Category Archives: iPhone

Demo: Creating custom audio labels using Digit-Eyes

This is a demo of using Digit-Eyes to create custom audio labels. If you are unfamiliar with Digit-Eyes, you can listen to my first demo and you can visit www.digit-eyes.com/ for more information and to purchase the app and labels. The website also allows you to print your own labels if you have a printer and sheets of blank labels. I don’t have a printer, so I have the pre-printed labels from Digit-Eyes.

This demo is about thirty minutes long. Today was the first I had recorded any custom labels and I did some practicing before recording. As with any new technology there’s a learning curve. Just be patient and before you know it, it clicks.

Digit-Eyes Custom Labels Demo

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Filed under apple Inc, assistive technologies, cool product, demo, gratitude, iPhone, iTunes, NaBloPoMo 2012, plugs

A Letter to Fifty-Three Year-Old Me

Writing the letter to my fourteen year-old self was fun. The writing prompt I took the idea from said to follow it up the next day with a letter to myself in twenty years. I didn’t give it much thought until it was the next day and the thought of the future was too scary. I think today I am ready to do this since two fictional worlds I’ve dived into recently are more scary (hopefully) than twenty years from now will be.

So, fifty-three year old Ro, I hope you are alive to read this. If you are not fifty- three year-old Ro, meaning you are Ro and not fifty-three yet, don’t read this. You can’t read this until November 11, 1032. Oh wow.

Oh and readers, you should leave a comment. If this blog is still here in twenty years, hopefully it is, your comments will be in a time capsule of sorts haha!

Dear fifty-three year-old Ro,

Wow, so did I make it this long? Mom didn’t make it to fifty-three so if I’m reading this in twenty years I better be grateful. Remember how you thought you’d never see thirty because of how crazy your life was and then you literally didn’t see thirty because you went blind at twenty-nine? Yeah, I still think that’s funny today. Do you still find it funny in twenty years? I hope so, because without humor there’s just no point.

Do you need a refresher of what life was like for you at thirty-three? Well, I’ve been with B for just over five and a half years now. Are we still together in twenty years? If we are, what is he like? Did he ever start eating vegetables? I know, that’s probably a really stupid question. My three best friends are Carol, Chupa and Georgie. How are they? Ok I’m misting up thinking about these people in twenty years. Do you remember being convinced that everyone would die before you and you would be left alone in this scary world? That was only like two months ago, before I started Lexapro. Thinking about the people I love the most and how it will be in twenty years is starting to freak me out. It’s a good thing I’m medicated.

What about Erik? He’s my only friend who’s younger than I am. Only by a few months but still. How is he? I hope you are still in touch with him. We’ve been friends so long and there has always been gaps where we lose touch. Although ever since I went blind and started using my Macbook, we haven’t lost touch, so I hope in twenty years we’re still close.

Ok, so speaking of my Mac, what is technology like? Do people have stuff implanted in them yet? I always imagine little nano chips for phones and stuff. I mean seriously, the technology has to be amazing in twenty years! Or is it scary? Has it gotten out of control? It could go that route too. Right now you have an iPhone 4 running iOS 6.0.1. The latest iPhone is the 5. What is the iPhone in twenty years? Do you have an iPhone? Has any other phone ever rivaled the accessibility of the iPhone? I have a Macbook they don’t even make anymore. I was almost completely out of space on it so I started converting videos to mp3. What do you have in twenty years? Do they even make laptops anymore? Do they use wires at all? I can’t imagine there would be wires anymore. Am I right?

What animals do you have? Right now I have Jayden and Timmy and Spinelli and Fi. I can’t think about the future without them.

Are you still blind? Did they figure out how to give you new optic nerves? If so, did you get them? As of right now, I can’t imagine seeing again. I’m so used to things the way they are, so I don’t know if I would try anything to see again. I remember when I first went blind I wanted more than anything to see again, even just a little bit. I was ready to get on a plane and go to the UK where they were experimenting with a cancer drug that helped MS patients regain lost functions. Now though? I couldn’t imagine testing a drug. It’s a scary thought. So what have you done in twenty years?

