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Submission + - Building an assistive reading device? 1

RulerOf writes: "A few years ago, my girlfriend's grandfather was diagnosed Macular Degeneration. Ever since, he has had progressively more trouble with daily activities. While his wife and family are able to help him with most things, at the age of 88 and without many living friends left, he dearly misses the ability to read printed text. He was able to get by for some time with magnifying glasses and other basic aids but now even those do not help.

Recently, a local clinic which specializes in treatment for low-sight and blind individuals made him aware of and showed him several assistive reading devices that successfully allowed him to read. He mentioned this to his family members, and when I was told about it, I thought that these devices sounded like they were not much more than a camera attached to an LCD monitor or television with a little bit of special software thrown into the mix. Some investigation online turns up products such as these, and their prices are so prohibitively high ($2400-$3000) that the manufacturer won't even list them on their website. Furthermore, the effects that these devices can apply to the picture they output look awfully similar to the effects filters built into many webcams, and the ability to zoom and pan a live view of the screen is something that I've done effortlessly for years on OS X, and that I know exists in many Linux desktop environments.

My current plan is to try to build something like this with a used Mac Mini, a Logitech HD Webcam with a full-screen view of the camera always up, and a Magic Trackpad to control zoom level and screen position, plugged into a huge LCD TV that he already owns.

Have any of you ever built something like this? Am I wrong in thinking that the ease of use would be comparable to the purpose built devices when configured correctly? Is this something that might work better with a newer nettop device, a digital camera or camcorder, and Windows (where I'm skilled at automating things) or Linux at the core instead?"
Games

Submission + - Valve Announces DotA 2 (gameinformer.com)

RulerOf writes: Just over a year after hiring IceFrog, the lead developer of the wildly popular DotA Allstars mod for Warcraft III, and the speculation surrounding Valve's recent trademark filing for the "DotA" name, Valve has officially announced DotA 2.

Gameplay of DotA 2 is being ported exactly from the current DotA Allstars and includes every hero, but vast improvements are being made to the game including VoIP, a coaching system, in-game rewards, and AI that takes over for disconnected players. Lastly, it all runs on top of the Source engine.

GameInformer's website appears to be struggling right now though, as they had an exclusive on this story.

Submission + - J.D. Salinger, American Author, Dead at 91 (nytimes.com)

RulerOf writes: J.D. Salinger, most notorious for his authorship of "The Catcher in the Rye," published in 1951, died yesterday, January 27th, 2010, at the age of 91.

Aside from his subsequent fame derived from "Catcher," Salinger was also ironically well known for his reclusive nature, living in seclusion in Cornish, N.H. for more than 50 years. In spite of an injury sustained early last year, it's stated that Salinger died of natural causes.

From the article: "Despite having broken his hip in May," the agency said, "his health had been excellent until a rather sudden decline after the new year. He was not in any pain before or at the time of his death."

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