Making oneself heard

Another day with little time behind the keyboard: my partner goes back to work tomorrow (remotely), so we made sure to have plenty of family fun in the garden. My daughter — 14 months now — may not have words yet, but she makes her wishes known: from the time she gets up until I'm singing her to sleep, she's asking to be picked up so she can point at everything around her. And if you don't make the noise she expects for, say, that painting of a ship, or, say, starting singing an In The Night Garden theme for the character she's picked out on her lampshade, prepare for an earful.

I did have some success today, however: my RSS feed seems to be displaying properly in Conky now. After a bit of research, it seemed likely that I was running up against Reddit's very low tolerance for bots; it was suggested that distinguishing the call with a user-agent string that included my username might help. For this, I switched back to my bash script — well, it's the one written by Bill Woodward that seems to have made the rounds — and modified it to take an optional user-agent string that it would then add to the curl command using the -A flag.

And I haven't seen “Too many requests” or a blank section since. wrote a nice little post on Dasher today. I hadn't heard of it before. I'm really impressed with what I've seen so far. It almost makes me wish I was back in my old job. (Well, not really; that was backbreaking. Maybe if I was working with the Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices.) It seems like a lifetime ago, but I did work for National Star as a facilitator for five years up until the beginning of this one. In a nutshell, you're there to help the students — who often have very complex disabilities — advance in their chosen college programme; everything is individually tailored.

One of the students I worked with a lot used an AAC device mounted to his wheelchair to communicate. Through the use of paddle switches in his headrest, he could select concepts and then words as the device cycled predictably through a grid of icons. Cognitively, he could converse with ease, with anyone. But he needed a lot of lead time, if he had questions he wanted to ask or statements he wanted to make. Constructing the sentences was very time consuming. He had to deal with some athetoid movements, but, usually, once he was comfortable in his chair, these were infrequent. I bet an eye-gaze device running Dasher would speed up his composition process tenfold, even accounting for some sort of error-checking process that would allow him to fix mistakes.

I'm going to see whether my former colleagues are aware of Dasher.

End of Day 34

jlj@Fosstodon #100DaysToOffload

I'm writing this as part of the 100 Days To Offload project; join us at: