2 March 2011

Posted by DMC on 2 March 2011 in Diary |

An exasperating day. I was really quite excited about getting my new computer which arrived yesterday and we opened it this morning. It is a Toshiba Satellite (not a Satellite Pro, like my own laptop, as I’m told they do not make this model any more). It’s a nice looking laptop, widescreen but ironically less convenient for me than the previous one. This one has a set of numbers on the right-hand side as well as along the top, which means I cannot easily access the Backspace Button or the Arrow Keys from the right-hand side without leaning on these other keys. The other thing I noticed about this laptop is it only has two USB ports, one network port and one other plug-in, for something or other, but I can see nowhere where it would be possible to plug in my camera to download photographs, for example, and two USB port is very thin. (On the camera front I’m told that there is a memory card slot somewhere which is the more up-to-date way of transferring photographs -what happens if you don’t use a memory card?) I overcome the problem by using a Belkin, which enables me to run seven USB ports from  it and then one from that to the laptop. Consider what I need to plug-in and have networked. My printer; my scanner; my  Live box; my photo printer;  two separate stand-alone hard disks; (which I agree is unusual) my WebCam; and my buddy Gooseneck microphone. Having mentioned these minor deficiencies to AbilityNet they suggest that, Toshiba’s answer would be that the laptop has a built-in microphone and WebCam and therefore does not need any plug-in slots for these additional pieces of equipment. My response to that is that whilst these may be  inbuilt they are not of a sufficiently high quality when one is totally dependent upon voice activation.

The exasperation started with trying to get the Live box wirelessly connected to the laptop. It has a monstrously long security key on the bottom of the Live box-24 digits comprising numerals and capital letters – obviously  I needed help, not only to read the thing from the bottom of the Live box but also to enter this  security key into the box on my laptop. ‘My lovely’ and subsequently, Jane ‘the sheep’ mucked to help, but we did not manage to achieve it until we had located a cable, from amongst dozens of others I have kept in my office, to link the Live box direct to the laptop to get onto the Internet and then with the help of one of the Orange Broadband, technical staff, over the telephone, we were ultimately able to achieve our objective. The WebCam, at first time of trying, was badly out of focus but maybe that can be fixed.

The new version of Dragon 11 (voice activation system) seemed to work extremely well even though we were not able to transfer my old user files and it has had  only have a little training. The overall layout of the machine is different from the last and I think less user-friendly particularly the e-mail.

I got used to Outlook and particularly the Contacts which not only have the e-mail addresses will also various telephone numbers which I believe I was able to call up hands-free. Windows Live Mail is nowhere near so good and I’m seeking an upgrade to Outlook even if I have to pay the £90 or so myself. All of this might sound terribly ungrateful considering that the  MND Association provided this third machine, again free of charge on loan but, as  ‘my lovely’ so wisely says, whatever they provide really has to work for you. Fortunately, my good friend Duncan is coming this evening to do the final tweaking and set me up on the desktop, as near as possible as I was before.

I had previously offered to discuss the whole business of purchasing loan equipment and training with someone senior within the MND Association, which the CEO seemed pleased about and said that somebody would give me  a telephone call.

In dealing with the Orange technical team over the wireless connection I was very impressed by the respectful and well mannered way in which the gentleman at the other end of the telephone dealt with me.. He was obviously of Indian extraction-either sitting in Bradford or Bangalore!-and this brought to mind a programme I listened to recently, in the middle of the night, a couple of days ago, concerning the youth of this country lacking in respect and good manners. I do not want to sound like a grumpy old man but I have to confess that on the whole I agree, and for this reason was very impressed with this young Indian lad who dealt with me.

There is a program currently running on  BBC 2, called When Teenage Meet  Old-Age. Half a dozen youngsters, of mixed ethnic origin and mixed social class, volunteered to spend a week or two with some elderly people to try to understand them a little better. Most of the youngsters were sceptical about this experiment before they started but were seriously affected by the experience and obviously matured enormously during the period of their contact with these old people, in understanding them as human beings, like themselves, only considerably older. The elderly people also gained a great deal from this experiment.  Many of them had lost touch with the younger generation and totally misunderstood the way they functioned. What impressed me most about this programme was how well mannered and respectful the young were, or at least, became, during this process. In at least half of the cases the elderly people clearly became mentors to the young, who clearly lacked an older role model. I got the impression that these young people  will keep in touch with the older ones, hopefully for as long as the old person lives.

This programme highlighted the point I made in my letter to the Prime Minister (see  11 Feb. entry) about mentoring but it also highlighted the fact that I have not yet received even the usual postcard acknowledging receipt of the communication with some standard form of words about a reply will follow. (Even H. M. The Queen, some years ago, was courteous enough to respond to a communication I made to concerning her sister, Princess Margaret, and a trip that she had made to some distant outpost in China) I realise the Prime Minister has a few other more important issues to deal with but normally one would receive some sort of reply, however anodyne that would take a minute or two to knock off.

 I have always considered it to be a discourtesy not to reply however briefly to any communication that I receive that is personally addressed to me by name-except, of course, junk mail.

When I contacted the key man at Proctor and Gamble, Boots and Lloyds pharmacy concerning my Mitt Wipe, they all extended me the courtesy of a reply and ultimately an explanation as to why my healthcare invention did not fit in with the present product range; all except one, who is still considering it.

I have not had the same success with my feeding frame. I was utterly convinced, having produced a fourth prototype, that it needed the Dyson touch, particularly as it incorporated a ball in the armrest. So, in the autumn of 2009, I made direct contact with the great man’s secretary/PA, briefly explaining my invention and asking if he could spare me couple minutes or so of his time on the telephone. I have a note, at the end of 2009, that I tried again for the fourth time and each time was told that I’m still on the list and not to give up. Throughout 2010 I tried again from, time to time, until ultimately I sent a complete video and short explanation to Dyson in the hope that he would spare a moment or two to consider my invention and if he was not interested, at least, to drop me a short note to that effect (even an e-mail would have done). I had in mind that as the feeding frame would enable tens of thousands of elderly people throughout the world, many of whom die from malnutrition being unable to feed themselves, in hospital, care homes and in their own homes, it would not only be a commercial success but one  that could be seen as a charitable gesture in something like a Dyson Charitable Foundation. What a legacy to leave to the world -better than a vacuum cleaner!. I therefore have to say I’m very disappointed I am not to have received any written communication at all from the Dyson organisation, which would take minutes to write, even if it had been a complete rejection. Again, I believe this to be a reflection of the discourtesy of modern society. But then it seems Dyson might be in good company with the Prime Minister’s office.

1 Comment

  • Steve West says:

    Have you posted a picture of the feeding frame? I’m having a hard time visualizing how it works, and I’m personally interested because I have ALS, as well. Thanks.

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