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DQMusicBox – making music accessible to dementia sufferers — now easier

November 26, 2015

dqmusicbox1x1It is now easier to make a DQMusicBox. You can make one in an afternoon — fewer parts, no soldering.

My dad loves music but has enough dementia that he cannot operate normal music players. But he can use the music player that I just made for him, because it operates like a familiar old two-knob radio.

I was inspired to make a music box for my Dad by the documentary Alive Inside which shows that some people with dementia feel more alive when listening to their favorite music. So I tried this with Dad. There was sustained joy on his face – joy from the familiar music and joy from the fact that nothing else in the frustrating world mattered for a few minutes.

As maker projects go, DQMusicBox is pretty easy. For an overview, see the video below. For details, see the build instructions.

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Making music accessible to dementia sufferers – my maker project

September 7, 2015

dqmusicbox1x1My dad loves music but has enough dementia that he cannot operate normal music players. But he can use the music player that I just made for him, because it operates like a familiar old two-knob radio. I published the plans (see below), so you can do this too.

I was inspired to make a music box for my Dad by the documentary Alive Inside which shows that some people with dementia come alive when listening to their favorite music. So I tried this with Dad and some good headphones. There was sustained joy on his face – joy from the familiar music and joy from the fact that nothing else in the frustrating world mattered for a few minutes.

DQMusicBox is a maker project. Takes about two hours to build, once you have the parts & music. No soldering or special tools are required.

For more information, see the build plans.

Getting My Geek on in 1994

August 20, 2011

I just discovered that a web page that I created in the spring of 1994 is still live. It’s geek in at least four ways. First, who created web pages in 1994? Second, the actual source of the page is my awk script that converts from a custom nroff format to HTML. Third, the page documents code that I wrote to give an ancient some digital sound capability — I repurposed an analog plotter board to instead drive an audio amplifier. Fourth, this page is part of a project where I tried to cleanly document everything I knew about the highly specialized hardware and software in the lab before moving to Seattle. That included fully documenting a custom real-time UNIX-derived operating system. I created a lot of web pages & web systems that spring. That was great geek fun.

DIY Whole House Audio

June 28, 2011

One of my sabbatical projects was to put in a whole house audio system.  Total cost: $20. And some solid effort. I dusted off an old laptop and installed Vortexbox. Vortexbox is an audio swiss army knife, based on a specialized and simplified Linux distribution.  It rips CDs to the lossless FLAC format and automatically converts FLAC files to MP3, ALAC , and WAV. It serves music to Squeezebox systems, Sonos systems, iTunes, and Zune. iTunes on my wife’s Mac indexes but does not wastefully duplicate the music on the Vortexbox Server. iPhone syncing works as expected. Ditto for Zune on my PC. I put Squeezebox player software on the various house computers e.g. the media center PC.  You might choose to use a Squeezebox appliance or a Sonos appliance instead. This sounds complicated, but my wife can control the whole system from her iPhone.  Ditto for my Windows Phone and iPad. What really matters is that we listen to our music more, and that makes us happy.

I Wrote an App for My Son

June 24, 2011
Kid Jokes - free WinPhone app

Kid Jokes - free WinPhone app

It’s a pleasure to write code. There are many pleasures in the software business. It’s definitely fun to create a new business. It’s definitely rewarding to take care of a team. But there’s just something about writing code. I wanted to write some code for my new Windows Phone. My son is 8 and loves to tell jokes.  So I created a teleprompter-like jokebook, seeded with 100 jokes for the 2nd grade set.  It’s not a highly polished app, but if you have a similar kid, you might have fun with it.  And you’ll probably recognize many of the jokes — it’s amazing how 2nd grade jokes haven’t changed that much in a generation.  The app is “Kid Jokes: age 8“, free in the Windows Phone Marketplace.