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Spencer's Spotlight

For your reading convenients below you will find all the Spencer's Spotlight published in 2019

January 2019

Here's hoping that each and every one of you have the best possible year ever! Personally, 2018 was an extremely challenging year for me so I am not sad to have it behind me.

For this month's spotlight item, I would like to tell you about a pretty incredible speaker I have recently acquired. It is made by Bose and it is the SoundLink Micro. It is the smallest bluetooth speaker to date they make.

It has a four-inch rounded square appearance and fits comfortably in the palm of my hand. It is rugged, meaning it can take some abuse without causing it any harm. It has a silicone base and four protrusions on the bottom of each corner for feet. The dimensions are approximately 4by 4 square, by about not quite 2 inches high.

This is a take anywhere speaker. Did I tell you it is waterproof! Yes, you can get it wet, it can go in the shower with you, to the pool, and even to the beach. It is also equipped with a silicone strap that can be attached to a showerhead, tote bag, belt, or a beach chair. It doesn't look very stable but indeed once attached it has a very firm and secure grip.

If your mouth is not watering by now, let's talk about the features this little baby has. Of course there is bluetooth, but it can connect up to eight devices! Yes, eight. When you turn on the speaker, you will hear a double tone to let you know it is on. Then when you push the silicone covered button to the right of the micro USB charging port, it will announce the battery percentage. YES, it talks!

After the battery percentage, it will proceed to announce which device is currently connected. Although it can connect to eight devices, it will only tell you the first two. If it is not the device you are interested in working with, you can press the pairing button, yes, it is also silicone covered, and each press will cycle through all the connected devices until you reach the one you want. A long press of the pairing button will put it in pairing mode so you can connect another device. It is sooooo cooool, one speaker and 8 devices.

Okay, now let's take a look at the top. On the top left there is volume up, then the pause/ play in the center, and on the right is volume down. The volume buttons double as previous track and next track when pressed twice in quick succession. Another feature is that it has a microphone built-in and you can actually answer the phone pressing the play/pause button and use it as a speaker phone.

Okay now, I know you are wanting to know the most important thing, how much is this small but feature loaded speaker. I was surprised to find it on Amazon for 99 dollars and I have seen it as low as 69 dollars.

I have not been this impressed with a speaker since I introduced the little sound core Nano. So, if you are in the market for such a versatile speaker such as the Bose SoundLink Micro, I give this one a thumbs up. It is really affordable by Bose standards.

February 2019

Okay, I seem to be in a speaker mode. At least I managed to step away from the kitchen. This month’s featured speaker is brand new to me, in fact, I had never heard of this type of product. It was a gift from some special friends of mine for my birthday.

When I opened the box, I had no earthly idea what it was. I called up Aira and the agent told me it was a neck speaker. I thought, neck speaker? Then I had the agent read the instructions and the more she read, the more excited I became about this speaker concept.

What an ingenious idea this is especially for the blind. This is a new way to listen to your audio content. Wear your music while you do what you do. Wear this body speaker while doing chores, at the gym, walking, or just at home relaxing.

Because the speaker is situated below your ears, this is the safest way to listen to your music while being alert to your surroundings and enjoying full body stereo sound. More than just a speaker, this speaker is also Bluetooth capable, so you can pair it to your phone or other Bluetooth device and play the content through the neck speaker.

You can also answer and talk on the phone. It has a micro SD slot so you could load described movies or books on to a micro SD card or a flash drive. There is even a radio built-in.

I have really enjoyed having this speaker. One thing I have noticed about it, there is nothing on your head or in your ears. Unlike other speakers, you have to pick them up and carry them from room to room, but with the neck speaker design, the sound goes wherever you go!

This speaker is no longer in stock where it was purchased, so I went to my go to place for technology, Amazon. You weren't surprised, were you? The price ranges from around 40 dollars and up. So, my advice is if you are interested in getting a neck or body speaker, check the options, read the reviews and product details, and make an informed decision.
Happy safe listening.

March 2019

Last month I wrote about something I received for my Birthday. This month's item, oddly enough, just happens to be about something I received for Christmas. This is a backpack made by Sosoon. Now, I hear what you are thinking, a backpack? What kind of tech item is a backpack? Yeah, right! I know really, let me explain.

I am sure that a lot of you have already been introduced to this kind of product. However, this is new to me. Yes, I do need to get out more, working on it. Anyway, besides being a great backpack with loads, and I do mean loads of pockets, it comes equipped with a USB connecter, as well as an audio cable.

When I first saw the cables, I could not for the life of me figure out how it worked. The cables were literally sewn into the fabric of the backpack. I asked my sister Becky, and she had no idea. So, I went in search of an answer as to how it worked. YouTube was just a video with a lot of looky here and how cool is this. When my neighbor came over, I showed it to her and she figured it out. Eureka! You will never guess, of course unless you already know, and that does not count.

