Volume 1 Issue 8
Greetings from the Editor
Movers and Shakers
Have I Got A Story For You
The Braille Highway
Kaleidoscope of Krafts
Computer Tech 101
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Greetings from the Editor
By Karen Santiago
I would like to thank all the people who have shown interest in submitting their own personal stories for our International Perspective. This is a very popular and interesting segment of our newsletter. I encourage those of you from countries we have not yet covered, to send in your stories as well.
I can’t say enough how grateful I am for our wonderful writers that contribute each and every month to The Blind Perspective Newsletter. They are what makes this newsletter so interesting, informative, and entertaining. A big THANKS to each of you for the fantastic articles you create.
We at The Blind Perspective are going to be seeking the assistants of a distribution service. This will allow us to send the newsletter to you more efficiently and also be able to send out notices as well as embedding the actual newsletter directly in to the email. So in the next week or so you will be receiving an email from groups.io asking you to confirm that you are wanting to join The Blind Perspective�s group. All you are needing to do is to access your email�s reply feature and send it back. It is as easy as that and then you will be receiving the monthly newsletter as before.
Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause! If you are needing any help please do not hesitate to contact us at info@…
Movers & Shakers
By Karen Santiago
I had the pleasure of interviewing our very own Cheryl Spencer. You may know her as the author of Spencer�s Spotlight for The Blind Perspective. She is quite knowledgeable about accessible devices, but she also knows a thing or two about guide horses. And, you may ask why this is? Well she is the proud owner of Confetti, her miniature guide horse.
Going back a bit, Cheryl had had two previous German Shepard guide dogs, Tammy and Delta. After losing Delta she had decided that she didn�t want another guide dog. It was a very emotional time after losing her, �the best dog ever,� Cheryl said. Going back to using her cane she realized that her cane skills were not that great.
It was Cheryl�s sister and husband who first learned about miniature guide horses from an article they had read. Chris, her husband, read the article to Cheryl, and that peeked her interest. The process that Chris and Cheryl went through to obtain and train Confetti was a very long, tiresome, emotional, and frustrating one. There are many twists, turns, ups, and downs that they experienced. I have listed the major events leading up to Cheryl becoming the first owner trained guide horse.The Beginning:
*May 2001: Cheryl was On the Guide Hoarse Foundation list at #74; she didn�t want to wait that long
*They recommended her to find her own trainer, and they gave her a list of training details and what was needed in the field intelligence test
*After many failed attempts and just over one year, it was Chris� coworker�s daughter who was taking riding lessons from a horse trainer
* Debbie King was looking for a Community Service Project, so she agreed to train the horse
*June – July 2002; Searching via the internet and local horse related places: one hit from JBR Ranch in Christmas, FL
*Debbie did the field intelligence on Confetti, she passed with flying colors
Not so Quick:
*The ranch wanted $3,000 for confetti; Chris and Cheryl did not have that kind of money
*After many letters and talks the ranch accepted a gracious offer of a $3,000 tax write off from the Jacksonville Council of the Blind
Oh No, Here We Go Again:
*After 2 � months of training Debbie quit
*Contract with the ranch stated complete training or Confetti must be returned to the ranch
*Looking all over again, local news station did a story on Cheryl and Confetti
*March 2003; Gail Ray of Anthony, FL called and became the new trainer
This simple list of steps they had to endure in order to get a trainer and Confetti, does not touch the pure emotional roller coaster they had to experience. While Cheryl was telling me the story in detail, I could hear how she was heartbroken, overwhelmed, saddened, relieved, and extremely happy.
I asked Cheryl if there have been any challenges with Confetti. She and her husband initially thought that they would be faced with many access issues. But it was just the opposite. There was just one time at a small pizza shop. The owner didn�t say that they couldn�t come in, he requested that they not come in due to the small size and large crowd. Both Chris and Cheryl agreed with the owner. Cheryl added that she thinks that people are more afraid of dogs than horses, and that may be a reason while sometimes access is denied for guide dog users.
Ironically, when Cheryl started this adventure in May of 2001, call it coincidence or not, that is when Confetti was born. JBR Princess Confetti, her full name, was born on the JBR Ranch in Christmas, Florida on May 10, 2001. She is a Leopard Appaloosa Miniature Horse.
