Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Google Nexus S


Picked up my Nexus S today - fantastic phone but never used Android before so am learning as I go along.... tips/hints?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Mac Air 11

Whilst waiting in T5 for our delayed flight to Sweden I bought a small impulse purchase... a Mac Air 11".  Well, I was fed up waiting for the Sony P to get any good (and the Sony store didn't have any in stock!!).  Nice little netbook actually - not sure about OSX but no choice but to live with it for a few days as the Win7 disks are at home...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Padstow

K and I have just returned from a short visit to Padstow to collect Grandma for Xmas. We braved the snow - and missed all the closed motorways! Padstow was quite sunny and had no snow - due to the weather in the rest of the UK it was also deserted.  We took advantage of the situation by grabbing a table at Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant where we dined on lobster :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mom's Birthday/Xmas

K and I braved the snowstorms to make it to Mom's for her Birthday (and early Xmas) celebrations. The snow was getting worse and worse as we travelled to her - by the time we were there it was a complete white-out with 6" on the ground. Somehow we managed to make it back out the following morning - good little car the Merc :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Xmas Tree

Our Xmas tree went up today - much more room in this house so we can have a bigger tree than normal.  Also decorated the rest of the rooms - very Xmasy now!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Thomsons Ball

WOW - what a night. Thomsons had their 10-year anniversary ball and K and I were invited. We were put up in the Royal Gardens Hotel for the night but the ball itself was at the Natural History museum - which was lit up pink :) The night started with Champagne and got better and better. Some great entertainment and excellent company. It was all over far too soon.... but not to worry - we found a club afterwards and then trapsed back to another hotel. My evening ended around 05:30. BRILLIANT!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Loft Insulation

With the recent cold (very cold) weather we've been looking at how to make the house more efficient.  Have applied for a cavity wall survey (should be able to get a Government 50% grant) and also ordered more loft insulation via an offer from nPower: http://www.npower.com/web/diyloftinsulation/index.htm

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bathroom Designing

Starting to get the hang of this - here's a first draft of the bathroom.  Can't get it to look exactly as I want it - but gives me an idea of layout.  What you can't see is the moisture proof TV, in-ceiling audio, underfloor heating and auto LED mirrors :)

Kitchen Designing

K and I have been trying to design a new kitchen for the house.  It's an awkward space but this seems to work...  Features include servo drawers, a quooker, fridge that does ice for cocktails and eye level ovens :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

London

I've been training on the 27th floor of Portland House (Victoria). It has a great view over the City (when there is no fog). Took my camera in for a few snaps...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pioneer VSX-920-K

I wasn't particularly looking for a new amp - but an ad in WIRED caught my eye - controllable with an iPhone app!  Currently I have the TV, AppleTV and Sky+ being controllable from the iPhone/iPad/iPod but the amp is missing and therefore needs a RF-repeater (which sticks out of the wall and violates K's minimalist pricipals).

I found a store nearby to work (HiFi Confidential) with one in stock that would price match and ended up carrying it back on the Tube (14KG box in rush hour!).

The amp is good - key features are auto-speaker setup with an included mic, the iPhone app and built in internet radio (we can get Swedish stations).  However, I cannot figure out the best way to use the HDMI Control and the HDMI switching is quite slow.  Sounds great though - more warm than my old Sony kit.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Coventry

K and I went to Cov this weekend to see M. Whilst there we went to a charity gig at a hotel in Birmingham. The hotel was....well....a little Fawlty Towers. I managed to knock a pint over my 7D (thank god it is weather sealed). Fantastic Sunday lunch today though...

Monday, November 08, 2010

HiSpek Electronics - LowSpek Customer Service!

I am in the market for a new AV amplifier - and have my eye on the Pioneer VSX-920-K (more later in this blog).  In my usual way I went about researching on the internet to find the best price and was suprised/delighted to find a store very near me in St Albans with 'internet' prices - HiSpek Electronics.  I called first thing in the morning to check they had one in stock that I could look at and was told they did :)

So, K and I drove to HiSpek - cash in pocket - ready to return home with the amp.

At this point it all went wrong from a customer service point of view...

