This is just what I think and only what I think. I am going to keep it easy and simple. Don't be surprised to see one post about food and the next about stuff. I don't categorize anything. I look forward to your comments and more importantly calls and e-mail.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Going viral

Now I'm home once again I started to look up who was commenting about the project. It's almost impossible to count them all. Everyone seems to enjoy and have fun with the idea. The SeeingY seems to get a life of its own. The Tweets the bloggers and anyone that knew about it all had a good laugh. I'd like to think Yahoo for letting me participate in this project. I've made so many more new friends that are important to me. This would not have worked without the support of the entire Yahoo accessibility team. Alan and Victor I appreciate all your support at the show. However the biggest heartfelt warm thanks goes to Ted I wish you were there having fun with the rest of us. I really appreciate all your hard work on the backend taking linking an all-around cleaning up made the project. Next time I hope you will be able to have as much fun as the rest of us. I'd like to encourage anyone out there to comment or tag any of the pictures that you recognize. This can only work if everyone else.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

CSUN last day

It’s over and I am worn out. I just turned in yesterday . so here is the last days report. View plus has a new spot dot. However this is a mammoth. It stands almost three feet high and two feet long. The only way I could describe it is to think of two small file cabinets side by side. The one in the back houses the paper and print mechanism. Then the front one is wear the Braille is produced. This is a very fast unit and can Braille both sides large format paper. I forget how fast she said it works but it seems to do a good job. This will never be a embosser most of us will ever want. A large production house might be able to keep it busy enough to make it worth wile. I wonder how many production houses there are any way.

I then took a quick trip over to APH . at long last there is a new book port. Although many of you will have a hard time recognizing it as a book port. This new model is a plex talk pocket that has different firm ware on it. The differences are all in the user interface and the navigation.

More familiar but smaller was the Envision America new id mate. To my frustration it’s much more of what I would want then the one I got only a few months ago. The summit as they call it is less than half as big as the Omni and works much faster. The software lets you change the settings without having to re write the files on your computer. in long descriptions you can fast forward and rewind the message. I asked for the next version to add a pause as well. I like to find some of the things in a recipe and then here the rest so that would help more.

My last two stops for the day were side by side just to make things easier. Perkins and Olympus. Perkins has there newer Brailler. I really wish that the old design was kept. As I was speaking to the woman a little boy came up and started to play with the unit. The lady proceeded to show him how to really use the unit. This little boy had used a Brailler in school and was only using it the way he knew how. This new unit takes a little more dexterity just to move the carriage back you must push down a button and squeeze a button and move all at the same time. It requires you to reach over the unit to do this. I had a bit of trouble doing this what about a person with soar hands or bad dexterity. I liked the old one better. The little boy was banging on the unit and after all if the unit can’t take a banging how would it hold up too Daly use in the life of a student. I will keep my old one thanks.

Olympus has a new voice recorder that is there most accessible one yet. Keep an eye out for it this summer. I praise them for making a player that we all can use. They have a good effort round of applause from me.
Victor and I then met and I handed off the pecan cam as it was time to go home. We spoke about what our next steps would be and you will just have to wait to see the next round. This was a lot of fun and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did

Many people had travel problems as there was a water main break that shut the airport access off so I hope all of you that were at CSUN made it home safely. I would like to thank the hotel staff for there exhalent service. The staff all seemed to know just what to do and did not try to be over helpful. It’s nice to not be dragged here and there before you can say no. this is a massive hotel and it will be hard to learn it. I definitely found myself walking in circles in some of the wide open spaces. Next year CSUN let the hotel keep the chairs, tables and plants in the upper halls. They will provide land marks and places to have a short meeting or just rest from the excitement. See all of you at CSUN next year.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Csun day 3

CSUN 2010 day 4
Hello: today I saw a lot of fun things. I looked at a few aac booths and played with a new toy and went to a party.
There are a lot of venders selling augmentative devices here this year. It seems like when I walk through the door of the hall the first 5 or more booths are aac. I hope to have a few of them come up to cal and work with a few students that need new systems.
I went to a presentation on an RFID indoor navigation system this was a project at the Atlanta va hospital. They had a floor that was first designed with RFID for a cleaning robot. The robot would use the tags to make sure it cleaned the hole floor. This expanded in to a system that would tell a blind cane user wear they were in the building as there cane touched a tag. The reader is in the handle of the cane.
Then I went to the presentation about oratio for black Barry. This seems to have come a long way. The product first announced at CSUN last year is now out and shipping. I really like this and I respect the vender for being open with the audience. He came out and said clearly and without being asked if you asked me if we were better then talks or mobile speak I would tell you they have been around for ten years now and we are only new we might not be as clean or polished as them but we will get there fast.

The thing I thought was the best for today was the pearl from freedom scientific. It scanned and started reading faster than I have ever seen a ocr package work before. It started talking before I pulled my hand back. It was very small and I think it with a net book would rock. Dusty the product manager said he won’t ship it until its faster yet. Not a phone like the knfb reader but for a student more effective I think.

Well I am dropping on my feet here and I want to sleep. So no more for today. Next week I will do some clean up of these posts and see about adding links or more but not for now Lucy. . as fast as we can.

