horizontal computing

Picture of chair in a reclined positionFunctional as an Illusion

Lately I’ve in the back of my mind a project. I want to be able to access a computer from my bed. So what? You ask. Well, it’s not as simple as just getting a laptop and plugging it in. Seeing as how the only thing I can move in bed is my head it poses a problem. And I already have a few things I operate which are positioned so I can access them. (see Pic below)

I stumbled accross this article on Gizmodo titled ‘Computer Desk for Lazybones’ about a device from Japan. It’s not exactly the solution I’d go for, but it did give me some more food for my thoughts.

Input: I envisage one of two scenarios. Either I access the pc completely through a trackball and use an onscreen keyboard or try and get a small keyboard that has some pointing device built it – small trackball, pointer. In either case the input device would be on something that could be positioned in the correct position close enough to allow control with my mouthstick while laying down.

Picture of bed table

Screen: There’s a couple options here as well. I could have the output of the pc go to my TV on the wall at the end of the bed then I could choose between TV or PC screen. My current TV is only small…..maybe a good excuse for a big flat plasma on the wall in my bedroom….though don’t think I could justify the expense. The other alternative is a LCD screen mounted closer to me in bed. I did actually contemplate a touch-screen monitor and do away with need to use a pointing device. However I’m not sure if I’d have the range with my stick while laying down. Besides which it’d need to be a small screen and even then I don’t know if such a beast exists.

Position: Ideally I’d like the input device, and screen if applicable, to be on the end of an ‘arm’ that is fixed to the wall and can be puled down and positioned where I need it – like one of those lights or instrument trays in a Dentist surgery. Idea….maybe I could get one from an auction and modify it. I have the idea of building the arm out of pipe and use car steering rod ends as pivots (you can take the man out of being a mechanic but you can’t take the mechanic out of the man). With this setup the pc would be mounted elsewhere, possibly under the bed.

It’s all just a dream at present but I’m working towards it.

learndog vision

Long Audible Noise

My mate Mike Seyfang over at LearnDog has unveiled the first draft of what he terms the “Master Plan” for the developing media company whose goal will be to

“Help kids through recognition of their vocational skills”

In the document the aims of the venture are stated as:

  • Become the world’s most trusted broker of publishing services for kids
  • Lead a cultural revolution – ‘Publish or perish’ for kids

I’m all about tools – what better life tool for kids than to help them recognise their gifts and potential.

pda keyboard woes

Essentially Flat

I have blogged previously that I have a PDA and written elsewhere how it is a very handy tool that helps me manage my life and work with a disability.

Well lately I’ve been having problems after I came out one morning to find it had done a hard reset. I had data synced on my PC so it wasn’t too much of a drama. It went trough the auto-setup. I created a partnership on AS and resynced the data and I got the bluetooth to re-discover my PDA< ->headset bond (my PDA has a love-hate relationship with my headset, or vice-versa, but that’s another story. Suffice to say, if you have a O2 Xda II mini and a BT headset how about getting in touch so we can compare notes).

Anyway, all seemed fine and dandy again until I tried to use the onscreen keyboard. It had gone strange and there was no space bar or backspace key. Some of the keys had changed.

changed layout



I hunted everywhere for a place to change keyboard type. I posted some queries on forums dealing with these devices and did search after search to find any leads to the problem, all to no avail.

I’d given up temporarily on the issue and reverted to using the transcriber more. Then the other day I was waiting somewhere, for someone or something and was passing the time trying to see what was up with the PDA keyboard issue. And I stumbled on the problem, well the solution to the problem.

Turns out that the “Use gestures….” option was checked for the keyboard and this changes the layout of the keyboard! The option can be found on your PDA under “Start -> Settings -> Personal -> Input -> Keyboard“.

It basically uses stylus direction movements for backspace, space, shift and newline. Since gestures are used it removes these keys and rearranges the keyboard layout. How reasonable, how straight forward, how clever…..how on earth is one suppossed to know?!

Now, don’t go saying I should’ve read the manual. Or referred to the manual. I can find no reference to it in the manual. That, in part, is why I’m telling you about it. Hopefully if anyone else ever has the same problem and goes searching the net for a solution, they might find this. If there’s even a slight possibility that the problems I had could help someone else find a solution, then I can possibly redeem some sanity I lost through it….the thought keeps me going anyway!

occupational therapy

circular ramp1, 2, 3

Going back a few posts under the title upright drifters I wrote about a presentation involving my life-tools and other things I was preparing for an OT class.

Well that’s been and gone but there was a request for the powerpoint file, so I thought I’d put it up with a link from here.

Here’s the presentation file.

The presentation acts mostly as a guide to give direction for me on the day – a lot more is said than appears on the preso. So if anyone wants more details please contact me using one of my email addresses on my blog profile page or my personal web page. Or if you want to discuss something please leave a comment below.

I was actually heartened to see so many people who were genuinely interested in the profession they’re studying and some passion about inequity. I was impressed by some of the knowledge of current disability issues and in particular the discrepancies between the Australian Building Code (ABC) and the Australian Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and the work being done in that area. All in all it was great.

a change of style

coinsWe were brainwashed

Okay, I relent. I started out this blog thing not really knowing what I was doing and had formulated ‘styling rules’ in my head and tried to follow them for consistency. Such things as “tiny font”, “small pic in top right-corner”, “no caps, just punctuation”, “cryptic titles” were the unwritten rules running around in my head as I wrote the posts.

As I read more of others blogs I began to see some holes in my ‘rules’. I also tripped over my own rules, especially on the post I wrote with Dragon Naturally Speaking – seems it didn’t know my rules and went ahead capitalising things! Gee, who would’ve thought!

