Jonathan: I’m Jonathan Mosen and this is Mosen at large, the show that has got the blind community talking. On the show today, with some of us trying the Brave browser, when is it morally wrong to continue to use a product? JAWS fixes download notifications in Microsoft Edge and there’s more comparisons of JAWS and voiceover.
Jonathan: We’ve been talking on the show about the Brave browser and how I was inspired to give this another look because with the new release of Microsoft Edge, JAWS is no longer speaking download status notifications. I thought in the interim, rather than go back to Chrome, which I have some misgivings about, I would try brave and I’m actually finding it quite a good experience. Others have some workarounds and alternatives to keep using Edge until this is sorted out. We’ll get to those in a moment, but we do have official comment from Vispero, which I’m very happy to share with you and appreciate them being in touch.
They assure us that the issue is going to be addressed in the May update of JAWS, and they anticipate this being released within the next week or so. They’ve also given me some technical detail and I always appreciate that because sometimes you hear from companies and they say, “We’ve fixed this,” and obviously we’re glad to hear that, but some of the geeks among us think, “Well, what was the problem?” Vispero has told us what the problem is and I will share that with you.
Chromium browsers in JAWS have been getting notifications through iAccessible two, and with the most recent release of Microsoft edge, Microsoft has switched notifications to use UI automation, which seems to be Microsoft’s preferred technology. Vispero has switched to looking for UI automation notifications in Microsoft edge and that means two things. One, when you get this new version of JAWS in the next week or so, you will find download status updates reported as they were before. I’m sure that people will be celebrating that. The second thing though, is that Microsoft does present a bunch of other information to screen readers when UI automation is enabled including load events.
You will find that Microsoft edge says a bit more now. For example, you will be told when a page has finished loading. When you go back to a previous page, you will get that notification as well. Whether you think this is a good thing or not will of course depend on whether you think this is useful information. I did ask Vispero about this and they have said that they realized that some people may not appreciate the extra verbiage that the switch to UI automation has presented, and that they are working on giving users the ability to customize what they hear in this regard.
I think for those people who have been put out by the lack of notifications for downloads, it’s probably a sacrifice they are prepared to make at least in the short term. Thank you to Vispero twofold first for getting it fixed so quickly and also for letting us know in such detail. Lindy starts us off on this subject and she says, “After having heard the podcast where you mentioned this, I was reading from the JFW, JFW. IO on the 25th of April, 2021 and noted the thread, which I have copied with some editing to remove personal details below. Please note that I have not actually tried this and am not a power user, but thought it might be helpful.”
It says, “When I run Edge and I download a file, JAWS now does not repeat download status. In the past, this has been annoying at times because those alerts interrupt any other speech, but I am now unaware if/when a download finishes. I found that the alerts are still spoken with Chrome”. That’s the problem defined by the original poster and that’s exactly what I was saying last week.
It is really annoying and there is a reply that says, “For a long time, I have been using download sound, which is an add-on for Chrome. If you check, allow extensions from other stores under settings and more extensions, you can add download sound to Microsoft edge. This way, I always know when a download has completed. Also, download sound gives you a notification if the download failed or was successful. If you want to hear Edge alerts for downloads, once you have pressed enter on a download link, press control plus J to take you to the downloads section. After you have pressed control plus J you will, once again, hear your download alerts.”
Thanks for sending that along. Lindy in Perth. Now, Tim writes in and he’s brought back all sorts of fond memories for me. He says, “I will try the Brave browser. Also, I have a tip for you and other listeners. If you are a frequent downloader who wants to keep his downloads organized and needs advanced functions, consider internet download manager, www.internetdownloadmanager.com. It is almost completely accessible, packed with features and very reasonably priced. No spyware or other bad stuff I’m aware of. There’s a fully functional free trial www.internetdownloadmanager.com.”
He says, “Again, this is like a little radio ad.” Now, Tim, thank you for this because internet download manager is a fantastic tool. Especially if you have a lot of bandwidth to burn. We have a gigabit fiber connection here, and internet download manager is very smart in so many ways, and it can allow you to download different pats of the download at the same time. I tell you, it goes like a rocket. I can not remember why I stopped using it. There must have been a reason, but I now don’t recall what it was. I may well get internet download manager back because it completely beats the soup out of–
Oh, I do apologize for the strong language, but it really does beat the soup out of any built in download facility in any browser. Thank you. I will check it out again and see how it’s doing these days. I think there may have been one or two little accessibility quirks with it, but I know that it would do wondrous things on my fiber connection. I’ll take another look at that. I appreciate the reminder. Maybe I’ll do a demo of it sometime or if you are a seasoned internet download manager user already, by all means, if you have the wherewithal to record a demo, feel free.
It’s the man himself, John Wesley Smith. He says, “Thanks for mentioning my name in connection with the Brave browser. I still use it as my default browser. I was afraid I’d have to give it up though. When we got our new Dell computer at the end of March, it would crash nearly every time with the proverbial blue screen. Something was using a tremendous amount of resources and Brave was one of the suspects. However, thanks to my friend Brian in New Jersey, who is a much more proficient JAWS user than I am, the problem is now solved. I went into sounds and the computer and disabled enhanced effects. I also went into the JAWS settings and told it to use the Realtek driver rather than Windows default. As an extra precaution, I uninstalled the Dell program called waves max, which also enhances sound. We had turned that program off when we set up the computer, but getting rid of it made sense anyway. I haven’t had any problems with the computer for a month now. The sound from the speakers is flatter, but I’ll take that over frequent crashes any day.”
We’ll come back to Brace later in this message from John Moore, but first of all, he begins regarding air tags. After listening to your thoughts, I am considering double-sided tape and its potential to work with the tags. After really thinking about it and remembering how accessible using them is. I think that might be a solution for me. In your observations, do you think using double-sided tape might work or is there no place to put it on the air tag?” John, yes, they are quite small, but you could probably fit a bit of double-sided tape on either side of the air tag.
John continues, “Your talk about Brave was interesting. I have never liked Edge and have used Chrome exclusively for a long time. I use ad guard products on all my devices. They just launched a zero log-in VPN, which for now only works on mobile devices. Although a desktop version is coming unless you want browser extensions, which I never liked. I mainly use the VPN for those times when I want to bypass geo blocking as ad guard pro works great otherwise. However, it would be nice to have a solution where only one program is needed that can act as both VPN and ad blocker. Do you know of any all-in-one solution that would work system-wide on iOS and Windows? I’m more than happy to continue using anti-ad, but I’d like to try something different. I tried Brave for a bit a while back and really didn’t care for it, but I’m willing to try again. Finally, regarding wheelchairs and airports, personally, I accept them when offered. As a hearing-impaired person who gets disoriented easily and who also is not in good shape, I don’t mind the use of a wheelchair. The airport here in Louisville is small enough however that sometimes the staff will actually insist that I walk with them. When that happens, I know my gate is close to the check-in area so I don’t mind. I’ve honestly walked more in that airport than used a wheelchair, but things are close enough that sometimes it just isn’t needed. I do use wheelchairs for the most part though. I understand why people have strong feelings about this, and that’s my take on it.
I also preboard flights because it gives me a chance to get my 68-inch cane, Rainshine cane situated. I can tell you some stories about airport staff forgetting that I was blind and frustrating the security officials. That was quite an experience, although I was never treated badly. I feel that there’s a lot of shaming in the blind community of people who don’t follow the crowd or do things a certain way, especially when it comes to the so-called organized blind, who I have zero tolerance for, but that’s another topic entirely.”
Thanks for your contribution, John. To answer your question about VPNs, yes, there are lots of system-wide VPNs available for iOS and for Windows. The one I’m using at the moment is called Surfshark. It’s reliable, fast, the price is not too bad, and it’s quite accessible on iOS. It’s a little bit more tricky to do on Windows, but with a little bit of persistence, it is doable. I like Surfshark, and it is system-wide.
You mentioned in your contribution that you’ve never liked Edge. I’m wondering how recently you used it, because if you used the old Edge, I would fully agree with you. It was a terrible browser, not a good accessibility experience at all, but the new Edge is Chromium-based and it is, in my view, a fantastic browser. If you’ve not checked out the new Chromium-based Edge, I would highly recommend giving it a spin.
Thank you for your email, Mike, and yes, I have an opinion on most things and I’m happy to share it. Until you sent in this email, I actually didn’t know that Brendan Eich was one of the co-founders of Brave. If you follow technology news, you’ll know that in 2014, Mozilla, the makers of Firefox, appointed Brendan Eich to be CEO of Firefox. He lasted just 11 days. He was kind of like the Anthony Scaramucci of technology when you think about it.
He lasted 11 days because there was wide-scale objections to Eich being the CEO of Mozilla, which touts itself as a progressive company, because in 2008, Brendan Eich donated $1,000 to support California’s gay marriage ban. He also donated $2,100 to Tom McClintock, who supported California’s Proposition 8 that was the gay marriage ban proposal. Eich’s appointment to the Mozilla CEO role resulted in half of the board resigning. Eich eventually apologized, said he would reach out to the LGBTQ community and resign for the good of Mozilla, severing all ties with the organization in the process. More recently, he has expressed anti-COVID vaccine views.
