GTT Toronto Summary Notes, CSUN Assistive Tech Conference Summary, March 21, 2019

Summary Notes

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group

March 21, 2019

 

An Initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind

In Partnership with the CNIB Foundation

 

The most recent meeting of the Get Together with Technology (GTT) Toronto Group was held on Thursday, March 21 at the CNIB Community Hub.

 

*Note: Reading Tip: These summary notes apply HTML headings to help navigate the document. With screen readers, you may press the H key to jump forward or Shift H to jump backward from heading to heading.

 

Theme: 2019 CSUN Assistive Tech Conference Summary

 

GTT Toronto Meeting Summary Notes can be found at this link:

 

Ian White (Facilatator, GTT)

Jason Fayre (Presenter)

 

Jason opened the meeting. He invited questions and input.

 

General Discussion:

A member raised the topic that AIRA is offering 3 months of free service. You’re eligible if you’ve never paid for AIRA before. The deal is on till March 29. You pay your first month at $29 U.S. and your next 3 months are free, 30 minutes per month. You don’t get glasses; you just use your phone. Another member described a device he had with him. Samsung has an in-house accessibility program. They offer a free, downloadable program that works with virtual reality glasses. The member passed the device around. It’s something wearable on your face, that holds your phone, and augments what the camera sees, in various ways. It’s a device for people with low vision. It’s a competitor to Iris Vision and New Eyes. It’s mainly for magnification and enhancement.

Another member raised a problem watching Netflix on his phone, and the controls get minimized Another member said she called Netflix, and they say it’s an iPhone issue. She recommends when the “show controls” button comes up, tap and hold. Netflix has an accessibility team; Twitter might be one way to find them. The first member said he now uses his Apple watch to control it. Someone else recommended that if you want to track down an accessibility person at a particular company, try finding them on LinkedIn.

Someone raised the question of what’s going on with CELA. When will their website be fixed. A member said that downloading and direct-to-player should now be working. They completely redesigned their site, and almost everything about how they operate. Things didn’t go as smoothly as they’d hope. Now, you can access CELA and Bookshare through the same site. It will really facilitate getting more titles from the U.S. soon.

Albert from GTT on the west coast contributed that someone from CELA will be on the national GTT call on May 8 to talk about the changes. The main site to find out about national GTT stuff is www.gttprogram.blog. Many things are posted there. The national calls are always on the second Wednesday of each month, 7:00 P.M. eastern.

A member raised a problem in Jaws 2018 and Windows10, where demands by the computer to install upgrades, were causing Jaws to crash in Outlook. He said the Microsoft accessibility help desk was able to downgrade him to a previous version of something, which helped. Jason added that using Windows10 pretty much requires you to keep your Jaws completely updated. The Office version number is also relevant to the equation. NVDA is getting very good, so if anyone’s frustrated, it’s always an option.

A member raised a problem with Windows8 where turning on the computer seems to load many windows, which he has to close before he can continue. Jason recommended the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk. You can also use Be My Eyes, and call Microsoft through that. This allows you to point your camera at the screen for easier diagnostics.

A member asked about files that say, “empty document,” when you open them. Another member said this is likely because the document is a scanned image, or if the protection on the document is too high. Another member added that, in Adobe, there’s a setting under “reading” that will help to read the entire document verses reading only one page at a time. Try going under the view menu, then accessibility, for more options. PDFs are always challenging. One might work, one might not. Another member added that Jaws now has built in character recognition for PDF documents. Within Jaws 2019, press insert, space bar, O, then D, it will allow you to read some PDF’s. Also, you can do this by navigating to the file name without opening it, open your applications menu, and arrow down to, recognize with Jaws OCR.

Another member raised the question of how to use Outlook to make appointments consulting other peoples’ calendars. Jason replied that it’s possible but not simple, maybe too in-depth for the meeting. Jason volunteered that he has a document he wrote in another context, which explains how to do it. He offered to send it out to the group.

A member asked about how to fax from a printer. Jason answered that you’d have to call the printer company and ask if there’s a way to do it directly from the computer.

A member asked if it’s possible to combine all your calendars into one. Jason answered that if you attach all your calendars to your phone calendar, your phone will show everything. Everything will show in a unified list in the phone calendar ap.

 

CSUN Summary:

Jason then began talking about his experience at CSUN. This is an enormous assistive technology conference that occurs in California each year. It’s put on by the University of Southern California North Ridge. It’s the largest conference of its kind anywhere. It includes any kind of assistive tech, not just blindness-related stuff. Microsoft and Google have a large presence there. Apple attends too, but keeps a low profile.

There’s a large exhibit hall where companies set up tables to display the latest things. The other part of the conference is presentations on specific topics. Apple did have a table this year, but they didn’t present.

This year there wasn’t one defining great thing, or extraordinary trend. There were, however, some interesting new things.

Hymns released a new Q-Braille XL, which is a note taker and display that you can hook up to your phone or PC.

Another interesting element related to the hotel which hosted the conference. This was a new venue for the event. AIRA had set up a free access point for the hotel, so that if you had an AIRA account, you could use it there and not have to pay for your minutes.

The hotel had what you might call a “smart elevator.” This works by having a key pad on the wall at each elevator bank outside the elevator. You type in the floor you want into the keypad, then you’re directed to a specific elevator car. This is a system designed to streamline elevator use in very busy buildings, and it had a feature that allowed you to turn on speech. Jason then played a brief audio recording demonstrating use of the elevator.

It really is obvious when you spend any time in the U.S., how effective the ADA legislation has been in making things more accessible. Jason described getting into a cab for a very long cab ride. Facing him in the back seat, was a little display showing you dynamic details of your trip. When the trip started, a voice says, “to turn on voice accessibility, press the button in the corner.” Then, you’d get a verbal update of your fair and location. This proves that the technology exists.

Another highlight is always the networking. Jason got to meet with representatives from Microsoft and Google.

