Cautionary Tale

So, yeah. I am a little hard on parts. We just boxed up my CCTV to go into the shop and now I have cracked the screen on my iPad. 😢 Never a dull moment.

OK. My tablet just capitalized never a dull moment. Huh? Turns out it was a 1950 movie. Not sure why the tablet would ‘think’ I meant or even knew that reference but machine intelligence is different. I seem to add to my fund of useless knowledge quite regularly that way. Tablet making weird and esoteric connections. [Lin/Linda: I think it’s a conspiracy against ME…gives me more weird links to find! BTW, there was a 1968 movie of the same name.]

So, back on track, I dropped my mini and there is a nice crack in the screen. I was all ready to take it to the iPad ‘doctor’ and have it repaired but financially that may not be a plan. According to Lifewire that would’ve been a case of the cure being worse than the disease.

The Lifewire post on iPad screen breaks assured me my iPad would probably continue to work with a cracked screen. They say it will work not only with the nice, clean, linear crack my mini has but even when the screen is shattered! Of course, having spider web cracks on your screen would not help seeing what is there and we have these things, at least in part, to help with seeing! That could be a problem.

According to the post, it would cost $199 to get my screen repaired. I just paid $220 for the next better mini iPad brand new. Mine is now a year and a half old. You can see where the numbers are leading: repairing a screen is probably just not defensible from a financial viewpoint.

So, what are the options? Again according to the post, if your device is still under warranty, you might be able to squeak by with a service charge of $49. Apple Care does cover accidental damage so if you are ‘hard on parts’ like I am, you can get it fixed with minimal financial pain.

If it is not a bad break and everything still works, just living with the crack may be your best option. The article suggests getting a protective case. Exactly what I intend to do. An example of another old adage: closing the barn door after the horse runs away!

I have Otter cases for both my phone and the big iPad that Blindness and Visual Services bought for me. I am pretty happy with them. At least those devices have not broken yet!

I just ordered a neon green and a berry purple mini iPad case from the marketplace for the known Universe, Amazon, of course. $10 apiece on sale. I have Prime so it is free shipping.

I also ordered UV filters for both of the devices. (I actually have my technophobic husband using a mini!) Remember blue light is ‘bad’ for your retinas and electronic devices are primo sources of blue light.

Just read an article saying Baby Boomers are not as aware of UV damage and not taking as many precautions as younger folks. I was going to write a page on it, but I pretty much covered it there in two lines, so don’t hold your breath waiting for the page!😜

So once more I am the ‘star’ of a cautionary tale. Protect your devices. Repair costs are reported to be just plain nasty. Cases are cheaper. Continue reading “Cautionary Tale”

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Can An Old Dog Learn Braille?

A reader made a suggestion I could learn Braille. At first it sounded sort of fanciful. I am 63 years old and she wants this old dog to learn new tricks! I am sure it is REALLY hard. I am sure it will take me FOREVER.

Then I thought I should practice what I preach. Turn the mind and be willing. I could at least look into it….besides, it is good for a page and I am running out of ideas. Anyone else out there willing to share? I could use a little more, wonderful help like we got from Lara, Jennifer, Rick and Andrea.

VisionAware has a page on All About Braille. They tell us Louis Braille invented the system in France in the mid-1800s. Braille ‘cells’ are made up of two columns of three rows. Each letter and symbols is made up of a pattern of one or more dots.

The letter ‘s’ is dots in the second column-first row, 1-2 and 1-3. U is 1-1, 1-3 and 2-3. E is 1-1 and 2-1. There! I spelled my name!

I probably would want to learn alphabetic Braille first. That is letter by letter Braille. There is also a form called condensed Braille in which whole words are represented by one cell of dots.

Being part of the special education system, I know a little bit about sign language for the deaf. American Sign Language is not just standard English you ‘speak’ with your hands. It is its own language with its own rules and specialized characteristics. Condensed Braille reminded me of that. It is also just one of a number of systems, just like ASL.

Problems with learning Braille as an older adult include finger sensitivity. Some people are blind because of complications of diabetes. Diabetic nerve damage may interfere with learning Braille.