Firstly the chap seeing me told me that actually I could not have a demo. When asked why he said it would take an hour to swap the cables over. AN HOUR! I enquired why so long for 6 speaker cables and an HDMI – something I could surely do in under 5 minutes. He then changed tack and told me that it was due to the complex wiring situation. YOU DEMO WIRING IS SO BAD IT TAKES AN HOUR TO SWAP AN AMP! He then hit home with the fact that his manager would not let him change an amp on the weekends. I looked around at a mostly empty shop – maybe 6 or 7 customers including us and we were the only people in the demo room looking at AV equipment. I explained that I work in London during the week and therefore could not attend at the weekend. He refused to budge.
At this point I left HiSpek, furious and vowing to buy elsewhere as a matter of principle.


I sent them a note the following day expressing my frustration in the hope that they might at least acknowledge the problem - but no, not even the smallest of apologies.
 
So - be warned - trying to buy locally might not always be the best solution... back to the internet!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Exposure Joystick Mk5

Finally I've joined the 'joystick' club - this light is awesome and with the helmet mount will give superb visibility when night riding. The Mk5 is 30% brighter but burns just as long as the previous models.

It comes with a nice padded case too - more pics linked in title...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween

Bwahahahahahahaha!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Canon EOS 7D

I bought a small birthday present for myself today - an upgrade from my 40D to the much more sophisticated 7D.  Key improvements are a new AF system, better high ISO performance and lens micro adjustment.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kindle 3rd Generation

K got me a Kindle 3rd gen for my birthday.  Somewhat smaller than the last generation and with wifi and 3g connectivity.  The contrast also appears higher.  This will be the perfect commuting toy!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Birthday Gnomes

My much loved (and until now secret) garden Gnome collection has just been announced to the world.  The shame....

Thanks MW :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

S&A's Wedding

Straight back from Malaysia and immediately we drove to Castle Coombe (didn't even go home first). We made it with enough time to get changed ready to see S&A's wedding. They had a traditional church marriage and then a fantastic reception at the Manor House hotel - the food was excellent! Congrats S-B :)

More photos linked in title...

Batu Caves

On the way back to KL airport we stopped at Batu to visit the famous caves - there are two great things here - this massive golden statue and the monkeys :)

Link to more photos in the title...

Pangkor Island Beach Resort

To wind down after the wedding we spent a few days at the Pangkor Island Beach Resort. It was nice to sit on the beach, drink beer and sleep.

K&M's Malysia Wedding

We've just come back from 12 days in Malaysia to celebrate K&M's wedding. It was a loud, colourful and brilliant event lasting several days. What an experience!

More photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rakh1/sets/72157625182401214/

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Insomnia 2010 - Bedgebury

J and I completed the BHF Insomnia event for the second year running.  We made 5 laps of the 9.5mile circuit in the 12 hours from 20:00 to 08:00.  All but the last lap were in absolute darkness!  Our best time was 1:08 and our worst nearer 1:30.  Total elevation per lap 1,266ft!!!

Needless to say we were both exhausted but had great fun!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

UKC Venue Re-Opens

I was invited to the re-opening of my old Uni's nightclub - The Venue - due to being an ex-President.  So, what better than to invite all the Uni girls too (ok, easier than it sounds - am married to one of them!).  It is certainly a lot 'snazzier' than when we were there - but at the same time some of the character has gone.  More pics linked in title...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

MBK Ayots

J and I went for a last training run today before the big race at Bedgebury next weekend.  We covered around 16 miles in about 90 minutes.  I feel less prepared for the endurance race this year - but still think I'll be ok.  Must remember to test and charge my lights!

Max - Recovery - Week Two

Max has made a remarkable recovery. He went for a check up at the Vet's on Friday and was told that he can now come out of the cage and roam the house as normal. He walks well, although still looks a little drunk. However, he managed to navigate the stairs in both directions which is very good. He is expected to make further improvements over the coming weeks/months but in all he is in very much better shape :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Max - Recovery - Week One

Max has been home since Sunday and is already starting to show signs of improvement. X-rays showed that nothing was broken but the vet tells us that he must have suffered a blunt force trauma - which might tie in with the graze he has on the right shoulder.

