a mixed bag

Oh, did #blogjune finish? Oops, no posts since my summary; failing again :) If you’re going to fail at least fail consistently. I picked up the car on Saturday and so far so good. A few minor things need fixing eg the main key fob is held together with sticky tape and I have to physically turn the key in the door lock to open the car (#firstworldproblem). The lever to open the bottom has snapped off though it still works…just. These are minor things and to be expected when buying a secondhand car. I’m going to book it into an official Peugeot service centre so they can look at it properly and see if there’s anything outstanding. Later services can be done at my local garage.

And I voted. The voting queues were substantial and at my local booth there were multiple queues as it was a cusp booth between electorates and the boundaries had changed confusing lots. I take a long time to vote as I fill every square below the line however this time the queue to vote took longer than actual voting. That’s a first for me. I got out just in time to get the very last sausage sandwich; using the crust as they’d run out of bread slices.

The election coverage on the AB-friggin’-C was pretty fab and Antony Green was most excellent, as was Annabel Crabbe and Leigh Sales. I love watching unresolved cliffhangers and haven’t enjoyed the election coverage this much in years. As to the ultimate results I am somewhat torn. I’d be happy enough with a Turnbull win if we could get back the old Turnbull and get rid of some of the hardnosed right wingers. While I am impressed with how much Shorten and the ALP have turned themselves around in the last 12 months, I don’t know if they’re there yet. Plus I hold a soft spot for Albanese and would rather he was running things.

Yet, the reality is that politically I sit to the left of the major parties, and particularly abhor their policies on refugees. I’ve long had a sense, real or imagined, that a significant chunk of the old left wing of the Labor party has moved to the Greens, meaning the more conservative elements of Labor exert even more power within the party unfortunately. I’ve tended to vote for smaller parties and independents, I used to be fond of the Democrats before they imploded and these days lean towards the Greens myself. It must be said that I’m not quite the leftie my dad was though I treasure his membership card for the Communist Party of Australia.

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#blogjune 2016 recap

So that’s it then, blogging over for another year. Here’s where I promise that I’ll start blogging again and do so more often. Like I do most years and then fail to deliver :-) With that said, I did manage to increase my blogging rate a couple of months ago and have had a steady increase in advance of June this time round. That suggests I might have enough ticker to keep going. I could point to the list of 20 or so ideas on my list of potential posts but I can do that most years…even in 2014 where I only blogged 4 times during June. It’s less the ideas and more the inclination; getting round to writing and expanding the idea on one device or another.

As I often state, I blog for me and noone else, to inhabit an online space of my online. However I do like to look at the stats though I care not whether they’re good or bad. 2010 was my best year ever on this platform, coincidentally that was also the first year of #blogjune and 2012 seems to be the last, really good year before the drop off and general decline. Stats perked up in 2014 but that was also my second best year for blogging with 30 posts in June.

blog statistics

#blogjune has been running for 7 years now and I’ve managed to make it to 30 posts for 3 of those 7 years, including this year. I’m pretty happy with this year’s effort:

  • 33 posts
  • 10,000 words, averaging around 300 words per day

In 2010, my first #blogjune, and my most prolific, I managed 19,000 words in 34 posts, around 560 words per day. I’m sorta curious what my stats are like for each June rather than the annual tallies, graphed above. However, I haven’t worked out how to export the data easily and to be honest my stats, like my care factor, are pretty low :)

My top 5 posts were:

I also started, or attempted to start a series on alcohol, or at least whisky:

I have another post semi-written on whisky and feel like I can probably write a few more. One idea that’s on my list is to go through all the beers I’ve rated via untappd and list them, pointing out my favourites. Perhaps I should also write a post on how much I drink which is actually less than you might assume from all my alcohol references.

 

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workspaces

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I’m one of those people who likes to have lots of personal things in my work space, dotted about. Things I can glance at and know I’m in my space. Mostly that means books and pictures; the pictures tend to be arty postcards and I don’t have photos of my partner and kids. For a while, when I was living across two houses with my partner I missed my books quite a bit. So I set up a shelf at work of some of my favourites.

On the left of the bookcase are a couple of books on the Voynich including a full facsimile, Le Code Voynich. Last year I think, I ordered an even nicer facsimile of the Voynich. Sitting next to them is a couple of museum guides to the Codex Leicester, also known as the Hammer Codex, by Leonardo Da Vinci. The original was bought at auction for 30 million USD by Bill Gates and he has occasionally lent it out to museums. The two guides include images of many of the pages and accompanying essays. Having liked the leather Voynich facsimile, I have recently ordered a facsimile of the Codex Leicester to go with it.

There’s also some stuff on Copernicus and steampunk, amongst other things. Pride of place on the right goes to Infocom including the full box for the Amiga version of Zork I and the paperback edition of The Lost City of Zork. Everyone should have a PEZ dispenser for their favourite superhero :) To the right of my screen, are a mix of postcards and posters, starting with a Smart image and come to think of it ending with a Smart image as well. There is a fold out poster of the Apple IIe keyboard which I picked somewhere or other. The first computer I learnt programming on was an Apple II so I’ve long had a soft spot for them.

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yet another sf list

SF books on a shelf

I posted a few years ago around desires to work my way through some of the top SF novels ever, the canon if you like. The hard bit is working out what the canon should and shouldn’t include and whether there is truly a universal approach. Many of the lists tend to focus on US and UK publications. This post points out that issue in its discussion of yet another list, this time it’s the list from World Without End. It contains lots of related lists and its main SF one contains 256 titles. Of those, I’ve read 79, or approximately 31%. Come to think of it, I’d read around 30% of the list I used in 2012 (32 out of 100). This new list contains a broader variety of titles and does manage to include a graphic novel, Watchmen, yet where is Saga? Is it more that graphic novels tend not to get counted in lists with novels…is the genre too segmented?

