Podcast Transcript: Mosen At Large episode 154, new tech from Apple and Google, what games can a blind person play with their sighted kids, and a review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G
This transcript is made possible thanks to funding from InternetNZ. You can read the full transcript below, download the transcript in Microsoft Word format, or download the transcript as an accessible PDF file.
We apologise that due to technical issues, it has not been possible to transcribe the demonstration of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G heard in this episode.
Jonathan Mosen: Hi, it’s Jonathan Mosen. This is Mosen At Large, the show that’s got the blind community talking and this week analysis of the latest product announcements from Apple and Google, plus our usual doses of iOS and Android feedback. And [Nick Zammarelli reviews his Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G. (singing) As always with so many choices of podcast out there, I really appreciate that you’ve taken some time and chosen this one. Thank you so much. Hope you’ll enjoy what we have for you over the next couple of hours or so.
Here in New Zealand, our golden weather when it comes to COVID-19 is well and truly over, we had a Delta outbreak that began towards the end of August, and we cracked three digits for the first time in the pandemic in terms of new cases on Thursday. So, this is all happening predominantly in Auckland. We did have a few cases in Wellington where I am, the capital of New Zealand, that’s gone for the moment. And there are also some cases in the Waikato region of New Zealand too. And we are getting used to pivoting from an elimination strategy to living with the virus strategy. And everybody’s going all out to get vaccine numbers up in a very uniquely New Zealand experience.
We had this thing on TV last week called a vaxathon and it was on multiple channels and it was really targeted at those audiences whose vaccination numbers continue to be low. And even though I wasn’t the target demographic, I actually really enjoyed watching it. There was a lot of spirit and positivity behind it, and I think it was the thing the country needed just to lift its spirits a little bit. Now let’s talk about new technology and there’s a bit of it to talk about this week. By way of a preface or a segue, some people say to me, “Why is it that so many thousands of blind people from around the world, and the list of countries is really impressive, listen to this thing every week.” Sometimes they ask it in genuine interest, sometimes they ask it in frustration. Sometimes I ask that question.
I mean, I’m very grateful for it, but I ask that question too. If I was to give one answer, it would be that you don’t get sick of fancy on the show. And one of the reasons why I called this show Mosen At Large, is because I’m not working for any assistive technology company anymore or anything like that, and so if I give an opinion, it’s my opinion. Now you might not agree with that opinion and that’s okay, because especially when it comes to technology, people’s requirements differ depending on their personal preference, depending on the job that they’re doing at any given time. So you’ve just got one guy’s perspective, sitting here in a little studio in New Zealand, and you can discard what you disagree with. It might make you think, it might help you in some way.
One thing I personally don’t have a lot of time for is the sick of fancy that you get with technology. If you’ve been around long enough, you might remember back in 2006 that I made an excellent career move when I moved from human wear to freedom scientific, and some people just thought, “Oh, so a blind guys change jobs, big deal.” A lot of people didn’t feel that way. It was almost like I might have defected to Al-Qaeda or something. I mean, it was completely disproportionate and ridiculous just because one individual chose to switch to another company. People do it all the time, right?
People go from Apple to Google, or Google to Amazon or whatever, but apparently it’s just too hard for some people to cope with. And one of the reasons for that is the sick of fancy that surrounds a lot of technology. People treat their choice of technology like a religion or some creed. And I’ve just never seen it that way. To me, if you use a piece of technology and it meets your needs, then groovy. If your needs change, or perhaps another piece of technology comes along and surpasses the technology that you are currently using, and you have the wherewithal to make a change, then groovy as well. Not enough people say groovy anymore, make the change.
And equally, if a company whose technology you own does something really stupid or really arrogant, why not say so? Technology companies are made up of humans. Humans are fallible, humans make mistakes, they get it wrong sometimes, and the decent humans will realize when they get it wrong. And one of the reasons why they will realize it is if we are not sycophantic as consumers, if we are responsive to what they’re doing, if we make a change to maybe another brand that is less arrogant and less assuming about their customers, because nothing talks like the bottom line when you’re running a commercial company.
And I say all this is a preface. I know that sounds a bit like a rant, but I don’t care because it’s my podcast. I say this as a preface to what Apple announced this week. Now back in 2016, I wrote a blog post and you can still read that blog posts, a lot of things have changed. So it’s not necessarily an accurate depiction of the state of things five years later. But I wrote a post called Saying Goodbye to the Mac, and you can still read it at mosen.org/sayinggoodbyetothemac. And one of the things that inspired me to get rid of my maxed out MacBook Pro from 2015 was the 2016 MacBook announcement.
I think that if you don’t count the nearly fatal state that Apple was in before Steve Jobs returned, the keynote announcing those 2016 Macs was Apple’s darkest day. That 2016 MacBook Pro was just completely oblivious to the market that it was seeking to serve. They had the real estate on these devices, but they just contemptuously arrogantly concluded, “We’re going to take most of the ports away. We’re going to take the SD card slot away. Even though we have a tried and true keyboard on this device, we’re going to put this other butterfly keyboard in its place. And what’s more on the MacBook Pro, we are going to take away the function keys, and we are going to give you this touch bar thing.” And at the time they made all sorts of disparaging remarks about how function keys have outlived their purpose and how they’ve had their day.
On top of this, it was really clear that at some point in the future, Apple was moving away from Intel to ARM-based chips they were going to manufacture. And that would mean that Windows would not run on the MacBooks. Now for me, I could not really be productive without having access to Windows. I don’t think that VoiceOver is of the same standard on MacOS as it is on iOS. So, for all of those reasons, I thought if this is the direction in which Apple is going, include me out and I sold my MacBook Pro and I went back to Windows and I haven’t really regretted that since.
Now, if you’ve listened to my podcasts over the years, you will have heard my daughter, Heidi, on here, and she loved her MacBook. One of the last acts, I hope, of the bank of dad for each of my kids, is that when they go to university I buy them the machine of their choice on the understanding that they have to look after it, and hopefully it will last them through their university career. And Heidi chose a MacBook and her MacBook met with a pretty dramatic sticky end. It smoked and did weird things and it was out of warranty and it was going to be quite expensive to fix. And it was clear that even though Heidi does look after her stuff, this was a genuine accident and it was unfortunately necessary to buy a new computer, and Heidi chose to go back to Windows.
She chose that specifically because of the butterfly keyboard on those MacBooks at the time. There were countless news stories about the butterfly keyboard giving all sorts of trouble. And then you had people who were in professional roles struggling with the dongle pandemic. You go to do some important job, and then you find, “Oh gosh. There’s no HDMI port on my MacBook, and I forgot my little HDMI to Thunderbolt dongle,” or whatever is necessary. I mean, how ridiculous is this? When the space actually always existed to have the HDMI port on the device, but Apple just made you go through dongle hell.
On the pre 2016 MacBook Pros, if you were dealing with a lot of media, you could take an SD card, say out of a Zoom digital recorder and pop the SD card into your MacBook, copy the files across, you were done. And now you had to do it some other way involving wires and dongles and Apple called that progress. And now we have the 2021 MacBook Pros announced. And I reckon that they should actually call them something different, not the MacBook Pro, I think they should call them a really cool brand. I’ll give them my branding advice for free. I always loved when I was in the tech industry making up product names. So, I would like to freely offer my expertise and suggest that this new set of MacBooks be called the MacBook Apollo. That is a cool spacey name, right? The MacBook Apollo.
