My Chromebook Adventures Part 1: What’s The Scoop?

Dear Readers,

So I got a new chromebook, and here’s what I have found. I love it. What else? I”m writing this blog post using my new Chromebook, equipped with two screen readers working in tandem. First, there’s Chromevox, which is built in, and it works relatively well with my app here. The problem is I’m using E-Speak, a robotic sounding thing that drives any decent human bonkers. Oh well, the clear voices will come next stable update. I can’t wait. Trenton says I’m nuts. But oh well, I’m not kidding.

In the post I’m writing here, I can do just about anything. Also, my upcoming posts will I promise you finish off Brave New World. I know some of you will probably go bananas if I don’t finish Brave New World. But I will because it’s important.

Also, I want to thank those of you who like my podcast introduction, and I’m going to do more with that intro sometime in the next few episodes. Maybe even forever. It depends on whether you people actually like it. I’m going to try background music too, but thinking I need more interviews. If you want to be considered for an interview on my podcast, just follow my rules on the website and write me.

What I might consider doing is something like interviewing ordinary people. No, not darn celebrities, so Kim and Donald, you’re not coming. But there’s more interviews we’re going to consider. And this season will end around Juneteenth, which if I’m not mistaken is June 15. Then I’ll take a break and come back for a fourth season.

Right now, I’m stuffed with chicken and dumplings, poor Trenton won’t eat those. Makes me mad, but oh well. Meanwhile, Trenton is just sitting there listening to white noise and such. He does this a lot lately because maybe I drive him crazy a bit too much. No, it can’t be. E-speak doesn’t exactly give me a clue as to what the hell I’m writing, so I’m gonna hang this up for now.

Beth

Apple Fitness Plus: My First Impressions

Dear readers,

I’ve got my fitness goal started, and I hope that there will be exercise every single day for the next 365 days in the year. The reason? Well, I’ve been on and off meds for more than twelve years, and don’t like the side effects, plus I heard a friend got gastric bypass surgery, but that’s too risky. I don’t want to take risks and lose weight that way because it would mean cutting my stomach up. Ugh.

What I’m here to write about is my first training with Jessica, one of the yoga instructors. Well, all the trainers do different stuff in Apple Fitness Plus, and let me just say the app is fully usable with voiceover. It’s powered by your apple watch and integrates tightly with workout app and the exercise rings. So how to close your rings? First, don’t forget that you can go on DND on whatever device you’re using, I learned that the hard way, especially on iPad or iPhone. Or you can use the Apple TV to do workouts on, and then you choose the workout you want, then make sure your watch is bluetoothed and unlocked, then press play on the watch. Then, away you go. I want to talk about a yoga thing I did with trainer Jessica. She’s pretty amazing, and I brought back my inner yogi. Let’s talk about this.

First, Jessica is a fast paced but easy flow trainer to work with. I haven’t done others yet, but will do soon. Second, yoga trainers generally describe how to do the workouts in detail, but you have to have some working knowledge of yoga in order to do this.

I think I could be a yogi at heart, and I enjoy practicing yoga because you don’t have to worry about the no pain no gain thing, and I feel a bit more flexible now than I did before. Core training is very cool, too. But let’s face it, I still have to do the workouts correctly. Jessica always recommends that you go at your pace, and if you don’t understand a move, you’ll understand it later on in some way. Jessica focused on spinal and low back twists and such, which is great for women. I’m talking to you, prenatal and postnatal women at most. However, I think a lot of other people could benefit from lower back and spinal twisting and a bit of warrior pose. While I got in to postures, I had to remind myself that this wasn’t Hot Yoga anymore, and I dare not use the name of that guy who invented it. He was a weirdo, so they changed his studios to Hot Yoga. India is the birthplace of yoga, but a lot of people love it, and it works a lot. Jessica even understood the resting poses like downward dog and such, things I need to get back into at all. I felt at home with her, so far. So far so good, but there are improvements I would make.

