Stargate: Continuum

I think “meh” sums up my reaction to Continuum,
the latest direct-to-DVD release of the Stargate series. Perhaps my response stems
from the fact that it really is a standalone episode of Stargate expanded to
feature length. Yes, as one of the extra features points out, this movie does
pull elements from nearly every season of Stargate, but the plot itself neither
ties up any loose ends or creates any new ones. That’s disappointing, as I
certainly expect and hope for future releases. Some hint of the future baddies
would be nice.

 

I know you drool over Amanda Tapping so I’ll warn you
to watch Continuum with a towel handy. Now we see why she has been absent from
the Atlantis spin-off. Still, I spotted a canon error in Continuum. It has been
Stargate canon that Lt. Col. Samantha Carter never took flying lessons so how is
she piloting a F-15C? O’Neal and Mitchell are Air Force fighter jocks
(and Teal’C is flight-rated), but not Carter. Oops.

 

My Netflix rating for Continuum: 3 stars.

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RIP KE5NPZ, de W5RUA

Enough initials for ya?

 

What that all means is that I changed my Amateur Radio
callsign. Most people will shrug and say, “so?” Fair enough, but it
is about honoring traditions and remembering hams who helped us become hams.
W5RUA used to be George Taylor, a nice guy who loaned me the first quality
shortwave receiver I ever saw. I know it was a Halicrafters, but I can’t
find a photo of the exact unit on the Internet. In any case, this was my first
piece of gear, and I remember many a late night sitting in front of this very
heavy radio filled with glowing tubes listening to strange voices from around
the world. This was in 1970-71, long before home computers and the Internet.

 

I wish that I could give George a nice little obituary. The very
fact that his callsign was available means he has been dead or incapacitated for
at least two years. Sadly though, I can’t say a lot about George because I
don’t know much. I know that he was involved with the Shriners’
charity, and was one of a group of hams who would make phone-patches for
children in Shriners’ hospitals. But, beyond that, about all I can say
about old George is that he allowed me to delve deeper into the strange world
of shortwave and get hooked. Picking up his callsign was a nice way to remember
him.

 

There was another reason for changing my callsign. Callsigns
are assigned linearly, making it very obvious who has a new callsign. Someone with
a KExxxx callsign must be new to ham radio. Since I first discovered it in the
late 60’s, I’m no newbie. A W5 is more a match for what experience I
have.

 

There is one other thing. My grandfather was W5HU, and I would’ve
preferred to inherit his venerable call. Alas, some old putz up in Cedar Creek,
Texas snatched it up before I could even get licensed. Oh well, W5RUA is noble
enough.

RE: TATN ’08

Uhm, no, not what I said at all.

For instance, I specifically said that you ARE a role model. That is the
basic issue as I see it. Have you ever heard the saying, "actions speak
louder than words?" That is what I’m talking about. Whatever advice you give
to people, they are still going to look at the AAC you use and see that as a
tacit comment about the others. Most people aren’t going to understand the
complicated criteria that can be a part of selecting the "right" AAC for
them. Now do you understand what I was saying?

By the way, I have much the same problem with Dr. Stephen Hawkins. So you’re
in good company! 🙂

I also asked you to respond on my blog instead of in private email. That was
for fairness, so that everyone could read your comments for themselves. I’ll
transfer your response this time, but I encourage you to consider starting a
blog of your own.

I’m glad you’re getting an ECO. That is what I’d pick if I had to have a PRC
product. What I read suggests that an ECO could also run Xpress-It. That’s
an intriguing thought, and I’ve toyed with the idea of bugging Carla for an
evaluation unit. I damn sure couldn’t afford the $8,000 list price! Ow!

You still haven’t told me how you could properly demo things like Xpress-It.
There is a slight possibility that I might convince Dell to provide a laptop
for that purpose, but first I’d have to be comfortable that it was a good
idea.

> —–Original Message—–
> From: Texas TERA [mailto:texastera@gmail.com]
> Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2008 11:15 PM
> To: ‘Scott Royall’; cca.cons@prentrom.com
> Subject: RE: TATN ’08
>
> Scott,
>
> I really think there is a misunderstanding here. I never said I didn’t
> like X-Press and it couldn’t work for some people. I never said I didn’t
> think the DEC Talk voice wasn’t out dated. I’ll be getting an ECO in
> the near future that has a better voice. I clearly stated the opposite.
> I have kept all our email contacts. I just feel that you are shoving it
> down my throat that it is what would best for me. With my job, I support
> all of the known AAC devices.
>
> You say I’m not a role model, funny, I think most peoplr in the AAC
> world would disagree with you.. The problem is I haven’t seen you in
> that world. I am strong advocate for improving AAC devices and
> communicate with AAC manufacture R&D deparrtments. It is your choice
> rather you want to work with me. I’m sorry that you can’t accept our
> differences and move on.
>
>
> I sincerely wish you the best of luck.
>
>
>
> ________________________________
>
> From: Scott Royall [mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
> Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2008 9:27 PM
> To: cca.cons@prentrom.com; texastera@gmail.com
> Subject: FW: TATN ’08
>
>
>
> Carla,
>
>
>
> Below is a long post I just sent to my blog. Kate also got a copy.
>
>
>
> I’m sorry; I’m well aware that you two are friends, but I found Kate too
> interested in defending the merits of her Minspeak to offer me any
> reason to work with her. I think she misses the whole point rather
> concisely summed up in the final paragraph: as a fellow role-model, her
> actions say far more than words can. The fact that she does travel to
> more conferences further compounds the unspoken message against newer
> products, let alone mine.
>
>
>
> Kate doesn’t need to reply to this email. I won’t respond because that
> would be a waste of our time. However, she’s encouraged to respond on my
> blog if she wants. My blog in my commentary on the realities of my life.
> As such, it will probably be the only legacy I leave behind since
> Xpress-It obviously isn’t going anywhere.
>
>
>
> Scott
>
>
>
> From: Scott Royall [mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
> Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2008 8:46 PM
> Subject: TATN ’08
>
>
>
> I attended the Texas Assistive Technology Network ’08 a few weeks ago,
> and I promised to write about a couple of people I met there.
> Unfortunately, life has intervened with a number of minor emergencies
> that required my attention, including a couple of computer crashes.
> Another reason why I’m reluctant to start discussing my experience at
> TATN is because I recognize that my comments will probably be considered
> as incendiary, although that’s absolutely not my intention. One lady in
> particular could, and should, be a mutual benefit to herself and me as
> she’s leading an effort to set up a clearinghouse in the Austin area for
> information and technology useful in independent living. This
> clearinghouse is to include examples of assistive technology, such as
> AAC products. Her name is Kate May <mailto:texastera@gmail.com> , and
> she is a fellow AAC user as well as having a degree in Special Ed. Yet,
> her comments, both at the conference and in email, raise serious
> questions in my mind regarding her ability to be impartial.
>
>
>
> There, I said it, although I sure didn’t want to.
>
>
>
> To clarify, Kate uses a Minspeak, an older dedicated AAC device by
> Prentke Romich. It’s menu-driven, based on PRC’s Semantic Compaction
> technology. The voice quality is roughly equal to DECTalk, which I first
> saw in 1983. DECTalk wasn’t bad for the time. Indeed, it was the first
> artificial voice to gain any traction with my managers at Shell. The
> release of Windows 95, however, spawned technologies that quickly
> retired DECTalk’s venerable hardware. We literally gave it to a school.
> Yet, Kate’s quite comfortable with her Minspeak, although a friend (who
> I’ll tell you about in a moment) was quick to point that better voices
> are available. Of course, Kate’s reluctance to change AAC products is
> entirely understandable. It’s just an example of a general phenomenon I
> mentioned in my TATN presentation; most people aren’t in love with
> technology, and they find re-learning how to do a task stressful enough
> to be avoided. What Kate has told me says that the environment around
> her, and her own verbal capabilities, do not generate much demand for a
> better artificial voice.
>
>
>
> Kate’s fondness for her Minspeak is certainly her right, and nominally
> only her business if it wasn’t for a couple of emailed statements. She
> told me that she intends to be the primary advisor for people coming to
> TERA, her clearinghouse, looking for AAC options. Ok, but then she said
> that she was "not proficient" in text-to-speech programs similar to
> Xpress-It. Hmm. Although I genuinely don’t mean to pick, that seems to
