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brianhartgen's blog

What Price Helping the Community!

One of the things I have always enjoyed doing is giving something back to the visually impaired community. I am blind, I always have been, and while I have to have a professional life as I need to put food on the table, I have always tried to give something back. I count myself very lucky to have a job which I enjoy doing, but I accept that a lot of blind people do not, either due to having little opportunities for self-improvement, because of prejudice on the part of employers or just simply because there are no jobs about. So because I am more fortunate than most in our community, where I can do something to help, I always will. Through various projects, I donate hundreds of hours a year to our community and generally enjoy doing it.

So when things happen to me of the kind which I am about to describe, I have very mixed feelings. Certainly there is initial anger, but mostly disappointment that some people really have very little regard for the work I put in, and it does make me think, is it really worthwhile?

Some months ago, I was going through quite a busy and emotional period of my life. But someone approached me who I knew well, and said that she really did want a website creating. She had a tremendous amount of talent and I very much wanted to help as she had helped me in the past. She knew absolutely nothing about website development and I agree to help the best I could.

So, I advised her as to a suitable web hosting package to purchase from an excellent provider, and I then began to work on the site. I don't mind saying, I spent many many hours developing it. She wanted me to develop the initial site for her, and if possible show her how to maintain it herself so she could add content and features.

I built the initial site using Drupal. This involved installing Drupal onto the domain and setting up a database. I configured a number of pages, two blogs, the ability to add pictures, and a number of other features.

Ideas then developed, and she wanted to enhance it further. She would not research what was necessary on Google, she preferred me to find out what was necessary. I provided her with full thorough written instructions on how to accomplish what she wanted, and with credit to her, she followed them and gained what she wished from them.

The site went live, and I helped promote it on Twitter and through what resources I had available to me.

I remember one day, she wrote to me, saying that she wanted to include a page with comments from e-mail messages she had received. She wanted each new comment to be denoted with a new heading and wondered how this could be done. I had some time available, so I produced most of the page for her. As she had the syntax available, she could then learn by my example and add to it.

Following this, she posted a blog entry, referring to the fact that she had struggled to learn how to implement this particular page, but that she had "got there in the end". Not a reference to me helping her at short notice, but I let that one go. Perhaps that was a sign of things to come.

I did place a site design copyright notice at the bottom of each page, naturally stating that the entire text content belonged to her (which is only right), but that the site design was credited to me.

Inadvertently two days ago, I discovered on Twitter that the site had changed to some extent. I was locked out of it administratively and my name had been removed from it completely. There was no reference to me at all. It was as though I didn't exist and had not been a part of it.

I don't mind in the least that someone else has taken over the site development as this always had been the original intention. But when I had invested so much time at a critical period in my life in this project, not to receive any thanks or credit on the site for its initial design is, I think, not very good.

When something like this happens, you really do feel like not investing considerable time in anything like this ever again. I know I will, that is how I am, but I am not sure I would ever do anything like this without ensuring I didn't get something back from it. This is the third voluntary project I have been involved with over the past year or so where I have invested so much time, and for no result.

I have to say, L (as usual) has been an absolute rock to me over this as she always is about everything. I think, (well I know), she was angry and upset on my behalf too, and I thank her for that.

So, if you are blind, and sometimes you wonder why you don't always get the help you need, it is because of experiences like this that some of us will now hold back and may not be as keen to assist as we once were. Some people like to give in this community, others like to take. There are some people I must say who are willing to pay for services, either financially or by crediting an individual with the help they have received. But there are others who just do not care at all and I have found that out rather late. I certainly will think very carefully before doing anything like this again.

For Fun, Another Survey, Next Question?

Hi everyone!

L has presented to me another survey of over 100 questions which I am answering. If you read this, you are mad! Grin.

130 questions… promise you won't lie?
I asked L to find another survey, for the fun of completing it, but I won't provide any false answers. Having looked through these questions, I will be evasive with some of the answers but the content of them will be true.

Please note that the term "friends" is used in the below questions to represent people I meet, together with those I talk with using Twitter or Facebook.

Do you get jealous easily?
No, I don't get jealous easily. If I thought I had cause to be jealous, I would confront the issue. It can only turn out in one of two ways. Either there would be nothing to fear, or if it had foundation, I would leave as quickly as possible.

What are you currently waiting for?
To get to Crew station. I am travelling by train and I need to get to Stoke-On-Trent for work purposes. Crew is currently 2 hours and 30 minutes away!

Do you think more about the past, present, or future?
When I think about the past, I try and remember the good things about it, and fortunately, I have lots of good memories. Other than that, I just live very much in the present.

Is there anybody you wish you could be spending time with right now?
Yes, L. She is getting further and further away as I travel!

Honestly, did you really love the last person you said I love you too?
Absolutely!

Is anything wrong with your eyes?
I don't have any eyes at all. Now that wasn't the answer you were expecting was it?

Do you have nice eyes?
Now listen, I've told you already, I physically don't have any, so move on.

Have you ever received a love letter more than a page long?
Are we talking e-mails here too? If so, the answer is yes, definitely.

Who's thinking about you right now?
Hopefully it is L, although she may well be asleep. She hasn't been too well the last day or so.

Is this year the best year of your life?
Despite some of the things that have happened, it is certainly the best year I have had in a very long time. There's still some way to go, but I am positive and think it will end up being good. I am very very much looking forward to Christmas.

Which of your friends lives closest to you?
That's a difficult one to answer. At the moment, I don't have a permanent home as such. I have a house in St. Helens that I want to sell so I can move somewhere sensible, but at the moment I cannot, and believe me, that is a complete and utter nuisance!

How do you feel about Diet Dr Pepper?
Its OK, I could drink it.

Have you ever thought someone died, when they really didn't?
No.

Does your bedroom need cleaning?
No I don't think it does, it is quite tidy, certainly I left it that way this morning.

Would you rather take a relationship really slow or really fast?
I would rather take it at the speed it naturally goes. I am not in a particular rush though.

Do you ever hang out with someone of the opposite sex?
Yes. As I've said, the people I mainly talk to are women. Sorry about that. That is just who I am.

Are you comfortable with your height?
Very, I am quite tall and that's fine.

Do you act differently around the person you like?
Well obviously I do! I don't go around calling everyone "Darling" or similar as I do with L, so yes, of course I do. But other than that I do try to treat most people the same. There are a few people however in this world that I definitely do not like because of situations they have forced me into. But that's life, you can't like everyone. You just have to make the best of it.

Do you think anyone has feelings for you?
I am sure they do!

Is there one person in your life that can always make you smile?
Yes, there is. No matter how bad things get, she always can.

Do you like thunderstorms?
I am not bothered either way.

Do you think teenagers can be in love?
Of course they can. I was, and most of them will be!

How fast does your mood change?
Usually I am optemistic and upbeat by nature, Outwardly at the very least I do try to act positively. When something bad happens, I have to say I am very good at shrugging it off and getting on with life incredibly quickly, and I am talking a matter of hours here. I think I am quite mild mannered and that doesn't often change, certainly not rapidly. If someone really annoys me though, be warned, I am vicious, smile.

Are there things that can't be joked about with you?
I really hate coarseness, smutty jokes and sexual innuendo, and I find it really upsetting when I am imitated. I definitely never do that. It has happened to me at a couple of places I have carried out voluntary work for. Interestingly, those people who do imitate usually have a greater number of quirks of speech (oar other more personal facets of their character) which would afford mimickry, and I definitely would not reciprocate. Certainly if they imitated my ladyfriend and I found out about it, I am likely to strongly react.

What do you always take with you?
Always my keys, cigarettes and my phone.

When is your birthday?
19 September. Note the way I have written the date, day first, month second. I said in the last survey I was British through and through. I meant it.

Where is the weirdest place you have slept?
I really cannot think of a good answer to that one.

Anything on your walls?
A couple of pictures.

What do you bite more, your tongue, lip, or cheek?
My tongue, I think, I sometimes bite it when I am eating. ouch!

Has a boy/girl called you babe/baby lately?
Yes, quite often!

Is there something that you want to tell someone but can't?
Oh definitely. One day I will let the world know about something which happened to me during 2011, I can say that. There was a series of incidents which occurred during the year which cost me what I thought was a very good friendship which I will never get back. It is very very disappointing. It is best not to think about it.

Do you think you can last in a relationship for 6 months or more?
Yes, I know I can.

This time last year, can you remember who you liked?
Well, this question is aimed at teenagers, as is most of this survey, but I will answer it. I liked a lot of people who I have since found not to be terribly likeable, which makes me very sad. I also liked someone who I have since come to love, which makes me incredibly happy!

Would you ever want to swim with the sharks?
No, I cannot say I would. Maybe Dolphins though.

Does anyone know your passwords besides you?
One person a password to a few services but no, not all.

What is the last non-alcoholic beverage you had?
A cup of coffee at about 5 this morning.

I bet you miss somebody right now...
Yes, L, incredibly.

Do you have a box where you keep all your important things?
No, I don't.

Can you count past 100?
Yes, in both English and French, (smile).

Would you ever date anyone your parents disapproved of?
I have done on every occasion as far as I can tell.

If you were abandoned in the wilderness, would you survive?
Absolutley not! I am ashamed to admit I would be completely useless! Put me in an unknown house, and I could get to know it, and get used to it in no time, but put me in the wilderness and ask me to find food and fire, and I'd be a goner in hours!

Is there someone you can tell anything to?
Now I have L in my life, yes, there is.

At this moment in time if you HAD to have someone's name tattooed on you, whose would it be?
I thought I made it clear in the last survey what I thought about those. No, and no again.

Most memorable thing that's happened to you over the summer?
My growing closeness with a certain special someone, and learning more about setting up an internet radio station. Technically I appear to be very good at that kind of thing and at the moment I haven't seen a similar station that accomplished everything that Team-FM did, certainly not relating to web development and an online web presence. One day, believe me I will get back to doing that and taking it much much further. I have thoughts in my head where I want that to go, a lot of really good ideas I want to work on.

Has anyone called you perfect before?
No I don't think they have, and that is OK. I am not sure I would want them to, I am not.

Do your best friends' parents tend to like you?
I don't know who they are so it's not likely.

Are any of your friends taller than you?
I wouldn't know about the height of all of them.

Do you prefer the ocean or pool?
Oh, the pool every time. My dream would be to have a big house with an indoor pool all of my very own.

Ever liked someone whose name started with a B?
No I haven't.

Does the last person you shared a bed with, mean anything to you?
Everything in the whole wide world and more besides.

What's your favorite part of the song that you're listening to?
I am not listening to music right now although I often do. I will when I have finished writing this. I am listening to the jaws screen-reader when I review the text I have written, the sound of the train and particularly listening out for the refreshment trolley as I want more coffee.

Ever really cried your heart out?
Yes, I admit that and it's OK to do that.

