Wednesday, June 20, 2018
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A Column On Assistive & 'Boomer' Friendly Technology


When I was 30 years old the warranty on my body ran out. Systems started failing and tech support wasn't a whole lot of help. Re-booting wasn't an option and calls to the manufacturer.... Well let's just say the‘answers' are still a point of discussion. It's not like it was the‘blue screen of death' or anything, but it is chronic... (Multiple Sclerosis). It has caused me to have a different perspective on most things because where I sit.... is in a wheelchair.

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From Where I Sit

SleepPhones™ from AcousticSheep

To Sleep...Perchance to Dream...

We returned from the CEA Line Show having seen some interesting and innovative products. Among them, a simple but effective aide for a common problem we all face at one time or another – trouble sleeping.

At the end of the day, sleep is what I want but thoughts and ideas are what I get. My answer is to meditate.  I found that to get to that place of total relaxation it helps me to have the right soundtrack as a guide. Recordings with a binaural tone do the trick for me. It is, however, quite awkward – to try to sleep with earphones stuck in my ears. lavender SleepPhones

AcousticSheep, LLC, a Pennsylvania eco-friendly and socially conscious company introduced SleepPhones™ Pajamas for your Ears. Developed by Wei-Shin Lai, MD a family physician that experienced problems going back to sleep after late night patient calls. Her husband suggested listening to binaural beat frequencies that drive brain activity into a specific brain state. This, however, can only be achieved using stereo headphones.

The dilemma – how to listen to the sounds comfortably all night? Let’s face it, even really good earbuds or earphones can become a little bothersome when worn for 8 hours while trying to sleep.

Having a similar situation in that I enjoy listening to meditation music at night to get me and keep me asleep, I have gone through many sets of earbuds and earphones. I was looking forward to using the SleepPhones™. sleepphone_system.jpg

The SleepPhones ™ came in an eco-friendly paper bag labeled with a sleeping lamb wearing headphones. In the bag is a 21” soft stretch fleece band in a lovely lavender color (don’t worry guys, it also comes in grey and black) with pockets for two 32 Ohms 20kHz speakers and a 48” cord with a ⅛” stereo plug that plugs into your MP3 player, IPod or almost all audio devices.

The system is useful for drowning out other noises such as snoring (his not mine) or ambient traveling ruckus.  It even plugs into the audio channel on an airplane, assuming that your airline still provides music (or anything else for that matter). Pull the headband down over your eyes and presto – a sleep mask.

thats_not_us.jpgThe headband is snugly and comfortable, which will be great in cold weather. The only issue I had was how warm the headband is during the summer. [Note to AcousticSheep: maybe something in an open netting or weave for warmer weather?]

As for acoustics, surprisingly good. Excellent in fact. The compact speakers are full range and when snuggled comfortably on your ears, deliver a clean, precise sound experience.

Packaging on our review set was definitely geared to the female demographic. Besides all of the cuddly sheep imagery, the contents even included a lovely aromatic sachet. This might not scream ‘manly’ to your guy, but be careful, if he tries them you may have a hard time getting them back. My husband gave them a whirl and couldn’t stop talking about how good the acoustics were….and he’s very fussy about his tech.

My testing of the SleepPhones was a very positive experience. They deliver not only excellent audio but also exceptional comfort.

Sheep everywhere should take note!

scared_sheep.jpgI would give the SleepPhones product 4 out of 5 sheep…uh stars. The only thing that would make it better were if it were wireless….but that would add to cost!

The company calls them Pajamas for yours Ears; I say they are a Lullaby For Your Mind.

SleepPhones™ available in lavender, grey or black. -  $54.95

SleepPhones System includes a Natural Sound CD with binaural technology and a lavender sachet. -  $64.95

Oh No You Didn’t

Nuance's PDF Converter Professional 6.0

One of my associates spent hours writing a paper and sent it to me to proofread.  I read the document and jotted down my ideas, typed in some comments, a little cut here, a little paste there, a whole bunch of deletions with research references, and then, in a moment that can only be described as distracted creativity (?), promptly saved it overwriting the original file.  Yikes!

That’s when the “Oh No You Didn’t!rang out through the office.