> be a significant disconnect to me. Saying that different people need
> different AAC solutions should be a given. Still, anyone intending to
> advise others would be well to develop proficiency in the major types. I
> did earn my chops ten years ago. After all, I didn’t write Xpress-It for
> fun. As much as such an arrangement ought to be mutually beneficial, I
> can’t see how I can afford to work with Kate. Sending her a copy of
> Xpress-It wouldn’t help her without an appropriate computer. And, I can’
> t afford to keep someone nearby to represent me, so I guess we can’t do
> business unless something changes.
>
>
>
> It is tempting to say that it’s no surprise that Kate’s friend was a PRC
> employee, but that’s disingenuous in the extreme. Yes, Carla is paid by
> PRC, as a SLP in a consulting capacity. She was quick to observe that
> her paycheck wasn’t tied to PRC sales, at least not directly. What was
> more impressive, though, was her behavior. While Kate didn’t appear
> interested in Xpress-It, asking only one question that I’m aware of,
> Carla was all eyes and ears, very quickly grasping why PRC products were
> inappropriate for me once she knew a bit about the private sector
> environment that I operated in. Rarely do the SLPs I encounter show much
> understanding of life in the Private Sector, but Carla seemed to. About
> the only part that she couldn’t quite get her brain around was why
> hospital SLPs would shun products like Xpress-It in favor of more
> comprehensive solutions. I know the official explanation about SLP
> workloads, but Carla is probably right in suspecting that the deep
> pockets of the larger vendors have something to do with it also. PRC
> historically doesn’t do much business with hospitals either because
> their products are more tuned for the education sector. In any case,
> Carla was a joy to meet, having a uncommon degree of what I call "snap"
> despite her protestations of being a "techno-phobe" (yeah right, Carla).
> Of course, she earned a few points by being easy to look at, and by
> immediately going ga-ga over Lilly. That showed fine taste.
>
>
>
> Long-time readers of my blog know that I tend to favor Private Sector
> solutions whenever possible. Not that the Private Sector gets everything
> right by a long shot, but, as long as there’s healthy competition, it
> will weed out the mistakes. The Public Sector, on the gripping hand,
> operates under a different set of rules that I find rather bizarre
> sometimes. There has been such a push in the last three decades to
> include everyone that various acceptance standards have been lowered
> right into mediocrity. Hardly an evening goes by that my ham friends and
> I don’t meet on-air to bemoan the decline of the "American Way."
> Naturally, I know people have sung that lament since at least 1770.
> However, as I communicated with Kate, I began to realize a likely link
> between the Public Sector’s willingness to accept mediocre performance
> and the almost glacial rate of progress in AAC.
>
>
>
> I do not know that much about Kate’s history. I do know that her degree
> is in Special Education, and she is affiliated with the Austin ISD. I
> don’t know if she has ever worked in the Private Sector. I also am aware
> that disabled people who do seek employment tend to aim for the Public
> Sector directly or through allied companies. That practice does make
> some sense, because competition to find and keep those jobs is less
> intense than for Private Sector equivalents. Even so, some sources put
> unemployment among the Disabled as high as 80%, and I daresay Kate would
> agree that the only way to put a dent in that figure is by enlisting the
> Private Sector much more effectively than it is now. That means that
> people who need AAC solutions can’t afford to settle for "good enough,"
> because employers won’t. I talked about this in my TATN talk; "good
> enough" needs to disappear from the Public Sector lexicon.
>
>
>
> This blog entry is waaay longer than I would like. I would’ve preferred
> to break it up into easily-digestible chunks, but I realized that I had
> a natural train of thought that I needed to follow through before
> opening up to comment. Obviously, Kate is not going to be pleased by my
> viewpoint, and that’s her constitutional right. At least my viewpoint is
> now on the record in its entirety for everyone interested to weigh for
> themselves. My greatest concern is the outcome of what Kate is trying to
> do with her TERA project. I’m frequently told that I’m a de facto
> role-model, and I wonder if Kate truly realizes the fallout of being
> one. She is certainly setting herself up as another role-model while
> using very old AAC, thereby sending a strong unspoken message that
> contradicts anything good she says about the newer technology. In
> effect, I believe Kate is supporting the status quo-albeit unwillingly,
> and I think a serious reality check is called for.
>
>
> Internal Virus Database is out of date.
> Checked by AVG.
> Version: 8.0.100 / Virus Database: 270.3.0/1505 – Release Date: 6/16/2008
7:20 AM

