Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Olympus OM-D

Lumix GF1 and Olympus OM2
I got sent one of those notes about the upcoming new Olympus camera a couple of days ago. To be truthful I've only just got around to reading it, and it was only when I noticed that the O and M in the wording had been slightly emboldened that I paid more attention.

Anyone that reads my rather occasional photography blog rashbre snapped will know I'm quite a fan of the Olympus OM SLRs, which were a range of film cameras. The original cameras were created back in the 1970s and are something of a design classic with simple controls in just the right place and a huge selection of good quality prime lenses to accompany.

I've tried fixing the OM Zuiko lenses to modern Canon bodies, with good effect and still take an Olympus OM-2 out for walks sometimes.

So the recent Olympus note is quite intriguing, although my suspicion is that the rumoured new camera will be somewhat different from the original form of the Olympus. I doubt they will use a mirror, more likely an electronic view finder and probably micro 4/3rds format, something like the Lumix GF-1 example I show in the picture above.

So ahead of any formal announcement of the new camera, I'll review a few design pointers from the original.
  1. The pyramid shaped prism area
  2. The shutter speed ring around the lens
  3. Full Frame (it was 35 mm)
  4. An aperture ring on the lenses
  5. Compatibility with the OM lens system
  6. Largely (simple) manual controls
Beyond the overly silvered-up and strangely copy-written 'artists impressions' like below, it will be interesting to see how much of this could be preserved in a commercially viable update for the 21st century? Olympus OM-D ?

Monday, 30 January 2012

update on updating the updates with more updates

HAL 9000
My PC saga continues. Luckily it's a secondary machine and it is really for a single purpose. I suppose I should come clean and admit I bought the (inexpensive) computer in a supermarket along with the weekly groceries.

Anyhow, after I'd fixed the Wi-Fi connection that didn't work on the brand new machine, I decided to load the software I'd bought the machine to use.

Actually before that, Windows asked me to tarry a while to allow it to do 32 systems updates. I decided it best to leave it overnight to burble away.

Then to load in the DVD containing the main software. A further problem. The brand new software required an update before it would work properly.

"Open the pod bay doors, Hal"

"Sorry, (Dave), I can't do that *"


Something to do with Windows 7 and x64. Then a couple more re-boots.

Then the newly uploaded software said it also needed an upgrade.

This one took a long time because it decided it needed to re-download the entire software suite from the internet. It was less than 2 GB but still took a while. Except it failed part way through the first couple of times.

I plugged the machine back into an ethernet connection and reran the download.

Another overnight process to install the new version.

Except...It said it needed to do a further upgrade. Just a small one this time.

Oh and then one more.

Another day passed.

But hooray all the bits have now been installed, plus a couple of other drivers.

Four days from purchase to first proper use.

I suspect many would have surrendered long before the end of this process.

The PC equivalent of "It just works" seems to be "It finally works" although judging from Windows 8's new 'BSOD Blue Screen of Death' error message, there's going to be an attempt to make errors look like fun. Windows 8 BSOD (allegedly)
* tangentially, have you noticed that if you ask an iPhone Siri to sing you a song it will choose "Daisy, Daisy"?

Saturday, 28 January 2012

a day on the tiles

skip Another target alongside the cycling and writing for the first part of the year is the great bathroom renovation. Today involved looking at taps and tiles. It'll take months to get everything organised with the first part of the plan involving the garage.

It'll be simply an interim storage area for the incoming bits and pieces. It wasn't that many months ago that I cleared some space, but I think I'll need even more for (a) the incoming materials and (b) the outgoing rubble.
Garmin connect

Friday, 27 January 2012

less bait and more switch?

Windows 2.03 I had a sort of flashback to ye olden days of Windows computing today.

The situation was simple enough. I'd unpacked a fresh new laptop to be used for a specific purpose and naively plugged it in to get it working.

