Adieu

Posted: 10/23/2014 in General

No finer word can be said of a man than; he was loved, and he loved all. It is with a heavy heart this month I have said goodbye to my father and my friend. I embed for you the poem “The Dash” by Linda Ellis. This was read through my fathers eulogy and it seems fitting to life lived…

I love the latest tech and try to keep up on current technology/gadget news. It excites me! I am constantly amazed at the advancements in my life time. It astounds me that my mums family were the only one in their street that had a TV! I am now a product of my (technological) generation, though as a child nothing could be further from the truth.
Growing up, our household couldn’t afford much – my parents made enough to get by, and we could afford little luxuries. What luxuries we did have – family holiday abroad – were saved for and counterbalanced by the use of cheaper Scandinavian supermarkets, and no-brand “members” only clothing shops. When it came to technology (computers or above basic mountain bikes) if I wanted it, I had to earn it.

By the age of 13, I had earned/saved enough money from two paper rounds a day and a Saturday job, to purchase my first computer from my mums catalogue. It was basic! (I think) It had 500mb hard drive and 16mb ram (It ran Doom and Fury 3). A few computers later, I got a custom rig, but whilst I now had the computer, we didn’t have the internet. I was forced to rely on the kindness of my friends to download the updates to “pod bot” to enable me to play Counter Strike – or visit their houses to play network Command & Conquer.

Today, I follow the technology and gadget blogs, keep my iPhone with me at all times and can connect to my home server from anywhere in the world. I’ve come along way… My wife however, was crowbar’d into the “smart” way of life when she inherited my iPhone 4S last year. A point we discussed and are both agreed on is technology and our kids. Dragon can occasionally “play” with our phones. We’ve got a number of counting, dexterity and alphabet apps that further/continue Dragon’s general education and teach her about the technology with which she will grow up. Interestingly, this practice has raised a few (albeit silent) opinions between work colleagues and family members. Whilst no one has openly discussed their thoughts with us on the matter, were British, we wouldn’t do that, we’ve heard through the great vine of their opinions.

Most people (parent or not) have a view on the topic “toddlers/children playing with smart phones” and it generally falls into one of two categories (depending on your generation):

  1. let them be kids. Wooden blocks, trains and dolls
  2. They will grow up with this, they might as well learn it now

I fall into both. Dragon (and Unicorn) are growing up in an age where technology is all around them. I work from home (with the occasional meeting out), and see alot of my wife and children, so they are around the technology I work with every day. I’ve implemented a few home gadgets to make my working life easier, but also extend the family capabilities (e.g. home servers) – however I don’t feel the technology they see every day should define them!

I won’t lie, as parents we are tired and occasionally need a break. We could easily give Dragon the phone to pacify her, or put the TV on (TV is a very last resort) – but we don’t. As a treat, Dragon gets to play on our phones/tablet – but that’s a treat. The other 94.9% of the time, we’re reading, writing, drawing, running, playing, singing and all the other fun things you should do with a toddler. As any one of my family members will tell you, her love affair for Thomas the tank engine knows no bounds. She builds tracks, has races, organises the engines to partake in deputations with the fat controller – but technology is all around us, every day. A useful titbit we’ve taught Dragon is to use the voice recognition software within our phones in case of an emergency “call daddy/mummy”. This is a practical skill, that can be put to good use!

Like any self-respecting 2014 toddler, he can swipe, pat and jab at games on a smartphone or tablet, but smartphone games aren’t real games. They’re interactive dumbshows designed to sedate suicidal commuters – Charlie Brooker

Almost daily, the media reports something different about children and the use of technology (e.g. A little video gaming ‘linked to well-adjusted children’Pupils ‘addicted to tablet computers’, teachers warnWant to silence a two-year-old? Try teaching it to ride a motorbike. I’m sure most modern parents can empathise with what Charlie went through at some point in their parenting career. Whilst we are not teaching Dragon to play Angry birds or even Doodle Jump, the ‘games’ we do play are an extension of what we do off-line. Drawing apps, where we can draw a track to then be made later, or alphabet games where we learn to spell. Essential tools in the arsenal of a child.

I guess the point of this blog post is to provide a self assuring mind dump, that what we are doing is right for our children. Whilst people have their views on toddlers and children using technology/gadgets in their every day lives, we have a structured approach to it. It’s not abused, it’s not obsessed over and we as parents, don’t immerse ourselves into our smart phones and ignore the children (that’s the other side of the coin).

Following the success of my previous posts Sync Facebook Events and Birthdays to iPhone Calendar (for FREE!) and Sync Facebook Events (Birthdays and Events) to iPhone/iPad (Free) – Revisited, I’ve had a number of requests on how to unsync Facebook from your iPhone/iPad.

It’s a fairly easy process to follow, all you need for this is your iPhone/iPad.

Within the Calendar app, click on calendars located at the bottom of the screen. When the list of All calendars appears, scroll down until you see Subscribed or in my case (I am using iOS7), FACEBOOK. Simply uncheck the calendars you wish to unsync.

