Back in the UK

Following the short postscript on my previous blog post, I’m back in the UK after a short dash to Italy and back.

The world really is getting smaller, but the cultural differences and difficulties in communication are as still as evident as always, especially when off the beaten path.

My sister in law was taken seriously ill whilst on holiday and I went over to offer some support to my brother who had travelled over the week before. Alone in a non-english speaking country with just his iPhone as a lifeline, he needed some assistance, even if was just a familiar face to help out.

Whilst on his own, and trying to communicate with Doctors, Nurses and basically everybody else, his iPhone has been invaluable. Real time Google Translate, Word Lens, Maps, iMessage, eMail and many other apps have all played a part in helping him through a difficult time in impossible situations.

The positive impact of the iPhone in this horrendous situation can not be understated.

They are both now en-route back to the UK, even though they have to endure a 22 hour ambulance journey across Europe. It’s going to be an even longer journey for them both to hopefully full recovery, but at least they’ll have family on hand to help out in any way possible.

My thanks to the Doctors and Nurses in Nocera Inferiore, Salerno for looking after Ian and Jan, as well as the kindness shown by many of the local people during this difficult time.

My New Walking Desk

Ok, So I’ve got a new desk. A walking treadmill desk!

This is basically a standing desk with a treadmill. It’s not my permanent workplace, I still have my normal desk, but I’m hoping to build up to spending a few hours on the walking desk every day.

So why a walking desk?

I’ve read a lot about the effects of sitting for prolonged periods of time. It doesn’t make for comfortable reading, especially for some one like me, who spends seven or eight hours every day in front of my monitor.

I’ve also read about the benefits of a standing desk. I’ve tried it and I didn’t really like it. There’s something very fatiguing about standing in the same spot for prolonged periods of time.

The alternative is a walking desk.

First thing to state up front is the walking desk is not an exercise machine. The treadmill is purpose built for walking at slow speeds. There’s no incline setting and the usual speed is between 1 and 1.5 miles per hour. The idea is to just keep moving and not break into a sweat. At this speed, it’s fairly easy to type, use a trackpad and I even can use my Wacom Tablet. It’s early days (it only arrived today), but I was quite happy answering emails, doing some post production stuff and various admin stuff. To break myself in gently, after the effort of setting the thing up (it’s a bit of a beast), I decided to limit myself to just 45 minutes. I’ll gradually build up over the coming months.

I also don’t intend to do podcasts or record my ScreenCastsOnline videos whilst walking. I have a normal desk kitted out for my recording activities.

I’ll do a more detailed post over the next few weeks, but to answer a few specific questions and comments on Twitter.

Which model did I get?
I went for a commercially available model rather than build my own. I just don’t have the time and I wanted to get one that was specifically designed for the job. I went with the LifeSpan TR1200-DT5 Treadmill Desk. Horrendously expensive and almost twice the price in the UK than in the US. At least I can claim it as a business expense and reclaim the VAT. It’s not even the top of the range. However, build quality is excellent and the desk area is huge.

What mount did I get for the Monitor?
I can’t remember! I got a standard VESA mount for the 27″ Thunderbolt Display but I can’t remember where I got the stand from.

What is the Wallpaper?
I picked up the wooden wallpaper from here

Why don’t you just go out and enjoy some fresh air and walk?
After a long day seated, I tend to go for a long walk outside each evening, to try and compensate for inactivity of the day. I’m not a runner but I do enjoy my long walk. So wouldn’t it be good to walk whilst doing some work during the day. Hence the walking desk. I’ll still go for my evening walks, but I’ll supplement that with walking during the day to remain productive and gain all the health benefits. It’s not to replace my other activities, but if I have to work seven or eight hours a day indoors. why not spend some of that time walking?

Just as a bit of fun, I did a time lapse of setting up the new beast – enjoy!

Countdown continued…..

Harking back to my previous blog post, fell off the wagon only a couple of times this week in my attempt to get a bit trimmer and fitter for MacMania09. Just too much Pizza on Friday night with friends and a humongous Sunday lunch :-(

Even so, I’ve managed to trim 3lbs off this week without going too berserk!

That brings me down to 14st 7lbs (203lb or 92Kgs) after 7 days.

More than happy with that!


Just four short weeks before leaving for MacMania 09 and I’m way behind in where I wanted to be.

So the next four weeks are going to take some serious planning and hard grafting. I’ll need to cut down the distractions (sorry Twitter) and get some focus to make sure everything is accomplished before I can leave.

Following on from a recent blog post, the overwhelming consensus was that the world will not end if I don’t publish a show for two weeks.


Oh well, that’s a good thing then! It relieves the pressure somewhat in that I don’t have to double production leading up the trip, besides which, even if I did the shows for the weeks I’m away, there is no guarantee that I could publish them remotely. I’ve got a house sitter organised who will take on some of the membership related emails and queries, so I should be able not to worry too much about that side of things.

One thing I will take seriously over the next four weeks is to try and get in shape for the trip.

I could do with losing at least two stone (28lbs) to bring my weight down to a reasonable level. I appreciate that it’s not going to happen in four weeks but I’ll try my best to at least make a dent in that. Nothing dramatic, just a bit more exercise, no chocolate, reduced portion sizes and no alcohol midweek (a definite cause of midnight snacking!). I’ll also be trying out a regular course of JuicePlus to supplement my eating habits. It just so happens that one of my regular ScreenCastsOnline viewers is associated with JuicePlus and he has kindly sent over some samples for me to try out – Thanks Curt!

I’ll not bore you everyday with an update, but I’ll try and report back at least every week to let you know how I get on. Going public may help me stick to a sensible regime. Just for the record, as of today I’m, 14st 10lbs (206lbs or 93Kgs), if I can loose at least 14lbs in the next 4 weeks, that would be a start!

Light & sporadic…

Well back into the swing of things now and I think I’m just about over the trip!

In case you missed the “live” appearance on MBW, Allison captured some video of the event :

Now I’m into organising and planning for the trip in July to China, South Korea and Japan as part of the Mac Mania 09 event. I’m going out ahead of the cruise to take part in the pre-cruise tour which is an week long tour of inland China. This means I’ll be away for the best part of two weeks, which equates to three ScreenCastsOnline shows. So in effect, that leaves me with six weeks to prepare and record 9 weekly shows and 6 x 90 minute presentations.

I may even decide to skip a weekly show (or even two) whilst I’m away, as even if I prepare the shows in advance, there is no guarantee I’ll be able to publish them on time from such exotic locations?

Do you think people will mind?

It may give people a chance to catch up?

At least I had the good sense to not take on any commissioned work for the same period.

So things are going to get a little busy round here, and you’ll have to excuse me if my blogging becomes light and sporadic. Somethings gotta give!