Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Pie Master

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, but before I post about the festive season, I have one more post about Rob and Rhona's wedding...

Having found our way to our table I was a little worried about what I found on my seat: a chef's hat and an apron.

When Bryony and I got married, and Rob was my best man, he "borrowed" my apron for use as a prop during his speech. Given this I was more than a little concerned by the presence of a apron and chef's hat. I didn't know if it was going to be a prop during a speech or ... my imagination was running away from me in nightmarish directions.

Fortunately it was only a few seconds before I noticed that a few other chairs also held aprons and hats. Whatever was going on I wasn't alone! I hope Rob won't mind me saying, but he (just like me) does enjoy his food and the only time I have ever seen him off his food was at our wedding when he knew he had to give a speech. Having learned from that experience Rob and Rhona had scheduled the speeches for before the food so I didn't have long to wait to find out what on earth I was expected to do with an apron and a chef's hat.

In retrospect I should have been able to guess what the hat and apron were for. I already knew, and the menu confirmed, that for main course there was a choice between chicken or beef pies. Normally you have to choose your food months before the actual day but we had never been asked what we wanted. The answer was that large dishes consisting of nine portions where brought to the tables. Those with an apron and hat were then responsible for dishing out the pies; I was responsible for a beef pie.

It was really quite fun helping with the food, especially when it came to bartering with the other "chefs" for seconds! Yet again another feature of the day that was very different to anything I'd experienced at any wedding I've ever been invited to. I'm sure it will stick out as a memorable day for everyone who was there -- for me (ignoring my own wedding) it is second only in unique memories to my cousins wedding, which included a car chase that could easily have been a deleted scene from the Italian Job (note to self: that actually might make a good blog post at some point).

Once again congratulations to Rob and Rhona!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

I Do Exist, Honest!

After a stressful day I appear to exist once again. If you tried to visit my blog yesterday you would have seen that it had been removed. Worse than that Google had decided to suspended my entire account. That meant I lost access not only to all my blogs, but photos in picasa, my calendars, my gmail account, and my Google+ profile. It was almost as if I no longer existed (online). I filled in the contact us form to request my account back and then almost a day later I got this e-mail from Google:
We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. The issue you described should now be resolved.
I don't think I've ever been quite so relieved. While the whole experience was a bit of a nightmare it did get me thinking about how I could keep backups of all my Google data in case something similar happened again in the future. After a little bit of hunting around the web (via Google of course) I came across the Data Liberation Front.

The Data Liberation Front is a Google engineering team who are trying to make it easy to liberate your data from Google products. This is useful for either moving your data to a competing service or for simply backing it up locally.

They have step by step instructions on exporting your data from most of Google's products, but they are also developing Google Takeout. Google Takeout brings together a number of the export tools into a simple interface allowing you to select which data you want to download. It then collects the data together into a single zip file that you can easily download and archive. Currently it supports: +1’d sites, Buzz, Contacts and Circles, Picasa Web Albums, Profile, and Google+ Stream. As far as I can tell the aim is to add more products to this list and I'd certainly appreciate Blogger being included.

So if you don't have a recent backup of your Google hosted data maybe now is the time to do something about it.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Name Of The Table

As I mentioned, way back in the first post about Rob and Rhona's wedding, the table names were as interesting as the place cards. Each table was named after an alcohol serving establishment with some significance to the bride and/or groom; I did want to say pub, but actually the table we were sat at wasn't named after a pub.

As soon as a I saw the table names I knew were we would be sat even before I'd found our names. One of the tables was called "The Leadmill". Now that might not mean anything to most people reading this but to anyone who went to Sheffield University around the time Rob and I did it needs no introduction. For everyone else the table sign tells the story: Where all good Sheffield nights end (unless you count the burger van).

I'm not sure there is much else to say other than that, just like the place cards, this was a really clever idea, and not something I've seen done before.