Anybody who read the classic American tale Johnny Got His Gun has a slight comprehension of what it’s like to live trapped within your own body, incapable to move, nod, speak or even blink. The mind reels; the body does nothing. Unfortunately, this form of communication-stripped torture isn’t a fictional tale but a reality for many with Locked-in Syndrome (it was featured in the House episode with Mos Def guest starring), which is why the new functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scanner, Brain Bee, that can translate brain waves into words — is a big deal.
This new system empowers fully paralyzed and ‘locked-in’ people to mentally select letters of the alphabet in their brain, which are recognized and typed out on a screen, serving as a brain-based, non-communicative communication system for those unable to speak, sign or blink to indicate their needs. Researchers are able to recognize letter-based thought patterns by using characteristic blood flow patterns.
Before you conjure up images of telepathy or Vulcan mind melds though, this technology is a little more difficult than that to use. In order to ‘think’ of a letter the technology divides the alphabet into three rows, nine columns and 27 squares (26 letters of the alphabet plus the space bar). Each row is assigned a mental task, a motor-imagery task, a mental calculation task and an inner-speech task, that the subject must perform to select the row. The letters then cycle through and the subject selects the correct one by performing the task as the letter appears on screen. It is a time-consuming process but the technology is rather easy to learn, with test subjects learning it in under an hour.
The system has passed the theoretical and initial testing stages and has become a concept system. Although it is still in its initial phases — it has already shown promising results.
TagThisAn effort to allow collective crowd tagging
Ever since the first public beta of WordPress 2.3, a nagging itch had kept me worried — “How and who the hell will tag my old articles?” Tags are awesome but ‘are you sure you have tagged your post effectively?’, ‘will you go back and be able to tag all your older articles?’
Well, I searched for a similar or near-similar plugins which can accomplish this feat of tagging by your reader, and blog visitors. Unfortunately, Google was unable to find me anything I can use. I went ahead and drafted a plan for a custom plugin. I approached few ‘awesome’ WordPress Plugin developers and about five of them agreed to collaborate with me to come up with a plugin which we can release to the public under the GPL license. The good part was that most the developer were ready to do it for free. With schedule clashes and mis-timings with the other developers; I finally ended up with a kick-ass developer — Anirudh Sanjeev.
The development took way longer than anticipated due to many timeline hurdles, project clashes and yes, we got a bit lazy along the way. Fortunately, with a refreshed iteration of the project, a WordPress Plugin to allow your blog readers and visitors to tag your posts (articles) is ready — “TagThis”.
I was looking for reviews, price list, comparisons while I was planning to buy my first DSLR. I settled for the Nikon D40x as it came under my budget and I think I made a good choice for an entry level, hobby photography DSLR.
During my planning process, co-incidentally, a client of mine emailed me about TestFreaks, a new aggregator kinda sites that pulls in reviews, test, etc from blogs, forums and news sites. I won’t say the site is one stop point for all your reviews reading but it does prove to be a good starting point. They are expected to start their private beta soon, sign-up if you wish to be invited.