Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Its the little things in life...

Since the last post back in May much has changed! I have moved house and am now living back in England, and for the first time in my life I have a house that is partners and mine. No flatmates, no family, no random tenants, just us. (Not that all flatmates and family have been bad to live with mind you, but I think I am now at a time in my life where the freedom and privacy of my own home is needed.) It's also a surprising home as we are now living in a much cheaper area of the country we have a whole 2up 2down house to ourselves. Which means also for the first time a study that is separate to the bedroom and a craft room that is separate to the living room! :) We have a teeny tiny kitchen to make up for it though. :P But I love my new house and can't get enough of the organised space and the 'just the right size' garden right now. :)

It does also mean that for the first time I have been able to properly display my Dreamstone collection:
Mostly Dreamstone, it seemed only fitting that NiGHTS went there too. :)
Now those that know me know that The Dreamstone has been an important influence in my life for many years, and most of the collection has been built up thanks to the like of eBay, second hand shops and presents from family and friends. The show is a cartoon from the 90's but something about it stuck with me, and even to this day I cannot quite fathom why it did, but I enjoy being a geek about it. (Although I think I maybe the only one left who is this much of a geek about it. Which reminds me I really need to add most of this stuff to the Wiki soon!) :)

Also this month it is the birthday of someone close to me, I have known her for over twenty years and we grew up together. Our lives have led us to live in different cities for most of our friendship, and there are times when we don't seem to catch up for months, once even a couple of years, however each time we meet it is like no time has passed. :) However this birthday, like many for the past several years, I am still a student (I start my post-grad in Sep) so I don't have the funds to get the gifts I would really like to give. But as recent events in her life have led to busy and hectic times I wanted to do something to show I cared. So what better than to make something?

The start, picking out beads and working out the pattern.
The finished necklace.
It's not much and I hope she likes it, we used to make things like this for each other all the time when we were younger. In fact I still have and still wear a necklace similar to this one (but in blue) that she made me so many years ago I don't remember not having it. :)

As small as this is for an important birthday I do think it's the little things that count. Simple signs of affection for a friend, the ability to display something that you love and the ability to have a fresh start in a new city. A fresh start that certainly provides an interesting perspective on things. As it's the little things that add up to big things, good and bad, and after moving yet again I realised how much I have been carrying around with me. (Both physical and metaphysical!) So little by little I have let some things go, and it has been liberating, and little by little I try to concentrate more on what matters to me, and not get distracted by the little things of little consequence anymore.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Customising Storage - Jewellery Box

The one thing I do like doing is finding solutions to storage so things have their place and can be easily accessed when needed. This is obviously a lot easier to do when you can afford shopping trips to places like IKEA and the like. As I can't, and never really have been able to, afford that I have instead enjoyed finding ways to 'hack' existing items to better suit my needs.

This weekend one such 'hack' was my jewellery box, I have already modified it once with some foam sheets and PVA glue to make the inside more padded. As I tend to wear lots of stone jewelry such as Hematite and Cats Eye (mainly as my nickel allergy prevents me from wearing a lot of stuff and I find the shapes and textures of the stones interesting). :) Anyway the box I have is just a plain wooden one that got given to me years ago, and although it sort of works the necklaces and bracelets tend to get tangled as it doesn't have compartments or places to hang things.

So I thought I would fix that...
The right tools: screws, shorting than the thickness of the wood, pencil, pen knife, small screw driver and modelling screwdriver. 
First off the collection of tools! As the box is made of hardwood it's going to take a little more to screw into it than just the screwdriver. (I found this out when I tried a quick fix a while and and tried to stick some corkboard tacks into it.)

Planning the positions...
With the pencil I first marked the rough outline of the sides of the box so as to make sure that the 'pegs' I was creating wouldn't interfere with it closing. Also as a means to ensure that the the 'pegs' were going to be in a straight line.

One down...
After testing with the the first screw I found a good method for doing the rest well. First score the mark where the screw needs to go using the pen knife, and then use the small drill to drill the hole, making sure that the drill doesn't go all the way through. Then attempt to get the screw in as straight as possible.

