Podcast transcript: Mosen at Large episode 186, JAWS for ARM processors available for testing, Leasey version 7 is packed with new features, and gadgets for travelling
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Jonathan Mosen: I’m Jonathan Mosen. This is Mosen At Large, the show that’s got the blind community talking. This week, a version of JAWS for Windows running ARM processors and Windows 11. Leasey Version 7 is coming, and it’s packed with incredible new features, and Bonnie and I are preparing to travel.
Mosen At Large podcast
Jonathan: Nice to be back with you. Thank you for listening. If this is your first time listening, I’m delighted to have you here. There are just so many choices, and so we appreciate our regulars and new listeners alike from around the world. A couple of little items to tell you about. One that is just breaking actually, as I produce this podcast this week, and that is that there is a pre-release version available of JAWS running 64-bit Windows 11 on ARM processors. We have definitely had listeners wanting this, requesting it, emailing in, and saying, “When is JAWS coming for ARM 64?”
I’ve emailed Freedom Scientific about this a couple of times. I believe that Glen Gordon when he’s been on about other things may have mentioned that this has been in the works. We’ve known for a while that it is coming. What I’m really pleased about is that Vispero are taking a very open approach. There’s no private beta process necessarily. There is a pre-release build of this that anyone can go to the Freedom Scientific website and grab and install if you have a compatible device. Now, it’s going to be rough and ready so don’t expect perfection.
You’ll have to supply your email address to download this build, and that’s because they really want feedback. They want to understand how this is working because this is the early stage of the process. If you’re wondering what on earth am I blithering on about this week, you may well wonder that on a regular basis, I get that, but I’ll do my best to try and explain what’s going on here. The ARM processors are a different kind of architecture. They do require some different considerations. The M1 and M2 Macs, or the new non-Intel Macs that are making people so excited are ARM-based.
There are some advantages, particularly as the world has moved to laptop computers, of going with ARM. Intel and AMD are trying to keep up and come up with attractive value propositions. The ARM processors are very efficient with energy consumption, which means that if you look at the specs of some Windows laptops out there today that are running ARM processors, you’ll see sensational specs or at least sensational promises. I’ve not used any of these to verify that they live up to their promises, but I’m sure we would be hearing all sorts of complaints if they didn’t.
Many of us appreciate the fact that when you wake up your phone from standby, so you tap the screen, or you press the button, and your lock screen pops up, it’s fast. It’s not quite that fast with an ARM processor, but it’s pretty close. If you wake your computer up from standby, things resume nice and quickly, and people do appreciate that. If you google on what is the best ARM processor Windows 11 laptop or something similar, perhaps slightly better worded, you’ll find some interesting devices. Microsoft have some. They just released quite recently, an updated surface laptop that is based on ARM.
There are some ARM ThinkPads either promised or may be out in the market already. I looked at the ThinkPads that were announced at CES back in January, and I thought, “Wow, these ARM ThinkPads look really attractive in terms of their battery life, in terms of their specs.” There’s also a new version of the laptop that I used to own, the HP Spectre Folio. It’s called something slightly different now. This is a very unique-looking laptop because it’s leather-bound. It looks pretty classy, actually. Now there’s an ARM version of that available with some pretty nice specs and battery life.
You can look at these, and it was becoming increasingly concerning. Sometimes people would buy these machines not realizing that they were ARM-based and getting into some screen reader challenges. Obviously, Narrator has been working in this space for some time, and I think there’s a way to get NVDA to work on ARM processors. This is an officially supported version of JAWS that they’re working on that is built from the ground up for ARM. Now, there are some limitations, to begin with.
If you are a Braille user and you don’t have a focus display, there’s no support for that at the moment, but further support is promised as Freedom Scientific works through the 2023 JAWS beta cycle, which I imagine is about to start. Also, if you use magnification, this is screen reading only, so, you don’t have zoom text. You don’t have a fusion product yet to test. Again, I’m sure that that is coming, but it’s very encouraging. Anything that gives us additional choice is something we should all celebrate, no matter what technology we use.
You can go into a Best Buy or whatever the equivalent is where you are and pick up a computer with an ARM processor if that suits your use case.
Although it’ll be a bit rough and ready now, we’re heading towards an official version of JAWS for ARM processors. I will put a link to the place to get this in the show notes, but if you don’t read the show notes, I’ll tell you what the link is because it’s a pretty easy one to remember, support.freedomscientific.com/downloads/arm64. That’s support.freedomscientific.com/downloads/arm64. Excellent stuff. While I am telling you news you can use, the RØDECaster Pro has had a major update. This is of particular interest if you want to make podcasts like this one, or different from this one, or better than this one. If you’re interested in podcast creation, whether you do it now, or you might want to do it in the future, the RØDECaster Pro has been a phenomenon in the podcasting industry. It’s not the most accessible of devices. I think it’s fair to say that it’s one of those devices you can get around if you memorize certain things and engage certain workarounds.
Blind people have been used to doing those things for years and years. I think it’s fair to say that we’re becoming a bit less tolerant of doing it now. RØDECaster Pro II is now out, and there are a couple of people, Neal Ewers, who many of us know very well, and Can Kirca, who’s doing some great work in this space, who have been advocating to RØDE for improved accessibility. They had some success, and like so many of these things, if you can just get one person to champion accessibility, sometimes you can get some progress.
What can happen though is before accessibility is embedded in the DNA of a company, if that person leaves, you can go back to square one again. Now, the RØDECaster Pro II has all sorts of interesting new features, and Neal and Can both have RØDECaster Pro IIs. On The Blind Podmaker feed, you will find a demonstration that Neal and Can put together of the RØDECaster Pro II. As I put this edition of Mosen at Large together, I haven’t finished listening to it yet. I’ve started listening, and it’s really good. Do feel free to subscribe to The Blind Podmaker.
Podmaker is one word in the same place that you get this podcast. The latest episode there is a demo that runs for about an hour, discussing the RØDECaster Pro II from a blindness perspective. It really does sound like quite an attractive gadget if you can put up with some of the accessibility shortfalls, Here’s an opportunity to make one of those, one of these days’ decisions. Have you often thought, “One of these days, I’m going to sit down and learn to code something.”? We could do with more blind people doing software development.
I hear that a lot of people find it easy to get started with Python.
It’s a good way to get into programming. Here is an opportunity to make that dream a reality. Cheryl Cumings is writing in, and she says, “I run a small non-profit in Boston, Massachusetts, and we are offering an introduction to Python for blind or low-vision students. There is a fee to participate, but no one is turned away. Technology is integral to our daily lives and an ever-growing field of employment for blind or low-vision students. Introduction to Python, ages 10 and older. It happens on August the 16th through to August the 19th, 2022, and it runs from 2:00 PM until 5:00 PM US Eastern time.”
Here’s the description. “This course aims to teach basic computer programming using Python as the language. It will take the learner from installing Python, learning the basic constructs, to building a hands-on project over the span of a week. No prerequisite programming knowledge is required. Just familiarity with using screen readers is expected. Classes are in-person and virtual. If you’d like more information or to register for this, you can head over to www.ourspaceourplace.org. That is all joined together. www.ourspaceourplace.org, and I will provide a detailed link right to this page in the show notes of the podcast.
If you’d prefer to call, to ask some questions, you can phone 617-459-4084. That number again is 617-459-4084. Now, information is power, clearly, and Mosen at Large is proud to be a partner of Top Tech Tidbits. This is a newsletter started a long time ago by Dean Martineau. It’s had a bit of a refactoring in recent times, and every week almost, on a Thursday at 4:00 AM Eastern time, like clockwork, this newsletter comes out, packed, packed it is with news and technology reviews, and sometimes blog posts, podcasts like this one, all relating to technology from a blindness perspective.
It’s a great way to catch up on stuff and get it in one place. If you would like to subscribe to Top Tech Tidbits, and as I say, we’re proud to be one of its partners, you can head over to toptechtidbits.com. That’s toptechtidbits.com.
Mosen At Large podcast
Jonathan: In Episode 184, we featured changes to the notification manager in JAWS, and JAWS has now released that update. I hope you’re enjoying it. It just makes such a difference to be able to streamline what you are hearing or reading on your Braille display. We have some clarifying information on this feature. “Hi, Jonathan. My name is Mohammed I’m one of the two developers who’s worked on the notification history feature in JAWS.” Congratulations and thank you Mohammed for all the work that you’ve done on this. It’s superb stuff.
He says, “In response to your excellent demonstration on the Mosen At Large podcast, a little while back, I’d like to contribute an additional note. Only one rule applies to a notification at the same time. This means that once you’ve created a rule for a notification, and you’d like to add additional behavior, when that notification comes up, you should edit your existing rule rather than create a new one. This means that if you, for example, determine that in addition to muting speech for a notification, you’d like to exclude it from the history, you should go to the Manage Rules button, and go find the original rule you’ve created.
You did this, of course, but during the demonstration, there seemed to be a little ambiguity as to whether creating an additional rule would work, which is what prompted me to send this email. Keep up the good work.” Eric suggested, “I listened to your demonstration, and I think you gained a new listener.” Thank you, Mohammed, I really appreciate that clarifying information that will help a lot of people. Of course, these days, I am reviewing these things as a user. In the FS cast days, I would have run this past you as a developer and a fellow employee, and I would have said, “Had I got this absolutely correct?”
You’d have come back to me and said, “No, Jonathan, you nit, you haven’t been clear enough about those.” I do appreciate that clarification. One rule per notification. If you want to tweak what happens when that notification comes in, just add to the one rule. Here’s Cullen writing in on something we talked about in Episode 185. He says, “Hi, Jonathan. I just wanted to give my thoughts on the COVID protocols of the NFB and ACB conventions. There is one very important aspect that was not mentioned in this week’s show. Masking. In addition to requiring everyone to present a negative COVID test, NFB is requiring everyone to wear a mask in all convention meetings and spaces.
ACB is not. From what I understand for larger meetings, such as the general sessions, ACB will have a mask-required section of the meeting room, but the rest of the room will be mask optional. I personally feel that requiring both a negative test and mask-wearing possibly makes NFB the safer option. I am so looking forward to arriving in New Orleans for the NFB convention in just over a week. It will be so great to see everyone again. As I have been saying a lot lately, it’s been a long time since Las Vegas. This will be my eighth NFB convention.
I’m very curious to see how both conventions will go. ACB is holding its convention in hybrid format, while NFB is mostly in person. I’m just glad conventions are back in person. COVID is still out there, but I do believe it is time to get back to in-person events while being as safe as possible. Thank you for an amazing podcast. I always look forward to it appearing in my Castro app each week.” Thank you, Cullen. Good to hear from you. You make a really good point about the masking. I think that that is a great decision that NFB have taken.
