Monday, January 30, 2012

One mans misery....

Is another mans amusement, especially when its based on something so empty and futile.

A little altercation at work today with a co-worker really did put my new found patience and focus to the test, and by golly I think I did pretty well. While there are no winners and losers in such a situation, there are always lessons to be learned, and todays lesson was clear.

I am clearly capable of keeping a clear head while those around me are losing theirs.

Which is fantastic news for me on so many levels. This is the test I have been waiting for for weeks if not months now. I can use this confidence in a number of other up and coming situations for me, including my impending test. Focus is where its at, and I have refound mine.

The outcome of the situation, a very frustrated co-worker, a number of startled and astonished co-workers, and a feeling of satisfaction. At both the ending to the situation, and also in my ability to stay cool.

Well done me, even if I do say so myself.
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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ok, its diet time..... Again!

Heard it all before, yeah yeah ok, riiiiight... I can hear all the sighs and groans now, but this time I mean it, honest. If I'm being honest I guess I should say I am 2 days in already, and all is going fine. A couple of bowls of cereal is all that has passed my lips for the past few days, and if I'm honest I feel fine for it.

Sure there are some familiar things happening, headache and peeing lots, but they are all expected. The plan I'm following is a VLCD or Ketosis based plan, with supplemental food packs supplied by Protikee. I have used them before, and they are amazing for rapid weight loss. With the ongoing issues with my foot, taking some of the load off it will help no end.

To show I am still planning and following my plan, I already have some food planned for tomorrow night. Noooo! Don't start groaning again, this will be chicken aka pure protein, so won't be an impact on the diet itself.

Long term, I want to stick to this for 4-6 weeks at least, with only occasional foods just to keep the body ticking over. Hopefully at the end of it clothing will be a little more comfortable, the idea of sitting in an airline seat in the summer for 9 hours won't seem so daunting, and best of all some self confidence will return.

With January coming to an end my busy month is just around the corner, so all hell is about to break lose. Hopefully by the end of Feb with birthdays, weddings and tests all out of the way, I will be on a far more solid footing, and heading in a positive direction. Not wishing Feb over with, but I am hoping that I will come out of Feb on the path that I have in sight.

Right, that's me for now, Day 3 ahead.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Amazing how our opinions vary

Have you ever noticed that depending on what we are told (fed) by the media, and what circle of life someone comes from, determines how we 'judge' people. An example popped into my mind only this morning.  We judge bankers and their pay / bonuses based on what the media have told us they are all about. Surely no one should earn this kind of money, no one deserves such financial remuneration for ANY job they do surely.

However at times like this we seem to completely overlook sports. With some sports personalities taking tens, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds home a month. What in gods name justifies that? Its a sport, surely if they love the sport, they would do it for a tenth of what they earn. But no, we constantly hear of multi million pound transfer deals. All the while there are some of these people who are apparently worth millions that dont even perform.

I guess what I am getting at is, there are good and bad examples of people earning a shocking amount of money annually, and its all about how we perceive them. Negative press gets the mind thinking, then any example put before us is tarnished with the story we heard, and all persons associated with this activity is tarred with the same brush and judged as not worthy of their money.

'The root of all evil' is still to date the best description of money, with religion tying for first place. Put the two together and suddenly there is a disaster on the horizon. We would all love more money, seemingly even the wealthy would go a long way to make a little bit more of the stuff. Tax evasion, dodgy investments, and selling their soul and privacy, just for a bit more money. While others scrimp and save just to get a break from the daily grind.

While us normal people carry on our day to day lives, there is a whole other league of people who live very different lives. And if you look closely you will notice that money indeed cannot buy happiness. Depression, addiction, and violence. Regardless of how much money you have, you can and in fact are probably more likely to be affected by the above. With money comes attention, and with attention comes expectations. once again led by the media, we are bombarded daily with stories about affairs, diets, drunken behaviour and other boring facts about people in the media spotlight. Once the spotlight is on you, you are expected to conform, and live up to the persona that has been created for you. Subsequently these people go to extraordinary lengths to please, and as they are lifted higher and higher in the air by the media, only one thing can possibly be coming next.

Except for a very small group of A-Listers, anyone who takes this journey will eventually take a fall, and usually a big one. Once they do this, daring to do something that normal people do every day, they are portrayed as bad people and scum, and 90% of the people who once whooped and cheered when they saw the said celebs, will now boo and hiss. Again, we do this because we conform in some way to an unwritten rule that says we should behave the way the media tells us to. Very few people ever bother to clarify a story, we just read a headline, and respond in the way that the story was written dictates we do.

