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Android setup out of the box; it’s come a long way!

I love testing products like the one you will read about below. When I was a kid, I took apart toys, radios, record players, cassette players and other things to see how they worked. My love for testing came from that. I like to take things apart and see what is inside. I have tested software and hardware over the years, but never found a career in doing this for a living.

Recently, I had the rare chance to actually test a product. I set up a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 for a friend and found the experience rewarding. I rarely get the chance to test products for usability, so I eagerly jumped on this. I do scout for jobs, but haven’t found any that would fit my specifications for testing for usability by a totally blind person, either the companies I look at want a degree or they are using products where you need to see to use them. I have no engineering degree, just 41 years of experience with life as a blind person. I would love to do something like this as a career. I’ve been told I write very well, so you will see this below. I did not take note so if I leave something out, my memory is starting to go. Maybe too much beer? 

I opened up the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 and looked at its arrangement of buttons. It was quite easy to figure out. If you hold the device in portrait mode, the headphone jack is on the top right. On the right side, the power button is the first one down, followed by the volume rocker. The home button is located on the bottom of the device’s front panel.

There are slots for a micro SD card and a SIM card on the left side. On the bottom are two speaker grills left and right and the power connector to charge the unit located in between the two speaker grills.

Before I turned on the unit, I wanted to see how to get TalkBack, (Google’s assistive service), activated on Android 4.2. After using google.com, I found that you simply hold down two fingers on the screen until the unit tells you that TalkBack is on. I must say the TTS voice Samsung uses is more pleasant than the default TalkBack voice.

Once I did this, TalkBack gave me a crash course in using it. I followed the instructions and finished it with little difficulty. Sometimes, the angles were a bit off, but it was no problem for me. I am no stranger to touch screens, as I use an iPhone and iPad on a regular basis.

In the three years I’ve been away from Android, Android has come a long way! I last used a phone from T-Mobile with a slide-out keyboard. You could draw your finger on the screen, but you couldn’t tap the item in question. You had to use the circular button on the bottom of the phone to make a selection and press on it to activate the item.

I set up the device with WI-FI turned on. I did run into an issue with typing in my WI-FI password, but fortunately, I had a Bluetooth keyboard handy. The letters did not speak when attempting to find them. I’m not sure if that is common or if it was the device. I did switch from Samsung’s TTS voice to the default TTS for Talkback to see if that was the issue, but it was not.

After that minor issue, everything else went smooth! It was tough turning down the 50GB of DropBox space for two years, but I skipped that and other things the device needed for personalization.

The last step I did was update the Tab 3 to Android 4.4.2. Happily, that went off without a hitch. TalkBack spoke when swiping to items on the screen. One difference between TalkBack and VoiceOver I found right away was everything is not found by swiping. For instance, to find the “Install” button to update the OS, I had to explore the screen to find it. I do not know if explore by touch was on, but that may have been a PEBKAC problem.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with this device, and am thinking about getting my mitts on one or maybe a Nexus 7. Time will tell!

Android has certainly come a long way and based on the out of the box apps that comes with the OS and the limited time I had to play with it, I am impressed!

As a side note, if anyone is looking for a tester, contact me! I would be happy to assist in any way I can. My contact form is on the front page of the blog. You can also leave a comment if you desire.

Posted in Assistive Technology News.

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Is the Health Department God?

The Health Department does inspection on restaurants here in the Augusta area. Why am I telling you this? Read on to see why this post is titled the way it is.

I brought Chip home on Friday the 31st of January. The following day, Denise, Amanda, Barbara, DJ and I went to eat at Dairy Queen located at 2837 Central Avenue. We normally eat there after Denise finishes with her weight Watchers meeting.

After we placed our orders and finished our meals, I proceeded to go outside. The proprietor walked outside with me. He expressed a concern about having my Leader Dog in the building. He wanted me to tie chip up outside the restaurant. Continued…

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An Update on Chip

I received a new Leader Dog named Chip on January 14, 2014. He is a yellow lab, weighs 60 pounds, and is full of energy to work!

At first, Chip was hesitant as all new dogs are. They do not have a reason to work for the new handler. The dogs are changing caregivers/handlers again, so they do not know if they will be passed off again. They start off with the mother, then sent to Leader Dog, then to the puppy raiser, then back to Leader Dog, then to the trainer who shows them the ropes, then finally to us. That is six changes in under two years. Think of it as a kid moving six times before he reaches 14 years old. I do not have to tell you what goes on in a fourteen year old’s body!

Anyway, back to how Chip is doing with me. As each day goes by and as we gain experience as a team, his confidence as a Leader Dog boils over! My instructor says Chip has the most confidence she has seen in her seven years here at Leader Dogs! She also says my ability as a handler is outstanding. Couple those two together and you get one hell of a good team that will grow closer quicker!

Chip has done very well with obsticles, crowds, curbs, finding objects, and anything else I’ve wanted him to do.

He still is excited to see Sue and the other instructors here, but I believe that will not be an issue once we leave campus.

Since I worked with Chip, I’ve only gone on my own with him a couple times. He is focused on his work. He is also focused on his good looks, as he likes to catch his reflection in the windows we pass.

