My life seems to have become very busy all of a sudden. OK not so much now, with everyone stopping over Christmas, but my "normal" weeknights are now all taken. I've got 2 rehearsals a week, singing lessons once a week (though I may try to switch to doing one longer lesson every 2 months), a defined "shopping" night (we're trying to be sensible, though I'm not sure it's working) and then the night reserved exclusively for WINE.
Singing lessons I have been looking at doing for a while and a month or so back I finally made some more phone calls after my initial attempts in summer ended up being fruitless. The lady I'm doing them with (Jo Cleeton) has been good - I kinda just turned up and went "Teach me to sing better", and she's done a good job at finding things I'm good at, and things I'm bad at very quickly. She's helped with some techniques to work on and I am sure that I will see some definite benefits in the not too-distant future.
Related to the singing, we have recently obtained a half-decent (musical) keyboard. We got rid of the organ, at last! I'm starting to play a bit again (I did piano for a few years at school) and am struggling to cope with 2 hands, though definitely improving with practise. My music reading does suck, though it always has.
I've started using Last.FM "properly" today. For months/years I've been scrobbling through iTunes (recording all the tracks I play on my iPod) but never really used the radio/recommendations/artists similar to functionality. Only when I found and tried out the official application for my phone did I see just how cool it is ;) So right now I'm listening to "If I Can't Love Her" from the Beauty and the Beast cast recording. Lovely.
Christmas is coming. I've been concerned lately about my mum, who has been unwell, so Jane and I spent the last weekend down at theirs and I had some time to talk. She seems to be happier than I expected, so am slightly less concerned but still worried. I'd love to get them to commit to saying that they'll be doing something over Christmas - I appreciate that it's difficult when you're starting new drugs that you never know how things will be the next day, but I don't care. I'd be happier to know that they're with people than being miserable and alone.
So my Christmas plans are somewhat meh. I've got some stuff for Jane, I guess at the moment I'm going with the default option which is Jane's parents and friends. Not sure what I want.
I recently flogged a whole load of CDs/DVDs on eBay. Didn't make much money overall, to be honest I only would have made just over what I spent if I hadn't acquired some jiffy bags from work and had someone not vastly overbid on my box set of Cube/Cube 2/Cube Zero. I am happier for having done so, and making money was not the object of the exercise. I got rid of some stuff I have had hanging round for years for no good reason. CDs I haven't looked at for 5yrs, stuff I bought because I thought I'd watch it again or because I thought it would be cool to have. Anything I looked at and decided I wanted to keep, I did, but that still left about 30 CDs and 20 DVDs to sell.
I am loving my mobile phone more and more all the time. Android is a powerhouse, an up-and-coming star in the mobile device world. The app store/market may not yet be as enormous as the iPhone one, but 12,000 apps is still a lot! If I could say that I use my phone for 3 primary things, I think these would be:
I use (at the moment) Swift as my Twitter client. Twitter on the move is one of the most insanely useful/useless things in the world
- Google products of ALL descriptions.
Android being a Google product it's obvious that the integration between Google products and this phone will be tight, and it really is. Calendar, Contacts and Email sync without any effort. Google Reader works really well, Picasa looks good on the small screen, and the newly installed (for me) voice search is remarkably accurate. Google Goggles is not so much "useful" yet, but very clever.
I bought ALK CoPilot 8 for Android, and for under £25 it is an amazing price - turns the phone into a fully featured and actually very good SatNav. Free speed camera updates are a nice bonus. If you don't want that, Google Maps is useful, but turn-by-turn navigation is not yet available in the UK. It's still usable as a navigation aid, but it's not as nifty as fully-fledged navigation software. It also fails spectacularly when you go out of mobile/data coverage, as Google Maps loads everything on the fly and doesn't appear to cache anything.
Speaking of technology, I have an urge to do some proper geekery again but I really need another PC to do it on. I got tired very quickly of breaking my one and only PC, where fixing it became a necessity rather than a thing to do because I wanted to. Heck, I haven't compiled a kernel in a long time, it just seems like too much effort on my day-to-day PC. One day I'll get round to finding a second-hand PC and rolling my own server for DNS, web, MTA, etc. Having a domain completely within my own control and providing all services for it was a real learning experience.
Work - I'm liking my job at the moment. I have almost pushed myself out of direct customer contact. There's still the occasional period where I have to do the calls but I guess it's a necessary evil for now, and there's nothing to keep you on your toes like having to figure out what a customer means versus what they are actually saying. I am almost exclusively "3rd line" now. I spent nearly 3 weeks exclusively looking into one problem that affected one customer - or at least at that time we thought it affected one customer. Seems to be many more. Anyhow, it turns out that we were breaking a message up and sending "\r\n" and "HELO" in two separate TCP packets for some reason. This was causing chaos between our kit and some mail servers. Tracking that down from the original "The email stops working after a while" report took several iterations and many dead ends.
I am quite pleased though, however also slightly disappointed. The job I went for a while back, that they went external for in the end? The manager for them told me the other day that based on the work he'd seen me doing in the past few months, he'd take me on without bothering to do the interview if he had the budget. I'm pleased because it's SO nice to know someone is noticing that I do try hard, but also miffed because I either didn't sell myself strongly enough at the previous opportunity, or he's admitting he was short sighted :)
Oh, tonight's tea:
- Parsnips roast with crab-apple jelly
- Sweet potato roast with chorizo and paprika
- Boiled Anya potatoes
- Steamed carrots with caraway
I think that'll do.