Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rat chat (FD)

Christmas is five weeks away, and everyone is at least starting to think about it, if they haven't already done more than that. Also, people's thoughts are turning to what they'd like for Christmas.

A few years back I mentioned on here about wanting a lion. I know it's not a realistic wish, but I like lions. I know I couldn't provide one with what it really needs, and a lion is a wild animal that belongs out in the wild and not in captivity. But knowing that doesn't stop me wanting a pet lion.

There is another pet I've wanted since I was a child that I only haven't had because first my Mam and then Kelly insisted there was no way I could have it though... Something other than a lion, I mean.

A rat.

Now, I know there will be people who wonder why I would want a pet rat, because rats have bad reputations. But rats are generally very clean and intelligent creatures, and their social nature makes them very friendly. These things combined make them fantastic pets.

I've wanted a pet rat since I was about nine or ten, and my brother, Carl, has wanted one for as long as I can remember. But neither of us could convince Mam to get us one.

I was having just as little luck with convincing Kelly... Until now!

A litter of female rats managed in like ten seconds to achieve what I've been trying to for more than ten years: convince Kelly that rats are cute.

The result was that two of them became early Christmas gifts for me.

They're of the variety of rats known as Brown Rats, though they're actually a colour called Berkshire Pearl, which is a silvery grey with white tummies. One of them also has a white marking on her forehead, which is called a blaze on a rat, but would be called a flame or star on a horse. It's that marking that helped us to name them...

The one with the marking on her forehead is called Star, and her sister is called Skye, which means cloud.

Neither have really attempted to bite, though both have checked the edibility of our fingers; Skye a bit more roughly than Star, though neither hard enough to draw blood. Star is more outgoing than Skye, and will already allow me to pick her up almost every time I try to (bearing in mind we've had them less than a week). Skye is much more nervous, but will allow me to pet her a little from time to time. Both of them will take food from us, though Skye is more hesitant about doing so than Star is.

They appear to have a fondness for cheese, pumpkin seeds, and dry pasta. Although, they haven't actually refused any food we've provided as yet, and aren't as picky as the degus and gerbils about which parts of their proper food they eat; the gerbils will pick through their gerbil mix, the degus will toss anything they don't want out of their cage, but the rats appear happy to eat everything that makes up their rat mix.

Don't worry, we aren't forgetting the degus and gerbils; if the girls get something, the boys do too... Though - in the degus' case especially - it's sometimes something different. Even down to the fact they got some new toys when I went back to the pet store with Kelly to get some toys and things for the rats.

The boys are curious about them, and often try to get to a spot in their own cages where they can see the girls. They - the degus especially - are also making a point of showing us that they're cute and like to be petted and hand fed too, which is both cute and amusing.

We've taken some photos, but haven't grabbed them off the camera yet. Hopefully soon!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Gerbil photos - November 15th 2014 (FD)

Time for some gerbil photos!

Here's Baggins by the gnawing block:


Bilbo's a bit camera shy sometimes, but Baggins is always ready for a photo, so waits impatiently in the background for an oppertunity to pop up in front of the camera...


Hi Baggins!


If you want to get a photo of Bilbo, your best bet is to bribe him with some nibbles. Cheese or pumpkin seeds work best, since they're his favourites.


Both of the gerbils like to meet up with the degus at the point where their cages are side by side. They have little rodent chats; it's really cute! They seem to be good friends... Perhaps they like to do it so much because both species are very sociable? Anyway, here's Baggins chatting to one of the degus:

Those are all the gerbil photos I have for you today.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Degu photos - November 14th 2014 (FD & kinda LBE)

I've got a few new degu photos to share today.

First, here are a couple of the degus enjoying the coconut shells I gave them after making the coconut cake I made from scratch back in September:


"Mmm... Nibbles!"


Here's the degus' latest cage:


We've had to make some changes to the layout since We added another hammock, and had to move things around so their bowls were on the bottom level because they thought it was great fun pushing them off and watching the food go everywhere. But you get the idea.

Here's one of the boys by one of the bowls before we moved them:


"Mmm... This wooden shelf tastes pretty good!"