Lots more booths today and many more of the same ones I saw yesterday I am getting way to lost in the hall I keep going back to the same places. I saw ginger soft and tack tiles and a lot of cctvs. So many I thing I saw them over and over again. My favorite thing I saw today was the freedom scientific purl. It’s a new camera that will work with open book it was really fast. Dusty the product manager said he won’t release it un till its twice as fast as it already is. It took almost no time to scan and start reading a page. I could barely pull my hand back from pushing space before it would start reading.

day 2 CSUN 2010

Today I spent the day going around the exhibit hall. I cannot tell you how hard it is to be asking every two feet or so what booth is this.

The most outstanding thing I saw today was a product call Braille 2000. This software lets non Braille users format and transcribe brail. This sounds like a interesting tool for collaboration between Braille and non Braille users. I will down load a copy and play a little with it when I get home.
I sure like the nip on Braille displays. They have a new blue tooth model that will sell for a good price. I asked them to give me an approximate price and they said not definite but it would sell for less than 500 then the current low price on the market. It’s a very simple display so if you want a keyboard entry system it does not have it and the only thing it has is brailed with a single row of cursor keys. Simple Braille out and nothing fancy but , it does the job.
Well it’s getting late and I will check back in tomorrow got to sleep some time or pecan will wear me out smile

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

day one of CSUN 2010

Well today was more of a testing day then a reel working day. I met with the yahoo group at 10:30 this morning and they handed over the pecan cam, as everyone is calling it. We had a little trouble getting it to stay in place and I am still fighting it a bit but I hope to win this one by tomorrow after noon.
The reel problem is that if I stop moving the cam goes to sleep and the whole thing does not come back like it should. We have sent e-mail to the software vender and to nnokia to see if anyone can help us stop this from happening. I will update you all tomorrow about how that goes. Everyone here loves the idea and I am starting to set up a few interviews to post when I get home or before if I get the chance. People here are having a lot of fun and really want the project to work every one wants a chance to be on the pecan cam.

Now for my basic brake down of the day.
As much of the day was spent fixing the cam I needed to step in and out of meetings. However I saw a good presentation from a Dublin university professor and grad student. They were working on a mechanism to standardize tactile graphics and there elements. The goal of their project as I understood it was having a repository that people could contribute graphics to and others could ad audio labels to and yet others could sync both and so on down the chain. This looked interesting and I will keep a better eye on it in the future. I think they had some good ideas and I liked the open mottle they were using.
Next I when to a presentation from adobe and was frustrated to see them speak about digital additions and speak frankly about how in accessible they were. I was called away before the speaker got to the answers part of the presentation. I will check in with him again to get more information. At least they are saying that they know the problem, now let’s give them a chance to fix it.
Another interesting presentation was on audio menus. I loved this presenter he really put venders in their place he did not hold back and told it the way he saw it. He has been researching different ways to present menus quickly and effectively audibly. He spoke about spear cons and audio cons and ways to use pitch and volume to get information about the menus. Check out his work at the link on the stream.

At 4 today the exhibit hall opened and the reel fun began. I was able to get a few good views for all of you. We will get much more tomorrow. Whenever we could we linked to the exhibiter I was speaking with was added. If any of you want to add more please do so thanks. Hope some of you had fun watching today.
Well the last fun thing for the day was gw micro had an announcement party and they showed a new book sense with a screen witch I will try and get one for the lab and a new voice sense as well. Gw also announced the changes to the UI of window-eyes. The new interface will be a single dialog and you will be able to make configuration changes more quickly and all at once. Sounds good I always like being able to do things faster.
Time for bed, as tomorrow looks like it will be even fuller. I hope to make the gnome presentation and a presentation about eBooks. So let’s see how that goes.
Pecan is waiting on dinner so got to run

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Non-CSUN Tech

I am almost ready to leave for CSUN. I was doing one last check of my mail and was pleased to see all the responses. This is going to be very exciting and we will all benefit from the experience. If the advertising mail I am getting is any indication, there will be many iPhones at the show.

I thought I would take this last post before leaving to talk about one of the truly exciting things in my life. My husband Mike is working on the most exciting project/product in my world. For the past year, Mike has been working on an autonomous car. In his role as an advance development engineer for Sun Microsystems and now Oracle, Mike helps projects get off the ground. For this particular project, he is consulting for Volkswagen & Stanford. This collaboration includes many different Silicon Valley companies. Mike's part in the project will bring real-time Java into the car. He has written the hardware drivers that will allow for fewer computers to do many more jobs in the vehicle. Yesterday he said his software is now installed in the car and has already removed two computers.

