Update: This Time It’s Personal!

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Woof!

So I’ve not posted in quite some time, If you are some kind of crazy fan of my blog and you have been checking this blog daily then you haven’t seen very much. I’ve been really busy with work and that means that I’ve not really posted anything…
This may or may not change, I’m still really busy with work, but with different work!

I HAVE A NEW JOB!

OK maybe not tomorrow… More like a month ago… But you get the idea.

I’ve gone from working for a small to medium UK based company to working for an enormous company based in Silicon Valley, like seriously I was at their main office a few weeks ago and it’s bigger than Disney Land, they even have a turtle pond.

This is really exciting, and it means that I’ll be really busy working learning a hell of a lot of new stuff, but I’m the master of my own time, so long as I deliver I can choose how and when I work which is nice…

In my last job I was almost alway juggling 4-6 customer projects at any time which meant that I was almost always working on something that needed my attention RIGHT NOW, I’m moving to working on a single product just adding features and fixing bugs so hopefully I won’t be in crunch mode all the time and I’ll get a chance to actually have a life…

Work/Life Balance… It’s important!

I’m really excited about this, but it’s also really scary as almost everyone I work with is 8 hours ahead of me, so I don’t really have anyone to ask questions of when I get stuck. This is both a challenge and an opportunity, I’m going to get a hell of a lot better at learning stuff myself…

Anyway… I felt the need to post something as I’ve been ultra quiet for way too long. I’m going to try to post more often, and I’m going to try to not have all my posts be image dumps of Disney Princesses…

If you are a regular reader and you just want my geeky stuff I say so and I’ll try and work out some way to allow you to just see that and not all the other crap I plan on posting. That said this may be the last personal post I ever do and it might be nothing but Pokémon dressed up as Disney Princesses performing Water-Bending forms from Avatar from here on out…

Social Network Privacy + Bonus Rant…

I’ve noticed a few stories cropping up over the past week of employers requiring candidates to give them access to their social networking as well as coaches demanding that athletes friend them so that they can monitor them.

While I think this kind of behaviour is deplorable, and to be honest if an employer asked me to sign in to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn or whatever in the middle of an interview I’d walk out as that is not that kind of organization I want to work for, I’m not sure why people don’t see the simple way round this:

Just have two Facebook accounts!

 

One that is private and has all your pictures of the sordid acts you perform on barn yard animals with custard at the weekend and another account that shows you as an upstanding citizen.

It’s not rocket science…

Sure curating the account might be a bit of hassle, but it should be easy enough to friend a few people and just leave the account to fester, then when they ask you why you update so infrequently just tell them you don’t really use social media. Unless you are going in for a job at a marketing firm as a “Social Media Guru” this shouldn’t affect your chances one bit.

By the by: If you do describe yourself a “Social Media Guru” though seek help, chances are you aren’t. You are a toss pot. This is a completely different rant, but following hundreds of people who are “Social Media Gurus” and posting nothing but articles about increasing your follower count, or maximising your follower potential, or anything that has nothing to do with anything but social media does not make you a guru, it makes you a retard. Having 90,000 followers on Twitter all of whom describe themselves as “Social Media Gurus” just means you have your head firmly shoved up your ass and are participating in the worlds most social and pointless circle jerk.

I’m not going to pretend that I know everything there is to know about social media, in fact I acknowledge that I don’t know much about it, but it’s painfully obvious that having 10 followers who actually care about the content that you are posting and retweet it is more valuable than living in an echo chamber that is a hundred million “Social Media Gurus” waxing lyrical about stuff no one cares about.

Anyway like I said this is a rant for another day…

1,001 Arabian Blogs

This is my 1,001st blog post, I thought I’d do a quick retrospective. I’m not sure why I started blogging, I remember back in 1998 a friend told me that they had set up a blog for themselves and I thought to myself “what the hell was the point in that”, they were posting a diary online, probably on live journal or something like that.

