Category Archives: week notes

Week Notes 3

Blogging

I wrote a piece about the ECHR and Christianity. The kind of thing this blog used to be about all the time.

Health

My weight is still stalled at around 14 stone. I lost a bit last week but then put it back on again over the last couple of days. I know exactly what the problem is – I’m not exercising enough. But the weather isn’t exactly conducive to the kind of long walks I was going last year.

I’ve signed up to Patient.co.uk’s MyHealth programme in the hope that it will galvanise me into doing something.

In other news, I was at a gig last week and realised that I could see the act a lot better with my glasses on. These are the glasses that are supposed to be for reading a working on a computer – not for looking at a singer fifteen metres away. I guess it’s time to have another eye test. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up wearing glasses most of the time.

Training & Speaking

Lots of training courses looming. Not much going to prepare for them. Must pull my finger out and do something about that.

Gigs

I saw Sinéad O’Connor at the LSO St. Lukes. She was great. I’m already booked to see her again in March.

TV

Started to watch Utopia. That’s all very confusing. But it looks like it will be interesting. We’re also watching Roots for the first time for over thirty years. I had no idea that LeVar Burton played Kunta Kinte.

Photography

I started uploading photos from our South African holiday. It’s the first time that I had really used the Nikon D90 that I bought eighteen months ago. I’m pleased with the results. I should really spend more time taking photos.

Week Notes 2

Blogging

A review of the gigs I saw last year. And a new classic album post.

Health

Weight is slowly coming down. Annoyingly, it has stuck as 14 stone for the last two days. Need to start doing more exercise.

Speaking and Training

Haven’t done enough to prepare for all the training that is coming up in February. Perhaps I’ll do something about that later today.

I submitted a couple of talks to YAPC::Europe, a Perl conference that will be in Kiev in August. One of them has already been accepted.

Technology

I bought a Raspberry Pi. The plan is to run XBMC on it. Hope to get round to setting it up over the next couple of weeks.

Gigs

I saw Caravan on Tuesday. I’ve never listened to Caravan but they’ve always seemed to be the kind of band I should listen to. They were good, but I haven’t been inspired enough to track down loads of their material.

While I was watching them I couldn’t shake the idea that they were a banded formed by bank managers and retired policemen.

Films

I saw Life of Pi last weekend. I enjoyed it a lot. I read the book many years ago, but I had forgotten most of the details. It was the first time I’d seen a film in 3D when the 3D effects didn’t seem completely pointless.

Then last night we watched Cemetery Junction. I’d been meaning to see that since it came out. It was ok, but there was nothing really there that we haven’t seen dozens of times before.

Week Notes 1

Let’s start the year as we mean to go on and get the first week notes post of 2013 out of the way.

Blogging

Yesterday I wrote a brief review of the year and started to catch up on classic albums. Other than that I haven’t written anything for three weeks.

Health

As expected, I put on a bit of weight on holiday and ended the year about half a stone heavier than the lightest point I reached in 2012. But it’s now a new year and I’m galvanised to repeat last year’s success.

Currently that involves being careful about what I eat. I haven’t galvanised myself into any exercise yet. I’ll probably walk to the cinema and back later today.

Speaking & Training

Lots coming up on the training front. It’s just over a month to Perl School 4 and I need to write that course. I also need to look at the marketing as I haven’t sold many tickets yet.

Then, soon after that is the two public Perl courses I’m running for FlossUK.

Dates for YAPC Europe have been announced and I’d be surprised if I don’t speak at that. It’s August 12-14th and this year it’s in Kiev.

Holiday

Did I mention I’ve been on holiday? We spent Christmas and New Year in South Africa. We had a great time. Photos and more detailed blog posts will hopefully turn up over the next few weeks.

Year Notes 2012

2012 was the first year that I tried writing weekly (although they often turned out to be fortnightly) “week notes” posts. This is a summary of what happened during the year.

Blogging

I’ve been a disastrous blogger this year. If you ignore the week notes and classic album posts I’ve written about thirty blog posts. I should be aiming at three or four times that number.

I’m still pleased with some of the posts I’ve written though. The three blog posts on Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s bizarre attack on marriage equality were pretty good. I liked my explanation of why you should never give your password to a third-party web site. And who can forget my battle with SeeTickets.

In July I celebrated the tenth anniversary of this blog and between March and September I resurrected Wasted Inches, one of my earliest experiments in blogging.

So, not a complete disaster. But nowhere near as successful as I’d hoped. I’ll definitely try harder this year.

