IOS 5 is coming! iOS 5 is coming! And with it, a lot of people will have questions on how to enable this or that new feature.

[UPDATE: at this point, custom vibrations as set within each contact seems to only be for calls from that contact. Not for text messages or other notifications. This is very unfortunate …]

It may be confusing to turn on, create, and assign custom vibration patterns to different contacts. Here goes …

First, you need to turn the custom vibration patterns feature on. Go to Settings / General / Accessibility and scroll down to the Hearing portion. Flick on the option for “Custom Vibrations.”


Next, go to Settings / Sounds. Flick on both Vibrate options, then scroll to the bottom till you see “Vibration Patterns.” (NOTE: you won’t see this “Vibration Patterns” option if you haven’t turned on Custom Vibrations inside the Accessibility settings.)



Tap “Vibration Patterns” and you’ll then see a list of different vibration patterns. You can pick one of these or create your own.


What you select here will then become your default vibration pattern for the various alerts, unless you pick a different vibration pattern for a specific person.

Here, too, you can easily create your own patterns – i.e., three bursts of vibrations lasting 1/4 second each, or one long burst of vibrations lasting two seconds, or however you want it. Just tap on “Create New Vibration” and then you’ll see this screen with two greyed buttons, “Play” and “Stop.”


Press anywhere in the empty space where it says “Tap to create a vibration pattern” and you’ll feel vibrations lasting as long as you press down. Lift up, then press down and the vibrations will stop then resume. Then press “Stop,” and lo and behold, you’ve created your first custom vibration pattern! Press “Play” to play it back, “Record” to try again, “Save” to save this pattern (you’ll be asked to name this pattern), or “Cancel” to return to the previous screen.

You’re now ready to assign vibrations to specific persons! Here goes …

Head over to the Contacts app and tap the name of someone to which you’d like to award a custom vibration pattern. When viewing that person’s contacts details, tap “Edit” and scroll down to “Vibration.” (NOTE: your contact might not show this field unless you tap “Edit.”) Tap “Vibration” and then you can pick the vibration pattern you want to assign or even create a new pattern.


There you go! Have fun. Knock yourself out.

Ok, folks. As of right now, it’s easy to jailbreak your phone. Just update to iOS 4.3.3 via iTunes then go to Done? Good.

(Jailbreaking is reversible and basically legal. And what jailbreaking basically does is install an ‘alternate’ app store named Cydia that’s full of thousands of apps, tweaks, and themes that Apple would not have approved.)

Here’s a list of apps I bought and/or downloaded from the Cydia app that makes my iPhone 4 MUCH more deaf-friendly:

Vibrafications – set up custom vibrations for different actions (SMS versus mail versus Twitter / Facebook notifications). Vibrations can be of different patterns and lengths. You can even set up custom vibrations for different people!

3G Unrestrictor – make it possible to use FaceTime and several VRS apps over 3G, not just wifi. Came in handy when I needed to call AAA for service.

Notified Pro and Notification GriP – set up “quiet” notifications on the top or bottom of the screen and which does not interrupt your work or play. No more intrusive iPhone notifications in a box in the middle of your screen. So many freaking options to customize these whichever way you want!! A definite MUST-have for me. More on this on a later blog post. (EDIT: I use the PushMail app – from the regular app store – to send me push notifications whenever I get new email. Similarly, I use the free Boxcar app to send me Twitter notifications.)

LockInfo – extensively customize the lock screen to show a variety of information. I have this set to dim after 5 minutes and to display emails, SMS messages, and notifications. So that means I can just glance at my iPhone at least once every 5 minutes to see if I have new messages instead of having to frigging turn it on and checking different apps. LockInfo comes with numerous plug-ins as well to display even more info – calendar, Twitter, to-dos, etc.

BiteSMS – send and receive SMS messages in a small window on your screen from inside any app or the lockscreen. No need to switch to the Messaging app. Wish there was something like this for mail messages!

