Working the command line

Working the command line

Last week A Book Apart, released a couple of new brief books. For anyone who has read any of the A Book Apart books you could call them all “brief” books, but these are about half the size of the regular books. I have quite the collection of the books from them (not all), and they are great small reads that get across all the required information on the subject of the book in an easy to read manor, also allowing you to try out the techniques (if it’s a technical book) straight away.

When A Book Apart released two new books in their brief collection last week I instantly bought and downloaded the “Working the command line” by Remy Sharp. For someone who uses the command line on a daily basis I was intrigued to see if there was anything I did not know, or any tips, techniques I could pick up. Knowing it was a small book, I thought if there is at least one take away from it then that would be perfect. Also for just $8 it’s a way to support people from the industry who spend time creating these items.

I recommended this book to anyone who does things with the command line and doesn’t consider themselves an expert. I am comfortable using the command line, and sometimes have to Google my way around. Some of the commands I need to use Google for Remy has done an excellent job of explaining what they do and how to use them. With this being a short book you might think it’s covering just the basics but you will be happily surprised at some of the depths Remy has gone to in his examples. The piping examples are something that I learned a lot from, and now understand far more.

One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way

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How many times have you set yourself new year resolutions and never completed them? Ever wanted to make big changes in your life and never quite managed to make them?

Kaizen is a Japenese philosophy of continuous improvement. Rather than aiming high and failing it’s about taking small steps regularly that build up to the big goal.

kaizen asks us to be patient. It asks us to have faith that with small steps, we can better overcome the mind’s initial resistance to change

Part of the process is training your brain to accept the changes you are planning, and by doing small steps it allows for your brain to adjust to the changes, rather than it being highly resistant.

Never force the process of kaizen; it works only if you let change happen in a comfortable and easy manner.

Kaizen is not just for personal change, it can be applied to anything. This book gives examples that cover business and personal. Giving real life examples and stories and how kaizen has improved people’s lives and help businesses. If it’s something as simple as reading more, spending more time with your family or increasing sales. Applying kaizen thinking and methodologies to these goals can give you a better success rate of improvement

If you ever feel yourself dreading the activity or making excuses for not performing it, it’s time to cut back on the size of the step

One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way on Amazon.co.uk

Four Thousand Days

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I came across this book via Twitter, and actually picked it up on a special promo some time last year. I finally got around to reading it on my trip to USA last month.

It’s a very easy read and keeps you very interested and wanting to keep on read to find out what happened next. Duane got tied up in something bad to help pays some bills and then turned his life around from entering prison to selling his on-line business and becoming a very wealthy man, all within 4000 days. Prison is an interesting subject, and a majority of the book focuses on Duane’s time behind bars. Later on in the books he talks about running a business and going through the process of selling his business. If you are interested in the “start-up” culture and knowing more of what’s involved and goes on in big companies buying the small fish this book gives you a great insight to this including lots of details of the steps and money involved.

Rather than giving away too many details of the book, I recommend you pick the book up and give it a read.

Four Thousand Days: My Journey From Prison To Business Success on Amazon.co.uk

The world of cycling according to G

The world according to G

Not your normal kind of cycling book, autobiography or biography. This book takes a look at cycling as a whole, it is from the point of Geraint, and he does have a fair few stories related to him and the teams he’s been with. The idea of the book, to take the reader into the world of cycling and explaining all the different parts of what’s involved for rider, partner, mechanic, soingueur, and all the others involved. If your just getting into cycling this is a great book to help you understand cycling as a whole, and also the racing. If you are a season professional of the cycling world this book is just as good a read.

Have you ever sat and watched a stage of the Tour de France and wondered why the peloton has given a group of riders 9 minutes advantage, Geraint explains this and many other tactics involved in racing. Wonder what happens after all the racing has happened for the day, Geraint explains it all.

This book doesn’t just cover the professional side, it has some great stories from the early days, from youth racing in the UK up to last years Tour.

Just a small note he did spell my brothers name wrong when mentioning him, but I’ll not hold him to that.

The Martian

The Martian

Not being a huge fan on fiction books, I have made more of an effort to look past this and start to widen my search when looking for books to read. I first heard about this book when people were starting to talk about the upcoming movie (this was a few weeks/ maybe a month or two ago), and how they where looking forward to seeing it after reading the book. After a few visits to Amazon to look at the book and reviews, I mentioned it to my wife and she decided to purchase it for us both to read. If you have a kindle I recommend looking at the family library with the kindle. Over the past couple weeks we have both read the story and are looking forward to seeing the movie.

