Open captions project

Saw this in one of the email threads on the video caption project at Google.

URL: Open Captions.com.

John Schimmel, a resident researcher on Assistive Technology at the NYU’s graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program, thought of an idea where instead of relying on a content owner to put captions on videos, he created a website where a community of know-how volunteers can help with making captions for non-captioned videos. That’s an awesome idea!

I think we have gotten too practiced to the point that every time we see videos or TV with no captions, we just scream. “Waahh!! no CC!!? don’t they know any better? haven’t they heard of Deaf people before or the ADA law!? they ARE required to have CC!! I’m going to boycott that network!! start a petition now!” Not that there’s anything wrong with that but I think that pretty much gets us nowhere and even if we write letters, we’d be 100 years old by the time we finally see that show getting captioned.

The power is in our hands now. Next time you see a video that’s not captioned? Simply, make a request on that website above and hopefully, someone with a good heart will notice your request and make captions for that video.

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Sheetz Fizzonator

Only 89 cents to refill 52 oz jug. Incredible! Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless

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Telecaption II

Wow! The first caption decoder. Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless

Deaf Winter Olympics!

I just bought a plane ticket to Salt Lake City in Utah, the host place for 16th Deaf Winter Olympics. It’s gonna be my first time attending the Olympics. Should be tons of fun! My friend, Bak, has reserved a condo with 8 people crashing where we’ll be snowboarding and going to sporting events.

Before I could swing over to SLC, I’ll fly to Mountain View again to help out with giving a visit to a group of deaf students from CSDF who will be visiting Google headquarters. I’m looking forward to that.

When I get into SLC, I plan to blog often, take lots of pictures, meet a lot of people and try to write like Bill Bryson.

Stay tuned!

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Tags Cloud

I’ve been meaning to add this really cool plug-in called Tags Cloud and finally got around to it. What supposed to be about thirty minutes of getting this plug-in to be functional has turned into a 3 hours efforts. A big chunk of that time consumption was updating posts with tags instead of being in categories and I’ve still got about 300 posts that are still untagged. Ugh. But as you can see, it’s soo much better than categories and much more flexible. When I write a post, it can be a little hard deciding which category it should belong to and it also might overlap with other categories. Tags are much more clicking-friendly too, as shown in the sidebar. It’s similar to the delicious website.

You can pretty much tell what things I’m interested in and my identity, according to the “Tags Cloud”. Obviously, I identify myself as a Deaf person and Korean adoptee next. Ofc, I love cars and traveling. I had a nice time re-reading through those posts. It gives out same feeling when you’re looking thru your old pictures and go “oh hey, I remember this…”

I remember I had one good discussion with my friend, Jason. We discussed and realized that writing or blogging is really vital to us because by the time we grow older and closer to the end of our life, it’s gonna be all what we will have left and our memory not so sharp. Our pictures, papers we wrote, posts we typed, the “documentation” of our life. Sure, there will be people who would remember how or what we were like and pass on stories but it’s nothing like writing because we share our thoughts and feelings as we try to record what we went through life. That’s a major reason why I decided to blog at least everyday.

I. Can’t. Wait. To. Go. Snowboarding. this Weekend!

Enuff said.

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Blackberry 8800 vs 8700

I think I’ll switch to 8800 when it comes out and sell mine on the craigslist, aka Kyung’s method. ;-)

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Snow!

Finally we have snow!
Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless

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Gallaudet Bison logo

Something interesting happened. I have a program that keeps track of my web statistics and one of them is a search keyword that tells me what people enter and leads them to my blog. There’s a whole bunch of different keywords but one keyword caught my attention.

Google Search: Gallaudet Bison Logo

Click the link above. You’ll see that my blog comes out first at the top on Google. What? Are you serious? my blog is the most relevant for that search? more relevant than any Gallaudet’s webpage? Boy, Gallaudet ought hire a professional web consultant to help bring more traffic to their website and indexes every page. I think I did read somewhere that Gallaudet has paid a lot of money to redesign their front page.

Since people were trying to find a logo for Gallaudet, I feel bad that I let them down as I didn’t put up a logo so here’s one here!

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A Series of Interesting Guesses

Another repost. This is probably one of my favorite posts I wrote.

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If there could be one thing I’m envious of hearing people, other than being able to talk on phone and enjoy music, it’s to eavesdrop other people’s conversations. Like when I’m in the airport, waiting for my flight in a hub, I get curious what they are saying. Or at a bookstore and I’d pretend I’m reading a book but actually eavesdropping someone’s conversation. I suspect this is how hearing people become well-versed in English while we deaf people have to rely on a lot of reading to catch up.

Today, I went to Barnes and Noble bookstore to use up my giftcard someone gave me for my birthday. I bought this book titled “Neither here and there.” by Bill Bryson, about his travel experience in Europe. Wow, I really want to go to Europe so badly. Bill Byson is definitely my favorite author; something about his writing that totally captivates me and how much I can relate to his thoughts. As I was reading, I froze upon this paragraph and made me wonder that perhaps it’s not so bad I cannot eavesdrop people’s conversations.

