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Jonathan Mosen: I’m Jonathan Mosen and this is Mosen At Large. The show that’s got the blind community talking. On the show this week, more about Eloquence in iOS 16. A new JAWS 2022 feature promises to tame notifications. What can Americans do about the gun crisis?
Voiceover: Mosen At Large podcast.
Jonathan: This email comes from Linda McLeod and it says, “Hi, Jonathan. I have been listening to your show regularly now for several months. I’m enjoying the range of topics important to the blind community. In episode 183, you opened your podcast with such a level of excitement-
?Speaker: Whoa, oh my God. Oh my God.
Jonathan: -about something I had not heard of. Eloquence, however, for whatever reason, I have to say that even though I try to keep up on these matters or perhaps because I have not graduated to using a screen reader on a regular basis since I do have a bit of vision left, I do not know what Eloquence is and why it will be such a great advancement in iOS 16. Thanks so much.”
Thank you for writing in Linda and for listening to the podcast as well. I really do appreciate that. It is a fair question. You know we get people listening from all walks of life and maybe some people who are not screen reader users or have not encountered eloquence for whatever reason. Let me try and give you a brief synopsis of why this is so significant to so many of us. Ahem, are you sitting comfortably?
Automated Voice: You can read along with me in your book. You’ll know it is time to turn the page. When you hear the chimes ring like this. [chime] Let’s begin now.
Jonathan: While talking computers had been around in some form earlier than this, they started to become truly viable in the 1980s. The word viable in this book is in quotation marks because to make them talk, it was complicated. Dude, it was complicated. Narrator’s note. The picture shows a pimply blind youth leaning over an IBM XT with its internal components exposed. The youth has singed hair because he accidentally touched the power supply when securing a large card into the device. Returning to text. [chime]
Computers weren’t powerful enough to produce unlimited intelligible speech and software so external devices needed to be connected to computers to make them talk. These devices took two forms. Cards could be inserted and secured into a desktop computer. Initially, these cards, which didn’t send data to a serial port, which had bandwidth limitations could often be more responsive. If you wanted a device to take from computer to computer, you could use an external speech synthesizer.
Narrator’s note. The picture shows an external box with a power switch of volume knob and an old-fashioned-looking port. I don’t know what that is. Other narrator’s note, that’s an RS-232 port, you fool. Returning to text. [chime] No matter what kind of device people opted for, they added more cost to an already expensive screen reader and computer combo. Some like the deck talk, which was considered the gold standard, were very expensive.
Narrator’s note. The picture shows a woman wearing a set of headphones, talking into a microphone. A speech bubble says, “We interrupt this screen reader.” Returning to text. [chime] Computers in those days had very limited resources and to make many of these speech synthesizers behave, it was necessary to assign them a free software interrupt or IRQ for short. Scientists have proven that blind people in their 50s and older, have a disproportionately high amount of hair loss and this is the reason.
Narrator’s note. The picture shows a man holding up a bottle of shower cleaner and pouring some on his head. The speech bubble reads, “This is the hair restoring formula, right?” Returning to text. [chime] Then in 1997, Henter-Joyce, for that was the name of the company that made JAWS back then, announced the breakthrough. If you had a sound card in your Windows PC and not everyone did back then, because sound on your computer was for nerds and just had novelty value only, JAWS would ship with a free software synthesizer so you could install it and not have to worry about connecting and paying for expensive hardware.
The synthesizer was called Eloquence. People found it surprisingly clear and responsive and the learning curve to get a screen reader up and talking reduced dramatically. Narrator’s note. A picture shows a blind woman, smiling, carrying a huge pile of floppy discs in one hand and making the sign of the cross with the other. The speech bubble reads, “I hope disc seven isn’t corrupted this time.” Returning to text. [chime]
Over the years, computers became more and more powerful. Newer text-to-speech engines were developed to take advantage of that power. These text-to-speech engines were no longer speech synthesizers. Instead, companies got real people into studios from all around the globe and had them make phonemic noises. In the early days, this made text-to-speech engines, sound human.
At first text to speech engines that were made this way, they were called concatenated speech engines, were sluggish. Blind people tended to only use them when reading documents still relying on Eloquence for editing and navigating the operating system, but computers became more powerful still and the technology became more efficient. Some now prefer the more natural-sounding speech.
Yet there are many who still consider Eloquence the gold standard. For some, it’s the way things are pronounced. For others, it’s the high intelligibility at very fast speeds. Something they believe more natural voices are simply not suited for. For yet others, Eloquence has been around for so long that it’s just what they feel most comfortable with. Now, after years of asking, Apple is adding Eloquence to iOS, and we lived happily ever after, until the next major iOS accessibility crisis.
Narrator’s note. The picture shows an iPhone floating in a bowl of soup.
Voiceover: Mosen At Large podcast.
Jonathan: A word of warning from Kelby Carlson who says, “Hi, Jonathan. I was very excited to hear that Eloquence was coming to iOS 16. My excitement was muted, however-” Oh, no. “-when I did some research and discovered that the iPhone 7 models will not be supporting iOS 16. I currently use an iPhone 7 and while it’s an old model, it is still working fine for me. I don’t plan on replacing it until it breaks. Perhaps Apple will make Eloquence backward compatible with iOS 15, but assuming they don’t, I guess I will have to wait a while longer for that benefit. I thought this was something listeners would want to be aware of.”
Thank you, Kelby. Yes, I think it’s highly unlikely at this stage that Apple will go back and add Eloquence to iOS 15. They’re wrapping up that cycle right now. That would be quite a significant addition. Whenever you make additions, you always run the risk of adding bugs. I don’t think that will happen sadly. I was just thinking, when was it that the iPhone 7 came out. Apple phones do tend to last a lot longer than Android devices, which is good because a lot of them are quite expensive. When you invest in one, you hope it will last a long time. I guess I’ve got my phone here. I can ask the authority. Apple will know about these things. When was the iPhone 7 released?
Siri: Allow me to direct you to Apple’s rather fabulous website.
Jonathan: Why won’t it just answer the question? All right. I’ll ask another company’s product and see if it does any better. The old drinker. Soup drinker, when was the iPhone 7 released?
Alexa: The Apple iPhone 7 was released on September 15th, 2016, making the phone six years old.
Jonathan: Pretty sad to think that I had to ask the drinker for an answer that Apple should have just been able to give me. This is the frustrating thing about Siri. A six-year-old phone is now not receiving updates. I suppose that’s not unreasonable, but nevertheless, it will be a big sacrifice for some people for whom the iPhone is a big purchase, it’s a major purchase. It’s not always easy for everybody to upgrade to the latest and greatest.
If you can manage it though, Kelby, you will be astounded and delighted I’m sure, with the speed with which everything happens and some of the newer features, particularly if you can spring for the pro model and do all the things that lidar is now doing.
Sally Britnell: Hi, Jonathan. Just a few thoughts on iOS 16. I bit the bullet and paid my developer subscription just so I could try it. Now I’m going to have to develop something in the next year to make it worthwhile. Time is fun. Anyway, my initial thoughts are from a large print perspective that the large print headings and large print block strength screen features seem to actually work better and seem to match more with what the rest of the system does for large print.
I’m quite pleased with the fact that things like the clock on the lock screen actually respond much better to the accessibility settings. One thing I am having trouble with is the keyboard. When I push dictate on the keyboard, it crashes, but I suppose it’s a developer beta so I can’t really expect much more. There is that. There have been a few random crashes but other than that, I’m liking what it’s done with home or some of the things that it’s done with the home app.
For example, on the favorite screen, it now puts things into the rooms that they’re in instead of having them all muddled in together. The downside of that is it’s not responsive to large print settings and accessibility. It’s actually made things smaller, which is kind of annoying, but the icons do make a little bit of a difference in that respect. When I turn voiceover on, it seems okay, but the other two big things that I’ve noticed so far in using it for a day and a half.
Jonathan: Some reaction to the debates that Paul Edwards and I had on episode 183 of the podcasts regarding capitalizing Braille when referring to the code. It’s a note from Lena. She says, “Hello, Jonathan. I enjoyed the debate with Paul. You and he could teach the US Congress a thing or two. Braille would not be the first capitalized verb in the English language. We Xerox papers. We FedEx mail. We UPS packages to our friends and I will be writing Braille with an uppercase B,” says Lena. Best to you and Bonnie.”
“Hello, Jonathan.” Says this email. “I’m Abbi from the US. I’ve been listening to your podcast for about two months now, and it’s one of my favorites. Well, I’m delighted to have you listening. Thank you so much. Abbi goes on to comment on some bugs with iOS 16 beta 1. We’ve received a few of these comments from listeners. I’m not going to read them on the air because I think that does really violate Apple’s non-disclosure agreement.
If we find bugs, let’s work together with Apple to fix them. If they don’t and we get a release full of bugs, we can talk about that then but buggy code is expected at beta time. Let’s just make sure we let Apple know what the issues are, but I won’t be covering those bugs at the stage of the cycle on the podcast.
Continuing with his email, “I also just wanted to comment on capitalizing the letter B in Braille. I don’t see why it shouldn’t be capitalized. For one thing, it’s a person’s name and for another Louis Braille had a terrible accident that caused him to lose his sight and to create a code that would allow blind and visually impaired people to access the world. I think he deserves that honor in capitalizing the B in Braille.
Roy Nash: This is Roy Nash from little rock Arkansas. I enjoyed your podcast immensely last week and I wanted to comment briefly on one part of it. At one point, a listener commented that she had always capitalized Braille and could see no good reason not to. That’s always been my feeling on the subject. I’ve never weighed in on this question before so I thought I would listen very carefully to your interview with Paul Edwards to see if some reasons would come out why you should not capitalize Braille.
After listening very carefully, I heard no reasons at all why you shouldn’t but I heard lots of reasons why you should. I’m going to comment on them very briefly. Now I’m not going to try to cover the points that you have already made Jonathan, because you’ve already done that better than I could ever hope to. I do want to say that for 5,000 years, blind people had no means of reading or writing. They were totally illiterate. They had no way of involving themselves in the world and they were pretty much ignored with no hope of ever becoming part of society.
In the early 19 hundreds, a blind teenager, apparently with a very high IQ, with amazing insight and incredible ability to think outside the box, came along and he invented a taxal system for representing print that was accessible to blind people. Though his methods were not immediately adopted, eventually they were. Since that time, blind people have had access to printed materials.
They could read them at their leisure and they could gain information and participate in society. Hundreds of thousands of blind people, including myself, have benefited from his work. He was an incredible individual. He was able to do it because he had a vested interest. I would have to ask the question, the hypothetical question at this point, “Do you think if it had not been for Louis Braille, that a taxal system would ever have been invented?”
Now, my answer to that question usually is yes. If somebody did invent something, somebody would come along and do it. But in this particular instance, I’m not so sure that it ever would’ve happened because blind people make up such a small percentage of the population that the vast majority of the population is not interested in our problems. Even if they are, they don’t have the insight that it would take to solve the problem. It would almost have to be a blind person with an opportunity to do it. Of course, this hypothetical question is totally beside the point. The point is that Louis Braille did it and he deserves all the credit for doing so.
Now, Braille has been modified over the years. Yes, and there have been improved ways of writing Braille with the Perkins Brailler. The point is, that the code which he invented is still basically the same as it was when he did it and he deserves all the credit and he deserves the respect of all blind people. I would capitalize his name, whether it was a noun or a verb or a conjunction or what it was.
