Friday Finds for May

Friday Finds for May 12 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 The Untold Story of the Talking Book
2 An Update on Amazon Accessibility and Using the NVDA Screen Reader with Kindle
3 Easily Search the Deep Web to Find What You Want
4 How to hang on to Windows 7 for the long run
5 What Causes the Air to Smell Nice After it Rains
6 Interesting Facts
7 A Window into KNFB Reader
8 How To Make Free Voice Calls From Your Amazon Echo
9 23 Ways to Slash Your Electricity Bill
10 PrismoGo is a new iOS App for reading print
11 Rita’s iDevice Advice for May 8, 2017, Updating Stored Credit Card Information on the
12 Less Is More with Mine Racer from 2MB Solutions
13 Forgiveness
14 Who We Are in Christ

Articles start Next
*1) The Untold Story of the Talking Book
Book Review: Giving a Listen to The Untold Story of the Talking Book, by Matthew Rubery
Bill Holton
I received my first Talking Book player sometime in 1969, about two years after I was no longer able to read most printed material. This was one of the old, black fabric-covered players, weighing about 10 pounds, with a .25-inch headphone jack located at one corner of the foldup speaker. Soon after I received my first Sony reel to reel, and I can still recall the excitement I experienced with the arrival of each new book in its heavy strapped container filled with either several reels of magnetic tape or a stack of disks snuggled in paper sleeves that usually reeked of cigarette smoke. My first Recordings for the Blind (now Learning Ally) order included 70 books I had always wanted to read, and their textbooks were critical in obtaining both my undergraduate and graduate degrees.
I have witnessed a large portion of the history of Talking Books personally, from those heavy disk players to their lightweight plastic replacements, from disks to cassettes to the leap over CD titles directly, if not belatedly, to digital cartridges and downloads. I have also enjoyed an Audible subscription since late 2000, setting my 56k modem to download a book before I went to bed with the hope that it would be there come morning so I could load it onto my cutting edge Digital Audio Player. Despite my nearly half-century with Talking Books, recorded textbooks, and commercially available best sellers, there is still a lot of history I missed.
The concept of a “talking book” goes all the way back to Thomas Edison, whose very first recording was “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” There’s a lot of history between that first, lost recording and my latest Audible download. Happily, this history has been researched and compiled in an excellent new book from Harvard University Press, The Untold Story of the Talking Book, by Matthew Rubery.
The book is available in multiple formats: hardcover, Kindle, iBook, audiobook edition, and audio CD. I felt it only proper to obtain the audiobook version, which is produced by Blackstone Audio.
Although the book’s title uses the term “Talking Book,” this history is not limited to books produced by the Library of Congress and the Royal National Institute of Blind People. The author uses this term because, as you will see, originally it was a goal, a dream waiting for technology to catch up in order to be realized.
Preface
The author begins with an extended preface wrestling with these three issues surrounding recorded books:
Does an audiobook have standing as an actual book?
The public’s changing reception and acceptance of audiobooks.
The still ongoing controversy over whether listening to a book counts as reading.
Rubery presents the facts without judgment, though in my personal opinion there is one area in which the facts are incomplete. When discussing whether or not listening to a book is the same as reading, the author cites studies of braille readers in which they discover that the visual cortex of such readers is stimulated the same as it is with print readers. In people who listen to books these areas are not stimulated. There seems to be little research as to what happens when a blind person listens to an audiobook. Myself, I often find my eyes tracking from left to right as I listen–especially when I am listening to synthesized speech, where the line breaks are more obvious–and the letters and words appear in my mind’s eye. I asked a blind friend who has never read print and who is a proficient braille reader about this–he relates the same phenomenon, only with braille letters and words. Interestingly, both of us find ourselves visualizing the words of overheard conversations when we are bored.
The remainder of the book is divided into three parts: Origins of Audiobooks, Talking Books for the Blind, and Audiobooks Go Mainstream.
Origins of Audiobooks
The very first recording Thomas Edison ever made was a recitation of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” which can be considered the first audiobook. The original recording was lost, but Edison did re-record it, and you can hear this recording on YouTube.
Since recording technology could only capture minutes of sound at the time, the dream of audiobooks was just that, a dream. But it is fun, learning about some of the grandiose dreams some people had, including hats containing audio encyclopedias, stores stocked with “Books in bottles,” and public books with tubes leading in through the windows of nearby houses so the great works of literature could be played to all.
Talking Books for the Blind
The lion’s share of this book is devoted to the history of Talking Books for the Blind, which were originally sponsored here in the US by our own American Foundation for the Blind, and in Great Britain by the Royal National Institute of Blind People. In both cases it took the blinded veterans of World War I to spur action. Prior to the war, blindness was not considered a societal obligation. But blinded veterans were a different matter.
The first Talking Book produced by AFB and the Library of Congress was a recording of “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It was followed by such patriotic documents as the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. I am told that the Library of Congress still has copies of these old recordings. I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage them to create a sampler book of some of these recordings.
At first it was deemed that all recorded books should be instructional and inspirational. Very little fiction was allowed at first, but readers began to demand it, and so things changed.
Rubery offers a number of snippets of correspondents from early readers. I was especially amused by the woman who excoriated the service severely for sending her what she considered to be a filthy book, but ended her letter by requesting she be sent another book by the same author.
The book covers the issues of book selection, censorship–both sexual and political–and the move from active to passive narration, where the narrator does his or her best to remain in the background. It also delves into the initial difficulties encountered when seeking rights. For example, both Margret Mitchell and Rudyard Kipling resisted for years having their books recorded for the blind, as both were convinced the recordings would wind up being played on the radio and thus affect future book royalties.
Initially, Helen Keller was against Talking Books, as she felt it would diminish braille literacy. However since most blind people were older and did not know braille she changed her viewpoint, and in fact, it was due to her encouragement the Library of Congress became involved.
Audiobooks Go Mainstream
Ironically, according to Rubery, it was the success of Talking Books for the Blind that for years inhibited the general public from considering audiobooks. Recorded books were for the blind, and they were a lazy way to read, and it wasn’t really reading, anyway.
Not until 1952 when an upstart recording company called Caedmon Audio released Dylan Thomas’s “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” did people begin listening to what were then called “spoken word” recordings. Indeed, I find on Wikipedia that the original recording was a 2008 selection for the United States National Recording Registry, stating that it is “credited with launching the audiobook industry in the United States.” I’d like to amend that to “commercially available audiobooks.” Other famous authors followed, including Carl Sandburg and Arthur C. Clark. An LPs still-limited space meant there were considerable abridgements, which led to adaptions, and even dramatizations, with full casts, music, and sound effects.
Rubery concludes the book with a history of commercially available audiobooks, from Books on Tape all the way through books on CD and now downloadable books from various sources, including the reigning king, Audible.
The old arguments have returned: Should the works be dramatized or narrated in a neutral voice that stays out of the way of the narrative? Are we “reading” or “listening” to books, which can now even be read to us by artificial speech? There is also one new controversy not present in Talking Books for the Blind: should the complete text be recorded, or are abridgements OK?
Happily, the last of these has more or less been decided on the unabridged side of the argument. As for the other two, does it really matter? Either way, we are consuming more books, making better use of our time to “read” or “listen” on the go. Here I have to agree wholeheartedly with the author when he sums up the audiobook experience delightfully: “Audiobooks are for people who hate reading and for those of us who love reading. Audiobooks are for people who can’t read, and for people who can’t read enough.”
Epilogue
When I was 16 I read what was available; these days I read what I want. If I see an interesting author on TV, or hear about a great new book on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” I can nearly always find it available in some accessible format immediately. I can’t imagine a life without books, and this book was a real “eye-opener” as to all it took to get us from there to here.
Above all, let us not forget that, sighted or blind, for nearly all of us our first experience with books was via the spoken word–the voices of our mothers and fathers who read to us and instilled in us the joys and pleasures of a good book.
About the Author
Matthew Rubery is an audiobook historian and Professor of Modern Literature at Queen Mary University of London. He edited the essay collection Audiobooks, Literature, and Sound Studies and co-curated “How We Read: A Sensory History of Books for Blind People,” a public exhibition held at the UK’s first annual Being Human festival.
Book Information
Title: The Untold Story of the Talking Book, by Matthew Rubery (Harvard University Press)
Price: Hardcover, $29.95; Kindle, $16.17; Audible, $24.47 (or free with 30 day Audible trial); audio CD, $29.95
Available from:
Harvard University Press ,
http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674545441
Amazon ,
https://www.amazon.com/Untold-Story-Talking-Book-ebook/dp/B01N0R4BF0/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Audible ,
https://www.audible.com/pd/History/The-Untold-Story-of-the-Talking-Book-Audiobook/B01M72U2R8?ref_=a_search_c4_1_1_srImg&qid=1490112920&sr=1-1
Barnes and Noble
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-untold-story-of-the-talking-book-matthew-rubery/1123646598

*2) An Update on Amazon Accessibility and Using the NVDA Screen Reader with Kindle
By Bill Holton
In Shelly Brisbin’s excellent CSUN 2017 coverage roundup
http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pubnew.asp?DocID=aw180404

she mentions that the Windows Kindle E-Reader is now completely accessible using the NVDA (Non Visual Desktop Access) screen reader. Since you may not have used NVDA yet, we thought we would point you to a few excellent “getting started” guides, and another potentially useful screen reader resource. After that we’ll return to Amazon, and fill you in on a few of the company’s other recent accessibility improvements and initiatives, including a new Accessibility Phone Hotline.
Resources for People New to the NVDA Screen Reader
NVDA is a free full-featured screen reader that can be downloaded directly from the NV Access developer website. You can install NVDA on as many computers as you like, and also onto a USB thumb drive so you can use it on friends’, school, and library computers as well.
If you have never used NVDA before, you will definitely want to check out AFB’s video series, Learn NVDA .
http://www.afb.org/info/living-with-vision-loss/using-technology/assistive-technology-videos/learn-nvda/1234

