The Yeti is for Real!

April 12, 2011

What is the Blue Yeti?

The Blue yeti is the latest microphone in a line of usb microphones. It’s pretty big and you need a lot of room for this microphone to sit. It’s retail price is $149 but I found it on amazon for $99. The yeti offers a wide range of patterns and unparelleled recording environments. I really enjoy this microphone.

What does it offer?

The blue yeti offers a wide range of patterns for recording anything. There are 4 microphone patterns. (Omnidirectional, bidirectional, stereo, and cardiod). The difference between bidirectional and cardiod is that bidirectional sounds more bassy. Stereo is nice for interviewing and recording music. Omnidirectional gives you the whole range of the mic and picks up everything you do. This mode is good if you are recording a whole bunch of people or in my case demoing the iphone. The manual is well written out and gives a good detailed look about the different patterns and what you can do.

The Pros

The blue yeti has a lot of buttons on the fromt you have a mute switch and volume control around the back you see a gain knob and the pattern selector. On the button you will see the usb connector and a full size microphone thread for mounting on mic stand. You also have a headphone jack that provides no latancy monitoring in real time. I love this feature a lot and also the mute switch.

The Cons

There are really only two cons of the blue yeti. It’s really heavy so don’t be thinking your going to be putting this into your backpack and carrying it around. The second thing is that when you want to mount this mic onto a microphone stand you have to twist the knobs at either end of the mic that hold the included steady stand in place. This is hard to do, so, if you don’t need to do it then don’t.

Overall I love this microphone for the price. I rarely use my xlr microphones and mixer anymore because of this microphone. I think it was a good buy and there are a lot of reviews online and a lot of demos if this microphone on youtube.

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IOS and Apple

April 11, 2011

IOS apple’s mobile platform was introduced in 2007 when the iphone came out. I suppose it was the same was it is now and the only reason I say that is this. In my last blog apple didn’t make it’s devices accessible until the iphone 3gs was announced. So, I don’t know how it looked and really can’t say if it looked the same or has changed since it was released in 07. Apple has done a good job incorporating a screen reader into it’s mobile platform. It’s a real joy to use, with the triple click home feature you can make your iphone usable by a sighted person in a few millaseconds, and just as easily convert it back into the state you had the phone in last for you the blind user. Access is great and I really can’t say enough about this. Apple has just done a great job with their accessibility by not only building in a screen reader but also a magnifier and a large text option for mail, messages and contacts. The iphone is easy to use as well. With VoiceOver on, which is the screen reader you can drag your finger around the screen and the voice says whatever is below your finger. Double tapping on an item opens the app, once in the app flicking right or left moves you through the app interface. Note: you can also use the flicking method while on the main screen of the iphone and with all apps that are accessible.

The Walled Garden

 Mac OSX and IOS are closed platforms, and for me the end user that’s not a bad thing. If I don’t want to get into my system and hack it like I could windows. I still could hack into my IOS or Mac computer if I wanted to, but the reason I don’t is because apple have built their OS from the ground up. They’ve included everyting you’ll every need. Yes, it may be expensive but you pay a premium for something that is going to last you supstantionally much longer that a pc or any other phone would do. Now, I do have a few problems with the “closed mindedness” of apple, expecially when it comes to my iphone. Apple I paid the freaking money for your device, I bought the hipe, I bought into the apple franchise adn love the a11y you put forth. But, I bought the phone ok, so now let me customize it the way I want. Apple’s “strangle hold” on their mobile os is driving a lot of people to jailbreak. Yes, jailbreaking is legal but apple is trying to stop it. Ok, here’s my solution to that. Apple if you want people not to jailbreak then make IOS 5 customizable get off your soap box about how we are better than everyone else and listen to your customers. Just giving some consumer advice here folks. I’m just saying.