Health

My health has been dominated by two stories in 2012. Firstly, right at the start of the year I slipped and broke my leg. I was in plaster for six weeks. And secondly there was my attempt to get fit and lose some weight. That was actually pretty successful. I took up jogging and carefully watched what I was eating. And over a period of a few months I lost over two stone. Over the last few months I stopped being quite so careful, with the result that I put about half a stone back on. But, hey, it’s now a new year so I’ll be trying again with renewed enthusiasm.

If I can repeat last year’s success and lose another two pounds then I’ll be really happy.

Training and Speaking

2012 feels like the year that my training business really started to take off. I’ve run a number of training courses for various companies. It makes a nice chance from the programming work that takes up most of my time. I’ve also run three successful Perl School sessions, with more planned for the future.

I haven’t been speaking as much as I have recent years. That’s partly because I skipped a couple of conferences that I usually attend. I’ll be aiming to go to more conferences this year.

Travel

I’ve seen more of the UK than I usually do in a year. That’s often been because of training courses. But I haven’t done that much foreign travel. I had a weekend in Berlin in August. And I’ve just got back from two weeks in South Africa.

I have nothing firm planned for this year yet, but I’m hoping to get to Kiev in August and we have vague plans to go to San Francisco at some point in the summer.

Gigs

I haven’t done a final count yet, but I suspect I saw fewer gigs in 2012 than I did in 2011. That’s partly because of the six weeks I spent with my leg in a cast, largely unable to get myself to the venues. I had to sell a few tickets to gigs that I couldn’t get to.

I’ll write another post summarising the best and worst gigs I saw in 2012.

Summary

A pretty good year all in all. And the week notes have been a really interesting and useful way to track what has been going on. I feel sure that I’ll continue the experiment during 2013.

Week Notes 49 & 50

Another fortnightly “week notes”. This will probably be the last one of the year as I’ll be on holiday for the next two weeks. I’ll try to do a final round-up when I get back early in January.

Blogging

I wrote a blog post. It was about equal marriage. People seemed to like it. Some people didn’t understand it. Other than that, I wrote two classic album posts. All three of those posts were written on the same day.

Health

In the run-up to Christmas my weight is slowly creeping up again. Currently I’m about five pounds heavier than the lightest I got to this year. My current target is to stay under fourteen stone until the end of the year and then start with renewed vigor in the new year. I managed to lose over two stone this year. If I can do the same next year I’ll be at my target weight.

Speaking & Training

Perl School 3 took place last Saturday. It seemed to go well and the feedback I’m getting has been positive. Didn’t sell quite as many tickets as I wanted to. If I want to continue doing this then I’m going to have to get better at marketing.

And that’s all the training finished for the year. I already have three training sessions booked in for next year. Looks like that side of the business is doing well.

Technology

Had a bad technology week. One of the hard disks in my main web and email server crashed early on Monday morning. That’s ok though, it was only a secondary disk in a RAID cluster. Had I just asked the admins to replace it, then things would have been fine and my sites would have been back in four hours. But I didn’t, I tried to take backups of some important data before doing that, which meant it was three days before I got the server back. And at some point during the process an important database file went missing and four or five of my databases became unusable. Two of them were really quite important. Nothing that I can’t live without for the time being, but there’s going to be some work to fix them in the new year.

This is why I’m not a sysadmin.

Holiday

As I mentioned last time, we’re off on holiday this week. Don’t expect any updates from me until early next year. I expect I’ll still be active on Twitter.

Gigs

I’ve seen a few gigs in the last couple of weeks.

  • Elbow at the O2: The band were great but, once again, I had a terrible seat.
  • Beth Orton at the Union Chapel: One of the gigs I had been most looking forward too all year. Rather too focussed on her new album, but she was great.
  • The Men They Couldn’t Hang at the Borderline: This was ok. I don’t think I was really in the mood for it. Probably won’t leave it another twenty years before seeing them again.
  • Stealing Sheep at Bush Hall: Another gig I was really looking forward to. For various reasons I’ve missed every gig they’ve played in London this year so it was a year since I had last seen them. They were great a year ago, but they’ve become so much better in the last year. If they don’t become huge stars then there’s no justice in the music industry.
  • Ellie Goulding at Brixton Academy: Another one I wasn’t really in the mood for. I seriously considered just not going. But I went anyway and it was alright. Don’t think I’ll be rushing back to see her again.

Films

Seems ages since I saw a new film. But this afternoon I’m going to see The Hobbit. Reviews have been mixed.

