Wednesday, 7 April 2010

How to do a presentation if you cant travel

Problem - An email from AGI Northern Ireland asking to see my presentation, but how to get round my travel limitations?

Solution - Apple iChat with theatre!

Having always wanted to see this in action, I immediately decided to try a video presentation, but was unsure how the files would look, or how the sound would work. On checking on the apple website, I found reference to file sharing by theatre. Basically all you do is start a video chat, the go to file, and select the sharing with theatre option and Apple does the rest. It took a while to connect, but once I had rebooted, I simply called up the gents in NI on my buddy list, and waited for the wows once the file opened. The theatre option takes your web cam image to the bottom of the screen, and then shows the powerpoint slides at a native resolution, which was essential for me as the presentation is about mapping and charts! I now never have to travel needlessly again just to give a talk, and seeing as this is a charity and volunteer led organisation, so much the better for keeping costs down.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Palm treo rant

OK, so work just gave me a new Palm Treo for my email on the move. I had an old Treo, which had been
bearable, if somewhat ageing, so was happy to get a like for like. But it isn't.

What ever possessed Palm to shrink the stylus to be shorter than my thumb whilst at the same time making the buttons and screen harder to use? I have very small hands, so never expected this to be an issue. This is surely madness to play with a design so much that it gets worse not better? Yes its thinner, but the thickness wasn't an issue really. To try and compare this to my personal iphone is like trying to compare a goat to a horse when all you want is something to ride to the market. And the goat analogy can continue as the phone is stubborn (wont recognise button presses), awkward (took me an age to get the stylus out before realising its length) but looks good.

When will gadget designers realise that as gadgets become more common, people who aren't young, able bodied, healthy American males or Japanese school girls, use them too? And the 99% of the population who fit into this demographic have long memories when they start to dislike a manufacturer. I had a Palm in the glory days - before windows. It was so far ahead of the game; slick, fast, and easy to use. Each successive version has been worse than the previous one, and I now pray to whatever deity you choose that I will never have another one again. In fact I am talking to my managers about its lack of accessibility to try and get rid of this one.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Sleeping comfortably with Fibromyalgia and Neuropathy pt 2

Having settled on a pillow, the next thing is to try and find a covering that's comfortable. Not an easy job! So heres a few tips I have managed to cobble together by trial and effort.
1 - Keep your shoulders warm. If you are the sort of person that tends to wriggle out of the duvet, then a nightgown or top with a close fitting neck and either short or long sleeves is best, not vest tops. There are a lot of fleecy cotton or T-shirt ones around. If its very cold, then its worth considering a shrug as well.
2 - Ventilate! Fresh air is so much better to sleep with. Of course this is hard if you live in the town, so consider instead some spider plants or orchids/cacti. In NASA tests, a spider plant kept misted to keep the leaves clear works better than any ioniser going, and costs nothing to run. Also orchids and cacti and some other plants give out oxygen at night unlike most other plants so greatly aid your breathing.
3 - Constant temperature. Keeping the window open this winter was good for breathing, but not for my neck. I found a conservatory heater ideal. Its cheap to run, and stops the temperature dropping below zero in the room. The oil filled ones are also silent which is good, I just wish I had been able to find one without a glowing light on the side, but duck tape soon sorts that out.
4 - Quiet. I use earplugs. for disposable ones, I found the ones from superdrug the softest, with Boots a close second (I tried more types than I can remember!). This gets expensive after a while, so I got myself some fitted ones from audio relief which have lasted two years and are so comfy they don't kick off my neuropathy either.
5- Dark. Its natural to sleep in the dark. I have some masks for when I am away from the dark of the countryside or if its a really bright moon. I have also masked every LED or banned them from the bedroom - No TV!!. My Pure Evoke radio is great as its almost totally dark (just one little light in the corner to cover).
6 - Natural fibres. I have found many options, and definitely find something natural best. down duvets were my favourite until recently, but this kicks off sinus issues, which most of us sufferers get apparently, so I decided to ask for a silk duvet for Christmas, and am so happy I did. I got a his n hers duvet with 10 tog on my side and 4 on my husbands. Silk is anti-allergy so this is great, and they are far more popular now so are available from many stores. The lightness of the duvet is also good - you wont believe you could possibly be warm with so little depth of covering, but you can! I also just got some lovely cotton bedding and a cotton padded throw from La Redoute
7 - A "dawn" alarm clock. In the dark of winter, this really helps you wake refreshed. I have a Naf Naf one from Amazon, but again there are loads now - a cheaper option would be to buy a daylight bulb and a timer switch.

I slept with this lot last night, and even though my husband was snoring, the dog sneaked in, and its was a really cold night, I slept really well, and hope my readers do too!

