Get That Mouse Out Your House And Let The Cats In The Window!

“Can I draw?

No, not really but I do like to give it a go and The Indecisive Eejit’s Cartoon Craziness Challenge couldn’t have came at a more perfect time!

Why? Well, as you can see from the challenge she is challenging us to draw a cartoon cat which on it’s own doesn’t sound like perfect timing for anything. But, at work, I was challenged with producing and delivering a one hour training session on an introduction to using Windows and Microsoft Office…without using the mouse… Continue reading

Total Ellipsis Of The Heart…

Dot dot dot

Dot dot dot

I have been reflecting on my blog design over the past few days and it has become very obvious I have developed a particular theme. I don’t mean theme as in visual styling of the blog, more the way that I title my posts, write my posts and even the title of my blog itself – “Steve Says…”

It’s happened more by accident than by design but I use “…” in almost every single post’s title and often within the posts themselves.

Is this grammatically correct? What does it mean? I wanted to find out more…

I call it “dotdotdot” which upon further investigation isn’t really that inaccurate. Although, when I hear it inside my head it’s more like this which is probably inaccurate on so many levels.

The correct terminology is Ellipsis, plural Elipses (apologies in advance if I get some of the tense wrong – I’m not an English teacher) and refers to a series of dots that usually indicates an intentional omission of a word, sentence, or whole section from a text without altering its original meaning.

That isn’t really why I have been using them as I don’t remove text, I add text and the dots to me are leading, trying to draw the reader into the rest of my writing.

So, reading that ellipses can also indicate an unfinished thought, a slight pause, and nervous or awkward silence fits more with why I am using them. More so the unfinished thought  and slight pause rather than the nervous or awkward silence.

The ellipses can also inspire a feeling of melancholy or longing. I’m not 100% sure what melancholy means but I know it isn’t good so I don’t want that. Longing? Yes I would love to think that readers are longing to read the rest of my post.

Elipses can be used in the form of Aposiopesis which means you trail off into silence…

Aposiopesis are no use to me as who would want to read silence?

Ellipses were used in 20th-century fiction to denote expletives that would otherwise have been censored but when I use expletives I find it much more fun to use all the f*&$ing symbols I can find on my keyboard. They are also used in writing to build tension. Yes, that’s what I’m trying to do – build my post up for readers to click on and then no doubt be disappointed…(that’s melancholy with a hint of asposiopesis)

My name is Justin and I'm famous because...

My name is Justin and I’m famous because…

You can use them to say one thing but really imply something totally different without actually saying it. For example when Count Dracula says “I never drink …wine”  the implication is that he does drink something else or when Justin Bieber says “I never smoke…cigarettes”. I don’t use them for that, I’m not a liar, vampire or d*&$ of a pop star.

I then read how ellipses are used in maths, on computer interfaces, in computer language and I got bored. The only thing I was interested about in terms of computers was “is there a keyboard shortcut?” and praise the Lord, there is! On most writing applications such as Microsoft Word if you hold down [CTRL] [ALT] & [.] you magically get the three dots. The fact that it doesn’t work in WordPress and it’s probably quicker just typing the three dots is irrelevant – it’s a keyboard shortcut and I love them all!

That’s the punctuation side of ellipses but the internet being the minefield of information that it is I soon went off on another little journey…(I’m leading you, come with me – it’s fun I promise)

Who can? Herb Caen...

Who can? Herb Caen…

I came across the term Three Dot Journalism which was coined by Herb Caen – a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle – to describe his style of writing. I wondered what his style of writing was and this paragraph summed it up best for me:

Herb Caen would talk about politics, then … then a trip to the symphony … then a guy who he ran into at lunch that asked him a question he had to think about until he got back to the office and wrote about it then … then something else entirely. Everything was different, every day was different, but the three dots held it all together. It was the glue that made it a newsworthy column and not just the ramblings of boy from Sacramento who was enthralled with the city of San Francisco.

I thought of my own blog posts and how different one could be from the next and decided that I liked Herb Caen’s style of writing and I shall continues to use my Ellipses…now let’s finish on a song…

Steve Joins The Stars Offering Their Top 10 Tips…

I read this article on the BBC News website today.

“Last year, some of the art world’s biggest names handed out career advice in a series of article for the BBC News website.

