SSW Blog

Who’s calling???

Posted on | April 16, 2015 | 2 Comments

Caller ID indicator displays “Unknown” or “Anonymous” on our videophone screens. What will you do? Answer it? Block it? or ignore it?

Frustrated with too many unknown callers, I will not answer them anymore as I am tired of receiving “recorded” messages, hang ups, uncompleted messages or non-existent messages. Sometimes some unknown callers may be robocalls. Perhaps some clever callers use caller id spoofing by dialing *67 (even on their mobile phones).

Unbelievable I googled caller id tricks. Amazing, it showed thousands and thousands of call id spoofing or tricks. Who knows it could be dangerous? Phone fraud and scam are good example. We are warned not to answer any unknown calls due to the phone fraud and scam alert.

Robocalls should be banned. I had registered almost all of my phone numbers on the National No Call registry. Sometimes I forgot about registering when adding new phone number.  Best suggestion is to register every phone number annually.

I would like to share a short true story about a grandmother and her phone scam.

Last month she received a call to notify that her grandson was in jail and needed a bail. Very strange call, she was surprised that the caller knew very well about her family, well-known connection and even her living residence. It sounded like a silent threat as though she was worried about her grandson being in very serious injury. Scared and nervous, she stepped in the bank until she stopped before the teller when she could not understand why the caller needed $5000 (five thousand dollars in cash).

Suddenly she suspected something was wrong, thanks to her instinct. However she drove to the police station and informed them about the strange call. Good enough the call was scam. The police had tried to call at the given phone number but the number was no longer in service.

Beware the phone scams. As required your calls must be displayed as your name, or your business. Otherwise I will not answer anymore.

Useful Resources:

Robocalls
Scam Alerts
National Do-Not-Call Registry

I am back…

Posted on | April 10, 2015 | No Comments

After some years of being busy in several projects, I am finally back here! I am definitely ready to roll up my sleeves to write this blog occasionally. Meanwhile, I am thinking about some new topics to write about in order to stay updated to today’s tech stuff. Soon I will post some topics later in this month.

As I am moving some accounts to the new hosting server right now, I am cleaning out the old files, and removing old accounts. I believe it takes some time for some sites to be up running live but some sites may be not working yet. Please accept my apology for some sites that do not show up running live yet.

Please contact me with any topic you think we should discuss on this blog. Feel free to make any comment.

Good to be back!

CM

 

The Odd Couple – EA and XBox Live

Posted on | May 19, 2010 | No Comments

As you are playing any video games owned by EA (Electronic Arts), you would find some hassles whenever facing the strange blockage in PC or XBox.  I had admitted some frustrations with EA and especially XBox whenever any error or blockage arises like any server downtime or no connection.

These errors that won’t allow you to play ahead give me some guesswork because of inadequate explanation relating to why this particular message appears.  Poor Troy, my son was unable to play live on XBox and asked for my help on why the message said, “No EA connection or EA servers are down”.

As I guess it would advise us to sign in and register at EA website, I had registered few times occasionally in hope to clear up the blockage or there was no such information to explain how XBox and EA work together. Even I checked for instructions at XBox website but there was no such information relating to EA.

Imagine that I couldn’t figure why I missed something or overlook some steps in between EA and XBox. However, we decided not to bother with it and forget about XBox Live. After several months later Troy asked me again to look at the same repeated error saying, “No EA connection or EA servers are down”. In my mind it should not happen again because typically some servers sometimes had downtime and would restore to being running again. But this sign obviously appeared that the EA servers remained downtime almost forever.

I had decided to look into this issue by checking the knowledge base, FAQs and forum at both EA and XBox websites but there was nothing that had mentioned about any issue between EA and XBox. I thought it was the odd couple – EA and XBox.  XBox did not mention anything about EA when we could play any video game owned by another company that won’t allow us to play because of proprietary issue. XBox should have to provide some clear instructions about proprietary on video games.

Same with PC, I had difficulty to install some video games although from now on I am familiar with this silly blockage by going around the opposite way to EA web site first and register the game. From EA website by registration I would have to download the software from there instead of installing the purchased diskette.

Not with this case that XBox is different from PC, we use the diskette on XBox console but strangely EA blocks us to play live. I reached EA technical support via Chat Live and learned that EA servers were closed for good and so that means the video game was no good. At the same time I fired away the question to XBox technical support but had been placed on waiting list for their response with ticket id number.

Unbelievably, it is not easy to go out to the store and purchase XBox video game with XBox Live. There is no guarantee when we would like to play live on XBox.  How will we know which video game with XBox Live will work with live servers or out of order? The stores should have to place the notice on any video games with XBox live which they will be no longer available for any such servers . Who will be responsible for this notice?

Beware of all video games with XBox live including EA games, you have to verify that the live servers will be running live as well as currently available with those games or otherwise you may lose some money.

I had informed Troy that with my regret his favorite video game won’t be running live anymore. He was very understanding and said, “Fine, let me play another game rather.”  In my thought I don’t appreciate that both EA and XBox did not provide us any warning yet or unclear error messages.

Distortion of HDMI’s Role with CC

Posted on | February 24, 2010 | 3 Comments

There is confusion when some people found no closed captioning (CC) appearing on their HDTV and agreed that HDMI was a factor to cause problematic.  Wait a minute; it is not HDMI. Perhaps cable or satellite provider should provide set top boxes, receiver boxes or tuners. Or, perhaps you did not set up right with hooking up the cables.  Some instruction manuals are not clear about CC and, however, we step back and re-read it about how to set up the cables properly with the HDTV system.

Unfortunately, the Television Decoder Circuitry Act (TDCA) is restricted to televisions with greater than or equal to 13 inches requiring built in CC decoders.  Why not the TDCA extends to some other equipment like XBox, Play station, DVD or Blu-ray players? This amendment had been proposed by the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT).  Funny, this current TDCA had not mentioned any about analog and digital technology.

Reading Rate of CC – 125 words per minute
Spoken Dialogue – 200 words per minute
Limit of Analog CC Input – 250 words per minute

What’s more, we end up to be unfortunate being frustrated with Digital TV (DTV) and now HDTV.  In near future we will face another possible frustration with 3D TV.  Why must we be the ones to figure out how CC should work as though we are not the experts in the area of electronics?  Silly of FCC, manufacturers, TV or video producers, they had believed by getting away with a clever shortcut by converting analog CC to digital CC via conversion box as so called well-known “converter box”.  I bet that they were relieved after the converter box works as if it is a dressing or bandage.

First, as you had recalled that we had switched our analog signals to digital signals during the era of the Digital TV Transition, some broadcasters like local TV stations, or cable providers would assume after no more use of analog signals to “turn off” analog broadcasts. They do not realize that they have to continue the analog signals in order to enable analog TV to understand analog CC, not digital CC.  So it would be able to carry through analog signal to enable digital CC.  Does this explanation look confusing to you?  Perhaps you may say, “I know that, but what about HDMI?”

Please hold your hands; we need to be aware about how both analog CC and digital CC work together. Guess what, there is no such way to “down convert” from analog to digital CC as if switching analog CC to digital CC just like TV but it does not work that way.  There is no such hardware to encode digital CC straightforward.  That is the bottom line that FCC has neglected to include this essential part into the CC rule.

Now back to HDMI’s role, HDMI refers to High-Definition Multimedia Interface. There are six or so different upgrades from HDMI version 1.0 to newest 1.4 since 2002 a first version of HDMI was 1.0 but it was limited to the DVD audio. I don’t want to jump into the discussion about HDMI versions but I trust you will find several useful links below.

Sadly, HDMI doesn’t have mandatory standards for CC as well as not MPEG-2. I bet you would say, “What the heck is about MPEG-2?”  Did you know that CEA-708 captions are carried as data within the MPEG-2 bit stream?

In case after hooking up with HDMI cable there are several CC issues:

  • No captions on the screen
  • CC looks scrapped on HD programming
  • Some CC are not working on some TV brands
  • TVs are made prior to 2002
  • Misleading instruction manuals
  • HDMI versions
  • HDCP – copyright protection – causes “errors”, black screen or encrypted. Some products are non-HDCP.

Misconceptions of HDMI and CC

Some people ask whether HDMI works with CC. Or, whether HDMI does not carry through CC.  In reality the HDMI standards do not require CC and so there are two different stories between closed captioning and HDMI as well as separate issues.

Surprising some several HDMI versions support CC.  For this blog I would clarify misconceptions of HDMI cables that support closed captioning.  Simply put, I would classify the cable classes in analogy; HDMI is first class for video and audio quality although it is called as king of high quality connection. Sometimes HDMI works fine or not.  You may replace another video cable that may work better than HDMI. (See below video cables) So you don’t have to require HDMI cable as you would be able to use different video cables.

I had used component video cables to hook up with DVD recorder since I prefer analog CC as long as any DVD diskettes that indicate available symbol CC.  For Blu-ray player, I hooked up with HDMI because it does not make any difference because almost all Blu-ray diskettes come with infamous “SDH”. It works fine but the picture is very beautifully high quality.  XBox is hooked up with HDMI cable as though I had used component cable before I had afforded HDMI cables. In either of both cables XBox works fine but I had not noticed any CC  so far.  I had used HD DVD diskettes and SDH works fine anyway on XBox. I suspect there is lack of CC available through On Demand Videos like Netflix, Amazon or Microsoft.

Video Cables:

Composite Video – Capable of 480i, maximum resolution of Standard Definition TV (SDTV).  (480i lines of resolution in an interlaced format).

S-Video – Capable of 480p, maximum resolution of Enhanced Definition TV (EDTV) and 480p (SDTV). (480p lines of resolution in a progressive format).

Component Video – Capable of High Definition TV (HDTV) at 720p, 1080p and 1080i, EDTV at 480p and SDTV at 480i.

HDMI and DVI – Capable of High Definition TV (HDTV) at 720p, 1080p and 1080i, EDTV at 480p and SDTV at 480i. Resolution is sharper than component video.

I know it is not easy and especially we are not qualified in electronics. That is the cable or satellite provider’s profession and however, I could not believe why they are not familiar with CC system. We had unwillingly taken over their jobs and used our judgment call based on trial and error by instruction manuals in order to assure that CC works. It is no laughing matter – because we need CC badly for access to the TV and otherwise TV, DVD or XBox may be worthless.  Disappointed, we  are being “forced” to do our dirty hands by just resolving CC. It is thanks to the providers and TV salesmen as if they rather “pass the buck” by ignorantly admitting about no idea of how CC works.

Should you have any similar experience regarding CC and HDMI issues, please feel free to share your comments.

Resources:

Reformation of a New P3 Upgrade

Posted on | February 3, 2010 | 12 Comments

Some people sent me several emails to ask what I had the latest experience with a new P3 upgrade and wanted my input badly. I did not realize after some people read an article. “A Cool Software, Purple P3”, they had looked forward to my response to several follow-up questions. Although I am sincerely honored to help answer to their questions, I am experimenting both of two different ways by using Purple P3 software; P3 Netbook and standalone P3 software being installed in my Acer laptop.

First, I would like to compliment Purple Communications for their effort to making their exclusive P3 software much better improved. Naturally, there is always more room to improve this software. As you notice the title of this article saying “reformation”, it is true for this P3 software being “enhanced” by adding some features; light flasher, turn off start P3 during Windows Start-Up and IP configuration. Unfortunately, there is not much improvement but perhaps Purple Communication will consider it in near future.

I love one feature mostly which is Purple Mail but one disadvantage is that it will not work with SVP, Ojo VP or any other software using webcam while it works fine with two devices only, Mobile Videophone (MVP) and P3.

Before upgrading to a new P3, I noticed the difference between P3 Netbook and standalone P3 software. P3 Netbook is quick and easy convenience for automatic update because this software is built in as part of Netbook as not detachable. When you turn on the Netbook, the built in P3 software automatically seeks any upgrade itself. If so, it will automatically update the software to the most current version with no problem.

In case of standalone P3 software, it could seek updates but it would not install automatically due to incompatibility issue. Of course, P3 standalone does not know whom it belongs to as part of hardware and that is why it keeps saying sorry it cannot download upgrades. I had to uninstall it manually because there are some bugs during the Control Panel that would not allow me to uninstall it. To be sure that you delete all files relating to standalone P3 software via START>ACCESSORIES>WINDOWS EXPLORER, you look for the Purple Communication Folder under Program files, delete the files under this folder and then reboot the laptop.

In order to obtain new software, I had visited the Purple P3 web site for downloading new software. No matter, you had tried to delete the files for standalone P3 software, you will see the download dialog that will pop up to show only repair and remove (no install). You need to check repair until you see the complete download.  I was surprised to see the P3 working fine as though it is imperfect download.

For future consideration to greatly improve the P3 software both built in or standalone versions, the wish list is as follows:

  • Full video screen size toggle
  • Minimize the right column for contacts, speed dial and history
  • Change the colors of the screen borders, text, and background for visibility issue
  • Video mail compatibility with other devices such as SVP, Ojo VP or Webcam
  • Ring alerts on computer screen rather than flash lighter (similar to AIM alert)
  • Warning signals for video speed requirement
  • Update or upgrade dialog pop up separate to allow us to decide options such as automatic update, ask before update, no update. (This should apply to the similar install or uninstall button in the dialog.)

