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Friday, May 19, 2006

PPO Fundraising, Help Needed in New York State

I didn’t feel like typing, writing or thinking creatively this morning.  My hands have hurt all week so I’ve minimized time at the keyboard in exchange for conference calls, meetings and things I could do easily with dictation.  Writing computer programs, in whatever language you like, is really hard with dictation software.  Brian Hartgin’s J-Say plug-in for JAWS does make dictation in most other programs work nicely but a computer program will have its own vocabulary and, thus, words which the nice people at what was once Dragon but is now Nuance couldn’t have predicted.

Lately, I’ve spent a lot of my programming time working with the GPS API for Windows Mobile 5.  I’m using it to work on software for Project Paddle Odyssey and enjoying myself quite a bit.  The MS folks did a very nice job and communicating with GPS hardware, whether built in as on an HP 6515 or Blue Tooth as on the el cheapo knock off I got for $70 from some web site, my program can get all the information it needs from a unit without any special coding for every separate brand.  Unfortunately, words like “pLatLongInfo” are not an easy one to teach Dragon.  I know of at least one blind person who codes using dictation so maybe I’ll write to him for some advice.

In the meantime, I urge all of you to go to the PPO web site (link above) and make a contribution so we can continue our efforts to open up independent kayaking for people with vision impairments.  Recently, PPO has started a charitable auction on the non-profit section of ebay.  The contributions from our friends at AI^2 have brought in the most dollars and we thank Ben and the gang for taking the top spot in contributions during 2006.

Other friends of PPO throughout the AT community have sent us contributions which we cannot seem to be able to sell on ebay.  These products probably don’t reach the level of traffic entered into the ebay search facility as does ZoomText, one of the most widely known names in products for people with vision impairments.  So, if you are looking for a copy of the Dolphin Daisy book reader (I think it retails for about $30) or a set of tutorial tapes for learning to play the piano, please drop me an email with an offer and we can arrange to get it to you (if you are looking for descriptions of either of these products, please follow the links to Dolphin and the music lessons from the PPO web site).  Finally, the good people at Dolphin donated a copy of their Daisy authoring tool.  This product is by far the best of its kind and retails for about $4000; if you are interested in buying a professional Daisy authoring tool, please contact me with an offer no less than $1500.

For those of you in or near Tampa Bay or if you are planning a Florida vacation, we have had some guided fishing trips donated by people like Chuck Wright, Geoffrey Paige and Merrily Dunn.  If you follow salt water tournament fishing or read outdoor magazines, these names should be pretty familiar to you.  Chuck is well known as one of the very best guides in the Everglades region and has been featured on the cover of virtually all publications about salt water angling.  This time of year, after May 1, when the tourists leave, Glades fishing reaches its best.  I will concede that, during the summer months, the Everglades gets extraordinarily hot, humid and infested by mosquitoes but one can dress (in a mosquito suit) for the weather, stay healthy by guzzling Gatorade and fresh bottles of cold water and stay in an air conditioned motel so your sleep is comfortable.  What you cannot do without visiting the Glades during the “off” season is participate in one of the greatest quests known to anglers in North America – specifically, the Everglades “Super Slam.”

Getting a “Super Slam” requires that, in a single 24 hour period, an angler catches at least one tarpon, snook, permit, bone fish, redfish, speckled sea trout and a fresh water large mouth bass.  To my knowledge, the Glades in the summer is the only place on Earth where this many different prized game species can actually be caught in a single day.  It doesn’t happen often but, if you’re the sort of angler who wants to go for all of the highly targeted species, the Glades is a must on your world tour.  Having read some reports from down there, I can say that the fishing has been grand, good friends have reported seeing and catching a bunch of really big (over 40 inch) snook, the tarpon are running on the beaches and lots of large mouth bass in the 8 pound range have been caught.

If you don’t feel up to the extreme Everglades style of fishing, Geoffrey Paige, whose ugly mug has graced the cover of nearly every fishing magazine in the Gulf region and a favorite on the professional redfishing tour, has also donated a trip.  A couple of years ago, I went with Geoff for tarpon along the beaches north of Boca Grande and neither I nor the friend I was with had ever seen so many free jumping silver kings in a single spot.  For those of you who are members of the PAC Mate mailing list or if you know David Engebretson from elsewhere, you can ask him about the miserable, cold, windy December day that he and I spent with Geoff in a highly guarded location somewhere south of the Skyway Bridge catching so many snook, redfish and trout that we lost count of our fish before lunch.

