The Stylus Winter Issue

December 2015

 

The official quarterly publication of the

American Council of the Blind of Oregon.

 

James Edwards, President, ACB of O

Phone: (541) 404-8214

Email: jamese.acbo@gmail.com

For more information about the American Council of the Blind of Oregon, go to our updated web page at: http://www.acboforegon.org

 

***Contents in This issue

*** A Word from Our President

*** A Word from Your Happy Editor

*** Gearing Up to Get in Shape in 2016?

*** A Technique for Gift Wrapping, Making a Box

*** Gift Idea, Xmas Sugar Cookies

*** The Twelve Dogs of Christmas

*** ACBO MEMBERSHIP AWARD

*** How To Get Free Braille Calendars

*** How to get your credit report for Free

*** Butternut Squash Soup with Cream Cheese 

*** A New Phone App to Report Wages to Social

*** Library Corner

*** The Twelve Cats of Christmas

*** Blind Arduino Blog Aims to Become Repository

*** Upgrading to Windows 10, Things to be Aware of

 

For email readers you may locate a new article at any time by using *** in the find feature in your screen reader or word processor.

 

 

 

 

*** A Word from Our President

    It's winter time, short days, long nights, and holiday times. Thanksgiving stuffing, Christmas cheer and giving, and New Year's Day hangovers! I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable winter.

    For those of you who attended our state convention, I hope you all enjoyed it and learned something from it. I think it was a huge success, and truly thank all who participated in making it happen. One way to measure the success of our convention is to listen to the comments made by individuals. One of the best I heard was from Jeff Thom, our National Representative. His comment that he "could feel the energy and motivation from the members of ACBO" at our convention said it all. And, I agree with him, ACBO does have energy and motivation. I look forward to the coming year to see what it brings for us.

     I know some in our organization were hoping for a change in leadership, but, once again, I was elected to serve another term as President of ACBO. I greatly appreciate and thank you for the opportunity to serve one more term, and pledge to all members of our organization to do so with the best of my ability. It's very encouraging to know we have a good board of officers, as well as individual members who are willing to accept responsibility for a task and see it through to the end. With this kind of cooperation and willingness, we can accomplish good things... 

    This year, we have a group of five members attending the national midyear President's meeting and Legislative seminar, along with a visit to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. It's a great opportunity to show Oregon's support for legislative issues being addressed by ACB National. The benefit of our members attending meetings of this kind is not only to learn about issues affecting the blind community nationwide, but also to make some valuable contacts by networking with ACB leaders from around the country. By creating and cultivating productive relationships with other leaders, we can share information and ideas to promote our common causes. 

     I hope to see us continue in our advocacy work this year. I see advocacy as a process of convincing someone what they are doing is wrong, and convincing them to change course. It is sometimes a very difficult endeavor, but the rewards are great.

     We did our research for a convention site in Salem for 2016, and found the Red Lion Hotel is the best facility available for our needs. We have held our conventions there several times in the past, and they always do a great job of hosting our organization. I look forward to seeing you there for another great convention in 2016.

Have a Very Merry Christmas!

President, James Edwards 

 

*** A Word from Your Happy Editor

By Teresa Christian

I won’t tease you guys, there is plenty of fun stuff in the newsletter this time. Our submission winner this time is Carolyn Patrick of the Metro PDX chapter. She won a $20 gift card to do with as she likes.

Remember your name goes in the drawing once for each item you submit. The next deadline is Feb. 25 for the March issue.

The ACBO board wishes to congratulate Jeanne-Marie Moore on her new appointment to the Oregon Commission for the Blind board. We wish you all the best and know you will do a great job!

THE JANUARY STATE BOARD MEETING WILL BE HELD AT THE SALEM RED LION HOTEL ON SATURDAY, JANUARY 16

THE 2016 STATE CONVENTION WILL BE HELD AT THE SALEM RED LION HOTEL ON OCTOBER 14th, 15th and 16th!

 

*** Gearing Up to Get in Shape in 2016?

Blind Alive has another New Workout Available you might want to check out. Pilates Mat Level One is ready! This one is for beginners. Jennifer Kern, certified Pilates instructor, describes each move and how breath is used to create that long, lean, strong body we all want. Her natural way of describing, along with the music composed by Jason Castonguay, makes this workout a pleasure for the ears as well as the body.

This routine is done on the floor with a mat for cushioning and alignment. Mel has further described each exercise with suggested modifications, and Lisa has created a text version as well.

For now, Pilates Mat Level 1 is available as a digital download on the website. Subscribe to the newsletter for information about when the CD version is available.

You can now request any of their workouts on a thumb drive. For specifics and pricing, please write to support@BlindAlive.com .

Through January 6, 2016, they are offering a free Evening Stretch when you order any Eyes-Free Fitness™ workout from BlindAlive. You do not need to do anything special to claim this bonus. You will receive it automatically with your purchase. The one exception applies to those who purchase a CD from Amazon. If this is the case, please forward your Amazon order confirmation to support@BlindAlive.com, and we will be happy to be sure you get it.

To check them out and/or subscribe to the newsletter go to BlindAlive.com

 

*** A Technique for Gift Wrapping, Making a Box Plus a Hat

Taken from The December Issue of The Blind Perspective

Kaleidoscope of Krafts

By Lindy van der Merwe

lindy@theblindperspective

 

For this month I am returning to origami, sharing with you a paper folding project that could be both fun and useful for the festive season, including a technique for making gift wrapping just a little easier.

Actually, by following the instructions below, you could make two different objects to use in different ways by simply varying the type and size of paper you use. You might not think it likely that one could create a hat and use it as a box, or the other way around, but here is where the magic of origami comes in.

If you would like to have some fun with the kids around Christmas, why not find some sheets of pretty gift wrap for each child, although there is no reason why adult family members could not also participate. Try bright or metallic colours like gold, silver, red, green and dark blue. If it will be a large gathering, try to look for cheap gift wrap to save on costs. Alternatively, recycle newspaper by letting children paint the sheets using their favorite colours. To make wearable hats, you will need squares that are cut from at least the size of newspaper sheets or larger.

To make things easier it might be a good idea to have the squares cut before the time. If you don't feel up to the task, consider enlisting the help of a family member or friend. Line up a few sheets on top of each other and place them down with the short edges at the top and bottom. Fold the top corner down and to the right until the top edge of the sheet lines up perfectly with the right edge of the paper. Make a strong crease along the diagonal edge you have created. You will now have a folded triangle at the top and a single, rectangular piece of paper at the bottom. Cut off the rectangular piece and open the triangle to reveal a perfect square. Alternatively, you could fold the bottom piece back and forth along the base of your folded triangle or use a wet cloth to weaken the paper. Then, placing the paper down so the triangle is on the left and the rectangle towards the right, tare the paper with a firm, but controlled, motion. This method might take some practice but it can be used very successfully by those of us who find cutting straight to be somewhat of a challenge. Mastering this technique will enable you to tare paper cleanly - very useful when having to wrap presents during the festive season, or for the next birthday gift you have to wrap.

The crown or crown box is a traditional origami model, meaning it has been folded by people for a long time. The original creator is thus not known. To fold your very own crown, do the following:

If using two-sided paper, lay your paper with the patterned or colored side down before starting to fold.

Step 1: Place a square piece of paper down on a hard, flat surface with its edges to the left and right, top and bottom.

Step 2: Fold the left edge over to meet the right edge. Crease and unfold.

Step 3: Fold the top edge down to meet the bottom edge. Crease and unfold.

Step 4: Use the crease lines on your paper to fold all four corners in to meet at the center of the square. NOTE: This step May require some practice, because the folds should be straight and equal to each other. Try out different ways of folding until you find what works for you. The best way I have found is to recrease the horizontal and vertical center lines, if necessary. Then fold the top left and right points inwards to form two top triangles. Turn the model 180 degrees and repeat this last step. When pressed flat, you should end up with a square-shaped model. Make sure that, as far as possible, all outside corners are folded neatly at a 90 degree angle and that the crease lines all lie straight and meet precisely in the center of the square. It is fine to have very small "gap lines" between your triangles, but keep them straight and as small as possible.

Step 5: Flip the paper over so your folded square model has a smooth surface again and position it as for Step 1.

Step 6: Fold the top edge down to meet the bottom edge to reveal a rectangle made up of three triangles. Crease and unfold.

Step 7: Fold the top and bottom edges in to meet at the horizontal center line. Crease well and leave folded. As you do this, two triangles should pop out at the top and bottom center of your model. Press the paper flat so the triangles point up and down. What you will have now is a model that is made up of two large triangles pointing away from each other, with their bases touching and 4 very small triangles that lie on the left and right sides, just above and below the horizontal center of your model.

Step 8: Fold the large bottom triangle upwards and press flat.

Step 9: Notice that there are two small triangular corners at the bottom of your model. Fold these small bottom corners upwards and inwards at a 45 degree angle and make sure their edges are straight in relation to the model's horizontal and vertical creases. Crease well and leave folded.

Step 10: Fold the large triangle mentioned in Step 8 down again, so it covers the two corners you have just folded in the previous step.

Step 11: Without picking the model up from your folding surface, rotate the model 180 degrees and repeat Steps 8 to 10. After this step you should only be able to feel two large triangles pointing to the top and bottom, their bases touching to form the horizontal center of your diamond-shaped piece of paper.

Step 12: Turn your paper 90 degrees so the slit at the center of the model is in a vertical position. Pick up the model and gently pull to the sides with your thumbs to open up the slit and gently push the top and bottom sides inwards into a square shape.

Turnover and marvel at your beautiful crown.

If sporting your own paper crown around the festive table is not quite your thing, then consider finding yourself a much smaller piece of paper. It could be a note square or a square made from some colored construction paper.

When folding Start off with your paper with the colored or patterned side up and follow the steps as described above. Then, simply turn your crown upside down to use as a pretty box.

Fold the flaps in underneath the model or let them splay out or stand up around the box. Make a lid for your box by cutting paper just slightly larger than the box with or without the flaps visible. If you prefer, glue the loose flaps down for some extra durability.

If you need extra help with folding, perhaps from a sighted friend or family member, instructions with illustrations for this model can be found at: http://www.origami-fun.com/origami-crown.html

And on various sites elsewhere on the Internet with some minor variation on folding methods and sequences.

Very best wishes for an enjoyable festive season to all!

 

*** Gift Idea, Xmas Sugar Cookies

Taken from the Dec. 2015 issue of The Blind Perspective

Cooking Concoctions

By Maxine

maxine@theblindperspective

 

Happy Holidays! Here is a great recipe for sugar cookies with an added bonus. Follow the directions below and give as a gift.

Sugar Cookies

Recipe for Jar Gift

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

Dash of salt

1 cups white sugar

1 cup butter, soften

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions:

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a 1-quart largemouth jar, layer the sugar on the bottom and the flour mixture on top.

Attach a tag with the previous dry ingredients and the following instructions:

Empty the contents of the jar into a large bowl.

Cut in 1 cup of softened butter until the mixture is crumbly.

In a separate bowl, beat 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until light and fluffy.

Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until well blended.

Cover bowl and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch in thickness.

Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.

Place cookies 1 1/2 inches apart onto cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until edges begin to brown.

You can sprinkle on some colored sugar before baking or after baking, frost and sprinkle on some colored sugar.

 

*** The Twelve Dogs of Christmas

You have to follow the link to YouTube. Listen all the way through, it’s worth it. ☺

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlW61Tq1Rrs&feature=related

 

*** ACBO MEMBERSHIP AWARD

    In 1983, ACBO created an award to be presented at our annual convention to the chapter who has the largest increase in membership for the year. The award is a good incentive to chapters to work at increasing membership, and a nice way to recognize their achievement at convention.    

   At this year's convention, I inadvertently overlooked the presentation of the Membership Award, and I sincerely apologize to the Metro PDX chapter, the winner of the award for 2015. I will present it at our January state board meeting.