Seriously, if something is Brailled, it’s put in the Braille code, which was invented by Louis Braille. Therefore the word should be capitalized in all forms. Now, having said all of that, I will end by finally saying that I think that all people who have made contributions to the blind field should be recognized and not forgot. I realize that there are many, but Louis Braille stands head and shoulders above the whole bunch. He deserves all of our respect and all of our recognition.
I once heard John Lennon quoted and he supposedly said, “Before Elvis, there was nothing.” Well, I don’t know about that, but I do know this, before there was Louis Braille, there was nothing. I’m talking about Louis Braille with a capital B.
Jonathan: Lynn is writing in and says, “I would like to comment on the ACB and NFB issue. About 20 years ago, I worked for an agency for the blind as an employment counselor. I felt it would be great personally and professionally to join both groups. First, I started with NFB. I liked it, but found it a bit rigid and not heard as we listened to those higher up in the organization. I told the president that I also wanted to join the local ACB chapter as well.
I was told I cannot be in both. As I didn’t appreciate that attitude, I joined and stayed with the ACB chapter who told me that I could be in both if I wanted. I felt that everyone had a part and I was heard in whatever discussions and decisions were made. I like the idea mentioned on episode 178, that both ACB and NFB meet in the same location and overlap with things in common such as the exhibit hall. They could have separate venues for specific issues.
“Hi, Jonathan,” says Sharon. Hi, Sharon’s AI. “Thanks very much for another brilliant podcast. It’s become my weekly podcast now. I’m thoroughly enjoying it.” Well, thank you so much for that. “I wondered,” she said “if you or your listeners could help me. I work for a typing company working from home and they would like us to install and use Grammarly. I have looked at it, but with JAWS, I can’t get it to work.
I wonder if you knew if it was accessible with JAWS, if not, do you know of anything similar that would work? I’m using JAWS 2022 in Office 365. If you could assist me, that would be great. I would like to add how much I enjoy reading Braille with an uppercase B to my little granddaughter. You were talking about it last week I think. I used the ClearVision service, where they have books with Braille and print slash pictures. Thanks very much.”
Well, thank you, Sharon. I haven’t heard of ClearVision before and understandably, I am on the hunt for books to read to my soon-to-be grandchild. I’m resubscribed to the national Braille press book of the month thing. I’ve got a bit of a supply stocked up of books and I’ve still got some books from when the kids were little, but I will check that out. Thank you for the tip. See, we all help each other out on this podcast.
Oh, and I got so distracted by the grandchild thing I really didn’t answer your question. [laughs] Grammarly to the best of my knowledge is not accessible. I do seem to recall I saw some Twitter traffic a few months ago where some people in the blind community have been on quite rightly so at Grammarly for some time about their inaccessibility. I think somebody from Grammarly may have said that accessibility was imminent not before time. If anybody is desperate to use Grammarly and has been monitoring this more closely than me, please let us know via the podcast, Jonathan@MushroomFM.com or give me a call, 864-60MOSEN and we can share that information.
In terms of alternatives, you mentioned that you have Office 365, and Word does come with a grammar checker. Of course, I never use it because I ain’t going to use no grammar checker. You could try that. You could try the one that’s built into Word. You must have a reason for not wanting to, I guess. I don’t know what it is that makes Grammarly so popular. Why, if so many people use Word, people still choose to use Grammarly and I don’t know that because it’s not accessible. If anyone has any enlightenment on this, please do feel free to share
Voiceover: What’s on your mind? Send an email with a recording of your voice or just write it down. Jonathan@MushroomFM.com. That’s J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N @MushroomFM.com or phone our listener line. The number in the United States is 864-60MOSEN, that’s 864-60-667-36.
Jonathan: To Botswana we go and Thabo is back and he’s got some questions and comments. He says, “I read a post the other day on LinkedIn about Elon Musk’s deal to purchase Twitter. It is being said that he’s negotiating for a reduced price than the initial $40 billion deal. Of course, it is being said that he is somehow questioning the existence of some Twitter accounts, which threaten the security of users as well as the idea that developers are creating Twitter clients/apps.”
Commenting, some people are saying that Mr. Musk might not have the money proposed or agreed on so he is calling for a reduced amount. Do you or any of the listeners know something about this case? I find it interesting. Well, it is interesting Thabo, but I don’t think many of us know exactly what’s going on. Elon Musk started expressing some hesitation after Twitter said that only 5% of Twitter accounts were bought. I think he believes it’s considerably higher than that and he wants further data backing up Twitter’s estimations.
We’ll just have to see what happens there and whether he may be getting cold feet over the whole Twitter deal. In my view, that might not be a bad thing at all if he walks away from it, but it’s conceivable that the novelty’s wearing off. If you just got out your Amex black credit card or whatever he is got there and you plunk $40 billion on a purchase, you may well find yourself suffering from a big dollop of buyer’s remorse.
Thabo continues moving on to another question, “Which way would you or any listener here recommend as the cheapest/affordable way of accepting payments online when you are running a small business and it is fairly new?” If other listeners want to chime in on this question, keep in mind that Thabo is in Botswana so that might have an impact on the services that are available to him. If PayPal is available to you, I think that that is probably a pretty safe bet.
PayPal is well supported. You can usually integrate it with your bank account and there are many WordPress and Drupal and other plugins that support PayPal integration so that you can have people pay online. It’s a good place to start. He continues about your experience with Google. I want to say thank you so very much for what you do so we may benefit. Seeing how they wasted your time back and forth and you kept on going really moves me to appreciate you. Surely you deserve a cup of coffee on an outing.
Oh, man, I might even be more hyper than I already am. It is so disheartening, Jonathan, that Google can do such a thing. By the time I am writing this message, I hope you have something better to share regarding the experience. We may be the smallest population in their business, but our money holds the same value as it does for those that can see.
We are the reason why people at the accessibility team have been employed. If all Android blind users would stop using it today, Google would lose out on some amount of money that goes into their account. Maybe we need to stand up tall, have our heads held high, and get Google to include what they themselves agreed on regarding Braille when they were with other stakeholders.
Like I mentioned in another message I wrote some time back, I think last week, I don’t know about Braille devices, but as a blind person, I do try to understand what is going on here. Especially that Google is deliberately ignoring the new technology without any valid reason or without explanation at all. It has its own accessibility issues here and there, but compared to Google and Android, oh my goodness, Apple, all the way,” says Thabo.
Thanks for writing and my hope is that blind people can have the same degree of choice as everybody else. There are various reasons why Android suits some people’s way of working and why iOS may suit some people’s way of working. If we can make those decisions without accessibility being a significant determinant, then we really do have progress. That’s why I think this Braille issue and a number of other issues over the last few years surrounding talk back is so important.
Choice is critical and what works for one of us may not work for another of us. When you have accessibility distorting the choice, that’s a real concern. Andre is writing in. He says, “Like you, I am a totally blind adult with Norrie syndrome and of course, I use hearing aids. I’m definitely not the audio tech nerd that you are, but I’m definitely a challenge to most audiologists.” Good for you. He says, “I just purchased a new pair of Signia hearing aids.
This is the brand I’ve been using for decades, but I’m thinking of switching to Widex and will just use the refund from the trial period to purchase them. Interestingly, I have found that older hearing aids were often better, especially when it comes to clipping, which I can’t stand. The best hearing aid I ever had was from 2005. It had a great music program. I use a music program almost all the time, not just when I’m listening to music, but because I don’t like noise suppression. I’m sure you understand that as blind folks, we need to hear surrounding noise, not just speech. I also have a crowd program for excessively noisy situations.
Unfortunately, I ruined those hearing aids because they were so good that I didn’t want to send them in for repair and be without them. I didn’t have a good backup at the time, but I do have a pair from 2013, which I just send in to replace the receiver, et cetera. All this to say, I am disappointed in the latest Signia aids I got, which I think are about two years old. The music program still has some clipping, even with noise suppression turned off.
We tried maxing out the MPO, but the sound was distorted. I wanted to try Widex because I’ve read they are very good at reducing clipping. I guess they have the MPO at 113 DB instead of 100, which is the standard. At least that is what they claim in their music program from 2014 called Widex Dream. Have you found better success with older technology? I have no cell phone, so I’m not interested in direct streaming. I’d be curious about your take on this.”
Good to hear from you, Andre. Finding the right pair of hearing aids to suit you is a huge challenge and I’m pleased you’re not just accepting whatever it is that comes your way. You need to be a discerning customer because it is so important. When I hear a description of what you want, the first thing I think of is, have you tried the Oticon Opn range because the scenario you describe is exactly what attracted me to these aids, which is that you’re right.
As a blind person, there are frequent scenarios where noise that would be considered annoying background sounds for most hearing aid users that should be filtered out are actually critical environmental clues and that fits squarely with the Oticon open philosophy. My aids are three years old now, but I can tell you that when I got them, I experienced a significant improvement in my quality of life. I did use to use Phonak.
I did take a look at Widex back in 2019. One of the reasons why I discarded Widex will not apply to you. That was that the Widex app at that time at least was atrociously inaccessible to the point that I couldn’t do some of the things I needed to do with the Widex aids. The Oticon app is pretty good overall. Now, my needs are probably a bit different from yours because I can’t just buy based on the music program alone.
In my job, I find myself in meetings, I find myself having to travel. I’ve got to take that into account as well. One thing I have found that’s really great is that with these Oticon aids, I’ve got some precise directionality back. One of the most frustrating experiences, when I was doing a lot of international travel for work, was you would end up at these big hotels with massive elevator banks. You’d push the button on the elevator and you’d wait for the ping to tell you which elevator had turned up. I used to find it very difficult to tell where that ping was coming from. Was it behind me? Was it in front of me somewhere? By the time you would rush around with your cane, whacking it at the elevator doors, trying to find out which one was open. The elevator that had turned up had gone again. [chuckles]
With these Oticon aids, I have much better success. I’m not saying it’s perfect but I have much better success. Certainly, being able to not have background noise filtered out has really helped me a lot. I think you’re on the right track there. Try different manufacturers, go through the trial periods, and see which ones work for you.
In fact, we had Tim, who was giving us a bit of a series for a while. He was doing exactly this that we haven’t heard from Tim for a while so I don’t know whether he’s still trying new hearing aids and what’s going on with him, whether he’s settled on a new pair, and what he decided. If you haven’t been listening to the podcast for a while, you might like to go through the archives from earlier this year and have a listened to some of those segments where he gave his opinion on hearing aids.
The thing about hearing aids is they’re such personal items. It’s such a subjective thing so what pushes my buttons may be totally unsuitable for you. Best of luck with your search. If you find something that does the magic for you, we’d be very interested to hear what you ended up with.
Voiceover: Mosen At Large Podcast.
Alco: Hi, Jonathan. This is Alco in Spokane, Washington. I wanted to give you some technology good news. I have just discovered the coolest meat thermometer. It is put up by MEATER, M-E-A-T-E-R. The website is meater.com. You can pair it with your iPhone or you can use Wi-Fi. It gives you poultry, fish, beef, and lamb, and you selected the doneness of the item you’re cooking. Then it says, “Start cook.”
You said it in the meat beforehand, it will tell you then how much cooking time is left, and it will tell you remove from heat. It will also tell you resting time is done. There are two other models, the MEATER Plus and the MEATER Block. I have a feeling they have to do with distance from the item that you’re cooking. Take care. I just wanted to pass this along. It has really made cooking so much more efficient and easy.