A few years later I bought ohmz.co.uk among others (I’ve also been the proud owner of watermelons.co.uk…), but I never used that because I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do, so that domain expired. At some point I bought ohmz.net, and I installed php-blog, a really simple bit of software that allowed me to post crap to my webspace. Back then I was working as a stage technician and I had dreams of being a music blogger. I blogged about my experience backstage with whatever bands I was working with, usually at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, it was really poorly written and really boring I think 3 people read it in total. I stopped blogging there after a while and forgot about it, until I got an email from my web host saying that my blog had been closed down because it had been identified as a spam center. Apparently there was a flaw in the blogging software I used that allowed people, or bots, to email people from my blog and they were spamming the bejesus out of the internet.

I un-installed the blog software I was using and installed Drupal, played around with it for a while, didn’t like it and settled on WordPress.

My blog lay dormant for some time, I’d post the odd bit of crap every now and then, but I wasn’t really that interested. I had a minor spike when I posted a picture of my birthday cake a few years ago:

But then my blog went dormant again for almost a year…

Recently I started using my blog as place to post random cool stuff I found on the internet, art, gadgets whatever, I wasn’t expecting anyone to read it, it was just so I could remember that the stuff existed. One particular post involved an image of someone with make-up that made them look like a drawing by Roy Lichtenstien:

It didn’t get much attention at the time but a year later I saw a huge spike in my visits:


I had a whopping 40 views in one day to that post, so I wrote a follow up post with some more examples, those two posts remain some of my most popular posts… I was getting up to 100 views a day due to having posted some pop art make-up, and I was happy…

Then something strange happened… I’m not entirely sure what the catalyst was but in the past two months my views have sky rocketed:

I went from a little over 300 views in Oct 2010 to over 33,000 in February of 2012, and there is still time left today for me to get more. I appreciate that the spike in October was due to people looking for ideas for Halloween costumes, I’d expected a spike there, but then the hits continued to ramp up, I got a big boost by posting some geeky Valentines day cards but people are actually looking at the home page rather than just hitting individual blog posts. I think I may be experiencing my 5 minutes of fame…

I actually find it reall amusing that having published my 1,000th blog post yesterday and my views yesterday were 1,337, a number which I think is dear to geeks around the world:

So what have I been blogging about aside from posting random links to stuff I’ve found online? My amatuer photography, my rubbish writing and various story ideas including my NaNoWriMo efforts (Check “writing” link at the top of this page if you want to have a look), Some tribal art I put together a while ago:

A tribal dragonfly

I’ve taken a stab at writing my own web comic creatively titled Blip and Blop:

I’ve also written various film reviews and rants. I think in the future I’m going to try and post more original content to balance out the stuff I’ve posted that just links to other peoples work. I’m not going to stop posting links to other stuff I’ve found, just supplement it with origianal content that you can only find here, that is until someone else reblogs it elsewhere (I’m under no illusion that will ever happen…).

Anyway I just wanted to say thanks for reading my blog, I hope you continue to enjoy it.

Omar

P.S. In case you were wondering about the title, I am aware that none of my blog posts have been in Arabic but I am an Arab (or at least half Arab) and I felt the title worked so I went with it.

P.P.S. If there is anything that I’ve blogged about in the past that you have found particularly interesting or you just want to comment on the style of the blog/give constructive advice or abuse feel free to mention it in the comments. I may get a lot of views but not many people comment on my blog, and it’s cold and lonely in cyberspace…

 

So the Clyde is Pretty Much Bursting it’s Banks in Yoker & Renfrew…

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Anyone in Scotland at the moment probably knows about the Red Alert Weather warning,  The image above is taken from Yoker the River is over the banks.

Below are images of the cycle path that I take into work it’s under a foot of water, luckily in order to affect us it’ll need to rise another 2-3 metres. I guess this is why my insurance costs more for living next to a river…

It’s so windy out there that I had trouble standing still to take the pictures, and when we were on our way back to the house a gust of wind picked Avarinne up for a second…

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RIP Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011

Image credit Jonathan Mak

The internet is awash with the news that Steve Jobs passed away yesterday. While I’m not an Apple fanboy I just wanted to take the time to say thank you and goodbye to Steve.

