio airchecks.
It was wonderful to hear voices that I haven’t heard for ages and remember names I’d forgotten about, all good stuff, remembering these things.
Peter: Hi Jonathan and Mosen At Largers’. It’s Peter from Robin Hood County. When I was a child, it was a radio under the pillow. I was at school and I used to have a discreet earpiece, and I would listen to stations, sometimes late into the night. I used to love mediumwave, where some of the stations were mix together and you’d try and imagine where all these foreign countries were. Most of the stations in our country improved a lot during the ’60s, when pirate radio came, Radio London, Caroline 390, Radio Veronica, those kinds of things.
Whilst the Americans had some very good radio shows in the ’40s and ’50s, I think, in merry old England here it was our turn in the ’60s with great luminaries like John Peel, Kenny Everett, Jack Jackson, Alan Freeman, to name but a few. I used to like all their shows. Even in the ’80s, we had a couple of good DJs. I had a friend who worked at Radio Trent, who’s no longer with us now called John Shaw and he was always playing alternative music. During late nights in the ’60s, around 1967 to ’69, I used to listen to a guy called John Curl and he used to have a lot of alternative music.
You’d hear stuff like Captain Beefheart, Dean Friedman, Kevin Coyne, those kinds of people, Frank Zappa even, musicians that may not be popular for some of you. I used to have to listen to American Forces Network when I could pick it up so I could get my dose of Bessie Smith, Lazy Lester, and somehow because I was a great lover of blues, and also, King Oliver, fantastic jazz musician King Oliver was. If you’ve not heard King Oliver, you’ve not lived. You can tap your feet to most of his stuff. That was in the ’20s.
In the early ’60s, in the daytime, radio in our country was a bit iffy. We had some good comedy programs such as The Clitheroe Kid, Round the Horne, Hancock’s Half Hour, and Beyond Our Ken. Even things like Ken Dodd, and a great genius in the ’70s Les Dawson. Some of those shows are repeated now on BBC Radio for extra, which you can get through BBC sounds should you live abroad. Some of the American programs I used to listen to when I could get them were mostly on vinyl because I couldn’t pick up the stations. I would listen to The Bickersons, The Whistler, Johnny dollar, that was another one for you, those kinds of programs.
I have long, fond memories of radio and I’m afraid today’s radio is very, very sanitized. You have to pick and choose the sort of music you want to listen to. For speech now, it’s Radio 4 Extra, Radio 5 live for my sport, and for music is BBC 6 Music, for the most part, because I do like my rock music. Being an old dude now, I’m a 70-year-old dude now. I just don’t have the long hair anymore. It would look a bit silly, wouldn’t it? A bloke with white hair and a ponytail.
Jonathan: You’re only as young as you feel Pete. So many wonderful memories I could comment on there but the first thing I would say is that I hope you might add both Mushroom FM and Mushroom Escape to your repertoire of listening pleasures because we have a show on Mushroom FM you would love it’s called Juke in the Back. It’s hosted from an inn in Massachusetts by a guy called Matt The Cat and this is all rhythm and blues before rock and roll and it’s wonderful. Man, am I getting an education by listening to Matt The Cat. Do check out when it’s on in your timezone on the Mushroom FM schedule page. If you like your blues, you will love the Juke in the Back show that we play on mushroom FM.
Also, over on Mushroom Escape, we are playing a number of those British and American shows. We got a lot of those British shows on our public broadcaster here, and they’re repeated on many occasions. I remember with a lot of fondness, The Clitheroe Kid, Hancock’s Half Hour, Round the Horne, gosh Rambling Syd Rumpo and Julian and Sandy were my favorite bits on Round the Horne. Steptoe and Son, Dad’s Army, The men from the ministry, The Navy Lark, all of that, wonderful but of course, the pinnacle of them all was The Goon Show.
It’s amazing to me in Australia and New Zealand and Britain, certainly, there is a real inculcation of the goons into blindness culture, especially if you’re of a certain age, the goons are wonderful. I still enjoy dipping into my extensive Goon Show collection and we play the goons on Mushroom Escape as well. As for Radio London and Kenny Everett, it is my somewhat bold and contentious view that Kenny Everett is the best broadcaster who has ever walked this great earth. I also think that Radio London was the best commercial radio station I have ever heard air checks of. Because what they did was they got the formula from KLIF in Dallas, and they were funded by the Texas millionaire dude who was involved in runningKLIF. They took that formula and they turned it into something that English people would listen to. it’s got that English class about it, but it’s got the pace, it’s got the PAMs, jingles. Radio London was just fantastic. Radio London was it. I always thought Tony Blackburn was a very smart man for jumping ship, almost literally, and going from Radio Caroline to Radio London. Wow, what a great station that was.
Grace: Hello Jonathan. It’s Grace here. The radio programs I used to love listening to included The Clitheroe Kid, I liked that, I liked Round the Horne, I liked Beyond Our Ken, and I liked, [chuckles] believe it or not Mrs Dale’s Diary I remember my mum used to listen to that. Also, there was a serial called Wagner’s Walk. That brings back a lot of memories too. Sometimes when we were at school, in the dormitory at night, we used to listen to the plays on the radio. We used to get good ones like Saturday Night Theatre.
Jonathan: That’s another one that you can hear on Mushroom Escape these days. Thank you, Grace. This is another area where the US and the UK really diverged dramatically in the 1960s because a lot of radio drama disappeared from the American airwaves, but the BBC still do great radio drama. It’s well-produced, well-mixed, sounds fantastic. Maribel is writing in with an Australian perspective, but it’s on British Radio. She says that radio played a significant role in my life during 1978, in particular.
In that year I was sent to the UK from Australia to undergo a health treatment for my eyes. It was quite a rigorous treatment. To escape the torment of it all, I turned to the radio Capitol Radio 104 played the Kenny Everett show every Saturday morning. It was so hilarious and silly. I would record the shows onto a cassette tape. Remember that ancient technology? She says, and re-listen over and over again to help me cope with the treatment.
I still have a couple of those cassettes to this day. Please give a shout out to my friend, Roger, in Kendall, who I met at the time. He is a keen Mosen and radio fan too. Oh, that’s nice. Thank you, Maribel. You know what, I would love it if you could digitize those Kenny Everett cassettes for me. I am a collector of Kenny Everett airchecks. I’ve got a lot of them. As I say, I think Kenny Everett was the best broadcaster to have ever walked this great earth. I’m not surprised that he helped you through a difficult time. He was an absolute genius.
Carolyn: Hi Jonathan. I wanted to give you my memories of radio here in New Zealand and in particular from my childhood. You will remember Merv Smith as the host of the breakfast show here on what was in those days, 1ZB. In the mornings on the breakfast show, he had a character called McHairy, which was a spider that lived up in the archives and bits and pieces in the studio. McHairy would come down and talk to Merv and have a bit of banter with Merv every morning before the 8:00 AM news.
Now, when I started going to Homai the blind school, the bus that used to arrive to pick me up as a day pupil used to come just before eight to 8:00 AM. It was always around the time when McHairy was on. We got frustrated with this because there was not only myself and my brother being picked up at my house but three other kids. There was five of us. We said we’re not coming out to the bus until we finished listening to McHairy.
In those days, our school bus driver was RossMcKenzie. One of the teachers out there atHomai, and he was a bit of a character too and he figured, “Oh, well, I’m not going to win this fight.” He offloaded all the kids on the bus into my mum’s kitchen. In those days, our big radio cassette player that dad proudly acquired from a friend who went to Norfolk Island sat on top of the refrigerator. All the kids would gather in mum’s kitchen around the fridge and listen to Merv Smith and McHairy. Then once he was finished and the eight o’clock news came on, we’d all pile out back on the school bus, and off we’d go to school.
I had the reputation for holding up the school bus. Now, Merv Smith also became very heavily involved in other areas within the blind community. I well remember him probably being one of the first audio describers of the Santa parade for us kids. Then Merv’s typical naughty style would get a little bit naughty and a little bit rude sometimes with his descriptions of some of the characters and some of the things in the parade, which just made it really fun for us kids. Also, he was a great narrator of a lot of books and our talking book library here in New Zealand, and several times over won the narrator of the year.
Because of all of his efforts over the years, blind citizens New Zealand, Auckland branch had the privilege of giving Merv 12 months before he died, the Blind Bit of Difference award. Him and his wife came to our Christmas function here in Auckland, and I was given the privilege of presenting that award to him and telling him the story about how I was responsible for making the bus from West Auckland almost be late to school every morning, [laughs] which he thoroughly enjoyed.
I just thought I would share, that’s one of my very, very special memories about early radio in New Zealand. I thought I would leave it to you to talk about how you were on radio before you even start at school.
Jonathan: Oh yes. I tell you the public have put up with a lot, haven’t they? Thank you so much for those memories, Carolyn. Merv Smith was a wonderful broadcaster. Not just a broadcaster, as you say, he narrated talking books, he voiced many brilliant commercials. He even read children’s stories on commercial audiobooks in New Zealand. I know that some of his Harry Potter readings have made it international thanks to the Marrakesh treaty. He’s gone global with some of his talking books.
McHairy was a very much looked forward to and loved feature for adults and kids alike just before the eight o’clock news. He used to ring the school bell and then he’d sometimes read birthday messages for kids and all kinds of things. McHairy lived in the air conditioning duct at broadcasting house and would come down– When he did, Merv would go [whistling] as McHairy, the Scottish spider arrived.