Author PD James, designer Emma Bridgewater, Oscar-nominated screenwriter Tony Gilroy and Jason Bell, who photographed the christening of Prince George, all listed their top 10 tips for people hoping to emulate their successes.

They spoke of the benefits of hard work, valuing criticism, leaving your comfort zone and even going to the pub…”

I then thought that I would give this a go and give my top ten tips for why I think I am good at being an IT Productivity Coach…

1. It’s not just Doctors that need patience…

Have a little…

I’ve been told on many occasions by people that they can’t believe how patient I am.

They tell me that if they had to try to train someone like themselves then they would be grabbing the computer mouse from under their hands and using it as a weapon until they understood what was they were trying to be shown.

What do I have to say to that? Well firstly violence doesn’t get you anywhere and secondly “keep calm and carry on” – you get to the same end result but you will get there easier, quicker and with acceptable blood pressure levels if you just have a little…patience.

2. Share the knowledge not your problems…

Dear oh dear…

I love sharing information with people. Information that will help them and make their life easier that is. They don’t really want to know if I’m trying for a baby or if my pet hamster just died. They might pretend that they do but they don’t really. Don’t treat people like “agony aunts” and just tell them what they need to know and save the rest for down the pub.

3. Empathise…

Beyonce was right….Listen!

People may not want to hear my worries and problems but that doesn’t mean that they don’t to share theirs.

That’s fine with me – sometimes people need a “sounding off board” and for someone just to listen, occasionally tilt their head and nod.

If I can make someone feel better just by being quiet while they talk and talk….and talk. Surely that’s money for nothing?

4. Treat everyone the same…

We’re all in this together…

From tea boys to the big boys and office secretaries to state secretaries – treat everyone the same.

At the end of the day if they can’t use Microsoft Word then they can’t use Microsoft Word and it doesn’t matter if they are running the country or running to collect the lunch orders.

Everyone is equal in my eyes.

5. I don’t want to know everything…

Are you s***** me…?

I’ve got a very small brain and I can’t possibly know everything. I also wouldn’t particularly want to know everything. If I don’t know something then I’ll be honest and say “I don’t know…but I can find out and let you know”. There’s no point in pretending you know when you actually don’t. If you step in dog s*** people can smell it, if you talk bull s*** people can smell it no matter how much sugar you sprinkle on the top of it.

6. Ask and you will receive…

The ultimate meme…

I’ve never been the type of person who volunteers information about their life. Some people on the other hand are all “I’ve done this, I’ve done that blah blah blah”. Yeah? Who cares? If people want to get information about me, from me, then they have to ask. Once they do then it’s like a flood gate has opened and they might wish that they hadn’t asked but since they have invited out the information then they can’t complain when I’m talking about me.

7. Prepare…but don’t over prepare…

Don’t have an affinity with Acme Co…

If you are delivering a presentation or a training session – prepare, prepare, prepare. Know your subject, know what questions people might ask and know that things can and probably will go wrong. On the other hand,  there are some things that you simply can’t prepare for. You could spend hours trying to prejudge a situation then it turns out to be something different entirely and all that time you spent surmising rather than preparing was wasted time. Look at the Roadrunner cartoons, the Coyote would spend ages preparing something ridiculous without knowing for sure the Roadunner’s plans and he pretty much always ended up blowing himself into smithereens. Don’t be the Coyote, be the Roadrunner.

8. Sit on the fence…

Dis is de bestest defence…

Never offer an opinion. People might tell you this about that person and that person will tell you this about another person and so on and so on.

You might get a few splinters in your ass or a cold butt, however,  it is definitely much safer sitting up on top of that big fence than getting involved in office politics.

9. Laugh at yourself…

Doh…

Make yourself out to be more stupid than you actually are. In my case that’s not really too difficult (see, I just done it without even realising).

Make yourself the butt of the joke.

If someone does something ridiculous, a simple “oh, I do that all the time” puts them at ease and immediately diffuses the situation. Obviously this depends on the stupidity of their actions – even I have my limits.

10. Have fun…

The Holy Trinity...Since we spend most of our day at work then if you don’t have fun when you are there then you really need to look for a new job!

I’m Steve And I Am An iTunes-a-holic…Part Two

The title of this post says it all – I am addicted to iTunes.itunes_logo

I am not ashamed of it and I will happily talk for hours about the hours that I spend on iTunes – either listening to my library, organizing it or just looking at how pretty it is.

Grab a glass of wine, put on some music and prepare yourself…

This is the follow up to I’m Steve And I Am An iTunes-a-holic…Part One

Mobile

On the go...

On the go…

Since it’s impossible to go any journey these days without listening to music I make sure of two things before I leave the house:

(1) I have synced my iPhone

(2) I have my Bang & Olufsen earphones.

The Added smart playlist has the criteria “date added is in the last 2 weeks”. This ensures that I always have the most recent additions to my music library with me at all times.

The Artist Of The Month smart playlist is a new one that I have just set up. It has the criteria “artist is….” and each month I will choose a different artist.

The Listening smart playlist is so that I make sure I have an ever changing selection on my iPhone – new, old and favourites. It has the criteria “name does not contain mix or edit, genre is not Eurovision, playlist is not Christmas, last played is not in the last week, time is less than 5 min and greater than 1 min, and also the playlist must be from Replay or Top”.

The Official UK Top 40 playlist works when I remember to download the weekly UK Top 40 charts and is my way of trying to keep in touch with what the young people are listening to…

Rated

Beyond the stars...

Lord! Where do I find the time…

I needed my own Rating system and the star system alone was just not good enough for me. So, since I love Doctor Who almost as much as I love iTunes then what better rating system to use than my favourite to least favourite regenerations of The Doctor.

  • Five Stars = David Tennant
  • Four Stars = Peter Davison
  • Three Stars = Christopher Eccleston
  • Two Stars = Sylvester McCoy
  • One Star = Paul McGann

I’m pretty sure by that revelation it’s safe to say I am in ultimate geek teritory!

To…

I'm in the mood for...

I’m in the mood for…

These are my “mood” playlists.

The chill out to playlist is a manual playlist that I will add songs to that are quite mellow and that I would want to listen to when I feel like chilling.

The dance about to playlist is a manual playlist that I will add songs to that make me want to get up and dance!

The keep Greg quiet is a manual playlist that I will add songs to when they play and Greg says that he likes, that way when I play them he can’t complain!

The pump volume to playlist is a manual playlist that I will add songs to when I hear them that have to be played with the volume pumped right up!

To be…

To be....or to be done...

To be….or to be done…

This is more a “work in progress” set of playlists so that I know what still needs done in order for my collection to be “perfect”…

Assigned To is a smart playlist with the criteria “playlist is not To…” which means I have not yet assigned it to a mood playlist.

Memorised is a smart playlist with the criteria “playlist is not Memories of…” which means I have not yet assigned it to a memory playlist.

Played is a smart playlist with the criteria “plays is equal to zero” which means I have not yet listened to the entire song.

Rated is a smart playlist with the criteria “playlist is not Rated” which means I have not rated it accordingly.

Replayed is a smart playlist with the criteria “rating is greater than Three Stars, last played is not in the last 3 months, plays is greater than 5, times is less than 5 mins, name does not contain mix or edit and genre is not Eurovision” which means that I can listen to songs which I have forgotten to listen to recently.

Reviewed is a smart playlist with the criteria “plays is less than 3, last played is in the last 3 weeks and rating is Three Stars” which works well for new songs I listen to on my iPhone. If I like them, I rate them Three Stars when I am on the go and in case I forget which ones they were then they will show up in this playlist once I sync my iPhone. Genius!

Worked On is a smart playlist which basically searches all my “required fields” for any blanks so I know which ones don’t have the complete data.

Tracks…

On the right track...

On the right track…

The Top 40 playlist folder contains my last.fm Top 40 tracks, iTunes Top 40 tracks and the weekly UK Top 40.

The Weekly playlist folder contains my weekly Top 10 most played songs going back to 2008. I post regular updates in my I’m Listening To… category.

The Yearly playlist folder contains my yearly Top 40 most played songs going back to 2006. I posted a review of them all recently in this archive.

Ultimate…

The ultimate music machine...

The ultimate music machine…

In order to find my “ultimate” song in any category at any point in time I have created this set of smart playlists. They all have the criteria “plays is greater than 10, playlist is i.e. chill out to, rating is Five Star, last played is in the last 1 month, last played is not in the last 1 week”. The ultimate “ultimate”  has the same criteria but not restricted to one category.

