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Aug. 24th, 2011

My little monster

An ipod Touch experiment as much as anything else...

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

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Website wonders

Hec at Door
What can I say? I've been busy.

Been dabbling with the portal constructor (for the uninitiated it's apparently what's involved when you set about building a new website) in whatever available "down time" there is. (Trouble is, short of bypassing that whole sleeping business, there's precious little of it not already allocated...)

The Ross-shire Journal will launch a revamped website very shortly. While that's exciting, it's also jolly hard hard work too. Once you get something pinned down it tends to lead to another, and so on...

In fact...better get on with it:-)

Courtesy

My little monster
The shrill ringtone of a mobile phone breaks the comparative silence of the library.

Half an eye on the child I've taken there, who is sitting quietly reading in a corner, propped up against a beanbag, I scan the computer terminals to see where the sound's coming from. I'm ready with the dirty look already. I expect to be directing it at a surly teenager any moment now. I may even point them to the notice at the door asking that mobile phones be turned off. Is that really necessary? We're in a LIBRARY!

A surprisingly strident voice - which is clearly not that of a teenager - maintains an achingly dull conversation about where she is, when she'll be back and what she's expecting for lunch. It comes not from a teenager but...

Hang on! I feel a column coming on! Ross-shire Journal, next Friday. See you there maybe.
Hec at Door

'Highland police are saying not to travel unless it's an emergency...'

The message over the car radio was pretty clear as my Renault Megane slid to an undignified stop on virgin snow. For some reason I couldn't get Simon and Garfunkel's song, Slip Slidding Away out of my head...

Hmm, now let me see... Friday morning...Ross-shire Journal safely out and the main 'business' of the day a staff Christmas gathering at the Red Poppy in Strathpeffer.

Define emergency... No, the journey was not necessary, far less an emergency. Then again, I'd been designated quizmaster for an annual pre-Christmas lunch Ross-shire Journal tradition. It simply had to be done. A general observation: the roads in Ross-shire had been much better treated than those in Inverness. But then more schools in Inverness appeared to be open, judging by the bulletins on the morning radio. Curious.

Compiling a quiz - a job landed on me while I went out to the toilet for a minute two weeks ago - is surprisingly good fun. Attempting to take everyone's interests into consideration, my initial 12-rounder (always ambitious) was pared pared back as soon as I learned that two of my colleagues, Mary-Ann and John, had been snowed in and wouldn't be making it. No John Macleod, no need for a sports round. And one or two aimed at a younger audience (Mary-Ann being the youngest in the office by a good 20 years I reckon) also went out the window. All in all, good fun and keenly contested. Carol and Lynne clinched the honours (after scores were totted up over coffee - and wine - after lunch).

Was gifted a very weclome hat, scarf and Ferrero Rocher chocolate combo by my Secret Santa too.  

As one who appreciates food and tends not to be too fussy, I'd have to give a big thumbs-up for the tucker dished up by the Red Poppy. Parcels of haggis as a starter were reminiscent of the dumplings I'd enjoyed so much in China. The lamb on a mashed potato and black pudding bed was perfect and the cheesecake a treat. A convivial atmosphere topped it off. As designated driver I'd had my doubts but they were unfounded.

Here's a quirky quiz question for you. If you're a man and you use the toilets at said restaurant (which is attached to the mighty Strathpeffer Pavilion), which exit door should you take when returning to your table?

The answer - somewhat surprisingly - is the one marked 'Ladies'. And not a lot of people know that.

 


Back online


Ten days offline because of an as-yet-unidentified fault wasn't all that bad.

I had some entertaining chats with BT help desk techies in India and read a book. I also ended up being sent a very sleek new black BT HomeHub.

Conclusion: ration online time and enjoy it. Go with the flow.
 


Quick, quicker

Let there be light

Two months have passed in the blink of an eye.

It happens.

Less time on here perhaps, but compensated for to some extent by the establishment of a Facebook page for the Ross-shire Journal. Very low key. The idea is it will grow naturally as an alternative two-way channel of communication and, hopefully, fun.

A friend quit Facebook a few months ago citing "too many empty calories". I know exactly what she meant, too. It's a fantastic tool for keeping in touch but, in my view, needs to be used sparingly. Otherwise it'll suck you in and that time that passes in the blink of an eye? It'll start to pass even faster. And not in a good way.

I've been looking into the possibilities of WordPress as a blogging tool. Looks interesting.


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World Cup musings

Hec and sheep
THE delight of this World Cup for me was the time spent watching games with my daughter - who came to it entirely of her own accord - and then discussing what we'd seen and what was to come afterwards.

She produced flags and worked feverishly on various pieces of art inspired by what she saw. She is driven to create at times and it's fascinating and rather delightful to behold.

Germany 2006 was a better tournament.  Japan/South Korea 2002 was hugely memorable because I was living and working in China at the time and has met my wife-to-be. By South Africa 2010, the focus had shifted to my daughter (now 6!). The four-year cycle of the greatest sporting spectacle on Earth almost guarantees that some life-changing experience will have taken place between each tournament.

I like the summer holiday season - even when I'm at work. There's a different vibe about the place, the e-mail inbox calms down a little (never be a slave to the e-mail, that's what i say!) and you have a chance to put your foot on the ball for a moment and look around before making your next move. Or perhaps I've been watching too much football...

Triumph of the day? Unblocking a highlighter pen cap from the Dyson vacuum cleaner with the help of a bamboo pole, a pair of pliers and my wife. Very proud of the latter: I got home after work to discover she had single-handedly installed three sets of window blinds (which I had fully intended asking a joiner to do...) Hats off!

Random bloggie pics

Hec and sheep
Horsing around with the Sony Bloggie...  
  

Gadget alert!

Kissing Kids
Been experimenting this week with something called the Sony Bloggie (pictured), which I have on loan for 14 days. Exciting stuff for a gadget boy like me!



Since my much-loved but rather dated Panasonic Lumix camera went kaput a week or so ago, I've found myself missing many potentially great pictures (mostly family stuff, inevitably) and am now making up for it with this handy little fella. For a limited time only...

It's essentially a pocket-sized camcorder/camera which makes uploading video to YouTube (or whatever tickles your fancy) very easy indeed. IT MUST be easy - even I've done it intuitively without recourse to the handbook. It could make blogs a lot more interesting (I know...wouldn't be difficult with mine...)

A visitor to the office showed me a variation on the theme and it got me thinking about the possibilities for both home and work use in this multimedia age. Plus it was such a cool little gadget! Expect to see some deeply experimental videos to follow! The high definition video is pretty appealing and there's also a setting which allows you to take web-standard footage for faster upload.

There's a 360-degree lens attachment that I'm very excited about. Might have to ask my daughter how that goes on. My three-year-old son is very, very interested in this little gadget too...



Super-busy work week (is there any other kind?) which is starting to make me anticipate some summer holiday time off. Still trying to pull together a three-week trip to Beijing, having booked the time off, sorted passports for little people and set visa and vaccination processes in motion. Whether it's Beijing or Balintore, I'll be happy enough to spend some time with the tiddlers.

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My little monster
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