Naida update....

Since receiving the Naida, it has been a richer experience and have been able to hear that bit more. But I did have an issue with the cable in which was rectified quite quickly by RNTNE with liaison with AB, which saw a complete replacement of the processor as it was identified that the cable part of the processor has come a bit loose. This is having had the Naida for 8 months at this stage. I religiously put the processor and the magnet into the drybox each night to ensure that both pieces are dry and ensures the life of the processor and magnet. 

It is a well perceived notion that all things technical has a shelf life - limited lifespan and it is difficult to put a date on anything as there are so many variables that affects the outcome of that particular technology. I view it the same with hearing aids and as CI as well. External parts of the CI is easily fixed and the company always kept on top in regards technological advances. The internal part - well...that's different, but it is good to know that the internal part is backward compatible and is made of materials that will last the person's lifetime. Yes there is a small percentage where this does not happen, like I said - variables influences the outcome. I would say the same if one is having an operation for something that will help enhance the quality of life. The surgeon is bound by moral ethics that they have to quote pros and cons, the percentages of success and failure. 

It does sadden me that when people complain that things break that easily - one has to remember that we do pay the price for convenience - products that are churned out at quantity and low prices that such equipment now have a short shelf life compared to those in the past where quality was paramount and it lasted for ages. 

Nor that they see the bigger picture that short term issues are only what they are and can be ironed out - for example - Skoda cars, at first they were laughed at and it had a poor work history, but they worked on it and ironed out the problems and now they are great and the cars they make are of better quality than the earlier models. We should be more aware that technological advances are continuous - seeking improvements on the old and it invariably invites errors/mistakes and the only way to learn is to learn from mistakes ONCE and move on.

So I say - take it with a pinch of salt and take necessary care and precautions, then your piece of technology should last you a good time until the upgrade comes up. And I am pleased to say that the replacement processor has been trouble free for the past year and half.

I have been using the compilot mainly for listening to music periodically and in sneaky situations where listening to music is banned i.e. libraries (ssshh!), the brilliant thing about compilot is that its absolutely quiet and streams wirelessly to the CI and HA! Bliss...

And as for the aquacase - I have used it in the colour run obstacle in Bath in July. It's great fun knowing that you no longer need to worry about getting the CI or the hearing aid getting contaminated with foreign objects - flour, water or rain! I completed the course in high spirits and hearing the good music, laughter, screams and running feet - it brings me a smile whenever I think about this event. 


There's no end to good things *smiles*. I was offered a aquacase to use in wet situations with my Naida. Sure enough - I went and used it for the first time at the swimming pool and it's totally opened up a whole new world of sound that was not accessible before. Luckily the swimming pool was quiet at first, I submerged underwater to listen underwater for the first time, it was weird - sounds were amplified, a little distorted through the water, but quickly I was able to make out the sounds of someone swimming through the water with their arms doing the frontstroke and the splashing of the legs stroking through the water. The splashing of the legs in the water was noisy. Then I heard someone bombed into the water - loud distortion followed by distorted laughter. I came up for some air,  the laughter was a little muffled but it was the water in the aquamic which soon cleared up once water was cleared. I kept the aquacase dry, clean and kept in a mouthguard box (I know!) but it's the only thing that will hold the Aquacase, the Aquamic and lead, two customised earplugs and a small rechargeable battery.

It was a really new experience hearing these sounds in a 'wet' environment, whereas before it has always been silent. I did not bank on just how loud and noisy the swimming pool would be, even a quiet pool was noisy to me. The tiles of the swimming pool led to poor reverberating acoustics round the pool!

I had the opportunity to use the aquacase on holiday in France at a hotel swimming pool and it was outdoors. The pool was coooolllld *chattering teeth* ensues. After a few lengths of frantic swimming in vain to warm up, I heard myself splashing around quite loudly as I swam frantically and the chattering teeth of mine along with hesitant breathing. Soon enough I warmed up enough to stop my teeth chattering that I was able to stop swimming noisily that I now started take notice of the sounds surrounding the outdoor pool. There was a forest nearby and could hear the trees rustling gently in the afternoon sun and there was a moment that I spun around looking straight through the forest after hearing a bark - it was not the bark of the dog but of a deer! I tried to see through the forest without my glasses  - can't see well without my glasses, I was able to make out the silhouette of a mature deer who was looking around warily. It was mind-blowing to hear this sound from a swimming pool and being able to identify it without racking my brains as to what could the sound be. Sure it was a little wet from the microphone but the sounds was clear enough for me to know what it was! I am really loving the Naida and the Aquacase along with the Compilot. I really look forward to the next technological advance from Advanced Bionics. 


