Podcast Transcript: Mosen at Large episode 173, We’re with U coming this Saturday, a comprehensive review of Fantastical for iOS, whats your favourite food delivery service and why
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Jonathan Mosen: I’m Jonathan Mosen. This is Mosen At Large, the show that’s got the blind community talking. The We’re With U benefit concert for Ukraine is next Saturday. More radio memories and a bit of fun with the telephone, overcast has been updated, and a demo of the iOS version of Fantastical, the Calendar app from Flexibits.
We have made it to Episode 173. Welcome. It is a pleasure to have you with us on Mosen At Large this week. Plenty to talk about. Let me get right into it and start with the We’re With U concert. Contributions have now closed for We’re With U, so thank you to all of the performing artists who have sent something in for our benefit concert for blind people affected by what has happened in Ukraine. Those are blind people who remain in Ukraine and those blind people who are now sadly refugees.
We are going to be holding this concert all over the internet at 2:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM in the UK, that is 1800 Coordinated Universal Time next Saturday, that is the 16th of April, Easter Saturday for some. That will be on Sunday morning, the 17th of April at 6:00 AM here in New Zealand, 4:00 AM in eastern Australia. As we’ve talked about on this podcast before, I am very proud to be blind. I have to tell you that I am bursting with blind pride right now as I start to get to work and coordinate these submissions, put it all together in concert form, and just hear the talent that we have in our blind community when it comes to musicianship and performing artistry.
It is going to be an amazing and eclectic concert. You’ll hear some jazz piano, you’ll even get some rap in the mix. We’ve got some astoundingly brilliant three-part a cappella harmony going on. We’ve got people whose names will be familiar to you, and people who you might not have heard of before but you will hear them in the future. We’ve got some young people performing who have a very promising future in music. There is just so much to look forward to. Crank up your best speakers, get a beverage or two in and some snacks, and enjoy this concert which is going to last a while.
As I put this podcast together, I can’t give you a definitive length but it is going to last a while. I would say at least six hours. It may go a bit longer than that but we will confirm that as we get closer to next Saturday. As I say, it’s going to be all over the internet. I’m a bit hesitant to mention all the locations where you might be able to hear We’re With U in case I leave some out, but I do want to give you some idea of the scope of where this is going. Let me do my best to be as inclusive as I can of all of the places where you can hear it.
We do have some corporate sponsors. I understand that Aira will be using some of their channels to make the event available. Stay tuned to Aira’s social media channels and email lists, and those sorts of things for more information. Mushroom FM is also broadcasting the concert. Like many of our broadcast partners, Mushroom FM has a skill for your Amazon Echo device and for your Google Home-enabled device, and an online accessible player. Plus it is on all the radio directories including TuneIn and Ootunes, and all the other places that you would expect radio stations to be.
ACB Media is also carrying We’re With U. My understanding is that ACB media intends broadcasting it on ACB Media 4. You can check the ACB Media website for further information. They may well be using their channels to publicize how and where they are broadcasting the event. The Global Voice is also carrying We’re With U, and I want to thank Chrissie and her team for doing that. The Phoenix as in the Phoenix 1208 is also going to be broadcasting We’re With U, thanks to Terry and the team, and also to Darren and his team at Treehouse Radio for being a part of it.
Thanks to Dan Kysor and his team from The Grid FM for carrying the event, and also Dan for making sure that we got some great contributions including this really cool a cappella cover of a Beatles song. You’ll have to tune in this Saturday to hear that. It’s really amazing. Thanks also to Dave Gordon from MCBVI Radio. It was great to have a chat to Lucy and George from MCBVI Radio as part of preparing for this event. They will also be broadcasting We’re With U. Head on over to Radio for Life, and hear the event there, thanks to Lynn white for his support of the event.
The Radio Storm also will be broadcasting We’re With U, thanks to Michael McCarty for working with us on this. We’ll be broadcasting on Energy FM and 98.6 The Mix, and several other internet radio stations as well. There’s actually quite a lengthy list. I hope I’ve got most of them, but I don’t think I’ve got all of them, All being well, we should be available on NFB-NEWSLINE as well. Now obviously, if you’re listening on the phone, it’s not going to be the best of quality but at least it’s a way for people who don’t have internet access to hear it in some form.
Speaking of NFB, I do want to acknowledge the incredible infrastructural support and moral support that President Mark Riccobono and the team at NFB, the social media team, the comms team, have been providing for this event. They’ve really got behind it and it’s fantastic. We also have some corporate sponsors who have put their hands into their pockets and donated generously to support this really important event. When the event goes live, you’ll be able to make donations, because this is what it’s all about. So many musicians have donated their talent in the hope that you will donate your money.
A reminder that all proceeds go to the World Blind Union’s Ukrainian Unity Fund. They will ensure that money is sent to organizations who are helping people in Ukraine or refugees from Ukraine. You can be sure that the money that you donate is going to go to people who know how to make a difference. The launching page for all donations when the concert goes live will be nfb.org/blindwithu. Now, that is also the hashtag. It’s all joined together, no dashes or anything like that, but it’s the letter U at the end for Ukraine. Blindwith, and then the letter U is the hashtag and also the URL for donations and other information, nfb.org/blindwithu.
We’ll be tweeting up a storm. You can use that hashtag during the event to pledge a donation or confirm that you have made a donation. We will be giving in radiothon style, a regular running total of how much money that we are raising. You’ll be able to donate accessibly on that page using a couple of methods. We also will offer a phone number. Now, to make the resourcing easy there, what will happen is you will call this phone number if you’re having difficulty with an online form, and I know some people do, and we don’t want to exclude anybody.
Call that number, leave a message with your phone number and someone will call you back within the next couple of days to take your donation. You can give a credit card number over the phone if you’re comfortable to do that. We want to be as inclusive as possible. This is the We’re With U event, the benefit concert for Ukraine. It’s been a massive event to put together. Lots of people making it happen. A special shout out to Jaffar Sidek Ahmad in Singapore who came up with this idea in the first place. It’s one of those things where when you have a good idea, it just blossoms, it grows.
What it shows us is that one individual’s good idea can change things significantly. It also shows us that no matter how big the problem, there are ways that we can make the problem better in some small way. Even an atrocious invasion like this, we can make a difference, we can help. We can donate our talent, our infrastructure, or our money. The spirit that has pervaded this We’re With U event is really fantastic. It has been such an honor to be a part of this. It only remains now for you to tune in when the event is on live, wherever you would like to tune in, and give generously. We really will appreciate that.
When issues to do with the Brailliant came up, and it was clear that this wasn’t a one-off or one listener as I had first suspected, I contacted Andrew Flatres, who is the Product Manager for Brailliant at Humanware, and let him know of the conversation that we were having. He has responded as follows. “Firstly, I would like to thank you and your listeners in raising any issues they have experienced. It’s important to Humanware that we capture as much user feedback as possible, as this is what drives us to make further improvement into our devices.
I want to touch base on the issue I see as the most important factor, which is freezing within the editor. I understand the frustration and annoyance it could cause if you continue to lose data and experience lockups. I do, however, have to say not everyone is experiencing this issue, which makes it that little more difficult to diagnose but it’s a cause of concern, and we would like to address the problem as soon as we can. Sometimes, this is not always possible due to resource shortages, other projects, et cetera, especially during these times where we are in a global procurement crisis.
However, this does not take away the importance of reviewing and resolving issues that are causing our customers frustration, and losing data. We do treat this as a high priority. To help us in diagnosing the cause of the problem, I would like to reach out to your listeners who are experiencing these issues, and would kindly ask you to email me with details on any way of reproducing the problem. Please email andrew.flatres, that’s A-N-D-R-E-W.F-L-A-T-R-E-S, @humanware.com. In the meantime, we are actively testing and working on future enhancements.
Which brings me onto the speakers your listener pointed out. I am delighted to announce that on the next version, we will include audio capabilities, which will utilize both the internal stereo speakers and headphone jack. The first take on audio will be to allow playback of DAISY audio files. Soon after this release, we will then unlock text-to-speech capabilities. Let’s not forget that the Brailliant BI X has been out for just over a year now and has since received two updates with more to come.”
Andrew has offered to come on the podcast as well in future when there’s more to say about the Brailliant. Thank you, Andrew, for taking the time to respond. If you want to comment on that, you’re welcome to get in touch with me, firstname.lastname@example.org, and share your views. You can record an audio contribution or just write an email down, email@example.com. The listener line 864-60Mosen. That’s 864-606-6736. If you want to go to the source and talk to the product manager about any issues you are experiencing with your Brailliant, that email address, once again for Andrew is andrew.flatres, F-L-A-T-R-E-S, @humanware.com.
Now, here’s a legendary name writing in, David Andrews is answering Brian Hartgen’s question. He says, “To the person who was interested in producing DAISY books with synchronized text and audio, you may want to look at Tobi,” that is spelled T-O-B-I, “from The DAISY Consortium. It is at www.daisy.org/tobi. It is a free open-source multimedia authoring tool, which will do either DAISY or EPUB books.” Thank you, Dave. I’d forgotten about Tobi. I knew about it a long time ago. I don’t know if I’ve ever really looked at it in-depth. If Brian has a play, hopefully, he’ll let us know if it does the job for him.
Following up on a listener query last week about labeling, Petra writes. “Hi, Jonathan and At Largers. Judy Dixon wrote a great book called Label It.” She did. I’d forgotten about that book. Petra says, “It may still be available from National Braille Press. It gave me many ideas and gave me ideas of my own.” “Greetings Jonathans,” says Marisa. “I have a question for when you deal with various app developers or companies related to making things accessible. How do you explain what accessibility is? How do you explain what VoiceOver does?
I ask as a lot of the time companies think that VoiceOver and Siri are one and the same. I’ve noticed that when you reach out to companies about accessibility, most of the time they have no idea what you’re talking about. These are usually companies like HP, Dell, LG, et cetera. Whether it be computer-related, hardware-related, product-related, it’s all the same problem.” Marisa, this is an issue for sure. Towards the end of last year, I did a presentation for the Carroll Center on this very subject, called Button, Button, Button. [chuckles] We discussed strategies for advocating effectively when you have situations like this, inaccessible apps or inaccessible websites.
You may have heard us talking on the podcast recently about getting past that first-level tech support. I have a bit of a spiel where I say I’m totally blind and I use VoiceOver.
VoiceOver is technology that allows blind people like me to hear what’s on the screen or read it displayed in Braille. I tell people where to find it if they want to enable it. Then I talk about Apple’s accessibility guidelines, and I try to be as patient as possible. I think one of the problems that we have is that quite a few first-line tech support teams are not trained inaccessibility. They just haven’t received the training. We can’t really blame them for that.
Sometimes you just get a reply back saying, “Thank you for advising us of this. We will pass this on to the appropriate people.” That basically means they’re kicking for touch. They’re just saying this to fob you off. At other times. they might say, “We don’t support this feature.” Sometimes you do have to go back and say accessibility isn’t some sort of optional feature. It’s actually the right thing to do. Not supporting accessibility could be legally questionable. You have to go through that process. Sometimes, the magic words to say are, “Can you please help me escalate this to second-level tech support, or could I talk to a supervisor about this issue?” Something like that.