This was straight from the carton and the only taxing thing I wanted it to do was be able to connect with the internet. I won't go into the background use here, suffice to say it wouldn't work.

"No wi-fi connection," announced the shiny Windows 7 interface.

"Silly me," I thought - "I need to press Fn 8 to switch on the Wi-fi."

But it didn't work. It said I needed to flick the hardware switch "on the surface of the computer - or underneath it" - to make the Wi-fi work.

I looked around the unit. No switch. I pressed the Fn 8 a few more times. Still nothing.

A moment of mild panic as I wondered bizarrely if this shiny new 2012 device didn't have Wi-fi included.

I read the carton and even the user instructions. Yes, of course there was Wi-fi included.

So I found an ethernet cable and plugged it in to get internet access via a direct connection instead. Yes, that worked - but is not so useful on a laptop computer, which is supposed to be portable.

Then I accessed the supplier website - and guess what - I'm not the only one with this problem. There's plenty of other people playing 'hunt the switch'. And there isn't a switch.

Then I remembered this was a Windows computer. Inevitably there would be new drivers to replace the factory installed ones.

Sure enough, I found a long set of instructions which were not for the faint-hearted. It explained I needed to download three new sets of drivers. I must make sure they are the 64 bit ones, not the 32 bit variants. Then uninstall the WLAN driver, reboot, uninstall the TVAP drivers and programs, re-boot, run a registry cleaner called CCregistry. Reinstall the replacement WLAN driver. Reinstall the dozen or so utilities included in the 175Mb download of the TVAP drivers. Reboot. Test the WLAN driver and it should all work.

It did.

I now had a Windows laptop with Wifi. Like the one I thought was in the carton I'd opened, several hours earlier.

I reminded myself that I must really, really, really want to use the particular Windows program that this PC will support. And I hope that someone re-examines the meaning of 'Plug and Play' before Windows 8 gets released. WIndows 8

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

reset


My voicemail mysteriously went wrong today. I didn't notice it initially because the visual voicemail was still working but just not adding any new messages. Then, whilst sitting on a train, I received a text from the service provider telling me that my pin number had been reset.

It's a sign of the times now that instead of automatically believing the message, I was initially wondering if it was the SMS equivalent of those fishy emails that turn up. The ones telling us about new bank accounts that have been opened in our name or 'please reset password'.

Invariably they are some kind of hoax message and fortunately most of them get filtered away.

It turned out that this text message was genuine and I needed to phone the 'Customer Care' to get things fixed.

"Did I mind losing all my voicemails as part of the reset process?"

I agreed, on the basis that I really needed it working again. They gave me a special set of codes to write down and then type into my phone and then another number to call to restart my voicemail.

I followed the instructions and am now back in business.

A casual chat to someone about it later revealed that when they had called me earlier they had accidentally pressed the speed dial on their phone for another number.

Hmm...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

cycling with a statistical edge

example stats I seem to be keeping up with my bicycling plans and have managed to avoid revising my targets downward as well. The biggest change to my original plan was to move the start of the week from Monday to Sunday for cycling.

That gives an encouragement to cycle on Sunday at the 'start' of the week, when I can get ahead of the plan. I still have a Saturday at the end for any last minute catchup miles as well.

This week, it's only Tuesday and I notice I only have 9 miles left to finish the target I set for the week.

I shall hesitate to increase the target number though, because I'm sure there are weeks when I'm away and then it can be more difficult to find the relevant slots.

garmin edge 800 To make the counting simpler, I upload the miles from the bike speedo gadget (its a Garmin Edge 800) and the system I use lets me set the targets and will monitor them for me. Actually it monitors a wild range of things well beyond those that I currently use.

I think it's better than me trying to remember to keep notes and I only have to clip the little unit onto my bike to be fully wired and counted. Ant+ Personal Area Networks are a good idea.