And in this case, it would be short for apology. Why? Because you’ve got a decent keyboard back on this thing at last. (singing) Remember that old HDMI port that’s now back as well. (singing) But wait, there’s more. In a spirit of true innovation, Apple has introduced something called MagSafe. Anybody remember Magsafe? (singing) What about that touch bar that was so innovative replacing those boring old function keys? Bye-bye touch bar, welcome back function keys. (singing) Now to be clear, I don’t have any issue whatsoever with the company having the good grace to say that it got things wrong, but it didn’t do that. They could really have made a virtue out of customer satisfaction.
They could have said, “We listened to you, we know we went over the top with dongles, with the awful keyboard. This is a salute to the pros who we’ve let down.” Do a bit of a mea culpa, I think that would’ve been received really well. So congratulations to Apple for making those changes, because on top of those very good changes, it’s also really amazing sounding hardware, right? There’s no doubt about this with the M1 Pro chip and the M1 Max chip and what sounds like astonishing battery life, very quick, wake from sleep. We know these things are real because we’ve seen them in the M1 chip already. They do sound like really lovely laptops. And with the ports that are there, the amazing new speaker system, the microphone array, I think Apple is going to win the pros back that they have lost.
If there is one disappointment that I have with the new MacBook Pros, in terms of their hardware specs, still no cellular. And I’m not sure why Apple’s holding out on this and choosing not to put cellular in the MacBook Pros when they do have cellular iPads that work very well. 5G speed when you can get serious multimedia work done, and that’s what a lot of people buy MacBook Pros for. So, surely there should be at least one model with a cellular option. Very curious that it doesn’t still exist. And it’s fairly common now in Windows land. But let’s go back to 2016 because you may remember what else happened in 2016.
It was 2016 when Apple released the iPhone 7. And that was the first iPhone where they took the headphone jack away. Apple told us at the time that this was a brave thing to do. What error nonsense is this? What it was doing was creating massive inconvenience and more dongle hell for the people who pay Apple’s bills by buying their stuff. There were enormous accessibility ramifications for a vulnerable part of our community as well, deaf/blind people who hadn’t yet got the funding to upgrade for iPhone hearing aids. And I was in that category.
So I would run a cable from the 3.5 headphone jack to my hearing aids, because we only get funding every five or six years here in New Zealand for hearing aids and my number hadn’t come up yet. And having to add that additional lightning to 3.5 adapter, just added more variables, added more things to lose, and there was not a single benefit to me as an end user and Apple called that brave.
So, Apple got a bit drunk on something in 2016 and they made some arrogant appalling decisions, including removing the headphone jack. And it would be my hope that at least on pro models of the iPhone, they would bring the headphone jack back. That would be the most glorious mea culpa from Apple of all. Bring back the jack. It’s still needed, those lightning to 3.5 adapters, which so many of us have to carry around are flimsy. So you have to have multiple adapters, I have a whole stack of them here for the next time that my Lightning to 3.5 adapter fails. And they inevitably do. How on earth is that progress? What’s funny though, is that Apple does set the trend, whether the trend is good or not.
There’s no doubt that we have Apple to thank for the better aesthetics of Windows laptops these days. I think we also have Apple to curse for the fact that some Windows laptop manufacturers followed Apple’s lead and started taking some ports away. It was too soon to go completely USB-C on these devices. There are so many accessories around that still use USB-A. And so, you should at least have one USB-A port on a device so that you don’t have to carry a dongle around. But this is true of the smartphone industry as well, that Apple sets the trend and other people follow.
Remember how Samsung mocked Apple for taking the headphone jack away in 2016. This is a trend that we see with Samsung. They initially mock Apple for doing something, another example of this, is the power brick that Apple no longer includes then a year or so, you can be sure that Samsung will do the same thing. So, if Apple were to bring back the headphone jack, that would, I think, create a flow on effect, people would say, “Yeah. We went too far. Users still use that headphone jack. It is ubiquitous. Its time has not passed yet. We hear you. We will bring it back.” And I think Apple would get a lot of praise for doing the right thing in that regard.
Apple has also announced AirPods 3, which sound like a good deal for those who like AirPods, and they also announced something that I don’t think anybody was predicting. And this is a new Siri based plan for Apple Music. In the United States, you pay around about five bucks a month as opposed to the more expensive Apple Music price, and for that, you get interaction with Apple Music exclusively on Siri. So, if you were to go into the music app with this plan active, you wouldn’t be able to search from your keyboard, with Apple Music, you have to do that via Siri.
On the Google side of the equation, this phone, the Google Pixel 6 was one of the most leaked phones in history. Some of those leaks actually came from Google, but now we have the Google Pixel 6 announced. If you were like me having a wee yawn at Apple’s September event where they announced the iPhone 13 range, you may have tuned into Google’s announcement the other day and started to yawn similarly, because they talked about their new system on a chip. And it makes sense that Google would have more control over their destiny by going that route, so that makes sense, and they talked about the camera, but then things got really interesting. Google is developing this technology which will essentially, wait on hold for you.
And it happens a lot when you call utility companies, like your power company, or your internet provider, and the whole times are sometimes horrendous and Google will take care of that for you. They also have some remarkable, by all accounts, dictation capabilities in the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro. And I really look forward to hearing a demo of how well this works. But I encourage you to read some of the articles that I have tweeted about this. The dictation appears to be taken to a whole new level of usability with this Google Pixel 6 range. The demonstration they did of real time translation was very impressive.
And although I couldn’t see it, and I’m not aware that there was an audio described version of this keynote, which there should have been because it was prerecorded, but I can imagine the phone was probably just sitting on a table between the two people talking, one in English and one in Japanese, and the phone was just using text to speech to do the translation in real time. Really a very compelling demonstration. So there is a lot to like in the Google Pixel 6. And what it really makes me wish is that we could just work with Google in a spirit of constructive partnership to get the Braille sorted out.
If we could just have good Orthodox Braille support, natively integrated in TalkBack, boy, it’s getting compelling. It really is getting compelling. Another little wish I have regarding the Pixel is that it was for sale officially in the country I live in. It’s such a shame, they sound like they’ve done a great job with this phone. Why hide your light under a bushel Google? Why? I’d love to get this phone officially sold here and I can import one, but then it’s unlikely to work on any of our 5G networks. So, those are just a few of my thoughts.
What did you think of the big tech announcements of the last week? You are very welcome to get in touch and share your thoughts, firstname.lastname@example.org is my email address, that’s J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N@mushroomfm.com. And the listener line number is 864 60 Mosen, that’s 864 606 6736. That number in the United States. (singing)
Speaker 2: Hi, I’m Brian from United States, New Mexico. I ran into a situation with my iPhone where I was getting the ticking noises on VoiceOver, but it wouldn’t read any texts. And I went through three different associates at Apple accessibility, and then I also had started transferring that phone to an [LOI 00:19:46] which is iPhone 11 to an iPhone 12. And they said, “Oh, you’ll probably have to reset the whole phone.” Well, it turned out that I went to a friend of mine that’s an access technology specialist, and this has happened to me before. On the rotor, if you accidentally turn down the sound, audio or something, I forget what it is, it’ll just shut everything off. And if you can’t see, there’s no way to know when you’re on that part of the rotor.
So, I don’t know if you’ve ever encountered this. It’s fixed very easily if you get a cited person, you think Apple would have an escape clause like, “If that happens, there should be a button you can push if you’re all the way down at zero and you can’t hear anything.” Because really, if you don’t know why you’re not hearing anything, and it’s just that all the sound is turned down, that’s going to happen. So, I wonder if you know of any ways to resolve that, or if we should get on Apple to do something about that?