He is still massively weak on his right side but for the first time today is starting to move his damaged legs. This footage was taken this morning and left K and I in tears of joy. It appears that he still has some use of his damaged legs and we can only massively hope that this rate of recovery continues.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Max hit by car...


Max
Originally uploaded by rakh1
K got home last night to find Max in distress. She rushed him to the vets where they confirmed he has likely been hit by a car. He's been admitted overnight for observation with x-rays tomorrow to determine the extent of the damage. Fingers crossed it is just bruising...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cannot Start Outlook

Got this message recently when trying to start outlook (Office 7, Win7 x64)..

"Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook.  Cannot open the Outlook Window"

Fixed it with start -> run -> Outlook.exe /resetnavpane

Thursday, August 12, 2010

WHS Backup Error

I've been having some problems this week with my Home Server - every time I try to back up one of my machines it returns an error saying that a file is in use.  I tracked this back to server error logs complaining of an IO error.  Chkdsk returned nothing - but when trying to open the names file I got errors.  So, it seems like a corrupted DAT file - problem is that these particular files are not mirrored or backed up.  In the end I worked around it by removing the backup config for that machine, and then reinstalling the home connector software.  A bit of a worry though if an old backup corrupts - there is no way I can see to recover it.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Sonisphere - EXCELLENT!

Sonisphere was excellent - Iron Maiden were just brilliant and worth waiting all weekend for.  Rammstein were a complete surprise - what a wall of noise!  Had a great time every day and no injuries this year too despite venturing to the mosh pit, pit circles and even a spot of crowd surfing :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sonisphere

Yay - Sonisphere starts tomorrow and I'm ready!  Me and two others are heading up for a weekend of heavy metal and rock.  Highlights include Iron Maiden, Therapy, Alice in Chains, Alice Cooper, Skunk Anansie and Pendulum.  I am looking forward to a full weekend of beer and music :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A bug behind my monitor :(

With all this hot weather there are thunder-bugs all over the place - one managed to get behind my computer screen - just hope he doesn't die there and stay like a dead-pixel forever :(
video

Thursday, July 22, 2010

ST350041 8AS

I had a rare occurance 2 weeks back - one of the 500GB drives in my Home Server failed.  Seeing as it was less than 3 years old I sent it back to Seagate - who duely replaced it with a new one.  Just installed and all back and running - thanks Seagate!

Flip Mino HD 2nd Generation

I finally cracked and bought a FLIP.  The new MINO HD 2nd Gen came out.  It does 720p, good low light and will record 2 hours of footage - all for £130.  Only problem so far is that it takes AGES to charge the battery - was wondering if it was DOA for a bit!

Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX

The VERY NICE guys at Salomon made my week.  Nearly a year back I bought a pair of Salomon shoes whilst in Sweden (it was snowing).  They've been great but despite light use one of the internal seams split and a hole soon appeared in the inner liner.  Depsite buying from a different country and not having the receipt - the guys at Salomon UK took the shoes and a credit card bill and happily offered a replacement.  The ones I bought were out of stock so they offered me my pick as replacement.  I now have this fantastic goretex pair which came after only one week.  THANKS SALOMON - THAT *IS* CUSTOMER SERVICE! *****

Monday, July 19, 2010

Xbox360s

I've been waiting for the new hardware revision Xbox360 to be launched - and on Friday it did.  So, I popped by and got one on my way to work.  It is smaller, lighter and has more I/O than the last revision and is much quieter in opperation.  Let's hope it doesn't suffer from RROD :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Knight Bike Rider - Insomnia at Bedgebury 2010

It's getting near the time of year again when Mountain Biking gets a lot more fun (and muddy).  Last year I went on the first every BHF Insomnia Night Race in Bedgebury, Kent.  We raised over £1500 and had a great time.  So, I've decided to do it again this year.  I hope they'll be four of us again - riding throughout the night.  Am also hoping to get some of the guys at work to come along.  This year it is on Sep 18/19.