Now, you don’t have to have been listening to this show for very long to know that I strongly disagree with both of these views. French writer and philosopher, Voltaire, is widely credited with saying, “I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” I generally subscribe to that view, but Mike, your email really got me thinking. I sat here for a while wondering, “Am I being disloyal to my LGBTQ friends by using the Brave browser?” I don’t think I am.
I have friends who hold diametrically opposing views from mine on a range of issues. I think they are misguided about those areas where we disagree, but should I banish them from my life because they don’t believe all the same things that I do? Of course, it goes without saying that the world would be a perfect place if everybody thought exactly the same way as me, but it is what it is. We have to make do with what we have.
If I want to play a constructive part in helping all the people who live on this little ball of fun that I encounter to try and get along with one another, are we going to advance that greater understanding by ghosting everyone who doesn’t see things our way? I think it would be exhausting keeping score of all the individuals who hold views that I don’t like, and therefore whose products I shouldn’t use.
For example, I find some of Elon Musk’s behavior deplorable. The way he ripped into that heroic rescuer of some of the Thai teenagers who were trapped in that cave and he called one of the rescuers a terrible thing. I find his anti-vax comments repugnant, but Tesla is doing some cool stuff, as is SpaceX. I think the golden rule applies here as well.
I’m an atheist. I don’t ram it down people’s throats every week. I have talked about my atheism before when it’s come up, when it’s been relevant because I’m relaxed about it. I’m proud of it, but equally, if somebody makes a reference to their church or their religion in the context of a contribution that they are making to the show that isn’t a religious debate, I don’t ridicule or criticize them for their faith.
Every week, I spend actually the majority of what little leisure time I have putting this show together for the sole reason that I have information that I’m happy to share and I love that this show is a conduit for the sharing of information that others want to contribute. I try to maintain a forum where people can disagree without being disagreeable. Now, I am sure that I do fall short sometimes. I’m human like everybody else, and I get grumpy but I try.
It would sadden me immensely if someone said, “Don’t listen to Mosen at Large. Boycott Mosen at Large because Jonathan is an atheist so it would be un-Christian to listen.” After all, this isn’t a podcast about atheism or religion. What does it achieve if we boycott people we disagree with? If referenda are being held such as the one in 2008 in California, then clearly, people are entitled to support either side of the debate, no matter how much I disagree with one of those sides. They’re entitled to use their personal money to support whatever cause they like. That’s what living in a democracy means.
That said, I think there is a place for informed consumerism, but I believe that such informed consumerism needs to be about the company itself, particularly if you’re use of that company’s product or service contributes to their revenue stream. To give you some examples, I like to buy from companies that show concern for the environment or commitment to accessibility or that are run by disabled people or who’ve shown a commitment to disabled staff, who’ve taken a progressive stance on issues like gay marriage. Equally, I’ll choose not to give my money to companies that may be investing it in causes I object to strongly like promoting homophobia.
Now, I haven’t yet found any evidence that Brave, as a company, is doing any such thing. If that evidence exists, you can be sure that I would delete it in a heartbeat because I don’t want, in any way, to support a company that as a corporate entity espouses those views, but what someone does with their own hard-earned money, as long as they are participating lawfully in the democratic process, is their right. I really believe we need to cool it a bit as a society and except that good people may hold some views that we find repugnant and live and let live.
There may be other reasons to be a little skeptical about Brave such as their ad model, which appears to be taking out the usual banner ads and inserting their own, although you can disable this feature entirely. When JAWS fixes the download status issue with Edge, I’ll probably go back to Edge because I really do miss the immersive reader, but I will still continue to talk with and be friends with and use products made by companies who have CEOs who don’t see the world in totally the same way that I do. In this day and age, perhaps that’s a brave decision.
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Jonathan: On the subject of comparing JAWS and VoiceOver. Christopher Wright says, “I agree with you for the most part regarding the comparison between JAWS and VoiceOver on the Mac, both JAWS and NBDA offer a better experience than voiceover, which is particularly sad because Apple has the resources to make great things happen. They simply choose to focus most of them on iOS. This has been obvious to anyone who has been paying attention for a few years. Voiceover hasn’t been significantly modified since 2011. Sure. We’ve had some minor enhancements here and there such as the ability to turn off interaction, but the experience hasn’t grown by leaps and bounds as it has on iOS.
Many bugs have piled up over the years and voiceover is definitely not as polished as it was in Snow Leopard, Lion or even Mountain Lion. Apple has apparently no problem leading moderate to severe accessibility issues to pile up. I’ve experienced voiceover locking up the entire system when browsing websites and Safari to the point where all it will say is busy. No matter what I do. Other issues such as the SunPass PDF and Apple books, reading experience, the inability to truly navigate documents by links or headings, the inability to get detailed text attributes, information, et cetera, still exist.
We’ve gone almost a decade since the release of Lion and the upcoming system. All Apple has to show for it as touched bar support, slightly improved PDF accessibility, the ability to disable interaction, a few other minor enhancements and more irritating bugs that should have been flagged and fixed by competent engineers. Seriously, I expect a lot better from the company that pioneered mainstream accessibility. VoiceOver is not as good as it could or should be. If that makes me sound arrogant, too bad, I’m done sugar coating things.
I had high hopes for the Mac, but it doesn’t seem like anyone at Apple is willing to listen and improve the situation. As a result, I’ll call them out on their crap and won’t purchase another Mac. Apple apologists will say, ‘This isn’t true. Bugs are fixed right away. Apple cares deeply about voiceOver and the Mac, blah, blah, blah.’ I don’t know where this comes from because my experience suggests the exact opposite. Apple doesn’t provide easy ways to engage with the people working directly on accessibility features and all you get from their public accessibility email address are canned responses that public PR seems to suggest all their accessibility features are absolutely positively wonderful and there’s nothing wrong.
Those who say they have great contact with Apple must have special contact with insiders, that us mere mortals are unworthy to speak to. Having said all that the choice is up to you. I don’t personally recommend blind people purchase Macs in the same way I’m not a proponent of JAWS due to freedom scientific’s monopolistic business policies and overall arrogant attitude. However, you may have different requirements and or tolerance levels than I do. Get what works best for you. JAWS has a few useful features such as scripting apps for a job environment. If you need that kind of specific support, you have no choice.
I personally believe Apple took the right approach by forcing developers to code their apps, to be compliant. Scripting is in my view, a bandaid solution that doesn’t truly fix the problem. Apple has the right idea here. VoiceOver is solid and when it works, it works really well. I’m mostly sad the experience has been degrading and no one at Apple seems to be willing to make voiceOver live up to the potential I know it has, unfortunately, that seems to have died with Steve. If you get a Mac and really love it all, the more power to you.
I love the Mac and used it for seven years. I got tired of being ignored by the very people that claim they care so much. Don’t be surprised if you run into issues and Apple utterly ignores your bug reports and feature requests.”
Phew! Thank you very much, Christopher. There’s a lot to unpack there. I’ll just unpack a bit of it and let other people comment. One, I agree that for most use cases, the Mac is definitely not ready for prime time. I don’t think that Steve Jobs’ death is somehow to blame for this. There was serious bugs during Steve’s time.
One of the most significant mainstream ones that immediately comes to mind is Antennagate, where Steve jobs essentially said, “You’re going to have to take these bumpers and hold your iPhone in a particular way to compensate for poor Apple engineering” I do think that when you look at all the products that Apple has launched since Tim Cook’s ascension to the CEO role of Apple, we have to accept. He has been an excellent CEO. If you’re a shareholder or a business analyst, you are going to measure Apple’s success by the profit that they return for their shareholders and the end when you strip away all the other stuff, that’s why companies exist. He’s a roaring success by that measurement. Products are marching forward.
When you look at the Apple watch, which was a new product under his stewardship, AirPods, AirTags, home pod, a number of changes in iOS that have been quite consequential, improved hardware. I think Tim Cook has done a good job. If we were to zoom in on the problem, I think there are a couple of things. One is that I think there does seem to be some bizarre disconnect between the interface where users report a problem and the engineers at Apple who can actually fix those problems. I have reason to believe that the engineers at Apple accessibility care a great deal.
These are passionate people who have done amazing work to make the world a more accessible place. I salute those engineers. I just think there’s some disconnect. There’s some process issue that someone needs to look into and correct. I do agree with you that it would be wonderful if there was a forum where Apple engineers could talk to capable end-users about future features about features that aren’t quite performing.
When I sit down and I have a good chin wag with people about these sorts of issues, some people say, “Yes, you have a point, but it’s not realistic to expect Apple to do this. It’s not just blind people or disabled people that Apple are ghosting and gaslighting. It’s just in their culture that they don’t engage with end-users in this way.”
I do take that point. It’s definitely valid, but I would also point this out. Apple does modify its behavior for certain geographical markets. There are certain ways that they do things in China that are different from the way that they do things in other countries. They do it because China is a significant market to them. It’s significant because of its size. If Apple really is committed to an accessible world, then surely they should also respect the culture of the disability movement and a catchcry of the disability movement is as I’m sure most people listening to this show know nothing about us without us.
If you’re going to play in this space, Apple, you need to do a better job of respecting the culture of the disability movement and engage in a spirit of co-design. Only disabled people truly live disability. We know what our requirements are. We’re willing to provide advice because Apple does such a good job, but I would say that it is just not appropriate for Apple to be so hands-off and standoffish with the disability movement in the way that they are. It’s simply not culturally appropriate. There was a brief period there where Apple had quite a presence at some of the technology conferences, like the NFB convention, and CSUN. That didn’t last very long.