One exciting piece of tech that was being displayed was a set of Bows glasses called the Bows Frames. Both AIRA and Microsoft are planning to incorporate them into GPS aps. There are highly directional speakers in the arms of the glasses, that sit right behind your ears. Bone conducting headphones can slightly block your hearing and echo location, and this effect is lessened when the sound is coming from behind your ears. Jason connected them via Bluetooth to his phone, then sent them around the room. The sound is directed toward your ears, and he demonstrated how local the sound is, so that someone sitting next to you doesn’t hear a lot of sound bleeding out. Flipping them upside-down turns them off. The true innovation is that they have an inertial measurement unit in them. This means they can track your head movement for GPS and navigational purposes. They go for $200. Like bone-conducting headphones, this is mainstream technology. The Bows store near the hotel hosting the conference was swamped with people wanting them. The sound quality for someone on the other end of the call through the glasses is quite good.

Unless you’re moving, GPS can’t tell which way you’re facing. AIRA plans to integrate with these because the accelerometer lets them know that immediately.

A member raised the topic of looking a bit strange walking down the street apparently talking to yourself, using the glasses. Jason said that it’s getting less and less unusual as more sighted people start using Bluetooth devices. He described the experience of talking to his headset, and being misunderstood by people around him, and having them offer help. He was told that it’s a universal gesture to tap your ear, as a non-verbal sign to others that your engaged in a different conversation.

Albert reported that most announcements at CSUN were tweaks of things we already know about. One of the exceptions this year, a new exciting device, is the Canute, out of Britain. It’s a 9-line, 40-cell braille display. It’s portable but beefy. It shines for anything you’d want to see multiple lines of braille for, such as music or math. They’re hoping to launch by the end of this year, and CNIB is very interested in working with them. The target price is around 1500 pounds, maybe $2600 Canadian. Jason had a prototype with him, and demonstrated it. There’s storage, and you could store many books. The refresh rate is line by line, so you could time it to be at the bottom line by the time the top line is replaced. Braille readers at the conference were very excited about it. They described it as going back to paper braille. This is not a replacement for a note taker, it’s firmly a braille reader. It’s a stand-alone device. They hope to integrate it with Duxbury. This would allow paperless proof reading.

There’s another device in development that is a tactile graphics display, called Graffiti. It will be appropriate for diagrams rather than braille.

Jason described several workshops on the blind Maker movement that interested him.

He spent a lot of time at the conference asking, “When will we get this in Canada?” Amazon and Google both released new things, but not in Canada yet. If there are things you know about that aren’t available in Canada, express to companies that you want them; it might help.

Amazon Prime has all kinds of audio described content, that we can’t get at. Representatives talk a good talk, but are unwilling to commit themselves about times or reasons.

One new thing is a DAISY player from a company out of China. Unfortunately, their representative didn’t speak very good English. Jason got a contact for the U.S. that he’ll follow up on.

Albert, who was at CSUN for the first time, was impressed that it wasn’t just a group of assistive tech companies. All of the big players in technology were there. This wouldn’t have been true 10 years ago. The reason is that mainstream companies are increasingly taking accessibility more seriously over all.

Jason also discussed a company called Native Instruments, that’s very well known in the field of digital music. They’ve recently built accessibility in. One of their music keyboards that you can connect to a PC, has an accessibility mode. When you turn it on, all of its features talk, and so you have easy access to all the functions.

It’s a good idea to get yourself on to the GTT national email list. It’s high traffic, but it’s very diverse and helpful. Google GTT support to find out how to get on it. You can put it in digest mode. There’s also a GTT WhatsAp group.

A member raised a question about Google Docs. A few people said that they’ve used it, and it’s doable, with a stiff learning curve.

 

Upcoming Meetings:

  • Next Meeting: Thursday, April 18, 2019 at 6pm
  • Location: CNIB Community Hub space at 1525 Yonge Street, just 1 block north of St Clair on the east side of Yonge, just south of Heath.
  • Meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at 6pm.

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group Overview:

  • GTT Toronto is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Toronto 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:

http://www.GTTProgram.Blog/

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

 

 

 

CCB Tech Articles, Donna’s Low Tech Tips, Privacy protection, April 8, 2019

April 08, 2019

Privacy protection

 

Hi there!  It’s Donna and thank you for allowing me to come into your inbox.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to my tip on privacy protection.

 

Privacy protection

We are constantly striving to protect ourselves from scams and scammers, but most of all we need to ensure that our privacy, confidentiality, and independence are kept safe from prying eyes and those who thrive on destroying our right to these precious commodities.

 

Signing cheques

When you go to sign a cheque, there are some banks that provide raised line cheques but the problem here is that even if you can use these raised lines to help guide you, a vision impaired person has no way of telling whether or not the pen is writing.  That is, whether or not the pen has ink enough to write.

Here, you need a trusted person to help you complete your cheques but if you do not have access to someone you trust; it is probably best to visit your banking institution and seek assistance of a staff member.

 

That’s it from me for this week!

If you would like to become a member of  my CCB Mysteries chapter you can do so for the price of $10 annually and in return you will receive unlimited access to any of the following libraries.

Recipes – A collection of hard to find recipes

Audio mysteries for all ages – Comfort listening any time of the day

Home and garden – A collection of great articles for around the home and garden

Or you can subscribe to all 3 for the price of $30 annually.

Visit http://www.donnajodhan.com/subscription-libraries.html

 

To contact me, send me an email at info@sterlingcreations.ca and I’d be happy to respond.

Have yourselves a great day and see you next week.

