Busy, eh?

Well that was a week and a half!

Or actually just a week! It started with a visit the week before from one of our Non-Execs to have dinner with a bunch of us to tell us about the Canadian market that he’s helping us get introduced into. I found out that a colleague and I had been included in a proposal for a Client that we were hoping we’d win. It was useful too for me to meet him as I was heading out to Vancouver to do a seminar to some potential Clients the last week of October…

…and so it transpired: I was out – economy class – after work on the Tuesday. The plan was to do the 9.5 hour flight, ‘regain’ 7 hours due to the time difference, meet our Americas President and the Non-Exec for drinks, etc. Sadly, a four hour delay on the tarmac at Heathrow put paid to that. At one point, the pilot told us that we might miss the last flight slot. That would have caused serious problems for us as I was the only one with the virtual reality/augmented reality stuff loaded onto an iPad. We were on the tarmac long enough for me to watch the first two films from the decent selection of recent titles that I enjoyed:

  • Alan Partridge – Alpha Papa
  • Fast and Furious 6
  • Iron Man 3
  • Now You See Me
  • World War Z

So after the long flight, I landed at Vancouver, went through customs and out the other end to get a courtesy bus to the Hilton … which took a little while. By the time I checked in it was 1.30am local time, so a quick decaff and then it was bedtime. Up at 7.00am to get ready for breakfast with my colleagues and it was off to downtown Vancouver for a meet and greet and then do my thing, which went down very well with lots of interest.

Back to the airport to do some catching up on work e-mails using the work presentation MacBook Pro Retina rather than my shite work laptop before an evening flight home … overnight, landing at around midday. Films on the way home were:

  • A Good Day to Die Hard
  • Pain & Gain
  • Zero Dark Thirty (though I didn’t get to see the last half hour, so looking forward to that on Sky next week)

I stayed up until late Thursday night to try to get back into the swing of things. 6 hours’ sleep in 3 days.

Friday and it was in to the office for a catch up and to be told that yes, I’m back out to Toronto in December … and in the meantime, there’s that proposal I was included in which seems to be coming our way. So next week it’s Chicago (and possibly Toronto).

Friday night and it was off to the Roundhouse at Camden with friends to see the Cult who were really, really good.

The Cult Electric 13 Tour
The Cult Electric 13 Tour

Saturday evening there was a party in Epsom to go to, so another late night.

A lay-in on Sunday was much-needed before lunch and shopping and then heading back to the Roundhouse in Camden again to see Lacuna Coil who were excellent!

Lacuna Coil Paradise Lost Tour
Lacuna Coil Paradise Lost Tour

Phew!

8000 RM Cherished Numberplate For Sale

I recently acquired another cherished numberplate to go with the ones on my car and bike as I did think about getting another vehicle soon and wanted a more memorable ‘plate.

But I’ve changed my mind about that, so I’ve advertised the plate – 8000 RM – on eBay starting on 16th April around lunchtime if anyone’s interested.

The number is currently on a retention certificate and the price includes the DVLA Assignment Fee but not a DVLA change fee if required.
I have seen similar numbers advertised on the trade sites at between £8,000 and £17,000, so I am seeking a realistic price for the ‘plate which I’ll keep and assign to another vehicle of mine later on if it doesn’t sell.
8000 RM

The Thing About Weekends…

… is that they’re always over too quickly.

Having come back from Venice, we were out a couple of nights later for the Fields of the Nephilim gig at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Great gig it was too plus we had Vietnamese food beforehand at the nearby Westfield shopping centre. And then the weekend.

As it was GT’s birthday a few days afterwards, I popped out to the Apple Store whilst I was up in Norwich seeing Norwich City beat Stoke and bought her a MacBook Pro to replace her ageing laptop, which I set up for her the following weekend … when we weren’t spending Sunday messing around the countryside paintballing!

Epic weekend. Especially singling out the Competitive Dads – what is with Surrey? – for slaughter!

Meanwhile at BlueCo, I was up to Glasgow training a Client which I decided to do with my replacement iPad. That still leaves me with my old iPad at home which Jack suggested I give him. And GT didn’t help by asking why I needed two and pointing out that I could always buy myself another one later.

Another gig the day after – Seether at the Electric Ballroom up at Camden – which was quite different from the Neph one due to the demographic of the audience, shall we say…

Jack led me astray after a great weekend this weekend – Manchester United getting beaten by City! – and gradually wore me down into saying yes he probably could have my old iPad and yes I probably should order myself an iPad mini. So I did. Two weeks’ delivery but somehow that translates in Cupertino to delivery on 10 December. After I go to Fuerteventura, when I was hoping to use it on the flights. Ho hum.

Bit of a weird time at the moment. A colleague and friend at work died the week before last with a heart attack. I’d guess he was early to mid-50s? Scary stuff, especially as he was into mountain-biking and wasn’t unhealthy. And last week an old and dear friend died from MND.

Makes you re-evaluate your life and think about those who mean the most to you.

“It Just Works”

Yesterday, I was reminded about just how good technology can be when it all works together. This can, of course, be a rare thing and nothing is more frustrating than kit that doesn’t work as it should.

But two things – OK, three – reminded me of how lucky we are these days.

It started with iTunes Match: I updated the iTunes software on my work laptop and then enabled iTunes Match and watched as it increased the number of songs from simply those I’d previously purchased from the iTunes Store (available since a previous release of iTunes) to all of my music collection currently stored on my iMac back at home but now backed up to iCloud.

I was then able to download a track I wanted on my laptop from my music store back home.

