Sunday, January 25, 2009

a smigeon of life

Hello everyone. It's been a slow and relaxing weekend. This is a good thing since my sleeping seems to be out of whack again. I got up at around five o'clock yesterday and had a very disjointed sleep last night. Somehow, I seem to be getting enough sleep to still enjoy the days despite feeling like they're longer than they ought to be. We went to Hamilton to see my brother Dan and his family. Ava was out doing gymnastics so we mostly saw Dan and Amia. Mom and dad got some good time in with her while she was awake and happy. She constantly moves around to different things. In contrast, Dan actually got to sit and chat rather than chase his daughter every which way. It was good to talk with him about various things. Our conversation ranged from computers to how things were going to future plans. Dan feels very good about where he is in life at the moment with good reason. The economic troubles the world is experiencing shouldn't effect the restaurant business too much. People, he opines, will still go out and celebrate life. His employers seem very happy with his work. His computer is being very well-behaved and hasn't given them any trouble for quite some time now. He's got a Mac and an Iphone which he also seems most pleased with. Apparently, they have the game Rogue for the Iphone or Ipod now. I can't quite remember which. He remembers playing that game with me on the Eureka A4 back in my high school days. I have very fond memories of Rogue. It was infinitely random and loads of fun. If he gets it, I'll be interested to hear his observations on a game he originally could only hear me play. Now there's a nifty turnabout for you. When Ava and Alli got home, Amia became markedly less content. We think she feels left out but she's just too young to do gymnastics with her big sister. It won't be long though. She's certainly getting bigger and smarter.

The netbook kept me very well occupied during the trip. An update for the bios came out and it fixed that damned non-reversible mute button problem. I don't have to worry about accidentally rendering my little machine speechless and neither do other blind users if they get the latest bios update. The update utility is inaccessible with screen readers so sighted help is required. They've also improved the software controlling the fan. The 900HA still gets warm particularly while in super performance mode but it's definitely better than before. Still no solution or explanation for the problem I have running Winfrotztts. For some reason, the netbook just doesn't like that piece of software. Some kind of initialization error. At least I can play the classic interactive fiction games using Dosfrotz and NVDA. A very minor annoyance in an otherwise completely positive experience. The battery I ordered has arrived so I now have around eight to ten hours of battery life if I need it. Thankfully, unlike the rest of the Asus web site, their online store is very accessible and easy to use. If you need to buy batteries, chargers, or other items, go to:

There's been some very interesting listening on the Internet lately. A show called Thinking Aloud presented by the BBC looks at sociological subjects. The last show was about a professor who put computers into the sides of buildings in slum areas to see what the children there would do with the digital world when presented with it. They proved to be very resourceful indeed. Unfortunately, the email link to contact this professor failed to work for me. I wanted to express my appreciation for an experiment which will have very positive and far-reaching effects for these children. Computers and the Internet have certainly had a profound impact on my life. I can only imagine what effect such exposure will have on these young and very capable minds. Today, I listened to a show on Soundprint about a man who will soon be completely blind. Mr. Stuart went back to his home town in Ohio to see if this would alter his childhood memories of it. A fascinating exploration of how we can cherish and change our memories over the years. Also, the latest Serotalk podcast gave me the promise of some interesting listening over the next week. It seems the Atia convention, a major access technology event, is happening from the 28th to the 31st. The folks at Serotek are launching a new internet radio station and will be broadcasting live from there. If they even have half the fun they have with the podcasts, it'll be a very fun ride indeed. I keenly look forward to tuning in. If you'd also like to have a listen, go to:

Robert J. Sawyer is hosting a couple of new shows on Vision TV which start this week. I believe they're on Tuesday evening. I very much look forward to hearing those. If they pan out, it'll be good to finally have a couple of things to watch regularly on TV. To get all the details, check out the blog of this terrific author at:

Janene is coming over for dinner with us in a little while. Mom always does an excellent turkey dinner. A nice way to round out the weekend. We'll hang out afterwards and take in some TV with mom and dad which will hopefully be more interesting than the football we watched last time. The netbook certainly came in handy there as did mom's laptop and crossword book. It must have been strange for Janene to find that everyone including her was doing their own thing in the same room. It certainly felt strange to me. Next week looks pretty good. There ought to be lots of tech news of interest. I'll have another go with the Trekker Breeze and see how the landmarks I set last week behave. Perhaps, I'll go to the corner store for a chocolate bar or two. It's good not to have any more packages in transit to listen out for. The doorbell is pretty much impossible to hear from my room up here even with no other sound happening. Good to have everything here safe and sound. My review of all the travel gear I've assembled was just posted to Blindcooltech today. I hope people find it useful. I was interested to listen to a review of the 904HA from a guy who clearly likes to put machines through their paces. He was recording while playing a game while doing some pretty processor-intensive audio editing and it didn't even slow the netbook down. Amazing. Well, I guess that pretty much covers life currently. We'll see what happens with these crazy politicians of ours this week after a needlessly long cooling off period. I wouldn't be surprised if we have to go and vote *again*! I hope we get some kind of majority so that at least a fraction of these damned idiots will be able to get things done in stable fashion over the next while. It would have been better had they been able to just get along and do stuff instead of fighting like a pack of kids over the last while. Now, the best I can reasonably hope for is that one fraction of them gets enough power not to be on the brink of defeat. The Americans seem to have all the political luck. Admittedly, they've been sorely lacking in good leadership over the last eight years but they didn't need to grab all the political karma. I'll certainly follow President Obama's adventures closely. An actual idealist with a good dose of common sense and perspective. What will Washington actually let him accomplish? It'll be interesting times. That's for certain.

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