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My final thoughts as I wrap up the Ultimate Blog Challenge for August, 2021

As August draws to a close, I wanted to blog about my final thoughts regarding the Ultimate Blog Challenge. The Ultimate Blog Challenge challenges blogger to publish a new post every day for the month of August. I decided to participate in the challenge in part because of the challenge aspect itself, but also because blogging is something I love doing, but have been hesitant to actually do. I’m the type of person that will start a draft five times, finally settle on a sixth beginning, doubt myself half way through, rewrite everything and long after I’ve finished, wonder if what was written was actually any good.

When I started the challenge on August 1, I was not sure if I would manage to publish a single post, let alone more than one. The first time I saw the “Your post was published successfully” message, I was absolutely in shock. The second time I saw it, I thought that it was just the initial momentum of starting the challenge, but when I saw the message for the third time, I began to think that maybe, just maybe, I could actually get thoughts out of my head and into written form without it being a huge struggle. And so the challenge progressed, one day at a time, with each day’s post getting a little bit easier to write and publish. Over the course of the challenge I blogged from my computer, from my iPad, and even from my phone building confidence that I could actually do this from different devices, while using different assistive technologies, even while on the road. In addition to helping me become a more confident blogger, the challenge has enabled me to meet some great new people, to learn some great new things, and engage in some great conversation. All-in-all, this has been a wonderful experience and I’m really glad I decided to step out of my comfort zone and give it a try.

Unfortunately, I did not publish anything for the past three days and so technically, while I have a few drafts in progress, I cannot say that I successfully blogged every day for the month of August. While I am admittedly a little disappointed in myself, I’ve come to realize that for me, the true challenge was not in finishing the month, but in actually beginning it. After all, if people read and find value in my posts — or even just a little humor — it’ll be because the post is written and published, not because someone is verifying how many days in August I did or didn’t write. There are no rewards for this challenge (at least none that I know of), nobody’s tracking anything, it’s really just a way to motivate people to get out there and blog, and to encourage bloggers and readers to connect with one another.

Now that August, and the challenge are over, I’ve given a lot of thought to how I want to move forward. While I don’t plan to try and publish a post every day, I’ve come to realize that blogging is indeed something I enjoy, and the writing/publishing process is far less scarier than it was when I began. I also continue to see the value in sharing and in conversation and to that end, I am planning to make some changes to the blog to hopefully make the process of commenting and engaging with posts a little easier. There are still many things I would like to say and many thoughts I would like to share, and so while the Ultimate Blog Challenge is at its end, my enthusiasm for continuing on my blogging journey is certainly not.

If you’re reading this post and thinking that you might like to start a blog of your own, the best advice I can give you is to go ahead and do it. There are many different blogging platforms and many tools that can be used to help with the logistics of writing and publishing (future blog post maybe?), but ultimately, as I’ve learned, the biggest challenge is just getting started, taking that first step and writing something down. Don’t worry about if what you have to say will matter to anyone because you already know it matters to your most important reader, you. Also don’t think that you have to be highly technical to write a blog, some of the coolest blogs I’ve come across during this challenge have been written by non-technical people on non-technical subjects and I’ve enjoyed reading every word. Ultimately, you have thoughts and dreams and experiences and have lived a life that is uniquely your own and blogging is a way for you to share that as only you can.

I want to thank everyone for reading my posts, for taking the time to comment, and for offering words of encouragement along the way. To the new bloggers I’ve discovered throughout the challenge, I want to say how glad I am that you’ve been willing to share and say how much I’m looking forward to your next posts. Thank you all for reading my blog, and please stay tuned as there’s much more to come.