I’m afraid to think about what the MS has done to me in twenty years. It’s impossible to think about my future self though without wondering about that. I won’t think about that now. Maybe you’re reading this in twenty years and smiling because nothing horrible has happened. Is that too much to ask for?

There really isn’t much more to write. There isn’t much to say to a future self beyond asking questions. I can say I hope you are as happy as I am today. Though I hope you are happier. I’m happy, but I could be happier. I just hope you aren’t less happy. I hope you’re still sober, though obviously when it comes to that I can’t really think beyond today. If you’re sober and still smoke free and at least as happy as I am now, then you’ve got it good.

Oh hey wait, I have to ask, is there equality? Have people finally quit being so damned uptight about gay marriage? Has racism and bigotry finally really gone away? Do women still have freedom over their own bodies? Has the insanity over birth control gone away? Did people start finally focusing on the real problems? God I hope so. If there isn’t more love an acceptance in twenty years, how are you managing?

I’m reading “The Handmaid’s Tale”, do you remember reading that book? It’s incredibly depressing. It’s what could happen if the crusty old white guys don’t stop wanting to control the female body. It’s terrifying. I hope it’s nothing like this in twenty years because if it’s going to go down that path, I hope the Mayans were right. If they were right, you won’t be reading this in twenty years, no one will.

Ok wow, this turned very doom and gloom. I was afraid this would happen when I thought about writing this letter. Writing to fourteen year-old me was fun because I don’t fear the past and because I knew what happened. This letter is nothing but fear of the unknown and my dwindling hope for a happy future.

I guess my only hope is that there’s just more love in the future. There has to be, or the future is grim grim grim.

I should end this on a happy note. Hmmm, happy. So have the Rays won a World Series or five? Ten? How long did Evan Longoria stay? Please tell me he didn’t end up with Boston or New York. What about David Price? Did I ever meet any of them? How are all my online friends? I don’t want to start naming them all because that’s a lot and I’m sure I’d end up leaving someone out.

One last question, what kind of voice are you listening to on your Mac? I can only assume you still use a screen reader and a Mac. Is it still Alex or have they made new voices that are just as good? Knowing Apple, they probably use human speech in twenty years haha. Ok, I just heard my DM ping. I think that’s my cue to wrap this up.

I hope this letter finds you well , my fifty-three year-old self! Oh, happy early birthday!

Love,

Thirty-three year-old Ro

PS – Do they have replicators and/or transporters yet? Did you ever publish anything?

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Filed under accessibility, Adjustment to blindness, Alex, apple Inc, assistive technologies, baseball, cool product, evan longoria, fellowship, Fi, humor as coping skill, I might be a writer, in the news, iPhone, Jayden, letters, mental health, misty eyes, mom, My story, NaBloPoMo 2012, on this date, politics, proud geek, screen reader, silly girl, sobriety, Spinelli, spoons, Timmy, twitter me this

Solo-Dx – The Next Wave of Audio Descriptions

I used to enjoy movies back in the day but since going blind, they have lost their appeal for the most part. When I do take in a movie it’s usually alone when I can get my hands on a described version. For those who don’t know, audio descriptions are sometimes available for the blind and visually impaired. This will be a narrator describing the action on screen when there is no dialogue.

While this is great, it’s not easily accessible since it will be in a DVD or Blueray menu and not available at all for streaming movies. B and I have watched a few movies together when he was renting DVDs. If a movie sounded interesting to me he would check to see if it had descriptions and most times it didn’t. So I only got to do a few movies with him that way and while it was great for me, it was annoying for him because sometimes the narration would describe action before it happened on screen. The narrator can only speak when there is no dialogue so often times something is described right before it happens visually on screen. I’ve completely gotten away from enjoying movies, so imagine my intrigue a few weeks ago when I checked the Roof’s mail and found this from a company in Los Angeles that specializes in audio description, hollywoodaccessservices.com.:

“Located in the heart of the entertainment industry, Hollywood Access Services, LLC produces audio description that is faithful and appropriate to the source material, offering a vivid experience to visually impaired consumers of motion pictures, home entertainment, and television programming. 

