Sunday, November 11, 2007

Another new thing

Dull as it is, this is me posting on my brand new laptop as mentioned in the previous post. Vista is up and working, jaws 9 beta is running, and I've just deleted the pesky Google Desktop apploication that somehow weedled its way onto my machine.

I'ts only taken about 5 hours of my time today. That's fine isn't it.

I'm having real sympathy with Mac cultists in the last few days. Is there a screenreader for Macs that is half way as good as JAWS?
I don't think there is.

Anyhoo. This vista thing is gonna take a bit of getting used to. And JAWS 9 isn't as nice and smooth as jaws 7 used to be.
Just Sky Plused Empire Strikes Back with audio description on ITV this afternoon. WHo'd have thought that button 3 on my TV would bring anything worth watching.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


This is quite cool. For the first time ever I am writing this blog using a wireless laptop. Can you tell the difference? Just loungin' around, thought I'd connect with cyberspace, moved my computer towards me a little, and whaddya know I'm posting without even having to wander to another part of my house where the computer resides. Well actually it blew up but that's another story. I'm a little late to this wireless thing, seems everyone else has been into it for quite some time.

Took delivery of a brand new laptop at the weekend - note, not this one. It has Vista on it - Microsoft's new operating system.

I'm using JAWS 8 with it currently but from the get go I have been having problems using it. For starters, the JAWS installation CD is designed so that you can install the screenreading software independently. Yeah. Well. That may have been the case on Windows XP but not so on Vista it seems.

Vista's big seling point, and big innovation, is its added security. So far it seems that the inbuilt Vista security methods are getting in the way of me installing jaws in the first darn place. In short: it doesn't all speak.

I got someone else to help me install it and now have JAWS on board. However, there is a certain amount of learning that I need to do it seems. For starters, where has the shutdown button gone? How do you turn your PC off in Vista? It used to be in the start menu. Not any more.

But oh ... JAWS doesn't work too well in the Vista environment yet. Certain things just aren't being voiced. I have to say I am extremeley disappointed so far.

JAWS 9 is due for release any day now though so maybe this'll fix the bugs. It had better. JAWS specifically claims it supports Windows Vista.

IF anyone has any tips for me, please leave a comment on this blog. My home email address is not working currently so I am not picking up any personal messages.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Save the cheerleader, save the world ...

Is it just me who's obsessed with Heroes? It's fabulous. I just accidentally discovered something about Claire though whilst googling. Darn this internet ... with no warning at all you can find yourself amid spoilers for TV shows by dint of what country you're in. For Americans, the fact that Claire's parents are <##edited names out###> is just everyday common knowledge because it was broadcast months ago ... but not so in the UK. So, Heroes fans, be careful when 'surfing'. I also darn well found out what happens to Hiro at the end of the season too. Or at least I think I did. It makes no sense from this distance though so I'm not really sure about it.

Remember ... save the cheerleader, save the world ... OK?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

the week ahead

Interesting day ahead tomorrow. WE do this, like, podcast every month. WE've been doing it since March 2006. But one of the usual presenters, Mat Fraser, isn't able to make it. I don't think he was entirely happy when we said that we wouldn't be able to do it on the Sunday night in the middle of the bank holiday weekend to fit with his overloaded timetable ... but he has graciously stepped aside now and in his place this month is disabled comedian Laurence Clark - go and catch his show if you can, he's great. So, yeah, interesting. Some great guests on the show and some really good subjects lined up to chat about. Oh gosh all this disability angst and introspection!

What else. Oh yeah. Interesting article about disabled people and tattoos hopefully will be up and ready to go on the site this week. Some really interesting stuff planned too.

Oh and it's not public knowledge yet (I think) but I know who the new editor of Disability Now is going to be! And it's a person whom I owe an awful lot to. Gosh, how confusing that a 'rival' publication should have someone I know so well at the helm! But are we rivals really? Perhaps not. DN is able to be more of a campaigning newspaper which is interesting and worthwhile. The BBC can't easily get into campaigning in the same way, publically funded 'Auntie', nor have the same angry societal corrective stance. BBC OUch is mainly about personal features and community: exploring what's in our heads and hearts. But, when written down, even that looks a bit crap. We push a bit beyond that. And sometimes just wrap stuff in big fluffy cotton towels and smother it before it comes to life. What am I talking about.

Oh and we're stalling but working up a really REALLY big new site re-design for Ouch - which is likely to be a really big change and quite likely to make the Ouch team work in a relatively different way. Lets see. Can't say much more because my contract stops me from saying anything remotely specific.

Monday, August 06, 2007

No emotion

How? Just how the fuck am I supposed to reflect and broadcast my 'current mood' when there is no drop-down box or list to choose from on this blog? Am I supposed to fucking well use words or something? Well how old fucking fashioned and fucking useless. Not even so much as a fucking 'status line'. I'm fucking off to Facebook.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A guide dog free zone

Thanks to all for your comments after my post about retiring my guide dog.

Right. Well I did it. He's gone. Liam finally retired. I am now without dog for the first time in 16 years.

I was petrified at the idea of giving him up. But, now he's gone, I am kind of beginning to appreciate not having a dog now. It's a nice break after 16 years not to have a knee high hairy golden shadow that needs feeding and putting out every few hours. It's now down to me and my trusty white cane.

so on my first day without, I turned up to work especially early. It's funny but having to use a cane feels slightly less dignified and makes me feel a little helpless. I don't think I used to feel like that when I was a full time cane user though. I know loads of people use them with no hassle and no wish to get a dog. I turned up early so no one would see me walking through reception and down the corridors in my new inanimate mobility aid world.

Tip tap, smash. Tip tap, smash. Actually I wasn't that bad ... I know the place so well that I could get by without barely using the cane at all. I imagine people think blind people use white canes in their own homes. Nah. If you live in a place and know it well, you don't need a cane. No self respecting blind person would use a cane to get from the lounge to the kitchen or vice versa. Similarly I could pretty much get by at work without a cane but there are so many people around that I think it's best to keep it in my hand and remind people I won't easily get out of their way if they charge towards me. Ladies and gentlemen, it's a health and safety concern.

Not much to say really other than I'm doing better than I thought. And have even had some mobility training around my home area. never thought I'd be able to find my way back home. With a dog it's a piece of piss - he knows which house is mine so will just walk up the front path to my door without me asking. With a white cane, well, it's two trees then find the hedge on the right. Cross the road at this point. Pass two skinny trees, three severe metal lamp posts that could really hurt ... and then find the big tree. Double back slightly and it's the second gate on the right.

