SeroTalk Podcast 221: The Good, The Bad, the Future

Listen to SeroTalk Podcast 221: The Good, The Bad, the Future.

Serotek does not simply serve the community; it is very much a part of it. For fourteen years we have faithfully met you where you needed us, so in that spirit of fair exchange, we invite you to listen to a special edition of the SeroTalk Podcast for a candid conversation between Joe Orozco and Serotek’s co-founder, Mike Calvo, to cover everything from the Serotek product line, SPN, staff departures, and more.

Feel free to send your feedback on this show to resources@serotalk.com

You can always find the latest on this show and others on the SeroTalk Podcast Network

using iBlink Radio for your iOS device, the Kindle Fire, the Mac or your Android device. You can even leave us an iReport right from the iBlink app.

Thanks for listening!

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16 Responses to SeroTalk Podcast 221: The Good, The Bad, the Future

  1. Matt says:

    Well, finished finish listening to the podcast. I have to totally agree with Mike so far! A business is a business and it has cost and overhead to it! You have to do what it takes to keep the business going if it is possible. If the people want what the business is offering then it will survive ! In this case it will be Serotek . I don’t know if I would pay 20 bucks a month for all the services or not! It depends on what they are going to offer. But if it has enough to offer me then yes I have no problem with that amount! I also totally agree with him on giving professional support for other products! If you want them to support you on other products that is not theirs then you should pay for that support or find another way! It is your choice. Now the podcast was my favorite part of the whole thing. Would I be willing to pay for the podcast ? Me myself no! I will miss it but I sure there will be someone else that will pick it up. It is ashamed that these companies was not willing to pay for the coverage! I think it will be a big lost to them. But it is what it is. Life goes on! We will have to just wait to see what Serotek future is going to be or shape up like! Wish them all the luck in the world! JMO !I also totally agree with Mike on the KNFB Reader as wel. I have it and love it. It was worth every penny! JMO !

  2. tina says:

    I’m in support of your vision Mike CAlvo and hope there is much success and look forward to new things. You asked what we want to see moving forward and that would be the socializer piece on the mobile side as well as the pc side and to be able to check email through iblink radio too. I also hope Docuscan has a long life ahead of it since I don;t know of another OCR product that does what this does for this very affordable price, so, I understand if you don’t reinvent the wheel, but hope it';ll still continue on other platforms. Great podcast and great success for the future

  3. Lisa Hudson says:

    I have been a Serotek customer for 8 years, and will continue to be as long as Serotek remains a viable company and as long as they continue to develop it’s products and services. I was here before SPN. While I loved the Serotalk podcast and Tripple Click and others, I enjoyed SamNet and SA before I ever heard an SPN podcast. Yes, I think I would pay for premium content if I felt there was a need for me to do so because if the content is as well put together as it was, I would gladly support it in anyway I can. Derrick and Patrick do such a terrific job, as did the hosts of those awesome podcasts I loved and enjoyed so much.
    I would also gladly pay $20 a month as i do now to continue to use products that enhance my life as Serotek products do. Even if things change, and they are going to by the sounds of it, i need to get with the 21st century and change with it even if change scares me or makes me cringe. We have to change if we want things in the world to change, or if we want to enjoy using mainstream products which come built with universal design.
    So, I am here, and am ready for whatever may come. And, even if Serotek has to close it’s doors someday, I will continue to follow Mike Calvo’s Twitter to see where he’s going, because there are not enough people who have his drive and determination or have the kinds of visions he has. I know there are other entrepreneurs and visionaries out there in the blindness community, and i hope they will stand up and make a difference in the way that I personally feel Mike Calvo has. I hope to someday be one of those people.
    So, I will go into the future of Serotek as long as I can, and will try to do whatever I can to continue to support it and companies like it for as long as I am a consumer.

  4. Daniel says:

    I appreciate the candid thoughts on Serotek and SPn. I am deeply saddened that for now at least, That Android Show is gone and I really hope it will be back if possible. a business is a business though, but this restructuring of the company is a phenomenal change that we, as blind people,, have to learn to accept, this is reality. I miss the demos of Android that were done on that android show, and it is definitely missed by me. guess the new, inclusive android site and the eyes free list their on Google groups are the only android/talkback recourses? another thing is well SAMNET. I was going to buy it but wonder if it is still going to be a [product in it’s current form or is it going to be through iblink radio? and well if the described video program and other features… is each part of SAMNET going to be a separate product?

  5. tina says:

    I agree with Lisa and would pay more for my monthly subscription and probably for podcasts too. I this the 22$ package is so worth it to have scanning anywhere included. you will not find that anywhere else. i look for ward to knfb reader coming to android but in the mean time am prepared to use dsp on the go and everything else serotek offers. you just won’t find these products at such reasonable prices anywhere else and in one place like this and, to the tech support and training, yes! absolutely if you come to serotek expecting training then expect toh hpay fr it. it’s not a training company and there are plenty of other ways to learn so i have no problem with paying for support expecially in cases of training as is what it sounds like most calls are . and. well said shame. shame! on the other big players in AT for not stepping up and helping serotek. after hearing that, i may reconsider working with them in the future we should be helping each other here not just taking and not giving.