I’m working away from home at the moment and saw that there was nothing much worth watching on the telly. So I fired up my iPad, tethered it to my iPhone – thanks to 3’s All You Can Eat data plan – and did a bit of social networking before starting up Sky Go.

I then watched a couple of films from Sky’s Anytime+ feature: new or classic films that are available to you, depending upon your Sky TV package. Streamed over 3’s network at no additional cost to me.

“It Just Works”…

Iron Butt Charity Ride

1000 miles in 24 hours (plus 400 miles to and from the start!)

I’ve signed up to do this: the Royal British Legion is holding an event under the Iron Butt Association SaddleSore 1000 rules. There are several aims, first to raise money for Royal British Legion. The second is to try and take the record from the Americans. And the third is obviously the personal challenge of trying to ride 1000 miles in 24 hours (plus a 400 mile round trip to and from the starting point!).

The event starts on Friday 19th June at 12:00 with riders briefing, with riders departing between 08:00 and 09:00 on Saturday 20th June, completing the ride by 09:00 on Sunday 21st June.

I have sent off my entry form along with a cheque for £30 but I will also need to raise at least £50 of sponsorship.

As for the ride there are four routes, two north, and two south. I am taking the Route B North Anti Clockwise.

The RBLR website and route details is here.

The easiest way for me to collect sponsorship is the just giving website at http://www.justgiving.com/richardhmorris – they can claim the gift aid on your behalf.

Please sponsor me!

Damn You Google!

{shakes fist}

The other day, I turned up in Birmingham and realised I hadn’t packed a tie, so I needed to wander off and find one. Not knowing the area, but having found a likely shopping centre on Google Maps, I decided to fire up Nokia Maps on my Nokia N95-8GB and use its built-in GPS to give myself walking directions. I had been using this application quite a lot since the start of the year whilst wandering around Birmingham staying in different hotels and having to find my way on foot to a Client’s offices.

So I was disappointed to realise that my subscription to the navigation element of the app. had expired, so I reluctantly renewed it at the cost – whatever it was – and used it to find me way there and back.

Now I prefer the Google Mobile Maps application to Nokia Maps, but that only had driving directions and public transport … except that a couple of days after renewing, I saw an article which mentioned the directions on foot facility in the latest version of the software. Now downloaded to my mobile and yes, indeed it does have foot navigation. And it’s free…

Bugger!

Nokia N95 8GB and Exchange

I have resisted buying a BlackBerry – or strictly speaking having one bought for me by the company I work for – for the following reasons:

  1. If I want a phone, I’ll use a phone – the smaller the better, so it fits in my pocket.
  2. If I want to check or send an e-mail then I’ll fire up a laptop and do it on proper hardware.
  3. I don’t want “Sent from my BlackBerry” added to my e-mails!
  4. My Nokia N95 8GB does everything I want: camera, phone, texts, e-mail (I have a special e-mail account set up to be checked on it) and satellite navigation using Co-Pilot software.

But when BlackBerry introduced their Storm, I thought “at last, a BlackBerry that might fit my requirements!” So I spoke to the MD and he said I should go right ahead and get a BlackBerry. I dug a little deeper and found that Orange – who we are switching to – don’t offer the Storm: it’s Vodafone only. And besides, the BlackBerry Storm on Vodafone may not work with Exchange (or it possibly might … for an extra £26 a month on top of your price plan!).

Now as our company e-mail runs on Microsoft Exchange, that rather means that the Storm is as useful to me as a chocolate teapot. And it was slowly becoming apparent that being able to access my e-mail or be advised that e-mail has arrived on the go without needing to fire up a laptop with the Orange 3G dongle was becoming more and more of a requirement, it seemed I was stuffed.

So back to square one. I thought. I asked the IT bods to set up mail forwarding for me, so that incoming e-mail would go to my Exchange account and a copy would be forwarded to an e-mail address I had set up especially for this. I had set up my Nokia N95 8GB to fetch e-mails every 30 minutes and it worked.

Except that replies would appear to come from my own address and wouldn’t be properly synchronised with my work e-mails. So I Googled for “Nokia S60 exchange mail” and found this link to Nokia’s Mail For Exchange.

Downloaded, sent to the phone, installed and set up in a few minutes. Then a few more minutes tweaking the settings so it worked and voila! My Outlook Calendar and Exchange e-mails were sync’d to my phone. I’ve set it up to be connected during my working hours (8.00am to 6.00pm Monday to Friday) and then outside those working periods every four hours – I could have made it more frequently, but one last check at 10.00pm and then once every four hours over the weekend is more than adequate.

And It Just Works!

So I now have my Nokia doing what I want as I want it done.

Free Hugs

I’m a great believer in smiling, saying “please” and “thank you” and just generally being ‘nice’ to people who are usually expecting the same old shit, just a different day. A little bit of charity every so often doesn’t go amiss either.

A friend just posted this YouTube video on their blog »

Look how people start off by ignoring the guy offering free hugs. Then when someone breaks the usual barriers and goes for it, it seems to break the log-jam until everyone’s doing it and there’s some happiness being spread around. If only real life could be like this more often…

The Trials of Trustees

It appears that this October I shall be required to attend a couple of meetings here at Sabah in Malaysia. I’ve yet to find out of we’ll be insisting on business class travel or choosing to travel economy for the benefit of the members…

Now to me, that looks like a little bit of paradise, but I will be mainly sitting in some conference room or attending some semi-formal dinners whilst I’m there. It might be nice to share the trip with my partner, but it may well be a tad expensive for a short break… Still, at least they’d be able to relax in luxury, so we’ll see.