I have finally stopped procrastinating…probably

Procrastination meter
Emily Ogez – https://flic.kr/p/6JZ11M

Plans are great. Plans are even better when you stick to them.  I can suck at sticking to plans.  My plan of blogging everyday for 365 days, went out the window about 6 months ago, when I began procrastinating. There are lots of reasons why, travel, work, illness, redundancy but most of all doubt. Doubt that I was being interesting or useful. This doubt is the perfect fuel for procrastination, and procrastination is a special kind of perpetual motion machine. Once it starts it just keeps on going and you don’t need to do anything to keep it going. Procrastination is a special kind of magic, it just keeps going and going.

I have decided to stop procrastinating. The fact is that I really enjoyed writing this blog. I was the one putting pressure on myself about the blog which just fed the procrastination machine. So this time as long as I remember that writing my blog is supposed to be fun and don’t put artificial deadlines and pressure on myself I will be fine.

So you can look forward to irregular posts about my thoughts about technology and what people do with it. Fingers crossed it won’t be 6 months between this post and the next.

Disappointing in real life

Today I visited something that I have seen pictures of and copies of, in fact I have seen it play a part in a couple of weddings. I visited the ‘Love’ sculpture by Robert Indiana in JFK Plaza in downtown Philadelphia and got to see it IRL (in real life). It was not what I was expecting. It is actually quite small, it is only about 2 metres tall and sits on a metal frame over 2 metres off the ground so you can’t touch it. I’m glad I went, but I was disappointed. I thought it would be bigger plus I didn’t realise that it is red and green. The front and back are red but the rest is green. This often isn’t clear in photos.

It is funny how seeing things in real life can be a disappointment. Seeing hundreds of images of some thing or some where online does make it seem a little real. The real thing can feel not real enough when you actually see it. But I think it always worth seeing the real thing if you can.

So here’s a picture of me and the real ‘Love’ sculpture.

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There are times to keep your tech in your pocket

Today I was lucky enough to head to Lancaster County Pennsylvania. I was not exactly sure what to expect. As I drove west from Philadelphia I enjoyed being out of the city and was excited when I saw my first horse and carriage being driven by an Amish man. As I got closer to Intercourse (yes there really is a town called Intercourse) there were more people in traditional Amish clothes driving buggies. I did want to pull over and get my camera out, but I decided not to. As I got closer to Intercourse I realised I was entering some kind of Amish theme park. There were literally bus loads of people in the very small town. A whole tourism industry has grown up around the Amish, their clothes, their buggies, their quilts and their way of life. I don’t know much about the Amish and their beliefs but I did not feel comfortable taking their photograph like they were some kind of freak show.

There are times when just because you can pull out your smartphone or camera and take photos of people does not mean you should. Having the ability to take a photo anywhere anytime has, I think, got out of hand. I saw people today taking photos of Amish people going about their every days lives but for me it felt wrong. These people are not tourist attractions so for me it did not feel right. There was an interesting tension as many of the Amish worked in and may even own the tourist shops selling all kinds of touristy crap (most of which seemed to be made in China) but I still did not feel comfortable photographing them.

I did take one photo today, it felt OK because there were no people or identifying details in the photo.

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Have you ever been in a situation where you want to take photos but you either knew or felt it wasn’t right?

It’s gotta work on a tablet

Travelling is always an adventure. It’s becomes even more adventurous when circumstances beyond your control happen. For me the USA Federal Government shutdown happened. What it means is that all the major museums and national monuments are closed until further notice. This means that most of my pre-holiday research I did is now useless as most of the places I want to visit especially in Washington DC will be closed.

Today I found a Starbucks (they have free wifi) ordered an iced coffee (it was hot today in Philadelphia) and started doing some research. I’m in Philadelphia and many of the famous sites such as the Liberty Bell are currently closed. After a little research I confirmed that I am just over an hour from ‘Amish’ country. There are lots of places to visit but if I can’t read their website because it uses flash or does not resize for a tablet the website is completely useless. I have said it before websites that do not work on a smartphone or tablet computer are invisible. As I looked around Starbucks I noted there were 10 people in the cafe on devices, including phones and tablets. Given the numbers of people using smart phones and tablets it just makes no sense to have a website that does not work on them.

I decided I would venture out of the city. I started looking for a car hire company and eventually used a company that had a website that worked on my iPad mini. What also helped was a map of their office locations as just listing the addresses is not useful for someone who does not know the city. So thanks to some free wifi and websites that worked on my iPad mini have found places to visit, places to eat and even a fun fair all online and I have planned my route on Google Maps, so I’m good to go.

