Time to Watch Some TV

Hi, guys! Lin is crazy busy with all of the new FaceBook members so she asked me to do some work! I have an assignment. Actually, a couple of them. Oy. [Lin/Linda: ah, who started this project, eh? ::grin::]

My first assignment is to put together a page on watching TV. Now personally, I watch practically no TV. TV watching is something I know nothing about.

Like I am not a domestic goddess, I am not an entertainment maven. However, I do a wicked web search, so let us see what the experts say!

First of all, no matter what your parents said, watching TV close to the screen does not – I repeat, NOT – damage your eyes. I have it on good authority, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says so.

What does that mean for you? Move up as close as you need to. Magnification is just about the best thing we can do to help us see better right now and getting closer is a way of making things appear bigger.

And speaking of magnification, Max TV glasses are called Max TV for a reason. They were made for watching television. If I do have something to watch on a screen, this is the way I usually go.

I realize some of this stuff is expensive. I got my Max TV glasses for free. You may have to pay $170 or about a third of that for the knockoff brand. Either of those sums can be prohibitive.  [Lin/Linda here: I guess Sue forgot that she wrote a page called Comparison Shopping where she talks about less expensive MaxTV-like glasses that she found.

The Near Sighted VR app for your Android cell phone magnifies and it is free. I just tried it again with my cardboard ‘goggles’, however, and I still get a shimmer. As motion sick as I can get, I am not doing a shimmer (Shimmy, yes. Shimmer, no). Since downloading the app and trying it on your cell phone will cost you only time, I would suggest downloading the app and trying it. Lin can give us a link to the cardboard box ‘goggles’ that are needed.

Those are your magnification options. Oh, also remember if you need a new TV, get the biggest screen you can afford. Ask the salesperson about good, not famous brand products.  And in this instance, size really does matter!? Oh, my! Did I say that?

Now for this stuff you may need a teen. Preferably a male, but some girls are excellent at this too. Not sure if that is sexist or not. Oh, well… [Lin/Linda: in my household, it is ME who takes care of the electronics…watch what you say!]

Many, many TV shows and movies now come with audio description. I did a couple of pages on this and Lin can provide the links. Pretty please and thank you! Just like closed captions, audio description is embedded and you have to enable that function. Do I know how? Of course not. That is why I would need to borrow a teen from someone. They could do it in 30 seconds. It would probably take me 30 hours!  [Sue’s pages on audio description: Enjoy the Show! and Wanted: Tech Savvy Teen.]

Just some thought about getting more out of TV even when you have low vision. Anyone have any other ideas?

Oh, PS, remotes. Keep them in the same place at all times! Otherwise, your program can be over before you even find the dang thing.

written August 16th, 2017 Continue reading “Time to Watch Some TV”

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Did You Drop Something?

Just came from lunch with high school friends. They actually drove 80 miles to visit! Thanks, ladies! Love you!

And that all came about because of a ‘catching up’ email I sent. Moral? Reach out. You never know where one, simple contact will lead. Give people a chance to be kind.

And speaking of reaching out, a reader/member reached out this week. Frustrated by failing vision. Frustrated at how her life has changed. Frustrated by her frustration.

Sound familiar? Thought so. But I don’t want to talk about that?.

The proverbial last straw for our reader was dropping something she needed and not being able to find it. Now this person sounds like a kindred soul. She is inclined to be, shall we say, ‘messy’ and she is also creative. Read some research – like that cited by Clive Thompson in Put Down the Broom…Tidying Up Can Hamper Creativity – and you will see mess and creativity can go together. Our reader/member doesn’t want to give up that part of her personality either. This is even though messiness makes it easier to lose things. But I don’t want to talk about that.

What I want to talk about is finding things you drop. Now that skill is valuable!

VisionAware did a post on Searching for Dropped Objects When You Are Visually Impaired. They suggest you need to remember to protect your upper body. Don’t search stooped over and come up under a lower ceiling, etc. That would be while uttering the memorable phrase “Eureka! Ouch, damn it!” (That is the true quote of Archimedes as he jumped out of the bath and hit his head on a low ceiling. History just cleaned it up a bit?).

VisionAware also suggested listening for the sound of the thing hitting. Soft or hard surface? Things dropped on hard surfaces bounce more. If they are roundish, they roll more.

