April 2009 Archives
April 30, 2009
This month has been amazing.Â Not only have more people been aware of Autism through the news and events, but my son's life has been significantly changed this month in my eyes.Â
First, the news.Â I have posted many times my assertion that Autism is caused by genetics, and that the genetic link will be established.Â Well, as of this week, the Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania, along with UCLA, Penn State, and a number of other institutions, reported two papers that has found one specific genetic marker that is common within autistic people, and another paper marking 13 other more rare genetic markers that are also strongly linked with Autism.Â I was previously aware of 10, but it seems that another 4 has been added to the mix.Â
It's great news, because now perhaps the Autism community can unify and become strong enough to get proper legislation through Congressional Committees.Â It also means that genetic therapies may be coming down the pipe sometime in the next few decades.Â
Also in the news, celebrities have been spreading their opinions regarding the causes of Autism, and how they feel the community could be best served.Â I'm glad they feel so strongly regarding the theories that have been thrown about by people with no medical or neuropsychological backgrounds.Â It's a great opportunity to learn and share, perhaps to get them on the side of Science and research instead of anecdotes and unproven therapies.Â
But now to the more important detail (for me at least):Â My son's progress.Â To date he has been reluctant to be verbal, preferring to communicate through looks and by independently working out a solution for himself.Â While I'm proud that his brain works so well in the problem-solving area, I would like him to start focusing on speaking.Â
Just last night, he was playing with some plastic golf balls.Â I wanted me to pull them out for him, so as I did I would hold one up and say "ball".Â I then made a song out of the one word while bouncing the ball in the air, to help him connect the word with the object.Â Within a few minutes, he said "ball", prompting excitement between my wife, my son, and me.Â
Later that night my son decided to undress himself.Â This usually means that his pull-up has been soiled, and he needed a change.Â But the pull-up was still clean and dry, so I took him to the bathroom and stood him in front of the toilet.Â It took a couple of tries, but he used the toilet, shut the lid (a little loudly, but I'll take what I can get), and flushed.Â I was so proud!Â He is in the process of being potty trained, and I think we may have him trained by the time he starts Kindergarten.Â
These are all really huge events in my son's life, both the scientific discoveries being made for Autism, and his progression to mainstreaming within society.Â He will always be apart from society at some level, and I'm fully embracing that fact.Â He will instead have a different way of approaching ideas and concepts.
So that is the news for the end of the month.Â I had hoped that some serious Autism legislation would have come from the US Congress, but it seems those bills are all still in Committee.Â It's disappointing, because with the growing need for real action in helping parents manage autism in their lives during this critical time, Congress hasn't acted soon enough.Â Well, there are more months in the year, let's see if anything does happen.Â
April 28, 2009
I've found myself wanting to find a decent blogging program out there that will allow me to manage the blogs that I currently have and write blog posts offline.Â It's helpful in that I am able to provide more review time to my blog posts while also having several pending.Â
There are quite a few offline editors for the Mac, though most are paid apps.Â Being the good Scot that I am, I like to find those services that are free.Â Hence, the reason why I am testing out this particular application.Â We will see how it goes.Â
- Presentations: Â As an educator I make a lot of presentations, and need a lightweight platform that will hook up to a projector easily with only one attachment that I need to carry around, and a way to cycle through the slides easily. Â I used my PowerBook for this very thing, because it was so small and lightweight. Â Currently, only a Netbook can offer me the same flexibility, and it's about the right price too. Â The thing is, I want to keep with my Apple platform if I can. Â Otherwise I will be switching to Linux on a Netbook, and I'm not too thrilled with clamshell designs. Â A tablet PC with a mini-DisplayPort and a dongle that will attach to a VGA or DVI cable to a projector would save a lot of time. Â And having it run iWork would be huge. Â ^_^Â
- PDF Reading: Â I love Stanza, which allows me to read the text of any PDF easily. Â But it doesn't include the images with those PDF's, which can be rather critical. Â There are several apps for the iPod Touch and iPhone that will let you read a PDF without any trouble, but with such a small screen I find my self straining my eyes to read the details, or have trouble keeping the blasted thing centered. Â A larger screen would do wonders (like a 10 inch diagonal display ^_^).Â
- Writing: Â I want a platform that will make it easy to write. Â Whether a blog post, tweet, document, book, or homework posts for students, a well designed platform here would be ideal. Â The best software I have found for writing books or projects of any size is Scrivener, and something like that on a mobile platform that I can use from anywhere would be ideal.Â Â
- Connectivity: Â If I want to be able to use this anywhere, I want to be able to have a connection anywhere that is decent, both in speed and in price. Â Currently the AT&T iPhone plan is too rich for my blood, hence the reason why I got an iPod Touch. Â But I would be quite happy with a product that used a 3G or 4G connection (like WiMax) that was portable and the rates were reasonable. Â After all, I would prefer to have a network connection over a cell phone, and use my device with VoIP for all phone calls. Â It's cheaper for me, and cheaper for my provider. Â Plus, I want to not be tethered to any one provider. Â Let me take it with me where ever I go to which ever provider offers the best service for the price.Â
- Â True VoIP: Â Currently the iPhone has VoIP apps for proprietary systems that are free, and several that are paid-for apps. Â It's ideal for the iPod Touch when you have a connection, though you can't always leave it on because of battery issues. Â For true VoIP to work, it will need to have a connection that is always on, and the VoIP app would need to run in the background while you work on one app or another. Â Â
- Battery Life: Â Because I want to have this device run on a low power mode, but allow apps like a VoIP app or other such apps to work without trouble, the device will need to have some killer battery life. Â It shouldn't be hard, because most of these apps are not high-power apps.Â
- File Storage and Transfer: Â Currently on the iPod Touch and iPhone, if you write a document in Notes or other app, it can't be moved to another location or off the app. Â There are a few exceptions, but I'm not sure I like those exceptions. Â I would like to be able to create a document on this device and then move it to another storage location (network, USB storage, even SD card would be fine). Â That would make working on the device ideal. Â Â
- Full Apps: Â I would like to have the option to either have full apps available, or make it easier to develop full apps for the device. Â The iPhone 3.0 SDK has gone a long way to that goal, and there is a possibility that a full-fledged app like Scrivenr, iWork, or even SecondLife/WOW would be made available for the device. Â That would be cool, but not a necessary thing.Â
- Bluetooth Keyboard: Â Give me a chance to have a real keyboard tethered to it, and be separate from the device. Â No cables to worry about, just a clean wireless connection. Â It would let me develop faster and write better than any touch screen keyboard, though having the touch screen keyboard as a backup would be just fine.Â Â
- Podcast On the Go: Â Let me make a podcast on the go, either video or audio. Â A built-in version of GarageBand with a video capture program built in would make this a very versatile tool while on the go. Â Add a video camera to it for iChat video conferencing and video capture would be a huge plus!Â
- Cloud Computing Ready: Â This would be sweet if it were possible, and it should be. Â For the device, you would just need to allow for apps to access the cloud easily, which means network connections would need to be reliable. Â the iPod Touch does this to a certain extent, but there has been some innovations that would be well served by a tablet format.Â Â
- XCode: Â It would be so sweet to have an XCode SDK available for the device for quick and dirty project development. Â It probably wouldn't happen, but it would still be a huge bonus!Â
- Provide an evaluation for the student, to determine what modules will be best to assist the student.Â
- Provide modules that are flexible and independent of each other, which parents can use. Â This includes instructions on how to teach, what to look for in success, and how to judge/evaluate success.
