Podcast Transcript: Mosen At Large episode 119, blind pride, accommodations we don’t want at airports, AirTag thoughts and more
This transcript has been made possible thanks to a grant by InternetNZ.
Jonathan Mosen: I’m Jonathan Mosen and this is Mosen At Large. The show that’s got the blind community talking. On the show today, I’m extremely proud to be blind. Are you? Blind people, humiliation, and airports. Why do they so often go together? Your thoughts on AirTags, and so much more.
Jonathan: Welcome to another epic, eclectic and thrilling episode of Mosen At Large. The show that doesn’t shy away from asking the tough questions and answering them. Like, why is it that AirTags have become so popular with people interested in meditation and self-improvement? I have the answer! Because it helps you find yourself, man. I like it because I made it up myself.
I hope you’ve had a good week. Overall, I had a fantastic week. A little bit of frustration, which has been building up for a while because recently, Microsoft Edge upgraded itself to version 90. Unfortunately, there is no way that I’m aware of any way to go back to a previous version of Microsoft Edge. If there is and I don’t know about it, please tell me, because obviously, the show does not have all of the answers unless you provide them.
I want to go back to version 89. Because in version 90, they introduced this new Download Manager. If you run any other windows screen reader that I’m aware of, it still works the way it used to in terms of telling you when a download has started, giving you an occasional progress indicator, and then telling you when the download is complete. Now with JAWS, it doesn’t do that. For some reason, JAWS is not seeing what the other screen readers are seeing.
As somebody who downloads a lot of content. This is a bit of a deal-breaker for me. I didn’t really want to go back to Google Chrome. Because while it is an accessible browser, and it’s almost the industry standard. I just don’t feel comfortable about using Chrome these days, I’m more privacy-aware than I used to be. I think that is the case for many of us. Apple has done a good job of putting privacy on the radar.
With the really great features in iOS 14.5 that tell you what apps are doing. It has made a lot more people more conscious about privacy. I didn’t really want to go back to Chrome. Then I remembered that we had a discussion all the way back in October of 2019. Perhaps early November, about the Brave browser and John Wesley Smith introduced the Brave browser to Mosen At Large listeners all the way back in 2019, when version 1.0 of the browser was released.
Now Brave, which is not spelled in any funky way, it’s just B-R-A-V-E. You can find it at brave.com. Is a browser whose focus is privacy. It’s based on the chromium engine. It works really well with JAWS. That Download Manager [laugh] is giving me progress updates. So I can get my progress update back without having to go back to Chrome. My initial thinking was, I’ll just use Brave until the sparrow has a chance to get a version of JAWS out there that addresses those issues, or perhaps Microsoft Edge will update itself.
By the way, if there’s a JAWS user out there who’s using Edge Canary, and you can tell me that this issue was fixed, I will just upgrade to Canary. I don’t really want to do that either unless I really have to. I like stability, especially on this machine that I’m using here for work and professional purposes. Having used Brave for a few days, I’m not sure that I will go back. Brave is really fast because, by default, it is blocking a lot of the trackers and ads and things that just slow the internet down.
When you go on to certain news sites, you really notice the speed improvement, and it’s pretty accessible. I did hear somebody complaining that the bookmark feature in Brave is really not much better than any of the other chromium browsers. I don’t tend to use a lot of bookmarks. Obviously, if you do, that’s frustrating, but I don’t think you’re losing anything by going to Brave.
I did have one site where I was trying to make a donation, which we will talk about soon, actually, in this episode of the show, where Brave seems to give me trouble. But you can fix this. You can go into this shields up section of the browser and it shows you on any given website, anything that it’s blocking. If you think that the fact that it is blocking something is causing you some difficulty, you can unblock it for that particular site.
There are also global settings that you can adjust to get the level of privacy that you want. Their search engine by default, not surprisingly, is not Google. It is DuckDuckGo, which doesn’t track you. While they have a default private browsing mode, which acts quite similarly to the private browsing mode you’ll find on any browser, you can also browse with technology called Tor, which spoofs your IP address so that nobody knows where you’re coming in from.
It can be a bit slow because of that because your traffic is being routed through various other servers. It is a very private way to browse the internet. That is available and fully accessible. When I tried Brave last time, at the recommendation of John Wesley Smith. I wonder whether John is still using Brave after all this time, the reason why I decided not to pursue it any further was that synchronization between devices was buggy for me at that time.
To synchronize your browser data across all your devices, you don’t have to log into any special account or even create an account. You have quite a long passphrase, which you have to paste into all of the browsers that you want synced. By the way, Brave exists for iOS and Android. In the iOS version, there’s even a VPN that you can purchase if you wish. That is all working perfectly for me now.
My data is sinking between my XPS 15, and my desktop computer, and my iPhone, and the iPhone does have a reader mode in Brave that works quite well. There is a reader mode in Brave, but it seems to be quite hidden. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to toggle the reader mode on and off with a single keystroke. It will probably be this that eventually gets me back to Microsoft Edge. If this compatibility issue with the Download Manager and JAWS gets sorted. Because I really liked the reader feature.
If you haven’t tried that in Microsoft Edge, go to a page where there’s a news article, for example, and usually, you can press F9, it takes away the clutter, you can read the article, and Microsoft has some very impressive voices, particularly if you are into natural-sounding speech. If you want to have a play with another browser, Brave is definitely worth a look. It’s accessible. It’s very private and secure and fast, very fast, noticeably faster. I don’t think it’s a placebo.
When I visit certain sites, the load times are significantly faster in some cases. You can find that at brave.com. If you are using this, because it is surprisingly popular given how difficult it is for some of these minnow third-party browsers to get traction, then let me know how you’re getting on with it.
In other news, as they say, this Friday, I am speaking at Podfest Masterclass.
Podfest is one of those brands that’s been around for a long time. As you can probably gather from the title. It is a conference about podcasting. They have various conferences throughout the year. In the past, a lot of these conferences have been in a physical location. You have to go to the conference. With COVID, they’ve been virtual. For me, this is a great thing, because I’m not going to travel all the way to the United States to attend a Podfest conference.
I’m happy to attend virtually. Podfest uses an app called Whova, which is spelled W-H-O-V-A. It does have a few accessibility challenges, but it’s doable. For the actual sessions, they use Zoom, which as we know is extremely accessible. I’m giving a keynote presentation in the pre-week. It’s inspired by you. It’s called, “Becoming a Rainmaker.” How to get your audience to generate content for you.
It tells the story of Mosen At Large, and how I was wanting to keep doing podcasting and retain my connection with the blind community. But time was of the essence because I have this busy full-time day job. Mosen At Large has evolved. We’ve got this community where we have a lot of contributions. It works. I’m talking about the secret sauce of Mosen At Large. How we keep it going and how we get the contributions that we do.
That keynote is on Friday at 02:00 PM eastern time. That is Friday of this coming week, the 7th of May. I have a promo code for Podfest Masterclass that you can use. If you are a podcaster or a podcast want to be. You want to connect with people who know the stuff about podcasting, who can teach you things give you news you can use. Then you may like to consider attending Podfest Masterclass. You don’t have long, so I apologize for the short notice. It starts on Monday, US Eastern time. There are various packages available to attend, some of which give you greater access and allow you to keep recordings for life of the presentations. The basic entry-level is $99, and the coupon that I have gives you $99 off any tier that you wish to purchase. In other words, if you want to go into the $99 tier, this coupon will allow you to do that free.
Now, you can go to the Eventbrite site and search for Podfest Masterclass. Eventbrite is a very accessible platform, and that’s where tickets are being sold. You can type the promo code, blindpodmaker, all lowercase, all one word. When you apply the promo code, blindpodmaker, you will get $99 off, which means you get free admission if you go for the $99 option.
This is a huge opportunity to take your podcasting to the next level or start your podcasting journey. I will include a link to the events in the show notes for the podcast for those who are listening on the podcast version of this. I will also email it to our media list, and I will tweet it via the Mosen At Large Twitter account which you are following on Twitter, right?
Also, if you are watching the show on YouTube or Facebook, then I will post that link to the chat on those platforms as well to get directly to Podfest Masterclass, at which point you can purchase tickets if you want, and then apply the promo code blindpodmaker for $99 off. Looking forward to seeing some of you there.
Speaker 1: Hi, Jonathan. I’d like to ask you what you mean when you say I’m proud to be blind? Sure, you have a lot to be proud of that you have achieved as a blind person. Blindness doesn’t have to mean the end of your life. It’s very true that the incorrect perceptions about blindness can be more debilitating than blindness itself. Nevertheless, blindness is one of the most serious disabilities there is.
Something as natural as walking around in an unknown environment, no blind person can do that without significant aids, a cane, a guide dog, navigation aids, or a human helper.
Blind people miss all visual nonverbal communication, which I think is over half of human communication. Of course, you can compensate for it, but it’s very serious. It’s very debilitating. Blindness, in the essence, means that part of your body, your eyes are dead, dysfunctional.
I don’t see how you can be proud of that in itself. You can manage very well despite that medical condition, but to be proud of it, no.
Jonathan: Hi, Jonathan. This is Tristan Claire. I’m glad you’re addressing the issue of blind pride because it’s been on my mind a lot lately. Like you, I don’t necessarily think it’s just young people who feel proud to be blind. Recently, I had a discussion with an older blind friend who, like you, is proud to be blind, so I don’t think it’s necessarily a new thing. It’s probably more talked about now because of social media and its contribution to the disability movement in general. I think that blind pride has always been a thing.
I am one of those people who is not proud to be blind. I’m not ashamed of it either. I’m proud to read braille, with a lowercase b, and I can get around independently with a cane. It doesn’t worry me greatly that I have less sight than other people, but blindness is the sole reason that perfect strangers feel entitled to use a special voice when talking to me.
It’s what kept me under-employed for my first few years out of university. It’s the reason I can’t go anywhere and be completely anonymous. I know this for a fact because my vision fluctuates. Sometimes, I can get around without a cane, one of the most visible trappings of my blindness, and I’m treated differently by people. I can walk along the street in complete anonymity.
The one time I was able to enter a doctor’s surgery without my cane, I had a completely different interaction. Instead of being asked patronizing questions about how I attended to my personal care needs, I had a regular straightforward medical appointment. I wasn’t deliberately hiding my blindness from this person, and it actually came up later in the appointment when she asked if I drove.
It made me realize that the way people interact with me, especially strangers, is definitely informed by my blindness. This is not to say that I hate blindness with a passion either. If I had been a sighted person with no exposure to blindness, I would never have met so many awesome, interesting people. My life would have taken a completely different path. It was this idea of what my life would have been like if I was sighted that I was discussing with the aforementioned blind friend.
On the whole, we had a really great philosophical discussion about disability pride and what it means to different people. My only problem with blind pride is that people who have it feel that they have reached the pinnacle of human evolution. If you don’t love every aspect of your blindness with every fiber of your being, then you’re a messed-up individual who needs to work on their mental health.
I’m actually a pretty happy individual. I have a warm, loving family, a job I enjoy, plenty of different friendship groups in both the blind and sighted communities. I’m confident at getting around, enjoy going to new places, can talk a blue streak, and can stand up for myself if I need to, but I’m not proud of being blind. Would I swap it for full sight tomorrow? I don’t know.
I feel like blindness, for me, is a characteristic like being short. Just as I need a stepladder in order to reach good China in my top cabinet, I need a cane and refreshable Braille in order to get around and read a good book. To me, it’s not a big deal. I just wish it wasn’t to everyone else. If I could have the anonymity of sightedness, but still be exactly the same as I am now, then I’d be okay with that.
On a related subject, you were talking on a previous show about people who think it’s a compliment when sighted people forget their blind. I can’t speak for anyone else on this issue, but it’s something I used to say a lot more as a younger person than I do now. I understand not wanting to have your blind identity erased. It’s akin to well-meaning white people saying to people of color that they don’t even see race.