And may I add, if you drop something and it shatters? Call for back-up, especially if you are like me and ‘shoe’ tends to be a four letter word. A couple of years back I dropped nested, Pyrex baking dishes. My feet were fragged. The entire kitchen was fragged. My husband had to come to my rescue with dustpan and broom. Then off to the walk-in clinic to get glass out of my toe! I tell these somewhat embarrassing stories so you can avoid the same fate.

But again I digress. VisionAware suggests pointing a toe towards where you think the thing dropped and then having a system. Search with your hands in overlapping semicircles. Search with one hand at a time and use the other one to protect and stabilize your body. If searching with hands is not practical (or is dangerous or icky) , use feet, a cane, a broom, etc. The final VisionAware suggestion is to use visual memory of the area to try to decide where the *!#*! thing may have gone. OK, so they did not say “*!#*!”. That was me. You get the point.

And something not mentioned in that post: Be My Eyes. Load it on your phone. Keep the phone on you. After all, you never know when you are going to drop something.

written August 14th, 2017 Continue reading “Did You Drop Something?”

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BlindSquare App

When I was at the Summer Academy a couple of people mentioned they were navigating with an app called BlindSquare. They asked if I used it and I was almost sheepish to admit my vision is still good enough to navigate with plain old Google Maps.  It is surprising how social norms change from place to place.  I felt like being blinder would have given me more ‘street cred’, but what the hey, I got by.

BlindSquare appears to be the app VIPs (Visually Impaired Persons) in the know use to navigate. According to its advertising BlindSquare is the “world’s most popular accessible GPS-app developed for the blind and visually impaired.” It is said to describe the environment, announce points of interest and also alert you to street intersections as you travel.

The home page says BlindSquare is self-voicing and has a dedicated speech synthesizer, whatever that means. There is an audio menu that can be accessed with the buttons on the side of your phone. Seeing the screen is not required.

BlindSquare announces your progress towards your destination. It marks your spot (sounds like Beastie Baby!) and can lead you back should you want to return. The app opens with voice over. BlindSquare ‘understands’ a variety of languages. These include many of the most ‘popular’ European languages as well as some others like Finnish and Romanian. The farthest east they go looks to be Turkish. The farthest south they go looks like Arabic.

Reading the comments it seemed to me the developers of BlindSquare are awesome people. They responded in the affirmative to just about all of the suggestions and have been adding languages right along.  Updates are added regularly.

Now for the bad news. BlindSquare is $40.00 in the App Store. There is a free version called Blindsq Event  available in the App Store but it is seriously pared down from the for a fee version. The pay version featured three or four pages of options and Blindsq Event featured one. I would say what  do you want for nothing, but my answer would be ‘the World!’ so I know better than to ask that question.

I just downloaded the free version and will play with it later. As always, I would love to have others’ opinions. Please download it and let us know what you think.

Those who have the pay BlindSquare, please chime in!

written August 2nd, 2017

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Around the World of Books

Once again trying to be a ‘good’ or at least productive person and I am not getting very far. Only working part time this summer I have become rather unmotivated!

I finished listening to Rick Riordan’s The Dark Prophecy. That was through BARD. Just a note here confirming BARD has books for kids (real kids and kids in old lady bodies, like me!).

Not only do they have ‘chapter books’, they also offer picture books. I just downloaded Goodnight Moon, all two minutes of it. If you can no longer read to the grandchildren, BARD can come to your rescue. You just turn the pages and provide the hugs.

I also looked at Gutenberg.org a little more closely. They have thousands of titles, all in the public domain. That means the great majority of titles is over 100 years old. If you like the classics, they are available on Gutenberg.org and can be read on your NaturalReader. [To refresh your memory about NaturalReader, go to Sue’s pages Jabbering and Whoopsie.]

Oh, and they are looking for proof readers, too. A page a day would be acceptable. Apparently there was a 20 year moratorium on the ending of copyrights and it expires this winter. Gutenberg.org expects to be inundated by proof-reading work.

If you can edit and manage to read a page or two a day, you can help get the classics from early 20th century into the hands of people who may not be able to afford books.

That is in the States….

Looking for more sources of audiobooks, it appears Bookshare would be available to our international readers, all around the globe. Bookshare requires a statement by a ‘competent authority’ that you cannot access regular text. That could be a family doctor for you without access to vision professionals. Low and middle-income country citizens – countries like India, Egypt and Guatemala – pay $5 sign up fee and $10 annual membership fee for up to 200 books a month. Jeez, and I used to think I was a voracious reader!

Now, this being an American company, most of the books are in English. If you only understand Basque, you are limited to 110 titles. Could be worse. The Bulgarian speakers get 10. Germans hit the jackpot with 4,590. It would appear you should check their holdings before paying your money. Marathi speakers get 120 options. What IS Marathi, anyway?