I still think that the more safeguards you can put in place, the better. In an ideal world, I’d like to see masking mandatory when you’re so clustered together in those meetings, and vaccination to be mandatory as well because the thing is that when somebody starts feeling symptomatic, causing them to take that COVID test, they will have had the potential to spread the virus for a wee bit before they developed the symptoms.
I think there is the real danger here that a lot of people could walk away with the rona, and so, the more measures you can put in place to mitigate that, including masking, but also ensuring that everybody is vaccinated so they’re not shedding as much viral load, then you should take all of those actions in my view. Many of us who’ve been to these conventions regularly will know that you can come home with some pretty nasty bugs. They seem to circulate through the hotel air conditioning system or you’re just at the exhibit hall in close proximity to people, and on and on it goes.
It’s pretty unpleasant when it’s just the basic cold, which is actually a form of coronavirus, of course, or some sort of fluey thing. That’s unpleasant. There are a number of positive things going on. Vaccinations are increasing. We see the variance perhaps becoming a little bit less virulent, but I have still seen people who have been fully boosted really put through the mill by COVID-19. They really take it hard. I just don’t know what the variable is, why some people seem to succumb much harder to it than others. To people who say, “Oh, it’s no more than a bad cold these days,” that’s not necessarily true for everyone.
That’s why I think we owe it to our blind brothers and sisters to do all we can to make sure that the virus doesn’t spread any more than it has to, and that if it has spread, people are vaccinated, people are masked so the effect is minimal. We’ll see how it goes. I’m wishing everybody all the very best, but you’ll love New Orleans I’m sure. I went to the 1997 NFB convention in New Orleans, and it was absolutely amazing. Had such a good time there just walking around the French Quarter listening to the bands playing, and things like that. It was a real experience.
I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. This email is from Pranav, and it says, “Hi, Jonathan. I usually catch the Mosen At Large podcast via its transcript. A huge thanks for putting these out. One, what is wrong with hot fudge sundaes? I am referring to the episode with Tyler Merren. Yes, I am kidding, but what about dark chocolate? I thought that that was not as bad as say, white chocolate. I wish there was a simple guide on this whole gallery issue. Yes, it is not a simple subject and each body is different.” Yes, Pranav, there’s plenty of data now that indicates that a square or two of dark chocolate a day has many benefits.
Similar benefits to those touted for red wine, by some people, without the side effects and the potential cancerous effects of any alcohol. There was recently some data that came out that said that you have any alcohol at all. You’re increasing your cancer risk quite significantly. A couple of squares of dark chocolate? That’s okay. It’s got all the polyphenols in it, and it’s very good for you. I go for the 85% dark chocolate. It doesn’t taste like your regular milk chocolate, but it’s all right. It’s very good for you. As for each body being different, yes, I agree with that to some extent, but I think sometimes it’s used by people to deny what they need to do in their life to get their health in order.
For example, there will be varying degrees of carb tolerance. I might be really carb sensitive, you might not, and that will have some bearing on things, but I do think there are some nutritional maxims, which just are true no matter who you are, as long as you’re human, of course. Pranav says, “I did have one question for Tyler. How does he see what his clients are doing?” I suppose it’s a very similar question to that which I asked O&M instructors who are blind.
We interviewed on The Blind Side Podcast, Deja Powell, who, I’m not sure if she’s still doing it, because I think she might be doing an administrative role now, but at the time that we interviewed Deja, she was an orientation and mobility instructor. There are blind people who do this stuff and do it very successfully. Tyler, if you’re listening, please do chime in and talk a bit more about this. “Two,” says Pravav, “I am okay with QR codes. I do have a monitor, and recently, I downgraded to a smaller monitor making those elusive QR codes easier to find. I wish we could get wide-angle cameras in all mobile phones, which will make grabbing these codes easier.
Yes, some Android phones do have them, and I think the iPhone does too, but do apps like seeing AI use the wide-angle cameras?” Yes, I believe they do. “Three, could you do a comparison between the two full-page displays on the market, namely the graffiti and the DOTPad?” Sure, if they want to send them to me, I will gladly compare them. If you want to lobby on my behalf and say you would like to hear a review, then I will gladly take receipt of them, and I’ll even send them back when the review is done because I’m good like that.
Here’s a nice long email from Tiffany Jessen who says, “Hello, Mr. Jonathan. I guess my question here could go back to FS, but as they could not answer my question once already, and I generally find the basic level of support unsatisfactory on most things, I thought I would reach out to you as a power user. I am very surprised others have not brought up the same issue. I tend to keep a lot, I mean a whole lot of windows open at one time. Sometime last year, I started to have this issue where Alt-Tab is working fine.
Then I guess I have pushed something to cause mayhem, but my Alt-Tab only shows the top two or three windows. Yes, of course. I know to hold the Alt and keep tabbing, but they are just not coming up. The only way I can get to them is with Insert-F10, which clearly shows all of them. I can close all my windows and start over, but the problem persists. The only way I can get my Alt-Tab to go back to showing all is a full reboot, which is utterly frustrating. This happens on both my work computer running Windows 10 and my other computer running Windows 11.
So far, I have had two other help desk calls where other people notice it. To be honest, most of our JAWS-using staff are functional users. They are not the type to be bouncing among many windows that often in order to notice it. I spent some time on Google, figuring out the exact right search term to use because most of them resulted in simply describing how to use Alt-Tab, but did find a few which talked about not all windows showing. I found an archive of a JAWS list, which referred to Windows 10 updates, 21 H1, and further.
Apparently, windows has a drop-down setting regarding what Alt-Tab does, but I have it configured as suggested. It is weird that it is not generally a problem until after a while. Then it is stuck doing it regardless of how few windows I continue to open. It makes me think I am provoking the problem somehow. I can’t really estimate how often it happens because sometimes I have whole days without doing paperwork, but I do often have many Windows, and it’s not only limited to one time. I will point out that I noticed it first on my Windows 11 system, which generally has a lot fewer windows open at a time.
Since it is an M1 Mac running windows virtually, it is usually using NVDA, which supports my thought of it being a Windows issue, not screen reader. I called Microsoft Accessibility Tech Support, and the man said he had never heard of any problems Alt-Tabbing, claimed it was my system, but that didn’t explain why I had it on two different computers. Not to mention the two other people. When I pointed out what the link said, their only response, that it was an archive of a JAWS list, So I should call Freedom. The fact that it refers to a Windows setting was ignored.
I gave up and called Freedom Tech Support, and the person I spoke to said they had never heard of the problem. Rather than escalate to another person down the line, they pointed me back to Microsoft to start the circle again. If this setting is the solution for most people, I believe it is Microsoft’s issue. Since it’s not resolving my issue, then I don’t really know. I am really surprised more keyboard users haven’t encountered this. Have you ever encountered/heard of this? I remember way back in the day, Freedom used to have a list of recommended Windows settings, but I think that has essentially been done with since the days of XP.”
Tiffany, I am a creature of habit, and I don’t tend to have a lot of windows open.
I close the windows quite a bit, and I find myself thinking, “Why did I close that when I’m only going to have to reopen it again?” I don’t believe that I have seen this, but I think it is important to read it and see if anyone has any solution for you. Essentially what’s happening, as I understand it, is that Tiffany can have a lot of windows open, and for a while, she can keep holding down Alt and press Tab and cycle through them. No problem. Then, all of a sudden, for no apparent reason she can fathom, Alt-Tab stops working correctly, and only a few windows can be Alt-Tabbable.
I presume that means then that when you Alt-Tab, say, after the first two or three apps that are visible, it cycles back around again if I’m understanding correctly. It’s not that you’re Alt-Tabbing and getting silence so that you don’t hear what the app is. It’s just that they don’t appear at all. Is that correct? There’s got to be some sort of taskbar setting, I would have thought, involved in this, but if anybody has any clues as to what might be happening, let’s see if we can sort this out for Tiffany.
Jonathan Mosen, Mosen At Large podcast
Jonathan: Here’s Joseph who says, “Hi, Jonathan, I’m a big fan of the show and all you do for the blindness community.” Thank you. “Writing here from New Jersey,” he says, “I recently began working with a Lenovo L13 laptop computer running JAWS with Windows 10. Insert and End are on the same key at the top right corner of the keyboard. Unfortunately, the keyboard default setting is End, so I cannot use the Insert key as the JAWS key. Do you or your listeners know any way to set that key’s default to Insert so it is always an Insert key?
I know you and your audience are quite tech-savvy, so I am hoping you can send a solution my way.” Ooh, no pressure, Joe. It’s possible that you can change it by locking the FN key in place. If the toggle occurs, when you hold down the FN key and press the key, then you may be able to toggle the FN lock. How you do that does vary from machine to machine. You could google on toggling the FN lock, and if that’s possible, you should easily find the solution. Lenovo Tech Support may be able to help you with that as well. If you hold the FN key down, and that gives you Insert, see if there’s a way of locking that FN key in that state.
There probably is. I think the easiest solution would be to just give up on the Insert key as your JAWS key altogether. If you switch JAWS to Laptop Layout, you can use the Caps Lock key as your JAWS key, and it’s far more convenient. I actually use Laptop Layout on every computer on which I use JAWS because you don’t take your hands off the Home Row.
I know Eric Damery has been doing this for years as well. Once you get into Laptop Layout, you can use it anywhere. Even if you have a desktop with a full number pad, switch to Laptop Layout anyway because you’ve lost absolutely nothing.
You can still use that number pad and all the desktop commands, but you’ve also got the benefit of keeping your hands on the Home Row. Get familiar with the Laptop Layout and you will find life is peachy, peachy I tell you. Afik is writing in from Israel. He says, “I am so angry. Here is the story. I’m studying law in the College of Law and Business here in Israel. It’s hybrid studies. All lessons are broadcast live on Zoom, as well as the tests made with software called Tomax.” I imagine that’s how it’s pronounced. It’s spelled T-O-M-A-X. “This software isn’t accessible to screen readers of any kind.
Since it’s closing all apps in the background, once you’ve pressed Enter to start the test, including the screen reader. I’ve known this since November, and I’ve been fighting with the Dean of Students to find me a solution where I can do tests from home like everyone else. She suggested Scribers.” I presume she’s talking about scribes, like in the manual instance? “Yes, you are reading right, Scribers in 2022. In January, she suggested to me to get a Word document of the tests and do it physically in the college. Again, not like anyone else.