Space, it’s an interesting topic. Yes man has been to the moon, but Mars, this is something different. It’s much further and less known. The unknown of this and it’s space is what makes it so interesting.

Mark Watney ended up being left on mars after him and his crew had to evacuate their mission base due to a storm. All bar Mark made it off Mars, due to protocol his crew were forced to leave him behind. But little did they know he was still alive and doing very well at keeping alive too. As soon as Mark realises what’s happened and he’s been left on Mars, he starts to plan how he can live the longest, and some plans on how he might have a chance of rescue. Over the course of his time on Mars you are reading his log entries he makes on a near daily basis. While this may sound a little boring, they are full of science and physics. Sometimes a little over my head but very interesting and well written.

The books goes into some great depth at points in the story as Mark has to tackle some very difficult tasks while all on his own on Mars. The depth of these points help paint a very good picture of what Mark is facing and the items he has with him, and the type of stuff an astronaut has to do.

Without giving too much away on what happens, I urge you to grab a copy and read it. It’s not a particular difficult read, while some points go into depth with science and physics, it’s still easy to follow along. You might find yourself reading along thinking I know what’s going happen next, but with a few plot twists it keeps things interesting. Who said it was easy to live on Mars?

The Martian – Available on Amazon

Remote: Office Not Required

Having read their two previous books as soon as they came out, I finally got around to picking up a copy of Jason Fried’s and David Heinemeier Hansson’s latest book: “Remote: Office Not Required“, somewhat a bit late to the party on reading this one.

I decided to pick up a copy for a few reasons; I was looking for a new read and this came to mind, also for the past few months I have begun working much closer with a team based in the U.S.

I figured if anything I could pick up a few tips on working remote, while I technically don’t work remote as I am employed by a Scottish company and do work for a client that is based in the U.S. But I thought I should be able to pick up some good advice as I am close enough to remote working in the way we do our work.

The books is a collection of short essays each one to two pages long. While they don’t tell you how you should remote work they explain things they have found work for themselves as a company with remote employees world wide. Some of the items they discuss are items you may have already read about or think are simple ideas, but all the ideas presented in the book adds up to some great information.

One thing I took form the book, is when they speak of remote working, they are not speaking of people in other countries, they call everyone a remote worker, while some employees have desks in their office they are still remote workers as they don’t have to work from the office 9 till 5. With this methodology treating everyone as remote workers even if they are all in the same city, or some office based and some remote you have to work as if everyone is remote, and employ certain methods of communication and work flows to avoid leaving people not in the office out and to ensure everyone is treated the same.

Nexus Minimal Fountain Pen

nexus pen stood up

Back last August I came across a kickstarter project for a fountain pen. After landing on the page I knew I needed to back the project, the minimal nature of the pen appealed to me. Due to me finding the project late on, I missed out on the early backers deals, but even paying the full price of £26 I felt that was a reasonable price to pay for what should be a beautiful pen.

With this being my first kickstarter backed project I was a bit weary of the whole process, I’ve read about horror stories and seen lots on Twitter about bad experiences. In total I had committed £29 to the project, £26 for the £3 for an convertor, with an estimated shipping date of November, just over 2 months after the project was successful. I thought that was a bit ambitious for such an item, but I kept my hopes up. As you can probably predict I never received my pen in November, the pen finally made it into my hands in February, 6 months after the project was successfully funded. Even tho the project was a little late not too bad in my eyes, the communication from the company behind the project was amazing, they kept sending regular updates, which kept my faith in actually getting my pen.

nexus pen lay on side

Having received my pen just over two weeks ago, I’ve made it my daily pen since then. From first opening the envelope and small case it came it I have been over the moon with the pen. Pulling the pen from the case you get to feel the true weight of the pen, it’s not overly heavy but it has a good weight to it and you certainly know you are picking it up. While it has a bit of weight to it this does not affect long periods of use.

The design of the pen is amazing, CNC machined aluminium, that you can tell has been done to near perfection, with a perfect smooth finish. The grip is machined into the pen, and looks to be a bit clunky, but after a few moments of writing with the pen, it does not affect you too much, if you have a firm grip I can imagine a slight adjustment on your hold will be needed to get the grooves located within your fingers nicely.

