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Uncategorized

Personalities (Revisited)

Ten and a half years ago, my two brothers, my sister-in-law and I wrote co-ordinated blog posts looking at our Myers-Briggs personalities. My older brother was an ISTJ [Blog no longer available], his wife was an ENFP [Link] and my younger brother was an ESFJ [Again, blog no longer available]. I too was an ISTJ, a “reliable realist” [Link].

Since then, I’ve had various jobs, lived in various places and had various life experiences, so why not see how my personality has changed since then? In order to keep things the same, I did the same personality quiz from 41Q.

As a reminder, here’s how I came out last time:

And here’s what I got now:

So slightly less introverted, slightly more sensing, slightly less thinking and quite a bit more judging. But considering there are only 41 questions to work out the personality, one slight difference in response is probably going to have a fairly substantial change in outcome. But putting it all together, I still come out with the same overall outcome of “reliable realist”!

I could post what that actually means, but I’ve already done that ten years ago (and it still describes me pretty well).

Categories
Technology

Turn up the bass

You may remember a few weeks ago, that I posted about my subwoofer burning itself out.

As a reminder, here’s what the circuit board looked like after I took it apart:

It didn’t look too promising once I had tried removing the burnt bits (mostly just the sealant), but probably causing even more damage to the circuit board in the process:

After a few hours of removing the old components and soldering in the new ones, I was left with a very dodgy looking board. It probably also didn’t help that I couldn’t exactly remember where the red wire went, or the capacitor that was randomly on the back.

But amazingly, after putting it all back together, my subwoofer works again! I really wasn’t expecting it given the amount of damage it had sustained, but there you go. Fortunately (unfortunately) it saves me a trip to Richer Sounds. But, by spending about £20 on capacitors (I have a lot of spares now), I saved myself a couple of hundred pounds on a new subwoofer.

I’m just waiting for something else to break now so I can use my awesome fixing skills to fix that too…

Categories
Pondering

Blogging

My aim when I restarted blogging was to post something once a week on a Wednesday evening. However, this week I’ve again been too busy to write anything.

A couple of months ago, I had a small stockpile of posts so I always had something ready to go each week, but now I’m just down to a handful of ideas.

Once a week seems like a sensible level to blog at. Not too frequent, but still on a regular schedule. I could reduce the frequency to once every two weeks, or even once a month which would be much easier for coming up with content, but would make blogging much less routine. I could post on an ad-hoc basis, but that’s even more likely to make me not do it.

So that’s the options: a. Weekly posts where a substantial number are short/not very interesting, or b. Less regular posts but there’s a strong possibility they just stop at some point. Vote now! [I would put an actual voting thing in but I can’t because I’m doing this on my phone]

Categories
Life event

Run Along

Towards the end of August, I felt like I was in a bit of a rut and wanted to do something different. Chatting to a friend, he had read about a challenge to run 5km every day in September and suggested we both do it. He obviously ended up not even starting the challenge, but I did. And I finished it. (And I roped in my two brothers too along the way.) Here’s my thoughts on it:

Variety – Even before I started I knew that I would want some variety – variety in when I ran, and variety in where I ran. In the end, this turned out to not be so much of a problem due to my changing work schedule over the month, including being away for two of the weeks.

Planning routes – The challenge was to run at least 5km per day. I was thinking of doing some significantly longer runs in there too, but in the end I decided against this. I generally aimed to have runs between 5.1 and 5.5km in length since the GPS sometimes cuts off bits so I wanted to make sure I definitely hit the 5km and target, but didn’t want to exceed it needlessly. Having decided I would do a different route each day, this meant a lot of time spent planning where to run. My ideal route would be a single loop, starting and ending at the same point. I reckon I spent about 1 minute of planning a route for every 5 minutes of actual running. This obviously depended on the route, but some routes were much more complex. I also needed to have backup sections that I could add on if I hadn’t reached the 5km target when I thought I would (which did happen a couple of times). Only twice did I do an “out-and-back” run when I ran for 2.5km and then turned around.

Distance – My total distance for the month was 156.77 km, which averages out at 5.23 km per day. My longest run was 5.66km whilst my shortest was 5.02km, but otherwise they mostly all fell into the 5.1-5.5km range.

