Leaving My iPhone Behind

I’ve been an Apple fan for years now. I feel I’ve dothed my cap to the tech giant many times over the years and have even managed to sway a few other to become converts of the company responsible for some of the greatest innovations.

I wrote a post last year on the subject of Apple and the iPhone 5, my disappointment from Apple largely came from their lack of hardware innovations in recent years. Sure the cameras have improved, processing power and speed have increased as well, but where I really feel I’m losing out as part of the Apple eco-system is in advances in apps and third party technology. It took Apple a good few years before they changed iOS in any great way - I’m now thinking it was too little too late.

In the time it took Apple to upgrade to iOS 7, I began to utilise and ultimately became dependant on apps like Dropbox and Spotify. Those two apps alone have been enough to essentially remove my phone from my device cycle. About the only thing that is the same now between my various devices are messaging and browsers apps.

Given all the above, I’ve really had the same phone since the iPhone 4 now, and I think it’s a fair statement that 3 years of essentially the same phone is about the right time for an upgrade.

I’ve been keeping my eye on the Nexus range for quite a while now, and was almost at the point of getting ready to purchase one when rumours of the Nexus 5 started to surface. I decided to wait it out and see what the specs were before getting too involved and when those specs finally did see the light of day, I was really pleased! If I’m being honest, the specs are as near as makes no difference to my current iPhone 5, on top of this there are two very specific aspects which appeal to me; The Android Kit Kat OS and NFC capability. On top of this - It’s only AU$399

I ordered my Nexus 5 a few days ago and it should be waiting for me back in Melbourne by the time I get in to the office.

I’m sure Charleigh will be pleased as her phone is inevitably about to be upgraded, and I’m really excited to be back on Android for the first time since my Google G-1 (Yeah, I know…)

Leaving my iPhone behind

I’ve been an avid Apple fan for years now. I feel I’ve dothed my cap to the tech giant many times over the years and have even managed to sway a few other to become converts of what is undoubtedly the company responsible for some of the greatest innovations the world at large has seen; both in terms of technology and style.

I wrote a post last year on the subject of Apple and the iPhone 5, my disappointment from Apple largely came from their lack of hardware innovations in recent years. Sure the cameras have improved, processing power and speed have increased as well, but where I really feel I’m losing out as part of the Apple eco-system is in advances in apps and third party technology. It took Apple a good few years before they changed iOS in any great way - I’m now thinking it was too little too late.

In the time it took Apple to upgrade to iOS 7, I began to utilise and ultimately became dependant on apps like Dropbox and Spotify. Those two apps alone have been enough to essentially remove my phone from my device cycle. About the only thing that is the same now between my various devices are messaging and browsers apps.

Given all the above, I’ve really had the same phone since the iPhone 4 now, and I think it’s a fair statement that 3 years of essentially the same phone is about the right time for an upgrade.

I’ve been keeping my eye on the Nexus range for quite a while now, and was almost at the point of getting ready to purchase one when rumours of the Nexus 5 started to surface. I decided to wait it out and see what the specs were before getting too involved and when those specs finally did see the light of day, I was really pleased! If I’m being honest, the specs are as near as makes no difference to my current iPhone 5, on top of this there are two very specific aspects which appeal to me; The Android Kit Kat OS and NFC capability. On top of this - It’s only AU$399

I ordered my Nexus 5 a few days ago and it should be waiting for me back in Melbourne by the time I get in to the office.

I’m sure Charleigh will be pleased as her phone is inevitably about to be upgraded, and I’m really excited to be back on Android for the first time since my Google G-1 (Yeah, I know…)

Learning to cook Moroccan

Cooking has always been a huge passion of mine, from an early age I always spent time learning to cook with my Mum. Learning the basics at a young age gave me a real boost in confidence when it came to cooking, but it wasn’t until Charleigh and Ellie came in to my life that I really started to become more diverse in what I was cooking.

Growing up with a nut allergy, I found myself constantly excusing myself from certain dishes or restaurants entirely - but as I’ve grown, I’ve learned to appreciate many more flavours and styles of food. This made our offices Christmas party an incredible treat for me, not only did we get to spend the day with 2 professional chefs, we also got to learn about and cook a cuisine which was entirely new to me.

Click through on the picture above to see more of our amazing day.

