Too Good To Be True

A family member called me up today asking for advice on how to handle what post-purchase seemed like an Internet scam — which indeed it does. After having assured her in my best doctorly-vague manner (“I can’t see anything wrong at this point but let’s take an appointment with the bank for further check-ups…“), I noticed a step they might have taken in order to bypass common sense. Continue reading

A Change in Hosting

The blog has been hosted by Bluehost since the beginning, but due to raising prices and me realising that I wasn’t using all their advanced features, it’s now been moved to UnoEuro instead for around one tenth of the price.

For the past week it’s been running smoothly, perhaps even a bit faster from where I sit, with the only issue being that I haven’t been able to get direct access to a full backup of the site along with the databases.

The Sad Evolution of Apple?

I bought my first Apple product in the summer of 2010, a 13″ MacBook Pro, after years of encouragement from friends. At that point I was already pretty fed up about Windows (XP at the time) so my hesitations were due to the somewhat high price tag of the beast, at least compared to other laptops of the time such as ASUS and Dell, and even IBM. However one day I ended up spending some time in front of one, and magic happened: Windows all of a sudden seemed square and stuck, and only my old IBM ThinkPad could match the solid quality feel the MacBook offered.

A special offer meant I also got an iPod Touch with the laptop: unlike my little Logitech MP3 player (partially bought a few years earlier to rebel against the fact that everyone else was buying Apple) the iPod was ready for advanced applications such as Spotify. Later I’ve been long-time borrowing an old iPhone and have acquired an iPod Mini and an iPad.

I don’t think I have blindly invested in so many Apple: every item has been compared to the competition with a willingness to choose the best product. The Apple products simply won because they by far seemed the best, and whatever small gap they may have had in terms of cutting edge technology was plenty made up for in overall quality feel.

Unfortunately it seems that those days might be over; gone, some speculate, with Steve Jobs. Continue reading

Year 2012

To be honest, the past year seems a bit flat or grey. It surely hasn’t been a bad year, and when I come to think of it surprisingly many big adventures, including exotic travel and exciting courses, have actually filled the year. Yet I don’t want it as a template for the ones to follow either.

It has also been great to be closer to and have more visits from my family than in recent years (although still a few hours away by car). I’ve also had a good job surrounded by nice colleagues.

The problem, I suspect, is that something has been missing in the everyday life. A mismatch between the surrounding city and me. And a stand still in personal development. This has made for a year of far too many pointless days.

Lesson learned perhaps, that the occasional escapes providing spikes of happiness cannot form a meaningful year unless the days in-between are also good? That unhappy weekdays cannot be compensated for by the occasional adventures, but in fact puts them in the shadows?

Supposedly it has something to do with Paris and wanting something else from life. It also begs the question of whether or not I can lead a happy life without the big adventures? But let’s return to that in a later post when finishing the PhD has left more air for reflection.

Instead, let’s have a summary of the adventures that after all made the year stand out in some ways.

First of all, the year provided several regular appointments to sweeten the everyday, including obtaining a motorcycle license and taking a photography course in darkroom film and print development. As I haven’t bought a motorcycle yet the license so far only represents good memories, but often during autumn have I found happiness in getting into film photography and going to the darkroom.

My bimonthly guitar lessons have been oases of life that each time without exception made me forget whatever troubled me and brought me back to the present. With my teacher we have covered among others songs of Iggy Pop, The Clash, The Thermals, and Surfer Blood. The idea of writing my own songs, or even playing live, is still far away; but the improvements are noticeable and things are coming more easily now.

The year also saw going to the fitness centre replaced by going to the squash centre. I decided back in Paris that I must have some kind of sport in my life (called this a value or axiom), but the former simply became too much of a duty; squash on the other hand is still fresh and motivating.

Moving on to the bigger singular adventures, work took me to Boston, Houston, and New York City in the US; Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, and The Dead Sea in Israel; and Bonaire in the Caribbean. Curiously enough, they all crammed together in the first few months of the year, in one case giving only a few days of rest in-between.