I also have CP, that’s cerebral palsy, in my left hand and foot, so I have problems with position while walking. I need assistance to any new place. In February, I submitted a lawsuit against the college, but the discussion is just starting in September. Since I don’t want to do the courses again, I’ve started to go to the college to do the remaining tests for the first and second trimester. To my surprise, I’ve got the test file in a Word document by email and a woman watches me via Zoom. A man was with me in the room, but he just looked at my Braille display and gets very enthusiastic.
Why, if I’m getting the Word file by email and a woman watches me via Zoom, do I need to go a long way from home in the south of Israel to the college in the center while everyone else is doing the test from their own homes? What do your listeners think about this?” Afik, I think you are experiencing discrimination plain and simple. I wonder whether anybody else because we do have a number of students listening from around the world, has experienced the software that you mention. Maybe it’s Israeli software that just isn’t being used in jurisdictions where you can’t use this kind of software that discriminates.
In some jurisdictions, it would be illegal to procure software like that. Maybe it is local Israeli software. I get the logic about making sure that people aren’t cheating, but obviously, if it’s causing your screen reader not to run, then that is an absolutely critical deal. You would think that there could be technology introduced that recognizes a screen reader and differentiates that from everything else. It really sounds like you are getting a very rough deal there. I think there’s no doubt you have a very strong case. I don’t know anything about what anti-discrimination law exists in Israel, but if you’ve already filed a suit, then obviously there is some.
All I can say is I wish you the very best of luck. You are on very strong ground as far as I can tell. At least in the interim, you would think, as you have said, that if they’ve given you the Word file now, and somebody is watching you on Zoom to make sure that you’re not doing anything untoward, why can’t you do it from home and have them watch you on Zoom? Here’s a very interesting question from Brian Giles, and I hope this provokes some discussion.
He says, “Hi, Jonathan. I’ve been listening to the show and figured I’d throw out a question. How do people learn and get good at audio production?
I’ve wanted to dabble in it for a while, but find it really overwhelming. Hope this makes sense, and that you or someone might have some advice to pass along. Count me in,” says Brian, “With the camps who is chomping at the bit to finally have eloquence on their iPhone, the public beta of iOS 16 will make a nice late birthday present next month.” Happy birthday for later next month, Brian. This is a good question. I think that the way I would handle that is, first of all, decide what piece of software you want to use for your audio production because you’re going to have to learn the mechanics.
How do you make a recording? How do you save a recording? How do you do basic editing? The one thing I would say about that is that it may be tempting to go with a single-track recorder because it’s easier. Something like Sound Forge, or GoldWave, or Studio Recorder. What I would say, though, is that you will probably evolve in your audio production wants, to a point where a multi-track environment really could be good. The thing is that if you get there, then you’ll probably have to unlearn some behaviors, at least, in order to adopt a multi-track digital audio workstation.
What I would be inclined to do, especially with Reaper so accessible now, and so cost-effective is just go with Reaper from the get-go. Brian Hartgen does a fantastic course called Reaping the Benefits that does a good job of introducing you to Reaper for spoken word recording. I would recommend getting into that. The other good thing about Reaper is that there’s a very active community that has an email list and a WhatsApp group if you’re into that and various other ways of getting in touch with other users who will answer questions, and give you hints and tips.
There’s the mechanics of actually learning a tool. You’ve got to pick your tool, and then at least know the basics. Once you’ve done that, I don’t think there’s any substitute for practice. If you’ve understood and internalized the building blocks of whatever digital audio workstation you use, how to chop a bit of audio out of the middle, how to move a bit of audio from one place to another, how to insert something, if you’ve recorded a little bit of Talky, and you go back, and you think, “Actually, I need to insert this sentence here, how do I do that?”
Once you know the answers to those questions, it’s really just a case of practicing. Find things to record. If you want to get into podcasting, then make a podcast episode or two. You may not necessarily want to publish the first two or three until you’re at a point where you feel, “Okay, this is listenable. I’m now hearing, on my speakers, or in my headphones, what I had in my head.” That’s the key. If you can hear something in your head, and then you can emulate that thing in your head, in actual real recording, then you know you are making progress.
Nothing substitutes for just playing with it, and continually using it, until you get to a point where you’re comfortable. For many years, I used Sound Forge. I kept Sound Forge around for quite a long time, but then I migrated so that my primary editor was Studio Recorder. Eventually, I switched to Reaper, and that was a big change because I was working in a multi-track environment. There are a lot of keystrokes with Reaper, the concepts are different in Reaper, and so it cost me productivity in the short term. I really had to think, “How do I get the same sort of effect that I could get in Studio Recorder or Sound Forge, in a Reaper environment?”
I’d have to think about it. Actually the same was true when I used Amadeus on the Mac, but eventually, if you just keep persisting with it, if you know why you’re doing this, why you’ve chosen the tool you have, even if it takes you a bit longer initially, you know that in the long term you’ll be better off sticking with the course of action that you’ve taken. That’s the approach that I took with Reaper. It really did slow me down, it took me a lot longer to produce things for a while, but now Reaper is just absolute muscle memory in terms of all of the things that I do to produce this podcast every week.
Others may have some thoughts, but I hope that’s of help. I do recommend Reaper. I think it’s a wonderful tool.
Mosen At Large podcast
Jonathan: Asking the questions you aren’t answered maybe. It’s Gary G in South Africa. He says, “I’d like to find out how to put a whole lot of hyperlinks in an Excel spreadsheet. I already have the names of the files and path in a .TXT file, and I can insert a hyperlink file by file from Excel, but it will take forever. I’m looking for an easy way or some formula to do everything quickly. I know it can be done with a mouse, but obviously, I need the keyboard shortcuts and a method.” Thanks, Gary. This is not something that I’ve had to do. I do insert hyperlinks into Excel, but obviously, you’re wanting to do them on mass as it were.
I wonder whether the secret might be to put those hyperlinks in a CSV, a comma-separated value file, open them, and then save them as an Excel file, and then do your massaging as required there. There may be another way, and maybe some Excel guru can comment on how this is done. There are so many amazing tips and tricks on Excel. Hopefully, somebody can help you out. The other suggestion I would make is that hopefully, you have access to the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk. I speak highly of them. I think they’re doing a fantastic job.
When I’ve had to call them, they really have been very helpful. They’re knowledgeable. This is one that you could perhaps run by them, and see if they can assist you to do this in a screen reader-friendly way. However, maybe the Mosen At Large audience can provide some assistance. Gary is obviously super into Excel at the moment because subsequently before I had the chance to read this on the podcast, he’s sent in another question that has its roots in Excel. He says, “Do you know of an accessible file renaming program where I can rename multiple files?
I have a lot of files with brackets and dashes that don’t work with Excel hyperlinks. Excel obviously sees it as some sort of formula. To change the paths in the row that the hyperlink refers to is easy in Excel, but I need something to change the actual file names on the hard drive. I want to keep the names, just take out the brackets and the dashes. I don’t want to sit with about 10,000 files and do it manually.” Dude, what are you up to Gary? “Please let me know,” he says.
Tom: Hey there, Tom from Cleveland, Ohio, again. You and Tripp Mickle talked about the stall in the advent of autonomous vehicles. In your honest opinion, have you given up hope for that as a visually impaired person? I’d like to think I haven’t, but reality tells me otherwise. I almost think that the time to have started on that would have been in the ’80s and ’90s when the old bulky Motorola bag phones and flip phones came out
Jonathan: Tom, no. I guess I’m an optimistic person by nature. I haven’t given up hope that we will see autonomous vehicles in my lifetime that a blind person can use. What I find interesting is that there is a huge variation in terms of people’s perceptions of how far we have to go. I think the problem is more complex than some people originally thought. It’s possible that we have some sort of hybrid, if I might use that expression, model, where you can use autonomous vehicles in certain locations, in certain cities. That they will be approved for people to own and use in certain areas.
I don’t know how you enforce that, but it’s a challenging problem. I don’t think people will give up on it. I think we will eventually get there. I think we should be a little cautious about giving timeframes though. As for starting earlier, we just didn’t have the computing power to start any earlier than we did. The computing power, in terms of making all of the calculations, in terms of looking at your environment, making a series of intelligent decisions, that takes significant computing power. I think things are unfolding as they should.
They’re not unfolding as fast as we would like, but we’ll keep tabs on this and see what people’s perceptions are.
I know that Tripp was pretty downbeat about the whole autonomous vehicle industry, but if you remember, we were talking to the founder of Biped a little bit earlier in the year, and he’s been involved directly in the autonomous vehicle manufacturing business, and he was much more upbeat. We just have to see where it goes. Keep hope alive, as they say. Collins is writing in. He says, “I’m writing to you from Ghana in West Africa.” I’ve heard of Ghana, Collins because that’s where Kofi Annan comes from, isn’t it? “I have been a listener of your podcast since June last year after it was introduced to me by an acquaintance on social media, and I must confess it has greatly improved my life.
I usually look forward to it every week. I was also fortunate to have attended the career launch program organized by the Perkins School for the Blind about two months ago, of which you were the guest speaker. We in the visually impaired community have a lot to thank you for.” Thank you so much, Collins. “I do not own an iPhone, but I use an Android phone from Samsung. I am also fortunate to own a Windows 10 computer installed with NVDA. I do not own a Braille display because this is Africa. Anyway, enough of me and my asset declaration.
In one of the previous episodes, you talked about the avoid speech cutoff feature in JAWS. I do not know whether you have talked about the NVDA equivalent of that feature. I am writing to inform listeners who might be wondering what to do about it. You see, the same feature is possible on NVDA if you know where to get it. It is an add-on on the NVDA community add-ons webpage, which, as many people already know, can be accessed by pressing the NVDA key, down arrowing to Tools, expanding the sub menu, down arrowing to Manage Add-ons, Pressing Enter, and then pressing Alt plus G.
Once you get onto the page, you search for an add-on called Bluetooth Audio. All you have to do is download and install it, and then go to the NVDA settings and preferences. Once you land on that interface, you should down arrow or first letter navigate to Bluetooth Audio, and then press the Tab key. You’ll immediately encounter an edit field in which you are asked to type the stand-by time in seconds. In my case, I entered 86,400, as I do not think my computer needs to be kept on for more than that time, after typing in your standby time tab to the Apply or Okay button and press Enter, you are good to go.
I know this is probably not new to many people, especially those who regularly visit the add-ons page, but I hope this helps someone.” “Good evening,” says Jason, “Great job with the podcast and keep after everyone to write Braille with a capital B.” You bet, Jason. “I am having a strange issue with the NVDA website. Usually, you go to nvaccess.org and everything is right there. I have tried visiting the site for several weeks and getting an error message saying that the page cannot be found or might have been changed. I have tried Chrome, MS Edge, and even the iPad with Safari.
