Early Start

So, does this still work?

Now what?

Ah yes. Write. About me.

…sometime later…

…and I really do mean sometime later…

Happy New Year everyone. Hope 2010 is good to you all. So I’ve not blogged much recently. In fact I’ve not blogged much at all this year. I could blame Twitter as that’s where all my quick moans go now. I could also blame DigitalOutbox as that’s where my tech posts go now. I could blame the sciatica I’ve had for about the last 10 weeks which has curtailed my walks. In fact I could present a whole host of reasons that are all pretty valid and if truth be told that’s the real reason I haven’t blogged.

I’m not bored of blogging – I’m just scattered over the web instead of my focus being here on my site. Shame shame shame. I hope to change that over the next few weeks, either by actually writing more on iand.net or by making some changes to pull the content together again in amongst my infrequent blog posts. Not quite sure how yet but that’s all part of the fun, no?

So, look back and look forward. The done thing at this time of year. 2009 was an OK year I guess. Nothing stands out as being overly good or bad so things could have been worse and definitely a lot better.

Aim’s for 2009 were weight loss (another stone), start hill walking to get out and about and finally iPhone programming. Ummmmmm……………………………….shit.

Let’s get the fails out of the way. Weight loss didn’t happen. Well, it just happened. 1.5 kg over 12 months is very disappointing.

The weight loss is still good but the year has been fairly static and rising over the last 3-4 months, partly due to the aforementioned sciatica which has really got in the way of exercise. The good news is that after 6 or 7 weeks of not getting help I went to a physio who has really helped so despite my back still being very sore the pain has mostly gone from my left leg, although I’m still pretty inflexible compared to the right leg. Time is a healer hopefully alongside daily stretches to help with the problem. So no big weight loss predictions this year except to maintain if not lose a little. If that happens I’ll be a happy bunny. Saying that, I’m dreading stepping on those scales on Sunday morning.

Next fail was iPhone programming. I’ve done a little but that’s really it. Nothing to blame but me not prioritising. Will 2010 be any different. Hopefully.

Thankfully I did get one of my aim’s up and running. The hill walking has been a success although I would have liked to have done more than I managed. What was a surprise, as I had no intention to go so high so quickly, was I managed four munro’s this year. We were also pretty lucky with a couple of the walks in that the weather was superb which meant for some great photo’s. 2010 I’m aiming for at least a walk a month.

One surprise that I’ve been heavily involved in was DigitalOutbox, a tech podcast that I launched with Shakeel. We’re enjoying doing the podcasts and we’ve been joined by Chris and Henry. We are slowly growing our listener base and we’ve got some idea’s of how to take things forward in 2010. if you haven’t tried our podcast then visit the DigitalOutbox website or listen in via iTunes.

So, anything else for 2010 apart form weight, iPhone, walking and podcast? Photography. I want to get out and about and take some more photo’s over the next 12 months. A DSLR isn’t for me as it’s just too expensive and too big to carry around so I’ll make do with my little Panasonic for now. I also need to manage my time a lot better as well or else I’ll get hee-haw done this year. I’ll leave with a fav photo of mine from jut before Christmas. More like this over the next 12 months would do me nicely.

Winter Sunshine

Twitter Goes Mainstream

Over the last few weeks there’s been a noticeable change while using Twitter. Not in the service itself although it has had a few hiccups which I haven’t really seen for months. No, it’s in the people using it. Non geeks are using it. Celebrities are using it. Heck, even the British press have found out about it and are now quoting it. Great.

Well, I thought so. However I’ve read a few blog posts and tweets saying that Twitter has lost it, it’s jumped the shark, it’s time to leave, the world is ending, I don’t know how I can cope. The usual blogger faire. While you can’t stop people having their own opinions on this the bit I don’t get is Twitter, like all social networking tools, is whatever you want it to be. If you use to connect with friends then follow only them and keep away from the celebs, the news networks and the tech industry trendsetters that can be quite noisy. Don’t like someone’s tweets – unfollow them. I really don’t see what the issue is?

