40

When this publishes I will officially be 40.

Woo.

Seemingly it’s all downhill from here, but when the hill’s not that big in the first place the decline is hardly noticeable. Or maybe it’s ‘life begins’? All I do know is I don’t have everything figured out yet and I still don’t feel like a grown up. Will that ever happen?

Like when I turned 30, I don’t expect much to change. I can’t see me slowing down or changing habits and I’m far more active than I was 10 years ago. It doesn’t change who I am. I’ve not given it much thought apart from realising that these milestone or event birthdays are starting to run out.

1,16,18,21,25,30,40,50,65,80,100

I’m probably missing some and 65 is changing for us ‘youngsters’ in that the expectation is I’ll work to 68 rather than the traditional retiring age of 65. Scarily still not reached the halfway point of my working life. Gulp.

Nevertheless, some big milestones have passed with less to come going forward. Probably more related to the work news last week, or maybe it’s a bit of both, but I do feel more than ever that I need a plan b. Something to mull over the coming weeks, especially as I have a four week break starting on Dec 10th. Happy days.

Onwards.

Busy Busy Busy

I’ve had quite a bit on over the past few weeks. So much so that I’m taking a week off work starting this Friday. It will be good to take a break from the day to day’s at work and focus elsewhere. Lot’s of bit’s and piece’s around the house to take care off. I also want to put in some quality time on Cocoa and iPhone development. I’ve a simple app that I hope to build over the week I’m off. More on that later.

This weekend has been mostly cleaning up around the house and also on the computers. Freed up around 40GB on the iMac in 10 minutes – just been lazy recently keeping my disks tidy. Also got Delicious Library 2 syncing well between desktop and laptop via Dropbox. I moved the Delicious Library file from /Library/Application Support/Delicious Library 2/ to my Dropbox, creating an alias in the original directory to the file in my Dropbox folder. Works a treat. Just make sure the alias is the same name as the original file. I also updated my library with my latest purchases and also published the library on iand.net rather than on MobileMe. You can see the library here.

Dropbox has been working so well for me. So much so that I won’t be renewing MobileMe this year unless it goes through a serious upgrade which I just can’t see. Dropbox is a far superior file syncing tool – and quicker. I use Busysync to keep calendars in sync. I can sync contacts via Google for free. That leaves…and e-mail address that I don’t really use? I’ve turned off push on the iPhone to save on battery life and my calendar and contacts don’t change enough to justify over the air updating. I just don’t need it. If you are interested in Dropbox this is my referral link which gets me extra disk space if you sign up.

Anyway, back on topic. One of the reasons I’ve been busy is I’ve been helping set-up a website for a friend. So if your in need of a personal trainer in the Glasgow area I highly recommend Tangerine13. I’ve spent a few years working with Caroline but she’s moving on to pursue life as a full time personal trainer so hopefully Tangerine13 will work out for her. Eagle eyed readers (i.e. those that can be arsed to visit the site) will notice a small link at the bottom of Tangerine13 to pixlcode.com. That was the name I was going to use if/when I release iPhone app’s. Long way off but thought it was worthwhile linking to it in case the web site design goes anywhere. Not something I intend to pursue but you never know.

One other thing form the weekend that really pissed me off. Some dirty swine was trying to rip off my credit card. Again. Just over two years since my bank account was emptied, this time Egg were onto it straight away. No money lost, card stopped. Attempt to use my card was in London – trying to buy some Cellnet pre-pay card. I just don’t understand where they get the details from. I do use the card a lot online but make sure it’s always a secure purchase. Then again, there’s nothing to stop a site passing on card details. Or some back room staff doing the dirty I guess. Bloody annoying and it’s put me on edge again about my finances.

Anyway. iPhone app. I’ve a few idea’s for app’s actually. The problem is so do lot’s of other people. Already two of my idea’s, which 4 weeks ago were original and didn’t exist in the app store now do. Time moves fast unlike me at the moment. Too busy. Or busy doing the wrong things. So for my first app, screen’s have been mocked up. Usage has been thought through. Functionality has been locked down to a minimum. Keeping things simple. Just need to start coding. Should be fun. If I find the time.

Balance

I like my work. I really do. It’s been a year now since moving jobs and it’s worked out well. I enjoy the variety in my job and the challenges it brings. However I’ve been doing some pretty dumb things recently and I need to make some changes.