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Take Control of just about anything with Take Control Books

It’s so rare to find reasonably priced, easy-to-understand books dealing with anything technical, that is unless you’ve heard of Take Control Books. The Take Control Books team publishes books on a wide variety of Apple and non-Apple related topics, most of which are priced below $15, even less if purchased as a bundle. I love the Take Control series for a number of reasons, the biggest though is that they break topics, even complex topics such as file permissions and WIFI network configuration, down in ways that make them easy to understand. From an accessibility perspective, I love that Take Control books are offered in multiple non-DRM formats including PDF, ePub, and Mobi format which makes it easy for me to read them on just about any device I choose. Yes, they do not use DRM or copy protection because, as they put it,

No. Our ebooks do not use copy protection because it makes life harder for everyone. So we ask a favor of our readers. If you want to share your copy of an ebook you’ve bought with a friend, please do so as you would with a physical book, meaning that if your friend uses it regularly, they should buy a copy.

From Take Control Books FAQ: https://www.takecontrolbooks.com/faq/

While the books do often contain screen shots, there’s generally enough explanation for me to follow along.

I purchased my first Take Control book, “Take Control of Sharing Files in Leopard” (Anyone remember Mac OS Leopard?) in December, 2008. I’ve since purchase 31 titles since that time and have not been disappointed by a single one. I’ve purchased titles ranging from technical topics such as Take Control of File Sharing, Take Control of File Permissions, and Take Control of the Mac Command Line, to non-technical topics like Take Control of Booking a Cheap Airline Ticket. I always learn something new with every book, even on topics I thought I already knew a lot about, such as Siri or Apple’s Calendar and Mail apps which I use heavily every day. The $15 or less — I tend to purchase books in bundles to get the discount and also because I’m a fan — have saved me countless hours by increasing my productivity. And speaking of productivity, if you want to “take control” of your productivity, they have a book for that too.

I wanted to share the Take Control series with all of you because it has been an invaluable resource for me. I should probably also comment at this point that I am in no way affiliated with Take Control — they probably have no idea who I am — I’m just a big fan who has enjoyed the series for over 12 years. While much of their library is Apple centric, there is definitely something for everyone. If you would like to browse the Take Control Books catalog, you can do so here and of course, let me know what you think in the comments.

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Sharing some fun piano Medleys that bring me joy

Today I thought I would do something different and share some piano medleysthat bring me joy.

Kurt Hugo Schneider is a composer, music producer, and director. Most of his work is on his YouTube channel

https://www.kurthugoschneider.com/about/

I discovered Kurt once while having a bad day. I was searching on YouTube, just mindlessly looking for some music to distract me and I came across Kurtz Mario medley. This was one of the coolest medleys I had heard and I don’t know how long and I was immediately hooked.

Chopsticks is one of the songs that many people learn when they first start with the piano, but nobody plays it quite like Kurt.

And of course nothing would be complete without Happy Birthday as only Kurt could play it.

I think Kurt is absolutely amazing and what he has done with music is nothing short of genius. Whether you’re having a bad day, or just enjoy piano medleys, I hope these three videos from Kurt bring a smile.

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What should I do when I meet a blind person?

I remember the first time I was asked this question: I was giving a presentation after which a woman approached me and asked,

“What should I do when I meet a blind person?”

I was totally taken aback and had no idea how to answer her question.

“Shake their hand?”, I said in a faltering voice.

“Oh”, she said as she returned to the audience.

“I think she was looking for something more profound.”, said the gentleman next to me with a chuckle.

I really wasn’t trying to be insensitive to the woman’s question, but this seemed like such a silly thing at the time. I mean meeting a blind person is no different than meeting a tall person, or a person with brown hair, or anyone else. I think the question she was perhaps trying to ask without actually asking it was,

“What should I do or avoid doing when interacting with a blind person?”

The golden rule

When meeting or interacting with anyone, I think the most important thing is to treat the other person in the same way we would like to be treated ourselves. We all want to be treated with dignity and respect and if we focus on those things in every interaction, the experience is more likely to be a mutually positive one. So, in every interaction with a blind person, or anyone else for that matter, think of how you would feel if roles were reversed.

Avoid making assumptions

Again, this isn’t unique to meeting or interacting with a blind person, but whenever we make assumptions, we are apt to make the wrong one. What follows are just some assumptions about me and my blindness that I’ve encountered; this list grows almost daily and so these are just some off the top of my head.

