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December 31, 2011 at 5:52 pm by Angela

It is currently 29/04/2012. I migrated my blog to wordpress a couple of weeks ago and in doing so had to migrate all of my posts. It got me flicking through a few to check the integrity of them. Whilst doing that yesterday I noticed that my original summary had been over-written by the subsequent blog post. I cannot recall this happening and can only put it down to a coding defect in my original blog (proves the benefit of moving!). Sadly I have not got anything containing the original. So I have pieced together a simple picture summary from my original photos. Not quite the same, but hey-ho. Enough to enjoy in years to come!

Continue reading…

December 28, 2011 at 10:17 pm by Angela

So, after waiting for what felt like weeks (and was actually weeks) for the Friday 23 December to arrive (signalling the end of work for the Christmas break) Christmas has gone by in the blink of an eye. Now, we still have until January 3rd off work, but time off always goes quicker than time at work (except when there is a deadline looming!). I know there are plenty of reasons people have given for this cruel trick of nature, but explanations aside, it’s still rubbish! However, there are still plenty of days to go until the dreaded return to work* and plenty of fun to be had!

So, without looking forward (because my summary of the year and New Years thoughts are due in the coming days), I shall reflect back on Christmas 2011. This year, there was no big present that I wanted but I got some cool little things: some L’Occitane goodies, an amber bracelet, ‘The Accidental Adventurer’ by Ben Fogle, a book on the Ancient Egyptians (a grown-up one but still with sufficient pictures!), the latest (and final) Harry Potter film and a recipe book for Whoopie Pies, amongst other things. But the coolest gadget I have seen this Christmas is one that my Mum got my Dad:

The iCade: iCade + iPad = old School Atari fun

The iCade is a console which you put your iPad in and, with a special application, some purchased games and a bit of bluetooth config, it becomes a miniature arcade machine full of Atari games. Eeek! Much excitement. It really is a blast to the past, especially after a failed attempt to re-connect the SNES. SNES emulators are now being investigated…

*I would like to be clear that I have no objection to going back to work because of my job – I like what I do for the most part and the people that I work with. My complaint is with going back to work ‘in general’ because it’s a times like these that we all dream the dream of just having money to do as we would please 😉

December 21, 2011 at 6:11 pm by Angela

I have been commuting for many years and there are many stereotypical grumbles which bother me day to day. On the flip side, I also have a very methodical and structure way to life – if I agree with a set of rules or a certain structure, I won’t lie, I tend to conform quite easily. What I do if I don’t agree really varies on a case-by-case basis but that isn’t something I shall delve in to. So, back to the topic in hand, I have, for most of my life, applied Highway Code-type rules to many aspects of my ‘moving’ around, especially commuting and walking around busy tube stations and along busy streets.

Typically, on the underground, the rule is Keep Left. You usually find the slowest people keep to the far left and it cascades out to the centre in speed order, much like a human motorway if you will. This kind of unspoken but natural balance pleases my mathematical brain. So when I have to ‘pull out’ in to the other carriageway to over take a slow person in the middle, I get quite enraged. One could even liken certain types or traveller to different kinds of vehicle, such as someone with those irritating wheels suitcases that they forget is there could be compared with a caravan or a small trailer, namely, they should stay in the slow or middle lanes. This option presents so many options: painted lanes, traffic lights at intersections with other tunnels. The possibilities are endless. But I suppose if we did that, we’d need commuting police because don’t even get me started on the frustrating people who dare to go the wrong way down the slow lane…!

Hmm, this idea might need a bit more work.

December 18, 2011 at 4:29 pm by Angela

It keeps trying to snow today, in fact it did snow for a while earlier. It has also been sunny and it has also poured it down with rain. Most changeable. Of course, it is now dark – something which surprised me a bit more than it should when I turned round just now (it was light the last time I looked)! One thing it has consistently been throughout the day though is cold.

I shall not complain too much because it was certainly colder this time last year. It has been quite rare for it to drop below 0 this winter so far. In true form, it did yesterday morning in time for the Broxbourne Club Head – every year the conditions have to be truly unpleasant as if there is an un-written rule! As seems to be becoming a trend, I didn’t make it again. The last two years it has been due to the weather, this year it was due to the head bashing I mentioned in my previous blog post. I can confirm at this time that it was mild concussion and not only did I have to leave work early on Friday, but both a doctor and paramedic (the latter a friend) advised rest and a recommended avoidance of rowing for a few days lest I hit myself with a rigger.

So, I have had two long sleeps this weekend and feel much improved on them, ready for the final week of work before the big ‘Christmas Day’. I cannot believe it’s that time already. However, I am going to enjoy the rest of Sunday first with Sherlock Holmes, dinner and possibly a nice hot bath. Oh, and a spot of ironing, but not everything can be fun and games!

