Podcast Transcript: Mosen At Large episode 172, memories of radio station launches, your favourite antivirus for Windows, your favourite labelling system and seeking national office when blind
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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. On the show this week, more wonderful radio memories from around the world. Taking the plunge and running for national office when you’re blind. We’re looking for your favorite labeling methods and wait to keep your Windows computer secure.
If you’re a first-time listener, welcome to our Mosen At Large community. I hope that you find this informative and entertaining. If you are one of the thousands that listen to this on a regular basis. I thank you so much and welcome you back to Mosen At Large. It has been a while since I’ve said this, but reviews can help. If you use a service that offers podcast reviews, and you have a moment to give us a five-star review and maybe make a couple of positive comments, really appreciate that. Thank you in advance for doing that. The podcast costs you nothing if you don’t mind spending just a wee bit of time and leaving a positive review where that can all help. The first thing I need to do is clear up some of the confusion that I inadvertently caused last week by giving you a wrong URL. I’m really sorry about that.
We’ve been pretty busy with the We’re With U event and it’s branded slightly differently than it used to be because it’s the letter U, so We Are With capital U for Ukraine. I got the URL wrong for the page on Mushroom FM which predates all of that change of branding. Let me be really clear about a couple of things because dear old Sunny Jim from Florida was most confused. He phoned me in a very confused state about what was going on with the concert. I will get it right this time. I’ve Brailled it on my hand. Ouch. The We Are With You event is our concert for Ukraine and it happens on Easter Saturday in the Northern hemisphere. It will be 2:00 PM on Easter Saturday, the 16th of April, North American Eastern time. It will be 7:00 PM on Saturday, the 16th of April, UK time. That translates to bright and early at 6:00 AM on the 17th of April in New Zealand, Easter Sunday.
It will be on Sunday in the Southern hemisphere. We are currently looking for blind musicians who would like to record a contribution for us. The contribution ideally should consist of two things. First, a wee introductory message introducing yourself, the music that you are about to perform, and perhaps why you’ve decided to be a part of We’re With U, the concert for Ukraine. The second part should be of course the music itself, we need a good quality recording. There may be one or two that we’ve received that we can’t use because they’re just not up to a high enough standard technically. Please try and keep that in mind when you are putting your contribution together.
We know that not everybody has a recording studios, of course, but it does have to be a reasonable quality recording. I have started putting all this together in the last week so that I don’t get swamped after submissions close on Friday, the 8th of April, North American time. This is the last Mosen At Large where I can encourage you to contribute your musicianship. You got to get it in this week, we’re not going to be taking late entries because it’s just too complicated a thing to put together. Please if you are a musician and you want to contribute, please get us something. A lossless format would be extra nice by the way, something like a flak file.
If you can do that, that’s super, we’re not going to die in a ditch over that, but it would be super to get a lossless version of your recording. As I say, I started producing the stuff over the week and some of the material that we’ve received is just phenomenal. I promise you that as a listener you are going to love the variety and the quality of the music that is coming in for the We Are With You concert. Of course, this is what it’s all about because we are raising money for the World Blind Unions Unity Fund for Ukraine. The World Blind Union are working with organizations in Ukraine, outside Ukraine, such as in Poland and other countries that are taking a large number of Ukrainian refugees.
The money will make a difference. Now, I messed up the URL last week so let me be really clear about what that URL is. There are several of them now popping up on our various broadcast partners and corporate sponsors’ sites but the Mushroom FM one that I’m responsible for is unambiguously this, mushroomfm.com/withyou. In this case, it’s withyou, the words W-I-T-H-Y-O-U, all joined together. Mushroomfm.com/withyou all joined together. You can also, if that’s confusing, go to the Mushroom FM homepage at mushroomfm.com and you will find a link for the We’re With U event on the Mushroom FM homepage.
When you listen to this event at 2:00 PM, Eastern 7:00 PM, UK on Easter Saturday, that’s bright and early on Easter Sunday morning in the Southern hemisphere, we do hope that you will have your best speakers, that you’ll crank it up and that you’ll also give generously to help the World Blind Union’s unity fund for Ukraine. I hope that helps and we look forward to your listenership, and if you’re a musician, to your contribution.
Misty: Hi Jonathan, this is Misty Kanveski here in the great state of Indiana in the USA. I was just listening to your recent commentary on capitalizing the name slash word Braille. While I was pretty much in the former camp of not capitalizing it before, whenever I actually listened to your commentary, I definitely switched over to the latter camp pretty quickly. You wrote this article very well or blog post, I should say very well. You also made the argument quite cogently and certainly concisely in the podcast. I’m definitely in the latter camp now. No question, but my main question for you on this subject is, would you happen to have any book recommendation that discusses the life of Louis Braille, particularly in the context of blind civil rights and fighting ableism and his thoughts on these subjects.
Also about the persecution, you mentioned against him for what he did, preferably obviously that book would be accessible in the US and to most parts of the world. His is a good book recommendation about Louis Braille and some of the things you mentioned, I would very much appreciate it. I’m sure a lot of your listeners would as well. Now that I’m done stumbling over my tongue on a recording on the phone, I’ll let you go now. Thanks again for all you do in connecting the blind community and speaking up for advocacy for us and with us, bye-bye now, have a nice day.
Jonathan: You too Misty, and thank you for phoning in on the listener line and don’t worry because I stumble over my worms all the time, nothing worse than stumbling over your worms. Now I am delighted to hear that you have been converted to the idea of spelling Braille when referring to the code with an uppercase B, it is a movement I tell you, and it’s a shame that we have had to even begin this debate and have this movement in the first place, but we will prevail. Thank you for listening to the argument and being willing to be convinced.
Regarding a book that you could read on Louis Braille. I had a wonderful, thoughtful gift from my oldest son, Richard, for Christmas. He brought over this big box and I thought, “Wow, what is in this enormous box?” I opened it up and it was a book in four Braille volumes from National Braille Press.
It was called Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius by C. Michael Mellor, M-E-L-L-O-R. It was a wonderful thing to do over my summer when I took a month off over December and January to just read this book in hard copy Braille. It has been a very long time since I read anything in hard copy Braille, let alone a book. I read with my Braille display a lot when things are behaving, I read with iBooks and Kindle and things, but I have not read a hard copy Braille book for a very long time, but I read this four volume book. It was fascinating. The research was thorough. It gave you a real insight into Louis Braille’s life. The appalling conditions that they experienced at that first building at the school for the blind which probably contributed to his ill health and his early death.
We find out about the kind of man he was, the obstacles that he faced. Regarding your references to ableism and advocacy, of course, I don’t think that Louis Braille would have used that terminology because of course they were very different times. He was a very quiet unassuming kind of man, very thoughtful, considered and learned. I think that we can look at the contribution he left us back in the 1800s through a 21st-century lens. That’s one book you can read. I’m sure there are many biographies of Louis Braille, and I have read some over the years, but that is the most recent one I have read and I really did enjoy it. Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius and it is available from National Braille Press at nbp.org and if others have recommendations for Louis Braille biographies, please feel free to share them. 864-60-Mosen is my number in the United States, you can call the listener line like Misty did.
You can also email me with an audio attachment or just write the email down, send it in to Jonathan, J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N@Mushroomfm.com. A bit of miscellany from Andy Rebscher who says, Braille? Yes. Nemeth should be capitalized too.
Well, the interesting thing is Nemeth is always capitalized. There’s some inconsistency there. He continues, “Hi, is it okay for residents of Maine, USA to vote?” No, it is not. Unfortunately, Andy, this is a New Zealand-only poll. If you go to the poll, the first vetting question screening question is, do you live in New Zealand? And if you answer no to that question, then you can’t proceed. If not, says Andy, Andy, can data from worldwide responses be tabulated for statistical analysis elsewhere?
Well, maybe it’s time that people call for a referendum in their country on the question of Braille with an upper case B, it’s time to claim Braille back, I think. On a tautally different subject says, Andy, I’m not quite sure why tautally is in there. Suppose you go to a concert, you have pretty good tickets, which means a good stereo vantage point, but loud with lots of Ls. If you have BoseQC35 headphones or another noise-canceling system that lets you utilize some control over the degree of noise cancellation, you can attenuate the audio you hear with fairly flat sound. Try it. You’ll never find better earplugs. Yes, you might look a bit weird sitting there with your Bose headphones on, but that would be good to protect your hearing.
Those concerts can be noisy. I remember when my hearing was much better than it is now, I would go to those concerts and I would come away really not hearing very well because they were so loud. These days I can just take my hearing aids out and that pretty much attenuates the sound right down. Another scattershot says Andy, have you ever tuned in a stream on the old soup drinker or some other device and the audio buries your Amazon JAWS or name it voice? People think they need to push streams up to the 100% peak level.
There are standards. Some of us call them LUFS. Loudness unit full-scale. This should bother anyone using a smart speaker, not just us fussy blind folk. I have just begun pleading this case to stations with whom I have an issue. You go, Andy, there are standards. I think that Spotify likes their streams quite high, like negative 16 or negative 14 LUFS that is quite loud.
Mosen At Large is at negative 16 LUFS because we do produce the podcast in stereo. I try to keep the Mushroom FM stream at a reasonable LUFS level. Now technically the European Broadcast Union standard is all the way down at negative 23. I can’t recall what the US broadcast standard is. Might be slightly louder. That is quite quiet, but it is the standard. There is all sorts of confusion out there, but yes, it’s not a way to ingratiate yourself with people over pushing the volume on the streams.
Marisa says, hello, Mr. Mosen, my question for you today, if I may is regarding the best labeling system you have found for identifying frozen poultry, beef, pork, et cetera, for example, most people who have sight would place the above-mentioned items in freezer-safe, Ziploc bags, and write with a Sharpie, the date and what the item is prior to placing said item in the freezer, being that my writing with any implement is atrocious and illegible. What are my options? I am legally blind just so you are aware.