Are you the same person as you were at the beginning of 2012?
No, I don't think so. I am now much much more relaxed and that is not surprising as the environment I am currently living in is far more tranquil. I used to be very reserved about what I wrote on Twitter and Facebook. Now, I don't care as much. I know people follow my accounts even though I have blocked them, and that's OK. If I don't want people to know something then I am not going to publicly publish it! I will send direct messages or email to people I want to talk to privately. Anything which I do publish on my Twitter account is linked to Facebook. Absolutely anyone can read those comments. There's nothing on here I wouldn't want the world to know. Carry on, please have a good read! (smile).

Do you get good grades?
I got excellent grades at College. On the course I studied for, my results exceeded all seeing candidates for the same course in the UK during that year, so I thought that was OK.

Is there a difference between love and IN love?
Oh there surely is.

Have you ever been on a motorcycle?
No I haven't, but I would quite like to.

Does it bother you when someone says they will call you and they don't?
Yes, it is infuriating!

Was 2011 a good year for you?
It was a very mixed year, but in the end, things worked out for the best. That is the most positive thing I can say.

Do you think you were raised well?
Yes, I do.

What's worse: liars or cheaters?
I'd say there is not much to choose between them.

Have you ever broken someone's heart?
Yes, unfortunately, more than once.

Does it matter if your boyfriend/girlfriend smokes?
At the moment my ladyfriend and I both smoke, we use what are commonly called electronic cigarettes, whereby we can inhale flavoured nicotine, without polluting anyone else's air or inhaling the harmful cancer causing chemicals normal smokers inhale, they suit us well.

Give me a random lyric from the song you're listening to.
I've already said, I am not listening to one! But ah, wait, here comes the man with the trolley, and it's the strange one who is always on the train. He is saying, "don't give me any notes, I cannot be doing with notes at this time of the morning!" OK, whatever.

Do you like competition?
Well that depends on what level. If it's work or related to a hobby, actually yes, I thrive on it! I do much much better if I think someone is competing! I tend to really throw myself into whatever it is even harder than I would have done originally!

Do you think two people can last forever?
Yes, I do. It has not worked for me yet, but I know it can work, and maybe for me it will.

Do you consider yourself lucky?
On balance, yes, I think I am.

Is there someone that cares about you more than themselves?
Oh, absolutely, and it is very much reciprocated.

Who was the ugliest person you saw today?
I cannot see, so I don't know.

Freedom or safety?
I like to have the independence to choose what I want to do, and on the whole I can do that. I have very very good mobility skills, and since last October, I have found that I ccan do things I never thought I was able to. But obviously I try to be as safe as possible. I try not to put myself in vulnerable situations.

Has a song ever made you cry?
I don't think it has, no.

Has a book ever made you cry?
Oh not one of these crying questions again. No.

Is the world crumbling to pieces?
I am glad we are getting near the end of this survey now. I don't think so. I think you are running out of good questions to ask me!

Will you be in a relationship next month?
I really do hope so!

Your phone rings, what do you say?
That depends which phone I am answering. If its my work phone, and I don't know the caller, "hello Brian Hartgen". If it's my personal phone, "Hi".

Has anyone ever said they wanted to marry you?
Yes they have most certainly.

Is your birthday on a holiday?
Nope.

Do you always answer your phone?
No, not always. Sometimes I will let it go to voicemail.

Has someone of the opposite sex ever told you they loved you?
Yes, they certainly have, more than once! Giggling.

Who was the last person you had a sleepover with?
Do you know, I have never had a sleepover, and that is a shame, because they do sound like fun!

Is there someone you wish you were still close with?
Yes. But it is no good looking back. Be positive and look forward! There are always, always new people to meet and to like.

The Music Machine celebrates the 80's, 90's and now

Hi everyone!

I hope you can be with me later today at 16:00 UTC, 5 PM UK or 12 PM Eastern for this week's Music Machine, right before the Atitude Test!
www.theglobalvoice.info

After last week's dive into the 70's, today I'll be playing music from the 80's, 90's and now. So if you like something a little more up-to-date, or you are feeling nostalgic and love your music of the 80's, I hope there is going to be something for you this week! Plus, I'll be looking at the UK chart from this week in 1988, there were some great songs!

Now apart from the usual ways of contacting me by e-mail and Twitter, this week you are very welcome to call into the show via Skype or the phone. Feel free to have a chat with me on air about the kind of music you like, or maybe you would like to request a song or have musical memories to share, that would be even better. It's always great to hear the voices of our listeners! If not, e-mail and Twitter is absolutely fine too of course if you would like to get in touch.

So, you can e-mail during the show to YourVoice@TheGlobalVoice.Info,
tweet @BrianHartgen or use Skype, the username is the.global.voice.

Phone numbers:
Phone the United States: (+1) 305 434 4132
Phone Europe and the UK: (+44)(0) 208 123 6806
Phone New Zealand: (+64)(0) 9 974 9636

Whatever you are doing today I hope I can be in your company. And, just a word about next week's show. If you love your music of the late 50's and 60's, you are not going to want to miss this! At The Global Voice, we can not only play music but we know about it too. So for 2 hours, I'll be telling you about how many of the artists and groups who were most famous in this musical period got started in their careers. More about that during the show today.

Thanks so much for listening to The Global Voice!

Brian Hartgen

My Ansers to L's Survey!

Hi everyone!

L was reading some LiveJournal entries she wrote earlier on and it seems that she used to complete surveys. Please see her own blog on this site for details.

Anyway, she's handed me one of these surveys and wondered if I would like to complete it! I've tried to do as she does, giving more than a one word answer. If there are any more of these around, maybe on Facebook, I would love to complete them! I have tried to be very honest about the answers.

