Passing an exam

Last semester I took the brave decision to add Visual Perception as one of my modules. The line between brave and stupid is often quite blurry. I thought the module would offer me a great insight into how the visual system works and it really did. But it meant some very special preparation in order to pass the exam.

The majority of the concepts were described diagrammatically on the course, something which meant I would have to take a slightly different angle to learning in order to achieve a greater understanding of visual perception as well as pass the exam. I had to try and visualise the concepts that were being described something that became quite challenging when you have never seen them represented in the real world. For example the visual illusions – I was fortunate enough to have seen some of these illusions while I had sight. But read more

My 2013 top 3 books

During 2013 I began to read at in increased rate. This was mainly due to the Kindle iOS app allowing VoiceOver. So for the first time since losing my vision I could read again. The only problem being not all books are available on Kindle yet so I often become annoyed that there are still a whole host of books I am unable to read. If I have a special interest in the book however, then I spend time converting it to make a digital copy.

My reading is shaped by my current interests, running, psychology and business. In order to expand my reading list I thought I would post my favourite reads of 2013 in the hope others would share theirs.

Priceless

Priceless is a fantastic insight into the psychology of pricing. As I read throughout the book I was amazed at just how many of the psychological tricks I have fallen prey too. The books covers everything from the psychology of mobile phone read more

Text to speech on Kindle – A great accessibility feature for all

Expaning on my previous post about accessibility features being features for all and not just those that rely on them, I decided to highlight one of the features my sighted friends use.

Setting up VoiceOver to read Kindle books out loud. This is a great feature and one that can make reading a book a breeze. Want to have a book read to you while working at the computer? Commuting on the train? Well this will allow you to do it without purchasing the audiobook! This is the feature I use to read all my books. Without it I frankly wouldn’t be able to read.

This feature has been made far easier with iOS7 too. As the ability to activate VoiceOver and invert colours has been added to Siri. This alone is great for me, now I can pickup my wifes iPhone or indeed anybodys and with a quick Siri command be able to use it. This is great for doing read more

Accessibility – added value for all

I adore technology – since I was a teenager I have been a massive fan of everything from computers to consoles, phones, gadgets and most recently fitness tracking devices. However being blind can sometimes make this passion difficult. But I do pride myself in taking technology and re imagining how it can be used.

Reimagining how RunKeeper could be used allowed me to learn to run solo. I take this approach to other pieces of technology in my life and believe I manage to use technology in ways it was never intended to be.

I am also a big fan of crowd funding. I have lost track of how many projects I have funded now but its been quite a few. I even took the risk of backing a project for a christmas present. With project creep all to common on crowd funding sites I am happy to say this project is running on time.

I often get to read more

Want to buy a book? Buy this one!

Visiting the Buxton Adventure Film Festival last month I was inspired by one of the speakers: Rosie Swale Pope. Her story of running around the world was incredible, her delivery and energy was invigorating and I left believing I could achieve anything!

So when I returned home I decided to buy her book on Kindle. I did intend on buying a copy at the actual event but did wonder what I would do with a physical copy. I had decided to avoid reading the book until I had finished Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman. Something that was important to my extended essay for my degree. But procrastination got the better of me and I decided to start reading it during my Starbuck visits. This also coincided with my attempt to reach gold status at Starbucks so I read the book quite quickly!

The book is titled A Little Run Around The World. The book is simply breathtaking. It took read more

The cycle begins

For the past few months I have been running in maintenance mode. Generally managing to run around the half marathon length at the weekends and a couple of shorted distance runs in the week. However this week saw a foray into the start of an ultra training cycle. I have signed up for next years South Downs Way 50 so need to start the cycle now to get a decent finish.

So this week I had to do something I always like to believe I can but rarely do – the early morning run. I usually start running around 7am but if I am to fit my training in and university it means I have to run closer to 5am. I always tell myself I can do this but when the alarm goes off I switch it off and roll back over. I still did that this week but then after a few minutes thought “No, if I want to train I have to do it in the morning” and managed to yank myself read more

Leadership

In an effort to enhance my employability after leaving university this week I decided to attend a leadership course. I figured it would be a great opportunity to get some face time with leaders from industry and to network. The course was put on by Common Purpose a multinational group that looks at Leadership around the world and the affects on the wider communities. They run a number of leadership courses and the one I attended was for disabled students and sponsored by Santander.

Arriving at the hotel with Ascot I was presented with my first challenge. We had forgotten to bring his food, we had packed the food just not put it in the car. If Ascot ate Pedigree Chum this would have been an easy problem to solve, but he is a delicate sole and eats a very specific food. So specific that it isn’t even for Labradors – No, Ascot believes himself to be read more

A great day out!

I arrived at the Buxton Adventure Film Festival shortly before Heather Dawe was due to speak. I snook into the theatre a little early (its amazing where a guide dog can get you!) and found a seat. I sat down a few seats away from Jez Bragg and was introduced to him.

Jez was at the event talking about his 3,054km run of the Te Araroa trail covering the entirety of New Zealand including multiple water crossings. After a quick chat and swapping our list of events for the following year it was time for the first talk.

Heather Dawe was talking about her amazing running and cycling career. She has achieved some wonderful things and returned from adversity after suffering what sounded like a terrible accident while riding her bike. A car hit her at 50mph and she was thrown over the car. Her talk was captivating and covered everything from running to painting! After the talk there was a read more

To be inspired

When i first began to run I was always of the philosophy I may not be the fittest person around, but I believed in my mental hardiness.  I believed and still do that I can continue to push beyond what I have achieved on any given day.

This hardiness was built on the back of others achievements.  Reading about other runners such as Dean Karnazes inspired me to start down the long road of running long.  Hearing about others achievements inspires me to go outside and see how far I can push.  One of my favourite ever inspirations was by a runner whose name escapes me.  One day someone sent me a link to a youtube video of ultra runners.

The runner spoke of the runners high and that he preferred to explore the low times.  For if he was able to push in the lows the highs would take care of themselves.  There may be a little para-phrasing read more

The Constant

Even with large amounts of vision loss I have still felt the compulsion to keep on running. After you have been running for a while it seems strange to stop. Having a week or two off begins to feel strange, there is a need to pound the pavement (or rubber matting). Due to the compulsion to keep on running even with large amounts of vision loss I have been sticking with the running. I even managed to compete in a short distance event.

The loss of vision has made a dent on my running though, but in more of an indirect way. Learning to run without a reliance on vision means that when you lose more it doesn’t really affect your ability to perform. But what it does affect is the time I have to run. When I am having to spend more time converting materials, or revising due to a change in vision it eats into the time I have to run. So read more