Trying to find normal

I’m writing this in Word for the Iphone. So far so good. Lol but were only few words in. The last month I’v been watching Australian football which is pretty fun I have to admit. I actually wake up at like 4:30 am to watch a match. You have to be down to find your way back up. I’ve just been grieving so I’ve wanted little human interaction and a lot of Australian people talking. Baseball season is approaching and usually now Denny and I would be gearing up for our annual picking where we think the teams will finish in each division. I may put something together and put on Facebook or here.

I’ve been reading a lot also and I’m sot of irritated we live in a society where a social networking site is where we go to feel like we have friends. It’s kind of sad I am friends with a cousin that honestly I don’t know if I would even recognize her voice if she were to talk to me in real life, but yet she comments on posts of mine like were besties. It’s strange to me. It’s something Denny and I talked about the last time we talked. I keep it around, because maybe people will understand blind people are just like them, but maybe that’s just a fantasy.

Besides the AFL I’ve gotten in to soccer a bit. I mainly sleep and then get excited the 2 minutes that it looks like someone is goin t score, but fuck it I’m doing it. Go Chelsea. How you can play 90 minutes and still be scoreless and call it a tie and be satisfied as a fan is beyond me, but again I’m just rolling with it. I even bought a VPN, to get around regional blocks from radio coverage. The one game I listened to that I can’t get in to is cricket. It can last multiple days or even 8 hours for a match depending on the format of the competition. Folks think baseball is long.

Abby and I have been doing well. We went to a German restaurant that was here locally and it was pretty good. She got her passport so were looking to go show Ireland first a good time. I’m excited to go somewhere with her over the pond it’ll be fun and open my eyes to things. I’ve gotten frustrated lately with my blindness everything is the same. I get no amazing sunsets or mountain ranges too look at so maybe that’s why I am so fascinated lately with new sports. I heard this bird chirp the other day from a cricket match in India that I’ve never heard before and it was so neat. I’m not sure anyone can relate to these type of feelings, but it’s ho I feel. I love Louisville but no sound here is any different from anywhere else in America for that matter. One thing I did like about visiting Redman Washington last year is it smelled so good all of the pine trees. That’s something I don’t get here much. Were going to Portland Maine for a week in June and I am so excited because we will be on the Ocean and I’ll hear some new sounds that I don’t hear every day. I guess I your sighted imagine being in a box and everywhere you went you saw the same inside that’s what it feels like lately to me. I wake up walkt work I encounter the same smells same sounds nothing changes.

Even the radio it’s all the same. New York sounds like Louisville which sounds like Florida. I miss local music and personalities. I flipped on a station out of New Zealand and they were debating if streaming tv was a good thing or not. The radio guy took calls and actually listened to the callers and what they had to say.

We went up to Denny’s celebration of life. It was so nice, and it helped me some to be around people who he touched. It was a little overwhelming, but I guess when someone close is no longer around yit takes time. Man I wanted so bad to call Denny and tell him the rules of the AFL or laugh at how much during a broadcast they’d mention McDonald’s but would have to stop short. Then I look at Facebook and see I have 750 friends and yet none of them can make this transition any easier. That’s where I am one day at a time hoping to encounter a new sound or environment or something that makes me appreciate the small things.

Advertisements

This one belong’s to Denny

The subject line is taken from Reds Radio. Whenever the Reds win a game Marty says and this one belongs to the Reds. I thought it was fitting. I hate writing these sort of posts, because they take me so long to do, and stir up feelings and emotion. I was taking a break from Facebook do to it killing my battery and also just the annoyance of it. I find myself for the last few hours refreshing reading comments and thinking. Closure is hard to find on something so unexpected. To get to here let me start in the beginning.

When I moved to Muncie to attend Ball State I met Carlos. He invited me to his and his girlfriends house for a Christmas party. This guy named Denny was there talking about how he couldn’t order food from a website. Me being a smart ass I asked him what screenreader he was using and he said Jaws. I said that’s your first problem it works with Window-Eyes. Man we laughed about that comment for years. I don’t know why I said it, but it just came out. Denny and I would go on to talk for hours. Literally in college I would call him at 11 and we would end at 4 am. Blind people never sleep lol or at least it is a struggle.

Denny was a big baseball fan. Every baseball season during spring training we would pick who we thought would win the world Series and who would finish where in the division. I’m going to miss shooting the breeze. He was so excited about what the Reds were doing this offseason.

We started this tradition where he would come down and we’d watch opening day together. It started because one year the Reds played the Bats I think it was in 2013. Denny, Robin and I all went to the game. It had rained and was like 48, but the wind was blowing. The more we told the story the colder it was lol. Seriously though I froze, and Robin started shaking against my leg so I took off my jacket and put it around her. They played 7 innings and then called the game. I remember we’d get a pizza and sit and watch games. Usually we would watch the Cubs and Reds and than anything else that looked good. The last time he came down for opening day Abby made dinner for us. I think they had 3 games on a Sunday and then real opening day was Monday. I just remember the 3 of us sitting outside, because it was nice all playing dice world on are phones listening to the Yankees game talking about batters and anything else that came up.

I feel in life you meet a few people who help you become better as a person. For me not in any order it would be Carlos, Ethan, Phil, Steve, and Denny. Anyone of those guys I could talk for hours too and just be me. I had a lot of depression and anger I think looking back on it during my younger years and Denny helped me he understood. When I drank to much and had alcohol poisoning in college he understood and when I struggled with just being treated differently from piers he got it.

He was always a helpful guy. I was searching for an email for something unrelated and I found emails he had sent to me years ago. Some for assistance in switching screenreaders some just a link with hey we talked about this yesterday what do you think of this article? He also had a hearing impairment which he never really complained about. I always admired him for trying his best. Being blind and partially deaf had to be tough.

One time I met him and his daughter to see an art project she was working on. We were walking through the building and some lady said it’s cool you bring your son to these events. Not missing a beat Denny said I know thank you. From that moment on I’d randomly call him dad. He was about my dads age minus a few years so it worked. I think the last several times we talked he knew how much I loved him. Well I’d be proud to be his son, but I got to be won of his best friends so that is pretty cool.

