• Living the Dream – 18. Wins and Losses

    Wins and Losses. I shelved this post – after the dramatic events described in the next post. I thought I’d publish it anyway. You will not miss the irony.

    Telecoms

    I left you last week lamenting that I would be without broadband for the weekend.
    Good news. They fixed it. Sort of.

    On Monday morning, I went to the Police station to finalise my statement with regards to the burglary. Upon my return, two technicians arrived from Cyta (Cyprus Telecoms) to ‘bond’ two lines; the only way to get a decent upload speed, or at least a better upload speed.
    With dizzying alacrity, they climbed a ladder, dropped a CAT5 cable, mounted a new faceplate put on the phone point and installed a shiny new modem. Fantastic!

    Only, it didn’t work. There followed two intense hours of frowning, constant phone calls and replacing of cables. As all hope seeped away, the lights turned green. Huge thumbs up all round and off they shot. I ran some speed tests. The results bore a striking resemblance to the speeds achieved before the drama. Hmmm…

    My Mum texted – “Phone still not fixed?”. I tested. I could call out on the phone, but if I called to it – I got the unobtainable tone. So – I’m worse off than when I started, but better off than I was at the weekend.

    Customs

    On the other hand, our visit to customs was astonishingly brief and easy. We found our contact, handed over our log book, signed some papers and everything was done. Delivery of our car and furniture is pencilled in for Wednesday. Or – I just gave our car away.

    I’ll let you know which, next week.

    Insurance

    Insurance was easy. I thought it might be. Somehow, paying over large amounts is always easily done. Still – we have insurance for the car and for the house.
    The arrival of the container will be a big deal. first, it will be a huge pain – but as the house starts to take shape, and the hire car is replaced by our own vehicle, life will feel much more familiar.

    Business Trip

    Predictably – the day after its arrival, I’m back to London for a brief business trip. Mags will face the mountain of boxes alone, at least for a couple of days.
    Unfortunate timing? Or excellent planning?
    Again. I’ll let you know next week.

  • Y is for Years

    SnakeOil

    ‘Last month, I wrote a book, one hundred and twenty four blog posts and made six hundred and eighteen thousand dollars.’

    Well done! It is always nice to see a fellow writer do well.

    There are a few claims like the above out there. Gurus who have cracked the secrets of making gazillions from writing ‘by following these few simple steps’.

    One of the few simple steps is, of course, to wire some money to the guru.

    I am an open-minded sort of guy and have read a few of these ‘written-in-a-month’ books. My overriding feeling on finishing is always ‘what did you do with the other twenty nine days?’

    I’m sure that there are writers out there who write fast, edit quickly and publish in a heartbeat. I’m sure that they have produced brilliance. I just haven’t found any yet.

    I can tell you from experience that there are definitely writers out there who write fast, edit quickly and publish in a heartbeat. They produce crap.

    Books that have moved me contain years of work. Years of thought, years of experience, years of work. The drafting might not take years, but the process as a whole does. At least that is my perception.

    Blogging from A to Z Challenge

  • Email. Friend or Foe?

    MailboxLogo+Wordmark_Vertical_BLUEEmail. It’s all about making things easier and more efficient.

    Isn’t it?

    Incidentally, I am talking with some smart people. They will redesign this blog to separate the various flavours of nonsense that I write.

    More on that another time, but if you have no interest in productivity or IT, stop reading now.

    I have posted, well, whinged about Email clients in a couple of other posts. Here and here.

    The essence is this: I want to have an email client that sits on my Mac, my iPad and my iPhone and that plays nice with my Gmail and syncs perfectly.

    Why?

    Over the last 10 years, far from making me more efficient, email has become the biggest single drag on my time and productivity.

    Email has become a barbarian horde. Honestly. It has.

    Go away to a desert island for a week.

    Come back and turn your computer on; instantly there are hundreds, thousands even, of emails waiting for your attention.

    How I am trying to manage this, I am going to put into a separate post, as this one is getting longer and longer.

    I have tried a lot of different clients and come across some brilliant apps. There are literally thousands of email clients. Many of them however are designed for specific devices.

    Handle for example is a cracking wee app for the iPhone. However, it doesn’t have a big brother for the Mac and it wants to be in charge of the calendar, which is a whole new kettle of fish.

    Inbox by Google is great on iPhone and iPad. Again, there is no version for the Mac.

    I thought that I had found the answer with Mail Pilot, but alas the apps were not syncing; so mails kept reappearing. The exact opposite of what I am trying to achieve.

    I wrote here before that Mail Pilot had not responded to my anguished request for help. I was hasty. I received this;

    Hi Stuart,

    Sorry for the delayed reply. Sometimes after initially installing, the apps can take some time to synchronize. Has this issue resolved?
    Thanks!
    -Josh

    Co-founder + COO

    I have gone back explaining that it got resolved after three days by my not using it anymore – but as yet, no further reply.

    I have now settled on a mail client that I had used for a while a year ago. Mailbox

    The app on the iPad and iPhone is simply brilliant.

    The one for the Mac is strictly speaking still a ‘Beta’ which is a version in testing. It is pretty good too, if a little prone to the occasional ‘moment’ or crash, as I believe a ‘moment’ should properly be called.

    Firstly, I should point out that if you want to manage email from work; that probably comes off an Exchange server and Mailbox is not for you (at the moment). Exchange is not supported.

    Mailbox allows me to defer mails, so that they disappear from my inbox and return at appointed times. It allows me to archive or delete instantly, or to add a mail to a ‘list’.

    The app syncs across my devices seamlessly. It is a joy to use, on touch screens in particular. Swipe here, swipe there – all done.

    It is a really intuitive piece of kit, that for now at least, lives on all of my machines.

    The company behind Mailbox was snapped up by DropBox before the app was on the market.

    Online support is thus far excellent and I have had no crash problems.

    As this post sat in my drafts folder awaiting my approval, the developers issued new releases of the Mac client. Three in quick succession.

    Crashes left, right and centre.

    However, it is encouraging to see the app improving and becoming more stable.

    I am hopeful that it will soon be a full blown version. Check it out here.

  • Q is for Quittrain.com

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    Quittrain.com

    If you smoke – go visit this site. Join the forum and interact with people.

    I smoked anything from 30 to 60 cigarettes a day for 30 years. I feel qualified on smoking. I had a lot of practice.

    If you smoke, you want to quit. I appreciate that you may not believe that you want to quit. But you do.

    Every smoker knows that you want to quit. I know that you want to quit. You know that you want to quit.

    Go the Quittrain.com and quit.

    It really is a whole lot easier that you might believe.

    The site is run by a quitter who goes by the name of Maryland Quitter. He is not selling anything. Nothing.

    The site is supported/supervised/protected by volunteers.

    There is no selling, no judging. Just quitters helping and supporting each other.

    The quittrain.com helped me to quit smoking, It has saved me a fortune and quite possibly my life.

    Equally Quittrain.com has restored my faith in the positive power of the internet.

    When a bunch of people with a common aim unite to support each other, extraordinary, humbling and powerful things can happen.

    Go along. You might even catch sight of a fat guy in a kilt.

    Have you found somewhere special on the internet?

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    After you have been to the Quittrain.com – go check out some great blogs here