Getting ready to travel

I love time off, who doesn’t? But there’s always that mammoth task of having to organise everything which is the slight downer on the lead up to your holiday…

To make matters slightly worse this time, I’m out of the office tomorrow for a meeting with a client, which means I’ve lost a day which I would have used to prepare my colleagues with some work I need them to do in the meantime and unfortunately, I’ve also lost the extra day I had to complete some outstanding work. It won’t be a problem, I’ve got a lot done already and it’s only 11am, which is definitely a bonus! But it just puts a slight bummer on everything.

Aside from the generic work I need to get done in the meantime, I’ve also got a lot of personal stuff to get out of the way too… Printing boarding passes for the tunnel, getting a hard copy of our breakdown cover from the RAC… Those all stick directly with the trip! Other than that, I’ve got to get my suit from our other office and get it back to Greenwich without a suit bag, I’ve got to get up to Worcestershire tomorrow for this meeting, Saturday we’ve been invited to a wedding and then Sunday I’ve got to get back to Worcester to finish packing the car, give it a final service and we’re off!

 

I need a hobby…

One thing spending (so far) 7 weeks away from Charleigh has taught me, is that I really don’t have much to do in my spare time. I’ve always been fairly active, from a young age my brother and I had tons of hobbies… Music, Rock climbing, cycling, kayaking, all sorts of stuff! But as I’ve got older I seem to have pushed those things further and further down my priority list.

I’ve always regretted not keeping up with the things I enjoy doing in my spare time… For the most part, it’s probably because I felt I had more interesting things going on, but looking back I realise that not to be the case for the most part. Of course there are things in life I will never regret, some things just took precedence. But I think I’ve now got to a stage in my life where, for one, there’s nothing I have to do anymore. Being this far away from friends means I no longer have an obligation to go and spend time with them (Not that I ever felt obligated in the sense that it’s something I should have been doing, but it certainly sat higher on my priority list than my own spare time did). Perhaps that’s half the battle? I’ve constantly tried to keep myself busy for one reason or another, usually trying to avoid spending time to myself, but now Charleigh, Ellie and I have our home together, we both enjoy just chilling out now and again. I think that this is now the time in which we’re both able to come home from work, put Ellie to bed, and have our time.

Looking back at the things I’ve missed out on, one stands out far more than the others. Music. There was a time when if I wasn’t at school or eating, id be playing guitar, learning new songs, honing my skills. It’s certainly something I miss and something I truly hope to bring back to my life.

When I first moved to Australia, I didn’t really leave myself enough time to get a hard case for one of my acoustic guitars and as such, it sits in England, without me. I’m going to make a change, I’m going to go and buy the guitar I’ve always wanted and a MIDI controller and get back in to music. There have always been several levels on which I’ve enjoyed music… Listening to it, writing it, recording it… I’m going to try much harder to enjoy my talent, and maybe someone else will too!

I’m obsessed with obsession

For the past couple of years, I’ve really tried to get obsessed, but the only thing I seem to be able to obsess over, is in fact other people’s obsessions.

In 2008 Adam Savage gave a fantastic talk about ‘The Art of Obsession’ which really struck a chord with me. His story is all about his journey to creating what is seen by many as the absolute item of obsession, The Maltese Falcon. Over the course of 20 odd minutes he talks about how his fascination for making ultimately led him to yearn for creating a true replica of this prized object - Not just a version for himself, but the ultimate, most precise replica there is of the falcon.

I took a couple of things away from this talk, one of those major points was how he completely immersed himself in the project he was working on at the time - I’m not talking from the point of view of time, of course it was a lengthy process to complete, I’m speaking of the true passion for the object which he held on to and used in order to painstakingly complete his replica.

The second point I took away from his talk was how important it is to be obsessed with something; For some people their obsession is their work, for others it’s their rock-climbing hobby. Whatever the subject is, these people are all completely and utterly controlled by their fascination with their chosen subject.

This is the point at which I begin to struggle, having tried so many different hobbies; Kayaking, Rock Climbing, Playing Guitar etc. One thing these hobbies share is my loss of enthusiasm. It saddens me to have played guitar for almost 8 years every day, to one day lose the passion I once had for that subject. It upsets me that I let this happen, but I think that was the last ‘thing’ I had which I was truly obsessed about. Since that time, it’s been small successions of tried and failed hobbies. I’m not necessarily talking about an active hobby, just something I can really obsess over.