Jonathan Mosen: We had another listener who emailed in some months ago now with exactly this issue and some clever person at Apple, actually helped him to get this sorted out. If you want to avoid it happening again, and you don’t find yourself having to adjust the VoiceOver volume independently very often, what you could do is you could take the VoiceOver volume off the rotor. So, if you go into accessibility, and then VoiceOver, or you can ask Siri to open VoiceOver settings, and then you’d double tap the rotor options, you will find the volume on the rotor and you can double tap to deselect it. And then it won’t accidentally be there to turn down to zero.
And then if you do find that you want to adjust the volume once in a blue moon, as the saying goes, and you are running iOS 15, what you could do is you could add the VoiceOver volume to the quick settings. Now, the default gesture for accessing the quick settings is a two finger quadruple tap. So tap four times on the screen with two fingers, then you’ll get into your quick settings, and that I would suggest would be a safer place to put the VoiceOver volume. And I think that maybe Apple, if they can’t find a way to fix this issue on the rotor, perhaps they should put the VoiceOver volume there by default and not put it on the rotor.
I agree with you, there should be some fail safe. So if you toggle VoiceOver off and back on again, and the VoiceOver volume was set all the way down to zero, it should go back to its default of 80, because why would you have it all the way down? If you want to turn speech off, then you’ve got a gesture to turn speech off. And that is something that the Braille users do. So I’m very glad that you got it sorted without having to do the big reset of the phone.
This email comes from Haya Simkin and he says, “Hi Jonathan and listeners. You were talking about skills that Siri has lost over time. One skill I think Siri has lost is the ability to reschedule past appointments that have ended. I think you could do this until about four or five years ago. I would use this for doctors checkups when I wouldn’t necessarily have time to change it at the time. I really miss that, I want that back. One day I tried to do it after a mobility lesson and I couldn’t.
“I also have some questions about navigating since you mentioned that recently too. I can’t find Google Maps outdoors on the app store. And when I clicked on the link on their website, it didn’t load properly. Is the app restricted to some countries? I also have some questions about best practices for GPS navigation. Is it still accurate if the phone is in a bag or pouch? Or is it best to hold the phone in your hand the whole time? Do you have to keep the phone unlocked? Is the iPhone compass accurate? Sometimes I get told to go north and apps like nearby Explorer will tell you where that is, but is it accurate? In public transit mode on Google maps, can you get walking directions between bus stops? I can’t get it to do that and move it doesn’t do that either. But it would be really helpful. Does outdoors do that?
“Where I live, it’s common for bus stops on the opposite sides of the same street to have the same name. And I’ve gotten lost at least once, because I got on at one of those bus stops. This is more likely to happen when I’m going to a place I’ve never been to before and may never go to again. Like a medical examination. It’s not worth it to learn the route and I don’t have the money for cabs. I want to be able to use the tools I have to do that, but things like going to the bus stop with the right name that are on the wrong side of the street, get in the way. Is this universal? Or is there another way of labeling bus stops? What solutions are there?”
Well Haya, certainly in this part of the world, if you’ve got two bus stops and they’re on opposite sides of the streets, the bus stops have different numbers. So, this one could be unique to where you live. I believe that it’s possible that GoodMaps outdoors may only be in the former Sendero GPS countries. So New Zealand, Australia, I think the UK and the United States at the moment with the possibility of expanding to future countries at some point. So, that could well be the issue in terms of not finding the app on the app store.
If you’re outdoors and your phone is in a backpack, you’re probably going to get a decent enough signal, you certainly don’t have to hold it in your hand, I quite often use GPS with the phone in my pocket. If you have a self voicing app, then no, I don’t think you need to keep the phone unlocked if you’re just listening to instructions, you should be able to let the screen lock, but bear in mind, GPS is going to consume a bit of battery, no matter what you do. I tend to leave my phone unlocked most of the time when I’m using it. And in fact, one of the first things I do, whenever I set up a new phone, is to turn the automatic locking thing off. So, if I want to lock my screen, I do it manually. I don’t like it timing out. And I find that because I have my screen brightness set to zero, it really doesn’t make an appreciable difference to battery life, leaving it unlocked.
If you are going to use a lot of GPS, you may like to use one of the battery packs that are available. They will vary depending on the iPhone that you have, if you’ve got an iPhone 12 or an iPhone 13, then you could use the MagSafe battery pack that just clips onto the back. And that seems to work well. So those are just a few of the many questions. Some people may like to unpack and answer some of the other questions that you have.
Speaker 3: Be the first to know what’s coming in the next episode of Mosen At Large. Opt in to the Mosen media list and receive a brief email on what’s coming so you can get your contribution in ahead of the show. You can stop receiving emails anytime. To join, send a blank email to email@example.com, that’s media-subscribe@MO-S-E-N.org. Stay in the know with Mosen At Large.
Joseph: Hey Jonathan. I have two things here on the Android front for you. The first is answering the person’s question about notifications. So I think the issue is when you have notifications, sometimes they’re grouped together and you’ll hear it in a long group. Like for example, and a lot of times it happens to me when they’re silent notifications. For example, I may wake up in the morning and hear Google news something, an article, and then hear something from Twitter and something from a baseball app that I have. And they’re all bunched together. And if you try to do the actions and expand, it doesn’t really expand, they just stay hidden.
And this is on my Galaxy Z Fold 3, but I think it’s going to be the same for the gentleman or lady that had the Samsung phone that they were using, the way that you would view these notifications is, and it took me a long time to figure this out, I’m ashamed to say, but I figured it out. You just swipe up at two fingers. So when you see that, you do a scroll up and it basically opens those notifications, it’ll make the scrolling sound and then you’ll be able to see the notifications and you can expand them from there or whatever you want to do.
So, it basically just shows you more of the notification. I had no idea this was a thing until I just experimented and play with it. But I was very frustrated with notifications as well on Android, because I was like, “How does this work?” And then I figured it out. The second thing is, and I can’t take credit for this, [Ed Green showed me this on the list that we’re on, and I love this feature. A few caveats to this. If there’s an advertisement on the screen, something where, let’s say you’re looking at a newspaper website and they’re offering you a subscription. It won’t read it then.
But, most articles within Chrome or the Google News app or the Google Now feed, if you open it and you invoke the Google assistant, you can say, “Read this article to me.” The first time you do have to agree to some terms and you have to allow it the permission to view your screen. Once you do this, it will read the article. And what’s really cool about it, it’s much like Voxmate in the sense that it trims out a lot of the fat. Something that annoys me about reading an article these days, is you get all that Twitter nonsense, when someone tweets something, they throw that in the article, they throw advertisements, of course, and my experience is lately with VoiceOver, and sometimes there’s even videos. But my experience with VoiceOver and talk back has weaned a lot lately in the enjoyment of reading articles, just because there’s so much, I’m just going to call it, fat in there.
So with this, this read this article to me, you just basically get the heart and soul of the article and it’s wonderful. The other thing that you can do is, on the bottom of the screen, it has play pause, you can change the narration speed. So by default, it’s slow, you expand that up and then you can take two fingers and scroll that to the left and right, and change the reading speed. I have mine set at about 1.8 and it’s pretty good. And the voice is really good on that.