I decided the font really was too ‘tiny’ so allowed myself to go to ‘small’, which really looks too small still.

So I’ve decided to change my ‘rules’ (repeats silently to self – ‘change is good, change is good, change is good’). The thing that finally swung it was reading Darren’s post on 12 tips on writing content for your blog and the very top, number one tip was to use titles with keywords that tell what the post is about rather than a cryptic title. Pow! There goes the whole premise of the cryptic side to my blog.

Well, I’ve decided to change the titles themselves to be more relevant to what the actual post is about yet still maintain the cryptic bent by adding a sub-title to each post. Perhaps that way I can cater to me ‘creative’ whims whilst maintaining a blog that is easily readable and accessible.

long time passing


i’ve been involved in community all my life, we all have to some extent. i’ve particularly been involved in online community since being a part of developing and running of the common ground bulletin board in 1992. during that time i’ve seen a group of disparate people find new ways of connecting and communicating, with others, seen the community grow and flourish, and then dissipate – I hope not back to where they came from (disconnectedness) but into a different community, somewhere, somehow.

once upon a time communities were a geographic concept. they involved people with with the same interest, mostly the place they lived. with telecommunications connecting people, communities moved online. they were communities based on interest rather than communities of location. still, in the early days, of bulletin board services and low data rates, they were still geo-centric.

the new communities of the internet age are still communities based on interest but are becoming more geo-diverse, more virtual. and the focus is shifting from the medium (BBS, Internet, Portal) to the message (Interest, Knowledge, Education).

in the knowledge economy i guess this is good. i just can’t escape this feeling though that somehow in the rush the focus has shifted to the individual gathering things (knowledge), rather than going places to where people are (connecting). that somehow there’s been a fragmenting of community feel – of belonging.

once communities were communities of people. now all I hear of is communities of interest. where have all the people gone?

then again, perhaps I just haven’t found my neo-community.

the isthmus principle

a friend sent me some more information about that ingredient subway insist on leaving off their menu – beetroot.

in a column of ‘the peninsula’ magazine, titled ‘the truth about food’ –

Beta vulgaris: the common, vulgar beetroot, has been adopted by Australians as national food. People from other countries are always surprised to find the purpley-red stuff in our hamburgers, salads, and roasting in our Webers. One of the most versatile and healthy of vegetables, beetroots are packed with dietary fibre and folic acid and are a great source of antioxidants.”

again, we see it written that ‘other countries’ can’t understand that we’d want beetroot in our diets in Australia. well, hello! that’s exactly my point why we shouldn’t be told by ‘other countries’ what we like on our subs!

bring beetroot back!

show your support – sign my bring beetroot back guestbook.

upright drifters

house of cards

Just lately I have been preparing a presentation for a lecture I have to give to a class of occupational therapy students next week. As part of the presentation I have had someone taking photos of all the modifications and contraptions in and around my home I use to get by in my everyday life — I call them my life-tools.

My latest tool is a Sony RM-AV3100 learing remote control.

Over the years I have tried many multiple all in one type remote control devices with varying degrees of success. Some would do most functions but often missing out on one that just seemed to always be the one I really needed to work. Also the physical design of the remote controls often meant it was very hard to use them efficiently. Often their size was a problem – being too small – or the shape meant the control was not stable as I pressed the buttons.

Having recently added to my bevy of equipment a Sony surround sound digital AV amplifier the whole remote control business was in need of a rethink. A lot of the remote controls in the past had relied on codes or some voo-doo button pressing sequence to ‘hopefully’ ‘learn’ the code (more of a stab in dark ‘hope’ to fall-over the correct code than ‘learn’ in those cases). This time I definately needed something that I was absolutely positive would learn by training from another remote control. It also needed to operate between five and eight devices. The Sony seemed just the thing. Besides which it was large and flat – a fact that worked for me.

Just getting the right control is only half of the problem. The other half is finding a place to put it where I can use it and hopefully that people will not move it.

The positioning was proving a bit of a problem as I can only use my left hand to operate the control and the layout of my lounge room was not conducive to this. I had purchased some speaker stands a while ago which I had intended to use for the satellite speakers of my surround system but had since then decided to hang them on the wall. A mate was over and we were playing around with the speaker stand and seeing what we could do with this new remote control. With a modification which saw us cutting one of the stand pieces in half and Velcroing the control on top, we had a working solution.

The idea works like a treat only the Sony’s display screen does not lend itself to viewing at an angle. So I’ll need to experiment with some wedges under the control to better sewe the screen, but for now is passable. It’s a vast improvement on what I had and what is better it seems to be staying in its proper place without being moved around — sweet.

BTW: I wrote the majority of this blog entry by dictating with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. It took some editing as I haven’t used the program for so long and was practising using the USB desk microphone I have as part of my webcam. Saves getting a headset on – I hate being ‘tethered’. Works reasonably well given I didn’t train it further, and with training and a bit more use, now I know the mic. isn’t too bad, I’ll be able to save my ageing neck and teeth and maybe crank out these entries a bit easier.

i’ll gladly pay you tuesday

the age of the quality burger may soon pass

… such is the lament over at the sydney morning herald.

what’s going on? why should someone be contemplating such a dire prediction?

yes, it’s all about the ‘missing ingedient’beetroot

Kiriaki Orfanos sound a warning in the article that the absence of beetroot could cause the demise of a quality hamburger, just like i have been saying has happened already since subway took beetroot of their sub menus. and he should know that beetroot makes a good hamburger, he grew up selling them.

beetroot lovers unite!

don’t forget my campaign and be sure to sign the