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If technology doesn't seem like magic, it's probably obsolete

I'm finding less time to update my blog these days, but my flickr photostream is often updated.

Playing in my house right now...


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At 00:00 GMT on Thursday I was listening to:


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More of what I've been listening to

Latest pictures from my phone

www.flickr.com
More pictures from my phone


Monday January 31 2005 at 01:29 GMT [via mobile]

If you\'re going to eat chocolate, it\'s a good plan to make it Swiss. 
These fine morsels were a present from Zurich, and I am *all* about Confiserie Sprungli now!

If you're going to eat chocolate, it's a good plan to make it Swiss. These fine morsels were a present from Zurich, and I am *all* about Confiserie Sprungli now!

Monday January 31 2005 at 00:59 GMT [via mobile]

We\'ve been BUSY!  It\'s all gone now, though.

We've been BUSY! It's all gone now, though.

Sunday January 30 2005 at 20:15 GMT

Most of this is lighthearted, so enjoy:

  • the Perry Bible Fellowship comic strip, some fantastically funny and sharp comics (not religious) [thanks Rich]
  • things to say when you're losing a technical argument [via Tom]
  • more computer humour: why Ed is the only editor
  • Budweiser launches B-to-the-E, the newest entry in a long line of innovative beers. Apparently it's a distinctive new product for contemporary adults who are looking for the latest beverage to keep up with their highly social and fast-paced lifestyles. To be honest, it sounds pretty rank: Anheuser-Busch is the first major brewer to infuse beer with caffeine, guarana and ginseng. Well balanced with select hops and aromas of blackberry, raspberry and cherry, BE will offer a lightly sweet and tart taste - a great mixture of beer and new flavors for adults to enjoy when out with friends at a club or at a bar after work with colleagues.

Thursday January 27 2005 at 01:46 GMT

  • The Incredibles -- reasonable story, but just stretched out for too long. 30 minutes shorter would have made this quite a bit more enjoyable
  • 50 First Dates -- reasonable, but pretty mindless viewing. It was what I was after, following a hard week at work, to be fair.
Neither passed the most stringent test -- whether The Girl could keep her eyes open throughout, so no votes for either. On Friday we're planning a visit to the cinema; availability of sofa will determine what we see (really). It's a nice way to have randomness in life. ;-)

Thursday January 27 2005 at 01:34 GMT

It's time for a roundup of my last few weekends rocking around Edinburgh!

Three weekends ago...

  • I looked after my Godson and his brother on Friday
  • on Saturday, The Girl and I visited The Stand, and had the first really disappointing night there. The compere's jokes were the same, the acts we saw just not funny. It had to happen, given that I've been going for ... years.
  • then we hit The Street for a few drinks, before ending up at a club in Ego, and having random amusing discussions
Two weekends ago...
  • we had drinks at Bert's Bar
  • Saturday night started with drinks at Circus Cafe, then proceeded to the best dinner I've had in ages at Sabor Criollo. The food was first rate, the service was done with charm and humour, the food was delicious and the wine list short but well provisioned. Definitely, we'll be going back.
  • after dinner, we were in need of a drink, so headed to The Baillie Bar, which is where comedy ensued. As we were entering, a group of people were leaving. When we got in, there was a space that looked like it had just been occupied by a group, with a bag lying alone. The Girl grabbed it, and ran up the entrance stairs to find the group who, most likely, had left it, whilst I got some drinks in. At this point, the guy whose bag it was, noticed someone enter the pub, grab a bag, and run off ... as did the barstaff and another group of people who arrived just behind us. As I tried to explain to everyone what had happened, The Girl returned, having been caught by the bag's owner, trying to explain what had happened. As it turned out, the guy was a Big Issue vendor, who'd been working all day. I got him a few drinks, and everything was alright.
Last weekend...
  • I looked after my Godson and his brother, then met John for a beer in Scruffy Murphys, then...
  • met Jams et al for a quick drink at Browns before heading to Vice, a new bar open on Shandwick Place. For a Friday night at 1am, it was strangely quiet and lacking in ambience, added to which I got drenched when I washed my hands in the bathroom followed by some attitude from the owner when I went to the bar to point out that being covered in boiling water is not really a great way to ensure people come back to your new bar. It was a great night with friends, but I do NOT recommend you visit Vice!
  • The Girl and I had a supercool night in on Saturday, doing a lot of eating and relaxing, then on Sunday rocked over to the new Scottish Parliament before a wander around Arthurs Seat to the Sheep's Heid Inn (allegedly the oldest in Edinburgh ... which really is saying something) for some fantastic chat and a few beers, which was exactly what the doctor ordered!