You might sometimes also need to contact the legal department of a company as a last resort if you’ve done all you can to get past first level tech support and no one’s taking your issue seriously. We’ve seen this recently with Uber, for example. I was just finding it impossible, as were several others. to get past that first line of tech support to somebody who could actually understand, “There are some serious issues here, and we need to escalate this to people who can fix it.” When I was able to do that, thanks to some help from the Mosen At Large community, we got a lot of issues fixed pretty quickly.
I see that there’s been a big update to Uber Eats this week, which has fixed a lot of the accessibility issues that I was demonstrating and that I highlighted to Uber in my meeting with them a couple of weeks ago. Definitely refer people to the accessibility guidelines. Sometimes you just can’t take no for an answer. Keep working away until you can escalate it. It is very difficult. That’s why I think sometimes it’s good to have someone advocate on your behalf. It could be a consumer organization since you’re in the United States, it could be ACB or NFB, something like that. Someone who will go into bat for you, as it were, on these issues.
Here’s a mysterious email from Julie McCullough who says, “I hope I don’t stump even you with this because if you can’t solve this, no one can.” Oh boy, no pressure. [chuckles] “A few days ago, I was writing a text message to my sister. I was not using an external keyboard, I was just using the keyboard on the iPhone. I must have hit something horribly wrong because when I try to text her again, whenever I touch the letter T to make a small t, it would say part of a sentence from my last message to her. However, I discovered that I could go ahead and type the letter T, and it typed a T.
It did not type in all the words that it was saying. I deleted the conversation with my sister and tried to type a message to someone else. That part of the sentence from the message to my sister was still there when I touched the T. I turned off the phone and turned it back on, and it was still there. I called Apple and ended up talking to three different people. The first one I talked to thought the problem might be somewhere in the keyboard dictionary, but it wasn’t as near as we can tell. Thankfully, this only happened in the messaging app. I can type a small t anywhere else on my phone and it’s fine.
When the first person at Apple couldn’t get it solved, he passed me on to his supervisor who just laughed and told me to turn off my phone and start it up again. I told him I had done it since I had talked to the first man. I tried that and it was still the same. The next person I talked to told me to make sure my phone was up to date, so I did that. Yesterday, I emailed Pam Quinn, who is highly respected for her knowledge of technology and as a go-to person for technological problems. She said I had already done what she was thinking I should do, and suggested that I get in touch with you.
Which I was already planning to do, but first, I tried going to my phone service provider, which I was a little wary about because while the people at the phone stores know their phones, they don’t always know VoiceOver. The man at my phone provider stayed on VoiceOver the whole time he was working once he realized that I use VoiceOver. At first, he asked me if I was trying to turn VoiceOver off. I told him that I wasn’t because I use it. While he was working, another employee asked him if he wanted to turn the VoiceOver off, and he said he didn’t. He did not solve the problem either.
Since it’s not putting the words that it’s saying into my messages, I could live with it if I had to, but it’s annoying, so I’d rather not live with it. I hope you have a solution for this strange problem. Thank you so much. If it helps you to know this, I have an iPhone 7 Plus. Thank you for your great work in advocating, educating, and helping The worldwide blind community through your podcasts.” Thank you, Julie. I got questions. I guess the first thing I’m thinking is, is this happening when VoiceOver is off?
When you press that lowercase t, is it coming up with a prediction that a sighted person can see on the screen where if they tap that prediction, it will go ahead and add the rest of the sentence, or is this only happening when VoiceOver is on? It would actually have been interesting to find out what might have happened if the person in your phone store had turned VoiceOver off to see whether he would still be able to see some sort of prediction coming up. Now, I don’t know what the sentence is, of course, but depending on what the sentence is, and depending on how regularly you type it, it may just be auto prediction trying to be helpful.
You may have VoiceOver set to speak the auto predictions. That would be why when you press the letter T it’s not inserting all of that in, but it’s offering it as a prediction, which you could then double-tap to insert, so it may be working as intended. Is it possible you’ve done something bizarre with the VoiceOver pronunciation dictionary, and that it is applying only to that app? I think that’s quite unlikely. I actually had a play with trying to inadvertently label something in the graphics labeler that’s just a letter T, and I couldn’t get that to work either.
One thing that you may want to try if you want to get rid of it is just resetting your settings to factory defaults. That wouldn’t cause you to lose any data. It would just mean that if you have any personal preferences relating to the way that your phone operates, you would lose those and you’d need to create them again. I’m not immediately sure what might be causing that. Have you tried contacting Apple Accessibility to see if they can help? It does sound, based on your description, like Apple was quite dismissive of this.
Really, I would’ve hoped they would’ve logged into your iPhone, had a look at what was going on, and also verified whether this happens only when VoiceOver is on, or whether it also happens when VoiceOver is off, because that does help narrow down some of the potential solutions somewhat. Now, before I had a chance to publish this, I got a follow-up email from Julie. It seems that one of my solutions was the correct one. Yay. Julie says, “Hi, Jonathan. It turned out to be the small t that had gotten mislabeled. Right. I wonder how you did that in the first place.
She says, “After three conversations with Apple, two trips to Verizon, emails to Pam and to you, feedback from Pam’s Facebook group, and a trip to see the geek squad at Best Buy, the problem is solved. The gesture for getting to the problem did not work. The man at Best Buy assigned a gesture that had not previously been assigned and got it fixed. It took a whole village, but with all of us working together, we got it done. Thanks to all who have the know-how to help with such matters.” I’m glad I actually worked it out. That makes me feel somewhat pleased, but what a rigmarole you went through to get that fixed, Julie. Glad you’re happily typing on your phone now.
Announcer: What’s on your mind? Send an email with a recording of your voice, or just write it down. firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N@mushroomfm.com, or phone our listener line. The number in the United States is 864-60Mosen. That’s 864-606-6736.
Jonathan: We are going to talk more about radio geekdom, and I’m always happy to talk about radio geekdom. Joe said, I didn’t have to read this, but I want to read it. Radio stuff is fun, and it’s a follow up from Joe’s voice message of last week. This is Joe Norton. He says, “Thanks for putting my message up about Radio Reloj. I did forget to mention that the station also broadcasts on FM in Cuba, but with so much FM now, I doubt if I’d ever hear skip.” “Actually,” Joe says, “I did know about the 0900-45678 number. It used to say it was the DSIR talking clock,” Yes, Joe, you’re absolutely right about that, “Otherwise, it sounded about the same.
I used to be able to call it from here but not anymore.” Now, Joe has given me a bunch of phone numbers of services that tell the time, and I think it’ll be fun to call them and hear what they sound like. You know, I can call these numbers for free now, so why the heck not? Let’s geek out. He says, “You already know in the US about WWV. That number, by the way because I didn’t give it last week is 303-499-7111.” That’s 303-499-7111, for WWV. WWVH is also available. Is it okay? Let’s call it according to this number that Joe’s given me here. Call 001-808-335-4363
Operator: Calling 1-808-335-4363.
Jonathan: Whoa. Here we are listening to WWVH and me coming back in a very weird way. That’s the 32nd mark that you hear that slightly longer pip at the 32nd mark. We’ve got a wee way to go until we hear what the time is.
Operator: At the tone 20 hours, 14 minutes, Coordinated Universal Time.
Jonathan: Since we’re only hearing the ticking, I’m wondering if we’re about to get an announcement, but maybe not. Maybe not. We’ll disconnect that call. That is WWVH, and that’s a different female voice from the one I remember. Now, Joe continues, “The US Naval Observatory’s master clock has two numbers. One using Eastern Time on–” Let’s give that one a call. Let’s give the Eastern Time one a call. Call 001-202-762-1401.
Operator: Just to confirm, you’d like to call 001-202-762-1401.
Operator: Calling 001-202-762-1401.
Jonathan: Perhaps they’re being careful about who can call the Naval Observatory.
Operator: The number you dialed is not in service.
Jonathan: Outrageous. I want my money back. They cut you off, Joe. He says, “They used to have a 900 number, which cost 50 cents for the first minute, and 35 cents for each additional minute, but they didn’t keep it around long and people who knew better just called the Washington DC number anyway, as you do.” “Interestingly,” he says, “they had a real audio stream for a while. I don’t think they stream this anymore, as it cannot be used for any kind of accurate time keeping. At NASA, they have a time number, which sounds similar to WWV at Cape Canaveral in Florida.” Let’s give that one a call and see if it works. Call 001-321-853-3333. Whoa.
Operator: Calling 001-321-853-3333.
Jonathan: That’s interesting. It didn’t even ring. You’re right, it does sound like WWV. He says, “I think it may have had a WWV receiver at one time.”
Operator: That’s the phone at 20 hours 18 minutes, Coordinated Universal Time.
Jonathan: [chuckles] That’s an interesting voice. Joe was saying, “I think that they had a WWV receiver at one time, but they eventually put their own announcing system on it. In Canada, the National Research Council has two numbers in Ottawa.” All right, let’s go to Canada. Firstly, for an English-speaking-type time. Call 001-613-745-1576
Operator: Calling 161-374 5-1576.
Jonathan: That’s a nice, clean line. Not a lot of hits.
Operator: NRC Eastern Daylight Time. 16 hours, 19 minutes, and 30 seconds. [beep]
Jonathan: That’s actually quite–
Operator: NRC Eastern Daylight Time. 16 hours, 19 minutes, and 40 seconds. [beep] NRC Eastern Daylight Time. 16 hours, 19 minutes, and 50 seconds. [beep]
Jonathan: Let’s just see if the top of the minute sounds any different. No ticking down. Maybe they’ve had enough of me. Is that all we get? Yes, that sounds like that’s all I get. All right. That was good. That was a good clock. Let’s have a look at the French one. Call 001-613-745-9426
Operator: Calling 161-3745-9426. [phone ringing]
Jonathan: Oh no.
Operator: CNFC. [French language] [beep] CNFC. [French language] [beep]
Jonathan: Joe says, “It uses the same voice as CHU does. Some of the phrases are actually shared between CHU and the phone announcer. The time number in Stockholm can be dialed on–” Let’s go. Call 004-689-0510.
Operator: Calling 4-689-0510. [beep]
Operator: [Swedish language] [beep] [Swedish language] [beep]
Jonathan: That’s really cool. That’s in Sweden. “Finally,” says Joe, “in Hong Kong, you can call one of three numbers depending on which language you speak.” Let’s just call the English one. Call 008-521-8501.
Operator: Just to confirm, you’d like to call 008-521-8501?
Operator: Calling 008-521-8501.
Jonathan: Are we going to get anything from that one? Doesn’t look like we’re going to get anything? Maybe we can call–
Joe said he got that from Wikipedia. Don’t trust Wikipedia, I tell you. Joe also says, “You used to be able to call the speaking clock numbers in the UK and Australia, but those are blocked now. After all, who’d want to call the speaking clock from overseas? The operator in the UK sounded very surprised that I wanted to know the number for the speaking clock. Actually, there’s a story behind that one. I knew there was a number for the time in London and other places in the UK, but when I first asked an information operator for it, she thought I meant the London Times.
