Recovery, a dinner party, and a lot of sleeping

R2-D2 cake by Jane Bakes Great...

R2-D2 cake by Jane Bakes Great…

On Friday evening I managed to escape the house for the first time in weeks when Jane and I attended our friend Andrew’s 40th birthday (dinner) party near Stirling. It was great to be out of my bed and amongst friends for an evening; although I am paying for it now in terms of energy.

Recovery

It’s now nearly eight weeks since I came down with viral meningitis which affected my eyesight very badly and landed me in hospital for six days.

My recovery has been slow but generally steady. I’ve been back and forth to Victoria hospital for various ophthalmology tests and at the last appointment I had with the consultant she was satisfied that my eyesight issues were related to the meningitis and that I should continue to see steady progress.

I saw the GP last week too who gave me new painkillers for the ongoing headaches, which he thinks are partly related to the meningitis and partly to do with the eyesight issues.

What I’ve been doing

One of my work colleagues asked me on the phone last week what I’ve been up to while off sick. The first couple of weeks I spent mostly sleeping. My energy levels were in my boots, and my eyesight was so awful I couldn’t read, so I mostly lay in bed listening to Chain Reaction interviews on BBC iPlayer Radio on demand.

During the next few weeks, as my strength grew and my eyesight improved a little I pottered around the house tidying. The house is now the tidiest it’s been for probably years. I’m now turning my attention gently towards the shed and the garden before winter overtakes the lawn.

Of course, some days I’ve over-done-it a little, as I try to find what I’m capable of. Usually, I’ve been able to sleep it off the next day.

I’ve also spent a lot of time with my three boys, Reuben (5), Joshua (5) and Isaac (3) which has been fun. Exhausting at times but definitely great fun and nice just to hang out, be silly, and bond.

What I’ve not been doing

Because of my eyesight issues (unable to focus properly, flashing images, double vision, and blind spots) I’ve not been able to read very much. I love to read, and with so much time available it’s been quite frustrating not to lose myself in a book. If nothing else this experience is teaching me to be patient.

My phone has been quite a lifeline, and even at the height of my eyesight issues I was able to make out words on my smartphone if I held it very close to my face, and closed my right eye. Ironically, it was only as my eyesight was improving that I discovered the Android accessibility tools.

I’ve not been on my computer as much as I normally would, either. Again, this has been linked to my eyesight issues. About a month ago I was able to use my computer only if I either reduced the screen resolution (how many pixels you can see on the screen at once) from 1920 x 1080 to 1024 x 700, or if I used the Windows built-in screen accessibility tools and zoomed everything to 300%.

It’s been a bit easier to use my PC over the last couple of weeks but my eyes get really tired more quickly, and I suspect that also affects the headaches.

I did manage to move my email to Gmail, though, which felt like a massive success, given the circumstances.

And I’ve not been able to cycle, which has been disappointing. We’ve had some beautifully clear days. I love to cycle in the early autumn when the air is clear and dry but the temperature is lower and the roads are not yet strewn with fallen leaves.

I have been trying to get out for a walk every few days though, and gently build up some stamina. Although my GP told me last week that he expects it will take me 4–6 months before I’m fully fit.

And so to last weekend…

Thanks to Jane’s parents and younger sister we were able to get away for an evening and overnight stay to attend our friend Andrew’s 40th birthday gathering near Stirling (about a 90 minutes’ drive from Anstruther).

It was great to be out of the house and not going to a hospital appointment. It was great to be amongst friends, for some fun chat and silliness, and to eat Jane’s delicious R2‑D2 cake (photo above) that she’d made for him.

We stayed the night in the nearby Dunblane Hydro, where I spent an uncomfortable and largely sleepless night, and in the morning we invited another friend, Rich, over to join us for breakfast.

When I got home I felt exhausted but happy. It had been a good 24 hours.

And today… well, today I mostly slept.

When is a box not a box?

Ah! The things I could do if I had two MASSIVE monitors, fitted on a couple of giant robotic arms. Though to be fair I would probably just use it to play LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.

