The Half-Eaten Mind and myself are proud to announce that we have been invited to participate in the Workspace Blog Hop. The hop is a blogging initiative where the blogger is given an opportunity to share something about themself and the place where their pictures, poems, news stories or novels come to life. I would like to thank Sally Cronin of the blog “Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life” for tagging me in the WBH and giving you an exclusive sneak peek into my blog’s newsroom, where we bring you cutting-edge news and amazing features every weekend.
I thought I’d start first with a bit of background information on the kind of place I live at. I’m from London, England, U.K. and for the moment I live in a houseshare in Plaistow, in the east of London. I live with the landlord, plus three other guys, who hail from India, Japan and Portsmouth here in England. My house sits right next to a junction just behind Plaistow Police Station, so needless to say the traffic around here can be rather noisy. Where I live isn’t a prosperous area, but it’s alright. I have two Iceland supermarkets and a Tesco store within easy walking distance, plus there’s a few good local attractions including a leisure centre, library and Plashet Park a few bus stops away. I have been living here since the end of February 2013. I did not begin the blog here though. That happened at my previous houseshare in Morley Road, Stratford, just across the border from here in Plaistow. My property manager/housemate, who was not a pleasant fellow in the slightest, evicted me from that residence with only two weeks’ notice. Ostensibly he blamed me for wasting electricity just because once I had forgotten to turn off the kitchen light, but now I suspect he just wanted to move someone else in who he could charge higher rent too.
My current room does not win much praise from me. I took the room only as an emergency measure. It’s essentially a box room, small, cluttered and a tad claustrophobic, but I call it home. I was originally looking to eventually move into a one-bedroom flat, but London is a notoriously expensive city and even small flats and studio places are ridiculously pricey. My current landlord has recently raised the rent by an eye-watering amount so it looks like I’ll be bumming around on Gumtree and Zoopla looking for a bigger, but cheaper, room. While my newsroom may not be buzzing with reporters and sweaty-collared editors, poring over banks of PC screens and TVs blaring out the latest breaking news via CNBC or Russia Today, it has the advantage of being portable and therefore easy to set up anywhere with a power supply and a plug socket. Hotdesking par excellence!.
My workspace is also my bedroom, with the usual wardrobe (closet) and chest-of-drawers. I have a single window that affords great views of the neighbours’ backyards and I often see foxes and squirrels milling around the place after dark. The wildlife here are almost as exciting as the shouting drunks that are always stumbling home around here.
This delightfully framed portrait is where the Half-Eaten Mind magic happens. The desk is small but manageable. All my stories and articles are penned on the spot using the laptop you can see. My trusty Toshiba Satellite C660 has been my portal to the internet and loyal office assistant for the past four years now, ever since I had to haul its ass home from the Argos store in Victoria, central London, where I used to work. I actually picked up this babe during my lunchtime. My Tosh is still working fine, albeit a bit more slowly, but still working a dream.
The cool snazzy mouse with the blue lights and red laser was purchased separately from eBay, and although it is futuristic, it’s had its day and I may soon need a replacement. There’s no room on the desk for any fancy stuff like potted plants and picture frames, but I managed to squeeze in a fan, which keeps me cool during summer or when the landlord has cranked on the heating on too high during the colder nights.
The desk, apart from being my workplace and escape zone, also functions as a place to stash my journalism portfolio from when I was at university, my stamps and banknote collections and some important paperwork. There is a recess at the back of the desk where I stash, and hopefully not forget about, any important letters or forms I have to deal with. Right now there is a letter from the borough council concerning postal vote registration which I need to get an envelope and stamp, as they never bothered to enclose a pre-paid one with the form.
I use the Chrome browser when working on the blog or doing internet research and activities, whether pertaining to the blog or not. The Chrome is fast and responsive in my opinion. With the news articles I publish, I use a variety of sources, in particular from news articles posted on my Facebook news feed or from tweets from media organisations I follow on Twitter. I also sometimes make use of press releases from the journalism.co.uk website, an information resource for journalists and PR professionals, who send me an email packed with them every Monday or so. I also get submissions for articles (mainly features) from friends and external contributors. Regardless of the source, it is this laptop where every weekend, I get comfy on my upholstered blue revolving chair and transform into HEM editor and roving reporter, literally from the comfort of my own armchair. I usually start writing around 11:00-12:00 in the morning, after a shower and breakfast, so I feel sufficiently fresh and energised to begin typing. A news story can take as little as thirty minutes to polish off, but some longer articles and features can take as much as two hours from start to finish. It depends. After I publish each blogpost, I visit the HEM Facebook fan page to share the article on my own Facebook, plus with any friends or family who I feel are interested or who originally suggested the story idea. I also do the same on Twitter. I then share on Twitter all of the articles and sources I used in the crafting of the piece, followed by the related articles that I add at the bottom of each published piece. These ‘related articles’ are automatically suggested by a plugin I use, named Zemanta. Zemanta’s really useful in that it ‘reads’ what you are typing and then makes suggestions for these articles, plus images, as you type up.
This device is also very important in my blogging. While it may look like a reject from Beyonce’s jewellery box, it is in fact a Sandisk Cruzer Facet USB drive (memory stick) with around 15 gigabytes of memory. Sandisk is one of the most regarded producers of USB drives and memory cards in the world, and I wanted a quality piece of equipment to hold the images from my blog. This stick is essential, as nearly all of the images I use to spice up each blogpost is then stored on here as a virtual gallery and archive. I do this as it means if an image vanishes from an article becuase the website it is attached to goes down or the relevant link dies, I have a backup copy on this drive ready and waiting to replace it. For extra peace of mind, I also save the images onto a cloud, my Google Drive. Better safe than sorry, don’t you think. I made this picture using a blurred edge photo border in Lunapic, which gives it the appearance of being set behind a fancy glass frame. Admittedly I did goof up on the hashtag on the bottom of the image. It should read #WorkspaceBlogHop, not #WorkplaceBlogHop, but it is astonishingly similar sounding how ‘workplace’ and ‘workspace’ are. In the background of the image above you can also see my bed, complete with psychedelic pillow!. The rest of my room is a bit messy and is overdue a spring clean. That and its size means I decided not to take pictures, but I’d thought instead I’d give you a Google Street View image of the junction I live near.
It’s exactly the view I see whenever I step out to go places or have a cigarette break. The red corrugated iron sheet ‘shed’ is in fact a Gospel Printing Mission that produces religious materials for a local church. The area I live in is highly multicultural and there’s a lot of people from west Africa particularly here, many of which are church-going Christians. The police station, which has a massive car park, is the small, castle-like building with the blue turret towards the centre of the screenshot. This is mostly a residential area and I see a lot of families with young children heading this way to go to the nursery further down Cumberland Road.
And also…here’s another screenshot, this time of my Google Drive, where we stash the pictorial stuff. Our little secret!!
A rabbit feels more comfortable to hop about if there are other rabbits to hop around with. Taking this lesson from our bunny friends, I would like to invite the following people to come join me in the Workspace Blog Hop and share with us their blogging workspaces. Attendance isn’t compulsory but it is a great way to give your friends and blog followers a glimpse into your blogging zone.
My six Hoppers are:
Sally’s article and her very fascinating blog hop can be found here: My Workspace blog Hop -Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life