Already it's Thursday, and this coming weekend is almost upon us! Time to start getting ready ... although I'll be without my partner-in-crime. :-S

Tuesday January 25 2005 at 09:24 GMT [via mobile]

Continuing the series of visiting controversial new Edinburgh buildings, I had call to go to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary this afternoon. Totally nothing major - just a small slice on my finger by a broken glass, but was advised to have it checked for any lurking splinters. All clear!

Continuing the series of visiting controversial new Edinburgh buildings, I had call to go to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary this afternoon. Totally nothing major - just a small slice on my finger by a broken glass, but was advised to have it checked for any lurking splinters. All clear!

Monday January 24 2005 at 00:56 GMT [via mobile]

The Girl and I went for a tour of the new parliament 
building today.  It certainly looked good.  Full report to come!

The Girl and I went for a tour of the new parliament building today. It certainly looked good. Full report to come!

Sunday January 23 2005 at 16:20 GMT [via mobile]

Friday January 21 2005 at 02:36 GMT

Friday January 21 2005 at 02:22 GMT

Tonight I was out running with the club. When I got home after over 15km underfoot, I could not be bothered to cook anything, so I decided to order a pizza from the Pizza Hut across the road. Naturally, I went to the site for the menu and prices. But wait, I now need to register on the site to see the PRICES (Click here to Register for FREE Garlic Bread and to display pricing for your local Hut.).

Exactly how little do Pizza Hut understand about the Web??? If I use a different computer (or browser) each time I look at the site, they expect me to register to see the prices every visit. I went to leave some feedback, asking what on earth they were up to, only to discover feedback is accepted by phone and hard copy mail only. Now that is a company who do not care about their customers. On the very rare occasion I do order a pizza these days, it's no longer going to come from across the road.

Friday January 21 2005 at 01:36 GMT

Great minds are thinking up ways to stop comment spam, but I agree with Mr Hammersley on this one -- the 'nofollow' thing is just not going to work, plus it takes too much fun away from leaving genuine comments.

As you may have noticed, I've been getting a fair amount of comment spam recently, which has been a real pain to keep checking on. Last night, Rich gave me a great idea to take 8 photos of easily readable words, and for one word to have to be entered before a comment would be submitted, changing each day. Based on his rocking idea, I simplified. Now, to leave a comment, you have to enter the word apple in the secret word box. If you don't, your comment is binned, so take care if you are leaving a genuine comment.

Over the next few days I'm going to see if it works. Any feedback is very welcome -- just leave a comment! Already Russ has pointed out that my idea is not unique, with a certain Mr Zawodny doing something very similar. He also asked why not just have a tickbox, which is a good point, but I'm sticking with the fruit for now!

Thursday January 20 2005 at 14:48 GMT

Apparently the 24th of January has been established as the most depressing day of the year, so what better way to get past it than nice thoughts of a fun Burns Supper.

The Girl and I are looking for a good ceilidh to attend on Tuesday. A favourite haunt of old which used to do a good Burns Supper + Ceilidh, the Caledonian Brewery, has had to turn the hall that was used back over to beer production (at least it is a great beer they make -- the multi award-winning IPA). Does anyone know of a good, fun event in Edinburgh that night? Google hasn't yielded much, and we've not seen anything in the papers. Any ideas most welcomed!

Thursday January 20 2005 at 13:48 GMT [via mobile]

In good Mobitopian stylee, we're all posting birthday wishes for Russ today. I should also wish dwlt a belated happy birthday. He was ++ yesterday. MP4 video [Need help to see the video?]

[Update]: See also Gustaf (Stockholm), Jim (London)

Tuesday January 18 2005 at 10:36 GMT [via mobile]

We\'ve got a bit of snow on the ground here today.  Can you spot the castle?

We've got a bit of snow on the ground here today. Can you spot the castle?

Tuesday January 18 2005 at 01:59 GMT

It's been a while since I just posted a few good links:

Sunday January 16 2005 at 20:00 GMT [via mobile]

I\'m finally moving away from Fedora Core 1 to Core 3. My home machine, lofi, isn\'t the fastest, so it literally has taken all afternoon to upgrade. My withdrawl has been significant. How do people survive with no permanent Internet connection and only standard TV & radio???

