The Game-Changer Edition Tuesday, May 29, 2018

AI Tools Help The Blind Tackle Everyday Tasks, by Chris Kornelis, Wall Street Journal

Mr. Weihenmayer, 49 years old, found a solution in Microsoft Corp.’s Seeing AI, a free app for the visually impaired. Among other things, the app can recognize faces, identify money, read handwriting and scan bar codes to differentiate between cans of soup.

“It is a game-changer,” says Nathan Brannon, a blind 54-year-old Seattle resident who tests software for accessibility.

Seeing AI is just one of the artificial-intelligence-powered products that are helping blind and vision-impaired people live more independently. Improvements in voice recognition and computer vision, along with machine learning, have led to specialized products such as Seeing AI, as well as mainstream devices like the Amazon Echo, that are allowing the visually impaired to tackle everyday tasks sighted people take for granted. Advocates for the blind say these technologies have the potential to fundamentally change the mobility, employment and lifestyle of the blind and vision-impaired.

Seattle Art Museum’s First-ever CTO Sculpts SAM’s Technology Future On A Non-profit Budget, by Frank Catalano, GeekWire

Engineer said the range of visitor guide technology starts with the old-style number on a wall that you enter into a device to get an audio description of art, to multimedia and handheld augmented reality. “You have a phone and you point your camera to the work of art and it will then show additional information on the painting,” he said. “There will be arrows pointing to maybe where the artist painted over, it may show an X-ray of something on the backside. Things like that are really neat.”

But because AR requires a visitor take several steps, including an app download, museums like SAM have to weigh what works best. SAM supports more than one approach, including AR experiences in some exhibitions using the Layar app.


Things 3.6 Reimagines External Keyboard Control On iPad, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

This isn't another "keyboard-centric" update that only adds a handful of shortcuts to trigger specific commands. Instead, the developers at Cultured Code have focused on an all-encompassing keyboard control framework for the whole app, from task lists to popovers and multiple selections. With version 3.6, Things has the best implementation of external keyboard support I've ever seen in an iPad app.

Best Journal Apps To Help You Cherish Your Memories, by JC Torres, Slashgear

While memorial day is technically a day for remembering and honoring those who have sacrificed their lives in the service of their country, it is also one of those perfect moments to catch up our lives and remember those precious fleeting moments with loved ones. That is, if you have a near perfect memory of those moments. Since very few humans have such, we often need external reminders, like keepsakes and photos, to jog our brains. In this digital age, we have journal apps and here are some of the best ones you can find for your phone or computer.

Elgato Launches Eve Aqua To Let You Control Your Garden Hose And Sprinklers With HomeKit, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Elgato is today its expanding its Eve range of smart home accessories with the Eve Aqua, one of the first HomeKit accessories to take advantage of the sprinkler accessory type introduced in iOS 11.2. The Eve Aqua is a network-connected valve that fits over a hose; the valve can be opened or closed remotely with the Apple Home app, or Siri. As well as on/off, you can set an integrated timer to let the water run for 10 minutes before turning off, for example.


From Win32 To Cocoa: A Windows User’s Would-be Conversion To Mac OS X, Part III, by Peter Bright, Ars Technica

All things considered, Apple is offering an attractive platform. The APIs are robust, the tools are good (and getting better), the design philosophy is coherent, and the platform as a whole has a direction. The company will continue to improve and refine the experience for users and developers alike.

But it's not without some regret that I move away from Windows. There are good things that come out of Microsoft. I like Visual Studio a lot, I think Office 2007 is fantastic, and there are parts of the .NET platform that could be very good. I think Microsoft could—and should—do better. And if I get around to part four of this series, I hope to look at just how this might be achieved.

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I've just started reading Satya Nadella's book Hit Refresh, and I keep wondering: how much did he censor himself when writing this book?


Thanks for reading.