The weather has been cold here, but I love it! I especially love the snow! We have not been able to do our normal training with temps in the single digits for the highs, and Chip is anxious to work! He would not be happy with an 8 to 5 job where he is stuck under a desk. He loves to go, go, go! Now, if I can find a job like that! LOL!

Tomorrow, Chip gets his checkup from the vet. If there are no unforseen problems, we are home free a week from Friday and we can start tearing up the town!

Posted in Uncategorized.


Max Is Going Home

No, Max hasn’t crossed, or is going to cross the Rainbow Bridge any time soon. Max is going to enjoy a happier life than I can currently give him.

For my new areaders, Max is a retired Leader dog who has given me nine and a half years of his life to guiding me and being my companion through good and bad times. He has always been a very happy boy.

Max was officially retired from Leader dog service on July 24, 2013. Titan, Denise’s Leader dog, was retired on the same day. Both boys are Golden Retrievers issued to me and Denise from Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester, Michigan.

On August 30, 2013, Titan crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Since then, Max has been looking for him, hoping Titan will appear. When we go out to eat or run errands, Max has no companions dogwise. The poor guy is sad and has no one to accompany him except for our birds. It breaks my heart to see him like this, and I feel it isn’t right to do him this way since he gave me years of enjoyment and companionship.

After talking to Max’s original puppy raisers about taking Max for his final years, I feel Max will get what I cannot give him. He’ll have plenty of dogs, rides, and most importantly, people he knows and that will care for him. He will be going from one warm and friendly home to another. This home can offer him what I can not give him in thanks for his years with me. Max is a part of me, but he is extremely sad here.

I feel like I am betraying him, but he will be much happier in Nebraska. for one thing, he will see snow, something he has not seen since I brought him home in 2004. Max will get to roll in the snow along with other dogs.

Max, thank you for the years you have served me. thank you for the companionship. Thank you for always being there with me through the good times and bad times. I wish I could give you more here, but you will be getting what I cannot give you in Nebraska.

Denise and I will be going to Leader Dogs in January to get successor dogs. If I left you here, you would be more sad because the new guys would be going with us and you would be stuck here at the house.

Be a good boy for your puppy raisers. I hope to see you in pictures and videos. I’m sure I’ll be kept up to date on how you’re adapting to your retirement home.

Love Wil and Denise

Posted in General.

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Racial Profiling in Sales?

I am sure if you ask anyone if they have ever been ignored, they would say yes. However, the type of ignoring is new to me of which I am about to explain.

Racial profiling is still alive and well today. I have seen it done to others, but have never done it or had it done to me until yesterday.

I was not brought up to hate another man because of the color of his skin or treat them differently, but evidently, it is still out there today, despite the movement of the sixties.

Yesterday, I went to Target to trade in my first generation iPad. Both gentlemen were black but served different roles. One guy worked at Target as a salesman and the other was part of the trade-in program. The Target salesman was extremely helpful, but the trade-in guy seemed to not notice me because I was not black. I inquired about the trade-in and found that if I were to want a new iPad Air, I would get over $200 back. If I just wanted to trade in the first gen iPad, I would only get $65. I figured what the hell, let’s just trade this in.

I stood near the counter for at least ten minutes while at least six black customers came up and were assisted eagerly by the trade-in guy. Finally, the salesman from Target asked me if I would like to go ahead with my trade and I said yes. During this exchange, I was only asked direct questions and not given extra small talk like the other customers received. No thank you, no how are you doing, nothing of the sort.

Denise experienced this at Kay Jewler’s two weeks ago pretty much the same way. Now, if I was a store and served people, I would treat everybody the same, no matter their race. It bothers me to no end that this is still ongoing today. Are we a divided nation? it sure looks that way!

Posted in Opinions.

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Victory is mine, bitches!

Here’s the proof! I achieved the challenge!

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A Wing Challenge

Here is a challenge I did on October 15, 2013 with and . The object of it was to consume twelve wings in six minutes. the challenge was a lot of fun to take. It’s long, but well worth the view!

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Hello from a Cromebook

It sure has been a while since I have posted anything new in the blog. Not much has been going on as far as jobs go, but I have had a few opportunities present themselves to me.

First, my voice has been included in Swamp 2.9 as The General. Overall, I have gotten high compliments on the voice from other players. I am thankful for the opportunity to do this.

Secondly, I have been chosen by Google to test out ChromeOS. They sent me a Samsunt XE303C Chromebook. I do like this little guy! It is very conveenient to whip out and jot down thoughts, browse the web, listen to baseball, and as soon as some issues are addressed, I plan to try out a few apps for watching videos and listening to audio from my network. Right now, I am unable to install apps and extensions, but it’s probably because I’m running the Dev Channel. A fix should be coming down the pipe soon. I would like to thank Google for the opportunity to do what I love to do, test to see if I can find problems that exist in products.

That’s about it for now. Until next time…

Posted in Assistive Technology News, General.

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A recording of savanna River Rapids

Posted in Uncategorized.


Dad’s Nemorial (part 2)

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