Daily blogging

Regular readers (hi!) will be aware that today is the final day of #DaBloPoMo[1].

It’s been an interesting month and whilst fun, there have been days where it’s been hard coming up with something to talk about. There are other days where it’s been hard to find time to talk about something.

But, I’ve made it. Day 28. Woohoo!

Interesting to look at the site stats too – I’ve seen a *massive* jump in traffic to the blog in February.

Feb site stats.

Partly due to the volume of posts, I’m sure, and partly due to me pimping the posts via Twitter. More on that in a second.

I also got a massive spike in visitors from The Pen Addict. and more specifically, their Ink Links post on the 9th, which contained a link to my stationery geek post.

As for promoting the blog posts on Twitter, I’ve been setting up scheduled tweets to go along with the automatic tweet which goes out when a new post is published. I’ve tried to tweet early evening, late evening and first thing in the morning, to try and pick up different audiences. It seems to be working, though I had some (possibly tongue-in-cheek) feedback the other day that I did nothing but pimp my various Skyfall-related posts.

I’ve tried to vary the tweet wording slightly as well to see what works best.

If you’ve seen a tweet from me over the month, what time of day did you see it? Or do you subscribe to the blog via email? Read it in your RSS newsfeed reader?

Tell me more, dear reader. And thanks for staying with me through DaBloPoMo.

Who knows what March will bring…?

[1] Dave’s Blog Posting Month.

online vs. offline personas

Eleanor Snare (@ebsnare) , in her blog post Online vs Personal Self looked at the question of what do you hide or embellish online, if anything. The question arose as the subject for this week’s lifestyle bloggers (#lbloggers) chat. Sounds interesting, I thought.

She raises some excellent points, and it’s something which I’ve thought about a few times over the years. Is my online persona different from the real-life me?

Yes and no.

Online gives you more of a chance to edit yourself, and present your version of events in a manner which you control. Rather than being put on the spot when someone asks you a question, you’ve got a chance to sit back, pause for a moment (or an hour, day, week) before responding. Or you’ve got time to write a blog post then go back through and tidy up your thoughts before posting.

Yes, I do do that. Think about what I’m posting. Mostly. Some days I just let the thoughts fall out of my head via my fingers into a text editor and post it up.

Really must stop doing that.

Anyway, onto the question of whether I hide or embellish my online persona. I don’t think I ‘hide’ anything particularly (other than the fact that actually I’m an 83 year old truck driver from Wisconsin[1]), it’s more that I choose what things I talk about in a positive choice sort of way, rather than hiding stuff from anyone.

Apart from the Wisconsinite thing, obviously.

I choose to talk about things which interest me. They may not interest you, or indeed anyone else, but I’ll talk about them anyway. I often thing that blogging is a form of free psychiatric help – rather than pay someone to sit and talk to, I can witter on here to my heart’s content. If someone replies, that’s fine, and we can have a chat about the relative merits of Skyfall, or what Oscar-winning films we’ve seen, but if no-one does, then at least I’ve got the words out of my head.

This is getting a little long, so I’ll leave it there. But I’ll throw the question over to you – do you hide or embellish your online persona? Are you also an elderly truck driver from Wisconsin? Stop by and say hello!

[1] Obviously I’m not really an 83 year old truck driver from Wisconsin[2]
[2] I’m from Idaho, and a youthful 78

Oh, Oscar

English: Replicas of Academy Award statuette i... English: Replicas of Academy Award statuette in a gift store Hollywood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

List of the Best Picture Oscars. How many have you seen?

I’ve marked the films I’ve seen in bold. I make it 29 that I’ve seen. Are there any of the others you’d recommend?