Just browsing here it appears the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) has something similar to BARD in their Talking Book program. You must be a U.K. resident with a disability that does not allow you to read standard print. Not sure who makes that determination but the audiobooks look as if they are free.

And they give a tutorial on canes on their site! Nothing like a little ‘trivia’ lesson. White canes are guide canes for only visually impaired. Red and white canes are for the deaf/ blind. A long cane is used to help avoid obstacles and a symbol cane is to let people know you have sight loss and really did not run into them on purpose!

Ok. Now many of us know a little more than we knew 10 minutes ago. Anything else for the good of the order? Bye!

written July 23rd, 2017

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A Cat Eating a Shoe

Slowly getting my stuff together. The change in phone carriers and the accompanying set-up have been accomplished. Even with ‘plug and play; I am just about hopeless to begin with and then add a visual impairment. Oy vay. The pool that was green because the pump was down is blue again and six days into the two weeks left to live prediction, Beastie Baby is acting like she never got the memo. [Sue wrote this in July.  Beastie Baby has since passed away.]

Not arguing with it. It is often good to be unmindful of coming sadness. If she can enjoy short walkies and cheeseburgers (yes, spoiled dog), why not?

If there is no averting disaster I see nothing wrong with dancing on the deck of the Titanic. Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die.

Planning my next ‘adventure’. Since the dog is elderly, etc. we really don’t want to leave her with a sitter when I go to Penn State. That means my husband drives me down and comes right home. I get to get a bus home. Happy, happy, joy, joy. My choices are taking eight hours – including a 3 hour layover – to travel 100 miles and end up at the bus stop in town here or riding the bus two hours to a town 45 minutes away and having my husband come rescue me there. I vote for option #2!

“You can’t get there from here” may not be a totally accurate statement but it seems pretty close. I will let you know how I do. I would like to say America allows freedom of movement for all, but I have a feeling things are not going to be that easy.

Lin asked me to download Seeing AI. Apparently it is all the rage right now and everyone is all atwitter about it. That said, apparently I am not that easily impressed. Seeing AI seems to combine the functions of several different apps into one. It does a better job describing scenes than some other apps, but bottom line once again is, it needs work.

Seeing AI did a nice job on identifying things on the fridge door as “food in a refrigerator” and the Beastie Baby truly was a “brown and white (and black!) dog on a bed”. Beyond that, we had some problems.

Two pairs of my husband’s shoes were “a cat eating a shoe”. Giggle. The app identified the concrete around the pool but failed to note the black inner tube or the pool just beyond. If I were totally blind I could have easily expected clear sailing, tripped over the inner tube and gone for an unexpected swim! Although the examples in the ads were things like “a 20 something girl smiling”, Seeing AI identified my colleague, a 30 something smiling girl, simply as “a person”.

I guess I have to say excellent start, good attempt, but I would not want to depend on this app to interpret my world for me. Too many chances to trip over inner tubes and end up swimming.

The app is absolutely free in the Apple App Store . The price is certainly right! Download it and try it for yourself. [It isn’t yet available for Android.  It was originally only available in the US and Canada but has recently been made available to people in the UK, Ireland and Australia.]

Check out a good review by Sam of The Blind Life on YouTube.

written July 19th, 2017

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Whoopsie!

Whoopsie. Errata alert. I discovered the NaturalReader does NOT support Kindle like I thought [see previous page Jabbering]. This is because Kindle books are DRM (Digital Rights Management) books. Also iBooks, Nook and Adobe Overdrive. DRM is related to copyright laws. There are ways to get around the software ‘locks’ and you can easily find these offered on the web. However, they are illegal and we try not to encourage criminal behavior. Rumor has it scofflaws use something called Calibre. And that is what I know about that subject. ? [Lin/Linda here: I had to look up ‘scofflaws’ in the last sentence.  It is “a person who flouts the law, especially by failing to comply with a law that is difficult to enforce effectively.”]

I looked at Gutenberg.org and found titles like “The Paper Currency of England Dispassionately Considered”. Whoa.

Numismatists study coins AND paper money (thought it was just coins). Hopefully they would be enticed by that title. Me? Not so much.

So far on a cyber search of non-DRM ebook sources I find nuthin’. So for right now for ebooks on NaturalReader I guess it is Gutenberg.org or nothing. Remember if you are legally blind like moi, you can get BARD. I am just finishing listening to John Sandford’s Golden Prey. Love Lucas Davenport. Also, ebooks will zoom on a tablet so those with less of a vision loss can go that route. Sorry I fed you bum info.

