Fire TV Review

Dear readers,

While my Roku review is something I’m sure a lot of you might have found controversial and unbelievable, the Fire TV review is equally as concerning to me to write. So let me get to the meat and potatoes.

First, the Toshiba Fire TV Edition I own. The first thing to notice is that Ivona is used in the voice view screen reader, and Sally is much more discernible than the crappy flight voice in the Roku. The price is $359 plus depending on your country, and VoiceView is available in all parts of the world, especially U.S. and Canada. The fire TV does not, however, do free channels the way Roku does. A point off.

The one thing I like about my fire TV remote is how slim and beautiful it is. Yes, I know, you’re probably thinking, but what about the Roku? It’s the same thing, slim and beautiful, but the Fire OS Alexa remote has some beautiful features to it such as the distinguishable microphone button so you can talk to Alexa, the Amazon assistant. I could find no such button on the Roku. But the weird thing is that the roku remote has an app companion for smartphones which is more to say than the Fire TV remote. No points off for this one though because to each their own.

Is it possible to do cord cutting? With the Fire TV, it probably is. The Roku has more free options, however, but you can get more out of Fire’s voiceview. The overall rating should be 9 out of 10, which is more than the Roku got on my scale. I’ll talk about cord cutting challenges for blind people next entry.

Beth

My NEw Christmas Toy: a Roku Review

Dear readers,

I’m going to put this first entry of 2020 out there for the guys at Cord Cutters’ News because blind people looking to cut the cord should know the truth about a few things, and I want to start with a review of an affordable smart TV solution.

Meet my 32 inch TCL smart TV powered by the Roku smart operating system. It’s a little tyke, and compared to its older sister, the Fire TV edition, the Toshiba we bought for $359 plus at Best Buy, this one’s only $129. I was able to pay for this bad boy with a gift card, and two antennae later, I’d just about spent my whole $150 allotment on this stuff. So, now that you know the price I paid for this, let’s get to the meat and potatoes.

First, for blind people outside the United States, Roku is the bane of their existence. This will appear in the feedback list I’ll provide below. But let me talk about Audio Guide.

Yes, the guide works, and it is somewhat discernible. Roku made this accessible by use of the Flight speech synthesizer, which the female version of this voice is more of a problem for some ears, but I had to strain to listen to certain letters, and in some instances the keyboards had to do military alphabet call words associated with those letters. The hardest letters to hear are the ones like e, g, v, b, and p. A and J are fine, but those other letters are harder to hear with the crappy voice driver they’re using. Not complaining, however, because there’s a lot of personality to this affordable new system.

AS a blind person, the first thing you ought to know is I love entertainment modes. Netflix and Hulu work okay with Audio guide to set up at first. Hulu was harder to do because the code for activating the darn thing took many many tries to fix, and my fiance who’s also blind had to do it in the end because of the … well, should I say ultracrappy synthesizer lettering in the codes? We tried to get a discernible code, and it was a bear to set up. However, when we did get the darn thing to work, Hulu still had options for audio description that worked on the Roku and Fire TV alike.

While I’d like to say Roku is amazingly awesome and such, I don’t know for sure if the picture is right, and I’m totally blind. One thing I’d like to see the company do is focus its efforts on making the Roku free stuff described for blind audiences, especially those with total blindness from birth who’ve never seen, but when descriptions come alive on screen, we have our visual cortexes activated. This is scientifically proven, and Braille does the same thing. Roku should especially work harder to provide cord cutters who are totally blind and visually impaired with more options, other than antenna TV, where description is present. I’m serious. Now, for the ultimate feedback.

Because blind and visually impaired people exist all over the world, Roku must make an effort to deliver audio guide to other countries and other language groups, i.e. Spanish or French or Portuguese and Dutch. The blind in Europe and Canada don’t have audio guide as an option on Roku, and therefore are stuck with Fire OS or Samsung, both high end and Sony, another high end option. However, I’m going to be blunt. Only offering audio guide in the U.S. will be bad for the overall Roku user experience for those who are blind living outside it. Therefore, points off in the rating.

Another bit of feedback I already mentioned above. Making sure the apps work with audio guide will be challenging, but worth a good fight if you’re ready to yell at a few weirdos, tell someone else they’re a jerk, or go above the heads of Netflix Customer Service, and that’s a stretch. Points off.

Another bit of feedback, Roku televisions are highly affordable, but should blind and visually impaired people be stuck with a crappy synthesizer driver that they can’t understand? I mentioned the Hulu setup stuff, but there’s more. What if I tried to set up Prime Video? Netflix? Apple TV is highly usable with audio guide, but audio guide’s greatest weakness is, according to many Roku adopters, its altogether crappy synthesizer choice. Points off.