2012 – “Argo”
2011 – “The Artist”
2010 – “The King’s Speech”
2009 – “The Hurt Locker”
2008 – “Slumdog Millionaire”
2007 – “No Country for Old Men”
2006 – “The Departed”
2005 – “Crash”
2004 – “Million Dollar Baby”
2003 – “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
2002 – “Chicago”
2001 – “A Beautiful Mind”
2000 – “Gladiator”
1999 – “American Beauty”
1998 – “Shakespeare in Love”
1997 – “Titanic”
1996 – “The English Patient”
1995 – “Braveheart”
1994 – “Forrest Gump”
1993 – “Schindler’s List”
1992 – “Unforgiven”
1991 – “The Silence of the Lambs”
1990 – “Dances With Wolves”
1989 – “Driving Miss Daisy”
1988 – “Rain Man”
1987 – “The Last Emperor”
1986 – “Platoon”
1985 – “Out of Africa”
1984 – “Amadeus”
1983 – “Terms of Endearment”
1982 – “Gandhi”
1981 – “Chariots of Fire”
1980 – “Ordinary People”
1979 – “Kramer vs. Kramer”
1978 – “The Deer Hunter”
1977 – “Annie Hall”
1976 – “Rocky”
1975 – “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”
1974 – “The Godfather Part II”
1973 – “The Sting”
1972 – “The Godfather”
1971 – “The French Connection”
1970 – “Patton”
1969 – “Midnight Cowboy”
1968 – “Oliver!”
1967 – “In the Heat of the Night”
1966 – “A Man for All Seasons”
1965 – “The Sound of Music”
1964 – “My Fair Lady”
1963 – “Tom Jones”
1962 – “Lawrence of Arabia”
1961 – “West Side Story”
1960 – “The Apartment”
1959 – “Ben-Hur”
1958 – “Gigi”
1957 – “The Bridge on the River Kwai”
1956 – “Around the World in 80 Days”
1955 – “Marty”
1954 – “On the Waterfront”
1953 – “From Here to Eternity”
1952 – “The Greatest Show on Earth”
1951 – “An American in Paris”
1950 – “All About Eve”
1949 – “All the Kings Men”
1948 – “Hamlet”
1947 – “Gentleman’s Agreement”
1946 – “The Best Years of Our Lives”
1945 – “The Lost Weekend”
1944 – “Going My Way”
1943 – “Casablanca”
1942 – “Mrs. Miniver”
1941 – “How Green Was My Valley”
1940 – “Rebecca”
1939 – “Gone with the Wind”
1938 – “You Can’t Take It with You”
1937 – “The Life of Emile Zola”
1936 – “The Great Ziegfeld”
1935 – “Mutiny on the Bounty”
1934 – “It Happened One Night”
1932/1933 – “Cavalcade”
1931/1932 – “Grand Hotel”
1930/1931 – “Cimarron”
1929/1930 – “All Quiet on the Western Front”
1928/1929 – “The Broadway Melody”
1927/1928 – “Wings”


Seen on the news this morning: Nokia’s £13 phone with a battery that lasts a month

Finnish smartphone maker Nokia has launched a budget mobile that costs less than a cheap rubber smartphone case – and has a battery that lasts one month per charge.

An interesting idea from our Finnish friends. The trend has been for bigger and bigger smartphones that do any and everything, but here’s the Nokia 105, a phone that’s dirt cheap and with a battery life that actually makes sense.

My current phone is a two year old HTC Desire S, and the battery lasts maybe a couple of days if I’m *really* careful and switch off 3G, turn the screen brightness down and only use it occasionally. In regular daily use the battery is down to 10% by bedtime, and it lives on my desk plugged into a USB lead to make it through the day. I’m a fairly heavy user of it though, checking Twitter and emails regularly (yes, and Facebook from time to time). I also watch video on my phone on my commute, read books on the kindle app, check train times etc.

I’m due an upgrade on my current contract in July, and have spent some time looking at the latest & greatest smartphones. I quite like the look of the HTC One X and the Nexus 4, but both are *massive* phones, verging on the mini-tablet. I’m not sure my pockets could cope! And I bet battery life hasn’t improved – bigger screen + faster processor…

So, would I swap out my beloved always-connected HTC for a Nokia candybar phone?

I have to say that I’m tempted. Simplicity of use + a long long battery life sound very appealing…

Ten reasons why Skyfall is the best Bond movie.