I discovered that the Garmin Connect system will also let me set up all kinds of other targets too, so I've been adding some such as monthly targets and moving away from just miles to other things as well. I've included some deliberately easy ones in the set too, so that I get some positive feedback and encouragement along the way. The longest ones I've set up are for the whole year, in miles and in calories.

Update : and as I've also been for a spin today, here's the 'after' from the 'before' version shown above. Those targets with 4 days and 7 days left will scroll away at the end of the week into a history section, but a new set will then appear to replace them.
stats, changed after a cycle ride
So far, so good!

Monday, 23 January 2012

shredder

shred Whilst on my little business trip on Friday I idly wondered if I'd spot a Staples store so that I could buy a new shredder. It's not the most exciting of purchases, but the playful little one I've been using only takes about five sheets at a time. It also makes a snarly noise if the sheets are not placed in exactly perpendicular orientation. It's party trick is to produce A4 sheets with sort of comb section after they have jammed and had to be reversed out.

I'm sure its telling me to be ecologically sound, and I do try to avoid printing, but sometimes there's no choice. The small machine's quirkiness means there has been a significant quantity of paper to be disposed of, which either means carrying it to the confidential waste bins in a main office or shredding tiny quantitates at a time.

So I was just pulling away from the car park after the meetings, when I saw the spire of a nearby Staples store. Right on my route.

I entered the store with its disorienting 4 metre high shelving stacked with office cleaning products and ballpoint pens. Then I noticed a spot-lit pile of boxes. I thought I could hear a choir singing. That spotlight was there just for me. It was highlighting an immense pile of industrial looking shredders just inside the store entrance.

Manager's specials.

Now I'm not quite that easily led, but when I'd googled 'shredders' a few days earlier the one I'd picked was a larger version of the one on offer.

Except this smaller one had a much lower price and only a slightly lower capacity.

In my shock at the simplicity of this retail experience, I looked around the store and also found the exact model I'd previously spotted on the internet. It was huge. I could park a car in it*. It was one of those times I knew I'd made the right decision to go look at them rather then hit 'buy' on the internet.

So I bought the smaller one. My old shredder took around 5 sheets. The new one takes 60 at a time. My entire pile of confidential waste has already gone.

But I do have rather a lot of confetti.


*okay, a toy car

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Changing Structures at Gallery@49

fears of today
Along at Gallery@49 yesterday evening to see some excellent fine art. Friend and artist Janet has a solo exhibition exploring aspects of contemporary urban society using physical structure to record the changing state of the social, political and cultural environment.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a set of seven pillars, representing aspects of society, with family, government, business, religion, education, the arts and communication. It was inspired by the civil unrest during last year.

The changing structures shown in the seven pillars and several of the other exhibits are quite sculptural and Janet describes herself as using photography as part of a mixed media practice. The work mixes photographic images with other textures and collages using many layers and textures. Another series (not in the exhibition) captures the effects of commerce in the London Underground. The inspiration for that series was the stratified effects left as a consequence of the replacement of traditional paper advertising with new electronic billboards.

Through it all there is a social commentary about the way we treat the world, the layers of experiences that, for example, may impact a simple corner of a street and an attempt to peel it back to its essence.

It's very poignant when the very gallery that is showing the work is on the crossroads of what was once a busy city centre but is now caught up in the changes as commerce and governance decide what the next stage of a cityscape development will hold.

I was fascinated by the work illustrated at the top of this post, which captures some of the ideas and narrative that Janet presents. There's a dimensionality to the work that needs to be seen on the actual work. I was staring at the piece shown, "Fears of Today" fascinated by the depth and layering of its presentation, both in terms of the depiction but also by the way it encouraged related thoughts.

Spot the Huxley text, but shiver if you feel a hand on the sleeve.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Sherlock Holmes angles and falls


The recent Sherlock Holmes TV series has a following similar to Doctor Who, with plenty of people offering theories about the "demise" of Sherlock at the end of the last episode. There's even people plotting the scene onto google maps to check the various angles.

Watson's view
My own theory is fairly simple.

