Friday Finds for June 16 2017 017
The start of each article is marked with an asterisk. Using the find/replace feature of your word processor, type in the asterisk (shift plus numeral eight) then hit enter to jump between articles.
1 No More Bad Hair Days
2 Exploring and Using Apple AirPods Cordless Bluetooth Earbuds
3 senior discounts
4 trivia for this week
5 Keeping Cool This Summer – An Accessibility Review of the EmersonSensiTM Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat
6 Accessible Investing with the Robinhood App from Robinhood Markets
7 an accessible screen-sharing alternative for the blind,
8 Facts for June 16 2017
9Microsoft Office Lens review
10 Father’s Day Quote and poem
11 Mind Matters
Articles Start Next
*1) No More Bad Hair Days
A recent post in which I wailed and whined about my very bad hair day started it. You may recall how I mentioned volumizing, styling techniques and a great can of hairspray. That brought an avalanche of desperate queries, suggesting to me
that perhaps I’m not the only one dealing with an occasional bad hair day!
Which volumizer? Hairspray? What? Where?!
Not long after we visited the world of shampoos and conditioners. That stirred up lots more questions and very specific ones as in exactly which products?
So today, I’ve decided to tell. Exactly. Specifically. And trust me when I say that I’ve tested many—none of which are sponsored, all of which I buy myself. (From time to time I see these products at stores like Walgreens, King Soopers, Target, Walmart, but never all of them at the same time in the same place—except on Amazon. I am convinced that overall, Amazon consistently has the best prices.)
1. SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER. Currently, I’m using Tigi Bed Head Moisture Maniac Shampoo and Conditioner because I got them on a terrific sale. My hair is dry, I live in a dry climate, my hair is (surprise!) color-treated and both are very gentle. These bottles are huge and since I get at least 4 days out of a hairstyle, they will last me a very long time. About $30 for both.
2. STYLING CREAM. Just a tiny amount of Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment that I work well into my wet hair softens my hair and creates shine without weighing it down. This really makes blowing dry so much easier, too. I’m convinced this helps my hairdo to be revivable for 4 days (seriously, I don’t shampoo daily) without losing its shape and manageability. Love this stuff. About $16.
3. VOLUMIZING MOUSSE. Next I squirt just a small amount of Got2b Fat-Tastic Thickening Plumping Mousse (about the size of a ping pong ball—not too much, go easy) into my hands and distribute this through my hair at the roots using my fingers—but only at the crown, back and sides; not the bang area because I don’t want large volume ‘80s bangs. Creates fabulous volume without adding weight or making my hair feel greasy. About $8.50.
4. TEXTURE. Once my hair is dry and it’s the way I want it, I grab a dab of Living Proof Amp2 Instant Texture Volumizer. Using my fingers, I work this stuff all through my dry and styled hair. It sets the style and makes it so easy to do the final styling, which I do with my fingers. What I love is that it stays touchable (never frozen of stiff) and lets me give it that “piece-y” look. It really does create visual
texture and that’s what I’m going for. About $17.
5. HAIRSPRAY. In my lifetime I’m sure I have tried out every kind of hairspray known to womankind. I even hold the distinction of having the hair and makeup woman on the Leeza Gibbons Show tell me I had bullet-proof hair—that’s how stiff it was. She came this close to needing a jackhammer to get me ready for show time. She introduced me to Shaper by Sebastian, which I used for years. But I have a new favorite. I have found The One and its name is Kenra Volume Spray #25. This hairspray has everything I want: Great hold, dries instantly, very lightweight and—the best part—it is brushable. I spray once in the morning (it takes so little to get the job done) and that’s it for the entire day. Then I brush it all out right before bed. It is fabulous. About $18.
6. HAIR DRYER. It’s not the least expensive, but the T3 Featherweight 2 Hair Dryer is the best, in my opinion. This is a high-end, salon-quality dryer. It produces the two things I need most in a dryer: high heat and high power. It dries my hair fast without drying out my hair. It really is the perfect blend of beauty and function for so many reasons you can read about. About $200. (This dryer is currently available at Costco for $90, a great deal for club members.)
There they are, the six hair products I use, love and depend on to keep bad hair days at bay!
Author: By Mary Hunt on 06/16/17
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*2) Exploring and Using Apple AirPods Cordless Bluetooth Earbuds
After much anticipation, Apple released their cordless Bluetooth earbuds, called AirPods, in late 2016. Initial reviews were mixed: some said they didn’t sound better than the standard corded earbuds that come with Apple products. Others were extremely happy with the sound, ease of use, Siri accessibility, and comfort level. I agree with these positive reviewers and, apparently, so do many other people, since AirPods are selling very well and there is usually a wait to get them.
Using Bluetooth to Cut the Cord
It has always been a hassle to use earbuds with their tangle-prone cords. AirPods solve that problem by using radio waves instead of cables to connect.
What’s in the Box
The box itself is approximately 4 inches square and the top lifts off. On top is a tactile version of the AirPods in side profile. AirPods feel like standard earbuds minus the connecting wire. Inside the box are two AirPods, a charging case, and a Lightning to USB cable. Printed documentation is included.
The charging case measures 1.74 by 0.84 by 2.11 inches, weighs 1.34 ounces, and feels like a dental floss box. On the front side of the case, near the top, is a lid that flips up. It is magnetic and closes easily. On the back of the case is a small pairing button, used to pair the Apple TV and non-Apple devices with the earbuds. On the bottom of the case is the charging port.
AirPods arrive in the charging case. Inside the case are two magnetic holes for the AirPods. There is only one way for them to fit. You use the case to charge your AirPods.