I for one sure am glad that I am not famous, wealthy or influential in any way. A little more money would not go amiss, being able to settle up some bills and accounts would be nice. But my life is driven to survive and exist. To better myself and experience things before I reach my expiry date. I don't have to conform to any particular way of life, and have many choices of direction. OK I have to abide by the laws of the land, but other than that, and any physical constraints im a free man to live the way I choose. Something a lot of people will never experience. Money is one thing, freedom is a totally different thing.

One of the amazing positive things the media have done over the 12 months is reported, inspired and assisted the Arab Spring. Seeing stories like this bursting through restores faith and believe in the power of the media, and is a great example of what such a body can achieve. Personally, watching the stories unfold, and seeing the passion that they were reported with made me realise that I am actually quite lucky. The UK government is far from perfect, the country is ravaged by the recession, but look around you... Good public transport, education, facilities etc. We have so much that we take for granted. Being able to write this blog and say what I think of individuals is something millions of people will never had the right to do.

All the above opinions are made by a pretty normal guy, having a pretty average day. Take each comment and opinion as you will, feel free to mock or object, but remember whatever you do, look at the bigger picture next time you read a story in the news, and ask yourself.... Do I really care?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Am I being tested here?

How infuriating, a new routine, a new lease on life. Giving it my all to try and get things I can control sorted, and once again my body throws me a curve ball.
So last week I had a strained Planta Fascia muscle. As it seemed to start behaving I thought it was time to get it working again. So starting with the basics the walk to and from the station when I'm going to work is about 1 mile at one end and about 1/4 mile the other end. For the past few days I have managed that just fine with no repercussions.

So step 2 was to reintroduce the full 3.5 mile walk with the dogs in the evening, and that's seems to be where its all going wrong. Each morning for the past few days now I have worked with the aching foot from hell. My guess is that I am overstretching what I can do at this point while my foot isn't fully healed. The problem being I can't fully rest it as I still have the daily walks to get to and from work. But that's not causing any discomfort, so that's a positive at least. I have a benchmark of what I can do without repercussions.

The downside to all this is not being able to do the morning walks with the dogs like my new morning routine dictates. Anyway, out with the negative and in with the positive. On the plus side, I have my new gradual plan for my eating routine, and that's one thing I can stick to without too much of an issue.

So it starts today, slowly changing from food food food, over to a bit of cereal and shakes, and by next week I will be on pure shakes. No its not for everyone, yes there are better ways to lose weight, but I know what works for me, and based on my previous experience 100% commitment is the best and fastest way for me. This is a great thing to be able to prove to myself right now, and with it will come more confidence in myself, as well as the feeling of being back in control again.

Plan today... Frosties for brekkie, (done), shake before work. Nothing but fluids for my time at work, then 2 more shakes (maybe a bar or something) this evening, saving a chocolate for my night time hot chocolate, yummy. This is a plan that will continue for the remainder of the week, and once the Frosties are gone, they are gone. No more.

Long term, a weigh in tomorrow, then weekly ones. Weight is not the goal, wellbeing is. From there I want to get my foot in a good enough shape to be walking both dogs in the morning, then doing the long walk in the evenings. Including the walks to work the exercise level will be increased no end, the calorie intake right down.

The strange part is having trainers on really helps my foot, so once they are on the walking isn't too much of an issue, but obviously if I do too much, then normal walking will become painful and really damage my plans.

So here we are, begun, committed, and ready to give it my all. Mentally I feel strong right now, and in the right frame of mind to do this. One step at a time literally.

On a side note.... I am more than aware and not forgetting my daughters 17th Birthday in 2 weeks time. Hope you are excited Sian :)
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Today's game plan

I thought I would commit to the web so I can at least check back and see if I stuck to it, rather than changing it in my head to fit how the day turned out.

Last night I had a great walk with the dogs, but as usual seem to have over done it a bit, and have been left with a sore foot again, so the plan wasn't to walk them this morning, and I didn't. I got up early as planned, did a few bits in the house then lounged for a bit. As planned.

Today I shall be having my last intake of proper food for a while, so going out with a bit of a bang, a little binge if you may. So from this point on, no more junk and prob no more food for a bit. There is a busy month ahead of me with plenty of distractions around me to keep my mind away from the temptations.

I also have a few things to plan and sort out, a couple of payments to make, and calls to make to arrange work. On the house following the plumbing and plastering. I'm looking forwards to getting the bathroom sorted properly once and for all, so must get these calls made.

On a side note, I saw workmen working on the vacant plot next to my house, clearing out the water from the ruined foundations, so maybe this signals a spring start to the rebuilding of a property there. Also very exciting, it will be nice to have a building there again after so long. Just hope there are no implications to my house as they build the place. Let's not worry about that for now eh.

So its off to work I go. Already in the knowledge that we are short staffed today and its going to be an interesting challenge. With Steve off for the next couple of weeks on paternity, and various other absences, we are a little thin spread, but hey, a challenge is good right.

