Short term goals.

Instead of wasting my days between student and employee I thought it would be good to set some short term goals during my 'sabbatical time'.

Statistics: When I told someone that I needed to get some sort of qualification in statistics I was asked why I would want to be involved in that sort of self- flagellation. However, as I have discovered over the last year, my statistical skills are lacking in certain areas. I would like to do a one or two day course in intermediate statistics, or even beginner to intermediate statistics.

Publish: I think that my dissertation research is worth re-formating and perhaps cutting down into a research article for a journal. This may be another exercise in self-flagellation as well.

Photography: Good lord do I need to go into the countryside and take photographs. I don't think I would even recognise my camera if I tripped over it right now. I haven't spent any time in the past couple of months and would love to spend time doing some serious photography. I think a few days in the Highlands is required, perhaps around the area of Strathy (@samchair).

Database: For some reason I would like to build a database driven website. I cannot explain this. Probably a result of the Spatial Modelling course that I did last year. Am sure (hoping) this will wear off. 

Website design: This site has been the same for about a year now, I think a refresh may be in order. A few years ago I thought it would be nice to split the journal into different sections.

I guess it would be a good idea to add get a job in this list too, but I don't want to be too hasty about this, it has to be the right job.


Adaptive Design

I realise it's been over a week since I last posted anything, it has been a busy time. I finished my M.Sc. thesis (Identifying the potential for Glacial Lake Outburst Floods in Eastern Tibet) and have created a 'one pager' webpage that the course requires. It's not entirely finished yet but is getting closer to what I want...

I wanted to create the webpage using Adobe Muse, in general to see how useful it might be in future projects. Muse's central ethos is built around adaptive web design. This allows the site to change depending on the screen size (think "desktop v mobile phone"). It uses breakpoints, the point where the site starts to look broken with text/images overlapping. This means that at each breakpoint the text and images can be re-arranged or moved to fit the breakpoint size (or switched of in a particular breakpoint).

To be honest it's quite fiddly. I am more of a coder when it comes to websites and like having written the code and knowing what's going on and where. Muse, is great in the sense that you just place your assets where you want to see them but the program itself is still buggy. I was never sure that when I previewed the site if it was going to look the same as I had with the Muse display.

Still, for a quick webpage that adapts to different display sizes, even at this point, it fulfils my design brief.

I have a few books on adaptive web design and I don't think that Adobe's Muse will fill the gap for real coders any time soon, particularly as web browsers and code is a living language that continually evolves which makes it an interesting area, for me anyway. This experience has certainly given me something to think about.

I had to laugh when someone in the lab mentioned that this was an area that was "solved" and was "easy", it reminded me of a tumblr site that i used to read a lot; 'Clients from hell'.

Snapseed update

Snapseed recently updated to version 2.7 on the iPhone. It is generally my 'go to' application for quickly adding some pop to photographs on the iPhone. It has a nice clean minimalist interface thats intuitive and can easily share photographs to other applications on the phone (think Instagram). The update came with a really nice new feature though, it has added a section called "Insights".

The insights feature provides short tutorials on how to add different effects using the application. It also has photographer interviews, which are really good for finding out about how they got into the business. The insights feature is a nice addition if you need some inspiration.

The photograph I have added shows the "Detailed Black and White" insight, added onto a photograph I recently took of Edinburgh Castle. It's a bit more 'effect' than I would apply, depending on my mood of course.



Apple store visit

Anybody that knows me a little knows that I extols the virtues of Apple, and the joy of using a Mac. I'm a Mac? I could have played Justin Long's part in the adverts without the large pay check :-)

Needless to say I was more than a little disappointed when my MacBook Pro stopped responding to keystrokes and trackpad movement last week. Having tried the usual turning off and on again, and frustrated searching on the internet I had to give up and take it to the Apple Store. The Apple 'Genius' didn't tell me anything I hadn't already figured out: "The keyboard and trackpad isn't working". He run it through a few diagnostic tests and decided to send it off to some unknown magical place that would sort it.

I was a bit apprehensive at sending it off somewhere as my experience (ala MediaMarkt) was that if it did come back it would be in a months time.

Shockingly, I was summoned back to the Apple Store yesterday and was presented with my MacBook again, apparently a ribbon cable that connects the keyboard/trackpad and the motherboard had been faulty. It took them less than a week to diagnose, fix and get it back to me. I was duly impressed.

I have often been in the minority in "what computers should I buy?" discussions and there is no doubt that I could buy PC's that are a third of the price for the equivalent computing power but for me it is still the service and professionalism that Apple gives, especially in their stores that makes me a happy consumer.

Thankfully I was still under warranty (and have extended Apple Care) as you would not believe how much it would have cost to get it repaired ;-)




I discovered a really interesting web application this morning during my procrastination time: meetmidway. The application allows you to chose two geographical points and an activity (such as a movie theater or coffee meeting) and it plots the course, the midway point and the nearest place for that activity to the midway point.

It uses google maps to run the query, although it is running off the web right now the founder has expressed interest in building a mobile app (which would be much more useful). I wonder if the mobile app will be a GIS M.Sc. project... 

Fun, if you like that sort of (geography) thing.