There’s a constant stream of information washing over me - I’m always reading, learning and understanding more about various subjects, most recently, making. I absolutely love watching people like Adam Savage, Harrison Krix and the fantastic Stan Winston School, pouring themselves into objects which they truly love and desire. I love it to the point that watching these people learn and develop seems to have become my obsession of sorts.

I’ve made several attempts and trying to learn just some of the skills that these people all possess, but all it seems to no avail. I have to wonder if perhaps I’m trying to immerse myself just a little too much? Most recently I’ve decided to give model making a try, I want to learn the basics of moulding from clay and try to teach myself a new skill. With a goal in mind, I know where I want to end up, I just need to try and make this my obsession.

Is there a thing as too much technology?

I’ve often thought about just how much technology I have, generally I think if I really have a need for half the things I own, or if it’s really more of a desire to have, use and play with the items I buy. Generally speaking I don’t own that much, but I do question just how many of these things I could get rid of and still live my life as I have done?

  • iPhone 4S
  • iPad 2
  • 13” MacBook Pro
  • Canon EOS 1100D
  • Canon Powershot A2400
  • Nike+ Fuelband

Now it’s probably worth bearing in mind, this isn’t a full list of the things I own, of course not.. This is just a list of things I’ve used in the past couple of days…

I really enjoy having these things, I spent some time over the weekend (As previously posted), playing around with my DSLR, trying to achieve a decent level of picture with HDR photography. I constantly use my iPhone (I’ve always mantained, if I lost it, it broke or was stolen, I’d go straight out and buy another). My Macbook is essentially the centre for all of these devices, I couldn’t live without it (Proven by the fact that this is the 5th Macbook I’ve owned).

I love my iPad, more recently we’ve been using it at home as a hub for movies and music, but it’s too fantastic a device for me to consider ever getting rid of.. (I’ve tried that twice before and just ended up with another iPad in my possession).

Our Canon Powershot is also a recent purchase, but I think a fantastic call. Our iPhones take fantastic pictures, no doubt whatsoever, but since moving to Australia I made the decision to try and photograph as much as possible. I want to ensure we see and do as many things as possible, but I also want to make sure we’re not just using our iPhones to record those memories, equally I don’t want to be carrying my DSLR everywhere with me… That’s really only suited to special occasions, or particular projects I’d like to give a go.

The Nike+ Fuelband is something I’ve only recently purchased, but I absolutely love it. For those that don’t know, you wear it like a watch, but it tracks your movement in several different ways.. Steps, Calories burned and Nike Fuel. It gives me something to aim for in terms of movement and also allows me the chance to compete!

I absolutely love my digital lifestyle, I wouldn’t change a single aspect of it. Looking at the tech I use on a granular level like this, I’m positive it’s a good thing, despite some people’s takes on it. (Google “The Veldt” if you’re not familiar with the story).

Moving Away From Social Storage

I’ve long been a user of many different online services over the years I’ve been online, from some of the early social networking tools right the way up to the now more common and much more involved and automatic life-logging services. I’d always been a great fan of these kinds of applications, especially those which allowed me to upload, store and share my pictures.

Over the past few years the ways in which we all use these types of sites/applications has exploded. Most of my friends and family went from using these services as infrequent, useful ways of communication to 99% of their lives being distributed online within a matter of months. This had been fantastic (especially in the last couple of years whilst I’ve been living in Australia) as ways of sharing where we are, what we’re doing and the pictures of those events - All in a domain that was completely separate from time.

More recently, I’ve begun to take photography much more seriously. It’s no longer just something I’m using to capture moments, or share things - I’m now starting to build out quite the catalog of pictures that I want to keep in a much more personal sense than sharing online.

Whilst I’ve found the likes of Instagram & Facebook really useful, there are two very distinct reasons for which I’m now beginning to move away from these platforms:

I want to be more selective with what I place online.

What I mean by that is I’ve always tended to overuse social networking. Over-sharing of information isn’t my major concern here, whilst an issue in it’s own right, I see that more as something that I’ve always managed to be fairly safe with; I don’t post levels of personal information that could possibly endanger myself and certainly don’t make myself a target for online fraud.

