iThing Thoughts

Last Updated on: 24th December 2012, 04:21 pm

Remember those old Freedom 55 commercials? “Imagine visiting yourself in the future!” Well I wish I could get in a time machine and go back about 3 years, and visit this version of me. Oh poor old me. Poor old me not being able to use an iThing at all. And now I own one. I think she would have thought I lost my mind. I’d also like to visit the guy in the Rogers store who told me it was impossible for me to use one of these things. I’d like to laugh in his face. Suuuuucka!

To make a long story short, at the beginning of this month, I bit the bullet and got an iPhone. I reeeeally wanted a GPS for my phone since I don’t know where anything is in this town. Just look at the adventures I talked about in finding Christmas gifts. So when Rogers offered me a deal and my old phone was being a battery-sucking monster, I took a deep breath and got an iPhone.

And I friggin love it. The only thing I don’t love is my slowness at texting on the move. I used to be able to walk and text like nothing. Of course I’d only do it on stretches of sidewalk that are pretty easy and unobstructed, but I could. Now not so much. Having the Fleksy app makes my life infinitely easier, and having Siri for the real easy texts is also handy…but still even with fleksy, I have not become a master of typing and walking. I know it’s possible, Steve’s pretty good at it, so I think all I need is practice.

Here’s an oddity I haven’t been able to solve. If I open all contacts, Voiceover reads the heading structure all wrong. Even if you’re actually pointing at the heading for e, Voiceover will say something completely random like R. And it picks different random letters every time. The funny part is I can do one pass through contacts and it will read the headings correctly. Then it goes south. I’ve restored my phone and no go. I’ve been to the apple store and no go. I would like my headings back, please.

And for some unknown reason I have a royal devil of a time trying to hang up the phone. I can answer it no problem. Hanging up? I have to wait for the other guy to do it. Sometimes I can find the end button but that’s not perfect. It makes for some rather unceremonious endings on voicemails.

Oh, and iTunes, when used with JAWS, can eat steaming bags of hell. Blarch! That restoration process should not have been that painful. But apparently the only screen reader that does reliably well with iTunes is Window Eyes…so guess who has a Window Eyes demo just so I can use iTunes?

What I friggin love about the iPhone is all the apps you can just yoink up for free or very little money. It’s scarily easy to do. While waiting for our bus back to Guelph, I bought and downloaded a bunch of apps, just click, click, yeah I’ll take that one, and that one too. Yup, grab it, install it. It’s scarily quick and easy. My phone’s getting a ton of useful stuff, so much so that I’ve had to make folders for stuff so I don’t have exploding home screens. Oh by the way, Applevis is the best site ever.,

What’s weird is how my perspective changed about whether I think something is expensive or not. Because so many things are free or like a buck, if an app is 10 bucks, I sit and contemplate whether I should buy it or not, like I’m getting JAWS or the KNFB reader or something. Then I’m like jeebers woman, it’s 10 bucks and it looks useful. Stop being such a cheapskate.

And um? I just downloaded an app for scanning stuff on the go. It’s called Text Detective, and holy shit is it fast. It has troubles sometimes, but for the sale price of 2 bucks I think it’ll do the job. Don’t I feel like a total idiot for spending 600 bucks on the KNFB Reader now? Hey old Carin, here, have your iBalls. Got it right here. Would it be Text Detective? Or maybe VizWiz? Or how about LookTell? And there’s more!

There is one $10 app that’s ticking me off right now. I bought LookTel, but it won’t say a thing. It’s supposed to speak Canadian bills, but hell if I can make it read anything. I figured it would be a handy app to have, and I do travel to the states, so it would be able to read my American money. Well…I don’t know what’s shakin’, but it won’t say anything. Any thoughts? I’ve tried being in plenty of light, passing the bill under the phone, holding the phone over the money, flipping the money. Nuttin’! I’m really hoping it’s something silly, because paying $10 for an app that does 0 things isn’t my idea of a good purchase.

One app that is going to rock my life is Blindsquare. Yes, it does have something to do with Foursquare, but it has nothing to do with the evil practice of checking in on Foursquare and tweeting checkins. It’s basically a GPS using the Foursquare database of locations. As you walk around, it tells you where those places are, and how far. Then you can open maps and plan routes if you want. Like, duuuuude! When you don’t know where anything is, having something tell you what it sees is pretty goddamn cool. And it even sorta worked in the mall! Inside a building! Woe dude! I almost wanna get a Foursquare account just so I can make more venues show up so the mall would be easier to navigate. But don’t worry, I will *never* tweet my checkins. Eeewww.

I feel like a dork, but I’ve actually used Siri and she’s been moderately helpful and also amusing. I’ve let her write texts for me. She has made a few errors, but for the most part it’s been ok. She’s looked up stuff on Google when I didn’t feel like typing, and done the whole weather thing.

I don’t understand some of her shortcomings. I would think that I could ask her for help with a feature on the phone and she could look through the user’s guide. But she can’t do that. She also can’t enter new contacts. That surprises me since she can make new reminders and new appointments. What’s so hard about a new contact? Does it take too many steps? Then break it down. She breaks down other stuff. But hey, she’s pretty cool for what she does do. I was just surprised at some of the stuff she couldn’t do.

It’s weird. I know that Siri is a program. But I kinda feel rude for barking orders at it…and have routinely called it a she. I don’t call Voiceover a she, it has a female voice, but Siri is a she. Ok then. I sometimes wonder if, if people spend too long talking to Siri, if they’d start being assholes to other people just because they get accustomed to talking that way. Then I think that I think too much and wonder if I’ve lost my mind.

So yeah. I have an iThing. I bit the bullet and I now am using an iPhone as my cell phone. Eek. But I’m having fun, so it’s all good. Take that, Rogers cell phone guy who told me a blind person couldn’t use an iThing.

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  1. I understand your feelings toward Siri. I get odd looks now & then, for things like “thank you, Siri”.

  2. A two finger double tap should hang up your call. Sometimes it doesn’t work the very first time but then it will the second time. And yeah, AppleVis is the best freaking site since sliced bread or something.

  3. I have trouble with that damned 2-finger double tap too. I hope I never have to hang up on somebody in a rage.

    “Yeah? Well fuck you!”

    Bonk bonk.

    “That’ll teach…ahh shit.”

    Bonk bonk.

    “Son of a…”

    Bonk bonk.

    Pulling off a 2-finger double tap hang up on the first try happens so rarely that I stil kinda throw a mini celebration when I nail it.

    And I don’t have her since I’ve got the ancient iPhone 4 (only ancient in Apple Land), but I get the Siri is a person vibes watching you use her. I wonder if the phone doesn’t seem like a he or she because VO represents the whole phone, kind of the way JAWS or whatever represents the entire computer. It just does what you say and doesn’t try to get cute about it. If you tell JAWS to pound rocks, it’ll pound them unless it’s crashed. Siri will either ask you if you’re sure, or maybe even protest about having to do such manual labour when she’s more of a secretary. They’ve got her working like an almost person.

  4. A couple more things.

    1. Here’s your commercial.

    Wonder if it’ll let me embed it in a comment. Never tried that.

    2. If you want to get good at Fleksying while walking, the best thing you could do is develop a massive pacing issue like I have. You walk around that much and it’s good experience for doing it when you’re on the road. On the road, I must say, is still much harder.

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