These are just a handful of handy jailbreak apps I use to make the iPhone a vastly better experience for me as a deaf person. I know – iOS 5, announced for release this fall – does nearly all these (except for BiteSMS). Where do you think Apple got its ideas?

In addition to these, I use quite a few more jailbreak apps to improve the overall experience, like SBsettings (quick access to common Settings), Snappy (quick photo-taking), MyWiFi (ahem, using my iPhone as a wifi router for laptops or iPads when on the road), InfiniDock (having more than just 4 apps on my dock bar), FolderCloser (close a folder upon launching an app), and many more.

Go forth and jailbreak!

San Francisco continues to keep up its uber-geek credo: it will now accept complaints from people via Twitter.   Just follow @SF311. Can even post photos via TwitPic.

Damn.  This is terrific for deaf folks living in or visiting San Francisco.  Hope Frederick, Maryland will do the same soon.  I do know that several city and county commissioners in and around Frederick, MD are tweeting via Twitter.  But an official Twitter account like @SF311?  Priceless.

Any other towns / cities / counties accepting complaints via Twitter?

(Thanks, TechCrunch)

VPAD+ Accessories

February 23, 2009

Now you’ve got your uber-cool VPAD+ from Viable.  Now you’ve got to put it someplace!

Clear View Innovations — otherwise known as CVI Gear — has three mounts and stands for the VPAD+ which may help you decide.  All three are useful for freeing up space on your desk or counter, and for raising the VPAD+ to eye level.

The CVI Flexarm Mount is a doo-hickey that clamps to the edge of a kitchen counter or desk, and has a flexible arm that can be bent one way or another.

The CVI Pivot Mount is similar to the Flexarm Mount in that it clamps to the edge of your kitchen counter or desk.  It has a longer and straight arm that has a 360 degrees pivot for eye-level communications.

The CVI Table Stand can be put onto a table without having to clamp it to an edge.  And you can quickly move the VPAD+ and stand to another location.

All three products are made to order.  So if you want to hang your VPAD+ from up high, say from the top edge of your armoire or bookshelf, the manufacturer can make a “reverse” mount to make this easier for you.  All three products are $99.99.

Speak Starbucks-speak!

June 10, 2008

If you’re like me, you have to write down your Starbucks order.  Luckily, just about every Starbucks barista has been trained to press the “feed” key on the receipt printer and give me a slip of paper and pen even before I need to ask for it.  But then I spend what feels like a minute scrawling down my entire order.  Even more time when I’m ordering for several people.  And then I see the barista scribble the entire order into a few letters on each cup.

I’ve always wanted to learn the Starbucks language.  And now, thanks to Adam, here’s a list of the symbols, letters, and numbers that Starbucks baristas use when writing down your order — and that means you and I can just jot these down and give the barista our order.

“Venti iced X 2 TN N WC(with slash) M” — ahhh, that felt sooo good.

When using letters / numbers from this list, I’ve noticed that baristas tend to follow a particular order: first, let them know the size (venti etc), then whether it’s iced, then decaf, then shots, then syrup, then milk, then custom, then finally the drink itself.

I’ll update this list as I get more information, and/or move this to a separate page.

Happy imbibing!  And tell me in the comments what your favorite drink is, in Starbucks-speak.

(none) – regular strength
X – decaf
1/2 – half / half

(none) – the standard
1 – single
2 – double
3 – triple
4 – quad
5 – 5 shots
6 – 6 shots

(none) – none for me
V – vanilla
H – hazelnut
TN – toffee nut
C – caramel
P – peppermint
A – almond
R – raspberry
SFC – sugar free caramel
SFH – sugar free hazelnut
SFV – sugar free vanilla
1PV – one pump vanilla (you can add 1P in front of any of these syrups like 1PR, 1PSFH)
2PV – two pump vanilla (you can add 2P in front of any of these syrups like 2PA, 1PSFV)

(none) – the standard
2% – 2% milk
1% – 1% milk
N – nonfat
S – soy
O – organic
B – breve

