Help Me Choose A Major League Baseball Team…

Duck season! Wabbit season! Duck season! Wabbit season!

Wait, it’s baseball season!

Ok Twitches, I want you to help me choose which MLB team I’m gonna root for this year. I don’t normally follow baseball all that closely, but since I’ve decided to follow a little closer this year, I decided to let you Twitches help me choose which team to cheer on during the 2015 MLB season.

I have pared the choices down to the Baltimore Orioles, the Florida Marlins, or the Colorado Rockies.

Cast your vote in the poll below and stay tuned for the results!

Which of the following Major League Baseball teams should I cheer on this season?

View Results

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Social Security Disability: Don’t Count On It…

I just wanted to post a quick video here from one of our Wyoming Senators, Mike Enzi, discussing the sorry state of our SSDI program.

If you’re not concerned by this, there’s something fundamentally wrong with you…

There, like I said, be afraid. Don’t just be afraid however, get out there and do something! Call your Congressperson. Let them know you’re outraged and make sure you let them know in no uncertain words that you want them to do their part to fix this unacceptable condition.

*Steps down from soapbox* For now… :D

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#HowTo: Vanquish The Ribbon In Windows 8.1!

It’s annoying, counter-intuitive, and just plain stupid!

No, I’m not referring to Barack Obama, though I dearly wish he was as easy to get rid of… I’m talking about the Windows Explorer Ribbon in Windows 8.1!

This little pain in the ass has been the bane of every Windows 8 user with an IQ at least equalling their shoe size since its inception! But no longer!

Here’s what you do to exile this little bit of ass-hattery:

1. Download this little file and unzip it somewhere you’ll be able to find it.
2. Actually *read* the “readme.txt” file contained therein. (Novel concept, right?)
3. Run the “OldNewExplorerCfg.exe” file.
4. Set the appropriate variables.
5. Click “Install” and say “Yes” to the two Windows Security prompts that will appear.
6. Close all open Windows Explorer windows and BOOM! there you go!

That’s it Twitches! I didn’t write the program, but feel free to hit me up via the usual venues with any questions and I’ll try to answer them. :D

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Happy Sunday Twitches…

I just wanted to drop a quick post to detail a few security changes I’m implementing here at The Blind Geek.

Going forward, there will be a new process for registering as a user of this site. Anyone will continue to be able to view the content in all its glory, but to register to be able to post comments or become a contributor, you will have to use the following process:

    Send me an email at rick@theblindgeek.net or hit me up on Twitter at @BlindSarcasm.
    Tell me briefly what your request is.
    If approved, I will reply asking for your requested login details.

That’s pretty much it folks. Feel free to hit me up using either methods detailed above with any questions, comments or concerns.

Thanks! :D

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The Crickets, They Are A Chirpin’…

Ok Twitches, I realize I haven’t posted anything here in a while…

I need your help here, oh valiant and valued reader…

What kinds of issues, apps, services and other types of things would you like to see me tackle?

Gather your thoughts and hit me up on Twitter at @BlindSarcasm or you can even drop me a message on, yuck, Facebook or email me at rick@theblindgeek.net.

However you do it, just do it as our friends at Nike keep reminding us. Now where’s my damn endorsement check? :p

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The Hypocrisy of Religion…

Ok Twitches… As a general rule, I try to keep from writing posts that have anything to do with either my political or religious beliefs. However, the sermon, and it’s underlying message, that I experienced this past Sunday has forced my hand and thus you are being treated to this fairly ranty post.

First, a little background on my beliefs…

I was raised as a good Southern Baptist boy in a regular, church-going family. When I went to live with my sister after my mother’s death when I was 14, I strayed from my religious upbringing and adopted what I later came to call Apathesim. Basically, this meant that while I believed and acknowledged that there was a God, I just didn’t really care. It wasn’t until many years later, after the birth of my eldest daughter Aeryn, that I renewed my relationship with God and returned to the Church. Since that time, I’ve bounced around a few different churches, mainly due to physically moving, but I’ve never truly found a church that preached a message that I found myself agreeing with wholeheartedly.

As I stated above, I firmly believe in my God. I am restating this belief at this point merely as an important precursor to what I am about to say…

I, for the most part, am a Christian that, for the most part, cannot stand other Christians…

Now, I realize that this makes no sense to most of you and has probably pissed off the rest of you who, like me, believe themselves to be Christians. I feel this way because I see way too many “Christians” preaching what can only be seen as hate and intolerance of other religious beliefs. Is this not the kind of dark ages mentality that led us into the crusades? The idea that belief in our God somehow requires us to belittle, persecute and attempt to obliterate other belief systems is so narrow minded that it boggles the mind. If someone wants to believe in Allah, Buddha, Odin, or whichever other deity they choose, that is their choice and no other person or group has the right to deny them that right. Not in this country at least…

Now that we’ve covered the basics of my beliefs, we can get on to what inspired this little tirade…

Last Sunday, the sermon at the church I am attending was centered around what I am calling the perfection of Christianity. Now, as we all know, no religion is perfect, least of all Christianity. Our track record over the centuries is way too stacked with persecution, torture, abuse and yes, even murder to be called anything near “perfect”. The pastor went on at length, quoting various Old Testament verses, detailing how other religions could make a “god” out of anything, be it fire, wood, gold, or any other substance they happened to have handy. He even specifically poked fun at the Hawaiian belief in Pele, their God of volcanoes. As I was sitting there listening, it occured to me to wonder if there was a church somewhere in Hawaii where the pastor was poking fun at that “Christ” myth and how he had to look funny hanging there with those nails and stuff… This made me pay closer attention to the message lying under the surface. It also made me aware of just how hypocritical the basic “Christian” message of “peace to everyone unless they disagree with us” is. Are we really so unevolved in 2014 that we still need to take verbatim a book that was written 3,500 years ago? Have we not yet come to terms with the fact that the world predates the first humans by billions of years? Can we not come to terms with the fact that the Bible was written by men that, due to their almost complete lack of knowledge of how the universe really works, had to express what they experienced in the only way that made sense to them at that time? If so, I truly fear for the future of Christianity.

So, until God deigns to email us down an updated Holy Manuscript, we need to drag our asses out of the moldy, tired doctrines and self-serving translations of the Bible and get with the times. Let everyone believe what they want to believe, worship whomever they want to worship, and get over ourselves.

While I originally intended this post merely as an avenue for me to get this irritation of my chest, I seriously hope that it may serve as a wake-up call to other Christians that we need to step back and take a serious look at what we are teaching our children here in the 21st century. We need to decide if this message of hate and intolerance is really the religious legacy we want to leave behind. I fear, however, all I’ve done here is to have alienated some friends and acquaintances and perhaps lost some friends as well. If true, this saddens me greatly, but I cannot, and will not lie to myself or others about what I believe.

In closing, I would like to quote an awesome t-shirt that I saw many years ago… “Dear Lord, Please Save Me From Your Followers!

Thanks for reading! Please direct your comments, hate mail and death threats to me over on Twitter.

Peace, and I really do mean that…

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HowTo: Post to the WordPress iOS App via Dropbox Using LaunchCenterPro:

Welcome to what very may well be one of the first of many in an ongoing series of posts where I share some of the more useful, (and successful), actions I have written for the iOS apps Launch Center Pro and Drafts4.

In this, um, should I call these issues? Anyway, in this issue, I’ll share my LCP (Launch Center Pro), action for using the text of a document stored in Dropbox as the text of a new blog post in the WordPress for iOS app.

This action can be built in its most straightforward version using the integrated Composer within LCP, but the way I’ve built it adds not only the Dropbox functionality, but also a couple of other interesting, if minimal, tweaks not natively available in the composer’s actions.

Take a quick look at the syntax of the action below, and then we’ll briefly discuss how it works…

wordpress://newpost?title=[prompt:Title]&tags=[prompt:Seperate Tags With Commas]&content=[dropbox-text:Documents/Blog Posts]&lc-icon=wordpress

Now, I’m going to assume that if you’re here reading this, you have at least the most basic knowledge of LCP’s URL scheme, so I’ll only explain what I’ve done to modify the URL created by the LCP Composer.

By default, the LCP Composer gives you 3 fields in which to type your post’s Title, Tags, and Content. What I’ve done with the [prompt:...] entries is to open a dialog each time the action is run instead of always using a static entry for each field. Furthermore, in the content field, I’ve not only used the Dropbox prompt, which prompts the user to select a file from their Dropbox, but I’ve further modified it to look directly in the folder where I keep the text file versions of all of my blog posts. And yes, I do write all of my posts in Notepad before migrating them into my blog. I’ve also modified the Dropbox prompt from the normal: [dropbox] to a more blog-friendly:[dropbox-text], which inserts the actual text within the selected file into the content area of the post instead of merely inserting a download link to the file.

Finally, you’ve probably noticed the: “&lc-icon=wordpress” at the very end after the last bracket. All this neat little snippet does is to force LCP to use the default WordPress icon as the icon for this action.

There you have it Twitches, just copy and paste that action URL into a new LCP action, change the dropbox directory to wherever within Dropbox you keep your text posts and Boom! you’re good to go.

Hit me up on Twitter if you have any comments, questions or suggestions. :D

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Fantastical Parser Actions for DraftsApp, Updated for Drafts4…

Ok Twitches, as those of you smart enough to be following me over on Twitter know, I’ve begun playing with iOS automation in earnest. For this, I am using Drafts 4 for iOS as suggested by my brother Yadiel (@y_sotomayor).

I recently came across a couple actions written by @the_axx that parse a list of events or reminders in your Drafts for either calendar events or reminders depending on which action you choose and import them into Fantastical. BTW Twitches, if you’re not using Fantastical for iOS, you are wrong and seriously need to correct your deficiencies… ;)

The problem with these actions as they are written is that the syntax of the action only works within Drafts 3.

However, thanks to @y_sotomayor, I have the fix! See below for updated direct import links for Drafts 4:

Click here for Drafts4 Fantastical Event Parser.

Click here for Drafts4 Fantastical Reminder Parser.

Boom! Unless I cocked up the whole thing, and I’ll have tested this shortly after posting, this should work famously!

Happy automation, Twitches! :D

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Where I Discuss POODLE & The State of Financial Institution IT…

Unless you’re completely ignorant of all things technical and interwebby (in which case, what the fuck are you doing reading this blog?), or you’ve been living under a rock or in a deep, dark cave somewhere, you’ve probably heard of the recent POODLE vulnerability.

And no, before any of you smartass bastards say anything, POODLE is *NOT* a particularly nasty venereal disease one contracts from having questionable relations with their four-legged friends… (Remember folks: It’s ok to love your pets, just don’t *LOVE* your pets…)

But seriously, I just had to share this email that I received from my financial institution. As many of you know, I’m not a fan of banks on a good day, but this message makes me shake my head and feel not a little bit of shame to admit that I work in the IT industry.

At first glance, the email appears both factual and well worded, but it is quite apparent that it was in no way filtered through any PR department worth their meager paychecks.

Imagine the reaction to this email from someone running a 5yr old PC with Windows XP…

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the email:

“Have you tried to log onto Hilltop National Bank’s website since this past Friday and gotten
the message, “This page can’t be displayed?”
The issue lies with the operating system and settings of your computer.
A new and very serious software attack, called POODLE (that harmless sounding acronym stands for
Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption), reared its head this past week.
Because of the immediacy and urgency of the situation, we acted very quickly to upgrade our systems to protect you – our
customer. Most banks across the country have done so, as well.
To protect your data, we have changed to a different encryption system when you visit our website.
So, if you’ve gotten the “Page can’t be displayed message,” and are perplexed, you simply need
to upgrade your operating system to at least Windows 7.
Windows 7 and higher can handle the more sophisticated encryption system.
Otherwise you’ll continue to be unable to connect.
You may need to get a new computer.
If you are currently running Windows 7 or higher, please continue reading for more tips.
Windows 7 or higher has the ability to use a different security protocol called TLS.
Click on the little ‘gear’ in the top right-hand corner of Internet Explorer and select
‘Internet Options’
cid:image001.png@01CFED3D.52EDD520
Next, select the ‘Advanced’ tab at the top and scroll all the way down.
Make sure that ‘Use SSL2.0’ & Use SSL 3.0’ are NOT checked.
Be sure to check “Use TLS 1.0,” “Use TLS 1.1” and “Use TLS 1.2” boxes.
cid:image002.jpg@01CFED3E.CA069CE0
Click ‘OK’ and close all Internet Explorer windows.
We would suggest checking your work computer, and also your personal computer at home, for
these settings to help stay protected.
Finally, you may find that you encounter the “This page can’t be displayed” message on other,
non-financial sites for the same reason as companies continue to upgrade their systems.
Thank you.
Hilltop National Bank
For additional information or questions,
please call us at (307) 265-2740 and ask for
Client Services.”

So yeah, wow!

I hope this has been both entertaining and educational. I now return you to your productive day of watching kitten videos or surfing for porn on your work computers… Yes, we see you and we know what you’re doing… :p

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The @Bitcasa Service: Good Potential, Shitty Execution

As most of you know, I subscribed to the Bitcasa Cloud service a few months ago.

I realized that the service had serious potential, so I subscribed and stuck around, hoping against hope that they would correct the multitude of accessibility issues that I and others found and reported.

More than six months have passed and not only has Bitcasa not made any improvements to their service or website, but their accessibility seems to be getting worse.

The accessibility of the Bitcasa website is so bad now that when I became fed up with their unacceptable accessibility practices, I could not even accessibly cancel my subscription.

I sent the following email to their support address:

“Hello,

I am cancelling my subscription due to your continued inability/unwillingness to make your product/service accessible to blind users that rely on screen readers to use our computers and other devices.
However, your website is such an inaccessible hunk of garbage that I cannot even manage to cancel my subscription. The URL https://my.bitcasa.com/#/account/cancel does not appear to have any area for actually cancelling. I’m sure it’s there somewhere, but the site is so inaccessible that it cannot be found.

I would like my subscription cancelled immediately and my comments here forwarded to someone who may be able to affect some change.

I stuck by Bitcasa for almost a year, hoping for some progress, but it has become apparent that your company just doesn’t give a damn about the cloud storage needs of the millions of blind consumers around the world.

I am copying the National Federation of the Blind on this email in the hopes that word can be spread to avoid your service and instead choose another option like Dropbox, who actually strive to make it’s products and services more accessible.

Please let me know what can be done to immediately cancel my plan.

Thank you.

– 
Rick Reed
WYOAssist Low-Vision Specialist
Certified Assistive Technology Specialist
iOS Accessibility Advocate
President, National Federation of the Blind of Wyoming”.

The following is the reply I received from Bitcasa Support:

“Hi Rick!
Thanks for contacting Bitcasa! I’m sorry to hear about your experience with us.
I did go ahead and cancel the automatic renewal on your account and you will no longer be charged.
I do apologize that you have had a bad experience with us. I will definitely pass along your feedback to my management and developers. There have been a lot of things on their plates so the improvements that we want to make have been slower than we would like.
Please let me know if there is something else that I can help you with.
Thanks,
Wilson”.

While this is far from a reasonable explanation of their complete lack of attention to their service’s accessibility, at least I can rest assured that no more of my money will be going towards the further development of this hunk of crap.

So to all of my fellow tech-minded blindies out there, I recommend that you steer clear of this company and urge others to do so as well.

Woof! :D

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