“In So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish,” says Joe, “there’s a scene where Ford calls the speaking clock from a spaceship.” I remember that. “Suddenly, I realized what I needed to ask for.” “I imagined,” says Joe, “you heard to Dirk Maggs’ adaptation of So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, called the Quandary Phase. I think he actually got Brian Covey to do the announcements for that, as well as the quintessential phase where random Dent has a wrist unit giving the local [unintelligible 00:33:28] time. It was a great adaptation. It really was. Apparently, that wasn’t the only real-world voices Dirk used in his adaptations.
I don’t know much about cricket but I think he used a couple of famous cricket announcers in the Tertiary Phase. He used Henry Blofeld.” I remember that, that was absolutely brilliant. “How neat is that?” Says Joe. “Thank you, that was a lot of fun dialing those numbers.” We used to have a thing on the radio when I was a kid, and this was in the era of phone operators. I don’t think many of us had international subscriber dialing back then, which is the name that the post office here gave to the ability to dial a number directly from your own home and international number, called Bringing Friends and Families Together.
If you’re of a certain age, and you’re listening from New Zealand, you will remember this. It was on a Saturday night on The Tonight Show. They would do this maybe once a month or so. I used to so look forward to it. They would get a post office toll operator, that’s what they used to call them in those days. They would assign one to the show for the evening. Listeners would call into the show, and they would say things like, “My grandmother lives in the UK. I really want to give her a call because she’s just had a fall and she’s just out of hospital, because it’s a birthday,” or something like that.
They’d give some reason to attract the attention of the host to make them think they were really worthy of this call. They would keep the person who phoned in on the line. This was a network show, so it was all over the country. You had to call a Wellington number and make your case. Then they would have the operator conferenced in, and the operator would call the number. Now obviously they would take the number off-air while a piece of music was playing, or an ad was playing, or something. Then they would make the call.
You’d hear this very surprised person at the other end. They couldn’t believe that their long-lost relative from here in New Zealand was making an expensive international call, because they were expensive. It was $2 a minute. In the 1970s, $2 a minute was a lot more than it is now. I loved hearing all the ringtones and the operator working her magic. It was always a her. They would make this connection. For a while, they’d keep the call on the air just during the surprise phase, “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe you’re calling me.” Then eventually they’d fade it down and go to a record, and let the two people talk to each other.
Eventually, the post office did start to roll out international subscriber dialing. I got a book from the transcription department of the School for the Blind that I attended. I remember it was all thermoformed. It was this book of country codes. I thought, “This is fascinating. All these codes that you can dial.” Of course, we couldn’t dial them from home. I remember going over to my uncle Albie and auntie Sharon’s place. They lived in a suburb of Auckland called Panmure. They were one of the guinea pigs. They were one of the first suburbs where international subscriber dialing was available.
I somehow knew this, maybe because I just like playing with everybody’s phones and they didn’t seem to care. Most people thought just let the blind kid play with the phone. One day I took my book over because we were going to be having a family barbecue at uncle Albie and auntie Sharon’s place. I went inside to play with the phone and nobody really thought anything of it, but I had my book of country code, you see. I was fascinated by so many things to do with the telephone, like the ring tones of all the different countries, and how different they sounded.
I remember thinking while the American ringtone sounds spooky and eerie, I think I first heard it on ELOs telephone line song actually. I thought, “What an amazing ringing sound that is,” because ours was just, as Paul McCartney so famously did in Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, [imitates phone ringtone]. That’s what we got when we got a number. This long, eerie ringtone was amazing. I called quite a few numbers in America and actually talked to people. Some of them were quite surprised to hear this precocious little kid calling them up at random from New Zealand.
“New Zealand? That’s a long way away. Does your mom know you’re calling?” Then I got more adventurous. I looked at my book of country codes and I thought, “What would it be like to call the Soviet Union or China, or different things, and listen to their ringtones?” Sometimes you’d get people. I realize now, I probably woke up a lot of people in the middle of the night. I was having a ball calling these numbers just at random. Sometimes, I would call a number and I didn’t know how many digits you had to dial or anything to get a connection in a given country or a given city.
You’d get the little messages saying that your call couldn’t be completed as dialed, in whatever language it was. This was glorious until about four weeks later, and I got summoned into the living room at my house. My auntie Sharon was there talking to mum and dad in a very stern fashion about this massive phone bill I had racked up by calling all these international numbers. Oh, dear. Sorry, auntie Sharon. Dave says that was a good episode, and each chapter was thoughtful. Some may not agree with this but I do think as a blind person, we have few advantages in life.
The only thing we can do is use the ones we have as carefully and thoughtfully as we can. For example, I don’t know and I don’t even care who provided the voices for WWV and WWVH, because I can, though, I elect to call them Boulder Bill and Honolulu Hannah, for the reason that the National Bureau of Standards is actually in Boulder, Colorado, as the web will likely confirm.
Equally, WWVH is somewhere in Hawaii, and that definitely helps to maximize their coverage, propagation pending of course. There is also a third station in the family that deserves mentioning. That is WWVB, which has no voice at all. The atomic clock still works here. It is data only. You won’t find any internet stream for WWV because no one can eliminate net lag which will be with us longer than I’m likely to be around. Still, I can hope.
Harwood West: This is Harwood West in [unintelligible 00:39:59] North Carolina. WWV is North of Fort Collins, Colorado. I think it’s approximately 30 kilometers North of Denver. WWVH is in Hawaii. I do not know the name of the town. Got a good show. Listen to an airway. Thanks.
Stan Warren Littrell: Greetings, Mosen At Largers. This is Stan Warren Littrell. I just completed listening to your latest Mosen At large podcast. For those that are asking, Stan Littrell is alive and well. I was listening to the latest podcast, and wow, you’ve given me a lot to think about, so I’ll try to boil this down as quickly as I can. You talked about memories of format changes. Because I go back a wee while, as you might say, and of course we’ve been in touch for many years, as you probably remember, I was listening to radio back in the 1967, 1968 time frame when my local radio station, KKIS in Pittsburgh, California changed format.
Now, we had a gentleman who worked there who later became known as Bobby Ocean. You mentioned KHJ. He worked for KHJ, and he worked for many other radio stations. At the time, he was known as Radio Ray Farrell. He started on February 1st in 1965 at KKIS. Of course when the station changed format, about a week before the format change, they had a transmitter link between Pittsburgh, California and where the transmitter was in Collinsville, California. He was having a conversation with one of his coworkers at the time by the name of Bob Evans.
They were talking out where they were going with their next four radio station. Ray was going to a station in Fresno, and Bob Evans was going to a radio station in Roseville, I believe it was. Anyways, KPLP. That was interesting. Now, to the other discussion you had with the person seeking office. Now, I ran for office and won in 2004, I was appointed to the Rogue Valley Transportation District Board. I then ran for public office in 2005. I being a former– I’m still in radio, but at the time I was a former radio person, I made sure I was able to get myself involved in radio, and was able to get on the local talking heads program.
You got to realize that in Medford Oregon, there’s a lot of a very ultra conservative background, but I manage to be able to– Can I say this word? Because one of the convention things might be upset with me. I managed to bridge the gap. Bridging the gap. Get it? Anyway, I managed to bridge the gap, and I was able to get support from both side of the aisle, so to speak, because I was one of the first people to talk about disability issues, and I was one of two people that ran and won for board seats. We have a something-member board, and I managed to be elected.
Here’s where my downfall was, because I was on the board for 13 years because I filled the vacancy of a person who decided to resign. That’s the reason I was appointed in 2004. By the way, I’ve got to tell you, when I first ran for office, I won by over 8,000 votes, so one of my friends gave me the moniker of “Landslide Littrell”. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Anyway, in 2017, I made the mistake of not having my photo in the voter’s pamphlet.
A lot of people, and I’ve heard this from other people who have chosen not to put their picture in the pamphlet, many people don’t want to vote for those that don’t put their picture in the pamphlet. I didn’t, and so I lost. What I told people at the time was if I won, I won. If I lost, I also won, because being on the board of directors of the transportation district, it’s a big job. It’s a time-consuming job, because I not only felt as though I had to be a member of the board, I was very involved in the community in every way I could be involved,
Scott Rutkowski: Good day, Jonathan and everyone. Scott Rutkowski from Sydney, Australia here. Just had a quick comment and a bug that I wanted to report. No, it’s not with Uber. It’s actually with Overcast. First, I wanted to thank Jonathan for updating everybody in the podcast on the Uber engineer experience. Very, very positive news. We’ll see what happens in the future. I wanted to thank Jonathan for updating us all, and thank you again for letting us know that they are actively working on accessibility issues. I wanted to bring to the attention of the podcast the latest update to Overcast released two days ago.
As of this recording, the interface has changed. It’s actually changed for the better. The homepage, now you can actually move playlists around the screen by double-tapping and dragging up and down with one finger. You hear the little clicks to tell you that the item is being moved. The bug that I wish to report, and I urge others to do the same, is if you’ve created a playlist and you go into edit, and then edit episodes. You’re supposed to be able to drag the episodes around the screen and put them in a particular order of your choosing.
Unfortunately for VoiceOver users who, at least for me, it does not work. If you flick up or down on any of the podcast episodes in the playlist, there is a drag item that when you double-tap, you hear the boundaries sound as if you’ve reached the edge of the screen, and nothing happens. I’ve also tried double-tapping and holding, moving up or down the screen with a finger, but nothing happens. I’ve emailed Marco, the developer, feedback, @overcast.fm, if anybody else wishes to send him an email and report the issue. Yet at the moment you cannot move episodes around the screen if you’re a VoiceOver user. Hopefully he’ll fix this in the future update.
Jonathan: Yes, let’s hope so. Scott, thanks for writing in and also for reporting that bug. I used to use Overcast and then I heard on a mainstream podcast about Castro. not expecting it to be accessible, I tried it and could not believe how accessible it is. Since then I’ve had a lot of contact with the Castro folks, and they’ve made it even more accessible. They’ve added even more features. I did take another look at Overcast when the redesign came out because it was clear from the blog post that they’ve actually made it a lot more Castro-like, and that’s a step in the right direction.
For me, it’s not there. This is only phase one of the Overcast redesign. Let’s see what happens when the redesign project is complete, but there are a couple of things. I still really can’t get past the fact that when you’re in the Castro inbox, it’s like being in your email inbox. You’ve got all your podcasts that have come in in the one place, and then you can triage them. You can add things to the queue, the ones you don’t want to act on, there’s just a button there to mark them all as played. I know that you can now mark Overcast episodes as played, but as far as I can tell, there’s not a “mark all as played” button. I think that would be very handy.
The other thing too is that when you are in a podcast, you have to double-tap and hold, or triple-tap to get to the add to queue” button. It’s not on the actions rotor. For me, Overcast is just a much more unwieldy experience, and it really doesn’t offer me a lot that I need that Castro doesn’t offer. The other thing that, at the moment anyway, at this stage of the redesign, that you don’t have is the ability that Castro has to let you mark in advance the chapters that you want to hear. If I were a Mosen At Large listener and I was listening in Castro, the first thing I would do is go into the chapters list and I can see the titles of all the chapters.
I would simply select the chapters that interest me, deselect the chapters that don’t. If the host is waffling on about things that just are of no interest to me at all, I unselect them. Then when I play that podcast on Castro, the chapters just seamlessly skip. The bits I’m not interested in, they’re just not heard at all. It’s a wonderful feature. The way that you can add YouTube clips to Castro is amazing as well for listening in really good quality audio because you can add Castro’s compression features, their skip audio features.
There’s just so much going for it that at the moment Overcast, to me, is probably my second favorite podcast app. At this stage of their redesign it’s not there yet, it’s not winning me back from the wonderful experience that is Castro. Every time they keep working on this redesign, I will try it and see how it goes. I’m not loyal to a brand for its own sake, so if I do find something in overcast that makes me think wow, it’s time to switch back, of course I will, but right now it’s not there yet for me. It’s good that we have this wide range of accessible choices though.
Alco Canfield: Hi Jonathan this is Alco Canfield from Spokane, Washington. When I pair my phone with the BI series, and I am prompted in a website to enter my password, it shows up on the Braille display but not on the iPhone. I’m wondering if anyone else has had this experience and if somebody has come up with a workaround. If sighted people had to do all the workarounds we do, they’d be crazy. I guess it does make us adaptable. Anyway, thank you very much, I do enjoy the show. Sometimes it’s over my head because I’m a very basic user prompted by necessity. Anyway, thank you and have a wonderful day.
Jonathan: Thank you, Alco I hear this sometimes. I hear this from people who say sometimes the show’s over their heads, and I keep thinking I must do a better job of explaining stuff. There you go, this is my challenge. Anyway, it is very good to hear from you. I just want to make sure that I understand the problem that you are articulating. This is over my head now. [chuckles]
I think what you are describing is a problem that someone else was actually talking to me about on Twitter last week, about how when you pair a Braille display with a device, and in this individual’s case it was a Mantis, what happens is that sometimes the virtual keyboard disappears on your iPhone and you can’t type on your iPhone at that point because there’s no keyboard visible. I hope this is the problem that you’re describing. If it’s not, I’m very sorry for wasting your time. You can get back in touch, and perhaps describe the problem to me a little more, and I can have another go at this.
If this is the problem, the keyboard not being visible, there are a couple of things that you can do. You can go into settings accessibility, VoiceOver, and then Braille settings. There is a button there that you can double-tap, a toggle switch which says “show on-screen keyboard”. If you select this, then the virtual keyboard in addition to the Braille display should be available. Another way of doing this is when you have a Braille keyboard connected, you can perform an SH cord , a 146 cord. That should toggle whether the keyboard is visible or not.
If you are saying that the characters for your password are showing up on the Braille display but you’re not able to read them back with speech when you flick around on your iPhone, then that is absolutely expected behavior. I’m not sure that that’s what you’re saying, but I’m just covering it in case. That’s expected behavior because obviously you don’t want somebody leaning over your shoulder and spying on you as you enter your password. Hopefully one of those two things will be of help.
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Scott: Hi, Jonathan. It’s Scott from London. I’m really glad that the contact that I put you in touch with has been able to help you trash all the issues out with the Uber. Some advice for the Mosen At Large community. What I did to put you in touch with that person is that I didn’t actually know them, and I just went on LinkedIn and did a search for Uber and accessibility, and found somebody that worked for Uber in accessibility. Then just went and searched for that person on Twitter, and just sent them a message, and linked you in on Twitter. This is something that’s worked for me a lot in the past as well for different apps that I’ve wanted to try and make it accessible.
I’ve just been on LinkedIn and search for a company and accessibility, and seeing if they have somebody that works in accessibility and contacted them either through LinkedIn or found that person. Then gone to try and find them on a platform like Twitter. Or if they don’t have an accessibility person, if it’s not iOS app, then search for a company and iOS, and try to find a direct person in that way. Then that’s also Germany’s tried to work as well, because as you’ve said on the podcast, the real key is trying to find a key person to contact within that company.
That’s just something that I found useful in the past with different services that I’ve tried to make it accessible, to try and get past that initial line of support. That could be useful. Also, on my Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon that I contacted you about a few weeks ago, and the issue that I was having with the Realtek drivers, what I eventually ended up doing was just reinstalling Windows, and that completely solved the problem.
I know you had somebody on the podcast a couple of weeks ago who was looking to buy a ThinkPad but were a little bit worried about the Realtek drivers. I actually just reinstalled Windows and it seems to completely solve my problem. I, like you, am completely loving my X1 Carbon now as well, and don’t seem to be having more issues with the Realtek drivers. Loving the podcast, keep it up. Chat with you again soon.
Jonathan: First of all, fascinating, Scott, about your ThinkPad and the fact that a reinstall of Windows has fixed the issues, and now you are getting the same excellent audio experience that I am. That’s a great outcome. I must say the ThinkPad encourages me to work a bit more because I just love picking it up and using it. It’s such a fantastic Windows laptop, it really is. Thank you for the reminder about LinkedIn. I have not made LinkedIn a regular part of my life. I probably should. For people who do the kind of work that I do, it’s a very useful social network for establishing connections and that sort of thing, and I know this.
What puts me off LinkedIn is the atrocious iOS experience. I have to say, this is classic Microsoft. We love you, Microsoft, and all those sorts of things, but we see this in so many Microsoft applications were something’s accessible but it’s not necessarily efficient. I’d put Microsoft Teams in that category. There’s nothing that’s actually really inaccessible, at least that I have to use regularly about Microsoft Teams, but it’s just a horrible user experience. It’s clunky as hell to use with a screen reader on Windows, it really is. It’s just not intuitive it’s awful, but you can get around it. If you have to use Teams, you just suck it up and you use Teams.
LinkedIn for iOS is like that. I wrote an article on LinkedIn about this, it must have been a couple of years ago now. Specifically, the issues that I have are how many swipes it takes in the iOS app to get through one item on LinkedIn. Everything should be nicely tucked away on the actions rotor or accessible through a double-tap and hold or something. I would prefer the actions rotor like the way Twitter works, and Facebook really on iOS. LinkedIn is so clunky and time consuming to flick through that it is a disincentive for me to use it.
That brings up another mental barrier for me. When I think social media I think my smartphones. I really don’t do much on social media on my computer except for posting maybe a video for this podcast or something. I should make an exception for LinkedIn, because there are lots of good people you can reach there and you’ve demonstrated that so ably, so thank you for doing that. It’s actually not bad on Windows, I don’t mind using LinkedIn on Windows. I wonder if anyone else agrees that the iOS experience is just unwieldy and convoluted. When I pointed this out in the article I posted on LinkedIn a couple of years ago, I actually got people from Microsoft responding who said, yes, it’s a good point. There’s a new user interface in the works that’s much more efficient for blind people to use. We still don’t have it.
Recording: Mosen At Large Podcast.
Jonathan: I always enjoy sharing with the Mosen At Large audience, an app that makes a big difference in my life. If you have a busy calendar and/or task list, even multiple calendars and task lists, perhaps one for work and one for your family, you will love Fantastical. It’s an app available on iOS, iPad OS, watchOS, and macOS.
It’s produced by Flexibits, a company which has demonstrated a consistent commitment to accessibility. Occasionally, they might release a major new feature that isn’t perfect from an accessibility standpoint, but on rare occasions where that happens, they put it right very quickly. I have had fantastic, if I may use the expression, dialogue with them on various features that have required attention. Accessibility is something that they clearly care a lot about. Support, whether it’s for general or accessibility issues is superb and prompt.
When you start using even its basic features, you’ll find that it saves you time and makes entering things into your calendar a snap. I’d like to run through some of the reasons why I like Fantastical. You can decide whether any of these features appeal to you and then keep listening if they do.
The thing to understand about Fantastical is that it is not simply a shell that goes over the top of the calendar support that is available in iOS. Now that did use to be the case. It is not the case anymore. You log directly into each calendar and support a task manager that you want to use with Fantastical.
That approach provides a degree of power and configuration that simply can’t be done with the stock apps. You heard correctly, Fantastical supports tasks as well as calendars. If you want, you can see them all in the same view. This is a handy way to see everything that you’ll be spending time on in a given day in the one place.
It really doesn’t make a lot of sense to have to flick between your calendar and your task manager app when you’ve got things to do or people to see. Why not have it all in the one place, supported task managers, Office 365, Apple’s reminders, the powerful to-do list app, and others. A hallmark of fantastical is natural language input for scheduling appointments and tasks with its powerful natural language input engine. This means you can type or dictate into Fantastical by giving it a sentence a lot like you would usually speak, it’s natural.
In terms of other features, if you’ve ever had a long, complex email thread trying to find a time that works for even most of a group of people and we’ve all been there, right? We’ve wasted so much time trying to coordinate times that work for everybody, whether that be for a social event or a meeting at work, then you will love the Fantastical proposal feature. I find this a massive time saver.
After having done a bit of work with Flexibits on the accessibility of this feature, I find the openings feature that’s just been added to the app wonderful. There are other services out there like Calendly that provide a webpage displaying free slots in your calendar and allowing someone to see when you’re free and then grab a slot.
The Fantastical feature is fully accessible and because it offers it in the app that you’re already paying for, there’s no need to use yet another service. It has deep integration with popular virtual meeting services. You can schedule a call right from within Fantastical.
Similarly, Fantastical knows the service being used for an upcoming appointment on your calendar and offers a button for you to join with the correct app. If you’re heading out to an appointment, you can check weather conditions right from within Fantastical.
Calendar sets lets you group different calendars together, for example, home and work. They even activate based on your location if you choose, there’s a great range of Fantastical widgets in various sizes. This means you can put information that’s essential to you right on your home screen and get the info you need without even opening the app. You can use Fantastical for free but features are limited. To unlock all the power, including their companion app for contacts, which is called Cardhop, equally powerful and accessible, you’ll need to subscribe to Flexibits premium.
The time and effort I save with Fantastical is so significant and features are added so regularly that I’m happy to pay for the subscription to support the app’s development. A single subscription unlocks all the features on all supported platforms.
There’s also a family subscription available to which you can invite up to five family members. There’s a 14-day free trial. You can give it a go to see if you like it and cancel without paying a cent if you find that it doesn’t meet your needs, the Flexibits website makes it clear what is and is not included in Flexibits premium.
Let’s begin by taking a look at how easy it is to add appointments using Fantastical. Let’s talk about why this is such a big feature given that you can schedule any appointment with Siri. First, when you’re in a meeting, it may not be appropriate to use Siri to schedule appointments. There is of course a type to Siri function, but you have to enable it and most people don’t use it regularly. I also find Siri’s natural language input a bit precise or one might say quirky. It can change from time to time as well. A phrase that may have worked once may stop working.
I find getting appointments into my calendar with Fantastical more reliable, powerful, and easy compared with using Siri. Let’s demonstrate it. I’m in the Fantastical app now. I’m using my APH mantis, which has a qwerty keyboard to get input into the app. I’m going to press the command key with N because Fantastical is rich in keyboard shortcuts too.
VoiceOver: Create event, text field, is editing, insertion point, at start.
Jonathan: Right away, I’m in the create edit field and the focus is in the right place. I can just start to type. For this example, I’m going to schedule a meeting with my colleague, Phil, who sometimes listens to this podcast actually so I’d better be on my best behavior and I’m going to create it on Friday at 9:00 AM in my office. I’m logged into my Microsoft 365 calendar with Fantastical. It knows about my organization. I’ll start typing now and I’ll type strategic planning with Phil. Look what happens here.
VoiceOver: Invite to event, heading.