Harland & Woolf Crane
I play badminton with my local deaf badminton club that was only set up in 2012. And I've not played badminton prior to that but I have seen it on the television. Since taking up the sport, I have found it fun and challenging sport as it requires fast moves and split decisions. Once one has the basics down, then it's all tactics to play for. I did mention in an earlier post in 2012 that I had the misfortune of rupturing my Achilles Tendon which ruled me out of playing badminton for 6 months and a gradual return to badminton. And 18 months down the line, I'm back to my confidence levels and speed of playing that the club has asked me to go to Belfast to represent the club along with other 7 members of the club. Every year each club invites other clubs to play at their home base, last year it was Hayes and this year it's Belfast's turn. There's only 6 badminton clubs that we are aware of in the UK - Surbiton, Hayes, Belfast, Dublin, Remark, and us - Hertfordshire Deaf Badminton Club (HDBC). The club is small and yet nearly all the members are invited to Belfast for the weekend. The only drawback is that one has to pay for their own passage as there's not enough funds due to being a small club and newish. So I duly booked my plane and hotel for June back in February. 

Came June and feeling confident enough of my abilities that I joined other team members to go to Belfast. Since the flight was only an hour from Luton to Belfast but spent ages at the airport going through check in, and security. The noise was noisy at security especially at 6.45am in the morning along with other commuters. It's nothing like I experienced at Heathrow or any other airports. Must be unique to Luton then. 

On arrival at Belfast, I was immediately greeted by the local Belfast accent of the car hire place as my team mates had hired a car to drive around Belfast and outskirts. We drove into central Belfast with one aim - to visit the Titanic museum then the hotel afterwards. As we got inside the museum, the voices from the recordings were of Belfast accents and other accents from the UK - think I noted down Liverpudlian (Liverpool) accent among many in the recordings that were being shown at the museum. I have to say that the Titanic museum is brilliant and well thought out.

The visitor is taken through the journey of Belfast in the 18th Century which is the industrial age which saw sleepy Belfast grow from 56,000 inhabitants to nearly a million inhabitants, serving the local factories and the shipbuilding yard of Harland and Wolff. I walked through a reconstruction of the shipbuilding yard and one can hear the distinctive noise of rivets being pounded into the ships hull and the steel being cut among other noises there. There was a promo reel of the owners of the two ships - Olympic and Titanic - citing that there will be luxury and personal service and there are second and third class passages available. It was weird to hearing two actors in early 19th century accents of the time. Then the next exhibit was the drawing offices, it's a really neat exhibition where there is one long white strip and the ship drawings is pulled up on this strip and blown up several times to show what is what and some parts of it shows the 3d dimension of a component moving in real time. It's an excellent way of bringing life to the ship drawings. The next was the launching of the ship and fitting out of the ship. 
There was three mock ups of the cabins of the 1st class, 2nd class and 3rd class (steerage). 
Also there was an elaborate CGI 3d reconstruction of the ship's interior where one stands in front of three huge tv screens which are synchronised together along with the sounds of the ship. It started in the belly of the ship - the boilers that provide power, one heard the coal being cooked in the large furnaces which fuels the boilers, and the hissing of steam as the rotors were rotating providing power to the propellers. Then we're moved up to another floor separated by a steel beam. Steerage - third class, quite spartan and devoid of any furnishings or decorations, just tables and chairs and one can still hear the noise of the boilers below. Then up another floor to second class, one can only see corridors where the cabins are, the floors are tiled and brass hand rails run the course of the corridors - no noise just the sounds of the passengers in their respective cabins. Up another floor - the sumptuous first class, bedecked out in carpets, furnishings, paintings and large windows accompanied by music from a gramophone. Up another floor leads us to the well known lobby with the staircase with the cherub holding a light flame and the famous chandelier which was immortalised in that famous film with DeCaprio and Winslet. Then the final ascent sees us in the wheelhouse - the control room where Murdoch oversaw the operations of the ship, it was finished off with bells chiming from the speed change request stand. I was absorbed totally and thoroughly enjoyed this experience of standing in this CGI reproduction of the Titanic that I re-watched it 4 times. Marvellous technology.