“When I told friends in London that I was going to travel around Europe and write a book about it, they said, “Oh, you must speak a lot of languages.”

“Why, no,” I would reply with a certain pride, “only English,” and they would look at me as if I were foolish or crazy. But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”

Except mine is a lifetime on a series of interesting guesses. :-)

What is it really like to be Deaf?

Thanks to a nap I recently took, approximately from 5 pm to 7 pm, I couldn’t sleep despite the fact I finished reading a new book I started two days ago, Freakonomics, which is a fascinating book btw. Thanks to my little friend in my head, I thought about a few things and thought I’d write a few words about what it’s like to be a Deaf person.

A good start to this would be to ask, “how did I become deaf?” Well, pathologically, the cause is unknown but it is possibly hereditary because I was born deaf, and so was my older sister. However, we’re the only ones who are deaf in our family. So, I’ve been deaf since I was born. Ironically enough, it’s my deafness that has brought me here in America. Otherwise, I’d be still in Korea with my family and probably would be working on some rice farm or studying to become a priest. My sister’s husband is a priest, so to speak. I don’t know which is more blessing: being deaf and here in America or being hearing and stay with the family in Korea. Either way, I’m happy with who I am and where I ended up in.

Now, onto being a Deaf person, it annoys the hell out of me when a hearing person says “Oh, I wish I could be deaf like you, so I don’t have to be bothered by all those noises or having to hear those awful things.” Bull$hit. That is like telling a blind person that you wish you’re blind so you don’t see awful things (would you say porn is an awful thing to see?) on TV. I’m not gonna pretend/lie here and say that I embrace every moment of being Deaf or that it’s the best thing ever happened to me. I’m telling you right now, being deaf is HARD and if I were to be hearing, I have no doubts I’d be a lot different person than I am now. But again, I do not know if I’m actually better off being Deaf or hearing. I might end up being a drug lord, being homeless on the street or getting killed in Iraq (people with hearing loss can’t serve in army). I could be anything else in such a way that I won’t find myself writing this entry.

Since Deaf people only account less than 1% of the entire U.S. population, Deaf world is a lot like a high school except it’s a lot smaller. We keep bumping each other and everyone knows who f*cked whom. It sucks when you’re trying to date someone; that someone is also your ex-girlfriend’s best friend or roommate. And when you do that, everyone back-stab you and call you a player. Much unlike Hearing world where you could meet a person at a bar, get some alcohol going, having a good time and you both decide to have a little extra fun and spend a night together. The next morning, you may realize it wasn’t what you thought it’d be, you simply walk out and never expect to see her/him again. Case closed. Unfortunately, that isn’t so with the Deaf world.

I take the metro to work everyday so it’s not uncommon when tourists come up at me and ask where the f*ck are they or where they’re supposed to go. Depends on my mood, I may act nice and try to lip-read, which I guess more than I actually lip-read, their mouths. It looks like they want to go to the Washington monument or Union Station, whatever. But admittedly, most of the time, I simply point to my ear and shake my head as to say “sorry, I’m deaf and can’t understand what you say.” Nothing harm, right? Except when tourists happen to be a hot-looking lady in a short shorts with long legs. I’d be more than obliged to be her tour guide and if she’s visiting just for the weekend, perfect. I can show her around the city and she’d be out of my sight by Sunday. (Think of Adam Sandler in “The first 50 dates” with Drew Barrymore).

Food. I can’t really customize my meal as much as a hearing person can. “Hey waiter, this isn’t what I want. I said no condiments on my burger but I want a Swiss cheese and onions. And this is overcooked; I want mine medium-well. Oh, these buns are overburned too.” Or whatever the hell like that. I suppose I could write on some napkin to tell him what I want but he’d still f*ck it up and got my order wrong. So I just mouth, “everything” and when I get the burger, I have to customize it with my fingers or spitting it out of my mouth barbarically. If I’m allergic to something, God bless me.

So, that’s what I have to deal by being Deaf. First of all, you may notice why I keep using capital D, instead of just deaf. Well, you know, being Deaf doesn’t simply mean you cannot hear and still be able to function within the hearing world as if there’s a perfect harmony between us. When you cannot hear a f*cking word since you were born, you perceive the world differently. You learn the language differently. You can only imagine the sounds but never actually hear it. You end up interacting with similar people, not those who could hear. When you have more than one generation who’s also Deaf, the pattern continues and gradually becomes into this world we all have come to know—the Deaf world. We’re not just deaf; we’re Deaf. When we say that, we don’t mean we’re perfect; we all have shortcomings like everybody else and we dream what it’d be like to be a hearing one day, as much as you’d dream abt being a Spider-man, the next U.S. President, or even Bill Gates the Geek. But don’t ever tell us you wish you’re deaf.

Google and Closed Captioning?