One, I think the trainer and all trainers, according to some Apple Vis subscribers to the forums, might want to consider describing and doing textual word pictures for the totally blind yogis like myself, but if you’re doing core or HIT (high intensity training), you should know how to do all the moves, and getting a good description of each move in a small attached screen is a great idea. Also, you can share the playlists each trainer does in Apple Music. I’m going to try that, and there are lots of treadmill and cycling training things, but bear with me. I don’t have a bicycle or exercise spin bike. Why? Because what else? No room. My apartment is a teeny tiny box, and we can’t put too much other crap in here.

So what is my rating for Apple Fitness Plus? I’d say 4 out of 5 stars because of the need for descriptions of movements, not in the workout tracks themselves, but anywhere and any sort of screen attached would work fine. However, this is a great way for all of us, including the deaf and blind, to get our fitness goals met. Please note that though a totally blind person can do fitness at all, we’re going to have to bear with the trainers. What I wish the thing would have done was to show my heart rate at other times too, but it was cool that voiceover read my heart rate metrics, all as shown on my watch. Another thing, my watch announced that my exercise ring was closed. Awesome, right?

Today is an all three rings got closed kind of day, but let’s be real. I want to make sure that my body loses that weight and gets stronger every day. Chicago would be absolutely proud to hear me sing that song, stronger Every Day. That’s my theme song, so my dad would say.

Anyway, tune in for more fitness journeys with me, the denver queen, here in the blog. There will be some good stuff happening.

Thank you for reading this and have a wonderful happy new year.

Beth

Letter to the Racist Hackers who Threatened My Partner’s Life

Dear readers,

I know none of you readers here are responsible for the Denver Post’s twitter account being hacked, but let’s be clear on this. No newspaper or journalistic site deserves hacking, especially by racists. My partner’s black, and I won’t evacuate the city on january 1, as one tweet said. Do not use racial slurs when you tweet about this entry, by the way. I don’t tolerate racial slurs and epithets. You don’t know my wordpress passwords, I’m sure you readers know the rules. Please read the rules on my blog, and there are indeed two different rules pages I’ve created. I need to be frank though, the hackers should be prosecuted for hacking the Denver Post and posting all those racist things on the twitter account. The Denver Post’s editor in chief clearly said that the tweets don’t reflect the views of the post, but Trenton, my partner, and I do not ordinarily read the post unless it’s important. That’s the paper for Denver, but still, if you don’t live in Denver, this doesn’t apply. Hacking pranks aren’t nice. They’re pranks, and they can be scary and lead to prosecution. Here’s a run down of what I will never write here in this blog.

1. I will never write racially charged epithets or slurs against any group of people.

2. I will never support ableism.

3. I will not threaten a bomb on anyone as happened on the Post’s twitter account.

4. I will not bash a particular organization but only state facts.

5. I will never write something that could threaten someone’s very core of life, however if the person I’m writing about committed a crime, including my ex, Nathan Larson, and others, their names go here no matter who or what it is.

6. I will not write that a religion is a cult unless it has the three characteristics of a cult: rigid boundaries, a godlike charismatic leader (such as Jane Whaley), and a rigid chain of command. There you have it.

Please note that this blog is not a bad place for anyone, and I want to make every effort to make sure that whoever is responsible for hacking my friends and the Denver Post and or my blog or anyone else for racist purposes is prosecuted under the full extent of the law. Period end of topic.

iOS and iPad OS 14: Creepy or awesome?

Dear readers,

I just updated my phone, TV, watch, and iPad to iOS 14, and there are some things you need to know about these updates.

1. In order to do voiceover screen recognizing, you need an A12 chip or higher, so a regular iPad 7 won’t do. I learned this the hard way.

2. However, if you do have an A12 capable device or higher, you can read and browse your photos and learn the details of pics. I like this feature best on an iPhone anyway.

3. For the health gurus who use iPhone, make sure you set up sleep mode, and when you awake too early, it asks if you want to turn off your alarm from the watch. I turned mine off, and it didn’t go off on my phone. The watch and phone frequently talk to each other, as you guys might knowFor the ones who want to hear or see more details, please listen to the podcast, the throne Room with Beth Taurasi, and please go to http://www.applevis.com for more on voiceover bugs and other details. You will find some helpful tech podcasts on the site as done by others who are avid users of the products. Also, I love my updates so far because the updates bring lots of great new features and stuff to help me track and get fit and better able to do health stuff.