You have to remember much more if you're a cane user. Not so good for a mid 30s fella who's definitely having classic thirty-something memory issues. Was that the second tree or the first? Not a matter of life or death but more a matter of home or someone elses's home.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My guide dog is about to retire

My guide dog Liam, who I've had for seven and a half years, will be retiring at the end of this week. He's now nine years old. Liam is a bit of a stressy sensitive dog so this seems the best time to retire him.

So, what does this mean. It means that Damon has to go back to using a white cane - something he hasn't done since leaving school in 1991.

Scared? Me?

Guide dogs make walking much quicker. They anticipate obstacles in front of you and correct your route before you bang into it, often without you even knowing. With a white cane, however, you don't know that an object is there until you whack into it. That's the main difference. Also white cains don't anticipate you might want to go into Sainsburys because you've been there so many times before! You have to really have your wits about you if you're a white cane user, concentration mode on high, be happy for journeys to take longer ... and of course it's much more of a physical and joint-aching experience sweeping that stick left to right constantly.

So. Liam retires. Might even be today I'm not sure. There are a couple of legal documents that the new owner, my friend Ewan, has to complete before we can 'do the transaction'.

But won't you get a new dog straight away, Damon?

Sadly not on this occasion. The waiting list is long and it seems my district team are over-stretched due to staff absence.

The positive thing here is that by relinquishing Liam, I am then classed as a Priority One. I am therefore much closer to the top of the list than had I been with dog. I didn't feel I could hold onto Liam much longer though because his sensitivity and stress is displaying quite a lot lately. He needs to retire and start a new life. A real unselfish move, eh? Well it's taken a while to come to this decision. I was about to give him up in April but then my friend Sara died and I just felt I didn't want to lose another big part of my life so soon. I feel like I'm jumping into a big deep dark hole.

When might you get a new dog then?

Good question. It may be around November time if I'm lucky. That leaves me 4 or 5 clear months without a dog. Possibly longer.

I expect my independence to dip and I forsee spending more time at home or my cash layout on taxis getting higher. All at a time when my fixed rate mortgage is about to end and go up in price by about 400 pounds a month. I am going to be so broke!

But it's little things, ya know, like leaving my desk at work ... just popping for a coffee. From this distance, today, it suddenly feels like a big chore with a cane. And, as I said earlier, you get none of that animal intuition from a cane - if I were to walk into the coffee bar at work, Liam would navigate me round people, misplaced chairs, tables etc, and take me directly to the counter where he knows I'm used to going to. And ya know, I'd barely even notice! With a cane, I'll have to bang into everything first before correcting my route. This could mean banging into a few people on the way too - moving obstacles as I like to think of them. But I'm sure my senses will sharpen up again and I'll start having to try and detect obstacles and people. Yes, blindies can do this - obstacle sense they call it. It's not as special as Channel 4 recently tried to make out in their superkid documentary, it's just about understanding the sound around you and the echoes. Layer of sound, muffling versus clearness, slight pressure on the eardrum when someone walks past and disrupts the sound path, etc. stuff like that. It's hard to put into words but it does feel like a sixth sense that you really only notice when you have to - i.e. when you go blind.

Anyhoo. Am not going to be unhappy about Liam retiring because he needs to and I'm pleased for him.

If any long term cane users want to post here and tell me I'm a total wimp then please do! :) There are loads of people who choose to stay with a white cane and would never go near a dog. In fact, the vast majority of blind people use canes over dogs. There is an art to it but I've lost that art. That's the issue today. Truth is that suddenly everything will be different again and I will need to readjust. Aaargggh!!!! Oh and there's also real potential to enter into a few undignified smash-ups with a cane, less regular than when you're using a dog, well, especially when starting out again. I'm sure I'll document them here with red face.

Wayfinder Access: audio demonstration

A few days ago I wrote a blog entry about Wayfinder Access - a GPS direction-finding solution ... a bit of software you can put on your mobile phone. It's meant for people with visual impairments and is optimised for those who have a mobile speech synth/screenreader like Talks or MobileSpeak.

Kate pointed out quite rightly that it has potential benefits for wobblers too, people with Cerebral Palsy whose direction finding abilities are somewhat crap because of all that spacial awareness built-in malfunction ... I hope I used the right medical terms? I think Kate refers to herself as Map Disabled.

Anyhoo, I've just found an MP3 on the net; an audio demonsstration of the product done earlier this month by a fella in North America called Earl Harrison. You've gotta love the internet!

mp3 Audio demonstration of Wayfinder Access. (if you click the link directly you will be waiting a minute
or two for the audio to load into your PC. Best idea if to save it to your hard disk so you have more control over it and maybe even transfer it to your iPod. right click on the link and 'save target as' and do your usual saving routine you'll be familiar with I'm sure)

What you'll hear -- Earl sspends about 5 or 10 minutes going through the product in his house. You can choose the destination you are travelling to at home, and have the route calculated before you leave your front door. (I think you can also browse the route and see its twists and turns before leaving home too but Earl doesn't show this)

It's crucial to know that you can use Wayfinder either on foot as a pedestrian or in a car. There are two different modes on Wayfinder - the 'in car' mode turns it into a gizmo very similar to Tom Tom with that classic SatNav cool calm controlled female voice we're used to. In 'pedestrian mode' it falls back to using the speech synth you have on your phone because speech synths can give you much more and better information than the built-in female satnav voice just mentioned. (speech synths can read street names, for instance, built-in satnav clear voices can only say pre-recorded limited info such as "in half a mile, turn left")

So, after Earl has setup the route in his house, he gets in a car and we go into car mode. We hear what Earl, as a blind passenger, gets from the experience. He can help navigate.

One thing blind people often have a problem with is giving good directions to car drivers if, for instance, we want to get back home. A pedestrian and driving experience can be much different hence this function gives you real control and the ability to stop faffing around and tell your mate exactly where you want to go, giving directions as you go along.

"But Damon, what does the front of this pub look like? There are a few here but I can't see the names because it's a bit dark"

"I don't blinking well know!"

atnav will at least take you to within about 30 feet of its front door.

Note there is also a 'taxi mode' but I don't yet know what this does. Remember I'm writing all this as someone who has googled about Wayfinder and not yet used the darn thing. The version I need isn't out for a week or two.