 

Week Notes 47 & 48

As the year draws to an end I seem to have settled into a rhythm of fortnightly “week notes”. I’ll try to do better next year.

Blogging

One classic album review here (I’m now three albums behind on that!). But I’ve written four blog posts over on my Perl blog.

Health

My weight is still stable at about two stone less than it was at the start of the year. I haven’t been doing much exercise and I’ve been eating a bit more cavalierly than I have for most of the year, so I’m pretty happy with that.

With the festive season coming up, together with all the eating that entails, I’ll be happy if I stay at this weight until the end of the year. I can then have a fresh go at losing another two stone next year.

Speaking and Training

Last Saturday was the London Perl Workshop. I seemed to be speaking pretty much all day. Everything went well with one exception. On one of my talks I broke the second law of presenting and forgot to plug in my laptop. The battery gave out about two minutes from the end of the talk. Not very professional.

Next weekend is the next Perl School. Tickets are going well, and I’ve almost got the course written.

I already have three public training courses booked in for next year.

That last one is a new experiment. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes.

Holidays

A lot of the talk at my house over the last couple of weeks has been about our Christmas holiday. We’re going on safari in South Africa over Christmas before spending a few days around New Year’s Eve in Cape Town. It’s the first big holiday I’ve had for about five years, so I’m really looking forward to it.

Gigs

This has been a gig-free week. But I saw a couple of things the week before. On Monday 18th November I saw Gong at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. I’m glad I’ve seen them, but they went on a bit and I don’t think I’ll bother again. It was the least busy I’ve ever seen the Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

Then on Thursday, I saw The Magnetic North at the Purcell Room. If you haven’t heard their album then I highly recommend that you check it out. They were great live too, but I don’t think they have very many gigs planned.

Week Notes 45 & 46

Blogging

Surprised at how quickly those last two weeks passed. But pleasantly surprised to see I’ve managed two blog posts in that time – even if they were both classic albums.

Health

Still not losing any weight. But that’s not really surprising as I’m not doing anywhere near as much exercise as I was. Currently I’m just happy if I don’t put too much weight back on. I’m about four pounds heavier than the lightest weight I reached – which was back at the start of October. I’d like to lose those pounds again even if I don’t go much past that before the end of the year.

Training and Speaking

Things have been pretty hectic recently. I’ve known for months that I’ve got two training days looming, but somehow I’ve still left it to the last moment to get the courses prepared. By the end of today I plan to be ready for next weekend’s London Perl Workshop. That’ll then give me a couple of weeks to get ready for Perl School 3.

Films

Don’t think I’ve seen any films in the last couple of weeks. Oh, wait. I saw Aeon Flux. Or, more accurately, Aeon Flux was on while I was faffing around on my laptop. It really didn’t hold my interest.

Gigs

Busy couple of weeks for gigs.

Amy Macdonald – This was a bit of a random thing to see. I bought Amy Macdonald’s first couple of albums a couple of years ago after seeing her perform at the Kirsty MacColl tribute concert. They were good, but I didn’t listen to them very often. But in concert she was great. I’ll definitely be going to see her again.

The Divine Comedy – The Divine Comedy are always worth seeing. And this was Neil Hannon’s birthday so he put even more into the show than ever.

10cc – This was strange. I saw them in Croydon. And there’s only one member of the “real” 10cc left in the band. It was a bit like seeing Croydon’s best 10cc tribute band.

Tegan and Sara – Always love seeing Tegan and Sara. I don’t know why they aren’t better known.

The Killers – After my experience seeing Radiohead at the O2 last month I have been trying to sell my ticket for this. Having failed to sell it I decided to swallow my principles and try to sell it to a tout at the venue. He offered me a fiver (the ticket cost me £43) so I went to the gig instead. The Killers were every bit as great as you would expect. But the O2 is still a terrible terrible place to watch a band. And I still have a ticket to see Elbow there in a couple of weeks.

Week Notes 41 & 42

Blogging

All we have to show for the last two week’s is yesterday’s classic album post. And I only write that because I was feeling guilty about not having written anything else.

Health

Massive failures on this front too. I’m currently about two and a half pounds heavier that the lightest I’ve been. Two weeks ago I had a bad weekend when I ate far too much. That was followed by a few days when I was running a training course for some clients where food was far too easily available. As a result of all of that I put on about four pounds. The last two weeks have a been a slow attempt to lose that weight.