This set of tutorials is aimed at the new NVDA user, and has been designed to allow a person who is blind or visually impaired, and entirely new to NVDA, to independently install the program and learn how to use it. Learn NVDA will teach you how to do the following:
Install NVDA on your computer
Navigate Microsoft Windows with NVDA
Use NVDA Hotkeys
Install and use the Firefox internet browser
Each tutorial contains step-by-step instructions with audio of a presenter using NVDA and video of the computer screen. The videos are fully transcribed and captioned, and even experienced NVDA users will learn a new trick or two.
If you prefer to learn from books, an excellent resource comes from NV Access itself, which offers the eBook Basic Training for NVDA , for $30.
https://www.nvaccess.org/shop/

MS Office users may also be interested in their second offering, Microsoft Word with NVDA , which we reviewed in last December’s AccessWorld .
https://www.nvaccess.org/product/microsoft-word-training-for-nvda/

Changing Speech Options in NVDA
Narrator Voices
NVDA comes with the eSpeak speech synthesizer preinstalled. eSpeak is an extremely responsive speech engine, but some users find it too robotic and artificial sounding to listen to for any length of time. If you find this to be the case, there are two ways to switch to other, more human-sounding voices you may already be using with your other screen readers or mobile devices.
If you are using a Windows PC you are probably aware that it includes a built-in screen reader called Narrator. You can toggle it on and off anytime by holding down the Windows key and then pressing Enter. (Note: in the Creators Edition of Windows 10 this hotkey will change to Windows + CTRL + Enter) Narrator offers three high quality English voices: David, Zira, and Hazel. The voices come preinstalled with Windows, and they can also be selected and used with NVDA.
To use any of these Microsoft voices with NVDA follow these steps:
Access the NVDA Menu by holding down the Insert key while pressing the N key.
Press the Down Arrow key once to “Preferences.”
Press the Right Arrow once, followed by a single Down Arrow. You are now placed on NVDA’s synthesizer menu.
Press Enter, then use your Arrow keys to locate the “Microsoft Speech API version 5” option.
Press Enter. Your NVDA voice will now be changed to Microsoft David, which is an extremely easy to understand voice.
If you wish to use the UK English Hazel or US English Zira Microsoft voice:
Repeat the above steps through Step 3
Press Down Arrow twice to “Voice Settings.”
Select from other voices (note that you can also change voice speed, volume, pitch, and other settings here).
Using Eloquence and Vocalizer Voices with NVDA

http://www.atguys.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=20&products_id=231&zenid=f66855c40314a7f5824353fb3847ceea

Many blind users still consider the Eloquence speech engine the gold standard among synthesized speech, mostly because it’s relatively easy to understand at very high speeds. Others prefer the more natural voices they hear on iPhone commercials when Siri speaks up.
You can get both of these voices to run with NVDA, along with dozens of others, with the Code Factory Eloquence and Vocalizer Expressive Add-on for NVDA .
The voice pack costs $69, and one convenient place to find it is at AT Guys .
http://www.atguys.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=242

You will need to be running the NVDA screen reader in order to install this package. When you’re done, follow the steps outlined above, and you will find two new synthesizer entries: Code Factory Eloquence and Code Factory Vocalizer. The first time you activate either of these, the software will ask for your purchase serial code. You can purchase the package now, but there is also a “Try” option that will allow you to test drive the voices for seven days.
The above package only works with NVDA. You can install the voices on up to three computers at a time. Code Factory also offers Vocalizer SAPI Voices for Any Screen Reader for $115. These voices will work with any screen reader, including NVDA and Windows Narrator. JAWS users already have these Vocalizer voices available to them.
Amazon Accessibility Improvements
Along with the ability to read Kindle books with a Windows PC and NVDA, Amazon has made a few other significant accessibility improvements to their devices and services. Let’s cover them one at a time.
An Even More Accessible Kindle E-Reader
In the July 2016 issue of AccessWorld we offered a first look at the Amazon Kindle Audio Adapter, which plugs into the USB port of a Kindle Paperwhite dedicated E-Reader to enable voice access with the VoiceView screen reader.
http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pubnew.asp?DocID=aw170703

Amazon has now taken voice access a significant step further. Their newest 8th Generation Kindle E-Reader, referred to simply as Kindle , includes Bluetooth capabilities. You no longer need a special dongle to have your Kindle content read aloud to you. All you need is a Bluetooth speaker or pair of Bluetooth earbuds. You can even use your favorite pair of wired earbuds with a portable Bluetooth transmitter.
Here’s how to make a Bluetooth VoiceView connection.
(Note: microphones, microphone-enabled headsets, and low energy devices are not supported.)
To use VoiceView over Bluetooth:
Turn on your Bluetooth device and set it to pairing mode.
Press and hold the power button on your Kindle for 7 seconds, and then press 2 fingers spaced apart on the screen for 1 second.
Wait up to 2 minutes to hear audio VoiceView instructions to “Hold two fingers on the screen to use this audio device with VoiceView screen reader on Kindle.” (Note: VoiceView will be disabled after 10 seconds if devices aren’t detected or if you chose not to connect to a located device.)
After pairing to a Bluetooth audio device, VoiceView will save the connection.
There are a few ways to turn off or suspend VoiceView on your Kindle:
Turn off your Bluetooth audio device.
On your Kindle (8th Generation) select the Quick Actions menu at the top of the screen, and then double tap to open the menu. Select VoiceView Settings, and then select and double-tap Off.
To suspend VoiceView, press the power button on your Kindle. VoiceView will resume when you wake the Kindle. To wake, press the Kindle power button once, and then double-tap on the screen.
The Kindle E-Reader VoiceView software now includes much-welcomed granularity controls. Swipe a finger vertically in a single motion to switch between word and character reading. Then Swipe left or right to move in that direction. In character mode you can also pause after a character and it will be pronounced phonetically.
The Fire TV with VoiceView
http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pubnew.asp?DocID=aw170902

Last September, I took a first look at the Fire TV with VoiceView . At the time, I noted that none of the third-party apps had yet to be made accessible, including two of the majors: Netflix and Hulu. I am happy to report that both of these services are now accessible using Amazon TV, and that the Amazon accessibility team is working with several other content providers to make their offerings equally speech friendly.
The VoiceView screen reader is now out of preview and it includes two powerful new enhancements. First, when scrolling through a list of titles, most mobile screen readers will announce the title name but ignore changes elsewhere on the screen where information such as movie description, rating, run time, and other information is displayed. VoiceView now captures this information, and when you move your way through a list of titles, a brief pause will cause this information to be spoken. You can also review this information one clip at a time using the Fast Forward and Rewind transport control keys.
VoiceView for Fire TV now also includes a complete screen review mode. Access this mode by pressing and holding down the Menu key for two seconds. Once activated, you can use the Arrow keys to review the screen without making changes. Currently, most of the screen review is confined to the direction keys and the “Select” button, which works as expected, even in review mode. A long press of the “Previous” or “Next” button will jump the screen review to the top left and bottom right respectively. Short presses of “Previous” and “Next” move backward or forward in the selected reading granularity, which can be toggled between character, word, control, and window by pressing Up and Down. The entire remote keypad is now available for VoiceView features, and I look forward to future updates, especially the long awaited addition of audio description.
A Shopping Surprise
With all that’s going on at Amazon, sometimes it’s hard to remember that the company is first and foremost a retailer of everything from applesauce to toy zeppelins. The company has historically gone to great lengths to make the shopping experience accessible to their customers with visual impairments. Their main site makes excellent use of all the standard Windows controls that make screen reader navigation possible, but the page can admittedly be a bit busy with special sales and personalized recommendations, which is one of the reasons Amazon created an alternate “screen reader friendly” site .
https://www.amazon.com/?_encoding=UTF8&ref_=mw_access

The company’s various accessibility initiatives are detailed and described on the Amazon Accessibility site .
Amazon Accessibility Hotline
Amazon, like Apple and Microsoft before them, has taken accessibility one step further with the launch of a dedicated hotline for customers with disabilities. The desktop site features a click-to-call link to the access hotline on its Help pages. You are asked for your phone number, and an agent familiar with screen readers returns your call. The iOS and Android apps do not yet include this link, but you can reach the hotline directly by calling 1-888-283-1678, 3 am-10 pm PST, 7 days a week.
Hotline agents have been trained in screen reader basics and can help support (or escalate, if needed) technical issues. Agents can also help customers find products, add items to a customer’s shopping cart, and provide support for the check-out process. They cannot perform the actual checkout, however.
The accessibility hotline is primarily focused on supporting retail-related issues, including orders, returns, and delivery. They may also be able to help with device-related questions, or refer you to reps in other departments who work with accessibility.
My own very first call to the hotline proved completely successful. A six-pack of lightweight cotton pants I had bought before showed available for repurchase, but the combo box to choose size seemed stuck on extra-large, and I needed medium. Thinking maybe the combo box wasn’t working correctly, I called the hotline and was told the other sizes were no longer available.
“Hold on a minute,” the rep continued, and in less than a minute he’d found the same pants from the same manufacturer, only packaged in packs of three pair instead of six. He placed two sets in my cart, and offered to stay on the line while I checked out.
How many times have you put something in your Amazon cart and then removed it because you couldn’t see the product image and didn’t know if those cereal bowls were bright or light green, or whether the blouse had a high or low neckline? These are just a few of the reasons I can imagine why you might want to put the Amazon Accessibility Hotline in your contacts list.