Interestingly, he did that show, the breakfast show on 1ZB until 1ZB changed to a news-talk format in 1987. He did that show for 25 years and he was surplus to requirements as a result of their change of formats. He was very much sought after and quickly snapped up a job on Radio I actually, where Small World started. By 1987, people were quite corporate in New Zealand. Radio New Zealand said to Merv, “You can’t use McHairy on Radio I. We’ve decided that McHairy is a trademark of Radio New Zealand.” He had to invent another spider when he went to Radio I, and they called that spider Paddy Long Legs and that was fun too. Paddy Long Legs had an Irish accent instead of a Scottish one.
I have to say, when I went into commercial radio full time, Merv was incredibly supportive of me, always encouraging. He came out to our radio station that we ran at the School for the Blind and did a great couple of shows there. You mentioned the description of the Christmas parades that used to be held in conjunction with farmers. The big department store in Hobson Street in Auckland. We used to go there in the ’70s at least. It probably went into the ’80s.
Now that I think about it, that was an incredibly progressive idea for its time. Essentially what happened is they would put the blind kids in the special place on the rooftop of farmers and they would have a radio personality of the day. People like Merv Smith giving audio descriptions of the parade. How really cool was that now that I think about it? They used to take us to a party afterward as well where we would get all sorts of special toys for Christmas.
May Thompson: Hi, Jonathan, two things to talk about. First about the radio. My first memory of a radio station was in my mom and dad’s house, there was an old, old program on their big radiogram, or it was a big radio they had anyway, and it was called the McFlannels and it was on a Saturday night on BBC Scotland. It was about this Scottish family and it must’ve been way in the early ’50s.
Then I remember listening to Scottish dance music on a Saturday night. I also remember later on listening to The Archers I must have been 8 or 9 although I didn’t follow it, but I remember hearing it at school. I remember listening to Clitheroe Kid. When we were in our bed, when we were ill at school and we had to be in our bed, I remember listening to BBC Schools, Singing Together that’s it, Singing Together. Then there was a keep fit one as well and there was a science program as well. I remember listening to Housewives’ Choice, Music While You Work. I remember actually one time, probably once or twice pretending to be ill at school so that I could hear the BBC Schools programs. I remember that.
I remember we would all be in the dormitory listening to The Saturday Night Play and there would be a play on a Monday night as well. They would both last for an hour and a half. We would all be listening to the same play but all had same radios. Number two, this is what I wanted to talk about. I am really annoyed because I sent a review to the app developer of Global Player and I see there’s one or two blind people have done the same.
I wrote this way back in April and I just got a response yesterday saying and they said to the other blind people as well, “Perhaps if you speak to our customer services, they can talk you through how to work it, we could talk you through it.” I thought they haven’t got a clue. We’re saying the app isn’t accessible and then they’re turning around and saying, “If you contact us, we can talk you through it.” How can they? They wouldn’t have a clue.
That has annoyed me. Do you know what? Watch this space. I’m getting very good at advocacy becauseITV, I’ve already told them that they don’t have audio description on the app and I’m annoyed that the ITV hub has got it and the BBC iplayer has got it and they keep fobbing you off and saying, “Yes, we’re hoping to do it by the end of the year.” I got in touch with RNIB IB Scotland, but they put me in touch with the English RNIB. I would have thought it’d be an RNIB Scotland thing, but I’ve never heard back from the RNIB because I thought they would maybe help as well to put my case, but they don’t seem bothered at all.
Jonathan: That’s May Thompson getting in touch. Thank you, May. First, on your radio comments, I’m very proud of the fact that over the years that I’ve been doing various internet radio things, and that is about 22 and a half years now, I have encouraged many Americans to listen to The Archers because The Archers are still going. This is a BBC radio drama that started in 1951 and it’s still going. In fact, one of the characters is played by an actress who is 102 years old. She turned 102 on June the 14th, and she was in it when it started in 1951.
The thing you can do with a long-running series like that is develop storylines in real life. There are issues coming to the fore now relating to the death of a major character in the 1970s who died of alcoholism. Because there’s an alcoholism story running in The Archers at the moment, new information is coming to light. The whole current alcoholism story that they are running has taken years to come to a crescendo. That’s what you can do when you know you’ve got a drama that’s just going to run and run.
You can get The Archers in podcast form as well, actually, in two podcasts forms. You can get the weekly episode known as the omnibus, where they stitch all the episodes together, or you can get the episodes as they’re released. Normally, there are six episodes of The Archers every week and they run about 13 minutes but because of the pandemic, they’ve taken production down to four, but they hope to ramp it up to the full six again, soon. Many of us cannot wait for that to happen. It’s been a long year.
They even went through a phase where during the pandemic, they did these monologues where you got to see into the heads of some of the characters. Pretty hard going, I have to say, but they’re back on track now. We used to get The Archers in New Zealand and on the commercial radio station, one of the ones we’ve been talking about here, actually 1ZB, I can remember my mum having The Archers on, and it would come on just after 3:00 in the afternoon, I believe. The Archers would be on in that familiar signature theme. Then the omnibus would be on the non-commercial station, what we called the national program in those days on a Thursday night.
The Archers are actually responsible for my first formal advocacy because, in 1982, the BBC transcription service decided that they were going to put up the price of sending The Archers to New Zealand. Radio New Zealand said, “We’re not going to pay this.” They announced that The Archers‘ run on Radio New Zealand was going to finish. I was devastated as were actually quite a lot of blind people.
I wrote to the minister of broadcasting. Now, in retrospect, I know that the minister of broadcasting does not have any control over operational matters, over what they choose to put on the radio, and he wrote back and told me that. I got out the typewriter and I learned how to write a letter to parliament and I wrote it very respectfully and talked about how much The Archers meant to us and sent it off. I got a reply from the minister of broadcasting, and that was quite an exciting moment in our lives because, in my family, we didn’t usually get letters in the post from a government minister.
I was able to keep up with The Archers and now it’s on the internet. Then May Segwayed of course into comments about modern ways that we listen to radio. It’s through apps like the Global Player. Global Media is a company that looks after a lot of the independent radio stations in the United Kingdom and there are accessibility problems with that. I believe you have a Sonos device, May, and you can add Global to Sonos and it’s accessible there, but you don’t always want to listen on Sonos. You might be out and about. I’m not in any way saying that that is a satisfactory workaround, but it might help you in certain situations.
Fight the good fight. You’ve got to advocate for these things. I don’t know what legislative protections you might have in the United Kingdom. I don’t know whether Global might be breaking any laws by not making their app accessible, whether ITV might be breaking any laws by not including audio description on their app, but good on you for advocating because if you don’t, nothing will change. Keep us posted.
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Jonathan: This email says, “Hello, Jonathan, this is Ross Wonitsky, writing to you from a small rural city where I live in New Mexico in the United States. I am 74 years old and have been totally blind for 20 years. I believe I recall you saying you have non-24 sleep-wake disorder. Although I have not yet been clinically diagnosed, I believe I also have that disorder. I have not slept well for many years, and recently it has worsened. Over the past few years, my anxiety and depression have worsened, and I now believe that those feelings were exacerbated by non-24.
I think I was in some denial because I have known about this disorder, however, would not accept that I had it. About four days ago, my anxiety and depression was so high that I knew I had to do something. I started researching non-24 and it really fit for me. For quite a while, there have been periods where I slept fairly well. However, more frequently, I would be exhausted, fall into bed to a deep sleep, only to wake up in two hours also feeling wide awake. I would read or listen to podcasts, Mosen At Large, of course, he says, while dozing for a few hours and then waking again.
I have scheduled an appointment with my sleep doctor but cannot get in to see her for about three weeks from now. Without any real knowledge of how to do this, I am now experimenting with melatonin. I started with one milligram for two nights, slept fabulously, and then had another night which was not as good. Tonight, I am going to try 0.5 milligrams to see how that works. In the past when I took melatonin, I remember having some really bad nightmares, I am hoping that will not happen. I would really appreciate if you could share some of your knowledge and experiences of non-24.
I have so many questions in my mind such as, how will this affect my social life? Will it progress? Will I always be tired? Will I be able to go to concerts again, providing the pandemic will allow for concerts? I realize non-24 shows up with different symptoms for different people. Nonetheless, I would appreciate you sharing some of your experiences and knowledge. Thank you in advance for any thoughts you might be able to share.”
Thank you very much, Ross. I’m sorry, this is getting you down to the extent that it is, it can be a real problem. Obviously, I’m not qualified to give medical advice but I am qualified to tell you what I have experienced myself and what I’ve learned from research. The first thing I would say is that you might like to search for and subscribe to The Blind Side Podcast, which is the podcast that I ran between about 2016 and 2019, I think it was and all those old episodes are still available. If you search for The Blind Side, there are several podcasts called that, but obviously, the one you want is the one hosted by me.
In The Blind Side archives, you will find an interview with Professor Steven Lockley. He has spent a good chunk of his career researching non-24 particularly as it affects blind people. I first interviewed Steven back on ACB Radio when I was doing Blind Blind so I thought it’s about time we got an update from him. It was a very informative discussion that may help you a lot.
The second thing I would say is that at age 74, you may or may not be experiencing non-24, but typically as you get older it can be harder to maintain sleep, and for whatever reason people, as they get older, find that they are sleeping less. That could be a contributing factor in your situation as well. I definitely have non-24, I’ve experienced it at different times in my life. I’m totally blind, have been since birth, and as a child, it used to affect me really badly. I can remember listening to lots of great radio, midnight to dawn radio, there was actually some good stuff back then to listen to on the radio, just not being able to sleep. Then of course I would have to go to school.
