Blind Author Needs a New Computer Rig

This is a mirror of my GoFundMe ( but also includes a Paypal link (which I frankly prefer):

* * *

Hi, my name’s Asha.

In 2011, I bought my second iMac.

Yesterday (5/3/2018) it died. Even if I can get it fixed, it’s a patch job and the clock is officially ticking.

I started thinking about the pros and cons of what to get next–then I remembered I’m broke. I retired in 2012 due to disability (I was diagnosed with Bipolar–Type 2 and high-functioning autism spectrum disorder) and have been trying to deal with life with a chronic illnesses ever since, including long-term anaemia.

I’m registered blind and this makes buying computers interesting, even ones from Apple which have all the awesome accessibility options.

I have the other RP: retinopathy of prematurity. This means I have no depth perception and I only have one semi-working eye. It also makes me short sighted which means I need things to be super close in order to see them.

For the last few years, my computer has sat literally in front of my nose and I still have to amp up the zoom settings wherever possible.

Basically, my visual impairment is very specific, I need things BIG. 27″ of screen is no longer enough and as much as I love iMacs, once a single part goes, you’re screwed.

So I want to buy and customise a new rig around an Apple device, probably a Mac Mini or, worse case, a new iMac. I want it to be as future-proof as possible and last a good five years. I also use Apple and all my apps are based around the OS so an £800 PC tower just isn’t an option.

Getting a new rig would involve:

  • A large screen (at least 30″ with really good resolution): £500+
  • A maxed out Mac Mini or, if it’s not updated by the point I need it, a 27″ iMac: £1500-£3000
  • A microphone and webcam: £100
  • A secondary screen for using media (prob a 50″ smart TV connected to the main computer): £600
  • Sundries (cables, a decent set of speakers, a lamp): £100
  • Anything more will go to paying GFM’s cut which, as I understand it is, 2.5% per donation, plus 20p. See:

Why do I need this?

I have two passions: the first of which is writing. I was a journalist first but then made my way into fiction. I’ve published several novels, written hundreds of short stories.

Here are some of the projects I’m working on:

The second is my side-gig, a hobby I have helping adapt manga. From a practical perspective, while I have a laptop, doing this on a tiny screen is just impossible. I can do it in a pinch but not permenantly. I need to be able to see and read the Japanese scans and because of the way I need to resize them, I need more screen real estate than I have.

Because of my disabilities and my attempts at getting out of manic-induced debt, I simply don’t have the cash to replace my largest piece of kit. At nearly eight years old, my iMac has served me faithfully but now I need something more.

My income is fixed and I don’t have the six months I need to save for a new rig. I need everything sorted by May in order to be able to continue writing and my side-gig with no distruption. Because of my income, I’m hesitant to accrue more debt, especially as it’s taken me nearly four years to drag myself out of a mire as it is.

So, I want to ask for help. I need to write to stay sane, I need to so my side-gig in order to be able to earn a little extra to–as my Nanna would say–‘afford some jam to put on my bread’.

I’d appreciate any help you can give, even if it’s just a shout out.

* * *

One of the things I’m currently doing is looking at a replacement rig, this is basically researching prices, makes and models, as well as bearing in mind that it’s March and Apple usually announces stuff at specific times in the year so saying a Mac Mini will cost just over £1600 might not mean that’s how much I end up paying for one, especially if it is refreshed this year.

My new rig is also more than just more than a computer. I realised I need a new desk to put it on: my current one is a decade old and … well bowing. You can see where the weight of my old one has warmed the whatever laminated wood it was made with. A new desk, a good one from Viking Direct is just shy of £200.

The rest of my initial list is the following. This is a guideline, it will change, but I like having an idea of cost. It also includes random ephemera like a surge plug and a desk lamp (which is also kinda important as I have photophobia and need a very specific kind of light to be able to see, I also need it behind me as light in the face means an instant ‘do not pass go’ and involves migraines. Those are not fun.

Mac Mini (2011) – (£1,636.00)

40″ Philips BDM4037UW/00 40-Inch 4K UHD 3840 x 2160 Curved LED Monitor – Silver – (£558) – OR –

Samsung C32F391 32-Inch Curved LED Monitor – White Gloss – (£260.73)

Logitech Z200 Multimedia Speakers/PC Speakers – Midnight Black – (£26.99)

Samsung UE49MU6500 49-Inch Curve TV – Silver –

Desk Lamp – (£70.00)

WD 8 TB My Book Desktop Hard Drive – – (£179.00)

Extension Lead – (£17.99)

A webcam and decent microphone is also on the list but I’ve not researched those yet

This list, which is neither final nor complete, tots up to £3250. It doesn’t include GFM’s fees or other things which may crop up. But, for the sake of transparency, I wanted to post it to give people an idea of my ideal wish list, even though it’s going to be sometime before I even think about going shopping.

I Need to Update This More

I’ve not been around much due to infections, Christmas, winter and the whole guide dog aftercare thing (Tate says ‘Hi!’). Let’s proceed with the annual bullet-proof list:

  • I need to update/overhaul the site, redo my bibliography etc. I’m also anaemic so I can’t be arsed to do much right now.
  • Ditto my Patreon.
  • The weather sucks today.
  • Tate has a box so she’s all good. We taught her to pee, y’all! Like on command, or just letting us know when she needs to go. Woot!
  • Tate is also an officially trained escalator guide dog. This is super important as she finds it So. Much. Fun.
  • We’re going to London next month to do the tube … and buy manga at JP Books 😀
  • I got my ‘author’ copies of Saint Seiya: Santia Sho Vol. 1. I’m actually the localiser for the English edition of the series, which is really quite cool. It basically involves lots of editing and polishing of the script so that it flows but still retains the nuances of the original. This is the #sekitthing I’ve not been talking about on social media.
  • I’ve seen so many movies. Black Panther is awesome.
  • I’ve spent the winter mastering my slow cooker. I rock. So does stewed pork belly in gravy.
  • The cats are all good: Isis is in most of the day now, Ceri is still obsessively stalking Tate and D just wants to boop her with his claws. This is not allowed.
  • I am writing, it’s just slow going.
  • More to come, etc.

Here Cometh 2018

The shift from one year to another is always weird for me.

I’ve been doing very little (aside from watching Netflix and trying to figure out how many stories I need to edit for submission in January. Oh and wine. Wine is good.) Tate is doing well, though it’s taking a while for her to get used to life. She’s now counting cats each night and curling up on me as I catch up on Reddit every morning.

I’ve been using a kakeibo (家計簿/かけいぼ), or household ledger, to try and help with my debt repayment and finances. I’ve also gotten myself a new fridge, freezer and oven which is awesome. I feel like a total adult but, at the same time, I’ve also been doing Sekrit Things (which I’ll talk about in February) that have taken a good portion of my time.

Christmas/Yule has been chilled. I had multiple guide dogs and so much chocolate. It was nice to have friends visiting, if I’m honest. Though poor Tate was exhausted from the constant activity. I cooked a lot (mainly risotto) which was nice. I like hostessing for guests.

I don’t really have a list of resolutions. I’m very anti-January but, that said, I have things I want to do in the new year, from working more on novels and Patreon, to getting myself back in the black and going to Bath/London. I watched feeds from Japan, from Ise and Tokyo, which makes me want to try and focus on my language learning.

Happy New Year, folks, and here’s hoping it’s a good one.

Meet Tate

I’ve been AFK for a while but meet the reason why: Tate.

She’s a full Labrador with a cheeky sense of humour and a love of socks. I’ve had her nearly a month now and she’s settling beautifully. Her favourite things include cats (she, D and Ceri are bonding on a cellular level), her ragger and working. She’s a very particular, chatty dog and loves attention.

We’ve been having some issues with separation anxiety so, yesterday, I got her a bed for my room and a terry cloth whale. It worked like a charm. She’s comfy, content and sleeping right through the night where previously she’s been waking up from nightmares.