Jonathan: Here’s Marissa who writes “Greetings, Jonathan. I have a very frustrating and random set of issues with voiceover running iOS 15.5 on an iPhone 12 series device. I am hoping you or your listeners can help. I’m pulling my hair’s out. I am no stranger to Apple bugs that only I seem to experience. Issues below with a bit of backstory. I’m really starting to wonder if there’s something wrong with my Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max or if I need to re-install iOS 15.5 using iTunes.
I never restore from an iCloud backup. I’ve reset my iPhone to factory, erased all content and settings set up as new. In addition to the Samantha enhanced voice downloading in the background on Wi-Fi at random times, I have downloaded Alex. It completely downloaded it as it was supposed to. A minute ago, I turned on my voiceover and Samantha was speaking even though Alex was selected.
It’s very inconsistent and random when it happens but I’ve noticed it must have something to do with my iPhone when it connects to our home Wi-Fi.” Thanks, Marissa, that does sound frustrating. I’ve not seen this personally, but one thing I would suggest you try is to add another item to your list of languages so you can have a default voice and then you can also go in and you can add additional voices.
Maybe if you go in and you add Alex and then select that expressly in the router, maybe that will clear it up and maybe others have some thoughts. Remember in the golden age of episode 180 of Mosen At Large and Robert Kinget was talking about an issue he was experiencing with his iPhone SE 3rd generation, well, we have a follow-up.
He says, “Hello, Jonathan and company. I’d like to thank you for all the private emails I’ve received from Mosen At Large listeners, wishing to aid me in this issue. Unfortunately, I had to figure this out on my own but I’m pleased to announce that I’ve solved the problem. I’d like to document my experience here in case it helps others.
I began by documenting. I started documenting what happened when I connected and completely removed Bluetooth devices on my iPhone. I also started documenting locations and dates and times that’s happened as well. In short, Apple’s accessibility tech support wasn’t any help, I had to figure it out on my own. I did call Apple’s main tech support and accessibility tech support. The problem occurred no matter where I was, I learned that actually what was happening was something was switching the audio output on my iPhone without me doing it.
Using the voiceover router to switch audio output still did not fix the problem. I began running tests, turning off voiceover whenever the output would be suddenly switched to the phone’s ear speaker. Music and other audio continued to play through the phone’s ear speaker whenever this happened. I tried using my phone in different locations only to learn it wasn’t geographically specific.
The output was suddenly being switched to the ear speaker whenever Bluetooth was enabled. I thought there must be some device that is stealing the audio output and it must be happening on my phone because the problem persisted away from my apartment. I thought a neighbor’s device was somehow switching the audio output on my phone which is why I started testing locations as well as trying to detect any patterns.
I had completely disconnected the Amazon speakers and all Bluetooth devices, the output still randomly switched. My breakthrough came when I had said voiceover focus to the status bar and forgot to change voiceover focus. When the audio output suddenly changed, it said ‘Audio now routed to Bluetooth transmitter.’ When it happened again that same day, voiceover said ‘Audio routed to Bluetooth receiver.’
I immediately wrote down what I heard in a notepad that was increasing in page count by the day. Now, I had a breakthrough. After some Googling, I learned that certain websites and certain apps on your iPhone access Bluetooth and act as a receiver rather than a speaker. I started documenting which apps had access to my Bluetooth. Shockingly, Apple made this far easier than what I was documenting.
In Privacy, there’s a section where you can see which apps are using Bluetooth. I started disabling Bluetooth access for all of my apps. I then went back and enabled the Bluetooth access to one app at a time for a day and documented any changes. This took me several days and hours, but in short, the soup drinker app was stealing audio output from my phone without the app being open or even in use.
The soup drinker app was also accessing my microphone by switching the audio output to the ear speaker on the iPhone as well. I experienced the same thing while browsing on an Amazon website on my iPhone. The Amazon website was having Safari to pretend to be a Bluetooth receiver. It happened once but I honestly felt a little spooked. I called Amazon wanting to report this back to them.
The disability support staff were not fully listening to what I was saying. They kept assuming I had a generic user problem with my Bluetooth. Frustrated, I began Googling and cross-referencing soup drinker app updates with the date of the first email I sent to you. In short, Amazon released a soup drinker feature called “Notify when nearby.” It’s a feature that is supposed to notify a blind and visually impaired users of notifications without prompting.
The feature relies on a combination of things from Bluetooth, the soup drinker app, and other factors. I believe this feature caused soup drinker app developers to develop features to track Bluetooth-enabled devices in order to get this feature to work properly. What I can’t understand is why the soup drinker app is suddenly switching audio output to itself when the app isn’t open or running.
I don’t know why the soup drinker app is suddenly acting as a Bluetooth receiver when the app is closed. In short, after disabling Bluetooth access on the soup drinker app, so the app couldn’t access device Bluetooth, that solved the problem completely. Do you have any thoughts as to why apps would suddenly start telling Bluetooth devices they are actually Bluetooth transmitters. Has this happened with any Sonos app or speaker? Have you experienced this on other apps?”
Robert, I have not, but we have a lot of people using Amazon Echos. To be clear, when we are talking about the soup drinker app, we’re saying it because if we say the name of the assistant that Amazon uses, then it’s going to trigger lots of little assistants all around the world. We’re talking about the Amazon app for your Echo and similar devices that uses Amazon’s assistant. Has anyone else seen this?
I have not, and I do use the app from time to time, but it’s possible the feature that you’re talking about isn’t available in New Zealand. I have certainly come across situations where I have run apps and voiceover starts to talk through the earpiece, but it’s pretty easy to know what the problem app is because as soon as you run the app, it happens, and then you close the app and it goes away again, but the problem that you are describing is a lot more complex.
Has anyone seen this problem with Amazon’s app for its personal assistant? It would be interesting to know. Like the show? Then why not like it on Facebook, too? Get upcoming show announcements, useful links, and a bit of conversation. Head on over now to facebook.com/mosenatlarge. That’s facebook.com/ M-O-S-E-N at large to stay connected between episodes.
John: Hey, Jonathan. This is John [unintelligible [00:41:22] again in Los Angeles. I’m calling about a couple of things, including your exciting news about your trip to Europe later this year. I did want to comment, you had a very serious comment from a gentleman who was concerned about having to judge people by being on a jury. I think his statement was heartfelt and I understand where he’s coming from.
I also think it’s important that all of your listeners know how important jury service is. The whole idea of a jury of your peers was so that you had fellow citizens judging you, not the king or a politician or the person who arrested you. I strongly want everyone to remember what it means to be a juror. I’ve had the privilege, and I do say that, a privilege to serve on two juries in my lifetime. Both times, I was blind. I was high partial at the time and I was treated very well. People took extra time to read things to me, that sort of thing.
Both cases, by the way, happen to be murder trials. To this day, I think about them because you hope you’re doing the right thing in something that important. The other thing to consider for those who would have troubled judging someone’s life in that way, in other words, that they might have to go to jail because of their decision, is that you can also be serving on a civil case. You could be doing an auto accident or a slip and fall or a business decision.
If you have a serious problem judging someone’s freedom or not want to serve on a criminal case, you always have the option that you could be in a civil case. Again, I was treated very fairly in all cases. There were times when I was passed over to a jury. I think in one case, somebody– I think that the prosecutor really didn’t want me on the case, I think because of my vision issue. I mean, that’s my supposition.
She had run out of challenges and she approached the bench when I was the next juror up and I think vehemently argued to keep me off, but she didn’t have a challenge and the judge didn’t abide with her and I ended up serving. That’s my supposition. I don’t know that for a fact. On a more fun topic, as I was just in Paris last month in April, I can tell you– Actually, a lot of things I could say, and maybe I’ll send you an email with some more thoughts on this.
You mentioned wanting to go to Louis Braille’s home. I’m not sure where that is or where the school he attended. I’m sure you’ll be able to find that out. I did want to mention that Louis Braille is buried in the Panthéon in Paris, and the Panthéon is well worth a visit, also very close by, just as an aside. You’re within easy walking distance of the Luxembourg Gardens, which is historic and beautiful and a very relaxing place to walk around, and also in very close distance to the Cluny Museum that just reopened.
Unfortunately, it reopened after our visit, so we couldn’t see it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get back someday and partially was closed down because they wanted to make the museum more accessible for people like us who have some difficulties getting around on occasion. Just that. Then there are other many other things within walking distance to that area.
The other thing I would like to mention, you probably know this. This is true in many countries. This is true. I found it to be true in England and in France that if you can show evidence of blindness, sometimes you don’t need to. The white cane is good enough, but if you have a card showing you’re blind, you and your sighted guide are admitted for free to government museums. Sometimes you don’t even have to wait in a line. Sometimes they will let you go forward. That’s something to consider. I think it’s very exciting that you’re doing this. Good for you. Best of luck with you, your wife, and daughter on this wonderful trip you’re taking. Thanks for all you do.
Jonathan: Well, thank you for your contribution, John. I am looking forward to it because a lot of the time when I travel, it’s for work. I may get one or two things in around the work, but work is normally the primary purpose. To be heading over all that way purely for a leisure trip, it’s really going to be fun. I’m looking forward to it.
Here’s Derry Lawler on the subject, and he says, “Hi, Jonathan and Bonnie. Well, delighted to hear all about your upcoming trip across the globe. London is a super place and I have been to 221B Baker Street. They have waxwork people of all the characters, but be careful of Professor Moriarty as I nearly knocked his head off.” Oh, Derry, opportunity missed there. You may have done the world a favor had you knocked as head off.
Derry continues, “Paris is so much fun and you will all enjoy it. Louis Braille’s house is a little bit outside but doable. Stockholm, when Martha and I went on the cruise, we did not go to ABBA’s museum, but we did go to an ice bar and drank out of glasses made of ice. You had to wrap up with the reindeer cloaks supplied. I will look forward to hearing much more about the trip. Love the show.”
Thank you, Derry. I don’t know who this email is from because it only comes up with an email address in the from field and I certainly don’t want to read that out, but it’s a useful email and I shall read it out. It says, “Marissa mentioned Hadley and that she was thinking of taking their courses. She also mentioned trouble with skipping lines. I have been taking Braille with an uppercase B with Hadley and highly recommend Hadley.
I just simply, when I get to the end of a line, follow my finger back to the beginning of that line and then go down a bit, and that takes me to the next line. I don’t know if that is helpful at all, but that is what I do.”
Here’s an email which I think will trigger a discussion that demonstrates that sometimes we just cannot understand the experiences that some others of us have. Tara Briggs writes, “Hi, Jonathan, I really enjoy your podcast. Particularly, I really admire the way that you read emails and hold ongoing discussions about people’s thoughts on different issues. I am assuming you have heard of the massacre of innocent children that took place in the United States at Rob Elementary on May the 24th.
Sadly, this is not the first time. This has happened in my country, and I fear it won’t be the last. I have spent time over the past few days researching the concerns and solutions of parents from another mass shooting that took place nearly 10 years ago. This is the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. I feel such sorrow and despair for my country. As a blind person, who is married to a man with a mobility disability, every day we live benefited by and grateful for a time when our society came together.
The Americans with Disabilities Act has been around for 32 years and it has greatly impacted our quality of life. Every day, my husband goes to work crossing accessible streets to ride accessible transportation. He arrives at a university that is accessible, and he spends his days helping disabled students from that university find employment. It is heartbreaking to me that 32 years ago, so many people came together and decided that we could do better as a country to help disabled people live better and more inclusive lives, but now when our children are being massacred with military assault rifles, my government does not one damn thing.
