Posts from the ‘Apple Inc.’ Category

Morality is in the Gutter

The agreements between companies and their outside developers are stringent. Apple for example have often been criticised for the extension of their own secrecy policy to the terms of agreement in their developer programmes. This topic has again been unearthed this week with the announcements at WWDC.

I’m all for people testing. I also get excited when sites like mac Rumours talk about things but I treat them as merely rumours.

I personally know several individuals on the developer scheme and while most of them stick to the non disclosure policy, I’ve seen several who are outright breaking it.

Today it was released that there’s a “backdoor” to get iOs5 through a security leak and my favourite thing I’ve heard is that blind people must get it to ensure it activates.

I seriously roll my eyes at that. There are several blind individuals on the developer programme and if iOS doesn’t activate, they’ll let Apple know the “right way”.

I have to say, this self righteous attitude that we can break rules just to suit ourselves in the blind community is shoddy and needs to stop. You cannot have it all ways. Expect to be treated equally and then put yourself above the rules by flinging the blind card everywhere for the world to see when it suits you; hypocritical, methinks?

I am not saying sighted people or others with different disabilities are not breaching the terms of use and that is also wrong but do not use “the blind card” to justify your piracy.

To the developers who are VI and are testing both Lion and iOS5 while sticking to you’re binding agreement, I applaud you for both. Because you are testing and reporting back to Apple, you are doing the rest of us a service.

Was I tempted? Sure! If we can get something for nothing, most of us are but I will not get either Lion or iOs5 until I can purchase Lion and update my iOS devices in iTunes.

It seems mighty unfair that people who have shed out money to test to give what I I hope is constructive feedback to Apple are being tarnished with a brush by selfish and arrogant individuals determined to get their own way because they can.

I know I’m stepping onto moral high ground but seems the level of morality is in a ditch for most people these days. All I can say to those doing the backdoor way, just know, if it blows up in your face neither Apple nor your phone company will give a damn. I suspect developers and anyone on their account has cover via some reference number and that is fine but just know you are not covered under this unorthodox method.

If I was a developer, I may test and who knows, one day that may happen. With the next version of the Mac OS I might enter into the development programme as I have a spare mac at home now to test on but it wouldn’t be so I could blog about features.

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Why Do We Dog the UnderDog?

Some of us route for the underdog while others continue to hate on them. But it seems as though in the current state of society’s mindset that all we want to do is see the up and coming “underdog” fail or forced to be punished and put back into its comfortable status before they have a chance to make it anywhere in our competitive society.

 

I can think of plenty of examples where this is happening or has happened in recent memory.

 

The British are renowned for doing this exact behaviour where sports are regarded. England plays in the world cup this year but as a nation we already expect for them to fail. In the past, it’s been traditional to vouch for the underdog, to spur them on to do well but nowadays it seems unless you are already one of the “big boys” you better forget climbing that socially acceptable ladder to bigger and better things.

 

The current general election has proven this without the final ballot papers being counted. The liberal democrats have been dismissed by the two major parties as pretty much a joke than a serious contester to the leadership challenge. However, when Nick Cleg gained a relatively popular reaction from the general public after the first leaders’ debate, the others turned to attack him and his party more vehemently than they had chosen to display prior to the televised debate.

 

Only time will tell how the “underdog” in this particular situation will pan out.

 

Across the other side of the Atlantic, things do not seem much better as Apple are now being investigated by the FCC for their argument with Adobe. It seems no one cared about Apple’s dealings while they did not pose a threat to the overall technology market but now Apple are creating waves it seems no one in higher powers wants to see the company increase their share hold on the technology market.

 

The underdogs is a concept we are all familiar with but will they continue to remain as the underdog or will they succeed to bigger and better things?

 

Opening The Door with Apple’s IPad?

With the launch of Apple’s next big thing on the US horizon, it is hard to escape the many articles either reviewing or speculating about the IPad.

When it was announced back in January that the IPad, otherwise known as the much anticipated Apple Tablet, rumours began to fly about all kinds of things. For those of us interested in the accessibility, Apple did not fail to deliver, including the much loved and used voice over feature on the IPad.

Since its introduction last June, the voice over feature on the IPhone and IPod Touch consequently in september, has enabled thousands of visually impaired users to utilise the products as freely as their sighted counterparts with no extra cost. Despite everyone being uncertain whether it would be introduced last year, it has possibly become an assumption that Apple would not leave out this excellent, innovative feature. And even as the IPad was launched, we soon learned that voice over was indeed featured on there too.