Enjoy reading if you would like to!

1. What curse word do you use the most?

I have never been a person for cursing in public, or even using any sware word or being impolite unless I am in very close company. However, if I am, probably the word "fuck" or "crap".

2. Do you own an iPod?
Oh def. In fact I own two. One is a first generation iPod Shuffle and the other is an iPod Nano, first or second gen, I can't remember which now. But iPod is a term which has become synonomous with portable media players, even if they are not. So I can say my favourite portable player is my iRiver H340. there is absolutely nothing, nothing, that will beat the qquality of that.

3. What person on your flist do you talk to the most?
I am going to refer to this as my Twitter or Facebook accounts. The answer is still the same. It is L!

4. What time is your alarm clock set to?
Because of the medication I am taking, I need to wake up quite naturally else I get a severe headache which lasts for some of the day. But sometimes that isn't possible, so it is set to anywhere between 4 and 7 AM.

5. Do you still remember the first person you kissed?
Yes I definitely do! Although I had better not name her as she might be reading! That wouldn't be good.

6. Do you remember where you were on 9/11/01?
Yes. We were getting ready to go on one of our holidays to Florida, and we heard the news on the TV. I was living in a house where the TV was switched on almost all day. But we had to get straight onto the travel agent to find out what would happen. We ended up travelling out there about two weeks later.

7. Would you rather take the picture or be in the picture?
Well I am blind, so I cannot take the picture and be sure it is completely accurate. But if I could, I would love to take pictures.

8. What was the last movie you watched?
"The Gathering Storm", about the life of Winston Churchill. We had a number of evenings where we watched quite a few movies and that was one of them. Just brilliant! The other one we watched that evening was "The King's Speech", again, magnificent. Other movies I like are Gigi, the King and I, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Top Hat, oh, hang on, you didn't ask me what my favourite movies are did you? Next question.

9. Do any of your friends have children?
Yes, they do.

10. Has anyone ever called you lazy?
Probably, although I genuinely cannot remember when.

11. Do you ever take medication to help you fall asleep?
Yes, every day. I used to only get about 3 hours sleep a night and I used to be on the computer for the other hours of it. Now, that doesn't happen. I usually get between 6 to 8 hours.

12. What cd is currently in your cd player?
I don't generally listen to albums. I have music on my computer. In the last couple of weeks I've put together a really cool playlist which we get StationPlaylist to shuffle. It contains lots of 70's and 80's music. I think at the moment it lasts about 1500 minutes, but I am adding to it. We like it.

13. Do you prefer regular or chocolate milk?
Definitely chocolate.

14. Has anyone told you a secret this week?
No I don't think so, although it has happened quite often.

15. When was the last time you had Starbucks?
I think it was when I went to the CSUN exhibition and conference a few years back. That's in America if you don't know.

16. Can you whistle?
No, definitely not. Don't ask me to.

17. What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex?
Her voice. I suppose that is natural since I cannot see at all. But she has to have a gorgeous voice for me to even think about that.

18. What are you looking forward to?
Are we talking about long-term? I would like some things in my life to become settled and well ordered. They are not at the moment. This year, I would like to get my own home to live in near to where L lives in South Wales. Ideally it would be in the same block of flats where she lives, and realistically that could happen.

19. Did you watch cartoons as a child?
Yes I did. I didn't like them all that much though. I preferred programs with more dialog in, but my older brother liked them, so we watched lots of cartoons.

20. Do you own any band t-shirts?
No, and I wouldn't be seen dead in a T-Shirt with a certain radio station name on it? God forbid! Just, goodness me.

21. What will you be doing in one hour?
Getting ready to produce our show "Down for Double", should be great!

22. Is anyone in love with you?
I am quite sure she is, yes. I certainly hope so anyway.

23. What was the last song you heard?
Little Eva, the Locomotion. I am planning a radio documentary for "The Music Machine" next week and that is featured.

24. Last time you cried?
A few weeks ago. It was a Saturday and something really bad had happened, it was just yuck.

25. Are you on a desktop computer or a laptop?
A laptop.

26. Are you currently wanting any piercings or tattoos?
Er, no! God, ugh! Yuck! Do you get the idea! I hate the thought of them!

27. What’s the weather like?
Extremely sunny today. I went out this morning to do the shopping and it was just gorgeous!

28. Would you ever date a girl/guy covered in tattoos?
Not on your life!

29. What did you do before this?
I ate my tea and had a cigarette.

30. When is the last time you slept on the floor?
I cannot remember, probably when I was single about 18 years ago and didn't have a bed for a while.

31. How many hours of sleep do you need to function?
Around 5 or 6 ideally, hopefully more than that.

32. Do you eat breakfast daily?
I didn't used to, but now L insists, so I do, and I am better for it.

33. Are your days fast-paced?
They can be, particularly if I need to be awake, have breakfast, travelling all over the country and finally crash at the end of it, yes, they can be.

34. What did you do last night?
Did a test run of Down for Double so we could get the technical aspects straightened out, they are not quite as I would like but they will need to do for now. Then, did some work on the website to see if I could get a bug tracking database in place. It was partially successful.

35. Do you use sarcasm?
Sometimes, I have done, I think most people do.

36. How old will you be turning on your next birthday?
Too old Seriously, 42, the answer to life, the universe and everything.

37. Are you picky about spelling and grammar?
My own, yes, I always try to improve.

38. Have you ever been to six flags?
No, I haven't, but I love love love theme parks, especially those in America. Americans have the best theme parks!

