A Year in Review – 2016

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As the bells and fireworks across the globe hailed in the new year and we all wished each other a happy new year, it is important to reflect on the past year, the good times, the bad times and all times in between. Saying goodbye to 2016 reminded me just how lucky have been in so many respects, and although this year has been truly remarkable – in the truest sense of the word – it is one that contains memories that I will cherish for years to come.

A review of 2016 would not be complete without a nod to the political drama that had manifested itself. Britain voted to leave the EU, the European Refugee Crisis continued to put pressure on European leaders and populations, and the arguably most powerful country in the world elected a big tuft of hair as President of the United States. These events and others have divided the world to an extent rarely before seen in history and while this insight is not in any way groundbreaking, I question whether I should be making my opinion known on a public space like my blog or indeed even on my Facebook or twitter. I am reminded of the saying “The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing” which further eerily reminds me of times like the run up to world-war 2. At the same time, platforms like Facebook have not helped discourse either through the natural consequence of their content delivery algorithms, and I would just be adding to the often anger-provoking activity of online discourse. It is much easier to swear at a photo than it is to a person. Indeed, notable events this year for me have been civil discussions between classmates of mine at university, where although we held widely different political views, I was given the chance to understand the opposition’s arguments, which was much more interesting than shouting at someone online. I do not in any way mean to belittle how people choose to share their opinions, but for me, online has had little success. Continue reading “A Year in Review – 2016”

A Year in Review – 2015

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St. Stephans Cathedral, Vienna on the 31st December.

Another year has flown past, and with it, other year full of new people, experiences and stories to tell. 2015 has been quite the exciting year for me personally and for the world. Politically, things are going down the toilet; socially, countries are becoming more and more polarised; and generally, the world has become a much more unsafe place. However, as has now become customary for me in my New Years post, a quick reflection on the good things of 2015 is in order, as are well-wishes for the new year. There have been ups and downs, bouts of lucid joy and unpleasant depression. However, there have been no deaths in the family – which is more than can be said for many other unfortunate individuals around the world – and we have our health (vaguely anyway), so there is not much to complain about.

2015 was the year I graduated secondary (high) school. A big event in ones life that shouldn’t go unnoticed at all. The speaker at the leavers ceremony imparted his words of wisdom, “you cannot be happier than happy”, wishing that we all pause every now and then to take stock of what is important and what we have. Cheesy, yes, but still worth remembering. My physics teacher took half an hour out of our final lesson to instruct us to remember that life is quite short – exemplified through his close university friend losing her life in a road accident – and to enjoy the moment, while still seeking and grabbing opportunities as they arise, making the most out of and learning from them. “Whether you are going to Cambridge, Boston or Zurich, you will be fine”, he addressed the class, referring to my situation.

Continue reading “A Year in Review – 2015”

The Ardberry Buggy

IMG_0396Back in the day when I was experimenting with the Lego NXT components in 2011 (part 1, part 2 and part 3), the intention was to use these components in an internet-controlled buggy that would serve a webpage and take commands over it. That was 3 years ago now, during which time what little work that had been done on it – designing a PCB that ultimately wasn’t of much use after I realised that using an Arduino to host a dynamic site probably wasn’t the best of ideas, fiddling with a Raspberry Pi streaming a webcam and buying the lego wheels in 2012 – has been sitting in a small metal box in my room just waiting to be built. Projects have come and gone, exams have been taken and secondary (high) school has been graduated, yet that box remained (more or less) unopened as one of the few constants in the ever-changing life of a student about to go to university.
Today, dear readers, I would like to announce that this is no longer the case, and I present to you the result of three years of procrastination followed by two months of desperately working out how the simplest of web protocols work. I present: the Ardberry (Arduino-Raspberry Pi) Buggy!

Continue reading “The Ardberry Buggy”

Thoughts on Retail

Over the past six weeks, I have been working at a local shop that trades all sorts of gadget-y items. It is sort of like the local high-street gadget shop, but not in a tacky way. The owner of the shop left the engineering industry to go into retail and that led him to create this shop about a year ago. Working in a very unfamiliar environment in an unfamiliar area – sales – has tested my slightly rusty people-reading skills and has given me an insight into the way our internet-driven retail economy is placing immense pressure on the high street.

I have compiled a list of things I have been thinking about these past few weeks with regards to retail, people, the internet and life. Please know that these are my own observations and this not intended to be a promotional post of any kind. Continue reading “Thoughts on Retail”

The Gap Year: Risk

Gap year ambitions vs reality

As I embark onto this gap year of mine, the start date of which I have set as Monday the 5th of October 2015 – the day I start my new full-time temporary job, I have had time to start reflecting on the past five years of my life in senior school, what I have accomplished during this time, the habits I have developed (and lost) and — with the wider world of university and real life spread out in front of me and the relentless steamroller of time pushing us unceasingly to make potentially life-altering decisions — the direction I want to take, and what is required of me to accomplish this. This post will be a incoherent collection of thoughts that I have had these past few months on my travels through Europe and the USA and after hearing the bad news from the University of Cambridge. Continue reading “The Gap Year: Risk”

Updates and Universities

Alas, we find ourselves at the end of the summer holidays, and with it, the impending onset of various schools and universities. I hope the summer was relaxing and enjoyable for my readers, and that the upcoming year awaits many adventures and challenges. The typical summer post will be up at some point when I get round to writing it, but for now, due to the way I have slightly over-dramatised my very first-world problem of choosing between universities, my friends and teachers have naturally been asking me where I ended up. The story is a more complicated one – as it always seems to be – and is probably worth a look at. Continue reading “Updates and Universities”

The Final Leg

It has been a fair while since my last post, and a huge deal has happened. These past few months have been a true roller-coaster on all levels of my life, be that personal, academic, social or familial. The faithful among you here would have read time and time and time again about my university considerations and the various factors that have plagued my thoughts with doubts about each institution I thought about and ended up applying to. In April the last batch of US university acceptances were released, and with them was the end of the waiting game for my decision. I shall not offload the reasons for and against each institution here but instead just give a quick overview of the process and my rough decision. Continue reading “The Final Leg”