    Here are some interesting facts about the award.

Since it was created in 1983, it has been awarded to eleven different chapters.

   Rogue Valley chapter has won it nine times, Southwestern chapter, seven times, three times each for Willamette, Umpqua, and Dunes Park. Multnomah and Metro PDX both have now won the award two times each, and Klamath, Columbia, Emerald, and South Coast chapters having received it one time each. That's thirty three years of ACBO history. 

    Umpqua, South Coast, and Emerald chapters are now defunct. Umpqua was a chapter in the Roseburg area, South Coast chapter was in the city of Brookings, and Emerald was the original Eugene chapter.

    The Membership Award is a plaque in the shape of the state of Oregon, with a brass plate on it in which the names of the different chapters are engraved. You can have your chapter name engraved on it next year, just by working to increase your membership! 

By President, James Edwards

 

*** How To Get Free Braille Calendars

Here are two sources that I know of. If you know of others please send the info to me so we can benefit from each other’s knowledge.

These calendars are about six inches square and open like a book with a plastic spine on the left. The month and year are at the top fully written out and the holidays are at the bottom of each month. On the very bottom line is written the name of the month for faster location.

American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults

(410) 659-9315

actionfund@actionfund.org

1800 Johnson Street

Baltimore, MD 21230

 

The second one is 3x5 inches, also opens like a book with the plastic spiral rings on the left side. The holidays are listed half in the front of the little book and the rest on the last page. There is no room for anything else on each page except the very basic info. They are small and easy to keep in a purse or pocket.

Michigan Braille Transcribing Fund

517-780-5096

3500 N. Elm Road

Jackson, MI 49201

 

*** How to get your credit report for Free

You can get your credit report once a year for free. It is a good idea to do this and stay on top of potential fraudulent reporting as well as identify theft. You can request your report in Braille. You can get them by going to

www.annualcreditreportcom or call toll-free 877-322-8228.

 

*** Butternut Squash Soup with Cream Cheese 

This is easy to make and is good on a cold winter evening.

6 tablespoons chopped yello onions

4 tablespoons margarine

6 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash 

3 cups water 

4 cubes chicken bouillon 

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram 

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper 

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese

 

Directions

Prep 25 m, Cook 35 m, Ready in 1 hour

1. In a large saucepan, sauté onions in margarine until tender. Add squash, water, bouillon, marjoram, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to boil; cook 20 minutes, or until squash is tender.

2. Puree squash and cream cheese in a blender or food processor in batches until smooth. Return to saucepan, and heat through. Do not allow to boil.

Serve and enjoy

 

*** A New Phone App to Report Wages to

 Social Security

For those of you receiving SSI and working, or anticipating work, you need to know there is now a smart phone ap to make reporting wages easier. Links to both the iStore and Google Play are below.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ssi-mobile-wage-reporting/id563535561?mt=8

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gov.ssa.mkwr&hl=en

 

*** Library Corner

Excerpted from the TB Library Fall 2015 Newsletter

HADLEY SCHOOL BARD SEMINARS

For those users interested in learning how to download books from the BARD website or through the BARD Mobile app, the Hadley School for the Blind is offering free online audio seminars that cover both topics.

 Each seminar is approximately an hour and half long, and takes you through the whole process from searching to downloading to playing BARD books.  They are recordings of live seminars, so in addition to the instructor covering the planned material, you’ll also benefit from the questions of participants and the instructor’s answers.

 These BARD seminars can be found on Hadley’s website: www.hadley.edu/SeminarsAtHadley.asp.  Navigate to Past Seminars, then click on the link for Accessibility and Technology under the Seminar Topics header.  Hadley offers a ton of other seminars of a variety of topics like Braille literacy, independent living, health and medical, and professional development.

