Smart phone + Dark mind =

Before you read this little piece of fiction I’d like to say a couple of things.
Though See4Me is fictional, such apps exist. They are making great strides in artificial intelligence and image recognition which is being engineered to help blind people live more independent lives. These truly are the days of miracles and wonder.

This story, or idea, is based on my own experience with a similar app. The below scenario popped into my head and now I’m terrified to use the app. I have deleted it from my phone.

We’re all afraid of what is out there, unseen, in the darkness, beyond our perceptions… Even those of us to whom darkness is a constant companion.

I hope you enjoy.

24 hours with See4Me

This is a quick review I want to do of an app I’ve just downloaded called See4Me.

for those of you not familiar with See4Me, it’s an app for blind people, like myself, who most likely live alone. It uses artificial intelligence to describe the world. So, for example, the first thing I pointed my phone at was a vase on the windowsill and See4You said ‘Vase’. It’s amazing. I think there are still a few bugs though as it then said ‘face’. I’m guessing it might have been confused by the plant in the vase.

I also got ‘knee’, ‘armpit’, ‘hand’, ’two fingers raised’… It identified my computer correctly, ‘Apple mac air’. It even told me that ‘a white car’ drove past my house as I held my iPhone out the window. Still, it kept calling the carpet ‘grass’ and couldn’t identify my butt. I’m hurt. 😦

Anyway. I’m going to keep a record of using it throughout the day. I can picture this becoming a great tool for me.


Okay, I’ve had the app installed for a few hours now. I used it to identify a tin of beans to have with my dinner and a CD I’m now listening too. Ages since I’ve listened to a CD. The app actually read out the title, Barry White, Greatest Hits… Oh Yeah. Hello ladies. 😉

Saying that, it’s still misidentifying objects. When in continuous mode, where you can sweep, it’s said ‘face’ no less than four times. I tweeted the developer who told me that it’s called a ‘false positive’, where the artificial intelligence is simply misidentifying objects. Despite such niggles, it’s still an impressive app. Would be amazing to have it connected to a glasses mounted camera.

Much later…

Okay, now this is getting creepy. It’s just after 3 AM and I’m in my room again. I just went to the bathroom. I don’t sleep well and was trying to find the Nytol, and with See4Me on continuous mode I managed to go through the medical cabinet and find the sleeping tablets but, and this is going to sound silly, when I turned around the app still running it again said ‘face’. Now, it’s probably just that I’m tired and the quiet of the house is kinda creepy in itself but, well, why does it keep saying ‘face’? I live alone. I’m certain there is no one in the house… Certain. Maybe I should try it again here in my room. Though, if it says it again, I think I might just scream. I’m sure I’ll laugh about this in the morning. I’ve just spooked myself. It’s just a ‘ghost’ in the machine, as it were. 🙂

Oh God… It didn’t say ‘face’ this time. No. It said ‘Man smiling.’.

11 reasons why dating a blind guy is awesome

11 reasons why dating a blind guy is awesome

The bar was steamy and full of the scent of alcohol, perfume and sweat. I threw a smile her way and hoped to hell I wasn’t smiling at the wrong person.. Again.

I cleared my throat, it was time to escalate this situation, simply standing there, poised with a Scotch and looking dashing probably wasn’t going to close this deal. I touched her lightly on the forearm and leant in.

“You’re beautiful you know?”

She giggled and I heard the smile in her voice as she looked up at me and said:

“Oh Olz, that’s lovely. Thank you.…”

She paused. Angel Olz, my guardian in these situations and perpetually balanced on my left shoulder stirred. He’d smelled smoke, heard a bump in the night, felt the changing of the wind. In short, he new that something was amiss.

“Hang on a second, how do you know I’m beautiful? You can’t see me.”

I felt the conversational scree on which I was standing begin to shift. I took a swig of my drink, coughed as it went down the wrong way before plonking the glass back down on the slick bar.

“I can hear it in your voice?” I considered what I had just said and removed the question mark.

“I can hear it in your voice.” Yes, that sounded better. Far more self assured. Angel Olz punched the air and grinned. Two pompoms appeared in his hands as he went into a cheerleader routine.

“I don’t believe you.”

“You smell nice.” Angel Olz paused, pompoms spread and frowned.

“So you’re complimenting my perfume?”

I felt the rockslide still beneath my feet as I hit firmer ground.

“Yes, yes I am.” Angel Olz gave me a wide smile and a thumbs up.

“But then, you’re not complimenting me are you, just my perfume?”

I scrambled for something to say. It had been going so well, laughter, flirting, physical contact and with that thought, my big stupid mouth opened. Angel Olz leapt forward, pompoms extended to plug the widening hole… But, he was too late.

“I felt your side boob as you were guiding me?”

Angel Olz put his face in his hands and began to weep.

. There was a disturbance in the air, a waft of intoxicating perfume before the gin and tonic splashed into my face.

I sighed, sucked at my damp collar and thought, not for the first time:

“This dating lark is hard.”

