Author: Pete O'Shea

It’s been a long time since I posted anything on this site. Well I am starting to get on top of things again so what better time to bring things back to life.

I don’t have any firm plans to post on a regular schedule yet as I’m not sure how much time I can carve out but I will try and update you as and when I know more.

The main focus for now is to document what I have recently learnt about software development, including me learning C# which, along with Visual Studio is all new to me. Along with this there should be some more general rants and of course the occasional photography frustration thrown in for good measure. So pretty much as it was before…

Okay so lets dig in to why I stopped in the first place. The main reason is that soon after returning to full time work my job role changed to a more management type role which I found extremely stressful and over time that made me quite unhappy in myself and so I just didn’t feel like posting anything. Anyway I don’t want to dwell on this, years have passed and things have slowly improved to a slightly happier place where I am now considered “Lead Developer” instead of a manager. This means I get to spend a lot more time in the code again and also hopefully inspire the other members of my team which is the most rewarding part of my job and the reason I stuck it out even when I wasn’t really enjoying things.

Anyway my new position allowed to be introduce a few changes and one of them was to allocate a small amount of time to do some learning during work hours which made a massive difference. It soon made me realise how little I knew about developing in general. I had just assumed that what we were doing was the only way to do things. Trying to make changes to our tangle of spaghetti code was just par for the course. I quickly read a couple of books (I won’t list them here as I plan to revisit them and write up some brief review posts soon) and my eyes were opened. I got the rest of my team to read some bits that I thought would benefit them and this started some discussions and all of a sudden we were all looking at our old code with new eyes. We slowly realised there is a better way…

I always knew that being a developer meant that you should always be learning but I had just assumed that meant there was always a new technology around the corner. I hadn’t previously realised you could learn and improve the “craft” of development. Once I did grasp this I wanted to learn everything at once, listening to multiple podcasts, reading various articles and obviously picking up more books.

There is so much out there that I wasn’t previously aware of that I seem to be improving exponentially. At least that’s the way it feels. Don’t get me wrong it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. There are been some missteps and wrong turns along the way but that’s how you are meant to learn. This feels like a great time to start getting my thoughts on all of this new knowledge into words which should help me solidify things in my head but also allow others to question my take on things and hopefully this might start a discussion or two that can become mutually beneficial.

One of the downsides of being a bit down is that I let my weight slip again. Recently I was up at one of my heaviest weights when only a few years ago I was the lightest I had been in ages. This is something I have started to tackle and the renewed energy this is giving me has made me start to take a look at what drives me and what I can do to make my life better. This involves taking a closer look at my career as well as life outside of work.

From the career side of things it feels that I have been coasting for a while. The sudden insight into what I don’t know proves to me that I wasn’t pushing myself until fairly recently.

As for life outside of work I always felt that this blog was good for me. Just getting things down in words tended to clarify things in my head. It helped me focus on learning new things and then trying to explain those things in a post made me get a better grasp on them rather than just a vague understanding which can then easily be forgotten over short periods of time.

There have been a few big changes in my life since I last posted. One big change in my life is that I have finally plucked up the courage to move out of my childhood home in Taunton. I had lived there since my first birthday, not that I remember that far back, so I was expecting the move to be very hard but it was much easier than I was expecting.

It was time Shirley and I moved to pastures new and it has changed everything. We only moved about half an hour away but our new home is on the edge of a lovely little village just a couple of miles from the sea and we are loving every minute of it, as is our little Chihuahua Ebony. Thinking about it that is another change as I’ve never really had a pet before, unless you count goldfish as I had a few of them when I was back in school.

Oh and one last change, I have now grown a beard. I have never been able to do this in the past as my skin just became too itchy but after a while, and some moisturiser, I got used to it and everyone seemed to approve so I’ve had it for well over a year now. Time to update my profile picture then…

Signature
Image: Pete O’Shea
Kindle with Books

Kindle with BooksWhy, oh why, do we need DRM! My first real run in with this copy protection scheme was with music. Then there are all of the issues surrounding films, including DVDs, Blu-Rays and now digital copies. Lately though the things that’s really bugging me are ebooks!

It’s getting really frustrating that this extra layer of complication seems to tacked onto everything. Not only does it restrict how you use the product that you have legitimately purchased but it also lowers the level of enjoyment you get out of a product.

Take DVDs for example. How many times have you had to sit through the copy protection lecture, that you can’t even skip past, at the start of every DVD? Just to rub salt in the wound, the people that don’t bother to actually part with their cash and just get a dodgy copy from a mate end up getting a better experience as they probably don’t have to sit through it!!!

Unfortunately ebooks are also currently encumbered with DRM, tying you in to the company you buy the book from. Take the Kindle for example. The only place you can buy ebooks for the Kindle is from Amazon. Or is it? Is this all about to change…

Life is fleeting. I, like most other people, very rarely face up to this fact. Every now and then though something makes you realise how fragile life really is. When that happens you need to use that emotion to fuel your own grip on life. Make the most of what you have got, now while you have the chance…

After a bit of recent reflection, I realised that to help me get over the passing of Dad I focussed all of my efforts on losing weight. I looked at myself and felt that I needed to do something about my growing waistline.