My first computer was an Apple Lisa, followed very quickly by a Mac 128K and a Mac Plus, if it weren’t for Steve and his vision I would probably have the interest I do in computers, I wouldn’t have decided I wanted to learn to program, I wouldn’t have gone to study computer science, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

I know I’ve bashed some of Steve’s decisions here, but nothing can take away the fact that he was a true visionary, on in a billion.

RIP Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011, you may be gone but your influence on all of us lives on, thank you for everything.

 

QR Codes Keep them Simple!

Following on from my last blog post, if you are going to use QR codes you should make them as simple as possible, for example if I wanted to generate a QR code for this blog post I would get the following.

Put this through a URL shortening service like is.gd and you get the following:

It’s a lot smaller and much less complicated isn’t it?

The Sanctity of Paper

It’s weird I quite often carry around a note book but I don’t like to write in it. There is something sacred about an empty notebook, those first few pen strokes in a new notebook break a seal, but to me there is a certain amount of inertia to breaking that seal, I don’t know why, but it’s difficult. Once I’ve written something in a notebook it’s fine, but those first few words are difficult.

It’s like you have to write something that is worthy of the notebook to christen it or to steal it’s virginity. Why is it that a wad of paper holds so much power over me? I often come up with idea’s that I’d like to note down but I don’t because I don’t think that they are worthy of putting in a notebook. I don’t feel there is any issue like this with putting something down in digital form. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I’ll write any old crap here, I also note stuff down on my phone all time, but putting down the thoughts in a notebook just isn’t easy.

Why is this? Does anyone else experience this?

I Actually Used Social Networking to Network in Real Life!

Yesterday I was in London for work and was going to be spending the night twiddling my thumbs in my hotel room so I sent out a message on Twitter to that effect and asked if anyone wanted to meet up for a pint, I got a direct message from a friend whom I see once in a blue moon saying he had to be somewhere later but he was free till 6:30, I agreed and we met up, and had a pretty good if brief catch up.

I then decided to go for a wonder, I’ve been messing around with Foursquare recently trying to establish a rhyme or reason behind it, so far it’s just been a mechanism for accruing imaginary digital badges as I don’t know enough people on Foursquare for it to be useful, in fact I was fooled by foursquare when I reached Glasgow airport into thinking a friend was at the airport only to discover that he had been there a day earlier.

Anyway… I was randomly wondering about London, a city which I don’t know very well, I checked in in a few places and noticed a notification that a friend was nearby so I sent them a text asking if they wanted to meet up and they said yes so we did.

To cut a long/boring story short I managed to meet people in real life because of two different social networks, sure I’ve used Facebook and Twitter to arrange meeting up with people or events, but it’s very rare that I’ve actually used it for such impromptu meetings especially in a city where I don’t know quite so many people.

I’m more surprised at having used Foursquare for this than I am Twitter, I think the issue with 4SQ is that it requires an awful lot more effort, you have to actually check in at each venue, and you have to have a wide enough social circle who use it. This is probably symptomatic of the fact that I only have 18 friends on 4SQ most of them aren’t active and those who are aren’t even in the same country as me let alone the same city. There is also the awkwardness of 4SQ, letting people know exactly where you are leads to them asking if you want to meet up, while I appreciate this is the point of it, it’s also the case that I don’t want everyone I know knowing exactly where I am all the time. Social networking is one of those things you have to balance who you count as a friend and who is merely an acquaintance, there are lots of people I’m friends with on Facebook that  I’ve not seen in years and with good reason, it’s not that I dislike them or don’t count them as friends it’s just that I don’t necessarily want them to be able to track my every movement and meet up with me at the drop of a hat.