*3) Easily Search the Deep Web to Find What You Want
By Ada Ivanova 26th Mar 2017
Source:
https://www.maketecheasier.com/search-deep-web/

Here are some good suggestions for finding things that don’t show up in Google. It explains that the Deep Web and the Dark Web aren’t the same thing, provides a link to a list of Deep Web search engines, and other suggestions including using a different search engine than Google. Personally, I rarely use Google Search as I prefer to use search engines with more privacy.
DuckDuckGo
https://duckduckgo.com/

and Start Page
https://www.startpage.com/

are two good ones and can be set as your default search engines quite easily – usually through the Settings or Privacy areas in whatever browser you use.

If you can’t find it with Google , then it doesn’t exist at all? As great as Google is in locating info online, the truth is that with it, you can find only a small portion of the info that exists the world. Google indexes billions of pages, but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other pages that for one reason or another are not present in its index. These pages are hidden in the debris of the Deep Web, and chances are you will be able to find them if you know how to search.

The Deep or the Dark Web?
When I speak about pages not indexed by Google , maybe your first idea is about the Dark Web . While the Dark Web, also called Darknet , fits the description of sites/pages not indexed by Google, the Dark Web and the Deep Web are not the same thing.
An example of a Deep Web page is a closed group on Facebook. Since the page is accessible after a login only, and Googlebot can’t log in to access it, the page is not indexed. However, when you log in to this group, you can see the page. Similarly, if the page requires payment to gain access, Googlebot can’t index it, but you can view it after you pay.
No-follow or broken links, or dynamic pages generated on the go after a search query from a user, also stop search engines from indexing pages, but you as a human can access this information. Info in the form of an image/video or other formats search engines don’t understand but humans do is another example of Deep Web content. These pages are accessible with a simple browser, and generally they use the http (or https) protocols.
On the other hand, the Dark Web uses a different routing protocol with built-in encryption. Two popular protocols are TOR and I2P. The Dark Web contains lots of illegal resources, too, and search engines by no means will index these, even if they could.
Now, after I explained the difference between the Deep and the Dark Web , let’s see what you can do to find stuff in the Deep Web.
1. Try Other Search Engines
Sometimes a page is not accessible by Google (for one reason or another) but is indexed by other search engines. Technically speaking, in this case the page isn’t in the Deep Web (because it’s accessible via a search engine), but for anybody whose search starts and ends with Google, the page is not there. If you get in the habit of occasionally using other search engines, such as DuckDuckGo, a local search engine, or even Bing, in addition to Google , you might be surprised by the amount of good stuff you can find with them.
deep-web-01-duckduckgo
2. Find the Main Page with Google and Go on Your Own
In other cases Google has the main page of a site only. This happens with sites that require login or payment or that have no-follow links Google didn’t index. If this is the case , it’s easy – find the main page with Google , and then explore the site on your own. If the site has a search functionality, your task is even simpler.
3. Try Google Books or Go to a Library
For scholarly information, try Google Books . If you know a document exists, but you can’t find it with Google Books, you can go to a library, especially an academic one. Many libraries at colleges and universities subscribe to paid databases, and chances are you will be able to use these, maybe even for free.
deep-web-02-googlebooks
4. Try the Deep Web Search Engines
As surprising as it sounds, the Deep Web has search engines of its own. In many aspects, such as user interface or functionality, these search engines are light years behind Google, but don’t judge a book by its cover.

deep-web-03-deep-web-search-engines
It might be a bit harder to find stuff in the Deep Web, but if you are looking for highly specialized stuff, you might have more luck there than with general search engines.

*4) How to hang on to Windows 7 for the long run
Note from dan: I usually copy links into documents. However, when attempting this for this document, the webpage kept having a “long running script” that hung me up a few times. So I am including the main source article link. I did visit several of the links with success.
I am also going to try these suggestions.
http://www.infoworld.com/article/3153213/microsoft-windows/how-to-hang-on-to-windows-7-for-the-long-run.html

If Windows 7 represents peak Windows for you, you’re not alone. Twice as many people use Win7 as use Win10, even after 18 months of Microsoft pressure to get you to give up Win7 and jump to the shiny new version as your operating system of choice.
Your reasons for staying with Win7 may range from mere convenience to mental inertia to an abject fear of the Win10 info borg. Whatever your reasons for remaining with Win7, there are steps you can take right now to ensure Win7 keeps working — at least until Microsoft pulls the plug on security patches, on Jan. 14, 2020. (Yep, that’s a Patch Tuesday.)
[ The essentials for Windows 10 installation: Download the Windows 10 Installation Superguide today. | Stay up on key Microsoft technologies with the Windows Report newsletter . ]
The key, as you might expect, is to stow away a solid “ground zero” full backup. From that point, you should patch judiciously, use incremental backups scrupulously, and tend to the maintenance jobs that you’ve no doubt neglected. If you go about it in an organized manner, your machine should last forever … or at least until you throw it in the trash and buy a new one.
Step 1. Pick a patching method
Before you back up your machine, make sure it’s in top shape.
If you’re concerned about Microsoft’s “telemetry,” the fact is that you agreed to a certain level of snooping when you consented to the license agreement for Windows 7:
Microsoft may use the computer information, accelerator information, search suggestions information, error reports, and Malware reports to improve our software and services. We may also share it with others, such as hardware and software vendors. They may use the information to improve how their products run with Microsoft software.
The method for bringing your Win7 up to speed and keeping it going for the duration depends on how much information you’re willing to share with Microsoft about your system, software, and activities. Starting in October 2016, Microsoft changed the way it distributes patches to accommodate individuals and organizations that only want security updates, and not other patches that may affect how much information is collected and sent to Microsoft. That gave rise to two patching strategies and a “no patch for me, please” option.
I detail the three main patching choices in “ How to prepare for the Windows 7/8.1 ‘patchocalypse.’ ”
http://www.infoworld.com/article/3128983/microsoft-windows/how-to-prepare-for-the-windows-781-patchocalypse.html

Long story short, Win7 patches align with three major groups:
Group A: Those who are willing to take all of Microsoft’s new telemetry systems, along with potentially useful nonsecurity updates.
Group B: Those who don’t want any more snooping than necessary and don’t care about improvements like daylight saving time zone changes, but do want to keep applying security patches.
Group W: Those stalwarts who will take their chances and don’t want to install any new patches, whether they fix security holes or not.
Group A (apply all of the offered patches) or Group W (don’t ever patch) are the easiest to join, but Group W is vulnerable to all sorts of problems. I don’t recommend Group W. Group A can use Windows Update to get everything they need. It’s harder to join Group B, because it requires manual download and installation of patches.
It’s helpful to figure out whether you want to be in Group A or Group B (or Group W) before getting going.

Step 2. Optionally reinstall Win7 from scratch
Right off the bat, you need to make sure your Win7 system is fit to fly. There’s no sense preserving a baseline system in stone (or at least in backup) until the baseline is working right.
For many of you, Windows 7 works fine the way it is. If that describes your situation, skip to Step 3.
For the rest of you, a fresh install of Windows 7 is vital to preserving a fully functional Win7. The best approach I know was published on AskWoody.com , based on a procedure developed by Canadian Tech. There are two significant sticking points:
Obtaining “genuine” Windows 7 Service Pack 1 installation files can be difficult.
Once you have Win7 SP1, which updates should you install?
Obtaining the real ISOs is a significant concern because there are many pirate copies of Win7 floating around the internet. Until May 2014, you could download the retail bits from an Microsoft distributor known as Digital River. In an InfoWorld column, I talked about the way that source disappeared.
Microsoft has this official download site , but it works only if you feed it a valid product key — and there’s the rub. Microsoft defines the product key thusly :
From an authorized retailer. The product key should be on a label or card inside the box that Windows came in.
A new PC running Windows. The product key will be preinstalled on your PC, included with the packaging the PC came in, or included on the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached to the PC.
But I’ve heard from many people that the keys they’ve retrieved (typically from ProduKey or Belarc Advisor) don’t work, even keys from a 100% genuine Win7 installation. I’ve also heard that retail keys — the ones inside a box that you bought with Win7 inside — work in all cases.
I asked Microsoft how people with demonstrably genuine copies of Win7 can get fresh new Windows 7 SP1 installation files. The response:
For customers who do not have a product key, they will need to contact Microsoft Customer Support Service , where we have alternative options for acquiring the Windows 7 product when they have lost their media.
If you have trouble locating a clean copy of Win7 SP1, check out “ The safest way to get a new copy of the Windows 7 bits .”
A clean install isn’t for the faint of heart. No matter how hard you try, you will lose data, somehow, somewhere — it always happens, even to us masochists who have been running clean Windows installs for decades.
Start with a full set of program installation CDs, DVDs, or a list of locations where you can download what you’ll need. Make sure you have all the keys. Stick all your passwords in a repository like LastPass or RoboForm. You should send your data, and settings wherever possible, off to DVDs or an external or network drive using a product like Windows Easy Transfer (see Lance Whitney’s how-to on the TechNet site ).
Then, armed with a good copy of Win7 SP1, you’re ready to follow Canadian Tech’s steps to install a clean copy of Win7.
Note: I don’t recommend installing the so-called Convenience Update, KB 3125574 , which was created to roll up many outstanding patches. Although the Service Pack 2-like update may save you some time, in my experience if you follow Canadian Tech’s advice, the speedup is minimal. The all-star team of Abbodii, PointZero, and Komm has documented the shortcomings of the Convenience Update, and they shouldn’t be overlooked.