Skyfall poster

I present, in no particular order, ten reasons why Skyfall is the best Bond movie, ever. Starring the best Bond, ever (imho)…

Spoilers abound, naturally. You have been warned.

Daniel Craig
It became clear to me very quickly whilst watching Casino Royale that Daniel Craig would make a very good Bond indeed. By the end of the opening credits I was convinced. He even redeemed Quantum of Solace (though more of than in another post).

In Skyfall he absolutely owns Bond and cements his place as The Best Bond. I will quite happily explain why, at great length, to anyone who asks. Again, maybe another blog post…

The pre-title sequence
Normally in a Bond film we meet our hero in mid-adventure, risking life & limb for Queen & country. But, he always gets away with it. This time it’s equally thrilling, with car chases followed by bike chases followed by derring-do atop a speeding train. Bond will surely retrieve the disc, won’t he?

Not this time. Farewell, Mister Bond. For now…

Skyfall looks amazing. Roger Deakins does a wonderful job throughout a largely UK-centric film. From the grim, rain-soaked streets of London to the neon-lit skyscrapers of Shanghai and the highlands of Scotland, the locations of a Bond film have never looked better.

Bond is a character who says little, preferring action over chit-chat. There are some wonderful lines though, from Q’s “What did you expect, an exploding pen? We don’t really go in for that sort of thing any more,” to Bond’s “What makes you think this is my first time?”.

It’s M who gets all the best lines though, quoting Tennyson at a public inquiry into her losing the mcguffin hard drive, and her wonderful dismissal of Bond at her house, an over-the shoulder “well, you’re bloody well not sleeping here.”

Silva’s entrance speech is also mesmerising, a long, oh-so-slow walk up to Bond, reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia (with just a hint of Tim Curry’s memorable entrance in Rocky Horror), monologuing all the way, as all good villains do.

References to previous Bond movies
Oh, so many references. Little nods to the fans. It is a 50th birthday for Bond, of course, so lots of presents! How many did you spot? Here’s a few:

  • Running across komodo dragons (Live & Let Die)
  • the Moore-era comedy one-liner from the couple as Bond jumps on the back of a speeding Tube train
  • the lone sniper (The Living Daylights)
  • Bond’s obituary (Tomorrow Never Dies)
  • MI6 blowing up (The World Is Not Enough)
  • bad guys & fallen statues (GoldenEye)
  • Bond tied to a chair by the bad guy (Casino Royale)
  • “Don’t touch your ear” (Casino Royale)
  • the Aston Martin…

The Aston Martin
Oh, the Aston Martin DB5. Complete with ejector seat. I need say no more.

Judi Dench
Oh, Dame Judi. How we adore thee. Much as Daniel has done with making Bond his own, you’ve done the same with M, but for longer. Bond is nothing without the ladies, and doubly so in your case. The supreme matriarch figure, taking no crap from anyone. We shall miss you.

Javier Bardem
One of the best Bond villains we’ve seen for a long while. Silva is cunning, clever and ruthless. And by golly does he monologue well. And the only Bond villain to actually get what he wants. Stick that in your pipe & smoke it, Blofeld.

That theme song
There’s the theme tune. After Casino Royale’s “You Know My Name” by Chris Cornell (which I still rate as a decent Bond tune, though realise that I’m firmly in the minority here) and Quantum of Solace’s theme, which I really dislike with a passion, we get a full-blown Oscar-winning Bassey-esque belter, courtesy of Adele.

This is a proper Bond tune, for our proper Bond. One which you can still hum days later. Big, brassy and bold. Utterly splendid, it wouldn’t feel out of place in any of the earlier Bond movies. Easily in my top 5. But that’s for another post, another day.

The ending (or is it a beginning?)
No, not the Silva/M ending. Though that in and of itself is quite splendid. The big reset, a clearing of the decks. We’ve got our new, proper Bond, and we have a new M to run the show. And a new, more capable, Moneypenny, not to mention Q. This feels like a new beginning. I, for one, can’t wait to see where they’ll take us next.