Confetti was bred to be a show horse. She may be a guide horse, but she sure knows how to flaunt her stuff! She stands 29 � inches from her whither (s shoulders), and weighs 185 pounds. She is 30 inches from her chest to her tail. Confetti�s base coat is white with different size Carmel spots. She has a red tail and her forelock is red as well. Her mane is white. From her knees down is red.
She really looks like one of those horses you see on a merry go round. She is definitely a crowd stopper Cheryl says. Which led me to ask her what are the pros to having a guide horse as to having a guide dog? Cheryl, without hesitation said that she, that being Confetti, is popular. She went on to add that the cons of having a guide horse as oppose to a guide dog is that once again, she is popular.
Confetti wears a halster in place of a collar. She has reigns instead of a leash. Her harness is similar to a guide dog�s harness. Other than it being larger, it has a V cut out where the bone sticks out from her withers. She is seen by a local vet to maintain her health. A farrier takes care of her hooves. And, she also has her own dentist to care for her teeth and an overbite.
Confetti has traveled by car, minivan, cruise ship, and plane. Cheryl and Chris made modifications to their minivan for Confetti. They had the passenger back seat removed. Confetti jumps in and stands in the center of the van with her head between the driver and the front passenger. She can stand in a car too. She has been a passenger in a Honda Prelude, by just standing parallel to the front seats. As you can imagine, Confetti prefers the minivan over any car.
Confetti sleeping quarters are in a closet. Actually Confetti stands in the center area doorway of a pass through closet. This is also her safe place. She will go there when she knows she has done something wrong. Usually Confetti will stand, but in this area she will lie down if she feels like it. When she dreams she can be heard neighing or whinnying, and her hooves are moving too!
Confetti eats forage feed. This is comprised of compressed hay with the added nutrients that are good for her to maintain maximum health. Also, Confetti will not give up a nice field of grass or vegetables. Her all time favorite are bananas. Like a child, she too likes snacks. At the time of this interview, Fig Newtons are on the top of her list. Some other things she likes to eat are, mints, candy, crackers, and whatever may be in your pocket.
You may have heard of a doggy door, and yes, Cheryl has a horse door for Confetti. This allows Confetti to access the yard as needed. Cheryl also has three cats. Confetti and all of the cats do get along. Cheryl says that they chase each other around while outside.
I would like to conclude this article with a few Funny jokes and stories Cheryl shared with me about Confetti while out in public.
*We have to give Confetti cough syrup because she is a little hoarse.
*We can’t play hide and seek with Confetti because she is always spotted.
*Confetti is always clean but she is never spotless.
*Funny- While traveling on a plane with Confetti, Cheryl heard a man say, �I haven�t even had a drink and I am seeing a horse on a plane.�
Cute-*While in a checkout line at the grocery store, Cheryl overheard the following exchange between a little girl and her mother.
Girl; Mommy, I know what kind of horse that is.
Mom; What kind sweetie?
Girl; It is a Dalmatian horse.
*Humor- Sometimes Cheryl, and her late husband would have fun with curious people. For example, when in a store a young boy while pointing to Confetti, asked if it was real. Either Chris or Cheryl would simply replied, �No actually she has a slot on her side and when you put a quarter in it she will go another 30 minutes.�
And to this, the boy called out to his mother, �Can I have a quarter?�
*Interesting- A comment from a shopper a she walks around the corner and sees Confetti. �That�s an interesting way of getting around �no dogs allowed.�
*Educational- Again while in a store with Confetti, a dad asks if his two girls could pet Confetti. Of course, Cheryl says yes. While his girls happily pet Confetti the dad says, �You�re making the best of your situation and you are also bringing other people joy.�
If you would like to read more about Cheryl and Confetti all you need to do is google, �guide horse Confetti in Florida�, there is a lot of material written about the pair. My thanks to Cheryl for allowing me to interview her about the struggles and successes of getting her guide horse, Confetti.
By Victor Chan
Back in the 1960s, Hong Kong, as a British colony, was under a �laissez-faire� system. The Government provided very little social services to the public and hardly any to the blind and visually impaired children. For the blind and severe visually impaired ones who were over the age of 16, they could seek assistance from Hong Kong Society for the Blind. The organization was founded in 1956 and has become the principal, government subsidized, voluntary organization in Hong Kong that provided basic training in mobility and job skills.
The employment training was done at the Factory for the Blind. The factory was established in 1963 and since then had provided blind and disabled workers with sheltered employment. Initially, the factory had two main sectors– Paper and corrugated carton Box Section and Sewing Section. The sewing section manufactured all kinds of industrial and school uniforms such as overalls, T-shirts, coats, windbreakers, caps, etc.
As far as education was concerned, there was no compulsory education requirement nor any restriction on child labor in Hong Kong at that time. There were certain amount of sighted children, mainly from low-income families, that did not attend school. One might imagine how low the priority was for the government to assist the visually impaired children to be educated.
Of course, I intend to give this story a very happy ending. In 1971, the government passed the 9-year compulsory education law. In the 1980s, the government had gradually provided and increased assistance to the senior citizens, children, and the disabled. Then, since 1997, Hong Kong has no longer been a British colony. The newly formed �independent government� still preferred Hong Kong Society for the Blind to be the provider of services to the visually impaired. With the increase in government financial subsidies by then, a boarding blind school had been established. However, the school emphasizes more on training masseurs in traditional Chinese acupressure and massage rather than academic achievement. Also, the blind community has adapted to the white cane rather than the traditional red walking stick which is not foldable. Finally, the Blind Factory had increased its product lines and service area. For example, it has established a few call centers to provide out-Source services to the business community. Along with the expansion, more visually impaired persons have gained employment and independence in Hong Kong.
One area Hong Kong lack�s way behind in is the Guide dog service. With a visually-impaired population of roughly 170,000, Hong Kong has only 30 guide dogs – 14 of which have been trained or are still undergoing training by the group. Out of these 14 dogs, just four are currently being used. But there is high hopes in this area. Just in early July of this year, a new guide dog training center has opened. Before then, the group has trained puppies without a permanent base.
Puppies are brought to Hong Kong when they are just a few months old and placed with foster families – which the center screens carefully, then the puppies will have to pass a health test and an emotional test, before formal guide dog training commences. Training usually lasts between six and nine months, after which the dogs will be matched with owners, followed by 28 days of “matching training”. Training begins in the streets for the dogs. First they are train in the quieter places like parks, then slowly to noisier and more crowded areas. Hong Kong has unique environments like wet markets. The smells of slaughtered pigs and meat will take training, but it is possible for the dog to get used to. Usually the guide dog will stay with the same owner for life.
By Lawrence MacLellan
Hello everybody, this month I would like to talk about free will or the freedom to choose.
Last year a good friend was diagnosed with cancer and his outcome wasn�t good. He was given a particular type of chemo that targets just the cancer cells and it worked well. They told him that it was a temporary fix and the cancer would come back.
At this point he wasn�t interested in changing his diet or his lifestyle. He said that he was going to continue to live the way he had been. He had an opportunity to clean up his diet, stop drinking beer, and really get healthy and get a chance to live. However, he chose to not do that. The cancer is back and it�s real bad.
We have the freedom to choose our future; to continue to eat bad foods, to drink alcohol, to smoke, to not get enough sleep, to not exercise, and to carry around lots of extra weight. That is your choice and that is your right to do so. Furthermore, nobody has the right to take that away from you. I don�t understand why someone would do this, but it is their choice.
Being blind can add to our challenges, and I hope that the reason, if you are not taking care of yourself, is because of your blindness. We can set limitations on our self and some of these limitations can be a result of poor health. It is easy to say that my food, my drink, and staying up late are my only pleasures in life. But ask yourself: Is that because of your blindness?
I will keep this article short this month and say in closing, �Don�t let your blindness be the reason for your poor health. Don�t let blindness be an excuse.�
In the past year I have given lots of ways to stay healthy, go back to the back issues and read them if you choose. It�s your choice but please don�t let blindness be the reason for your poor health.
