mertner.com/allan

A brief update

Tags: — Allan @ 11:54 pm

I just realised that it has been months since I last updated this blog. There are lots of reasons why it has been so long, but I’m not sure that any of them are really good reasons – so here is a brief update in case anyone is interested :-)

Firstly, I am currently trying to keep typing to a minimum as I suspect I may be suffering from the beginnings of RSI. My right hand and arm ache if I type for more than a few minutes at the time – and since my job involves at least eight hours of sitting at the computer every day, this is a slight problem. The only solution to the problem (short of quitting my job, which I am not quite prepared to do) was to find a way of not having to type. I could of course try to fill my calendar with meetings all day, but instead I decided to see how well speech recognition software works in 2005.


The result is actually very encouraging – at least for English speakers: Danish does not appear to be a big enough market. I bought a copy of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, preferred edition, and on those sentences where it gets everything right it has increased my typing speed dramatically without me even touching the keyboard. Of course, it oftentimes gets something wrong, particularly if I’m not sure what I am going to say – uhms and ahs don’t go down very well with the software. I have been using the software for about a week now, and it has been several days since any of my colleagues, and had on the contents of my e-mails.

This of course is the problem: I can “type” really quickly and even edit mistakes using speech recognition, but it really is necessary to thoroughly read in what has been written before hitting the Send button. The e-mail where a crucial “NOT” was missing was not a good advertisement for speech software. Anyway, enough of that. As you have probably guessed, I am typing this using speech recognition, and the result is that my arm and hand is getting better – or at least is not getting any worse.

The other thing that has occupied a bit of my attention recently is the news that my company is in the process of being acquired by HP. Being acquired is always an interesting experience but also one that can be a bit unsettling because it is hard to make plans and commitments beyond a very short time horizon – who knows what changes the new owner would like to make to the products, for example?

I also bought myself a new camera relatively recently: a Canon 20D. It is truly an astonishingly good camera, and I have spent a lot of time taking pictures (some are good, and some are not very good but that is all my fault) and learning how to be creative using Adobe Photoshop as well. Photoshop is an amazingly complicated piece of software that allows any number of manipulations of a picture, but I think it is a long time since it won any usability awards, if it ever did. Anyway, time spent fiddling with pixels in Photoshop is time not spent updating the blog, although of course a few of my pictures can be found on the gallery page.

Finally of course, Iain is growing at an alarming rate – not so much in terms of height and weight as in terms of mental maturity – and I find that I enjoy spending time with him more and more as he gets older. Now that he can speak, argue and play games of various kinds, he is more delightful than ever to spend time with. Although he speaks almost exclusively English, he understands a lot of Danish (which I use whenever I speak to him) and he can clearly distinguish between the two languages. He has also learnt how to use the computer and recently proclaimed proudly “I am adult now” after he taught himself to use drag-and-drop on a Flash-animated puzzle. Nowadays when he wakes up around 6:30, he promptly descends to the living room and visits the CBeebies web site before he wakes up Mum and Dad half an hour or so later.

For the past several months, he has talked about how he wants to be an airline pilot when he grows up. It’s the kind of thing that seems like it would be forgotten after a few minutes, but that doesn’t happen. We might be eating breakfast together when he looks at me and says, very earnestly, “I going be airline pilot when I grow up. I going to fly to Denmark and London.” what can you say other than “Yes, of course”? :)

So there you have it: several reasons why my blog does not get updated very often. It probably won’t be updated very often in the future either – but at least you now know why.