Sunday, September 23, 2012

"Oh, another thing about stylus down-force..."

Collecting again. Stop it.

Those who watch my random musings on Facebook will know that I have been buying and inheriting more and more old vinyl from charity shops, friends and colleagues. My small collection of old 80s records has now grown to about 5 times the size in the last few months. So, I'm going to slow down with collecting more as there is simply neither enough storage space nor enough listening hours.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thinking about stamps and data models

I am in no way formally trained in relational databases, data modelling etc. but I am a couple of pages ahead of some. Having said that I think all that does is give me better opportunities to shoot myself in the foot, more quickly and with better accuracy.

So, that disclaimer out of the way, I've been thinking about how to represent a stamp catalogue and collections in a SQL database. I've been playing with MySQL Workbench as a simple design tool and while it's cute it takes quite a lot of work. A sheet or paper and a pen is a bit simpler at this stage.

So, what have I got so far? Not a lot to be honest. Below are some potentially incoherent ramblings and comments are welcomed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stamp Collecting ... Again

After an opportunity to visit IKEA once again I recently reorganised my furniture so that I had deeper and better shelving near my home office to move my stamp collection to. I use the term "collection" quite loosely as it turns out as it's more a hoard. Like many I started as a child with stamps from my parents and buying interesting packs of used stamps from bookshops and newsagents. As my family is from Hungary I also used to visit in the summers when I was growing up, and in those days - mostly the 80s before the Iron Curtain was pulled aside - there was a good selection of new issues and related materials available in Budapest especially in the official Hungarian stamp outlet in the tourist district.

Since then I acquired a variety of large sets of stock-books, collections and random boxes of stuff from a variety of real auctions in London and on-line in the early days of eBay - which I would now not go near as it's simply a hotbed of fraud and scams. Every time I progressed in sorting things out more material appeared. It's been a number of years since I last had a proper go at consolidating, classifying and recording what I have and I have decided it's about time to start again. Again.

Now that the world has moved on and on-line is the way forward I have looked for, in vain, a good resource to help me catalogue my collection. There are a variety of sites and services out there and a lot of work has already been done by Keijo Kortelainen one his rather excellent site - one page in particular has been very useful: Stamp Collecting Blog - Software & Services. However what I have been looking for is something much more akin to the functionality, community and openness of Discogs but sadly there is nothing. So, in the spirit of the nerd I am going to see what I can knock up as a starting point and see what happens.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


How I Made A Start

As someone who has loved reading since childhood and having the good fortune to have been around at the start of the commercial Internet and so had the presence of mind to register a domain like I've nevertheless always felt a little uneasy about electronic books. Having a bundle of pages in your hand, being able to read pretty much anywhere without the need for anything but light and also that warm glow that comes from having shelves upon shelves of book on display at home makes me feel good. Now, instead we are all being pushed into accepting the new world order where the same work costs me more and the publisher less - and with the exception of some well known names and lucky new break-through ones I am certain the authors are not doing much better financially - seemed a recipe for madness. Even having established based on the public domain texts being published by Project Gutenberg and others I found it hard to read more than a few pages or a chapter on a screen at one sitting - a PC screen wasn't it for me.

This all changed because of a recent combination of circumstances. I bought myself a nice shiny-in-a-brushed-steel-way Asus Transformer Prime tablet earlier this year and I also began a two month long journey to the Far East for work spanning May and June. As I write this I am less than 24 hours from getting on the plane to start the journey home - but that story is for another post. Normally when I go on holiday or a shorter business trip I'll tend to pack a paperback or three and maybe look forward to seeing if there are any good titles to pick up either at the airport or my destination; On my last real holiday to Bali the resort had quite a good selection of left-behind books in an ad-hoc library in their restaurant area, which seemed a great idea. I left a couple of the more trashy books I had bought with me behind to add to the pile.