I am sure that right now P3 software looks much better than before and works beautifully. Thank God for this new upgrade, I am grateful about the ability to turn off P3 standalone software at Windows Start Up.  I had encouraged both hearing and deaf colleagues to install this software standalone as if we desire to stay in communicate each other for any reason. To my surprise, some of them love it much as I do myself enjoy this P3 very much.

Tech Stories of the Decade (2000-09)

Posted on | January 1, 2010 | 2 Comments

Unbelievable, there are some tech stories in the decade of 2000 to 2009 that we are grateful for technologies to greatly improve our lives. Before we enter the next new decade of 2010, we look ahead to an exciting new or much enhanced technology.

Although I had reviewed emerging and existing technologies in my writings, some top stories that I had believed strongly are very important to keep an eye on some of these as time goes by and for others that made the difference in our daily lives.

711 Access

Implementation of 711 access to TRS began in 2001, not long ago had reduced the number of 10 digit relay service numbers as a great advantage for travelers from state to state.

Wireless Pager

Wynd Communications Corporation (GoAmerica) had offered a free WyndTell M wireless handheld device with some features; Internet, Email, chat, TTY and fax with a year of service commitment. The monthly rate was $39.95.  GoAmerica had stopped its WyndTell service in 2006.

Most Favored Use of Video Log

Since YouTube began in 2005, there is fast growing of video blogs, streaming videos, and webcasts posting online. This best feature is most important for D/deaf community because of ASL (sign language).

Deaf Way II Conference

There were about 26 technology workshops, the first film and video festival, and some exhibit booths about various technologies such as relay service, notephone, and Allan eC system. Also it was amazing to see an enhanced tech for audience by using more than 40 large screen projector systems in the auditorium.

Signing Avatar Technology

Instead of real live interpreters, some companies had created computer software called Signing Avatar. There are several competitors like VCom3d, the Sign Smith Series, and Signing Gloves.

Booming of VRS Call Centers, Shortage of Interpreters

Sorenson had added over 30 call centers and did other VRS providers, as well. A significant large number of interpreters had joined the call centers as they had resigned from service providers, nonprofit organizations and freelance contractors due to attractive salary benefits.

No Such 100% Closed Captioning Mandate

With high hope and excitement, we had looked forward to an important event because by January 1, 2006, 100% of all programming with more than 13-inch TV screen must be captioned. Disappointment, it did not happen, thanks to the corporations such as CBS, NBC, or National Broadcasters that had filed complaints to state that the ruling was irrational. So, this ruling had been rewritten with some exemptions and new date as stated at the FCC web site like new channels (for example, Universal HD) being not required for closed captioning at least four years, and some of the programming with less than $3 million revenues being waived.

Voice Recognition Technology Software

To reduce costs, several TV stations had purchased voice recognition software.  Some deaf programs at the colleges and universities had hired several instructors to train students with this software.

AOL’s Captioning

AOL in collaboration with WGBH’s media group was the first Internet Service to offer online captioned streaming videos and synchronized text transcripts for CNN news.

Medical Interpreters

Since CT Association of the Deaf (CAD) had settled the agreement at the court with the CT Hospital Association, there was a big ripple effect across the country as well as it had led to several innovations like Video Remote Interpreting Service, (VRI).

Impressively Enormous Increased Use of VRS Minutes

In 2002, the first VRS minutes of use were 7,215. By November 2009, the total minutes are approximately 97 million.

Pioneered VP Equipments

Sorenson VP 100 and Dlink i2Eye VP were first used in the early VP stage.  Deaf and hard of hearing people had to fill out an application to receive a free videophone device such as VP100 and Dlink i2Eye VP.  An average waiting period to hear from Sorenson, Sprint Relay, and other providers for an approval to receive a VP  was in the range from several months to two years.

As some people like I were fortunate to have the privilege, we had enjoyed to use some technologies as above.  As I wish you all Happy New Year, I pray that some new or emerging techs would be much better than what we have right now and continue these into the next decade.

Sources:

Disappointments of Techs 2009

Posted on | December 18, 2009 | No Comments

As 2009 nears the end of the year, we had some good and bad experiences with some techs in the Deaf and hard of hearing communities. As we could remember very well about the early years of TTY that had greatly influenced our lives, TTY will eventually be no longer in existence except in some scattering areas across the country where some people still use it.  The reason is due to its equipment being analog while the current technologies are gone digital.

