Archive for April, 2010

Goal — Lighting for a quadraplegic man

My next pro­ject is a rel­at­ively simple light­ing install­a­tion for a dis­abled man.

For a while now I have been involved with TADACT (Tech­nical Aid for Dis­abled, Aus­tralian Cap­ital Ter­rit­ory). Dis­abled people don’t come off assembly lines and have unique vari­ances within their broad dis­ab­il­ity cat­egory. The stand­ard equip­ment is tar­geted at the most com­mon issues but this often isn’t quite what they need. TADACT is a group of volun­teers that modify or man­u­fac­ture spe­cialty equip­ment for dis­abled people where there isn’t an adequate com­mer­cial solution.

Late last year I vis­ited a quad­ri­ple­gic man and talked about installing a cus­tom light for him. Due to a vehicle acci­dent he has no con­trol below his chest and only crude move­ment of his arms and one thumb. He is also unable to exert any force with his arms.

He wanted a light he could con­trol from his bed. The bed­side lamps he was using were dif­fi­cult for him to con­trol due to the small switches. He didn’t like sleep­ing in the dark at night so it had dim while he slept but be bright enough to read by. He also moves his arms around at night and there’s a risk he could ser­i­ously burn him­self with the bed­side lamps, he had actu­ally burnt him­self just before I met him and received third degree burns again last week.

Tak­ing those require­ments (and a few more) I came up with a pro­posal. I would mount three halo­gen bulbs on the wall, one poin­ted at the bed and two at the roof with each set inde­pend­ently con­trol­lable. The wir­ing will be secured to the wall. There were two options pro­posed for the switch­ing, using two slid­ing foot dim­mers or jelly­bean switches and cus­tom con­trol cir­cuitry. The second option was con­sid­er­ably more expens­ive, the jelly­bean switches are spe­cially designed for dis­abled pur­poses and cost over $100 for a switch with almost the same func­tion­al­ity as a $2 switch at Jay­car. The almost is of course the slight modi­fic­a­tions that make them bet­ter for dis­abled people.

Ini­tially they decided that even the cheap option was too expens­ive. Yes­ter­day TADACT con­tac­ted me and said a local char­ity had provided fund­ing for the foot switch option. So this month’s pro­ject is to com­plete this for TADACT. The aim is to install it by the week­end of the first or second of May, prefer­ably the week­end before.

This prob­ably won’t take all of my time so I’ll use the rest to clean up some other stuff I should have done a while ago, might even do last year’s tax return…

Tax Project March Wrap up

So I cheated a bit and pushed the dead­line out a week. While much of the check­list is done the pro­ject over­all is nowhere near where I hoped it would be. The issue I think was that I assumed that I would be pro­duct­ive for the whole week­end but it turns out I actu­ally do do social stuff and reg­u­lar main­ten­ance like clean­ing or iron­ing. Look­ing back I think I com­mit­ted about half the time I expec­ted to.

Tax website screenshot showing layout

Tax web­site screenshot

Tar­get features

  • Tem­plat­ing system

    Check. Using TT2 as described earlier. The tem­plat­ing isn’t com­plete but I was
    always plan­ning on grow­ing it as I went. Sadly it doesn’t prop­erly imple­ment the
    prim­at­ives I’m using but It’s good to start with a win, even if you steal it.

  • Basic lay­out

    Check. To start off with I had a ghastly col­our scheme of dif­fer­ent shades of red and roughly the lay­out I ended up with. I read on one of those innu­mer­able web­site design blogs that col­our schemes are import­ant. All the clas­sic mood stuff, red is firey and aggres­ive, white is ser­i­ous, bor­ing and reli­able. Reli­able seems like a good mood for a tax web­site but black and white is a bit too hard for someone as inept as I to pull off. So I went with a cream back­ground and a yellow/browny sec­ond­ary colour.

  • Func­tional data entry

    Check. This works pretty well actu­ally, change an input box and it’s imme­di­ately pushed to the server. Not per­fect (none of the code is), not­ably it’s not fully back­groun­ded so you get a slight delay.

  • Javas­cript data checking

    Fail. I didn’t get around to try­ing this.

  • Server­side storage

    Check. I went with Mon­goDB and it’s going well so far. Ended up hav­ing to write a very simple PHP script to expose the DB to the Javas­cript, primar­ily authen­tic­a­tion wrapping.

  • Basic cal­cu­la­tions

    Par­tial. I have some cal­cu­la­tions work­ing but it’s not a reusable structure.

  • Inde­pend­ent domain name

    Fail. The pro­ject isn’t far along enough to be use­ful yet so the domain isn’t import­ant, so I’m mark­ing this as a fail but don’t care. I also couldn’t find a free name I liked.

  • Pub­lic source repository


Maybe fea­tures

  • Cli­ent side encryption

    Fail. Didn’t start on this.

  • User login system

    Check. Pretty easy to imple­ment with the DB layer in place. I don’t have user
    cre­ation work­ing yet but that is actu­ally a fairly small amount of work.

  • Basic per­sonal tax pack covered

    Fail. I’m nowhere near achiev­ing this, it’s crazy how much they cram into a few pages.

  • Cli­ent side PDF generation

    Fail. Didn’t start on this.

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