I follow people I know in real life, bloggers that I enjoy reading, some of ‘the celebs’ who are actually conversing on Twitter (@stephenfry, @wossy, @bobbyllew ), some of the Mac community and some of the noisy tech crowd. At the moment this is giving me a great mix of tweets and I get a lot out of Twitter. The only real dislikes I have are the spammers that are trying to build massive networks and folk who keep on tweeting about their latest blog posts. It’s called RSS!

Another aspect of Twitter that’s been discussed elsewhere is it’s news carrying worth. This week has had a few ‘popular’ news stories. The deaths of Patrick McGoohan, Ricardo Montalban (KAAAHHHHHHHHHHHNNNN was a fairly popular tweet) and then the Steve Jobs illness all exploded on Wednesday. I couldn’t believe how many people were tweeting on Steve Jobs as it broke, first questioning it, then confirming it and then adding their own comments. However those stories were nothing compared to the Hudson plane crash landing. Oh, and this picture. Taken from an iPhone of all things. Yes, the one with the crappy camera. Just shows that being in the right place at the right time is what really makes the difference. I’m a bit of a news junkie so having stories break and unfold in real time is very addictive. That picture was doing the rounds on Twitter while mainstream news sites were just breaking the story never mind showing pictures. It was the same during the Mumbai attack – Twitter and Flickr provided so much on what was really happening on the ground from people really affected. You just have to watch as people will take advantage and lie about what’s going on, making it difficult to separate fact from fiction.

The Twitter picture made the BBC 10 O’Clock news yesterday and has been blogged about too by the BBC. The real question from mainstream media is around Twitter being a reliable news source? For me it’s as reliable as any blog (so take some things with a pinch of salt) and how do you determine if mainstream media is accurate? Would you say that everything in the papers is true? The Daily Record have been using Andy Murray’s tweets as the basis for a few articles recently, quoting that Andy ‘has told the Record’ where in actual fact he’s published a tweet. No doubt the Daily Mail will turn Twitter into some sort of national threat, a place full of shady folk doing shady things. A breeding ground for sexual deviants. What, you mean it’s not? Already the press are crawling over Jonathon Ross as in a tweet he asked for a word to drop in during the Bafta’s as if it’s oh so shocking and it shouldn’t be allowed. Sigh.

Now that I’m tweeting regularly I don’t think I’ll be stopping any time soon – I enjoy it too much. It’s another tool to communicate with like IM, e-mail, blogs and forums. Just don’t believe everything you read and unfollow what you don’t like. Roll on my 1000th tweet.

Windows Live Writer

Microsoft have just launched a new blog editing tool, Windows Live Writer. This is a desktop based tool that allows anyone to post to their blog using a rich GUI driven environment that offers spell checking and easy insertion of pictures and maps.

Once downloaded you insert your user details and Live Writer will then connect to your blog and download categories, check blog type and ensure a  connection can be made. You then choose a title and start blogging. Inserting links and pictures was very easy but the key test will be the markup that is applied to the post on the real site.

One nice feature is that drafts can be saved to your website (unlike Flock) so that editing can take place at a later stage.  Web Preview is also useful as it allows you to see how you post will look once it is uploaded to your site. The tool has full undo and redo and while it is GUI driven there are only options for common tasks like font weight, bulleted and numbered lists, blockquotes, hyperlinks and images.

Multiple categories can be selected as well as options to turn off comments and trackbacks. Spell checking isn’t live and has to be run at the end of you post.

This post was written in Live Writer so the real test will be how this looks on the site. Will it handle the publication of images and also the formatting? If so then this is an OK tool for some quick blogging but no different to whats available in Flock or Performancing. I’m sure it will appeal to some users especially as there is an SDK allowing plugins to be developed for the platform but for me I’ll stick to using the WordPress GUI as I feel more in control, know it works and can apply tags and other features with ease that aren’t supported in Live Writer.

*Update* – posted with no problems. Markup looks a bit ‘iffy’ but images got to the site once I’d setup FTP properly. More difficult to edit as the text is one big blurb rather than a nicely spaced out draft post but I can see this tool becoming quite popular. Ah – just spotted categories didn’t come through properly. Still – it’s only a beta.