Archive for March, 2007
Sunday, March 25th, 2007
“Adventures with Belvy” is an idea that began with my post “A piece of Fiction with a link to reality.” I talk about a day in the life of me and my dream robot guide Belvedere, or Belvy for short. I’m not exactly sure where this is going, but if you’re game join me as I figure it out.
So, here’s the first in a series – “Initial Contact.”
It was supposed to be a lazy Sunday. The girls were all out of the house doing girl things, shopping, hair, nails, it really didn’t matter. The plan, lay on the oversized couch in his basement media room. A great setup, the center piece most people gravitate towards, a 52 inch flat panel plasma television, but that’s for the family. T enjoys turning on the cable box and piping the output into the 7 in wall surround sound speakers. It’s the only thing that gets him to watch action movies these days. The two sub woofers make an earthquake feel like one of those vibrating beds in a 1970′s hotel.
As the classic soul music plays throughout the house, T loads Belvy with a few of his favorite beverages. Belvy’s 12 by 12 inch compartment made to keep beverages either hot or cold is usually reserved for get-a-ways, but what the heck; this is sort of like that. The two retreat to the basement. “System On”, T commands. The system in the media room is connected to a computer he equipped with speech recognition software. This beats looking for the remote control any day. Usually T would dive into the oversized couch. He recently altered this tradition after a previous experience. One of the girls left a brush, one with a big wooden handle, an we’ll just say, he felt violated in a way no innocent unsuspecting man should have to feel. Now, he sits more like a cautious and somewhat timid old man. “Guide On”, he says making himself comfortable on the couch. While the on screen guide is loading Belvy takes a seat on the chair next to the couch. After about twenty minutes of channel surfing and reviewing the guide T reaches the inevitable conclusion, “Ain’t a damn thing on!”
While checking for new descriptive movies playing in the theater on a laptop stored in the couch, the phone rings. “Phone on”. “Hello!” “SHAAA HUUU ERRR WHUUU RAAA VROO”, a jumbled, gargled voice on the other end. Damn, not this again. Phone off.” Second time today receives a call like this. “Caller ID”, he commands. “Private Listing” says the synthetic voice output from the media room.
“No way, “Bustin’ Caps” is described. The narration alone is worth the price of the movie. I must be really bored to want to go to this movie, but what the heck. This should be interesting. Belvy set the GPS to the AMC Theater downtown.” “Yes sir.” As T grabbed his things Belvy went off to warm the truck.
Arriving at the AMC Theater with more than enough time to spare, T and Belvy head into the theater. T activated the homing device which omits a vibration on his white cane that provides direction based on Belvy’s GPS. Sometimes T likes walking without the guide. He finds it especially amusing how people are so excited about seeing a robot walking by itself that he is virtually invisible. After purchasing his ticket and a brief argument explaining why he should not have to pay for Belvy, he was able to buy a large lemonade and NestlÃ©’s Bunch o’ Crunch. The theater was surprisingly empty. This was only the second week of “Bustin’ Caps”. It starred the hottest new rapper, Gangsta Luv. Street legend says he was shot 9 times in the groin and yet, ironically he continues to go by Gangsta Luv.
After over a half hour sitting in the almost completely empty theater, he wondered why he was there. “I can’t stand these types of movies. Apparently, no one else can either”, he thought to himself. “To the truck Belvy.”
As the two left the theater and walked into the lobby, it was obvious that the latest children’s animated movie just ended. Preparing himself for the frenzy that would soon begin, T put his cane away and held onto Belvy. All of the kids in the theater lobby rushed toward Belvy. The kids showered him with questions. “Where did you get him?” “Can he talk?” “What can he do?” T answered as many questions as he could, fortunately the parents would help in his exit.
As T was getting into the truck, a woman approached. “Excuse me sir,” Not sure if she was talking to him T continued into the truck. The woman called out again this time close enough where it was obvious she was talking to T. “Excuse me sir, one moment please. It’s funny I would see you here. I read the article in the paper a few weeks ago.” T exits the truck to greet the woman. “Hi, my name is Sabrina Boudreau. I wanted to introduce myself.” “Nice to meet you”, T replies. “I read the article about you and your robot. I was wondering if you would be interested in speaking at the convention of Women Entrepreneurs for Social Improvements. I don’t want to keep you but if I can give you my card and possibly take yours, we can discuss all of the details at your convenience.” “Sounds very interesting”, T replies as they exchange business cards. The two shake hands once again and T joins Belvy in the truck.
As the truck pulls off, Sabrina removes her cell phone, tucked away in her hand bag next to the Glock 9mm. “Sir, as you directed, I made the initial contact.”
Monday, March 19th, 2007
When I lost my sight, many people asked if I was going to eventually get a guide dog. I usually responded, “No, at least not right now.” The geek in me started thinking of my ultimate guide, a robot.