As one knows next, Titanic is hit by an iceberg and in this particular bit, one can hear the Morse code of the communique between titanic and other ships. Some of the messages were incredulous and that only Carpathia actually responded to Titanic's May day call. One also heard the eyewitness accounts of the survivors who survived the sinking recounting their experience from the initial hit, evacuation and the sinking of the 'unsinkable' ship. There was a computer reconstruction showing how the ship was hit and the flooding of the compartments and the sinking to it's final resting place.
Then the exhibits showed the newspaper cuttings of the day, list of names of the souls lost and the memorial sites in the UK, Ireland, and USA. And what followed the sinking was the inquiry. Again actors were used to represent the owners and others who experienced the sinking and the results that followed that it turned out to be that the ship was not 'unsinkable' that the watertight doors only partially did their job but was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of water that it overflooded the compartments and that there was not enough lifeboats to go around - a drastic mistake by the owners not the engineers. There was a replica of the lifeboat to illustrate the end result of the inquiry - Not enough lifeboats.

Therein the titanic laid in it's final resting place until 1985 that Dr Ballard found the Titanic that brought worldwide attention. The sub went down and filmed the resting place of Titanic and the debris field. The last part of the museum was the sub film of the resting place and debris field which was narrated by Dr Ballard in parts. There was also an interactive part where one could direct the sub around the debris field to find out more about this particular piece whether it be a piece of a plate, a doll, or a safe.

Thus ended the visit to the museum? no!... there was loads more outside, in the park - well two filled in slipways that is marked as two lifesize ships - Olympic and Titanic, one ship showed where the benches would be on the ship and white granite marked the four funnels and other parts of the ship. The other ship showed which parts were covered (by grass) and others were a walk through. It also has another feature that at night time - the outlines are lit up in Blue that one can admire the sheer size of the ship. And about a half mile away, there's the graving drydock where ships come in to be maintained/repaired or retrofitted. Titanic spent some time here being fitted out before it's voyage to Southampton and it's final journey.

I really enjoyed this trip to the museum and I recommend if one wants to visit there, to spend a day there. I had to return there on the last day in Belfast as I knew there was more to see there. 

The tournament went well and played ten matches which I kinda paid for it by popping one of my knee's ligaments that it was sore for two weeks before it started to heal up. I've always had weak knees (pardon the pun). Ten matches were a little too much to ask for. I have no problems playing leisurely on club nights, but match nights - the pressures on and speed is ramped up - hence weak knees. We came out 4th out of 6th I think. Belfast Deaf Badminton Club put on a really good night with speeches, trophies and food. Didn't go to bed till 2am from all that socialising and good time. I heard one rolled into the hotel around 7am only for a few winks before catching the plane home at noon. 

I caught the evening flight home and at Belfast International Airport, I had the Ulster fry for my dinner - yum yum apart from the black puddings. In whole - an enjoyable experience visiting Belfast and would not mind revisiting again in the near future. I did not anticipate in hearing all these stuff at the Titanic museum that well and is definitely part of the experience.

Upgrade time!


I heard that I would get an upgrade from the Harmony CI to the Naida Q70 CI in matter of weeks. After a few emails with my local CI department, I finally got the date of my CI upgrade and looked forward to it to the day as I knew that this latest upgrade would contain many new changes/tweaks compared to the harmony. For one thing it's 40% smaller than the harmony, has a flexible microphone that is light and no need to tweak it into place for optimum reception. The batteries are also smaller and fits in opposite way than the harmony battery does. 