But that’s not the only failure. Two weeks ago I had a tour of the facilities of the Balham Leisure Centre. I came away from that with a free pass to use the centre for a week. And then I failed to use it at all. Ok, that’s not exactly true. On the Friday night I had an hour’s session where an instructor showed my how to use all the gym equipment. I left that session fired up to go back over the weekend and start exercising. I didn’t do that. And I haven’t been back since.

This is the second time this has happened to me. About twenty years ago, when I was working for Disney, a gym opened in the complex where the office was based. Before it opened, they came to the office and ran assessment sessions for anyone who was interested. When it opened, the offered us all free introductory sessions. I took them up on both of those offers. Then, a few days later, a friend and I went to do our first session at the gym. As we neared it, we saw that it was full of really fit-looking people. We looked at each other, turned around and went to the pub instead. We never went back.

I’m not sure what it is about me and gyms, but we don’t seem to be a good match.

Training and Speaking

I’m starting to think I may have over-committed slightly. There’s a lot coming up that I need to prepare for.

There’s the London Perl Workshop on 24th November. I know I need to write a two-hour Moose tutorial for that. And I’ve proposed another couple of talks as well. One of them would mean quite a lot of preparation.

Two weeks later, there’s Perl School 3. That’s an extended (six hour) version of the Moose course.

And in February I’m running my annual series of public training courses in conjunction with Floss UK and O’Reilly.

Films

I’ve seen The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Ginger & Rosa. I thought Wallflower was great, but Ginger & Rosa was a little disappointing. The cast were great and they all put in really good performances, but the plot and characterisation were both a bit obvious.

I should point out that both of those visits to the Clapham Picturehouse were paid for using free tickets that I was given by Virgin Media Shorts. I’m not entirely sure what I did to earn them, but Peer Index were involved.

Gigs

On Monday 8th I saw Radiohead at the O2. I thought the band were great (although their setlist was a bit too heavily weighted towards newer material for my tastes) but I hated the O2. I was on level 4 on a seat that was pretty much at the side of the stage. I should really have been sold as “limited view”. The seats are uncomfortable, the prices are ridiculous and there’s no atmosphere. I won’t be going to the O2 again.

On Saturday 13th I saw John Cale at the Royal Festival Hall. I saw him there a couple of years ago where he played Paris 1919 all the way through which was great. This was less so. I think my problem is that I don’t actually like John Cale as much as I think I do.

Then on Tuesday 16th I saw Suzanne Vega at the Barbican. She was playing a short series of tours to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Solitude Standing. She played the whole album and then followed it with a few more favourites. It was a great night. I think I should add her to my list of people who I see every time they are in town.

This week is going to be busy. I’m going the three gigs in the next five days. More on them next week.

Week Notes 39 & 40

Blogging

Another fortnight of limited blogging. The sum total is two classic album posts and a rant about woo-mongers.

Wasted Inches came to an end about a week ago. I’ve now republished all of the stories that I originally published back in 2002.

Health

Still not running. Still losing weight rather slower than I’d like.

Through a sequence of events that I’m still not really clear about, at 10am this morning I was at Balham Leisure Centre being given a tour of the facilities. I came away with a free one-week pass and a list of classes. I’ve even booked a gym induction session for next Friday. I should probably, at least, get back into the habit of swimming there. I used to enjoy that. Not sure why I stopped.

Training and Speaking

Yesterday was the second Perl School class. It was a repeat of the first one – Modern Perl for Non-Perl Programmers. I sold a reasonable number of tickets and I think the attendees all found it useful (perhaps even enjoyable).

The next Perl School is in two months time. That’s going to be on Moose. The one after that (which isn’t scheduled yet) will probably be on database programming using DBIx::Class.

I’ve also finalised the details of next year’s public training courses that I’m running in association with Floss UK and O’Reilly. There will be two two-day courses. One on intermediate Perl and one on advanced Perl. More details and a booking form are on the Floss UK web site.

Other Programming

I’ve spent some time over the last couple of weeks revisiting a couple of long-term projects. I should really try to get at least one of them finished.

Films

I saw Looper. I enjoyed it. It’s one of those films that you shouldn’t think about too hard. I’m sure the plot has lots of holes in it.

Gigs

On Thursday I saw John Cooper Clarke at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. I’ve been a fan since Disguise in Love was released in 1978 but I haven’t seen him live for over thirty years. I’m afraid it was a bit of a disappointment. He’s very disorganised. He spent far too much time rifling through piles of paper looking for the poem he wanted to read. He also spent too long telling jokes rather than reading poems. And I was surprised that he didn’t do more of his older, well-known stuff. The only “greatest hit” that he read was Beasley Street.

