Monday, July 28, 2014

Hair

My hair is long enough now for me to need another haircut. It comes around quickly enough. Last time I got my hair cut was ... I don't know exactly. Not that long ago, it was a Sunday and I walked in with my son and we were able to get our hair cut straight away. I have been considering getting a self haircutting product called the Babyliss Easy Cut. It's a handheld device that has a central circular series of blades and you just attach a guide that cuts your hair to the desired length. It looks very simple and seems to give reasonable results if you aren't too fussy about having an even cut all over your hair. I don't know whether I'll buy one but am considering it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Manchester skyline

Here is a photo I shot tonight on my iPhone. I like taking photos with my iPhone camera, it is a well used camera. Digital cameras allow the cost of an individual photograph to come right down. So much so that it is often cheaper to shoot a photo than copy information down. Digital smartphone pictures can also be used to capture evidence - for example we were travelling on a train without tickets but had a photo of the ticket machine that was out of order as proof.

This photo has been slightly adjusted by a photo app, not sure which but it's possibly one called Snapseed. There are a huge number of photo apps for the iPhone. Here are the apps that I like to use in my iPhonography. I use PhotoShop Express for image editing on the iPhone itself.



World conflict: Ukraine and Gaza

There is always some conflict in the world. At the moment, it seems that Israeli and Palestinian conflict has escalated to another extreme. What seems so ironic is that this conflict should occur in what is supposed to be the holy land. The way the Middle East was just carved up administratively by super powers has a lot to answer for.
Ukraine is another area that has seen escalating violence. The apparent shooting down of an airliner bound for Asia from the Netherlands is a tragedy. Fair play to the Ukraine Prime Minister for calling those responsible "bastards". It's the first time I've seen a politician express himself like that infront of world media. And what does the UK get? David Cameron displaying outrage just for the cameras in his stage managed way.

Germany win world cup

Well Germany must be a pretty happy country at the moment. They won the 2014 World Cup Soccer Tournament and on Sunday Nico Rosberg, a German, won the the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. I must confess however that although I watched the soccer final, I was slightly disappointed with the result. I don't know exactly why though.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pictures from new camera

For the web I have had to edit these and scale them down. I have only scaled down the size. The photos themselves haven't been edited in any way. There are a lot of settings to play with in the Panasonic Lumix TZ40: program modes, metering modes, exposure compensation, film speeds, white balance etc. (if you're inclined, of course) or you can just leave the camera on iA (Intelligent Auto) mode and snap away. I was in Brighton yesterday and took a few shots, the light was very bright so I used exposure compensation to increase the colour saturation. There is a vivid colour mode however so I could have used that. Do you see what I mean about there being a lot to play with? The information below each photo wasn't written down at the down, it comes from the properties of the image file that the camera records behind the scenes.

First up is a photo I shot of a flower in my garden. I used a tripod to prevent camera shake, although the camera software itself has a stability option that I had turned on. This photo was taken as an example of using the Aperture Priority program mode and a shallow depth of field, I wanted a shot with a foreground subject in focus and a blurred background. The light wasn't as strong as it could be, it was shot after 7pm and the flower bed is in a corner of the garden. I used the widest aperture I could and an ISO of 100.


f/6.4; 1/60 sec; programmed mode; ISO 100; 0.00 EV; pattern metering
 
The next photo was taken through the glass of my hotel window in Manchester. I was also trying out a travel tripod I had just purchased that evening from Jessops. I don't take many night shots but as I had my tripod with me I thought it would be ideal. A lot happens in Manchester at night so it was a good location to shoot. I switched to the manual program and relied on the metering to get the exposure right.


f/5.1; 4 sec; manual program; ISO 100; 0.00 EV; pattern metering

New camera

On Sunday I decided to buy myself a new camera. We have a very good HD video camera but were missing a high quality digital compact camera for taking on holidays and day trips. The camera I decided to buy is a digital compact camera and is also made by Panasonic. I saw it advertised on the TV from Currys & PC World, it's the Lumix DMC-TZ40. In my next post I'll include some photos I've shot with it.
 


 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

New coffee

I don't know how long this coffee has been on sale but I never really noticed it before. It is Kenco's Millicano and it is freeze dried instant coffee but it is nice and tastes like filter coffee. If you like your coffee strong, I'd recommend it. Two teaspoons of this coffee in a cup would be really strong, I just have the one. Nice coffee though, instant but with the taste of filter coffee.

Festival Fever

Summertime is here and it is the festival season again. What surprises me every year is the number of festivals around. I'm not just talking of the big festivals (and my God there are a lot of those) but also there are lots of smaller festivals that hardly get much national press but yet exist all over the place. The big festivals usually have some kind of televised coverage and this year I managed to catch some of Glastonbury on the TV. I don't think I was blown away by most of the acts I saw, Jack White's performance was a bit disappointing but Metallica's set, which I watched live, was what I would consider a triumph. How nice to be sitting at home watching it than out in the field. I've looked at the line ups of some of the festivals and in a future post I will put out there my own top festival line up for my imaginary festival. The festivals I think most worthy of attention are the ones below, Bloodstock Open Air has the coolest logo in my opinion.