Jim Sullivan: Hello, it’s Jim Sullivan here from Southampton in the UK. I just wanted to talk about Podcast Addict on the Android and muting chapters, because it is actually very easy to do. I’ve got my Pixel 4a here in front of me and I’m in the playlist on Podcast Addict, which is where your new podcast arrive. And if I do a single finger swipe right, I should find-
Speaker 6: Episode 153 feedback from Windows 11, early adopters, Apple and Android discussion [crosstalk 00:31:15]
Jim Sullivan: Now, if I were to double tap on that, it would actually start playing it and play it all the way through. But by a single finger right, again-
Speaker 6: Labeled text, Mosen at Large.
Jim Sullivan: Now this unlabeled button with a bit of text saying Mosen At Large is the button which doesn’t really have very good description, but you can actually relabel buttons with your own text in Android, if that helps. But this particular button is very consistent. And as you go through the podcasts, it’s always after the first podcast description. There are actually three buttons for each podcast, so if I swipe right again, I get the play button.
Speaker 6: Play/pause.
Jim Sullivan: And that’s how you get those three buttons for each podcast. So, the middle one is the one that I need to go to, to more information and more settings about that podcast.
Speaker 6: Unlabeled text-
Jim Sullivan: So I’m going to double tap on that…
Speaker 6: Podcast Addict.
Jim Sullivan: And what I’m going to do now, what I could do is single finger right, to go through lots and lots of different options and information here, but I know that the chapters are actually near the bottom. So what I’m going to do to get to that quickly is move to the bottom of the screen with a single finger down and then up.
Speaker 6: Remove from playlist chapter/bookmarks.
Jim Sullivan: And I just did a one single finger left, to move up one and I’m landed on the chapter/bookmark. So I’ll double tap on that…
Speaker 6: Chapter/bookmarks.
Jim Sullivan: And now I’m going to single finger right swipe to move forward.
Speaker 6: Chapter/bookmarks selected. Chapters, bookmarks one introduction 39s 000000 [crosstalk 00:32:59]
Jim Sullivan: And I’ll single finger right again, and we’ve got another one of our famous unlabeled buttons. Now this is a unique one, because there’s this extra button that appears after the first chapter. And we’ll just ignore that and swipe single finger right again, to get to the next button.
Speaker 6: Unlabeled, text SX.
Jim Sullivan: Now, this is text that says SX completely meaningless, but this is actually the mute button. So you, in theory, could relabel that. But I don’t because this is a very familiar dialogue for me. So, I know where I am. So I’m going to double tap on that…
Speaker 6: Chapter introduction has been muted. It will be skipped during playback.
Jim Sullivan: And now, I’ll single finger right again…
Speaker 6: Two Apple event on October 18th, two minutes [crosstalk 00:33:47]
Jim Sullivan: And single finger break again, and there is only one button. We don’t get that extra button that we got on chapter one.
Speaker 6: Chapter Apple event on 18 October has been muted.
Jim Sullivan: So, we muted the first two chapters. Now I’m going to do one of these angle gestures, which is the single finger down and then left twice to go back to the playlist again.
Speaker 6: Podcast added. Playlist, unlabeled text, Mosen At Large.
Jim Sullivan: Now I’m going to do a single finger swipe right…
Speaker 6: Play/pause.
Jim Sullivan: And we should start on the third chapter.
Speaker 7: To what Apple amount. [crosstalk 00:34:33]
Speaker 6: 020 unlabeled.
Speaker 7: Will include a selection of those [crosstalk 00:34:38]
Jim Sullivan: Now, I just had to do a quick single finger swipe right, to move away from the [crosstalk 00:34:52]. So, that is muting chapters of on Podcast Addict on Android. And just one other quick feature, which I really love on Podcast Addict is the radio station feature, because you have got radio stations and there is a directory where you can search for radio stations and you can also insert your own radio station URLs.
Although when you try to do this, the description is it asks you to enter an RSS feed, but you can enter a radio station URL into there and give it a name and it will add it to your favorite radio stations.
Jonathan Mosen: Thank you very much, Jim, definitely news we can use there. So I appreciate that. I hope that we could convince the Podcast Addict people to label those buttons with a meaningful label, but that is very good, indeed. (singing) We have some comments in response to Marisa’s question about training centers and which one she might attend. Leena starts off and says, “Cheers for Marisa obtaining blindness skills training is not always easy and she will need a determination and the willingness to advocate for her needs. She is investing in her future and ensuring she has the blindness techniques to live as she wants. Which training center is right for Marisa? Is something she has to decide.
“Talk to folks who completed the programs she is interested in, then interview the staff at the training centers she’s considering. She knows what she wants to learn. How will the staff teach her the techniques to accomplish her goals? What is the center’s training philosophy? Sleep shades make the first few days of training more challenging, but they also ensure that the trainee really learns blindness skills. A cane user who can cross an eight lane highway safely while wearing sleep shades will certainly be able to cross that highway without the sleep shades, because the cane technique is solid.
“Ask about the schedule, will it be comfortable for a Marisa? How about the living conditions? Some training centers require people to share apartments, some do not. As always, there is the matter of money. If there is a good reason to pay for out-of-state training, some vocational rehab departments will, others will not. Is Marisa taking advantage of all of the resources available to her? Do so and keep a log because VA counselors often need convincing, especially if they are being asked to pay for a several month long program.
“Here are some resources specific to Los Angeles in an email sent just before the October Move-A-Thon Braille Institutes 1800 272 4553 invited folks who want cane travel training to call for appointments. Even though the Institute is offering classes virtually. Available to everyone in the world, the Hadley institution, 1800 323 4238, or www.hadley.edu offers workshops, podcasts, and discussion hours. All services are free and discussion groups can be joined by phone or computer.
“Podcasts and workshops are recorded, written transcripts are available. What’s cooking takes place every 4th Wednesday of the month. Many short workshops tackle cooking techniques to use. Hadley services, create a free account and start learning. The staff is very supportive, best wishes to Marisa and count me in for the grilled cheese sandwiches. Jonathan, I think your podcast is splendid. Whoa. The recording quality is always excellent and there is much of interest that we help each other is like the whipped cream on a chocolate sundae.”
Oh my word, how carby is this? My best to you Ed Bonnie.
John One: Hi Jonathan, it’s John One from in Los Angeles. Again, as so many others have done, thank you so much for what you’re doing on your podcast and everything else. And again, I want to congratulate you on being fair with those who may disagree with you from time to time and presenting both sides and listening and treating everyone with respect, much appreciated in this world. I’m calling because of Marisa, the blind woman who lives in the Los Angeles area, also, she was looking for a live-in facility in this area, and I wanted to mention two things.
First of all, she should be aware, if she’s not, that the Braille Institute of America offers classes throughout Southern California on home management, cooking, much of what she was seeking. All of our services are free, I say our services, because I’m a student teacher and I’m actually serving on the board at Braille Institute of America, so I’m biased. If she wants live-in facilities, I know that the Foundation for the Junior Blind, which has a new name, so I think it’s Wayfarer Family Services, something like that, but they used to be called the Foundation for the Junior Blind offered live-in services.
Some of my friends at Braille have actually used that service in the past, and I actually have a couple of friends who I think still teach there. Haven’t seen them in a bit, but I think that’s true. Anyhow, I hope she has good luck, and thank you again for your podcast. Much appreciated.