I would like to share about my insights relating to techs being flopped, not just because it is a disappointment but it is a reality that some will fail or succeed and maybe some will lose out from the competition. Maybe some people will disagree with my observations as though they think these techs are doing better but good enough.

Netflix

I believe that Netflix may be dying because of growing more streaming online videos as though the Netflix management had made a fatal mistake by ignoring an important feature for captioning. Their mistake had hurt the seniors, foreigners and literate people plus of course, deaf and hard of hearing people.

Amazon Video On Demand

Unbelievably Amazon does not offer any video with closed captioning or subtitled for English.  It is difficult to find any movie via search engine for captioning or subtitled English via Viera Link, Xbox Live, or Window Media Center. Similar to others like Comcast On Demand, DirecTV On Demand, CNN videos, and others as well.

VP Interoperability

No matter, it is Sorenson VP 200, Purple Mobile Videophone (MVP), or Snap! VRS Ojo videophone, we are having difficulty to connect each device via interoperability and to make calls, indirectly or direct from deaf VP callers to deaf VP callers, and from hearing callers through VRS to deaf VP callers, vice versa.  There are strange bumps like unable to answer the SVRS calls, timeouts during VP chats and initial disconnections often than usual.

Bank of America and Wells Fargo

The companies are not deaf friendly because they refuse repeatedly to accept any calls from deaf and hard of hearing callers through VRS. They had referred us to the TTY direct call only. They did not realize that TTY does not work anymore and had been discarded long ago.  I don’t have any TTY in my home. What is good if they told me to use TTY? Obviously, they rather have been in the status quo too long, as if they are being trapped in the era of 1980s.

Wisconsin State Legislators

Legislators in Wisconsin did not realize their costly mistake of passing the bad law to “mandate” all deaf children to undergo the surgery for cochlear implants.

No VP Pagers

Almost all Blackberry, iPhone and other mobile phones don’t have the capability for making video calls except few of these offering streaming video or video player.

Digital TV Transition

In spite of approaching the June 12, 2009 deadline, we had faced radically increasing closed-captioned woes and had no such information for the right place or the appropriate person to report the captioning problem. Until late January 2009, it was too late and too slow for the FCC to move forward by an approval for the grant to the Communication Services for the Deaf (CSD) to handle the captioning issue.  As I recently learned, the CSD had ceased its hotline for closed captioning issue in July 2009 once the FCC is currently taking over.

High Definition (HD) TV

There is ongoing HD and standard digital closed captioning issue while there is rapidly growing of more and more HD Channels available in anywhere as provided by cable, satellite, or other providers.  Some believe that HDMI cable may not work with captioning but others disagree that it works beautifully with captioning.  I had no problem with using several HDMI cables although captioning works fine.

Deaf Scams

Several examples are several email messages like congratulate on winning the US Powerball Deaf Lottery, AOL AIM – KCDHH, charity organization, President Obama and Vice President Biden’s email, and US Telecom Association’s giving away Sorenson contract. As similar, the social networking sites face scams involving fake Deaf “friends” in Facebook. Poor my deaf sister, she was upset about losing over $200 dollars in replying to her email as she presumed to earn more money if be offered with job at home.

Toll Free VP Number for Hearing Callers

In order to register ten-digit numbering we had acquired local numbers for our VP calls but we had been told to accept toll free numbers such as 866 for hearing callers.  As we understand that deaf VP callers use local numbers only if calling from deaf VP caller to deaf VP caller, we have provided toll free numbers only to hearing callers who reach us via VRS. Otherwise, hearing callers would pay the fee if using our local numbers when they may live outside of our home areas.  If deaf VP callers use our toll free numbers, then the VP calls cannot work anyway.

Non-Captioned Super Bowl 2009 Commercials

Some corporations could not afford captioning at $200 (as simply say, two hundred dollars) while spent over from $1.2 million to $3 million dollars for 30-second commercial run during the Football Super Bowl 2009.  Shame on Paramount, Universal Studios, Disney, DreamWorks, Verizon, United Way, NBC TV shows, Comcast and many more for not captioning. What happened to deaf actors for Pepsi Co during Super Bowl 2008?  There was such no deaf actor in 2009.  As of December 18, 2009, I had learned by my usual local newspaper, the Hartford Courant that Pepsi had decided not to join in the next Super Bowl 2010 advertisement.

