HomeTech 101 – backing up

So. The time has come. My Apple Time capsule, beloved since 1903*, latest version released in 2016 and discontinued by Apple since 2018 when they disbanded the whole router and storage team. See Wikipedia for more details on this sad moment.

Should I go with the MyCloud from Western Digital? Seems to sync perfectly with Time Machine and provide enough flexibility for our needs at home of sharing video and photo files around the home wifi network – any access outside the home can be handled as needed through a web interface or mobile app which I have read a little on but will play with once purchased.

Any flags on purchasing a WD we should know before I hit the orange button on Amazon? Thanks in advance to both our subscribers…

*Slight exaggeration but please bring it back!

Featured Photo by Bonnie Moreland on StockSnap with thanks!

New Perspectives On Mobility

I sit here in a co-working space in London and am surrounding with a dynamic energy I want to bottle and breathe in, similarly to my Vicks Vaporub obsession when clogged and snotty, when labouring over a creative venture or uninspired study session.

And I love London. I am not at liberty to live and work here right now but it will always be an option and never been a daunting place for me or my now wife who loves the manners and etiquette and diplomacy she associates with this world capital.

Sitting amidst the throb of Bankside of a lunchtime, the smash and grab M&S Simply Food or Pret lunch bomb laced with avocado and new forms of protein less likely to offend a delicate humanoid in a newly conscious and woke get-up, and I notice how, apart from the static traffic queues, everyone is a pedestrian. The odd cyclist but mainly a walker. Ooo a Brompton just flew past! Why the dirth of scooters, electric or otherwise? They have really picked up in Dubai and are challenging the rental bikes on the streets for kerbspace nowadays, Marina-side at least.

But then I guess its simply too hot to contemplate movement powered from within back in the sandpit. It is hard enough to get out of the AC SUV cubicle, never mind switching to a more exposed, tactile, engaged form of mobility.

What do you think? to scoot or not to scoot? Are the London roads simply not wide enough for additional modes of zipping about?

Thinking Inside The Box: announcing the podcast

Well here it is: https://anchor.fm/jonathan-hirasawa-ashton

More than ten years after my first podcasting experience whilst living in London, here we are back again now that podcasts are the “it” place to be. Niche audiences, mobile devices looking for on-demand audio content, podcasts are growing in popularity indeed.

A recent research into the growing phenomenon by Markettiers, focused on my home market of the UAE, highlights several key reasons why this is where brands should be, based on a few key highlights as follows:

  1. Podcast listeners spend 25% more on food and drink than non podcast listeners

  2. Podcast listeners spend 25% more on entertainment and travel than non podcast listeners

  3. 93% of people who listen to a podcast, finish it

That last insight is particularly relevant in this day of fighting for the attention of your target audience. But what has this got to do with launching my own podcast? And, if you listen to it, you will realise that it isn’t particularly thrilling, compelling or useful. Yet.

But it will be. If just one of my lovely contacts and I find the time to drill into the creative challenges faced in the marketing communications arena. The point is, the podcast was inspired by the hackneyed term “thinking outside the box” and how communicators define their competitive advantage or otherwise on their own terms, i.e. what does their box look like.

To date, I have yet to invite someone else into my audio space. But it will happen. And when it does, I sincerely hope it will prove useful to my audience. That’s where you come in.

Just in case you missed the link at the top: https://anchor.fm/jonathan-hirasawa-ashton



My First Haiku


Limited Japanese Rhyme

Speak like Yoda, I’m

Day Off


Fifty Five Dirhams,

Dubai Selfie Museum:

Shoot Thyself an Hour.



Mama left today,

Calm and silence rule the house

Empty MiNy.

A MiNy at Work

Work-life Balance

Third Day Back to Work,

Welcome, Hump Day, Welcome! Yes,

Mom Leaves Tomorrow!


Office Politics

Disco Inferno,

A Theatrical Success!

Work Pays Performance.


Ice Breaking

Happy Feet Humans!

Mix & Mingle with Penguins,

Black & White Thursday.

