CSUN Preview and PPO Fundraising
Today’s blog entry contains one serious portion and the rest will contain some humorous, satirical bits about access technology. The piece starts seriously by talking about raising funds for our non-profit. And then moves into an entirely silly prediction for the CSUN that I would like to see but that will not happen.
Project Paddle Odyssey, the non-profit started by my wife and me, works to design kayaks that blind people can paddle solo. Like many other non-profit, research and development organizations based on contributions to survive, PPO struggles financially. Over the past few months, though, a number of AT companies along with businesses that sell paddling and fishing gear, have joined together in support of our very cool project.
Yesterday, Susan, PPO’s secretary and treasurer put the first of the products contributed onto the charitable section of e-bay. A copy of ZoomText 9.0 reader/magnifier went up as the first item in the PPO charitable auction. The minimum bid is $300, roughly half of the MSRP for the world’s leading low vision tool, so, a lucky bidder can get this terrific item for a great bargain. You should be able to find it by searching for ZoomText or by looking for paddleodysseysales on ebay.
In the days to come, we will be adding items from Dolphin Systems, Serotek, Code Factory, DOA Lures, Quasi-Jig, Bill Brown Music Lessons, ViewPlus, Musical I Press and many other contributors. Other sponsors have provided us with cash and labor contributions and, therefore, we appreciate them greatly but their products will not show up in our auctions. Even if you don’t win one of our auctions on ebay, we hope you will patronize our contributors as they do their best to help us in our goal of bringing independence on the water to we blinks.
Announcements I’d Like to Hear From CSUN 2006: The humor portion of the program
Every year, the entire AT industry shines up its products, caffeine loads its people and ships hardware, software, people, marketing materials, chochkas, t-shirts and all kinds of unimaginable items to a handful of hotels surrounding the Los Angeles International Airport. Anyone with a reasonable background in AT can predict many of the products and announcements that will make their first appearance at almost any CSUN. As CSUN 2006 will be the first one covered by Blind Confidential, I thought I should predict the announcements that I would like to hear but, sadly, are unlikely to actually happen during the conference:
Possibly the coolest product to hit the AT arena since Alva announced its MPO, “ShrinkText” from AI^3 will make its first appearance at CSUN 2006. W. Benjamin, CEO of the newly formed AI Cubed, a company described as a “bunch of very laid back, hashish smoking, snowboard types from Jay Peak, Vermont,” has provided Blind Confidential with an exclusive first look at this exciting application of nanotechnology to the AT world. “We looked at the low vision products,” said Benjamin. “We found consistent problems that plagued all of them and we went down to MIT, spent a few months with Marvin Minsky studying nanotechnology and finally found the perfect solution. We call it, ShrinkText.”
I asked what it did differently from other products on the market and Benjamin continued, “Other magnification packages make the text on the computer’s screen larger so users can better see it. ShrinkText avoids the problems caused by all of that video hooking and CPU intense smoothing algorithms by rearranging the molecular structure of the users to shrink them down to the proper size so the text on the screen appears proportionally larger. Thus, the PC remains more stable and, when the session ends, the users return to their normal size.”
Blind Confidential wishes this new venture well but will take a “wait and see” approach before trying it on any of our team.
The second great new bit of news came to Blind Confidential via a leak from within Freeman Scientology, the Clearwater, Florida based access Technology Company. According to our sources, day two of the CSUN conference will feature an extravagantly theatrical announcement of a new product adding to their already popular Dianetics for Windows and PersonalityTestTalker line of products. The punched up press conference will feature their long time CTO, Gore Glendon backed by the Blind Boys of Alabama Gospel singers, in announcing JAWS for Jesus. Gore will don a white suit and preach about the wonders of this new product that will deliver the Gospels to blind people in speech and Braille in every language into which they have ever been translated. Our anonymous source said, “This product will be perfect for everyone from the left wing red letter Christians all the way to the Arian Nation people. It’s the perfect Christianity tool for anyone interested in the New Testament.”
Our source at Freeman Scientology also suggested that, later in the year, they will be releasing, Jews for Windows, the perfect Talmudic study guide for blind people, OpenZen, a holistic approach to the works of the Buddha Gautama and BackPack Mate, the perfect device for bringing your religious texts with you on the road.
Mike Mountain, Chief Technologist at Porpoise Systems in the UK, announced an interesting genetic engineering project that they will demonstrate on the Los Angeles beaches during the conference. “We realized that guide dogs had a major limitation,” said Mike, “they did poorly in aquatic environments.” So, they came up with an incredible solution. “This year, we will be demonstrating the alpha test version of the first ever guide dolphin.”
According to Mike, Porpoise Systems has engineered a bottle nosed dolphin that can speak human languages and has a handle on its back. “The lovely critters ask the blind swimmer where he wants to go, swiftly brings him there and lets the rider sit on his back while fishing.” Mike continued to explain that the final version, due out in 2009, will have Braille dots on the back of the dolphin’s head for the deaf-blind rider, rod holders and even a built in beer cooler and tackle tray. Bubba Clemson, salt water writer for Field and Stream said, “This may be the greatest advancement in sport fishing since the advent of the DOA Shrimp lure. A dolphin can bring a fisherman directly to the best fishing holes and far outperform a Wal-Mart sonar device for finding game fish. Sure they are meant for blind people but I want one too.”
SerenityTek will demonstrate its Freedom Sensory Deprivation Box to hit the market later this year. Michael Bald, the company’s CEO, said, “We found many blind people had become increasingly stressed out so we went up to Harvard to find a solution.” Working closely with Seymore Papert, educational psychologist, and MIT’s Stephen Pinker, an evolutionary psychologist, Bald determined that something like the box Fred Skinner built back in the 1950s might just provide the perfect solution for his market. “SerenityTek is all about the users and the community but we realized that all of this communication can get pretty noisy and drive one pretty nutty. So, the Freedom Sensory Deprivation Box can be placed in one’s office and when they just can’t take it anymore, the can climb right in and hear nothing, see nothing, feel nothing and enjoy some real peace during the workday.”
As Fred Skinner’s daughter, one of the first people to be used to study his box ultimately killed herself, Blind Confidential recommends that this product be used with caution.
Finally, Humidware, following in product manager Moe Jonathonson’s footsteps, has decided on designing their show room area with an all love theme. “Everything will be in soft pink and red so the sighted people can see how much we love our consumers,” said an unnamed source in the Visuaid group. “Everything will have a soft, velvety texture so the blind people can enjoy the sensual experience that Moe so loves to describe on his pod casts.” To top things off, Humidware has taken the booth babe concept a step further, “We decided that hiring beautiful women to stand in our booth just to look pretty discriminated against blind people. This year, we contracted with women from some of LA’s top gentlemen’s clubs who will provide the tactile, Braille version of the booth babe for the blind clients.” Blind Confidential believes that this approach may be the most attractive offering at CSUN 2006 and this author, for one, hopes to be at the front of the line as soon as the Humidware Group Grope gets started.
I will be sending one of the gonzo reporters from our staff to cover the show. He will don a disguise and will probably not be recognizable to other conference attendees. He will consume loads of coffee and carry serious weapons (he’s a bit paranoid) so, if you do bump into him, please be kind.