The two weeks at Boston University gave several new inputs academically and I greatly enjoyed the teaching and hospitality of my host. My girlfriend joined me for one of the weeks and together we also saw a fair bit of the city. I think it’s a city that gives a better impression during summer yet we still enjoyed both its atmosphere and its exhibitions. And although it was smaller than I had expected, its skyscrapers and architecture (as always in the US) installed a shock and fascination in my european eyes.

Next up was Israel for the one week winter school on lattice-based crypto held just outside Tel-Aviv. During the week we got to see parts of Tel-Aviv and for the weekend we rented a car to go to Jerusalem and The Dead Sea. My interest in Israel was definitely sparkled by this trip and it’s been put on my list of places to come back to.

Straight after Israel I headed for a week-long conference on Bonaire. My girlfriend joined me again and during the scheduled eight hours overlay in Houston (clever clever) we had a look at the city and found what looked like a proper Texan BBQ restaurant. On Boniare I managed to resist the temptation of skipping out on the conference to go diving (unlike many of my colleagues) and instead went with my girlfriend evenings and after the conference was over — great place for diving, and first time night diving. On the way back we again had a scheduled five hours overlay in New York City (clever clever, although we almost missed the plane) to go for a quick burger and a walk in Central Park.

Continuing in travel, we spent a few weekends in spring following Marguerituren around Denmark (onetwo, three, four, and five). I’m glad we saw the country from this romantic angle, and later during our summer trip to Sweden we did not hesitate to spend the extra time and petrol taking the Swedish equivalent when the opportunity presented itself. An excellent trip by the way, that included tenting (one and two), Stockholm, and a sailing course north of Göteborg. To finish off our nordic summer we also spent a weekend in beautiful Norway visiting old friends.

I’ve also attended a lot of great concerts during the year. The Thermals played in Paris during spring. The Northside Festival featured both Noah and the WhaleThe Asteroids Galaxy Tour, and Kashmir. We finally managed to catch The Buzzcocks, and could throw in Rancid and Cock Sparrer at the same time. Certainly also worth mentioning is Daniel Norgren whom we first caught a bit unexpected at a blues concert at Tobakken in Esbjerg but ended up also booking tickets for at Atlas in Aarhus.

Naturally I’ve also spent some time in France, of which a long walk I in the streets of beautiful Paris with a camera in my hand stands out most memorable — fortunately this is still a guarantee of happiness.

And last, but not least, a weekend in London cemented the belief that big cities are the next step.

New Blog

For a while I’ve been wanting to start writing a blog again. Off the top of my head I think it’s partly to share my doings and thoughts with family, friends, and anyone interested, and partly to build a journal for myself. Combined with the fact that I’ve realised Facebook isn’t the way to go a blog seemed natural: in my eyes Facebook is dying (as a result of companies and mothers starting to use it) and was perhaps never suitable for blog material anyway. As I also have plans for using my Internet domain to present my photos it seemed suitable to have the personal stuff in the form of a blog.

For now posts will mainly fall in three categories: photography, music, travel, and university. The first three are outlets about the fun I have in life, including places I visit, photos I take, exhibitions and concerts I go to, and albums I come across. The last one contains the serious updates on how the PhD is coming along :). Perhaps a bit contrary to my previous blog I will try to make posts more personal and less about the facts.

Finally a few name droppings for those interested in the technical details. It was an easy choice to use WordPress as the blogging software. Photo storage was another thing, most notable because I wanted a solution where I could control as much as possible directly from Adobe Lightroom, including uploading and updating photos. I decided to go with Flickr since it seems flexible, cheap, is extendable via the Flickr API, and integrates well with Lightroom. Having decided on these systems Bluehost seemed to provide the best hosting service for the price. Finally, I’m using Slickr Flickr to pull the photos from Flickr down to the blog, and using Lightbox Plus to display in an interactive way.