I wonder though when people say my friends forget I’m blind, are they not referring to the initial discomfort some people feel when they first start to interact with you as a blind person? When people meet us for the first time, they can be really uncomfortable with our blindness. They may avoid visual language such as see or look, in case it reminds them that we can’t do either, just in case we might have forgotten.
They might be absolutely blown away that we go places on our own or cook or make a cup of tea. Usually, familiarity and a few easy conversations can dispense with all of that. I’m wondering if that’s what some people mean by forgetting we’re blind. It’s not literally forgetting, as in, “Oh my God, are you blind? I forgot.” More like forgetting that they are addressing a person who is different or special or insert other cringe-making disabilities stereotype here.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather hang with people who aren’t so mindful about my blindness that they can’t talk about anything else. I’m pretty well-informed about a range of topics, and I’m up for conversation about almost anything. It may be that other people who say that genuinely are ashamed of their blindness. It’s sad for them, but before anyone becomes impatient or judgmental of people who aren’t proud of being blind.
It’s important to remember that our experiences of blindness are informed by all of the other aspects of our lives. It’s probably easier to be proud of your blindness if you’re happy with other aspects of your life. If you grew up with people who loved you and nurtured you. If you have access to the technology that will keep you on a level playing field with the rest of the world, if you are listened to and respected both professionally and personally.
If you don’t encounter discrimination on a daily basis, if you had the kind of life where blindness was seen as a barrier to everything good, then it would be harder to reach a state of blind pride. Well, thanks as always for your very thoughtful email Tristan. I want to emphasize first that in stating the perspective I’m going to shortly about why I’m proud to be blind. It’s not my position to say that everybody who thinks differently from me is wrong.
One of the things that I’m proud of about Mosen At Large is that we can hear a range of perspectives and respect those perspectives. Hopefully, through good quality non-defensive communication, gain a better understanding of the way that a variety of people think about a variety of issues. But having said that, I disagree with you on one point, and that relates to the idea that somehow you have to have had a privileged life to be proud of being a member of a minority.
We can point to a lot of oppressed people who belong to minority groups who have been part of a struggle, who are proud of the minority status that they hold. Tracy Duffy says, I have never really thought about whether I was proud to be blind. I’m still not sure of that answer. I will say though, that I am not ashamed of being blind. I don’t think it’s the end of the world.
If I know it will bring me quickly to mind for a sighted person I am addressing over the phone or by email, I will mention that I am the blind lady from a certain class they teach or from church or wherever they may know me from. Airports are places I don’t deal with all that frequently. As a rule I probably do accept more help than a great many others would. I do know that if I regularly traveled and went through the same airports frequently, I’d be far more independent and would be less likely to accept help, particularly when first arriving or when getting to the other end of my trip.
I might still accept help in getting to a connecting flight, especially if there was not a lot of time to get there and to make the connection. Further, one phrase that always makes me crazy is the blind leading the blind. When I was trained in cane travel at the school for the blind, I earned the right to take other students with me and take them as their guide. We never fell into any ditches or otherwise got into bad or dangerous situations.
Absolutely. Thank you so much for sharing that perspective, Tracy. I find it disturbing, but not surprising, I suppose that when you think about it, the only way that sighted people can gain knowledge of what it’s like to be blind and some of the challenges that we face is to ask us or study us. Somewhere in the 20th Century, somewhere, the rehabilitation and instruction of blind people that turned into this pseudo-science that somehow only sighted people were qualified to teach.
All of a sudden people started saying, you can’t have blind orientation and mobility instructors. How are they going to see how to instruct someone? How are they going to know when somebody is safe and yet, where did those sighted people get the information about blind travel from? Blind people. It’s absolutely extraordinary. I celebrate all of the blind O&M instructors and everybody who was involved in teaching other blind people. Again, it comes down to mentoring. Mentoring can be so important and impactful.
We’ve had some perspectives. There are some people who are definitely certain that they’re not proud to be blind. Then a contribution with somebody a bit on the fence about whether they are proud to be blind or not. I can say an equivocally. I am profoundly proud to be blind.
I am proud of the fact that as a kid, when my older siblings would have been found out for reading at night, I read in the dark as much as I liked, a Braille book tucked under the covers on winter nights.
I am proud to be blind, because it connects me with a proud history. I share a characteristic with a man who gave us the priceless gift of functional, efficient literacy. Louis Braille was an example of “nothing about us without us” in the 19th century, long before we used that phrase. His genius invention was derided by sighted people who were certain they knew what was best for us. He was ridiculed. His code was driven underground and his books were burned. But he prevailed, because he was blind. He devised his code for himself, he gave it, at considerable personal cost, to all of us.
I am proud to be blind, because of all the other blind people who followed in Louis Braille’s footsteps, blind people innovating and inventing for our collective advancement, imagining a better future and making it real. Whether it be Larry Skutchan with his methodical mind and interminable patience, or Ted Henter with his zeal and entrepreneurship, or David Costution and Glen Gordon who believed that Windows could be truly useable and then made it come true, or the blind people now working on the inside of mainstream companies who are our champions, we dreamed it, we created it.
I am proud to be blind, because blind people are the reason the 33 RPM record was developed, initially so talking books could be distributed more efficiently.
And speaking of talking books, I am proud to be blind, because blind people are the reason talking books exist. Now, sighted people are using them too.
I am proud to be blind, because the original reading machine was created for us. We started the journey of digitising printed text that resulted in the scanners that are still commonplace in offices today.
I am proud to be blind, because long before the term PDA was in the lexicon of sighted people, we were taking notes, keeping track of appointments and reading books on devices like Keynotes and Braille’n’Speaks.
I am proud to be blind, because we were one of the reasons computers started to talk. Technology is better because of blind people. There are so many examples of technology when we, proudly, have been the blind who led the sighted.
I am proud to be blind, because I am not influenced by someone’s physical appearance, but instead gain information from the tone of a voice and the words that are said.
I am proud to be blind, because it has made me a more lateral thinker, developing and refining alternative techniques to access a wide range of information so I can thrive in a largely sight-dependent world.
I am proud to be blind, because even though my other senses aren’t sharper than anyone else’s, in fact I have a dual sensory loss, like many blind people I use them well. It makes me smile when I can tell what type of audio processor is being used on a radio station, or when another blind person can tell the kind of car that’s passing by simply by the sound it’s making, or when a blind person gives another blind person an instruction like, “when your cane hits a pole on my street that emits a fifth octave A-Flat, you’re outside my house”.
I am proud to be blind, because of the legacy of great blind civil rights leaders around the world. Often ostracised and branded radical troublemakers, they confronted, and are still confronting today, the tyranny of low expectations and the disabling decisions society has chosen to make. They challenged the damaging, fundamentally flawed notion that we had neither the ability nor the right to achieve self-determination, that it wasn’t necessary for society to be accessible, or inclusive, or accepting. Their belief in a fairer tomorrow unshackled us from institutions and shattered disempowering paternalism. Their tenacity has seen the increasing availability of better training, much of it driven by blind people ourselves, and increased opportunity through civil rights legislation.
I am proud to be blind, because as a subset of the world’s largest minority, disabled people, blind people led the way in the disability movement, securing legislative victories long before they were common for much of the rest of the sector. I am grateful every day of my life for those blind people who took on those difficult causes, displayed tenacity and stated their cases again, and again, and again until progress was slowly but surely made. I am proud of the personal responsibility I feel as a blind person to always cherish and defend, never take for granted, and constantly build upon the legacy of civil rights victories that I have inherited and benefited from. I am mindful that they must not be squandered, and I am proud to stand up, be counted, and do my moral duty to advance that legacy so that the next generation has even more opportunity than I have had.
I am proud to be blind, because it has shaped who I am, it is part of my identity and it has helped define me. I accept that. I embrace that.
I am proud to be blind, because in being blind I contribute to the rich tapestry and the diversity of humankind.
I am proud to be blind, because no matter how many negative signals are sent, I know that being blind makes me no less a person of worth.
I am proud to be blind, because the opposite of pride is shame, and my blindness is nothing to be ashamed of.
I am proud to be blind, and therefore share a characteristic with talented people from all walks of life. Blind people are parents, devoted, loving parents, some of whom have had their babies literally snatched from their loving arms, an atrocity no capable and loving parent should endure, and all for no other reason than people getting it horribly wrong about blindness. I am proud that we as blind people show those parents love, solidarity, and a steadfast determination to get those children back where they belong.
Blind people are in factories and farms, law practices and legislatures, sandwich shops and start-ups. I am proud of the blind teachers, software developers, businesspeople, mechanics, transcribers, musicians and even medical doctors. There is very little we can’t do and there are few professions where you can’t find a blind person, often to many people’s surprise. The only trouble is, the world doesn’t necessarily know that. And that’s the biggest reason I am proud to be blind. Because every day, just by getting on with my life, I defy the odds in a disabling society, we defy expectations where there is little disability confidence. When people tell us we can’t, we show them yes, we can. It can be exhausting sometimes. We may get knocked down, and sometimes we may feel like we’re out for the count. But eventually, most of us get up again. We apply for that one more job. We work around that inaccessible website. We keep calm and carry on when we’re treated like a helpless child in the street, or when walking into a store, or when yet another ride share driver declines to take our guide dog. That takes guts, it takes tenacity. The odds are stacked against us, but we march on, we make progress. Go us!
Yes, I am proud, proud, a thousand times proud to be blind.
Advert: What’s on your mind? Send an email with a recording of your voice or just write it down. firstname.lastname@example.org, that’s J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N @mushroomfm.com or phone our listener line. The number in the United States is 864-60 Mosen, that’s 8646-60-66736.
Jonathan: Dawn Davis is writing in from Sydney and says, “Hi, Jonathan. Here I am putting the cat amongst the pigeons. Yesterday, I was at Sydney Airport, the staff there were very insistent that I have a wheelchair. I tried to say that I didn’t need one and that I really could walk to the gate, but in the end, I gave up and let them put me in a wheelchair, which made me feel a bit of a fraud.
I have to admit, I have used one going overseas with my husband who has a bad leg and does have trouble walking long distances. I have to say it was very helpful. We got through customs pretty quick, smart. However, the point is that I do not need a wheelchair and there may be some others there who do. I do make a big thing of it and protest emphatically that I’m quite capable of walking a few 100 meters or do I just let it go? What do you and others think?
Dawn, I have a very firm view about this. That is that airlines or any other public service should be asking you one question and that is how can I help? Having asked the question, they need to listen to the answer and take you at your word. I don’t begrudge anybody who has some physical impairment from using a wheelchair, but I do very strongly object to someone trying to force an accommodation on me that I don’t require and I don’t want to use.
I will simply not sit in a wheelchair at an airport, and I speak as someone who has traveled internationally extensively. I have had quite firm arguments with airports and airlines about this, and I will not do it. Now, I can sometimes defuse the situation, if I’ve got off a plane after a long trip or something like that and I have a backpack full of technology that I carry with me on the plane.
If somebody brings a wheelchair, I will try really nicely at first to say, ‘Well, I don’t need the wheelchair, I’ve been on a long flight. Or perhaps if I’m going to the gate, I don’t need a wheelchair because I’m about to be sitting down for a long time and I could still use the walk.’ I try and do it nicely. Then if I’ve got the backpack I say, ‘But I tell you what, this backpack is heavy. I’ll put that on the chair and if you feel more comfortable wheeling the chair, we can give my back a bit of a rest. How about that?’
I’m not immediately confrontational by any means. I try to be really polite and all that kind of stuff. However, if they say, ‘No, you must sit in the wheelchair. It’s our requirement or something like that.’ Then I say, ‘No, I’m not going to do this. You can’t make me use an accommodation I don’t require. I don’t require it.’ Of course, this is one of the really cool things about using Aira in an airport, that you can bypass this thing.
