Friday, 10 December 2010

Tis the Season to be Jolly

I love Christmas! Plus living in Scotland, New Year is really exciting too. My boyfriend has taken back his Nokia N8 which I'll miss. It would be handy having a smartphone, especially since we'll be visiting both our families (Yorkshire and Scotland) and friends over the holidays.

With an N8 I could easily blog/tweet the 12 days of Christmas, uploading straight from the phone rather than having to remember all the right cables to connect my camera. Ovi maps would also be handy for finding friends out and about on Hogmanay!

Mince pies I made earlier - liable to get eaten before I have chance to get my DSLR out, no excuse with a smartphone:

Monday, 15 November 2010

Headphones

It's funny how music is so omnipresent these days. I have music on cassette tapes (remember those?), CD, my computer. I have two ipods (Mini for exercise, Touch for general purpose use) and since I'm currently borrowing my boyfriend's smartphone, I also have music on that. Then there's Spotify so I can get music on my work computer. That's all without considering the musical bombardment from TV, internet, shops, the general world.

But how to listen to all this music? At home that's fine; stereo systems (of varying quality) in most rooms of the flat. Out and about is a different matter. I dislike the Apple in-the-ear headphones that came with my ipods. I think they're simply too big (even the small size) and they become uncomfortable after about 5 songs. I have my big headphones that I use for playing electric guitar (I do live in a flat after all, rocking out late at night might not be appreciated by the neighbours!) but with a 4 metre cable they're not ideal for going on the bus...

My current headphones of choice are "JVC HA-FX34-BE" in-ear (snappy name eh?). They're fine for general use around town etc. More comfortable than the Apple ones but they do get uncomfortable after a while (trying to block out office noise at work all day). Plus in this winter weather I keep getting them tangle in my coat/scalf/hat (and occasionally my mittens).

My boyfriend let me borrow a pair WOMworld lent him. They're the Nokia BH-905i bluetooth headphones and rather nice. Over the ear, noise-blocking and beautiful sound quality. Similarly to Nokia phones though, just a little too big for me. (How's Genetic-modification/gene-therapy going, can they make me Swedish and tall yet?)

I found them brilliant around town but ended up wearing them in the flat quite a lot (the flat is cold and they kept my ears warm and full of music). The only problem with this was that I noticed the power light is on the front, perfectly positioned so that it reflected of my glasses. The blue light blinking in my peripheral vision was suprisingly distracting! This was remedied with some blue-tack but I'm not sure it added to my style-quotient :p

Think I'll stick with my cheap and cheerful in-ear headphones for now. (At least until I have a million pounds spare to spend on luscious bluetooth ones and some more blue-tack).

Sunday, 14 November 2010

A Life in Phones

First things first I'd like to point out that I am not a phone geek. I'm writing this because I'm currently looking for a new phone and want to work out what would suit me. Also this is a *really* long post (you have been warned).

Phone 1: Nokia 3210


I loved this phone. I got it for Christmas when I was 15 and had it for over 5 years without ever being tempted to replace it. This is the phone by which all other phones are judged. I was sad to part with it but my boyfriend (tech-savvy) was embarrassed by the ancient brick I was carrying and bought me a new one.






Phone 2: Nokia 3120 (I think)


This was fine. Bit smaller than my 3210 and had a colour screen but similar in other respects. It did phones and texts. It did not survive being run over by a car...








Phone 3: Nokia 6300

After phone 2 died I decided I would get a phone with a camera! This was an exciting moment. In all other respects it wasn't really much different from what I'd had before though. I used it for texting, phone calls and occasional snaps of stuff I wanted to remember. This phone was great for me, small enough to be easy to slip into a pocket but robust and sturdy enough that I wasn't paranoid about breaking it. Sadly after a couple of loyal years, phone 3 has run away.

Luckily for me, my boyfriend seems to be a smartphone wrangler, they're just magically attracted to him and have a tendency to turn up on the doorstep. This means I've had the chance to try out a few different phones on a temporary basis.


Temporary phone 1: Nokia E5

I'd heard that this was a phone-geeks phone and was told I'd probably struggle. Not sure what they were on about, it was easy to use. Easy to
navigate around and find the options I wanted. No difficulty setting up my facebook account on it, camera was straight forward too. First phone that I've wanted to look something up and gone "Ahah! I can google it!! From my phone!!!"

There were however a couple of things I wasn't keen on. I'm not really a fan of blackberry style phones and found it a bit too big and chunky. It was good for typing emails on but was too big to fit easily into pockets. My old phones I tended to chuck in my bag and forget about. I was quite content that they could rattle around and still work on the other side. Not so the E5 - I'm sure it is fairly sturdy really but I was scared of hurting it.

Another thing I found baffling (but would get used to I'm sure) was the number layout. A phone style keypad overlaid on the QWERTY keyboard but with zero off to one side. Every time I wanted to type in numbers I got confused, expecting them to be laid out QWERTY style.

One thing I really liked was the torch! Just press a button and you have a light. I'd never really considered this as being an awesome phone feature before but found it really useful on a couple of occasions.

Temporary phone 2: Sony Ericsson Xperia X10

Serious geek-phone. I think I lot of my issues were simply that I'm not the target audience for this phone. I want a phone that I can use straight away. I liked the idea that I could customise everything, and in practise I guess that once you have it set up right it's a brilliant phone... but I kept being baffled that I had to set up every little thing. You want a keyboard to type texts? Oh you'll have to choose from myriad options. You want to use facebook, you'll have to decide which app you want to download. I never did manage to find one I liked. I ended up mostly using my ipod touch for internet.

The camera was ok but not as good as I'd expected somehow. Ditto with video, sound quality wasn't great (ok I was at a gig but still).

My major bugbear again was it's size and seeming fragility. I just don't feel comfortable sticking something that is pretty much all screen in a bag with keys. Perhaps smartphones tend to be marketed at men but still, if I can't actually reach to type in landscape mode, I'm not going to use it. I really struggled when texting. My style is to use two thumbs. With my old phones I could quite happily walk along the street texting without looking. With the X10 I had to stop and really concentrate. Then go back and change all the auto-corrections (e.g. it changed "Marzipan" to "Martian". Why would I want to ask my boyfriend if he likes martians in cake-form?) Also it seems I type too quick so it wasn't noticing half my keystrokes.

Another issue I had was how fast it ran through it's battery. Admittedly my previous phones hadn't had very heavy usage but phone 3 usually needed charging every 3 to 4 days. The X10 needed charging twice a day. It's not exactly mobile if I have to leave it charging while I live my life. It turned out this was because I hadn't installed the app to stop it burning through it's battery, or the app that lets you exit other apps (why can't they just have exit buttons?)

Oh and another thing I almost forgot - every time I tried to call someone from it I ended up hanging up on them with my ear. Having a touch-screen "end call" button just didn't work for me. Most calls I made I ended up giving up and using the landline (despite the mobile calls being free).

Also the Sony Ericsson website offends me. Do not play cheesy music and a video at me when I'm just trying to look up the model spec to write a review!

*Going to try it again with a 2.1 update - apparently this addresses a lot of the niggles I have* Or possibly my boyfriend just wants his N8 again ;)

Temporary phone 3: Nokia N8

I'm in love. Almost. I think it was a relief to be using a Nokia again. They just work! I don't know if it's due to always owning Nokia phones but they just make sense to me.

Camera is easy to use and awesome. I'm not sure I'll be able to enjoy another smartphone now. Anything with an inferior camera (i.e. every other phone currently in existence) will feel just that; inferior. The music player is also good and easy to use, as is the internet and everything else.

However, like the X10 it's just too big. In portrait mode it's ok so long as I concentrate (though not happy that the space bar isn't at the bottom of the screen - means I keep hitting the menu button). In landscape mode I like the layout (QWERTY) but again the numbers are down the middle rather than QWERTY style. The phone is just too big though. In landscape I struggle to reach all the buttons even typing with two thumbs. Being touch screen this means I really have to concentrate; if I relax I start missing.

My main bugbear though is that the phone is bafflingly right-handed. I don't really see the need in this day and age. Being left-handed I tend to put the strap round my left wrist. When wanting landscape I tilt the phone 90degrees to the right. Then pause, shake it a bit, then realise "Oh yes, it won't go that way". Take the wrist-strap off and tilt it to the left instead. The Sony Ericsson was the same - most of my photos had to be rotated through 180degrees on the computer afterwards as I apparently took them all upside down...

Future phone: a mystery

Now I just need to work out from my history what my future phone should be. Having used smartphones I do like them. However they're soo big! I don't want something that is uncomfortable to hold and use simply because my hands are too small. I preferably don't want something right-handed either.

Currently contemplating an N97 mini - touchscreen, keyboard and small! Or perhaps C6-01 - like an N8 but smaller.

The only thing I'm confident about is that I want a Nokia. So Nokia, if you want a small, left-handed person's point of view on phones, feel free to send me some to test ;)

Friday, 12 November 2010

Lake District



I think this is my favourite of the photos I took in the Lake District at the weekend. I only realised upon looking at my photos, and everyone else's photos afterwards that I hardly ever take photos of people. Mostly just of mountains, waterfalls, trees. Hopefully now I know this I can practise and improve.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Music

I like most sorts of music, particularly indie and rock-pop type stuff. At the moment I seem to be listening to a lot of classical music. I enjoy a bit of Vivaldi, Mozart and Beethoven now and then but I realised my favourite composers are modern.

