Time off

As I think I may have previously mentioned, I’ve taken the next week-and-a-bit off work to (hopefully) finish Christmas shopping and relax a bit as I unwind toward the extended Festive period and parties.

I tend to forget about taking holidays during the year which usually leaves me with something of a glut around about now. In fact, I actually have just over a fortnight to finish polishing a few things off at work before getting back underway properly in early 2017.

It also means I’ve only a few days to think of a what to do as a challenge in December.

Know yourself

I’m a regular platelet donor and try to get along to the blood donor centre once a month. I say “try to” as I’m sometimes forced to take a break for a few months due to my iron levels being ever so slightly too low. This has happened a few times now and has been puzzling me for a while.

I eat my greens, red meat, eggs, drink red wine and — on my mother’s insistence — have been known to take iron supplements. All of this has been to no avail.

After the last occurrence back in August, I did some extra research. It turns out that caffeine can inhibit the body’s absorption of iron so I’ve reduced my intake since September’s monthly challenge to cut it out completely.

It looks like this has done the trick. My iron count before this evening’s donation was the highest it’s been for a long time. I had a chat with the staff about this and they also mentioned that taking vitamin C with a meal can help absorb the iron in food.

Hopefully this knowledge means that I can get back to an uninterrupted schedule of giving.

I’ll be watching you

I was reading with interest about TfL’s plans for tracking passenger movement throughout the London Underground via WiFi and MAC addresses. I got to wondering about how this would even work with MAC address randomisation. With some further research it seems to have been implemented extremely poorly — at least in previous versions of iOS; I have no idea how effective it is these days.

On the same day, Google announced an expansion to their previous harvesting of location data, with new real-time tracking of how busy locations are, just in time for the annual disgusting displays of consumerism, a.k.a. Black Friday. Mass triangulation to gauge footfall is nothing new of course, but adding immediacy to the availability of the data adds an interesting dimension.

Of course, this data is all anonymised and of great potential usefulness — if not abused. I just wonder how many people are aware that it’s even happening.

We’re in the last week or so of November, which means two things. Firstly, I’ve only several more days on which to try and write a blog post. Secondly, Edinburgh is getting into full-swing Christmas mode — although it’s been on the horizon since mid-October when the Dome put up their decorations. I’m yet to see a Lothian Bus driver in a Santa suit but that doesn’t usually happen until well into December.

For a change, I’m well underway with my Christmas shopping and, with a week-and-a-bit off work after Friday (which is also pay day, handily enough), I should finish up in plenty time and be able to have a (relatively) stress-free December.