I’m all for using the computer as opposed to a paper and pen technology of any kind that makes my life easier is welcome. I am aware that the iPhone has very powerful OCR apps. There is always Aira and BeMyEyes. I try to reserve using the latter for when I really need some form of assistance. Thanks, Marisa. You are spoiled for choice in this regard.
I’m sure that somebody is going to write in and possibly several people will write in with various options that work for them. There are some barcode solutions, whether they be stand-alone or apps that may do the job here, we use WayAround tags. I’m pretty sure, sure that you could find the right form factor for a WayAround tag and attach it to the freezer bag and it would be reusable if you used some rubber band to hold the tag in place. Then next time you needed to use it, you could just replace the thing that said poultry on another bag that has poultry.
That would probably work, all kinds of barcode things. Let’s just open it up and see what people would suggest for labeling those sorts of items. It’s a great question. It’s a practical question that a lot of people will have answers for. Imke is writing in and says, hello, Jonathan. I am currently reviewing my choices for security software and my Windows PC and iPhone.
I’m wondering what you and your listeners’ thoughts are on the best choices in terms of both effectiveness and accessibility. For most of my time using a windows computer, I have run antivirus software, like some kind of McAfee, Norton, AVG, and most recently Avast, but I find that the configuration options of such software is often not easily accessible. I mostly hope that the software does its job automatically. I would like to be able to take a more active role in my computer’s protection. Here are some specific questions. One, I am reading that Avira, A-V-I-R-A is one of the best antivirus software out there in terms of virus detection. However, like all antivirus programs I have tried, Avira seems to only be partially accessible with NVDA.
I submitted a support ticket to Avira to ask about accessibility with NVDA or JAWS. I received a reply on the next workday informing me that their software is not optimized for this application, but we have customers who use it in these conditions without any problems. Are any of those customers listening to this podcast? Is anyone able to configure Avira with NVDA or JAWS and use its functions?
If so, I am interested in any tips for doing so. Two, I am also considering purchasing Avira Prime in order to get access to their web protection and VPN service on all of my devices. Does anyone have experience with the accessibility of those portions of the software on Windows and or iOS? Three, what presently seem to be the most accessible and effective programs out there for anti-virus protection phishing/malware/web protection and secure browsing for example via a VPN? Four, on my iPhone, I use the program AdGuard for adblocking.
It appears to be quite accessible and works unobtrusively. With Apple already paying considerable attention to security, what level of protection should we be using on our iOS devices? Thanks, Imke. Hopefully, you’ll get some recommendations emailed or called in email@example.com. If you want to email an audio attachment or write something down, the listener line number 864-60-MOSEN, if you want to be in touch, 864-606-6736. That number is in the United States.
For those who use third-party security, the most popular one that I hear about anyway in the blind community appears to be ESET smart security. I don’t know how good it is at the moment, I used to use it years ago. Then I just realized that Windows Defender, if you know what you’re doing, if you don’t go places that you shouldn’t, if you’re remotely cognizant of risk is just fine. What I find is that most people are now just using Windows Defender, it’s accessible. It runs in the background. It does its thing.
I’ve not had any issues whatsoever since dumping these third-party tools and using Windows Defender. There are a lot of good VPN tools out there. My favorite is Surfshark. At the moment, it has an extension that works on Chromium browsers. That’s all right. The full app is a little bit dodgy on Windows from an accessibility perspective, but it’s very accessible on iOS and the price is right too.
That is Surfshark worth considering. If you use the Brave browser, then they actually have Tor built in to Brave. They take their security very seriously. If you haven’t checked out Brave on Windows, then it may be worth doing so from a security point of view. You are right that because of the sandboxed approach of iOS, the risk of anything happening to your iPhone is considerably less, but it’s not non-existent.
I use one of those extensions as well. I think the one I’m currently using is called WIPR spelled without an E, W-I-P-R and I looked at the reviews and that one seemed all right, so I got that one. Like you say, with your extension, it just runs in the background and it does its thing. I am a very happy Windows Defender user, have been for years. Actually, it is much better now than it’s ever been. I think quite a few people say that it is a credible, adequate tool and that Microsoft have made a lot of progress. You will find people who say otherwise, of course.
We’ll open this up and we’ll see what people have to say. Michael Pantelidis writes in and says, “Hi, Jonathan, hope you are all doing well, and thanks for all the fish.” Oh no, no. Sorry, I misread that. “Thanks for all the work you do for us. Last year, you helped me set up an iCloud Drive shortcut for my Dell laptop and it worked until–”
Oh, now you’ve broken it, Michael, you’ve broken it. “It worked until I upgraded to Windows 11 without even knowing it. Well, now, when I copy a file to my iCloud Drive folder, it will not upload for some reason. The files are not big and I have plenty of space available on iCloud. Any help would be very much appreciated,” says Michael. Well, the first thing I often tell people with computers is turn it off and back on again, or in the case of software, try uninstalling it and reinstalling it again.
I think that would be my first step. It could be that something between 10 and 11 just got corrupted or broken. If you can, try completely removing the iCloud app and then reinstalling it, that can often help. Obviously that you’ll then be invited to log in again. That may just be enough, the combination of a fresh install and a fresh login to get you up and running again.
Another thing to consider, is it just the shortcut that is broken? If you find your way to the actual iCloud Drive folder in File Explorer, you browse all the way to it rather than accessing that shortcut, does it work then? Because if that’s the case, then you may just need to recreate the shortcut. Perhaps it’s in a slightly different location on a Windows 11 system. If that doesn’t work, I think I would be on the phone to Apple about this one. I can’t immediately think what else it might be.
If you can see that it is running in the system tray, and of course, now that you’re on Windows 11, you will need to just check that the iCloud option is visible in the system tray because not everything is, it is one of my big frustrations about Windows 11. You’ve got to go into that hidden area and expose the icons that you want. If it’s all running, it looks like it’s running. If you know how, you could go into task manager and check that the process is running.
If all that is true and it will be, if you uninstall and reinstall again and it still isn’t working, the only thing I can think of is to give Apple a call. However, if someone else has had direct experience of this problem and solved it, please feel free to share. 864-60-Mosen. If you have some help for Michael here, 864-606-6736 or Jonathan@mushroomfm.com on the email.
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Mark: Hey, Jonathan, Mark [unintelligible 00:23:26] in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I grew up in the ’60s here prior to leaving for Nova Scotia and in the early ’60s, of course, FM was a new thing in Montreal. I remember going to the Montreal Association for the Blind starting in ’61, and about a year later, I remember a whole plethora of FM stations coming on air fairly rapidly over the years between ’62, ’63, and ’64.
Most of them started out a simulcast of AM stations with maybe a couple of hours of separate programming. CFCF FM at 92.5, which eventually became CFQR in 1966 if I recall. CJ FM, which was the FM station for CJAD on 800 on 92.5. Several French stations of course, and one that was French and English, CKVL FM, which the call letters now belong to a different owner of a community radio station, but back then the parent station was CKVL on 850 AM.
They did a whole bunch of different programming in the ’60s with various themes that lasted for 15 minutes to a half-hour to two hours a day. One in particular, I remember on CKVL FM was Make Believe Ballroom, which was a big band thing from 4:00 to 6:00 PM in the afternoon. Their newscast were in English and French about two and a half minutes each, with news, brief sports, and weather. Eventually, it became a totally French radio station, went to oldies for a while, automated and eventually hard rock and eventually pop, which is now CKOI FM.
The fun thing about listening to all those stations coming on the air for me was the testing, the tones, the experimentation, the separation from one channel to another, and doing balance tests and whatnot. An explanation maybe of what stereo was and how it worked, and you had those big pieces of furniture that had an FM radio and turntable in, and that was my first recollection of FM stereo.
For me, there were a lot of memories, but then I went to Nova Scotia University at Acadia in Wolfville about 60 miles from Halifax, which only had one FM station at the time playing country. I believe the power output was 50,000 Watts FM, which is not a strong signal, and if we were lucky we could get it in Wolfville in the beginning of the Annapolis Valley. From there, the big station that first opened up and I was in a radio broadcasting course at the time was C100 FM, an easy listening station, which was, I believe owned by CHUM group out of Toronto.
I knew some of the people who worked there because they were also instructors at the broadcasting course, a guy named George Jordan, who I still correspond with on Facebook today. I remember C100 opening up and playing test music, easy listening, and announcing that in two weeks’ time they’d be starting and we’re just experimenting and blah, blah, blah.
Of course, I left Halifax and moved to Edmonton where FM was again being established and started out maybe with three FM stations, and gradually the all-news station of the time CKO out of Toronto had an FM outlet in Edmonton, I recall that. Then there were other stations that came on, CKNG FM at 92.5 and the country music station at 103.9, an oldies station which was originally on 1070 in AM in St. Albert, a bedroom community of Edmonton, moved to 104.9 in the mid-2000s, I believe.
I was fortunate for me to have been in various locations when FM was just blossoming, and I love to do the DX thing when the summer skip came in and you’d get stations from North Carolina. Up at the cottage at Bouchette lake in Quebec here, we only had one FM station out of Sherbrook and eventually got some others that were from Burlington, Vermont with transmitters on top of Mount Mansfield. WEZF, I remember in particular out of Burlington, which was an easy listening station and it’s now Star 92.9, I believe, a pop station.
For me, a lot of memories of FM stations and the inauguration of the FM band in Halifax, in Montreal, in Edmonton, a lot of good memories.
Joe Norton: Hello, again, this is Joe Norton here in Dalton, Georgia, and this discussion of radio made me think of something that I hadn’t really talked much about, but it’s interesting, I think. When I was a kid back around 1979, I was curious about short wave, but I did not have a short wave receiver. One of the things I was curious about was station WWV and also CHU in Canada, but I’d heard about WWV from several people. It was a station that gave the time every minute, and I thought that was interesting, but I didn’t have a receiver to pick it up.