They will now no longer appear within the calendar app.

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thanks

Look Back

Picture the scene: You’ve just spent over £9.00 on a new sketch book. You can’t wait to get it home and put your trusty Stabilo 189/46 Sensor Pen Fineliner 0.3mm (black of course) to paper. The satisfaction of the smooth lines on the crisp off white, textured paper. No marks from overleaf drawings, seeped through. No bends, no indentations… just crisp, simple paper perfection. At university, nothing would give me greater pleasure or satisfaction than the (often overzealous and unconsidered) actions of sketch book initiation. How life has changed…

It’s been well over a year and a half (1 year 7 months, 6 days, to be exact) since my last blog post, and I feel I ought to show face. A renewed ambition to update vivilanco.com when I can (ideally every two weeks) doesn’t start as a cheery one, but I feel I owe you a little back story.

In my time away, life didn’t stand still. Without going all emo on you, My family grew. A new addition rendered us immeasurably elated, but around the same time, the (not so subtle) realisation that our time on this earth is limited struck hard. My father recieved the terrible (but not so shocking) news that he had developed bladder cancer. At the time, my father was over weight and lazy, smoked, and didn’t do what he could to avert the overwhelming odds himself. Now I appreciate it may sound harsh, but with lifestyle and health acting as negative factors, the odds and his health were against him*. What knocked us for six was the form of cancer that had manifested within the bladder wall: Urinary bladder Sarcomatoid Carcinoma (carcinosarcoma)… “Sarcomatoid Bladder Cancer” to you and me. At the time of diagnosis, we were forced to realise how rare this cancer was, and how bleak the outcome looks to be. Neither the Doctors or Consultants had heard of this type of cancer and both required to research it further prior to treatment. Their research revealed that there were less than 90 patients word wide that had been medically documented/wrote about in a 10 year period. Those that were wrote about, less than 23% were available for follow-up after 2 years. This looked bleak, but a number of meetings with Consultants and Doctors resulted in the agreement  that the only treatment that could help is palliative radio therapy. This would look to reduce the size of the tumour and make dad feel more comfortable. Sadly about a year since diagnosis, the cancer has acted up and resulted in kidney function being reduced by 90% and a very restrictive diet. It’s been hard for us all, but as a family we are getting through it – and we are working with him to improve his quality of life where possible.
Until now, I’ve not spoken of this outside my immediate family. Not even many of my friends know. It’s been hard but we’re strong.

* Facts:

  • Bladder cancer is the seventh most common cancer in the UK.
  • Around 10,400 people were diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2011 in the UK, that’s 28 people every day.
  • Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in UK men, with around 7,500 new cases diagnosed in 2011.
    ~
  • Smoking is the major preventable risk factor for bladder cancer and causes around 35% of cases in the UK each year.
    (see more for yourself at http://www.cancerresearchuk.org > filter to bladder )

Now, of course – life isn’t that cruel! I have had many a wonderful occurrence in the last year and a half! I now have two children (here one referred to as Dragon and Unicorn - your the internet, I don’t know/trust you). Dragon is really proud of her little Unicorn, and both growing/developing so fast! You will hear more as the blog develops I think… Work (Change this Limited) has been a high octane thrill ride, developing and implementing  Business Improvement Platforms for our blue chip customers – working within the SAP platforms, we’ve thought outside the box – I will post the portfolio as soon as its ready. Until then, take a look at the company website http://changethislimited.co.uk/.

Moving Forward

With the renewed effort on my blog, I delved into the depths of the archives, folders and previous hard drives to find out “what’s in my past” – I have an extensive array of  “crap” I didn’t realise! This blog used to look at technology, graphical design and website development related content. Whilst it still will, I will be opening up the categories – it will be my bib of world wide web dribble, as it were. My catch all for life, tech, gadgets – the lot.

With this, I’ve recently become obsessed with Sugru. Sugru, incase you didn’t know, is a “self-setting rubber that can be formed by hand. It moulds like play-dough, bonds to almost anything and turns into a strong, flexible silicone rubber overnight”. Now being the tongue-in-cheek sod that I am, I tweeted @Sugru with a view to getting some for free…

Here’s hoping Amy can oblige – but I don’t know what a “Sugru Challenge” is. Having Googled the term, I can only assume that Instructables are the way forward. I await Amy’s response with eager anticipation!

Recently, Lifehacker and Gizmodo served up a UK alternative to their flagship american sites. Lifehacker.co.uk and gizmodo.co.uk. Whilst their content is lacking in comparison to its much older brother, it’s a welcome achievement – and I am looking forward to more UK specific content being available. Don’t get me wrong, I still read and enjoy the American originals on a daily basis (via the Flipboard app (much love of the Flipboard app!)), but it’s a step in the right direction.

Anyway that’s enough waffling on so I will close with this: It is with a sorry heart that the world lost a wonderful person this week. Robin Williams was an awe inspiring actor and comedian, and an inspiration to many (including myself). With this, I leave you with a scene from a movie that I love and is dear to my heart!