One of the degus is obsessed with a wood and rope climbing toy we got them, which is designed for rats. He thinks it's very tasty!


Here's one of the boys on the wheel:


And here's one of them diving in to the sand bath:


And here are all four of the boys in their new cage:


Just before we got the new cage, we moved the degus and gerbils closer to the heater so they could benifit from the heat better when it started to get really cold (which it did not long after we moved them, and the weather's not been all that warm since). Judging by how they like to sleep on one of their ledges - right where they'd benifit most from the heater's heat - I'd say the degus approve.


They also very much approve of the hammocks I made for them.


I made the hammocks using wash cloths with small holes cut in the corners to thread the rings of keyrings through. The keyring rings are what are then used to atatch them to the bars of the cage. I got the idea from the one Luna had.

Anyway, here are a couple of photos of three of the degus just hanging out and enjoying the heat from the heater on a chilly morning:

OK, so I had more than a few degu photos to share, LOL!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Jo-Jo

This is Jo-Jo, or simply Jo.


Though you may not know it to look at him, Jo will be 29 years old this Christmas.

Every child has that one special toy, and Jo-Jo is mine.

I got him for my second Christmas, and all through my childhood he went with me everywhere I was allowed to take him. He was a part of the family; treated as much like a real baby as a doll can be, and even had his own stocking and gifts every Christmas.

That is, until he was packed in a box for a move when I was 15, and got put in the attic.

But now he's been rescued from his box in the attic, and given a new outfit!

Trust me, he really needed the new outfit. What he was wearing wasn't new when he got it, and didn't do too well in the attic. Most of his clothes were either brought new for him, or given to me for him in "as new" condition by people who had babies who had outgrown them before they wore them much, but some of his stuff wasn't in the best of condition when I got it, and - of course - it had to be one of those outfits he was wearing when he went in the box. We got him a whole new outfit a few weeks back though, which you can see on him in the photos at the top of this blog post.

He won't be going everywhere with me like he did when I was a child, but at least he won't be shut in a box in the attic any more. And now he even has his very own blog post!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remember



Today is a day set aside for remembering.

It's officially meant to be for remembering those brave men and women who gave their lives in the hope doing so would keep the rest of us safe.

I've got others to remember today too.

One is my beloved West Highland White Terrier, Keroberous, who left us to make his journey across the rainbow bridge three months ago today. Even though it's been three months, not a day goes by without me thinking of him, and without my heart aching over losing him. Kero was more than just a dog to me; he was my best friend.

The other is my landlord, who died at the very end of October. We didn't know him well, but he'd talk to us whenever he saw us, and was a very nice gentleman with a friendly attitude and a great love of animals. He turned 90 years old a couple of months ago, and had been unwell for a while, so it wasn't unexpected. But losing someone is never pleasant, no matter whether it was unexpected or not, and no matter how well you knew them.

I also know others who have lost someone recently; whether it be someone close to them, or someone they hardly knew. Every loss is a difficult loss. So, while I will remember those brave men and women who lost their lives fighting for us, I will also remember the other losses; recent or otherwise. Because everyone deserves to be remembered!

May those we have lost rest in peace; secure in the knowledge that their memory will live on, even though they're gone. And may those who are left behind find the strength to keep going; even when doing so feels like an almost impossible task!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Crafty update - November 10th 2014

I don't have much to update you on with crafts this time. But here's what I've got to share...

Here's a card I made to put a note in when I sent something to Rita recently. I thought it would be nicer than just a plain note.


This card I made for a very good friend of mine, who had his birthday at the start of November:


And here's the card I made for our niece, Tamara, who had her birthday at the end of October:


I did also finnish making the blanket I was making myself. But I keep forgetting to get Kelly to help me sort photos of it. He'll take the photos as soon as I remember to ask him, I'm sure, LOL! Anyway, I'll get pictures at some point, and post them when I can. But, hey, at least I finnished making it in time for the cold weather, so we both have a new knitted blanket to curl up under this Winter. With how chilly it's gotten already, we need them too!

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Halloween photos 2014 (FD)

Yeah, I know Halloween was over a week ago, so I'm a bit late with these. But here are my Halloween decorations for this year anyway. Better late than never, right?