I know that there are some people who have the travel skills to not even need meet and assist There was a really interesting discussion at an NFB convention a few years ago, where people talked about how meet and assist can actually slow you down.” That may well be true, for me, at least, as somebody with a hearing impairment in addition to blindness. I can’t do that.
That’s where Aira was particularly helpful for me, and is particularly helpful when I get back to doing some more travel. No, I think you’re totally within your rights, you were doing the right thing. If you don’t want the accommodation, don’t take it. Be all sweetness and light to begin with, but if they insist then you have to insist back. I agree, it would be good to hear what other listeners think about this. Do you just do the path of least resistance and get in that wheelchair when it’s offered even when you don’t need it?
If so, what’s your justification for that? Why do you decide to take that cause of action? I’m sure that when many more of us were traveling more regularly, we’ve had some horror stories at airports. If you’d like to share them, how you handled them, then please feel free. I have not been close to arrest anywhere other than in an American airport. I was nearly arrested about 12 years ago, for essentially holding my ground on an accommodation.
It would have been a great court case and in some ways, I wish they had arrested me. But you do I think have to assert your capability and not insist that other people can define your requirements. You are a customer and you are entitled to make it clear what service you require. The American system is both the best and the worst really, because if you just go through airports without doing the appropriate due diligence, you could have a terrible experience.
US airports are where often blind people who don’t have frequent flyer programs, whatever, get put into little rooms and strange nonsense like this, degrading, humiliating nonsense like this. You can actually, I remember when I was living in the United States, learning the names and phone numbers of these– I don’t know they’re in charge of the meet and assist. I think they have a particular term that US listeners who travel will be familiar with.
We did a show on this on our talk show that we used to do on Mushroom FM called a Cuppa at the Mosen’s and got some great information on this. If you travel at an airport often enough, you can take the stress out of a situation by contacting those people in advance because the horrible thing about this is you never know when it’s going to happen. You’re just trying to enjoy your vacation or your holiday, or your trip, or enjoy your time at the airport and then this stuff just comes along at random.
It’s like the guide dog refusals. You know what’s going to happen to you eventually, you don’t know when and when it does, it can just be really disconcerting and upsetting. Meanwhile, Tim says, “I was nearly forced into a wheelchair at an airport a couple of times, but if they wanted me in that thing, they would have had to break my legs first. I can outrun most assistance and would feel way too ashamed sitting in that chair with perfectly functional legs.
Just what impression would I make on bystanders when I jumped out at the destination? I have been in a wheelchair due to a broken ankle. I would have been totally helpless without crutches. Can’t keep my balance on those things, and I never had stronger arms. Although I didn’t have the freedom of two legs, I was able to roll around 15 kilometers.
Having a bit of sight helps, but more importantly, I never accept limitations. I want to do the maximum I can to be independent. Perhaps I sometimes overdo it. It’s okay to accept help sometimes, but stepping in the dependent role when there’s absolutely no reason to won’t enhance your psychological well-being or social relationships in any way.
Abbie: Hi, everybody, this is Abbie Taylor in Sheridan, Wyoming. First and foremost, when I got my COVID shots, I was lucky enough to get a phone number to call for my PA when I saw her last month for my annual checkup. I called the number and I left a message and I didn’t think I would hear back from them right away, but a couple of hours later, somebody called and scheduled my appointments for my first and second shots.
The shots were given at our local hospital, which has an outpatient unit containing doctors’ offices, a pharmacy, a radiology department, a lab, and other things, and the clinic was located there. It was nice. It was temporary in this big room, which had a cement floor. There were folding chairs everywhere where people sat and the chairs had timers on them. When I registered, signed in, somebody helped me find a chair with a timer.
When the nurse came by and gave me the shot, she set the timer and told me that when it went off in 20 minutes, if I felt okay, I could leave, which I did. By the way, I was given the Pfizer shot. I was told by the nurse, when I got my second shot, that the Moderna one has the more pronounced side effects, but I had very little trouble with the Pfizer. I think the trick is somebody told me to get the shot in your dominant arm, meaning if you’re right-handed, then get your shot in your right arm.
If you’re going to be using that arm a lot, which I do, especially when I’m at my computer and I’m writing. I’m an author, by the way, for those who don’t know me, and I keep a Braille with a capital B display next to me when I write. My right arm is constantly reaching over to proofread stuff, and then reaching back to the keyboard to deal with any mistakes, what have you. That right arm moves. By getting the shot in the right arm, that seems to have helped.
After the second dose, I did have a little bit of chills, tiredness, achiness, maybe a slight fever, but it would usually just happen at night for a couple of nights, but otherwise, I was fine. That’s my story regarding the shots. Now to something more pleasant, text-to-speech technology. My favorite for using my computer and my tablet and my phone is the Vocalizer voices.
Maybe I should say, are the Vocalizer voices. Excuse my bad grammar, I’m a published author, I should know better. Anyway, I like the Vocalizer voices the best, and I have several of them on my computer. With NVDA, you can select a specific voice for a specific application, which I really like to do because I tend to get tired of voices very quickly. I try to have different voices on the PC as opposed to on the phone and on my BrailleNote Touch Plus.
For reading, I like IVONA Kendra. That is the voice that Bookshare uses in their audio files, if you’ve ever gotten those, and I used to because I really like that voice. When I recently purchased Voice Dream Reader, I also purchased Kendra, and I now have her read books to me on Voice Dream Reader on the phone. It’ll be interesting to see what happens if the Vocalizer voices are added to Windows.
One problem I see right now with Windows OneCore and Sapi5 is the voices are not responsive when typing. I like to have my character echo set, and I like being able to press a key and immediately hear the voice speaking the word. Yes, I have Braille with a capital B, but I like having Braille and speech both. That’s why I like having more responsive voices when typing.
Jonathan: Thanks for sharing, Abbie. With JAWS, they have a special interface to the Vocalizer voices so that they don’t have to use Sapi and Vocalizer is very responsive there. You can also set a separate voice for each application there as well. Back to the vaccines. Kathy Blackburn in Austin, Texas, says, “Since my primary healthcare provider was not offering COVID-19 vaccines to patients, I registered with the Austin Travis County Public Health website.
I failed to understand initially that when doses became available, I would need to spend time on the computer trying to snag an appointment. Fortunately, the deacons of my church had decided to assist members who might have difficulty accessing the websites. At the end of February, one of these deacons took down my contact information and other details, plus how far from my house I would be willing to travel to get vaccinated.
After making several attempts over the next two or three days, he got me an appointment at a grocery store’s pharmacy not too far from my house. Another friend took me to these appointments. Meanwhile, Audley was diagnosed with multiple myeloma last year. He was treated at an oncology place until the end of December. After that, he was scheduled for a stem cell transplant, which finally took place in mid-March.
The COVID-19 vaccine appointment that had been scheduled for him had to be canceled due to the ice storm in February. To date, he has not been vaccinated, though the doctor makes vague promises that the hospital will take care of that. It is my opinion that the words health, care and system do not belong in the same sentence.” Oh, dear. Thank you, Kathy, and wishing Audley all the very best.
This email is from Janet, who says, “My husband and I are both fully vaccinated. The various sites we accessed were difficult to get through. We actually contacted a call-in center and got put on a waiting list for our appointments. We received several phone calls asking if we wanted to be on the list and we responded that we did. About six days after procuring our spot on the waiting list queues, we received a phone call telling us that there were appointments available for us and got appropriate assistance to make them.
During our first visit, everyone was very helpful and all went well. We had slight soreness in our arm as a side effect of the shot. It was easier to book our second appointment, as we did this while we were waiting to be released from the vaccine site. Regarding independence and signatures, a few years ago, I participated in a medical study where I was told because I was blind, they needed to videotape me signing all consent forms, and there had to be an extra witness to ensure that my decisions were not being influenced by the person who read me the paperwork.
I worked with the group doing the study and told them, I would be willing, if necessary, to sign a statement indicating that I was completely aware of the content of the document, had no questions, and was signing of my own free will and would not hold anyone responsible in any way for my decisions. It disturbs me greatly that in this century, people cannot comprehend that blindness does not represent any degree of incompetence.
As you state, advocacy is convincing one person at a time and it is a slow process. I hope that in the near future we, blind people, will no longer have to negotiate something as simple as a signature for consent.” Thank you, Jeanette. I completely agree. Bonnie and I had this situation when we were getting wills done and we had read the documents ourselves, we’d read them electronically.
We were able to verify by using an OCR package on our phone that we were signing the same document, and still, they insisted on a complex Rigamarole to do with other people that would not be necessary in any other case. It is discriminatory, it’s unnecessary, it’s patronizing, and we do have to fight these things. Looks like Stan is all vaccinated, he says, “I received my second shot this past Tuesday. The only side effect was that I was extremely tired on the evening after receiving my second shot. I also had a sore arm. I didn’t even experience a sore arm after my first shot. Things have gone quite well.”
Peter: Hi, Jonathan, it’s Peter from Robinhood County, hoping you’re all safe and well. My experience with the COVID vaccine was good. I had the Pfizer BioNTech jab, our friend took me, she guided me through all the relevant processes until we got to the area where the jab was going to be administered. He noticed that I had the white stick because he says, “Are you okay where you’re sitting?” I said, “Yes, he says right.” “I’m on your left-hand side. I’m going to give you the jab in your left arm, are you ready?” I said, “Yes.” He went three, two, one, done.
He says, “I have a blue card, please bring that on your next visit, put it away and don’t lose it, please.” It says on the other leaflet, it says if you’re unable to read it yourself or without any visual aids and if your friend can’t read it to you or doesn’t have time, I’ll take you to the next lady and she will read it to you. I said, “Okay. I’m all set there, I’ve got an app on the smartphone.” He went, “Good.” He says see you next time. We went to the waiting area and we sat down for 15 minutes after which we went to the exit, the lady says, “Have you had your jab?” I said, “Yes.” “Do you feel okay?” I said, “Yes.” She says, “See you next time.” We went.
When I got home, I took two paracetamol and then the next day I felt flu-like symptoms, but it was really ice cold. I don’t think I’d ever felt so internally cold in my life. I felt like I was being gripped by a ghost and just in case anybody wants to know, yes, I have actually seen a ghost, but that’s another story. Other than that, it was an easy experience to get through and the booking process was simple. Over here we have a system called Swift Crew and the lady was able to do that. She has enough useful vision, so out came the iPad Pro and off we went.
Jonathan: Laurel Jean is writing in and says, in response to your invitation to share vaccine experiences, I began writing this on April the 16th, around 11 hours after having received my second Pfizer vaccine shot. I was grateful to report no major complications. My arm was a little sore and I had experienced only minor fatigue. As I was writing, I began to feel a sensation of heavy fatigue, slowly slipping over me and it dawned on me that I simply couldn’t make my brain or my fingers do what I wanted them to do. I experienced this feeling over the next 24 hours, along with nausea and quite achy joints as the vaccine began strengthening my immune system. The fatigue stayed with me for over the next several days albeit at a lesser degree of intensity.
Having finally gotten around to finishing this email, I’m happy to report that I feel much better. My housemate, Audrey in the over 65 age group had her second installment of the Pfizer vaccine in February. Her second shot left her feeling extremely fatigued with chills and a low-grade fever and very achy for around 24 hours. She is also doing well now. In spite of the discomfort, we are breathing a tremendous sigh of relief to know that we are fully vaccinated.
Audrey proudly jokes, “I’m glad to have both of my rabies shots.” Audrey and I each had our appointments at different vaccination sites and had generally positive experiences. Audrey’s took place at a drive-through site and mine at a walk-in facility. In both cases, however, we did have to politely refocus the sighted attendants who tried to speak to Audrey’s driver and to the sighted volunteer who accompanied me to the check-in window as if we were incapable of speaking for ourselves. This seems to be fairly typical anytime we interact with the medical community in the company of another sighted person.