Instead of messing about for a couple of weeks, which is what normally happens when I half-heartedly try a new diet, I outlayed some money and signed up for three months on the Diet Chef diet. Alongside the diet I have really upped my activity levels by walking everywhere. This includes walking Shirley to work most days before returning to where I work. That means I tend to cover at least 5 or 6 miles almost every day. Together this has worked wonders and I’ve lost 2½st (35lbs) so far with about 3 or 4 weeks to go!

Business Tools

Although I have returned to full time work I am still keeping my own business going in my spare time. I was surprised at how easy it is to start a business and so I have held off writing this post for quite a long time to make sure that I haven’t missed anything important…

Please bear in mind that I am certainly not an expert. I just thought you may be interested in what I have found so far in my adventures into self employment…

If you want more details there are loads of websites full of great information out there but I found the best place to start was the Business Link site. This is an official government run website with loads of useful hints and tips on where to start. This site can be a bit daunting as there is such a plethora of info but I regularly find reasons to return here for tidbits to help me clarify certain things.

Anyway the reason for this post is to explain the basics required to get started as a very small business. There is no real reason this should require loads of money, in fact you can get set up as a Sole Trader without any outlay at all.

This is great news if you are just creating a small sideline business. For example buying stuff to sell on eBay, rather than just selling you own used goods…

Ski Pad iPhone App v2

A while ago now I created an iPhone app to complement the Ski Pad website. The website has just received an update and I have been hard at work tweaking the app to work with the new site as well as adding some extra features along the way…

In reality I suppose this is just a shameless plug for the app but I thought it would be a good idea to take this opportunity to explain the new features. Anyway surely there is nothing wrong with a bit of self promotion every now and again. đŸ˜‰

So before you read on, if you have an iPhone, now might be a good time to get the Ski Pad App from the app store…

Go on you know you want to…

As I mentioned in I’m Back, Bigger But Hopefully Better I have been on the Diet Chef diet for about 2 months now. As you have probably guessed by now, looking at the title of this post, I have lost over 2 stone in that time. In fact it’s just over 30 pounds!

Now this is probably a bit quicker than recommended. It’s very exciting though. Lots of people have noticed the change which is a definite sign that things are going in the right direction. I’m under 18 stone now for the first time in quite a while. If I carry on like this it can’t be long until I reach the 17½ stone target I set myself back in my Goals For 2011

As I still have about 6 weeks left on the Diet Chef diet I might have to start setting a new, lower target!

Film Rolls Art Work @DeTour 2011I have been using my iMac for photo editing for quite a while now. As is my way, if I don’t have a set of rules laid down then I waste a lot of time fiddling with things trying to improve things. The idea is to try and work out the best way. In reality though, every time I open up Aperture I start reorganising rather than actually editing photos…

To stop this time wasting back when I used Windows I detailed my Windows photography workflow. This was very specific to the tools that I used at the time and so is not much use to me now.

It is high time I updated this and wrote up a new workflow so I can actually get down to processing the backlog of images. This time I want to make it more generic, based more around the general steps you should take, rather than tying it down to the current tools I am using. That way the workflow should stand the test of time even if the tools I use change…

I will cover the basic steps required to import, cull, rate, edit and organise your images. Hopefully there should be some useful tips for anyone trying to find a photo editing process that works for you…

On a recent trip to Jersey I got charged an extra £10.19 for Mobile Internet & Data. This confused me as I always check that I have Data Roaming turned off whenever I go abroad…

I checked my phone and the Data Roaming option was definitely turned off. So how did I manage to rack up the charge?

After a bit of digging I found numerous posts on the internet suggesting that Apple have changed the settings options available and there are now two options you have to turn off before you can be sure you do not incur any charges while abroad.

So I bet you want to know what you need to do to make sure you don’t end up with any surprises on your next bill…

Writing Tools

Writing ToolsSome of my blog posts have taken a long time to materialise. If I am to continue writing for this site then I need to get a better grip on the amount of time I spend creating the content. The problem is all to do with my current process!

If I don’t set myself a regular deadline then I don’t get around to writing. There is always something more important… Even with a deadline I have a tendency to leave writing the post until the last minute. The basic idea would already be in my head and then I just sit down and start writing…

Quite often I find things tend to veer away from the initial idea as it was too vague. This can be interesting as my subconcious starts coming out to play and the ideas for future topics can soon multiply, but this is far from ideal. The post tends to grow very rapidly and then requires heavy editing to try and focus the point a bit. This can lead to a lot more time than there should be going into each post…

Posts on a specific, targeted topic, tend to be more interesting anyway. To help with this in future I need to create a more focused approach to writing posts. Putting your head down a letting the words wander off wherever they want should definitely be a part of the process but there should also be some structure.

Hopefully this might be useful to other budding bloggers but also will become a reference for myself when creating future posts.

Miniaturized Keyboard

Miniaturized KeyboardAs you may have noticed I have had a bit of a break from blogging recently. I’ll go into the reasons in a bit more details in a minute but you’ll be glad to hear that I’m back and I plan to start writing regularly again.

I’ve had some time to take a new look at what’s important to me. I have been slacking off a bit recently and after a bit of thought on the subject I realised that I didn’t have as much energy as I should have. This led me to look at my health and one thing that did come to light was that I had put on a bit of weight again…

I’m determined to get my energy levels back up so it’s time to start a new diet. After some searching I decided on Diet Chef. The idea of pre-prepared meals seems great as I think portion control can be one of my downfalls.

It’s not exactly cheap, but at under £6 per day it’s over the top either. The costs involved may even help as when you invest in something you take it a bit more seriously…