I say to Apple and their defenders, if it’s okay for Microsoft and Google and Amazon and Adobe, and many other mainstream players of significance to come to these conferences and talk to us, why is it beyond Apple? Why are we beneath them in that they don’t want to talk in the same way as everybody else? Then the next issue is resources. It seems to me that Apple accessibility is clearly under-resourced because they’re having to make some decisions about prioritizing iOS. That has left the Mac to languish largely.
A company the size of Apple could afford to throw another million dollars or two on a few more engineers on prioritizing Mac accessibility and they wouldn’t even feel it. I do agree with you about that.
Regarding freedom scientific and monopolistic practices. I don’t think that anything that Freedom Scientific does can possibly fall within the category of monopoly because they have competitors. They have two competitors who offer their products for free. One is open source and often shall we say liberally borrows from things that Freedom has already done and invested in engineering time to think about and do.
The other is Microsoft and they put their screen reader on every Windows desktop. You’ve also got Supernova. There are other smaller choices as well. To be a monopoly, you have to be the only game in town. JAWS is not the only game in town. They’re not a monopoly. There could be others who came along into the market place and develop a product with robust scripting solutions and various things like that, but the trouble is that it is really difficult to support blind people well. Blind people are a low incidence group, and they are high maintenance in the sense that if you’re going to provide proper support, it’s expensive to provide that proper support.
Let’s not forget that blind people led the way in the design of JAWS. Blind people and low vision people are still, to the best of my knowledge, exclusively occupying all the tech support roles at Freedom Scientific. If you want to talk to anybody at Freedom Scientific about any issue that you have, you know pretty readily where to find them. Monopoly is not a word that I would use. You may accuse Freedom of being arrogant, and I guess you’re entitled to make that perception. It’s factually incorrect to say that they’re a monopoly, and that they exhibit monopolistic behavior because the facts tell a different story. Just load up NVDA, load up Narrator. There goes your monopoly. I also beg to differ regarding your assessment of scripting. I don’t fully understand what you’re claiming Apple has done when you say they’ve got it right because there are many inaccessible apps for both macOS and IOS. I don’t know whether Apple is really doing any better here than Windows is with Microsoft. You seem to be making the assumption that scripting is only used to compensate for some sort of accessibility deficit. It is true that sometimes a script can be used that way to work around an accessibility deficit, but a script can also be used for one big magic thing, efficiency. You cannot beat what a JAWS script can do to improve your efficiency, to enhance your productivity. When you are on the job, that stuff matters. It really does. If you are in a call center environment where the calls are coming in thick and fast, and you are assessed based on how quickly you process the calls, how quickly you get a resolution, how many you process every hour. You can setup a series of JAWS scripts so that you can have displayed on your braille display a particular piece of caller information, and you can press a certain key and have information spoken to you. That stuff is golden, and that is where JAWS scripts absolutely shine. They ain’t no band aid. They are essential productivity enhancement tools without which many blind people would not be employed. Also on this subject, Gordon Anthony is writing in. He says, “Dear Jonathan. I have used JAWS on a Windows machine for around 10 years now. I’m still far from an expert, but I have it setup to help me accomplish the things I need to do. I must admit, it took me a long time to learn how to use JAWS efficiently. I’m sure there are loads of things I still don’t know how to do, but I do love JAWS. I recently invested in a MacBook and have been learning how to use VoiceOver. I must say, this was a struggle. It has taken a few months for me to feel comfortable, and I still need sighted help on occasion. I have grown to like the MacBook with voice over for browsing the web and for things like emails. I also love the way the calendar and messages sync with my iPhone instantly. However, VoiceOver on the Mac is not nearly as easy to use as VoiceOver on the iPhone. It’s also not a patch on JAWS when it comes to productivity issues like writing long documents. As an author, I always use JAWS on my Windows PC for writing. For me, VoiceOver is not nearly as flexible or as intuitive as JAWS. That’s not to say I don’t like my MacBook because I do, but I would always go back to Windows and JAWS for writing and editing. I think I may have misheard you on your recent podcast as I thought you said that it was possible to turn off interaction mode on VoiceOver. I can’t find anything in my system preferences to suggest that is possible, and I thought interaction was the VoiceOver system. Can you explain what you meant, and how it might be possible to make VoiceOver behave a bit more like JAWS? Or have I completely misunderstood you?” Thank you very much for your email Gordon. You can make the Mac behave a little bit more like JAWS, but not entirely by changing grouping in the navigation area. Go into VoiceOver preferences by pressing VO with F8 or depending on how you have it configured VO with function and F8. Then navigate down to navigation, and then you’ll find grouping preferences there. If you turn grouping off, then you may find that in certain situations things are expanded. It doesn’t seem to work consistently everywhere, but it does expand quite a lot depending on where you are. What app you’re using.
Another update on the Sonos Roam. I mentioned in last week’s episode that when I paired the Sonos Roam with my iPhone 12 Pro Max, there seems to be no way to get VoiceOver to come through the Sonos Roam. If I used Siri to play a song on the Roam, that worked fine. While a song was playing on the Roam, I could then flick around and hear VoiceOver. I guess this provides a work around of sorts because while music is playing, you can then use the rotor gesture to choose audio destination, and set the audio destination for VoiceOver to your phone. Then at least you get VoiceOver speech back. Once the Roam connects, I have been losing VoiceOver altogether. I asked if anyone else was seeing this. Iain Lackie wrote this email. “Hello, Jonathan. I have just heard of your problem with your Sonos Roam. I have just tried airplay and Bluetooth on our Sonos Roam. With both, I am getting VoiceOver coming through my iPhone and sound coming through the Roam as expected. I don’t detect any VoiceOver latency. I am using an iPhone XR with IOS 14.5.1. I am hoping I will get the same results when my iPhone 12 comes next week. Now, here’s one you might be able to throw some light on. The Roam works fine when Stella Bluetooths it to her laptop. However, when I Bluetooth it to mine, the sound is very broken up. I do not have this problem when my laptop is Bluetoothed to our Sonos Move. Apart from this, I really enjoy the Roam. For such a small beast, it packs a big punch. Thank you, Ian. I don’t know whether I have ever seen Bluetoothed used like that as a verb before. Very interesting. What I found is that when I unpaired my Sonos Roam a few times, and reconnected it to the speaker. I am now getting voiceover coming through the iPhone. Then you can use audio destination to get VoiceOver to come through the Bluetooth speaker. What you can also do by the way is a cool trick if you want to get VoiceOver to come through the Roam speaker. Not your iPhone’s built in speaker, but the Roam speaker. That is, you can go into your Bluetooth settings in IOS, and I believe the setting may have arrived with 14.5. It is quite a new setting. When you use the actions rotor after you’ve paired your device, you can go to more info and double tap that. You’ll find that you can choose the kind of device that the Roam is or for that matter, any Bluetooth speaker that you pair to your phone. If you set it to headphones or other, then voiceover will automatically come through the Bluetooth speaker in question when you connect. Although it does take some time for it to happen for me with the Roam. Ian, I don’t know what might be happening with your Bluetooth issue with your laptop except to suggest that perhaps the drivers are different on your laptop from the laptop that Stella has. It could be it’s using a different kind of Bluetooth stack. One of the Bluetooth stacks might be proprietary. The other might be generic Windows. One may be better than the other. It would be interesting to go into drivers in device manager, and have a look at what Bluetooth device driver is installed on both of those machines. This email is from Shan who says, “First of all, thanks for the clubhouse invite awhile back. It’s a really cool service”. You are welcome. It’s nice to get people into the fold. The email continues. “As well I really enjoy your podcast. Keep up the excellent work. Anyway, I listened to the recent one where the Zoom pod track P4 was demoed, and that got me to thinking. I am writing you to ask for your advice. I use JAWS for speech, and of course a Braille with an uppercase B display because speech is good and fast but in my job as a security member on a computer incident response team where we are looking at logs and scans which contain IP addresses et cetera, I find that I really need to use Braille, speech isn’t great when one is having to deal with fine details. Anyway, one of the things I would like to do is I currently use a set of Sony headphones that have a built-in mic. I usually use them plugged into my laptop, the mic works fine because we use MS Teams a lot. However, I also have an iPhone and since we have stopped using landlines, thankfully, because having two phones was getting too much.
Anyway, what I want to do is use some mixer so that my iPhone and computer will come over my headphones. Question, would the ZOOM Podtrak P4 enable me to do that. My headset can support both the audio I listened to as well as the mic. I was a little concerned about the fact that it seems that the input channels and the output channels are separate, at least that is the impression I got from the demo.
Anyway, I would greatly appreciate hearing your recommendations as to what I need to do so that I can hear and control my computer via speech like MS Teams and Sharky and when a call comes into the good old iPhone, be able to answer it and talk using my headset and still hear what’s going on on the computer”. Thanks for writing in, Shan, these things can break one’s brain thinking about inputs and outputs.