Right now, I really don’t see Braille as an option for me. Not totally because it would be difficult and time consuming to learn, although those are factors. The major reason is right now I have options that work for me just fine.

I have magnification through my CCTV, reader and iPad, as well as ZoomText on my work PC’s. My computers and my phone also have options that allow me to be read to. I don’t use those options simply because they are so dang irritating! However, if I get to the point I cannot navigate around my desktop or my phone, I may be happy to have them.   [You can review how Sue uses these by going to her pages A Day in the Life and A Day in the Life: Work Day.]

And speaking of being read to, don’t forget my KNFB Reader. Then there are BARD books and the newspapers on my phone.

If I want to write as opposed to read, I do have a few touch typing skills. Speech-to-text is also available to me. Of course, we all know some of the things that happen there.

For example: I tried to speech to text the text “we find our adventures where we can” and the message my friend got was “we find our dentures where we can.” Took a while for her to stop giggling.

OK. Gotta go. I have a staff party tonight and I still have no idea what I am going to wear. Could be worse. At least I don’t have to find my teeth!

Click here for an article on how Braille is useful on the job in case Sue changes her mind. ::smile::

Continue reading “Can An Old Dog Learn Braille?”

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A Day in the Life: Work Day

Sunday evening and I am getting ready to start another week. Wow. I was always told time goes faster as you get older but sometimes it is ridiculous!

I was also told time flies when you are having fun, so I guess I am having fun! And, yes, it is possible to have fun with AMD.

Maybe we can do a book or an infomercial on that: Fun with AMD. Sort of like Fun with Flags from the Big Bang Theory. Any thoughts on content?

Anyway, I went to my exercise classes and wrote a couple of pages yesterday. Walked Beastie Baby. Today was a haircut and a trip to the local warehouse store. Also actually wrote that report I was putting off. Sorted some laundry. Found an audiobook I want to listen to. Busy, busy, busy.

But for me, busy, busy, busy is better, better, better.  Not only do you distract yourself with activities, but you get to use your talents.  Sometime in Sunday school I learned we are supposed to use what we were given. It was never said you use what you were given until you start going blind.

So onward! Lin suggested I do a page on a normal weekday. Okey dokey. Monday.

The time I get up is determined by what time the crazy transportation company says it is going to pick me up. I have learned I also need to be ready about 15 minutes before they said they would be here because they are frequently early. Jeez. Flexibility is a virtue.

Monday is different from a weekend day because I have to really be sure my clothes match. I cannot slink home in humiliation in an hour or so because colors I thought were one thing are another and clash….badly.

OttLight

I have a small OttLite on my ironing board but the best bet is still natural light. If all else fails, I ask my husband “what color is this?”

If we were talking Thursday for the weekday, I have to make sure I have everything I need for the entire day. That means I get on transportation with CCTV, purse, briefcase, lunch, yoga mat and workout clothes. Having a good memory and a strong back are also virtues.

Justand V2

Back to Monday. At school I set-up my portable CCTV. I turn on my computer and ZoomText is soon up and running. These things are invaluable. At home I often crank the font size up to 28, but all that magnifies is the text. ZoomText does everything on the screen. If you are on your computer all day, ZoomText is worth the investment. Also LOVE my CCTV, but the price on that is salty and you can get similar results with an iPad and Justand.

Sue’s Eschenbach Smartlux Digital Magnifyer

I check for lunch choices with my handheld reader. I also read anything I cannot get to my CCTV with the reader. Something nice about the reader is I can hold it up to something slightly above my head and take a photo of it. Nice little feature.

Since I was always dropping my reader – slippery little devil! – we put a lanyard on the arm on the back. I can wrap the strap around my hand. It has gone on the floor much less since.

 

To review some of these devices, check out Sue’s page A Day in the Life.

Sue’s Telescopic Glasses

My telescopic glasses help me do student observations. I look like an alien, but the kids are used to it.

Books such as testing manuals have been scanned onto my iPad. My tech person at school did 90% of the work but I also scanned. It was a bit labor intensive but it allows me to read questions and score.

That is pretty much a work day. Questions? Continue reading “A Day in the Life: Work Day”

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A Day in the Life

Hello. Lin told me she has a number of new people in the Facebook group and that many of them may not be aware of the variety of assistive devices available to those of us with vision loss. Lin suggested I review the things I have and use in a typical day. I will do this here. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Please read with the understanding this is a cursory review only. More information is available in past pages. I will remind you how to search our website at the end of the page.
  • Also, I’m not specifically recommending anything since choosing these devices is a very personal thing based on the status of your eyes and what you want/need to do with the vision that you have.   What I use was selected for me by the counselors with Pennsylvania’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) Bureau of Blindness and  Visual Services (BBVS or BVS) so that I could continue to work.
  • We don’t get any money or services for what we include in my pages.

Here goes…. A Day in the Life

Disclaimer: I am not recommending any particular service or project, just reporting on what works for me.

One option for a low zinc AREDS2 supplement.
One option for AREDS2 supplement

Today is Sunday so I can afford to be a tad lazy. When I get up I take my medication including my low zinc AREDS2 formula vitamins. There is not much help from taking these supplements in the advanced stages but the minor disease slowing they found at other stages is better than nothing if they do occur.

one source of low vision aids

Being the dutiful granddaughter of Welshmen, I have toast and tea (with milk, of course!) for breakfast. Simple preparations do not require great accommodations. However, if I were ‘Becky Home Ecky’, I would own all sorts of nifty, kitchen gadgets from the MaxiAids catalog.

iPad Mini
iPad Mini

Since it is Sunday, I grab my iPad Mini and plop down on the couch. My iPad has been my salvation. I can check my email by using the pinch and zoom feature. I also have larger text turned on. If you go to settings – general – accessibility you can find a dozen other things that may be helpful.

 

Apple App Store
Apple App Store

My habilitation person from Blindness and Visual Services literally stuffed my iPad with apps. The ones I actually use are Magnify and Freeze and a large button calculator. It is also sort of fun to demonstrate the wonders of technology to people using the KNFB Reader. There are about a dozen others on there. Some of them are for people with much worse vision than mine at present. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst; you know.  Today I have been carrying my iPad around while I do chores. I am listening to an Agatha Christie novel on my BARD app. Hercule Poirot is such a clever, little man.

ipadtotv
iPad screen bottom left of photo, enlarged onto TV

 

I can plug my iPad into the TV so that I can see everything on its screen.  I don’t use it much since I can use the Zoom feature on the iPad. Click here to find out how I connected them.

 

 

Magnilink Zip 17 portable CCTV
Magnilink Zip 17 portable CCTV

Since I start teaching again on Wednesday I have my portable CCTV setup which is the MagniLink Zip 17 (photo on left). That way I can review my notes and actually be able to see them! If the CCTV breaks (bite my tongue!) I can always fall back on the iPad with Justand V2 (photo on the right).

 

Ott flip light
Ott flip light

I’m going to need to put together an outfit to wear but I need extra light to make sure I’ve got the color right.  I put my little Ott flip light on the “ironing board in the bedroom to help with that.  I also have an Ott floor lamp in the bedroom for extra light.  I can put the little Ott in my purse if I need extra light to find something.

Speaking of my purse, I carry my iPad Mini, Smartlux reader and MaxTV lenses in my purse.

 

We did not go out to lunch today but if we had, I have my Smartlux reader/magnifier in my purse to read menus.

 

 

Glasses to cut down on glare
NOIR glares glasses
Small monicular
small monocular

Later when I take the Beastie Baby for her walkies I will have my glare glasses on and my monocular around my neck. Since the old darling and half of the other dogs get to run off lead at the dog park, it is good to be able to see which of our friends is across the field.

 

Sue's Telescopic Glasses
Max TV Telescopic Glasses

This evening if I want to watch TV, I have my Max TV telescopic glasses. I use those to do classroom observations at my school job. The little kids like them because my eyes look huge when I wear them. They can be handy in a store when I’m trying to find something.

 

 

Those are the basic, low vision tools I use at home. If this were a workday I would also tell you about the zoom text app on my work computer. Absolutely essential if you are using a standard PC.

Hope that quick review helped. Don’t give up hope. With technology, things can be a lot better. Remember, comparatively speaking, you are losing your vision at the best time in history thus far.

If you want to review the pages where I talk about these devices, you can use the 3 ways to search our website: 1) search website; 2) categories and 3) tags/keywords. You can find these either in the right-hand column or at the bottom of the page.
Continue reading “A Day in the Life”

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DaVinci and Others

I saw an advertisement for the daVinci CCTV. My low vision specialist had initially suggested a daVinci but the daVinci is not portable. That would not have worked for me.

davinci-electronic-magnifier
DaVinci is a high performance desktop video magnifier (CCTV), featuring Full HD, selective text-to-speech (OCR) and a 3-in-1 camera.

davinci-woman-applying-makeup

The da Vinci has some other, cool features such as self-viewing with the camera. With up to 77x magnification that probably makes it the world’s most powerful make-up mirror.👸

 

 

It also has built-in ‘OCR’. If you have no idea what that is, you are not alone. Or at least you were not alone until about half an hour ago when I looked it up.

OCR is optical character recognition. According to Wikipedia, OCR is most widely used in scanning documents. Big Business and Big Brother use it in data mining. It is also used in – wait for it – text to speech. In other words OCR is what allows a machine to read to you. In fact, creating reading devises for the visually impaired was an impetus for the creation and improvements in OCR. Cool. Nice give and take, huh?

Of course, the beginnings were pretty modest. In 1914 (Wow! Really?), a guy named Emanuel Goldberg invented a machine that ‘read’ individual letters and converted them into Morris code. Another guy, Edmund Fournier d’Albe invented a machine that ‘read’ letters and produced corresponding musical tones.

Hang in there; just a bit more on the history lesson. The little bit more is the Kurzwell Reader. That product was unveiled in 1976. If you were working in special ed, or getting ready to work in the field as I was at that time, you may remember the Kurzwell Reader. We thought it was amazing. Unfortunately it was not portable and it was not cheap.

So fast forward to 2016. The daVinci has OCR. The KNFB Reader my habilitation person wants me to have for my iPad has OCR. In fact, a lot of things have OCR in their software. When I searched for OCR in the App Store I got dozens of hits. Some of them were expensive, like the KNFB Reader for $100, but some of them were free……and some of them translate Japanese and Lithuanian, but we are not interested in that at the moment.

Stray thought: if your iPad can read and translate multiple languages, can the universal translator a la Star Trek be close behind? Live well and prosper. Look for products that say OCR. Might help.

Continue reading “DaVinci and Others”

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As If By Magic

Hi! Just wanted to let you all know I hooked my iPad up to my TV. I am not a techie. I impress myself easily when something like this actually works. Many of you won’t think much of this, but I think it is cool.

Here we go! Step by step.

As we talked about before, I bought a connector to go in the iPad. It connects where the power cord connects. This is the expensive piece. It was $50. Hook that up.

Click here to go back to the page where I describe the connector & cable.

The cable hooks into the iPad connector. The end looks like a USB connector only larger. There is the same kind of hardware on both ends of the cable. What you want to have purchased is an HDMI cable. They come in different lengths. I got one that is 12 feet.

usbhdmi
Difference between USB port (left) and HDMI port (right)

Get behind your TV and look for what looks like a larger USB port. Some TV models have them on the left hand side. Some are on the back. That is your HDMI port. There are probably two or more. Notice the number of the port that you are plugged into.

Somewhere on your TV is a menu button. In my TV it is on the left hand side. The TV we use at the office for PowerPoint presentations has a menu button on the front. After you locate your menu button, set it to the same number as the HDMI port you are hooked in to. It will say HDMI 1, 2 etc on your TV screen.

Turn everything on and what is on your iPad should now be on the TV screen. Voila! Magic! What is on your TV screen is – depending on how big your TV is – several times larger than what is on the iPad screen. Ergo, it should be several times easier to see. Easier to see is a good thing.

ipadtotv

Here’s the difference between my iPad mini screen & my TV.

 

 

 

Thus endeth the lesson.

Continue reading “As If By Magic”

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