You probably know the service and may even be an advocate user. I have known about Tumblr for some time but until now, never really had the need to setup a Tumblr blog. With the news that Yahoo! is to purchase the platform for over $1.1 billion. I thought this was the ideal time to tip my toes into the pool. I have setup a blog. The most interesting aspect of the story, is not the large amount of money in the transaction but the promise from Yahoo! not to ‘screw things up’. The warning from history is when Yahoo! purchased my beloved FlickR and made such a hash of things, the service has never fully recovered. While FlickR may be on life support, it is not dead and there are plenty of things the current owner could do to make things better. I have faith in the service and continue to upload all my high resolution images onto the cloud for safekeeping. While most of my peers now use Facebook for their photographs, I will always use FlickR and as a fully paid up pro user, I know I am getting very good value for money.
So why join Tumblr particularly so soon after joining Instagram (and uploading a total of only three photographs to date). I suppose I am preparing myself for the near future when I finally get my hands on a Samsung Galaxy S3 and start taking some impromptu photos while out and about on my travels. Ultimately though, my plan for Tumblr is more about fun, whereas Instagram is more about recording a specific moment. While I agree that I am perhaps far too old to be using these services, there is no barrier to my forever expanding online presence. I am finding it extremely difficult to find the time to blog, which I know you have all heard for too many times in the past few years on these pages. In fact, I have about half a dozen posts sitting in draft mode, waiting to be completed and published. I am hoping that using these alternative platforms, they can complement my full fat blog.
Any advice on people to follow or tips on posting to Tumblr would be greatly recived. You can contact me via Twitter my handle is @tegala.
I was born in England and have spent all of my life in this green and pleasant land. However, there are still many places I have yet to visit and enjoy. (Do not worry dearest reader, I shall not be breaking into one of the lesser known mid nineties soft rock/pop songs by Elton John). While many glamorous destinations abroad are on my list, I still have a great deal of exploring to do on these shores. (Maybe I should be brave enough to publish a list one day!) Back in December at the annual Christmas meal with friends, newly qualified driver Ben mentioned the fact that he would like to go on a weekend road trip. For some reason, we decided to travel as far as possible within our own English border. The city of Newcastle was chosen as the party destination for a long weekend. Now we just had to select the date mutually acceptable to all members of the party group. The final obstacle was gaining clearance from our other halves (this was turning into a stag weekend without the wedding or groom!) Easier said than done, in some cases! The event was initially billed as Foxy’s 30th birthday (even though it was taking place a week afterwards). This had to be changed to Kev’s 32nd in order for Fox to obtain permission from his otherwise to green light this lads weekend!
I have never been to the North East, let alone the city of Newcastle-upon-Type. My earliest memory of the city are from the late 1980s school educational television series Geordie Racer. The theme tune was extremely memorable and catchy (ideal when your viewing public are six to seven years old). A year later I started watching a new television show again on the BBC but on this occasion aimed at a slighter older audience. My sisters and I were probably a little young for Byker Grove but it was good fun and a change from some of the contemporary shows on at the time. You must appreciate that as a family, we did not watch Eastenders at this point in our lives. We were fully committed to The Bill on ITV, backed up by our Dad who had always been a fan of the Metropolitan Police drama.
Fast forward over fifteen years and the next time I would consider the city was during the British football movie Goal! released in 2005. I went to see the movie with my friend and colleague Chris at the FilmWorks Maidenhead (as it was then, it is now an Odeon). We were the only two people in the cinema as the film was about to start but were joined by three other guys as the trailers started. The movie was poor but it did give me an understand of how important football is in the North East and what St. James’ Park means to the Geordie boys and girls. It was the first time I saw the city on film in any level of detail. While the film (and the subsequent two sequels) were both disappointing, I gave the director and production team credit for selecting Newcastle as the football club to set their story, rather than the Hollywood desire to follow Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and even to a certain degree Manchester City. Set the film where football is part of the people’s blood.
My manager at the time, Nic had mentioned a trip up to the city he had experienced. A local had been hit by a train, but instead of going to hospital for urgent medical attention, he had decided to go out on the sauce in the city. There was no chance he was going to miss a drink with the lads. Proof, if it was ever needed that us southern softies have no chance among real men of the North East.
There are plenty of famous Geordies and plenty more infamous ones. I will focus my attention on just two. Firstly we have Paul Gascoigne, probably one of the most gifted football players of his generation and it is such a shame his career never hit some of the heights of his true potential (particularly on the international stage). However, he will forever be loved as a son of this city, regardless of his off field battles. In 1990, the year Gazzamania well and truly landed after tears in Turin, everything Paul touched turned to gold. He even appeared on Top Of The Pops.
