iPhones and Pc’s and Players Galore!

I’ve been asking myself this a lot lately: how many devices are enough? Am I in danger of becoming so absorbed in all of this stuff that I float through every day without any interaction with the people around me?
It’s amazing to think about how much this has changed over the last 10 years. Serotalk did an April Fools day podcast recently where they acted as if they were doing a show from 2003. One of the most notable things about that show is that Apple products were pretty much inaccessible to people who are blind. That company somehow went from practically nonexistent to taking the lead in bringing usability to mainstream technology. I’m not sure how or why they began that transition, but even though all of my products are not of their line, I still very much appreciate Apple’s actions.
Even as I watched many of my blind peers venture more fully into the touch screen environment, I still chose to just stick with my Windows computer and barely functional SamSung Haven cell phone. I just couldn’t imagine how I might be able to figure out an iPhone when there were only a couple of buttons on the thing.
I was finally propeled over the abyss by the offer, shortly after my birthday in mid September, of a free iPhone 4. I said to myself “Well if I don’t have to pay for it up front, I can feel more comfortable experimenting with something that I might not actually like.”
And admittedly I hadn’t cared for it all that much for those first couple of weeks. However, as I went on living out in the very small town of Pinebluff, North Carolina where I couldn’t access many other services, I grew fairly quickly to appreciate that phone. It served as my Internet link to the outside world, and definitely helped me to secure everything that I would need to make the move to Durham.
Now that I am back out here though and have a computer, my NLS digital talking player with another amazingly small flash drive, I’m trying to determine the best way to integrate all of these pieces of technology in such a way that I feel will benefit, and not overwhelm, me. I supose realistically, they all have their uses.
As the Serotalk podcast folks pointed out, there was a tie when we had to lug around a laptop with an attached receiver if we wanted to use GPS. And this equipment could easily cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
Now though, all I need to do at least basic GPS locating is a $5 iPhone app. That’s right, I used Ariadne GPS, a VoiceOver friendly program, to steer me to my apartment complex’s leasing office this past Friday. It doesn’t give navigational directions, but by saving the office as a favorite in the addresses, I was able to find it as if it had a sort of beacon on its roof. I just kept zoning in closer and closer until there it was.
And as a quick aside, I should point out that there have been two excellent, free, picture-taking apps introduced to help visually impaired people identify products. The first, Tap Tap See, allows you to take a quick shot of something and gives feedback about color, composition, and likely type of material. The second, Cam Find, tells what the product probably is, but also it conducts a Google-like search of similar images to help one note where online other things like it could be purchased or to do a price comparison. I’m enjoying these thus far, as they give me a better sense of what my clothing looks like, cut down on guesswork as I select something to have for dinner, and the like.
As with everything else over the past six months or so, I had been purchasing iBooks on the phone. Now that I have access to my player again, I will make extensive use of the BARD service and read many more books and magazines than I could have otherwise. It should make those commutes full of snoring passengers that much pleasanter, and hopefully won’t result in my ignoring the time for hopping off of that bus in the process.
And of course even as I often point out the somewhat antiquated status of my Windows computer, I can’t deny the ease with which I am able to write on here, even compared with the iPhone and apps such as Flexy that do greatly improve my typing ability therein. I am beginning to assemble the pieces that I hope will help me design a career path, more on which I will be writing shortly.
So how do you do it, with your iPad, iPod, iPhone, computer, entertainment system, and goodness knows what else? Do you ever feel overstimulated by all of this stuff?

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