Here’s a little bit about our new product: Solo-Dx Solo-Dx is a new premium audio description MP3 file that you can play along with your favorite movie at home. Each Solo-Dx track is written and produced by experienced entertainment industry professionals. Solo-Dx helps bring movies to life for individuals with visual or cognitive impairments.  Solo-Dx works with any standard media player. The only other thing you need is the movie itself on DVD, Blu-ray, streaming, or Video-on-Demand.  Simply follow the directions narrated at the start of the Solo-Dx file, sit back, and enjoy!   You can learn a little more from our website at solo-dx.com.” 

I was able to choose Hunger Games to try this out with and was sent the Solo-Dx track. Time kept passing and I kept not having a good chunk of uninterrupted time to enjoy a movie. It’s amazing how quickly you get out of the habit of setting aside time for movies and television when you no longer enjoy such activities. Finally today I had time so I rented Hunger Games from iTunes. Solo-Dx had sent me the description track and I had that loaded on my iPhone all ready to go.

Wait, back up! I can hear your thoughts. Rented a movie, track on the iPhone, what what? The Solo-Dx track is an mp3 file you download from iTunes or Amazon. Currently the tracks are $1.99 but I was lucky enough to get Hunger Games complimentary. Unfortunately I don’t have a Netflix or other streaming subscription so I needed to rent the movie from iTunes. Lucky I don’t need hi-def so I only had to spend four bucks on the rental. I had never rented a movie before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Once you download it you have thirty days to watch it. Once you press play, you have twenty-four hours to watch it. I couldn’t get the movie to start right back at the beginning again after I messed up the syncing of the track. I was able to get it all lined up though and we’ll get to that in a minute. I was jus able to start the movie again after completing it so I presume you can watch it as many times as you can in that twenty-four hours.

I put the Solo-Dx track on my iPhone but you can put it on any device. I would think it would be difficult to play both on the computer since you would need to play the Solo-Dx track using a different audio player. On the Mac you could do this with Preview by showing the Solo-Dx track in finder and pressing space to play the file at the appropriate time. So this would be possible without another device.

I had misgivings about doing this with my iPhone since it’s a phone and phones interrupt things. We’ll get to that. You sync the track and the movie by first listening to the track and the directions. Using Hunger Games as an example, the instructions said music would play for about ten seconds and then a distinct guitar would sound. When you hear the guitar, start the Solo-DX track. After it told me that, it counted down to three and there was a beep. You pause the track at the beep and wait for your guitar. When this was explained to me I thought it all sounded rather complicated though it made sense and I figured actually doing it would make it clear and it did.

I was disappointed when I had the track all cued up on my iPhone, paused at the beep, and the darned movie was too quiet and I didn’t hear the beginning music. The guitar started but that too was quiet so I quickly paused the movie and tried to find a way to restart it. I couldn’t find how so I got frustrated and thought how will I ever sync this? I checked the time elapsed and it was thirty seconds. The instructions said there was about ten seconds of music so I restarted the Solo-Dx track and paused and unpaused both track and movie until I got it lined up. I was lucky because the description said something about a girl running down the stairs and I got it lined up perfectly with the sounds of running feet. Lesson learned so I’ll be prepared next time. After finishing the movie I replayed the beginning and got it all synced up perfectly the first time and it was pretty sweet that way! I hadn’t missed anything with my syncing attempts before luckily.

So wait, you put the descriptions track thing on your phone? You didn’t get any phone calls or anything interrupting the description track?

That had been my first huge misgiving about this. I could have used my iPod but I didn’t want to use earbuds and I keep it in my room with my audio books on it. I know, luxury problem. I thought I would just use my phone and my Bluetooth earpiece so I’d have the descriptions in one ear while the movie played on my computer speakers. I ran this by Solo-Dx and it was suggested to either use airplane mode or the new do not disturb feature in iOS 6. Perfect! I would just use airplane mode I decided. Do not disturb would still allow favorites to ring through unless I went and changed settings so airplane mode was just easier. Only problem with that was it also disabled my Bluetooth earpiece so I was back at the ear buds issue. I decided to just use the built in speaker on the iPhone.

It turns out that my pickeyness here was a benefit, at least in my opinion. The female narrator’s voice on the Solo-Dx track took on a different audio tone than the movie so it was easy to separate the two. Also, neither ear was taken up with anything so the movie took center stage and the Solo-Dx track was secondary. I was comfortable on the couch with the phone either resting on my shoulder or sitting on the arm of the couch. (Obviously in a theatre or with others I’ll use my earbuds.)

An awesome thing about this was I could control the volume of the audio descriptions. When the movie volume increased, I just put the phone closer to me and when it got quiet again I moved the phone again. This was great, because I’ve noticed when watching movies with audio descriptions built in, sometimes the volume of the narrator isn’t adjusted so when the scenes get loud, you can barely hear the descriptions. It’s either that or sometimes the volume of the action fades out so you can hear the description. Either way it’s disruptive and draws your attention solely to the narration.

With the Solo-Dx track on my phone, the voice of the narrator at a comfortable volume, easy to control when I needed to, the movie was brought to life more than I’ve ever experienced since going blind. It was truly remarkable, being able to completely control both aspects of the movie. I never thought about it before but just like with a bad audio book narrator, a bad descriptions production can really take away from a movie. The Solo-Dx track was clear and easy to understand and the narrator portrayed the emotion of scenes without going overboard or being boring. It was really freaking awesome, no other words I can think of!

I emailed Solo-Dx excited to let them know I’d finally watched it and how cool I thought it was. They let me know some exciting news:

“We just came out with Solo-Dx for the first 4 episodes of the Walking Dead.  On iTunes it’s album-only
for $2.99.  On Amazon, it’s 99 cents per episode, or $3.96 for the album of all four.”

I’m excited about this because that show has sounded awesome but just like with movies I’ve been unable to really get into TV. I will be checking these out for sure!

So, what do you think? I think this is pretty fantastic. I had a lot of misgivings going in but now that I’ve tried it, I’m very impressed. By the way, Solo-Dx isn’t paying me to write this or anything haha! I feel very lucky to have been considered a good test subject to check this out and help get the word out to the blind and visually impaired community. I think I have a pretty good grasp on this product so please feel free to ask questions in the comments or email me and I’ll see if I can answer your questions or forward them to the Solo-Dx team.

I’m really excited about this. I think the opportunities are great in that we might be able to take descriptions with us to the movies even! I can watch movies with B and have descriptions all to myself. He no longer rents DVDs anymore since he as access to any movie he wants with his streaming subscriptions and since he does that now, descriptions are out of the question since you don’t get cool DVD menus.

Once the Solo-Dx catalogue really expands, maybe I’ll be able to say, “hey, I have this movie available, want to watch it?”

The only real lingering question I have is pausing when I watch a movie with him or someone else. Today it was simple, I just unlocked my screen and put my iPhone on my shoulder. I put my keyboard on my lap and on the second two fingered tap of the pause/play double tap, I pressed the space bar at the same time with my other hand. I paused the movie several times in this manner and only once did I get a little out of sync when my phone didn’t play it. It was easy to get it back but I’m not sure how this would work trying to pause a movie with another. I think B would probably need to let me control that when one of us needs to pause. He would need to just show me the button on the remote I suppose. I hope anyway! I look foreword to trying it eventually.

This is going to make me want to get back into movies and TV, I can tell you that much for sure. And the cool thing about these tracks being on iTunes and Amazon is you can get gift cards from friends and family to help with this. I know even $099 on a tight budget can be a lot for entertainment. I think those of you who have Netflix and such will really benefit. I might look into that myself since if I start doing more movies and TV, that might offset the cost of iTunes rentals. As of right now, Amazon streaming isn’t accessible with my Macbook which is too bad since I have a Prime account and get a lot of free streaming content. I need to email them about that. Ah, I digress.

Is Solo-Dx the next wave of awesome assistive technology for us? Could be! I’m very impressed. Oh and Hunger Games? That’s a hole other blog post. What a messed up movie!

