Day 3 was really Day 1 in terms of the main conference, so I had to register like everyone else, even though I’d taught at the pre-conference session. I have to say that the signage at the David L. Lawrence Centre  for ISAAC 2012 needs to be commended. The place is huge but I was able to find my way to registration easily, and it only took about a minute from saying my name to leaving the counter.
By sheer coincidence, standing right next to me was #slpeeps very own @bronwynah, who also doubles up as a member of #slpeeps-downunder. It seems that we #slpeeps get everywhere!
We were there to make sure we got our seats for the Opening Ceremony, which turned out to be a rather splendid event with the right amount of gravitas and humor. Guest speakers included Al Condeluci, a Pittsburgh native, born and bred, who has had a lifetime of working with United Cerebral Palsy and is a tireless promoter of rights for all. We also had Peter Yarrow, the singer from the iconic folk trio of the 60’s and 70’s, Peter,Paul & Mary. Yarrow has always been politically active and talked about his involvement in the recent “Occupy” protests. He equated the struggle faced by many people with disabilities as similar to those of African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s and black South Africans led by Nelson Mandela in the 80’s.
Here he plays If I Had A Hammer accompanied by the ISAAC 2012 delegates.
Video courtesy of Teechkidz via YouTube.
Following the opening ceremonies there were a number of sessions during the afternoon, and the closing of the day was marked by the rooftop Welcome Reception on the North Terrace of the Convention Center. This was a ticket-only event based, presumably, on the fact that the number of folks registered would determine the amount of hors d’ouevres available. Tragically, there may have been some gatecrashers because by the time I actually got to the food tables, all that was left we some gazpacho shooters; tiny cups of cold soup that were fighting a losing battle with the 90+ degree temperatures in Pittsburgh.
I admit, there may have been some fault here. When I got to the roof, I saw that the bar line consisted of one person whereas the food line was somewhat longer. It was, after all, almost 6:00 p.m. and so an ice-cold beer was far too tempting to turn down. By the time I’d schmoozed and chatted with folks, the line for the food was still long and the beer line was also long. However, if you have friends at the front of the beer line…
So by the time I made it to the food line, at was gone. Except for the gazpacho. It was only through sheer chance that a colleague later managed to hunt down some brie and crackers, which served to stave off hunger until a group of us made our way to the unpretentious August Henry’s City Saloon on Penn Avenue. Here you can get a large White Russian for $7.00 and a dozen chicken wings for $10.00. Wing lovers might want to note that they offer a selection of dry rub wings in mesquite, ranch, and Caribbean Jerk flavors.
I spent a little time at the bar talking with an old colleague, Cliff Kushler, the inventor of T9 and Swype, about lexical disambiguation  and Swype Art. Swype Art, you ask? Well, those of you who use Swype as an input to a smart phone or tablet might like to try to trace out the word “infinity” and see what happens! Here’s a video that shows how the words “banana,” “infinity” and “circles” look on a Swype keyboard.
If you find any other words that have traced pictures that seem appropriate, be sure to share them with us
 David H. Lawrence was mayor of Pittsburgh from 1946 to 1959, who then went on to become the 37th Governor of Pennsylvania. He was born in 1889 and died in 1966.
 Lexical disambiguation is the process that is going on behind systems such as T9, Swype, SlideIt, TouchPal, and other keyboard accessing programs. The underlying software looks at the key you are selecting and then the subsequent keys, then “guesses” what you might be looking for. For example, if you start with an “B” and move across to “R,” you actually touch either the F or the G keys on the way, but because the system “knows” there are no words in English that start with “Bf” or “Bg” it ignores those an assumes you are looking for a word that begins with “br.” If you then swipe across to the letter “A,” it ignores your sliding across “D,” “S” or “W” because there are no words with “brd,” “brs” or “brw” in English. There are, of course, other factors involved but the basic notion of lexical disambiguation is relatively simple to understand.