Author Archive | Ian Robinson

Resisting the San Francisco siren call…

Summer is in full swing (in the northern hemisphere), and that means that it’s almost time for the VMworld US conference. I’m hearing the San Franciso siren call. Must resist this year! I love San Francisco and have been to a lot of events there. Several Apple Developer Conferences, a few MacWorld conferences, and VMworld. I was there so often from 2006 to 2012 that the staff in the Courtyard Marriott on 2nd Street recognised me and knew my favourite drink in the bar!

San Francisco skyline from the end of the peer at Aquatic Cove
Cupid's Span sculpture on The Embarcadero
The Golden Gate Bridge

VMworld is the technical, networking, and socialising highlight of the year for everyone interested in all forms of virtualisation, hybrid-cloud, multi-cloud, modern application deployment, intelligent storage, and more. With over 20,000 IT professionals in attendance, along with all the important IT vendors, a week at VMworld delivers a fire hose of industry innovation and best practice that it’s hard to get in such a pure form anywhere else.

Pyramid Building in Financial District
Gateway to Chinatown
Coit Tower

The 2019 event returns to the Moscone Convention Centre in San Francisco and will occupy Moscone North, South, and West in the SOMA district of the city. So, in addition to the full-on technical and business information available, there is ample opportunity for extracurricular activities. From craft beers in the Thirsty Bear near Moscone South, strolls along The Embarcadero from the Oakland-Bay Bridge. Past Pier 39 to Fisherman’s Wharf, then on to Fort Mason and the Golden Gate Bridge. With many more city delights like dinner in Chinatown, a week at VMworld in San Francisco is not to be missed. I’ll maybe go to another one in the future…

VMware has a Convince Your Boss page if you are looking to justify attending. Some advice: plan to wear layers, bring a hat, and wear comfortable shoes!

Review: The Science of Fate by Hannah Critchlow

The Science Of Fate book Cover

The Science of Fate book cover

I’m always wary of books that address the concept of free will. Many people assert that we don’t have free will due to the deterministic nature of the physical universe, or due to evidence from experiments that shows our subconscious brain makes ‘decisions’ before our conscious mind performs an action. Such as flicking a light switch. It’s still our brains making a choice though. Our subconscious is part of us. The deterministic universe arguments against free will just annoy me. There is plenty of space in the layers of reality above the quantum realm for emergent behaviour that includes our ability to act as agents that can choose. We have free will in that sense. So I went into the audiobook edition of Hannah’s book with some trepidation. Would it be another book advocating that we don’t have free will? Thankfully my fears were unfounded. This is a book about how our biology shapes our behaviour via biochemistry, neurobiology, and psychology. It’s an excellent survey of how behaviours have been shaped and honed by natural selection and evolution. It’s undoubtedly a fact that there are many behaviours that humans (and other animals) exhibit that are predetermined by our biology and environment. The level of this predeterminism varies depending on what is being discussed. Most humans (without medical or psychological problems) can override the higher level impulses that our biology shapes. My take after reading this book is that humanity in the round does have free will with respect to the higher level activities such as “will I eat this apple or throw it over the fence into my neighbours garden.” Our free will emerges with the complexity in the underlying biology, which in turn arises from chemistry and physics. On a technical note: the audiobook is excellently read by the author who is experienced in audio delivery from many science podcasts and other media activities. I highly recommend this book. In whatever format you like the best.

Favourite Tracks from 2018

Here are my 10 favourite new 2018 released tracks that I discovered. There is an Apple Music Playlist to listen to them here.

“Lonely


Ariana and the Rose – Lonely Star.

52 Hz track artwork


Chrysta Bell – 52 Hz.
 

“Always


Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending.


Yonaka – Waves.
 


Yonaka – Fired Up.
 


Yonaka – Death By Love.
 


Manic St. Preachers & The Anchoress – Dylan & Caitlin.


Mackenzie Davis & Carrie Coon – Axemen.


KT Tunstall – Human Being.
 


Ina Wroldsen – Sea.
 

2018 Walking Stats

Final 2018 walking stats (as recorded by Apple Watch)

Steps taken: 1,881,343.
Miles walked: 1,013.54.

Charts and monthly data table below. I think my target was 1,200 miles. So I missed it by about 15 miles per month. I will aim for 1,200 miles in 2019 again.

Chart showing steps per month in 2018

Chart showing miles walked per month in 2018

Table showing the raw steps and miles walked data per month in 2018

Favourite Podcasts from 2018

There are lots of good podcasts available. So many good ones it’s like a renaissance in radio, but for the digital age. Roger Taylor was quite prescient with his lyrics in Radio Gaga by Queen:

So stick around cos we might miss you
When we grow tired of all this visual

Quite. Although to be fair there is an explosion in video content as well with Netflix and others.

Here are the podcasts that I enjoyed the most in 2018:

Favourite Books from 2018

I only read 27 books in 2018 (got through 52 in 2017.) I’ll set a goal of 26 for 2019 and aim to read a book a fortnight. From the 27 I finished here are my favourites. I read all four of the books in the Fractured Europe Sequence but I’ve just listed the two most recent ones in the list below.

Favourite Films from 2018

One film per week is still one of the best decisions I have made in the last few years. Since starting it in February 2015 I have seen 207 newly released films. This year I only hit 48 in total due to a five-week gap in April & May due to a loud rasping cough that wasn’t cinema friendly. A few of the films I would have seen then I watched at home later in the year when they appeared on iTunes UK. With those and a few others that never made it to the local cinema, the total number of new films I saw in 2018 was 56.

From the 48 I saw in the cinema here are my top 10. They are listed in the order I saw them during the year.

Coco film poster


Coco

Lady Bird film poster


Lady Bird

2017 Freelance Writing Statistics

I didn’t write as much this year as I did in 2016.

I only wrote 21 new articles in 2017. Compared to 50 in 2016. I edited or rewrote ten pieces in 2017. Compared to 16 in 2016. As a result, my income from writing was 14.9% before tax. It was 18.8% of my pre-tax income in 2016.

The plan is to get back to 2016 levels of output in the forthcoming year. There is a lot to do I hear. Happy days.

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