Oh one last note, I listened to the entire credits at the end of the movie as well. The narration reads all the credits and the music was nice at the end. So if you’re wondering who played who and don’t feel like going to IMDB, just listen to the credits haha! Ok, I think that’s it.

Oh except this, follow Solo-Dx on Twitter @SoloDx1

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, Amazon, apple Inc, assistive technologies, cool blinky stuff, cool product, iPhone, iTunes, plugs, twitter me this, word pictures

Demo: Digit-Eyes

This is yet another goofy demo of an iPhone app. I don’t think I’m capable of doing anything not goofy. This also turned into a commercial for several products haha! There a couple I give you the chance to guess though I don’t really give you too much time. I also experimented with adding an intro but I didn’t have the volume up high enough.

So without further delay, here is the forty minute Digit-Eyes demo. Here is the Digit-Eyes website. Here is the link to the AppleVis page about the app. I read through the comments there before deciding to get the app. It’s quite helpful.

Enjoy! My next demo is going to be on Text Detective. It kind of took a back seat when I got Digit-Eyes so I need to get a little more practiced with it.

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Filed under apple Inc, assistive technologies, cool blinky stuff, cool product, demo, iPhone, num num food, plugs, screen reader, silly girl, techie tips

Hanging with Ro Episode Thirteen – Sleep Mic New Deprived

This is long, an hour or so. I am very sleep deprived so that made for some really rambling and silly audio. You can feel free to save it to listen to instead of the Presidential debates tomorrow night.

The audio starts a little iffy with some clipping but I made an adjustment and after that it sounds pretty good. Yay for a new mic!

Topics include but are not limited to:

* The @MuggleHustle Twitter account

* Jim Gaffigan and Hot Pockets

* Coffee and murdering a coffee maker

* Baseball

* Find out if I’m a Scientologist

*Too much Twitter, sorry

* Quick Fleksy settings/dictionary demo

* Should we have a Hanging with Ro music game?

There’s more but my brain is about to shut down from lack of sleep. Go listen if you want to know what else, k? K.

Hanging with Ro Episode Thirteen

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Demo: The Awesome ootunes radio app

I am in love with this app! I had planned on blogging about it and decided it needed a demo so now there’s going to be both. I found ootunes thanks to this AppleVis post about it. I explain in the demo why it appealed to me after I read that link. There’s all the information you need about the app there, the ootunes website, App Store link etc. It has the support email address which I used the other day. I talk about that in the demo as well.

There are some things I didn’t mention in the demo or that I want to elaborate on that I noticed when I listened to it:

*I forgot to mention that I favorited all the local sports stations so I might actually get into Arizona sports! I’m excited about this since I used to be a pretty dedicated Wildcats fan in my youth. Baseball has spoiled me now and the only way to listen to sports is with radio. I can do online radio broadcast of college sports but then I can’t really multitask well since I can rarely control the volume on those feeds. So now I’ll have radio feeds on my phone and can just use my bluetooth! I’m very excited.

*I failed to mention how accessible this app is though I’m sure you can tell on the demo. The developer has made a point of making things accessible and this is even mentioned on their app description. This is very cool since I rarely notice that. It seems most apps don’t want to mention that dirty little secret of Voiceover. I’m sure that’s not how those developers see it but I kinda do, and I find it very cool that ootunes advertises Voiceover accessibility.

*I should mention that I have experienced app crashes, but that mostly seemed to happen the night I was doing a lot of favorites adding and starting and stopping. It doesn’t seem to happen during regular usage. Also sometimes the feeds dip out for about twenty or thirty seconds but they almost always come back. That’s just the nature of wireless I think. That always happened with my baseball games until I went hardwired.

*The favoriting part of the demo was confusing, but that’s because I think the favorites feature is a bit confusing. It would be nice if you could add to a favorites group from the get go, but you have to add the favorite and then add to the group. I’m not complaining, I love this app too much. I think I’m going to suggest that to the developer though.

