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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...

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

More of what I've been listening to

Latest pictures from my phone

www.flickr.com
More pictures from my phone


Friday March 31 2006 at 23:13 GMT [via mobile]

New hardware for the imminent arrival of 8Mbps connectivity in my flat.

New hardware for the imminent arrival of 8Mbps connectivity in my flat.

Wednesday March 29 2006 at 23:04 GMT

Way back in the day I actually used to like SMS.ac, but then they became spammers and filled my inbox with rubbish. Now SMS.ac are threatening Russ because he told the truth. We've all seen this kind of behaviour before, and it's incredible organisations continue with it! Thanks to Mike for the call to action.

Wednesday March 29 2006 at 23:00 GMT

The organisers of Sunday's Edinburgh Half Marathon have published an apology for the problems during the event(this was my take).

The statement seems to have been pretty well received on the RunnersWorld forums, and it is a step in the right direction. Let's see what happens next.

On a related note, the pictures from the race are online now.

Monday March 27 2006 at 13:24 GMT

Due to a strike, there will be no Lothian Buses tomorrow. Thank you to Hazel for the information. :-)

Monday March 27 2006 at 00:38 GMT

This morning was the innaugural Edinburgh Forthside Half Marathon. Overall, I'm afraid it hasn't left me overimpressed, for the following reasons:

  • cost: at 22, this is not a cheap race (the London Marathon only costs 26). OK, so these are not huge amounts of money, but it is still pricey.
  • transport: everyone was encouraged to drive to Ocean Terminal, the big shopping complex for the start and finish of the race. When there are already a number of established bus routes, it seems crazy to ask 4000-odd people to drive there. I took the bus, but thanks to incorrect information on the Lothian Buses site, it cost me a taxi ride to Princes Street first. The single entrance to Ocean Terminal soon became overwhelmed by traffic, and the race start was postponed by 15 minutes. Poor start.
  • baggage area: seeing as everyone was meant to drive, no bags were supplied to put kit in, and the baggage area was tiny and unmanned, apart from two bored security guards.
  • PA system: there was a PA system, but you had to be right in front of Ocean Terminal to hear it. The holding area for all runners was at the end of OT, meaning it was left to word of mouth regarding the start time change.
  • start organisation: giving this a heading suggests there was some. There was absolutely nothing. Instead of the fastest at the front, it turned in to a free-for-all, which only results in fast runners being annoyed by having to go past slow runners, and slow runners annoyed by being ... pushed past by more experienced and faster runners. There was a closed barrier across the road, too, which made things interesting.
  • timing: no ChampionChip for timing is rubbish, particularly for a race costing 22.
  • route: the route was uninspiring, apart from the run along the shore road and the nice out and back to Cramond on the esplanade. The annoying little detours which can only have been there to add half a mile, were frustrating and pointless.
  • finish: when I finished, I came into a funnel and had to give my race finish order. The last thing you want to do after a run like that is stop dead for a few minutes. As larger numbers of people finished, that funnel extended back over the finish line, meaning a large number of people would not have the joy of completion.
  • goody bag: the goody bag consisted of adverts, a bottle of water and an Alpen bar. Not even a t-shirt. The water ran out for those finishing further down the field.

As others have pointed out in the Runners World forums and ratings, it was far from a good race and seemed to be far more of a commercial venture than anything else. I ran it as it was in Edinburgh and it's always good to support local events, but unless things change for next year, I won't be back to run it.

It's not all bad, though. The weather was nice (dry, warm and only lightly windy), plus my (unofficial) time was 1hour 33mins, which is only 2 minutes off what I wanted, and was only marginally over 7 minute miles. All I need to do is double that in four weeks time. Here's the animated version of my route with full stats.

Sunday March 26 2006 at 23:54 GMT [via mobile]

Netgear have finally sent a new router for the Jolly Judge. Will be installed early this week!

Netgear have finally sent a new router for the Jolly Judge. Will be installed early this week!

Sunday March 26 2006 at 23:30 GMT

On Sunday at 6am, smoking was banned in enclosed public places in Scotland, most notably pubs and restaurants. Saturday night sounded like a very busy night in the pubs, with plenty of last draws being taken.

From watching and reading the news, the change seems to be generally welcomed, with very few people flouting the law. Let's hope the expected improvements in health are seen.

Friday March 24 2006 at 17:56 GMT

Thanks to Erik for the pointer to the new Yahoo! IM with phone service.

Wednesday March 22 2006 at 00:30 GMT

Thanks to Sal and the sneakernet, Moviebank online booking is working again. All I need now is my userid to log in. Could this be made *any* more difficult???

Tuesday March 21 2006 at 01:19 GMT

A few months ago I joined Moviebank just in case I really wanted a DVD. It's been useful a few times, but this weekend when I tried to test the online booking for the Leven Street, Edinburgh store, it was knackered ... just like the link for contacting Moviebank. Anyone got another contact, short of actually going to the store?

