Today, two blogs that I read religiously have each announced the sad news that a close family member has died. With each my first thought has been to post a comment, but I've then fumbled over what to write in it.
Whatever I say won't bring back the loved one who is now strangely missed and yet also ever-present in the thoughts and minds of those left behind.
I can't say that I know how they feel, because I don't. I have been through a similar experience when Karen, my sister, was killed in a car crash five years ago, but all I know from that is how individual and different the grief is from one person to the next.
I could say that time is the great healer. That the pain dulls over the years, although it's always there ready to be exposed again if something scratches through the surface, although perversely it's as if they're almost alive again when it does.
But that's something you either believe or you don't. Some platitudes from somebody else aren't going to change that. Deep down you'll already know that you will get through it, somehow... even if the world won't ever quite be the same again.
I suppose the only useful advice I can offer is to talk about it more. To not worry about how you're seen to others. To be open about it.
I know this is easier said than done. I don't do it as much as I should. I've wanted to write this blog post for years now. In fact, in my drafts folder there's the time I tried to write it when I heard that Kev's brother had died, and another for the time when Ran told me about Eyal...
I just find it hard to communicate when I'm crying, which makes it tricky to explain that I don't mind people talking about Karen, or asking me questions about her, or how I felt at the time of her death, or how I feel now, or how the dynamic of the whole family changed, or... anything.
You see, getting upset isn't a problem, because it reminds me of how much I loved Karen and how much I miss her. So it should be celebrated that I react in this way, because the alternative - that I don't mourn her passing - is too awful to contemplate.
"How do you keep track of all the things you need to do? Whilst developing DataCocoon I found that there were so many things to keep track of - finishing the software itself, building the website, getting the artwork done, setting up the Ltd...
On the bigger scale ("bug X needs to be fixed", "there needs to be a help file") I just tracked everything in my bug database, as I have for years with any software project. But that doesn't work very well for the day-to-day, finer-grained list of actions that need to be done in order to achieve the bigger goals.
After reading the excellent Getting Things Done and being overrun with to-do lists jotted down on scraps of paper, I decided it was time I got things computerized."
Over on the MCQN Ltd. blog I've posted an article about how I keep track of my daily to-do items.
The main reason for the post is to announce that everyone else now has the opportunity to use the same tool to keep on top of everything they need to do and so become more productive. I've polished up the web app that I've been using for the past few months now and tedium is now up and running on the Internet.
This weekend turned out to be rather musical, in a rather different way to usual.
On Saturday, we went down to London for the day, and I got to experience my first West End musical. The Producers was great fun; the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is a rather impressive and ornate theatre, and the production itself was superb. Reece Shearsmith's (of League of Gentlemen fame) cartoon-like spasms when as Leo Bloom he was deprived of his security blanket were inspired, and I loved Don Gallagher as the camp director, Roger De Bris and Nicolas Colicos as Fuhrer-loving Franz Liebkind.
Then on Sunday, the musicals continued. I went to see West Side Story at the Arts Picturehouse with Rebecca and her sister. It's a firm favourite of theirs, and they're word-perfect from repeated viewings from video and DVD, but neither had seen it on the big screen. I had never seen it, and I think I enjoyed it more seeing it at the cinema than I would watching it on TV, and the song-and-dance numbers only seemed to drag once or twice - which is better than I feared.
I'd like to assure you that this sudden interest in musicals is just a blip, but given that I'll be seeing Blood Brothers at the Arts Theatre this coming weekend, I'm not sure I that'll stand up to scrutiny. I'm not expecting to continue with the musicals immersion, but I think they have their place.
Through the wonders of the Internet, it's now possible to watch one of the most important moments in the history of computing, one from when the Internet was just a twinkle in Defense Department's eye.
Doug Engelbart's demo was showing his work from 1968(!!!) where he outlined such as cut-and-paste, the first ever computer mouse, hyperlinks, networking, video-conferencing... and at the end he even mentions the "coming Arpanet in about a year, end up with some 20 experimental computers in a network... with bandwidth of something like 20kbps" (of course, Arpanet eventually became the Internet we know today).
Tom Coates makes a very interesting post asking whether or not the UK could foster more startups, and where would it make sense for them to congregate. In it he draws up a shortlist of Oxford, Cambridge, York, Bristol and Brighton.
I don't know much about the other locations, but living in Cambridge it seems to me that Tom has fallen into the London-centric, new media (he says, stereotyping wildly but it fits in with my story :-) trap of complete ignorance of anything going on outside the M25.
Things have cooled a little since the dot-com bubble and there's less talk these days of the Silicon Fen, but there are still lots of startups in and around Cambridge. I think there are two reasons that Cambridge startups aren't as well known:
I don't know if life in Cambridge is perfect for startups, but I've found it pretty good so far. The concentration of software companies in the area mean that I've been able to find bits of contracting to help fund MCQN Ltd. and also make it less risky for employees to join a startup - if it all goes wrong, it's easy enough to find another to join. Plus there are plenty of opportunities for networking: Cambridge Network have the grander, more corporate/VC networking covered; CHASE is a friendlier group aimed at the smaller businesses; and there are groups like CETC and the Cambridge Women's Lunch Club.
That said, maybe I'm not the best person to comment on why more people don't start their own company. What would it take for you to start your own startup?
Seeing as more and more bands have myspace.com pages, I thought it might be interesting to use myspace to keep track of new bands as I discover them.
So, I've signed up for an account, and on it my aim is to link to new bands as "friends" and add an entry to my myspace blog whenever I add someone.
I think it'll give a slightly different angle to the music metadata that I expose about myself. My last.fm page will still be the most definitive record of what I've been listening to (and so any new find should feature pretty heavily around the time that I first find them), but my myspace account will be more of a hint at new people I think are worth a listen. And if you want to stay one step behind me on the band discovery trail (for of course I'm such a trailblazer... ;-) you can subscribe to the RSS feed for my myspace blog.
I do a poor-enough job when writing reviews of rock and pop gigs that I wonder whether I should bother trying to review events I attend of other musical genres in which I have virtually no knowledge, such as classical concerts.
However, as Rebecca has a better background from which to suggest things to attend, I'm now getting to the odd classical concert here and there, and I'd like to keep track of what I've seen and whether or not I liked it. If nothing else, it will hopefully provide some wider promotion of the events.
Phew, now that's out of the way, I can say that on Sunday we went to see a violin recital put on by the Selwyn College Music Society.
It was a fairly intimate affair, with around thirty of us gathered in the rather grand Selwyn College Hall to hear Alexandra Wood playing the violin, accompanied on the piano by Huw Watkins.
The evening's programme ran as follows:
Alexandra is a very good violinist. I was quite surprised at the range of sounds that she could produce from the instrument - during one of the folk dances I could have sworn that someone was playing a penny whistle and was amazed that it was coming from the violin.
The "My Documents" folder is an obvious candidate to be backed up, but programs like Outlook Express squirrel away your data elsewhere, often in a location that isn't immediately obvious. What I want to do with the series is build it up into a useful repository of instructions on where to find the data, organised by program name. So, if you can think of any program you use which doesn't store its data in the "My Documents" folder, I'd appreciate it if you could leave a comment about it or send me an email.