Technophobia

Today’s topic for Sadje’s Sunday Poser is tech-phobia. Sadje describes having been encouraged to learn Linux for a while and having had a Macbook sitting around for several months now too, but both intimidate her. She asks us, and specifies that her question may be more relevant to those of us who didn’t grow up with modern tech, whether we’re tech-phobic.

I grew up with computers and got an Internet connection when I was fifteen. That’s relatively late for someone my age, but I attribute that to the fact that I’m blind. After all, my parents did have access to the Internet already, but my first private computer, or rather the Braille display that came with it, didn’t support Internet Explorer.

When I was fifteen, I acquainted myself with the Internet quite quickly, but still stuck to old-fashioned methods and platforms far too long. I mean, I had a DiaryLand diary until 2007, when I finally moved to WordPress. Currently, the fact that for this post, I’m still using the classic editor, is probably proof of the same. I think I’m quite old-fashioned when it comes to technology. I am rarely the type to try out new functions when they first come out, or even when they’ve been out for a while.

With respect to Sadje’s question of being overwhelmed by new technologies, such as smartphones, I can only answer in the affirmative. Of course, again, this is complicated by the fact that I’m blind. I mean, a regular touch screen can’t be worked by a blind person, so it was no wonder I felt hugely incompetent when my husband tried to guide me hands-on to send a text message on his phone when I was about 29.

I was nearly 31 when I decided I wanted to learn to use a smartphone after all. Thankfully, a blind person who was also a qualified computer trainer for the visually impaired lived in my town. He came by the psych hospital to introduce me to the iPhone. He allowed me to use his iPhone to practise on during our introductory lessons, because of course if I couldn’t learn to use an iPhone there was no point in me buying one myself. Eventually, I not only was found to have the skills necessary to learn, but I mastered the use of the iPhone in half of the amount of course time he’d originally thought I’d need.

Since starting to use an iPhone, I have overcome some of my technophobia, but not all of it. Like I said, I still dread the WordPress block editor.

I’m also somewhat anxious about possibly making the transition from touchID to faceID on a phone. I know, I don’t have to, as Apple released the third generation iPhone SE last March, but with the fact that I now have a second generation SE, it just doesn’t quite cut it, honestly. For this reason, I’m really looking forward to the models going to be released this fall. Then again, if I can’t get faceID to work for me, this might be a lot of money gone to waste (unless I find out soon enough and can return the thing).

I’ve also been thinking of buying an Apple watch. That’s less of a risky investment than the faceID iPhone, as firstly they’re less expensive and secondly it’s not as essential (yeah, I consider my phone to be essential now). Both of these pieces of technology though induce my technophobia. But they’re both also really cool.

Five Things I’m Glad I Bought #5Things

Today’s topic for #5Things is things you’re happy about having bought. I have bought a lot of things that I later regretted buying, most recently my Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones. Thankfully, after a long ordeal with the vendor, I got my money back. Hence, here are five things I’m actually happy about having bought.

1. my iPhone. I’m currently on my second one, having used the previous model for nearly three years. The current one, I’ve had for two years tomorrow I think. It’s an iPhone SE 2020. My previous one was the original SE. I am still debating with myself whether I want to get the SE 2022 or wait if they’re going to release a 14 Mini in the fall. I originally got an iPhone because of its more advanced accessibility features compared to phones running Android. Even though iOS has been causing some more or less serious bugs with each major update since I got my original iPhone except for iOS 12, I still agree iPhone’s the best.

2. My laptop. I got my first laptop when I was eleven and got my current screen reader, JAWS, when I was fifteen. In fact, yesterday marked twenty years online for me. I had to buy my own laptops from age twenty on. I use a Windows laptop and yes, I’ve tried a Mac but no, that one’s not for me. Oh wait, I didn’t actually buy my current laptop, since my mother-in-law paid for it in exchange for my Mac. Never mind.

3. My current headphones. Okay, they’re only three weeks old, so I’m still waiting for them to bite the bullet as my Bose ones did. However, those crashed within just over two weeks, so the current ones have already surpassed those. Besides, the Bose headphones cost €240, while these cost €50. They’re a Chinese brand, which is why I can’t for the life of me remember the brand name, but my husband Googled it and said it’s a good-enough Chinese brand.

4. Lots of polymer clay and crafting supplies. I mean, of course there are a couple of things I don’t really use, but most things I bought myself, I do actually love. Most recently, I bought a hand drill and a huge set of small drill bits, to drill holes into my earring pieces etc. I had some trouble figuring the thing out and for a bit thought I shouldn’t have bought the things, but now that I know how to use the drill, it’s fab.

5. Books. I don’t normally buy books, as I get most of them on Bookshare. That being the case, when I do buy a book, it’s usually one I won’t regret having bought. Most recently, I bought the latest Casey Watson foster care memoir and, while I feared the Apple Books app would have trouble with it, it didn’t.

What is one of your happiest purchases?

Zone: Describing My Creative Space #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to the last day in the #AtoZChallenge. About half of the times I’ve completed the challenge, I’ve chosen “ZZZ” for sleep as my topic for my letter Z post. I originally wanted to do the same now, but I really can’t think of ways in which my sleep relates to my creativity other than the obvious: that I need enough of it to be creative.

Instead, I am going with the word “Zone” and describe my creative space, or where I feel like I can “zone in” to my creative self.

I blog wherever I have access to my phone or computer. I could also probably be crafty in many places. However, the place I feel most comfortable being creative in, is my room in the care facility.

I have a desk, which I’ve had for over fifteen years. This desk, I use to have my computer and iPhone on. I prefer typing on my laptop keyboard, but can also type on my iPhone’s external keyboard. I cannot type anything beyond simple messages, usually consisting only of one word, on my iPhone’s screen directly. Even with the external keyboard, due to WordPress having done away with the classic editor on mobile devices, I much prefer to blog on my laptop. For this reason, when I want to blog and I’ll be away, such as at my and my husband’s house in Lobith, I’ll take my laptop with me.

For crafting, I have a separate table. I do need to clear it out when I am finished for the morning or afternoon, as I eat at that table too. I already showed you all where I keep my craft supplies in my letter K post. I can easily reach those from my table.

Then there is, of course, the shelf above my desk, where I display my finished projects. That’s part of my creative zone too, in that it inspires my creativity.

Gratitude List (April 16, 2022) #TToT

Hi all on this Saturday before Easter Sunday. I have no idea whether English-speaking people have a word for this Saturday. In Dutch, it’s called “silent Saturday”. I’m having a relatively good day. I thought I’d do a gratitude post once again. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful. Here goes.

1. I am grateful for physical therapy. The physical therapist came by twice this week. Once for my back, which had been planned already. The second time, she came by for bad pain in my right calf. It had been going on for a few days, so really I could’ve told her the first time, but it wasn’t so bad then. Thankfully, after some massaging and a bit of exercising, the pain is almost completely gone now.

2. I am grateful for a good nurse practitioner’s appt on Monday. It was really validating.

3. I am grateful for some distractions from anxiety in the form of polymer clay color mixing. I created some really cool colors.

4. I am grateful my day activities staff ordered the true colors six-pack of Fimo Professional polymer clay, which includes a color mixing chart, as well as large packs of white, Indian red and brilliant blue Fimo Soft polymer clay. (With white, Indian red, brilliant blue and sunflower yellow, which I already had, you can create the colors from the recipes I bought.) The best part is, the day center actually pays for it!

5. I am grateful the Fimo Professional isn’t as crumbly as it was when I last used it. It was actually a bit on the soft side, but still useable.

6. I am grateful for a good Easter lunch yesterday (or should I say Good Friday lunch then?) at the day center.

7. I am grateful for sunshine today and most of the week. Only yesterday was a bit of a cold and cloudy day.

8. I am grateful my computer accepts USB sticks and external hard drives again for now. It for a long while would crash when I fed it a USB stick or hard drive through the USB port. Now, I was able to put both my external hard drive and a USB stick into the USB port without problems. Unfortunately, my wedding pictures aren’t on my external hard drive, like I’d hoped, but I was able to locate some old documents and transfer them into my OneDrive.

9. I am grateful for renewed energy. I decided to have a nap this afternoon and feel so refreshed.

10. I am grateful I won’t be kicked out of the care facility. I’m horribly scared of this again after some recent events, but my staff reassured me.

11. Bonus thankful: I am so grateful for Jesus! It is Easter tomorrow, so I can’t leave this post without mentioning Christ.

What are you grateful for?

Five Things I Take for Granted #5Things

Yesterday, DrTanya’s topic for the #5Things challenge was things you (sometimes) take for granted. I realize I take a lot of things for granted that I really shouldn’t. Here are just five.

1. My intelligence. I don’t take it as much for granted as I used to when in school, but i still feel that I pretty much consider my high IQ a given. Not only that, but I usually find that I’m surprised when others aren’t as intellectually capable as I am. Of course, I don’t mean my fellow clients at the care facility. In fact, they have taught me quite a lesson in humility.

2. My access to medical care. I don’t take my access to long-term care for granted, because that was a fight, but my basic health insurance coverage, I certainly do take for granted. Of course, it is mandatory here in the Netherlands and even those who don’t pay their premiums can’t be refused insurance for at least six months while the insurance company tries to sort things out with them.

3. A roof over my head. I’ve never been without shelter, although in a sense I’ve often felt “homeless”. In the psychiatric hospital, I knew several ppatients who had no home other than the hospital and who were regularly suspended from the ward into the homeless shelter. In this sense, it is really surprising that I never even considered this would happen to me, since I too for several years had no home other than the hospital. I think this signals how secure I felt, in a sense, at the ward I resided at back then.

4. Electricity. I never had to pay my own electricity bills, at least not directly. I mean, even when my husband and I lived together, my husband paid the electricity bills. As a result, I’m hardly aware of how much energy really costs. My husband did tell me how well we did compared to other households and we were always relatively frugal. Even so, it all seems a bit abstract to me.

5. Access to a computer. I don’t take Internet access for granted, but access to a computer, I certainly do. Even in my early days at the locked psychiatric ward, I had my laptop with me and there was no way anyone could take it from me, regardless of what the rules said about only certain electronics being permitted. Thankfully, my nursing staff did understand.

What things do you take for granted?

Sunday Ramble: Technology and the Future

Hi all. I’m feeling kind of off today. I’m not sure it’s all in my head or I’m suffering with the early symptoms of a mild case of COVID. I haven’t had another lateral flow test, as I don’t feel worse than I did yesterday – in fact, I feel slightly better. On Tuesday, I’ll have a PCR test, so unless I develop really telling symptoms, none of which I have so far, I’ll wait and see until then.

Anyway, for my blog post today, I’m answering E.M.’s Sunday Ramble questions. Her topic for this week is technology and the future. Here are her questions.

1. Are there any applications on your mobile device, tablets, etc. that you cannot live without? Feel free to ramble about them! Maybe we will learn new apps that will become important in our own lives.
I am going with the more unusual apps here, as I doubt I’ll be inspiring anyone else to download Facebook or a web browser (I use Edge even on my iPhone, by the way) if they haven’t already. Apps I truly love on my iPhone include the diary app Day One. I previously reviewed Diarium, another diary app, but have since gone back to using Day One mostly because it allows me to have multiple diaries.

Other apps include MyNoise, an app that allows users to select soundscapes, the task management app Microsoft To Do and Seeing AI, an app that describes images. It most recently guessed my age in a photo to be 44 though. 😒 Admittedly, I pulled a rather odd face in a forced attempt to smile. And just so you know, no, I’m not going to post the photo here. 🙂

2. Do you prefer Apple or Android?
Apple for sure! It is far more advanced with respect to accessibility for the blind.

3. Windows OS or MacOS?
Windows. I tried a Mac some years ago, thinking it’d be easy to use with my being an iPhone user already, but I couldn’t get used to it. The only advantage of MacOS is that it comes with a built-in screen reader, like iOS. For Windows, you have to buy (or get insurance to pay for) JAWS.