Yesterday it was so pretty, and Abby and I went for a walk. I’ve been struggling to sleep lately my clock is screwed up again blind people suck at sleeping. I sleep when I don’t want to and can’t sleep when I do lol. Anyway after the Kentucky game I told Abby I was going to go sleep for a bit. About 11 she woke me up letting me know she had read Denny had died earlier in the day. It’s crazy I texted him about 8 this morning. It’s the funny thing about life is you just never know. Thankfully he didn’t suffer, but I talked to him recently. The Older I get the more I try to let people know you know what it was great hanging out or seeing you. I’m probably annoying or more emotional about it than I would normally be, but you never know when that last meeting will be. In my life as most I’d say I’ve had to say good-bye to early to friends to much it seems. Anyway I’m pretty emotionally tired of writing now. The funny thing is I just purchased a Jaws license Friday, and was going to tell Denny about it so he could have a good laugh. Thank you for all the memories, and I’m going to miss you my friend. Baseball won’t be the same without being able to call you, and complain about how they’re ruining the game. They don’t need clocks in baseball. Love you dad I hope this makes you proud.

I will leave you with one unrelated story. I got in a Lyft Friday to go to work, and the driver and I started chatting. He said last night at the women’s Louisville game the national anthem was so emotional. He said a blind kid about 8 years old belted out the anthem in all red in her Louisville gear. I said well I can’t believe her parents would lie to her she thought she had UK stuff on I’ll forgive her. He didn’t know what to say. Lol I love catching people off guard. On a side note the news reported that an 8 year old blind girl sang the anthem at the game. Why does the news have to put the fact she’s blind in the story? I haven’t heard her sing yet, but if it’s amazing then just let her be 8. I digress maybe one day.

Bose Frames helped me make a friend

I must first start off with I’m typing this on a new product. I’m using a Microsoft Surface Go. I know I praised the all mighty iPad before, but I’ve been playing with this thing for about a week, and I love it. I sold my pro on Ebay Friday. Microsoft has done a great job with making Windows accessible out of the box. I’m experiencing nostalgia with the Surface. I remember being in college lugging a heavy computer around that got hot on my legs while using it, and to feel this device and see it’s smaller than my iPad pro was is amazing. Apple really does need to figure out easier ways to share files and give you a file explorer. I feel like to simply get a file off of the device it would take one 10 minutes to figure out what programs the two of them had to get said file from one person to another. Apple folks are really sensitive though. A friend of mine says the processor sucks on the Surface go, and sure it isn’t a Cadillac, but this horse manure Apple feeds you each year is tiring. Is the new chip in the Pad impressive? Maybe. It’s running a mobile operating system enough said. The Surface is full Windows no comparison. When your pad can run MAC OS we can talk.

Is windows perfect hell no as a tablet d the Surface has a lot to be desired, but I like the fact it let’s me use Word and play some audio games the IOS devices don’t have. It is sad though as a blind person I’m playing 20-year-old games. Not because I want too, but not many new games are being made to play that are worth it.

I got these Bose Frames to play with and test. It’s crazy, but they have helped me make some friends. I’m a chatty fellow normally, but people often avoid me it feels like. For example, I have a bus driver I see every morning. He weirdly grabs my hand to show me where the ticket box is even though I do this task every day, but whatever I just hope he washes. Anyhow I always greet him good morning. He normally grunts at me. On the day I first had the frames on he said nice glasses! I said thank you and I’m going for a more vintage blind guy look. He laughs and says you have jokes. Something if he had spoken to me in the last 3 months he’d know already. Anyway, he continues to talk to me the entire trip to work. I pulled the bell for my stop, and he continued to talk as I exited. The glasses were cool, because I was able to check my GPS without him knowing. I also used them while sitting at church while Abby was practicing. I had them on watching You on Netflix, and 2 or 3 people walked by and had a brief conversation with me not knowing I had sunglasses that were playing music. I really did enjoy them, but they have a few flaws. The first is to turn them off you have to take them off and turn them upside down. Okay fine, but with only a 3-hour battery life you should give me a power button option. Also, my ears hurt or felt fatigue after using them. I did get in to a discussion with a friend of mine who is a doctor. He told me when giving lectures he wears his lab coat, because over the years he’s learned most don’t know how to identify when he isn’t. He said most folks are just used to seeing a blind person with sunglasses and when they don’t encounter what they have pictured it makes them nervous.

I mentioned earlier I sold my iPad well I got in to a conversation with the buyer where I mentioned I was blind. They wrote back saying that they were sorry that I was blind. I always feel weird when someone mentions this. Why are you sorry? You don’t even know one thing about me rather than somehow picturing the best they’re automatically sorry. For example just because your sighted doesn’t mean your living a wonderful life. Should I start asking about your financial situation or job? I just find it strange your first thought is to say your sorry.

I’m debating leaving Facebook soon. I keep going back and forth on it. On one hand I enjoy seeing new things about people. On the other hand I can’t stand the political shit. No matter who your for I miss the old Facebook where it seemed like I was being political. Lol seriously I learned your not going to change anyone’s mind, and rather than be upset or irritated I could just do away with it. I deleted the app from my phone, and magically my battery is doing better. Facebook never came up in apps that were using battery mainly because I never left it open, but it is pretty astonishing the difference deleting it has made. The other thing is the mobile website and the desktop website are frustratingly bad. For a website and app as popular to be so bad is astonishing. Most I’m sure view it on a phone or tablet and never actually see the full version. Here’s a word of advice don’t.

CES thoughts

I am out in Las Vegas for the 2019 CES Consumer electronic show. I am pretty people fatigued lol. Over 180 thousand people come this conference. I saw so much my brain is a bit mushy on it. If your company is making anything with a speaker on it I think you have a chance to do well.

One thing I observed on the first day was when I would ask for a card or paper the person would hand it to my coworker. I decided at that point I wanted to go around myself. I used AIRA and navigated perfectly. I’ve walked in NYC but this was awe full because people are looking at phones and shoulder to shoulder. A few times I lost my connection or the AIRA agent couldn’t see well enough to assist so I found things like an escalator or hallway. I actually met a lot of nice people doing this, but it’s always somehow focuses at first on the disability aspect. This nice man helped me around people just standing and he said my son has a disability. I honestly enjoy these moments though, because maybe for him it was eye opening that his son could be more independent or accomplish what he wants to do. I’ve said this before my parents didn’t really know anyone blind it really is a miracle they just raised me normal for the most part. I think parents try and be to protective at times and don’t let there kids experience life. My parents just let me get drug by a full grown steer. All over the yard

I met up with a friend of mine from CNET Jesica. I’ve known her for a long time from a podcast she and some other folks did. I used to tease her about Android boy did she give me some shit lol. Were going to hit up In and Out Tomorrow and say good-bye we met up last year. I told her she needs to come to a real state like Kentucky and meet Abby. I hear In and Out is incredible I’ll let you know.