Donna

 

 

 

Re-post: Orbit Reader 20 Removed from APH Catalog

Orbit Reader 20 Removed from APH Catalog
Author: APH Blogger
Date Written: Apr 3, 2019 at 5:00 PM
Date Saved: 4/5/19, 12:44 PM
Source: http://www.fredshead.info/2019/04/orbit-reader-20-removed-from-aph-catalog.html

Photo of the Orbit Reader 20 on a white background.
After months of ongoing negotiations between the Transforming Braille Group (of which APH is a member) and Orbit Research (the manufacturer of the Orbit Reader 20), American Printing House has removed the Orbit Reader 20 from its catalog and shopping site. This comes after discussions have stalled regarding the terms of distribution to TBG partners. The global nonprofits that make up the TBG collaborate as a group to purchase Orbit Reader 20s as part of an effort to keep costs low.
“Working with the TBG, APH has negotiated in good faith for many months, balancing the needs of our customers and organization, our interest in driving a low-cost braille market, and our valuable partnerships with TBG members,” says APH President Craig Meador. “Despite our best efforts, we have not found alignment on the issues at hand. APH must now move forward, and focus our energies on our mission to support students with braille literacy and adults in their independence.”
The Orbit Reader 20 started with a question: “how do we make refreshable braille more affordable?” To that end leaders in the field of blindness from around the world, including APH, gathered to create the Transforming Braille Group. Creating low cost refreshable braille is a difficult task, and there were a lot of setbacks throughout the process. Thankfully the effort had an impact.
“APH was proud to be the company that stood up to be the first to bring this ground-breaking technology to market,” says Meador, “It was all worth it to be an innovator, and show that we could bring prices down. That part worked. We now have competition in the low-cost braille market that wasn’t happening five years ago. Sometimes you have to take a risk – that’s what we did.”
The drop in prices created more access by showing what can be possible. For example, the National Library Service has announced they plan to offer free refreshable braille devices to their readers in the coming years.
APH will continue its efforts to support low cost braille. “Braille cells cost a lot of money to manufacture, and the demand isn’t high enough to drive that price down – we’ll keep trying. Although it’s not an easy journey, we believe everyone who needs braille should have access to it.”
APH and the TBG are continuing to negotiate with Orbit Research in hopes that a resolution can be found. In the meantime, APH is looking at other possible low-cost refreshable braille options to include in its catalog. They will complement new premium refreshable braille devices built for students and educational use now and soon available from APH through a partnership with HumanWare.
Orbit Research is expected to honor the warranty and continue repairs for already purchased Orbit Readers. Any requests for repairs should continue to come through APH. Supporting documentation, like the Orbit User Guide and user videos, will remain available to customers who have purchased an Orbit Reader from APH.

Repost: Google Inbox was the Gmail we desperately needed — but now it’s dead

Google Inbox was the Gmail we desperately needed — but now it’s dead
Author: Jackson Ryan
Date Written: Apr 2, 2019 at 10:10 PM
Date Saved: 4/3/19, 8:46 AM
Source: https://www.cnet.com/news/google-inbox-was-the-gmail-we-desperately-needed-but-now-its-dead/#ftag=CAD0610abe0f
Google Inbox, the much-loved, experimental email client that launched in 2014, is officially dead. And I am officially heartbroken.
I knew this was going to happen. We all did. It still hurts.
Google announced that Inbox’s time was up on Sept. 12, 2018, writing in a blog post the company was shutting it down and “planning to focus solely on Gmail.” Over the past two weeks, incessant warnings have popped up on the desktop and across my phone screen whenever I opened the app.
“This app will be going away in 5 days” it would tell me like a passive-aggressive Doomsday Clock. Each time, it would ask me to switch to Gmail and I’d wave it away with a push: “Not now.”
But it’s all over. This morning, I got this message:

Screenshot by Jackson Ryan/CNET via Google
Gmail was unleashed on the world 15 years ago on April 1 and is now used by around 1.5 billion people every day. It allowed the search engine provider to reach lofty new heights, giving it the confidence to take over the world. When it rolled into town in 2004, it slowly began swallowing up every email client in its path.
AOL Mail? More like LOL Mail. Hotmail? More like… cold mail. Yahoo? Bye.
Slowly we all became engulfed by the email version of The Blob. Email became monotonous, slinking into the shadows, filling up with spam and social media blasts. It gradually became normal. It became boring.
Then in 2014, Google announced Inbox and email was Great Again. It Marie Kondo’d my online life before I even knew who Marie Kondo was. When Sarah Mitroff reviewed Inbox in October 2014, she laid all manner of compliments on the app: “Visually appealing”, “equal parts colorful, clean and cheerful” and “fresh”. Gmail felt like a harsh, sterile hospital next to Inbox’s bright, buoyant Happy-Time-Fun-Land.
Now Inbox is dead, Google has said it will be bringing some of the service’s most popular features over to Gmail. As I’ve finally been forced to switch over, there’s a hole in my heart. Gmail still lacks many of the features that made Inbox so powerful — and so beloved.
There’s work to do to make email Great Again, Again. What can Gmail do to ease the pain?
(, but let’s pretend we can answer that question anyway.)
Bundle of joy
When you read about Inbox’s premature demise, you will no doubt read plenty about “bundles”. Inbox’s clever bundling system was the best thing to ever happen to me, a nearly 30-year-old unmarried man with zero children in a stable, loving relationship.
Inbox had that galaxy-brain energy. The real BDE. Supported by Google’s powerful algorithms, Inbox was able to sort your life out for you. It saw what was dropping in your Inbox and automatically filed it away in its own category via the voodoo magic of machine learning.
It was powerful for bundling all your receipts, purchases, holidays and business trips, placing all that information in easy-to-navigate, simple-to-find locations. I never even had to think about manually labeling or filing emails with Inbox — it just worked, from Day One. And it continued to work until it was dead.
Finding details about a trip home took seconds in Inbox, a one-click process that returned my booking, accommodation, the car I’d hired and any tours I’d booked while I was away. In Gmail, I have to sift through a torrent of banking statements, receipts, a regretful order I made for Thai food when I was sloshed three nights ago and a random PR email about their genius April Fools’ Day stunt.
There have been rumblings that Google will also be bringing bundles across to Gmail, though a timeline for that update is currently unknown so, thanks, big G — my life is now a living hell.
This is how you remind me
Besides bundles, Inbox quickly became the place where I started my day because it centralized my to-do list.
Email is, essentially, just a place where tasks get filed and Inbox’s “Reminders” feature was critical to this. In the same way you would compose an email, you could set yourself a reminder that would jump to the top of your Inbox. At the end of a busy day, I’d whip a few little reminders in for the following morning.
And sure, I can do this with Gmail’s “Tasks” integration but this opens an entirely new window on the side of my desktop. That’s a game of hide-and-seek that I don’t want to play. Because reminders were able to be pinned or snoozed, they were unobtrusive, nesting neatly within the inbox like a digital post-it note.
I don’t know why Gmail doesn’t have reminders. I can’t tell you why. They exist in other G suite services, like Calendar and Keep, but not in Gmail.
Inbox is like the Carly Rae Jepsen of email. It swept in and took the world by surprise with its spark and smarts and brightness and now, every waking moment without it is torture. Gmail, in contrast, is the Nickelback of modern email clients. It’s the homogenized radio-rock version of email.
In fact, maybe it’s worse. Maybe it’s Smash Mouth.
G’mourning
Attention spans are being obliterated by the internet and my apartment is a disorganized mess.
I mean, it’s tidy — but there’s no rhyme or reason to how I file away important tax documents, receipts or mementos. Invoking the holy name of Kondo, I tried to improve my systems a month ago. That amounted to buying more boxes and storing more things in those boxes.
I couldn’t organize myself in the real world, but with the power of machine learning and AI, Google Inbox made sure I could do it when I was inside the internet.
And I wasn’t alone.
Search for Google Inbox on Twitter and you’ll find tales of woe and misery. You’ll find users decrying the switch to Gmail. You’ll find them celebrating the life of an email service as if it were their own flesh and blood. Like the untimely deaths at Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding, we’re all watching on in horror at the injustice.
No one is celebrating. Everybody’s mourning.
New world order
But it’s all over.
Inbox was so good because it was so easy. It was . It was . It bundled emails together long before Gmail was doing anything of the sort. It felt like it was made for me and only me. I didn’t have to spend mornings sifting through mountains of internet text. I could get what I needed and get on with life.
It was also a calming, soft blue rather than an alarming, CHECK-YOUR-EMAIL-NOW red. That’s a fact that gets lost in this funeral. Even the logo is an open letter with a positive, life-affirming tick, rather than the closed, menacing red “M” made famous in Gmail.
I could go on and on, but I digress.
Google has slowly integrated some of Inbox’s best features into Gmail. Snoozing emails, smart replies and nudges to remind you to follow up on your to-do list were all pioneered in Inbox. On Gmail’s 15th birthday, it even brought in a host of new features, like enabling emails to be scheduled and sent at a later time and improving its Smart Compose feature, which offers suggestions to make writing email a lot faster.
I’m holding on as long as possible. The mobile version of Inbox is now six feet under, taking its place in the Google Graveyard next to Reader, Hangouts, Google Plus and Allo, but the desktop version of Inbox lives on (at least, for now). Inbox clones are popping up, aiming to make the transition period easier, but its fate is sealed.
I can do without Hangouts or Plus. Somehow, I even survived after the transition away from Reader.
But this one really stings.

BC Government Internship Opportunities: Work-Able Job Posting Accepting Applicants Until April 30, 2019

Reminding you that the educational requirements for the 2019/20 Work-Able Graduate Internship Program has expanded. Applicants who have a two year Diploma or an Associate’s degree are now eligible to apply.  Work-Able still accepts applicants with a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degree.

 

This year, Work-Able is pleased to offer an increase of internships from 15 to 21.

 

The expanded eligibility criteria and the 6 additional internships will allow more applicants who meet the eligibility criteria to:

  • Attend an information session on how to successfully apply for internships
          • Practice competency based interviewing
  • Receive coaching and feedback throughout the recruitment process
  • Secure an internship

 

Please note: Not everybody that applies will secure an internship, however it is a unique chance to increase knowledge and develop skills on how to be successful in any government hiring competition.

 

Please share this exciting opportunity with your networks: Work-Able Job Posting

 

The posting is open till April 30th.

 

Questions?

 

Please contact Nadia.Valckx@gov.bc.ca or Odette.Dantzer@gov.bc.ca

 

 

 

Resources: With AirPower canceled, here are the best alternative Qi wireless iPhone charging pads by Mike Wuerthele, Apple Insider

With AirPower canceled, here are the best alternative Qi wireless iPhone charging pads

Author: Mike Wuerthele

Date Written: Mar 29, 2019 at 6:36 AM

Date Saved: 4/1/19, 12:55 PM

Source: https://appleinsider.com/articles/19/03/29/now-that-apples-airpower-is-canceled-here-are-the-best-qi-wireless-charging-pads

Like50K

 

A

+

The AirPower is gone. But, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t Qi charging options for your iPhone or AirPods Wireless Charging Case. Here are some of the options that we like the most.

 

Nomad Base Station

Introduced with the iPhone X in 2017, wireless charging is a great way to recharge an iPhone, without needing to connect a Lightning cable. Instead, the iPhone is placed on top of the charger, positioned in line with an embedded charging coil which transfers power to the iPhone’s battery.

Generally speaking, wireless charging is not the fastest way to apply charge to your device, as current iPhone wireless charging is limited to 7.5 Watts in the iPhone X and iPhone 8, following an upgrade from the 5 Watt limit at launch. By contrast, a wired connection can take advantage of Apple’s other wall chargers offering far higher power transfers.

While wired charging is faster, wireless charging offers more convenience, in that all you have to do to start the charging progress is to place the iPhone down on a surface. This also makes using an iPhone as a clock far easier, as there’s no fumbling to plug the cable in before falling asleep, nor to unplug it when waking up or needing to answer an important early morning call.