Ways to Give While You Search

Dear readers,

Do you know of a search engine that gives while you search? Bing is one such thing that gives when you search. Imagine a world bettered by the searches you do on Bing, and I am hooked. Why? Thanks to Trenton, I’m totally hooked because The Center on Colfax in Colorado, otherwise known as the Gay and Lesbian and Transgender center in Colorado is getting my donations. Yes, I got them a whole dollar, but I have 5000 points earned through quizzes and stuff, but you really can search and give. Here’s how to activate Give mode on Bing.

1. First, open Bing on edge or on your phone, but remember, Bing app is not compatible with iPad. Yet. So use Edge instead. When you open Edge, proceed to the bing home page. Or you can go directly to http://www.bing.com/give, and activate give mode. Remember this little hint: you need to be signed in to your Microsoft account first before activating give mode for searches.

2. Choose a nonprofit from the featured list, or you can filter by category and state, and for you international folks, just search for a nonprofit, but most of these are American and international groups alike I think. You can browse categories of all sorts, including those of civil rights.

3. Hit the select button next to the nonprofit you want. Then make sure you hit the Yes button after it alerts you if you want to change your nonprofit, which by default is something I forgot but it looks to be a national org. Anyway, you have the power to give to any org you choose, from religious orgs to youth orgs to civil rights to community improvement orgs. The possibilities are endless.

When you turn give mode on, every time you do a search on Bing, you get points donated each month while you search during the month to the nonprofit of your choice. Here’s my example: every month I search for stuff, shopping and restaurants, pics and all kinds of mess, and I get all my search points accumulated in a donation each month to the Colorado Gay, Lesbian, Transgender center in Denver, better known as the Center on Colfax to my friends who patronize that area. It’s a great way to empower the groups that make a difference in our communities. IF you have any questions about Bing and the giving thing, just ask on Twitter or Facebook because comments here are disabled for now.

Beth

Time for a New Keyboard?: My Quest to Win the Heart of a Bluetooth Keyboard That Doesn’t Stick.

Dear readers,

First and foremost, I would like to address some housekeeping. Thank you so very much for being so wonderful and liking the posts you like, following my blog, and being all around respectable about it. I think disabling comments might have done the trick as far as keeping trolls out. We will continu disabling comments on my blog so that we can write in peace.

Now, I’d like to tell you guys a dirty little secret. It’s not sexy, but this is a secret I haven’t told many people. My Logitech k480’s been acting strange lately, and I wonder if it’s time to put a new keyboard in its place. What do you guys think? We’re researching a bunch of different ones, and I have a Zagg portable folding one for going out, but yeah, I loved this k480 for a long time. I wonder if I need a divorce or is it over for us, me and Logitech? We will only see.

With the keyboards we’re looking for, we want a multidevice bluetooth thingamajig that will actually work, charge and recharge, do clickity clicks to different devices at the touch of a button. So which ones should I consider? Please, guys, comment on Twitter or FB if you have either. IF you have neither, well, email me at denverqueen@gmx.com

Beth

The NFB and HBO

Dear readers,

Do you wonder what is going on in an episode of Game of Thrones? Well, the National Federation of the Blind has a good set of resolutions here, including one commending Netflix, and another deploring HBO. HBO is seriously in big trouble with the NFB for not providing audio description. This I have to agree with. While the NFB is right on with about 90% of its total resolutions, this year’s resolutions are about 99.9% on point. We do need audio description so we can enjoy equal access to everything, and I keep telling my partner and other blind young ones that I can’t stand cartoons, can’t stand fast motion animation without description because hell, I can’t see. HBO should discount all the membership fees for blind people not getting audio described content. They also need to have AD for everything … absolutely everything, because a sighted person doesn’t need that. Netflix has done a hell of a lot more for us than HBO, so let’s keep that straight.

