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Please note that any reviews/recommendations are based solely on my own experience and does not constitute a guarantee that you will have the same experience. Please do your own research before parting with any money - the risk is all yours!

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facebook-icon-28x28.pngVisit my Briticiser Facebook Page to keep up with things here - lots of reviews of stuff I’ve really used and also all kinds of helpful computer tips with a heavy bias towards SAVING YOU TIME.

Computer bugs… everywhere!

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry150526-102839

Just like these:

http://www.whatsthatbug.com/2006/01/03/computer-loving-mites/

I added a comment there with my own plan to get rid of the little buggers (see copy below in case it never made it past the moderator) [Read More…]

Watching the snow

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry131213-165539

It’s the little pleasures in life that mean the most, like watching someone stand and watch the snow on his own for the first time in half a dozen years.

20131212-3 20131212-1

20131212-2

A tennis ball and a frying pan

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry130227-024833

I recently started getting Georgi to roll a small ball under his feet as I figured it would help him to regain a little bit of control over his legs. He seems to enjoy it but the problem is that he currently has such poor control that the ball keeps rolling away.

I was thinking about buying a wok or something to make the ball roll back but I think I’ll try a large frying pan for the time being. Even a large plate would probably do the trick - a wok’s probably too convex for him to roll his foot around in, come to think of it.

I wondered if this was some sort of recognised exercise so I went looking and found this excellent set of [Read More…]

Make your own gait trainer - Part 3

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry130223-132150

<< Part 2 || Part 4 (coming soon!) >>

In part 2 of this project I decided to change the design to use Unistrut instead of welded box section. Well, because I can I’ve decided to revert to using box section mainly because I have someone who is willing to build it for me, albeit with a much simpler design. The other reason is that, although the Unistrut design is quite sound I’d need to import the hand winch - maybe the pulley wheels too BUT I think it could be built without those now, and just have the wire rope running around metal posts with some PTFE tape wrapped around them.

Once I’ve got Georgi’s gait trainer built I’d like to go back and redesign the Unistrut version, but here are the drawings for the latest incarnation. [Read More…]

Make your own gait trainer - Part 2

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry130217-221004

<< Part 1 || Part 3 >>

In my first post on this project I showed the initial design I did for the base of a LiteGait-like gait trainer. I also mentioned that I was looking closely at how I could use Unistrut instead of using box section. Having trawled through the Unistrut catalogue I now think I’ll go this route, for the following reasons. [Read More…]

Make your own gait trainer and save money

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry130217-032118

Click the following link if you prefer to jump straight to part 2 to catch up with my latest ideas about how to build this thing:

http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry130217-221004

When I began taking a serious look at what type of gait trainer to get Georgi I was quite dismayed. The cost of these devices is quite prohibitive unless you can get some sort of assistance. The range of equipment available is quite wide too, so wide that it’s easy to get confused about which machine will do the best job.

This article is part 1 of a work in progress and will (hopefully) document my thinking and describe a gait trainer which can be made much more cheaply that you can buy a commercial model for. For anyone on a budget - and unless you are very lucky you probably are - then this article should provide you with sufficient information to help you to build one too. In my case I’m enlisting the help of someone with a good metalwork shop, but if you have a local wrought iron metalworker or blacksmith then this might be something they’d be able to tackle for you. They might even do it for a knock down price if you can get a piece written about it in your local newspaper - it’d be great publicity for them. [Read More…]

Biodex FreeStep SAS - Supported Ambulation System

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry130208-022754

In my search to try and find something to help Georgi to learn to walk again I ran into the Biodex FreeStep SAS - Supported Ambulation System, which is surprisingly similar to an idea we were throwing around for fun in our warehouse today - which involved using Unistrut channel and channel nuts: [Read More…]

Georgi’s gone to Armenia!

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry120428-114818

We were tipped off by a great friend of ours about a rehab centre in Yerevan (the capital of Armenia) so last weekend we rented a Dodge Caravan and headed down there - it’s only a 6-hour drive from Tbilisi.

yerevan.jpg

The specialist here in Tbilisi had been to see him a few weeks ago and suggested that he needs an operation to straighten his legs, so we mentioned this place to him and he knew all about it, knew the specialist down there very well indeed, and urged us to take Georgi down there if possible as the therapy he could get there is like nothing he can get in Georgia.

Our friend in Armenia did a bit of groundwork for us - sorted an apartment out for us and made an appointment to see the specialist, though we didn’t know beforehand whether they could do anything for him.