Friday March 17 2006 at 01:35 GMT

Newsnight is running an interesting experiment by asking a reporter to live ethically for a year. Interesting stuff.

Friday March 17 2006 at 01:13 GMT

Thanks to this great post, I'm able to get much more information then before about when my exchange will be updated to 8Mbps.

This PlusNet exchange checker is smart, but the Samknows tool is even nicer. Here's the Morningside exchange info. It should be running at 8Mbps on the 31st of March.

The final link shows a graph of attentuation versus line speed for ADSL. When my ADSL was installed, the attentuation was just 4dB which suggests I should be able to get close to the maximum 24Mbps of ADSL2+, when it arrives. Nice.

Friday March 17 2006 at 00:55 GMT

Concorde won the Great British Design Quest competition, beating the London Tube map and the Spitfire. It must have been my lucky vote that did it!

Thursday March 16 2006 at 09:25 GMT [via mobile]

Rich\'s first attempt at some pig-based foodstuff making. Tasting notes to come shortly.

Rich's first attempt at some pig-based foodstuff making. Tasting notes to come shortly.

Thursday March 16 2006 at 09:12 GMT [via mobile]

Last night I saw the boys after neglecting my duty for FAR too long. As ever, they were on great form, and are growing up so quickly.

Last night I saw the boys after neglecting my duty for FAR too long. As ever, they were on great form, and are growing up so quickly.

Thursday March 16 2006 at 09:07 GMT [via mobile]

Can you guess which pair of running shoes has carried my weight for hundreds of miles?

Can you guess which pair of running shoes has carried my weight for hundreds of miles?

Wednesday March 15 2006 at 14:59 GMT

Unfortunately I've forgotten where I got this link from, but it's a good one. Check out the comedy cycle path features. Some of these had me in tears.

Wednesday March 15 2006 at 14:55 GMT

Try this BBC water quiz -- some truly fascinating and alarming facts. I got 5/10; leave your score in the comments.

Tuesday March 14 2006 at 13:02 GMT

Last year I raised some cash for four charities by running the London Marathon. This year I've again been very fortunate to get a club place in the marathon, so I'm going to raise money for some charities again.

If you have any suggestions for charities to support, please leave them below along with a reason (or mail me directly if you feel it's too personal to post online). I'll select one or two on top of the National Autistic Society's Daldorch House School Learning for Life Appeal.

Sunday March 12 2006 at 22:42 GMT

After master planning, everything went wrong this morning when we discovered the Cairngorm ski area was closed.

Hazel and I both had quiet nights on Friday so that we'd be in good form on Saturday. After a somewhat tortuous 12 mile run for me, I collected the car and packed up, ready for every eventuality. Our aim had been to leave Edinburgh and get to Kingussie, where we were staying overnight, by 3.30pm to see the Scotland v Ireland rugby, but for various reasons we were a bit later leaving and listened to the defeat on the radio...

We had dinner and a few drinks at our hotel, the Scot House Hotel and then got an early night. This morning we were up at 6.45 and on the road just after 7.30. The snow was about 6" deep but we expected the main roads to be OK.

Just after the Cairngorm turnoff we saw the dreaded sign saying everything was shut due to storm conditions, and that nothing would be happening today at all. After some cursing, we checked out The Lecht, but it was also closed. Glencoe and Glenshee looked more promising (thank goodness for laptops and GPRS), but then the road reports started coming in and it appeared we were essentially boxed in.

Deciding to cut our losses, we got on the road home knowing there would be a queue on the A9. Six hours later after reviewing and re-reviewing our (almost non-existant) options, we started moving. Most of the road down was fine, but there were a few very dodgy stretches where the snow was blowing so thickly it looked like fog, and I had to use the snow poles at the edge of the road to stay on the tarmac.

It's been an expensive (over 200) and annoying weekend, although it was a fun adventure in some ways. Please do not feel the need to remind me we could have had flights to a European location for the same money. It looks like we're going to need to go up on a week day now.

My parents awoke to over 10" of snow this morning, and it sounds like some Glasgow clubbers had a chilly night.

Sunday March 12 2006 at 10:01 GMT [via mobile]

That sign says: despite great planning & execution by Hazel and Martin, due to storm conditions Cairngorm is CLOSED TODAY!

That sign says: despite great planning & execution by Hazel and Martin, due to storm conditions Cairngorm is CLOSED TODAY!

Saturday March 11 2006 at 22:03 GMT [via mobile]

We\'re in Kingussie tonight, ahead of a very early start on the snow tomorrow. First tracks, as the boyszsszzs say.

We're in Kingussie tonight, ahead of a very early start on the snow tomorrow. First tracks, as the boyszsszzs say.

Saturday March 11 2006 at 01:20 GMT

Viv left for her world tour this morning, at 6.15am. I managed to keep my eyes open long enough to wave her off.

I'm trying to persuade her to blog as she travels, and I think she might just do it. When I wa setting things up on Blogger, I was really impressed how far it has come since I stopped using it. Pretty much everything needed for a really full-functioned blog is available with a mouseclick. The one thing I did want to test was the link functionality, which is essentially trackback as I understand it. Here's my test, linking back to the first post.