Step 3. Bring Windows up to speed
If you didn’t install a fresh copy of Windows 7 from scratch, you may have trouble with Windows Update taking forever. Start by following the two simple steps to eliminate unconscionably slow Windows 7 Update scans. Then selectively apply patches you need to get caught up.
Starting in October (the “patchocalypse”), Windows 7 patches began arriving in two clumps: Security-only patches (for Group B), which you have to download and install manually; and Monthly Rollups (for Group A), which include nonsecurity patches and are available through Windows Update.
Choose Group A or Group B, and bring your machine’s Windows up to date . Yes, if you’re in Group W, you can skip this step.
When all seems correct, make one more run of Windows Update to make sure you have the latest patches for Office, .Net, and anything else that may need updating — including non-Microsoft products.

Step 4. Take control
“Control” means different things to different people, but at a minimum I suggest you make these changes to Win7 before backing it up:
Take control of your Windows update strategy.
IDG
Turn off Automatic Updates. Click Start > Control Panel > System and Security. Under Windows Update, click the “Turn automatic updating on or off” link. In the Important Updates box, choose “Never check for updates (not recommended).” Uncheck the box marked “Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates” and click OK.
Turn off automatic Windows updates
IDG
Turn off the Customer Experience Improvement Program. Click Start. In the Search programs and files box type customer, then click on Change Customer Experience Improvement Program settings. Click “No, I don’t want to participate in the program,” then Save Changes.
Disable Win7 tasks you don’t want
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Disable Tasks you don’t want. Go into the Task Scheduler by clicking Start and, in the Search program and files box type task. Click on Task Scheduler. You can find many recommendations on the web about which tasks to prune, but the best advice I’ve found comes from AskWoody’s ch100, who recommends disabling the Application Experience agent (AitAgent), Microsoft Compatibility Appraiser, and ProgramDataUpdaters, all three of which appear in the \Microsoft\Windows\Application Experience folder (screenshot). There are also scheduled tasks related to the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) that may or may not be disabled when you opt out of CEIP. If you’re very cautious, see this post from JY on AskWoody.
Update your browser. If you insist on using Internet Explorer, make sure you have IE11 installed . If you aren’t locked into IE, try Google Chrome or Firefox .
Jettison the junk. You’re going to create a top-quality copy of your hard drive. Why burden it with junkware? With its newly found 64-bit capabilities, I like the free version of Revo Uninstaller .
Note: Those with detailed knowledge may want to dive deeper into hardening their systems. We have ongoing discussions — and knock-down debates — about the details on AskWoody.com . MVP Noel Carboni specializes in keeping Win7 systems locked down.

Step 5. Clean up your drive
One last step before you freeze your system like Han Solo. Run a disk cleanup.
Win7 disk cleanup
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While there are many utilities that will help you zero in on duplicated files and ferret out grunge sitting in odd corners, Windows’ built-in Disk Cleanup will take a big swipe at the detritus. It has the added advantages of being both free and easy to use.
To do so, click Start > Computer. Right-click your main drive and choose Properties (screenshot). Click Disk Cleanup. In the resulting Disk Cleanup dialog box, click “Clean up system files.” Follow the instructions and sweep out the old.
When you’re done, if you have a spinning hard drive (as opposed to a solid-state drive), run a defrag: Click Start and in the box marked Search program and files box type defrag. Chose Disk defragmenter and click on the button to Defragment disk.

Step 6. Back up — now and forever
You’re finally at the point where a full disk image backup makes sense. Yes, you should back up your data, too, as part of the system image. I recommend making a single backup at this point — when your system’s working great — and squirrel it away. Augment that with your usual backup regimen, if you have one.
Find your Win7 product key with ProduKey
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Before you start the backup, make sure you have your system usernames and passwords written down, for every user on the system. You’ll also sleep better if you write down your Windows activation ID. If you can’t find an activation ID on a sticker attached to your PC, run NirSoft’s ProduKey
Windows 7 files, but it should be a good starting point for arguing with Win7 activation phone support, if you can’t get a restored image of Win7 activated. Yes, it happens.
To get serious about creating and maintaining backups, install and run a dedicated backup/restore package. Two of the best: Macrium Reflect ( free for personal use ; $70 or less per PC for businesses ) and Acronis True Image (free 30-day trial, then $50). Follow the installation instructions, create a full disk image on an external drive or networked drive (or on DVDs, if you must), then disconnect the drive and store it someplace safe. Make sure you store a system repair disk along with the main backup.
After you’ve gone through the first round, set up Macrium Reflect or Acronis to generate a second full disk image, followed by incremental backups.
Win7 backup and restore
IDG
If you really want to use the Win7 backup routines — they are free and work reasonably well — buy an external hard drive and plug it in. Click Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Backup and Restore. You see the “Back up or restore your files” dialog (screenshot).
On the left, click “Create system image.” You may create the system image on a hard drive, DVDs, or a network location. To go out to the network and look for a suitable location, assuming you have one, click Select.
Create a Win7 system image
IDG
From the Create a system image dialog
you can put your system backup on any accessible drive attached to your network.
Once you’ve create a full system image you can tuck away, tell Windows Backup that you want to keep incremental backups. Back on the “Back up or restore your files” dialog, click “Set up backup,” follow the directions to choose a backup drive, select which data should be backed up, and when the backups should run (daily or monthly incremental backups). Depending on the size and speed of your drives, the first backup can take hours.

*5) What Causes the Air to Smell Nice After it Rains?
by Daniel Ganninger

It’s a smell that anyone with a working olfactory system will immediately 
recognize, the smell of fresh rain. What happens after a new rainstorm to 
make the air smell so pleasant? It all comes down to plants and a little 
chemistry.
The pleasant odor after a rain is called “petrichor”. It comes from the 
Greek words “petra”, which means “stone”, and “ichor”, which was the fluid 
that flowed in the veins of the mythological Greek gods. The term was first 
used by a pair of Australian scientists in 1964 as they studied the odor 
after a rain.
The scientists discovered that during a dry period certain plants secrete 
oils that are absorbed into the soil and rocks. When the first rainstorm 
comes along after one of these prolonged dry periods, the oils are released 
into the air and combine with a substance called geosmin. This is a chemical 
produced by a soil bacteria called actinomycetes when it’s producing spores. 
This produces the scent of petrichor, but how does the scent get into the 
air after a storm?
MIT scientists in 2015 used high-speed cameras to determine how the scent 
got into the air. When a raindrop lands on a porous surface, it traps tiny 
areas of air in the raindrop. These air pockets travel up and burst from the 
drop’s surface, releasing microscopic particles called aerosols. It’s 
believed these aerosols, when dispersed by the wind, are what enable us to 
smell the pleasant odor after a rain.
But that’s not the end of the smelly story. Lightning can split oxygen and 
nitrogen molecules during a thunderstorm, and these molecules will commonly 
form into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide then combines with other chemicals to 
form ozone, another odor you can smell in the air.
Why do we find this particular odor so pleasing then? It may come down to 
evolution. The hypothesis by scientists is that the smell after a rain has 
been passed down by our ancestors who relied on the signal for rain to 
survive. Plants grew and animals were healthy when it rained which allowed 
people to eat. This association may have been hardwired into our brains. Now 
think about that the next time you get a good whiff of petrichor.
Sources: Smithsonian Magazine, Wikipedia, Live Science (1), Live Science (2)
Daniel Ganninger
 

*6) Interesting Facts
We live in a world with a dazzling variety of life; from the tiniest virus to truly colossal organisms. Let’s take a look at the largest life forms living in our world today.

1. Largest flower

The Corpse flower, also known as Rafflesia arnoldii. The poetically named posy boasts the largest bloom in the world, measuring in at 3-feet wide with blossoms that weigh 15 pounds.

2. The largest animal

The blue whale. When a baby blue whale is born, it measures up to 25 feet and weighs up to three tons. Growing to lengths of up to 100 feet and weighing up to 200 tons, the blue whale is, in fact, the biggest animal known to live on Earth.

3. The heaviest known organism

In Utah’s Fishlake National Forest in Utah there lives a massive grove of trees called Pando, which is actually a single clonal colony of a male quaking aspen. Nicknamed the Trembling Giant, this enormous root system is comprised of some 47,000 stems that create the grove. All together – with all of the individual trunks, branches and leaves – this quivering organism weighs in at an estimated 6,600 short tons. It is the heaviest known organism on the planet, and perhaps even more impressive is its age.
Conservative estimates put it at 80,000 years old, making it also the oldest living thing known to man.

4. The largest land animal

The African bush elephant holds the title for largest land animal. Reaching lengths of up to 24 feet and gaining heights of 13 feet, these beautiful gray beasts weigh in at 11 tons. Their trunks alone can lift objects of more than 400 pounds.

5. The largest tree by volume

The world’s largest tree is a stately giant sequoia, known as General Sherman in California’s Sequoia National Park. This majestic arboreal master is about 52,500 cubic feet in volume.

6. The largest invertebrate

The aptly named colossal squid is the world’s largest squid species and the largest invertebrate on the planet. They can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds and can grow to 30 feet long. That’s a lot of calamari.

7. The tallest land animal

The title of the world’s tallest mammal belongs to the giraffe. The legs of these even-toed ungulates are taller than many people. Giraffes can grow to heights of 19 feet and can weigh as much as 2,800 pounds. They can sprint up to 35 miles-an-hour over short distances.

