A PS4 Update

I’d like to thank Nicolai for cluing me in on some updated verbage on the PlayStation blog.

Text-to-speech is available only for Message and Party, and is only performed in English.**

Glad to see Sony has updated their release notes to properly describe the text to speech feature. Here’s hoping for some great updates soon.

Hey, My console is talking!

I have always loved video games. I won’t ramble on about my past as a gamer as other articles have done this. I’ve had an interest in all things gaming since I was at least 4. I was always on the outside looking in due to the lack of access. As console’s became more complex they became harder to use. It used to be as simple as plug in a game, hit power, start playing. Now consoles of today have complex and dynamically changing menu structures. this following post will summarize what sony is up to along with my experiences using the ps4.

Today Sony launched a broad suite of accessible options including tts, zoom, contrast, and button remapping for those with physical impairments. I can only speak on the tts as that is what I primarily use.

Let’s go back slightly and talk about the overall setup process. As I write this, my PS4 has been in my hands all of 24 hours. Setting it up was simple since I was able to procure some eye balls. Enter my account information, verify my email, set some privacy settings. I was set.
the ps4 dashboard is actually fairly simple. A row of options on the bottom which shows your previously played games, music, TV, a browser, an app and game library. Pressing up takes you to an upper section which holds things like friends, trophies, messages, settings and power. We spent the evening messing around with a couple apps and cuing Injustice for download.

This morning, the 2.5 firmware was released adding the functions stated above. I was up bright and early and was able to get my grandma to help read some basic options. The update went smoothly and 2.5 was running. I found accessibility settings easily enough. it’s two up from the bottom in settings. The first option is text to speech. I pressed x on it, pressed x again to enable it, and then.. Well… Nothing.

I was very confused at first. Where was my text to speech? Enabling text to speech offered me options for both rate and volume. these options produced spoken feedback, so why wasn’t I hearing menus? Did I have something plugged in messing with speech? Was my theme causing problems? Well… No. It turns out that contrary to the release notes, text to speech only works inside of messaging and party chat. For reference, here is the line from the release notes.

Text-to-speech for all graphical user interface, including Message and Party.

The keyword of course here is all. Which sony hasn’t delivered on. I was very disappointed to see that I wouldn’t have global access to system menus, but then I decided to look on the bright side. For the first time I could actually interact with friends on my console. I quickly bounced off a message to Brandon Cole. “Hi my name is Liam.” A very simple message, but I wrote it independently using the on-screen keyboard. It then got me to thinking. Could I start a party with a couple of friends and play Injustice? In other words, could I destroy Brandon Cole in fighting games? I guess only time will tell. For now, we have the basics of what could be an extremely powerful solution so long as Sony keeps adding to it.

A warning about IOS 8.0

If you decide to update to Apple’s newest operating system please keep these things in mind.

IOS has a couple of outstanding bugs that may negatively impact performance for persons using Voiceover.  I’ve written a bit about the major ones below.  All these things have been found to happen in the Gold master release of IOS 8 which is usually the software Apple ships to customers. It is possible that there may be a completely different build that addresses all of these issues, but that is rather unlikely.

There are instances where Voiceover will crash.  Some people I’ve talked to have had this happened, and others haven’t. It seems like it happens much more frequently on the 4s and 5 as opposed to the 5s.  Your results may vary.

Ocasionally Voiceover will stop responding to touch events on the display of the device. I tend to have to do a mixture of things ranging from locking to out right restarting the device.

If you are a user who wants typing feedback for words only or no feedback while typing, you will find that Voiceover chooses to speak each letter typed. This is not a deal breaker, but is certainly a bug.

If using the new feature to disable audio ducking, you will notice that notifications may cause the voice vollume to temporarily lower.  there are also inconsistencies between vollumes at times.

If using voice messages, voice over will lose it’s place when flicking from messages to controlls to keep and delete messages.

Bluetooth keyboards have a serious bug, but unfortunately I can’t report back on this as I don’t use one.