Upgrade day came and went and got all my new equipment and went out to hear and sure enough the sound is a lot more richer which made me happy. And with the harmony one could only have three programs, but with the Naida one could have five different programs - yes five! I found it quite difficult to fill them up so I requested the following:

1. Everyday program, no clearvoice or ultrazoom
2. Ultrazoom
3. Music on high IDR with compilot on 50/50
4. Clearvoice on low
5. Backup microphone in case the main microphone fails.

Plus it has bluetooth capability as I also received the compilot as part of my requested package. I'd already paired up my mobile phone with the compilot and it does work but have found the 50/50 does not really work for me so next visit I will request 100% compilot for the music program. The compilot is a neat device that will talk to you by saying compilot on, phone on, music on, who's ringing. You could program the compilot to beep instead of talking if one finds it more helpful.

One of the new features of the Naida is the Ultrazoom, it works similar to clearvoice by reducing the background noise, but with ultrazoom it reduces the field of noise to one person that one is looking at. I have tested this at work, it does work but I found it unsuitable for the environment that I work in. As I am required to hear all around me including backstage where I have machines beeping for my attention once they have finished their tasks. With the ultrazoom on - I could not hear the backstage or the beeping from the machines. Believe me it does work!

With all these new bell and whistles, I have found it does help in some ways and some not. I did find that with the harmony that I tend to use only one or two programs which tends to be the music and everyday program. With the Naida, I was flitting through the programs dependant on the sound situation I was in. But I noticed that I tend to stay on the everyday program for ease of use and switch over to the music program when I have the compilot on.

The only drawback with the compilot is that it only streams it to my CI and not my hearing aid so I put in a request for an hearing aid refit for a newer model that is bluetooth compatible. 

A few weeks later I got the appointment for a hearing aid refit and they had a new phonak hearing aid that is bluetooth compatible. Went down and got it fitted and managed to pair it up with the compilot. Now both CI and HA is connected to the compilot for music streaming or any other input from a bluetooth device to the compilot.

I still had the 50/50 issue with the music streaming with the compilot as I would be hearing 50 music and 50 background noise so I only used music where the background is quiet. Next time I need any of the mapping tweaked I'll ask for the music program to be 100% only compilot.

Homeward bound

Day 13
Last day in New York before catching the red-eye back to the UK. Last visit to downtown to catch the free ferry across Staten Island that morning. Went down on the metro once more and walked from Wall Street to Battery park to the Staten Island ferry stop. Hopped on the ferry and sure enough the clouds were really overcast and did not help the photography much in colour but would be quite dramatic in black and white. Saw Lady Liberty and the familiar Manhattan skyline minus two towers. The noise out on the deck of the ferry were the bustling/choppy winds and it was blowing a bit that day so we stayed mostly inside the boat. Sure enough it was time to go back to the hotel and sign out once more and take the free shuttle to the airport - JFK. At the airport we checked in at the new Delta wing check-in as I understand that JFK underwent some refurbishment and enlargement in the last few years. It is a different experience to the last time I was at JFK as I was at the international part of the airport and it was looking a little dated, but this time everything looked newer and more up to date. And even the lounges had free power sockets and USB charging ports which is heaven for us who use technology on the go - computers, ipads and mobile telephones. The chairs were very comfortable. Anna and I were a little downhearted that the holiday has come to an end, it was trouble-free and care-free holiday that we both really enjoyed very much. Meeting friends in different cities made the experience all the more richer and a memory to treasure. Anna and I are already thinking ahead of future possible holiday destinations and what we would do. For me, the holiday could not have come sooner and revisiting the places helped to enrichen my experience and memory along with new auditory sounds with my cochlear implant.

East Coast Part 2...

Day 11
A nice lie in this morning. Today will be a long day around New York - revisiting the places we visited before. First port of call - Grand Central, before taking a few photos of the interior station, had a quick breakfast nearby. Watched the morning rush hour at Grand Central and taking some time lapse photos with the famous inquiry desk with the clock on top. I really liked the light chandeliers and the astrological sky above the station. I hope they will not modernise it too much as I have heard other similar stations losing their unique identity in the name of modernity. One other train station I enjoyed was in Los Angeles with the art deco. 

