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No, I’m not deceased, just busy doing other things

Busy? Oh yeah. Health problems. Life problems. Computer and Internet problems.
All of the above and more. Sigh.
Back later. Take care of yourselves.

No, I have not forgotten this blog… yes, it does look like I have

Life goes on and along the way things change. My interest in this blog has changed because there doesn’t seem to be any purpose for it anymore. I can speak and use my voice on Twitter and on Facebook. Where does a blog fit in with those very interactive social media platforms?
Just what do I want to talk about anyhow?
My life? It sucks at times but you don’t need to hear that stuff.
My aspirations for my Model Trains? I have dreams but recent injuries and continual budgetary restrains have pout that hobby into a dark corner.
There is more than enough political discourse, you don’t need to get my views.
Fast running out of ideas here. Sigh.
Looks like I had better head back to YouTube where I am dreaming of spending time in the UK putt-putting on a narrow-boat across the English countryside like David Johns and his Cruising the Cut vlogs. Ahh, just feel the Serenity…

Oh My, where has the time gone?

It has been years since I have been back here. Lots of good intentions to publish updates but nothing achieved.

Some quick news on my health as the RSI originally had some focus when this site was first set up.
Last year I was able to purloin my Annual 5 free visits to Allied Health Professionals to visiting a lovely Chiropractor, Dr Reader in Salisbury, SA.
Looking at an MRI scan of my neck and back done in 2012 she was able to spot what had not been visible/noticeable on the X-ray equipment  back at the time of my vehicle accident in early 1985. There was whiplash damage to my spine at the shoulder level and it is her opinion that the injury triggered the RSI symptoms thus it is likely that all treatment since then has only managed to pacify the effect, not reach to the cause. Her treatment and focused manipulation of the vertebra is making progress but my left arm is usually ‘feral’ most days now.
I am keeping myself busy with Home Renovation projects, I might share them here but no breath holding, please 😉
I also Volunteer in the Emergency Department of the Lyell McEwin Hospital and work a 5-hour shift every Monday afternoon. This is such a fun and rewarding role and I just love being there and meeting all the patients and their visiting supporters.
Plus I am a volunteer with the Twelve25 Youth Centre in John St, Salisbury. There I am a Mentor for the Wheels-In-Motion programme. WIM provides a car and Supervising Driver for people who, for one reason or another, cant get access to a car or driver to go through the hours needed to become a Licensed Driver. It’s a lot of fun!

I am still a Professional Santa Claus having started in the role in 2003. In 2014 I was Santa Claus for Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. In 2016 I was the Santa in residence for the Sydney Santa Spectacular. While travel broadens the mind I still have a preference for working locally, especially when there are families that follow my locations so they can be sure of getting a visit with their regular Santa. One highlight f the 2017 Season was being Santa for the Renmark Community Christmas Parade. That was a real laugh and Iso hope they invite me back.

So, I am still alive and fairly well and getting on with Life. I will try to be a tad more regular in my updates. The focus of this site will also shift to encompass the things I am doing in my life and interactions I am having.

Review: Dragon Dictate 4.0 for Mac – The best speech recognition app gets even better

So if I had a MAc I would definately be thinking seriously of taking this advice…

Still trying to tame that Dragon

Not been around for a while, time and health have not been conducive. Dragon is running on the Desktop but I have spent about 2 or 3 months trying to rebuild the office and so been working off the little ASUS EEE 1000H.

That beastie now runs Windows 7 and Deepin Linux (1). Deepin Linux is not a reference to what I am normally ‘Deep in’ rather it is a version of Linux developed in Mainland China. It is a great Linux, very fast and responsive and a really pleasant look-and-feel to the interface. Anyway, I have been trying to make it my main system at least until I can get my office back and get back to using the Desktop PC again. I have been working the last few days to get some speech recognition going under the Linux as my arms are simply not handling the keyboard activity too well.

There is a great utility for Linux called Wine which is a Windows emulator, it makes Windows programs think they are running in a Windows environment. I even managed to get it installed and then get Dragon 12 installed. So far so good he thinks. Then I was able to apply the Dragon Service Pack which brought it up to version 12.5. Great he thought.

