Archive for December, 2007

2008 Resolution

Monday, December 31st, 2007

I liked last years resolution but it was a bit wishy-washy. So, what for this year?

I could do something sensible like resolve to save some money, get fitter or lose some weight. But everyone does that, and most of them end up abandoning it after January, just like I would.

I’ve resolved to do something that’s not too easy, but is at least plausible and fun. Since I’ve already decided not to do a several week holiday this year I might as well give me a target to get me out of the flat, and the country.

So, here goes:

By the 31st of December 2008, I resolve to have visited each of the 27 member states of the European Union.

I’ve had this idea in the back of my head for a few months, and it was originally ‘visit each capital city for a day.’ The version above allows more wiggle room (notably allowing me to count the seven countries I’ve already visited if I need to, even if Greece is a stretch since it was over fifteen years ago.)

Still, it’s going to be interesting if I really commit myself to doing it. And, barring any disasters, I plan to give it my best.

At least it makes the progress post easier, here’s the first one:

With 134 non-working days left I still need to visit 20 countries (27 to do then in all ’08.)
Countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.
Countries I’ve visited pre-2008 are in grey, countries visited in 2008 are scored out.

Final Progress

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

One final progress for the year …

People Visited: 22 (4) [Last: 20/4]
Places Visited: lots… (4) [Last: 11/3]
Countries Visited: 10 (5) [Last: 6/2]

So, what do I think? Well I made up for my lack of travel in the last few months of the year. I don’t think I’ll do another ‘big bang’ trip anytime soon, little and often next year. Still it was excellent.

The important part of the resolution was to visit people, to get in touch more. I can honestly say that I’ve made the effort to see more people this year than I might otherwise have. And I’ve managed to get in contact, even if only electronically, with almost everyone that I really wanted to, and that certainly was encouraged by this resolution.

Check back tomorrow morning for my 2008 resolution …

See the Original post for the details and the rules.

Sometimes, it’s better to fry it.

Friday, December 28th, 2007

One ring on my cooker is stuck permanently on a medium-to-high setting, I’m coping with it (and it’s getting replaced soon) but I feel bad when I switch on the cooker and don’t use that ring. Think of my carbon footprint!

Today I needed to heat up a couple of pita breads, but I didn’t want to use just the grill and waste the hot ring.

So I opted to cut the pitas into thinish slices, fry them in butter, flip ’em, drench them in Parmesan (still in the pan, let it melt over them), and drain on a kitchen towel.

Throw over a bit of salt. Amazing.

Sometimes, it really is better just to fry it.

Merry Christmas …

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

Well another Christmas almost over, I’m here with a glass of wine and the dogs holding fort while my parents ferry relatives back to their abodes.

There are worse places to be …

Hope everyone is having a fantastic Christmas wherever you are.

Less Awesome

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Generally when I consider anything I’ve not tried before I assume I’ll be brilliant at it. It’s surprising how few times this turns out to be true. This leads me to two conclusions, every time I try something new and find out I’m not brilliant at it I become slightly less awesome. Therefore I should never try anything new, to preserve my current level of awesomeness.

Sadly I can’t help myself and so this morning I find myself less awesome after turning my hand to golf last night.

Not full blown, freezing cold, outdoor golf. But more civilised indoor simulated golf complete with a few pints.

As I lined up my first shot it occurred to me that I didn’t know the first thing about golf, but not to worry I was probably a natural. After my first (and many subsequent shots) I was forced to come to the conclusion that I wasn’t a natural.

Fortunately we were playing as a team and using a system where everyone got a shot and then the team picked the best shot and then play continued from there, so my pathetic golfing could be carried along by the two more experienced players on my team.

All in all it’s a good laugh, and not too pricey if you turn up with a few people, and they’ve got some pretty impressive technology running it. But unlike something like bowling, it does help if you have half a clue what you’re doing beforehand, otherwise you look like a bit of a idiot.

Over the nine holes I only played one shot that was better than my teammates shots.

That shot was to make a putt for an eagle on the final hole.

To give our team the win by one shot.

Making me slightly more awesome again.

Lesson for Today

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Seize the day.

Or more precisely, if you see a 60Gb PlayStation 3 in a second hand shop window for £245 don’t agonise for forty-eight hours about whether to buy the damn thing or not. Just buy it. That way you’ll not be disappointed when you go back and it’s been sold. Probably to someone who’s going to flip it on e-bay for double the money.

Yes, I’m stupid. Feel free to point and laugh.

Entrance

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

If decent voicemail isn’t the killer mobile application then how about this.

One of the many things that’s being touted as the next big thing is location based services. That’s where your phone already knows where you are and can tailor information to your location, or send your location automatically to other services like the AA or the local pizza shop. Those features are pretty standard, but there’s also been some talk about your phone automatically reacting to your location, i.e. downloading traffic alerts or adverts for nearby shows or discounts for the shop you just walked into. Obviously it’s just another avenue for spam but I expect someone to at least try and start a free, ad-supported, mobile service sooner or later.

But that’s not my idea.

What I’m wondering is, if you’re phone can react to location then surely your location can react to your phone. Billboards could change to target the majority of people nearby, signs could welcome you by name to the cinema, or — still as scary but more useful — you could setup your cards so that ATMs and credit card machines confirm that you’re in the area before accepting your card.

You’re thinking, I expect, that you’d never let the phone company share your location with random services like that. I say all you need is an incentive, a service so desirable that you’d ignore the implications and the downsides. A killer application for location information sharing.

And I have one.

Entrance Music

Imagine it, when you walk into a bar your chosen music comes blaring out the speakers. No longer do you need to choose an annoying ringtone and wait for people to call, just set up your theme and go find a pub. The more you pay the longer and louder your music plays.

There you go, that’s your free killer idea for today. Go and make millions.

Voicemail

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

The battle of the bathroom continues apace, this means that I’m getting calls on a fairly regular basis from one workman or other wanting to do whatever is next on the list.

When I’m not in they leave voicemail, this typically involves some preamble about who they are with a request to call them back followed by a mobile number reeled off as fast as possible. This morning I had to play the message four times to get the number right. And I had to play the entire message because that’s the only option my work voicemail has.

Why? Why can’t voicemail have a rewind or a fast forward function, even a ‘replay the last ten seconds’ button would work. Or let’s go all 21st century and notice when a number is being read out and do speech recognition to get the digits or slow down the playback. Digital voicemail is an option on most phone lines but it’s functionality is worse than you’d get on an old-style tape based answering machine.

There’s probably systems out there that do all this and more, but I’ve not found one yet.

Variety

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

Holy crap, I just watched — and kind of enjoyed — the Royal Variety Performance.

I only had to fast forward through James Blunt.

That must mean I’m getting old.

Or maybe I’m just drunk.

Probably both.