The way this works is really cool. The backpack has two straps, one has a USB input and on the other one is the audio input. So, you can have an MP3 player, or similar device plugged in the inside of the backpack via the built-in audio cable. Then you can listen to content by attaching your ear buds into the audio input on the strap. Wow, what a neat idea. You can hook up a power bank to the inside cable. Then, when you need to charge your phone, just plug the USB end of your charging cable into the USB input on the strap and twala!

This backpack is loaded with features other than the tech aspect. It holds up to a 15-inch laptop. It has a separate pocket for an iPad or tablet. There are separate spacious spaces for all kinds of accessories. I can see me using this as a weekend bag with no problem.

Other features include a strap for sunglasses, a key ring holder, two water bottle pockets, a concealed pocket on the back, three small pockets for smaller items, and a sleeve on the back for attaching to a luggage handle. This backpack is made of durable fabric, and the straps are wide and comfortable, distributing weight effectively. It comes with a lifetime warranty and the fabric is tear resistant.

I am not sure wear my sister ordered the one for me. I found one on Amazon, of course, for an amazing price of 25 dollars and 99 cents, and free shipping for prime members. Needless to say, I am highly impress with this product and if you are in the market for a backpack, the one made by Sosoon is hard to beat!

April 2019

This month I am straying from the norm and taking a suggestion from one of the Blind Prospective readers and writing about one of the products he is interested in learning about. So, thank you Roger from Canada for the idea.

Roger wanted to know about a pressure active mat that emits a sound when someone steps on it. As I was doing the research for this item, I thought of many ways I could use it myself! How about in front of my door to let me know when someone is there. I could also put one by the back door to let me know when my dog, or in my case, my horse is ready to come inside. Some other uses I thought of include putting it at either the top or bottom of stairs if you have small children, in order to keep them safe. Again regarding children, it can be place in front of cabinets that they shouldn’t get into, as an added safety measure. It can be placed next to beds of children or elderly people who have a habit of wandering about. Who knew this type of item could have so many practical and simple solutions perfect for the blind.

To help, let me tell you about a product I found that match these scenarios.
Ideal Security SK630 Solo pressure alarm with loud buzz and pleasant chime. Notifies you of visitors, intruders or people passing by. It has two modes, alarm and chime. The alarm trigger will emit a loud 105 db 30 second sound. This would be good to set this at night before going to bed. This sounds like it would be loud enough to discourage anyone who may be up to no good.

In Chime mode, it triggers a ding dong sound which goes off twice each time the mat is activated, and emits 95db sound. A cool feature is that it can be just a mat when you do not wish to be bothered with the alarm or chime. Choices, I love choices!

Although this mat is not waterproof, it can be placed under a waterproof mat and can withstand cold temperatures to 14 degrees F (-10 c).

The alarm unit is connected to the mat with 30 feet of very thin wire so you can place the alarm unit in the best location to suit your needs. There is even hardware included so it can be mounted to the wall. In my case, I would want to maintain flexibility then again, it is nice to have a choice.

The mat is designed to be sensitive to even small animals. It will be triggered when anything exerting more than 1 pound per square inch steps on it. So, if you are sneaking around, avoid this mat.

This mat is battery operated and based on a trigger of 20times per day the battery can last up to 5 months of use.

There is no volume control, so it is either on or off.
Dimensions are 21.75X13.75.
Battery size is 9 volt which is not included.

Okay, now to the best part, the price. It is just a mere 22 dollars and 27 cents, and is prime eligible. Just so you know, yes, it is in my cart. I am sold!
Thanks, Roger, for suggesting such a useful and practical product.

If anyone would like to suggest an item for the Spencer's Spotlight, send me an email and I will certainly give it my consideration.

May 2019

Spring is here and summer is fast approaching and a lot of outdoor events will be on the agenda. Picnics, camping, sports, swimming, biking, and hiking; you get the point. This month’s spotlight fits right in line with the on the go theme.

A lot of blind and visually impaired people wear sunglasses for cosmetic reasons, light sensitivity, or just because. I myself, do not wear sunglasses anymore. Well, this little gadget just may change my mind.

Other than providing protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, sunglasses can do so much more than you could believe. In this day and age, multitasking is the thing. Even our phones do so much more than make phone calls.

As I was doing research for these particular sunglasses, I realized that sunglasses have been multi-functional for many years now with built-in video cameras and let's not forget the Google glass with its video capability. As a blind person, this kind of functionality meant nothing to me but now, my attention has been grabbed by a new kind of usefulness for me, and perhaps you too!

A pair of sunglasses can now be bluetoothed to your phone or other audio-based devices such as your television. While wearing these glasses, you can now enjoy your favorite music, radio or television program or enjoy reading an audio book while at the beach, in the park or even at a sporting event. There are even microphones built in to the frames so you can actually answer the phone all with just your sunglasses. That totally amazes me.

