All posts by Kieran

My review: Belkin N300 wireless WiFi range extender

Hi guys, in this post I’m going to be reviewing a new product I
have obtained. This is the

WiFi extender.

Background

I’d been noticing for a while that in our house the WiFi signal
never quite reaches the back of the house, where my bedroom was,
so much so that if I turned over in bed, my phone would switch on
to 3G as it had lost signal completely. I had been wanting to buy
a WiFi extender for a while, but hadn’t really done any research
in to it. It only really crossed my mind when I acquired an old

router from about 6 years ago. I thought to myself, why don’t I
try and turn this in to an extender. I googled it, and it looked
like it could be done when you rebranded the router and flashed
it back to the net gear default firmware instead of sky’s custom
one.

Cut a long story and about 2 hours of work short, I couldn’t do
it. I have no idea why, but a lot of files I needed weren’t
around anymore and once I had acquired them, they just wouldn’t
work. So I gave up. Oh well, I got a couple of ethernet cables
out of it if nothing else.

So it was a day or so after doing this
that I was browsing through twitter and I spotted a review from Geekanoids (who doesn’t seem to want to link here for some reason)

I thought I’d look for myself on
amazon, so I clicked the link in his video description, and
thought I’d do a bit more research so I looked at the amazon
reviews, and people seemed to be satisfied with it, so I thought
I’d do a bit more looking around to see if this was actually a
good one, turns out it’s one of the best for its price (£25). So
I thought well it’s 25 quid, may as well give it a go.

Setup

A few days passed, and it arrived. I opened it up, and the first
thing I noticed was the size of it. It was smaller than I thought
it would be. It’s a small square with a UK plug on the end of it.
There’s one button on the top, which is a WPS button. There’s an
LED light, and a small reset button, and that’s it. The product
documentation said it was very easy to set up, and it could even
be done from a smart phone or tablet, so I grabbed the trusty
iPhone and got to work.

I plugged it in, and started searching for the device in my WiFI
settings. Eventually, I found it, connected, and opened Safari. I
was presented with a screen asking me which language I wanted. I
chose english, and clicked next. It then started searching for
broadcasting SSID’s, and eventually pulled up a list of networks.
I chose our BTHub 3, and clicked next again. It attempted to
connect, which I knew it wouldn’t be able to, but it then popped
up asking for the key. I gave it the key, pressed next and hoped
for succession.

Now this is the bit that confused me. It asked me to enter a
password for its interface, and told me to leave blank if I
hadn’t chosen one yet and it was the first time I was being
asked. I did as it said, and clicked continue. I didn’t know
this, but my phone had switched back to the BTHub, and the Belkin
network had disappeared, so I just got rerouted to my DNS page
telling me that it couldn’t find that address. I logged in to the
hub, and sure enough there was the Belkin device in the connected
section. I noted its IP, browsed to it, and sure enough there was
a status page telling me the device was functioning correctly and
some general info about it; serial number, firmware version, etc.

I then decided to move it to another socket in the house to one
that wasn’t used as often, (well basically not at all because
it’s in a cupboard), so it was more on the edge of the signal.
According to the documentation, this would make it function
better.

Thoughts?

I’ve been using it for around 2 days now, and what a difference
it’s made. I now see 3 bars of WiFi in my room instead of 1, or
3G. I haven’t seen a dramatic speed decrease, but then again I haven’t tried FaceTime or Skype on it yet, so that will be
something I shall update on once I’ve tried it; I just wanted to
get this post out there.

If you find yourself in need of a WiFi
extender, I would highly recommend this one. We’ll see if it
holds out but for now, it seems to be happy. One thing I will
note, it gets rather hot, but a good thing is it can be moved
around without losing its settings, so if ever I need the WiFi to
be extended outside, I can just move it closer to the outside. If
you’d like to pick one up, you can get one for 25 quid in the UK
from
,
or $39 if you’re in the US on

