GTT Edmonton Summary Notes, Amazon Echo and GarageBand Demos and CNIB, November 13, 2017

Summary Notes

GTT Edmonton Meeting November 13, 2017


The most recent meeting of the Get Together with Technology (GTT) Edmonton Chapter was held November 13, at 7pm at Ascension Lutheran Church 8405 83 Street in Edmonton.

20 people attended.

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November Topic – Amazon Echo and GarageBand Demos and CNIB


Amazon Echo

Erick Seed very adeptly showed off the Amazon Echo, which is a Wi-Fi connected smart speaker product from Amazon that combines voice recognition “intelligent assistant” capabilities with speaker functionality in a cylindrical speaker form factor. Amazon Echo responds to voice control by returning information on products, Recipes, music, news, weather, sports, making calls, messaging, and much more.

Echo has seven microphones and beam forming technology so it can hear you from across the room—even while music is playing. Echo is also an expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with 360° immersive sound. When you want to use Echo, just say the wake word “Alexa” and Echo responds instantly.

The Echo has just been released in Canada at an introductory price of $100 (later $130) and the Echo Dot model at an introductory price of $50 (later $70).


The echo’s main competitor, the Google Home smart speaker, sells in Canada for about $180 at outlets such as Best Buy. Google Home works very similarly to Amazon Echo and has the power of Google search behind it. Google Home can also play music, control your TV (via ChromeCast), make phone calls and more.


Apple also has an assistant coming out in December called the Apple HomePod which works similarly to its competitors from Amazon and Google but will be more expensive at about $350 U.S.


Apple MAC GarageBand App

New member, Justin Wack, demonstrated how to use GarageBand for the Mac. GarageBand is a free DAW (digital audio workstation) that is used to successfully create anything to do with audio, from music, to podcasts, and much more. He showed how to make songs or beats using loops. Loops are short audio snippets that you can create, or you can use the hundreds of pre-recorded loops that come with the app. He explained how it is possible to play out your own melodies using the computer keyboard as a piano or other instrument. You can even use the app to learn to play music. He entertained us with examples of his own music he has created entirely with his computer and the app.


to check out more of Justin’s Work, go to or follow him on twitter at


CNIB Introduces Vision Loss Rehabilitation Alberta

Our guest, Matthew Kay, the new manager of rehabilitation services for Vision Loss Rehabilitation Alberta explained how CNIB has changed its governance to better deliver and obtain provincial health care funding for its core rehab services. The core services still include provision of assistive technology, orientation and mobility training, low vision services, and independent living skills training. However, these services are branded under the new name of Vision Loss Rehabilitation Alberta which is a division of CNIB. VL Rehab Alberta will still operate from the CNIB headquarters at 12010 Jasper Avenue.


Matthew explained that managing the core services separately from CNIB’s charitable foundation services allows more direct access to Alberta Health funding for home care and other rehab services. The charitable foundation arm of CNIB will continue providing services such as the tech aid store, children’s services, public education, and emotional wellness support. If you have questions or wish further information, you may contact Matthew Kay at the local Edmonton office 780.453.8318 or email him at:

Next Meeting (Monday December 11 at 7pm)

  • Steve Barcaly, owner of Canadian Assistive Technology, will join us to exhibit some of the latest new technology his company sells. Steve was the former COO of Aroga which no longer exists, but Steve has brought his 30 years of experience consulting about and selling assistive technology along with his supplier network to his new company. This marks the third year Steve has joined us in December and he always has interesting new tech to show us. You won’t want to miss this meeting!


Meeting Location and Logistics

  • Ascension Lutheran Church 8405 – 83 Street NW, Edmonton.
  • We meet in the basement hall. There is elevator access.
  • Enter the church from the back door. There is parking at the back and drop off space for taxis, DATS.
  • Meetings are every second Monday of the month at 7pm.
  • If you have someone helping you your assistant is welcome to remain for the meeting.


GTT Edmonton Overview

  • GTT Edmonton is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Edmonton promotes a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to assist participants with assistive technology.
  • Each meeting consists of a feature technology topic, questions and answers about technology, and one-on-one training where possible.
  • Participants are encouraged to come to each meeting even if they are not interested in the feature topic because questions on any technology are welcome. The more participants the better able we will be equipped with the talent and experience to help each other.
  • There are GTT groups across Canada as well as a national GTT monthly toll free teleconference. You may subscribe to the National GTT blog to get email notices of teleconferences and notes from other GTT chapters. Visit:

There is a form at the bottom of that web page to enter your email.

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