VRS Providers Being Arrested

There were 7 different companies and 26 people that had been arrested by FBI for fraud.  It is a tragedy for the deaf community and however, I suspect whether they may be extremely overcharged.  Lately why doesn’t the US government audit the monopolistic VRS provider, Sorenson Communications?  It looks like all new and small companies have been easy targets for any wrongdoing, flaws or anything they may overstep before they may not have the opportunity to understand the mechanisms of billed vs. reimbursed calls or proper rulings on how to run their VRS operations.

T-Mobile Sidekick Data Outrage

There was massive data outrage occurring in March and June twice in the nationwide which had greatly impacted most of Deaf Sidekick users because T-mobile is not designed to sync locally with their computers. Therefore, almost all the data was lost forever during the outrage.

Closed Captioning

There is a BIG question on the quality and standard of closed captioning involving digital and HD.  Sadly, there are some findings of the closed captioning in the TV programs as follows:

  • Poor quality
  • Bad grammar including misspelled words
  • Wrong placement
  • Pop, scrolling and crawling captioning
  • TV Channel logos
  • Pop up announcements of TV programs
  • Annoying constantly news crawling
  • Lack of control over visual content on TV screens

There is lack of oversight and monitoring on the quality of captioning in the media industry, and lack of standards about digital and analog captioning. Who had such idea about “labeling” the DVD English subtitled as “Subtitled for the Hearing Impaired” (SDH)? In my opinion it is poor labeling.

In closing I would love to continue about some more disappointments but I trust it would suffice for now. The list as shown above is very important to our lives.

This article is dedicated to my good colleague, Phil Moos who had passed away last June 2009. He was a strong debater, advocate and believer in our right for 100% full equal access in telecommunications. In his last words he had demanded why we could not be able to enjoy watching IPTV with captioning as well as all streaming videos including On Demand.

Sources:

Demystifying Viera Cast Technology

Posted on | December 7, 2009 | 5 Comments

Of course,  I would imagine like most of you, I was exciting with a new Panasonic Plasma TV and could jump into the world of exploration to find out what the TV technology had offered available features including Viera Cast Technology. Once I had learned that the new Viera Cast requires the Internet connection, I had gone though several failed attempts by making the Internet connection working from the router to TV via the Ethernet cable until I had finally succeeded it by enabling the Viera Cast.

Same with DirecTV movies and TV shows On Demand, it requires the Internet connection to enable on demand through this satellite provider. For your information it was not easy to hook up the TV to the Internet. It took me over almost two months to figure out how it worked through the connection. The Ethernet network connection did not make sense in the beginning and however, I had purchased two network adapters, the wireless Ethernet bridge, two Ethernet cables with CAT6 (rather than CAT5) and one extra wireless router. As you can see a picture of how it looks like there are two types of Ethernet devices that make it working which these are adapter and bridge. These two devices are a must and cannot be excluded. Otherwise the Viera Cast or Video On Demand would not appear.

An illustration of the network infrastructure for connecting from PC to TV is shown below:

Illustration of Internet connection with TV

I bet you would say it is odd to require the adapter and bridge as I had learned that these devices may be primary factors for video and gaming. The Viera Cast screen had been enabled beautifully and displayed with YouTube videos,  PICASA web albums, and the Weather Channel.  There are some problems on Settings as I was unable to set up the user-name and password. Maybe we should wait later for the updates and available addons. There is unfortunately such limit of available features on the Viera Cast.

It is very nice cool feature such as Viera Cast except closed captioning issue.  I am seriously concerned about lack of captioning or subtitle on the Viera Cast technology. As I was able to view several movies and TV shows On Demand most of these shows were not closed captioned. Troubling is that On Demand feature does not mention anything about closed captioning or subtitle.

I hope there will be some improvement as necessary to include an important add-on or feature for captioning or subtitle through the Viera Cast or On Demand. That is a major reason to urge everyone to contact their legislators to fully support H.R. 3101 at the Capital as very important bill for our right to access to the Internet TV.

For information about the Viera Cast, please visit Panasonic Ideas web site.

Broadband Plan Propaganda – Good or Bad?

Posted on | November 4, 2009 | 2 Comments

As I hoped some of you had the chance to watch some webcasts or read some documents as provided by Broadband.gov, I trust that it would be worth our consuming and long tedious time to learn about what we had lately relating to the Broadband Plan or maybe we don’t have any such services in our areas. Of course, there are the “have-nots” vs. “haves”  but sometimes there is a blur toward  ” the wants” or ” not wants” .