What does the NFB need to do more of in terms of resolutions? Perhaps the code of conduct on sexual harassment needs to be addressed. Perhaps we need to also address the objectification of blind women in convention and training center settings. Perhaps more can be done to prevent the 95% rape of women with comorbid disabling conditions. This I know. So how do we go about it without farming off the resolutions committee to study it? Or without farming off the orgs for this purpose? Think about it, and get back to me later.

Beth

Star Trek: What We Have and What’s Coming Next

Dear readers,

First of all, some housekeeping and thank yous. Thanks to the generosity of followers, I guess comments aren’t necessary. However, if you guys would like to cool off and comment like in the watering hole I call Facebook or Twitter, that’s fine with me. Now, on to the meat and potatoes.

Star Trek in all its glorious awesomeness has gotten a lot of future predictions, and I’d like to cover a great deal more than I should about Star Trek, but there are a few things I’m going to cover that might fascinate you lovely people out there. To start with, let’s take a tour of the Holodec.

If you’d like to learn more, I have an article about the holodec, but let’s explain what that actually encompasses. We’re talking virtual reality, but you also see it in Total Recall and many other scifi movies and shows, but virtual reality can make some folks kind of sick. Holodec tech is a close encounter with reality, and to learn more, check this article out.

https://docker.theconversation.com/star-treks-holodeck-from-science-fiction-to-a-new-reality-74839

For the medicine and health category, I’d like to say we don’t quite have the tri quarters there yet, but we’re working on that one. However, we’re able to use the data collected on such devices as … well, I have a wristwatch that detects my heart rate. Isn’t that snazzy? And Star Trek tech is predicting that we will be able to diagnose and treat cancers and diseases. What I’d love to see would be stuff to make food with, replicating things that the Star Trek universe has everywhere you look. The Star Trek universe could have never been more right about self collecting data with medical devices, and what I think we’ll see next is a way to do glucose checks without poking our brains out with needles. Could the same tech we use to check oxygen levels be the same thing that scans a blood vein in your finger and looks at the glucose in it without poking? It would help a lot, and it would save many precious lives.

For societal categories, I think that would have to go to female leadership. Yes, I know some of you think Catherine Janeway is annoying, and I don’t care what anyone thinks, but in Star Trek, women rule. Women and minorities have greater voice and say in everything, but there’s only one problem. Jordy, the engineering guy on the Enterprise, is blind, and wears a special visor that lets him see everything. Could this so called Jordy’s Visor help me, you might ask. I say no, because of the anatomical structures of my eyes and how I was born, and the eye development simply did not happen. It might help those with vision, like this guy I know, he calls himself “Illegally Sighted”, but the visor might help correct the visual acuity things he may have or develop later. However, for a totally blind from birth person, the treatment would have to occur at infancy, and moreover, the eyes would have to be operated on a lot. No, I’ll pass on that.

For the hardware category, there’s a uttload of things I could say Star Trek and the modern space age predicted, and got 99% right. I now have a walkie talkie on my wristwatch, my phone is also portable and I can carry it anywhere, and I also have lots of chips in my computer equipment the size of a strand of hair!!!!! Think about it. As a blind person, I also use Braille which can b replicated with pins and such on a small board thing, a display that basically forms the words. It’s like the crystals in your tablet that form the printed words. Imagine what your kindle fire looks like on the inside, then tell me if Star Trek predicted that. I could go on and on, but I’m going to talk about virtual things in another article.

So what did Star Trek get wrong? Well, hard to say really, except I don’t see Klingons in real life, and honestly they fascinate me for whatever strange reason, but we don’t have sentient beings in intergalactic communication areas … yet. We’re searching for that, but I am still waiting for that ET phone home call from an alien from Mars, just not the aliens from Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius, the ones with the weird bodies that try to eat Jimmy’s and the other kids’ parents.

Thank you for reading, and have a great rest of your day.

Beth

What happens when Steve Jobs announces the iPad and Gets the Surprise of His Life?