Tonight I had some German food and a leader and a half of great beer. I’m doing well. I think this year I am going to learn German I need a new hobby other than headphones and cellphones so that might be one thing I try to learn. If anyone has any suggestions please feel free to contact me just remember it can’t be visual.

We were out walking last night, because after CES closed it was a hour and a half wait for a cab and ride sharing wasn’t much better. We decided to walk to get out of that area. I think about this from time to time, but honestly if I don’t entertain myself life is pretty boring. For example were walking by these water falls that are timed with the music. To me the music and the water fall are both annoying as hell, because it’s disturbing my traffic listening. But then I think on it and I realize I miss that beauty of things. It can be hard I’d like to say fuck it and move forward, but so many nice things I can’t appreciate. Even something like a sunset it’s just disappointing. Not to be rude, but I lately just want 5 minutes of quiet as a sighted person you can go drive somewhere to clear out your mind I get in a damn Uber and have to make small talk. I must have a friendly face or look like a shrink or something, because these drivers tell me an entire life story when I just want to sit in silence. I’ll be fine in the long run, but I just thought I’d share those thoughts.

I am just cranky I’m sure. I miss Abby being around and even Bancroft. Haha he can’t read this just kidding buddy. I’m only sleeping about 4 hours. I’m also pretty amped up. Today I spoke to Samsung about accessibility. They were pretty impressed on my opinions and changes I had. I do love my Samsung stuff as far as replacing Apple I am about 90% happy. I wish I had a way to read PDF’S I haven’t found an accessible client yet on Android. Also doc files from Word. That is somewhat irritating, because things I could do on the phone have become a bit more challenging. Teufel noch mal. For those wondering Google says that is damn it in German see I am already learning! Christ though that’s a mouth full damn it just sounds better and quicker. I’ll get there I promise. Anyway Samsung was pretty responsive and I think the future looks bright.

Sunglasses that have speakers are becoming a thing. Bose has some I want to see, but I couldn’t find them here. I did see some from Aftershocks which are bone conducting. I said if they could stick a camera and make it work with Seeing AI my department head would be over the moon.

I saw some accessibility gadgets too. I won’t mention the company do to where I work and I don’t want to have a conflict of interest or anything, but honestly I wish people would ask someone before assuming the product they make will work. To be fair maybe I needed more time with this, but let me explain. Someone here has this computer mouse looking device that has 1 Braille cell on it. You can change it by moving the device to the right. Basically the Braille changes below your finger but you only can read one letter at a time. Now the dev of this product is I’m sure a wonderful human and I mean no disrespect when I say the following statement. When I told him I can read the Braille but by the third letter I’ve forgotten the first letter alone trying to peace together a sentence. He goes well I met a girl earlier that could do it. Well great good for her proving again I am not the smartest rooster on the farm thanks sir. He goes you just need to change the way you read. Oh really are you an educator now? How about this what if I take you to a room and hold up flash cards with one print letter on it and see if you can read what I am trying to convey to you. Every suggestion I made he’s just like no can’t do that. I suggested maybe putting 4 cells on it so at least you could have some context. My other one was instead of moving the device maybe just put a sensor on the right that would advance once you moved your finger somewhat simulating reading Braille in the first place. Let’s not listen to the blind guy me over here with sight I know more than you about that bumpy stuff you read, and I just can’t figure out why reading one letter at a time would be freaking stupid. Okay I feel better now. For the record some sighted folks do know more about Braille than me I’m sure he isn’t one of them though, but again though I am a dumb rooster.

On that note I am wrapping this up. I do have one more story when I got to the Louisville airport I used Nearby Explorer with the indoor navigation to get to my gate. Before I talk about that I was going to Southwest because for some reason no one was outside for curb pick up. I walk in and this friendly gentleman from Delta started walking with me asking where I was trying to get to. I said I am going to the Southwest counter. He says man you walk fast. I guess in his mind I’m blind so I am supposed to be slow? I just responded yes sir. I didn’t ask for you to walk along side me I don’t care, but it just strange. Anyway once I checked my bag I used Nearby to get me to the gate it was so awesome doing it independently I can’t express enough it’s just me my skills and a computer voice telling me what I pass. I just wish it were everywhere. this time I used my cane no Frazier of course like last time I had done it by myself. I did find every damn rope bar thing in the airport, but besides that it was such a great walk and experience. It just makes me proud that I know the developers and get to test this for a living. I just hope one day blind people don’t have to ask where it is available it just is. I bid you Frieden which Google tells me it means peace in German. I now know 3 words before this blog post I knew 0 so that’s a hell of a start.

Trip to Muncie.

Last Monday I caught the bus and got off at my transfer point. I use an app on my phone that tells me when my next bus is approaching. It goes off alerting me it is 1 minute away. The bus stops but is in the street it didn’t pull all the way up to the curb. I start walking towards it to get on because I thought it was my bus. My cane went around the poll but my face didn’t. I smacked it hard and started to bleed. THis guy gets off the bus and is like are you okay? I’m saying every 4 letter word I can think of in my mind, but I reply yeah. Ending up it was the wrong bus. So I got a bloody forehead for nothing. God that hurt.

Last weekend Abby and I traveled up to Muncie it was a lot of fun. I hadn’t been back for 7 years. I was hoping to fit seeing some people in to the schedule, but we did good. Are time in Indy was so short so unfortunately I couldn’t see Monica and her family, Collin or Jonathan.

We got to Muncie on Friday and we met Carlos for lunch at Scotties. That wrap was so good. I didn’t get a beer that would have been truely nostalgic, but it was good. I told Abby about some of my adventures there. I’d meet Ethan and some guys and on pitcher night and then stumble home. Then when I got Robin I’d walk there have a beer and walk home not so tipsy. After that we took a shuttle ride to the Bell building. I saw the new accessible tech lab man it is so different from when I was there. Carlos has done a fantastic job keeping it up.