Next Earl gets out of his car and plots another route on his mobile that he is going to attempt as a pedestrian. We hear him walking along with his guide dog Patrick being told by the phone where to turn and how many feet until the destination on a regular basis.

So there ya go. It's deep blind tech so you may want to skip to the bit where Earl is in his car if you're not too bothered about the menu system on the phone and would rather just jump right to him using Wayfinder in action.

God the net is great! I've been waiting for someone to post an audio demonstration and here it is! Maybe I'll do one when I get the gizmo.

Any feedback or thoughts appreciated! And if anyone knows of any other audio demos, or is about to do one, email me or post here. I'd like to blog it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

nostalgic tv blast

The Oddball Couple. Fleabag

robotic stooges

Baggy Pants and the Nitwits

haleys' comets

Oh no! I'm experiencing rapid cycling of old remembered TV shows this morning. Lisa, if you're reading this, you want to thank your lucky starts you won't have to listen to me today wittering on about ...

Baggy Pants and the Nitwits -- Do you remember this? I think it was on air in the UK around 1978 or 1979. It was two cartoons shove together in one double bill. Baggy Pants was a Chaplin-esque cat who waddled around a lot and did silent movie type prat falls with his blank unfathomable little cat face. The Nitwits starred Tyrone, a retired superhero who solved mysteries with the help of his walking cane, Elmo, and his handbag-wielding wife Gladys. From the web it looks like this was a derivative too, maybe from the Laugh In. A half hour cartoon. The Nitwits was the main show for me, very funny, quite dry for a toon aimed at kids if I recall.

The Robotic Stooges -- bizarre cartoon version of The Three Stooges: Larry, Curly and Mo. They had extendable robotic limbs like Inspector Gadget. Huh? The link here will take you through to a show that aired in America called The Skatebirds - for, apparently, it is from this Banana Splits-like mid 70s show that the toon came from before it was spun out on its own. Why did this cartoon ever come into being?

The Oddball Couple -- Again, doubtless based on classic sitcom The Odd Couple, this starred a cat and a dog in business together - or did they live together, I forget. The cat, Spiffy, was suited and booted whereas the dog, Fleabag, was a bit of a scruff. Oh just think of those cat and dog / class war antics? Sing with me: "Oh the oddball couple are a couple of a couple of oddballs - eggballs"

Other stuff? Do you remember a weekly show on BBC1 for kids called Going Places? It urged people to write in for fact sheets about stuff going on around the UK that kids should go out and do. Could it have been presented by Su Ingle and Peter Pervis? Or was Su Ingle only on Wildtrack with Tony Soper? The following link is to a page on TV Cream featuring Going Places and Wildtrack - though here they call it We're Going Places which I think might be wrong. But what do I know.

Brilliantly on the above page I came across the quote: "DIFFERENCE OF OPINION HERE, GEOFF". Can you remember where you heard that? Answer at the bottom of this blog ... but you'll need to turn the screen upside down to read it. Geoffrey Wheeler, not just a quiz show voiceover, but also the man who urged us to get our Come and Praise hymn books out while listening to 'A service for schools' on Radio 4 on a Thursday morning. I learnt from that show about how the Soviets persecuted Christians and people hid their bibles and everything! Sing: "jet planes meeting in the air to be refueled are the things I know so well". Wheeler was also on Songs of Praise later - funny how he had time to fit in a show based on gambling around his christian commitments. Dig my biting topical satire 30 years on? I'm really getting up to speed at 36. STOP PRESS, this website reveals that he invented Winner Takes All too. Oh I've given away the answer. I love that there is a Wikipedia page about it. Most depressed to see that the talentless Bobby Davro did a version of the quiz for Challenge TV in 1997.

Aww, it's going round in my head now: "Autumn days when the grass is jewelled and the silk inside a chestnut shell"

Rapid cycling. Mark Curry was in Bugsy Malone. He played the producer ... and the ginger haired girl who pushed Blousie out of the way to do an outrageous audition was Bonnie Langford!

Finally this morning. I discovered in my web wanderings today that The Beatles had an animated series from 1965 to 1969 in the US. I'm sure it must have been shown in the UK? I've never seen it - though obviously have seen Yellow Submarine and it's ridiculous swirly colourful trumpet-nosedness. And, in another name blast from the past, I discover that Lance Percival did the voices for Paul and Ringo. I vaguely remember his flopppy blonde hair? Have I got the right guy? From panel shows in the 70s? I dunno, maybe from that afternoon gameshow The Cartoonists that had Bill Tidy, Willie Rushton and others being funny. Rapid rapid cycling. Lance: could be a twin of Tony Hart?

Question: who else had a little crush on Tiger from The Double Deckers? And what film do I remember The Double Deckers crossing over into?

Gotta go now. Is anyone on my wavelength?

When was stuff invented?

I have this idea that absailing was invented somewhere around 1979. And I'm sure this is because Blue Peter did an item about it. There seemed to be a proliferation of absailing items on TV at the time as producers thought it'd be visually interesting to get their presenters to slide down a geared rope thing.

I wonder if it existed before then? That was when it hit my radar / landscape.

Anyhoo, the point is that because I learnt about it in 1979, in my head it was new, that's when I date it back to - even if the Romans were absailing off their big white buildings.

Equally I date the invention of the word 'shit' to about 1977 - the first time I heard it in the playground and went home and said it to my mum. How was I to know? I was surprised my Mum was angry because as far as I knew, it was just some cool new thing the older boys said. How did she know what the kids at Iwade County Primary School were inventing?

Went to see Grease, the musical, at the cinema in 1978 when it came out. It was a birthday treat. My sister and I were obsessed with the songs afterwards and Mum and Dad got the cassette and we played it in the car all the time.

Shocked was I when I listened a little closer to the track Greased Lightning and heard John Travolta sing, "You know that it ain't shit when you're getting lots of tit".

"Mum," I shouted through from the back seat, "Do you think John Travolta knows that's a swear word?" The sexual bit re: 'tit' bypassed me for a few years more.

How had I not come across that word until 1977? It's like the fug of childhood and brain development cushioned me. I'm sure they didn't say words like that on TV around that time - no not even the Sex Pistols. Well they certainly didn't on Jackanory anyway, I can tell you that.

I wonder if my Nephew Cameron knows the word yet at 7. I wonder if my sister will be angry if I ask him. "Hello Uncle Damon, are you still weird today? Are you going to start talking about polar bears again?"

"Cameron. Just wondering. What does S H I T spell?"

