About Now

What I’m up to right now…

Photography

Since last October I’ve not really used any cameras other than my Panasonic Lumix FZ38 and phone camera.

In some ways this Lumix seems to be the endgame for me.

There’s nothing it doesn’t do at least competently, and offers an excellent balance between the point and shoot simplicity and size of a digital compact, with a bit more capability lens wise, and the satisfying handling of its baby DSLR ergonomics.

That said, I have been shooting far less than at my peak, probably less than 100 shots a month, compared with easily 1000+ in the past.

I’ve just replaced with three year old Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact with a Realme 6 Pro. The Sony was very capable, camera wise, and I like it, it’s just freezing multiple times a day, and the battery’s not what it was.

The Realme has a camera with a dazzling, perhaps overwhelming spec sheet, including four lenses on the rear and two on the front, but I’ve managed to ignore most of the hype and just find the best ways to use it for my needs.

It also has a significantly bigger screen which is useful for reading, as my eyes are not as sharp as they were!

Reading

Online, I’ve been using Feedly since last June, instead of GMail and WordPress Reader as my main source of content to read.

This works well enough, though I have stopped following a couple of sites that were often interesting, but so prolific they just tended to drown everything else out, and I’d overlook new posts from bloggers that post far less often, but where every post is a gem.

I’ve also been using Pocket to diversify my reading a little, which generally has more scientific posts than I read otherwise.

Offline, I continue my run of Star Wars books – mostly Timothy Zahn, who uses some of the key original characters then adds in new ones, often equally as memorable, like Mara Jade, Talon Kardde and Grand Admiral Thrawn.

I’ve developed a good bedtime reading routine, something I’ve tried to do for some years but not made work until recently.

I’ve always been an avid reader online, but now I’m reading books more than in perhaps 15 or even 20 years.

Music

Still enjoying Spotify as my sole source of music.

Working at home typically two days a week gives me plenty of time to enjoy old favourites, and discover new ones, mostly using Spotify’s rather intelligent “radio” feature. Play any track, or go to any artist’s page, then you can choose Go to Song Radio or Go to Artist Radio respectively and Spotify compiles a playlist of similar tracks.

I’ve discovered probably half of the music I currently listen to on a regular basis this way, including 36, and Alaskan Tapes, both of whom get played in some form almost daily.

Health and Fitness

My daily yoga and exercise routine is as strong as ever and has existed in some form for over a decade now.

Home working during the pandemic has meant my other exercise (walking and cycling) has been less regular.

So for example on a day at home, I don’t have the cycle to work both ways, or as long a lunch time walk.

Other days when I cycle to work and doing the school run (on foot), I’ll exercise far more.

Then other days still when I’m not working at all, we virtually always go on a walk as a family for 90-120 mins, enough to complete a good chunk of 10k steps in one go.

On that note, my son (8) recently wanted to get a new tracker (he’s had a cheap no-name Chinese branded one for a couple of years), so we researched it and bought a neat Garmin Spiderman one.

He loves it.

He’s very active anyway (his daily steps record on his old tracker was 32k and he often exceeds 20k a day), this tracker is just a bit more fun.

This encouraged me to look at trackers again. From January 2018 to mid-2019 I used a Misfit Ray to track my steps, and averaged over 10k a day.

After a bit more research I realised that a Star Wars one probably wasn’t the best choice, and bought an Honor Band 5, and have been exploring some of the extra features like sleep tracking, 24/7 heart monitor, and blood oxygen saturation levels.

I don’t feel I need to make any radical changes, I’m more keen to just see what my averages for these are over the next few weeks, whilst avoiding the kind of obsessive number chasing that I slipped into with the previous tracker.

It’s early days, but these Honor (owned by Huawei) trackers seem incredible value (much like the Realme phone), mine was only £35 online, significantly less than my son’s Spiderman one!

Home/Work

As lockdown has eased slightly here, our office of 17 desks is now back to having seven occupied on any one day.

With my small team of four, this means two of the four of us in on any day, and the other two working from home, which works very well.

Despite our Local Authority’s fierce resistance to remote working pre-Covid, this looks like a long term plan now, as the evidence that it works is irrefutable.

So in recent months I’ve invested in a larger (27″) monitor (which I highly recommend to anyone wanting to make their (and other people’s) photos look better than ever) and a new little sound system – an Audio Pro Addon C5 – which I’m delighted with and has served to rejuvenate and deepen my music listening experiences.

The 50/50 balance of office and home works very well for me, and I hope I can make it a permanent fixture.

Anyway, enough about me, what are you up to right now?

Please let us know here.

Updated 14 April 2021

(The idea for this page came from the frequently inspiring Derek Sivers.)