Bizarre suggestions from Amazon UK

20110413-amazon

Amazon UK has just sent me an email wondering if I might be interested in the following bizarre collection of books:

Wonderfully bizarre!

I’m now five-shelves of books lighter

Piles of books and rubbish on my study floor

Piles of books and rubbish on my study floor mid-clear-out

Okay, so whose bright idea was it to try to simplify life a little and get rid of books that I haven’t even opened in years?!

In the end, this afternoon I cleared out five shelves-worth of books which will be donated to charity shops in St Andrews tomorrow afternoon.

I had to be ruthless. I find it really hard to throw away books because there is usually something of me in them (for many books I remember where I was when I carefully selected that particular book, what I was hoping to get out of them) and for many there is something of them in me, a part of who I am today is because of something that I read in those volumes.

And then there are the books that I bought or acquired (freebie hand-me downs from retired clergy) that interested me at the time or reminded me of something that found really interesting at university and was keen to follow up … but never did!

Strangely, between the initial weeding out of my bookcase and my packing them into boxes to take to charity a few of them crept back onto my shelves.  Saved for another purge in a couple of years time.

It feels good, though. No regrets.

Future rounds of my patented game “Win it or bin it” will feature: PCs and accessories, games (board and computer), videos, DVDs, guitar sheet music, and folders of who-knows-what that have sat on my shelves for the last 10 years.

The last three months

Sun behind clouds

How can it be the end of March already?!

It’s not just me, is it? Easter felt infeasibly early this year. I happened before the clocks went forward (from GMT to BST). In fact, it happened before it had even stopped snowing!

And now that Easter is passed, Jesus has risen again (Alleluia!) and in a strange way I feel as though I’m emerging back into the sunshine. Have I been hibernating for the last few months?

I’ve certainly been fighting more bugs than is healthy in the first three months of any year. I don’t remember any other year when I’ve been inundated with so many illness bugs, and viruses and the like. Just as soon as I’m getting over one the next wave of attack hits me. It’s not funny … I want it to stop. Please!

In many ways the last couple of months have been a whirlwind of activity and emotion, which has largely been responsible for the dearth of blog posts here this year.

I’ve pretty much been doing the following:

  1. Waiting
  2. Coding
  3. Reading

Waiting

When the calendar clicked over to 2008, a couple of months ago, and we got (another) green light from the hospital to say that our IVF treatment would begin (again) this year a strange thing happened: I felt a though I began to retreat into myself.

I’m not entirely sure why, except that I guess I wanted to protect myself and from the relative safety of my ‘inner cave’ examine how I felt about this enormous step we were about to embark on (again!). It’s not an all-together bad thing to do, all things considered. In some ways, quite responsible. (Perhaps this means that I must be a grown-up now.)

One of the hardest things about the whole IVF programme (so far) is the waiting.

There’s a lot of waiting.

And unlike many of the procedures involved in the In Vitro Fertilisation process it’s something that the man can do equally well as the woman. In fact, it’s something that they can do together … since they can’t do any of the other things that are normally involved in trying to start a family!

So we’ve been waiting. And waiting some more. And in between the waiting … well, actually it’s mostly been waiting if I’m honest.

At times it’s been quite unbearable. We just want to know. One way or the other.

Coding

For the last few weeks I’ve hardly known what to do with myself. I’ve felt like a kid waiting for Christmas.

Jane started on the IVF drugs in July 2007 and it dragged on and on and on. One more month, another month after that … and then in December it was cancelled. Brought to an abrupt halt.

We could have had a child in that time!!

So in order to distract myself I’ve been bringing work home with me. I’m currently working on a recoding of the University’s website. And with the recoding a bit of a design tweak here and there.

Bringing it home has given me something to focus on. Something consistent. Something that has a beginning and an end. Something that I have been able to create.

I’ve been really enjoying it too, which has been the important thing.

Reading

And when I’ve not been sitting in front of my monitors I’ve been reading. Sometimes curled up in bed, other times on the sofa keeping Jane company.

Here are a few of the books I’ve been waiting through.

So I’m still alive and well, just keeping my head low just now.

Putting in the time

Back in the day when I was learning how WordPress worked (that’s the blogging/content management software that’s running this here blog-like thing) I must have literally spent hours pouring over the documentation, I printed out the source code and picked it apart, and found out what made it tick.

I really need to do the same with Joomla! 1.5 — but it’s hard to settle down to a leisurely investigation exercise like that when you just want the site that you’re planning on building with it to be built and delivered yesterday.

But there’s no shortcut in learning this kind of thing.  You just have to put in the time.

Thankfully I’ve got Barrie M. North’s excellent book Joomla! A User’s Guide to help.

The most dangerous sounding book in the world

I think I’ve just found the most dangerous sounding book in the world on Amazon: Plumbing for Dummies.

I’m surprised on that page it doesn’t have

People who bought this book also bought:

  • CPR for Dummies
  • How to survive a flood
  • Electricity and Water: Practical Experiments for Everyone
  • How to completely invalidate your home insurance in one afternoon

The Abs Diet

In my last issue of Men’s Health magazine I got a flyer inviting me to

Send for your 14-day FREE-PREVIEW COPY of The Abs Diet…

If I decided to keep the book the flyer told me that “I’ll pay four easy instalments of just £6.99″ which included postage and handling. A total of £27.96.

You can buy the same book on Amazon for £3.14. A saving of £24.82 before postage.

For £24.82 you could probably have it delivered to the Moon.

Joomla!

Yesterday I picked up a book at Borders bookstore in Edinburgh. Actually, I went further than that: I also took it to the cashier and paid for it. It’s mine now. I got to take it home, and everything™!

The book was (and still is) Joomla! A User’s Guide: Building a Successful Joomla! Powered Website by Barrie M. North.

I’m only on chapter 4 at the moment, learning about creating content but already I’m discovering that this is a rather good book.

The thing that gets me about alot of CMS books is that they don’t take the time to explain the concepts behind how the CMS organises itself (content, taxonomies, categories, sections, articles, posts, pages, etc.).

What I really want to know when I approach a new CMS is: how does it think? how does it all fit together? because a lot of CMSs operate with very different models, and it’s not always clear how to translate your understanding of one CMS onto another. It doesn’t always work like that.
This is — so far — a very clear book that takes the time to explain these basics very well, and with plently of real-life examples.

There’s an accompanying website too: Joomlabook.com.