Right, here comes my station, so that's me for now. My entry ends listening to Example, Split Personality..... That's SO me!
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Another day draws to an end

However its not like the last. Today has been one of potential and where the fight back starts over. Positive moves, speaking my mind, and making the minutes count.

OK so the day started pretty poorly really with me over sleeping as I have already mentioned, but from that point on I like to think that I made sure things only got better.

Remembering how much drive and positive feeling music gives me, I managed to supercharge my morning with some dance tracks, and smile most of the way to work. Probably looking like a little bit of a nutter on the train. Walking down the road in the rain with a grin on my face probably did little for my image either. But you know what... Who cares what others think. This fight is in my head, and its there that I shall win or lose.

By Thursday I am going to start on the shakes again. 100% shakes, none of this mix and match I have been trying over and over. This is something I need to do, and after a kick up the bum and a message of support from 'Aunt Sally', I'm sure I'm doing this right. Reminding me that there are certain things in life that I cannot influence or change, and supporting the view that I can't take responsibility for everything and everyone in my life. Both important issues that I really needed someone else to confirm I was right to leave alone.

The next few weeks are all about me. My success, my future, and my feelings. For now everything else takes second place in my mind. By the time I reach 8th Feb I want to be focused and ready for the challenging days that lay ahead, and not confused and vulnerable as I have been over recent months.

Today I went to see my manager about a whole bunch of issues that have been getting to me, and I have no intention of hiding my feelings towards these matters. Work related issues that those involved in are aware of and clearly too arrogant to recognise what impact their actions have on others. Well, I for one am not about to stand by and watch bullshit like that. Especially after the way I was treated for daring to have a mental breakdown while my mother was dying. (How dare I indeed!)

So if I work with you, and you are reading this, ask yourself a question... Do you take the piss? And if the answer is yes, then maybe your ears burned a little today.

I also came clean about my overall feelings of satisfaction and happiness at work, and made it clear that I appreciate the wage, don't hate my job, but am certainly not happy there right now. But then I don't think I'm the only one.

All in all I got a lot off my chest today, and when I got home I felt mentally drained. Either from being a bit down, or having expended all that energy thinking about what to say to my manager, and actually putting it all out of there. On a plus, I managed a good long walk with the dogs tonight. They are both laying on the floor as I type, snoring, farting and twitching as they dream. Bless them, who needs kids when you have stinky farting dogs.

And that's a perfect link into my closing statement of the night.

Yesterday I spoke of friends, and how rare they are. Well tonight one of my friends of over 20 years now, is in hospital with his girlfriend awaiting the arrival of their first child. So I dedicate this entry to Steve and Anna, and wish them all the best in the labour and birth, and look forwards to seeing the little blighter some time soon. Congratulations guys. (PS I better get a BBM straight away!)

Thanks as ever for reading, and good night y'all.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lifes a bitch...

Everyone loves a funny story so here is one for you.. Someone buys a camera fraudulently with a stolen credit card via mail order, and has it shipped to them in another country. Using an address that isn't his, and assuming the occupant will be out, he places a note on the intercom for the apartment saying the buzzer is not working.
Unfortunately the courier delivering tried the buzzer first, got an answer and delivered the £1000 camera to the unassuming resident.


Meanwhile the guy has been calling the call centre all day insisting he hasn't been in at all today, and he didn't sign for anything, while the guy who answered the door and took it hasn't been seen since. The caller said a card had been left saying he missed delivery, but no card was ever written which proves he is lying, and didn't even know the colour of his apartment door. He had left a mobile number on the note, so was probably watching close by, waiting on the call, them would pretend to rush home to sign for the package at the building door, never needing access. Just wasn't counting on a courier trying the 'broken' buzzer first.
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Well that worked out well!

Oops, I went to bed last night, early and full of promise. Planning to break the routine, be up early, get a good few miles in with the dogs and start over. Well needless to say I slept in a little later than planned, and its raining heavily outside, so how's that for a bad start to the day.

I am trying to find a sensible balance at the moment, to give myself enough time to walk the dogs, have a sensible amount of free time, and be able to do all the household stuff I need to do. Which I was still awake in time to do anyway.
However I don't want bundles of free time, to be bored and start filling my rounded face with even more junk. So its a delicate balance right now, at least until I can get myself on a roll.

Having done LighterLife, I know I have willpower, having overcome some real lows in life I know I have determination, and after some deep thinking last night, I know I have support. Now I just need the key, the catalyst, and the reason to sort myself out. Once I get started I know my mindset changes and my dedication is solid, just need those first few steps.

At least I know my brain is working again these days, I sure seem to be able to blog without too much of a problem, so that's something right :).

I have said this before, and I am gonna say it and try it again, I am going on a diet. Having tried other ways, I have decided the only way to go is full on shakes. The mix and match never really works because temptation is ever present having food in the house. Shakes are the way ahead, so once my supplies of fresh food in the house are gone, the fun begins.

