Insta-grateful

Insta-grateful

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably already forgotten half the stuff that happened to you in 2012.

Last year I started using the photo sharing app’ called Instagram. Looking through my 2012 archive I’ve put together a small collection of photos that represent the things I’m thankful for, for it is said:

I will give you thanks in the great assembly;
among the throngs I will praise you.
[Psalm 35:18 NIV]

For freelance work, happy clients & a salary

Although it would be nice to have more coppers in the old money jar, I never needed more than I had. 2012 was a year of long days and some 70+ hour weeks – but through those times I met some great clients and even better friends. Friends who came alongside and taught me many a new skills.

work keyboard-freelance-work

For friends, new and old

I find it hard thinking back and realising that I didn’t know several of my closest friends this time last year. It’s been a pleasure getting to know them and building on existing friendships too.

new-friends friends

 

For rest and relaxation

Taking time out of work is hugely important and something I must discipline myself with more in 2013. Whether its relaxing with friends over coffee, or strolling through frosty parks on your own, it’s definitely something we all must find more time for.

coffee-sign cobwebs-in-the-sun port relaxing

For being able to help on Alpha

In 2012 I helped out on a couple of different Alpha courses and was able to witness lots of people giving their lives to Christ. A rather emotional roller-coaster at times, but also a great honour. Thankfully we’re only tools in the whole salvation process too.

alpha-god the-bible

 

For amazing talents of complete strangers

As a massive music fan of nearly every genre, it is fundamental to my day to listen to music. It can conjure up or shut down various emotions, help you focus or help you express. Films also play an important role of being used to unwind.

born-and-raised-john-mayer the-beatles-love-album cd-art the-matrix

For family

Not the obvious choice of photos for the people closest to me, but I rarely Instagram the times together with them. Much better to live the moment or take proper photos on the DSLR.
christmas-traditions broad-town japanese-sake-present me-mirror-me

For laughs, thrills and games

Many people will know that board and card games fill a small but significant part of my life. Great excuse to bring friends and strangers together; over wine, sugar or pizza

chrononauts-game enchiladas-and-friends dvds settlers-of-catan

To 2013…

I hope every reader of my blog, and every friend who doesn’t, a prosperous and blessed 2013. Where we take the rough with the smooth, acknowledging the bad and being thankful for the good.

Rant over Facebook’s New Events

Rant over Facebook’s New Events

More Facebook failingsOur lives are changing again. Why?

Cos’ the Facebook Elves has been tinkering again.

These aren’t even the nice Christmas Elves either, these are the ones that add more useless features to the highly addictive system they’ve built. Features that aren’t needed, are badly implemented, and detract from the fact Facebook used to be useful (and fun).

Today’s rant is about their new promoted upcoming events.

We’re used to being told of upcoming events in the top right corner of our ‘wall’. Those events were the ones we’d been invited to and either hadn’t RSVP’d or had reluctantly accepted. They were borderline useful. They’d remind you that the friends gathering tonight is at Adam’s house and not Pete’s, or that it was at the slightly earlier time of 5pm for example.

However, now we’re being told of upcoming events that our friends are going to. So event’s we specifically haven’t been invited too. Well isn’t that nice.

Well either your friends haven’t told you they’re going (i.e. they’re not overly bothered to ask you to join them) or they know you wont/can’t join them. Or perhaps a 3rd more shocking reason – you’re not actually friends! It’s a shock to suggest such a thing… I do apologise. I’m sure we’re all extremely close to the 100(?), 200(?), or even 500 ‘friends’ we have on Facebook.

Less and less control on Facebook events
Further loss of control on Facebook with their new ‘upcoming events’ posts

Over the last 24 hours I’ve been told of Steak House events in other countries. Oh and a sewing event some 50 miles away! Now I’m seeing a Christmas Carol service 100 miles away.

I guess the Facebook engineers actually think that we’re all really chummy and ready to drop everything to spend a few minutes with any of the 100’s of friends we have on Facebook. In my experience, that’s not what any Facebook user is like.

So how exactly does this latest change enhance my user experience of Facebook? Anyone know?

Option to remove event

At least they give you an option to remove the event.

However again, they have and they haven’t. There seems to be a way, but only if the advert is offensive or explicit it seems. This removal system seems horribly implemented…

Facebook fail options

Unless I’m missing something, where’s the option and freedom to just say this advert is irrelevant to you?

How about the simple option to hide it?

I very much doubt the Christmas Carol service has scenes of a sexual nature (ah the irony as there wasn’t any!) or any songs of hatred. Plus I have no evidence to suggest that Citygate Church in Bournemouth is purposely spamming me or harassing me in any way.

So none of those options are useful.

So just pick any of the reasons!

Well yes I suppose could select any of the options and the advert is likely to disappear, but that’s a) a horrible user experience, and more importantly, b) detrimental to the real event. Why should that churches event (or any event) be blocked from advertising simply because users had no other option than to make up reasons why they wanted it hidden.

If you mouse over the [?] box near the title of ‘Upcoming Events’ it tells you that these are nearby events. A hundred plus miles away is not nearby Facebook!