Obviously, we’d have preferred the AirPower. Now that it’s gone, we have suggestions.

Nomad Base Station

Looking for something to charge multiple devices? Consider the Nomad Base Station. This premium charger is made of leather and aluminum with both USB-A and USB-C outputs. It can charge two phones simultaneously at 7.5W. If you want more details, check out our full review.

You can grab it now from Nomad for $99.95.

Nomad also has a Base Station that will charge the Apple Watch too. The Nomad Base Station is an excellent charging solution. On top is a leather-covered charging pad with a trio of coils beneath. This allows two devices to be charged at once, or a single iPhone horizontally. The Apple Watch charging puck is fully integrated so you don’t need to supply your own, works with any band, and supports Nightstand Mode.

 

An error occurred.

Try watching this video on www.youtube.com, or enable JavaScript if it is disabled in your browser.

The body is made of metal which gives it a solid feel compared to the plastic alternatives.

Nomad also makes available a Base Station without the Apple Watch charger and dual USB outputs instead, and an optional walnut finish.

Zens Charging Pad and Watch Charger Station If you’re lucky enough to have three Apple devices, the Zens Charging Pad and Watch Charger Station can handle them all simultaneously — though with 20-watt maximum output, it can only fast-charge two. That’s still probably more than sufficient if you sit this in your office or bedroom.

The Station is MFi-certified by Apple, and made of aluminum for better durability and aesthetics. Some other touches include anti-slip material, auto power-off, and wide coils that avoid fumbling around for precise placement.

Amazon is selling the product for $99.99.

Belkin BoostUp Charging Dock

Belkin has always made reliable Apple accessories and they’ve done so again with their BoostUp Charging Dock. It can handle both your iPhone and your Apple Watch with an additional USB-A output on the back.

The body is mostly made of metal with a soft-touch silicone surface on top to rest your watch and phone. The USB-A port on the back can be used to power up and iPad, another iPhone, a battery pack, or your headphones.

This too has the Apple Watch charging puck entirely integrated so no need to supply your own.

You can grab it for $149 from Belkin in black or white.

Kanex GoPower

The Kanex GoPower Watch Stand with Wireless Charging Base is an Apple-certified Apple Watch charging puck positioned above a round wireless charging pad for your iPhone or other Qi-enabled devices. We’ve covered our fair share of multi-chargers thus far, but Kanex is the most compact we’ve seen yet. It has an overall small footprint with the ability to power up three devices simultaneously.

A USB-A output on the back lets you charge devices of your choice, while the Qi charger can be used for a phone or a wireless set of AirPods.

It is available just under $80 from Amazon.

Anker PowerWave 7.5 Fast Wireless Charging Pad For those wanting a simple charging mat, the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Fast Wireless Charging Pad is a good option, providing up to 10W charging for some devices. Supplied with a Quick Charge 3.0 wall charger and a 6-foot Micro USB cable, it offers over-charge protection and foreign object detection, in case something is incorrectly placed on top of the mat.

Amazon is selling the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Fast Wireless Charging Pad for $45.99. For more info on the charger, see our detailed review.

 

An error occurred.

Try watching this video on www.youtube.com, or enable JavaScript if it is disabled in your browser.

RAVPower

 

An error occurred.

Try watching this video on www.youtube.com, or enable JavaScript if it is disabled in your browser.

RAVPower is another of our favorite brands, creating great batteries and chargers at affordable prices. We reviewed their new line of iPhone compatible chargers when they launched and have recommended them ever since.

They’ve options to choose from including a charging stand and the common charging pad. Even a portable battery if that is more to your liking.

They start off at $16.99 on Amazon, though our favorite HyperAir charging puck will run you $29.99.

Monoprice Wireless Charger

Want a cheap and simple charger? Monoprice’s Wireless Charger is Qi compliant and has a clean appearance, resembling a thin white puck measuring 3.3 inches in diameter, 0.4 inches thick, and weighing in at 1.8 ounces. It only outputs power at 5V DC 1A, meaning it won’t offer any fast charging capabilities, but it does include a blue “breathing” indicator light when it is charging a device, switching to a solid red when fully charged.

Monoprice is currently pricing it at $7.99. The low cost makes it a viable option for adding wireless charging points in multiple locations around the home, or even to add one in the office.

Aukey Graphite Wireless Charger

Winner of the Red Dot Design Award in 2018, the Aukey Graphite Wireless Charger offers a stylish matte black pad and a lighter trim, with the plate measuring 3.41 inches square and 0.46 inches thick. Able to work with Qi-compatible smartphones in cases, the charger includes a plethora of safety features, including temperature control, power input monitoring, foreign object detection, and overcharging.

Supplied with a 3.3-foot USB 2.0 A to USB-C cable, the charger is available for $15.99.

Grovemade

Grovemade has a history of using natural materials to make beautiful products. It is seen clearly in their wooden iPhone cases, as well as their Qi wireless chargers.

The topmost surface is made of cork which gives your phone a gentle surface to rest on. Stainless steel makes up the bottom, giving the pad added heft.

Nylon wraps the extra long USB cable for bonus durability. If the cable is too long, it can be wrapped up on the underside which is useful for keeping your desk tidy, or for taking with you for a weekend getaway.

You can get a Grovemade pad in one of three colors starting at $79.

Belkin BoostUp

Belkin has always put out top-notch products and all their BoostUp chargers exemplify this. There’s a charging pad as well as a stand to give you options.

The newer Bold line of pads and stands are a bit pricier at $59.99 and $69.99 respectively, but they are a bit more powerful and compact.

Grab any of them direct from Belkin.

MobilePal Gen-3 Qi Wireless Charging Power Bank If you want wireless charging on the move, the MobilePal Gen-3 10,000mAh Qi Wireless Charging Power Bank is portable power that offers more than the usual power bank features. Like others on the market, it includes two USB ports for wired charging, including one with QuickCharge 3.0 support, while on one side is a Qi wireless charging spot that delivers at up to 5 Watts. This can even enable for up to three devices to be recharged simultaneously.