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tooling along

Riffing off Kate’s post around staying organised, I’m a little less organised but still have a need to have some structures in place. I posted a few years back about my calendar efforts and re-reading that post I can say that it continues to work well enough for me.  I’ve got my work calendar feeding into my rainlendar setup so I usually check the night before if I have any morning meetings. I did need to update the calendar on my phone as my old phone calendar stopped supporting transparent overlays so I’m now using a paid version of Business Calendar 2.

I used to be a big fan of evernote and was willing to pay but didn’t like their subscription options, particularly as I only used it occasionally. Further I found the interface a little overwhelming for my needs. Mostly I was using it for sharing text and the occasional PDF across my devices. On the text side I’ve recently installed Simplenote and that’s been fab so far. The interface is basic and the data exchange quick. It’s easy to set up, make notes and sync across my various devices. I’m still using evernote to store PDFs occasionally but that’s primarily when I travel and I could probably move those to dropbox and get rid of evernote altogether.

In 2014, I put together a list of all the apps I’d paid for at the time. Looking back, I finally managed to cancel my sub to app.net which I haven’t touched since. As I commented a few weeks ago, I have started paying for wordpress and I’m still paying for flickr. I moved to feedly from google reader and have been fine with the free version. I wouldn’t mind paying for it as I use it as part of my regular reading but less keen about paying US$65/year for it. I’m somewhat stuck between wanting to pay  a one off price but recognising that it does need continuing support. The free version is sufficient and I don’t need to upgrade but would like a friendlier charge to enable me to give something back.

I have a paid subscription to the digital version of the Sydney Morning Herald via its android app. Unfortunately the android app is occasionally buggy, seems to be poorly supported and doesn’t have all the features that the apple version of the app has. It’s frustrating to use ie you can read the current day’s paper, once it update’s with the next day’s paper you lose access to the news content of the previous day. Whereas the apple version lets you view digital versions of the previous 7 days I think…though that’s PDF format, based on the image of the printed version. Come to think of it, I complained about all this stuff in 2014 and nothing has changed since.

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writing companions

I commented earlier that my current job seems to require a lot more physical, actual pen on paper, writing. I’ve slowly, very slowly, adjusted to this. Last year, I bought a pretty Lamy ballpoint pen which I have to say has worked out rather well. Writing with a good pen does make a difference and has a much happier hand-feel.

Recently I bought a Lamy fountain pen as the ballpoint version in deep violet didn’t fit comfortably in my hand ie my desire for the right sort of fit and the right sort of colour meant that I’ve ended up migrating to the fountain pen world. I’ve taken to it like a duck to water and from the start it’s felt good…mostly. I have to be a little careful as writing feels a little like scratching the paper rather than flowing across it. However it dries quickly and otherwise feels nice, and forces me to take more care. I have a suspicion that longer term it will strongly encourage me to write with improved clarity. This is not a bad thing.

That’s the pen part sorted. The other part of this equation is finding the right sort of pad. Both Kate and Con have commented on their love of Midori pads., Indeed, I too love the look of them and suspect they otherwise would work well for me. However I have discovered that I don’t like the book style approach to pads. Come to think of it, I don’t like it for ereaders either and prefer flip over covers. So the Midori traveler approach of books held together with elastic growing ever larger doesn’t quite work for me. Alas.

27304110624_752acfebce_nFor a while now, I’ve been buying cheap spiral based based notebooks from Officeworks as they’re about the right size and form that I like. The feel not so much. Thankfully, I have recently discovered that Moleskine make a notepad they call Reporter-Large. This is just about right though I suspect I’d like a slightly fancier version. The feel of the moleskine is lovely but I think I’d like something a little more leathery. It’s tightly ruled which means my writing is shrinking to fit the space yet remaining legible.

I suspect I can categorise this post under things I never expected to write. I’m a tech boy afterall, and a keyboard dedicated tech-boy at that. Oh well, perhaps that means I can still change my ways in new and interesting directions.

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i bought a red car

After finally putting all my thoughts down around buying a car the other day, I bit the bullet and bought a car I’d had my eye on for a while. It’s one thing to look at a car online and another to look at it in person. Prior to heading out, I mentally went through the pros and cons of buying a car and almost talked myself out of it. Ultimately it came down to the fact that I wanted to keep going with a second car, and my current car is almost dead.

My partner also has a car but it’s automatic and family oriented. My replacement car is more family oriented than my previous car including the inclusion of back doors. In 2001, I managed to buy a new car, my only new car, a Peugeot 206XR, black. My replacement car is a 2007 Peugeot 207XT, red. Unlike my old car, the aircon works, the tacometer works, the gears change smoothly, the cd player works ie everything works. It does have some hail damage and a few other scratches, but it’s only done 68,000km compared to the 150,000 or so of my current vehicle and it must be said is in better condition than my old car was at the same age. I’m not good at looking after cars. Unsurprisingly.

8196156606_bcfab70eee_nI did my research, reading up on the model, it’s slightly larger than my old car but not too much. I took it for a test drive and it was nice and easy with the same gear stretch that my old car has. Geez I sound like an old man…my new car is the same as my old old car but better…and red. I set myself a budget and this was the best value car that came close. The sense I have is if it wasn’t for the hail dents (not badly so), the car would have been significantly pricier. I’ve kept an eye on it online and it hasn’t sold for a couple of months so I was able to negotiate a cheaper price. It was on offer for $5,950, I offered $5,000 and they came back with a sharp $5,250 which I thought was a good outcome. It was a fair offer and I didn’t need to be hard-nosed about it. I paid a deposit, will do an EFT on the remainder during the week and pick it up after I vote on Saturday.

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