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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Theory of Human commmunication

For Dr. Gillette's exam we wrote about your understanding of human communication. I am posting my exam for my fellow classmates and future CICS grads to read. Enjoy
Patrick Jackson
Change in Communication Tone Due to Change in Audience
Abstract:
Four different topics will be discussed. The first two topics involve one on one communication with feedback and without feedback. The last two topics involve one to many communication with feedback and without feedback. This discussion will conclude with a chart.
In communication, there are many aspects to study and understand. The idea that we have “theories” of communication is very interesting to me. Little John’s definition of a theory is as follows: “The theories or organized knowledge of a field, developed by generations of previous scholars, provide a starting point for understanding that field.” To me, this means ideas build from one generation to the next.
I want to discuss the way people communicate with each other and how that communication changes depending on the speaker and the audience. The two main areas I plan to cover are communication between two people and communication between many people. People communicate differently depending on what is being said, and to whom it is being spoken.
One on One Communication:
One on one communication is the first of the “flavors” of communication I will discuss. I define one on one as any communication that is not intended to be consumed by an audience. On occasion, we do hear as an audience, one on one communication and it is beautiful work that we may never have known.
I will discuss communication with and without feedback. Let us talk about communication with feedback for now. Almost always, one on one communication with feedback takes the form of conversation. “One of the issues with human communication lies with the process of getting information from sender to receiver (Lyon, 2011).” In a conversation, information transfer is very easy because it is one on one and because the sender receives feedback from the receiver. Also, there are extra cues available in a conversation, such as body language, that help convey information faster. Body language is not a requirement for a conversation (i.e. telephone calls), but it helps.
When speaking to only one other person, I believe information is transferred faster. This is due to a more personalized message that transfers more information faster. For example, if you were talking to many people, you might say, “they” when referring to teachers, so as not to single out any one teacher. In one on one communication, however, you feel at ease and refer to one individual.
One on one communication without feedback is a more difficult idea, and therefore, a more difficult explanation. Imagine you needed to pass information to someone but could get no feedback. You would have to imagine issues that might arise, while the second person reads the information. Therefore, you must give more content than in a feedback conversation. Some examples of no feedback one on one information transfers are: notes, personal maps, diaries, and personal memos. A very good, no feedback message should still make the reader feel as if they are being spoken to directly. In the diary of Anne Frank, she writes as if no one will ever read what she has written. Yet, anyone who reads the book comes away with the feeling that she wrote her diary with them in mind. It takes very good writing for her to convey such a beautiful message over so much time. In general, I theorize that it takes twice as much information to convey a message with no feedback versus one that does utilize feedback.
One to Many Communication:
                In one to many communication, I will discuss the same two points as before (with feedback and without feedback), but with the understanding that we have a speaker and an audience. With the use of technology we can send our information to more people than ever before, and in more and more cases, feedback is becoming a major part of the way we communicate through technology.
Regarding one to many communication with feedback, consider the example of a manager speaking to his employees. After all, “a boss speaking to his employees is very close to speaking to an audience (McGlothlin, 2011).” When a manager states an issue in the work place, his/her employees respond with feedback to correct the issue. Audiences that give feedback may need less information from the speaker because he or she can tie up loose ends after receiving feedback from an audience. A boss may ask his employees, “Does that red light on the equipment mean we have a problem.” He may receive the response, “No, that equipment is working correctly,” or “Yes, it is broken.” Without feedback, he would also have to state a solution along with the original problem statement. Feedback means faster message transfer.
Without modern technology, one to many communication without feedback would be very difficult. A great example of this is broadcast news. Because there is no feedback and the audience is so large, they must give much more information to transfer the message.  Some people have great vision and can transfer their idea to others quickly. An example of this was Steve Jobs who was quoted by Peters saying, “Effective visions are inspiring.” Jobs almost always worked on projects in secret, meaning he received little or no public feedback. Yet, he could understand what people wanted and delivered. Creating a great message in one to many communication with little or no feedback mean that you must understand your audience very well, or give lots of extra information.
Conclusions:
Feedback
AudienceWithWithout
ManyExample: boss to workersExample: broadcast news
OneExample: conversationExample: diary
Each form takes a different set of skills to master. The trick is to be good in all forms of communication at the same time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A look at Dollar Tree