  6. Sky Mundell says:

    I have listened to the podcast, and I totally agree with what Mike Calvo says. when you have a business, you have to make hard disisions, and you have to be able to erm money to make a living. I just subscribed to the accessibility anywhere package, and I am enjoying it so much! I got the yearly subscription to the package, and I hope to be a subscriber for many years to come! I am also glad to hear that iBlink radio will be included on windows and that they will be rebranding it so it becomes the premere package, and that serotek is doing everything to make their products on whatever platform their is. I have iBlink radio on my IOS device and I am just blown away. I am also on sam net every day, marvleing at all the great content that is on there. Keep up the great work, and I hope you continue long into the future!

  7. Joe Orozco says:

    @ Matt: I think Serotek’s evolution just might persuade you to try out some of its products. But, even if you only ever remain a listener, the plan has always been to keep SPN the high quality service it’s always been well-known for. Stay tuned for future show releases!

    @ Lisa: Ditto everything you said. We need more Mike Calvos in the world. They don’t all have to be blunt loud mouths like my boss. :) We just need creative thinkers with the drive to follow through. :)

    @ Daniel: Everyone recognizes the important role Android plays in the lives of blind consumers. Though That Android Show did not make the current cut, we have no reason to believe Android coverage has completely ceased or that in due course, after we’ve gone through this restructuring, a variant of that show won’t return to the roster. Remember, your feedback is what drives the formats. As for SAMNet, I myself have no clear idea of what it will look like in the rebranded product, but note that rebranding is primarily a marketing tool to better spotlight new features and is usually not an overhaul of the features of SAMNet subscribers currently enjoy. Stay tuned for more news.

    @ Sky: Your vote of confidence is very much appreciated. If the people want the innovative products, Mike tends to deliver. But, we need people to invest in the products and services. One of the things that stood out for me in this interview is Mike’s open acknowledgement of the value of K-NFB Reader app. Why replicate what others have already done well? That opens the doors for Serotek to pursue other voids in our access to basic tasks others take for granted.

  8. Beth says:

    Hi, I enjoyed and benefited from the podcast. I want to linger on the universal design idea in this post. As stated on another recent podcast, with Apple, accessibility bugs are now lumped together with everyone else’s. While it is true that Apple is fixing accessibility bugs along with others and, as I understand it, in a more timely manner than was done before, I am a little uncomfortable with universal design. Here is why: If, to use a fictional example, the iPhone screen was really misbehaving badly, I’m sure it would be fixed right away, as this is the mode of interaction used by sighted people. If VoiceOver had very serious issues, would that be fixed as quickly? Maybe, maybe not. We are a niche market and VoiceOver is a part of that niche. Would VoiceOver be seen as being essential if it broke, as would the screen, in my fictional example? If Samnet, Window-Eyes or JAWS, to name 3 examples, were to have problems, experts would be right on it, as quickly as humanly possible, since screen readers are the responsibilities of the assistive tech industry. I fear that universal design, though sounding great, really short changes us and, in the future, it may even set us back. Your comments would be appreciated and I would like to hear what Mike Calvo has to say on the matter. Beth

  9. Mike Calvo says:

    Hello Beth:
    I agree with you that part of the problem with lumping in accessibility features with mainstream ones is that they will not get fixed as fast as if we were using specialized software such as that provided by Serotek and others. The only thing I can say is that the additional costs for third party software isn’t worth the possible challenges I might experience if my accessibility features were kinda broken but still free as a part of the OS. Now, I understand that everyone is different but, enough people are feeling like I do to the point of effecting all of the AT companies income. Also, while Serotek provides lower cost AT tools the free AT included on IOS, Android, and Mac have certainly opened many computer access opportunities to people in developing countries. I think that is just fantastic!
    Thanks for your comments.

  10. Jake says:

    I agree with everything that’s been said here. I thoroughly enjoyed SPN, and look forward to the future whatever it may be. I have iBlink Radio on my MacBook, and it is a fantastic piece of software. Here’s hoping I can become a paying member of SAMNet again, but my financial situation is a bit difficult. @Mike, thanks so much for being so open and honest about everything. I’m wondering if EOL will continue, but if not there’s still so much excellent content here. I think one thing I haven’t done but need to do, is go back and listen to past episodes of Triple Click Home and get their perspective on all things Apple. I for one, really like the company thus far. I only wish other companies would follow their lead and make accessibility a truly universal thing. Happy holidays to all!

  11. Rodney Neely says:

    I support Mike Calvo’s vision for Serotek. I also support the business decisions that he has had to make even though some of these decisions must have been quite difficult for him.
    I also agree with his decision about his screen reading program. NVDA wasn’t available when the SA Mobile screen reader was first introduced.
    I will end this post by hoping that everyone who reads this post will make a positive impact on our community during 2015. In closing, I would like to express my gratitude for Serotek and its staff. All of you have made a meaningful contribution to the lives of many blind and visually impaired people.

