Tech Support for PWN
Keith Harper is vice president of the board of directors at Narcolepsy Network and an advocate for PWN. Last year Keith presented on technical support for PWN at the NN conference in Orlando. Due to a scheduling clash I was sorry to miss his talk. But here it is for those of us who would like to learn more about how technology can help PWN both now and in the future.
Thanks Keith for sharing your geek side with us!
Technology is everywhere these days – in your home, at your office, in your car, on your wrist, possibly in your clothing, maybe even in your sunglasses. It can even be in your pillow! The best technology helps to improve your quality of life. The amazing thing about the internet is you can research anything within minutes, and have a pretty decent idea of what you want to try in terms of technology. Don’t be afraid to try some new tech—it could change your life!
At the 2016 Narcolepsy Network Conference, I took an in-depth look at a range of technologies that can be used to improve the lives of people with narcolepsy. I have personally used some of these products and services, and quite a few of them were crowdsourced by my fellow PWN.
I’m going to highlight a few things from that presentation: organizational apps, voice assistants, physical products, social media, and autonomous vehicles.
Apps to Get Organized
Definitely set yourself up with a calendar app such as Outlook, iCal, or Google Calendar. If you’re anything like me, you need to write things down to remember them. While brain fog is not proven to be caused by narcolepsy, it (anecdotally) seems to affect every PWN I have met. Next, you need a to-do list. My personal favorite is Trello– you can use it for project management, your personal life, and more. Remember how easy it is to forget things (yuck yuck)? That’s why you need to start using a note-taking app like Evernote. You can organize all of your notes into projects, folders of projects, etc and they’re available like magic on all your various digital devices.
Have you heard of this thing called “The Internet of Things?” The great news is, it is poised to change the way we live, as smaller and smaller computer chips and sensors have made it easy to connect virtually anything to the net. The not-so-great news is, a lot of these devices are crap. Let’s discuss a few of the good ones: The Misfit Ray is currently the highest-rated fitness tracker (as far as I can tell) in terms of its ability to record your sleep. The FitBit is a classic option as well for tracking sleep. The Withings Aura is really cool – it collects data about your sleeping environment, analyzes it, and wakes you up during your lightest sleeping phase. There are a few other good options in this category as well.
If it’s difficult to get to the store, and you live in a major city, you can possibly take advantage of these services for home grocery delivery: Amazon Fresh and Fresh Direct and .Peapod.
This is already a battleground in the tech world – Microsoft has Cortana, Google has Home, Apple has Siri, and Amazon has Alexa. Use your words instead of your fingers, and make your life easier in many different ways. The quality and features will only improve for these products, as they interact with more and more people.
Put the Ostrich pillow on your head, and you are bound to get some stares … however, you won’t care, as you’ll be dreaming away in peaceful slumber. You can take the Mini-Hotel with you to the airport, and it’s … sort of like camping! There are some pretty innovative and hilarious ones in this category. You can even get an alarm clock that literally runs away from you after it goes off. I imagine this is both highly annoying, and highly effective!
Everyone loves to rag on Facebook (did you hear they changed something, again!) but there is one amazing thing Facebook has that no one else does – closed or private groups. You can sign on and instantly connect with thousands of other PWN, in dozens of groups, and your communication will be kept private from the rest of the world. Every month there is an amazing narcolepsy chat on Twitter called #Nchat, you should definitely check it out. And of course you can find many other PWN to connect with in person on Meetup.com and through the Narcolepsy Network website.
I cannot wait for our robot overlord drivers to become mainstream – this will be a game-changing, even life-changing, technological shift for many people. There is a lot of exciting work being done in this area, and when computers are driving your car, you’ll be a heck of a lot safer (and you could possibly even take a nap!)
I hope this helps you in your quest for a better quality of life. I plan on talking more about technology at future Narcolepsy Network conferences, and on my Medium blog: