Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

How to Chop or Peal Onions without Tears

Do you hate cutting onions because they make you "cry"? Here's some ways to prevent that.

  1. Put the unpeeled onion in the freezer.
  2. Leave the onion in the freezer for about ten minutes.
  3. Remove the onion from the freezer and peel it. The onion can now be sliced, chopped, or minced without tears.

Simply keep your onions in the fridge along with other veggies and you will never cry when chopping them - it's that simple!

You can freeze an onion, just prepare like you were going to use it. Pan fry it before cooling and putting into an airtight container and freeze. This stops the onion going mushy when defrosted. Use as you would any other onion.

If you use a sharp knife, there shouldn't be any tears. An onion makes you cry because acid is being released from the onion. Using a dull knife crushes the onion rather than cutting it, releasing far more of this acid into the air.

Onions that have been frozen raw may tend to be slightly mushy after thawing.

How to Peel an Onion Quickly

Try this method to cut and peel any sized onion in seconds!

  • Cut an onion in half vertically.
  • Place the two halves "cut side down" on the cutting board.
  • Cut off the unusable portions at the top and bottom of each half.
  • Peel back the top layer of each onion half. Your onion is now completely peeled!
  • Rinse the onion halves under cold water to remove any peel residue. Rinsing also reduces the amount of residue that causes your eyes to water when handling onions.

When an onion is halved, it is much easier to cut into thin slices.

Turn your cutting board ninety degrees after slicing, and you can easily dice your onion as well!

If you leave one of the ends attached from the beginning, it is much easier to dice. For slicing however, it is best to remove both ends. Don't forget to remove the end when you are finished slicing.

Always use care when using kitchen knives to avoid cutting yourself.

Always wash your cutting board when switching between cutting meat, poultry or fish and cutting vegetables to avoid cross-contamination of bacteria from one type of food to another.

Use a non-serrated knife: a serrated knife will twist in the onion as it cuts, and create uneven slices, and if you're not careful, can injure you!

Washing your hands along with the stainless steel knife after slicing an onion (or garlic) will remove the scent from your fingers.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

General Knowledge RSS Feeds

Not that you need it, but you can enrich your mind and impress people at cocktail parties by subscribing to daily feeds that send along a Word Of The Day (via Wordsmith.org), Quote of the Day (via Brainy Quote), or how about a bit of wisdom with a daily fortune cookie? Just look for the RSS or XML links on each page to get the feed to add to your news aggrigator.

RSS (Real Simple Syndication) is technology that allows certain programs called RSS readers to download new content from an RSS feed to your computer. RSS feeds are often found on blogs or forums and contain the latest posts to that blog or forum. An RSS feed can also be found on news sites and contains the latest articles found on that site. Just like an email program such as Microsoft Outlook saves you time by checking for new mail for you and downloading it so that you can view it, the RSS reader checks for updates for you and as soon as it sees an update, it will download it to your computer and can notify you by a popup message or dialog, etc.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Basic Toys for Blind Preschoolers

By Carla Ruschival

People always seem to think that the ideal toy for a blind child is one that talks or plays music. While it is true that such toys are fun and entertaining, it is also true that a blind preschooler needs many other types of toys as well, including those that build manual dexterity, encourage discrimination of shape and size through touch, and allow the child to learn problem-solving skills.

  1. Measure Up! Cups by Discovery Toys: There are many nesting cups and blocks on the market, but the Measure Up! Cups are terrific. The 12 brightly-colored cups have raised numbers in the bottom from 1 (smallest) to 12 (largest). Fit them inside one another or turn them over and build a tower. A raised ring around the bottom edge of each cup prevents towers from toppling too easily when touched. Use the cups to encourage the blind preschool child to reach, grasp, and build; to explore size; and to solve problems (which cup comes next).
  2. The Giant Pegboard from Discovery Toys: Even though a blind child may not be able to see the colors of this toy, he or she will have lots of fun putting the pegs in their holes. Pegs are arranged in five rows of five pegs each on a 10-inch square plastic board. Each round peg is easy to grasp, and has a hole in its top so pegs can be stacked. Use this toy to build hand and finger dexterity and problem-solving. Encourage counting and teach spatial relationships such as top, bottom, left and right. Teach basic shapes by placing pegs in a square or rectangle and asking the child to make the same shape. Turn the board over and stretch rubber bands around the raised bumps to make geometric shapes; allow the child to do the same.
  3. Shape-O Ball from Tupperware: There are many shape sorters on the market, but Tupperware's Shape-O Ball is head and shoulders above the competition. With 10 shapes, each with a raised number, quality construction (smooth edges), and no-spill storage inside the ball, this is the ideal take-along toy. Keep down frustration and build self-confidence by letting the child start out with only 2 or 3 distinct shapes, such at round, star, and triangle. Let him explore the ball and fit the shapes into their spaces. Let him shake the ball with the shapes inside and enjoy the sound and his success. Then help him open the ball, dump out the shapes and do it all again. Add more shapes as he gains skill and confidence. A great toy for building finger dexterity and encouraging exploration of surroundings.

