Khaled Abou Alfa

Journal

I’ve had a Pinboard account for several years now. I’ve used it reasonably diligently over the years, but it’s been one way. Links get put into it, but are hardly every taken out of it.

The main reason behind this has been the available interfaces for using this particular service have been diabolically rubbish. That includes the native online experience.

Over the years I’ve hunted in the App store to find a solution and the available ones felt over-priced and didn’t meet my requirements. Enter Spillo by Bananafish Software. Exquisite is the only way to describe this app.

Although there are a plethora of features that I love, my favourite has to be the smart collections. Now at least, when I really don’t want to have something that clutters up my Evernote collections, there is a space for it here in Spillo.

I’ve had a Pinboard account for several years now. I’ve used it reasonably diligently over the years, but it’s been one way. Links get put into it, but are hardly every taken out of it.

The main reason behind this has been the available interfaces for using this particular service have been diabolically rubbish. That includes the native online experience.

Over the years I’ve hunted in the App store to find a solution and the available ones felt over-priced and didn’t meet my requirements. Enter Spillo by Bananafish Software. Exquisite is the only way to describe this app.

Although there are a plethora of features that I love, my favourite has to be the smart collections. Now at least, when I really don’t want to have something that clutters up my Evernote collections, there is a space for it here in Spillo.

I’ve launched a campaign for the 1st edition t-shirt of my comic book series Moon Racket!.

Head on over to the Teespring page and show your support. Thanks.

Concerto

During the last 9 months leading up to Zane’s arrival, Yasmine decided it was good necessary that we listen only to classical music when travelling in the car. As she is also against Bluetooth (and technology in general), we actually bought several CDs for the car.

The outcome of this antiquated method of listening to music basically meant that we were listening to the same CDs on repeat. Earlier this evening Zane was a little upset, so we put on the CD.

The first track is J.S.Bach’s Concerto in D Minor for 2 Violins, BWV 1043. Within seconds of the first note being played, Zane’s face honestly lit up and he smiled in a way we’ve not seen since he was born. They really can hear everything in the womb.

Zane

1 week ago today that’s Thursday 29th of May, I arrived home and Yasmine is faffing around telling me that we’ve got to sort out my bag for the hospital and that she’s got several errands that she wants to run over the weekend (cut her hair, pop into Mothercare for some last minute items). I nod my head, not registering everything after an excessively long week at work.

A few hours later, while sitting (and trying to decompress) on the couch, watching something completely irrelevant, Yasmine calls me from the bathroom. I drag myself to the bathroom to see what she wants.

Honey, I think my water has broken.

In a moment of Hollywood weakness I tried to show that I wasn’t worried.

We’re about to have a baby!

I knew that labour was going to be tough but my god I was NOT expecting the drama that would unfold over the next 20 hours. Obviously I now have a much deeper appreciation pregnant women and what they have to go through. For the course of 9 months they endure morning sickness (stupid and incorrect name, it should be called all day, at any time sickness but maybe morning was more catchy?), pains, aches, heartburn, funny bowl movements, general discomfort when you’re hauling around an extra 16kg of weight.

You’d think that was enough right? Wrong. After they’ve endured all of that, they’re treated to MANY hours of torture. After that is done, then you get the discomforts associated with healing and a messy hormonal system. In my engineering mind I kept thinking, there must be a better more efficient way right (that didn’t involve cutting a woman open for a c-section)?

The 20 hours of labour tested my resolve completely. Seeing your wife in excruciating pain for HOURS is hard when all you can do is wait, pace, loose some sleep and worry. The last 30 minutes before Zane was born was easily one of the most difficult times in our lives together or apart.

However…

I can’t even begin to describe the elation one feels when you see your first born child. It’s a feeling unlike one I’ve ever and will probably ever feel again - for those that have experienced it you know what I’m talking about, for those that are considering it I highly recommend it. I stayed at the top of the bed and when the doctor raised Zane he was blue and red and yet instantly my eyes just became completely overwhelmed with tears. Those tears didn’t leave for several hours. In fact nearly a week later I still can feel the tears starting to come back to me as I write this.

So I sit here 1 week to the day and I marvel at our son and the long journey to bring him here. How did 1 week go by already?