If I’ve gotten something wrong, or if you’d like to expand then please comment.  My advice for upgrading to any new software is to weigh the pros against the cons. If bugs don’t bother you and you want to check out all the snazzy new features then go for it.  I hope this post may be useful.  If you’ve installed IOS8, write a comment and let me know how you like it.

How to deal with Watch EsPN in IOS

I wanted to talk a bit about WatchESPN which is one of my favorite services.  I constantly use it at home, and wanted to use it when I was out and about.  WatchESPN allows the consumer to enjoy live events from many different sports. for certain sports they also offer expanded coverage. Right now the Wimbledon Tennis tournament is going on and WatchESPN has had complete coverage allowing you to more or less take inwhat ever court you’d like.

There of course is a problem, and that would be accessibility.  The WatchESPN app for IOS is pretty much completely unusable.  List views do not contain any contents, and so it’s impossible to find anything to watch.

I recently found a way around this problem, and I figured I’d document it here.  Once you download Watch ESPN, you can open it and choose your cable provider. In my case it’s Xfinity. I entered my user name and password and the app loged me in. From there I am unable to actually choose an event.. Or am I.  If you visit http://watchespn.com in Safari you will actually see a list of events, and you are able to browse the schedules.  Double tap on an event to bring up it’s page. Then Double tap the link saying I already have Watch ESPN or something similar.  Watch ESPN will open, and you can commence to getting your sports fix. 

By no means is this a desireable method, but until ESPN fixes it this is what we have.  Figuring this out has really let me enjoy a ton more sports.  I hope it helps you as well.


Screwball Scramble

I was recently taking a trip down memory lane and came across this classic game.  I completely forgot I owned it and so wanted to yammer about it a bit.


Screwball scramble is a popular 80’s UK toy.  You use various controlls to move a ball bearing through an obsticle course.  There’s a track you must roll the ball through, a crane to carry the ball, paralel bars you must roll the ball down, a peg maze, and a bit more.


My first exposure to the game was on a trip to Ireland back in the early 90’s.  My seven-year-old mind boggled at the concept of the game.  he concept to me was totally amazing.  I promptly asked for a coppy for christmas, but since there was no internet then Sant.. I mean my mom couldn’t find it.


About ten years later I happened to be browsing a site with old board games and ran across it. Was it possible I could still buy it?  In fact it was.  It’s still being produced so I immedietly bought a copy.  I figured I would throw a few links for those who wanted more info or who may want to pick up a copy and play it.  For someone with visual impairments it’s not exactly the ideal game, but the concept is still kind of neat.  If you have young kids, they may enjoy it.


Wikipedia article


Purchase Screwball Scramble in the US


Purchase Screwball Scramble in the UK


Screwball Scramble done in 8 seconds


Removing that Awful 60 HZ Hum

I’ve been having boat loads of trouble getting a 60hz hum out of a stream I run from my cable box to the pc. I run this so that I can listen to TV when I’m out and about. I decided I’d write down my thoughts as to how I’m attempting to deal with this. My options and comments are below.

My setup is not the best in the world. On one side of the room on one outlet i have my tv, home theatre system, and game consoles. Across the room I have my pc, mixer, and monitor. Currently I’m transfering the sound through cables going across the room along the wall in to a beringer UCA222 which then feeds via ASIO in to the pc.

1. The Raspberry Pi

I recently purchased a raspberry pi to mess around with. truthfully, I’m not completely sure why I bought it, but I do have to say that it’s giving me a chance to learn a lot about linux, so that right there is worth it.

My initial thought was to set up the raspberry pi on the same outlet as the tv and cable box. I would run a line from the cable box via component cables to an IMic connected to the Raspberry Pi. Unfortunately, this has met with some difficultys.