Work-wise, she really enjoys it. We’ve been doing new routes locally and Tate isn’t a people dog, so she’s focusing on her work. For a dog, she’s actually quite introverted unless it’s someone in my circle of friends and guide dogs. Even better, she’s essentially a clone of my beloved Bramble, except she’s mine and just as affectionate.

We qualified last week, which is a great feeling. I think we’re going to have a great partnership but, for now, Tate is settling in. More photos will follow, I promise. Tate has an account on Dokonoko as well as my Instagram feed.

Limitless: A Year On

My Limitless card is up for renewal in a few weeks and I was curious about whether it was a worthwhile investment (it was).

I wanted to document what movies I saw though this is hardly a model of the scientific method (I’m happily retired, ergo I have more time than most, and I also have access to what I’m affectionately calling the ‘CEA loophole’ where I can take in a plus one at no extra cost, again for free).

Also I’ve turned movie-going into a habit and finally gotten over my anxiety about crowded spaces. Repeat viewings are either due to boredom, someone/me wanting to go or a genuine love of the movie (Arrival, I’m looking at you because you emotionally broke me but I heart you). There were also a slew of good movies out during 2016-17 and I travelled a bit (which allowed me to see movies elsewhere, like during my trip to Bath with Shannon).

 So what did I see?

  • Doctor Strange: twice (+1 person at each showing)
  • Storks: once (+1 person)
  • Inferno: once (+1 person)
  • Nocturnal Animals: once (+1 person)
  • Arrival: twice (+1 person at each viewing)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: three times (+1 person at two of the three)
  • Allied: once
  • Moana: five times (!!!! also +1 person at two showings)
  • Rogue One: twice
  • Passengers: once
  • Assassin’s Creed: once (+1 person)
  • Sing: once (+1 person)
  • The Lego Batman Movie: once (+1 person and a student)
  • Logan: once (+ 1 person)
  • Beauty and the Beast: twice (+1 each time)
  • Life: once (+1 person)
  • Ghost in the Shell: once (+1 person)
  • Fast and the Furious 8: once (+1 person)
  • Hidden Figures: once (+1 person)
  • The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2: twice (+1 person at one showing)
  • Alien: Covenant: twice (+1 person per screening)
  • La La Land: once (+1)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: once (+1 person)
  • Wonder Woman: twice (+2 person at each showing)
  • Despicable Me 3: once (+1)
  • The Fate of the Furious: once (+1)
  • Atomic Blonde: once (+1)
  • IT: once (+1)

That’s 40 movies … wow. That’s around £800 worth of screenings for £205, definitely the gift which kept on giving.

renews for 2018

Gismo and the Inigo Montoya Hilarity*.

*This should have you covered. If it doesn’t, go and watch The Princess Bride. Now. Seriously.

Because my moods have given me a short fuse of late (mainly turning my hyper-aggressive, it’s a symptom of high functioning depression) and Guide Dogs’ party line involves a frankly spineless response to dealing with unwanted human, I suggested our little group try passive-aggression instead. This mean we can be snide but not rude and express our annoyance without using the f word (which is a huge no no).

It also might prevent me from throttling half of Norwich.

See people annoy me; they talk to me as the non-blind communicator. Don’t ask me about a dog which is clearly connected to my friend. He’s obviously blind and known for sarcasm but he’s neither deaf not stupid. Oh and they like to barge into our conversations ad nauseam. Because apparently we need the non-blind to invade our privacy or we just cease existing.

What’s worse is that this happens All. The. Time.

Take out the guide dog and you’d never randomly insert yourself into another person’s conversation. EVER. It’s the hight of rudeness. But not when there’s a dog. That nulls and voids everything. Thus is it apparently okay for non-disabled people to do that to blind folk.

No it’s fucking not. Stop it.

Paul and I were in Waterstones having a cheeky coffee (actually cold drinks) while we waited for our respective buses to come in. I did the till run and got our drinks while Paul bonded sub-atomically with one of the rather comfy chairs. He does that. It’s okay. As the differently-blind, it’s sometimes easier for me to stand in queues or grab drinks and it was my turn to pay. Yay loyalty stamps!