A friend of mine put his phone up to his receiver and let me hear it, and I could hear the ticking that went on, but I couldn’t hear too much because his reception wasn’t that good at the particular moment. But at any rate, I had acquired an old AM radio from somewhere and I was tuning around the band and all of a sudden, along with three or four different voices talking, and one of them was speaking Spanish by the way, and this is significant, I could hear a ticking. It was ticking every second, like tok tok tok. Something like that, and I wondered, what is this? Is this some kind of time station? Am I picking up WWV?
I thought maybe the radio had been messed up. Maybe something got twiddled inside it or something went wrong and suddenly it was picking up shortwave. However, I wasn’t 100% sure of this because every minute there was a tone and there was a little bit of morse code, which WWV doesn’t use, but I couldn’t really understand anything else that I was hearing and there were a lot of voices, at least two or three voices speaking. I really didn’t know what I was listening to. I eventually did get to hear WWV even before I acquired a short wave receiver, and this was in an interesting way, the local air force base in my area was Robins Air Force Base in Warner, Robins, Georgia and they had a number that they called a time hack.
Basically what this was, was if you needed to set your watch or something like that, you’d call this number to see what time it was. Interestingly enough, though, the time was given in GMT now UTC, but what they used was a machine that used magnetic drum recordings, and it was a time announcing system made by Odicron and the voice was a guy named Don Elliott Hield who also did the voice for WWV in the earlier days of the station. This gave the time every five seconds like this, 1 hour, 39 minutes, 5 seconds. Beep. 1 hour, 39 minutes, 10 seconds. Beep.
So on and so forth. You could call this number and set your watch by it, but not all the air force bases around the country did it this way. Many of them maybe couldn’t get the funds for a drum machine like that. Those were pretty expensive so what they would do is take a short wave receiver and hook it up to the phone, hook it up to two or three phone lines. When the phone was answered, the short wave receiver would be tuned to WWV. One of the air force bases that did this was Elmendorf air force base in Alaska and this is something that Elmendorf, as well as a few other bases, did back in those days. What they would do was to set this thing up so that you could call it and the telephone lines were wired up in such a way that the supervision signal would not be passed back to the calling end.
What this basically meant was the phone was answered, but your telephone switch didn’t know that the call was answered. You weren’t billed for the call and I could call this number and just sit on it and listen. I got to hear what WWV sounded like. It was a nice loud receiver that was tuned to WWV and I got to hear it and indeed I also in the mornings could hear JJY as well as one other station, at least I don’t know if it was the Soviet time station. I understand they used to have one a long time ago. By that time I knew what WWV sounded like and eventually, I got my own short wave receiver, but I was still puzzled as to what this thing I picked up on this AM radio was, well it turns out that it was a station in Cuba.
Cuba also has a time station. It is called Radio Reloj, which is Spanish for radio clock. This time station is unique for this reason it doesn’t use recorded announcements for the time. There are actual people in the studio who are sitting there and reading the time every minute, along with news items from the government news agency, and they still have a tick every second. According to its Wikipedia page, the station’s been operating continuously since 1947. This would mean that it was operating before the Cuban revolution and continues to this day.
This station broadcasts on the medium waves, the words, the AM broadcast band. I imagine many people that are not close to Cuba might not actually hear this station. It’s funny that I can still pick it up from where I am. I am probably about 800 miles away from Havana and here’s what it sounded like when I tried to hear it on my car radio this evening. I’ve got my car radio here on 610, and I’m going to see if I can hear, Radio Reloj. If you listen very carefully, I believe you’ll be able to hear the ticking, a beep, and the Morse code RR. [car radio]
You might think that that would appear to be that, however, there’s more to this. It turns out that Radio Reloj is also now on the internet and they actually have a live stream that you can listen to. Here’s a sample of what it sounds like when you hear the time announcement. I would let you hear just a little bit of the news that’s being read, not too much, because I doubt if many of you can understand Spanish, but you’ll be able to hear the beep as well as the time announcement and the Morse code RR. Here it is from the stream.
All right, so if you didn’t understand Spanish, you could probably still tell he finished reading a news item. You could hear him say Radio Reloj, there was a short beep followed by the time announcement and a Morse code, RR. Then he goes into reading the next news item. Although this sounds pretty cut and dried, there’s one more thing I wanted to demonstrate. The beep that occurs every five minutes in a cycle, say zero minutes, five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and on and so forth is a longer beep. In order to demonstrate this, I wanted to show you that there’s one guy who really seems to enjoy his job. Here’s what it sounded like at seven o’clock in the morning earlier today and you’ll be able to recognize that this guy has a very distinct voice. See if you can catch it and imagine waking your family up to this.
There you have it. You can tell this guy has a very distinct voice and when he says seven o’clock in the morning, he really means that it sounds like, and I’ve heard him do that more than once. This may be a regular thing for him. I’m not really sure, but there’s no question that he gets your attention. Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say about the station other than if you want to know it’s web address, you can go to www.radioreloj.cu and I will spell that phrase out R-A-D-I-O-R-E-L-O-J. It’s radioreloj.cu and there’s a page in Spanish that comes up and there’s also an English page that you can find if you search for it, it’s not too hard to find, but there’s a play button you can hit that will actually let you hear the stream.
Speaking of streams, if you have a Victor stream and you go to search Ootunes under the internet radio category, you can actually search for Radio Reloj is two words and it’s there. If you have a Victor stream, really want to hear this station, it is possible to hear it. Anyway, I just thought I’d throw something out there that if you don’t live near the Caribbean, you might not know about in terms of radio. This is a station that’s actually got quite a history, apparently. My best wishes for everyone, including the upcoming concert, I hope that goes great. It sounds like it’s really shaping up.
Jonathan: I think so. Thank you, Joe. That was a very interesting contribution and also to Mark, before him, for his contribution on radio memories, I do remember listening to WWV and as I recall, there were two stations that shared the same frequencies. There was WWV and WWVH and I’m not sure why that was, but they were on the same frequencies and they were in sync and they made slightly different sounds. we could pick them both up on shortwave here in New Zealand. You would hear a man talking on one of them and a woman talking on the other one, giving the time coming up, and I don’t know how they managed it, but they were in perfect sync. They didn’t really seem to interfere with one another. The signals didn’t seem to clash so perhaps there was somebody who has more of a backstory on the WWV and WWVH stations.
I also remember that there was an Australian station that you could get on shortwave that gave the time. I also remember listening on, I think it was 1610 kilohertz to this beacon in Ōhura of all places, which is a place that I used to visit quite a lot and they used to just broadcast the letter O followed by the letter R in Morse, over and over again. I’m not sure why that was on 1610, because I think there were a few other beacons on longwave. You can call, I think WWV, you used to be able to, and I think it was on the Mosen Explosion many years ago now that somebody told me that you could do this. I put the number in my phone because I thought, wow, this is quite exciting, no static or anything like that. You can just call it up anytime and I do remember listening, calling in so that I could hear the leap second to keep everything in sync every so often you get a leap second and you get an extra second in a minute. I remember listening to that. I wonder if you can still call them because now I’ve got a plan with my cellular provider that lets me make international calls minutes are so cheap these days they don’t care. I can make all sorts of calls. Let me just see. Call WWV.
Siri: Just to confirm, you’d like to call WWV, work?
Siri: Calling WWV. Work.
Automated: Phone call WWV.
Jonathan: There it is. Oh, I can hear server going back. That’s a fun trick. Let’s just wait for the minute to go by. You get a free echo into the bargain. I’m not talking about the one from Amazon. Just wait for the time to tick over here. Meanwhile, I can tell you that if you want to be in–
Automated: [crosstalk] 53 minutes coordinated universal time.
Jonathan: There it is. Sometimes there was that tone accompanying the seconds, and they do make announcements of different kinds as well from time to time, not quite as exciting as that Cuban station, which I had not heard of before. Imagine working on that thing. We also have a local clock number in the 1990s, we got 0900 numbers here. We first got 0800 numbers, toll-free, which was borrowed from the 800-area code in the United States. Then they eventually introduced 900 numbers, but they didn’t become the wild west that I understand 900 numbers became in the United States where there were all sorts of naughty numbers you could call.
But there were various services that charged for premium content. I actually ran one for a while with my brother. We provided sports information on a 900 number. There are very few 900 numbers left in action now, but I’m pretty sure the time one still works with Keith Richardson voicing it. I’m not even sure that Keith Richardson’s still alive. Let’s see if this works, call 0900-45678.
Siri: Just to confirm, you’d like to call 0900-45678.
Siri: Calling 0900-45678.
Jonathan: You going to pick up? Maybe they don’t pick up anymore. Oh, no.
Automated: Good morning. Welcome to the industrial research limited talking clock.
Jonathan: That’s bad audio, isn’t it?
Automated: On the third tone the time will be 7 hours, 55 minutes, 0 seconds. On the third tone, the time will be 7 hours, 55 minutes, 10 seconds.
Jonathan: There you go, Joe, that’s similar to the one that you were talking about, where they were giving you the time every 10 seconds, but no built-in echo back on that one. I suspect that was just a dodgy international circuit when we called WWV, but you do get the time every 10 seconds and a lot of this that is an old, old service. I wonder how much it costs per minute to call that now.
Peter: Hi Jonathan, it’s Peter from Robin Hood county, hoping you and your family are well and also all Mosen At Large. While being ancient, I can remember quite a few radio stations launching Radios, 1, 2, 3, and 4 which replaced the home service for Radio 4, Radio 3 was the third network, Radio 2 was the light program and Radio 1 was born to give us pop music, which basically replaced the pirate stations that were closed.
Speaker 2: But now with the clock ticking slowly up to 7:00 AM. It’s going to be time to welcome Radio 1’s first early show on 247 meters medium wave whilst breakfast special continues on Radio 2. 10 seconds to go before Radio 1, Tony Blackburn and Radio 2 Paul Hollingdale stand by for switching. Get tuned to Radio 1 or 2, 5, 4, 3. Radio 2, Radio 1 go.
Jingle: The voice of Radio 1, just for fun music too much.
Radio 1: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the exciting new sound of Radio 1.
Peter: Then followed local radio. Radio Nottingham launched around 1969. I think I can’t be sure. It may even have been later, but I think Radio Lester launched before Radio Nottingham. Then in the ’80s, we had Radio Trent, which was a commercial station, which morphed into one of the gold stations. I think that plays old music ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, et cetera. In the ’90s we had a couple of local radio stations here, which had short-term licenses.
One was called Globe FM, and one was called Heatwave and they played reggae, Calypso, Mento, Highlife, Kwela that kind of music, mostly from Africa, the Caribbean, et cetera. The two very localized radio stations have now gone as far as I know, but the rest are still flourishing well.
When radio, 1, 2, 3, and 4 launched, I was at boarding school and there was a lad in our dormitory with a radio and it was a great moment on Saturday morning listening to the launch and that kind of thing. It was brilliant. Of course, Radio 7 disappeared, didn’t it? Morphed into Four Extra so they could put all their rubbish programs on Radio 4 extra that nobody wanted to listen to like Quote Unquote.
Andy: Hello, Jonathan. I’m also a huge radio geek. I love listening to a lot of radio station format changes and things like that but there is one in particular that literally just gave me chills and they got me quite emotional. It was a radio station out of New York that changed their format back in 2019, it was a 95.5 PLJ out of New York. It got me really emotional because the DJs were really getting raw about the fact that they were losing their jobs.
A lot of you, they were trying to realize what they were going to do with their lives but I think the thing that got me the most emotional was at the end of the radio station and when they were about to sign off, they literally played the last few seconds of The End, by the Beatles off of their Abbey Road Album. When I heard that, I just effectively lost it pretty much because it’s like, that’s when it just hit me. This is the last time we’re going to hear these guys. You could hear it in their voice too.
It was honestly one of the most professional sign-offs I’ve heard but it was also just chilling because they were losing their jobs and a lot of the DJs were getting really emotional towards the end. It honestly just gave me chills and it really is sad that terrestrial radios as we go towards streaming services. It’s like, I feel like in a way it’s dying in a sense, but we really need to realize that it’s not, because radio can be there for us in situations of emergency and things like that.
Jonathan: Thank you for your contribution, Andy. I did hear that sign-off and yes, it was really emotional, especially the breakfast show people and the way that they signed off, it was quite a big deal because that station was a significant contributor in its day to the New York market. I think ratings had started to suffer for a wee while.
Another really good us sign off that I’ve heard is the sign off of 93 KHJ and the last hour or two of that was quite spectacular because they went through and played a montage of all of the jingles, which reflected all of the formats that KHJ in Los Angeles had done. The way that people listen to radio is definitely changing. We only have one actual radio in the house and that’s for emergencies.
When we listen to a radio station, we listen on our Sonos devices, but radio is still I think, alive and vibrant if you know where to find it. My views on this are pretty well known because of the Internet’ radio work that I have done but, in an era, where you can dial up pretty much any song that you want on any number of streaming music services. You just need to ask your personal assistant of choice to play the song that you’re after. Chances are very high that you will get that song. What makes radio special?
To me, what makes radio special is the thing that’s always made radio special. That is the relationship that listeners and broadcasters forge together. That’s why I have never been a fan of the idea of just putting a radio station on automation and letting the music play and on stations like Mushroom FM, we do whatever we can to have a voice stringing all of our music together. You illustrate in your contribution the power of that, because that close down that you heard obviously had a huge impact on you.
It’s three years ago now, and yet you still remember it and it moves you. That’s because of the people who were a part of your life that were suddenly disappearing. I’ve been a part of this too in the 1990s and the radio industry in New Zealand radio stations were changing owners and changing formats. It became this really deregulated mess in New Zealand.
I was let go as a result of a format change or two, and you do get listeners who call in and are very emotional. This is often why when there’s a format change, radio station management wants to make it clean quick, and they don’t even give people a chance to say goodbye, because often when they do get a chance to say goodbye, it doesn’t always end well, but radio is alive and well, and it is about those relationships.
Sure, the music that you listen to will bring back memories of where you were when certain songs were playing, how old you were when you were at school, that sort of thing, but the people who played you, that music are also really special, we’ll all have our favorite broadcasters, the people who presented it, who brought the music to us because we liked the way that they did it. That’s the radio that we are continuing to create on Mushroom FM. I think it’s really important.
Jonathan: Back to Menulog now, remember Menulog we talked about this food delivery service for Australia and New Zealand a few weeks ago. Carolyn Pete says, “Hi, Jonathan. I am not impressed with Menulog either. Today, I ordered some food for lunch and lunch was delivered, but not to me. I used the chat function and discovered it was up the road at a different address. They would not get the driver to pick it up and deliver it to the right place. They offered me a $35 voucher. I said no, as there was no way I would ever spend that much on a meal. When I live alone, I said, they are obligated under New Zealand consumer law to refund me the cost of my order. She agreed to do that, but it’ll take five days. Why bother having the phone contact in the app if they are not going to answer and just push us towards the app and website.”
Thanks, Carolyn. We did finally use our $35 Menulog voucher, but still at the time of recording, we only have a limited number of restaurants, all those wonderful, yummy central business district restaurants that we once had access to are gone to us, still gone to us, they are. There is one restaurant on Menulog that we can still have access to that we actually quite like and is not available on any other platform. We’ve ordered it a couple of times since my awful experience. So far we haven’t had any problems, but it’s weird, isn’t it? When you get food delivered to you that’s not for you. I remember being on a call with our chief operating officer at work and the doorbell rang. I said to him, let me just go and see what’s at the door.
He said, what have you bought this time? I said, to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t bought anything. There’s no parcel that I’m aware of being delivered. I ran up to the door, wondering if it was some marketing person, opened the door and I could smell this food. I thought that’s weird. I went out and there was this bag and I picked up the bag, took it inside to find out what’s in this bag. All this coffee was leaking outside the bottom of this paper bag. It was gross and it made a mess in our little vestibule as you come in the front door.
When I realized it was Uber Eats with coffee pouring down my leg, I went out and I said, Oui, oui, I said, “This isn’t mine. I didn’t order it.” He took it away. Soaky paper bag and all. If you were just sitting there, minding your own business, say at lunchtime, and you get someone at your door and it’s a really delicious meal that you didn’t order or pay for and it’s sitting there tempting you and the driver has already left, because all our deliveries at the moment are contactless due to the pandemic. They ring the bell and sprint and go on to their next thing.
If you are not able to contact the driver because it’s not your order. You can’t go into the app and contact the driver, what would you do? How long would you leave it? 20 minutes, 30 minutes.
Then the food starts to get cold and suddenly temptation gets the better of you. You open that bag and you chow down on that food that you didn’t order. Maybe there will be repercussions, maybe there won’t, maybe they’ll come back and say we delivered something that wasn’t yours. What do you do in that situation? You say, “I ate it. It was just sitting there. I gave you reasonable time, you didn’t pick it up and now I’ve eaten it.” Do they have the right to charge you? How would they do that? Things that make you ponder. An email from Don, which says, “Hi Jonathan, I don’t know whether other people find this, but I find the lack of some sound when the screen of my phone comes up most annoying, especially when I’ve had to restart my phone for some reason.
There is no sound to let me know that the phone has successfully rebooted. I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to include a sound when the phone first turns on, what do others think?” Don, I’ve been saying ever since I got an iPhone and it’s a very long time ago now that I just don’t understand why the phone doesn’t give a little vibration when you first power it on. When I used to do a lot of iPhone training, this was a real bug there for many people that they hadn’t held the power button down long enough, or they’d held it down too long and the phone hadn’t restarted.
If the phone would only give a gentle vibration like most phones do, that would sort that out. It’d be good if we could jail break the iPhone and put the Nokia startup sound, dinger ding dinging at the beginning or something. It’s a fair point. A vibration when you first power it on, it may be an optional startup sound.
Of course, Apple did backtrack with startup sounds on the Mac. They went through a period where the Mac didn’t make a startup sound and people said, “Oui, bring it back.” It would be nice to think that there would be at least an option to have a sound when the iPhone came on. I think that little vibration, that haptic feedback when you first power it on is an essential accessibility tool.
What do you think about this? 864-60-Mosen is my number in the United States, 864-606-6736 firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to attach an audio clip or write something down, let’s talk some more about what some people consider one of the most elusive iOS gestures.
It’s the two finger scrub, here is Ioana who says, “Hi, Jonathan, I’m responding to your listener, who was having some issues with the scrub gesture. Since you mentioned this is a gesture that appears to be problematic for many people. I thought I’d mention how I use it and get it to be perfectly reliable in case this helps someone. Imagine that the screen of your device is dirty and you need to scrub it clean, no need to think of performing a Z from left to right. I just use two fingers to flick up, down and up again, without my fingers, leaving the screen, they move parallel to the left and right edges of my iPhone.
In fact, only one direction change is sufficient for the gesture to be registered for me. Just up and back down will do it. I get to exercise the gesture even by flicking down, up and down again. For me, the main requirements to get the gesture to work, move the two fingers swiftly exactly like you do to scrub off a surface, keep the motion continuous. In other words, don’t stop before changing direction. Moving your fingers along the same trajectory back and forth feels natural for me and gets recognized every time.
Another way to think of the movement is curling and uncurling your fingers while the tips are touching the screen, I understand that this is easier to show than put into words, but I thought I’d give it a go. Hoping this can help some listeners tame this elusive gesture. Thanks for all your great work in sharing such interesting content and for facilitating such inspiring exchanges in the lively Mosen at Large community.”
Thank you very much, Ioana. I appreciate you sharing that. I hope it helps somebody who’s having difficulty with the gesture. Ali Camez is writing in and says, “Hi, Jonathan recent discussions on the show coincided with my desire to buy a new computer. I thought I’d chime in with a thought or two.