My use of the term “overuse of social network” is really aimed towards my photos. I’m not the type of Facebook member with 12,000 tagged photos, nor do I post images of ever meal, but I certainly take digital photography for granted and that’s leading to something I really want to resolve: The quality of my photos are low because the volume of those picture are high.

I want to own what’s mine.

This is a subject that’s been written by just about everyone in the last couple of months, so I won’t go in to the unnecessary details, but ultimately I don’t want to be giving away my personal pictures (being shared for friends & family to see) to anyone who feels they’d make a fantastic backdrop on the next advertising campaign of a mid-market upholsterer.

To this extent two things are now happening. I’ll no longer be posting quite the amount of pictures that I used to, to the majority of social networks. Instead I’ll be using my own site, my own domain, as a place to store the images I feel I want to share, and keeping almost every other image privately.

My Everyday Carry

I’ve been a really big fan of EDCs for a while now, it saddens me that Everyday Carry isn’t up and running anymore, so I wanted to post my typical day carry. If I’m carrying my back I tend to also have my laptop on me as well, but this covers the majority!

*iPad Mini
*iPhone 5
*Ray-ban Glasses
*Status Anxiety Wallet
*Sennheiser CX300II Headphones
*Komono Watch
*Parker Ballpoint Pen
*Carmex
*Lighter

My New Toy: GoPro Hero3 Black Edition

For the past couple of months I’ve been lusting over a Go Pro. For years now I’ve had an affinity with life-logging, I think I’ve proven that to myself with the array of cameras I’ve owned along with the amount I constantly update/check-in, but this time I wanted to move to the next level.

In a months time I’m meeting my brother in LA for our next annual road trip! Last year we headed to Europe and managed to drive through 5 countries in 4 days, this time we’re renting a car on the west coast and aiming to see as much as possible of the US inside the week we’ve given ourselves! The last trip we made I bought an HD video camera for and we managed to get some pretty awesome shots, but unfortunately my capacity for video editing was pretty limited at the time, that along with computer/hard drive changes, meant I lost the majority of the footage I got. This time however I plan for that to be different!

Along with the Go Pro, I also bought a suction cup mount and a head mount so the hope is to get as much footage (good or otherwise) that I can then use to start putting together decent videos.

Nike+ Fuelband - 3 months on

I’ve had my Nike+ Fuelband now for just over 3 months.. In that time I’ve worn it every day, without fail. I absolutely love it! But, let me backup a little bit here and run through what I was initially after.

Activity Tracking - One of the biggest reasons I was after something like the Fuelband, was to track how active I was, or indeed, wasn’t. Considering I sit at a desk all day, I’ve always been concerned about how inactive I am and to that end, I wanted something that would help inspire me to take the extra 30 minute walk throughout the day, or to make sure I didn’t just veg out all weekend. In the last 3 months there are only a handful of days on which I’ve not quite reached my goal. I won’t make an excuse for being lazy, I think it’s fair to say a day of relaxation is a good thing! All things considered though, the Fuelband really has inspired me to be more active.. I find myself wanting to make sure I reach my goal, to the point I’ll even walk to the shop and back to make sure I get there.

Competition - Everybody is somewhat competitive and I am no exception. The one thing I must admit I don’t like about the Fuelband though is that you can only be competitive with people you actually know who own one. That’s not something I’d really considered when buying it, so I can’t be all that upset with it, but given the choice I might have thought twice or considered a different device if there were some more socially connected aspects to it.

Non-Walking Activity - Something I’d really like to have in the Fuelband that there are plenty of separate apps for, is logging activities other than walking.. If you check out something like the FitBit Zip, you’re able to manually add weight-based workouts, swimming activity and even food intake! That would be fantastic and is definitely something that the Fuelband is missing.

Cross App Integration - This again, isn’t something that the Fuelband claims to do, but is definitely something it misses out on. Within the app you’re able to share your activity with friends on Facebook and tweet about it. But I’d love some kind of integration with maps. Perhaps something along the lines of “You’re near a local favourite running route!” as an alert? I’m really daydreaming here I think, but it’s nice to dream!

In essence, I love the Fuelband. It really has improved my activity! But I must admit, I’m really tempted by trying out another device… More specifically the FitBit Zip, purely because it has a lot of the integrations I would like. I’ll continue to use the Fuelband, I have no intention of moving away from it. To be honest, the reasons I initially wanted the Fuelband weren’t to compete, they were to help me! So there’s no reason to stop using it, just to make the activity more social!