Failing at blogging winning at Google maps

My poor blog has been neglected, it’s not that I don’t love it but I’ve been on holiday. I’m currently in Philadelphia I arrived today from Boston. There are a few reasons I have neglected my blog, limited access to wifi plus the fact on a couple of days I completely forgot. Even though I have been on holiday technology has never been very far away from me. In fact it has rarely left my my hand.

I have relied heavily on my iPhone. More specifically I have relied heavily on Google Maps. Google Maps has helped me navigate my way around cities I have never visited before. I can actually read a map but sadly I do have a terrible sense of direction and an even worse memory. So being able to press a button on my phone and have a little blue button appear on a map tell me where I am has been amazing. Google Maps has helped me navigate complicated public transport systems. Google Transit has helped me get from A to B remarkably easily. I’m have been amazed at how accurate and easy it has been to use Google Transit to get around.

I was even able to take a screenshot of a map of my location when I was on a ferry from Salem to Boston. I know that may seem a little pointless but it made me happy.

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Probably the coolest function of Google Maps (and for the record Apple Maps does it too) Is finding things that are not usually listed on a map. Even though I could look in a phone book I would then need a street directory to work out where places are in relation to me. It is much easier with Google Maps, I was looking for a laundromat so I searched on Google Maps and I found 3 all with online reviews and pictures! So I picked the one with the best reviews and checked out the opening hours and I was good to go. I have also found cinemas, libraries and banks.

My iPhone and I are having a great holiday and I will do better at loving my blog in the future.

Smartphones win again

Smartphones win again! Today I went to the Guggenheim. It is a very popular museum, in fact there was a long line to get in. I walked to the front of the line to double check what was going on. I noticed a sign in front of a much shorter line. The sign said “pre-paid ticket holders”. I sat down on the wall next to the entrance got out my phone and checked the Guggenheim website. I discovered I could buy tickets through the website. So I got out my credit card and pre-purchased a ticket to the museum. I chose to collect my ticket at the museum rather than print one (a bit tricky in the street). I waited 2 minutes before being let in then gave my name at the ticket desk and they checked my booking and gave me a ticket. Yay!! I then installed the Guggenheim app which gave me more information about the museum and exhibitions, more yay!!

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What a weekend!

Dear Reader I owe you an apology. I have neglected the blog and you, but I hope you will forgive me when I tell you why. Over the weekend I walked according to my Fitbit (digital pedometer) almost 20kms!! And now I’m a little sore and a little sick. So last night I had an early night and today I took it easy.

The New York Maker Faire was fantastic with hundreds of displays, dozens of speakers and tens of thousands of visitors. I of course took lots of photos but it will take me a while to sort through them to use in a longer more detailed post. In the mean time here is a collage of some photos that sum up my weekend. The Faire was in Queens at the New York Hall of Science, in a mainly Hispanic neighbourhood. Over the weekend I did some science, I extracted DNA from a strawberry with salt, dish washing liquid, water and pure alcohol. I also did a little making by soldering and made a badge with flashing LEDs. The team of organisers of the New York Maker Faire were rightly very pleased with the event and everyone I spoke to had a great weekend, I know I’m not the only one with aching feet.

Stay tuned for more photos and information about New York Maker Faire.

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Maker Faire New York

Not enough energy to say much today as I’m exhausted after a great day at a workshop about setting up Makerspaces, more to come about that in a post soon. But here’s a sneak peak of what I will be doing this weekend.

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Stay tuned for updates from the New York Faire!!

Advertising everywhere

I have been in New York a couple of days and one thing I have noticed is that there is advertising everywhere. Even when I was going through security at the airport there was advertising in the bottom of the tray I put my bag in at the security check. Giant screens in Times Square, advertising on the stairs in the subway and people standing on corners with signs encouraging people to visit nearby bars and restaurants. Today after walking through Central Park and The Met my feet were really aching, I jumped in a taxi and was shocked to find a TV screen in the back of the drivers seat with advertising.

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One of the adverts was for a service to pay the fare with my mobile phone, I think I need to check that out looks interesting. I did notice I was watching the screen rather than the view so had to make a determined effort to look out of the window. I was struck by how I’m always drawn to watching a screen, it feels like some kind of autopilot.

Do you find if there is a screen to watch you will watch it?