Friday Finds

MERRY CHRISTMAS! The offerings below are fabulous! I cannot tell you how glad I am to read some of this info. It is very good stuff to know. Make sure to share this is much as is possible so that all can know about the new laws etc. Thanks, and have a great Saturday! 

Merry Christmas and Happy New year to all!!

Friday Finds for December 22 2016

 

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.

Contents

1 Accessibility Requirements for Television and Set

2 beware Hacking lurks in Wi

3 Credit Cards and Credit Scores Its Complicated

4 donna’s corner for December 22 2016

5 Uber

6 Where the Green Jobs Are

7 The Sero App,  Available for Your Listening Pleasure

8 BARD Express

9 Ballyland Rotor, for children who are  using VoiceOver

10  Listen with the Lights Out,  19 Podcasts About Blindness

11 NVDA 2016.4

12 The most popular TED talks of 2016

13 Christmas Trees

  1. Words of Wisdom
  2. Fact of the Day

 

Articles Start Next

*1)  Accessibility Requirements for Television and Set-Top Box Controls, Menus, and Program Guides

On December 19, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Public Notice to remind the public about the new accessibility requirements that become effective on December 20, 2016.  

The new accessibility rules apply to equipment designed to receive or play back video programming, and manufactured or leased on or after December 20, 2016.  For example, television and set-top box controls, menus, and program guides must be accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.  There are also requirements for simple and easy-to-use ways to activate closed captioning and video description.  

The Public Notice also explains the process for filing complaints related to these accessibility requirements.  

A fact sheet summarizing the accessibility requirements for television and set-top box controls, menus, and program guides, as well as how to file a complaint, is available on the FCC’s website at https://www.fcc.gov/television-and-set-top-box-controls-menus-program-guides-factsheet.  

Links to the Public Notice:

Word:    https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-1416A1.docx

PDF:       https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-1416A1.pdf

Text:      https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-1416A1.txt

For more information about this Public Notice, contact Will Schell, Disability Rights Office, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, at (202) 418-0767 or Will.Schell@fcc.gov For those using videophones and fluent in American Sign Language, you may call the ASL Consumer Support Line at(844) 432-2275

*2)  beware Hacking lurks in Wi-Fi, plugs and ports 

If you rent a car, its onboard infoTainment system may offer to pair with your iPhone and you might Not want to pushed the “yes” button. Such convenient connections can be a trap for travelers, experts warn. The Federal Trade Commission recently sounded the alarm on smartphones interfacing with the onboard computers of rental cars, saying it could expose your personal information to future renters, employees or even hackers. There are other sources of danger for your data, including those charging stations at the airport and, of course, those “free” Internet hot spots in your hotel lobby.”Smart systems installed in vehicles provide a new way for hackers to steal information or install dangerous software on your phone. A malicious application could theoretically be installed that would automatically tamper with any mobile devices that were connected to the vehicle. Cars are essentially computers on wheels. Consider the Ford F-150, whose onboard computer system has 150 million lines of code. That’s more programming than a Boeing 787, which has 7 million lines of code. You may be prompted to ‘trust this computer’ when plugging in your phone. It is best not to trust it. What else shouldn’t you trust? The “free” USB charging station at the airport. Plug in your phone or tablet and an infected station can take over your device via something called “juice jacking. Physical access to your iPhone port can be one of the most high-value avenues to exploit any weakness or vulnerability the device has. Charging stations are nothing more than potential data-harvesting points. You should be wary of “free” wireless networks at hotels and airports. There is significant risk with using Wi-Fi at airports, hotels and cafes to access the Internet. The risk is from poor authentication procedures and unencrypted networks, which can expose your username and password to hackers on the network. Do not use public Wi-Fi. Do not configure Wi-Fi networks or Bluetooth to automatically connect to your device. If your data have been compromised in any way while you’ve traveled, this could be why, but you’ll probably never know. There is something all of these threats have in common. They’re all “free. The infoTainment system is part of the car. The recharging station is complimentary. And the lobby Wi-Fi is almost always free.

How to practice safe connecting:

Use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN creates a secure, encrypted tunnel between your device and a server somewhere on the Internet. That makes it nearly impossible for someone on the same network to eavesdrop on your network traffic.

Tell your phone to say “no. Disable location services, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when possible. Also, think about the permissions associated with third-party apps, which may have access to your microphone, camera and contacts.

Use caution in cars. When renting a car, either manually enter the address into the car’s navigation system or use your own device, but don’t connect to the infotainment system.

Do not connect your phone through the USB outlet connection in a rental car:  Use the cigarette lighter, which only charges your device without grabbing data.

*3)   Credit Cards and Credit Scores: It’s Complicated

Opening a credit-card account these days is ridiculously simple. But not so with closing an account. For sure the bank doesn’t want to lose a good customer.

But it’s more than that. Closing accounts can mess with your FICO score, big time. You need to be strategic.

If you are terminating a checking, savings, investment or

credit-card accounts, there are some ideas to limit any issues developing.

Regarding the accounts above, only credit-card accounts could negatively affect your FICO credit score, if closed. Closing checking, savings

or even investment accounts would not affect your credit score because none of those are credit related.

To understand how much closing a credit-card account will negatively affect your FICO score, you need to understand something called “utilization rate,” which contributes heavily in determining your FICO score. This will help you devise a

plan to close the accounts strategically—spreading your closures over a period of 6 months to a year.

Your utilization rate is your credit limit compared to how much of that available credit you are using at any given time, expressed as a percentage.

If you have a credit card with a $1,000 credit limit and a $100 balance owing, you are 10 percent “utilized” on that card. You figure utilization rate by dividing the balance owing on the account by the limit on the card and then multiplying that figure by 100. ($100 / $1,000 = .01 x 100 = 10)

You can figure your “aggregate utilization rate” by adding together all of your credit

card balances, dividing by the total of the credit limits on all of those accounts and multiplying by 100. Credit scoring looks at both utilization rates.

The best utilization percentage to have is 0% because then you have no credit-card debt and you’re not paying interest. But, since that’s not realistic for everyone,

the best percentage is the lowest percentage you can achieve. In fact, according to FICO, consumers who have scores above 760 have an average utilization percentage of 7%.

If you have more than one credit-card account you intend to close, do this over a period of time, say no more than one account every six months.

Source:  www.everydaycheapskate.com

*4)  Hi there!  I am pleased to bring you two weekly features:

In the end zone with the entrepreneur and Scam Alerts.

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.

Enjoy!

Donna J. Jodhan

In the end zone with the entrepreneur

Proprietership versus partnership

When it comes to entrepreneurship, there is a distinct differrence between the two and it is most important for you to be able to know the difference.

Here it is in capsule form.  Proprietership is when you and only you own your business.  Partnership is when you and others own a business.  You can have one other partner or multiple partners in a partnership.

Entrepreneurship could be either a proprietership or a partnership and there is no fast hard rule as to when either would be best.

If you prefer to work alone, then proprietership may be better but if you do not mind working with someone else or others you can definitely consider the partnership route.

In a partnership, more defining of responsibilities are necessary.

There needs to be a Defining of who does what, when, and how and the reporting of results to all partners is a must.

In a proprietership, all of this is not needed and the only person that you are responsible to and for is you and yourself.

+++++++++++++++

 A scam alert

You owe money to the Inland revenue services!

This type of scam comes in the form of a phone call and this call can occur at any time of the day.  As early as 7 am and as late as 8 pm.

Your name is usually not announced by the caller but be prepared to hear your name announced by the caller. 

You are given a file number and a phone number to call and you are told that if you do not call in a few days and a deadline is given for you to call,

You will be arrested.

The give away here is that the voice at the other end is a synthesized voice!

Just simply hang up and go about your business.

This is nothing but a hoax and a laughable one at that.

*5)  Uber’s new creepy update lets you turn people into destinations

Uber launched a new version of its ridesharing application with two new features. The first, and the one we’re frankly less concerned with, is that the app now has custom Snapchat filters. You unlock said filters by riding around in an Uber, and they apparently fill some previously unmet need to turn everything you do in public into a selfie. Uber writes, “If you’re an existing Snapchat user and on an Uber ride, you’ll see a Snap card in the feed. Just select the type of filter you want to unlock, take your selfie, and swipe right. You can even use Uber filters with another Snap lens for double the fun.”

The second “feature is the one we’ll be discussing. Uber’s new application allows you to turn your Uber-using friends into destinations in and of themselves. Here’s how Uber describes it:

Where are you? Where’s that again? These are common questions we ask friends and family when meeting up. If you’re catching up with friends when out of town, meeting your sister at the mall, or joining coworkers for drinks, now you can skip the back and forth. Just Uber directly to them!

Here’s how it works:

  • Sync your contacts with the Uber app
  • Type in a friend’s name in the “Where to?” box
  • Your friend will receive a request from Uber to provide their current static location
  • Once they accept, their location is used as your destination and you can be on your way!

To help your friends and family know when they can expect you to arrive, we’ll share your ETA with them after you’re on your way to their location. They’ll get updates just like if you decided to share your ETA on any trip. So skip the back and forth, forget the address, and get straight to whom you’re meeting up with.

Granted, there are circumstances where this kind of tracking really could be useful — but it’s also a privacy nightmare waiting to happen. Uber is effectively asking permission to track people who aren’t even its own customers. While the company is currently promising that these requests will expire after 30 minutes and that it won’t keep a record of who you try to contact, it’s also been pushing hard to get more information about its customers and is facing lawsuits for how it handles existing data.