8. The largest reptile

As the largest of living reptiles – as well as the largest terrestrial and riparian predator in the world – the saltwater crocodile can reach lengths of 22 feet and can weigh in at 4,400 pounds.

9. The heaviest bird

The ostrich is the world’s heaviest bird, with a weight of 350 pounds and a height of 9 feet. While they cannot fly, they can sprint up to 43 miles an hour and run long distance at 31 miles an hour.

10. The largest thing of all

In 1998 a single colony of honey fungus was discovered in the Malheur National Forest in east Oregon that covered an area of 3.7 square miles, and occupied some 2,384 acres.

The discovery was remarkable in that not only would the massive specimen be recognized as the world’s largest known organism, but based on its growth rate, the fungus is estimated to be 2,400 years old – and maybe as old as
8,650 years – making it one of the planet’s oldest living organisms as well.

*7) A Window into KNFB Reader

A Window into KNFB Reader: An Evolving Project, a New Platform, and New Horizons

a dream come true for those of us who want to be able to read print with a device small enough to fit in our pocket. Joel and Jim Gashel recently had the opportunity to introduce the groundbreaking program to the wider tech world at the largest assistive technology conference on earth, hosted by California State University, Northridge. Here is what he has to say about that experience:
I am taking the stage with Jim Gashel, vice president of business development and product evangelist for KNFB Reader, LLC, and Jenny Lay-Flurrie—the chief accessibility officer for Microsoft. The room full of onlookers quiets as she approaches the podium. It is the first day of the thirty-second annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, and we are launching a new product.
Pictured are Joel Zimba, Jim Gashel and several Microsoft employees all holding a tablet running KNFB Reader. All are wearing Cat in the Hat style hats in observance of Read Across America Day which occurred on March 2.
After over a year of development, a project I was introduced to on my first day working with the National Federation of the Blind is being presented to the world. I man the controls and demonstrate the capabilities of KNFB Reader for Windows, while Jim describes the history as well as the globe-spanning collaboration that led to this moment.
I can remember sitting in the audience of the 2014 National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind, when Jim Gashel first demonstrated the modern incarnation of KNFB Reader for the iPhone. You can read Jim’s perspective on those events in the December 2014 Braille Monitor article, “A New Era in Mobile Reading Begins: Introducing the KNFB Reader for iOS.” In that article Mr. Gashel details his first meeting with Ray Kurzweil. He discusses events leading to the creation of the first reading machine for the blind, resulting in the KNFB Reader Mobile line of products. Finally these collaborations bring us to the indispensable KNFB Reader app so many of us carry everywhere and use every day. On that July afternoon, I never imagined I would be part of the team that would keep KNFB Reader evolving, much less metaphorically cutting the ribbon on an app that brings the power of KNFB’s text recognition to Windows 10-powered desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones.
The launch event, held in the Microsoft area of the CSUN conference rooms, is not the end of a story but the beginning of an ongoing tale. It consists of three madcap days of networking, demonstrating KNFB Reader on three platforms and multiple configurations, and promotion of the KNFB Reader technology, which is the most widely available, efficient, and powerful text recognition solution available to date. By night I am mingling, recruiting distributors of our multi-platform Enterprise product, and talking with researchers and other app developers.
I am no stranger to conference exhibit halls. Since 2011 I have demonstrated various forms of assistive technology for both professionals and end users at dozens of such events. None compare to the size and scope of the CSUN exhibit hall. If you have attended a national convention, you will have some idea of the frenzy of such a loud, busy, and heavily populated space. Hundreds of vendors both intentionally and unintentionally competing for the attention of passersby with their colorful displays, video presentations, and of course the talking, beeping, and otherwise calamitous technology itself.
On the second day I am already losing my voice from trying to be heard over the call of the great blue whale echoing from the Touch Graphics booth next door. Behind me President Riccobono announces the debut of KNFB Reader for Windows in our own multimedia promo created just for CSUN, while I demonstrate the stand mode feature of KNFB Reader, which takes pictures automatically as you turn the pages of a book. The gentleman I just met had not yet ventured into the modern era and still uses a desktop-based, stand-alone device from the last decade. My new friend will likely purchase his first smartphone just for KNFB Reader, which is not an uncommon situation.
On Friday morning a visitor to our booth had a question about using KNFB Reader on her BrailleNote Touch from HumanWare. In November of 2016 all users of the BrailleNote Touch received KNFB Reader free of charge. The device I am now holding in my hand is the first product of its kind which can turn printed text into Braille with a single command. This makes good on the promise Jim Gashel made in the final lines of his 2014 article, when he teased the KNFB Reader expansion to the Android platform. I battle the typically congested conference WiFi to configure cloud synchronization using Dropbox for her.
This is my job: to know the intricacies of our products on all platforms, to work with our engineers to squish bugs, and to provide support to KNFB Reader customers. I usually do this from behind a desk or at the end of an often-tenuous telephone connection. Meeting so many KNFB Reader users from all over the world face-to-face reaffirms my goal of improving this powerful tool that increases the independence of blind people worldwide, enabling them to live the lives they want. This is the mission of the National Federation of the Blind, and I am honored to play my part.
Perhaps my favorite question comes from the sighted person being introduced to KNFB Reader for the first time. “How do you take a picture if you’re blind?” Of course, I was wrestling with this question myself before the release of the app in 2014. When I demonstrate the program’s Field of View Report, which details how much of the printed page is visible to the camera and how that can be coupled with tilt guidance to help keep the device in the horizontal plane, incredulity gives way to surprise and then often unease. No longer is this seemingly fundamentally visual activity solely the domain of the sighted.
I now know that this is only half the story. The part we benefit from, but never directly observe, is the powerful KNFB image pre-processing system, which can turn a picture that would otherwise be unsuitable for recognition into a document that is read nearly flawlessly. I am often cavalier when I throw a piece of paper under a document camera at a rakish angle. I know I will soon be navigating the recognized output with ease. Some of the algorithms developed by Ray Kurzweil forty years ago are still alive and well in KNFB Reader. We use them every day. This is how that crumpled receipt still gives up the telephone number of the restaurant where I left my hat.
William De PrêtreI am not alone in representing KNFB Reader at CSUN. I am joined by Jim Gashel and William De Prêtre. William is a chief software engineer with our partner Sensotec NV located in Belgium. He, very nearly single-handedly, coded the Windows version of KNFB Reader. Every morning we gather for a working breakfast to assess any new developments from the Twittersphere, take on long-standing challenges in real time, and plan for where we are going next. In addition to the pleasure of having a colleague become a good friend, I have the opportunity to personally express my appreciation to William for his herculean effort over the past year: deadlines, unexpected dead ends, and undocumented interfaces—he faced them all; developers all-too-often never meet the happy customers who benefit from their work every day.
In the launch event speech, Mr. Gashel stressed the importance of partnerships. Indeed, I would say that is the thread which unites all of my experiences throughout the CSUN conference. Our ongoing partnership with Microsoft, which certainly shaped KNFB Reader for Windows, also led to changes and improvements in Microsoft products, especially with regard to accessibility. While I was acquainted with many of the Google contingent attending CSUN, many more of them were familiar with KNFB Reader and certainly with Ray Kurzweil, who is now a vice president at Google devoting his time to the arcane art of machine learning and artificial intelligence. A gathering composed of thousands of people from all over the world very quickly came to feel like a community.
A three-day conference is never all business. Several of us spent the entire day wearing Cat-in-the-Hat-style hats in celebration of Read Across America Day—March 2. Several Dr. Seuss books were on hand for reading with KNFB Reader. Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904. Every year the National Federation of the Blind marks this auspicious occasion and promotes literacy—especially Braille literacy—and access to books for all.
Speaking of community, our Federation family was well represented. Dozens of us descended upon a nearby restaurant early in the week. Before I knew it, I had plenty of volunteers for the exhibit hall booth. I am especially thankful for the help I received from Lisa Irving, Nahrain Spurlock, and Ali Farrage, intrepid members of the San Diego chapter who took on the duty of breaking down the booth and shipping everything home on the last day.
The launch was not the end, and CSUN was not the end. The Windows product will establish a foothold, and it will grow and change. KNFB Reader will continue to become more robust and powerful. Very soon another of Jim Gashel’s promises will come to pass; Chinese and Japanese will make an appearance. This will put KNFB Reader into the hands of countless more of the world’s blind people. Soon a document recognized on your home computer will appear, ready for reading on your mobile device with no effort on your part. A separate multi-platform product called KNFB Reader Enterprise now brings our software to all of your devices at one low price. Looking ahead, major new developments are underway which will begin to reveal themselves at our National Convention this coming July. Stay tuned.
To learn more about KNFB Reader and KNFB Reader Enterprise, go to http://www.knfbreader.com or call (347) 422-7085. You can also email support@knfbreader.com . To obtain a quote for volume purchases of KNFB Reader Enterprise or a site license, contact enterprise-info@nfb.org
by Joel Zimba
reading project innovation manager for the National Federation of the Blind.