I was very impressed by the professionalism and general “can-do” attitude we were met with in Armenia - so much different to Georgia where people are more interested in lining their own pockets by opening fancy clinics which look like hotels, but which fall well short of all the promises made on their websites when you scratch the surface.

In contrast the rehab centre we went to in Armenia was run as more of a public service (so it seemed) and the people who we saw there seemed to tick all the right boxes for me. They said they would give him physio & speech therapy for a month, and that I would definitely see some positive changes at the end of it. My wife’s certainly been impressed during the first few days of Georgi going there, and Georgi enjoys it too as there are lots of other children there and the place itself is set in it’s own little grounds with small cottages for parents and their children to stay in.

They’re going to use Botox on his legs (to relax the muscles from what I can tell). I was a bit surprised about this till I read up on it.

Fingers crossed it all works out. It was a bit of a gamble renting a place for a month and taking him down there, without knowing what they’d say, but so far so good.

It’s all go at the moment!

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry120119-060218

My little soccer team Darlington F.C. (The Mighty Darlo) DID actually go bust yesterday and I was about to head down to the Hangar Bar and turn my Darlington scarf upside down, but the fans gathered round the body and resuscitated it…

Darlington go bust and then revived after fans raise £200,000

The club have NO staff (not even players) - they were all made redundant by the Administrator but the backroom staff are all volunteering to help stage the two next home games, the coach is working for free, and what players are still around are going to play on a match-by-match basis. The fans are collecting money to pay their wages while our “Rescue Group” tries to thrash out some sort of community-led business plan. The coach, Crag Liddle, deserves an OBE or something - he’s really the Youth Team coach who’s been looking after the first team for the past few weeks, he’s Darlington through-and-through and a monument to all that is good and decent about the game. I think he’s been the glue which has kept us all together - even the players who had to leave (they had to earn a living) were gutted at abandoning ship and many ex-players have sent messages of support or even donated to the fund.

The first is at home to table-topping Fleetwood on Saturday and we’ve got fans coming from all over the country for a Fans United day where they wear their own club colours. The second home game is against nearby rivals York City - so we’re expecting a bumper crowd for that game too.

darlington-fc-next-game.jpg

I’m also one of the admins for this page…

http://www.facebook.com/savedarlingtonfc

I’d really appreciate it if anyone reading this could “Like” that page and help spread the word. We’ve got about 10 days grace to save the club from extinction - Georgi’s quite upset about it - following Darlington is something which helps to fill his world up and if there’s no match for us to sit down and listen to on a Saturday then he’s going to make me get the colouring books out, or build the same Lego car I’ve built ten times before, or get all his toy cars out…. again…

P.S. if you would be so kind could you please print out the poster at the bottom of that first link (or just click here) and stick it somewhere prominent.

Up the Darlo!

Paul

Half full or half empty?

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry111105-063412

Here’s to the next half-century. Got a nice new jumper and this great birthday card from Georgi – I think I’m the really slim one with the full head of hair on the right!

paul-50th-birthday-card

Making yorkshire puddings and mash tonight – I’m normally banned from using the oven and stinking the house out with the aroma of yorkshire pudding (no, I don’t know why either) but today is an exception.

I hope the day is rounded off with a fine win for Darlo, and boy how they need it. Footie report (sponsored by Kleenex) to follow :(

Georgi has his own web site!

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry111104-122718

Georgi’s having fun posting links to his favourite films, music and games etc. on his new blog. He had one before but couldn’t use it very well so I took out a domain name for him and set him a new one up.

http://blog.georgi.co.uk/

blog.georgi.co.uk

“FlatPress” is the blogging software I used to create his blog as it’s very easy to install, setup and use, but the real beauty of it is that it allows you to write and edit your posts using Windows Live Writer, which is very much like using Microsoft Word.

Georgi gets a big kick out of seeing his name “up in lights” and loves it when people comment on some of his posts - he has a pretty cool taste in music too ;)

His English is improving all the time, though his spelling is very phonetic (he hasn’t had any English lessons - he’s just picked up what he knows from listening to me and using the internet) but he likes to have a go at sending people replies.

It’d be great if he could use this to make some new friends - being stuck in the house all the time means he doesn’t really have any :( so I figure this is as good a way as I can think of to try and remedy that.

Also, if anyone out there has kids in a similar position, and you’d like any help setting them up with a similar blog so they can do the same just let me know.

You don’t really need to register a domain name - though it adds a nice touch - and there are plenty of cheap (even some free) places on the internet where you can host your blog. http://www.110mb.com is one of the free ones I know of.

A friend of mine runs his own hosting company so in my case all it took was a quick check to see what domain names were available, and a quick email to my friend asking him to register the name and set the server space up. In case anyone wants to go down that tried and trusted route then, again, just let me know and I’ll act as a go-between for you and make the process as painless as possible.

Games for “one-handers”

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry111104-080255

In my never-ending search for things to keep Georgi occupied I found a couple of easy-to-play games called Pocket Tanks & Super DX Ball which you can control with a mouse, making them ideal for people with limited abilities.

The great thing about Pocket Tanks is that you can either play the computer or you can play someone else on your home or office network (LAN). I used to play MS Hearts on a network - sadly Microsoft decided that LAN games were somehow “bad” and disabled this capability a few years ago.

I found Pocket Tanks when I went looking for games where you could do this because it makes my life as a care-giver a bit easier when I find Georgi something he can operate on his own - it means I don’t have to twist my back and contort my arm to work some of the keys he can’t reach on his keyboard; he has some great games but a lot of them seem to need three hands and about 25 fingers.

These two games are suitable for kids of all ages (even us grown up ones!) and perfect if you’re looking for something to do while you drink your mid-morning cuppa.

As well as having fun playing games like this kids can also learn while they play, particularly in the Pocket Tanks game where you need to get your angles and velocities just right.

Both games are shareware – which means you can try before you buy. There’s a few more details and a couple of tips on how to play them below. Click on the pictures to go directly to the relevant pages with full details and more screenshots, or you can just take my word for it and download them both from the following link:

http://www.blitwise.com/downloads.html

image Pocket Tanks is a nice little game you can either play on your own or against someone on the same local network (LAN) as you. LAN play is as easy as clicking the menu option, creating a game, and waiting for someone else on the network to join. There’s also a useful chat feature built in so you can say “Hi!” to whoever you’re playing against.

If you’re not on a network don’t worry – you can just play against the computer.

Playing the game is very easy to pick up – two tips: “Tracer” is not a weapon – it is just something you can fire to help you to adjust the angle of your tank barrel. If you get hit – chances are you will get hit again on the next turn unless you move your tank. Also, homing worms can be fired under the mountain – if you get the angle right you can hit your opponent from below.

Strategy? If you get your nose in front try to bury your opponent in mud: if they have to shoot their way out they’ll lose points.

image Super DX-Ball is just a single player game, but it’s a pretty good “brick-breaking” game. I’m sure I used to play the original DX-Ball years ago, so I’m glad I found this king of time-wasters!

Destroying some bricks will release little “presents” for you to catch with your “bat”. My only tip is to avoid getting hit by anything red!

My life as a care-giver just got tougher - red card to EA Sports!

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry110326-230258

This is a rant.

I am one of 70,000 or more thoroughly disgruntled fans of EA Sports’ Fifa Online Beta, which was a multi-player online football (soccer) game.

What I discovered when I first tried it (to my joy) was that it was entirely mouse controlled and, having a disabled child with very restricted mobility, I’d finally found a game which he could not only use, but which he could actually beat me at.

In their infinite wisdom EA Sports have decided to end the Beta trial. Great, no problem, where can I pay my money to play the final release? Uh? There IS NO final release?

As I write this Georgi just thinks there’s a problem with the server and that he’ll be able to play his favourite game of all time tomorrow. Really - he has little else in his life which he can do to while away the hours.

He spends most of his life in the same chair in the same room and Fifa Online was a godsend - here was something he could not only play on his own but which he could actually BEAT ME AT, genuinely - no “letting him win” or anything like that. It brought great joy and sense of achievement to Georgi and great relief for my wife and myself - because care-giving is a really tough thing to do, at the best of times.

I wrote an email to the BBC Click programme (a computer show which is where I first heard about the game) and asked if they could raise the question of why EA stopped the beta trial so abruptly, and without any consideration to their many thousands of users. All we got was a “thank you for all your feedback - don’t call us, we’ll call you” posting on their forum:

http://forum.ea.com/ … sts/list/436005.page

From what I can tell they’ve provided no more information since that message and people are crying out for the game to be reinstated. Ok, so they never made any money out of the beta but they built up a HUGE following and could have converted A LOT of those to paying customers if they wanted. Why not simply say that the Beta was coming to an end and call it version 1 (and ask for some money). I would certainly like to pay them some money to keep our little boy occupied.

http://www.collents.eu/georgi

Encephalitis is a life changer

Wedding Cake Suit

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry110215-172409

P1000193_s Lana’s sister got married last week and I was given the honour of transporting the cake across Tbilisi with it balanced on my knees in the front seat of a taxi.