- Provide a central communication hub, either through phone, letters, email, or online forums, that will allow parents to share experiences in a confidential manner with those professionals, and get additional assistance or recommendations when needed. Â
- Continue the process at regular intervals, to be best evaluated by the professionals. Â
Video Game Programming I with Dark Basic (Age 13-17)
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April 27, 2009
- It's easy to misunderstand: Â Because we don't know what goes on in someone else's head, we try to fill in the blank. Â Often times, and it seems more often than not in our current society, we tend to fill in the worst possible scenario. Â So instead of giving someone else the benefit of the doubt, we tend to jump from our assumptions to rather rash conclusions. Â I did this to the discredit of the young mother with whom I should have been more understanding. Â
- Only you can take offense: Â It's interesting that we say "I was offended by that", and "I took offense at that" in English, when it's so true. Â Offense is one-sided. Â One can only take offense, whether or not the other body is intending the offense.Â I look at my own situation with this young mother, and I took offense at a perceived slight that was based on an action that was unexplained. Â It was not related in any way to the offense I took, and yet I was perfectly willing to do so. Â That is a huge failure on my part, and one that I have vowed to correct. Â
- Forgiveness is Divine: Â It's been said before, and it is so true. Â Offering forgiveness, and asking for it in return, is truly what separates mankind from the animals. Â To be too proud to offer an apology, or to be too proud to accept it, is perhaps one of the biggest failures in our modern civilization to date. Â No one likes to admit that they were wrong, but to assume you are right on every issue is folly in itself. Â Again, in this case, I was grateful that she was willing to apologize, and to accept my apology. Â But I have also looked back at other slights that I have taken offense to, whether real or imagined, and realized that it's my failure to both apologize and to accept apologies that has been the problem. Â It's something that I need to work on as well.Â
- No matter what you do, you can't hide your anger: Â This I learned, because even though this young mother didn't follow my blog at all and had no idea that I posted my assumption, she found it. Â It took a while to get to her through several others, but in the end she found it. Â Even though I didn't add any names, identify any classrooms, or anything like that, she was still able to find it. Â So no, you can't hide what you put on the Internet. Â In this case, I'm glad it was not hidden as now we have been able to mend some fences and I learned some great lessons.
April 24, 2009
- Autistic children need to have the steps broken down for them.
- Autistic children need to have both auditory and visual stimulation to keep their attention.
April 23, 2009
And that's it! Â SquirrelMail will now start using CRAM-MD5 as an authentication method for your webmail. Â You can now disable your less secure methods and feel comfortable that you have a least one more level of security to protect your user's email, and your user's directory login information.Other things you can do: Â
- Open your Terminal
- Type "sudo /usr/share/squirrelmail/config/conf.pl"
- Select the Server Settings (number 2)
- Select the Authentication Method (number 6)
- Allow it to check your system for available authentication methods (y)
- Type the desired authentication method (cram-md5)
- Save your configuration (S - and requires root access, which is why we sudoed the command to begin with).
- Quit (Q)
- Set up SSL for your webmail connection to protect the connection itself. Â
- Set up a realm to access to login page.
April 14, 2009
April 8, 2009
April 7, 2009
April 3, 2009
- Â Take the children away from the family and raise them by a team of specially trained teachers, therapists, and doctors that have the "magic powers" to do the job parents are not able to accomplish. Â This was the mentality in the 50's to the 70's, and led to a lot of very dysfunctional families and autistic children. Â It was also accompanied by electric shock therapy, physical restraints, and various other techniques that were popular during the Spanish Inquisition. Â
- Teach the parents what to do, and have them perform the therapy in a loving, safe environment. Â For those that don't have the option of spending all day with their child, provide the same training to the child's caregiver. Â
- Parents of autistic children generally have a vested interest in their success.
- Parents and care-givers can continue the techniques and training 24-7, or at least during all waking hours. Â ^_^
- A mobilized, well-trained workforce with a personal vested interest is like a well-oiled machine: Â it will just keep going with little maintenance. Â
- The cost of a single, small training facility for parents and care-givers is far smaller than building several autistic children's developmental centers, and require less staffing in general. Â
- Support and help can come from the community built around the classes and supplemental online portals. Â This also makes it convenient to deploy learning materials. Â
- Parents will have the ability and freedom to quickly adapt the training methods to fit their child's specific needs, without having to change methods for another autistic child in class. Â
- Parents are smart individuals, and giving them real concrete methods to help their children is better than setting them loose on the internet or be at the whims of any idiot celebrity that has more money than brains. Â Knowing what to do and how to do it will relieve the fear and anxiety that parents of autistic children experience. Â