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December 2002 - AGENDA

Wish list
1) The colour scheme and alphabet are pretty intimately related,
   so a possible method would be to have the alphabet 
        file be turned into an augmented file that 
        specifies the alphabet and the colours too. 

2) But that seems a bad idea because it means that every 
        time a new english alphabet is made, four copies
        of ti have to be made, one for each of the four standard
        colour schemes (say).

        And the way in which (alphabet1,colourscheme1)
        differs from         (alphabet1,colourscheme2)
        will probably have a lot in common with 
        how                  (alphabet2,col1)
        differs from         (alphabet2,col2)

3) So we think that a componential scheme is desirable, 
        consisting of three components.

Component 1:     a list of the letters of the alphabet.

Component 2:  an allocation of those letters to 
                "colour integers".

Component 3:  a mapping of those colour integers
                to a PAIR of actual colours (one for each 
                of the levels in the DJW alternation of two
                colour sets)

Colour integers could be anything from 0 to 127, 
then the total number of colours used by Dasher would be at most 

Does this sound a sensible plan?

The idea then is that component 2 could be constructed with 
some logical categories in mind; then any component 3 can 
respect those logical categories easily.  

Examples of requested colour schemes include

a) virtually monochrome
b) very bleached colours
c) reverse video:   white chars on blackish backgrounds
d) blue on yellow 
e) yellow on blue

XML suggestion
I suggest that the header in the XML file for 
alphabets be made a bit more informative.

instead of saying " This file was created by blah "

it should also say

"This file is read by Dasher version 3;
it may be edited by the user to change the alphabet"


"This file is read by Dasher version 3;
it should not be edited directly; rather, you should edit
the widg.blah file and then run foo to re-generqate this file"


The help file in Dasher 300 is out of date and has 
a few minor errors in it.

Notes arising from last meeting
At last dasher meeting we agreed to make a non-coll machine be the CVS server - A devoted dasher machine. However, at group meeting we decided to stick with coll being the CVS server because: 1) coll already set up for this role. 2) we do not wish to allow non-group users to have access to the dasher code for the next 3-6 months anyway, so there is no additional security risk. When the time comes to open up CVS access to anyone who wants to tinker, the CVS tree should be moving to another machine anyway.

Thoughts for next meeting

Management priorities
  1. Establish management system to handle code contributions for multiple platforms and multiple languages.
  2. Establish management system to handle CORPUS contributions for multiple languages.
  3. Establish system for making automated releases for all platforms and languages.
  4. Establish system for testing new releases (multiple volunteers to be notified and report back)
  5. Get MacOS volunteer on the job of making the first Dasher for Mac.
  6. Establish communication with lots of users. Ensure metafaq and bugzilla working well for handling feedback from different types of users. Establish on-line wish-lists and on-line bug lists, perhaps organised in part by user-category. Disabled users on all platforms; windows lists; linux lists; ipaq lists; and general?
  7. Get a palmOS volunteer, playstation, etc.
Bug list
  1. Win95 (rum): mouse flickers while dasher is going, so that often one can't see where the mouse is. Desire mouse to be continuously visible. Does this happen on other win95 systems? [Problem does not exist in win2k]
  2. Win2000 version starts with a silly fourth alphabet called "?" which contains no letters. (Is this true only on "polluted" systems?)
High-priority Feature request list
  1. NUMERALS! 0123456789.
    Please could these be added to the "lots of punctuation" alphabet in all platforms. For consistency with version 2, put numerals in a red box and punctuation in a green box.
  2. When insertion point is defined, have the language model push right the way down to smallest square size, rather than only showing the first letters.
  3. Have option to make "space-bar" cause start'n'stop as well as mouse button. And have option to DISABLE the mouse button, so that it does NOT start and stop. This is important, as many excited users unthinkingly click the button for no good reason.
  4. Allow user to change font size - imagine a special needs person with bad eyesight!
  5. Make reverseable history larger, so the user can back up the last word or two.
  6. Make the two types of nonlinearity adjustable (by experts). [Call them the screen nonlinearity, which controls the squishing of the rendering at the top and the bottom, and the mouse nonlinearity, which at present remaps the effective mouse coordinate to be a little more vertically extreme than the true mouse coordinate.]
  7. Modify the default mouse nonlinearity to be the one suggested by DJCM, which slightly slows the expansion when the mouse is near the top or bottom. (See DJCM for details)
  8. Develop a new mouse nonlinearity aimed at users with only one dimension of control. Extreme input coordinates get mapped to "zoom out and drift up" and "zoom out and drift down".
  9. Investigate mild tweaks to the screen nonlinearity so that better use is made of real-estate. A more logarithmic transformation, kicking in a little to the right of the cross-hair.
  10. Windows: should Dasher use the "registry"? Doing this means that how Dasher version 3.1.4 behaves will depend on what other versions of Dasher have been installed in the past. This makes user support and bug reporting and bug fixing more complicated. Yes, it's wasteful to have a new installation create a load of identical files. But I think it's the right way to do things. But what do I know?
Low-priority Feature request list
  1. Have checkbox "Save Dasher settings on exit", so that you can lend Dasher to a friend, let them fool around trying out portuguese, or whatever, and then just quit it. Or alternatively have a dialog at exit time that says "save settings? (y/n)".
  2. Have a "revert settings to what they were at the beginning of this session" option.
  3. Windows: show the insertion point at all times, so that the user can tell where the text is going to appear when they use Dasher.
  4. In addition to the "copy all" option (f5), have a "cut all" option (f6?). This would be useful to people who are using Dasher to talk. They don't want the text to be there any more, once they have spoken. "Cut all" should cut everything to the clipboard.
  5. Colour scheme: should we make it consistent with version 2: there, the punctuation chars are in a green box and the numerals are in a red box.
  6. Alphabet with Pound and Euro symbol.
  7. Win95 (rum): Font selection dialogue to have "Apply" button as well as OK button, so that the user can interactively try alternative fonts.
  8. Windows: font selection dialogue to clarify the (lack of) role for the size option. (Or better, allow the size to be changed!)
  9. Windows: Alphabet dialogue box - the box is not very clear, it seems to me. Should the user click on the alphabet they want? Or should they click "New". Or both? Is it possible to have explanatory text hover next to each button?
  10. Win95 (rum): Alphabet selection dialogue to have "Apply" button as well as OK button, so that the user can interactively try alternative alphabets.
  11. Double-click in the alphabet selection should be equivalent to selecting and clicking OK.
Other items
  • Transfer from to bugzilla.
  • set up the web interface to CVS ( DJW found it quite useful for browsing - checking out recent activity, etc. Its not mission-critical though.
  • Would it be a good idea to have

The Inference Group is supported by the Gatsby Foundation
and by a partnership award from IBM Zurich Research Laboratory
David MacKay
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