Plans for 2014

Q2 Review of my plans for 2014

In January, I put together a list of things I wanted to get done in 2014, this is my second review of how I’m doing.

As I mentioned in my Q1 review back in April, it’s one thing to write down plans for the year, and another thing to review them at the end. But if that’s all you do, it’s almost like gambling blind. There’s no real focus, just

“this is what I want to do”, “did it work? 20%? Jolly good!”.

So I’m trying to do Quarterly reviews. I suspect… that monthly reviews might be the way forward, but we’ll see.


Pass my driving test and take lots of post-test tuition.

  • I passed my driving test!
    • Woop woop woop. I’m really pleased about this. Not the passing the test per se, but the “nailing a good deal of this goal” bit.
    • To celebrate passing my test, I’ve bought myself a …. road atlas! You can tell I know how to party.
  • I’ve done a great deal of post-test tuition, and have committed to doing a lot more:
    • We’ve driven over the Snake Pass (which was less scary and more fun than I’d expected), and round Torkington Bends in Hazel Grove (‘exciting’ bends).
    • We’ve done some motorway driving
      • Basic motorway driving seems ok, but junctions etc need more work.
      • I’m pretty sure we’ll get this nailed in the lessons with practice.
    • Parking with precision and clue is getting better. I think there’s more distance
    • We’ve done a few bits of “creative” driving, when traffic lights have failed (including failing on red!), road flooding and other things – all this is great
    • We’ve done some bits on single track, national speed limit roads, I think there’s more room for practice there.

Learn a new sport (or several)

  • In the last quarter, I took a one-day snowboarding class, but didn’t really manage to follow up quickly enough to maintain my confidence. So…
  • I’ve booked another one-day snowboarding class, which hopefully will help me find my feet, balance, and confidence. Although it’ll just be repeating the same things, it’ll let me get twice the practice, and lets face it, practice makes a massive difference.
  • Clara & I had a go at Surfing in Devon. It was interesting.
    • We had two lessons, and I think more would have been ideal to a higher level.
    • I’d how much more enjoyable falling into fresh water is compared to salt water.
      • Learning to surf is a lot about falling into salt water
    • “Popups” – going from lying to standing as fast as possible is as much about push ups and leg-bendyness as it is about balance
      • I think being able to do more (any) pushups, and doing more yoga would make it easier
  • I think, if the opportunity presented itself, I’d like to focus on making an effort to have go at Windsurfing, probably off-season, towards the autumn.

Skills I’m trying to develop:

Photography

Heptonstall Climbing
Heptonstall Climbing on evening
Shooting at MCC
Shooting at MCC

I’m not sure that I’ve developed my style much but I did get outside (and inside) and take some photos:

  • I did a whole blog post of pictures about of the Aonach Eagach, and all the exciting Scottish ridge scrambling that entailed.
  • I went on a few hikes, and scrambles, walked through a few fields, got some nice shots of fields, beachs, sunsets etc
  • I shot some outdoor climbing one sunny evening, and got some really pleasing shots.
  • I shot some indoor climbing.
    • It’s really difficult – I either need a f2.8 300mm lens…
    • …or, some great, predictable, one-directional light sources.
    • It’s really tough indoors, and so I think the answer is probably not to shoot indoors, (and expect great photos).
      • The light in indoor climbing walls often fluctuates between bright and dark so much that it can be really hard to see the climber in the murk, whilst being blinded by the light above/beyond them.

Climbing

  • I’ve climbed a few 6a’s (on toprope), I’m getting to the point where I can consider them on routes that don’t require too much stamina, and are mainly technical
  • I’ve tried (maybe done?) some 6a+’s (on top rope).
  • I’ve continued teaching a few people about climbing – from newbies, to indoor middling-newbies trying outdoor.
  • Unfortunately, I’ve not focused on climbing as much this quarter, and as a result I’d say I’ve not developed my rope skills further, or my stamina – something to work on!

Mountaineering/Hiking/Walking

  • I’d say I’ve not done as much as I wanted
    • A weekend in Glen Coe (resulting only in completing Aonach Eagach – which I’ve wanted to do for ages!)
      • It was great fun (but not for inexperienced) – clean, exposed, sustained, demanding scrambling – and great weather for it!
    • A chilled bimble around Malham Cove, Janets Foss, Goredale Scar
    • A gentle day hike from Croyde to Woolacombe and back
    • A spur of the moment overnight bivvy over midsummer night in Edale
    • A fun weekend in Langdale, which involved:
      • An exceptionally warm (also rainy), The Band, Crinkle Crags, linking up to Pike o’Blisco and back to Dungeon Gyll
        • Helped a Dad and his son, who’d set off from Seathwhaite to climb Scafell Pike via Great End, got mis-directed in the mist, and walked up Bowfell, and then walked the wrong way off Bowfell. They walked down to Dungeon Gyll and took the bus home
        • Made good use of GPS/OpenStreetMap
      • An exceptionally hot, sunny and lazy hike up Jack’s Rake, Pavey’s Ark and Harrison Stickle, descending via a path I’ve not done before, below Harrison Stickle
  • I’ve ruled out any significant summer expeditions. If you’re Tim, it’s too hot to do any real exercise in the northern hemisphere at the moment. I’m looking forward to a cooler climate!
  • I now have a proper 4 seasons tent – a Terra Nova Quasar
    • I quite like the idea of an autumn trek, probably as late as I can.
    • I’m also planning to make the most of Winter when it comes.
  • It might be fun to do some short weekends hiking and camping.
    • Maybe as lightweight as possible, bivvying or at least taking as little as possible!

Public speaking

  • It’s not really public “speaking”, but I finally finished editing the video for this Hiking EPIC Rap, and pushed it out there (where it got some minor attention on UKC)
    • I’m pleased it’s out there, considering the amount of time that went into it, the number of trips it spanned, and the quality of the footage in the video.
  • I’ve not done much public speaking really. There’s not much more to say. I’d like to, but nothing has presented itself, and I guess I’ve not sort after the opportunities.
  • I’m not really sure how to break the impasse here and do something. Perhaps you can help?
    • I can talk about tech, hiking, adventuring, life?
    • How do I find a deadline or opportunity to work towards writing something for?
      • Perhaps I should prepare something for Oggcamp? What?

Systems Engineering

  • On the home network front:
    • I’ve started to architecture my network onto new hardware (gig-E everywhere!)
    • I’ve bought a Micro-Tik router to replace my WRT54G that tops out at ~40mbps from the internet
      • It has a configuration interface designed by… people who wanted different things from me
      • So I’ve not got it set up yet.
      • In fact, the only thing I’ve succeeded in doing is learning the factory reset sequence very well.
  • I’ve got some more backups set up even better
    • Yay. Backups are good.
    • I still need to work out how best to rate-limit backups done over NFS, over 802.11g
  • I need to re-architect this blogs backend to remove nginx… or at least reduce its presence.
  • I probably should consider having a look at Ansible

Marketing

  • I read Contagious by Jonah Berger which addresses what makes things go viral.
  • I went to one of @stef’s Play Learn Hack workshops
  • I’ve got some interesting books about design, and interaction and user interfaces which… (I guess?) counts as fits into marketing. I’m planning to read those soon.
  • I’ve got some fun projects to think about, but I should probably not talk about them here.

Programming

  • I’ve been intending to learn more Ruby, but I’ve not actually done any since last time I wrote.
  • What I have been doing is looking at Bootstrap and attempting to understand how websites are designed, in (in)sane ways.
  • I’ve done a few unexciting bash scripts including a fugly hack of a bash one liner:
    • for i in {1..100000}; do sudo mount -t auto -o ro,loop,offset=$i CIV3.000 /mnt/; done”
    • Which mounts the utterly stupid .vc4 file format in linux, since it’s just a ISO image, with a custom header

Lose weight

  • Last quarter, I thought I was making progress on the weight loss front. This quarter, I know I’ve lost ground. Ideally I’d like to be ~10&1/2, 11ish stone , and I think I weigh closer to 14 stone than 13 at the moment.
    • This is mainly diet related.
    • I need to get back on the salad, protein and soup diet, and just stick to it. I know I can make a real difference, but as a friend said, it requires enormous discipline.
  • I don’t believe it would assist with weight per se (compared to dietary choices), but I’ve not been jogging since Q1 and I should start back on C25K.
    • If anyone wants a jogging partner in Manchester – give me a shout!

Blog More

  • I’ve pushed out a series of blog posts I’ve been drafting/wanting to get out there for a long time (these: 1, 2, 3), some new things, some photos, some business ideas and some anecdotes.
    • Despite this, I haven’t published nearly enough blog posts!
  • I still have 100+ draft blog posts, and bunch of ideas for pushing lots of blog posts out
    • So I need to make some of these happen!
  • I’d like to publish more in my “notes on a book” series – I haven’t published nearly enough given the number of books I’ve read!

Read more.

  • I’ve been doing well here. I’ve read a number of books, and what’s more, I’ve even published a number of sets of notes of some of the books I’ve read.
  • I’ve got a massive stack of books to read, and a lot of enthusiasm to read them, so hopefully I’ll continue along these lines just the same as I started.
  • So far this year, I’ve read:
  • I’m almost finished:
    • Peak by Chip Conley
    • How to Win Friends and Influence people by Dale Carnegie
    • Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
  • My aim is to read “24 decent length” books this year, that’s 12 above.
    • I enjoy reading, though it requires focus and time, both things that you have to make an effort to provide. Both very good things though.
    • As I mentioned, I hope I can incorporate sets of notes of as many of these books as possible (all of them?) into blog posts for me (and others) to refer back to!

Socialise more.

  • I set myself aims to spend more time socialising this year. I’m sort of doing that, and I’m sort of changing it I think
  • I’d like to spend more time trying to socialise for leisure in real life.
    • Time spent with friends is always well spent if you’re enjoying it, or improving that connection.
  • I think I’d like to spend more time building professional connections remotely
    • and in real life one to one/small groups, improving those relationships
  • Over the past few months, I’ve done bits of this, but I need to get better it.

Travel as much as is appropriate

  • Clara and I went camping for a week to Croyde in Devon for a holiday.
  • I considered a summer trip to Sofia in Bulgaria (and Pirin Moutains, Burgas etc). I might still do this, but I’m less keen on it compared to when I originally thought of it if it means using valuable holiday which I could be using to visit a cooler climate

So there we go – That’s the last 3 months in summary!

See you in November for the next review!

Where will the future lead?

Q1 Review of my plans for 2014

It’s easy to write New Year’s Resolutions at the start of the year, then write about them at the end of the year, and wonder why you didn’t lose weight, save money, or do that thing you wanted to. Basically, taking one step after another into mediocrity and suppressed ambition.

It doesn’t have to be like that, and the first step was to write some things to do.

I published a extensive list of things I wanted to get done in 2014 towards the end of January this year, this is a review of how I’m doing.


Pass my driving test and take lots of post-test tuition.

  • I took a practical test. Failed it. (Justifiably – I don’t mind)
  • I’m comfortable driving and have another test booked in.
  • I’m still planning to continue lessons after I pass.

Learn a new sport (or several)

  •  I took one (day long) beginners, introduction to snowboarding class.
    • I need to book another one, and build my confidence and control.
  • I haven’t gone any further with any others, but windsurfing and kayaking currently appeal more than the others at the moment.

Skills I’m trying to develop:

Photography

  • I’m not sure I’ve made any super-progress yet in developing my style. I’ve taken photos, sure, but I don’t feel I’ve pushed myself and I don’t feel I’ve come up with anything “amazing” yet this year.
  • I need to get outside on grit and take more photos of climbing.