On Apple and the iPhone 5

I’ve always been fairly hesitant to write anything about subjects like this, mainly because so many other people do and quite frankly, I just don’t want their opinions…

That said, a friend and I were just discussing the announcement of the new iPhone and this was my response to him.

I’ve gotta be honest - I am disappointed, but I’m not as disappointed with the phone, so much the poor manor in which they handled the leaks.. If we didn’t know anything 6 weeks ago (As with the launch of the first phone for instance), what we found out would have been a much better presentation… That said, you’re right, the phone is still lacking - But the only way in which I think it’s lesser than lets say the SGS3, is NFC…

Anything else we’re looking at in comparison is pretty much OS based, right? And changes for that are easy to make.. So perhaps it’s not missing out on so much?

I’m blabbering slightly, but also defending a brand and product I love… I will get an iPhone 5, it’s inevitable… But like I say, I also have an HTC One X for work, so what am I missing out on really?

Again - I bought in to the Apple family a long time ago and as a result, my changing from an iPhone to anything else at this point, would render my synchronous world fairly useless… I’m going to buy a Galaxy Nexus tablet and I do have a PC - So I’m not entirely drowned in Apple products.. But, this product launch just wasn’t the same, and I put that down to leadership.

For me, it’s a family of products and comparing one manufacturer of a phone to another is an exercise in futility. If I wanted a Samsung Galaxy, I’d get one. I just don’t want it. I want my iPhone, my iPad and Macbook Pro and I want the ease of use I’ve come to love. I want to not have to worry about syncing devices, keeping OS’ up to date, nor do I want to have 4 different operating systems to live with.

Most people’s decisions in life are aimed at making their lives easier, to allow them to focus on the things that really matter. To me, I couldn’t care less that the SGS3 or the new Nokia have NFC - I’m really not bothered… My cards are NFC enabled and that’s all that matters. If one day Apple do release a phone with that capability, then great. But for now, who really cares?

Road trip

At this end of this month, my brother and I are heading out to Europe for a bit of a road trip. Initially out only plan was to make our way out to Oktoberfest somewhere in Germany, but after about a month of planning, that road trip got slightly more excessive!

I shall be blogging along the way!

Scan Number 1: Our Baby’s Life So Far

This week saw the first in a line of exciting events for us as a family, as we went to an appointment at Future Medial Imaging Group, for our initial ultrasound. We found out just a couple of weeks ago that Charleigh and I were expecting a baby together and we’ve been really taken back by just how impressive the Australian Healthcare system can be. Within a day of having confirmation from our doctor that we were indeed expecting, Charleigh had already completed her first round of blood tests and we were booking ourselves back with our GP to hear the results.

The scan itself was incredibly impressive - I’ve personally had an ultrasound before, so the technology was not particularly new to me, but the amount of detail we could see was mind-blowing. More so than the detail of the images, was how much (or indeed how little) of the baby has formed. To our surprise the little monster measured in at 0.88cm in length, still attached to it’s yolk sack it doesn’t even have a discernible shape, but we could already make out it’s heartbeat, measuring at 130bpm. We’re told that in two weeks time, the baby will already have begun growing limb-buds and just a few days after that will be a fully formed foetus.

Whilst we do have a wonderful family already, this part of the process is entirely new to me and I’m really looking forward to what is going to happen over the coming weeks. We’re scheduled back in at the doctors tomorrow for a walk through of the ultrasound scans Charleigh had, so I guess we’ll learn a little more about the next steps then.

We already have a hospital “assigned” where the baby will be born (Assuming the pregnancy goes to the plan of both us and our doctor), so I can only imagine that we’ll be taking it easy for the next few weeks before our next scan is booked in so that we can find out the gender!

Since we’re so early in finding a lot of this out, I think we’re both slightly confused as to what we’re supposed to be doing next… It’ll be months before we need to start looking at cots, moses baskets and clothing etc. but I already find myself trawling around furniture and baby sites, filled with anticipation for what will be happening around the beginning of May next year.

