Tag: recommended

iPhone apps I currently use.

Building on the success and interest generated by Mac OSX apps I currently use, here’s the apps currently installed on my iPhone (click to enlarge without notes):

Which iPhone apps do you use and wouldn’t like to be without? 😀

My favourite music of the ‘noughties’.

You can listen to all of the music I mention below through this Spotify playlist!

My Last.fm history, June-October 2009

So 2000-2009, commonly referred sniggeringly as the ‘noughties’, has come and gone – and with it the majority of my twenties. For all of it I listened to what I would deem quality music, and for a good deal of it used Last.fm to track what I listened to (and make recommendations). The visualization above shows my listening habits for part of 2009, courtesy of LastGraph.

It’s not always the case that what you listen to most is the music you actually love the most. In fact, quite often it’s the case that you save music for special occasions or ration it so familiarity doesn’t breed contempt. So here are the three tracks that were made in the ‘noughties’ that I love the most – and why. The links will enable you to listen to the song on Spotify. 🙂

John Mayer – 3×5 (2001)

I remember being in Café Rouge in York with Hannah when we heard this for the first time. It must have been 2003 as we were just married. We asked the waiter which album was playing and he replied it was John Mayer’s Room For Squares. I went home and immediately bought the CD. Annoyingly, however, it’s the only album of Mayer’s that isn’t available on Spotify (which I now use instead of CDs and MP3s).

What I love about 3×5 is the feeling of distance, the sense of the inexpressible in the lines:

Today I finally overcame
tryin’ to fit the world inside a picture frame
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I’m in the mood to
lose my way but let me say
You should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes
it brought me back to life
You’ll be with me next time I go outside
No more 3×5’s…

In perhaps my first use of the term, I’d call it a ‘bittersweet’ song. It’s positive yet mournful at the same time. I wish the live version did the studio version justice. It’s legendary – perhaps even more so in the context of the rest of the album. 🙂

The Cinematic Orchestra feat. Roots Manuva – All Things to All Men (2002)

When this came out I was working at HMV in Meadowhall, Sheffield. The Cinematic Orchestra produce that sound that’s all encompassing and envelops you. I absolutely adore, for example, the soundtrack to the film The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos they did recently. The first three-and-a-half minutes is Cinematic Orchestra at the top of the game. Then Roots Manuva’s rhyming kicks in.

His lyrics make little sense. That doesn’t matter. It’s more than the sum of it’s parts. Wonderful. :-p

Bon Iver – Woods (2009)

Like the rest of the known world, I found Bon Iver’s album For Emma, Forever Ago to be beautiful and with an engaging backstory. However, it was when I started using Spotify that I came across the excellent EP Blood Bank – containing the sublime Woods. It’s rare for a track to be perfectly matched in sound, concept, and execution, but that’s exactly what we find here.

Wondeful melodies combine and build up to a crescendo. Use of auto-tune actually adds to atmosphere of the song, being used to make elements sound almost like wolves howling. It’s an extremely atmospheric track. One to play with headphones on, alone. I love it. 😀

Honorable Mentions:

Conclusion

Although you wouldn’t know it from the above, my tastes are fairly eclectic. I’m as likely to listen to The Prodigy as I am to some Ludovico Einaudi. But the above are those I come back to time and again. I’ll no doubt have made some glaring omissions – if so I’ll come back and edit this.

Hope you enjoy the above songs as much as I do!

Mac OSX apps I currently use.

Michael Arrington (of TechCrunch fame) recently posted his fifth annual list of the tech products he loves and uses every day. Paul Stamatiou updates his Stuff I Use page regularly. People often ask me what apps I use, so here goes in the quickest and easiest way I know how – Flickr with notes*



(if it’s too small to read, you might want to click through!)

* Want to do this yourself? Try this script (which I used) or Mbedr. 🙂

Read what I’ve read: 2009 edition.

CC BY-SA gadl

For some reason I didn’t do this last year – post which books I’ve read for pleasure over the last 12 months, coupled with a short review. And my 2007 version seems to be sans images now. Oh well. I’ll do it properly this year! Note that these books aren’t those I’ve read for my Ed.D. thesis – you can see those over at my wiki (along with notes)

Here, in chronological order, are the books I’ve read this year (click on images to see them at Amazon UK). If you’re impatient, scroll to the bottom for my absolute must-have book, one that I’ll be re-reading for the rest of my life!

Eggers - You Shall Know Our Velocity

Dave Eggers – You Shall Know Our Velocity (2-15 January)

After reading nothing but positive reviews for all of Eggers’ work, I thought this was a fairly safe bet to start off my year. Despite finishing it, however, I was left thinking it was nothing more than average and ‘not my sort of book’. He had some interesting observations at times, but it certainly wasn’t re-readable, for me.

Murdoch - Sovereignty of Good

Iris Murdoch – The Sovereignty of Good (16-22 January)

This consists of three essays. I though the first two were thought-provoking, whilst the third not so much. Not really one for non-philosophically trained folk.

Gombrich - A Little History of the World

E.H. Gombrich – A Little History of the World (22 January  – 10 February)

Absolutely marvellous. One for children and adults alike and one that, as a (sometime) teacher of History, I wish had been available in an English translation when I was young. Utterly re-readable. 🙂

Csikszentmihaly - 'Flow: the psychology of optimal experience'

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – Flow: the psychology of optimal experience (11-26 February)

A life-changing book. Not only did change the direction of my Ed.D. thesis (I’m going to be investigating ‘digital flow’ now) but will illuminate my thinking and actions in everyday life. Instant classic!

