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
More pictures from my phone

Friday June 30 2006 at 23:58 GMT

British Red Cross First Aid Training

Thanks to my employer, I am now a fully qualified British Red Cross First Aider. I've got a badge and everything!

The course itself was over four separate days, so plenty of time to understand the basics. Of course, I hope I never have to use my skills, but I feel happier knowing I have them there if required.

Sunday June 25 2006 at 23:02 GMT

Dell have some ridiculous deals online particularly at the Outlet and the eBay store, so it's tempting to pick up a box.

Whether it'sa Dell or not, here's what I do to get everything up to spec and running nicely:

  1. connect computer to Internet
  2. remove AOL, Tiscali and Wanadoo (etc etc) junk, restarting as advised
  3. download a version of AVG, for example the Free Edition if you're new, or else a paid edition
  4. disconnect computer from Internet
  5. remove Macafee
  6. install AVG, reconnect to Internet, update it and run a full system scan
  7. install all the necessary Windows updates
  8. install Firefox and Thunderbirde
... and you're good to go!

The two omissions from the steps above are a firewall and some kind of anti-spyware. For Windows, I go with the built-in firewall; your mileage may vary. Anti-spyware, I rely on Firefox and Thunderbird. Risky, possibly a little. Add your preferred software.

Sunday June 18 2006 at 20:17 GMT

Seven Hills of Edinburgh After thinking about it for a for years, this morning I got out of bed in time and ran the Seven Hills of Edinburgh Race.

The aim is to go around the seven hills surrounding Edinburgh (Calton, Castle Rock, Corstorphine, Craiglockhart, Braid, Blackford, Arthur's Seat), punching a code on your running number using orienteering clippers. The whole thing is made more interesting due to the lack of formal route. There is a suggested route, but things change each year. This year some gates from the Castle Esplanade were locked, and Edinburgh Uni had welded shut a turnstile from Pollock Halls to the Holyrood Park. A pre-race recce is advised.

Without a doubt climbing Craiglockhart Hill on hands and knees was tough, but scrabbling up wet rock on Arthur's Seat after over two hours of running was scary. You can see the route I took here. My watch is showing that I ran 16.37 miles in 2h 32m, which, despite several wrong turns and having to wait for others to ask where to go, is pretty decent. Next year I'll know what to expect!

Friday June 16 2006 at 13:02 GMT

Following Ewan's huge success with his Edinburgh Fringe Podcast last year and Scottish BAFTA nomination, Ewan is prepping for his 2006 outing. Ewan is the only person I can think of who could undertake such a task and pull it off with aplomb. Here's a direct link to the site.

On a related note, as Ewan used the free wifi there during the Fringe, the Jolly Judge wifi is back in business after a few problems. There's a new router, but everything else remains the same, so please sit, sup & surf.

Monday June 12 2006 at 23:50 GMT

On Sunday I did my stint as a marshall for the Edinburgh Marathon. I was stationed at the crossroads of Mountcastle Drive North and Duddingston Road, just after the water stop at mile 24 ... and at the top of a hill. My suspicion was that there would be a fair number of people in real pain at the top of the hill particularly given the incredibly hot and sunny weather, so I organised a radio just in case. Thankfully I didn't need to use it once in an emergency.

Despite my face and back of legs getting a little sunburnt (you can see where I missed with the sunscreen) and my left wrist which was facing up for 5 hours of clapping being slightly pink, time absolutely flew past. For the first few hours my post had a reasonable number of spectators who did get behind the athletes. As time passed they slowly drifted off though, and some of the last runners who really needed cheering on would have sorely missed the encouragement.

It was an interesting experience being a spectator and not running. One of the biggest tips I gave a few weeks ago when I talked at Run 4 It (I was the novice runner) was to get your name on the front of your running top in big, easily read letters. I think I managed to cheer on everyone whose name I could read with one exception (see next sentence), but some people had tiny writing; it was a good lesson to see in action. There were a lot of people wearing headphones, and I didn't shout on them. You really must miss so much of the atmosphere doing that.

If the marathon happens again next year, I'll definitely be willing to help again, assuming I don't go crazy and think I could actually run it. There really are too many hills.

Well done to everyone who completed, including my friend Polly!

Saturday June 10 2006 at 12:27 GMT

After some pondering, I've signed up to volunteer at the Edinburgh Marathon tomorrow. So ... beers tonight, anyone?

[Update on Saturday @ 6.55am BST]: I'll be on sector 14, between Brighton Crescent and Northend, which must be about one mile from the finish. Run well!

Wednesday June 7 2006 at 22:48 GMT

Edinburgh Marathon This weekend is the Edinburgh Marathon. Whilst I am far from as fit as I was after the London Marathon, I have been considering either volunteering as a marshall or else finding a team to run with.

In 2004 I ran as part of a random team and it felt good to be running in my home city, so that's the way I'm leaning once again. On the other hand, it could be fun to help out, plus I can go to the beer (or bear, as Rich called it ... adding a whole new dimension to the event) festival on Saturday with a clear conscience. Watch this space. Either way, I believe there's an exclusive Champagne after-party, and I'll defintiely be there!

Tuesday June 6 2006 at 14:23 GMT

Two things I'm planning to attend in the near future:

Saturday June 3 2006 at 09:18 GMT

My reward for getting up so early on a Saturday morning is tickets for both days at T in the Park. It was funny reading the history page, looking back to when it all started in 1994. I remember RATM, Cypress Hill, Bjork and Primal Scream closing out the day...

From the 2006 lineup, I'm most looking forward to:

  • Saturday: Manu Chao, Orson, Sigur Ros (whole festival highlight!), Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the Levellers (for that late 90s feeling), Jeff Mills, Nightmares On Wax (although not tunes from the last album) and Cosmic Rough Riders
  • Sunday: the Strokes, Arctic Monkeys (to see if they live up to the hype), the Proclaimers (really, it's not a festival without them), Editors, Feeder, We Are Scientists, Primal Scream (guaranteed to be good at their home festival), Eels (hello 1990s once again), Felix Da Housecat, Laurent Garnier (Sunday highlight, for SURE), Coldcut (oh man...)
It's going to be good. See you there!

[Update @ 13.39 GMT]: The tickets sold out in 10 minutes this morning.

Friday June 2 2006 at 12:06 GMT

Thursday June 1 2006 at 09:04 GMT

After enjoying last year's race so much, Hazel has decided to run it again this year on Sunday coming.

The Race for Life is a series of races across the country predominantly run by ladies, raising money and awareness for Cancer Research. Hazel is collecting sponsorship money, so please give generously.

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