39. Do you get along better with the same sex or the opposite sex?
Definitely the opposite sex. I just find ladies far easier to talk to and always have. No, it's not that I want to date them all (grin), that is just how I am. Men are usually interested in some kind of sport, vehicles, etc, I am just not interested.

40. Do you like mustard?
Bring it on! Love it. Often when I eat in hotels, for example when I have steak for dinner, I have mustard all over it and the chips, lovely.

41. Do you sleep on your side?
Always. I cannot sleep on my back.

42. Do you watch the news?
Sometimes I listen to the news on the radio. I also follow the BBC breaking news on Twitter. I am not obsessive about it but I like to know what is going on. I think I have a good general knowledge overall and that is fuelled by listening to the news.

43. How did you get one of your scars?
Someone hit me over the head repeatedly. I can still feel the scar.

44. Who was the last person to make you mad?
Some stupid idiot last Sunday who should have known better. What a jerk! Someone with half a brain.

45. Do you like anybody?
Yes, I like lots of people and hopefully they like me. Sometimes, I think people just want to talk to me because they think I will help them out with some technological matter, that's often the way it works. But yes, I am fortunate, there are people who actually like me for being me.

46. What is the last thing you purchased?
Groceries this morning, some treats for us.

47. What side of the heart do you draw first?
I can't draw, period.

48. Can you dive without plugging your nose?
Yes, actually I can.

49. What color is your razor?
Black I think, I've recently got a new one.

50. What is your blood-type?
I don't know.

51. Who would you want to be tied to for 24 hours?
Well, I assume you mean in the physical sense, and if that is the case, it would be L!

52. What is a rumor someone has spread about you?
Well I have just come out of a marriage, and when that happens, there are always rumours spread about you, some of them inaccurate, and I think we'll just leave it at that.

53. How do you feel about carrots?
They're OK, I quite like them.

54. How many chairs at the dining room table?
There are three. I am so glad we have a dining room table here! I like eating at the table.

55. Which is the best Spice Girl?
Geri Halliwell, she is gorgeous!

56. Do you know what time it is?
7.11 PM.

57. Do you know all the words to the Fresh Prince Theme Song?
Er, no, I don't, I am British through and through and I think that was an American show. If I lived in America, maybe I would.

58. What would you do if you were stuck in an elevator?
I am a very rational person, so I would probably stay calm and think about how I was going to get out.

59. What’s your favorite kind of gum?
I don't like gum. There is nothing worse than you trying to have a conversation with someone and they are chewing on gum, particularly a lady, it's not good.

60. T or F: All’s fair in love and war?
False.

61. Do you have a crush on anyone?
Yes, she's sitting here right beside me, chewing gum! Oh, hell, no, it's OK, she's eating something sensible. Thank goodness for that!

62. Do you know how to use some words correctly, but not know the meaning?
If I didn't know the meaning of a word, I wouldn't use it. Some people try to use words and they clearly don't know the meaning and they get all in a tangle.

63. Do you like to sleep?
Yes, although not in the day. If I do that, I feel I have wasted a good part of it.

64. Do you know which U.S. states; Canadian provinces don’t use Daylight Savings Time?
Um, nope.

65. Do you know the song Total Eclipse of the Heart?
Yes, I love it, particularly the Nikki French version.

66. Do you want a bright yellow ‘06 mustang?
Not particularly. Get on with it. Next question.

67. What’s something you’ve always wanted?
At the moment I would settle for a really fast computer, say one with at least 8 GB of ram. Cannot think of anything beyond that right now.

68. Do you have hairy LEGS?
Very. Is this TMI or what?

69. Would you rather swim in the ocean or a lake?
A lake, it's very very romantic sounding.

70. Do you wear a lot of black?
A reasonable amount.

71. Describe your hair:
Brown, and it's quite short.

72. Do you have Entomophobia?
Yes. I hate insects, especially ones that buzz. Very nasty.

73. Are you an adult?
I am, very much so.

74. Where is/are your best friend(s)?
Sitting beside me watching the Mary Poppins movie.

75. Do you have a tan?
No.

76. Are you a television addict?
No, I've been exposed to far too much TV and now I'm not interested.

77. Do you enjoy spending time with your mother?
We don't see each other that often, but everyone loves their mother and I do.

78. Are you a sugar freak?
Fairly.

79. Do you like orange juice?
Yes, I love it!

80. What sign are you?
Virgo.

Double the Fun!

Hi, Everyone.

What do you do when you get together with friends? Do you like to have a chat, a few laughs, maybe talk over the events of the week, and, of course, hear some great music? If so, please do join Brian Hartgen and myself, Lulu Wells, today at 20:00 UTC, 4 PM Eastern, 3 PM Central, 1 PM Pacific or 9 PM in the UK for our show Down for Double on The Global voice.

We will have all the things I just mentioned, plus our own particular brand of fun, and maybe a little bit of mayhem, who knows! Brian has a huge music library, so the music is sure to be great, and there is always plenty of room for your requests. To contact the show, please feel free to Email yourvoice@theglobalvoice.info or send a tweet to @lulu_bear.

We hope to see you later today and each Saturday, as we go Down for Double, only on The Global Voice.

Lulu Wells.

A lengthy post, mainly technical and reminiscing

Hi everyone!

Well this promises to be a lengthy blog entry as quite a few things have happened, primarily technical, so if you stay with these ramblings until the end, thank you! Lets hope I can remember it all!

Let me pick up the news from last Saturday which was a Bank (Public) Holiday weekend here in the UK.

If I recall, L wasn't particularly well that day. We were due to test out some broadcasting ideas for our upcoming internet radio show, "Down for Double", but it didn't happen, but that's OK. So while L was sleeping for part of the day, I did some audio production for the following day's Music Machine show, and then I got involved with website development using Drupal.

For those who don't know, Drupal is a content management system which allows you to build websites. The more I learn about it, it makes me want to learn even more, if that makes sense. I know of a few CMS platforms, but the way you can develop websites using Drupal is excellent. I haven't seen any blogs for example delivered using alternative platforms where they have been truly integrated into a website, (or are as accessible to screen-readers), as Drupal allows you to do and I hope this website is a true testimony to that.

Getting back to last Saturday, I wanted to find out how I could place access (or shortcut) keys on some of the links on the main menu of our site and I got that done. That, for some unknown reason, lead to me discovering how to ensure that a person (if signed into Facebook) could "Like" a specific page.

The site we have and blogs are, I think, pretty good at the moment. But I want soon to experiment with alternative visual themes.

We spent some of Sunday playing some iPhone games including one which L introduced me to called "SmackMe". This is cool and is like the game "Bop-It" which some people may remember. Essentially you are given gestures that you have to copy. The more levels you work through, the faster the game gets.

That made me think about other computer games like Troopanum and Grizzly Gulch, the latter produced by Bavisoft. I went searching, and they not only still have the game on the site which you can purchase (compatible with Windows7), but my old review I produced about 12 years ago in audio format is still downloadable! I tweeted out the link and before long some of us were sharing memories of old computer games we used to play, particularly Grizzly. In fact, L has just ordered Grizzly again for us from Computer Room Services. It hasn't arrived as yet but we look forward to it doing so!

That, in turn, made me think of other audio articles I used to produce for Infotech and Main Menu on ACB Radio. I particularly have fond memories of helping to produce an article for Main Menu's first birthday. It was an article reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of JAWS and Window-Eyes screen-readers. I think it was a 3 hour programme! I wonder what the results of such a comparison would be like now! Anyway, good memories.

Sunday was also the day when I published my blog entry, "A Review of Mushroom Escape", and it is interesting that my little blog gets so many readers, (smile). Anyway, credit where credit is due, within about 24 hours, some of the suggestions I had made were implemented on the site. Thanks to all those who retweeted the publication of that blog post, particularly saying that you agree with the fact that the schedule should be in the user's own time zone. That isn't in place yet, but as a substitute they do have a clock which shows the current time in US Eastern, so you have a chance of working out what should be broadcasting relative to your time zone. That helps. They have also provided links to Wikipedia articles of drama and comedy being broadcast, together with some brief show details, a mailing list for discussion of output and the times throughout the whole of each day when shows are broadcast. So, all in all, more than a good step forward I would say.

Monday evening was absolutely wonderful. We had a relaxing evening, listening to 70's and 80's music, sharing memories (particularly of Eurovision), chatting, having drinks, it was a great evening to finish the Bank Holiday!

Apart from work this week, some of my evenings have been occupied by developing the new set of JAWS scripts for StationPlaylist Studio, the broadcasting software we use. It really is about time we had a new release with new features and an upcoming release of Studio in the future has "kick started" me into this.

I won't discuss the new features here. Sometimes, when you develop script files for an application, some features do not work out in testing as you would expect them to and may be withdrawn, and anyway the discussion of them will make for another blog post. But I can mention a few things.
1. I've been working with Jeff Bishop who is the author of the Window-Eyes scripts. It is an absolute pleasure working with him, and it is good to have someone to collaborate with and to share ideas. The implementation of the Window-Eyes scripts will not be exactly the same as those for JAWS in design, they can't be for various reasons. But the concepts pretty much are the same so noone should be disadvantaged. I think people will be pleased with both sets of scripts.
2. I have spent a lot of time cleaning up the documentation accompanying the scripts, improving it and adding descriptions of the new features. Rather than a Word document, it is going to be HTML, so a lot of time has been spent making the HTML nice and clean. Given I am very fond of bulleted and numbered lists this took some time to do. So the User Guide will be available as part of the product but also directly viewable on the website.
3. I've created a form for people to submit Technical Support issues as and when they arise, where questions can be answered to give me the kind of information I would want to know when assisting someone who wanted to report a problem.
4. I've brought the internet update facility back, so I can be a lot more responsive to fixes which are required together with new features to add.

When the time is right, I'll need to set up a beta testing programme for these scripts and I want also to investigate implementing a bug tracking database so users can submit bugs and I can log the progress of them. So that is for the future. It all takes time and a lot of work, but I will get there. I've been developing these scripts for 3 years now and it is good that they keep improving.

Well, L's show, "The Bear's Lair", is about to hit the air so I will tune into that now. I am looking forward to tomorrow as L and I will be bringing back the show "Down for Double" on The Global Voice, a show where we get together, play some music and have some lively chat. We are both looking forward to that.

Have a good week everyone!

Important notice of future SPL Studio script development

Hi everyone!

I am in the early stages of development of the next set of JAWS scripts for StationPlaylist Studio. This will be an extensive project as much of the internal code will be rewritten and much of the older code deleted. In addition, the documentation will be changed and updated.

Because of the significant changes to be made, this is a very good time to ask for any new features or improvements you would like to see in the scripts. For example, I am quite keen to do some work this time around on the area of title streaming. I would like to see the ability to enable or disable this with keystrokes for all four possible options in this regard and, (if required), the ability to be automatically reminded if title streaming is enabled when you launch Studio for the first time. But any suggestions for improvement are welcome. If you have submitted something before, please send it again.

