Friday, August 17, 2018

Internet as personal butler?

Dear Internet

RantWoman needs / desires

1 (or more) set of headphones. No foam. USB jack preferred
Note: RantWoman expressing a need does not appear to mean the internet will serve up. But RantWoman is again expressing the need.

2. One basic black jumper, denim or linen or cotton knit, 50-54" long. RantWoman is aware that "jumper" appears no longer to be a thing. Now the term of art is "sleeveless tank dress." RantWoman is also aware that "tank" means several things in the realm of physique, not all of which have positive associations even if they might be on point when shopping for the generously proportioned.

Fear not. Clothing options do look more promising. RantWoman can use her scarce eyeball time to scan mail order catalogs or preferred websites. In fact, despite the need to bounce around in ways designers do not think about RantWoman has wound up speed shopping, finding a whole bunch of items on clearance on one site and throwing them all in a shopping cart.

RantWoman has deliberately selected duplicates of several items. RantWoman has thrown in a couple items in the under $15 category that she will not care about sending back. If these items do not fit, RantWoman will just move them along in the universe nearby.

In an actual store, RantWoman would happily try on many items from such a cart. On mail order, without the margin of a charge card or much patience about sending things back, RantWoman will later prune her now preposterously large shopping cart. Sorry, not sorry!

Now back to all the other things on RantWoman's to-do list.

Or else out to walk in LESS haze than the last few days because RantWoman does need to move large muscles and accomplish a couple errands.


Peak Haze

RantWoman composed this on a day when Twitter informed her that the Air Quality Index in Seattle was worse than any of the major world cities listed.

This close the windows and avoid strenuous exercise thing is not working.

The air quality index is somewhere in the stratosphere.

RantWoman's eyes itch, water.

RantWoman would prefer to breathe easier.

And RantWoman's whole body just feels better if large muscles get moved.

Plus, RantWoman really digs the whole last mile exercise of getting from a bus stop to a new place.

Yesterday's destination: Hopelink in Bellevue. The I-90 freeway stops are still open. Yeah. RantWoman is not distressed that promised closures for Sound Transit Judkins Park station construction still have not occurred. RantWoman used Google Maps and the accompanying trip planner.

Outbound, RantWoman is glad to have opted for the 550 + B line routing even though it meant a several blocks walk in the haze. The walk while tree-lined reminded RantWoman AGAIN how car -oriented a lot of the east side still is.

Inbound, RantWoman opted for the 245+ 554. This was pure luck: RantWoman was trying to figure out where the bus stop was just as a bus pulled past. The driver not only waited, he dropped RantWoman off not at the regular bus stop, but right at the sidewalk on the overpass to catch the inbound 554. RantWoman deeply appreciates this because the 245 driver was not really able to give good walking directions from the ground level stop up through the parking garage. RantWoman does not visit the Eastgate park and Ride often enough really to remember either; given the air quality RantWoman was glad not to have to spend a lot of energy fogging around looking.

Once on the 554, RantWoman also reviewed the routing and learning that the 245 now has 15-minute headway. COOL.

As for the reason for RantWoman's journey, another post coming.

Creek. Summer. Tactile Art.

RantWoman wishes to celebrate the option just to have FUN, again with the  tactile graphics software TactileView at the Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing. The most important source of FUN while getting started on today's work: RantWoman always uses Zoomtext with Tactile View (and other things). RantWoman tends to launch Zoomtext and then turn the ZT Reader voice off  in order to use JAWS for screen reading. This time though, RantWOman just left ZT running and BOY was it nice to hear the voice read really basic tool tips for functions in tactile view.            

Cue the following photos. Yes, there are two photos. RantWoman decided not to try to make a tactile image of the second photo.

Wissahickon Creek, From a bridge, August 2018 evening.

1. The original photo
RamtWoman finds it really interesting to see how this picture emerged from RantWOman's efforts to let the software decide what would make a good image.

As an aside, RantWoman thinks it could be very interesting PERHAPS to use a drawing like this result to teach concepts such as perspective to a totally blind person. RantWoman thinks this, but probably if she had a totally blind person interested in art, MAYBE RantWoman would do some more reading about teaching methodologies.

Or maybe RantWoman would just wing it.
1. The photo turned into a bitmap

The second image, same creek.

Photo 2. Interesting but hard to represent in tactile form
RantWoman finds the texture and colors of reflection in this photo fascinating. RantWoman has not even tried to turn it into a tactile image though. Happy Late summer reflections!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Today in EBT

EBT for those who do not regularly traffic in the lingo of the social service world is "Electronic Benefit Transfer," a credit card like process used to deliver food stamps / SNAP and any cash assistance one gets from the state of WA.

