Author Archives: Liam

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?

The Iphoen two years later

I was looking back at my blog and realized the last time I blogged was two years ago. I had written about how unsure I was about purchasing an Iphone. Wow have times changed.

I love My Iphone. Enough said. It’s opened up a whole new world to me hither to unknown. I remember having it for the first two days and wondering what I had gotten myself in to. And then all of a sudden everything just clicked. I was amazed with how easily I was able tonavigate, send email, text, and a ton of other stuff. All with a phone that I had purchased at a store with out any extra accessibility software. No Mobile speak! No Talks! Just a phone off of a shelf. The best part was when Apple added bluetooth keyboard support. I was able to turn my phone in to more or less a PDA. How great is that?

I won’t yammer on about how much I love this phone. Other than I’ve done a complete turn around.