305/365 Stairwell

305/365 Stairwell
305/365 Stairwell by rutty is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Tonight is #NottsTest and we are having it in the Portland Building at the University of Nottingham.

This is our first time in this building, which is a bit of a maze. Several of our folks got lost in the old part of the building, which is barely connected at all to the new. There is work going on so floor B is blocked, and the only way through is on floor C. Queue lost NottsTesters.

We also had to evict some room sitters, with help from the porter.

Still, the talk was great. Andy Glover gave a fantastic talk about Stress at work and how to deal with it. He’s intending to write an eBook about it, so I will share that when it comes out.

Please be kind


“kindness” by jessica wilson {jek in the box} is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

Kindness is belittled and mocked. Kindness and concern are the milksop hobbies of the “luvvie”. Venality, aggression, parochialism and paranoia are to be revered. Disgust is also to be celebrated on the carnival float of modern sensibilities. Look at the speed with which it was deemed correct, even fashionable, to attack Brendan Cox, widow of […]

via Goddammit, you’ve got to be kind — Robinince’s Blog

Kindness is seen as some kind of weakness by some. Don’t be one of those people. Kindness is one of the most wonderful acts a person can display.

Whenever you can, please be kind.

The Declutter Bug

The Declutter Bug

My lovely wife has started her own business!

She is the most organised person I know. Over the past few years she’s enjoyed watching reality programmes based around hoarders, and she has come to realise that she wanted to help some of these folks. So, The Declutter Bug was born.

She will be fantastic at helping people organise their lives, whether it’s decluttering of a garage or office, or a total house reorganisation.

I’ve made her a website, she’s become registered with the APDO and she’s started getting clients already.

I am very, very proud of her!

Running myself into the ground

In recent weeks I have started a bit of a fitness regime. I have been feeling my age for a few years, and while I didn’t really have to put much effort into staying reasonably ‘fit’ during my youth it turns out that you start feeling tired and energy-less when you hit your forties.

This cannot stand, and so I have restarted running. This has been more difficult than I imagined.

I have never really been able to sustain any self-enforced fitness programme, so I decided to augment my enthusiasm for such a thing by buying a fitness-based smart watch. I can’t afford an Apple Watch, so I decided to buy a Fitbit Blaze. I found that I couldn’t afford that either, so I decided I’d better save up for something. Then Amazon Prime day came along and they had the Garmin Vivoactive for £60 off and I just HAD to get one.

So I did.

I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and for an infrequent runner like me it is perfect. Well, not perfect, but certainly excellent value for money for the amount of functions it provides. The low-quality screen is good enough and doesn’t drain the battery like many other watches of its type – I only really need to recharge every couple of weeks, and I’d have to recharge every night with an Apple Watch. It’s GPS accuracy is great and I’ve found it a great motivational tool to get out and run or walk.

It also provides some useful exercise information which can be shared with friends and used for keeping track of progress. Here’s my latest run.

Note that this is pretty slow, but pretty acceptable for a chap nearing 50. I’ve also linked in my existing RunKeeper and Strava accounts so that they stay in sync.

I don’t know where this is going or how much improvement I can get. I’m feeling good about it at the moment and intend to keep going. I’ve joined the gym at work and I’m starting to add in some strengthening exercises into my week. I’m just trying to keep the decrepitude away for a little bit longer, but I’d also love to just get down to running a 5k in a 5 minute KM pace. I have some way to go for that.

There are posts in this blog from previous (failed) attempts at getting more fit. I’ve already exceeded the number of continuous weeks of exercise from those attempts and I do feel a lot more motivated than in previous years. The new tech is part of that, but also the feeling of impending infirmity. I’m increasingly aware of my age and the fact that I want to enjoy a good few decades with my lovely wife and daughter. I want to live it well, not feeling like crap.

I’m going to keep it going. Yes.

#EURef

With still more than two weeks left of this EU Referendum nonsense, how does a sensible person choose which box to tick come June 23rd?

There’s so much crap to wade through before we get to any FACTS. This is the fault of the modern politician, everything has to be so binary and I don’t think anyone really has a handle on what will actually happen given either option being selected by the British electorate.

I particularly enjoyed this blog:

I have not really engaged with the referendum campaign. I feel angered that a short term political fix thought up by a bloke who can’t see more than one move ahead on the political chessboard, and which he appears never to have imagined would lead to an actual vote with actual voters expressing actual opinions […]

via Ach, to hell with it – on not engaging with the referendum — Love and Garbage – some commonplace musings

I am going to vote ‘Remain’. This is mainly because the current situation is not terrible, if somewhat imperfect, and changing to another unproven position is, well, unknown. I am in favour of free movement and being part of a larger trade area. While the EU parliament appears to be chock full of incompetent bureaucrats I have even less faith that our own government (of any stripe) could create as good a position come Brexit.

The Referendum is giving us two bad options and I think Remain is the least bad. It’s all a bit rubbish, isn’t it?

My Life In Panto

My Life In Panto

If you know me you’ll be familiar with my brass banding. I enjoy performing on stage, but generally only with an instrument on my face. I don’t like to act or song or do anything that may require me to use my voice.

So, the following ancient film is a rare thing. It’s me, on stage, during my RAF trade training at RAF Locking, all the way back in 1988. I would have been 19 when this was filmed:

I’ve included the code for it to start at the correct point, but if it starts at the beginning our course’s bit starts around the 33rd minute or so. That is ME right at the start, talking in a Yorkshire accent at a million miles an hour. I am sorry that there are no subtitles.

Thanks to Paul Harris for putting this on Youtube (whoever you are)

Comfortably Numb

I don’t have much, if anything, useful to say about the death of David Bowie. I don’t own any of his music. Not sure why; I guess I was just into other bands and artists when I was growing up and I missed his most prolific and successful period, but it is impossible to ignore his influence on many of the bands that I love (just about all the prog rock bands) and on the music industry in general. He was one of the most important figures of recent decades and a positive influence on anyone wanting to be a little bit different.

He wrote some incredible songs, and I’m feeling motivated to get hold of some of his earlier works. ‘Low’ is certainly on the list, but I shall see what I can find.

I had no idea this existed until today, but here is David Bowie singing with one of my all-time musical heroes Dave Gilmour:

There were not many like David Bowie. His was a unique voice, a chance-taker who succeeded while experimenting the crap out of his craft. His songs were very much part of rich vein of music on the radio when I was growing up. He’ll be greatly missed.

Beer

Anyone that knows me understands my view of beer; life is too short to be drinking shitty, tasteless toss. I much prefer to spend a little bit more money on the good stuff.

I don’t mind the style, country of origin or its ABV – if it’s good, I’ll drink it.

So, I was chuffed to bits to receive a rather magnificent box of real ales for Christmas. My Mum (with help from my lovely sis) chose this fantastic selection of British real ales for my Chrimble gift. There’s not a bad choice amongst them. Everything in there has been utterly delicious. One early favourite was this Camden Pale Ale.

Ale
flickr photo shared by rutty under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Other favourite along the way were the always delicious Oakham Citra (a personal fave) and Jaipur (one of the loveliest beers on the market). Tonight’s beer has been a lovely St Austell Proper Job, which is probably the tastiest Cornish Ale I’ve had.

If anyone was wondering what to get me as a gift at any point, then good beer is always a great option. Thanks Mum!

Flickr hates WordPress

During the glory days of Flickr – when it was a bit grubby around the edges but was by far the best image service on the Internet – you could post directly to your WordPress blog from Flickr itself. There was a configurable remote service that enabled direct posting, and it worked a treat. I used it a lot.

Then, as time went on, Flickr ‘improved’ its user experience for all users and removed this feature. They said it wasn’t a heavily-used aspect of the site so no-longer wished to support it. To be fair to Flickr it was a little tricky to set up, but I missed it a lot, as did a number of other Flickr users.

These days Flickr has enabled direct sharing of images to only four services: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. There is an ‘Embed’ option, and email option and a way to share using BB code (for blogs), while WordPress (the largest blogging platform on the planet) is pretty much forgotten about.

You can use a shortened URL (as provided by Flickr) in WordPress blogs. You can paste this straight into your blog post (no need for HTML) and it looks like this:

Clyffe Café

You’ll notice that there is no attribution text or other caption that you are required to provide when sharing photos under the Creative Commons. You could use the embed code but I’ve found this doesn’t really provide any benefit to WordPress usage, other than the ability to select a different size image; there are headers and footers that could be included using the embed method, but neither of these show up.

I’ve found a tool that helps a little bit with creating suitable WordPress-friendly HTML that shows both the image at a suitable size along with attribution text. This looks like this:

Clyffe Café
flickr photo shared by rutty under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

This at least shows the attribution text. I’m still working on the html side of this for now, but it’s the best solution I’ve found. There doesn’t appear to be a working Chrome extension for this same thing. WordPress at least allow the URL method, but it isn’t very configurable (from the free service at least) and does not show attribution text.

Sharing directly from Flickr would be the perfect solution, but Flickr don’t seem interested in doing so. Perhaps they have some issues working with WordPress (the company), I don’t know, but for now I can’t help but feel that Flickr isn’t providing a very good service for WordPress users. I would happily pay for the Pro Flickr service if I could blog directly (and I have paid for this in the past) but not in its current state.