Category Archives: My News

First four months in Howick

It was a very first difficult month, my room is really small. Making it difficult to find a suitable position for the wheelchair when helping me. I got a new 3/4 bed on Tuesday (13 May), my double bed just took up too much space.

Also the basin is far too low for me, which means I need more help.

Not to mention having to shower now, since there is no bath. It takes hours for my body temperature to normalise after showering.

I finally got Adsl on 19 March. So I had to use 3G for six weeks.  The connection was fast usually in 10-14Mb range, but I only had 20Gb for the month.

And to top it off, we waited until early May for the buyer of our house to pay transfer! 13 weeks after we moved. The first we knew about a problem with the transfer was 4 February, 4 days after we moved! So we have to ask the question, why did the lawyers doing the transfer wait till then to inform us. Considering most people pay transfer up to 6 weeks before occupation date. We’re still waiting for the buyer to pay the occupational rent owed.

For the first two weeks our dog kept my mom awake at night.

Frustratingly, as we suspected all along, it was confirmed in mid April that my helper is pregnant, despite all the denials! Which as most of you will probably realise is a major problem for us. My helper brought someone else and spent the last two weeks of April attempting to train her. Now that she’s on maternity leave, we saw how poor a attempt she made. My mom and I are having to slowly train her. Which is a frustrating mentally draining, repetitive task. By the third week she was virtually trained. The replacement has done a far better job and has shown how badly my helper was doing the job! We heard today (1 June) my helper had a baby girl yesterday.

Winter isn’t going to be much fun for me, even with an aircon. My room is a thoroughfare and my door is left open far too often. Even now in early May the temperature change has been difficult.

The move has helped the stress levels in some areas. But the additional things I need help with (mentioned above), have increased the strain on my mom.

2013 News

It’s been a long time since I posted. Since I made the choice as far as possible not to focus on the negative aspects in my circumstances.

Johan, my stepfather died in March. As a result of this and several other factors my mom has sold our house. We will be moving to Amberfield (Howick, KZN) in the new year. The unit is much smaller so we’re downsizing a lot, selling a lot of stuff, mostly for way less than they’re worth. Moving to Amberfield isn’t my ideal choice, but with my care needs, I have no other option.

Late last year I was sponsored a new wheelchair and Roho cushion by the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation. Unfortunately, I couldn’t adjust to the chair. Recently someone from CE Mobility came to see me, and after evaluating me has made suggestions for customizing the chair, which should hopefully make it more suitable.

This year a pastor from my local church has been doing bible study with me. It’s been a tremendous help since I went many years without meaningful group study.

One of the biggest issues for me with moving will be, what internet connection can I get in Howick? Amberfield doesn’t allow residents to have lines laid for Adsl. At present the options don’t look very good, slow, over priced, low usage, wireless options. I am still hoping a solution can be found. But whatever I’m able to get, I’ll probably need help paying for it.

I have done a few online courses in the last year. With the two I enjoyed the most being, Introduction to Systematic Program Design – Part 1 on Coursera Introduction to systematic program design & Metadata: Organizing and Discovering Information.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts in the past, I’m trying to bring my lecture notes from KMBC into the 21st century (font, formatting and style wise). But it is a larger job than I initially realised, it’s hundreds of lectures, far too many to do manually. So I’m slowly working on an automated system, it’s taking longer than I hoped. I’ll have to do a separate post on the technical problems I have to solve to successfully complete this.

I’ve spent a lot of time playing Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances this year.

And as those who visit me know, I’ve watched a lot of tv episodes this year.

Latest News January-April 2012

I last posted in September, as I usually say not much has happened since then. I don’t like to focus on the negative, but it is hard not to when I see the strain my mom is under every day. My mom and I have been devising ways to try and lessen her work load. She has shown a friend how to prepare my lunch, which has enabled her to go out and leave me on my own for longer periods.