 If you are looking for something shorter, they have tutorial videos for BARD and BARD Mobile on their website at www.oregon.gov/osl/TalkingBooks/Pages/bard_info.aspx.  They’re only about 10 minutes long, so they only cover the basics, but they show the whole process from beginning to end.  The National Library Service also has a YouTube playlist with lots of videos covering a wide range of BARD Mobile topics.  You can find their BARD Mobile ‘How-To Series’ under the Library of Congress’ YouTube channel.

 VOTERS’ GUIDE

With the primary election coming up in May 2016 and the general election following in November, they wanted to give everyone a chance ahead of time to sign up for an accessible Voters’ Guide if you’re interested.  They provide this Voters’ Guide in partnership with the League of Women Voters and the Secretary of State’s office.

 You can request the Voters’ Guide in one of three formats: Large Print, Braille, or audio.  For the primary election, there will not be a separate edition for the Republicans and Democrats; all candidates will be in the same guide.  This guide is also for state-wide elections, and does not include information on local county or city candidates or ballot measures.

 If you would like to subscribe to receive the Voters’ Guide for this and all other upcoming state-wide elections, please contact them at 800-452-0292 or talkingbooks.info@state.or.us and let them know what format you would prefer.  The cut-off date to subscribe for the primary election is early April, and the cut-off for the general election will be sometime in September.

 Remember that holidays create mail delays for both incoming and outgoing books.  Be sure to get any requests in several days ahead of the holidays to improve the chance of receiving those books before the post office gets swamped.

 This newsletter is available in large print, audio, Braille, or on the website at www.ORTalkingBooks.org.  Contact Talking Books if you would like to change the format you currently receive.

 

*** The Twelve Cats of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas when I brought home my tree

My 12 cats were laughing at me

On the second day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree

2 mangled garlands

and my 12 cats laughing at me

On the third day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree

3 missing Wise Men

2 mangled garlands

and my 12 cats laughing at me

On the fourth day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree

4 males a-spraying

3 missing Wise Men

2 mangled garlands

and my 12 cats laughing at me

On the fifth day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree

5 shredded gifts

4 males a-spraying

3 missing Wise Men

2 mangled garlands

and my 12 cats laughing at me

On the sixth day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree

6 fallen angels

5 shredded gifts

4 males a-spraying

3 missing Wise Men

2 mangled garlands

and my 12 cats laughing at me

On the seventh day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree

7 half-dead rodents

6 fallen angels

5 shredded gifts

4 males a-spraying

3 missing Wise Men

2 mangled garlands

and my 12 cats laughing at me

On the eighth day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree

8 shattered ornaments

7 half-dead rodents

6 fallen angels

5 shredded gifts

4 males a-spraying

3 missing Wise Men

2 mangled garlands

and my 12 cats laughing at me

On the ninth day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree

9 chewed-through light strings

8 shattered ornaments

7 half-dead rodents

6 fallen angels

5 shredded gifts

4 males a-spraying

3 missing Wise Men

2 mangled garlands

and my 12 cats laughing at me

On the tenth day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree

10 tinsel hairballs

9 chewed-through light strings

8 shattered ornaments

7 half-dead rodents

6 fallen angels

5 shredded gifts

4 males a-spraying

3 missing Wise Men

2 mangled garlands

and my 12 cats laughing at me

On the eleventh day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree

11 broken branches

10 tinsel hairballs

9 chewed-through light strings

8 shattered ornaments

7 half-dead rodents

6 fallen angels

5 shredded gifts

4 males a-spraying

3 missing Wise Men

2 mangled garlands

and my 12 cats laughing at me

On the twelfth day of Christmas I looked at my poor tree

12 cats a-climbing

11 broken branches

10 tinsel hairballs

9 chewed-through light strings

8 shattered ornaments

7 half-dead rodents

6 fallen angels

5 shredded gifts

4 males a-spraying

3 missing Wise Men

2 mangled garlands

and my 12 cats laughing at me

 

*** Blind Arduino Blog Aims to Become Repository for Blind Makers and Tinkerers

Researcher and inventor Joshua Miele has launched a collaborative blog to aid in the development of accessible resources based on the Arduino platform. Arduino is an open-source platform aimed at electronics enthusiasts who wish to build digital devices and objects that interact with or control sensors or objects. One might build a robot, thermostat, motion detector, or scientific measurement devices with an Arduino board and programming tools. The blog aims to create a resource which would aid blind builders and tinkerers to accessibly and independently create projects and program the boards.

