Happy Easter

Happy EasterHappy easter everyone. I’ve never really celebrated easter how it should be. There’s a whole bunch of religious connotations there a little bit like christmas, but I wasn’t exactly raised with religion, although I am christened.

For me easter has always been synonymous with chocolate. Making chocolate eggs and filling them with sweets and then eating chocolate until, well, you couldn’t eat any more. I was recently asked by a Swedish friend what traditionally was eaten in England for easter and I couldn’t honestly tell them; as I said, in my mind : Easter = Chocolate.

So this time last year at easter I had a BBQ. and I have repeated that this year, so now I have a new tradition – the easter BBQ. It stands to reason any normal diet regime is on hold during the festive times.

Perfect… with chocolate and coffee in the evenings of course.

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Looking at Linux

linux penguinSo early last week i was looking at my blog site, just generally trying to figure what i want to do with this; its not the first time i have contemplated making changes – the fact is i have plenty to say but i like to keep things a bit separate – the kind of stuff i want to say to family doesn’t really apply to friends, and the stuff i want to say to close friends is different again, and then theres a whole level of stuff i want to journal just for myself. I have still been keeping a journal but it hasn’t been practical – i like to keep things together wherever i can.

My first thought was to go for SharePoint or O365 to do exactly what i want –  but it doesn’t really work out to be too cheap, and already at the beginning of the week i was considering moving things again. This is a hosted wordpress.com site – and i originally toyed with the idea of going back to the customised wordpress.org site i had and implementing the security model i had in mind with a little custom php.

Then i was talking to a good friend on Friday which kind of took me a little bit backwards in time, remembering when i tried out XOOPS and Drupal.  To cut a long story short i figured that its probably about time i reassessed those technologies – back when i looked at them in the past everything was a bit clunky.

This weekend i started looking at various Linux distributions again and it felt a bit like coming home after a long trip. Sure they all seem to have gone through significant improvements since the last time i looked at them but still the cores seem to remain the same.

I haven’t made my mind up exactly what i am going to do with all this just yet, For now, i am just seeing whats out there. It will probably be a few weeks before i make any decisions on how/if to start writing custom code again.

Being an engineer in a sales meeting

This little comedy sketch is excellent. I know many engineers that would feel this pain.

 

Information Junkies

The world is a rapidly changing place and people these days majorly suffer from information overload. It makes me feel old to say this, but when i grew up there was no internet – and computers were hardly portable. Theres a habit to attempt to multi task these days which is kind of silly – You can sit in front of the tv tinkering with an iPad and half see the movies that you are watching. I can’t help but wonder if that effects the way that people are producing movies these days. Action packed with not much storyline makes sense if you know that half of your audience will be on Facebook whilst they are watching, and that the average attention span just isn’t what it used to be. There are all kinds of methodologies out there to handle this – GTD – Getting things done is one such mechanism that i find interesting. People are taking innovative ways of keeping together all their tasks – and if you look at your task management apps these days there are literally hundreds of things we need to be doing at any given point. In years gone by we didn’t tweet, we didn’t have a smart phone to tell us what we need to do next and we didn’t have mobile phones… But you know what… we survived… and were happy. Book an hour of time in your calendar to relax and ask yourself this question – are you happy now?

Why make life complex?

Thinking

In life it is very easy to not be focused. We spend a lot of time preoccupied with how things were in the past, or concerned with how things will be in the future – which in general i have always thought to be crazy. We can’t change the past, so its pointless to dwell on it. We can change the future but only our part in it; there are always going to be surprises popping up, and they will be challenging to adapt and improvise to.