If you see Viv, make sure you are super nice to her!

Thursday March 9 2006 at 13:30 GMT

Walking from my office to my house, I will soon pass (in order): Sainsbury Local, Tesco Metro, Tesco Metro (Holy Corner), Waitrose (news story here) and finally Marks & Spencer. Is it any wonder there's finally going to be an investigation into supermarket dominance?

Thursday March 9 2006 at 13:25 GMT

My sister is about to head off for eight months wandering in Africa, Australasia and Asia. You can keep track of where she is on here new site here (and here's the Atom feed).

Thursday March 9 2006 at 00:46 GMT

This weekend coming Hazel and I are going north to Aviemore and the Cairngorm mountain range for some skiing (her) and boarding (him). It would be fair to say that most of my memories of skiing (yeah, I've tried it) in Scotland haven't been great, but that was ... a year or 20 ago.

I'm really excited to be going and can already feel the snow beneath my board. Here's where I'm checking for snow, weather and lift opening reports:

Hazel is taking me away for my birthday, and right now it's a close call between Chamonix and somewhere warm/beachy. Anyone boarded/skied in Chamonix towards the end of the April?

Wednesday March 8 2006 at 23:44 GMT

Time for the usual post. Friday was great fun catching Patrick Kielty at the Queens Hall. Very very funny indeed.

On Saturday my brother arrived in town for the weekend, so we stayed in and watched Scrubs. After failing to run on Saturday, Sunday morning was my day to get out and lay down 20 miles along a snowy/slushy/very wet route that has left me wondering how much of the canal path can actually be left. I promise to take as much as I can fit into a truck back there.

On Sunday night Viv, Allan, Hazel and I ate at Orocco Pier. The food was great, atmosphere perfect for the evening and the company glittering.

All in all it was an excellent weekend, but it came to a pretty abrupt end when Allan had to leave for his flight home at 6 in the morning. Viv has now packed her duffel bag and headed back to my parents house before she sets off on her globetrot on Friday. All I need to do is sort out her blog.

Saturday March 4 2006 at 22:15 GMT [via mobile]

From out of nowhere, Edinburgh had a decent dusting of snow on Friday.

From out of nowhere, Edinburgh had a decent dusting of snow on Friday.

Friday March 3 2006 at 01:05 GMT [via mobile]

Hazel rocked up with the DVD set at lunchtime. I\'ve been spinning the disks all evening.  It doesn\'t get any better than Scrubs.

Hazel rocked up with the DVD set at lunchtime. I've been spinning the disks all evening. It doesn't get any better than Scrubs.

Friday March 3 2006 at 01:00 GMT [via mobile]

Definition: see Vivien Little.  It really is that good.

Definition: see Vivien Little. It really is that good.

Thursday March 2 2006 at 22:34 GMT

My 8Mbps ADSL has been provisioned, so now I'm playing a waiting game until the exchange is upgraded to run at 8Mbps. Here's the BT announcement.

Thanks to ADSLguide.org.uk you can see the state of your exchange using the demand tracker. You'll want to have this handy so that you know what the status means. Here's my local exchange (Morningside) which is not yet ADSL Maxed and, for comparison, the Londonderry exchange which is Maxed.

Thursday March 2 2006 at 00:23 GMT

Yes, OK, it was slowly getting to me: cable broadband users slowly getting bumped up in speed whilst I was stuck on 2Mb ADSL. Well, today I came home to a most welcome mail from my ISP, saying they'd bumped the ADSL speed to 8Mb.

As part of the change, there are now caps at 20GB/month and 50GB/month. I'm unsure how much I actually use, but it's got to be less than 20GB at the moment, so this change means I'm going to save a tenner each month. If I want to change, it's a quick process, so no stress.

My faithful USB modem looks like it's time has come to an end, however, and I'll be looking to replace it with something shiny, most likely the Netgear DG834PN. Obviously I'm tempted to go with a Linksys WRT54G(L) and stick OpenWRT on it, but I'm struggling to find time to mess with that kind of stuff these days. Any recommendations?

Wednesday March 1 2006 at 02:43 GMT

Pro just got back from the Winter Olympics in Torino. Check out his excellent Olympics pics of events, people and architecture.

Wednesday March 1 2006 at 02:27 GMT

Sir Alan Sugar is back on our small screens with the latest series of The Apprentice. The whole thing is a bit ... reality-TV-job-interview, but it makes some good viewing. This season, the sister of one of my brother's friends from back home is in it (Karen Bremner -- I would like directly to her bio, but the stupid BBC player thing is getting in the way).

There are two comedy people, purely added for TV purposes -- Sir Alan would never be able to actually work with them. Syed Ahmed for the guys, and the teary/over-emotional Jo Cameron for the girls. It's going to be a fun 12 weeks for us, and pain for them. What more can you want from TV. ;-)

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