For me, this project is extremely personal. My only real frustration and regret about being blind is transportation. Each day he works on the car it brings me one step closer to complete independence and autonomy. Mike and I have a long time understanding: when the first autonomous car is available our cashier’s check will already be printed and my name will be on the registration papers. Two years ago, I had my first opportunity to ride in an autonomous car. Tommy, one of the 2007 DARPA urban challenge finalists, was brought in for JavaOne. The Saturday before the conference, several staff and family were given an opportunity to ride through three Sun parking lots in the car. I cannot describe how exciting this was my first taste of freedom. It was a somewhat overcast day, which did not bode well for Tommy's GPS guidance. The first person to get a ride was one of the Sun VPs. The car gracefully pulled away from the meeting area and did a beautiful job following its course. Just as the car was returning to the group of excited watchers, it missed the last turn and drove up on a curb. No damage was done and people were still clamoring to be next. Very shortly after this, it was my turn. Mike and I climbed into the back behind one of the chief engineers who was sitting in the passenger seat. If you did not know better you'd think you were in England. But the steering wheel was on the left side of the car where it should be. It was a very short ride but one of the most exciting of my life. There was a point when we were under heavy tree cover that we needed to intervene. However, this was still a prototype 10 years before predictions say a autonomous cars will be commercially available. I could feel the tentativeness of the car as it moved its way through the course. I never felt that there was a problem. Even when we got under the trees, the car just stopped. Trust me- riding with a person is much more dangerous than that. I've been in cars where the driver scared the daylights out of me with their poor driving. Tommy was just young and maybe a little cautious.

The car Mike is currently working on, Shelley, is destined to climb Pike's Peak in the summer of 2011. She will travel at a constant speed of 130 mph. You can see a promotional video that Volkswagen made on youTube here: Stanford Audi Autonomous Vehicle.

The goal of the project is to examine how an autonomous car can maintain control past the limits of traction. This test may not be something a car ever has to do but the next time you slip on black ice you will appreciate the research and how far it is going. In the next two months or so, Shelley will have her first public tests. I hope to be there to cheer her on.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Follow the Flickr Photo Stream!

Just a quick note to pass along the link to the CSUN photo stream. The stream will be taken from my guide dog's harness handle.
I will do my best to make sure you have some great shots to tag.
The Flickr stream is sponsored by the Yahoo accessibility lab.
My guide dog Pecan is a six year-old yellow lab from Guide Dogs for the Blind. She has been guiding me for over four and a half years now. She is a small dog and she fits anywhere. This may mean that some pictures will turn out rather strange. It's all for fun. Any tags you can add to the stream will help any followers that are blind. Remember: this is a collaborative project so your comments are always welcome.

What Do You Want?

While preparing for my trip to CSUN I started thinking about what people might want to read on this blog. After going back-and-forth, I decided the only way for me to know is to ask all of you. Here goes. My interest for this year is Internet access. I plan on going to as many of the web accessibility sessions as I can. If anyone has a question about web accessibility please make a comment or e-mail me and if I do not know the answer, I will ask the experts.

Every year I go to a conference I am always looking for a new Braille display. Maybe this year all find the right one. Is there any device or types of devices that you would like me to look for, or is there an item that you want me to look up?

I want to keep this fun but also informative. Who knows: I may even interview one or two vendors and put the recording up for you all to hear. Well back to my packing in more tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When We have access to it we like it

This week the Paralympics are on'm enjoying it quite a bit. This website has all the games they will even show you some live. I am finding it interesting for me as a former Paralympic.
Athlete to watch how much the Paralympics has caught on. The first day of wheelchair curling had an extremely full house. Who would have thought any form of curling could draw such crowds. Downhill skiing with all the different classifications was also very fun. I am looking forward to some of the later games in hockey as I understand they get very aggressive. I wonder if sledge hockey fights?

Monday, March 15, 2010

When it works it works well

Technology for me means many different things. However the more I use it the more I realize how flawed it could be. For example when I first started to write this entry I couldn't for the life of me get my speech recognition to work. All I did was close the program and reopen it and all of a sudden even the stuff I say a little rough comes through beautifully. Sometimes I wish that I just didn't use as much of this technology is ideal. It's frustrating when you know how well it can work and all of a sudden it stopped working. 95% of the time Dragon NaturallySpeaking works so well for me that I don't even have to think about or struggle with my writing. Other times like I just spoke about I wonder why I ever started using it.

Everywhere I go today some form of technology needs to be used. A machine to buy a ticket for a train of thought and to push for an elevator or the little pad the waitress carries that wirelessly sends your order to the kitchen. I am a long-time reader of science fiction enough to know that many of the things science fiction predicts may never come true. However more and more of them do every day. For me I consider this to be one of the most exciting times to be alive. At the same time I still think that I don't belong here in any way. As a blind person all these wonderful new technologies inevitably have the kicker. That little thing called called site means most of these new inventions won't work out of the box for me. Just a year ago I remember going out to hunt for a new stove for our kitchen. Even a simple gas stove with only one feature take your temperature had a digital display and non-tactile buttons. What on earth were they thinking what was wrong with the old dials that you could turn to a certain point and it would always be 350°. Instead even the still has a computer and an accessible computer at that. After all if they didn't have these computers manufacturing of stoves has come so far that if they made in the same way they used to improving on the original design they might never break we all know that things that never break yet exist otherwise the market for new items would disappear. Maybe I'm just a little bitter but all I really want is a computer that works consistently and is still that I can always be assured me my bread and roasted my chicken.