When you pause to think about it – the only thing we should really pay attention to is right now. We can appreciate it for what it is – be thankful for the life we have and armed with our experiences – when you think of the bad in the past don’t dwell on it – think that things are much better now. and when things are at the worse, remember how good things have been.
Life really can be simple. Some people chose to make it more complex than it is. Its so important to appreciate what you have in the moment, because no matter how you plan and map out your future the reality is, your whole world can change in the second – wether it be by winning the lottery or losing a wife and child.
Personally i believe in being honest with people as far as is possible. This isn’t because i am hoping to get to heaven or anything like that but its simple. Tell the truth and you don’t ever need to back-pedal or worry about being find out, you don’t need to keep track of lies, and your stress level is lower. Many people say they wish to hear the truth and not many actually do. The truth can be quite brutal at times but I’ve always believed that in the long term telling the truth is the best thing. On some occasions i may withhold the truth but lying to me is really a last resort. Ive known many people lie to others and lie to themselves because they think its easier, and in the short term it normally is – for long term peace and happiness thats simply not good thinking.
I am who i am. If people will accuse me of things that are not true then i will tend to set them straight. I don’t let people walk over me or direct negative feelings towards me. I don’t like people that i care for walk around with the wrong idea, or just accuse me of things that aren’t true. IF people think bad things about me for no good reason i need to correct it because you never know when it can come back and bite you. I am not perfect, i would rather people be annoyed with me for things i have done than fabricate things i have not.
I don’t ever hate – again this isn’t because i want to be virtuous its more because hate is a negative feeling that eats you up and causes you stress.
I tend not to worry about things. Half the time you worry about stuff that doesn’t happen, and the other half it does happen and worry has done nothing to help. So why stress? I do consider and assess risks all the time.
I look at things and tend to point out the negatives and some think because of that i am a negative person and its not true. I do communicate positive things often. if i see something negative i just want to address it and deal with it so things can be better. Ive had my fair share of negative things in life and all negative things have a positive perspective or something you can learn from them. The positive thing may not be nearly as big as the negative but i will always chose to focus on the positive, and will mull things over until i find it.
I live by rules, my own personal rules and i don’t like to break or bend them – i am my own worse critic. the only time i apply rules to others is when they do something to necessitate it. there are very few people in my life i apply rules to and its when they did something to deserve it.
Regardless of how good or bad things get, i don’t emotionally bounce from happy to sad all the time.  i stay somewhere in the middle – i am at peace – if i seem to be hard its not anger – i just apply the amount of pressure thats i think is needed  to bring life back into a perfect balance. With some people that can be a fair amount at times, but thats because i push back with the same amount of pressure i see people push at me.
I am not cruel. i have no desire to hurt anyone. i am me.

Best Effort

besteffortA couple of times in the last 6 months ive come across this term in IT – “Best Effort” – Which to me is completely contrrary to what the words actually mean and it kind of drives me nuts. I saw in a presentation a while back a set of service levels defined – Category A being urgent, critical response going to category E which was “Best Effort”. I guess what they mean is “do your hardest but it doesnt really matter if you manage to solve it or not”.

For me though if someone asks me to do my best effort, i will drop everything and focus until the task is complete to the highest standards i have. Its something to be aware of!

If someone tells me these days they will do their best effort – i am sceptical.

The history of things

Items, as well as people have a history – the T-shirt i was wearing in bed last night was brought for my by the mother of an ex -it was made in brazil, and has travelled. Sometimes i think it would be really interesting to know some of those places some of my things have been.

The best curry i ever made – i put in a packed lunch box then accidently left it on the bus! I wonder what happened to that – sure it ended up in the bin… but where? who found it? Some of the things we take for granted come from all over the place. The iPad that I am working with at the moment has components from all over the world in it – to meet mass production requirements of such a device means companies like apple has to rely on people doing long hours for minimum wage. Having lived in a third world country I can honestly say its hard to even perceive the benefits that we take for granted in countries like UK or Sweden.

On the flip side though I wonder what would happen if such things didnt exist. The minimum wage Chinese guy working on an iPad takes that job for a reason – it strikes me he/she doesn't have much choice – so in a way they are fulfilling a need. Those conditions are undoubtably terrible but what would happen if those options were not available? Would that person starve? Could China support all the people who need to live off the land? In some quarters China has been hailed as the new India and its economy is booming. I cannot help but wonder how much money is going back to the people and improving their way of life because to be honest industrialization seems to be taking its toll on Chinas landscape – if it carries on any semblance of the pre industrial era will be lost. Wealth of a country doesn't inherently tell us anything about how well it's people are treated because wealth even in communist countries is not evenly distributed to all.

Every gadget we have is made of parts which can come from many places. Every part has a history. If you start to look at it every device we own, even the clothes on our back are the results of thousands if not millions of people – in my jeans a different company probably makes the thread to the denim- that company probably uses machines with thousands of parts, each part originating from a different company, with its own people, if you follow it back further the dye used is probably made by another company – ad infinitum.