Here's an excerpt from the initial blog post. "With the advent of open-source, relatively standardized, microprocessor-based project kits like Arduino, the kinds of devices that can be built by the casual maker at home have become quite sophisticated. In fact, Arduino is an ideal platform for creating a variety of accessibility devices which blind makers and users might find useful. For example Arduino would be perfect for building tools like audio and tactile meters and gauges which could be driven by any manner of sensors and detectors. From accessible scales to timers, range finders, multimeters and beyond, Arduino could make it relatively easy to design and share accessible tools which can be endlessly modified, adapted, and improved to meet a wide range of applications and needs."

http://blarbl.blogspot.com/2015/11/what-is-blind-arduino-blog.html

 

*** ScripTalk audible prescription labels are now available nationwide

ScripTalk audible prescription labels are now available nationwide at all local Rite Aid and Walmart pharmacies, as well as at several national mail order pharmacies. Rite Aid and certain mail order pharmacies also offer large print and Braille prescription labels.

Be aware that you may have to educate your local Rite Aid or Walmart pharmacist that their employer is actually offering accessible prescription labels. These companies are very large, and it can take time for local pharmacists to become aware of new company initiatives.

If you are a Walmart customer and your local pharmacist is not yet familiar with the availability of accessible prescription labels, just tell the pharmacist to "Search for ScripTalk on The WIRE." The pharmacist will know to search Walmart's internal communication system to find instructions on how to get ScripTalk implemented locally.

If you are a Rite Aid customer and your local pharmacist is not yet familiar with accessible labels, ask the pharmacist to call their corporate support number for more information, or you can also call EnVision America for assistance at 1-800-890-1180.

Accessible prescription labels are also available via mail order from the following national mail order pharmacies:

1. cvs.com Home Delivery supplies audible prescription labels.

2. CVS/Caremark PBM Mail Order supplies audible, large print and Braille prescription labels.

3. Humana Mail Order supplies audible and Braille prescription labels.

4. Rite Aid Mail Order supplies audible, large print and Braille prescription labels.

5. United Healthcare/OptumRx Mail Order supplies audible prescription labels.

6. Walmart Mail Order supplies audible prescription labels.

From James Edwards, ACBO President

 

Trouble with iTunes? Here’s a Solution

Reprinted from the December Blind Perspective

Spencer's Spotlight

By Cheryl Spencer

cheryl@theblindperspective

 

Those of you that have an iPhone may join me in my struggles in navigating iTunes when it comes to transferring content from your computer onto an iDevice. Well glory be! There is an alternative way of getting the job done. It is called an iStick.

It is a flash drive for the iDevice. It comes with both a USB connector and a lightning connecter. Simply insert the USB into your computer, copy and paste from your music or mp3 files onto the drive. Detach it from the computer, then connect it to the iDevice via the lightning connecter, and the iPhone, for example will recognize the drive is connected. You will then be asked to visit the app store and download the app that the drive uses.

Open the app, and in my case, once I found the files on the drive, I chose the share button, and selected save to downloads. Now the files will be located in the downloads folder on the app. How cool is that! It was an answer to many frustrating hours I had spent trying to figure out how to sink my music files from iTunes.

The price for this little treasure varies and can be purchased from Best Buy, Amazon, and eBay. I got the 16 gig, but larger capacities are available.

So, if you know that certain someone that would love something like this for Christmas, it would make a great stocking stuffer, just saying...

 

*** Dessert- Sinful Snicker Salad

Ingredients:

4 Snicker bars chopped

8 oz. cream cheese

8 oz. marshmallow crème

8 oz. cool whip

6-8 peeled and diced apples

 

Directions:

Mix ingredients together, refrigerate, and enjoy!