We then went out down to find the Flatiron building as it was not all that far away so we walked down there and found it, photographed the building as I will be editing these photos at home as a little project of mine. I remember the familiar sounds of New York, the traffic, honking, hydraulic brakes, emergency vehicle sirens and the noise from the air vents, it all came back when we walked on foot despite the last visit to New York was over 10 years ago, and now with the CI - I even got more auditory information which really pleased me. We walked down a bit further down towards Battery park but decided to use the buses to get us there. we arrived at the Ground Zero Site, the site of the twin towers 9/11. I last visited there a year after the atrocity and remembered how it all looked and now it's current transformation. It's a lovely tribute with the two memorial pools. By then it was afternoon already, plus it was already hot. I managed to get tickets to the ground zero site and we both went in, it's a very well designed site to allow others to remember and reflect, I found it quiet despite the noise of the traffic outside the site. I particularly liked the black metal plates that surrounds the pool inscribed with names lost in the tragedy. I admit I did cry a bit, because it was a futile thing to do and so many innocent lives lost, all in the name of religion. I remember that day very well as I was at home and then the TV news came on all channels chronicling the first plane crash and then saw the second plane crash in real time. I was really shocked to see it happen on TV and it was also on the radio. In the ensuing days, the airspace around the world was on a lock-down and security ramped up. It was eerie experiencing this in my home city in the UK.

It was nearly time to go upstate to one of the hotel to meet another deaf friend who lives in New York. We had a good meal and chatter and then went up to the top of the hotel which has really good vantage views of New York plus seeing the Empire State Building lit up in the night sky. 

Day 12
Second last day in New York, we went immediately to walk on the Brooklyn Bridge and then visit Pier 17. As we were changing trains on the Metro, it was tantalising to hear the trains going over the pins that makes them distinctive to New York, I did not hear these distinctive sounds in Washington DC on the metro. It may well be attributable to the design of the tunnels and the stations as most stations in New York has low ceilings compared to Washington DC in some parts. 

Arrived at the Brooklyn Bridge and walked the entire section of it and photographing it as we walked on it. The sounds of the traffic below us is different to hearing it next to us on the same level and at the same time hearing the creaking of the wooden boards that lines the pedestrianised part of the bridge, some of it was tarmacked, other had wooden boards. As we were near the middle of the bridge, I could hear the winds gusting down the river and the noises of the ships and boats were carried on in the wind. Anna and I noted that the clouds above us in the near distance looked ominous - rain!. So we made haste over the bridge down to an electrical shop as we both like technology and then decided to go over to Pier 17 for some lunch. I had seafood lunch - Calamari - yum yum, Anna had some chips. As we finished our lunch we explored Pier 17 as it had some shops but some were closed as they were affected by the big flood back in 2012 from Superstorm Sandy. Sure enough the heavens opened and so much rain fell! we were stuck in pier 17 for a good while before it stopped for good. (Since writing this in 2014, Pier 17 has ceased to be and is currently undergoing redevelopment.) We had a prior engagement with Chrysler Building and so we went down the metro to the right stop and come up out at Times Square and then walk up to the Chrysler building a few blocks away. We had dinner at - guess what - another Hard Rock Cafe!, Anna has now got 4 glasses commemorating her visit in the USA. Then last visit of the day - up top of Chrysler building to watch the sunset over New York. It was a little humid but dry, I've always loved the night lights of the city lighting up as I like flying by night as one can see the organic layout of the lights down below in towns, cities and villages. 

East Coast Part 1...