Sherlock jumped but some of the Baker Street Irregulars (his street-dwelling helpers) had pulled sheets from the conveniently parked laundry truck to cushion his fall. He'd arranged for Watson to not be able to see ground level (check the google street view and you'll see what I mean). Watson's view Then some hasty rearrangement of the ground scene and he was ready to be seen by a woozy Watson. A bit of help with ambulances and documentation from Molly the friendly medical associate and he's been made to disappear.

There, the above sound suitably definite...or were there two falls (as in Reichenbach Falls - i.e. a play on the original?)

Not so sure about Moriarty, who is presumably still around as well> It would explain the rooftop Point of View shot of Holmes, although it does also emphasise his 90 degree rotation on the ground.
How such a POV?

The Triangle - The Trailer

I realise I've never posted this version of 'The Triangle' trailer.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

travel options


Thursday evening and I'm off to somewhere in the Midlands.

It's one of those occasions where I'll get 'in position' for tomorrow's meeting.

It's worth trading a late evening saunter along the motorways instead of a 5 a.m start into the early Friday traffic.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

in which the internet is greyed out

There's some new trouble at 'Mill today as we see a few big internet sites blink off the air. Wikipedia and Flickr spring to mind, with one gone dark and the other showing selectively darkened photographs. Google is running a campaign notice on its home page.

The reason is driven from new US Bills being shunted through the American system to try to protect Intellectual Property. It's supposed to be about protecting IP that is being systematically stolen, for example by cloning sites with commercial agendas. Anti piracy, which most of us would support.

Instead, in its current form, it is probably applying brakes to sensible progress and sharing of ideas and innovation. The most obvious example is the impact on social computing, the likes of facebook, twitter, blogger, flickr, wiki and so on. More controls, more monitoring and more security. Don't misunderstand that I want to have control over my personal data and access, but I don't want to prevent the evolution of new good ideas from the simple applications that mashup transport timetables or location of spare Boris-bikes in London through to the big new ways of presenting information and media online. Then there's the music applications that let people co-operate on a single work from multiple countries. Or the various ways that people can now self publish.

At one level there's the important argument about the price of freedom being eternal vigilance. The challenge is to not use such blunt instrument that it kills the spark that creates the initiatives in the first place.

And to not set up systems that ultimately get circumvented by the very organisations being targeted. A case in point is a sports streaming site which was run from a US-based .com domain. It was seized by America's Homeland Security and nowadays displays three very impressive looking badges from the Department of Justice, National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Centre and Homeland Security Investigation Special Agent.

The thing is, the site has then sidestepped the blockade in a couple of ways. One, it re-routes its operation from Spain (and a few other countries as well), secondly, it has created a variation of its name in the US market.

Now I'm not directly judging this site, but I am saying that if some sort of blanket restrictions are applied to try to stop the obvious rogues, there is a risk that the more genuinely creative and sharing processes will get caught up in it all as well.

I'm not sure how old the Internet is, but I can still remember the first time I used FTP based access, via a modem, to hook onto someone in Australia's files, as part of a sharing experiment. It was before Microsoft had an IP stack and we used to patch in something called Netmanage to get connectivity with those modems that made the weird shooshing noises when they connected.

In technology terms, it wasn't that long ago, and then, as Mosaic and Netscape evolved we started to talk about organisations using web addresses instead of street names. At the time it seemed far fetched, but of course nowadays its passé.

The innovation hasn't stopped, but any new legislation needs to be carefully thought through so that it isn't just a barrier and some kind of attempt to protect the status quo. The recent Booz Allen report on the Internet suggests it represents 3.4% of world GDP and 21% of GDP growth in mature countries over the last 5 years.

Its not about gimmicks for their own sake, but experience suggests that there's a lot more new stuff around the corner and we must be careful not to stifle its ability to surface.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

unplugged without warning

Towards Park Lane
I should have noticed the warnings as I arrived at the train station early today. Instead I was more intent on getting a ticket.