Have I Got A Story For You
By Carla Jo Bratton
Greetings fellow book lovers, Here in Texas we are hitting triple digit temps. What better way to spend a hot afternoon but in the air conditioning with a good book. I have two for you this month. One nonfiction and one fiction. So read on!Trauma Junkie; Memoirs of an emergency flight nurse
Written by Janice Hudson
Reading time; 7 hours and 24 minutes
Read by Margaret Strom
Emergency room nurse describes her career with the California Shock/Trauma Air Rescue service in the San Francisco Bay area. Provides anecdotes of the helicopter crews’ varied missions during earthquakes, forest fires, shark attacks, and multiple highway and shooting incidents. Violence and strong language. 2001My comments;
This is a very high energy book. When she started telling about the earthquake that hit San Francisco during the world series baseball game, I got chills. I have never read any accounts of a flight nurse and it was very interesting.The Secret Wisdom of the Earth
Written by Chris Scotton
Reading time; 13 hours and 34 minutes
Read by Robert Petkoff
After witnessing the death of his younger brother in a terrible home accident, 14-year-old Kevin and his grieving mother are sent for the summer to live with Kevin’s grandfather. In this peeled-paint coal town deep in Appalachia, Kevin quickly falls in with a half-wild hollow kid named Buzzy Fink who schools him in the mysteries and magnificence of the woods. The events of this fateful summer will affect the entire town of Medgar, Kentucky.
Medgar is beset by a massive Mountaintop Removal operation that is blowing up the hills and back filling the hollows. Kevin’s grandfather and others in town attempt to rally the citizens against the “company” and its powerful owner to stop the plunder of their mountain heritage. When Buzzy witnesses the brutal murder of the opposition leader, a sequence is set in play which tests Buzzy and Kevin to their absolute limits in an epic struggle for survival in the Kentucky mountains.
Redemptive and emotionally resonant, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is narrated by an adult Kevin looking back on the summer when he sloughed the coverings of a boy and took his first faltering steps as a man among a rich cast of characters and an ambitious effort to reclaim a once great community.My comments;
This is Chris Scotton�s first book. I will be reading anything else that he writes. A moving, beautiful, and heartbreaking coming of age story. This is one of those books that will stay with you for a long time. A wonderful read.Happy reading,
The Braille Highway
By Nat Armeni
Hello to everyone out there and I wish you all a brailliant day!! Ok, I know that was kind of corny but I could not resist. In this month�s article I will touch on a couple of things, of course, all within the subject of braille. I do appreciate all the emails I receive from readers and I would like to invite any and all comments regarding braille. Just send me an email and you never know if your subject becomes a future article. Do not worry, I will give credit where credit is due.
I really became attached to my Rolodex that I bought at a local office supply store. I made a few minor adjustments and presto it became blind friendly. On the card stocks that had a tab I brailled out the alphabet on dymo tape and labelled each section with its own letter. In this particular model of Rolodex the stock paper is thick enough at least 80 pounds stock, which allows for the braille to remain clear and legible. I was also able to buy a refill pack of the paper that goes in the Rolodex.
Another way to create a phone directory without going out and spending lots of money is to take a little binder and make your own phone directory. First you need to create the tabs for each letter. So, determine how far out you want the tabs to be and cut the dymo tape appropriately. Then take the cut down size dimo tape and place it in to a slate and emboss the letter. Then remove the backing and bend over the tab making sure for each end not to touch otherwise good luck ripping that back apart. Position it on the page of course, with the A being right at the top of the page. Then with each subsequent letter, go a bit further down on the next page so that the tabs can be read and selected to get to the correct letter. Staying with making the most of the paper and minimizing waste, I would put the first name of each letter on the page that has the tab. I would stick to 1 name per page so it goes without saying, to use as small as possible binder so that you can maximize the space you use on each page for each entry.
In my home base braille production company I use Duxbury System�s transcription software. I love all the features and the ease with which I can prepare a document for braille production. There is a software that is free and is great for electronic braille. It is called Perky Ducks. Just enter that name in to your favorite Web searching software and I am sure you will find it. So you can create your document with a Perkins braille writer 6 key entry. Then you can do one of 2 things with that electronic braille document. You can send it to your braille embosser if you happen to be fortunate enough to have access to one. Otherwise, you can email it to a braille reader who has either access to an embosser or a braille display. Thus, enabling the person to read your document.
Online education offered by The Hadley School for the Blind allows for many course assignments to be submitted by electronic braile format. You may be thinking how can I proofread my work if all I am using is a screen reader. At least with JAWS, it reads the braile as if it is print. I cannot speak for any other screen readers out there. By submitting one�s braille courses via electronic braille it makes taking the course easier and more cost effective. First of all you do not spend money on braille paper. There is also the extra head ache of the time it takes for the postal system to deliver the assignment to your instructor. The less turnaround time equals speedier completion of the course.
I cannot put in to words on how braille has influenced my life in a very positive way. I would like to extend an invitation to all of you who read The Braille Highway to email me your favorite braille stories. Perhaps you can share how braille has effected your quality of life. It can be as little as the braille on your measuring cups or spoons that enable you to cook that special meal. Maybe tell about the time you inconspicuously read your braille watch during a boring meeting or class. You may have a fun story about the time you played a card or board game with your sighted peers. I will take all your opinions and/or stories and may even put some quotes in the September newsletter. This will allow me, as well as fellow readers to have a better sampling of the opinions out there in the big world. Finally, remember to stay on the dotted road of life!
Kaleidoscope of Krafts
By Lindy van der Merwe
For this month, we will be folding a CD or DVD case or cover from one sheet of rectangular paper without using glue.
One of the best sites for info on everything origami is at http://www.origami-resource-center.com.It has a lot of info about the different types of origami that is out there and from the site you can follow links to a lot of other origami sites across the Internet.
Here is what it says on the page listing various CD covers. “CD covers are a necessity for those who buy CDs in bulk. Instead of spending more money on CD sleeves and jewel cases, why not make your own CD covers? The sleeves can be folded from letter-size paper or from A4- paper. Some of the designs are easy to fold and make very functional CD covers. These take a bit of time to make but are beautiful and certainly one-of-a-kind. Fold them for yourself or fold them for a friend. Use recycled paper or decorative paper. Either way, it’s a good thing. … “
The cover we will be folding is loosely based on a design called the Connelly CD case, described at http://bbq.sourceforge.net/conncase/.At the top of the page, it says: “The Connelly Case – Low Cost Alternative To CD Jewel Cases.� From the above, it seems making your own CD or DVD sleeves might not only be fun, but you could be saving and recycling in the process as well. I have made a few changes to the folding method, hence I am saying that the cover is only based on the Connelly case, but I think that the end result is fairly close to what is described on the page mentioned above.So, if you have your CD and some rectangular paper ready, we will get started.
Description: This is a simple, flat, CD case or cover. Once folded, it will enclose a standard CD on both sides. It is fairly secure. It closes by sliding a smaller flap into the large back flap of the CD case.
Unlike with some other CD cover models, I love the fact that this cover has a closing flap, and that it is not too difficult to open and close.
This CD case is a good alternative to plastic CD cases or sleeves, both in terms of saving cost and saving space. It is, of course, not as durable as plastic cases or sleeves, but it will keep your CDs safe on a temporary basis and it can be embellished and personalized to present a special CD to a special person in your life.
Furthermore, paper is an excellent surface to write on in print or in braille, thus making it a practical choice to help with the identification and organization of your collection. You could write on a print or braille sticker before placing it onto the CD case.
This model is also an excellent example of a folded paper pocket or pouch. It can be used in scrap books, on top of gifts, for enclosing cards, notes, money, photos, any small, flat object. The model is quite secure as long as you do not fill it with things that are heavy or bulky. It is a good option to teach to children. After folding the model, it can be marked and/or decorated as part of any occasion or just for fun.
If using two-sided paper, lay your paper with the patterned or colored side down before starting to fold.
Step 1: Place a rectangular piece of paper down on a hard, flat surface, with the short edges at the top and bottom and the long edges at the left and right, or in the portrait orientation.
Step 2: Place your CD down on your paper, about an inch from the bottom edge and at the vertical center, meaning there should be the same amount of paper open to the left and right of the CD. Try to hold the CD in place as best as you can for the next step.
Step 3: Working with the inch of paper you have open at the bottom of your sheet, fold over the entire bottom edge of the paper, so it covers some of the bottom part of the CD. Crease well along the bottom edge of the paper and leave folded. Except for the CD, you do not have any line to guide you here, but just do the best you can, checking your fold on both sides as far as possible. After practicing this fold a few times you will be able to make a nice, straight bottom fold. What I sometimes do is to sort of roll the paper over and only make a light fold at the vertical center of the sheet. I then use both hands to measure the fold on the sides of the paper, maneuvering the paper until I think that it is straight. Then I run my fingers along the folded edge in a swift motion to gauge how straight the fold might be, making small adjustments if necessary. Only when I am satisfied with my fold do I press down firmly to make the final crease. This technique is not recommended for producing neat, crisp folds, but it works very well for when you are still practicing to fold a model.
