Your wish is my command

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Today’s computer technology has come a long way since Babbage and his contemporaries. Although capable of frustrating all of us with its quirks and foibles, IT today provides some very useful tools for everyday living. One such tool is being put to great use in our own community. Many of you will recall that 2 years ago a Pattaya resident, Barry Hooper, was involved in a very bad road accident.

That accident left Barry bed-ridden and badly handicapped. He has had a long struggle to get back even a small degree of normality and endured high medical costs along the way. Happily, Barry has been given unwavering support by his wife Kwan. Barry himself wrote a letter (with one finger) to this paper last year giving public thanks and gratitude to her devotion to him, as he described her – his angel.

Barry and his “angel” wife Kwan.Barry and his “angel” wife Kwan.

Now, through the endeavours of the Pattaya community, Barry is to get into the world of computer communications using VR (voice recognition) technology. Most of you will have seen Stephen Hawking on TV and how he uses computer aids to talk to the world. In Barry’s case he is limited to using only one finger on his PC, so using VR tools he will be able to dictate his emails, letters or even write a novel. He will also be able to use his voice to give the PC commands to open and close software, direct his cursor and generally make day-to-day computer usage much easier for him.

A local appeal for funds was made to upgrade Barry’s PC set-up.  The Pattaya Expats Club held a ‘bucket’ donation at their Sunday meeting and, via the club trustees, looked at contributing to the estimated cost out of club funds. However, in the end the majority of the total amount was given by an anonymous donor who does not wish his generous act to be made public. To this person must be given wholehearted thanks. Many thanks must also go to Mike Mayne who has taken much time and trouble in helping bring this plan to its successful conclusion.

The new computer is hooked up and soon Barry will become an expert.

The new computer is hooked up and soon Barry will become an expert.

Working directly with Steve Dickens of Liberty Computers on 3rd Road, Barry’s current set-up was reviewed and a solution worked out. With the funds made available it was decided to buy Barry a brand new machine with the power & robustness to sustain him for many years to come.

Liberty Computers generously agreed to help with the installation for Barry even though Ban Chang is outside their normal area of operation. The plan was to have the new PC installed on Friday 29th March. Unfortunately, Liberty could not find Barry’s house; Barry’s phone was run down and his wife was out. It just goes to show how vulnerable things can be.

So, Bob Anderson came to the rescue and took the new PC down on Saturday, March 30, and switched over the old box.  He said, “We got most things running but Barry’s mike/headset was broken so we did not progress the VR bit too far. However, I am confident that with the help text and tutorial he will pick it up very quickly.”

Well done Bob!

Barry has also been helped all along by his former golf friends at the Travellers Rest, in particular Fergus Brennan and Seamus Farrell. The TRGG have continued to support Barry since his accident and Fergus was delighted to hear that more was being done to help Barry in this way.

Another avenue being explored for Barry is the Independent Living Foundation, part of the Father Ray charity. Their representative, Udomchok, was contacted through Angela Poustie of the International Ladies Club (PILC). Barry is in great need of physiotherapy to stimulate and energize his lifeless limbs. It is hoped that this organisation can provide support to the physical and mental aspects of Barry’s incapacity in the coming months.