I am not talking about one of those little robot dogs kids play with or one of those little vacuum cleaners, I am talking about a full sized, multi featured robot. Let’s call him Belvedere or Belvy for short – at least that is what I would call mine. Think of Robocop without the automatic weapons, at least not in version 1.
Belvy would stand about 6 feet with a muscular frame. He would not take on any characteristics of a human other than two arms legs torso and head. A shiny silver metallic color equipped with some really useful functionality and of course some cool gadgets.
Check out a day in my life with my robot Belvy.
“Good morning Sir, this is your scheduled wake up call. As you requested, I will play the song you decided would best help you to begin your day. As Public Enemy’s “Welcome to the Terrodome” plays, Belvy accompanies me into the bathroom where he has prepared my clothes for the day, according to my previously loaded command, loaded via Bluetooth of course
After brushing my teeth and shaving, Belvy cleans up, removing any hair left in the sink. “Would you care for cologne today sir?” Yes please Belvy” Belvy recognizes my voice and only obeys my commands.
While eating my breakfast, made to order, I ask Belvy, “What is on my calendar today?” You have a meeting at10:30, a lunch appointment at 1 and you have to pick up your daughters at 4.” “Great! Start the car. For my music, I would like to hear “Songs in the Key of Life.” Set your GPS to the address listed in the address field for my first appointment.” As Belvy walks out to the garage where my truck is parked, I gather the rest of my things.
Many people wonder how Belvy is able to drive me any where I want to go. Both he and the truck are equipped with matching GPS navigation systems. Belvy’s however, includes walking routes. The truck is equipped with auto sensory detection that automatically senses on coming traffic and alerts when cars are too close. Between the technology in the truck and Belvy, I am safer than driving with a human. Belvy doesn’t get road rage or upset. As we are driving to the appointment, Belvy asks “Would you like me to call ahead sir” “Yes please.” Belvy activates his on board phone and dials the number directly from my contact database. “Good morning this is Mr. Belvedere calling on behalf of Mr. Reid. He will be attending the meeting and according to my calculations should be arriving by 10:20. Thank you.” All the while I am seated comfortably in the back seat enjoying Stevie Wonder’s “As.”
When we arrive at the appointment, Belvy immediately parks the truck. Belvy exits and opens the back door for me. “Would you like to go sighted guide sir?” “Yes please Belvy.” I hold onto his elbow and we proceed to the entrance of the building. His on board navigation kicks in automatically to the walking route. When we enter the building the GPS immediately detects a building internal navigation system, Belvy determines the meeting will be held on the 4th floor in conference room C.
I earlier programmed Belvy to record the entire meeting. I remove the wireless keyboard, securely stowed away in Belvy’s rear compartment located on his torso and jot down some notes. Belvy’s hi speed wi-fi connectivity allowed me to quickly check my email and access documents on my home network.
Following the meeting I decide to walk to my lunch date 10 blocks away. As we walk, “Belvy, tell me the points of interest.” Belvy immediately begins listing the various businesses and shops in the area. “As we pass a perfume store I decide to purchase something for my wife.” Belvy immediately detects the RFID tags and generates a list of perfumes. He compares that to a list of my wife’s current collection to determine which she would most like. I sample a few and decide on a purchase. “Sir, you have 12 minutes to get to your next appointment. I pay for the perfume and continue walking. Belvy has adjusted his walking speed to assure we are not late. Several on lookers try to stop us asking about Belvy, but I engage the anti on looker mode. Each time someone calls out to us Belvy simply says through his surround sound speaker system “Sorry, we cannot stop right now, but if you are interested in learning more about us please visit http://www.reidmymind.com/.”
During the lunch with my wife, Belvy sits in a chair at the table with us. I ask Belvy to play some random slow jams from back in the day. Shirley Murdock’s As we lay” begins as I hand my wife the perfume.
After lunch Belvy and I head back to the truck. This time I disengage the anti on looker mode. Stopping several times to talk with various people on the street to explain how Belvy works. I even show off his high speed internet access, his on board high definition television screen, mainly used by my kids when we are on the road to access the thousands of movies stored in the 10 terabyte hard drive.
On the way home my music selection changes a bit and I listen to Boogie Down Productions “Criminal Minded.” We make it back in time to get my daughters from school. As usual they ask if they can show Belvy to one of their friends. I have him demo’ his latest Xbox, games. The girls just smile as their friends admire Belvy.
When we arrive home Belvy begins dinner as directed while I help the girls with their homework. When my wife arrives home we all sit down and enjoy a meal together. “Belvy, why don’t you head over to your recharging center and I’ll do the dishes.” “Thank you Sir, will do.”
That’s the least I can do for my man, uh, robot that is, Belvy!
Think it’s far fetched, check this out.
Thursday, March 15th, 2007
Wednesday, March 14th, 2007
This coalition of advocacy organizations. Check out the very extensive list.
Wednesday, March 7th, 2007
Take a look at this article. In Japan, they are working on a project to include additional functionality into cell phones or other mobile devices. Now even though they have a long way to go it sounds like this approach is not only worthwhile, but it also does something so often overlooked, inclusion. The various features being discussed actually have a purpose other than making some say, “Oh, That’s hot!”
