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my love affair with my PC

08/21/08

Permalink 01:06:51 pm, by eleanor Email , 1583 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: thoughts, Coping, adapting activities, Technology

my love affair with my PC

P8210004In the corner of my living room there is a small computer table. On it sits my ergonomic  key board, LCD 19 inch monitor and mouse (track ball).  To the left of it is my printer and a paper filing system beneath it. To the right is my scanner and on a table  beneath it is the System Tower of my PC. Above the Scanner is a calendar and ear phones. And of course my speakers are on the top shelf above my monitor. It's here I sit In my ergonomic chair to write my blog, my family web pages, scan in pictures and information, receive and send e-mail, read the news, get information and file it away if I want to save it . And so many other things in my life. In fact my PC has become both a time saver and companion and has definitely enriched my life.   

My first experience with a computer was about 8 years ago. Oh, I had used a word processor when I was working as a physical therapist in my contract business . But it was my son who initiated me to the wonders of using a PC.  He set me up with his lap top PC as he didn't need it very often. I started e-mailing family, friends and others. It was a wonderful way I found to keep in touch as my family is scattered across the states. I also found that it was great to read the news as I could blow up the print to readable level when my eyes were really tired. And I discovered the ability to travel to different places around the world by way of the web .

  Then when my younger sister was dying with cancer seven years ago  it opened up other uses for me . Being able to research information on her cancer prognosis and treatments was very important to me. And this is the time when my son introduced  me to the use of my PC to make my own cards. The ability to make my own special cards to send to her with my little gifts was a great blessing. I would send a gift with my own PC handmade card with just the right picture and message I wanted .

After my sister died I inherited the old family picture album. The pictures  brought back so many memories that I had forgotten. I could hardly wait to share this with my remaining family members . With the help of my son I was eventually able to scan the pictures in and doctor them as needed. When my sister's daughter came to visit me I showed her the pictures. She surprisingly didn't remember having seen them.  When we went through them together she had so many questions that I decided they needed to be put into a context of our family life and the history of the times.

So with the suggestion and the help of both of my son's I decided to do a family history page on the web. That way all my family members could participate.  I then set about collecting my sisters and brothers family memories thru e-mail, snail mail and telephone. This was such a treat for all of us as I don't always get out to family events. We each learned so much more about the happenings in our family and it was a wonderful healing for us with the loss of our sister. Our brother died suddenly the following year and again it proved invaluable to his children as they learned more about their father when he was young .

And of course while I was doing all this I was also learning so much. I was learning and . refreshing myself on the history of the time we were growing up together. And in the process I was also learning so much more about using the computer. I became a professional at cutting and pasting along with many other things. I was enjoying my PC in other ways  too!  I was able to travel everywhere via the web. When I would read a book If they would mention a place anywhere I could pop on my computer and read about the area or time when the story or other event in the book took place . This enhanced my reading so much.  You might say by this time I was  "hooked". 

P8210019 Now my son felt I was ready for my own computer.  So we bought me my own PC with a wonderful keyboard that reduced the amount of searching and clicking with the mouse. The monitor was a nineteen inch LCD Screen that I could adjust for brightness (glare is a problem for me). I swapped my regular mouse for a Trackball which was easier to use(earlier my son had picked me up an extra light mouse, but the trackball is even better). This trackball had P8210015programmable buttons, one of which I set for dragging (Click the button once, and the mouse acts as though you're holding the left button down.) I had difficulty holding down the button and scrolling at the same time, this eliminated the problem. There are so many things besides cutting and pasting that this is invaluable for.

And since I was also going to be scanning all of our own pictures into a web book having my own scanner made sense. And of course I P8210012 now have my own printer and a CD burner and we upgraded slightly so I can use voice the recognition software. In fact I'm using it right now. I have found my hands can get very tired with typing and this has solved the problem. I do need to make some corrections but it's still a lot better. Actually  I Talk a little - Type a little!

Now this may sound like I've become an expert. That I'm doing all of this always independently once I've been shown how to do it!   No No No Not so! I had to go slow and had much help in learning .The making of cards and the web page production for my family was mostly done by my son Brendan. I would do the writing and my older son Sean would edit then Brendan would put it up on the web.

 Both my sons are great but my goal was to gradually be able to do it myself even if I was tired. It was an interesting experience sons teaching mother. They forgot how automatically they were doing things, and would forget to break down the steps of how to do something they did all the time. And I found that I could not handle their rapidly telling me how to do something without my writing it down and repeating it.  So we developed a notebook where I can put "how to" in an organized fashion. I'm still working on getting everything in this book. But if I want to do something I have not done for a while the information is here and with a quick review I don't have to bother anybody. Brendan has articles on-line about this, making cards and other things useful too. Go to        www.saratogaareas.com/EmeraldGlasses.html

I have found that if you take something new and add doing more just little by little with time you'll be able to do more and more by yourself. And of course the adaptations with the keyboard, the mouse, the monitor and other software has been invaluable. Now all of these adaptations are not made specifically for people with disabilities but are standard on all computers. There are more advanced adaptations for those who need more help .

  What I've used other people with no disability find helpful too. Many products have been developed to address a need like the ergonomic keyboard initially was for people with carpel tunnel syndrome. It's kind of like universal design. Which can be the first step that helps adapt the environment for someone with a disability And it also helps everyone else too . An example of universal design would be wider doorways and one entry into a building with no steps.  These are also helpful to elderly people or young people with a stroller.  I'll talk more about adaptations and universal design in another blog because people who do not know about it I think will find it interesting. I also think an article in Tech Connect is fascinating. It talks about how necessity motivates invention. Many products have been developed to address a need to include people with disabilities into mainstream communication circles. While initially intended for the disabled community, the end product often benefits the mainstream population. The inventions by Alexander Graham Bell are a good example.    http://www.mymsmyway.com/tech_connect.html  

My latest project with my computer is to fine tune my filing system on my computer. My sons have been making me very aware of using technology to become green.They've been sending me e-mail ZDnet and Cnet and others with great tech news and solutions to problems. And I have found It's much easier and less time consuming to pull up information if it's on the computer well filed than searching through paper files. So even though we cannot do solar panels, electric cars, geothermal etc. I can use less paper for filing and instead use my computer. I can add this to my victory garden,using cloth bags for grocery items and florescent light bulbs.                                             ellie

 

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