Am I sounding like Dennis Norden? Trust me, in 2025 I'll be hosting a new version of Looks Familiar on daytime ITV - if TV exists then. TV, I'm sure, will be de-invented soon.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wayfinder Access - GPS direction-finding for blind people

OK. This is cool. I've previously written about how visually impaired people are now really starting to use GPS to give an extra dimension of direction-finding in an article on Ouch: Don't scrimp on your access, you're a long time dead (15 March 2007)

I vaguely mentioned a product called Wayfinder in the article - couldn't do too much on it as it was on the BBC, no commercials please.

Since writing it though, a new product has been developed, it's called Wayfinder Access, read more about it here: Wayfinder Access on the TalkNav site

They've taken the original product aimed at the sighted market, worked with the blind community and turned it into a product that now speaks more (though you have to also be running the Talks or Mobile Speak mobile screenreader software) and worked it up into an interesting product.

That said, I've not had chance to test it out. But I believe it speaks more, gives more relevant info to people who can't see - such as what Points Of Interest are in the vicinity: pub across the road, cinema round the corner,church 100 yards further down the street etc.

So, going back to the start with a bit more detail.

Blind people are so gadgety and tech obsessed you wouldn't believe it - hardly surprising for a group whose computer is their pen, their newspaper, their accessible mail, their browsable shopping experience and more. Blind peple surely have the best gadgets?

Lots of us are now carrying around mobile phones with a bit of talking 'screenreader' software on it, e.g. Nuance Talks or the new Mobile Speak from Code Factory. These products can only work on certain phones: Symbian platform phones with Talks and I think Windows mobile platform with Mobile Speak (don't know enough about this product yet as it's fairly new). I use Nuance Talks on my Nokia N73.

To spell it out, screenreaders are bits of talking navigation software. They make your phone talk and have intelligent ways of helping you access the visual concepts. Blind people might just say "I've got a talking mobile" though :)

SMS, web surfing, creating and using phonebooks, they're the things visually impaired people typically use speech enhanced phones for.

Wayfinder Access, once installed on yer talking mobile, allows you to plot routes from A to B. You can review them at home before you leave if ya like. You also need a GPS satellite receiver. Mine, a very slimline and small Holux GPS receiver, is about the size of a packet of chewing gum, you can see it in the Ouch article I linked to at the top of this entry. It speaks to my phone using a Blue Tooth wireless connection. Easy as pie.

You apparently need to walk outside with your GPS reciever pointed skywards to lock onto the GPS satellites up there in low level orbit. Once it has a lock you can simply put the receiver in your jeans pocket ... so don't go imagining you need a big visible dish on your head. It's all very discrete. You won't look like a crippled Borg monster.

I'm going to be really interested to get this product and start using it. The big thing for a blind person about going out is usually that you need to know where you're going and what you want before you leave home. Mostly. The GPS map software will allow me to be a bit more adhoc, flexible, relaxed. I'll be able to find cafes that I didn't know were there, walk around and then ask the GPS phone to point me to the nearest tube station. Maybe even walk through a big wide-open park ... wide open areas with no pathways or landmarks are usually next to impossible to navigate through.

I'm getting mixed reports as to whether these systems work well in built-up areas though. This will be interesting to test. London could be a satellite blackspot for pedestrians. GPS receivers need 'line of sight' communication with satellites.

The next big thing being talked about is 3G direction finding. i.e. not just the use of a GPS but also extra help from mobile phone transmitters that, through a process of triangulation, can help you set coordinates in satellite blackspots ... which also includes indoors! GPS certainly won't work in Brent Cross or Blue Water shopping malls now will they. Be great when they do!I'll just drop a Point Of Interest marker outside each shop I want to visit then I'll be notified of them as I walk past them in future - not disimilar to what eyes and brains do if you think about it (oh, just for the sake of clarity, you can drop markers with Wayfinder too, plus share them via SMS to your mates)

Hope this was interesting or useful.

See my above Ouch article for more on the excellent Loadstone GPS project: A group of blind fellas who are creating a FREE piece of GPS software for mobile phones. At present you can only drop and share markers though, there are no maps so you can't tap in a postcode and get a route spurted out at you. Very useful though, take a look.

Wayfinder costs approx 260 pounds currently.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My first massage, ever.

Have been meaning to write about this for a few days now. Last Thursday I had my first ever massage. That is to say, my first ever professionally implemented massage.

I was really unsure of it! I knew I needed to do some serious relaxing after my rather tough couple of months and thought that maybe a good work over would help. But there are certain issues.

At 6:30,, Ella turned up at my door. Kristina (girlfriend ... keep up) let her in. Ella had 'done' her before. She found her on a website for women; they will not visit male clients for safety reasons unless a female partner is also there. Good precaution ... if your clients aren't the next Rose and Fred West, that is. Luckily for Ella, Kristina and I only really have one perversion at the moment - our obsession for the TV drama Lost.

I went first. And eek, everyone, did you know you have to take your clothes off? I wore just my boxer shorts! You can betcha that if everyone knew that particular detail then their trade would fall off pretty darn swiftly don't ya think?

I ripped my jeans off. The ones I got in Macys. Threw them on the couch with my T-shirt, resisted the urge to dance for her and then got on the massage table thing she'd brought along. Face down. Back upwards. Putting face through a hole thing at the end.

Felt awkward. Didn't know where to put my arms. OK, they were alongside me but I kept wanting to move them. Too self aware. I had towels over the top of me, so Ella exposed only the bits she was working on at a given moment. Why am I writing this in so much detail? I'm aware I'm probably the only person who'd never had a massage so I'll skip the details as you'll already know them.

Being a man, I was, um, a little anxious. I've only ever received bodily attention from former partners. I'm pleased to say that my worst fear, an unforgiving and obvious arousal, did not happen. I'd got quite anxious about this before hand. As all men know, this can happen at the most inappropriate of times and doesn't necessarily corelate with mental arousal. So can be utterly meaningless, not a window into a sick little mind. Anyhoo, it didn't happen. I was probably too nervous anyway.

She worked on my back. Mmmm. Backbone clicked fairly early on, releasing a bit of pressure. Nice. I gradually got into it and the hour went by in a whirlwind as I laid there, taking interest and note in what she was doing to me. It was actually just really fascinating but also really lovely that a stranger can come along and be so gentle and personal with you.

