The Roundtable Dissects WWDC

Posted in Podcast Appearances at 9:17 AM

After enduring (we actually liked a lot of it) a super-long WWDC keynote, the Maccessibility Roundtable crew held forth on all of Apple’s announcements and shiny gewgaws.

Download Maccessibility Roundtable #86: Grandpa Fonzie


Maccessibility Roundtable #85

Posted in Podcast Appearances at 12:04 PM

With WWDC approaching, we share our wish lists for the probable new versions iOS and OS X. Also, watch updates from those who have em.

Download Maccessibility Roundtable #85: The Guys Only Name the Big Ones


Blind Bargains (Almost) Half Year in Review

Posted in Podcast Appearances at 3:36 PM

Joe and J.J. over at the Blind Bargains BBQast invited me to join their panel of guest pundit-types to talk about the year (so far) in assistive technology (AT.) And it was fun, especially because I got to chat with Ricky Enger and Chancey Fleet.

Blind Bargains Qast 16: Purrfect Hot Donuts


Podcast Catchup, WordPress Crackup

Posted in Announcements, Podcast Appearances at 8:25 AM

Ten days ago, I posted a podcast. Almost immediately, I broke the Shelly’s Podcast Web site. Well, I broke it because I was missing some essential WordPress knowledge. I spent a lot of last week acquiring the knowhow I needed to fix the site, and being grateful that DreamHost, a hosting service I understand some people have problems with, was so willing to walk me through making nitty gritty fixes to MySQL tables. It’s worthy of note, too, that they neither condescended to me, or left me dangling. The site is back up, and you can find episode #252 of Shelly’s Podcast there. People seemed to like this one. I was frenetic, and grumpy, and podcasting solo. So go figure.

Also, here’s a short list of things I learned about WordPress last week:

  • How not to back up your WP site
  • How not to get content from an old installation to a new one
  • Where the content of your site actually resides (in the database, duh.)
  • The joy of cleaning crap out of wp-content
  • How to muck around in phpAdmin, including the export of data, deletion of excess database tables, and the editing of others
  • Why things broke in the first place, and how making your site more secure can sometimes bit you in the buttocks

The Maccessibility Roundtable also happened last week. I sure wish spell-check would quit trying to correct the word maccessibility, by the way. Lots of Apple Watch talk, as one might expect.

Maccessibility Roundtable #84: I Never Wasn’t a Dictater


Maccessibility Roundtable #83

Posted in Podcast Appearances at 2:17 PM

Netflix audio description, and questions after one week with the Apple Watch

Maccessibility Roundtable #83: The Wrath of Khan Setting


Wag a Long Tail: Pondering How to Write about Old Movies

Posted in Classic Film, General Store, Random Personal Nonsense at 9:43 AM

A few weeks ago, I updated the categories on my little blog. I wanted to give some love to the various long tails referenced up there in the tagline. OK, so write something, already!

I’ve loved classic film since high school, when I…that’s a blog post I’ll write later. Suffice it to say, old movies have been an obsession of mine for EVER. And, like most hobbies, or fandoms, or relic-worship topics, the Internet has been very good to classic film fans like me. My RSS reader is full of blogs about it, and they inspire me. But I continue to struggle with finding a focus for the writing I want to do. Some people review films. Others write profiles of actors and directors. A few film historians place the movies they love in the context of film history. Genres including film noir and pre-codes have their own blogs, too. 

My first film-writing project will be the second annual Noir City Austin festival, coming to town in May. It’s 12 movies in one weekend, all based on the writing of Cornell Woolrich. He, by the way, figures prominently in the detective and suspense dramas of old-time radio. There’s another long tail for the category list! 


Apple’s Trust Dividend

Posted in Access and Disability at 12:20 PM

If I were asked to summarize the attitude of enthusiasts toward Apple Watch accessibility, this would be my pull-quote:

“It was kind of weird for awhile, and I’m still not 100 percent sure what to expect, but everything will be awesome!”

(By the way, that’s less than 140 characters, leaving plenty of room for breathless hashtags.)

The chain of events leading to next week’s delivery of the first Apple Watches has not been without twists and turns. If you were to construct an announcement-to-ship day timeline, you might wonder what Apple was thinking, or perhaps why blind and low-vision people should be so eager to early-adopt this particular first-generation gadget. The answer, dear reader, is a simple one. Among Apple’s many assets is trust. Despite shipping delays, radio silence about accessibility features (until last week,) and in-store demo units with dimmed access settings, there’s little doubt among those I talk to that the watch will be a useful, fun, stylish, and accessible purchase. People just believe in this company.


Apple Watch Demos, and the Irony of Low-Vision

Posted in Access and Disability, New Media and Tech at 8:10 AM

I wrote last week about Apple Watch accessibility, mostly pointing to the first hands-on articles written by VoiceOver users. Many of our questions have now been addressed. VO is part of the watch, and so are some low-vision features, including zoom and grayscale. But during the long few weeks between watch pre-orders and watch unboxings, uncertainty obviously remains. In the larger context, that’s the point of the in-store try-on program, right? You use some combination of wrist, fingers, ears, and eyes to assure yourself that this new gadget is a thing you want, and will actually be able to use.

Last week’s first look stories told me much of what I wanted to know. But as a low-vision user whose primary interaction with screens happens through my eyes, two decidedly visual resources gave me even more clarity. Apple’s updated watch accessibility page, which I linked last week, includes great big screenshots for many watch features and apps. I mean, really big screenshots! From them, I learned that many screens use light text on a dark background; my preferred color scheme. This was welcome news, since there is apparently no Invert Colors option. Last night, I happened to see David Sparks’ Periscope broadcast of his visit to an Apple Store. His camera focused on a working Apple Watch (not the demo loop videos provided to try-on customers.) David and his companion scrolled through various screens, even responding to the questions of chat viewers, who wanted to see this or that app in action. Again, I got to see a lot of screens with easy-to-read text, along with the gestures used to manipulate their contents.

If I could leave just one mark on the tech world, it would be a giant mashup of access-focused and mainstream-focused product coverage. There’s so much we can learn from one another. 


Watching the Accessible Watch Coverage

Posted in Access and Disability, New Media and Tech at 11:29 AM

I snarked on Wednesday about the number of Apple Watch reviews, and the seemingly larger number of Apple Watch review roundups. A day or so after the big-picture coverage, we got a couple of write-ups that focused on Apple Watch accessibility. Which was terrific, and answered questions many potential watch buyers had been asking since September, and which Apple had only begun to address on its site within the past few days. (By the way, the Apple page continues to gain info and good screen shots, so keep an eye on it.)

AppleVis contributor David Woodbridge, and Steven Aquino, writing for iMore, each described their hands-on experience with the watch, compared its accessibility to iOS, and listed a number of accessibility-oriented features and options. David’s piece gives an in-depth, nuts-and bolts look at the Watch experience of a blind user, while Steven adds the perspective of someone with both visual and motor disabilities. He also attempts to place the watch in the context of how gadgets can improve people’s lives.

Both articles were great, and I’m pleased that Apple saw fit to give these writers early access to the watch. The detailed discussion of what is and isn’t accessible, and how the interface differs from iOS will make pre-ordering decisions easier for a lot of people. But as I followed the story of Apple Watch accessibility on Twitter, and in my RSS reader, I couldn’t help but notice that one of these two articles received a good deal of attention and linkage from the mainstream Apple press, while the other scored love and traffic inside the accessibility community. Even when the topic is access, it seems, there’s a weird divide between segments of this corner of the tech world.



Maccessibility Roundtable #81

Posted in Podcast Appearances at 9:28 AM

Apple Watch anticipation continues, but we distract ourselves with Periscope, and Steve Jobs biography talk.

Maccessibility Roundtable #81: The Hearts Aren’t Labeled