Frustratingly, there are people, who out of ignorance or whatever you want to call it, think that we exaggerate how difficult it is to provide full-time care for a frail, physically disabled person. Somehow we need to find volunteers who are able and willing to assist with my late afternoon and evening routine. It is during this period of the day that my mom takes the most strain, sometimes having to work until 10 pm, which isn’t easy.

However, we have discovered that even when we have a full-time person assisting there’s no guarantee they’ll stay for more than a few months, the consequence of which is that we have to train up a new person, which is costly and very taxing on my mom. Our situation simply has to change, but as to exactly how we are going to plot the way forward is unclear. We don’t have sufficient funds for a full-time care giver and we still need to find the right person. If the situation doesn’t improve significantly, my mom will eventually crack under the constant strain of having to take care of my every need.

After reading this you should have a clear picture in you minds of what we have to endure on a daily basis and an idea of some people’s interpretations of our situation. We are very grateful to all of you who are helping financially and who visit regularly.

This will be my last post focusing on the negative in my situation (those that visit me will see the situation as it is and for those that can’t or don’t visit me, not much is likely to change). From now on I will try and focus on the positive and on news and events that interest me.

Below is list of a couple of things I have done in the last few months.

  • I have (as always) tried to learn and discover new things in the field of web design.
  • I have done some x264 video encoding.
  • I have been restyling and formatting my notes from TAP (now called KMBC). I’ll post them online when I’m finished.
  • While the weather has been warm and I have the energy, I have been playing computer games, in particular Mass Effect 3.

Lastly, I wish there was a way to properly interact with the computer, beyond typing and voice dictation. I can only type for a short while when I use dictation. After about an hour or so, my vocal cords get tired and accuracy consequently drops.

May – September news 2011

The only news I have for May is, is sad news, on 23 May we had to have our Yorkshire terrier, Bobby put to sleep. He was at least 12 years old (we don’t know how old he was when we got him), he was deaf and blind, he had a lot of pain in the joints in his back legs.

Not much happened in June, other than the start of winter, which as some of you will know, I have a lot less energy in winter.

But, on 26 June at around 3 PM, Johan my step-father had a stroke and seizure, he was taken to hospital by ambulance. He spent four days in ICU, he was then moved to a normal ward for another four days. He has recovered somewhat, but it appears he has atrial fibrillation, so he is having to take it easy now.

As in June, there isn’t much news for July. I continued to work on the website that I’ve been working on for most of the year, albeit at a slower pace due to the colder weather. The other thing I remember in July is two years since my terrible hospital experience.

In August we had some of the coldest days of the year, 10°C or less. Thankfully in the last two weeks it has warmed up, as a result I have probably done more work in these two weeks than in the last 2 1/2 months. Some of the work I did, was on a new template, logo and colour scheme for my blog(again something that I have been working on all year).

In September it was warmer again, but we did have some cold days. On the third it was my 35th birthday, I had a few friends around for tea. I continued to work on my new blog theme, as well a website I’m responsible for maintaining.

To end off, not much has changed with regard to my caregiving situation, my mom is still under enormous strain. Financially things have improved somewhat, but we are still around 50% short each month. Physically and emotionally, I can see the strain increasing virtually every week.

Media industry and piracy / Internet freedom

At first glance, my title might appear to be concerned with two separate issues, but hopefully by the time you finish reading this you will realise that the media industry and politicians in the U.S. and many other countries are trying to make this one issue. My thoughts on these issues aren’t new, but I feel it’s important to post about it, especially considering the dubious new legislation being proposed.

Wikileaks has forced politicians and the media industry, particularly in the U.S., to try and tighten their control on the use of the Internet (https://www.eff.org/coica), which is not surprising because only now (more than a decade late) are they realising that the Internet, more often than not, puts the power in the hands of the users. Wikileaks has also put the fear of God into government and big business because these institutions now realise all their corrupt and underhanded dealings could end up on the Internet for the whole world to see.

It’s high time the media industry and those they are paying bribes to, are exposed for who they really are. When I refer to the media industry, I mean the RIAA, MPAA, and all other organisations and third parties they use worldwide to supposedly enforce copyright infringement. The days of operating like a cartel and blatantly overcharging consumers are over and the practice of slicing up of the world into geographic regions where each local entity of the larger media company is free to overcharge and exploit the consumer, should also end.