I remember sometimes I would doze off with my head on my Perkins Brailler. One day the teacher asked me a question while I had my head on my Perkins Brailler dozed off and I didn’t answer. She walked over with a ruler and whacks the ruler on the desk, right beside me, boy did I jump a mile. Hopefully these days there’s more understanding of what non-24 is and how it might affect children.
My parents used to tell the story of my older brother who’s 15 years older than me and also blind and how as a baby, he used to just get on his rocking horse in the middle of the night. Nobody, of course in the 1950s knew about non-24 and what was going on. It was quite difficult, I think for a lot of blind children, who often were castigated, berated for sleeping at the wrong time when it was actually nothing that they could help.
I think it can get worse as you become a teenager as well because there’s a lot going on then. I do remember one particular day when I just couldn’t face going to school. I was just so tired, I couldn’t face it and I was in big trouble for that but it’s not a very well understood thing. I’m not sure how well understood it is even now. In that Blind Side interview, Steven Lockley does talk about how you can use him as a resource if you go to a doctor for help, and the doctor is not informed about non-24 and its effects.
The whole thing is caused, of course, by the fact that your circadian rhythm is not keeping a regular 24-hour cycle. What happens is that you’re okay for a while but gradually, your cycle goes off-kilter from that 24-hour cycle so you get out of phase, and this is where melatonin is supposed to help. What happens is that when the sun goes down, that sends a signal to your pineal gland to start producing melatonin. If your body can’t see, if your brain doesn’t know that the sun is going down, then that signal isn’t sent to produce the melatonin and it’s the melatonin that can make you drowsy. That’s the theory behind it.
I take about 2.5 milligrams of melatonin, I’m not sure if that’s too much, or whatever. I have experienced the vivid dreams that come with melatonin, they can be quite lively. I think I’ve become a little bit more used to them over the years that I’ve taken melatonin. I did go through quite a long period where I didn’t bother to take melatonin and I just let my cycle do what it wanted to do. That’s because I spent a very long time working for companies offshore and those companies were pretty relaxed about when I delivered my deliverables with the exception of meetings that I had to attend.
Usually, those companies were quite considerate in their trying to make a time later in their day, which was earlier in mine. If it turned out that I was up at one or two in the morning, then so were my colleagues and I could get work done and just crash when I needed to crash and that worked really well. Now, obviously, that situation changed for me significantly in 2019 when I became chief executive of a national organization here in New Zealand, and I need to be there, I need to be alert, and sprightly nine to five at least. I’ve been doing a lot of work on this.
I do take the melatonin regularly, pretty much nightly, but I’ve also done a lot of reading on current sleep research. What I have found is that exercise makes a really big difference. I was pretty good at exercising before this but I have a routine now. I do 30 minutes on my treadmill when I get up in the morning and then I do strength training in the evening. The strength training perks me up enough to hopefully stay awake and stay in sync until it’s bedtime. I’m not trying to suggest that I’ve completely cured non-24 and I’m certainly not suggesting that I have a good night’s sleep every time, but I am saying that I’m sleeping better now than I ever have.
There are nights when you toss and turn and part of it, I think is just being in the role that I’m in. Sometimes you got worries, man you got big worries but I’m doing much better.
What I found is the secret for me apart from maintaining that exercise regimen, which really does help me is to be really consistent, it takes a lot of discipline to do this. Because I get up at five in the morning, I’m in bed by about 8:30, which sounds very boring, I realize. Obviously, I’ll make an exception if we’re going out to dinner or a concert or something. Usually, I’m in bed by 8:30 and it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is. My alarm goes off at 5:00 AM and I get up. I even do that on Saturdays and Sundays. I have to do that on Sunday anyway because Mosen At Large is on live at 6:00 AM on a Sunday morning, my time.
The consistency has really helped me. I think that we often think of sleeping in as this great luxury in a treat. There’s nothing worse for those of us with non-24 than thinking that we’re treating ourselves by sleeping in. If you can establish a ritual before bed, I like a nice hot bath, it seems to really help me and I take my melatonin and I wind down. That really does help as well. I also put on, usually, a hypnosis or a sleep-based meditation and drift off to sleep with it, I really find that helpful.
Now, there are times when I do wake up in the night and then I have to make a decision, I do use sometimes hypnosis and meditations then to get back to sleep. Sometimes it works and it’s working a lot more in my life now than it ever has and other times it does not work, particularly if I have things that are occupying my brain and as soon as I wake up, I’m thinking about them. Sometimes I still just have to accept, “Okay, I am unlikely to get back to sleep.”
If it’s three the morning and I’m set to wake up at five, it’s not actually that big a deal. The trick is then though, to just make yourself stay awake until it’s bedtime and you can usually get back into sync again. There are a lot of people who have sleep issues who don’t have non-24. These techniques can apply to all of us.
Other things that may have contributed to my improved sleep quality include what I’m eating. I’m really careful about what I eat. I’m eating a low-carb, ketogenic diet. I definitely think that that has helped a lot. The big one is giving up alcohol. When I got into my meditation practice, I just found that alcohol interfered with that. I gave it up and that has improved the quality of my sleep immeasurably.
I will refer once again to a book that I talked about some months ago on this podcast called Breath. It’s by James Nestor, N-E S-T-O-R. The whole thesis behind his book is that we are causing ourselves a lot of damage by breathing through our mouths, that whenever possible we should breathe through our nose. I actually find that it’s still quite hard to do that when speaking, but I do it successfully all the time now when I’m not speaking. When I’m just working away, I’m breathing through my nose, not through my mouth anymore. It’s amazing how much better you feel doing that. Apparently, there are all sorts of health benefits. He goes into some detail in his book called Breath.
Now, the reason why I’m talking about this in the context of sleep is that he talks about these mouth strips. You can buy them from Amazon. The idea behind them is that you close your mouth when you’re ready to go to sleep, you put one of these mouth strips over your mouth, so it’s impossible to breathe through your mouth when you’re asleep. The quality of my sleep has definitely improved in the sense that when I wake up, I feel a lot more refreshed than I did before. There is no doubt though, that non-24 adds a horrible, difficult variable. There is a drug in the United States, which we don’t have access to, which is specifically designed for non-24. It’s made by Vanda Pharmaceuticals. It got a lot of publicity a few years ago. I did hear from blind people who I respect and trust that it made a big difference to their lives, so it’s possible that you may be able to access that.
I also find that eating relatively early is a good idea as well. I try to have eaten by 5:30 or 6:00 because I’m in bed quite early because I like to start early. You know what they say, early to rise and likewise to bed makes a man healthy, but socially dead. Just a couple of more things weighted blankets. I read about weighted blankets somewhere on a tech publication of all things. When I read about it, I thought this has got to be a fad, but I researched it and it turns out there is some pretty good science behind this. Weighted blankets are really exactly as they sound. They are blankets that are very heavy. What makes them heavy is usually there’s a lot of tiny glass beads sealed inside the blanket. It’s a very heavy what we would call a duvet, in America I think they call them a comforter. It makes you feel very snugly.
One of the key use cases for weighted blankets is apparently it can help people who are dealing with anxiety. Parents give kids with anxiety or some issues of that nature weighted blankets and they say there is an appreciable difference. It can also help you stay asleep. We got a weighted blanket a couple of years ago, we absolutely love ours. It really does seem to make a difference. The only trouble is it makes you more reluctant to get out of bed in the morning because it just feels so encompassing and nice. They’re not cheap, but they may be worth it if you want to invest in the quality of your sleep.
All these things just seem to have helped. I’m really pleased with how I’m sleeping these days overall, so progress, progress. Whether we have non-24 or whether we don’t though getting a good night’s sleep is an issue for many of us. If you have any tips or tricks to share on the subject, then please do share them. It’ll be a great discussion.
Multiple: Mosen at Large Podcast.
Jonathan: As the old saying goes, be wary of what you hear from politicians and Microsoft officials. I’m not sure if that is an old saying, but it could well be a saying that gains some credence in the future because Microsoft has said for a long time now that Windows 10 will be the last version of Windows. Even if you ask Cortana if you happen to have it, whether Windows 11 is real it references an old answer off the web somewhere that says that Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, but that is not the case.
I have deliberately not been reporting on all the Windows 11 speculation on the show because we tend to be quite careful about what we report on. I was pretty convinced that Microsoft could be believed, and that this Windows 11 thing was just a lot of hype that would amount to nothing and that what we would end up with is a new version of Windows 10. That is clearly not the case.
We know this because there is a new build of Windows 11 that some naughty person has leaked out into the web. I don’t know anybody with accessibility creds who’ve installed this. If you have installed the Windows 11 build, and you can report on any accessibility changes, then that would be good intel to have, but that unofficial build of Windows 11 proves categorically that it is real, it is happening. Microsoft’s going to be telling us all about Windows 11 at a special event on June the 24th, that is going to be streamed. It begins at 11:00 AM Eastern Time, which means it’s 3:00 AM in New Zealand. Oh my Word and oh my Excel and oh my Outlook and oh my PowerPoint, that’s early.
We know that there’s going to be a new start menu in Windows 11. We know that visually Windows 11 is going to look quite different, but we don’t know too much more at this stage. As I said in the announcement that I sent out to the media list and you’re on that, right?. So that you know what we’re talking about ahead of the show, and you can contribute ahead of the show if you want to. As I said on that list, I’m interested in finding out what you would like to see in Windows 11.
I use Windows a lot, I’m sitting here every day. I’m producing audio in Windows. I’m doing a lot of my work in Windows, so it plays a big part in my life. Yet, for some reason, I can’t get as excited about a new version of the Windows operating system as I do about iOS. Perhaps that’s because I feel like iOS is evolving and adding meaningful features and Windows just hasn’t for a long time. I can’t really think the last time Windows added something in one of these updates that I use every day and that has really made a difference to my life. Perhaps Windows 11 will change that.
I don’t have an orderly constructed top 10 list, but I do have a few things that spring out. The first one is I really hope that Windows 11 deals with its audio issues. Audio in Windows is so far behind Mac. It ain’t even close and that’s really frustrating. One of the biggest issues that many of us have is this business where audio hibernates very quickly, which means that when you’re using a screen reader if you press a key, you missed the first few keystrokes that you press while the audio wakes up. JAWS has a feature built-in that seeks to get around this by sending silence out. There is a third-party tool that will send silence to keep the audio interface awake, so you don’t get this hibernation. This seems to be particularly a problem on real tech devices. Real tech devices are ubiquitous in Windows.
I feel like there’s a lot of inconsistency about the user interface of Windows. When you use a Mac application, it’s really consistent. You can go to the menu bar, you know that there will be a pretty consistent set of options in the menu bar and you know that menu bars work the same way on any application. Now, the difference probably is when you’re running iOS applications, I accept that, but if you’re running an application built for Mac, they’re pretty consistent in their menu structure.
With Windows, you’ve got the old menu system, which I personally prefer. You’ve got the Microsoft ribbon, which I detest. It’s not that I don’t know how to use it, I just find it clunky and wieldy horrible. If I could go back to the user interface of Office, what was it? 2010 was the last one, maybe that had the menu bar? I would love to do that if I could keep all the features that I now have in the current office.
I must not be the only one and it must not be a blindness thing because I see that Microsoft now offers a simplified ribbon in Office. Maybe a lot of people just don’t like the ribbon. Can we just have a consistent menu-based interface back? Unfortunately, you’ve got another kind of interface. That’s when you go into an app like Microsoft Teams that doesn’t even have a menu bar. What that all means is that Windows is a mishmash, a hodgepodge of user interfaces, depending on the application you are using. I can only imagine how difficult it is for somebody learning Windows today, starting from scratch. It’s not so bad for those of us who started a long time ago and have seen this inconsistency occur incrementally. It must be tough for people learning, trying to contend with different user interfaces depending on the application that they are using. Let’s get some consistency back in Windows. Narrator is going to be an interesting one, to see what’s there. Are we going to get scripting in Narrator for Windows 11? If the Windows 11 Narrator does that, boy, that is going to be a bit of a game-changer in the assistive technology industry. We have seen Narrator becoming increasingly capable over time and it may be that the jump from 10 to 11 will be an excuse for the accessibility team to roll out something really spectacular with Narrator. I am now of the view that there are people who can get by just with Narrator.
It is attractive, obviously, that you can walk up to any computer, press windows control enter, and make it talk and make it talk quite well. If they continue to build on what they’ve started, they’ve got some pretty capable people working on that screen reader now. They add scripting so that people can be more efficient or work with difficult applications. Well, watch the space. That could be very interesting.
Comments now on a range of topics that we’ve been talking about today from Christopher Wright, who says, “I didn’t grow up in the golden age of radio, but I like a few of the old shows. In particular, I enjoy Baby Snooks, X Minus One, and Dimension X.” Love those last two, Christopher they are fantastic sci-fi shows. He says, “I have no interest in any of the other programming that was popular during that time.” Well, maybe you haven’t heard it all. That’s a possibility. Maybe you haven’t. He says, “In the modern era, I didn’t pay attention to the radio because it’s full of crummy music and lots of advertisements for crap I never need or want.”
“The medium itself is however extremely fascinating. I enjoy the modern audio dramas, including We’re Alive, which is a zombie story that’s not your typical zombie survival story, and The Lithium Chronicles which focuses on a group of Immortals as they try to survive. Since these are made with much better audio equipment they sound amazing. I’ve thought about looking into ham radios, but I don’t know what I talk about and I don’t have the motivation to go through the song and dance to get licensed. Internet radio has captured my imagination because it’s higher quality and can be broadcast all over the world.”
“On the other hand, I appreciate the ability to talk back and forth using nothing more than the airwaves. I used to have a police scanner that would let me listen to all sorts of broadcasts but now that I can do it with the internet, I don’t use it anymore. Based on what I’ve read, and see we are getting back to Windows 11, which is why I held this message, Windows 11 if that’s even the name they’re using is going to be a minor visual overhaul. Hopefully, it’s a free upgrade for existing Windows users. At this point, maybe it should simply be called Windows.”
“As for Narrator, I hope it continues to evolve. It’s getting more and more viable as a daily driver but I’d like additional capabilities to be added, including remote desktop support, a pronunciation dictionary, better Braille support that’s built-in expanded verbosity settings, and more. I’m still celebrating the support for the Windows Installer, pre-installation environment, and safe mode. There is a bug in the current version of Windows when Narrator won’t work with the advanced startup option menu, but that should be fixed in 20H2 or Windows 11 if that ends up replacing it in October.”
Derry Lawler from Ireland writes, “Hi Jonathan. I hope you’re well. I do love your weekly podcast and never miss it. Since you now transmit on Clubhouse, I feel like I am actually part of the show. Windows 11, yes, I hoped and thought that was it for Windows just let the features get better. I am enjoying my experience of using Windows but not looking forward to seeing what will be broken in the next update. I do not use Narrator only when in remote desktop when JAWS sometimes rarely stops speaking. It would be nice if there was more Braille support built-in.”
Non24. “This year I was sent for a sleep study. This is where they attach lots of sensors to your body and record how you sleep. They found that I have sleep apnea and I stopped breathing 25 times an hour. The consultants put me on a CPAP which stands for continuous positive airway pressure and is a mask on your face and keeps your airway open. I tried it for over five weeks and never slept. It brought me to the brink of insomnia and sleeping tablets were suggested. I decided with the consent of the consultant that this was ridiculous, and we stopped the treatment. He then said that I was carrying too much weight. I now do cardio exercises and that has helped.”
Thank you, Derry. Good luck with getting the sleeping sorted. Back to Windows 11 and Anil has his list of requests, one screen curtain. Now there is a sort of screen curtain in Narrator called Developer Mode, which you invoke by pressing Narrator with Ctrl and F12 and that blanks the screen other than the currently focused items, so not a complete screen curtain, but sort of one.
Number two, eloquence on Narrator as a default synthesizer, yes cue the applause. Three, say all text with sound scheme, four, cursor wrapping feature. “Coming to Windows 11,” he says, “It is good to have a radical user interface change. New startup sound used to be my requested feature, which seems to be addressed as per the leaked build. Now on to my COVID-19 experience,” he says, “I contracted COVID on the 18th of May 2021. As per my first symptoms, it started at night, when I felt a little bit of a block in my left nostril with sleeplessness. The next day, I noticed fatigue, a sore throat, a headache, and a little bit of a cough. The fatigue felt like you had a long journey.”
The other symptoms are only noticeable if I concentrate. The fatigue lasted for six hours. Other symptoms for two to three more days during my last symptomatic day on the 22nd of May 2021. A headache and sore throat was prominent, then it was all fine from the 23rd of May. I tested negative on the 31st of May. The positive thing for my COVID-19 is that I can wait for three months for a vaccine. Also, the expert committee recommended that the Government of India stop vaccination for people who previously had COVID-19, if it finalizes I am free from vaccination. The best thing is the COVID-19 did not have any impact on me as of now.”
Thank you for your email Anil, I’m really sorry to hear that you went through that but I’m thrilled that you seem to be through it. Okay, because clearly, COVID-19 can be fatal. I’m glad that it was a mild dose for you and that you’re doing okay. Look after yourself. Gino J is in touch and says, “I’m not surprised about Windows 11 being released. I just hope that Fusion, the magnifier/reader software that includes ZoomText and JAWS doesn’t become antiquated like ZoomText 11 did in just four years. How is anyone supposed to pay $2,300 for software that helps us stay employed.”
The Massachusetts Commission for the blind has been dragging their feet getting me the software and I just hope I can get it before the end of August when I moved to Ohio. As far as features in Windows 11 that I’d like to see, if they can add the same color filtering technologies, smart inverse they have in ZoomText to the Windows magnifier, I may forego trying to get Fusion as I don’t really need the speech output. It was just a luxury.” Thanks very much, Gino.
I feel pretty confident, not that I know but I’m pretty confident that now that the code base has been standardized so that Fusion can go ahead with the latest ZoomText and JAWS versions, I think that you should be in pretty good shape if you can keep your SMAs current for subsequent years.
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Jonathan: Onto iOS 15 matters, Will Lomas writes, “Hi Jonathan. I too have iOS 15 like you on my iPhone. Do we know please if focuses will also transition to the Apple Watch or for my experience of it goes to the watch still lets everything that comes through to phone, go to the Apple Watch? When I use a Focus do I just turn off Do Not Disturb to stop it for the day? I tried to set it for my work location, but it just doesn’t seem at present to work that well in letting me select the location-based setting so I set it on a timer. I am looking more in-depth into how this works, now I have heard your recent podcast.”
Thanks Will, I’m running watchOS 8 and I can confirm that Focus is available there, you can set the same focuses that you’ve set up on your phone on your watch when you have watchOS 8 installed. I’m not going to get into the weeds about any issues that may or may not be in the current beta, because really my purpose in raising this was just to preview what’s coming not to discuss the beta process while it’s happening. There are ways to feedback to Apple, if you’re finding issues there.
Michael: Good evening, Jonathan, and all Mosen At Large listeners. I just want to give people a warning about installing iOS 15 data on an iPhone 8 plus, don’t do it. Simply don’t, because I did it and my 8 plus went really, really bad. Everything slowed down completely, voiceover didn’t work properly. I was also told that that touch input to the screen was really, really slow and things just didn’t work at all. Or if they did, they were very, very slow.
Anyway. Cutting a long story short, the next day, because I had to wait a full day before I could go to a technology place and get my phone restored with iTunes, yes, if you use iTunes, iTunes will be able to restore your device to the latest publicly available software, which at the time of this recording is 14.6. That’s what happened. Now, everything is working fine. I also was looking at YouTube videos, saying they regretted installing iOS 15 beta.
Jonathan: Thank you, Michael. That’s Michael Chopra with a report on his experience with iOS developer beta 1. I want to say a couple of things about this. The first is that I do not intend to get into the weeds of bug reports, as I said, when Will got in touch during this iOS developer beta cycle. There is a way to report those bugs to Apple. When we’re in beta, we do expect bugs. If you find bugs, you can report them to Apple. The reason why I played this particular contribution is that it is a cautionary tale. iOS developer beta 1 is not even a public beta yet.
If you are installing this, you either have an Apple developer beta account, or someone has given you the file who shouldn’t have given you the file, you’ve got access to it. I accept that it’s all over the web, it’s not that hard to find how to install the developer beta. Developer beta 1 of anything on any platform can be expected to be rough and ready. The code is at such a point that Apple doesn’t even consider it worthy of released to the public yet, this is not a public beta. This is designed for developers who typically have test machines that they can put something on without adverse consequences, and do some testing.
I think we need to set different expectations of public betas versus developer betas. We had this discussion with the Apple Watch last year when at first Apple released the developer beta that completely broke voiceover support. Some of us said, “Yes, well, developer beta, we just have to suck that up.” When they released a public beta with the same thing with voiceover not working, and Apple knew when they released that voiceover was not working, that was a bridge too far for me.
I would say when iOS public beta 1 comes out, which will probably be developer beta 3, that’s my guess. If that build has those issues with the 8 Plus then I think we should be concerned because if Apple is supporting a particular device, then it should at least work without those symptoms that you are reporting. When you’re in a developer beta, you’re in a whole different ballgame. That’s the first thing I would say. The second thing I would say is that if you’re going to test at this level, it’s a really good idea if possible to have another device that you’re testing with, that’s not your primary device. If you get experiences like this, you’re not going to have a major problem.
I realized that’s a bit of an issue for many of us who are on limited incomes, but that’s the ideal scenario. That brings me to my third point, which is that if that’s not possible, you at least need to know how to go back. If you don’t know how to go back, don’t do this. You should before you install a developer beta or I would suggest any public beta personally take a full encrypted backup in iTunes of your current good working installation, back that thing up. It’s really important that encryption is turned on, that you protect your backup with a password because that will back up data that is not backed up otherwise, such as health data, and passwords, and things that are really important. I can’t stress that enough.
If you get into a pickle after you’ve upgraded and it’s just not doable, you can revert using iTunes. You need to press shift with spacebar on the button to check for updates, I believe it is, you will get an open file dialog. You will need to have downloaded the current IP SW file of the current shipping official release. Then, it will install on your phone, you will be able to revert, and then you can restore from your iTunes backup of that official release.
If people are nervous about this or don’t have the tech-savvy to do it, then don’t do it right now. Wait for the public beta at least, and even then accept that it is test software and that it may be a rocky road. Apple isn’t short of testers who are willing to give feedback. In fact, I sometimes wonder whether Apple is overly deluged with feedback, and that may prohibit it from prioritizing the important things. If you’re doing this, you’re really doing it for your own interest. If you are doing it, please make sure that you are set to do this, that you know the fish hooks, and most importantly, you know how to get out of it if things go bad.
Incidentally, that is one of the reasons why I started the watchOS petition is because while you can do these steps that I just outlined on your iPhone or your iPad, you can’t do them in the watch. There’s no way to take a local backup of a good watch installation and bring it back again. It’s a one-way trip. That’s why I think Apple has a particular responsibility to make sure they don’t break accessibility on public betas of the watch.
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Jonathan: This message is from Tim who has some news you may well be able to use. Tim, what have you got for us?
Tim: My old canon printer died and the challenge was how do I find a new printer that I can actually operate. When you look for printers nowadays, all of them have those touchscreens and in many cases, I couldn’t even replace the ink without touching the screen. For my business, because there are a lot of sight-dependent people in this world, I still need a printer. I don’t use it that much anymore, but some people still demand that you mail things on paper, or they like you to bring brochures, or you have to print package labels, so I just needed a dependable printer.
It was very hard to find something that just prints but also has some separate ink tanks. My logo is blue so the blue ink will run out much faster than the rest so I do need separate ink tanks. At the end, I found one printer that still worked, it is the Canon G1501 printer. It’s a printer with refillable ink tanks, it doesn’t have a display and it just has two buttons. You hook it up by USB to your computer or print server and it just prints. It comes with ink bottles and filling the ink tanks is a lot easier than I had expected. If you have some dexterity you can do it, if you have enough sight to see which color is which you will definitely manage. It’s really easy even though my sight is extremely limited, I manage it quite easily.
You just have to know that to the right of the paper tray you first have the cyan ink, then the magenta ink, and then the yellow ink. At the very right of the printer, at the outside that’s yellow. If you know that and you know which bottle contains which ink, which maybe you can actually discover with something like Envision, I’m not sure, you can refill it. I didn’t spill anything. Actually, the size of the bottle is matched to the size of the ink tank, so if the ink tank is empty, you can squeeze the bottle empty without overrunning it. The cool thing about this you only need to refill the ink every– Well, I think the black ink actually lasts you 12,000 pages they say.
Unless you really print a lot, it’s just something you do once and it’s a very long while until you actually get the notification that the ink has run out. Just hook it up to your Windows computer, it automatically installs and you’re good to print. It’s a lot easier than all those multifunctional with their touchscreens. The advantage of a multifunctional is that you have a built-in scanner, of course. Well, I also have a dedicated automatic document feeding scanner because sometimes I get large volumes of paper that I need to read. I already have that scanner. Plus the problem again is with multifunctional sometimes they have good scanners built-in but often you will won’t be able to operate the scanner without using the touchscreen.
If there are people who have good recommendations for blind-friendly, multifunctionals for which you don’t have to call a pair of eyeballs to which I don’t have access at home. For me, with my Canon G1501 printer, I’m happy. Again, I can assure you, it’s accessible if you have some sight. If you are blind, you have to be extremely careful that you don’t put the wrong color of ink in the wrong tank because then you really have a problem, I think, especially if you mix things.
If you are completely blind, you won’t be able to visually inspect the remaining ink level which is a bit of a limitation with this system. You can get around it. Again, if you just ask somebody to refill all the ink tanks for you and then reset the counter, then it’s okay. You don’t need to worry about it for a long time but, yes, that is a limitation.
John: My name is JohnGunn. I’d like to demonstrate SiriusXM on the iPhone. I’m using SE 20, using iOS 14.4.6. However, this has been working since last summer. Now, I’m going to give you a brief demo. I’m not going to go into the nitty-gritty of it, but I just want to point out there are certain things that can be accessed through SiriusXM. Now, is it perfect? No, it’s not. Then again, this is not a perfect world, so sometimes you have to learn to explore the screen a little bit. I have the app brought up, and we’re going to explore from the bottom right. What’s going on here?
Automated: Tab bar, tab bar, underscore, settings. Tab five of five.
John: I have a few settings.
Automated: Search tab four and five.
Automated: Your recently played items, tab three or five.
John: That’s pretty obvious.
Automated: Selected your favorite channels, shows, and episodes, tab two and five.
John: That’s my favorites because I’ve selected that.
Automated: Discover tab one of five.
John: I’m not really sure what discover is, but I’m not going to worry about that at this point. Let’s see what we have in my favorites here.
Automated: Favorites heading.
John: I went to the top left of the screen.
Automated: Edit button.
John: I can edit. I’m not going to worry about that at this point. Again, this is just a brief overview.
Automated: Selected channels button.
Automated: Shows button.
Automated: Episodes button.
Automated: Channel 6, Date [unintelligible 01:22:44] 1970 Solo Hits. [crosstalk]
John: Channel 6. Let’s see what is down here.
Automated: Selected Channel 6.
John: Now, I double-tapped that, two-finger double-tap, to stop that. Let’s see if, now, it will see what is playing here.
Automated: Selected Channel 6, Date [unintelligible 01:23:00] 1970 Solo Hits. Selected Channel 6, Date [unintelligible 01:23:02] 1970 Solo Hits. Button, blue text on a white background, pausing text, channel.
John: Oh, that’s solo hits. I’m going to go back here.
Automated: Minimize button. Possibly, down arrow.
John: Or I’ll minimize.