There seems to be a new EBT account administration website. The website does take into account that people might not be using the same device all the time so it has pathways both to register key info on a device and to go through extra verification if one is not on a registered device. A blind regular, at the Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing, Blind Neighbor, reported that the site is "mostly accessible." "Mostly Accessible" means that there was some hang-up  about verification on the non-registered device. "Mostly accessible" also means blind neighbor needed sighted assistance at a couple points. RantWoman did not inquire in enough detail even to email someone about the problem. Then RantWoman acquired more detail.

"Mostly Accessible" also means that, while an older model cards had raised numbers like a regular credit card, the new cards have the number printed on them without any embossing. RantWoman found this out because Blind Neighbor knocked on RantWoman's door wanting help to read the card number.

RantWoman was not quite thinking with all her brain cells. Blind Neighbor reads braille. RantWoman has a slate and stylus, How about RantWoman write the number out in braille on an index card? How about we remember that RantWoman writes braille pretty erratically and sometimes finds it hard to read what she has brailled? RantWoman did one pass with the slate and stylus and was kind of embarrassed about what happened when Blind Neighbor read the number RantWoman brailled.

RantWoman was going to try again about the braille. Then rantWoman and blind neighbor figured out that RantWoman should just type the number into an email on her phone and email it to Blind Neighbor. Genius! Okay so it took two tries for Blind neighbor to get the number entered correctly on her computer, but it worked!

And speaking of EBT, now consider returns of the Soda Tax.

RantWoman feels a rant coming on about regressive taxes, patronizing nanny state efforts to get people to do things that are Good For Them, and the sacrifices involved in freeing oneself from the clutches of the multinational soft drink biz. RantWoman feels a  rant coming on, with a digression about who needs fizz and look, iced tea is just wonderful. But if we are lucky, RantWoman can cut to the chase and talk about how some of the money raised this year is being put to use: an extra $32 in Fresh Bucks for food stamp recipients over age 60.

Fresh bucks are vouchers than can be spent at Farmers' markets. They are only available to people who have jumped through the hoops necessary to qualify for food stamps.

No RantWoman is NOT over 60, yet.

And yes, RantWoman has too much income to qualify for more than a pittance in Food Stamps. RantWoman does not particularly consider this enough of a problem to be worth the paperwork. In fact, if RantWoman is going to mess with paperwork, instead of the food stamps application, RantWoman should be getting her self-employment act together a little more tightly to maybe manage to get paid for more of the work she does. Stay tuned.

Every summer though someone reminds RantWoman of Fresh Bucks, a program that gets food stamp recipients vouchers that can be used at Farmers' markets. RantWoman thinks this is a Good Idea. Alas, it is still not enough of a Good Idea to motivate RantWoman to go through the paperwork! But at LEAST money raised by the soda tax is coming out of the pockets of one demographic mainly poor people and going into a different demographic, poor elders.

How cools is that?

DON'T answer!

Oh, and it's still blueberry season at the Capitol Hill Farmers' market. Yum

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A New Blog in the Pantheon

Announcing: Sleep the Blog

That is all at this time, and if we are lucky, RantWoman will shortly decamp to her bed and LAY OFF THE KEYBOARD.

We should be so lucky

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

All Hail UralAsbest Ura!

Vladimir Putin is still #NotMyPresident.

and RantWoman still awaits details of the Helsinki summit, delivered by a representative of the US government rather than a representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

But in the meantime....

RantWoman permits herself to be deeply amused by orthography. The Cyrillic letters that best reflect the phonetics of the Orange One's family name transliterate back to Latin alphabet as "Tramp."

And President Toxic and Highly Carcinogenic is lending his name and endorsement to UralAsbest  the only remaining asbestos production factory in the world. SO last century. #FollowTheMoney for tips about the abrupt departure of former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt?

Seal: Approved by the President of the USA Donald Trump.
Pease, Question the wisdom of
plastering one's visage all over packages of asbestos

Saturday, August 11, 2018

More and better unplanned accessibility testing

It's Friday afternoon. RantWoman is  hiding from wildfire haze and chilling out in AC and filtered air at the Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing. RantWoman has Things to Do but first the world is entitled to the Rant of the Week about unplanned accessibility testing.

