martinlittle.com:thinkThin

thinkThin|archives|comments|gallery|unwired|guestbook|wiki|contact|about

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...


Warning: filemtime() [function.filemtime]: stat failed for /home/martinli/public_html/xmmsplaylist/xmms-now-playing.info in /home/martinli/public_html/thinkthin.php on line 211

Warning: filemtime() [function.filemtime]: stat failed for /home/martinli/public_html/xmmsplaylist/xmms-now-playing.info in /home/martinli/public_html/thinkthin.php on line 211
At 00:00 GMT on Thursday I was listening to:


Warning: include(/home/martinli/www/xmmsplaylist/xmms-now-playing.info) [function.include]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/martinli/public_html/thinkthin.php on line 213

Warning: include() [function.include]: Failed opening '/home/martinli/www/xmmsplaylist/xmms-now-playing.info' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php') in /home/martinli/public_html/thinkthin.php on line 213

More of what I've been listening to

Latest pictures from my phone

www.flickr.com
More pictures from my phone


Thursday March 31 2005 at 09:44 GMT

Russ posted yesterday on Yahoo! 360 and I've been having a play with it today. My first impression is that there is a LOT of stuff going on there -- it is a huge move by Yahoo! to pull everything together across their range of existing services whilst also adding some social networking and blogging. In addition, there is the added benefit that *everyone* is going to be on Yahoo! IM, which is all good with me.

The site seems to still be invite-only mode, so let me know if you'd like to join.

Tuesday March 29 2005 at 08:21 GMT

It began with a search for the Stinger Lounge in San Mateo, and then moved to potential cocktails before ending at The Webtender unsuccessfully searching for a Rasmopolitan recipe (see here for one option and here for how Martha Stewart liked to make hers, and we all know she likes to be behind bars ;-). Pete had better share his recipe!

Webtender has certainly gone tech since I last visited. They now have a Firefox plugin making searching incredibly handy (don't know what Firefox is? Read and download here.), a WAP/phone accessible version and even RSS feeds of drinks and forum posts. Very nice work!

Tuesday March 29 2005 at 07:54 GMT [via mobile]

Last night I went to the market to get some milk. 
After just over two hours trying to decipher the labels on the shelves, I gave up and 
bought some flavoured water instead.

Last night I went to the market to get some milk. After just over two hours trying to decipher the labels on the shelves, I gave up and bought some flavoured water instead.

Tuesday March 29 2005 at 07:47 GMT [via mobile]

Where has the nice weather I\'m used to gone?  Rain, rain, rain...

Where has the nice weather I'm used to gone? Rain, rain, rain...

Monday March 28 2005 at 06:58 GMT

You may care less about technology, but you have to respect this: I strap a watch to my wrist, run around, connect the watch to my computer, upload the file to a Website and end up with a beautiful colour real-world aerial picture of where I exercised, courtesy of the US military.

Monday March 28 2005 at 05:00 GMT

My application has been accepted for the Great Caledonian Run. Should be fun.

Monday March 28 2005 at 04:51 GMT

Following on from my last running update, here's the summary for my last two weeks:

Saturday was my final long run in preparation for London. Previously I've used the BayTrail for running from SFO down to San Mateo and Foster City, which is really nice -- scenic, mostly away from traffic.

I presumed it would be similar heading south (PDF map here), but what a nightmare it turned out to be. After leaving my hotel, I couldn't find out how to get on to the path. Eventually I gave up until I thought I could catch the next point. As far as I can tell, that should have been a river crossing ... which is now closed. In the end, I basically ended up running along the side of a road for most of the time, across some wasteland, over a very overgrown bridge with the steepest entrance & exit which appeared out of nowhere (and on which I met a random guy pulling a trolley with huge cans of paint...), through a yacht yard, along some more roadside until I finally found some nice-r trail to run along ... right beside highway 101.

