Friday Finds April 21st

Friday Finds for April 21 2017

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 Donna’s Corner.

2 Best Inexpensive Stick VacuumFinally!.

3 ARM-based Windows 10 Devices Expected to Launch in Late 2017 .

4 Researchers Wring Clean Water From the Desert Air.

5 VictorStream New Generation 4.8 and personal note fromDan.

6 Anker Soundcore Nanobluetooth with big sound. Super portable speaker with built-in mic..

7 Internet Explorer Favorites  Tips.

8 an accessible screen sharing solution, Zoom.

9 Microsoft Office Lens review, An accessible way to read printed documents.

10 How does the Amazon Echo help people with a vision impairment.

11 five videos demonstrating the use of smartphone apps  in compensating for sight loss.

12 Baba Yetu  (The Lord’s Prayer in Swahili.

13 Bible Verse of The week.

14 Trivia for the Week.

15 Today in History.

16 Facts of the week.

  1. Attached: Baba Yetu (The Lord’s Prayer in Swahili)-Alex Boy‚, BYU Men’s Chorus & Philharmonic; Christopher Tin.mp3

Articles Start Next

*1)  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 http://www.takeanother5.com as well as going to  iTunes.

You can also view our weekly scam watch by going to http://www.sterlingcreations.ca/blog

and this appears each Sunday.

Enjoy!

Donna J. Jodhan

In the end zone with the entrepreneur

How to start a services for seniors business

Believe it or not, this is a very lucrative and rapidly expanding market and this market is not going to change anytime soon and why is this?  It all has to do with a rapidly aging population so what we have here are endless consumers and they need to be supplied with boundless services.

As mentioned, this is a rapidly growing market.

It is a perpetuating market.

Demand presently vastly surpasses supply.

Both governments and companies alike are desperately seeking service providers to help them fill these spiraling demands.  The gaps are growing daily and are threatening to get out of hand.

Let’s have you think of some of the types of services that are presently in demand:

Assistance with shopping

assistance with house cleaning

Assistance with personal care

Assistance with health and medical care.

Assistance with renovations.

This is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak but it is a small sample designed to get you thinking. 

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

A scam alert

An offer to rid you of your computer viruses

You are often bombarded with these types of scammers and their scams and we need for you to be on the alert for them because if you are not!  They can do a lot of damage to you and your systems if you are not prepared and ready to defend yourself.

They come to you via phone mainly.

They tell you that they are experts at getting rid of computer viruses.

They ask what type of computer you have.

They tell you that at the present time serious viruses are making the rounds and that you need their help to rid yourself of them.

Simply hang up the phone.

If you make the mistake to invite them to your home or you give them any personal details

Then you are in big trouble.

They take the info that you have provided and use it against you and before you know it; your privacy has been invaded and shattered beyond recognition. 

Until next week then!

I’m Donna J. Jodhan

*2)  Best Inexpensive Stick Vacuum—Finally!

By Mary Hunt on 04/19/17

Over the past several months, I’ve received more requests for the best

inexpensive stick vacuum than all other such requests combined. And I get it.

I’ve been looking for my ideal stick vacuum for so long, I’d just about come to the conclusion that my expectations are completely unreasonable—my perfect stick vacuum doesn’t exist.

For me, a stick vacuum is not a substitute for a good, powerful household vacuum that can pull dirt, dust and debris from deep within the pile of a carpet. Just so you

know, I am not looking to get rid of my beloved Sharky. Never! A stick vacuum has a different purpose altogether.

It’s a simple tool designed for quick pick-ups; to clean up spills in the kitchen, tracked in sand, dirt, pet hair, cat litter, dust, and loose debris when you don’t have the time or inclination to haul out a full size vacuum cleaner for such a small task.

A good way to think of a stick vacuum is that it’s an electric broom and dustpan in one. It “sweeps” up and then vacuums away debris in a single pass without the need for the user to bend over or get down on the floor.

My dream stick vacuum would be cordless with a run time of at least 20 minutes

and able to stand alone. In my dreams this stick vacuum is so lightweight I can easily carry it up and down stairs in one hand while carrying a load in the other. It must have an on/off switch so that I don’t have to continuously hold down a trigger during operation.

It needs a generous size dirt and debris cup that is easy to empty and also washable because I like my appliances to be nice and clean. This dreamy stick vacuum would be quiet in operation and able hold a charge while not in use so I could have the option to store it in a closet away from the charger knowing it’s ready to go when needed.

I’ll admit that’s a lot of must-haves, but if I could ask for just onemore feature, I

would want it to be nice looking in a subtle way so that if I were to ever leave it out,

it would add a little beauty to the place, not stand out like a sore thumb.By now you’ve guessed that my dream stick vacuum does exist—I found it. And to my surprise, it has features I’d never thought about like headlights and a swivel head that pivots around table legs and slides under furniture. I’ve been using my

new Eufy HomeVac Cordless Upright-Style Vacuum Cleaner (I call it a stick vac) for about month now and I’m in love.

Eufy weighs about 5 pounds—half the weight of most competitors. And it’s whisper quiet when in operation. Eufy is perfectly balanced to stand alone and a powerhouse of suction with its 28.8 volts of power—far more powerful than other stick vacs out there.