The major difficulty was getting the Raspberry pi to recognize sound hardware to begin with. I’ve spent the last few days fighting a losing battle with Liquidsoap, Darkice, alsa, Pulseaudio, and the shreds of sanity I have left. the closest I’ve come to having any success is to get Liquidsoap to recognize the alsa device, and stream golden silence. I haven’t quite ruled this method out yet, but I’m close. the major upside to this method would be having the stream run on a separate device freeing up my main machien for other fun Liam-centric tasks.

2. A whole new Sound card

When I had bought the UCA222 a few years ago, I wasn’t so concerned with having digital in or out. After all, Why would I need such a thing? In researching possibilities, it was suggested I consider transfering the audio digitally. I haven’t dug in to buying a new sound card yet, as I don’t want to spend any more money on this project unless I need to. After all, it’s a hobby.

3. Outlets

My other option is to look at investing in some heavy duty surge protection. Currently the computer uses some ancient surge protector from the 90’s and the home entertainment part of my setup uses a squid. Not the Inky kind, but the electrical kind. I am sure that none of these devices carry any sort of noise reduction which may be all I need. Again this entails spending more money which I’d love to avoid. yes I’m cheap.

There are people who are much more expert than I, and this is why I call on you. If you have any ideas, please share with me. I want to have a nice, 60hz hum free stream that I can enjoy out and about. Have I missed something? Let me know in the comments or catch me on twitter.

A Professional Apology from your Web Host

So like. Ok check this out. We have this big data center right? And this big data center is like really big and stuff, and it uses a lot of this power stuff. Well like ok so you know when you have really important stuff like I dunno your computer or your Xbox or something and if the power goes out you want to keep it from just suddenly turning off right? Cause there’s nothing worse than when the power goes out during a game of Call of Duty and it’s like “Oh Crap man I was just about to win and shit just got real and the hell?”

So you plug it in to this thing like a UPS or something kinda like the dudes that deliver packages and I always have to sign for shit. I mean it’s no big deal anyways since I don’t work during the day and deliver pizzas at night and the UPS guy is always here around 2:30 or so. Oh yeah. So ok About that.

So our really big data center is supposed to have a UPS which it does… I think. But apparently like ok so some squirrel was like chewing on the wires again and it’s like “stop it damnit”, but anyways. So this squirrel is all up there omnomnoming the wires, and like zap! The squirrel is now like a McSquirrel or something which probably wouldn’t taste good even with cheese and mayo, but like the power got all funny and the data center went pop and apparently the UPS was never plugged in cause Joe was like all like “Dude I’ll do it tomorrow.”

So now our customers like can’t run their websites and stuff which sucks because now the world is all like “Omfg where’s all the websites with cat pictures”, and some 15-year-old can’t see lolcats or something and kills himself and then it’s like on the news abouthow we really fucked up and the headline is all like I Can has funeral and everyone laughs but it’s a real dick move.

So we’re trying to fix it, but it’s like difficult and we think we got it so we want to apologize if your site wasn’t working but it should work now so don’t cancel your service. We promise this won’t happen again. Until next week.

Let’s go on a field Tri… Crash!

I was really excited to hear about Google’s exciting new Field Trip app. Apparently for those using Android this is old news, but it’s finally made it’s way to IOS. Here’s a description pulled from the Itunes store.

Field Trip, your guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you is now on the iPhone! Field Trip runs in the background on your phone. When you get close to something interesting, it will notify you and if you have a headset or bluetooth connected, it can even read the info to you.

Field Trip can help you learn about everything from local history to the latest and best places to shop, eat, and have fun. You select the local feeds you like and the information pops up on your phone automatically, as you walk next to those places.

The hyperlocal history experts of Arcadia and Historvius will unveil local lore in places you never expected. Trend-setting publications like Thrillist, Food Network, Zagat, and Run Riot will point out the best places to eat and drink. Experts at Sunset, Cool Hunting, WeHeart, Inhabitat, and Remodelista will guide you to the latest unique stores and products. Atlas Obscura and Daily Secret help you uncover hidden gems no matter where you are. Songkick and Flavorpill guide you to local music.