Automated: Favorites selected button, possibly minimize button, possibly minimize button, possibly minimize, possibly, favorites, heading, edit button, selected channels button, shows, episodes button.
John: I’m going from left to right swiping with one finger.
Automated: Selected Channel 6 Date [unintelligible 01:23:24] solo hits, button, Channel 69, Percy Faith, Greenback Dollar, button, a photo containing a diagram.
John: I love that diagram. That’s cute. These are my favorites.
Automated: Channel 18, The Beatles, I am the Walrus, button, a yellow logo on a green background.
John: That’s I Am the Walrus. Although, I don’t think I did this last night or yesterday. Maybe it’s the [unintelligible 01:23:47] card. I’m kidding here. Let’s see this on Channel 18.
Automated: Selected Channel 18, The Beatles.
John: Again, I have stopped that.
Automated: Selected Channel 18, The Beatles, I am the Walrus. Button, a yellow– Selected Channel 18, The Beatles, I am the Walrus. Minimize button.
John: I don’t know why it does that. Let me minimize this again.
Automated: Minimize, possibly, down arrow.
John: What I did is I went to the top left corner to minimize.
Automated: Favorite selected button, previous button.
John: I’m swiping left to right.
Automated: Next button. Chapter 18, dim button, The Beatles Channel, The Beatles Channel button, The Beatles, Don’t Pass Me By, The Beatles, Don’t Pass Me By.
John: Now, it actually tells me what song is playing.
Automated: Button, track position, 12 PM, 3:59 PM.
John: Now, these are programs.
Automated: Restart show button.
John: I’m not going to go through my favorites but we’re going to do a search.
Automated: Tab bar, tab bar, underscore settings, tab five to five.
John: I’m going for the bottom right, and I’m going to swipe left to search.
Automated: Search tab four and five.
John: I’m going to double-tap with one finger.
Automated: Selected, search tab four or five.
John: I’m going to go to the upper left-hand corner of the screen.
Automated: Actions available. Search artist, channel, or show. Search field.
John: I’m going to double tap.
Automated: Search field is editing. Search artist, channel, or show.
John: Now, a show that I like a lot from The Beatles channel is Way Beyond Compare. I’m just going to show you how to search. Let’s go to dictate. I’m in the edit field, I’m going to swipe left.
John: Way Beyond Compare.
Automated: Dictate. Inserting Way Beyond Compare.
John: I’m going to go into the bottom right.
Automated: Search, search. Way Beyond Compare, search field.
John: I’m going to go to the upper left where our search field was.
Automated: Way Beyond Compare, cancel button.
John: I’m going right.
Automated: On air, Chapter 18, Way Beyond Compare, Beatles Rarities with Tom Frandener.
John: That’s Frangione, by the way.
Automated: Contextual menu button, possibly, tomorrow, 9 AM, 9:30 AM, shows and episodes.
John: That’s tomorrow, by the way. By the way, the times are listed because I live in Central Wisconsin. That’s Central Daylight Time, so it gives you my times.
Automated: May 24th, 2021. Wear tracks for Bob Dylan’s birthday. Button, black text on a gray background. Pausing text.
John: Let’s just play this for the heck of it.
Automated: Dim image. A black object on a white circle. May 24th, 2021.
John: Stop the voice here. Now, I’m going to double-tap with one finger here.
Automated: May 24th, 2020.
Tom: It’s my honor and pleasure to bring you Rarities, both old and new, from our favorite band and most fab four, John, Paul, George and Ringo, The Beatles. My name is Tom Frangione. As always, I’m really looking forward to digging in with you. This week, maybe even more so than usual as we salute a great friend and influence on The Beatles and take you on what my brother Jim calls the Bob ride as we celebrate Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday.
John: Again, I double tap two fingers to stop here. We’re going to go back to my favorites.
Automated: Tab bar, tab bar, underscore settings. Search tab four of five.
John: I’m going to swipe left from the bottom here.
Automated: Your recently played items, your favorite channels, show. Discover, tab one, your favorite channels, shows, and episodes, tab two of five.
John: Let’s go to favorite channels.
Automated: Selected your favorite channels, shows, and episodes tab two of five.
John: I’m going to go to the upper left again.
Automated: Favorites heading, edit button, selected channels button, shows button, episodes button. Channel 6 Date [unintelligible 01:27:25] 1970 solo hits, button, blue text. Channel 69, Percy Faith, Greenback Dolla. Button, a logo containing a diagram.
John: Let’s go to channel 69. That’s easy listening which I like a lot different kind of music here, too.
Automated: Selected Channel 69, Percy-
John: Nice piano work. Now, I’m going to double– Use two fingers a double-tap to stop the playing. We’ll actually see what song this is here.
Automated: Selected Channel 69, Percy Faith, Greenback Dollar. Minimize button. [crosstalk] Favorite selected.
John: Well, it’s not that bad.
Automated: Previous button, next button, Chapter 69, dim, escape, escape button.
John: That’s the escape.
Automated: Roger Williams Galveston. Roger Williams Galveston.
John: That makes more sense. It didn’t sound like Percy Faith in Greenback Dollar. However, what if I want to see, instead of going through all the channels– Now, this does actually say ” Escape.” Let’s go to next or, no, previous.
Automated: Favorite selected, previous button. Previous button, next button.
John: I stopped that. I’m going to swipe right.
Automated: Minimize button, favorite unselected, previous button.
John: If I wanted to favorite this, I could just-
Automated: Favorite unselected. Button. Possibly star.
John: -I swipe left. I can favorite this or if I’m in a channel that I have favorites, I can double-tap to unfavoorite it here.
Automated: Previous button.
John: Let’s see.
Automated: Favorite unselected, button, possibly star, favorites selected, possibly star.
John: I have favorited that. I’m doing to unfavorite it by, again, double-tapping with one finger.
Automated: Favorite unselected, possibly star, previous button, next button, Chapter 68, dim button, Spa, Spa button.
John: Spa. That’s the actual name of the channel.
Automated: Chapter 68, next button, previous button.
John: Let’s go to previous ones here.
Automated: Previous button, button.
John: Now, I stopped that again doing two-finger double-tap. I’m going to swipe right here.
Automated: Minimize button, favorite selected, button, previous button, favorite selected button, possibly star.
John: That isn’t one of my favorites but-
Automated: Previous button, next button, Chapter 67, dim button, real jazz, classic jazz, real jazz, classic jazz button.
John: –That’s actually the name of the channel.
Automated: Chapter 67, dim.
John: Well, this says Chapter but it’s Channel 67.
Automated: Real jazz, classic jazz, real jazz, classic jazz, button.
John: That’s actually the name of the channel. Right there.
Automated: Clifton Anderson, until we meet again, Clifton Anderson, until we meet again.
John: That is the name of the song.
Automated: Button. Track position 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM.
John: Again, this recording around one o’clock in the afternoon, it’s an hour show.
Jonathan: Thank you very much, John, for taking the time to explore that with us, the official SiriusXM app. I’m prompted to comment as you did, that this is one of the dangers of text-to-speech engines interpreting what’s on the screen rather than just reading it. I really wish they would not do this. They’ve seen a CH and a number and decided that the CH stands for chapter, and it stands for channel. Why not just say CH 67, and let our brain do the work? Anyway, thank you so much, John. I appreciate that.
Recently, Andy Collins wrote him to the show to ask questions about mic stands, and Matthew had some comments. It’s Matthew on mic stands as opposed to Mike on Matthew stands, which would be far less informative. “Hello,” says Matthew. “Musician’s friend has a good deal of the things and he will want. I bought the musician’s gear, low profile mic stand, and that’s meant to sit on your desk and raise up and down to about a foot and a half. It’s about $15. You’ll want to get the microphone spring clips that you squeeze at the bottom and insert your microphone into.
Yes, they do make the adapter you want where it screws onto the mic stand with the hole in its center, and then you can attach your two microphones in their clips, one on either side. I forgot what that called, though. It’s literally a flat bar with two screws and an empty hole in the center. A call to a musician’s friend gear advisor will be very helpful, I believe.
From other vendors come a nice floor stand, a telescoping mic stand that collapses to about 18 inches and extends about six feet. That’s made by air turn, and they have a boom attachments you can get as well. It’s about $70. Farther afield are interesting attachments like one that attaches to the pole of your mic stand, and let you hang a ukulele authentic guitar from it.
Mainland ukuleles have that for about $12, then there’s an attachment if you’re a keyboard player. You put this into the inside of the keyboard stand into the pole, and then you have a microphone attachment about right next to your keyboard. Musician’s friend, Sweetwater, American musical, all great companies, some of whom have products the others don’t have. I’ve also had great luck googling for particular obscure adapters and products, mostly finding what I need. I hope this info helps you find what you will use in your recording projects.” That is a brilliant informative e-mail. Thank you so much, Matthew, for putting it together.
Nolan: Hi, Jonathan. It’s Nolan Crabb in Columbus, Ohio. Such a pleasure to reconnect. You and I first met back in the ’90s. I won’t belabor too much time with nostalgia tonight. As I write this, it is very late on the evening of June 5. You and I first met back in the ’90s. We had some wonderful discussions because Heidi was really small, and Richard was even littler, I think, regarding the immense value of fatherhood and the journey that you were undertaking there. Now, of course, look at both of them, all grown up, and we could have some really good in-depth discussions about fatherhood with regard to adult children.