I am finally getting rid of my trusty HP laptop. Why? Partly because the Realtek audio driver is driving me up the wall. Partly I just wanted a new toy to play with. I have found over the years that at random intervals, my JAWS speech, which I have rooted through my internal speakers become quiet and muffled as if I am hearing it through a telephone. It sometimes fixes itself when the sound goes to sleep after a period of inactivity and then wakes back up. Recently, however, the thing just would not stop playing up and only an upgrade to Windows 11, which was not in the pipeline for me solved the problem. I figured it was about time I got rid of it”. Ali, I have seen this. When I had an HP, which was quite a nice thing, a HP Spectre Folio, a rocking leather laptop, I saw this too with the speakers. It is annoying. It really is. Ali continues. “I decided that I would pay for someone to build me a customized desktop with all the bells and whistles. Correct me if I’m wrong.”
“I have a hazy memory of you mentioning that you had your studio computer custom built and maxed out with as much power as possible.” Yes, I did. It was built by Henry the wonder son-in-law and it was a great co-design project. A good way to bond with your son-in-law. Anyway, on with the email. “I am planning to install an internal sound card into the tower to avoid ever having to deal with Realtek drivers. Have you got an additional internal sound card? If so, do you have any recommendations?”
“I am leaning towards a Sound Blaster one since they appear to be popular, according to my research.” Well, yes, obviously I’m dealing in audio. I use the built in sound card, which seems to behave itself for jaws speech coming into my mixer because you’re going to get no argument from me that if you were to look up real tech in the thesaurus, you would get abomination as a synonym, but when I’m using real tech stuff on the desktop, it doesn’t seem to be nearly as bad. It seems to be tolerable.
I do use the Realtek card for jaws speech, but I also have an audio interface, which is a Focusrite 8i6. It’s got lots of inputs and outputs, and it’s a brilliant audio interface apart from the fact that the software for it is annoyingly inaccessible. That said, once you’ve got it set up and configured at the beginning, you can do most things you need to do through Reaper or a little accessible app that is in the Windows control panel. That’s what I’m using. It’s an external box and it’s really good quality. That’s the thing that I need.
Sound Blaster, I would associate that brand with gaming really more than anything else. It all depends what you want, but there are plenty of very good quality audio interfaces that you can get, most of them external. You would just plug it into a USB port and then you’ve got all your ports that you can plug your audio peripherals into. I noticed later in your email, you do talk about music production. If you’re going to do music production, get something that’s really geared to that. The MOTU M4, M-O-T-U M4, is another good brand.
Both of these, the Focusrite and the MOTU have a feature called loopback. If you don’t have a mixer, that can be a real help for recording screen reader demos. I also use it when I’m recording voiceover IP sessions, Cleanfeed, which is what we use at Mosen At Large, records itself of course, but it’s always good to have a backup for redundancy. Let’s go on with the email. Also, while I do plan to install a powerful i9-1618 Core CPU for music production and other fun stuff, I thought I might get away with a normal GPU to save some cash.
Do you think this would pose a problem with the jaws of video intercept driver not working properly for want of a fancy graphics card? No, I don’t. In fact, it won’t be too long before we won’t have the jaws video intercept driver at all. That’s really gone. It’s a thing of the past. I think you’ll be totally fine with that setup. On another note, I’m sorry to hear that Android did not cut the mustard for you. I have used it for several months and have not once looked back.
I did not sell my iPhone immediately, as I thought keeping it as an insurance policy might be sensible, but after using my new Pixel for about half a day and customizing it to my liking, I knew that the iPhone would probably be as useful to me as a chocolate teapot. It went on eBay and was sold a few days later. There are a few irritants, which I have learned to adapt to like the fact that I have no mute switch on my pixel, and the fact that you tend to have to be precise with your taps.
Generally, when double tapping, I find that it needs to be a short, sharp tap for it to register. For a multi-finger gesture, my fingers need to be more spread out, because of this I use fingers one and three rather than one and two to create that gap when doing, say, a two-finger double tap. The other efficiency bug there is that it cannot keep up with my flicks if I am going too fast. On my iPhone, I used to be able to flick right or left several times very fast, probably about five or six flicks a second, and it would keep up, not so with the Pixel.
I’m guessing these are hardware issues rather than Android issues though. Did you have similar problems with your S21? I can’t really remember. I guess, I’m aware that every touch screen is a bit idiosyncratic, so I just take them for what they are. I’d have to try the flicking test next time I get it out of the draw. Apart from that, the email continues. “I’m really enjoying the level of customization and the amount of accessible apps. I got several fantastic ideas from the Blind Android Users Podcast, hosted by Ed Green and others, and also from the associated mailing list.”
“I would encourage anyone even remotely interested in Android to just dip into the podcast archives and have a listen. By the way, Uber works perfectly fine on Android. The TalkBack brail keyboard is also awesome aside from the fact that Google has committed the crime of the century by compelling us to use UEB. UEB for me is like soup for you. I don’t think I can express it stronger than that.” Gosh, no, I couldn’t imagine how you could, swearing on Mosen At Large.
“I could go on and on about the virtues of Android, but I don’t want to sound like a salesman. I promise I’m not being paid by Google for the payer. I do agree with you that we are in a healthy place now that there is a realistic choice of mobile platforms for blind people.” Thanks, Ali. I’m glad that Android’s working out for you and all the very best with that new beast of a machine. I’m sure you’ll love that.
Advert: What’s on your mind? Send an email with a recording of your voice, or just write it down. Jonathan@mushroomfm.com, that’s, J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N@mushroomfm.com, or phone our listener line. The number in the United States is 86460 Mosen. That’s 864-606-6736.
Jonathan: Most of us from time to time have thought these politicians don’t know what they’re doing. I could do a better job, and it’s a pub talk, isn’t it? Taking that next step, running for office or standing for office, depending on where in the world you are, that takes tenacity. It takes courage and it takes planning. It’s been my belief that we need more blind people in elected office. I’ve stood for parliament here in New Zealand twice myself. It was quite the experience.
When I heard that Rebecca Blaevoet had stood for parliament as well or run for parliament because she’s in Canada, I thought it would be great to get her on the show, compare a few notes, and learn about her story and what made her decide to be a parliamentary candidate. Rebecca, good to have you with us. Whereabouts in Canada are you?
Rebecca Blaevoet: I’m in Western New Brunswick. For American listeners, it’s like if you went to Bangor, Maine, and kept going off of the US map, you’d end up in New Brunswick.
Jonathan: You’ve been a listener to the Mosen Explosion and other things on Mushroom FM for a while. Through that process, I’ve picked up a few things about you that really fascinate me. We are going to predominantly talk about the election. For example, sometimes I will play a song on the Mosen Explosion and you will make a comment, like, “I missed out on this and all the further around this track because I was in a monastery.” Can you tell me a bit about that? It sounds like you’ve had a fascinating history.
Rebecca: Oh gosh, we could spend a long time on that particular subject. It was five years of my life that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I entered an Eastern Orthodox Women’s Monastery with the view of becoming a nun in 1997, that point the time stopped. It was very cloistered and there were no newspapers, no radio, no television. I missed out on all sorts of things which had evolved by the time I left the monastery.
The thing that precipitated leaving was 911 because this monastery was in California and my visa was coming up for renewal, my religious worker’s visa, which is a temporary visa in the States. You have it for three years, and then you apply for a new one, then you apply for a new one until you– I suppose, until you apply for some change of status, like citizenship or something which it seems, it’s almost a really murky pool. You don’t want to put your feet into if you’re a temporary religious worker. Anyway, 911 happened and my visa was coming up for renewal at the same time. They basically said, “Based on nothing, your monastery isn’t a traditional monastery. You’re not a traditional nun. You have 10 days to get out. We thought that perhaps they just didn’t want foreigners dressed in black, running around, doing nefarious things like praying. I did, I came back to Canada and then I gradually went back into the world, back into civilian life because it’s too hard to be half-in and half-out of something. That’s the story in a nutshell, but boy, what a five years it was. Pretty special.
Often when people will talk about, 20 years ago, X, Y, Z happened immediately in my mind, I think, oh, 1979, which is a crazy thing, crazy, crazy thing. The deep profound effects of doing something like that, or you don’t even know how to calculate them. They impact so much of your life. DVDs hadn’t been invented; the internet wasn’t really a thing. It kind of was if you were a geek, but it was still dial up really and very slow connections Eudora and things like that.
They were bulletin boards. I came back in 2002, and I remember almost the first conversation I had with my sister. Well, one of the– not the first [chuckles], not by any stretch the first conversation, but at one point I said to her, “I want to get on the internet.” I really wanted to learn welsh at that point. I said, I think I need to get on the internet. She said, “Well, let’s start. Do you have a service provider?” My response was, “Well, I have a button on my computer that says Internet Explorer.”
She said, “No, that is not how you get on the internet. You can’t click that. Nothing is going to happen until you get hooked up with a service provider”, so many things had changed in that five years, the tech bubble had happened. I don’t know, just tons of things had changed. Yes, quite a crazy experience to do that.
Jonathan: Given that the decision to go back to Canada was not of your making. That must have been extraordinarily jarring. You hadn’t experienced a crisis of faith or anything. It’s like you had been jettisoned, you’d been propelled back into society.
Rebecca: Yes, it was, it was jarring. The thing is I’m always up for an adventure. I’m not the person who would shy away from doing something interesting. I certainly deeply missed home and that hadn’t gone away for five years. There were times when I was extremely homesick. Not that I think Canada is doing everything right by any stretch, Canada isn’t perfect. That’s why I ended up running for politics because I don’t think it is, but I missed it. It’s still my culture.
I entirely wasn’t sorry to be coming home when I had to leave. I like jazz. I like a glass of wine at the side of a pool. There were frivolous things that I didn’t mind getting back into coming back to the world.
Jonathan: You stood as a Green Party candidate last year, is that correct?
Rebecca: Yes, I did.
Jonathan: I don’t know whether the parameters are a bit different in Canada, but in New Zealand, and many other countries, we consider the Greens to be on the left of the spectrum. It seems to me, based on the description of your time in the monastery, that typically people who pursue those sorts of options are generally very conservative.
