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IRL Me Self-Improvement Technology

Typing

Around about a year ago I suddenly realised that I’d been typing away on QWERTY keyboards for well over a decade (since around 2000, aged 10), and that during that time I’d been ‘chicken pecking‘ the whole time. And with the further realisation that I’m likely to be using keyboards for many, many years, I decided it was time to learn how to type properly.

I first replaced my Apple chiclet keyboard with a ‘proper’ one. And chose the Das Model S Professional for Mac, as most non-chiclet keyboards do not play nice with Macs. However, the Das was just too large and noisy for my small desk and night owl habits. So I replaced it with the HHKB Professional 2. It was expensive, but small and fairly quiet for a ‘proper’ keyboard thanks to its topre keys. I also went with the blank keycap variant to really force me how to learn how to touch type.

When it came to learning, I found Peter’s Online Typing Course to be the best resource.

Anyway, here’s a chart of my average typing speed over the past year.

(My average WPM (words per minute) didn’t immediately drop to its lowest as I was still occasionally chicken pecking at first.)

It took me a very long time to get back to where I was before switching because I just don’t type enough. The most I type at one time is usually an iMessage. But despite the long learning time, it was still very much worth it. My hands feel better, but mostly it’s just really really handy not having to look down from my computer screen to my keyboard when typing.

So if you’re not a touch typist and have been considering learning how I’d highly recommend it. It really wasn’t as tough as I had expected.

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IRL Me

Alcohol

How wonderful and terrible it is that my drug of choice, alcohol, is positioned perfectly in the world I inhabit.

There are thousands of these buildings called ‘pubs’ and ‘bars’ dedicated to the consumption of it.

Every supermarket I go to stocks vast quanties and varieties of it at a financial loss just so they get me through their door to buy food on the way out of it.

My family buys it for me on special occasions.

All my friends partake. We enable each other, just like the alcohol enables our conversations.

High class places hide it with their prices and cocktails of ingredients, but the alcohol remains.

And travel is great!

I put my empty carry-on luggage to good use in duty-free. The airport lounges present it freely alongside cold, stale nibbles. On the flight it’s thrown at me. By the steward, “orange juice or champagne?”, with me pretending to think about my choice. And by the steward who has to stand behind the bar even though it’s 4 a.m. and the rest of the plane is asleep. He feeds me drink, and I feed him the sight of something other than tired travellers stumbling to the toilets.

And then I land in a Muslim country. So no alcohol! But wait, that doesn’t include hotels you fool!

Then my holiday consists of two weeks of slave labourers asking me around the swimming pool if I’d like a drink. They use their legs to transport it to you and everything. You scribble your signature and mumble your room number and more of it comes, until you’re so drunk you’re scared of getting in the pool for fear of drowning.

But at least at the end of a booze-fueled day I have the AC cooled sober embrace of my hotel room, far away from Indian immigrants tempting me to drink.

So I relax and turn on the TV. Mmm. Alcoholic beverage adverts with rich looking people doing rich looking things and having what looks like a very nice time. And look! Below the TV is what looks like a small fridge, I wonder what’s in it?

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IRL

Please See the ISS

Seeing the ISS (International Space Station) pass over head is a really cool experience. You can’t see the details. It’s just a big, bright dot in the sky zooming by, but somehow it’s amazing to watch. You realise that people are in that dot 250 miles up and doing over 17,000MPH.

To most people the ISS is just this thing in space where astronauts sing songs, and they don’t realise they can almost certainly see it pass over their head. And unlike many of these space things they don’t have to travel to weird locations only to find out it won’t be happening that night or it’s too cloudly to see. You can see the ISS from the comfort of your garden!

How?

Well NASA offers a service called Spot The Station where they’ll e-mail or text you when it’s going to be passing by your location. And they give you all the details on where to see it in the nights sky.

Here’s an example email:

Time: Fri Jun 07/10:43 PM, Visible: 6 min, Max Height: 61 degrees, Appears: WSW, Disappears: E

Just go outside a minute or so before they say in case it’s early and then look up and marvel.

Everyone I’ve told about this hasn’t known about it before and hasn’t regretted checking it out once I mentioned it. And kids love it. It’s a tangible ‘rocket’ that’s in their garden and not far out in space or in picture books.

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IRL

Ray-Ban v. Tom Ford

The Ray-Ban Wayfarer is a classic. A cultural icon. However, I’ve recently switched from them to Tom Ford for all my eyewear needs.

The definitive Wayfarer just isn’t what it used to be. Cheap, but identical, copies have flooded the market. Ray-Ban have been introducing more and more tacky colour variations and lenses. But most importantly the build quality has been dropping and the price has been rising. The 2113 Wayfarer’s I bought in 2009 for £60 are now double that.

Step in Tom Ford. His eyewear is generally 20-30% more expensive than Ray-Ban’s, but they’re worth it in my opinion. The build quality is unbelievably superior to Ray-Ban’s. My Wayfarer’s now feel like plastic pieces of crap. And Mr. Ford makes some stunning looking glasses. They’re beautiful.

So if you’re in the market for either some new prescription or sun glasses, give Tom Ford a go. Go to a store, try on a pair, I’m sure you’ll love them.

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IRL

Angelpoise Lamp Switches Switch

I recently needed a new lamp. So I went to a store to pick up my favourite, the Anglepoise 1227. But to my horror I discovered that the model has been changed slightly, but significantly.

Previously the one/off switch was on the top of the lampshade:
Top of old Anglepoise 1227

It’s now been changed to a mid-cable switch:
Bottom of new Anglepoise 1227

That switch makes zero sense in every circumstance (and particularly on a balanced-arm lamp where you’re constantly moving the arm around). I’ve had to use those switches too often for too long now, and I still cannot see a single benefit. Imagine, you get your lamp out of the box, place it on the table top and then for time immemorial you have to bend over, squeeze your arm through the small gap between the table and the wall, and then run your fingers through the cable to find the switch.

Is there a single scenario where that is a better choice of switch? Placed on my desk, I’d have to get my arm over 4 feet of wood every time I wanted to turn it off/on. On my bed side table, I’d have to dislocate my shoulder to reach it. It’s insanity.

The only reason I can see why it’s so popular is due to low cost for the manufacturer. Or am I missing a benefit or reason? Please email me. I genuinely want to know why this switch exists so prominently.