AirPods. Each AirPod has a part that goes into your ear and a small stem that hangs down. Each AirPod is 0.65 by 0.71 by 1.59 inches and weighs 0.14 ounces. They contain Apple’s proprietary W1 chip. Each AirPod contains Dual beamforming microphones, dual optical sensors, and a speech-detecting accelerometer. AirPods fit only one way in their case. In your ear, the hole in each AirPod faces forward. Therefore, there is a designated right and left AirPod.
Lightning to USB Cable
The Lightning to USB cable arrives from Apple under the plastic insert in the shipping box. If using one of the new MacBooks with USB-3 ports, you will need an adaptor. An AC wall-charging cube is not included.
iOS 10 or later is required for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Mac computers require macOS Sierra or later. The Apple Watch requires watchOS 3 or later. AirPods can be used with the 4th generation Apple TV, but the pairing process is a little different that it is for newer models. AirPods also can be paired with non-Apple devices.
According to Apple, AirPods get up to five hours listening time or two hours talk time. The AirPod case itself contains a battery that charges the AirPods. With the case fully charged it is possible to get 24 hours listening time and 11 hours talk time. After a 15-minute charge in the case, you can get up to three hours listening time or one-hour talk time. When the AirPods’ battery charge is low, you will hear a descending sound. It will repeat just before the AirPods turn off due to lack of battery power. There is no audio clue that the case charge is low; you have to check the battery level manually.
Siri can be accessed on your AirPods if they are paired with an iOS device, Mac, or Apple Watch. As of May 2017, Siri is not available with Apple TV. How to use Siri will be discussed later in this article.
Before using your AirPods, they need to be paired with a device. You need to pair them only once. If you have devices in your iCloud account, the AirPods will have access to all. You can use one AirPod at a time.
Pairing with the iPhone
Pair the AirPods with an iPhone by placing the charging case, with AirPods inside, next to the phone. Make sure the AirPods are charged before doing so. Open the lid on the case and keep it open. A dialogue box will come up asking if you want to pair the AirPods with your phone. Make your selection. Once paired, when you put the AirPods in your ears, you will hear a one-note tone and sound will be routed to them automatically. If listening to content such as music or an audiobook, play will stop as soon as one AirPod is removed from your ear. It will start again when the AirPod is replaced. If you are wearing two AirPods and take one out, play will stop. If you are wearing one AirPod and you take it out, play will stop. Once your AirPods are paired with your iPhone, you can use VoiceOver to check battery power. With the case near your phone, open the lid and a dialogue will appear on the screen. It will show the charge for both the AirPods and the charging case. Flicking around the screen to read the dialogue does not always work. Slide your finger around the bottom half to access the information. When the Lightning charging cable is in the case, the dialogue will say that the case is charging. Close the dialogue by closing the lid of the charging case.
Another way to check the charge is on the Today screen. Information is under the Battery heading.
To access all Settings options, your AirPods must be either in their case with the lid open or out of the case either in your ears or near the iPhone. Settings for AirPods are found in the Bluetooth section of the phone. Go to Settings > Bluetooth. Under the My Devices heading is a list of all your Bluetooth devices. Find your AirPods in the list.
Flick right to the More Info button and select it. The first option is a Disconnect button followed by a button labeled Forget This Device. The next control is a button that is to the right of your AirPods’ name. Selecting the button will open an edit box for a new name.
Next are three options for choosing what happens when you do a one-finger double-tap near the top of an AirPod. They are: Siri, Play/Pause, and Off.
The next control is a toggle for automatic ear detection. When on, content will be transferred automatically to the AirPods as soon as they are in your ears.
Use the final control for choosing whether only one AirPod has the microphone or whether both sides have it. The options are Automatically Switch AirPods, Always Left AirPod, and Always Right AirPod. Since they are beam microphones, it is not necessary to speak loudly.
Connecting your AirPods to other Apple Devices
If you want to switch between Apple devices, you will need to go into the device’s Bluetooth settings. For example, I was using AirPods with my Mac and disconnected them when I was done. When I used the AirPods again, they automatically started working with my Mac. To use them with my iPhone, I went into my Mac’s Bluetooth settings, disconnected them from the Mac, and connected them to the iPhone.
AirPods and the Mac
Connect AirPods to your Mac by going to Menu Extras and selecting Bluetooth. Look for the AirPods in the Devices list. From there, use the Right Arrow or VO + Right Arrow to get to Connect and select it. You can check battery level by going back into the Bluetooth menu and selecting the AirPods. This time, Right Arrow to Disconnect but do not select it. VO + Down Arrow and you will hear the battery level of your AirPods.
When listening to audio content such as iTunes, removing one AirPod or pressing the Spacebar will stop the music. Putting the AirPod back in your ear or pressing the Spacebar again will start the music. Taking both AirPods out of your ears will cause sound to come from the computer’s speakers. Putting the AirPods back into your ears will route sound back to the AirPods.
AirPods and the Apple Watch
The Apple Watch also works with AirPods. Go to the Control Center on your watch and select Air Play. Your watch is already automatically selected. If not, select it from the Air Play list. Flick down and there will be a button for selecting your AirPods. Select it and your Apple Watch’s sound will come through your AirPods.
Using AirPods with Apple TV
Pairing AirPods with Apple TV is different than pairing with other Apple devices. Start by selecting Settings/Bluetooth/Remotes & Devices/Bluetooth. Find your AirPods in the list. On the back of the charging case is a small button. Hold it down for a couple of seconds. Then, without letting go of the button, select your AirPods with the remote. You can then release the button. Siri does not work with AirPods paired with Apple TV, but you still have access via the remote.