So, if you’ve got thirty-five minutes, come join me as I stumble around this app a bit since I’m still novice, listen as I experience my first “worldly” station, laugh along with some comedy, walk with me down memory lane while I reminisce about cassette tapes and other random ramblings.

ootunes demo

(The file didn’t want to play for me at first so I just opened it again. I think Dropbox might have changed some things.)

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Filed under accessibility, cool product, demo, iPhone, music, plugs, sports, twitter me this, Voiceover

How Not to Spill Coffee on Your Electronics Part Two

Today’s lesson is brought to you by Logitech, Folger’s, Otterbox and Cheerios.

I know it’s exciting when you’re about to start getting ready for an outing with a new friend, especially when you’ve been stuck in the house for awhile. You’re enjoying your morning routine of reading Twitter and drinking Folger’s Black Silk coffee though you are careful not to drink coffee as fast as normal so hopefully you can avoid several pit stops while out with your new friend. With so many things on your mind it’s easy not to notice you set your coffee down on your iPhone.

Luckily your iPhone is encased in a nice Otterbox case, though it’s not waterproof. Probably the reason you didn’t notice where you set the coffee down was because the rubber on the bottom of your huge travel mug nicely gripped the rubber of the Otterbox. Because of this you have no idea that the coffee cup is just barely balanced on the phone, teetering precariously next to your Logitech wireless keyboard.

You begin thinking of your chocolate Cheerios and what you’ll wear for the day and you need to check the time. You always check the time on your iPhone. Which is barely under your coffee cup. Which is right next to your Logitech wireless keyboard.

At this time let us pause and review how not to spill coffee on your electronics.

Do not just grab your iPhone and quickly pick it up. Sure, you don’t know the coffee is there, but it might be a good idea to check first. If you do quickly pick up your phone, be very grateful the cup was nearly empty. (It is normal to have a flashback of the movie ‘License to Drive’ when the styrofoam cup lands in the scary driver instructor’s lap and Corey Haim is cowering in fear and the instructor holds up the cup and says, “the cup…was empty!”)

If you do hear your cup topple and touch the wet table and begin cursing it is definitely a good idea to switch the keyboard off quickly, (Thank you Logitech for having a nice on/off switch there) picking up the keyboard and turning it over while holding it above the plastic TV tray nearby so as not to pour coffee from the keyboard onto the iPhone which you haven’t checked yet, oh and the carpet.

After coffee is poured out of the keyboard which luckily only got wet on the caps lock side, oh please don’t let caps lock be stuck on, run it over to the kitchen and lay it upside down to dry, vowing not to touch it until you return home hours later. You might want to make a mental sticky note that the keyboard is on your breakfast bar so you don’t almost set your new lamp on it later.

Return to the scene of the crime to check on your iPhone. Be grateful it is not wet. Also be grateful your headphones were not on the table along with your iPhone and keyboard like the first time this happened.

Go about your day, get home, switch keyboard on and pray. Be grateful it works. Type a post with it the next day. Wonder if you will ever write part three. Realize this is probably a given. Along with part four. Probably even ten eventually with how much coffee you drink.

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Filed under blind blunders, coffeeholic, fellowship, humor as coping skill, iPhone, num num food, random stuff, twitter me this

Hanging with Ro Episode 12 – Apple Style

So this episode is all Apple. I’m just showing some new features to some people who were curious and I enjoy doing this stuff. I’m a geek haha. It’s about thirty minutes or so.

Topics include:

*iOS 6

*iPhone 4

*Magic Bullet speaker

*Emeel Salem

*Random stuff

Hope you enjoy!

Episode 12

Uh oh, I’ve got the new Blogger interface. I think I’ll be able to post, crossing fingers.

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Filed under apple Inc, emeel salem, hanging with ro, iPhone, proud geek, twitter me this, Voiceover

Demo: Using Fleksy with TweetList Pro

So a Twitter conversation this morning prompted a demo of Fleksy and TweetList Pro. It took me three tries to get it since B is home so I couldn’t just start recording easily. The first two tries were with my headset and they didn’t come out so I ended up just moving my laptop so I could use the built in mic. Finally got it!