Here’s my question as someone who has been deeply involved in the political process and even passed legislation, that was a dream win, when it was initially thought of. What should we do? Even New Zealand rarely have these problems, and when you do, you take impactful steps to prevent them from happening again. Ever since I heard about the shooting, I’ve cried and cried. I keep thinking about the parents who have lost their beautiful children. I keep thinking about the trauma and sorrow that could have been prevented.
I am a parent of two little girls. I’m not exactly sure how to describe how much they mean to me. They are the great dream and joy of my life. I have lost loved ones. A couple of dear friends passed away from cancer. My first and dearly loved service dog passed away. For me, healing from those losses comes from gratitude for my friends and Honey, my service dog. The memories that I have of them will always bring joy, but the massacre of children and the government that does no more than send thoughts and prayers, I have no words. I can’t even imagine. It seems to me that this is a grief that simply does not and will never heal.
The reason I feel so much despair is that some of the people who really have the power to make change won’t come together, won’t compromise, and above all, they seem so unwilling to listen to people like the Sandy Hook parents who’ve been asking for changes for nearly 10 years. They also seem unwilling to learn from other countries where incidents like this rarely or never occur.
When September the 11th, 2001 took place in my country, it was horrific and sad. However, my government did something about it. We didn’t just send thoughts and prayers. The people in power came together, and they found solutions. Nearly 21 years later, nothing like that has happened again. Why didn’t we do that nearly 10 years ago? Can anything be done now? Will you talk about what you have done in New Zealand to stop mass shootings and your thoughts on what we here in the United States can do? Thanks for your help, and insight.”
Well, Tara, thanks for writing in. It’s hard to know what to say about this because it upsets me deeply as well. In fact, I can tell you, I remember like it was yesterday getting the breaking news notifications about the Sandy Hook massacre and hearing just how hideous it was. I was a wreck. In fact, Bonnie and I had just really got to know each other. We were friends at that stage because she’d done the radio show with me earlier in the year and we kept in touch. I gave her a call, and I talked to a few other Americans at the time, and the one thing that I noticed was, for most Americans, it disgusted them, it appalled them, but it didn’t surprise them.
It was like there had been some sort of immunity even then to the absolute horror, the unacceptable nature of these mass shootings. I couldn’t get over it. I was deeply affected by Sandy Hook. I cried a lot. I think this really does resonate with you deeply when you are a parent and you have young kids and you imagine how you would feel. How could you possibly ever recover from the idea that you sent your kid to a place that’s supposed to be safe like school? You’re putting their lunch in their bag, you’re sending them off, maybe you’re busy, you give them a quick goodbye because everybody’s in a hurry in the morning and they never come home.
How the hell do you cope with that? How do you get over that? You don’t. I remember hearing President Obama, and tears were streaming down his face. He’s a dad. He was deeply affected by it, and I thought, “Surely with his oratory skills, something’s got to be done. People can come together.” Of course, that never happened, and there were mass shootings almost on a daily basis. If you define a mass shooting as the shooting of four or more people, then on average, there’s been one every day this year so far in the United States. It hasn’t gotten any better.
In 2019, I was at CSUN for Aira, and I took my daughter, Nicola, along with me because we were going to do Disneyland in conjunction with CSUN. We went to do some shopping, and I started getting these breaking news notifications about a shooting at a couple of mosques in New Zealand. At first, I thought, “There must be some mistake. There must be. That can’t be going on in New Zealand.” Sure enough, it was. The nation was absolutely traumatized by this, and very quickly, the government acted. Everything else was dropped, and legislation was passed that closed loopholes, that banned those weapons, and bought them back.
That’s not to say that we never have shootings. We’ve had a spate of gun issues recently, but we really haven’t the kind of massacres that you see in the news so frequently in the United States. Similarly, in Australia, they had a massacre some years ago now. They took dramatic action, and they haven’t had one since. That mass shooting took place on a Friday, New Zealand Time. It was a Thursday in California where I was at the time, and I was glued to the coverage. The nation was in a deep state of trauma, and the Prime Minister was very comforting and showed some great leadership during that issue.
On Friday morning, I was due to give a presentation for Aira and I was a wreck. This mass shooting had really affected me. I went down and I was talking to people, and I said, “I’m sorry, I’m not with it. We’ve had a mass shooting.” What struck me about that incident was how blasé Americans were about the mass shooting. Kind of, “Oh, yes, that’s terrible. Shrug your shoulders, get on. Mass shootings happen a lot.” The experience that we were going through as a country over that mass shooting was just completely different to the way that most Americans now react to them because of how common they’ve become.
I like to think that there are certain issues that transcend countries that just as a fellow human being if you are aware of kids not coming home from school, parents have lost their precious bundles of joy because of these acts of barbarism, that transcends country’s borders. You just feel for them as fellow humans, as fellow parents. I must admit that when this most recent one occurred, of course, I was horrified. As the news rolled out about what had happened, I was just appalled and sickened and all those things, but yet, there was a part of me at that point that shrugged my shoulders and said, “America is not going to do anything about this.”
I heard a very brave BBC reporter tackling Ted Cruz, basically saying, “How is it that people like you, Senator Cruz, keep going on about how America is the best country in the world and all this sort of stuff, and you can say it until you’re blue in the face, but you don’t deal with this fundamental gun problem, something that is unique to the United States?” Of course, he was very bombastic and said, “Ah, well, if you don’t think America is the best country in the world, I’m sorry for you.” That kind of stuff. Since you wrote this email, there is a deal of sorts. I don’t think it’s nearly enough.
I don’t think it will be enough until they ban assault weapons full stop because you can’t tell me that anybody needs to have access to an assault weapon. Why on earth do they need that? At least there is going to be some legislation. It’s the first legislation relating to gun control that has been passed for over three decades. It’s a small step, but it’s a step. Perhaps that speaks to the fact that talk is almost as useless as thoughts and prayers. Barack Obama was a good talker, but perhaps what we’re seeing is that that legislative experience that Joe Biden brings may actually be quite helpful in terms of trying to build a coalition and get an outcome.
It just seems to me, watching from this distance, that people-power has the potential to be more potent than the gun lobby but that the people-power hasn’t been activated sufficiently yet. Maybe the fact that there was that march a few days ago was sufficient to get the current outcome that’s going to turn into legislation across the line, but more can be done. I think it will probably take some sort of absolutely enormous march on Washington, and surely there are enough Americans who love their kids to do that to create some unstoppable show of solidarity around getting these issues truly resolved.
Maybe we will see what happens. What you may get, though, of course, is that some people will say, “Oh, good, there’s legislation now. Something has been done. We can stand down.” I don’t think America is there yet, but that will be for Americans to decide. I understand how you feel. I wish you luck in seeking some sort of action on it. I am very grateful not to live in a country with something like the Second Amendment.
Jonathan: A couple of Chromebook questions. David Vandermolen starts us off and says, “Hi, Jonathan. Your whirlwind tour coming up sounds absolutely wonderful. Enjoy.” Thank you. I intend to, David. “Thank you for your demos,” he says. “You recorded regarding setting up your Chromebook. One thing I find to be unfortunate about Chromebooks is that numerous Android apps don’t appear to be available if you go to the Play Store with a Chromebook.
Two examples of apps I’d like to try running are Dolphin EasyReader app and the MLB app that allows you to listen to Major League Baseball games. I’m wondering if those apps can be sideloaded onto a Chromebook and if so, would you run TalkBack or would you run ChromeVox as your screen reader? Thanks so much for your podcast, Jonathan, along with all you’re doing for the blind community. Thank you so much, Dave. I think you would run TalkBack if you could sideload the apps, but I’m not sure whether you can. I suspect that the reason why those apps aren’t showing up is that they’re not compatible with the Chromebook, that something has to be true in order for them to be runnable, if you will, on a Chromebook device.
However, maybe there’s a way. That’s the thing about Android. It is so open that there are often ways to do things, even if they’re a little bit complicated. If somebody’s had a go with installing an app for Android on a Chromebook that doesn’t show up in the Play Store, let us know how it went for you whether there are any tips and tricks that you can offer. Let’s see how they do. Christopher writes, who says, “Hi, Jonathan, here’s another question for you and all the MALP audience. How do you select text on pages with ChromeVox in Chrome OS?
The standard shift with Arrow Key commands don’t work and search with S doesn’t seem to do what I want either. This command seems to be a toggle, but it doesn’t appear to select the block when I start selection mode at the first character, move to the end of the selection with navigation commands, and press it again. Pressing Ctrl C after these commands does nothing. Is this another area where ChromeVox falls short? I’ve noticed the terminal support is bad as well.
I can understand terminal support not being as high a priority but the inability to easily select text on websites is unacceptable and should be fixed immediately.” Christopher, this is a good question. I did a bit of searching on this and I wasn’t immediately able to find an answer regarding how you just select text on a web page in Google Chrome. It seems like a fairly 101 type of feature. I agree. Maybe I am missing something obvious. If that’s the case, and someone can enlighten us. I’m sure there’d be a lot of interest in this. We look forward to some answers.
Ibrahim Khalil is writing in and says, “Hi there, Jonathan. I hope you and Bonnie are doing well. I am currently using Oticon hearing aids and I am interested in connecting them to devices with 3.5 headphone jacks in them. I know that some time ago, you mentioned you use a cord to connect your hearing aid straight to the mixer. Could you please mention it again and tell me where I could pick one up? Thank you and keep up the great work.” Well, Ibraham, what you need to do first of all is find out if your particular Oticon aids are compatible with this kind of cable. Not all are.
The thing to ask your audiologist is with your particular aids support a feature called Direct Audio Input. They call it DAI for short but it stands for Direct Audio Input. If they are compatible, you will need to have your audiologist change the battery door so it has a connector on the base of the door that interfaces with what are called audio shoes. On the audio shoe, you’ll find that there is a Euro connector. This connector is proprietary to the hearing aid industry.
If you can get that up and running, so you’ve changed your battery door, you have audio shoes connected to that battery door, what you can then do is buy a cable that has Euro connectors at either end that plug into the base of your hearing aid and terminate in a single 3.5-millimeter cable. Now, when you’re dealing with Oticon aids, it is important to note that the impedance is a bit lower on those aids so there are special optimized cables for Oticon. You can use any Euro cable, it just might be a bit fainter than otherwise would be the case.
I always make sure I get the Oticon-specific cables because everything’s nice and loud that way. As I say, it could be that the Oticon aids that you have don’t support this. I can be almost certain that if you have an in-the-ear or receiver in the canal aid, they absolutely won’t support it. If you’ve got a behind-the-ear aid, then there’s a chance that they will. “Hey, Jonathan,” says this email, “This is Mickey in Bismarck, North Dakota, a question about StationPlaylist. I have a friend who as of the 1st of July will manage a small radio station.
The program that they apparently use on their computer is not accessible with JAWS so I suggested to him that he checkout StationPlaylist. The question is which package should he get? I told him that he’d be doing himself a huge favor if he got the Pro package. Any thoughts?” Well, Mickey, I suspect that if he is trying to run an entire radio station and do the whole automation thing, then yes, probably Pro’s a good solution. It really depends on how complex you need the automation to be, how many broadcasters he’d be working with on the actual computer, various factors, how many counts you need.