Day 8
Up at 3.30am and roused Anna up as she's not a morning person, I'm quite used to getting up early at home namely around 4.45am for work. As it's the last day on the west coast, we were feeling morose about it and really enjoyed this stretch of adventure so far and will miss the lovely car we had - the Jeep Cherokee. Lovely car indeed, as I drove out of San Francisco towards to the airport to drop off the car and to check in with Virgin America airline. We had time to kill at the airport so we found a place to have a breakfast and to wake up properly before boarding the plane at 7.30am. As the plane took off we saw the San Francisco coastline and the mountains of the Sierra Forest and the Grand Canyon valley. As the plane made towards east to Washington DC, we were unawares that there was weather drama unfolding below us that a tornado hit Oklahoma with an EF4 intensity. We were so high up in the clouds that I thought it was a little unusual but didn't know otherwise until we saw the news of the tornado ripping through Oklahoma. Arrived in Ronald Reagan Airport and saw the pentagon on the approach to the airport along a glimpse of the Arlington National Military Cemetery. Found our hotel near Dupont circle, the avenue of embassies I call them. The hotel was ok but knowing that we would be out and most mostly so it was ok. Went out again to eat at a well known pub known for it's generous meal sizes. It started to rain outside and so we waited until it dried up before returning to the hotel using the metro transit trains. I heard the thunder and rain inside the pub amidst the noise of the pub. I'd noticed that there was a lot of graduates still in their robes from a nearby educational establishment. Tired from the flight, retired to bed at around 11pm.

Day 9
Up at a reasonable time, ventured out for some spot of breakfast and Anna wanted to find the British Embassy that her grandfather once worked there.We found the embassy and while walking up there, we witnessed a rolling cavalcade of police cars and motorbikes, in which an official car in which we presume carried the president to some place rolled through the roads onwards. Intriguing to hear the sirens and the smooth rolling blocks of the police service riders. And so on we went on to start our day with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery. It was a sombre walk, walking through the vast cemetery and we watched the guard changeover at the unknown soldier and hearing the last post. We visited the Kennedy memorial site, saw the eternal flame with the view of the capitol from the site. Walked the rest of the cemetery noting the dates of the different wars that these men fell on, it's quite a range of dates from the 18th Century to present day. As we walked out of the cemetery, we decided to walk to the Lincoln monument as it was quite cool that morning, and so we walked for 30 minutes crossing the Potomac River. By the time we reached Lincoln memorial - it was getting hotter and I bought a large soft drink to abate my thirst. We explored the Lincoln memorial and the reflecting pool with the Washington Monument in sight. As I walked in the shade along the reflecting pool, I saw the stainless steel soldiers on patrol statues honouring those lost in the Korean war and then the large memorial for World War 2. This memorial culminated there, we then walked across the road to visit the Washington Monument and to our left we could see the White House and in front of the Washington Monument is the National Mall with museums run by the Smithsonian Institution. By then it was mid afternoon and it was pretty hot that day that we sought protection from the sun by staying under the shade of trees that lines the national mall. I recommended the Air and Space museum as I'd visited before and largely enjoyed it and found it very educational. As we went inside the museum, it was bliss - air conditioned. As Anna learned more about the space race and the evolution of flight. We saw the replica of the wright brothers original fabric plane - 1903 flyer. I heard the tannoy that the museum was closing for the day, did not realise it was this time already having had a good day in Washington DC and absorbing the sights of the place and the museum. Anna wanted to explore more as was I, we would be more than happy to return to Washington DC in the near future to explore all the Smithsonian museums. We had a prior arrangement to meet up with a deaf friend of ours at a local Hard Rock Cafe (yes - see what's happened here, still continuing Anna's collection of glasses - third one!). We met her at the restaurant and had a really good evening of food and talk - mostly about the differences in our health services in our respective countries. Nicely filled up with food we retired to the hotel for a good nights sleep.

Day 10
Last day in Washington DC as it was time for us to leave for New York by coach. As we went down the metro to the coach station we stopped at Starbucks to buy some breakfast and while we were there, there were some protesters rolling through and stopped where we were eating and stayed there for a good 30 minutes. We had plenty of time before moving on to find our coach at the coach stop. Boarded on our Greyhound coach to New York and it took us 4 hours to reach the outskirts of New York before passing through Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia and Newark. As we arrived towards New York, it was already the rush hour and we were waiting to get into the city via the Lincoln Tunnel into Port Authority Central Bus Station, it took us nearly two hours to get to the tunnel and out the other sides. We found the hotel using the metro and dumped our bags in the room and went back out to get something to eat. Again its late and Anna found this place that is certainly very popular with the locals. Ordered our meals and started to relax and returned to hotel for a good nights sleep.