Jonathan: As soon as I started typing with and then a name, Fantastical how started looking for people who might be applicable and I’ll flick to the right. I actually find that I’ve got a lot of people here who start with Phil in my calendar. I’m not going to speak them all but we’ll find the correct person.
VoiceOver: Philip Hendry, button.
Jonathan: There he is. I’ll double-tap.
VoiceOver: Phil, create event. Text field, is editing, strategic planning with, attachment, PNG, file, insertion point at end.
Jonathan: If I wanted to invite other people to this event, I could type and then another partial name and go through that sequence until I have added as many people as I want to add, but I only want Philip at this meeting. I’m now going to type at my office on Friday at 9:00. Now, let’s flick to the right.
VoiceOver: Strategic planning with Philip Hendry, location, my office, 25/03/2022 at 9:00 AM to 25/03/2022 at 10:00 AM.
Jonathan: Let’s unpack what we have because that’s pretty cool, because I typed at my office, Fantastical has put my office in the location field because my default time slots are one hour long, it is scheduled from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM, there was no need for me to enter an end time. If I wanted to though, I could have manually entered an end time in the sentence. I could, for example, have said from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM and it would’ve accepted that and put it in the start and end time fields.
We’ve got this summary of what Fantastical thinks I said and it’s correct, but we can go further and take a look at the individual fields for this appointment. If I flick right–
VoiceOver: Item type, event, button.
Jonathan: That confirms that this is an event and not a task and that’s correct. I’ll flick right.
VoiceOver: Show more.
Jonathan: Double-tap the show more button. When I do that, you’ll notice that Fantastical has a more traditional calendar feel.
VoiceOver: Title, text field, is editing, strategic planning with Philip Hendry, insertion point at end.
Jonathan: That title is correct and I’ll flick right.
VoiceOver: Location. My office, text field, set event location, button, all day, switch button, off, starts 25/03/2022, button, collapse. 9:00 AM, button, collapsed.
Jonathan: If I wanted to, I could manually adjust all of these fields, just like a more traditional calendar. You can see that doing it this way would be so much more convoluted than just typing that simple sentence.
VoiceOver: 25/03/2022, button, collect, 10:00 AM, button, collapsed, time zone, Auckland, button, propose another time.
Jonathan: I’m going to come back to the feature to propose another time in just a minute because it is just so powerful and saves a lot of time.
VoiceOver: Calendar, calendar, button.
Jonathan: You can specify a default calendar in Fantastical and mine is, understandably, my Work calendar. I do have a family shared calendar with my wife and my children and I also have some other calendars as well. If you want to, you can put a slash followed by just enough of the calendar name, or for that matter, the tasklist name to differentiate it, and then you’ll be given the chance to specify that calendar. You can put that slash command in your sentence field if you want to.
VoiceOver: Category none button, invitees Phillip Hendry, button.
Jonathan: Let’s double-tap here.
VoiceOver: Add contact. Search Field, button, Phillip Hendry, accepted, button.
Jonathan: Now that is actually a bug I believe because there’s no way that he could have accepted because I haven’t sent the appointment yet. Normally, Fantastical does a pretty good job of telling you whether somebody is available or not. As you heard, you’re going to add contacts here as well but I’ll back out with a two-finger scrub.
VoiceOver: Invitees, Philip Hendry, button.
Jonathan: Flick right.
VoiceOver: Microsoft Teams meeting switch button off.
Jonathan: If I want, I can just double-tap.
Jonathan: That has created Microsoft Teams URL in the calendar invitation. In the section of Fantastical that governs accounts, you can add multiple conference accounts so that you can double-tap buttons to choose the service that you want. We’ve got Microsoft Teams set up. I could also set up Zoom and I believe Google Meet and a range of other conferencing options. They’re very easy to set up. For some people who struggle with the ribbons in Microsoft Office products, this could be a very sweet more comfortable way of scheduling and organizing meetings for a range of conferencing platforms.
VoiceOver: Repeat, never, button. Travel time, none, button, alert. 15 minutes before, button.
Jonathan: Now recurring appointments are fun, aren’t they? The Fantastical natural language parser does a very good job. If I wanted to have this meeting for the foreseeable future, I could say something like strategic planning with Phil, every Friday at 9:00 AM. I can even go much more detailed with the occurrences in the sentence. You eventually get to trust Fantastical. I very rarely go in and inspect all of this because I just know that it gets it right. Certainly, when you start using the app, it’s natural that you’ll want to learn to trust it and you can go on here and have a look at these individual fields.
VoiceOver: Show as busy, button, visibility, default, button, attachments, none, button.
Jonathan: Those are the fields when you go into Fantastical. It’s a fully-fledged calendar app capable of doing all of that scheduling and task managing as well. There is an add button at the top of the screen.
VoiceOver: Add button.
Jonathan: All I have to do is double-tap that and it will send this appointment which I don’t actually want to do right now because I want to talk about Fantastical proposals. This is one tool that Fantastical users to try and deal with the pain points of scheduling meetings. The more people you invite to a meeting, the more complicated it is trying to find a time that works for everybody. Here’s one way around this. You may recall when we were traversing the screen that we found a button called.
VoiceOver: Propose another time.
Jonathan: I’m going to double tap propose another time.
VoiceOver: 26/03/2022. Collapsed, 9:00 AM, button collapsed.
Jonathan: What Fantastical does by default is proposed a time 24 hours later than when you’d originally scheduled the meeting. That’s not going to work for me because the 26th is a Saturday. I’m going to manually adjust this.
VoiceOver: 26 slash.
Jonathan: I’ll double tap.
VoiceOver: Month, March 2022, button, adjustable.
Jonathan: The month is fine so I’ll flick right.
VoiceOver: Tuesday, March 1st, button.
Jonathan: I have a button for every day of March and that’s a little bit tedious. It’s something that I wish could be addressed because I’m recording this on the 22nd of March, early on a Tuesday morning. Clearly, I don’t want to schedule something for the 1st of March 2022 because I don’t have a time machine. It would be nice just to see the remaining days of the month. Anyway, I will try and find one here.
VoiceOver: Dismiss pop up. Wednesday, March 30th, button.
Jonathan: Here we go. I went to the bottom of the screen and worked my way back.
VoiceOver: Tuesday, Monday, March 28th, button.
Jonathan: That’s all right. I’ll try scheduling that.
VoiceOver: Selected. Monday, March 28th.
Jonathan: Having selected that date, I need to go to the bottom of the screen.
VoiceOver: Dismiss pop-up, button.
Jonathan: There is the dismiss pop-up button. I’ll double-tap it.
VoiceOver: Cancel button.
Jonathan: I’m now back on that main screen where I typed the sentence and I looked at all the fields. You’ll see that there’s something new here. First, we’ve got the original date of the appointment, still untagged because that’s my preferred time. I want this meeting soon.
VoiceOver: Starts 25/03/2022, button, collapsed, 9:00 AM, button, collapsed, end, 25/03/2022 button, collapsed, 10:00 AM, button, collapsed, timezone Auckland, button.
Jonathan: Now there’s something new if I flick right though.
VoiceOver: Start proposed time one, 28/03/2022, button, collapsed, 9:00 AM button, end, proposed time one, 28/03/2022, button, 10:00 AM, button, collapsed.
Jonathan: That is my proposed time one or if you will my second choice. What happens at the other end when you are inviting people to a meeting like this where you’re proposing multiple times. You can keep adding times by the way. You could have several times here for somebody to choose from or for multiple people to choose from. Well, the genius is that once you start doing this, and you’ve created a meeting that contains proposals, when you add this meeting to your calendar, what’s going to happen is that all the invitees are going to get an email inviting them to a web page.
On that web page, which is accessible, all the invitees are able to specify which times work for them. You know this, right. If you’ve done anything with calendars, you’ve seen this happen so often. People nominate a whole bunch of times and they say I could do Friday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and it gets very confusing. Then person number one says, “Well, I can do Friday, but I can’t do Wednesday, but I can do Thursday, and maybe I could make Monday.”
We’re going on and on it goes. When you’ve got so many people, it’s confusing. This feature, the proposals feature of Fantastical takes all that away because it’s all done via the web and then you get to choose which appointment time you accept. It’s like a poll of all of your attendees, or Fantastical can even take that effort away for you, and choose the most suitable time that works for the most people. That is the proposals feature in Fantastical. I don’t want to actually send this.
VoiceOver: Cancel, button.
Jonathan: I’m going to double-tap the cancel button.
VoiceOver: Cancel, alert, discard proposal, button.
Jonathan: That’s fine. I’m going to double-tap that.
VoiceOver: Menu button.
Jonathan: Now I’m back on the main screen of Fantastical which has quite a few views that you can choose from to suit your preferences. Now I’m going to create another appointment as we just experiment a bit more with this natural language input. I’ll press command N.
VoiceOver: Create event, text field, is editing. Insertion point at start.
Jonathan: This time, I will type family meeting with Bonnie.
VoiceOver: Invite to event, heading.
Jonathan: Now I’ll flick right.
VoiceOver: Popup menu. Bonnie Mosen, button, list end.
Jonathan: I’ll double-tap Bonnie Mosen’s name.
Jonathan: Now, I’ll type.
VoiceOver: Create event, text field, is editing. Family meeting with attachment. PNG, file. Insertion point at end.
Jonathan: Now I’ll type a comma. No need for a space and I’ll type Heidi.
VoiceOver: Popup menu. Invite to event, heading, Heidi Taylor, button.
Jonathan: Double-tap her name.
VoiceOver: Create event, text field.
Jonathan: Now I’ll type a comma and now I’ll type Richard.
VoiceOver: Invite to event, heading, Richard Mosen, button.
Jonathan: There he is. We’ll double-tap.
VoiceOver: Create event, text field.
Jonathan: I’m going to stop there. I’ll press the spacebar. Now I’m going to type the calendar that I want which in this case is my family calendar. I’m just going to type /F and flick to the right.
VoiceOver: Family button, list end.
Jonathan: There is my family calendar. I can double-tap to edit.
VoiceOver: Create event.
Jonathan: Now I haven’t added a time of course. If I was scheduling this for real, I would have put a date and time in the sentence. Of course, you can also go in there and add it manually in the way that I showed you before. For now, I’m going to cancel this.
VoiceOver: Cancel button.
VoiceOver: Cancel alert, discard event, button.
Jonathan: Double-tap again.
VoiceOver: Menu button.
Jonathan: I’m back in the Fantastical main screen. Scheduling a task is just as easy. I can press command with N.
VoiceOver: Create event, text field, is editing. Insertion point at start.
Jonathan: I can type something like reminder, pay my phone bill on Friday at noon. Now let’s flick right.
VoiceOver: Pay my phone bill. 25/03/2022 at twelve o’clock PM. Item type, task, button.
Jonathan: I have my tasks going into the Apple Reminders app for the moment. What I find works for me is to have my notifications for my calendar coming from Fantastical but I have my notifications for reminders coming from Apple reminders because they seem to persist a little bit longer, is probably something at a system level that allows Apple’s Reminders app to show overdue reminders in your notifications even after you’ve cleared your notifications. I find that I don’t forget them doing it this way, but certainly, entering your tasks with Fantastical is way easier than any other option.
