Apple Event held on September 9

This was one of the rare times in which I was not able to update the page with news. Timing is often everything, and I literally was on vacation just two days prior to the September 9 Apple event. So, now that I am home, I am catching up a bit here. You can read a summary of the event on the
News page of the site.

I have personally updated all of my iOS devices to iOS 9. I don’t feel that this release is anything like the iOS 8 release as far as any true “show stopping” bugs. If you are curious about what bugs do exist, as usual, the great folks at Applevis, have done a great job listing the bugs in iOS 9
here.

I have also updated my Apple Watch to Watch OS 2 without any issues. If you have the watch, I would strongly recommend upgrading. The only oddity I experienced was that my speech rate had seemed to slow down a bit upon the update finishing. Also, the raise to activate feature, which I had disabled, had been turned on, but this might have been by design from what I have read.

At some point, though it is long overdue, I will be doing a post on my impressions of the Apple Watch. Some have asked me to do this, and I honestly do intend on doing so. It’s just a matter of finding the time to sit down and write out a coherent piece.

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Another Charity Event I am Posting Info on

On occasion, I do post non-Apple related messages. In this case, Pasquale is a former client and friend of mine. I thought this was pretty cool and something worth promoting. Please promote this if possible and if you are in the area of New Jersey where this takes place, I think it would be a great event to participate in.

Here are the details from Pasquale himself.

Dear Friends and Family,

My Captain Brian and I are riding a tandem bike together in the Gran Fondo NJ on Sunday, September 13. We will be riding 43miles together through the lovely countryside in and around Morristown, New Jersey along with about 50 of our fellow Team InTandem members and about 2500 other riders from all over the United States.

I am a “Stoker. I ride in the back of the bike. My “Captain, Brian> rides in the front. While I have a visual impairment and do rely on him for navigation, we are a team in every sense of the word.

We ride with and for InTandem, a not-for-profit organization in New York City that provides tandem biking programs and opportunities to people with disabilities – all at no cost to their members. This Gran Fondo NJ is our featured event of the year and is our principal fundraiser as well. You may not be able to ride with us on Sept. 13, but you can help by supporting our ride with a donation. Your contribution will help InTandem continue to provide free tandem biking programs to their members throughout the year.My goal is to raise $1000!!! So please if you can help me reach my goal… , that would be greatly appreciated. Your donations will be allocated as such:

• $25.will pay one entry fee for one of our members at an organized riding event.
• $50. will pay the entry fees for both the stoker and captain at an organized riding event.
• $100. will pay for new tires on one tandem bike.
• $250. will help support a tandem team’s season of riding and will get you one of our InTandem custom cycling jerseys. Check it out at the bottom of this page: http://www.intandembike.org/2015_granfondo_nj/
• $500. will pay for a tandem team to go on a distant, weekend riding trip. When they arrive at their hotel, they will find a nice gift basket with your name on the card. And an InTandem jersey.
• $2,500. will buy a brand new Cannondale top-of-the-line tandem bike and provide the joy of riding to many other InTandem cyclists. That bike will have a plaque with your name on it. And an entire InTandem attire kit (jersey, shorts, hat, etc.) will be coming your way.

But really, I am grateful for a donation of any size.

Please visit our personal InTandem Team page:
here.

Thanks.

sincerely

Pasquale Agnone

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Mac for the Blind is Proud to Make Audio Tutorials Available

I have been asked by many folks over the years if I would ever consider creating audio tutorials on the Mac and iOS that I would sell. Basically, they have wanted me to record the lessons that I normally teach a client and make them available to any interested people who are either beginners or experienced users alike. This has been a consistent question I’ve gotten for a good couple of years now.

Finally, I have decided to take the plunge and try my hand at creating and selling audio tutorials. I am trying to keep them as affordable as possible, but to also be of the highest audio and content quality as well. I will have at least a half a dozen files available for sale by the end of this month with others planned for the future.

At this point, I am starting with Mac material. The “Introduction to VoiceOver on the Mac” file is free for anyone to download as a sample. As for the others, I am going to try to keep even the more in depth ones under $60.

Realistically, I will honestly say that nothing beats being taught the Mac or iOS from a qualified and knowledgeable trainer and I certainly hope that these tutorials will encourage folks to pursue training. Still, having a file you can reference and use as you learn the Mac or your iPhone or other iDevice is still extremely valuable and useful. What you will hear in these tutorials is exactly the kinds of material and the manner in which I train my clients on a daily basis. I simply approached recording them as if I was working with an individual or a group.

I am certainly open to comments and suggestions as time goes on. If the tutorials prompt any questions, please feel free to let me know as well. This is an “experiment” I am trying and it will be a work in progress. However, I think you will find the files worth your money in the end. I thank you in advance for purchasing the files, and I will be offering discounts for package purchases, coupons and other goodies as time passes and they seem to attract enough attention and a positive response.

