A Blog Is Like Concrete Shoes

After a while a blog becomes like a pair of concrete shoes. It weighs you down and you begin to sink. I wonder if you can get treatment for some kind of non-blogging depression? That’s what happened here. I wanted to post daily. I wanted to build that sense of personal history. But I couldn’t. It was too much so it faded.

On Monday I blew some of the cobwebs off the site and actually posted something of length that wasn’t a link to another site. I blamed the urge to write on reading The Guardian on my flight to Finland and that might be relevant but I suspect it’s also something to do with the current state of the blogs I read.

At various times on this site I have tried to avoid the term ‘blog’. I don’t really like it. Some people don’t like the word ‘moist’. It makes them feel a bit, well, ikky (is that a word?). The term ‘blog’ does the same for me but I shall have to seek therapy because these days everybody from the afore mentioned Guardian to the BBC via The Telegraph and The Economist seems to have a blog of some description. I am now embracing the word from this point on. Bloggety blog blog (see, cured).

Anyway, at last count (about 5 seconds ago) Bloglines had a feed of 124 subscriptions for my account (not all of them public). Take off the 15 I read for work (well, I subscribe then delete all the items when they get to about 100) and that’s still well over 100 things I am ‘watching’. But only a few of them are things I read. I listed some of them in 2002, although that list is dated with a good number of dead links. But few people are writing any more and those that are penning words are doing at such a rate that I have a scary back catalogue of entries to read: Steve, that includes you. So, either I have too much to read that I’m scared to wade in or I have reams of other people’s links that I don’t want to follow.

Anyway, in need of something better I decided that I should start writing once again. I once said that I only did this for my own amusement (and when I used to look at the logs I would have said that was very true) so I’ve decided to add a few more entries and see how we go but, and I bet I’ve said this before but I can’t be bothered to check, this time it will be different.

When I started this (for my own amusement, remember) I enjoyed the act of sitting down and writing. Truthfully, I am not sure I ever wrote a word that was very interesting to others (although Happy Birthday in Russian seems to keep bringing people to the site – twice) but it’s a record of my life that isn’t captured anywhere else. There’s a reason the ‘on this day’ links are at the end of every entry. I click. I find it interesting to place myself back a few years. Last Monday’s entry had four back years for that day and I was fascinated to see that I made references to Blur, traffic congestion, spam and Big Brother in the preceding years; I guess they are still topics of conversation now. And you don’t really get that sense of personal history from a list of links to other things (which become dead links by the time your nostalgic enough to check them).

After a while, however, a blog becomes like a pair of concrete shoes. It weighs you down and you begin to sink. I don’t blog about specific work or my family (hey, Dave, you’re not the only one) and sometimes I ask what am I doing it for? I wonder if you can get treatment for some kind of non-blogging depression? That’s what happened here. I wanted to post daily. I wanted to build that sense of personal history. But I couldn’t. It was too much so it faded.

And now I’m starting again. Less concerned about tracking life and probably with not much more to say but with a heightened sense of why I am doing it.

I wanted to end with a triumphant ‘read on’ but you can’t do that until I write the next piece. And who knows when that will be?

Children In Need Is Britain’s Version of Thanksgiving

Children In Need is Britain’s version of Thanksgiving. It comes around every November and it changes the television schedules (not always for the better). And that’s about where the similarities end but they say you start a piece of writing with a punchy statement to hook your audience. So, there you go. Thank me later.

I am fairly sure that the good folks in America have their very own Terry Wogan (the American version may also be a genial Irishman given the number of people from the Emerald Isle who shipped across the water) but I have no idea, and can’t pretend I care, for there really is nobody to rival Sir Terry (he is a Sir, Wikipedia told me so and – therefore – must be true).

Children In Need, of course, was last Friday night. You might have tuned in for Jonathan Ross but you got Kim and Aggie trying to clean a Status Quo dressing room. I imagine you’re over the trauma now. It’s Monday and I am whittering on about it purely because The Guardian – free on Finair flights from London Heathrow – has an item on a week in the life of a Pudsey (well, the bloke in the costume, Leeds version). As one of Wogan’s listeners would no doubt email his show, ‘what is the world coming to when Pudsey is attacked by scallies in Bradford’? Seriously, I’m turning all Daily Mail indignant about it.

It’s this sudden surge of middle-Englandness that has prompted me to pick up the quill once more. For it’s not only hoodies attacking Pudsey that got me all stirred up while reading the paper but the very notion that Dame Shirley Bassey is singing about an night on ecstasy in the current Christmas Marks and Spencer television commercial. I imagine, if I wear a legal type, I should add that Dame Shirls probably didn’t know what Pink’s ‘Get The Party Started’ was all about. And why should she? If truth be known, nor did I until I read it in, guess, today’s Guardian (really, there was nothing else to do on the plane).

Should you ever admit to liking a television commercial? I am not sure that you should but I do like the M&S ad. If you don’t know Marks and Spencer – and their place in British life – then you probably won’t get it and you could skip to the last paragraph. But it’s smart, plays nicely on the current James Bond mania and, let’s face it, must have cost a fortune (which I think is a good thing in tv advertising).

In fact, I love it so much I YouTube’d it (isn’t that what all the kids are doing these days?) Go view it. But then I found a rendition of Goldfinger by the very same Dame Shirley Bassey which is also fantastic (and is, if you believe Saturday night’s Channel Four countdown show, the most popular Bond theme of all time). Then I found Sheena Easton’s For Your Eyes Only. You know that one. Sheena was a nice girl-next-door type who sang about being a Modern Girl but then went glam singing the Bond title sequence and gazing into your eyes as you gazed at her in the cinemas of 1981. Oh, You Tube has Modern Girl too.

So, before I get hooked, I better go.

Technology Overkill?

Do I really need this box of tricks?

I’ve been reading Lifehacker for a while now. I really like the Getting Things Done (GTD) articles. Keith Robinson’s Getting to Done: How GTD made my Treo obsolete really made me thing about how I use my Treo! Mind you, I am still using the little gadget even if I do feel that I am carrying too much stuff around with me. Having all those client phone numbers when in the pub can’t be a good thing.

Who Will Be Mayor

I wonder what would happen if Jeremy Clarkson were to become Mayor of London.

Yesterday, I spoke about my liking of the BBC’s Top Gear programme. It’s odd because I would not have pegged myself as the kind of person who would watch it. Regardless, I find the three presenters funny, infuriating and very watchable. Now, I wonder what would happen if Jeremy Clarkson were to become Mayor of London. It is rumoured, you see, that his name has been suggested as a prospective Conservative candidate.

Give that the current Mayor blamed Jeremy for global warming and the possible destruction of life on earth, [The Times Online] I think it would make an interesting election indeed. Now I have a lot of time for Ken Livingstone but I can help thinking that I would like to see him as the ‘star in a reasonably priced car’. Especially as he, apparently, has no licence and can’t drive.

What’s The 20th Most Complained About Show On UK TV?

When somebody loves what they do, how can that enthusiasm not be infectious?

Occasionally you are required to browse the information super-highway for things related to work. And, more often than not, on that journey you get side tracked by something in the way. A little like driving to Abergavenny and being stuck behind a caravan for most of the time on the A40. Which is interesting as I suspect that caravan owners are the biggest group of people to complain to the BBC about Top Gear. And it is the fact that, according to Ofcom, Top Gear is the 20th most complained about show on TV that stopped me in my tracks today. The BBC has – apparently – been forced to make a statement, “We acknowledge some viewers do not appreciate the Top Gear team’s sense of humour but their provocative comments are an integral part of the programme and are not intended to be taken seriously,” [Top Gear: 0 to offensive in 6.5 seconds from Guardian Unlimited: Organ Grinder] said Auntie.

The thing is I, John Plunkett (who wrote the article for The Guardian’s website) and, I guess, millions of others love watching three blokes talking about cars on the telly. And I am not interested in cars that much. I’m not sure Jeremy Clarkson and I would get on very well (mainly because I wouldn’t be able to stop laughing at him) but that doesn’t stop me enjoying every word that he speaks. Richard Hammond is, of course, there to be both amusing and the totty to watch. And then there’s James May. You couldn’t have Top Gear without him but one of the great mysteries is why not. Ultimately, I love the banter between the presenters more than anything else. Except the bits about racing fast cars. I like that too.

I am not surprised so many people complain. It’s often rude, politically incorrect and responsible for a large part of the hole in the ozone layer. It’s also funny, self-deprectaing and addictive television. It is, also, television made with passion. And that’s what makes it stand head and shoulders above much of the dross on the box at the moment. When somebody loves what they do, how can that enthusiasm not be infectious? Sunday nights. BBC2.

Where Are My Palm Treo 650 SMS Messages?

What happens when the SMS database on your Treo 650 stops working?

You may be aware that I have been a long-time Palm user and fan of their products. Sure, like many, I have been frustrated that their development lacks the pace of some of the others in the same space and their product range is limited. But, I was a user of the Treo 600 when it was first launched in the UK and am, currently, a Treo 650 owner. They may not be the best ‘phones in the world and they’re old-school when it comes to PDA functionality these days but they more-or-less work for me. I also have a Palm Lifedrive that I don’t really use and am trying to find a sensible use for.

Having said that I am a fan I really must impress upon the product managers to work with users. It’s always the technology that lets me down. Yesterday, just before I went to Helsinki, my Treo’s SMS Message program somehow corrupted leaving me with limited access to messages. There are a few users who have posted handy hints but little official help (its the Messages Database in case you’re wondering and not the SMS Messages as some threads seem to hint). I spent a good hour trying to fix it as SMS capabilities are quite important to me when I travel (it saves on the cost of the calls).

To resolve the problem I had to completely remove the Messages Database and then we were back to normal functionality. On my journey of Palm discovery, I realised there is really no SMS back-up help. I sync my Palm daily and you would have thought that SMS and MMS messages would have been archived in the Palm Desktop. But no, they are stuck in their little databases with almost no way to get them out – and once your database is corrupted all hope is gone.

Fortunately for me, it’s not that important to keep old messages but it’s nice. This site is a reminder of things I did and I increasingly use my Palm Treo 650 photographs on Flickr as a visual reminder of what I have done. It would be nice to add a SMS/MMS timeline to that as a personal record (a little like Nokia’s Lifeblog). So, c’mon Palm: help us keep our data in multiple ways.

Some People Are Helpful

The staff of the Orange shop in Wimbledon were very helpful. Thank you.

My mobile phone developed a fault. It started a few weeks ago but has made the device unusable now. There’s an electrical noise that became so bad other people couldn’t hear me. I could hear then but they had no idea what I was saying. So, I went to talk to the people at Orange and discovered they don’t have the right phone on the insurance that I have been paying for. They said it’s my fault, I said it was their fault. Anyway, after much discussion it appeared that I could upgrade for free anyway so there’s really not that much difference.

I spent a day or two thinking about what to do. I have had a Palm Treo 600 for several years. I think I must have mentioned before that it is not a perfect telephone but it does allow me to take a whole pile of numbers and information with me when I am on the road; and that is very useful indeed. So I decided to upgrade to the Treo 650. And that is where the problems started. The Orange shop I was in said that they have been unable to source a Treo for months and the other central London outlets that I contacted said the same. Other networks now offer the Treo so I contemplated switching – which is a big deal for me because I have an irrational loyalty to Orange despite recent poor service and packages I am not convinced are great value.

Fortunately, there were some very helpful people in the Orange store in Wimbledon. In fact, I can’t recommend that shop too highly and that is the point of this post. While other shops were unhelpful, Wimbledon were fantastic. It might have helped that they actually had the phone I wanted in stock but I think it deserves notice that they were more than helpful. So, on Wednesday I walked out with a shiny new Treo 650. Let’s see what it’s like.

But What Was The Year?

No matter how many times my media player tells me JoBoxers (and their classic, Boxerbeat) is from the 2005 compilation (Teenage Kicks) I know it’s a true pop treasure from 1983 (top ten in February no less).

Oh how I despair at all those compilation cds that are gracing my cd collection. Over the years I have collected a fair few. I think it’s something to do with being a pop fan. True pop is a three and a half minute tune mimed to some falling glitter snow surrounded by Pans People and introduced by The Hairy Cornflake.

To that end, the long player was never really on my turntables as a child. Thus, my musical memories are really quite happily contained across a collection of compilations.  This is all well and good until you come to rip them all so that you can add your youth to your mp3 player. For, lo, compilation cds neither sit well on mp3 machines nor do they rip well. The artist may be in the title box while the artist is just listed as ‘various’. I can live with that (I lie, I can correct that) but I can’t stand that the dates are incorrect. No matter how many times my media player tells me JoBoxers (and their classic, Boxerbeat) is from the 2005 compilation (Teenage Kicks) I know it’s a true pop treasure from 1983 (top ten in February no less). Thus, I must spend my evenings correcting each cd as it gets ripped.

My life will be over before this project is complete. My sanity will be gone sooner. But my mp3 player will know hits of 1978 are very different from those of 2002.

Listen on Apple Music

Ten Years Of The Palm

Celebrating 10 Years of the Palm.

Ten years ago, Palm, captured the imagination of road warriors everywhere with the first Pilot connected organizer, a mighty 5.7-ounce combination of calendar, contacts, to-do lists and notes. Today, having shipped more than 34 million mobile-computing products, the company continues to improve the lives of people and businesses the world over, staying true to one guiding vision: The future of personal computing is mobile computing [Source: Palm Celebrates 10-year Anniversary of the Pilot]