So much changes when I'm in a determined and aggressive mindset, and right now, that's where I need to be, hungry to succeed, determined to achieve, and doing something for me for once. And there you have it, by the weekend I revert to a shakes only man, and hopefully return to being half the man I am now, literally.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Friends

What are they? Its a word used all too often, and thrown about a little too easily, but what does it mean to you?
For me I break up people I associate myself with into 3 groups. And I don't take any of them lightly, so don't worry which group you fall into, you are in my life, so I want you there, therefore I care and am grateful for your presence.
The first group is acquaintances. While it seems very vague, to even associate myself with someone takes a great deal of trust, and a bit of respect. I don't like having the piss taken out of me, so an quite happy to drop people like a hot rock from this group if it is clear that things are not right.

Then there are my mates, people who I have known for years, people I would do most things to help. I would never want to see a mate in peril or a situation I could help them with, and will always do anything I can for them. Trusted with the more private parts of my life, and people I will confide in when the time comes. Most of my mates I have known for 10+ years, and there is a mutual reason that we continue to keep each other company.

Then we come to friends. Friends to me are a very small group of people who I would literally die for. People who I have no secrets from, and would trust with any aspect of my life. When I say a small group, I am talking about counting them on one hand. Having lost 2 of them in the past 18 months to an accident and a terminal illness, I guess I am missing something in my life. Like having 2 supports swept away from under me. But I am still left with a couple more.

I guess sometimes I get too dependent on the said few, and forget the numerous other people who are there and have stood by me for years now. I forget the mates that turn into my much closer friends, I forget how things develop through the stages of trust and respect, and for a short while I pile it all onto the couple of true friends I have left.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not whining that I only have a couple of friends, a couple of people that are truly that close to me, hell I'm blessed to have anyone I can trust that much at all. What I am saying is that I'm too dependent on those few, and not thankful or respectful enough for the other people around me.

So to YOU..... Yes you! Thank you for reading this, understanding what I am saying, and for always being there for me when I need you. It maybe days, months or years since we last spoke or saw one another face to face, but we both know that we have got each others backs 24-7, and feel safe knowing that someone is looking out for us. Acquaintances, you are a great bunch, and I love having you all about for your humour, your stories and your occasional company. Always keeping things lively, and supplying regular smiles to my day.

To my mates, you are a wonderful group of people, and I am honoured to know you, and blessed to have you around me. We have spent a number of years learning to trust each other, and showing respect. Some people just dive straight into this role, and feel so natural to have around me from day one. However lessons have been learned fron trusting people too soon.

Then there are the elite, the best of the best, the niche, the ones who I know are there for me as I am there for them. Thank you so very much for taking the time to care about me the way you do. And I hope never to lose another true friend for ANY reason until the day I die.

So, what do you consider a friend to be, and how are your circles of trust laid out? We are all different, and all have different ideas what role friends and family play in our lives. I would dare to say that some friends are more important than some family. Respect is earned and not just given.

The past few hours with comments and messages through Facebook and BBM have caused me to write this entry, and have this train of thought, and for that I am grateful. A little dig in the ribs to wake me up and remind me how much I have in my life to be truly thankful for...

Thank you for being there, and thank you for reading :)
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Its just one of THOSE days

No matter what you think or do, you are never going to get it right. Even deciding which side of the bed to get out of this morning was probably the wrong choice. You know what I mean right? From first light today things have gone wrong, and not in simple to put right ways. I mean in ways that are simple from the outside, but once you get into them, they just become complex and messy.
Imagine you pull your headphones from your pocket, a few little loops in there you think, straight in 10 seconds.... 5 mins later you are standing there frustrated, pissed off and in a worse mess than you were to start with.
THAT'S the sort of day I'm talking about.

Your intentions are pure, your motivation is to do the right thing, but for some reason, before the day is out its all going to be one big bloody mess, with you rocking back and forth on the sidelines wishing you had just not bothered at all. Regardless of what part of your life you offer this comparison up to, there is always going to be an example of it. Fixing a car, decorating, relationships, there is always a time when you will screw things up without even trying.

For me today I have managed to lose focus and direction, spinning out of control mentally, travelling down roads I had sworn I would leave well alone. The knock on effect of this is a bit of a pain, messing with my focus, and breaking my concentration on other more important aspects of my life.

I should say at this point that I have done a lot of soul searching over recent days and weeks and have decided that I can be a little selfish and dramatic at times, and really do blow things out of proportion. OK so this isn't life and death, its not the end of the world. Nor will I become homeless or hungry any time soon. So on the grand scheme of things, its REALLY not so bad, and that's what I keep telling myself. But for some stupid and maybe selfish reason, my mind just refuses to let go of certain things, and insists on bring them back to the front of my mind at the most inopportune times. Like now !