Step 4: Next, fold the entire long, left edge of the paper in over the CD, using the same technique as in the previous step. Try to make the fold so the CD has some space to move within the case. This will make it easier to remove and place back in the cover once it has been completed.
Step 5: Repeat Step 4 with the right long edge of the paper, once again folding it in, but leaving a little space for the CD to move within the CD case. Your CD will now be enclosed by narrow bands or folds on three sides.
Step 6: Using the already folded sides and the CD itself as a guide, fold down the top edge of the paper as far as it will go so it now covers your CD entirely. Crease well along the top edge of the paper and leave folded. The last two steps that follow, are important, because, in my view, they turn this model into an actual usable object, as opposed to just folding a piece of paper over a CD.
Step 7: Turn over the CD case like turning the page of a book. You will notice that a small flap has formed at the bottom of the CD cover. Fold this small flap up as far as it will go and crease well along the bottom edge of the paper.
Step 8: Lastly, unfold the small flap again and tuck it into the large flap that is forming the back of the CD case to close your CD cover. To open, turn the case so that the small flap is at the top and back of your CD cover. Hold the CD case lightly in the palm of your hand near its bottom. Open the small top flap and pull out the CD and press the case closed again.
If your finished cover is not to your liking, try to fold another now that you know the sequence of steps. Once you have mastered the basic folding sequence, you will be able to concentrate on making your folds neat and crisp, which will improve how the finished cover will look.
If you would like to make a lot of covers or you would like to fold this design on a regular basis, consider having someone cut a template for you out of card board. The template should be cut so it is just slightly larger than a CD with straight sides. In this way you will be able to make straight folds, especially for the first steps of the project and your CD cover will end up the same size each time.
By Cheryl Spencer
In this age of modern technology and gadgets of all kinds that do all manner of chores for us, this month’s spotlight is going to shine on something so basic and so low tech but oh so useful.
It is a timer with a dial that can be turned to braille markings all around the face of the timer.
*There is a braille dot for every 2 and 1/2 minutes, 2 dots marking at every five minutes intervals, and 3 dots mark the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions.
*Just turn the dial to the desired length of time and you can hear a clock like ticking as the time counts down to zero.
*A quiet audible ring can be heard when the timer is done. It only rings once so keep it close to you so you will be sure to hear it.
*It is small and fits on a stove or counter wherever you happen to need a timer.
I saw this little gem at the Independent Living Aids booth in Orlando Florida during the NFB national convention.
For under $15.00 it does not need to be charged, nor does it need batteries. It is just good to know with all these high tech solutions, we can still find ways to keep it simple sweetie.
Computer Tech 101
By Jim Morgan
I believe it was Bob Dylan that sang about how �the times they are a changin��. He couldn�t have been more right if he meant the way we store information these days. We�ve come a LONG way from the original 8� floppy disk. I thought, based on a question I was recently asked by a couple of people and an Idea I was given by a reader, that we�d talk about Storage this time and how Audio and video have changed next time. Just as an aside, I find suggestions for topics VERY helpful since that means I don�t have to strain my little brain to come up with a topic that you all might find interesting. So, PLEASE don�t hesitate to send me a suggestion if one comes to mind.