He’s blind, surely he needs my help.

This is a super common assumption and to be fair, there are some times when I really could use a person’s help. But here’s the thing, I can speak up and ask for help if I need it. Not only that, but if people *offer* me help, I can accept it or not. Offering help is not difficult, simply asking, “Can I offer you any assistance? would do just fine. Again, don’t over-think this, just offer assistance in a way that would feel good to you if you were offered assistance in that same way.

He’s lost, I have to rescue him.

I remember one time I was attending the annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference in San Diego when this random person came up to me, grabbed my arm, and said,

“You seem lost, let me take you to the front desk.”

There were a few things wrong with this interaction. First, the assumption that I must be lost. To be fair, I probably did look a bit lost as I was walking around a large central area of the hotel in which the conference was taking place. The thing is, I wasn’t lost at all. What I was actually doing was familiarizing myself a bit more with the hotel. While I may have looked like a Roomba as I walked slowly around this large open area, what I was actually doing was creating a mental map for myself so that I could better conceptualize my surroundings. Ironically, what I was doing was something to help ensure I wouldn’t actually get lost.

The second aspect of this interaction which resulted from a wrong assumption is that I needed to be brought to the front desk. Why? What would the front desk do that this person who was trying to be helpful couldn’t do? If I truly was lost, I could have asked the person for directions to get to wherever I needed to go and, if the person couldn’t help, then the front desk might have been the next logical option. Another inherent assumption here is that the person at the front desk would have had time to help me: Those folks are generally pretty busy, especially in large hotels.

The third, and most disturbing assumption to me was that the person obviously felt that it was totally fine to just grab my arm. Far as I know, people don’t just go up to other people and grab ahold of them, that’s kind of creepy. I mean a subtle shoulder tap might arguably have been more acceptable, but this person held on to me as if they feared I would float off into space if they dared let go. I’ve had people grab my arm, my hand, my elbow, my cane, even the handle on my backpack, none of these are OK. Being blind doesn’t mean I forfeit my desire for personal space. In other situations, I might have walked with this person simply by following their voice, no awkward and creepy grabbing required.

OK, it’s confession time. I hope this won’t come as a shock, but I really don’t have super enhanced hearing abilities, I really don’t. In fact, my hearing has gotten worse over the years to the point that I sometimes use hearing aids to help me better hear in public, especially in loud situations. I think that maybe I pay attention a bit more to what I’m hearing and this might come off to some as having some sort of superpower, but reality is, I’m probably just more focused in on what I’m hearing and so I notice things that others might not.

Here’s another fun fact, I’m nut inherently a great musician. I know there have been some incredibly fantastic blind musicians, but I’m definitely not one of them. The only way I might become even moderately able to play an instrument is by practicing, not by just being blind. I’ve actually had people come up to me and ask what instrument I play, I feel like I’m crushing their dreams when I tell them that I don’t play any.

It’s a visual world

We all live in a visual world and the language we use every day reflects this. I’m sure many of you ‘watch’ TV or ‘look’ where you’re going, or if you’re in the corporate world, you might have to ‘see’ the big picture. It’s a sight-oriented world and that’s OK. What’s not so OK is when people try to change their language to try and strip away any visual reference.

“Hey Steve, did you see, um, uh, um I mean hear the game on TV?”

“Steve, did you see that movie that just came out? Well, I guess you probably heard it, huh.”

These sorts of things just sound silly when said out loud, not to mention it’s really awkward and embarrassing for the person saying them. Visual references are OK, they’re part of the language we use every day and there’s no need to try and change that. I actually do ‘watch’ TV. I also might go to ‘see’ a baseball game if the weather is nice. I try to ‘look where I’m going’ when I’m walking outside and have a ‘vision’ of what I hope my future will be. I understand that many people are attempting to be sensitive when using language, but there is a line between sensitivity and trying to reframe common phrases on the fly. I have a friend who is in a wheelchair and she ‘runs’ errands all the time. There should be no guilt or shame in natural phrases, it’s OK to use them.

Some final thoughts.