One thing I did was get the door to door service set up so we could get around cheaper and more reliably. Muncie is a small town so Uber is setup there but you may not always have one available. We rode out to the Best Western with a driver named Viola. I actually rode with her back in the day to work. She would keep dog treats for Robin and hand them to me when I’d get off so I could give her one when I wanted. Needless to say Robin adored her. Thats one thing I miss we have so many drivers here in Louisville we get to know some, but there it’s more like a family feel.

Anyway we went in to the Best Western and found the desk. The person behind though made no noise and we stood there for about 5 minutes. Abby said this isn’t good maybe no ones here. Finally the guy cleared his throat. Can you believe that shit? Seriously if we were sighted this wouldn’t happen, but my guess is he didn’t know how to deal with 2 blind people. Later Abby and I joked that blind people just walk in and hang out in hotel lobbies for the fun of it. After awkward guy checks us in I ask him what direction is the room? He fucking points and says it’s that way. I say to the right? No it’s that way. Finally I just start moving. We walked through a door and I guess he finally maybe understood we couldn’t see and he met us and showed us where the room door was. You just never know what your going to encounter. The hotel though was easy to navigate and I found the pool hot tub, and vending machines all with ease. I used AIRA to learn what was in the soda ones, so that was cool.

For dinner we went out and celebrated my long time friend Phils birthday at Red Lobster. I saw some folks I hadn’t seen in years and one in particular made me laugh. This lady named D is visually impaired so she can see a bit. I said hi D and she sort of hesitated so I knew she didn’t recognize me. I said it’s Joe. She says Oh my gosh I didn’t know you since you put on so much weight. Lol when you can’t see yourself people calling you a fat ass makes you feel good.

After Red Lobster the driver Steve said he enjoyed me and Denny going back and forth. He took us back to the hotel and said he could come get us in 40 minutes saving us a cab to Denny’s. Again that small town kindness was just so nice. We went back out and hung out with Denny for a bit. Our first night went well.

Saturday we went to Dina’s Christmas party. I have so many memories over the years of this. So back in the day this event was my first gathering of mainly blind folks. Maybe at a later time I will talk more in detail about this, but being around folks that are going through the same struggles is comforting. Over the years it’s become like a family event. I also got to see Sue and M’lee Sue’s daughter. M’lee I forgot to mention this to her the fact she has an ‘ in her name just rules. Anyway the party was lots of fun and I really enjoyed seeing everyone.

Alright now to the fun part. After the party I asked some folks to come over and we would just hang out and drink some wine. Phil, Dina, Steve, Sue, Carlos, and Denny all coame over and man it was a blast. Carlos brought 12 beers honestly I thought to myself no way were drinking all of those. He got me some Gumb Ball head from 3 Floyds oh my gosh so good. Needless to say we finished them all. I was bar tender. Abby, Phil Dina, Steve, and Sue had wine. I thought we may get in to trouble for being loud, but no one said anything. I know I don’t see those folks much, but I love seeing them and being able to tell old stories as well as new ones. I love them al, and it was a great trip.

It’s funny since the anniversary of Robin’s passing in my head I try and go over old memories and being back in Muncie brought up a lot. I’d say Robin not only increased my independence and made me more confident, but she provided stability and made me grow up. It’s like when you have a kid you can still drink and probably more, but your responsible for something else. Robin helped me realize that and made me grow up. I wanted to make the Seeing-Eye proud and wanted to have her on display working and doing a great job.

Carlos and Kelly took Abby and I downtown after we had some breakfast of course and we caught the Gray Hound home. It was great seeing Kelly I wish she could have come to the hotel also. Abby and I had a lot of fun and I enjoyed sharing that part of my life with her. We plan to go back again it won’t be 7 years. Abby and I are wanting to go to Portland Maine next summer. Some of that depends on when I get my new dog, but we really want to explore and see some places we haven’t been to. Plus I want some fresh Lobster. Anyway happy holidays to y’all.

I finally wrote it up 3 months with Android. My thoughts.

Next blog post I will talk about 7 people drinking in a Best Western and me face planting in to a poll while catching the bus so embarrassing and painful. I really miss a dog which I am having a Juno walk with a school Saturday so stay tuned. About 3 months ago I switched from I-phone to Android. I am going to review how things are going talk about the strengths of Android and weaknesses. To do so I am going to break things in to sections. I got the Note 9 so let me start with that.

I had the IPhone 8plus and never really enjoyed it for some reason. I call it the decline to my wanting to change. The Note 9 is similar to the 8plus but has taller where the iPhone is wider. Overall as far as feel goes I really like the Note 9’s feel and size it’s nice to hold. Sound quality I like the Note 9 but the IPhone has much better sounding speakers. Not that the Note 9’s are bad, but if I were on an Island with no Bluetooth I’d want the IPhone speakers. Charging though I like the Note 9. I think Samsung giving you a faster charger out of the box is a plus. Also it supports fast WiFI which currently the IPhone doesn’t. Also USBC is just much better and is the standard with Apple going to USBC now for the IPad the Iphone has become foolish with the lightning port. Also the fact you have to buy a dongle to hook it up to a Mac is just observe.

Let’s talk about Android vs IOS. For the sighted folks hold on I think you will like this part still. I enjoy Android for being able to take my Note 9 and hook it directly up to a computer and drag and drop files on to it. I can even take a Doc file from my phone and move it to the computer. Samsung actually gives you a USBC to USBA converter in the box so you can easily hook it up to a computer. This is something IOS just can’t do who really wants to use ITunes these days? Yeah no one. Another aspect I like is customization. On IOS you have apps everywhere and its difficult to remember where things are. On android I have one page of apps and then I have widgets. For example if I am listening to a book on Audible I can from my home screen press play and the book starts playing. If I am finished with the book I can click on the open Audible app and the app launches. Something so simple but really makes it fun, because to fast forward and rewind it’s nothing and you don’t have to even have the app running. I have rearranged my home screen at least 3 times each time learning something new and incorporating something new. This is completely different from Iphone where it’s been the same for the last 5 years. Not to mention it has a headphone jack still and a SD slot.