I wont go into details on here, there is really no point, you have all heard it a million times now. But I will say that I really need to learn to check with my brain before engaging in certain activities. I have had a lot of support over these matters over recent times, and as ever you all deserve a massive thank you for your time and efforts invested in my sanity. I have also realised how numbing my depression medication was. Being able to switch off a train of thought was a great trick, but in the long run I guess I need to face my demons to be able to overcome them.

Unfortunately the list seems to keep growing recently, although on closer inspection its probably a few root problems which conspire against me to cause all sorts of messed up issues for me. Weight control, financial control, and responsibility seem to be my greatest downfalls. Even they could probably be condensed down a little, as better spending would not allow to overspend on food, and would therefore eliminate that too. OK so its just down to money and responsibility I guess. Sounds about right, the two greatest downfalls of man as a whole.

Money, I am terrible with, want want want, but never WANT to pay bills or get myself straight. Always focusing on somewhere further down the line in my fantasy life where money is all sorted. That said, if I achieve my goal in Feb, I will not only tackle money, but also responsibility. Which is probably why the next few weeks are so important to me. It could change so much for me, but with the stresses of life once again building up at my door, I risk it all.

As for responsibility, well that is a long story. Responsibility for my own daughter seems to have evaded me for many years, instead passing the buck to another, and being very lucky that she ended up in such good hands. I guess that's one of the things eating away at me at the mo. I have covered it all before, missed opportunities, mistakes I might have made along the way, but recent events, and anniversaries bring it all back to haunt me, leaving my brain filled with negativity and other messed up thoughts.

Sudden reminders that I am no longer the man I once was, and gentle hints given along the way that somewhere I need to make changes. No regrets, that's all the past, there is no point looking back and wondering what if.. But seeing the road ahead and knowing what it could be if I make the effort, pushes me to assess myself. and make adjustments. I want change, I want chances, I want opportunities to help others as well as myself, and most of all I want to make a difference. Somewhere in someones life, I want to be the cause, the catalyst, the reason for something good happening or changing to them. Remembered for something worthwhile, and not just as an existence and a blurred memory.

Hey I'm no Einstein, nor peoples hero, but nor am I afflicted or blighted with misfortune and pain. I have the chance to make a difference in peoples lives, while at the same time making a good life for myself... And THAT is what I want.

So away with the sorrow, goodbye to the doubt. I need to put insecurities behind me, and walk tall and proud forwards. Into the coming month, filled with ambition and drive.

Amazing how a mood can change just through writing a few (ok quite a lot of) words. This is why I love my blog. I don't know if people will read it, I don't know if people even care, but just through telling someone, and sounding my thoughts out, suddenly it all makes sense again.


Friday, January 20, 2012

The odds are stacked against

But that's no reason to roll and just give up now is it? Instead I am taking the previous negativity I have faced and turning it into motivation. A challenge if you will.

It seems each step I take in what I consider the right direction, I am swept back again, like walking on an opposite running escalator. I could just stand still and go where it takes me, but I have goals I want to achieve. Whatever life throws at me, I am determined not to give up, not to change my plans, and not to lose.

I have a test I really want to pass next month, smack bang in the middle of a challenging month, however there is no reason I can't do it. As usual my body is protesting about life progressing, and trying to immobilise me, in this case by straining my Planta Fascia. Stopping me dead in my tracks quite literally. But on this occasion I have refused to let it stop anything, determined to stay walking until I decide I want to rest. The new me if you will.

Throw a spanner in the works for me, and I will use that spanner to fix something else along the way once I have freed it from the inner workings of my life. Push me to the ground to stop me, and I shall stay on all fours to gain momentum and traction on my journey again. I refuse.... I REFUSE to be trodden down any more.

I can do better than I am doing right now, and I have faith and belief in myself.

OK this is turning into another self motivational entry isn't it. Well let me stop that right there.

I am a single example of how someone can achieve if they put their mind to something, and want badly to be YOUR motivation to achieve your goals in life. I have already overcome a lot of challenges in life, with the support and encouragement of my friends. However the journey doesn't stop there. Onwards and upwards.

We can do this, achieving our goals, be it losing weight, making a clean break or standing up and facing diversity. 2012 is just a number to me, but let the record show that this was the milemarker in my life where I stopped taking shit and rolling over, and instead made a difference.

I'm off to hobble on my painful foot now, to get to work to pay the bills, and stay stable while I plan my next move. Make your day a good one, and remember to do something that makes a difference to someone, today and everyday.
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Monday, January 9, 2012

Getting nowhere fast

Have you ever had that feeling you are not moving no matter how hard you try. Or one of those dreams where you are running as fast as you can, but dont seem to be able to break free from the things you are trying to escape. Well thats where I am right now, and how I feel about things.
The healthy eating plan has taken an abrupt U-turn, getting up in the mornings is a chore again, and I love my sleep all over again. Sounds a bit familiar doesnt it! Dont get me wrong im not down in the dumps or anything. OK so money is an issue for me, the monthly pay seems to go less and less distance, but then on the flip side of that, the unhealthy eating habits are a large contributor to my monthly expenditure.