What should you do when you meet a blind person? First and most important, think of how you would want to be treated if someone was meeting you for the first time and proceed accordingly. If you’re unsure if the person needs help, or how to be of help, the best course of action is to just ask and don’t assume. Over the years I’ve come across many articles discussing disability etiquette and while they may provide practical suggestions, I feel that these articles often serve to create a divide where one shouldn’t exist.

If this is a topic of particular interest to you, or if you have questions, please leave me a comment or contact me as I’d love to continue the conversation. Thank you for reading and hey, it’s great to meet you. 🙂

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My experiences and thoughts on apple’s MagSafe battery pack

Ever since Apple’s announcement of MagSafe in its iPhone 12 lineup, I thought the perfect application would be to connect an external battery pack. For those unfamiliar with MagSafe, it builds on existing wireless charging technologies, but because of what I call “Apple magic”, it can provide more power and hence can charge devices more quickly. MagSafe devices attach to compatible devices using very strong magnets, so strong in fact that I can lift my MagSafe charging cable off my desk just by hovering my iPhone over the end of it.

I have always struggled with having enough iPhone battery power to get me through the day. For the past few iPhone versions, my solution has been to use Apple smart cases. These cases contain their own battery from which the iPhone gets its power; once depleted, the iPhone switches to its own battery for power. The reason this solution has worked so well for me particularly is that there is no external battery pack for me to carry around or lose, and no cables to get knotted up or otherwise be in the way. Unfortunately, Apple did not make a case for the iPhone 12 mini and as that’s my current device, I’ve struggled to make sure my phone has enough power to get through the day.

I thought for sure that Apple would release a MagSafe battery pack, but it wasn’t until July 13, 2021 that they actually announced it. To be fair, other companies have released MagSafe compatible battery packs (more about that later), but only Apple’s is MagSafe certified. This might sound like a very small thing, but there is some functionality tied into that certification that does not exist on the non-Apple alternatives.

What I love about it

I love the design of the MagSafe battery pack, it’s sleek, it’s smooth, its corners are not sharp, it fits the back of my iPhone Mini perfectly, it’s everything I would expect in an Apple-designed product. Using the battery pack couldn’t be easier, I just attach it magnetically to the back of my iPhone and that’s it. I don’t have to push a button, don’t have to flip a switch, just let the magnets attach themselves and charging just happens. Because of the strong magnets, the battery pack does not come off easily, not even when removing it from a pocket or when getting jostled around in a backpack. The battery pack itself is charged with a standard lightning cable and if my phone is on it while charging, both my phone and battery pack will charge at the same time. This is fantastic for me as I can charge both overnight with the same cable and if I need to use my phone for something, it’s easy for me to just pull it off the magnetic pack, use it, then drop it back on the pack to continue charging. I’ve saved the coolest feature for last though: Apple’s battery widget shows the actual status of the battery pack in addition to the iPhone’s battery and other bluetooth devices. This means I can quickly look at the widget, or even the Lock Screen, to see how much charge my battery pack actually has and whether it’s charging or not. For me, this is way more accessible than the tiny lights on most battery packs which I can’t see — I always had to sort of guess how much charge my battery packs might or might not have. The MagSafe battery pack also has circuitry that adjust power levels to avoid overheating, I haven’t had a problem with this, so am just taking Apple’s word that this works like it’s supposed to.

What I don’t love about it

The first reason I almost didn’t get Apple’s MagSafe battery pack was its price. At $99, it’s more expensive than alternative battery packs — more than twice as expensive as some. For me personally, the ability to know the current status of the battery from Apple’s battery widget or from the Lock Screen makes this price difference worth it, but it’s still a drawback. In terms of specifications, Apple is not super transparent about how many MA the battery provides and so it’s hard to make a direct comparison with other battery packs. What Apple does tell us is this:

Up to 70% additional charge with iPhone 12 mini and MagSafe Battery Pack*

Up to 60% additional charge with iPhone 12 and MagSafe Battery Pack*

Up to 60% additional charge with iPhone 12 Pro and MagSafe Battery Pack*

Up to 40% additional charge with iPhone 12 Pro Max and MagSafe Battery Pack*

Info from Apple’s MagSafe online store page

This tells me that the battery pack does not have the ability to fully charge any of the iPhone 12 lineup, however that additional battery will likely be enough extra to get one through the day, it’s certainly enough for me. That said, alternatives exist with greater power capacities and so I’m listing it as a drawback. As mentioned above, the MagSafe battery pack charges with a lightning cable, this could be a drawback if you prefer battery packs that charge with USBC cables. Actually, to add to this a bit, the MagSafe doesn’t come with any charging cable at all: Most batteries have at least a cheap cable for charging, but with the MagSafe pack, you’re on your own.

Conclusion

I really love the Apple MagSafe battery pack and am glad I purchased it. For me, it provides enough power to ensure I can get through my day while being a slim and convenient solution that I can use at home, or on the go. The strong magnets provide a very solid-feeling connection and I absolutely love being able to check my battery status from the iPhone Lock Screen or battery widget. I realize though that at the $99 price point alone, many might choose to go with alternatives to Apple’s solution. Ultimately, the thing that keeps drawing me to Apple solutions is the same thing that makes me happy with the MagSafe battery pack; it’s elegant and it simply just works.

Alternative solutions

I have not tried any of the following solutions, but have seen them mentioned in various articles and other places so thought I would list them here for anyone who might want to make their own comparisons. If you do try any of the following solutions, or if you’re happy with one I haven’t listed, let me know in the comments as I’d love to share it with others.

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Hourly chimes on the Apple Watch, a little known feature, but one I absolutely love and which many people don’t even know exists

Ever since I stayed up way too late, refreshing my browser in a frantic attempt to pre-order my first Apple Watch, there is one feature that I always wanted to have: the ability for my watch to chime on the hour, every hour. Growing up, I remember everyone seemed to have a watch that could do this, even inexpensive Casio watches had the ability to beep on the hour. To be fair, the talking watches of my youth sometimes had this ability, but the hourly time announcement generally consisted of this loud bong followed by the readout of the time by an extremely loud and tinny-sounding female speech synthesizer. I’m talking seriously tinny, often I had the impression that the synthesizer was coming out of a giant can, or pipe, or from the bottom of a very deep well. I used to think that if a genie were stuck in a lamp, surely she would sound like the synthesizers in those old watches. Anyway, the point is that while the feature sometimes existed, it was anything but inconspicuous and in a room in which many watches were chiming or beeping at the top of the hour, I often found myself the object of unwanted attention. I remember one professor saying, “Well, Steve’s watch is telling us that our class time is up for today.”, as if 25 other beeping watches, and students putting their things away, didn’t tell him the same thing.

I received my first Apple Watch and was absolutely surprised not to find this feature. I mean this feature had been a staple of watches, even inexpensive watches, for so long, how could it not be on a device that seemingly costs more than the Gross Domestic Product of a small nation? Alas, no hourly chime was to be found. I thought for sure people would rise up in protest and the feature would be added in a software update, but watchOS 2, 3, and 4 came and went, all with no hourly chime. And, by the time three more generations of Apple Watch came out, not to mention numerous software updates, I had all but given up. And so imagine my surprise when I read an article talking about the hourly Taptic Chimes which were finally introduced in watchOs 6.

There were many cool features introduced in watchOS 6, but the hourly chime thing was by far my favorite. I don’t even really know why except, for me, there is something significant about marking the passing of an hour, there is something grounding in knowing that a new hour has begun — maybe a microsecond of mindfulness? Apple’s implementation of an hourly chime feature is very unobtrusive. Users can choose from a bird or bell sound and both sounds are played quietly and discretely. Even better, since this is a standard feature that can be enabled in all Apple watches running watchOS 6 or newer, I don’t stand out like a sore thumb at the top of every hour. Apple’s feature also provides “Taptic” feedback making the feature useful even when the watch sounds are muted.