Computer God

The next topic I want to cover is this “Aaron your such a fan boy of apple because you use a macbook and an iphone, your always saying how good it is”. Wrong!!!!!!!! yes, I do applaud them for making a11y mainstream. However, there are some bugs within IOS that I have constantly sent emails to apple and I get the same email in return, but that’s for another post. I’ve been a windows user for a long time, a very long time. I’ve also used and will own a mac for school. I use what works for me depending on what I’m doing. Apple has a lot of things to fix with their iwork suite of applications in regards to VO (voiceover). People either think your all mac or all windows and you can’t use both systems to get things done you have to use one. The knowledge that you have had in windows before you switched over tot he Mac doesn’t apply. Hello!!! Wake up yes it does. Hacking OSX (apple’s OS) requires you to know some windows things. Bringing your knowledge from the pc does you good when you convert to the mac espically if you are a blind user. Explain in windows there are certain commands whether your using JAWS or Window Eyes doesn’t matter, that allow you to move around in a table. Well, look here the same thing for Mac. Yeah, it’s different commands but it’s still basic knowledge of how a table is laid out that works on either platform. This cult that apple has is stupid. Why, do people feel the need to defend apple? Apple is just a company and if something is wrong then tell them. You don’t owe apple anything just like you don’t owe HP, Dell, Toshiba or Microsoft anything. When my pc breaks and yes it has, I call up HP and say fix this. I don’t just say well that’s the way it is and here’s and priase HP for something that’s not there fault. Come on seriously people I mean come on. Am I the only one who thinks that apple should have incorporated VO into the orginal iphone? Heck no, but the mac had it before the iphone did so, why did it take apple 3 generations of the iphone and a lawsuit from the NFB to figure this one out? Now, you apple religionists can’t sit there and tell me “well they had to figure out how to get it in there”. “you just like windows mobile”. “apple didn’t do anything wrong you had a phone that worked”. WOH, apple didn’t do anything wrong? They didn’t do anything wrong? Let me reiderate a lawsuit by the NFB to get access to a mainstream device developed by apple. The a11y team at apple should have been thinking way ahead and should have put it in the original iphone not 3 generations later.

Ease Of Use

The mac is so easy to use, in fact, it’s almost boring. I am kidding it’s a blast to use. With a keystroke I can use my own computer, no additonal software to purchase to make it accessible. Applications run smooth and the screen reader reads them no problems. It’s the same on the iphone, 3 clicks of the home button and I’m ready to use my phone and whenever my friends want to see my phone or a person needs directions, easy just another 3 clicks of that button and speech is off. It’s so easy that a friend of mine who has never touched an iphone in his life picked mine up and was running with it in no time. I didn’t even show him a thing it’s that easy.

The Dark Side

I’ve said a lot of good things about apple, and I am generally happy with their performance. There are a few things however that are frustrating to me as a user.

1. In the music production app garageband you have to interact with everything and not just once but multiple times.

2. Syncing everything with itunes, it’s not a big deal but android doesn’t have you synce with a pc/mac application for everything.

3. Closed OS, why do I need to jailbreak to get features I want, I should be able to customize my iphone.

4. Putting something on then removing it then bringing it back. The 5 gen ipod nano had a camera, then apple decided to make it a touch screen and take it off on the 6th, rumor has it that the camera will be coming back on the 7th. My question why not just keep it in the first place?

5. Apple religion, this is not specifically apple’s fault but I don’t owe anything to apple they are a company when I bash a product or don’t like a move I’m gonna say it. There’s no reason to get defensive and protect them. Apple has lawyers to do that.

Conclusion

Apple is a great company, but a great company is gonna have it’s weak points. I commend apple for making accessibility for blind and low vision users a priority. But, under no circumstances do I give them credit for being so controlling over their mobile platform. Again, it’s my device I pay the bill every month I should be able to customize my phone any way I want. Once apple starts paying my cell bill then fine let them control it but until then (which that will never happen) I want control of my phone and have to optioin to customize the software.

So, my question to you is what do you like and hate about apple??

iPhone The Blind have Equal Access

March 24, 2011

In 2007 this revolutionary device called the Iphone was introduced. People who were using phones with qwerty keyboards and who were fed up with blackberry, palm, Nokia and the infamous windows mobile platforms flocked to the device. It was the big thing to have an iPhone and still is. But, sadly blind people were once left out as they usually are when companies bring out new products. I’m not whining about this fact it’s just that we are not big enough to make much of an impact without suing or telling a company “nicely” could you make this product accessible, here’s what’s wrong and needs to be fixed and added. So, after the iPhone then came the iPhone 3g, which, you guessed it was still not accessible. Many people wondered how are apple going to put access for blind and low vision into a fully touch screen device?? Well in the later part of 08-09 the iPhone 3gs came. Now sporting accessibility in the form of a screen reader called VoiceOver. A lot of blind people were wondering how is this screen reader going to work with a full touch screen. Going back a few years phones were made accessible by 3rd party software that you had to pay for to have your phone speak to you. It was only available on windows mobile or Nokia’s symbian platform. Well a lot of people went with windows mobile and for good reason, you could sync all your data from your pc to your phone. I for the longest time had a windows mobile device because of this fact and loved it. I even had a Nokia product before then because of the form factor of the phone which was a claim shell. I loved being able to just whip out my phone and write a text message without having to strain my eyes to see what I was doing. Then, I moved up to windows mobile. I loved have a full qwerty keyboard to play with and got so used to having a great keyboard on a windows mobile phone. As I stated above I had that device for a very very long time. Now, I have an iPhone 4. I was very skeptic at first on how the screen reader would work. I did my research and was hesitate to get the phone because I was so used to a tactile phone. I knew about apple products and how good they were, I had a ipod nano 4th gen before it just died on me and I had to throw it away. So, I knew how good and solid they were for sure. I gave in and got the iPhone. I spent a little bit of time learning the screen reader looking at what apple had put up on their website and found help with friends who had there iPhone’s way before I did. Surprising I found myself enjoying this new experience of having just a small phone without a tactile keyboard to go along with it. I enjoyed my new phone and I continue to learn about all it can do and how to use the screen reader in different ways every day.

Apple’s iPhone is becoming the most popular device to have with the blindness community. Everybody that I’ve talked to that has one have had good things to say about it. I’m not saying that there are not some things that need to be changed because there are, but for the most part iPhone 3gs or 4 work great and ancient technology like windows mobile and Symbian will be left behind never able to catch up.

The one thing I do miss though is having a hardware keyboard, there is just nothing like the feeling of having a physical keyboard. Not saying that the virtual qwerty keyboard on the iPhone is bad, it’s just that you can type a lot faster with a hardware keyboard. I haven’t found a hardware keyboard I like yet but I’m still looking. Overall, the iPhone is the best phone in this writer’s opinion for the blind. Why, because it already has the screen reader built into the phone. With other phones you have to purchase software to have your phone talk to you.

Now, I know I’m gonna get emails saying “well, I have an android phone and talkback works for me and it’s free”. Yes, I agree but how well does it work??? The difference between iPhone and Android (one of the main differences) is that you can surf the web with iPhone and do everything without (again) having to buy a 3rd party application that allows you to do so. I am talking about Code Factory’s Mobile Accessibility for Android. I can do everything with my iPhone with the screen reader that is built in and not have to pay for a 3rd party solution. I’m not saying that a MA (Mobile Accessibility) is bad just saying I’m not willing to pay for a 3rd party app when I already have my “eyes free” solution on the phone itself.

So, in conclusion the iPhone is a revolution for the blind. Is it worth the switch you ask. Well, for some people it may be and for others it may not be. I suggest that you go into an apple store and try it for yourself and just see. I’d look at your opinions and really do research. Whether you love apple or hate apple doesn’t matter what matters is what are you going to do with your device and how independent do you want to be when it comes to learning a new phone? Because, let me tell you with Android a lot of people are not going to be able to figure it out. iPhone you’ll get the basics of the device in no time flat. Again do your research and see for yourself as for me, iPhone and never looking back .

