John Rainbird, Multiple Sclerosis sufferer.

I have a manual dexterity problem which, is the result of the multiple sclerosis from which I suffer. I find that Penfriend helps me in two ways. It, for a start, increases the speed of my writing enormously. It also greatly reduces the ache –inducing power for me, of typing.

It is very convenient to use (once I had it set up to my liking. ) This proved to be pretty darned vital to me because, at first, with the defaults it was not automatic to use – but it is now. My only real criticism (and it is a pretty minor one) is that I reckon that maybe, if it is possible, the default settings should be changed. Oh yes, and perhaps users should invest in a footswitch to provide mouse clicks to a “parked” mouse pointer over the Penfriend’s first choice in its list (so as to be able to enter said choice without breaking the rhythm of one’s typing (I find that it is pretty important to maintain such rhythm as I have got, in order to progress at a goodly rate of knots.)

I have the program set up as follows:

I use a stationary choice box (rather than having it follow the caret. (They enable the stationary mouse arrow to stay in the right place).

I use the number keys to enter the choices (the numbers above the qwerty keys, not the numerical keypad up the end, nor the function keys).

I use an action rather like that of a bicycle’s brake caliper, to operate my keyboard (which has an overlay of about 16 swg steel with holes in, a “keyguard” ). I keep my thumb under my keyboard (which, overhangs the edge of my desk, firmly fixed, on a piece of hardboard (kind of like very thick, water proof cardboard, hardboard is). The important point is that I can reach the number keys easily – but not the function keys . I have to work the keyboard in this way, as it makes for FAR fewer mistakes. It is really good like this. The front of the keyboard, between my thumb and index finger has a HUGE improving effect.

I only use part of the software but of that, I cannot speak highly enough. It is sometimes almost spookily perceptive. Whoever wrote it did a very good job.

I use only the typing prediction part of the application because that is the reason why I bought it. I have turned off the synthetic voice because I do not need it and I find all of the synthetic voices a bit irritating. This is just me and I do realize that some people would find such a thing truly invaluable – but not me because I prefer to work in silence.

I move the choices box to the bottom left hand corner of the screen.

I “ park” the mouse over numeral one in the choice list box.

I uncheck the preferences box for unrepeated guesses.

Written by John Rainbird and reproduced with permission

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