Before all of that however comes one of the most anticipated parts of pregnancy… Picking a name! We’ve been hypothetically talking about baby names for quite a while now, so we do have some sort of a shortlist in mind. We’re continuing to work on that, but no doubt whatever name we ultimately pick (Whether that’s before or after we know the gender), is likely to be completely abandoned the moment our baby is born.

The Wrong Priorities

I’m a terrible procrastinator. While ostensibly it may not look that way, I somehow constantly find time to be surfing through various blogs, laughing at the typical meme, even now there’s probably something else I should be doing rather than typing this up. Spending so much time online has caused me to become inconsiderate, it’s caused me to pay less attention to people, and that’s something I just don’t want.

I just finished reading a fantastic post by Paul Miller, entitled I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet. For those that aren’t familiar with Paul, just over a year ago he quit the internet. His effort wasn’t simply deactivating his Facebook account and deleting Twitter, he completely unplugged himself in every way.

While working my way through his post one very specific line struck a chord with me:

What I do know is that I can’t blame the internet, or any circumstance, for my problems. I have many of the same priorities I had before I left the internet: family, friends, work, learning. And I have no guarantee I’ll stick with them when I get back on the internet — I probably won’t, to be honest. But at least I’ll know that it’s not the internet’s fault. I’ll know who’s responsible, and who can fix it.

I feel I’ve always managed myself and my time fairly well… I know there are times at which I procrastinate more than I should, but despite that I’ve always gone above and beyond what is expected of me at work. In my personal life however, I know that the internet has always consumed me. Now that’s not to say I’m constantly online in one respect or another, but I do come fairly close. I’d always seen it as a part of my generation - Moving to a different country was something I definitely used to lie to myself about the amount of time I spent online, updating friends & family with what was happening, posting pictures of where we were going to Instagram, and checking in wherever possible on Foursquare, FOMO (Fear of missing out) is something that I can definitely identify with.

A couple of months ago now, I made the decision to delete my Instagram account. This move wasn’t really directed at my use of the internet, I’d started becoming more interested in photography and felt that by snapping a quick picture of whatever I was doing at the time, made for a sufficient documentation of my life. I was wrong. I backed up the photos I’d taken, deleted my account and spent more time learning about the DSLR I’d purchased nearly a year earlier. As a result, I started to take what I felt were much better images; I don’t carry my camera everywhere, that’s just impractical, but when I do I think much more about how I’ll see these photos in the years to come and worry far less about how other people see what I’m doing and the pictures I’m uploading.

Right, back off my tangent there - I’m not planning to leave the internet. It’s what my career is based on and without a drastic change in lifestyle, that’s just not possible. However, what I can do is make a vow to spend less time procrastinating around the internet, both at my desk and on my phone, and spend more time focussing on my life and the lives of my family. To kick it off, instead of spending my 12 hour layover at LAX tomorrow sitting online and playing with the photos and videos from my trip, I’ll be packing my laptop away and sitting with what is actually the first book I’ve bought in a very long time.

The desire to travel more

I’ve not really always wanted to travel… Sure, I’ve always enjoyed going new places and as a family when my brother and I were younger, we went plenty of places! Surprisingly the majority of places we went for a long period of time were within the UK! Genuinely, there is so much, so close to home, that no one pays attention to. That said, when I was younger I had a horrible fear of flying, so didn’t have any mad aspirations to travel the world.

When I was 18, that all changed. The job I had at the time afforded me the opportunity to travel for India for some time, for a training course and at that point in time, my eyes were opened. Myself and a colleague spent 2 months in the northern part of India (Shimla, to be precise) and that really changed my opinion of travelling. Since then, I’ve taken every chance I can to go somewhere new and in the last few years I’ve been more places than some people I know have been in their lifetime.

As I’m sure you know by now, the most recent escapade I was afforded was for myself and my family to move to Melbourne, and I am so glad we did. Once we’re finally settled here (We only officially moved in together a few weeks ago, so we have plenty of stuff to get out of the way… Furniture shopping, nurseries, jobs etc), once all that is out of the way I really can’t want to see more of this side of the world. We’re only a few hours away from some of the most beautiful places on earth. Extremely high up the list for me is New Zealand, but as a family, we really want to go to Japan! The list is endless!

Does anyone have an recommendations for specific places to go? Things to see? Is there anything local we should check out?

