Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Ufff - my brain hurts! I have set myself two challenges by xmas. The first is to get my head around a new(ish) web publishing platform we have developed at work. It involves an understanding of XSLT along with a bespoke editorial application. The second is to attain my MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist) on SQL2005. I have an exam voucher for the latter that runs out late Dec. However, I have found an exam centre just down the road which will allow me to book with 24 hours notice. So - my plan is to get the MCTS out of the way asap leaving me a clear run at XSLT coding. Today was my first uninterupted day of studying - something I have not really done since Uni and my brain feels squished as a result. Beer!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Pumpkin soup

With the help of two pupkins (see below) I made some pumpkin soup yesterday for lunch. Actually, it was pumpkin, coconut and chilli soup - sounds strage but tasted quite nice. J and S came for lunch and I even managed to restrain myself from adding my usual ammount of chillis :)

Friday, October 27, 2006

R says I never blog about him....

R was winging at the pub this evening about how I blog about everyone except him...so, well, here is a blog about R. We love you R!!!!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A moves to Knebworth!

We heard yesterday that a good friend of ours (named A for the purposes of this blog) has bought a house just down the road from us. Not sure who was more excited - A for doing the buying or J for having another beer partner :) Anyway - surveys aside he should be resident by xmas - woohoo!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New V1605 - 4th one :)

I received my 4th (yes - 4) V1605 today. It is a long story but basically the first one I had was faulty and was replaced. The second was dropped and as I had a trade show to go to where I needed it to demo I had to buy a third. The second made it for repair and was lost by Vodafone. They then replaced this with a fourth which turned up this morning. As such I now have number 4 on ebay hoping to sell it to make up my loss from when I bought number 3. Confused?

Pics below show what NOT to do to your new and expensive gadget!

Monday, October 23, 2006

It's my birthday!

You know when you are a geek when you get more automated 'happy birthday' messages from web bulletin boards than you do your friends :)

Had a great weekend though with lots of drinks cumulating with 4 of us in the Embassy playing Perudo until 04:00. Got a very cool t-shirt (see below) and a wide angle lens for my camcorder (see demo below). Managed to make the entire weekend without waking up in the kitchen once which is nice. The last year of my 20s doesn't feel any different yet but I am wondering what things I need to get done in the next 12 months...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Evolution of beauty

Saw this on youtube and thought it was pretty good....

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

iPod has hiccups...

I have been noticing lately that my podcasts have hiccups. Every few minutes they seems to garble or stutter for about 1 second. If I rewind the podcast and replay it the garbling does not re-occur. This has happened since I updated to the 1.2 version of the iPod firmware which came with iTunes 7. A bit of digging found this apple discussion detailing the problem. Have not had a chance to try the 'spoken word' EQ setting yet but will do as I am not overly happy downgrading to V1.1. Fingers crossed...

Update - the EQ setting works and my podcasts sound nice and clear again. I also found that by disabling shuffle on the iPod I can once again hear the podcasts back to back. Seems this new firmware was no so great...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Aston Martin Day

As reported earlier in this blog I won a competition for a day with Aston Martin and their Vanquish S supercar. I had to fly to Amsterdam on Mon for IFRA (see below post) but managed to catch a last minute flight back to allow me to accept the prize....

The day started with breakfast at the Aston Martin factory - full VIP treatment was given to me and the other 3 winners. In fact, this was the first time they have done this - until now the ONLY way to do what I was doing was to actually buy an Vanquish S (a mere £177,000 before options). Breakfast was followed by a brief introduction to Aston Martin by their PR guy whilst we were waiting for the race drivers to get ready. After this we split into 2 groups of two and I was assigned to drive in the morning and visist the factory in the afternoon.

I opted for the perlescant white Vanquish S and we set off towards Milbrooke proving grounds. Once there I spent two hours driving and learning about the Vanquish S. Highlights were many but included a 67m 100-0mph brake test, being told to try and keep in under 120mph through the puddles, 135mph forcing Porches out of the way and to top it all driving several miles with no hands at 100mph in the rain steering the car with the throttle round the banked circuit!!!!!

After the best 2 hours driving of my life we went back to the factory for lunch (again VIP treatment) and spent the rest of the afternoon seeing how the Vanquish S is built - fascinating! We also had a chance to look around the Heritage restoration works were we saw Paul McCartney's old DB5 and the DB5 that had just come back from 007 Casino Royale filming :)

Best driving day of my life yet - thanks Aston Martin!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

IFRA - Amsterdam

I am nearing the end of 3 days in Amsterdam at the annual IFRA trade show. I came out on Monday, returned that evening ready for Aston Martin on Tuesday (more later), and after two full days am returning late tonight. An exhausting time but good fun. Bumped into a few of the old Unisys crowd and even managed a brief excursion into Amsterdam town to see the sights.

Friday, October 06, 2006

At last - GOODBYE!

FINALLY - the guys accross the road are moving. This makes us very happy. Since we have moved in they have been annoying. It started with a caravan kept on the road - it never went anywhere but instead slowly rotted. The annoying thing they have a driveway they could/should have put it in. Then there is the cones which they used to 'reserve' parking along the street - it's a public road!!! We also have the car alarm - this finally broke my patience. Every time he opens/closes the car it beeps...and then goes off..and then beeps more as he tries to reset it. GRRRRRR.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006


I received a letter today from Aston Martin - a little odd... In this letter was confirmation that I am one of 4 people to have won a competition - even more odd (I never win competitions). It turns out that my luck was in - from a competition I entered months ago. The prize is a half day at Milbrooke testing grounds driving a ... wait for it ... Aston Martin Vanquish S! For those not in the know this is a £177,000+ 200mph V12 supercar! I will then have a posh lunch and afterwards be taken for an exclusive visit to Aston Martin's factory in Newport Pagnell. WOW!

One small problem - I am meant to be in Amsterdam all week for IFRA (a publishing trade show)...damn! Luckily my boss was feeling very helpfull and has alowed me to fly back for the day so as not to miss out - THANKS DAVE!!!!

So, on Tuesday I shall be living the dream of many and piloting a supercar around closed off roads - I cannot wait!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fire :)

We had our first fire on Sat and Sun night - finally it was cold enough to not cook ourselves doing it. Nothing quite like some jazz, good wine and a big FIRE!!!! :)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Winery visit

K and I went to West Sussex this weekend to visit Bookers Vineyard. The day started at 10:00 and went on to 14:00 including lunch. We started with a tour of the vineyard fields with the many different varieties and ended up in the winery itself for a talk on how the wine is produced and bottled. Our host was very good in both his presentation and knowledge and we both had an excellent time. We left with a few 'samples' for further research reasons :)