The Todoist app itself actually does have a pretty good language parser as well. If you want to, you can also set up your Microsoft Outlook tasks, you use the same method that we showed you before, where you can type a slash followed by your task list name and if you put something like a reminder or to do, or something at the beginning of the sentence that makes it clear that this is a reminder, this is a task, this is not an appointment, then your task list options will then come up.
You can give different priorities to different tasks, simply by adding exclamation marks at the end of the task, the more exclamation marks you add, the higher the priority of the task, so there’s a pretty cool feature. Now I don’t actually want to pay my phone bill because I’m being a rebel this week.
VoiceOver: Cancel button.
Jonathan: I’ll cancel out of this.
VoiceOver: Cancel alert, discard task, button, menu, button.
Jonathan: Now I’m at the main Fantastical screen. If I flick right, by the way.
VoiceOver: Calendar sets, untitled calendar set, button, notifications, button.
Jonathan: If I double tap this, I’ll get notifications that I might need to attend to. You will get push notifications when someone schedules an appointment with you or when things have been canceled, but it’s good to just check that there are no notifications pending and I will deal with mine after I finish recording.
I won’t spend too much time talking about navigating the calendar itself, but I will say a couple of things. The view that I find most accessible and most useful is the day ticker view, there is a button that you can press towards the top of the screen that says go to today. If you double-tap that button and then tap somewhere in the center of the screen, you normally get to roughly where today is on your calendar.
When you find an appointment or a task, any events that’s scheduled in Fantastical, there’s excellent use of the action’s rotor, you can actually accept or decline a calendar invitation from the Actions rotor, you can double-tap the event to take a look at it in detail including who else has been invited. Depending on what calendar you’re using, whether they have accepted or not, at this point.
Usually Fantastical does a really good job of determining what conferencing service and online meeting is being held with, and if you flick to the right when the meeting is close, you often find a button to join and it will launch the appropriate conferencing app if it’s installed on your iDevice and take you into the meeting.
You can also do that at other times if the meeting is not closed, but you want to visit it for some reason by going into the More button and you can join using the appropriate conferencing app. I am going to flick left now because I want to talk about Fantastical proposals, which is a pretty new feature in Fantastical. They had some accessibility teething troubles, to begin with, and to their great credit, they worked very hard to fix them in a timely manner. That’s a testimony to how committed Flexibits is to accessibility.
I’ve started using Fantastical proposals both for my day job and for scheduling interviews for the Mosen At Large podcast. When I’ve done this, a lot of people have said, “Dude” they’ve said, “Wow, that is really cool, I have to have this too,” and you may well feel this way, because it is another way of Fantastical trying to ease the pain of getting an appointment time that works for everyone. For Mosen At Large in particular, this can be a real challenge, because I’m meeting with people all around the world, they may also have day jobs and we could be in very different time zones.
For example, at the time that I’m recording this, I’m currently 17 hours ahead of North American Eastern time. The idea of Fantastical openings is that you can give somebody a web page and you can say to them, go to this web page and book a time in my calendar. It’s not the only service that does this, Calendly also does a pretty good job, in a pretty accessible job, but if you’re subscribing to a really great app anyway, and it offers this feature, then it’s saving you a bit of money.
What I really like about the Fantastical implementation of this feature is that you can set up multiple templates. I have one openings template that is scheduled for my day job and I’m available normally between about 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM for that and I have another openings template for Mosen At Large which allows me to meet with people outside those hours and that’s quite flexible because of all the timezone differences that I have to accommodate to get interviews recorded for the show.
Let’s show you how we set this up and how it works. I’m going to double-tap the menu button which is at the top of the screen.
VoiceOver: Menu, button, pop-up menu, list heading. List start.
Jonathan: Let’s flick to the right.
VoiceOver: Tasks, button, selected, Day ticker, button.
Jonathan: Day ticker is what I normally have my Fantastical set to, that’s a very accessible and easy view.
VoiceOver: Calendar, button, full-screen heading, day, button, week, button, month, button.
Jonathan: These are the views that you can choose from.
VoiceOver: Quarter, button, year, button, openings, button.
Jonathan: Here’s opening, so let’s double-tap.
VoiceOver: Done, button.
Jonathan: Flick right.
VoiceOver: Openings, heading, add, button.
Jonathan: You can add a template here.
VoiceOver: Meeting templates, heading, schedule a meeting with Jonathan Mosen, active, create events in calendar.
Jonathan: That’s my day job template, I’ll flick to the right.
VoiceOver: Switch button, on, pick any free hour-long slot to meet with Jonathan Mosen, chief Executive, Workbridge incorporated.
Jonathan: I’ll flick to the right again.
VoiceOver: Duration, one hour.
Jonathan: You can specify by default, how long these slots are that are available to people who visit this web page.
VoiceOver: Available days, Mon, Tuesday, Wed, Thursday, Friday.
Jonathan: This is my day job, so it’s a Monday to Friday thing here, I’ll flip to the right.
VoiceOver: Attachment, PNG, file, automatic approval.
Jonathan: Now obviously, if you’ve been spammed all over the place or something and people are booking things in your calendar, you may want to set automatic approval to off, at the moment, I have it on.
VoiceOver: Fantastical app/Jonathan num one.
Jonathan: Then it’s got the URL.
VoiceOver: Copy Link, button.
Jonathan: You can copy the link to the clipboard. What I’ve done because I do a lot of my work-related email on my PC is I have the URL for both of these templates, actually, my Mosen At Large openings templates and my work template as Leasey texts. We’ve talked about Leasey in the past on the show. They’re just there. I can with the press of a key, put a string of text and an email or a message that says if you want to meet with me, then choose this link. That’s really handy and there’s also the iOS share sheet compatibility.
VoiceOver: Share button.
Jonathan: There’s the share button so you can share it with all the usual suspects and now, if I flick to the right.
VoiceOver: Schedule a Mosen At Large podcast interview, active, creates events and calendar.
Jonathan: This is my second template and this is for Mosen At Large interviews, so this is a bit different.
VoiceOver: Switch button, on. I look forward to speaking with you on Mosen At Large, the show that’s got the blind community talking, please pick an hour-long slot that suits you. Unless otherwise arranged with you, I will be back in touch ahead of our interview with a link to a service called Cleanfeed where we record interviews. Cleanfeed is a broadcast quality service. There is nothing to install. It all works in your browser.
If you have not used Cleanfeed before, your browser will ask permission for the site to access the microphone. Please grant this permission so listeners can hear you. Please also use the best microphone available to you, a wired microphone or headset is best. Earbuds with a microphone are not as good, but much better than a laptop microphone. If you are using a mobile device, the microphone in your device should be okay.
Jonathan: That’s what people see when they go to this template for the Mosen At Large openings and book a slot with me and we’ll show you that from the user side in a bit.
VoiceOver: Duration, one hour.
Jonathan: Again, we have one-hour slots.
VoiceOver: Available days, Mon, Tuesday, Wed, Thursday, Friday, Sat, Sun.
Jonathan: Seven days a week this time.
VoiceOver: Attachment, PNG file, automatic approval, Fantastical, apps slash copy link.
Jonathan: This is the URL and on we go. How do we edit these and how do we create them? Well, let’s go to creating one and show you how we do it from scratch.
VoiceOver: Done, button.
Jonathan: I’ll go to the top of the screen with the done button is and flick right.
VoiceOver: Openings, heading, add button.
Jonathan: I’m going to double-tap the add button.
VoiceOver: Add, done, button.
Jonathan: I’ll flick to the right.
VoiceOver: Lockhub.flexibits.com hitting, refresh, button. New meeting template, heading level one, active tick box, checked, expand details section, button, expanded.
Jonathan: It is expanded, it says, so I’ll flick right.
VoiceOver: Name, name, text field, required.
Jonathan: I’m going to just double-tap here.
VoiceOver: Insertion point at end.
Jonathan: Type something like openings demo.
VoiceOver: Openings demo.
Jonathan: I’ll flick right.
VoiceOver: Description, description, multi-line text field.
Jonathan: Just as we show you this, I’m not going to type in a description but this is where I typed in the Mosen At Large template, all that info about the fact that we’re going to use Cleanfeed, what kind of microphone to use, all that sort of thing. The Description field can be quite large and detailed.
VoiceOver: When a meeting is confirmed, it will be added to this calendar. The calendar name is only visible to you. Combo box, menu pop up, collapsed.
Jonathan: When you double-tap here, you can choose which calendar you want things to be added to. If you have a work calendar, you’ll want your openings to be added to that and you want people to be able to see when you’re free on that particular calendar. I should emphasize, and this is really important for people who have concerns about the security of your appointments, when you go to one of these pages, people can not see who your appointments are with.
They can only see whether you’re free. They can only see the status essentially, of these time slots. If someone tries to book a time with me, they can either see I’m free, or I’m not free, but they obviously can’t see who I’m meeting with because that would be majorly bad.
VoiceOver: Slash Jonathan num one, K slash.
Jonathan: There is a URL that’s nominated but you can customize it.
VoiceOver: The last part of your Fantastical link, share your custom link with people so they can create a meeting. Openings demo, text field, required.
Jonathan: By default, it has taken openings demo as the end of the URL but you can change it if you want to. I’ll flick right.
VoiceOver: Expand availability section, button, collapsed.
Jonathan: This one is collapsed so I’m going to double tap.
VoiceOver: Expand availability section. Expanded.
Jonathan: Flick right.
VoiceOver: How long should each meeting be? Up to 12 hours.
Jonathan: Goodness gracious. I don’t think I could cope with a meeting that long.
VoiceOver: Hours, combo box, menu pop-up, collapsed.
Jonathan: Here you can specify in hours and then-
Jonathan: – minutes.
VoiceOver: Combo box.
Jonathan: You could have 15-minute slots if you wanted, 30-minute slots, whatever.
VoiceOver: Which days and times are you available? For example, if you are available all day, but have a lunch break, you might set up a morning block as 9:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and a second block as 1:00 PM, 5:00 PM. Timezone menu, Pacific/Auckland, pop-up button, Sunday tick box unchecked.
Jonathan: We’ve got checkboxes for every day of the week and then time slots. If, as they suggest, you want to break for lunch, you would have to go through and set a Monday through Friday 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM block, for example, and then a second block for the afternoon. It is all very accessible. The next section is.
VoiceOver: Expand approval section, button, collapsed.
Jonathan: This has collapsed right now so I will expand it.
VoiceOver: Expand approval section. Expanded.
Jonathan: Flick to the right.
VoiceOver: Choose if you want to automatically approve incoming meeting requests or if you want to manually approve them in Fantastical. Automatically approve meetings, radio button, checked, form start, one of two. Manually approved meetings, radio button, unchecked [unintelligible 01:32:49] two of two.
Jonathan: What will happen if you choose this radio button, which is not checked by default, is that you’ll get a notification from Fantastical saying somebody wants to meet with you. Is this okay? If you’re really, really in demand, then you may want to enable this.
VoiceOver: Save changes, button.
Jonathan: There’s a save button. I’m not going to save this template but that is how easy it is and how powerful it is to set up a range of templates for openings in Fantastical. Now let’s put it to the test from a user’s perspective. You’ve got these templates set up or at least one template set up. Somebody’s emailed you saying when’s a good time to meet. You say to them, “Why not visit my calendar, pick a slot that suits you and I’m free, and I look forward to meeting with you.” Well, it just so happens that I have my handy dandy Microsoft Edge open here and I’m going to go to the address bar by pressing Ctrl L for location.