*8) How To Make Free Voice Calls From Your Amazon Echo
With the launch of the Echo Show, Amazon has announced a new calling and messaging feature that will let you make and receive calls, as well as send messages between Echo devices and the Amazon Alexa app for iOS and Android.
The feature works with all current Echo devices and is completely free to use as it works over Wi-Fi and mobile data, so there is no need for a talk plan.
How to use Amazon Alexa calling and messaging?
Make sure you have the latest software update installed. You’ll also have to enable Alexa calling and messaging in the system’s settings, and anyone you’ll want to call with have to enable this function too.
You’ll be able to see all your contacts that have the function enabled from within the Alexa app.
Next use your voice to place a call to someone with an Echo device or the Alexa app on their phone or tablet.
To start a call, you’ll need to wake the Echo up by saying “Alexa” and then ask it to call someone, for example “call daddy”. If someone tries calling you, your Echo device will display a green ring and give out an audible alert.
Now you can tell Alexa to answer the call, or ignore the call.
It’s a similar process to send messages, for example you can say “Alexa, message mummy” and Alexa will send it.
You’ll hear a chime when you receive a message from someone else, and the green ring will light up. You can then ask Alexa to play your messages.
A video demonstrating this feature can be seen here:
The
The video is just after the follow line found at the site below.
“You can then ask Alexa to play your messages.”
https://coolblindtech.com/how-to-make-free-voice-calls-from-your-amazon-echo/

Alexa introduces voice calling and messaging
Echo is available in a handful of countries and continues to expand internationally, which will make the incentive to use Alexa’s free calling and messaging even stronger.
Amazon has about 70 percent market share in the smart speaker space, according to a recent eMarketer survey giving Amazon a head start over the competition.
Amazon Alexa calling and messaging is accessible to blind and low vision users of the Alexa app and Echo devices. The Echo Show is available to pre-order and will be released June 28.
Related
Amazon’s Alexa Voice Activated Assistant is now Available on Mac, iPad, and iPhone.

A new app called, Reverb, brings Alexa to your Apple devices. The app is free to download, and it allows you to activate the Alexa voice assistant by clicking and holding on a blue ring that is on your desktop. The iOS app works in a similar manner. You will…

Amazon’s Alexa Voice Activated Assistant is now Available on Mac, iPad, and iPhone.
A new app called, Reverb, brings Alexa to your Apple devices. The app is free to download, and it allows you to activate the Alexa voice assistant by clicking and holding on a blue ring that is on your desktop. The iOS app works in a similar manner. You will…
The ecobee4 is the First Smart Thermostat with Alexa, But is it Accessible?
Echo Look: Hands-Free Camera and Style Assistant.

Introducing a new product in the line of Echo devices from Amazon. This is a camera that can take full length photos and videos, share them with social media, and get advice on what fashion items make you look your best. The camera has all of the features of a…
Echo Look: Hands-Free Camera and Style Assistant.
Introducing a new product in the line of Echo devices from Amazon. This is a camera that can take full length photos and videos, share them with social media, and get advice on what fashion items make you look your best. The camera has all of the features of a…

By Nelson Régo On May 10, 2017
https://coolblindtech.com/how-to-make-free-voice-calls-from-your-amazon-echo/

*9) 23 Ways to Slash Your Electricity Bill

You’ve noticed over the past few years that your electricity bill has been
creeping slowly upward. In fact, over the last decade the price of electricity has
jumped by double digits in many states, even after accounting for inflation, choking
the life out of the typical household budget.

There is a growing fragility in the U.S. electricity system, experts warn, the result of
the shutdown of coal-fired plants, reductions in nuclear power, a shift to more
expensive renewable energy and natural gas pipeline constraints. The result is
likely to be future price shocks. And they may not be temporary.
But don’t turn off the air conditioner just yet. By making a few adjustments, you can
slash your electricity costs without drastically changing your lifestyle.
First, the technical stuff: The way you are charged for electricity is by cents per
kilowatt hour (kWh). The average cost varies by state from a low of about 7.5¢
(Washington State) to a whopping 26¢ (Hawaii).
Since it’s measured in pennies, it must be a bargain, right? Wrong. You can rack
up hundreds of kilowatt hours in a single month. It happens fast when computers,
TVs and other energy hungry devices run continuously; when inefficient appliances
overstay their welcome; and when air conditioners are set to keep homes cooler
than a florist’s fridge.
Go look at your electricity bill—you’ll be shocked at how many kHw you’re using.
You can stop the drain by doing what really smart consumers do.
AIR CONDITIONING
1. Install a programmable thermostat. Starting as low as $20, this little gizmo will
automatically regulate your home’s central heat and air when you’re asleep or
while you’re away. (If you have a window unit, use an appliance timer instead.)
You could, for example, set the temperature to 85°F or higher during the day when
you’re out, then have it adjust to 78°F about 30 minutes before you get home.
According to Energy Star (a government-backed program that promotes energy
conservation), you can save about $180 a year by properly setting your
programmable thermostat and maintaining those settings.
2. Raise the temperature. When someone is home, the most energy-efficient
temperature (aside from the air conditioner being off) is the highest temperature
you can comfortably live with— around 80°F Each degree you set your thermostat
below that will increase your electricity bill by 3 to 4 percent.
3. Use fans. Moving air gives a “wind chill” effect. Combining ceiling fans (which
use very little energy) with air conditioning allows you to set the thermostat higher,
yet still feel cool. It’s pretty simple: The blowing air makes it easier for sweat to
evaporate, which is how we eliminate body heat.
4. Replace or clean the filter. If it’s dirty, your air conditioner has to work harder,
so change it regularly during the summer. Better yet, buy a permanent filter at your
home improvement store—just wash it with a garden hose each month.
FREEZER AND REFRIGERATOR
5. Vacuum the coils. Dust and debris that collect on the back or bottom of your
fridge make it inefficient, so clean it at least once a year
6. Tighten seals. Are your refrigerator and freezer doors airtight? Close a dollar bill
or piece of paper in the door. If it pulls out easily, your refrigerator may need a door
hinge adjustment or a new gasket (rubber seal). The hinge is adjustable with a
screwdriver. A new gasket costs around $50—this may sound steep, but it’s
cheaper than buying a new fridge, and you’ll really notice a drop in your bill.
7. Defrost often. Your freestanding freezer is forced to work harder when frost is
more than 1/4? thick. (Though auto-defrost freezers take care of themselves, they
often use more energy, so it’s a tradeoff.)
8. Keep it stocked—sometimes. A full refrigerator/freezer is more efficient than
an empty one. If you don’t tend to keep a lot of frozen food, consider storing your
dried rice, beans and nuts in there to keep it at least two-thirds full. As for the
refrigerator itself, packing it too full requires more energy, so make sure you’re
leaving enough room for air to circulate.
DISHWASHER
9. Fill it up. Before you press the button, make sure the machine is full. You’ll run
fewer loads, which means less hot water, less detergent and less energy.
10. Air-dry. Open the door instead of using heated drying. You’ll cut your
dishwasher’s energy use by up to 50 percent.
CLOTHES DRYER
11. Load it properly. Underloading or overloading makes drying clothes more
expensive. You’ll use too much energy if you underload, and the dryer can’t do its
job efficiently if you overload. Dry lightweight and heavy clothes separately for
more energy-efficient drying, and always clean the lint filter before a load.
12. Go old-fashioned. Instead of using the dryer, hang an occasional load of
clothes outdoors or on a drying rack.
ELECTRIC STOVE
13. Pick proper pots. Foods cook faster at a lower temperature if you use pots
and pans with flat bottoms and tight-fitting lids. Pans that are bigger or smaller than
the heating coils on electric stoves waste energy.
14. Opt for smaller appliances. Ovens and stoves guzzle energy, so use your
microwave and toaster oven, slow cooker and electric skillet whenever you can.
And use your outdoor grill to keep heat outside.e
HOUSEHOLD ELECTRONICS
15. Turn off the TV. A 60-inch plasma TV that’s on for five hours a day could cost
$130 per year to run. Add a DVD player, game console or home theater system,
and that bill might jump to $200 per year. Compare that with a 28-inch CRT (tube)
television: $30 per year. Unless you’re actively watching TV, turn it off, especially if
it’s a plasma.
16. Unplug the computer. Electronic devices such as computers and stereos
make up about 15 percent of the typical household’s electricity use. Even when
they’re switched off, devices that are plugged in still use energy to power features
we don’t really think about, such as clock displays and remote controls—in fact, the
average U.S. household spends $100 each year to power devices while they’re in
“standby” mode. Plug your gadgets into an easily accessible power strip, and turn it
off when you’re not using them.
WHOLE HOUSE
17. Inquire about a Home Energy Audit. Many power companies offer free or
low-cost audits: They come to your home, show you where you’re losing energy
and recommend ways you can cut your consumption. If your power company
doesn’t do audits, you can do one yourself or hire a professional.
18. Do your own. If you have five minutes and your last 12 months of utility bills,
use EnergyStar’s Energy Star Home Energy Yardstick to compare your energy
efficiency with similar homes across the country and get ideas for energy-saving
home improvements.
You’ll need to enter some basic information about your home (such as zip code,
square footage and number of occupants). If you don’t have your bills, contact your
utility and ask for a 12-month summary.
19. Turn to the pros. They use a variety of techniques and equipment such as
blower doors (to measure the extent of leaks) and infrared cameras (to reveal hard-
to-detect leaks and missing insulation). To find a home energy audit, contact your
energy provider’s customer service department or find an Energy Star Home
Advisor online.
OTHER WAYS TO SAVE
20. Inquire about discounts. Most utility companies offer programs that
encourage customers to reduce their use. The reward? Lower rates.
21. Voluntary time-of-use. Most of us just pay a flat rate for electricity. Under this
kind of program, however, you’ll be charged for electricity depending on when you
use it. Typically, rates are lowest during off-peak periods: weekends, holidays, and
weekdays from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. Rates are higher during other periods, when
usage and the cost of generating electricity are higher.
Usually this type of program requires a special meter installation in your home that
measures how much you’re using when. The great part: You can check the meter
to monitor your usage. Contact your electricity provider to learn more.
22. Summer cycling. This kind of plan saves you money and conserves energy
during the summer by letting your electricity provider remotely power down your air
conditioner when there’s a power emergency or when demand is extraordinarily
high. Southern California Edison, for example, offers up to $200 in credits for
customers who sign up for summer cycling.
The company installs a switch in your home with a radio signal that can be
accessed remotely. This lets SCE periodically turn off (or “cycle”) the customer’s air
conditioner(s) as needed. Call your utility company to see if yours offers something
similar.
23. Specialized services. Most utility companies offer a number of programs for
customers with special needs, such as senior citizens or low income residents.
Search your utility company’s website to learn more.
By Mary Hunt on 05/12/17
Everyday Cheapskate is a Registered Trademark
http://www.everydaycheapskate.com