That’s not why I’m contacting you tonight. I wanted to commend you for a couple of things. First, your kindness and allowing those whose perspective is different from yours to have a voice here. That is the magnificent spirit of the Bill of Rights. When I look at how dark things are becoming here in the United States, I think of you and think that there really is hope. Not everyone believes that voices should be silenced who disagree with their voice. Thank you for that. I also want to commend you for your stance on gratitude. Here I go talking to a self-declared atheist about something in the Book of Mormon, but I suspect you’ll probably let it go through.
There’s a phrase in there where one of the writers encourages his readers to live in Thanksgiving daily. I love that phrase. It’s a mantra of mine although I’ve spent a lot of my time in my life steeped in unfortunate negativity unnecessarily. In the last few years, I’ve really come to highly value the concept of constant gratitude even for things that seem adverse and difficult and hard to deal with. I’ve got a lot of arthritis these days in my hands and knees and elsewhere.
You do ask yourself, “Well, wait a minute, what is there to be grateful about this?” Well, it has taught me a great deal about stamina. There really are reasons, even for adverse circumstances. There really are reasons to find gratitude even in those, as silly as I’m sure it sounds to most of your listeners. How does this tie in? Well, a few weeks ago, on this podcast, you referenced the concept of the “More info” button associated with Bluetooth connections. You may remember that in 14.5, specifically, I think.
A month or so ago, my wife and I purchased a brand new automobile. It included Apple CarPlay. One of the maddening experiences I had with that was that it absolutely took my iPhone XS max hostage. Voiceover became unusable, and [laughs] I couldn’t hear it unless I pushed buttons, and the buttons were all touchscreen-centric in that vehicle. I was completely emasculated and unable to use anything. I’ve gotten around that now, found some workarounds, and had to train myself to be grateful for that vehicle and to stop being angry at the fact that I couldn’t use parts of it.
As soon as I did those things and deliberately worked at it, I did find solutions, workarounds. You provided one of those. You mentioned the info button on the Bluetooth connections, you’ll recall, and I thought, “My goodness, I wonder if that CarPlay thing that connects to my Hyundai Kona has a “More info” button. I’m sure it does.” I wonder what that is going to reveal, so I clicked on it one fine night after listening to you. I found that I had the choice of accepting– There are multiple types of connections here. One of them was car stereo, which was the default for CarPlay. The other one simply said speaker, that seemed a little ominous.
What if I click speaker, and I’m no longer able to hear stereophonic sound coming through my automobile? Nevertheless, in the spirit of the bravery of Jonathan Mosen, I thought, “What the heck? Let’s do it.” I clicked speaker. To my great amazement and reinforcing my belief in miracles provided to all of us by one another, if we allow that to happen. As soon as we went out to the car the next time and my phone became connected to the Bluetooth. Voiceover was no longer held hostage, and the car stereo element worked perfectly. I got great stereo sound. Voiceover, as I said, was free from the iron-clad clutches of the CarPlay Bluetooth portion of my car.
I just wanted to write and thank you personally for mentioning that. I know you did so in a rather offhanded way. It wasn’t any big part of the program. There were no ruffles and flourishes as I recall, but you have no idea the extent of the miracle that you brought to my life as a result of that experience. I have been living in Thanksgiving daily for your advice ever since that day and will continue to do so. Thanks for all you do for this podcast. It’s genuinely a pleasure to reconnect with you. Take care.
Jonathan: Well, the feeling is mutual, Nolan. Good to hear from you, and I certainly remember those discussions. Of course, people will remember Nolan’s name. He was editor of the Braille Forum for quite a while, in the 1990s as well. I’m glad that Bluetooth trick worked such magic for you. I guess one can say, “It’s the antithesis of careless talk costs lives.” Sometimes you can just pass on a little nugget that makes a big difference.
Peter is back from Hungary, and he says, “Hi, Jonathan, thanks for forwarding the suggestions concerning cryptocurrency wallets for blind users. I tried Exodus for starters, but it is not the one for me. You can handle your cryptocurrencies in it, but you can’t buy them. What I’m searching for is something where I could buy cryptocurrencies with Hungarian forint, US dollars, euros, et cetera, and also manage them. I will try the other one that was mentioned in the podcast.”
Next subject, “I think transcription is useful for those who use English as a second language. We may not get everything perfectly by listening, but when the text is available in a written form, you have limitless time to understand. Learning languages, I don’t know any particularly efficient method, but what I risk to state is that learning a new language without reading and writing is nearly impossible. If you’re blind, it is essential to have good braille skills. In conclusion, an offer for Mosen At Large listeners. If there is anyone in the audience who is currently learning Hungarian and seek to have a partner to have some practice with. I’m glad to help the brave guy.
Disclaimer, I am not a teacher. I certainly won’t be able to lead anyone from the beginner level. My offer is if somebody’s already reached a point on which she or he can communicate in written or spoken word and Hungarian, at least on an elementary level, I may come handy for them as a practice tool. Maybe I can draw their attention to some frequent mistakes. They can enrich their vocabulary. We can polish their pronunciation, et cetera. I can speak English on an intermediate level as you have experienced in the last month. I also speak French though my conversation skills are not as good as I would wish in that case.
I get on in a not-so-sophisticated level. I’m standing by and waiting here for Hungarian language fan Mosen At Largers. Let’s improve the communication skills of the blind community.” Said with a smile. “My email address is T-A-K-A-C-S.P-E-T-E-R-1@T-online.H-U. firstname.lastname@example.org.” I’m not going to put this in the show notes because if I do that, poor Peter will get spammed all over the place. So I’ll read it back one more time. T-A-K-A-C-S.P-E-T-E-R-1@T-online.H-U. email@example.com. Peter concludes. “Thanks for putting together the high-quality weekly content. My best wishes for you and your family from Budapest.” Thank you very much, Peter.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before when you’ve written in, but my spotty nephew, Anthony, who actually hosts a show on Mushroom FM called Anthony Unleashed. His last name is Horvath. I understand that Horvath is quite a famous name in Hungary. It’s kind of like Smiths, I think. [laughs] There are lots of Horvath’s in Hungary. My brother-in-law’s parents were Hungarian. My brother-in-law was actually born in Hungary. They were able to flee the country in the 1950s. I do have that Hungarian connection.
Automated: On Twitter, follow Mosen At Large 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: That’s sweet, sweet music. Heralds another edition of the Bonnie Bulletin with the one, the only Bonnie Mosen!
Bonnie: Hey guys.
Jonathan: How are you?
Bonnie: Good. How are you doing?
Jonathan: I am very well and okay. I wonder whether you have any radio memories.
Bonnie: Yes. Like most people, radio was a huge part of my life. I don’t remember necessarily any children’s program being on the radio. We had mostly the Saturday morning cartoons and the afterschool specials and things like that. I don’t have any real memory of children’s programming on radio. There may have been some, but I wasn’t aware of them. Mostly listened to the local Atlanta stations, and my mom would always have the radio on in the morning when we were having breakfast. It was always WQXI which was a big station in Atlanta.
That was a time when things weren’t syndicated. So you had morning personalities that you couldn’t wait for them to come on because they were going to– That little funny skits or characters that would show up on the show, but it was mainstream with just the music of the day. WQXI and then Z 93, and then when we moved to Tennessee, Coyote McCloud was the morning person. It was Gary McGee and he had someone named Willis the Guard that I think he did the weather or something. Then there was the Birthday Monster.
Then the Birthday Monster, they had a very bad record that was really slowed down that would play happy birthday and the Birthday Monster would wish people happy birthday. Then Steve McCoy had some people that would pop in. There was Peachy Pat Pickens. They were just characters that would do entertainment reports. I think he did the voices of them or a lot of the other people did the voices. Then we had Coyote McCloud. We moved to Nashville.
Jonathan: Were you one of those people who would get your radio out and listen for distance stations [crosstalk]?
Bonnie: Oh absolutely. I remember picking up Nashville WLAC, Chicago would often come in. W, what is it? What’s the big one.
Bonnie: Yes. WLS. KMOX out of St. Louis, is it?
Jonathan: I don’t know that one. I find the alphabet soup of call letters of the United States quite hard to remember, but WLS has had some fantastic jingle packages over the years.
Bonnie: I do remember my grandmother, after she died, I got her radio and it wasn’t battery operated. You just plugged it in. I don’t even know what kind it was, but it had a great range on it. I remember picking up the North American service of Radio Moscow one time in the ’70s and not quite understanding why I was picking up the Soviet Union. That was before I got into short wave, but I was like, “Why am I picking up the Soviet Union on my radio?”
Jonathan: Magic Radio. [laughs]
Bonnie: I thought it was some prop espionage thing or something.
Jonathan: Oh, dear. Yes because, of course, the anti-Soviet stuff was pretty heavily drilled in.
Bonnie: Oh, yes. From a young age.
Jonathan: It’s really interesting how radio is quite different in North America, from the way it was in Britain, Australia and New Zealand where there was still quite a lot of entertainment, drama, comedy, that sort of thing. That had all gone off the radio in favor of the television. Hadn’t it?
Bonnie: Yes. Because a lot of the soap operas started out on radio and then went over to the TV.
Jonathan: Yes, a lot of those shows like Gunsmoke and Dragnet. We were talking about Lucille Ball the other day. Her first show was radio and then she moved over to television.
Bonnie: Then some of the soap operas, like I think what was the one? All My Children, I think it was on the radio for a long time. Maybe those few of them that were-
Jonathan: Our Miss Brooks I think was on TV eventually. Wasn’t it?