I had a full body massage. I know I like a good back rubbing but wasn't sure I'd like the rest. I was particularly surprised to note that the stomach massage she gave me was particularly relaxing ... and arms too. Arms, lead to shoulders, lead to neck and back, I guess. I weirdly felt the tension slipping away as she worked on these areas. Yay for the internet - I knew we'd find a use for it one day.

The next few days afterwards I felt really relaxed. A lot of tension had gone and the lack of bodily tension affects your mental state too ... and that's why I'm thinking of having another one in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Two blogs worthy of a read

Couple of recommended blogs I wanted to share - though they're perhaps not great bedfellows.

Tubular: Therese Odell's 'Lost' blog - fantastic in-depth analysis of everyone's favourite island-based drama Lost. Therese is a great writer and a great thinker filtering a mass amount of Lost theories and bringing her passion worldly knowledge to the show. Her blog is part of the Houston Chronicle website.

Pole to Polar: The secret life of a manic depressive - Seaneen, a 21 year old woman living in London, documents her big highs and her terrible lows. She's not good at the moment. Look after yourself Seaneen.

Who needs sleep?

Hello. Thursday morning. Early. I'm going through a ridiculous period of insomnia at the moment. I keep waking at just after 3am. I actually rather enjoy having this time to myself in the middle of the night - I'm up, as you can see, surfing the web on my brokened-up computer. Trouble is that when I get home in the evenings I'm totally knackered, fall asleep on the couch and barely get to speak with Kristina.

"Damon. Do you fancy going out tonight-----"

"---Too tired. Sorry."

Insomnia - it's a relationship killer. I live completely the wrong end of the day. Hey, we're going back to the blind people have 30-hour internal body clocks discussion aren't we.

Claire, Nathan and little Ella are coming at the weekend. Am gonna break out the cocktails and try to tempt Nathan I think. Seriously into cocktails at the moment as have just been to Cotton's Rum Shack in Camden where they serve up generous 'tails wiv da jerk Caribbean food. Heartily recommended. GO THERE! Have an enormous amount of fun on me, won't ya?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sara's funeral - April 20, 2007

I have been writing this for two weeks now. On and off. Wanted to capture Sara's funeral as best I could. Read on.

It's two days since Sara's funeral (Fri 20 April, 2007). I'm sitting here, Sunday morning, wanting to call her up and tell her about my stressful and emotional day like I would have done - but then I remember. And there's a big gaping hole that you just can't do anything about. There's no fixing it, no bringing her back, it feels like a brand new world I'm in and I'm feeling rather lost in it.

I nearly wrote that the funeral was the worst day of my life. But it wasn't. I can't put my finger on it. I cried a lot but we DID celebrate her and it DID feel good. Sara's parents, Lynn and Denise, were both totally amazing. Stunning in fact. Sara would DEFINITELY have been pleased with the day and I know would have been reaching out to hug them with love and pride.

The service started at 2:45pm. I arrived outside Coychurch Cremotorium 10 minutes beforehand with Nathan. I had been finding it difficult, wondering when the floodgates were going to open. Then Warren came over, said hello and that was the moment. I hugged him and we hel deach other and both wept in the sunshine a few yards from the chapel door for a couple of minutes. I'd not seen Wozza since Sara died and, well,
it was a relief to be able to hug someone who loved her as much as I did.

Neil from Blazie handed us Braille hymn sheets before we went in. Non-capitalised Braille of course! Sara had campaigned vigorously to stop the introduction of capital letters a few years earlier - something of a big issue in the blind world that readers of print will find hard to appreciate. The print version of the service sheet had a picture of Sara receiving her degree at her graduation ceremony in 1993 (for the record, a BSc in Psychology from Loughbrough University)

Neil Jarvis was outside the crematorium. If I remember correctly, Neil was replaced by Sara at Blazie when he left to work in New Zealand. They had become firm friends in the last three years and I hope to get to know him a little better now. Gotta keep those memories alive, keep her influence going.

The service was around half an hour long. Sara was brought in with 'Somewhere only we know' by Keane accompanying her. We were at the front. My tears kept flowing but I managed to keep relatively quiet.

'I vow to thee my country' was hymn number one. Hymn number two 'The lord's my shepherd'. I've always found the first hymn a very moving tune anyway and discovered pretty quickly I was unable to sing much of it. I tried. But I made a point of staying really strong through the second hymn and sang, I think, EVERY word.

The female minister said some nice words about Sara guided by her mother Denise. She encaptulated a lot of what Sara was passionate about. It was kinda nice to know that, yes, we were definitely talking about the same Sara I knew.

An email that I received from a BlindKiss listener was read out. It seemed to encaptulate the point of the talkshow/web project. As well as having fun and sharing experiences, it was born to make a lot of people feel good about themselves. Sara's voice, passion and humour had helped this listener understand his new life as a visually impaired person. He had also found his partner through BlindKiss and had had children. The person who emailed thanked Sara for making it happen for him.

Her Dad then got up to speak. He did really well starting with how they had been devastated when Sara lost a lot of her sight at 5 years old but that she had proven that it was no way an end to life. He also talked about her humour, her love of a good Bollinger, her endearing expensive tastes and how she would whip out her white cane to queue-jump when they were at theme parks and on holiday in New York last December.

Then the final music played. And Sara left us. Howard Jones 'New song'. Sara used to be a member of his fan club when she was a young girl and to this day played New Song very loudly on her massive stereo speakers as she got ready to go out for an evening.

Bless her heart. Sara it's just too difficult to imagine you're not here so I'm going to imagine you're still with us if that's OK with you. You still influence what I do and say, you're here in my head.

Oh. I didn't tell anyone but I was carrying a small rucksack around with me all day. Gary asked what was in it but I told him he might not want to know. Inside was a teddy bear that Sara bought me when I was 19. I called it Eric. It has a little loveheart for a nose and across its paws the words 'I love you' - words from a time when we were very much in love. These things don't always work out but the love was still there ... a different kind of love now, probably much deeper, more caring and supportive than our time together as teenage sweethearts. We were very good friends, brother and sister, more. She refused to call him Eric cos she hated the name: she called him Ez for short. And he was there. And yes call me a sap ... but these things kind of matter don't they. Eric is sitting safely in my wardrobe at the moment, looking up at me every time I open the door. I tink Sara would have been amused and a little delighted that I had brought him along.

We then went to the Haywain pub. I'd been there with Sara on New Year's eve 2003 into 2004. She got up a few times to karaoke as I watched and listened. It was a great night. And she was being very supportive to me as it was clear I was splitting up with my then girlfriend of nine years. I think we recorded our last shows that week.

