Faceless

A couple of years ago I lost the ability to see faces on a daily basis. This happened so gradually I hardly noticed it was happening at all. For with people I have known a long time, I would fill in what they look like. So it was more apparent when I met someone new.

I found whenever I met someone knew I was creating a mental picture of what they looked like. But what was I basing this picture on? As how can I imagine what a stranger, I have never seen looks like?

These questions were brought to the forefront when I was working with a fellow student at university. I had worked with them on and off for over 2 years, so I knew their voice well. I could easily pick it out from a crowd of voices. Due to the familiarity of the voice I had begun to assign a mental representation. But rather than specific features it was just a feeling. read more

Navigating the unknown

During my heavy revision period, the tram I take to university was undergoing some maintenance. This meant I could no longer use my normal tram stop, instead relying on the replacement bus service to take me to the next stop.

This worked great until one evening when I was travelling alone. I realised I had no idea how to get from the tram to the replacement bus service. I thought Ascot might just go with the flow and guide me to the bus stop. Nope! – instead he went with the flow that took me to a road. I thought to myself – if someone can point me in the right direction to Meadowhall, I can figure it out from there!. I asked around and a kind lady offered to guide the way, so me and Ascot followed along. The kind lady dropped us off at Debenhams and was on her way. Now the challenge was getting from here to the train station, I had read more

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

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.

Re imagining 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 combine these 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

Kickstarter a Teddy!

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For those that do not know my wife Sian Wheatcroft  is a crafter. She makes everything from little bags to teddy bears

She is currently running a kickstarter in order to raise funds to create a range of mohair teddy bears.  As a backer you can get a wide range of things, including a PDF pattern or kit, a unique mohair teddy in a range of sizes, right the way up to a group workshop.

Each teddy bear is made by hand and is completely unique. She been making jointed teddys for a few years and holds workshops in schools frequently. She’s also been on the cover of a well known crafting magazine with a tutorial.

She is also working on a series of youtube tutorials to accompany the kits and pattern in her kickstarter. Here’s the first of the series.

Click here to visit her kickstarter page – she only has a few days left and the project only happens if read more

Filming for Carphone Warehouse

Around november last year a researcher got in touch with me to talk about how I use my smartphone. It turned out there were looking for individuals to feature in micro documentary commercials for Carphone Warehouse. Because I rarely say no to an opportunity I agreed to do it. Rather strangely in the same week another reseracher also got in touch asking if I would be interesed in a commercial for SKINS.

After a couple months of speaking to SKINS it fell through. I am still not to sure why, I don’t know if the campaign was cancelled or they went with someone else. However as the SKINS commercial fell through Carphone Warehouse got back in touch. I was still very interested in doing the commercial as my smartphone really has enabled me to do great things. In total it took around 6 months from initial talks to actual filming.

So where do these read more

Holidays all round!

Sian, Grayson and myself are off on our first family holiday. We have been away for a couple of days before, but that was just to support me on runs. This is the first time we are going away with the sole intention of it being a holiday.

Grayson is particularly excited as we have bought him a special Thomas travel bed. He loves it; just not as a bed. It’s a slide, a ramp, a bouncy thing and a weeping. Basically anything but a bed. So the chances of him settling down are minimal.

You may have noticed I didn’t mention Ascot (my guide dog) going away with us. Well that is because he has gone on a very special dog holiday. I didn’t want to take him away with us as we are doing so many activities that aren’t dog friendly he would of spent a lot of the time in kennels. So I decided to arrange his own holiday.

I contacted the people read more

Running Style

For the past 2 years I have been a data driven runner. I logged everything and basically always ran with the thought in mind to beat the last bit of data I had collected. This served me well for a long time, but with everything in life I need to add a little balance.

With a constant need to run for the data, I was spending large amount of time running outdoors. With lots of runs easily hitting the 6 hour mark. As a lot of runners will know balancing running and the other elements of your life is very difficult. So after this years surgeries and my recent chest infection I decided it was time for a new approach for my runs.

My wife and I went and bought a bike and a child seat. With the idea if I was going out for an hour or so the family could come along and enjoy a bike ride. This new approach to running has brought some read more