Let�s start with a little history. The original floppy disks, from 8� to 3.5� (I know that the 3.5� weren�t floppy but they were called that anyway) would hold between 180 Kilobytes (K) to 1.44 Megabytes (MB). To give some comparison to today, the most widely used storage medium today with the smallest capacity, the CD-ROM, which means Compact Disc � Read Only Memory in case you�re interested, holds 720 MB. In other words, that�s the equivalent of 501 3.5� disks, the largest capacity of the floppy disks. The same dramatic increase is true of Hard Drives. In 1984/1985 when the hard drive for a PC/Mac was invented, the capacities were between 10 and 20 MB. Compare that to the 1 – 3 Terabyte (TB) drives available today keeping in mind that a Terabyte is 1,000 Gigabytes (GB) which is 1,000 MB. In other words, today�s hard drives have between 100,000 to 300,000 times the capacities of the first hard drives. In addition, costs have come down greatly. In 1989/1990, a 1.5 GB drive cost a whopping $1,200.00 to $1,500.00 which translates to approximately $.80 to $1.00 per MB. Today, a 2 TB drive averages at about $80.00 which translates to about $.04 per GB or $.0004 per MB. That right there should show how far we�ve come. In addition, the speed at which information is accessed has similarly increased. Hard Drives, Floppy Disks, CD-ROM�s, etc. use what is known as random access. What this means is that, unlike magnetic tape which is sequential access, you don�t have to start at the beginning of the disk and run through it every time you need to get to a particular file; it goes directly to the file in question courtesy of the File Allocation Table (FAT) I mentioned in a previous article. The speed of a drive is measured by both the RPM, or Rate Per Minute, again for those who don�t know, that the drive is spinning at and the Seek Time. You�ll recall from a previous article that a Hard Drive is similar to a vinyl record player so the faster it spins, the faster it can get to things. In 1984/1985, most Hard Drives were spinning at around 6,000 RPM. Today, most traditional Hard Drives spin between 7,200 and 8,000 RPM. In addition, there is the Seek Time. This is a figure that is an average of how long it actually takes to access files. This is one of the statistics given on a Hard Drive in addition to it�s capacity and RPM speed and is measured in nanoseconds. A nanosecond is 1/1 billionth of a second and, believe it or not, most Seek times are in 1/100th of a nanosecond. If my memory serves, those first Hard Drives were somewhere in the .8 to 1.2 nanosecond Seek time. Today, again, if memory serves, it�s more like .45 to .65 nanoseconds. Please don�t quote me on those Seek time figures; I�m going by memory and could be VERY much mistaken on the figures. What is true, regardless, is that RPM speeds and capacities have greatly increased and costs and Seek times have greatly decreased.
In addition to those increases and decreases, there are new mediums for storage. The problem with both floppy disks and hard drives is that they use magnetism to store information and are, therefore, susceptible to corruption and flat out destruction if they get too close to a strong magnetic field, such as a stereo speaker. CD-ROM�s don�t suffer from this problem, but once they are written, the information can�t be changed or overwritten. Now I know that those of you out there that are tech-savvy are saying �what about CD-RW�s?� While it is true that a CD-RW, which stands for Compact Disc � Rewritable for those who were curious, can only be rewritten a maximum of 1,000 times and is still somewhat vulnerable to magnetic fields. So, with this in mind we now have the Solid State Drive, or SSD. We all know SSD�s as Flash, or Thumb, Drives and the cartridges those of us in the Talking Books program get from the Library these days. Also, that�s what�s in your smartphone, digital camera, Victor Readerstream, and tablets since they are too small to hold a traditional hard drive. The beauty of SSD�s is that they are just as writable and flexible (no pun intended) as a floppy disk, have the capacities of traditional hard drives, and aren�t susceptible to magnetic fields. To my knowledge SSD�s, in one form or another, are available in sizes from 1 GB, which you really don�t see anymore but are still out there, like the cartridges from the Library, to 128 GB. This is not to say that they aren�t vulnerable to a strong enough magnetic field, such as an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) like you�d get from a nuclear detonation. They, like any other electronics, would be destroyed, but you can have them around most other magnetic fields without concern. I once saw a friend of mine put a Flash Drive practically on the 12� Woofer of a stereo speaker with the volume at a level so that you could actually see the Woofer and Tweeter vibrating and it didn�t do a thing to the drive. A floppy disk, or Hard drive for that matter, would have been so corrupted by this action as to defy description but the Flash Drive didn�t even �blink�. My understanding is that, as time goes on, more and more storage will be in the form of high capacity SSD�s and traditional hard drives will eventually disappear except in older computers and the �extras� that some of us keep around; it will be just like what happened to vinyl records and audio/video tape. The same has been said about CD�s and CD-ROM�s, but I believe they�ll be with us until something better comes along which I don�t think will be in the near future.