There was a line of animatedly talking people at the ticket office so I tried the machine instead.

I picked the right option from the variety of very similar sounding train ticket types and made it to the platform with a couple of minutes to spare.

Thats when I noticed the surprisingly small number of people waiting today. The rest must have known something that I didn't.

I looked towards the digital sign. Instead of showing train times and an estimate of how many minutes delay, it had another message.

"Bus service only due to overnight theft of signalling cables"

I started to plan an alternative route and then suddenly an overfull train appeared. It wasn't the correct one, but it was going in the right direction.

I decided to get on and see how far I could go before being turfed onto a bus. I was slowly moving my mindset back to that of a rail traveller.

The train was only about 20 minutes late at this point. By the time we arrived at the destination it was an hour and a half late.

Still, I had my Kindle with today's news on it to read whilst I stood in the train's corridor for around two and a half hours.

Monday, 16 January 2012

ever decreasing space

train I've been using a few main line trains to get around over the last few days. It made me decide to restart my Kindle newspaper subscription.

The previous one just stopped after I had another one of those card alerts where they phoned me to say they thought someone had been using my credit card.

That was way back in November and I think the bank might have been right on this occasion.

I agreed to let them stop the card and ordered another one but then some previously agreed payments also stopped working.

The Kindle newspaper was one and its only recently that I've noticed it again.

It's most useful when I'm travelling and only have intermittent connections because the paper downloads itself in a few seconds and is then fully available offline.

So planes and trains are the best uses.

Trains especially because the available space to read gets smaller and smaller as one approaches a busy destination.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

the glasses are not half empty

DSCF1048 Just over a dozen miles cycling today, which can count towards next weeks's targets. In theory I could also count Saturday's mileage towards next week because I ended up at 52 miles from Sunday to Saturday. I won't though. I also know my mileage is not a lot compared with the people who commute by cycle every day, but I regard it as a worthwhile increase from practically zero at this time of the year.

The wine glasses are also mainly empty, except Saturday evening when we had a pleasant meal with some very agreeable Minervois from those naked people.

But I guess my biggest achievement from the random selection of January things I wrote down was to get moving again on the novel writing. It takes a little time to get back into it and I'm having to unpick and rewrite some parts, but I do feel as if I've got the story back in my head again.

Maybe not 1,600 words per day, but certainly enough to be serious. I may just sit in the chilly sunshine and write some now.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

poached high street with sherry trifle

Tio Pepe Yesterday was the Thirteenth of January and also a Friday. Some might link those facts with the strange economic out turns we also heard about.

In the U.K. morning, one of the biggest supermarket chains reported poor results, which is the latest in a long line of faltering high street and out of town megastore downturns.

And then, by the evening, the global pools of missing money have formed deeper troughs with about nine of the European countries getting a credit down rating. Now it's not just Greece, Ireland and Portugal under inspection, but we are seeing the bigger countries like Italy, Spain and France getting a thumbs down.

All of them have been playing "who blinks first" as they hope the headlines go elsewhere.

Meanwhile the empty can continues to get kicked along the high street.

We know it's a connected world and a global economy. But that doesn't mean that everything has to look and behave the same.

These windswept high streets have been going through multiple phases across the decades. The big chains arrived. Then the multi brands (several shops with different names but all part of the same conglomerate). Then the new mall developments (which is all the same shops in many locations). Then the out of town mega-mall. Then e-shopping.

So now there's plenty of gaps in most town centres and not much unique. I know some local well-heeled areas where the little shops have come back, but its an exception.

Meanwhile the main commerce model moves to dark stores (no customers allowed inside). Instead it's internet ordered, professional shoppers pick the goods and its delivered in a van. Then the customers top up from a local shop with a few unique items.

But we've got to be careful that by doing this we don't wipe the remaining signs of uniqueness away. If I'm in Madrid I expect there to be Jerez adverts rather than just Coke and Apple.

If I'm in Stuttgart I'll expect a few Mercedes adverts but how about some Dinkelacker-Schwabenbraeu too?

It's not just about choice, it's also about personality.

Tio Pepe - Sol

Friday, 13 January 2012

slippery

Canary The mornings and evenings are still dark, although I noticed yesterday at around five in the afternoon there was still a very small hint of light and an orange edge to the sky.

The dark somehow makes getting 'in position' for early meetings that much more challenging, and from today we've the first noticeable frost of this Winter.

By this time last year we'd had the deep snow and its related mayhem, so this year seems quite pleasant by comparison, with a soft sunlight accompanying the dusting of frost.

It's also strange that only two days ago I could contemplate my outdoor cup of coffee before the meeting, but today I somehow think I will give it a miss. Lane

Thursday, 12 January 2012

we are from the sun

Sol metro, Madrid An email from an English friend in Madrid came wandering my way today. It links well with my comments a few days ago about not letting friends drop from the radar. This one was after a spectacularly long gap.

So I sent a reply and referred to some of the places I'd visited in a city that I know more from the blog posts of another.

And then a different friend's email was playfully critical of my home-made music. Their review comment translated that the music was not their cup of tea. It was too poppy, too middle of the road. This person is more avant garde in their taste. I considered this criticism a positive result, however. The original intention (as part of a curry house bet) was to make music that was mainstream.

The critique got me thinking and I decided to cut another track this evening. I wanted to take some of the same pop elements I'd used in the other music and mix them in a more electro-jazzy way. I loaded some of the loops onto a keyboard, added a midi trigger for some drums and bashed out the three minutes or so that's below. It's really only a lumpy practice track, complete with over loud fuzzy guitar, but it's an excuse to plug in a synth keyboard again.

As inspiration I wanted to call it 'Sun', faintly acknowledging all that Yes/Topographic Oceans type music, where a single track lasts 25 minutes and is named 'nous sommes du Soleil' or similar.

So my Madrid friend's email came at the right time. When I needed to think of Sun, I could instead think of Sol.

I looked quickly through my pictures from Madrid, but other than the Tio Pepe building, the only other one I could spot of Sol was the metro station.
Maybe I should add a train into the mix.


Esperando del sol (small room mix)

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

component object model strikes back when all I want to do is type

London The last day has been a bit of a blur. I had a report to finish and some fancy calculations and it took pretty much from waking up until time to go to bed.

I finished the report and did the defensive 'double save' to ensure there was more than one copy around but then as I opened it again to check, I got one of those cryptic messages. Word popped up a little extra box in which it triumphantly proclaimed "Ole!"

Or more precisely "Ole error!" - I could almost hear the castanets.

Totally unhelpful. A Spanish error between me and all my hard work.

I shut down Windows, tapped my head whilst rubbing my tummy and then located an earlier version of the saved file. Hold breath and "File Open".

Fine. I was back in business, but now have a nagging doubt that Windows will be looking for another opportunity to eat the document I've created.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

the bridges of early morning London

Westminster Bridge Early morning meetings in Central London followed by a walk across Westminster Bridge. I'd been particularly early for my session and had time for a pre-meeting latte in a coffee shop across the way.

I was the only person sitting outside at one of the pavement tables, yet it's my preference to sit outside when possible at this particular place, which has a view right across towards Downing Street.

Come to think of it, there were also only a few regular tourists blocking the main crossing at Parliament Square although this was more than compensated by the coach loads of exchange students doing visits to London Town.

They arrive in a sort of soundscape. You can hear them long before they come into proper view. Loud conversations, foreign languages, headphone music and giggling with loud shouting related to the road crossings.

Even London's loud traffic doesn't drown them.

And then, about two seconds after I took this picture, I ran into a friend crossing the bridge in the opposite direction.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Sunday, 8 January 2012

tracking mileage

I've decided I might need to compromise on my cycling objectives a little. I suppose I can make some sort of sliding scale from the dark winter months back towards the lighter finer weather.

