Random Musings, Some Serious, Some Not

As you may have noticed, we’ve been making a number of changes to the Blind Confidential blog web page.  We’ve added links to other blogs (if you have a blog about blindness issues, please inform us of it and we’ll probably put it into our list).  We’ve also added links to many of the companies and organizations we mention frequently in the posts here.  I found that when reading this page with the links embedded in the stories that the choppiness of the speech annoyed me so, rather than putting links to businesses and organizations I frequently make reference to in the article itself, we put them into the side bar links.  We’ve also only have had blind people working on this page so far so we’re going to have a sightie give it a quick once over to make sure that it works for the photon dependent among us.

While I try to remain as objective as possible in my postings, I have noticed that I slant strongly in favor of JAWS, that I am fairly objective on Serotek, Code Factory, ViewPlus, henterMath and Dolphin but that I have a definite slant against GW Micro and Window-Eyes.  I hope to rectify this lack of objectivity in the future and thank old friend Earle Harrison for the dope slap over the weekend.

My day job has me working a lot on smart technology these days.  Just a couple of years ago I had evaluated the idea of doing something with the PAC Mate to make it understand UP&P and write some software to enable it to communicate with some devices equipped with the protocol.  Then, though, I could only find about 225 products that supported UP&P and fewer for other smart technology protocols that used anything resembling a public protocol.  Even with 225 products, most of them were routers and other hardcore nerd gear so making software to provide a PAC Mate speech and Braille interface to such seemed like a waste of time.  In my recent research, though, I’m finding more than 50,000 smart products ranging everywhere from dishwashers to streaming audio players to thermostats and beyond.  This is very cool and I look forward to building a user agent that blinks like me can use to access all of this cool stuff.  I also wish that I could afford to retool my entire house with smart products but, alas, we’ll take it one step at a time.

I’ve been reading a lot about blind athletic events around the world.  As regular readers know, I’m actively involved in Project Paddle Odyssey (link in side bar) and I’m happy to say that we’ve finally got our online ebay based charitable auction approved.  In the next week or two, start looking there for great prices on ZoomText, EaseReader from Dolphin and other products related to access technology, musical lessons and, of course, fishing gear.  If you would like to become a sponsor of PPO, go to the web page and send us an email.  We also accept cash donations on the web site.

It also seems, by the volume of news stories that I read, that more and more art exhibitions and touch tours for us blinks are popping up all over the world.  I will probably pull a number of these reports together for an article here next week.

Can blind people use a tablet PC?  I’ve been engaged in this conversation with John Gardner, CEO of ViewPlus and Professor of Physics at Oregon State University.  It certainly provides a number of possibilities with tactile overlays and “live” drawing programs with output to a refreshable graphics display like the one from KGS.  I plan on doing more exploration into this area and will write more as I learn more about it.

So, what’s up with Jonathon Mossen?  Once upon a time, he was a journalist in the blindness world who wrote and broadcast among the most credible articles in the AT press.  Now, he’s doing pod casts of he and his kids doing the dishes and an all love song Internet radio program.  Who kidnapped the real Jonathon and replaced him with this guy?  All kidding aside, I’m glad to see my old buddy being so happy in his new life here in the states.

I live in Florida.  It along with Ohio is the only two states that will issue a license to a blind person to carry a concealed firearm.  I’ve been pondering this issue and think I might have a cool new invention.  We’ll start with a Glock 9 mm semi-automatic handgun.  We’ll add to it an infrared receiver that sits on a cap that a blink can wear that focuses beyond the barrel of the weapon.  We’ll use an iPAQ to process the infrared image and lock in on the heat signature of a human being.  Then, using force feedback technology attached to the gun, the system will move the handlers aim toward the human subject and alert the blink that it is time to shoot.  This way, we can protect our homes with deadly accuracy and not shoot up too much furniture.  Of course, if both grandma and an intruder are in the same room there might be some unfortunate collateral damage but that’s life in America.

Enough random musings for today.  I’ll probably be back on more pointed topics tomorrow.  Thanks for reading.

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I'm an accessibility advocate working on issues involving technology and people with print impairment. I'm a stoner, crackpot, hacker and all around decent fellow. I blog at this site and occasionally contribute to Skepchick. I'm a skeptic, atheist, humanist and all around left wing sort. You can follow this blog in your favorite RSS reader, and you can also view my Twitter profile (@gonz_blinko) and follow me there.

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