Any information would be really appreciated. I really love that screen reader and hope they haven’t bellied up with COVID at all.” Jason, I think you may have some sort of DNS problem going on there because when I go to nvaccess.org, I just did that, it did pop right up. What I think would be interesting is if you turn your Wi-Fi off, if you have a smartphone, and you go to the website on your cellular connection, does it work then? My hunch is it probably does. If that’s the case, there’s some sort of funky DNS issue going on there, and you may need to contact your provider about that.
I do see this very rarely where a group of people or an individual just can’t get to a website because of some sort of bizarre DNS configuration issue. I hope you can get that sorted.
Mosen At Large podcast
Jonathan: It doesn’t seem like that long ago that we talked about Leasey. For those who are new to the podcast, we will explain what Leasey is in just a moment, but it’s of particular interest to those who use JAWS. Normally, I wouldn’t have Brian back quite so quickly, although he’s always welcome, of course, but there’s just so much new to tell you in this latest version of Leasey, that it would be remiss of me if we didn’t have Brian to talk about all these new features. Brian Hartgen from Hartgen Consultancy, welcome back.
Brian Hartgen: Thank you very much indeed. Yes, it doesn’t seem like five minutes ago, does it?
Jonathan: No, but there’s a lot that’s gone on, and we get new listeners all the time. Sometimes I get told off for not taking people with us, so just give us a brief recap about what Leasey is, and why people might want it.
Brian: There are two flavors or two releases of Leasey if you like. There is the version for complete computer beginners, for people who are just starting out with their computer for the first time, and we all remember those days. That is a system which presents a list of common tasks that you might want to do on a computer. It is human narrated. It’s a structured menu system, and it contains items such as Create a Document, Work With Your Email, Browse the Internet, that sort of thing. It is a stepping stone to introducing the newly blind person to the concept of synthetic speech.
They’re going to have to get there eventually, but there’s nothing like a helping hand. That’s what Leasey Basic does. It’s truthful to say that the vast majority of people buy Leasey for what we call Leasey Advanced. These would be intermediate to advanced JAWS users because it contains a lot of tools, utilities, and services built into it, which not only make more applications accessible, and we’re going to talk about at least one of those a little bit later on, but also, it improves efficiency. It gives you a lot of tools to make your computing tasks on a day-to-day basis, a lot easier and quicker.
Jonathan: There’s no question that Leasey has improved my productivity immeasurably. Do you feel any qualms or concerns that there might be situations where people can use Leasey on one device, perhaps a home device or something like that, and really get familiar with the way it works and how efficient it is, and then their grumpy system admin won’t let them install it on their work machine because it was bad enough trying to get JAWS installed, and they really are very conservative about what they put on their system? I suppose there is that danger that you become dependent on the efficiency of Leasey.
Brian: I am sad about that, that that sometimes happens. Fortunately, for quite a number of places of employment, I have been able to advocate on behalf of the blind person and to be able to work with various IT systems administrators, and so on, to try and get them to work with Leasey and to get it installed. It would be really nice if maybe people who are interfacing with potential employers could actually advocate the benefits of Leasey as well. I’m only one person, I have to do pretty much everything. Don’t get the violins out, but I do have to pretty much do everything.
Sometimes I don’t have the time to do as much advocacy on this kind of point as I would like, but yes, I understand completely what you mean.
Jonathan: There is so much expected of blind employees. We do need to get under the hood a bit more than your average computer user, a lot of the time to make things go. Then we’re expected to be super self-advocates as well when situations like this happen, and hopefully, the passion with which people appreciate Leasey and the amount of productivity tools it offers, shines through. Even if you don’t consider yourself a very good self-advocate, and you can convince whoever needs to be convinced, that you would just be so much more productive on the job with it installed.
I think that that’s the case. Probably the best way to illustrate that is to just start going through some of these new features that you’ve put in this latest release of Leasey. Is it out yet by the way, or is it still coming out?
Brian: It is still coming out, so we are almost there. We are in touching distance of being able to give this to people. What you’ll hear, I don’t expect a change between this and the final release. What I’ve just got to do is to do things like get the DAISY documentation completed, and that sort of thing because people are still expecting to have that as each version goes by. We really are close. The documentation is written, but it’s just a question of getting it into its various formats.
Jonathan: This time I have actually been using the release that’s about to hit the streets, and so I may be able to offer some comments as we go through. Where would you like to start us off in this very feature-packed release?
Brian: I thought we would start with Leasey Search because there are quite a number of tools, and we can bracket them together a little bit. Earlier on, this week, I actually hosted a webinar to members of the general public. A lot of Leasey users and some not. I was saying that the feature of Leasey Search is a little bit like the JAWS Research It tool if ever people have used that. It allows you to bypass some of the clutter that does appear on some websites, and you can get search results from various sources much more quickly. We’ve had Leasey Search in some form or other since the very beginning.
Typically, with one exception, I think, which is our weather app, we have essentially taken you to the webpage in question. Let’s take Google as an example. It was very convenient. Lots of people are using it, but you would type in a search term in Google, and it would just take you to the webpage of results that matched your search criteria. For a long time, I’ve wanted to do something about this, to clean it up quite a lot. We have a number of tools now, which present the search results in a list box, but they do a lot more than that. They actually give you very pertinent information about what it is that you’re searching for.
The ones that have changed in this version are Google, DuckDuckGo, Amazon, and eBay, which I thought we’d perhaps have a look at in a moment. Some new ones have been added as well. We’ll get to one or two of those and explain what they are in more detail. Perhaps as an illustrative point, I should demonstrate one of them. I thought what we would do is we would go to eBay and we would see if we can get any cheap ABBA Voyage tickets.
Jonathan: God, that would be very upsetting, having just paid for them.
Brian: We will see, won’t we? You can buy anything on eBay, can’t you?
Brian: I thought we would try it, so I’m going to go into Leasey Search now.
Eloquence: Leasey Search Online Dialogue. List one list view,
Brian: I’m going to press E for eBay and press Enter.
Eloquence: eBay. Search eBay dialogue. Please type what you would like to search for on eBay. Then press Enter. Type the word, Remove, to remove the default country or for recent searches.
Brian: There’s quite a bit of instructional material there, but we can set a default country for some of these utilities that we’re going to be talking about. I don’t think I’ve done that in this particular JAWS version that I’m using. It’s asking what I want to search for. I’m going to type ABBA Voyage tickets, and press Enter.
Eloquence: List of countries’ dialogue. List one list view, Australia.
Brian: Now, these are some countries that we have decided to go with as the first run that obviously have eBay stores associated with them. I’m going to type U for United Kingdom and press Enter.
Eloquence: United Kingdom. Please wait. List of eBay results dialogue. List, one list new, ABBA Voyage tickets, 4th July 2nd tickets, £80 pounds. Buy it now.
Brian: We have got one there, but that’s not a particularly good example for what I want to talk about, so I’ll just narrow it down.
Eloquence: ABBA Voyage tickets X2, £120 pounds, our best offer, plus £0.95 postage.
Brian: The information that you get from one item to another does vary according to the status of the items. A lot of eBay is about auctions. If an item is up for auction, then Leasey is going to tell you, of course, the name of the item, how much it’s going to be, what additional shipping charges there might be. Also, the fact that the item is up for auction, how many days and hours remain as part of the bidding process, and whether there’s been any bidding so far, how many bids there have been. That doesn’t happen with all items, but it does happen with some of them.
The idea with these lists that we’ve got in Leasey Search for all these different sources is that they give you an overview as to what is available. If you want to access more details as to the item in question, you can just press Enter, and you’ll go to the web page for that particular item. You can sign in with eBay if you’re not already signed in, or with Amazon, wherever it may be. In that case, you can buy the item if that’s what you want to do.
Jonathan: Yes, it’s so much less cluttered. I have started using this quite a lot since the list boxes came along, and it just saves so much time compared to going to a webpage that could have a lot of information, not necessarily structured in the most efficient way. If you get lucky with something like Google, it’s not so bad because each search result is its own heading. Although increasingly, you do have to navigate past a lot of junk that Google is trying to promote at the top of the page. This is just a huge efficiency saver. When you consider the amount of time that you might save over even a single day using this, it’s quite extraordinary.
Brian: We hope so. Amazon is a particularly good one, and it took me a while to get this right because, again, there’s a lot of information that you might potentially want to know, not only the title of the product and the price, but also the format of it, whether it’s an audiobook, or a DVD, or a CD. You want to know when you’re going to get the product. That was more challenging than anyone could realize based upon the different countries. As much information in a concise format is what I’m trying to give people with this kind of thing.
Jonathan: Very good, You’ve added quite a few new options in Leasey Search this time around.
Brian: Yes, that’s right. I’ve mentioned some of them already. Oh, YouTube is another one where we give useful information there. We’ve got recipes as well.
Jonathan: Yes, I’ve got a bone to pick with you about this recipe thing in Leasey Search.
Brian: You have?
Jonathan: Yes. That is that I use this recipe search thing, and I can barely bring myself to say, I typed in soup, and it actually came back with some results.
Brian: Oh, goodness gracious.
Jonathan: That’s outrageous, yes.
Brian: We should have filtered those out, shouldn’t we?
Jonathan: You should have.
Jonathan: How does the recipe database work? A lot of people are into cooking. Where is that all coming from?
Brian: That’s coming from Google’s recipe database, which literally has millions of recipes on there. You can type in what you want, and, honestly, it will find just about anything. If you put in dog food, you’re going to get a recipe in terms of how to make it.
Jonathan: It’s better than soup.
Brian: It could be.
Brian: What we give you is a few results, and there’s, obviously, the title of the recipe, what it’s found if it’s matched your search criteria, a rating out of five stars. Then it will give you an approximate time as to how long it would take you to prepare that food and some ingredients that you might need in order to do it. Of course, you can press Enter on any one of the items to go to the recipe itself. Now, just below the recipes, what I’ve done is to include a number of videos from various sources that the web may have found that match the search as well because a lot of people like to listen to or watch people cooking the food as well.
Even if you can’t do it yourself, there’s a certain amount of pleasure to be gained, I think, by watching people do cooking. I’ve included some of those as well, just a small handful so that you get the idea. I give you, again, the title of the video itself, and also the length of the video, so that you can get an idea as to whether you want to watch it or not.
Jonathan: One of the things that really demonstrates the attention to detail in Leasey is the fact that if you are taken somewhere like a specific result that you’ve investigated, there is a very easy way to go back to that list of search results again. You don’t have to type it in again, even though you are effectively invoking Leasey Search once more. There’s a lot of detail in the product like that.