Nevertheless, the run was solid: 23 miles (I'd been aiming for 22) in 3.5 hours, with about 1 mile cooldown. At the end, I was still feeling OK, but it was getting dark and my legs were a bit tired, so I decided not to take the risk of eating sidewalk or injuring my legs. My training is now officially tapering -- according to the schedule I'm on 12 mile runs for the next two weekends, which is nice.

For now, I'm reading my book and preparing for the big day. It's going to be a lot of fun -- Hazel and I are heading down on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, and we should be meeting Allan and my rentals over the weekend plus plenty of other friends, then spending a few days doing random Londonshire things. Rockin'!

Friday March 25 2005 at 18:50 GMT

Friday March 25 2005 at 08:34 GMT [via mobile]

This time I\'ve got a Pontiac Grand Am V6.  Lucky I didn\'t request a large car, 
eh?  ;-)

This time I've got a Pontiac Grand Am V6. Lucky I didn't request a large car, eh? ;-)

Thursday March 24 2005 at 08:05 GMT [via mobile]

One swift trip to Tower Rekkids and I\'ve got a bagful of new tunes, mostly 
from groups I\'ve never heard before.  Nice.

One swift trip to Tower Rekkids and I've got a bagful of new tunes, mostly from groups I've never heard before. Nice.

Thursday March 24 2005 at 07:46 GMT

Last weekend was a most superb time, although too short, as always. On Friday Grant was in town, so dwlt and I took him out for a few quiet beers. It's always a huge pleasure to catch up with Granty, and the chat was top notch.

On Saturday, I was up bright & early to get some domestic tasks done before knocking out a reasonable five mile run, although it's funny what a few beers do to you! In the afternoon, Hazel and I zoomed over to Paisley for Michelle and Gareth's wedding. Due to a small time (or lack of) issue, we decided to stay at a TravelInn in Paisley itself. These things happen ... and it did us for the night, just.

Hazel, shooz and me The day itself was wonderful. The sun was shining and the sky were blue. The wedding ceremony was excellent -- the minister was a family friend and had done a lot of work to make the wedding address original and personalised, and was really well delivered.

After the ceremony, we headed to Paisley Town Hall where we drank Champagne whilst the photos were being taken. Many many years ago, I used to be involved in multiple musical groups. Alternating Saturdays and Sundays would see me rehearsing with the regional orchestras or concert bands for a final show in the Town Hall, along with Michelle and Gav. To be there after all these years felt quite strange, and most likely we all did a good job of boring Hazel to tears recalling old times.

Paisley Town Hall The Town Hall has undergone substantial refurbishment since I remember it, and is now a really smart building. The main hall looked fantastic for dinner and later the ceilidh. The food was excellent (again, I think, made by a family friend) and the speeches were all heartfelt and fun. My entry into the sweepstake for how long they'd run for fell quite a bit short of the mark, though.

Being a big fan of real ale, Gareth had selected some locally produced beers from the Houston Brewing Company which were top notch. The ceilidh band were also excellent, if a little off their rocker(s) but got everyone up dancing all night, which is the whole point of them.

The whole day was really excellent fun (thanks, guys!) and I'm really hoping that they do move back to the UK as planned later this year.

On Sunday, Hazel and I headed over to see my parents for lunch. As always, the food was fantastic and I didn't waste any opportunity to fill my big belly. Lunch soon stretched on into the late afternoon before we had to drag ourselves away and get back to Edinburgh to prepare for the week ahead...

Wednesday March 23 2005 at 23:00 GMT [via mobile]

OK, I survived ... just.  This picture doesn\'t quite get the radioactive 
colour of the drink, but I certainly do feel much more awake.  I\'m fairly sure I could get 
addicted to this stuff, so probably best it\'s not available in the UK.

OK, I survived ... just. This picture doesn't quite get the radioactive colour of the drink, but I certainly do feel much more awake. I'm fairly sure I could get addicted to this stuff, so probably best it's not available in the UK.

Wednesday March 23 2005 at 21:49 GMT [via mobile]

As if Mountain Dew wasn\'t hardcore enough, there is now AMP, an energy 
drink (ampenergy.com for more information).  I\'m about to try some right now, so if you 
see my head exploding...

As if Mountain Dew wasn't hardcore enough, there is now AMP, an energy drink (ampenergy.com for more information). I'm about to try some right now, so if you see my head exploding...

Wednesday March 23 2005 at 15:07 GMT

Michelle and Gareth Last weekend was Michelle and Gareth's wedding (Michelle was a very good friend from high school days). I'll write more later, but for now, here are the pictures. Due to a small technical hitch at Team HM, it wasn't possible to get any pictures of the wedding ceremony itself, so this cameraphone shot will need to do.

There are not very many pictures from the meal or ceilidh, as we were simply doing too much dancing and having too much fun to stop for snaps!

Wednesday March 23 2005 at 03:24 GMT

Thanks for my work colleagues for pointing me to these two excellent travel resources:

  • tripadvisor.com -- reviews and ratings of hotels & resorts, from the public and also other online publications
  • seatguru.com -- find out the best seat to sit in on the plane. I managed 62K on the way out, and am going to aim for the same returning.
Any other sites as useful as these out there?

Wednesday March 23 2005 at 03:14 GMT [via mobile]

Travelling in full feet-up mode to San Francisco.  I\'m here until 1st April, so 
if you\'re in the area let me know.

Travelling in full feet-up mode to San Francisco. I'm here until 1st April, so if you're in the area let me know.

Tuesday March 22 2005 at 09:46 GMT [via mobile]

Last night was Frankfurt, London now then San Francisco this afternoon.

Last night was Frankfurt, London now then San Francisco this afternoon.

Sunday March 20 2005 at 21:09 GMT [via mobile]

If you\'ve got a kilt, this is the way to carry it - rolled up. Works a treat and not folded in half.

If you've got a kilt, this is the way to carry it - rolled up. Works a treat and not folded in half.

Sunday March 20 2005 at 21:04 GMT [via mobile]

Whoever dreamt these up deserves a promotion. Cornflakes, milk, sugar & spoon all in one handy package. Ideal at any time!

Whoever dreamt these up deserves a promotion. Cornflakes, milk, sugar & spoon all in one handy package. Ideal at any time!

Sunday March 20 2005 at 02:30 GMT [via mobile]

A fantastic day in Paisley for Michelle & Gareth\'s wedding.

A fantastic day in Paisley for Michelle & Gareth's wedding.

Friday March 18 2005 at 21:32 GMT [via mobile]

So, I\'m number 24485! Woohoo!

So, I'm number 24485! Woohoo!

Tuesday March 15 2005 at 02:08 GMT

Seeing as I was fortunate with my marathon place not to have the burden of sponsorshop weighing me down, I feel I should put some effort into making the pain experience worthwhile. At present, I give money every month to Shelter Scotland, Cancer Research UK and Red Cross.

These are all big charities, and to be honest I'm reconsidering my subscriptions to Shelter & Cancer Research as I'm of the educated/considered opinion they already have plenty of money, and there are more worthy causes. So ... I'm open to suggestions of where I should put my effort, both for this marathon and also longer term for my personal donations.

For the marathon, I'd like one 'local' (Edinburgh/Scotland/UK) charity and one 'international' charity. There are too many people in far-flung places who I'm going to hit, to believe they'd be happy if whatever I gather stayed in Edinburgh (I expect). Red Nose Day may actually cover both bases, and I have to say it's the leader right now.

Your comments and thoughts would be welcomed!

Tuesday March 15 2005 at 01:56 GMT

You may remember back in January I got my London marathon place. Obviously, I had great plans to follow a plan, get fit and complete in a world record breaking 2 hours. Well ... that didn't quite happen, but I have been making an attempt to stick to my training plan.