Dear readers,

It’s kind of weird when the founder of Apple is portrayed as he was, and I have no problem with Steve Jobs … honestly, I know he had to be an asshole to get his work done and get the company back on its feet. But Steve Jobs now has his own set of YouTube poops, and his daughter might want to consider reading or listening to what the YouTuber did here with Steve’s iPad announcement. Oddly enough, I’m sharing this on my iPad 7th gen, a well loved tablet that many apple freaks bow down to and worship but still, I think it was the iPod that was Steve’s crowning glory. Here, below the dotted line, is the video of Steve announcing the pad and getting heckled, as seen through the lens of YouTube poop partygoers, and I have to warn you, the joke’s on everybody who listens. It’s funny, and if you laugh, I’m still not responsible for guts hanging out of the bodies of those who die laughing. You may want to consult your families before listening to this, but don’t put anywhere in your death wills that “I died because of a YouTube poop of Steve Jobs.” So here you go.

What BTTF (Back to the Future) Got Right and Wrong

Dear readers,

Who here has watched Back to the Future? Who wants to know what Biff is up to these days, or has a passing recollection of the Chicago Cubs breaking the Billie Goat curse? I don’t believe in baseball related curses, and never have I believed in the Curse of the Bambino, please don’t ask what that is if you can avoid it, but yes, Back to the Future got a few things right and wrong. Here’s what the predictions stated:

Hover boards are a thing, but not as big as one would predict in BTTF. When Hover Boards got invented in 2014 or 2015, one of those being a year that our hero, Marty, ends up traveling to, hover boards are everywhere. However, these hovering substitutes for skateboards got a bad rap when they were found to be explosive, fire hazards, whatever, in real life. Now they’re getting there, but a bit later than BTTF predicted.

The world series in baseball has been a contentious thing of dark and good legend, the stuff of reality being a lot weirder than BTTF has predicted. The Chicago Cubs managed a world series title in 2016, not 2015 as the headlines in BTTF predicted. Biff probably would have stolen that prediction because that’s just him. Biff is evil, weird, and altogether hard to deal with.

What Back to the Future does not truly predict in our future is the invention of myriad technologies that enable all of us to connect, to be together, to be able to do more than we ever could. Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and Bixby among other personal assistants, including Windows’ Cortana and Hound, all of these were invented around a scientific concept known as machine learning and artificial intelligence. Many people are very aware of this, but machine learning goes deeper. For example, BTTF did not truly predict the things that music services will be doing in our lifetime. LEt’s take a look at Apple Music, for example. Apple Music predicted that I would be looking for things I’m in the mood for, and there’s a whole tab there called “for you”, a place where I can look at new releases from my favorite artists, and it predicts with smart phone precision what I do want to hear, but when I pick things out, a row appears that says, “because you like this artist” or “because you like that artist.” Want a better explanation?

Let’s say you chose to add Millennium by the Backstreet Boys to your music library. I love the Backstreet Boys, and truth be told, still listen to their older and newer musics. When I added their albums and discography to my music library, a thing in the “for you” tab popped up and said, “Because you added Millennium/the Backstreet Boys”. Or it would say, “More like the Backstreet Boys”. Then, it would show you things like the music similar to the Backstreet Boys and their bubblegum pop genre of music. There you have it, what BTTF almost couldn’t have predicted.

The other thing that BTTF could have never predicted was the societal changes that could occur in the 1984 or 1985 future. What I want to see is clear: equal rights for all, no hate crime, etc., but 2015 saw the legalization of gay marriage before, transgender bathroom bills were the big topic, but then you had gun control, black lives matter not having been as big a movement as it is now, but there are many other things to think about. In BTTF and its weirdness. In one scene, Marty’s friend Jennifer gave him a note with a seven digit number, but not long after the 90s came to a close, we all went the way of ten digit dialing. Ugh. I hate it, hate it, but it does have its benefits. You can call out of state numbers with no long distance charges these days on a cell phone. Jennifer and Marty could still talk and text in our future, whatever the weather, but still, we have yet to invent the hyperloop.