On the plus side though, his book Ten Years in An Open Necked Shirt has finally been republished. I’ve been trying to get hold of a copy for twenty-five years. The occasional copy the comes up on eBay sells for silly amounts. I bought a copy from the merchandise stall for £8. It’s highly recommended.

Other Stuff

On Thursday I became a great-uncle for the first time. I’ve always considered myself a pretty good uncle – but this seems to be some kind of promotion.

Week Notes 37 & 38

Blogging

Two blog posts here in the last fortnight – one classic album review and some advice for recruitment agents. There was a rant about magazines publishing bad code over on my Perl blog too.

Not a hugely productive two weeks – but there have been worse. I have a few ideas for posts (and I’m a couple of classic albums behind).

Alternative Freak is still running. And Wasted Inches is getting very near the end.

Health

I’ve stopped running. That’s not intentional. Three weeks ago I hurt my leg when out running and decided I’d take a few days off. But I haven’t got back into it. The colder weather and darker mornings don’t help, I suppose, but I really need to galvanise myself into getting out there and starting again.

So, of course, my weight loss has slowed down. But this week I passed another important milestone. When I weighed myself on Friday, I was two stone lighter than I was on 1st January. Now I know that losing two stone in nine months isn’t a  particularly impressive rate, but it makes me happy. I reckon I need to lose about another stone and a half.

I’ve been buying quite a lot of new clothes as my older ones were starting to look a bit loose on me.

Training & Speaking

The Perl School course in two weeks time still isn’t anywhere near selling out. I’m really surprised that a cost of just £30 makes such a large difference to the sign-up rate.

And immediately after that course (well, I get Sunday off) I’m running three days of training for a corporate client. So there has been a lot of slide-tweaking going on around here this weekend.

Then I need to start thinking about the next Perl School and my tutorial at the London Perl Workshop. Conveniently, the LPW tutorial will be a cut-down version of the Perl School course. You could even seen it as an advert. It’s almost like I’ve thought about this stuff.

Technology

I’ve been having one of those periods when technology is actively fighting against me.

First there’s my BeBox. That’s the combined ASDL Router and Wifi access point I get from Be. A few weeks ago I got several emails from them telling me that I had to upgrade the firmware so that it would support their new network (I suspect that has something to do with IPv6). The upgrade seemed to go ok, but since then none of the devices on the home network have been able to see each other, although they can all connect to the internet with no problems. I thought I’d fixed it two weeks ago, but the fix didn’t seem to last long and the problem is back.

Then there’s my Nexus 7. During the week it slipped out of my hand and fell onto the pavement. Now there are annoying lines on the screen. I suspect that the guarantee won’t cover that, but I’m hoping that I can claim it under the accidental damage cover on my household insurance.

During the week the Amazon Cloud Player became available in the UK. This is good news, but it had a big downside. They’re revamped the way you buy MP3s from them and, in the process, have removed support for clamz (an unofficial piece of software that made it far easier to download MP3s purchased from Amazon). It seems that they want you to buy MP3s and then download them from Cloud Player. But under Linux, you can only download MP3s one at a time. So effectively they’ve made it incredibly difficult for Linux users to buy MP3s from them.

I’ve been using Linux as my primary desktop for about twelve years. I’ve survived the years when you had to compile you own network drivers if you wanted to connect to the internet. I thought that things would eventually get better.

But over the last few months I’ve had too many occasions when I couldn’t do what I wanted because a web site or a piece of hardware didn’t support Linux. I’m seriously considering switching to a Windows desktop with Linux in a VM (or, perhaps, the other way round).

Films

Finally got round to watching Primer last night. Might need to watch it a few more times in order to understand what the hell is going on.

Gigs

Last weekend I saw Dexys (the band formerly known as Dexys Midnight Runners) at the Barbican. I was a little disappointed. The main part of the show was their new album played through. I knew that was going to happen, but I thought it was a little self-indulgent. Once that was finished, they played a few oldies. But too much of the time was wasted by a stupid extended sketch about a policeman. And the Come On Eileen went on about twice as long as it needed to. It seems that they find it really difficult to end songs. I shan’t bother going to see them again.

In sharp contrast, on Friday I saw Kathryn Tickellat the Purcell Room. She also played her new album all the way through. But Northumbrian Voices is an excellent show. She combines spoken word (taken from interviews) and music into a fascinating look at a dying way of life. It’s well worth seeing.