Here's a quick summary of my running since sending my entry in:
January

February March

One mile is approximately 1.6km (handy distance converter here), which means last week I finally ran more than a marathon (26miles 385yards) adding all my training together. Yikes. My 20 mile Sunday run was almost the longest I've ever done, and came in at 3hours 6minutes of running, which is OK. Faster would be better, naturally!

The next few weeks are very busy, but running is hard-scheduled in. Watch this space for more running updates as the magical date of April 17th comes around. Quite handily, my birthday (25th) is the following week, so there will be time to console or celebrate with me! For now though, the beers stay on ice (apart from once a week!).

Monday March 14 2005 at 01:35 GMT

Supersize Me After reading so much about the film, I finally actually saw it. A quick summary of the film is that a perfectly fit guy eats just McDonalds at breakfast, lunch & dinner for a month and gets sick, unsurprisingly. It's a well made low-budget film, and it does make a valid social point. Morgan Spurlock, the director and actor, even has his own blog here.

One of the points in the film was that obesity is likely to become a bigger killer than smoking in the next two or three years (made by several people, as far as I can remember), which really made me think. Unsuccessfully I tried to google for a link saying the same, but actually came up with more interesting information: feasting is set to kill more than famine. THAT is crazy!

It's definitely worth seeing the film, but be sure you haven't just eaten. Some of the scenes are pretty yukky. Channel4 (UK) also has an upcoming documentary on overweight children, although I can't find anything regarding when it will be aired on their site.

Monday March 14 2005 at 00:31 GMT

Another one has just flown by! Last week was busy, so Hazel and I both wanted something nice and relaxing to get the weekend started. We headed along to Eighty Queen Street for dinner and a drinks, which was just ideal. Great food, really fantastic service, nice environment, good sounds and wonderful company.

On Saturday, I had vaguely organised (a word used losely) lunch at Orocco Pier, seeing as I hadn't seen most of my friends for far too long. Hazel and I were very slightly late getting ready (I had to do my hair, you know how it is ;-) so it was a very slight rush getting there on time by train, but we pretty much made it. When we sat down, the order of the day was quickly established as cocktails, which continued (slowly -- if you're going, be sure to order a few rounds at a time!) throughout the tasty lunch. Pete had driven over and not partaken in the cocktails, so the best plan seemed to be to head back to down, ditch the car and re-convene ... which is pretty much what we did via the pub and then Tesco.

It was a really great night, only missing a few friends otherwise engaged. Chief cocktail maker/inventor Pete did a sterling job on the mixer, and we all rolled home at a quite civilised 1am. Thanks for such a great day!

Sunday March 13 2005 at 00:15 GMT [via mobile]

Pete modelling next season\'s look.

Pete modelling next season's look.

Sunday March 13 2005 at 00:02 GMT [via mobile]

Serious money at stake.

Serious money at stake.

Saturday March 12 2005 at 23:11 GMT [via mobile]

The fun continues!

The fun continues!

Saturday March 12 2005 at 20:21 GMT [via mobile]

One swift visit to Tesco later...

One swift visit to Tesco later...

Saturday March 12 2005 at 20:10 GMT [via mobile]

Hazel & James made me go for another beer ... or two.

Hazel & James made me go for another beer ... or two.

Saturday March 12 2005 at 19:59 GMT [via mobile]

Lunch with friends.

Lunch with friends.

Thursday March 10 2005 at 18:30 GMT [via mobile]

It\'s a gorgeous sunset in Edinburgh tonight. Hello light evenings too!

It's a gorgeous sunset in Edinburgh tonight. Hello light evenings too!

Thursday March 10 2005 at 14:53 GMT

Zopa is a new lending site, with a difference. It's all about person-to-person lending, not a 'financial megacorp plc'. Lenders and borrowers sign up to the site, and Zopa do the matching, making their cash by skimming 1% from the borrower. More information here.

They've also borrowed some BitTorrent ideas, by ensuring that one person borrows from at least 50 people and one lender is lending to at least 50 people, thereby spreading the risk in case someone does default (in which case normal banking procedures are followed).