The end of an era

Today certainly marks the end of an era for me… After almost 3 years of back and forth between the office and home, these are my last few hours in the ChannelAdvisor London office! I’ve really enjoyed working here and this is by no means the last time I shall ever visit, but for the next couple of weeks I’ll be working from home until I fly out to Australia!

It’s not exactly the move we were hoping for… Charleigh and Ellie aren’t able to come out to Aus for a little while longer, but we’re hoping that time flies by!

I’ll miss working in this office… It’s in a lovely place and I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the best people on both a personal and a professional level. I’ve also been able to learn a lot whilst I’ve been here and I really hope I’ve been able to give back as much in return.

Just now I was given a card signed by the entire office, usually these kind of things (whilst sad), don’t tend to bother me that much, but this time seems to be different.

The next step

So as I sit here on the monotonous journey back to Greenwich (which, for the purpose of this we’ll call home. You see I’ve been living with my girlfriend for a couple of months now), I’m contemplating what our next steps will be. Earlier this week, I asked Charleigh if she would move in with me!

The first question that comes up, is where do we go? I’ve been looking sporadically over the past few weeks at houses in Surrey, also towards Kent, and even towards Cambridge. There are plenty of aspects which come in to play when choosing somewhere; How do I get to work? How does Charleigh get Ellie (her daughter) to nursery? All sorts.

Following on from that, we then have to looks at what’s affordable… I’m ideally aiming for a 3 bed house, garden, drive and garage would be ideal. But then, there’s plenty of time to look at all this. We’ve set ourselves a target date of April 2012, so there’s no rush.

No doubt I definitely have to question some of the more important aspects here too; Which TV do I buy? How shall we furnish the place? Which sound system do I want?

Really. I can’t wait for the next step.

The perfect interview? Look no further

I’ve always been a massive fan of watching/listening to interviews, I love to learn more about people, especially the people I deem to be idols (In one form or another). Through the years I’ve been watching interviews online, one host has stood head and shoulder above the rest when it comes to preparation, knowledge of his guests, depth of his questions and his ability to retort to answers he would have not heard before hand.

That host is Jian Ghomeshi of QTV on CBC Radio (Canada). Every time I’ve watched or listened to him, I’ve been utterly amazed with how he’s able to hold an incredibly deep, yet viewer-grasping conversation with his guests. Even to the point that I’ll happily sit and listen to him quiz a guest I perhaps have no interest in.

Recently I watched him command the show whilst interviewing who is undoubtedly one of the most revered hosts and interviewers, Larry King. I watched in utter amazement how easily he seemed to extract answers from someone who is notorious for hard-set interviews.

My favourite to date however (And this could be slightly biased on the premise I love him anyway) was his 2011 interview with none other than Stephen Fry. Fry is well known as an eloquent, highly intelligent person as it is, but the grace with which Jian was able to question him, made Fry almost seem mortal.

If you get chance, I highly recommend giving a listen to any of his interviews (Though, perhaps not with the Arctic Monkeys, despite Jian’s best efforts, the band were clearly elsewhere during the interview). I’ll leave you with my favourite, what I have found to be the perfect interview with Stephen Fry.

I should probably add here, I do have one more hero when it comes to interview methods. That is, James Lipton of Inside the Actors Studio. That said, his interview technique is really rather specific to actors, he’s not as much of an all rounder and Jian Ghomeshi.

The wait is finally over!

If you were awake at the ungodly hour of 10:30am (Australian time) today, you may have noticed me frantically tweeting that the wait is finally over.. Charleigh and Ellie’s VISAs have been approved!

This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, for 7 weeks today. Nothing else I’ve experienced in life has been quite so difficult or stressful, though the rewards will be truly incredible. We’re now hunting for the best/cheapest flights we can find, though inevitably I would imagine this will rely mostly on Charleigh finalising things at home, work etc. and my booking of flights.

We’re almost there and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Time Management

Last week, Charleigh and I had a long conversation about the different methods of time management, ranging from personal time to work time. Essentially what we were working on was an ideal way in which we could impart good life skills and practices on to Ellie without it seeming like that was our aim. We eventually came to a conclusion which we’ve started putting in to practise this week and seems to be working fairly well so far!

The long time we spent talking about different ways to approach this, led to me think about how I manage my time, whether or not it’s the most effective method I could put in to practise and how I’d got to that conclusion in the first place!