JAWS: Mushroom FM, the home of the-
Jonathan: Now I’m going to paste in the URL of my Mosen At Large openings page from my Leasey texts. I’ll go to Leasey.
JAWS: Leasey. list of the openings MAL.
Jonathan: There we go openings MALP, for Mosen At Large Podcast. I’ll press Enter.
Jonathan: That has inserted the URL so I’ll press Enter again.
Jonathan: We’ll just wait for that page to come up.
JAWS: Two regions in one link.
Jonathan: There we go. Let’s just do a continuous read and see what’s on this page.
JAWS: Schedule Mosen At Large Podcast interview Fantastical openings, navigation, region. Graphic Fantastical logo, navigation, region and meet with Jonathan Mosen. Schedule a Mosen At Large Podcast interview, one-hour, timezone, menu, Pacific/Auckland, button, menu, collapsed, menu, I look forward to speaking with you at Mosen At Large, the show that’s got the blind community talking. Please pick an hour-long slot that suits you.
Unless otherwise arranged with you, I will be back in touch ahead of our interview with a link to a service called Cleanfeed where we record interviews. Cleanfeed is a broadcast quality service. There is nothing to install. It all works in your browser. If you have not used Cleanfeed before, your browser will ask permission for the site to access the microphone. Please grant this permission so listeners can hear you.
Please also use the best microphone available to you. A wired microphone or headset is best. Earbuds with a microphone are not as good but much better than a laptop microphone. If you are using a mobile device, the microphone in your device should be okay. Which time works best. Go to date, button, menu, collapsed, menu, go to previous week.
Jonathan: I’m going to stop continuous reading now. What we had there was first the ability to set the timezone so that what you see makes sense to you. I’m pretty sure that your timezone is detected automatically so you’ll probably have the correct timezone there. Then there’s that explanation that I inserted. You can imagine that if you are being set up for a Mosen At Large interview, that’s information that you need to know and it’s all friendly, and right there on the webpage. Now there are navigation keys. If I just press the B key in JAWS to navigate by button.
JAWS: Go to next week button, meeting time, April 7th, 2022, 5:00 PM Greenwich Mean Time, plus April 12th, 7, 2022 6:00 PM Greenwich Mean Time plus 12 button.
Jonathan: What you’re hearing, there is an example of something that we’ve talked about on Mosen at Large before where text to speech engines are trying to be way too clever. Rather than just read what’s on the screen, they’re trying to interpret what’s on the screen, and they sometimes get it wrong. If I read on the Braille display, or you could see it visually, we have the date here. It’s April the 7th my time from 5:00 PM until 6:00 PM is the next available slot. If I press the B key again.
JAWS: Meeting time, April 7th, 2020 to 6:00 PM Greenwich Mean Time plus April 12th, 7 2022 7:00 PM Greenwich Mean Time plus 12, button.
Jonathan: What’s tripping this Vocalizer voice up is reference to plus 12 and it’s messing up the date as a result, but that’s not Fantastical’s fault. That text-to-speech engine has been way overzealous. If I want to schedule this slot, I just press the spacebar and I don’t get any feedback from JAWS at this point. If I go to the top of the page, and now I’ll press the F key to navigate to the first form field on the page.
JAWS: Timezone menu, Pacific slash Auckland, button menu, collapsed menu.
Jonathan: Press F again.
JAWS: Your name edit.
Jonathan: From now on I know that the best way to deal with this is to press E which will jump me straight to the field that I’m interested in. I’ll turn forms mode on.
JAWS: Schedule a Mosen at Large podcast interview, Fantastical openings. Your name, edit.
Jonathan: I’ll type my name and press tab.
JAWS: Your email edit.
Jonathan: I’ll type my email and press tab.
JAWS: Add an optional comment edit. Contains text.
Jonathan: This is what you might be able to say something like I’m really looking forward to speaking with you in the context of a Mosen at Large interview or I don’t want to use Cleanfeed. I want to use Zoom or something like that. You can put anything you want here in this freeform comment field. I’ll press tab.
JAWS: Schedule on Mosen at Large podcast interview Fantastical openings. Add guests button.
Jonathan: You can add additional guests so if I press the spacebar to activate that button.
JAWS: Schedule a Mosen at Large podcast interview, Fantastical openings.
Jonathan: Focus is set back to the top of the page, I’ll navigate by form fields.
JAWS: Timezone menu, your name, edit, your email, add an optional comment, add guests by listing their email addresses edit.
Jonathan: Now we have this additional field where you can add guests by listing the email addresses. This is great in the context of setting up a podcast interview if I want to interview multiple guests, and the person I’m interviewing is happy to set that up.
JAWS: Change time button. Request this meeting button.
Jonathan: All I have to do is press the spacebar to request the meeting. When I do that, a number of things get initiated. The Fantastical user receives a push notification advising them that somebody has scheduled a meeting and it specifically tells you who has scheduled that meeting and when it’s scheduled for. The person who has requested the meeting gets the calendar invitation to add to their calendar and they also get an email confirmation.
It’s extremely well done and it saves a lot of time. That is Fantastical openings. Fantastical genuinely is one of those apps that saves me time. It’s a joy to use. It offers features that I really need and I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief overview scratching the surface of what Fantastical can do. If you want to know more, search for Fantastical in your Apple App Store be it for your watch, your phone, or your Mac and take it for a spin and be sure to share your thoughts. If you’re a Fantastical user now, how is the experience for you and I’ll be interested to find out how you get on with it if you try Fantastical for the first time.
Advertisement: On Twitter. Follow Mosen At Large for information about the podcast, the latest tech news and links to things we talked about on the podcast. That’s Mosen At Large, all one word on Twitter.
Jonathan: It has been some weeks since that beautiful music has graced our podcast, but it’s on-again, because it’s time for another edition of the Bonnie Bulletin with Bonnie Mosen.
Bonnie: Hey, everybody.
Jonathan: Do you notice a difference about the old microphone?
Bonnie: Yes, it doesn’t have the furry thing anymore.
Jonathan: No, we don’t like that furry thing, and we thank Glenn Gordon, once again, for encouraging the expenditure of money. We’ve got this new microphone windshield thing for the Heil PR 40 and I heard about this, on the same podcast that Glenn did when we were listening to an interview with a woman from Heil who make Heil PR 40. She was using this windscreen and Glen decided he would go and buy it and then he convinced me and I must admit, I like it a lot better. What do you think about it?
Bonnie: It’s nice. I’m not a microphone aficionado, so I can’t comment on its qualities and stuff but yes, it’s nice.
Jonathan: I think that the nice furry phone thing that we had, the official Heil windshield, was kind of, I don’t know, I thought it was a bit more professional looking to me, but-
Bonnie: The furry thing was?
Jonathan: More traditional microphone but these-
Bonnie: I think this looks more like what you’d come across in a new studio.
Jonathan: Yes. It’s much better. I actually think it sounds better. You can get closer to the microphone.
Bonnie: This is what we had when I was in journalism.
Jonathan: Was it?
Bonnie: Something similar, maybe not quite this. It was a lot bigger but yes, we did have windshields that were pretty big.
Jonathan: Hello, Jonathan and Bonnie says this email, so I thought I’d save it for the Bonnie bulletin.
Jonathan: It’s from Abby Taylor.
Bonnie: Hi, Abby.
Jonathan: She says I really appreciate you dedicating your last Bonnie bulletin on the Mosen At Large podcast to me, because remember, we did that?
Bonnie: Yes, we did.
Jonathan: She says, I’m glad you finally got your drainage problems solved. However, we’ve had several other interactions with tradespeople. We can talk about that in a second. She says I read in the New Yorker magazine recently. Didn’t you have a brush with a journalist from the New Yorker or something?
Bonnie: It wasn’t a brush with a journalist. I was on a shoot with a photographer and a journalist from the New Yorker once many, many years ago.
Jonathan: Did you get a firearms license?
Bonnie: No, we had a photo license.
Jonathan: Oh, well, that kind of shoot.
Bonnie: Yes, that photoshoot, and I was talking to him about the New Yorker. He goes,”Ha, yes, but only people read it for the cartoons,” and I don’t know if he’s been there too long and he’s gotten jaded or what?
Jonathan: A bit cynical, because I’ve heard lots of people compliment the New Yorker for its articles.
Bonnie: That’s in good fiction.
Jonathan: Anyway, so Abby reads the New Yorker.
Bonnie: That’s good.
Jonathan: That’s an endorsement because she said, I read in the New Yorker magazine recently, that because of the propaganda being broadcast in Russia, and the government blocking any media outlets that refuse to spread the government’s propaganda, most Russians are unaware of the true nature of the situation in Ukraine. A survey found that most Russians blame the United States for what the Russian government calls a special military operation. Children are even being taught in schools that this is not a war, but a special military operation.
It’s very Orwellian, that language, protests are being promptly squashed, we can only hope that the Russians will somehow be made aware of the true nature of the situation but that’s not likely to happen. Thanks again for another great podcast episode, and of course, since Abby is written that there have been some very interesting protests, like the woman who actually interrupted the news bulletin, at considerable risk, and there have been several thousand people I understand arrested for attempting to protest. There is some awareness.
Bonnie: Yes and a lot of the soldiers are calling their mothers and telling them there’s been several things that even the Ukrainians have put out where they’ve intercepted transmission between soldiers and family, saying this is not what we expected. We were told we were on a special operations training exercise, and this is warfare. We didn’t know we were going into Ukraine and we even saw that with the, was the Ukrainian ambassador that got up and read the text messages from a dead Russian soldier that he had sent but there’s a very interesting talk that I’ve seen several references to by a journalist that I have followed for years, Vladimir Pozner, he used to be on Radio Moscow.
Years ago, many people may have seen him on Nightline, with Ted Koppel. He was the unofficial or official spokesman for the Soviet Union because he speaks perfect English because he was raised in New York. He did a talk at Yale about, I think, seven or eight years ago was how the West created Putin and it was very, very fascinating. I would encourage anyone to go on YouTube and listen to it. It’s a lot to take in. It’s very thought-provoking. I’m paraphrasing this now and this has been from some other sites that we’ve underestimated Putin and it’s very fascinating. I would encourage anyone to listen to it.
Jonathan: I think one of the most consequential things to have happened in the post-Soviet era was the decision to expand NATO. To allow NATO to expand.
Bonnie: Yes. Then he talks a lot about that, the fact that the Soviets were promised that NATO would not expand eastward, but when the Soviet Union was no more, they said, “Oh, that was agreement with the Soviet Union, not Russia.” The fact that the Warsaw Pact was dissolved and the reason that we had NATO was to protect against Soviet Union.
Jonathan: Gorbachev himself up pretty betrayed by the expansion.
Bonnie: Yes, they’ve all felt very betrayed. It certainly does not excuse what’s happening in Ukraine but it does give you a lot to think about.
Jonathan: Now, we’ve had several brushes with tradespeople since we talked about our great big fix that we have a, do you have bread and dripping in the United States?
Bonnie: No, they just say bread and water.
Jonathan: Bread and water.
Bonnie: Supposedly eat bread and water.