Jonathan Mosen: Debee Armstrong is writing in on the subject of Made for iPhone hearing aids and says, “A couple of months ago, I asked Jonathan on Clubhouse about this problem and later I emailed Scott. I’m updating you because Scott correctly diagnosed the cause and I think it could help others who might ask you for advice in the future. My hearing aids are the Costco (KS) 8.0 model, a rebranded Rexton aid. They worked fine with my iPhone as long as I was listening to something local. Anytime I tried to stream anything, whether it was a phone call, Clubhouse, internet radio, or any other streaming media, the sound would cut in and out.
“My audiologist kept telling me it was caused by VoiceOver, but he was pretty ignorant of Apple technology or blindness, so I didn’t believe him. My iPhone was stolen when I sent it to Apple to have its battery replaced, a long story, but I ended up buying a new iPhone SE 2020 edition. The problems have completely disappeared. This likely is because the processor in the phone is faster, and as Scott said, the same chip handled Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in my old phone, not sure it does in my new phone, but now the audio no longer cuts in and out.
I believe the older iPhones, my older SE, was purchased in 2017 simply did not work as well with the MFi aids as the more modern one. This is important for anyone whose funding source; parents, insurance providers, rehab, counselors, or relatives are bulking at the prospect of purchasing a new I device. Luckily I am my own funding source, but not all blind consumers have that advantage.”
Thank you, Debee. It does make me wonder whether if I were to take the plunge and update my iPad Pro, which I guess is not that old, whether I would be able to seamlessly shift between my iPhone and my iPad. It is the reason why my iPad is now this huge paperweight, because I can’t seamlessly switch from my iPhone to the iPad, even though they’re both paired with my MFi hearing aids. And even though the settings are set correctly, it would be nice to have the chance to try this out before splurging all that money on an iPad Pro that may have the same problem, I guess I could return it under Apple’s return policy. So, thank you for the update, I hope that helps others as well. (singing)
Charlie: Hey, Jonathan. Hope that you are good today. Recently, I recently played around with RadioBOSS and I just have a question about it. So let’s say I want to hear what is going on on the air, but I don’t want the speech to go out with the music or the jingles on the air, but only the music and the jingles to go out in the air, but still hear what goes out on the air in my earphones with my speech. How do I do that in RadioBOSS? That’s what I’m using and I found it so much easier to use. And I recently actually educated myself in how to use it. I’m so happy with the fact that I least now I know how to do the basics on it.
I’m going to teach myself some more about it, but yeah. If anyone maybe can tell me what is the hot key even to use on how to turn down, maybe the music and the audio so you can speak over it as you are going on the air in RadioBOSS, let’s say I don’t have a mixer dedicated to do that and I need to do that within RadioBOSS. How do I do it?
Jonathan Mosen: Thanks for your contribution, Charlie. I have not heard of RadioBOSS before, so I had to Google it to find out what it is. And for those who are curious like me, it seems to be an alternative to station playlist studio and creator, and that sweet, which is certainly the most popular in the blind community among the Windows using blind people. So I’ve never used this, I don’t know what features the software itself contains, but typically you would need a situation where you can put your screen reader through one audio device and the sound of the radio automation software, no matter what that software is, out the other, so that you can send that sound on the air separately from your jaws speech.
The way that I would do that is actually to have a mixer, that would be the easiest way. A mixer with Pre-Fader Listen so that you can have your jaw speech from one sound card or alternatively one set of outputs from your audio interface, because you can get audio interfaces that have multiple outputs. So you would have your screen reader coming through one set, and that would be on channels on pre-fade on your mixer so that they weren’t going out in the mix, and then you would have your other stuff going out in the mix with the fader up.
Now, if for some reason a mixer just simply is not on the cards as it were, I suppose you could do it by having a separate audio source that you plugged a set of headphones into and maybe wear one set of headphones and one set of earbuds or something like that, but you would need to separate the speech from what goes out on the air by having a different audio source for the speech. More on the subject of pride, this email comes from [Marilyn who says, “Hi, Jonathan. If it’s not proper to say that you are proud to be an American, because it’s not your accomplishment, then when is it proper to say that you are proud to be blind? That’s not your accomplishment either.
“You can be proud of the person you’ve become and the successes you’ve had despite being blind and due to your efforts. Otherwise, why not say you are proud to be a citizen of a great country. I think that’s being proud of the country’s accomplishments and your part in it. Every citizen does something to shape their country’s society, hopefully, in a positive way. Thanks for your consideration.”
I completely agree with you, Marilyn, you may have thought that I didn’t, because I was reading listener contributions who made the point that they didn’t think they could be proud to be blind because being blind wasn’t their own personal accomplishment, and it was me making the point that, well, lots of people are proud of the country they come from and in my view, rightly so. So I’m proud to live in New Zealand and I’m also proud to be blind.
So I’m agreeing with you. I think that you can be proud of things that you’ve accomplished, but you can also be proud of other things that are not accomplishments. I don’t think that an accomplishment is a prerequisite for pride. So I’m totally with you on this one. Darren McDougal raises a really interesting question and I hope we can get good quality discussion going on this.
“Hi, Jonathan. My kids 10 and under, have taken a great interest in Roblox, Mindcraft and Nintendo games like Mario, where they’re all sitting around with their own controller, joysticks, et cetera. I used to play an Atari when I was younger, though I’m not sure how well. They’re starting to ask if there are games in this category that I could play with them. The game would need to be visually appealing to hold their interest, I would think, but obviously also be suitable for me to play as a totally blind person.
“I can’t think of such a thing, but maybe they are out there and I just am not aware of them. I’d be interested in any input that people may have on this issue. Thanks and enjoy the weekend.”
Well, thank you, Darren. Enjoy yours as well. This is a great topic and my knowledge of this is hopelessly out of date. The first thing I would say to you as a parent whose youngest child is now 18 years old, enjoy this period where they want to play games with you, because a lot of teenagers metamorphosis into these grumpy people who don’t want to know their parents and don’t want to play games with you. So, let’s make the most of this time if we can.
When my kids were younger and we played a lot of games together, one thing that I was encouraged to do, and I’m really glad I listened to this advice, was to buy a Nintendo Wii, and they have these controllers, and we played games like Wii Tennis, and what was the other thing we played? Bowling that’s right. Bowling. There might have been some other games as well. And I could tell from audible cues and using the controller, what to do. I don’t think I got good at navigating the games and setting them up, but my kids did that. And then I would just take my turn and I could hear what to do, what was going on. And actually played some pretty good games of bowling and Wii Tennis.
I’ve also been interested in Minecraft and stuff like that, because my kids are still into it and they have their own Minecraft server, and they’re on there. They’ve got past the, “Yuck. We don’t want to play with dad,” stage, but they’ve pretty much grown up now. And they’ve got their own circle of friends and they probably don’t want their old dad in there. We used to play a lot of things like monopoly. Monopoly was our big game and sometimes we’d play it on the computer, sometimes we’d play it on the iPad, sometimes we’d play it on the physical board, because let the word go out from this day forward that I am the self professed world blind monopoly champion. Yes.
But I know what you’re talking about. You just want a modern electronic game. Now, accessibility of games has come a long way since I was looking at playing games with my kids. So, if you are a parent of young kids and you’re doing this sort of thing, I know that things like the Xbox are pretty accessible, these days, there are accessibility provisions on other consoles, what are people doing in this space now to play games that are engaging for the kids, but that blind people can participate in? I really hope you get some answers on this one, Darren.