Speed – My total running time for the month was 14 hours, 33 minutes and 10 seconds, with an average of 29 minutes and 6 seconds per run. But since the distances varied slightly, and the terrain and the routes varied every day it’s not possible to realistically compare them all. For example, one of the days I ran through a woodland at night time without a torch, so spent most of the run waving my arms in front of me to make sure I didn’t run into a tree. Knowing that I would have to run every day, I deliberately ran at a pace that was comfortable, rather than going full out (“marathon not a sprint”). Since none of my runs were races, there was also no incentive to actually run fast. My fastest run was one of the “out-and-backs” along a straight country road, which shows that turning corners and crossing other roads slows the pace down. My fastest run was on the final day, probably because I knew it was all over and I knew I didn’t have to run again the next day. [That’s what happens when you write a blog post with three days of activity left to do.]

Anyway, here’s it all plotted on a slightly complicated graph:

As can be seen, there’s not much of a trend across the month in terms of distance or time, other than a slightly above average length run is often followed by a slightly below average length run. The speed has also stayed fairly consistent across the month, although there is a potential increase towards the end of the month. This is probably because I knew what I was in for towards the end so I knew I could go a bit faster without having to pace myself for another 20-something days.

The hardest part wasn’t actually the running though. The hardest part wasn’t even finding the time to go for a run each day. The hardest part was probably actually having the motivation to go out running again each day. The weather was never particularly bad and the sunset/sunrise times were still reasonable, but it was sometimes a struggle to want to run again. Generally though, once I had started running it didn’t feel as bad.

Now that I’ve achieved this, am I pleased? Yes. Although I feel that I’m more pleased that I don’t have to run tomorrow. Was this the different thing in my life that I was looking for? Probably not, but it was fun to try. Will I do it again? No. Well, maybe. At least not until this is so far in the past that I’ve forgotten about how painful it was.

Categories
Miscellaneous

Kebabs, part 2

This evening I went to the other kebab shop near me, which has now reopened following its refurbishment. Sadly they wouldn’t sell me a kebab (probably because I went in two minutes before they closed), so I had the chicken burger instead. It looks like they do a proper “cheap kebab”, but I can’t confirm it at this time.

(Apologies for the short and boring post, but I couldn’t write it yesterday as my web host was down, and I’ve been at the pub this evening.)

Categories
Technology

Technology Update

Just a quick post today as I’m busy, and it’s Wednesday now and I had forgotten I had to write something.

Mobile phone

In case you were wondering, my mobile phone is back. Well, my original mobile phone couldn’t be fixed, but it’s been replaced with an identical one. Except that this one is white (my old one was black), making it my second ever white mobile phone.

Laptop

My laptop battery has out-gassed (again). I wrote previously about how my (then) three and a half years old laptop battery expanded and needed replacing. Three and a half years on, it has happened again. I could share some photos but it looks exactly the same as previously. At seven years old, it’s not worth replacing the battery so it will have to be plugged in for it to work. But my new desktop has mostly made my laptop redundant.

Subwoofer

My surround sound system is around 13 years old now. I was at home last week and I heard a crash which I assumed came from upstairs. A few minutes later I smelt something like burnt matches. A bit of investigating found it came from my subwoofer. Taking it apart found some damage to the capacitors, the board and some insulating substance applied to the surface. Talking to a microelectronics expert, the life expectancy of electrolytic capacitors is around 13 years before they start to overheat so it’s right on trend. If I can replace them, I might be able to get it to work again, but the damage to the board (including some possibly caused by me) looks quite substantive. If I can’t fix it, I’ll be adding a new subwoofer to my Christmas wishlist.

Categories
Miscellaneous

Kebabs

Sometimes I blog some top notch investigative work (if I do say so myself), sometimes I blog about kebabs.

There are two kebab shops near me. These are both the “cheap-take-away-type-of-kebab-with-piles-of-cheap-meat-stuffed-into-cheap-pitta-bread” types of kebab shop.

There’s also a Mediterranean restaurant near me, which features kebabs on its menu. I often forget it does takeaway as it’s more of a restaurant, but it does also do takeaway. Because it’s also a proper restaurant, it’s a much more upmarket place than the two other kebab shops. On a visit to this restaurant kebab shop last year, I was suprised that it served its takeaway kebabs deconstructed with the meat in one container, the salad in another and the bread as a separate roll. As I say I was suprised, but chalked this one up to it being a more upmarket restaurant kind of place.

Recently, one of the two kebab shops was closed for refurbishment for a really long time and it seemed like it would never reopen but it did. Last week I went for the first time since it reopened and it definitely looks better inside than it did. However, the kebab was now served deconstructed.

It now looks much more like the meal from the upmarket restaurant kebab place. The cheap pitta has been replaced with a chunk of bread, the meat is served in a separate tub and the price is probably higher (I can’t remember exactly what it was before). Either way, it’s no longer the same experience of having a kebab. I guess I’ll just have to go to the other kebab shop instead…

But no, that one is also now closed for refurbishment. What if that one decides to go ‘upmarket’? What if that one starts selling deconstructed kebabs? Where am I going to go for my cheap low quality kebabs?

Categories
Miscellaneous

A History of Mobile Phones

Whilst I wait for my mobile phone to be repaired/replaced, I thought I’d look back in a retrospective of all my previous phones.

See the source image
Siemens A50

Siemens A50

I got my first mobile phone on my 15th birthday. Phones didn’t do much more than phone calls/texts in those days, but I do remember it didn’t have Snake which all my Nokia-owning friends were playing [according to wikipedia this phone had Stack Attack and Balloon Shooter]. As with all good phones of that time, it had removable covers meaning you could change the look of your phone depending on how you felt. Whatever happened to removal phone covers?

See the source image
Siemens CX65

Siemens CX65

I won my next phone in a competition on the Siemens website. It probably didn’t get many entrants as in a separate competition I also won the stuffed toy mascots, a dinosaur and a ragged girl doll (these went to a charity shop several years ago). This was my first foray into phones with an unusual input method (in this case a joystick).

See the source image
LG U400

LG U400

My next phone featured a “DJ wheel” as the input method and was also my first slider phone. I can’t remember much about it now other than that the DJ wheel was entirely unnecessary and rather gimmicky.

See the source image
BlackBerry Pearl 8120

BlackBerry Pearl 8120

I had been hearing about BlackBerry phones for a while, but had always considered them too business oriented. I then came across the Pearl 8120 with its unusual double letter keyboard and its input ball (a new feature for BlackBerrys). It took a while to get used to the keyboard, but once used to it, it was much faster than the old style conventional input. I liked this phone so much that I convinced several other friends to also get BlackBerrys (although not all stayed with BlackBerry as long as I did).

BlackBerry Bold 9700

BlackBerry Bold 9700

I then moved onto a full keyboard BlackBerry, the Bold 9700 which was the first BlackBerry to feature an optical touchpad. This was a solid phone and again, after a few days of using the full keyboard, it became instinct to use and far faster than any other input method.

BlackBerry Bold 9900

BlackBerry Bold 9900

This phone was probably the pinnacle of the non-smartphone BlackBerrys. It looked sleek, it ran fast and it had the right size keyboard for fast typing. It didn’t do anything the previous phones couldn’t, but it did it all better. Unfortunately for it (and BlackBerry) the age of the smartphone was rising.

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BlackBerry Z10

BlackBerry Z10

This was BlackBerry’s first attempt at a smartphone on their own BlackBerry 10 operating system. It also ran (some) Android apps, but this is probably one of my least favourite phones I’ve ever owned (the DJ wheel phone wins that one). This was the first phone I got in white. And probably the last.

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BlackBerry Priv

BlackBerry Priv

Following the events detailed last week, this is the phone I’m now back to (temporarily) using. It’s got a relatively large screen (for watching videos) and a slide out keyboard (for typing things). The best of both worlds surely? Not really, as I always forget about the slide out keyboard and typing on it never quite feels right. Practice might improve this, but the on-screen keyboard is far more accessible (but still far from perfect).

BlackBerry Key2

BlackBerry Key2

This is my favourite of the recent BlackBerrys (and in my top three phones of all time). This is also the second phone I’ve won in a competition. I was at the launch day party for this phone in London and my number got picked in the prize draw. This phone had the keyboard and it ran Android. The only downside was that having a physical keyboard meant a reduced screen size which isn’t ideal for watching videos. Oh, and it wasn’t waterproof.

See the source image
Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite

Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite

Given the lack of recent BlackBerry smartphones, and my urgent need for a new phone, I was forced to move away in to the world of the Samsung Galaxy series. Its large screen makes content viewing easy, but typing on a touchscreen has never been as fast as the heady days of typing on a BlackBerry Bold. And unfortunately, unlike the original Galaxy S10 this is based on, this phone isn’t waterproof either.

Next phone?