Rebecca: Oh, wow. That’s a big question that I think we’d have to unpack a little bit, I think often, deeply religious people or people who call themselves Orthodox, or, it’s not the same thing at all, but evangelical, people for whom their faith suffuses their entire life actively. Yes, you’re right. It tends to be conservative people who would say that, but that’s not altogether true.
Sometimes it can just be if you have a deep passion for the environment, and somehow you see stewardship of creation as being part and parcel of that, or the commandments about do unto others, suddenly love your neighbor as yourself. Those kinds of things become an imperative about respect for diversity and leaving the world somehow in a better place than when you found it. I don’t think there’s any contradiction, but it doesn’t always get translated like that within modern Christianity.
Jonathan: That’s a very interesting comment because our first labor party prime minister in New Zealand was a guy named Michael Joseph Savage. He was in power in 1935 until his death in 1940. He used to say that socialism is applied Christianity. I think that’s a very interesting comment.
Rebecca: I would totally agree with that. I would completely agree with that. Yes. Although there’s no ism, that’s going to get it right, ever because it’s a fallen world and put not your trust in princes and the sons of men in whom there is no salvation, as it says in the Psalms but I would think that that’s absolutely true. In order to love your neighbor as yourself, there has to be some degree of socialism happening, there has to.
Jonathan: Why is it then that particularly in the United States, Christianity has been hijacked by so many people who seem to be lacking in any empathy, who are climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers, really at the extreme grinchy end of the spectrum. What’s going on there?
Rebecca: I think some would say that it’s actually a lot to do with radio. Believe it or not. Alt-right radio. The people who started to get voices on talk radio in the states were the preachers. Ronald Reagan was one of the first well-known celebs, I think to get a national radio program. He had a very no-nonsense back-to-basics. Ontario people recognize that reference to Mike Harris, but Reagan was very much, cut the government bureaucracy, and get back to just people being able to do what they do best, which is make money and live their life.
I think that’s where it started. It was Ronald Reagan and then Rush Limbaugh and then others. It is a fascinating history. 50 years ago when the Watergate Scandal was happening, Republicans and Democrats were able to reach across the aisle and say, no, no, this is just morally wrong. We can’t let this guy continue because he’s just going to wreck democracy in our country. It hadn’t yet been hijacked then.
Jonathan: Right. In fact, some of these social policy initiatives that Nixon was responsible for would just not at all be considered appropriate by today’s Republicans.
Rebecca: No, I’m thinking and back to the Green Party thing, the conservative prime minister who was in Canada for, I don’t know, 12 years or something, he kept getting elected. His name was Brian Mulroney. He was the one who was in, when they passed what was called the Clean Air Act when they were so worried about acid rain. Mulroney was one of the politicians who was absolutely at the climate change conferences in the very early ’90s when these things were just starting to be talked about. You’re absolutely right.
Whether it was Nixon’s policies or Mulroney a decade later, in Canada, they wouldn’t be considered Republicans now, they wouldn’t be able to stay in that party. I’m sure.
Jonathan: This is good. We’ve been able to explore what I perceived initially as the dichotomy between your past life and you running as a Green Party candidate. I also want to explore, before we go into the details of what the campaign was like, the fact that it still would have been a big sacrifice if you had been elected because you live in quite an idyllic, isolated lifestyle right now, aren’t you?
Rebecca: Yes, we do. We live in a beautiful part of the Northeastern continent of North America. Amazing part of the country where you can stop by woods on a snowy evening, quite easily with a guide dog. There’s trees, there’s birds singing or not at this time of year. It’s just idyllic and beautiful.
Yes, if I had won, well, in this pandemic, I think there’s a lot of things that are happening virtually and certainly, the Greens would’ve been pushing for some hybrid parliament. Not everybody would’ve had to go all the way to Ottawa all the time, but you’re right. It would’ve been a tremendous upheaval.
Jonathan: Why were you willing to entertain that upheaval in your life? What motivated you to take that step to run for office?
Rebecca: Well, there were a few things. One was, there’s a phrase from The Lord of the Rings, “Small hands must do the work while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.” I just felt like, okay, I can wait for other people to step up but if I feel like I could offer something, I’m remiss if I don’t. There was that. The leader of the Green Party at the time was the first black woman to be a leader of a Canadian party and she was also Jewish. She really put a call out for the term is, equity-seeking groups, people from diverse backgrounds and things and I would say people in the margins to step forward because we represent pretty significant segments of society. We need to be represented in the political decisions. That was part of it. It was her call to run. Also, just the fact that accessibility doesn’t get any real attention except once in a great while.
It seemed like if I could be a person who’s there in parliament or even just having run the race. Whether I’m actually on the accessibility file, which I don’t think would be necessary necessarily, just to be there in the presence there it raises the question of accessibility all the time. Yes, there’s lots of good reasons to run.
Jonathan: For those people not familiar, can we just talk through how the Canadian electoral system works?
Rebecca: We can try.
Jonathan: [chuckles] It’s a pretty traditional Westminster system, isn’t it?
Rebecca: Yes. Unfortunately, the smaller parties would really like to get rid of this first-past-the-post thing and getting some proportional rank ballot or something like that. At the moment, the country is divided into 338 ridings and presumably, all the parties are trying to get candidates in every single riding. Riding being a geographical location.
Jonathan: It’s an interesting term because in many other countries in Westminster systems, we would call those electorates or districts or something but Canada uses the term riding.
Rebecca: Yes, riding or electoral districts, lots of terms are interchangeable. Electoral districts I suppose is also, maybe riding is more provincial when you get at the state level. At the provincial level ridings are used more. I don’t know, I tend to use them interchangeably, I think others do. Then there’s an election and after a particular campaigning time, and it can be as short as 37 days or it can be really protracted long and silly. Then on election night, a person would cast a ballot, and you vote for one of the people who are listed on the ballot for your particular riding.
If you’re in our riding in New Brunswick which happens to be called Toby [unintelligible 01:22:07] which I like saying. You vote for the Liberal candidate, or the Green candidate or the Conservative candidate, so, Tory, or Republican maybe, or the People’s Party of Canada which is even more Republican. You vote for that person and then depending on how many ridings return votes for a party, that particular leader is the one who becomes prime minister in Ottawa. Is it the same in New Zealand? Is it how it works in New Zealand as well?
Jonathan: No, we got rid of first-past-the-post by-
Rebecca: Oh, you’re very, very fine.
Jonathan: -virtue of a referendum process and we have a proportional system now.
Rebecca: That’s good.
Jonathan: We do have the electorates but we also have a party vote, so we have two votes. You get to vote who you want to represent you locally on local issues, but then you also have a party vote which determines the proportionality of the seats in parliament. If a party wins more party votes than their electoral vote has given them, then the party vote is topped up by people on the party list.
That’s why I think that description is important because in New Zealand, at least in theory, it’s possible for somebody to run on some sort of national community of interest like disability, or any number of other say Pacific Island issues or something like that. Of course in Canada, the only option you have is to represent your local constituency, and potentially to take a national portfolio in addition.
When you were making the decision to run, did you think of yourself as a disability issues candidate or a Green Party candidate who happens to be blind?
Rebecca: That and more. I think I would have preferred if I had gotten in and there’d been any choice as to what portfolio I would have taken, or what I would have found myself interested in. It would have been food security or possibly, certainly, there are issues like transport, public transport. The other thing that complicates our system is that some issues are very, very much federal issues, national issues and other things are provincial. Healthcare and education, housing, those are all provincial, those are all handled by the state level.
New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, they’re the people who make the decisions about things to do with health care. On the other hand, oddly enough, public transportation is a federal issue and municipalities have something to do with it. National defense, obviously, is national, forestry is national, energy is national. Somebody’s going to correct me I’m going to get it wrong. [chuckle] It’s really awkward because with the pandemic people want the federal government to do something about lockdowns and vaccine mandates.
The federal government keeps passing the buck back to the provinces and saying, “Well, this is actually your jurisdiction.” You have 10 provinces and 3 territories that can’t really agree on what to do, so we’re in some ways in a bit of a stalemate. Provinces had some jurisdiction over certain things, roads. Roads are provincial. It’s really, really not a good system, it’s very clunky, and our country’s huge.
There’s not going to be regional agreement either, you’re going to have the prairies want something different than the Maritimes and Ontario want something different than British Columbia which is way over on the West Coast. Newfoundland and Labrador have different concerns than Quebec. The territories just get forgotten about, which brings me into indigenous issues which is another huge, huge topic. No, I wouldn’t have seen myself as a disability candidate, I think it’s too close maybe.
I’ve thought about this, and I think that for me, perhaps it’s something that I feel as though perhaps I need to push others to fight that battle along with me but it couldn’t be my torch to carry. I don’t know. I could change my mind if I were put in a position where I had to do it, but I don’t consider myself an expert.
Jonathan: I think this is one of the challenges that disabled people face in a Westminster-based system, and this is one of the challenges David Blunkett faced as well. I don’t know if you’re familiar with David Blunkett.
Rebecca: Yes. We were living in Britain when he was in power. Come to think of it, my husband and I were living in Britain when-
Jonathan: He became Home Secretary, we’ve interviewed him on the Blindside. He became Home Secretary during 9/11, in fact. He obviously was a very successful cabinet minister, but he made the call and Britain’s Westminster system not to be pigeonholed. While he didn’t deny his blindness, we know every time his guide dog changed or something like that it was national news on the BBC.
Rebecca: [chuckles] Yes, good.
Jonathan: He chose to be a constituency MP who happens to be blind, and he didn’t want to be pigeon-holed. Now that he’s in the House of Lords, he’s a lot more willing to take up disability causes. Whereas the system we have here in New Zealand of course, obviously does facilitate somebody championing disability issues at a national level and going after that disability vote. It is, I think, a different characteristic of the two systems.
Rebecca: Absolutely. Each one has its strengths. The one thing that you can certainly say about politicians who don’t want to be pigeon-holed is that accessibility is a really easy thing to gloss over anyway. If you as a disabled politician are saying, “I don’t want to be pigeon-holed,” then the media can go, “Righty whoa then, we just won’t even–” you know what I mean. “We’ll just ignore it completely. We can talk about the guide dog because that’s a fun thing but we don’t really have to address issues of accessibility because you’re not addressing them.”
Jonathan: When you put your name forward then, did you face any, “how will you,” kind of questions? Did you face any doubts that were blindness specific that you had to confront and deal with?
Rebecca: You mean among members of the public or [unintelligible 01:28:14] [crosstalk]
Jonathan: Well, I suppose there’s a two-stage process. Isn’t there? Firstly, there’s a selection of the candidate and so you have to win the party’s confidence.
Rebecca: That’s right.
Jonathan: Then, of course, I remember from my own experience of running, I’ve done it twice under MMPR proportional system, but the first time we still had first-past-the-post. I was running as a constituency candidate. I remember being at a public meeting, and it was a packed public meeting, and this guy got up at the back of the hall when it was Q&A time and he said, “You’re going to have a hard time if you’re elected, who’s going to be your eyes.” People will have those, “how do you,” type questions. I wondered if you had to confront those both in the selection and the candidacy process?
Rebecca: No, I didn’t. I didn’t, which is quite amazing actually. I didn’t have to but I think the pandemic has changed a lot of how campaign happened this year. A lot of it was virtual. I did certainly do some door-knocking and nobody had any questions like that. Virtually they wouldn’t either because the blindness, it wasn’t confronting them visually as we were talking on the telephone. I think if we weren’t in a pandemic, and there was a lot more in-person Q&A stuff happening, absolutely those kinds of questions would come up.
Oh, my, I’m curious, how did you deal with that question? Because depending on a person’s mood you could respond in a couple of different ways, one of which would gain you votes and one of which would not gain you votes.
Jonathan: Well, actually, what happened after he asked this question was the crowd got really hostile and they booed this guy.
Jonathan: I responded, and I said, “Look, he’s had the courage to ask the question that I think is probably on the lips of several people who feel uncomfortable about asking it, and I’m happy to answer it.” We talked about technology and various things like that. People do have those questions. When you went door-knocking, did you go door-knocking with your guide dog?
Rebecca: At the time I didn’t have a guide dog. I was in [inaudible 01:30:23] guide dogs, I had a cane. I was with my husband and he just waited in the car, he didn’t want any part of the actual door knocking thing. He would just drive and show me where the houses were, which door knocking with a white cane is a challenge, especially in rural New Brunswick where nobody’s house is configured in a way that you expect it. The porches are definitely not configured in a way that you’d expect them to be.
Whatever that is. I think people were delighted to meet a candidate who looked different than the usual middle-aged white guy, frankly. That’s what I think. I was running in riding where 90% of the people speak French. I turn up at the door, clearly not a francophone, but quite prepared to have a conversation in French with them. Standing there with a white cane, obviously, vision impaired, I think it was just probably a lot.
I think it would have been after I left that they would have gone, “The hell was that. Wow, what just happened? That is not the usual candidate we get up here.” I don’t know. I didn’t have the experience you’re talking about but sounds like you gave me a good idea should I ever encounter it?
Jonathan: Wow. Canadians are notably polite, aren’t they? This is the thing that Canadians are famous for as being polite.
Rebecca: [unintelligible 01:31:52]
Jonathan: We’re not.
Rebecca: I’m not sure that it’s a deserved notion, but certainly, people might not ask the question. They might put it online after the fact or something like that, absolutely.
Jonathan: I wasn’t a guide dog handler when I did my first campaign where I did a lot of door-knocking in that campaign. I must say, it was a real experience because it taught me that most people are not as engaged with or interested in the political process as I am. Really people are just so switched off. I did wonder, later, the degree to which the dynamic would have changed if I had been a guide dog candidate at the time, because we always hear about how guide dogs are an icebreaker.
I think it would have been interesting to just turn up at the door with a guide dog. I guess she would have frightened some people, but she may well have been that icebreaker as well and been a memory jogger.
Rebecca: Possibly yes, definitely that, definitely that. The question then becomes, would the focus have been on the guide dog? It depends on how they would characterize a blind person later anyway. If they already have the presupposition that, “Oh, that person’s vision impaired, they’re not going to be able to deliver, then the guide dog wouldn’t be the memory jogger that you’d want.
It just depends on how people characterize blind people right off the bat with their first reaction when they see a blind person. Is this a helpless individual or is this a courageous individual? That would dictate that as a vote for you, I suppose.
Jonathan: Did your candidacy elicit any immediate interest because a blind person was running? Or is that not really considered a novelty in Canada that’s sufficient for media attention?
Rebecca: This campaign was very short, this campaign was 37 days, and which I think was deliberate on the part of the governing party at the time, they knew that only the other big party would have been prepared to run a full slate of candidates, so it would be either the liberals or the conservatives that would get back in. Sorry, I keep taking potshots, I need to stop that. The thing is, I don’t think there was enough time to develop those kinds of storylines, really.
I think the media, they were as taken off guard by the election as everybody else was. They just needed to get all of the candidates in front of microphones or in front of cameras to interview them. There wasn’t enough time to develop those kinds of personal interest stories, I don’t think. No, it wasn’t even a factor. I think it would have been if the election had been longer, and it might be if I run again because my name will be already known.
They won’t have to do a lot of the background reading or whatever that they had to the previous time, if you know what I mean. I’d already [unintelligible 01:34:48] name.
Jonathan: Given how short the campaign was and the fact that it was being conducted in a pandemic, did you have to do any of those meetings where you go along and you debate with other candidates?
Rebecca: Yes, we did actually. That was fun. It was really nerve-wracking, but it was also really interesting. There were a couple of televised debates. There was a televised one and then there was one that one of the universities held. That was great. It was interesting to meet the other candidates and to see them operate on stage. They were very equitable in how they divided up the questions. Everybody had the same amount of airtime.
The questions were drawn by lottery, so you didn’t get questions that they thought would target you necessarily in the first round, and then in the second round, they did. They really kind of dug in, and everybody got something that was a bit thorny for their party. It was good. It was quite good. It certainly made me brush up on my platform and on theirs.
Jonathan: You would have been able to hold your own in that environment. I imagine you would probably have enjoyed that.
Rebecca: In English, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. This was in French, I had to really think quickly. It was a good challenge. I did enjoy it. I enjoyed it a lot after the fact. It’s a little bit like for me writing an exam, I love studying, and so I always enjoy having written an exam, but it’s nerve-wracking leading up to it, because you don’t know what questions are going to be on it. Did you have to do any of those debates in your time?
Jonathan: Oh, yes, and I love that stuff. I still remember the headline, Mosen Outtalks Rivals in Debate, because I did. I really enjoy that stuff. I imagine that it would be a fairly conservative electorate that you’re in or riding that you’re in?
Rebecca: Oh, yes. Rural ridings tend to be extremely conservative. Although this one, interestingly, the riding that I was running in is, as they say, predominantly Francophone, francophones in New Brunswick tend to support the liberals. Anglophones in New Brunswick tend to be more conservative, and they tend to support the PC, which is a Progressive Conservative, or the People’s Party of Canada, which is basically the anti-vaxxers.
On the other hand, the farther right you go, the closer you are to the left. People’s Party of Canada, you keep moving around the circle, and you end up in the Green Party. There’s some overlap, oddly enough, between people who would support the, say, the People’s Party of Canada and people who support the Green Party environmental issues. Often the rural people in our part of the world anyway, able to step out and do it yourself kind of people.
At the same time, the greens, of course, we need a social network, a social structure, a social safety net, and People’s Party of Canada really doesn’t care about that. That starts to be the difference, how much government oversight you want is where the dateline happens right there. The riding I was in is very much a safe liberal seat and the riding I live in, which is the Anglophone riding to the south of that is very much a safe conservative seat.
Jonathan: How did you end up polling on election night?
Rebecca: Oh, terribly. I was above the national average. I think I had 3%, the national average for the Green Party was 2%, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible. 2019 was a far better election. The greens were in the 10 percentile, 11, 12, second place in many ridings, second place out of three, four, five parties. This election was just abysmal. There were a lot of reasons for that, but being a green in a safe liberal riding wasn’t a sure bet on my part.
I just wanted to stand, I just wanted to see I stand for parliament, I just wanted to put my name forward and be a Green Party candidate the voters could vote their conscience for on election night, knowing pretty well that we weren’t going to get in.
Jonathan: Is that one of the things that made it safe for you to run, actually, that you realized that you were not going to get elected this time?
Rebecca: That’s right. There’s a lot of room between knowing you’re not going to win and polling as terribly as I did. I think I knew that this was going to be probably a trial run if I was going to run again, this was going to be the practice. I could just go for it and learn and think, “If I run again for this riding, I’ll know what to expect and I’ll have a team in place by then, and that sort of thing.” We’ll see what happens. I might run provincially next time. I don’t think I’m done with politics by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t know. We’ll see.
Jonathan: What lessons might you be able to pass on to other blind people who are thinking about running and putting themselves forward. It’s a big decision to put yourself out there in the public arena like that.
Rebecca: A couple of things I would say, one is, if you’re the sort of person who was born blind and you went to a school for the blind, you might have some of that. The self-talk that’s negative that says, “Oh, come on. Lots of people who are better qualified and blah, blah, blah, have more life experience or are better qualified or better connected are going to do it. They’re going to do a better job. Just get out of the way and let them do it and don’t make any ways.”
If you’ve got that talk in your head, try to ignore it and go for it. If you have a desire to be in the political arena, know that you have as much to contribute as absolutely anybody else does and more. The statistics show that people with disabilities work harder, stay in jobs longer because we have to, we have to work hard all the time. We tend to be resourceful. Take those qualities and use them as a way of bolstering yourself when you start to feel like, “Oh, this is crazy.”
