Tidying up and Fireworks

Having found myself with a little free time I decided to do a little tidying up of this site. I am amazed at how much time I can actually spend trying things out and thinking about how to put things together to then find, at the end of the day, that I have changed very little but know at least ten new ways that the design won't work.

Having said this, I have managed to go even more minimalist. The sidebar has been reduced to search, latest posts and social icons. I was going to chop the latest posts but there is point where minimalism goes to far. A design is finished when no more can be taken out, and although they could be taken out I like having them. So they stay, for now... The social icons are in (shock horror) colour. That may also change, but having them in their native colours make them easily identifiable, however, whoever chose red for instagram needs their head examined. I also changed the WA logo from square to round, as I think it fits the aesthetic of the site better. 

I am also going to start using two columns for the writing of blog posts, I have seen this in a few sites and I quite like the look of it.

You can see that I have changed the March madness post into this structure.

For those reading this on a mobile device the only thing you'll really notice is the logo...so that's about 80% of you :-)

I have brought back some of my older galleries into the main menu under 'Archives' and have also added a new gallery of Fireworks from Edinburgh. I vaguely remember saying that I would post the shots from the iPhone X that I took at New Year and never got round to doing that. After finding the photographs today I was really surprised and happy with how well the vast majority were captured. Take a look at the gallery. These are all straight out of the iPhone X without any re-touching or post processing. The photographs that were in the sidebar that I occasionally updated can also be found in a new gallery in the 'Archives' menu.

I updated the 'About' page a little as well with some archive information of previous blog posts from 2014 till now and added a new about image of myself, which was taken by @alycoste, my official photographer ;-)

I'll finish this post with a couple of the fireworks images from New Year to try and entice you to the gallery of all the Fireworks images :-) Thanks for reading!

March madness

So March has appeared and I feel like I posted photographs of New Year's Eve yesterday. Apparently time flies when you are having fun, I must be having the best year ever.

Meanwhile in Scotland, where a record amount of snow has fallen this month, even I am thinking when will this persistent cold miserableness be over? (#beastfromtheeast) I actually ventured out with my camera and took some shots in Stirling. They were, disappointing, and I am ok with that. There are good lessons when things don't go well.

Slight tangent, when I say things like that I am reminded of when I was young(er) and had a No Fear t-shirt that had "Second place is first loser" emblazoned on the back of it. Sadly, and embarrassingly, I actually believed it at that point in my life.

Anyway, back to being disappointed; I am finding that I am pushing myself to get out and take photographs when I am not in the right frame of mind.  So I go out in a negative mental attitude and end up taking mediocre photographs that I am not happy with. I have to get back to taking photographs for fun and with friends that inspire me and to stop stressing that I haven't posted anything on Instagram or my blog for a week or two.

I read an inspiring blog post from Annie Au, a yoga teacher that shared three basic rules of being happy. She writes her post from a view of being trapped (by work, partner, family, house etc.) and how this trap is your own creation. Her rules, I think, are applicable to any situation in which you are unhappy. I paraphrase her rules below but I strongly recommend reading her blog post about it too.

1. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Before feeling anger or frustration with someone try thinking of three good things about the person. By thinking of their good qualities you replace your anger/frustration with that person and bring your self back to a place where you can communicate consciously.

2. Keep a gratitude journal.
Many of us focus on what we don't have or are striving to get and forget to be grateful for the things we have, Annie recommends writing 5 things down everyday that we feel grateful for. I have started writing 1 - 5 on a post-it note each morning and filling it in during the day.

3. Be Mindful.
It is very easy to have negative thoughts and feelings that can arise in our mind each day. Annie suggests that there is no need to lambaste ourselves over it (see above mediocre photographs). We can develop an awareness of our negative thoughts and train our mind to choose positive thoughts and over time it will become a habit.

As simple as these rules are, they are easily written but a little harder to practice. With time and patience I think they can help everyone and I am really grateful for finding this blog post. Incase you are wondering being grateful for finding this blog has did appeared on my post-it note.

I promised some of the photographs from yesterdays post so here are a couple from Stirling Bridge. Click for the larger version. 

As always, thanks for reading!

February drought

I only realised yesterday that I went out photographing once in February. I think it was a combination of the weather and illness that caused this. On the bright side I have some photographs of Stirling to post later and will be taking a lot of photographs in the last third of this month and next month due to having some time off and vacationing! 

For now, I found this video inspiring and extremely creative and it features one of my favourite objects and a favourite music artist (FKA Twigs).

AGI Scotland Annual Event

I have just returned from what was a very interesting day at the annual meeting of the Association for Geographic Information, held at the Lighthouse in Glasgow. The AGI primary focus is to maximise the use of Geographic Information (GI) for the benefit of the citizen, good governance, and commerce. There was a whole host of talks surrounding two key themes:

- Data Security & Ethics
- Application of Geographic Information  

I attended the application of GI presentations and the two that I enjoyed most were:

Some Like it HOT, given by David Frankland from thinkWhere. The presentation surrounded the HOT tasking manager. The Tasking Manager is a mapping tool designed and built for the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team's collaborative mapping process. The purpose of the tool is to divide up a mapping project into smaller tasks that can be completed rapidly with many people working on the same overall area. It shows which areas need to be mapped and which areas need the mapping validated. Anybody can join this mapping effort and right now there is a particular need for mapping to be completed in Papua New Guinea after an earthquake set off mudslides. Helping mapping these areas will be vital for rescue and aid agencies. Anybody can help from novice to advanced mappers! 

Philip Taylor from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology provided a informative and humorous presentation on New Ways to Communicate GI data. The part that really caught my attention (apart from the Bloomin' Algae application) was the Edinburgh Tree Map (which is being expanded to other parts of the UK). Have a look at this wonderful map, the data was provided by Edinburgh Council which made all their Tree Data available for free and online! The map tree was inspired from these maps of LondonMelbourne and particularly New York, the question was asked: "Can we do that for Edinburgh?". A fantastic achievement for Edinburgh! Now I know where I can get all the good Cherry Blossom photographs in the spring!

Alto’s Odyssey

Following up from the hugely successful Alto’s Adventure, Alto’s Odyssey was released today in the Apple App Store (also available on Android).

It's a remarkably simple game that is hugely addictive, an endless snowboard journey (on sand this time) across the desert achieving different tricks and tasks.  

The graphics, sound and music create an amazingly immersive atmosphere (best experienced with earphones). Like the original there is also a Zen mode in which you just ride without the nuisance of thinking about points and tasks! 

If my time playing this version is anything like the original I am about to lose a lot of sleep! Priced at £4.99/$4.99 on the App Store, more expensive than the original but totally worth it (and hey, it’s only two lattes worth). Would also recommend the original if you like this version!