For anyone who knows how smooth and flat Tbilisi isn’t, they’ll understand why my suit looks like it’s been attacked by pigeons.

Why is car hire so expensive at Heathrow?

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry100919-161835
I just got a quote from Thrifty for a compact 5-door for 13 days from the 20th December to the 2nd January. The first price I got was from their branch at Manchester - which is where I normally fly in to, via Istanbul. This would cost about £308 if I prepaid.

EXACTLY the same dates and car but picking up from Heathrow would cost about £695 on their pre-pay deal. Why?

I’m looking to take Lana and Georgi over for a holiday but although the direct flight from Tbilisi to London (BMI) is both cheaper and at better times of the day - the ridiculous cost of the car hire could be a deal-killer.

Getting Georgi on a plane won’t be easy and it’d be easier if we didn’t have to change flights, but it’s not so bad changing planes at Istanbul - and we don’t have to hang around there very long, in either direction. Lana would love the perfume shop there anyway.

I’m not sure we’ll go at Christmas - in some ways it would be good but it might be better to wait until June, and maybe go up to the north of Scotland to witness the “white nights” from there.

Our other option would be to drive across Europe - a bit of a hike but quite cheap (about 400 Euros excluding the car hire) and do-able in about 6 days with 5 stops - 2 in Turkey (Samsun & Istanbul), one on the border between Bulgaria & Serbia, one on the border between Croatia and Slovenia, and a final stop on the German-Dutch border.

I should buy a pop-top.

Posted via email from collents’s posterous

[tag]rants,travel[/tag]

Pssst! Wanna buy some gem stones?

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry100823-222437

In case there’s anyone out there in jewellery-making land who is interested here are some photos of some stones which my father-in-law grinds and polishes. He’s an old-school architect by trade but these days he does his best to make a living by producing these and selling them at the local open-air arts & crafts market, here in Tbilisi.[Read More…]

A plethora of robot suits

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry100805-215056

http://news.3yen.com/2005-09-29/suitably-musclebound/

This pneumatic robot suit is from 2005 - though it is/was supposed to be lighter than it looks as it doesn’t have a metal frame. If it gave you super strength enough to fling cars about - I’d have one myself!

Compare that to this one (from the same era and found on the same site) which is interesting because it detects movements made by a patient’s functioning arm to control the movement made by the other one. This is the kind of thing which could help people like Georgi, who has very restricted use of his right hand.

Of course, what he really (really) wants, is one of these…

plus the suit to go with it!

Argo Medical Technologies - ReWalk™

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry100805-213236

http://www.argomedtec.com/products.asp

The ReWalk™ is another robotic walking aid which is in the works. Unfortunately this still required the wearer to have some sort of balancing skills and pretty full use of both arms and hands, so I guess we can rule this one out for Georgi. I read the price tag would weigh in at a hefty $30-35,000 anyway - so it’s just as well it’s not suitable for him.

Powered Prosthetics and Orthotics - RoboWalker

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry100805-192022

http://yobotics.com/robowalker/robowalker.html

Steve Austin? The Robowalker is another powered walking aid which might one day help Georgi to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Sadly they’re still looking for funding - I hope they get it.

If they’re looking for a guinea pig, then there’s one to be found at the link below.

– 

Please say Hi to Georgi

A robot VisionArm™ for recognising and manipulating objects

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry100805-191003

http://www.smartrobots.com/call_to_arms.php?gclid=COyerunsoqMCFcsf3wod4XcA6g

visionarmtm-20071227s.jpg
I’m sure Georgi would love to have something like this fastened to his table!

Please say Hi to Georgi

Support our caregiving

If you found anything on this site of use, interesting, or even mildly amusing then please consider dropping a few pennies in the jar to help us to take care of our disabled son who contracted encephalitis in 2007 at the age of 6 and who is now confined to a wheelchair. He is getting bigger as his mother and I get older, imagine that, please. Every penny we collect goes towards his upkeep, and towards his future care requirements.

Thank you.

Support our caregiving

Support our caregiving

If you found anything on this site of use, interesting, or even mildly amusing then please consider dropping a few pennies in the jar to help us to take care of our disabled son who contracted encephalitis in 2007 at the age of 6 and who is now confined to a wheelchair. He is getting bigger as his mother and I get older, imagine that, please. Every penny we collect goes towards his upkeep, and towards his future care requirements.

Thank you.