I've had these masks a couple of years, but this year I used some sticky tape and googly eyes to give these masks eyes, and then added tongues using some craft felt and more sticky tape. The kids who came trick-or-treating thought it was great.


While looking in my craft box for my googly eye collection, I found this large foam maple leaf. I thought it would be a nice addition to our Halloween decorations, so made a hole in the top to thread some string through to hang it up. Well, actually it's wool I used to hang it up, since I only remembered after cutting the wool that I do actually have some string in one of my craft boxes.


Kelly painted this bat for me a couple of years ago.


I bet this year's Mr. Pumpkin-Head felt very important to be put in charge of the "beware" sign by the gate, and greet the trick-or-treaters as they arrived. I'm sure he loved all the comments about him from children and adults alike.


Here's a close up of this year's Mr. Pumpkin-Head:


I didn't get a photo of it, but I made pasta with pumpkin sage sauce and cheese for dinner the day I carved Mr. Pumpkin-Head.

Anyway... That's all folks... Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Winter is coming... It's time for a giveaway!

Winter is coming, the weather is getting colder, and book lovers are preparing to curl up with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate beside the fire, or in their favourite reading chair.

If you're one of those people, you should head on over to Random Smiles and enter the "Winter Is Coming" giveaway!

If you do, you could win copies of books by myself and many other awesome authors!

That's right! Just go to http://mooneyesrandomsmile.blogspot.ca/2014/11/winter-is-coming-giveaway.html and you could be reading a pile of free books this Winter!

Complete giveaway details can be found on the post I just linked to.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Random ramblings - November 4th 2014

Today is Iggy's birthday, so... Happy birthday, Iggy!

***

We had an excellent storm early hours of this morning. We've had a few decent ones, but this one was quite impressive. Of course, what I'd really love is some of that snow that some parts of the US and Canada already seem to be getting. Don't get me wrong, I love a good thunder storm. I can't help being jealous of the people who have snow already though!

***

We had 11 kids show up for trick-or-treating this year: 2 zombies, 2 skeletal ghouls, 2 princesses, a werewolf, a goblin, a ghost, a witch, and a cat. Not too bad, but I'd have liked to have had a few more. They all loved the pumpkin I carved though, so that's pretty cool. Should have some photos of my pumpkin and our other few Halloween decorations, but they're still on the camera (along with all those other photos I mentioned; one day we'll get to them, honest).

***

It's time for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), butI'm not bothering with it at all this year. Last year I used NaNoWriMo to give myself a nudge to sit down and finnish the stack of half written stories I had, but I don't have that problem this year. In fact, I recently pre-released one called "Lonely Little Princess" that I hadn't planned to be done with until early next year, will be pre-releasing one called "The Forgotten Angel" very soon, and am just doing the final edits of "Yua And The Great Wizard Hunt" too. The three titles I just mentioned will be available in late November, December, and January respectively. I'm also quite a way through work on a story called "Isabelle's runaway Racehorse" and have started work on the book I'm doing for Bilbo and Baggins (our gerbils). Oh, and I have a poetry collection just about sorted ready to be published early next year too. So, yeah, I don't really need the nudge from NaNoWriMo this year; I have plenty on the go, but am doing just fine with actually sitting down and working on them. I even have covers for all the books I just mentioned, except the gerbil story; all but the one for "The Forgotten Angel" done by Iggy, actually. And I was just talking to Jacob this morning about covers for a series of books with faerie dragons in them, which I have some scribbles for already, and will be working on properly soon.

Friday, October 31, 2014

October 2014 reading challenge - Halloween costumes

As usual, there was another reading challenge on one of the groups I'm on over on Goodreads.

This month's reading challenge was to read books to represent the top 10 Halloween costumes.

I actually got them all read about half way through the month, but decided to hold off posting until today, since it's a Halloween challenge and today is Halloween. So, here's the list, and the details for what I read for each costume:

10. Superman - Read any book with the main character has some sort of power.

The MegaDog Tales 2: The Regal Beagle (MegaDog Tales, #2) by Dale Alderman ~ read on October 8th 2014.

