Chaotic lives

My wife and I just spent the last two-and-a-bit hours getting our diaries in sync for the rest of the year. Life is chaotic enough with two careers, one teenager starting Sixth Form, one teenager starting GCSEs, one child starting school, one child in pre-school, my helping to run two schools, swimming lessons, WordCamps, dentist appointments, work trips, visits to the opticians, conferences, birthdays and numerous other life events.

Not content with juggling all that, we decide to make our lives even harder by my insisting on keeping everything digital in Sunrise and Wunderlist, while she prefers analog with her trusty Filofax.


n. The activity of keeping a diary, also known as journal.

As much as I love the idea of keeping a journal, I suck at it. Like most things – and most people – I start out with the best of intentions, but fail to maintain the habit; also, like a bad workman, I often blame the tools but the truth is that it is habit and nothing more.

I’ve tried many tools and formats over the years; too many to list here. Inspired by my eldest daughters recent experiments with Bullet Journal – complete with shiny new Moleskine notebook and washi tape decorations, see the featured image on this post – I started thinking about how to kickstart my journaling habit.

As much as I love analog methods (I am also a sucker for nice notebook and pen) the reality is that I spend most of my time in front of my MacBook Pro or with my iPhone (no Watch, yet ๐Ÿ˜‰) nearby so a digital solution works best for me. Since I am already deep into the Apple lifestyle, the natural choice is Day One from Bloom and it is a very nice app. If you don’t believe me, go read this review from The Sweet Setup.

However I work for a company whose primary product is a blogging platform, and what is a blog if not a form of journaling? Of course a journal should be personal, so I just setup a [private]|( blog, picked a theme, and I am set! Thanks to the excellent WordPress app I have most of the features from Day One on my phone. In fact I think the only thing I lose out on is the automatic weather details.

Let us see how long I can maintain this habit for… ๐Ÿ˜€

Beware: Low flying quadcopter

For Christmas this year I got my son a quadcopter. This wasn’t a completely selfless gift; I obviously wanted to have a go myself. ๐Ÿ™‚ Above are the results from my first outside daylight (this part is important) flight.

I got him theย UDI U818A 2.4GHz 4 CH 6 Axis Gyro RC Quadcopter with Camera RTF Mode 2. The camera is VGA (640×480) only, and struggles with low light – hence needing to film in daylight. Another limitation is battery life: up to 2 hours charge for 6-8 minutes flight time. Suffice to say we have some moreย batteries on the way!

This is a great starter kit, and has sufficiently whetted my appetite for more. I can see an AR.Drone or Phantom Vision in my future. ๐Ÿ™‚

Desperately seeking caffeine

I’m a Monster addict. I typically have one can a day, and often two (occasionally more!). When I travelled to Portland, OR with my wife I was in heaven to discover the 24oz Mega Monster cans.

I know it’s not good for me, and over the last year I’ve been trying hard to wean myself off them – without much success. With four kids, a full time (fantastic) job, two school governorships, and – you know – life I feel like I need a little extra.

As a Brit I also like my tea; when I’m off Monster my tea consumption goes up and vice versa. However I don’t get the same kick from tea (unless I load it up with sugar, which defeats the health benefits); that oft-quoted fact about tea containing more caffeine is before the tea is brewed.

Since I’mย a professional coder I feel like I’m letting the side down by not drinking coffee. I’ve tried – repeatedly – but I’ve never really enjoyed coffee. The smell, the taste. I’ve been told this is because I’m drinking the wrong stuff (instant == bad), but on the few occasions I’m somewhere that does decent coffee (or, you know, Starbucks) I typically go for my preferred Chai Tea Latte. It’s a hard habit to break. ๐Ÿ™‚

Every so often I’ll have another try at coffee; buying a different brand and/or loading it up with sugar & milk, but it never really works and back to the Monster/tea I go.

Last night while picking up a bit of shopping I spotted some Nescafe Azera Latte instant sachets on offer and – having seen one of my coffee drinking friends like the brand – I picked some up on a whim. We’ll see how this attempt goes…

BTW, the awesome handle-less cup in the photo was purchased on another trip with my wife to Copenhagen, Denmark.

A Walk in Whinlatter Forest

This weekend my family and I took a walk in Whinlatter Forest, following the Gruffalo’s Child trail. I’m not much of a photographer – I rarely have a camera with me other than my phone – but it’s something I would like to get better at. With a small amount of forethought I remembered to charge batteries for my friend’s Canon EOS 300D (actually, it’s a DS6041) – which he loaned to me in 2007…! – with the intention of getting some half decent shots.

Obviously there were lots of great pictures of the family, but I was quite pleased with how these ones turned out too.