Worked fine yesterday for some simple dictation. Tonight was horrid in comparison. Dragon has somehow lost the ability to select text, make corrections, do anything other than do the typing of what it thinks you want to say. Deep Sigh.

Back to the drawing board and now looking for Linux-based alternative speech recognition programs. There are some out there but none are anywhere near the sophistication of Dragon on Windows or Mac.

More news if I ever can track these things down, get them installed and trained and working. In fact that will be great news for me.

Till then friends and listeners, thanks for sticking with me and hopefully I can get back to being a bit more regular in my updates.

(1) Deepin Linux can be found at their Home page:


Well that ended my study phase

I guess it’s about time that I updated the site and clarified what’s been going on with me and around me.

The work I was doing for that University course never got completed and got recorded as a Fail. I went through several weeks of on-again off-again pain and the Tramadol taken with the Lyrica blew my concentration out the window. At times the sedation was affecting me so much that I would fall asleep every 30 minutes or so and if I was reading I’d forget what was the last sentence that I had read.

Even though I was given extra time, by July I had told the school and Open Universities that it simply wasn’t working out and to take me off their lists.

Since then I’ve focused on just getting through the day and doing as little as possible that might upset my arms and caused me to hit the painkillers again. Every now and then I find that I’ve been unsuccessful, the pain comes, I take the painkillers, I lose a day in a haze.

I’m still a little active, I still do chores around the house, at least the chores that I can do without causing the problems to exacerbate. At present I’m volunteering each weekend at the local hospital where I act as a patient guide providing information and physical guidance to help visitors get around the hospital. It is a lot of fun and the physical activity, I walk miles during a shift, it is very good for me and I feel better inside and out for doing the work.

So back to this site. I intend to keep it going.  It will cover the kinds of things that I’m doing or things I might want to add a comment about or events and activities that I get involved in.It will expand to cover other aspects of my life such as my Model Railway hobbies.

I hope I am able to keep a regular posting schedule but that depends on too many factors for me to say it’s going to happen like that.

I thank you for hanging around while all of this circus was taking place in my life and I hope in the future I can find more interesting things to share with you.

Site is now being marked – Updated 2/06/13

This site has been submitted for marking as an Assignment in my Web Communications Unit with Curtin University. As part of the Course Requirements the site is now locked down so that it can be marked. I am not allowed to make any updates or other changes to the site until the marks have all been confirmed. That might take 2 or 3 weeks so until then hang in there and check back from time to time. Soon as I get clearance I will update the site.

Until then, cheers for now.


As I have been so off the planet with the changeover of painkillers I have not been able to complete and submit my final assignments. All Assignments are to be marked together as a special arrangement for me so if you are waiting for more news from me, sorry. Oh, the  new drugs are called Lyrica and they seem to offer a pretty good life for me once they stabilise. So, just waiting for a day when I am coherent and the screen looks recognisable to me so that I can try to complete the other Assignments. Stay cool. See you later.

Update 2:

Another update: Because of the relapse and continuing side effects of the injury and the painkillers, I was given extra time to complete the other required elements but have not been able to do so. I have therefore requested that this Unit be marked at Unfinished and whatever marks gained be locked in. I have also requested evaluation of this site and the supporting elements to give me some idea of the marks that I have achieved for the work that I have done. Until that marking is done and the information is provided I will still remain hands off from here to allow the marking to cover the work done within the Unit timeframe.

I have not forgotten this site and I fully intend to fire it up as soon as that becomes possible.

Until then, thanks for looking by and take care of your selves till we meet again.

The Healing Power of Sleep

Sleep, new research reveals, is a master regulator of health. A sleep deficit or disruption can create wide-ranging havoc, compromising our immune system, causing inflammation, and damaging our genes. Losing just an hour of sleep a night increases risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Lack of sleep can also lead to memory loss, negatively affect people’s reflexes and decision-making skills, cause hearing loss and psychiatric disease, and impede sexual function.

