We Love Uber!!!

Recently my Wife needed to go to the emergency room because of a very sore throat that wasn’t getting better. We wanted to make sure it wasn’t strep.

For quite awhile, she has been getting a taxi with the z-trip app. She received conformation that a driver had been assigned to the trip and how far away they were. It was getting close to time for the driver to arrive, so we went outside.
The driver called to let us know he was here. My Wife advised the driver that we were outside and he wasn’t at our address. She gave him very easy directions to get to where we were waiting. The driver decided to go his own way and then just left. She called the driver and he said he gave up.
Another request was placed in z-trip and with some help and guidance, we got the driver to find us.

On the return trip home, we did the same thing with z-trip and were told the driver would be there in about 30 minutes. She called the driver about 40 minutes later and he decided to cancel the trip without informing us or marking it in the app. When we called yellow taxi they said a driver could be there in about 50 minutes or more.

We had heard about Uber but hadn’t given them a try yet. Sometimes its easy to fall into the pattern of just hearing the bad things online and in the news. Things about local regulations and accessibility issues kept us from finding out for ourselves. My Wife installed the Uber app, setup an account, entered payment information and requested a trip. The app said a driver would be there in 6 minutes. The app also told us what vehicle the driver is in, along with the driver’s name.

About 5 minutes later, we walked outside and she received a call. The driver was just checking to find out which door we were at. Thirty seconds later, a jeep Cherokee pulled up, the driver introduced himself and helped us both inside, as it was a big step.
The driver was friendly, we felt safe and comfortable with the driver and how he was driving. We gave directions for getting to our apartment. The driver got out and walked with us to our door.
As soon as we got out of the vehicle, the payment had been taken care of automatically. There was nothing we had to do, no buttons in the app to deal with, nothing in the vehicle that needed to be done by us, it was all automatic.

My Wife received an email giving the details of the trip, pickup and destination addresses, miles, times, the driver’s name, vehicle type and an easy way to give the driver a rating.

That was our first Uber experience and I used them twice today, going to the grocery to get a prescription filled for my Wife and some comfort food she requested.

Below is part of the email I received after one of my trips today. Also in the app is a history showing your trips and drivers.

SEPTEMBER 25, 2015
$7.73 Thanks for choosing Uber, steven

1234 Our Street, Kansas City, MO
5330 Northwest 64th Street, Kansas City, MO


Base Fare
Safe Rides Fee (?)
Personal •••• 6748

You rode with Roger
Uber Support Contact us with questions about your trip. Leave something behind? Track it down.

I really like this way of doing things. The driver has the addresses, your name and number. The three Uber trips we’ve had in less than a 24 hour period have all been wonderful. The drivers provide a very high level of customer service and had no problem in doing a little extra. The driver who took me to the store helped me get to customer service, the driver who brought me home carried the groceries inside, and the driver last night started it all with making sure we got home and inside safely.

So goodbye to Yellow Taxi and the others in Kansas City, Missouri. Your lack of desire to provide taxi service to paying customers, the way you choose to treat people, and your high prices have driven us to a service which is much better than you could try to do on a good day.

I’m writing this unpaid, no bonus or compensation involved. Uber does offer a way to get credit for getting others to try the service, but as you can see I’m not including the referral code, that isn’t what this posting is about. It is a pretty cool thing they offer though. If someone uses your referral code, both you and the other person get a $20 credit in your account.

Nothing Compares To You

Recently I heard someone being made fun of because of the rate of synthesized speech they use on an assistive  technology device.

This reminds me of a time when I hadn’t been blind for very long and was attending a blindness rehabilitation program. We were walking from the building the training program was in and going to the apartments a couple of blocks away where the program had us staying.

One of the other students who was low vision told me that unless I walk faster, I’ll never be able to get a guide dog. I am totally blind and at that point had not received any formal training in mobility or the use of a white cane. The person who was making this comment was also newly blind and didn’t have a guide dog.

I often present something to a local group of blind people and have received the comments of why do you have the speech rate set so slow? I respond with saying when I am demonstrating something that is new to people, the rate is set a little slower than what I am comfortable with in a desire to help everyone understand what is being spoken by my phone or computer. When I first used screen reading software and a speech synthesizer, it was all new to me. There is a learning curve involved and I had things set on the slowest possible setting. As I was understanding things more, I would slowly increase the rate to a level I was comfortable with.

We should all use the abilities that we have and not worry about what other people can do. Life isn’t a race, there are no bonus points given to a person who is blind that can comprehend a document faster or better than another person who is blind.

I have talked with someone who is low vision and they felt guilty for using what sight they still had instead of using screen reading software. I as well as others told this person to use what you have the ability to use. If it works for you to have your face up to the screen, then do that. If you try using screen reading software and that works better than something else you have tried, that is okay too.

This is all a form of bullying. From the kids who make fun of the guy who uses a slower rate of speech, to the person who told me I had to walk faster to get a guide dog, to anyone who thinks they do something better than someone else, so that makes them a better person.

It might take me longer to get from my apartment door to the car waiting at the end of the sidewalk, but I am going to get there in a way that I am comfortable and safe in walking. If I let others bully me and I run into something, or fall down and break a bone, who is the one that has to deal with those effects, not the person who thinks I should walk faster.

If I listen to my phone read something at a rate slower than what somebody else does, what is the difference when I totally understand what was spoken and can learn from what I’ve heard?

Each person has things that make them different from others. I was recently discussing this in the area of weight loss. You can give the same food to ten people, and each of those people’s bodies are going to process the food in a different way. Some people might not have any problems, someone who is diabetic might find there was too much sugar or maybe even not enough sugar in the food for them. One person might have a food allergy and have a reaction that requires medical attention.

Don’t compare yourself to what other people can or cannot do, if you want to become better or more knowledgeable about something, compare yourself to how you were before.

To the parents, friends, or even people nearby that hear talk like this, regardless of the person’s ability or disability, speak up and say something. If you don’t, your child, friend, or someone else  might be on the receiving end of this comparison bullying because there will be that person who does something better than the people making comparisons do.

Portable Accessible Programs

I recently put together a group of portable accessible programs to go on a USB flash drive to be included as part of a door prize for a local non-profit blindness group.

I thought I would share this collection of programs and a link to download a zipped folder that contains these programs.

This is a brief description of the portable apps that are included in this collection
These apps will run on a USB or other drive and there is nothing that needs to be installed.

An audio editor.

Audio Playlists
A collection of various sources of audio to listen to.

A program that will read text files using text to speech and can also save to be played for later.

Bar Code Finder 2.0 Portable
Program used in conjunction from bcscan.com and uses a bar code scanner to identify products from UPC databases.

CCleaner Portable
Utility to clean junk files on your computer. Be very careful if you use the registry cleaner as that can sometimes do more damage than good.

Rip songs from cd’s.

Chicken Nugget Portable
A portable version of the accessible twitter client.

Defraggler Portable
Utility to defragment your hard drive.

Portable version of the popular web browser.

Portable version of a text editor which will identify you are using a screen reader.

Accessible portable program to download podcasts.

Ninite Installs
A collection of easy to use install files for many popular programs, it does all of the work for you and makes things easy.

NVDA Portable
Portable version of the free screen reader program.

Portable version of Skype.

TapinRadio Portable
A portable version of a great streaming audio player with several items already in the favorites.

Portable version of the popular email client, super easy when setting up a gmail account, asks very little to setup.

A portable magnifier program.

A portable player that works with many types of files.

Wireless Net Watcher Portable.
Program to show computers and other devices on your home network.

You can download this collection using the following link:


23 Calorie Chocolate Caramel Brownie

Yes, the title is correct. I have been enjoying twenty three calorie chocolate caramel brownies and they are delicious.

Regular sugar filled brownies are full of carbs and something that I have left behind with my life before I had Gastric Bypass Surgery in January 2011.

Here is my alternative and something that you can easily make every day or even several times a day.

One part of life after weight loss surgery involves finding new healthy ways to make great tasting food.

One example would be replacing that bacon cheeseburger with cheese, pickles, onions, all on a sesame seed bun with the same thing without the bun.
One also has to find different brands of items that have less sugar, carbs, and calories.

I present to you, the 23 calorie chocolate caramel brownie.

What you will need:

Coffee Maker
Cameron’s Coffee Chocolate Caramel Brownie
Sugar free syrup
pump for 750ml bottles
Silk Unsweetened Soy Milk
2 cup or larger microwave safe measuring cup
3/4 measuring cup

I use a Hamilton Beach single serve coffee maker that will make 12oz. of coffee at a time. I use one tablespoon of ground coffee for every six ounces of water.

So I put two tablespoons of ground coffee into the coffee maker, and then use a 3/4 measuring cup to add six ounces of water at a time.

Next, I add four pumps of the sugar free syrup to my 24oz. Bubba tumbler.

I use the 3/4 measuring cup to measure the unsweetened soy milk and add that to a two cup Pyrex measuring cup.
In a 3/4 cup serving of Silk Unsweetened Soy Milk there are twenty three calories.

As a person who is blind, I like using a measuring cup that is larger than the amount of liquid I’m using when heating things in the microwave. I’m just not a fan of spilling things.

Place the cup with soy milk in the microwave and heat for one minute on high power.

Remove the cup from the microwave and pour the soy milk into the tumbler.

The hard work is over, just place the tumbler on the coffee maker. This coffee maker has a special mode for flavored coffee. The regular button is near the right side of the maker and just below it is a bold button. This provides a slower drip of water moving through the machine and takes longer to make your coffee. It takes just under five minutes to make twelve ounces of coffee. That gives a better taste and really brings out the flavor in flavored coffee.

When the coffee is done, stir with a spoon, attach the lid to the tumbler and enjoy your twenty three calorie chocolate carmel brownie. It is also very yummy with sugar free caramel syrup instead of chocolate.

Below are links to the things I use for making coffee.
While writing this I learned that the Bubba Tumbler I use is no longer available. In the info below is the twenty ounce Bubba Mug which I also have and they work just as well.
You can purchase the pumps for the sugar free syrups from the web sites below for both companies listed.


KitchenAid BCG111OB Blade Coffee Grinder – Onyx Black

Hamilton Beach 49981A Single Serve Scoop Coffee Maker

bubba 20 oz mug classic black

DaVinci Gourmet Sugar Free Flavored Syrups

Torani | Sugar Free Syrups

Celebrate Vitamins Protein Powder – My New Favorite

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a bag of Celebrate Vitamins Mint Chocolate protein powder and said I’d post after I’ve had a few shakes.

This is my new favorite protein powder! I followed the directions and used two scoops with 8 ounces of liquid. I love my unsweetened Silk soy milk and its great with this powder.

I think the right mixture for me is two scoops of powder, 8 ounces of soy milk and four ice cubes. I put the soy milk into my Ninja blender, then the powder, and finally the ice cubes. Sometimes I’ll add a few pumps of sugar free syrup, just to enhance the flavor a bit.

After blending for about 25 seconds, I pour the mixture into a 20 ounce Bubba mug, attach the top with the slide part open and set it in the freezer in an area where it will be safe.

I leave it in the freezer for about twenty minutes and then sip and enjoy.

It has a nice smooth taste, no clumps of powder and something you’ll look forward to having on a regular basis.

I’ll be trying the other flavors in a week or so once there are more tokens in my bank account.

Here is a link to the nice variety of powders from Celebrate Vitamins.


If you are blind and have had weight loss surgery or are interested in learning more about this life changing lifestyle change, join the blind-wls email list. send an email to:


I am a 21+ year cancer survivor and a 4+ year obesity survivor who is also totally blind. I don’t know it all but I am happy to share what I’ve learned so far.

Please feel free to contact me


Program For Listening To Streaming Audio

I have posted about listening to streaming audio and I thought I’d share a great way to listen on your PC.

I use a portable version of TapinRadio. It is an older version of the program which is very accessible with any screen reading software. The newer versions of TapinRadio just aren’t accessible like this older version that I use.

Since it is a portable version, there is nothing to install on your computer.
Once you download it using the drop box link below, press enter on TapinRadio.zip.

Inside the compressed zip file is a folder named “TapinRadio”
Just copy that folder with control c and then paste it with control v on your desktop, external drive, etc.. wherever you want the folder to be stored.

To start TapinRadio, just navigate to wherever you pasted the folder and press enter.

Press t to go to tapinradio.exe and press enter.

The program will start then you can go to the favorites menu by pressing alt a.

Use your cursor keys to navigate up and down to the items in the favorites menu. Press enter to start playing.

You can navigate to the volume setting by pressing tab. The volume setting is one press of the tab key after you hear options.

One little qwerk about this program is you can’t get to the volume setting if you alt tab, only by tabbing.
I listen for options so I know the next press of tab will land me in the volume setting, otherwise you have to keep pressing tab until you get back to that section.

Here is the link to download this 14megabyte file.


Streaming Audio On Android Devices

I use a wonderful free app on both my android phone and android tablet to listen to streaming audio especially those that have a playlist.

The app is Total Commander – file manager by C. Ghisler .
You can download this app by going to:


After installing the app I connected my phone to my computer, opened the drive for the
phone and on the storage card I created a folder to keep all of my playlists. I named my
folder AAA so it would be at the top of the list of folders and I didn’t have to move down
the list of folders. This is out of being lazy and to just make it easy to get to.

When you are ready to listen to a playlist you have on your android device, open Total Commander and browse to the folder you keep your playlists in.

Double tap on the playlist you want to play and the first time you do this for each type of a playlist, you’ll be asked which app you want to open the playlist.

Total Commander has its own internal player for playlists.
Tap once on “TotalCmdQueue” to select it and then double tap on use always. The next time you select a playlist, it will open automatically in Total Commander’s internal player.

You will need to do this once for each type of playlist, those that end with .m3u or .pls or other supported file types.

The player will open and start to play the first channel in the playlist.
You can double tap on previous or next to move through the channels that are a part of
that playlist. You can also just browse the list of channels in that playlist and select the one you want to listen to.

If you exit the player with its on screen exit button and then exit Total Commander with
the Exit option under More Options, the next time you launch Total Commander, it will open to your playlists folder, otherwise you just have to navigate to the folder you store your playlists in.

Downloading Playlists

To download a playlist from a web site such as The Listen Factor, Blindy.tv or
bananavision.tv just look for the link that says something about playlist to listen with
your own player. It might also mention being able to listen to all of the channels with
another player or device. Right click or use the context key on your keyboard and press enter on save link as.

Then save the playlist to your computer and copy it to your device.

Here are links to my favorite places to listen to audio.



The Listen Factor