Thought I’d repost this to see if deafread.com will pick it up.

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Who could have thought that in one day, closed captioning would “power” Google’s search engine as the source for searching through videos? Google recently introduced Google Video as a means to search through TV programming and used closed captioning (CC) for indexing. What? Google uses closed captioning!? This may appear insignificant to you who don’t have to set on CC to understand the shows, but ever since TV was created, deaf people were all but stuck to watch TV as if people were puppets behind the glass and they had to rely on their imagination to assume what was going on in the shows. (thus, some deaf people have bad-assuming habits.) Finally in 1971, the closed captioning was finally born behind the glass in the line 21 of the vertical blinking interval (VBI) and required a special decoder since hearing people didn’t want to be bothered with the “annoying” black/white lines invading precious space on their televisions.

In partnership between ABC and NBC, they gave a preview to the deaf audience by captioning “The Mob Squad.” Since it was only a preview, it cost them money to provide such a service, and the Federal Government (Dept. of Education and FCC) realized they had to get involved; otherwise, this project would be dead. So, they gave a push to this project and this “experiment” was finally done. Who knew how many petitions and letters had to be done to get the CC into the TVs?

It wasn’t till 8 years later before the first closed captioning was finally broadcast across the U.S. and that was on The ABC Sunday Night Movie, The Wonderful World of Disney (NBC), and Masterpiece Theatre (PBS). Remember the decoders I just mentioned above? Till 1992, only about 400,000 decoders were sold and the gigantic TV networks saw no reason to keep captioning their shows. Without the government’s intervention, CC would have simply gone extinct and we Deaf people would be back to be watching Tom & Jerry than Law & Order ‘cuz it’d give a better comprehension and less assumption work.

So, in 1996, the Congress passed the law to require CC be available on all televisions. (By then, the CC decoder had shrunk to the size of a chip and it didn’t cost manufacturers much to install a decoder chip inside tvs.) Even to this day, not every show is captioned but we have come far since 1980 when only 15 hours a week were captioned and several close encounters with the death of CC due to money talks.

There you have it, a short bit of history on the closed captioning and you can see why somebody like myself is very delighted to see something like Google that is indexing CC as the source for TV information. All of a sudden, it’s not so insignificant anymore and it’s accessible to the millions of people around the world who watch TV, not to the Deaf people only.

Now, TV networks see a reason to keep captioning their shows ‘cuz they know that people will be searching through Google Video, and the more captioning there is, the more likely those people will be led back to the network that provides the captioning. That is a good thing for TV networks. Finally, after 25 years since the first captioning, we may see 100% captioning on all shows and you can say thanks to Google.

**update: a law was just passed that TV shows not for profits don’t have to provide captioning.

My feet

Despite being a man, I’m rather conscious of my own hygiene. I try to shower everyday and wash from my ears to feet. I’d try different shampoo products, preferably the ones that give volume to my hair since my hair foliage must have some Pennzoil in them and my hair becomes very oily within a day or so. So that’s why I gotta shower often to wash and de-oily my hair. I’ve been using Pantene Sheer Volume two-in-one shampoo + conditioner. It’s pretty good, does give my hair to be “poofy” and more importantly, saves the heck of a lot of time by combining two in one. :-D

Now, about my feet. I was sitting in my chair and sometimes I’d move my leg up onto the chair and sort of rest on my knee with my left arm. Well, that’s when I started to smell my foot. You know, our nose is pretty powerful and can detect a lot of things like I read about this guy who works at NASA and his job is to smell everything in the space shuttle prior to the launch to detect anything that might have a chemical leak. Imagine that? A nose-smeller. Google it up, I’m not kidding you.

When I smelled my foot, I thought I smelled something distinctive and interesting. It’s like those scent you know you cannot smell anywhere else. So I smelled my feet more closely and tried to think of anything that might resemble the smell. Well, I couldn’t think of one. Nothing quite smells like it.

Now, don’t get grossed out. Remember, I shower everyday so I wash my feet as well. It doesn’t have this body odor that is found in men’s locker and doesn’t really have a smell that would be considered awful. It’s just distinctive and strangely unique. It’s also addicting because when I smell it, the more I want to smell it again. Ha, I think this post will make me the weirdest guy in the entire blogosphere. Well, that’s just me.

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Blog from Gmail

Just testing to see how this gets blogged through gmail.

I’m thrilled that Chicago Bears won in overtime over Seattle Seahawks.
Field goals are so important in the playoffs. The Bears have a good one in
Robbie Gould but Grossman’s got to play better, especially his
decision-making like taking sacks or throwing away the ball instead of being
forced to throw or run.

Looks like I might have gotten a cold as it’s been floating around here
lately—my co-workers, roommates, and friends. I ate a soup of kimchi
noodles to help “spice” down my sore throat. Ha. Research has shown that
kimchi does have health benefits to it. See if it will help and get away from being drenched in a cold, ha.

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Lighthouse in Key West, FL

100_0313.jpg

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