Brian: I’m glad you’ve raised that, and thank you for that. What you do is you press what we call the Leasey Key, and then the Alt-left arrow. It’s like going back a web page. That’s what we were thinking. It goes back to the list that you’ve just used, and it puts you in the same place where you were in that list, not at the top. The other thing that it does as well is as you’re moving through the list, it will play a sound to indicate that you have visited that particular website before.
Now, that wasn’t my idea. That’s why we have a beta testing team because that idea came from one of our beta testers, Neal Ewers. He really wanted to know the sites that he’d visited before. I’ve never heard of that in a list box before, but I thought it was a great idea that he’d had there. A lot of our beta testers, they do come up with some great ways of enhancing the ideas perhaps that I originally come up with. I’m very grateful for that.
The next thing perhaps that I wanted to talk about was some of the other things which are in Leasey Search. We have two-time conversion utilities now. The first one allows you to find the current time in any location. That’s very flexible actually, in terms of how you can input the destination that you want for the local time in that particular region. You can type the place names out in full, but particularly in America, a lot of people like to use abbreviations, and zip codes, things like that because obviously, it’s quicker to do it, and you can put those in as well. That is the first utility of those.
Also, more interestingly, perhaps, you can actually specify a specific date as to when the time conversion should take place. It can be between two completely different locations. You don’t have to be in one of them, it can be two locations of your choosing on that date and at that time, and it will come back with what the local time will be after the conversion has been done. If you’ve got a meeting that’s being hosted in New Zealand, for example, next Wednesday, and you want to find out how that equates to your local time, you ought to be able to do it very easily I think with this.
The next item that we have is an item that will give you the holidays, public and religious holidays, from any week, any month, any year from 2001 onward, so into the future, in over 200 countries. This has a kind of educational value as well, but obviously, particularly if you’re in employment, you might want to know when you’re going to get holidays. You can actually look this up, you can specify any one of those parameters, a particular month, a particular year, and so on. You can tell it which country you want and it will come back with a list of holidays in that period. After our webinar earlier on in the week, people seem to be quite keen on that one.
Jonathan: Well, actually, if you’re scheduling a meeting on a Monday or a Friday internationally, you’re somebody who does international business, it doesn’t do any harm to just check whether it might be a holiday in the place that you’re scheduling the meeting with.
Brian: I completely understand about that because it’s happened to me quite a number of times, that has. We have a temperature conversion tool so you can convert between Celsius and Fahrenheit and vice versa. We have a calculator, a full scientific calculator in there.
Jonathan: What value does that add over the Windows calculator?
Brian: Well, people seem to have taken a bit of a dislike, a gentle dislike to the Windows calculator. I guess this is just a bit more friendly, in a way. It’s obviously very accessible. It presents the results in the virtual viewer. I think one of the things is that you can ask this thing questions. If you actually are not particularly fond of doing raw calculations, you can actually type into this. What is the square root of 240? You can actually type that out in words if you want to, or what is 10% of 5,000? Something like that.
You can even type scientific expressions in there if you want to if you really want to get that sophisticated, and it’s going to come back with an answer. The other good thing is that if the answer is to more than two decimal places, we will show you the full result, but we’ll also round it to the two decimal places value as well because that came up in the beta testing, people seem to like that.
We’ve also got a dictionary in there. We have had a dictionary for some time which, again, took you to a particular website, that’s the Oxford Dictionary. Again, this is using API technology, as all the tools that I’ve been talking about today. It’s a lot more robust, a lot more stable. This dictionary will just bring back a possible pronunciation in syllables in terms of how you would pronounce the word. Obviously, the word definition itself that you type in.
It will give you words that sound similar to those that you have typed in, and those words which have a similar meaning to those which you’ve typed in as well. It gives you quite a few things there. I think that’s all the items in Leasey search, I think I’ve about covered it.
Jonathan: That’s fantastic. It’s just such a great user interface as well. Having those lists is good because you can also if you know roughly what you’re looking for, use first letter navigation, correct? If you, for example, search for melatonin, which quite a lot of blind people are doing and you have one particular brand of melatonin, and you know the brand’s name, once that list has come up, you can type its first letter to try and get to it.
Brian: Yes, you definitely can. Yes. I must point out obviously that when you go to a particular website, such as a product page on Amazon, you do have to have web skills, of course, in order to buy the item, but it’s at least getting you past that first step and getting you to the product that you actually need, and then you can work with the individual website to buy it.
Jonathan: I presume that it would be pretty unlikely that that would ever change. Do you ever envisage a time that it might be possible on a site like Amazon to somehow do the whole transaction through a more accessible, streamlined user experience?
Brian: I’ve actually half done it, to be honest, but I didn’t want to do it this time. A, because there has to come a point when you stop developing these features and let people have it. Also, I wondered, actually, whether that was the right thing to do because a lot of us are very used to buying products on the web. We don’t even use the accessible version of the Amazon site. Some of us– I can, for example, buy a product once I’m on the page in less than half a minute. I did wonder whether it was the right thing to do but certainly, I could make at least the initial part of the purchase much more accessible and less cluttered. Perhaps that’s something for the future, but it’s certainly code that I’ve already developed.
Jonathan: It will be interesting to hear listener feedback on this because you and I don’t particularly have any difficulty on a website that’s well constructed, but it does seem to me that a lot of blind people understand the promise of this technology, but get very frustrated by the execution of the promise.
Brian: Yes, that is right. I wouldn’t want to go the whole way, so to speak, I would want people to actually undertake their transaction by credit card, of course. You’d have to do that on the Amazon website itself, but I could certainly get you most of the way.
Jonathan: Interesting. Where are we going next?
Brian: Where next? I think we’ll go to something which I have never seen JAWS scripts for in the past. I thought that we would give it a go this time. This is a set of JAWS scripts for WhatsApp built into Leasey. This is the WhatsApp messaging service. I was very reluctant to take this on, to begin with, because the actual process of getting WhatsApp on your computer, this is the WhatsApp desktop client, is not to my mind accessible at all.
The process is that you have to scan a QR code from your computer into the phone itself. The phone takes a picture of the QR code, which is on the computer screen. That allows you access to your WhatsApp account. It’s a linking process, but it’s a question of actually getting the phone lined up so that the camera can take the picture, and so on. It’s a little bit of trial and error. I’m just a little bit fearful that some people won’t be able to do it without sighted assistance.
Once you’re over that hurdle, then what I hope that I’ve created is a very similar experience to the old MSN Messenger if people use that. You have your list of conversations. You have the messages in those conversations. I’ve created so many keystrokes in order to move to different parts of the screen and to move between the different conversations. This thing is not just a messaging client, you can make calls with it, you can send voice messages with it, which do not seem to be limited in terms of time, which is really interesting. People have recorded entire church services with this and sent them with WhatsApp Messenger. There doesn’t seem to be much of a limit. I’ve created that.
Also the ability to hear messages as they arrive when you are in the conversation window and a typing indicator sound which plays out as and when someone is typing. The thing I quite like about this, if I can say so, is that when someone is typing and then they stop, Leasey will stop playing the typing indicator sound. Leasey won’t say anything after that point, but at least you know, that person has stopped, they might have had to go away and do something else or they might be thinking about what they wanted to say.
Then when that person picks up the typing again, then the typing indicator sound will start up again and we have the same sound to play out when someone is recording a voice message as well, which you can also do. Of course, when the message does arrive, then Leasey will instruct JAWS to read that out to you. You can review messages. If you want to go back through the last 10 messages, for example, or indeed capture them all in the virtual viewer, you can do that.
There are just so many accessibility improvements, and also Braille. The access to it has been quite a part of the development of the WhatsApp script, particularly how the various controls are displayed in Braille and the fact that you can write in contracted Braille as well, not just computer Braille, into WhatsApp.
Jonathan: The contrast between using WhatsApp with Leasey and using it without is just extraordinary. It’s a great job that you’ve done with this, but the other thing too is that WhatsApp is huge, not so much in the United States. It’s not to say there aren’t people in the United States who use it, but certainly in other countries, the market share that WhatsApp has is massive because it is cross-platform. Actually, the quality of the voice messages is pretty good.
What occurred to me was when I was having a look at this, this creates the same experience that Mac users take for granted, where they have an iMessage client on the Mac, which obviously mirrors their phone. If you choose to use WhatsApp on your phone and your PC, then now you can do this seamlessly and elegantly. Of course, there are a lot of blindness-related voice chat groups that use WhatsApp.
The one reason that I don’t participate in those is because it requires you to disclose your phone number to the group and I’m just not going to do that, but other people don’t care and that’s fine. There’s a lot of it about as they say. I think this is going to be quite a game-changer. Of course, the other thing too for people like you and me is that you can send some very nice audio if you’ve got an audio interface with a good microphone connected to it and WhatsApp on your computer.
Brian: Yes, that’s right. Surprising how good it is. I’m glad you brought up about the phone number because one of the accessibility improvements that I have made and this, again, was a request of one of our beta testers. He uses WhatsApp. He works in the medical profession and a lot of his patients actually do use WhatsApp. They obviously sent him details of their profile and he has to get the phone number in order to put that in his patient records so that he can keep notes of it. That was just one of the things that wasn’t particularly accessible. There were a few little areas in the WhatsApp application, which really did cause me one or two sleepless nights, but that is one of the things that you can do as well.
Jonathan: I just hope that you are not going to get bombarded by people who expect you to support the fact that they’re having difficulty scanning the QR code because, really, there’s nothing you can do about that.
Brian: There is nothing I can do about it. I have made it very clear in the documentation that I’m absolutely not going to do that. That is not something that I can help with at all. A person will just have to get visual assistance if they couldn’t do it themselves. Once I got into this, because I knew absolutely nothing about WhatsApp before I started this, I’d never used it, but you can do it. If you need to do it on a number of different machines as I’ve done, then it’s surprising how quick it does come to you.
Jonathan: Actually, I’ve used WhatsApp for years, but I just recently got a WhatsApp client for my apple watch as well. It’s everywhere, I tell you. That’s very nice and I’m actually tempted to move. I guess the majority of the serious communication I do via messaging takes place with iMessage, but because it’s just sitting here and so accessible on my computer, I’m seriously thinking of weaning people off iMessage.
Brian: Well, give it a go because we can only improve. This is the first run at it. We can only move forward. I’ve got to say as well that the WhatsApp organization, I think it’s Facebook who own it now.
Brian: [chuckles] They have an accessibility team down there and I have been talking to them and they are making changes that I’m asking for, as to improve the accessibility of it. They are receptive to accessibility request.
Jonathan: That is really fantastic to hear because we all know that sometimes it’s hard to break through in those larger companies. Full credit to them for that.