Dilbert

Now it isn’t as drastic as the Dilbert above but recently I’ve felt like I’ve no time to myself. I’m over committing and not allowing myself enough time to complete tasks. I’m not saying no!

That’s really the issue.

I’m not saying no and over committing. To such an extent that I assume my weekends as normal work time. Sure, I can get that done by Monday knowing fine well that the task requires a full 2 days. No problem, I’ve got the weekend coming up. As I said I do like my work so at the time it makes sense. But it’s crazy. My own time for doing what I want to do has fell away in the last month. Game playing has slowed, blog updating non existent, exercise has fell away, I’ve knocked back a hill walk as I felt too tired (really I had work to do) and I’ve fell behind on a few other things I’ve supposed to have done around the house. I’ve not even got near doing any iPhone programming either.

Time to change. Time to take on tasks and set realistic time-scales and claw back some me time. Hopefully that will help the sore heads which have been more frequent in the last three weeks and also help with the weight loss which has stagnated. Not getting worse but not getting better.

This is just common sense and something I’ve been saying for a while but not actually doing so I’m posting here to act as a kick for me. To get things back in proportion. To find a balance.

Next Year

Looking back is never usually a good thing. Last year’s resolutions surrounded two main targets – lose more weight and getting more hands on with programming. Well, one out of two ain’t bad.

A picture saves a thousand words:

Weight Loss 2008

After my last weight update I wanted to lose five stones in total. Unfortunately I didn’t make that target. Since Sep 07 I’ve lost four stones and 13 pounds. One lousy pound short of my target. Grrrrrrr. Never mind, I’m pretty pleased with the weight I’ve lost and I’ve done better than I thought I would when I started back in 07. I’ve not done the same amount of exercise in the later half of 08 as I did in the first six months but something that’s obvious to me (and everyone else!) is that without further diet changes I will put the weight back on slowly but surely which is obviously not what I want to do.

So the year ahead will see some more work on the weight and another target – get another stone off. That will take me down to around 13 and a half stones which I think is good for my height/frame and make a total loss of six stones from when I started in Sept 07. BMI will still be higher than recommended but that’s a guide only and not something I’m going to treat as a hard and fast target.

I’m also taking up hill walking. Got most of the gear now (waterproofs to buy – maybe I don’t need them for hill walking in Scotland ;-)) and first proper walk should be in the next four weeks or so with one taking place each month. Should also help with another thing I need to work on – taking more photographs. I know what I need to do but like most peoples resolutions that’s not the issue – it’s getting my ass in gear – that’s the issue.

Last year also had a ‘must get into programming more’ statement. That worked, not! Don’t know how yet but I want to set aside some time, regular time at that, to program for the iPhone.

Written down it all looks pretty simple. Happy new year folks! Hope you have a good 2009.

Misc.

Some quick updates, all misc.

  • Unlucky St Johnstone. Watching the game as a whole you couldn’t tell who was the first division team. In fact Rangers were shocking and it was St Johnstone who showed more ingenuity and had good spells of possession. I fear that tiredness and injuries are finally catching up with Rangers and i have the genuine ‘The Fear’ for the remainder of the season. Thank goodness we’ve at least won something this season already.
  • Tempted to buy a Wii. The urge to play Mario Kart is strong despite some of the iffy reviews. However, I’ve put it off this long and I’m still expecting (really desperately hoping) that a 3G iPhone will drop in June which will need funds. And GTA IV is next week. So I really shouldn’t. If only I didn’t have that urge.
  • While on the topic, how good does GTA IV look? Bloody amazing! Watched all the trailers again and I just can’t wait. Spent the weekend listening to Vice City and San Andreas soundtracks – class.
  • Not class is Konami. Metal Gear online beta was due to launch today. Firstly the download took a few hours on Thursday. Then as soon as you launch t it requires another 400Meg download which took a very long time and couldn’t be downloaded in the background. Now you need a Konami ID and a Game ID to play the game….which doesn’t work. And their website is virtually unusable. WTF? Why they wanted to use their own ID’s to play the game baffles me and also shows the lack of cohesion throughout the PS3. Shame. Hopefully when the beta finally gets moving later this week the game actually plays well…although Pro Evo online is hardly a good advert of what they can achieve online.
  • Alex Salmond. Honestly. Why are you such a smug git?
  • Fuel shortage? Panic buying? Doesn’t really take much to get people into a frenzy these days. It’s time we relied less on petrol, cars etc. I’ll fill up tomorrow though, just because I really don’t have any fuel left. The price at the moment is shocking too.
  • New BBC idents – very nice but how long has it taken to get to this point and how much money did it cost?
  • Job still going well. Time still flies, it all still feels new.
  • Radiohead tickets arrived. Just over two months until the concert at Glasgow Green. Cannot wait for that one.
  • Weight loss still progressing although rate of weight loss has slowed. Still, can’t complain really although clothes are starting to look baggy so shopping trip required soon.
  • Speaking of job there is one downside. There’s a right old moany bastard that sits close by three days a week. Tue-Thurs. Thank goodness for iPod and also being busy as it keeps me focussed. That guy just sucks the life out of anything in the vicinity. Annoys me even as I write this.
  • I’ve got a week off soon – first holidays of the year. Lot’s of jobs around the house so hopefully the weather gets a bit better.
  • The back lawn we put down last year looks pooh at the moment. Lot’s of moss and what looks like lots of weeds. Sigh. It’s at times like these concrete and chuckies sound like a great idea.
  • Still got some old drafts to post here. Onkyo 705 thoughts and also how GT5 plays. Don’t know if I’ll finish them off or not.
  • Mum’s birthday at the weekend and I’ve got no clue what to buy her. Wonder if she’d like a Wii?