TATN ’08

I attended the Texas Assistive Technology Network ’08 a few weeks ago, and I promised to write about a couple of people I met there. Unfortunately, life has intervened with a number of minor emergencies that required my attention, including a couple of computer crashes. Another reason why I’m reluctant to start discussing my experience at TATN is because I recognize that my comments will probably be considered as incendiary, although that’s absolutely not my intention. One lady in particular could, and should, be a mutual benefit to herself and me as she’s leading an effort to set up a clearinghouse in the Austin area for information and technology useful in independent living. This clearinghouse is to include examples of assistive technology, such as AAC products. Her name is Kate May, and she is a fellow AAC user as well as having a degree in Special Ed. Yet, her comments, both at the conference and in email, raise serious questions in my mind regarding her ability to be impartial.

 

There, I said it, although I sure didn’t want to.

 

To clarify, Kate uses a Minspeak, an older dedicated AAC device by Prentke Romich. It’s menu-driven, based on PRC’s Semantic Compaction technology. The voice quality is roughly equal to DECTalk, which I first saw in 1983. DECTalk wasn’t bad for the time. Indeed, it was the first artificial voice to gain any traction with my managers at Shell. The release of Windows 95, however, spawned technologies that quickly retired DECTalk’s venerable hardware. We literally gave it to a school. Yet, Kate’s quite comfortable with her Minspeak, although a friend (who I’ll tell you about in a moment) was quick to point that better voices are available. Of course, Kate’s reluctance to change AAC products is entirely understandable. It’s just an example of a general phenomenon I mentioned in my TATN presentation; most people aren’t in love with technology, and they find re-learning how to do a task stressful enough to be avoided. What Kate has told me says that the environment around her, and her own verbal capabilities, do not generate much demand for a better artificial voice.

 

Kate’s fondness for her Minspeak is certainly her right, and nominally only her business if it wasn’t for a couple of emailed statements. She told me that she intends to be the primary advisor for people coming to TERA, her clearinghouse, looking for AAC options. Ok, but then she said that she was “not proficient” in text-to-speech programs similar to Xpress-It. Hmm. Although I genuinely don’t mean to pick, that seems to be a significant disconnect to me. Saying that different people need different AAC solutions should be a given. Still, anyone intending to advise others would be well to develop proficiency in the major types. I did earn my chops ten years ago. After all, I didn’t write Xpress-It for fun. As much as such an arrangement ought to be mutually beneficial, I can’t see how I can afford to work with Kate. Sending her a copy of Xpress-It wouldn’t help her without an appropriate computer. And, I can’t afford to keep someone nearby to represent me, so I guess we can’t do business unless something changes.

 

It is tempting to say that it’s no surprise that Kate’s friend was a PRC employee, but that’s disingenuous in the extreme. Yes, Carla is paid by PRC, as a SLP in a consulting capacity. She was quick to observe that her paycheck wasn’t tied to PRC sales, at least not directly. What was more impressive, though, was her behavior. While Kate didn’t appear interested in Xpress-It, asking only one question that I’m aware of, Carla was all eyes and ears, very quickly grasping why PRC products were inappropriate for me once she knew a bit about the private sector environment that I operated in. Rarely do the SLPs I encounter show much understanding of life in the Private Sector, but Carla seemed to. About the only part that she couldn’t quite get her brain around was why hospital SLPs would shun products like Xpress-It in favor of more comprehensive solutions. I know the official explanation about SLP workloads, but Carla is probably right in suspecting that the deep pockets of the larger vendors have something to do with it also. PRC historically doesn’t do much business with hospitals either because their products are more tuned for the education sector. In any case, Carla was a joy to meet, having a uncommon degree of what I call ”snap” despite her protestations of being a “techno-phobe” (yeah right, Carla). Of course, she earned a few points by being easy to look at, and by immediately going ga-ga over Lilly. That showed fine taste.

 

Long-time readers of my blog know that I tend to favor Private Sector solutions whenever possible. Not that the Private Sector gets everything right by a long shot, but, as long as there’s healthy competition, it will weed out the mistakes. The Public Sector, on the gripping hand, operates under a different set of rules that I find rather bizarre sometimes. There has been such a push in the last three decades to include everyone that various acceptance standards have been lowered right into mediocrity. Hardly an evening goes by that my ham friends and I don’t meet on-air to bemoan the decline of the “American Way.” Naturally, I know people have sung that lament since at least 1770. However, as I communicated with Kate, I began to realize a likely link between the Public Sector’s willingness to accept mediocre performance and the almost glacial rate of progress in AAC.

 

I do not know that much about Kate’s history. I do know that her degree is in Special Education, and she is affiliated with the Austin ISD. I don’t know if she has ever worked in the Private Sector. I also am aware that disabled people who do seek employment tend to aim for the Public Sector directly or through allied companies. That practice does make some sense, because competition to find and keep those jobs is less intense than for Private Sector equivalents. Even so, some sources put unemployment among the Disabled as high as 80%, and I daresay Kate would agree that the only way to put a dent in that figure is by enlisting the Private Sector much more effectively than it is now. That means that people who need AAC solutions can’t afford to settle for “good enough,” because employers won’t. I talked about this in my TATN talk; “good enough” needs to disappear from the Public Sector lexicon.