Brian: Should we move on to something else which I’ve got highlighted here, and this is Help. Now, we’ve spent a lot of time changing the way that the Leasey Help System works. I’ve always, in the past, tried to provide a lot of documentation and audio material in order to help people learn how to use the product. We have had a hotkey help facility, which people have been able to use. It’s been in the form of a list box. Each category has its own list.
You’ve got about 48 different categories of help that you can go through. That’s how much Leasey actually does in different areas. I’ve changed that now. It’s all displayed in the virtual viewer. You are able to move through it line by line or word by word. Now, that’s nothing startling. It’s just a design change, but we’ve introduced some other things into help.
You can now search it. It’s a very simple method of being able to search the hotkey, Help. All you do is you press what we call the Leasey key, which is the grave accent key on the keyboard, then shift H. You type in what you want to search for, you press enter, and the results are pretty much instant. There’s a lot of flexibility in this search. You can type in pretty much any keyword that you’re looking for, hopefully, and it will come back with a result.
Leasey has the ability, for example, to play chime sounds every quarter of an hour, Westminster chime sounds, things like that. If you want to know the keystroke to turn those on and off or to set them up, you could just type the word chime, and you’re going to get all the keystrokes relating to chime sounds. We have a keystroke to copy the email address to the clipboard from a message from within Microsoft Outlook. If you can’t remember what that is, you just type, for example, email address and it’s going to come up with that.
Now, the other thing that the search does is it tells you whether the keystroke can be used either globally or from within a specific application. In that latter example, it would say outlook after the keystroke itself. That gives you an idea as to when you can use the keystroke.
Jonathan: It sounds really similar to the insert space and J function in JAWS.
Brian: It is.
Jonathan: You’re going to tell me it’s better.
Brian: Well, that’s not for me to say but I think it’s easier for people who are not so au fait with computers to use because with that particular system, insert space then J, you have to know about forms mode to begin with because it comes in and out of forms mode. You have to know about that. Then it often comes back with a lot of items perhaps that you don’t want. What we’re trying to do is really make it so that you only get what you want with this. I’ll demonstrate it for you. Let’s just–
Eloquence: Search help dialogue. Please type the details of what you would like to find, then press enter. If searching for a keystroke, type it as a word, such as control plus shift plus Y. Please type the-
Brian: I’m going to type chime in here, which was my example of earlier on. I’ll press enter.
Eloquence: Customized chimes, alt plus control plus Windows plus F9 global.
Brian: You heard the first keystroke. Now, in our virtual viewer-based facilities, we don’t read out the whole screen from top to bottom because it’s just too much and you’d never want to listen to a list of keystrokes like that because it’s often too much to digest. We only read out the first line, and if you want more of them, you can just press down arrow.
Eloquence: Increase the volume of chimes, alt plus control plus Windows plus up arrow global
Brian: And so on. Now, at the bottom of each search results list-
Eloquence: Press escape to close this window.
Brian: -we have the obligatory “Press escape to close this window,” but just above it-
Eloquence: Blank. Link read to Leasey help documentation.
Brian: -we have a link to read the Leasey help documentation, which has also been redesigned. If I press enter, what would’ve happened in the past is that you would’ve gone into this huge HTML document with about 500 headings in. I’m going to press enter now.
Eloquence: List of documentation sections dialogue. List one, list view introduction.
Brian: Now, I’ve got a list of topics. There’s about 50 of them. If I move down each chapter of the help documentation, has its own section in this list, you can just arrow down to the one that you want, and you press Enter. What’s going to happen is it’s going to bring up an HTML rendering of that topic in the JAWS results viewer, and that is full HTML. You can leave that open if you want to in the background while you’re working in other applications. Perhaps, working through some of the tasks that we’re talking about within the Leasey documentation and you can always opt to tap back to it afterwards, in order to pick up the instructions.
Jonathan: Is that enormous HTML document still available for those who want to reference that?
Brian: Yes, it definitely is. You can still get to that from hotkey help, and it will be on the website as well. There will be a DAISY text version and an RTF version. All those formats are apparently required in order for people to enjoy reading the Help information. We have to do that. Yes, the Help has been completely redesigned, but that brings us on to another idea that I had, again, that I wanted to do for some time and this was a feature that I called Custom Help.
This is for people who have perhaps received some training in the use of JAWS. It doesn’t have to be that by any means, but people who’ve received some training and, obviously, you want to make notes on the different things that you’re being taught, either to be used anywhere or on an application by application basis. You could write those notes in a document, but when you come to want to refer to the notes, you’ve got to find the document, [chuckles] you’ve got to find where you put it, you’ve got to find the place in the document, the relevant section where those notes are. By the time you’ve done all that, you’ve probably forgotten why you wanted the reference in the first place.
Custom Help allows you to create notes to be used within a specific application or what we call Global Custom Help. There are notes that you could use anywhere. I thought we would go through and set some up here, just quickly, just so I can show you how it works. I’m going to go into Microsoft Word here.
Eloquence: Run dial. Opening Microsoft Word, opening Word, document, one-word, print, edit.
Brian: I’m going to go into Custom Help.
Eloquence: Leasey custom help dialogue. List one, list view read custom help, one of nine.
Brian: I’ve put ‘read custom help’ right at the top because if someone was setting this up for a person who was less experienced, then that’s what they would want to do and they might only want to do that. That’s the easiest option to refer to but as you can hear, there are quite a few options here to manage this thing completely. I’m going to come down to-
Eloquence: Create or edit custom help, three of nine.
Brian: -create or edit custom help, I’ll press Enter.
Eloquence: Edit, create or edit custom help dialogue. Is it help for the focused application? Yes button alt plus Y.
Brian: It’s asking if it’s for the focused application. If I were to say no, then this would be what we call global custom help, but it is. It’s specific to Microsoft Word. I’m going to select Yes.
Eloquence: Edit, word, customhelp.txtnotepad++
Brian: Now, this is my regular text editor and it’s a simple text file that I’ve opened here. I don’t think there’s anything in here.
Brian: No, there isn’t. I’m going to type some text in here. To make text bold, we’ll put to make text bold, press Ctrl B and I’m going to end that instruction with three asterisk characters. Now that’s quite important because we need to tell Leasey the beginning and the end of what the instructions are. Now, by instructions, I don’t mean that after each line, you have to put three asterisk characters. These are a division between each set of training notes.
If I were to say to you, if I was in Microsoft Outlook, to move to different accounts, one, press Alt M in order to bring up the accounts menu, two, arrow down to the account that you want, and press Enter. That’s two steps but one set of instructions. After that, you would put the three asterisk signs. It’s like you’re putting three asterisks between each topic in the notes. Once we’ve done that–
Eloquence: Star, star, star.
Brian: Yes, I’ve done that now.
Eloquence: To make text bold, press Ctrl B [unintelligible 01:25:01]
Brian: I’ll do one more. To underline text, press Control U and three asterisks on a new line. I think that will be sufficient. It is worth saying that I’m typing as plain text here, but if you want to get really sophisticated with this, you can use HTML if you want to. You can create bulleted numbered lists and you can put headings in here. I’m going to save that now in the usual way that you would save a file and I’m going to close it down.
Eloquence: Document one word.
Brian: Here I am in Microsoft Word. I’m going to go back to Custom Help-
Eloquence: Leasey custom help dialogue, list one, list view read custom help, one of nine
Brian: -and I’ll press Enter.
Eloquence: Please wait. Edit. Application custom help. To make text bold, press Ctrl V. To underline text, press Ctrl U.
Brian: You’ll notice two things there. First of all, we’re in the results viewer. Again, we can leave this window open if we want to. The second thing you’ll notice is that the asterisk characters do not appear in the results viewer, I filtered them out because the user doesn’t want to see those or you don’t want to see those when you’re reading your notes. The last thing you’ll notice is that underneath, we have a leveled heading here.
Eloquence: Blank. [unintelligible 01:26:25] heading level one global help.
Brian: That’s global help, and here are all my notes that I’ve put in global help. Just because you’re looking at your notes for Microsoft Word does not mean to say, I don’t think, that you won’t want access to your global notes because there might be something in there that you would want to refer to such as how to bring up a list of running applications. You wouldn’t want to close all this down, go searching for your global notes just to find out that. You would want to have them there right away. That is how the reading of the Custom Help works, but you can also search it. Let’s back out of here, we’ll go back to the Custom Help menu.
Eloquence: Leasey custom help dialogue.
Brian: This time-
Eloquence: Search custom help.
Brian: We’ll search the custom help. I’ll press Enter.
Eloquence: Search custom help for word dialogue. Please, type the details of what you would like to find, then press Enter.
Brian: Now did you notice it said search custom help for word because that’s where we are. It wouldn’t say that if we weren’t there. Now, I’m going to type the word, bold, and press Enter.
Eloquence: Edit. To make text bold, press Ctrl B. Press Escape to close this window.
Brian: It’s come up with that set of instructions. Again, that’s in the results viewer, but notice it didn’t show me the one about underlining because, obviously, there was no reference to bold there. The search is definitely working.
Jonathan: That’s the purpose of the three asterisks, is it, to essentially delineate each item, so when you’re searching like this, you only get the one you want?
Brian: You’ve got it exactly, yes.
Jonathan: Right. Will this work on web pages, websites as well?
Brian: It will work on web pages in terms of allowing you to provide help for the browser, the browser as a whole. Now, for individual web components, we actually have had for quite a number of years, a feature called Web Custom Text. That allows you to provide useful information relative to the page and various other elements that you may be on within websites. If you want to get more specific, then that’s the tool to delve into. In fact, the tools for that are actually contained on the Custom Help menu here. We’ve put them all in one place. There are two tools there, but for the browser as a whole, you would use this particular Custom Help.
Jonathan: This is super cool. I think trainers are going to fall in love with this feature because it’s just a quick way. So often, when you do training, you see somebody sitting there with their often a voice recorder or some note-taking thing of some kind, making notes. Yet, this can be just built right into the product so the notes are there when you’re using it, they don’t get lost, and it’s easy to update them as you go.
Brian: The other thing I built into it, it was a bit of self-indulgence, I’m afraid. It’s something that I’m going to certainly find helpful. There is an option on the Custom Help menu and it takes you to a specific folder where the training notes live. If I want to, and I do this quite often, I prepare notes for anyone that I’ve trained when I’m not with them, away from the computer. When I meet back with them next time, I can just put those in the right place on the computer, and they’re all ready to go.
Jonathan: Right. You can share these with others, and that’s a pretty critical feature.
Brian: Yes, you definitely can. Yes, if you want to. Speaking of sharing, I really think that we ought to talk about probably the biggest feature that we’ve got. Actually, in a way, this came out of this very podcast.
Jonathan: It did. Yes. I’m looking forward to having this discussion.
