Hi everyone! I, encourage! You, all! Two, read! This newsletter is one of the most comprehensive, well-balanced, and wonderfully informational Newsletters I have ever read and enjoyed. I am quite pleased to include this in my blogging. Thank you Dan Thompson for allowing me to do so. Thank you to all of the contributors here. Thank you
Friday Finds for November 25 20162016
The start of each article is marked with an asterisk. Using the find/replace feature of your word processor, type in the asterisk (shift plus numeral eight) then hit enter to jump between articles.
1 donna’s corner.txt
2 new inexpensive in review.txt
3 modern day Monopoly.docx
4 VoiceOver on New MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.docx
5 NFB Newsline has added a dozen new magazines to its offerings.docx
6 Thoughts about my experiences with a new iPhone 7 without a headphone jack.docx
7 Lyft and Uber.docx
8 The Nearby Explorer
9 words of wisdom.docx
10 facts for today.docx
11 A Bag of Giving
Articles start next
*1) Donna’s Corner
Hi there! I am pleased to bring you two weekly features:
In the end zone with the entrepreneur and
You can listen to these two features plus more by visiting and downloading
my weekly podcast at www.takeanother5.com as well as going to iTunes.
Donna J. Jodhan
In the end zone with the entrepreneur
Can one be too young to be an entrepreneur? Absolutely not! From the child who decides to have a lemonade stand to the one who does baby sitting and from the one who helps seniors to cross the street to the one delivering newspapers! All of these initiatives can be considered to be entrepreneurial ventures.
I believe that you would be absolutely amazed to know how eager and willing our kids are to become entrepreneurs in their own right and way. It could start as a volunteer venture; the help of seniors to cross the street or from the little one who simply wants to sell lemonade on a hot summer’s day.
So much satisfaction could be derived from seeing your kids become little entrepreneurs and think of the huge smiles on their faces when they achieve success as they see it.
It is never a bad idea to instill entrepreneurship into your kids and they are never too young to start. From the little boy who decides to catch birds and then sell them. The little girl who makes jewelry from those jewelry kits and then sells them to her peers. The little one who offers their services to help an elderly person with their groceries. The one who cat or dog sits. The one who helps adults in their gardens. The one who walks dogs. Tons of examples for you to consider.
A scam alert
You are being invoiced
This alert is for those who buy and sell products and services on the Internet. You receive an email telling you that you need to take care of an invoice and if you do not recognize the sender, then please delete. Or if you are very sure that you do not need to take care of payment for any invoice, then you need to delete this email as quickly as you can.
If you make the mistake to reply then you have just compromised your email and then the trouble starts. How could this be? Very simple!
If you reply to this email to let them know that they have the wrong person, they will simply use your email address to start doing research on you. You would be amazed to know what results the Internet can yield when it comes to giving out info on you based on your email.
Another path for these so-called hackers and scammers to use would be to now take your email address and to start sending you emails that are loaded with attachments that can potentially cause great damage to your system.
Until next week then!
I’m Donna J. Jodhan
*2) Our Best Inexpensive: A Review
SEWING MACHINE. Two choices here. For the beginner: Janome Mod-15 is a
sweetheart of a basic mechanical machine ideal for a beginner of any age who shows great promise with sewing, but has not yet proven the need for a more advanced machine. About $135. For intermediate to advance: Janome Mod-100 is a remarkable top-of-the line computerized model that has everything an advance
sewist would expect, with a price you’d expect for a beginner machine.. About $360.
VACUUM SEALER. There are several brands of food sealers on the market, and my choice for the best inexpensive is FoodSaver V4440 2-in-1 Automatic Vacuum Sealing System. If you use it religiously, it will cut your food costs remarkably.
VACUUM CLEANER. Without any doubt, Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional is the best vacuum out there. That it is also quite inexpensive is a wonderful bonus.
COMPUTER. If you go online or walk into a store’s electronics department to purchase a Chromebook, prepare to be hit with a serious case of FUD—fear, uncertainty and doubt. That’s because there are hundreds of Chromebooks from which to choose; from dozens of manufacturers with hundreds of options. But not to worry. I do not expect you to slog through all of this technical stuff to figure out your best inexpensive option. My current pick (things change rapidly in the world of technology) is the Acer Chromebook 14 with 4GB memory, 32GB hard drive at just 3.42 lbs. About $292.
