Review of a Couple iOS GPS Apps

I have been testing out both Nearby Explorer and Seeing Eye GPS for the past couple of days in Vehicle Mode, and here is my review of these apps. I am going to start with Nearby Explorer by American Printing House for the Blind. I have it set to use Apple s the Address Provider, and Google is the Search provider. The settings are pretty straight forward, but Nearby Explorer is not as customizable as I would like it to be. There are no options that I have found that let me change what information I want spoken at what speed such as POIs and Intersections. So, the information can get overwhelming at times with this app. I have used Nearby Explorer on a couple outings, and it could not find the LOuisiana Renaissance Festival when I searched for it from my house, which is less than 40 miles away. Nearby Explorer seems to only want to pull results up that are under 40 miles away, and the maximum search radius that can be set is 30 miles from what I can find. So, I did the return home trip,and it did reasonably well until in my neighborhood where it got lost and told me to go to the street past where my house is. I then did a trip to New Orleans, and Nearby Explorer did an okay job but not great because it kept having to reroute even though it should have been able to tell where I was better and give better directions. It did not even recognize when I arrived at Whole Foods, which was my destination. Coming home, the app failed miserably. It missed giving directions a couple times along the way back home, and the app crashed once. Then once in my neighborhood, it had the same problem as the other day with giving incorrect directions to my house.

Seeing Eye GPS is by Sendero, and I have used it a few times to compare it to Nearby Explorer. Swing Eye GPS has a wide variety of options that can be set, but the two things it does not have are the ability to change the TTS it uses nor the ability to change the speech rate. I used it on a trip into New Orleans to Ochsner, and Seeing Eye GPS did perfectly getting me there. The announcements were timed well, and they were clear on what to do. On the way back home, I had no issues either. I am using Google for POIs. Seeing Eye GPS had a bit of trouble when I used it to get to the LOuisiana Renaissance Festival because it got stuck on a previous direction it had given me, but once I had refreshed it, I had no problems. It is able to send your destination to Uber, which is a great feature, and it is also able to be launched from Blind Square, which is a really nice feature about Seeing Eye GPS. I am wondering if Seeing Eye GPS somehow got messed up since I did send the Louisiana Renaissance Festival to it from Blind Square, and who knows where the point for the Louisiana Renaissance Festival was placed especially if it was a user imputed place on Blind Square.

Overall, both Nearby Explorer and Seeing Eye GPS are both great apps, but given my test results, Seeing Eye GPS is a better app. It has more options, it gives better directions, and it gives the correct directions almost every time. The only real downside to Seeing Eye GPS is that the maps are not onboard maps, but even with that said, the app works great, and I can highly recommend Seeing Eye GPS to anyone looking for a great iOS GPS app.

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New Harness Review

I have been having problems with Belto’s harness for the past few months and decided that it would be good to have a second harness just in case something happened to the one I usually would use.  So, while at the NFB Convention in Orlando I stopped by the On The Go table in the Exhibit Hall.  On the Go’s website is http://www.guide-and-service-dogs.com/  This particular harness is made of nylon and metal with a very comfortable handle.  The harness handle is detachable by way of two buckles, and it is a martingale style harness which means there is a strap that you have to run the belly strap through before clipping the belly strap to the buckle on the right side of the harness. It is a rigid harness, and because of this, I am able to feel every little thing Belto does. For the short time I have had this harness from On The Go, I have found that it fits well on Belto, and it really does let me feel exactly what he is doing even when his pull becomes very light. The harness from Leader Dogs is nice but is not as nice because when he ceases to pull hard enough, I have to put some back pressure on the harness to keep things working properly and to keep the harness from getting stuck in the pushed in position. Therefore, the harness from On The Go is the harness I now use everyday, and the Leader Dog harness is being saved for special occasions since leather looks nicer and would fit in better at some place fancy. I will be posting an update after a few months of using the Sport Style Harness with my updated thoughts about it.

Belto is getting to be too smart for his own good.

I went out to Bruisers for lunch and to hopefully train watch although the past three attempts have yielded no trains.  We left Bruisers and headed over to Starbucks, and Belto nailed everything perfectly.  Today has was quite on top of things because when I arrived at Starbucks, he headed straight for the table I usually sit at instead of heading for the door.  After telling him he was a good boy, we turned around and headed to the door.  It would appear to me that they have rearranged a little bit because getting the counter was easier than it had been the past few times, and I had to direct Belto around a couple of tables and up to where I picked up my drink.

Scenic Route Anyone?

I had just taken Belto out to relieve him after feeding him dinner, and after he did his business, things became interesting.  Belto blew right past the dumpster I was shooting for, and I am pretty sure the dumpster we found was not the one I was wanting to find at this point.  When I had turned around to head back to the sidewalk, I realized that we were way off from where I thought we were.  So, I turned around again, and Belto and I began heading back the other direction.  Of course, I did not have my phone on me, so calling Lacy to come find me was out of the question.  So, Belto and I wandered a little bit until we found ourselves by the laundry room.  Belto clearly knew where he was at that point ,and so did I.  We did a 180 and made tracks back to Lacy’s apartment without a problem from there.  Not one of Belto’s best nights focus wise, but he did well once we made it to somewhere where he knew he was.

Computer Playing Possum

I had fired up my HP this morning knowing that there are quite a bit of things to get done today including uploading a YouTube video and recording another one.  I then went back to bed once Belto finished his breakfast to let the migraine meds finish wearing off, but little did I know that things were not going to go as I had planned.

I hopped out of bed around 1:30 this afternoon, and after taking care of Belto, I went to my computer to get ready to start getting things done.  First task was to launch Outlook and read a blog post one of my friends posted, but I discovered that I was getting no speech from my computer.  After trying to get System Access to restart and still hearing nothing, I attempted to restart the computer.  This led to a discovery that the computer was completely dead.  So after I had checked all the connections to make sure that everything was plugged in correctly, I tried to fire up the computer again.  No dice.  So, I then looked closer at the power adapter and to my dismay, I had to come to the conclusion that it had died because the converter was not even the slightest bit warm, which it would usually be if it is working.  Once the replacement arrives, hopefully, I can get back to some of the things that I cannot do otherwise. 

This was stunning

September was the only dog I have had who really did well doing routes without much input from me at all.  It usually took a couple times doing the routes for her to figure it out the routes and get to that point, but she could do that pretty well.  I never thought I would ever see a dog do it as well as September, but oh boy was I given a surprise while in Daytona Beach in September.  My girlfriend and I went out to eat and then to Family Dollar.  After leaving Family Dollar and getting across the street that confused Belto, what do you think happened?  Belto did the entire route back to my girlfriend’s apartment without any input from me.  This was the first time doing the route for him, and from everything I know and am told, it usually takes several times doing a route for this to happen.  I knew Belto would be able to do this, but that quickly?  I did not expect that at all, and it is nice to be quite honest to be able to pretty much start walking and know that the dog is able to get to places with little or no input from me.  I certainly did not expect Belto to be able to do this as well so quickly in the eight months I have had him.

A Train Strikes Again

Belto is a bit unpredictable at times as demonstrated today.  We were heading up Front St. To the Starbucks and along comes a Southbound train.  Belto, that silly dog of mine, really did not pay too much attention to it until it was past us.  The train blew its horn quite a bit a ways from us, and Belto decided to get completely distracted by it.  Fortunately, most of the streets we cross are usually pretty quiet most of the time.  I say this is very strange behavior for this dog, but as I am discovering, he does do some strange and unpredictable things.