Adaptive Tech Quadrant: The OrCam: THe Better E-Sight

Hello to all of my beautiful nerds and welcome back from traveling the universe! Time to take a little detour with a new tech gadget!

OrCam: The Better E-Sight!

Disclaimer: This review on this product is based on thoughts, opinions, and observations of the lead writer of this blog. Please respect her thoughts!

Not kidding either. For those who are new in this Nerd Universe, back in January I tried a device called E-Sight. Gondras’ mom saw it on the Rachael Ray show and how someone was able to see again with this device and that it would help with my eye condition. So, I was placed on the waiting list for a while until they contacted me in January. Even though Gondras and I were skeptical, it felt like we were told it would. Guess what? It didn’t and tired seeing about success stories and the website didn’t show any. Even some someone I knew from a support group did try it but didn’t return all of his vision but did see some. So yes, good to know about these things since I had a feeling that it wouldn’t work and it didn’t since I couldn’t see my dad at all and the prisms didn’t refract to do what it needed to do since I learned more about prisms in my Human Eye class.

Now onto the new toy! OrCam on the other hand is a device clipped onto a pair of glasses or you can clip it onto your own pair of glasses but best to do it with plastic frames like the ones you have seen me wear in a few videos. This is a mini camera where you can point and have it take pictures and read out text, read out labels on a bottle or a can and other items, color, and a lot more. It’s Seeing A. I. but on steroids! Also, there is a version where it just reads but I tried the Seeing A. I. version and I used it on my 3DS. Thank you Florida Vision Tech for this demo and coming to demo at the Center for the Visually Impaired.

How Did It Work? A lot better than E-Sight! Yes, it was a little tricky trying to get my finger to point and listen for the shutter since some people were talking. Good thing is that there was a Bluetooth speaker connected since this is also a Bluetooth device which is a major bonus due to how there are Bluetooth devices for anything even earbuds. I tried it out with my 3Ds because I remembered years ago at MegaCon Orlando 2017 that Troy Baker yelled out about finding ways of making gaming accessible and after seeing OrCam for my first time it had my gears turning in my head. When I heard about this demo I wanted to see about how it will read off the dual screens. Even one of my co-workers during lunch said it should. When I had it on, I pointed at the screens and it read out the battery charge at first which it was 10% which didn’t know I had that much left. Then I tried to see about reading the text the Pokémon team I have on my bottom screen and it did. One of my other co-workers was surprise I was playing a Pokémon game after hearing a Pokémon name. I didn’t hear the feedback from OrCam but now I know it does work! It doesn’t work with stylized fonts. Hey, it works!

I did over hear some of the other students and the Florida Vision Tech people helping them and how they used it such as finding French on the creamer bottle which it does read Spanish and French, even the face recognition where if you have someone turn their face to have OrCam catch it and then record their name then whenever you see that person again with it it will recognize them! Could be handy for me when there are a lot of people at different tables at conventions like RangerStop for example? Sometimes I get people mixed up when it’s loud in one space. Anyways, I did ask about object recognition and they said that’s in the works since there were times where people at any vendor tables told me to look around but had to point at my cane as a way of saying, “Hey, can’t see!” At least I don’t have that issue with anyone I have shopped from before.

Do I Want It? Yes! Oh man yes! Even though this is in the thousands, this item will help me out in being able to see and many other people do this as well. No wonder this thing appeared on the Dr. Phil show since it is something we can use. Good thing is that it’s compact and portable and you can wear it on a lanyard if need be. Also, like security systems, appliances, and other smart thermostats, you can control the settings with an app and that is what I may do since I could only do bits of text but setting it to automatic read would be the best for me if I get my paws on this.

If you’re visually impaired and heard of E-Sight and OrCam I would say look into OrCam more because this has more success so far for what has been shown in person and plus it does run on better tech than E-Sight since prisms have to refract at certain angles in order to produce the light necessary when going through the eye. Unlike OrCam it’s just cameras and audio.

Well guys! If you have a vendor in your part of the universe at an American Council for the Blind or National Federation of the Blind Convention in your state or going to the national one in Las Vegas in July check this device out if it’s on display. While me, it looks like Go Fund Me will be happening because this thing can help me out greatly. Stay tuned on Twitter on news whenever it goes up.

That is it guys! I will put the Dr. Phil clip for you guys to see and again thanks Florida Vision Tech! And next Adaptive Tech item is…ugh…The Tap! Until next time!
HH

Technology: ESight

Hello to all of my beautiful nerds traveling the vast universe! I am back with another Assistive Tech Post!

ESight

I bet you’re wondering, “What is ESight?” Well, it is a pair of glasses that has a camera that is attached to them and what it does it tries to give someone who has lost some sight regain some of it back to be able to see in front of them again. This was developed in Canada a few years back and well Momma Gondras saw it on Rachael Ray and saw someone was able to see with these glasses and they were talking about how it worked for them. I have met people that has tried these glasses out and one person it didn’t work out for them while the other it did. Reason why I am writing about it here is because I tried them today.

How I Got Onto the List? Well, like most places there is a waiting list for this thing due to how long of a list to demo these glasses can be a high demand. I want to tell you a little bit about my past before I got onto this list.

When I got diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, I wanted to find ways of seeing again since I was an artist and well you know makeup has been a new creative outlook for me and still wanted to find ways of seeing again and able to draw again. Not only that drive too since my dream car is still a VW Beetle in blue, either the old Herby model or the newer ones since I am not picky. Anyways, I always saw an eye specialist in Miami and he was helping me with research in getting something to help me see again but as time went on my hopes kind of stalled out since I was getting comfortable with my visual impairment even before getting my job as an Adaptive Tech Instructor. That was when Momma Gondras came in last year and it was during Irma hitting. I told her my plans in being a tech instructor since it is a field that they need more people in and volunteering at the middle school I used to go to was helping me get over some hurdles that I have noticed during my work experience and she was asking me about job related stuff and it was hard for me to answer to tell you truth. Heck, I wanted to go back to school even for my Grad Certificate for Adaptive Tech. After that, I learned that I shouldn’t share my dreams with the future-in-law if they don’t share the same ideas or aspirations as you. Apparently, there were things and said and done which was that Gondras put me on the waiting list for ESight. I was surprised by that because I wasn’t expecting it due to how skeptical we felt about it and will get to that.
Why Were We Skeptical? Now! I and Gondras were skeptical about this device because we didn’t get that much information through the website and that is why I don’t feel like posting the link, best to Google search for yourself. Most websites that talk about tech items do talk about the specs of the item, what it is exactly and so on. For example, I will use Apple for this. For a lot of their products they talk about how big their Mac Books or even their IPads, heck the newer IPhones with the height and width, what the camera is like, Siri of course, and the latest I OS that will be coming with the device and what else can be done with that particular product. With the ESight website, on the other hand, the information is repetitive, not too much to talk about even with pricing, and doesn’t give success stories if it has worked for a lot of people.

What even has me more worrisome is that it lists off different eye conditions that it can help but the issue is that people have different types of an eye condition and the degree of sight can change over time, which I will tell my experience with this device next due to my degree of vision. Plus, an eye condition can take place at any time in life, like me with getting my condition in high school for example and going blind at twenty-three. Not only have that, depending on the amount of sighted loss it can be tough to regain which I will tell you my experience now!

My Experience with These Glasses! Trust me, I was really not looking forward to this demo since I did take the day to do it due to how bad traffic can get between Daytona and Orlando, especially the part of town it was taking place. I felt a bit off with the address first, but let me start with the call though. I was working on my Chrome Book when I got the call and the person was very friendly and told me that he was from ESight and explained things that looking back at the website now was not mentioned there. A little red flag right there! Oh yes, the Red Flag Kitties were there waving their little flags! I had a feeling if I turned them down I wouldn’t be left alone without guilt after waiting on the list since 2017 after Irma. Got to talking more and got some pricing, which looking at the website, another Red Flag Kitty pops up because he mentioned the prices and how low it has gotten and I remembered the fundraising option if it did work. This device was originally $10,000 which is more than the Braille Note Touch and the Braille Sense Polaris on their own own. Even though they dropped the price it would have taken most of my pay and have me eating ramen for the next few months and probably skip more conventions and probably makeup re-stocking. And not only that, there was a home trial but it is a risk to take because if these didn’t work you lose $500. For anyone who wants to try these you are getting some warning while reading this and I care. I even almost had a major spit take with the home trial option.

So, fast forward to today. Getting to Orlando was a breeze even though there was some traffic on Sand Lake which the address that was given was at an office building that felt like in the middle of nowhere. I have gone to similar buildings but they did have names when it came to job interviews but this was kind of weird in a way since I didn’t know where I was going and I remembered that one guy I used to know had his demo at a hotel. I think it would have been better if it was in a place that is well-known like an office inside of a mall or at a doctor’s office, heck even at one of the Lighthouse locations would have been nice since that was mentioned during my demo. Getting into the building was even more of a pain because the elevator in the parking garage was a freight even though we were able to get to the basement level, yes it has one of those, and the stairs were leading to doors either private or there was no exit on the floor I was supposed to be on. I am not kidding, I felt like I was in a bad Escher painting. With my experiences being at my dad’s doctors or other parts of Orlando with parking garages with office buildings at least I could get in and out without a problem. Anyways, so we got in and was seen pretty quickly.

So, it started off telling the salesman about myself, my degree of vision, and he did explain what the glasses were, what the camera does, and that it doesn’t work for everyone, oh right also get to adjust the glasses if need be with a remote that is attached. He also had me try and see one of those eye charts we always get tested on. I admitted I only saw his arm holding it not the card since I can only see in my peripheral which brings up another red flag which I will get to the next point of the story. So, the glasses felt like standard blind man glasses as in sunglasses with a camera attached and there was a strap to hold them on. The strap felt like a tourniquet. I know it’s supposed to be adjustable but I felt my head getting tighter despite the adjustment and. So, he had me try to see my dad with these on and unfortunately I couldn’t. My dad did not appear clearly which they were supposed to. So, this brings up that one Red Flag Kitty which the person on the phone explained that with my RP versus the standard that it can be worked with the camera versus the tunnel vision standard. With the demo it shows that it didn’t! The guy in the room did say reason why it didn’t work on me is due to the lack of natural vision that is left in my peripherals and I can see why.

How I went blind was an interesting tidbit which I will share here. When I was trying to draw something a few days after designing my first costume on paper, I noticed my right eye turning. It was like a hurricane on a weather map and knew that I lost my right eye and then a year or so after my left eye followed and yes I may still have some vision in my peripheral like a flounder but not enough for these glasses. I am taking Anatomy of the Human Eye I and I learned so far that not all eye conditions are the same even with mine. I have met people in the past that are going through RP but different versions even different ways with the same thing as mine. These people working on ESight feel to me, well mostly to my dad, is that they are just there to sell the product. Plus, Gondras did bring up that it feels like a VR set that is not made to fit a certain degree of vision that a person may have and should make the tech help for those different degrees of sight loss and I agree with him. I did tell him that we were right about not working but at least I did try it for free rather than shelling out major cash. Even my dad asked if we had to pay up front. It can happen with some places.

Final Thoughts: Even though the glasses didn’t work one me doesn’t mean it won’t work for anyone but I would say is that think before signing up for a demo because the website is not a good place to check because the pages repeat the same information over and over and once you’re on the phone with someone or there at the demo that is where the true information is given.

I’m sorry but being a bit harsh here, also honest, but when looking for something like this you need more information, actual testimonials to see if it worked, and give the price tag on the website and any information about how to get the funds to pay for it. If it had worked for me, then I would have a Go Fund Me raise the money for one after hearing someone have this device work for them.

Another thing is, please don’t go in with hopes of it working. Technology works in different ways and can either work great or not for someone who tests that new toy. Just know that yes it is a possibility of seeing again but if it doesn’t work out then find a different avenue which I did appreciate the guy giving an alternative for something similar. And now looking at it, I am also thinking that the people who worked on this device should look more into eye diseases because not all of them work the same way, they get diagnosed differently and people have different ways of losing their sight due to that condition like I had. Not only that, get a better website because I feel it needs to show better information about the product and how it works and explain the tech better. Plus, the pricing which is the first question on a lot of people’s minds when going into something like this. Even when I tried confirming on their website, it did have a question, “If this does restore some residual vision, how much will you pay?” And gives you options from highest to lowest so that is why a price guide on the main website can help.

So yeah, if you’re thinking about having a demo, just look out for some things even with the website and if not, I understand!

Well, that is it for this experience. I know it was an interesting experience with the building I went to but I rather try this at a doctor’s office or at a Lighthouse knowing that I am in a safe and familiar environment. Plus, I feel as though that this device should be improved upon even with the website because of how many eye conditions can happen at any moment. Which I need to get back to that Human Eye class because I am learning a lot of stuff as time goes on.

That is it for this post. Sorry for a bit of a mishap but my Boxy Charm was not shipped yet so hoping to see if it will soon because I have seen some people on YouTube get theirs so far. Next up is one of our interviews from Holiday Matsuri! Stay tuned!

Bests & Worsts of 2018!

Hello to all of my beautiful nerds traveling the vast universe! It is time for the final post of 2018!

Bests & Worsts of 2018!

We are at that time again my friends and that is the bests and worsts moments, beauty items, movies, and so on of 2018! This year was a life changing year for me so let’s start with that!

New Job & New Home in a New Location! Well, last year I said 2018 was going to be my year of getting a job and hoping to move out and guess what? I just did that in November! I did get interviewed for the Adaptive Tech Instructor in Daytona and I got it! I have been a student at the Rehab Center I’m teaching at and glad that I got to move up and doing it in something I wanted to teach and that is Adaptive Tech which I use on a daily basis especially with writing Nerdy Shique Universe by using JAWS. I knew I had to also move out for this job because I can’t drive and got my own place and loving it! Me and Gondras are sharing it so he will be moving in with me so we can be a full on couple, well engaged couple here together. We will be commuting back to Orlando for conventions since we do have Omni Fandom Expo in March and also Ranger Stop if we get another press badge since we did enjoy that one too. There are conventions here in Daytona too but haven’t heard from them much. I have to get back in contact with them since one is a writing convention and there are some authors on my Net Galley shelf that will be appearing there. How do I like living on my own? Well, the good news is that it made my mental health a lot more easier because it was stressful living in a big city where the job market is still unsure about hiring blind people even in call centers and I did try going for volunteering at the Lighthouse but that didn’t go through as planned for their Adaptive Tech Department. Glad I am working in it and plus I have changed dramatically since I did take a Self-Esteem & Adjusting to Blindness class which helped me understand more and understand myself when it comes to adjusting to being blind. Plus, getting to cook my own food feels a lot better too since I did go through back seat cooking with my parents and it caused some stress too, even when I made potato salad and wanted to follow the recipe but mom wanted me to do it our way. I did get to make her black beans and it felt like home even with the Adobo seasoning for my pork chops. Plus, I get a bigger closet too which made me happy along with smaller furniture than what I had in my old room at my parents’ place. Not only that, transportation is also better here because you have more bus stops to get to and the paratransit is way better, not only that the Lift drivers are very friendly! So yeah, I am at a better place in life, I have a great job teaching, now I can write my book in peace as well since I did re-start it again. I know, this is becoming annoying when I should have finished this year. Well, living on the coast will help me out since my first two books were done while I was a student. Let’s cross our fingers!

Being Certified In JAWS! Next is another great aspect this year and that is being JAWS Certified! I have been using this software since 2010 and figured being certified in this software could help me get into the field of tech more and I was right about that. The test was hard and I had to study a lot of things from the Help Topics to knowing what the commands were, especially when they tested more on the Laptop Keyboard Commands versus Desktop, and so much more. I was glad to pass and now waiting on my certificate so it can be in my office!

Getting a Chrome Book! Speaking of tech, I did get a Chrome Book for myself this past month because I wanted to see about the operating system and since my mom returned hers after having it for a few weeks, I really wanted to see about its built-in screen reader after seeing the ones on display at the NFB National Convention. So far so good it has been working out because of how the commands are like JAWS but with a different modifier key. I have to play around more with it since I am creating a Chrome Book workbook on Excel to help me and any other instructors.

Getting to Go to the NFB National Convention! I finally got to attend the NFB National Convention for its last year in Orlando, which it will be in Vegas next year. It was an amazing opportunity since I went with the Jernigan First Time Scholarship, I tried for National Scholarship but didn’t get it and now holding off on my Grad Certificate at the moment, and got to enjoy the convention. I even volunteered at the Braille Book Fair to get my interaction with younger kids better since I wasn’t doing it in the school system at the time. It was fun and getting to talk with a mom about how she is trying to get her child’s dexterity back after a stroke was even life changing too because it was sad hearing about it but I did suggest some things since Braille does help us out. I did get a new watch from this convention along with a few other items and got to meet the many other chapters in the United States and knowing that we’re not alone in the universe. I am going to try and join the chapter here in Daytona but due to how busy it has gotten unpacking and getting things for the apartment, even working, it will be a little bit before I join since being in the NFB shows that we can self-advocate and do have family and friends to help us. Oh right…let me save that for later!

Bests

Now to start with the bests since there are tons of awesome things going on this year and I have to give it to a lot of people and moments!

Game of the Decade: War Frame! First is Video Game of the Decade and I give it to War Frame! All this year Gondras has been playing this game and it is also up my alley with story since it’s a science fiction story where a metallic virus turns humans into robots known as War Frames and you as the Tenno pilot these robots to travel across the Solar System to take on the threats that want to take over. You also get more War Frames along the way, especially one where it was from a secret event story that dealt with one who had darkness take over. Now the game is where you go to Venus and get to explore the now icy planet to meet robot dwarves and even have hover boards. This game is very pretty and now that we have a new tv in our living room, yes good to say that, it will look even better. For anyone who has a Nintendo Switch, it’s going to be available for the Switch! Now you can play it on PC, PS4 and Xbox! Amazing work!

Movie of the Year: Avengers: Infinity War Part 1! Movie of the year goes to Avengers: Infinity War Part 1! We all know that it has come down to this where we see the Infinity Gauntlet is completed and now the Avengers must come together along with the Guardians of the Galaxy to take on Thanos and his gauntlet. Can’t wait what Part 2 has to offer since we are getting Captain Marvel next since she will be important in that part!
Runner Ups: Black Panther and AquaMan! Can’t forget these two since they have appeared this year. Black Panther was another great movie from this year since we got to see an African-American superhero take center stage for his origin story in this movie. It also became a hit at box offices back in February and schools even took kids to see this movie as a field trip which was even more amazing. While AquaMan, on the other hand, was something DC should have done like with Marvel and start with the origin story movies before diving into the big team up films. I did enjoy Jason Mamoa as AquaMan and we get to see a mix of villains which made it more interesting. Nicole Kidman did a great job as his mom on top of it. Too bad we’re not doing MegaCon next year, interviewing Mr. Mamoa would be pretty sweet! Speaking of interviews!

Interview Opportunity: Apl DeAp from the Black Eyed Peas! Yes, another moment this year was getting to interview a Grammy winning artist and that is Apl DeAp from the Black Eyed Peas and it was during the NFB National Convention. When I first heard he was going to be performing at it, I had to get the interview and what surprised me was that he is visually impaired himself. He has Nystagmus which causes severe near sight and he did tell his story behind it which you can still see here and over on our YouTube Channel’s Interviews Playlist. It felt great to meet him and brought us another musical artist to our channel since we did interview Traverser not long after. If you get to meet Mr. DeAp, just say hi not wave because he did explain it’s hard for him to see it.
Runner Up: Trying Out Skype Interviews with J. Michael Tatum, Brandon McInnis, and Traverser! As you know being at a convention you can get busy as a guest or even as a musical artist your schedule gets packed before a show so that is why we went one step beyond with our interviews this year. We used Skype to interview J. Michael Tatum and Brandon McInnis, since there schedules were full during Holiday Matsuri 2017, and Traverser, since they were returning to the stage after three or so years. It shows how we got over the obstacle of not being able to interview people face to face and hoping to get more in 2019 since I have a list in mind for the year.

Anime: My Hero Academia! Speaking of Tatum! It is the Best Anime Category and this year it goes to My Hero Academia! GOndras did start watching it himself and then shown it to me and man it is one of the best dubs I have seen so far! It is like the movie Sky High but what if it’s an anime and your main character, Izuku, is not born with a Quirk and has one transferred to him by his idol, All Might! I can’t wait for the next season because the last season ended on a pretty good note.
Runner Up: Overlord! I have to hand the Runner Up position to Overlord because it is an anime series that deals with a video game you have never thought to be better than Sword Art Online. Why would I say that? Well, in Overlord, you get to see new worlds being built, characters going through certain adventures that help them get better in fighting, and not only that take over towns like a usual fantasy RPG. Plus, with the main character, Momonga, we not only see him in the game but see his player in the real world thinking about what to do next and how to interact with the party. I would say check this out if you can!

Male Performance in An Anime: Justin Briner in My Hero Academia I decided to include this after watching the anime and I give it to Justin Briner because he gave a stand out performance as Deku in My Hero Academia. He is a new voice to my ears and I have heard him in Team FourStar’s Final Fantasy VII Abridged as Cloud and trust me I was thinking to Cloud watching MHA A. I hope we get to interview him either over Skype or in person at a convention.

Female Performance in an Anime: Monica Rial in Shimonetta! I know, it’s a weird title but when Gondras shown me this one on Funimation Now I never thought it would be hilarious especially with Monica Rial as Ana. I bet how many takes it took for one certain line, if you are of age, watch it!

Best Supporting Role in an Anime: J. Michael Tatum in My Hero Academia! Final anime related thing and that is best supporting role and it goes to J. Michael Tatum when he played Tenya Ida in My Hero Academia.

Makeup Brand of the Year: Cover Girl! I decided to give this year’s Brand of the Year to Cover Girl because this year they made a huge change from being a brand that wasn’t Cruelty Free to one that is now is and Leaping Bunny approved! Brands are trying to get away from animal testing and glad to hear that Cover Girl is the first even close to the end of the year, especially many months after Nars has joined in being sold in China during the beginning of this year. Hoping Cover Girl leaving China and being on this list can be an example to others and saying, “Join us and be Cruelty Free!” Now China is fighting to have better ways of testing at the moment, so more news on the horizon!
Runner Up: Urban Decay! 2018 has been a huge year for Urban Decay since they have released a lot of collections and discontinued a beloved product and that was the Original Naked pallet. Trust me, it was sad for me to hear since I was doing my Urban Decay Look Series on the YouTube Channel. But they have released many pallets this year that have been a success so far and they are the Beached Pallet in the summer, Born to Run, Naked Cherry, and Elements for the holidays. Now they have announced Naked Reloaded which is the Naked pallet but with new packaging and shades. Plus, the Naked Honey, and Naked AF soon to join the series! Will 2019 have all three? We will have to see!

Collection of the Year: Wet N Wild Flights of Fancy! I have to give this award to the Wet N Wild Flights of Fancy Collection because it has been a really good collection that was released during this year. Not only it had new items like a lip scrub and baked blushes but it also had donations from each box set go to the Audubon Society to help with a species of hummingbird that is native to California. A great cause for a great box! Let’s see what WNW brings to 2019!

Set at Electric Daisy Carnival Vegas 2018: Alan Walker! Even though I can’t take a flight to Vegas every year for EDC but this year’s videos shown a lot of great sets but I have to give it to Alan Walker’s set! I like his music the most because it has a science fiction feel to it and of course I did create a makeup look to his song “Ignite.” His newer stuff is pretty good too and I highly recommend. If you can’t make any of the EDC events this year, you can always catch it on YouTube!

Worsts

I do have a few worsts this year since I felt like not that many had happened but I will get to it!

Moment at a Convention: My Cane Breaking! I never had this happen before and that is my cane breaking at a convention. Someone pretty much stepped over and got caught in my cane and caused it to crack. Still makes me mad that people are blind to blind people and well, thinking we’re are like Terezi from Homestuck which we’re not, the cane is real. Hoping this year with cons I don’t experience this again because it’s not fun meeting an annoyed mobility instructor at work, even though it was not my fault because I was using proper cane etiquette and the person just shown up out of nowhere.

Makeup Moment: Being Makeup Shamed! Apparently, this year there has been a bit of makeup shaming taking place, more recent actually and I became a victim of. Seriously people? When did we came down to this? I understanding roasting someone for laughs but doing it with makeup is not cool. I did hear there were Cosplay Shaming Groups but there are groups for makeup and a newer one came up and someone from the What’s Up In Makeup Group did use my pic for it. I don’t get why we feel the need that this should be okay when makeup is a creative outlet for a lot of people, especially me. At least the person got kicked out for it because in the group you are being watched.

The Most Okay Movie: Solo! I had to mention an Okay Movie but not necessarily a Worst Movie either and that goes to Solo. It’s the movie that tells the story about how Han Solo got the Millennium Falcon and we get to use Lando get his butt kicked for it. It was not that bad and it did get bad reviews for it, when you look at it, it was competing against a Marvel movie at the same time. We did enjoy it.

Game: My Hero Academia! I have to mention this one because Gondras was looking forward to this game but it didn’t come out to being the one he was hoping for and it was the My Hero Academia game. It was supposed to play like Ninja Storm where you got to play the different story arcs but the only ones you get the arcs from the Stained arc through rescuing Bakugo! Even though those are nice arcs but Ninja Storm started from the beginning so you could play through them while here it’s the best arcs being played. Not only that, they didn’t use the English cast for this either. The Funimation dub of the show is one of the best dubs they have done and wishing they recorded this with them because they picked a lot of great actors to be in the dub. Sorry My Hero Academia, we prefer the anime.

What’s Up For Us in 2019? Well, another year at Omni Fandom Expo and just in time for new promo material. Even though we have business cards but we need to step it up and we will get it in time for this year’s convention. We aren’t sure about other cons but shooting for another year at Ranger Stop and of course new content for the YouTube Channel including new playlists to come! Also, I just re-subscribed to Boxy Charm and glad to get it back! It will be separate from Ipsy so stay tuned for our new stuff in 2019! Until next time everyone, have a safe and Happy New Year and see you in 2019!

Convention Impossible: Holiday Matsuri 2018!

Hello to all of my beautiful nerds traveling the vast universe! It’s time for our Convention Impossible post on Holiday Matsuri. It’s going to be a hard one this time around which I know there will be some Needs for Improvement.

Disclaimer: This review is based on thoughts and observations from the lead writer of this blog. Please respect her thoughts on the convention and its rating because not everyone has the same experience especially with this convention.

Oh man! Where to start! This year we had a different experience from past years since it felt like the convention gone and went without even knowing. We did stay at the World Center like last year and I felt like we spent more time in the room than the con itself. Let me talk about the hotel.

Hotel: Like I said above, we stayed at the World Center and we spent some time before heading there by getting some shopping done for the weekend as in getting food to eat in the room and getting checks cashed because apparently there was a security breach that took place and best to use cash at the hotel areas itself rather than your card. Trust me, being hacked is not fun. So, we got to the hotel and the parking was packed! Apparently, besides Matsuri, there were two other events taking place and it was a military ball type event and a business convention in one of the wings. This does happen at some venues where some events take place at the same time, especially with conventions. Good examples, the cheerleading competitions during MegaCon when they were held in March, Omni Fandom Expo taking place at the same time as Florida Anime Experience when they first started, even a beauty pageant took place at the World Center as Omni Fandom Expo taking place, these are a few but these three going on at the same time caused parking to be full and Gondras was told to park at the outlets and take the shuttle but he did find a parking spot. We were glad we had East Tower this year with our room and it was a one bed and one couch situation. I did remember that leading up to the convention that they talked about rooms being sold out and the Queen Bed rooms were taken by then and I have a feeling people from the other two events were also staying in those. So glad they extended stay slots at other hotels in the area to cater to everyone. We were afraid that Hol Mat would be moved next year but heard that it won’t so who knows where we will be next December. I did point out Gaylord Palms but realized that they have their Ice exhibit and that would be an issue to hold Hol Mat there unless they give discount tickets to attendees, just saying. We did have a great stay this year and man that King Size Bed was comfy. Also our roomie was great too! At first we asked on the Hol Mat Housing Group to find new roomies and the first cancelled due to financial reasons which does happen, second one what friends coming, and third person was a major charm! She was awesome and she is a big Tales fan and she did host a trivia panel which I will get to later!

Game Room: I have to point this out because this year’s Game Room was very impressive this year and better than years before. Not only it featured your classic cabinets that you tend to see at this convention but we also had Japanese games including the famous Gundam pods! If you haven’t been to Japan in the Otaku areas, it’s basically a Gundam cockpit simulator game where it’s in an arcade that you have people dressed as the attendants in the Gundam anime series and you get to be in the pods where you get to pilot Gundams ranging across the vast series. Gondras wanted to play this thing so bad if we ever got to go to the arcade with it and they brought it here except he didn’t fit in it due to how tall he is. That did make him happy that they brought it to a convention of all places where a lot of fans would roam around. Also, there was the Rock Band set up which not only had the classic songs but there were a few more added in. Besides this room having games inside there were games spread out in the convention itself like Music Tag near the vendor’s room which I will get to now…

Vendor’s Room: I liked it better this year than the last. How so? Not only it felt bigger but the vendors were better this year! As in there were more variety in merch than it has been before as in plushies, apparel, even artists for instance which I felt like I bought more items from as usual since I do love handmade items since they are more unique. Some of these items include a seatbelt type belt for your pants featuring Happy. You know I love the kitties from Fairy Tail and haven’t gotten much of Happy lately and glad to get this because this is a comfy belt! As in, you just have a cloth strap versus leather which to me leather belts do become uncomfortable even while being Lucy thank you very much! I should have taken a card from this vendor because I would want to see if they can make a plain black one. I also did find my favorite seller who had the cat ears and tails. She did give me a discount again which made me happy and did pick up two of her newer furs which one pair of ears and tail had pastel spots all over and pink bows with the bells and I didn’t mind having that on my ears because they matched better with the pastel spots. As you know, calico kitties are one of my favorite types of kitties. While the other pair is more interesting which is a very fluffy fur that is in red with silver striping. I didn’t get the bows and bells, which I should have asked, maybe I should message her about that but it was so soft that I did hand her the money for them too. I love her ears and tales and I suggest buying from her. I did run into Japanese Snacks Guy at the front of the room which he had a really good spot. He had new items which are these long gummy things. They remind me of those jolly Rancher bars I remembered as a kid which I wished I could find them again but as a gummy. I haven’t opened them yet since I have been munching on candy canes all thanks to my L cosplay! I am not kidding, after Hol Mat, I have not only my remnants of the Hershey’s candy canes but two boxes of Sour Patch Kids canes, a box of soda flavored which features Crush, Dr. Pepper, and A&W Root Beer canes which the A&W got my interest since that is my fave root beer ever! And now waiting on a shipment of Trolli Brite Crawler ones which I did order a box through Shipt and they taste good! They aren’t overbearing sour since the sour powder is inside. Anyways, I did get another pack of Hi-Chew which is green apple, I did like this flavor from long ago when I first got into them and got a bag with multiple flavors. I still have my stock just in case I need something to chew on even at work and that is not gum. Also, I did get something chocolate but only one item since I still have a big container of mint bark and a chocolate bar thing from Gondras’ job and my chocolate container filled to the brim. They are these chocolates I did love but this time different types of strawberries which is going to be interesting. Other items I did get were for holiday parties, I did get a Charmander for a toy drive party but didn’t go due to really bad weather rolling through Daytona Thursday, even a tornado warning happened and had to stay in the building, and got a Groot keychain for a White Elephant gift thing for the staff party and was entertaining seeing that get passed on for a gift steal. I also got a new Jolteon plush which you guys know I cosplay as my own Thunder Gym Leader and I had a plush from Disney of Jolteon but it was a chibi form one. This one is him on all four legs like my little figure on my desk. Trust me I couldn’t resist since the only Evees I have left to get are Umbreon, which I have a Dark Trainer in mind, and Espeon, which I haven’t done a Psychic trainer yet. I will have to wait for Omni to see if anyone sells an Umbreon in the same style as my Jolteon which the interesting thing there was one but in a prize machine. I did almost have Gondras get me Umbreon as a belated birthday present but I wanted the Pikachu with the Rawst Berry instead because I didn’t know when I could see that one ever again. And Gondras did get something and that was Keith Silverstein’s autograph on his Persona games. When we heard Mr. Silverstein being at the con, Gondras wanted to bring him something that was rare and it was these games he got from Cyber Tron Gaming here in town, which is a game shop that sells vintage games and some anime too. Which by the way…

Guests: Oh man the guests! Did we interview? Yes! The only one we didn’t interview was Zach Callison because by the end of the weekend according to his Liaison that he was done for the weekend. Hoping we can get a Skype interview since we have a line to get to for that with some people from Ranger Stop, I did Tweet Zach to see if he can do it with us and haven’t heard back. We did get to have a video interview with Brittney Karbowski which was great, I know we did interview her years ago at MetroCon but had to transcribe it and now that we do video ones it worked out. And we did interview Jennifer Hale finally! As you guys know we wanted to do it at MegaCon 2017 but since everything going down we didn’t get it and since this was another chance for us we did get to sit down with her for one and it was great! We will get the videos up as soon as possible if we can since I am really busy with work and Gondar’s is to, we will try to get them up as soon as we can so stay tuned on Twitter!

Panels: We didn’t go to many this year. I did say we spent most of our time in the room and I felt bored. I know it’s sad since panels are the greatest part of the convention experience. Not only that this year we didn’t have a real coverage schedule which I will get to that later due to press not being as organized as it has been. I admit I was on Colour Pop and Ulta’s websites shopping since Ulta was doing a gift to spend $35 to get a free gift from their brand. I did make it and it’s at my parents’ place, I am thinking of doing a collective haul of beauty stuff since I did buy clothes for work and fleece jackets too since it was freezing here for a bit. And Colour Pop did a 40% off pallets and picked up two I was eyeing on and a $30 off their Lux Lipsticks which I got one I wanted. So, yeah I was a bit bored. We did go to two yaoi ones, well me with Vivi and Tobi. We went to Yaoi after Dark and Yaoi on Ice, the Voice Actors panel on Saturday which Nerdy Shirts did record from the start which we were late due to something that took place. And the Funimation Peep Show. I told you guys not that many and wishing we did go to more or at least had a set schedule this year. I did try submitting Blind Perspective but didn’t hear anything about it, I think it was not approved being it a writing panel. Oh well, I don’t think it will be a panel I will submit again, I do want to bring Blind Experience though since that was a success even though some people did tell us it wasn’t that great. I think it is a success in my eyes and people did enjoy it during Hol Mat 2013. Let’s see what 2019 brings. I did forget to mention the Tales Of Trivia Panel, that was also a fun one since all thanks to playing Xilia 2 for the most part with Gondras, I did get to answer the questions on that game. I did win the Mila and Jude keychain or shall I say phone charm.

Verdict: Convention…abor…Complete! I am saying why! I felt like this convention was almost an Aborted this year due to some things going on but I give it a Complete because I have noticed some staff were working harder than others and I will explain in Needs for Improvement!

Needs for Improvement:
Hotel NFI: Don’t Plan SO Many Things At Once! I know this is something that does happen but I feel like the hotel was overbooked for events this year and as said above that included a business convention in the western part of the hotel, the Military Ball, and Hol Mat. This caused a major parking problem and I felt like due to the overbooking not everyone could park at the hotel even when you were a person with a room. I did see that on the group were there was supposed to be more parking areas but it wasn’t noticed. Even motorcycles took up an entire space! There should have been parking slots for motorcycles instead of having the riders do that. With the Outlets parking, I don’t think anyone of us who owns a car would have enjoyed it. ZI did see one of our friends did have to park there but being towed is not great either. SO, my message to World Center, don’t overbook when you know hol Mat is there for you guys. Not only that for anyone who wants to hold an event in Orlando at the same time as a convention, there are other places in town that you can hold events and some of them are pretty big like the Caribe Royale where Hol Mat was at, Rosen Shingle Creek, Rosen Center, Holiday Inn Across from Universal has a decent size ballroom, I can go on, even the Florida Mall Hotel is pretty big with how Omni holds their events. I would say do research in holding events at other places please, there were so many people coming to this thing, plus some people did say they had complaints about some of the Military Ball attendants, which I haven’t heard much of.
Attend Your Meet Ups! I have been hearing about how meet ups are being held and others just had people bail on them, this is according to Vivi. I understand the convention is filled with shiny things that you can be distracted by but having a meet up with people that you schedule on a group is something important from what I have seen. I remembered people posting meet ups for Naruto, My Hero Academia, even a Lolita one and these are planned ahead in time and scheduled with the convention and it not happening is something that says it was not cared about. I know Vivi was excited for the Yuri On Ice meet ups and the Lolita Meet Up because she ordered an actual cord for her first time and it’s sad to hear that it didn’t go well, it was just crafting and some people almost came in but didn’t go in since it wasn’t really a meet up. I guess I am glad that I didn’t go through a meet up, I bet if I were to cosplay as Sue or one of the Wild Pussy Cats from My Hero Academia and find out the meet up wasn’t happening at last minute where people just left I would be mad! I am not sure if that still happened since that would have been fun to witness.
Press.pardon my French…WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO YOU GUYS!? Sorry guys, I had to ask because the past few years Press was really organized ever since we have started getting the press pass with them and thought they were a good con to go to since we have seen great and unique events, meet up with awesome guests and hoping to interview them. I was glad we got the interviews this year and I noticed that the Guest Relations people were working harder since they had to take care a lot of people and working with press for possible interviews like us. Press this year….I know they had higher demand…I know they probably have been swamped…but I was lucky to meet someone who helped in getting us in. I haven’t seen bad organization since JACON 2009 actually. To tell you the truth, I preferred Press at Hol Mat to be more organized as in first of all having a set schedule to cover events which was great, it helped get more coverage out there even on our channel where we had so many videos, like our coverage from last year and the year before, not only that it kept us going to more events too that we never got to see. I also enjoyed that! We also got great pics from the Cosplay Runway over the years and now this year we didn’t go due to our interviews which was fine in my book. This year without that set schedule, yes we got to be a bit more slack but I missed it especially doing the Google Hangouts which the past two years we got to sit down with the Press Staff, even last year was the best Hangouts because I got to talk to the other teams that were covering Hol Mat but now this year I am wondering who else got approved besides us or shall I say who else got handed Press Passes? We didn’t get to meet anyone from Press unlike last year where we got to meet some of the other Press teams in person. See where I’m going? I know Press can have high Demand and I can see why with this year but not being able to see who else is doing it with you makes it like you’re the only ones doing it. I am glad that whoever has known what we do remembers us, even the staff member who has responded to my post about my giving away some of my manga due to the move knows about us all thanks to her daughter. That is why for 2019 starting with Omni Fandom Expo we will have better promo materials since we have worked hard especially this year with Omni, interviewing APl DeAp at the NFB Convention, Ranger Stop, and now with this one I felt not so much work. I am sorry guys but with my rating with what I was about to say was almost an Aborted because I felt this convention felt disorganized and Vivi pointed out that attendees weren’t as friendly in person as I have seen more people talking on the group and once the con does happen not a lot of people talk in person, it just becomes a huge standoff mess. I did have fun with our roomie though during her panel since it was a trivia thing and hoping to get to stay with her again maybe for Metro and we are looking into a room for Omni next year since working now we can do hotel stays a little more often. Also was supposed to meet another person I have met on the board but she was in line for something. I know big tangent…next point…
Watch Out for Disabled People! What do I mean by this, I had my cane cracked by someone during the con? I know, gasp! Okay, the story is that Gondras and I were heading over to the voice actors panel on Saturday and on the way there someone walked up and walked and in front of my cane but in the worst way, it was halfway up the cane and tripped over it and caused it to crack. I wasn’t hurt nor the person and it caused the cane to twist and cracked one of the joints where it collapses. We did get it duct taped Sunday because using an umbrella was not easy for me, I even ran into a wall since I missed my cane so much and almost cried Sunday because of it helping Gondras carry stuff to his car. This was something that still made me mad and bid felt like I lost a best friend when my cane cracked. Even the mobility instructor was annoyed when I told him about what had happened when I went to get a new cane, I didn’t show up with my taped one because I felt awkward so I show up with my short cane I had since my college days. I know the con was crowded but when I am at cons using my mobility skills people step aside! Even people with guide dogs, wheelchairs, and even crutches get that treatment too but what I went through was even worse. The person who tripped even said, “I didn’t know!” I was appalled when I heard that because here is the thing, all thanks to the comic Homestuck, people have cosplayed the blind character in that even back in 2012 when the comic had a major spike in popularity and people thought my cane was a prop and I was cosplaying the character when I now the comic with the troll side having candy corn horns. I even remembered seeing someone with huge horns from that comic, I think they did a better horn design for their character they were doing. Anyway, I cosplay as characters like Lucy, my many Pokémon characters even my variation of Link, and so on and my cane is always with me. Plus, it is my symbol of being someone in the bind community getting to enjoy a convention like a sighted person and doing press for it. So please guys, watch out for people in wheelchairs, guide dogs since there was a story that Vivid Barnacle read that someone had their service dog get hurt really badly at a con to use as an example, and watch out for blind canes because they’re not props and blind people are real! Yes Homestuck did have one in comic form but we are real!
Please Wait to Celebrate After the Con! What I mean by this is that I did notice that there was a meet up at Volcano Bay three weeks before the con or was it four weeks, can’t keep count but still it was planned during my moving weekend. It is great to have meet ups outside of the convention and good to party but best to save it during a time after the convention or during like how AFO does it with any volunteers. During the last three weeks before the convention it should be taken as a way to plan and make sure things are finished as and secured for the con, plus I think that would’ve been a better Saturday to do the Google Hangouts for Press too since I did get my internet in and would have spent the time before my dad shown up to take me for my grocery trip talking to the Hol Mat Press Crew and when the con is over then you can go to Volcano Bay or have dinner somewhere. I did notice that not every convention goer could go to this thing, like I said I was moving that weekend, so best to just save any big party things for after or at least during the convention to do a pat on the back thing for a job well done. The convention weekend is the real test of how the event goes rather than thinking it will be great in advance. That’s my opinion on that.
Need Better Security! Even With the Rooms! Apparently this year there was a lot of stuff being stolen, even a projector was stolen from someone’s room. I am glad no one went to our room or Vivi’s and Tobi’s room. I would be pissed if someone stolen my Braille Sense Polaris because that thing isn’t cheap! There should be better security at this thing since we have seen so many things happen at cons and now this taking place I feel a little unsafe with Hol Mat knowing that people broke into hotel rooms to take things. It’s sad that people are willing to hurt others to get their stuff, one thing is it’s not right, just save up for that product you want and then buy it. Someone else’s stuff is not yours people and plus you are risking your freedom for jail and being banned from the con itself. So, please better security.

Well guys that is it for this year’s review. I know a lot of people had fun during this weekend but I felt like even though we were Press doing what we do but I felt like this year was not the year that we had more work as Press. I did mention above on asking what had happened. I know conventions are supposed to be fun but I did say in my Ranger Stop review that I enjoy doing press and looking at this one I felt like my experience at Hol Mat was not as great as it had been last year and with 2016. I understand there being a higher demand in one department but Press could have been better handled. We did try to salvage what we could, we did enjoy our roommate which she was fun and she did have to volunteer during the weekend. Are we coming back? It looks like not so much at this point. I did answer someone asking who is going to what in 2019 and we just got word about our Press Passes for Omni Fandom Expo which is a great Christmas gift and hoping to get a room next year for that since I do live here in Daytona now. And of course Ranger Stop since that was a major blast this past year even getting to interview some of the guests this year. Vivi did mention MetroCon which I want to go back to due to how that one was our first Press job of all time and it’s been years since we’ve gone back to them. AFO…it will take us forever to meet their press requirements of how many followers which I wish we could have a bypass on that when we have done a lot of work already and do have still have a small following and Reuben Langdon is on our list for interviews we want to do. Let’s see what 2019 brings with our Press work!

Note: I know it seemed biased with this review but people experience different things and this is how I felt about this year’s event. I want to thank Jerad from Guest Relations who worked hard in getting us the interviews that we were able to do and Trina Wilson for helping us get our press passes when we didn’t get much of a response when it comes to how many applications they have received this year. If anyone from Hol Mat’s staff reads this, sorry for being harsh but I was pretty honest and observed what I have been even before the convention itself, it is a big “IF” in coming back. Thank you for understanding.

Technology: Review on the Braille Sense Polaris by H. I. M. S. International

Hello to all of my beautiful nerds and welcome back from traveling the vast universe! It’s time for a technology review!

Braille Sense Polaris by H. I. M. S. International!

Disclaimer: This review is based on observations and experience of the lead writer of this blog. Please respect her thoughts and opinions!

It’s a long time coming but finally get to review this device and that’s the Braille Sense Polaris. As you know, I have been using Braille tech for a long time and this is the latest note taker that has been released a year ago.

Built with Android tech, the Braille Sense Polaris not only acts like a Braille note taker but also acts like an Android tablet using apps that can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and use a touch bar under the the routing buttons right above the Braille display. There are many functions it can do such as reading books, using the Word Processor to take notes and even read Excel Spreadsheets, on top of that also has a built in camera to use many apps that rely on it.

My thoughts on this device has a lot of pros but does have its cons with it too, let’s see what I think!

Thoughts: I have had much experience with the H. I. M. S. International Braille Sense line with starting with the Braille Sense plus QWERTY model which is basically what if you took a keyboard from a computer and attached to a Braille display and took notes that way. Reason why I went with this one is because being in college you have to pay attention to the lectures and and figuring out the contractions while the professor speaks then you will miss something important and having this one did help me out, even though I am a fast typist and there were times when it couldn’t keep up. Plus, it did help with reading some books that were hard to read for class assignments. This did go on with using during my earlier press jobs at MetroCon 2013 and 2014, Omni Expo 2014, and of course MythiCon 2014 until one of my keys ended up breaking off and that got me to the U2, which introduced me to the Perkins Brailler keyboard. I thought it would be simple but it wasn’t because unlike the QWERTY counterpart you have chords to use which is a Braille character with the spacebar combined. I did have to remember a lot of them as time went on but got a hang of it until the battery decided to give me issues and knew I had to step up and that’s where the Polaris came in.

There is another device I was introduced to and knew about and that was the Braille Note Touch which what if you took an Android tablet and placed a Perkins keyboard on top and you can also use the touch screen to Braille with it as well. You can even use Bluetooth devices with it too but one thing I didn’t like about it was that it was heavy. You not only have the tablet portion but you also have the keyboard on top to add to the weight which as you know I do press at conventions and having something lightweight helps so that is why the Polaris was better for me. As in, going from panel to panel, being able to access it easily to interview people and so on made me choose this device more. Plus, I am more familiar with the Braille Sense line than the Braille Note line which makes it even easier for me to use the Polaris more.

What Do I Like the Most: What I like the most about the Polaris is that it added more features to it since we are not only playing with a single product but with a second platform at added to it which is Android and it gave Braille a better advantage since nowadays people are using Android and Apple devices for their daily tasks. Besides note taking, I do love using my Polaris to pair with my phone in order to navigate through Facebook, Instagram, and even sometimes email with it since dictation likes to be tricky even in text messages but of course I have been using it with the video function on my phone because well if you have seen my earlier beauty videos, Siri talked a lot in them. Imagine with all the comments I got, I did get some tips from someone from a tech company who did demonstrate the two devices for me. It did help and using the Polaris with the phone while recording does tell me the video is still recording without having to get up and go to the camera to see if it is still recording. Nice little feature.

Another thing I did like is how the Help Topics were expanded because you have so many new features to use within the Polaris itself and remembering everything can be a hassle so having different Help Topics to go back on does help out, heck even there was a section for me to look at on the Touch Bar itself since I didn’t get much information about that which I will talk about that later and will talk about the Touch Bar now!

The newest feature that was added was the Touch Bar which is a strip placed in between the routing buttons and the Braille Display itself. You can turn on the Touch Bar by using the Global Settings Options and use this feature as if you’re navigating a tablet screen. As in, you can swipe with your fingers across this strip to go between the programs, double tap to go into apps, and so on. It’s a fun little feature and yes if you have long nails it can be tricky so I would say clip your nails back if you can.

Another feature is of course being able to download apps from the Google Play Store and being able to use them in this environment. Great thing about this feature besides downloading is that if you have an Android phone or tablet yourself you can download the apps you had on those devices and place them onto the Polaris itself which is great because you can use Google Docs and Sheets between the two and able to save and open these kinds of documents between the Braille Sense side and the Android side. Not only that, other apps can be downloaded too if you haven’t used them on other Android devices such as a printing app. My mom has a wireless printer and during the summer I didn’t have any ink in my printer so I decided to try out her printer with my Polaris and downloaded the printing apps I needed and it worked out beautifully! And remembered when I mentioned the camera? There are apps you can use with this feature and one app I did test out while using it is of course Be My Eyes! While I was at the NFB Convention this summer, I did ask if it could work on a Braille device with a camera and they weren’t sure about it and afterwards I put it to the test and downloaded it to my Polaris. It did work! Even though you can’t see the object through the camera but it does act like a video camera for the volunteer? I also heard that KNFB Reader can also be used this way so I am waiting for my chance to download it during a sale, if I can, to see how well it works out for me. I would love to read my documents during work with this app and it is a dream of mine to be able to have it.

Cons: Besides the Pros, there are cons to this device. First is and hearing it was fixed with the last update and that is how in Word Processor where writing gets jumbled. As in if I was writing something, it gets moved automatically like if you were using a laptop, trust me I didn’t like that due to the Mouse Track Pad. I wasn’t the only one who experienced this either since other people at the NFB Convention also went through what I went through. Now I have to see about it being fixed during Ranger Stop when I take notes.

Another con is using Google Docs and Google Sheets, I am not sure if this is the same issue with Slides but I have noticed while trying to type in Docs I sometimes get taken out of the document area and it’s hard to get back in. Now, I am not sure if it will work better since I have been trying the Touch Bar and if it would still have me in writing a document but this annoyed me while trying to write my latest fan fiction and had to restart the chapters over and over. I will see how it goes with using the Touch Bar feature and get back to you on that. And with Sheets it feels like when you add columns it’s hard to go back to previous columns since it can only fit a few on this kind of display. I did mention Touch Bar and I will see how that goes and may write a post about my experiences with the Touch Bar since apparently I am the only one so far trying it out. Anyways, I do like how I can just construct the spreadsheets on this device but trying to navigate the columns and rows not so much, wishing they can expand on this which I will mention in the Improvements area.

And finally, not all of the apps are optimized for this kind of environment. What do I mean by this? Well, while downloading some of the apps through Play Store, I did notice there was a message mentioning that this app is not optimized to the Polaris itself as in its optimized for tablets and phones only. I understand you’re using a Braille device but being able to have the Android system built in to add more functionality to the device itself the app should be able to operate normally and optimized to be used in this environment. Not sure how well the apps are able to work on the Braille Note Touch, I have a feeling since that that has a screen it is optimized better in their environment. Not only that, some apps can’t be used on this type of device which includes Kindle which makes me sad, I did suggest that they should add Kindle in order to have more reading options.

How Can This Product Can Be Improved? There are many ways such as making the apps be optimized to fit this device more since it is a new tech being used and of course it is new to this market. I would have to say the most would being able to use the G-Suite Programs without any issues as in being able to type in Docs without being kicked out of the document area. If we’re using Google Suite programs we should be able to use them to their fullest potential especially in the classroom. Yes, we can copy and paste what we wrote in Word Processor but being able to just type it right there it would be easier than just going from one area to the next. Goes the same with Sheets too, having that ability to just create spreadsheets and going back and forth between columns if they get added can be a better extension of using a Braille device with Google.

Another improvement is that that there are recordings of videos about how to use the Polaris and not only that recordings done with the audio recorder on the Polaris too. Sorry to say H. I. M. S., with my super bat hearing I can’t hear it! As in, the audio is so low it is hard for me to hear even raising the device volume to its fullest. It goes the same way when you watch the videos on YouTube on a PC and probably goes the same way on other devices that use YouTube. Hello, a microphone can help out and don’t just use the audio recorder on these devices, no offense I have used it before and it doesn’t record anything loud enough unless you put it closer. Best to just use a microphone and probably talk a bit louder if there is no mike. I even talk loud in all of my videos in a loud room, why not do the same?

Another thing is talk about the Touch Bar more. What I mean is that yes it can be a tricky thing to do and use which I admit I always find myself in the Global Settings if I’m not careful enough but being able to talk about this feature and train people on it, even doing it as an instructional video, can give more functionality to this device. This takes me back to the G-Suite thing, if you guys built it into a device then why not show how to use it? I did say I was able to find out how to use it on my own and as a new A. T. Instructor knowing about this feature does help. Plus, it is a neat feature to use after my small experience with it and its fun to play around with and being able to train someone after learning it first can help give new customers to the company and also show what else the device does besides using the Braille keys. It’s like using the Terminal Mode with the phone, I sometimes need to swipe in order to get around on my IPhone while navigating on my Polaris and cool thing is with the Touch Bar you can swipe to those apps too. So, talking about this feature more can expand what the capabilities are. If Human Ware has the touch options on their devices so does this one and as said before should be talked about more.

And one more thing, knowing with updating the Firm Ware on this device, there should be flash messages saying, “Hey! New Update!” Instead of just guessing. For instance, there was a new update and it was supposed to be released at the end of August but didn’t show up until mid-October. I did check the Update Firm Ware to see if there was one and having a message saying it can help because there are Notifications on this thing like a regular Android Tablet Apple Devices why not do notifications based on that since a lot of these note takers do use Wi-Fi.

Rating: 4 Star Paw Prints Out of 5! Not all devices are perfect and this one is one of them. I know I had some cons and some improvements that should be made. I wills see how the Touch Bar interacts with the Google Suite Apps because I feel like they would benefit more with it than just the keyboard use. Not only that I am hoping Kindle can be used on this thing since I have a ton of books needing to be read and if I’m at a convention and having a break and want a good book to read then that is what I can fall upon besides using the DAISY Player and Bard Mobile. In the end, H. I. M. S. has done a pretty good job but does need to make improvements along the way and hoping they keep making devices like these due to how much tech has been growing and it was a great step up for them due to how much Apple and Android has been big parts in the mobile devices market. Plus, good thing is this can help with getting into Android a little since not everyone uses this type of tech platform and I did say in the Life After Sight Loss live stream recently that you can see what’s best for you by being able to test both platforms and good thing with this kind of device you can use the Bluetooth settings with Apple devices so they can go hand in hand with each other. I think I did make a good choice with this device since I am familiar with the products and now Accessibility and Braille is starting to get more into the high tech field by catching up with Android so it’s living strong. I bet you’re wondering, would I have gone with the Braille Note Touch instead? Even though the features were nice on that thing, if it was lighter than I would but as someone who goes convention to convention, I’d rather go for a lightweight device and not slow myself down. If I were to save up for the Touch itself then I would probably consider it to see how it works and expand my tech knowledge more. Who knows what will happen but I am going to stick with the Polaris and see how much it will improve over time.

That is it for this review! I am glad that I was able to talk about this device since so many people have seen me use it before and always ask me questions. Ranger Stop will be its first convention that I will be using my Polaris at and will be having some fun with it. Let’s see how it goes! In the meantime, follow us on Twitter @ Nerdy Shique for the latest updates and until then stay beautiful while traveling the universe!

Accessibility: How Nerd Conventions Can Be Accessible!

Hello to all of my beautiful nerds and welcome back! I am back with another post and this time it does deal with blindness and accessibility and my convention world.

How Nerd Conventions Can Can Be Accessible to the Blind

As you guys know and might have read The Blind Perspective: Convention Stories from the Dark, I’ve been an anime or more like a nerd convention goer since 2004 if you count a day at JACON but didn’t really start going until the year after while being with THEE X at the time. I have had many stories from my being an attendee with some sight and when I lost my sight it became a new outlook and perspective in going to these events. As years have gone, I have noticed things about the nerd conventions and that is some accessibility issues. I have posted an idea over on the Holiday Matsuri Facebook Group and decided why not expand it to here since I do write blindness related topics and Accessibility has been a huge topic being thrown around and I felt like why not show what I think should make a convention more accessible to the blind.

