Knowing what you can control..

I find it useful to categorise sources of stress in the following ways as soon as I realise I am stressed:

  1. Things I can control e.g. preparing for a examination.
  2. Things I cannot control but can mitigate e.g. the weather.
  3. Things I can neither control or mitigate e.g. war.

This  helps me to focus on available courses of action or begin to mindfully relax if there is nothing I can do.  In the pas coming to the realisation I am effectively a spectator has been surprisingly calming, although not always in extreme cases.

This has been in part inspired by the serenity prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr which was made famous by the AA:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Knowing what you can change and letting go of the rest is indeed a powerful tool.

Interesting podcasts

I am quite fond of listening to podcasts while doing repetitive tasks or walking to/from work as a means of keep up to date with subjects I am interested in.  I try to keep the number of podcasts I’m subscribed to low so I don’t end up with a huge backlog as I always finds that puts me off listening for some reason.

The Accidental Creative The Accidental Creative is focused on the creative process for people working under pressure to deliver creative solutions regularly, it is hosted by Todd Henry.  Topics range from generating ideas to delivering the product and business strategy discussions.  The book of the same name is also very much worth reading too.  Episodes tend to be between 10-25 minutes long.
Agile Weekly Agile Weekly is focused on discussing the agile development process, it is run by the crew at Integrum Tech.  It is a weekly discussion of topics relating to agile development, scrum and running software teams to deliver software on time and at quality.  Episodes tend to be around 15-30 minutes long.
The Candid Frame The Candid Frame is a series of interviews by Ibarionex R. Perello featuring a different photographer each week.  It is very interesting as Ibarionex interviews photographers for all photography disciplines and styles so there is plenty of variety of subject matter and photographic journeys.  Episodes tend to be around 30-60 minutes long.
Coastal Church Coastal Church’s podcast is the Sunday sermon from my old church in Vancouver by the Pastor David Koop, who I find to be an excellent preacher and always worth listening too.  Living thousands of kilometres from Vancouver its great that I can still keep up with my old church via the podcast.  Episodes tend to be 30-45 minutes long.
HanselMinutes Hanselminutes is a programming/technology focused podcast by Scott Hanselman which tends to cover allot of the latest technologies and trends in software development.  Although sometimes there are special issues on non-technology subjects (which tend to be equally interesting).  Episodes tend to be around 30-35 minutes long.

These days my podcast app of choice on iPhone and iPad is Downcast which I highly recommend.

Five years of Endlessly Curious!

Its hard to believe it but this site has been running for five years, I started it in August 2008 in Vancouver and now its 2013 and I am in Stockholm!  Its has been an interesting project that has morphed in focus many times since I have started it and so much in my life has changed over the course of those five years too. I thought it would be fun to post the top ten posts from August 2008 to August 2013:

  1. Configuring Perforce command line client P4 on Mac OS X – Nov 2008.
  2. Basic graphing with MatPlotLib - May 2011.
  3. Running WordPress on Mac OS X with XAMPP - March 2011.
  4. Installing Python, MatPlotLib & iPython on Snow Leopard - April 2011.
  5. Extracting image EXIF data with Python - May 2011.
  6. Graphing real data with MatPlotLib - May 2011.
  7. Finding duplicate files using Python - June 2011.
  8. Getting started with Python - June 2011.
  9. Scraping PDF with Python  – June 2012.
  10. Praise for Python - May 2011.

It was interesting putting together the top ten posts lists to see that I obviously had a pretty hot streak in 2011 for writing popular posts, most of which seem to be of the ‘how to..’ variety.  The other interesting thing is that most of the top ten list is Python related which I hadn’t expected.

Hopefully there can be a ten year anniversary in five years :)

The return of the iPad!

Almost a year ago I wrote a post about ditching my iPad 2 as I wasn’t carrying it due to it being almost the size of my MacBook Pro (without a case) once it was in a vaguely protective case.  Well a few months after that post was written Apple released the iPad Mini which is significantly smaller than the iPad.