Leave your driver alone. Leave your friends alone. In fact, why not walk or bike?

Earlier this month, Uber rolled out an update that requests the right to track users, even when  they aren’t using the service, for up to five minutes after you exit the vehicle, as opposed to  ceasing to do so when you stop using the app. It’s also  facing down a lawsuit

Read more here:

http://mashable.com/2016/12/12/uber-privacy-customer-data-beyonce/#Ud34P2.i3aqp

Earlier this month, Uber rolled out an update that requests the right to track users, even when they aren’t using the service, for up to five minutes after you exit the vehicle, as opposed to ceasing to do so when you stop using the app. It’s also facing down a lawsuit from one of its former forensic investigators, Ward Spangenberg, who alleges that sensitive and personal information that the company collected was made available internally to employees, who then used it to “track high profile politicians, celebrities and even personal acquaintances of Uber employees, including ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, and ex-spouses.”

In 2014, Uber ran into trouble for its “God View” that would show non-anonymized real-time information about its users. If you had to pick a Silicon Valley company not to trust with your personal data based on previous bad behavior, rampant allegations of mismanagement, and general terrible behavior, Uber belongs at the top of the list. Don’t bother your driver with crappy Snapchat-esque filters, and don’t invite your friends to use services for convenience when the companies behind them have earned their reputations for not taking privacy seriously.

Source:  Extreme Tech

https://www.extremetech.com/mobile/241488-ubers-new-creepy-update-lets-turn-people-destinations

*6)  Where the Green Jobs Are

Hint: They Aren’t In Wind and Solar
Newsflash: The job market stinks. Even people with two or three advanced degrees are having trouble finding work in their chosen fields. So if you’re a young person with the goal of moving out of mom and dad’s house, maybe even finding a career improving the environment—is there any reason for hope?

The answer, according to a recent report from the Brookings Institution, is a qualified “yes.” The report, “Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment,” found that some 2.7 million Americans are now employed in the “clean economy.” And there are more environmental jobs where those came from.

Conservation Calling

So where should you send your résumé first? According to the report’s authors, the industries generating the most jobs don’t involve hot technologies like solar panels, wind turbines or electric cars. Alternative energy businesses have grown swiftly—8.3% from 2008 to 2009—but they still remain relatively small.

The biggest creator of new clean jobs is good ol’ conservation. During the eight-year period covered by the study, 2003 to 2010, a total of 121,000 new conservation jobs opened up. That’s more than four times as many as solar and wind produced over the same period. Under Secretary Ken Salazar, the  U.S. Department of the Interior

https://www.doi.gov/

The U.S. Department of the Interior has dramatically increased youth hiring in recent years. In 2010 alone it created 4,000 new jobs specifically for young people. The U.S. Forest Service is also regularly advertising positions.

Many clean jobs are actually quite dirty. Waste management comprises the largest segment of the clean economy. If you include the recycling industry, companies in this sector hired 119,000 new workers between 2003 and 2010. In North Carolina, for example, recycling jobs are up 5%.

From Freight to Farming

Another option is to work on the railroad all the live-long day. Many public transit authorities have frozen hiring due to government budget cuts, but freight railroads need hands. Rail company CSX increased its workforce by 4% in 2011.

https://www.csx.com/

In one month, mid-July to mid-August, it and six other railroads added a combined total of nearly 1,200 jobs. That’s good news because sending freight by rail rather than by truck has tangible environmental benefits. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a locomotive releases three times less nitrous oxides and particulates than trucks carrying the same cargo.

Have a big yard in the city? Perhaps you can grow your job by turning that lawn into a farm. Brookings’ Jonathan Rothwell says that more than half of all jobs in organic food and farming, and virtually all the new ones, are located in large metropolitan areas—close to where most food is consumed. In a number of cities, “incubator” farms are in the works that will mentor new farmers. One such operation in Cleveland gives would-be farmers quarter-acre plots to help them get started.

There’s one group that has special advantages when looking for work, and deservedly so: veterans. Both the public and private sectors have established employment programs to help returning servicemen and women re-enter the workforce. Some of these programs have steered veterans into the clean economy. A Denver-based nonprofit called, simply, Veterans Green Jobs,

http://veteransgreenjobs.org/ claims to have recently created about 200 jobs. 

Working Class Dreams

If these jobs—forestry, railroading, waste management, farming—share a link, it’s that they can all be had without a master’s degree and in many cases without any college degree at all. The clean economy, at this point, holds the most promise for working-class Americans. As the Brookings report concludes, “The clean economy offers more opportunities and better pay for low- and middle-skilled workers than the national economy as a whole.”