In the last week, I've recorded three sets of mileage from different days, as follows: 16, 18.8, 20.8. It gets past the target of 40 for the week, but includes mileage on Sunday (today), which I'd rather include in next week's total. I decided its better to front load the objective rather than have the whole weekend used to claw back missed objectives.

At this stage, for week 1, I've decided to compromise and split Sunday's mileage down the middle and to use half for week 1 and the rest for week 2. Therefore Week 1= 45.2 and Week 2, so far, = 10.4. It feels better to go into a new week with something clocked up rather than all zeroes.

Of course the whole thing will also be dependent on where I am/access to bicycle/remembering to take something that helps me monitor mileage. Overall this might be a tricky objective to track.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Re-entering the Ozone layer

izotope ozone 5 For one of the events over the seasonal break I had to make a sort of mix tape of old music. We are talking about music from way back in the twentieth century here. It needed to include mainstream guitar rock music, punk and pop and I decided it would be best to produce it as a mash-up.

That's where (e.g.) Led Zeppelin is played cut to the beat of the Jackson Five - it's as easy as A,B,C etc - OK and Lady Gaga did get a look-in too.

The mix was boshed together in about half an hour on Logic Pro and then dropped onto CD, complete with a whimsical label - referred to as "Cheesy Dip 2011"(click to play ).

Of course, it became the slope to re-awakening my interest in mixing music and last weekend I found myself slipping from the bananas section in the local supermarket to the magazine racks and sliding a copy of 'Sound on Sound' into the trolley.

The magazine is full of gadgets and advertisements, but I've resisted the temptation to buy new stuff, realising that I'm probably only using about 1/10th of the technology and instruments I already have stashed away in the home office and the 'music room'.

And the iZotope Ozone 5 upgrade doesn't really count*.

* I'm sneakily getting things ready in case I decide to try FAWM (February Album Writing Month) again next month.

Friday, 6 January 2012

gateway

gateway
A quick stocktake on the various trials and tribulations associated with my Resolutions for 2012.

The various 'no wine/change food' type plans are going along okay at the moment (I didn't even eat any of the jelly babies!), although with only such a short amount of time it will be interesting to see how that runs into weekends and similar.

The linking with friends is going okay, although I'm now at risk of having a backlog of people to meet. There's been some good contacts with people I haven't seen for ages included in the mix though.

The bicycle riding hasn't really got started properly. The meter on the bike shows just 16 miles since I wrote the plan last Sunday. But I suppose technically it's still less than a week. But a long way from 40 miles.

As for the novel...I have restarted the writing of Volume 2. I need to work out some plot points next.

And for work...At the moment I've just restarted but not really steering it yet.

Still. It all feels suitably "directionally correct" with the various plans - it is fun going forward.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

jelly baby violence averted

jelly-babiesOut in the traffic jams around London.

My sat-nav had told me to go North around the M25, and I dutifully followed its instructions. I was in good time for my meeting and even found a new car park that was highly convenient.

As I opened the car door, everything blew around inside like in a comedy sketch. The full force of the wind was making itself felt having been blowing hard through the whole 100 mile journey. Still, I was only a short walk to the office, admittedly via a shop where I could buy the meeting attendees some New Year Jellybabies.

Successful meetings and then the journey back. My sat-nav still telling me to stay away from the M25's Dartford Crossing where the bridge had been closed. That ruled out clockwise on the M25.

Unfortunately, as I and my returning passenger discovered, the anti-clockwise direction was also closed part way around because of an accident. Both directions blocked.

We'd left the Jellybabies in the meeting room, so we couldn't bite off any heads.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

simply sipping soup

soup
My work email has buzzed back into life today. There's been a few days with hardly any traffic and now its back to squeezing in extra meetings tomorrow and re-arranging logistics.