Including a power button, microUSB input for charging, a battery indicator, and a flashlight function, this power bank is available for $39.99.

RAVPower Qi Wireless Charging Pad

The RAVPower Qi Wireless Charging Pad stands the iPhone X upright on a non-slip rubberized base, with a single discrete LED informing users of the charging status. This unit uses two wireless charging coils, which allows for the iPhone to be oriented vertically or horizontally, allowing users to position it in relation to the apps they are using, while still charging the battery.

Offering a maximum output of 10W for compatible Qi devices, the RAVPower Qi Wireless Charging Pad is $16.99 on Amazon.

Samsung Fast Charge Wireless Charger Stand Yes, Samsung, stole Apple’s ideas, boo. The fact stands that Samsung’s charger is one of the better options on the market, and visually appealing to boot. It supports fast charging, and uses a multi-colored LED to indicate status. It’s also designed so you can use your iPhone while charging is in progress — a definite plus for work environments.

The Fast Charge Wireless Charger Stand is available in black, blue, and white colors at Amazon, beginning at $39.49.

Yootech Wireless Charger

Another budget option, the Yootech nevertheless promises to fast-charge compatible Apple devices, and comes in four trim colors: black, blue, red, and neon green. There’s not much else to distinguish it beyond price, though the lights do turn off if you’re worried about being kept awake at night.

You can find the product at Amazon for $12.99.

 

 

Resources: Google Photos Will Now Automatically Detect Your Documents by Paul Monckton, Forbes.com

Google Photos Will Now Automatically Detect Your Documents

Author: Paul Monckton

Date Written: Mar 30, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Date Saved: 3/30/19, 11:01 PM

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/paulmonckton/2019/03/30/google-photos-will-now-automatically-detect-your-documents/

Smartphone cameras are useful for a lot more than selfies and landscapes; they also make very handy portable document scanners. Now Google Photos has launched a new feature designed specifically to make your documents look more presentable and legible.

 

Google’s new Crop and Adjust feature takes care of photographed documents and receipts Documents, unlike people or places, are designed to be read rather than admired and this usually requires an entirely different approach when it comes to processing them and making them look their best. This often involves using functions such as rotating, cropping, sharpening and perhaps converting them to black and white for maximum readability.

The new “Crop and Adjust” feature in Google Photos will detect any photographed documents and suggest suitable edits such as those listed above which can then be implemented automatically in a single tap.

The result is a correctly-rotated document with the background removed and any text made as clear as possible.

Google Photos users will find the Crop and Adjust rolling out soon on iOS and Android.

If you find this function useful, then it’s worth checking out the ‘Scan’ function built into the Google Drive app. The app provides a similar set of automatic enhancements to the new Google Photos function, with the added facility of saving your documents directly to your Google Drive as a PDF rather than a jpeg. Android users can also place a Google Scan widget for one-touch access to the document scanning function.

 

 

Resources: Breaking barriers: accessibility at home a costly process, by Blair Crawford, Ottawa Citizen

Breaking barriers: accessibility at home a costly process

Author: Blair Crawford

Date Written: Mar 29, 2019 at 5:00 PM

Date Saved: 3/30/19, 9:34 PM

Source: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/ottawa-firm-specializes-in-accessibilty-renovations

 

Jennifer and Eli Glanz with daughter Emilia in the master bathroom they had modified to accommodate Jenifer’s wheelchair.

It’s just a few centimetres high, but the sill of the sliding glass door that leads to the back deck of her Barrhaven home is a mountain to Jennifer Glanz.

“It’s little, but I can’t get over it,” said Glanz, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair. Glanz and her husband, Eli, have already installed a $4,000 electric lift in their garage so that Jennifer can get out of the house, and recently completed a renovation to make their bathroom barrier free.

They moved with their daughter Emelia, 3 1/2, to a bungalow a few years ago when Jennifer’s deteriorating condition made it impossible for her to manage the stairs in their former two-storey home. The small ramp over the door sill is the next item on their reno list for summer — “if we ever get a summer,” Jennifer jokes.

“It’s the next project. And a ramp down to the grass. Emilia will be playing on the grass this summer and it would be nice to be there with her.”

Whether it’s a senior who wants to age in place in her own home, a person battling a debilitating illness, or someone injured in a sudden, catastrophic tragedy like the Westboro OC Transpo bus crash, those facing disability find that barriers abound in the home. In fact, 22 per cent Canadians live with some sort of physical disability, according to Statistics Canada.

Story continues below

“The older you get, the more likely you are to have a disability,” says Patrick Curran, national executive director of Independent Living Canada, a national non-profit agency that advocates for those living with disabilities and promotes independent living.

“And if you live long enough, you will have a disability.”

Many of the modifications needed to make a home accessible are obvious: a wheelchair ramp to the front door, for example. Others aren’t so apparent.

“One item that’s a really big, especially for someone with head injuries, is lighting,” said Sean MacGinnis, co-founder BuildAble, an Ottawa company that specializes in building and renovating homes for accessibility. “You want lighting that won’t put a strain on your eyes. Or if it’s for someone who has a visual impairment, better lighting will eliminate shadows and help them see any changes in elevation in their home.”

MacGinnis founded BuildAble five years ago with partner Kyla Cullain, a registered nurse. The company works closely with their clients’ medical teams — their family doctor or occupational therapist, for example — to develop an appropriate construction plan, he said.

“We started the company out focusing on people who are aging in place, but we’ve found the majority of our clients are people who have had a medical crisis, MS or a stroke or something like that … and we do have a lot of people who’ve been in vehicle accidents too. They’re in mid-life and they want to stay in their homes or they have family that they don’t want to move.”

For Eli and Jennifer Glanz, that meant redoing their bathroom to make it accessible. BuildAble installed a barrier free bathroom that Jennifer can roll up to and swing herself into a spare wheelchair that stays in the shower. The tile floor slopes gently to a drain and a waterproof barrier under the entire bathroom floor means spills or floods cause no damage.