(none) – none
R – room (space on top for you to add milk yourself)
R (with slash thru it) – no room
WC (with slash thru it) – no whipped cream
WC – with whipped cream
XH – extra hot
XF – extra foam
F (with slash thru it) – no foam
D – dry
W – wet
XD – extra dry
CR – with caramel sauce
2/3 full – 2/3 full

L – latte
M – mocha
A – caffe americano
BC – brewed coffee
PM – peppermint mocha
WM – white chocolate mocha
C – cappuccino
E – espresso
CH – Tazo chai tea latte
HC – hot chocolate
WHC – white hot chocolate
PHC – peppermint hot chocolate
CM – caramel macchiato
EM – espresso macchiato
CDL – cinnamon dolce latte
GL – gingerbread latte
SFGL – gingerbread latte with sugarfree syrup
SFCDL – cinnamon dolce latte with sugarfree syrup
PSL – pumpkin spice latte
CAS – caramel apple spice
VCR – vanilla crème
BT – iced black tea
PT – iced passion tea
GT – iced green tea
PTL – Passion iced tea lemonade
GTL – Tazo green tea latte
CF – coffee Frappuccino blended coffee
CRF – caramel Frappuccino blended coffee
MF – mocha Frappuccino blended coffee
STCF – strawberries and crème Frappuccino blended crème
VBF – vanilla bean Frappuccino blended crème
CFL – coffee light Frappuccino light blended coffee
CRFL – caramel light Frappuccino light blended coffee
EGF – eggnog Frappuccino blended coffee
PMF – peppermint mocha Frappuccino blended coffee
CHCF – Tazo chai tea Frappuccino blended crème
DCCF – double chocolate chip Frappuccino blended crème
JCF – java chip Frappuccino blended crème
VBFL – vanilla bean light Frappuccino light blended creme

Since May 19, SnapVRS has been making it possible for callers to be connected to 9-1-1 just by dialing “911” on their Ojo videophones.  Sorenson began doing that last year, and Viable just yesterday.  Good move, SnapVRS, even if it’s being mandated by FCC!

Callers would have to provide the address where emergency services are needed.  I find it interesting that Sorenson has paired with another company to trace your IP address to where you are calling from.  I wonder how accurate that is — and whether that company has access to more detailed information that makes it possible to link IP addresses to actual street addresses or if (like SnapVRS and Viable) the caller still must provide his/her address.

Most deaf folks I know haven’t used a TTY in years — rather, they just use videophones as well as text-based relay services through the Internet or via their pagers. But they still kept a “landline” phone line with a TTY next to it. For for? Ah, for emergencies! They needed a way to call 9-1-1, and having the TTY and phone ready was a way to make sure they’d get an ambulance or police over whenever they needed it. (Now, if only these 9-1-1 emergency providers will always respond to TTY calls …)

Viable VRS will soon be able to connect you to your local 9-1-1 emergency service provider. All you would need to do is dial “911” on ViableVision or your VPAD and click on “VRS.” If you’re using a different videophone, you would be able to dial the full address as following — please be sure to save this at the top of your contacts list!

  • Dialing 911 or via Viable Vision and the VPAD
  • Dialing via D-Link DVC-1000, Sorenson VP-100, or the Ojo
  • Dialing via Sorenson VP-200

NOTE: This 9-1-1 emergency service is not yet “live” — I’ll let you know when Viable begins providing this service.

I previously blogged about Sorenson providing 9-1-1 services a year ago. Good to see another VRS provider getting into the game, even if it’s being mandated by FCC. I’ll also let you know when other VRS providers begin providing 9-1-1 services as well.

Now, my question is: if you’ve got high-speed Internet and a videophone (or several videophones!) at home, do you even need a landline phone line installed in your home nowadays?

EDIT (6/3/2008): Viable just released a video explaining this new service.  Carla Mathers is featured in this video — good job, dear Carla!

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