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My Personal Top 5 for 2006

von Armin am 16.12.2006

Mid December, today in a week I’ll be on a plane on my way to Germany to see my parents and sister over Christmas. A lot of blogs are writing their reviews of the year, so I thought I might do the same. To save time and be able to crosspost I decided to do it in Top 5 style. Here we go, my highlights (mixed with a few lowlights) for this year:

  • 5. Nikon D70 (and the lenses for it)

    I actually bought my Nikon D70 back in 2004 and Nikon has since replaced it with the D80 (Here’s the page for the D70s), but I have no intentions of replacing it. It still does a fantastic job and I’m really happy with it. Soon I hope to add a new lens to it, the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor. I’ve heard excellent things about this lens, so even without having actually used it yet I can probably declare it to be my personal gadget of this year.

  • 4. Hard Facts

    I’m actually still reading it, but even from what I’ve read Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton is already on top of my list. Linked to it, here’s a podcast with Bob Sutton about Hard Facts at IT Conversations. Some of the topics of the book are covered in Three Myths of Management, which should give you a good idea what the book is about.

  • 3. My Secret Is My Silence

    I haven’t bought many CDs this year, on the contrary, I actually got rid of quite a few (and still have some to sell off). Nevertheless, if there’s a CD of the year for me it is Roddy Woomble’s My Secret Is My Silence. There’s a bit of Idlewild in it, but also a lot more ‘folksy’ tunes. He also had some excellent support, which probably helped a bit. Either way, on heavy rotation for the last several months and probably for a long time to come.

  • 2. Walking on Islay

    Regular readers will know of my fondness of the Isle of Islay, after all I even started a blog about Islay earlier this year. They will also know that I quite like to get out for some walking, some of the best walking I’ve done this year happened to be on Islay. In particular the walk to Bholsa and Rhuvaal comes to my mind, another one was a walk near Lossit Bay during my summer holidays. Unfortunately that part of the Scotland Summer 2006 travelogue isn’t complete yet, I’ll have to see when I can get that done.

  • 1. My Family and Friends

    Just before I left for my summer holiday I was told I was going to be made redundant, late in the summer I left Intel and had to find a new job. I’ve started in a new job recently, but the road there wasn’t easy. There were (and to an extent still are, but I’m not ready to blog about that yet, possibly might never be) a few other worries added to being unemployed soon after it happened. In other words a very difficult and challenging time.

    One of the most important factors which helped me to get through it was the moral support by my family and friends. I spent a lot of time on Skype talking with my mother and sister, received supportive e-mails from friends and other bloggers and met with some over a pint. Without you I think I would have really struggled to stay sane. I hope I can give at least some of it back some day should anyone I know be in a similar situation.

And that was my 2006, or at least parts of it. A lot happened during the year, some I’ve blogged about, some I haven’t and some I wouldn’t even think blogging about. Now on to 2007…

Note: This entry was crossposted from Ministry of Propaganda – 16/Dec/2006: “My Personal Top 5 for 2006″

H1 2006 Blog Discoveries

von Armin am 01.07.2006

It’s been a while since I last blogged in English on this blog, time to do it again. Also easier should I decide to crosspost it on my main blog later.

This is a blog, right? Sometimes bloggers write about other blogs. So do I, here are five blogs I added to my RSS aggregator subscriptions this year:

  • 5. Ricardo’s Blog

    A blog from a continent we probably don’t read much of here in Europe (apart from now during the Football World Cup): Latin and South America. Ricardo is from Mexico, but lives in Brazil and blogs at Ricardo’s Blog. Oh, and we share the same employer, which is how I found his blog.

  • 4. Blogrolle

    The only German blog making it on to my H1 2006 list. The Blogrolle author works as an executive for the online portal of Germany’s biggest tabloid newspaper, although that’s not the focus of his blog, instead he writes about various technology topics

  • 3. Get Rich Slowly

    Most people try to get rich quick, sometimes it’s better to Get Rich Slowly. Some of the content is US centric, but I still find interesting thoughts and ideas about personal finance and related topics almost daily.

  • 2. NevilleHobson.com

    I’m not entirely sure if this might have been very late 2005 discovery, but then I only really started reading (and subscribing) to it in 2006, so it makes the list: NevilleHobson.com is Neville Hobson’s (now there’s a surprise) blog about communication and PR. Quite a lot of interesting stuff to find here.

  • 1. Silversprite

    John Kirriemuir grew up in the Vale of Evesham (that’s not too far from Swindon, where I live), but now lives on the Isle of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides, where he blogs on Silversprite (also the name of his consultancy business). He writes about life in the Outer Hebrides, beaches and “the application of Internet-based technologies in island and remote locations”. Great beach pictures as well.

These were my top 5 discoveries for the first half of 2006, I hope the second half will be as good!

