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I cannot be bothered with faff.

This is one personality trait that has definitely changed as I’ve gotten older, or perhaps it’s just a reaction to the years I spent indulging my ‘gadget-geek’ and allowing myself to think that jumping through 5 hoops to get a simple task done was “OK”.

My mindset these days is very much that technology is there to serve me. If something starts getting in my road I’ll work around it, or replace it completely, ruthlessly.

I’m about to talk about a technology company which I know some people don’t like, but bear with me.

I have an iPhone, an iPad, Apple TV and an internet connected Samsung TV. The bulk of my content consumption happens through those devices. I have a desktop PC, running Windows 7, which is where all of my content creation occurs. More of my time is spent consuming content so I recently bought a NAS drive to allow me to remove the desktop PC (and it’s large hard drive) as a middleman.

I can now watch movies on my TV that I created (ripped from bought copies) on my desktop PC as they now live on my NAS drive. I can view photos the same way.

I can also browse and play music from my NAS drive using my iPhone, or iPad. Unfortunately I can’t hear it.

My plan was to use an Airport Express, connected wirelessly to the NAS box, with audio out to a dedicated set of speakers. I have an old (“g” standard) Airport Express and bought some new speakers (AudioEngine 2).

Alas, the plan is failing and whilst I’m still not sure why, it’s getting the Airport Express setup that is causing the problems. That might be down to the Airport Express itself, or the Windows box, or even the router (a Thomson box supplied by O2). I’ve tried every set of instructions I can find but still nothing.

What are my options now? I could buy a newer Airport Express in the hope that works easily, or I could buy Airplay enabled speakers and be done with that extra step.

Too much faff ya see. If it had just worked I wouldn’t even be moaning about it here.

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It’s not easy being green

Last year I flew to America (visiting Boston and Chicago) and this year I’ll be flying to London (twice) and to Singapore later in the year. I’m travelling much more than I used to so I guess it’s only natural that I’m pondering how to rebalance my carbon emissions.

This definitely played into my decision making when I recently changed cars and whilst it wasn’t my main focus, I was pleased to get a hybrid engined car (petrol/battery). It’s also a nice side-effect of getting fit and cycling to work now and then (not as often as I should mind you) that I don’t run my car as often either.

However, to properly rebalance things I need to do more. Recycling at home is one thing but given the air miles I’m clocking up I’ve been looking at other options.

On the face of it, it looks quite straightforward, carbon offsetting through something like carbon credits seems to be the right thing to do but, as ever, when you start to dig a little into the motivations behind some of these things and part of me does agree that all I’m really doing is ‘buying absolution’.

So what to do? Stop flying to far away places? Having not travelled much beyond Europe until recently (one trip to San Franscisco 11 years ago this feels a little bit harsh but no, I’m not suggesting I’m in ‘carbon credit’ already. Perhaps the bike thing is what to focus on first and foremost?

Anyone else got any ideas/suggestions/thoughts?

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Back from Tunisia

We did done a holiday!

We had a few simple criteria for our holiday. It needed to be under £500 each, it needed to be somewhere hot and sunny, and ideally it needed to be all inclusive.

After various online searches, we had it narrowed down to a week in Cyprus, or a week in Tunisia. helped keep the price to just under £400 pp and we ended up picking Tunisia as it was a bit different (and Kirsty has been to Cyprus before).

It’s safe to say we lucked out and had a fantastic holiday!

We stayed at a hotel that was built in the 1970s, built in the style of an old Medina, mostly two stories tall and sprawling over the area of a small town, it was Tunisian to the core. Driving past other hotels in the area (Yasminne Hammamet) and I have to admit it was nice to be in one of larger hotels (the more typical Costa del Sol style, 6-8 floors with boxy rooms).

The room upgrade helped too, of course.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Tunisian but I’d heard good things about the country and the people. I wasn’t proven wrong. The Tunisian people were friendly and, with a few words of faltering Arabic, always ready to help with a smile and a laugh.

The hotel itself was great, the staff efficient and an enthusiastic ‘animation’ team meant there were plenty of activiteis for us… to largely ignore (we did a bit of archery but our focus was to be lazy!), the food was great and well enough varied that you never got bored, and the sun did it’s bit and for the most part shone brightly, keeping things at toasty 28C or so (we think we topped 30C one of the days).

I ate camel steak, bartered in the souk (and no doubt still got ripped off), visited Carthage and Sidi Bou Said, had a wonderful Turkish Bath and massage, and did a whole lot of lazing around and chilling out.

In fact the only negatives were the security queues at the Enfidha airport, but such is life.

I’m back home now, feeling properly relaxed and upbeat, with a reasonable tan (we were only there for 7 days) and a desire to go back again. The resort itself is very similar to Andalucia, there is a Moorish influence to be found, and a similar climate. Learn a few basic Arabic phrases and don’t get put off by the sellers in the souk, it’s part of the fun to chat with them and avoid getting dragged into their stores ‘just for a look’.

I’d happily, highly, recommend it for a sunshine break. Yes, it was a package holiday, but with excellent customer service, it really did feel like we got a lot of value for our money.

Some of our memories of Tunisia.

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