Who knows what’s next? I’m still hoping they’ll fix my current phone and return it to me. If I have to get a replacement again, I’ll probably get the same again or something similar. For now at least anyway. It looks like there could be a new BlackBerry on the way

Categories
Life event

Lightning Strikes Twice

I was planning to write the first part of this post at some point, but the second part is not what I wanted to write…


Back in January, I was out walking near Stonehenge in some fairly heavy rain. I had my waterproof jacket and trousers on and was feeling nice and dry. I stopped to took the occasional photo on my mobile, but otherwise it stayed in my trouser pocket, underneath my waterproof trousers.

When I got back to my hotel, I noticed the phone battery was low (not surprising since I’d had the GPS on all day), so I put it on to charge whilst I went off for a shower. When I returned, it had got itself stuck in a loop where it was turning on, coming up with some problem and then restarting again. It was also having problems charging and whatever I did, I couldn’t get it to start up again.

I do have mobile phone insurance which I have had to use once before. For a long time I was considering cancelling it as I hadn’t used it for so long, but fortunately I hadn’t gotten round to it yet. Unfortunately though, my BlackBerry Key2 wasn’t saveable, and even more unfortunately, as a non-mainstream phone, they couldn’t send me a direct replacement. I chose the cash replacement option and went off to get a more up to date Samsung S10 Lite.


Fast forward to this week, and on Monday I was heading home from work. Shortly before I got off the train, there was a very heavy downpour of rain which showed no signs of stopping (and didn’t for a couple of hours). Having learnt from my previous experience, I put my phone into the pocket of my waterproof jacket and didn’t think any further about it (although you can probably see where this is going…)

I was using my phone all evening, and it was only shortly before bed when I noticed that there was some condensation around the camera lenses. I turned the phone off and put it in a bag of rice to get the water out (as recommended on the internet).

The next morning I returned to my phone, and yes, it had worked and was now dried out. Unfortunately, it also wouldn’t turn back on again. I do wonder whether it would still work if I’d just left it on, or whether it would eventually have stopped working anyway as the insides dried out.

Either way, I’m glad that I still have the mobile phone insurance. After not needing it for over 5 years, I’ve now used it twice in eight months. Are mobile phones more susceptible to water damage now? Is the rain worse than it used to be? Am I just outside more? Whatever the answer, I’m back to the olden mobile phone-less days* until I find out whether my phone can be repaired or needs to be replaced again.

(*I am using an old phone temporarily, but I’m not planning to actually install any apps on it as it is, hopefully, just temporary.)

Categories
Discussion

Our survey says…

Whilst writing last week’s post, I was reminded of another similar thing.

Many years at university, I signed up for a survey website. It was a very simple premise, complete a survey and earn two points. When you get to 10 points you could trade them in for vouchers.

The system starts off by giving 6 points for signing up and proving that you’re a student, so after only 2 surveys you qualified for your first voucher (at least that’s how I remember it – it was several years ago).

All of the surveys started with a disclaimer that depending on your answers you could be selected out. The first questions were all about demographics. If they only wanted 10 males aged 18-24, and you happened to be the eleventh, you got kicked out of the survey and didn’t get any credits for taking part.

After receiving a lot of complaints (I may have done), they changed it so that if you got filtered out, you went into a prize draw. I don’t remember what the exact prize was (possibly an iPod) but I wasn’t particularly interested and the odds were so low that I probably wasn’t going to win.

Sometimes you could get even further through a survey before getting kicked out. One of the surveys I did was to do with gin-makers and their marketing campaigns. After various questions on drinking frequency, location etc, as soon as you answer that you didn’t drink gin, you got kicked out of the survey.

After a few times of being sent the same quiz, I realised that if I said “yes” to drinking gin, and a few thoughts on whether I had heard of their products, I could make it all the way through the survey.

Yes, it possibly skewed their survey results, but it’s their fault for designing such a terrible survey where the only way of getting a reward is to tell them the answers they want to hear. After spending several minutes of answering questions to only get a chance of winning a prize draw, who wouldn’t go for the more immediate reward? Particularly as I was simply trying to get to the next voucher qualification level so I could close my account down (which I did do eventually).

So what’s the moral of the story? If you’re going to have people filling in most of a survey (or going all the way to give blood), give them sort of actual reward for that, maybe just one point. But probably also don’t give them two points if they just answer “yes” to everything in your survey.