Find My AirPods
The Find My iPhone app can help you find your AirPods unless they are out of range or in their case. Select your AirPods from the list of devices in Find My AirPods. When the next screen loads, tap the Actions button, which is located above the home button. On the next screen, select the Play Sound button that is above the home button but slightly to the right. The AirPods will play a sound for two minutes. When they are located, pick them up or put them in their case, and in a few seconds the sound will stop. I found that VoiceOver took a few seconds to start working after the sound stopped.
The Bottom Line
AirPods are well worth the investment; they are comfortable, convenient, and provide very good sound. Once paired with one of your devices, they can easily be connected to all the iOS and macOS devices on your same iCloud account. You can buy one AirPod if you lose one. This is actually my second pair of AirPods. My guide dog chewed one of my AirPods and I left the other one in a hotel room when I attended a conference. For me, it was definitely worth purchasing a second pair.
Product: Apple AirPods
Cost: $159 per pair; $69 for a single replacement
Author: Janet Ingber
*3) Senior Discounts
No coupon is necessary. However, you must ask for your discount!
applebee’s: 15% off with golden apple card (60+)
arby’s: 10% off (55+)
ben & jerry’s: 10% off (60+)
benogin’s: discount varies by location (60+)
bob’s big boy: discount varies by location (60+)
boston market: 10% off (65+)
burger king: 10% off (60+)
chick-fil-a: 10% off or free small drink or coffee
chili’s: 10% off (55+)
cici’s pizza: 10% off (60+)
denny’s: 10% off, 20% off for aarp members (55
+)dunkin’ donuts: 10% off or free coffee (55+)
einstein’s bagels: 10% off baker’s dozen of bagels (60+)
fuddruckers’s: 10% off any senior platter ( 55+)
gatti’s pizza: 10% off (60+)
golden corral: 10% off (60+)
hardee’s: $0.33 beverages everyday (65+)
ihop: 10% off (55+)
jack in the box: up to 20% off (55+)
kfc: free small drink with any meal (55+)
krispy kreme: 10% off (50+)
long john silver’s: various discounts at locations (55+)
mcdonald’s: discounts on coffee everyday (55+)
mrs. fields: 10% off at participating locations
shoney’s: 10% off
sonic: 10% off or free beverage (60+)
steak ‘n shake: 10% off every monday & tuesday (50+)
subway: 10% off (60+)
sweet tomatoes: 10% off (62+)
taco bell : 5% off; free beverages for seniors
tcby: 10% off (55+)
tea room cafe: 10% off (50+)
village inn: 10% off (60+)
waffle house: 10% off every monday (60+)
wendy’s: 10% off (55 +)
whataburger: 10% off (62+)
white castle : 10% off (62+)
2. Retail & apparel:
banana republic: 30% off (50+)
bealls: 20% off first tuesday of each month
belk’s: 15% off first tuesday of every month
big lots: 30% off
bon-ton dept 15 % off on senior discount days (55 +)
c.j. banks: 10% off every wednesday (50+)
clarks : 10% off (62+)
dress barn: 20% off (55+)
goodwill: 10% off one day a week (date varies by
hallmark: 10% off one day a week (date varies by
kmart: 40% off (wednesdays only) (50+)
kohl’s: 15% off (60+)
modell’s sporting goods: 30% off
rite aid: 10% off on tuesdays & 10% off
ross stores: 10% off every tuesday (55+)
the salvation army thrift stores: up to 50% off (55+)
stein mart: 20% off red dot/clearance items first
every month (55 +)
albertson’s: 10% off first wednesday of each
american discount stores: 10% off every monday (50 +)
compare foods supermarket: 10% off every wednesday (60+)
decicco family markets: 5% off every wednesday (60+)
food lion: 60% off every monday (60+)
fry’s supermarket: free fry’s vip club
membership & 10%
off every monday (55 +)
great valu food store: 5% off every tuesday (60+)
gristedes supermarket: 10% off every tuesday (60+)
harris teeter: 5% off every tuesday (60+)
hy-vee: 5% off one day a week (date
kroger: 10% off (date varies by
morton williams supermarket: 5% off every tuesday (60+)
the plant shed: 10% off every tuesday (50 +)
publix: 15% off every wednesday ( 55 +)
rogers markelace: 5% off every thursday (60+)
uncle guiseppe’s marketplace: 15% off (62+)
alaska airlines: 50% off (65+)
american airlines: various discounts for 50% off
periods (tuesdays – thursdays) (62+) and up (call before booking for discount)
continental airlines: no initiation fee for continental
club & special fares for select destinations
southwest airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and
before booking for discount)
united airlines: various discounts for ages 65
(call before booking for discount)
u.s. airways: various discounts for ages 65
(call before booking for discount)
rail: amtrak: 15% off (62+)
bus: greyhound: 15% off (62+)
system: various discounts for ages 50+
5. car rental:
Alamo car rental: up to 25% off for aarp members
avis: up to 25% off for aarp members
budget rental cars: 40% off; up to 50% off for aarp membe
dollar rent-a-car: 10% off (50+)
enterprise rent-a-car: 5% off for aarp members
hertz: up to 25% off for aarp members
national rent-a-car: up to 30% off for aarp members
6. overnight accommodations:
holiday inn: 20-40% off depending on
best western: 40% off (55+)
cambria suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
waldorf astoria – nyc: $5,000 off nightly rate for presidential
clarion motels: 20%-30% off (60+)
comfort inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
comfort suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
econo lodge: 40% off (60+)
hampton inns & suites: 40% off when booked 72 hours in advance
hyatt hotels: 25%-50% off (62+)
intercontinental hotels group: various discounts at all hotels
mainstay suites: 10% off with mature traveler’s
20%-30% off (60+)
marriott hotels: 25% off (62+”
*4) Trivia for this week:
1. Which university is home to the famous Skull and Bones secret society?
Answer: Skull and Bones is a famous secret society at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. The society is known informally as “Bones”, and members are known as “Bonesmen”. Among prominent alumni are former President and Supreme Court Justice William Howard Taft (a founder’s son); and former Presidents and father and son George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. George W. Bush wrote in his autobiography, “[In my] senior year I joined Skull and Bones, a secret society; so secret, I can’t say anything more.”