This Eufy has a large 2200 mAh Li-ion (lithium) battery and boy does it deliver! We’re talking cordless performance for up to 50 minutes of vacuuming on a single charge when used in economy mode. I can use it in full power mode (it has two

speeds) for nearly 30 minutes—and no trigger to hold down because it has an on/off button. I’m learning the beauty of a Li-ion battery is that once charged, it holds that charge for months—losing only 5% a month when not in use. Eufy even

has a “fuel gauge” that tells me how much charge remains. It’s amazing how it just keeps going and going … and going!

Speaking of charging, the way I charge Eufy reminds me of the way I charge my mobile phone. It comes with a simple charger that plugs into the back and I can use it with any electrical outlet. It doesn’t have to sit in a “dock.” It can stand on its own while being charged, or hung on a wall via the wall mount accessory.

This Eufy stick vac has a big dirt cup that is easily removed to be emptied and can

be washed in the sink. Eufy has a rolling brush that is also easily removed to be cleaned. This stick vac is completely self-contained with nothing complicated to deal with or keep track of—no attachments, wands, or hoses. It’s beautiful too—

black and very sleek.

At about $130,

the Eufy HomeVac Lightweight Cordless Upright-Style Vacuum

Cleaner is my pick for best inexpensive stick vacuum.

BONUS. I’m excited to let you know that when the folks at Eufy learned about this best inexpensive pick, they offered EC readers an exclusive coupon code. Eufy

HomeVac is 10% off with promo code: Z2EQJYZU which expires on 4/21. Enter

the code at Amazon checkout in the area labeled for Gift Cards & Promotional

Codes. It should look like this (below). You will need to  copy/paste or type the code into the box and then hit “Apply.”

http://www.everydaycheapskate.com

*3)  ARM-based Windows 10 Devices Expected to Launch in Late 2017

https://www.extremetech.com/computing/248132-arm-based-windows-10-devices-expected-launch-late-2017

Author:  Ryan Whitwam, April 21, 2017

Microsoft has dabbled with ARM support in Windows over the years, most famously (and disastrously)  when it launched Windows RT. That stripped down flavor of Windows 8 was a commercial and critical  flop, but Microsoft aims to make ARM-based PCs a thing in the era of  Windows 10 . Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf provided an update on the future of Windows on ARM in a recent  investor call, saying the first Qualcomm-based Windows PCs will be  available at the end of this year Microsoft and Qualcomm first  revealed this plan in December 2016 , but there was little in the way of details at the time. What we do know is Microsoft has learned  from the past, and it won’t be going down the same path as Windows RT. That version of the OS  lacked support for true desktop apps, relying completely on the so-called Modern UI apps that  rolled out with Windows 8. In its new take on ARM PCs, Microsoft has developed a built-in emulator that can run regular desktop apps on the ARM architecture.

Mollenkopf made his comments in connection with the Snapdragon 835, the latest chip from Qualcomm  that is currently only available in the Galaxy S8. This is a quad-core chip based on Qualcomm’s  custom Kryo 280 64-bit CPU core. In current configurations, it can be clocked as high as 2.45GHz.

In a demo last December, Microsoft showed a  Qualcomm  Snapdragon 820 running Windows 10 without any appreciable lag. It worked fine in Edge and even  booted up Photoshop in a respectable amount of time. The main selling point here is efficiency — a  PC powered by an ARM SoC could run for much longer, and the on-die support for cellular modems  means it’ll be easier for OEMs to include mobile data.

View a video here:

https://www.extremetech.com/computing/248132-arm-based-windows-10-devices-expected-launch-late-2017

Watch a youtube video of Windows 10 Running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor

https://www.extremetech.com/computing/248132-arm-based-windows-10-devices-expected-launch-late-2017

ARM chips should also be cheaper than Intel or AMD, which means cheaper machines. Microsoft has  seen less expensive devices like Chromebooks and iPads eat into sales of Windows laptops, and many  of these devices run on ARM. However, ARM-based Chromebooks tend to use less powerful (and  therefore cheaper) ARM chips. Windows needs the power of something like the Snapdragon 835 to be  viable. OEMs might find the savings over Intel parts to be smaller than expected.

The first wave of ARM Windows devices will come from brands other than Microsoft — Lenovo is  rumored to be planning a convertible laptop of some sort. We may get a peek at some early ARM-based  Windows devices at the Build conference in May.

*4)  Researchers Wring Clean Water From the Desert Air

Author:  Jessica Hall, April 20, 2017

Access to clean water is literally a matter of life and death. People in arid regions and  subtropical zones alike face major problems just finding potable water. Diseases like cholera are  spread by contaminated water, and the minerals dissolved in deeply buried desert groundwater salt  the earth when we use that water on croplands. Water catchment and desalination is possible in  humid environments with abundant energy, but what of the places where it’s dry and power doesn’t  come cheap? What of the places where there are no power lines at all? What is a farmer in arid  regions to do?

In the Atacama desert, the driest place on earth, it almost never rains. Cacti that live there  evolved fine fibers to catch droplets out of the fog banks that roll off the ocean. Mimicking them,  we devised the finest of nets, to catch droplets from fog banks and wick them into a reservoir. For  places where it’s damp all the time, we’ve got dehumidifiers that exploit the principles of  condensation and evaporation, capturing water from the air itself. But even these techniques fail  when there’s little moisture in the air to catch, or no electrical infrastructure to run the  compressor for the dehumidifier. To answer the need for a low-overhead water catchment solution,  scientists from MIT and UC Berkeley turned to the power of zirconium crystals.

