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Waiting for an artefact

I’ve just had an email come through to say that my photo book about Guatemala that I wrote about here is shipping. I’m surprisingly excited to be receiving this. Something tangible.

I’m aware it’s not the same as having a real book publish and in ten years real books won’t even probably exist in the same way that they do now. But I’m still excited. It’s an artefact from my existence. 

It will be an experience to actually touch something that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for me. And also the power of the internet. 

You can have a look at it here: Yes this is shameless self-promotion.



I’m currently standing outside the house after having locked myself out. We’ve all done it. It’s so easy to walk out without your keys, close the door and realise what’s missing.

In the past, it hasn’t been much of a problem. I’m usually either walking to work or on public transport. At the moment I’m driving to work so I can’t even leave the house. I’m standing on the steps waiting to be let back into the house.

Can’t go back. Can’t go forwards.

A bit of a metaphor for life at times.

Photo Book with Blurb

I finally got a photo book created through Blurb. It has been a good experience, with a few ups and downs along the way.

I started using the tools provided by Apple’s Aperture product. It’s a good product that I use to store all my photos. The options for photo books are much less limited than in iPhoto but still a little constrained. It’s fine if you want to use the built-in themes but much less flexible if you want to move beyond that.

I finished the book after spending quite a lot of time arranging things and putting in finishing touches. I had something that was almost ready quite a few times but always found something else to change.

Once it was finished, I priced it up using Aperture. One hundred and seventy two dollars. And twenty six cents I needed to spell that out in words since the number was so big! NZ$172.26. Plus shipping, I expect.

That was a little too pricey. Way too pricey, even.

I’d looked at a few other options over the past few months. There are lots of companies that do this sort of thing. However, most of them that I found only let you design a book using a web application. I didn’t really like the thought of that. All a bit too fiddly.

Blurb was a bit different. They offered a native application on the Mac and PDF upload. I started using the BookSmart app bit I found it a little limiting for a photo book. Seemed pretty good for a proper book but not so good for a photo book.

So, I went back to using Aperture. There was a template that I downloaded for Aperture and I started with that. It wasn’t quite as easy as it had been with the Apple template but it was a good start. I got a 62 page book created in a few hours, using the design that I had previously used as a starting point.

Uploading the book to Blurb was a bit of a slow process. ADSL might be ok for downloading from the internet but it’s not so good for uploading. It took a few minutes to upload the cover (12MB) but over an hour to upload the contents of the book (260MB). Once uploaded everything was pretty smooth. I order a couple of copies and also put the book on sale. With a discount code that I found on the internet, I got the 2 books for US$128, including postage, which is about NZ$153. Not cheap but nowhere near as expensive as with Apple.

I’m still waiting for the books to turn up. Should be at the end of next week. That’s about two weeks from ordering. Not that quick but not that slow either. I’m expecting it might be a little quicker than that. Hopefully I’m not disappointed.

Maybe next time I would create a smaller book to keep the cost down a little. The hardcover 13″x11″ book is probably going to be pretty large when it turns up!

If you want to see what I’ve designed, have a look here:

I think it’s pretty good. You should even buy a copy! Yes, you!

Guatemala is a very beautiful country and I’m trying to share the experience with as many people as I can. I’m guessing the price tag will put almost everyone off though—hence my desire to create a smaller book and keep the price down.

The full preview is available on the site. Enjoy.

Creating photo books

Market in Chichicastenango
Market in Chichicastenango

About a year ago I went on a two month trip to Guatemala. I took a lot of photos at the time and also had a great time learning Spanish and exploring the beautiful countryside.

I’ve now started compiling the photos into a photo book using Apple’s Aperture application on my computer. I guess it’s a way to create a tangible reminder of my time away and also gives me something to share with other people so they can experience it too. Think of it like a slide evening (although maybe there aren’t that many people out there old enough to remember that now) except more like a book.

I’ve spent way too long working on this and I’m still not finished. However, it has given me an understanding of what it takes to be a designer and how much work is involved there. I’m not even really dealing with the layout since Aperture mostly has that covered but I do have to choose photos, place them on the page, create some text to describe what is going on and also tweak some of the photos. There’s a lot of work to do if I want to create something I’ll be happy with!

Hopefully I’ll get that finished in the next week or so and will have learnt something to help me create something quicker next time. If nothing else, it has been good going through my old photos and reliving old memories.

A couple of outings

I had a couple of outings last week.