A Good Read

von Armin am 31.12.2005

On the way to recovery and returning to blogging after an unintended break due to a nasty cold (I blame the woman sitting behind me in the plane coughing all over the place) it’s time for the last entries for 2005. First another crossposting in English to this as well as my own blog. I read a number of books this year (not all of them came out this year, some are older but I only read them this year), here are the five I enjoyed most:

  • 5. Before The Frost

    When I wrote about Before The Frost by Henning Mankell earlier this year I wasn’t entirely convinced. But looking back it was still a good read, partly because Ian Rankin hasn’t published an Inspector Rebus story this year. Not sure if there will be one in 2006, if there is one it can compete with The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell which I plan to read soon.

  • 4. Status Anxiety

    Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton was a tough yet fascinating read. I sometimes found the book difficult to follow but it describes some interesting background about status and why we worry what others think of us. I found the influence of religion and how it kept people in their place particularly interesting. Certainly gave me food for thought.

  • 3. Freakonomics

    A book hyped in a lot of blogs, magazines and newspapers, Freakonomics by Steven D Levitt & Stephen J Dubner was a good book but still somehow failed to fulfil my (probably too high) expectations. Certainly some fascinating ideas and analysis about hidden factors and why incentives don’t always work as intended (e.g. because instead of motivating they provide an excuse), but for me in particular the last chapter let the book down. I somehow expected a really exciting revelation or idea, 25 pages about childrens names just didn’t do it for me. Still a very good book though, otherwise it wouldn’t have made it to number three.

  • 2. Lost For Words

    Kind of bought by accident (I had a voucher to use up and this was the book I could find for it) this book turned out to be a very interesting read. Lost for Words: The Mangling and Manipulating of the English Language by John Humphrys is about the use of language in particular by politicians, bureaucrats and business. It doesn’t provide solutions but should make you think. See also my earlier comments on Lost for Words.

  • 1. The Paradox of Choice

    I had this book on my list to buy and read for quite a while and this Christmas finally got round to read The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz. To an extent written from an US perspective I still found a lot of parallels in the UK, in particular with our politicians constantly waffling on about ‘choice’. Very well written with good examples I also felt lead through the book to concluding chapter about how to deal with too much choice. Highly recommended, especially if you are more a ‘maximizer’ than a ’satisficer’.

Und zum Schluss: Guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr!

Heavy Rotation 2005

von Armin am 22.12.2005

When I started contributing to the Top 5 Weblog (a German weblog with, you guessed correctly, Top 5 lists) Schuer told me: Viel Spaß, lass’ dich ordentlich aus im Blog. Auch mal auf Englisch, wenn du willst. Today I’m going to take him up on that, in particular the second part. I’m crossposting the entry on my own blog as well as the Top 5 blog, in English. But now to the real topic of this entry, my Top 5 albums of this year:

I have to say that I haven’t really bought that many CDs this year, may be 10-15, so the choice wasn’t that difficult. Sorry Einbecker, but apart from may be two or three songs Don’t Believe The Truth from Oasis was crap. Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm was better but still didn’t make the list. Anyway, without further ado, here’s my list, the CDs on heavy rotation in 2005 (and probably 2006):

  • 5. Teenage Fanclub: Man-Made

    Admittedly one of their weaker CDs (and therefore only #5), but still, it’s Teenage Fanclub. A Top 5 without Teenage Fanclub just wouldn’t be complete. I’d say Man-Made is a fairly mellow album with more great melodies from my favourite Glaswegian band, the opener It’s All In My Mind being one of my favourites.

  • 4. Idlewild: Warnings/Promises

    Love Steals Us From Loneliness was the single from Warnings/Promises, my favourite was Welcome Home. Lots of guitars and warm melodies in the style I like on this album.

  • 3. The Raveonettes: Pretty In Black

    A large part of my soundtrack of this summer, in particular the single Love In A Trashcan by this Danish duo. But Pretty In Black also has other great songs like My Boyfriend’s Back, Here Comes Mary and Twilight. Some faster, some slower. Some more guitar, some more synth. Some of them reminding me of film noir.

  • 2. Maxïmo Park: A Certain Trigger

    I discovered this fairly late in the year, but it has been on heavy rotation since. A Certain Trigger has almost no song where I hit the skip button and I find it difficult to name a favourite song on it. If pressed I’d probably opt for either Going Missing or The Coast Is Always Changing (the latter among other for the use of the word ‘riposte’, a lovely word)

  • 1. The Cardigans: Super Extra Gravity

    I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer started it all off. What a song to announce the new album with! And Super Extra Gravity has more of the same. Godspell and Give Me Your Eyes, not to forget the slower And Then You Kissed Me II to name a few on this very dark album. Sweden has more to offer than Abba.

Who will make it on to my list next year? Non-European bands are missing completely from it this year, which has two Scottish, one Geordie, one Danish and one Swedish band. And how many of these bands will follow up with another excellent album and be on my list again?