Now it is widely accepted that all guide dogs are beautiful. Fun fact: there’s never been an ugly one. Even Labradoodles are pretty in their own kind of special way. So this gets commented on a lot.

Yes, we know, we live with them. No you can’t touch them, they’re working. Yes, even while we’re trying to chat.

Aka: piss the fuck off and let us drink our beverages and continue conversing.


So Paul starts dealing with Husband, an elderly chap with issues of his own walking, who seems determined to pet Gismo. I’m in the middle of paying so I only hear about this later. Husband wants and tries to pet Gismo and Paul puts a stop to it.

They’re sitting next to us, so painfully close it feels more like sharing a table though there’s a clear partition. I return with our drinks and Wife is trying to get to pet Gismo, who just wants love but is otherwise sitting quietly as he’s supposed to. He’s in harness but he’s already had some affection today so he’s after it if opportunities and people present.

Wife is given a firm: No.

Subtext: Not going to happen. Leave us alone. No asking six times in various ways will not change the answer.

She sits next to us and tells her husband off for petting the dog whilst occasionally throwing questions at us, depsite the fact we’re mid-way a conversation of her own. The hypocrisy is real: he can’t but it’s okay for her, apparently. Paul is fielding because has more patience than me. Oh it must be so hard, they’re so pretty. How old is he? Is he good? Paul replies like a star and I try to move back into our conversation bubble. I think we were discussing how to, realistically, ensure his next dog is called Karma. Because GDO jokes are awesome.

Then Cute Scottish Girl turns up. This is totally left field for me and it’s a welcome distraction as I am beginning to get pissed off with Wife and it’s been ages since we ran into each other. CSG loves guide dogs, Gismo leaps on her and it’s fine. I say the magic nickname to Paul and he knows just who I mean. Cough. CSG loves Uni, was one of the people who got me through losing her. That’s essentially been all her guide dog exposure though, except maybe meeting Brams once, I think. Obviously, it’s not a great example but CSG apologises and Paul gives her the okay.

Gismo purrs like a kitten.

Wife sees an opening.

The pair of them stand to go and suddenly she’s there, next to CSG and I’m like ‘CSG is Mars, you’re Pluto, bitch’. Because we have rungs and strangers don’t rank anywhere near people we like. Also you already tried this.

Cue, to Gismo: I mustn’t pet you.

Meaning: cat butt face It’s not fair that she can pet you and I can’t. Why can’t I pet you?

Because Wife is grasping for him, Paul starts petting Gismo to pull him back into the safe zone. Gissy collapses into a fur puddle and dog rug mode. I think he was hoping this would make her lose interest. Husband was obviously getting impatient and I was trying to converse with CSG, or at least bring her into our little chat group.

And then Paul finds that nerve, the one which makes him go silly. I gently chide Paul for tormenting him in public, Gissy’s back leg is going and then, it comes:

Wife: Oh you found his G Spot.

I’m sorry? All the WHAT?

My brain: WTF????!!!!! Did she just?

I start at CSG and then at Paul, who is giving me his ‘I might be blind but WTF?’ stare. I’m sure I misheard but then, oh it continues:

Wife: I suppose it’s easier with bitches.

I stare at CSG, whom I have shamelessly flirted with. I like girls and she’s called CSG for a reason (Scottish is apparently a turn on for me; I blame Outlander). Wife might have said something else but I’m mentally trying not to piss myself laughing and Wife mercifully goes away.

The three of us howl so hard, I’m pretty sure books fell off the shelves downstairs. We all check each other to ensure this wasn’t a shared hallucination. Nope, Wife genuinely didn’t know what she’d meant. As we all have very, ehrm, adult minds and I’m known for my flexible sexuality, we all start assuming this very crazy lady was either genuinely unaware of what she said or really didn’t engage her brain.

Regardless, we don’t do THAT to dogs. Ew.

But, oh, friends, it was hilarious. A true moment I wish I’d had the foresight to record and put on YouTube. I haven’t laughed that hard in ages.

Definitely beats passive-aggression though.

But, seriously, people, leave a guide dog in harness alone. Leave their humans alone too.