Disclaimer: I am not trying to put down other mobile platforms. I am just giving you an idea of how the iPhone has changed my life when it comes to staying in contact with friends and family and also getting work done. I would never say that iPhone is the answer because for some it may not be. But, I truly believe it’s a game changer. I do not claim to be an Apple fan boy nor am I. I just choose the product based  upon how accessible I wanted my phone. I am not bashing Code Factory I think what they have done is great, I just don’t want to spend the extra money for access.

As always thanks for reading,

SAA

 

Red Laser helps you while you shop

March 23, 2011

If you read my other article about an app called Omoby for the iphone then you’ll love this app. The app I’m referring to is called Red Laser another freebie in the app store. Red Laser is a lot like Omoby in that it identifies things. But, here inlies the differences. Red Laser uses bar codes to identify items unlike Omoby where you can use a shirt of some sort to find out it’s color. One of the things that I like about Red Laser is that when you scan a bar code for instance it goes out to the web and finds you deals locally and online. That’s pretty cool and it also keeps track of what you’ve scanned. It’s 100% accessible with VoiceOver. All buttons are clearly labeled and the interface is quite nice and well thought out by the developers. It’s perfect for using it in a grocery store. That’s mainly the way I use it. The app will recongize anything with a barcode. Cd’s, dvd’s, books, any sort of food. One of the things that I have a lot of trouble with is ther is no sound (like beeping) to let you know that the camera is on and searching for a barcode. There is also no indecation if a barcode has been found. So, it’s pretty hard if you don’t have any sight to use this app because there are no tones letting you know that app is searching  or if a barcode has been found. Other than that the app is really good and a joy to use.

SAA

Bringing Technology to the Masses

Omoby the best ID system for the blind or visually impaired

March 21, 2011

The Omoby image that's on your iphone  Omoby is an identification system for the iphone. It helps blind or low vision people by telling them colors and what objects are. A perfect example of why someone would need this application. Say, you are low vision meaning you can see a little but something is wrong with your eyes to where you need to use a cane to get around. You are at your home and say you can’t tell colors not that your color blind it’s just that you can’t tell colors (sort of like how apple can’t give us a sneak peak of IOS 5) but anyways, you have two t-shirts and you want to know what color they both are. Well, that’s where Omoby would come in. You’d pull out your phone pull up the app, place the phone next to one of the t-shirts and snap the picture. Now, chances are that Omoby will identify the color right away but if not here is where Omoby shines over Noogle Noggles which I’ll get to in another post. Omoby uses a feaure called crowd sourcing. What this means is that pictures that people have taken and put up on Omoby’s data base of different things that Omoby by itself couldn’t figure out. Your t-shirt for example if Omoby didn’t recongize it for whatever reason it would put that picture in it’s data base and would “look” through the crowd source until it found what it is that you took a picture of. I use this app a lot to identify things like certain foods that are all in the same looking box that I can’t see. If my eyes don’t want to work right that day I will use it to identify clothing colors so I’m not mismatched. It’s a pretty cool app and the best part it’s free. Another good thing for me is that it’s 100% VoiceOver accessible.

What is SAA about??

March 20, 2011

Welcome to SAA your source for well anything relating to technology. Our main focus is technology. Ok, well that’s all fine and dandy, but what is SAA. SAA or (Signal All Around) is a sister blog to a popular podcast known as STN (Signal To Noise). You can find STN here http://signaltonoise.podbean.com, SAA as said before is about technology. We don’t care if it’s Mac, PC, IOS, Android, Tablet, whatever it is we’ll write about it. SAA will be putting up some interesting news as well so watch out for those posts and other things related to technology as well. I haven’t decided if I’m going to do the Tech News every day or just do it every week and have a whole bunch of stories in one page or not, i have no idea we’ll see. I hope you enjoy and don’t be afraid to leave comments we like comments at STN and SAA.
Aaron L
Writer and editor of STN and SAA


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