To basically explain how I go about managing my work time, I thought I’d draw a little chart… Otherwise it could take me a lifetime to explain! haha.

Where the hell have I been?

Sat here, half way through finishing off a post I shall publish in the coming days, I realised I hadn’t posted on here for quite some time! As such, there is a hell of a lot to write about.. That said, I will compress this astounding story in to a small number of paragraphs, just the right size for my attention span to cope with.

Since last writing, we have acquired our apartment and I am proud to say, it is the perfect place. The apartment we were hoping for, is all ours. Just to lay the ground rules, I won’t be posting any pictures of the place.. Nor will I be describing it, in any detail at all, until Charleigh and Ellie are here with me. We’re currently waiting on their VISAs to be approved but we’re oh so very close now!

Moving away from setting ourselves up together, I’ve pretty much been working non-stop since I got here! I decided not to take off any time, so that I could save that for my families arrival. I have however, been fortunate enough to make my way up to Sydney for Online Retailer conference… I got myself up there the weekend prior to the conference, which gave me plenty of spare time. I’m sorry to say, I fell in to the category of “The Tourist”. Not, I might add, with the flare of Johnny Depp in Italy, more so with the aspiration to not stop moving. I’ve found that to be a fantastic way to keep going while our family is not yet together and more recently I’d been struggling quite severely. So it was nice to spend a weekend and then the following couple of days of the conference on the tip of my toes.

I walked, I believe, on nearly every street in Central Sydney, of course, made my way to the Apple Store, Westfield and just about any other shop I could find! I managed to get some shopping out the way and even treated myself to a few things! I also walked my way through town to the Sydney Opera House & Harbour Bridge which are spectacular. I was surprised by them… They’re such well known structures that I think it’s safe to say most people have seen them. On that basis, I assumed they’d be somewhat a let down… I’ll let you make up your own mind if you’re ever so fortunate.

I now find myself, back at my desk in Melbourne… Waiting.

Why couriers are hindering the use of comparison shopping engines

I’ve been working in online retail now (in one capacity or another) for almost 8 years, so I like to think that gives me the ability to talk fairly openly about what I’ve learned, but also allow me to make predictions for the future of retail. Some time ago now I moved away from using the term e-commerce, for the very simple reason that the ‘e’ stopped being relevant almost completely all together.

I moved to Australia back in June last year, where I took all the experience I had built up and began using it to help Australian retailers move their business in to what was essentially a new age of commerce. Whilst the boom of online retail has taken quite the upward turn over the past few years all over the world, Australia has always been years behind their international competitors, and quite surprisingly Australian retailers have even been lagging behind their international counterparts! There are multiple aspects as to why this might be…

Local retail history

There’s a large history of local stores here in Australia, whether that be the local electronics store or even the more industrialised retail chains, consumers seem to be perfectly happy buying locally. Perhaps they’re still used to buying things face to face, maybe it’s just a case of “if it aint broke”, but nonetheless, consumers don’t seem all that comfortable buying online. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly changing, albeit very slowly.

Poor distribution networks

One large reason here that consumers will sooner drive to a local store purchase an item than they will grab their laptop/tablet to order an item, is the way distribution is handled over here. In the UK we’ve had a large infrastructure of couriers for a long time, I’m pretty sure that stems from the backbone of a network built largely by Royal Mail, since then however, privatised companies have taken the distribution force by storm, offering cheaper and more effective services than ever before. Here however, it’s a different story all together. Since (I believe) 85% of Australia’s population live on the coast, the network that could be used to drive products from one end of the country to the other, was never built. If items do have to be transported from the East to the West, it’s quite common for that service to either be at a high cost, or over a longer period of time. As a result of this, shipping charges for retailers have always been high..

This now brings me back to my original point… The reason couriers are hindering the use of comparison shopping engines is because retailers aren’t offering free (or even subsidised) shipping. Free shipping can’t happen until a larger infrastructure of distribution has been created. Once all of that happens, shipping prices will all be the same and it’s at that point that retailers will begin competing on price points.

Obviously this doesn’t apply to all retailers, there are still those using shopping engines who do compete on price, but there’s only so far that can go. As soon as the larger retailers begin offering free shipping across their entire product range, as opposed to simply items over $x, or promotional items, I believe we’ll begin to see an uplift in the use of these engines, generated by an increase in online shopping.