If the industry weren’t so arrogant, they would realise how much money they are losing by preventing consumers from other geographical regions from being able to buy from Amazon, iTunes and other media streaming websites. One has to ask the question why the media industry doesn’t seem to understand economies of scale.  A recent article on the issue: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/03/report-piracy-a-global-pricing-problem-with-only-one-solution.ars makes for interesting reading.

Instead of adjusting their business models to allow for worldwide legal digital downloads, the media industry have resorted to suing their buying audience and lobbying politicians for legislation that protects there archaic business model and greed.  Furthermore, I recently heard someone from the industry blaming all their problems on piracy and lying about the true cause for their woes before Congress (so much for the oath). Refer to http://torrentfreak.com/piracy-has-all-but-dismantled-our-recorded-music-industry-110217/ to view their tirade.

When RIAA members hold press conferences, they always bring out their flagship artists who represent a small minority of their clientele. These press conferences do not paint a true picture of the manner in which the media industry treats its clients. Any other industry in the world would be investigated and heavily fined if they treated their clients in the manner in which they do. However, it is not surprising since the RIAA has paid off all the necessary people to ignore their dubious practices.

The MPAA has recently instigated a lawsuit against hotfile (hotfile.com), part of which alleges the website encourages and rewards users for uploading illegal content. The irony of this is that if MPAA members adjusted their business model and devised their own system allowing for legal worldwide digital downloading, the need for file sharing hosts would be almost non-existent. Just imagine all the dollar amounts paid to hotfile and many other file-sharing hosts going to MPAA members for an annual subscription for legal digital downloads. However, it is highly unlikely that this will ever happen given the MPAA’s greed and ignorance of digital technology.

Next on the agenda are the recent actions of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with regard to the seizure of domain names. One occurrence could well be a coincidence, but three times, most certainly not! Yes, they have seized innocent domains together with supposedly guilty ones on three occasions and now they have gone even further, seizing the domain of a person who was linking to streaming sites. Refer to: (http://act.demandprogress.org/sign/dhscomplaint/?akid=344.320406.sJSEV7&rd=1&t=2). Despite what they claim, questions need to be asked regarding the competence and motivation of the agents as is evident in the affidavit in the above-mentioned case and various TV interviews.

Who would have thought in 2011 we would be discussing U.S. government institutions violating the right to due process, accepting false and misleading information from the MPAA and others as sufficient grounds for the issuing of warrants. We usually witness this type of behaviour from so-called “rogue regimes” but it does not surprise me since most politicians have been in cahoots with big business and special interest groups since at least the 1960’s.

When the Obama administration took up office, we heard about former RIAA lawyers joining the Justice Department. We all know how it’s supposed to work with regard to what they can and can’t work on, but one can’t help but wonder, especially in light of all the recent domain seizures and the COICA legislation and other activities, what they are actually working on. Here’s an example: Joe Biden was a close Senate ally of copyright holders, and President Obama picked top copyright industry lawyers for Justice Department posts. Last year, Biden stated, “piracy is theft.” Refer to http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20043421-281.html

Therefore, to conclude, I’d like to share some advice as to what you can do about all this. If you live in the U.S., ask all your elected officials if they are receiving any money from the RIAA, MPAA or any of their members and similar organisations. If yes, then tell them you will no longer vote for them. You can also remind them that piracy is only part of the issue and that the media industry must be forced to adjust their business model to allow for legal, worldwide digital downloads of movies, music and TV episodes.

It is also critically important to tell them to support organisations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others working to defend the rights of the public in the digital world, exposing suspicious legislation, fighting for transparent debate on proposed legislation and ensuring that outdated laws are updated as soon as possible. Lastly, tell them that piracy and Wikileaks are unacceptable excuses for blatant Internet censorship. Refer them to the terrorism buzzword and the Patriot Act for a good example.