Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Project Valour-IT

I know when I was last hospitalized in the VA in Palo Alto, CA, it was difficult to stay connected for work and email; but that was nearly five years ago. Then, there were no networks available for patients, even if like me, we had our own laptop in tow. I spoke to a few people in the IT department there, but after making no progress, left them with the wish that next time I needed to stay I'd be able to connect.

When I was in Palo Alto last week for an appointment, I whipped out my laptop while waiting and to my surprise there was a wireless network I could join. I've wanted for years to help lead an effort to put computers in the hands of veterans in order to facilitate; patient learning; greater collaboration with an individual's health care team; communication with friends, family, and the outside world; and for building awareness about the power of computers and the Interned and the possibilities for vocations involving information technology.

Today, I read about Project Valour-IT. "In just over four years, [this project] has given 4,100 voice-controlled laptops to severely wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, and has supplied additional items that may be a surprising fit in a recovery regimen -- Wii game systems and handheld GPS devices."
Established in 2003, Soldiers' Angels is a volunteer-based 501(c)(3) non-profit providing aid and comfort to members of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, as well as veterans and military families. For more information, see www.soldiersangels.org or call 623-570-3903.

Read more in the full article.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Google Voice—An Audio Care Package

When service members deploy, they primarily put life on hold. Stationed in a different part of the world, their family, friends, and colleagues keep moving. It's typically just not practical for those stateside to receive a phone call at say, 2 a.m., and calling Iraq or Afghanistan is seldom an option. Here’s a solution that Google is offering active duty service members. From the Official Google Blog:
For servicemen and women who are constantly on the move, having a single number and an easy way to retrieve messages from loved ones can be invaluable. To help our service members communicate with their loved ones and show our support to those serving our country, Google is launching a new program. Starting today [8/4/09], any active U.S. service member with a .mil email address can sign up for a Google Voice account at www.google.com/militaryinvite and start using the free service within a day.

Google Voice is coming soon for all of us—to learn more about it, visit: http://www.google.com/googlevoice/about.html. And, if you know a family member of a friend on active duty—share the good news.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Map the Fallen

A few weeks ago I wrote about a new initiative of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation that utilized a map to put a face on those affected by spinal cord injuries. This past week at a gathering of veteran entrepreneurs I was privileged to see a preview of another map apropos for launch on Memorial Day. Sean Askay, an engineer at Google, pursued this project on his own time. Sean writes,
This Memorial Day I would like to share with you a personal project of mine that uses Google Earth to honor the more than 5,700 American and Coalition servicemen and women that have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have created a map for Google Earth that will connect you with each of their stories—you can see photos, learn about how they died, visit memorial websites with comments from friends and families, and explore the places they called home and where they died.
Check it out! http://www.mapthefallen.org/
I too salute those fallen brothers and sisters that have paid the ultimate price.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

iPhone Paper Clip Stand

I recently wrote a post and article about my fondness for the Apple iPhone 3G. Last fall while traveling to the Northwest, I watched videos on my iPhone to pass time as a passenger driving each 5-hour leg of our journey. It was fantastic except that I struggled to find an acceptable viewing angle for the phone on a tray in my lap. My inventive mind had me designing; my resourceful instinct led to searching the Internet first; and to my surprise I found this:

I'll definitely give it a try; thank you Dean! Read his full post.
Get the template (in PDF) at Dean's website.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

But yourself on the map

I've been pretty jazzed lately, as after writing a column in PN Magazine for nearly 2 years now and keeping this blog for about half that time, I'm starting to have more readers interacting and writing with questions and comments. Today I received an e-mail from someone promoting the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. The premise of the message was that in order to achieve Chris's dreams, we (those living with a spinal cord injury or those that care about them) need to increase awareness about paralysis and its effects on our fellow citizens. His letter said that more eloquent than me:
In light of startling new estimates regarding the number of people living with paralysis, the Reeve Foundation wants to use online technologies to put faces to the statistics. That's why we created the Paralysis Community Map. Our goal is to have one million people put themselves on this online map to illustrate the strength of the paralysis community.
So, here's a word of encouragement. STOP what you're doing. Click on the link above. You put yourself on the map.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

There is Hope that Things will Get Better

Education is a focus in this column and blog. Following my Google alerts today, I read a hopeful article that indicates things could get better for the disabled because of a new generation of concerned students. Specifically, the article states,
the fact of the matter is that the human dimension thrives at a new breed of universities, which are now serving up state-of-the-art, adaptive technology courses for civically engaged engineering students who want to make the world a better place for the disabled.
Read the entire article.

And here's the evidence. Last weekend I watched this 60-Minutes segment and marveled at the Pentagon's effort to produce a bionic arm.