How to use the Apple Watch hourly chime feature

Enabling the hourly chime feature on the Apple Watch is very simple, although maybe not intuitive especially if you’ve upgraded to watchOS 6 and beyond. Like many things Apple, there is more than one way to enable and configure this feature, this way is probably the easiest and yields more configuration options.

  1. Open the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Choose Accessibility. Note, you can also choose Clock, but you will have fewer options. Also, this is a great opportunity to check out accessibility settings, especially if you’ve never looked at them.
  3. Choose chimes.
  4. Toggle Chimes to on.
  5. Schedule is set to hourly, but you can change it to chime on the quarter and half hour if you want more microseconds of mindfulness.
  6. Sounds, birds is the default, but you can change the sound to a very quiet-sounding bell if that’s more you thing. I recommend trying out both options and deciding what works best for you, birds is my favorite setting though.
  7. Press back until you’re out of chimes > accessibility and then close the Watch app. You probably don’t have to do this last step, but I always do just to make sure things save and sync as they’re supposed to — I’m old fashioned like that.
Screen shot showing the chimes settings screen under accessibility
Screen shot of chimes settings screen

I absolutely love the hourly chime feature of the Apple Watch and am surprised more people aren’t aware of it. I also like that Apple has allowed notification sounds that are specific to this feature to be chosen rather than the default notification sound that applies to all third party app notifications. For me, this little feature is a wonderful addition to my Apple Watch, it’s a very small thing, but it helps to keep me grounded as I go through my day. Also, Do Not Disturb and Sleep settings are respected, so it doesn’t interrupt me when sleeping, or if I have Do Not Disturb on for any other reason. I find this feature to be incredibly useful and hope others will as well.

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Gabby’s all moved in, and I’m all tired out.

Today’s post will be a short post because I’m just getting home after what has been a long and emotional day. As I’ve already blogged about, my daughter, Gabby, is starting at North Dakota State University and today was move-in day. In preparation for an early move-in this morning, we traveled to Fargo yesterday and, along with what seemed like half the population of North Dakota, arrived at the university just after 8:00.

Despite all the chaos of everyone trying to figure out where to go and how to get there, the move was incredibly smooth. I was impressed that student volunteers were on-hand to help confused people like us get stuff to where it needed to go. Of course there were last minute things she absolutely needed and so again, along with what seemed to be half the population of North Dakota, we swarmed the near-by stores trying to find everything. I kind of want to apologize to the good people of Fargo, with everyone totally confused and frantically running around, they must really hate the chaos of move-in day.

And so now I’m back home, just starting to notice that the house is a little quieter and a lot emptier. I hope she’s having fun settling in, meeting new people, and beginning her own journey. I know this was a very exciting time of academic and personal growth in my own life, and I hope it will be so for her. Good luck, Gabby, I’ll miss you, but am very proud of all you have done and am excited to see all you have yet to do.

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Hello from Fargo!

We just arrived in Fargo a little wile ago in preparation for moving our daughter, Gabby, into college. This is Gabby’s first year at North Dakota State and she is very excited. Of course we hadn’t been in Fargo for more than ten minutes before we just had to go shopping for some stuff she absolutely can’t live without. So, while she’s shopping, I thought I would write a quick blog entry.

I’m surprised at just how many things there seem to be to do in Fargo. For example, next week is the Sister Cities Smokeout 2021.

Baked into the heart of Moorhead and its sister city, Fargo, are the common bonds of beer-safe cooking (safely grilling food with a beer in one hand) and giving your ears equal love with great tunes. Even better is having someone else wrestle up some good meat, pour a tall one and crank up the summer’s hottest playlist. You’re invited to Sister Cities Smokeout three full days of – Hot BBQ, Live Tunes and Cold Beer.

From Fargo current events page

A parade more your thing? Fargo has you covered there too with The Greater Moorhead Days Parade.

The Greater Moorhead Days Parade is back and will be better than ever! In an effort to continue to activate downtown Moorhead the Parade will be shifted to Center Ave this year. Join us as our community steps out to shine with floats and fleets from area businesses and organizations to this year’s theme: “Our Hometown- Celebrate Moorhead!”