I sat with a group of friends from various aspects of Sara's life. I think we all felt that from that point on we needed to attempt a bit of cheer and send Sara off well. Her Ddad came over and insisted we all have a drink to celebrate Sara. I didn't feel like one, I have to say but I had a few. Sara would have wanted a celebration not a comiseration so I drank and ate. And, ya know, it helped talking about her and laughing with the memories.

How Sara's mum and dad remained so positive I'll never know. They were outstanding, amazing. Lynn told me later that it all hit him again in the evening - it comes in waves. WE oscilate between disbelief and devastation and wanting to preserve her memory, making her life meaningful by being positive now she's gone (Sara liked the word oscilate).

Sara Sara Sara.

Two weeks on, we're back in the present now. I've been going to work. The first week back was difficult: I couldn't concentrate on anything. I've started to move on though. I can write again from this week on it seems, rather useful in my profession. But I'm still dropping Sara into lots of conversations - everything reminds me of her. I'm sure that, for those who didn't know her, it might be a bit confusing or annoying that I keep mentioning my mate Sara. I want to. It keeps it all going, doesn't it. Makes life a bit more understandable. She made her mark though, she won't easily be forgotten.

And now ... well we've got to work out a fitting lasting tribute. There are a group of us keen to do this and we've had a few little chats and a few ideas have come up. We've got to come together on this though.

It's May 5. Sara died a month ago today. I got a bit angry when the calendar flipped from April into May because she hadn't made this month, things were moving on without her. Unfair I thought. Every Thursday that goes by I'm paying particular attention to. Every time April 5 is mentioned I get a jarring go through me. Every morning on the way to work I look at my mobile phone and wonder if she'd somehow receive my text if I sent it but then put it back down.

I'm going to go now. Thank you for reading. And again, tell your friends and family how much you love them today.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sara Morgan 1972 - 2007

This is very hard to write. My friend, Sara Morgan, died on Thursday 5 April just before the Easter weekend. I found out yesterday.

It's very strange turning the radio and TV on and discovering that everything else is carrying on as normal because nothing is at all normal now. Sara was always there for me, a very important part of my life. All my love, warmth and sympathies go out to her family at this time and anyone else who knew and loved her. She was a powerhouse of wit and intelligence with great talent and passion.

You may have known her at Bridgend School, Chorley Wood or Worcester College (Now New College, Worcester). More recently you may have come across her professionally through Blazie though you may remember her as an irritant to the Braille Authority (BAUK) through her campaigning or as a regular on Radio 4's In Touch programme for visually impaired people.

there are more still who will know her as one of the voices on the BlindKiss talk show - my co-host. All the shows we ever did are still there to listen to. She was far more popular than me and received literally hundreds of emails during the lifetime of the show 2001-2004.

I first met Sara back in 1986. I was a pupil at Worcester College for the Blind and, in that year, the school merged with the girls school known as Chorley Wood School for girls with little or no sight (great name).

Sara was the girl who clip clopped round the school corridors in her heels and was known as the Welsh Dragon. She held forth with confidence and was very well known. She later became the head girl in 1989. It's at that time we became teenage sweethearts and were inseperable for the whole of that year before she went to Loughbrough University.

At school she proved her remarkable intelligence, was a life force and a bright spark. God knows why but she took Computer Studies, Maths and Further Maths (known by her as Furry Maths) at A-level. She had amazing logic and would probably have made a great diplomat too.

I remember feeling incredibly priveleged that she was my girlfriend and was completely in love with her.

Boarding school haunted her for the rest of her life. Not in a bad way, you understand, just that it was such an important experience in all our lives that she was still very much anchored in that community right up til the end. Almost every time we spoke we'd refer back to people or events at Worcester. Teenage memories. 80s memories. She was something of a superstar back then, a school celebrity and it's no wonder she held onto those memories so tightly. Even now in 2007 she loved nothing more than for a group of us ex-Worcester students to get together in London for a meal and drinks. In later years her passions were technology, music, food, travel, campaigning and she loved her little Niece Bronwyn.

Am trying to think of some specific events or happenings that would sum her up.

She had a great sense of humour. At school, she once replaced my tube of toothpaste with a tube of tomato puree for a larf. She didn't catch me out though because she'd been talking and laughing about doing it for weeks and was hanging around behind me to see what would happen. Too obvious Sara, not a natural practical joker, try harder ... I loved her for it though.

She had a great love for 80s music, like me. All the pop, all the rock. God knows why but one of her favourite bands was Rush - a canadian band who sang Spirit of radio. I remember her going to see them live and Marillion too. The albums that will most remind me of her are Misplaced Childhood (Marillion) and Wild (erasure). The song we share is probably 'Blue Silver' by Duran Duran, a dark and haunting 80s pop song - the last track on the Rio album. Thunder Only Happens When It's Raining by Fleetwood Mac will always remind me of her ... plus the out-and-out pop that we used to sing at the top of our voices when we got together to play old records.

There's so much to say but I can't sit here and write an opus to her ... I've barely gone beyond schooldays and there's so much more to tell ... though I might create this opus given a bit more time.

I can't believe I'm sitting here writing this.

I keep thinking about Warren, a mutual friend of ours. I introduced the two of them in my little flat in Neasden in 1998. I had just moved to London and was feeling dreadfully homesick and thinking I'd made the wrong move. The two of them came to stay on my living room floor to make me feel better and became firm friends. OK so I know I make crap bacon sandwiches! Wozza mate, I know I can't replace her but I'm always here. We'll work out a way of celebrating her life and keep her memory burning brightly.

I'm hurting. Very badly. I can only imagine what her family are feeling at the moment.

I don't want to talk about her medical history. It's a complicated one. She wouldn't want me to talk about that. But she had a way of rising above it, something I'm going to try and do better now with my own complicated medical stuff.

Sara I can't believe you've gone. I keep wanting to pick up the phone and speak to you. And you never came and sorted out my wireless internet problems ... who's going to do that now?

Love to her mum Denise, brothers Neil and Sean and her father Lynn. I'm looking forward to telling you about the Sara I knew.

And to everyone else ... go and listen to Sara on BlindKiss ... she was extremely proud and passionate about the shows we did together.

And please, everyone, look after the ones you love. Give them a call today. Let them know you love them.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Friday's podcast party

Did I really get back at 2:30am Saturday morning? My head the next day seemed to suggest so.