I was able to assist Audrey in scheduling her appointments rather efficiently, but mine were a different story. As soon as people with disabilities or chronic issues in my under-55 age group were allowed to receive the vaccine, I began staying up through the night trying to find an appointment. Like you, Jonathan, I would not have felt comfortable basing this decision on my blindness alone, but I also have asthma. As it turned out, while our state qualified high-risk people in my age group to be vaccinated, provider sites were not promulgating the updated list of qualifications.
Finally, I found a phone number of the scheduling office of our local medical university. The voice prompts on the phone said nothing about the vaccine, but there was an option to press to learn more about COVID-19. I selected that option and was connected to a very nice apologetic representative who scheduled my appointments. I was also able to help a number of others to schedule vaccine appointments locally via the elusive phone number. Our city’s mayor is doing all that he can to keep masking and social distancing in place, but our governor has lifted all state-level gathering and masking restrictions.
Many of us disagree with this decision. As of Thursday, April the 29th, our state is showing positive test results at 5% with 20 confirmed deaths in the last 24 hours. A lot of our friends and relatives and even one of our regular drivers still refuse to be vaccinated. The two of us have maintained strict social distancing guidelines and created a rather small social bubble throughout the past year. In spite of staying close to home, we’ve been able to assist a good number of people, both blind and sighted, in finding groceries, household supplies, and food for pets or service dogs. We’ve never been bored and only wish we could have done more with so many in need around the world. It is absolutely heart-wrenching to see the toll that the virus is taking in India and Brazil. All the while vaccines here in the US are being discarded because a lot of people refuse to be vaccinated.
As isolating as the past year has been, I can honestly say that people whom I have never met in person are now more like friends and family, and my worldview has expanded extensively. Both Audrey and I keep the worldwide Mosen at-large community in our daily thoughts and prayers. Thanks for providing this platform and bringing us all a little closer together. Well, thank you so much, Laurel Jean for your contribution this week and also for the wonderful efforts that you are making to help out people who need it.
Speaker 3: Like the show? Then why not like it on Facebook, too. Get upcoming show announcements, useful links, and a bit of conversation. Head on over now to facebook.com/mosenatlarge that’s facebook.com/ M-O-S-E-N atlarge to stay connected between episodes.
Jonathan: Daniel Semro has a question and I actually have an answer to this one, who’d have thunk it? He says I run a podcast called Daniel’s Technology and More, shameless plug. Don’t forget to put a promo together for it, Daniel, and submit it to the blind pod maker group so other blind podcasters can play it and we can all play each other’s podcast promos and share the blind podcast love. He continues, “I’m looking for some good quality cheap/ free jingles.” Normally you’re not going to find good quality and free in the same sentence. He continues, “I was going to go with JAM like you did, but they’re $365 a cut at least from what I read online on the JAM website.” Yes, that’s right. “I was wondering if you or your listeners had any advice of other routes I can go with. I also run an Icecast server through my website where these jingles would be used.” Daniel, we can keep it in the community.
Kelly’s Sapergia, I checked this, who’s a listener to Mosen At Large and also submits contributions sometimes and all those good things, he is still running KJS productions, Mr. Vocoder himself. Not sure if he’s still using Vocoders, but he did a lot of the original ACB radio interactive jingles and he’s done other jingles for other people. It’s good to keep it in our community and his rates are good. You are going to have to, if you want somebody to take the time to record jingles for you, you’re not going to get them for free unless you know somebody, like a good friend who’s willing to do it for you as a favor, but these people are talented and it takes time to record them, produce them, and they deserve to be compensated for their work, but I’m pretty sure that Kelly’s rates will be a lot more reasonable for you than JAM’s. So do check him out and you can find the website at kjsproductions.com. That’s kjsproductions.com, all joined together.
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John: Hey, Jonathan, it’s John Moore. I’ve been listening to the podcast off and on for a long time. I wanted to ask you how you would compare AirTag to Tile. I heard your AirTag podcast and I like you feel that Apple has done a game-changer here. I also feel that Tile may still have some advantages because of the different sizes, including the adhesive stickers. I’ve thought about Tile for a while now getting into that. How would you say the two items compare? If you had a choice, would you choose Tile over AirTag if you need different sized things put in? Because I would think that there wouldn’t be very many ways to put an AirTag on really small things. That’s why I was considering Tile or is it possible to run them both simultaneously?
Jonathan: Thanks, John. After we recorded that podcast, Heidi and I directly compared the Tile stickers with the AirTags. The Tile stickers are slightly smaller, but slightly thicker than the AirTag. There’s really not a lot in it size-wise. Of course, the Tile stickers have an adhesive backing so you can stick them to all sorts of things, and the AirTags do not. I suppose it wouldn’t be that difficult for someone to come out with a series of accessories that somehow add in adhesive backing to the Tile.
As I’ve said repeatedly now, it is frustrating that while AirTags are a good product, you have to invest in accessories as well and that does make them less attractive. Another thing that makes Tiles more attractive, in addition to as you say the variety of form factors in which you can get Tiles is that you can share a Tile account with a family member. I’m not aware of a way to do this with AirTags. I haven’t read anywhere, that being a part of say a family sharing group allows you to look at other people’s AirTags.
Now, where this is relevant is that when Bonnie and I travel together, we put a Tile in the suitcase that we jointly use. If we’re only going away for a day or two, then we can take one big suitcase between us. She and I are logged into the same Tile account so we can both track that Tile. To the best of my knowledge, you can’t do that with AirTags. However, if I had to pick one over the other, I would have to pick the AirTags, because of the precision finding, which as you heard, is just so accurate.
I know it’s an overused term, but you also know that when I think Apple has dropped the ball, I’m not hesitant to say so. In this case, I really think they have changed the game. It’s clear to me that quite a bit of thought was put into the way that blind people would use this accessory to find things. I think that’s absolutely fantastic. AirTags win for me despite the fact that it is not yet the perfect product. Hopefully, Apple will expand on this product category, give us a few more types of AirTags, and refine the way that they work.
After Heidi and I recorded that segment on the AirTags, I really wanted to make sure that I have the right accessory to attach it to my key ring. We looked up online to see which local store had the AirTag accessories. We found one not too far away and we went into the store. I said to the young woman who was serving us, “Do you have the full range of AirTag accessories?” She said, “We do. I’m very sorry, but we don’t have the AirTags. We only have the accessories.” I said, “That’s okay. I’ve got the AirTags, but I don’t have the accessories.” She said, “See, we were made for each other.”
I burst into song with I got a brand new pair of roller skates, you got a brand new key thing, but I think she was far too young to have ever heard that song. Anyway, that’s a happy ending. I got the accessories. Heidi, by the way, who’s having a milestone birthday, she’s going to be a quarter of a century old in a few days. Since we were in the store that had them, got an iPhone 12 Pro for an early birthday present. She is a happy banana. There’s no reason at all why you can’t use both.
We can keep Tiles around and use them when traveling, but I’m not sure that we would because if you’re trying to find a piece of luggage on a carousel, despite the fact that we can both have a look at where that Tile is, we won’t be able to locate it with the precision finding that we can with an AirTag. I think that will end up winning every time. There’s no reason why you can’t have them both coexist, particularly if you’ve invested significantly in the Tile ecosystem already.
Mika: Good morning, Jonathan. Good morning, Mushroom FM. This is Mika Pyyhkala coming to you Saturday morning, from the house in Naples, Florida, sitting on the balcony here. Also purchased AirTags over the weekend. I knew I would be in Naples, so I ordered one four-pack and some accessories to be ready for pickup at the Naples Apple Store. Then another four-pack to be delivered in Boston this past Friday, the 30th. I knew I would be here and I wouldn’t want to wait the weekend to start looking at these and playing around with them.
I’ve got a few set up a couple of observations. I’m curious about the Bluetooth range capability, and difference with the Tile Pro versus the AirTag. I haven’t really been able to experiment with that myself and I haven’t seen that yet in the various YouTube videos. If folks want to learn more about AirTags, if you just go to YouTube and go to the search and just put in AirTag all one word, you’ll get all sorts of videos with people doing all kinds of tests on them that are slowly or more quickly coming out. Curious about the differences in the Bluetooth range capabilities of the AirTag and the Tile Pro.
Then secondly, I find it interesting that Apple may have taken the theft-recovery use case possibility of this a little bit off the table. If someone, let’s say, steals your backpack, and then they get it home, they’re going to get a notification that you have this AirTag here. It’s going to offer to play a sound. It’s going to offer to tell them how to disable it, which I’m curious too how do they instruct someone to disable. Is it just taking the battery out or another process? I haven’t actually seen those instructions or seen anybody mentioned the verbiage that they use.
That does seem to potentially create a problem if you’re trying to use it to locate a stolen item. I just contrast that with Tile, that’s just going to keep pinging. It’s not going to notify anybody. It’s just going to keep doing what it does. Tile is certainly not known for their privacy features, but I get the use case about stocking. I suppose too if someone accidentally has an item of yours, this feature that they’ve built would actually- and if they accidentally have the item and they’re going to return it to you, then this feature will make it easier to make that happen since it will alert someone, maybe that someone left their wallet at your house or your backpack or keys or something. Then not only with the owner will be able to track it, but the person that has it might be able to more expeditiously return it.
I suppose the only way to have both possibilities would be to allow the user to turn those features on and off, although then you wouldn’t be able to use it for the stocking deterrent. Maybe I’ll leave one with my friend in Naples tonight and see what happens if we get those notifications. Then we can read how it tells you to disable it.
Jonathan: Good on you Mika, good on you. Boldly experiment. Go where no AirTag has gone before, and why stop there? Let’s reinvent the musical repertoire of the 20th century. How about a remake by Tony Bennett, which says I left my AirTag in San Francisco. The possibilities are endless. I’m sure these questions will be answered and they are very important good questions as well. You make an important point which is people should not think of any of these trackers as an anti-theft device.
If someone wants to steal your stuff really any of these trackers are not going to help you. This is more for when you have lost your stuff. Hopefully, if it comes into contact with somebody who is honest, they will be able to return it to you. If they mean to steal something, then there’s probably a very short time span before they realize that there’s an AirTag associated with it and therefore they remove the AirTag.
Robin Christopherson writes, “Thanks for the excellent demo of the AirTags which my Mac wants to correct to airbags. [chuckles] Their own dictionary needs a swift update, me thinks, and how the proximity feature works. I’m interested to know if the issue you had in locating the tag which was on another floor would have been helped by tilting or indeed moving your phone upwards or downwards. I’m guessing that it doesn’t know how to announce the tag’s direction when that direction is up or down relative to the plane of the phone. I didn’t hear any up, down, or up to the right, et cetera being spoken during the demo in which case, tilting might give more accurate information in cases where you were pointing it directly up through the floor to where it is sitting on your bedside table for example.
Similarly, I’d be interested to know how it reports an object directly above the phone as it is being held horizontally. If you get confusing readings in such a case, then moving the phone up and down regardless of orientation should alter the distance enough to give you useful info about where that errant tag is, just curious to know how it works.”
Thanks, Robin, I will definitely have more of a play with it in that regard and I’m sure others will too and we will learn about the AirTags mysteries together.
Andrew Walker gets coolest greeting of the decade so far for this. He says, “Hello, Jonathan without a capital B [chuckles]. I have long been interested in the subject of sight and the amount of information which is alleged to be gained from it. In my training as a counselor, this came up time and time again. I went back to study where the claims came from. The most claimed myth I have heard is that 95% of communication comes from sight. This always seems wrong on a common-sense level since put two people in a room together and don’t allow them to speak and progress will be very slow.
I tracked this back to some research done many years ago by a chap called Albert Mehrabian. Now, this is where it gets interesting, since aside from the fact that the 95% rule comes from two experiments carried out in lab conditions, it is not specifically about sight. Instead, the term is non-verbal communication. For most, one might think this means sight, but it doesn’t. It relates to words alone which doesn’t include tone of voice, et cetera. You will also note that this was about communication and not information which are two different things.