2. On June 16, 1884, the first roller coaster in America opened at Coney Island in Brooklyn, NY.
Now here is a test:
a. What’s the Tallest Roller Coaster in the World?
Answer: The tallest roller coaster in the world is located at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey. It’s named “Kingda Ka” and was built in 2005 by major thrill ride producer, Intamin. The 456-foot high megastructure has held the title of “tallest roller coaster” since its initial launch on May 21, 2005.
It also once held the record for world’s fastest roller coaster with top speeds at 128 MPH. Until it got dethroned by another Intamin coaster…
b. What’s the Fastest Roller Coaster in the World? # ‘The Turbo Coaster’ at Brighton Pier.
Answer: That title now belongs to “Formula Rossa” – the crowning achievement of Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. The roller coaster – which was built in 2010 – tops out at 149 MPH (that’s 21 MPH faster than Kingda Ka) in just 5 seconds. The cars on the coaster are shaped like Ferrari Formula 1 cars and for good reason – you’ll reach speeds typically only seen in race cars.
c. How Fast Did the First Roller Coaster in Coney Island Go?
Answer: That first roller coaster launched on June 16, 1884, climbed a height of 50 feet and topped out at speeds around only 6 MPH! The ride was so slow, that patrons actually sat on long benches sideways while riding. The ride cost a nickel and was an instant success, quickly spawning new roller coasters all around the country.
d. Who is One of the Most Famous Roller Coaster Designers?
Answer: Well, that would be Ron Toomer – a mechanical engineer responsible for designing over 93 coasters in his time with Arrow Development (later: Arrow Dynamics). Ron created the first coaster with two loops at Knott’s Berry Farm and even contributed to NASA’s space shuttle. But he had an interesting quirk considering his line of work: Toomer was particularly susceptible to motion sickness. That didn’t stop him from riding his coasters for quality control, though. Toomer is quoted as saying, e. What are Your Chances of Dying on a Roller Coaster?
Answer: There is a one in 300 million chance of dying on a roller coaster, according to website Ask The Odds. In the United States, there are around two deaths per year relating to rides. So although the rides may seem dangerous, it’s more than twice as likely that you’d be struck by lightning. Still tragedies happen. The biggest roller coaster accident in history happened in London in 1972 when a wooden roller coaster named “Big Dipper” collapsed. One of the cars rolled back into the station when it broke loose from the coaster killing five children, and seriously injuring 13 others.
3. Who first said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”?
a. Abraham Lincoln
b. Benjamin Franklin
c. Franklin Roosevelt
d. John Kennedy
Answer: Abraham Lincoln gave his famous “house divided” speech in Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln paraphrased a passage from the New Testament: “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Lincoln made the speech when he accepted the Illinois Republican Party’s nomination to run as that state’s U.S. senator against Stephen A. Douglas. The speech talked about the danger of disunion because of slavery. Lincoln lost the close Senate race of 1858, but the speech earned him national attention and ultimately paved the way for his election to the presidency in 1860. Abraham Lincoln
*5) Keeping Cool This Summer – An Accessibility Review of the Emerson SensiTM Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat
As spring turns to summer and pleasant weather turns to oppressively hot for many (especially in my home state of Florida), thoughts turn toward air conditioning. Especially in the early spring my thermostat gets a lot of use, as many days begin with the need for a bit of heat and end with a sun-warmed house that needs to be air-conditioned. I definitely wanted more control over my climate, but a) my house has two stories with 17 steps, and b) I am lazy. So when it was time to replace an antiquated thermostat a few years ago, I decided not to purchase a Talking Thermostat .
Instead, I tried the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat with Voice Control, which is now discontinued.
This model seemed to offer the best of both worlds. A talking interface and the ability to set and control the temperature from my iPhone. The unit used network conductivity to accept and process voice commands. The initial wake up command is “Hello,” and the unit was about 90 percent accurate in recognizing voice commands. (When I set the voice sensitivity too high, the thermostat would announce itself every time someone spoke anywhere in the upstairs hallway).
Unfortunately, the makers did not have the visually impaired in mind when they designed the thermostat. You could say, “Turn down two degrees” or “Raise temperature to 70 degrees,” but you could not ask what the current temperature was. You couldn’t toggle between heat and cool, or cycle the fan from auto to continuous using voice commands. With a little effort this thermostat could have been ideal for many people with visual impairments. So close, and yet so far…
Honeywell also offered both Android and iOS apps, but as of six months ago, at least, they both had some accessibility issues. There are completely accessible demos of the apps available, but once the unit was installed and connected, things changed. For example, at the top of each app screen was a summary with the current indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity levels, based on your registered zip code. On the demo, this screen voiced fine. Unfortunately, once the unit was installed and paired with the app, this summary information was invisible to both VoiceOver and TalkBack. To get this information you needed to log on to their mobile site, where the information did announce.
That said, changing the temperature and creating schedules were both easily accomplished using a touchscreen reader. Editing an existing schedule proved problematic, however. The app consistently crashed when I tried to save the changes, using either an iPhone or Android device. If I wanted to change a schedule, I needed to delete it and rebuild it from scratch.