Town Criers Yelling Out Different Areas: This year I went to the National Federation of the Blind National Convention and while attending I heard people calling out where different areas are like where Registration was, where the General Sessions were and so on and it did help out because it told us as blind people where to go. I posted this exact idea on the Holiday Matsuri Group which got a lot of good responses because some conventions are held at very big locations like MegaCon at the Orange County Convention Center and Holiday Matsuri at the World Center Marriot. Another example, DragonCon in Atlanta spans over five hotels and knowing those are also huge in their convention center area. Reason for posting this besides getting the idea from the NFB Convention was that last year I had a hard time finding the Main Events room and I asked people and they pointed and said, “Over there!” As a blind person you don’t know what “Over there” is and I will touch on that even more next. Having people call out the areas like “Panels Over here to your right” or “Main events down this way!” It will help out because it not only shows its location but helps with going in the right direction. If it happened last year and heard, “Main Events down this way!” I would know just to head straight and then ask the person calling it to make sure and they said, “Just head straight.” Because there were times where I heard people ask the people for a double check and they answered the question.
Volunteers Being Sighted Guides: Touching more on the “It’s Over There!” Someone did post that they had a similar situation with a staff member where the person was pointing and tried to tell the staff member that they can’t see pointed fingers and didn’t do more about it. This is where the idea of having a sighted guide volunteer comes in. Conventions have asked for a lot of volunteers over the years and they do get tons over time, heck I have volunteered myself at JACON when it was alive and MegaCon twice before doing press. Having extra volunteers on hand can help anyone who may need the sighted guide help in getting to a particular area of the hotel or the convention itself? For instance, Omni Fandom Expo Year 1 I had a volunteer help me to get around since Omni was also at the World Center and it was hard to navigate when my mobility skills were rusty at the time. She helped me out getting to some of the signing tables and even to the bathroom which was great. Yeah it took around twenty minutes as a guesstimate but it did help out in a way. Having the volunteers able to do this can help someone who may be lost or can’t find the room if they couldn’t hear the person yelling or someone on a speaker system, trust me it was hard to hear the speakers in the MegaCon Vendor Room back in the past. What about getting to know about sighted guide if you’re a staff member reading this? Proper sighted guide is where the person offers the elbow or arm and the blind person grabs on not the other way around. A newer technique is also grabbing above the elbow like a cup to make it more comfortable. And another thing is, during volunteer meetings try asking the volunteer meetings if they can be able to guide anyone to certain areas such as bathrooms, panel rooms, even the doors for any ride pickups that a person need help with. In the end, volunteers are there to help and should help even further.
Having Convention Guides As Accessible Material: One thing that makes a convention exciting is the convention guide that tells you about guests, events, and the hours of the vendor room and gaming room but issue is not being able to read it and seeing the pretty pictures. Having an accessible digital version of the convention guide can help! I remembered having the full on Convention Guide for the NFB Convention on my Braille Sense Polaris as one huge Word Document. Did it help? Yes! It did tell me what events are at what time and where to go and the times for the Independence Market too each day. Whether it’s in PDF format or a Word Document, having the convention guide in one of these formats minus the photos can be something very easily accessed even placed onto a device that is portable like a phone with Google Docs for example or like I said above, my Braille Sense Polaris so I can read it in Braille. Which brings me to another point.
Placing Braille Index Cards with Room Names on Cardboard Signs: Yes, another point I found is that on easels placed around most conventions there are signs showing what room it is and/or just the panels being in that room. Since I mentioned the accessible document for Convention Guides, having an index card with the panel room number and the actual room’s name can be easier than just guessing or getting the rooms mixed up. There may be a volunteer at the door or not but after double checking the schedule for a specific event or seeing if you’re at the vendor room by finding the card on the easel can tell that you’re in the right place. Plus index cards aren’t that expensive but getting them made best to look into a Braille printing service or know someone who’s blind that can do it.
Having Music Zones: Someone posted this as a comment on my idea why not music in certain areas play. It would be a nice idea but it can get a little louder and a little bit mixed up because I admit I have that happen sometimes but if the music is more subtle and I walk towards the door and hear “Jingle Bells’ on a small speaker for Registration or a video game song like “Casino Night Zone” for the gaming room for example then I know where I am. Having that subtle speaker next to the door can help with what room you’re about to walk in. Even MegaCon had some subtle background music during the more main panels like the Mass Effect panel and the Flash panel if I remember. Yeah, I noticed with my hearing, it shows that music shouldn’t be so loud to scream over nor too low to hear it has to be just right.

Well, that’s about it for this post. Hoping for anyone that is on staff for a convention reads this and can pass it along because as a nerd I and how big accessibility is becoming it gives more inclusivity. For instance, movie theaters having the audio description option for movies and how Audible is having more audiobooks in their library for people. Heck, back to the accessible document, I helped with making Nemecene being more accessible if you haven’t read the review for the first book. All in all, more places are getting more accessible and now nerd conventions should join in since there are more blind people getting into a lot of these things.

So, what is next for Nerdy Shique Universe? I’m still reading the Alex Verus novels, still on Veiled and hoping to keep on reading. I know the Ipsy October bag will be here and once it arrives I will post about it. So, make sure you follow us on Twitter and stay beautiful while traveling the universe!

Shopping: Having Product Knowledge Is A Helpful Thing!

Hello to my beuaitful nerds traveling the vast universe! I know I was going to do this post on N Reach but I think this should be brought up and that is knowing about your products especially with beauty.

Product Knowledge & Why It’s Important!

Today, I did my second video on the Urban Decay Pallet Series and told a story about a recent experience in WalMart which I will tell here.

As you know everyone has been releasing Zodiac Collections and Wet N Wild has been one of them and they did it more on the lements that go with the twelve signs and I noticed that one of the items in this collection was the highlight bars coming back. In my opinion those should also be permanent. Anyways, I wanted one in my sign’s element, Fire, which I am a Leo. When I heard WalMart was going to sell them in stores rather than Walgreens and decided to see af I can find it in my WalMart store. After gathering my face wash and a few other toiletrie type items, I decided to see about the Zociac Collection. After trying to find it with the regular items, I knew they usually separate it and decided to ask someone and a guy was walking around doing inventory and re-stocking and asked and tried to point me to the Wet N Wild section which I was there to get more of my setting spray and tried explaining that it’s a Limited Edition product and there is a separate section for it. He didn’t know what I was talking about at first and decided to see where it would be and then wra into a woman and asked her and she was confused at first and then looked it up and it gave her, “Limited Stock” and then took me back to their Wet N Wild section and explained the same thing and they said, “It would be here if we had it.” It had me giving up and we circled around after they left and then pointed it out and said, “It’s over here on an end cap!” I thanked them for it which always frustrates me that at other stores know what I’m looking for and point me to it, even ulta employees up front. Heck, still remembering two other instances that I did mention in my video that I was looking for the Garnier Hair Masks and guy didn’t know what a hair mask was and another time a customer had to help me find the CoverGirl Super Sizer Mascara.I bet you’re wondering, where am I going with this?

Product Knowledge Is Important!

Having the product knowledge is a helpful tool while working, especially when it comes to retail. I remembered with my own experience applying for a lot of Marketing and Customer Service jobs it does ask you to have product knowledge and even look at the website before you come in since some questions may be related to that. Heck, I was even asked if I knew about AT&T at some interviews when I have them as my phone carrier. One major thing about having product knowledge is that not only it makes you look good to the person who hired you but also to the audience that comes in to look at a product which a person who knows can be trusted in giving them the best info like experiences with the product themselves or even how it would benefit the person like a new phone or even a new concealer. This does build the trust between customer and employee which to tell you the truth I trust the Target employees a lot because they have helped me a lot due to knowing what they have gotten even Limited Edition. One good story as an example is that years ago EOS released a limited edition Alice in Wonderland lip balm trio and I was a fan of the original Disney film and wanted to look for it and found out it’s available at Super Target and went and asked one girl which turned into five girls searching and then a sixth appeared and had it! Which that does take dedication and there are times I’d rather go to Target, which can also bring up my next point.

Hiring More People for a Department That Has Knowledge and Pass It On!

I have noticed where in WalMart, sorry if I’m bullying them, or other stores sometimes, they have one person working with them and knows the item and the person goes, “Oh! I didn’t know that!” For instance, one time I was looking for a keyboard case for my Galaxy Tablet and the guy gave me the, “Sorry, we only carry Apple ones.” Which does help me with that information because it had me searching elsewhere. And another part is that there is only one person there and they don’t always have the info about items. So, to me, hiring extra people who may have more knowledge about things can help I mean I still find it interesting that I know the products a little more than the people due to watching YouTube, don’t worry that’s next, having that extra person that may know the department can help out or even cross training employees can give them more knowledge if they need to go to different departments like in Target they are cross trained between beauty, cleaning supplies, and grocery to name a few. It makes the job a little easier and faster. Even Lowe’s probably does it because they sometimes have to have extra help on hand in different departments even in heavy lifting. Again having that knowledge with that extra person can even teach the other employees what customers might look for and what products are being carried because passing on that information can help other employees that are there without that person who might go off and work in another department that day or left the location for another one can say, “Oh! I know this item! Let’s see if it’s in stock or come with me!” It can help a lot.

Having Your Employees Doing Research on New Product, Especially Limited Edition Items!

Oh boy! After that day, trust me hoping I would go to Walgreens for Limited Edition but this point kind of drives home and that is having your employees both old and new, watch YouTube, look at magazines on break or even subscribe to Allure or beauty and fashion blogs, can give information about the different inventory coming in even Limited Edition products. When I asked that woman that day, even though I can’t see facial expressions, I knew she had an empty expression and she was quiet for a bit. A sign of not having a clue. Watching the videos about new beauty products, hair items, even vitamins can help knowing what is coming out and what a customer may need or if it’s a Holiday Item then brushing up on your homework on what that item is can give you a big leverage in working on full time if you’re seasonal.

Learn From the Customers! Learning from your customers can also be a good thing whether it’s physical or by looking at feedback on the website. I should’ve said something on WalMart’s page but if you’re reading this you would know my story. I remembered how some of the employees not just at WalMart but also Ulta, Sephora, Walgreens, and other places are surprised when I ask about a new product and they ask me, “How do you know?” Well, this was around 2009 through 2012 when YouTube was not as big but nowadays it is because everyone would be asking for what they see on YouTube and for any new employees they would learn about the product. Remember Mr. Hair Mask? I told him the basics of a hair mask and what they do to the hair and how conditioning it is, etc. because I had experiences with them and that caused him to go, “I should look into this.” Plus, it does give them the idea that the product exists and where it is it can easily guide not onlyt he costumer but also the employee to it.

Well, that’s it for my post about Product Knowledge. I know it’s long but it would have helped that day. Now, best to put it in practice because without practice it won’t be as perfect since a lot of customers do come through any store’s doors everyday even from different parts of the globe and having that knowledge does help gain trust in the customer able to learn from each other such as what is the best shampoo for oily hair. After realizing it, your customers are pretty much your teaching tool and able to learn from them or just learning about the trends on your own can help even for a holiday shopping season since that’s going to start in…three months! Better get working!

So, next post will be on N Reach and in order to see when that’s up, follow us on Twitter @ Nerdy Shique!

Assistive Tech: Meet the Be My Eyes App!

Hello to all of my beautiful nerds traveling the vast universe! I am back with another Assistive Technology post!

Be My Eyes!

Since I’ve been talking about Microsoft’s Soundscape for a while now it was time to bring something new to the Assistive Tech category on here and that’s a handy little app known as Be My Eyes. I’ve known about this app for a few years now and it has changed the accessibility game even for myself since I have to rely on my sighted peers or parents for help but this is a great app to help you when you don’t have anyone around.

The Idea Behind It: Before we get into what it does I feel like talking about the idea behind it. This app’s story started in Denmark in 2012 with Hans Jorgen Wiberg who is a furniture craftsmen that was also visually impaired and all thanks to his work through the Danish Association For the Blind he recognized that the blind people in his community need a little help and with a blind friend having video calls with family members to give him assistance, Hans came up with an idea to use video chat features on someone’s phone or tablet to get this kind of assistance and that deals with volunteers instead.

What It Does? What this app does basically opens up on the main area of the app, when you first register which you need to is that it does ask if you’re a volunteer or the blind person using this app and I’m blind so I have been using it, and it gives you the button when you’re the person using this app as a blind person a button to call anyone and it sends a call to ten people and whoever gets it then they can see through your camera and you ask what you need help with, for example I needed help with money once and Seeing A. I. didn’t have the Currency channel at the time and my little gadget from the Talking Book Library died right about that time and the person was able to help me out. Another example, I don’t like interrupting conversations unless I need to and during a luncheon with the NFB of Central Florida I got a raffle ticket and someone who still had some sight was busy so I opened up Be My Eyes and used it to read out the last three digits out to me. As I said, it can do anything! I remember a British lady did do an interview where she demonstrated how to find a green spool of thread.

I bet you’re wondering, does the sighted volunteer get any information or looks at anything else that might be private, I did go to the panel on this during the NFB National Convention and all they see is what you is in front of them to help guide. One thing is they need more sighted volunteers at the moment and I suggest downloading the app and sign up for it because it would give you some nice work experience. Trust me, volunteering does help and doing it for the blind is even more helpful!

I’m going to try and see about interviewing the Hans since of course Denmark is six hours ahead of us and it would be cool to do a Skype interview with an app developer that has been helping for three years now. Oh almost forgot!

What Platforms Is It Available On? You can get Be My Eyes on the IOS App Store which I did for my IPhone and my IPad one time and of course on the Google Play Store for Android. The great news for anyone who has the Braille Note Touch or the Braille Sense Polaris, you can get it on the Play Store too through those devices because I asked during the National Convention if it could work with Braille devices since now they are building the note takers with cameras and Android tech, don’t worry will get to that review, and they didn’t know. A few days of resting, I decided to test it on my Polaris and it does work! I know it seems odd to hear a Braille device having a camera but they do see what’s in front of them through Be My Eyes and I used it with a pack of Oreos my dad bought for my nephews while they visited and they saw it clearly through the app. So if you have a Note Touch from Human Ware or a Polaris from HIMS it’s available and you just wear the device so in case if you’re somewhere with it and need help with a hand out from a teacher or what’s on the board you have Be My Eyes. And good news is that it’s free by the way. And by the way…

New Features: There is a new feature for Be My Eyes and that is the Specialized Help tab in the app. This is where you can connect with the Be My Eyes Technical Support and also Microsoft! They are trying to grow this where you can suggest other companies and maybe they should have Apple and Google Support for the Specialized Help, or even Freedom Scientific, you never know!

Well, that’s it for this post! Next app I will be talking about is a new one for locating places and that is N Reach! So stay tuned for that! And also in other news, we will be interviewing the band Traverser through Skype! Yay! We wanted to interview them for a while and they’ve been out somewhere in the universe and back for a new performance in August and will be interviewing the guys as they are about to rehearse for the big show! I will try to get an interview with Hans from Be My Eyes since this has been a big help so far in my life, heck even Nerdy Shirts was surprised that an app like it exists. So make sure to follow us on Twitter whenever we tweet about any interviews going up on YouTube and a lot more over @ Nerdy Shique! Until next time, stay beautiful in the universe!

Note: To find out more about Be My Eyes, link included in this post even for anyone who wants to volunteer!Be My Eyes Official Website

Conventions: National Federation of the Blind National Convention 2018 Review!

Hello to all of my beautiful nerds traveling the vast universe, I am back from a nice rest because I was at the NFB National Convention last week and man it was a huge experience and a new environment since I never thought I would be at a convention minus the costumes that I am usually familiar with but I was in my element since I’m visually impaired myself. Let’s see what I have to say about this event. But first as always…

Disclaimer: This review is based on thoughts and opinions of the lead writer of this blog! Please Respect the thoughts and opinions since this based on the experience they went through.

Location: First is the location and that is at the Rosen Shingle Creek and man this place was bigger than the Rosen Center itself despite that one was also connected to the Convention Center downtown on International Drive. If you remembered when Gondras and I covered Omni Fandom Expo 2015 it was at the Rosen Center and you had the events on the bottom floor and top floor while Rosen Shingle Creek felt like it was like the World Center in my observation because a ton of ballrooms to work with, plus you have more panel rooms upstairs to use right above the lower lobby and then more escalators leading to more board rooms and a printing store, oh yes you can print stuff if you need it which I had to with my resume for the Job Fair, which I will get to a bit later. Plus you do have the food court which is a little pricey, I did have my snacks but I needed a caffeine recharge since their coffee shop was reasonably priced, even more reasonable than Starbucks. I would say the white chocolate lattes are great. Anyways, this place should be an anime convention place too because conventions do out grow their location, heck Holiday Matsuri is a good example of that, since there are tons of rooms to play with and even the main ballroom in the Sebastian areas were huge for General Sessions and held all of the State Affiliates of the NFB. Even the Independence Market and Exhibitors Hall was very well sized for what they were displaying and selling, which I will got to…

Exhibitors and Independence Market: Now! This room was pretty much where my money went because I found stuff I needed and found very well. I know it’s weird calling it Independence Market but it’s due to vendors selling items to help us in the blind community to be more independent such as books, tech, and even Braille slates! I found a vendor who sold my favorite full page slate which I still have from EBay. The main thing I wanted was a new watch because my old taking one had the talking part die permanently. Let me describe it, it not only has the digital numbers but it does have its talking setting where you can set the time, the alarms, and now you change the voice on the talking models now from when I looked at them. I decided to change to Braille because the thing is as a convention and concert goer, especially with one concert coming up in August, it’s hard to hear these things over the noise and not only that they can go off if you set the hour alert and can be a bit disruptive. So, I went with Braille and it was kind of hard to set the time on this but I like how to touch the watch face and where the hour and minute hands point to at the dots. Which on the clock face you have the 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 11 are single dots while the 3, 6, 9, and 12 have more of a wedge to touch while feeling the time. Plus it makes it better than just using my phone which I have done for the past year and a half to two years. Plus, this watch I paid for was not that bad because you have some going into the hundred dollar to two hundred range which I went with the $55 and a tip for women who love to grow their nails, go with the men’s model because the watch face is bigger and it’s easier to feel when you have long nails. I had long nails when I bought mine even though they broke during the entire week I was there and had to clip mine but getting the men’s version would be easier to feel since the women’s watch faces are smaller and the dots are too. Just letting you know. Besides buying different items for the independence part, I had to replace my battery for my Victor Reader Stream, for a while now I ran into the issue where I touched the battery and it shuts off and had to order a new one. I was glad that Human Ware was there to take care of that which they were promoting their Stream, the Stream Trek, and the Braille Note Touch. If you don’t know what the Braille Note Touch is, it’s basically where you take a Braille display and fuse with an Android tablet where you have the display and the keyboard on top of an Android tablet and you can also Braille on the tablet too. I almost went with this Polaris had my heart and yes HIMS was also there which I will talk about that with events next.

I did go to the State Affiliates area where in this area all the different NFB State Chapters were selling things to fund raise and you also get to talk to them one on one and get to meet who else is out there. I did buy some things and got to chat with Massachusetts since I was born in Boston and they were happy, I got to chat with Arizona since I will be starting at Northern Arizona in the fall and they are some of the nicest people, also even got a popcorn ball from Nebraska since they claim to have the best popcorn in the United States and they weren’t joking! I got a popcorn ball and they said it is soft and tastes like marshmallow and it does! If I go to Nebraska I must visit their popcorn shops and get more of these because normally around Halloween time when Brach’s does their popcorn balls they are hard cement! Not kidding. These from Nebraska, I highly recommend if you ever visit Nebraska or go to their State Conventions or even the NFB National. I also did get to meet Hawaii briefly because my brother was stationed there and they are also sweet too! I did have a bit of situation with charging banks from Alabama though. As you know, I had a Pikachu one from Think Geek which GameStop sold during Hurricane Irma time and somehow it did not like my Apple devices and wanted to get a better one since you know me and traveling especially with our convention travels and when I heard that chargers will be sold I went and asked about that on Day Three and found them at Alabama, the one that I was sold was not working right and even with the cords so I did exchange it and did lose the cords because they fell out of my bag somehow but the good news is the one that got exchanged works properly even with a new cord I got on EBay and got in the mail today. I can even recharge my Polaris with this thing with its own USB cord. But back to the story, even though I was sad, I decided to find New York since they also had one and they had two left and I was lucky to get theirs as well and that thing charged my Victor Reader Stream! So yes, I now have two charge banks and working because of Alabama and New York, which I must thank now and if I was out somewhere and one doesn’t work without any juice I do have a backup and also my friends can use since there are times where outlets aren’t always in close range even at a restaurant.

Another thing I did pick up which I was really excited about was from the National Braille Press! This is an organization that prints Braille books and sells them and not bad for pricing either and the books are for all ages because I felt a Dr. Seuss book while I was at their table. I got a book that I heard about through the Blind Side Podcast through an interview with the author Judy Dixon and it is called Writing Your Way: Composing and editing on an IPhone and IPad. This interview was very informative because it talks about the many ways you can edit on writing apps on your IPhone and IPad, I wonder about Android tablets since I do use my Polaris and Galaxy Tab E. I have to take a read myself and I was happy that they carried this at the convention and did buy it so I can have it and can use it as a teaching tool while working. I highly suggest National Braille Press in case if you need that specific Braille book for your loved ones or even as gifts for them because we don’t want to leave anyone in the dark without a good book! I may have to talk to them and see about getting my books in Braille, what about that?

Besides some of these companies, there were also Google showing off their tech which I want to get myself a Chrome Book since I got to test out Chrome Vox on them and of course wishing they had Google Play cards which I will talk about down in the Needs in Improvements area for one thing. Also, a new app has been developed for locations which is like Soundscape but more in detail called N Reach and I have become an affiliate with them by the way, which I need to get my cards out to businesses. (Tried to on Monday at the mall but couldn’t get the chance!) And one awesome exhibitor is 3D Photo Works who does tactile photos, Braille plaques, and audio descriptions for exhibits and they are trying to get into more museums, which reminds me I need to still talk to the Science Center because this would help any blind visitors be able to feel the photos that are displayed, read the plaques, and not only that hear any information because at their booth they talked about how they helped with the Vietnam Exhibit in Washington and had three pictures as examples. If you want these guys to do something a museum near you, I would suggest talking to the museum and have them get in contact with this company because a blind person like me can’t see the exhibits, the last exhibit I was able to see was the Tiffany Glass Exhibit here in town and I can imagine what if their exhibit had these plaques and this kind of tactile work on top of it. There is a lot to think about with this company.

Events: Woot! A lot to talk about here and I feel my fingers hurting slightly! I am still pumped! There were a lot of events to go to and so little time because a lot of them took place at the same time and a good tip is choose wisely while reading the agenda in its final form. Which the good thing was you can download and store it for your pleasure. I downloaded, nice tip for everyone with a Braille device, the Word document and transferred it over onto my Braille Sense Polaris so I can feel it if I need to. I should do that with all of the convention guidebooks or if I get KNFB Reader I can take pictures of it too.

Day 1 was more seminar day where you can meet some of the companies that will be there in the Exhibitors Hall and of course in the morning there was also parent meetings for any blind parent or parents with blind children to discuss tips and advice and many other things even talking about the day care services that were going to be on site. I went to the HIMS Seminar since I do have my Polaris and of course discussed some issues with the typing in Word Processor where I and other people experienced where the cursor moved time to time. This was annoying while taking notes on the JAWS Certification materials. Also some issues with navigating the Google Suite editing areas. Hoping that can be fixed even with the next updates.

The next few days were filled with General Sessions where the president, Mark Rickabono, talked about many things that the NFB has been working on to improve our lives as blind people, heck even his speech almost put me in tears because I faced so much back in school, I still remember how I was taken out of my Exceptional Education Minor to be in my Writing Minor because I was told how I can’t make it through Grad School because it would be too hard for me, heck I am going now! I didn’t stay for resolutions on Saturday, well the end of it, because it was going to be a long ways through it and I felt that I was falling asleep, heck I fainted a bit after Friday’s session let out. It’s due to exhaustion since I did commute with paratransit and had to be there in time for the first General Session. And of course, we did find out where next year NFB Convention is was going to be for National and that is in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino! Knowing Nevada is happy about that! Hoping I can save enough to go out there or get a Master’s to try for the NFB National Scholarship again which this convention did inspire me to look into more schooling if I can because what if I want to continue with my education? Let’s see what’s happens!

More things took place, heck I even volunteered at the Braille Book Fair which takes place during the convention where kids and their parents can look through many Braille books and take them and have them sent home to where they live via UPS. I felt really good volunteering at this because I love reading even if it is in Braille and having that experience to help out did help me have the one on one with kids and their parents, I even gave tips to a woman who had a girl who went through a stroke and needed tips on getting her dexterity back. Plus it gave me leverage before I start teaching blind people again and I felt more of my confidence again as I helped. And to tell you the truth, I missed volunteering for things like these since it gives me experience and a bigger heart as I help.