9. Cat Woman - Read any book that contains a feline shifter as one of the characters.

Boil (Salem's Revenge, #2) by David Estes ~ read on October 3rd 2014.

8. Ghost - Read a book that has ghosts in it

Wedding March And Other Ghost Stories by Timothy Frost ~ read on October 9th 2014.

7. Princess - Read any book that is magical or maybe in a magical kingdom OR a book that is classified as "Fantasy"

The Ice Princess by Katie M John ~ read on October 17th 2014.

6. Vixen - Read a book that contains bad girls or mean girls OR a book that is classified as "Thriller"

Upside Down Fairy Stories: Wolfie And The Red Hoods by Janine Everall ~ read on October 5th 2014.

5. Zombie's - Read a book that contains zombies OR read a book that's classified as "horror."

900 Miles: A Zombie Novel by S. Johnathan Davis ~ read on October 4th 2014.

4. Batman - Read a graphic novel OR read a book that contains superheroes.

The MegaDog Tales: Unleash The Power (MegaDog Tales, #1) by Dale Alderman ~ read on October 7th 2014.

3. Pirate - Read a book that at least partially takes place at sea OR read a book with a body of water on its cover.

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift ~ read on October 1st 2014.

2. Vampire - Read a book that contains vampires OR read a book classified as "paranormal."

Time Immortal: Tales Of Marcus, The Blind Vampire by Laura A. Ellison ~ read on October 6th 2014.

1. Witch - Witch. This costume is a timeless classic. Read a book that contains witches OR read a book classified as a classic.

Brew (Salem's Revenge, #1) by David Estes ~ read on October 2nd 2014.

***

Happy Halloween!

Blessed Samhain!

Or whatever the appropriate holiday greeting is for what you celebrate today (if anything)!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

R.I.P. Lucy

Almost nine years ago, we took in a Yorkshire Terrier puppy named Lucy. We already had her sister, Jayde. Shortly afterwards, we were forced to rehome both the Yorkie pups. Jayde went to live with my Grandma, and Lucy went to live with Helen and Tom (good friends of my friend, Corinne). Kelly and I were both sad to see the girls go, but we know they both went to good homes, where they could be loved and pampered, like all good pets should be!

It seems like only yesterday we were saying Goodbye to them, but the girls celebrated their ninth birthday on September 3rd 2014.

On Monday we got some sad news: Lucy had died during the night.

I know she was loved, and will be missed very much. Helen and Tom gave her a wonderful life, which any dog would be pleased with; Lucy meant the world to them and was very happy.

Rest in peace dear Lucy!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie - officially released today!

"When Vinnie the zombie smashes his way in to the fruit and vegetable shop where six year old Annie is waiting in hiding for her Mother to come back for her, Annie isn’t sure what to do. But Vinnie isn’t like other zombies. A vegetarian in life, it looks like Vinnie may also be one in death, and it may not be Annie who’s in danger after all."

That's the synopsis for "Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie" which is my latest book, written in response to my own musings about whether a vegetarian would remain one if they became a zombie, or give in to the urges for flesh and brains zombies are generally known for.

You can already buy it from Smashwords in all formats they offer, as well as a couple of other ebook retailers.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Kindle accessability continued

Next month is my birthday, so Kelly said I could have my Kindle as my birthday present from him, but I could have it early.

As it turned out, the Kindle I had from my Dad to use while figuring out the best option for me to have for a new ereader and the Kindle Fire 6 we ordered me as an early birthday present arrived at the same time. I thought it would take Amazon longer to get my Kindle to me, but apparently they decided I needed it quickly. Not that I'm complaining, LOL!

Anyway, the Kindle Fire 6 does speak like it's supposed to. In fact, when we turned the accessability features on it immediately brought up a tutorial to show you how to make it work, which I was impressed about, and which gave me a nice head start on figuring out how to make touch screen technology work when you can't see what you're doing.

I've not quite gotten the hang of it yet. In fact, I have a couple of things I spacifically need to figure out how to do (see below). But I managed to find some books I put on there via USB, pick one, and read some of it (both in continuous reading mode, and by having it select something and tell me what I selected from the book's text). So, I'd say that's a pretty successful start!

