Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Quote #3: It Is Always...

Practical Cookie Wise Words Wednesdays Week 3

I think that this concept is beautiful. The most ironic thing about it is that simple can be a surprisingly complex thing to achieve.


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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Quote #2: Man's Mind Stretched...

Practical Cookie Wise Words Wednesdays Week 2
I really love this quote for it's sense of just how much our minds change when they are challenged to literally stretch themselves. It emphasises how important continual learning is and how it can impact our lives.

Recently, I've really been enjoying learning and reading about things that challenge my preconceived notions on certain topics. While not all of the things affect me directly, they affect my perception of a bigger story or let me see an event from a different perspective. As a voracious reader, I've always enjoyed learning from stories and the wonderful ability of stories to let you see one event from multiple perspectives. I also think that seeing a story, whether it's a story in a book or an actual event in real life, from various perspectives is definitely something that helps to stretch your mind.

The other thing that has been stretching my mind recently has been learning new programming skills. I've really enjoyed having a couple of courses on the go and being back in an academic environment and learning these new skills is also helping to stretch my mind and is giving me lots of ideas for other possible applications that I can apply these skills to!

What has stretched your mind recently?


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Sunday, 19 July 2015

Life Lately

Hey everyone. I can't believe it's already more than half way through July and I've only posted 2 (ok, this counts as 3) blog posts. Life has been quite busy lately. I had an epic birthday a few weeks ago now and feel so incredibly blessed that I was able to share an awesome pre-birthday day with both family and friends together - something that doesn't happen often when you live and work far from where you grew up.

At work, we had a pretty intense testing phase of our project a few weeks back (known as FAT - Factory Acceptance Testing) which ran smoothly. There were a few bugs and a few smaller features that we identified as useful to the client, which is normal for these types of projects. But we didn't find anything hugely wrong while we were testing, which is really great news for us. After 6 months spent putting together specifications and another 6 months developing what we had specified, it would have been worrying if we had found major issues. So, so far so good on that front.

Otherwise, Frosty and I have been busy carrying on with two online courses*. The one is a basic programming course and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning how to program but unsure of where to start. It teaches you how to program using the Python programming language and has great videos and explanations on the basics of programming concepts. Remember the Photo Renaming Program I mentioned a while back? Well, I used Python to program it, and in some of my spare time I've added in some extra features. I'm hoping in the next few weeks to be able to share the improved Photo Renaming program with you, so watch this space! While I'm at it, if you have a better name for it than "Photo Renamer" please leave a comment below, I'd love a slightly more pretty name!


The other course we've been doing is really cool and I hope will be useful for future endeavours - it's an Android App programming course and this weekend our course project is due. We've had to create a simple app that changes squares of colours on the screen depending on the position of a slider. See in the two pictures above, how in the left image, the slider is on the left hand side and the right hand image, the slider has been slid all the way to the right hand side. I did that! And, those are screen shots from my actual phone. There's also a video that you can see, just click here. For most people, this probably wouldn't be that interesting or exciting, but I beg to differ! It's the start of actually being able to program an app, which is awesome! We've had to create apps from a blank canvas which has been a good way of consolidating the last few weeks worth of learning to make sure we actually understand what's going on in the course.

Keep an eye out for my second Quote of the Week which will be posted at some stage next week. It's a new feature that I'm starting to help keep me blogging more - so I hope you enjoy it! Here's the first one, for those who missed it. Don't forget you can follow me on Instagram as I will also be posting the quotes there.

Which is probably part of the reason that I haven't had as much time to dedicate to blogging as usual recently.


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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Project Video Programming Mobile Applications for Android Handheld Systems

Video of final project for the course Programming Mobile Applications for Android Handheld Systems.

I added in an extra feature, just for fun - that of being able to change the colour of the top left block from red to blue, or blue to red.

video



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Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Quote #1: Kind Words Are...

I am one of those strange people who enjoy technology but who also enjoys good old fashioned pen and paper. One of the things that I have done since forever-ago was to get one of those daily diaries at the end of one year and use it to help plan my life and make sure I know what I need to to when. Frosty and some of my work colleagues laugh at me, preferring to use online diaries, but there's something comforting about writing down my To Do list on paper, feeling those things that are spinning around in my head streaming through my arm and spilling out through my hand, into my pen and then onto the page. Something special about noting down important dates - project deadlines, meetings, work functions, travel, parties, visits, family functions.

