Be wary of trading schools and trading strategies

I’ve been occasionally reading some articles written by Nick McDonald in the NZ Herald. These articles are on the subject of trading financial markets for profit.

As with many so-called traders, Mr McDonald runs a company that teaches people how to trade. This seems to be the same old scams that have been running for years. Learn how to pick the best horses. Learn how to pick the winning lottery numbers. Learn how to trade the markets.  Continue reading Be wary of trading schools and trading strategies

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Current status: Exhaustion

After a number of months of being rather inactive, I just started exercising again. It has been hard to get the body moving after so long.

I left my running shoes in London about 8 months ago because they didn’t fit in my bag for the trip back home. I only just got around to buying new shoes a couple of weeks ago and have been pounding the local pavement near the house.  Continue reading Current status: Exhaustion

Northern Explorer AKL-WLG

Growing up in the seventies and eighties, there was a certain amount of romance to travel by train. In a bygone era, steam trains took people across the nation and across the globe. Well, small parts of it at least. More recently, the rise of the motor car and cheap air travel has significantly reduced the appeal of rail travel.

In New Zealand, the rail network is pretty limited and has declined during my life. Now, the train that used to travel twice daily between Auckland and Wellington is now only thrice weekly. And even that infrequently still is in danger of cancellation.  Continue reading Northern Explorer AKL-WLG

Photo book arrived

My photo book from Blurb arrived a couple of days ago. I had been pretty excited after ordering it and couldn’t really wait for it to turn up so it was good to finally have the package in my hands.

I had bought the large book (13ʺ x 11ʺ) and it turned out to be larger than I expected. It’s a little hard to picture it before ordering and seeing it in my hands, it was almost too big. Continue reading Photo book arrived

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: http://www.blurb.com/b/4163958-guatemala. Yes this is shameless self-promotion.

Stasis

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: http://www.blurb.com/b/4163958-guatemala.

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!

I'm an iPhone and SQL developer living in Wellington, New Zealand. I irregularly post here.