The Honeywell thermostat did offer one feature I found very useful. Most thermostats allow you to toggle the fan on or off when the unit is heating or cooling. Alternatively, you can run the fan continuously. The Honeywell thermostat also offered an “occasional” setting, which would turn the fan on for a few minutes at random times. At over $200, this thermostat was fairly expensive. I might still be using it were it not for the lightning storm that took out my unit’s transformer along with the thermostat.
I enjoyed having environmental control at my fingertips, though, so I went looking for a new connected thermostat. I was delighted when I discovered the Emerson SensiTM Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat on sale for $99 with a regular price of $129 at Home Depot .
(Full disclosure: I own shares in Emerson Electric.)
I hired a professional to install the unit. I do believe, however, that a fairly handy consumer could install this unit herself with sighted help (wires need to be matched by color). The help screens and videos are quite useful, and there is an 800-number where we received the help we needed after an iffy ground wire in my wall altered the thermostat’s mode. I had already created a Sensi iPhone app account, and after the unit was installed I could accessibly enter the unit’s serial number and make a Wi-Fi connection. I did need sighted help to complete the process, as near the end a tiny icon appears on the thermostat display and you have to match it to the one in the app. This is done for security reasons. Even with the logon and password, you must physically be at the thermostat the very first time you use the app, after which logon is automatic.
On this unit, the summary screen offering in- and outdoor temperature and humidity levels voiced perfectly. Once connected, there are several easy-to-use controls. Temperature up, temperature down, heat/cool, and fan on/auto. And since it’s Wi-Fi connected, I can change the temperature from anywhere in the world. Recently, as my wife and I drove home from a weekend trip, I called up the app and turned the air conditioning up so it was cool at the house just in time for our arrival home.
Now for the bad news. Using the iOS or Android apps, creating and editing schedules is not possible. There are on/off toggles that do not change status, and the controls to begin the schedule creation do not respond to touch commands. There is a Web interface, but I could not get it to work with any touch or desktop screen reader.
You can have someone create a schedule and then modify it as needed. I have a friend who used a connected thermostat without a mobile device, and the Web interface was inaccessible with her screen reader. She had to call a relative a thousand miles away whenever she wanted to change her home’s temperature. This is utterly unacceptable.
That said, if you do get a schedule set you can alter it temporarily using the app. Changes remain in effect until the next scheduled event. If, say, you raise the temperature to 72 degrees at 1 pm and your next scheduled change is at 5 pm, the setting will remain in effect until then. Changes last at least two hours, so if you make that same change at 4:30 it will remain changed until 6:30.
Sensi is not Home Kit accessible, but they recently released an Amazon Echo skill that is accessible by default. After installing the Sensi skill in your iOS or Android Alexa app, issue a command such as: “Alexa, raise Heat Pump by 2 degrees,” or “Alexa, lower Icebox by 4 degrees” and Sensi will obey, assuming, of course, you have named your Sensi either Heat Pump or Icebox during the initial setup.
Sensi support is mainly email-based, with follow-up calls when needed. I did receive a call after inquiring about VoiceOver and TalkBack accessibility, but the woman who returned the call had no idea of what either of these were, and when I asked to speak with someone who did know she said there was no one who would, since the app was not made to work with VoiceOver or TalkBack, it was made to work on mobile phones. After going back and forth with several technicians, I was directed to the Web interface, which was also not accessible. When I asked to whom I could speak about adding accessibility I received this response:
Accessibility is important to us, and I’ll forward your feedback to our product developers for a potential future enhancement.
I do enjoy having app control over my thermostat, but it frustrates me, as I’m sure it does you as well, to realize just how little effort it would likely take to make these and other device-control apps and Web interfaces touchscreen and screen reader accessible. Too often the issue is simple ignorance on behalf of developers. I do not believe Apple, Google, and Microsoft will ever require store apps to include accessibility. I doubt seriously they will even include a useable accessibility rating. But perhaps a simple checkbox on the app submission form: “Have you considered accessibility?” is in order. True, many developers will simply check this box without having considered accessibility, but I suspect many others might ask, “Just what is this accessibility of which you speak?”
That would be a start, at least. If you have any thoughts on the subject, we’d love to hear them.
Author: Bill Holton
*6) Accessible Investing with the Robinhood App from Robinhood Markets
Even if you’re not actively involved in the stock market, you probably own stocks. If you have a retirement plan at work, if you have a 401(k), or an IRA, you are probably invested in stocks, even if it’s via mutual funds. Perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow, or perhaps not until after you have retired, at some point you will need and want to take more control over your personal investments. Or maybe you’d just like to buy a few shares of Apple, because you enjoy using its products, or purchase a share or two of Disney to give to your child or grandchild.
With today’s spread of online discount brokers, dipping your toes into the investment waters is certainly much easier than ever. Most of these brokerages have gone a long way toward making their Web interfaces accessible with screen readers and magnification, but until now there have still been costs, primarily in the form of commissions, that limited the novice, very small investor.
For example, at the time of this writing, a single share of Intel (stock symbol INTC) cost just under $37. But add to that a $7 to $10 commission and the price of your single share has risen by 23 to 35 percent. To make a single penny of profit on that one share, the price of Intel would have to rise to 51 to 58 dollars. Granted, this is an extreme example. Most people do buy more than a single share at a time. But it does demonstrate how being a small investor can be an uphill climb. Add to that the difficulties people with visual impairments have gathering the information they need to make investment decisions, and for many visually impaired individuals, it’s like stepping into the batter’s box with not one but two strikes already called against them.
AccessWorld has published many articles on accessible personal finance. In this article, we’re going to look at a new online brokerage that goes a long way toward resolving the issues of both expense and accessibility.