My Note 9 gets good battery life, but I do think Iphone handles battery optimization better. I also think the Iphone handles ram better also. I think the common user just wants to have there phone working and things cleared out automatically Android I’m having to clear ram and put apps to sleep constantly to preserve battery power. I think this is the biggest space where Android could use work. Don’t get me wrong my Note 9 is amazing and lasts the day, but I don’t think one should have to do so much worrying. I may just be over zealous though myself.

Sound and options. Hands down this goes to Android. I have a pair of headphones that can play different codecs. Apple only does AAC. For example with my headphones I can listen to Sony’s HD Qualcomm HD and some more. To top it off if that wasn’t enough I also have Adobe Atmos. This thing is a blind mans wet dream let me tell you. I hear sighted folks talk about how great a TV set is with different 4K 8k whatever, but I finally get it with Android and all of these sound options. I literally heard Tyler Childress tap his guitar in a song which on Apple I can not hear it. So shame on apple for holding the sound codec to one option.

This is partly an accessibility thing, but I thought I’d give it’s own paragraph but I really like the Note 9 for being a phone. For example if my phone rings I can press volume up to answer and end to end the call. It also makes a tone when the call is connected and a tone when disconnected. Using this as a phone is actually enjoyable. The Iphone is fine, but I do like the fact I can customize and use the buttons on the device to do things. That leads me to a point. Why the hell Iphone to turn you off do you have to now press the side button plus volume down to turn the thing off? What happened to it just works? Now you have to do a 2 button combo just to be able to turn off the phone? Fail. I do wish Android had some of the emergency features Apple has built in honestly. Knowing I could easily get to 911 was actually comforting. I am not sure I could do the same on Android and feel that should be one feature they copy. That being said holding the power button and seeing restart or shutdown is so nice.

Now to the section sighted folks can tune out. Accessibility. I love the fact on my phone I have 3 screen readers. I have Voice Assistant by Samsung, TalkBack by google, and Shine plus by a Korean company. I do love having choices and again Apple is so wall gardened in. That can be a good thing for some things. I still find unlabeled buttons with Voice Assistant TalkBack has gotten better, but I would say it still is a problem too. I find that apps are pretty similar however IOS usually gets new features first. I journal a lot with an app called Day 1 and on IOS it has a feature where you can capture audio recording. Sadly this isn’t on the Android version. I do love using Android as a media consuming device. I use my Note 9 so much more than my IPad for listening to sports, or watching tv. I just really enjoy it for some reason. The race is getting closer. The fact I am not itching to go back to IOS should tell you something. I think that someone can pick up an Android and be fine. I do miss games on IOS. The blind offerings are getting better, but I miss games like spades and bowling. Voice Assistant has similar gestures to Voiceover on the IOS side it has 3 finger gestures and also the double tap with 2 fingers to pause and play music. TalkBack does not have any 3 finger gestures however I will say drawing the shapes has gotten easier and seems like it works most of the time. I primarily use Voice Assistant and switch to TalkBack when needed. It will be interesting to see what I think next year, but I think I will stay. I do think if your someone who likes to tinker and play with things go with Android. If you want a milder experience that will just work unless Apple tells you it won’t go with IOS.

I know I didn’t go to much in to depth, but I’m surprised how much I like Android. Six months ago I would have told you that your crazy and Android can’t do as much as IOS. Now I eat those words and sentiments. Being able to play with different audio codecs alone is so cool, and something Apple just doesn’t let you do. I hope Samsung keeps pushing Voice Assistant further also. Pie will becoming in Jan and I am honestly hoping to see some new features. If nothing changes and I feel it’s not progressing it might make me look back towards Apple. I have enjoyed some Android Apps and things they allow that IOS doesn’t. Take Audible again for example you can actually buy a book in the app. On Apple you have to go to Safari buy the book and then get it in the app do to Apple trying to take 30%.

One area that is getting better for me lately, but in the beginning was frustrating was browsing on the internet. Focus on Android seemed to be all over the place. I feel Apple gives you a better experience here. However on Android I have 4 browsers so I have several options to view a page. Recently on Apple even I was looking at the Bose website and it kept freezing as I was going down the page in safari. I changed to my Note 9 and was able to view the site perfectly. I think as people we believe one should be better than the other. Truthfully I look at screen readers and OS as tools in my tool box. They all have strengths and weaknesses, but as a savvy person we need to decide and try different options at times to yield the best result. For now I’m happy in Samsung land, but if things stop I will look elsewhere. That my friends is the best thing I could say. We as blind people finally have a choice. I got tired of paying the damn Apple tax, and I could switch and still survive and still be productive. Years ago this wouldn’t have been an option. Remember when Windows was are only option for a while because the Mac shutdown screen readers?

Is this thing still on?

It’s been a minute since updating you all on things. Life is going well. I’ve had some hip pains I’m having doctors look in to that’s slowed me down a bit. I can only sleep for about 4 to 5 hours and then I have to move which then after a day of work I am just tired and sleep in my chair during a game. I’m early 30’s going on 76. Abby is doing well we are getting along really well. This year rather than buy each other Christmas gifts we decided to buy one thing we could both benefit from. We decided a robot vacuum would be nice to have. I found the Neato d5 on special at Best Buy and ordered it. I ran in to a few hiccups along the way cleaning the dirt tray the first time took about an hour. I could disconnect the thing, but good god lining it back up to put it back in took forever. I am becoming a master with it though slowly and does an incredible job.

A few weeks ago we went and saw Jerry, Lee, and Frazier out in Bardstown. We spent a night and had tons of fun. We played rook where Lee and I took down Jerry and Abby. We had a bit of a losing streak and it calme down to the last hand but you know I’m clutch.

Abby got sick in the night and Frazier herd her up and came back with us. He jumped up and laid against me. He slept with me for about an hour then moved over next to Abby and helped her sleep. I forgot my hat when we left and Lee noticed him going in to there room and sniffing the hat a few times. I miss him, but he has a great family and loves them too. I applied at a new school so maybe getting a dog will happen for me next year, but Frazier will always have a spot in my heart. I hate the new application process to a new place where I have to prove I need a dog or show them how blind I am lol. I miss having a dog having Robin and Frazier keeps me moving and gives me something to take care of. Now I come home sit in my chair and fall asleep. With a dog I have to brush them play with them take them out. Plus they make the walk to work and home more enjoyable. My confidence is down a bit on one crossing I don’t like doing without a dog, but I am getting through it. I will keep you up to date on any news also where once it happens.