I am keen to hear from as many of you as possible at this point, so please feel free to send any suggestions to jaws@hartgen.org
Also feel free to pass this announcement onto anyone you feel may benefit.

I cannot guarantee to include all suggestions. The creation of the scripts has always been a free project and so I commit whatever time to it I can. But I will do my best to include what you send in as I always have.

When I have suggestions for new features, I will communicate them to Jeff Bishop, so we can ensure that Window-Eyes and JAWS users have the same advantages.

Thanks for reading!

A Review of Mushroom Escape

Last Sunday, the radio station Mushroom Escape was born. This was a culmination of a weekend-long festival of entertainment which ironically some of us were trying to escape from! But I am being facecious. There arre reasons why I would quite like Mushroom Escape to do well, so lets stay with that theme.

Mushroom Escape is a radio channel which streams a variety of classic comedy and drama. Its website at
www.mushroomfm.com/escape
informs the reader that the world of radio comedy and drama is vast, (which it is), and that they will bring this wonderful world to you seven days a week in a way which will keep you coming back for more. Downloads are not available on the site.

Their differences are that the schedule is planned by hand rather than an automated random selection, meaning regularly scheduled episodes of series are broadcast at the same time every week. This is important because that is what used to happen on the radio so it gives a nostalgic feel to it. In addition, they do not just focus upon American comedy and drama. A good percentage of it comes from Britain and Australia.

L and I were "brought up" on drama from the 70's and 80's especially, and for my own enjoyment and use I remember recording over ten years worth of plays continually. So I can see a lot of value in this both for those of us who are old enough to remember some of these classics and so as to introduce the subject to younger listeners. I have visited the BBC drama studios and talked to producers and actors. I used to attend recordings of The Archers at Pebblemill in Birmingham. I used to sit in the audience of radio comedy recordings. I also have really enjoyed comedy and drama from the 60's and before.

So after a week of broadcasting, what is the station like? Because of my love of the subject I had to find out.

The door to Mushroom Escape is a page on the Mushroom FM site. All the information about it (including its schedule) can be found on the same page together with a link to listen to it. The station is being slowly included into many internet radio directories including those for mobile devices.

If you live in a country and time zone other than the East coast of America, you have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to find out what time your favourite show will be aired. The way Escape works is that they have a four hour block per day which is repeated. This block starts at 6 PM Eastern and rotates. So, I am in England. It's lunch time (12 PM). I have to first work out the time difference (we are five hours ahead of Eastern) Then I have to work out from the schedule which show should be playing. This isn't as easy as it sounds, as the site only gives the initial block from 6 to 10 PM Eastern, and doesn't let us see the whole 24 hour period. By the time you've worked that all out it is probably time to give up. Are we really saying that there isn't the technology as yet to display the schedule in a user's time zone? What is so marvellous about US Eastern?

As a potential listener, the other difficulty I have is determining details of the programme episode I will be tuning into. For example, they are streaming Paul Temple dramas. Now I have heard plenty of Paul Temple drama going right back to the late 30's. I know about this man and this drama! So I am keen to find out which story they are running. I cannot. It just says "Paul Temple" - no drama title, no episode number, no synopsis. If the drama on this station is carefully planned then we ought to be able to see what we can potentially listen to.

I see a lot of tweets and Facebook posts about how much people enjoy drama, so I am certain this station will be a winner and has a lot going for it. If they could just make it a bit easier to find out what we could listen to, that would be a help. In addition, there are two more things which would add value.

First, some people would want to read some background on the drama. For example, Mushroom Escape introduced me the other day to the Lux Radio Theater. I wanted to learn more about it so I looked them up on Wikipedia. It might be nice to have links to Wikipedia articles of the dramas for background reading.

Mushroom FM is a station which seems to pride itself on listener interaction. So why not build on that? Why not create a Twitter account or blog where people can post comments. Maybe get some discussion going about the station's output. People could share their memories and thoughts about other dramas they would like to hear.

So in summary, I think the concept of the station is good but it needs a lot more power behind it at the moment. But it is early days to be fair. Lets watch and wait. Dramatic suspense?

The Music Machine is looking for your memories of 1979!

Hi Everyone!

This Sunday at 16:00 UTC, 5 PM UK, 12 PM Eastern on the Global Voice, we have the first in a number of special Music Machine shows coming your way.

If you enjoy the music of the 1970's, you are in for a real treat. I'll be playing some of the best sounds from that wonderful musical decade, and I'll be diving back into my vinyl record collection to get out some of the more unusual songs too that are hard to find! Your requests for your favourite 70's songs would be very welcome, more about that in a moment.

But for the second hour of the programme, we go back to 1979, I'll explain why during the show. I'll be playing some of the best hits from the year and telling you about the singles chart too. You'll also hear about the news events of the year. But I won't just tell you about them, I'll take you there, back to 1979. You'll hear audio archives of the news and other key events of the time so you can find out what it was really like!

Your memories of 1979 would be fantastic to hear about. Were you at college during the year? Were you perhaps starting your first job? Did you meet someone special? What about the music of 79, which songs in particular do you remember? Do you have any favourites?

Do please let me know your 1979 memories by writing to brian@TheGlobalVoice.Info or by sending tweets to @brianhartgen.
It would be wonderful to hear from you!

I cannot wait to be with you this Sunday only on the Global Voice with our sensational 70's show!

A Very Special Blog Post, Who is Bert the Lep?