December 15, 2011 at 9:03 pm by Angela

So, I am quite tall – 6ft when I leap (or often crawl) out of bed in the mornings. I was working in one of our (my companies’) stores today – we have to do a couple of days every Christmas, peak trade and all. Anyway, I was in the Audio & TV department and I had a really good day selling laptops, iPads, iPods, Kindles, etc. I left just after 5 feeling really quite buzzing and went to get my coat. As I was walking out, the day came to a crashing halt – I hit my head on a low door frame…really quite hard. Ouch! I won’t lie, it hurt. So, whilst people often think it is great to be tall, this kind of incident happens to tall people more than one would expect. You pay a price for height and sometimes it’s quite high. Thought I should share this. Early night for me…and some very careful hair brushing for the next couple of days!

December 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm by Angela

Anyone who knows me will know I am a tea lover. But I am quite fussy about what tea I drink – it typically must have milk and, as such, is usually black tea. I have a number of friends who are tea ‘connoisseurs’, but I have never been one for having a range of fancy teas. For the most part, I like to drink a decent ‘Red Label’ tea which is the standard tea one can buy from any supermarket. However, I am partial to a bit of Assam, so I decided to get some loose leaf Assam from Whittard. On the back of the box, it had a quotation:

Wouldn’t it be dreadful to live in a country where they didn’t drink tea?” – Noel Coward

I quite liked that!

December 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm by Angela

The other night, the BBC aired an ‘interview’ with Mark Zuckerburg about Facebook and how it came to be. Many of us will have seen the cinematic portrayal of the tale, The Social Network, some of which will be based in fact and the rest in, if not fiction, then on a very twisted truth. I certainly don’t want to debate that here in this post, rather it was some of the content of the documentary which got me thinking about the security aspects of social media – something which has bugged me for quite a long time and is probably one of the key things from taking that final step in to a full social media world.

One of Mark Z’s key ‘philosophies’ is that social media is a way to give people a voice and the freedom to share and say what they want. To this end, within Facebook, functions are built to support that; what this means in practical terms is that where security or privacy settings are available, they will default to the most public option. Now, it is possible to change this in your global settings (I have changed mine to default to ‘Friends’ for example) and you can then customise further for each individual post, picture, etc. But the fact is, how aware is Joe Public about this?

In the world before social media (yes, I know it is tough but if we really cast our minds back, we can catch a glimpse of that antiquated time), the only way we could share our personal data was through letters, emails, phone calls and text messages. If someone, even if it was someone we knew, had snooped around our inbox, or rifled through our email, we would have got a bit disgruntled. Similarly, if I had left a letter on the train, I would be suitably annoyed that anybody and everybody could see my name and address. So, why is Facebook any different? I’m not talking about random “I wish it were Friday” or “More rain :(” type posts, but the other personal details we share on our profile. I cannot help but feel that you either have to know exactly who it is looking at your data, or that data should not be there. Okay, so perhaps you trust everyone on your friend list and you have your profile ‘locked down’ to friends only. But let me then ask, do you trust every single one of those ‘friends’ to not lend someone else their phone? Or remember to log-out when on a public computer? I know I certainly wouldn’t!

Now, please let be clarify, I am not against social media and whilst at times Facebook annoys me, it helps me keep in touch with the day-to-day lives of far-away friends. I am also an ardent Twitter user, as many of my blog readers will know. But I just feel it pays to be cautious – sharing with the world does not mean you have to put your mobile number AND address AND date of birth all on your profile. It does not mean you have to share all the ins-and-outs of your holiday plans (dates, times, flight details, alarm codes) with all-and-sundry. Yes, I will put my hands-up, I am rather paranoid. But, whilst I may take it to extremes, it doesn’t hurt to be a bit more cautious. Rant over 😉

December 4, 2011 at 6:31 pm by Angela

For the observant / film buffs amongst you, you will recognise that as a line from the infamous Toy Story 3. Poor Buzz has been switched to Spanish Mode and for a few precious minutes, some of my most favourite moments in film history take place. His questioning about the whereabouts of his spaceship, followed by his exclaim “¡El Vaquero!” when Jessie is over-joyed to see Woody just make me chuckle and want to jump on board a plane to a Spanish speaking land! This post really serves no purpose other than to share than and remind you all how awesome this film really is! If you haven’t seen it, then really do so. If you have, perhaps time to root it out and watch it again?!

Y ahora, en serio, ¿has visto a mi nave espacial?

December 2, 2011 at 6:26 pm by Angela

Today I took part in an interview to find out my digital persona as part of a Digital Strategy Roadmap project for my the company my friend works for. The purpose was to, ultimately, create a set of general digital personas (explained here on Wikipedia) which will support their online approach in the future. Anyway, aside from the fact that I got to chat about all my favourite techie things for 45 mins, I also got a few interesting pointers to new websites from the interviewer. So, whilst only haven taken a brief look at them so far, I thought I would share them. Enjoy!