Get Organised

It’s the quiet before the imminent arrival of little Zane. We’ve bought all the gear, gone to the antenatal classes and now the waiting game begins. So I’ve decided (belatedly I’ll admit) to take some time and get my digital house in order.

I decided to take a step back and reviewed what software solutions I have at my disposable and start putting the correct kind of information into each bucket.

Dropbox

Previously I had relied almost exclusively on Dropbox to provide me with all of my synced document needs. Dropbox is amazing for so many things but it’s become clear that the folder structure keeps things hidden - to the point that I don’t even remember I had certain files and it’s definitely not the most secure of places for the more sensetive documents.

Active Projects - I’m using Dropbox as both a backup tool and a versioning tool as well (sure I should be using Github for that, but this works for me).

Sharing Documents - I share a great deal of files at work with different people in different companies. Dropbox has been a lifesaver for this sort of task.

Backups - Photos from my iPhone make their way into the photos folder in Dropbox. I’ve created a backup folder that collects my social media output (Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr) into one place. To do that I’m using IFTTT, which is a great little service for this sort of thing.

1Password

All sensetive information gets put into the vault. The feature that galvanised this solution for me is the ability to add multiple attachments to any account or item. As such all of my bank statements get added in there, fully encrypted and ready to be accessed on the go if necessary.

Evernote

Evernote is the latest addtion to my organisational workflow. I have to wonder why I didn’t try this suite before. Actually scrap that, I did try this suite out years ago but I just couldn’t get into the version at the time. The biggest advantage for me is the fact that multiple types of data can be combined into a single note. I can have a pdf, with a link, a note and a zip file all in a single note for easy review and access.

It’s going to take a while to get everything in here, but I have faith that once it’s done, I’ll be able to access things much faster.

Simplenote

This is my scratchpad. Simplenote is used for all those pieces of information that are not sensetive in anyway but that would be useful being accessed quickly.

For the last 2 years, I have been onsite on the Qatar National Museum. QM (Qatar Museums) recently published a video online giving glimpses into the making of this project.

(Source: youtube.com)

I absolutely adore these adverts created by AMC as their markers for the upcoming Emmy awards - see the rest of them at the Hollywood Reporter. One of the things that I’ll miss about Mad Men (when the series is over) are the colours that are attached to this world.

I absolutely adore these adverts created by AMC as their markers for the upcoming Emmy awards - see the rest of them at the Hollywood Reporter. One of the things that I’ll miss about Mad Men (when the series is over) are the colours that are attached to this world.

Changes

There was a time in my life where I remember that I resented change. It was something that I later came to understand was actually a major component of life. Major change can either come in regular doses, or can wait dormantly, in the shadows for years.

Change is everywhere at the moment.

We’re gearing up for our first baby’s imminent arrival, which has honestly completely consumed our every free moment.

At work, yesterday was Naresh and Max’s last day onsite. I sat next to Naresh for the last 2 years as we saw the building go from a hole in the ground to something much, much more. We’ve effectively been in the ‘trenches’ together (at least the engineering/construction trenches) and while we’ve not come out unscratched, I think we’ve both learnt an incredible amount, from each other.

Don’t fight change. Embrace it. Life will be easier that way.

Focus and Freedom

I missed this.

For 10 years I’ve published to the internet through Broken Kode. These last few years that site has meandered a great deal, but has now finally settled down to a very focused topic, which ironically is what is was always intended in the first place, namely a process site for my comic book and creative work.

Although I intend to rebrand it (and therefore discontinue the name that has held up for 10 years), I think the change will be a positive one.

This site (khaledaboualfa.co) is wearing it’s heart on it’s sleeve. There will likely be little focus, which is actually by design. My intention is to give myself the room and space to express myself and my thoughts freely and comment on any topic that happens to capture my imagination at the time. Hopefully I’ll get some people to stay for the ride.

Like I said I missed this.

Two things I take from the cast photo for the new Star Wars movie:

That’s a real interesting way of revealing the entire cast of the movie.
Although not front and centre, love that the attention is on Harrison Ford because of R2D2 right behind him.