RantWoman wants to credit light years of progress compared to previous decades and is not sure whether it is good or bad to know that she is not alone in vexations: there are PLENTY of ways to deliver inaccessible content, but reputable organizations AT LEAST use automated accessibility testing tools. However  the testing tools are imperfect. They tend to excel at detecting that a site is say 95% accessible but not to detect that a blind user cannot do some absolutely necessary step like creating a sign-in or authorzing payment on some shopping sites.

Examples on the not-alone front:

Chatter among blind employees at several different companies about accessibility and project management tools. Discussion backed up by comments on ablind programmers list: one programmer says he uses one tool as little as possible. He says he as the skills to code some of the needed fixes but coding those fixes is not really his job. Advice from the list: try a different browser, oh and a different screen reader as well. Frownie face.

RantWoman has in mind a couple projects that might also benefit from project management tools, but there is no way RantWoman is even going to suggest such tools to her much less techie collaborators unless she is sure they are accessible or Unless RantWoman can understand enough how they work to instruct other people. RantWoman is about to suggest to one user that, for other reasons besides an inaccessible tool, his office probably could benefit from some clerical support. Stay tuned.

A job applicant for a large local employer reported that 15 of 16 screens for the online job application were accessible to him. The one that was not: the one where applicants are invited to self-identify about having a disability or probably other characteristics. Recruiting managers like being able to compile statistics. Applicants have long discussions about when to disclose one's disability. Some job application processes also require applicants to disclose in order to request reasonable accommodations during the application and interview process.

At a recent social occasion, RantWoman met a very nice young dev who got assigned to work on accessibility at one large local software company. Young dev asked RantWoman about her experience. RantWoman did not want either to discourage the young dev or to try to sound concise after a glass of wine. So RantWoman led with softballs about honest and well-meaning PR.

Now RantWoman is just going to name names. RantWoman realizes it might be more courteous to address companies directly, but RantWoman is a little politeness challenged.

RantWoman has been trying to interact with Signup Genius. Today RantWoman in Internet Explorer got as far as the I'm not a robot CAPTCHA while trying to create a sign-in. Buttons did not read. When RantWoman finally found the audio version, RantWoman clicked on the link several times and could never get an audio challenge. Sigh.

Still no signing up to wash dishes for RantWoman in the faith community. RantWoman did put the brand and the word accessibility into a search engine and noticed lots of items about marketing to schools and back to school. So RantWoman really should follow through....

RantWoman was not having enough fun with Signup Genius so RantWoman also decided to wade into Reddit. RantWoman put Reddit and accessibility into asearch engine. The results list looked a lot more promising than what turned up for Signup Genius, but RantWoman did not really feel like reading a lot of promises. RantWoman appreciates that Reddit says it is very firm about posting accessible content. RantWoman wishes she could say either the Android app or the Internet Explorer experience with Reddit's  own site held up.

RantWoman waded into Reddit partly as a public service after listening to people new to town complain about the pedestrian accessibility problems caused by tent campers taking up the whole sidewalk downtown. RantWoman knows two blind social workers in different parts of the homelessness services sector whose expertise she may call on. RantWoman has also poked around some information and referral pathways and has opinions based on other activities as well. So why not wade into what is good or bad about @MayorJenny inviting local software companies to see what they have to offer about meeting the needs of the growing homeless population.

RantWoman's Twitter feed served up an announcement about a Reddit event with the police department representative to the Nav Team, the team of people who try to connect unhoused people with resources and to exert control over unauthorized camping. RantWoman downloaded the Reddit app to her phone. Luckily RantWoman was able to follow the discussion on her phone without creating a sign-in. RantWoman says this with caution though: RantWoman can do more visually on her phone and cannot attest that a totally blind person would be able to do what she did.

However, RantWoman found lots of unlabeled buttons on the homescreen. RantWoman also some path to request help, except the path to request help wanted to know RantWoman's Reddit sign-in. Hello. RantWoman has not created a sign-in because of all the unlabeled buttons on the phone app, and because in Explorer with JAWS she has not been able to find an option to sign up. RantWoman has been able to read enough of the links on the screen to see there are probably some useful threads if RantWoman needs to add more content to her life.

(Speaking of irate content, it has been awhile since RantWoman poked around  in Nextdoor, which is popular in Seattle. One reason: problems RantWoman only vaguely remembers. RantWoman will put ask another blind person on her to-do list before grumbling too loudly, but...)

RantWoman, alas, is uncertain that the level of vehemence in discussions about homelessness are much different on Reddit than in social media streams and interpersonal circles where RantWoman already swims. So again, stay tuned.