If you’d like to contact me, please do via the

page, or tweet me

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

The state of accessible television in the UK

Introduction

Hi everyone,
There’s something that’s been bugging me recently, and that is that blind people haven’t really got it that easy when it comes to television in the UK, accessibility wise, that is.
This includes seeing what is on now, or flicking through the TV guide to see what’s on later.
If you don’t pay for your TV through a service like Sky or Virgin Media, where you can’t control your box through the mobile apps provided, you’re kind of stuck. Unless you buy a TV in the Panasonic Viera range of TV’s that have in built speech, that makes the EPG and most of the TV’s features accessible.
The other alternative is to buy a Freeview box, which acts like a satellite or cable box, accept it uses your regular TV arial to deliver the FreeView service. Most TV’s come with Freeview built in, but you still can’t access the EPG guide and other features. You can change channels, if you know the numbers, and turn it up and down, and that’s about it unless someone sited has sat with you and gone through button presses and whatnot. The RNIB used to have a solution to this, which was called a Goodmans Smart Talk freeview box

As I am registered blind on my TV licence, I was offered the opportunity to buy one of these for £40 as the analog channels were being switched off. This was a few years ago now, and it’s still just about working.
Then, the RNIB had another product. This was the TVonics DTR-HD500 talking Freeview HD recorder. As the name suggests, it is a talking FreeView HD box that also has a 500 GB hard drive built-in so shows can be recorded.

(http://recombu.com/digital/news/talking-freeview-hd-recorder-tvonics-dtr-hd500_M10371.html)

i wasn’t really interested in this when it came on to the market, as my current Freeview box was doing just fine. I decided to google around for it a few months ago, as my smart talk had started to become slow at changing channels, and was just generally showing its age by forgetting settings, ETC and I couldn’t really find much info on it. The RNIB know longer sold it in their online shop, however it was still mentioned on their accessing TV page. (No longer the case)

(http://www.rnib.org.uk/information-everyday-living-home-and-leisure-television-radio-and-film/television)

Can you get to the point please?

Fine. I emailed the RNIB, and asked them why they no longer sold it. At the time, it was still listed on the TV page, so I asked them why it was still listed. I also used the opportunity to have a little bit of a rant, and I’m going to have that rant again, but on my blog this time.

Said Rant

So if you’re still reading, odds on you’re interested in my rant. Well here goes.

This is the email I sent:
—-

“I would like to know why you no-longer sell the TVonics DTR HD500 Free-view HD Recorder: . It is a great shame because you are basically forcing people who want to have an accessible TV to go out and spend hundreds up on hundreds of pounds which they may not be able to afford on a Panasonic TV with talking features instead.
I was glancing around at new free view boxes since my smart talk is a few years old now and is starting to get slow (well it always was), and preferably wanted to stick with a talking one, and wanted one with a hard drive so I could record shows. I’d get sky plus, but I’m currently a student at the Royal National College in Hereford, so this is not at all feasible.
We have a Panasonic talking TV at home, and I think it is brilliant, but it cost us £800, and I’m quite happy with my little 19 inch TV that I currently have sitting on my desk.
We also have sky plus at home, and I can manage to control that fine with a combination of iPhone apps and the remote itself, but again, it’s not feasible; plus, I really can’t afford it.
Yes, I know, I could just watch things on catch up services like the iPlayer, etc, but 4OD is a joke for accessibility on the mac, as is ITV player.
It also really irritates me that audio described programs aren’t put in the iPlayer apps, which I have contacted the BBC about, and got a very closed response.
SkyGo is ok on android and iOS, as is netflics, but neither of these offer audio described content.
Please write back soon.
Thanks,
Kieran.”

I have also been told now that Virgin media’s television service is accessible with its iOS app, but that still doesn’t help my situation.

Did you get anything back?

As a matter of fact, I did.
I’ve cleaned up some of the formatting, but here it is:
“Dear Kiiran, (Notice the incorrect name)

Thank you so much for your E-Mail.
Appologies for the delay but we’ve been moving offices and are a bit
behind with responding.
It is not our choice believe us all of a sudden we found out that the
TVOnics is discontinued therefore we won’t be selling it anymore. It’s a
great shame, we know that and we ourselves really regret that we are not
selling it anymore. One of our comments has always been that it’s the
best thing after sliced bread. We are in communication with other
providers and hope to offer an alternative product in the future.

So not much comfort at the moment but atleast you know our position.

Best regards,

(RNIB employee; name removed, (call them XXX))”.