Do you remember ITV’s Popstars – The Rivals? This was the show that bought us (among other talents) a fresh faced Cheryl Cole, who successfully became part of the reality TV band, Girls Aloud. Little did we know then what the future held for this girl from Southshields. Ultimately you knew very early on that she would branch out with her own solo career and media work, purely because she acted as the spokeperson for the band. Ultimately this has been proven right, as her career as overshadow that of all her band mates. Plus, on two fronts she beats Gazza, she is much better looking and has a much better singing voice. For some reason, at least once a week in the gym since January, they have played Call My Name and I have instantly started thinking of my Boys On Tour Weekend in May, even though it was months away! I have long been a believer that life is not worth living if you have nothing to look forward to.
What am I most looking forward to this weekend? Well it is the first long weekend away with the lads in a considerable amount of time. We have all become rather busy in our own day-to-day rat race lives and rarely meet up as often as we used to. I probably hold the most guilt in this respect and make no excuses that I am my own worst enemy. The last such ‘showpiece’ event was probably Pav’s Stag Weekend in Berlin, which is almost two years ago. It will be great to spend time with them all and create some more memories. I look back at the last few years and some of the best times have been nights out with these group of guys. There is constant entertainment and the ride will be non-stop from the moment I clock off at the office at noon on Friday until I finally say goodbye too early to even contemplate right now, on Sunday morning. My next adventure will not take me home to Slough to rest and recover but instead back into the capital for a concert by Mrs. Jay-Z.
My alarm goes off every week day morning at 5am sharp. I tend to actually get myself out of bed a few minutes later (sometimes up to ten). On this occasion, I just switched off my mobile phone alarm, rather than hitting the snooze function. (Actually it is a swipe up motion to snooze, swipe down to completely dismiss) I woke up at 5:45am and swore (quietly, so as not to wake my wife) at my DAB digital clock display. I was running late and I knew it! Now, I am sure to many people, 5:45am is probably anything but late, most of you are probably still sound asleep, knowing all too well that you have at least another hour (possibly more) in your warm bed. The concept of 5am probably is never on your radar. As a colleague once said to me, “There is only one five o’ clock in the day and that is hometime!”.
As usual, I rushed to get ready and after a quick breakfast, watching news on television and refreshing both the Metro and Daily Mail apps on my tablet, I went for a shower. I then headed out the door around 6:25am, I knew I was not going to catch my usual 6:35am service. In fact, by the time I walked to the station, I had watched the 6:47am service leave platform four. I had not fancied dashing for the train, when it was highly likely I would miss it. I then had to wait for the 07:04am service, the train I used to catch some two years ago and I believe I last caught this particular service was probably December 2011. As the sun was rising up to my right (the East) I decided to take a photograph with my aged HTC Desire and upload to my Instagram page (once in the office).
The only benefit on this occasion of catching this express service, it was one of the new trains (Adelantes) I took a seat at one of the tables and updated myself on the news via my Nexus 7. An excellent way to kill a train journey, even if it was less than fifteen minutes. However, we were kept waiting outside the station for a while before finally going through to platform nine. I rushed through to the main entrance, I usually skip the escalator and run up the stairs (missing one consecutive step in each stride to ensure speedy ascension). The place was rammed, it was 7:30am and I was in a long queue at the barrier. My season ticket does not scan. This the price I pay for a discount with my employer. The scheme is called Easit yet it is anything but easy! I then came up against some jobs-worth, who failed to believe, when I insisted that my paper season ticket would not scan and insisted I put it through the barrier. When it failed, with the usual “Seek Assistance” message, I smiled, before finally being let out. I knew there was a reason I usually fly through the station at 6:51am. I know, not to be late ever again. I then rushed out to catch my bus, to see it waiting at the stop, as I dashed across the road to the waiting bus, it signalled to leave and departed just as I reached the door. Touché, Stewarts Coaches have a timetable and they were going to stick to it and I have to respect their decision. Ultimately, if I had already been on the bus, I would not have wanted to be delayed while more passengers boarded. I resigned myself to the fact that next bus would be around in just over five minutes. In fact, the driver of the bus, was my usual driver for the 7:00am service (he had completed one circuit in the time it had taken for me to get to the station from Slough).