As I understand your question, the answer is, yes, the zoom Podtrak P4 should be able to do that for you but it may depend on what the headset you’re using is, if it’s a microphone headset that is using USB, then you may need to get a slightly different arrangement because the way I could see this working is that you could have a good pair of headphones and a microphone and use the mix-minus feature so that you can hear everything in one place when people call in to your iPhone, or when you use Microsoft Teams, they could hear you over a very good quality microphone, thanks to the mix-minus features.
You would be going to the races with the setup, you’ll probably have the best sounding set up in your company. There are four headphone outputs in the Podtrak P4 so you would normally plug in a set of headphones or some headset, earbuds, whatever, that are compatible with a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack standard. Again, you wouldn’t use a USB headset with those, that’s for sure.
I have been working from home for a wee while now, but when I worked in our national office, I just had a really basic mixer, and I had the iPhone plugged into one channel and the computer plugged into another channel, I used the built-in mic of the iPhone when I got iPhone calls and I didn’t really use the audio from my laptop. Now that I have my Dell XPS 15, which has fantastic audio, I can see myself using that but I could also see myself using the Podtrak P4 for what you are talking about so that I could have one good quality microphone where everything was heard through it.
What you might have done, Shan, is a huge favor for me because I have been thinking about how do I make my business case to the chief executive of Mosen towers, aka Bonnie Mosen to buy one of these Podtrak P4s? We have actually just leased a new national office building and I will be spending some time in there. I think you may have just given me the justification I was looking for to buy one of these Podtrak P4s because I can use it in my office for this very purpose and use it for other things as the need arises. What can I say, Shan, except a heartfelt thank you and good luck with your own endeavors?
David: Hi, Jonathan. This is David Edic from Tacoma Washington. I wanted to comment on podcast mixers in general and the P4. I started looking at podcast mixers back in September of last year, and I found mainly four of them that we’re talking about, the RODECaster pro which I’d heard about before. The live track by ZOOM L8. The ZOOM Podtrak P4 before which was new at the time and the P8.
I did get the opportunity to test drive the L8 and the P4. The L8 is interesting and that it is a compact digital mixer. It has six Line/mic input jacks and two line level stereo jacks. The stereo jacks were shared between line USB in and three sound effects each. The second what they call channel eight line was also shared among the previous items and the TRS connector, which made it interesting for a podcast mixer, even though it was really more of a live mixer.
It was cool in that it had all that, it was a digital recorder, recorded the 10 channels in the master track and it would send that out to the USB as well, in addition to bringing up to four channels through the line input channel seven and eight as mentioned before. The two interesting things about that is being a digital mixer, you had your basic gain, mute, and your fader, and a select button. The select button would allow you to use the five knobs that were effects and balance bass, mid and treble channel.
That was not the challenging part, you had four big buttons in the bottom right corner that were your mode button. If you were on recorder, you could adjust the faders to adjust the recording and then when you went back to the live mixer, you could use those same faders to adjust the five mixer in that mode. The challenging thing with that is if your recording was set to 70%, and you went from the live channel where it was set at say 20%, your fader would not have any effect until you reach that 70% and then it would take hold and therefore just– they weren’t motorized faders so it wouldn’t change to that position.
That I could live with, if I was going to use it, I had to make a cheat sheet to deal with the four modes, plus the eight buttons did four different things depending on what mode you’re in. It was pretty cool, you had four headphones out, you could have the main headphone out and match exactly what– it already matched what the mixer was doing, but then you could have headphone A, B and C have a different mix. You had to keep all this in your head, I did not want to deal with that so I kept the P4.
There are a couple of things about the P4 that are interesting. I think everybody’s found a lot of good uses for it, including myself, I use it when I’m dealing with Zoom meetings, recording, whatever. The volume knobs are actually digital volume knob. I’ve had a couple of situations where when I adjusted the volume knob, I did not make a change for a few seconds, that told me right away it’s digital.
Also, I’ve noticed when you stop recording that you sometimes have to wait a bit especially on longer recordings, the system doesn’t immediately stop, it’s unfortunate that you can’t use any of the inputs as line inputs, while you can keep the volume low and send something else in mono. It is strictly designed as a microphone input. The mix-minus is active on both channel three and channel four and they are both stereo.
I have had once in the six or seven months that I’ve had the P4 where in the middle of a meeting it stopped working, one channel, I think is the right channel went out then the left channel went out and there was nothing I could do to bring it back, so I powered off the unit took out the batteries and let it sit for a while maybe a day and it came back to life. I did have to reset the date and time. I would always recommend that keep the batteries in the unit to keep from having to reset the date and time and the basic setup. It’s awesome to see how many people are using such a great product.
Thanks for listening to my comments and make a good day.
Jonathan: 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. David is writing in and he says “Today I wondered if you had ever recorded from a cassette player onto a computer, I use an audio Technica ATR 2100 microphone and I tried using a patch cord to connect the tape player to the microphone and never could get it to work. I tried connecting with a speaker’s input and that did not work either. I would like to digitize very old cassettes before they break or really go bad”. Thanks, David. What you will need is some sort of little audio interface. Just take the mic completely out of the equation, that’s not what you need here. Even some cheap audio interface that has say a couple of RCA inputs going to the RCA outputs of your cassette deck that could do the job, or you could get a cassette deck with a USB cable, I understand they do exist. I believe you can now get USB-based tape decks that are specifically designed for digitization.
Then you get into the business of noise reduction and taking hiss away, reaper is great with that although I think you said in the subject line you would be using GoldWave. I don’t use GoldWave, but I believe it does have a noise reduction plug-in there as well, but the key thing will be to make sure that you use some sort of audio interface to get a cable going between a cassette deck and your computer.
Let’s get back to nature where Laurel Jean Walden says “Hi, Jonathan. I believe it was Tim who asked about a resource for ocean sounds. Some time ago, I recorded an album of instrumental music with a subtle backdrop of nature sounds. In my search for quality nature recordings that I could license, I found shockwave-sound.com, which still offers the same nature soundtracks either by themselves or accompanied by soft music. These can be purchased for different amounts depending on one’s use case. They can also be demoed. The site is not the most accessible in the world but is navigable.”
Paul Hopewell has answers. He says, “Hello, Jonathan, I have just been listening to the items on headphones for behind the ear Hearing aids”, that’s right, this is something that Henry emailed us about. Paul continues, “For many ears” I’m not sure if that’s a deliberate typo, but that’s very clever. For many ears, I have used musical link stereo from www.conovens.co.uk. I will spell this, so www.C-O-N-N-O-V-E-N-S.co.uk. I shop there as well. They have a lot of cool stuff there. Paul continues. These are very small and sit beside each hearing aid and interface to the inductive loop system, which is an integral part of most hearing aids.
They come with a one-meter cable, which is terminated with a 3.5-millimeter stereo jack plug. I have an NHS Oticon hearing aid with ear moulds in each ear. Below is the description provided by connevans. The ear hook provides an inductive output for use with a hearing aid input because there is one for each ear. A stereo signal can be heard by the hearing aid user. The music link D can be used with any equipment with a suitable headphone socket, e.g iPods, MP3, and CD players, et cetera. Place the ear hooks over the ear between the aid and head plug-in to the headphone socket and switch your hearing aids to the T-coil setting.
The silhouette ear hooks are position-sensitive. You need to experiment by moving them to get the best signal. Keep up the great work on your podcast”, says Paul. “I look forward to it each Sunday”. If you don’t have access to a streamer or the direct audio input, which is the technology I use, this could be a solution that Henry could investigate. Thanks for passing it on, Paul.
Jonathan: I don’t know who this email is from because there is an email address in the from field rather than a name, but it says, “Jonathan, I’m curious on your thoughts on the L braille from Vispero. I’ve read a lot about it, as I do anything before purchasing, and talked to a lot of people. The consensus is, that a lot of people don’t like the corded command layout. I know a while ago in 2017, I think you did the podcast about the 14 L-braille. This device had a focus 14 as the braille with an uppercase B display. With the updated hardware in the L-braille using the new fifth-generation focus 40 blue and updated Intel processor, et cetera. Do you think this device is a laptop replacement?
Thank you for the question. The quick answer is yes, I absolutely do. I haven’t used the new L-braille. I liked the concept of the first one, the one that I reviewed in the podcast, I was able to get most things done, but it was a bit slow in places. Clearly, they’ve done a lot with the product since then, and of course, in the new version of Leasey, you do have an alternative way to deal with those courted commands because they are a bit convoluted and I must admit if I had my choice, I would go with an L-braille with a QWERTY keyboard, so something like the Mantis, but that runs full Windows. A really good specs laptop with no screen and a braille display, a QWERTY keyboard, I would go for that, but if you don’t mind brailling and you can get used to those key structures.
Remember when you use something day in and day out, sure, there’s a learning curve, but if you use it all the time, you are going to come up to speed really quickly And it’ll be second nature. You’ve got the note taker form factor with long battery life, but the full power of not just Windows, but JAWS on windows, what is not to like? You can get a QWERTY keyboard, either a Bluetooth-1 or a USB-1, if you want, plug it in if you’re using it at a desk where it’s convenient and you’re good to go. I think it’s worthy of serious consideration. Normally we would start the Bonnie bulletin of course, with the familiar Bonnie bulletin theme, but just to prove a point, I get to push this button.