Climbing

  • I feel like I’m making progress here, slowly but surely. I recently set a personal best by seconding the main, overhanging, wall at MCC – a big personal milestone.
  • I’ve done some outside (in the dark!), but not enough – clearly the summer evenings will make that easier.
  • I’ve got my eye on a couple of books about climbing (which I’ll probably buy in the next few months when I feel I’ve time to read them) which should help me develop various bits of theory surrounding advanced ropework and multipitch climbing.

Mountaineering/Hiking/Walking

  • I’ve not done as much as this as I’d wanted to do, primarily because the weather has not been compliant.
    Chrome Hill (from Parkhouse Hill), Peak District
    Chrome Hill (from Parkhouse Hill), Peak District
    • A wet, windy and miserable weekend in Wales
    • A very windy, cold weekend in Patterdale
    • A gentle day hike near Ambleside in the Lake District.
    • A sunny day in the Peak District gave access to  Chrome & Parkhouse hill – the Peak’s best “mountains”.
    • A very wet and windy week in the Cuillns of Skye, I did get up some mountains in Skye, but not as many as I’d have liked.
  • I’d have liked to go winter camping in Jan or Feb, but the lack of snow kind of ruled it out.
  • I realise I really quite liked the idea of winter camping, and am considering the viability of snowshowing, igloo building, and reducing pack weight using a pulk to help carry supplies into a basecamp somewhere.
  • I have a new book on winter mountaineering that is thorough but not patronising which I’ve been absorbing piece by piece, but a lack of winter conditions has been slowing my reading of it.
  • I need to set some plans and challenges for the summer – maybe a set of backpacking weekends? For some reason, I don’t have maps of Snowdonia, so I should probably rectify that…

Public speaking

  • I did put myself forward for several public speaking opportunities, but I didn’t follow them through well, and I’ve not put my heart into it.
  • I really want to speak about my time in Kyrgyzstan, and I’m thinking of weaving a 15 minute narrative and then trying to put it into a Youtube video, but it’s tough.

Systems Engineering

  • Apart from some really boring system maintenance…
    • setting up better backups for this website,
    • setting up a FreeNAS box with ZFS so I can backup other stuff properly
    • upgrading my network, slowly, to gigabit, so it is not so slow
      • next step is a GPL-hating MicroTik modem-router thing.
  • …I’ve not done any(?) engineering that I’m particularly excited by.
  • Oh, I changed my WordPress theme too, but I’m still not really happy with it.
  • This is something I’m not going to push – when something I want to do arises, I’ll do it.
    • To start with, finding a WordPress theme that doesn’t suck would be good.

Marketing

  • I read some good books about advertising, and thought a great deal about advertising. I still can’t think creatively about concepts or come up with visual puns as easily as I’d like to be able to. I’ll come back to that soon.
  • I’ve got some interesting books about design, and interaction and user interfaces which… (I guess?) counts as fits into marketing. I’m planning to read those soon.
  • I’ve got some fun projects to think about, but I should probably not talk about them here.

Programming

  • I think I’m going to try and learn Ruby/Rails. I’d like to be able to build a very simple web app, and since I know (basic-level) HTML, I don’t think that’s unrealistic.
  • I pushed myself almost all the way through http://tryruby.org the other day – remembering lots from the last time I tried.
  • I’m going to try it again soon – and then see if I can push myself through the codecademy ruby courses whilst building something simple in Rails.

Lose weight

  • I’m doing… ok… on the weight loss front. I’m currently somewhere between 12 and 12 & 1/2 stone, probably a good stone heavier than I’d prefer to be.
  • It’s not directly related to weight loss, but I recently started following the NHS couch-to-5k jogging plan, partly to provide moral support for my jogging partner aka girlfriend, and partly to get fitter.
    • weirdly, I actually found myself slightly enjoying it.
    • that remind me, I need to go running!
  • I’m not doing so good at being super-sensible with my diet, if I’m to drop that extra stone, I’m going to need to step up there.

Blog More

  • This WordPress design doesn’t make it easy to see, but I’ve been doing pretty good at pushing out blog posts – things I’ve actually taken time to write about something interesting.
  • I’ve been trying to publish things I think could be interesting.

