Back on the Dating Scene With a Bang

Since I became single again for the 125th time in my life I have of course gone down the inevitable route of online dating. You may recall my earlier blog Blind Dating and Awkward Romance as being my take on the dating scene. Well tragically I am back out there again flaunting my wares like an eager fruit and veg man selling his bananas (no pun intended.

Ok maybe there was a little pun intended, so not only am I back on all of the usual rubbish dating apps getting morally beat down and made to feel like the world is against me ever finding a date again, I am also going out on weekends spreading my wings like a proud peacock trying to impress which ever flock of women might want to pay the slightest bit of attention. It’s tough.
So, we go out to the bar, me and my wingman are in place, pint in one hand, cane in the other. He identifies the target and we take aim. Well I say we do, I’m not really sure any more what we do. I have often felt the lead has gone from my pencil and I am instead scratching with a blunt instrument desperately trying to find someone to lend me a sharpener.
Eventually someone has enough curiosity to come over and say hi, normally to figure out why I am carrying a light sabre with me and what fancy dress party I had been too. After the explanation is given and they are now educated to my rather severe sight loss, normally they tend to disappear into the darkness as they probably know I won’t be able to spot them again. Perhaps if it were a light sabre they might stay a bit longer and I could use some Jedi mind tricks on them.
It is said that to catch a girl’s attention you need to catch their eyes. There are two things wrong with this and no, not the obvious glass eye joke, not even I would go that far.
1. How do you catch someone’s eyes when you can’t see them?
2. If you somehow manage to see someone you like, how do you avoid looking like a crazy stalker with your wonky eyes trying to figure out if she has paid any attention to your advances?

It’s an impossible job and regrettable one that I fear I may be stuck in for some time at the rate I’m going. I don’t envy the girls having to put up with my insanely bad dance moves; I must look like a right idiot. Given the only time I dance is when I have had far too many beers on board. I think I have been keeping Jack Daniels in business for quite a while now. But seriously, a blind, drunk and insanely bad dancer swinging his legs and arms around like a fish out of water must be quite the sight. Thankfully no one has filmed it yet, well to my knowledge at least. It’s no wonder this proud peacock gets reduced to a KFC eating monster wobbling home through the streets of Cheltenham at 3am.

There must be an easier way around this guy seeks girl rubbish that us single men go through. Why does it have to be the guy that makes the first move? I know it’s the old fashioned way and I understand that but surely every now and then one of you lovely lasses can turn around and say, ‘Cor blimey, nice cane, can I have a go?’ Again, no pun intended. Well maybe a little bit.

It may well be easier to join the monastery and become a monk; in fact, I think that’s what I will do. It would be a lot cheaper.

That’s it for now,

Until next time

MRWG

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A Belated Happy Birthday To Mr Internet

The internet is a vast and impressive beast, 27 years old recently. I was only 3 when it was born but now at the age of 30 I don’t go through one day without using at least one of its vast array of impressive features. Whether it be ordering shopping online, chatting with friends on Facebook, blogging my latest thoughts and silly jokes to you all or watching endless amounts of videos on YouTube. We all do it, if we had to live without it could we? My guess is we would struggle.

Have you ever found yourself out with a group of friends and you look around and there are 3 out of 5 people on their phones either swiping on Tinder or reading some pointless story about what other people are eating on Facebook. The art of conversation seems to have left the world. I fear one day there will only be conversation in acronyms. Lol dya know what I mean.

But when you look at the internet as a whole, it really has made life so much easier. You can instantly get access to so much information. Any time you are bored you can entertain yourself with hours upon hours of funny cat videos, and you can now control your house with your voice. That’s mad, I say this because slowly but surely we are slipping into a state of reliance on machines to do things for us.

Have you ever seen the film iRobot? I fear that one day the scenes from this epic film may well come true. We may well have robots doing everything for us. Over reliance on machines is making humans lazy and this can’t be a good thing. In the film the robots turn on humanity and grow real feelings, the way science is progressing at such a rapid pace who knows if this could eventually become a reality. If indeed robots become part of the norm we had better hope they don’t turn evil on us. Will Smith is only an actor. I fear he can’t actually stop hordes of robots from destroying the planet.

But it’s the thought of storytellers from years gone by who wrote about flying cars, androids and all sorts of weird and wonderful Sci-Fi goodness that is actually now happening. I wonder if the people creating these human replacements read stories from years gone by and immediately set out to make it happen. Who knows, but what I do know is the internet is here to stay. I am not sure what any of us would do without it. I like the idea of spending a year on a desert island without it but I know it would get to boring and I am not a fan of fishing.

Take a minute to look at how much time you spend online a day and just think how much better it would be if you spent that time with an actual human having a chat about cheese or something similarly fascinating to you. Go and see your grandparents, mine are all gone now and only wish I had spent more time with them. As good as the internet and all its wonderful features, it isn’t a replacement for human interaction and should never be used as such.

We all take to much for granted and when it is gone you realise how much you miss. It is said that hindsight is a wonderful thing, and it is. But if you are thinking about going to see someone or do something, then don’t procrastinate. Go ahead and do it. Don’t give yourself the opportunity to feel regret about anything. Life is to short and there are far more important thing to worry about that someones latest Facebook update or their latest snapchat picture of a a perfectly attractive person looking rather stupid with a dog nose. These crazes have passed me by, I just don’t understand why people think it is funny. Maybe I am missing something. If you are able to explain then please leave a comment.

