Month: March 2007

Bluish Silver

Today I will mostly be driving round in our new Honda Civic 2.2 TDi, in a lovely Bluish Silver.

That is all.

Well not ALL, but it’s all you are getting for now, and probably for most of the weekend… photos may follow.

Gripes and Groans

I know a few of you use Movable Type. If so, how do you build a test system? For WordPress work I use XAMPP on my PC, it’s an absolute doddle.

There are Perl add-ons for XAMPP, and I found a guide to installing Movable Type in a XAMPP system but the buggering thing won’t work. I’ve checked and double-checked paths, filenames and all that gubbins but still get errors. There MUST be an easier way.. or is that why people switch to WordPress (or something else?).

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At the risk of illiciting “told you so” style comments… I’m having hassles with iTunes. For some reason it just stops working. I was working at home yesterday and listening to music quite happily. I restarted my PC at one point after having installed some new software and iTunes refused to start!

A couple of un-installs later and some not inconsiderable time spent browsing the iTunes support forums found me uninstalling QuickTime only, repairing the install and it works. So far. I’ve not yet had to reboot and try it again so I’m reserving judgement. From what I can tell, once again, it seems like Apple haven’t tested their software properly, and the forums suggest that’s true as well as there are many people having issues with the fact they have different logins on their Windows boxes and iTunes is ‘losing’ preference files, then crashing when it can’t find them. Not elegant and pretty basic if you ask me.

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My other blog has stalled. Mainly because I want to tweak the design a little before I publish. I have a few articles written up but can’t find the enthusiasm to get it going. What happened? Less than a month ago I was raring to go, fired up and… ohh what. That’s what one of the articles is about. As a quick aside, has anyone taken the Belbin team role tests? If so, what ‘team role’ are you? And can you guess which one I am??

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Anyone know of a flat, vertical, wall-mountable, radio alarm clock? Thinner the better, must have digital clock and radio alarm and be wall-mountable. In case you didn’t get all that the first time…

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And yes, I’m still “twittering”.

April Nike+ Challenge

I was gonna wait a week before doing this figured it would be good to match it to the calendar month (doesn’t make any real difference of course but.. what the hell).

So, I’ve setup an “April Fools” Nike+ challenge. It’s quite simple, most mileage wins. I average around 5-6km a run, 3 times a week, so that’ll give you an idea of whether to join, or not. Richard won the last one, but only because everyone else (um… all two of us) was sick!

Leave a comment or drop me an email if you want to join in. The more the merrier!

Chirpy chirpy cheep cheep

OK. Despite the fact I bemoaned this very web service a few weeks back I have since signed up and sent…

Actually, hold up a minute.

You know, I have stood infront of a room full of strangers, the midst of a presentation on blogging, and said “I hate the word blogging”. Blogging is an ugly word. UG-LEEEEE. Throw in… ohh god.. “blogosphere” and I’m practically retching.

Thankfully, “twitter” brings to mind birds chirping at dawn, or perhaps a chorus of ladies-wot-lunch. Either way it’s not that bad a word. Alas the surrounding verbiage is already starting to grate. Do I really “tweet” when I send a message to Twitter? REALLY? I digress.

Meg recently pondered the explosive growth of Twitter:

“… the Twitter value proposition is thousands of people answering one simple question: “what are you doing right now?” All these tangential services and derivative extensions are in danger of warping that proposition entirely, turning Twitter into a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.”

Which, to a point, is true, but as I suggested in her comments, I think that “warping that proposition” is entirely within the business plan for Twitter, and is probably the only reason that it exists.
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Tick Tock

Well I guess I’d better come clean.

The clocks changed on Sunday morning, and we lost an hour because “Spring forward, Fall back”. This is despite the fact that we don’t have “Fall”, we have autumn and the usage of the phrase also ignores the fact that our American brethren changed their clocks a couple of weeks back. Still, mustn’t complain as the nights are now lighter, and much more prone to floating away on the breeze.

From memory I can only recall one time when I missed the changing of the clocks, and thinking about it… yes I’m pretty sure it was my parents fault. There I was, in full Boys Brigade uniform, standing at the Rialto car park wondering why no-one else was there. Scarred for life. Actually, now that I come to think about it that might explain why we are always early for things… hmmmm.

