A late night in the offing in SW19 tonight: Andy Murray slugging it out under the roof at Wimbledon as the rain falls elsewhere. It wasn’t like that last night as I strolled along the South Bank under a crimson sunset, glinting off the London Eye and the Palace of Westminster.
This quick list is little more than information masquerading as literature, for these are some of the things I did:
- British Museum: when I was very young I once asked my mum why there was so little of Britain in the British Museum – little has changed in two and a half decades. This was my first visit in a while though and I’m a fan of the central courtyard, which is a very large space indeed. The temporary exhibition on Australian art was good and took me back to some of the galleries I visited in Australia – I like a Sydney Nolan from time to time. The Parthenon Sculptures are still there, despite my measured analysis as an undergrad that they should head back to Greece. The rest passed in a blur, the continents and the centuries passing in as many paces as I tripped through the civilisations.
- Apple Store Covent Garden: the biggest such store in the world I believe, a temple to the brand and the products. And what do you know, it’s a very pleasant place to spend a little time and a lot of money.
- National Gallery: Cardinal Richelieu‘s eminence… say no more.
- Eli Pariser at The RSA: it’s only a few days since I wrote about Pariser’s work on the ‘filter bubble’, so quite a fluke that my day in London coincided with his talk at RSA House. The material had developed a little since his TED talk, but the basic premise remains and there seems to be greater appreciation of the consequences it heralds. A treat however: this lunchtime talk was hosted by Aleks Krotoski, who sat three seats along from me when she wasn’t grilling the speaker on stage.
- Scotch Malt Whisky Society, London: when in London why not call in on a society you’re a member of? Lovely stuff.
- E4 Udderbelly: …where I spent a very pleasant hour with my friend, the general manager. Just as I used to get mighty confused when visiting the Famous Spiegeltent in foreign cities so it is with the purple cow: current residing near the South Bank Centre. (And to think Sarah’s first festival job was selling tickets for Jo, Laura and I at the Bedlam Theatre in 1998.)
London remains a city that will strip your wallet as soon as welcome you to its institutions and winding streets. But it’s a fine place to be… right down to running for the last train.
What have the last ten years done for us? ??Given us an ever-wider range of software for one thing. ??So, with a sizeable piece of work somewhere on the horizon, mixed up with the everyday cycle of work and play, these are the pieces of software I see myself using in the years ahead:
- OS X: I use a MacBook Pro, I like using OS X, it suits the way I like to work with its myriad keyboard shortcuts and clean lines. ??It’s six years since I got my first Mac and the experience has improved with age. ??But here’s??David Mitchell??asking whether it’s still possible to feel smug about Apple ownership any more, though I wonder if I associate more closely with this old??Charlie Brooker??piece on all that’s wrong about Apple… somewhere in between perhaps.
- iWork: This is Apple’s suite of programmes to match Microsoft’s Office. ??The jewel in iWork’s crown has long been Keynote – an easy to use, powerful and adaptable presentation package. ??I love it… it’s far too easy to throw in unnecessary animations and other ways to distract an audience from what you’re trying to say. ??Pages is for word processing and I’m finding new ways of using it all the time – maybe outline view has its uses after all.
- Office: For better or worse, usually worse, there is sometimes a need to use Microsoft Office. ??One of the joys of the current version of Office for Mac is that it still behaves like Office – highly refreshing after a hard day’s strife agains the most recent Windows version at work. ??I think there’s a strong possibility that the PhD will be written in Word (if it ever gets written). ??And the reason is that the world uses Word, so the world writes plug-ins for Word and shares its files. ??Who knows, maybe things will have come on enough in the next couple of years to make it possible to write the whole project with iWork.
- Posterous: This is a new discovery for me, hosting my blog and a providing an online presence. ??It’s just as easy as they say, to contribute posts, make it look nice, link it to other online media and post files (particularly pdf). ??I’ve tried constructing sites in the past with reasonable success, but this is really taking the pain and learning out of building a website. ??That puts extra pressure on me to keep it updated though – possibly for years to come.
- Twitter: That’s a link to my Twitter feed. ??I like Twitter and enjoy using it – the people and organisations I follow have brought lots of news and stories to my attention. ??I contribute in occasional waves, but get a lot out of the to and fro of ideas. ??It’s amazing what you can do with 140 characters if you’re creative about it.
- Mendeley: I want to know more about Mendeley and I want to know how it can work for me. ??That means trying it out and getting used to it of course, though the potential is impressive: organising academic literature; linking researchers; providing a Word plug-in to produce references, bibliographies and so on. ??It’s the Last.fm of research, and I like??Last.fm.
These work for me just now, because I’m familiar with them and can increasingly use them as tools to achieve what I want. ??As those requirements change I’ll keep my eyes open… and I’m always open to suggestions.