I got a new IPad Pro 12.9 well I traded my old one in for it. Unlike the videos saying it isn’t durable I disagree. Why the hell are you bending an IPad? I love the square feel I really want to use it naked all the time. Seriously it fits the palms of my hand so nice. I can’t get over that. I did pick up a new keyboard case they charge way to much for that. I gifted my old case to a co-worker. I like the new keyboard case, but it leaves the sides exposed which kind of sucks. I also am not a huge fan of the keyboard folding back in video mode it doesn’t feels as good as the previous generation. I do love the IPad and need it for work and having the cellular one really helps at conferences where they just show the WiFi on the board and never announce it for blind folks. The device is so fast it’s amazing. It’s faster than any IPhone out. I do wish they gave you access to files more like a traditional computer. One thing I love about my Android phone is I can connect a thumb drive right to it and view files or even gasp move a file from the drive to my phone. Apple really needs to figure this out. At the end of the day though this IPad does nothing my last couldn’t so sorry again Apple I’m growing bored. It’s still great as my laptop though. I don’t want Windows and Android tabs are awe full and not really supported I just wish the IPad had a few more computer like functions. Maybe the pad OS concept tech journalists are putting out there would be great. I updated because other than getting the new keyboard it didn’t cost me anything and I got a bit bigger storage this time I’d say pass if you have the second gen IPad Pro. The square body is so nice though have I said that already? Overall though the IPad Pro is still one of my favorite devices. I think with an Android phone and Apple tab you have the best of both worlds.

I willl sit down next time and write up a 3 month report and be honest on my switching from IPhone to Samsung. I think even for the sighted folks reading you’ll enjoy hopefully.

Abby and I went to Lexington on Gray hound to attend her great grandmas 100th birthday party. I had gotten sick the day before but didn’t want to miss it. It was a lot of fun. I know some of you have never been on a bus let alone in a gray hound station, but boy is it a hoot. This lady got on with us in Louisville and she had a 20 pound garbage bag of stuff plus a backpack. She said she had just gotten out of prison where she did 6 months. I just ease droppped but I wanted to know what she did? You people who can drive really don’t know how lucky you are. The smells of people I run in to are just awful. I do enjoy traveling though so when your blind you don’t have many options to go to smaller cities.

I’ve been reading a lot again. Abby likes to read and so we often read similar books her a lot more than me, but then we talk about them. A Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts is a really good book. I felt the ending was a bit rushed, but my god what a good book overall. I highly recommend this. I am going to CES in January in Vegas where I will put money on the national title football game of course. Also I will see some awesome tech. I will try and write up some things I see and fill you guys in. I have one day off where I can just get lost in it the rest I have to work.

You must be newly blind?

I think it’s a wonderful time to be blind. For the first time in my life as far as technology goes you can go to any of the big companies and use their operating system Straight Out of the Box. Microsoft, Apple, and Google all offer options straight out of the box that are accessible to anyone who is blind. That really is a dream come true saying that statement. When I was a kid I would have to buy a laptop for example then pay around $1,000 to add on a screen reader. You couldn’t just buy a cheap computer back then no computers were really cheap but even the cheaper ones wouldn’t work with a screen reader you had to have extra Ram to make it work efficiently. So we would spend around $1,500 on a laptop plus then an extra thousand for the screen reader. That isn’t the end of it though unfortunately! What would happen is the screen reader would have to be updated every 6 months to a year depending on how fast technology was moving. So for that you would have to buy what’s called a maintenance agreement which would cost around $25athree upgrades. Things have gotten a lot better since then really we have apple to thank for making voiceover accessible and so good out of the box it has Force Google and now Microsoft to play catch-up and do the same. After seeing Microsoft I really feel that they are wanting to make they’re operating system accessible. This hadn’t been the case under the previous CEO but I really do feel they are trying hard to catch up and possibly become better than what we currently have. It will take time but meeting the people who are actually developing narrator and the other products I do believe in them. Four jobs we need them and Jaws to become better!

I had a few moments out there of just realizing how far technology has come for blind people and how affordable it’s becoming. I think I told you last post I switch to Android! I actually trade in my Galaxy S9 in for a new Galaxy Note 9. I did that because I wanted the bigger battery and even though I’m not thrilled with having the bigger phone the battery makes up for it. This note 9 simply is the best phone I’ve owned in 2 or 3 years! It’s fast and gets me through the day and then some. I used it the entire day once getting to the airport so I had a four and a half hour flight to Chicago and another hour to Louisville. It did amazing I still had 50% of my battery left when getting to the airport to call an Uber. Accessibility wise I do run into a few frustrations with apps however it’s nothing that I can’t manage I’ve pretty much replaced any app that I used on a regular basis on iOS besides games. I wish Android had a few more games that were developed for the blind or that were developed for everyone that worked with the screen readers! I miss my card games! I think though I’m going to stay with Android for the foreseeable future

It’s funny though I was at the airport waiting to fly to Chicago and I heard voice over coming from someone’s iPhone. I thought I wonder if I know them because you know all blind people know each other! See how I plan to the stereotypes? Anyway I heard the guy talking and I said George is that you? He said who is that? I said it’s me Joe. I had met this guy George at the world blind Union conference that was going on out there he works for the American Federation for the blind. I also met his colleague Matthew so I assumed Matthew was with him and I said Matthew are you there too? It was pretty cool recognizing them from afar.

I didn’t have a moment though we’re I realized as a blind person that we still need to push forward. I have contemplated ending the blog and not giving updates because honestly my life isn’t that interesting. However I met Chris in Chicago who changed my mind. So I get to Chicago from Seattle and ask for an agent to get me to my gate because I only have about 30 minutes and didn’t want to risk being late. So Chris meets me and asked me where I was coming from so I mentioned that I was coming from Seattle he asked if I was there on business or pleasure? I responded business. He said just out of curiosity what do you do? So I gave him the run-down and advised I was out at Microsoft for 4 days. He said wow you can work at Microsoft? I didn’t really know how to handle this question but basically what I actually do. He said oh so you must be recently blinded? Me know I have cancer when I was a year old. Chris damn dude you must be really smart! Me that may have been a? I apologize but I’m dictating. Anyway I said no I work with a lot of people who are smarter than me I’m just a tester. It really is true I’ve talked about this and other post I feel that the blind developers I work with do not get the same recognition they deserve for producing these products. Anyway it’s sort of irritates me that people still have this opinion that blind people just sit around and do nothing all day. It’s sort of baffling to me for someone who has worked their entire life! Well maybe not my entire life but most of my adulthood. I’ve had the struggle that most blind people face in finding employment but I’ve been fortunate I know there’s people out there who aren’t as fortunate and haven’t found work and it’s guys like Chris that really irritate me because unfortunately you have some of those same folks hiring. The problem is that I feel you go into an interview and people look at you and say wow how would he do this or how would she do that? They’re not looking at the realization and the abilities of person actually has their seeing themselves as a blind person. It was completely out of the normal for Chris to think that a blind person could actually work at Microsoft never mind that I had actually met three blind people who work at Microsoft while I was there.