*10 PrismoGo is a new iOS App for reading print
PrismoGo is a new iOS App for reading print. It has garnered positive reviews. Here are two podcasts demonstrating it:
http://bit.ly/2q5ePp6
http://bit.ly/2r2d2z0
Source: Flying Blind issue Thursday May 11 2017

*11) Rita’s iDevice Advice for May 8, 2017:  Updating Stored Credit Card Information on the App Store
How  to change the billing information  for Apple device app purchases
You can update your credit card number, address or other details about the way you pay for your iTunes and App Store downloads by opening the Settings icon from the iPad’s home screen and selecting iTunes & App Store. In the box that pops up, tap View Apple ID and sign in, if prompted. On the Apple ID screen, select Payment Information from the list, and on the next screen, make the changes you wish. Apple notes that if you are using its Family Sharing feature to corral all purchases made by members of a designated family group, only the user previously deemed the ‘organizer’ can change the payment information. If you are having trouble trying to remove a linked credit card from your account by switching to None as a billing option, make sure you have no outstanding charges with the iTunes or App Stores, or subscriptions that automatically renew and bill that credit card. You can also change your Apple billing information from your Windows PC or Mac computer. To get to your settings from the desktop, open the iTunes program, go to the Account menu and select View My Account. Sign in with your account password (or click the View Account button if you are already signed in) and on the account settings screen, click the Edit button next to payment type to make your changes. The process for changing billing information is similar for other companies that keep your electronic payment method on file, such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and apps that offer purchases or subscriptions. Simply find the account settings area, log in and locate the section for payment details. Just make sure you are on a secure network connection.

*12) Less Is More with Mine Racer from 2MB Solutions
By Jamie Pauls
At the end of a long workday, sometimes it’s nice to be able to escape reality for a while. Playing a game on your computer is a great way to make that happen. As much fun as it is to immerse yourself in a role-playing game, after you’ve spent all day filling out paperwork and planning your agenda for the remainder of the week, you may not want to make any more major decisions for the day, whether they are based in reality or not. Sometimes you simply want to allow your mind to relax and engage in an activity that doesn’t require a lot of strategic thinking. In this article, we will take a look at a game that just might fit that bill.

Mine Racer
https://2mb.solutions/games/mine-racer/

Mine Racer from 2MB Solutions is based on a very simple plot. You are in a run-away cart inside a mine. Along the way, you will encounter gold coins, stalactites (calcium deposits formed as water drips from the ceiling of a cave), and pits. The objective is simple: you must jump to collect coins, duck to avoid the stalactites, and jump over the pits. It is best not to overthink this game, or you may find yourself wondering just how you would manage to jump a pit in a miner’s cart if actually presented with that challenge.
There are a grand total of three keystrokes needed to play this game. The Up Arrow key allows you to jump for gold coins and to avoid pits, the Down Arrow key allows you to duck under the stalactites, and the Enter key pauses and restarts game play.
Obtaining and Installing Mine Racer
It is possible to obtain a demo of Mine Racer , or purchase a full copy. As the time of publication, the introductory game price of $5 is set to increase to $7.99 on May 1. Purchasers receive links to the game that will allow it to be played on your Mac, Windows PC, or a machine running Linux.
For the purposes of this article, the game was tested using the latest version of OS X for Mac, and Windows 10. When playing the game on a Mac, after the game file is placed in the Applications folder, it is a simple matter of opening the file in order to launch the game. Although the game is self-voicing, it is not necessary to turn off VoiceOver during game play.
When playing the game under Windows, the downloaded file must be unzipped to a folder on your hard drive from which the executable file can be launched. The game takes advantage of your Windows screen reader, or the game can be self-voicing if a screen reader isn’t active. If you’re using JAWS as your screen reader, you will want to use the I and K keys to play the game, instead of the Up and Down Arrows.
Playing Mine Racer
After launching the game, a very straightforward menu appears that allows the player to, among other things, view game instructions, learn game sounds, and, of course, begin game play. After the Play Game option has been activated, you will immediately hear the sound of your mine cart moving through the mine. To my ear, it sounds as though I am on a rather pleasant train ride through the countryside, but others may have differing impressions. This pleasant reverie will be interrupted by one of three possible sounds. If a jingling sound is heard–to me, this sounds like tiny sleigh bells–it is time to hit the Up Arrow key and collect some coins. If dripping water is heard, press the down-arrow key in order to avoid an approaching stalactite. The third possibility is a rather interesting sound that puts me in mind of either a swarm of bees, or cars on a race track–I’ve never quite decided which. This sound signals an approaching pit. In the early minutes of game play, there is a beep that will let you know when it is safe to press your Up Arrow key in order to jump over the pit. Later, you will hear a spoken prompt that the jump beeps have been disabled. From that point on, you must judge when to jump based on the sound of the approaching pit.
The thing that makes this game a challenge is that the longer you play, the faster your cart moves. Therefore, you must constantly adjust your reaction time when either ducking or jumping. Oddly enough, the sound of your cart never changes, so even after seven minutes of game play, you still have the sense that you are on a leisurely train ride. I believe that the game would be more enjoyable if the player could audibly hear the cart gaining momentum.
You can get extra points by collecting as many coins as possible, and by waiting until the last possible moment before you either duck under a stalactite or jump over a pit. At the end of each game, you are given a position on both the time scoreboard and the points scoreboard based on your previous game play. So, you might be 4th on the points scoreboard, but 1st on the time scoreboard. I have never made it much past nine minutes of game play. You are allowed to view your game stats at the end of each game and to copy your score to the clipboard should you wish to post your activities on social media.
Should you manage to fall into a pit, you will hear the classic sound of someone hollering as they descend to their demise. If you manage to crack your skull against a stalactite, you will hear a most authentic crashing noise that may have you reaching for a bottle of your favorite headache-relieving medication.
Final Thoughts
I was first introduced to Mine Racer thanks to a podcast on AppleVis .
https://www.applevis.com/podcast/episodes/demonstration-and-walk-through-mine-racer-mac

I found the price reasonable enough that I skipped the demo and simply purchased the game. I have found it to be surprisingly enjoyable and addictive, considering its simple nature. I find the game sounds to be realistic enough, although I would like for the sound of the mine cart to change at some point during game play, alerting me to the fact that things are about to become more challenging.
I would be willing to pay a little more money for the game in order to have access to various levels of game play with other challenging obstacles to avoid such as rocks, and possibly abandoned mine equipment. Perhaps it might be possible to incorporate other directional commands such as the ability to move left or right in order to avoid new challenges.
Finally, when you purchase Mine Racer, you are issued a unique set of links for your copy of the game, and these links eventually expire. That means that if a new update to the game is released, you will need to contact the game developers in order to be able to download the game once again. Perhaps a registration code might be issued in future, so that players can have access to new versions of the game at any time.
The developers of Mine Racer have another freeware audio game, Horseshoes, which I have not played as of the writing of this article, but you may find it enjoyable as well.
Product Information
Game: Mine Racer
Available from: 2MB Solutions
Price: $7.99 for Windows, Mac, and Linux; free demo available. (According to this AppleVis forum ,
https://www.applevis.com/forum/macos-mac-app-discussion/introducing-mine-racer-audiogame-mac-windows-and-linux

2MB Solutions is tentatively considering a version of Mine Racer for iOS.)

8*13) Less Is More with Mine Racer from 2MB Solutions
By Jamie Pauls
At the end of a long workday, sometimes it’s nice to be able to escape reality for a while. Playing a game on your computer is a great way to make that happen. As much fun as it is to immerse yourself in a role-playing game, after you’ve spent all day filling out paperwork and planning your agenda for the remainder of the week, you may not want to make any more major decisions for the day, whether they are based in reality or not. Sometimes you simply want to allow your mind to relax and engage in an activity that doesn’t require a lot of strategic thinking. In this article, we will take a look at a game that just might fit that bill.

