Positivity #2

This is where I gather the positivity and bits and pieces of positivity from the internet and pop it in a post.

Enjoy!

A Dumb Phone in 2017 – LG B470

When I was planning on myself and Splinters honeymoon this year, there was something that I was adamant about, and that was that I was going to be as tech-free as possible. I was not going to take my smartphone with me (at least, not my daily driver) and I was going to take a hiatus from all forms of social media and internet dependency.

This leads to a couple of issues while travelling; firstly how were you going to get from place to place if you couldn’t book a Lyft to the airport, and when you get to the airport how were you going to get through security without your boarding pass? These were all challenges I was going to have to face without having a handset on hand to do all of these tasks for me that I would have just taken for granted. What I learned is that I certainly do take these things for granted, my iPad served as a grading surrogate for a lot of these unusual tasks. However, it all got done, and our honeymoon went relatively unhindered as a result.

For the honeymoon, myself and Splintor went travelling a fair bit of it. We went to New York to see some of the Pocketnow crew for a few days, then we went to Orlando for five days to go and look at the parks and finally a week in Cancun to rest from all of the running around of the week prior. It leads to a fundamental problem – how am I going to call people or arrange to meet people while I’m over there? If myself and Mark are going to book a reservation for a restaurant, how are we meant to do that completely phone free? Turns out that bit, we can’t.

medium03So, we had to come to some arrangement. How could we remain connected and disconnected at the same time? The solution to that question came in the form of the LG B470, a dumb phone surviving in 2017.

As an AT&T exclusive, it’s not got the highest specs in the world, nor does it have the best camera.

Summary
Screen Size 2.2 inches
Screen Resolution 220 x 176 pixels
Battery Capacity 950 mAh
Camera Resolution 1.3 MP
Processor
Memory
Storage
Carrier AT&T
Other Features Text & Multimedia Messaging, Mobile Web, Text to Speech
Series B470

Though, as laughable as the concept may be for $25 per handset including the prepaid credit that was already on the phone it served our needs perfectly. We could make calls, tell the time, (an unexpected hindrance of continually being attached to a smartwatch. When you don’t bring the smartphone, you tend not to bring the smartwatch either!) and text people were required.

medium01

I remember trying to walk out of Best Buy to text Jules to see which Starbucks near Central Park we were meant to meet and struggling tremendously with the concept of T9. Stopping in the middle of the shop, swearing under my breath as this was something I hadn’t done since my early teens and it had escaped me. I felt like I’d blasted to some point in the future when technology will at some stage get away from my grasp, and I had the confusion I see in my elders. It hit me with the full force of that knowledge, and I was angry that I’d lost that part of my ability. I remember being able to text without looking under my desk in class (Sorry, Mam) and being able to write perfect messages because I had everything down to muscle memory.

It slowly came back, like riding a bike, and over those few days, I discussed with my tech Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 03.15.18friends the concept of reverting to something like this for the two-week process. People were curious how were we going to document our experiences without something there always at hand for us to use. There was a sense of nostalgia looking at a flip phone like this and lamenting for a simpler time.

I don’t think that lamentation is misplaced, and it is a simpler place to be. A simpler place to sit. A simpler place to just exist. I found myself not wanting to be anywhere else except where I was. It gave me an opportunity to be present and with the people who were around me. That’s not something that I get to feel in everyday life; there is some much that is around us that calls for our attention regularly. So, for me at least it was a beautiful gift to give not just to myself but for the people around me. It was what I hoped to get from spending my time being disconnected from the digital world for a bit.

I would highly recommend it, even just for a little while. To force yourself to tune out and turn off. Give yourself and the people you love the time just to be. It just goes to show that sometimes, going a few steps back can push you a few steps forward.

Geek Book Club Podcast: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

I got to join the wonderful Andrew Wallace & Juan Carlos Bagnell on there Geek Book Club for the month of October where we talked about one of my favourite books. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy!

You can find more details of the Geek Book Club over at Twitter @thegeekbookclub & their Facebook Page!

High-Quality Audio File

Juan Carlos Bagnell can be found at @somegadgetguy on Twitter, his reviews on all things tech at PocketNow and anything else over at his main channel JuanBagnell.

Andrew Wallace can be found at @fatproduce on Twitter.

Tech Bags for Women

As someone who carries a lot of tech with them, I am invariably torn by wanting a really nice bag vs something that I know will protect my kit. So standard issue black, executive laptop bags that will basically only hold that and nothing else. Doesn’t really cut it for me. But neither, does my trusty Coach Tote that I’ve had for years prior to this!

Update 1/2/17: Got an update from Pad & Quill about the process around creating leather totes.