Please go
here for the audio tutorials.

I would also like to thank Derek Lane for his fantastic work on editing the audio files. Derek is the master at making audio its highest quality possible, and I am grateful for a very fortunate in person meeting I had with him in Florida at the NFB summer convention in which he agreed to edit my work and make me sound a heck of a lot better than I actually do in real life …

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ACSP Online Training Course Coming Soon

Since I passed the Apple Certified Support Professional exams in the past, I have received a lot of questions about how one goes about obtaining an ACSP certificate. People have contacted me by telephone, email or when I have been at various locations doing training sessions or Apple accessibility presentations asking me about the process in preparing for the exam and about the exam itself. I would honestly say that it would be a fair estimate to guess that over forty different people have asked me about the topic of Apple certifications over the last year or year and a half alone.

I have been teaching the preparation course for people who want to prepare to take the ACSP exam over the last few years, and I believe this has now included about eight different individuals. It is a lengthy process, and one that a person must dedicate themselves to in order to pass. If you are serious about passing the exam, then you have to understand that you are going to be putting a lot of time and energy into the preparation and study process prior to even taking the exam itself. It is, moreover, for a blind person, a really impressive certification to have if they are a technical professional who desires to work in the field or who runs their own training business. Being recognized by Apple does set you above the average person who simply “calls themselves” an Apple trainer by far, as you have gone the distance in reading far more material and, more importantly passing the exam that certifies you directly from Apple as an Apple Certified Support Professional.

The exam is an 80 question multiple choice test that covers all aspects of Mac OS X Yosemite from the installation and configuration of the operating system to troubleshooting startup and shutdown issues. You learn all about the nuts and bolts of the operating system, as well as user accounts, file permissions, data management and a variety of Mac specific features. There is a training guide that one should purchase that is your companion for taking the exam, as it is all you need as far as material goes. However, it is a massively long book, and it’s not light reading either. You will need plenty of time to read the guide and digest the material in order to become ready to take the exam.

A short time ago, the folks at Fedora Outlier LLC asked me if I would be interested in joining forces to develop an online training course for those who desire to take the exam and become Apple Certified. This honestly has been something I have contemplated doing or, at least, looking into how to do over the last few years. Sadly, though, a lack of time has prevented me from doing a great deal of research into the topic, so when I was asked if I’d be interested in doing it, it struck me as a great opportunity to attempt such a thing.

There is a preparation course that Apple offers that is called, “Mac 101”, and it’s an intensive, 3 day course that covers about 25 hours. Unfortunately, you have to proceed at the speed of light to cover all of the material, and, of course, accessibility to the material for the course is surely not an easy component in that kind of environment. It was not an option that I certainly considered, which is why I opted to prepare for the exam on my own at my own pace.

Thus, Fedora Outlier and I will be offering a 30 week online course starting in August to assist those who want to obtain their ACSP. This course will cover the entire guide and we will explain and teach you the material in each of the 27 lessons as the course progresses.

As the student, you will need to simply get the Apple Pro Training Series Mac OS X Yosemite Essentials guide by Kevin White and Gordon Davidson. Also, we recommend that you do have an external hard drive on which you can install and run a “dummy” operating system so you can perform the exercises at the end of each of the lessons. If you are an iOS user, we strongly recommend downloading the free, “Revise IT” app from the App Store as well as an additional training resource, as this has practice exam questions and simulated exams you can take to help prepare you for the real deal. Beyond that, just bring your desire to learn and your willingness to prepare and take one of the most rewarding and satisfying challenges you might face in your life. Believe me from personal experience that once you pass that exam, it is a truly exhilarating and triumphant set of feelings that you will Never forget.

To read all of the information about the ACSP course, please go,
here.

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WWDC 2015

I finally got around to updating the
News page
of the site today. This is the information from the World Wide Developer Conference from June 8.

Personally, I don’t think there were any surprises. The next version of the Mac OS, El Capitan, was announced and features were demonstrated. This was also the case for iOS 9 and WatchOS 2 for the Apple Watch. Information about the new Apple Music service were detailed, as well as a new news app for iOS and expansions to Apple Pay.

I think I’ve said this before, but what always intriegues me is when these events take place, how many people seem to either infer or outright suggest on the blind Mac and iOS user lists that since Apple doesn’t talk about accessibility enhancements in the keynote, there won’t be any in the new Mac, iOS or Apple Watch updates. Why do people constantly assume this? To my knowledge, only once or twice did VoiceOver ever get any mention in a keynote, so why does one think this will change?

Folks, there will be updates to VoiceOver on the Mac, the iDevices and the Apple Watch. I’m astounded to read the same recycled comments every time Apple holds these events. I highly encourage blind users to try the public betas for El Capitan and iOS 9 and provide plenty of feedback. You can then see for yourself what accessibility enhancements or changes there will be, and have a voice in their evolution and involvement. That is the best way to help the continued progression of VoiceOver in Apple products.