I am hoping this is a cycle I can break fast, as I am more than a little anxious about where this road is taking me. Health is paramount to me these days, having had my fair share of issues in the past, I am keen to try and stay as healthy as possible now. In the past 6 months or so I have gained about 30lbs, and while its nothing too serious, I am uncomfortable in how I feel, aware of my appearance to others, and feeling less and less active. Maybe thats why I can run to get away from the situation eh.

Next month is an interesting month for me, a couple of big challenges lay ahead, as well as an opportunity to achieve a personal goal. Feb sees my first birthday without mum here, the date of her birthday (23rd) passing without her for the first time. Also the first time that the date for Sian's birthday (10th) has come around after I have spoken to her for the first time in 12 years. So all in all an interesting month. The shortest, yet most action packed month of the year for me. There is more too, things such as going to see Emeli Sande and Daley in concert at The Borderline in W1 on the 9th. Two amazing up and coming artists. Cant wait to see them both live.

So I guess thats something to work towards, maybe Feb being so important is a good reason to pick up the pace and get my shit together now huh. Thats what im hoping anyway. I may have started the wake up call sooner than expected. While talking to Tiffany last night, and discussing our preferences in music I mentioned Linkin Park. She also gave me some great pointers for artists too, so thanks for that hun. Anyway, as soon as I mentioned Linkin Park I immediatly rememebered the inspirational lyrics of the Minutes to Midnight album. in a flash I dug it out, and this morning on the train into work I listened to at least half the album.

Moving, is the only way I can describe the lyrics on this album, with so many tracks digging deep into the soul for meaning, and provoking some powerful thoughts and reactions, within me certainly. Helping me to find light in the darkness, and direction within the confusion that is my life right now.

This is all sounding very dramatic I know, but its really not as bad as it sounds, dont panic. The only way I can describe my situation right now is 'trying to regain my balance'. Imagine standing on a small square, and trying not to step outside it. As the wind blows you and the ground moves you sway to catch your balance, and stay planted. As you do you, your arms may flail, and you may rock back and forth. It is possible you will grab out to something to try and gain stability, but this may prove to be a wrong decision.... Well thats me right now, I have reached out and grabbed a couple of times now and only made matters worse for myself, and am now just flailing about a bit. I will catch my balance, but there will be a few scary moments along the way.

Actually, while I am sitting here feeling sorry for myself, it reminds me of something that happened this morning while on the train, listening to Linkin Park. A couple of stations into the journey an elderly guy joined the train. With a strong unwashed odour, and pretty untidy in dress, he walked along the carriage to find and seat, and chose the one next to me. Like any selfish person, my first thought was 'why next to me, you smell'. But then a second later I realised something.
Here was me sitting on a train, on my way to work, to earn what can only be described as a fair wage for the hours I work. I had just left my 3 bedroom house, and was dressed in new, clean, and fresh smelling clothes, and had just had a bath. All I could think about was poor me, I have bills to pay, I have debt, I want a holiday. Then my reminder and wake up call sat next to me. Like something from Bruce Almighty (I watched Evan Almighty last night actually), before I was able to drop into deep self pity, I was reminded of my true place in society.
I manage, somehow to pay the bills monthly, I have a few televisions, cable TV, high speed internet, more media devices than the average man needs, and have holidays every year. Yet here I daring to feel sorry for myself.

To be honest when I think about it, this time last year I was vowing to volunteer more, and help other people, and even recently I saw a poster asking for helpers and volunteers. Maybe this is what I need in my life. To stop being selfish, and to make an effort to help others. Then maybe I will see my own situation more clearly for what it really is. So thats a challenge I am setting myself here and now. GET INVOLVED! Watch this space.

In the meantime, back on the straight and narrow, and stop spending money on shit food, and eating crap 24/7. Cereal and foodpacks/shakes for me from here on in.

Right I will cut off here and stop moaning on, I am starting to bore myself, so god knows what im doing to anyone reading this. Pity me, pity me lol.

Seriously though, thank you for reading, seeing the views gives me the drive to get off my arse and do something about.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Blackberry vs Android

**edited for those who feel it should have been written and formatted in a more professional manner. **

I have been meaning to write this for a while now, and thought the time had come to jot it all down before I forgot what I was going to say. So here it goes.