CARPET CLEANER. My Hoover Steam Vac is getting very old and still it works like a charm. I paid nearly $200 for it so many years ago. The latest edition of Hoover Steam Vac costs less than half! About $99.
SMART TV. It doesn’t have the most bells and whistles, but it’s a good, solid smart television. TCL 55-inch 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV is for the money, a great television, About $400.
ROOM DEHUMIDIFIER. My pick for the overall best while still inexpensive 70-pints-per-day unit is rated for up to 2,500 sq. ft. It will protect your home from mold and mildew and airborne particles that can make breathing difficult for some people. FRIGIDAIRE FFAD7033R1 Energy Star 70-pint Dehumidifier is a fantastic dehumidifier. About $218.
INSTANT POT. There are quite a few models of Instant Pot, the multi-functional countertop kitchen appliance that functions as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute/browning, yogurt maker, steamer and warmer (depending on the model you choose). The price varies greatly from one model to the next. While I really love the concept generally, my pick for the best is Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-
1 Multi Functional Pressure Cooker 6 QT/1000W. It is sweet! About $120.
CARPET STAIN TREATMENT. Spot Shot Instant Carpet Stain Remover is the best out there at any price! About $7.
If this hasn’t answered your “best inexpensive” question, head over to
EverydayCheapskate.com. Use the search bar to enter a keyword. Chances are pretty good you’ll find the answer in a past post. If not, do not hesitate to contact me. I rely heavily on your questions and input and you just might see yourself in an upcoming post!
Our mailing address is:
12340 Seal Beach Blvd.
Seal Beach, CA 90740
*3) If you think the 19th century was the age of monopolies with companies like Standard Oil Company and U.S. Steel, think again. Today’s mega-corporations are staggering in their scope; spanning the world and worth trillions of dollars.
Swatch is the largest watch company in the world, with brands that cover the entire price spectrum and sales exceeding $8 billion and employing 33,000 people.
Luxottica controls almost every high-end eyewear in the market. They own 80 percent of the major brands of eyeglasses. They own Prada, Tiffany and Co., Versace, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Rayban, Oakley, and many more.
At 926 aircraft, the American Airlines fleet is larger than the British Air Force’s.
Out of thousands of non-alcoholic beverage brands, only about 40 of them are billion-dollar brands, and Coca-Cola owns 20 of them. These brands help them bring in $43 billion in annual sales.
The Walt Disney Company owns properties all across entertainment. Their property Lucasfilm Ltd owns the rights to Star Wars and Indiana Jones. The A&E Network includes channels like The History Channel and A&E. They own the digital media brand Maker Studios, which owns some of the biggest channels on YouTube.
As of 2015 Google has acquired 184 companies. It is estimated that Google has spent $28 billion on these acquisitions, which include; Motorolla, Double Click, YouTube, Admob and ITA Software.
*4) VoiceOver on New MacBook Pro with Touch Bar: First Impressions
Author: Luis Perez
I finally had a chance to stop by an Apple Store to give the new MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar a try with VoiceOver. What follows is a summary of my initial experience, rather than a comprehensive review. If you do want to read a comprehensive review of these new Touch Bar MacBook Pros from a non-accessibility perspective, there are several of those around, including this excellent one by Jason Snell at Six Colors.
Your first question when you try out this new laptop for the first time is probably going to be: how do I perform the Command F5 shortcut to turn VoiceOver on without the hardware function keys? Well, if you have been using an iOS device, the answer will sound familiar. It involves a triple-click of the Touch ID button located on the right side of the Touch Bar (this button doubles as the power button for the laptop as well). This is similar to how you use the Home button on iOS devices for the Accessibility Shortcut. The only difference on the Mac is that you have to hold down the Command key as you perform the triple-click on the Touch ID button. The Touch ID/power button is the only part of the Touch Bar that can click with a press. It is separated from the rest of the Touch Bar by a small gap that feels like a notch. I tried to take a photo in the bright lighting of the Apple Store.