Accessible No-Commission Trading with Robinhood
Robinhood is an online brokerage that offers both iOS and Android mobile apps. Unlike other online brokerages that offer apps, the Robinhood app is the only way you can make stock trades with Robinhood. Also unlike other brokerages, at Robinhood, trades made in a simple cash account are 100 percent commission-free. They make money by offering margin accounts, which enable sophisticated traders to borrow against their shares and double their purchasing power. Like other brokerages, Robinhood charges interest on these borrowed funds. It also charges $10 per month for these accounts, but after that all trades are commission-free.
After downloading and opening the app (for this review I used the iPhone app running iOS 10.3.1 and Robinhood version 5.28.1), the user is invited to create a new Robinhood account. There is a welcome video that I was unable to access (the play button did not work with VoiceOver) but the account setup was completely accessible. Even better, Robinhood uses e-Signatures. I did not have to print, sign, and mail any forms before my account could be activated; I completed the entire account setup online. I could then explore the app, create Watch Lists, check news, and do everything else but actually trade shares before I sent them a single dollar.
Even funding my account online from my bank was completely accessible. All I needed were my bank account and routing numbers. Robinhood then made a few deposits totaling less than a dollar into my account. Once I had verified the amounts to authenticate the link, I could transfer funds in and out of my Robinhood account directly from the app’s Banking tab.
Exploring the Robinhood Interface
Robinhood uses a card-based interface. The VoiceOver three-finger swipe gesture did not work to move from card to card, but near the center of each screen there is a control to move ahead by one screen. Unfortunately, using VoiceOver at least, you can only move forward and circle back to the beginning–I was unable to navigate backwards.
Basic cards include an account summary page and Watch List cards, which offer current price information and an accessible stock chart I will describe below. Double tap a stock symbol, or perform a search, and a different card appears with all the usual current price and volume information, along with buttons to call up recent relevant news items and a Buy or Sell button, depending on your current account holdings.
Robinhood also features a set of alerts for events such as Watch List company news, major price increases or decreases, and trade notifications. Use the Settings tab to activate these alerts and receive them via email, text message, or both.
As mentioned, each security offers a chart, which you can set to various time periods, including daily, weekly, and monthly. Here’s where things get interesting. When you swipe over the chart using VoiceOver, the app produces a series of tones that rise and fall along with the stock price. This is a feature that was specifically added for users with visual impairments.
I found Robinhood’s audible charts quite useful for getting a quick overview of the security’s price action. I believe this feature would be much more useful, however, if I were able to alter the speed of the tone series, slow them down or even step through them click by click, hour by hour, day by day, or however I have set the time period. A sighted user can see at a glance that the stock price changed direction three weeks ago. It takes a quick ear to be able to determine the same information from the audible charts.
Making Trades with Robinhood
You can open a Robinhood account with no money, but you need sufficient funds to make trades. For this review I started out with $100, though I have subsequently added funds.
The Robinhood order screen is completely accessible. Once you have a stock on your screen and double-tap the Buy button, you are walked through the needed information, which can be summarized as:
Order size: How many shares do you wish to buy or sell?
Order type: Do you wish to make your purchase or sale at the current price (known as a market order) or do you wish to set a price and only make the transaction if the market meets your price (a limit order)?
Order execution: If you set a limit price and the order is not filled, do you wish to have the order canceled at the end of the day or remain active until canceled?
My first test purchase was for 67 shares of Great Panther Silver Limited (symbol GPL) for $1.44 per share. I subsequently sold the shares for $1.84 each, a cool $26.80 profit, which was just under 30 percent return in just over three weeks and most of which I would have had to give back in commissions at another brokerage.
The Long and Short
Currently, Robinhood does not offer IRA accounts, or allow you to trade mutual funds or bonds. Nor do they offer any stock screening tools or technical studies, such as moving averages, stochastics, Bollinger bands, and other advanced indicators. This information is usually present in chart format, with limited access to screen reader users. If your trading skills would benefit from access to such information, I strongly encourage you to check out an Excel plugin called XLQ, published by QMatix . With this plugin
you can stream both historic and real time stock data to an Excel workbook, then access it by row and column, one cell at a time. Even more powerfully, you can use XLQ formulas to automatically generate and text display moving averages, stochastics, Bollinger bands, and dozens of other historic and intraday studies far too “market geek” to describe here. In point of fact, it was an AccessWorld reader who first directed me to this excellent plug-in, so if you are interested, get in touch via the Comment link at the end of this article.
In my opinion Robinhood is a great place for novice stock traders to get started. The platform does not currently allow for “paper trading,” which is to say practice trading where real price information is used but no cash or shares change hands. But with zero commissions, nearly anyone with an interest in the stock market can find a few hundred dollars to get started. Veteran traders are quick to observe that success in paper trading rarely continues once actual money is involved. Just a few dollars can add just enough pressure to simulate a much larger commitment, and with Robinhood that’s really all you need to start investing.
Author: Bill Holton
*7)This development could significantly enhance employment opportunities for the blind. There is said now to be an accessible screen-sharing alternative for the blind, and the iOS version may be even more accessible than the already-quite-accessible Windows version:
By the time you read to the end of this post, if you are a screen reader user, your employability potential could be vastly improved. At long last, there is an accessible screen sharing platform that can make the difference between participating in mainstream work, running a remote demonstration independently, leading a video conference, or giving an online presentation, without sighted assistance. What’s more, this is not a work-around. It’s cutting edge, elegant, and best of all…mainstream technology.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the pervasive unemployment situation in the blindness community has been the inability to access some of the most commonly used technology that is standard in many businesses around the world: Screen sharing. the most widely-used platforms, referred to by names such as Go To My PC, along with Go To Webinar and Go To Meeting iterations, Web X, Log Me In, and others, have long been inaccessible for screen reader users. If you have ever found yourself forced to reject a job opportunity, or being forcibly excluded from one, simply because you cannot use this type of technology, you are not alone. Years ago, I had to leave a lucrative position because the job duties included the implementation of a screen sharing program, and I was no longer able to do the work. There was no accessible solution, and at the time, no amount of plying the development team with requests for accessibility support proved fruitful. this heartbreaking situation is no doubt repeated throughout the community, as the technology landscape seems to widen the so-called digital divide.