Please pop over and sponsor me at http://original.justgiving.com/knightbikerider/

Monday, June 28, 2010

New Sony Vaio P Series

The new Mk2 version of the Sony P-Series is about to be released.  I'm selling my white P11Z in anticipation but am wondering which model to replace it with.  I definately want black this time (see pic) but the 2.13GHz model is pretty exepensive and the 1.8GH model doesn't have the US15X chipset....  I think the VPCP11Z9E/B is the only option!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Star Wars in ASCII art

You'll need a cmd line telnet client: telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl

Saturday, June 26, 2010

TIMBER!

I took Friday off work and spent 10 hours cutting trees with R.  It was a very long and hot day - but we felled all 9 in the end - exhausted!

Monday, June 21, 2010

iOS4

Downloading iPhone OS4 for my Touch at the moment - it says there are 100 new features - wonder how many I'll notice :)

UPDATE: took *forever* but is quite nice!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

C&L's Wedding

Am currently recovering from yesterday - C&L got married at the Priory Barns in Little Wymondley - and we went along to be part of their special day.  Highlights include the band, the food, the drinks and of course, the company :)  We finally made it home around 00:30 and J finally left for his home at around 04:30 ;)  Pics linked in title...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tiki on 2

Last night we officially celebrated the opening of the second floor at work.  V and I organised a TIKI themed house-warming party and invited the company along for cocktails.  I made a margarita and a daiquiri despite my sugar syrup, lime and triple-sec order being cancelled.  It was a good night - pics linked in title...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lightroom3

Adobe Lightroom 3 is out - it offers some nice extras such as improved noise filters, flickr integration and lens correction.  I hope to get it installed over the weekend: http://www.adobe.com/uk/products/photoshoplightroom/

Update: it came, installed with no problems and auto updated the LR2 catalog.  I then uninstalled LR2 with no issues.  LR3 seems much faster (especially to start).

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Still Painting...

We've been here nearly two months now - and the house is starting to come together.  There's still a lot of work to do though (I've just finished a 08:30 to 19:30 painting stint!).  I do however have my study in place at last with a nice shiny new black desk.  Only problem is that my brown leather chair no longer fits :(

Sunday, June 06, 2010

UE46C8000


Another busy weekend of housework.  We painted the lounge, the study and half the upstairs floors.  I also moved all the audio equipment to the server room into a rack.  We had a few luxuries though - firstly we ordered our new firelpace and secondly we got this 46" monster :)  It has skype, can be controlled from an iPod and looks gorgeous!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

iPad 64GB

I knew it - we went to have a look and walked away having bought one.  We got the dock and case too  - along with AppleCare.  It's downstairs sync'ing and charging as we speak.... more photos linked in title.

Singapore - Day 5

My last day in Singapore - and a national holiday.  Woke up late - 11ish - after getting back form last night's awards at 04:00 (thanks Martin!).  Packed and checked out.  Spent the rest of the afternoon with Jus being shown around Arab Street, Little India and various other places.  Did some shopping including gifts and an iron (don't ask).  Flight was at 23:30 so lots of time to kill - went gadget browsing (saw the New Sony Vaio P-Series - WANT) and had Thai for dinner.  Long flight back next to most fidgety girl in the world - paid her back by snoring.  Back in the UK at 06:00 Sat morning.... am now quite tired but what a brilliant trip - can't wait to return.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Singapore - Day 4

Woke up today and made my way into the office for 08:30.  A busy day ticking off as many tasks as I could, followed by a 2 hour meeting to discuss Implementation and then a VC back to the UK.  Left work at 18:30 and headed back to the hotel for a shower.  At 19:00 I made my way to the top floor (Equinox) where the company had booked a private dining room for the first Singapore Annual Awards.  There was a massive buffet waiting with some fantastic food - followed by speeches and awards.  Afterwards we went to the New Asia bar and drank champaign until midnight.  A few of us then sauntered off to some of Singapore's bars and clubs for a few more before bed.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Singapore - Day 3