By default, the Touch Bar will display a set of five buttons on the right side. This is known as the Control Strip, a set of the most frequently used items that is similar in function to the Dock on an iOS device. From right to left, the buttons shown by default are: Siri, Mute, Volume, and Screen Brightness. A fifth narrower button expands the Control Strip and shows more options. When the Control Strip is expanded, it pretty much mirrors the media keys previously available on a laptop with physical keys – with options such as keyboard brightness, Mission Control, Exposé, and media playback (Play/Pause, Previous and Next). The Close (X) button found on the left edge of the Touch Bar will collapse the Control Strip from its expanded state. The Control Strip is user-configurable, meaning you can swap out the default buttons for other options you use more often.
If you are a fan of the Escape key, you will be happy to know it is still around, just in a different form. You will usually find it on the left side of the Touch Bar (at times it may be replaced by a Close (X) button).
Interacting with the Touch Bar’s software buttons while VoiceOver is turned on will again seem familiar for iOS users. Just like on an iPhone or iPad, you can move your finger over different areas of the Touch Bar to hear each key or button spoken aloud as you go over it with your finger, or you can use flick gestures to move the VoiceOver cursor from item to item. Once the desired item has focus, you can then double-tap anywhere on the Touch Bar (or even Split Tap) to make a selection.
With many of the buttons on the Touch Bar, selecting them will open a slider for adjusting the values for a given setting (volume, screen brightness, and so on). You will need to use a special gesture to interact with that slider. This gesture consists of a double-tap and hold followed by sliding your finger over the Touch Bar without letting go, which will adjust the value of the slider. When you let go with your finger, the slider may close automatically, or you can use the Close (X) button to its right. The special gesture for interacting with a slider is required because of the limited vertical space on the Touch Bar. On an iOS device, you would typically move the VoiceOver cursor to the slider and then flick up or down with one finger to adjust its value.
As with the Escape key, the Function keys are still around as well, but they are only accessible when you Hold down the Function key on the keyboard. I recorded a short clip to show that in action.
Any of the VoiceOver keyboard shortcuts that use the Function keys still work, you just have to add one more key (Function) to the shortcut and then select the desired function key on the Touch Bar using an iOS-style double-tap. For example, to bring up the VoiceOver Utility, the keyboard shortcut is VO (Control + Option) F8. With the Touch Bar, you will press and hold VO (Control + Option) along with the Function key, then select F8 on the Touch Bar as you would on an iOS device (by double-tapping once it has focus). It took me a few minutes to get the hang of this, but I’m sure it will become more ingrained with practice if I ever get one of these machines and use it day in day out.
- Note: As noted by @IAmr1A2 on Twitter, you can also use the number keys to perform a VoiceOver command that uses the function keys. For example, the command mentioned above would be VO + Function + 8.
The real power of the Touch Bar lies in the fact that it can morph into a variety of controls depending on the app that is open. Due to time constraints, I was not able to try the Touch Bar with as many apps as I would have liked during my visit. That will have to wait for another time. I did open up GarageBand and had no problems accessing any of the items on the Touch Bar with VoiceOver. With Photos, the only item I could not access was the slider for scrubbing through the photos collection.
Apple has made available a knowledge base article
Apple has made available a knowledge base article with additional information on using not only VoiceOver but also Zoom and Switch Control with the Touch Bar. I especially look forward to trying out Zoom on a future visit to the Apple Store, as I already know I will probably need to use this feature quite often due to the small size and dim appearance of the Touch Bar (especially when options are dimmed).
For the first few minutes using the Touch Bar, it felt like I was using two devices side by side as I interacted with the new MacBook Pro with VoiceOver, each with its own already familiar interaction model: the keyboard input method laptops have used for decades, and the touch input method more recently introduced with iOS devices such as the iPhone. While these two input methods were each already really familiar to me, putting them together into a seamless interaction with the new laptop took me a little while. As with any new interaction method, I know it will take me some time to build the same kind of muscle memory I have developed with the now familiar Trackpad Commander feature (which allows me to use iOS-style gestures performed on the Trackpad as alternatives to many VoiceOver keyboard shortcuts). For now, I am happy to see that the Touch Bar is as accessible as Apple’s other interfaces, but I will need more time experimenting with it on a variety of apps before I can decide that it is an essential tool that justifies the higher price of the models that include it.