I signed up out of interest, and even managed to get through the credit check -- normally these kind of sites balk at my address which contains a 'flat' identifier, but this time I sailed through. The credit check is free and you get a rating (anyone know what the number actually means, or is that organisation-dependent?) which could be useful as an instant-rating as opposed to waiting the week or two for a credit agency to hard-copy mail information out.

At the moment I don't have large sums of cash lying around so I'm not planning to take it any further. It will be interesting to see who does use the site, though. I could see the lenders being retirees, who are looking for a steady income and no longer wish to play the stockmarket, and borrowers being younger professionals, buying their first house. The cost savings for both lenders (broker/management fees) and borrowers (arrangement fees/better interest rate) fit nicely.

The BBC has further details on how P2P is coming into play thanks to the Internet which is well worth a read.

[Update at 1.03am GMT on 11th March] There's an interesting thread over on MoneySavingExpert all about Zopa. Definitely worth a read if you're considering getting involved. Apparently my credit score was out of 1000. Further, approximately half the UK adult population will score above 400, and approximately 30% are above 475. So I'm staying quiet right now ... and ordering up my credit reports!

Thursday March 10 2005 at 11:24 GMT

OK, last Niji mention. The reason we ended up there was due to some happy browsing of the List Eating & Drinking Guide. After a quick google for more information, I found Leynos great blog, where it was given the big thumbs up. Leynos also points to a very good guide to eating sushi that is worth a read.

Wednesday March 9 2005 at 01:04 GMT [via mobile]

Niji doesn\'t seem to have a site I can point you to, so here\'s the flyer I was given on Saturday. Lunch is going to happen in the next week or so; let me know if you fancy joining me. The restaurant is at 64 Thistle Street smack-bang in the middle of Edinburgh. If you\'re planning to go for dinner, call ahead, or else you may be waiting for some time. There is only one chef! :-D

Niji doesn't seem to have a site I can point you to, so here's the flyer I was given on Saturday. Lunch is going to happen in the next week or so; let me know if you fancy joining me. The restaurant is at 64 Thistle Street smack-bang in the middle of Edinburgh. If you're planning to go for dinner, call ahead, or else you may be waiting for some time. There is only one chef! :-D

Wednesday March 9 2005 at 00:52 GMT

Happy Birthday to Jim who was 29 yesterday.

Tuesday March 8 2005 at 15:41 GMT

In Kiyoto, kimono wearers are getting free public transport and access to public attractions for the next 11 days, in an effort to encourage wearing of the national dress as a part of everyday life and not just on special occasions.

Surely the Scottish parliament should follow suit, with kilt-wearing. Having thousands of fine, young Scotsmen walking around in kilts would not only be a boost to tourism, but also most likely a boost in the numbers of ladies meeting aforementioned Scotsmen and settling down here, solving the emigration and birthrate problems we're facing. Genius! OK, what's the next problem to solve? ;-)

Tuesday March 8 2005 at 15:17 GMT [via mobile]

My one-night-a-week-of-drinking has been going well, but I\'ve been missing a beer with the boys. After a few in Teuchters on William Street, Rich and I made it to Oloroso where we were tempted to these.

My one-night-a-week-of-drinking has been going well, but I've been missing a beer with the boys. After a few in Teuchters on William Street, Rich and I made it to Oloroso where we were tempted to these.

Tuesday March 8 2005 at 15:07 GMT [via mobile]

What exactly are Pret indicating with this picture on their bags?

What exactly are Pret indicating with this picture on their bags?

Saturday March 5 2005 at 23:30 GMT [via mobile]

Japanese food in Edinburgh is either tasteless, expensive or both. Niji is the *complete* opposite, with authentic, tasty and well-priced food (the same people as ran Tampopo along the street). HIGHLY recommended!

Japanese food in Edinburgh is either tasteless, expensive or both. Niji is the *complete* opposite, with authentic, tasty and well-priced food (the same people as ran Tampopo along the street). HIGHLY recommended!