Recently, I found myself in a similar position. I was presented with a remote teaching opportunity that, seemingly, I would be unable to accept, thanks to the inaccessibility of the platform being used, one of those mentioned above.
The job requirements included that I not only teach my content, but that I also interact with the students, fielding questions, taking a regular roll call, keeping tabs on who was focused on the presentation screen, as opposed to surfing the web, launching video, using on-screen handouts, and reporting on student activity statistics. As the “host,” or moderator of the class, content producer and presenter, I would be required to manage all these tasks while teaching extended continuing education courses lasting several hours. Aware that the platform already in use by the company with which I was contracted was inaccessible, I hired a consultant to assist me in finding an alternative. I was told that if I could find such an alternative, the job was mine. Otherwise, the job would go to a sighted educator.
The consultant evaluated a half-dozen screen sharing products, from well-known tech brands to blindness-specific conference room chat platforms. If one of the options suited the technical specifications of the company I would be working with, such as attendee size, real-time uptime support, or audio/video quality, it failed on the access piece. If accessibility to any degree was supported, then it seemed to favor the attendee, rather than the presenter. If a platform proved to be usable with a screen reader, it failed to meet my audience management or interactivity requirements. Frustrated beyond belief, I interrogated my consultant friend, demanding to know why there was no accessible platform available. None of his answers were satisfactory on any level. This was not, however, for lack of trying. Accounts were opened, or, borrowed. Developers were contacted. Support tickets and bug reports were submitted. Mock presentations were crafted. Apps were downloaded, remote screen reader control was used, calls to colleagues were made. Finally, he concluded, there was just no accessible solution to be had.
I was livid. I ranted and raved and paced the room while I had him on the phone, railing at the injustice of it all. It was maddening to me that but for an inaccessible video player/launcher, or some such triviality, I would be denied meaningful work. this was totally unacceptable to me. My consultant offered to create a work-around, something that would enable screen sharing that re-routed the audio from my screen reader and video in such a way that the audience could hear one, but not the other. Something about a mixer…a second sound card…I don’t know…I was in a rage fog. “It may be too complicated,” he warned me. “You’ll have to manage all this on the fly. And if it goes down, there’s no one to get you up and running.”
In a fit of fury, I pounded three words into a search engine: Accessible video conferencing. Insert clouds parting, glittering golden rays of sunshine pouring forth while the angels sing an alleluia here.
Enter Zoom. Zoom is the first mainstream accessible screen sharing platform that is robust, mainstream, feature-rich, mainstream, and accessible to both presenter/content originator and attendees. Did I mention it’s mainstream?
This is the solution you’ve been waiting for… this is the answer to the interview question, we use X Y Z product here, and the job requires you give presentations…or demos…or consultations…or product training…or teach classes…or collaborate with team members in a satellite location…does that sound like something you can do?”
Now, with Zoom, the answer can be yes.
The Zoom web site is loaded with lots of what you would expect with regard to features and benefits, but this is what jumped out at me right away: The Accessibility page. I only have three words for you…compliance, compliance, compliance. Zoom is not new, but their accessibility improvements are. From the Zoom web site:
“Zoom is committed to ensuring universal access to our products and services, so that all meeting hosts and participants can have the best experience possible. Zoom’s accessibility features enable users with disabilities to schedule, attend, and participate in Zoom meetings and webinars, view recordings, and access administrative features across our supported devices.”
Here’s the link to the Zoom home page:
Click here to go to Zoom home
Zoom actually has a dedicated accessibility team, and the update notes are logged as recently as February in some cases, and last week in others. Zoom services are compatible with standard screen readers such as VoiceOver on iOS and OSX platforms, TalkBack on Android devices, and NVDA for Windows platforms. Check it out on the Zoom accessibility page:
Click here to go to the Zoom accessibility page
Apologizing in advance for my use of hyperbole here, this product is revolutionary. For me, it is going to make the difference between being able to do work or not. As with many similar platforms, there are several levels of feature sets, all with tiered pricing, but there is also a free basic level that is better than just a trial version or a limited-time demo. For those of you who have been trying to solve the problem of interviewing multiple people in different locations while recording everyone for a podcast without sounding like one or more of you is talking from the bottom of a trash dumpster, this is your solution. Want to start up a speaking business? Offer classes? Show off your work product without compatibility concerns? The free, basic level lets you interview or screen share/chat with one person with no time limit, or more than one person for 40 minutes. You can record directly from the dashboard. Need to present to 100 attendees? 1000? 5000? You can…for any number of competitive pricing models.
I don’t know who I could contact on the Zoom team to thank them for what amounts to a technological miracle for me, but I am thrilled. And did I mention it’s mainstream?
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I did apologize to my consultant for yelling.
Link to article:
Source: 2017 Top Tech Tidbits for Thursday Newsletter Archive – Flying Blind, LLC
Facts for June 16 2017The first president to earn a PhD was Woodrow Wilson.