Another way we store things is by using �the Cloud�. I�ve had a number of people ask me what that is and, to put it simply, it�s just off site storage that one accesses through the Internet. That�s what Dropbox, for those of us who use it, is as well as the Music and Video storage we all have if you buy any Digital Music or Videos from Amazon or I-Tunes. Also, in a way, BARD, or Braille and Audio Recording Download in case you were wondering what it stood for, that a number of us use to download books for our Digital Players and Victor Readerstreams is a form of Cloud. Now, on the other end, it�s just simply hard drives that are used and one is given access through the Internet instead of a direct physical connection. The thing that makes it so innovative is the fact that one is given a �piece� of storage for their use and its �secured�, usually by login and/or password, so that only authorized people can get into it. The great thing about this is that the storage is reasonably secure, although I�m not sure I�d put sensitive things like files with a Social Security Number, password, or banking information into them, they�re still pretty useful and they are nowhere physically near nor connected to your computer. In other words, you could lose your entire system in a fire, tornado, hurricane, or other �natural disaster�, as well as fatal power surges and anything else that destroys your computer, and your data would be both safe and accessible from other locations. Cloud Drives have become somewhat popular of late since file sizes are starting to routinely exceed the 10 MB limit imposed on most E-mail attachments as well as the portability of computers increasing greatly with the advent of the tablet and smartphone. In fact, a large number of Websites today use a form of a Cloud to allow users to download documents and other files with relative ease. What this should show you is that storage is decreasing in size and cost while increasing in capacity, speed, accessibility, and dependability. I think it�s going to be really interesting to see what comes in the future. To quote Tommy Lee Jones from �Men in Black�, �1500 Years ago Everybody KNEW that the Earth was the center of the Universe, 500 Years ago Everybody KNEW that the Earth was flat, and 15 minutes ago YOU knew that humans were alone on this planet; imagine what you�ll know tomorrow.� Won�t it be great to see where that imagination takes us? Happy Computing and we�ll talk about other media next time.
Fall is on the horizon but here is a yummy side dish for your final outdoor parties, or great to bring to a gathering.Tortellini Salad
1/2 pound spinach tortellini, cooked, drained
1/2 pound cheese tortellini, cooked, drained
1/2 pound broccoli flowerets, cooked, drained
1/2 pound carrots, sliced, cooked, drained
1 medium leek, sliced, blanched
1 large red or green bell pepper, cut in strips
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Parsley, for garnish, optional
Cook tortellini according to package directions. Set aside to cool.
Combine tortellini, broccoli, carrots, and leek in large bowl.
Add bell pepper, tomatoes, and basil. Toss thoroughly.
To make dressing, blend mayonnaise, lemon peel, thyme, salt and pepper.
Add to tortellini salad, toss well.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired.
Makes 4 servings.
For a lighter dressing use your favorite store bought or homemade Italian dressing.
By Alex Smart
What kind of room has no doors or windows?Anser to July’s riddle
What gets wetter and wetter the more it dries?
By Alex Smart
Think of a seven letter word that contains two S�s in a row, drop the two s�s to get a 5 letter word meaning the same thing as the original 7 letter word. What is it?
Hint: the letter that both preceeds and follows the s�s is the same.Answers to July’s brain buster
*An old saying, they may break your bones: sticks & stones
*The American flag:stars and stripes
*Tortoise�s motto for winning the race: slow and steady
*Basic quick lunch(2 answers): soup and salad/soup and sanwich
*Extremely clean: spic and span
iOS 9 coming this fall!
By La Moine Williams
This September Apple will be releasing iOS 9. The upgrade will come packed with new and exciting features, some of which we have never seen before on our iOS devices. The new operating system will run on iPhone4s to 6, iPad, and iPod Touch. The system will also provide solutions for longer battery life and will implement more intelligent search options as well.
One of the highly anticipated features of iOS 9 is its proactive suggestions. This feature will really transform the iPhone into an even more capable tool. Picture your iPhone actually paying attention to your personal habits and taking notes, so it can suggest things you will like in the future! That is exactly what this new feature is all about. Siri will also have more features and be able to complete difficult tasks more quickly, and effectively than before.
Your personal assistant Siri is now powered by contextual awareness. This means that when you ask Siri to help remind you to call your mother when you get home, it will do just that! Siri will also be able to perform time, date, and location based searches. For example if you wanted to get photos or videos from a certain month you would just ask, and they pop up in the photo app. Siri will also be able to add events to your calendar from your email and text messages.
In iOS 9 Apple also put focus towards prolonging battery life. Now the life of your battery has gained one additional hour before needing a recharge under normal conditions. With ambient light and proximity sensors, the iPhone knows if it is face down on a table or in your pocket. This prevents the screen from turning on even if you get a notification. A new low power mode is available, allowing you to extend your battery life even more.
Another huge new development is the maps app. Now you can get directions even when using public transportation! This means that you can now get directions to a destination using multiple transportation options. Siri will also be able to deliver transit directions. However these options will be limited to certain cities when iOS launches this fall.
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