It's Been a While

Not posted much recently. A horrible man flu bug has got in the way of things recently but feeling better now. It got in the way so much that my new amp has been here a week now and it’s still not out the box. I picked up an Onkyo 705 to take advantage of the new audio formats now on offer. Looking forward to setting it up this weekend.

Thats assuming I’ve not been blown away – the wind has been pretty bad over the last few days. Just some snow to look forward to now. Joy!

Two weeks left before I start my new job. Can’t wait. Starting to pick up new work already and it’s looking sufficiently different, exciting, new and that’s before I start. Will be coding again when I move jobs and I’ve started to mess around with APEX in my own time – pretty powerful package and you can get a lot done with very little effort, or so it seems.

Weight loss continuing at an OK pace. Lost the Christmas gains and creeping towards 2.5 stones lost since last September. Back on to the badminton also although the calf is tightening every time I play. Not good.

Trying MarsEdit, loving CSSEdit, wondering why I didn’t use 1Passwd sooner, resisting the iPhone with it’s new tariff’s although now that I’m contract free I’m finding it more difficult than ever to resist.

Loving seeing Tory Derek Conway getting caught with his nose in the trough. I can’t understand why we can’t sack MP’s who are obviously abusing the system.

Anyway, another gale’s whipping up. Time for bed (not sleep – got the whistling wind to listen to).

Random Stuff

  • Picked up a new router as the old Linksys was starting to misbehave with Xbox Live. The D-Link DIR-655 has performed admirably since purchase with no issues to report. The wireless N has also increased speed for the laptop and has a far better range than the G Linksys. Gigabit ethernet has also increased speeds from the NAS and web sites and downloads are also a lot snappier. A great purchase!
  • Turned 34 last week. Getting old. Fast.
  • Spaces on the laptop works really well.
  • Still not bought an iPhone 🙂 Getting over the initial urge is the biggest hurdle on holding off for version 2. Christmas is next followed by official app’s in Feb.
  • Leopard is performing well although there are a few niggles here and there like images not dismounting or Finder taking a while to refresh. Nothing big really.
  • Four shopping weekends to Christmas – not got a clue what to get.
  • Weight loss still progressing well. I’ll do a proper progress post later in the year.
  • Some job changes at work are in progress. Hopefully. Maybe. Probably.
  • If you miss OS X hierarchical folders then OldFolder is for you.
  • The new Worpdress plugin update feature is great. Makes managing plugins a lot easier than it used to be.
  • Shut down Forza Leagues this weekend. We put a lot of effort into it but unfortunately the game and the small community let us down really. It still niggles just how much people demanded from the site and the admin team but put little back in themselves. It’s the first time I helped to run a community site and it’s an experience I don’t fancy repeating soon. Once bitten.
  • Still got a really nasty cold. Tiredness now gone but the snot hasn’t.
  • COD4 is the new Halo 2. The abuse and shouting before a game is tiring. If the dev’s could have picked up one thing from the beta or Halo 3 it should have been a quick method of muting and no way of hearing the other team until AFTER the match. Still, it’s a great game and the upcoming patch should address the small issues the game currently has.
  • OmniFocus now available. Looks nice and integrates well with iCal and Mail. Need to see how it stacks up against iGTD which is free and includes .Mac syncing.
  • Car passed it’s MOT with little trouble. I’ve had the Focus for six years now. While I’d like a new car, I don’t really need one so I’ll have it for a while yet I’d imagine.
  • Only four more weeks at work before I stop for Christmas break….and three weeks off. Bliss.

