Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Wild and Crazy Saturday

How to have a wild and crazy Saturday: The first Blind geeks Meetup


(with apologies to Meetup because the blind geeks don’t want to pay $9.99 / month to advertise ourselves—yet. And have not thought to ask someone to share.)


Location: the friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing.

Time: 10 am on a Saturday morning.


First task: accomplish the meeting up. One person arrived by taxi; the other two visitors arrived by bus but everyone finding each other from parking lot and doorway was still non-trivial. Only one person called RantWoman for walking directions, but RantWoman made multiple trips to the parking lot, spoke up to any shape that seemed like it might be lost, and then had to swipe her card key to let people into the building.


Next task: what are we geeking about?


One participant uses an internet subscription screen reader called System Access. . As with most tools, people tend to be passionate about the one they know best; RantWoman knows a couple people who really really like System Access but RantWoman herself has never tried it.


Monthly System Access subscriptions are low-cost. Even better they are free to qualifying veterans. Memo to self: should RantWoman make an effort to leacrn System Access and to ore direct outreach to veterans? Should RantWoman just see if there are any vets who might like to volunteer a day or two at the Friendly Neighborhood Center and let them be the house experts?


Meanwhile, visitor proved his geek cred: he sat down at a computer. With only keyboard functions and no audio feedback, he was able to start Internet Explorer and then connect to System Access! RantWoman a couple times had to tell customer that the screen was doing something, RantWoman could not tell precisely what,  that was probably unwanted. Some of that is an artifact of aging equipment at the Friendly Neighborhood center. Sigh. Hit the scape key. Back out. Try Alt tab to switch to another window. Try a different set of earphones too. Success at last!


Next visitor brought her own tiny notebook computer and wifi hotspot. Tiny notebook computer has Windows 10 and JAWS 16, the brand newest release of JAWS, the main scrren reader used at the Friendly Neighborhood Center and all over town. Visitor with new Notebook had only recently installed Windows 10 and had not even explored it enough to realize tKey technical successes for this visitor: figuring out how to turn on the Wifi hotspot with visual cues rather than an operational one that the hotspot was in fact turned on. Also a success: having the other visitors help her find links to get started with online tutorials.  Oh, and cheerleading just to do the next step and try again.


Third visitor favors Magnifier, Microsoft’s built-in screen magnification. He too was able to getthings started with minimal visual cues. This visitor’s other draw: he as some indo fa job cataloging video of plumbing and RantWoman is unsure what other kinds of infrastructure repairs. The job is a contract gig. Typically for contract gigs the contracting entity gets 30% off the top and the person doing the work does not do so well. The other interesting point: the police department finds hackers to redact body cam video but this project is human-based. Guy soundss like he’s into his job so RantWoman is unsure whether there would be value in looking for ways to automate this project. Not RantWoman’s to decide.


What was RantWoman geeking about: internet connectivity and Wi-fi nomad options.


RantWoman gets to be amused that no one at the Meetup is using anything beyond the machines and connectivity that the Friendly Neighborhood Center officially claims knowledge of.


Consensus: kinks to work out as far as directions mainly; definitely plan to do this again but probably not until October.


Oh, and another memo to self:  if the Friendly Neighborhood Center wants to track data, we will need to do intake forms.

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