4. What do you wish that you would have placed in a time capsule 15+ years ago to have access to now?
I answered a similar question already on another blog a few weeks back: I’d bring back the disability-related story-sharing websites we had in the early 2000s, like Tell-Us-Your-Story.com. I also would’ve put Diaryland’s diaryrings into the time capsule, but then I’d have hacked the concept and applied it to today’s blogs. Webrings are cool! I think the concept still exists, but hardly anyone participates nowadays.

5. When you think of the what the world will look like 50 years from now, what does that future look like through your eyes? Go as sci-fi and/or fantasy as you would like and ramble on however you wish to ramble When you think of the what the world will look like 50 years from now, what does that future look like through your eyes? Go as sci-fi and/or fantasy as you would like and ramble on however you wish to ramble.
I have absolutely no idea. I did a post on this topic some six years ago on my old blog, but I mostly focused on what my life would be like when I was in my late seventies. I really hope that image description and the like will be very much improved, so that the blind will be able to “see” this way. There already are glasses, such as the Orcam or Envision Glasses, which will describe things a person is looking at. I haven’t tried those, but if they evolve more, and they likely will, I’d love to try those someday.

What do you wish you could’ve put into a time capsule to take with you from 15+ years ago?

Gratitude List (February 12, 2022) #TToT

Hi again all. I want to post a gratitude list again. Actually, I sort of did one yesterday too by sharing the material things I’d loved. Then though, Ten Things of Thankful was not yet online (or rather, the wrong linky was). Since I like to link my posts up there, I waited till today to write my actual gratitude list. Oh wait, that makes me look spammy, I guess, but oh well. Let me share some things other than chalk pastels and tuna I’ve been grateful for.

1. Seeing my husband. I am in Lobith right now and am so grateful to be with my husband again. I couldn’t see him last week due to the storm and haven’t been in Lobith since Christmas, so it’s especially good.

2. Pizza. Oh, that’s a material thing, but who cares? We ordered Domino’s this evening and, despite the fact that their menu has shifted to include more vegan and gluten-free options and fewer regular pizzas, my pizza (spicy chicken meat lover’s with extra chicken) was delicious! I initially typed a long rant about how Domino’s has gone too far with their “healthy” trendiness by doing the vegan and GF (which I doubt is genuinely 100% GF) thing at the expense of meat lovers, but I deleted it. I’m just grateful they still had at least something spiced with chicken.

3. My husban’ds Valentine’s Day present for me. I got 2 sets of polymer clay: one with 12 25g blocks of Fimo soft and the other with 6 42g blocks Fimo kids. I haven’t used Fimo kids before, so have to determine whether it’s not too soft for my liking.

4. Decent sleep most nights. Either the pregabalin is starting to work (although I haven’t noticed an improvement in my anxiety level yet) or I am for another reason better able to sleep. I had only one bad night this past week.

5. Eggs. Until a few months ago, a former staff from my care home and her husband would give us a tray of eggs from their own chickens each week. Sadly, the husband died and the chickens had to leave their house, which meant no more eggs for us. However, usually, we now order eggs from the supermarket. I recently found out we now even have an electric, talking egg boiler. Well, I had a boiled egg on my bread this morning.

6. Sunshine. It’s cold outside. Okay, I say that all the time, but the temperatures dropped to below freezing point last night. However, it’s also been quite sunny out. I love looking out of my window to see the sunshine.

7. Longer daylight. This may be related to the last one, but not necessarily so. I love the fact that the days are getting longer. As my husband said, we’re heading towards summer! 🤣

8. Weight loss. I already mentioned this afternoon that I crossed the line from obese to just overweight this week. My dietitian says the Dutch Food Center doesn’t even say you really need to lose weight if you’re in this category.

9. My shoes having returned from the orthopedic shoemaker. Not the orthopedic footwear, mind you. That’s the never-ending story if you ask me. However, for now, I have useable shoes again.

10. My PC. I am so grateful my PC still works. My iPhone, after all, more or less stopped cooperating with my Braille display altogether with the latest iOS upgrade, which should actually have fixed the very problem it now seems to have made worse. Thankfully though, I have a functioning PC with the latest JAWS (my screen reader), on which I can do most things I want to do. I just tried accessing the WordPress.com app to check my notifications, but for some reason, that won’t work still. I’m just grateful I can write E-mails and blog posts on my PC.

What are you grateful for?

Gratitude List (January 8, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. It’s Saturday again and I’m trying to get into the habit of writing a gratitude list then. At least today I’m doing one. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful or #TToT. Here are some things I’m thankful for.

1. A productive appointment with my nurse practitioner on Monday. We are going to discuss my crisis signaling plan together. This is used by the staff to help guide them on how to support me depending on how I’m doing. My assigned staff should have E-mailed it to him by now.

2. Sunshine! I am so grateful that the sun’s shining at least some of the time. It’s near freezing cold, but at least from indoors I can look out the window and see the sunlight.

3. Reading. I am so grateful I feel motivated to read again. I’ve picked up several books again. I’m currently reading the latest Maggie Hartley foster care memoir, but have several other books I want to get into soon.

4. The Word of God. I am so grateful I am still going strong with my Bible reading. I am also grateful I discovered an interesting Biblical podcast yesterday. It’s called Spoken Gospel. Yesterday, I listened to the episode on Jonah 1.

5. Weekend treats. Like I mentioned yesterday, I started on a food plan/healthy diet this week. I am grateful I am allowed to have a cinnamon star cookie in my diet today.

6. Getting my money back from the broken Fitbit charging cable I’d returned. I am so grateful about that, since I was fully expecting Bol.com (which is a site similar to Amazon here) objecting. After all, when trying the thing, my staff had removed some plastic thingy that kept the cable rolled together. Thankfully, I got my money back without any fuss.

7. Phone conversations with my husband. I am grateful to have him. I am also grateful he’s coming for a visit tomorrow, since I haven’t seen him since Christmas.

8. My staff, the one who had COVID, being recovered and back on the job.

9. My still getting up at 8AM consistently to do my Morning Pages. I am grateful I still find something to write about each morning even if it isn’t something related to my creative endeavors.

10. My computer. A few days ago, I thought for some reason that it’d broken down, but it’s still working. I also managed to clean its keyboard (it was very necessary) and, since I don’t have the type of alcohol or whatever you need for that, I wasn’t sure I’d do it properly without causing it damage. I am so grateful everything still works as it should!

This week, it was harder to come up with ten things of thankful than last week. I think I might do a daily gratitude list in the diary app Day One, now that I’ve revived it for my Morning Pages anyway, so that I have something to refer back to when I’m doing this list.

What are you grateful for?

App Review: Diarium for Windows 10 and iOS

As regular readers of this blog may know, I’m perpetually looking for an offline diary to keep. The problem doesn’t seem to be the lack of apps available, though I find fault with each of them. Rather, it seems to be the lack of commitment to actually keeping a daily journal.

That being said, I’ve tried a lot of apps. Until very recently, the iOS app Day One was by far my favorite. Now, it seems to have gotten a strong competitor in Diarium.

Diarium was originally developed as a Windows 10 app. This was before I had a Windows 10 computer. At some point roughly three years ago, they however launched the iOS app. It was still far from ideal at the time. If I remember correctly, most buttons weren’t labeled and there was no timeline view.

In the current iOS version, the tabs in the bottom right corner allow you to switch between timeline, calendar, search, map and tags. I really love this.

In the top left corner of the screen is the button to add an entry. This will open a calendar with an ability to pick the date. Diarium, though it does seem to support multiple entries per day, does not automatically include the timestamp. Rather, you have to click a button while typing your entry to insert it. You can also add images (not sure if you can add just one image per entry or multiple), audio or files.

Also in the top left corner are buttons to sync your diary with OneDrive, iCloud Drive, Google Drive, WebDav or Dropbox. This is a paid feature, but the positive about Diarium’s paid plan as opposed to for example Day One’s, is that it’s €5,99 (if I’m correct) and is a one-time purchase rather than the €37,99 per year for Day One. To Day One’s credit, it does offer more features.

I have Diarium on both my iPhone and Windows 10 PC now. At first, I had no clue how to use the Windows 10 app, because it doesn’t work like Word or Notepad or any of the older Windows programs at all. For example, Alt or Shift+F10 doesn’t work to open a menu at all (there doesn’t seem to be a menu). I’m still figuring things out a little, but it seems most buttons at least are clearly labeled. When I tap the button to add an entry though, I have yet to figure out how to get back to my diary without closing and relaunching the entire app.

Diarium allows integration with several services, including your weather app, Twitter, Facebook and Fitbit. I so far only have integration set up with the iPhone’s weather app and Fitbit. I love how that way, my daily step count is included with each day’s entry. Unlike apps like Momento, Diarium as far as I know doesn’t create separate entries for your integrations, but rather includes them on each day’s main entry. This may be both a drawback and an advantage depending on your perspective.

There are two things I find slightly annoying about Diarium. The first is the fact that each entry is auto-titled something like “Dear diary” and auto-formatted to start with “Today I …”. It does look like you can delete or ignore this though. The other thing is the fact that, despite the fact that I turned it off in settings, my entire entries are still shown in the timeline. This might be a bug, so I’m going to contact the developer about this.

Overall, I really like Diarium. If, like me, you’ve been using Day One and would like to migrate, there’s an easy way to do that by exporting your Day One journal into a .Zip file and importing it into Diarium. Some of the preformatted stuff from Day One looks weird in Diarium, but it’s still readable.

Early Days Online

Yesterday, Rory asked whether we remember our first times online or with a computer in general. I certainly do. I may have shared some of these memories before, but just in case I haven’t, I’m going to dedicate a post to them.

I got my first computer at the age of eleven in January of 1998. That one didn’t have an Internet connection though. Its operating system, Windows 95 SP2 (which my father explained was like Windows 96), did support Internet Explorer, but my screen reader didn’t. That screen reader, Slimware Windows Bridge, was quite primitive. So was the Braille display, which I remember to be attached to my computer via the printer port. Though it did work with just Braille, without speech, if the speech unit in the Braille display malfunctioned, so did the entire thing.

In 2002, I got my second computer and my first JAWS version. For those who don’t know, JAWS is the most commonly-used screen reader today. This computer had Windows 98 installed on it and it did have Internet access.

My father at first was adamant that I use the Internet as much as I want, even though we had a dial-up connection back then (not the kind where you can’t phone and go online at the same time). He said that, if the bill got too expensive, we’d get broadband. Then when the bill did get to over €300 over the summer, it turned out broadband wasn’t available at our house. After a few months of my parents trying to restrict my Internet access and my trying to evade said restrictions, we eventually got cable.

I got my first online diary that fall of 2002. It was on DiaryLand if I remember correctly, though I often switched between DiaryLand, Diary-X, Teen Open Diary and whatever else was available. The only service I never actively used, was Xanga. I also had a Dutch online diary.

The worst mistake I made, looking back, was not taking care of other people’s privacy. I not only wrote out every argument I’d had with my parents in detail, but also referred to other people, such as my teachers, by their real names. One teacher in particular had a rather unusual last name and at one point was googling her name for genealogy purposes. Not surprisingly, she stumbled upon my Dutch diary. Though I (interestingly) had used a nickname there, she quickly found out it was me. She personally didn’t mind, but did caution me that others might.

What mistakes did you make in your early days online?