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Thursday
Sep202012

Reading later - update

Not to put too fine a point on it, the plan I had didn't work. For whatever reason, that Instapaper RSS feed doesn't want to show new items in my Google Reader. Plus even the links it did have I had to read them on the websites that the article appeared on, which generally just isn't as nice an experience as reading it in Instapaper. 

Instead I just paid my £2.99 (or whatever - a tiny amount considering the service I get from Instapaper), followed the instructions for installing a "read later" button on the iPad version of Safari, and now I have a very workable solution. I stick to my lunchtime routine of reading my feeds first, but as I seldom have enough reading to fill the time I spend eating my lunch I then open Instapaper and read those. The interface is lovely for reading from - more like the iPad kindle app than anything else. 

What I haven't done is directly hooked my twitter app to Instapaper. I just open the link in Safari and save that way. I use the free version of Echofon, and although the pro version apparently supports linking directly I balked at the extra £2.99 or so! I have connected Instapaper to Evernote - which just means that Instapaper emails the article to my Evernote account. Nice use of the inbuilt features there. No strong ties to an API, just keeping it simple. 

Once I've read an article I then either delete it (most), archive it (some), or send it to Evernote and delete it (a few). Keeps things simple. I'm mostly (but not always) reading the oldest first. And sometimes I look at them and decide I'm just not actually all that interested at all and delete without reading. 

So, I did find a solution, and it's working nicely. It just wasn't the one I first thought of! 

Thursday
Sep132012

Reading later - the random article problem

It's been a while since I posted anything geek related, but I've been struggling recently with lots of interesting articles to read, and no time to read them.

These aren't websites that I'll want to read every article on, or that I want to subscribe to. Chances are I'll read that one article and never look at the site again. But I might not want to do that immediately, or I won't have time.

I used to use delicious to bookmark the link, but that just means I've ended up with a large collection of half-dead links (the internet is not as everlasting as some people appear to believe) and unread links. Plus now my insta-bookmarking stuff doesn't seem to work any more. So that's been unsatisfactory for a while now. 

I did use Instapaper. I had it set up to send my clipped articles to my Kindle daily, which was great, but then I just ended up with a whole series of instapaper downloads that I haven't read on my Kindle. Eventually the guilt got too much, and I stopped clicking the "Read Later" button. 

Recently I've been using Evernote - but same problem of trying to remember to actually read the damn things. They sit there in my notebooks, and every now and again I get to them. 

I was talking this problem through with a colleague this morning, and suddenly had an epiphany. I currently read my RSS feeds daily over lunch. It's kind of like sitting down with a paper. I keep up to date, have a bit of a break from what I'm working on, and all is well. "What I really need" says I "is an RSS feed of my read later articles..."

Of course, Instapaper does that! Each folder has an RSS feed. So all of my clipped, read later articles can be handily fed into my lunchtime "paper", for me to decide if I really do want to read them, or thought I ought to. I also have an IFTTT.com recipe set up, so when I favourite something in my RSS reader, an Evernote note is made of that article. Bingo! A time and place I already read new articles, with the option to save them to long term interesting storage if I want!

I shall be trying this out immediately. It isn't perfect yet (I need a system for when I'm browsing on my iPad - any suggestions?) but it feels like it just might work. 

Saturday
Sep082012

Toulouse

I've been away this week, at a conference in Toulouse. It was my first visit, and it was lovely!

3 Sep 2012 17:14

The Place de la Capitole on my first evening (Monday). I don't know what was going on with the cows, but they disappeared and reappeared around the city. They moved every night while I was there.

There isn't a lot of spare time at a conference... Between all the thinking is lots of food and drink time. Lovely food too, being in France. I got a hotel that was just over a mile from the conference, which was at University of Toulouse. I walked every morning, picking up a pain au chocolat from a boulangerie on the way. It was beautifully warm too. The walk to and from the university was very pleasant indeed.

One of my colleagues had sent me a recommendation to go and visit the Basilica of St-Sernin. Sadly I didn't get there while it was open, but I did detour on my walk in.
5 Sep 2012 06:32
What I found most strange was that it was all brick, not the stone I'm used to. They were skinny bricks too. Must have taken ages! Really nice shapes.