So not the response I was really hoping for, but it’s a response in any case.
The delay in question was approximately 11 days, so I’m not complaining about that, it didn’t really bother me, I just wanted to make my feelings known.
I will continue to enjoy sky Go and Netflics, and as much of catch up TV as I can, but as I am at home for the summer now, Sky has taken over as my main source for watching TV.
I will also point out here TV Catchup, but that doesn’t have as many channels as it used to.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I think a lot more could be done to make TV more accessible for visually impaired people in the UK, especially those on a budget who don’t have a high amount of income to have services like Sky, or Virgin Media.
I believe that visually impaired people have as much right to access as much television as they choose, as I believe quite a few of them would like to. However they still have this massive barrier in the way of finding out what is on now or later, unless they use the internet or a smart phone app, but I am yet to find a good TV listings app for FreeView channels that is accessible.

Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share them in the comment section below.

Kieran L’s Summer Smashers Mix

Hey there everyone, this isn’t the kind of thing I would normally stick on my blog, but I thought I would, so here goes.
If you’ve read the about page on the site, you’ll know I like my music, I like it quite a lot.
I also like to mix said music, (if it is mixable).
So, I’ve combined the two in to a new 1 hour 3 minute long mix of some of my favorite house/EDM tracks that are around at the minute and that I think are going to be really big this summer.
If you’d like to check it out, it’s below.

Kieran L’s Summer smashers Mix by Kieran Little on Mixcloud

And if you can’t see the player, here’s a link to it on MixCloud.
http://www.mixcloud.com/kieranlittle667/kieran-ls-summer-smashers-mix/
Thanks very much, and I hope you enjoy it.

Being the sound engineer for the FMP performance at RNC

Introduction

Last Friday,(13/06/2014) the performing arts department at RNC put on their final major performance, and they had some sound cues for audio descriptions they needed recorded and played during the performance. They also needed someone to control microphones, and provide music. You can probably guess who was asked to help out with this. Yeah, yours truly.
I have worked with Cara Tivey and another performance that happened earlier on in the year, so I jumped at the chance when it was offered again.

The weeks leading up to the performance

The audio descriptions had to be recorded, but with it being near the end of the year I found myself swamped with lots of work from other places that I had to do, leaving me with little time to prepare for this performance. This is where the media department helped me out. The descriptions were to be recorded by the brother of one of the performers in the show. This was done by the department’s intern, Andy Bailey on one of the department’s studios that is suited for recording voiceovers. Andy has a script that he had to read to the student, the student also had a copy to follow along with. Both of these were in braille. Both Andy and the student knew which parts of the script had to be expressed in a certain way, and Andy got the student to say each part multiple times to make sure it was perfect. Then Andy, having recorded these in to one long file asked me if I wanted him to split and edit them, or leave them in a place that I can access so that I could do it.
I chose to edit these myself, as this would give me a chance to familiarise myself with the recordings, and also the script.

I sat down to edit these, which basically meant me choosing the best take of each description and the one that I thought sounded the best.

I edited this song on to the end of one of the descriptions, so it was a more immediate transition.

I then had to fine a rain sound effect and extend it so it was about 45 seconds or so.
Once I’d done this, I burned all of the files on to an audio CD using windows media player. In the rehearsal I ran in to a problem however, this being that WMP had not left gaps between the tracks. I was puzzled by this, so I decided to ask Andy if he had any ideas, and he asked around the department a bit, and it seemed like the option that was going to work best would be to burn the CD again using iTunes; which lets you set how much of a gap you want between the tracks. I would have done this in the first place, but I was being lazy using the windows way because I didn’t want to reboot the mac I was using in to OSX. But, I did and set a gap of 5 seconds, which was very good.