The crystals in question here aren’t like amethyst points, nor polished-rose-quartz worry stones.  The zirconium is part of a metal-organic framework (MOF): porous lab-grown crystals with tunable  properties that depend on what they’re made of. They’re like an aquarium air stone, or a sponge  made of crystals instead of flexible cellulose.

MOF crystals grow like Tinkertoys assemble: Metal atoms act as hubs, and the sticklike carbon  backbones of organic compounds link the hubs together.

As explained in Service in Science Magazine,  in their article titled, “”new solar-powered device can pull water straight from the desert air | Science | AAAS”

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/04/new-solar-powered-device-can-pull-water-straight-desert-air

By choosing different metals and organics,   chemists can “dial in” the properties of each MOF, controlling  what gases bind to them, and how strongly they hold on. In this case, prior work by professor Omar  Yaghi of MIT showed that a zirconium-based MOF was great at absorbing water from the air, even  under extremely dry conditions. So he teamed up with colleague and professor Evelyn Wang of UC  Berkeley to make a new application for zirconium MOF crystals that did one thing — absorbing water  — and did it very well.

Wang and her students designed a system that used a kilogram of zirconium MOF that had been into a  fine crystalline powder, as a strategic move. Increasing the surface area makes the system more  effective, because it provides more surfaces on which water droplets can condense. Service  elaborates:

At night the chamber is opened, allowing ambient air to diffuse through the porous MOF and water  molecules to stick to its interior surfaces, gathering in groups of eight to form tiny cubic  droplets. In the morning, the chamber is closed, and sunlight entering through a window on top of  the device then heats up the MOF, which liberates the water droplets and drives them—as  vapor—toward the cooler condenser.

Sunlight entering the chamber creates a temperature differential, driving water droplets to the  cooler side of the apparatus — the place with the powdered zirconium crystals — and the droplets  caught in the zirconium powder migrate toward the cool condenser plate, from where they drip as  liquid water into a reservoir. The system is so effective that even in air with only 20 percent  humidity, which is about the relative humidity of the Sahara, a kilogram of zirconium MOF powder  produced 2.8L of liquid water  from a night’s worth of air.

The problem here is that deploying this specific MOF system at scale doesn’t work. Zirconium is  expensive. But the researchers are working on a version that uses aluminum, which would be a whole  lot cheaper. From there, it’s not far to the marketplace. The capability to passively wring water  from the desert air using just metallic crystals would be a phenomenal boon to water-stressed areas  worldwide.

*5)  VictorStream New Generation 4.8 and personal note fromDan

Yesterday I found out something  interesting on the Stream.

When trying to enterin a password that included a pound sign  I kept choosing the wrong pound sign.  If pressing zero five times a “pound sign” is found.  However, pressing zero 16 times the “pound”  is found but it is actually “pound sterling” for European currency.

Once I found the first pound sign was correct, the password when in successfully.

This Version 4.8 software upgrade provides the following new features and enhancements:

Added support for dynamic menus in Daisy online services which support them.

Improved Internet time synchronization.

NFB Newsline

Added confirmation prompt before “NFB unsubscribe”.

Adding/Removing NFB publications no longer causes the Stream to crash during NFB book  synchronization.

Publication list for “Breaking News” group now returns consistent results instead of returning the  list of publication from a random state (or crashing).

Bookshelf announcement for podcast is now correctly made on startup.

Added new multitap entry type: numeric.

Added support to consolidate audio notes.

Added support to Delete Folder for Daisy2, Niso, Music, Saved Podcast and Text books.

Other bug fixes and performance improvements

*6)  Anker Soundcore Nanobluetooth with big sound. Super portable speaker with built-in mic. 

 By Cheryl Spencer

cheryl@theblindperspective.com

there are times when  you want to share your music or a song from YouTube. Well, if you are not home I have found the  cutest little speaker that will literally fit in your jacket pocket, it is that small.

 it is the Anker Soundcore Nanobluetooth with big sound. Super portable speaker with built-in mic.  and it is available on Amazon in the US, Canada, and the UK. When I bought it, it was an astounding  low price of just $16.99. However, the price has since gone up to $24.99. Still a bargain for the  sound and portability you get.

 Further details:

 Small Body Big Sound: Incredibly slim and compact but pumps out crystal-clear sound via a 3W audio  driver.  • Premium Design: Sleek aluminum-alloy shell is both elegant and resilient. Available in 4  stunning finishes that perfectly match your phone.  • Advanced Technology: Bluetooth 4.0 gives universal compatibility with all Bluetooth-enabled  devices.  *Instantly connect to your smartphone and use up to 33 feet away. Extended battery life delivers 4  hours of continuous playtime.

 What you get:

 Anker SoundCore nano, hand-strap, Micro USB charging cable, Micro USB to Aux cord, welcome guide,  our worry-free 18-month warranty and friendly customer service.

 I took this little baby out of the box, and at first could not figure out how to even turn it on.  But after giving it an extensive brailling, I discovered a soft spot on the bottom of the unit. I  pushed it and low and behold it turned on with a musical intro. I then paired it to my I phone and  played a song. Wow! It blew me away. The sound was exceptionally good coming from such a small  speaker. I was very impressed.

 . I demoed it for my friends and they all ordered one. I also took it to an I Access I phone  meeting and shared it with the group. They were surprised at the quality of the sound. Most of the  members ended up ordering one or two for themselves.

