Categories
Health Link Me

COVID-19

Short article over at the Specator: Why Britain Isn’t Opting for a Coronavirus Lockdown

Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Officer, explained that the aim is to try and delay the peak of the disease and then stretch it out over a longer period so the NHS is better able to deal with it. […]

Chris Witty, the Chief Medical Officer, stressed that one of the reasons the UK was not moving to more dramatic measures – for example, telling all old people to self-isolate – was that if the UK moved now, then the public would tire of that at just the wrong moment. Some people argue that people will be happy to do whatever it takes to avoid this virus. But staying home for three months is no small thing and it is not hard to believe that people would tire of this in time.

I personally believe Britain needs to have a massive ‘over-reaction’. Now. Only workers in the utilities, food (supermarkets, not restaurants) and other essential industries should be working. Everyone else needs to stay at home. We can either suffer briefly now for two weeks as a nation or drag this misery out for the rest of the year and and cause a lot more deaths. Even now, in this late hour, everyone I’ve spoken to about Coronavirus is treating it as little more than a joke or at worst just a minor inconvience. In the past 24 hours or so some high-profile names have tested positive for the virus which should hopefully aid public awareness of how dangerous this all is though.

I somewhat fortunately happen to follow a guy on Twitter who has from the start taken a very keen interest in Choronavirus and its spread. And when he said on February 22nd that “we give the chance of pandemic 54% to 75%” I started to take it very seriously. I haven’t been to the gym since and have gotten all my exercise from rural walking and cycling. Sadly I still have to work, but aside from that the only other place I go is to the supermarket. And I’ve been going as soon as they open as it’s very quiet and less hands will have likely fondled my food. And if it’s not protected by a bag I don’t eat it. No more loose fruit or vegetables.

Aside: I don’t know when the Spectator website got a redesign, but it’s both functional and stunning.

Categories
Me Technology

The Setup of 2016

I’m a big fan of The Setup. It’s “a collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.” So in the spirit of it, I’ve decided to do my own. And plan on doing one each year to keep track of how my ‘setup’ changes. You can see my 2013 and 2014 one too.

What hardware do you use?

My main computer is a 15-inch Retina Macbook Pro (mid 2012, 2.6GHz Intel i7, 16GB RAM). It’s often hooked up on my desk to dual Apple Thunderbolt Displays, a Microsoft Ergonomic keyboard, Logitech M570 trackball, and either some old Bose computer speakers or my Beyerdynamic T90 headphones.

I also have an iPad Pro (12.9 inch) which I’ve been using more and more this year as it’s light, helps me focus, and alleviates some hand pain I’ve developed.

Other computers include a Mac mini (late 2014, 2.6GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD) being used as a home server. A Synology DS1815+ NAS with 22TB in RAID 6 for general file storage and backups, 3TB for home surveillance cameras, and 1TB as a Time Machine backup of my Macbook. I also have a gaming PC with an Intel Core i5 4690K and ASUS Strix GTX 970 which is paired with a BenQ XL2430T monitor, HHKB keyboard, and a Logitech G500s mouse.

There’s an iPhone 6 in my right pocket, some keys in my left, and a Chrome Soyuz [cached link] bag on my back.

For photography I use a Fujifilm X100S, Leica M4-P, Bronica SQ-A and a Sony A100.

And what software?

Usually occupying my monitor

Safari for web browsing and TodoTxtMac for todos . I also usually have a Safari window open on my second monitor with my Plex library open, listening to music, or maybe watching some TV.

Daily

nvALT for frequently needed .txt’s. Bear for other important notes. Evernote for all sorts of stuff. Soulver for when I can’t be bothered to go to Wolfram|Alpha. Byword for writing. Chocolat for various text based stuff. MailMate for email. Transmit for FTP.

Occasionally

Acorn and Preview for quick image editing, and Lightroom for the more extensive. Final Cut Pro for video editing. PDFpen mostly for OCRing. Pages for when I need to print my words. Steam for gaming. YNAB for finance management.

Background and utilities

Dropbox, Google Drive , Backblaze and Arq for backups. 1Password for password management. Alfred for quickly launching or finding stuff. Caffeine for keeping my Mac awake. DaisyDisk for hard drive space management. Divvy for window management. Email Backup Pro does what it says on the tin. Bartender for organising the taskbar. Fantastical for adding to my calendar. f.lux for the sake of my eyes. FruitJuice for keeping my battery healthy. iStat Menus for spying on my computer. Hazel for automatically moving and renaming files. KeyRemap4MacBook for making my keyboard more Mac friendly. TextExpander for simplifying the commonly typed stuff. Time Out to remind me to get up and out of my seat every now and again. Yoink for making drag and drop easier.

iPhone

Twitterrific for Twitter. Overcast for podcasts. Newsblur for RSS. Terminology for looking up word definitions. Eidetic for memorising new information. Plex for accessing my home media files. Weather Line for general weather. Dark Sky for rain. Bear for notes. FastEver [iTunes link] for quickly taking short notes. Simplenote for .txt. Evernote for all sorts. FastMail for email. Citymapper for getting around London. Fantastical for my calendar. SwiftoDo for todos. Wolfram|Alpha for answers. VSCO Cam for image editing. RunKeeper for seeing how far I walk. 1Password for password security. Pocket for reading saved web articles. Pinner for Pinboard. Dropbox for accessing documents anywhere. Live Football on TV for well, you know. WhoScored [iTunes link] for checking live football scores. IMDb for when I wanna know the name of that guy in that film. Amazon for mobile purchases. Pushover for notifications of weather alerts. ScannerPro for scanning.

2016 In Review

I skipped posting about my setup in 2015 because not much changed from the previous year. And to be honest not a wealth of stuff (especially on the software side) has changed this year either. I’m a man frozen in time, quite happily using a four year old Mac alongside the same software I’ve been using for equally long. I’m content with my tools.

What would be your dream setup?

I’m not smart enough to know my dream setup in 10+ years.

But in the shorter term, I want my hardware to be faster, harder to break, more reliable, and have longer battery life.

Categories
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.

Categories
Me Technology

The Setup of 2014

I’m a big fan of The Setup. It’s “a collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.” So in the spirit of it, I’ve decided to do my own. And plan on doing one each year to keep track of how my ‘setup’ changes. You can see my 2013 one here.

What hardware do you use?

Me and my 15-inch Retina Macbook Pro (mid 2012, 2.6GHz Intel i7, 16GB RAM) shuttle between my University dorm and parents house.

At my desk at the dorm is an Apple Thunderbolt Display, Happy Hacking Keyboard Pro 2, Logitech G500 mouse, Razer Goliathus large mouse mat, and Beyerdynamic T90 headphones.

At home there’s a Apple Thunderbolt Display, Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite 2, Logitech G500S mouse, Sennheiser HD 380 Pro headphones, Synology DS411j NAS and a Herman Miller Aeron chair. I also have a Mac mini (late 2014, 2.6GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD) which I use as a home server and as a Plex client, along with four Roku 3’s hooked up to TV’s around the house to access Plex. I also have a PS3 (slim model) and Apple TV (3rd generation Rev. A).

There’s an iPhone 6 in my right pocket. Some keys in my left. A Field Notes Pitch Black edition notebook and Fisher pen in the cargo pocket. And a Chrome Soyuz bag on my back.

For photography I use a Fujifilm X100S, Leica M4-P, Bronica SQ-A and a Sony A100.

And what software?

Usually occupying my monitor

Safari for web browsing. Twitterrific for Twitter. And either Rdio or Cog for music, or VLC for TV/movie.

Daily

nvALT for frequently needed .txt’s. Soulver for when I can’t be bothered to go to Wolfram|Alpha. Byword for writing. Reeder 2 for RSS. Chocolat for various text based stuff. Messages for iMessage. MailMate for email. MarsEdit for blogging. ReadKit for Instapaper. Transmit for FTP.

Occasionally

Acorn and Preview for quick image editing, and Lightroom for the more extensive. Final Cut Pro for video editing. PDFpen mostly for OCRing. Pages for when I need to print my words. Steam for gaming. YNAB for finance management.

Background and utilities

Dropbox, Backblaze and Arq for backups. 1Password for password management. Alfred for quickly launching or finding stuff. Caffeine for keeping my Mac awake. DaisyDisk for hard drive space management. Divvy for window management. Email Backup Pro does what it says on the tin. Bartender for organising the taskbar. Fantastical for adding to my calendar. f.lux for the sake of my eyes. FruitJuice for keeping my battery healthy. iStat Menus for spying on my computer. Hazel for automatically moving and renaming files. KeyRemap4MacBook for making my keyboard more Mac friendly. TextExpander for simplifying the commonly typed stuff. Time Out to remind me to get up and out of my seat every now and again. TotalFinder mostly for listing folders above files in Finder. WhatPulse for key and mouse click tracking. Yoink for making drag and drop easier.

iPhone

Twitterrific for Twitter. Overcast for podcasts. Terminology for looking up word definitions. Eidetic for memorising new information. Quotebook for collecting quotes. Plex for accessing my home media files from anywhere. Dark Sky for weather. Drafts for quickly taking short notes. Notesy for .txt. Evernote for all sorts. FastMail for email. Citymapper for getting around London. Launch Center Pro for quickly launching things. Fantastical for my calendar. Rdio for music. Audible for audiobooks. Due for reminders. Wolfram|Alpha for answers. VSCO Cam for image editing. RunKeeper for seeing how far I walk. 1Password for password security. Instapaper for reading saved web articles. Pinner for Pinboard. Dropbox for accessing documents anywhere. Live Football on TV for well, you know. Yahoo Sport for checking live football scores. IMDb for when I wanna know the name of that guy in that film. Amazon for mobile purchases. Watch Tracker (iTunes link) for seeing how accurate my watch is. Pushover for notifications of weather alerts. MX Mayhem for gaming.

Replacements:

Removed:

  • Schiit Magni Amp and Modi DAC as I forgot to set them up in my new dorm room. I must do that.
  • Wedge as App.net is sadly mostly dead.
  • LimeChat as I just don’t use IRC enough and it was taking up valuable screen real estate.
  • OmniFocus as I just don’t have enough stuff to do to warrant such powerful software. I use Evernote reminders instead.
  • Beamer as Plex has removed the need to AirPlay movies to my TV.
  • Mountain as I just don’t plug stuff in and out as much as I use to.
  • Fitted Lifts as it wasn’t a great app, and it’s too time consuming to enter info in between weight sets.

2014 In Review

In 2013 I really embraced the file system for all my documents, photos, music, movies, etc. so that I wasn’t relying on proprietary software to access my own files. However in 2014 this changed slightly. I really learnt the ins and outs of Evernote, and the risk of long term availability of my files was outweighed by the conveinece of a service like Evernote.

But probably the biggest change in 2014 was my discovery of the wonderful Plex. I used to use DS Video on my Synology to play my media on my Roku. But it was slow in both loading the client UI and the video files. So after I purchased the Mac mini I decided to give Plex a try and was amazed. It fetched metadata perfectly, the Roku and iOS clients were beautfiul and blazing fast, and it could transcode anything into a friendly format for the device it was playing on. It also meant easy access to my movies, TV shows, music, and home videos from anywhere in the world and from every device I own.

It also handled all my music well, and with the iOS app being so good, I removed most of my music from my iPhone and now I just stream it via the Plex app.

Another amazing thing about Plex is how friends and family can access my media files. You give them their own username, and what they watch doesn’t effect your account, and you can even restrict what they can access (home videos, for example). Sadly, the limit is my internet upload speed (15 Mbps), which isn’t fast enough for mutiple 1080p streams, so my friends and familys Roku defaults to 720p to be safe and avoid buffering. But still, a Roku with Plex installed and access to 1000+ of my movies makes a great gift to a friend.

What would be your dream setup?

I’m not smart enough to know my dream setup in 10+ years.

But in the shorter term, I want my hardware to be faster, harder to break, more reliable, and have longer battery life.

Categories
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?

Categories
Me Technology

Podcasts

Podcasts have become a massive part of my life in the past few years. It’s a unique and great medium, and when some of your favourite people are involved, it becomes utterly joyous. They’re often conversational and relaxed. Podcasting is a raw art form that is yet to be tainted by money. They are nearly always free and done out of love.

Last year Stephen Fry made an appearance on Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast. It got quite a lot of press because in the show Stephen admited to a suicide attempt earlier in the year. But newspaper headlines aside, it’s a masterpiece of a podcast episode. The host Richard Herring was a little bit annoying at times. It may be a comedy podcast, but I felt he kept looking for jokes a little bit too much, when he should of been satisfied with the perfect balance of comedy and honesty that Stephen turned the conversation into.

Anyway, it was a sublime way to spend 90 minutes before sleep, and after listening to it I sat on the edge of my bed for a few minutes thinking. It made me happy, saddened me, and inspired me. It did what all great art should. It took me into its cave and spat me out different and better. Not drastically so. It just added another stick to my mental Beaver dam against everything bad in my world. I hadn’t had a bad or good day, I had experienced what most days are. Boring, dull, tiring, and sprinkled with brief moments of embarrassment, confidence, happiness and sadness. And having in those 24 hours just a glimpse of great art makes it worthwhile, and worth slugging through another 24 to hopefully taste again.

Afterwards Richard Herring wrote:

For a few years now I’ve been side-stepping the censorship, limitations and, let’s face it, lack of interest of television broadcasters and producing my own comedy podcasts. I love the freedom and autonomy of the medium, as well as its immediacy.

I can have an idea in the morning and it can be broadcast that same day. With all the hoops you have to jump through to make a TV show, it can take years to get an idea to screen and, by the time it’s on, it has often been interfered with so much by executives that it is unrecognisable. […]

I was delighted that one of my all-time comedy heroes, Stephen Fry, agreed to appear, but I was nervous. I had never met him before and was concerned I might just sit opposite him in open-mouthed amazement, unable to say a word. […]

It was the most extraordinary and electric 90 minutes that I have ever experienced on stage, showed that independent podcasts can compete with and trump mainstream broadcasters and spread awareness about the effects of depression.

Stephen Fry also later blogged:

The episode, plus the relationship I now have with a magnificent psychiatrist, has made made my mental health better, I think, than it’s ever been.

Podcasts, how I love you.

Download the mp3, listen to it on Soundcloud or watch the video on YouTube.

Categories
Me Technology

The Setup of 2013

I’m a big fan of The Setup. It’s “a collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.” So in the spirit of it, I’ve decided to do my own. And plan on doing one each year to keep track of how my ‘setup’ changes. Here we go…

What hardware do you use?

Me and my 15-inch Retina Macbook Pro (mid 2012, 2.6GHz Intel i7, 16GB RAM) shuttle between my University dorm and parents house.

At my desk at the dorm is an Apple Thunderbolt Display, Happy Hacking Keyboard Pro 2, Logitech G500 mouse, Schiit Magni Amp and Modi DAC, Beyerdynamic T90 headphones and a Herman Miller Aeron chair.

At home there’s a Apple Thunderbolt Display, Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite 2, Apple Magic Mouse, Sennheiser HD 380 Pro headphones, Synology DS411j NAS and a hand-me-down office chair. I also have a PS3 (slim model) and Apple TV (2nd generation).

There’s an iPhone 5 in my right pocket. Some keys in my left. A Field Notes notebook (pitch black edition) and Fisher pen in the cargo pocket. And a Chrome Soyuz bag on my back.

For photography I use a Fujifilm X100S, Leica M4-P, Bronica SQ-A and a Sony A100.

And what software?

Usually occupying my monitor

Safari for web browsing. Twitterrific for Twitter, and Wedge for App.net. LimeChat for IRC. And either Rdio or Cog for music, or VLC for TV/Movie.

Daily

nvALT, because .txt’s are my life. Soulver for when I can’t be bothered to go to Wolfram|Alpha. Byword for writing. OmniFocus for tasks. NetNewsWire (version 3) for RSS. Chocolat for various text based stuff. Messages for iMessage. MailMate for email. MarsEdit for blogging. ReadKit for Instapaper. Transmit for FTP. StockTouch for the stock market. Beamer for streaming to the Apple TV.

Occasionally

Acorn and Preview for quick image editing, and Lightroom for the more extensive. Final Cut Pro for video editing. PDFpen mostly for OCRing. Pages for when I need to print my words. Steam for gaming. YNAB for finance management.

Background and utilities

Dropbox, Backblaze and Arq for backups. 1Password for password management. Alfred for quickly launching or finding stuff. Caffeine for keeping my Mac awake. DaisyDisk for hard drive space management. Divvy for window management. Email Backup Pro does what it says on the tin. Bartender for organising the taskbar. Fantastical for adding to my calendar. f.lux for the sake of my eyes. FruitJuice for keeping my battery healthy. iStat Menus for spying on my computer. Hazel for automatically moving and renaming files. KeyRemap4MacBook for making my keyboard more Mac friendly. TextExpander for simplifying the commonly typed stuff. Time Out to remind me to get up and out of my seat every now and again. TotalFinder mostly for putting folders above files in Finder. WhatPulse for key and mouse click tracking. Yoink for making drag and drop easier. Mountain for quickly ejecting external hard drives.

iPhone

Notesy for .txt. PodWrangler for podcasts. Wolfram|Alpha for answers. Today for weather. Dark Sky for upcoming rain. OmniFocus for tasks. Rdio for music. Citymapper for London. Fitted Lifts for gym.

2013 In Review

This was the year where I realised it was important to not store files needed long term in third party software. So I disposed of Evernote, Day One, iPhoto, and iTunes and embraced the file system and Finder. I used simple folder structures for my documents, photos and music and let Hazel do most of the work. I also replaced journaling app Day One with a new .txt file each day.

What would be your dream setup?

I’m not smart enough to know my dream setup in 10+ years.

But in the shorter term, I want my hardware to be faster, harder to break, more reliable, and have longer battery life.