It's not linked to my Amazon account yet, because I haven't figured out the touch screen keyboard, and for some reason Amazon doesn't appear to automatically register them any more. So, that's something I need to sort out pretty soon.

Also, the time on it is out by an hour right now, because it doesn't seem to have figured out the difference between standard time and Summer time. But since the clocks will be changing soon anyway, I'm not going to worry about trying to change it. Hopefully it will stay as it is when the clocks go back an hour, and then I can worry about how to fix it when the clocks go forward again in March. That way it gives me time to figure out what I'm doing properly... And maybe by then I'll know how to change the time on it? LOL!

The other thing I'm trying to figure out and haven't yet is the fact it keeps insisting on having a constant connection to the internet (thankfully through my home internet, so it's not costing me anything). I wouldn't mind this, but keeping it connected really eats up the battery life, and since the battery goes quickly when you have to have any kind of speaking software activated on a battery powered device anyway... Well, I'm sure you get my point. So, I need to figure out how to make it stay set to only connect when I ask it to. It will be in the settings somewhere... I've just got to find it.

I think though, that since I've only had it since Thursday, I'm doing well with figuring it out. And, anyway, it's talking to me, I haven't had to ask Kelly to tell me what it wants since the accessability feature got turned on, and I haven't broken anything, so that's what really matters, right?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Toby character profile

Want to know a few things about my character, Toby, from my "Toby's Tales" series?

Then go to http://peersofbeinan.wordpress.com/2014/10/19/character-profile-toby-tobys-tales/ and check out his character profile.

It's not a character interview; more a character profile. But you may learn something you didn't know about young Toby.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

All about a birthday and ereaders

Today is my brother's birthday. I doubt he'll read this, but I'm going to say it anyway... Happy birthday, Carl!

****

I've decided I'm going to try out the Kindle accessability first.

The Kindles are cheaper (not always by much; depending on the model) so I figure I'll try the cheaper option first. If Amazon's information is correct, I should be able to get one for a reasonable price that I can use. Though, I will have to adapt to using touch screen. But, I'd have to do that either way, and Carl manages to use touch screen, so I know it can be done by the blind; I'll just need time to get used to it.

My Dad wants to upgrade his Kindle to one with a backlit screen (which the Kindle Keyboards don't have) so I'm having his 3 year old Kindle Keyboard from him to use while I sort out a new ereader for myself, since we know the Keyboard definitely works for me (that's what I had that died). It's supposed to get here today.

When I get sorted out with a new ereader that works for me, Kelly's going to have Dad's old one, because he only wants an ereader to read pdfs of rulebooks on (mostly for roleplaying games; he gets a lot of them from DriveThrough RPG). I didn't use pdfs on my Kindle, but I know it does read them. Anyway, we were going to get Kelly a cheap ereader for his pdfs, but we figure this way I guarantee to have ereader accessability back quickly. Plus, I know Dad's Kindle currently works perfectly (it's never had the glitch mine had when I got it two years ago, and doesn't get nearly as much use as mine did). Later on - like when Dad's old Kindle stops working - we'll get Kelly a new one.

So, I'll have a Kindle I can use by the end of today, and Kelly will have one pretty soon too!

There has been one positive thing about my lack of a Kindle though... I've gotten through most of the short books I had as pdfs on my computer in this past week and a half, and put a nice dent in my "to read" pile. I'll get a couple more read today. Most of them I do have copies of for the Kindle too, but some I only had as pdfs, which - as I already mentioned - I don't usually put on the Kindle.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

To Kill A Curse is LIVE!

"Roberta’s had a year of hell. From fighting a deadly curse, to discovering a parallel realm hiding in the shadows of her own world, she’s narrowly missed death on many occasions. As both friends and foe have fallen, she’s miraculously survived. Though, with giant wolves, doppelgängers and her greatest nemesis’s minions around every corner, she’s not sure how.

Now, torn from her loved ones and trying to survive in an alien land, she’s tasked with her most difficult challenge to date; destroy an ancient evil and save two worlds whilst she’s at it.

In the world of Gathin, Roberta’s had to rely on those once considered the enemy, and their relationships are strained even further in her last attempt to find vengeance for those she’s lost. Meanwhile, with Susan and Sam battling to protect Ridgewood from it’s greatest ever threat, the burden to survive and conquer until the bitter end is once again placed upon Roberta’s shoulders."

Grab the final book in the "Inside Evil" series today:
Amazon Canada: http://www.amazon.ca/Kill-Curse-Inside-Evil-Book-ebook/dp/B00OHNC9LE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1413310680&sr=1-1&keywords=to+kill+a+curse
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00OHNC9LE/?tag=gwweb-20
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OHNC9LE/?tag=gwweb-20

My review:
"With an interesting and believable cast of characters, a plot that will keep you guessing until the end, plus fantastic descriptions, this was an excellent ending to the series, and as well-written as the other books in the series; maybe even better!"

***~~~***

About the author:
"Geoff Wakeling lives in London and escapes the smog of the city through his writing. The Inside Evil, even though being dark and mysterious, was a way to escape the drudgery of every day life and indulge in something a little more fantastical.

With a degree in Zoology, Wakeling is animal mad and has three cats, fish and five chickens in his London home. He is a keen gardener and conservationist. He is also still awaiting the arrival of his Hogwart’s Owl!"

Find him on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GeoffreyWakeling
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GWakelingWriter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5781929.Geoffrey_Wakeling
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Geoffrey-Wakeling/e/B007JNTZLG/
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/GeoffWakeling
Website: http://geoffreywakeling.com/

Monday, October 13, 2014

Questions nobody asked me

I've done a lot of author interviews, and answered many questions. But, just because I can, here are a couple of questions I've seen asked in author interviews, or on "ask the author" threads, but don't remember being asked myself, and the answers I'd have given to them if someone had asked me:

1. How do you come up with your character names, and the titles for your books?

"When it comes to titles, some of my titles just come to me, others come after some serious thinking time. But all have one thing in common: they reference either an important event from the story, the main character, or both. For example, ‘Quest For The Purple Pumpkin’ refers to the fact that Polly goes on a quest to find the purple pumpkin, and ‘Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie’ is a book about a vegetarian turned zombie named Vinnie.

When it comes to character names, mostly I pick them for their meanings, and search baby name sites for names that mean things that fit the type of characters, or look up words in other languages that have the meaning I'm looking for (that's how I got the name for Neige from 'Cubby And The Beanstalk'). Other times I pick them because they're the name of the pet I'm basing my story on (like with Kero from the 'Kero's World' series). They also sometimes pick themselves, and I only change them if they don’t feel right to me, or if my association with the name, or the meaning of the name, is all wrong for how I view the character. There have also been a few names I got by either randomly putting together syllables associated with names for those races in popular fiction (which is how I got the names for Arael and Derwyn from ‘Quest For The Purple Pumpkin’) or using the name generating option on the Hero Lab program for the Pathfinder roleplaying system, when I use it to help along my character creation process (which is how I got the names for Ardul and Rith from 'Snowball The Oddball Kobold'). However I pick the name though, I look for one I like, one that feels right for the character, and one that's not too difficult to pronounce."

2. If you could visit - or live in - any fantasy world, which one would you pick? Why?

"Narnia, because then I could be surrounded by talking animals, and meet Aslan the lion."

3. If you could have lunch with a fictional character, who would you pick? Why?

"I'd like to pick two: Aslan and Luna Lovegood. Aslan from the Narnia books, because he's a talking lion, and also very wise, so would quite likely have some interesting things to say. Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books, because I like her unique way of looking at the world, and I think she would make lunch fun and entertaining."

Friday, October 10, 2014

Kindle update

So, yeah... My Kindle is dead. After several days of attempted charges (with two different chargers) and attempts at connecting it to the computer, we're getting nothing. And, yes, Kelly had a look too, in case it just decided to stop talking and needs that turned back on (which happened once).

I also tried the Kindle for PC thing again, in case the recently updated Jaws will work with it. But it won't. It will navigate the menus now, which is a start, but that's it. I tried every single keystroke that's meant to make it read things out, and it was having none of it. So, the Kindle for PC thing is out, as I suspected.

