On Asperger’s

Comparison of a typical Asperger's brain to a neurotypical brain
Comparison of a typical Asperger’s brain function(left) to a neurotypical brain’s function(right) (Could not be arsed removing the logo)

Let me begin by saying that every “Aspie” (person with Asperger’s) is different. It’s a spectrum condition, meaning that some have it “more” and some have it “less”, but there are common traits which all Aspies share.

From this point on I speak for myself only.

I’m at the more extreme end of the spectrum. I was diagnosed late at 37, having led a wildly varied and interesting life in three different countries. As a child I was expelled from 5 different secondary schools, and ultimately left education at the age of 15 with no qualifications. Around this time I was sharing the rent on a house with my 21 year old girlfriend.

I’m still discovering things I can do, and I still automatically assume they’re things anyone can do, which is common among the late diagnosed.

Among the more interesting are “perfect pitch” and “perfect rhythm”, which is basically the ability to exactly recall musical notes, sounds and beats. I’m also a natural mimic, which means that I pick up people’s accents within a few words, without actually meaning to. I don’t make much use of this besides doing accents for fun..

My spacial and abstract thinking is also quite good. I seem to instinctively know how things work, but in truth I see objects and dissect them in my mind until their workings make sense. I’m not usually conscious of this happening, but I can make myself conscious of it. As a result I’m good at visualising concepts and planning how something should be built, be it data, real world, or completely abstract. I make use of this daily in work and play; building and designing things keeps me out of trouble, and in work.

Third I’d have to say is muscle memory, and how easily I can burn it. Common among Aspies is an extremely developed rote memory (repeated recall), and my belief is that we can burn new muscle memory by repeating not only our own movements, but the movements of others. My first obsession was martial arts, but I disliked learning names for things and history. I was interested more in the mechanics of the body, anatomy and application. A punch is just a punch; the path it takes is all that varies. By my early 20’s, me and a small group of fellow martial artists were sparring for sometimes 8 hours daily. Turns out many Aspies discover a love for martial arts, so this one isn’t just me either.

Then there’s the one I often call the Quantum computer effect. I can check through lots of possibilities quickly and find the one that fits the model. This seems to work for both pattern matching, visual type problems and abstract reasoning, such as how two people might get along. The visual part is well known for Aspies. We’re commonly able to pick out the one incorrect tile from a complex symmetrical mosaic. I find it relaxing actually, and wrote a little game based on the idea.

Unfortunately, it’s not all Superman/Sherlock Holmes.

An autistic brain is unbelievably reactive. Every noise is extremely noisy, every light extremely bright, every emotion an extreme. Our thoughts trigger their own thoughts and those thoughts must be allowed to reach their conclusion or a bottleneck occurs.

Eye contact is an essential part of human face-to-face interaction, but it’s difficult when it leads to feeling how the other person does at that point. It’s perfect empathy. And it sucks.

Conversely I find it difficult to understand facial expressions and the context of what’s being said until I find time to recall the interaction later (using rote memory). This makes conversation difficult sometimes, and leads to me only really talking about the things I like to talk about. It’s not selfish; these subjects are the only ones I can risk talking about without worrying about sounding stupid sometimes. You’d be surprised what a buzzkill it can be to ask “how do you mean?”. And even Aspies hate buzzkills.

Over time this has done its own damage. I hate to say it but the less people I’m friends with, the happier I seem to be. I spend less time figuring out how to fit in to your world and more enjoying my own. I only wish I’d realised this sooner, as much time has been wasted trying to do something I’m not designed for.

Questions or comments are welcome.

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How to spoof your phone’s GPS location

“Spoofing” is a hacky term to mean “pretending”. When you spoof your GPS location you’re making your phone report that it’s in a different place than what it really is.

In this post I’ll show you how to spoof your own GPS location, for fun, subversion and profit.

  • Own an Android phone. If you bought an iPhone then you already sacrificed most of your rights of ownership (like, modifying a device you own to make it do something it wasn’t designed for) – so this guide won’t work for you.
  • Activate Developer options. Go to Settings>About phone and tap “Build number” seven times. On the last tap you’ll unlock the “Developer options” menu.
  • Go to the play store and search for “spoof GPS”. Almost all of the apps available work the same. I’ve tested four of them and have found “Fake gps – fake location” by developer “Andev” to be the best. No, I’m not sponsored to say that; It’s just the only one I’ve seen that goes to the trouble of figuring out the text label of your fake location, as well as the longitude/latitude. Install the GPS spoofing app of your choice.
  • Go into Settings>Developer options on your phone. Select “Allow mock locations”. When asked which mock location app you want to use, select the one you downloaded.
  • Turn your location reporting on by swiping down from the top of the screen twice and tapping the Location map-pin icon “on”.
  • Open your GPS spoofing app and drag the map to the location you want to pretend to be at. Click Start/Activate/Begin to begin spoofing your location.
  • Profit.
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Inkscape tips I wish I’d known years ago

"Twilo" workspace detail
“Twilo” workspace detail

As stated previously, I love Inkscape. I’ve used it professionally for 8 years or so now, and know my ways around it quite well. So I thought I’d share everything useful I can think of. I’ll try to keep it succinct, or at least single-paged. Onward.