Jonathan: I’m not sure what dripping is. It’s disgusting though I understand. They used to eat it a lot in the depression. It’s like the fat-
Bonnie: Like Lard.
Jonathan: Yes. Anyway, just as I think we can get off the bread and dripping, something else happens so we had a toilet system issue that we had to call a plumber out for, and then last night, we had Heidi and Henry, because it’s feed Heidi and Henry time at the moment, well, it was because the oven blew up. It did blow up. Did it?
Bonnie: It did blow up, yes. It was sparking.
Jonathan: It was sparking.
Bonnie: This has been about what, three weeks ago?
Jonathan: It’s been a long time. It seems like a long time. When you say three weeks, it doesn’t seem like a long time but when you’re living it and you don’t have an oven. Their landlord had some issues, I understand, getting supply because of the Rona pandemic and everything. They finally got their oven today. They’re very excited about that. Anyway, we had Heidi and Henry over last night, and we got them dinner and then it turned out there was a bit of an issue with our sink. It was spewing water into the bottom cupboard.
Bonnie: Yes, there was like a leak.
Jonathan: We had to get out after hours but well I guess, did we have to get an after-hours plumber?
Bonnie: They thought that we should. It’s probably a good idea to get it, might as well, just in case it was leaking because it was leaking a bit.
Jonathan: We all had work commitments. It was good to get it done and the plumber guy was like, would be a lot cheaper if you waited until the morning.
Bonnie: We know that, but.
Jonathan: He came out, somewhat begrudgingly, I think, and got it all fixed but it seems that there were some things that might have been going down the waste disposal machine that oughtn’t to have gone down the waste disposal.
Bonnie: It looks like it’s the old pipes. It’s not the newer pipes from.
Jonathan: Oh, Danny boy, the pipes. I looked up on the Google about what you’re supposed to put down the waste disposal and it’s ambiguous because you can put vegetables and you can put fruit and they say you can put meat scraps but then they say don’t put fat down at and don’t put fibrous vegetables.
Bonnie: Like rice and potato peeler.
Jonathan: Salad and–
Bonnie: He said it was the orange peels that stopped it up but then I’ve read you can put citrus down it to freshen it up so I’m like, okay.
Jonathan: Well, I think we should just err on the side of conservatism with this and you had a bit of an interesting week with the jolly old health.
Bonnie: I have. Tuesday, I was going to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy and I decided to get my blood pressure checked and it was very, very high.
Jonathan: Did you just decide to do that because–
Bonnie: I have been feeling weird for a few weeks, not dizzy but having headaches and I just chalked it up to sinus and stuff. I just decided to do it. To go ahead and do it and I’ve been hearing a whooshing in my right ear and when I looked up that it said that could be high blood pressure. I decided to get it checked and it was very high. They sent me, they said, “You need to go to the doctor,” so I did and it was still high.
I don’t have any history of high blood pressure and I wasn’t having any symptoms, being dizzy or you’re extremely nauseous or anything like that and my heartbeat sounded okay. What they like to do before they put you on any medication is check it over a couple of days to see if it goes down and they did bloodwork Wednesday, which was completely normal. I went back today and it’s still high. They [crosstalk]
Jonathan: But a bit lower, right?
Bonnie: A little bit, not much, but a little bit, the top number is still the same. They did an EEG, ECG, whatever it is and I had to wait quite a while on that because the battery went dead. They had to give it a charge.
Jonathan: Did you say, “Why can’t I just do this on my Apple watch?”
Bonnie: Yes, that’s good, but the other one gives a much clearer reading as well. That turned out that was normal. They did decide to put me on a, and I agreed, to put me on a very low dose of blood pressure medicine to bring it down because I want it brought down. They’re going to do that for a month, it’s a very low dose, and do some lifestyle changes and see what happens. She said it may be that they can pull me off that in a month or so.
Jonathan: You’re having a serious attempt at the low carb.
Jonathan: Because there’s all sorts of research about how low carb can lower blood pressure and, yes. That will be good to see how that goes.
Bonnie: Yes, hopefully, it goes down because I’ve never had high blood pressure in my life. It’s scary when anything– When it happens to you, when you hear about other people who are having issues like, oh, that’s terrible, but then it happens to you and it’s like, oh.
Jonathan: The stress of living with me.
Bonnie: Yes. It’s amazing what stress can do to you.
Jonathan: Oh, it is. That’s why meditation and things like that are so useful tools.
Jonathan: Now we’ve been talking about Uber, Menulog, and things. We have had some developments with this over this week. One is that Menulog has opened up again. We mentioned that for a short time, there was a glorious window where we could get all sorts of restaurants from the central business district, and then suddenly, it narrowed considerably. We think that one or two things might have happened. One is that they were trying to just narrow it down. The other could be that they restricted it due to a shortage of drivers during the pandemic. Another theory is that DoorDash is coming to New Zealand.
Bonnie: Yes, DoorDash is coming.
Jonathan: You told me that, you found it out.
Bonnie: Yes, I saw it on Facebook, DoorDash is coming to Wellington.
Jonathan: The rumors that it could be quite soon, like next week that they’re going to turn on DoorDash. The app is on the app store here in New Zealand now, but you can’t sign up yet because you have to choose your country code, and New Zealand isn’t in the list for the country code you can choose, but that’s going to be cool to have another choice.
Bonnie: That will be cool. It’ll be nice when we get Instacart if we ever get Instacart, that would be cool.
Jonathan: Yes, I’m not familiar with Instacart, but they just go anywhere, don’t they?
Bonnie: Yes. Morris town, they don’t have Uber Eats. They had DoorDash when I was there and Instacart.
Jonathan: Yes. I’ve not ever used DoorDash. I understand that they are competing on price with the restaurant owners and their value proposition is, this is all we do. We pride ourselves on getting food quickly and all hot and tasty. I don’t know, I’d like to know from anyone else who’s had access to DoorDash how they think it compares with Uber Eats, do they have a preference, and why? Why?
Bonnie: Yes. Christina uses DoorDash.
Jonathan: There you go, but why? Why? Why choose DoorDash over Uber Eats?
Bonnie: I don’t think she has Uber Eats.
Jonathan: That’s a good reason. That’s a good reason. It’s good to have that additional choice.
Bonnie: Yes, it is. It’s become more common during the COVID times.
Jonathan: Yes, but gosh, with Menulog having opened up again, not only did they open up the way they did before into the central business district, but they’ve gone the other way. We can now get food delivered from places all the way out in Mana which is a long way out.
Bonnie: Yes, it is.
Jonathan: A long way north.
Bonnie: Some of that, Kapiti Coast or something.
Jonathan: Yes, it’s getting up there. It’s amazing.
Bonnie: Though it’ll be kind of cold if it came all the way from the Kapiti Coast.
Jonathan: Yes. It’s good because we used to eat a lot of food from a place called Pita Pit and the Johnsonville store has closed, I don’t know whether that’s temporary while they look for a new franchisee or whatever or whether it’s permanent because Subway closed for a long time a few years ago.
Bonnie: They were redoing their shop, which looks absolutely the same as it did before. [laughs] I’m not sure what [unintelligible 01:54:11].
Jonathan: Yes. Before you were here, Subway closed when they ran out of franchisee and they got a new franchisee. I wonder if the same was happening with Pita Pit or not. Now, with Menulog having spread its wings, we can get Pita Pit from other places. Our cup runneth over with food.
Bonnie: Speaking of cars and things that deliver and the Kapiti Coast, Transmission Gully is finally open.
Jonathan: I suppose no one outside of New Zealand will understand what.
Bonnie: Except for the US, the very old Veterans might know about it.
Bonnie: They were supposed to build it back in the ’40s.
Jonathan: Were they?
Bonnie: Almost 100 years later, Transmission Gully is a new highway that cuts a few miles off coming from the Kapiti Coast up to Wellington. It opened last week, I think it was about midnight and there were people out there waiting to go on it. The thing now is to go drive down it. One of the support groups, the older people support groups, they actually took a bus trip in Transmission Gully.
Jonathan: Yes. There was even a push notification, I think, about somebody who got the first speeding ticket.
Bonnie: Yes, the first speeding ticket.
Jonathan: They can probably frame that-
Bonnie: Probably frame it and sell it.
Jonathan: – or sell it, yes.
Bonnie: It’s one of those things and anyone living in anywhere will understand how slow infrastructure is. It’s been taken years to build and a lot of setbacks as usual. I think there’s some thingsm some of it starting to crumble a bit now.
Jonathan: They’ve got some sealed chips, but apparently, they said that that was expected [unintelligible 01:55:50].
Bonnie: Yes. It’s not like the Big Dig in Boston, where that’s starting to fall apart. Yes. It’ll be fun to go take, I don’t know, take a ride on it. Apparently, there’s some really steep parts of it, but a lot of people have been out just hooning around on it.
Jonathan: I’m sure.
Bonnie: Yes, but one of my co-workers works out in that area and I said, “Did you take it in this morning?” She goes, “No, I looked over there and saw the traffic going on it and decided to come the other way,” because everybody’s going on it, I guess.
Jonathan: Yes, it’s a novelty thing. It’ll sort itself out. I would like to close by mentioning my cool new invention idea. Yes. This is, we know, for example, how intelligent guide dogs are and they have a bit of a vocabulary. They know things like elevator and park time with a bit depending on the guide dogs school that you’re going to. I thought, if you can train guide dogs that will the clever things that guide dogs do, why can’t we train them with some sort of device like a big mats that has different cut or shapes because dogs are colorblind, aren’t they?
Jonathan: They have to be different shaped or different types of textures and surfaces. Anyway, the idea of this device will be that the dog knows what to push to communicate certain things. If it needed to go outside, it could know to push that at all special button that says I need to do out time and it would speak it for you, for the human. If it was hungry, it would be able to push the hungry button, it would be pushing that all day long.
Jonathan: It would. Particularly a lab would be feed me, feed me, feed me.
Bonnie: I think that has merit.
Jonathan: Yes. They do teach them with the conditioned response, Pavlov dogs, but also they teach the puppies to ring a bell when they have to go out.
Bonnie: Exactly. Yes. That’s just the beginning.
Jonathan: I did know someone that taught the dog how to push the button, one of those buttons from Staples that said that was easy.
Bonnie: Excellent. I think it’s got potential.
Jonathan: Yes, they’re very smart, the things they pick up.
Bonnie: Yes. I remember my guide dog, Pearl, that I had many years ago now, we lived in a house with a sliding door and Pearl worked out how to open the door.
Jonathan: Yes, but does she know how to close it?
Bonnie: No, I don’t think she cared about that if she just wanted to get into the kitchen which have the sliding door. Suddenly you’d be doing your own thing. Next thing you’d hear this door surreptitiously sliding open.
Jonathan: Yes. Our cat would open the door, he could open the sliding door. He couldn’t close it but– My Renee when we’d be in church, she learned that when they said, “Amen,” everyone left. When they say, “Amen,” she’d stand up, everybody would stand up. One time during the service, the preacher said, “Amen,” and Renee stood up, he goes, “Not yet Renee.”
Jonathan: I love to hear from you. 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 at mushroomfm.com. If you’d rather call in, use the listener my number in the United States 864-606-6736.
Recording: Mosen At Large Podcast.
[01:58:56] [END OF AUDIO]