Thursday, January 13th 2011

The countdown begins…

It’s the day before the big move. Yes I’m finally about to move downstairs into my new purpose-built extension. It’s been a bit of a funny old day really. You would think that after spending a year trapped upstairs I would be eager to get out of this confining environment. Well of course in many ways I am, but there is a tiny part of me that is going to miss being here. Because through necessity I have had to make the upstairs a sort of home-within-a-home, it has become a comforting environment. And up until now I’ve always known that I would eventually go back downstairs. But now that the time has finally arrived I am also only too well aware that I will never be able to return and there is a sort of finality to it that makes me feel uncomfortable. So before I turn the page and start a new chapter I worked in my study reading and writing for the last time, whilst tonight I shall sleep in my bedroom for the last time.

Fortunately this morning my mind was fully occupied with a visit from Peter who works for AbilityNet. He’d dropped in to demonstrate a hardware solution that he’d been working on that would allow me to control the mouse cursor using my mouth. At the moment I’m using my feet to operate 2 large button switches and a trackball which collectively simulate the operations of a mouse. Unfortunately, as I’ve already mentioned previously, my legs and feet are slowly paralysing, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to move them. The inexpensive home-made solution that Peter has come up with is rather ingenious. Basically it comprises of a PlayStation 2 game controller that is mounted on a Manfrotto adjustable arm and clamp which is attached to the edge of the desk. A piece of software called AutoHotKey is used to redefine the functions of the two main multi-direction jog buttons. We gave it a trial today and I was impressed by how easy it was to use. The only problem we had was that neither of the two Manfrotto mounting solutions that Peter had brought with him were long enough to reach from my desk to my face so until we’ve ironed out that problem I won’t be giving up on the foot controls. I shall be returning to this subject once we’ve got everything up and running and I shall let you know how it works on a day-to-day basis. One thing that has already piqued my interest are the possibilities that AutoHotKey offers to someone in my position. Being able to automate complex strings of keystrokes could save an awful lot of repetitive voice commands. Again this is something that I plan to take a further look at when I get a moment.

Okay, that’s about it for today. Time to switch off ready for tomorrow, I have a feeling it’s going to be a busy day. I have a lot buzzing around in my mind at the moment that’s making me a bit unsettled. I shall be okay once I’ve settled in to my new surroundings but for now I feel a bit apprehensive.


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One Response to Thursday, January 13th 2011

  1. Linda says:

    Hi Mark
    Assume that you have moved downstairs at long last, lets hope it allows you to get out more.

    Let me know when you’re ready for a visit. I’d love to see the new extension and you of course.


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