And in other news, I passed the 100 mile mark on my bike today! This summer I have been using it for transportation. I realize for many of you your cycling days may be behind you; however, for those of you who can still ride and live in an area conducive to bike travel, it can be an option. Traveling at 7 miles an hour it is easier not to run into things than when you are traveling at 70 mph.

Of course, I almost had my first accident today. I was riding in the street parallel to some guy on a Jazzy (electric wheelchair) on the sidewalk. He decided he wanted to go across the street, swerved right and nearly took me out!

Maybe I should get a bell for my bike…or one of those horns with the red bulb. Anyway, glad I was able to avoid him. How do you explain being taken out by a Jazzy? It would be humiliating.

And because I am again prattling about things totally unrelated and of no great importance – and because I need about 150 more words! – I wanted to ask if you folks knew we are creating great investment opportunities? OK, maybe not us personally but I found a BusinessWire report on Global Age-Related Macular Degeneration Partnering Deals. They are hyping advice about buying into research and development of AMD treatments! They think people can make buckets of money off of us!

Now, some people may think it is rather opportunistic of these potential investors, but I think it’s great. The only way they can make said buckets of money is to invest in treatment we will buy. That generally means something that will work. If research is stirring up enough interest for people to be buying AMD specific investment advice, things have to be happening!

And that is the end of this page? Continue reading “Whoopsie!”

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Jabbering

Greetings everyone! First of all, thank you for all of the birthday wishes [July 17th] and kind comments! I am amazed and overwhelmed. I sit here in my sun room, just kind of hanging out and having weird thoughts, and I sometimes forget there are real people reading the stuff. Probably better that way. I might become self-conscious. Not that that has ever happened in 64 years. No filters here. As in really NO filters. My mother used to ask me why I could not just LIE sometimes.

That said, nothing big planned for the b-day. Fighting rot and decay. I have my first physical therapy appointment for the rotator cuff tendinitis. Also, the container for the sand filter cracked and nicely soaked the garage with pool water so I am having the sand container replaced tomorrow.

Have you ever noticed you spend the first 40 years of life building and the next 40 trying to keep everything in working order?

My friend, the exercise enthusiast, and her family treated me to an escape/puzzle room last week. That was fun. We did the ‘tornado’ room. The premise is you have been hit by a tornado and you have to figure out how to open a locked door and escape before a second tornado strikes. This all involves finding clues and things you will need as well as figuring out a lot of ciphers. We ‘died’. We were only about ¾ of the way by the end of the hour and the second ‘tornado’ hit.

It was low light – a problem – and there were clues I could not read, but this is a team (up to 8) activity and I had people to do the fine seeing. I still have a brain and could sleuth out a lot of clues as well as have input on how to solve the puzzles. Enjoyed it. Would go again.

Low vision does not have to mean no fun.

And continuing to just jabber along here, I downloaded the Near Sighted VR app from Google Play. Lin sent me the cardboard goggles last week. My husband cut the hole for the camera to see through so it would actually be somewhere near centered. I downloaded the app. Nothing to that and the app is free, free, free! [Lin/Linda: it worked better for Sam at The Blind Spot and he says with some upgrades which he suggests, he thinks it will be an ‘awesome app’. Click here to see his review of it on YouTube.]

Not as enthralled with it as I was hoping to be. Not sure if the new phone (Hello, Moto!) does not have a decent camera or what the problem is, but I thought the image was pixel-y and a little wavy. Being a great one for motion sickness I am not sure I could use it very long without having an ‘incident’.  [Lin/Linda: there is also an app for iPhones called SuperVision Cardboard.  Click here for more information.]

Once again, although I would love to believe I am, I am not the final word on this stuff. I think we need other input on these products. Please let us know if you have tried anything and give us your input. My pans may be your picks and vice versa.

Last thing: I ran into a little gem called BookBub. They offer free and deeply discounted email books. Lin says she has used it for years and it is a good resource.

When dummy here set up her NaturalReader she failed to click on Kindle as one place she wanted to be able to download from. Cannot figure out how to go back and change the setting so I am in the process of also downloading the free version of NaturalReader. Hopefully I will be able to get into my Kindle account that way and give you info on how it works.

Once again, knowledge, insights, opinions? Please share. Support the cause. We are in this mess all together. Continue reading “Jabbering”

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