I love the sounds the TV emits, and the speaker is not bad. Thankfully, I can instantly turn on audio description on my Comcast xfinity streaming app channel thingy I added to the home screen. The trick is to navigate with the directional pad. The remote is simple, and you can reprogram some of the bottom four buttons. They are from top to bottom as follows, this being a Walmart TV: Netflix, Hulu, Roku Channel, and Voodoo, Walmart’s own entertainment service like Hulu and Netflix. Actually, I mixed two of the bottom buttons up, but you get the picture. There is a star button, which is great for doing options and menus I need to access the stuff I look for. The direction pad is a plus, almost looks like one of them Xbox game console controller things. They also have a back and home buttons above those plus buttons. The power button is easily distinguishable, a round thingy on the top that you can easily flip on and off the Roku. What would I rate my overall experience with this darn TV? Well, I’ll give it that the skills can’t access Netflix content yet, or ever if I know what’s up. However, I connected the Roku to both Google and Alexa in my apartment home. It works like a charm, but still needs essential work to be done in the discernible voice and accessing descriptive content category. I’m going to say, for all intent and purpose, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best, this thing gets a 5. So it’s a fifty percent grade for Roku, and I’ll say it will do better, so this thing also needs improvement. To the guy who does Cord Cutting Today, you should read this blog entry because maybe you should consider my review of Roku very carefully. I’ll do a review of my Fire OS TV tomorrow or another day.

Thanks,

Beth

The 2019 Year End Rap up

Dear readers,

I want to wish everybody a happy new Year, and with that said, here is a list of twelve things, one per month, that happened in 2019.

  1. Lots of tech came into our home this year, including a new phone for Trenton and later, a Mac for me. January began as all Januaries do, cold and brutal.
  2. I started a lifestyles clinic, and discovered more about me that I could not discover outside the clinic.
  3. I gained a fan, though there were many people I’ve had to give up on along the way. Some of these people are insensitive to mentally ill people, slut shame women, and take pride in calling me entitled because they’re jealous of how many likes and follows I got on Twitter. These people also don’t understand that there are predators among us in the blind community, and they only want to protect predators. For more on this in general, read Ronan Farrow’s book, Catch and Kill, and you’ll be able to pin this tactic to what these Casanovas are doing.
  4. I was assaulted by a girl I thought shared a lot in common with me, but she turned sour because all she really cares about is one man, a recent ex who quit talking to me. He got bought out by a wealthy woman in Arizona who is despised by my friend Clayton, but this woman is buying people’s brains with her money, and she inadvertently bought out my old friend’s brain and my ex’s brain too.
  5. We went on without the girl, and both myself and Trenton had made a website and a discord server, more on that later, but then I tried to figure out Discord too. We discovered that this app is now usable by blind people.
  6. I joined the Denver Women’s choir that last May, and ended up doing a concert in July or so to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall riots. For more, see previous blog posts on the subject. Sorry if I didn’t tag any of those.
  7. I continued with Soar, and Trenton swears he’s going to support them with his money. Great, because I can’t do the dues, but Denver Women’s chorus wants me to pay $5 dues every month. Their justification is that not everything is free, but well goddamn! I have to pay bills, and everything in life has a bill to it, but here’s the kicker: on SSI, you don’t get more than $800 and the raise isn’t always enough. Period.
  8. I discovered that not having a religion or practicing Pagan religions is better than practicing something you can’t practice because of exclusion and otherwise bad doctrine that conflicts with legal issues regarding marriage and disability. Wicca does not permit anyone to shit on other human beings, and I see no point in elaborating further on the subject because I could be judged.
  9. I tried a Star Trek roleplaying by email game, only to be removed because I supposedly failed their training. Ugh. Okay, but what am I going to do now? My life sucks anyway because I don’t have employment prospects still, and I won’t tell you why.
  10. I’ve spent the better parts of my 2019 battling the Jason Owenses of the world. I mentioned earlier that there are predators among us, and he is one of those people. I wrote a #metoo story about Jason and how we interacted and how he was poorly raised or now being enabled, and worse off, he hurt women and girls in the blind community. To the men out there who think this is abominable, well, if you help someone who traffics in victims and or tries to create victims, you are creating the victims yourselves. For example, let’s say Jason produced porn. I’m just saying. What if he produced child porn on his own, and had edited a child pornographic site. If he did this, he’d be creating victims of the children used for such enterprise. Jason thankfully never produced such things, but other men are helping him and standing up for him and not me. This has to stop, and I will continue to fight for women and girls with disabilities who might fall into this monster’s hands.
  11. I met the most amazing dear friends. Let me highlight these people. Clayton, who is a gifted and talented blind inventor, entrepreneur, rapper, and musician after my own heart; and Britney C., a flute player who swears she’s a fan of all things in my blog. I’d like to point to her blog, Life in the Key of Britney. She has the same things in mind that I had years ago. I’ll talk about the decade in a second but really, Clayton and Britney are the coolest friends I’ve run into. Clayton was one of two people I had problems with in March, but he was the only one of two people that ran off that actually came back. As Eddie Murphy’s character in Shrek often says when Shrek asks why the hell Donkey came back, and why he bothers to hang around, “That’s what friends do. They forgive each other!” And that’s what I’d like to say Clayton did, but someone else did not. It’s times like these you know who your friends are.
  12. Trenton swears he won’t be on Facebook, but I’m trying and failing to get him to see that everybody has one. But in social media news, it was done in the name of sanity when the two people I mentioned earlier that assaulted me or cozied up with wealthy benefactors blocked me. They two got blocked on Trenton’s Facebook because of toxicity and their wish to break us up. Overall, this year we became a stronger couple. Yes, we fight sometimes, but we do it fairly. We managed to get through couples’ counseling, which I would have required of any guy because the guy would have to learn to cope with me. I have been the victim of fifteen years of guardianship abuse.