Keyboard shortcuts

-are one of Inkscape’s best features.

  • For tools in the Toolbox you can usually hit the initial letter of the tool you need, like B for bezier, R for rectangle, E for ellipse, T for text. But the keys you’ll use most often are F1 for object select, F2 for object detail select, and CTRL (plus scroll up/down) to zoom in and out.
  • CTRL+SHIFT+another key bring up side menus; +F for fill menu, +T for text, +M for modify & transform, +E for export bitmap, +O for object properties, +D for document properties, +L for layers, +A for align & distribute.
  • PageUp/PageDown raise and lower the depth of an object. Home brings it to the front, End to the back.
  • SHIFT+click selects multiple objects. Click a selected object again to deselect.
  • SHIFT+click on a colour to set stroke colour.
  • ! negates the selection (select everything that isn’t, and vice versa).
  • Number keys 1-6 handle zoom types; 1 for actual size, 2 for double size, 3 to centre on selected objects, 4 to centre the whole drawing, 5 to centre the page and 6 to match the page width.
  • CTRL and + or – will unite or divide two overlaying selected objects. When dividing the topmost object’s shape is cut from the object underneath.
  • CTRL+G and CTRL+SHIFT+G groups and ungroups selected objects. Grouping puts all grouped objects on to the same depth.
  • # brings up the grid. There are two types, but new documents always begin on square. Change grid type from Document properties (CTRL+SHIFT+D), in the Grids tab. Snapping must also be on for grid snapping to work (far right-top icon).
  • | brings up guides. You won’t see anything unless you have guides on the page (drag from edge rulers into workspace to create a guide)..

User interface

  • In object mode (F1), drag from an open area to create a selection rectangle. Hold SHIFT to not select any object you happen to start dragging on. ALT+drag draws a line which selects any objects it touches.
  • Click an object once to select it. Note scale handles around edges. Click it again. Note how the handles change to rotate and shear mode.
  • Double click an object to enter detail mode. In this mode you can change roundedness of corners of rectangles, arc range of ellipses, position and scale of patterns and gradient fills, edit vertices of polygons etc. You can also change an object or selection’s centre of rotation and scaling. Look for the cross.
  • SHIFT and CTRL, on their own and at the same time, modify scaling and rotation by mouse.
  • The toolstrip directly above the workspace is context sensitive, so it’ll show actions relative to what’s currently selected.
  • Drag from either the horizontal or the vertical rulers into the workspace to create a guide.
  • Icons down the right are snap settings. Learn when to use the right type and you’ll live a bit longer.
  • “Affect” icons at top of screen change what parts of an object get scaled, from stroke thickness to pattern.
  • The Find menu is useful. CTRL+F then search by partial match of a fill or stroke style, object type, ID, content text or attribute. Another life extender.
  • Use the Align & distribute menu to centre your work on the page.

Process

  • If you draw a square, say 10x10px large, then add a stroke with a thickness of 2px, your square will now be 12x12px. If you now grid snap that square to another position with the “Snap to bounding box” option on, it’ll snap to the outside edge of the stroke, not to the edge of the square. Don’t spend 18 hours on a meticulous grid-snapped masterpiece only to then zoom in and realise that I am an idiot who will die alone.
  • If you lose focus of an object once it’s gone behind another, use detail mode (F2) and select it’s path.
  • To frame work perfectly before exporting a bitmap, draw a rectangle over it with half opacity, then adjust the rectangle to your liking. When done, make the rectangle fully transparent, then bring up the Export bitmap menu with CTRL+SHIFT+E, and save with “Selection” button on and “Hide all except selected” off. You can add a stroke to your rectangle to effect a frame around the bitmap.
  • Alternatively you can bring up Document properties with CTRL+SHIFT+D, choose “Resize page to content” then “Resize page to drawing or selection” while your rectangle is selected, before deleting it and using Export bitmap with “Page” button on.
  • If you’ve drawn/built something that overlaps the edges of the page, use “Guides Around Page” from the Edit menu.
  • You absolutely don’t have to use the page. I tend to scroll all the way to the right when I begin and build on copy after copy. Some logos drafts have a roughly A1 sized work area by the time I’m done, filled with hundreds of revisions.

 

More to come, as I think of them.

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