Thursday March 3 2005 at 01:21 GMT

Later in the year one of my cousins is getting married, and I've been asked to look into a technical issue. My wonderful Grandma is possibly not going to make it -- the journey is only a few hours in a car, but the ceremony, dinner (wedding breakfast), hotel...

So, my challenge is to work out how the wedding ceremony (primarily) and the post-events might be beamed back to my Grandma's house, as well as the costs associated. It would be fair to say that my Grandma is far from the tech elite, so no computer/broadband/wireless/mobile. She is also 150 miles away from me, and will be a further 300 or so miles from the wedding. Any solution has to work with no technical support, in other words.

The candidates are:

  • broadband + computer/laptop (into TV?) for some webcam action
  • 3G phone to 3G phone
  • pull some MAJOR favours with the BBC (Rich? ;-)

Obviously a webcam would give better sound and picture quality, but would require the setup costs of ADSL as well as the effort to get it set up first time, with absolutely no hitches(!). That only covers Grandma's install; a similar hook-up at the wedding end would be needed.

If I go 3G, I'm at the mercy of the phone network I'm going with. I'd hope both locations would have coverage, but it's a definite risk.

If anyone has attempted this kind of thing before, I'd be very grateful for any advice. Perhaps a middle ground using 3G for sending from a laptop at the ceremony back to a computer at Grandma's hooked up via 56k dial-up would work, even. Seems like some testing is needed.

Thursday March 3 2005 at 00:43 GMT

A few weeks ago, Hazel told me we were going away for the weekend, and gave me a list of things to bring. On Friday (11th February -- yes, it has taken me that long to blog!) lunchtime, I was picked up from work and whisked off!

We started with a delicious lunch at Orocco Pier in South Queensferry. Most definitely a place to revisit. The food and service were very good and the view was wonderful: across the Firth of Forth taking in the rail bridge (see this picture).

We then headed up to St Andrews and the St Andrews Bay Hotel. After a lovely relaxing massage in the spa, we had dinner at the Clubhouse before a few drinks in the atrium.

View from our room Breakfast on Saturday morning was incredible! I managed five course, including kippers and a full Scottish breakfast, plus toast before calling it a day ... and heading back to the room for a lie-down. In the afternoon we went in to St Andrews itself to see Scotland get thrashed by Ireland at rugby. After quick visits to Laffertys, Gin House and Central (or did we skip that one??) we headed back to the hotel for dinner.

At dinner we found the one and only disappointing service experience of our stay (otherwise, it was well above average, and regularly excellent). The five course menu had a mushroom course, which I'm just not a fan of, so we asked for anything to replace it ... and were told there was nothing available (when we ordered wine we spoke to a more senior waiter/manager who did manage to organise a superb ceasar salad). Dinner itself had started at 8.30, but took over four hours to complete, and we we ended up being the last couple to leave. The food was very good indeed, but waiting for ages between courses just took the shine off it unfortunately. Luckily Hazel had sparkling chat, so the lustre was restored!

St Andrews beach On Sunday we woke quite late and packed up before heading back to the Clubhouse for a good lunch and a walk in the freezing wind of St Andrews beach. On the drive back down we stopped off at Elie to fly the kite get pulled around the beach for a short while, whilst the wind remained constant. Some pictures are here.

In the evening, after a speedy but very good feed at Montpeliers, Hazel had organised comfy sofa tickets at the cinema to see Meet The Fokkers (Hazel rating: only asleep for a few seconds, a micro-sleep), which was a lovely relaxing way to finish our holiday weekend.

To repay Hazel's kindness, thoughtfulness, inspiration & organisation ... I made dinner on Monday: a pear salad with sesame seed dressing followed by vegetarian phad thai, which was so good Hazel even had a second helping. I'm the man chef. ;-)

Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS! [Valid RSS] GeoURL

Powered by
thinkthin