However, questions began to rise in conjunction with a new Apple store launching and what it would mean for the visually impaired and dyslexic users of the IPad and its technology. IBooks promise to potentially open up doors never as open as before. As true that there are organisations in many countries around the world that offer merely a fragment of printed materials in alternative formats, the amount of that content available compared to the general market is miniscule.

Enter the IPad

At launch, this product seemed as though it could be the answer to many avid readers’ dreams. Especially those with a “print impairment”. If the voice over stretched to the IBooks feature at least. However, anyone who has been around this debate for the last year or so, will know that there has been many fights about whether Text to speech is actually a violation of audio copyright.

Most of us sensible people would state that audio books are completely different to those read by a screen reader. However, the author’s gild did not agree with that notion and filed a suit against Amazon and its Kindle reader last year to ensure a feature was available to authors/publishers to turn off the speech functionality of the Kindle if they so desired.

granted, I realise that this protects the content somewhat from hackers but as no expert in the matter I will comment no further on this except to say, while you’re keeping the hackers out you are also blocking millions of readers from accessing the material because of an impairment. Even though the Author’s gild still seem rather adamant about the reading aloud situation, I’m not entirely certain Apple will back down as easily as Amazon did.

Apple’s policy of universal access would completely be in disarray if Apple allowed the voice over feature to be turned off on certain books. Not to mention the fact that it should be an individual’s right to choose how they read a book. For those who are print impaired, walking into a bookstore and picking up a book is not an option. Audio books are only on occasion made in comparison to publication of print books so Ebooks seems like the most viable option to not only avid readers but to students alike.

Imagine, trying to study and be unable to get hold of the core text because it is simply not available in the format you need. Thousands of print editions but no other alternative and if there is, I.E. an Ebook you are unable to read it because the devices capable of doing so have been blocked access because the author’s gild deem your screen reader as equivalent to a human voice.

It does seem Apple have not gone into this with their eyes shut, they rarely do but after reading and rereading the statement on their Ibooks feature page where it says,
“iBooks works with VoiceOver, the screen reader in iPad, so it can read you the contents of any page.” and maybe I am reading too much into this but it says can read the contents of “any page”. That suggests that the DRM ability like so many other devices has protected against the “print impaired” users accessing the books does not exist here. Apple does not state, will read all the content on an unprotected book’s page or anything to that affect. So, I do conclude that Apple have
A. Thought this through and
B. are keeping to their universal access policy.

The IPad, along with being a potentially fun and innovative way to do work on the go or watch movies in the car could also possibly open up the reading and studying world for millions of people that has remained firmly closed because of simple red tape.

Welcome the IPad and yet another product from Apple that just keeps making me and many others love their products more.

Books + Blind = Forget it!

I just started back at University in the past few months and I’m afraid this is somewhat of a rant but a very well experienced one.

I have ran into these same issues ever since I entered into higher education but my first degree began in 2001 and so I hoped, beyond all hope that the services and transcription and alternative formatting may have advanced just a touch since then, after all, it is almost nine years ago. Sadly, the situation remains the same.

The degree I am undertaking is not exactly the streamlined subjects that some people may choose to undertake but the classes I am undertaking are more streamlined. A people skills book that could cross reference many subjects throughout the higher education spectrum and a well known psychology book are seemingly unattainable to someone with a print disability hoping for it to be in any format other than print.

Maybe it’s my sheer bad luck or maybe the figure of %96 of books in the uK never make it to alternative formats is far too accurate. If this is the case, knowing technology has advanced in those nine years, then it has to be asked why? Why am I still pulling my hair out because no matter how much I want to succeed the books I need cannot be bought/borrowed in a format I can access.

Some people would suggest buying the book and scanning it myself and although I have a scanner I would need new software to translate the picture into text but scanning an 800 page book from one class alone would be ridiculously time consuming.

When will publishers and authors realise that their book sales would lift considerably if they also published them in a format everyone could access.

And when will organisations realise that charging to lend books is actually extorting visually impaired people. It is unfair and unjust and lets hope that if Apple’s IPad opens up accessibility with its IBooks app being introduced, and huge publishers agreeing to make their books available in EPub format then it would open the doors, possibly to increased accessibility. And those publishers/authors who refuse to make their content accessible, shame on them for depriving those with print disabilities from reading for both furthering themselves or purely enjoying the leisure activity of reading a good old book. Should it matter how they access the books as long as an author and publisher benefit financially.