One of the best things about these diaries is that, at the bottom of every page they have a quote. I don't read each day's quote on the day it's written on. But when I'm bored in long meetings I have a bit of time, I like to go through the quotes and find ones that are relevant and useful. 

Recently, I have been trying to think up a good weekly feature that I can use for my blog. One that will encourage me to write and post a bit more regularly and I thought that sharing a quote and some thoughts around it, even just a few lines, would be a really good way of helping to keep my posting regular but at the same time giving it variety. 

And so, here's the first quote of the week:


Quote on sunset image kind words are
Picture: Sunset from Table Mountain taken by yours truly
As a first quote, I thought that this was a goodie. I think that this concept can be applied to pretty much every aspect of life. From work to home, friends to strangers - giving people kind words is probably one of the easiest and most effective ways of making your life and other's lives easier. 

Chatting with a colleague a little while ago, we were noting how unflappable one of our clients was and admiring how he managed to deal with anything that was thrown at him with calm and graciousness. My colleague had recently spent a bit of time with this client and he shared with me that this particular client had noticed some other guy getting frustrated and made an off-hand comment that he had made a decision a long time ago to not get frustrated. Let me repeat that - he made a decision to not get frustrated. I think it's easier said than done and for some this is an easier thing to achieve than others. But even if you are able to acknowledge that you are feeling frustrated and make a conscious effort to keep your demeanour calm and pleasant, you've won half the battle.

From personal experience and observation, getting frustrated and dishing out unkind words in the heat of the moment when people bring you their issues or ask you silly questions leaves those people less likely to comfortably approach you with their problems or questions in the future. By contrast if you listen to what another person has to say and, even if you disagree with them or think they're being silly, let them finish, you can always ask for some time to process and think their comment over and get back to them later with a response.

This is something that I see the importance of more and more in my life and even though I don't always get it right, I hope that I can work on getting this right more often than I get it wrong. I would rather be seen as kind and approachable than seen as frustrated and unapproachable. Plus, if you are generally kind and unflappable, then when you do get frustrated or angry, people will take you way more seriously than they take the person who blows their top at every teeny-tiny issue.


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Monday, 6 July 2015

Birthday Post

Hello again. It's been a while since I last posted here, so I thought I would give a quick round up of what's been happening in the last little while.

It was my birthday 2 weekends ago and I was lucky enough to have my parents and grandparents in Cape Town to celebrate with me. We stayed at Yellow Wood Cottage in Kleinmond and I'm sure we'll be back - there is tons of room and it's within walking distance of the sea, which is great! I managed to convince a few friends to come out to the cottage for a braai on the Saturday afternoon - it was so lovely to introduce newer friends to my family and have them re-connect with my older friends.

Birthday Lunch with the Family - thanks Dad for this pic!
On the Sunday we went for a stroll around the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, in Betty's Bay and then headed off to Hermanus for a delicious lunch before heading back for a relaxed afternoon. After a simple dinner, Frosty and I said cheers and headed back to CT and the rest of the family got an early morning delayed-by-a-few-hours flight back to KZN later in the afternoon. The joys of delayed flights!

This last weekend, I used two of my birthday gifts. One of them a Table Mountain Cable Card, to take the Cable Car to the top of Table Mountain and then, once on top and away from the millions of people who had the same idea as us on a sunny winters day, I was able to use my Roberts App to play calls of the Orange Breasted Sunbird to get them to come close, which allowed me to get some awesome pics!

pink flowers on top of a mountain
Pretty pink flowers on top of Table Mountain
Rock Kestral eating something
We found a Rock Kestral too! He (she?) was in the middle of their meal.
Rock Kestral in the rocks
Nestled safely in the rocks
Orange Breasted Sunbird on top of Table Mountain
Silhouette of a sunbird 
Male and female orange breasted sunbirds in the fynbos
Male and female sunbirds perched on some dry fynbos
Male orange breasted sunbird
Checking out the competition
Male orange breasted sunbird on it's perch
Yay for cool apps that bring birds close to you!
Quizzical orange breasted sunbird
A quizzical look from this guy when he couldn't
see who was making such a noise.
Orange breasted sunbird
Don't you just love the colours on this chap?
Orange breasted sunbird
A rather uncomfortable looking pose!
Orange breasted sunbird
These guys are everywhere on top of Table Mountain. 
If you keep your eyes peeled you'll see them!
Orange breasted sunbird in flight
I was stoked to get this one of him just leaving his perch!
View from the top of Table Mountain
View into Hout Bay - pity it was a hazy day, but still a pretty view.



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