I'm finally moving away from Fedora Core 1 to Core 3. My home machine, lofi, isn't the fastest, so it literally has taken all afternoon to upgrade. My withdrawl has been significant. How do people survive with no permanent Internet connection and only standard TV & radio???

Friday January 14 2005 at 17:28 GMT [via mobile]

Pongal is an Indian harvest festival (primarily south Indian/Tamil, I 
think), which runs for three days from the 14th of January.  As with almost all Indian 
festivals, there is food associated with the festival, and this one is also called Pongal. 
  This photo doesn\'t do it justice, but the sticky, sweet rice is tasty, not disimilar to 
rice pudding (with cardamon) here in the UK.

Pongal is an Indian harvest festival (primarily south Indian/Tamil, I think), which runs for three days from the 14th of January. As with almost all Indian festivals, there is food associated with the festival, and this one is also called Pongal. This photo doesn't do it justice, but the sticky, sweet rice is tasty, not disimilar to rice pudding (with cardamon) here in the UK.

Friday January 14 2005 at 14:19 GMT

Due to the amount of spammed comments this site has been subject to over the last week, I've had to pull the right-hand column display of latest comments for the time being. You can still add comments at the bottom of a post, and you can still see the last 20 comments on the comments page (in the top menu). Over the weekend I should be able to get something put together (most likely moderated comments from non-recognised IP addresses) unless Jim comes up with something sweet in the meantime (c'mon, man!).

Friday January 14 2005 at 02:12 GMT

OK, here's a very, very brief outline of my calendar for 2005 and some of the things I'm looking to do (the not-too-personal things). I'm putting all this up here so that I can look back at the end of the year and see how things panned out. Yes, there are a lot of marathons in the calendar; no, I don't seriously think I can run in them all. Plans are most definitely made to be broken.

Holidays are missing from that calendar. At the moment, they're shaping up something like:

  • boarding with the boys, somewhere in Europe (February/March)
  • driving/camping in France & Italy (July/August)
  • visiting somewhere sunny, perhaps South America or else lying on a beach (October/November)

January 22nd - Flotterstone Inn time trial
30th - 4k XC Bellahouston Park

February 12th - Karen's 30th (London)
19th - 12k XC Irvine

March

April 17th - London Marathon

May 28th - Deek and Birte's wedding (Wiesenhof)

June 12th - Edinburgh Marathon

July 31st - San Francisco Marathon

August 6th - Katherine's wedding (Wirrall)

September CR Wedding (Edinburgh)
25th - Berlin Marathon

October
November
December

Other things to do this year are:

  • De-clutter my house (hello, eBay!)
  • do some work around my house (new carpets in both bedrooms, living room, hall; double glazing in bedrooms; new computer/media device in living room; Squeezebox for kitchen, feeding into bathroom speakers; new lighting in multiple areas)
  • walking & camping with The Girl
  • Confluence and Geocaching with Rich
  • see/hear more live music
  • read more magazines & books
  • hack some neat code together for something mobile-related
It's going to be busy!

Thursday January 13 2005 at 01:42 GMT

There's been plenty written of late about blogging one's work situation, and people getting sacked for being silly (thanks to The Girl for the links). It was good to hear that 'Reynolds' of Random Acts of Reality fame was asked for comment by the BBC in print and also on Radio Scotland. Good to see a professional, with a fantastic, well-written and organisation-supported blog, putting across the positive view.

Thanks also to Tom for the pointer to The Policeman's Blog, which similarly looks like compulsive reading.

Tuesday January 11 2005 at 14:29 GMT [via mobile]

Thanks to my coach at the running club I\'m in, my entry to the 
London Marathon is now being processed.  Our club was allocated four spots, and I got very 
lucky and snagged one.  My goal is to complete in five hours or thereabouts.  Here\'s 
hoping that everyone else who\'s going for it makes it too -- running with my brother and 
several friends would be a lot of fun.  Last night was my first visit to the gym in a 
while, to kick off my preparation ... and it feels like there is a lot of prep to do.  My 
coolrunning.com training plan is at my side!

Thanks to my coach at the running club I'm in, my entry to the London Marathon is now being processed. Our club was allocated four spots, and I got very lucky and snagged one. My goal is to complete in five hours or thereabouts. Here's hoping that everyone else who's going for it makes it too -- running with my brother and several friends would be a lot of fun. Last night was my first visit to the gym in a while, to kick off my preparation ... and it feels like there is a lot of prep to do. My coolrunning.com training plan is at my side!