What A Wonderful World!

The past few weeks has taught me far too much about the social state of our society. several things have happened both directly and non-directly that provoked me to write this blog.

First of all, if anyone read my blog last week about The library then you will know the personal experiences I have had in recent weeks with the youth of society.

By no means do I think that all children behave in such a disrespectful matter or believe that all kids are bad but it seems more and more, with cases like the stabbing last week in the UK, multiple mass murders from school children in the past ten years that society has gone crazy.

I know that there have always been the odd child that gives the rest of them a bad name. Heavens knows we were all capable of being a little “cheeky” or insolent during our youth, its the way we tested boundaries but more and more we read of killings, abuse, and pure anti-social behaviour occurring on a daily basis that surely is not acceptable. Although, it seems it is.

Children cannot be disciplined by adults due to fear of repercussions for the adults involved. It shows how bad this particular situation has become when a UK soap shows a woman in her 70s being arrested by police for smacking her “naughty” grand daughter. This child merely wasn’t just talking back but she was trying to make it look like her grandfather who had suffered a stroke had wet himself by pouring water over his lap. This same character had stolen another little girl’s dress and her grandmother had covered up for the child’s bad behaviour until the water incident upon which she smacked the child. Not battered her, smacked her.

Now, when I was growing up, which is not that long ago in the real state of things, my mother smacked me if I was bad. It hasn’t driven me to be violent or abusive as a person so I’m not buying into that psychological theory. I don’t discount that can happen but a smack from a parent/guardian during childhood seems a norm to me. But now with all the human rights and children’s charities bleating on about children’s rights it seems not only the authority figures such as police officers, teachers etc who cannot have a handle on children’s behaviour but their own parents cannot discipline their child as they see fit either.

I would never condone beating a child but a quick slap on the rear end or back of legs surely, when used appropriately cannot do any harm. Children have no fear of authority figures anymore and this is steadily growing into a problem that before long we will not be able to get a handle on.

If a child does not have disciplinarianism at home, [I do not mean hitting, you can discipline in other ways], but if they are not taught to respect adults and adhere to social as well as legal laws then what hope do we all have for the future? If the parents won’t discipline their out of control children then who can? Teachers and police officers were given this role forty or fifty years ago, with the ability to use corporal punishment within the classroom and the threat of a “clip around the earhole” from the local bobby but now it seems no one can touch the brats of society because of their “human rights?”

It seems to me as if adult’s human rights are slowly shifting from the adults to the children. Only this past week did Apple remove “overtly sexual apps” from their app store. Regardless of the content, why did Apple feel the need to do this? Because of some “do-gooders” sticking their noses in where they’re not wanted? I personally don’t purchase the type of apps that have been removed from the app store but I also think its against the consumer’s right to choose what they buy with their money. All apps that in possession of “adult content” should be labeled so and you agree if you are over the correct age limit if you want to purchase and use the app. So then, Apple are legally obliged to remove those apps, I agree but if an app is rated as adult then why should it be removed at all? If you are an adult then you are old enough to make the choice whether you want to buy an app with bouncing boobs or an app to show you naked men/women. So lets hazard a guess why these “do-gooders” complained.

CHILDREN!!!

Yes those little darlings are not only infringing on our adult human rights to respect and common courtesy in every day society, they are now infringing on adults’ decisions to buy whatever they like from Itunes App store. So how long will it be until those brat loving fools make Apple feel obliged to remove rated R movies or explicit music? This is the first step people to complete and utter censorship. Whether you like adult images/apps on your IPhone or IPod, shouldn’t it be your choice, as an adult? No one makes you buy any of the apps, you search and buy your own at your own discretion. So then, how is it fair that our society is again revolving around children who some of us don’t have. And if you as parents are worried about what your little darlings are buying on ITunes, use parental control or simpler still, DON’T BUY THEM A EXPENSIVE DEVICE THAT THEY COULD DOWNLOAD CONTENT ONTO!. Or better still, DON’T GIVE THEM YOUR CREDIT CARD DETAILS AND MONITOR WHAT THEY ARE BUYING! You’re the ones who had children, you be responsible for them. Don’t expect society to babysit them and raise them, that’s your job.

