>Jibber Jabber, Chit Chat, and Tech Talk

>I don’t know what’s up with me right now, but I’m full of this unfocused, nervous energy. I’m about as distracted as Trixie after she just saw a pup she likes. I thought maybe, just maybe, I could write a post and get that energy out. So here’s some randomness…ooo! A squirrel!

I find the latest commercial slogan for Swiss Chalet really disturbing. IT is “family happens at Swiss Chalet.” Uh, what’s in the sauce? Is it an aphrodisiac? I don’t really want to see tables of folk making family happen. Ug. Maybe I’m just weird, but I don’t think that was the image they were going for. Oh, and those fake Swiss Chalet hotline clips are so beyond fake, especially knowing how zombified the Swiss Chalet phone drones are.

What is with us liking the concept of failure piles? I saw a commercial for the Burger King breakfast wrap. It had bacon, eggs, and hash browns, covered in a smoky cheese sauce. A what what what? I was cool with the bacon and eggs, I was starting to raise my eyebrows at the hash browns, but smoky cheese sauce? Why not just melt some cheese on it? What’s with the sauce? What’s with the need to turn everything to mush? Has anyone tried one ? Is it good? It has the famous/chicken bowl effect. I almost want to try it, then recoil at the thought of smoky cheese sauce.

So if you live in Toronto right now, you probably want to track down and strangle every Toronto Transit Commission worker you can find. They said they came to an agreement, and now, without warning, wammo! They went on strike! The story on the news was the usual cross-section of people cursing the drivers, not caring, saying they’d walk to work, yada yada yada. Then a TTC driver came on the TV, and showed himself to be douchebag of the hour. He said, “I sympathize with the riders, but I have to do what’s right for me. It’s my livelyhood. I mean, they aren’t paying my mortgage.”

Uh, er, yeah they kind of are. Let me sum it up for ya real quick. No folk buying bus tickets or subway tokens = no fucking bus service = no fucking job for you. Hey, go ahead and strike if you feel you have to, but to say that statement onTV makes everybody hate you more. And you’re probably one of the assholes who still don’t speak the stops out loud even though you kind of have to by law. What a douche. If you were one of the union reps, you didn’t help win public sympathy, that’s for sure.

I have to write this down, because whenever I think about it, I feel bad for my friend. the other day, I ran into a friend. She said hello to me, and said a quick hi to Trixie. She didn’t even change her voice or make kissy noises or try to pet her. She just said hi. Trixie knows who she is, but didn’t flip out or anything. We talked for a bit, and thenI went on my way. Then I found out later that after I left, a woman charged up to my friend and started screaming at her that she’s not supposed to talk to my dog etc. I appreciate the concern, but I really wish others would stop speaking for me. I had one woman ream someone out for talking to me because she was keeping me from counting steps. Uh, I don’t count steps. If I seem to be in no distress, then you shouldn’t be either. If you’re worried, ask *me* if I need help.

Here’s a note to the folks who make the Book Port. I love your machine and I’m sad that I think it’s essentially reached the end of its evolution. But when you make a manual for it, you cannot assume that it will work perfectly. Please, please, please, for the love of Pete, include a troubleshooting section. I’ve run into a problem, your manual doesn’t help, and google has no answers. But every problem I’ve run into, I’ve had to go to google, because your manual does not have anywhere to go to find the solutions to error messages. If your machine makes error messages, explain them, please!

This is the problem I’m having right now, in case anyone knows or cares. I’m trying to copy a Daisy book. The BookPort sees the ncc.html file that has all the info about where all the chapters are, etc. It says, “How much of the book do you want to copy?” When I select what I want to copy, it yells the following:
“ffmp3. Unable to open c:\docume~1\my user name\locals~1\temp\BTDTBConv.mp3. Ok.”
Well thank ya very much. Would you like to tell me what to do about it? No? Damn you! I’ve tried copying smaller and smaller chunks of the book, to no avail. So I’ve now joined another list where hopefully I will find my answer, and when I do, I’ll post it here, so if someone else has the same problem, google will know the answer!

What is it with me and buying technology that eventually bites me in the ass? That has become a trend for me in recent years. Years ago, I heard about something called a Braille note. It was basically a super PDA for blinks. My first response was “I want one I want one I want one!” It could do email, internet, you could write documents in something more sophisticated than txt, it had a braille display, which meant possibly all my French and stats I was taking at the time wouldn’t have to be in bulky braille volumes, and if you wanted, you could get a GPS receiver and it could do GPS! Then I saw the price tag, 6 grand, and realized that this would take more work.

I started to do some research, and stumbled into meeting a guy who sells this stuff. I had heard good things about him, and he seemed knowledgeable and patient. He was also blind himself, so it seemed he wasn’t talking out his ass. Or so I thought.

He told me I shouldn’t go with a Braille note. I should go with the Braillex ELba. It was made by Papenmeier, a company who I’d heard good things about. It was slightly cheaper than the Braille Note, more updates were supposed to be free, it was to be more durable, and its software applications were things that regular sighted linux geeks would use, like Pine, Lynx, Pico, all that jazz. So, I thought I could get broader support. It had more things built into its hardware that the BN didn’t have, like an RJ45 port, stuff like that. I even read the manual! It looked like a pretty good option.