I spend a lot of time talking about mobile devices, and moaning about the shortfalls and glorification of certain brands. Yes, Apple, I said it, so what! lol
But I like to keep my hand in and see what the manufacturers of the world are offering. Attached to my Blackberry by the palm of my hand, I thought it was time to take an adventure, and see what was going on in the world. Having recently had an iPad, and swapped to a Blackberry Playbook, and having previously had an Android handset, I decided it was time to take the plunge back into Android. The last handset I had was a Motorola DEXT, which was good, but nothing to write home about. In fact I think I may have mentioned it briefly a couple of years back.

Having done a few hours research, I decided that out of the 2 handsets on the market, the Samsung Galaxy S2 was the one to have. Without any messing about it was ordered and in my hand within days. Yes yes, another contract phone.

So let me start this of by saying. I have been a Blackberry user for years now, and am loyal to them purely because they provide a handset and service that matches my needs almost perfectly in every way. When you are set using one particular brand for a long period of time I think it is fair to say that you become blinkered to the world around you, and are at risk of believing there are no alternatives out there. The only way to truly avoid this is to keep your options fresh, and in my case I use various devices to keep my eyes wide open.
I can say without any doubt that Blackberry is still the device I would choose if I could only have one handset. The Blackberry 9900 offers everything I could NEED, and delivers it in a great package, and with power and punch. The speed and reliability of it suits me fine, and its adaptability to carry out the various tasks is excellent.
For me, the past month, having had access to use the S2 has been great, for a number of reasons. Allow me to explain in a little more detail. Having used both at great length I have been able to identify once and for all what it is about Blackberry that I like so much, and that keeps me hanging in there with them, even when they appear to be falling way behind the competition. While at the same time, it has allowed me to experience first hand what the touchscreen world of phones really offers the end user. The 9900 is also a touchscreen but has a full QWERTY keyboard too, so its not the same, much smaller real estate for the screen.

First up, the Blackberry Bold 9900.

Pro's:
Physical QWERTY keyboard
Solid build
Nice size and weight for the hand
Simple connectivity
BBM applications
Reasonable battery life
Notifications /LED
Touchscreen interaction
Trackpad

Con's
Reduced battery life compared to OS5 and 6 devices
Limited apps available
Browser still slow compared to some
No Flash
Poor camera due to no autofocus
Slippery and easily scratched battery cover.

Keyboard and input
The things I love and hate about it. The good stuff first. a full QWERTY keyboard is the making of a great phone for me. Perfect sized little buttons even for my quite large fingers makes writing long emails and errm blog entries a walk in the park. Chatting on BBM is also a delight, and leads me neatly onto the next plus point of Blackberry. I would be lost these days with BBM, and chatting to my friends around the world at all times of day and night. The build and feel of the phone in the hand makes these chats and extended uses of the handset great
Having the choice between using a trackpad or the touchscreen is a great improvement to the use of the handset. Added to this that the trackpad can mimic almost anything you can do with the touchscreen, and here you have a great hybrid which can be used with normal gloves on of your choice, and not specific conductive finger-tipped gloves. So the overall input to the 9900 is borderline perfection.

Application integration/BBM
Then there is the hassle free integration with Facebook, Twitter and other social network sites. I am a bit fan of taking random pictures and sharing them, and love taking my Blackberry on holiday and on trips with me to record ever lasting memories via social networking and blogging. New to some of the apps for OS7, there are a lot more options for sharing information via BBM. Instantly sharing web pages, sports scores, tweets, music with other contacts on BBM is a great improvement and shows RIM and developers are heading in the right direction to create their very own social network within BBM.

Battery
With a pretty good battery life for a smartphone, I can do the things I love like taking and sharing pics, and chatting to my hearts content for hours on end. The tech world accepted a long time ago that smartphone, and great battery life were never going to be found in the same sentence again. Compared to the handsets of a few years ago smartphones have terrible battery life. However given what they do for us day to day, the battery on the 9900 does a pretty good job.

Notifications
The one thing I didn't realise I loved so much about my Blackberry is the LED. With a simple app added it can flash a wide range of colours, and at different speeds. OK not very exciting you think, but it is a game changer, for me at least. One thing Blackberry seems to do like no other is notifications. Being able to assign a sound and a colour flash or pattern to many contacts, as well as various different email addresses and applications means that I don't have to keep checking my phone to see if someone has text and I have just missed the alert. Instead I can look at the phone on the side, and if the LED is flashing I know something has occurred, and by simply looking at the colour of the LED, I will know what application or email address I have a notification for. From that I can decide if its worth checking, or simply ignore it.
No more picking my phone up every 5 mins. Just to add to this amazing function, the phone can be told to behave in a COMPLETELY different way once it is inside its holster or case, if you so choose to use one.


Remember these opinions are based on 2 handsets within the range offered on both the BB OS7 and Android 2.3 Gingerbread platforms. To recap that's a Blackberry Bold 9900 and a Samsung Galaxy S2. So now,the S2.

