Thursday, 21 May 2015

Deaf Girly Reviews Live Subtitled TV on an iMac

As I type this, I am watching BBC Breakfast news LIVE on my iMac in the living room.

*dances around the said living room

I know! I cannot believe it. And do you know how much it cost me to achieve this?

Just £13.75.

So it all started when FJM and I went to the Apple store to buy a new iMac for the flat. We don't have a TV and wanted a big screen for watching Netflix and catch up TV on and a computer, too. The guy in the Apple shop was an amazing super geek and when I started asking him about whether I could use the iMac as a TV, he told me about Elgato Eye TV, which costs in the region of £80.

Logging onto Amazon when we got home, I wasn't that keen on spending this much money when the reviews were not sparkling, so instead I hunted around on Amazon and found the August DVB-T208, which works on a whole load of computers, not just Macs.

Reading the reviews they talk about how it's a bit flimsy, but I was guessing this was for laptop use where the USB ports are around the side not at the back so I took a chance on this not being an issue on the iMac, which has USB ports at the back and clicked buy. The reviews also warned that you should not attempt to use the mini CD to install the software as it jams Mac disc drives and instead download it from the August website. I truly believe this is a crucial tip.

When it arrived just three days later, I was slightly nervous that I would be disappointed, but I downloaded the software from here and plugged the little USB stick, attached to the main TV aerial and opened the Fuugo TV for DVB-T application.

After a short search for channels, the whole thing was up and running and honestly, it's amazing. There's a programme guide, a record option and you can flick effortlessly between channels by scrolling along a pop-up bar at the bottom. The subtitles are exactly the same as they would be on a normal digital TV from what I can tell, which means you get the usual delay for live programmes, but it's a lot better than the alternative, which is live TV streamed over the internet with no subtitles.

Sadly it wasn't Bill Turnbull on the sofa this morning

It's been a while since I've wanted to shout about an amazing product for deaf people, but I honestly think this is one of them. This product allows you do ditch the TV – if you want to – and access TV on your computer like hearing people can. It allows me to get back to my routine of peanut butter on toast and the lovely Bill Turnbull on the BBC Breakfast sofa in the morning. And what could be better than that?

Just to let you know: I wasn't paid or asked to do this review – I did it out of the pure excitement of finding a fabulous product. *beams

Friday, 24 April 2015

Deaf Girly's thankful Friday

Today, as I sit here typing in my living room with the balcony door open and the vaguely blue sky outside and the sunshine trying to fill the room with light, I am very thankful.

Two months ago my Pa had a heart attack and today when I saw him on FaceTime for a morning coffee chat with him and Ma, he looks like a different person. He has colour in his face for the first time in a year or more, he's a new person.

Until my Pa had a heart attack, I didn't realise that life after one could be dramatically better than life before one. How dyno-rodding the heart of all the gunk meant that for the first time in ages he can walk without getting out of breath or feeling pain.

Amazing huh?

The day my Pa had his heart attack, I was flying to Rotterdam to see Fab Friend. He and Ma insisted I go. And so I did. Sitting in the departure lounge I suddenly wondered if I was doing the right thing, and so I FaceTimed Ma for reassurance. She was brilliant. Just seeing her face and lip-reading what she was saying was enough to get me on that plane and on my way to having a lovely time with Fab Friend.

I FaceTimed The Rents quite a bit over the weekend – using 3G, not always wifi and it was clear and easy to hear them both. And that's what I'm thankful about today. I'm thankful at how much modern technology has changed my life. I'm thankful that in an emergency, my Pa can FaceTime me from his hospital bed so that I can see everything he has to say rather than press the phone to my ear in a vague hope of understanding. I am thankful that I could What'sApp pictures of his notes over to FJM's sister – who's a heart expert don't you know and get instant feedback. I'm thankful that SuperCathyFragileMystic was also on the other end of FaceTime for hugs and virtual cuddles with her and my gorgeous goddaughter.

One of the things I really struggled with as a teenager going deaf was the isolation of it all. I couldn't do the long phone chats with friends and there was no other way of keeping in touch with them outside of school unless it was in person. I couldn't do the whispers in class, or at sleepovers in the dark, or on the minibus on the way to matches. I'd got used to being in my own world for a lot of the time.

These days, I am never isolated – not unless I want to be anyway. I can FaceTime, What'sApp, SnapChat, Facebook or Tweet people without needing a scrap of hearing. I can book restaurants online, book hotels, book flights, book theatre, buy things, return things, ask things, bother companies for better services for deaf people – all without a scrap of hearing.

And for that I am very thankful. Thankful for the company, the independence and how easy these things are now becoming. And I'm excited, because they can only get better right?

Happy Friday peeps


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Deaf Girly sings (hmmm)

Working from home makes me do odd things. 

Things like eating an entire packet of Rich Tea biscuits without even noticing and working my way through some horrendous Spotify suggestions because I refuse to pay for the Premium service as really, it’s basically falling on deaf ears.

However, today’s procrastination project quite possibly took the biscuit, the very last Rich Tea in fact.

Today I decided to try a Spotify instrumental of a song I know the words to and I recorded myself on PhotoBooth on my Mac singing it…

Why? Well, I can tell you one thing, it wasn’t to become a YouTube star called Deaf Girly Sings – although actually, if I wasn’t so anonymous, that might not be a bad plan – it was to see how bad my voice sounds when I sing.

So I sang along to Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran, which is one of my favourite songs at the moment while Spotify produced a perfectly acceptable instrumental version of the song to sing along to.

And can I sing? Well, I’m not really sure as I don’t know whether I hear what most hearing people hear. But all the windows in the flat and crystal glasses are still in one piece so perhaps it wasn’t completely horrific. And I didn’t see any neighbourhood cats running for cover either.

Seriously though, I would love to be able to sing. Sing in a way that people liked to listen to. Sing in a way that when you were singing along to music in your car you didn’t have people wishing they were in the car next door. And singing in a way that didn’t result in your boss writing you a post-it note (albeit a lovely cute one) requesting you not to harmonise to the Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s version of Under a Bridge or she was going to have to jump out of a window.

In fact, if a genie popped out of my Turkish tea pot that’s currently bubbling away on the stove right now and said you can choose between two things, a perfect singing voice or perfect hearing, I would honestly have to go away and think about it, because as we know from The X Factor auditions, perfect hearing doesn’t necessarily give you a perfect singing voice.

When I was six and more hearing I was pretty obsessed with music. I was desperate to play the violin and my Ma finally realised how serious I was when she found me with her guitar under my chin attempting to play it with a pencil for a bow.

But what I didn’t realise then was that making the notes wasn’t guess work. For most people they were audible.

At 18, while practising for my grade 8 flute – which I did get, albeit not with startlingly great marks – I realised, having lost a chunk of my hearing two years previously, that I needed to build on my audio memory as much as possible. And each night before I went to bed, I would play middle C on the piano in my bedroom and then the A above that and sing them, locking them away in my head so that pitch was always there. So that even if one day I wouldn’t hear them, they would be in my head. For my flute this was brilliant as I just mentally transposed everything I was playing down an octave and my grumpy mermaid in Reinecke’s Sonata Undine sounded more like a disgruntled baby hippo to me.

Anyway, as I get back to the proper task in hand for this afternoon – writing and delete the file called ‘DG sings’ for all of eternity. I can safely say that today’s procrastination activity certainly ranks up there with weird things to do when alone in a flat. But if you know of anyone who can teach people with a hearing loss to sing – Gareth Malone, a new documentary perhaps? –  please drop me a line as it’s up there on my lifetime achievements wish list.

Happy Wednesday peeps