Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Time

Currently I am officially not working. I have a few IT support jobs going on quietly in the background, but they're all sidelines. This means that I am no longer a cycle commuter, which is a pity as my commute used to be 5 miles each way and took in some serious hills in a city known to be hilly.
 A few weeks ago we went to Turkey for a two-week holiday and I have really struggled since to pick up the pace.

In theory I should have more time for cycling, but the reality is I haven't. The kids are on their summer holidays and take up a fair bit of time. An example: my eldest two kids wanted to be able to watch some of their DVD's on their phones. They each have a cheapy touch-screen handset, with my son's phone (being slightly newer) having a larger screen.

I can rip the DVD's OK (for the uninformed, this means converting it from a DVD disk to a video file) and I can change the encoding OK. I've found that bog-standard QVGA resolution works fine on my son's phone, but even QCIF MP4's won't play on my daughter's phone. It can take 1/2 an hour just to convert the video file, and another 10 minutes to copy to the phone, only to find it doesn't work. I've spent many hours on this now!

Just before the anti-piracy brigade try to crucify me, these aren't illegal downloads, but instead "legitimate backup copies not for concurrent use" of DVD's my kids own! Also, try to watch a film that has been reduced to QCIF resolution on a normal TV and you'll quickly see how bad the picture is. It was intended exclusively for tiny screens.

I'm also re-building the home network and introducing a home server for the first time. We're an IT-literate family with all three kids having had their own computers for some time. A home server makes it easy for all of us to share pics taken with our phones, plus also various other files, while offering a single location we can all backup to. Of course the server software brings with it many other benefits, including shared games and an online family calendar (which can be sync'ed with our phones!). Just in case you're interested, no I'm not using Microsoft's Home Server software for this. Instead I use Amahi.

And all this takes time, leaving me with very little time for cycling.

On the brighter side, in just three weeks the kids go back to school! While it has been very nice to have them home and to be able to spend as much time with them, a sense of normality and routine will return once they're back at school.