Fortuitously, I had printed out the original document. Even more fortunately, our office had been sent a copy of PDF Converter Professional 6.0 from Nuance Communications for review. 


Read more: Oh No You Didn’t

From Where I Sit

A New Column On Assistive & 'Boomer' Friendly Technology

Over the years I have made adjustments to my home, office, car etc.  For what I paid for my wheelchair accessible van I could have been happily driving a new top-of-the-line sports car. Oh well! 

With so many disabled adults as well as aging baby boomers in this country, many advances have been made in an attempt to level the playing field. There are times, however, when I wish the designers of some of these devices were put in a wheelchair and asked to demonstrate their accessibility.

To items claiming to be "handicapped accessible", I say, "I'll be the judge of that". To other items that appeal to the aging Boomer population, well.... I'll be the judge of that too, but I just may be a bit more forgiving in my opinions.

Let Me Tell You Where to Put Your Hearts and Flowers

It's important that you understand that this column is not a cry for sympathy. The title of this section should tell you that. My goal is to utilize products and give you an honest opinion of how well they work for me.

Are Your Arms Getting Shorter?


The Uniden EZ Phone 

As a card-carrying member (AARP) of the baby boomer generation I am surprised by new challenges every day.  One of my favorites is the ongoing battle between the length of my arms and the size of the print on everything I read from newspapers to phone screens. 

Let’s talk about the telephone, who among us could function without it?  Every household has several. Some are wired, more and more are wireless.   Sometimes using the phone is the bane of my existence.  Tiny buttons, tiny numbers and tiny screens with even tinier writing do nothing for a member of the bifocal generation.

, one of today’s leading electronics manufacturers heard my anguish and designed the CEZAI998.  Its features are designed specifically for those whose eyes and ears are not what they used to be.  

Read more: Are Your Arms Getting Shorter?


First up is a Toothbrush. Yes, a Toothbrush

The HydraBrush™ 

Let me confess that I am somewhat obsessive about cleaning my teeth. I'm one of those people that get a gold star from my dental hygienist. At times it is not an easy feat doing all the brushing and flossing. So when a colleague told me what he had seen at CES.  I was intrigued and of course skeptical about this product.

HydraBrush™ claims that I will get "whiter teeth, healthier gums, superior plaque removal, fresher breath and better check-ups using their brush".  Uh Huh! At first glance the design of the brushes was a little scary. There are two sets of brushes (four bristle heads) that are situated to cover top and bottom rows as well as the front and back of the teeth. I was pleased that the bristles fit easily on the head of the brush and positioned nicely in my mouth.

The HydraBrush™ comes with two sets (four each) of brushes. The red one hbheads.jpgis Ultra Soft and is suggested when you first use the HydraBrush to let your gums gently get to a clean healthy state. The instructions told me not to be alarmed by the little bit of bleeding I noticed at first as this is normal and soon stopped with continued use. I guess my teeth and gums were not as clean and healthy as I thought.

After a few days I switched to the blue set of the Standard Soft brushes that gave me a thorough cleaning and a massaging of my gums, and just as the manual said, with no bleeding. It appears they might be on to something.

When I turn it on, HydraBrush ™ goes to work. In a short amount of time (less than 60 seconds) and with little effort, my teeth and gums are clean.

The handle is lightweight and easy to maneuver which is important to me and to anyone experiencing some weakness or fatigue.  I noticed that the unit only requires a charge every two weeks - that's with two people using it twice a day.  I just plug in the A/C adapter and it recharges overnight.

This is the first brush that I look forward to using. Its unique design cleans my teeth and gums so well that I feel as if I have just left the dentist's chair instead of my bathroom sink. The only issues I have are minor at best. The 3 position power switch (off-hi-lo) is a little challenging for someone like myself, and the stand and charger configuration could use a little work also. These items in no way affect the tremendous job this does for your overall dental hygiene. OK, if you haven't figured it out yet, I really like this product.

It gets a bluestar.gif bluestar.gif bluestar.gif bluestar.gif halfstar.jpg rating from me.

Available on the HydraBrush website as well as Amazon at a price of $99.95.

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Contributing Editor