*5) NFB Newsline has added a dozen new magazines to its offerings: Athlon Sports, Bon Appetit, Brides, Capital Gazette, Car and Driver, Consumer Reports, Discover, GQ, Information Week, MIT Tech Review, Prevention and Spry Living:
Would you like a newspaper with your morning cup of coffee? NFB-NEWSLINE® is well over 300 publications AND it’s still growing. Four Spanish-language newspapers are available to all subscribers. The service handles thousands of phone calls each day for individuals across the country who now access daily newspapers and magazines as never before. The toll-free centralized call-in center provides service on demand to any subscriber. This also enables those who cannot read conventional print to have access to all content offered on NFB-NEWSLINE® when traveling throughout the United States twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Every day, a subscriber can choose that day’s, the previous day’s, or the previous Sunday’s issue of any newspaper in the service. On NFB-NEWSLINE®, the user can easily choose which newspaper, section, and article to read using a standard touch-tone telephone. The menu provided allows the user to change the speed and voice settings, spell out words, or search for a particular word or subject.
NFB-NEWSLINE® now offers more choices than ever, including special local channels to distribute announcements of specific interest to the blind.
Over 40 magazines, ranging from the Arts, Science, Health and Fitness, Pop Culture and National and International news are available on NFB-NEWSLINE®. Just press Option 7.
Please select one of the links when visiting the URL provided below to learn more about NFB-NEWSLINE®.
Here are some of the links available at the URL directly above.
*6) Thoughts about my experiences with a new iPhone 7 without a headphone jack
Early this year the tech world exploded over that there wouldn’t be a headphone jack in the new iPhone, there are still blind people who say they won’t buy another one because of that; and Although I wasn’t happy about it, i thought boycotting them altogether was a bit too far. When Belkin announced their Lightning audio plus charge Rockstar with 2 Lightning ports and Apple announced including their new $9 Lightning to headphone adaptor, I felt the annoyance was easily resolvable. Even with this resolution, some of those earlier mentioned extremists still won’t buy another iPhone saying it just makes the phone $50 more expensive than the already high price. Yes, spending $40 for an extra dongle to carry around so you can use wired headphones and charge simultaneously is annoying, but in the end I still don’t find it that big of a deal, even with a low income. Even though Apple does include one of their adaptors, I have bought 2 more and 1 sits in a drawer as a spare..
I got my iPhone 7 on October 4, and I was told the Belkin dongle wasn’t available yet until November second, ye that was annoying. A few Skype calls ended prematurely because of a dying battery, and some times I had to use Bluetooth headphones so I could charge, and then there was the pillow speaker I use when going to bed.
For the first week I used my old iPhone 6 plus to play podcasts or audio books before sleeping, but I really wanted to use the new iPhone for everything and didn’t want to wait for the dongle. Then I had a bit of intuition. I remembered I had 2 Anker Bluetooth adaptors.
I had used these for my combining audio streams into one Bluetooth headset project, Read more at the link below.
Combining audio streams into one Bluetooth headset
I paired one of them to the pillow speaker and it worked, great; except for 1 problem. The adaptors also run on a battery, and batteries still don’t last forever for some reason. I turned the adapter on so that it was receiving Bluetooth audio from my phone and piping it to the speaker, then I plugged it into USB to charge, and it shut off. I was momentarily frustrated, but then I just turned it back on again and it worked, even when charging on USB and it kept working, for 3 days until I unplugged it, and was still all charged up; problem solved. Finally the Belkin Lightning port Rockstar was available, even a week early, and it is nice to have; though I don’t need 2 of them as i originally thought I would with 1 going to the pillow speaker. The Bluetooth adaptor costs $30, so saved $10 there too. Now that I can charge and use wired headphones simultaneously even when charging like I could before when iPhones had headphone jacks, I can sigh with relief; that is until I forget to take the dongle with me somewhere. Still, for the most part, it puts the no headphone jack problem back into the tea pot with all the tempests of tempestuous pasts.