Plus I don’t want to be told of events my friends are going to nearby… unless I’m invited to them. You’ve already built that feature, don’t add nonsensical spamming into the mix to.

Perhaps if 20 friends were going to this then it could be excused for appearing, but the 3 events that I’ve mentioned above had ONE friend attending. I don’t need to be informed of that!

Just me ranting?

I have been known to rant about rather frivolous topics, but what do other people think about this? I’m hoping other people have seen these events pop up?

Have any of them been relevant or even vaguely close to you?

Have they enhanced your user experience of Facebook?

I don’t mind if you completely disagree with me, just love to hear your views.

Life: Philosophy and Heaven

Life: Philosophy and Heaven

The wonderful cross

Tonight we were discussing the prophetic promise of the new Jerusalem.

Not specifically the verse below, but this verse came up tonight and it sure does give me hope and peace for the future.

“There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Revelations 21:4

No, specifically we talked about the subject of identity in Heaven. We will be new creations, that is promised to us. Will we have desires though? For it is our desires that lead us and push us in life, at least partly. That is the discussion that we ran with for the night.

Are desires even a possibility when you’re inconceivably full of worship for a God that you now have perfect union with? Isn’t wanting something just a selfish act? A craving for something more?

Surely you can’t crave something if you’re, by definition, in a situation and environment that is both physical and spiritually perfect.

These were the kind of questions being discussed tonight; wonderfully complex, deep and inspiring. However, also amazingly irrelevant too, for you’re not going to be saved based on your ideas of Heaven, but we all knew that tonight.

To put it into a language I’m more comfortable with, it was more of a thought experiment than anything else. Our salvation won’t be based on how accurately we predicted the characteristics of Heaven, but entirely on where we put our faith while we’re here on Earth.

If you do want to know more about it though, I can recommend a good book :) I think we can all rely on the fact that whatever its like, whatever we want and whatever we receive, it’ll be nicer than Swindon on a cold November night.

 

Lethargy; creativity’s killer

Lethargy; creativity’s killer

With the best intentions in the world, the article didn’t get written. It didn’t even get started. Thanks to lethargy, no one will ever know about the discussions and insight that were shared that November night.

However the evening starts with dessert.

And the dessert was good!

Carrot cake this time, tasty and moist. A perfect accompaniment to my dark coffee.

In fact the desserts are always good on Monday evenings. These evenings are our Alpha nights at church and we’ve got some great bakers and chefs insuring we don’t lose any weight while sharing the gospel.

After the cakes had been demolished and we had heard a short talk, we split off into our groups and began discussing if/how people have drawn encouragement or hope from the Bible.

Needless to say some great conversations and content arose that I just wanted to get down on this blog. Start off the new blog content with a good inspirational message.

After Alpha I was still fired up and raring to get all theological on my keyboard, but then the inevitable happens.

The dark drive home…

The classic sing-along tunes on the radio…

The routine brew once you’re back home…

The ‘quick-mail check’ that turns into a Facebook and a Skype session too…

Then the realisation that the passion and call to action had been extinguished by distraction and lethargy. Not only had it been extinguished, but I let it. It’s not something I’ve only just caught myself doing recently either, it’s a stumbling block I’ve noticed dozens of times tripping me up.

Whether its writing a blog article, a page of code, or even the household chores… the inactivity to do something really puts a downer on your day. You look back knowing full well that writing that blog article would have been more productive than catching up with the TV you’ve got recorded.

Lethargy is defined as a feeling of “sluggishness, inactivity, and apathy”. It’s one of those states of mind that we don’t normally live in, but flip into against our own will it seems.

Apathy stole the best of me

I know a lot of creative people; ranging from writers to singers, photographers to designers, do they suffer from this apathetic reasoning? Do they slip into this state of sluggishness knowing full well that the creative works they’re putting off would bring them a new pay-check or perhaps development and recognition of their abilities. I believe they do.

Lethargy becomes a battle between two parts of the same brain, toying with both employing the brain to function creatively or to rest itself from mental fatigue.

I’ve found a key to beating this self-destroying state of mind is to just start the process with a tiny, easy step. A step that offers no possibility of failure. The fact you’re brain is already arguing with itself means that you’re likely to fail if you tackle the activity head on. Start with the very simple first step.

For me, it was creating a blog article title at 1am and hitting the save button.

That was the start of this article. It wasn’t originally going to be written, yet by not writing up the Alpha discussion I noticed this pattern of apathy and lethargy that I fall into on a regular basis.

Less rolling, more of a shudderLooking back you could hardly say that penning the title got the ball rolling, it was only 3 words at the time, so more of a shudder than a roll.

This is the way I’m going to attempt to write more articles and generally be more productive. I’m hoping to become a better theologian and photographer too, both of which I’ll apply this attempt at tackling the task with one tiny achievement at a time.

I guess you’ll be able to see in the middle of 2013 if that has helped or not, by looking at the types, quantity and quality of the posts I’ve been publishing.

However I would love to hear what you guys do when feeling lethargic and know you’re simply wanting to postpone the tasks at hand.

How do you guys deal with convincing yourself to not take the easy route?