I’m getting ultimately tired of my life having to revolve around children and be disrespected by them and have to deal with their abuse when I don’t even have a child. Let society be about individuals and not the offspring of those who do not give a fuck about what their “little darlings” are doing. I have every respect for parents who bring their children up with manners and show them about respect and being a social being but after witnessing recent events and then hearing about Apple’s decision to remove content specific to adults, it just reinforces an anger amongst those of us who are trying to contribute positively toward society whilst others sit on their backsides, claiming benefits for their umpteen kids and not taking responsibility for them. If you can’t be assed to have a child, use something or abort it, but don’t let the rest of us suffer for your irresponsible attitudes. Get a job and stop bitching about adults wanting to be adults. If a guy wants to look at sexy naked women, let him, he’s not doing anyone any harm and if your 11 year-old child is talking to his friends about a show he saw on TV about sex, then that’s your problem for not ensuring he’s watching safe content. There’s a watershed in most countries and if not, then turn your television off and teach your child some respect.

People need to start taking responsibility for their own children and stop blaming companies or developers or television networks for the content they’re producing. You’re a parent, watch your child! Being a parent is about nurturing not just feeding and clothing, educate them, its not only down to their school to do that. Remember one thing, you wanted society to stop disciplining your children, now look at the state it is in, little respect, rude and anti-socialites, wow what a wonderful society we live in! Don’t you think?

My apple Mac

With all the choices on the computer market nowadays, the general consumer has more choice than ever before. However, as a visually impaired user, the only option I want to have is mac and Apple products. Here’s why.

On Thursday, I turned my trusty macbook 13 inch, 2008 model white onto to check my email and such to discover it wouldn’t boot beyond the apple logo and timer thing. I was so upset. I love my macbook so much, it recently travelled to the US with me and if I don’t take the time to at least boot it once a day, I’m sick.

Anyway, I called Apple care and booked an appointment to see an Apple genius the next day. The problem I next had was that I had to pull out my old sony Vaio laptop that runs Windows XP and has a version of Jaws for windows running on it. It wasn’t a prospect I was looking forward too, let me tell you. Nevertheless, I loaded it up and encountered twitter issues with the program I have running on that laptop, then had issues setting up my gmail account in outlook express, followed by issues with not only importing music to itunes but getting the damn program to work correctly for me. I was still fighting with Itunes at lunchtime when I left to go to my apple appointment.

I never realized how counter-intuitive windows was, and I missed my specialized features that voice over on the mac offers, such as spelling as I type. I missed hearing, “misspelled” which happens frequently when I’m typing a lot. Itunes was a complete nightmare, how anyone uses that program on windows with a screen reader is beyond me. And the screen reader itself frustrated me beyond belief, freezing on several occasions, jumping on others, it was just a nightmare I do not want to repeat.

Hasten to add, my macbook was fixed and is happily being used again. I know some people prefer windows but for me, it is mac all the way. snow Leopard can keep purring happily inside my pretty white macbook with voice over being its Captain. ☺

What’s going on? June 8th 2009

OK, I’m back with a few interesting topics to offer you guys.

First of all, let’s jump straight into the politics. The European elections were last week and unbelievably the British national Party claimed a seat. This actually sickens and disgusts me. And here are my reasons why.

The BNP stands for everything British. In theory this works nicely, protecting our crumpets, football and everything we treasure as British. What the BNP fail to tell their prospective voters is that they are a bunch of Fascist, bigamist, racist bunch of assholes who actually would give Hitler a run for his money. They sugar coat their discriminative policies by throwing up ideas of “British Jobs for British People” and “Keep the pound” that really cover up their idiotic and narrow minded policies of “get out the foreigners”, “If you’re not British you’re not welcome” and every other little stinking argument that comes along with the everything not British is not good.

Haven’t we advanced enough in time now to acknowledge that what was considered british a hundred years ago is not what is British now? Are we not now a member of the international cultural melting pot that merges ethnicities and cultures from all over the world, giving us a broader experience of the globe we all share. How many “Brits” can honestly date back their heritage to pure British blood lines? The queen is not British in their sense of the word, so will they chuck her out of the country too if they are placed in that dangerous throne of power? The royal family has had European blood in its midst for centuries and that would clue into me that it is not about where our ancestors are from but where we are from that should matter.

