Technology Tips

Blind iPad Review

Cheree Heppe is a Ziegler reader and she decided to send me her fantastic review of the newest product from Apple, the iPad.  Thanks for sharing, Cheree!  Enjoy.

I actually did it! I took the light rail to the Apple store and saw one of those iPads in the flesh on the Saturday morning that it went public. For me, the pictures do nothing to allay my curiosity, since I am totally blind.
Portland, Oregon boasts both corporate and non-corporate Apple stores. The Apple store I visited was a corporate one.
That whole up-scale inner city mall was jumping with people, so it was no problem finding directions down to the Apple store.
When I got off the escalator, there was this incredible double line nearly to the escalator. The line reminded me of a snake dance, except most of the would-be customers were keeping their excitement under tight rein and were standing still, maybe afraid to dance while being videoed by the TV station.
Someone saw me on TV because the Apple store crowd was being panned by the TV station reporters. I wasn’t dressed for TV photographing, just my hair swept back with a silver headband, long, wool, cranberry cloak and jeans and Kili, my black and tan German shepherd dog guide in her white harness.
It was busier in that apple store than at a Vegas casino!
There were Apple staff outside the store directing traffic. One of these guys escorted me inside and arranged for me to see the demo model with it’s case on, but the demo model which came newly unpacked ran out of charge and the Apple rep and I moved to the display tables to continue my examination of one of the plugged-in models.
I have been stopping by the Apple store, dipping my figurative big toe into the stream for months now, wanting to migrate from the Windows based platform with its third party accessibility to the integrated Apple platform, but hadn’t felt Apple systems welcomed blind users sufficiently to be fully accessible until now.
The iPad feels about like a MacBook Air in thickness; it feels slimmer than my NetBook. The glass is flat to the edge of the horizontal surface with a circular, concave Home button embedded flush into the face of the glass very near the bottom middle of one short side. The active portion of the screen starts maybe a half-inch in from its edge.
The Apple rep explained how the icons are arranged on the screen. This is standard and once you get the feel for the gaps and positions, it all stays the same. That’s what he told me. There is a physical volume toggle switch near one end of one long side. No fiddling with screen settings for volume, just handily bump the toggle up for loud or down for soft. The earphone jack is on one short side near a corner, flush with the metal side but easily recognized by touch and out of the way. The sound is good and the jack would hold earphones solidly so they wouldn’t fall out while being ported or moved. There is a physical switch near one end of the long side of the iPad to lock it into whichever position, portrait or landscape, the screen is oriented.  There is a recessed connector on the opposite short side of the iPad from the earphone jack to charge it or interface it with a computer. This is apparently called a doc connector. The on/off switch is located on the edge of the iPad, but I can’t recall exactly where. The back and sides are metal and the sides are curved inward from their widest point where they interface with the glass to where they taper in a rounded way to the back side. The back side felt flat with no features, but I didn’t look really carefully and the case covered the back of the device.
Even while not being facile with Voiceover or the tap and flick finger navigation motions, I got the iPad to go on to a website, to go into E-mail and apps store, and to read a book.
The iPad can interface with a Windows based or Apple based computer.
The cover or case that it now comes with is the first cover before everyone else makes something. It looks like the outside of a thin notebook without the binder rings. It opens from the long end and the flap tucks behind the iPad with the bottom edge tucking into a built-in slot in the back of the case. This allows the iPad to sit at a comfortable slant.
Apple plans to have a dock for a keyboard if the user remains stationary. The Apple guy suggested getting a wireless keyboard and Bluetooth to pair the two if one plans to be mobile.
The iPad should not be thought of as a tool solely for low vision people. I’m a no-vision user and can work the iPad well, for being a new user and having no experience with configuring the Voiceover settings.
To use the iPad well, a blind user should have a strong spatial sense. I mean that the touch method for the screen depends on knowing where the icons reside in space in relation to other icons on a flat glass plain.
I speculated that if a blind user wanted to use a certain app a lot, such as the typing virtual keypad feature, a tracing could be made of the positions of the icons and someone could cut out an overlay of light plastic, like a glorified check writing guide or a stencil. That way, a blind user could tactilely locate the positions quicker. Imagine a sheath of light plastic overlay cut-outs the shape of the screen for different standard uses, such as typing or web surfing, carried in a sleeve or pocket inside the front cover of the iPad case. This idea is based on knowing virtually nothing about how the icons refresh or whether they change position, etc.
What a gadget! Accessible right out of the box. If Apple can insist on accessibility across the entire platform as standard foundational basics for any app developer, blind consumers will have a lot of amazing possibilities with this device and won’t have to be shunted off to the separate-but-equal, but not quite accessible, side of things.
Apple has caused a totally unexpected paradigm shift with this iPad, at least in my thinking.

Is Your Password Strong Enough?

Passwords are used as a way to keep all of your information safe. However, the vast majority of passwords just aren’t strong or complex enough to keep hackers at bay for very long at all.

Most passwords include slang words or dictionary words that may be easy to remember but don’t provide much protection at all. Hackers are able to use what is called a brute force attack to gain access to data protected by weak passwords. Essentially, a program runs through dictionary and slang words combined with numbers to eventually establish what the true password is. While this process may seem like an endlessly complex approach and would take large amounts of time, the combination of weak passwords and automated brute force attacks can give someone access to your data in as little as 110 attempts. Those 110 attempts occur in only one second. That means that in just 17 minutes, a hacker could potentially have access to 1000 data accounts.

So what can you do to make your password stronger? Well, you can start by not using common slang words or words found in the dictionary. This will automatically make your password much stronger. In addition to that, you can begin incorporating capital letters. Many passwords are case sensitive and will not allow access if the correct capital letters are not present. Another way is to include numbers or symbols in your password.

While these steps will make your password harder to remember, they will also make your password harder to figure out and will keep your important data much safer.

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