Hot and Sandy

Travel writing, pictures and stuff for people I know. Quite a lot of cycling talk, and some semi-controlled ranting. Hiking, outdoor and two-wheeled stuff, perhaps a little computing when it's worth talking about. Meandering thoughts.

Thursday, November 29

Indy's Back!

As you'll know, there's a new Indiana Jones film in the making. Check out this pic of Indy. Looks cool, can't wait. So much work to do :-(

Wednesday, November 28

Now That's What I Call an Alleycat!

Clickety Click

Am back at home and immediately consumed by anxiety about finishing my work.  It's made a bit more difficult by the fact that I seem to regularly feel ill or cold or a combination of both.  Maybe it's best that I don't write any more today, it's all a bit depressing, eh?  Only thing I can recommend is a heart-warming visit to this site.

Saturday, November 24

Chronic boredom

Have been languishing in a hospital bed for the last few days, surrounded
by ranting old people with whistling hearing aids, screaming crazies and
the full and wonderful diversity of ill humanity. I am the youngest person
here by about 40 years. I may chew off my own arm out of boredom. Bring on
the end!

Monday, November 19


Went out yesterday, crack of dawn in the freezing cold.  

I had my fancy "boil in the bag" Assos jacket on with a Gore windproof on underneath, Windstopper full-length gloves and waterproof socks.  On my head I had a neck tube and a headband covering my ears (and obviously my lid), and I was *just* warm enough when I was working.  Because of the threat of rain and the need to keep moving I decided to go on the Pompino, a good move in the end.

Ride was slow and flat, heading down towards Cranfield and Millbrook in a group of 5, which quickly dwindled to 2.  Final 20 miles or so was the best, cooperating and beating the wind with another guy of roughly equal strength.  I was left feeling pretty fresh, remembering 90 mile + rides in the olden days.  I'm not sure what stops people from covering those sorts of distances now.  Maybe it's the concentration on shorter events (especially in my club) and the shift towards low volume high-intensity training exemplified by HRMs, turbo trainers and intervals.

To be honest (as a non-racer at present) I really miss the good old grit-your-teeth chain gang approach.  Same guys, rain or shine, mudguards and saddlebags, strong sweet tea and rock cakes, the smell of wet wool when you get home, safe in the knowledge that you've rattled off a fair few miles in good, silent company.  Looks like I'm getting more and more "old skool" with every passing year. :-)

Friday, November 16

Working Friday

Dog been to the vets and he's fine (not getting on too well sinch he had the snip).  Also got punctured tyre removed in Biggleswade and took the 'naked' wheel to a bodyshop to be sprayed flat black.  They are also repairing my bellypan, which was damaged a few weeks ago by a kerb which reared up under my bike as I sat innocently.  Hmmm.  Lots to do now, going to ride a wave of productivity.  PS > Didn't realise Apple were going to do a Tiger 10.4.11 release, but they have.  Happy days.

Wednesday, November 14

Mac Usefulness

I love working on my Mac - it frustrates me that companies still won't consider using OS X as a productivity platform.  Before I got my first Mac in 2004 I was a total PC person.  Never really used anything else except scientific UNIX and some alternative shells (LiteStep anyone)?

I really needed a new laptop for my studies.  I'd arrived at College to find that every desk in the grad room except mine had a new Dell machine on it, complete with big 19" flat screen.  My desk was empty.  I discovered that day that my research grant had to cover a computer as well.  Only problem was that I was limited to about £750, which doesn't buy you much in terms of  a PC laptop.  So I bought a 12" iBook with a hefty student discount.

It was awesome.  I was working faster.  I was able to use UNIX applications for image processing through X-Win terminals.  I could move files around faster, and the battery lasted 7-9 hours.  Best of all?  I was getting uptimes of 40 days without a reboot and without a crash.  Brilliant.  There was only one thing wrong with OS X.  Spotlight.  It's slow, it hogs resources and it's a horrible waste of time.

My recommendation?  KILL spotlight stone dead (I used Tiger Cache Cleaner, but there are other more hack-y ways) and start using Quicksilver.  Go on, Google it.  I never use anything else to find a document, do a calculation or launch an application.  You can even use it to launch Finder windows and control iTunes!  What's not to love?

Monday, November 12

Sunday Ride

Yesterday was a horrible day for a road ride, especially in a group of 3.  You would think that the 41mph winds (in this, the Flanders of the UK) would put me off.  Indeed I was a little unsure of how things would go as I rode the 8 miles to the start point.  I was having to pedal downhill, and my nerdy clear glasses stopped watering eyes.  Not a good cycling day.

But then the group set out and my yellow bike felt good, just the whirr of the tyres on the road and the howling gale to keep me company.  I was concentrating on ankling and a cadence of ~90rpm.  I was also thinking strategically.  This was a 60 mile+ ride on a very windy day, so echelon riding and finding shelter were going to be key.  As it was I stayed feeling pretty fresh, and was still good at the finish.

Tomorrow I have a cycling-specific spinning class, which I've probably mentioned before.  The last 3 weeks I've had the same horrible cramp in the same place at about the same time (40mins in).  Wearing a thermal wrap and driking a lot more didn't help last week, so this time I'm going to be King Sweat and wear my tights, see if that helps.  Actually it's a laugh and everything's optional,  so when I cramped up I just turned on some resistance and imagined myself up some Col for 20mins. Hardcore.

More later, as always.  I still haven't written about why mobile phones are so interesting or talked about my plans for my R1100SS.  And then there's the ongoing saga of Fedora 8, which I have parked for now 'cos it's too much work.  No DVD + no YUM upgrade = pain in the backside, leave it with 7 for a bit.  Might have a new old Linuxbox after Christmas anyway.

Friday, November 9

Nik Nak

I feel a bit harsh, having paid someone to snip off my little dog's bits.  He keeps giving me looks that stab me with guilt, as if to say "I thought we were friends dude!"  Bless him.  He's learning that me boss, him doggle.


So, I finally iron out a little annoying problem with a Linux machine I have.  I was chuffed yesterday because I actually really like using OpenOffice and knowing that everything is free and above board.  Fewer nasties to worry about, no hardware problems etc.  

And then they release Fedora 8 today!  Urgh.  Now I'll have to update it.  The amazing thing is that the update is available on BitTorrent and I'm getting a download rate of 230KB/s.  For me on a crappy ADSL connection, that's awesome.  More soon, am working hard.

Monday, November 5

Sunday, November 4


If anyone has any good ideas about mobile email providers that work with Orange phones (like, for example Gmail doesn't) let me know. None of the providers that I currently use will work with my phone becase most of their SSL certificates are unauthorised. All I want to be able to do is sent plain-text IMAP email from my phone.

Yesterday I was playing with my soon-to-be-replaced camera while watching some fireworks, with pretty good results. It's safe to say that the megapixel war's over now I think. The reason I'm changing isn't because I need more than 5.1mp or a 3x optical zoom. It's because the low-light performance of my early-2004 cam is terrible. I also want anti-shake and automated face recognition and metering sounds cool.

I am considering getting rid of my old telephones too. I have lost a couple and given a couple away, but I do like to keep phones for several reasons, which I'll go into later.

Thursday, November 1

London v.2.0

Another long day in that London, which means I'm going to miss the Beds
Road inaugural turbo session. Humph. Looking forward to another hella
extreme MTB sesh on Saturday followed by one of two things on Sunday;
either a little child's party or a killer road session. We'll see how
lethargic I feel. Prediction - very. ;-) More later!