Thursday, May 15, 2008

Shift F10

Across the top of a PC keyboard, there are F keys or shortcuts to various operations on the computer. The shift key doubles the capability of the F keys. Bill quickly lost the use of his vocal chords, but never lost his "voice". He used a laptop to speak and programmed the F keys to say certain everyday things for him. He could touch 1 F key to greet you with a wave file of the 3 Stooges…Hello, hello, hello….hello. Another F key would tell you that he had ALS, he could understand you perfectly and looked forward to a conversation, but it might take him a moment to respond. You get the idea. F1 was (a very enthusiastic) Yes. F2 was ( a brief and to the point) No.

His friend Janey assisted with the "adult" content. Shift F10 was “shut the F_#% up”. Shift F9 was the companion “go F_#% yourself”. Both had several contexts:
1) That is incredible….I can’t believe it!
2) No way….you’re kidding me!?
3) Oh man…I certainly didn’t see that coming.
4) Oh….aren’t you quite the smartass today?!
5) You need to stop talking right this minute.

The key to context was all in the eyes! There were times when we were together with friends and one of the group would be in context 4. We would see Bill reaching for the keyboard and would quickly say, “don’t even reach for Shift F10!” or “go ahead…I deserve a Shift F10 for that”! We would be rewarded with a huge grin, a nod of acknowledgement and a few minutes later, he would have queued up an appropriate song.

Key: It's critical to retain your voice!

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