Read more.

  • I’ve been doing well here. I’ve read a number of books, and what’s more, I’ve even published a number of sets of notes of some of the books I’ve read.
  • I’ve got a massive stack of books to read, and a lot of enthusiasm to read them, so hopefully I’ll continue along these lines just the same as I started.

Socialise more.

  • I did hold a social gathering, it didn’t really work as well as I’d hoped, but that’s fine.
  • Some of the reading I’ve been doing, is probably likely to influence precisely how I do this, but I’ve not thought it through properly yet.
  • I’d like to organise some more gatherings in the near future, so I guess I need to just go and do that.
  • I’ve not done so well about finding more new social groups to meet every week – more like once a month – I think I need to make sure I get out there and make contact with different various groups I have disparate contact with.

Travel as much as is appropriate

  • I spent Easter in Edale, but I feel it’d be a stretch to count that as travel, and then ignore the number of times I’ve travelled around the country for work.
  • I considered a last minute camping trip to Svalbard, but after considering the pros, and particularly the big white furry cons called “hungry polar bears”, I decided that perhaps Northern Scandanavia might appeal more later on in the year, or maybe Scotland.
  • I think I’m going to upgrade my ‘large’ tent to a Terra Nova Quasar – a four season tent that should be able to take strong winds and rain without making me nervous…

And there you have it – that’s where I’m up to..

See you in July for the next review!

How did my plans for 2012 work out?

I made some plans at the start of 2012 for the year ahead and whilst I managed to somewhat take the edge of this post by posting a “final quarter review” 3/4’s of the way through the year, a few things have changed since then.

Since then, I’ve done more blogging than ever, I’ve wanted to do more public speaking but not done so, I’ve listened to more music and my room has often been the tidiest I’ve known it in years.

I’ve bought almost everything on the internet, except foodstuffs, making things I don’t enjoy (shopping) less stressful.

In terms of eating healthier, by following my diet, I dropped from about 13 stone to 11 and a 1/2 stone.

Co-incidentally, or not, my general fitness has also increased – a highlight for me being a rapid, 5 Munro, winter walk round the Ben Lawers Horseshoe in Scotland, and also the surprise that I can apparently do pull ups!

2013 will bring new things, but that’s fodder for a different blog post methinks!

New Year plans: 2012 final quarter review.

At the end of 2011, I made some vague plans for 2012. Not resolutions. Nothing grandiose. But things that would probably be good ideas.

  • Do more offbeat, adventurous, unexpected, unusual things.
  • More travel. It largely doesn’t matter where, just more of it.
  • Find some new ways to take myself out of my depth

Ok. I’m doing that quite well. It can get difficult to find a way to escape the comfort zone, but I’m doing it.

  • Work out boring things in my life, and work out strange new ways to liven them up.
  • Example: work out a way to make shopping for boring things, fun

Yeah, I’m not sure there is a way to do this. Internet, can help. If only we had Zappos for clothes in the UK.

  • Do more pirate party politics
  • Stand in May council elections
  • Do more education-specific work
  • Develop public speaking skills

I’ve done the first few of those things, but I think I’ll be doing less of the politics. Right now it’s not what I want to do.

Education stuff. That’s a good question, but probably not going to be solved right now.

I do need to improve my public speaking skills, probably by finding something I want to talk about and talking about it, repeatedly. Practice practice practice!

  • Find some new things to parody and satirise.

I’ve not done any of this recently. Probably a good thing, I’d have probably got myself in trouble/created unwanted drama, if I’d properly done some ideas

  • Take small steps in lifestyle healthier directions
  • Perhaps start swimming again?
  • Learn to cook more adventurously

Boom. Doing this.

  • Blog more

Did this. I’ve blogged at least once a month, usually many times a month. In February I think I even tried to do a post a day. I actually have about 60 draft posts in various states of half-completion, blog posts are certainly a lot more frequent than they previously have been.

  • Maintain old friendships and keep in contact with old friends and family.

I think I’m doing ok at this, but if you think otherwise, give me a shout and let’s meet up. :)

  • Listen to some new styles of music

I’m getting into swinghouse, downtempo/chillout and smooth jazz as well as everything else I listen to.

  • Work out some more inspiring and interesting goals, because these ones are pretty much just “try to do more of the same”.

I thought up some. I need to think up or select some more at least.

Target: Langdale – what I learned.

Last summer, I went on a week long cycle tour around Skye and Rasaay. In preparation of doing so, I figured it would make sense to test the new kit I’d bought for the expedition with two day “dry run” in the Lake District.

I got the train to Windemere with my Bike, cycled up to Langdale. Dropped all my kit into a rucksack, and, as it was getting towards dusk, I started up the hill and made camp by Stickle Tarn where I made this video:

Wild Camping at Stickle Tarn, Langdale

Tent: Vango Helium Superlite 200
Sleeping bag: Mountain Equipment Xero 550
Mat: Thermorest NeoAir
Stove: Trangia (Standard 4 person version)

The trip was actually very helpful. At the time I was using an all-in-one frayed pannier thing, held in the centre with what was essentially a large elastic band. On my cycle back to Manchester, this elastic band somehow managed to come undone and, whilst I was cycling, wrap itself around my back axle and gears. This lead to the rather unpleasant moment where my Bike started braking and I couldn’t work out what was wrong. It was on a section with double white lines and I had cars behind me so when I had to pull into the side and walk my bike (lifting the back wheel off the ground) to somewhere I could pull in, it wasn’t the most pleasant experience! Ultimately, I had to cut the rubber band off bit by bit as it was well and truly wrapped around the wheel.

This spurred me to go and buy some nice snap-on, snap-of Altura Orkney 85 panniers which turned out to be just what I needed!

DnB + Ceilidh = Doubly Awesome :: Monster Ceilidh Band

One thing that I don’t talk about that much is my tendency to fall in love with fusions of traditional and contemporary.

Take something awesome and traditional. Mix it with something awesome and contemporary. The result will be doubly awesome!

This post is about a band who certainly seem to be taking the “let’s just double that awesomeness” recipe to heart, but lets start from the beginning!

Last week I went to Manchester Ceilidhsoc – the university affiliated Ceilidh society who run regular events. Playing was a band I didn’t think I’d heard of, The Monster Ceilidh Band, but from the moment I walked in and heard the bassist going out of his way to lay down funky grooves, I could tell I was going to enjoy it. For unspecified reasons, I had about 70 glowsticks on me (as you do), and the hall was coincidently a bit darker that usual so I decided now was a good a time as any and handed out free glowsticks to anyone who’d take them… most people I danced with… the band… and the caller. From then on in, I didn’t stop the dancing and they didn’t stop dropping super-funky beats over killer tunes. :D

Afterwards I bought an album off them and, as they offered to sign it for me, I was very pleased to learn that disk two of their double album “Mechanical Monster” is “Monsters vs The Touch” – a collaboration with Tyneside DnB DJ “The Touch“.

If you thought Drum’n’Bass and Ceilidh could never meet, prepare your ears!

A breath of fresh air amongst other Ceilidh bands, The Monsters have an incredibly smooth web presence. I say this a technologist and social-media-ite.

Website, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Youtube? It’s all there.

Can you buy reasonably priced, DRM-free MP3’s of their work without tears?

Oh yes you can!

A few days after the gig, I was listening to Disc 2, whilst browsing their Youtube channel and realised I was already subscribed to it. Hmm, how could that be? Well it turns out that actually I’d crossed threads with them before.

Their mandocello-player appears to be a semi-active redditor and so actually I’d come across them, way before the gig on reddit and even went as far to suggest that they come and play in Manchester. This is the same fiddle player who doesn’t seem to have a personal website worth linking to from the bands about page.

Instead their name has been linked to the Urban Dictionary definition of “awesome” and for this band, I think that’s about as fitting as one can get. :D