  12. Matt says:

    Well, on the universal access: To start with we are a long very long way from universal access on anything! Yes there is up and down side to Universal access. The up side is that everyone will have user friendly access to everything no matter what your disability/handicap is! The down side is if something is wrong then you have to wait to get it fixed along with everyone else ! ;I will say Apple has come a long way in trying to implement universal access from their side! But even they have a long way to go. Also this is why I don’t think A T products will ever go away. There is a lot of us that want this specialize attention! I personally don’t see nothing wrong with it. We all are different and have different needs and different wants. As long as there is a demand for A T products they will be made and sold. This is the way that business works. If there is a need and demand for something then there will be a business that will meet that demand. If there is not a demand for it then it will go away. In my opinion we are a long very long way from universal access ! I not just talking about computers and gadgets and cell phones. I am talking about everything from TV, DVD players, to DVD recorders, to All type of appliances for the home to Even vehicle to Machinery for all kind of task like farming to lawn care and the list goes on. This kind of Universal access is at least 100 years off or more. I have big hope for it just not in my life time or even children being born this moment. There is a huge amount of work yet to be done in this area! JMO !

  13. Trenton Matthews says:

    As I write this message from my Acer Chromebok 11, may the “Sunlight” continue to shine above over at Serotek, and that one day, Eyeblink Radio comes to Chrome OS as a native app. Or at least, more coverage on Chrome OS itself from Mike’s or another Serotek staff’s point of view, which I enjoyed happily back in the day.
    I hope to make a podcast series on the Chrome family of products themselves, at the beginning of next year or so.

  14. Tim says:

    Hello, I have triedSAMnet a couple of times and intended to buy but never got around to it. Now that I better understand what is going on with the company, I feel much better about paying $20 a month than spending over $400 to own everything outright as I was intending to do as a Christmas gift to myself. I would agree with those who feel there was too much casual banter on the podcasts and not enough news, information or informed practical advice from people with more time than I have to experiment with their technology who are kind enough to pass along their knowledge for free.

    I thoroughly and whole heartedly agree with Mike. As one who works in the area of business development providing government support for Information and Communication technology companies trying to commercialize new technologies, I understand that ultimately, the product has to pay its own way and then some for the business to survive.

    Those who are angry about the choices Mike is making in order to, for the time being at least, keep his company sustainable, shouldn’t be angry with him.

    WE should all know, and understand after years, years and years, that the real issue is that as consumers, many of us lack the economic resources to fully participate socially as well as economically in society.

    We shouldn’t be allowing ourselves to be drawn into forming camps where on one side of the issue we have people who believe that products and services should be made available at little or no cost because most in our community cannot afford to pay; while on the other, we have those who must demand fair compensation for their time and expertise because, in the mainstream world they would have every right to do that and nobody would ever question them for it.

    The fact is people, that even with technological advances whether they be the result of assistive technology or universal design, levels of unemployment within the vision impaired community are much higher than is the case with the disabled population as a whole and this has been the case for a very long time.

    Mike has been taking a very big chance over the last 14 years because I’m sure he knows full well that for every paying customer he has, there are at least 10 who can’t pay as opposed to won’t pay. This for me is the problem.

    AS Mike said on the podcast, we can’t have it both ways. We can’t demand or expect equal treatment one day and charity the next depending on the nature of our current circumstances

    I wish I had an answer or a quick fix for what I see as a very chronic problem but sadly, I don’t. That said, I think over time, we have to learn to accept a world in which we should expect to pay for what we want and/or need because at the end of the day, if products and services aren’t available because they don’t exist, that’s worse than a lack of access due to the financial resources needed to procure them not being available.

    In the latter scenario, it seems to me there will always be the possibility that while a particular product or service may not be available now, it could become so one day. If an entrepreneur can’t invision a market for his/her idea, it will never become commercialized so nobody will ever be able to buy it no matter how much money they have.

    Blind people need to start getting their heads around some of these concepts.

    There’s my 2 cents.

    Tim

  15. Peter dodge says:

    I appreciated Mike Calvo’s clear and honest explanation of the changes. I will miss the podcasts and coverage of the conferences….but to be honest I had not been a financial supporter of Serotek. I was sitting on the fence, still am, but I did but stuff I heard about on spn, including from AT Guys, Hims and Humanware….only one of whivh sponsored spn.
    iBlink radio is great and I hope to start getting the samnet stuff soon.

  16. Sky Mundell says:

    Hello guys. as for the angry issue some people are having about serotek, and what is happening, I think what some people are upset with as well is that organizations for the blind, such as government agencies has not embraced System Access, or samnet, or Window-Eyes, or nvda, prefering to stick with JAWS and only JAWS. for example in Victoria, we only have a few system access users, but the majority use JAWS because its what they were introduced to and they weren’t told of their other screen reading products. Has Serotek ever found a way to market their products to agencies for the blind? we are starting up a training center for the blind in Victoria which will be very simmular to the 9 month training centers that are in the states ran by the nfb. the training center is called Pacific training center for the blind. One of the things that I am doing there is, providing asessments to new clients who have a computer but can’t afford a screen reading program, and I make sure that they are informed as to what is out there, instead of peddleing one single single product.

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