That’s it for now, until next time

MRWG

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My Take On The Prodigi Connect 12

Let’s start with one of the big boys, the Prodigi Connect 12. A recent addition to the VI product market and a very welcome one. Straddling the immense power of a Samsung Galaxy Tab 12 Pro the Prodigi Connect 12 is a very powerful android tablet that is packed full of features to help anyone with sight loss. The main aim of this super advanced computer is to allow users to read documents in either crystal clear print or have it read to you in one of two synthetic voices. Using the Galaxy’s camera you are able to take a picture of any printed text and within seconds you will have it on your screen, ready and raring for you to make sense of. The Prodigi’s powerful text to speech engine gives you word for word accuracy beaten by no other text to speech reader around.

The text is grabbed into a separate screen from the usual live view and is then presented to you almost as if you were a newsreader reading out the latest news about something we probably aren’t too concerned about. This feature is great as you do not have to move anything, the machine does it all for you. All you do is sit back, or in my case as close to the screen as possible and relax whilst you read. Brilliant work from Humanware.

If, like me, you suffer with fatigue and can’t actually read for too long before your eyes start to itch uncontrollably after seconds of opening them, or if after a few minutes of reading your documents you wonder why you even bothered to get out of bed that day, why not have the information read to you. A couple of button presses and you are away. If you have ever seen the comedian ‘Lost Voice Guy’ you can even have his voice read things to you. If you haven’t seen him, then go to YouTube and check him out, he is hilarious. Of course these synthetic voices aren’t perfect but they are starting to convey emotions. It’s actually quite scary.

Another reason to go out and buy yourself one of these great devices is the fact that you can pull text from the internet, save it to the Prodigi software and get Graham to read it back to you whenever you wish. I realise this is the first mention of Graham, don’t worry, Prodigi Connect doesn’t come with some crazy stalker, Graham is the synthetic voice that comes along with Prodigi, nice chap.

As well as having the ability to get any printed material read to you, Prodigi Connect 12 is essentially a 12inch android tablet. The Samsung Galaxy Pro which in itself is an impressive piece of kit, I will not go into details but to have the ability to use all of the android apps as well as the extremely powerful text to speech software makes the Prodigi Connect 12 a must have if you are a visually impaired tech geek just like me.

That’s it for now, until next time – take care

MRWG

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Is Humanities Laziness Making Life Easier For Us Blind Folk

Over the last few years there has been a whole range of smart devices that have incorporated the ability to use your voice to control all sorts of devices. It started with Sat-Navs which made perfect sense, not a good idea to use your hands to set a device when you are driving. This then moved onto the smart phone. Now people are using smartphones in cars and the Sat-Nav is becoming more and more unused as time passes. Why would you have a Sat-Nav when your phone will do it for you? Your phone can pretty much do anything for you these days. But this is not a bad thing. What people see as convenience as a sighted person, as a blind person, we see it as essential. The same device that sighted people use to get them from A to B, we can use to control a huge part of our lives. It could be adding reminders, it could set your morning alarm or it could be searching for information on Google. The advent of voice control on smartphones has not only allowed convenience for the lazy humans, but it has opened up a whole world of easy access to the ‘smart world’. Ok so it’s not only lazy humans granted. It is also for those who are so busy that everything needs to be done at once. So, you are driving along in your car, making calls, sending emails and checking the weather all with your voice. Well guess what. I am walking with my Moses stick and doing exactly the same. It probably looks like I am going mad whilst doing so but still. I know the truth and that’s all that matters.

This may not have been the intention with the likes of Siri, Ok Google or Alexa but I for one am very glad this has happened. The task of using a digital radio to many may seem like a simple task, but when you can’t read the screen to select the station, it is a real frustration. I now own an Amazon Echo and it is quite possibly a revolutionary device for the blind and partially sighted community. Simply say Alexa – play TalkSport and within seconds, there it is. You can adjust the volume with your voice so the lazy humans don’t even need to get off the sofa. Alexa is also very intuitive and will learn all the time. Her limits are endless. Talking books are seen by many as a life saver, if you are a member of Audible from Amazon, simply ask Alexa to play your book and she will, and she will do so from the place you last left off and she will smile whilst doing so. Not literally but you can tell she is happy. A very good voice tells you that. I have been using synthetic voices now for years and most of them are dull and very uninspiring. Alexa however, if you didn’t know any better, could well be mistaken for a human voice, and not the lazy human either. She sounds emotional, she actually sings, and sings well too.
I will be doing a full review of Alexa’s features in a later blog, I just want to realise her full potential before I write about her.
So, with Amazon, Google and Microsoft all ploughing vast resources into lazy humanity, I say keep up the good work It can only enhance the lives of us with bad sight.
Humans, be a bit more lazy and let’s see if Apple can catch up. Stay on the sofa use your voice, they know what you do, the more you do it the more they will develop it.
That’s it for now.
Check back soon for my review of the Amazon Echo.
MRWG
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