 

*** Upgrading to Windows 10, Things to be Aware of

Reprinted from the Dec. issue of The Blind Perspective

Computer Tech 101

By Jim Morgan

jim@theblindperspective

 

In honor of the coming last season of Myth Busters, and given a number of things I have been hearing lately, I thought wed do a Myth Busters on some Windows 10 rumors.

The First one deals with Microsoft automatically upgrading everyone to Windows 10 whether they like it or not. While it is possible, depending upon ones Automatic update settings, it is not very likely. In the first place, Microsoft is not in the habit of throwing away MILLIONS of dollars in potential sales revenue for no good reason. They wouldnt be where they are today if it were otherwise.

While, to use Myth Busters jargon, its plausible, there are a number of caveats to be considered. One thing that you can always do is to change your Automatic Update settings in the Control Panel. All you need to do is select something other than automatically update. You can either have it download automatically and ask you if you want to install it or simply notify you of the update and let you take it from there.

There are some other limitations, however. While I have seen a thing or two about a 32-bit version of Windows 10, I believe that its only available in 64 bit mode. In practical terms, I believe that Windows 10 wants a minimum of 4 GB of memory and neither Windows XP nor the 32-bit version of Windows 7 will recognize more than 3.25 GB of memory. So, if one is still running Windows XP or the 32-bit version of Windows 7, you cannot just update it and are safe. You basically have to completely remove and reinstall the Operating System as well as, possibly, completely reformat the Hard Drive to do the upgrade.

For those of us who remember, Windows 95 was 32-bit and it was a bit of a big deal, at the time, to go from DOS, which is 16-bit, to the new format. There were a LOT of headaches at the time. Going from 32-bit to 64-bit is very similar. To give you a practical example of the difference, in DOS, file names could be only 8 characters long with a 3 character extension (thats what comes after the dot in a file name). In 32-Bit, the file names can be as long as you want but if you look at them in the DOS Command Interpreter, it looks like the first 6 characters with a ~ and a number. For example, the folder Computer Tech 101 couldnt be done in DOS and would look like Comput~1 in the Command Interpreter but would look normal in Windows. Needless to say, a similarly large jump is involved with going from 32-bit to 64-bit and should not be taken lightly.

For one thing, one needs to consider if ones computer hardware can handle it. Realistically, if your computer is older than, say, 5 years, it might be suspect for upgrading. The biggest difference is that the 3.25 GB barrier is gone and you can have as much memory as you want. I have a friend in the Video Editing business and his work computer, the last time I heard, had 16 GB of memory. My opinion on the subject is that if you dont have to, or want to for that matter, update; dont. It wont hurt anything. Besides, there may be compatibility issues with the software youre running now. You MIGHT have to upgrade them in addition to the Operating System so that they will work properly. Remember that there are still many Windows XP users out there and Microsoft has stopped supporting it with updates and such. However, these people still go on their merry way with no problem. So, I cant really call this one busted but it isnt very likely to be a problem for you. In fact, if youre not already running Windows 8/8.1, I wouldnt worry about it. In the end, if you still want to worry, just change the Automatic Update settings like I said and youll be fine.

Next Rumor is the, in my opinion, Conspiracy Theory regarding the new Personal Digital Assistant and other things snuck in while doing the Windows 10 Express setup. A noted Privacy Advocate is saying that if you install the Digital Assistant, which opens up voice commands like the iPhones Siri or other voice recognition programs, the microphone is actually recording all sounds it picks up and sends them to Microsoft for storage and use by both them and the Federal Government. In addition, a key logger is in there to record all your typing to capture logins, passwords, and other sensitive data. Without getting into the technical issues here, the biggest question you have to ask is Why would they care? The answer is, that unless you give them a reason, they do not. There are over 300 Million people in this country and I can assure you that companies as big as Microsoft, and the Feds, dont give a rats rear end what you do every day.