It’s a little quiet. I need to play with my mic settings and see what I can do about that. This is about twenty minutes and I go over the TweetList Pro app in general and then using Fleksy to write replies and such. At about the four minute mark, Spinelli begins scratching at the door and I angrily let her in and then…things almost go to Halifax but then recover quickly. 😉

Hope this is helpful. Let me know here or on Twitter if you’d like anything else recorded. I do enjoy this!

Fleksy and TweetList Pro demo

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A post with thoughts and links and stuff

As I was reading Twitter this morning I opened a lot of links. Some days there is just some really good stuff being tweeted and today was one of those days for me. I started thinking I might get a blog post out of it all and decided I’d write it up after the Rays game. The game ended up going to extras and lasting five hours before the Rays lost in heartbreaking fashion. I’m not sure but I think I ended up with one or two more links to discuss because the game was so long. Day games tend to mess me up during the week so you can imagine what a long extra innings game does.

I took care of some phone calls and then sat down to write. I went into Safari history and started pulling up all the sites I want to link to. As I was doing it I thought, Safari is gonna freeze. Ok, it’s gonna freeze when I pull this one up. Ok, maybe I should write the post and grab the links as I go. Oh, but so far so good, open up one more. Busy. Busy. Busy. Darn. So now I’m going one page at a time. Happy, Safari?

About a year or so ago, I got a new follower on Twitter. I checked out her bio and was curious about why she followed me. At the time she was a writer for the New York Post I think it was. She followed a ton of people and had even more followers. I checked out her timeline and was intrigued so I followed back. I’ve had a few quick Twitter conversations with Mandy Stadtmiller and she’s definitely one I enjoy following.

If you’ve read here recently you’ll know that I’ve been in a pretty deep depression. It is slowly lifting but it’s definitely not gone. This morning Mandy wrote 50 Reasons Not To Kill Yourself. I really enjoyed this and related and felt not alone. Go check it out, and see if you spot anyone you “know”. You never know when the things you tweet might end up in an article somewhere.

Another link that caught my attention was Is Pirating Books Ever OK? The article mentions people who pirate digital copies of books they own in print. They reason that they have already paid for the book once, so why should they have to pay for it again? No one is going to scan in every page of their print book just to get a digital copy. One of the arguments mentioned was that people burn their CDs to put on their iPods, so how is pirating digital books any different?

I’m really not sure how I feel about this. Honestly my first thought was, all that money I spent replacing all my Harry Potter books. I think two of them were gifted to me but I can’t even begin to think how much those seven books cost on CD. That was back before I discovered Audible. I think I finally got wise at some point and bought two of the books on CD from Amazon, but by the logic of this article, I could have pirated those books and felt ok with it since I had all the books in print form before going blind.

I also recently read tweets by a couple of authors I like discussing their books going on sale for Kindle. One author’s book was on sale for $1.99. To me that was insulting. That’s not much better than just having the book pirated. To me it’s like leaving a server a five cent tip when the service has been dreadful. That gets more of a point across than no tip at all.

Also, what if a book is only available for purchase in abridged format when the author’s original work is available untouched, but not for sale? I’m not sure that happens in formats other than audio, but it’s food for thought. I’m all for authors and writers earning money for their hard work. I am more than happy to pay for books I want but I’m not paying for abridged books. I think in some situations, pirating isn’t a bad word. Regardless though, please support your writers when you can.

Speaking of books, I loved this article about the husband of E.L. James, writer of the Fifty Shades trilogy. It’s really interesting to hear about the phenomenon from the man who is “not Christian Grey”, who helped his wife with editing and who decided to follow his own dream and write a book as well. I’m curious about his book since he helped James with editing and I said I wanted to edit the heck out of it when I reviewed it here.

While I was reading the trilogy I discussed the music in the books with a friend also reading them. I know one of us mentioned wanting to hear the music and the other said there must be a list somewhere online. I don’t think either of us ever looked. Never fear, iTunes is here! That album has classical pieces from the book. I cracked up when I read some of the reviews on that page. People are acting insulted that these beautiful pieces are being lumped in with such smut haha! Hmmm, how about capitalizing on something that is raking in the dough? How bout exposing people to music they might never have checked out otherwise? I love it. I just love the contempt prior to investigation and the judging people do of these books. I can say that because I was one of those people before my friend practically tied my hands behind my back and made me read them. I might just download that album. I love classical music so why not?