Ludovico Einaudi (born in 1955) is a pianist and composer. I particularly like his album Le Onde - brilliant if you need a bit of relaxation! I keep listening to it on the bus to work and I makes me smile.

Philip Glass (born in 1937) composes music for symphonies, operas and film scores. I first became aware of his work through Battlestar Galactica (the modern one with Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck - I want to be her!) Philip Glass' Metamorphosis for Piano (1988) was imagined/remembered/played by Starbuck. One of the few times I've heard something and bought the piano music!

Another soundtrack I like is for Pride & Prejudice (the 2005 film featuring Keira Knightley). Music by Dario Marianelli, piano played by Jean-Yves Thibaudet - another two musicians I want to know more about. The soundtrack is quite varied (unsurprisingly) but again I like the solo piano pieces.

My computer at home is now fixed (thank you computer-fixer!) so hopefully I'll get to play more piano soon.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

photography

Had to rotate this, cameraphones all seem to be left-handed and make everything upside down :(

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Blurgh

I seem to have been sick forever (my cold is now 2 and a half weeks old - surely they aren't supposed to last this long!?) Also my computer is sick. It keeps waking up in the night and getting distressed. Hopefully a trip to Glasgow's Apple store will make it all better. In the meantime no photos :(

If I'm going to Glasgow, it would be rude not to pop into Mandors and pick up some haberdashery goodness:
http://www.mandors.co.uk/

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Photos

It may not look like it (hangs head) but I have been taking photos! I've just been kind of too busy to do anything with them. So this is going to be a catch up post.

Knitting:

Crane:


I'm sure used bullets don't actually work very well:

Blackford Pond, 5 minutes walk from the flat:

First ever home made jam (plum):

Cookie cutters (but no circle cutters):

Gin & Tonic:

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Dramatic Sky

All day the weather has been very changeable. Alternating heavy rain with sunshine. Was out in the car in the evening but got back in time to run to the top of the block of flats and catch the last of the sunset.

Hot off the camera, no post production at all:

Monday, 6 September 2010

Stepped Buildings

One of the things I like about Edinburgh is how random the buildings are. You can be walking down a street you think you know well when a small (or large) detail leaps out at you, that you've never noticed before. Today I was sitting outside the National Museum of Scotland and noticed the buildings opposite look like a set of steps for a giant. Not a great photo but I thought it was fun. I hope to explore a lot more of Edinburgh on foot before we leave. I feel there is a lot I haven't yet seen.


If you know of any interesting/exciting places, let me know! I've heard of secret public gardens you can reach from the Royal Mile but have been waiting for tourist season to die down before exploring.

Edinburgh Fireworks

Edinburgh festival fireworks. Would have been much easier with a tripod but couldn't be bothered carrying one around town all day. We had a good view from Princes Street Gardens and it was actually nice and warm. A bit windy though which meant some of the fireworks drifted quite a lot. Still, very impressive!


Lots of fireworks. We enjoyed the music too, especially one about Yul Brynner and Cossacks (Music from Taras Bulba I think).

Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Beach

On Saturday we went to the beach! Yellowcraigs to be specific. It's a bit of a drive from Edinburgh but was your stereotypical beach. Nice sand, some interesting rock pools, sand dunes, sea at an ideal distance. We had a barbecue and watched people kayak out to Fidra Island opposite.


It was just breezy enough for kites so there were quite a few flying. Then this guy came along and put them all to shame. Huuuge kite!

There was some seaweed near the rocks but it was nice and ornamental rather than being overwhelming smelly.

All in all a good day despite burning my finger. Who knew sand could get red hot!?

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Flower gate at the botanic gardens:

I like the reflections. 50mm total manual lens, I'm getting the hang of it now and am enjoying having to think rather than just point and shoot.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Nokia

Playing with a lovely full manual 50mm lens. I want one:) I do like a nice shallow depth of field.

T'other half has managed to win *another* Nokia competition. I think this is his 3rd all expenses paid Nokia trip but could be his 4th. I lose track. This time he's going to London for 3days to Nokiaworld. I don't think it involves any rollercoasters so I'm not too jealous.

He even gets a free t-shirt:

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Photo a Day - Mackerel Skies

Well that's the plan anyway. Since my life is no longer utterly controlled by someone else's PhD (he handed in Friday and has his viva in a month) I thought I should do something fun! I want to do more photography but am not in the habit of taking my camera everywhere. I'm hoping by committing myself to a photo a day (initially for September but hopefully for a year) I will become more inspired.