Posted in Accessibility, App Watch, iOS 9, Mac OS X El Capitan, Mac OS X Yosemite, WatchOS 2 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Some More Apple Watch Material

For those of you interested in the Apple Watch, Matt of the Tech Juggernaut has yet an even more comprehensive podcast that takes a look at the device in even more depth.

You can go here to hear it.

I am definitely leaning more and more towards buying one of these devices. Obviously, they are not for everyone, but the more I have heard and read about it, the more I can see uses for myself.

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Info on the Apple Watch

With people receiving their Apple Watch and my interest in buying one leaning more and more heavily towards doing so, I wanted to post a few links for folks who, like me, have been on the fence and doing research.

Now that I am hearing folks use the watch and I’m reading about it, its uses for me, personally, have seemed a bit more clearer. I really wasn’t sure what to think of the watch, and, of course, I wanted to be certain accessibility would be included. I didn’t have much of a doubt about Apple doing so, but it’s always best to make sure before you plunk down any cash on buying such a device.

In any event, here are a few places to start with for anyone doing research on the Apple Watch.

In episode 82, the knights of the Maccessibility round table also do a demonstration of the Apple
Watch. I, unfortunately, could not be present for the recording, but I certainly encourage you to
listen to the episode.

David Woodbridge, in his usual informative manner, has a great podcast on the applevis.com site that deals with unboxing and setting up the Apple Watch. You can find it
here.

Matt of the Tech Juggernaut, also did a pretty comprehensive demonstration that I found quite helpful. You can go
here to listen to it.

There are many other places that are presenting demonstrations and information on the Apple Watch, so a quick Google search and frequenting the various blind iOS user resources will assist you in finding them.

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Another iOS Resource

A few weeks ago, Anna Dresner released an updated version of her book on using iOS to address iOS 8. The book is called, “Getting Started with the iPhone and iOS 8 : Step-by-Step Instructions for Blind Users”, and is being sold by the National Braille Press. This is a great, easy to read and follow book, and it’s definitely worth having as part of your resource material. It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner in the world of the iPhone or iPad or someone who has used the devices for a long while. In either case, you will benefit from this book.

Many people see Anna’s contributions on the visually impaired iPhone list and know she is always willing to help. I’ve known her for quite a few years now, and just as her contributions on lists are straight to the point and clearly presented, so is the information in her latest edition of her book. I highly recommend it to everyone.

To obtain more information or to purchase the book,
please go here.

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Introducing A New Contributor

As I indicated a short time ago, I am happy to announce that I have received an offer from someone in the community to contribute material to the site. Matthew Vollbrecht of the Tech Juggernaut, as kindly offered to help out with some articles and other material. I’ve added links to some of his podcasts in the
Demonstrations section of the page.

As some background on him, Matt is the founder of The Tech Juggernaut and has been helping both sighted and visually impaired people purchase, learn, and use their computers and other technology effectively since 1998. I’ve hd the pleasure to speak to him and he knows technology and can certainly clearly explain how to use it. He also contributes on a few of the blindness email lists related to Apple products.

You can visit his website
here.

If you would like to get in touch with Matt to inquire about the services he provides, you can reach him by email at this address,
tech@thetechjuggernaut.com

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Apple Event, March 9, 2015

I’m a few days late, but the
News page was updated
with some highlights from the March 9 event held in San Francisco by Apple.

OK, so what do I think about the Apple Watch? From what was demonstrated, well, it seems like it could be a great device. I will probably buy one, though it will probably be the Sport Edition.

Of course, the question of whether or not it will have VoiceOver has been speculated on many of the email lists. Some claim because they didn’t hear SIRI speak during a part of the demonstration that it doesn’t have VoiceOver. However, keep in mind that it does have a microphone and speaker. I’m willing to bet it will have VoiceOver, though, perhaps, a trimmed down version.

As for the other products announced, the Mac Book seems like an awesome laptop. I’m not sure about the USB-C technology as of yet, and for the time being, I’m satisfied with the Mac Book Pro I use. Still, you can’t beat its thinness and the battery life for such a compact device. It’s price tag of $1299 isn’t bad either for what it does.

Of course, the Mac Book Air and Pro lines got a slight kick to processors and features. Nothing significant to my thinking, but the Mac Book Pro is going to receive the new Force Touch Trackpad that is available on the Mac Book models. You get a little more bang with your buck as well for the introductory models in either case.

I’m not an HBO subscriber, and I bought the Apple TV already. However, for $69, if you were on the fence over whether to buy the Apple TV, it’s definitely worth it. Also, I have no doubts additional services will continue to be added as time passes.

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