I settled onto the bus and switched over to the radio. I was ready to begin what would be yet another busy week in the office. Many people wonder why I get into the office before 7:30am each morning. I had answered my own question. Reading Station is quiet, my office is quiet (I am generally the first person to arrive not just in my department but probably the entire building). No further motivation was required, I would never leave the flat late again. The only benefit on this occasion had been the fact I had a meeting with the US team between 4pm and 5pm.
As soon as I was in the office, I put my frustrations onto the interweb, as we all do now. Posting on Twitter the annoyance of getting delayed and turning up at the office almost an hour later than usual. My dear friend Big Chris, responded later that afternoon. He agreed that there seemed no reason for the station to be so busy, the trains had been running without delay. Another of lives great mysteries forever to remain unresolved.
Sometimes I wonder if DougSavage is monitoring my life, from across the pond in Canada. Many of his world famous Savage Chicken cartoons reflect perfectly a moment in my life. I was having a discussion with my colleague and friend Harps, as we made our back from breakfast on Monday morning. He had just returned from his holiday in Mexico and the subject (the back to reality moment) was sensitive to say the least. Rather than go into too many unnecessary and irrelevant details, let me just say that the discussion turned to the moment you say those three little words. I spoke of my own experience, several years ago of qualifying the statement (sent with roses I might add). The phrase on the enclosed card started with, “I think…” Well I am now happily married to Michelle, so I believe it worked, even if she called me rather feeble for not putting my true feelings out there. The qualifying statement was unnecessary in her opinion.
Having followed Doug for many years, I read (is that the right adjective) his blog every working day and he always makes me chuckle. I purchased his fantastic book, the moment it was released in the UK and I should really keep the copy in the office, rather than in a drawer somewhere at my parent’s house. My dream of course, is for him to dedicate one of his cartoons to me one day. I live in hope! Until that day comes, he will continue to entertain and brighten up, even the gloomiest workday!
As expected, additional dates were added for the Mrs Carter Show World Tour starring Beyoncé. Therefore it was a case of deja vu for myself and colleague Priyam on Friday morning. I was keen to make sure I secured tickets on this second priority sale, even if that meant skipping breakfast all together. I knew the process now, so made sure I logged in early and waiting impatiently in the Virtual Waiting Room. All my details were already in-putted (although surprised they could not save my information from the previous day) At 9:30am sharp, I was through and booked tickets almost immediately for six people. Priyam had logged into the site, a minute after me, but was left waiting in the waiting room. The opportunity to purchase tickets never materialised. I, on the other hand, spent almost six hundred pounds in a world record twenty seconds. My colleagues were shocked at how quickly I navigated the site and took the best tickets available in my price category. Seating may not be perfect, but I would rather be there at the O2 Arena, than be watching on television.
My dilemma now is that I find myself some four hundred miles on Tyneside on the day of the concert and will need to make my way back down South, rather sharp-ish. I cannot rely on my friends, so may have to book a flight back. This may sound drastic but the reality is that a weekend with the lads, will never go according to plan. It would be unfair of me to force the rest of the group to leave the city early around 1pm sharp to ensure I make it to London in time for Beyoncé. I thought I was getting too old for these ultimate adventure weekends. Perhaps not, perhaps this is one last through of the dice. I do enjoy the thrill of trying to fit too much into a weekend. Thankfully, there is a Bank Holiday Monday to cushion the bump back to reality that would have been Monday morning.
Racking my brain and my blog archives, I have discovered that there is a precedent for such an event. Way back in July 2007, I was in Wrexham, visiting my dear friend David Jones and had to rush back on Sunday morning to ensure I got home to Wycombe, so I could take my sisters to Wembley Stadium for Concert for Diana. Six years ago, I believe I had the energy for a two hundred mile drive and then train trip to Wembley. Unsure of how I will cope with a flight, after a heavy weekend with the boys and travelling into Greenwich. Oh well, time will tell people!
Being a creature of habit, any change to my routine can have catastrophic consequences for the rest of my day. On Friday morning at 6:10am, I am usually in a good mood, having that Friday feeling spring in my step. The weekend is so close, you can almost taste it in the cold air of the Bath Road as I make my way down to the station. I am used to the odd train delay on our Victorian railway system but on this occasion, I was at the station much earlier than usual, so I was able to catch a different service, when I discovered my usual train had been cancelled. The only minor inconvenience is having to walk across (or in my case run) the walkway to platform four.