So. There you have it. My ten reasons why Skyfall is the best Bond movie. Do you agree or disagree?

DaBloPoMo – day 24 recap

Day 24 of #DaBloPoMo. Time for another recap. Last time we did one of these was day… [checks] ten! blimey. Doesn’t time fly.

juggling clubs

Since then we met my juggling nemesis, namely my set of juggling clubs, which I *will* defeat learn this year. I took a funky photo of an apple, talked Moleskines, then introduced you to Umphrey’s McGee.

Good aren’t they?

Immediately after that we had The Great Mug Incident, then things went a bit photo-heavy. We called in at the beautiful Fountain’s Abbey, took some long exposure photos, asked if it was art.

Blue skies over the Yorkshire Sculpture Park were followed by a Leeds sunset before heading back to the YSPfor some Jaume Plensa.wpid-IMAG1017-1.jpg

Then came the highlight of my month so far. Yet another sunset photo, but this one I was particularly proud of. It made it into Flickr’s Explore! Woo!

This prompted a musing as to whether it’s a popularity contest (or not).

I briefly talked about the joys of the Fitbit One, and the reasons why I sold mine. I sort of miss it.

Finally, yesterday we watched an awesome Japanese dude plane wood. Seriously, it’s amazing.

Four more days, dear reader. Four more days of #DaBloPoMo. What will March bring, I wonder?


fitbitAt the start of the year I bought myself a Fitbit One, a little wireless gizmo that tracks the number of steps taken each day, calories burned, stairs climbed and distance travelled. It’s a nice little gadget, kind of like a pedometer on steroids. You clip it to your clothes and forget about it. It syncs wirelessly with your computer via bluetooth whenever you’re in range, and you get a nifty dashboard showing what you’ve been up to.

fitbit stats
One day earlier this month, for example, I did 13,822 steps, climbed the equivalent of 55 floors (the equivalent of ‘the world’s tallest ferris wheel!’ and walked 6.24 miles. I got a badge for climbing 50 floors in a day. Woo.

Stairs climbed is interesting – it tracks your vertical movement via a little altimeter, and only counts them as stairs if you’re actually taking steps at the time – lifts and escalators don’t count!

You get little interactive graphs showing you all of these things and more. Time of day you were active and so on.

I’ve just sold it.

I came to realise that whilst the numbers were interesting, I wasn’t actually doing anything with them. The week beginning 4th Feb, for example, I did over 70k steps, walked nearly 32 miles and climbed over 240 floors.

And last week I was less active than the week before. Did it encourage me to do more? No. The daily emails saying ‘Nailed it! You’ve hit your step target!” or ‘Nearly there! Only 547 more steps!” didn’t motivate me to get up and take those extra steps. Fitbits are quite expensive little gizmos too (though very well made), so it duly went on eBay and off to a good home.

I did find out that on a regular day I’m doing a fair bit of walking, and that I climb the equivalent of a lot of stairs, so am reasonably fit. I could do more as I’m not doing any ‘proper’ exercise (running, cycling etc) at the moment, and when I do, I’ll be using something like the excellent Runkeeper app, which uses GPS to tell me how far I’ve gone, how fast etc. I can use it out cycling *or* running and it’s free.

So, dear reader. Do you use any exercise-related apps or websites?

It’s not a popularity contest…

or is it?

Yesterday, I posted a photo called Yet Another Sunset. It was a shot I took out of the window at work, looking over to the Town Hall in Leeds. I quite liked it.

This morning, I discovered that the original photo, posted up on Flickr, went into Explore at #47. And the stats went nuts. All day I’ve been getting flickr notifications. As it stands now, the photo has had 803 views, 78 favourites, and 22 comments.


Weirdly, it’s not my most popular photo, and currently sits in third place. That said, it’s only been up for a day!

In 2nd place (in terms of views), there’s Fractal Veg, with 1,025 views
fractal veg!

and in the top spot, What’s In My Bag, with 1,829 views
what's in my bag

No, I don’t get it either.

Do you follow your stats?

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