Jonathan: Yes, it’s true. After that inspired listener suggestion that really got me thinking, I decided to head out and buy a ZOOM Podtrak P4. We’re recording the Bonnie bulletin in Mosen Towers in the lounge on our USB-powered smart couch. We’ve got the two Samsung Q2U microphones connected to the Podtrak P4, so do we get a round of applause? Yes, (applause). Way too much fun. on the other Q2U mic is the incredible Bonnie Mosen.
Bonnie: Good afternoon, everybody.
Jonothan: What do you think Of the ZOOM Podtrak P4.
Bonnie: It’s very cool. It’s very little.
Jonothan: A bit plastic-y.
Bonnie: Bit plastic-y yes, but it’s for $200, but it’s durable because even if it’s $5,000 and you drop it, you don’t know what will happen.
Jonothan: I just think it’s amazing that so much podcasting power can be found in this little device. I do still like my ZOOM F6, because of the 32-bit float but the idea that you can connect this and You could imagine taking this somewhere. You could have a group of people in a room who want to record a discussion, bring people in via clean feed, if you’ve got a PC handy or even FaceTime, if you’ve got one person on an iPhone, they can hear everybody else. It’s absolutely amazing, this thing.
Bonnie: Come a long way baby.
Jonothan: Yes, we have. While there’s no speech to navigate the menus, there’s not actually that much on the menus, really. Once it’s set up, there are a lot of physical switches that control most things. It’s pretty impressive, so here we are. This is our first recording on the Podtrak.
Bonnie: You just wonder what someone’s been thinking about during the pandemic, creating things this, other inventions will come out of necessity.
Jonothan: I think this is ZOOM’s response to the RODE Caster Pro, which came out before the pandemic and that’s quite a larger device and it does have some more capabilities, but it’s more expensive as well. ZOOM also have a thing called the P8, which is capable and you can have banks of sound effects, so you can have lots of buttons that you can do things on, but I like this one and I think a lot of blind people will because there’s no touch screen and so it’s just great. I can see so many people are getting their podcasts’ barriers to entry reduced by having this and I love that. I love the idea that it’s easier for more people to start podcasts.
Jonothan: It gladdens my heart. I love the idea of people getting out there and having a go at it. Anyway, so here we are we’ll stop talking about the technology and talk about other things. Well, apart from the fact that we had a listener inspired purchase of a Podtrak P4 to show off. We are pre-recording this because it’s the pregnant.
Bonnie: It is the second jewel of the triple crown.
Jonothan: The pregnant.
Bonnie: It’s the Preakness all the way from Pamlico, racecourse, and Baltimore.
Jonothan: The pregnant. There’s been quite a bit of controversy with the Kentucky Derby or as Americans call it Derby and I don’t fully
understand it except to say that the winner of the race, what’s it called Medina–?
Bonnie: Medina Spirit.
Jonathan: Medina Spirit. The horse was what doped in some way?
Bonnie: Well, not exactly. Yes and no. It’s very complicated. Racing is a very complicated sport. Different tracks have different regulations, Churchill Downs, there’s no– On Kentucky Derby Day, no race-day medication. Some horses do run with certain things like Lasix, that sort of thing, no Lasix.
Medina Spirit tested positive for a very, very trace amount of betamethasone, I believe it’s called, which is an anti-inflammatory. Now, because they do test the first five horses that crossed the finish line, that’s changed. They used to test the first four and a random horse for doping. He did test for a tiny pixel of this drug, which it’s legal but it’s not illegal. It’s just it’s there. The trainer-
Jonathan: Well, if there’s no worry about him having it why are they making some [unintelligible [01:01:13] [crosstalk]
Bonnie: Well, because he couldn’t have it on race day.
Jonathan: I see.
Bonnie: Yes, that’s one of the reasons. The second one is the trainer was lying about it. The trainer has a history of, he’s had 30 positives over the years with horses testing for certain substances. Firstly, didn’t know how it got there, which is a bit of a worry. Then he said that somebody was trying out to get him and had drugged the horse, and there were several different stories. One was-
Jonathan: It’s a joke but a bit Trumpian and the rhetoric.
Bonnie: Very Trumpian. Honestly, it’s kind of– I was joking with a friend of mine who’s a racing person and saying, “I’m going to get a poster that says Baffert, Trump 2024.” Because he was becoming the darling of Fox News. It was really weird.
Jonathan: Now, there will be many people who are listening to this after the pregnant has been run, but are you predicting that Medina Spirit will win the pregnant?
Bonnie: I have no idea. It’s a lot of horses usually come over from the Derby. This time, there’s only been three. It’s a smaller field. I suspect some trainers aren’t wanting to run against him. That’s kind of the theory. [crosstalk]
Jonathan: There was a triple crown win in 20, was it ’16 or ’17?
Jonathan: Yes, you were on a plane or something?
Bonnie: I was, that was a Bob Baffert horse. Also, justify in was it 2018? I think. The last two triple crown winners have been Baffert horses, which does make you wonder a bit.
Jonathan: This seems like a good time to mention, on the Mosen Explosion in days of yore, we used to have a segment called The Banana Report. It’s kind of past its use-by date because the children have all grown up. These are my four children. I called them the bananas for the Banana Report because there’s a bunch of them. One banana, two banana, three banana, four, do you remember that song? That banana split?
Jonathan: That’s why I got the idea that four of them calling them the bananas, and people used to really look forward to The Banana Report. What is really cool about it is I’ve done a lot of recording with my kids, anyway. I think it’s wonderful for blind people to do this because it’s our photos, isn’t it? It’s, we can go back and just as people look at photos of their kids once they’ve got older and think, “Oh, gosh, Don’t they look cute? I had forgotten how different they were when they were little.”
I can play all this audio that I’ve taken not just from The Banana Report but different other things. I’ve been doing that because David, my youngest son is about to turn 21, and as you will know, if you were listening to our New Year’s Eve special, David got engaged recently. He’s getting married next year and we’re having a 21st party for him. That’s going to be really fun.
We’re taking him and his fiancée out to a fine dining restaurant, which is what they want to do. Then we’re having a big party for them here at Mosen Towers with their extended family and friends, so we’re preparing for that. He sounded very different when he was a wee nipper, didn’t he?
Bonnie: Oh, yes. He did. They all did, except for Heidi.
Jonathan: [laughs] Well, even Heidi when she was about four, she sounded different but it’s different for sons, isn’t it? It just sounds different. I guess the other thing we can mention before we switch off this Zoom Podtrak P [background music] four was a general thing. [background music] That’s it? Yes, good on you. [background music] Is that we’ve been watching the one on Netflix? You weren’t taken with it?
Bonnie: I wasn’t. I found it very confusing.
Jonathan: I liked it.
Bonnie: I read the book and-
Jonathan: You got through that book, really quickly for you.
Bonnie: Because it was a page-turner.
Jonathan: You almost got through it in Jonathan time.
Bonnie: I know. It was really good. It was totally different than the show, very few similarities at all, so I’m really eager to have you read it.
Jonathan: I know you keep going on about it.
Bonnie: It’s like you got to read it once you started now you’ll be done by tomorrow. Not that long. It was really good. The book was really good.
Jonathan: Yes, you can watch the one on Netflix with the audio description only in 5.1, though, at least when the audio descriptions on. There’s no Atmos.
Bonnie: Yes. If you want to read the book, it’s by John Marrs who wrote The Passenger, which was another book that got big success.
Jonathan: What medium did you read it on?
Bonnie: I read on Bookshare because it wasn’t in BARD.
Jonathan: Did you?
Jonathan: Right. Is it on Audible?
Bonnie: It is but we can’t get it.
Jonathan: Oh, yes, because increasingly there are these restrictions that are being imposed even though we use your US credit card, they won’t let us get the US only books.
Bonnie: I know, it’s crazy.
Jonathan: Yes, it is because we’re on your Audible US account, so we’re thinking of dialing down our Audible because there are fewer and fewer titles we can access.
Bonnie: Not good.
Jonathan: Nah, it’s annoying. It’s annoying. Anything else you wanted to comment on?
Bonnie: I don’t think so. I think that’s about it.
Jonathan: Okay. Well, thank you for inaugurating this Zoom Podtrak P4. It was an inspired idea. All right, well, thank you very much for testing it out with us.
Bonnie: Okay, bye.
Jonathan: Okay, goodbye.
[song] Mosen At Large Podcast.
Dennis: Hi, Jonathan. This is Dennis Long, “I spoke to you yesterday on your clubhouse event, when I asked about the Rivo. I did find the podcast. I just wanted to comment, you can type on the Rivo, I use the Rivo as my way of operating the iPhone if I’m not able to do the gestures. I enter text with it all the time and you really can, especially with iOS, use it as a primary way of navigating the iPhone. On Android due to Android keyboard limitations, the Rivo will not work with some app, will not work in some areas.
One example I can give is if you go to settings on a pixel device, battery, more options and it says, view statistics or view usage, something to that effect. You cannot click on that with the Rivo or any other keyboard using an OTG cable, so it’s not a Rivo issue. I just want to say to anybody considering purchasing the Rivo, it is definitely a worthwhile investment. It may be a little pricey but the ability to use the thing as a phone, have a physical way to enter phone numbers, it really is a game-changing device and it’s an awesome, awesome device.