Also, the amount of storage space required is ridiculous. To store just 1 month of 1 person would require about 34 GB of space. This is based on approximately 1 MB per minute in a 24Hour in a Day and a 30 Day month. The actual figure, in case you are interested and my arithmetic is correct, is 33,200 MB of space for 1 person in 1 month. To give you another measure, according to the song from Rent, “there are 525,600 minutes in a year.” Using the same 1 minute per MB measure, that translates to over half a TB for 1 years’ worth of sound for ONE installation of this recorder. Keep in mind that there are thousands, and probably soon to be tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, of copies of the Operating System out there in use. As somebody once said, You do the math. The amount of TB of storage, to say nothing about the next step up (I think its Picobytes or 1,000 TB) that would be required just to store the audio captured is difficult to imagine, let alone acquire.

I believe that this is simply to scare the public with regard to Big Brother and further her own agenda. Her company hosts a secure E-mail server that, I suspect, is paid subscriber only, like any other ISP, and is located outside the United States to, in her words and Im paraphrasing here, keep the FBI out of their servers. So while it is technically possible to do what she says, it is not feasible due to prohibitive costs and a decided lack of interest on the providers part, it his highly unlikely that this will happen. Technical issues aside, and this is for those people who do a LOT of Tweets on Twitter, nobody cares what you had for breakfast this morning nor are any of your other daily activities of any real interest to most people. In other words, dont worry about it. As with the first rumor, while I cant call this one truly busted, again, it is highly unlikely and is, in all probability, no real concern.

For our last myth”, although its probably more in the area of a misconception, lets talk about other programs and their compatibility with Windows 10. While it is unfortunate, some software will not work with Windows 10 and some software will need to be updated to work as efficiently as possible with the new Operating System.

DO NOT assume that your programs and I specifically mean your magnifiers and/or screen readers in particular, will automatically work with Windows 10. Im given to understand that one should have at least version 16 of JAWS for Windows 10. The latest versions of either Zoom text or Window Eyes are recommended but Im not completely sure if theyre Windows 10 compatible. So, before updating, it is a good idea to check and make sure that the programs you need to run will still work after the update.

The easiest way to do this is to contact the company that makes the software, such as Freedom Scientific or AI2 for example, and ask them. You are probably okay with Microsoft packages, such as Office, but, and I cannot stress this enough, DO not Assume that they will work. This issue of software compatibility has been around for a while but was not really a problem until, I think, Windows 7. There were programs, mostly old DOS versions of things that would not run or would run ugly in 64-bit Windows 7. Bottom line; make sure before you update. As I said, it is no small thing to upgrade your Operating System and, most always, follows the Law of unintended Consequences when something that used to work just fine now no longer works, so be careful before undertaking this and, if you run into problems, seek assistance as soon as possible. Trust me when I say that you will release far less Stomach acid nor cause marked cranial pressure (this is a fancy way of saying to avoid headaches and stomach problems) by doing this. In this case, there isnt a myth to confirm or bust, but you do need to know about it.

That should do it for this version of Windows 10 Myth Busters and I hope you all found it interesting. Im sure that there are more out there and, while I might be wrong in my assertions, I stand by them. As always, I welcome your comments and questions, and Ill endeavor to answer them as quickly as possible. So now, to quote Myth Busters' Adam Savage, Lets get out of here. Happy computing!

 

*** Stylus Submission Contest

As you all know by now, every Stylus issue has a contest for submitting items that will potentially go in the Stylus. Your name will be entered once for each item you submit to me for the upcoming issue. You can send as many items as you like and whether or not it makes it into the next issue, your name will go into the random drawing once for each submission. One name will be selected and that lucky person will receive a gift card. This time it is an online gift card of your choosing for $20.

Stay on the lookout for fun and interesting items you’d like to see in the Stylus next time. Let me know what would strike your fancey: technology topics, recipes, articles about successful blind people, dog guide related items etc.

The deadline for the spring issue is February 25. The winner in March will get a $20, online gift card of their choosing.

Keep them coming and good luck!

 

Thanks for reading this issue of the Stylus!

 

May you always have enough!

 

In love and light, your happy editor, Teresa Christian

 

 

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Stylus Editor, Teresa Christian acbo.stylus@gmail.com

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