28 January 2013

Cameras (part 4 - the final chapter(?))

Given that the high-street doesn't really have any camera shops any more and even when they did you couldn't really get a proper play (proper being several hours), I did the only logical thing: I bought the Olympus OM-D E-M5 from Amazon as they've got a no-questions-asked returns policy in the event I didn't like it.

It is small, light, feels like a proper camera, comes with a good enough lens (although I'm sure it won't be long before I'm looking at other lenses), the picture quality was never in question and, price wise, is pretty close to what I'd get for selling my two really nice lenses for my Canon ("L" glass, for those interested).
It is smaller in my hands than I'm use to, but: 1) that is because the 7D is the proper size for a camera - it felt right from the moment I picked it up, as did the D10 I had many years ago and, rather usefully, this one; 2) the whole point is to have something smaller than the 7.

I still need to play with it more than I have (I spent this weekend at the fairly disappointing Adventure Travel Show at Olympia and, more importantly, with friends), but I've played enough to know that it is a keeper; it provides me all I want, except geo-tagging, in the size that I want.

Tonight I've wrapped-up the nice glass in more bubble-wrap than strictly needed and tomorrow they'll be off to the nice folks at MBP in Brighton; in return I've got a new camera to go play with and learn how to get the most out of.  It's time for a day out with Mr. Oswin and one that doesn't involve us pretending to do photography, but actually involves us doing it!

PS.  Should you buy a camera, consider the memory card it takes.  All my Canon gear takes CF cards and as such I've got loads of them lying around; the new one takes SD cards - guess which muppet ordered the camera without checking if he'd got any spare SD cards.

14 January 2013

The paperless office

This blog post, rant(?), has been brought about by the continued de-junking of life, which involves sorting a lot of paper.  A *lot* of paper...

For years people have been predicting the paperless office - a salesman tried to sell this idea to my dad back in '79-80 when his then employer was getting their first computer (with a whopping 8K (yes, K) of RAM - an early Commodore PET, for those interested[1]).  It was bollocks then and it is bollocks now; my (soon to be ex) office uses insane amounts of paper (it's an insurance company, they love everything to be written down) and it is no different to any other office I've worked in and, I'm willing to bet, no different to any office you've worked in too.

Why do we all get insane amounts of paper delivered to us?  Why does every bank I have an account with insist on sending me a tree's worth of paper a year?  Why does BT send me an envelope stuffed full of paper on a semi-regular basis to tell me who I've phoned?  Why does HMRC send me all kinds of crap several times a year?  All of this can be online now (I know, I use their online services) and in many cases already is sold as "paperless" (hello Metro Bank, who today gave me a whole new pile of paper; despite giving me a "paperless" account). Why, and HMRC I'm looking at you here, do I need to keep so much of the bloody stuff ?  For years!

This isn't without issue, but it is a solvable problem.  If nothing else solving the problem would: 1) be of use to IT as a whole; 2) make the paperless office more achievable, even if it isn't ever going to happen.

We need to forget the folly that is the paperless office and focus on something a little more achievable; specifically: the paperless house.  The paperless home.  The home less cluttered (sorry, L).

De-junk your life and don't (re)fill it with paper.

[1] - "we knew they were lying, they sold us a printer to go with it" - my dad on discussing what was once considered a high-end computer.

11 January 2013

T-minus 100 days

In precisely 100 days time flight BA0676 is scheduled to take-off from London Heathrow, departing for Istanbul; I am booked on that plane.

Tick tock.

3 January 2013


I knew this would happen at some point and when I saw the adverts on TV over Christmas I knew when it would happen.


The BBC has a new series on about Africa and I knew it would make me want to go back. I saw part of the first episode last night and within seconds I wanted to change my route to include Africa - it didn't help they had a lot of Namibia on last night; truly one of earth's most beautiful places. Seeing Spitzkoppe again only made it worse.  No sign of Dune 45, thankfully?

The head says "you've got a route that works (after much stress) and the flights booked; enjoy what is planned". The heart says "AFRICA!!!". The gut says: "listen to your head".

Go with your gut.  Africa remains for the next time around. At least until the next episode.

Side note for Jean-Fran├žois: you need to find a way of getting to see this. It will cost you though - the price of a ticket and a new pair of boots. :-)

Thank you

Your universal support for what I'm doing is really quite amazing. Thank you all.

As a little something I saw on Facebook yesterday...

1 January 2013

So I've just quit my job

So I've just quit my job.  To some of you this is probably a huge surprise and you are wondering what on earth I'm doing; for others it is a day you know I've been waiting for.

So I've just quit my job.  I've given my 3 months notice (yes, three) and will be leaving my current employer at the end of March.  I'll then spend a couple of weeks in Newquay visiting the folks and spending time with family, with another week to then be spent in London with people there.

On Monday the 22nd April I shall be boarding a flight to Istanbul, where upon I spend the next year travelling around the world.  This is why I've quit my job.

Details of the route and the fun & excitement I've had in planning it are in older posts; I hope you'll take the time to read.  The summary is: fly to Istanbul; 4 months overland to Ulaanbaatar via a lot of Central Asia; 3 months in South America (Peru, Bolivia and Chile, at least); 3+ months in South East Asia (read: until the money runs out).  No, really - this is what I'm doing.  Flights booked, flat given-up, life is getting increasing de-cluttered and packed into boxes and I've said "see ya later" to many.  I'm ready to go.

This is something I've dreamt of for a very very long time.  This is something I've worked towards for a very long time.  This is something I've been actively planning it since the summer of 2012 (had to have something to do instead of watching School Sports Day ;-)) and this blog has that story.  This blog will also be my record of the story of my walkabout, with updates and pictures as and when I can.

I'm sure there are a lot of people with a lot of questions - I'll point out the best way to contact me.

So I've just quit my job.  Time for life.