Month: September 2011

Fixing Tumblr with IFTTT


When Tumblr rolled out a new version of their site in July they broke the popular Tumblr service by Joe Lazerus, for those of us who didn’t previously have it enabled. This made me sad. So using a new(ish) service called If This Then That, I fixed it!

What to do:

  1. Set your tumblr feed up as previous, using Yahoo Pipes.
  2. Sign up to IFTTT. Activate the Tumblr and RSS channels.
  3. Copy this recipe, and enter the URL to your Yahoo Pipe RSS feed.
  4. Sit back and wait for Sunday.

Switching from a Chair to an Exercise Ball

Over the last few days I’ve experimented with replacing my usual home desk chair with an exercise ball.

There were 2 main reasons why I’ve given the ball a try: 1) posture – I noticed I have a terrible habit of ‘slumping’ when sitting in my usual chair; 2) health + exercise – sitting on an unstable surface engages most of your ‘core’ muscles to keep you balanced… plus, sitting still is killing you.

So far the experiment has been rather uncomfortable. Right now my mid and lower back is aching (though not really sore) due to my spine being forced to adopt the “proper” posture rather than the more relaxed one it is used to. Other than that, there are a few other niggles, such as it’s hard to adjust your sitting position due to the friction of the rubberised surface on jeans/more difficult to move your ‘chair’ closer to the desk. I’m determined to stick it out though. The biggest issue I’ve had has been getting the ball to the correct inflation. It’s been trial and error, and I’m not 100% I’m there yet, but I’m getting closer. Too little and the ball is ‘squidgy’ and more akin to a bean bag; too much and it’s more uncomfortable, and more unstable.

I may wind up buying a larger ball. Exercise balls tend to come in one of three sizes: 55cm, 65cm, and 75cm. I went with 65cm as it was the most common, and an online chart indicated it was the correct size for my height, but it’s maybe a fraction too small. Perhaps if my home desk lowered like my desk at the office it wouldn’t bee too bad, but right now my mid forearms have a tendancy to rest on the edge of the desk, running the risk of pain in the elbows and wrists.

It’s too early in my experiment to confirm any of the supposed health benefits, but for such a simple (and cheap) change it’s got to be worth a shot!

This was the Worst Time of Year to Break Up

It was.


Because of two things:

  1. Wedding Anniversary
  2. Son’s Birthday

Both during September; both within a week of each other.

I think this has made the first few weeks of the separation harder. Having two important family celebrations so soon after the break-up was bound to make things awkward and more difficult than, say, if it had happened in June.

Not that I’m suggesting there’s ever a good time for a marriage to end… just that this

I think we’ve managed to do well though. Neither of us really mentioned the Anniversary, other than in a passing SMS. So the Anniversary didn’t turn into the problem I worried it would.

Thankfully that weekend I had something else to distract me anyway; all three kids stayed for Friday and Saturday nights with me. This  in turn let me solve the tricky problem of the Birthday.

Essentially my son got 2 birthdays this year. He had his regular birthday with his Mum’s side of the family, and when he stayed with me he had his birthday with my side of the family. It wasn’t ideal, but it was the best we could really hope for at such short notice. Hopefully by this time next year we can sort out a better solution.

He also got a day-trip away to the aquarium with my Ex and I, so he could have some time with both his parents.

December is the next really awkward month. It’s the twin’s birthday, and then the big one… Christmas!

Forget the Standing Desk; You Just Need to Move Regularly

Sitting at your desk all day is killing you whether or not you exercise, which is why so many people are building standing desks. But the ergonomics team at Cornell University points out that standing also has its problems. Their suggestion: Just make a point to get off your butt regularly.

I should pay attention to this, but as a certified geek, it’s all too easy to get sucked into something and loose hours at a time…

Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Pagination with rel=“next” and rel=“prev”

Much like rel=”canonical” acts a strong hint for duplicate content, you can now use the HTML link elements rel=”next” and rel=”prev” to indicate the relationship between component URLs in a paginated series. Throughout the web, a paginated series of content may take many shapes—it can be an article divided into several component pages, or a product category with items spread across several pages, or a forum thread divided into a sequence of URLs.


I’ve been wondering why they haven’t been doing this for the last 4-5 years…

The iPad is Now My Main Computing Device

To some, the headline of this post will seem a bit sensationalistic. I assure you it’s true though. Outside of the Office I spend more time on my iPad than I do my PC or laptop – and the gap is getting bigger.

It all started when I moved out a little over a week ago. Actually, scratch that, it really started when I bought the iPad a couple of months ago. Initially my usage was simply web browsing and email, like most people. Occaisionally I’d import some photos using the camera connection kit. Right now though, the iPad is my main device, and I use it for almost[1] everything.

So what am I doing with the iPad? I’m editing photos using some of the great apps available in the App Store. I’m creating original graphics (admittedly I’m not very good at this, yet!), I’m experimenting with creating music (again, not very good!), and I’m writing.

Dear gawd, yes, am I writing. Unlike to many people I do not have a problem typing fast on the iPad on-screen keyboard. I’m very nearly as fast as on a decent “real” keyboard. The only issue I have is touchscreen typing is quite tiring compared to a normal keyboard. Because I’m writing so much at the moment I decided to pony-up for an Apple Wireless Keyboard (and a matching iPad Dock, though that wasn’t strictly necessary). Combine the keyboard with iA Writer (or recent discovery Elements) and I’m easily writing over a thousand words a night on various different projects. Once I’ve got one or two of them out of the way I may even find enough time to start posting here again regularly ;-)

I enhanced my iPad setup with some media apps and accessories. Combined with a set of Bluetooth speakers[2] (the awesome Jambox by Jawbone), I can listen to music without tethered by a set of headphones. I can either play the local content, or use iTunes Home Sharing to utilise the library on my PC. I haven’t tried it yet, but I presume I could play Spotify tracks/playlists over the Jambox too. Video comes from either iTunes, iPlayer, or Air Video.

Now none of this is earth-shattering stuff, and many people will shrug and go “so what?”. But the point for me is this: as a so-called “power user” I am doing most of the tasks I regularly used a full-blown PC or laptop for on iPad. There’s something about that which almost seems insane to me, and even as recently as the start of this year I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me.

[1] OK, apart from doing any .NET/SQL development, which is really about the one thing I care enough about which I can’t do yet. PHP, HTML, JavaScript, and CSS are all done through the great Koder app.

[2] I found the Jambox to be around £120 cheaper than the cheapest Airplay speakers I could find, but they work in exactly the same way, just using Bluetooth. The iOS Music app even refers to them as Airplay speakers in the output sources menu.