Rand - 'Anthem'

Ayn Rand – Anthem (1 March)

This novella promised much. It had been referenced several times in things I’d read, so I thought I should read the original. It was disappointing. 🙁

Joseph Cummins – History’s Great Untold Stories: obscure events of lasting importance (2-26 March)

The tragedy of 2009 for me was when Borders, my favourite bookstore chain, went into administration. At the beginning of the year it offered this at half-price in one of its London stores (I was down for a meeting with Nick Dennis, who also availed himself of the opportunity). It was an eye-opening read: some stuff of which I’d never even heard which had a huge bearing on history. Essential.

Sun Tzu – The Art of War (27-28 March)

Again, a book that is referenced often but which disappointed. Didn’t find much in the way of inspiration or advice within it.

John Burrow – A History of Histories (29 March – 12 May)

Overly academic in places, but overall an interesting and informative read. Probably only for lovers of History.

Georgina Harding – The Solitude of Thomas Cave (13-22 May)

Easily the best of the works of fiction I read this year. The story of a man left behind in the cold. Really different, interesting (and relatively short!)

Clay Shirky – Here Comes Everybody (June sometime)

A great explanation of how social media has changed everything. Not only interesting in and of itself, but useful to give to people who don’t ‘get it’.

Joseph Cummins – Cast Away: Epic true stories of shipwreck, piracy and mutiny on the high seas (June – 14 July)

After enjoying the author’s History’s Great Untold Stories: obscure events of lasting importance I was delighted to find two more of his works (in a similar format) on offer. Perfect bedtime reading. 😀

Joseph Cummins – Great Rivals in History: when politics gets personal (15 July – 8 September)

I enjoyed this as the format is perfect for bedtime reading, but I’d recommend Cummins’ other two above this particular one. A useful background to stuff I already knew, nonetheless.

Seth Godin – Tribes (11 August)

Just like his blog posts. Eminently readable, empowering, and with a call to action for leaders (i.e. everyone!)

Brian Clegg – A Brief Guide of Infinity: the quest to think the unthinkable (20 August – 2 September)

Mind-expanding. I can’t say better than that!

Ann Patchett – Bel Canto (10-11 September)

This book won several prizes, and so I was looking forward to it. However, the author’s style began to grate and, after a while where nothing much happened, I gave up on it.

Edward Said – Beginnings: intention and method (12-29 September)

I got about half-way through this before I realised I didn’t really understand any of it and gave up. Far too heavy for (predominantly) bedtime reading. 🙁

Joseph Conrad – Nostromo (30 September – 3 October)

Really high hopes for this after enjoying Conrad’s Heart of Darkness last year. However, it was depressing and written in a slightly different style. Gave up.

C Leadbeater – We-Think: mass innovation, not mass production (3-15 October)

Poorly written and researched and, overall, didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. Avoid.

Michel Faber – The Fahrenheit Twins (16-26 October)

A wonderful find. It was in the absolutely-last-chance-don’t-miss-it-these-are-the-books-we-haven’t-been-able-to-sell-in-years section of a discount bookstore. I think it cost me about 49p. It was, however, really, really good! Stories from the margins of society and the last one (which gives the book it’s title) is downright bizarre. Recommended! :-p

Peter Watson – Ideas: a History from Fire to Freud (19 October – 29 December)

The author is a Professor of Archaeology and you can tell. The start is much better than the rest – which isn’t too bad itself – but he’s best when not having to rely on other people’s work. Fairly polemical towards the end.

Haruki Murakami – What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (8 November)

Truly inspirational. Murakami, in a humble way, talks about how he’s been wildly successful as well as the synergy between his life as a runner and his life as a writer. Superb.


It’s been mostly non-fiction for me in 2009 – I plan to remedy that in 2010. 🙂

There’s been one book that, despite not being very long, I’ve been reading since June. The reason? I don’t want it to end!  Schopenhauer described it as,”Absolutely unique . . . a book made for constant use—a companion for life,” whilst Nietzsche commented, “Europe has never produced anything finer or more complicated in matters of moral subtlety.” It really is a gem.

And the name of this book?

The Art of Worldly Wisdom, published in the 17th century by the Jesuit scholar Balthasar Gracián consists of 300 maxims. You can view the full text at Google Docs but I really would recommend purchasing your own inexpensive copy. It really is, as Schopenhauer says, ‘a companion for life’! 😀

#blogsilike

CC-BY-SA mrhayata

I’ve banged on long enough about my opposition to the Edublog Awards. So I’m turning a negative into a positive. Here’s how it goes:

  1. Consider the blogs you’ve come across in 2009 that you like.
  2. Write about why you like them on your blog.
  3. Tag your blog post blogsilike and publish it.
  4. Link to your blog post on Twitter using the hashtag #blogsilike

Here’s my contribution:

  • I really like Harold Jarche’s blog (http://www.jarche.com) and his work on the Sackville Commons. Inspirational stuff.
  • I’ve been impressed at the way Tom Barrett moved effortlessly into his new home at http://edte.ch and has set up a really engaging blog. He’s also adapted his blog writing style to be even more relevant and collaborative. 🙂
  • After reading Seth Godin’s book Tribes I subscribed to his blog (http://sethgodin.typepad.com) via email. He is full of good ideas, that man!
  • Some people who attend EdTechRoundUp regularly have begun to blog – people like Zoe Ross (http://www.zoeross.com), Nick Dennis (http://nickdennis.com/blog)and Kerry Turner (http://kerryjturner.com). Not have these three begun to blog to reflect on their own practice as educators, but are self-hosting their (WordPress-powered) blogs. Great stuff! If you want to do likewise, I highly recommend Bluehost to make it a simple, one-click process!

Why not help this become a meme and contribute your own? 😀

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