I’d also worry that people would just swing by to wherever I was trying to have a quiet drink or coffee, and disrupt my I don’t know…

I’m not a private person, but I don’t like the idea of people knowing my every move, and yet I obsessive compulsively check into 4SQ wherever I am. Part of me thinks it’s pathetic, I’m chasing some artificial game to get the highest points and the most fake badges, and I’m not sure why I’m doing it…

Help…

iPhone People…

Are smartphones killing polite conversation? Personally I find that my attention span seems to get shorter and shorter the smarter my phone is, when there is a lull in the conversation it’s sometimes easier to quickly check Twitter or Facebook than it is to try and re-engage the conversation. Perhaps there is a hope in the back of minds that something on Twitter will be usable as a starter for the next short burst of conversation. The cycle then repeats it’s self ad nauseum…

I acknowledge it’s rude, I’m not sure that there is an equivalent pre smart phone behaviour, I guess if you always carried around a magazine or a book and popped it open during a lull in the conversation that would be similar, somehow that is less socially acceptable though, I’d never consider reading a paragraph of a book midway through a chat with someone but for some reason I find siren song of Twitter almost impossible to resist. I’m sure there are studies that could be conducted on the subject of why in our heads we think it’s okay to glance at Twitter or Facebook despite that fact that it’s essentially telling the person or people that you are talking to that they are not worthy of your full attention.

Perhaps it’s something that has evolved around the way we use our phones? If you receive a text message, I’d say it’s perfectly acceptable to quickly glance at it and if required quickly respond, maybe in our heads that’s how we justify it? On the other hand I’m sure most of us have been in a situation where someone is blatantly having a really heated conversation with someone else via text message, I think there is a point where is just crosses the line, I’m not sure where that line is and I think that’s the issue. Is there a rate of text message replies per hour that makes it rude? I think it’s a bit subjective, but it’s very easy to slip from being polite to whomever has texted you by providing a prompt and swift reply to being rude to the person who you are physically with. Twitter makes it easier to cross that line I think…

Don’t even get me started on people who pull out their phones and play games in the middle of conversation…

Via Suicide Geeks.

The Clocks Went Forward on Sunday Morning… Or Did They?

On Sunday at 1AM the clocks went forward an hour in the UK, that is the official UK time changed from GMT to British Summer Time (BST) I was at a party at the point which lead to the inevitable is it actually 3 O’Clock or is it 2 O’Clock, has my phone automatically gone forward or not… I think these days most phone automatically set themselves forward if you are set to a timezone where that is relevant, computers likewise will automatically change the time unless you have told them not to.

To be honest those two devices are my core method of telling the time, sure I own a myriad of watches, but I’m one of those people who despite owning multiple watches forgets to actually wear them. I’ve also got a few clocks strewn about the house, one in the living room, one on the microwave and a bedside alarm clock among others. The thing is for almost all the clocks in the house I didn’t have to change the time. Not because they are super smart clocks that automatically change in synch with daylight savings though, but because I never bothered to change them when the clocks went were rolled back, so now they tell the right time again.

I view this not as laziness however but as a mental exercise, knowing which clocks are not telling the right time and by how much they are off keeps me on toes. At least that’s what I like to tell myself. Also it confuses any house guests I get, which provides me with no end of amusement.

I hazard a guess however that many clocks will not have been reset on Sunday, out of pure laziness either because they magically started telling the right time having been an hour off for 6 months, or because the people who own them are too lazy or distracted to remember to change the time on them. Then of course there are the clocks which no one can figure out how to change, like the ones in your car, inevitably when you are getting in your car you are doing so with the intent of using the car for it’s primary purpose, getting you from A to B. You don’t have time to sit there wondering about the inner workings of the in dash clock, which invariable requires you to hold down half a dozen buttons, put your car into the correct gear and drive forwards or backwards a number of metres equal to the number of minutes you want to change the clock by. It’s just too complicated most of the time and to be honest it’s easier to just remember that the clock is off by an hour.