I feel like the dictation so far is killing apples! I haven’t corrected anything yet. Any mess-ups probably are from me not speaking clearly. Anyway it’s been a crazy few months hard to believe I’ve been married for two already! Abby and I are doing well our heat went out today so I called and have a repairman coming tomorrow. This happened once before at my house and it was a cold night thankfully and Louisville it’s not that cold yet! It’ll probably get down to about! I’m enjoying being married though we are a good team! Her more so than I probably. I haven’t had to sleep on the couch yet so that’s saying something! The next entry I’ll be back to the keyboard well as long as Apple fixes their damn iPad keyboard issue. I bought an iPad to be a replacement for a laptop lately since iOS 12 though for some reason when I click on a box my keyboard refuses to type the thing it’s supposed to do the best! Too bad apple doesn’t hire me to be a quality assurance person for them I would have pointed this out and beta! It really is driving me nuts.

I’m going to be real with you guys for a minute. I recently just got back from a trip and I do like to travel but the older I get I realize there’s a sadness with that. As a blind person I don’t enjoy going places as much as I used to when I was a kid. I think as I’ve aged I miss some of the things people who can see get when they travel. For me all the sounds are the same. I think that’s why I enjoy Germany so much because it was actually different. I gained a lot of experience and her new things that I don’t often hear here. Seattle or Redmond felt just like Louisville! I used to flip on the radio and go up and down the dial listening to different shows or programs because city-to-city they would be different. Now radio is the same no matter where you are! So that’s gone. I didn’t even bother. However went out walking or driving around in a Uber. I noticed all of the same restaurants and the same things that Louisville has. I mean sure I could go to the Space Needle but what am I gaining from that? I don’t know maybe I’m just being a little grumpy but it is true the more we grow and become unified the more things are looking the same. I know that may not have hit you guys yet as people who can see, but for blind people it really is sort of becoming sad. I think that’s why I enjoy going to see Fraser in the country because it’s different it’s quiet not many people around and it’s just something I don’t get to experience every day. I also grew up on a farm so it reminds me a lot of my childhood but these are all feel the same to me for the most part. Other than being definitely more pine trees and sort of forest e feeling it was Louisville! I just had to travel five and a half hours to sort of be in the same place. I think some services are helping with describing different scenery and things, but at the end of the day it’s sort of his old the same to me. For example when Abby and I were in Chicago and we did our sailboat river cruise we learned a lot about the city’s architecture, but nothing really remain with me from that. The feelings of being on the water in the wind were incredible and that is what stuck with me. Mainly because it’s something I don’t experience every day here in Louisville. I’m sure though if you asked a majority of the people on that same Cruise they would point to a picture of something in the skyline from Chicago or something they salt. After that cruise really Chicago is just a big city experience. I don’t know it’s sort of made me sad in a weird way that I feel this way, but there’s not much I can do I’m just saying and sharing my experience. I wish that going to Seattle or going to anywhere else somehow felt different. I tried to go to some local restaurants while I was there and did. I had a great shrimp burrito for example, but most of the places that we were near were chain restaurants. Due to timing I ended up having to go to Red Robin one night and Jersey Mike’s the next. Maybe that also maybe just sort of feel like I could have been anywhere else or at home. I had a co-worker with me the first two days and he was walking around and describe some of the scenery to me which helped! One morning on his own and I met him at Microsoft. He was telling me about all the things he saw on campus which I thought was me but had I been with him I don’t think I would have felt any different than I do now. It’s great that they have a treehouse but I can’t see that..

I’m a pretty positive guy so I’m not sure I wanted to end with that. I don’t have much else to say other than it is a great time to be alive with all this technology! I know this might be hard for you to understand but I don’t honestly sit around and think about having sight at all. Just when reflecting in a forum like this and hearing people talk about visiting Seattle and things they did I realized that there are definitely disadvantages that I’m seeing. I’m very content with being blind I honestly if given the chance probably would not take Vision if it were available to get. I would have to relearn everything I’ve talked about that and other post. I will give you guys one break quote from me. I think that we’re all custom to what we know. The grew up in the country sometimes the city could be scary. If you grew up in the city sometimes you might think the country scary. Ultimately how we grew up the things around us develop the character we become. I’ve been blind since a child and to think about having sight randomly is sort of scary. When I sit in my chair and listen to a baseball game for example I have no light perception my brain is completely focused in on that game. Or an app. Anyway if I could see I would constantly have light hitting my eye Michael May talks about that in his book crashing through when he was able to get some Vision back.

Can it really do an ECG if it thinks I’m standing while rocking in my chair?

Tomorrow I make my Samsung Galaxy life official. I have had the IPhone for 8 years now, and it has changed my life so much. What used to take 3 or 4 devices now is just one. Below I will explain what I think Samsung and Android are doing well, and why I pulled the trigger.

Let me start off by saying there’s nothing wrong with Voiceover on the IPhone. For the sighted folks Voiceover is the software that comes on the Iphone that reads the screen to you in a quick explanation. Here are the reasons I started thinking of leaving.

Bugs Apple’s software over the years has become so buggy. In fact IOS 12 really doesn’t have hardly any new features, but is being put out to mainly fix the bugs of IOS 11. Poor Bluetooth support. One thing I have noticed of late is I get several Bluetooth dropouts. This is not the fault of my Bluetooth devices, but rather the phone. I have an HTC phone I started testing the same devices with at work and guess what the Iphone dropped connections 4 times an hour where the HTC and Samsung kept the signal the entire time. Yet when I go to the zoo or better known as the Apple Store they say nothings wrong.