And it’s not just people who suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea who have to worry, says James Maas, PhD, a recently retired Cornell scientist and one of the world’s foremost sleep researchers. He says at least seven out of 10 Americans aren’t getting enough sleep and they’re at risk for serious health problems, as well.

“People devalue sleep and are completely unaware of what happens to them when they have a deficit,” Maas says. “As a society we are so habituated to low levels of sleep that most of us don’t know what it feels like to be fully alert and awake.”
Read the full article: The Healing Power of Sleep

Often getting to bed well after midnight, 1AM, 2AM even 3AM and now-and-then 4AM I would have to be a prime candidate for sleep deprivation. Combine that with usually waking around 4 to water the horse and see my wife off when she drives my son to work. Then I’m usually up before 7:30 to get our daughter up and running for School. That adds up to a whole lot of missed sleep. Working into the late hours on Research and Assignments which add to the already high stress levels and it may not be such a surprise that my body has crashed.

A Small Contribution for Nonexpert Speech Recognition Users

Sorry that I have not been posting any updates. I have been having a horrible time due to a flare-up of my RSI Injury and the subsequent medication and adjustment. At present I’m on indeterminate leave from my University studies and I just don’t know when I will be able to continue them. The combination of pain and sedation really doesn’t give me much chance of study and research.

I have just found a very interesting post in the Forums of

Let me share the full post from this contributor as he has quite a story to tell which in many respects is similar to my situation and where I’m headed…

A Small Contribution for Nonexpert Speech Recognition Users

via A Small Contribution for Nonexpert Speech Recognition Users | Speech Computing73384.

Below you will find my personal survival guide for navigating personal computers through speech recognition. I have compiled it over years as some sort of personal blog, taking note of useful software and tricks as they came along.

I am posting it in the hope that other folks who are suddenly forced to abandon using keyboard and mouse will realize that there is hope, and so others may benefit from little tricks that took me forever to figure out. A lot of these are available elsewhere online, but I thought it might be useful to collect them together so that they are easily available for new or less experienced users. Some of these I came up myself, although I would not be surprised this others before me have also documented them.

Wherever possible I have tried to link to the original source of the helpful material. I am grateful to the speech recognition user community for their active and useful presence online. The various topics are presented in order of importance in my opinion. I will not be able to maintain and update this regularly, but I do plan to continue collecting interesting hints and tips, and if these additions reach critical mass I will try my best to repost.

My personal story is that as a result of round-the-clock coding since a very young age I am no longer able to use my hands to control a keyboard, mouse, iPhone/iPad, etc. So, I am forced to rely on speech recognition exclusively. The positive message that I would like to convey is that if you invest in conquering the admittedly very steep learning curve, you will be able to do the vast majority of the things that you need on a desktop, and even be faster at some of them. A top-of-the-line machine with all the necessary software should cost you less than $3000 and if your employer will not cover this cost you might be able to get financial assistance elsewhere.

I have no commercial interests of any kind in any of the programs or suggestions mentioned below.

You will note that some of the useful tricks below rely on free third-party software. To the extent that you can, please donate to the authors of the software.

Good luck to everyone!

Update: I did ask the author for permission to post this here and his response was;

that’s no problem at all. I hope you find it helpful, and good luck.
Submitted by DragonSpeechRookie on Tue, 03/19/2013 – 02:27.

The Spoon Theory … support for those with invisible illness or chronic illness

The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino …support for those with invisible illness or chronic illness.

“I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.

Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.”

The Spoon Theory” describes what it is like to live each day making choices on what you can and can’t do with your day that the “normal” people just don’t think another thing about. Some days I have to make choices about ‘Do I brush my hair or not’ or a few times it has even been as base and elemental as, ‘what will it cost me in pain if I wipe my bum’.
I have had those days and there isn’t any joy there but you just prioritise on the things you have to do and other things get left by the wayside, family, chores, studies. Doesn’t matter. If they’re going to bring you more hurt then you drop them hoping that next day you might actually be able to get things done, that you will “have more spoons”.

Flickr Photos

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