Written By: James Hixson and Patrick Jackson for ICS 601 Ball State University
This paper is in response to an assignment which we a had to pick a company from a list that we felt would provide the best return on investment. The company we choose is Dollar Tree Inc.
With the money intended to be invested in a particular stock, our company Investment Four choose to buy in to Dollar Tree, Inc. (DLTR, NASDAQ). We, as a team, choose to follow DENTSPLY International, Dollar Tree, eBay, Electronic Arts, ,and Expedia. Several of these companies increased in value during our observation period.
Dollar Tree is a Fortune 500 company that operates a chain of discount stores in the United States.  Items available include everyday household items such as cleaning products, glass ware, and seasonal decor to food items.  Every piece of merchandise sold in the store is priced at $1.00 (Chilton, 2011).  According to Brian Nichols of Seekingalpha.com, Dollar Tree has been one of the fastest growing chains in the last 5 years due to its simplistic secret behind its success, saving money for the consumers.  Since the beginning of 2011, Dollar Tree has opened 159 new stores, 76 just in the second quarter (Nichols, 2011).  Currently, Dollar Tree operates over 4000 stores in 48 contiguous U.S. states. (“The Story of Dollar Tree”, 2011)
Investment Four choose Dollar Tree, however, for two reasons: the first being they gained the most value over the observation period and second that Dollar Tree showed a very low level of volatility measured by Beta. From August 11th, 2011 to the last trading day Friday November 11th, 2011, Dollar Tree gained $11.92 starting at 66.75 and ending at 78.67 (Google Finance,2011).  The Beta for that period of time was .38 meaning that the price did not have wide swings in value.  Also looking back in time over the last year, Dollar Tree has been on the steady rise. Currently their market value is just over nine billion dollars.
According to Dollar Tree’s latest quarterly report, released to the public on August 18 2011, the company had a healthy quarter of growth.  For the quarter ending on July 30, Dollar Tree showed an increase in revenue of $146.5 million dollars from the same time last year.  This resulted in a net income of $94.9 million for the quarter, betting last years quarterly profits of $78 million by $16.9 million.   
            This growth is not only a result of their quality products at a low price, but Dollar Tree’s ability to hold a positive image to their stockholders and customers.  Currently, Dollar Tree is partnering with a non-profit organization Operation Homefront, where emergency finance and assistance is provided to families of service members and “wounded warriors”.  Dollar Tree is helping this organization with their launch of the 2011 Holiday Toy Drive.  In the past years, they have collected millions of toys donated from customers to give to Operation Homefront.  On top of the toy drive, Dollar Tree also helps with a monetary donation to the organization.  These actions reflect positively on the public (“Operation Homefront”, 2011).     
If Investment Four were to invest $10,000 at the opening bell on Monday morning November 14th, 2011, we would receive 127 shares of the company after broker fees.  Over the last year, Dollar Tree has seen an increase in value of 46%. We believe that the company has the potential to continue this trend.  Due to the Holiday season approaching, we trust that next quarter will be profitable a time for Dollar Tree.  Investment Four hopes to see an increase in value similar to that of the current year well into next year as the economy improves but consumers still try to keep spending down.  Over the next six months, we  plan to see a 20% growth in current value.  



References
(2011). Form 10-q quarterly report filed aug 18, 2011 (0-25464 ). Retrieved from Dollar
Tree website: http://www.dollartreeinfo.com/investors/global/secfiling.cfm?filingID=935703-11-40

Chilton , A. (2011, November 11). Morgan Stanley Made the Right Call, Dollar Tree 1.8%
Lower (dltr). Retrieved from http://www.fnno.com/story/analyst-reflections/331-morgan-stanley-made-right-call-dollar-tree-18-lower-dltr-analyst-reflections

Nichols, B. (2011, November 13). 6 stocks worth buying before earnings: Nov.14 - 18 .
Retrieved from http://seekingalpha.com/article/307520-6-stocks-worth-buying-before-earnings-nov-14-18

Operation Homefront. (2011). Retrieved from
http://www.dollartree.com/custserv/custserv.jsp?pageName=OperationHomefront

The Story of Dollar Tree 50+ Years in the Making. (2011). Retrieved from
http://www.dollartreeinfo.com/about-us/history/


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Social Networking and Business Forums for Advice


         
  Over the last few years, forums have become very common on various kinds of websites.  Forums are one of the most basic forms of social networking and can be easily maintained by the site owner. One important aspect of forums is that each one can have its own main topic.  The general concept of a business forum, for example, is that business owners and managers have a place to ask questions about managing a business as well as other business related concerns.
            Recently, two forms of business social networking have emerged. The first type involves businesses hoping to capitalize on small business owners. This is accomplished by selling the small business owner products or services and allowing them to exchange questions and answers, as well as read published news that may affect their business. The second type of business social networking involves utilizing a more open web-space where anyone can ask business related questions.
            This first type of business social networking mentioned can be referred to as a Small Business Social Forum.  A great example of this is Open Forum (http://www.openforum.com). Open Forum is a website run by the credit card company, American Express (AMEX). The most important aspect that AMEX values in this type of social networking is the ability to provide its current customers with business help advice. An added benefit for AMEX is the website’s ability to attract new customers looking both for advice and finical options for their businesses. The site contains several main areas, including a news page with helpful articles about running a business, a business social network, as well as advice columns. 
            Businesses also have the option of setting up a social networking page. Anyone can view this page to find a business’s address, phone number, company size, founding date, and products or services offered. Any member of the open forum can contact the company for business reasons. Businesses of all sizes, including companies with anywhere from one to one thousand employees, are listed on the site. The online community is divided into sixteen different industries. This is useful because a business owner may need help on an industry specific topic or question, and can therefore turn to other businesses in that specific industry. 
            The second type of business social networking includes websites such as Yahoo Answers (http://answers.yahoo.com). Yahoo Answers has both a business and finance section. The questions asked on this website are often less targeted toward business owners, but can be and are still used to ask questions. This site has much more traffic than the Open Forum, and therefore, questions are answered more quickly. The following example can be considered as a demonstration of how the website works.  A user asks a question and that question can be answered by any other user. The user who asked the question then chooses the best answer. The person with a best answer receives a ‘point.’ More points indicate that the particular user is more helpful in answering other people’s questions.  Often, multiple users contribute adequate answers, which increases the effectiveness of the service. Because the question is posed to a crowd of people, this question/answer system is called, “crowd sourcing.” 
Both These companies and many others are coming up with innovative solutions for business social networking.  Business owners, like any other group, can find the advice they want over the Internet with the help of social networks built for them.  Further research is needed to understand how these networks affect a business’s productivity through a more informed management. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Online Portfolios

While work portfolios provide employers a general background of one's work experience, how are the implications of online portfolios an advantage to a portfolio handed in at an interview or mailed to the employer? Well for one it provides an easy access to an individual's information. An online portfolio can be created in many different ways as in a summarized version or full out detailed version with graphics and documents. Another way online portfolios can be an advantage is that all of the information is in one location and can easily be updated. Employers can be notified of updates and access them instantaneously through a link in an email. Résumés, certifications, diplomas, and all other supporting documents can be accessed at any given time. However, there are disadvantages to online portfolios. Without password protected sites, information can easily be accessed by the general public, compromising mailing addresses, social security numbers found on supporting documents such as the military DD214 Discharge form. These are considered sensitive information and should never be posted publicly on the Internet. Another good practice in creating online portfolios is purchasing a SSL certificate encrypting your data while users access your portfolio. Many common uses of online portfolios are photography portfolios and design work portfolios used by architects and artists. However, as the technology age advances I would guess that employers will be looking at sites like Monster.com not for résumés or applications but rather than work portfolios. As you would be able to get the same information in a work portfolio summarized in a résumé or application, online work portfolios can be customized with graphics and detailed work information that can be appealing and attractive to the eye.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Videolaryngostroboscopy

If you read the title, you may be thinking, "what the heck is that?" But if you break it down, you can see the word video, so you might think 'picture.' You can see laryngo and think 'larynx/voicebox.' Strobe might make you think of light. And according to dictionary.com, scopy "indicates viewing or observation."

So a videolaryngostroboscopy is a technique used to examine the vocal chords. Speech pathologists who specialize in voice may conduct these evaluations quite frequently. The main component of the equipment used for this assessment is a gadget called an endoscope. This picture, from www.performancevoice.com shows one in use.

The physician is putting the endoscope into the patient's mouth. The endoscope has a small camera at the end that is slightly angled so that it can see the vocal folds more easily. The camera is connected to a fairly large screen so that the physician can easily see the tissues.

The endoscope is fun to use because it is controlled by foot pedals, as both hands are needed for maximum control of the endoscope. One pedal turns on the regular camera light, one turns on the strobe light, and other pedals control the recording of the video. Now, I mentioned a strobe light (thus the term "stroboscopy"). The strobe light is used to view the movement of the vocal folds more easily. Vocal fold movement is really quick--faster than what the eye can detect. So to get a better picture of how the folds move, we use a strobe light. This tricks the eye, providing a slow motion effect.

So here is what you will see when you use the endoscope. The first picture (left) is what the vocal folds look like when they are open (when someone is just breathing). The second picture (right) is what the vocal folds look like when they vibrate (when someone is speaking). If you are interested in an actual video, just search video stroboscopy on YouTube.com and you can find plenty of examples.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cochlear Implants: Part 3

Cochlear implants are not immune to technological advances. The first attempt at a cochlear implant was made by Alessandro Volta (for whom the "volt" was named). He placed metal rods in his ear canals and connected them to an electric circuit! I'm not sure I'm that brave...
Without going into too much history, I'll just say that as technology progressed, numerous designs were attempted and improvements were constantly being made to the cochlear implant...and it still continues to improve.

The latest cochlear implant design is called "The Epic," which is manufactured by Epic Biosonics. This device is going to be completely implantable--no external components! The microphone will be placed under the skin in the ear canal and the speech processor, once a big box powered by two AA batteries, will be implanted under the skin behind the ear. The design eliminates the need for a transmitting coil, as the sound will go directly from the speech processor to the electrode array in the cochlea.

The Epic will measure 3x5 centimeters and will weigh less than 3 grams--that would be roughly the size of a flash-drive (a little wider) and weighs roughly as much as three paperclips! A huge advantage to such a small and lightweight device is that it can be implanted into infants--an enormous benefit, especially in regard to speech/language development.

Other awesome advantages to a fully implantable device are that the wearer can swim, walk in the rain, takes showers, etc. without having to remove the device and go without hearing during such activities. Although these people still need to be careful about their head while physically active, they are able to participate in physical activities without having to worry about the transmitter falling off (the part that was held on by a magnet) or the processor falling out of their pocket/off their ear. The Epic is supposed to have as many as 48 electrodes (previous versions only had 16-24), which gives the wearer much clearer sound.

Finally, my favorite part about this device: the battery. There are actually two batteries: one internal and one external. The internal battery is designed to last a lifetime--no replacements needed! One concern about internal batteries was the use of liquid electrolyte, which if leaked, could be harmful. The Epic's battery, however, uses advanced technology that does not require liquid electrolyte. The battery only needs to be charged about 1-2 hours for a whole week--and this is where the external battery come in. To charge the internal battery, you use the external battery to transmit the charge across the skin using radio frequency rather that needing wires! How cool is that!!!

I currently do not personally know anyone who wears a cochlear implant (although I have in the past). But I think this device is so cool! I am always amazed at how far technology has brought us and cannot wait to see where it will go next. If anyone reading this has experiences with cochlear implants, please share by leaving a comment. For some reason, this topic fascinates me, and I would love to hear what you have to say!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cochlear Implants: Part 2

So how do cochlear implants actually work?

Well, the answer to that question can get quite complicated, but I will do my best to explain it.
First, sound is picked up by the microphone (worn either behind the ear or as a clip on clothing), which as I explained in my last post, is one of the external components of the implant. Then, the sound waves are transmitted by cable to the speech processor, also an external component. In the past, the speech processor has looked like a small box that the patient has to carry in a pocket (see previous post for picture). With newer technology, however, the processors are small enough to fit on the earpiece with the microphone. The speech processor sorts and digitizes the sound into a code of electrical signals, which travels to the transmitting coil. This is the circular shaped part of the device that attaches to the skull behind the ear via magnet (illustrated on the left).
This is a picture of the electrode array.
This part is inserted into the cochlea,
which is why the array has a spiral shape.

At this point, the sound moves to the internal components of the cochlear implant via the skin by means of FM radio signal, at which point it reaches the receiver/stimulator. The receiver/stimulator is the part that contains the internal magnet (it sits directly beneath the transmitting coil). From there, the sound is distributed to the electrode array. By definition, an electrode is a conductor which allows electricity to transfer across items that are nonmetallic (i.e. skin). The electrode array is a collection of tiny electrodes (current cochlear implants can have up to 24), each of which stimulates an area of the auditory nerve fiber inside the cochlea. Finally, the nerve notifies the brain that sound occurred. The more active electrodes that stimulate the nerve, the better the sound quality for the patient.

As technology advances, changes occur with cochlear implants. They are becoming much easier to use and are significantly more cosmetically appealing that they were ten years ago. The third and final post about cochlear implants will be about the latest design/features of cochlear implants--stay tuned!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cochlear Implants: Part 1

In the profession of Speech Pathology, one type of service provided is aural rehabilitation. Aural rehabilitation refers to helping people with hearing losses adjust to their loss and learn how to communicate using the resources available to them, whether that be using manual communication (sign language), using a hearing aid or cochlear implant, or using alternative augmentative communication devices, as were discussed in my last post.

The gadget that I will focus on now, is the cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is an electronic device that provides direct stimulation to the auditory nerve, which is responsible for sound perception. This is helpful to people who have hearing loss due to structural abnormalities, but does not help people whose hearing loss is due to deficits with the brain receiving the message. The device is implanted into the cochlea, which is a structure of the inner ear and is depicted here.

A cochlear implant has two basic components: the external component and the internal component. The external component (pictured here) consists of a microphone, a speech processor, and a transmitter. The internal component consists of a receiver, a stimulator, and the electrode array.

Cochlear implants are highly complex devices. Now that you have been introduced to the device itself, stay tuned to my next post, which will focus on how the device works.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mobile app of the Month (March)

This month's (March) mobile app is "Words With Friends". The game is free and available for both iPhone and Android. One cool feature that this app does is it allows users iPhone and users Android to play each other in the game. The game is based off of the board game, Scrabble, and has the same basic rules. The difference is in how players play the game. First, after installing the app, you make a username. Then, you give your username to a friend you wish to play against. Once you start a game, the first player lays down his or her word. The app communicates with a server which tells the other player that it is their turn. The game plays as fast or as slow as the players respond to the notices that it is their turn to play. The real fun begins when you have multiple games going on with different people. I do not know if you can have a three player game, because I've never tried, but if I can find two other people willing to try, we can take a look. Now, I'm handing out my Words with Friends username, but if I get spam from you people, then I will be forced to stop using the app. I'm interested in people who are willing and actually wanting to play the game. My username is "pat4102"

Monday, March 14, 2011

Computer mice

I found myself buying another mouse today. I purchased a mouse about 6 months ago, but the wireless USB plug-in was damaged when my apartment flooded. I have the replacement part coming from China, but I may not have it until May. I needed a mouse before then, so I was off to Office Depot. First I will briefly explain the features of modern mice, and for my conclusion, I will tell you guys what mouse I ended up purchasing. 

Now, let's talk about different kinds of mice on the market. The three features that define a mouse are: number of buttons, type of optics used to sense motion, and kind of connection between the computer and the mouse. Let's talk about the first feature. I commonly see three different options on the market today. They are: red LED, blue LED, red LASER. Most mice on the market are the red LED variety, but most high end mice are red laser variety. Microsoft is selling a blue LED brand, the blue color is supposedly better at reflecting off surfaces on which the red light from other products do not work correctly.

Let's talk about buttons. I like a left and right click button, with a scroll wheel, and what I call the 'go back' button. They are usually on the side of the mouse and allow you to return to the former screen without clicking on the "undo" or "go back" buttons. You can buy mice with  8 to 10 buttons that can be mapped to all sorts of commands. I have never owned one of these mice, however, because they are kind of expensive. The last feature to look for is how the mouse talks to the computer. Nearly all new mice use USB, but from there, you can go in many different directions.  Some options out there are: 2.4 GHz wireless, Bluetooth wireless, USB cord, and Infra Red.  

So...I ended up buying the Microsoft blue LED, so I will report back on how well they work in a few weeks.  I have a computer table that I have had trouble with mice being able to reflect enough light to work well. This new mouse works fine on it, so that's an early vote of confidence. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pictures of ViewSonic G-tablet

Google has been sending people to my site who are looking for information on the ViewSonic G-tablet. So I took a few pictures of the device, to better describe the device to people who are looking at purchasing one. The picture below are from some of the most used applications and games. Starting from the top going down we have: A wide screen view of the New York Times, Quake 3 for android, Kindle on Android main menu, Launcher Pro running on 2.2 Froyo, a full screen You-Tube video, a full screen image, A Kindle eBook, New York times running in Firefox, a level of Angry Birds, my app drawer, the Android market, and the load screen for Angry Birds. If anyone is interested in other applications, let me know. I can download them and report back how well they work on the tablet.


















































Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cool phone of the month March, Nokia C6-01

This month's phone is from Europe. Last month, we looked at an Android phone, but I want people to know that there are other phone operating systems out there other than the ones developed in North America (Android-USA, iPhone-USA, Windows Phone-USA, Blackberry-Canada, HP WebOS-USA). The phone of the month is the Nokia C6-01. This is a smaller phone, but still a smart phone. It comes with a 640x360 resolution screen, as compared with the typical 840x480 screen you commonly find on other modern smartphones. It comes unlocked from Nokia, and can run the AT&T or T-Mobile network. This phone runs Symbianˆ3, which Nokia developed and has been using for some time. My last phone was a Nokia. It was well built and still looked new even after two years. This phone does have an app store that has a lot of apps from Europe. One note I would like to make is that this phone is not "4G", right now I think "4G" is not a reason to buy a phone. Most people do not live in an area where 4G is available and end up paying for a service they can't receive. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Questions about Netflix?


I had a comment posted from fellow blogger about Netflix and Blockbuster, here is the comment:

I have been thinking lately about if/when Blockbuster will go under because of the serious competition from Netflix. I subscribed to Netflix for about 3 months, however due to my infrequent movie watching, I decided it was a better deal to rent from Blockbuster since I only periodically rent movies. What are your thoughts on this Patrick? Will Blockbuster find a way to stay relevant or will its members continue to remain faithful despite the convenience of Netflix and iTunes selling/renting movies?
Look forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter! Make sure to check out my blog at www.rushhourvirtues.blogspot.com.


My family has had Netflix for some time. At first, we used the DVD rental service almost exclusively. Over the years, however, Netflix has worked hard to make their "Watch Instantly" service one-of-a-kind. I have not watched a real DVD in about 6 months. Anyone that subscribes to Netflix should consider trying to watch all your favorite movies and shows over the internet instead of waiting for the disc to come in the mail. Netflix allows for a stream only service for a couple dollar savings per month that could make the deal a little sweeter for people that do not watch a lot of movies.

In my opinion, Blockbuster is dead. They cannot compete with Red Box in the local DVD rental market, and they can't compete with Netflix in the Internet streaming market. Their business plan relies on expensive buildings staffed by employees. Red Box allows for the same DVDs through a vending machine, for a much cheaper price. The only advantage Blockbuster has over their competitors is that they carry a wide selection of older movies. Also, Blockbuster has had time to develop a strong customer base. I do not believe this to be a great advantage, however, because most people don't care where the movie comes from, as long as it's the movie they want to watch.

Now, onto iTunes. This is huge rip off. Apple does movie rentals through iTunes for $3 or $4, depending on the movie, while Netflix charges $8 for unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows. The story on the internet is that movie rentals over iTunes is not going so well, which anyone can see why. You can pay $8 for all the movies you want or $4 for every single movie.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Alternative and Augmentative Communication

So in one of my first blog posts (Social Media: Michelle's Take), I discussed how gadgets and emerging technology have changed the way people communicate. I gave the examples of texting rather than calling and not having to know people's phone numbers. But now I'd like to take it a step further and discuss how some gadgets help give a voice to people who would otherwise not have one.

According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association, "Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas (www.asha.org)." Although this often involves simple techniques such as using exaggerated facial expressions, symbols, gestures, or written words, it may also involve specialized gadgets. The type of AAC device used depends heavily on the individual using it and what his/her specific needs are. Some people who may choose to use an AAC would be those with autism, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, Multiple Sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, or those with visual or intellectual impairments, along with a wide variety of people outside those categories with speech or language deficits.

Here are a few of the many options available for alternative augmentative communication devices:

The first picture (from aac-rerc.psu.edu) is a series of communication booklets. Each booklet contains images about different topics. Here, topics include food items, clothing items, and feelings. A person would point to different pictures to communicate his/her wants and needs.



This picture (from www.prestoimages.net) is of a product called The Ring. This is a set of 20 different phrases held together on a key-chain that a person can use to aid in communication. The key-chain format may be easier for some people to carry around because of its smaller size, but the booklets, although larger, allow for many different types of phrases.




Another AAC device, which is more of a "gadget," is called The Big Talk. This device is a single message communicator that can play a recorded message up to 20 seconds. Often, a person would use more than one of these to be able to communicate basic needs. For example, someone who could communicate no other way may be given two of these. One recorded to say "yes," and the other recorded to say "no." This would allow them to answer yes/no questions, which for some people, is a huge deal. (Picture from www.abledata.com)

The last device I want to share with you is one of the many computer type devices available, called The Vantage. This is the only AAC I have had personal experience with, and in my opinion, it is one of the best out there. It is a small computer that has multiple pages of icons, each with a different message that can be generic or personalized. I really like this device because you are never limited in your response. If there is no icon for the response you want to give, you can type in your own. The computer reads all the responses aloud as the words appear across
a small screen. (Picture from www.tecsol.com)

There are so many different kinds of AAC devices, but these are the highlights. Despite how simple they may seem, they can make a huge difference in the lives of some people.

Full G-tablet review

As promised (although a little late), here is my final opinion of the Viewsonic G-tablet. By now I've owned this thing for about 2 weeks. As I stated in my "first thought" post, I installed a custom version of Android on the tablet. The version that came with the device was not up to par for what a customer needs. If you are looking at buying a tablet and not willing to install an operating system, then I would say this tablet is not for you.
There are many good reasons to want this tablet. Among them are: it has a good price point, long battery life, powerful hardware and vast developer backing. I purchased my G-tablet from office depot for $380. Although this may sound high, the hardware specs are on par with the Motorola Xoom $800 and the iPad2 $500. The tablet is thicker than both these devices, but that is most likely due to a larger battery. The Viewsonic G-tablet and the Moto Xoom use exactly the same processor, (Nvidia Tegra 2) so similar performance can be expected for half the price. I do have a family member with an iPad, and I have a different family member with an iPad2 on order. Once that device is delivered, I will write a comparison and contrast of the three devices.
Lets talk about look and feel. Android is fast. it feels quicker than my Droid X, which it should because it has twice the processing power. The screen looks good, but not as good as the iPad in the dark color ranges. The buttons are not real buttons, you just touch the surface where they are located, so you can hit them on accident. The tablet was intended to be held in landscape mode, but I have found it much more convenient to hold it in portrait mode. This puts the buttons either at the top or bottom of the screen (personal preference), but they are sideways. One other gripe I have is that the interface buttons are not in the same position as the other Android devices I have come across. Since I have two Android devices with the navigation buttons in a different order, I will never get quick with either device. Kindle, which is the main reason I bought a tablet runs great on the device. Games also run great. All but one of the games installed and worked fine with the native screen resolution. One issue is that the tablet runs a mobile browser but has the resolution of a regular netbook. When you go to a web site and get redirected to a mobile site, it can be annoying to move back to the normal web site. This is not a problem with the device, but the way the browser gives information about the device to a web site. In conclusion I think this is a great tablet.  I can recommend it to anyone with a moderate to high level of computer knowledge. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Place Flooded