I got to a seat opposite a Sikh gentleman wearing a bright orange hi-vis jacket. Possibly a Network Rail worker, completing the upgrade to Reading Station. He was tired and fell asleep a few times with his head down onto the table infront of him. He woke up to ask me to wake him at Reading, when we stopped at Maidenhead. I forget to mention that this train was the local stopping service to Oxford, but even though it left a few minutes earlier than my usual train, it arrived a few minutes later, as my usual train service is direct! I followed his request and promptly awoke him just as we were going past the TVP buildings into Reading station. However, just prior to this, I realised I had left my train pass at home. It had fallen out of my jacket into my gym bag last night. Great! I would now need to buy a return to Slough. However, not the end of the world but not a great start to my Friday after already having my usual train cancelled. I went up to the barrier, seeing a familiar face whom always lets me through the barrier. Another long story which perhaps does not even need to be blogged but since taking up my company discounted train pass, my train ticket does not work in the electronic barriers. The price you pay for getting a discount on your season ticket, is the inconvenience of having to queue up and show your pass to the station master (how Victorian!). My Friday instantly got better, as I explained I had forgotten my pass, the old chap, just let me through, no questions asked. Could my day get any better? Unbelievably it would!
I text Michelle once I was in the office to get confirmation that my train pass was indeed in my gym bag and once we she had responded via e-mail, I felt much better. I tried to blag a lift from Slough based colleagues but theyw ere not leaving until 5:30pm, over an hour than I intended to leave. Sure enough, I would have to bite the bullet and buy a single to Slough for the handsome sum of eight pounds Sterling. The main thing was I had just misplaced and found my pass, I did not really want to have to request a new pass from the travel team and effectively pay again for three weeks of commuting.
Good news can arrive at any point in the day, for me it arrived at 4pm when my manager asked, “How long until you leave for the week, Andrew?” “About twenty five minutes…” was my reply!
Knowing my history with computers and data, I made the decision in 2007 to invest in an external drive. This was not an off the shelf consumer device of course, I purchased a 320gb drive from eBuyer and IDE to USB caddy from eBay. Now perhaps I should have had hindsight to future proof this purchase by obtaining an SATA drive instead of the old school IDE but that was not to be a major part of my decision-making process. It was the cost, this was the biggest capacity I could afford at the time. I knew it was a decision only my future self would appreciate. I was talking to Teg from 2013 but unbeknown to me (of 2007), I would be married, living in Slough and working for the biggest software manufacturer services and devices company in the world.
Now having a server, with mirrored drive configuration, did negate the need for a backup drive but I preferred to be safe rather than sorry. I copied all my music and videos and pretty much everything else onto this drive up to the end of 2008. Dagobah arrived in July 2009, so the backup drive was forgotten at my parents place in High Wycombe. My Dad had wanted to place the drive and caddy in the garage, but I had confirmed, that it needed to remain at an ambient room temperature although I’m sure modern drives can last at low temperatures of an English winter. I just did not want to take the risk, because I knew that one day I would need that drive again.
With all the problems I have had with my server of late (it failed again in early January and it took me almost a month to get it back online, with help courtesy of Myles G and a new two terabyte hard drive courtesy of eBuyer.com.) I am still glad many things have been burnt to DVD. My backup regime has been somewhat fragmented but at least I have a backup regime, which is perhaps good in itself. I am able to ‘jump back’ to music videos and TV shows from 2007-8 but the limitations of 4.7GB of data and of course, lack of precious time mean that I only have so much data archived away. This was were the large backup drive came into it’s element. However, in December when I tried to see if I could access the data off it, the caddy failed to work. I needed to buy a replacement but looked for an IDE/SATA hybrid model from eBay. This arrived a few weeks ago but it was not until my server was fully functioning at the beginning of the month, was I able to grab my old drive from High Wycombe and set it all up. I was back baby!
If I could speak to my old self from 2007, I would thank him for having the courage to use not one but two backup mediums. Remember this was a time in my life, when I recorded a great deal of television (albeit standard definition) onto my hard drive. I recall one time in November 2007, catching Beyoncé perform my favourite song from B-Day on Strictly Come Dancing and rushing to from the lounge to my computer to record the segment. Any material over 4.7GB or things I could not categorise into a selection for a DVD burn, remained on the drive. I am so happy I made this decision to copy all my music and video content to an external drive. I now only have a small gap of data missing (the time between 2009 and 2012). The great beauty with digital content though, is apart from some unique and rare features I recorded from the television, most are available to download again or ready to stream from YouTube, if your heart so desires. However, with my bandwidth cap every month, I always prefer the 1080p (full high-definition) downloaded file, which I can stream to multiple devices around the home.
We are perhaps the first generation (of many) whom will have our memories stored electronically in digital ones and zeros and not physical photo albums. We just need to make sure we think about duplicating the effort. One backup will never be enough!