The Problem as it stands

As someone who carries a lot of tech with them, I am invariably torn by wanting a really nice bag vs. something that I know will protect my kit. So standard issue black, executive laptop bags that will basically only hold that and nothing else. Doesn’t really cut it for me. But neither, does my trusty Coach Tote that I’ve had for years before this! Even with my MacBook Pro having a hard shell on it, it says nothing for the sake of my Vita, 3DS, Books, Lunch that has to go in on top of it!

That is what lead to me asking the question “Are there any tech bags out there for women?” and also led me to a followup question of “Why should people care about this?”. So, should you care about it? Absolutely! Everyone needs to protect their technology, and most people want to do it in a way that is not only convenient but fashion conscious. Letting people know that there are more options out there than just regular tote bags the more people options people can have for finding a bag that suits them!

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Michael Kors Studio Mercer Leather Tote

So let’s look at a quick use case, shall we? A lot of the bags that I see my friends and colleagues carry are Michael Kors. They have some breathtaking bags ranging from the $160 – $260+, and they’re awesome don’t get me wrong. But, I feel if you’re putting your laptop, purse, phone, etc. You’re going to, in most cases, be putting a lot of valuable stuff in your bag. So it makes sense that you’d want to protect them. Some of these bags aren’t designed with protective laptop spaces inside. So they aren’t ideal. But I can see the appeal of them, they’re super cute they’re known for being durable and reliable, and it has brand power.

The Solution

So I decided to ask around the mobile tech community for alternatives to this. Where you can get beautiful, functional, bags that will tick all those boxes? Of course, everyone has their own favourites that sometimes cost an awful lot less! Don’t worry, though, some of these bags aren’t just specifically for women, anyone can wear these bags. It’s all down to your personal style!

Juan Carlos Bagnell recommended STM and Booq. So we’ll start with Booq.

Booq

Booq aims to create high-quality products that can be worn by men and women alike, with

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Booq – Daypack

No gender stereotyping. All bags are made from a ballistic nylon material and feature numerous compartments to ensure they are versatile for both men and women, for work and leisure. When I was talking to the lovely people of Booq, the rep who I was talking with recommended the Daypack as being one of her top picks. Just for the sheer versatility of the backpack. Booq takes pride in these bags being ethically sourced and environmentally conscious. So, this is always a big bonus for consumers who have that as a requirement!

STM

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STM – Deluxe Laptop Sleeve

STM’s Grace line was the brainchild of STM’s co-
Founder Andia Jacobs. The Grace
A collection
of women’s laptop bags and sleeves are a reflection of Adina’s design ethos of simple, elegant, and fun, now focused directly on a female customer. With a focus on slimmer and simpler products, you won’t find an extensive range nor should you expect to fit a mountain of gear in these sleeves. At the time of writing, there was one deluxe laptop sleeve, laptop sleeve and a clutch. However, the elegant design and form factor should be a must-see for anyone who likes to carry light.

Waterfield Design / Peralta

balani-backpack-taffeta-blue-front_grande
Peralta – Balani Backpack

Serenity Caldwell of imore recommends Padandquill and SF/Peralta. San Francisco’s
WaterField Designs, a veteran of locally-crafted bags and cases announces a new women’s handbag line—PERALTA. PERALTA’s debut bag, the Balani Backpack is designed to be multipurpose with a focus on a professional women’s’ everyday working life. As one of the only traditional backpacks on this list, it’s really worth a look if you’re interested in a classic twist on a traditional design.

Pad & Quill

When talking to the super people of Pad & Quill, they described their mission as a pure

7-brown-laptop-purse-and-tote
Pad & Quill – Laptop Tote

one. They want to make good art. Each of their bags bears the signature of the artisan who created it, and they have a warranty on their bags for 25 years. Leather bags like these tend to be more gender neutral, making it wearable for anyone. However, for those who don’t like backpack styles, they do have a tote version of their leather bag which has enough room in it to fit your tech with room to spare.

The leather totes are 100% full-grain leather! They are constructed with UV-resistant nylon stitching and solid nickel hardware, so the bags can easily stand the test of time. Instead of cutting a bunch of different pieces of leather and stitching them together, they use unique pieces. Less stitching means less chance of the bag falling apart after only a few years.
While they are not certified cruelty free, the leather we use does come from cattle who’ve lived cruelty-free lives. The leather producer/tannery purchase animals that are raised in beautiful pastureland. In our bags, you may notice slight scarring/marks. The cattle’s entire body gets used, from the hide to the meat, so that nothing to waste.
They also are committed to strong ethical practices in everything we do. The companies they partner with to produce and create our bags are as well. So for those who are a little bit concerned about where the leather comes from, this should help to alleviate some fears!

Timbuk2

Florence Ion recommends Timbuk2. Which, is a bag that I ended up getting from this list. They do a dedicated women’s line, which is some of the biggest that I’ve seen in my searching
the following for women’s bags. They have everything from messenger bags, backpacks, totes, duffle bags. So it’s really worth a look to see what fits your style. I got the Custom Prospect Laptop Messenger Bag, which I got in all

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Black with a blue trim and I adore it. My record so far for getting stuff in the bag is the following: my MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, Playstation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, 5 Hardback books, an umbrella, 2 ready meals, 2 ciabattas and some ham and cheese. This is along with all
of the random crap in the front pocket and the internal pocket which keeps things like medicines and other essentials. That’s an insane amount of stuff! And Yes. It was damn heavy. But never once on the 30-minute trek home from my local shopping centre was it ever actually uncomfortable. As heavy as the contents were the straps never once cut into me nor did I have to shuffle around any of the contents for better weight distribution. So needless to say, I can safely recommend going and looking at these collections of bags.

William J. Mills Inc & Brenthaven

However this I couldn’t possibly complete this segment without Michael Fisher aka

napthol_red_duck_duffel

MrMobile thoughts on the best tech bags. In his hometown, there’s a sailmaker called William J. Mills Inc., and they make his favourite companion bags of all time: the Classic Duffel. He’s had it for years, and he swears by it. However, for his present daily driver, he’s currently using the Brenthaven Collins Vertical Messenger Bag for the Surface Pro 4. You can find his thoughts on the bag in his Winter Wearables video so I won’t ruin any surprises for you! Both the duffle bags and the messenger bags all have a classic style about them, so could be a perfect fit for anyone.

Rounding Out

So what do you think? Are there any bags here that would make you ditch your daily driver? Do you have any recommendations for bags that didn’t make a list? Tell me about them in the comments below. All of the links to each of the bags and people I’ve mentioned today will be in the text above so be sure to check them out. Be sure to Like, Share and Subscribe if you liked this blog and be sure to check out the video version of this blog by checking out the Should You Care? Tech channel.

On The Road to Recovery Part 1

I promised myself hat once I had something to update you all regarding my period then I would. So here I am, with an update that I have found a consultant who is willing to stop my periods. I intend to try and keep a more active log of my journey of how I’m getting on with things, as there are a few things that are happening that I know an outlet of stuff might be a safe space for me to create and a journey to share with you all.

My periods, as you all know, have been dreadful as I’ve chronicled in posts past. Through an incident at work that caused me to haemorrhage suddenly and I had to go straight to a doctor I had another altercation with a GP about my periods. She assured me while shaking before her that I would not get seen by a gynaecologist due to my previous disputes with my last gynaecologist. Openly asked me if I would consider psychiatric care to continue down the lines of asking for medical professionals to deal with my uterus. Nonetheless, she sent a letter away for me to go and see another private consultant. I got a letter back with an appointment 3 months away, which I thought odd. Usually going private here means that you get seen fairly quickly, but this was unusual.

Going to the appointment made me nervous, after all, going through so many consultants who didn’t listen to me and I wasn’t optimistic about giving myself to the process again only to be ignored. She, amazingly, didn’t have any of my previous history notes, said she didn’t need them. That she wanted to start fresh with me so I told her everything and she took detailed notes. We arranged for my blood test results from the Haematologist to be sent to her as we’d already ruled out a blood disorder. She immediately scheduled me for an MRI and talked to me about being put on a GnRH analogue with add back hormones but that we’d try and talk through the other options first. As a hysterotomy/laparoscopy may be required as well. She was going to take my file and bring it to her review board, as my case was super unusual and then a letter would be sent out to me with the results of the discussions along with the next steps. In the meantime, I was to call the nurse at 8:30 am for my results from the analysis. I left with a prescription for 2mg of oestrogen that she hoped would help ease some of my period-related symptoms – it had some effect. It certainly slowed the rate of the bleeding and some of the pain but I had it for a longer period of time, and I couldn’t tell in an 8 week period if that was my body adjusting to the new hormones or not. I figured it was related, as I broke out quite a bit with the new hormones. So I knew myself an adjustment period would be required. I would get super greasy everywhere for those first few weeks. So the adjustment wasn’t terribly smooth, cosmetically or internally.

By the time I got around to calling the nurse, she couldn’t tell me much on the phone. Just that the discussion happened and that she couldn’t say yes or no that my scan was clear. Needless to say, that’s worrying. A week later, a clerical error resulted in my letter being sent to my GP, and I wound up being called by a very concerned sounding doctor from my GP’s clinic asking if I could come in to talk to her. It was about my letter. I went in the next day to collect my letter and was greeted with my doctor who just asked me if I was ok with what was in the contents and I said yes at the time, but I wasn’t. What does “essentially” normal mean? That’s not the same as clear? Why do you want to stop my periods immediately and put me on the GnRH analogue? Wasn’t that meant to be our last resort?

