ShellyBlog Shelly Brisbin's life consists of several long tails. She writes about them here.

November 15, 2016

My Podcast Smorgasbord

Filed under: Podcast Appearances — Tags: , , , , , , — Shelly Brisbin @ 9:11 AM

In the course of promoting my book, iOS Access for All, I’ve been invited onto several podcasts. For the most part, these are new opportunities for me, though a few invites came from old friends. I’ll link you to all the shows, but I want to give you reasons to listen to specific ones, since they’re so different. Also, if you just can’t get enough of my yammering, subscribe to the All Shelly, All The Time podcast feed, to hear shows I make, co-host, or visit.

Here’s what I did last week:

  • Mac OS Ken: You should know first off that Ken Ray is one of my favorite people, and I love any excuse to talk with him. This episode is one of the best conversations I’ve ever had on a podcast . We talk about the state of the Mac, my goofy love of the iPod Touch, Apple’s approach to promoting its accessibility offerings, and much more. If you only have time for one of these, make it Ken’s show.
  • Chit Chat Across the Pond: Allison Sheridan didn’t ask me on to flog the book. What she said was “Come on the show to talk about anything you like.” Well that’s a juicy invite, eh? I wanted to talk about my self-publishing journey; picking a subject, summoning the guts to launch a ginormous project, and choosing (and discarding) tools, along the way.
  • Daily Tech News Show: I have admired Tom Merritt since he co-hosted Buzz Out Loud, back in the mid aughts. His current show is fast-paced, wide-ranging, and just plain fun to do. Tom challenges you to step up your game, and his questions, and ability to take in new information are splendid.
  • The Tech Doctor: Robert Carter and Allison Hartley have been kind enough to have me on the show before. They know, as I do, that many in their audience are familiar with my book. Their questions this time around were big picture, and that makes the interview more interesting.
  • Mac Power Users: David Sparks and Katie Floyd share my love of outlines and other structural guidelines. You’ll hear the results in a 1.5 hour conversation about Apple accessibility. I feel as though I was able to describe the breadth of available tools to an audience that understands Apple’s leadership, but doesn’t really know how it all works.
  • MacVoices: Chuck Joiner always has room for me on his show, and I appreciate it. Like the Tech Doctors, he gets that a repeat appearance could be boring, so he finds a way to change things up for each visit

Thanks to Ken, Allison, Tom, Robert, Allison, Katie, David, and Chuck for giving me a platform to talk about all the things. And if you’re still reading, it’s worth noting that I released two shows of my own last week; The Parallel, and Hollywood on the Radio. Finally, Maccessibility Roundtable held its bi-weekly meeting, so do check us out.

January 13, 2016

Is Apple TV Truly Accessible to Blind and Visually Impaired Viewers?

Filed under: Announcements,New Media and Tech — Tags: , , , , , — Shelly Brisbin @ 11:41 AM

I tackled the question of Apple TV accessibility for AccessWorld, the monthly magazine of the American Federation for the Blind.

July 17, 2015

The One iPod Touch Fangirl

Filed under: New Media and Tech,Random Personal Nonsense — Tags: , , , — Shelly Brisbin @ 11:09 AM

This week’s announcement of faster, more colorful versions of the iPod Touch was met with:

  • a) rapture
  • b) sophisticated market analysis
  • c) indifference

Actually, the answer is d) scorn.

You see, the lowly (that one always hurts) iPod Touch is not perceived as an aperitif for those wishing to sample the iOS menu. Nor is it the logical landing place for someone who prizes small, elegant things. It is also not a cost-effective way to get onto the Internet without all the carpel tunnel. No, dear readers, the iPod Touch kind of makes people crazy. Crazy the way reality TV makes me crazy. I mean, the existence of totally made up skits featuring surgically-enhanced blonde people doesn’t affect my life, but the very idea that they exist on a TV screen is kind of irritating. So it is in the brains of the iPod Touch skeptics, who outnumber me by the millions.

An iPod Touch hater has three modes: first, he or she, probably an iPhone/Apple Watch fan person, must be unimpressed. “It’s been so long since I thought about the iPod.” Next, it is good to be a prophet of doom. “I don’t think there’s much life left in that thing.” Finally, convert that one naife you know who secretly carries an iPod, into a cultural outsider. “I can see how you might get one for a five-year-old.”

