Archive for December, 2006

My Project 365

Monday, December 25th, 2006
Project 365

To be able to visually re-live every day of a year; to better your photography day by day; to document your growth both physically, cosmetically and mentally – this is Project 365.

An article on photography newsletter/blog website Photojojo has inspired me to be a part of this project. And I suggest that all other budding photographers, bloggers, and even anyone who owns a digital camera should join me.

Seven good reasons to start your own Project 365:

  1. You will have a visual diary to remind you of any day for a particular year;
  2. By looking back on what you have chosen to photograph, you will learn to monitor yourself, prioritize, and figure out what is important to you as a person;
  3. You will become a better photographer as you learn your camera and start to care about composition, lighting, technique and so on;
  4. You will get into the habit of taking your camera everywhere with you (you never know what will crop up for you to photograph!);
  5. You will develop an eye for details and your creativity will soar as you are forced to find inspiration in everyday objects;
  6. You will learn to appreciate the details of the world around you (think of it as reaching a state of enlightenment!);
  7. You will have a visual story to look back on in years to come (especially if you choose to annotate your pictures);

There are more, of course; you just have to think them up. Try taking a look at Taylor McKnight’s Project 365 from 2006 for inspiration.

My Project 365 will be hosted on in the Projects section. I will put a daily update on the homepage too, if I can figure out how.

MS-Paint messages

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

Sometimes my girlfriend writes me little… well, basically love messages in MS Paint. Below are a few examples…


Opening up my GCSE revision notes

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

I decided to type up the bulk of my GCSE revision notes over the holidays as a form of revision. Then it hit me – if I am digitizing so much knowledge, why not make it freely available to everyone?

Creative Commons Logo

I have decided to release my notes under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.5. These ‘creative’ licenses, sometimes referred to as ‘copyleft’, serve to remove some of the restraints copyright puts on your work. For example, with the license I have chosen, anyone is free to copy my work – for commercial gain or otherwise – as long as:

  1. I am attributed;
  2. The license of the work is stated wherever it is used;

However, I can waive any of the above terms.

Anyway, the revision notes, which will feature in the… umm… features section, will be based on the Joomla! CMS. This particular system allows logins and multiple authors, forums and so on, so if the site is popular then I may open the system up as a community site.

I am taking the following subjects at GCSE level:

  • English Language and literature
  • Mathematics (higher tier)
  • Science (Salters double award)
  • DiDA
  • Business
  • Geography (?) *
  • German *

*I may or may not feature these.

Watch this space!

Multi-tasking is the enemy

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Ever sat in your room (or at work, or in a lesson), aware that you have so much work to do, and yet not managed to actually do anything – even though you’ve had three project documents open all evening? If you find, as I have done, that this is a common occurrence then I may have some useful information for you: multi-tasking is not your friend.

I always have several projects on the go. I’m quite a task-orientated person, so to me a project could be finishing an essay for English, or watching a documentary, or eating a Crunch Corner, or trying to shift some of the crap that is invariably threatening to obscure my desk surface.

Each project is important and deserves my full attention. But each project never does have my full attention – consciously or subconsciously, I am sabotaging my own productivity. Sometimes it is terrible – not only am I being lured by minor distractions such as reading my feeds, checking my email every few minutes, MSN or staring gormlessly at my own pictures; sometimes I actually try to do two or three ‘projects’ at once.

For instance, I am constantly fighting against my room – my room wishes to be untidy, disorderly and some sort of post-modern gallery for my unwashed clothes, whilst as I person I wish for my room to be clean, tidy, and reasonably neat (mainly to impress my girlfriend). This is fine when there isn’t a DiDA deadline looming, my Geography study isn’t 3 or 4 months overdue and I have courageously beaten back my PT to the point where the standard of my maths book is ‘acceptable’, but for the remaining 99.8% of the time the battle spills over into my other work.

Multitasking does not get your projects finished. This site has had a pending redesign for 3 months. I need to do my Business coursework. There is preliminary DiDA work to be done. Why are all of them progressing at a pathetic pace? Because I’m trying to do all of them at once, get distracted, and in turn just give up and read blogs and look at pictures.

So, here is what I suggest:

  • Focus your energies on one particular task, be it waging war against your rebellious property or getting that report finished;
  • Under no circumstances stray to ‘just check your email’, or ‘just put this sock back into its cage’ or ‘just check your MySpace picture comments’;
  • Turn off the damn TV – when it is on you will not be able to concentrate, full stop;
  • Concentrate on your one project for a sustained period, taking short breaks every 30 or 60 minutes.

My own personal blog

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Half an hour I installed a personal blog. It’s like – it has a vague and undefined purpose, and by its very definition will be created, redesigned before the end of its natural lifespan, rebuilt from scratch every 6 months, and will in be generally even more incomplete than this site you are on now.

This blog is a little different, though – it’s mine.


Boost your WiFi reception with a homemade antenna dish

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

I found a very interesting article on MetaFilter earlier on how to boost your WiFi reception – or, how to make a WiFi antenna out of a cheap USB WiFi dongle, an extension cable, and Chinese cooking utensils.
During my last holiday, I discovered that I could log in to a free WiFi hotspot from my balcony if I positioned myself in a certain way. Unfortunately, the source was a fair distance away and more than a centimeter or two of movement was enough to cause my connection to drop. However, it has come to my attention that it is possible to build a homemade WiFi antenna which could eliminate this problem.

However, a word of warning from a MetaFilter poster beforehand:

“Cantennas” are technically illegal in the U.S. under Part 15 FCC rules, and in some states, including where I live, arrests have been made for use of such devices, where they are considered evidence of intent for unauthorized network intrusion. Using highly directional antennas to leach WiFi access from fixed locations also makes it much easier to accurately triangulate your location as an infringing user; I’ve had a couple of idiot neighbors try to grab access from my WiFi signal, and I’ve really appreciated the reliable directional signals they provided while trying to do so, as it made it much easier to locate them, and play reverse head games with them.

WiFi “works” precisely because it is a very short range service. Using directional antennas, “power boosters” or other mechanisms to intentionally circumvent the Part 15 range limits entirely for your own convenience is boorish at best, and can disrupt legitimate users operating gear in the intended manner. Don’t be a jerk.