“What am I doing? Nobody’s going to even notice that I’m here”, and that some of that negativity might come from members of your family. It might come from other blind friends who maybe don’t have the guts have to do it and you do, so, try to ignore it, and go for it. If you feel that you might have something to contribute in the political arena, follow that instinct. Also reach out to people in your party, find some people that you trust whose advice seems sensible and ask them your questions.
Don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel, ask questions because you can be sure that if you’re asking the questions, other first-time candidates are also asking the questions, maybe second time and third time candidates.
Jonathan: Are there any blindness accommodations that you used or in retrospect, you feel you would’ve benefited from?
Rebecca: Well, something as simple as having accessible PDF documents or stuff in a word document. I was very clear when I talked to people in the party. At head office, I would say, okay, if you’re going to send me documents, please don’t just put it up a graphical PDF. Can you send it to me as a word document so that I can put it in Braille?
I would oversimplify the accessibility requirements a little bit, but I thought they might understand if I say, give it to me in a word document so that I can put it in Braille, even though I may not have put a 300-page platform in Braille, you need the material and you need it in a timely manner and you need it in a format that’s accessible. There’s a whole process online, which you have to go through just to put your name forward and some parts of that weren’t accessible.
I just had to call the help desk and say, look, you just need to help me walk through this because I’m vision impaired. Yes, just be prepared to ask for help when you need it. I think that’s the only other blindness accommodation, I would say. What kinds of things did you find you needed from the party? [crosstalk]
Jonathan: I think the main thing for me was actually, as somebody who also has a hearing impairment, which was not as pronounced as it is now, I just decided that when doing the door-knocking thing, I would be accompanied by a volunteer. Really, that didn’t seem to disadvantage me because a lot of people, a lot of electoral candidates turn up with other party people, that have a buddy, sometimes with-
Rebecca: Yes. Somebody needs to take notes. You do the talking and they take notes. They’ve got to put it into the data entry system so you know next time, who was at number 65, whatever.
Jonathan: Yes. If anything, I think what I was able to contribute was to keep pointing out that there is a disability market out there that’s feeling ignored. I’m thinking, for example, these days, and it didn’t apply when I was running, but things like parties who tweet photos, that don’t have accessible images. Whenever I see that from New Zealand political parties, I immediately think, “Hell, you want my vote, but you’re not prepared to make the information accessible, go away.”
Rebecca: Well, they don’t even know. I think the problem is that a lot of times people don’t even realize they’re eliminating a sector of the population by doing that. They just figure, blind people have magical computers that are going to interpret everything, or that blind guy over there is going to have somebody to read him the tweets. I’ve got family members who put pictures up on Facebook and don’t provide any description. I’ll say, “What was that?”
They’ll say, “Get your husband to explain it.” For what? No, no, no, no. If our families do it, then there’s no reason to be surprised that political parties will do it. We just have to keep being the squeaky wheel somehow.
Jonathan: That’s right. That’s precisely why being in the arena, even if you are not running as a disability candidate, just makes a difference because you are on the inside and you can point those things out. It sounds like we haven’t seen the last of you in terms of political candidacy.
Rebecca: No, I don’t think so. I think I’m up for another go, whether it’s at the provincial level or the federal level. What about you? Are you going to run again?
Jonathan: Oh gosh. I’m not even going to comment on that.
Rebecca: Oh, okay.
Rebecca: Oh, you have to talk to Bonnie.
Jonathan: Yes. Well, it’s been a pretty hot topic lately actually.
Rebecca: Oh, well right. [french language]
Jonathan: No, I’ve been asked about that and I just don’t know. It has been a real pleasure chatting with you about this. Congratulations for putting your name forward and being counted because that takes a lot of courage. I look forward to finding out what happens next, and where your political will takes you.
Rebecca: Well, thank you for your interest and always being so interested in what people in the blind community around the world are doing. You’re great voice for all of us and great to have Mushroom FM and the team and everybody. Big thanks.
Jonathan: Thank you.
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Jonathan: Brian Hartgen has emailed in and says, “I’m wondering if anyone who works in the area of DAISY content creation can please help. I have audio files for our training courses and text transcripts to accompany them. The transcripts contain a precise replica of everything spoken in the audio. I wanted to create DAISY books to synchronize the text with the audio. It’s not something we need to do, but I thought other blind people might appreciate it.”
“I first tried the most used product for DAISY authoring Dolphin publisher. After speaking to the head of production distribution at Dolphin, it seems it is not possible to achieve synchronization using the keyboard only with the mouse.” Goodness. “My next port of call was APH to use book wizard producer. This was a much more accessible application to work with anyway, but while in the user guide it states, you can synchronize text and audio. No one at APH seems to have any idea how to help me go about it.”
“I corresponded with them and they said the program has not been updated since 2010 and no one there knows how to synchronize the text and audio. What we seem to be saying is that as blind people, we cannot produce this content where we are likely to be one of the primary beneficiaries of it. Does anyone please have any suggestions?” Thank you, Brian. I’m wondering if Larry Skutchan is still listening. I know that he used to lurk about listening to Mosen At Large, from time to time and we were very fortunate to get a string of contributions from him.
Larry if here out there, perhaps you know how to synchronize text and audio. I, for one, Brian, think this is a fantastic initiative and I thank you for continuing to pursue it because wouldn’t it be great to search for a particular string in a DAISY book, get the text that you want, but also then just hit play and have it pick up from where you need it to, absolutely epic. I hope you get this sorted. If anyone can give some hints and tips to Brian, that would be very good indeed.
Angus: Greetings Jonathan. Angus Mcinin from British Columbia Canada. There was a little shopping for you. Have you heard of the Zoom F3 and F6 recorder? Does it sound right up your alley? I don’t know if you are aware of them or what. One person you want to talk to is Alex Lindsey. He’s an engineer and he does a lot of stuff with video, but he also does audio on that episode. It might be interesting for you. You could get together and really speak this week. Since you two birds are of the same feather.
Jonathan: Good to hear from you Angus, and thank you for the referral. You can go all the way back to the very early episodes of Mosen At Large, for a reference to the Zoom F6. Then in episode 35, it was devoted to the Zoom F6, as Gary O’Donoghue gave a comprehensive review demonstration from a blindness perspective about how to operate the recorder. I subsequently bought a Zoom F6 and some of the demos that we’ve done, things like the Fire TV Stick, walking around with seeing AI, walking around with the air tags when we did that demo, and a few other things as well. They’ve all been recorded with the Zoom F6. I know about it, I have one. It’s a wonderful recorder, the 32-bit float capability is great. The app is pretty good and overall I highly recommend it if you’re interested in a serious field recorder.
To India, we go for this email from Anil who says, “Hello Jonathan while I do not have any opinion on using the word blind in various contexts, I agree with you about the statement that people are very scared to even think about being a blind person. I remember a popular warning given by teachers to discipline the kindergarten students, “if you misbehave I’ll lock you up in a dark room”. Also, I want to suggest, is that people associate blindness with darkness and it qualifies them to use the word blind to refer to a person who is ignorant.”
“I’m interested to hear thoughts from you and podcast listeners.” Absolutely Anil, people fear the dark, it’s understandable I guess. Sight is a very dominant sense, so if you have it, you depend on it and you can’t imagine how those who don’t have it can function. It’s up to us to change those perceptions, tough though it may be. Let us get back to the ongoing saga of the human where Brailliant. This email says, “Hi Jonathan and all, I have had the Brailliant bi 40x and I have this issue as well.”
“Recently, my space keys have been very noisy, my display got fixed but this issue is back again. I sent it away to get it fixed again and yesterday my Braille was an uppercase B display has arrived. It was caused by hair from my guide dog entering into the space key and causing the noise, hopefully, this will not happen again. Once a year for servicing is fine but twice in a month is not.” Sean Clarke writes, “Hello Mr. Mosen? “Well hello. Mr. Clarke.” “I was asking your advice.”
“Do you know of any crowdfunding sites that work very well with the iPhone’s voiceover screen reader? I am trying to just have a party for people with disabilities in my area, and I’m hoping to do it again, actually, in the fall if I can raise enough this time, but I’d like to try a different crowdfunding site, or at least how to use this one better. If you have any advice, I would appreciate it. Thank you and have a lovely day.” Says Sean in Nova Scotia, and he’s using GoFundMe at the moment.
Every so often I may give to a GoFundMe or a crowdfunded thing but not often, I have to confess. It’s not something I know too much about in terms of whether there’s one site that stands out for accessibility, or conversely, whether there’s one site that’s particularly problematic. If anyone has anything to share on those accessible crowdfunding sites if you were setting up a crowdfunding initiative, what would you recommend, based on your experience?
Be in touch 86460 Mosen is my number, email@example.com is my email. I’m not sure how much of a fan of Dictaphones I am because they’re often used by dictators [laughs]. I’m sorry about that. “Hi Jonathan,” says Louis, “hoping you can help me with this. I’m trying to teach myself piano and I found a service that sells online/digital lessons. It’s at www.pianobyear.biz.” That’s all joined together, pianobear.biz. “I’ve been playing them on my Victor Reader but the Victor Reader doesn’t move back and forth and in small enough increments.”
The service provides mp3 files where the vendor literally tells you which keys to press and how to form the chords. I’m looking to get a Dictaphone where I can leave both hands on the keyboard and start and stop the instructions. Any suggestions?” Louis, I have no suggestions to offer, but it’s a great question. Hopefully, somebody can talk about Dictaphones that are still out there that will play an mp3 file.
Maybe there is some sort of pedal that you can get for your computer if that’s viable for you, where you might be able to plug in a pedal into the USB port or something and use the controls on the pedal. Let’s see what the Mosen At Large community can come back with on this one.
Jonathan: I 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 @mushroomfm.com. If you’d rather call in, use the listener line number in the United States 864-606-6736.
[music] Mosen At Large Podcast.
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