Speaker 3: Like the show? Then why not like it on Facebook too. Get upcoming show announcements, useful links, and a bit of conversation. Head on over now to facebook.com/mosenatlarge, that’s facebook.com/M-O-S-E-Natlarge to stay connected between episodes.
Kim Park: Hello Jonathan, this is Kim Park. And your recent topic on blindisms reminded me of a warm experience I had when I was at a School for the Blind in Florida, in my early 40s, when I was coming out as a blind person and getting a white cane and other skills in order to adjust to tunnel vision with RP. And there was a student there who did this hand rubbing in a very severe way. One day I asked him if he thought it would be okay if it was a person in the room who had made loud screeching sounds that were very painful to hear. And he said, “Well, no. That would hurt my ears.”
And so I said, “Well, what if the person were deaf? Would that be okay then? Because after all the deaf person can’t hear it.” And he said, “No. It would still hurt my ears and everyone else’s too.” And I suggest that’s correct. And I said, “And that is the way that the manner in which you rub your eyes affects people who can see. It hurts people who can see the same way.” By the time I graduated from the school a month or so later, he was no longer doing that behavior in front of any of us, and I complimented him for conquering that as I’m sure he had been doing that for his entire life and he was a middle aged man.
I do not know what strategies he used to overcome that, but I found a way to use that again later, because about, oh maybe seven or eight years later, I had moved to Georgia and was an intern at a K-12 school and there was a high schooler, this was a school for the blind, there was a high schooler who did the rocking that you described and his teachers would correct him out loud attempting to get him to stop rocking. And he would have a loud argument. And he said the same thing that I heard you mention earlier, Jonathan, which was that, “Well, it’s something that people can see and doesn’t hurt anybody.”
And so he said that same argument to the teacher and I took him aside later on and I asked him the same question I asked the first gentleman, and got the same answers, of course. And so since I was a volunteer in his classroom, I asked the boy if he would like to work on eliminating it and that way his teacher wouldn’t be busting at him anymore. And he said, “Yes.” So we worked with the teacher, and the teacher or I, would walk over and tap him on the shoulder if he forgot and started to rock again.
And because he was voluntarily working on ending the behavior, he knew what it meant, and he would stop right away. It didn’t take him, I don’t think, two weeks to stop that behavior. And Jonathan, I can tell you this young man gained so much confidence and it was just amazing to watch how achieving that and no longer being admonished by anyone, because he wasn’t doing that anymore, I’m sure I’m going to take a guess that he stopped doing it at home too. Sometimes when we have, any of us, when we have a bad habit that we are constantly being asked to stop, it means it’s irritating the others around us. And so that’s a good time to quit.
Anyway, that was a fun experience, and I’ve never forgotten that obviously. I’d also like to share that on Dr. Phil on TV, I heard him say once that sometimes habits begin for one reason and continue for another. And I also know that modern counseling today can help us determine the root cause of bad habits that any of us might have and help us work through either overcoming what began the habit or work on ways to come up with something less disturbing to others. I hope this is helpful, and thanks so much for your wonderful work on your shows.
Jonathan Mosen: Paul Mccollum rights. Hi Jonathan, I enjoy your podcast. It does bring up many situations that is visually impaired/blind community we have to deal with on a daily basis. The reason for my email today is to see if there’s been any improvement on the playback situation with VoiceOver on the Samsung TV playing back through the Sonos Arc. I am very interested in a Sonos, as a new purchase, but at the price, I need to make sure that everything I require from it is doable. On that subject, how do you listen to your Apple Music? Best regards, Paul from the sunny Southeast of England?”
Oh, that’s very nice. Paul, the Samsung TV and Sonos work really well together, the Samsung has its voice assistant and it works really well when you have it enabled you get the full benefits of the Sonos Arc in terms of the Dolby Atmos support. Now, there was a TV that we demonstrated that I sent back, which was a Sony Bravia TV. And that did have a situation at the time where if you enabled the eArk port on the Sony TV, then the screen reader on the Sony TV would be disabled, and that’s why we sent it back. But that was the Sony one and not the Samsung one.
Now, because I’ve been happily using the Samsung TV that we bought instead of the Sony for around about a year now, I don’t know if the new Sony TVs have that limitation. I did contact Sony at the time and say, “This is a really crazy limitation, it’s a show stopper. You need to know that as a blind person, this is why specifically I am returning your TV.” But I don’t know if they ever fixed it in a subsequent firmware update.
So if there’s anybody listening, running a new Sony Bravia TV and they have eArc enabled and they’re using Dolby Atmos with a device like a Sonos Arc, if that’s all working for you, let us know. But it definitely is working fine on eArc capable Samsung TVs. In terms of how I listen to Apple Music, a range of ways, actually. We’ve got Sonos all through our house and we also have the Soup Drinker right through our house. So I often just yell at it and tell it to play a particular song, our rooms are grouped together in a logical way. So when I yell at a particular Soup Drinker, it plays on an associated Sonos device. It’s all very slick. Amazon Echo and related devices do have a skill for Apple Music, and you can enable that skill, it will ask you to log in and authenticate. And when you’ve done that, then you can play your Apple Music that way.
I also, of course, listen on my iPhone from time to time. And if you’ve got newer Sonos devices that are AirPlay capable, then you can simply give Siri command like, “Play don’t shut me down by Abba on,” and whatever the device is called and airPlay will do the rest. So I do that. The Sonos app itself is super accessible on iOS. It’s a great experience, and the good thing about that is that you can search across all of the services that you have configured in your Sonos app. So we’ve got a lossless music service because apple only recently got lossless. We’ve got Spotify, because it comes with my phone plan and various other services. And so, when I type in the name of a song, or the name of an artist, or an album, I sometimes get multiple matches and I can choose the appropriate one and play it on any of the Sonos devices.
However, now that Apple Music has got Dolby Atmos support for some albums, I do have to turn on the Apple TV and play Apple Music that way, if I really want to settle down and enjoy a good Dolby atmos recording, because that way it plays through the surround system that we have, which comprises a Sonos Sub, a Sonos Arc and two rear surrounds. And the only way to get the Dolby Atmos support is to play it through the Apple TV or some other thing that supports Apple Music with the surround sound. Currently Sonos does not support that on its own, which is a shame.
David,: Hi Jonathan. It has come to my attention that 2GB is no longer on TuneIn. I did a bit of googling and found out what happened. There’s all of the channel 9 own stations were taken out of TuneIn 2GB, 4BC, 3AW, as well as SEN. However, I can get SEN on the Sonos, but I’ve just come across the Skill called RadioApp. If we search for RadioApp in the Skill section, you can listen to the Australian stations, I mentioned. I’ve got SEN Sydney, SEN Melbourne, I’ve tuned in and it works both on the Echo and on the Sonos. Sadly, no SENZ at the stage.
And some other good news with SEN, they’ve got the cricket rights to the T20 World Cup Men’s and the Women’s ODI World Cup. I just hope they broadcast every single game this time, not just the New Zealand ones. Good on SEN for getting those rights. But I’m going to show you, Hey, on the Echo Dot, I’m going to be manually operating the button, so not to set anyone’s devices off. How you can get 2GB on here. I’m going to press the button now on my Echo Dot, open RadioApp and play 2GB.
Speaker 12: Playing 2GB 873 from RadioApp.
Speaker 13: New movie. It’s got an Allstar-
David,: Turn the volume down a bit so I don’t get pinged. So, that is how you can get 2GB on the RadioApp.