With these three toys, your blind child will have hours and hours of educational play with no batteries needed.

Talking First Aid Kit

Carl Augusto of the American Foundation for the Blind Blog posted the following about this great product.

I think it's always important to keep safety in mind, so I thought I'd let you know about a new product from intelligentFirstAidT, the First Aid "talking" Kit. The Kit includes nine injury-specific packs to help treat common injuries, including Bleeding, Head & Spine Injury, and Shock. The packs are individually labeled and color-coded, which I love because it would help someone with low vision easily distinguish the packs. The best part, though, is that with the press of a button, the audio component attached to each card provides step-by-step instructions to manage the wound. Situations often become chaotic when a loved one, an acquaintance, or even you, experiences a minor injury. With this tool, people with low vision can remain calm and have an idea of how to handle things without worrying about reading any print.

Check out the intelli gentFirstAidT website to purchase the product or get more information. The site even allows you to listen to a sample of the audio component of the kit.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Digiscribble Hand Written Notes to MS-Word Documents

College students, just think of the possibilities! For the first time, handwritten notes, maps, sketches and signatures can all be captured remotely using a normal ink filled pen. Save them to your PC and then convert them to typed text and copy or import into MS Office applications like Word and Outlook. When connected digiscribble also has mouse functionality and you can use it with the 'digital inking' and 'tablet PC' features included with MS Vista.

Digiscribble works in 2 modes:

Pen Mode: As well as capturing your notes remotely away from your PC or notebook when connected digiscribble captures natural handwriting onto a PC or notebook in real time. Once you have captured & saved your notes in the note manager software included you can back up your notes and recycle your paper. Your notes can then be edited and converted to editable typed text with the MyScript recognition software included. They can then be exported straight into MS Word or Outlook or copied to any application. The MyScript software can even learn your handwriting and allows you to create your own handwriting profile & dictionary.

Mouse Mode: Mouse Mode turns the digiscribble into a mouse with hovering and 2 button functionality. In Mouse mode you can write directly into Windows Journal, and other Tablet PC applications such as MS OneNote, MSN Messenger, MS Outlook and snipping tool. When connected mouse mode speeds up the whole process of capturing your notes by switching effortlessly between pen & mouse mode. If you have Vista you have the extra feature of the 'digital ink handwriting software' feature included in MS Office, where you can handwrite directly onto office applications like MS Word & Windows Journal.

Minimum System Requirements: Microsoft Windows 2000 (SP4), XP (SP2) or Vista, 50Mb HD space, Min 32Mb RAM, Min 16 bit colour, 800 x 600 screen resolution, USB Port, and Internet explorer.

Click this link to learn more or purchase digiscribble from ScanningPens.co.uk.

Create Your Own Cookbook

Tastebook.com allows you to create custom-made recipe books by choosing from an array of available recipes on the website (thanks to Tastebook's partnership with Epicurius.com) and/or by adding your very own.

After registering with the site, you can start selecting the recipes that you would like to include in your very own Tastebook. Once you're done with your selection, you can pick a cover to customize, and, before finalizing the process, you can review the created cookbook page by page. Every Tastebook can include up to 100 recipes, which can be added at any time; this means that for all the unused recipe credits, you will get remaining credits to be incorporated afterwards. Its practical design makes it very easy to add and remove recipes from the book over time.

Tastebook is a great idea not only for organizing your own recipes but also for a very personalized present.

Click this link to visit http://www.Tastebook.com.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Talking CD Album

I'd love to be able to thumb through my CD collection as fast as my sighted son can. He has those books of CDs and he simply flips through the pages until he finds the disc he wants. It takes me forever to find the disc I want to play sometimes, but that's all about to change with this device.

The Voice Recording CD Album doesn't automatically recognize each disc, instead you have to record a custom 3 second message for all 20 CDs in the binder. But as you turn the pages your messages will be played back making it easy to find the album you're looking for. You'll need to be particularly careful about putting the discs back into the exact slot, otherwise this system becomes useless.

There are two CDs per page and it's easy to record your 3 second voice message for every CD. The Voice Recording CD Album is made of rugged plastic with a built-in speaker, recording button and secret closure.

Click this link to purchase the Voice Recording CD Album from Otherland.

ZoomIt Makes Presentations Easier to See

ZoomIt is a free utility that allows you to capture an image of your computer screen (via customizable hotkeys). Then, in real time, you can draw, type or zoom directly in on the captured screen image. The really handy part is that the capture process is seamless, as no external program is opened. By pressing the Esc key (escape) on your keyboard, you can "unfreeze" the screen and all the mark-ups you made will disappear. This is extremely handy for doing presentations, especially if you use a tablet PC. ZoomIt also offers a timer function where you can assign a countdown to your computer. That would be useful if you wanted to do a presentation with interactive user exercises. Either way, this is an extremely handy utility that doesn't even need to be installed to run. Just double click it and go! ZoomIt works on all versions of Windows and you can even use pen input for ZoomIt when drawing on tablet PCs.

