Welcome to my home page. I became blind at birth. I started programming computers at a young age. I also earned my general class amateur radio license, KA3TTT, a hobby to which I have returned with great joy. I practice Qigong and consider myself a Taoist. I use Linux as my desktop and Android as my mobile OS. I eat gluten-free vegan meals. For the rest you'll have to read my blog. To comment on what you read here, visit Disboardia, my bulletin board system.

Getting a Nightguard for my TMJ

March 02, 2010

A few weeks ago, I went to the dentist for my regular cleaning. While there, I told them about my trouble with TMJ. One of the dentists, I think named Christi, said she had the same problem, and felt glad to know someone else did. She told me that when I came back for my filling, they would take an impression for a Nightguard. That happened today.

They started out by doing my filling. I have had this done before, so it went well. The old filling had become ground down, probably from my TMJ. The local anesthetic made my gums feel a little cold, as if exposed to ice. It always feels weird to have someone else working on your body, I felt like a computer on which I would work – all laid out, my hand grappling with a PCI card or a SATA connector. For a computer person, hardware pisses me off.

That brings us to the novel part of the visit, taking the impression for the Nightguard. I have to put it in my mouth at night when I sleep to help align my jaw. Dr. Miller couldn’t promise that it would cure me, but that hopefully it would help. She asked if I wanted to postpone it and go to a TMJ specialist, but added that many patients just come back for a Nightguard anyway. My gut said go for it so I did.

The other dentist named Yetta (she wanted me to get the spelling right when I said I would blog this) started mixing up this nasty-sounding crap in a bowl. She described it as kind of like making cake mix, and compared it to play-dough. I asked if this would taste really nasty. She said not really, it has a slight mint flavor. They have flavors to go with it, but they just make it taste worse. Good to know.

She put the stuff in a tray, told me to open my mouth, and smushed it down over my bottom teeth. It molded and felt weird. It hardened in about a minute. We repeated the procedure on my top teeth and roof of my mouth. I rolled some of the “dough” into a little egg, and watched it harden. I also got some of the crap in my beard, which sort of sucked. I got cleaned up well enough though, and rinsed my mouth out. I will come back in two weeks, and they will have it ready for me. I’ll let you know. I hope this helps others with TMJ. I still feel sort of out of it, but good. By the way, if you live in the area then you should go where I go. I’ve gone there since childhood.

Decrescenzo, Dante:

145 N Narberth Ave.

Narberth, Pennsylvania


Tell them I sent you!

Network Administrator

February 24, 2010

I haven’t blogged in a while. I have had a lot going on, including having my living room repainted. I wanted to share a funny thing that happened tonight.

Last weekend, I helped my brother fix his wireless network. Today, his wife called. “I can’t get my laptop to connect to the network. The message it gave me said to contact the network administrator for help.” I knew the message she meant. We laughed. “It said to contact the person who set up our network, and since you helped set it up, I’m calling you.” I didn’t mind of course, but still silently cursed Microsoft for yet another completely unhelpful message.

It struck me as really funny. Why the hell does Windows XP Home still have that stupid message? In a business environment it makes sense, but Windows has such wide use in the home sector, it just seems ridiculous. Most home users will not have a network administrator to contact. Give me Linux any day.

We did get the network working. We had to disable McCafee and reboot. Of course, I then had to tell her that she didn’t have to worry about the scary looking message informing her that she had decided to customize which programs run upon startup! Oh the horror! We can’t have the slaves doing that! Give me Linux any day.

Speaking of Linux, I have Talking Arch Linux running on my netbook and on my desktop as well now. It works nicely for the most part, though I have experienced some problems with the latest Firefox and Orca. It’ll work out.

A Token Gesture to the Blind

January 24, 2010

Last week, a friend called to tell me that he had just seen a commercial for the commemorative Louis Braille silver dollar coins. Immediately, I saw it as a literal token gesture. If they really want to help the blind, why don’t they mark currency so we can identify it by touch?

The coins crack me up. They have the standard symbols and sayings as American currency. On one side, it has a portrait of Louis Braille, the inventor of braille, the system that a decreasing amount of blind people use to read by touch. On the other side, the coin has a picture of a boy with a bookcase of braille books behind him.