Jonathan Mosen: Thank you very much for sharing that, David. You must be in the New Zealand Store, because I am not, I’m in the US one. There are too many good things in the US Store that I would miss and RadioApp is not there, but for those in New Zealand and Australia with a Soup Drinker that is in their store, then that’s a very useful tip indeed. And very good to hear that SEN and presumably SENZ, therefore will be covering the T20 coming up. Hopefully, as you say, we’ll get all the games.
This email comes from Dean Charlton in Hamilton, in New Zealand, and he writes, “Well now, Jonathan, of course, this is my first time writing to the podcast. And my question is for all your clever Trevor listeners. I’m interested as to what they all use their Echoes for. Some things I use mine for, one, setting alarms. Two, making reminders, sometimes the same one every day and some one whole year out. Three, Wikipediaing people. Four, listening to my Kindle books. Five, listening to podcasts, such as Mosen at Large, other Echo related podcasts and any other technology podcast I’m told about.
“Six, occasionally play Spotify. Seven, listen to iHeartRadio for the superior sporting code of rugby and this year, the America’s Cup, 80s music channels, and of course, Small World and the Explosion. Eight, play lots of fun games and never hearing the same jokes twice. Another Echo question I have, please, is there any way of accessing phone calls you’ve made in the past? And I don’t suppose there’s a way of making a recording when you are listening to a music channel or the superior sporting code of rugby.”
Well, thank you for being in touch Dean. There is no recording capability in the Echo devices that I am aware of. And I imagine that is deliberate. There’s no storage, I don’t think in these devices, but also there’d be issues with rights. So no. There is no way to record on these devices that I know of. If people want to add to that list of things you use your Echo device for, then please be in touch.
May Thompson: Hi, Jonathan. I just thought I would tell you about something that happened at our school when we were 10/11, something like that. We would all go to our bed and we would talk as we would, and the house mother used to come in after lights out. And if you’d been caught talking, she told everybody to pull their pajama trousers down and then you would wait for what seemed like ages, which probably was only a few minutes, till she got the wet slipper, and she came and she hit everybody who had been talking, two or three times with this wet slipper on their bare bottom. And it was really quite sore, and it was horrible, because you were scared when you were waiting for that to happen.
And I remember, I’m sure it happened or three times, but I remember afterwards crying and saying, “I want my mum.” And that was horrible doing that. I remember that. And I’m sure there were many other things that happened. I remember we were at a walk and I think I fell and hurt my knee and I was crying and she said, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry for.” Just things like that, and these things stick, don’t they? They really do. Another thing that you might be interested in, not necessarily you, because you live in New Zealand, but I’m speaking to people who live in the UK and there’s an organization that, you wouldn’t even call an organization, what would you call them?
They send people frozen food every week and you get a delivery and it’s free. You can order so many meals a week and they deliver them to you and put them in your freezer. And it’s called the Wilshire Farm Foods. So, it’s obviously an organization just that it delivers frozen food. And I know that I’d be thinking about getting them, but I just looked at the website to see what kind of meals they had and how you… I thought, oh, this will be interesting that I tried to shop online just to see what would happen. But oh, the website is terrible.
There was a bit where you had to put in your postcode and there was no edit field. It would say, text field, but it wouldn’t say text field is editing, so you double tapped on it and nothing happens, so you couldn’t put your post code in. So, when you added something to your basket, it would say add to basket button, but nothing would be added. It would just keep pressing and nothing would happen. Keep double tapping on it, there wasn’t any quantity where you could swipe up.
It said one, but you couldn’t… Well, I didn’t find a way to add another quantity to it. Like 1, 2, 3, I couldn’t find that. Loads of unlabeled buttons, loads of images on there, you heard the wee sound where the images were on there, and I just sent them a message and said it was not very good VoiceOver at all. So, I was very pleased when they said they were going to look into it and they were hopefully something would be done, but I’m not holding my breath. They said they would talk to the app developer or the website developer, but I mean, people have said that before. So we’ll see.
Speaker 15: Jonathan, and other listeners on this show, this is the infamous Rashid Ali, not so infamous, calling from California. I’m calling in regards to a couple things. I am curious as to whether you or any of your listeners have ever heard of a company called Blackboard, I believe it’s incorporated. And I’m not sure whether they’re an educational company and they’re in charge of… Well, they provide some software called Blackboard Learn. Thankfully, my school district doesn’t use it, but we also have something on our web website that Blackboard runs and operates our school district website, which is now accessible enough to use it.
Previously, it wasn’t, and I’m curious as to whether you or anybody here has ever heard of it. The website, in case anybody wants to check it out, for my particular district, is obviously www.M-A-N-T-E-C-A-U-S-D.net. And that’s for the Manteca Unified School District, which is now accessible enough to use it. And there’s something that supposedly remediates documents, but doesn’t do a very good job at it. I don’t think it’s an accessibility overlay, but it’s just something provided through Blackboard.
And I’m curious as to whether anybody’s experienced it. Also, I’m wrap things up, I’m curious as to whether, I know you’re in New Zealand, I’ve been listening to your show for a while, as to how Civil Defense broadcasting works over in New Zealand and some of the other countries here in the United States, we have something called the Emergency Alert System, which interrupts radio, television, stations with three date of births and a dual tone attention signal. And it also works on the iPhones and every cell phone called Wireless Emergency Alerts.
I’m curious as to whether other countries have something like this, I know Canada has something called Alert Ready, Mexico has it in some degree. I’m curious as to how things work in other countries and how things work. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to listening to your show in the future.
Jonathan Mosen: Well, thank you for phoning in. I’m certainly familiar with Blackboard and their main educational software that they offer. That’s so prominent, but I don’t know if I’ve heard of any remediation things that they’re doing. So if anyone else has, and they have any insight on this, by all means, share it with the audience. In terms of what we have for Civil Defense in New Zealand, we don’t have all the bells and whistles that the United States has, but we do now have the emergency alert system on cell phones. And that works on all compatible cell phones, we’ve had that for maybe three or four years.
It is a fairly recent development and it seems to work quite well. They can send out a national message and it frightens the heck out of you when it goes off. In fact, because I’m a nerd and unashamed geek, the night that they announced they were going to do the first official test of it, Bonnie and I went out to a restaurant deliberately during the time that it was going to go off, so we could hear what it was like when everybody’s phones went off around the restaurant, it was fun. It was this rippling effect.
But even before that, there was this European company that was working on implementing the emergency cell phone system here. And they inadvertently sent a live emergency alert to the carrier that Bonnie and I were on at the time, in the middle of the night. And so, we had no idea, no warning, it was going to happen, and suddenly we got woken up from our deep slumbers by this thing going off. And Bonnie said, “What the soup is that?” Or something to that effect. It really freaked her out. And the people were not popular for inadvertently sending this alert out.
And we have seen it used when one of our volcanoes erupted. Every time we went up to another alert level change, we get an emergency alert. So, it has been used effectively, but we don’t have the ability to cut across radio signals or anything like that. (singing)
Iona: Hi, Jonathan. This is Iona from Montreal, and I thought I’d update you about our adventures with Siri shortcuts and accessibility. I, as you can probably guess, am now on iOS 15, the official release, and unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the accessibility of being able to edit shortcuts with variables and magic variables is gone. So I called Apple accessibility and found out something interesting that there was a policy change four months ago at Apple. And they now ask anybody that uses adaptive features like VoiceOver or Zoom or any other features to only call Apple accessibility if they have a VoiceOver or an accessibility related issue.