At the last workshop, “Broadband Accessibility for People with Disabilities II: Barriers, Opportunities and Policy Recommendations” on October 20, 2009, I had spent some successive days to catch up by viewing this webcast in spite of difficulty reading poor quality of captioning and writing notes.  It took me about two weeks to grasp at what this workshop had summed up with all the presentations and questions. (i.e., half hour or hour per morning and afternoon on each day if time permits).

Thanks to my notes I had to figure out that everyone in the workshop had shared their presentations and comments in response to some questions. Because captioning did not make sense by showing up only one line very clear while another line being blurring, I had to read one line by one line in order to understand the whole concept.  I did not understand why the Commission (or FCC) did not post transcripts immediately after the workshop had been completed. I am not sure what happens to the transcripts.

Before I jump into this I would like to compliment some people for being there to speak out on behalf of our Deaf and hard of hearing communities including deaf blind and late deafened people.  They are as follows:

Of course there were some people at the workshop who deserved some compliments as well but I am concerned whether some of them were appropriate spokespeople for people with disabilities as though as one of them had pointed out that the “experts” should not speak not just because of their knowledge but they had been involved based on their employment. For example, a person is an educator specializing in the field of disabilities but she or he is not a person with disability.

There were some good information but some others may not be necessary for the Commission to be aware of as though unfortunately there may be a propaganda that the Commission may hear a broader range of views and opinions rather than facts and real life stories.

Some highlights I like to share with you are as follows:

  • Bookshare –  people with qualifying disability or print disabilities.  This bookshare is free for all schools, thanks to the Dept of Education grant about $32 million with 5 year cooperative agreement.
  • Unemployment rate is very higher.  According to the 2007 Disability status report published by Cornell University the employment of working age are 36.8% of people with disabilities, compared to 79.7% people without disabilities.
  • E911 indirect and direct calls –  by November 12th deaf people are required with 10 digit numbering to call indirectly by using relay service providers. For direct calls (this part is not yet implemented but maybe in near future) deaf people may be able to access directly to 7000 E-911 call centers across the country without relay service providers.
  • For interpreters, once emergency calls are made by deaf people they must be asked at the same time if request for an interpreter, and so the first responders such as police, fire and paramedics should arrange an interpreter before bringing the interpreter with them to arrive at the scene.
  • Regarding Bandwidth issue if using videophone or live video on TV, there are suggestions that deaf people would like to view an interpreter in one side of TV screen and watch CNN news on the other side (in similar to Picture-In-Picture). Or, ability to demonstrate physical injury to the doctor on TV screen.
  • Inadequate outreach and training for people with speech disabilities about the availability of relay services; lack of awareness among the relay agents to communicate with those such with speech difficulties and time-lag issues; and lack of equipments availability to offer those with affordability and accessibility with ease of their speech abilities.
  • There was a good argument about time frame issue for implementation of closed captioning to take over 50 years as it had been claimed to reach the 100% level by 2006 since 1970s. [In my personal opinion this was an understatement. It is believed strongly that the implementation almost did not reach up 100% level even today and it may be around less than 75%.]
  • The National Broadband plan should consider an strongly effective enforcement for accessibility on the content providers or web sites that should be mandated. As well there is a current legislative bill proposal, HR 3101 in the Congress.
  • Since there are 36 states with their limited or inadequate distribution programs, there should be all 50 states to offer the distribution programs. There should be necessarily a new legislation to focus on these distribution programs by including assistive technology, outreach and training programs.
  • There was a suggestion to expand funding for broadband access as well as telephone services to people with disabilities.
  • PDA is popular for people with blindness. Right now, PDA is no longer available on the market but blind people had applauded the APPLE for taking a further step to make iPhone accessible. iPhone is a new version of PDA.
  • There is an existing law to require the government for the Internet and web sites to comply with Section 508. There are lack of staffing, or funding, and inadequate timing for the 508 Compliance offices to enforce the local, state and federal governments to comply with the Section 508.  There will be a new ruling due by December 21, 2009 by Access Board.
  • There are suggestions for the National Broadband Plan to offer some incentives and invite private investors to develop the equipment without touch like voice activated, speech mobility or brain wave activity as examples.
  • The statistics had reported about 1.2 million Americans with deaf and blind population as those of this deaf blind disability there is 80% to use Broadband.  The big factor is lack of affordability as the equipment, Braille display and PC amount total about $20,000. The majority of deaf blind population are living on $600 to $800 per month from Social Security Administration.
  • Most equipments are antiquated in use right now by Deaf blind people but once the machine is not working anymore there is non-existing place or service for repairs.
  • There are suggestions that the Commission should consider to include communication facilitators to serve the deaf blind community that may access to VRS providers. As well, relay providers need further training and sensitivity on how to work with deaf blind community.  The majority of deaf blind people is low visual disability.  The funding should be extended to this such group to purchase the assistive technology such as equipments.
  • There are good points during the discussion about high cost of technology such as screen reader and Braille; PDF forms being inaccessible at most web sites; and the data collection to identify the evolution and changing habits by utilizing various technologies like CARTs, TTYs, and videophones. For example, TTY becomes obsolete and may be useless today. The National Broadband Plan should consider about creating real-time data collection and real-live consumers through the use of technologies. It was suggested that the Commission should use present data collection based on TTY users and VP users  over the past 15 years since TRS came in the picture.
  • Telerehabilitation reaches about 140 million people around the world including third world countries. A barrier is lack of affordability. People with serious health situations may be able to access to rehabilitation services via high-quality computer desktop, conferencing, teleportal as well as training videos, and use rehabilitation as a bridge for assessing physical therapy and personal health records. Also they would provide consultations. More info at the University of Pittsburgh, Rehab. Services & Tech.
  • Instead of building special equipments into the computers there is a suggestion to include accessible features or access tools in the cloud computing at the Internet similar to addons or plug-ins.  Check out some possibilities about web or cloud services.
  • There was an argument about the difference of video requiring higher bandwidth via cable or DSL with more than ten years as compared to High Definition TV requiring HDMI cables with less than two years.