Not wanting to be late for my Sunday morning run, I diligently went round the house late on Saturday night, changing the clocks that need changed, and taking the opportunity to get them all set to the same time (I even phoned the speaking clock, what fun!). Surprisingly, for people who are constantly aware of the time, our clocks all seem to run either fast or slow and over the space of a couple of months they can end up almost five to ten minutes apart. We really should get new clocks.

So, having changed the clocks I set my alarm for 9am as I was out for an early run and knowing I was losing an hour of sleep I thought I’d try to get to bed at a reasonable hour. I sat down at the computer and set an alarm for 11.30pm, knowing fine well I’d run past that by about an hour but that would still give me a good long lie. I do like a long lie on a Sunday.

Well, as you’ve probably guessed by now there was a bit of a hiccup. Yup, that’s right. I’d set the clocks back, not forward.

To make matters worse we only realised this at around midnight which was, and remember I’d already changed the clocks BACK, two o’clock in the morning.

Me is numpty. Official.

Not simple, Civic

I KNEW this would happen, in fact I should’ve publically predicted it and made it look like I had this planned all along.

Hey, wait a minute… you don’t KNOW that I didn’t have it planned. Shoot. Oh well…

Yesterday I was prattling on about how I was increasingly favouring simple, functional things and slowly weaning myself off my techno-lust. I guess it can be best summarised by the phrase “simplicity loves company”. Of course, no sooner had I posted that than I go an shoot myself in the foot. Not really of course, as I don’t have a gun (Americans may note that this is an entirely agreeable way to live your life (he said, succumbing to stereotype)). Figuratively my entire left foot is just a bloody stump.

Hmmm, from the bewildered faces in the audience I guess I’d better explain.

[wibbly wobbly back in time sequence follows]

All in all we had a quiet weekend, with some gardening on Saturday, interrupted only by a haircut and the Scotland game, and we had similar planned for Sunday. So, after an early morning run (look, 10am IS early for a Sunday!) we headed home and started pottering. A little weeding, some tidying up in the house, and doing our best to avoid the “Everyone Loves Raymond” marathon on TV as we’d already lost an hour to it over lunch.

My parents had phoned to say that they were heading to IKEA so probably wouldn’t come over (although they did in the end and we all stuffed ourselves on Chinese food), and after a while we found ourselves sitting having a coffee, discussing the back garden and generally pondering what to do next. I’d picked up a copy of AutoExpress the day before, as we will be changing the car soon, and was leafing through it when Louise suggested why not just go and have a browse round the showrooms.

Some of you can probably guess where this is heading already. Don’t spoil it for the others though..

We’d already talked over a couple of different car options, both similarly priced and spec’d, both a ‘size’ up from our current Peugeot 206, and we’d narrowed it down to either the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, or Honda Civic. Neither of us are that keen on the Focus, and as there isn’t a local Vauxhall garage we decided to head to the local Honda dealership. 15 minutes later I’m sitting in the showroom in the new Honda Civic. This, it seems, was a mistake.
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Simple is as simple does

I’m going to start this with something controversial, I do hope the following statement doesn’t shock you, so please take a moment to prepare yourself.

OK? All set? Maybe a few deep breaths first.

OK, here it is.

My new PC is fast, shiny and does lots and lots and lots of things.

Phew, that was something, wasn’t it! WOW! Everyone still with me? I realise that must have been a bit of a jolt. OK, some more deep breaths, calm calm.

[What IS all this nonsense? Get on with it! Ed]

OK, I wanna take about how my use of technology is getting simpler. Coming from a self-confessed gadget-freak, that statement wouldn’t even have been contemplated a few years ago, let alone typed, checked, edited and published!

Of course, technically speaking, it’s the software that helps me do all those lots and lots and lots of things. Over the years, and with much experimentation, I’ve slowly found good workable solutions for all my ‘tech’ needs. So much so that, increasingly, or rather DEcreasingly, I no longer spend much time searching for new applications that will help me do new ‘stuff’ on my PC preferring to, you know, actually getting things done.

I realise it’s not much of a revelation to most, if any, but it marks a change in my mindset and I thought I’d mark such a momentous occasion (for my mind is like an giant oil tanker, it takes several miles to slow down, let alone turn in another direction) by delving a little deeper. Yeah yeah, I know…

This ‘new’ way of viewing my PC means I no longer need to fight around the technological barriers I used to place in my own way. I used to download and experiment with a lot of software, trying different types of graphics apps, different email apps, browsers, 3rd party add-ons and so on and on and on.

But no longer! I’ve slimmed down (my PC), gone lean and mean and I’ve slowly begun to realise that, subconsciously, this is something that I’ve already started doing with my other ‘gadgets’.
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Feeling bookish

My new job is taking a lot of my time, and as it’s kick started my dormant professionalism, it’s also sapping my book reading time as well. Coupled with that I do seem to be on a non-fiction bent of late, I’m part way through “Make it Stick” and have just ordered some books with titles that include the words “simplicity”, “Nurnberg funnel” and “minimalism”. I blame Malcolm Gladwell.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have a teetering stack of unread books at home but they are mostly novels and I’m just not in the mood to start them.

So, whilst Louise is just discovering Dan Brown and is disappearing off to bed at 9pm so she can fit in a couple of hours of reading, I’m stuck staring at my stack (I said STACK!) and wondering what to read next. In short (but let’s face it, when have us bloggers ever bothered with ‘short’), has anyone got any book recommendations?

And yes, I know that recommending books and music for people is always tricky, but the archives can help you there. Mind you I’m currently try to suss out what the next “blink” or “tipping point” book is, and from my limited research there doesn’t seem to be another “must read” book doing the blog rounds at the moment, but feel free to prove me wrong.

DOH. What an idiot.

I’m forgetting that THE book of the moment is Shaggy Blog Stories! My copy arrived yesterday, so that’s first in the list, but after that…

Conceited

There was a fairly massive “UK blog event” last week, which culminated in the publishing of a book called Shaggy Blog Stories (you HAVE ordered your copy, haven’t you?). It was a remarkable undertaking and everyone involved should be, and has been, rightly applauded. Plaudits well earned if you ask me.

Of course, as with anything and everything, there has been a little bit of a backlash which mike has handled with his usual aplomb (I do wish he’d stop making things looks so damn easy). I guess some people always presume the worst in these situations and I think that reflects more on them than they care to realise.

Now, I should point out that I’m not in the book. Nor was I involved in the creation process. Hell, I didn’t even offer a contribution. And I’m not for a minute suggesting that I wasn’t given the opportunity to be involved, and I’m quite sure that had I offered, mike would have found some use of my ‘talents’. This post is most certainly not a “toys out of pram” moan, nor a dig against anyone who was involved.

However the simple fact is that I wasn’t, for a variety of reasons that I’ll mention in a minute, involved with this project at all. On any front.

This irks.

And I’m not sure why.
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Notes from a frazzled blogger

Alec Salmond, for it was the self-same leader of the SNP who was visiting our offices yesterday, is a man of varying sizes. I know this to be true because whilst I feel he looks taller and thinner in the flesh than he appears on-screen (the place where politicians live), a colleague thought he looked shorter and fatter. Who’d be a politician, eh?

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Budget day today. The only thing that will really have any impact on me will be the now standard rise in diesel prices. If the gap between petrol and diesel rises any further then there will be no point in owning a diesel car, the advantage of increased “miles per gallon” (kilometres per litre) will be wiped out.

I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing though, maybe I should be more concerned with the emissions side of things. Yes I’m sure I should.

Which brings me to something I was pondering as I idled alongside a big flashy sports car yesterday, namely, would I buy one?

A scenario: A lottery win or large inheritance falls in your lap. You can afford anything you desire and more. Would you still buy a luxury sports car?

If so, should you also buy several hundred acres of land and plant a sustainable forest to balance your ‘carbon footprint’? Where is the ethical line?

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And finally it’s the Spring Equinox today. Spring is poised to be sprung.

Or is it? Given the obvious effects of global warming (like many, I was scraping ice off my car this morning), shouldn’t we move the seasons accordingly. It sure as hell FEELS like it’s still winter!