In other words, if you have a technical problem about your device and you know how to use VoiceOver, so it’s not VoiceOver related, the question, then they will try to pass you over to AppleCare. I can understand them, but I think it’s a little unfortunate, especially because my problem was clearly VoiceOver related and it felt to me like I had to negotiate with the tech support person to convince him that really, this is VoiceOver, because he was trying to pass me on to the shortcuts team and I could totally see a scenario unfold where they would talk to me and say, “Oh no. This is accessibility.” And the problem that would be passed around.
Luckily, it got addressed and the tech support saw the issue I was having with VoiceOver and they say that the engineers are aware of it and they will fix it in a future update, whenever that will be. To be fair. I think Apple has done a great, great job in accessibility support for shortcuts, and they add always nice, very useful features for people that like to tinker with them. And speaking of tinkering with shortcuts, I thought I’d discuss a little bit my favorite shortcuts and the way I like to use the app, one of my favorite ones is also a very simple but useful shortcut that I created and it’s called Show Phone and what it does, it’s actually showing the phone to somebody that is cited. It turns off VoiceOver and puts screen brightness up to 80%.
And then when they’re done, I just ask Siri to take back phone and it does the opposite. It puts on VoiceOver and dims the screen to 0%. So that’s one that I use it so often that I put it on the back tap of my phone. My other favorite way of using shortcuts is in managing multiple events in the calendar. I help administrate a school and we have 25 students and they register for sculpture sessions and the sessions are eight weeks long. So it’s very useful to me to just have a shortcut that asks me for the student’s name, asks me, when do they start the session? And then it automatically adds eight weekly calendar events. And one is called student name one of eight. Then the next one is student name two of eight, and so forth.
So that’s very practical because this way I can look at the calendar and I know where each student is at in their eight week session. I also have other ones that help send automatic email confirmations when they send us a payment and they update the calendar telling me when they paid. Anyway, the sky’s the limit, like I said before. There is another shortcut that I wrote that helps me check my weight. I have a smart scale that’s connected to the health app. And once I weigh myself, I can run the shortcut check weight. And what it does is it tells me my current weight, it tells me when was the last time I wait myself and how much I lost or gained in the meantime.
It’s a fun, quick way to keep track of health metrics without having to go and dive into the history of the smart scale. My next project will be probably, once I get to iOS accessibility back, to create a shortcut that was inspired by you, Jonathan, and that was as you were deploying the fact that Siri is not as smart as other assistants and cannot tell you when you are free on a certain day, what are your availabilities in the calendar? And I think that this is something that could be relatively easily addressed in a Siri shortcut. But like I said, no tinkering with shortcuts until VoiceOver accessibility improves again.
Jonathan Mosen: Thank you Iona, that’s quite inspirational. That people should play more with shortcuts. And one of my favorite Apple sites called macstories.net. If you join their club, MacStories thing, it’s a premium service, they have a lot of really cool shortcuts available. Recently, they introduced one that you can get which saves an article that you have on your screen in Safari to an audio file and stores it somewhere. It’s amazing what you can do with iOS shortcuts.
Your weight one reminds me of an old pair of bathroom scales I used to have in the 90s, talking scales. It would say things like you have gained seven kilograms, have a nice day. It had a switch where you could make it say goodbye or have a nice day. But after it delivered bad news, that whole have a nice day thing was biting. Biting.
Howard West: Hello Jonathan, my name is Howard West in North Carolina and I got a Ronnie Millsap story for you. After I heard you the other day, I remembered it. I was in school in Raleigh with Ronnie for maybe three, four years or so that I knew him before he graduated, but we were in the same dormitory, but he was older than I was. So he didn’t have much to do with me, which didn’t matter too much. But in those days everybody had Talking Book machines, which were the earlier record player type. This was in the mid-60s, I guess, when this incident happened, but the machines had a quarter inch phone jack that you could plug in headphones was the intention. But everybody plugged in extra speakers that they had and acquired for, whatever reason, and from wherever, but Ronnie only had one quarter inch plug.
So, he took, now he had several AC outlet type plugs then, male and female ends, we only had one female and several cords cut off of things that had male plugs on them. And those were four at the time was 110 volts AC. It’s 120, but that’s beside point, it didn’t make any difference. So he made up a single cord with his quarter inch plug with an AC female connector on it and the speakers he put male cords on several different speakers and I can’t recall, I think maybe a tape record to record off the Talking Book machine.
But anyway, there was only one outlet in the room. There’s usually four people in a room and there was one outlet on each side of the room. So you really only had access to one double outlet. So, when you get through it, you just unplug what you were using, plug in something else. So all the cord off the edge of the desk near the outlet, and a friend of his said, “Ronnie, you are going to regret that one of these days, you need to take those plugs off your speakers and put quarter inch plugs on them so that you’re not going to have a disaster.” “Well, I remember there’s no problem.”
So the friend had let it go. And my room was at the opposite end of the hall in the dormitory and I was sitting there one day, I don’t remember what I was doing, but that’s beside the point, it sounded like a bomb went off. The whole building shook. And I was pretty sure I knew what happened, because everybody ran to the other end of the hall and sure enough, he had a 12/14 inch speaker and he came in to connect that to the Talking Book machine and all these cords hanging there. So, he found the one he thought went to the Talking Book machine to plug in to the wall for power for the Talking Book machine and it was that speaker. And of course, blew it to smithereens and it sounded like it too. That was one hell of a blast.
Now getting away from Ronnie, you were talking about people didn’t know what to say, a lot of times. Years ago, I had a repeater on a local TV tower here that was used for two-way business radio. And I would rent it to other companies that couldn’t afford tall towers. I mean this repeater was at 1400 feet on this tower and even fairly good size businesses can’t afford that kind of height. So they would pay me to use my repeater and have the same effect without the expense. Now, each customer had their own subaudible tone, so they didn’t hear everybody else unless they just checked to see if there was anybody using it.
Well, I was talking to one of the technicians at the radio shop on our repair, and of course, his family had, or his wife had a radio on her car too. And I knew her and she knew me, but I don’t remember how it came up, but she started to ask me a question and then she stopped. She started to say, “Did you…” I know she meant to say, “Did you see.” Well, she didn’t know what to say, and she was stumbling there and she finally just quit talking. She didn’t want to say, see, and she didn’t want say feel, and finally, I called her name and I said, ” [inaudible 01:23:28], this is very simple. You say the same thing to me. You say to anyone else. And just to give you an example, what if I was talking to you on the phone and I said, I’m not supposed to be in town this weekend, why don’t I feel you up?”
The problem never came up again and I probably shouldn’t have done it, but it was a quick solution to that particular problem.
Jonathan Mosen: There you go, Howard, you might be locked up if you said that now, but point well made. My son Richard, when he was very, very little, twigged to the fact that I couldn’t see. And so, when he was watching a TV program that he wanted me to watch with him, he actually grab my fingers in his little hand and put my hand on the TV screen and say, “We watch TV daddy, put Barney on. We watch TV.” He put my hand on the screen. That is a hilarious Ronnie Millsap story. I was sitting here laughing and laughing, although it must have been very scary at the time. Glad that he didn’t do himself a major injury.
I’d love to hear from you. So if you have any comments you want to contribute to the show, drop me an email written down or with an audio attachment to Jonathan J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N@mushroomafm.com. If you’d rather call in, use the listener line number in the United States, 864 606 6736. (singing)