*7) Lyft and Uber Have Changed the Transportation Game for People with Visual Impairments
There was a time when many of us who are blind or visually impaired, once we had our adapting to blindness skills assimilated, would declare in one way or another that, when it came to counting the real hardships of blindness, there were really only two significant losses: reading and driving.
The advent of all kinds of technology to magnify, speak, and convert the written word to braille has all but eliminated the first of those hardships. With optical character recognition software in general and the KNFB Reader app for iOS and Android devices in particular, blind people can access print almost as readily as those with complete sight. While not all print is accessible in electronic form, the inability to read directly with one’s eyes holds nowhere near the enormity of challenge that it once did.
The game-changer for those of us unable to drive swept on the scene much more abruptly than the comparatively slow evolution of technology related to accessing information.
Almost overnight, options that would have belonged in the realm of science fiction just a few short years ago have made catching a ride as simple as tapping a button. The primary new mode of transportation is called ride-sharing. Its two leading providers are Lyft and Uber. There are other minor competitors on the scene in some areas of the country, and still more revolutionary transportation options on the horizon, but for now, let’s look at Lyft and Uber and how they affect people with vision loss.
The Magic of Uber and Lyft: How Ride-Sharing Works
From the rider’s perspective (and most of us reading AccessWorld are probably more likely to be riders than drivers), Lyft and Uber function similarly. From the Apple or Google Play store, you download the Lyft or Uber app. You sign up by providing a few basic bits of information: name, address, phone number, credit card information, and your Facebook account. This final step is to provide your photo.
After the initial sign-up, you never have to handle or contemplate your credit card or cash again. When you need a ride, such as to a store for holiday shopping or to a New Year’s party, simply open the app (we’ll use Lyft as the example here), confirm that the address identified there is your current location, and tap on “Request Lyft.” In usually less than a minute, you will hear a chime and be informed of the identity of your driver and that he or she is on the way.
Both apps then provide the driver’s name, photo, make and model of car, photo of car and, in Uber, the license plate number is read by VoiceOver. Near the top of the screen you will find the estimated time of arrival (ETA), which decreases in minutes as you continue to swipe the option and the car gets closer to where you are waiting.
For those who can see the screen, a map appears and displays the movement of the car on that map as it draws nearer to your location.
When the car arrives, you jump in, much like being picked up by a friend, and off you go. At your destination, say goodbye. No cash ever changes hands. The app shows you the price of the ride, and waits for you to accept the price and rate the driver, all of which takes less than a minute.
Advantages of Ride-Sharing Services Over Traditional Taxi Service
I am probably not alone in recalling all too many times in the past when a taxi was promised, sometimes repeatedly, but failed to arrive. Waiting in the cold with a small child and several bags of groceries, feeling panic rising as the time of an important appointment approaches and then passes, or getting into a taxi that reeks of smoke or other effluvia–these are just a few of the many unpleasant memories in my personal collection. Many who read these words are undoubtedly experiencing “aha” moments as you recall comparable experiences in your own taxi-hailing repertoire.
Lyft and Uber offer many advantages to customers over traditional taxis. You know immediately how soon your driver will arrive. Both companies set very high standards for acceptable vehicles, so that all cars are new, clean, and usually stylish! Rates are typically lower than taxis, and Lyft is somewhat lower than Uber. You rate the driver after each ride, from 1 to 5 stars, and while most will warrant a high five, the occasional driver who is not to your liking will never be matched with you again if you select a rating of 3 stars or less.
Ride-Sharing Services: The Blind Perspective
In the last three years, I have taken perhaps a few hundred rides with Lyft and Uber in about a dozen cities. I canceled one ride because the driver spoke no English and could not understand where I was located. Another driver canceled my ride because he got a higher-paying trip. With these two exceptions, I would say that every experience has been pleasant, positive, remarkably efficient, and even fun. Drivers are from all walks of life. I have ridden with graduate students picking up summer or spring break cash; retirees who want to continue working part-time; struggling models, actors, musicians, and writers; at-home moms or dads driving while the kids are in school; people new to this country; and on it goes. Cars are nearly always new and clean and the conversation lively. Of course, if you need a nap, no conversation is required.