The old sink and vanity was replaced with a “floating sink” that lets Jennifer wheel up to it like a desk. Three heavy-duty handrails give support and stability at the toilet.

“For the longest time we had a standard tub and shower that you see in most showers. Jennifer can’t transfer herself into a standard tub, even if there’s a shower seat. It would be me physically lifting her up and into the tub. That was hard for both of us,” Eli said.

“She keeps reminding me, I only have one back.”

“It brought more independence to me,” Jennifer said. “Before, I would have to have him home and helping me have a shower. Now I don’t. He doesn’t know how many times I shower.”

It cost $15,000 to renovate the bathroom, about 80 per cent of which was paid for with grants from March of Dimes. The family had to cover the cost of the garage lift on their own.

Another clever addition are offset hinges that allow doors to swing completely out of the way, adding a crucial extra five centimetres width to the doorway for Jennifer’s chair to pass.

The simplest and most common modification to a home is to add grab bars and handrails, MacGinnis said, including railings on both sides of a staircase. In the kitchen, countertops and cabinets can be made to lower to wheelchair level, while full-extension drawers are easier to access without awkward reaching.

One of BuildAble’s biggest jobs was to add a full elevator to a home for a man with Parkinson’s Disease, he said.

The cost can vary widely. The cost of home modifications are often included in the insurance payout for accident victims or — as in the case of an Ottawa Public servant who is suing the city for $6.3 million for injuries in the Westboro bus crash — part of the lawsuit claim. Others are helped with the cost through grants from the March of Dimes and other charities or through tax breaks.

“There’s a lot of low-cost things we can do that have a high impact,” MacGinnis said. A grab bar might cost $100. A second staircase railing $1,000. A wooden ramp to the door can range from $500 to $5,000, while a more aesthetically pleasing ramp of interlocking brick could cost $15,000 to $20,000.

A barrier-free bathroom costs between $12,000 and $15,000 while a full reno to make a kitchen full accessible can run up to $30,000, he said.

In Ontario, someone who has suffered catastrophic injuries in a car crash is eligible for $1 million in under the province’s the province’s Statutory Accident Benefit Schedule. But for non-catastrophic injuries, that benefit is capped at $65,000 and will only last five years, said lawyer Najma Rashid, a partner in Howard Yegendorf & Associates.

“Just because someone’s injuries aren’t catastrophic, doesn’t mean they’re not serious,” Rashid said. “Many people with serious injuries might be stuck with that $65,000 and it’s only available for five years so they have to make a judgment call as to whether they’re going to use part of the money for changes to their home or for ongoing treatment needs.”

Additional costs could become part of a lawsuit claim, she said. Lawyers would work with their clients medical team or hire an occupational therapist or consultant to determine what renovations are needed and their cost.

“And if they do claim it in a lawsuit, they have to wait for that lawsuit to be over. Or self fund it and look for a reimbursement, but most people don’t have the money to pay for it themselves.”

Those looking for more information on improving accessibility will be able to find it Independent Living Canada’s AccessABLE Technology Expo on May 30 at the Ottawa Conference and Events Centre on Coventry Road. The one-day expo will bring together 20 exhibitors with a broad range of products for disabilities such as visual or hearing loss, cognitive impairment and mental health issues. Admission is free, Curran said.

“We’re doing this to build awareness for Independent Living Canada,” Curran said. “But we also want to give to hope to people who have disabilities — to show them that there are people out there doing research and introducing new products that will be of interest to them.”

For more information, visit ilcanada.ca

Twitter.com/getBAC

Trending Videos

 

 

 

Resources: Bonjour, Alexa! How Amazon’s virtual assistant learned to speak Canadian French, by Morgan Lowrie, The Star

Bonjour, Alexa! How Amazon’s virtual assistant learned to speak Canadian French

Author: Morgan Lowrie

Date Written: Mar 30, 2019 at 5:00 PM

Date Saved: 3/31/19, 9:40 PM

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2019/03/31/bonjour-alexa-how-amazons-virtual-assistant-learned-to-speak-canadian-french.html

MONTREAL—Last September, Hans Laroche embarked on an unusual teaching assignment. He and a few thousand fellow Quebecers were enlisted to help Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa learn the finer points of Canadian French, from the distinctive accent to so-called “joual” expressions and the linguistic mishmash known as “Franglais.”

With Amazon’s official release of its French Canadian language option for Alexa on March 21, the results are now available for all to hear.

 

With Amazon’s official release of its French Canadian language option for Alexa on March 21, the results are now available for all to hear.

Because Alexa’s algorithm requires a great deal of data, Laroche says he and his fellow testers were given a free Echo device and asked to interact with it on a regular basis by asking it questions, getting it to perform household tasks or using it to play music, audiobooks or news. Every week or two, they were asked to provide feedback to developers, who worked to further refine the algorithm and its language capabilities.

Laroche, who runs a Facebook page for Quebec Alexa enthusiasts from his home near Victoriaville, Que., said he was impressed with how well the device picked up on his requests.

“It was pretty surprising the things Alexa can understand, especially in Canadian French,” he said. “The French language from France has been available for a while, but it’s not the same as the language Quebecers use.”

Read more:

Amazon and Google are harvesting data in your home by demanding smart-home gadget makers to share it As an example, he said Quebecers tend to use English verbs such as “check” or “cancel” rather than their French counterparts, “verifier” or “annuler.”

“If Alexa is in (European) French and I ask it to ‘cancel le timer,’ it won’t understand,” he said. “But if I’m in Canadian French and I say it, it will understand what I’m saying.”

Laroche noted that Amazon still has some catching up to do, since competitors such as Google Assistant already have French Canadian language support.