Brian: [laughs] You suggested that it might be a good idea if it was possible for Leasey settings to be shared between multiple machines. I said that this is something that I had tested before, and tried to develop before, but it just didn’t really get anywhere. Well, this time it has got somewhere, and we loosely call this Leasey Cloud.
The idea is that you can link it to a cloud storage location, such as Dropbox, one drive, Google Drive, et cetera. Once you’ve done this, and there is a procedure which we document for you, you have to go through a little routine on each machine, then all the settings that you have set up on one machine and that you keep changing in terms of Leasey on one machine will be instantly reflected on another one.
For example, if on my desktop computer, I had enabled the Leasey sound scheme or I had created what we call a Leasey text, which is like a text macro if you like. If I have set bookmarks in VLC media player because that is a specialist tool that’s relative to Leasey, all that functionality will come across to any subsequent machines that I happen to link to the Leasey Cloud as well.
Jonathan: It’s absolutely brilliant. I spent quite a bit of time creating customizations, particularly where Leasey texts are concerned. Then I would find, oh, I’d forgotten to undergo the manual process of copying some new ones I’d created from my laptop to desktop and vice versa. Now, it all just happens and it’s very reliable. The interesting thing is there are some very positive byproducts of this in terms of JAWS settings for the screen reader itself.
Brian: Yes, that’s absolutely right. We do have a facility on there where you can back up your JAWS settings. Now, we thought long and hard about this, myself and the beta testers, and we decided that what we were going to do is make these machine-specific. It wouldn’t be a good idea to have a general group of JAWS settings that were shared out between devices. You might have scripts that reference different JAWS serial numbers because you might have one serial number at work, one serial number at home. You might be using different Braille displays.
It could be one unholy mess if we did that. We have separated those out, but they will be backed up to the cloud or to your cloud storage location when you choose to do that. When you come to the next version of JAWS, for example, which will be JAWS 2023 when we get towards the end of the year, all you’re going to do is install JAWS 2023, and you will install Leasey into that version of JAWS. Now, if you’ve been using Leasey before, she’ll already know about the cloud storage location, so you won’t even have to link it.
Everything will come down as far as Leasey is concerned. What won’t come down right away is the JAWS settings that you have stored there. You will go to what we call the backup and restore manager. You will arrow down until you get to restore your JAWS settings, you’ll press Enter, and within about five seconds, everything is in place. That is any third-party script that you may have, that you may have used in the past. Any dictionary files, Braille display configurations, speech synthesizer profiles, even the rules for the new notification history feature that you demonstrated. I think it was last week on the podcast, actually. Even they will be available in the new version of JAWS. You won’t have to set them up again.
Jonathan: I take it that another benefit of this would be that if you are building a new computer, you’ve just bought a new laptop, for instance, will it be possible for you to restore the settings that you used on your previous laptop because you want this laptop to have the same identical JAWS functions?
Brian: Yes, it would be possible. What you would have to do is to install JAWS in Leasey onto the new laptop. You would then go through the linking mechanism that we set out. You link it to the Dropbox or cloud storage folder. As part of that linking process, it asks you what the machine name is. Now, this does not have to be your computer’s official name. It can be any name that you like. It could be desktop, it could be laptop, whatever you want to call it. Provided you give that new computer the same name as you had before with the old one, then yes, all the settings will be available. Leasey settings, JAWS settings, the lot.
Jonathan: That’s what I thought. That does save a huge amount of time for those of us who tweak the heck out of JAWS and have to have it just so.
Brian: Yes, it does. Yes. You don’t have to really think about have I backed up these settings or anything like that? Where have I backed them up to? You’ve only got one place to go to do all of this, the backup and restore of the Leasey and the JAWS settings, and that’s the backup and restore manager.
Jonathan: This has really changed my usage of Leasey a lot because I’m more inclined to do some of these customization things now, knowing that they’re just magiced onto the other machine. I routinely used two with Leasey, my desktop in my office, and my ThinkPad that I take everywhere. Now, they’re just in sync without me having to think about it.
Brian: I was really glad to get this done. Thank you for giving me a little bit of a nudge in the right direction too. [laughs]
Jonathan: It’s what I’m good at. [laughs] You mentioned the notification history feature in JAWS, and many people are quite understandably welcoming this. How does that integrate with Leasey because when we last talked about Leasey, you had worked this magic where thank goodness you got what little sanity I have left back because we had a way of muting some of these notifications in Edge, for instance. In a way, what freedom has done is to catch up to Leasey to some degree.
Brian: Yes. That’s exactly what has happened. The way that Leasey works in relation to the browser-based events or notifications, if you like, is that that functionality still works with JAWS 2021 and earlier. Okay? With 2022, I’m expecting people that if they want to create rules with the notification history feature in JAWS, that’s what they should be using.
Now, I haven’t gone quite to that extent with Windows notifications because I think that’s a very special case. I don’t think, at this point, that the new notification history is quite where it needs to be in terms of where the Leasey functionality is. With the Leasey functionality, we can abbreviate some of these Windows notifications. If I’m working away in Outlook, because I do very often, of course, I get lots of these notifications because that’s what I like to hear. I hear the fact that an email message has arrived and the name of the person who has sent that. If it’s from you, Jonathan, the likelihood is I’m going to do something about it.
Jonathan: Oh, thank you.
Brian: If it’s from somebody else, I may not do-
Jonathan: As long as that something about it, isn’t just deleting it.
Brian: Yes, you’re right. If I’m working away on an application and I hear that, then that’s a good alert for me. I don’t hear the whole notification, which would contain the message body as well, or at least a good chunk of it. I just hear what I want to hear. The other important thing is that if I’m getting a phone call or if I’m about to go into a meeting, I don’t want to hear those notifications at all. I want them when I come back, but I just want to turn them off.
I find working with a lot of people in call centers, they are exactly the same, or they host meetings and they don’t want to be disturbed by these notifications, but they do definitely want them when they finish doing what they’re doing. The notification feature does not give you the ability to switch this speech off. I find that quite extraordinary, really. There is a JAWS feature that you cannot turn off. Until such time as those issues are addressed, then the features that we have in Leasey will definitely stay.
Jonathan: I don’t know about the second thing, but the first one, presumably that would be addressed if Vispero adds regular expressions to the notification history, is that correct?
Brian: Yes, I would say so.
Jonathan: Vispero has told me, and has told me in a way that I am permitted to mention it here, that they do intend to introduce– they’re committed to introducing regular expressions in JAWS 2023, so that’ll be good news.
Brian: That will be very good news, and that will take that little stress off Leasey a little bit as well. I’d be prepared to withdraw that as of when that comes along.
Jonathan: Very good. Have we covered the key points in Leasey?
Brian: I really think we have. There are some other small things, but by and large, yes I think we’ve covered just about everything in terms of the main topics there.
Jonathan: It’s an extraordinary thing. If people value productivity and efficiency and they are a JAWS user, well, if you value productivity and efficiency and you’re using Windows, you will be a JAWS user. If you’re not using Leasey, I really don’t know why not because it’s just extraordinary. The efficiency hit. It’s like a massive dose of caffeine for JAWS, really. For those who don’t have it, they can try it first. Right?
Brian: Yes, and I will remember that expression because I really like it. Yes, you can try it out. You can go to our website hartgenconsultancy.com and you can download the demonstration of it there and you get a limited evaluation time on that. Then hopefully, you will purchase it, the activation file will come down to your computer, and you will then be good to go.
Jonathan: Brilliant. hartgenconsultancy.com is the place to go. Thank you so much for talking us through all of this, Brian. Not only that but just for the huge amount of work that you put into this. You’ve got a lot of tenacity and energy with this, and I know that a lot of people who use this daily and benefit from it, truly appreciate it. Thank you so much.
Brian: Thank you very much, again, for the opportunity of being able to come on. I just love producing it, really. A lot of work I do is in the night because like a songwriter or a lyricist, like Paul McCartney, he would get up in the middle of the night if he had a good idea. I do exactly the same, I’m afraid.
Jonathan: With yesterday playing in your head.
Brian: Yes. That’s right. Scrambled eggs.
Jonathan: Yes. [laughs] That passion for the product. I think just pushing the boundaries and just seeing how much more little efficiency gains can we get out of this. That clearly shines through. It’s brilliant, it really is. As you can tell, I’m a bit of a huge fan, so we look forward to seeing what comes next.
Brian: Well, I’m [crosstalk]. I have things in mind, but we’ll leave that to another time. Thank you very much again.
Jonathan: Thank you.
Jonathan: It is time for another Bonnie bulletin from the dancing queen herself, Bonnie Mosen.
Bonnie Mosen: Hi, guys.
Jonathan: Welcome. Are you still getting excited about the whole ABBA trip?
Jonathan: We’ve been doing a lot of work or at least I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of work-
Bonnie: Yes. You’ve been doing a lot of work.
Jonathan: -over the last week or so, booking some of the remaining travel. Some of which we farmed out to the concierge service of our American Express Platinum charge card. Actually, you used the concierge service for the first time.
Bonnie: I did to get flowers for you for our anniversary.
Jonathan: Thank you for the flowers. The things I’m smelling. Also, you got some really totally off-the-plan high carbohydrates chocolates, but wow they were delicious.
Bonnie: The lint truffles.
Jonathan: We all have our failings, and that was nice. The failing right now is that somebody is fumbling the microphone.
Bonnie: No, it’s not me.
Jonathan: What is it?
Bonnie: It’s Eclipse.
Jonathan: Oh, it’s dog. It’s dog.
Bonnie: Eclipse is hitting it with her tail.
Jonathan: She’s between us and wagging her tail, which is hitting the on-the-floor microphone stand that you were using. We need to migrate to a different-
Bonnie: Now she’s gone.
Jonathan: Anyway. One thing that’s interesting about all this planning stuff is it’s been quite a long time since I’ve used a travel website, partly because I’ve not been doing much travel and partly because the travel I have been doing is work-related, and my EA books it for me, but you were the one that switched me on to Expedia. Do we have Glenn Gordon again to thank for that because you actually listened to the FSCast, did you?
Bonnie: I didn’t actually listen to it, it just popped up.
Jonathan: [laughs] We wouldn’t want Glenn to think you’re actually listening to him now.
Bonnie: I actually might because I think I know who the guy is. I don’t know him, but I think he used to be the disability coordinator at either Nashville Tech or Belmont or one of those Tennessee schools, and I’ve heard of him. I actually should go back and listen to him, but they were talking about Expedia being accessible. It’s the accessibility person at Expedia.