There are actually several brands available. The price ranges from as low as 16 dollars and 99 cents for Techken Sunglasses which is Amazon's choice, and by the way, I am going to give them a try for that price. My searches found them on Amazon and Ebay. There are even waterproof versions to consider if you go to the pool or beach. I have a friend that has the Bose Bluetooth Audio sunglasses, and I must say, the quality of the microphone is most impressive. These sunglasses sell for 199 Dollars, from Bose.

I can't wait to get my sunglasses. I will let you know next month if they live up to the hype. wow, who knew that the sunglasses we have been sporting for years now has just become the ultra cool thing to wear!

June 2019

Remember last month I promised to tell you my impressions of the Techken Bluetooth sunglasses that I ordered from Amazon. I opted for the 16 dollars and 99 cents pair. When I first opened the package, I thought they were pretty funky looking. Very futuristic. I have a very small head so most sunglasses are too big for me. I solved the problem of them slipping off my head by wrapping an elastic band around the ends of the arms and my hair covered it well, so all is good.

The pairing process was pretty easy and I was able to hear my iPhone well. When I made a phone call, the audio was clear. All and all, in my opinion, it was a good buy. Those that have opted to get the Bose sunglasses are very happy with their choice as well.

Now, for this month’s spotlight item. Have you ever had trouble getting out of bed in the morning, not wanting to let go of the pillow and that nice dream you were having? Me too! I have actually slept so well that the alarms sounded, and I slept through all 4 alarms I had set. I hate it when the day starts with me running as soon as my feet hit the floor. I found a little gadget that might just help. it is called the TCLPulse Bluetooth enabled vibration and Sound Alarm.

The pulse unit pairs with your iPhone and apparently there is an ap that is voiceover friendly where you can setup all kinds of alarms and reminders. As many as 10 per day. The ap can control the strength of the vibration and this can be kind of cool if your partner is a light sleeper. Or, you can use a combination of sound and vibration to manage your sleep interruption.

This is also a solution to those of us that do not hear as well as others. The pulse device fits inside your pillowcase so when the alarm goes off, it vibrates and or makes sounds to wake you up.

Below are the product details, taken from their website:
Bluetooth 4.0
Each I O S device can monitor up to 5 TCL pulse vibrations
Program up to 10 alarms for any day of the week
LED indicator shows status with colors and patterns
Adjustable vibration/sound with snooze
Countdown timer
Wake up by vibrations, sound, or both
Color black
Weight is 0.5 lbs.

The price is 39 dollars and 95 cents which sounds like a good deal, considering what it does. Amplicon USA manufactures this device and it sold by A. T. Guys. Their web address is: www.AtGguys.com

July 2019

Here in North America we are sliding into the heart of summer and the outdoors awaits. Whether you are sitting by the pool, on the patio, camping, going to the beach, hiking, or simply taking a walk in the neighborhood, we all can't manage to go tech free. Our cell phones, book readers or similar items are ever accompanying us. So, this presents the common problem of battery power for these devices.

Portable power banks to the rescue. Power banks are used to provide portable power to charge battery powered items like cell phones, and other similar items that use a USB interface. Power banks work by using sophisticated electronics that manage taking in a charge from a charger and storing it in a battery, and then allowing the charging of other devices. All you really have to know is that it works.

The power of the bank is what to look at when shopping for a power bank. There are two types of batteries that are used. Lithium-Ion offers a high-power density and does not have what is known as "the memory effect."

Lithium polymer are generally more robust, flexible and they tend to last longer. They are lightweight, have a low profile and have a lower chance of suffering from an electrolyte leakage. Looks like Mr. polymer is also environmentally friendly.

Most commonly, a power bank will use a micro USB to charge its bank. The larger USB type A connector is used to enable the power bank to charge other devices. This means that standard charging cables supplied with most phones and other devices can be used. Normal USB have a type A connector.

Power banks have electronic battery management which includes a safety cut off to prevent overcharging and overheating. It is best to make sure you charge the power bank after you have used it to make sure it is always ready to go when you are.

Okay, you ask, which one? Yes, that can be quite the dilemma. It really all depends on individual preference. Fortunately, for us, there is a plethora of choices.

Power banks can range from the very small and slim, offering enough battery power for emergency purposes, to extremely large capacity power banks that are strong enough to jump a car battery. There are ones that are built-in to purses, backpacks, even phone cases. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some can charge anywhere from one device up to 4, and possibly more at the same time.

My preference falls somewhere in the midrange. I like to have the peace of mind that if I am out and about for the better part of the day, I will have enough juice to get me back home.

Power banks are widely available just about any department or electronic store. They can also be found in your favorite on line store. Prices can range from under 10.00 to 50.00 and up depending on your choice and capacity.

So, with the right power bank in hand, enjoy the peace of mind knowing that while out and about during these long lazy days of summer you are still connected!

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