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March 8, 2014

31-3.6 Time, money and desk space


I started this daft writing project with ideas of fighting complacency. It's too easy to slip into habits in your blogging, to just keep doing what you did before, without any serious attempt to keep pushing yourself forwards. And, in a sense, I've been scuppered for two days by taking exactly that approach to my technology.

I've been using Movable Type to blog here for over a decade now, and I've been on a single webhost for the majority of that time - since 2007, in fact. Now, I'm seriously reconsidering that decision. The past 48 hours have not covered my webhost in glory. They killed my blog software - and then my whole account - with no clear explanation. It took them 24 hours to resolve a photo uploading problem once the site was restored - and they broke the site several times in the meantime.

And, to cap it all, they gave me utterly wrong information at one point - telling me that I was using very old software (which is true, if your definition of "very old" is two months), which is unmaintained (not true) and therefore my site was "probably hacked". Well, suspending my account because it was "probably hacked' is one thing, although the "probably" is a bit worrying; surely you should check before pulling down sites? Doing it without notification is another.

Migration Labour

So, now I find myself wondering if I should migrate this blog to another of my hosting accounts - and that's another level of work that'll consume time I can ill-afford right now.

But then, I've also been reminded today how much technology does move on when you're not paying attention. It's been over a decade since I bought a printer. That one was on its last legs back in 2008, so I switched it for my late mother's printer when she passed away. That printer has been faithfully serving us every since, but I finally made the decision to do away with it earlier in the year, as the ink prices for it were getting out of hand. When the current cartridges died - it was being replaced. And that happened earlier in the week. This morning, a Canon Pixma 6450 arrived - and it has been a revelation.

Two become one (tech edition)


First of all, it's replacing two devices. Both my old printer and scanner are exiting, with one device taking their place. Welcome back, desk space.

Also, it connects to my wireless network - and, joy of joys, it supports AirPrint, which means I can print from my iPad and iPhone. It was quite something to tap the sharing button I've never used on my iPhone - the one marked "print" - and see a page pop out of the printer a few seconds later. What was more impressive was loading up some 6x4 photo paper and seeing a perfect little print popping out.

And then I realised how much time I wasted getting prints from Boots and those little printing kiosks when sending letters of thanks to people who bought Hazel clothes. This printer is capable of producing just as good results, faster, and without leaving home. The price is not much different. Sticking with that old printer was a false economy, in terms of the time/money trade off. I should have done this a while ago.

Time poor, cash… OK

Mentally, I've never quote made the journey from "time rich, cash poor" to "time starved, cash comfortable". I still make decisions based on saving money not time - but since Hazel came along, time has been at an absolute premium, and I'm not yet making sensible decisions about how to deploy my money to ease that time pressure a little.

Am I paying too little for my web hosting - and suffering huge losses of time as a result? Would some sensible investment in hosting and a managed move to WordPress pay off in the long run? Where else in my life is corner-cutting costing me precious time? These are questions I need to be asking with more rigour - and focus.

November 18, 2013

Walking towards work

A glorious morning. Not because of the weather -- it's foggy and cold -- but because I got to walk to the station for the first time in over a year. Yes, the Adur Ferry Bridge is open and my mornings of guilty car journeys to the station - or unpredictable shuttle bus rides - are done.

This morning walk across the river and up through town to the station was one of the things I loved about living here -- and now it's back.

Happy days.

April 27, 2013

Head in the clouds

View from EasyjetI've been travelling for work, which has kept me busy and quiet - here at least. 

It's also given me some time for thought and reflection, and that means I've made a few decisions, and come to some conclusions in my own head, which I need to clarify for myself by writing them out. I actually have a blog "calendar" for myself for next week - with the intention of writing one long-form piece a day through the working week (Thursday might be the exception for reasons that will become clear). 

Things change. Two years ago I was so terrified of flying that I refused to get on a plane. This week, the London / Berlin flight was a chance for quiet reflection. Sometimes you need to take stock of those changes, and figure out what they mean for what you believe. That's what next week will be all about. 

Those of you who have missed my occasional rants here over the past few years will probably find it quite fulfilling... ;-)

April 7, 2013

Taking some time to enjoy beach life

Beach LifeAfter saying that I'd be commiting some of my expanded free time to this blog, pretty much ever since I've been committing it to a more worthy cause: my wife and daughter. 

The last few months have been tough: very tough. If the lesson of 2012 was that buying a new house, having a baby and starting a consultancy career in the same year is a bit much, the lesson of early 2013 was that your daughter weaning, your wife going back to work, and the busiest period in your consultancy career to date do not make a good mix.

This morning, we spent an hour just lounging by the sea a few minutes' walk from our house, chatting and enjoying the sun, while Hazel explored the pebbles and other things that make up the beach. Simple bliss.

Makes it all seem worth it.

March 5, 2013

A decade of One Man & His Blog

Adam Tinworth in 2003

Ten years ago today, the alarmingly brown-haired chap above put finger to keyboard and wrote the words

"And so it begins..."

And so it did - One Man & His Blog came into being. At first it lived on Blogger and at the URL (.name never really took off, did it?) and now it lives on Movable Type and This time next year, it'll probably be on WordPress, but all will otherwise be the same. It'll be here - if I am - and I'll be blogging away merrily.

(I have to say, looking at that picture above, I've aged...)

This site has been in continuous publication for a decade. I'm slightly staggered that it has survived - and thrived - over that time. This has been the backdrop to nearly a quarter of my life, through my marriage, my mother's death, my redundancy and the arrival of my beautiful baby daughter. So many other blogs have come and gone in that time. Those of us with the stamina to stay put and keep on going seem to be a vanishingly small bunch. A signifiant proprtion of the links in those early posts are now dead, the sites they pointed to long gone from the net. Indeed, the first link in that very first post is dead.

This blog represents the largest continuous body of work I've ever done, and I'm immensely proud of it with all its mistakes, wrong turns and failed experiments. There's been some great writing, some great conversations, some fun photography, more links than I'd care to count, and the odd great argument along they way. It's got my name into national papers, lead to speaking gigs, and been behind every piece of work I've done for the best part of seven years. 

I did my "decade of blogging" post 18 months ago - there was a blog that preceded that one - but I didn't want this anniversary to pass unremarked. 

And I'm not going to mark it with a long self-indulgent post - just a short(ish) one. :-) I am going to make it with a series of changes to the way I run this blog, and the posts you'll see coming through fairly quickly. In preparation for the anniversary, I've been looking through my own archives, looking for things I can learn from; ideas that drifted away that can be brought back, elements of the blog I never explored to my satisfaction. Over that decade, my blog has actually moved to the centre of my working life. Without this here database of content, none of the work I've been doing over the last year or so would have materialised. Now that I've had a couple of months where I earned more than I did in my corporate job, but for working fewer hours (Fridays are devoted to childcare for my daughter), I have a lot to be grateful for, and to the work I put in here particualrly. But the blog got a little neglected in recent months. I was too busy working or being a family man to give it the attention it deserved.

It's time to repay that with some investment back into this site. So changes are coming - indeed, they started yesterday and will continue through the next few months.

Thank you for coming with me this far, and I hope you'll join me on the journey to come. It's been a hell of a lot of fun.  

As I said a decade ago:

I'll be your host on this particular Blog until I run out of things to discuss or you run out of patience for my words.

Luckily, neither of those things has happened just yet... 

February 2, 2013

Keeping my print past on the GRID

A bound volume of GRID magazineVery, very long term readers of this blog - those who have been tolerating my words for nearly a decade - might remember that I was once more print-centric than I am now. For the best part of a year in the 2003 to 2004 period, I editied a magazine called GRID. It was designed to sit at the intersection of property development, architecture and construction, and it was my pride and joy. 

It had a stunning design by Balwant Ahira:

Some pages from GRID magazineIt's the print project that I was most proud of, which I devoted every ounce of my skill as a journalist to - and it was killed off by an incoming publisher, whose approach to profit growth involved slashing investment and costs. It was strangled before it had the chance to get going. At the time I was deeply upset, and really quite bitter. Nearly 10 years on, I see how it shaped the rest of my future. My dreams of being a print editor died with GRID, and I began to focus on my blog, blogging and the digital future. Within 18 months of the death of GRID, my transition into being a professional digital journalism expert began.

Why am I bringing this up now? Well, I finally got around to having one set of issues bound up into a beautiful hardback book at Wyvery Bindery.

Wyvern letterheadI collected it last Monday on my way to City University, and I couldn't be more happy with it. I'm not sure how much else survives of the magazine. RBI no longer has any copies kicking around - they were all disposed of years ago. I believe some - but not all - of the content is on, but I no longer have access to the paid part to check. Apart from a box in my garage, this might be all that remains of the magazine. 

This bound volume makes it slightly more likely that the work we did makes it into the future, somehow. And it certainly gives me something to enjoy on those days when I get nostalgic for print:

A feature from GRID magazine

November 30, 2012

A silence, and an anniversary...

On the Finnish DockApologies for the sudden outbreak of silence around here - look on it as the lull before the storm, if you like. This week is likely to be quiet, as I'm deep in a deadline crunch or five, with Hazel's christening and a trip to Paris coming up soon. Next week, of course, will be the normal storm of liveblogging from Le Web...

Things have been so busy, in fact, that I missed the anniversary of my redundancy on Wednesday. A year before, after lunch, I was pulled into a meeting in an anonymous little HR meeting room, and told that my days with RBI were over. At the time, all I could think was that I was in the middle of buying a house with my first child on the way, and suddenly I had no job. A year on? I'm too busy to note the passing of the day. Between flying to Helsinki with some brilliant people, working with the next generation of journalists, and keeping up my commitments to various other clients,  things are busy, fun and reasonably profitable. Oh, and I'm living in that house, and spending more time than I would have otherwise with baby Hazel.

I'm not prepared to say that being made redundant was the best thing that ever happened to me - the timing was too appalling and stressful for that - but I will say that the way I've spent the year since has been so incredibly rewarding that it more than makes up for it. Certainly, I'm enjoying life, work and family far more than I was this time last year, and I'm significantly more optimistic about the future. 

And that has to be a great thing, right?

November 11, 2012

Silent Sunday

An orange boat in the Adur

Almost entirely disconnected today, because I spent the whole day connecting with my baby daughter, including a lovely walk around the Beach, with her strapped to my chest. I haven't even looked at my e-mail. Blissful. 

November 4, 2012

Communication: here and now

Seaside mobileSunday was always going to be the hardest day to hit the #back2blog challenge. My weekends have utterly changed since I became a father. They're the time I give my wife some relief from the frantic business of new motherhood - and actually get to spend some time with my daughter. Even the spells when she's asleep tend to get sucked into household chores rather than online stuff. In fact, these weekends are the closest I get to genuinely unplugging - and I'm enjoying it. 

Hazel doesn't care at all about the internet or iPads or magazines yet. At the moment she and I are celebrating the fact we've figured out a way to communicate between us about when she wants to be picked up, and see the world from the excellent vantage point of my shoulder. Hazel drags me into the here - and the now. She has little concept of past or future yet, so here interactions with me are purely in and of the moment. It's healthy. I love it.

August 23, 2012


Probably the best decision I've made this year was to keep August quiet, with virtually no out-of-home working between my daughter's due date and the beginning of September, Balancing self-employment, largely home-based, with new fatherhood is a challenge. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes you lose five hours with no idea of where they went. 

One way or another, I'm starting to get back up to speed on my commitments, including posting on the TEDxBrighton blog with a new post about how points of passion can close generations - and how leaving it too late can cost you the opportunity to do so. Pity I missed the meeting in a muddle of cooking, nappy changing and baby soothing...

August 7, 2012

One Man & His Daughter

My beautiful daughter and I

July 28, 2012

OK, now this changes things...

The hand of BooBaH
Hello, my daughter.


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