Nandos

Over the last few weeks I've been to two different Nandos restaurants a couple of times. I'd never been to a Nandos restaurant before and I have to say I enjoyed it. I found the food very tasty. It was quite simple - pitta bread, chicken, rice and peas. I had the hot sauce and it wasn't too hot but was spicy and tasty. Perhaps the most surprising thing is that you pay for the food when you order it before it arrives. So when you've finished the meal, you can just leave and I actually prefer this. My wife doesn't rate it at all surprisingly but I do. It's one of my favourite restaurant chains now although it doesn't surpass Wagamama who produce probably tastier food on balance.
 
I cooked my own version of a Nandos meal last night for the family. I cooked rice, sweetcorn, roasted vegetables and chicken (obviously) and served it on a plate with chicken and salad in a pitta bread. Only I had chicken cooked in the sauce though, it was very tasty and I used the sauce I bought a few days ago from Tesco who were selling it cheap. I've still got a bottle of the mild sauce left. I will have it again soon but I'd prefer to have it with peas than sweetcorn, I also used some Linghams sweet chilli sauce on mine.
 


Soundcloud

On my tablet I've had the Soundcloud app for a while. This week I've actually used it a bit more and I have to admit I quite like it. The music is very good and it is useful as a tool to discover new bands I'd not heard of before. I have only just logged into the desktop version and created my account. Worth checking the service out if you enjoy music.
www.soundcloud.com

Brazil 1 Germany 7 (World Cup 2014)

Germany got through their semi-final match with a total drubbing of the host nation Brazil. The pictures below tell the story. It was like a casual Sunday game for Germany who easily tapped 4 goals into the Brazil net within the space of 20 minutes. It was hilarious to watch really because Brazil were such a joke. I could not believe what I was seeing and I think millions of other viewers probably felt the same. It was so notorious a defeat that it became the most tweeted sporting event ever, reaching nearly 37 million tweets during the game. That's another unbelievable statistic. I enjoyed the game in a cruel way, it felt slightly sinister to take pleasure in such an agonising defeat. Brazil has to face the Netherlands in the third place play off, which I think is played today. If Holland play how they do in some of the matches I've seen and if Brazil play how they did on Tuesday I think I can see another collapse coming. But surely, Brazil now have to play for pride? Surely they cannot afford a defeat? Let's see...





Monday, July 07, 2014

Blisters

The shoes I wore for the Cancer Research UK relay at the weekend weren't great for my feet. I have toes that rub together and blister quite easily. Maybe I should plasters on my feet as a prevention measure? It's a bit late to think of this now. I wore an older pair of training shoes because I thought I would ruin them in the mud, thinking the weather would be wet. But actually, after a downpour on the first morning, which we avoided anyway. The weather the rest of the weekend was quite good. It was good enough to be able to forget about it mostly and concentrate on enjoying ourselves. I was vey tired yesterday afternoon once we got home. I started to watch the British Grand Prix but eventually fell asleep. I popped the blisters today and squeezed out the juice, so they're a little painful but not as bad as they were last year. It helps me think about the people who have had their lives touched by cancer and remember that they're pain is far greater than anything my blistered toes give me.


Tent out again for another year

At the weekend I was part of a team of people raising money for cancer research. It was an event we also did last year. It's not an easy event for a number of reasons but it has some nice qualities, such as getting together with other families and helping each other with tents and setting up. We haven't used our tent for a year, so it was good to get it out again. It's a sizeable tent, not exactly huge but too big for a single person to erect. It always reminds me of an armadillo in shape. There are a couple of tears in the ground sheet but I hope to be able to fix those with some tape or tent repair fabric. The outer fabric is still waterproof, which is good. We bought the tent from Costco a few years ago.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Maxitone Meal/Snack Replacement

I've been trying to cook Low GI recipes for a few weeks, trying to find the balance with lifestyle and weight loss. I was nearly 73kg but now am 67.9kg, so it has been helping but I would like to lose a few more kilos because I'm fairly short and have a naturally slim build. I look better when I'm not pudgy around my middle. My wife wants to lose more weight than I do, so finding the combination that works for both of us is difficult. This is why a low GI diet works quite well, it helps us to eat healthy but also fill up on nice tasting foods. The trouble is we both have a sweet tooth and there are some foods that tempt us too much. Feeling hungry between meals is a killer, sometimes fruit isn't enough. So, my wife has been talking about trying these shakes you can buy. On Sunday, Boots had some on special offer so she decided to use up some of her Boots card points.
I'm trying my first shake right now, to replace breakfast. It tastes alright, I added the water to the powder in the shaker we bought and left it to cool in the fridge for 10 minutes or so. The product is marketed to a female audience, so it is all a bit too pink for my taste but I can live with the feminine branding, I'm man enough to take it!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Music Charts

In early July the music charts are going to include streaming statistics when they are compiled. Services like Spotify, Deezer, Napster will be included. It will be interesting to see whether this makes much of difference. I used to religiously listen to the chart show on the radio when I was a teenager interested in such things but my interest has waned considerably since those days. The music industry has changed so much since the early days. I reckon most acts now make more money from playing shows than they do from royalties but I suppose royalties can pay for years into the future. Writing a successful Christmas song seems about the best way to make a lot of money for not doing very much.
I listen to some music on Spotify but I only have a free account. I have considered a paid account, mainly to avoid the adverts, which are very annoying.