Jonathan: I’ve got to catch up on my FSCasts. I do normally listen to them, but I’m a couple behind. You said, try Expedia and I did. I was just so impressed. Wow. It’s come a long way, and the app for iOS still looks like it needs some work, actually, but on the web, it’s a really good experience, very good in comparing flights and things. Then I found, I thought, well, will I book through Expedia for our hotels, but we do actually have this card, this American Express platinum card, and sometimes you get extra benefits for using that. I went to the Hilton website, I looked at Hilton and Marriot and there’s Acker. Is that how you pronounce it?
Bonnie: Acker, I think.
Jonathan: Acker, like Acker Bilk who did Stranger on the Shore.
Bonnie: Maybe I’m not sure how it’s actually pronounced. I’ll have to ask them when I’m there. I’m going to be in an Acker Hotel next month.
Jonathan: How do you pronounce yourself?
Bonnie: Excuse me. How do you pronounce your hotel chain?
Jonathan: I found again that Hilton is a very similar experience, actually, in the user interface to Expedia. We are all booked now. We’ve got all our travel elements taken care of for September.
Bonnie: It’s a lot of travel. We’ve even added another city into the mix. Another country.
Jonathan: As a transit destination. We’re going back from Stockholm on Saturday and I allowed ourselves plenty of time. We’re leaving Stockholm on Saturday, early evening, and we’ve got the ABBA Voyage thing, which is the whole major purpose of this on the Sunday night. I keep reading these horror stories about the baggage carpet at Heathrow. I’m so worried about that.
Bonnie: It’s all over Europe.
Jonathan: I’m so worried about the baggage retrieval system they’ve got at Heathrow.
Bonnie: The song saying it became true.
Jonathan: Yes. They were talking about this baggage carpet and flights being canceled at Heathrow because they don’t have the capacity to deal with them all. I thought, “Oi, wouldn’t it be terrible if we went all that way and then we didn’t get back to London in time?” We are going back on the Saturday, mindful that ABBA Voyage is on the Sunday night, and the flight that we’re taking stops off in Amsterdam. I’ve never been to Amsterdam. I’ve always wanted to but sadly, we’re just going to the airport.
Bonnie: Yes. We’ll just walk through to our next KLM flight and go on to Heathrow.
Jonathan: Then I’ve been turning my attention to the technology side of this, and I know that a lot of listeners to Mosen At Large are interested in this sort of thing. I’ve got some new gadgets. Apple actually released a new charger a couple of weeks ago, and I wasn’t that impressed with it. It’s a 70-watt charger and they have two ports. I believe the way it works is that it’s intelligent enough that both ports can be used identically. I’m pretty sure I’m representing this correctly. It works out what the device requires and just takes the power that it requires but I wanted more Watts.
I found this charger on PB Tech, which is our big– it’s like the Best Buy, isn’t it, of New Zealand and this one has two USB A-ports and two USB C-ports. It’s a 100-watt charger, and it can charge up to, I believe it’s 65 watts on the big USB C-port, the primary one, which is what our ThinkPad inspectors require, and we can plug the iPhone into the other USB C-port. We can charge the watch and the mantis with the USB A-port if we want, or we don’t have to charge everything at once. We can plug the Mantis into the USB C-port as well, of course.
Then I thought, I’ve got this Anker 20,000 mAh battery that I’ve taken around the world for quite a few years, and it just sits in my big technology backpack. You’ve got one, but it’s not an Anker one.
Bonnie: No, I have a Moshie?
Jonathan: Mophie, I think.
Bonnie: Mophie battery.
Jonathan: You got that at the Apple store in Melbourne, I think.
Bonnie: I did. Yes.
Jonathan: I thought there’s got to be something out there that will charge the Spectre and the ThinkPad.
Bonnie: I also have that other battery thing.
Jonathan: What’s that?
Bonnie: The one that you can– the MagSafe.
Jonathan: Oh, the little MagSafe battery. Yes. They’re nice, and you can just– If you want a bit of extra charge, you can carry that around with you easily and snap the MagSafe battery on the back of your phone. That’s really cool. I thought, “I wonder if there’s something out there big enough to juice up the ThinkPad and the Spectre just in case we need to,” and it’s actually quite a good emergency strategy, anyway. If you have some sort of natural disaster, and I have 5G on my laptop, we obviously want to keep the phones charged and that sort of thing. I found this thing, it’s like a paperback book, isn’t it?
Bonnie: Pretty big, yes.
Jonathan: In terms of its size and its thickness?
Jonathan: It has a USB C-port that I believe supplies between 60 and 65 watts of charge maximum. It’ll give your laptop a good juice up. Then it has another USB C-port that delivers about 18 watts. It’ll charge your phone in a reasonable hurry. It’s got a USB A-port but the interesting thing is it also has a key charger on top of it. That means that you can then just rest your iPhone or key-compatible device. I think this would work with air pods actually as well, on the top of the battery, and it’ll charge them. It’s really good.
I got this thing and I’ll be giving it a bit of testing, but those are the two things that we have for traveling. It really just cuts down, particularly that little wall charger with all the USB ports, it cuts down on all the plugs that you have to bring with you and potentially lose.
Bonnie: Yes. We still have to get something to convert over to European and UK stuff.
Jonathan: This is the really fun thing about traveling. Because we’re going to the UK and then we’re also going to the– what do you call it? Mainland Europe?
Bonnie: The continent.
Jonathan: The continent?
Jonathan: They use different plugs in Sweden and France from the plugs that they use in the UK. It’s one of the little hassles that you get when you’re traveling. We have to make sure we bring all the right little adapters. Anything else happening in your world?
Bonnie: I went to a book launch Tuesday. That was really nice. A friend of mine who’s in Romance Writers of New Zealand launched her paperback called Hush Little Baby. It’s out on Audible and it’s by R. H. Herron. It’s out on Audible and has been out in hardback.
Jonathan: Does she narrate it on Audible
Bonnie: No, she doesn’t.
Jonathan: Is it an American narrator?
Bonnie: It takes place in Los Angeles, so yes, it’s– She’s an American writer. Her mother, I think, is Kiwi. She holds dual citizenship. If you’re interested in a psychological thriller, I highly recommend it.
Jonathan: Can you give us a synopsis, like Innopsis? Hey, by the way, you know about the penniless author who died recently, right?
Jonathan: His family couldn’t afford a plot. They had to bury him in a synopsis.
Bonnie: [laughs] Basically, she’s pregnant with her wife’s child, her wife’s biological child, and her wife leaves her for another woman. All these things start happening that are very, just strange. She feels she’s being gaslighted and she’s not-
Jonathan: Are you gaslighted or gaslit?
Bonnie: Gaslit or I guess gaslighting-
Jonathan: I wouldn’t know.
Bonnie: -and she’s not sure whether it’s pregnancy brain because they’re just things that make you think you’re going a little cuckoo. She’s not sure what’s going on exactly.
Jonathan: We don’t want to do the whole plot.
Bonnie: I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but yes, it was really good. The interesting thing about it is I’ve never had children and I’ve never been pregnant. I really felt I had given birth by the end of the book. It’s amazing how some authors, where you really feel like that. The same thing, it was with Tess Gerritsen who wrote Gravity. After reading that book, I felt like I had spent the weekend in space.
Jonathan: That was a good book.
Bonnie: I was exhausted.
Jonathan: That was a really good book.
Bonnie: I asked Rachel because Rachel hasn’t given birth. I said, “What?” She goes, “Oh, I just did a lot of research.” She goes, “It was the midwives that really helped a lot with that. They read it and stuff.” I was like, “My goodness. I learned things I didn’t even know.” She was a 911 operator when she was trying to write. A lot of her ideas come from things that she’s– because sometimes, they don’t know the end of the story. They get the call but a lot of times, they don’t know what happened afterward.
Jonathan: That is true, I suppose. Yes
Bonnie: Sometimes she would get ideas and, of course, they weren’t based on the actual call, but a lot of her ideas would come from writing their own story. She said some of her favorite ones were birth stories because they would call– they did know how to help someone have a baby because if they called and they weren’t at the hospital or it was coming too fast. Sometimes, the other people would go to– The officers maybe would go see the baby and tell them what happened.
One of her ideas came from a story she had read, and this isn’t a spoiler because she was telling us this the other night at the book launch, was about a false pregnancy. I’ve heard about this in animals, but apparently, it can be a psychological condition or it can be a physical condition where a woman will– her hormones will actually do everything. She’ll gain weight, everything that she’s pregnant. Basically, the body thinks she’s pregnant. The only catch is they’re no baby in there. The only way they know there’s no baby in there is if they do a scan, then they don’t see the baby.
There was a case in New Jersey where the woman had actually gone into labor and she was having so many fast contractions that there wasn’t time to do a scan. They did a C-section
Jonathan: There was nothing there.
Bonnie: There was nothing there. Yes.
Jonathan: How did they stop the labor?
Bonnie: That part I’m not sure, but I guess they gave– She was in labor. It was labor. They will have contractions. They’ll have milk. It’s everything but a baby
Jonathan: That’s interesting.
Bonnie: That’s just the fascination of our human body. I’ve heard about it in animals, but–
Jonathan: This book is Hush Little Baby?
Bonnie: Hush Little Baby.
Jonathan: What does she call herself?
Bonnie: R. H. Herron. H-E-R-R-O-N. She also wrote another book called Stolen Things. She’s written quite a few books.
Jonathan: Very good, and you got food.
Bonnie: Yes. We had salami and cheese and hummus and cucumbers.
Bonnie: Books are expensive. I bought a paperback book. I haven’t bought a physical book in a long time.
Jonathan: Why did you buy the book when you just had it on Audible?
Bonnie: Because it’s always nice to get a book signed by the author. I had her sign it to my coworkers and left it at work for them to enjoy.
Jonathan: Well, I hope they do.
Jonathan: Right. Well, we’ll see you soon for another exciting installment.
Bonnie: Yes. Thank you.
Jonathan: Just so that I’m not being frustrating, well, no more frustrating than usual, let me specifically mention these product names in case you want to do some research. The big Kahoona of a battery that is strong and powerful enough to charge your laptop on the go and it has the key charger, that thing that I mentioned there in the Bonnie Bulletin, it is called the Cygnett ChargeUp Edge+. Cygnett is spelled C-Y-G-N-E-T-T. The plus is the plus symbol. The Cygnett ChargeUp Edge+. They’re an Australian company but I think they also do have an American version of this.
The charger is called ALOGIC 4X100. ALOGIC is spelled A-L-O-G-I-C. Also, I forgot to say in the Bonnie Bulletin, it comes with a really nice tethered USB cable. It’s perfect for me to connect my ThinkPad to this little charger that then plugs into the wall.
Jonathan: I’d 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@mushroomfm.com. If you’d rather call in, use the listener line number in the United States, 864-606-6736.
Mosen At Large podcast.
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