Death of a Lightweight
I had planned on doing a few more articles in the Eating an Elephant series by now but, although the second entry is mostly complete, I’m holding back so I can better vet the article and fact check a number of things I say on which I am slightly uncertain. “Oh no,” cries the reader, “BlindChristian actually practicing journalistic integrity?”
Since I started BC more than two and a half years ago, I have maintained a very high level of intellectual honesty using the creative non-fiction format. Like some of my literary heroes, Thompson, Didion, Breslin, Sheehey, Capote and other practitioners of the “new journalism” who don’t let the facts get in the way of the truth, I would write my entries off the top of my head, post them mostly without edits or fact checks and post corrections when they are brought to my attention. I think I’ve gotten most things right in the non-fiction essays but, as I haven’t checked, I’m not certain how accurate all of the details within this blog may or may not be.
Now, I’m moving into a different part of my career and am currently in discussions with a publisher about writing a real book on some access technology issues. So, to start practicing for writing a real work of non-fiction of real world publication quality, I’m going to vet all non-fiction BC articles that contain “factual” information after this one goes up. Obviously, fiction, gonzo journalism and purely opinion pieces will not receive the same rigors as those that claim to be truthful.
This will also probably be the last BC article written on my trusty 2005, Windows XP Toshiba laptop currently running a number of different screen readers as serve my specific needs at any given moment or for any specific task. Future BC items will be composed and posted from my Macintosh which has become my primary portable computer. The next Elephant installment will contain lots about the Macintosh with VoiceOver and the vast majority of my opinions are very positive.
As a bit of sneak preview, I go all the way in the next Elephant piece to embrace Peter Korn’s long held belief that API driven AT will become superior to the screen scrapers of the past. To wit, as I predicted, the first two Windows screen access utilities to support 64 bit Vista come from Serotek and NVDA – access utilities that gather most, if not all, of their information through published API. Also, it is a widely held belief that running a screen access program will insert a level of instability into a system. Once again, Peter was correct in his assertion that a published API method of gathering information would make this go away and, what proved this to me, was that I was able to run my Macintosh for four and a half consecutive weeks without restarting or rebooting and it may still be running cleanly but I had to reboot to install some software updates from Apple which ended the valid portion of the stability streak. I cannot recall running a Windows machine with a screen reader for much more than six or seven hours without needing to restart. I cannot comment on Orca as I don’t run it often enough to gather either anecdotal or solid data.
Returning to the titular subject of this essay, I now must bid farewell to my trusty Toshiba laptop named Sea Trout on our home network. This PC has served me well through thick and thin but it is definitely time to bring it to the vet and let it pass onto the next state of existence. This laptop has been dropped, kicked, sat upon, traveled all around the world a few times and has seen about as much physical abuse that a PC can handle. The power jack in the back of the laptop has gotten so bent out of shape that I need to use a bit of duct tape to keep the cord from falling out. Two of the four USB ports have been crushed by having been dropped with things plugged into them so many times. Even though I bought a new battery in July, for no reason I can explain, it still gets very poor battery life (this may be correctable with power settings in Windows). Finally, it has cracks, chips and a video display which seems to lose its mind from time to time – screen readers work fine but Susan, my lovely wife of 21 years, tells me that the visuals get garbled.
I will be spending some time backing up files that reside on this machine that may not have been back up before to my Apple Time Capsule (a very cool device). Then, I will have to decide what to do with this old clunker. If anyone has a good reason for needing a mostly usable old laptop I’ll give it away for a $20 contribution to Southeastern Guide Dogs plus shipping. It’s probably not worth $20 but SEGD is a really good charity and I would urge everyone to send them some money now and then.
I would recommend that the recipient of this old monster reformat and reinstall an OS (it will probably run a GNU/Linux distribution very well and it still works pretty well in XP) otherwise, it might make a good little box for a child as there is a good probability that it’s been broken enough that a kid can’t hurt it much more.
So, if you want the original home of BC, please send me a note telling me what you hope to do with it and I will use my highly subjective opinion on who should get it.