Last, but by no means least, is Merrily Dunn, who, along with her fishing partner Lisa Fitzgerald, is regularly featured on ESPN II, OLN and other outdoor programming that covers the salt.  The pair finished in the top twenty in the 2005 Redfish Tour and Redfish Cup and clearly know how to find fish.  Sue and I have fished with Merrily numerous times and have always had a great experience.  I will never forget the day she put my father-in-law onto his first redfish and the fun he had as his drag screamed and the animal fought him all the way to the dinner table.

Finally, for those of you and or near Tampa Bay, we have a “like new” tandem kayak for sale.  It was donated by PPO board member Rick Roberts and has seen little use since he got it new.  Tandem boats aren’t the greatest fishing vessels as, unlike a canoe, the seats are relatively close together and some paddle fishing people call them, “divorce machines” because of the number of tangles two people fishing can have in a tandem kayak.  Others enjoy fishing from a tandem and many fishing couples like a tandem to use as a mother ship for wade fishing – they will paddle to a flat, get out and fish the area, using the kayak for storage but fishing from the water itself.  This boat is perfect for touring and paddling for exercise.  

Minimum bids on any of the guided fishing trips is $250 and the minimum bid on the kayak is $750 plus transportation.  Donations to PPO, a 501©3 charity, are tax deductible.

On a completely unrelated note, our friend Steve, beep baseball enthusiast and blogger, sent out an email to a list of his contacts around the blindness community asking for support on a bill before the New York State Legislature.  Rather than paraphrase, I’ll conclude today’s BC post with Steve’s note in its entirety:

Good morning--
 
 
It is not very often I send an email regarding legislation or political content, but the below information is very near and dear to me.  The possibility that this service will not continue past this coming October is not only scary, but disappointing.
 
 
This is not an endorsement for the National Federation of the Blind or any of its affiliates, but a program that has allowed myself and others independence and the ability to read newspapers when we want and how we want.
 
 
The National Federation of the Blind implemented a service that you may or may not have heard about.
It enables to individuals who are either totally blind or who have low vision, to read local, state and national newspapers and magazines with the use of the telephone.
The newspapers and magazines are read in a synthetic voice much like my computer that you may or may not have heard before.
The individuals reading can skip through articles and sections of the periodical they are reading, speed up or slow down the voice that is reading the material to them, and if need be have it spell out words and/or web sites so they can visit later or just see how something is spelled.
 
 
Well, the service to all its thousands of subscribers is free.
But of course in order to provide the content, it costs money.
Money which is provided by New York State Senate and assembly.
 
 
This coming October, if the below legislation is not voted on in the next week by both the Assembly and Senate, funding for this service will run out, causing all of its New York subscribers to be without the chance to read newspapers and magazines regularly.
 
 
Independence has always been very important to me, and as all of you know from knowing me, without doing what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it, I would not be the Steve you all know.
 
 
So, I ask you to take 15 minutes, to read the below legislation, and take the opportunity as a friend, professional and resident of New York State, to call or write an email to your Assembly Person or Senator, asking for their position or for them to vote in the positive for the Bills listed below.
If you do not know who either your assembly Person or Senator is, I have provided you links to locate who they are with their contact info.
 
 
 
Search for your Assembly person:
 
http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/mem/
 
 
Bill in the Assembly: A10172
 
http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A10172
 
 
NY State Senator Search:
 
http://www.senate.state.ny.us/sdlookup.nsf/Public_search?OpenForm
 
The Bill in the NY Senate is:
S4700
 
 
I ask you to pass this along far and wide to all within the State of NY, and hope you realize that this program is very special and useful.
Thanks for a moment of your precious time, and if you have any questions, please reply to this email and I will be glad to help out in any way.
 
Respectfully,
Stephen Guerra
"A guy who cares!"
 

1 Comments:

Anonymous Super-Jake! said...

Even though I don't belong to the NFB and, in fact, do not subscribe to a lot of their beliefs, I do utilize Newsline and I think it is an invaluable service that needs to continue. I have been rather curious about a couple of things lately though. First, Newsline mispronounces my last name, and although I'm not that particular about it, I do think that this needs to be altered somehow and I have notified the Federation about it. I feel that since the developers of Newsline obviously have a wealth of knowledge regarding all the technology involved, they could at least make an effort here. Also related to the technology issue is the fact that there is now only one speech synthesizer to choose from. For a short time, it was possible to press 8 and either have Eloquence or Cepstral. I like both these speech synthesizers, but there are others who may prefer different speech synthesizers, or additional ones. Aside from these two issues, I think Newsline is a wonderful service and I hope New Yorkers can convince their state legislature to do the right thing and not discontinue the service.

3:56 PM  

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