 This little thing makes a great traveling speaker and excellent for the on the go excursions.

*7)  Internet Explorer Favorites  Tips

 By Karen Santiago Editor of “The Blind Perspective”

http://www.theblindperspective.com/current.htm

 I don’t know about you but I have a lot of websites saved in my Internet Explorer favorites. If  you do not organize your websites within your favorites, they are then listed in the order you  saved them. However, you can organize them alphabetically with these easy steps!

  1. Open internet explorer
  2. Press Alt A to open your favorites
  3. Arrow down to anyone of your favorite websites
  4. Press your application key (or Shift F10)
  5. Arrow up (usually two times) to Sort by name
  6. Press enter and now your favorites will be in alphabetical order Note: If you add anymore favorites to the list, they will automatically go to the end of the list  until you repeat the above process

 Have you ever encountered a webpage with hundreds of links within the text, making it a bit  distracting to read? There are many web pages like this; the first one that comes to mind is  Wikipedia. Maybe you would just like to read the information without being distracted by all those  links. Well there is a way you can do this using Jaws settings.

 While on the web page you want to read, do the following:

  1. Press Alt, Insert, and the letter S; this will take you into the scheme dialogue 2. Press the letter S to get to say all text only
  2. Press enter to activate

 Now you can press Insert, down arrow to read all without the link annoyances  To set the page back to its default do the following.

 While on the web page:

  1. Press Alt, Insert, and the letter S to go to the scheme dialogue 2. Press the letter C until you get to Classic (be sure to listen, since there are multiple  classic options)  3. Press enter to activate

 Lastly, how about being able to copy some information from a website, while stripping out its  format that is inherited from the web page. This will remove unnecessary formatting. This happens  to be one of my favorite keystrokes especially when copying a new recipe. Here is how to do it.  While on the web page you want to copy:

  1. Select the text you want using your select commands
  2. Then copy using Control C
  3. Open Word or outlook
  4. Press the key combination: Alt, H, V, T

 You will then have a text only document

 I hope one, two, or all three of these suggestions may be useful for you.

*8)  At long last, an accessible screen sharing solution: Zoom

April 19, 2017 — L. Legendary 

By the time you read to the end of this post, if you are a screen reader user, your employability  potential could be vastly improved. At long last, there is an accessible screen sharing platform  that can make the difference between participating in mainstream work, running a remote  demonstration independently, leading a video conference, or giving an online presentation, without  sighted assistance. What’s more, this is not a work-around. It’s cutting edge, elegant, and best of  all…mainstream technology.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the pervasive unemployment situation in the blindness  community has been the inability to access some of the most commonly used technology that is  standard in many businesses around the world: Screen sharing. the most widely-used platforms,  referred to by names such as Go To My PC, along with Go To Webinar and Go To Meeting iterations,  Web X, Log Me In, and others, have long been inaccessible for screen reader users. If you have ever  found yourself forced to reject a job opportunity, or being forcibly excluded from one, simply  because you cannot use this type of technology, you are not alone. Years ago, I had to leave a  lucrative position because the job duties included the implementation of a screen sharing program,  and I was no longer able to do the work. There was no accessible solution, and at the time, no  amount of plying the development team with requests for accessibility support proved fruitful. this  heartbreaking situation is no doubt repeated throughout the community, as the technology landscape  seems to widen the so-called digital divide.

Recently, I found myself in a similar position. I was presented with a remote teaching opportunity  that, seemingly, I would be unable to accept, thanks to the inaccessibility of the platform being  used, one of those mentioned above.

The job requirements included that I not only teach my content, but that I also interact with the  students, fielding questions, taking a regular roll call, keeping tabs on who was focused on the  presentation screen, as opposed to surfing the web, launching video, using on-screen handouts, and  reporting on student activity statistics. As the “host,” or moderator of the class, content  producer and presenter, I would be required to manage all these tasks while teaching extended  continuing education courses lasting several hours. Aware that the platform already in use by the  company with which I was contracted was inaccessible, I hired a consultant to assist me in finding  an alternative. I was told that if I could find such an alternative, the job was mine. Otherwise,  the job would go to a sighted educator.

The consultant evaluated a half-dozen screen sharing products, from well-known tech brands to  blindness-specific conference room chat platforms. If one of the options suited the technical  specifications of the company I would be working with, such as attendee size, real-time uptime  support, or audio/video quality, it failed on the access piece. If accessibility to any degree was  supported, then it seemed to favor the attendee, rather than the presenter. If a platform proved to  be usable with a screen reader, it failed to meet my audience management or interactivity  requirements. Frustrated beyond belief, I interrogated my consultant friend, demanding to know why  there was no accessible platform available. None of his answers were satisfactory on any level.  This was not, however, for lack of trying. Accounts were opened, or, borrowed. Developers were  contacted. Support tickets and bug reports were submitted. Mock presentations were crafted. Apps  were downloaded, remote screen reader control was used, calls to colleagues were made. Finally, he  concluded, there was just no accessible solution to be had.

I was livid. I ranted and raved and paced the room while I had him on the phone, railing at the  injustice of it all. It was maddening to me that but for an inaccessible video player/launcher, or  some such triviality, I would be denied meaningful work. this was totally unacceptable to me. My  consultant offered to create a work-around, something that would enable screen sharing that  re-routed the audio from my screen reader and video in such a way that the audience could hear one,  but not the other. Something about a mixer…a second sound card…I don’t know…I was in a rage fog.  “It may be too complicated,” he warned me. “You’ll have to manage all this on the fly. And if it  goes down, there’s no one to get you up and running.”