And so the iPod Touch is an obsolete, doomed, toy. Case closed!

As I’m sure you have surmised, I beg to differ.

I got my iPod Touch in 2013, when I needed a test device for the first edition of my iOS accessibility book. I justified the purchase by promising myself to sell the underpowered thing once the book was done. But like so many Apple products before, my Touch, whose name is Sea Lion, burrowed its way into my life. Soon, it had become my primary podcast listening device, text message checker, and Kodi remote.

My case for the iPod Touch is a personal one: while the disdain in which it is held by the world at large is weird, I don’t suggest that everyone take a Touch to the prom. Chances are that if you don’t have one, you have arranged your life in such a way that the Touch would be redundant. But I use the thing every day, far more than my phone. With every fiber of my being, I am fighting the urge to anthropomorphize the little bugger.

Time for the bullet points. Here’s why I am The iPod Touch Fangirl:

  • Thin n lite: Apple is thin-obsessed, as are many of its customers. You can’t beat the iPod Touch for thinness and lightness. It fits into any pocket or purse, and can be balanced between two of my small fingers for easy reading or button-tapping. Wrist strain is for iPhone users, myself included. I’ve never considered burdening the Touch with a case. I’m not sure how you could design a lighter, thinner Internet device that also includes a screen of useful size.
  • Luxuriously long battery life: Because there’s no cellular radio to drain the battery, this thing is an Energizer, doing my bidding all day without complaint. I can’t say that of any iPhone I’ve owned, especially when I navigate with GPS, listen with VoiceOver, and/or make calls. Since I work from home where the wi-fi is fast and plentiful, the Touch doesn’t need a radio. When I leave the house, it’s full of podcasts and books, none of which make many demands on the battery. The phone’s job is to tell me when the next bus will arrive, and to take calls from my mom. Carrying two devices may seem a bit awkward, but it feels more like having a 16 Gb, wi-fi-enabled Mophie for my phone.
  • Perfect podcast and audiobook machine: I know that music is all about streaming these days, and plenty of people stream podcasts, too. I use Overcast to do this crazy thing called downloading. On the go, it’s quick and easy to pull the tiny iPod from my outside purse pocket, should I need to switch from tech podcasts to something lighter. The phone slumbers on, in the inner pocket, dreaming of SMS and signal bars.
  • Um, I sleep with mine: I suffer from bouts of insomnia, but even when I turn out the lights, I like to curl up with a good audiobook. The Touch is a far more congenial bedmate than my iPhone 6, with its bulky case and large, bright screen. I’ll confess that I’ve dropped the phone onto my face while manipulating the Audible app. This is a personal coordination issue, but whatever! I’ve never seen this tested in a lab, but I assure you that an iPod Touch to the nose hurts less than an iPhone 6 does.
  • Internet for kids: Finally! Something we can all agree on. Nope. Here’s where I make someone mad. If your kid is under the age of 14 or so, he or she shouldn’t have a smartphone. And if he or she is under the age of 10, an Internet device of one’s own is too much. So yes, the iPod Touch is a perfect tween machine. If Apple stopped making the iPod Touch tomorrow, would you give your 11-year-old his or her own iPhone? I know that passing an old phone on to your kids is among the best justifications for getting yourself a new one. And without the iPod Touch in the lineup, you can continue to do that. That’s right, mom and dad. I’m calling you out! Be honest about your own gadget desires. Give the kid an iPod Touch and let him or her grow into a phone when puberty hits. You’ll save money, if that’s a thing in your house.
  • Low stakes in unclean places: My husband is the kind of guy who does not call a plumber or electrician when something goes wrong at our house. He’s also the kind of guy who built our pavestone driveway and a french drain, and who is currently digging for a retaining wall between our house and the next. Take that, y’all who need an app to turn off the lights at night! Wait, come back, I have a larger point to make. So Frank spends a lot of time out in the yard with shovels and wheelbarrows and stuff. He picked up the audiobook bug from me, and likes to listen while he’s toting that barge and lifting that bale. He also likes his phone to stay clean and dry, and inside the house. Entertainment while digging holes, along with no calls from your large family, is kind of a perfect use case for an iPod Touch, or even an iPod Nano. Cheap these gadgets are not, but replacing a lifeless one is simpler and quicker than performing the same maneuver when phone carriers are involved.
  • Lower cost/no contract: Phone companies are evil. Can we all agree on that? You hate phone calls? Can we agree there, too? It’s unlikely that you would feel comfortable not having a device that can exchange calls on the telephone network, but your Phone app probably gets less use than Messages, Mail, or maybe even FaceTime. Therein lies the genius of Apple’s broad suite of communication tools. The iPod Touch costs 250 actual dollars, not 250 subsidized, we-own-your-ass-for-two-years dollars. I’ve heard half a dozen people say “95 percent of my calls and texts are with other iOS users.” I think most of them are exaggerating grievously, and my numbers are nothing like that either. But still! the iPod Touch can do everything a phone can do that doesn’t involve a cellular connection to the Internet, and making an old-school phone call. When I’m at home, I pick up whichever device is nearest. Sometimes, that’s my iMac, which is actually kind of heavy, and I plan to stop picking it up.
  • Watch schmatch: Since April of this year, people really hate pulling their phones out of their pockets. It’s a bloody nightmare! Hence, they’ve invested $400 or more in a tiny screen that sits atop their wrists. Is it just me, or is “complication” a counter-intuitive name for something that’s supposed to make your mobile life easier? When I’m home, the battery-chewing iPhone 6 sits on a bar in the center of my house, continuously drinking the sweet nectar of electricity. When I get a text or Twitter notification, or need to dash off a quick email, Sea Lion is usually in my pocket. I possess just enough strength to pull it out. From there, I view the entire tweet or text on a single screen, and dictate or type a grammatically correct and people-pleasing email without need of contorting both arms to read and write on a tiny wrist screen. Did I mention that it’s half the price of the watch?