Musings on Microsoft

It was a random improvised visit to Virgin Megastore yesterday to purchase perhaps the most incredible audio experience we have had in some time. Miki wanted some distraction-free headphones so we plunged for the award-winning top-of-the-range Sony with some delight that Sony was still leading the charge in one aspect of its product line.

But then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a Microsoft display area, atop of which was the Surface. The gigantic touchscreen device I had seen released months or years before but never experienced up close. I was drawn in. As a decade-plus Macintosh fan (I write this now on my first generation MacBook that I adore to this day), something about a gigantic touchscreen yet also a fully-functional “normal” computer excites me.

It is also an area that Apple needs to pay attention to. The iPad-as-laptop option and constant focus on iOS as separate from MacOS is frustrating in some aspects. This may change in the near future as ARM chips infiltrate the desktop environment at the expense of Intel, allowing Apple more innovation internally, but right now Microsoft is making some incredible products.

The Microsoft pen you can use on all the Surface products feels way better than the Apple Pencil we bought a year or so ago. It invites you to use it and feels fantastic to do so, mistakes erased in the old school way of reversing the stylus and rubbing out with the other end. I am obviously a dinosaur because this just feels like the way you should erase.

My recent plea for a new work laptop to replace my aging Lenovo may need correcting – I requested a MacBook of some sort but may see if a Surface Pro is possible. I will be grateful for a newer anything, but one can always hope for something that invites you to create, the tablet-and-stylus format I can imagine will invite collaboration with clients and make for easier note taking and sketching, all for the enhancement of my client servicing.

Image courtesy of StockSnap.io

Ten Thousand Steps

This is it, folks. A new chapter for the Miny duo has started with 2019. Bikram has taken a back burner, Pilates still part of the mix, but the key ingredient these last two weeks has been achieving a solid number of steps per day. Ten thousand minimum, to be precise.

Doesn’t sound much I suppose, for those reading this living in sprawling metropoli such as London, Paris or New York, where walking is unconsciously auctioned like breathing, part of a daily commute, a daily grind is Dubai dwellers can easily omit. Here we are somewhat spoiled, living in our air conditioned capsules where a commute to work can typically include: leave the apartment, lift to parking, walk 50 steps max to the car, drive to office parking, walk 100 steps to office lift, park arse at desk for 9 hours minimum. Rinse and repeat on a daily basis.

Walking 3000 steps a day would be a normal day without a concerted effort. We have shifted our schedules to get up at 5am every day, prepare breakfast and be out walking around the Marina or on the beach well before sunrise. Not only does this, in our humble opinion, start your day the right way (breakfast and exercise, however mild), but also we find ourselves talking together more than ever. You simply can’t stare into your mobile phone when you’re trotting around the neighbourhood.

More to follow on this habit we are forming, if you’re lucky we might even blog a tad about our attempts at keto dieting and intermittent fasting.

An Ode To Catboy

I think of you now, the same as before:

The first MinyCat in our MinyLife for sure.

(Don’t tell GingerPants, but the one I adore.)

You left us directly, abruptly, from the 21st floor.

They called, I came, opened the bag, I saw

Your beautiful body still in shape, thankfully no gore.

In your sleeping state, you remain purrfect and pure

To the very end. Please don’t stir with a pained miaw.

Greeted home from work  daily with a hungry bawl

To fill the food bowl your only flaw;

Integral to a life in Dubai almost four

Years, almost as much as MinyWife, even more

Than the best of friends. My shaking pale paw

Drops the phone, screen smashes. Sod’s Law.

Both of us miss you terribly, though we abhor

The way you left us, through rose-tinted we’ll pore

Through memories tied to our core.

In memoriam of our finest feline friend: Melchior.

The final drag on a 27-year relationship

One of the saddest moments of my adult life was the day I decided to wave goodbye to my closest friends: Cigarettes. I had to quit this toxic relationship and I opted to say “adieu” instead of “bon voyage” on this occasion because too much was at stake, my life was at a crossroads and something had to give. I wonder if this was a sensible move because at this point, 6 months after going cold turkey, I am still questioning if I made the right decision. The scientific facts proclaim from the rooftops that cigarettes are evil, cancer-causing nasty wastes of money, but what about the other, less tangible considerations?

  • An Incandescent Affair

Of all my friends, I can safely say that Ciggy, as I talk about her now in retrospect, named in an attempt to box in and forget, was the one with whom I was the most intimate. She was always close to me, in the physical and emotional sense. A comforting silhouette of her pointy corners bulging out of my bag on a Friday night. The necessary prop to spark up conversation whilst huddled outside, us smokers forced to accept frequent freezing wet excursions to quench a very different kind of hunger.

The break away from my desk, walk down two flights of stairs to inspire the almost-meditational moment of inspiration, fresh perspective to crack a nagging problem. She was there at my lowest ebb, to pick me up after a bad meeting, a familiar arm around the shoulder when the now-ex messes up for the umpteenth time. She was even on my mind first thing in the morning, before coffee and even before MinyHubby. She used to be my everything.

  • A Burning Absence

On May 1st, I cut her out of my life, accepting without realizing that I was entering the excruciating path of the smoker’s Via Crucis. It has been 184 days – and counting – living and breathing – quite – well without her, but I still miss her. Past the first days of withdrawal symptoms comes the relentless languishing. I would have preferred enduring the physical and emotional agony of a heartbreak rather than this never-ending ever-ongoing battle with myself. For an entire month, I was drowning in stress hormones.

I went through a series of erratic behaviours, including crying everyday for no reason. MinyHubby is still talking about the month of May with a painful grin on his face. Nothing could console me. No amount of loving support was enough to tame my self-inflicted torments.  We were in pre-divorce-crisis-mode 24/7. I believe this all needs to be said because if you are thinking about quitting it is important that you time your rupture accordingly. Throughout all the self-help articles and books that I read in preparation for this life-changing choice, nobody seemed to mention the ultimate-violence we have to go through. 

  • A Scorching Aftermath

We all know how smoking cigarettes potentially increase risks of heart disease, lung disease, breast cancer and osteoporosis, to name a few. I would not know any better but these arguments have never been enough to convince me to quit. My appetite is definitely back and my taste buds have rediscovered the joy of finding everything delicious. My sense of smell has also improved. I am not quite certain I needed this. I gained 10 kg in three months and was diagnosed a high-cholesterol pre-diabetic. Somehow I expected to gain some weight but not another 20% of my body mass. I certainly did not expect to have health complications.

The shallow woman in me was keen to experience the collateral benefits of quitting such as stopping the aging process & fighting poor skin colour, getting rid of my ever-yellowing tartared fangs.  I cannot say that I can flash a pearly-white-smile nowadays after a trip to the dental hygienist but I am less conscious when showing my teeth. As per stopping the aging process, I have indeed gone back in time. Except that being over 40 years old, acne does not suit me.

  • A Sweltering Recovery

On a brighter note, my osteopath mentioned that it is not rare to gain up to 25 kg. He also mentioned that after 6 months the body stabilizes and slowly goes back to normal. Let’s hope I am no exception to this rule. I do have more energy now, and was using it regularly, at least until I hurt myself overdoing it at Ashtanga yoga. I was working out at least 90 minutes everyday. I also realised that, without having to sneak outside for some “fresh air” every hour, I had more time, which inspired me to learn Arabic. I got all the support I could have wished for from my husband but also at work, where my boss as well as Asmar and Omar have been celebrating with me every month that I have been smoke-free.

Perhaps the main reason I quit is because I want to have a baby. This is as simple as it gets. My gynecologist and my acupuncturist stressed that smoking increases the risk of infertility. On May 1st, I stopped sabotaging the little chance that I had to have a baby. Come to think of it, it was the best decision that I could have made. Imagine undergoing all this turmoil whilst pregnant! MinyHubby and I took that decision together, very much like the one we took earlier to get rid of my 5 fibroids. I am also confident that eventually the feeling of emptiness will subside as I finally overcome the yearning for something I was addicted to, accustomed with and reliant on for more than half my life.