Submitted by Beth Hunt – Gainesville, FL
The famous Mount Rushmore in South Dakota featuring the heads of presidents Washington, T. Roosevelt, Jefferson, and Lincoln was built solely as a tourist trap to give South Dakota tourism dollars that it desperately needed. And guess what? It worked. Almost 3 million people visit the mountain each year.
Submitted by Raina van Setter – Murfreesboro, TN
A shrimp can swim backwards.
Submitted by Daniel Holtmeyer – Bellevue, Nebraska
The little bump on the front side of your ear is called a tragus.
The word “unfriend” appeared in print all the way back in 1659.
*9) Microsoft Office Lens review – An accessible way to read printed documents | RSBC
A free alternative to the KNFB Reader on the iPhone
How can you read printed documents if you can’t see them? Our Assistive Technology Officer Alex, reviews Office Lens Reader, a free scanning app, that can help you access printed documents.
As vision impaired people we will often come across inaccessible print documents. This is very common in classrooms where the teacher will provide the class with hand-outs but often in the wrong format. It is either too small, or for those who have no sight it is completely inaccessible.
There are scanners and other devices which have Optical Character Recognition (OCR) which extract the writing from an image and convert it into plain text so a reader can understand it, but often these devices are expensive and not very portable.
Thankfully, app developers are stepping up to change that. Scanning apps are easier and cheaper to create, and being on your phone, extremely portable.
The most popular OCR scanning app is KNFBReader. Until recently it was the only option if you wanted good results, but with a hefty price tag of £99.99, it is still not an affordable option for many people.
Introducing Microsoft Office Lens
This changed when Microsoft came out with their free Office Lens app, which is a scanner that uses your camera to create digital copies of printed documents such as business cards and receipts. Once you take a picture of a document you can trim , crop and edit the image. What a lot of other people might not know is that it acts very well as an OCR scanner as well. Just take a picture of some writing on a sign or paper, and have it read back to you using their Immersive Reader.
How to use Office Lens
Although Android has Office Lens, it doesn’t have Immersive Reader (which is needed for documents to be read out loud) unfortunately, so this tutorial will be on the iPhone and other iOS devices only.
Once downloaded, open up the app and go through the welcome screen.
Allow access to the camera.
Point the back of the phone towards some text.
If you are using VoiceOver, Frame Guide will help you capture the best shot, it will tell you to move back if you’re too close or go left/right or up/down to get the whole document in the frame.
Double tap the red capture button at the center bottom of the screen, to take a picture.
When it finishes processing, it will give you the option to edit it, or add another picture, useful if you’re scanning multiple documents such as a book.
You don’t need to edit anything, just tap on the done button to export the picture you’ve just taken.
From the list of apps where you can export, select Immersive Reader.
It will then ask you to log into your Microsoft account, if you have an Outlook.com, Live or Hotmail email you can sign in, if not go and create one.
Then it will scan the image for text.
Once scanned, the written text from the document will now be on your screen, you can read it using VoiceOver by placing a finger on the screen, or there is a play button to use one of their voices to read the whole document.
Once you are done listening you can tap close, which will give you the option to save it by exporting to another Microsoft app such as Word or OneDrive. If you don’t want to save it, just tap close again, and it will take you back to the capture screen so you can scan a new document.
And there you have it, a free alternative to KNFBReader. Carry this app in your pocket and whenever you are presented with print text, take a picture and get it read back to you.
*10) Father’s Day Quote and PoemFather’s Day Quote
“Father is the one who protects us, support, care and love us unconditionally. He is our super hero : A superman, a Batman, ironman etc. He is the best company for kids to play with. He entertains us doing all the things…”
Father’s Day Poem
A Dad is
A Dad is respected because he gives his children leadership.
A Dad is appreciated because he gives his children care.
A Dad is valued because he gives his children time.
A Dad is loved because he gives his children the one thing they treasure most – himself.
~ Author Unknown (taken from a church bulletin)
*11) Mind Matters
Scripture: “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit
control your mind leads to life and peace.”
Romans 8:6, NIV
Have you noticed how your mind can run away with you at times? It’s almost as if it has a life of its own and while you start off thinking of one topic, it may wander off in a completely different direction. From the key scripture, it’s clear that our minds can be
controlled, either by our sinful nature or by the Holy Spirit.
Some meditation techniques encourage you to empty your mind of all thoughts, and allow it to be a clean slate. While this sounds very appealing, especially when we feel anxious
or stressed, this isn’t what God’s Word teaches us to do. Colossians 3:2 says, ‘Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth’. Philippians 4:8 says, ‘Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever
things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things’. We’re encouraged to focus and to FILL our minds with good things, not to leave it void and an easy target for the enemy to invade and direct.
What we allow our minds to dwell on will definitely sink into our hearts, and affect our emotions and ultimately our words and actions. A famous quote of Martin Luther says,
‘You can’t keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair’. We may not always be able to stop a thought from entering our minds, but we can decide whether we will entertain it and meditate on it. When we make the choice to allow a thought to linger and give it time to grow, it will undoubtedly bear fruit of some kind. 2 Corinthians 10:15 encourages us to bring ‘every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ’.
When the Holy Spirit is in control of our minds, it bears the fruit of constant and perfect
peace: ‘You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You’ (Isaiah 26:3). Choosing to trust in God, to
lean on Him, and to train my mind to always be inclined to stay on God and His Word, produces a sound and peaceful mind.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You know us so well, and that Your Holy Spirit is our Helper.
Please forgive me for often allowing my mind to dwell on the cares ofthis world, and on things that won’t produce good fruit. Jesus, please be Lord over my mind, and help me, Holy Spirit, to allow You to be in control. In Christ’s Name I come in Prayer, Amen.
Author: Christel Baxter