With the word…

It’s interesting to hear how many songs contain particular words and sometimes putting one of these playlists on really suits the mood/situation.

It's only words...

It’s only words…

Wunder Years

The wonder of me...

The wonder of me…

This was inspired by a feature on my local radio station. They will play a different song from each year of a particular decade. I have a “secret” lists playlist folder that captures every track by year. I then set up smart playlists for the Eighties, Nineties and Noughties which have the criteria to refer back to those lists for each year and select a random song, play it only once and then select a new one whilst moving on to the next year. This is a clever one so I can put on the playlist and hear a different song from each year in chronological order.

I TOLD YOU I WAS ADDICTED!!

You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ’til It’s Gone – Appreciate The Moment…

I stumbled across this post on Freshly Pressed and thought it was really interesting. It made me ponder…..

It made me think of my mottos in life….

“Appreciate The Moment”

I don’t think many people actually do, truly appreciate the moment they are currently in. If you stop and think for a second, how often do you look back at a time, say 10 years ago and reminisce about how good it was back then? But, when you were experiencing that time “live” you thought it was the worst time ever and constantly wished things were different.

Crown Terrace, Aberdeen

Crown Terrace, Aberdeen

Here’s an example…

I was walking to work the other day via the same route I used to walk to a different job 10 years ago. At that time I worked in a small convenience store, had to get up at 5am every day and work long hours dealing with drunks, shoplifters and generally rude customers.

I used to walk to work wishing and praying things were different.

So, forward 10 years, as I walked that very same route the other day, I was overcome by memories of that period of my life and how good it really was.

I should have enjoyed it more.

At.

The.

Time!

Now, I try to appreciate every single moment as I experience it because, however good memories are – they are so much better experienced first hand.

Every time I think of this I always hear songs in my head by Mike & The Mechanics. I’m not really sure why…


Appreciate your moments!

I love this little mouse with a scroll wheel

I love this little mouse with a scroll wheel

To add to this, I realised today that until something’s gone, we really “don’t know what we’ve got”. A very basic example that struck me today was the simple scroll wheel on a computer mouse. They’ve not always been there and today, I had to use a mouse that didn’t have one – I now know how Superman felt when he lost his powers!

“Don’t take anything for granted, no matter how trivial it may seem”

Joni Mitchell says it very well in “Big Yellow Taxi”..

Now Comes The Night…

Last night when I was listening to music, the song “Now Comes The Night” by Rob Thomas from the band Matchbox 20 played. It reminded me that I had previously made a video using that song.

It was one of the first “big boy” video edits I ever done. I used Pinnacle video editor I think, as opposed to the basic packages I had been using previously. I wanted to try something a little bit different rather than just having a montage of photos. I knew I wanted to use that song in some way and I had all sorts of stories in my head that just wouldn’t have been possible due to lack of video camera, actors and talent….

Somehow I came up with the idea of showing a Tom & Jerry cartoon on screens at various different locations across the world – yes, I know, the mind boggles…

I must admit it took me ages to get it just the way I wanted it and by the end I told myself I never wanted to hear that song again…well at least for a few months.

Here it is “Now Comes The Night” by Rob Thomas feat. Tom & Jerry.

Album Reminder…

Album reminder…

I really love music and I always get excited when I discover new artists. As I mentioned in another post BIRP these playlists really do provide a good way of helping me find new music.

These days though, it’s so difficult to keep up to date with when albums are being released and especially hard when it’s artists that don’t generally get much mainstream exposure. Short of trawling through each individual artist’s website etc I couldn’t ever think of an easier solution until I discovered…

Album Reminder

The Album Reminder service is amazing!

What you do is upload your iTunes library file or use your last.fm account. Album Reminder then analyses all the artists you have songs from and then uses it’s analysing tool to send you an email whenever one of your artists release a new album.

Simply genius!

You can also manually add artists to the site but my library is too big for that. Just do whatever works for you.

It’s funny how things change but also stay the same at the same time. Years ago, every Monday I would rush to the music shops to see what new albums had been released that day, now, I look forward to getting the weekly email :).

Do you already use it? Will you use it?