Lately, I have been really bad about posting on this blog. I feel you may forgive me, however, when I tell you that my apartment flooded from a strong storm. So, Sunday night I went to bed a 1 AM and awoke about an hour later to my computer making funny sounds. You know the sound Windows makes when you put in and pull out a USB drive? My computer kept making that sound. So I got out of bed to go check it out. When my feet hit the floor, I hit water. I flipped on the light and walked out to my living room and found about an inch of water, with more running in under the door. After calling for backup, Michelle, my neighbors and I used one gallon ice cream buckets to bail the water back out the front door. The rain started to slow down after about a half hour, and the sump pumps (there are three of them) were keeping the water down, so no more was flowing into my apartment. We were able to push a large amount of water from the carpets out the door with flat cookie sheets. The apartment's maintenance showed up and gave us (me and my neighbors) a water vacuum. We sucked up gallons of water. At about 5 AM, a 24 hour clean up crew showed up and swept up a lot of the water we hadn't gotten to yet. I got to bed about 6 o'clock in the morning and slept until noon. If anyone was wondering, I didn't miss any class or assignments do to the flood. It has taken several days to get the apartment back to normal (AKA not reeking), but it's finally dried out, for the most part.

So that's my story. I'm back on track now, so stay posted for more about gadgets!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Netflix

Netflix is neither a gadget, nor an application for a gadget (kinda).  For those people that live under rocks, here is a quick explanation. Netflix has two business units. The first is what they started doing when they were founded, which was renting DVDs via mail. Customers sign up online and make a list of movies that are then mailed to the customer.  The second part of their business  is streaming movies and TV shows to computers, TVs, and now, mobile devices.  In most cases, the wireless network carriers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint) do not have the speed needed to stream video over their network.  But if you have an iPhone, or Windows phone, you can stream Netflix over WiFi.  Netflix is hard at work to increase the number of shows and movies on their streaming service. My family has an account with Netflix and I would recommend the service to anybody with a broadband connection. The movie and show selection has greatly improved since we became customers (back in '08), and hopefully will continue to improve. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Different versoins of android

Sorry for not posting in a while--busy week!

Most of the people reading this blog know what Android is. For those who do not, it's an open source operating system for cell phones, media players, and tablets. In one of my past posts, I listed a couple different versions of the OS. Some people were confused by the different names given to each version. This is my attempt to clean up some of the confusion. First things first. Google, the maker of Android, gives a "code name" to each version of the operating system. They are as follows:

Android 1.0 and 1.1                       No code name
Android 1.5                                   Cupcake
Android 1.6                                   Doughnut
Android 2 and 2.1                         Eclair
Android 2.2                                  Froyo
Android 2.3                                  Gingerbread
Android for Tablets 3                   Honeycomb
Android for Tablets 3.x                Ice cream sandwich



Most cell phones are currently running 2.1, 2.2, or 2.3. Gingerbread did not release too terribly long ago, so it is still being rolled out to many cell phones. Tablets, which is an emerging market, unfortunately, still run mostly on 2.2 (Froyo). It works fine, but Froyo is designed for cell phone sized screens. Many makers and home brew Android fans are hard at work porting Honeycomb to their devices.          



I intend to have a full review of the tablet I purchased very soon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Break from Gadgets

A reader had a question with regard to the post about tympanometers. The question and the answer are as follows:

Question: You mentioned that a problematic chart could indicate a hole in the eardrum? What causes this? Is it genetic and is there an operation that could fix this?

Answer: Although it may be possible that a hole in the eardrum be genetic, I have never heard of such a case, and it would be rare. The most common cause of eardrum perforation is trauma or infection. Examples of trauma would include: a direct strike/blow to the ear, skull fracture, explosion, foreign objects (this includes Q-Tips) being pushed too far into the ear, or burns--either from heat or chemicals. If they are severe enough, infections could also cause holes in the eardrum.

In most cases, the eardrum will heal on its own within a few weeks, or a few months. If, for some reason, the eardrum does not heal on its own, a physician may decide to try and patch it up. This technique involves covering the eardrum in a chemical that facilitates growth/healing and covering it with a piece of paper patch. This can be done in the physician's office and may need to be done several times before the hole properly heals. If the hole is too big to be patched, or if the patch does not work, surgery can be performed to fix it. This outpatient surgery, called tympanoplasty, involves using a small piece of skin to cover the hole and is quite successful.

For more details or further clarification, you can visit the website where I found this information: www.entnet.org.