WE've been doing the Ouch Podcast for a year now. Friday night we went out for a bit of a party to celebrate. It started in Notting Hill and ended, very late, in Shepherds Bush. But what can I remember?

Present were: Roving Rob Crossan, Mat Fraser, Liz Carr, Emma, Lisa, Jo Church and me. We were hoping Steve P would turn up and the other Jo but sadly they couldn't join us. Liz's PA was around but I'm not sure we're allowed to talk about her?

Great night! Very funny. Can't really remember what we all talked about ... maybe we just grinned and dribbled. I remember: beer, Gin and Tonic, champagne, bit of food, exploring Liz's powerchair and REALLY trying to empathise with her plight, talking to Rob about his radio project and possible new job, watching Jo effortlessly and accidentally pulling, Jo coming into the men's toilets with me, singing and talking about music in the Shepherds Bush place we ended up in, asking the DJ to play some Happy Mondays (god knows why). OH and I have memories of Liz being turned away by the bouncers in the second place we ended up in? She might mention it on the podcast I guess ... we're recording it tonight and it should be up on the site Thursday.

I'm sure I'm gonna learn of any dreadful things I said Friday night when I get into the office today. Ick. Don't think I was too embarrassing though.

Lost: Expose

Just a quick nod towards last night's episode of Lost on Sky One. Exposé. It was an episode featuring Nikki and Paolo. Spoiler alert: they were buried alive.

Bit of an annoying episode because it appeared to live almost totally outside of the wider Lost story arc: a self contained episode.

We caught a few new things though, or maybe just one. We saw Juliet and Ben in The Pearl station/hatch. It was a flashback from soon after the plane crash - J and B were plotting to get Jack to operate on Ben. Obviously Ben's spinal growth did exist but I still had a bit of a funny feeling about how or why he had the thing until I saw this episode. At least we see Juliet apparently on Ben's side ... I'm still not sure about those two, what their "history" is (we know they "have history" thanks to Mr Friendly in the episode where Jack operates). But Juliet does appear to be at odds with The Others: she wants out, she gave Jack a video message asking him to kill Ben during the operation, she killed Danny, she was about to be given a death sentence according to The Others "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" legal process but thanks to Jack ended up with just a branding instead.

Nikki and Paolo. I think they're gone for good now. Even the writers Carlton and Damon appear to want to write them off as a bit of a mistake according to their podcast last week.

Yes Damon, we understand you're obsessed with Lost. You're up at 6:35 on a Monday morning blogging about it ... when you should be in bed because you're working til 10pm tonight (new podcast recording tonight).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Lost: The man from Tallahassee

I don't want to appear as if I'm some kind of Lost obsessive but I am. There's no escaping it (as the Beatnuts once sang).

What a fantastic episode. So many questions left in the mind:

Q: Was Ben ever going to let Jack and Juliet leave by submarine?

Q: Now that the submarine has been blown up by Locke, are there really no other ways off the island as Ben said? And no other ways of communicating with the outside world?

Q: Are Ben and Locke pleased that no one can leave the island now? Well, if that's true (see above question).

Q: Are The Others (AKA The Hostiles) some kind of pseudo scientific cult? Ben and his gang recruit people to join the islanders and he seems to hope they will learn to love their new life / not want to leave.

Q: Locke said that Ben's way of life on the island was 'cheating' - he was referring, we think, to the relative civilisation they have. What does this mean? Does he prefer a purist human-interacting-with-island approach where they commune with the environment without walls, a roof or refrigerators to put chicken in?

Q: Is Russoe an Other?

Q: If 'The Purge' was a fight between The Others and the Dharma Initiative ... what are their differences? Are The Others a breakaway group? Or maybe one stands for religion and the other for science? Which is which?

Q: GO Googling for Hanso Adoptions ... you'll see there is a lot of talk about family and belonging. Is this what the island experiment (if that's what it is) is all about?

Q: Parents. A constant theme growing ever stronger now that Locke's dad is on the island too. ALl of the Losties have wronged their parents ... except Locke. Mikhail referred to Kate and Sayid as 'flawed' in the Par avion episode. Is being 'flawed' about having wronged your parents? Certainly we know Sayid and Kate were not on Jacob's List. It's unclear but Mikhail said he rememebred Locke ... does this imply that Locke isn't flawed and may well be on Jacob's List? We also know for sure Jack isn't on Jacob's List from an earlier episode and Jack dobbed his Dad in to the hospital ethics board.

Q: Are all the parents on the island?
Q: Is Walt's Mum really dead? Is she on the island? Ditto Jack and Claire's Dad?
SO many questions!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sun Pat Peanut Butter

Do you remember the olde TV advert for Sun Pat?

The jingle sang: "Sun Pat Peanut Butter for your daily spread ..."

It kept running round my head while I was at the supermarket earlier. Damn annoying. What do they call them, 'ear worms'? Tunes you can't get off your brain.

Then I started thinking about the Ringo Starr one: "Our son Pat ... goes round in circles like a cat. Has a bat, etc etc" (I've not quite perfected the words here)

It feels quite cold this afternoon in London. Smashed a bottle of gin at the counter in the supermarket ... and whaddya know, the nice staff came and replaced it for us fre of charge!

I'm getting worryingly into my gin since New York.

I saw the Man from Tallahassee last night! Oh my God! Lost has turned a new corner. What an excellent episode. I'll talk about it more once it has been on Sky One tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lost: Man from Tallahassee

Big potential spoiler alert here

I am obsessed with Lost - that long-running tv drama showing on Sky One in the UK, originating on ABC in the states.

I'm aware that in two short hours, all US citizens will be able to tune their TV to ABC and watch the latest episode - season 3, episode 13 - entitled "The Man from Tallahassee".

Are you watching it? Honestly, there's not a day goes by when I don't think about it, look it up on a website or download a podcast / YouTube clip for the latest theories, gossip and general immersalness.

The UK gets to see tonight's episode on Sunday night, 10pm, Sky One.

OK, so where are we.

At the end of the last episode (Par Avion) we saw Locke, Sayid and Kate enter the Others village that they tracked down ... due to some hokey thing about Locke having seen it on Mr Eko's stick as he was burying him: "a sign, a sign".

Anyhoo, at the end of the show we saw Jack playing football with The Others! He was playing with Tom, Mr Friendly, specifically. He seemed to be having fun. So we're left with the question ... is he now in league with The Others?