I haven’t placed an order for the faster, more colorful, camera-rific iPod Touch. The same stubborn, cheap streak in me that allows me to love the unlovable also keeps me from buying new gadgets right before vacation. I do have a birthday coming up, though.

June 1, 2015

Maccessibility Roundtable #85

Filed under: Podcast Appearances — Tags: , , , , , , — Shelly Brisbin @ 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

May 3, 2015

Maccessibility Roundtable #83

Filed under: Podcast Appearances — Tags: , , , — Shelly Brisbin @ 2:17 PM

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

Maccessibility Roundtable #83: The Wrath of Khan Setting

March 16, 2015

Outside the Box with Jason Snell

Filed under: Access and Disability,Podcast Appearances — Tags: , , , , , , , — Shelly Brisbin @ 11:19 AM

A committee of the Maccessibility Roundtable chatted recently with Jason Snell, former Macworld poobah, and current proprietor of Six Colors. We talked about Apple accessibility, as seen from the mainstream tech world. I should note, too, that I’ve known Jason since we both worked at MacUser, back in the day. He and I covered the Internet, initially in our spare time. We also shared custody of an email server, from which we ran music mailing lists. No one from the former secretary of state’s office asked us for advice.

Outside the Box #3

March 12, 2015

More Book Talk on KPFK

Filed under: Podcast Appearances — Tags: , , — Shelly Brisbin @ 2:52 PM

The nice folks at KPFK Radio’s Access Unlimited invited me back to talk about the iOS 8 version of iOS Access for All. Also, there were cocktails.

LA radio station KPFK’S Access Unlimited covers accessibility issues. They archive each week’s show for 90 days. Here’s the MP3 of my March 11 appearance.

March 11, 2015

Springing Forward with Apple

Filed under: Podcast Appearances — Tags: , , , — Shelly Brisbin @ 8:06 AM

In which the Knights of the Roundtable review Apple’s Spring Forward announcement.

Maccessibility Roundtable #79

February 17, 2015

You’re the Last to Know

Filed under: Access and Disability,Announcements,General Store — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Shelly Brisbin @ 7:48 PM

A bit less than a month ago, I released an updated version of my book, iOS Access for All. The new edition covers iOS 8. I would just love for you to buy, read, and enjoy a copy of the book. I would also love to be able to tell you why my own blog, the one that features an image of the book’s cover there on the sidebar, is the last to get the word. Among other things I never got around to telling any loyal readers who have managed to keep me in their RSS feeds, is that I am now a panelist on a lovely bi-weekly podcast called Maccessibility Roundtable. Also, I released an episode of my own podcast, and have done a bushel of interviews about the book. More are scheduled for this very week.

Does my inattention to what is supposed to be my home on the Internet indicate that I am now among those who believe that Twitter (and possibly Facebook) is all anyone could possibly need in the way of a personal platform? I mean, everyone agrees that RSS is dead, right?

Yes, my own ill-use of this space is connected with the ascendance of other media; ones that have proven results for me, both in terms of feedback on what I write, and jingle in my digital pocket. As much as I love this blog, and making the occasional essays I have penned here, the amount of traffic and comments it gets have been underwhelming.

I refuse to pronounce the blog dead, not so much because I love writing this one, but because I love reading those other people write. But, then again, I just wrote a book, so what do I know? Nobody does that anymore!

May 27, 2014

My book, iOS Access for All, is available now!

I’m thrilled to announce the availability of my book, iOS Access for All: Your Comprehensive Guide to Accessibility on iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. The book guides readers through all accessibility features available on Apple’s mobile devices. Whether you’re just getting started with iOS, or want to learn more about apps and accessibility tools you already use, iOS Access for All has all the bases covered. With information of interest to users who are blind, low-vision, hearing-impaired, or have cognitive or motor disabilities, the book is the most extensive iOS accessibility resource available.

I’ve spent more than 25 years writing about technology, with a particular focus on Apple products. I’m also a visually-impaired iPhone user. My full bio is here.

Here’s the Table of Contents for iOS Access for All.

Part 1: Getting Started

Chapter 1: Accessibility the Apple Way

  • Apple Revolutionizes Mobile Access
  • Today’s iDevices, and iOS
  • The Apple Ecosystem
  • Meet iOS Accessibility Features

Chapter 2: Orientation and Quickstart

  • iDevices 101
  • Parts of iOS
  • Choose How to Set Up iOS
  • Accessibility Quickstart
  • Ready to Dive Deeper?

Part 2: The Wide World of iOS Access

Chapter 3: VoiceOver

  • Activate VoiceOver
  • Learn iOS and VoiceOver
  • Do More with the Rotor
  • Text and the Virtual Keyboard
  • Dictate Text with Siri
  • Enter Text with Handwriting Gestures
  • Use a Wireless Keyboard
  • Use a Refreshable Braille Display
  • Manage and Navigate Your Device

Chapter 4: Low-Vision Access

  • iOS’ Low-Vision Challenges
  • Screen Magnification
  • Enlarge and Enhance Text
  • Color and Contrast
  • Speech As a Low-Vision Tool
  • Quickly Enable Low-Vision Features
  • Mainstream Features with Low-Vision Uses
  • The iOS Camera: Low-Vision Super Weapon

Chapter 5: Siri and Voice Input

  • Set Up Siri
  • Siri Commands
  • Dictation
  • Voice Control
  • Voice Input Alternatives

Chapter 6: Tools for Hearing Impaired Users

  • Convert Alerts to a Flash or Vibration
  • Control Audio Output from Calls and Apps
  • Hearing Aid Support
  • Use a Hearing Aid
  • TTY Support
  • Closed Caption Support
  • More Communication with iOS

Chapter 7: Physical and Learning Access

  • Guided Access
  • Switch Control
  • AssistiveTouch

Part 3: All About Apps

Chapter 8: Access to Apple Apps

  • Safari
  • Mail
  • Sidebar: Delete, Move, and Share within Apps
  • Calendar
  • Phone
  • Messages
  • FaceTime
  • Contacts
  • Maps
  • Camera and Photos
  • Music
  • Videos
  • App Store/iTunes Store
  • The Rest of the Included Apps
  • But Wait, There’s More (Apps)

Chapter 9: The Best of Accessible Apps

  • An Accessible App Primer
  • Navigation and Travel
  • Productivity
  • Reading, News, and Information
  • Communication & Social Networking
  • Education
  • Lifestyle
  • Accessibility Tools
  • Learn More About Apps

Appendices

Appendix A: VoiceOver Gestures

Appendix B: VoiceOver Keyboard Commands

Appendix C: Braille Commands

You can buy the book for US$20 at the iOS Access for All Web site.

You can buy the ePub (Apple iBooks-friendly) version for $20 at the book’s Web site.

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