The screen magnifier is one of the best out there, but it's the annotation tool that I think would be handy when giving presentations or even showing someone your computer screen, one on one. The countdown timer is off-topic and rather silly, but you're not forced to use it. ZoomIt is just a typical Sysinternals program in that it is tiny, functional, handy, unobtrusive and free.

For those of us with limited vision, this program will simply amaze you! It has the draggable quality of Google Maps, combined with a magnificent zoom function. It shows a much bigger area of your screen than most magnifiers. It is also a presentation aid with a draw feature that allows the presenter to circle or highlight part of the screen display. Then, with a simple push of the E key, the drawings are erased again. There is a screen break feature too, but it seems to be the opposite of what I would use it for. For example, I want to use the PC for, say, 45 minutes and have the screen change to tell me to take a break. This feature works more like a countdown timer in that the screen is replaced by a large digital display that counts your time down.

The first time you run ZoomIt, it presents a configuration dialogue box that describes ZoomIt's behavior. It also allows you to specify alternate hotkeys for zooming and for entering the drawing mode, without zooming. Plus, it lets you customize the drawing pen color and size. ZoomIt also includes a break timer feature that remains active even when you tab away from the timer window. It then allows you to return to the timer window by simply clicking on the ZoomIt tray icon.

This is definitely a program you have to see to believe, so check it out today! To download Zoomit for yourself, just visit this Website.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Switchit: The Dual-Ended Long Spatula

Can there ever be a perfect spatula? This dual-ended spatula provides exceptional convenience in the kitchen. Its two-in-one design offers one end that's great for broad, sweeping strokes, while the other, smaller end offers a bit more control and finesse. Using either end, the ingenious asymmetric design reaches any angle in any pot, pan, or bowl. The kitchen tool features a hard stainless-steel 18/10 core with a 650-degree-F heat-resistant silicone exterior. The stain-resistant spatula won't scratch nonstick cookware and is dishwasher-safe for fast easy cleanup. The spatula measures 11-1/2 by 2 inches and carries a limited lifetime warranty.

Click this link to purchase the Switchit Dual-Ended Long Spatula from Amazon.com.

Tag Items with Tag Alert

Tag it or leave it! Don't you hate it when you misplace or forget personal items like your cell phone or wallet? With the Tag Alert you can make sure you never walk away from your personal belongings (or that they don't walk away from you.) Just tag your item and keep the monitor on hand. When your item strays beyond 30 or 100 feet (depending on the setting) an alarm sounds.

Click this link to purchase Tag Alert.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Follow That Mouse!

Have you ever been working away on your computer when all of the sudden, your mouse pointer disappears? You try moving your mouse around as fast as you can to try and find it, but it just seems like it went away forever. Well, if this has ever happened to you, I have something you might be very interested in! You can add a trail to your mouse pointer so that it's easier to locate. To do this, go to Start and open up your Control Panel. Once you're in there, click on either Mouse or the Printers and Other Hardware link and then choose the Mouse option. This will open up the Mouse Properties box and you're going to want to choose the Pointer Options tab.

Next, go down to the Visibility section and checkmark the line that says "Display pointer trails." You can then decide how long you want the trail to last. It can either be short, long or somewhere in the middle. When you're done, click OK.

Now, you will have a trail following your pointer every time you move your mouse. Keep in mind that it might take you a little while to get used to the trail, but you will. And just think how fast you'll be able to find your mouse pointer if it ever happens to "disappear" on you again!

Gift Girl: Helping the shopping-challenged men of the World

OK guys, if you have no clue what to buy for your lady, Gift Girl is here to lend you a helping hand. It aims to be an online destination that dishes out shopping advice to help men eliminate wrong choices by delivering the perfect gift selection. This solution-based site integrates the latest technology with fashion expertise for the time- and taste-challenged male.

The site boasts thousands of designer items that hover between $100 to more than $100,000 in terms of price, with new content being added on a daily basis in order to keep the site and its selections fresh. All you need to do is fork out a $20 subscription fee - a small price to pay considering you run the risk of getting the wrong present yet again on your anniversary, having to spend the night on a cold, concrete floor for the umpteenth time.

Gift Girl content includes:

  • Gift Girl Collections: Ranging from New York City Girl to Lazy Sunday Girl, Nantucket Girl and more., complete ensembles are suggested to match many moods, looks and occasions.
  • Gift Girl Says: Candid advice on how and why the item would make a perfect gift and for whom.
  • Gift Girl Don'ts: Take it from the experts at Gift Girl; your girl really does not want another kitchen appliance.
  • Gift Girl Tips: Straight from the expert eyes of the Gift Girl team, a wealth of tips for dodging potential shopping disasters.
Click this link to start shopping with http://www.giftgirl.com/.

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