This brings up a point. Apple was bragging that 6 million people visit Apple stores yearly. I don’’t know all are of them coming for education or learning? How many are coming in because they can’t remember there password to ICloud? Lol I just found that funny when Tim mentioned it yesterday.

On my Apple Watch it can’t tell when I am standing correctly. Yet one of the new features is it can detect if you fall? I can literally rock in my recliner and bend my arm at the elbow and the watch things I am standing. It even sometimes thinks I am exercising. I know I am blind but I don’t rock that hard. The watch is so bad at this I’m supposed to think or assume it will do a accurate ECG or detect my falling?

Changing sounds don’t actually always stay as they should. So lets say someone named Joe buys a sound for $2.00 in the ITunes Store. Then let’s say I make that sound new mail. Do you know some times that sound plays, but then randomly the default ding sound takes over and goes off 50% of the time. Basically saying f you and thanks for the $2.00. This has gone on for at least 2 versions of the OS.

The final one is dictation and Siri. What the hell is Apple doing with the data they collect from us? Maybe I’m the only one dictating. Because it is just bad. Shut the front door. Siri translation fuck the whore. Lol it would seriously be about that bad. Yet Apple year after year does nothing but they do give us a better camera. I’m sorry did taking pictures really suck that bad last year?

Finally the price has just gotten observed. I know the Galaxy note is up there too so this isn’t just an Apple thing. However I will say this I am getting a Samsung case silicone similar to something Apple would sell., It’s $12.00 at Best Buy now, while the Apple case is $34.00. Seriously it’s silicone!

Alright I think I have most of it out of my system. I just want the products to work as expected not being credited exercising while rocking in my chair eating buffalo wings that come from a chicken. Anyway on to what I like from the Galaxy!

I love the fact I have 2 different screen readers. With Apple if something doesn’t work with Voiceover I have no other options. On the Galaxy I actually have 3 options. Voice Assistant, TalkBack, and Shine plus. I’m mainly using Voice Assistant and Talkback. Similarly they also have to smart voice assistants. One called Google you may have heard of it! The other Bixbie. I think Google is by far better, but Bixbie has some compelling things. Instead of being an assistant like Siri, Alexa, or Google Bixbie wants to let you control anything on screen with your voice. They have a way to go here, but at least it is a start.

I have had some minor annoyances with finding accessible apps for everything, but slowly I am getting there. I’ll be honest I think this is doable! I would not have said this a year ago. I find the phone to be picking up on what I do and it’s getting smarter about what I want to do and accomplish. The speaker quality on it is much more pleasing than the IPhone’s was also. Guess what I changed a notification sound, and it stuck.

One app I find super useful on Android is called Move it. It’s a bus app. It’s also on IOS and used to work well, but still not as well as it does on the Galaxy. What it does is it tells me when my bus is 1 minute away from me. It then watches and notifies me when were 2 stops away. It then lets me know again to pull the bell and get off. If I am transferring bus’s like I have to in the afternoon once I exit it shows me on the lock screen how far my next bus is away from me. Madden football has something called beast mode. On Android this app is full on Beastmode man I’m telling you. It’s so useful having these notifications just testing it this week has been life changing.

Anyway that’s about it for now. I am keeping my IPad Pro,, but the Iphone 8plus gots to go! Lol sorry I had to rhyme. I think Apple can get it right, but do they care anymore? I am tired of waiting on things I find important. Will I buy another Iphone in the future? Some think I will, but I don’t know. It depends on how I feel Android and Samsung improve. For now I honestly have to say I’m 98% happy I switched.

7 years in Kentucky Y’all better consider me a Kentuckian now!

It’s hard to believe 7 years ago I took a job at Humana moving from Muncie to Louisville. At the time I wanted to do move somewhere new with an airport, and bus station. I know my wants are so low. Seriously though it was a struggle to get transportation besides friends out of Muncie. I wanted to try and chase a dream of being in radio, and I needed those things to try and do that.

I’ve always been a sports fan, and grew up thinking I could be in the NBA. Then my mom told me I had two strikes against me. One I was blind and 2 I was white. Now trust me I think if I were black I could have played damn it. Anyway when I moved here I liked both teams. I always thought the Kentucky Wildcats had a much better radio play by play announcer, but regardless I kept neutral.

It was 4 years ago roughly that my life and views on the world and people changed. I got a call that Ethan had killed himself. It changed me in several ways I try to tell people I love them and what they mean to me now. You never know when that last time will be. I would just come home from work and sleep. Reading was about the only thing I could do that took the numbing away.

I then got in to a radio showed called Kentucky Sports Radio with Mat Jones. It’s about sports, but it usually is the ridiculous banner that comes up that makes me enjoy it. For the first time in a month or so I could laugh again. I started really [pulling more for Kentucky. I got in to the teams that year loving the roster of guys for both Football and Basketball. In many ways it brought some new normalcy back for me.

I still have a hard time with the NFL. That was something Ethan and I shared the passion for and would talk about. I try to watch, but it hurts and that enjoyment isn’t there. Life is funny that way we all take the little things way to much for granted. I remember thinking at one point in my life no woman would come between me and my sports. I loved sports so much then Ethan dies and it’s tough to get through a NFL game.

Tonight Kentucky ended a streak of 31 years losing to Florida. I went to the game 3 years ago at Commonwealth and we should have won that game. Abby went last year I’d just got home with Frasier and decided that would be two much for him. They should have won that game, but fell short. Abby and I both until the end thought we may lose this yet, but when they won oh man we were both so happy.

Then I had to hear what Matt and the other fans thought. It made me so happy listening to folks who’ve gone for 30 years to games and finally got to celebrate. That’s the thing I like about Mat’s show. Most radio and Tv is based out of New York or has a national appeal but when you listen to Mat’s show it’s folks from this state who just love there team.

Anyway I can’t believe it’s been 7 years since taking that leap of faith that things would work out. Robin and I learned downtown, and then got a house. Now I have a wife it’s crazy how I’m becoming part of this wonderful city and state. Anyway I wanted to reflect on things tonight and I realize how fortunate things have been for me. Wrapping up go Cats!!! Also miss you bro I think about you still every day. Give Robin a hug up there,, and I’ll see you on the otherside.