Both apps are completely accessible with VoiceOver, although a bit of a learning curve is involved with each. Both seem to update frequently, which can change the feel of the app with VoiceOver. In early June of this year, a Lyft app update caused a problem for a while with rating drivers. Most riders give drivers 5 stars and most drivers give riders 5 stars. For a few weeks, it was not possible to determine which number of stars was being selected. To rank lower than 5 stars is a definite red flag message. Because of the update, I was inadvertently ranking drivers lower than my intended 5 stars. The first time, I received an email message saying that Lyft was sorry I was unhappy with my driver and would never pair me with that driver again. I replied that the problem was with the app, not the driver, and would Lyft please adjust the rating. That happened about four times with four different drivers. I then took the proactive approach of adding a comment. After you rate a driver, you are given the opportunity to add a comment. For several trips in June, my comment was something like, “I would give this driver 6 stars if I could. If the number shown is less than 5, the problem is with using the app via VoiceOver, not with the driver!”
Happily, subsequent updates have resolved this particular issue.
Because I can’t see the photo of the driver or the car, I have used various approaches to be sure I connect with my Lyft or Uber driver.
Both apps alert you when the driver has arrived. If I am in a quiet location, like my own home, I go out when the car is a minute or two away and I can hear it approach. Even so, since the app has given me the driver’s name, I ask them to confirm their name before getting into the car.
If I am in a noisier environment, such as leaving a store or restaurant or medical building, I use the “Contact Driver” button provided in each app. This affords the customer the opportunity to call or text the driver. My habit is to call and say something like, “I’m out here with a white cane. I won’t see you, so just let me know when you are here.”
Some blind and low vision customers have made cards with large printed letters announcing “LYFT” or “UBER,” to hold up when the car is near as a way to alert the driver. When a driver accepts your ride request, she sees your photo as well, so sometimes this face recognition helps, but doesn’t seem to play a large role.
Options and Caveats
Although Lyft has some optional types of trips called Lyft Line and Lyft Premier, I have not been in cities where these options are available so have had no personal experience with them. Lyft Line is for sharing a ride with another customer who is traveling in the same direction, thus lowering the cost, and Lyft Premier is for more limousine-like service.
Uber offers options in every city where I have used it. Usually, these include Uber X, Uber Select, and Uber Black. For all but one ride, I have used only Uber X, which is what most drivers provide–a car that is no more than a few years old and is in excellent condition. Uber Select is a more upscale ride, not much more than a year old, and will cost at least 50 percent more. Uber Black, priced significantly higher, will be a black car that offers some level of luxury.
When ordering an Uber car, some people new to using the app have mistakenly selected Uber Select or Uber Black and thus had an unpleasant surprise at the cost of a trip, so be sure to select Uber X if you just want transportation.
I had a guide dog when I first began using these services, and never had any problems. It warrants mentioning, however, that a few riders with guide dogs have had problems. Most notably, a lawsuit brought by the National Federation of the Blind of California for three individual plaintiffs against Uber found Uber to have discriminated and led to a company policy that any driver refusing a blind passenger with a service animal will no longer drive. There have, to date, been no such charges against Lyft.
Lyft and Uber are headquartered in San Francisco. Uber was launched in 2009 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, although it would take another year or two for the app to take the form we know today. Lyft was launched in 2012 by Logan Green and John Zimmer. Both now operate in close to 400 American cities and several other countries around the world, and both are constantly hiring new drivers.
Drivers are not employees, but independent contractors. Some drive just a few evenings a week or on weekends, while others work full-time.
My personal bias leans a bit more toward Lyft as the rides cost a bit less, the drivers are required to submit background checks, and the app provides the opportunity to add a tip.
Both Uber and Lyft have completely changed the nature of transportation for those of us who cannot drive. While a car that drives itself is also literally just around the corner, these ride-sharing services are perhaps even better. I might spend $100 or $200 each month on rides, but I can go anywhere anytime I please, and I have no car payment, no maintenance fees, no concerns about where to park–and I didn’t have to learn to drive!
Learn more about Lyft or Uber online, or download the apps from the App Store ( Lyft or Uber
A ride whenever you need one – Lyft
Sign Up to Drive or Tap and Ride | Uber
*8) The Nearby Explorer Blindness-Focused Navigation App from APH Comes to iOS