In the local news paper, I read last week that the BNP want two of the North west sporting stars to leave. Both were born here and raised here and by every legal sense of the word are “British” so why the hell should they leave? because one is from African descent and the other from Indian? Is that fair? And how far do these smart, [I use that word very loosely], politicians intend to date this heritage bloodline back? will there be more than a million people left throughout the UK? I very highly doubt that. I myself am a quarter Polish and resent the fact that some jumped up prick can tell me what I am and what I’m not. At twenty-five years old, I was born in England, raised here, attended the public school system, was put through the national health service, eat British food and regardless of my personal feelings about the country, resent the idea that I cannot be called “British” because my grandfather was Polish!

So now these wonderful and oh so clever people have gained a seat in the European parliament. And how? Because just as supposed smart individuals voted for them to be seated there. And why? They are anti-European in every sense of the word. They despise the fact that Europe and Britain have an open link to one another. Are these people that incredibly stupid that they cannot see we as an economy and industry would have gone under far earlier than the global recession without the European links? Can they honestly tell me that Britain would have survived without the cheap exportation to the continent, the influx of European travellers, and not to mention the abundance of workers sustaining our depleted workforce?

The BNP strives to inform us that so many British workers are out of jobs because of the European workers entering this country. The jobs were there before, did the British want them? No! As a society we are very childish. We don’t want something but as soon as someone else has it, jealousy kicks in.

The truth of the matter is, people from the continent are hard working and prepared to do that hard work. If the British are unable to match that determination, then I do not blame companies for hiring more skilled, more dedicated and hard working European workforces. You see lazy “British” workers dossing around the building sites all around our country. You’re telling me a good business man wants to see that? If he has any economic sense, I highly doubt it.

Society would suffer without the European connection too. The ability to travel visa free works well in our favour. Foreign travellers will come here and boost our tourist industry because they want to see our history and legacy and in turn our travel companies benefit while Brits sun themselves in Europe. So Mrs Jones down the street is not going to be very happy if the BNP come into power and take her Visa waver away and she has to splurge on visa costs on top of Tax, insurance and the price of her holiday, is she? These are the things that the BNP neglect to tell their idiotic voters while they’re bitching about how bad Europe is for the “British” people. You think the young people who want to jet off to Maliga for the summer or the family who want a quiet break in the sun are going to be too pleased if Nick Grifface gets his way and pulls the plug on Britain in Europe? I don’t think so. But those are the idiots who voted for this narrow minded party.

Let me just say this much, if they ever do come into power, I’d happily apply for asylum else where!

OK, so rant over about politics. Although that was quite a huge issue this week.
Our next topic is something that is ongoing right now. At this very moment, the WwDC is about to get under way where apple get a bunch of developers together and essentially show off their up and coming products. From an accessibility point of view, this is an interesting conference. Previously, accessibility has been brought up and increasingly, apple refers to its universal accessibility policy more and more, giving us an insight to what may be coming next.

Last year Apple announced especially the ipod nano that now supported the Mac OS10 voice over application enabling users to access their music freely on the ipod. Constantly, apple is aiming to increase accessibility alongside the mainstream.

This having been said, there are still a number of products that apple haven’t yet implemented into their universal accessibility. The popular products of the iphone and the ipod touch still are in no way accessible to the visually impaired, being made purely to function via touch screen. Many visually impaired users, seem to doubt that as VIs we will ever be able to access touch screen products. I on the other hand think this idea is actually rather preposterous. Touch screens already do exist and can be accessed by visually impaired individuals. Windows mobile devices along with mobile speak have already solved this problem to an extent and with apple’s genius and dedication to provide accessibility for all, I don’t doubt that the iphone and the touch will be accessible in years to come. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not this year, but definitely within my future.

So this brings me to a slight debate. Through reading twitter and seeing others responses, I have gathered there are essentially two camps. The camp where we are optimistic and have faith that the technology is actually out there and a company like Apple will indeed one day implement that technology into its products with no extra charge. Then there’s the pessimists that believe every product with a touch screen is in no way ever going to be accessible. There is nothing wrong with being in either camp. But I personally feel that the more of us willing to embrace the future and attempt to explore the possibilities, are more likely to get the results we desire. The world is moving forward and as people, we have to move with it. By fighting it, you are not going to prevent it from happening. So embracing it, and having faith in companies like Apple, who are seemingly proactive in making these technologies accessible to all, there should be no reason that we cannot all move forward together.

So let’s hope technology keeps improving and I’ll keep my eyes on twiter to get all the updates from WwDC. Hopefully there will be some accessibility news.

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