If anybody’s thinking about buying it I would strongly encourage you to. If you have questions, reach out to the Rivo support team at help@Rivo.me and they will certainly help you. They’re very knowledgeable and it’s just an awesome device.
Tim: Hi, Jonathan. In Episode 91, we had the review of the Rivo 2 smartphone companion for the blind. That was a really great review of this Bluetooth keyboard with audio functionality. To refresh the listener’s memory, it has 20 buttons, a built-in speaker, and microphone. What Rivo 2 allows you to do is to control your smartphone from the Rivo 2 while the smartphone is in your pocket. You hold the Rivo 2 in one hand, and you can control all the smartphones functions while the smartphone is in your pocket.
This is really convenient and, for me, the Rivo 2 is a game-changer because in many situations, I have trouble operating the touchscreen. The clearest example is when I’m walking, and I want to check something on Google Maps, or BlindSquare, or some other navigation app, I have to stop because it’s difficult for me to operate the touchscreen while I’m walking. Now, with Rivo, which I hold in one hand, I can just quickly check the latest updates from Google Maps or switch to BlindSquare or do anything from one hand while the phone is in my pocket.
I don’t have to stop anymore. I get the audio on my hearing aids and that’s a real game-changer in terms of efficiency. Also, it’s great for typing a message on the bus or for just quickly checking notes during a meeting. My sighted colleagues, of course, can quickly glance at their smartphone screen, but for a blind person, it’s quite complicated and also quite obtrusive to be interacting with their smartphone. With Rivo, I can just even hold a Rivo, maybe under the table, or very unobtrusively check something on my phone.
It’s a game-changer. As was mentioned in episode 91, it was quite hard to order Rivo. As a business owner, I saw a great product and I realized it was hard to purchase, so I decided to solve that problem and become a dealer for Europe. If you want to order Rivo and you are in Europe, please visit www.blindmobility.eu and you can order Rivo there for €269. That’s a special introductory price. It will go up, but for now, you can order it for €269, including value-added tax and shipping anywhere in Europe.
If you’re not in Europe, but you’re still interested in Rivo. I also have set up Rivo mailing lists for users to discuss Rivo, and those lists are open to users anywhere in the world. If you want to discuss Rivo in English, you can subscribe to the Rivo users list by sending an email to email@example.com. It’s a standard mailman system just like you’re using Jonathan for the Mosen Media list.
Jonathan: Kirsten Mooney writes in and says, “Hi Jonathan. For the past few months, I have been enjoying listening to your podcasts. Thanks so much, really love listening to them. I got an Apple TV a little while ago too, so was interested when you were going over the different things that have come out in the latest Apple event to hear there will be a new Apple TV. Although I am not interested in getting a newer one, one thing I wanted to mention came to me as I was listening about the new Apple TV remote.”
I’m not sure if you are aware of this or not, but I use my Samsung remote to control my Apple TV. I accidentally discovered this not long after I got it, and find the Samsung remote a little better and easier to use than the fiddly annoying Apple remote. If you haven’t tried this, you might want to try it out for yourself before getting any other remotes, as this really does make getting to different parts of the Apple TV a lot easier. Thanks, and keep up the good work and discussion. Thanks very much, Kirsten.
Yes, I do use the remote on our Samsung TV to control aspects of the Apple TV, but you can’t fully control voiceover that way. For example, voiceover has the rotor gestures, which allow you to navigate by various things. You can’t use the rotor with your Samsung remote. Although, I also use an Apple Bluetooth keyboard dedicated for the purpose, and that does give me full access to all the voiceover functions, but for basic navigation, holding the Samsung remote in your hand so you can switch to your Apple TV and then just navigate around the different apps, works a treat.
Anesio is writing in again and says, “Hello, Jonathan, based on your recommendation, I purchased the Q2U mic and have been using it for my Zoom calls and webinars via my windows surface, with great feedback from others. However, when I plugged this microphone into my iPhone, using a lightening adapter, the recording comes out with extremely low volume, albeit with very clear, but very low volume. Also, for some reason, as soon as I plug in the microphone to the iPhone, I lose voiceover output.”
“Is this the way it’s supposed to be, or do I need to change some settings?” Thanks as always Jonathan, for all your help and valuable information. Thank you, Anesio. When you plug in the Q2U, it becomes your sound device on the iPhone, so you will need to plug in something into the headphone jack of the Q2U, and you will hear voiceover coming out through the Q2U there. In terms of the volume of your microphone, I don’t believe there is a way to adjust the input on the microphone itself.
You’ve obviously got the headphone buttons there that adjust the output, which is what you hear. I would not be surprised to have you writing and saying, look, it just doesn’t work when I use certain apps because as we know from clubhouse, while some of these microphones are working well in recording applications, some of them are not working well in certain voice over IP applications. Had you told me that it isn’t working at all and you’re still coming through the built-in microphone of your iPhone when you go into a zoom call, I would not have been surprised.
I am surprised if you’re saying that it is faint because I would have thought that Zoom, like it does on the PC and the Mac, would be listening to the volume of the audio and adjusting itself accordingly. Perhaps that capability doesn’t exist in iPhone’s APIs, so I don’t know. I have not used the microphone for Zoom and other voice applications on my iPhone when I plug it into the iPhone, I’m typically using it for recordings only. If anybody has any feedback on this, then please let us know.
Has it worked out for you? Using mics like the Samsung Q2U in Zoom on your iPhone, but certainly plugging into the microphone’s headphone jack should give you your voiceover back.
[song] Jonathan Mosen, Mosen at Large Podcast.
Jonathan: Priya is writing in and says, “Hello, Jonathan. After reading John Kralik’s memoir 365 Thank Yous, which is, by the way, one of the resources recommended in my meditation resources. I decided to write one thank-you note every day, last year, what a delightful experience it has been. There was still so many people I wanted to say thank you to that I am still writing one thank you note a day this year, people really enjoy getting unexpected happy notes in the mail.”
“Especially during this crazy time. Businesses enjoy having my bright-colored notes to post for their employees. Some notes were sent to people who did things long ago, and that brought back sweet memories for both of us. Thank you for sending me the clubhouse invitation. I am anxious to try listening to Mosen at Large with that app. I hope Bonnie got you something really, really good for your birthday and that you will celebrate many more with the kind of joy and happiness that you have right now.” Thank you, Priya.
Yes, as you will have heard by now, I got the Sonos Roam and I’m lucky and most important of all, I got a really nice dinner with three out of four of my children and their significant others. My fourth is in invercargill, way down the bottom of the South Island. He will be flying up soon for his 21st, so we didn’t want to do that twice, but it was a lovely day. I agree that book, 365 Thank Yous had a profound impact on me. One thing I do quite regularly is, if I’ve received really good service from someone, I write to their manager and tell them.
Sometimes people are a bit nervous when I say to them, “Would you mind telling me who your supervisor is?” I have to add, “because you’ve given me such good service, I want them to know what a good job you’ve done,” and it makes you feel good to pass on those good vibes. People write back and they say, “It is so rare that we hear from customers when something has gone right.” I love to do it. It’s just a very good feeling to spread a little joy around the place. Good on you for embracing that book in the way that you have and spreading some happiness.
As part of our discussion about ablest language last week, we talked a bit about the unemployment rate among blind people and why it is still so high despite technological advancements. We have an email from someone who wants to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, because we’re talking about the employment relationship and this contributor says, over the past five years, my vision has dropped from around 10% of normal, but which provided clear sight, to what I now consider as blind. I can make out colors, larger shapes, and in strong light, sometimes people.
I never had a use for assistive technologies until I discovered video magnification and then Dolphin’s SuperNova product, which I still recommend for someone who has poor but usable vision. I regret I can not recommend it for screen users. I think by that it may be screen reader users, I think. Anyway, as the support is not as responsive as freedom scientific Dolphin, I believe is a much smaller company and the product is not as responsive or customizable. It is fair to say that I have been a JAWS user for nearly two years, so improvements might have been made.
My employer has been very supportive and provided both SuperNova and Fusion on the assumption that surgery may recover some sight from their own resources, as where I live, there is not a scheme that allows me to apply for funding as there is in some other countries. Regrettably, however, the problem starts here. Our phone system, which incorporates softphones and desktop units, which have touchscreens for login, is completely inaccessible.
The system was upgraded a few months ago with no thought by the IT section to check if some accessibility facility could be set up. The main bank system is inaccessible and we are waiting for a company to script this. Again, my employer is happy to fund depending, I assume, on cost. However, I am already having to prioritize functions I need immediate access to. They have upgraded their copier scanner, and again, while some accessibility bolt-on appears available from the manufacturer, it is not been purchased.
I am not certain if the specific model we have is compatible, but so far the best solution the supplier has offered is a large TV over the machine. Clearly, not an option in a bank and even at my best vision, this would not have worked, but would probably not have been needed. They have now implemented an HR system, which is web and app-based and appeared accessible when I first went in. It was flawed because there were no headings or regions for JAWS to use, however, we are all used to this, sadly.
Having dived deeper, however, the product is nearly unusable and at best would be incredibly inefficient to use. I raised this with HR and demonstrated with my work laptop and phone. They have fed back to the company who have acknowledged but said that this is on the development worklist, and the time scale can not be provided for a fix. This I regret was the final straw. I have never had to raise an issue like this with my company, but wrote a fairly lengthy paper detailing that whilst the company’s equal opportunity policy was well-worded and meant, it was not being followed.
