Jane Dallaway

Jane Dallaway

Often found in front of a computer, loom or sewing machine.

Software developer by trade. Weaver and photographer by hobby. Dog owner by design. This blog has elements of them all.

Maintainer of 30yearsagotoday.com and brightonbloggers.com


Email: jane @ dallaway.com
Twitter: @janedallaway
Flickr: janed
Instagram: janed

  • Mildly disturbing product messaging 

    Just a couple of examples of marketing messaging that I've noticed, but not necessarily for the right reasons.

    Firstly, my apple juice was a bit over friendly. I'm not sure I want my apple juice to speak to me. It's a bit Restaurant at the end of the universe.

    My apple juice is a bit over-friendly

    and then I bought a bag of dog treats for the dog which encourages me to call them and bark at them. Kinky!


  • Kindle helper scripts now in ruby 

    In recent months the length of time it was taking to run my applescript version of the Kindle Helper Scripts was getting out of hand. It was upwards of 3 hours. Time for a refactor. As I wrote at the time my knowledge of applescript was basic so this wasn't a great suprise. I decided to rewrite using ruby as I'm doing some ruby scripting at work. And as it is vaguely related to my day job I got to spend a couple of hours doing it as part of a hack afternoon. It is always good to have a real project to practice new languages in after all.

    The new script takes seconds to run instead of hours. So is much more usable. It runs from the command line. It has 3 parameters, the first 2 of which are essential:

    • Parameter 1: path to the My Clippings.txt file
    • Parameter 2: path to the folder where the output is to go
    • Parameter 3: (optional) an indicator that the location should be output (i.e. page number, line number etc)

    Here's how I call it:

    ruby parse_my_clippings.rb "/Users/jane/Dropbox/My Clippings.txt" "/Users/jane/Dropbox/Clippings"

    I've tested it using ruby 2.1.2 on a mac. And a different 2.0+ version on a pc. It works using the format of My Clippings.txt from my kindle (which is in English). If you have a different set up to this then YMMV.

  • Grandpas photos 

    Family around 1968 in Bridlington

    A newsletter I subscribe to sent me a link to Grandpa's photos this morning. It is almost a crowd sourced version of the storyline/timeline stuff I've done for Mum. It allows people to look at the photos and share their ideas about where and sometimes when Grandpa took the photograph. I'm lucky that Mum had written on the back of so many of our family photographs so I didn't need to do this. Like the one above. But it is great that so many people are helping Grandpa reconnect with his travels. Such a heart warming use of the web.

  • On robot carers 

    I have had a blog post brewing about robot carers for the elderly for a while. Two projects that they showcased on the BBCs Horizon Longitude prize programme were dementia related assistive technologies. One was a robot carer. The other was a sensor driven kitchen which guided and reassured. I found it concerning that we were willing to let our weakest citizens try out new methods of automated care. Not to mention that it sounded neglectful. Like we didn't value our older citizens and just wanted the easiest way to cope with them. That was the trigger and I've mulling it over since then.

    Before I continue it is important to state my contextual shifts. I was thinking about it in the context of my Mum and how she would have adjusted to a robot's presence. Now I'm thinking about myself, and my future as well. I was also comparing a robot carer against a friendly and familiar carer. I'm now considering the other alternatives - no carer, abusive carer or exhausted carer. This article made me reassess my position. You should read it in full, but I've quoted from it below.

    When talking about one of her patients Louise Aronson says:

    I have little to offer for the two conditions that dominate her days: loneliness and disability. She has a well-meaning, troubled daughter in a faraway state, a caregiver who comes twice a week, a friend who checks in on her periodically, and she gets regular calls from volunteers with the Friendship Line.

    It's not enough. Like most older adults, she doesn't want to be "locked up in one of those homes." What she needs is someone who is always there, who can help with everyday tasks, who will listen and smile.

    What she needs is a robot caregiver.

    That may sound like an oxymoron. In an ideal world, it would be: Each of us would have at least one kind and fully capable human caregiver to meet our physical and emotional needs as we age. But most of us do not live in an ideal world, and a reliable robot may be better than an unreliable or abusive person, or than no one at all.

    And that's the thing. Ideal care isn't available to everyone. So I think I'd rather be safe and in a familiar environment. I'm not thinking of it as a complete replacement for human care and interaction. But an addition. Something to help keep the person engaged and stimulated. It shouldn't be too hard to program the caring robot with knowledge about the person behind the disease. What did they enjoy doing? Do they like to do crosswords and could it help them with one? Could it talk through photographs, or discuss art with them? And even in that ideal world, it could that free up a carer to focus on something else for a time.

    And then, because my patient loves to read but her eyesight is failing, the caregiver robot would offer to read to her. Or maybe it would provide her with a large-print electronic display of a book, the lighting just right for her weakened eyes. After a while the robot would say, "I wonder whether we should take a break from reading now and get you dressed. Your daughter's coming to visit today."

    Somehow, it doesn't feel quite so neglectful in this context.

  • Custom cushion for rescued chair 

    Attached to chair — front view

    When I created my craft space I brought down a folding chair from the loft. My parents bought two of these chairs from Ikea years ago and when I emptied the family home I kept them just in case they came in handy. One thing I noticed when I tried it was that the back of the chair had no cushioning. And so it made my back a bit sore when I had the extra force of my loom in my lap. I experimented with various cushions but they were all a bit deep. Time to create.

    I had some batting left over from the quilted sofa cover and it was the exact width of the top of the chair. When folded over it was a pretty decent depth. Not deep enough to push me too far forward. But providing enough cushioning to make it more comfortable. That was the padding sorted out.

    The decoration in our spare room (my craft space) is pretty simple. It has warm pale brown coloured walls. A brown futon (though you can't see that any more as I've covered it in a burnt orange throw). Lots and lots of bookshelves. And a Mark Rothko print on the wall. The name of the print is "Untitled (Orange and Yellow)". And it is exactly those colours. I'm currently weaving a cushion cover to match the print. So these are becoming the colour theme for my craft space. When I looked in my stash of fabrics I found a matching fat quarter that I'd been looking for a great use for since Christmas. And I had some matching grey fabric in there too.

    So I got to planning. I sketched out how I thought I could get it to attach to the chair. The back has a hole in it, so I figured I'd use some straps and tie the cushion on.

    And so to sewing. I made the straps to be about 3/4" wide which meant that turning them right side out was a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, another thing I rescued from my family home were some of Mum's knitting needles and so I used a thick and blunt one of those.

    Chair back cushion

    I sewed the straps into the fabric (and got them in the right place, and the right direction first time!). And then wiggled the seam down so that it was in line with the hole. The seam runs along the middle of the back panel, rather than at the top or bottom. And is thus pretty much invisible when in place. I sewed one end completely, and the edges of the other end before finally turning it right side out and forcing the batting in. Having got it looking like a cushion all that remained was a few inches of ladder stitch.

    Attached to chair — rear view

    So far it is holding up pretty well. I'm not sure how long it'll last for as I'm sure at some point the straps will separate from the fabric. But at the moment I'm pleased with it. I love the fabric. My plan worked without deviation. And I'm even happy with quality of the sewing. Result!