In a fit of fury, I pounded three words into a search engine: Accessible video conferencing. Insert  clouds parting, glittering golden rays of sunshine pouring forth while the angels sing an alleluia  here.

Enter Zoom. Zoom is the first mainstream accessible screen sharing platform that is robust,  mainstream, feature-rich, mainstream, and accessible to both presenter/content originator and  attendees. Did I mention it’s mainstream?

This is the solution you’ve been waiting for… this is the answer to the interview question, we use  X Y Z product here, and the job requires you give presentations…or demos…or consultations…or  product training…or teach classes…or collaborate with team members in a satellite location…does  that sound like something you can do?”

Now, with Zoom, the answer can be yes.

The Zoom web site is loaded with lots of what you would expect with regard to features and  benefits, but this is what jumped out at me right away: The Accessibility page. I only have three  words for you…compliance, compliance, compliance. Zoom is not new, but their accessibility  improvements are. From the Zoom web site:

“Zoom is committed to ensuring universal access to our products and services, so that all meeting  hosts and participants can have the best experience possible. Zoom’s accessibility features enable  users with disabilities to schedule, attend, and participate in Zoom meetings and webinars, view  recordings, and access administrative features across our supported devices.”

Here’s the link to the Zoom home page:

https://zoom.us

Zoom actually has a dedicated accessibility team, and the update notes are logged as recently as  February in some cases, and last week in others. Zoom services are compatible with standard screen  readers such as VoiceOver on iOS and OSX platforms, TalkBack on Android devices, and NVDA for  Windows platforms. Check it out on the Zoom accessibility page:

https://zoom.us/accessibility

Apologizing in advance for my use of hyperbole here, this product is revolutionary. For me, it is  going to make the difference between being able to do work or not. As with many similar platforms,  there are several levels of feature sets, all with tiered pricing, but there is also a free basic  level that is better than just a trial version or a limited-time demo. For those of you who have  been trying to solve the problem of interviewing multiple people in different locations while  recording everyone for a podcast without sounding like one or more of you is talking from the  bottom of a trash dumpster, this is your solution. Want to start up a speaking business? Offer  classes? Show off your work product without compatibility concerns? The free, basic level lets you  interview or screen share/chat with one person with no time limit, or more than one person for 40  minutes. You can record directly from the dashboard. Need to present to 100 attendees? 1000? 5000?  You can…for any number of competitive pricing models.

I don’t know who I could contact on the Zoom team to thank them for what amounts to a technological  miracle for me, but I am thrilled. And did I mention it’s mainstream?

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I did apologize to my consultant for yelling.

LL

http://accessibleinsights.info/blog/2017/04/19/at-long-last-an-accessible-screen-sharing-solution-zoom/

Notification of this article’s availability from

“Top Tech Tidbits for Thursday, April 20, 2017 – Volume 607”

http://www.flying-blind.com/

 

*9)  Microsoft Office Lens review: An accessible way to read printed documents

April 18, 2017

How can you read printed documents if you can’t see them? Our Assistive Technology Officer Alex,  reviews Office Lens Reader, a free scanning app, that can help you access printed documents.

As vision impaired people we will often come across inaccessible print documents. This is very  common in classrooms where the teacher will provide the class with hand-outs but often in the wrong  format. It is either too small, or for those who have no sight it is completely inaccessible.

There are scanners and other devices which have Optical Character Recognition (OCR) which extract  the writing from an image and convert it into plain text so a reader can understand it, but often  these devices are expensive and not very portable.

Thankfully, app developers are stepping up to change that. Scanning apps are easier and cheaper to  create, and being on your phone, extremely portable.

The most popular OCR scanning app is KNFBReader. Until recently it was the only option if you  wanted good results, but with a hefty price tag of £99.99, it is still not an affordable option for  many people.

Introducing Microsoft Office Lens

This changed when Microsoft came out with their free  Office Lens app,  which is a scanner that uses your camera to create digital copies of printed documents such as  business cards and receipts. Once you take a picture of a document you can trim , crop and edit the  image. What a lot of other people might not know is that it acts very well as an OCR scanner as  well.  Just take a picture of some writing on a sign or paper, and have it read back to you using their  Immersive Reader.

How to use Office Lens

Although Android has Office Lens, it doesn’t have Immersive Reader (which is needed for documents  to be read out loud) unfortunately, so this tutorial will be on the iPhone and other iOS devices  only.

Once downloaded, open up the app and go through the welcome screen.

Allow access to the camera.

Point the back of the phone towards some text.

If you are using VoiceOver, Frame Guide will help you capture the best shot, it will tell you to  move back if you’re too close or go left/right or up/down to get the whole document in the frame.

Double tap the red capture button at the center bottom of the screen, to take a picture.

When it finishes processing, it will give you the option to edit it, or add another picture, useful  if you’re scanning multiple documents such as a book.

You don’t need to edit anything, just tap on the done button to export the picture you’ve just  taken.

From the list of apps where you can export, select Immersive Reader.

It will then ask you to log into your Microsoft account, if you have an Outlook.com, Live or  Hotmail email you can sign in, if not go and create one.

Then it will scan the image for text.

Once scanned, the written text from the document will now be on your screen, you can read it using  VoiceOver by placing a finger on the screen, or there is a play button to use one of their voices  to read the whole document.

Once you are done listening you can tap close, which will give you the option to save it by  exporting to another Microsoft app such as Word or OneDrive. If you don’t want to save it, just tap  close again, and it will take you back to the capture screen so you can scan a new document.

And there you have it, a free alternative to KNFBReader. Carry this app in your pocket and whenever  you are presented with print text, take a picture and get it read back to you.

Get job ready by learning to use Assistive Technology

Technology is levelling the playing field at work, so in order to boost your chances of getting a  job, you need to know how to use the latest Assistive technology. By joining our 

Employability programme,

http://www.rsbc.org.uk/our-services/london-based-services/employability/

 you’ll get access to one-to-one sessions from Alex which will teach you to use the latest products  so you can get tasks completed in the workplace. Register at the link below to book your induction.

http://www.rsbc.org.uk/blogs/microsoft-office-lens-review-an-accessible-way-to-read-printed-documents/

*10)  How does the Amazon Echo help people with a vision impairment?

RNIB – Supporting people with sight loss

Thursday, 6 April 2017

https://www.rnib.org.uk/nb-online/how-does-amazon-echo-help-disabled-people

Virtual Assistants such as Siri and Cortana who respond to audible commands have been in our phones  for a while, but the standalone Amazon Echo gadget heralds the arrival of a new type of device that  could be of enormous benefit to many people – in particular, people who have a vision impairment.

The Amazon Echo has been on sale in the UK since October 2016. In December, Robin Christopherson  MBE, Head of Digital Inclusion at  AbilityNet ,

https://www.abilitynet.org.uk/

 was given the Echo Dot (a mini version of the Amazon Echo) for his birthday. Find out what Robin  thinks of the new button-free, hands-free and eye-free gadget.

The Echo is a black column around fifteen inches tall and four inches wide. At around an inch  thick, the Amazon Echo Dot is exactly the same as the normal Amazon Echo but with the bottom 90 per  cent of the shiny black column (comprising the big bassy speaker) lopped off. The Dot may be  smaller, but it still has a great-sounding speaker in there (and it can also be connected via a  cable or Bluetooth to a beefier speaker if you wish for a bigger sound) and is a snip at £50  compared to the standard Echo price-tag of £150.

There is no screen and the Echo is permanently on. You just talk to the air and the Echo’s voice,  known as ‘Alexa’, responds. There are a couple of buttons on the top but these are really never  used day-to-day.

What can the Amazon Echo do?

It’s probably easier to ask what the Echo can’t do. All you have to do is start your instruction by  saying “Alexa” before your question or request. For example, “Alexa, play me a Queen song” or  “Alexa, order me some more Toilet Duck” and within a trice you’re listening to your favourite tunes  or running to the door. Well ok, perhaps deliveries aren’t that instantaneous but with next-day  delivery it’s almost that quick.

Seven things a blind person can ask their Amazon Echo

As a blind person the Amazon Echo offers loads of useful functions – my current favourite requests  are:

News: “Alexa, give me the news” – and the news and sports summary you’ll hear is updated every hour

Facts: “Alexa, how tall is the Queen?” or “Alexa, tell me a random fact”

Jokes: “Alexa, tell me a joke” and “Alexa, tell me another one”

Timers and alarms: “Alexa, set a timer for three minutes” or “Alexa, wake me up tomorrow at 7am”

Radio: “Alexa, play Radio 4 Extra on TuneIn” or “Alexa, play The Prairie Home Companion station on  TuneIn”

Podcasts: “Alexa, play This Week in Tech on TuneIn” or “Alexa, play 99 per cent Invisible on TuneIn”

Books: “Alexa, play Ready Player One on Audible” or “Alexa, play my book” to resume listening.

Adding Skills to Amazon Echo

Several thousand ‘skills’ are available to Alexa – these are like apps you can enable to give her  added abilities. For example you can ask “Alexa, enable the National Rail skill” to be able to plan  train journeys and get information on delays. Skills can be searched for and enabled through the  Alexa app on iPhone or Android mobiles but can also be enabled through the Echo itself. Just say  “Alexa, enable the Coffee Chef skill”.

If you say, “Alexa, enable the Birdsong skill” the Echo will play you any bird’s song or test you  to see if you can guess a mystery song – so although you can’t check Twitter on the Echo yet you  can check your tweets (sorry, I couldn’t help making that joke).

Use your Amazon Echo to control appliances in the home

You can also control other smart devices such as the Philips Hue lights, the Nest thermostat and  your Sonos wifi speakers. And if you want to control any electrical device around the house by your  voice alone, you can buy a simple wifi-enabled switchbox.

Plug the switchbox into the wall and then plug into it the device that isn’t itself ‘smart’ and you  will be able to turn it on and off with a command to your Echo.

How can the Amazon Echo help people with disabilities?

Whilst all of the above is fantastic fun for everyone, the applications for people with  disabilities are obvious. Anyone who struggles with technology or physically controlling their  environment would benefit from the Echo (or cute little Echo Dot) so long as they are able to speak  and hear well enough.

How can Amazon Echo help with medical appointments?

The Echo can remind you to take your tablets – just ask Alexa to set any number of alarms on a  daily, weekday or weekend basis. You can also add appointments to your calendar so you won’t miss  another dentist or doctor’s appointment. However, at present, it won’t give you a reminder to  attend those appointments so I find it best to ask over breakfast “Alexa – what am I doing today?”  or “What are my appointments next Tuesday?”.