Once you get into a flow of writing with this pen it become effortless, The nib is longer than some of my other pens, I needed to adjust my hold and writing posture a fraction. Also this is the first fine nib pen I have owned, and without much comparison to other fine nib pens this does not seem to be that fine. I am very happy with the thickness of the ink coming from this nib, this making me consider switching to using more fine nib pens.

nexus pen exploded

The pen is avialable buy direct from namisu. If you like a nice pen, and want something that is a great, strong everyday pen I would highly recommend this pen.

 

Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard

Sculpt keyboard and mouse

Just over a year ago I purchased the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse set, and by far it’s the best keyboard and mouse set I have used. When I say it’s the “best” I have used, obviously I can not vouch for ever keyboard and mouse on the planet, but for me after trying numerous different keyboards and mouse combinations I have finally found something I’ll struggle to move away from.

Over the course of my working life, from working at a computer/laptop on a daily basis I have tried many different sets. From working on desktop computers with multiple monitors then single a monitor, working on laptops solely, or laptops with a monitor or two connected, to using a laptop with monitor and keyboard/mouse combination, and many more other variations, over time I have tired tens of different set up.

Before I purchased the Microsoft Sculpt set, I was back to using just a laptop solely at this point, and this was causing some issues with my hands, and wrists. I would leave work and my hands and wrists would ache, and being me I would just carry on, and as I carried on tinkering in the evenings this was also increasing the aching pain. After some research it became apparent that the amount of keyboard use I was doing was the cause of the ache and pain, I knew that I needed to find a solution sooner rather than later to avoid any long term damage. I began looking around for a solution to help solve my problems. In the lead up to making the purchase of the Sculpt set, I tired a couple of different keyboards, mainly because I was not sure on splashing out so much on the Sculpt, in hindsight I would of saved myself time and money in just buying the sculpt first.

Another reason that I never made the purchase straight off for the Sculpt was that I had tried the wired keyboard version of the Sculpt (Microsoft Natural Ergo), and struggled to get to grips with it. Having grown up on computers I found the split keyboard just a little too strange. Having read a load of reviews on the sculpt it was ticking all the boxes, apart from the split issue, this is my health I was talking about so I decided to just go for it, and told myself that it can not be that bad to learn how to use it. One of the biggest selling points for me is I need quite a compact keyboard so the reach for the mouse is not so far, I prefer the mouse to site quite close to the right side of the keyboard to avoid the stretching of shoulder and back, and the sculpt was the only one I could find that was a narrow keyboard, and wireless.

Having used the keyboard and mouse for just over a year I am completely satisfied with my purchase, and when/if it packs in on me I will be purchasing the exact same set again in an instant! In the set you get get a keyboard, mouse and a separate numeric keypad. I’ve never once use the numeric keypad.

The first impressions I had when opening it, where a bit daunting as I was not confident that I could get used to using it. The mouse seemed to be huge! Compared to an Apple Mouse its double the height plus some, but after putting it on the the desk and putting my hand on it to use it properly, the size of it never really bothered me, the size of the mouse actually made it feel more usable and my hand sat in a more natural position. As the hold is slightly angled it does not force you arm to twist inwards as much this reduces the stress and forces on your arm.

For the keyboard I placed the extra support bar underneath, making the keyboard angle away from me. You can use it without this rest if you prefer, I’ve not used it without it for any great length of time, it feels more natural with the support bar. Using the extra support bar helps set your fingers over the keys in a more natural way, it makes you arms and fingers all straight from your shoulders down (you may need to adjust your seating position to help).

One thing I noticed from using this keyboard on a daily basis, is that when I travel with just my laptop, within a couple of days of laptop use I can start to feel the ache and pain returning in my hands and wrists. On one of my trips I decided to take the set with me which helped but it’s not exactly the smallest thing to be carrying around in your bag, and is prone to getting damaged. If I travelled much more I would invest in another one, but as it’s generally a week a few times a year it’s not too bad to cope with for the time being.

Now You See Me

Now You See Me by Pamela L. Todd

You may or may not be aware that my amazing wife has had her second book published it’s has been available to buy for a couple of months. Over the christmas break I decided I would go out of my comfort zone a pick up an eBook copy to read. This is not generally my pick of book, I am not one for fiction (I call it made up nonsense), but everywhere we were going people where commenting on my wife’s book and how good it was. So I decided that I had to pick up a copy and read it for myself. Boy was I shocked!