Two things I take from the cast photo for the new Star Wars movie:

  1. That’s a real interesting way of revealing the entire cast of the movie.

  2. Although not front and centre, love that the attention is on Harrison Ford because of R2D2 right behind him.

Weight

Since I got married (nearly 3 years ago) I’ve put on around 10kg (around 1.5 stone or 22 pounds). Yeah that’s a lot. I don’t blame my lovely wife for this additional weight, but rather a combination of my lifestyle in the Middle East (very little required movement) and my body’s very slow metabolism.

Earlier this year I decided that enough was enough and that I would do something about this situation. Apart from general health issues associated with gaining the above weight, by wardrobe is useless, which then affects my general comfort/confidence levels as well.

Proof of Concept

Like any self respecting geek, I turned to my trustiest device to help me out, my iPhone 4. I tried several fitness apps, but settled on the Pacer app. While not the prettiest app, it gave me basic information, the number of steps I was making and calories burned, in graph form, mapped over a week.

I realised that having this information drove me to be more active. I have yet to achieve 10,000 steps a day. I average anywhere between 6000-8000 steps per week, however I realised that the exercise that I was doing was not being logged properly. My gym machines indicated a much higher level of activity, that my phone wasn’t capturing.

All the Gear…

I decided to get a little bit more serious about this weight loss malarky. There was one thing to it, buy more gadgets that would help me achieve my goals, obviously.

The first accessory that I bought was a pair of sweat proof earphones - I cannot tell you how many Apple earbuds I’ve destroyed due to my excessive sweating over the years. The Sennheiser OCX 685i Sports headphones came highly recommended (and they are great).

The next purchase was my Fitbit One. The truth is I didn’t jump into this world quickly. I used the Pacer app for a solid 2 months before making the jump into the Fitbit world. I’m still getting to grips with the website and the app (although syncing with my current setup isn’t as smooth as it could be 1 ), but I like what I see so far.

The last part of my gear was a new set of scales. Actually, I’ve not owned scales in 3 years, which probably explains a great deal for the general decent into obesity. So here’s a tip kids, make sure you own scales and get on them once a week. If anything it will highlight things that you’re generally scared of.

I hope that the data that I compile will help me make better decisions in the kitchen (after all a diet starts in the kitchen) and that it will motivate me to be more active, more regularly, even if only a little more every day.


  1. The biggest bummer is that my trusted iPhone 4 since it does not support wireless sync with the Fitbit One. I’m therefore relegated to using the little dongle connected to my computer - hardly the biggest hardship. 

Perseverance

Maintaining focus with your side projects is a difficult task. Life doesn’t always give you all the time and space to do this at your leisure, then again life doesn’t owe you anything and it’s up to you to use the time that you do have available wisely.

Currently I am publishing Moon Racket weekly and have finished writing the script for my next project. Work on the new project is going well, as I’ve also managed to draw the first couple of pages of this series, with the hope of actually publishing it at the start of the new year - also on a weekly publishing programme.

I sometimes lament the time that’s come and gone that I could have used to create the art and words; however the main problem was understanding that sometimes you have to take the plunge, create something (even if it’s not up the standard that you want it to be), with the understanding that the more you do something, the better you eventually become at it.

Moon Racket, Episode 01 - Beginnings

The first episode of my weekly comic strip, Moon Racket - I am still sorting out the official website.

Until I get that sorted, lots of good things happening on the Facebook page, so go like the page to get it delivered in your stream if that’s your thing.

Alternatively, you can follow us on Twitter (if that’s more your thing).

Moon Racket, Episode 01 - Beginnings

The first episode of my weekly comic strip, Moon Racket - I am still sorting out the official website.

Until I get that sorted, lots of good things happening on the Facebook page, so go like the page to get it delivered in your stream if that’s your thing.

Alternatively, you can follow us on Twitter (if that’s more your thing).

Look what I got for my birthday, now on my drawing table. I also got the amazing Sigma 30mm F2.8 lens which this photo was taken with.

Look what I got for my birthday, now on my drawing table. I also got the amazing Sigma 30mm F2.8 lens which this photo was taken with.

Muji Stationary - Sometimes the best stationary is also the most affordable. The A5 notebook, and 0.38mm gel ink pens have been my stationary loves for many years.