Nicolas Maynard, the man in charge of Alexa in Canada, said teaching the virtual assistant to understand French was a difficult challenge, due to the complexity of the language and the prevalence of homonyms, contractions, and a vocabulary that differs widely by region.

Adapting it to a French-Canadian audience meant ensuring it would understand commands delivered using local colloquialisms and pronunciations, he said in a phone interview from Seattle.

Maynard said that while French speakers in France use as many, or possibly more, English words than their North American linguistic counterparts, the inflection is very different.

“The pronunciation of English words in Quebec is much closer to the English pronunciation than in France,” said Maynard.

“If you ask a French person to say the name of an American song, you’ll clearly hear the French accent. But if you ask a Canadian (francophone), you’ll get a pronunciation that is very close to English.”

But while Alexa may understand local slang, its own voice was given an accent designed to be as neutral as possible while still being that of a Quebecer.

“I think it’s more or less a Montreal accent, but you’ll tell me,” Maynard said.

He said it was also important to ensure the voice service is equipped with general knowledge from each region by being able to answer basic questions about politics and culture.

As a result, Alexa can recite the poem “Le vaisseau d’or” by celebrated Quebec writer Emile Nelligan, and has a repertoire of jokes to tell on demand.

Laroche said he has noted a lot of improvement in this department since he first began interacting with the device.

“If you ask who is Montreal’s mayor, who is the prime minister of Canada, it knows the answer, which was not the case in the beginning,” he said.

He says the voice assistant is still not perfect, however, and there are still many times when it answers a question with “Je ne sais pas” (I don’t know.) But he’s still pleased to have a product that will start his coffee maker in the morning and turn on the equipment in his home gym when he announces he’s ready for a workout.

Guillaume Dufour, the founder of enthusiast group Alexa Quebec, was also an early user of the experimental “beta” version.

He was impressed with Alexa’s ability to understand mixed-language commands, such as when he asks it in French to play an English-language song. He said the virtual assistant understands his normal accent perfectly, although he sometimes has to repeat himself when he tries out the stronger accent of his native Charlevoix region.

“We can see that Amazon’s language recognition training was excellent,” said Dufour, an IT expert and programmer who also creates “skills” for the devices.

And he would know, having amassed an impressive collection of voice-activated assistants including four Echo devices, a Google Home, Apple HomePod and a Harman Kardon Invoke.

Dufour said he has noticed only one true “glitch” — the device sometimes delivers the weather report in a jumble of English and French — but he has found that some of Alexa’s jokes are told “in a slightly jerky intonation that does not quite follow the rhythm of the French language.”

As for Maynard, he said Alexa’s education is far from complete.

He won’t say how many Quebecers are currently using Echo or other Alexa devices, but he says the virtual assistant’s artificial intelligence-driven algorithm will continue to absorb new data and refine its capabilities the more it is used.

“I see the launch as just the beginning of my job,” he said.

 

CCB Tech Articles, Donna’s Low Tech Tips, Apps round up, April 1, 2019

April 01 2019

Apps round up

 

Hi there!  It’s Donna and thank you for allowing me to come into your inbox.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to my apps roundup.

Enjoy!

 

  1. Cash Reader Tool for Blind (iOS, Free With In-App Purchases)

Cash Reader identifies banknote denomination for the largest number of currencies.

Point your camera to the money in hand and hear, see or feel its value.

All banknotes supported by Cash Reader are listed below alphabetically by region.

European Union:

Euro, British pound, Bulgarian lev, Croation kuna, Czech Crown, Danish krone, Hungarian

Forint, Polish zloty, Romanian leu, Swedish krona

Europe:

Bosnian mark, Icelandic crown, Norwegian krone, Russian Ruble, Swiss franc, Turkish

Lira, Ukrainian hryvnia

North America:

Canadian dollar, United States dollar

Middle East:

Jordanian Dinar, Kuwaiti Dinar, Saudi riyal

Asia:

Chinese yuan, Japanese yen

Oceania:

Australlian dollar

Africa:

Tunisian Dinar

App is localised to these languages:

English, German, French, Czech, Slovak, Arabic, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Bulgarian,

Swedish, Turkish.

Current Version: 1.20 (December 28, 2018)

 

Read Cash Reader Tool for Blind’s AppleVis App Directory entry for more information

https://www.applevis.com/apps/ios/utilities/backpack-studio

Visit Cash Reader Tool for Blind’s App Store page

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/backpack-studio/id1438882186?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D8

 

  1. MusicHarbor (iOS, Free)

Keeping up with the latest releases from your favorite artists has never been so easy.

With MusicHarbor you can follow artists closely and be the first to know about new

albums, singles and EP’s.

Apple Music Integration: You can import artists from your Apple Music library, or add

them manually.

Stay organized: MusicHarbor brings the feed concept to music releases. See all albums

from artists you follow on a single centralized timeline, chronologically ordered. Also,

you can filter by types like album, EP, single or remix.

Be notified: Receive notification when a new album is available and be the first to know!

 

Current Version: 1.6.0 (December 17, 2018)

Read MusicHarbor’s AppleVis App Directory entry for more information

https://www.applevis.com/apps/ios/music/musicharbor

Visit MusicHarbor’s App Store page

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/musicharbor/id1440405750?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D8

 

That’s it from me for this week.

If you would like to become a member of  my CCB Mysteries chapter you can do so for the price of $10 annually and in return you will receive unlimited access to either of the following libraries.

Recipes –

http://www.donnajodhan.com/library-recipes.html

Audio mysteries for all ages –

http://www.donnajodhan.com/library-audio-mysteries.html

Or you can subscribe to both for the price of $20 annually.

Now you  can subscribe to “‘Let’s Talk Tips”‘ which is my monthly resource for the most

current and reliable

informational tips available in the areas of Technology, Nutrition, Media,

Business, and Advocacy.

http://bit.ly/ADJSubscribe

 

To contact me, send me an email at info@sterlingcreations.ca and I’d be happy to respond.

Have yourselves a great day and see you next week.

Donna