The night of the performance itself

So, it was the Friday, and me and Andy had been emailing back and forth the hole afternoon, so when I left my IT lesson, I ran straight over to the media department. It was a buzz with excitement, the show being only a few hours away. This is when I burned the CD again using iTunes.
I was also in charge of playing music when the audience are taking their seats, and Andy was in charge of some quiet music while the audience were milling around upstairs. I decided to use Spotify to do this, so I made a playlist, and downloaded it for offline playing. I used my phone to play this through the desk.
I got upstairs at about 18:40, for a 19:30 start. I wanted to get up there early to make sure that everything was in a working order, and all four microphones and their cables were happy.
I discovered that all was good, and that they all worked. I then asked a couple of members of the cast if they wouldn’t mind doing a quick sound check for me, so I could get the levels right, even though they hadn’t changed from the day before. The slightest thing may have changed though, so I had to check.
The audience were scheduled to start coming up and taking their seats at 19:15, so at 19:10 I started the music playing. To make sure that no one would be able to tell I was using my phone, I was using it with my BrailleNote as a braille display with speech off.
I also had the script open on there, just in case I got lost with what was supposed to be happening.
The show went ahead and started without any issues. The audience were loving it, clapping along, etc and all was going well until the 4th peace where I actually lost my place on the CD, but I managed to quickly resolve it.
My main challenge during the show was to balance the mice out so they sounded good and people would focus on the main person singing. According to comments I got after the show, I did this quite well. This included taking the low ends off because I thought it sounded better and it also meant the singer could project their voice more. I also made sure that the CD player had lots of low and high end to utilise the speakers we were using. I got complemented for this as well, people saying they’d never really heard bass through those speakers before. I also panned the mice out according to peoples positions on stage. This was accomplished by each microphone having a number. For peaces where there was only one person singing, I panned them centre.
My favourite arrangement of the night was the very end peace, which was the song happy.

I managed to balance this perfectly according to Andy, and it sounded good.

Wrapping up

I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the team that pulled this performance together, and would jump at the opportunity to do it again. It was an excellent night.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, as much as I have done writing it, and look out for more in the future!
Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions about this or anything else, get me through the
Until next time.

Why I chose to buy a nexus7

Hello there, and welcome to my second blog post on this blog.

In this one, I have decided to talk about why I bought a nexus7. I’ll be talking about why I think it’s a good device, how I use it, and my experience with it.

the background

If you know me, you’ll know I’m in to apple. Well, I have an iPod, an iPhone, and a mac. So you’d think when I went on the hunt for a tablet my first thought you have been the iPad or the iPad mini.

There’s a reason I go with apple: there stuff is reliable and is of a good quality (hardware and software).
But, as you’ve probably guessed by the title of this post, I didn’t go for the iPad. I had heard a lot about android accessibility in the past few months, and I really wanted to give it a go. Plus, I’d gotten a little bit stagnant with iOS. Yeah, it’s good, but if I got an iPad, it would be the same stuff, just on a bigger screen. So, I started looking at nexus7’s on eBay. I liked the idea of a 7 inch screen, as I can still hold it with one hand and be comfortable.
I also wanted something to watch catch up TV on besides the mac who wasn’t really accessible.

It took me ages to find a 2012 nexus 7 for less than £150, but I eventually won one.
The day it arrived was an exciting day. I had to get someone sited to look at it for me though, and it turns out the person who’d I bought it from hadn’t reset it to factory defaults, and had left it locked with a pattern. I googled on how to reset it to factory settings without gaining access, and to cut a long story short, managed to reset it.

what next

This was exciting for me, so I turn on accessibility set it up, and then updated it to android version 4.4, it being on 4.2.
I started playing with it, downloading apps and what not, (I should add that I had looked up the talkback gestures beforehand and they’re similar to iOS, so I knew how to get around) (The explore by touch tutorial also helped).

let’s jump a few months

so, that was all in January, and it’s now June. What are my thoughts now? Personally? I’m still in love with the thing.

However, I managed to crack the screen on my 2012 model, so sold it to my dad who decided he would get it fixed, and I bought the 2013 model on eBay instead for a similar price to what I’d paid for the 2012. That was in April.
I’m still in love with it, and use it every day. I use it to watch a whole host of things: netflics, BBC iPlayer, 4OD and demand five content. I also use it to watch the Sky go and TV catch-up services. Sky go providing a live TV and catch-up service.
I also use it to do a whole host of social activities, including skyping family and friends, using google hangouts, and using Facebook and twitter.
I am also able to get around the unlabelled buttons and elements in the Spotify app quite nicely, although I have contacted them, and they have replied saying that they are going to pass my message on to the development team.
My nexus has also replaced my Kindle device for reading, even though it is reading with the eloquence TTS, it’s still pretty good.
Yeah, you read right, I got the Eloquence TTS synth for my nexus. I did this because I wanted to know how it would perform and whether I would actually like it. The answer, I do. It reminds me of the talks on Symbian days and it’s actually quite responsive.

so there must be some downfalls with it?

