Tag Archives: screen reader

There Seems to be No Sign of Inteligent Life Anywhere: on Mozilla and Morons

Do you remember the scene from Disney’s “Toy Story” in which Buzz, after an assessment of the environment in which he has apparently landed (AKA Andy’s room), concludes, “There seems to be no sign of intelligent life anywhere.”?
This about sums up my reaction to a recent attempt to troubleshoot a technical problem I was having with my web browser.

Several months ago, I encountered a problem with Firefox in which my menu and tool bars mysteriously decided to disappear. Needless to say, I was not amused, and the situation was compounded by the fact that, being unable to see the screen, I couldn’t determine what specifically had changed, because I was certain that I hadn’t, at least intentionally, altered any settings. (Every now and then, being blind has its drawbacks, but you just gotta keep livin’, as they say).

It transpired that somehow, my screen had been minimized, and my screen reader (the text-to-speech software that enables me to use the computer) will only function properly if Firefox is operating in full-screen mode. A friend provided me with the correct key command (which was F-11, because you were dying to know) for restoring the screen to normal, and my internet activities returned to their regularly-scheduled smoothness.

This time, not surprisingly given my slow but relentless march toward aging, the problem arose when I couldn’t remember the ridiculously simple, one-keystroke command that my dog could probably have performed with his dewclaw. No amount of searching (aka approximately fifteen minutes spent on Google followed by another 20 executing random key combinations to no avail) yielded a result, so I tossed my problem into the black hole of tech troubles that is Twitter. After only a few minutes, someone affiliated with Mozilla responded and attempted (operative word) to troubleshoot the issue.

I subsequently walked away with two life-altering lessons with which I will now edify you, dear readers, because unsolicited advice is part of the package you get for subscribing to my blog.
1: a communication platform that limits you to 140 characters per message does not lend itself well to online troubleshooting. Well, duh, you say. *that’s* your advice? Well, I did say it was free of charge, and you get what you pay for.
2: Every time I think the universe has hit its stupid quota, I am proven wrong, and yes, I count myself among the allotted number of idiots given leave to wander the planet unsupervised. But I am a child of Einstein compared with the single-celled organism I was unfortunate enough to encounter. After specifically explaining my problem and emphasizing that I was a visually-impaired screen-reader user, the individual on the other end of cyberspace, apparently at the end of his rope, sent me the following tweet: “Do you want your screen to look like this?” the tweet was accompanied by…wait for it… a screenshot. OK, Einstein. Let me explain this to you slowly, in monosyllabic words. I…am…blind. I…can’t…see…that. Comprende?

I did eventually resolve the issue, sans stupid techie, but I don’t remember precisely how I managed it, because that was the point in the story where my brain exploded.

To borrow a phrase from Bill Engvall, here’s your sign.

Question: Have you ever had a ridiculously trivial tech troubleshooting problem?