I think the best thing for somebody to do is to go to the StationPlaylist website at stationplaylist.com and there is a really clear table on that website that summarizes the differences between Pro and Standard. If he takes a look at that table, he should be able to determine the version that would best suit his needs. The one thing I would say is, it’s always good to have a little bit more functionality than you need than to run into a snag where you think, “Ah, if only I bought the Pro version,” of course, you can upgrade later.
It’s good to get familiar with the thing you’re going to use from the get-go.
Voiceover: Mosen At Large podcast.
Jonathan: Taking full control not only of what your computer says to you but how it communicates information is one of the areas where JAWS excels. Power users can spend a great deal of time customizing the JAWS experience to have Braille or speak the information that they perceive to be relevant. It can save you a lot of time. It can make you more productive. I have talked with some concern on this podcast on several occasions about what I perceive to be the deterioration of blind people’s autonomy in this regard in Windows.
This has happened because, in particular, Microsoft applications have become more verbose by sending more information that may or may not be relevant, but also seemingly not giving consideration to whether that information could be conveyed more efficiently, less intrusively. I’ve described this as Microsoft killing our productivity with kindness. They mean well, but accessibility does not necessarily equate to efficiency or productivity. JAWS is seeking to address this with a feature that has not yet released as we publish this podcast, but soon should be in the June update of JAWS 2022.
My understanding is that this is just the beginning. We can expect to see more enhancements to this feature. This feature began by meeting a basic but important need and that was to speak, the most recent notification that came in. Now, when I talk about notifications and I’ll be talking about them a lot in this demonstration, I’m talking about them in the broadest sense. It could be a message that comes from the system. It could be a web page pushing you something because you’ve authorized it to do that. It could be your email application.
There are all sorts of things that could be causing a notification to be pushed. Sometimes you would hear your computer ding, but you’d maybe just press the Ctrl key to silence speech or something, and you miss what the notification said. There were workarounds. Of course, you could change the duration that the notification remained visible for but this was just an easy way to get at that information. Then, JAWS moved on to displaying a history of notifications. There are, of course, situations with the notifications came in thick and fast.
What would be really handy is if you could simply review a list of those notifications. JAWS will now do that. You’ll be able to arrow through and review notifications that have been received in the last 24 hours as long as JAWS was running. Even if you shut down your computer or you quit JAWS and restart it, the notification history is preserved for a 24-hour period. That’s a worthwhile addition but what if you could do even more? What if you could determine exactly how those notifications are presented to you both with speech and Braille separately or what if you could just silence some of these notifications altogether?
Well, that’s a bit of a game-changer and it is available in this update to JAWS 2022. In this demonstration, I’m going to show you how it works. First, if you liked the old functionality, it is still available to you if you want to, just to hear what the last notification was. To do that, I’ll press the JAWS key with the spacebar and you hear that sound, which indicates that we’ve got a layered command coming. In this case, we press shift with the letter N for November.
Automated Voice: Dropbox, Dropbox, Sarah Hillis changed four files dot dot 101.
Jonathan: The last notification I received was from Dropbox telling me that Sarah Hillis has changed four files. Just hearing that last notification still can be useful. When you press the JAWS key with space, followed by a lowercase n, which is the old way to do that, you get a very different user experience. We’ll show you that user experience in a moment. I’ll also talk about two other ways that you can invoke this new functionality.
Although I think that most people will find this pneumonic pretty easy because you press the JAWS key with spacebar followed by N for notifications. However, if you prefer, you can also invoke a list of managers in JAWS by pressing the JAWS key with F2.
Automated Voice: Run JAWS Manager dialog. List one, list view, command search 1 of 18.
Jonathan: You got quite a few managers in here now but if I press the letter N for November.
Automated Voice: Navigation quick keys, 10 of 18. Notifications history, 11 of 18.
Jonathan: There’s notification history in that list. I’ll press Escape to get out of this list of JAWS managers.
Automated Voice: Folder view, list view, not selected FSReader 3.0.
Jonathan: Finally, if you prefer, you can go to the utilities menu of JAWS and you’ll find the notification history in there. What I’d like to do now is take a break from talking about notifications and go to Microsoft Edge. There is method in my madness, I promise. I’ll go to the start screen
Automated Voice: Search box, edit.
Jonathan: Type Edge.
Automated Voice: Microsoft Edge. Microsoft recommended browser. Press write the switch preview.
Jonathan: I press Enter.
Automated Voice: Open a new window. Entitled Microsoft Edge page. Blank home. Blank loading complete. 6 regions, 10 headings, and 36 links. Enter home, links.
Jonathan: Right now, I’m on my Intranet Home for the organization I work for because I’m using my ThinkPad for this demonstration. I use that a lot for work, but I’m going to go to the mosen.org website. I’ll press control L location.
Automated Voice: Address and search star, edit HTTPS.
Jonathan: Type mosen.org and press Enter.
Automated Voice: Loading page. Loading complete, 3 frames, 7 regions, 13 headings, and 74 links. Mosen At Large, the personal home of Jonathan Mosen MNZM on the web tool bar.
Jonathan: I’ll press the Control Key to silence speech. I am a fan of Microsoft Edge. I like the fact that it’s fast. I like the fact that it’s gentle on energy consumption. I like the immersive reader function. If you don’t know about that, that’s where if you go to a news article, which may be interrupted by social media links and all sorts of other miscellany, you can press the F9 key. The immersive reader will come up and generally take away a lot of the clutter. You can also, if you choose to be read to by a very human-sounding like voice, if that is your thing.
What I do not like about Microsoft Edge is all this verbiage that suddenly came our way one dismal rainy day, and started interrupting everything. The loading page, the loading completes, and other things that go on. Let’s now go into the notification history. We can see that JAWS offers some relief from this. I’ll press the JAWS key with space, and then N.
Automated Voice: Notification history. Recent notifications list box. Slowed in complete at [10:33] AM. 1-165.
Jonathan: I’ve got 165 different notifications in here over the last 24 hours. Actually, I haven’t been using my laptop that often in the last 24 hours. It just goes to show how quickly these accumulate. This is one that I don’t want its loading complete. What can I do? Let’s tab around the screen and see what’s available.
Automated Voice: Enable rule checkbox checked.
Jonathan: Yes, there are rules that you can set because what we have on the screen is more than a simple list of notifications that you’ve received. You can perform actions on those rules. As always, the context sensitive help in JAWS is excellent. If I press the JAWS key with F1, I get this.
Automated Voice: Clear this checkbox to turn off all user created rules for notifications. When disabled, the options for creating and managing rules are not available. This checkbox is selected by default, link list JAWS hotkeys, press Escape to close this message.
Jonathan: This is a useful feature because sometimes you may want to disable the way that JAWS is processing notifications for you. In case you’re trying to troubleshoot an issue, I’ll press the Escape key.
Automated Voice: Enable rule checkbox checked.
Jonathan: I’ll press Tab.
Automated Voice: Create rule dot dot button.
Jonathan: We’ll come back and spend quite a bit of time on creating rules.
Automated Voice: Close button.
Jonathan: There’s a close button.
Automated Voice: Recent notifications list box. Loaded complete at [10:33] AM. 1-165.
Jonathan: I can also press the application key.
Automated Voice: Context menu. Create rule dot dot, 102
Jonathan: This will create a rule that’s contextual. In other words, it knows that since I invoked the application key on this particular notification, the notification will pertain to this rule.
Automated Voice: Don’t show in history dot dot dot. 2 of 2.
Jonathan: Even if you’re not as cantankerous and disagreeable about these messages as I am, you don’t mind them, but you certainly don’t want to see them in your notification history because you’ll probably be loading many web pages a day. If you go in here and you see loading page load completes, it’s really going to clutter up your notifications. I suspect the very least you will want to do is just stop these from appearing in your notification history. If you choose this option, then it will no longer be here in the history when you go in to review it.
Now, me? I don’t want this spoken at all. Get rid of it already. I know that the loading’s complete because JAWS will give me its own message about the number of links and the other elements that the page has. I just want this to stop. I’m going to down arrow and make it stop.
Automated Voice: Create the rule dot dot dot. 1 of 2.
Jonathan: We’ve wrapped back around on this context menu and create rule is the first option. I’m going to press Enter to create a rule.
Automated Voice: Leaving menus. Create rule. Receive notification contains. Contains edit. Contains text.
Jonathan: The edit field is populated with the text of this notification. If I perform a say line, we should hear it.
Automated Voice: Loading complete.
Jonathan: That is fine because that’s what’s it always says when a page has loaded. There might be some situations where you might want to shorten that notification so that it applies to more things. For example, one thing I’m pretty sure you could do and we’ll check this out actually is if you change this from loading complete to just loading, my understanding is that if Microsoft Edge sends you a notification that says either loading page or loading complete, then if you just set the text to loading, it should cover both.
One thing that you can’t do at the moment is configure regular expressions using the star and question mark characters. I’m led to believe that that is actively under consideration. Watch the space for further developments on that, but let’s edit this.
Automated Voice: Loading complete.
Jonathan: I’m going to delete the word complete.
Automated Voice: Space. Deletes. Blank.
Jonathan: I’ll get rid of this space. Now, it just says and we’ll see if this gets rid of the loading page and loading complete message. I’ll press the Tab key.
Automated Voice: Limit notifications from Edge checkbox checked.
Jonathan: Yes, you probably want to do that. We want to make those applications specific. We’ll leave that checked.
Automated Voice: Speech or sound action. Speech action combo box, mute.
Jonathan: We’ll have a play with this in a moment. The default is to just mute what is being said entirely, but you do have other options and are up and down arrow to traverse those.
Automated Voice: Shorten.
Jonathan: You can shorten it. If I press the Tab key now–
Automated Voice: Mute your sound action. Shorten text. Shorten extended.
Jonathan: We’re trying to kill two birds with one stone here. I’m not sure what you would shorten it to, but if it was for example, load complete, you could perhaps just say loaded, which is slightly less verbose, but still gives you the information. I’ll Shift tab.
Automated Voice: Speak action combo box shorten.
Jonathan: Down arrow.
Automated Voice: Play sound.
Jonathan: You can play a sound. You can use the sounds that ship with JAWS or you can make your own sound. For the loading page notification, I can definitely see that this could give some user’s peace of mind that if you press Enter and Edge is loading a page, if you could just have a simple sound that told you that the page is loading, that might be useful info you can use. It’s certainly better than having to put up with loading page every time you like load a page. Sorry, I’m sounding like my kids now.
Automated Voice: Speak to full message.
Jonathan: You can speak the full message because you may want to set up a rule that only affects Braille and not speech. That’s why this option is there. Now, if I go back up to the top of this list–
Automated Voice: Mute.
Jonathan: We’ve got mute. Those are all the features. Mute is the first option in this list. That’s what I want to do in this case. I’ll press Tab.
Automated Voice: Braille action. Braille action combo box. Show flash message.
Jonathan: The default is to show a flash message in Braille. For those not familiar, the flash messages are those that pop up for a period that you’ve determined in your JAWS settings. I think by default, it may be five seconds or so, and then the message disappears but there are other options as well.
Automated Voice: Show shorten flash message.
Jonathan: You can customize your own flash message if you want. For example, to save Braille real estate, you may just have LP for loading page. If I go to the top of the screen–
Automated Voice: Show nothing.
Jonathan: Show nothing is at the top. I’m not sure what the rationale is behind having mute as the default speech option, but show flash message as the default Braille option but it’s no hassle to change it really.
Automated Voice: Show flash message.
Jonathan: I want to show nothing in Braille.
Automated Voice: Show nothing.
Jonathan: I’ve selected that and I’ll press Tab.
