RHS Malvern: The Gift of Life

I took a lot of photos at last week’s Malvern show and we really liked the show gardens a lot, there were some incredible ideas there and a lot of design talent was evident. However my favourite was the garden called “The Gift of Life” which was sponsored by organdonation.nhs.uk, a subject very close to my heart, having gone through receiving a kidney transplant myself in 2008. I got talking to the people who were involved in it’s conception and they said that they had met a dozen transplant recipients over the course of the weekend. How funny is that?

It was after my transplant several years ago that I became interested in gardening, which at the time seemed strange, as I had never really been that interested. I have always liked gardens of course but having had to change many things about my lifestyle (quitting smoking for one), getting outdoors, doing some digging and just getting down to it has acted as the best gym anyone can ask for. I must get out there more and we have been planting some new things recently.

I think “The Gift of Life” was fantastic, I loved the little details such as the question etched into the corner of the pathway (see my photos), it asked the simple yet tricky question, “Can we?” – well maybe you should 😉

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Astounding bluebells

We had never seen a display of bluebells as beautiful as this, we were mesmerised by what we stumbled upon and all as a result of not really having a plan on where we were driving other than to explore the Malvern Hills.

We took a left just before reaching the car park for British Camp, an Iron Age fort (later Roman) in the Malverns. I could see that there were some wonderful landscapes down that way and we had some time to spare. It wasn’t long before we saw this spectacle, millions (probably no exaggeration) of bluebells, a carpet of violet-blue blotted across the hillside slope. We parked up in what looked roughly like a lay-by and I naturally reached for my camera.

We thought we had it to ourselves but not for long, as car after car turned up, people with their cameras were also feasting their lenses on nature’s carpet. What a sight? Never seen anything as impressive as this.

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Meet Lily your new personal flying robot camera

Source: Home page – Lily

You have got to check this out! I have recently become hooked on flying cameras aka “Drones” and here is a novel new one. Now the interesting thing is that it doesn’t have a controller, so may not appeal to drone pilots all that much but it is totally autonomous. It can follow you, it can fly around you and I also like the idea that you can record sound from the little transmitter unit that fits in your pocket.

Will I get one? Probably not. I love my DJI kit too much and if anything, will stick with that brand in the years to come. However this is a very innovative product and that is good for this new industry sector.

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Losing focus: Why tech is getting in the way of work – BBC News

Email, social media and technology mean we focus less and find concentrating at work more difficult. But does tech also have the answer?

Source: Losing focus: Why tech is getting in the way of work – BBC News

I agree a great deal with this. In many ways I could say that I amongst others have engineered the new “Age of Procrastination” as I like to call it. We are jumping from one thing to the next and then someone asks you, “How is Project X coming along?”. Oh no, forgotten about that one, I have been so immersed in Projects A, B and C these past couple of days. Proejct management techniques such as Agile help keep things zipping along but do we truly have the time these days to absorb what we have done? To learn from our triumphs and perhaps more importantly, our failures or average outcomes?

I am going to try out focus@will though, sounds really interesting and I like their way of thinking with that one.

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Malvern weekend

Today we are heading for the hills, the Malvern Hills to be precise and tomorrow we have tickets to go and revel in the delights of the RHS Malvern Spring Show.

We are looking forward to seeing some inspiring garden designs and generally enjoying the atmosphere of the show in general. I will also be taking my camera gear, macro lenses, tripod and wot-not. Also going in the car will be the Phantom 2 as I hope to get some aerial footage, not of the show, but the Malvern Hills themselves.

All being well and the forecast sounds quite good for the weekend, I hope to share with you some photos and maybe a new video by the time the weekend is out.

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Drones and my business

Some people have asked me why I bought a drone and when I show them my Phantom 2 in action, they think it is really cool, ask me how much they are and I wonder if they are tempted to buy one themselves. It made me chuckle, as in my post yesterday entitled “Bembridge Windmill”, my friend’s daughter asked her dad if she could have one. I told them that they cost around £1000 and that was the end of that conversation!! However I can only see these prices coming down in the future and that potentially anyone could buy one.

I digress – why did I buy one? Was it for fun? The gadget factor? Serious business?

Answer is – All of the above!

The last factor though is one that I really do want to pursue, I would love to either shoot commercial film for clients or to develop applications that make drones more useful in industry. In fact arguably I could do a bit of both.

Whatever I do, there are alas, hurdles to overcome. Laws to understand and abide by. Before I even think about invoicing someone for commercial aerial work (of any kind), I need to become licensed by the CAA, the Civil Aviation Authority who are the UK equivalent of the FAA as they are known in the US. If I were to ignore these requirements, I could face heavy penalties or even imprisonment. The future of such laws and regulations in the UK is very vague, as after all this industry is very new, nobody quite knows how to legislate UAV equipment. Luckily there are organisations forming who are there to help people like myself who see these machines as being very useful to the world as opposed to being an evil menace.

Take for example how Drones have recently been used in Nepal to map areas worst effected by the earthquake. They can help aid workers in assessing which areas are in most need or even to become aware of such places in the first place. You can learn a great deal, very quickly by flying up and over damaged towns and villages.

So for the time being, all of the videos I share here are for pure fun, plus at the same time I need to learn how the systems work, to become aware of their strengths and weaknesses. I am also learning a lot about shooting video and then post processing it in Final Cut Pro X!

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Staying at GiveSmart

There was some confusion over whether I would be staying on at GiveSmart or not. This was due to budgetary matters, sometimes us contractors get caught up in that sort of thing. So May 13th is not my last day, my contract has been extended until 14th August on a 3 month rolling basis. Even had a rate increase which was very welcome. Will be doing more with Angular and by the sounds of things Ionic Framework will play a part in the grand scheme of things too. So all in all, I am pleased and have as such signed the dotted line.

Thanks to agencies looking out for me for new roles but for the time being, please remove me from your lists and give me a shout around August time :-)

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Bringing Angular and Pusher together

Yesterday I started looking at the service called Pusher (www.pusher.com) and the need to make it work with Angular. Well it couldn’t have been easier! Here is some code that will work for you.

You will of course need to update API_KEY with your own and change “test_channel” to your own as required.

You may also note that I have adopted the “controller as” syntax in my code and I have done away with $scope, as in Angular 2 that will be gone anyway. I prefer it and it is more in line with how we used to write our JS functions.

Sharing GitHub gists this way is pretty damn sweet too :-)

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Making Angular.js Real-Time with Pusher – Pusher

Learn how to use Pusher to enable a rich, real-time user experience with Angular.js, code samples and a demo.

Source: Making Angular.js Real-Time with Pusher – Pusher

This is what I am looking at now. Real-time web is now possible through various means. In the past I have been an advocate of Firebase but the guys I am working with prefer Pusher… so that’s what I am playing with this afternoon :-)

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