I called the nurse to try and talk through the letter that I received. Turns out my uterus is very deep set in my body, usually so apparently and that it’s anteverted. An anteverted uterus isn’t anything to be concerned about but sometimes added pain is cause enough to look for things like endometriosis and other things. I was initially reluctant to go on the GnRH analogue as I thought that it was a last resort, and the nurse said since I had so many questions that I should go and talk to my Gynaecologist about it, but she was unsure if she could get me in before Christmas. I debated it, for me it was all very sudden.

However, what sealed the deal for me making the jump to the GnRH was the fact I had one of the worst periods I had in a while. Vomiting, and having diarrhoea on top of the loss of blood and period pain I experienced was horrendous. Splintor and I sat on our bathroom floor while I wept and told him I had to take the prescription, that I couldn’t endure this anymore when there was a solution in a bottle somewhere for me. I know he supports me in whatever decisions I make about my body, but the prospect of putting myself into a “fake” menopausal status at 26 is terrifying. If I’m honest, I’m not certain which I fear the most, a life without my period or the fact I may like it.

Nothing sums up the feeling better than a quote from “The Great American Game” by Levi the Poet

Yeah, it’s painful, but it’s familiar – so habit breeds comfort, and I don’t know what I’d do without him.

I’ve existed for most of my life with this as a menace, but I don’t know what a life without it is like and as much as I often wish for nothing more than for it to end. I fear what it means to have that be a reality. Reading the warning labels on the bottles would have anyone running scared, but for something so expensive simple, could this really be the solution?

I don’t know. I’m on the nasal spray (2 pumps. One in each nostril) and the oestrogen supplement nearly a week at the time of writing, I feel no different. However, I’m due a period in the next 2 – 5 days, and I’m not sure when it’s meant to take effect. (I didn’t get a set date from my gynaecologist when to take the spray – my periods are sporadic at best, so I don’t think in this instance it would have mattered when I started it) If I get a period will this be my last one? How do I feel about the potential of that or what if it doesn’t work and it’s not my last one?

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions, either for myself or you. Though, I do intend to keep you informed of my progress as my thoughts form about it.

Brown Thomas: Restaurant Treat

Sorry for the lack of posts on this particular section; as I haven’t been eating a lot of food/skipping meals due to my sleep schedule. I find myself super lethargic during the day, and I’m not too sure what’s causing it.

Anyway Splinter and I decided that after a trip to the dentist we should treat ourselves (I also had to resist the urge to buy an ice cream making kit. There would be no such thing as moderation if I brought it home.)
Now while I don’t usually go for salads, and it was an expensive salad at that (€15) I was genuinely surprised how filling it was. Even now, several hours later I’m still full from my salad & don’t think I’ll be making dinner tonight!
It’s completely changed the way I’ve looked at salad & I’m a die hard fan of the phrase “if it’s not meat it’s not a meal.”

 

That’s what I had taken directly from the menu itself. I’ll place a link down below for anyone who wants to check out the menu for themselves.
Upon taking my first bite I had my reservations, it tasted extremely vinegary.
Once you started combining the textures & flavours of the bacon with the lettuce and pine nuts or the exceptionally well-cooked chicken (still remaining moist well after it was cooled) with the croutons and tomatoes. It became a harmonious melody of flavours and combinations that was always refreshing every time you took a bite and was brave with the taste changes.
The one complaint I’d have about it is that my palate may have been a little too confused. When I got to midway through my salad and had run out of a drink. I didn’t know what I should drink to complement the salad. I only didn’t know, which was unusual for me. I think it had to do with the flavour combinations that I was putting together where just one pairing may not have worked 100% of the time. But that’s a small enough gripe for something that was so substantial. Everything about the food was superb. 
 
For those who are interested Splinter had the steak and eggs with soda bread.
 

 

Now eggs are one of the things I cannot eat. I just don’t like the taste or smell of them, which arguably would make me a poor food critic but how and ever. I just think we all have things we don’t like.

I can happily inform you that the soda bread which I tried was incredible. Whoever does the baking in The Restaurant should be incredibly proud of themselves, it’s how proper soda bread should taste. Had all the pop flavour but yet was still rustic but soft. To me the personification of perfection.
Splinter also reports that the steak was “excellent” and the egg was “Epic, beautiful and funny as soon as I cut into it.
And I’m afraid that’s all the food critique you’ll ever get out of Splinter.
For those of you who frequent Dublin City regularly, and want a good meal for two without a massive price tag but doesn’t skip on quality: then we’d highly recommend The Restaurant. The atmosphere is very pleasant, the staff are warm, and the pricing is overall for the quality of the food you’re getting very reasonable. Including drinks, the food (including a side of fries for Splinter) it came to €46.