Events page

And what better way to discover a city than through live music?

Events pageH2M is proud to announce the inaugural “Live & Local” concert series taking place throughout the summer of 2021. Produced by the Downtown Community Partnership (DCP) and Jade Presents, the primary goal of this free, family-friendly series aims to encourage attendees to explore new and exciting locations around Downtown Fargo and showcase the talent we have right here in our community and region. Each live music event will feature food and beverages as well as auxiliary activities for the whole family.

The thing I’m looking forward to the most though is Frostival, #ColdIsCool, six weeks of winter-themed events held during the coldest part of winter. While the 2022 Frostival schedule hasn’t been posted yet, check out the 2021 schedule and tell me some of these events don’t seem like a lot of fun.

And I’ve hardly scratched the surface of the many things that seem to be going on in Fargo. The neat thing is that, at least judging by all the events, there definitely seems to be a sense of community in Fargo and being able to find and connect to community is such an important thing in my opinion. I’m really excited for Gabby because not only will she have the opportunity to have a fantastic college experience, but she’ll have the opportunity to find her own sense of community and that’s something that can benefit her throughout her life..

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This Day in History, a really cool site I just discovered

I wanted to share a site which I’ve always assumed must exist, but have never actually seen prior to today. This Day in History is a site which allows you to choose a date and see significant events that happened on that particular day. I confess I’ve been a bit mesmerized by this site over the past few hours, just picking various days and reading. It’s really kind of fascinating to choose a significant date and read what comes up.

For anyone who may want to use This Day in History with a screen reader, its quite doable. The currently selected date is a button, choosing that will allow the month to be changed by activating either the ‘previous’ or ‘next’ links. Once you’ve chosen the correct month, simply continue scrolling with the screen reader to activate the specific day. Events are structured with level 2 headings making it relatively easy to jump from event to event.

So, if you’re curious what event historical events may have happened on a particular day, This Day in History, might be worth checking out. Wish you could have a summary of the current day’s historical events Emailed to you every morning? You actually can! Subscribe here to have the current day’s historical events delivered directly to your inbox every morning.

I hope others enjoy This Day in History as much as I’m enjoying it. Now that I’ve learned that I can get the summaries Emailed to me, I may start adding them as entries to my Day One journal just to provide some additional context for the day.

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It’s an AMA, Ask Me Anything, kind of day.

One of the really cool things about participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge is that I receive daily ideas about topics on which I might want to blog. The challenge doesn’t require that I follow these suggestions at all, they’re just ideas.

Day 15’s suggestion was a particularly interesting one: Create an AMA, Ask Me Anything kind of post. The idea is simple: invite readers to use the comments area to ask questions and then I answer those questions as replies to the comments.

And so, in the interest of being brave and being open/curious to see where this might lead, you are invited to ask me anything. Have a question, but don’t want to ask it publicly? That’s perfectly fine, just ask your question via my contact form.

Remembering Formspring

This Ask Me Anything concept reminds me of a service that used to exist called Formspring. Formspring was a service that would allow people to ask questions anonymously. Answers to those questions would be posted, but would also be sent back to whomever asked the question. I had signed up with Formspring simply because I was curious about the service, not because I actually thought anyone would ask me anything. To my surprise, people did ask questions and the questions were not weird at all, OK some were, but most of them weren’t. The anonymity of the service made it possible for people to ask questions they might not otherwise feel comfortable asking: questions about blindness, questions about how I do certain things in daily life, questions about things I had been blogging about at the time. Unfortunately, the very anonymity that was so empowering, eventually helped lead to Formspring’s downfall. I found a great article answering the question of ‘What happened to Formspring?’ if anyone is curious. I’m sad that Formspring is gone because I never found a substitute quite as good.

So, if there’s anything you’d like to ask me, please feel free to do so either in the comments or via the contact form. I have no idea if this AMA concept will lead anywhere at all, but I’m definitely excited to see what happens and always willing to share.