Photo 1:
I walked to work today and thought the sky was beautiful. I always find this type of clouds reminds me of mackerel :) It looks like a spring sky but the trees have already lost their leaves. Only birds decorate them now.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Kitsch Kitten

Is it wrong to buy something because it's so twee it's good?


My excuse is that I'm not allowed to buy real live kittens :) This one is also very useful as he pours milk delightfully with no drips.

The muffin is blueberry and bananananana. Tasty and surprisingly healthy recipe from the BBC:
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/359605/the-ultimate-makeover-blueberry-muffins

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Fun Day

Today was a good day.

It involved penguin coffee and a huuuge pastry for breakfast. Henri's of Morningside makes massive tasty pastries. My favourite is a swirly chocolate one:


Lunch was a multitude of ice cream and toppings. It was fun being practically on the Royal Mile but totally cut off from the tourists! The views were impressive:

After ice cream I wandered through the Meadows and joined the Ravelry group knitting in the sunshine. Admittedly I wasn't knitting but I was finishing off my new jumper. I'm inordinately proud of my new (and first) jumper:


Pattern from Needled:
http://needled.wordpress.com/

Tip of the day: carry a camera and the tourists will think you are one of them and *not* ask for directions :)

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Fake Cake

I like cake. I like cake so much that even when I'm not eating cake, I'm still thinking about cake:
Made from a felt kit sent to me from Japan :)

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Sunshine and Clouds

The annoying thing about living in a flat is that we don't get much sunlight. The flat faces north-east and is surrounded by other blocks of flats. Not ideal. Two of the windowsills get sun for an hour or two a day but it doesn't really get any further into the room.

When the sun does shine it brightens up anything on the windowsill, currently roses:


One of our cacti is growing another lobe. With the light glowing through, the buds look almost like highlighter pens to me:

Dramatic skies can be fun too though:


Some day I shall have a garden. I can only hope it is south facing and suitable for flowers and fruits and vegetables, I can't wait to meet it:)

Monday, 5 July 2010

Camera Bag

For my upcoming trip to Japan (hurray huzzah!!!) I decided a small camera bag might be handy. The one I have is very sturdy but also huge. My boyfriend suggested I make a travel-bag that could double as a support for taking photos without a tripod.

A little bit of sewing later and, the underneath:


The top (both pieces of fabric from John Lewis fat quarters):

The camera inside. The blue fabric is from a t-shirt to give a big of extra protection, and also means a layer of fabric between the camera and the strap:

Camera safely tucked away and zipped up:

When I'm Japan (yay!!) I plan to fill the case with rice or pasta or something. I won't be putting the camera away anyway and a camera sized cushion will be perfect for getting steady shots (or more likely, cheesy self portraits).

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Green Summer

Everything is looking so lush outside, lots of sunshine and lots of rain. The plants like it at least.


Lacy flowers down by the burn:


Looking up through layers upon layers of branches:




A busy bee and a relaxing cat:

And luscious peach, blueberry and almond cake:

Recipe at:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jun/20/nigel-slater-recipes-summer-cakes

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Tea

I do like a nice cup of tea. But then I suppose I have to since I'm from Yorkshire. I've pretty much always used a teabag in a mug, and kind of felt something was lacking. Then at Christmas, I got a gorgeous red 2cup teapot! Fantastic I thought, tea will be a much more civilised experience now! Except I still only had mugs. Pouring from a teapot into a mug somehow seems sacrilegious...

Two months later, I've had no luck finding nice teacups in the charity shops of Morningside, or even cheap ones! Luckily my new job is right next to a charity shop, £1.50 later:

Monday, 8 March 2010

Knitting Elephant

I made an Elijah, he's very slow at knitting but luckily he has a friend to fetch him cosy wool:

video

Monday, 1 February 2010

Epic Buns

Mmm, I just spent a lovely evening baking. Chocolate Brownie (Nigel Slater's recipe) for a pot luck lunch at work, plus *Epic Buns*.

Epic Bun recipe:
Make a tasty vanilla sponge-type bun mixture (I used the one in the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook but you could use any bun mix)
Put the mix into bun cases (I used my new silicone ones, much less fiddly than paper ones!)
Put a cherry into the centre of each case (I used tinned cherry filling stuff, I think it's meant to be for putting in pies)
Bake for the time required by the bun recipe
Allow to cool completely and add icing

Delicious, moist and juicy:)

Buns hot from the oven


Cherries hidden beneath icing and sprinkles, a tasty surprise:)

This being selfish and baking selfishly is definitely a good thing!