 

This blog entry is waaay longer than I would like. I would’ve preferred to break it up into easily-digestible chunks, but I realized that I had a natural train of thought that I needed to follow through before opening up to comment. Obviously, Kate is not going to be pleased by my viewpoint, and that’s her constitutional right. At least my viewpoint is now on the record in its entirety for everyone interested to weigh for themselves. My greatest concern is the outcome of what Kate is trying to do with her TERA project. I’m frequently told that I’m a de facto role-model, and I wonder if Kate truly realizes the fallout of being one. She is certainly setting herself up as another role-model while using very old AAC, thereby sending a strong unspoken message that contradicts anything good she says about the newer technology. In effect, I believe Kate is supporting the status quo—albeit unwillingly, and I think a serious reality check is called for.

Dead “Roddy” in the middle of the road

Dell: Onsite keyboard replacement

Richard,

 

Let me update
you on the situation below. Arlowe Guffrey’s "Dead Skunk in the Middle of
the Road" has been playing in my head all weekend, if that tells you
anything. I was already pretty certain that the problem was a hard-drive
failure when I wrote the text below,  but Spinrite very quickly confirmed
the diagnosis.

 

Google
Spinrite, if you’re not familiar with it. It’s not much to look at
because it’s based on DOS, but that’s exactly why it works so well. Spinrite is
the only utility for salvaging data from a damaged hard-drive automatically.
You simply boot into Spinrite, and tell it which hard-drive or partition needs
help. It then starts a painstaking process of extracting data from damaged
sectors, a process that can take months in extreme cases. Spinrite is really
intended to be run semi-regularly because the way it operates gives the SMART
firmware that’s already built into all modern hard-drives a better chance to
notice and lock out weak sectors preemptively.  Yet, Spinrite also has a
well-earned reputation for salvaging drives at least temporarily. In fact,
Spinrite would’ve already told me if Roddy’s hard-drive was hopeless because of
how closely it monitors the SMART subsystem.  There’s no need to
despair, slow progress is being made, but Spinrite is having to salvage data
literally bit-by-bit from a heavily damaged portion of the disk. There’s
no predicting how long that will take, as it depends on how large the damaged
area is.

 

Anyway, the
plan is to let Spinrite cook on. I already know the drive is bootable, it was
causing a blue screen after running several minutes. That tells me that either
the pagefile or a DLL was damaged. I have a three-week old image of the drive.
The hope is to get the system back going long enough to refresh the image, and
then you can dispatch a replacement drive. Roger?

 

Meanwhile, the
M1710 is once more proving as steadfast as its namesake, Lilly.

 

Scott

 

From: Scott Royall
[mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
Sent: Friday, July 11, 2008 4:41 PM
To: ‘Richard_Bernier@Dell.com’
Subject: RE: Dell: Onsite keyboard replacement

 

Well,
don’t celebrate. Roddy is down hard. I don’t yet have a firm
diagnosis, but it may be a hard-drive issue. We’ll see.

 

From: Richard_Bernier@Dell.com
[mailto:Richard_Bernier@Dell.com]
Sent: Friday, July 11, 2008 11:59 AM
To: royall@conchbbs.com
Subject: RE: Dell: Onsite keyboard replacement

 

Okay, sounds good!  Have a great weekend Mr. Royall.

 

Best regards,

Richard Bernier
Dell Communities & Conversations
Dell Inc.
800-822-8965 Ext. 726-8859 | Richard_Bernier@dell.com
Doing good or needing improvement, either way you can contact my
manager
geoffrey_knox@dell.com


From: Scott Royall
[mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
Sent: Wednesday, July 09, 2008 4:02 PM
To: Bernier, Richard
Subject: RE: Dell: Onsite keyboard replacement

 

Not at this
time, thanks.

 

From:
Richard_Bernier@Dell.com [mailto:Richard_Bernier@Dell.com]
Sent: Wednesday, July 09, 2008 2:34 PM
To: royall@conchbbs.com
Subject: Dell: Onsite keyboard replacement

 

Mr. Royall,

I just
checked the
service
order and it indicated that the work was completed.  Is there anything
that I may do for you?

Regards,

Richard Bernier
Dell
Communities & Conversations

Dell Inc.
800-822-8965 Ext. 726-8859 | Richard_Bernier@dell.com

Doing good or needing improvement, either way you can contact my
manager
geoffrey_knox@dell.com

Internal
Virus Database is out of date.
Checked by AVG.
Version: 8.0.100 / Virus Database: 270.3.0/1505 – Release Date: 6/16/2008 7:20
AM

Keyboard (again)

Richard,

 

I love Roddy (the dog), I truly do, but she just innocently clawed
the heck out of her namesake’s keyboard. She was just being affectionate,
but she got to my face by walking on the open laptop’s keyboard. Ouch! Scratch
the = key mechanism. The numb is still there, obviously, but that’s not
going to last. Hopefully, it will last until you can dispatch another keyboard.
Sigh. M1530 keyboards have to get more durable.

Scott