Don’t get me wrong, I get a kick out of the various features included in the latest devices, but there’s so many ways to enrich people’s lives. I recently read an article about a girl confined to a wheelchair. She talked about how on many occasions she would get to a point when traveling alone, where she had to turn because of roadblocks, we often overlook. Imagine the frustration of being confined to a wheelchair and getting to the end of a block where your only option is going down steps. I thought of the roadblocks so many contend with in NYC. Access to subways, construction zones that others can easily walk through, and even buildings without ramps. This article offers ways to use technology to assist with such issues.
Unfortunately, the article makes reference to a similar (technically) project in the states. It’s focus…gaming!
Saturday, March 3rd, 2007
Following my trip to Washington D.C for the ACB Legislative Seminar, I have been thinking about why so many people choose not to be involved in advocating for the blind. I am mostly speaking of blind people who themselves do not believe it is necessary to work for change.
In no way do I believe I am naive and therefore expect everyone to feel equally impassioned on all issues. I don’t even expect everyone to be interested in playing major roles, but I do believe that more people can play a position on the team. Not everyone feels comfortable writing letters, speaking to others or even actively raising money to support the effort. There are so many other ways individuals can contribute.
I recently had a conversation with a friend and colleague. We were trying to figure out why some visually impaired and blind people feel absolutely no connection to the fight for improving the condition of lives in the blind community. People say things like, “Well, I have a life.” That may be true, but after meeting people who were not only blind, but some facing other physical challenges and yet still actively working for change, I re-examine my own definition of “having a life.”
At one time in my life I thought having a life meant, going to work, having a family, maybe some volunteer work or serving the community in some way and that’s about it. It was important to get the house, the car and maybe some point do something for someone else – mainly my kids. I don’t think I was or am a materialistic person,(my wife will testify to that! ) but I subscribed to the American dream like so many others.
Now, I make way less money than I did in the past. I am not on the road to corporate success, damn I ain’t even near the ladder, let alone climbing it. But, I am busy as ever and this time I feel the purpose. I speak to people everyday who tell me how they are affected by what we are doing at MCCB. Not only other individuals who are going through sight loss, but the other members of our organization who feel passionately about our mission.
I guess I’m going through a transitional stage in my life. I am sure it is a waste of time trying to determine exactly where life is taking me. At one point in my life I thought I was the only driver, but the truth is, I was taught that God plays a bigger role than I once credited him with. My Mom has something she always says, and for years it annoyed me because I only looked at part of the statement, “Leave it up to God.” I took that statement literally. I thought it meant I have no control over my own destiny. The truth is I control the type of people I associate with, the information I study and accept. God however, will handle the rest. It feels good to be in a place with some uncertainty, but yet a lot of optimism and potential.
Hmmmm! Does that mean I have a life?
Friday, March 2nd, 2007
Check out the results of my accent test…
This was based on my professional voice. I can still bring out the Bronx when necessary.
|What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland
“You have a Midland accent” is just another way of saying “you don’t have an accent.” You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.
|The Inland North
|What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz
Friday, March 2nd, 2007
The last post was not categorized via BlogDesk. I believe this is done from the blog properties. So here it goes.
Friday, March 2nd, 2007
the reason I am trying a new editor is, well, the last Zoundry, is not very accessible. I had to do some things with Jaws simply to get the post to work. It may require scripting or making several JFW configuration settings (including labeling graphics) with sighted assistance, but why should I have to go through all of that simply to make it work. If an update is released I will have to once again go through the same process. In the event that something else is not accessible out of the box, then I will have to decide either to proceed as I was doing in the past, make the mods or wait for an accessible application.
I am using BlogDesk to write this post. In order to get started I had to start in the source code mode. That to me is not really a problem if I am able to then move into the “Normal” mode. Let’s test that now…
Nope! When I moved back to the “Normal” view I can use the JAWS cursor to navigate, but editing is not really possible. Well, let’s try the other features now.
Setting up connectivity to the blog – Not bad. A nice little wizard to walk you through the process and all objects were accessible.
Inserting Links – this phrase should take you to www.mccbonline.org
Spell Check – I have to use the Jaws cursor to access the mis-spelled words.
There are some other issues that are pretty annoying. JFW does not read selected text. The insert html option does not offer any assistance with syntax. Managing categories doesn’t seem to be an option. I am assuming it will be part of the posting process.
Posting – Well I guess I’ll just have to go for it. If you are reading this, then I guess it works!
Thursday, March 1st, 2007
Testing a offline editor, Zoundry. I just tried using Windows Live Writer, but unfortunately it is not accessible. I will send the Microsoft crew a note about that. I am surprised that there product is not accessible. It is in beta so maybe it’s on the to-do list. Hope so because the software had some really good features. Anyway, if this works it will be a little easier posting.