Wednesday was a trip to Staglands, about 45 minutes from Wellington. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, with a collection of farm animals and bird in a nice setting. Doesn’t really sound like much when I describe it like that but it is a pleasant experience and there’s a lot to see.

Then on Friday it was a trip to Wellington Zoo with my girlfriend and her nephew. The zoo seems to have changed a lot since I was young. Most of the old concrete enclosures are gone and have been replaced by more spacious areas.

I’ve been taking a lot of photos lately. Mostly because it’s summer and the weather is nice out but I’m trying to improve my photography skills. It’s a lot of trial and error at the moment. And if I can master this camera, it will help me avoid spending a fortune on a new fancy camera!

No life in Civic Square, Wellington

As with many people, I take quite an interest in my local environment including the natural and man-made architecture that surrounds me. I like to live in a city that has a nice feel to it.

I’m not an architect or a designer. Maybe I don’t even have good taste. But sometimes it’s better to put an opinion out there to see if anyone shares it and hopefully improve things.

I’ve recently moved back to Wellington, New Zealand, and it’s a very nice place to live. It’s a vibrant city sitting on the edge of a beautiful natural harbour, surrounded by hills.

The point of this article isn’t really to gush about how nice Wellington is but to complain about where it is lacking. Continue reading No life in Civic Square, Wellington

Long time…..

Well, I don’t really have any excuse. It has been six months since I last wrote a blog post here. I guess that’s what happens with many blogs. Write a few posts initially, get excited, then nothing…

It has been a bit of a difficult year for me and it still isn’t getting any better. I’m not going to go into much detail here because it’s not really the place. 

The short story is that I’m now no longer living in London or even in the UK and I still don’t have a job. I quit my job almost twelve months ago and have probably worked three months of this year is total.

It is all rather frustrating and it’s hard work to keep going day-by-day. I’ve written this post just to help me feel a bit more productive at the moment. Some days it’s hard to get out of bed and producing something like this blog post helps to reduce that feeling somewhat.


I’ve been out of work for a while. This is the middle of a recession but still, I think I’m pretty good at what I do so this shouldn’t be much of a problem.

I got turned down for another job today. I guess this sort of thing happens and this rejection wasn’t any more difficult than the prior ones. But it’s all just starting to wear me down.

I’m definitely regretting quitting my job a few months ago. I know getting a new job would be hard but now it’s just annoying. I’m wasting my time at home sitting on job web sites when I could be improving database systems and solving problems. Instead I sit on my arse at home.

It does make me think that there really is a problem with employment. I guess a hundred or two hundred years ago you would talk to someone you know mac they would sort you out a job. Now, I’m living in a city of about twelve million people. I’ve got great skills but the people in this city who should know about me just don’t.

What I deal with are recruitment consultants. They haven’t written a line of code in their life and can’t tell the difference between decent coders and charlatans. I’m not a charity and don’t expect to be given a job that I don’t deserve but to be ignored by recruiters who don’t even really know how to find what they are looking for.

Maybe that is a bit of an unreasonable rant but it seems appropriate right now.

Comments would be appreciated. Especially from recruiters trying to prove that they aren’t entirely clueless.

Jubilee weekend

The most recent weekend in London had the celebrations for the Queen’s 60th Jubilee. 60 years is a long time to be doing any job.

Over the course of the weekend there were several major events. I tried to go along to the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. So did several million other people! This event consisted of about a thousand boats travelling down the Thames between Battersea Park and the Tower of London.

After heading down to the Thames embankment a couple of hours before the event was supposed to start, there were already thousands and thousands of people there waiting. I couldn’t really get a riverfront view because the crowd was already at least ten deep in most places.

I got myself in front of a large television screen which helped. I got to watch everything that was going on as the boats went down the route and approached my position. Unfortunately when the boats arrived I still relied on the TV as I couldn’t see the river at all.

All in all, it was probably a bit of a waste of time heading down there but I enjoyed the atmosphere. I don’t think I was willing to get there at 9am or earlier just to get a prime spot so I probably got the view i deserved.

Summer in London

After several awful weeks of weather and even getting the heating back on, the weather in London has finally improved. It’s like it is the height of summer – in May.

The weather in London is often changeable but the past few weeks have been awful. I opened up the weather app on my phone and it told me to expect rain for the next 10 days at some point. And that was as far in the future as the app’s display went.

I’m hoping that the sun is here to stay. I am struggling with the heat a little, especially in the tube yesterday afternoon but it is nice to leave the house with only short sleeves on and not have to worry too much.