Blind dating

It’s difficult for anyone to meet the right person, sighted or not. People will often avoid asking the questions which they should ask. In any relationship we look for common ground and sometimes, when it’s hard to find, we have to build the foundations ourselves. We need to get the big awkward questions out the way so we can move on, especially in the dating situations. Questions like:

  • “How much can you actually see?”

  • “Can you manage to use the toilet alone?”

  • “Do you need help with cutting up your food?”

  • “Would you like another scotch?”

I, self appointed ambassador for all Face Feelers. (Blind people), aim debunk these points of contention and, hopefully, in my own little way, make the world just that little bit better.

As an aside, a girl did actually make me feel her face at the weekend, she then felt mine even though she could see.

“Mummy, why are those two people rubbing each other’s faces?” Asks fictional child.

“Stop looking,” Replies the overweight and flustered mother. “They must be high.”

So, I’d like to take this opportunity to explain why dating a blind guy is actually pretty damn great.

In marketing they have a billion and sixty-three acronyms, that’s not an exaggeration, I counted them, one of which is USP, unique Selling Point. So, to all the girls out there that wonder what the benefits of dating a blind guy are, here goes:

1. Your looks

You’re just as beautiful first thing in the morning as you are when you are ready to go out: This is actually a chat-up line I’ve used a few times, all the better because it’s true. Sadly it can work both ways so some girlfriends will take advantage to go out looking like they’ve just woken up, bed breath and all… Gross.

2. Dinner dates

At dinner you can have half a jar of spaghetti on your face, parmesan in your hair and a courgette protruding from your bra and I really won’t care… That is, right up until you start attracting seagulls.

3. Other women

Not that I’m a polygamous man by nature, but I can’t have my head turned by another woman unless caught off guard by an errant handbag or any other similar violations of my personal space.

4. Power cuts

Think about it… In the dark I’m a demon in more ways than one ;)… Whilst your still fumbling around for a flashlight I’ve already opened a bottle of wine, whipped up a delicious midnight snack and popped on my Spongebob onesie before I return to take your hand and lead you through the dark. Hey, you do it for me.

5. I make you look good.

There is a certain cool factor to looking after others. In the past I have been treated like a fabulous accessory with women fighting over who gets to guide me. Plus, by helping out a blind guy you get some serious karmic credit which means you can totally push old people out the way at supermarket checkouts without feeling an ounce of guilt.

6. We can skip queues

It’s kinda funny that this happens as I’m pretty sure blind people can queue just as well as anyone else but, hey, I’ll take it and you should too though, with a warning. I have also been refused and consequently kicked out of nightclubs for arguing that I should only pay half price as I can’t see the shitty decor.

7. Your outfits

Don’t push this point. Eventually I will work out if you’re wearing, say, scuba gear or a clown costume.

8. Drunken stability

I can be used as a support if you are unsteady on your feet due to alcohol. The great thing is that it still looks like you’re helping me.

9. I’m entitled to a guide dog

Everyone loves dogs and, if you don’t, well, we’re probably not going to get on. Just remember, the date is with me, not the dog…

10. Your driving

Until you start swearing, swerving and slamming on the anchors, I will be none the wiser that you are a danger to hedges,, pedestrians and, more importantly, me.

11. Loving acts of kindness

Whilst sleeping, you can draw a penis on my forehead and I won’t know for days.

If you want to read further adventures of Olz, check out Invisible Shores – South America, a blind backpackers muddled memoirs.

Finally, a book title, drum roll please!

It is hard being a writer, learning to play tiny violins whilst pouring out self pitying lamentations to anyone who is unlucky enough to come across our blogs…

Okay, that was a bad start, there are far harder, far more noble callings than a person who sits down and writes about what is currently in their head. I suppose what I should have said was, ‘creativity is a hard tool to wheeled’. It is not something that can be summoned like a genie from a lamp, it must be teased out, stroked and cooed to.

I’ve been thinking about book titles… I’ve been thinking about a book title pretty much solidly for the last month and it’s really, really difficult… A few little words to grasp a potential readers attention, to reach out and seize something within their soul.

By Comparison writing a book is easy, it’s just typing a load of words one after the other. In a 70 k word book it is okay when some words, some sentences or even some passages are not up to scratch because the book is a dilution of an idea, a title is not.

The tile for, ‘the travel book’ that I have been so imaginatively calling it, had to express the main themes of the book, to boil down the ideas into a tough little nugget of emotion. Of course, I needed to include the fact that the book is about some guy who goes travelling across South America and it just so happens he can’t see, but I didn’t want to make a big deal of that because the book isn’t about me being blind, it’s about travel, friendship and a lot of rum. Saying that, I know people are interested in the fact that I can’t see and want to know what it’s like which, in a way was how the book came to be.

On friday, after a bathtub of coffee and a mental work out that left me bleeding coffee from the ears, it came to me. It was not in some revelation, it was no epiphany, an angel didn’t come to me… Personally I think I had thought of every other title and this was the only one left… I’ve changed my mind, creativity is not a hard tool to wheeled, she’s a bitch of a mistress…

Invisible Shores

South America

Coming soon….

Let me know what you think in the comments.