O’Captain my Captain

Midway through my workday, as I was tucking into my last remaining Iced Mince Pie – I stumbled upon this wonderful blog post on the “10 Laws of Productivity”.

What are the rules I hear you think…

  1. Break the seal of hesitation.
  2. Start small.
  3. Protoype, prototype, prototype.
  4. Create simple objectives for projects, and revisit them regularly.
  5. Work on your project a little bit each day.
  6. Develop a routine.
  7. Break big, long-term projects into smaller chunks or “phases.”
  8. Prune away superfluous meetings (and their attendees).
  9. Practice saying “No.”
  10. Remember that rules – even productivity rules – are made to be broken.

I would recommend taking a look at the actual blog post: http://99u.com/tips/6585/10-Laws-of-Productivity provided for your view pleasure by 99u.com.

Loosing your Tech

It not something we like to think about, but sadly there are a lot of people out who prefer to make a dishonest “quick buck” from your tech. They want what’s yours and may get it by any means. And with street crime (and Pick Pocketing) on the up it’s best to know how you can best protect your virtual, financial and home life.

Gizmodo UK, One of the websites I follow had a feature story about one of the authors Chris Mills, who was recently mugged. Chris had the unenviable task of securing his personal life before he could start getting over the ordeal itself. Part of this, Chris wrote a comprehensive list of what he had to do following the mugging to ensure normality could resume as quick as possible.

Read about Chris’s ordeal here and hopefully you can take away some good advice and secure up your devices. Here’s What to Do if Your Tech Gets Nicked By Violent Scumbags – Gizmodo

Rebuilding you

Should you have fallen victim to an attack / mugging. There are people out there who can help.

Royal College of Psychiatrists offers some help on Coping after a traumatic event  – http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfo/problems/ptsd/copingafteratraumaticevent.aspx

Samaritans offer the ability to talk to someone “People talk to us any time they like, in their own way, and off the record – about whatever’s getting to them. They do not have to be suicidal.”  - http://www.samaritans.org

Prevention

On the subject of crime, it’s always a good idea to know your surroundings. The UK Police offer a website where you “Enter your postcode, town or street name to get street-level crime and outcomes maps and data, and details of your local policing team and beat meetings.” It really is quite interesting to see what goes on in your local areas, but it also gives you the power to understand what could be potential “black spots” and could help you prevent it happening.

Head on over to http://www.police.uk/ for more information.

Stay safe.

Further to my previous post on how to SyncFacebook Events (Birthdays and Events) to iPhone/iPad  : Sync Facebook Events and Birthdays to iPhone Calendar (for FREE!) Facebook reformatted the layout, hence the need for a revised “how to”.

The Solution…

The following solution works on mysetup: iPhone 4S, iOS 6.0 (woe is me for the maps). PC and Google Chrome browser.

First of all, you need to find the Facebook Events iCal url (using my laptop and iPhone separately).

To do this:
Using a web browser navigate to Facebook and load the events page (Events is located in the left hand menu)

  • Once the page has loaded, click the “gear icon” located in the top right of the page (actual location is directly under home button).
  • When the drop down menu appears, click “Export“, this will display a popup (pictured right).
  • Within the popup, you will see the text : “You can export your friends’ birthdays or upcoming events into Apple iCal, Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar. Or to export a single event, click Export on the event page”.
  • Hover over the text “export your friends’ birthdays” and using copy link address to clipboard and paste it in an empty email message. Do the same for the upcoming events link
    • Firefox users: right click, copy link location
    • Safari users: right click, copy link
    • IE users: right click, copy shortcut
    • Opera users: copy link address
  • Email and two links to an account accessible on the phone
A note on the links that copy: The birthday URL you copy will begin with: webcal://www.facebook.com/ical/b.php?uid=… and the events URL you copy will begin with: webcal://www.facebook.com/ical/u.php?uid=… The key difference being b.php and u.php. It’s only a slight note, but should you find you only get birthdays, or only get events.
  • When the phone receives the email, copy one of the URLs to the clipboard
  • Navigate to and select the “settings” icon on your iPhone.
  • Select “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” and then Select”Add Account…” under “Accounts
  • Select “Other” at the bottom and then “Add Subscribed Calendar
  • Select the “Server” box and tap “Paste”, then Select “Next
  • Optionally modify the description
  • Select “Done” when you are done…
  • Navigate to your chosen calendar app and take a look at it .

Follow the same procedure for each link and your done.

There are a number of apps out in the market place that offer services similar, but not exactly as I needed. The official Facebook app provides the ability to access your events on your iPhone (and iPad), but not the ability to sync them to your local device. The logical step (I feel) would be for Apple to allow iCloud to subscribe to alternative calendars (similar to that detailed above). Then you can ensure you have all the data and dates, available everywhere (if you use the services).

Further to my previous post, I have stopped using Google calendar – owed exclusively to iCloud. I find it a really useful system and does just what I need.

I hope this was useful and easy to understand. Please note, this is how I chose to tackle the situation and I welcome other peoples suggestions on this.

Thanks