Does the Amazon Echo work with artificial voices?

Finally, I have tested my Amazon Echo Dot with synthetic speech and yes it works just fine. I used  VoiceOver on my phone to speak out commands to the Echo and Alexa understood every word.

This means that someone using a communication aid, like Professor Hawking, would also be able to  use it without difficulty. You don’t even need to have good speech to use the Amazon Echo.

Could the Echo replace Smartphones?

The Amazon Echo certainly doesn’t replace a computer or smartphone but it can already do so much to  help with everyday tasks and queries, and new skills are being added every day. And it isn’t just  for the tech-confident; for someone who doesn’t have a computer or smartphone, and perhaps wouldn’t  ever want one, a quick set-up of the Echo by a friend or family member means that they too can  enjoy its usefulness without ever needing to ‘get to grips with computers’.

Final thoughts

Richard Godley, Team Leader of RNIB’s Advice Service, reminds us that caution should be exercised  when using voice-activated gadgets especially as a blind or partially sighted person. “One of the  main issues is that when the user asks Alexa a question, the Echo uses Google or another search  engine to source the answer and often, the first few results are bought by companies who pay to  have their websites displayed at the top of the results page. In reality, expensive goods or  services or “fake news” may be relayed at the top, thus relayed to the Echo user as fact or as the  best commercial option available and users may not ask hear the second or third result from Google  to compare it to.”

Paul Porter, Technology For Life Team Manager at RNIB, said: “Products such as the Amazon Echo,  Google Home and RNIB In Your Pocket have taken voice recognition to a new level. It is true, if you  search for something on Google, the results will be skewed by advertising. However, as the  technology improves and gadgets get better at sifting through what has been paid for and what is  organic, I’m sure companies will want to be included.” Paul added, “Anyone using an internet device  needs to be mindful of pitfalls and scams. Given that voice activation is so good now users  shouldn’t be afraid to use it. You could even say the same of any technology that uses the  internet.”

Further information

If you’d like more information or advice about whether to buy the Amazon Echo, contact the RNIB  Technology For Life Team by emailing  tfl@rnib.org.uk  or call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999.

AbilityNet  is the UK charity that helps disabled people including those with sight loss to use computers and  the internet by adapting and adjusting their devices. For more information, advice or guidance from  Robin, please feel free to call 0800 269545 or email  enquiries@abilitynet.org.uk

*11)  five videos demonstrating the use of smartphone apps  in compensating for sight loss

Here are five videos demonstrating the use of smartphone apps that Henshaws deems to be most useful in compensating for sight loss. The page also lets you sign up for their monthly email announcement list so you can learn about future offerings:

https://www.henshaws.org.uk/apps/

 

There’s been an explosion of apps produced using artificial intelligence to overcome the issues of  sight loss. They enable your smartphone to do what your eyes can no longer (or never could!) do.

What’s more the vast majority of them are free. They can be used in ways you may never have  imagined. Let us introduce you to our favourites.

 

Introducing Be My Eyes

BeMyEyes enables anyone with a visual impairment to connect to a sighted volunteer, through live  video, so that they can explain what’s in front of them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVhttO1rqqo

 

 

Introducing BeSpecular

BeSpecular is a fantastic app that enables anyone with a visual impairment to get an audio  description of something they’ve photographed – from a real person – within minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdEFIiwrE30

 

 

Introducing Station Alert UK

 Train Station Alert UK

Knowing where to get off the train is not easy when you have little or no vision – in fact many  sighted people often miss their stop! Check out Station Alert UK, which will notify you when you’re  at your stop so you can sit back and enjoy your journey.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2YiPMVd0DI

 

 

Introducing Aipoly

Aipoly enables your smartphone to understand objects, and colors, through artificial intelligence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56wDOyErzwU

 

 

Introducing TapTapSee

TapTapSee enables your smartphone to understand objects through artificial intelligence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh_eXEpSbcU

 

Sign up to Henshaws Knowledge mailing list

When visiting the link below, if using screenreading software, press the letter H twice. The cursor is moved down to:

“Sign up to Henshaws Knowledge mailing list”

Directly below this heading are editfields for firstname, last name, email address and a few checkboxes regarding personal visual impairment.

Lastly is the link for siging up for future tips to be sent via email.

some edit fields to fill out for subscribing.

https://www.henshaws.org.uk/apps/#content

*12)  Baba Yetu (The Lord’s Prayer in Swahili)-Alex Boyé, BYU Men’s Chorus & Philharmonic; Christopher Tin

 When singing sensation Alex Boye teamed up with the BYU Men’s Chorus, we knew we were in for a  special treat. 300 students from BYU College gathered together for an afternoon of pure magic, as  they recorded the popular hymn at the top of South Fork in Provo Canyon.

 At first we only see Alex, as he wanders the fields alone. His powerful voice is already  captivating, but the song is about to get much more interesting. The camera begins zooming out, and  that is when the real show begins. Suddenly, the field is swarming with people. The camera  continues to pan out and the magnitude of what lies ahead begins to take shape. Not only is the  entire BYU Men’s Chorus now on the field, but an orchestra joins in, too!