Box explores the synthesis of real and digital space through projection-mapping onto moving surfaces. The short film documents a live performance, captured entirely in camera.

Directed by: BOT & DOLLY
Executive Producer: Julia Gottlieb
Producers: Bill Galusha, Nick Read

London tube map redesign

Redesigned London tube map by Jug Cerović

Redesigned London tube map by Jug Cerović

The London tube map first designed in the 1930s by Harry Beck was a piece of design genius. But I really like this redesign by French- Serbian architect Jug Cerović.

Ukip will be pleased, it returns the Circle line to being a circle again!

Not content with the London underground map he has also tackled maps of

While we’re on the topic of tube maps. Here’s a tube map made entirely from HTML and CSS.

The nimble web

I spotted this video scroll past me in Twitter the other day. It lasts 31 seconds, is from an interview with Ethan Marcotte (who gave us responsive web design, as we know it today). I thought it was worth transcribing and sharing.

The web is definitely getting cheaper and slower, and more broadly accessed. Which is why it is incumbent upon us to make sure that our websites are not necessary the only place where that information lives. It could be in apps, it could be in services that are then pulled by other people. I think the more distributed we could think about our content and our services, I think the better off we’re going to be. I don’t know if the web is in decline but I definitely think it needs to be a lot more nimble.

Now there’s a challenge for us: the nimble web.

Minimal theme for Sublime Text

Minimal theme, compatible with both Sublime Text 2 and 3.

Minimal theme, compatible with both Sublime Text 2 and 3.

My favourite workspace theme for Sublime Text is currently Minimal Dark. With its dark sidebar I find it significantly less distracting than the default theme.

Here’s how to get it:

  1. Use via Package Control to install Theme – Minimal.
  2. Go to Preferences > Settings – User.
  3. Add the following line to your Preferences.sublime-settings file: “theme”: “Minimal Dark.sublime-theme”,

My current colour scheme is Tomorrow Night, which is also available via Package Control.

Creating a new habit begins with a tiny step

I had the good fortune of meeting BJ Fogg a few times about 10 years ago; he used to live a couple of doors down from my cousin in California. I had recently redesigned my website and when showed it to him he leaned in and got really interested in it. It’s a conversation that has stuck with me ever since and was one of the many pebbles in the jar that led me to decide to do this web thing for a living.

BJ works primarily in the area of creating systems to change human behaviour, very often with computers. He wrote a really interesting book called Persuasive technology: using computers to change what we think and do. And edited another called Mobile persuasion: 20 perspectives on the future of behaviour change.

A couple of years ago I took part in a short experiment that he ran worldwide, via email, about starting new habits. This TEDx talk more or less outlines what we did. What worked for me was:

  1. Start small, e.g. floss one tooth a day.
  2. Tag your new behaviour onto an existing habit.
  3. Be accountable to someone.

I decided to start flossing my teeth (having been nagged by the dentist). I used a floss pick, which allowed me to floss all my teeth in about 30 seconds (that was tiny enough for me). I tagged it onto the end of my daily morning shower. So when I stepped out of the shower I would floss. And within the first few weeks I would email BJ to give him an update.

It worked! Even on the days when I consciously decided that I was running so late I would skip my teeth floss that morning I always found myself standing flossing my teeth after my shower thinking “Eh?! But…!”

If you want to take something up, I can thoroughly recommend BJ’s approach.

How to address your mail

I love geeky stuff like this! The Royal Mail (formerly Consignia, formerly Royal Mail) has a page on their website all about about how to clearly address your mail.

Graphic showing an envelope and what information to write on it

Image credit: Royal Mail

An envelope requires only five lines if addressing somewhere in the UK:

  • Line 1—The addressee’s name.
  • Line 2—Building number and street name.
  • Line 3—Locality name (if required).
  • Line 4—POST TOWN (print in capitals).
  • Line 5—POSTCODE (print in capitals, in full, on a separate line).

Important points to note:

  1. You do not need a county name (e.g. Fife) if you use the post town and full postcode.
  2. No commas or full stops.
  3. Left-align your address, do not centre or stagger your lines.

So now you know. Although you probably use email and Twitter, don’t you!