Despite its merits, the clean economy can hardly be considered a panacea given the enormous number of Americans out of work. Moreover, for all its hopeful signs, it cannot rival the scale of traditional companies. On April 14, 2011, McDonald’s hired 50,000 workers in one day. It will take a lot more wind turbines, conservation projects and urban farms before the clean economy wields the clout of Ronald McDonald.

Sorce:  CHRISTOPHER WEBER   author of ” E’s Green Job Talk blog”

Mr. Weber is an environmental journalist in Chicago. He writes E’s Green Job Talk blog.

*7)  The Sero App,  Available for Your Listening Pleasure

One can find a plethora of apps and websites that broadcast music, sports, and talk shows. Many are excellent resources providing seemingly endless entertainment. As good as these services are, they, with just a few exceptions, fail to include audio with a special interest to or created by people who are blind and visually impaired. One app seeks to change that.

Sero

Sero, formerly iBlink Radio, contains several types of information and resources especially tailored to people who are blind or anyone who wishes to know more about blindness issues and concerns. The app, developed by the assistive technology company called Serotek Corporation, offers both free content and paid/premium content.

History

Thanks to Serotek’s technical support, here is a brief history of Sero:

The iBlink Radio app was first published to the iOS App Store in the fall of 2009. We released the first Android version in the spring of 2011. In 2012, we extended the iOS version with access to the paid subscription service, which was then known as SAMNet (System Access Mobile Network). The Android version got a make-over in late 2013 and limited access to SAMNet in mid-2014. We announced last year that we would rebrand iBlink and SAMNet as Sero. (Sero was released in September).

Free Content

Here is a summary of the categories of the free Sero content:

  • Audio Tutorials and Interviews–some of which deal with Serotek products while others discuss general computer concerns
  • Blindness Resources–over 30 websites, organizations, and content providers with information about many topics related to blindness and visual impairment
  • Community Radio–over 40 radio stations run by people who are blind and visually impaired
  • Podcasts–nearly 60 series of podcasts covering assistive technology, other blindness-related issues, and more
  • Reading Services–nearly 50 services, some of which are specific to a state while others read national magazines
  • Sero Premium Content Sampler–a list of some of what is available as a paid subscriber to Sero
  • Local Content–displays all resources from all categories that are based in or near your current location
  • Recently Played–a list of content you last accessed on the app

When you find something you like, you can save it as a preset and access it from the presets section. Also, if you want to find something quickly, you can type into the search field which you reach when you first open the app.

Paid/Premium Content

Here is a listing of some of the categories of Sero’s premium content; you can view all of them on the app.

  • Featured Movie
  • Featured TV show
  • Email–allows you to create a Sero email account
  • Community forums and chat rooms
  • News–audio and text news covering sports, tech, current events, and other topics
  • Sports–schedules, headlines, and information about different sports including beep baseball
  • Weather–enter requested information to get weather for any United States location
  • Entertainment–consisting of accessible games, audio books, and 14 other categories
  • Information–32 categories of information including content of interest to the blind community, the place where some of the free Sero content resides, radio, technology, food, shopping, and more
  • Website–a way for you to create and customize your own website

You can save favorites, add stories to a section called My Newspaper, bookmark sites, and save information from the app that is important to you. If you wish, you may still search for content. The search feature is especially useful for locating free content that is placed elsewhere once the premium content is unlocked.

Cost

A Sero subscription costs $16.95 per month or $149 per year. Or, for $21.95 per month or $240 per  year, you can get the Sero subscription plus access to Serotek’s DocuScan Plus for Windows and Mac  and their System Access screen reader for Windows. Read about these two pieces of software on the  Serotek website

http://www.serotek.com/

Serotek wants people to make informed decisions about their products. As a result, all Serotek products, including the Sero app, offer a 14-day free trial so you can review all of the premium content for 14 days and then purchase it if you wish. The other great thing about the trial is that no credit card is required to receive it, and you do not have to contact Serotek if you do not want to pay for the premium content. To sign up for the trial, you must create an account; you do that by tapping “Log in” on the home screen of Sero. Enter your information, and create the account. You should receive an email fairly quickly. Open it and click the included link to verify your email address. If you fail to do so within three days, your account is deleted automatically.

Other Considerations

When you view the available material—free or premium—the content is listed alphabetically. For example, as you flick to the right on the screen showing free content, you hear the app say: “Blindness resources” … “Community radio” … etc. Double tap on the category you want to explore, and its selections appear alphabetically as well. Sero is available in the iOS,  app store:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sero-formerly-iblink-radio/id332027117?mt=8

Mac,

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sero-formerly-iblink-radio/id905524144?mt=12

and Android App Store

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.serotek.iblink&hl=en

Source:  Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

*8)  BARD Express

Users of the NLS BARD service will thoroughly enjoy BARD Express. This is a new PC program that makes downloading BARD books easier and at the same time adds multiple actions for the experienced user. No more needing to use the web to get books!

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