What did you discover today? Enrich yourself with a Field trip during your commute. Live like a local when you travel to new places. Eat and shop off the beaten path. Or simply discover the obscure history about your neighborhood during your next walk to the park.

Get ready to see this world with new eyes!

So this sounds damn cool to say the least. I immedietly had to get it. but, I was in for a surprise.. A bad surprise.

Apparently Field Trip and voiceover do not get along. When using voice over once you make it past the secodn screen, you can say good bye to field trip. relaunchign the app produces the ability to send a crash report, so at least Field Trip knows it’s crashed.

this is the first time I’ve ever seen an app that disagrees with voice over. Turning voice over off makes the app work just fine. I’m curious as to what causes this odd behavior, and really hope google will find a way to fix this glaring problem.

Windows desktop blogging software?

Have been trying to find decent blogging software for windows.  Have tried blogjet, BlogDesk, and now am trying windows live writer.  I notice there is nothing decent for windows so far. Of course, Mac has MarsEdit which is just fantasticly awesome. Anyone out there on windows who blogs on a desktop client?

A new blog with old posts

I’ve decided it would be a good idea to start blogging again. I was happy to see I could take my livejournal posts and import them in to this blog, so now I’m caught up with the few posts I’ve made over the last few years. I’d love to say this blog will be full of intelegent discussion and mind-bending writings, but that would be a lie. Regardless, it will be nice to have a place to write my thoughts and such. And plus, wordpress is snazzy.

On the road

I figgured since I had set up a new blog, I would try actually doing some sort of mobile blogging stuff. For the curious, I’m writing this whole post using braille touch.

One part of my day that I don’t look forward tois my trip home to and from work. The trip usually takes an hour and a half on a good day. To really put the icing on the cake, I end up having to take taxis to and from the train station. That’s 10 bucks a day, 40 bucks a week. 160 bucks a month. You can do the rest of the math. I’m too busy tearing my hair out.

Anyonelse have a less than desirable trip too? Have you found any ways to cut costs?

A post about my hospital visit from four years ago

I was recently digging through some old entries and found something I had written for such great heights back when it existed. Remember those days?
Back in 2007 I had an extremely rough bout of depression. I had gone to the hospital for a week to try and sort things out. So I wrote a little about that. I wanted to post it. If for no other reason because I find it to be interesting, and I really have come a long way in four years.


so I wanted to write an entry from my hospital room full of up to date thoughts on how I was feeling. I obviously failed at that. mainly cause the pacmate and wordpress don’t like each other.

I’ll try and recap. Friday I had gone to the doctor. But by sunday I was a wreck. I spent an hour just bawling my eyes out for no reason. I then went on a walk with my mom around the block where I expressed my interest in not living any longer. My mom suggested I check in to the hospital. So we packed a bag, and went to the imposing structure that is lutheran General. I had been there a few times as a kid, but I never realized how incredibly massive this place was. I was ushered through the ER, answered some questions, got poked and prodded, and finally made my way up to 5 center where I’d spend the next 8 days of my life.

If you’ve never had the luxury and it is a luxury indeed to visit a mental health facility, I’ll try and explain. The whoel facility if a square with a couple hallways sticking out, but for the most point it’s square. There were about 14 or 15 rooms, but I may have miscounted. Next to my room was what they called the day room where all manner of daytime activities happened. We ate our meals there, had group therapy there, and even watched the ocasional movies or cubs games. In the center of the unit was the nurse’s station where all the nurses liked to hang out, drink coffee, and sometimes dish out meds if a patient got uppity.

So back to my stay. When I first arrived, they were quite concerned about having a blind person. They didn’t know what liabilities this could bring. So I was watched like a hawk. More like watched by 10 hawks coming and going out of my room. Oddly enough, the ones who were supposed to watch me, always ended up sleeping. funny how that works. They also were quite disagreeable to what items I brought in. Marmol the laptop was gonna have to spend the week at home. Same with my deliciously portable xm radio. However my portable am/fm/weather radio got in. well it was ok till they saw the antenna. But they relented, and I had partial entertainment. I also ended up spending the next 8 days in pajama pants. apparently they were selective on what you could wear. You couldn’t have anything with strings or laces. They were crazy.

Sunday was spent getting familiar with the vast spacious facilities. Then I realized I was dreaming and was in a small enclosed area that was tightly secured and locked up. Once I was processed I was wheeled, yes wheeled. You know. like, in a wheel chair? go figgure. I was wheeled in to my lovely new room which contained: a bed, a night stand, a dresser, and some other rolling table. All this furnature for me? I was so happy. Especially since all I could really use it for was for clothes. oh and my portable radio which they didn’t want me to have. and my pacmate, and my library books on tape I never got to. So in all in all, thanks for the furniture. I spent the rest of sunday sleeping, being woken up by phone calls from people finding out where I was, and then going back to sleep again.

The eight days themselves were a blur. I can’t pin-point specific actions on specific days, but I’ll try and remember some of my more outstanding experiences. I remember monday pretty well. I had woken up and didn’t know what wonders the day would hold. I had a delicious breakfast which ended in a panic attack. What fun. Every morning, we had to rate ourselves on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 feeling the worst, and 10 feeling the best. I never got above 5. I can vaguely remember saying something like. “Hi. I’m Liam. and I’m a scared 1.” I really was a moron. We also had groups too. Groups were fun fun fun. Would you believe that for all the time we spend there, I can’t remember anything of what went on? I know there was group therapy, and an arts and crafts group. But I can’t remember anything else. Some of my group times were interupted so I could speak with the resident doctor about how I was feeling.
Somewhere in the middle of the week, they started putting me on meds. OH those wonderful meds deadened my feelings, and made me happy. “Hi. I’m Liam. I’m a 5 today. I don’t know what they gave me, and I can’t spell it. But it makes me feel goood.” After some mornings of suicidal thoughts and much crying, my meds were ajusted, and I felt improvements.

Monday night my mom was able to smuggle in the pacmate. They didn’t want me to have it, but I calmly explained that when I was sad I liked to write about being sad. It helped me feel better. I also told them that the pacmate also had some books on it that I could read to forget about the stuffy opressive environment I had trapped myself in. They relented and I had my pacmate. Of course, I left out the small detail about how my pacmate had a wireless network card. I was soon to discover Lutheran General’s open wireless network, and good times would roll. It was nice to be able to keep up with my email and check messages on msn and the zone. It was one of those few things that really helped me. I don’t want to think about how I would of coped with out the pacmate. Even not having internet would of been fine, but I needed a distraction to distract me from what I was dealing with.

One of the few bright spots I found about the place was a patient named Ken. Ken was plain awesome. No matter who you were, Ken always had something nice to say. I’m not even sure why he was there, but it was reassuring to have a friend to talk to. Ken is about 30 years older than me, but we still had a lot to talk about. He liked baseball, so on sunday we watched a cubs games. He also was rather fond of the pacmate and it’s seemingly limitless potential. He nicknamed it the XBox. Which is a nickname I’m more than happy to keep. He was really positive and that helped. We both got out on the same day, and I don’t know if I would of wanted to stay after he left. Talking to the staff just didn’t seem like it would be as much fun.

Last monday I was discharged or freed. Pick your term. It’s been good to get back home. As I explained to my friend on ventrilo the next day. You miss the little things while you’re inside. You miss your freedoms, and you even miss the outdoors. As I write this, the window to my right is open letting in a cool early morning breeze. The birds are singing in the trees, and I can hear the ocasional automobile as it drives by. None of this was possible inside the hospital. All you heard were ambulances, and code blues and yellows from the nurses station’s intercom. I feel like I’ve learned a lot during my stay at the hospital, but it is an experience I choose not to repeat.