I don’t have much, if anything, useful to say about the death of David Bowie. I don’t own any of his music. Not sure why; I guess I was just into other bands and artists when I was growing up and I missed his most prolific and successful period, but it is impossible to ignore his influence on many of the bands that I love (just about all the prog rock bands) and on the music industry in general. He was one of the most important figures of recent decades and a positive influence on anyone wanting to be a little bit different.
He wrote some incredible songs, and I’m feeling motivated to get hold of some of his earlier works. ‘Low’ is certainly on the list, but I shall see what I can find.
I had no idea this existed until today, but here is David Bowie singing with one of my all-time musical heroes Dave Gilmour:
There were not many like David Bowie. His was a unique voice, a chance-taker who succeeded while experimenting the crap out of his craft. His songs were very much part of rich vein of music on the radio when I was growing up. He’ll be greatly missed.
Anyone that knows me understands my view of beer; life is too short to be drinking shitty, tasteless toss. I much prefer to spend a little bit more money on the good stuff.
I don’t mind the style, country of origin or its ABV – if it’s good, I’ll drink it.
So, I was chuffed to bits to receive a rather magnificent box of real ales for Christmas. My Mum (with help from my lovely sis) chose this fantastic selection of British real ales for my Chrimble gift. There’s not a bad choice amongst them. Everything in there has been utterly delicious. One early favourite was this Camden Pale Ale.
Other favourite along the way were the always delicious Oakham Citra (a personal fave) and Jaipur (one of the loveliest beers on the market). Tonight’s beer has been a lovely St Austell Proper Job, which is probably the tastiest Cornish Ale I’ve had.
If anyone was wondering what to get me as a gift at any point, then good beer is always a great option. Thanks Mum!
I have been going to the monthly #NottsTest meetups for a number of years, and they are always informative. We meet on the first Wednesday of each month – usually at the amazing Capital One software studio – where we have a couple of speakers, free beer and pizza, and a nice chat with fellow testers.
There were about 20 folks there last night to see Dan Caseley and Vernon Richards showcase their impressive tester chops to an enthralled audience. First up was Dan, who showed us some Lego-themed slides that explained how his first seven months at Unidays has gone.
He was the first ever ‘proper’ tester to be employed at Unidays, and his talk showed how sometimes even the best laid plans need changing when the reality of software development team becomes apparent. Unidays is an impressive outfit and Dan has had to adjust his approach to testing as he’s gone along. It sounded like a fun experience.
Dan did a great job of inserting some relevant quotes into his slides. Always include quotes from thought leaders.
Once Dan had eventually stopped talking (boy, he is an enthusiastic speaker) we had the pizza and beer – lovingly sponsored by Unidays.
The next speaker was Vern – the ‘Tester from Leicester’ – a man who allegedly likes tutus. He took us through his ‘Myths and Legends’ talk (famous from his Test Bash talk). Here are a few pictures:
I’d not heard Vern do a talk before, and I really enjoyed his humorous approach. The evening was a great, and I think everyone learned something useful (if only a slightly disturbing mental image involving Vern in a tutu).
Our next meetup is scheduled for the 3rd February. We’ve yet to find a speaker, so if you’re interesting give me a shout and I’ll pass on your details. There’s no fee, just free pizza and beer.
During the glory days of Flickr – when it was a bit grubby around the edges but was by far the best image service on the Internet – you could post directly to your WordPress blog from Flickr itself. There was a configurable remote service that enabled direct posting, and it worked a treat. I used it a lot.
Then, as time went on, Flickr ‘improved’ its user experience for all users and removed this feature. They said it wasn’t a heavily-used aspect of the site so no-longer wished to support it. To be fair to Flickr it was a little tricky to set up, but I missed it a lot, as did a number of other Flickr users.
These days Flickr has enabled direct sharing of images to only four services: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. There is an ‘Embed’ option, and email option and a way to share using BB code (for blogs), while WordPress (the largest blogging platform on the planet) is pretty much forgotten about.
You can use a shortened URL (as provided by Flickr) in WordPress blogs. You can paste this straight into your blog post (no need for HTML) and it looks like this:
You’ll notice that there is no attribution text or other caption that you are required to provide when sharing photos under the Creative Commons. You could use the embed code but I’ve found this doesn’t really provide any benefit to WordPress usage, other than the ability to select a different size image; there are headers and footers that could be included using the embed method, but neither of these show up.
I’ve found a tool that helps a little bit with creating suitable WordPress-friendly HTML that shows both the image at a suitable size along with attribution text. This looks like this:
This at least shows the attribution text. I’m still working on the html side of this for now, but it’s the best solution I’ve found. There doesn’t appear to be a working Chrome extension for this same thing. WordPress at least allow the URL method, but it isn’t very configurable (from the free service at least) and does not show attribution text.
Sharing directly from Flickr would be the perfect solution, but Flickr don’t seem interested in doing so. Perhaps they have some issues working with WordPress (the company), I don’t know, but for now I can’t help but feel that Flickr isn’t providing a very good service for WordPress users. I would happily pay for the Pro Flickr service if I could blog directly (and I have paid for this in the past) but not in its current state.
So, it’s 2016 and I’m not getting any younger. The last few years have seen me display some slight signs of the impending decreptude inherent in the aging process, of which I am hurtling through at an alarming pace.
I’m 46, and for the first 40 of those years I was as healthy as you like, with virtually no effort on my part. I did a little bit of exercise here and there, but didn’t really need to watch my weight or put much effort in to maintain a basic level of fitness.
While my weight has somehow managed to stick to a healthy-ish 12 1/2 stone my fitness levels have suffered quite a bit. This started, mostly, with me stuffing up my knee in my late 30s, then having a knee operation (ACL reconstruction – ouch!) and becoming a bit of a couch potato. I’ve done a bit of pilates here and there to help with the knee and had a couple of aborted fitness campaigns along the way, but I have finally bitten the bullet and joined a gym.
I started a new job in December at the University of Nottingham. I work at the King’s Meadow Campus and we have own own little gym here. It’s a little compact, but has enough machinary to ensure that I can use something different every day if I wanted – treadmills, cross-trainers, rowing machines and free weights (among a host of other devices). They also run a few fitness programmes throughout the week.
Today I did some pilates-like stretches on the mat before setting myself a bit of a stretch by running 5k on a treadmill. This took me about 32 minutes and caused me to go a bit red in the face.
I can’t say with any honesty that I particularly enjoyed the whole experience, but I do feel a little better afterwards, having stretched out my lungs properly for the first time in years. Perhaps I can put off the decrepitude a little longer. I’ll have a go, seeing as I’ve signed up to the gym for a minimum of 12 months. Might as well use it seeing as I’m paying for it!
(Top photo used through Creative Commons – image courtesy of Farhad sh on Flickr)