When I first started to do internet radio broadcasting, I needed someone I could interact with. I wasn't living with anyone who I could ask to work with me on a promotional item for a show or a radio jingle, so I had to invent someone. That person came to be Bert the leprechaun, affectionately known as "the lep". Little did I know then that this little guy would grow from a cartoon-like character into a rounded individual with a real life, a family and lots of friends. I didn't know he would have a respectable Twitter following and that his journal would be read by over 1200 people at the time of writing! When you start thinking about those numbers in terms of unique visitors to an area of a website, that's quite good for a little lep!

People who have read his journal will know that today is his 33rd bbirthday (he was born in 1979). Because it is his special day, and given he has this large following), there are things we wanted to do to celebrate it. We wanted to make it easier for people to find journal entries, to listen to his continuing audio adventures, to learn about how he was created and to be able to see him. We have done all of these things in a lot more!

When you step into the newly named Bert's Place on our website, you are immersing yourself in his fictional world. As well as being able to read about Bert and listen to his audio adventures as has been the case for some months, we have included a number of other improvements.

You can visit Bert's Who's Who page. Even if you have been following the journal day by day, you could easily be forgiven for not being able to keep up with all the members of Bert's large family! We've now included a quick guide to get you up to speed.

We've given details of Bert's Twitter and (brand new) Facebook account if you would like to follow him or become his friend. He would be glad if you did!

We've included a link to Bert's newly designed Journal pages. Previously, all the journal entries were contained in a list of links by date. But as the entries were being written almost daily in some cases this was becoming impractical. So the journal has been designed as a calendar. As you enter the journal, you will see a menu of calendar months. Activate one of the months, such as "April 2012", and you will see all the journal entries for the period. You then have a choice. You can either systematically read the journal entry by entry, or, on each page, you can see all the dates for the month without having to keep going back to the journal main index. It's a much nicer way of being able to reference specific entries!

There are now 24 audio episodes in the "Bert's Audio Adventure" series. Previously, they could all be downloaded from the "Bert's Place" page of the website. Now, these are all available as a podcast. All new recordings, (such as the three being released today), will also be added to the podcast feed. In "Bert's Place", we've given you a direct link to the RSS feed, which you can also copy and paste into your Podcatcher if you wish. However, we are pleased to say that you can also search for "Bert's Place" within the iTunes Store! From the Store, you can preview podcast episodes or subscribe. Alternatively, you will also find us in the "Drama/Arts" category.

You may think that all of the above has taken a lot of work to set up, and you would be right. But we now come to the remaining much bigger projects.

Some people just want to enjoy Bert's adventures and read the journal, enjoying the make-believe which is Bert's character. But some people want to know a little more about how he was created, how his character has evolved over time and, above all, what he looks like.

First, we were very pleased to work with Paul Hopkins from the UK. Paul is a gifted interviewer and natural broadcaster who enjoys making podcasts on various topics. He kindly agreed to talk to both L and I about Bert, and you can hear the results in a 45 minute Audio Introduction to him, to be found of course in "Bert's Place". In addition to finding out "how Bert ticks", you will learn a lot about how the journal came to be written, together with the technical challenges and limitations we faced in our own personal lives when preparing items such as "The Dream Sequence". You will also hear audio extracts from Bert himself! We would particularly like to thank Paul for all his hard work in helping us produce this introduction to Bert.

But for some people, hearing and reading about Bert may not be enough. We wanted to bring him to life through visual imagery. We wanted to commission a talented artist to produce not only an initial picture of Bert but also to be imaginative and design more images on an ongoing basis. Such a person would not only need to be an expert in his field but would also have to bring to the table imagination and the power to clearly describe images to us both as we cannot see them. The artist would also need to be aware of Bert's character and the different situations in which he finds himself, so would need for example to take the time to read the journal so as to fully understand him.

We were extremely lucky to find someone very close to home who met all these requirements. Scott Clark has a tremendous amount of experience in the areas of painting and photography. His professional career spans over a decade. His client list is diverse - from fine oil portraits for private clients to large abstract paintings for prestigious showrooms and boardrooms, from emotional figurative pieces that make a bold statement to book and album cover designs, from interior design for restaurants to providing photography for TV programmes. In short, we were extremely lucky that Scott had the time and availability to do this work for us.

In the picture, Bert is sitting on the floor in a relaxed huddle. His ankles are crossed, one knee is up under his chin, his arms are loosly around his legs. He looks as if he has been rushing about, and has just flopped down on the floor to rest for a few minutes.

His face is slightly in profile, but turned toward us. It is a cute, rounded face with a slightly upturned nose, big green eyes, and a cute mouth in a half smile. He has curly sandy blonde hair. He is trendily dressed in khaki chenos and a tee-shirt in warm, muted colours, with a red white and blue target on the front. He is wearing white trainers, also sporting a matching bull's eye target on them. they have very long laces which are dangling on the floor.

Bert looks, at first glance, like someone's very trendy toddler. It is only when you look closely that you see something different. On either side of his head, almost hidden by his hair, you see what you at first think is just a wayward curl. And then you see it is his ears, just a little elongated and slightly pointed, they, and the maturity in his eyes are what make you see that he is not a toddler, but Bert, our lep.

Of course we would like to thank Scott Clarke for undertaking this project for us at very short notice and for giving it the fine attention to detail we were wanting. In particular, he listened to (and took on board) all of L's ideas concerning how she wanted Bert to look and these were transferred to the final picture. L's parents also provided essential visual assistance for which we are very grateful.

So, Bert should be a very happy little lep on his 33rd birthday. Oh, and I nearly forgot. There are two special audio adventures that have been produced to mark the occasion, both of which have required hours of production and editing! We do hope people will enjoy the new audio and all the other features we have added to the website. Happy birthday Bert!

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