Author Archives: Phill

Changes Afoot…

Keeping Up With Life

In an obvious “New Year, New Focus” type move, I’ve put some thought into how this website and blog has been used recently. It’s definitely a personal labour of love and a place to share my experiences. It’s also a staging post for the #12×100 Monthly Cycling Challenge. Those things are not in dispute.

But, recently I’ve been putting a lot more time into my Photography work. As a result, I’m rejigging the site to reflect this change. When you land on the main site, you’ll see the Photography page first from now on. Over time, the layout will change to a more “galleryesque” (that’s a real word: I invented it) view to showcase some of the things I’ve been doing.

You might also notice that I’m asking for enquiries about Photographic work. I’m serious: if you want photos taken, I just might be your man. I’m very reasonable and sometimes quite talented. Other people have said so.

So stick with me. I’m not going to force my photography down your throat. That would be uncomfortable and time-consuming for us both. Many things around here will stay the same. Cycling, camping, the outdoors, gadgets and diabetes will all still be discussed here. Hopefully the imagery will add to the site, not take away from it.

If you’re curious, have a quick look at my images on Flickr or 500px. Let me know what you think of them. Indeed, let me know how they could be better! Every day’s a school day.


Tell ’em Phill sent you 🙂

Accu-Chek Mobile, new blood glucose meter

Just received a new meter from Accu-Chek, the ‘Mobile‘.

It’s a clever and thoughtful design, I like the way they’ve incorporated the pricker into the side of the device. It is a little bigger than I’d like though: I use the Nano at the moment (2 of them, one at home and one at work) so I’ll see whether this is really practical to take everywhere with me.

The biggest innovation here is the use of a cassette to give 50 tests without needing to change, so the need for a separate tub of test strips is removed. Therefore, everything you need is in the one tidy case. They even send one of two free carry-cases for it if you register your device – nice incentive!

I use a manbag (I know, metrosexual) so maybe it’ll work for me. I can see how blokes wouldn’t want to carry yet another device around though.

The thought that’s gone into the PC connection seems good too. You can set it to either fire up the special software or a web service. I’ll try the web service when I have enough results, as I use a couple of separate laptops regularly, like most folks who have desk jobs, I guess.


What do you think?

I received mine free, via an email offer from the Accu-Chek folks so see if it’s still available if you fancy trying one out. Don’t forget, you may need to change your repeat prescription for the new test cartridges and pricker lancets. Tell ’em Phill sent you! 🙂

My Photos on 500px – Take A Look?

I’ve been taking my photography a little more seriously recently and part of that has been to put the photos I’m proud of onto a couple of sharing sites. The sites I use are specifically for photography – Flickr and 500px.

My profiles can be found on:

Of the two, I think I prefer 500px. This is mainly down to the way it’s designed. The link is more simple, for a start. No random numbers and characters in the url. Usability just seems a bit better in 500px. It’s also easy to allow people to buy your work in 500px and whilst I think it’s very unlikely that anyone would buy my photos, seeing the amazing quality of other people’s stuff on there, the option to set this up easily is one I like.

What do you think?

Anyway, I’ve embedded a couple of images below so please do have a look and tell me what you think of them.


Sad Launch, Inchmurrin by Phill Connell on

Sad Launch, Inchmurrin
Phill Connell

Pink Leanings - Flower by Phill Connell on

Pink Leanings – Flower
Phill Connell

Tell the people at 500px that Phill sent you! 🙂

How To Engage People In Social Media Conversations

Seriously? Phill’s Giving Social Media Success Advice?

If you know me, you’ll know that I don’t take myself too seriously. I don’t take you too seriously either.

Get over it. I have. 🙂

So, How Do You Engage People In Social Media Conversations?

I’ve spent a few years growing up with social media. Facebook (shouty), Twitter (likened to a pub full of people, mostly interesting, some bonkers, some fake and you can easily drift around between conversations or just stand and watch), Google Plus (my favourite) and I’ve dabbled with a few of the others.

My experience, gained through the last few years of targeted, not-so-targeted and utterly random sharing of ideas, tells me what engages people more than anything else… so I’m going to give you the benefit of my experience. If you want to truly generate meaningful exchanges of invaluable information, maybe you’d better try another channel. If, however, you simply want to get people to respond to your thoughts, here’s what’s generated the best conversations for me:

 1. Biscuits.

Every time. Mention that you’re having a biscuit. Better still. Take a photo of it. BOOM! Responses. I’m telling you. Every time. Meaningful? Arguably not. Insightful? Not unless you’re a biscuit preference researcher. Fun? Yeah man.