I say I was shocked, but not shocked in a sense that things she has written about make me embarrassed or blush. But shocked in a very good way. As I was reading through the book I kept stopping and having to pinch myself that I was reading a book that was written by my wife!

Being a person who would go out of their way to not have to read a fiction book, I was super surprised when I started reading the book and I could not put it down, I just kept telling myself, more more page and I’ll stop. That turned into half hour, then an hour. The story was very written and at points you thought you could see what was coming but quite the opposite happened, and then you think you are getting towards the end of the story, as you think not much more can happen then it changes and goes on for a few more chapters.

This being my first fiction book I have read since leaving school, and as I enjoyed it so much I am going to start considering a few more fiction books to add to my to read pile for the year.

You can buy a copy from Amazon or from the publisher TotallyBound.

Responsible Responsive Design

responsible-responsive-design

The day Responsible Responsive Design was released I asked my boss if he would purchase a copy. The release of the book fell perfectly, as at work we had just started to embark on a new project that would be multi-device.

“Serve the right content across platforms, and tune for performance”

The book contains a lot of great information, and while the information contained within the book might not be anything new to yourself if you are constantly keeping up to date with HTML5/CSS3 and the latest ideas/features. What this book does do is consolidate all the latest information into a very small space and shows you real life examples of how some of these techniques have been applied on huge websites that are online today. Also, it shows you how this techniques can be used within your projects today.

Rather than spilling the beans on what’s in the book, as it’s a short book, only four chapters long, I urge you all to just purchase a copy from A Book Apart. For $9 (eBook) it’s an absolute bargin, and I am sure you’ll learn something from it.

Cabin Fever: The sizzling secrets of a Virgin air hostess…

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Cabin Fever: The sizzling secrets of a Virgin air hostess… by Mandy Smith – I came across this book while I was scrolling through the biography section on the Amazon Kindle books section. I do my fair share of travelling, and quiet a few trips over the Atlantic, and was curious about this book when it came up in the list. I read the product description, and one of the quotes was:

Mandy Smith spent twelve years strutting down the aisles as one of Richard Branson’s sexy and sassy flight attendants. In Cabin Fever she tells the good, the bad and the downright naughty tales of life in the air.

Without reading much else about the book apart from the product description I decided to purchase it and give it a read. I don’t like to read reviews on a book before buying in case it puts me off. I like to start the book without having other peoples views in my mind, and based on the quote above I thought the book would be an interesting read to find out some of the things that go on in the air that are not known about.

But, this book is not quite as I expected, this book is more “Secret diary of a call girl” style rather than “tales of life in the air”, while there are some stories about things going on in the air, more of the book is about what goes on off the plane.

The book is a nice easy read and does have stories about strange thing in the air, but more aimed at the life of Mandy and what goes on after the plane has landed.

Review: Amazon Kindle – Sleeve

Kindle Sleeve with Kindle inside

After getting myself a Kindle Paperwhite, I was in the market for a nice case to protect it. With things like cases I have a odd taste and I am very picky in what I want.

Kindle Sleeve closedI began my search straight after getting the Kindle and it took a good while for me to finally hit the purchase button on a case I would want. An issue here is that buying online takes me longer as I can not tell 100% if it is what I want, I would much prefer going into a physical store to by something like this. (I’ll leave those details are for another day)

So after finally hitting the purchase button for this case I was still not 100% if it was going to be right or any good. Once I had took delivery of it, I was quite surprised by the quality of the product. I also got a little shock as I thought I was buying just a plain sleeve, but it turned out the strap that goes over it goes in at the back and loops round inside the sleeve. This is used to Kindle Sleeve showing inside strappull the kindle out, rather than having to stretch the sleeve to reach in to get your kindle out. I was a little sceptically at this, as I was after a plain bog standard sleeve. But after some use of the sleeve in a variety of different situations I am very impressed by this little feature, while I say it’s a little feature, its a huge part of the sleeve. I can see how this will help prolong the lift of the sleeve, as I’ll not need to stretch it open to reach for the kindle, a gentle pull up on the tab and it slides up with no resistance at all.

 

Hatching Twitter

Hatching Twitter Book CoverHatching Twitter: Nick Bilton – I would call myself a bit of a Twitter addict/nerd. I love the service, and the power of it, not everyone understands the system and to me it’s still finding it’s feet in a very tech heavy world, but it’s starting to break through and show what it’s capable of. Having a soft spot for the service made this a great book for me to read, and it did not disappoint.