I’m not sure how to transition from Fifty Shades to Apple so I’ll just jump right into these next few links. Unless you don’t read any kind of social networks and probably not even blogs or anything on the internet, you’ll know that Apple just revealed the iPhone 5 yesterday. I followed the event on Twitter just because I was already reading Twitter at the time. Sure the phone sounds cool but if I were to get it, my Otterbox case wouldn’t fit it. No, that isn’t the only reason I’m not gonna run to the iPhone 5 but it’s part of it. The new design is a taller and thinner model. Taller and thinner model? I swear I didn’t have that sentence in my head before it just came out but it’s pretty funny. Ok so anyway, all the accessories I have for my iPhone 4 won’t work with it. Although really that’s just my Otterbox, since I can no longer use my docking speaker with my phone since putting the case on it. I use my iPod with the docking speaker in my room for books now. I digress…the main reason I’m not getting it is I can’t afford it and I like my iPhone 4.

Twitter was rather fun yesterday with everyone discussing the phone, the people contemplating running out to get it, the people lamenting not being able to get it since they weren’t up for an upgrade etc etc. I sat back, happy with my iPhone 4 and wondering what will be in the upgrade I do get in a few years.

There can be a lot of pressure from fellow iThing users. You’re not going to upgrade? Really? Why not? I actually got into bit of a tiff on Twitter when I waited awhile to update to iOS 5. I didn’t feel the need at the time and had heard the update was buggy. So I waited. I finally updated to get people off my back about it and because there was an app that wouldn’t update without iOS 5. iOS 6 is coming out soon and I plan to wait on that as well. Maybe not as long, but I’m not gonna wait for a really long download time while everyone else is getting it. I’m content to let everyone flock to the App Store and I’ll grab it after the crowds subside.

I’m guessing the poster of this post on AppleVis was feeling the same pressure but it did make me laugh, especially the replies. One commenter pointed out that the law requiring one to upgrade their iPhone has not yet been passed. Perhaps those pressuring people to upgrade should read this article about getting off the upgrade treadmill. I don’t really know anyone who fits the type of person described in that but I do know of some people who like to hurry and get their hands on shiny new tech immediately. While I roll my eyes at them I have to admit that part of me is also jealous at their ability to afford to get on the preorder list haha! I’m currently saving for a new Macbook and this article helped me know my decision was the right one. I’m not upgrading just to upgrade, I’m doing it because I want the accessibility features in Mountain Lion and my Macbook won’t run it.

I think I fall somewhere in between people who use majorly outdated stuff and those who have to have the latest and greatest. When it comes to apps I have to dive right in, for sure. I was shocked recently when a friend who got an iPhone didn’t immediately start playing with Fleksy when he downloaded the trial version of the typing app. This leads me to the last thing I wanted to share. This article explains more about how Fleksy came into being. I didn’t know that the developers originally wanted to improve on auto correct and eventually developed the amazing typing application that has blind iPhone users singing their praises. Since I began using Fleksy to type on my iPhone, I started using my phone so much more for other things. Knowing I wouldn’t have to expel so much mental energy to type a tweet if I wanted to reply, I began reading Twitter on my phone more often. Using Fleksy has made me more confident with the on screen keyboard, so entering usernames and passwords isn’t nearly as daunting as it was before. Basically, I got Fleksy so I could type faster but the result has been that I use my phone much, much more, making the money I spend on it totally worth it. Before all I ever really did on it was make calls and listen to baseball games. So I really enjoyed the above linked article! I have a feeling that company is going to go far.

So, those were the thoughts I had today after opening those links. I certainly didn’t expect to still be writing this post at 5:30pm. The Rays game was not supposed to last five hours! I suppose I’ll go edit now and see if this monster turned out interesting at all.

So speaking of auto correct, the word “suppose” there at the end was corrected to “supple”. No computer, I was done writing about Fifty Shades.

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