We looked at the Kindles on Amazon. Of course, the ones with all the features I need are the newer ones, which naturally makes them the more expensive options. Big surprise there, I don't think!

With that in mind, I decided to talk to Apple, since I know for a fact the "Speak Screen" software their ipods and ipads come with as standard works for the visually impaired, since my brother, Carl, has an iPhone, which he manages to use (he was fiddling with it when he was visiting a couple of weeks ago). So, I called Apple and the guy actually tried out the accessability of the Kindle App using his own Apple iPad-mini while I was on the phone with him. And, yes, it worked; the speaking software read out the book he opened up.

This leaves me with two options:

1. Get a Kindle, and hope it works, though I may have limited accessability when it comes to most features. Amazon insist there will be no issue with accessability though.

2. Pay just a little more, get an iPad, know it works, and that other features it has will work for me.

It's nice to have options. Though kind of frustrating that either way it's going to cost me a couple of hundred pounds.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Kindle accessability

I think there's something wrong with my Kindle. I'm trying to give it a good charge and hope that helps, but so far it's not really doing much. It's had this little glitch where it turns off randomly since I got it. I don't mean going on standby with the screensaver thing, which many ereaders do. I mean actually just suddenly going from being in the middle of reading something to being completely turned off (without even so much as a "turning off" - which is what I usually hear when turning it off). But that wasn't really causing me more than a minor inconvenience from time to time, so I ignored it. Plus, since I got my Kindle Keyboard when Amazon were no longer making them, I got it off ebay, and with that there was no guarantee it was definitely brand new (and I'm pretty sure it wasn't, but was just "as new"). It's worked hard for me in the pretty close to 2 years I've had it!

Luckily, many of my ebooks are from Smashwords where they have multiple formats, so while I figure it out I don't have to ignore the pile of books waiting for me to read them, since I still have things I can read using my computer. Many others need a Kindle though. Before anyone mentions it... The Kindle for PC thing doesn't work. Well, I mean, it does work, but JAWS (my screen reader) won't read the text of the books, and the text to speech feature isn't part of it.

Anyway, just in case I have no luck persuading my Kindle to work, I contacted Amazon. They think it might be dead too, but I managed to find out some interesting information for if - as we suspect - I need to replace it.

It turns out Amazon have now started thinking about accessability for the visually impaired. Most likely because Apple were stealing their customers. But, regardless of the reason, they are.

I got the following information from them about it:

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With accessibility features, you can navigate your Fire with special gestures and read aloud the selections you make onscreen.

Fire 2nd Generation and Fire HD 1st Generation have the following accessibility features:
- Voice Guide allows you to hear spoken menus, selectable items, and descriptions when touching the screen.
- Explore by Touch allows you to use special gestures while navigating your Fire.
- Orientation Lock disables screen rotation.

To turn on accessibility features:
1. Swipe down from the top of the screen to open Quick Settings, and then tap More.
2. Tap Accessibility.

Fire HD and Fire HDX have the following accessibility features:
- Screen Reader allows you to hear spoken menus, selectable items, and descriptions when touching the screen.
- Reading Speed allows you to adjust the speed of the speaking voice when Screen Reader is turned.
- Explore by Touch allows you to use special gestures while navigating their Fire.
- Screen Magnifier allows you to zoom in the screen.
- Use Large Font Size increases the size of menu items.
- Closed Captioning adds captions to videos when available.
- Convert Stereo to Mono plays all audio through a single channel.

To turn on accessibility features:
1. Swipe down from the top of the screen to open Quick Actions, and then tap Settings.
2. Tap Accessibility.

To turn on Screen Reader and Explore by Touch from any screen, press the Power button until you hear an alert, and then place two fingers (slightly apart) on the screen and hold for five seconds.

To learn more about accessibility on our all-new Fire devices, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/feature.html?docId=1000756063

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The above is the contents of an e-mail I was sent to confirm what we discussed on the phone.

I thought I'd share the information for the benifit of anyone interested, or anyone else who may need to know about the accessability of ereaders for blind and partially sighted book lovers.