In fact, Albert Mehrabian himself has stated that his work has been applied to areas which are unfortunate, and in some ways, he regretted having done the work in the first place. His experiments involved subjects looking at black and white photos and determining the emotional content from them compared to having just words presented. Other work has had similar misinterpretation. Some has taken estimates of bandwidth of visual information, which involves the amount of data passed from the eye to the brain which again has difficulties since the brain processes the raw data very heavily and filters the data so that only important information comes into our minds, otherwise we would be overwhelmed with the amount of data.
Also, there is about a tenth of a second delay between information reaching the brain and being processed which means sighted experience of the world is always in the past. The remarkable thing is that the brain manages to stitch everything together to give an impression of present experience. A cricket batsman, for example, thinks they watch the ball onto the bat, but in reality, they don’t even see the ball from a fast bowler after it has traveled halfway down the pitch.
Now, because of the processing of information, sighted people are prone to miss things, which should be in plain sight. The experiments of the invisible gorilla demonstrate this, where participants in the experiments have to watch a basketball game and count passes, but fail to see someone in an ape suit walking across the court. There is a book called The Invisible Gorilla which explores further the way that sight is an imperfect tool for people. An amazing conclusion in the book is that pilots frequently fail to see an aircraft on the runway when they are coming into land and this has resulted in some of the worst aircraft accidents in history. Why? People see only what they expect to see. The pilot doesn’t expect to see another aircraft on the runway when they are preparing to take off or land since it is very rare, but when it does happen, the pilot might not see the other plane, with catastrophic consequences.
In addition to all this, sighted people have an illusion that they can see everything around them in detail, but they do not. Experiments with eye-tracking have been conducted. Participants were asked to read words on a screen and the software turned all the rest of the words to the letter X when they were looking directly at the word to be read. Most participants did not even notice.
Back to the notion that most information comes from sight, in my view, most of the experiments which have been conducted have been misunderstood and applied incorrectly particularly, in the media. Again, as a counselor, the emphasis on the course on non-verbal communication was disproportionate for two reasons. Firstly, it was perceived to be about sight alone and did not include tone of voice and stress patterns. Secondly and perhaps most importantly that people cannot tell from facial expressions of strangers what they are feeling. Experiments with police officers trying to determine whether people were telling the truth were accurate only 50% of the time. In other words, no better than by random chance.
As you can see, this hits on one of my favorite topics and one I find fascinating. According to the textbook, as a totally blind counselor, I would be absolutely hopeless, but in fact, I was generally accepted as being the best on the course. In my moments of smugness, I like to think that this was because I am blind and not misled by sight. I would urge anyone who comes across claims of sight being a prime means of information gathering, education, or communication to go back and read the original papers and not rely on second-hand reinterpretations which have become myths in popular culture.”
That is a great post. Thank you so much for sending it in.
Matthew Horspool writes, “Hi, Jonathan, a superb tip about the IRIC.” Thank you very much. “I’ve actually been running this sort of setup for years now, but have no idea where it came from. In a collection of old cables, I found one with a TRRS jack at one end and three RCA jacks at the other, one input, two outputs. I’ve been successfully using this via one of the aux sends of my mixer, but it doesn’t attenuate the signal so I’ve had to run it with the level set at almost zero on A/D converters, don’t quote me.” Oh, should I not read the rest of this email then.
“I’m sure I heard somewhere that in fact, the lightning specification includes analog audio, so in fact, the lightning to 3.5-millimeter adapter doesn’t have A/D built-in. It just makes the relevant connections for analog over lightening. Thus the A/D conversion takes place in the iPhone itself. This would not be the case when connecting say a USB audio interface. Where the A/D conversion would happen at the interface and the iPhone would receive a digital signal in the first place.
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Jonathan: Gordon writes, “Hi, Jonathan, I’ve only recently discovered your podcast. My apologies if someone else has already mentioned this. Daylight saving has been a topic of much debate in the UK for as long as I can remember with much of the problem stemming from the general north/south orientation of Great Britain. Hours of daylight vary quite a bit between Northern Scotland and Southern England. Back in the 1960s, the UK government decided to trial not changing the clocks in October, leaving the whole UK on British Summer Time instead of Greenwich Mean Time as usually happens in the winter months.
I was at primary school at the time living in Dundee in Scotland. I can still recall going to school in the dark, all of us wearing specialty purchased reflective orange or yellow armbands and patches stuck to our school bags. It did not become light until 9:00 AM. Because hours of daylight are few, the further north you go, it was also usually dark around 5:00 PM. I can not recall now what reasons were given, but the experiment was abandoned and Greenwich Mean Time was used the following year. I’m still not sure whether the levels of road accidents or levels of power generation were different that year, but it was not popular in Scotland at any rate.
It may have been an adventure for us school kids, but it also meant most workers were traveling in the dark at both ends of the day and the sun, weak as it is during a Scottish winter, had no time at all to alleviate overnight frosts before most began traveling. One hour may not seem like a big deal, but it was certainly memorable for me even after all these years, so it must have made a huge impact on our daily lives for it to stick with me so long. Many of the calls to keep UK clocks in line with Central European Time came from London-based financial organizations who wanted to start work at the same time as European financial markets.
Whether that design remains post-Brexit is as yet unclear, but if it does happen again, it will be those who live further north who will be most affected. Spain and Portugal are, I think, on Central European Time when based on their longitude, they should really be on Greenwich Mean Time, but they are a lot closer to the equator, so it makes less of a difference to them. Being blind, it really makes no difference to me, but when I was losing my sight due to RP, I know that the long hours of twilight here in Scotland meant I always felt I was walking around in near darkness during winter. Not adjusting the clock would have made the situation even worse for me.
I know that this is of historical interest rather than adding much to the discussion, but I thought you might be interested to learn that the UK had experimented with this in the past.”
Thank you, Gordon. That is really interesting. Sometimes the world forgets its history. It’s good to be reminded of things that have been tried before.
Jason says, “Hello, Jonathan, I remember a small exchange that we had over Twitter. Many years ago, I followed you and you congratulated me on being open about being an atheist. A few years later, I was at a point in my life where I had a lot of time on my hands, and I had a chance to really think about it. I finally realized that I had only been calling myself an atheist because I hated being dragged into church every Sunday and being forced to participate in church activities. I now identify as agnostic. I completely agree with you about keeping religion out of places and events where religion is not the primary focus.
I’m a live and let live sort of person, but I prefer not to go to events where someone else’s religion will be shoved in my face.” Thanks, Jason. It really is incredibly inconsiderate. You would think that somebody who doesn’t share someone’s religious convictions would be respectful in going to a place of worship and that the opposite should also be the case. It’s interesting the whole atheism versus agnosticism thing. I’d like to think that if compelling evidence came along that was pretty difficult to ignore, then many atheists would be convinced by facts.
I think many atheists are of the view that, “Look, there’s just been no evidence out there. So based on the evidence that’s out there, this is my position.” It is a fine line between whether one calls oneself an agnostic or an atheist. I suppose in the United States especially, agnostic may be a bit more palatable for some people, but keeping an open mind is important. For example, I heard an interview on the radio some weeks ago that caused me to start reading a book. I’ve been dipping into it, reading it on and off. It’s called After. That’s what it’s called, After. The author is Bruce Greyson, G-R-E-Y-S-O-N.
This book really illustrates for me that science does not yet have all the answers. Science is a constant enquiry, a constant quest for discovery. There are some things that we can’t explain and that we haven’t discovered. Bruce Greyson, the guy who wrote this book, After, is a psychiatrist who accidentally stumbled on someone who had a near-death experience. The first one that he stumbled across was this woman who overdosed when she was a student. The psychiatrist, Bruce Greyson, was talking to a friend of hers about the circumstances in another room and had spilt spaghetti down his tie.
Now, the student was lying comatosed in the other room with an orderly there, some sort of medical person there, confirming that the student was out like a light, as they say. Yet when she came around, she was able to recount the conversation that took place in the next room well out of earshot even though she was comatosed. Also the fact that the guy, the psychiatrist, had something spilled on his tie. There are a number of these experiences. This is a psychiatrist, somebody who is predisposed to being skeptical, and he investigates these near-death experiences. He wants to find some logical explanation, and there are none.
There were several of these that are really very interesting, and it does make you think, I mean, it does. Those things fascinate me. I understand that if you google near-death experiences, there are scientists who claim to have an explanation for all of these, but I’m not sure if they stack up. This is a very interesting book. I am not so locked into a particular world view that I can’t be persuaded by, or at least interested in interesting anecdotes like these. If you’re interested in this topic, do check it out. The book again is just called, After, and it’s by Bruce Greyson.
Jonathan: Once again, it is time for another spectacular, fully prerecorded, Bonnie bulletin.
Bonnie: Hi, guys.
Jonathan: How are you?
Bonnie: Good. Good. Just got back from a lovely romance writers meeting.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s nice. That’s nice. Lots of muffins consumed and romances talked about.
Bonnie: Eclipse went too. If you can hear in the background with her lamb.
Jonathan: Yes. It’s very cute.
Bonnie: Yes. Dear little lamb.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s right. Just like the one that Mary had. That’s tremendous. What kind of experiences have you had at airports, which is one of the things we’ve been talking about today that make you go, “Hmm.”
Bonnie: The ones that really come to mind are airport personnel, just assuming that the guy who happens to be standing in front of you in line or sitting next to you in the waiting area that you may not even have spoken to is your significant other.
Jonathan: You’re right.
Bonnie: That is really embarrassing. I’ve heard that a couple of times. “Oh, is this your husband?” “No.” We’re both like, “No.” It’s really, really embarrassing. That, and then one time, that’s when my dad passed away actually, and I was flying back from New York to Nashville and I was with a couple of friends who had accompanied me to the airport, and the airlines weren’t going to let me on the plane because they’re like, “You can’t go. You can’t be unaccompanied as a minor.” I’m like, “No. Minor?”
Jonathan: Good gracious.
Bonnie: Passport, and then just weird things with the dog and the bulkhead and-
Jonathan: That’s a real nuisance, isn’t it? When they think they’ve got this idea in their head that you have to be put in a bulkhead seat, if you’re a guide dog handler. I know that some guide dog handlers ask for it. They think that everybody wants it.
Bonnie: They think all guide dog handlers ask for it.
Jonathan: Yes. Actually, my experience has been that you can actually have more room if you put the dog in the seat in front.
Bonnie: Yes. It depends on the make of the aircraft because I’ve flown a lot of those little Embraer 130, 135. It’s a small regional jet. Loved them. Probably my favorite airplane. It’s a jet. It’s not a propeller-driven. It’s an actual jet, but it’s small that only carries about 50 people. I’ve flown a lot of those. That’s two seats on one side, one on the other, so there’s no way a dog could fit in the bulkhead on those. Some of them, the dog actually can’t.
I found that if I really take control of the situation and just say, “This is how we’re going to do it,” that they’re fine with it. If you just are polite, but confident, then they back off. I do think the worst one is when they just assume the person you’re with is somehow a relation.
Jonathan: What do you think of pre-boarding?
Bonnie: I don’t have a problem with it. The way I look at it is, if you’re a big Airpoints customer, frequent flyer, you get to pre-board. Why not?
Jonathan: One of the things that I really liked when I flew a lot in the US was Southwest. It was kind of like, you could choose whatever seat you wanted. If they let you go on first, you could get the cool seats. One of the things that interests me about the pre-boarding is the lack of logic that people apply to it. To me, if you’re going to be pre-boarded, and you’re the kind of person that wants that, and I’m not judging that, it’s fine if that’s the assistance you want, then great, but if you do want it, why on earth don’t they realize, “Okay, because we’re going to pre-board this person, we need to put them in the window,” because then what happens is you’re sitting there. If you’ve got a plane that’s three seats across and they put you in the aisle because they think it might be easier for you to find the toilet, and then, of course, everybody gets on and needs you to shift. You’ve got all your gear out.