I stated that if I were to walk into the company with all my knowledge and experience, I could not be trained to do my job. I am now being held back by the lack of accessibility and a patch fix provided by scripting will mean that, should I wish to progress, I can not easily apply for an internal move because I cannot be sure the software I need will work. My old role would have been filled to allow me to move. I am disappointed to say thus far that the reception has been mixed, but not entirely negative.
I have emphasized that we have an advantage employing a disabled person who has lived experience, and who can therefore act as a point of reference when looking to purchase new systems, improve the customer journey, et cetera. I hope this will bear fruit. However, my point at least is that while technology is a great enabler, we all use office, edge, et cetera, and forget we are blind because the use is seamless when we have learned a few shortcut keys.
However, when care is not taken by developers and employers don’t ask the right questions or hold them to account for failings in this area, it is also a massive disabler. I have worked for my employer for nearly 16 years and have no intention of leaving, however, I sincerely hope that they will see my approach as constructive, and we can progress together to create an environment which matches the words in the equal opportunity policy. As a side note, I believe all the offending technology is either provided by UK or US companies, who should be bound by the ADA or equality act.
Certainly, our parent company, a UK company, should have this requirement. I think this is a very large factor in disabled unemployment and should be urgently resolved, especially given Microsoft, Apple, Google, and many other providers efforts in this area, which provide guidelines and structures for developers to follow. Further, organizations, such as AbilityNet in the UK, as well as IRA and IB, do excellent work in providing support for companies if they would just reach out and take it.
I hope this will help some listeners to reach out to employers, and maybe we can improve matters for everyone. Thank you for raising this really important topic. We have, in my organization, understandably a 100% accessible policy. We take it very seriously and it is important that disability provider organizations lead the way. Sadly, not all do, but you are right to raise those and to advocate in the strong staunch way that you are, on this.
Technology has so much promise, but if proprietary solutions are used or unorthodox industry-specific solutions are used that go off the beaten path, it isn’t too long before we see the considerable promise that this technology offers, turned to frustration. That will only change if we take this issue on. All the very best to you. If you have a story to share about some sort of environment in your workplace where you’ve had accessibility challenges, did you leave? Were you successful in overcoming them? Did you get a sympathetic hearing?
I’d really be keen to hear about this. Drop me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call the listener line. That number is 86460 Mosen, in the United States, 864-606-6736.
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Jonathan: Here’s an extraordinarily concerning email from Pete. He says, “I was interested to hear Brian’s comment regarding the TP-link smart plug, and specifically the accessibility of their app. I have their deco’s spelled D-E-C-O mesh WIFI system. The app has never been great but using a combination of experience and screen recognition, which you need to switch on and off, I have managed to achieve most of what I wanted.”
“A recent apparent change in UI, however, left me effectively locked out of the app as there is no help text available, and the navigability of the app is poor at best. You will see that I raised this with TP-link who have responded to say that they do not plan to support voiceover. I am not done here and plan to escalate my complaint, which it now is, rather than a request for tech support or simply feedback. I need however, to check if it contravenes advertising standards stating that the app provides simple setup while being inaccessible.”
“Also, whether it causes any issues with the UK’s equality act. Living in Guernsey, which still has no discrimination laws, they are in draft and certain elements are still trying to water them down, I think it is more useful to reference a larger jurisdiction with millions of customers, rather than a tiny rock with 630,000 inhabitants. I will keep you posted on progress, however, please feel free to pass my attachment to Brian if you think it would be helpful. Also, tell him not to waste his money at present.”
“If I were not already in the TP-link ecosystem, I would clearly not purchase the deco system. Although, as I mentioned in my first message, I have been happy with its performance to date on what are fairly undemanding domestic uses. I contend that my money is just as hard-earned as anyone else’s and why, therefore, should I not be provided with the same function and enjoyment of a product as anyone else? As you have a more global reach, perhaps others may have opinions on how this attitude sits with the laws in other countries.” Pete has sent me correspondence between himself and TP-Link UK, and I won’t read it all, but I will read you their last email. This is from TP-Link UK, which says, “Hi Pete, thanks for coming back. I have just passed your below feedback to our HQ team, and they have replied the below,” and I’m quoting. “Currently, we have no plan to support the voiceover feature on the Deco app, but we will keep recording the customers’ suggestions, and then forward them to the product development team to evaluate and then improve the Deco app.”
“If the customer has suggestions, we can collect them first, but we can’t promise this feature will be implemented on the Deco app.” Then it says from the TP-Link UK People, “Your understanding in this matter is highly appreciated.” I do see this from time to time where people think that making an app accessible is somehow a feature, so they have chosen to interpret Pete’s request for voiceover support as a request to support a specific app rather than doing the right thing and making sure that their technology is accessible to all.
I will reach out to TP-Link, see if we can find somebody in media relations who will come on the podcast, and we’ll see if we can do a little bit of re-education here. It’s just not acceptable in 2021 that they think it’s okay to blatantly say, “We are not going to make our apps accessible to everybody.” Whether they choose to couch it in language that makes them think that this is about supporting the voiceover screen reader or not, the effect is the same.
They’re making a conscious decision not to prioritize accessibility, and that is just not on in 2021. In the meantime, Pete, more power to you, fight the good fight, keep us posted.
Sarah Hillis: Hi, Jonathan, it’s Sarah Hillis here just with a quick perspective on the idea of forgetting blindness or forgetting that we are blind. This has to do with just the experiences I’ve had over my lifetime of becoming friends and intimate acquaintances with people who are sighted, who are not my family. Actually, there are some people in my family that have never been able to, “Forget I’m blind.” The reason I put that in quotes is because it’s a way of saying something that’s all to do with them, really. When someone says to me, “I forget that you’re blind sometimes.”
What it means is, they finally understood that when I move my hand around on the table in a concentric pattern, I’m actually looking for something that I know what I’m looking for and I know generally where it is, rather than groping, as one might say, blindly, for something and I don’t know where it is at all. Or, when I– see this happens all the time using blindly in that context. When I walk toward a table and appear to almost hit it, it’s because I’m trying to aim for the table so then I can ping off it almost in a sense to aim for something else, for example, sometimes or just find the table.
They’ll understand that I have techniques for doing things that they don’t have, and it’s now no longer a source of, “Oh my gosh, you’re going to hit the table. Oh my gosh, you’re going to knock over the glass,” or “Oh, here let me get that for you.” It’s all their own perceptions of our vulnerability that they then forget because they get to know us. I don’t think that’s a problem.
Jonathan: Well thank you, Sarah. I have to say I got this message and I listened to it and I did not understand it and I left it alone. I came back a day or so later and I listened to it again. I’m still not sure I fully understand it, and perhaps it’s just a different experience for different blind people but what I have found is that typically, people think of blindness as a negative thing. When they say, “Oh, I forget sometimes that you’re blind,” they intended to be a complement and often it’s to excuse a lack of accommodation.
I think what you’re saying is that sometimes it just happens at face value but I think quite a lot of the time it could be interpreted differently. It’s a phrase that can vary in its meaning quite a lot. To give you an example, I can sometimes turn up to a meeting, and somebody is running PowerPoints and they have not brought a copy of their slides in a way that I can access, so say on a thumb drive so I can copy it across and take a look, or maybe sending the presentation in advance or whatever.
Then they say, “Oh, sorry, I forgot that you’re blind,” or someone generates a pdf file from an image and I say to them, “I can perform OCR on this pdf file,” but really that is not the best way to go about making a document accessible. They say, “Oh sorry, I forget that you’re blind.”
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Steve Nichols: Hi Jonathan, Steve Nichols from Australia. I have the Apple Watch Series 6 and I’m having quite a few problems with the heart rate data. I have a seeing-eye dog and when I go out walking in the mornings with my seeing-eye dog, I get very high heart rate readings. When I set the watch to an outdoor walk in the workout app, I’m coming back with readings of 198 to 200 beats per minute on a regular basis. The watch is currently up to date as from today and once again, I’m still getting the readings.
I’ve tried a few different things to see if I could work this out, I recalibrated the watch. I went into the Apple Watch settings on the iPhone, went into privacy and recalibrated the watch and this didn’t work. I decided to reset the watch to factory settings, and I’m still having the same problem. I have tried different bands on the watch, I’m currently using the braided band, and I put support loops on and still no different, still getting high readings.
I even tried using my wife’s Apple Watch Series 6 and came home with a reading of 200 beats per minute. I then tried putting the old Series 4 back on, and the Series 4 I’m not having this problem on the left wrist or the right wrist, but when I put the Series 6 back onto the right wrist to see if it’d make a difference, the readings weren’t too bad. I’d like to wear my watch on the left wrist, and really don’t know why this is happening.
I contacted Apple and Apple seemed to think it is because I’m holding the dog’s harness handle in my left hand, and it could be giving false readings for the heart rate data. That’s the only solution they could come up with. I’m hoping maybe your listeners or yourself as a bit of a guru with the Apple Watch may have some ideas on what could be going on, when I’m wearing my Series 6 on the left wrist when using the dog. I do have a personal trainer where I work out several times a week.