  • Jolicloud: A content aggregator to bring all of your social media in to one place. It seems to still be in beta, so I suspect more facets will be added as it grows and moves in to alpha. So far, there are options to set-up your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and Picasa feeds. You need to wait for your account to be authorised before getting any further than just registering your details. Sadly, at this moment in time, I am still waiting for that email so cannot feedback further on this!;
  • Slideshare: This is really quite awesome – it’s an online repository on presentations and slide decks about anything and everything. My interviewer was interested that I had never heard of this because I was the second person from the UK today to have said that. So, seems this is perhaps a big things in the States which is only just starting to filter in to the British sphere of awareness. I have done a few random searches and the number of presentations coming back is astonishing thing. From my brief interaction, this could prove to be a source of much information. Of course, as with most things on the web, these are written by normal people so there will be some inaccuracies and exaggerations, but this is one to investigate further I think;
  • Yammer: Essentially, this is a ‘Facebook’ for internal business use. I have actually heard mention of this before but have never really looked in to it. Now understanding the concept, I think someone in my company may have started to set one of these up. Since I am not at work, I cannot try this because you need to authorise a legitimate company address so I need access to my work email. However, in such a fast-pace world, there is something sensible about having a social media experience for the office. In fact, it brings to mind a BBC article I read around the subject earlier this week. Whilst I don’t believe email is going anywhere, I do believe social media will start to play a key part in the corporate world as communication because harder and audiences get bigger. I shall be looking at this more on Monday;
  • Echofon: I have barely looked at this one, but if it does what my interviewer told me, then I think I could be a fan. As I work across multiple devices (phone, home laptop, work laptop), I am always going to different apps to see my Twitter feed. However, the app on my phone does not do anything to tell the app on my Mac where I had last browsed to. So, if I don’t go on my Mac for a few days, I have to scroll through days of tweets to get to where I want to be. This app, can apparently help. I shall read in to this more and give a go if I am happy with it!
December 1, 2011 at 9:15 pm by Angela

One aspect of my personality I can never avoid is the fact I become quite ‘addicted’ to things. I don’t mean that in a very bad alcohol / drug sense, rather that when I get in to something, I tend to get a bit hooked on it. Most recently, it’s work: I start getting in to things and despite the stress I sometimes feel, there is a part of me which still wants to keep going when I get home – it’s more the feeling of getting things done often rather than the work itself. (I would like to add here that I don’t keep going when I get home – the company I work for is not that kind of company and I still have some will power!) Other times it is rowing that reels me in – once I get in to my training, I want to keep training harder and harder to see what I can achieve. These are just two examples (cooking more, keeping the house neater, doing more DIY, practising my Spanish more and seeing friends and family more often are others) and the problem is, it isn’t possibly to do all of these things to the extent I want all at the same time. It’s not even possible to do more than two or three of them! The more I train, the more I need to sleep so the less I can work and see family, or the more I work the less time I have to train – vicious circles!

So, it got me thinking about the people I know and I think these obsessive and compulsive personalities are more common than we might realise. I look at so many people at work who are driven to work more and accomplish more. Then I look at the people I know at rowing, many of whom train 5 – 6 times a week as well as having jobs and families. The thing is, how many people do it because they want to, or because they feel compelled to. What I mean by that is, how many people work longer hours and often in the evenings because they genuinely take pleasure from it. Or is it because they want to be seen to accomplish more? How many people at rowing train more and more because, even though they will never get where they desire to be, they just daren’t see their name slip down a score list. Neither of these things are bad, if you do them for the right reasons, but sometimes I fear people don’t.

Knowing what I am like, as I get older (and hopefully slightly wiser) I try to keep myself in check. When I am on top of everything, I work as hard as I like, I train as hard as I like and I do whatever else I want / need to do. But, when it starts getting on top of me, I often find myself continuing at the same pace because it’s what I expect of myself and believe people expect of me. Perhaps that is true, but if you already push yourself quite hard, there is always some room for slack. So, when times get tough and I feel like the ‘addiction’ is turning sour, I drag myself home or let myself have a night off training. Because, quite honestly, there is enough in life to cause you stress without piling more on yourself! With that in mind, tomorrow I have a day off to, quite frankly, do whatever on earth I want!

Hello, I'm Angela. I'm Mum to two small people (3 & 0). I'm a Techie, Gardener, cake lover and tea addict. I also have far too many opinions...hence the blog. You can read more about me here. You can also follow me on Twitter so you never miss a post. Hope you enjoy reading!

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