Bonnie: I think it’s because a lot of people buy window seats. That’s the reason because I know that I was on a JetBlue flight and the flight attendants- because if you fly enough you start to know the crews-
Jonathan: Yes, [crosstalk]
Bonnie: -which is really fun. I got put in the window because of the dog and this man was not happy and in fact, he was a little tough.
Jonathan: We had an airline in New Zealand that went bust eventually. They had a policy of putting all the guide dog handlers in business class because they thought it would be nicer and there was more room.
Bonnie: They used to do that in the States [crosstalk]
Jonathan: Those were the days when you got decent meals in business classes.
Bonnie: Yes. I used to get bumped up all the time because they had more room and that was before they started packing them in like sardines and leaving 40 behind at the gate who were willing to get 800 points or whatever for a later flight.
Jonathan: Then we had one of these wealthy businessmen saying, “Why are all these disabled people up here in business class?”
Bonnie: Did they?
Bonnie: Oh, dear.
Jonathan: Yes. Now, I want to bring another really interesting topic up. Do you remember those old phones that used to be in the back of some seats? I think they usually were in the middle seat if I’m remembering correctly?
Jonathan: They were these credit car phones and I used to think, “Man, it is a cool idea to be able to make a phone call from the plane.”
Bonnie: Not when the person sitting behind you is calling everyone and asking them what the speed of darkness is.
Jonathan: The speed of darkness?
Jonathan: What does that even mean?
Bonnie: I don’t know. I never found out.
Jonathan: Did you make one with one of those?
Bonnie: I was wanting to one time because I was on an earlier flight and I was going to call my mom, because she was picking me up at the airport, to tell her. I thought it would be really cool to call from the plane, but I couldn’t. The flight attendant just said, “Oh, here’s where you put the credit card,” and left. It wasn’t very accessible.
Jonathan: That’s a shame because now there’s no technical reason why we can’t make calls on planes. In fact, first what we got on some flights, I remember my first flight with the internet on was a Lufthansa flight, in I believe it was 2006 or something like that.
Bonnie: They got dead-gorgeous crews.
Jonathan: It was a long time ago. Lufthansa would know.
Jonathan: I was on Lufthansa, and I was able to do all sorts of cool things on a very long-haul flight and it’s become more common. You can also now, thanks to some cells that are put on board the plane, if they wanted, you could make phone calls. The FCC did these inquiries into whether you should be able to make phone calls on a plane or not. Apparently, there was all these people who said, “No, we don’t want people making calls on the flight.”
Now, what they do of course is that they block various ports and protocols so that you can’t use technology like Skype and FaceTime and Zoom to make calls with data on the plane that you buy with your in-flight WiFi. I’ve had it on my list of things to mention my kind of, “Mm, this would be a good idea to talk about on Mosen at Large list since December.” Because apparently, the FCC has now made a final determination that you will not be allowed to make phone calls on planes.
The journalist who wrote this particular story that I clipped out to talk about this, was so biased about it. He basically said, “You’ll be pleased to hear that this–” I object to this. I think this is a fundamental infringement of civil liberties.
Bonnie: I think it could get really annoying. You’re up there 35,000 feet. There’s nowhere to go.
Jonathan: How is it any different from being on the bus where people make calls on the bus all the time and people survive.
Bonnie: Well, you’re usually probably not going to be on the bus for 8 to 10 hours, unless [crosstalk]
Jonathan: That’s not necessarily true. You can go on a long Greyhound trip or what about Amtrak? People make calls on long Amtrak trips all the time.
Bonnie: The interesting thing is, because I did an eight-hour trip on the Amtrak, very few people use the phone.
Bonnie: I don’t know how many would use it in the plane.
Jonathan: Exactly. For those who want to and need to, why couldn’t you have parts of the aircraft that are no phone zones?
Bonnie: They could just have a little room where you could go in.
Jonathan: Yes, or something like that but to just say no one should make phone calls on a flight, I just think that’s an infringement of civil liberties that is.
Bonnie: I don’t know. Honestly, it doesn’t even bother me.
Jonathan: It bothers me. I want to be able to make a call.
Bonnie: [chuckles] I don’t care anymore.
Jonathan: It’s hard for me sometimes depending on the hearing technology in the plane and everything. It can be quite difficult to talk to the person next to you because of noise of the plane and stuff. If I want to very quietly talk on my phone to someone via Skype or whatever, I don’t use Skype, I haven’t used Skype for years, but whatever technology there is, then why not? What harm is it actually doing? How is it different from talking to your neighbor who’s sitting next to you, if you’re just talking to someone on the phone?
Bonnie: Well, the interesting is people- there’s a lot of chattering before the plane takes off and then when it lands, but I hear very few conversations in the air.
Jonathan: Yes, because people just get soothed, don’t they?
Bonnie: Yes. That’s my time when I fly. I compare it to- It’s like my meditation time because I’m neither here nor there. I’m just somewhere.
Jonathan: Halfway up the stairs.
Bonnie: I’m just there. It’s my thinking time. I don’t know how to explain it. I’ve always felt that way, but that’s just–
Jonathan: I’ve got no problem with that, but should you be allowed to impose on what I want to do with my time on the plane? No, you should not.
Bonnie: Flight attendants probably don’t get paid what they’re worth because-
Jonathan: What’s that got to do with my ability to make a phone call?
Bonnie: -they deal with a lot of crap. You get some people have had a little too much. They’re up there yelling on the phone. They’re telling them to be quiet. They’re getting angry. I don’t know. I just think it could–
Jonathan: You could be yelling at your seat neighbor.
Bonnie: Yes, you could and they would come and tell you not to.
Jonathan: Exactly, so there’s no difference.
Bonnie: I don’t know. I personally don’t have a problem with it either way.
Jonathan: Well, I have had a lot of fun over the years using different things like VPNs and different things. I remember how happy I was when I got Roger. Remember Roger?
Bonnie: Yes. They blocked it.
Jonathan: The Roger app to work on the plane. I think you were with me on that flight.
Bonnie: I was, and then it stopped working.
Jonathan: Then it stopped working, but I got Roger to work. We were sending messages from the plane and people were saying, “Dude, that’s cool. You’re sending these messages on the plane. I do remember using Skype on that first Lufthansa flight. That was pretty cool.
Bonnie: With the drop-dead gorgeous crews.
Jonathan: Why do you think that Lufthansa crew–
Bonnie: Because I know this for a fact.
Jonathan: Now, for goodness sake.
Bonnie: I do. I know this for an absolute fact.
Jonathan:Oh yeah right. What do you think of the AirTags?
Bonnie: They’re cool. It was really cool listening to the podcast. If you haven’t heard it yet, it was really, really, really cool.
Jonathan: You going to get any?
Bonnie: Maybe. [crosstalk]
Jonathan: We’ve still got two sitting here on the desk in case you want one.
Bonnie: Definitely I’ll put one in luggage and stuff the next time we travel.
Jonathan: Yes. It’s just so amazing.
Bonnie: Whenever we travel.
Jonathan: Yes. I’m sure we will. I’m sure we’ll get around to that.
What I find interesting, and I do feel a little bit sorry for Apple, I have to say, they just made $89 billion in the last quarter. I’m not feeling too sorry for them. Isn’t it interesting, some of these technologies like tile have been around for a long time but what happens when Apple enters any market is that that market suddenly gets much more scrutiny? People are raising issues that have been real issues for a long time, like, “What if these devices are misused by domestic abusers, and stalkers and various things like that?” Well, they’ve had access to tile-
Bonnie: In any government.
Jonathan: -for years. [laughs] It feels like people jump on things when Apple gets involved and really, they’re entering quite a mature market with these trackers.
Bonnie: It’s just because they’re big, and-
Jonathan: Big and shiny.
Bonnie: -popularity breeds contempt.
Jonathan: I suppose also because when Apple adopts something, it’s going to be adopted by a lot of consumers, isn’t it? It takes it more mainstream. Anyway. Anything else you wanted to cover?
Bonnie: Derby weekend, we just had the Oaks earlier today, the Kentucky Oaks which is the Philly race.
Jonathan: I didn’t want to cover too much of that because by the time most people hear this, because most people listen on the podcast, the derby will have begun.
Bonnie: It will have run. It will be in the books, so looking forward, 19 horses going to the gate tomorrow, or 1st Saturday in May whenever you hear this, we will know who won. I’m riding high on Bourbonic who was a long shot.
Jonathan: We know where the Sheikh’s horse is but where is his daughter?
Bonnie: Where’s his daughter?
Jonathan: That’s what they say at the New York Times.
Bonnie: There may be some protests there. I’m not even sure the Sheikh will be at the derby. I don’t know that he comes necessarily.
Jonathan: Well, I’m sure he’ll be interested in how his horse does. Fantastic. Well, thank you for another Bonnie Bulletin. We look forward to next week’s.
Bonnie: Okay. Bye.
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John Moore: Hi, this is John Moore, one of your fellow listeners to the Mosen At Large podcast. On June 5th, I will be raising money for Give Kids the World Village, an organization that seeks to give terminally ill children and their families a week away from hospital treatments and other worries for an all-expenses-paid one-week vacation in Central Florida. Every holiday is celebrated during the week and day trips to Central Florida theme parks including Disney World are optional. The kids also have access to rides that are wheelchair accessible, unlimited ice cream, and other perks.
I will be going to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari theme park in Santa Claus, Indiana to participate in an event called Coasting for Kids, an event where the roller coaster enthusiast community raises money for this awesome cause. Among other things, I will be attempting to ride the second-longest wooden roller coaster in the world called The Voyage, which is over 6,000 feet long for the equivalent of 26 miles. I will also be participating in a water slide race and several other events to benefit this wonderful cause.
A link will be provided to my donation page, and I would appreciate any and all contributions that you can provide. If I raise $2,500 or more, I will ride a roller coaster called The Thunderbird, which is a roller coaster that goes from 0 to 62 miles per hour in about three seconds. I’ve always been scared of those types of rides, but I will do it if people donate enough money. I’m not trying to brag personally by doing that. I hope I don’t come across that way.
Any and all contributions are greatly appreciated and I will be sending updates throughout the month as it gets closer. I will possibly also be doing a live stream of the opening ceremonies of this event on my personal Icecast server, thanks to Backpack Studio. Thank you in advance for your donation.
Jonathan: Thank you, John. Thank you for letting us know about this organization, about the fundraising initiative that you have decided to undertake. There will be some in the Mosen At Large family who just don’t have a lot of money to spare, but there will be those who do have some. I think between us, given the wide reach that we have, we could really make a difference for these kids and their parents who must be going through a living hell and bring a little bit of joy into their lives.
If you can give a little, please do. I will include the link in the show notes. If you’re listening to the show live today, I will tweet that link, and I will also put it in the chat that goes out to our YouTube and Facebook streams. I know that John, those kids and their family would appreciate it if you have a few bucks to spare. I have done this myself. You can use any major credit card. You can also use PayPal as well if you want.
It’s always good to welcome someone new into the fold. Alie writes, “Hi, Jonathan. I came across your podcast very recently, thanks to the iOS podcast app, which suggests to me content I might find interesting, demonstrating Apple’s uncanny talent of always being right. I’m sorry to have been a latecomer to the party since I have really enjoyed the episodes I have listened to thus far. Regarding TTS engines, I absolutely love Keynote Gold, but I very much fear I may well be the only person on the planet who does. In fact, I love it so much, I refuse to read books using any other voice.