Apparently Clarkie got asked if she was sure I wasn't off on a jolly. I think conferences are kind of a jolly for academics. Not just the food and wine, but the conversation and swapping of ideas is really good fun. Bloody knackering though!

Sunday
Aug262012

A stash is born

When we got back from cricket week, the leftover pinstripe material from my bag was sitting (folded neatly) on the table. It occurred to me that it might make a rather smart skirt, but I have two now and I wasn't sure I could justify it. Plus a plain black pinstripe skirt isn't quite summery enough really. Then I realised that I'm off to a conference in Toulouse next week. I checked the temperatures, and trousers aren't going to be optimal (30 degrees? Yay!). I'm on,y presenting a poster, not a full paper, but it feels like I ought to be sort of smart.

So I came back to my pinstripe again. I'm not great at making things the same way twice, and I thought it might look quite cool with a big, vertical slice of colour down the front. I pondered the hippos again, but Clarkie pulled a face. Apparently a wardrobe can have too many hippos. I found some bright turquoise with fish drawn on it, but Clarkie pulled another face. Too big a contrast between the smart and the stripe apparently.

(The fact that I asked for Clarkie's opinion shows I wasn't all that convinced either. Normally I'll just go for it.)

We nipped into town yesterday morning, and one of the shops on our list was a fabric shop. This was actually just a little fortuitous for me - Clarkie actually wanted to go get a little something for a fancy dress costume - but I am not one to miss an opportunity. I found a lovely fabric, with grey butterflies on a white background. Different enough for me, smart enough for Clarkie! So today I knocked up another skirt.

Yet another skirt

There's a pocket in the butterfly section, and it sits just where I like. I used the same template that I used for the denim skirt I made. I may have to wear this this week, just to wear it in obviously.

So that used most of the pinstripe fabric. But I bought 0.5m of the butterfly, and seem to have most of it left. Add that to the hippo, the rest of the denim, the turquoise... Suddenly I have a fabric stash! I swear I never intended that. Whoops! Still, you never know when it'll come in handy...

Friday
Aug102012

Small, smart bag

We have a wedding to go to at the weekend, and much to my surprise I've been organised and got an outfit (a dress no less), shoes, and even a matching bracelet and earings set for it. What I suddenly realised - last week, so not all that last minute for me - is that I don't have a bag, and smart clothes rarely look so smart if you have to carry wallet, camera and phone in pockets. 

Now, thanks to a blog post by Rands on what he looks for in a good bag, I did some obsessing about bags around Christmas. I even found this site (Leif Labs), where a guy talks about how he designs and makes bags. I didn't think it sounded so hard, but Clarkie rightly pointed out that I have one or two things on the go and should probably not start bag making. Plus I don't really think my sewing machine is up to the kind of heavy-duty fabrics I'd really like to use, so I shelved that idea. Until now, when suddenly it reared up again. I mean, how hard could a small bag be to make? A hanging liner (as used by Leif Labs) is just a second bag made out of a liner material...

But no. I resisted. I went on Etsy and found what looked like the perfect bag. I ummed and ahhed over the price for a day or two, then bought it. And as the "thank you for your order" page came up, I saw the note at the bottom: "This order may take up to two weeks."

Eep, thought I. It's one week to the wedding. 

So yeah. Guess what? I ended up making one anyway. I dragged Clarkie into a fabric shop with me on Wednesday night while we were waiting for some friends, and she found the perfect fabric in the remnants pile. Quite thick, cotton, black with a wide pinstripe. More than enough for a small bag at £3.60. I nicked the strap from a bright orange small bag that I never use, and the red hippo fabric for the liner. 

Bag open

I haven't quite finished, it needs another snap and the ends tidying up. But it's more or less there. I fitted it to my glasses, wallet and phone, with enough space for my camera as well. I'm pretty pleased. That should work just fine at the weekend, and not bad for 2-3 hours of work. 

Bag closed

I'm still not starting that rucksack project though...