This books is not about Twitter as a product, but more on how Twitter was born and the struggles along the way of the four co-founders (Noah Glass, Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Ev Williams). The books is a focus on these four co-founders and goes into details of each of their part of the creation/ upbringing of Twitter as a tech start up and into a public company. The author Nick Bilton has had a great deal of access to the current and former Twitter staff, investors, and board, in order to put together such detail.

While this books reveals a lot of details you will never of heard about the early stages of Twitter, and the people involved, it may be enough for some readers to make judgement on the four co-founders, but to me it’s still missing a bit of information to make those judgements. As people say, business is very cruel, and this is a great insight in how a business conceived betweens friends can turn into a nightmare and each person thinking they are being treated unfairly. This may put some people of trying to create a business between friends.

On top of the backgrounds and the struggles between the four co-founders the books also gives you a glimpse into the world of the tech start up world (The whole “Silicon Valley” bubble), it has some very interesting parts to it, while this may not be how all start-ups are in there early stages, it could put a lot of people off trying to do a start up. While it may put some people off, it may also just cement the details of what goes on in a tech start-up in their early stages. While this is not the main focus on the book, I found it very interesting and wondered about what it was like for other tech companies that are a huge success now in their early stages. (We obviously know about Facebook form the movie “The Social Network”, but I would quite like to read more about this sort of stuff).

The Climb: The Autobiography

The Climb: The Autobiography

The Climb: The Autobiography by Chris Froome the 2013 Winner of the Tour de France gives a great insight to his back story and how he was not an over night success at winning the Tour de France. Being an avid cycling fan and having been very involved with the sport at young age, I still follow along with great interest. Some people, even myself may have wondered where did this Chris Froome come from? and how did he win podium at the Vuelta, then go on to win the 100th edition of the most famous bike race int he world!

This book gives a great and deep insight into this. Not having the most conventional upbringing that you would expect of a British person. The highs and lows of Chris being brought up in Kenya, and eventually making the switch to become a British rider and give up his roots of Kenya to be able to get the highest possible level in cycling is told in great depth, and gives insight into the struggles of what non european athletes have to contend with.

Another great insight this books gives you is the hard work that Chris has put in to get where he is, some people may think that Chris all of sudden came from nowhere to finish second in the Vuelta, then to stand on podium twice at the Tour de France, with one of being the top stop.

I recommend reading this book if you are anyway interested in cycling, or if you are unsure of the cycling scene post “Armstrong” era.

Incase Origami Workstation

incase_origami_workstation

A few weeks back I was looking at keyboards that are available for my Nexus 7, my searching showed that a lot where Bluetooth keyboards which was my preferred type, then I saw someone mention that the Apple Wireless Keyboard worked fine on the Nexus, which reminded my I have one sat in the box upstairs not being used anymore. A quick trip up the stairs to fetch it, turned it on and turned the Bluetooth on the Nexus on, entered the code from the Nexus to attach the keyboard and I was away.

My first reaction was the amount of functionality of the keyboard worked on the Nexus like that you have grown to use on the desktop. The one thing I was really surprised with was the ability to CMD + TAB to switch applications. So after spend a couple of hours using the keyboard with the Nexus, I was sold that I could get used to using it for more than just browsing the internet and reading. I am actually writing this on it now, the other thing was I needed some case/device to work with the Nexus and the Apple Keyboard so I could make full use out it.

So I went searching again on the internet, but to look for a case that could work for the Nexus and the Keyboard together, I first started looking for cases for Nexus and Keyboard and this was getting me no where, so I search for Apple Wireless Keyboard case,and this brought up very few results, well actually only one that looked any good, and this was the Incase Origami Workspace case, it looked perfect from the photos and just what I was after. It did not take me a second to question the purchase of this item. I did think it was a little pricey at £20, but there was nothing else around that looked as good or neat.

So after a couple of days I took delivery of the case, and it was better than expected. The simplicity of it is perfect, it’s not too thick, and the material seems like it will last, the velcro that’s used to hold the case shut and in the folded position that holds your tablet is industrial, and not you standard velcro so I expect it to last.

After having the case for a couple of weeks and put the set up to use in multiple ways; I have used it to take notes at work, write blog posts on the couch/ in bed, and used to capture notes at a conference. The workstation that is created by using this case is perfect.