Once upon a time companies used to only sell things that they made from their own hands and in som parts of the world that still happens. Sadly the fact the world is a smaller place now we have tech like the Internet and cheap flights – to survive companies have to more and more compete in the global market place. Small shops increasingly shut down to make way for bigger ones. There's a quote in a movie Time Bandits – made by the character “Evil” – he said “god doesn't care about digital watches” and goes on to make a speech about technology. The author basically implies technology is evil, and it's an interesting point.

I love my gadgets; technology has undoubtably played a large part in how many of us live our lives. Personally I don't think it's evil – to me evil implies an intention, and technology like everything else in this world has pros and cons. Choose your evil – mine has an apple on it! :)

 

Clothing

I like to watch the world. Theres a lot going on in it, and many people out there wearing many different styles of clothes. Clothing and fashions these days seem fairly far removed from the past – the whole fashion industry is about creativity not functionality – functionality in clothing used to give different parts of the world a very distinctive style but the world is getting smaller and thanks to things like the media cultures influence each other, and collide. It isnt totally about style – guys wear trousers, girls wear skirts (forget the scottish). It probably comes from thousands of years back – bearing children in a skirt would be a lot easier than in trousers. As time goes on, social values change and girls wear less and less – or is that just a testiment to global warming? How our kids are dressed has also changed – I saw a documentary a while back where some parents were campaigning to get a high street store to stop selling mini skirts for 6 year olds – kids are being forced to grow up earlier and that's also reflected in fashion. Hell even the size of clothing in general says something about how fat and lazy we have become (though I am losing wieght !)

Clothing doesn't just keep us warm any more, it makes a statement about who we are, and how society is changing. Its interesting to take a look at clothing from the last few hundred years and to think on the question “what do those clothes say about the society and the place they come from?”

 

Appohollic!

I am a bit of an appohollic and I admit it – it's cool to browse the AppStore on the iPad and to buy new stuff even if sometimes I already have an app to do a job. 7kr to keep me out of trouble is a small price to pay. And most of what I get there does cost 7kr. I don't like buying apps over 50kr, and my average spend per month is 70kr. It's not a habit that is out of control.

Apple did well with the AppStore and with iTunes – making it so easy for people to find music and apps has definately paid off for them. I don't really use iTunes for buying paid music though – I originally kept my old mp3s in my iTunes library but now it is empty on my iPhone because surprisingly I really like spotify. I say surprisingly becuase you only rent your music there and I have never been a fan of renting anything. Spotify is cool yet I am thinking of maybe dusting off the iTunes library a bit – why?

…Becuase of Siri – Siri knows about iTunes and can play music from it – Siri can't play music from spotify. I am hoping that the Siri API is,made available and used by dev, because Siri is starting to change how I work. It can set reminders really quickly.

My only gripe is the British version of Siri only had a guys voice, silly I know. I can switch to American English but its amazing how that impaired its ability to function. I do like apple still, even though I don't agree with everything they do. But Australians out there (you know who you are) – you won't annoy me by saying your android phones are better, becuase I will say the same thing as I have been saying about this kind of tech rivalry since I was 10 (BBC vs Spectrum) – they are both good in their own right, each have their own pros and cons, so deciding what is best comes down to what your taste is, and what you want to do. It's a personal thing, I love android too, but am not such a fan of Windows phone – not because the tech is bad but in my case I don't like the Microsoft look and feel. So don't try to wind me up :) it won't work!

Three Squares at Four Squared

Four square for those who don't know enables you to check in at different places, sometimes you get discounts at stores (rarely) and it gives you points for check ins and allows you to see how many points your friends have and it ranks you and allows you to share your checkins on Facebook

Well it seems my friends are a bit competitive…! My friend (we will call him “Bruce”) was winning and just for fun I checked into a load of places that I didn't actually go to (eg from work I can check in to the pizza place next door!). Of course that led to a shaken fist and a “damn you!”

From there we were checking in everywhere we went; on the train to work we would pretty much check in at every station, but we wouldn't check in just anywhere.Enter Geoff, another friend who also checks in on four squared – and to be honest beat us both on points hands down by checking in everywhere !

Somewhere along the way because there were points involved we all lost track of the purpose of the app – to share with your friends where you are, rather to spam everyone. When checking in becomes a chore and you spend your entire trip to work looking for new places to check into you know you have gone too far!

Time to deinstall it – until I feel social again!

 

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