I have recorded audio files of all of my books in Keynote Gold so that I can read using this voice on other devices such as my Victor Reader stream. I was destroyed when Humanware shelved Keynote Gold with the release of the BrailleNote Touch. I sent what I considered to be a very heartfelt email to Humanware in the not too distant past, imploring them to take steps to make it available on Windows. I received no response whatsoever. Do you see any way this may be achieved? Or am I on a hiding to nothing? I wonder if there are any other kindred spirits out there who might stand with me in the struggle?
There used to be some kind of driver for Windows, which made Keynote Gold available. Do you know anything about it? My research indicates it is both incompatible with Windows 10 and in any event, no longer available. I also love Eloquence and cannot use JAWS without it. When I switch to any other voice primarily for amusement, I become impatient very quickly at its unresponsiveness.
One thing about Eloquence is somewhat irritating to me, which is that it doesn’t always read questions correctly. When a sentence ends in a question mark, it is supposed to speak as if it is a question. It sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t, unlike with exclamation marks where it is always consistently good. For example, the following question is not read out as a question. How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?
Regarding the use of language, I recently attended a course at university here in England, where I discovered that tutors have been told not to use the word “brainstorm” as it has been deemed offensive to people who have epilepsy. Similarly, the phrase “nitty-gritty” is no longer permitted because it has connotations relating to the West African slave trade, and a local council employee was sacked for using it. I think this was overly harsh, as I very much doubt he meant any harm, and a dismissal in such circumstances seemed entirely disproportionate.
However, I welcome the changes and the attempts, however, isolated they seem to be to educate society in this regard. I was surprised therefore when my university lecturer said something to the effect that we were going too far since if you have to Google something before being offended by it, chances are it isn’t really offensive. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this. Exactly, how far do you think we should go?
Clearly, there will be terms out there in everyday use, that whose origins or original uses are very unattractive. For example, I believe the word “blimey” is shortened from “blind me”. If that term is used the origin of which is such as I described, do you think it should be got rid of so to speak?”
Thanks for your message, Ali. You are not alone in your liking of Keynote Gold. To be fair, I haven’t heard Keynote Gold for years. You may or may not know that I was the blindness product manager at Humanware for some time. Even before that, because Keynote Gold comes from New Zealand, it was devised by Pulse Data International, which is a New Zealand company. I had a close relationship with Pulse Data since I was a youngster. I saw technologies like Keynote, and Master Touch, and BrailleNote evolve. I would often be asked for advice and used as an internal tester for some of these products. I loved Keynote Gold. Now, I was responsible for introducing Eloquence into BrailleNote mPower That’s because we did get a significant amount of feedback from people demanding it, and you’ve got to give the customers what they want. When I was a BrailleNote user, I consistently used Keynote Gold.
Back in the day, I actually had a Keynote card that you would put inside your computer, a hardware speech synthesizer. Then I had a thing called the Keynote SA, which was a box that connected through an RS-232 serial port, and eventually, we got the Keynote Gold software package. I don’t remember much about it, except that it did install on Windows. You could use it with JAWS. It was protected, I believe, with the Everlock technology. I’m almost certain that it was never ported to 64 bit, which will be the issue at this stage.
It is a shame. It was a very responsive text-to-speech engine and I thought its pronunciation was really accurate. It wasn’t very natural sounding. It sounded a bit robotic, I suppose, but it certainly asked questions properly, didn’t it? each and every time. I could crank that up and really proofread accurately with it. No, you’re not alone but sadly, I think its days are behind us.
Your questions about language are eminently fair. I think what happens is that when somebody like me points out very blatant Ableist language, like the piece on our public broadcaster where the word “blind” was repeatedly used to mean ignorant, unaware, not on top of one’s game, then people start bringing up the thin end of the wedge arguments.
My response to this is that it should be up to the group who feels denigrated to make their case.
When Ableist language is used against us or racist language is used against us, we are victims. There are many examples in society where we are told rightly so we should always give the victims the benefit of the doubt. Why aren’t we doing that in the case of language? Language offenses can have very serious consequences. Words really do matter. My answer is if nobody who was blind is complaining about the word “blimey”, and I wasn’t aware of its etymology, and I will need to look that up to verify, then I would say, “Leave it alone.”
It’s a far cry from using the word “blind” as a pejorative, which is what we are talking about. We’re awakening, aren’t we? We are hearing now from minorities who have silently put up for years with language that denigrates them. It’s a reckoning for sure, but it’s a reckoning that is long overdue.
Jonathan: Quite a bit of feedback coming in on the Sonos Roam. Let’s listen to some of that. First of all, Jackie Brown says, “Hi, Jonathan, I hope you and Bonnie are well. I enjoyed your review of the Sonos Roam. I received mine last week, and like you I’m very pleased with it. I have a move as well, which has fantastic sound, but bought the Roam for the bathroom on occasions when I want to listen to what’s happening in the world while in the shower. I purchased the separate wireless charging pad, which, as you might imagine, works beautifully with the Roam. Congratulations on securing funding for the at-large transcriptions, which is such great news that the podcast can be opened up to those who would otherwise be missing out on a very enjoyable and informative program.”
Thank you, Jackie. I appreciate that. Good to know you are rocking your Sonos Roam. It does seem that quite a few blind people have purchased it and seem pretty happy with it. I did get a really interesting tweet during last week’s show, from somebody who said that they were required to enter some pin to set their Roam up. As you heard on my demonstration, that was not the case for me.
Apparently, there is reference to this on Sonos’s website that you will be asked to enter a pin. Apparently, this person was saying that “I had difficulty with it. It was a difficult process.” That’s very unlike Sonos to put those barriers in front of a blind user, but I didn’t see that as you know, when I was setting mine up.
Derry Lawler is writing in. He says, “Hi, Jonathan, loved your really good review of the Sonos Roam. I got one from Martha for our anniversary, and must say, love it so much. I also bought the wireless charger. Yes, it is good. I also have the Sonos Play:5 third-generation, which is cool, too.” He signs off by saying, “Hope you and all are well.” Thank you, Derry. We are very well.
Congratulations to you and Martha on your wedding anniversary. Particularly congratulations to Martha, I have to say. I remember when Martha was making you a cake and I think it was a Christmas cake. This is something that Bonnie still refers to because she remembers you saying, “While it’s in the oven, it’s Martha’s. Once it’s out of the oven, it’s mine.” Bonnie always still chuckles about that. Glad you’re enjoying the Roam. It’s a lovely piece of equipment. Grace Lakin also got in touch to say that she enjoyed the demonstration of the Sonos Roam and that it does sound like it has a lovely tone. Yes, it’s a very good sound for the size. Remarkably small, but a very big sound.
While we’re on the subject of Sonos, Nolan writes in to say, “Hello, Jonathan. I am writing to connect with you because I’ve run into problems agreeing to some terms and conditions of the Sonos iOS application. I have both the Sonos S1 app and the Sonos S2 app also installed on my iPhone. The one I’m concerned about right now is the Sonos S2 iOS application. Voice-over won’t behave properly when trying to agree to the terms and conditions. I cannot find any checkboxes to check using voice-over. I am running iOS 14.4.2 on an iPhone XR.”
Thank you, Nolan. I saw this when I migrated from S1 to S2. I cannot remember how I fixed it. I’m hoping somebody can get in touch, who’s done it more recently than I have and just give us a bit of a memory jogger. I think you may have to actually view the terms and conditions first. That’s possibly what I did. I do remember finding it a bit of a chore. It wasn’t intuitive but I was able to get it done without cited assistance.
You’re asking in your email whether you should get cited assistance. My answer is it’s doable, but if it’s not intuitive, and you do have some cited assistance to hand, then yes, go ahead and do that. Just get it out of the way so you can enjoy using your Sonos products on S2. I think it would be good for us to just alert Sonos to the facts that whatever one has to do, and I do wish I could remember what I did to get past this, it’s not hugely intuitive.
The man who asks questions for a living, Gary O’Donoghue was in touch and says, “What a great review of the new Sonos Roam. One question I’m curious about, when in Bluetooth mode, can it be used as a speakerphone to invoke Siri to make and answer phone calls?” No is the answer, I believe, Gary. It’s certainly the case that there is no speakerphone functionality in the Sonos Roam. This is because they have implemented a hi-fi Bluetooth standard designed specifically for music.
They haven’t gone back and done any other protocols including the speakerphone thing. It looks as if you cannot invoke Siri with the Sonos Roam when it’s in speakerphone mode.
Neither of these are showstopping things for me, but I realized that some other speakers do it so it may influence other people’s purchasing decisions. Good question, Gary. Good question is what I say.
I would like to add a bit of an addendum to my comment on Bluetooth that I included in last week’s Sonos Roam review because I’m not sure if I made this particular feature of the Roam clear. In retrospect, it’s actually quite an exciting feature and it could be a significant reason to purchase one in certain circumstances. When you are in Bluetooth mode, and you’ve paired with a Bluetooth device, you can then press and hold the play button for a second or so and group that Bluetooth device with your Sonos network if you are in range of the Sonos network.
Now, what that means is that you can take any Bluetooth-capable device and use it as input for your entire Sonos system. This is very exciting. Let me give you a practical example of this. Let’s say that you have a laptop that is Bluetooth-capable and you pair your laptop with your Sonos Roam, you’re using JAWS with it or playing music with it and you want that to be heard all over your house on other Sonos speakers, this is the first Sonos product that allows you to group a Bluetooth source with everything else.
Now, you could, with certain devices, get line in through the Sonos Five or the Sonos Port or a similar device like that, and run a cable to the headphone jack. If you want to do this with Bluetooth, then the Sonos Roam is an essential companion to add to your Sonos system. Genius.
Caller 1: Hi, Jonathan. I loved your podcast. What has changed in Clubhouse since you did a very good podcast on it? I’m looking to join. I’m wondering what the improvements are.
Jonathan: There are a bunch of minor incremental improvements. They’re definitely doing a little bit of work on accessibility with each release, and it sounds like a lot more is on the horizon. Clubhouse just announced another round of venture capital funding, and they have said that one use to which they will put this new money is improved accessibility. I’m not sure how much of that will be screen-reader accessibility because they are also facing considerable pressure from the deaf community to get some form of captioning working on Clubhouse, but maybe we will see further improvements from a screen-reader perspective.
I think the biggest thing that has changed since episode 99 is that it is much easier now to accept a speaker invitation. Before you might have heard a tone, you might’ve been able to find the banner on the screen, but a lot of people had to go into their own profile and choose the “accept invitation” option. It was a bit unwieldy, but now it’s really clear. You get an invitation that pops up when you’re invited to speak. It doesn’t disappear until you deal with that invitation. That makes participation in rooms much, much easier.
Also, in the most recent release of Clubhouse, they have changed the default audio quality to use a little bit more bandwidth, and so Clubhouse just sounds slightly less AM talk radio-like overall. There is still a way to get better audio quality. We cover this in episode 109 of Mosen At Large. If you are going to take the time to connect a good quality microphone or a Zoom PodTrak P4 or an iRig 2 Guitar Multimedia Interface for the iPhone and the iPad, then you want to show that off in the best possible light.
The way to do that, when you have accepted a speaker invitation, is to double-tap the room actions button. When you’re on stage, there will be a button there that allows you to choose your audio quality. It has now gone up from the default of low to medium, I think, now. You can still go one step higher and turn higher quality on Clubhouse on. That is much nicer audio, as I say, particularly if you have a decent microphone.
Your message is timely because I think it would be useful to check in with the Mosen At Large family and find out how your use of Clubhouse is going. I used it quite a bit when I first got on it. Partly, that’s because it was a new shiny thing but I think also the fact that you have to work a little hard to get on there because it’s an invitation-only platform, means that when you do make it, you want to use it.
As I think I said in episode 99, there’s an opportunity cost of using Clubhouse. If you’re on Clubhouse doing something, you’re not doing other things such as reading books or listening to podcasts, or even hanging out with your significant other, finding out about their day, and just being generally sociable. Imagine that. I’ve also found the notifications on Clubhouse quite spammy and annoying and intrusive after a while.