Let’s see what else happened! Oh right! Friday night, Gondras met up with me and besides meeting up with me we had an amazing experience and that was…: drum roll: we got to interview Apl D Ap from the Black Eyed Peas! :: hears fans screaming:: I wanted to interview him since an interesting fact is that he’s visually impaired and was performing this year and this was a great opportunity to get someone who has been in the music business who is also blind in on the YouTube side of this blog since it’s a nice change from our voice actors we get to interview and we get to learn more about him. Just hold on and follow us on Twitter @ Nerdy Shique when we upload the video from this interview along with more information about his own charity, Apple of My Eye, hoping I spelled that right, and so much more! And other people I got to meet were the developers of the Be My Eyes app which as you may have seen my Assistive Tech Panel from Omni 2017 where I demonstrated this app, will I have a future interview with them? I will be in the works of setting that up to do it over Skype since they are from Denmark which made it interesting even with one of them having my eye condition on top of it. I did demonstrate it on my Polaris and it works as much as the Apple version. I did Tweet them about it too. And finally, I got to go to Google’s presentation on their tech because I wanted to see what’s new in their development in Accessibility even with Android. Again, I want a Chrome Book after this presentation because I want to be open minded in the tech and they are also developing an app that is like Seeing A. I. almost and maybe I should write about that one as well if I can test it on my tablet or on my Polaris so stay tuned for that! I didn’t go to Microsoft’s presentation because I had so much to do in between and Google did their presentation at the same time, but Microsoft did a repeat and I only got to their Narrator portion. I did hear how their presentation focused more on the Narrator side rather than Soundscape and Seeing A. I. which I heard that demo for Seeing A. I. was not as great. Okay Microsoft, you do awesome presentations at E3, what’s going on? If I was there and demonstrating Seeing A. I., I would do all of the channels on it because it is critical to show off each one even with currency. And of course, if you guys were at that presentation, I would say go to my posts about Soundscape where I tested it in two malls so far and I did test it out in Shingle Creek which it did detect the area I was in. And finally, my finishing event, I did go to the job fair but briefly since I did have to catch my ride. It was loud! But at least I got to talk to the NFB and the New Jersey Coalition for the Blind about the Access Tech positions on top of it and did find Lighthouse Central Florida since they were also looking for people. It felt great to re-connect with them and give them updates.

Rating: CONVENTION ACCOMPLISHED! This convention deserves a Convention Accomplished because it kind of makes me connect more with my blind peers in one place. Even though I missed the costume parts but this was a different environment and a new aspect of conventions. This brings a huge community together and get to know each other, what is going on with us in one huge organization, not only that make us think that we’re not the only one being blind even in our own state. I got to meet people from Nebraska, Arizona, Hawaii, heck there was Puerto Rico as one of the NFB Affiliates! Wishing I caught one of the members but hey I cheered for them along with Arizona and Massachusetts. Plus, I found out that I am not the only blind cosplayer that exists because one of the National Scholarship Finalists was one too! She makes her own stuff and I got to meet her which was awesome! I want to suggest that the NFB should have a Geeky Division because we are blind geeks/nerds. That is why there is nerd in this blog’s name. Still, this convention was very inspiring and I hope to go to more of them even if they end up in Georgia, Massachusetts, even in Louisiana if Gondras and I get to travel that far.

Needs for Improvements: Well, not all conventions are perfect so there are some needs for improvement.

Microsoft Demo All Aspects Of Accessible Products: What I mean by this is that I heard that not all of the aspects of seeing A. I. was not tested and well that got me thinking why aren’t demonstrating all the aspects of products. I did notice that Narrator was tested in all aspects and knowing they want to show that it’s a free screen reader but to me Microsoft has way more stuff to it and that it can be demonstrated more from what I heard.
Repeat the Demonstrations throughout the Week: What I mean by this is that I noticed that according to the agenda that Microsoft was the only one who got a repeat because not everyone can go to every demonstration in the agenda. I think this would benefit anyone who couldn’t make it to the Google one and can go to the second showing since one day they were at the same time as Microsoft and that would be nice if it was vice versa for anyone who wanted to see Google but didn’t get to. Repeating the brand demonstrations can help with the overload and can give more options to people in what to do after the General Sessions are done. Plus, it gives the person what they missed a new opportunity to catch it later if they have something else to go to or needs to eat.
Time Slots Should Be More Organized: What I mean is that there were times where some things ran over during General Sessions or that when I get to an area that the time changed and etc. I know the final agenda is published way in advanced but they should at least confirm some of the time slots to be accurate and edit the agenda before the convention probably two weeks before because I noticed that some things ran over or an example I was supposed to volunteer at 1 in the afternoon for the Braille Book Fair but I had to go back at 3:45 for the actual event. I think it would be easier to either edit the agenda to fit the time slots or during the presentations, like Google did, set a timer for each speaker because some of them ran over and doing the timer thing can help out a little. If you have to be up on the stage for fifteen minutes then set that timer and not only that, if you know your event starts late then send a group email to the newsletter since some people do check their emails during the day whether it’s on the Polaris, Braille Note Touch, or on their phone they can read it and say, “Oh! It got pushed back! Gotcha!” I understand so many events so little time but starting on time makes more sense.
More Volunteers to Guide: What I mean is that I feel like there were volunteers to tell you where the escalators, stairs, and ballrooms were but there should’ve been more and they should’ve also given more details in where to go like this ballroom to your left or right and probably have some volunteers to able to say, “Hey, need some help! Grab on and I will lead you!” Heck, even for bathrooms because there were some bathrooms where there was single room and so many people were trying to get into them and it was hard to tell Women and Men from that one particular bathroom, would be nice to have someone standing and say, “Women’s Bathroom over here!” and vice versa since it was hard getting around when there were people with canes and dogs in one area. And also, didn’t know that I couldn’t sit in one part where it was to the side that was counted as foot traffic areas, should be nice to have volunteers warning us about that too because there was no mention of that as rules anywhere even if you were to the side or at least have volunteers asking, “Hey, do you need a seat? There are free seats over here.” Just saying!
Making Registration Easier to Navigate: I bring this idea up because while walking round the Registration Area we didn’t know where to go or how the lines were split. I heard there were ropes before, where were they? That would be easy or I gave this as an idea and that is Lego Tape on the ground. Oh yes, there is tape made with Legos that you can use to stick and build upon one on top of the other, it would help with the shoreline bit with getting around the Registration area instead of bumping into the ropes which I did before and it was not pleasant, it happened one year at an anime con by the way. People were surprised that it exists because Assistive Tech FAQS mentioned this as a way of building an ergonomic platform for a keyboard. NFB you should try it out for making shorelines for this area or even the Exhibitor’s Hall and the General Session and Presentation Rooms to help with finding exits and chairs.
Making Signs For Tourists: Another thing I have noticed is that a few stray tourists were hanging around the convention area that weren’t a part of the convention which I have asked directions. They didn’t know what I was talking about and realized that they weren’t there for the convention just sitting around. I understand that some tourists like to sit around but there are other areas for them to be in that is not the convention floor, as in they can be the food court area, the pool, and there was another side to the hotel, which this brings me to my last point and that is there should be signs for any stray wonderers telling them that a blind convention is being held in this hotel, like one sign would say, “Welcome to all tourists! There is a blindness convention this way! Try to help our patrons.” Because there are times where not all tourists know what event they are witnessing and not there for it, trust me I’ve seen it with anime conventions where people stayed at the hotel for theme parks and family but hang around the area which can be confusing even for a blind person. And the helping part, the tourist may be able to help if they had amap of the event to guide if need be for instance if someone had the map and I asked where registration was and they can say, “Oh, I have a map here that someone gave me, follow me.” It can make things a little easier since we can get lost and not everyone would know that they are in an area where people may need help in.

Well, I think that’s good enough here because I think I talked about so much when it came to this convention already. I think I smell smoke from my fingers. This convention was fun and sad to hear that it won’t be in Orlando for a while but hey at least people can travel to someplace they never been before. I hope to go to Vegas but if not you guys in Vegas and other parts of the country who are blind or knows someone who is blind to check it out and also be a member of the NFB because they believe in living the life you want since blindness doesn’t define you as a person. I want to thank the NFB of Florida for giving me the Dr. Jernagand Scholarship so I can be a part of this convention by attending it and getting to interview Apl D Ap and not only that getting to give my services to the Braille Book Fair. So, this hoping for the future especially with me since there are more things to explore and do for this blog and the YouTube Channel. So make sure you follow us on Twitter! Until next time!

Accessibility: Using Soundscape in Miami!

Hello Shiquers and welcome back to Nerdy Shique Universe! I’m back with another post!

Using Soundscape in Miami!

As you know, I’ve been using an app from Microsoft known as Soundscape. It’s a very good app to have if you’re visually impaired and have a hard time traveling around your area or in town even in the car, this is one you should have. I have had two people download it to take a try since our paratransit in town tends to take most of us all over the place, if if you remembered my story about my reason for getting this app is due to being on the van for two hours and it does come in handy after I downloaded so I can see if I’m on the way to my destination or not and same with heading home.

One good thing is to have this app in a crowded town and Miami is the perfect town to use it in. As you know, this city is almost what if you duplicated New York and made it slightly bigger by making it start near Dade County and go towards the tippy tip of the peninsula that is Miami! You have two parts to it and that’s North Miami and South Miami which that is why you see FIU, Florida International University, buses going from one part of town to the next. I’m not kidding, saw it before! Also, I knew people from Miami at the Rehab Center since this town is known for Bascom Palmer, which is where I was on Tuesday. Reason why I say that this town is perfect for this app is because it tells you EVERYTHING around you. I know it’s supposed to do that but I noticed here in Casselberry, even Altamonte, and Downtown that Soundscape doesn’t always pick up on everything like it’s supposed to since we do have some more independent businesses either opening or closing and also it doesn’t pick up on every store you pass by like a Hot Topic for instance which is weird in my book, it didn’t even catch on Journey’s when I was at the Altamonte Mall but it did pick up Foot Locker. While in Miami, on the other hand, it did pick up on every building on the block and it told you where it was. For instance, when my dad and I entered Miami after having breakfast in Jupiter Inlet we missed where we had to go and I decided to bring out my phone and opened Soundscape and it found all of the hospitals in the area even some of the rehab centers and of course it knew that we were in the Bascom Palmer parking lot and gave us the compass directions we were facing. I liked it here a lot more since it does detect where you are a lot better due to people can get lost easily in a town like this. I think the reason why it didn’t detect that many things in my area is due to how much spaced out things can be rather than being so close. I remembered using it briefly in Waterford and it only detected Regal Cinemas since we were seeing Solo with friends recently and it did pick up on Five Guys which was a little walking distance away. I think it detected other places but those were the only two it found.

There is one thing I would point out is that sometimes it’s not the best for actual GPS tracking because my dad was trying to ask about where to turn sometimes. I had to exit out of it to use the Maps app in order to find El Ray De Las Freitas which you can read my review before this one. Even though Soundscape is great for finding landmarks, I think that’s the best way to use it for even though it did say all the different roads we’re on and what direction we’re in but best to use Maps instead to find a particular address rather than relying on Soundscape to try and find where you’re going. I did find it interesting how Miami had churches on almost every block, including a Ukrainian one. It did point out the different schools, police stations in case if you want to move there for safe areas, and so on.

So, that’s my short experience about using Soundscape in Miami since it is very handy to use but if you’re looking for a specific address Maps and other GPS apps for addresses are better to use since it won’t give you the direction to turn in especially in a place you’re not familiar with since we rarely go to Miami unless it’s for my eye appointments. Plus best for Maps to find the location since there were so many number streets in town which you can be confused in where or what to turn onto.

So, that’s it! What’s next for Nerdy Shique Universe? Well, have a Convention Spotlight on the National Federation of the Blind National Convention which is coming up in July! Stay tuned!