Small Things

Lots of little things going on at the moment, best summarised with a list. Yep – not in a posting mood at the moment.

  • Glasses finally (I hope) sorted. New right lens has made a big difference.
  • Few days off work which is great – really need some time away from it.
  • No big plans though – jobs round house mostly.
  • K2 and WordPress updates have made things a bit nippier round here.
  • Tidy up of blog also – removed some redundant pages/features.
  • Ordered some new kit…NAS & USB drive to finally get my data and backup issues sorted. I’ll post results once gear is here and up and running.
  • I hate wasps!

Why Blog?

I caught the tail end of BBC Breakfast this morning and they were discussing blogs. What are they, why do people do it, how it’s a fad with the average blog lasting four weeks and then the ultimate comparison – it reminds the presenter of CB radio a few years ago. While I thought the piece was biased towards the technically ignorant (non geeks) it did get me thinking – why do I do it?

It’s certainly not because I think I’m a journalist – far from it, although the fact that many sites think blogs are replacing news agency’s has got the traditional news sites in a bit of a tizzy. BBC themselves are running a survey on blogs and journalism that is showing just under a quarter believe that blogging is journalism. BBC nail their colours to the mast stating the findings of another survey cut through ‘blog hype’. The hype is really from mainstream media so it’s good to see them dismiss their own reports. While I’ve drifted onto this, an example of two cracking sites that have highlighted issues on the middle east crisis that I would have missed if it hadn’t been for blogs. Firstly, Kottke posted an image from the Independent that summed up world opinion in an instant (reposted below).

Independent - 21/07/06

Secondly, this site has been keeping a Google Earth kmz file up to date with positions of all the atrocities in the current crisis alongside media cuttings of what happened.

Middle East Crisis via Google Earth

Anyway – back on topic. I don’t blog to get readers either (just as well). I am interested in people who do visit and where they came from (thank you Mint) but I’m not motivated by how many 100’s visit, employing search engine optimisation techniques or indeed getting loads of good page rankings and then adopting some Google ad’s – just not me.

The first reason I started was down to having a ‘can I do a blog’ niggle. It lasted a while before I eventually got up and running. I eased into geek ramblings and non personal postings as it was easier and to this day the blog is still very impersonal. I also had a feeling of giving something back. I’ve learned so much from reading other blogs whether it be personal experiences, tech opinions or just ramblings that make my day a little easier to get through and from time to time I might offer something that someone might gain from.

The second reason was to have some sort of journal that I could look back on. It’s not turned out the way I wanted but I do have around three years worth of postings, links and comments that I do occasionally look back on. Ideally it would have been more personal and also had some work related ramblings but that isn’t worth the hassle it could potentially cause.

There have been downsides. A feeling of ‘I have to post’ has got me a few times as well as ‘time to shut this down’. I’ve also received a few nasty comments especially during this years World Cup…the English really do have a problem with people not supporting them especially Joe who’s worthy contribution was ‘Die you Scottish Prick’. Nice. I do edit crap like that out of my blog as I just don’t want to read that again in a few years time.

All those are outweighed by the genuine people who do frequent, the occasional really nice comments and mails that are left, the invites to closed beta’s (Diigo being the latest and also one of the more impressive apps I’ve used recently. Turbo charged bookmarking and social commenting and if you want an invite I do have some at my disposal – full write up soon.) and the ability to keep in touch with real world friends through postings, pictures and comments. Nice. It’s also fun…usually. So it’s two fingers to those who sneer at blogs in general – this is one that won’t be disappearing.

Neither will blogging disappear. A blog allows a person to become their own media mogul, linking to anyone in the world (if they choose to) and allowing anyone worldwide to read their posts. Who would have thought years ago that from your own home you could post real time news, have people easily find the content, have discussions raging that are in your control, easily link to your own photo’s of the story, allow people to listen to your own podcast and broadcast video even if it is only through a webcam. Empowerment is a wonderful gift. In the right hands it can have a massive impact. In the wrong it can be dreadful. Instead visit 9rules to see some of the better blogs available for your consumption and see what empowerment really can deliver.