I’ve gone to the very infrequent setting, which means that if I want to find out what’s going on on Clubhouse, I really have to go into the bulletin or the hallway and look because I have a really busy day job and just hearing Clubhouse constantly going off sometimes with multiple notifications about the same Clubhouse event, it was distracting and frustrating. I think Clubhouse needs to do a lot of work on notifications.
I also wonder if usage is just trending a bit downwards. That’s the perception I have. I think the signal-to-noise ratio may be getting worse. There’s still some very good conversations to be had on Clubhouse if you go looking for them, but there are also a lot of financial charlatans, “get rich quick” and all sorts of things. Sadly, and inevitably in this day and age, they are having to combat some pretty horrible racism and misogyny on the platform as well.
I’m not using it as much as I did. We still stream Mosen At Large on Clubhouse, and The Blind Podmaker Clubhouse room is going really well with The Blind Podcasters’ Roundtable. I do pop on from time to time when I’m feeling like having a chat, but I’m definitely not checking into it as much as I used to. I wonder if that’s the case for you as well, or whether for you, Clubhouse is as big as it ever was. Let me know what you think. Email me with an audio attachment or write it down, send it into email@example.com. The listener line number, if you wish to use that, is 864-60Mosen, 864-606-6736.
Jonathan: Luis is emailing in and says, “Hi, Jonathan. I am interested in buying a video doorbell for my office. Could you please recommend one which is accessible from my iPhone?” First of all, I would say we have quite a reservoir now of content with all the episodes that we’ve done. It’s a good idea to search the archives. I searched the archives for example, for doorbell, and I found that in episode 31 of the podcast, Steve Bauer reviewed the Nest, as in N-E-S-T, Video Doorbell from Google. You can go back and listen to that demo in episode 31 of the podcast. It’s a really good demo and it sounds very good.
I have the Ring Video Doorbell, as in R-I-N-G. It’s an Amazon company. I have to say that if I had to do it again, I would not buy another Ring Video Doorbell. The app is okay. It’s not super intuitive to me, whether I’m on the other side of town at my office or on the other side of the world. In Days when we did that sort of thing, I can talk to whoever’s at the door, but I don’t think the audio quality is very good. If you listen to Steve Bauer’s demo of the Nest Video Doorbell, it sounds to me like the quality of the audio from that is better than the quality of the Ring Video Doorbell, and we have the pro version. It’s all hardwired in and good stuff like that.
They are the only two that I know of. If anyone wants to update us with other video doorbells they have tried, how accessible they are from the iPhone, and what the audio quality is like, if you’re talking to someone, then that would be good. Ring’s okay. You can choose different rings that it makes on your phone when someone pushes the button so it may be adequate for what you are looking for.
Now, of course, I would be very happy to demonstrate this Ring Video Doorbell Pro to you. If only somebody would come to the door, but nobody ever comes to my door and visit.
Alex: Ring: There is motion at your front door.
Jonathan: There’s motion at my front door. I wonder if someone’s going to ring the bell. That’d be pretty exciting if we got the– You get that motion when somebody walks up that- [doorbell rings]
There it goes. It cut off, but there’s the doorbell. Why don’t I go to the top here?
Alex: 69% on notification center, ring grouped. Now, bell, someone is at your front door.
Jonathan: I’ll double-tap.
Alex: Ring now. Bell, someone is at your–
Jonathan: I’ll double-tap again and that has opened the Ring App, and now, we’ll flick right.
Alex: Settings, front door, end call, accept call.
Jonathan: Accept call.
Alex: Accept call. Close button.
Jonathan: Hello? Who’s that at the front door talking?
Bonnie: It’s the big, bad wolf.
Jonathan: The big bad wolf, you sound very distorted on there. Are you talking right up to the doorbell?
Bonnie: I am.
Jonathan: You might want to back off the doorbell. You sound like you’re a dalic.
Bonnie: How’s that?
Jonathan: It’s a bit better. How do I sound to you?
Bonnie: You sound fine.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s good. You must’ve been right up at the door because it sounded quite distorted, but now, that doesn’t sound too bad, I suppose. Maybe they’ve improved the audio a little bit since I last played with it.
Bonnie: Can I come in?
Jonathan: We can hear the birds out there.
Bonnie: Yes, and the traffic.
Jonathan: It works like a VOX system, so when I talk, you cut out and when I stop talking, you come back.
Say a few more things so that we can get a good feel for this doorbell.
Bonnie: I’m the big, bad Wolf, so little pig, little pig, let me in.
Jonathan: All right. I suppose we’ll let you in, but that audio is pretty bad actually. It sounds quite over-modulated, which is something I hadn’t noticed before. Well, goodbye to you.
Jonathan: Now, I’ll push the-
Alex: Mute speaker. End call.
Jonathan: -end call. Now we’ve closed the Ring call. I won’t take you on a big tour of the app, but I don’t know whether there’s a way now to adjust the mic because that mic was at a very high level. You could hear the over-modulation. I guess we’re not expecting super-duper audio for a doorbell, but it could be better. Of course, if you have your front door set, then if you’re expecting, say a cleaning person, or maybe somebody who’s going to leave a package, then if you’ve got an accessible door lock, say that’s HomeKit compatible, and the Ring Video Doorbell at the moment is not HomeKit compatible, even though they’ve been promising it for a while, then you would be able to open the door and let somebody in remotely.
It’s quite powerful stuff, but I’m not overly impressed with the audio from that Ring Video Doorbell. Andy is writing in about Tristan’s email, although he does call her Christen, but that’s okay because I’m sure she’s been called worse. Anyway. “Hi, Jonathan. Tristan-” I’ll correct it, “-in her email touched on something pivotal in my childhood. My hometown was absolutely racially homogenous. The only diversity was in which Christian camp you were born to. There were childhood torn between these factions. In my school for the blind, such religious differentiation seemed less common.
It seems that we were able to find other ways of being cruel to one another. One was racial. Yes, this was the 1960s, and we all overheard those sorts of remarks. When I was maybe 12 years old, I caught myself short while mocking a Black girl. It was common to imitate each other’s speech, but I horrified myself when I called her a not uncommon word. At that moment, I was truly embarrassed and enlightened. I frequently recall this incident whenever I contemplate saying something injurious to, or about those who differ from me as to their race, intellect, or politics.”
Thanks, Andy. I tell you what, kids can be extremely cruel. I think that many of us look back at kids who were less smart than us or in some ways different from us and feel really ashamed. Of course, many of us may have been the victim of that as well. I think one of the things that I found hardest to deal with when I went to a mainstream school for the first time, because I went to a school for the blind for about the first, I think, seven years of my education and then was mainstreamed for the rest of it, is the teasing and the bullying that went on.
It’s not something that I often hear talked about, but we would have girls in that situation who would come up and touch the genitals of blind boys and then run away. You wouldn’t know who it was this time, and nobody would take you seriously about that stuff. I think one of the good things about mainstreaming is, of course, the family connection that hopefully ensues by being a kid like everybody else who goes to their local school and comes home and hangs out with their family at night.
Hopefully, we’ve become a lot better about dealing with bullying because if you reported that sort of thing when I was going to school and that’s a long time ago, now, you were a snitch, you were a narc, you were ostracized for reporting these things. I remember one technique that I did adopt to deal with the bullying of the nature that I was talking about was I would be ready with my cane and would lash out before the person had a chance to run away. I
actually got into trouble for that, but it was the only way that I could find to administer some vigilante blind justice before the person ran away. There would obviously be other people who could see who was doing this and what was going on, but they wouldn’t tell, they didn’t want to be a snitch or a narc. Sometimes, if you did get to the point where enough was enough and you tried to raise the issue, you were told to toughen up, “Oh, just ignore them and they’ll go away. They’ll get bored.”
Yes, I think all kids can be cruel, and I think bullying of disabled kids in a mainstream environment is a really real thing, or at least it was. I like to think that we’re all more enlightened these days, but I would be surprised if that were the case. I just hope that a much better climate exists for people to report it, and for it to be taken more seriously than it once was.
Speaker 3: On Twitter, follow MosenAtLarge for information about the podcast, the latest tech news, and links to things we talk about on the podcast. That’s MosenAtLarge, all one word on Twitter.
Jesse: Hello, Jonathan and Mosen At Large listeners. This is Jesse from Canada. I just wanted to chime in on what you were saying earlier about your feelings, about being a blind grandfather. When we were expecting my son, we were told that there was probably a 50% chance that he could be blind like I was, and that didn’t really bother me. I thought that would be cool for a lot of the same reasons that you gave. Now, he did end up being sighted, but it was just nice to know that either way I could still bond with my son and interact with him, that I didn’t have to be worried or have a negative view about him potentially being blind.
Jonathan: Stefan is writing in and says, “Hi, Jonathan, the COVID situation has brought into sharp focus, the need to think about physical, as well as mental fitness. We are looking at possible options for exercise equipment for the home, probably an exercise bike. I was wondering if you or anyone within the hive mind knows of accessible machines, possibly with speech output available to purchase. Some of these machines seem to run on some sort of Android OS. Theoretically, it could be possible to install talkback, maybe.”
Thanks, Stefan. This comes up from time to time, and we had a bit of a discussion sometime back, I believe, on Mosen At Large about the Peloton bikes. You might want to search on that and find that episode. My understanding is that Peloton have now made their bikes accessible thanks to essentially what you said, talkback being built into the bike. If it is specifically a bike that you’re after and Peloton is available where you are, sadly, they are not available in New Zealand, maybe check them out.
If anybody else has any thoughts on accessible exercise equipment, if you have a Peleton bike and you’re in a position to give us a bit of a demo of it, that would be super cool. I did reach out to Peloton when the accessibility of their bike was announced to see if they would come on the show and tell us about it. They did not reply, unfortunately. I’d really be interested in hearing a demo.
Here is Joy Tilton writing in saying, “I am in the midst of listening to the latest podcast, and one thing that makes me cringe and grit my teeth in utter disgust is when people refer to braille with a lowercase B as a language. It is no more a language than print is, but yes, another way of writing as print is. Yes, I can see calling it a code, and even then there are several braille codes out there, including different codes for different languages, but we are blurring the word “language” when we try to state that braille is a language when it is not nor should it ever be considered as such.
As for whether braille should be capitalized, I can see a reasoning to capitalizing out of respect for Louis Braille. On the other hand, in the mainstream world, I don’t see print capitalized. Even as braille was an invention for those of us who are blind to read and write and was named after Braille, I just can’t see a must for capitalizing the word in everyday language any more than I can see the word “print” capitalized, or “speech” for that matter.”
Well, I’m going to stop reading this email because I hear this trotted out all the time, and I’m over being polite about this. There is no Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. Print, and there is no Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. Speech. On the other hand, there was a Mr. Morse, and Morse code is capitalized. There was also a Mr. Celsius and Celsius is capitalized. To try and equate the fact that print isn’t capitalized when a Mr. Print didn’t invent it, is just completely nebulous. It is nebulous and it’s disrespectful not to capitalize the code that was invented by somebody who actually went through a hell of a lot to give us this priceless gift that many of us use everyday. I, for one, would not have been able to do any, any, of the jobs that I have held in my life without Mr. Braille’s code and his sacrifice. Mr. Print, not so much.
“Braille,” says Joy, “is another way of communicating. I guess I have no problem either way as far as capitalizing versus not capitalizing braille, but for God’s sake-” she says, in full reverb, oh, I see “-but for God’s sake, DO NOT-” in blocked capitals, “call braille a language.” Frustrated scream, in parenthesis. [scream]
Jonathan: To contribute to Mosen At Large, you can email Jonathan- that’s J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N -@mushroomfm.com by writing something down or attaching an audio file, or you can call our listener line. It’s a US number, 864-60Mosen. That’s 864-606-6736.
[02:21:41] [END OF AUDIO]