Automated Voice: Don’t show in history checkbox, not checked.
Jonathan: There we have don’t show in history, which we’ve talked about previously.
Automated Voice: Okay button.
Jonathan: That’s all there is. I’ll press the Okay button by pressing Enter.
Automated Voice: Notification history. Recent notifications list box. Slowed in complete at [10:33] AM. 1-165.
Jonathan: Now if I press the Tab key, there is more in this dialogue.
Automated Voice: Enable rules checkbox checked. Create rule dot dot button. Manage rules dot dot button.
Jonathan: We can manage rules. If I decide that this isn’t working out for me, I can delete these rules at any time. As I’ve said, you can disable them altogether if you need to do a bit of troubleshooting. I’ll press the space bar.
Automated Voice: Manage notification rules. Rules list box. Mute show nothing. 1 of 1.
Jonathan: If I press Delete here, I can delete the rule but I can also invoke the context menu with the application key or shift F10.
Automated Voice: Window manage notification rules. Context menu. Modify dot dot. 1 of 2. Delete 2 of 2.
Jonathan: I’ll exit this menu by tapping Alt.
Automated Voice: Leaving menu notification.
Jonathan: I’ll press Tab.
Automated Voice: Modify dot dot button.
Jonathan: There’s a modified button there as well, which will modify the rule that has focus.
Automated Voice: Delete button
Jonathan: A Delete button.
Automated Voice: Close button.
Jonathan: Finally close. It’s very similar to the managers that you see in JAWS.
Automated Voice: Notification history. Manage rules dot dot.
Jonathan: Has it worked well? I’m going to leave this window open. I find that that’s actually quite handy because when notifications come in, if I miss what was said, I can just Alt-Tab into the window and review my notification history. It’s quite nice to just have it there and you may find that you get into that habit, too. I’ll press Alt-Tab to get back into Edge.
Automated Voice: Mosen At Large, the personal home of Jonathan Mosen MNZM on the web.
Jonathan: Now, I’m going to go to the Mushroom FM website.
Automated Voice: Address in search bar edit.
Jonathan: I’ll type mushroomfm.com. Now, I’m going to press Enter. Let’s see what happens.
Automated Voice: 12 headings and 68 links. Mushroom FM, the Home of the Fun Guys, with Four Decades of Magic Mushroom Memories.
Jonathan: That is so much better, isn’t it? No more loading page, no more loading complete. Some sanity has been restored, and believe me, I could do with that. What if you decide though, that this is just too quiet after having become used to the way that Edge is sending all this verbiage. Let’s go back in and have another play and see what we might do. If you’ve closed the notification history window, you can invoke it again, using the methods we’ve talked about. Most commonly, I think the JAWS keyboard Spacebar followed by the letter N but, as I say, I’ve gotten used to keeping it open. I’m going to Alt-Tab.
Automated Voice: Notification history.
Jonathan: There it is.
Automated Voice: Notification history. Manage Rules dot dot button.
Jonathan: Shift tab.
Automated Voice: Create rule dot dot. Enable rules. Check recent notifications list box. Loading complete at [10:33] AM. 3 of 156.
Jonathan: There have been some other notifications, of course, because we’ve been on Edge. If I Up Arrow, is it’s not very good being on the Edge, is it? If I Up Arrow–
Automated Voice: Loading page at [10:50] AM. 2 of 156.
Jonathan: Up Arrow again.
Automated Voice: Loading complete at [10:50] AM.
Jonathan: You see the loading complete and loading page is still in the notification history. We may want to do something about that because it does clutter it up but we didn’t hear it spoken. You may be asking a very fair question, which is, but if I stopped this notification from popping up in the history, doesn’t that mean that I can’t modify it anymore? Well, remember that you can disable all the rules so that everything shows up again.
When you activate the option that says Don’t Show in History, all that’s doing is actually creating a rule, so if you want to be really efficient about it, you can modify the existing rule so I’ll press Tab.
Automated Voice: Enable rules checkbox checked. Create rule dot dot. Manage Rules dot dot button.
Jonathan: We’re going to manage rules.
Automated Voice: Manage notification rules. Rules list box. Loading Edge. Show nothing. 1 of 1.
Jonathan: Now, I’ll press Tab.
Automated Voice: Modify dot dot button.
Jonathan: There’s the Modify button which is one way to get there.
Automated Voice: Manage notification rules. Modify rule. Receive notification contains. Contains edit. Contains text.
Automated Voice: Limit the notifications from Edge checkbox checked. Speech or sound action. Speech action combo box. Mute. Braille action. Braille action combo box. Show nothing. Don’t show in history checkbox not checked.
Jonathan: We can add to this rule that we don’t want it to be seen in history. I’ll press the Spacebar to check the checkbox.
Automated Voice: Checked.
Jonathan: Now I’ll tab.
Automated Voice: Okay button.
Jonathan: Will activate Okay.
Automated Voice: Notification history.
Jonathan: Now if I go into Edge again–
Automated Voice: Mushroom FM, the Home of the Fun Guys, with Four Decades–
Jonathan: Let’s just Tab around this.
Automated Voice: Mushroom FM. Home link traffic. Mushroom FM link. Home link. Ways to Listen link. Tune in any time on any device.
Jonathan: I’ll press Enter.
Automated Voice: Mushroom FM, the Home of the Fun Guys, with Four Decades of Magic Mushroom Memories. Mushroom FM link Ways to Listen.
Jonathan: All right. Now that page has loaded. I’ll go back into the notification history.
Automated Voice: Notification history. Manage notification rules. Modify dot dot dot button.
Jonathan: I’ll Tab.
Automated Voice: Delete button. Close button.
Jonathan: I’ll activate the Close button.
Automated Voice: Notification history. Manage rules dot dot dot button.
Automated Voice: Close button. Recent notification.
Jonathan: If I go to the top of the screen–
Automated Voice: Loading complete at [10:50] AM.
Jonathan: The last loading complete was not the one we just found. Loading complete and loading page and are not being shown in the notification history. The rule is now doing three things. Whenever it finds Microsoft Edge sending a notification with loading in it, the first thing it’s doing is not speaking, it’s muting it. The second thing it’s doing is not Brailling it in. The third thing it’s doing is not putting it in this history of notifications so I have less clutter when I go in here and I want to have a look at the notifications that really matter. Genius.
But let’s say that you would like to have some sort of indication that something is going on. Now, let’s modify the rule accordingly so I’ll press the Tab key.
Automated Voice: Enable rule checkbox checked. Create rules dot dot dot button. Manage rules dot dot dot button.
Jonathan: We’ll manage rules.
Automated Voice: Manage notification rules. Rules list box. Loading Edge mute. Show nothing. 1 of 1.
Jonathan: JAWS is describing the rule and I think that’s a pretty good description of what it’s doing but I’d like to be able to name them myself. One reason for this is that we are in a list view right now, so if you could name them, you could put them in a logical order that makes sense to you. That’s a minor thing and maybe that will come later.
Automated Voice: Modify dot dot dot button.
Jonathan: Now I’m going to modify this rule, so I press the Spacebar.
Automated Voice: Manage notification rules. Modify rule. Receive notification contains. Contains edit. Contains text.
Jonathan: Now, I’ll press Tab.
Automated Voice: Limit the notifications from Edge checkbox checked. Speech or sound action. Speech action combo box. Mute.
Jonathan: This is what I want to change, so I will Down Arrow.
Automated Voice: Shorten. Play sound.
Jonathan: We’ll go to play sound. Now, I’ll press Tab.
Automated Voice: Speech or sound action. Past the sound file. Past the sound file. Edit.
Jonathan: Because I’ve now chosen play sound, the dialog has expanded with options specific to that function and you can have all sorts of fun creating your own personalized sound files for this if you want.
Automated Voice: Select sound dot dot dot button.
Jonathan: Or you can select from the list of sounds that JAWS offers. I’ll press the Spacebar.
Automated Voice: Modify rule. Open dialog. File name. Edit combo.
Automated Voice: Explorer pane. Folder layout pane. Show folder view. Items in the list box. Header. Name split button.
Jonathan: Shift-Tab again.
Automated Voice: [unintelligible [01:26:05]
Jonathan: Here are the files that you will probably be familiar with if you’ve played with JAWS files before.
Automated Voice: [unintelligible [01:26:11] 1 of 209.
Jonathan: There are 209 files here.
Automated Voice: [unintelligible [01:26:16] 89 of 209.
Jonathan: Actually, I think a leaf rustle might be quite appropriate because it’s a fairly unintrusive sound, but it just tells you that something’s happening if you prefer to know that. I’ll press Enter.
Automated Voice: Manage notification rules. Modify rules. Speech or sound action. Path to sound file. Select sound dot dot dot button.
Jonathan: I’ll press Tab.
Automated Voice: Play sound button.
Jonathan: Let’s have a listen to that sound, we can hear what it will sound like. There’s the leaf rustle.
Automated Voice: Braille action. Braille action combo box. Show nothing.
Jonathan: We don’t want to change that.
Automated Voice: Don’t show in history checkbox checked. Okay button.
Jonathan: We’ll activate the Okay button.
Automated Voice: Notification history. Manage notification rules. Modify dot dot dot button.
Jonathan: That rule has now been changed. When I go back to Microsoft Edge–
Automated Voice: Ways the listen Mushroom–
Jonathan: I’ll press Tab.
Automated Voice: Home link traffic. Mushroom FM link. List. Way to Listen. Mushroom Escape, our Old-Time Radio Channel link. Mushroom FM Schedule link. The show schedule in your time zone.
Jonathan: I’ll press Enter.
Automated Voice: Ways to Listen Mushroom FM. Visited link Mushroom FM Schedule. 10 headings and 100–
Jonathan: We heard the leaf rustle twice first when the page was loaded and then when the loading was complete. If you want to, you could set up two separate rules, one that reacted to the loading page message with one sound and another that reacted to the loading complete with another sound or you could simply be silent on one and add some sort of sound to the other. There are many possibilities with this and they will only expand if regular expressions are added which for people who know how to use them.
I expect that if they are added Freedom Scientific would add a tutorial as well. That’s going to be really amazing but even this represents significant progress and is very welcome, even just for Microsoft Edge alone but you can see that there are all sorts of possibilities with many applications for this. If I press Alt-Tab to get back into the history–
Automated Voice: Notification history. Notification history. Manage notification rules. Modify dot dot dot button.
Jonathan: Let’s take a look at some items that might benefit from customization. There’s one more from Edge that I’d like to change.
Automated Voice: Opening new window at [10:32] AM. 6 of 156.
Jonathan: Opening new window, I don’t really want to hear that but I may want some sort of sound that indicates that that has happened or maybe even just new window would be better than opening new window. Sorry to pick on Edge, but it really has got bad, I’m sorry, but it has. Here’s another one from there.
Automated Voice: Download completed. Press Ctrl+J to go to Downloads at [8:34] AM.
Jonathan: That one could easily be improved simply by saying download done and getting rid of all the other verbiage or some chime that tells you that the download is completed would be perfect for a situation like that. You don’t need to be reminded every time to press Ctrl+J to go to the list of downloads. When you get a notification from Outlook, you might want to change it to simply say mail, which is a bit more efficient. Here’s another one.
Automated Voice: Dropbox copied link on malp0183 dot dot LP dot PDF.