Bonnie: Yes, and did make room for daddy. Father knows best.
Jonathan: Did Jack Benny got on television?
Bonnie: I think he did. That was The Jack Benny Show. Then, of course, Gracie and George Bern went over to television. Television was a really strong medium from the 30s.
Jonathan: I’m not sure if it was quite that early. Was it?
Bonnie: Was it 1939?
Jonathan: Maybe about then. Yes. 1939 and 1940. We just read today in history segment on the Mosen Explosion during the week on Mushroom FM about the first officially licensed TV station.
Bonnie: I know my dad’s family was one of the first to get a TV set in their community. Everyone would come over. All the neighbors would come over and watch the TV set.
Jonathan: That was like us when we got TV. TV didn’t come to New Zealand until 1960 because we took ages to do so. I know.
Bonnie: You missed some good stuff. You missed The Lucy Show.
Jonathan: Oh, we got them. They just rerun it. They replayed it from years ago, but we were a real regulated backwater back then. These days we’re on the cutting edge of everything with our fiber optics and everything. It was a very different country. Not necessarily all for the better either, but we had the TV and people used to come over and watch it. It was like this kind of community event that you’d go and watch the TV. We only had one channel for 15 years. One channel.
Bonnie: Oh my goodness. We had at least three.
Jonathan: We’ve got email for the Bonnie Bulletin.
Jonathan: This is from Angus McKinnon. He’s very concerned that we haven’t talked about Eclipse for a long time.
Bonnie: Eclipse is always here when I’m doing the Bonnie Bulletin She’s very quiet. She is down here, she’s lying right between us right now, curled up. Eclipse is doing well, so thank you for asking about her, but she always comes down here when I’m doing the Bonnie Bulletin and sometimes she will squeak her toy, but she hasn’t done that lately.
Jonathan: She goes through these phases where it’s almost like she rediscovers all over again that the toys squeak, and she goes through this real phase of squeaking like mad, and then she stops. It’s funny.
Bonnie: She’s doing great. Then I hope your dog is doing great too. She’s working well and she’s happy. Eclipse is here and Eclipse is doing well.
Jonathan: He also says that he highly recommends Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. He makes the comment that it’s a very long audiobook. Angus, this is one of the reasons why I am totally off audiobooks. In fact, on the Mosen Explosion during the week on Mushroom FM, did I say that right?
Jonathan: [laughs] Pam Quinn was trying to recommend to me the audiobook of passengers, which is a book about what happens when somebody hacks into self-driving cars. It’s a really good book. I got through about an hour of the audiobook, and then I thought this is just taking too long. The only time I read audiobooks is when it’s a biography read by the author. In that case, I like to hear someone telling their own story. Otherwise, I do not use audiobooks. So I read Project Hail Mary very quickly. Bonnie on the other hand consumed the audiobook and it took her forever.
Bonnie: Because I like to enjoy my books.
Jonathan: What did you think of Project Hail Mary?
Bonnie: I feel it was really good. I don’t know if there’s going to be a second book or I’d like to see what happened to earth. It was really funny. It was the character, his character development was so good. The guy was gosh, and holy cow.
Jonathan: Then he found out one particular fact which caused him to let off a massive expletive. Holy soup!
Bonnie: I liked the alien Rocky. I would like to know more about his planet. In the book, the alien that is in the book, Rocky they talk in musical notes, like whales. In the book when he would speak they would actually play a musical note.
Jonathan: I think if I was doing it, I would have done it through a vocoder. I don’t know if they used the vocoder [crosstalk].
Bonnie: Maybe. I can go back and let you hear some of it.
Jonathan: It would have been perfect for that.
Bonnie: I think it was a vocoder, but I liked him. I was creeped out like he’s a spider because he was a spider-type preacher, but he was nice. He was just a nice alien.
Jonathan: Now to the best of my knowledge Andy Weir has written three books now, hasn’t he?
Bonnie: Yes. He wrote the Martian. He wrote Artemis he wrote Project. He has written another book. I can’t remember the name of it. It’s a shorter book. I don’t know if it’s a children’s book or, but it is much shorter, like 10 minutes long.
Jonathan: Oh, but I’ve liked them all. He’s a really good author and he just writes so well. They’re all entertaining reads and he’s a very gifted guy because in that second book, Artemis he had to write from the persona of a young woman.
Bonnie: Yes. Which is not easy to do. I’ve only seen one other author that I think can really pull that off and that’s Wally lamb.
Jonathan: Yes. I loved it. I loved it. Project Hail Mary is the book? The author is Andy Weir. Is a really good read.
Bonnie: He is an engineer. Is that right? Is he a scientist?
Jonathan: I don’t know.
Bonnie: There’s a lot of scientific stuff in Project Hail Mary.
Jonathan: Yes. He’s great. I like a good bit of sci-fi and I don’t know whether we mentioned the other one that Heidi got us onto called To Sleep in a Sea of Stars.
Bonnie: Oh, yes.
Jonathan: Who wrote that?
Bonnie: That was Christopher Paganini. Is that the same Pelini.
Bonnie: He does the– What does that Aragon book.
Jonathan: All right. If you like sci-fi this was a very, very good book. It’s very long. It’s much longer than the-
Bonnie: Very long [unintelligible 01:52:34]
Jonathan: -Project Hail Mary.
Bonnie: What they call a space opera because it’s like 34 hours long on audio, but it’s really, really good. Have some romance in it and really hoping for– Well, he has started a new series with this, but he’s a lot like George R. Martin who takes forever that’s game of Thrones to write a book. Hopefully, he will have this book out and I really hope that she gets to become human again. We’ll see.
Jonathan: Oh, don’t spoil it.
Bonnie: I’m Sorry. Well, I really hope that things work out in the book.
Jonathan: I disagree with you that they haven’t worked out well.
Bonnie: Well, they did work out, but I want to see her back with the captain. Oh, sorry. [crosstalk].
Jonathan: Time for you to go now, Bonnie.
Jonathan: You also have a pretty big announcement.
Bonnie: I do. I have a new job. I’m still with the company I worked for the Blind, Low Vision, New Zealand, but I will be doing what’s called a work-ready advisor role. We’re redoing the way they’ve been doing employment in the past. It starting a new process of getting people. The biggest problem or the biggest issue it’s pretty universal the disabled people face, particularly blind are being ready for employment and you can have all the motivation you want. You could have the degree, all that good stuff, but you don’t have the technology or you don’t have the social skills. You don’t have the orientation and mobility to be ready for it. That’s true for a lot of people.
You may have been out of employment for 20 years. You may have never worked because our unemployment levels are so high. It’s just working to try to get people ready for employment, through a variety of things, either more training services. We’re going to be creating materials and then referring them on to employment agencies here in New Zealand who work with people with disabilities.
Jonathan: Well, congratulations. You will be brilliant at that.
Bonnie: Oh, yes. I’m looking forward to it. I don’t have a starting date yet, but it should be sometime within the next couple of weeks. I think I’m hoping to at least be able to take a few days off because it’s nice to have a few– When you’re transitioning from one thing to another, just having a couple of days to, okay, get my mind in this mode now.
Jonathan: Now I also wanted to update people on our washing machine drama, which is basically that there’s very little update. I did file a bug report with Samsung and they have a very inaccessible process, I have to say. They’ve got the captcha that you have to fill in, they’ve got a number of selection boxes from which you have to choose the model number and things of that kind that are not particularly accessible. With the help of Aira, we got it done. Then they came back and asked me for more information, which I’d already provided.
Maybe we didn’t get it done as well as I thought we had and basically, we’ve dillied and dallied for a week and we’ve really got nothing to show for it. I’m starting to just push back a little harder now and say, “Well, our right of return policy is over. You need to either replace this or fix it and do it pronto.” We feel we’re getting a bit of action now.
Bonnie: Yes, and the washer does work. It just does not work with the app.
Jonathan: Yes. We can’t tell the type of wash we want that kind of thing.
Bonnie: No. You have to do it all manually.
Jonathan: I should also report that. I spent some quality time yesterday afternoon. I found myself at a bit of a loose end and I spent some quality time with the M1 Mac that we bought at Christmas time. That mainly Bonnie has been using, but I do have an account set up. We log in as our respect of selves and have the Mac the way we like it. I was just in the groove for a bit of technology experimentation yesterday. I was using Twitterific on the Mac. I was using Lire. I installed Reaper and Osara and configured that and was doing a little bit of audio production on the Mac.
I also installed Microsoft word on the Mac and I have to say, well, the whole office suite, in fact, that the office accessibility has come a long, long way since I last looked and you can press VO with U, I believe that command is, and you can get into a list of headings and a word document. What I haven’t been able to work out is how I have it report those heading levels as I arrow through the document. That’s probably just a case of turning on some speaking of formatting I suspect. I was very impressed with the speed. Voiceover was pretty well behaved. Things like the notification center and other things are new since I last had a serious look. It’s in pretty good shape. You’ve given up on it?
Bonnie: No. I need to install Microsoft Word at some point.
Jonathan: Yes. We’ll get the Office 365 installed. That’ll make a difference. Thank you, Bonnie. Of course, we can hear Bonnie on Mushroom FM, every weekday at 11:00 AM and PM with Studio 70, which I see a lot of people are getting into. That’s good. Good luck with your flu vaccine.
Jonathan: Your Rona vaccine. All right, then goodbye.
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[01:58:12] [END OF AUDIO]