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Disability Assisting Software

PostPosted: August 04, 2015, 01:13:28 PM
by TaoPhoenix
Okay, time to get a nice thread going on an area I've quietly worked at for years. In the rough spirit of loosening the boundaries of what fiction can cover, a big missing area is mental disabilities. I have ADD, Autism, and a growing touch of OCD. Parts of all that intersected other things and crashed me the last couple of years.

First up is a small caveat - I am going to promote the site (about to get a new look soon though FYI!)

I am just a member there, with no particular conflict of interest. It's just the only other site I know that's on a par with Aphelion with friendliness!

Main site


IRC Chat (moderately active) ... ction=chat

They just finished their fundraiser, and the lead developer Mouser is just about to roll out a big backbone upgrade (that happens to have a new look) because his old code began to creak at the seams and become unwieldy.

They have tons of nifty little programs that do niche things, and that's why they are incredible - the "big developers" "don't have time" to do something with a user base of only a hundred users!

But their *killer feature* is that they have volunteers who can whip up personalized ultra-niche custom little apps to do basically anything! It's called "Coding Snacks". So if you're grumpy because you're wasting time doing X over and over, and you *know* it's gotta be (hopefully!) easy for a comp to do, ... ask them! Chances are, it *is* easy ... and they can drill out in a couple of days. Then you can add a couple of features. Sure, ya gotta watch scope creep a little, but broadly, "the world" (and they *do* have an international base!) wastes thousands of hours doing "stuff" that (piece by piece) little programs can do in a fraction of the time!

More stuff in the next few posts.

Re: Disability Assisting Software

PostPosted: August 04, 2015, 01:26:41 PM
by TaoPhoenix
ADD is brutal. What people don't always know is there are different types. Notice the missing H from the "better well known" "ADHD". That's because many of us are not "hyper", bouncing off walls.

I'm in pretty good shape today - about my best. So I'm locked in and getting caught up on a lot of Aphelion stuff I've pondered for a while.

But even today, ADD shows up as horrible gaps in "working memory". It's like having a bad circuit that blows out too fast. So I need to really increment progress in what I do.

Some of you may have started seeing my "post in progress" notes. That's because Aphelion has a fairly fast time-out. (Dan and Rob? Wanna think about that?) So if you're thinking a long time, Aphelion logs you out sometimes before you finish a big post! And if you're not really clever, you could lose your work!

Quick tips - You could copy-paste your fragment to a text file on your computer as you go along. The other way is my Posts in Progress. (Heh except I forgot one in the Flash section!

I think it's really good we can edit posts here. Because I especially rely on a "double/triple" draft system of my posts. It mirrors the fiction drafting process - first bang it up there, then you can refine it.


PostPosted: August 04, 2015, 01:28:35 PM
by TaoPhoenix
Autistic people often like to time things. I'm one of them. I heavily use the following two:

1. iPhone's native timer. (3GS version! I don't know what if anything they did to new ones!) It works a lot like a sports stopwatch.

When you hit Start, it just starts like a normal. But then you can hit "Lap", that portions off a segment while the main timer keeps going. So you can collect your total time, broken down into chunks.

2. iPhone App "Autism Timer". (Might be an off-putting name for some, but hey.) Lately as my health has wavered, little bits of OCD are creeping into my head. So then specific decimal times "clog up my head". (It gets so bad that for my home, I wanted a big wall clock, and because of the culture in my section of Queens, New York City, I happened to see a huge Islamic analog clock. Analog is crucial ... because it doesn't have numbers!)

So for example, especially being in NYC now, 9:11 twice a day ... stopped being a time and "ended up" with a dual meaning! (There are other ones.) So when working with digital times, I get wrapped up a bit in even round numbers too. So on some occasions I "just wanna know sorta how long something took", the Autism Timer has a three section set of colored bars. Green, Yellow, Red, in that order. You can set how long each part is. Yes, it's great for planning to get stuff done too!

So since it's just colored bars sitting there, it doesn't trigger number-based stuff. So then when you stop it, you can just do a little math and figure out how long something took. (Just remember to hit "start!" I just looked now, and I forgot!)

Screen Shot Captor by Mouser of DonationCoder

PostPosted: August 04, 2015, 01:39:37 PM
by TaoPhoenix
A useful thing is to take partial screen shots of stuff. Unlike the raw Windows button that just grabs the whole thing, various programs can let you just parcel out part of it. In the running for the best out there is Mouser's Screen Shot Captor from ... hotcaptor/

I'll let others poke at the fact it has a zillion features. (But don't forget, you can request something to be added! Again that's DC's power - it's small like a town, so the devs are not hiding behind some wall!) For now the basic idea is you can draw a box on your screen and grab only that part.

Now see below for why all this matters!

Stickies by Tom Revell

PostPosted: August 04, 2015, 01:51:22 PM
by TaoPhoenix
Yes I use lots of the paper ones too! But this is about the software program.

Stickies - Zhorn Software - Tom Revell

So ... you have something on your clipboard. But what do you do with it? Make a million ugly little text and paint files? Yuck! You only have these little snips you just want on hand! It's a disaster to keep opening and closing weird little files!

So you get Stickies going. You make a new one, then paste in your clipboard. So it sits there. But some days it's in your way! So you can roll up and roll down them like window blinds. It's built on a decent database back end - I'm sure it has limits, but I have a couple hundred open right now and it hangs on! (A bit of a creak at the seams, but not bad!)

Yet look - what gets to your clipboard? THIS is where the power of "chaining" programs comes in! You just used SC Captor (or something else) to take a small snip of a webpage! (Or just simple copy and paste from something.) So now you can mash that into a Sticky!

Dexpot and Virtual Desktops

PostPosted: August 04, 2015, 01:52:51 PM
by TaoPhoenix
Linux can do this natively a lot of times, but I'll leave that for someone else.

On Windows, after using another DC program, I needed something slightly stronger, and my "winner" of my search was Dexpot.

A virtual desktop program somehow hides different open items into different "universes". There's a graphical visual manager bar with buttons, so you can just click back and forth. It has a couple of main uses and at least one reallhy sneaky one.

- If you're working on a project, that could involve a lot of work! Then at the end of a day or a break in a session, you don't want to lose it all! So if that's all "parked" into one of the virtual sections, you can just leave it there. Then you can switch to a new one to do light other stuff. And then it keeps the light other stuff out of your head when you go back to work.

- You can "shuffle" stuff around - so you can set for example #3 to be your "aggregator". Then you use #2 to go scouting pages, brainstorming, making fragments, etc. Then whatever is good, you just "Send to" #3. Or if you forget and just look at something random but you're on the "serious aggregator" one, you can send it back out to somewhere else.

- For example, I set my copy to seven. (But it can do more.) So you can do stuff like set #5 to be "the Attic". Random stuff that's neat but has no current bearing on anything, you can just send over there for some other day.

And now the really sneaky one:

Remember the Stickies? Well, having enough of them starts clogging up your screen! But if you close and re-open Stickies onto (for me) #7, the big mass of them live over there. Then you can focus on your important few new ones for that day. There's a couple of finesse details not important for this post, but basically you might not realize that *each of the other six desktops* can have its own set of fresh stickies!

So what we see is the whole definitely becoming more than the sum of the parts! I have a modest talent for "chaining" weird little pieces of stuff together.


PostPosted: August 04, 2015, 02:08:10 PM
by TaoPhoenix
A few years ago, I got all wrapped up in the ideas of back issues and stuff here. What was growing apparent was that making raw html pages for author pages could be fine for a single year's worth of issues ... then it grows like a hydra. (Awww, wasn't the baby cute? Uh oh...!)

So after some discussions of possibilities, just go get at least a major update going, I settled on a mid way compromise based on some software I was investigating at the time. That's how we created the position I (still gratefully) hold as Archive Editor (despite my terrible erraticness! Thank you!)

The first version was done on another program that turned out to have a fatal flaw, but I was lucky enough to find the current one, called MyInfo.