Since mom and dad were helping me get this thing, I figured I’d better make double triple quadruple sure I was making the right choice. I joined a list of users of the ELba, and asked a few questions. Everyone was googoo gaga about how much they loved their machine, and how they were using it as their primary machine when their windows machine was out of commission. One guy even wrote a, um, poem, about his, which I may post later because I wrote my own disparaging poem afterward. I just couldn’t resist.

Anyway, I bought the thing. That’s the point of this rambling mess. As soon as I bought it, I started noticing problems. The thing didn’t follow the manual’s description of what it should do. I couldn’t activate the flash card, and that’s when the vendor who sold it to me got snippy and impatient. He told me all of this must have been user error. Eventually, I convinced him that the slot in fact was broken. I sent it away to be fixed, and it came back even more broken, i.e. refused to power on, than it was whenit left. I sent it away again, and convinced mom and dad that we needed to go physically pick it up when it was repaired. Note: It was being repaired in New Jersey, because the Canadian vendor from whom I bought it conveniently didn’t have his license to fix the product he was selling. Mom and dad, let me say publicly that I love ya.

It came home ok, but we still had problems. Nothing followed what the manual said it should do. It couldn’t keep time worth a shit, which is important when you’re using its alarm and day planner functions. The sound card would randomly crackle and make horrible staticky noises. So much for being durable there, dude. Then, after receiving one firmware update, the whole product was discontinued! Should one expect that the final version of a product would be 1.3 after the company expects each customer to lay out 6 grand for this thing?

So now, I own a braille display that I rarely use because it’s big and clunky, the functions don’t do what they say they do, I still have an email in its outbox that I composed to Steve at least five years ago that I never managed to send, and my parents andI paid a heap of cash for it. And, I had done my research.

That was my biggest blunder in the technology arena, but oh I have more. I bought a daisy-player/recorder called a Plextalk that I had actually laid eyes on and thought was cool. I soon learned that if there is even the slightest imperfection on a CD or a card, it won’t read it! It’s voice quality sucked for recording, and the manual sounded like it had been backtranslated from German to English using babelfish. Ug!

Next up was this horrible excuse for a computer. This one really hurt. I bought it from a guy who I had had years of experience with. He had repaired my Braile ‘n Speaks for years. Hell, he took one whose circuits had been fried by electrical current when the control circuit that only allowed in enough voltage to charge the battery bit the big one and turned it from being a dead piece of metal that smelled like smoke and fire and had lumps at the site of the battery to a completely working unit with all my data intact and no lumps! I thought he must be pretty good at what he does. He even refused to sell my dad a piece of software that ddad wanted to buy. It was an old screen-reader called Slimware Windowbridge. Anybody heard of that now? No? Didn’t think so. He told dad he wouldn’t sell it to him because it sucked. Dad argued, and he still didn’t budge. He was right. It did suck. I got to use it when I was a camper at SCORE 95, a computer camp for blind and visually impaired teens at CNIB. It was so bad that when we tried to show the founder how well we could use it, it locked up two computers.

So when it was time to get a new computer when my old beast had been with me for 5 years, I thought “Great! This is the perfect vendor. He’s honest, and he knows his stuff.” Well, not when it came to computers. I swear this machine was cobbled together using the most substandard of parts. I blew a couple of regulators, the main fan whined like a jet engine and had to be replaced, I had to replace the onboard sound chip with a sound card, the scanner ceased to function almost immediately and it still doesn’t work right, when I went to buy Ram for this lagging beast and I showed the specs to some good techs I know, they said “What? It runs at what speed? Hmmm. I don’t know what ram it would support.” They eventually found an old stick that might work and gave it to me for free. That says two things: These techs are sweet, and good lord this thing uses weird Ram. As of now, the computer is still sluggish, and I hear screeching of ball-bearings inside which disturbs me, but no one else can hear it. Thankfully, this machine only has to stagger along for another year before I can get a new computer, and I’ll be going with Star Computer Services. If they screw me over, I’ll have to pick my jaw up off the floor.

Now, my cell phone has been good to me. But, I’m slo on the draw, because that whole generation of phones is becoming obsolete. I’ve only had the damn thing for 10 months, and Talks, the screen-reader it uses, is no longer producing updates that will work on it. I’m thinking about getting a Nokia N82 because it’s a newer phone and it has some kickass features, but no cell phone provider sells it directly, so I’d have to buy it elsewhere, and I wonder if I should. Will I be heading for more trouble? Should I just be glad for what I have and not try and buy anymore gear? It’s a good thing I didn’t go out and get Wayfinder Access for this phone.

So this brings me back to the BookPort and its problems. I pray they’re minor, but I’m worried, and now I hear the listserve I joined is no longer populated with anyone to help. I just joined a listserve of maybe 3 people, one of whom is out of the office, as I got her out of office autoresponder replying to my message. Dandy.

Well, that random post became less random and more whiny real fast, didn’t it? I guess I should get my ass off this chair, take Trixie out for a pee, and then come back and find those silly poems. Ah, nostalgic emails that I’ve saved for way too long. I guess they did serve a purpose after all. Have a good Sunday. Hope it doesn’t rain.

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