Now, here are the things that happened in the decade, and moreover, these are ten things that highlight each of the years of the 2010s.

 

  1. 2010 started out as a difficult year. I applied and was denied the chance to go to training at CCB, only to have the Client assistance program tell my parents that fine, she can go to this, but you have to pay $3000 per month she’s there. My parents had no choice. I would not go to Louisiana because, as I’d later say, it’s a red state and it’s too fat, no healthcare, no Title II services or birth control, too Catholic for me. I started in Colorado that May. And I haven’t gone back except for Christmas vacation. I converted to Islam that year, but later, discovered it wasn’t right. See next highlights.
  2. 2. 2011 was the year I ended up not only trying to get back on my feet in college, it was the year I graduated CCB in April of that year. My boyfriend at the time was one of my biggest cheerleaders. Okay, really, I had a cheering section. Now he’s married to someone else, so I won’t go into his life here much.
  3. In 2012, I ended up meeting a guy who would change all the things I thought about men. I left the Islamic community because of concerns about the treatment of women, and I read a lot of books and literature discussing such things. I saw a lot happen in the news that convinced me that Islamic doctrine did not permit blind women to marry blind men, and there was too much ableism in the community in Denver, but it would not have mattered. Jason Owens changed everything. I realize now that because of Jason, I can’t be so sure that someone is legitimately in love with me. Jason ruined my perception of males, and I no longer respect any man who thinks that women are property. Worse, these men say that women should, as property, hold no property.
  4. In 2013, I ended up breaking ties with Jason, and barely struggled to get to the bottom of why he was who he was. In the midst of all this, there was Blake. Blake and I have still been friends since 2010, when we both went to CCB. Blake was seriously in love with me, and we tried. We tried dating in turn for two years and a half, and it wasn’t as big a waste as I thought, but there was a problem.
  5. In 2014, nothing much happened. I did not understand why it all did. The biggest thing that did happen was if I’m not mistaken, Blake’s brother was gunned down by a possessive girlfriend. I started this blog, and became an advocate of gun control and I still want to see an end to gun violence.
  6. In 2015, sadly, Blake and I were history. We broke up that December, and I don’t get this. He was insecure about things like a woman’s right to her body, blatantly telling me I could not have a vibrator or any other supplementary material regarding sexual matters, which bothers me to this day. This is a boundary I could never tell him he crossed, for he could have gotten crosser with me. This is probably why I won’t ever get back with him. Or anyone else, and that December, I met someone else who would ruin things and later, could have changed what it meant to me to be a liberal. Joey was not the smartest chip on the old block, but I thought he was appropriate. He didn’t seem judgmental, but his parents? Oops, judgments rained down on all sides in all places. The Hagemeier family seems to have worn out their welcome because of homophobia and transphobic comments made about friends, and I’ll discuss later why I have cut ties with such individuals. Joey Hagemeier might have seemed nice on the outside but see the next post for more.
  7. It was in 2016 that I met Trenton, but it was in dire circumstances. Joey broke it off too early, of course. He doesn’t know how to treat girls, I thought, and if this is how I’m going to be disposed of, I’m done dating. But then I remembered how isolated I became only in that one month alone. Trenton came into my life, a lover of tech and games, but still a drummer, which to me isn’t a troublemaker in this sense. Trenton is not a troublemaker, but he plays a better drum anyway. We both marched to the beat of the drum together, and have done so for four years.
  8. I joined the Soar Youth and Adult Choir in 2017. It is amazing what that choir has done for both myself and Trenton.
  9. Last year, in 2018, we had decided to try and plan our commitment ceremony, or an unregistered wedding per se. This is unsuccessful because of the following things: loss of friends, no prospects for moving to a better place, and of course, the lack of support from the bridal family.
  10. This past year has been fruitful, and joining the Denver Women’s chorus was the best thing that happened. The guardianship will be gone as of February of the coming year, and there will not be a parent’s name on medical charts. This way, my babies will be safe, Trenton will be safe, and we will have a family. See my previous post for my wish list.

Here’s to the previous decade, and cheers to a brand new year and decade of writing. In 2010, I got my Twitter. Later, I started writing this blog. And moreover, Facebook got bigger and better, but now it crashes. It won’t in a while. Happy new year, all.

Beth