Samsung Galaxy S2 (Android)

Pro's
Screen size
Resolution and brightness
Decent touchscreen
Weight
Spec, great speed
Application availability

Con's
Build quality / plastic feel
Handset size
Lack of physical keyboard

Screen size / display.
One of the larger screens in the pure handset market at the moment, and certainly brings quality to the game. Big screen in this case does not mean poor resolution. Bright and colourful and capable of displaying websites and apps in good colour and detail even when zoomed out. Amongst huge competition out there with higher resolution displays etc, for me the S2 gives me all I need.

Touchscreen/ input.
Given my experience with other touchscreen devices, such as the Playbook, the iPad and a long while back the MotoDEXT, I consider this one of the nicest I have used. Compared to the DEXT which seems like a decade ago now, things have improved no end on touchscreen devices. The Android interface offers itself well to this responsive touchscreen, and the options for touch and hold within apps are easy to use and plentiful. All in all, a pleasure to use, and one of the first touchscreens I have used that convinces me they are not evil.
The lack of any kind of physical input is quite daunting to me though. For my personal uses of a smartphone, no physical QWERTY is a real downfall for me, but I guess it IS a touchscreen phone, so ....

Weight / build
Quite an imposing size for some users, the Galaxy appears to be a bit of a heavyweight, until you pick it up that is. The weight for such a large and powerful device is really quite shocking, and it manages to weigh very little, while not feeling cheap. OK so its plastic, and not the robust solid feel of the iPhone or 9900, but it doesn't feel delicate or fragile, and you are happy to use and abuse it like any other phone. In fact in the short time I have had it, I think it has taken more falls than any of my other phones of the past, and come out the other side unscathed. So as far as build and ability to perform go it certainly scores well in my books.

Spec / Apps
With a decent spec under the hood the speed of the S2 is really quite something. No lag, no messing, just apps on demand that run smoothly. With a handset full of applications, and a whole bunch running in the background, the device still manages to plough on through whatever you throw at it, and deal with things in lightning fast time. The software build seems to be pretty stable, with no sudden closures of apps, or other sorts of hiccups. The availability of apps for the device is mindblowing, especially for a Blackberry user. And gone are the days of all the apps being novelty fart apps etc. Now the market is full of useful applications for every day use. So the number of pages available for putting apps on, and the use of folders is great on the S2

So that's the two devices. Now for my opinions on how they fit into my everyday life.

The overall point that makes my proper decision for me is my smartphone usage is HUGE in one area above all others, IM and email. As you can tell from a lot of the entries in this blog, most are done via the berry. For typing long emails, or having flowing conversations on BBM, Whatsapp etc, the only way is berry for me. This was proven when I reinstalled Whatsapp on my berry this weekend after using it for a week on the Android. Just the sheer speed I can conduct a conversation is unreal compared to on a touchscreen.

Interaction with the applications is a similar matter. For apps that just supply information for me, such as SkyNews, the format in which it is delivered on both devices is fine, however the Blackberry seems to receive a smoother more regular feed of updates than the S2. For applications that require a small amount of input, such as ticket booking or social networking like Twitter, the way the info is delivered is far superior on the Android, friendly to the eye, and with the use of dropdown menus etc, the input time is quick on both devices. However the more input required, the less appealing the Android becomes for me.

And finally there are apps such as blogging apps, Facebook and forums which require a much larger amount of input. As pleasing as they are to the eye on the S2, there is no competition, and the Blackberry wins this fight without any competition.


So I think I have said all I can on the matter. I can round up by saying a few other one liners... RIM, you idiots taking autofocus off the 9900, what were you thinking! 9700 amazing camera, 9900, PANTS! The S2 camera wins hands down.
Battery life... If any smartphone user thinks the batter life of their device is 'good' you are crazy. Given what they do,I concede its amazing how long the battery lasts. But given that the idea is to stay in touch, the battery lives of all devices don't do much for me. Especially when comparing them to BB's of a year ago, 2-3 days of heavy use no problem. Just goes to show pretty apps are a PITA!

SUMMARY

Summing up I can only say that both handsets are more than capable of what is thrown at them day to day. Crossing over using the same apps on both has fizzled out now, and I have clear favourites on both. There is no winner or loser as such, and if I were a one handset kinda guy I would be happy with either depending on my input preference more than anything. To anyone in the market for a new touchscreen phone, I would recommend the Samsung Galaxy S2 any day.
However, for me a physical QWERTY is a must, so if one had to go and one was staying tomorrow.... The Blackberry Bold 9900 would be safe in my pocket any day. No winners of losers here, but the Bold 9900 is my handset of choice.


Right, I'm going to leave it there, otherwise it will sound like I'm obsessed or something..... Doh!

Thanks for reading and feel free to share your comments.