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

iPad accessibility

I admit it, I am waiting for my ipad - my 40th birthday was last december, but I put off having any presents until the new range of tablets came out. I looked very carefully at the ranges on offer, and the Notion Ink device came a very close second for me. However the fact that I wanted something very light, that turned on and off immediately, and could play my audio books in the background whilst doing some serious work without the need for a stylus swung it for me. Talking of styli - I just got a new Palm PDA from work, and the stylus is even smaller than last time - so thats not gonna get used, and the screen is less responsive than ever. I am not surprised they aren't doing very well.

But back to the iPad - so have got agreement form even the most diehard anti apple guys in the office that the iPad was the one for me, I have been waiting and watching with increasing lust, and envy of the americans who are getting their hands on them this Saturday. My husband has already warned me he draws the line at waiting in a queue for one, so I will be web ordering. I am disappointed that they don't seem to be offering engraving at the moment, as that would have been the icing on the cake for me. However some of this disappointment has been mollified by this page.

At last! Someone realises that accessibility needs to be built in, not just added as an afterthought with software. I shall definitely be using the zoom, high contrast and triple click from time to time, but love the voice over ideas. I cant wait to see what others make of it as well. Top marks, Apple - now when can I have my birthday present!?!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Wrist Splints - The winner

I was still in so much pain, I had to continue in my search, so I am so pleased to report success! I ordered an LP wrist brace from Amazon. They are lightweight moulded plastic with a soft lining, and two adjustable quick release straps. They come in different sizes, and I went for the middle one. I am right at the smaller end of this one, but it feels really good on. The fact that it isn't enclosing is great and my neuropathy has completely gone. It is also so comfortable that I went happily to sleep wearing it so didn't undo the healing overnight. I am now going to get a lefthand one, and keep them by my computer for those days when I don't want want to strain my wrist by too much typing - like next week when I have to catch up on last week... Oh and a final point - the release mechanism is totally silent so I have no worries about having to adjust/remove it in a meeting. Worth every single penny!!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Socks for Neuropathy

A note about socks - and if you have neuropathy, you don't need to know anything more than that! - the daily struggle to find socks that don't make things worse.

Next - Coloured Footbed socks, OK for not too sensitive days as the pattern thickens up the sole a bit, close fitting so no good on swollen leg days, but OK otherwise. Slogan ankle socks - too thin for winter wear if you suffer from the cold, and generally too tight at the top if you don't have stick legs, too high nylon content for my feet, generally nasty to wear, but fun for a teenagers christmas present...

Marks and Spencers - Standard Cotton Rich socks - looser round the top but grip well a good low cost option. Padded sports socks - the extra layer of thick towelling make these my favourite socks. There are several types from trainer socks, through to plain black ankle socks. Warm and cosy, best ones I have found for those sensitive days when you don't want to put your foot on the floor.

Softop Socks - Available from many stockists. A nice luxury option for bad leg days, the special top just hugs your legs rather than grips. The high wool content ones are good for days when you want extra warmth, but the soles are thinner so not as good for sensitive soles. However on cold winter days, these inside a pair of sheepskin boots keep my feet so cosy and able to breathe that my neuropathy didn't kick off as much so a good option for your christmas list. They are a great option for bed-socks too, if you cant stand all the synthetic fibre ones.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Wrist Splints from thermoskin

As is the Way with Fibromyalgia, my wrist decided to play up this week. For no reason at all, I couldn't bend it, and couldn't lift anything heavier than a pencil! The pharmacy staff at Boots both in the town and village have been excellent, but I am still struggling sadly. First of all I tried a simple crepe bandage - tried and tested, but no good for doing anything much with my hand. Much as I enjoy being a lady of leisure, I still have to earn a living.

So something better was needed. I first of all tried a Thermoskin Carpel wrist brace. The splint was beautifully fitted to my wrist and palm and very comfortable, but the bottom strap didn't do up very well over my swollen forearms, so the spiky side of the velcro rubbed a bit. However this was nothing to the pain the next day - I seem to have developed a reaction to it, despite it being breathable. My neuropathy has kicked off so badly on my wrist that I now am in agony after just 20 minutes of wear.

My hand was not affected, so I went back to boots and this time just got a simple wrist strap which fits above the now sensitive bit. Its very comfy, but not as supportive, and pulls the joint at the base of my thumb a bit. However this is much better than the adhesive bandage I decided to try in the middle of all this. Never again will I adhere anything to already sensitised skin! Yes, I know it sounds basic, but you don't always think straight during pain do you?

I am now hoping it goes away very soon, or I have no idea what to buy next :(

More info: