Month: November 2015 (page 2 of 3)

Backpocket

A horrific weekend in Paris. Words can’t be found. Social media does it’s best yet again to show it’s worst side. However in amongst the right wing warmongers and the closet racists there is much to give heart…apart from Tweets. Bring back the stars!

Now

I stumbled on an idea from Derek Sivers – the Now page. It’s simply a page that describes what you are thinking/doing/focussing on right now. I liked the idea so I’m giving it a try on the site at iand.net/now. For me it’s an extra on top of todo’s and almost a light weight sprint in that it’s the areas I want to focus on in the coming weeks but doesn’t necessarily have a deliverable that can be ticked off in Todoist.

Will it work? We’ll see if it’s still on the site in a couple of months.

It also made me chuckle that Derek was behind one of my favourite TED talks on how to start a movement and he’s now kicked off the now page movement with a little help of course.

Health

Eight weeks ago I fainted at work. I’d felt some back pain an hour earlier but nothing else. As I sat at my desk I could feel a rush of blood and my senses starting to go haywire and I blurted out to my colleague…I’m going to be ill. 30 seconds later I came round and was a bit lost. A couple of minutes later I was sweating. A couple of minutes later I was shaking. I was also struggling to breathe properly. What’s going on?

A few minutes later our emergency response team at work turned up, sat with me for a while then took me to the medical room and gave me oxygen. Not long after they called for an ambulance and before long two paramedics were on site and conducting an ECG and checking blood pressure. Apart from the shaking everything was checking out normal and after 20 minutes the shaking had subsided. Talking it through with the paramedics the best course of action was to take the day off, rest and get to my GP to check out what had happened. I lucked out and got an appointment later that same day but as time passed I was getting chest pains, pains down my arm and back and well…I won’t deny I was starting to worry about just what had happened in the morning.

The doctor was really good, checked my blood pressure again and assured me that it probably wasn’t heart related but more likely a muscle spasm. Blood tests were ordered and I was back at work a couple of days later still with the chest pains. As the week wore on things got worse. Waves of feeling sick and sore heads, chest pain worsening, pain in the left arm pretty constant and feeling cold most of the time. By Friday I was knackered and struggling to stay awake and when I got home I slept for 16 hours. The rest of the weekend was spent resting and on Monday I booked another GP appointment for the following Wednesday. I’d also lost 2kg over the space of 5 days. As diets go this was the best yet!

By the day of the appointment I’d gotten good news in that almost all my blood results were good with one marginal. However the GP appointment didn’t go well and it felt I was wasting her time despite feeling awful and my condition changing since I visited her colleague last week. She referred me to a heart specialist and also gave me an angina spray…which shouldn’t be taken by migraine sufferers i.e. me.

A couple of weeks passed until I visited the heart clinic. During that time I’d have good and bad days but the weight came back on and I was feeling less tired but the chest and arm pains remained. More good news from the hospital checkup in that the specialist was 95% sure that whatever was happening to me wasn’t heart related but maybe a viral infection attacking the heart or a slightly enlarged heart. Unfortunately it may take another few weeks to pass and if it doesn’t get back to the GP.

A few weeks did pass and last week I was back at the GP’s to try and get some help as pains, heads and sickness were less severe but didn’t seem to be leaving me anytime soon. The doctor was excellent and this time has diagnosed a non heart related issue as the cause of my woes. I’m now on a course of tablets and had an x-ray last week to rule out anything else. The pains while still there seem to be dissipating and I’ve taken a week off work to rest up and relax to help speed the recovery.

What I’ve missed the most is running. As the season changes into Autumn/Winter I love going out for a run, seeing the autumn colours and enjoying the colder mornings. It’s almost nine weeks since my last run and the way things are going I’m looking at probably next year before I can get out there again. I’ll probably start slowly and follow a couch to 5k program to get me back up to speed. Also frustrating is how unpredictable this is. One hour I’m fine, a couple of hours later I have zero energy and think I’m about to puke. An hour later and it’s passed and I feel not too bad again. Other days and it can be all day that I feel lousy.

Despite this I’m feeling pretty lucky as I’ve been checked for all the serious stuff and it’s come back negative and visiting hospital brings into sharp focus those that are really ill against those that are complaining about a cough or cold. I’m also thankful for the NHS which in general has been really good while clearly struggling with funding. That we are renewing Trident while the NHS falls around us boggles my mind. The SNP also need to focus on governing rather than banging the independence drum as it’s on their watch that the NHS in Scotland has declined the most.

Here’s hoping my next health related post is from a running injury!

Backpocket

Autumn/winter weather is starting to kick in so stay indoors and catch up on this weeks content.

Apple TV

I’ve long been frustrated with Apple and it’s ‘hobby’, the Apple TV. While Amazon and Roku brought out devices that supported app’s and allowed you to install whatever you wanted Apple stuck with old hardware and annoyingly limited software. The announcement earlier this year of a new Apple TV with better hardware, a touch driven remote and more importantly an App Store and tvOS was the shot in the arm the platform needed. I couldn’t resist a purchase and it came through last Friday. Some thoughts follow on the first couple of days.

  • The hardware is the same footprint as the older Apple TV, just a little taller. It’s a shame that the optical out has been dropped but only a few will miss it I guess.
  • Setup was straightforward by using the iPhone to pair/setup the Apple TV.
  • Inputting a password is p a i n f u l. Especially in this day and age of long and strong passwords. You can’t use a bluetooth keyboard or any other iOS device to input the password. Ouch.
  • The new remote feels quite cheap for an Apple product. The touch/swipe is fine and it has more buttons than expected but the click feels…cheap. Strange.
  • The remote has been reliable in use though as a remote and also as a controller for apps and games. It’s bluetooth as well so no line of sight worries.
  • Siri does work well as an input method and the universal searching support is impressive. Can’t wait for Apple to open up the API for this…but fear it could be a long time for some app’s like Plex.
  • On first launch the Apple TV feels a bit empty compared to the old model which came preinstalled with lots of apps/channels. To the App Store!
  • The App Store is easy to browse and install app’s and there’s lots of titles on day one, a few hundred by the looks of it. However discoverability is awful. No categories, no charts so you are left with Apple’s picks on the front page or searching for apps. It feels rushed and incomplete. Unless you search for Youtube you wouldn’t know the app existed. Shocker.
  • So much hidden functionality with the Apple TV so it’s well worth reading through the user guide.
  • The UK has very little video content at launch. No BBC, no ITV, no Channel 4, 5 or Sky apart from Sky News. Surprising but I expect that to pick up over the coming weeks and months – BBC have already confirmed iPlayer is coming.
  • Games are very much iPhone and iPad staples but some play very well on the big screen. Crossy Road and Geometry Wars are really good.
  • No Amazon Video which is a shame. Is this Amazon playing hardball and saying to customers pick up a Fire if you want to view video on your TV? You can Airplay from an iOS device but it’s not as convenient.
  • I picked up a SteelSeries Nimbus Wireless Gaming Controller and it does make a big difference to gaming on the Apple TV. There’s a real opportunity for Apple to be the kings of casual gaming over the coming years.
  • Surprised the Remote app for iOS hasn’t been updated to support the new Apple TV.
  • Another issue – Siri can’t be used for Apple Music. Seriously, WTF? It’s coming next year according to Apple but again it feels like Apple have released the Apple TV ahead of when it really should have been and the software has suffered. Siri is also quite dumb compared to Siri on iOS. Weird.
  • The Apple Music app is pretty bad by the way. So much great content hidden by a clunky app.
  • The Apple TV front end looks really nice and it’s easy to navigate around quickly. You can put your most used app’s in the top bar too, not just Apple’s own ones which is good to see.
  • No Plex on day one. Sad face. It’s coming soon though, just a victim of the app review process.

The Apple TV has great potential but it will need a software update to unlock it. I still can’t believe that a company with so much experience of App Stores has dropped the ball so badly. The discoverability is that bad. Same with Siri and Apple Music. I guess holiday sales are important after all.

If you are in no rush then wait six months for the updates to drop and hopefully resolve some of the obvious issues. For me it’s a great step up on the previous Apple TV and it will soon be my platform of choice for Plex, streaming video and probably quite a few casual games. Is it the future of TV? Maybe but not yet.

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