Mine Racer
https://2mb.solutions/games/mine-racer/

Mine Racer from 2MB Solutions is based on a very simple plot. You are in a run-away cart inside a mine. Along the way, you will encounter gold coins, stalactites (calcium deposits formed as water drips from the ceiling of a cave), and pits. The objective is simple: you must jump to collect coins, duck to avoid the stalactites, and jump over the pits. It is best not to overthink this game, or you may find yourself wondering just how you would manage to jump a pit in a miner’s cart if actually presented with that challenge.
There are a grand total of three keystrokes needed to play this game. The Up Arrow key allows you to jump for gold coins and to avoid pits, the Down Arrow key allows you to duck under the stalactites, and the Enter key pauses and restarts game play.
Obtaining and Installing Mine Racer
It is possible to obtain a demo of Mine Racer , or purchase a full copy. As the time of publication, the introductory game price of $5 is set to increase to $7.99 on May 1. Purchasers receive links to the game that will allow it to be played on your Mac, Windows PC, or a machine running Linux.
For the purposes of this article, the game was tested using the latest version of OS X for Mac, and Windows 10. When playing the game on a Mac, after the game file is placed in the Applications folder, it is a simple matter of opening the file in order to launch the game. Although the game is self-voicing, it is not necessary to turn off VoiceOver during game play.
When playing the game under Windows, the downloaded file must be unzipped to a folder on your hard drive from which the executable file can be launched. The game takes advantage of your Windows screen reader, or the game can be self-voicing if a screen reader isn’t active. If you’re using JAWS as your screen reader, you will want to use the I and K keys to play the game, instead of the Up and Down Arrows.
Playing Mine Racer
After launching the game, a very straightforward menu appears that allows the player to, among other things, view game instructions, learn game sounds, and, of course, begin game play. After the Play Game option has been activated, you will immediately hear the sound of your mine cart moving through the mine. To my ear, it sounds as though I am on a rather pleasant train ride through the countryside, but others may have differing impressions. This pleasant reverie will be interrupted by one of three possible sounds. If a jingling sound is heard–to me, this sounds like tiny sleigh bells–it is time to hit the Up Arrow key and collect some coins. If dripping water is heard, press the down-arrow key in order to avoid an approaching stalactite. The third possibility is a rather interesting sound that puts me in mind of either a swarm of bees, or cars on a race track–I’ve never quite decided which. This sound signals an approaching pit. In the early minutes of game play, there is a beep that will let you know when it is safe to press your Up Arrow key in order to jump over the pit. Later, you will hear a spoken prompt that the jump beeps have been disabled. From that point on, you must judge when to jump based on the sound of the approaching pit.
The thing that makes this game a challenge is that the longer you play, the faster your cart moves. Therefore, you must constantly adjust your reaction time when either ducking or jumping. Oddly enough, the sound of your cart never changes, so even after seven minutes of game play, you still have the sense that you are on a leisurely train ride. I believe that the game would be more enjoyable if the player could audibly hear the cart gaining momentum.
You can get extra points by collecting as many coins as possible, and by waiting until the last possible moment before you either duck under a stalactite or jump over a pit. At the end of each game, you are given a position on both the time scoreboard and the points scoreboard based on your previous game play. So, you might be 4th on the points scoreboard, but 1st on the time scoreboard. I have never made it much past nine minutes of game play. You are allowed to view your game stats at the end of each game and to copy your score to the clipboard should you wish to post your activities on social media.
Should you manage to fall into a pit, you will hear the classic sound of someone hollering as they descend to their demise. If you manage to crack your skull against a stalactite, you will hear a most authentic crashing noise that may have you reaching for a bottle of your favorite headache-relieving medication.
Final Thoughts
I was first introduced to Mine Racer thanks to a podcast on AppleVis .
https://www.applevis.com/podcast/episodes/demonstration-and-walk-through-mine-racer-mac

I found the price reasonable enough that I skipped the demo and simply purchased the game. I have found it to be surprisingly enjoyable and addictive, considering its simple nature. I find the game sounds to be realistic enough, although I would like for the sound of the mine cart to change at some point during game play, alerting me to the fact that things are about to become more challenging.
I would be willing to pay a little more money for the game in order to have access to various levels of game play with other challenging obstacles to avoid such as rocks, and possibly abandoned mine equipment. Perhaps it might be possible to incorporate other directional commands such as the ability to move left or right in order to avoid new challenges.
Finally, when you purchase Mine Racer, you are issued a unique set of links for your copy of the game, and these links eventually expire. That means that if a new update to the game is released, you will need to contact the game developers in order to be able to download the game once again. Perhaps a registration code might be issued in future, so that players can have access to new versions of the game at any time.
The developers of Mine Racer have another freeware audio game, Horseshoes, which I have not played as of the writing of this article, but you may find it enjoyable as well.
Product Information
Game: Mine Racer
Available from: 2MB Solutions
Price: $7.99 for Windows, Mac, and Linux; free demo available. (According to this AppleVis forum ,
https://www.applevis.com/forum/macos-mac-app-discussion/introducing-mine-racer-audiogame-mac-windows-and-linux

2MB Solutions is tentatively considering a version of Mine Racer for iOS.)

*13) Forgiveness

I’ve been contemplating this quote from Anne Lamott: “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”

It’s so true, isn’t it?

The thing is, you cannot have or ever attain true health without actively being a “forgiver.” I believe that with all my heart-doctors themselves have even said that.

As a matter of fact, unforgiveness is classified in medical books as a disease!

According to Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, refusing to forgive makes people sick and keeps them that way.

You can eat as healthy as all get out, exercise daily, do yoga and take your supplements, but unforgiveness will erode your health and show up in some form or another.

Forgiveness is also necessary if you desire an enlightened life, one that is free of bitterness, haughtiness and anger. And as the Good Book says, “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

That means EVERYTHING you do comes from your heart and unforgiveness cannot ever be justified because it will pollute your entire life. It’s like washing a purple sock with a bunch of white towels-that purple will bleed into the very fabric of each one of those towels and ruin every single one of them.

Forgiveness on the other hand, will benefit not only your health, but strengthen your character, improve your empathy and give you a deeper well of love to draw from. It’s interesting how it works-I dare you to try it and see for yourself!

I’ve traveled this road myself-I’ve been in the place of needing to forgive for my own health’s sake. I noticed that when I let go of the unforgiveness, I suddenly started to get well from my own autoimmune disease. There’s a lot of things that went into getting well of course-I dialed in my diet, rest, stress, etc. but I had to confront the unforgiveness I was harboring in my life.

I learned something pretty phenomenal too-as “justified” as you may think you are for not forgiving, that justification has become your own personal prison. You alone have the keys to open the door, only you. That was the tipping point for me when I realized this.

I read a story in the Huffington Post about someone who was bothered by his own unforgiveness toward his ex-wife and couldn’t get passed it.

He was encouraged by his boss to change his password to something that will provoke change. He thought about it and he changed his password to “Forgive@h3r”.

And each day, because of the security within his company, he had to type that password in several times. Each time he typed in his password, he actively forgave her-he said, “I forgive her” to himself.

At the end of 30 days, it was time to change his password (company policy).
He noticed that he started looking at his ex-wife differently, accepting the new situation, and most importantly, he felt the burden of unforgiveness that he was carrying, lift for the first time in years.

He later went on to work on other things like quitting smoking and losing weight using this password method (it didn’t work for the weight), but I thought how profound this was and wanted to share this methodology to actually DO something that would may help to promote true forgiveness.

We are all susceptible to unforgiveness and justify our behavior out of the indignation that “he or she” did something completely unforgivable. And like the purple sock, unforgiveness bleeds into the very fabric of our lives leaving behind gossip, bitterness, anger, resentment and even hostility. In other words, unforgiveness always shows up in the life of the unforgiver.

Life is entirely too short for that. My mother used to say that harboring unforgiveness is like letting someone live rent free-in your head. She may not have made that up, but she said it often.

She was right then and she’s right now-I miss her wisdom!

Forgive someone-even if they’ve passed on, you can still choose to forgive.
It’s time!
Love,
Leanne

*14) Who We Are in Christ
Belonging to Christ is a great privilege. As members of the body of 
Christ here on earth, we share  a collective identity. We are His 
people, and together we have a transformed identity.
In 1 Peter 2:4-11, Peter illustrates six facets of our collective 
identity in Christ.
First, we are living stones (v. 5). Like physical stones, each of us 
has our own unique set of  qualities. Through these unique spiritual 
gifts and purposes, the Lord shapes us so that we fit  into the perfect 
place within the body of Christ—a place that no one else can fill.
Second, we are members of a chosen race (v. 9). We, the elect of God 
from every nation and every  generation, are now God’s chosen race 
regardless of our physical descent. We are those who have  been adopted 
by grace.
Third, we are a royal priesthood (v. 9). As children of the King, we 
are commissioned to be His  messengers to the world. As we offer a 
sacrifice of praise, worship, and adoration to God, we  intercede on 
behalf of others.
Fourth, we are a holy nation, made up of people from every tribe and 
tongue on the face of the  earth (v. 9). As citizens of this heavenly 
nation, we are to be holy as God is holy.
Fifth, we are God’s own treasured possession (v. 9). Consider your own 
most treasured possession  and how much love, time, and care your pour 
into it. Now, allow yourself to wonder at the fact that  this is how 
God feels about us.
Finally, we are sojourners and travelers in this world (v. 11). For 
those of us who love Jesus, a  great home awaits us once our earthly 
tour is complete: eternity with our gracious heavenly Father.
Before we come to Christ, we are dead in our sins. We have no real 
spiritual identity. But now we  are “a chosen people, a royal 
priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that [we] may  
declare the praises of Him who called [us] out of darkness into his 
wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).  Hallelujah! We are the people of God. 
Therefore, let us love Him with all our hearts, worship Him  with all 
our strength, and serve Him with all that we are.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the body of believers who together 
represent Your Kingdom on earth.  Thank You for these friends in the 
faith. Unify us in Your Truth, that we may shine Your light to a  world 
in darkness. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

May 11 2017

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About claire plaisted

Claire Plaisted lives in New Zealand with her husband, three children. She is a Indie Author and runs a company 'Plaisted Publishing House Ltd,' helping Indie Authors get their books online and looking professional. We are happy for people to submit their work for our team to look through.
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