Spacing...
For the horizontal spacing I used a nail from my tool kit, which also came in handy for removing the sawdust from the drilled hole as well. The most nerve racking bit of this was making sure each time to not drill all the way through.

Sugru to the rescue...
 After adding in all the screws I realised that they did not quite stick out far enough, and they also looked a little garish. This was when I remembered that I had some Sugru left that really needed using up, this would also help elongate the 'pegs' I was making and create a better surface for the jewelry to hang from.

One packet of Sugru later...
One packet created some nice sized 'pegs' and helped cover up the screws. Now all it needs is to be left to dry overnight.
Bracelets all hanging up...
Necklaces all in the box...
The next day I was able to hang most of my bracelets to the new 'pegs'! Although I think that I may use another pack of Sugru to add to the length of each 'peg' and add one or two more near the bottom of the lid to hang my rings from.

Overall this was a fix that was rather organic in it's making rather than a fully planned out endeavour from the start and I am quite happy about how it turned out.

Friday, 24 May 2013

The usefulness and invasiveness of technology...

I discovered a scary and useful feature from +Google yesterday while in London. I was having dinner before heading to the fantastic Zelda Symphony concert. Now I had the concert marked on my Google Calendar, and had just used Google Maps to find the restaurant I was in. 

About an hour before the concert doors were due to open I get a notification on  my phone saying that I would need to leave at 5:42 to get to my destination (the concert) at 6:30. (Obviously this meant I had attached the convert venue to the Calendar post.)

Now I haven't to my knowledge told it to remind me at a certain time to tell me to leave for events, but we left roughly at the time it suggested and then arrived roughly at the time it predicted. (I wish Google had better integration with the public transport links in this country, as I still switched out between the TFL site and Underground Map App to double check where we were going and trying to use it in Wales just doesn't work at all.)

Now my first thought was: if it does and could connect to the local transport links and predict travel time, provide alerts etc then that would be cool, and very Tony Stark and Star Trek like. However the second thought today was the realisation that it knew where I was from the GPS, where I wanted to go, and what I was interested in due to the type of concert. Now I don't use things like FourSquare and such (although it would have been nice to 'Check In' at the concert last night) so it's all a bit new to me. And to be honest I haven't done as much investigating and usage into this type of tech yet.

Part of me is happy as it makes life easier, as long as you do the work of entering all the data in the first place... but part of me is also a little uneasy about the potential privacy risks. It's not that I particularly care about what others see I am doing and where, but I am worried about it being used badly by people with ill intent. (Part of the upbringing I had that included talks by my school and parents to avoid strangers and later on to never use real names online). But I can see how all this tracking can also be useful as a means to help if things go wrong. I instantly think of the check in's and tracking of people that is available to help alleviate worry for relatives an such when large scale events like floods and tornadoes hit.

All in all it's exciting to have this digital assistant sidekick (I keep thinking K-9), but at the same time it's leaving a large breadcrumb trail that I am not entirely sure that I am happy with. (Although that might stem from spending so much of my early years trying to hide my interests from the school bullies or my location from my parents as I snuck off with friends. Which to be honest wasn't even that rebellious if you count board gaming nights around a male friends house when I was supposed to be having a sci-fi watching nights around a female friends house!)

Anyway I don't use all the tech out there to make a fully formed opinion on it all (I'm still using a paper diary to help organise my University life in conjunction with alerts from the digital one), and to be honest even the public displays are curious for me as it feels a little narcissistic in some regards. I would use this type of tech more as a means to help remember doing certain things or to organise my life, and as for broadcasting a check-in it's handy for meeting up with like minded people or making new friends. I already discovered that via hashtags and Twitter and a event I want to last year. But as a recent TED talk reminded me it is like a permanent digital tattoo, all this data, and as much as I don't have an issue to putting thoughts like this down on a blog I'm glad that I grew up in an age where the internet was very young and social media didn't exist. Unlike todays teens where everything they do will always be there if you look hard enough and no-one can escape embarrassment or the foolishness of youth.