Watch CBS Videos Online

How ironic that the iBot (I use one) is now off the market because insurance companies and policymakers wouldn't pay for it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Coraline and VFX Magic

Did you see Coraline yet? I wrote about it a few weeks ago when it was first out. Well, so often I'm touting the idea of technology work as a profession. If you're a creative type and developed the skills needed, what about working on a movie like a member of my family did? Adam was, "...hired by LAKIA ENTERTAINMENT to work on the VFX team responsible for removing the puppets' face seams throughout every frame of the movie." If you'd like to see how some of the magic happened, checkout this example of his work.

Adam C Sager's Coraline VFX REEL from Adam C Sager on Vimeo.

More about Adam at: http://sagerdigital.com

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Where to get the iPhone and Accessories

My latest article for the Computer Corner in Paraplegia News just appeared this month and today I received an e-mail from a reader asking where he could get the iPhone and accessories I wrote about. Well, if you're interested also, I thought I would just put links here for you. Please know that the iPhone is only available from AT&T wireless or directly from Apple. I'm providing you a link to AT&T wireless, but if you have an Apple store near you you can drop in and test it out before you purchase.

So, here's the phone that I purchased, the Apple iPhone 3G - 16 GB - Black.

The case I recommend is the BELLA Protective Leather Case for iPhone 3G by Macally (Color: Black). It features a scratch resistant protective screen overlay; Nappa leather front panel; neck lanyard; lightweight aluminum carabiner; microsuede interior; camera opening; high density, soft and durable back panel; and opening to all controls and parts.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

IT Training for Veterans

If you're a reader of my column, Computer Corner in PN Magazine, or regularly read this blog, you know my background is education and that I often encourage individuals to learn more--that is learn all you can! Well today I came across an opportunity for both U.S. veterans and persons living with a disability, the CompTIA Educational Foundation.
The Educational Foundation’s Creating Futures program provides students, IT workers, employers, training providers and educational institutions with the necessary components to build a qualified and diverse workforce. Through the program, transitioning U.S. veterans, individuals with disabilities, youth-at-risk and dislocated workers are given opportunities to build life long, productive and rewarding careers in IT.
Check out their offerings and if you apply and complete a course, leave a comment here for other readers.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Nifty New Tool--Google Latitude

Hansel and Gretel gathered white pebbles to leave a trail so they'd find their way home; it didn't work out the way they wanted. As a person dependent on technologies to get around, there have been times I've been stuck (a dead car battery, flat tire, or bent front-fork) with no means of getting help right away. Google Latitude is a new tool that might provide an extra layer of security for persons like me when stranded.

Here's how it can work:
  1. I go to town (via wheelchair) and am expected home at 3 p.m.
  2. Making my way home, I unexpectedly hit a sharp object and blow a tire--the jolt has my cellphone fly off my lap.
  3. Not home on time, a family member (Brad) calls about 3:10 p.m.--I don't answer because I can't reach my phone.
  4. Smartly, I've installed Google Latitude on my cellphone and allow him to see my location. At 3:20 p.m., more concerned as time elapses, Brad tracks my location via Latitude and sees that I'm nearly home but haven't moved in awhile.
  5. Brad comes to my rescue.

With Google Latitude, you can:

  • See where your friends are and what they are up to
  • Quickly contact them with SMS, IM, or a phone call
  • Control what your location is and who gets to see it

Enjoy Google Latitude on your phone, PC, or both.

Postscript: I haven't tested this as Google Latitude isn't ready for the iPhone just yet. I'll be sure to let you know when it is.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Good, Bad, and Disappointing News

As some of you readers know, I use an iBOT 4000 to navigate daily live. The iBOT is the predecessor of the Segway Personal Transporter (PT); I've been following the PT for use by disabled veterans on this blog for years. The "good" news is that my iBOT and the PT are tools that free humans living with a disability to be and do more in their daily lives. The "bad" news is that disabled persons find themselves having to fight to aquire and use these transformational devices. The "disappointing" news is that, "Independence Technology L.L.C. is no longer selling and marketing the iBOT® Mobility System." After 2013 I won't even be able to repair my iBOT (Pictured: There I am with my sister Karen and her friend Geri with horse).

More "good" news is that when people work together they can move mountains. Disability Rights Advocates for Technology (DRAFT) provides "advocacy and education services as an advocate for the adoption of Universally Designed Technology Solutions." The organization has been able to help on a number of fronts through its advocacy and their "Segs4Vets" program, which has awarded more than 250 Segways to veterans and active duty members of the United States military through 2008. If you're a veteran that would benefit...check them out.

iBOT owners; unite!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Coraline the Movie

I've been absent awhile; working too hard I guess. Well today I am heading to the movies to see Coraline. Now what does this have to do with technology you ask, well a family member worked on the project in a technology related role. Congratulations Adam Sager, I'll look for your name in the credits.

So, if you need a distraction from the bad news or a break too, go see the movie. Oh, and by the way, the Coraline website is fantastic! You too can "button" your eyes. Have fun ;)