Monday, June 30, 2008

Guitar hero for the blind

Wired has a great article on a professor at University of Nevada, Reno who has adapted an open source video game for the blind. The game is modeld on Guitar hero and requires the player to key in "chords" on the plastic guitar as they see them occur on the screen. The mod this professor has done, is to provide that stimulus through haptic feedback using a glove with vibrating fingers. Check out the video below for and interview and demonstration of this great mod or the video and article at Wired

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bizzare Thorazine Ad

Thorazine “for prompt control of the agitated, belligerent senile…”
- Thorazine Advertisement from 1957

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

why I love the net

Periodically I'm going to post about things I find on the net and find funny, fun, useful or interesting.

As a heavy computer user in a cube farm, I nearly always wear headphones to block out the noise of those around me. I love music, but am not in a position to be buying alot of music (and frankly there's not alot out there I want to buy.)

However, live music is a different story. I am a huge fan of live music, especially those artist who I love and who are no longer with us. There's no new albums, and no tours. There are also those classics who its great to hear in their prime.

Thankfully, there's plenty of free (and legal) streaming live music. Here's three of the best

  • which has an amazing live music archive (don't get overwhelmed by the opening page, have a browse around). Including 5,369 Grateful Dead Shows (with their own soundboard recordings and audience tapes). Besides the Dead, I'd recommend the Billy Bragg page, especially his show at the Gene Autry Museum where he plays the songs (music) he wrote to Woody Guthrie's lyrics. Great acoustic performance, and dialogue. You'll also see this site when I get into books.
  • A recent find of mine is Wolfgang's concert vault Wolfgang's vault is legendary promoter Bill Graham's own archive, full of music posters tickets and music. The posters and tickets are for sale, even if you're not buying they're worth a look at the 60's and 70's poster art and photography. But, they're also streaming music from great artists including Springsteen, Neil Young, Zappa, The Who and AC/DC to mention a few.
  • streams live clips of shows non-stop while also selling complete shows. While their studio stuff can be a bit hokey, their live stuff is amazing. For anyone who wondered what the whole deal with Phish was about, check out LivePhish.

I am so thankful to the artists who put their music out there to be enjoyed. I can see how this can only rejuvenate existing fans and create more because many of these artists best work is in front of an audience.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Changes proposed to CRCC Ethics and ADA

The Comission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification has announced proposed changes to the CRCC Code of Professional Ethics. The Propsed changes are open for public comment through October 2008.

Proposed changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act are now posted. Visit to view the changes and find out how to comment.
NY Times article with summary of the changes.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Great site for parents

I came across this site today, and got very excited. Now, we're not a house that lacks books, and we surely don't need to be looking for many more at this point.
However, you can never have too many. So, the question is how do decide? states that "Picture books are for reading" and that they "allow you to look at books in their entirety-from cover to cover."

What I love is that the books are large enough so you can see the illustrations as well as the text. The interface looks like a book and allows you to click on a page to turn it, and it gives the impression that you're turning the page. The example below is a shrunken version of what you'll see on the site. Of course you can also buy the book through various on line retailers. Who has the time to look through loads of books while coralling a 20 month old.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Outrageous Olympic material

An article in an English magazine reports that a brochure prepared for the Bejing Olympics "warned volunteers that disabled athletes were "unsocial" and "controlling", and "that people with disabilities had unique personalities and suffered from a strong sense of inferiority."

Apparently, the offending passages were edited from the English language version, but are still present in the Chinese version. According to the director of the Paralympic games, it was a translating error and refused to apologize.

Link to the current English version of the volunteer manual (offending passages missing). I guess we'll just have to take their word for it.

Text to speech (in MP3 format)

Techlearning blog has an article on a site that apparently uses text to speech software that allows you to upload a document and it will give it back to you in an audio file that you can download and put on an MP3 player or ipod. Documents can be in a variety of formats including Word, pdf or html. is a free site and can read English as well as Spanish and french (though you must choose the reader that is "fluent" in that language.) There are 15 computerized voices to choose from. The English voices include US English, UK English and Nina, "US Female/ Indian Accent". At first listen, the voices are amazingly clear, and have a greater variety than the straight speech to text software available. For a list of free versions of text to speech software, visit the MaineVRC site.

This site could be a great tool for users with learning disabilities, allowing them to convert materials to audio versions for use on the fly. Though available in some commercial products, the ability to convert text to audio files for download (or stream from the site) is boosted by the fact that its web based and FREE.

(In the interest of full disclosure, the article does reference the http:\\ site affiliated with this blog, though did not impact the opinions of this author. )