Tuesday January 11 2005 at 11:54 GMT

First, this guy put his forehead on eBay for rent to advertisers. Now this guy's colleagues have put his forehead on eBay, also for rent. Doesn't take that much imagination to see where this one's going to go, does it... [Thanks to Mahyad for the link.]

Monday January 10 2005 at 19:02 GMT

The BBC has such a dead-on article about tech support for parents, it just cracked me up (thanks, Allan). Over a year ago I talked about the same thing, and I still seriously believe there is a huge market out there for 'personal tech support'. I've been persuaded to do a few small jobs here and there, but I'm sure there is a good market out there to do the same kind of thing full-time, as long as your brain doesn't come leaking out your ears...

Friday January 7 2005 at 14:05 GMT

My Garmin Forerunner 201 has been a trusty bit of kit since I got it in April. Coupled with GPSVisualizer.com it rocks my running world.

The one thing that was missing from the 201, was a heart rate monitor. Lo and behold, here comes the Forerunner 301, with a heart rate monitor. In addition, WAAS has been added and there's a USB interface, instead of the serial port I have to work with. Some additional software (Training Center) has been added, and then the price bumped up to US $325 (172 / 246) -- yikes!

For now, I'm going to wait for the price to fall (considerably) before deciding if I really need to upgrade. The watch is the same size and weight, has the same display, and I don't think I really need training assistant software. My 201 cost under 70, which seemed great value to me (I imported it from the US from Amazon.com, in case you plan to do the same); an extra 100 for limited increase seems excessive. Of course, don't hold me to that! ;-)

Thursday January 6 2005 at 02:04 GMT

It's taken me a while to get my finger out and compile my highlights of 2004, but here it is part one. Looking back over the whole of the year, I've got to say it's been a good, solid year with plenty of fun and a decidely upbeat finale. Without a doubt, my top personal achievment in this batch was passing my driving test. To all those who said "I just don't know how you live without it", I now know what you mean! Without further ado, I present January to June 2004. Enjoy!

January

February

March

April

May

June

Thursday January 6 2005 at 01:15 GMT [via mobile]

Tonight I popped in to my local supermarket for some salad, bread -- you know, 
normal kinds of things.  The shelves were *bare*.  There was absolutely NO salad, and only 
a few loaves of bread left.  What\'s going on???

Tonight I popped in to my local supermarket for some salad, bread -- you know, normal kinds of things. The shelves were *bare*. There was absolutely NO salad, and only a few loaves of bread left. What's going on???

Wednesday January 5 2005 at 13:20 GMT

Today we observed a three minute silence as a mark of respect for the victims of the Asian earthquake and tsunami. Have a look at these pictures to see the level of destruction (via Tom). Then go and donate some cash (food, clothes etc are not the best way to help just now -- cash can be moved much faster and used to get aid to where it's needed).

Wednesday January 5 2005 at 13:10 GMT [via mobile]

Mahyad\'s new Canon Pixma iP8500 looks stunning, and 
produces some incredible output.  Something of a far cry from those old beige boxes that 
litter the landscape.

Mahyad's new Canon Pixma iP8500 looks stunning, and produces some incredible output. Something of a far cry from those old beige boxes that litter the landscape.

Wednesday January 5 2005 at 02:00 GMT

Buying me presents has been a chore for all who have attempted it, I know, but The Girl did fantastically at Christmas. One of my presents was to go and see Handel's Messiah at the Usher Hall on Monday.

We both enjoyed the first half, and were about to go and get some drinks when we noticed everyone unpacking hampers and pickernick baskets. Apparently that's the deal: you pitch up with your lunch in a hamper. It was incredible to see *everyone* standing round opening their bottles of Champagne and unwrapping sandwiches. People were spreading blankets on the ground, putting up deck chairs, setting up barbecues, erecting volleyball nets ... you get the picture. Next year we'll be there to represent, big style!

The second half of the performance was very good too, but The Girl and I both picked up on several things. When the orchestra came on stage, many of the ladies brought their handbags, and the wind section had their instrument cases and sheet music bags with them. Then they all started 'tootling' (that was the term used when I played in musical groups) instead of sitting smartly before the conductor came on stage; meanwhile, the choir sat chatting to each other. At the end of the performance, it seemed more like the end of a rehearsal as the choir and musicians either rushed or slowly meandered off stage.

