alan little’s weblog archive for march 2007


29th March 2007 permanent link

The latest in my long line of attempts to make myself organised and efficient is mori from Hogbay Software. I rather like it. It’s not perfect, but I'm able to get it to do most of what I want it to. It’s good for combining semi-structured lists, with quite neat ways of grouping things into projects and cross-linking them, together with free form text notes. Previously I had a spreadsheet for the list/project stuff, which was perhaps a little easier to use but less powerful – and had the major drawback that it involved looking at Microsoft software when not at work – and various mail folders, notes directories on different machines and usb sticks constituting a morass into which free form text notes disappeared with little hope of ever being seen again. Now I have everything in one place. Actually two, but more on that later.

I have tried things like this before. In the late 80s and early 90s I was a filofax-carrying yuppie (although only one, at most, of my various “filofaxes” was actually made by Filofax®). They were quite easy to carry around, although the idea of having all that important stuff in one easy-to-steal-or-lose place with no backup made me nervous.

Then I had a Psion Organiser Series 3a. That was pretty nice in its day. It had the drawback that all possibilities for copying your valuable and important information to PCs or otherwise backing it up involved buying expensive accessories, which I refused to do (even though my then climbing partner John was actually the guy who wrote the PC snychronisation software). So then I was constantly nervous about having all my important stuff not backed up in something that was not only even easier to steal or lose than a filofax, but also at risk of electrical or mechanical failure. This is what we call progress.

My Psion 3a had the additional nice feature that I bought it with money I made from Psion shares. Unfortunately I can’t say the same about my considerably more numerous and expensive Apple Macs and iPods, although I could have done if I had had my financial act a bit more together two or three years ago. Speaking of Apple, I was one of the tiny handful of people who seriously considered buying a Newton. Another good friend of mine worked on a British project to build a Newton-like machine that sank with even less trace.

The Psion died in my luggage on the flight back from my first trip to India. That was ok, because I was entering my “do your practice and all is coming” phase, during which I tried operating on the basis that my yoga practice was what mattered and as long as I did that – and took some photographs – everything else was of secondary importance and most probably an illusion anyway.

Be that as it may, the arrival shortly after my second trip to India of a family, followed by a responsible permanent job instead of short term contracting gigs, brought the need to deal with and coordinate a larger number of illusions than before. I tried little black moleskine™ notebooks for a while, but they were too small so I needed too many of them. And still no backups.

[I still use the little black moleskine notebooks at work in meetings. They are useful for frightening people who think they can’t get through a single hour without a huge (paper) notebook, a laptop, a blackberry and a cellphone]

Enter mori. My laptop isn't as portable as a filofax, a pda or a little tiny paper notebook, but as it turns out I have it with me enough of the time for that not to matter. Plus backups! Finally.

I still have my important and valuable working memory in two places, though, because all my web links live in I back those up to my laptop too on a regular basis: I don’t doubt google’s yahoo’s ability to do backups more regularly and reliably than can, but I do doubt that any third party takes the importance of my personal information as seriously as I do. Plus, it would be quite nice to have everything visible in one place. has a programming interface, and mori apparently has the ability to write plug-ins, so one day if I ever find the time for it I might write something to pull the two of them together.

That turned into a long and aimless ramble, the original point of which was: mori is pretty useful and it’s good to support small independent software developers who produce useful stuff, like Hogbay Software.

stone airbus

18th March 2007 permanent link

A while ago I promised Brian Micklethwait a picture of the Deutsches Museum’s very ugly statue of an Airbus A380:

The Aviation branch of the Deutsches Museum - one of my son’s favourite Sunday destinations - has a bizarre and ugly granite statue of an A380. (It has interesting things too, especially if you are a small boy - my wife on the other hand refuses to go anywhere near the place)

Granite simply isn’t the right material for representing things that fly. I will try to remember to send you a picture the next time I’m there.

Here you go Brian:

Airbus A380

While I’m about it, here’s a (maybe) slightly more interesting picture from the same location

Hindustan Marut

This one is of a Hindustan Marut. A what? A Hindustan Marut. What is an obscure 1960s Indian fighter plane doing in the Deutsches Museum? The Hindustan Marut was the last opus of German aircraft designer Kurt Tank, best known for the Focke Wulf 190.

(Next to the Marut is parked a prototype of a Spanish/Egyptian supersonic interceptor – really – which was Willy Messerschmitt’s final effort)

heavy yoga

7th March 2007 permanent link

How to resume blogging after a long pause? Make a big song-and-dance about it, or just quietly pick up again about where you left off? Just quietly pick up, I think.


Due to circumstances beyond my control – my wife’s birthday – I spent last weekend in a very nice spa hotel in the Bavarian countryside.

This hotel had, among other things, quite a well-equipped gym. And, for reasons to do with some stuff I’ve been reading lately, I thought it would be interesting to see if I can deadlift my own weight these days. I can’t quite, as it turns out. (But nearly. And I think it must be over twenty years since I last tried that particular lift)

Here’s something I noticed afterwards. There’s a moment when you start to pull and you think, oh shit, this is actually hard, the bar isn’t just going to come off the ground on its own. There’s a moment when you think ah, nearly there, I just need to straighten my back a bit. The bar presumably must have moved upwards during the bit in between where there’s no time, no world, no consciousness. Just like it sometimes is in yoga, if you’re doing it properly.

The gap between “outward” western activities like lifting weights, and “inward” eastern activities like yoga asana practice, is nowhere near as big as many people involved in the latter like to think. (See also this rather good article about meditation by a bodybuilder)

related entries: Yoga

photography quotes

7th March 2007 permanent link

You mustn't want. You must be receptive.
Henri Cartier-Bresson, courtesy of Mike Johnston

related entries: Photography

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april 2007 >