Having YouTUbed around, I found a trailer for this week's Lost on ABC (and hence Sky One in the UK, too). We see Jack talking to Kate. Oooh darn it if there's not a lov thang goin' on. Looks as if the little fling with Sawyer on the Hydra little island was perhaps born of pity because Kate thought Sawyer was a gonner. Kate didn't admit to loving Sawyer ... he did ask her and rather admitted he loved her.

Moving on. We discover Ben Linus knows that Locke was a wheelchair user for 4 years. He knows how he ended up in the chair, too. We hear from the voiceover man that Ben is going to tell Locke some of the secrets of the island in this episode too! I'm sure this must be connected with his apparent recovery and ability to walk again, Rose's bout of cancer remission and possibly even the reason why Sun became pregnant though her husband Gin is infertile (it's possible that Sun had an affair with that Lee fella we saw in flashback though, I think Damon Lindlaugh and Carlton thingumbyjig may hav admitted to this in one of their podcasts in the last run, Autumn time).

Ya know, it's only when I come to writing this down that I realise how dull it must be for others who know nothing about Lost? I was trying to tell my parents - they were up this past weekend - about the intricacies and how much I like the show ... they were zoning out barely before I started.

Latest Lost theories

• Desmond is Jesus -- Well. I had thought for a while back there that, tapping into this whole religious thing, Desmond was some kind of Jesus figure: keeps saving people (well Charlie), beard, keeps calling people 'brother', saved the world so others might live - but not sure about that now. Well, not sure what it would achieve in the entire story arc at any rate. Might come back to that another time.

• The great man -- Ben has talked about him, Mickhail the Russian fella who got killed talked about him. We're talking about the leader of The Others or the Dharma Initiative - if they are one and the same thing which I'm not altogether sure about. "He's a great man ... but not a forgiving man" said Ben back in season two when he was captive in the Losties' hatch. If he's not forgiving, could this be why Mikhail and Miss Klough were happy to die? Is he ruthless? Or is he a cult leader? Is the Dharma initiative a pseudo-scientific cult? Who is the leader? I think it might be Jack! But Jack has somehow either forgotten temporarily or is playing an elaborate game. Jack's faith healing tattooist saw leadership qualities in him, all the Losties defer to him as leader (mostly) and his tattoos say he is a man who stands alone amongst others. Others? Hallo, suss the big clue? He's the leader! He's why everyone is on the island!

• Leader backtrack -- Or maybe Locke is the leader ... Mikhail said he remembered Locke ... suggesting he may have been on Jacob's list. Hmm, whereas Tom (Mr Friendly) said Jack wasn't on Jacob's list back in the episode where Ben was in the operating theatre. But maybe Jack wasn't on the list because he IS the leader?

More at another time.

Not lifechanging

I've done it again. Got all silly boyish excited about an electronic gizmo / piece of software I've got.

Basically everyone, party over, seems as if JAWS 8 isn't life changing after all.

Fuck. I'm off to bed.

If Dragon's Den were on when I were a kid ...

When I was a lad, I used to get all fired up by TV programmes I watched.

If Blue Peter taught you how to make something, I'd be up, out of my chair, at the table, making it.

When the film 'WarGames' came on TV, I got up, went to my computer and tried to hack into something important. Didn't have a modem but that didn't stop me programming something with a password that made me feel like a technical whizz / hacker! Oooh! Ingenuity.

Superman? I drew a big Superman S thing and cut it out, put it on my TV shirt and became a superhero.

So to the present. This evening I watched Dragon's Den, got all excited as usual about starting my own business and making millions ... but what have I done about it now that I hav the tools, freedom and adult brain to make it a reality? Answer: nothing. Well OK I did sell a few old DVDs on eBay a few months ago after a particularly good episode of the business show but ... well if only it had been on when I was younger I could be a millionaire, innit.

At last

For those of you keeping up with the fascinating yet fateful tale of why this blog hasn't been updated properly in a dog's age ... well we reach final stage tonight.

I have received the latest version of my screenreader, JAWS, and so Blogger is once again accessible - no thanks to the Blogger team who altered their site so that certain screenreaders were unable to use it. 290 pounds later, I can decorate the web with my meaningless blabber once again.

You must be relieved.

Tomorrow I get another disk with new voices for my screenreader which means I can evoke the lovely Karen - an aussie female voice - which I am taking a small amount of pleasure in for some reason. OK. I am in love with a speech synthesizer. I admit it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I posted. There.

OK so I'm posting to my blog for the first time in ages. did I tell you I've been to New York? Effing cold, minus 10, snow on streets, but had a great time. Shopped like a b*stard.

I'm writing this at work. It's 7:38pm and I should ahve gone home ages ago. I believe Americans have almost caught up with our superior method of mean timeage by doing daylight saving a few weeks early. That's nice.

OK. I've now forked out 290 quid (?) for the latest version screenreader so will be back blogging again very soon.

So, for those of you who missed me (and I can't imagine there are too many) then hurrah I'll be back. Screw blogger though and their sudden decision to make their site less accessible.

I've become meaner and more unpleasant since the last time I posted. I should warn you of this. I'm fired up at the moment and scattering my hell and hatred everywhere. Perhaps.

Oh god my mum is calling my moble.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Testing jaws 8 with Blogger

hello. Is this working? I'm using a demo of JAWS 8 just to see if I can get it working at home. Sheesh. What a faff.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New blogger is inaccessible!

Still no effing books to read

I'm getting more and more pissed off about how I can't read books. There aren't any worth reading in accessible formats. Why why why do audio book publishers insist on churning out new and different versions of old stuff like Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes? How did we get into this state of being? It's ridiculous. Do they have no sense of zeitgeist? Who do they think their market is? And indeed, who the hell does make up the majority market for audio books anyway? I bet it isn't blind people. Also, lets note that you can put an entire audio book on one CD now that MP3 CDs are becoming more popular. And government, woohoo, hello, there are serious implications regarding education if there is no provision by which publishers are forced or obliged to make their books available: either electronic text or audio seem to be the most popular formats these days.

The idea that people want Braille books these days is a myth. Discuss. However I'm sure RNIB - whose campaigns haven't got very far despite some passion put in - have, I'm sure, cottoned on to the fact that government are more likely to approve a plan if they ask for electronic texts to be made available so that they can then turn them easily and quickly into Braille or large print. It may not be the medium of choice for many visually impaired people but it does buy into the whole literacy thing that the gov't are into.

Does reading audio books make you literate? discuss.

Does reading electronic texts with a speech synth or braille display make you literate? Discuss.