As you can see the highlights above, I bet it is overwhelming as though the webcast had lasted more than 7 hours. I will provide some additional highlights in my blog for part two on this topic. Please feel free to share comments and be sure to visit the Broadband.gov for information. There will be a field hearing at Gallaudet University this coming Friday, November 6th.

FCC Needs Your Input For Broadband Plan

Posted on | September 7, 2009 | 5 Comments

As I know it is not easy to follow a series of broadband workshops at broadband.gov, I had watched several webcasts as follows:

  • Wkshp#1,”E-Gov/Civic Engagement”
  • Wkshp#8,”Broadband Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities”
  • Wkshp#17,”Big Ideas with Potential to Substantially Change the Internet”

Why did I say not easy to follow? It is difficult to read poor quality of captions on these webcasts as well as pictures and so especially I had to write down some brief notes in order to understand what people had discussed about. Otherwise I had no way to re-read the whole sentence or understand the full story because of chopping or half sentence and the gap of some whole paragraph.

I have no opportunity to read transcripts (much better than captions on web casts) on some other workshops that had been completed. Transcripts had arrived in several weeks late but my concern is timing issue. We need to hear from people on the panels first before we would share our thoughts in response to them and as well to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC).

Deadlines for responsesSept. 15th for Aug 6 to 20 workshops; Oct. 2nd for Aug 25 to Oct 2 workshops; Oct. 30th for Sept 16 to Oct 20 workshops

Based on my notes I had learned some new interesting items from these workshops, the following highlights are:

  1. Data.gov – for 188 federal government agencies plus local and state agencies to provide the search engine for data categories.
  2. Reboot.FCC.gov – not open to public yet but it is internal for now for a tool to improve FCC.
  3. Sunlight Foundation – offers prizes of $20,000 to anyone to develop Web 2.0 or new Web applications to help making the government web sites more efficient and streamlined. (Apps for America)
  4. USA Spending Watch – one of several examples by the runner-up who developed this application.
  5. GovPulse – one finalist to develop a brand new application for America. (the Federal Register)
  6. List of finalists by Sunlight Foundation – announcement for the finalists.
  7. FlyonTime.us – by data.gov and FAA to offer free resource for anyone to find out about flight schedule times.
  8. Open Government Forum – sharing ideas and discussions in open government for National Broadband Plan.
  9. Government Ethics – for public to access data and government based on the code of ethics.
  10. Chicago Olympics 2016 Bid – the Bid committee wants to share about the web site to add new applications such as sports finder. The bid will be final on Oct 2, 2009 against the competitors, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo.

As you can see above, thanks to the webcasts we could learn further new subjects by attending the workshop series. I believe the workshops will be a great learning experience. However, we may need to move on by sharing our inputs and feedback about our needs to participate in the society. Otherwise we will suffer greatly and be stuck in the dark.

keep looking »