I've also moved the remaining festive decorations back into their store-away boxes and the house has regained its normal composure, although I expect we'll discover a lurking Xmas decoration sometime around Easter.

Some of the resolutions I mentioned are also creaking into life. Alongside the 'less of' ones (which are relatively easy) I've got the more demanding ones around cycling (yet to start this week - gulp) and the 'contact friends' and 'novel writing'.

Strangely enough, the 'contact friends' one has been easy to set going and is surfacing some unexpected good results. We shall see. I've also picked up 'The Square' again and been working out the rest of the plot line.

Now, if I can get out on the bicycle on Friday/Saturday, then I could be on the way to starting all the main actions.

Meantime, I shall enjoy this bowl of soup.

Monday, 2 January 2012

getting back to normal

Shepherds Market
Everything is edging back to normality now.

Tomorrow I'll be taking down the tree lights ahead of the twelfth night and we'll put the remnants of the decorations back into a big cardboard box for another year.

This year the tree isn't completely blocking the doorway from one room to another, like it does some years, but we've reached the stage where walking close to it generates a small cascade of needles filling to the floor.

It's also reached the time where the fridge needs restocking with some normal items. The fancy armagnac cream and special stilton needs to make way for more day-to-day produce. Worryingly, there are still about a dozen mince pies awaiting demolition, and I'm not sure we have anyone to entice with them.

There's also only two mis-placed presents left. One is fully wrapped but in completely the wrong location and also slightly difficult to post. The other one is some kind of foaming bath thingy and I've no idea who it was destined for. It hasn't been labelled and I'm wondering if it somehow got into the decorations box last year and has made a return appearance.

I'll also be firing up the work computer tomorrow and then on Thursday I start travelling around again.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year Resolutions

P1030130
I'm something of a sceptic about New Year Resolutions. It seems strange to only pick a single day to start new goals.

But...I also heard today that people that set resolution goals are ten times more likely to achieve goals in general compared with people who don't.

Or maybe I imagined it?

So last year I managed to do a couple of things:
  • Less 25 by 8 working (thats an extreme form of 24x7) 
  • Increased cycling as a modest exercise 
  • Setting up and getting functional my own small company 
  • Some time for art
  • Continued time for blogging and similar pursuits (although it did splutter towards the end of 2011)
I didn't manage to finish the second book of the Triangle trilogy, nor learn any new tunes on the guitar or banjo.

This year I'll start a small number of goals as we start the year, as part of my ongoing blog projects.

  1. Detox post Christmas (starting today)
  2. More water and less wine (should be easy but I'm not sure I could do less coffee or tea)
  3. Cycle - er - 40 miles per week (may need to review that one and increase it)
  4. More salad and less sugar (also starting today)
  5. Create a sensible operating model for the company I've created
  6. Phase from all 'consultancy' work to more 'arty' work
  7. Link up with a few more friends that are sliding off the radar
  8. Complete 'The Square' novel

The above list is somewhat arbitrary and top of head, but can act as an initial spur. The first four items are also quick to test.

As is my way, I can also think of a few more (read a book a week/ replace the bathroom/ organise the music room/ empty the middle strip of junk from the garage), but I'd rather have a short-ish list and hit a few good ones first.

And, as a helpful cross check, here's the most popular New Year Resolutions (no particular order):
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Eat Healthy Food
  • Get a Better Education
  • Get a Better Job
  • Get Fit
  • Lose Weight
  • Manage Debt
  • Manage Stress
  • Quit Smoking
  • Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
  • Save Money
  • Take a Trip
  • Volunteer to Help Others

Hmm, too many ideas...

Happy Twenty Twelve.

midnight for 2012
Happy 2012.

As we move to saying "Twenty" in front of the year, we managed to see some of the fireworks and chink some glasses for the new year. The singing below is probably best left unlistened.

Although you can press here for an earful.

When do we start leaving the "Twenty" off and just saying the last part?