Mmmmm Jammy Teacake

Mmmmm Jammy Teacake

Apparently a jammy teacake is 3 WeightWatchers points. Yes? And?

 2. Tattoos.

I’m not into tattoos. Saying this online almost always starts a discussion. Go figure. No, YOU go figure. I don’t care. But sometimes the discussions are pretty interesting.

3. Draw a picture of someone falling over / off a bike.

No really. I did this because I was having a sandwich, it was raining and I really needed a break from just looking at a computer screen. Then of course I posted it to a couple of social media sites. People LOVED it! Well, a bit.

I've Got This!

I’ve Got This!

I’m probably going to actually get a T-Shirt of my drawing made. Then I’ll post a picture of the T-Shirt to a couple of social media sites. Madness.

4. Take photos of bees having sex.

Not mine. But I saw it work for someone else. Apparently they don’t actually have sex, only the Queens procreate in the hive, but I bet they do it for fun and what the Queen doesn’t know won’t hurt her, am I right? I mean, who wants to collect pollen all day every day? Jees. Lighten up, bees. Live a little.

What Can You Do With This Amazing New Knowledge?

If you’re an entrepreneur looking for the silver bullet of social media success, you’ve come to the wrong place. I guess the main benefit you could draw from this article is the news that most people I connect with seem to use social media to provoke an interest in things which are a bit odd.

Scanning for news and views is great, but if you’re looking for responses, post something unusual which will make people stop and think, or else provoke a reaction with an opinion. Don’t forget though: people will dump you if you’re an idiot. I know I will. If you want to be liked, be likable.

So, give it a go. Tell ’em Phill sent you 🙂

Cycling With Prescription Lens Specs

Wearing Glasses On The Bike

I’ve worn glasses in my day-to-day life for about 25 years. With astigmatism and a total inability to focus my own eyes thanks to a side-effect of my diabetes, I rely completely on my glasses and have a fairly complex prescription (though I won’t bore you with the specifics). The point is, glasses have simply been a part of me for the majority of my life.

One result of this dependency was that when I took up cycling more regularly about 20 years ago – at first for a bit of extra exercise, then as a hobby, and now more as a lifestyle (or perhaps addiction) – I assumed it was best to just wear my glasses while on the bike. It doesn’t usually seem too bad: occasionally my glasses get a bit slippery when I start to sweat, and they certainly fog up now and then, which was annoying. But I didn’t really consider switching for a while.iStock_000020077511XSmall[1]

Now that my cycling can be a bit more intense and a bit more frequent, I get more uncomfortable in my glasses. I know there are alternatives. But the fact is, the massive selection of protective, athletic glasses, prescription sunglasses, and even eyewear made specifically for cycling can be a bit overwhelming. It seems like everyone I ask has a different recommendation, and I could never figure out which alternative corrective vision option seemed best.

More Choice These Days…

Over the years I’ve been riding about with my specs on, however, more options have become available. The first option I really explored in depth was prescription sunglasses, as even popular brands like Oakley now offer excellent sunnies which are appropriate for sport (a good friend reviewed some here). But, while these lenses can be comfortable and can certainly be great for vision correction, the bottom line is, they’re expensive to replace, meaning you’re entirely dependent on a single pair.

Instead, I decided to think about contact lenses, and looked at, for prescription contact lenses. All those years ago, when I first started wearing my ever-so-complex specs, I didn’t think I’d be able to find contact lenses which fitted the bill- hence my reliance on glasses! Also, I wasn’t sure how comfy they would be.

Contact lens

However, while I still often wear glasses in my day-to-day life, contacts have made significant strides over the years. There are now various lenses for various needs, designed to keep your eyes from drying out, while providing complete vision correction and, most importantly, staying put without irritation. My own varifocal optical miracles can now be replaced by a pair of contacts which enable me to wear a normal pair of sunnies over the top, or just get a tan without white stripes on the side of my head!

Of course, different people prefer different solutions. But given that glasses can slip and fog up, and that prescription sports goggles and glasses can be clunky and expensive (not to mention they can also limit your peripheral vision and fog up themselves), contact lenses are certainly worth looking into if you’re a regular cyclist.

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