Get ready to hear “The Lord’s Prayer” like you’ve never heard it before. Even though you may not  know the language, the message is still powerfully clear. Get ready to feel chills throughout your  body as you listen to the Swahili version of this popular classic attached!

Here is the link to watch a video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsINANZ6Riw

the song is attached to this newsletter.

*13)  Bible Verse of The Day

John 14:13 (NKJV) 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be  glorified in the Son.

Are we asking or are we just waiting? If we are asking then the answer is here, or it’s in the  works as we believe.

If we are just waiting to see what God will do and we haven’t asked Him for whatever it is that we  may need or want, then it is what it is.

Nothing is happening. We can’t blame it on God if we don’t  follow directions.

We may say, “well, I don’t want to ask Him because there are many people who are worse off than I  am. They need the help more than we do”. So does this mean that God must only have a small  inventory, a limited supply?

It’s up to us to follow commands, not make them.

This is not a prosperity teaching. This is about learning how to ask God to help get us out of what  we got ourselves into. And it’s about being relieved from bondage; the things that hold us down and  keep us from entering into all that God wants from us and for us. We have to get free from those  things that put distance between us and God.

You see, if we have bondage then we are not able to walk out the plan that God has for us to its  fullest. We may do a little here and a little there, as time allows but never as fully as we could  if we weren’t in bondage to other things.

Bondage to anything spells captivity. That thing takes up the time that would otherwise be  available for us to do the things God may have for us to do, even if all He asks us to do is to sit  at His feet and rest.

If God wants us to take the time to do it, we have to be able to say, “yes  God, I am here”

Some of us today are not in a place to be able to do this. But, that doesn’t mean it has to stay  this way. It just means we need to fix it, by asking God for help.

God wants all of us, not just a little piece of us. He wants us to be free to move when He asks us  to. He wants our minds to be clear and rested, not stressed and overwhelmed.

If we are stuck owing everyone something, like our time, our money, and our energy, then we have  not made ourselves available for Him. We are slaves to our own plan.

It’s time to start asking God to help us get completely free of the things that we are in bondage  to.

The first step is to understand that God expects us to come to HIM for help and ask. We ask through  the precious name of His perfect Son, Jesus Christ.

It’s important that, before we ask, we get His understanding and knowledge on what will be good for  us to ask for. Sometimes we may already know. But if for some reason we don’t, we shouldn’t just  start rambling things off that we think we need.

Let Him guide us in our prayers. Let it be serious and focused. And take notes. Pay attention to  every detail, and be expectant.

Remember, it is God’s will to help us. It is His will to give to us as we ask. We don’t ask so that  we may prosper in our own way, or for selfish reasons.

Our goal should be that He can have MORE of us and be glorified through us.

That’s why we ask. Amen.

*14)  Trivia for the Week:

  1. Who was the U.S. President when Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne?
  2. Dwight D. Eisenhower  
  3. John F. Kennedy  
  4. Jimmy Carter  
  5. Harry S. Truman 

Answer: Answer: Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain who turns 91 today, is the longest-reigning monarch in  British history. When Elizabeth became Queen in 1952, Harry Truman was President of the United  States. During the Queen’s reign, there have been a total of 13 U.S. presidents including Harry  Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy  Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now Donald  Trump.

  1. Which American Revolutionary War colonel reportedly said, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes”?

  1. William Prescott  
  2. Ethan Allen
  3. John Paul Jones
  4. Nathan Hale Answer: William Prescott was an American colonel in the Revolutionary War who commanded the rebel  forces in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Prescott gave the famous command, “Do not fire until you see  the whites of their eyes”, such that the rebel troops may shoot at the enemy at shorter ranges, and  therefore more accurately and so conserve their limited stocks of ammunition. The Americans fought  for as long as they could before they were forced to retreat and surrender Bunker Hill to the  British. This was the battle that made Colonel Prescott famous.

  1. What was the name of the Oklahoma City bomber?
  2. Ted Kaczynski
  3. Ted Bundy
  4. James Earl Ray
  5. Timothy McVeigh

Answer: On this day in 1995, a truck-bomb explosion outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building  in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, left 168 people dead and hundreds more injured. The blast was set off  by anti-government militant Timothy McVeigh, who in 2001 was executed for his crimes. His  co-conspirator Terry Nichols received life in prison. It was the deadliest act of terrorism within  the United States prior to the September 11 attacks, and remains the most significant act of  domestic terrorism in United States history.

*15) Today In History

Today in History

April 21, 1910

Author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, died in Redding, Connecticut.

*16)  Facts of the week

The Queen is the only person in Britain who can drive without a license or number plate on her  state car.

The spitting spider doesn’t wait for insects to get caught in its web; it spits out sticky strings  that capture the prey where it stands.

Some species of birds, like the robin, can only lay one egg a day. To ensure that all the eggs in  the clutch hatch around the same time, the female will let the earlier eggs “cool” in the nest  between layings so as to let the “fresher” eggs catch up.

World War I ended at precisely eleven o’clock on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year  1918.

The first rhinoplasty was performed in India around the 5th century CE. It involved a creeper vine  leaf, a hunk of flesh sliced off of the patient’s cheek, and two small pipes to serve as nostrils.  The procedure was wildly popular—albeit involuntary. At the time, Hindu law decreed that the  schnozzes be sliced off all adulterers and—human nature being what it is—that turned out to include  an awful lot of people.

In 1907, an ad campaign for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes offered a free box of cereal to any woman who  would wink at her grocer.

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