Audio Demo: Samsung TV With Accessibility Features

Recently, several people have been talking about TV’s, set top boxes, and the like, that have accessibility features built in. So far, the only major cable company who has implemented anything like this is Comcast, and they aren’t everywhere. Supposedly, the rules for this stuff to be accessible to people with disabilities kick in at the end of the year, but it sure doesn’t seem like anyone’s exactly scrambling to make it happen.

Enter Samsung. A couple years ago, they came out with some accessibility features on some larger televisions. These were well outside what I was willing to pay for a TV, given how little TV I watch. This week, however, I got wind of a 32-inch TV from Samsung with these accessibility features built in: talking menus, talking program guide, the whole ball of wax, and for under $300.

A call to Samsung was disappointing. The guy on the phone tried to sell me a 49-inch TV, and couldn’t find one smaller. Samsung doesn’t exactly go out of their way to highlight these features, that’s for sure, but eventually, a couple folks came up with a model number. Online chat with Samsung confirmed the accessibility features, as did the manual. So, thanks to Jeff Bishop and Randy the big R for alerting and tracking down model numbers.

So on to the show. Here we go through the setup of the Samsung UN32J550AFXZA. It went fairly smoothly, and I reckon it could have been done completely independently, though that may have taken some time if I got totally stuck. Backspace doesn’t tell you what characters you delete on the on-screen keyboard. That’s probably the biggest gotcha. Another thing. If you get this TV, you may get some nice music during the setup. I did, once. The talking menus duck the music down pretty nicely though.

Anyway, there is, no doubt, more to explore, like the apps in the Hub, but this should get people started. And maybe excited, because we have an accessible TV that’s actually affordable.

Review: The 33: Pramantha, Part 1 of 4

The 33 Episode 1 CoverHave you been wondering what J. C. Hutchins has been up to since the Seventh Son trilogy came out?

Oh wait. You don’t know who he is, or what that is? Well, that maybe is for another time. I’ll link to it later. Work with me here, OK?

j.C. hasn’t been idle, no sir. He’s been working on interesting things, including a publicity campaign for the recent Fox series “Almost Human”, among other things. He seems to be Mr. Transmedia. That’s a fancy $50 word for things that transcend different kinds of media, like books and games and Internet, audio, and goodness, people who are a lot smarter than I am should probably explain it. Besides that though, he’s been hatching this idea that he brought up way back when he was still updating the Seventh Son trilogy. Now, he’s unleashing it on an unsuspecting public with the first installment, Pramantha, Part 1. This is a four-part story, set in a universe that will have lots more stories, some multipart, some standalone, and, if this first one is any indication, stories that will grab you right away and won’t let go. Kind of like a teleport across the world, except without the puking, but I’m a bit ahead of myself.

Here’s how Hutch introduced the story to me:

The 33 is my new episodic fiction project, which debuts this Friday (Jan. 31). It’s a sci-fi/supernatural thriller series about a group of 33 misfits tasked with thwarting a cabal of baddies keen to jumpstart the apocalypse. It’s The A-Team meets The X-Files, with a dash of Hellboy and Global Frequency added for apocalyptic spice.


So how was it? In short, go get it immediately. While it’s a bit of a mystery why it begins the way it does, we don’t start with anyone’s idea of a slow buildup of action or background. We jump in with both feet. This must be a Hutch thing. It’s sort of like starting the first book of Seventh Son: Descent with “The President of the United States is dead. He was murdered in the morning sunlight by a four-year-old boy.” Pramantha begins in similarly dramatic fashion. I was left at the end of the story wondering how the beginning connected, but I’m sure all will be revealed in due course.

This part of the story introduces us to the 33, (or at least, a few of them), just as one of its newest members learns about this secret anti-apocalyptic organization. They don’t deal with things as mundane as religious fanatics and airplane hijackings. Their stakes are higher. A more mismatched group of misfits would be harder to find. With such varied backgrounds and appearances, it’s hard to see how these people are going to interact, much less work together to foil whatever plot they’re assigned to foil, but that’s just the beginning of what I’m sure will unfold in the coming months. For instance, what are their secrets? What was the deal they made with their mysterious…boss? Benefactor? Blackmailer? Clearly, this series has, and will have, lots of layers. Kind of like ogres, except maybe not so nice as the PixR type ogres.

While this first installment is self-contained, as in “Things happen, and there’s a good stopping point”, remember that this is the first part of a four-part story, which will be released a month at a time. You’re not going to get resolution at the end of this installment. There isn’t even a whole bunch of action yet. But this story lays the groundwork and gives us a small glimpse of what lies ahead, should we follow these five maybe odd characters. And what lies ahead promises to be very, very interesting.

You can find out more about the series and buy your own copy of the story in either Ebook or audio format by visiting this page, And if you really did miss the Seventh Son books (really, it was a total of five), along with other original fiction, on this page.

OMG! Dinner Out

So, no podcast with this one. I had a nice recording that I thought I made for posting, but unfortunately, it didn’t save. A shame, but such is life.


I just had an amazing dinner at a little restaurant near the UPMC Prebyterian hospital in Pittsburgh:


Fuel And Fuddle

212 Oakland Ave.

Pittsburgh, PA 15213


It’s noisy and popular, judging by the more than a few diners on a Sunday during the summer.


I’d been there before, but it’s been a couple years; last time was during Alena’s surgeries a couple years ago. It’s still fantastic.


I started out with a fire-roasted brea. Now how can you fire roast a soft cheese like that, you might ask? I did. Basically, it’s some brea, wrapped up in a flaky pastry crust, with a little powdered sugar sprinkled on top, then fire baked, then served on a plate with honey and a couple thin slices of apple. It was absolutely amazing. I can’t describe it any other way. When my waitress told me it was one of her favorite things, I could well understand why.


The main event was alligator stew, and there’s a story here. It’s served in a bowl with a big pile of mashed potatoes. It’s definitely got a kick to it. There’s some chicken, alligator tail of course, and sausage, along with a little squash and I don’t know what, in a creamy broth that has a definite bite to it. Absolutelyfantastic, and just perfect flavor. And, you definitely needed the mashed potatoes, because there was a lot of that delicious stew gravy to eat up.


It’s amazing what you can get when you state something with just the right amount of awe and appreciation. When the waitress (Thanks, name withheld, I know it but won’t incriminate her), asked me how I liked the stew, I told her it was fantastic. “I wonder,” I said, “what’s in the broth.” She said she’d ask the cook. “Bet he won’t tell you,” I replied, to which she responded that they have a book, and she’d see what she could find out. Just a few minutes later, she returned to my table. “I did something,” she said. “Well, they wouldn’t let me have the recipe, but I did copy down the list of ingredients.” Whereupon, she handed me a folded slip of paper. I have this folded piece of paper in my pocket, and, well, it would appear I may have some kitchen experimentation in my future, although I will have to tone it down quite a bit for the girls if I ever do figure the right proportions.


For dessert, I just couldn’t pass up a slice of peanut butter pie. Couldn’t do it. It, like everything else, was delicious. I am now stuffed, but very, very happy.


So. Yes. Definitely go to Fuel And Fuddle if you want a good meal and don’t mind a bit of noise.