Now for the life irony: The coin has the letters “brl”, the contraction for braille, embossed in braille on it. Grade II braille has 189 contractions to shorten the amount of characters in this already bulky medium. “brl” stands for braille, any American braille reader would know this. Embossing “brl” on the coin just makes me laugh, sort of like the story I’ve told here before where the hotel had “NO SMOKING!” signs outside of each room. Why not write “Print” in print on it? They should emboss “$1” that seems much more practical.

If they really want to help the blind deal with money, they should emboss or mark the currency, as they do in Europe. Some currency has actual braille on it, and other currency has special markings. I actually like this solution more than standard braille, because the markings don’t ware down as easily, and it requires less special equipment and overhead, which means less excuses from sighted bureaucrats. If Europe can do it, certainly America can! Stop giving us these token gestures! Do something real!

Summer Shines in the Winter

January 23, 2010

I have done it! I have gotten Linux installed on my Netbook. Specifically, I used Arch Linux for the Blind. Coming from Slackware, it made a good choice, since it already has Espeak installed, and I can get Gnome working out of the box as well. I believe I may even switch my desktop over, since Slackware 13.0 couldn’t even compile the stock kernels which ship with it. They require a newer version of gcc, which I installed, but that of course has broken some other things. I feel very impressed with Arch Linux so far.

I love having a portable computing device. The blind have had portable note-takers for years. I first got my Braille ‘n Speak in 1988 or so. I used and loved that thing for over ten years, then the company merged with others and became the Microsoft of the blind community. After that happened, I no longer had a constant computer at my side tow rite things down. I tried to fill the void with crap, but nothing satisfied me.

The Netbook has arrived in full force of course, and Linux accessibility provides incredible solutions. I can even ssh (log in) to my desktop upstairs while sitting in my living room recliner, and control it pretty much as if at the console. Can you do that with Windows? One crappy note-taker costs the same as thirty-one netbooks! They provide the lock, and GNU/Linux the key. Making a note-taking productivity suite under Linux has the advantage that I can port it to whatever machine I wish no matter what cool thing in the future comes out. As long as it runs an accessible version of Linux I can rock and roll!

I can’t reiterate how great this feels. I feel rejuvenated, like part of me has come back, now that I have this new medium of expression. I feel comfortable and free. This will go very well with blogging. I have Twitter running under Emacs. I also plan to make extensive use of Orgmode. “Your life in plain text” sounds just about right!

I find that suspend works far better under Linux. I disabled it under Windows, since it locked it up and didn’t seem as stable. Linux works wonderfully, I just keep the suspend mode active when I close the lid while on DC. It uses around one percent of battery charge per hour while in suspend. Then, I just open the lid and it pops right back up.

I now have my EeePC 1000HE in a very nice configuration. I kept the original 80GB Windows partition, and installed Arch Linux on the second partition. I now have a nice dual-boot configuration, though will do 99% of my work under Linux. I even have Firefox working under Gnome with Orca. Having Linux on a Netbook rules, and I would recommend it to anyone who has the time and desire.

It just occurred to me that I didn’t blog about what happened. The Thursday before last, a freak power surge took out the drive in my desktop. I’ve had to rebuild since then, and wanted to get my Netbook functioning, since I sort of needed it. Now things will work out, I will have a rocking new setup, and hopefully I can get the data off the old drive.

How to Find Peace within Twittering-mode

December 31, 2009

I love Emacs. I love using Twittering-mode to read Twitter from within Emacs. Only one thing bothered me about twittering-mode, and quickly browsing through its source-code showed me the fix. I also modified a tip on their page to give a text notification of new tweets. Just place these lines in your .emacs and enjoy. Modify as appropriate. Send me a tweet if you found this useful.

<br /> (add-to-list 'load-path "/path/to/twittering-mode") ; if non-standard<br /> (require 'twittering-mode)<br /> (setq twittering-username "yourtwittername") ; replace<br /> (setq twittering-notify-successful-http-get nil)<br /> (add-hook 'twittering-new-tweets-hook (lambda ()<br /> (let ((n twittering-new-tweets-count))<br /> (format "%d New Tweet%s" n (if (> n 1) "s" "")))))<br />

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