Well I’m not going to lie here; there are a few little gripes that irritate me. The two strongest ones being that I can’t access my iTunes match subscription on there, which I could fix by getting google play music, but the music manager is inaccessible for both windows and mac.
My other really big gripe is the presence of Facebook chat heads where ever I am. I hate these as they get in my way, and they enable anyone who picks up my tablet to see who I’ve been chatting with. According to lots of googling, there used to be a setting to turn these off but it was removed. My solution for this at the moment is to move them right to the edge of the screen so they don’t get in my way.
There’s a stupid gripe that I have, and I’m not really sure why I complain about this because I know it’ll never happen, but it irritates me a little bit that my tablet doesn’t receive iMessages when my mac, iPhone and iPod do. There’s a simple solution to this, which is by an iPad or iPad mini but they’re outside my price range so that’s something I’ll have to live with.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I believe that android is now a very viable option to buy accessibility wise. It still has its downfalls, that being that there isn’t as many accessibility oriented apps or games for the blind and visually impaired, however if you’re looking for something that will let you watch some catch up TV, do some skyping, and some tweet and facebooking, or you’re just looking for a device that you can try android on, the nexus7 (2012 or 2013) is a great device for beginners.
The 2013 model comes in two sizes (16 and 32 GB), and can be purchased new for around £150 on amazon for the 16 GB, or £180 for the 32 GB.
I hope you’ve found this post useful in some way shape or form.
If you would like to add anything or ask me any questions, please either drop a comment in the comments below, or drop me a line through the contact page.
Thanks for reading.

Hello World!

Well hello there and welcome to my new place on the internet. This is a totally new thing for me. I bought the server space where this blog is hosted, set it all up, and then set up and configured the site itself. “Why?” I hear you asking. To see whether I could is the answer.
I’ve played with wordpress blogs in the past, and I loved it so I thought I’d give a go.
I bought a VPS from OVH and a domain from Name Cheap, and said “let’s do this!”
I’m not going to go in to all the geeky details, because no one apart from other geeks will want to read it. But, let’s just say I couldn’t have done it without google’s help.

Why a blog?

Well I tried blogging in the past, but I wasn’t very good at it. I ran out of things to say pretty quickly, and then forgot about it. But it was on live journal, and it was years ago so I figured why not try again.

If you’ve looked through the rest of the site, you’ll have probably gathered that I’m a fan of the micro blogging service Twitter, and there’s links to my twitter all over the place. I like this because it forces me to not ramble and get to the point, especially since i seem to rant a fare bit.

Anyway, I found myself quite liking the idea of trying to blog again so here I am. I found myself reading other people’s blogs and thinking “yeah, I could do that”.

So what will you be writing about?

A hole host of stuff. I haven’t quite figured out what I’ll use this blog for yet. I’d like to write reviews on different mobile (iPhone/android), and mac apps. I’ll also be writing about different peaces of technology, and how I use them. I’ll also review any new peace of technology I get.

I may also write about things that I’ve done, things that I might be doing, or just things that are bothering me. There may be interesting things in my life also going on. They may also be blogged about.

What if I want to tell you your blog sucks?

Well I’m not going to discourage comments of the blog sucking variety, that aside you can say what every you want. Tell me it’s great, tell me it sucked, recommend me an app, suggest a change to the site, I’m open. Hit me.

You can get in touch via the contact page. There’s even a handy form. Just fill that out, and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Also, comments on the blogs are welcome. Again, just fill out the form and I shall respond appropriately. Feel free to discuss stuff in the comments.

Do you plan on doing anything else with this site?

Well if I find myself like making music, or programming stuff, (both definitely possible), I’ll definitely stick a page up here with all the stuff in to it. If that makes sense.

At the minute, blogging is this site’s main purpose.

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!