Introducing www.deaf.ph

deafdotph website cover
deafdotph website cover

We all experienced that the Internet empowers people. And using the web to champion a good cause gives it a better chance to succeed. Since I am always in support of improving the lives of the Filipino Deaf through technology, I value people and groups who use IT and social media to promote their advocacy. Presenting….

www.deaf.ph 🙂

According to their site,

We are an online local community advocation. goal Our goal to teach “Filipino Sign Language Online”, and we’re on our way. We promote “Deaf Community Empowerment” that value people with hearing disability, and committed to building an all-star, DEAF.PH TEAM.

Their first activity will be a Meet Up at the “Enchanted Kingdom” Theme Park in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Dubbed, DEAFinitely Fabulous, the event will be on October 27, Saturday. Meeting place will be at Macdonalds Gateway, Cubao starting at 7am. For more information, you may contact:

Mark Joseph Quijano – DeafPH President at these numbers:09216635519 [SMART] and 09358981963 [GLOBE]

Let us support this website. Their community is still very new. But their future is very promising. Aside from offering Filipino Sign Language Online Courses, they will soon provide links and billboard postings about about job opportunities for the deaf, meetings, special announcements, laws, deaf success stories and many more exciting things. True to their cause, the group aims for awareness, appreciation and action.


Their slogan?

We are just getting started. COME, LEARN, EXPERIENCE & HAVE FUN!

Come and join this wonderful community and make yourselves DEAFinitely Fabulous! 🙂

Free hearing aids!

Good news! Rotary Club of Pasig South President Gilbert Magbutay, one of my long time friend and colleague in our university publication “The Featinean” of  Feati University informed me about their project of donating free hearing aids. Here are the details:

Rotary Club of Pasig South through their President Gilbert Magbutay will be giving away 80 pcs. of hearing aids for FREE! Here are the requirements:
1. Must be between 7 to 17 y/o.
2. Must be residing within Pasig, Marikina, Caloocan, Navotas, Mandaluyong, San Mateo and Rodriguez Rizal, San Juan, and Valenzuela.
3. Must be able to sustain the purchase of batteries after our initialset and spares.

Procedure:
1. Candidate must seek a clearance/certification from an EENT that they can be fitted with hearing aid.
2. Submit EENT Certification via FB/Email or fax at +6326828467.
3. Rotary Club of Pasig South will schedule the hearing test and ear mould fitting at the Manila Hearing Aid.
4. Awarding of hearing aids is the culmination.

Deadline for submission of EENT Certificate will be on October 20.

Please avail of this free hearing aids. You may email the requirements in our school at info@mccid.edu.ph or submit it in their official Facebook page at:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rotary-Club-of-Pasig-South/311992654447

Scientists translate sign language to text in pioneering phone software

All I can say to this is, WOW! 

This app will be available in iphone.

PIONEERING technology which translates sign language into text is being developed by Scottish scientists in a major boost for people suffering from speech and hearing difficulties.

 

The new software – the first of its kind in the world – has been developed for use on portable devices, such as smartphones, and will allow users to turn sign language into words. Users will even be able to customise the sign language to their own specific needs.

The Aberdeen University scientists behind the breakthrough claim the technology has the potential to transform how sign language users – from the profoundly deaf to those who have lost hearing in later life – will be able to communicate.

The Portable Sign Language Translator (PSLT ) has been developed by computing scientists at Technabling, a spin-out from Aberdeen University. The PSLT recognises sign language using a small camera which can be integrated in most mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablet Pcs and netbooks, and then renders it as text displayed on the device’s main screen.

Dr Ernesto Compatangelo, a lecturer in computing science who is director of Technabling, said: “The aim of the technology is to empower sign language users by enabling them to overcome the communication challenges they can experience, through portable technology.

“The user signs into a standard camera integrated into a laptop, netbook, Smartphone or other portable device such as a tablet. Their signs are immediately translated into text which can be read by the person they are conversing with.

“The intent is to develop an application – an “app” in Smartphone terms – that is easily accessible and could be used on different devices.”

He said the PSLT technology had the potential to be used with a range of sign languages including British Sign Language (BSL) and Makaton. More than 50,000 people with speech problems use BSL as their first or preferred language.

Dr Compatangelo said: “One of the most innovative and exciting aspects of the technology, is that it allows sign language users to actually develop their own signs for concepts and terms they need to have in their vocabulary, but they may not have been able to express easily when using BSL.”

The research is being funded by the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to enhance the lives of deaf people with special emphasis in benefiting young people who are either in education or training.

A spokesman for Technabling said: “As a learning tool, the PSLT can be easily and effectively used by those who are learning to sign. So far, these learners needed a sign language expert in front of them to check that they were able to sign correctly. This is a problem, due to the scarce availability of sign language experts and to the consequent cost of such training.

“The PSLT can replace the human expert in many occasions, allowing learners to practice sign language whenever and wherever they like, driving costs substantially down.”

A university spokeswoman said: “Scientists on the project are now encouraging sign language users from Aberdeen city and shire to get in touch to become involved with its ongoing development. It is anticipated that the technology will be available as a product by next year.”

Repost from www.scotsman.com website.

MCCID Website was hacked! And how I fixed it…

website hacked mccid page
Let’s put off my deaf advocacy hat here temporarily and put on my web designing hat in order to give you the technical details of what happened. After arriving from an appointment the whole day last Monday (November 21), I was very much surprised when our Deaf Trainor Sir Jerome approached me and gave me the shocking news that our school’s official website “www.mccid.edu.ph” was hacked!

As he was demo-teaching Internet subject that morning and used our school’s site as his example, he clicked on a page link. He got stunned when a porno site appeared! His students were also surprised and resorted to teasing him assuming that he is fond of opening these sites. When he clicked on the back button, the home page appears unchanged. Again, when he tried to visit another internal link, same thing happened! That disgusting porn site appeared again and again! He felt so humiliated about it. But when he gave me the bad news, I took it as an emergency case.

I have experienced before having websites I designed being hacked by malicious people who have nothing more to do than take glory in destroying other people’s reputation. The first one was with a website I designed being defaced. The other was the Official Government Website being turned into an Middle Eastern Propaganda site. This is the third one .

I took things calmly and tried to make some sense out of the flimsy belief that WordPress sites are difficult to hack. Well these bastards have done it again! Here are the things I did.

  1. First I tried looking at the codes to see if they actually changed the href tag. They didn’t! WordPress uses php functions to control the links.
  2. Then I tried checking the site’s files/folders using ftp to see if there are suspicious files added. There weren’t.
  3. Probably there is a vulnerability in having an outdated WordPress version (3.1.1) so I updated to 3.2.1. Again, the site still redirects to a porn site.
  4. I tried checking on the Permalinks. On the left menu, I clicked on Permalinks under Settings group. Then I selected the default setting format. It worked! The posts went back to their original content although the permalink was changed. Also, the changes only affected the posts, but not the pages.
  5. So I looked for plugins that changes the Permalink settings by adding .html or .php on URL and not just the common one. I did find two; the .html on Pages and the Improved Page Permalinks. It didn’t work. It didn’t even change the sites in-links.
  6. I also tried the Exploit Scanner plugin to view some weak links. But it also produced negative result. I simply cannot find the culprit.

So my last resort is to do what I similarly did with the government website, I need to re-install WordPress. But I gave myself another crack at it. I noticed that when I used Filezilla to view the file directory, all of the WordPress files dates were modified on November 21, the day I updated the version, except for .htaccess file. My doubts became more apparent when I saw the date created was 11/19/2011, which was just fairly recent. That’s most likely the date the malicious person penetrated my site.

To erase my suspicion, I opened the .htaccess file and bam! The file content was compromised! Instead of 401 code File not Found, the malicious hacker changed it to his own porno site. According to Wikipedia,

A .htaccess (hypertext access) file is a directory-level configuration file supported by several web servers, that allows for decentralized management of web server configuration.

The original purpose of .htaccess – reflected in its name – was to allow per-directory access control, by for example requiring a password to access the content. Nowadays however, the .htaccess files can override many other configuration settings including content type and character set, CGI handlers, etc.

.htaccess file
So this is the one that overridden our school’s website. When I opened the file, the porno site URL appears!

WordPress .htaccess hack codes
The same thing happened to the WordPress .htaccess file. It overridden the file with its own. It even removed the WordPress built-in codes.

Now, how do we solve these problems from cropping up again? The answer is, NONE. So long as there are mischievous, good-for-nothing guys out there whose main goal is to destroy others business, the hacking remains. But you can help minimize the intrusion by doing these simple suggestions:

  • BACK UP, BACK UP, BACK UP OFTEN – WordPress developers have created plugins to automatically backup your database. My favorite is WordPress Database Backup by Austin Matzko. But nothing beats the old ftp back up style which you all web developers are used to. In this case, I simply deleted the .htaccess file and re-copied the back up one.
  • Don’t use .htaccess on your main server folder. Hackers usually look for this file as one of the common way to enter your fortress.
File Attribute in Filezilla
File Attribute in Filezilla
  • Since WordPress makes good use of .htaccess file, make sure that the file attribute is set to 444. This means it can only be read but not written.
  • Always update your WordPress CMS version. Remember that these malicious guys often attack softwares that are popular and has widespread use. Think about Windows OS as against Apple OS. WorPress is now the most used CMS in the world. Hackers often race themselves in how to crack its codes in order to make them feel satisfied in penetrating the top and the best. But I’m pretty sure the WordPress good guys are doing overtime to make our sites safe.

Consider this as a learning experience and a time for you to brush up your web designing skills. I have been pre-occupied lately by activities related to the deaf community so I don’t update my sites as often as I used to. So I took this situation as an opportunity to review my web design lessons. 🙂

Government proposes call center for the deaf

A PARTYLIST representative is pushing for the creation of call centers for the deaf or hearing-impaired people.

Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy said that she will be filing a legislative measure requiring business establishments like fastfood chains and government agencies to put up call centers for hearing and speech impaired persons to cater to an estimated three to four million hearing-impaired Filipinos.

Herrera-Dy congratulated 30 physically-able persons who completed the two-month video relay service training program in Makati City.

She said the success of the initial VRS training has prompted the partylist organization to pursue similar programs in various local government units.

“It is the right of individuals with vocal and audiological impairment to be heard. Being able to communicate and be understood are human entitlements that must not be denied,” she stressed.

The VRS program includes sign language proficiency training and video relay computer program education, the main components of call center services for the deaf.

The VRS centers have started mushrooming in the United States and other countries that have strong government programs for persons with disabilities.

The VRS training was conducted by the Bagong Henerasyon partylist through George Taylor and his sister, Kat. Himself suffering from impaired hearing, George heads the Telecommunication Service Network for the Deaf.

* -This is a repost from People’s Journal. Similar news articles appeared in Philippine Star and Tempo.