Call me old-fashioned, but this was a near sell-out in the Usher Hall (2400 people). Perhaps it was just a more relaxed atmosphere of the event, but it all seemed a little unprofessional, added to which there was no encore, despite rapturous applause. Mr Bloomfield, what say you, in your professional capacity?

After that high culture, we crossed the road to the Filmhouse for food and then watched House of Flying Daggers, which was a beautiful film, if a touch slow in places. Definitely worth seeing.

Wednesday January 5 2005 at 01:12 GMT

OK, once again it's time for another spin around my last few weeks (I've escaped the weekend update syndrome, almost).

The weekend before Christmas, Deek and Birte invited us all round for a marvellous dinner. It was a looooooong night and morning, which made my 5k run on Sunday tough, to say the least.

The week before Christmas was our departmental party, followed by a night at Forest Hills and then plenty of last minute shopping, at a relaxed pace. On Christmas Eve, I drove back over to my parents' house (BIG thanks, Polly!) ... in the snow. Christmas Day was spent with family and my Grandma, and then Boxing Day with the same plus my aunt and uncle. Plenty of fantastic food eaten (thanks, rents!) and usual Christmas-y activities.

I spent the remainder of last week with a yucky cold, before The Girl and I headed over to Dublin for New Year. We missed (*ahem*) the first flight, and then managed to come the closest to missing our afternoon flight when we pitched up 37 minutes before take-off. Apparently RyanAir close the checkin desks 40 minutes before takeoff... My case ended up staying in Edinburgh, with all I could carry in a flimsy suit carrier. Comedy start.

Our hotel, the Conrad Hilton was fine, and after some food we headed out into the night, looking fabulous. Given the time, weather and distance from the hotel, we decided Cafe en Seine seemed like a good bet, so we fired in. It was a fantastic location, and at midnight everyone wished each other happy new year ... and then it was really kind of like a normal Friday night. When you come from the home of Hogmanay, you just expect more. Maybe we were in the wrong location, or maybe just not in the mood, but it all seemed quite quiet and we headed home to drink Champagne at about 2.30.

New Year's Day itself brought thunder and lightning storms, torrential rain and howling winds, so we stayed inside until late afternoon. After a stroll around, and the purchase of luggage for me, we ended up at a good Spanish restaurant before finding a good Irish bar where we plonked down for the night.

On Sunday, the 2nd, the weather was quite a bit better so we took a walk around the city and out to the Guinness Storehouse. It was great to be at the spiritual home of the Mighty G. The pint in the Gravity Bar was supposed to be the best pint of Guinness in the world. Without a doubt it was great, but I think my tastebuds are just too used to London-brewed G. Meeting Diego after talking online for over a year was very cool.

After some food at the hotel, we managed to miss the bus by a few seconds before jumping in a taxi back out to the airport. It seems that New Year just isn't the time to be in Dublin if you want to actually interact with real Irish people -- they're all partied out after Christmas, according to several people we spoke to. I'm thinking a second visit is required to really get the flavour and to hit all the spots we'd planned to, before the weather ruined our plans. Don't get me wrong, we had a fantastic time away, it just wasn't quite what we were expecting.

Sunday January 2 2005 at 22:41 GMT [via mobile]

We caught up with Diego, a fellow Mobitopian, in the Gravity bar @ Guinness brewery.

We caught up with Diego, a fellow Mobitopian, in the Gravity bar @ Guinness brewery.

Sunday January 2 2005 at 22:35 GMT [via mobile]

Enjoying a pint of black gold at the brewery.

Enjoying a pint of black gold at the brewery.

Sunday January 2 2005 at 13:06 GMT [via mobile]

The sun is out for our final day.  Off to visit the Guinness Brewery 
and meet Diego.  :-D

The sun is out for our final day. Off to visit the Guinness Brewery and meet Diego. :-D

Sunday January 2 2005 at 13:01 GMT [via mobile]

This shop had ALL the drinks!

This shop had ALL the drinks!

Sunday January 2 2005 at 12:54 GMT [via mobile]

Happy New Year to you all!  The Girl and I are celebrating in Dublin.  We 
spent last night in Cafe en Seine.  Today we\'ve wandered around, bought some luggage (long 
story for another time...!) and had dinner in a Spanish restaurant.  Now we\'re off for 
some proper Dublin action in Temple Bar.

Happy New Year to you all! The Girl and I are celebrating in Dublin. We spent last night in Cafe en Seine. Today we've wandered around, bought some luggage (long story for another time...!) and had dinner in a Spanish restaurant. Now we're off for some proper Dublin action in Temple Bar.

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