I set my watch to workouts during a training session, and yes, I can get my heart rate up to maybe 150, 160 when I’m really pushing it, but that’s doing a full workout. I seem to be only getting these very high ratings when I’m out walking the dog going for a casual walk.
Jonathan: That is a peculiar one. Thank you, Steve, it’s good to hear from you. I should tell listeners that the first thing I did when I got this email and heard the message was to write back to Steve and say, “Mate, are you absolutely sure that these readings are false readings?” I would hate to have left this message until we had a chance to play it on the podcast only to find that something terrible had happened to Steve.
He tells me he is in touch with his doctor and as you heard in the message there, he is working out regularly. He’s got a personal trainer, and when he wears his Apple Watch Series 4, he’s not seeing the problem, so it does sound like the readings are false. I just wanted to be really sure about that. I don’t know the answer, but I understand what Apple is saying that if you’re wearing your watch on the wrist of the arm that the harness is in, then it could be jiggling up and down and maybe the dog bumping along is being interpreted as a heart rate.
Then the question remains, why is it behaving differently in the Series 4? Is there something different about the heart rate technology in the Series 6? There could be because there have been changes to accommodate new features like ECG, so perhaps that’s how it is. If it’s doing it for you, then it may well be doing it for other people who are guide dog handlers and going out for a wander with their Apple Watch on. Let’s see if we get anything back Steve. Interesting question. David Vander Molen has been learning new things.
He says, “Hi, Jonathan, I recently found out how to get Windows 10 to save clipboard clips. Using JAWS, however, I can’t seem to access my saved clips list when I want to paste any one of them into an email or document with Windows + V. Is this something that can be done only within VDA and the Razor? I know JAWS has a feature that allows you to append clips to the clipboard, but that is not what I want. Any help on this would be greatly appreciated.” Thanks, David.
Well, it works for me, which I guess doesn’t help you much but I’m using the latest released build of JAWS 2021 on this machine. Let’s take a look at how to set it up and how it’s supposed to work. To make sure this is set up we need to go into the Windows settings, so I’m going to press windows with I.
Tom: Settings, search box, find a setting edit.
Jonathan: That puts me in the Windows 10 settings and I now can find a Windows setting. I’m going to type the word Clipboard.
Tom: Five results.
Jonathan: Now down arrow.
Tom: Clipboard settings.
Jonathan: There’s clipboard settings which is what I want, so I’ll press Enter.
Tom: Search box, find the setting edit, search box, find a setting edit.
Jonathan: Now I’ll press Tab.
Tom: System list box display.
Jonathan: I’ll press Tab once more.
Tom: Clipboard, clipboard history. Save multiple items to the clipboard to use later, press the Windows logo key + V to view your clipboard history, and paste from it, dot button on.
Jonathan: Now it’s off by default. If you’ve never used this feature before, you’ll need to press the spacebar to enable it. I’ll press Tab.
Tom: Sync across devices, paste text on your other devices. When this is on, Microsoft processes your clipboard data to sync it across your device’s dot button on.
Jonathan: This might make some people feel a bit squeamish because if you turn this feature on, then your data is going to be sent to Microsoft. It behaves very similarly to an Apple feature which has been around in Mac OS for quite some time, where fragments of text can be used on other devices. It’s actually really handy but if you have privacy concerns, I understand why you might not want to enable this. That’s all there is to setting this up. I’m going to now go to Notepad, I’ll go to the start menu.
Tom: Search box edit.
Jonathan: Type Notepad.
Tom: Notepad app, press right to switch preview. Notepad app. Untitled notepad edit.
Jonathan: Now we’re in a blank document in Notepad and I’m going to type a few sentences. We’ll start, this is a test of the Windows 10 clipboard feature for Mosen At Large. All right, we’ll just read that back.
Tom: This is a test of the Windows 10 clipboard feature for Mosen At Large.
Jonathan: It’s interesting the way that Tom pronounces the word clipboard, but there we go. I’ll down arrow.
Jonathan: Now I’ll type a second sentence. I am now typing a second sentence, and should I type one more? I’ll type one more. I will type a third sentence. Now, I’m going to copy those to the clipboard one at a time. I’ll go to the top of the file by pressing Ctrl home.
Tom: Top. This is a test of the Windows 10 clipboard feature for Mosen At Large.
Jonathan: I’ll select that text by pressing Shift with down arrow.
Tom: Selected. This is a test of the Windows 10 clipboard feature for Mosen At Large period.
Jonathan: I’ll press Ctrl C to copy it to the clipboard.
Jonathan: Now I’ll down arrow.
Tom: I will type a third sentence.
Jonathan: Where is the second one?
Tom: I am now typing a second sentence.
Jonathan: There it is. I had to up arrow to get to it. I will select it.
Tom: Selected. I am now typing a second sentence period.
Jonathan: Press Ctrl C.
Jonathan: Now that has just as it has always done, overwritten the clipboard.
Tom: Blank, I will type a third sentence.
Jonathan: Now I’ll select that.
Tom: Selected. I will type a third sentence period.
Jonathan: Copy it to the clipboard.
Jonathan: If I select all of the text in this notepad document by pressing Ctrl-A.
Tom: Selected this is-
Jonathan: Then Delete.
Tom: Blank, blank.
Jonathan: We have a blank document. When I press Ctrl V to paste from the clipboard-
Jonathan: I’ll read the current line.
Tom: Blank. I will type a third sentence.
Jonathan: It’s just the third sentence that was pasted, which is exactly what we would expect that is standard Windows 10 behavior. I’m going to clear the document again by pressing Ctrl-A.
Jonathan: Then Delete.
Jonathan: Now though because we’ve enabled this feature in Windows 10 settings, I can press Windows with V.
Tom: Clipboard, list box, last synced at [08:20].
Jonathan: If I down arrow.
Tom: I am now typing a second sentence.
Jonathan: We’re moving back in reverse chronological order, so if I up arrow-
Tom: I will type a third sentence.
Jonathan: That is the third sentence which is the last thing I copied to the clipboard. I’ll down arrow.
Tom: I am now typing a second sentence.
Jonathan: I’m back to the second sentence and if I down arrow one more time.
Tom: This is a test of the windows 10 clipboard feature for Mosen At Large.
Jonathan: Now if I want to use this bit of text from the clipboard, I can press Enter. I’m back in my document.
Tom: Store untitled notepad.
Jonathan: If I up arrow.
Tom: This is a test of the Windows 10 clipboard feature for Mosen At Large.
Jonathan: I have pasted that text from the clipboard history. It’s a very handy feature indeed and it seems to be working okay with JAWS 2021 for me. As David rightly says, there is a JAWS feature which I use every single day and I use it to compile my today in history segment for the Mosen Explosion and for other things as well. This is that if you want to copy a series of things to the clipboard, you can do this in JAWS itself by pressing the JAWS key with Windows and C, every time you want to append something to the clipboard.
The first thing you do is select your text and press Ctrl C in the normal way, but then when you want to append rather than overwrite text on the clipboard, you press the JAWS key and Windows and C and that will append text to the clipboard. You can append as much text as you like and when you’re done, you can paste the whole thing into a document by pressing your normal Ctrl V keystroke. It is such a handy feature.
Once you start appending when you press Ctrl C to copy text to the clipboard, JAWS will give you a warning and say, you’ve got multiple items on the clipboard, if you do this, you will clear those multiple items. Are you sure? It’s a feature that is so handy.
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Jonathan: Michael Penteledis is in touch and he writes, “Hi Jonathan, I am loving your podcasts on voice recorders, mics, et cetera. I currently have an Olympus LS-P4 because it’s very small and can record at 96k, 24 bits, and has mostly spoken menus. I use it to record my travels, but I am wanting to upgrade to something that has better quality of sound even though this is not bad at all. Can you or your listeners recommend something for me, please? I also use a Rode lav mic. Thanks in advance for any help.”
Thank you, Michael. For those who are interested in some of those podcasts that we have been doing on microphones and the like, a lot of those are exclusive to the new blind pod maker feed. Do search for the blind pod maker in your podcast app of choice and subscribe to that. We also do the blind podcasters roundtable on clubhouse every week and you’re very welcome to join us there if this subject interests you. You know what I would do in your position, Michael?
I would just get a really decent quality mic for my iPhone and use that with a good quality app like Ferrite. You’re probably carrying your iPhone with you anyway, why carry another device that could potentially be lost? You have a fully accessible experience, you can move the recordings into iCloud or Dropbox, or OneDrive, Rode does a lovely kit with a couple of lav mics, and a dongle that plugs into the lightning port with a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack that is called the Rode SC6-L and it’s a great setup.
You could do that and just use Ferrite on your iPhone, there are also other really good mics that can be plugged in directly to the lightning port of your iPhone. For portable recorders, I would refer you to a few episodes ago where Tim Cumings talked briefly about a new Zoom field recorder that’s very small, which has 32-bit float. Now, there are a lot of advantages of going with a 32-bit float recording particularly for a blind person because you can record at any level.
Even if the recording is too hot or barely audible, you can rescue it afterwards in post-production thanks to 32-bit float. It’s a genius invention. That might be one worth considering as well. If you have a recommendation for a high-quality portable recorder, then please be in touch, drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. My phone number in the United States 864-60 Mosen. 864-606-6736.
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