Jonathan: This one said Dropbox copied link. I caused this to happen when I was generating the transcript for Mosen At Large episode 183. I found the file, I went to the applications menu and I press the letter L to create a link on Dropbox. I’d be quite happy to hear some definitive confirmation sound or maybe the verbiage saying, link copied. That would be enough for me to know that what I wanted to happen has happened. The productivity geek in me rejoices at this feature in JAWS 2022. I look forward to seeing what Freedom Scientific adds in JAWS 2023 in this regard, but it does help to tame the beast of notifications both in terms of what you see in this history and how they are spoken or Brailled to you. Do check it out in the June release of JAWS 2022, which is expected imminently.
Voiceover: Be the first to know what’s coming in the next episode of Mosen At Large. Opt-in to the Mosen media list and receive a brief email on what’s coming so you can get your contribution in ahead of the show. You can stop receiving emails anytime. To join, send a blank email to email@example.com. That’s media-subscribe@M-O-S-E-N.org. Stay in the know with Mosen At Large.
Jonathan: It’s Andrew Walker emailing in, although he should be called Andrew Runner for this email, he says, “Hello, Jonathan, I am involved in Parkrun as a guided runner and a volunteer at my local event in the UK. It is, in my opinion, the most inclusive event I have experienced. I have attended over 100 runs and I’m the only blind runner at my home Parkrun event. When I started, initially, I had some novelty value, but now, I’m just another runner which is exactly how I like it. I am 64 years old and not frighteningly quick, but then it’s not a race.
Nonetheless, I usually finish in the top 100 of a field of between 300 to 400. In my age category, I come home in the top third. There is nothing more effective in breaking down the disability barriers than running faster than people half your age. This week, Parkrun UK are launching a magazine. It is said to be a pilot with a print run of 100,000 copies. If the pilot is successful, it may roll out to the 24 or so countries involved in Parkrun. Below is a link where the CEO of Parkrun UK is subjected to a quite detailed interview. I’ll include the link in the show notes.
During the interview which lasts over an hour, the CEO states that there will be no digital copy and specifically no PDF version. It is stated that the magazine will be in physical form only. I downloaded the MP3 version of the interview. At three minutes, the CEO is asked specifically if versions for visually impaired people will be available. The answer to my astonishment was no. He went on to say that discussions may have taken place about this, but that the pilot was print only. I’m not sure that I’m quoting accurately so it’s worth listening to that part at least.
My question is this, should accessible versions be available in pilots of this type? Although in this case, the interviewer seems to think that ultimately accessible versions would be available, I am not convinced that the CEO agreed especially since he had stated that no digital copy would be available previously. Tomorrow, 200 copies of the magazine will be distributed at my local Parkrun. I have indicated not to attend since in the inevitable coffee session afterwards, the discussion will be about the magazine to which I have no access.
Already, my Parkrun friends are busy speculating about what will be in the magazine, who the target readers will be, and of course, why there will be no version they can read on their phones. My personal thoughts on this are that if accessible versions are not tried as part of the pilot, we may end up with whatever we are served up if anything at all. I have a belief that accessibility should be considered at the start of project and not an afterthought.
I am particularly concerned about this since parts of the Parkrun UK website are not accessible, which I have brought to their attention a number of times, but there have been no improvements. I managed with some difficulty to submit a ticket to support, which went to another country initially as the country picker is not accessible on the contacts page. I was told that this was sent on to the UK team, but I’ve had no reply, not even an acknowledgment in over a week. I have turned into Mr. Grumpy about this. I suspect that it is because, at a local level, I’ve had nothing but support and welcoming.
Although I say it myself, have some worth in that community. I will be back to Parkrun next week, and by that time, perhaps the magazines of doom will be consigned to the recycling boxes of eternity. Finally, I cannot write a dispatch to you without mentioning the word Braille, with a capital B. What a fine catchphrase this is turning out to be,” writes Andrew. I completely agree with you, Andrew. If they are piloting a magazine, it should be completely piloted and that includes any accessibility considerations. You go for it.
I’ve not heard of this organization Parkrun before and I don’t know how many blind people around the world are involved, but it would be nice to think that people got together and said, “It’s just not acceptable. If you’re going to publish a magazine, if you’re going to do a pilot, you build accessibility into that pilot like you build every other consideration into the pilot.” Fight the good fight and do let us know how you get on. Hello to Iain Lackey who says he has a couple of points from the podcast of the 4th of June.
“I have found that the best way of entering passwords with a Braille with an uppercase B display is to set Braille input to 8-dot or computer Braille. I suspect this works as each character is represented by one Braille character. Like you, we have set up Sonos Voice Control on our compatible devices. We have found that you can maintain the Soup Drinker but not Google. Like you, we have found SVC to be a bit hit and miss.” Thanks, Ian, really interesting to know that it seems like there’s a problem with maintaining SVC, Sonos Voice Control, and Google Assistant at the same time.
Guillermo is writing in and says, “Hi, Jonathan, I hope this email finds you well. I want to commend you on the job well done with Mosen At Large. Keep up the good work.” Thank you so much. “Secondly, I blame you for the most awesome investment we’ve made in the Sonos system. After hearing you talk about the system for years now, we finally decided to go for it. We now own a Five, 2x One, a Port for our analog system, and the Roam. I am very pleased with the accessibility of both the Windows PC and iOS versions of the controller app.
However, it seems that the macOS version is not so accessible. Curious to know how you and those listening have managed the controller on the Mac. Any help is most appreciated. I’ll be honest and say that the product is superb, but their tech support has been extremely frustrating in that there seems to be not only a language barrier with most of the agents but a lack of attentiveness and comprehension as well. Looking forward to hearing from other Mac users navigating with the voiceover while using the controller. Keep the content coming.”
Well, thank you, and keep the contributions coming. Great to hear from you. I’m glad you’re enjoying your Sonos experience. It is pretty epic, isn’t it? Certainly, the Mac experience when I last used it, was indeed a bit woeful. We do have an M1 lurking about, but I haven’t used the Sonos controller on it since we got the M1 so I can’t comment on it, but it’s sad to hear that it looks like there’ve been no accessibility improvements in that regard. It’s also sad to hear that Sonos tech support is letting you down.
A few years ago, I had an issue with our increasing number of Sonos devices talking to our router of the time. We’ve resolved a lot of those issues now that we’ve gone Unifi and it’s pretty robust, but at the time, we had an excellent experience to the extent that they sent us a router to play with and to try and troubleshoot. They really went above and beyond but since then, there have been quite a few cost-cutting endeavors undertaken at Sonos. I have also seen similar feedback to yours that the quality of the tech support is not what it was.
Seems like a recurring theme around the place at the moment. If we have Sonos users who use the Mac controller, how are you getting on with it? Have you had any dialogue with Sonos about it? How receptive have they been?
Stan Warren Latrell: Greetings Mosen At Large listeners. This is Stan Warren Latrell and I would like to tell you about a new device that I purchased recently. It’s purchased through Amazon as one of their daily deals, one of their top daily deals. I purchased it for around $42. It’s produced by a company called Chefman. What the device is, is an electric kettle. The electric kettle heats water in a rapid fashion. The device comes in two parts. There is an element containing a heating element and then there is a stainless steel pot. Now, this pot goes on top of the element and the neat thing is it lets you know when you’ve affixed the pot to the element, of course, you have to have the unit plugged in to do this, and after you’ve filled it and there is a water fill line, but I don’t know how would a blind person will tell where it is. You may just want to put some water and just enough to maybe for a cup of tea or something like that.
Anyway, you plug the unit in, and then you place the water in the pot and then, once the unit sees that you’ve placed on the element correctly, then the unit will beep. It lets you know that you’re doing things correctly. Not only that, but when the unit is through boiling water, it will beep to let you know that a unit is about to be finished heating. Of course, you might want to use this for boiling water, for doing things like oatmeal, or whether you’re doing instant or even other kinds of things like that. You might want to have those device.
The unit retails for around $42. That was what I purchased it for. It is made by a company called Chefman. I think you will like this. I’ve used it. In fact, there’s a little insert that they give you that if you read the insight, it tells you that you could place loose tea in the unit and allow it to steep. After you’re using the boiling water, you’ve steeped the tea. I haven’t used loose tea ever, but normally, I’m one of these people that uses tea bags. I tend to like peppermint tea. That’s what I use.
I sometimes have been known to use my microwave for heating water for tea. I think this is quicker and this way, you know that you don’t have to guess how long the water is on the boil. You heat the water in this pot and I absolutely love it.
Voiceover: Jonathan Mosen. Mosen At Large podcast.
Jonathan: Here is Tim who says, “Hey, Jonathan, I heard that you were going to Stockholm, and was wondering if you were going to attend the Conscious Breathing Summit on September the 14th through the 16th with James Nestor. If so, you should give a description of your experience using the body stream. I am very curious as to how all that CO2 would affect the body.” Thanks, Tim. I think we are going to end up in Stockholm just as that conference ends. It is purely a coincidence that is happening at the same time. I won’t be attending that.
I’m a big fan of James Nestor’s book about breathing, which I’ve talked about a few times. It does sound like a cool thing to be going to. One thing I will give you a commitment about. If all is going well, I do intend to breathe while I am in Stockholm.
Jonathan: That truly moving music tells us that we are continuing to plan our big trip. Here is the Bonnie Bulletin with Bonnie Mosen.
Bonnie Mosen: Hi, guys.
Jonathan: How are you?
Jonathan: Oh, we are back to hi guys again after a hiatus.
Jonathan: Hi, guys. Hiatus.
Bonnie: Say hi, hi.
Jonathan: Now the first thing that we have to talk about because this is the first time that you’ve been on since we can talk about you being grandma Bon-Bon.
Bonnie: Probably just Bon-Bon or Judy.
Jonathan: Granny Bon-Bon.
Bonnie: Yes, not granny, no granny.
Jonathan: How are you feeling about it, mate?
Jonathan: It seemed to take you a while to get to grips with the whole thing.
Bonnie: Yes, yes. Just not ready to be a grandmother.
Jonathan: Oh, man. I’m so ready to be a grandmother. I cannot wait to be a grandmother. Would you like a granddaughter or a grandson?
Bonnie: I don’t care.
Jonathan: I don’t really mind either.
Bonnie: It’ll either be one or the other or both.
Jonathan: Yes, or both or more, or maybe, it’ll be wrong to put labels on it, at this early stage in its life or something.
Bonnie: [chuckles] Yes, something like that.
Jonathan: Yes, so that’s exciting.
Bonnie: I always wonder how people deal with having like eight kids at once or–
Jonathan: Well, even twins because I remember when we went from one to two babies, that’s a big leap, they were two years apart. The number two comes along.
Bonnie: We can have both together with the same age.
Jonathan: Yes, that’s very exciting, very exciting.
Bonnie: That’ll be coming up before you know it. It’ll be here before you know it and you’ve already started recording stories.
Jonathan: I have been down in the studio, making these great productions.
Bonnie: How many have you done so far?
Jonathan: A good number now. Yes. Granddad’s bedtime stories.
Jonathan: Yes, that’d be nice. The good thing is that now that the grandchildren factory has started. Once I’ve done them, they’re available to all future grandchildren that may or may not happen.
Bonnie: Yes, but will they be angry because their stories aren’t different?
Jonathan: They won’t, no. They’re just going to be tiny little bananas when they hear these stories. Yes, it’s going to be marvelous. Marvelous. Now, we had a list of things that you were going to comment on from recent episodes of the podcast. What was the first one you were going to talk to?
Bonnie: Some at Eloquence.
Bonnie: Yes, it’s very exciting that that’s coming to the phone.
Jonathan: I’ve been using it.
Bonnie: I know. [crosstalk]
Jonathan: You find it very discombobulating.
Bonnie: I think it’s JAWS talking, which it is, well eloquence, but you associated–
Jonathan: No, it’s not JAWS. People get JAWS mixed up with the speech synthesizer. Sometimes people say, “Oh, JAWS is talking when they mean Eloquence.”
Bonnie: [laughs] JAWS is talking. Yes, people do tend to call things.
Jonathan: Will you switch to it when it comes?
Bonnie: I don’t know. I have to think about it. I may stick with Samantha because we’ve been friends a very long time.
Jonathan: She sounds like someone you don’t want to be friends with. She sounds so grumpy.
Bonnie: Yes, that’s me. [chuckles]
Jonathan: This really does sound grumpy. Yes. Well, I guess you’ll give it a go. I think a lot of people are like that.
Bonnie: I think so.
Jonathan: They just kind of get–
Bonnie: As long as they don’t download it now because weren’t letting a lot of people trying to download the beta and stuff. That’s not a good idea.
Jonathan: Shall I put that on your phone?
Bonnie: No, thank you.
Jonathan: You’re welcome. We are planning our trip. We’ve had some interesting emails about the trip and hints and tips and stuff.
Bonnie: What have people been telling you?
Jonathan: Well, you should listen to the podcast and you’ll find out. You’ll find out.
Bonnie: Well, I told you where we probably weren’t going to be staying in London.
Jonathan: Yes, I don’t think we need to go over the top.
Bonnie: No, that’s a bit way. That’s not over the top. That’s so far over the top.
Jonathan: Tell our little friend what we’re talking about here.
Bonnie: I was reading an article today in one of the British papers about this Savoy which is a very historic hotel in London, of course, very chic and expensive. It’s been closed since COVID and they’re going to be doing ITV series on different hotels and things. The Savoy is starting tonight and they were showing the inside of the Royal Suite, which is $16,000 per night.
Jonathan: That is ridiculous. No way we can even get close to affording that.
Bonnie: Well, yes, I don’t even know what you would– It was very luxurious, obviously. It was decorated by Gucci and you had three staff members but what I didn’t get to understand is, even if you’re staying in this incredible suite, does that mean the stuff that’s there, do you have to pay for things like room service or is it free? Is it included?
Jonathan: I would think that pretty much everything you could possibly want is included in that price.
Bonnie: One would think, but you never know. I mean it may just be $16,000 a night for sleeping there.
Jonathan: I really like going on cruises for that reason because you pay a one off thing and then you get on the boat and you don’t really pay anything more because all your food and your drink and the whole thing is just on the house. It’s a really cool way to be. I think in a way, it’s quite a user friendly way for a blind person to travel because everything’s on tap and that kind of stuff.
Bonnie: Yes, except when you want to get off and see the sites. I couldn’t just get on a boat and stay there.
Jonathan: We have been talking on the show about our drainage issues with Mosen Towers, and a few weeks ago, we parted somewhat grumblingly with a voluminous amount of money.
Bonnie: It was not quite as much as a one-night stay in there [crosstalk] but certainly more worse–
Jonathan: It almost was actually, it almost was the same. Exactly the same as one night in that thing.
Bonnie: In the Royal Suite of Savoy but we got more– [chuckles]
Jonathan: I think we get a lot more value from it because we have had absolutely floods of biblical proportions.
Bonnie: I’ve never seen it rain like that for that extended period of time with thunderstorms, tornadoes, which are extremely unusual down here. A few tornadoes went through the Kapiti Coast and did some damage, but just a lot of rain, thunder, and lightning. A friend of mine was saying that the lightning strikes were just incredible out over the Harbor.
Jonathan: It’s good. You can’t beat a bit of rolling thunder.
Bonnie: No, because we rarely get it here. It’s it was like, this was a Southern-style thunderstorm complete with power surges.
Jonathan: Yes, a bit Mushroom FM off the air for a very short period, just with little surges. The good thing is that had we not got that work done? We would’ve probably have been knee-deep in the water because it was that bad.
Bonnie: I think I would’ve fled and just check in the first plane to the Sahara Desert and just like I’m not coming back.
Jonathan: The groovy thing is that we were completely untouched by the flooding.
Bonnie: Yes, completely untouched.
Jonathan: The drainage people have proven their worth.
Bonnie: Yes, they did a good job. They really did a good job.
Jonathan: Yes, well done, drainage people. Just goes to show so that’s an investment, isn’t it?
Bonnie: Yes, it’s an investment.
Jonathan: One thing that might elicit a little bit of comment from our listeners is recently, we got a new cleaning agency in. This is always a challenging time in a way because we have had the kids doing the cleaning because it’s a mutually beneficial thing. They needed the money, and we could have someone that we trusted around because when we had an agency back about four or five years ago, it did not go well.
Jonathan: We had this agency, and I will name it because it was so bad, it was called Select Clean, which was probably the most–
Bonnie: Which basically means they select what they clean.
Jonathan: Yes, the most oxymoronic name, not just oxymoronic, but moronic in the end. They came and– We had some language barriers, but it’s all right, we can live with that. What we couldn’t live with was they would frequently at the very last minute decide they weren’t coming and trying to reschedule half an hour before they were due to be here. We had that repeatedly. Things happen from time to time. The final straw because we weren’t particularly happy with the quality of what we were getting.
Bonnie: Well, our house is big.
Jonathan: Yes, it is.
Bonnie: It’s five bedrooms and it took them an hour. It does not take an hour to clean this house.
Jonathan: Yes, and it was just one person.
Jonathan: We were skeptical, but the next morning after the cleaner had been one particular time, I went in the bathroom, and I was looking for our scale, which was a Withings Smart Bonnie Analyzer, [laughs] a Smart Body Analyzer scale. The idea of this, for those of you who haven’t seen one, it’s all connected to Wi-Fi so you don’t even need to have your phone in Bluetooth range or anything like that. You just step on the scale in the morning, and it weighs you, and it sends everything to the health app. It’s all just peachy.
It just works. Nothing to worry about. It does body fat percentage and a whole bunch of other things. I went to step on the scale as I do every morning, and I couldn’t find the scale. Where has the cleaner moved the scale to? I was looking around on the floor, feeling round, and then under the basin, which was way away from where it normally is, I found this weird thing under there. I can’t even describe it.
Bonnie: A mass of-
Jonathan: Yes, a mass. Yes, it was-
Bonnie: -crackly things crackly things.
Jonathan: -a non-descript mess. I found that what they had done is they had taken our really expensive smart scale and thrown it. You could only have done this if you had thrown it. They probably threw it from where it normally sat all the way under the basin. It was just sitting there shattered to smithereens.
Bonnie: I don’t even know if he threw it or if– He would’ve had to hit it with some– It was completely– I’ve never seen anything shattered that much in my life.
Jonathan: I cut my fingers on the glass, investigating what this thing was. I realized, “Oh my God, it’s the scale or it was the scale.” We took a picture and we sent it to the cleaning agency. We made them buy us a new scale and that kind of thing. Obviously, we never used them again.
Bonnie: No, I wouldn’t recommend them at all. They were awful.
Jonathan: Oh, no, we would not.
Bonnie: They were horrible.
Jonathan: Stay away from Select Clean.
Bonnie: Select Cleaning out of Wellington, New Zealand.
Bonnie: It’s hard to get cleaners to actually clean. I’ve been extremely spoiled. When I lived in New Jersey, I had a fabulous cleaner named Rosie. She cleaned. I mean she cleaned. You came home–
Jonathan: As one does.
Bonnie: She went beyond it. She cleaned the closet one day. When I moved into my new apartment, I came home and she’d unpacked everything. I’m like, “Rosie, you didn’t have to do that.” The funniest thing about Rosie was one day, she called me, and she goes, “I’m going to have to take some time off because I’m pregnant. When I have the baby–” I was like, “That’s fine. I don’t have a problem with that. When’s the baby due?” “Oh, next week.” She had worked all the way up to nine months with the baby. She was from Honduras.
She was fantastic. Now, Rosie had made enough money that she can hire other people to clean, and she just manages them.
Jonathan: Yes, entrepreneur.
Bonnie: She’s an entrepreneur. I had two ladies in Boston who were really good. When the bar is set very high because a lot of times with these cleaning companies, and this is not just a blind thing, you hear it from sighted people all the time, they’re not good. They do as little as possible.
Jonathan: They can take advantage of you as a blind person because they think you’re not going to notice it.
Bonnie: Which I’m pretty sure that’s what the Select Cleaning did.
Jonathan: Yes, no soup, no soup.
Bonnie: “What do you mean clean the sink or the shower?” I’m like, “Okay.”
Jonathan: Yes, just ridiculous. Recently, we’ve had Heidi doing the cleaning because she’s been happy to earn the money, and we, obviously, trust Heidi. She’s brilliant. It gives me a chance to catch up and geek out and all those good things. Heidi is working, and she just doesn’t have time now. She doesn’t need the money. We thought, “All right, it is time to go back on the market,” with much nervousness. In doing the research, I found this really good site, and for those people who are in New Zealand, this may be useful if you don’t know about it, it’s called Goodnest Gracious me.
[chuckles] Go on, Goodnest. It’s essentially a gig economy-type job. You write the job description, and you put it out there. Then, you take bids. The really good thing about this is– One of the things that was a very good barometer for me was the quality of the communication. Some people when I put this job and we did actually say, “You have to like dogs because we’ve got a service animal. If you don’t like dogs-
Bonnie: Go away.
Jonathan: -don’t apply.” We got that done. Some of the comms that we got back were like, “Please call me.” “When can I come over?” That was basically it.
Bonnie: Like, “No, we’re not going to do that. It’s unprofessional.”
Jonathan: The one we chose was somebody who said, “Hello, I run a company called whatever, and we can do this for– This is our rate. This is how we will do it. This is exactly when we would do it. We’d sent these many people over.” It was a really clear description of the service they were offering. It was spell-checked. It was articulate. I thought, “Okay, this is somebody that we can deal with.” So far, it’s working out really well.
Bonnie: Yes, they’re bringing three tomorrow.
Jonathan: Yes, three cleaners. [laughs] It is a big house.
Bonnie: It is a big house. Getting a house up to– A lot of times, you have to do, which I think is what they’re doing, you have to do a really, really deep clean, and then you maintain it.
Jonathan: That’s right, yes. We’re very pleased so far.
Jonathan: If anybody is listening in New Zealand who wants to use a service like that and you can use it for lawn-mowing and gardening.
Bonnie: Yes, we probably need to do that for gardening.
Jonathan: Yes, we do because our lawnmower man is gone after 13 years or something.
Bonnie: Many, many years. Yes, we got to find a new gardener.
Jonathan: Yes. We’ll use the–
Bonnie: Then, we’ll work on getting the chef.
Jonathan: All right, then.
Bonnie: No. [laughs] No, I’m kidding, and the butler. [chuckles]
Jonathan: I will leave you to your delusions of grandeur. I thank you for being on the Bonnie Bulletin once again.
Bonnie: Thank you.
Jonathan: Thank you for the music.
Bonnie: Thank you.
Voiceover: I love to hear from you. If you have any comments you want to contribute to the show, drop me an email written down or with an audio attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d rather call in, use the listener line number in the United States, 864-606-6736.
Voiceover: Mosen At Large podcast.
[01:58:32] [END OF AUDIO]