I have recently purchased an iPad Mini 64Gb Wifi and so far I am very happy with it as its not much bigger than my Kindle Paperwhite (in its protective case) and the screen size is still big enough to be much more productive than on my iPhone.  An added bonus of the  Mini over the Retina screen iPad was the cost: the 64GB Mini was cheaper than the 16Gb Retina model!  As my original iPad2 was the 16 GB model I’d struggled for space on it, so the iPad Mini being smaller and having four times the storage for a lower price sealed the deal for me

The Mini has proven its self very portable and an excellent travelling companion as its light enough to take on a day trip and has long enough battery life to entertain me through a long haul flight.  Currently I am using a Apple Smart Cover and simple (thin) plastic shell to protect the back of the iPad which keeps the bulk down.

Update:  After a few near misses I have since swapped to using a Belkin Apex360 Advanced Protection Case which is the least bulky tough case I could find for the Mini, it has magnets in the cover flap like the Apple cover so the Mini wakes up when you open the cover.

Travel Accessories

The following are my favorite three travel accessories that make life allot simpler when traveling and also keep my bags lightweight!  I tend to carry a Moleskin notepad, LAMY Pen and my favorite gadgets plus these accessories.

Sony CP-ELS USB Battery Stick Sony CP-ELS Battery Stick

Smart phones are great pocket computers but the one area they fail hard in is battery life.  Portable USB Battery packs like this Sony CP-ELS address this issue by making it simple to charge a smart phone when traveling.  Its ironic that my first mobile phone had a battery life of over twelve days but my much more useful iPhone 4S lasts just over a day at best.

It is no longer a case of choosing between using the phone during flights for music, games or movies or having charge when you arrive at your destination!

Skross USB World Travel Adapter Skross World USB Charger

USB has become the standard for charging cables over the last decade this means it is now possible to charge most devices using a USB cable.  This Skross USB charger lets you simultaneously charge two USB devices in almost any country in the world!

Its a great space saver as instead of carrying multiple power chargers and adapters you can carry this unit and a few charging cables.

Although my Canon S100 cannot charge from USB meaning I need to carry its separate battery charger with me too.

SanDisk EyeFi 8GB SanDisk EyeFi 8Gb Card

EyeFi cards have changed how I share pictures, now I no longer need to wait till I get back to my computer I can now wirelessly transfer images from my camera to my iPhone.  I then edit the images on the phone and upload them to the site or social networks of my choice!

When I am using a EyeFi card I will typically set the camera to save images in RAW and JPEG format so I can edit the images later on my laptop.

What are your favorite travel accessories that you can’t travel without?

Travel gadgets

I’m in the category of people who will naturally fill any given bag with stuff when travelling, I used to drag piles of stuff around ‘just in case’ I might need it. These days I try to keep the combination of items down to the essentials notepad, pen, lightweight jacket and a few gadgets. I seldom travel with a laptop unless I need it for photo editing I just don’t find I use them enough to justify the bulk and weight.

iPhone 4S

Apple iPhone 4S

I learned to get by with just a smart phone when I was with Barbara in her last few weeks in the hospice. To my surprise I found that with the rich variety of applications available on the App Store I was able to do 95% of what I needed to do with just a phone.  Smart phones really are more pocket sized computers than phones these days, I think I use mine as a phone about 1% of the time at best.

At times I am tempted by tablet computers like the Apple iPad but most of the time I find I can get by with just an iPhon. I did own an iPad 2 WiFi for a while but didn’t find I used it as much as I expected.

Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

As I am a fast reader I used to be guilty of weighing myself down with many many books when travelling so that I wouldn’t run out of reading material but since the Kindle came along this is no longer a back breaking burden!  As a Kindle has sufficient storage capacity of literally hundreds of books I am unlikely to run out of books to read on a trip, in fact usually the opposite happens I run out of time to read all the books I take!

The battery life of a Kindle is also so long compared to most modern devices that I seldom take a power charger for my kindle on trips shorter than a week as it can easily that long if not a few weeks.

Canon S100

Canon S100 Camera

While my iphone does have a okay camera, I prefer to have a discrete camera with me most of the time and the S100 is the smallest camera I own.  I find having a discrete camera also has the advantages of saving my phones battery life and giving me much greater control over my exposures than the phone interface offers.

The addition of RAW format support means that I can edit the images in applications like Photoshop or Lightroom when I get back from the trip too.

In a future post I will cover my favorite travel accessories to complement these three gadgets.