Newspaper & Coffee

Ditch online news sites & step outside the outrage bubble

For the last few months I’ve gone through a bit of a regression. As a born & bred internet nerd, I’ve always thought that online content was king. I’d pour over articles, blogs, forums & personal websites absorbing information. For the most part I still do enjoy all of those outlets, but one website genre has been sapping too much of my attention, News sites!

During the run up to the 2016 EU referendum in the U.K and the presidential elections in the U.S my news consumption increased at an exponential rate. My drug of choice was The Guardian online. After all, I’m a liberal academic raised on the internet. I’m well versed in most sexualities, fetishes, niches & sub cultures. Growing up online not a lot slips under the radar. The guardian was a perfect fit for my political views, my environmental views and my social outlook. Growing up I was exposed to newspapers from across the political spectrum. From right-wing news like The Daily Mail & Telegraph, right through to The Guardian & The Observer. The general trend being, the younger adults in the family bought into the liberal press & the older members into the conservative press. Read More....

Put the laptop away & read a newspaper

I’ve cancelled my Netflix account – and that’s just the beginning of the cull

This has been a long time coming but I’ve finally cancelled my Netflix account. I’ve had a Netflix account off and on for years, almost since they started rolling out online streaming and on the whole, it has been mediocre at best. I did enjoy having access to older TV shows such as Bottom and Red Dwarf, which I grew up watching & always enjoy putting on for nostalgia, but I finally decided to end my subscription.

Netflix on the whole is a good service. It is relatively cheap & does have some good content. The problem stems from the one reason for Netflix existence, and that again is content. Read More....

Must Watch Ted Talks of 2018

Three Must Watch TED talks for 2018

I’m a huge fan of TED talks. I tend to watch them when I’m doing something mundane in the home office such as organising a drawer or waiting for a task to complete on my servers. As an academic & everlasting university student (I’m still planning on going back to finish my PhD) I find lecturers and talks on just about any topic both fascinating and interesting.

I use the curated playlists on TED a lot, but sometimes I just select an interesting video & see where it takes me. Below are the three videos I believe you must watch in 2018. Read More....

Apple Macbook repaired & working

Apple Macbook Pro water damage – fixed

If any of you guys follow me on social media you will be aware that a few weeks back we had a disaster in our household. I brought a cup of tea to my wife while she was working in bed, and as I handed it to her I dripped a few drops on her Apple Macbook pro. We quickly dried it off and thought no more of it. It worked all morning & she closed the Macbook when we went out for lunch.

On our return the Macbook refused to startup. On pressing the power button it would make the startup chime, the grey apple screen would appear with the apple logo and then with a click of the hard drive the machine would shut down. This happened every time we tried to boot the laptop. The liquid had done damage. I inspected the Macbook where the drops had landed, mainly around the top right of the keyboard & the power button. I couldn’t see any signs of moisture at all. I suspected a fried logic board but refused to give up on the machine & testing. Read More....

iOS 5.1.1 lock screen

iPad 2 downgraded from iOS 9 to iOS 5.1.1 – So much Faster

I bought my iPad 2 back when it was first released. I bought it on release date back in March 2011. I remember driving a 150 mile round trip from my new home in Cornwall to Exeter to visit the apple store and pick one up. On arrival, the only iPad 2 left in stock was the most expensive 64GB version with GSM cellular built-in. I really wanted a 3G version so I could use it anywhere so I jumped at the chance and paid the hefty £659 price tag. I loved the iPad 2 when it came out. I loved reading books on it, working & writing on the go. Browsing the net on a big screen anywhere & watching media on it. I really did fall in love with this device. Over the years as it has become older & with each iOS update the iPad 2 has gone from being a speedy device for all of my mobile computing to a sluggish and painful device to use. In my opinion, Apple should have stopped supporting the iPad 2 at iOS 7. They need to make better efforts for apps to support older version of iOS. But they won’t. This is perfectly useable tech & it seems so wasteful that software can make useful hardware obsolete. Read More....

My Social Media Account

The dangers of Social Media – An end to productivity

You are going to think I’m being a complete dick with this post, but stick with it. I’m not saying that I’m not guilty of any of the points made (I am), just highlighting them in a way that makes you think.

I have been planning this post for a long time & researching these issues for many years. Back in 2008/2009 I based my Masters thesis around social media & it’s uses in a virtual learning environment. After writing 30,000 words & creating my own Social Media platform I realised the many benefits of Social Media when used within a specific context (in this case to enhance University learning). Although I did uncover many drawbacks which at the time (when Twitter was almost new & Facebook very basic) didn’t seem too grand. Read More....

Servicing my Fiat Panda

Being Frugal – Servicing your car & fixing your car

Long time readers of my blog will know that I’ve been on a mission to save money & generally live a more frugal life. For a while life became very extravagant & very expensive. I’ve only just managed to correct a lot of the financial mistakes made during a foolish & stressful part of my life & I’m always looking at ways to save money.

A little over 3 years ago my beloved Land Rover developed a gearbox fault. It cost a lot of money to have repaired & the repair failed, so I ended up selling it for next to nothing. I then bought a sporty Mini Cooper S which cost me a fortune & after 6 months I sold it to buy a Mercedes estate. This cost even more money to run & maintain and after less than 18 months of owning 3 separate cars I was at a point that I could no longer afford to run a car (silly financial decisions & lots of expensive repairs). It was at this point we sold the Mercedes & used the money to start paying off debt. This would be the beginning of paying off almost £20k in unsecured debts. Read More....

Downsizing my cars

Downsizing & life changing – Update

It’s been a while since I last did a downsizing post. I think it could be as long as a year since I did any kind of update. So here is a little recap. A little over a year ago I was living with my wife in a 4 bedroom town house with a  garage and all the trimmings. I was driving around in a lovely Mercedes-Benz C230 estate. We had more space than we could ever use & a car which felt far too flashy. The events that lead to this point essentially boil down to a major family trauma & long recovery (which is still ongoing). It was a very stressful time & made us both act out of character. Read More....

Trusty iPhone 4

Tech obsolescence in 2014

Trusty iPhone 4
Trusty iPhone 4

I’m a big gadget lover but I need to balance my love of tech with my environmental conscience. I’ve got a massive issue with replacing items which are still perfectly usable items. It seems so wasteful to replace a phone or a tablet simply because a newer version has been released. The new models may have a slightly better spec but often they carry a huge price tag. To me, the gain is minimal but the outlay is maximum.

This standpoint is reflected in my current lineup of tech. My one & only phone is an iPhone 4. Not a 4S, a humble 4. It’s jailbroken & locked down to ios 7 as apple no longer allow it to be upgraded. With the jailbreak tweaks its perfectly fine speed wise, I actually prefer the smaller form factor and the battery life hasn’t really degraded from the day I bought it. Read More....

We managed to fit our entire life into two van loads

Downsizing – biggest step complete

Well we have now moved out of our massive house. We are looking for a much smaller place so in the mean time we are staying with family & the few belongings we decided to keep are now packed neatly away in storage. We did so many trips to the charity shop in a van, not to mention all the things we sold on eBay including furniture and clothing.

The aim was to get all of our belongings into one short wheelbase transit. We managed to get it down to two loads in said transit but we still have some things to sell so the goal in achievable. Read More....

Downsizing – picking up pace.

Well things are starting to move quite quickly. We have been without a car now for almost a month and we have got on just fine. We are renting a car this weekend to do some days out & visit Manchester to get some business done. We ended up getting a really good deal and it was £60 for 4 days for a super economical small car.

House to let

The biggest thing is the house listing. After a month of waiting we finally got the house on the market & a sign up outside. Less than 24 hours later we have viewings lined up & hopefully things will move quickly. I’m excited to move on & start the next chapter of life. I know that won’t be in St Helens anymore & I’ve made my peace with that. The fact is apart from my good friends & a few family members I have very little tying me to this place now & it’s time to get back out there and start living again. Paying for this quasi-mansion has almost killed us. We have all this space & it’s lucky because once it’s all paid for each month there is very little money left over so we are trapped in it. Read More....

Downsizing day 7 – 1 week in

Well I’m now a week in to the downsizing challenge and its been a very hard week indeed. Sorting through your stuff is so tiring. So far we have done a trip to the rubbish tip with a car full of stuff, including an old mattress from our gust bedroom and associated old bedding (it was all beyond reusing) and lots of boxes & packaging we have been keeping for products. We also took hundreds of magazines for recycling along with some old kitchen things.

It’s funny how we attach value to things even though they are no longer of use to us. A kind of sentimentality to a magazine you once enjoyed & some misplaced fantasy that you will read it again. Some of the magazines I’ve had since I was 11 years old, mostly old car magazines and the sentimental connection to them is unreal. The truth is I’ve never read them in 19 years, I’ve just carted them about. They weigh about 100Kg and take up 4 under bed boxes. They have to go. Read More....

Downsizing challenge day 2 – little background

I Thought I should give you a little background into my life & to try and convince you this isn’t a privileged middle class reaction to a lifestyle.

When I was younger I had no money at all. My dad & I lived with my grandmother and we all pitched in as a family. We had one part time wage in the household. We where lucky in the fact that my grandmothers mortgage was paid off in full when my grandad died. So we all lived in a house on one part time wage. To say we had little money is an understatement but we managed and nobody would have been the wiser to our money problems. Read More....

Downsizing (living simply) challenge

This has been building up for a while now, but the last 2 weeks have been an eye opener & turning point in my life. For years I’ve been striving to prove myself as an adult, to prove success & to an extent wealth. I know that sounds hideous but take a look at your life and tell me you aren’t doing the same. Living towards some social norm of house, car, family, career, nicer house, nicer car, better job. It’s a treadmill.

I looked at my life over the past 15 years and the happiest I’ve been over that time was when I was at University living in a small one bedroom flat and spending on average £40 a week total (with the exception of rent). I had no money but had no money worries. We lived in a small manageable apartment which was cheap to rent, cheap to heat, took about 20 mins to clean and not an inch of the place was unused dead money. Read More....