Again, I am writing up all these programs as a user - I have no management or other connection with any of them.

MyInfo is one of the class of "Tree Organizers". Based on the idea that a lot of information is structured in a hierarchy, you can just make what I will call nodes and sub-nodes. MyInfo is pretty easy to get the basics going. (Might take under half an hour.) You just open it, create a master topic title, create your top node, and start putting stuff in there. (Tip - I like to leave the absolute top one blank, because then you start "for real" in the first section down, so then you can have "main nodes" of equal priority.)

So you put stuff in. Then for a piece of subsidiary info, you just create a subnode. Simple as that. And then as you're working, you can move them up and down, in and out of the structure, and so on. There's fancy other things it can do, but that's all that matters for this post.

So, anyway, it's the program my archives are housed on. As you can see, we have done a lot with Aphelion over the years! And MyInfo is holding all that, with not even the creaks I was mentioning with Stickies. I don't know its max capability, but I'm sure it can hold five times or more what I have up there now.

What's cool is that as you see in the archives, you can "roll up and down" the levels of hierarchy, so you can drill in on what you want. Then when you're done, you can roll it back up again.

The basic version is free, and is pretty solid. By the way, it's not yet obvious from my notes above, is that you can have *multiple topics*. So you started with one topic and its trees of nodes. Then you can make an entirely new topic and start all over. So you can make one on your projects, one on your impressions/reminders of things about Aphelion, one on your To-Do's to get done, and so on.

There is a Pro version, and I paid for it, because that's the one that has the killer feature that you actually see as the archives - it's just a webpage! Your own personal sets of trees are "all locked up" as the in-program files on your machine. When I went searching for programs to do the archives on, there were a few contenders. And I'll freely say if you have a special feature that's important to you, by all means, use one of those. They all have finesse details that differ, so use what works best for you!

I just picked this one, because it is the only one (left) that has the cleanest web export for the archives.

And here we drift into the now vital economic discussion of freeware / what do people pay for, etc. And here's (for me) the stunning power of the export feature this program has. If my strength holds out this week, I will finally add some new stuff to the archives. And then BANG - instead of trying to create a hundred new html webpages and upload them and manage them and all that ... I'll just add stuff as I can to the master file. Then "twelve clicks" later, out comes an entire new archives file! The entire complete webpage comes out in one shot!

(Please tell me by the way if anyone has problems and suggestions ... to the limits of my (currently struggling) ability, I'll do something about it!)

More in the next post to keep this readable!

MyInfo cont. and Eddie's Halloween Flash

PostPosted: August 04, 2015, 02:30:26 PM
by TaoPhoenix
Right now I have one more suggested use for you all if you want to try out the MyInfo program (or related).

Take a look over here at Eddie Sullivan's Halloween Flash.

It's a stunning concept to offer up a huge list of obscure characters to write about! (Eddie, oh dear gawd, what unbelievable work THAT must have taken to produce! I'm barely holding on today on my good day looking at it!)

Just so people can see it here, in a different place, that list looks like this:
Halloween 2015 Flash
So given the success of last year’s October flash section I have decided to repeat the experiment.
Here are 16 candidates for this year’s flash fiction assignment along with last years 12.
I challenge anyone out there to write me something for October and submit it using the following monsters in their story.

Post here with the name and simply say mine and it will be yours to use and no one else’s. Please only pick one. If the month draws to a close and no one has taken a crack at something and you want a second then you may ask and I will probably let you have it.

This year’s additions to the list:

And last year’s are still eligible again this year if anyone wants a crack at them:
Camazotz (X)

I will still love to see all other submissions , but come on it is the Halloween issue, write about monsters!
(Camazotz is taken, as of 8-4-2015)

So you can go into MyInfo and create nodes for each of those names. Then you can create subnodes, some for research, some for story ideas!

Re: Disability Assisting Software

PostPosted: August 04, 2015, 02:31:12 PM
by TaoPhoenix
So that's it for now!

I'll let y'all have some room to comment or add other ideas.