My third day in Singapore started with breakfast in the hotel.  Work was fairly busy culminating in a 3 hour QA meetings to discuss their processes.  Lunch was spent in a restaurant that hosted many smaller food suppliers.  I chose to eat a chili and ginger chicken with rice dish from the aptly named 'economical rice' store.  It was lovely - right up to the point where I ate one of the chilis - crikey - they were hot.  So, for the first time in Singapore it was not the heat and humidity making me perspire!  Work finished around 19:00 and I returned to the hotel to change and get ready for the evening.  Whilst there I was captivated by the massive thunder storm crossing the north of the island.  The lightning was fantastic - mostly air-to-air in great sky-filling forks and occasionally crashing down to the ground in massive, bright-orange streaks.  It turns out that this is very hard to photograph!  I then spent a very entertaining evening with the manager of the Singapore office at a wonderful Chinese restaurant where we dined on crab and I ate my first every bird's nest - for real!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Singapore - Day 2

Breakfast at the hotel and into work.  A full day of communications to the rest of the team out here - and some time with the Dev guys to see what they do.  Lunch was at a local favourite - 'Chicken and Rice' with deserts at a Bean Curd shop (thankfully air conditioned - the midday heat is overwhelming in a shirt and trousers).  I left the office around 19:30 and headed North to Singapore's Night Safari.  Here I spent nearly 3 hours walking around thick jungle looking at all sorts of fantastic animals (more pics linked in title - although difficult to get as no flash allowed and it was really dark).  On many occasions I found myself alone, in the dark with only the noise of the jungle around me - just brilliant!  I then jumped in a taxi and headed to the Raffles Hotel - to the Long Bar - for a Singapore Sling at its birthplace.  Expensive at S$29.75 (around £15).  After this I met up with a college and we went to a local bar to drink some cold beer and watch a rock covers band.  An awesome day!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Singapore - Day 1

Left London on Sunday night around 22:00.  The A380 flight over was fantastic - very quiet and plenty of room.  Managed a couple of hours sleep too.  Singapore is HOT - very HOT - and HUMID - very HUMID!  Checked into the hotel and was upgraded to a suite - on the top floor - very nice!  There are some great views over the city (the one here is sunrise this morning).  Popped into the office for a few hours to check emails and catch up and then went for some food and beers with M - culminating with a drink on the 71st floor overlooking the city at night.  A great way to be introduced to Singapore!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Roomba 580

My (just under year old) iRobot Roomba 560 went back for repairs a couple of months ago due to a failed gearbox.  It was fixed but came back not quite right.  So - off it went to Germany again for investigation.  This time it didn't return - instead, in its place, iRobot sent me a top-of-the-range 580 :)  I was sooo happy :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Super-Scanner gadget cat-flap!

New house - new doors - new cat flap needed.  Now, you know me, wanted something different and gadgety.  Well the 'SureFlap Microchip Cat Flap' is just that sort of thing.  I know what you are thinking - nothing new - cat has chip in collar, gets let through door.  Well - NO - this *IS* different.  It uses the RFID chip already embedded in the cats (the ones we had surgically implanted when they were young) so they cannot lose them - awesome!  Link in title...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Upstairs - clean!

Another hard weekend of housework.  We manage to clean and paint the walls of the spare room, clean the study and paint the floor.  I also got around to laying some Cat5 to start to network the house.  This now means that after a month of living here the upstiars is completely clean!  This is not becuase we have been lazy but should give you an idea of how filthy the house was when we moved in,

We also let the cats out for the first time today - they've been in for 4 weeks.  Max took ages to venture out - Rasmus not so.  Sat went well, but on Sun they both dissapeared for hours - making it back just before dark!  At least they seem to know where they live though so all in all it was a success.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

House Warming

We finally managed to get sorted enough to invite the neighbours and friends over for a welcome drink.  In then end we had quite a crowd inlcuding the guys that bought our old house down the street.  Finally made it to bed at 01:30 after drinking some beers.  Made a nice change from working/painting/building all night!

Monday, May 03, 2010

IKEA's biggest wardrobe - installed :)

We spent much of this Sat collecting, transporting, building and filling a new wardrobe.  The 300x240cm monster is the biggest IKEA does, fits perfectly at the end of our bedroom and just about gives K enough room for her clothes :)  You can chose your own internal design from all sorts of drawers, baskets, shelves and accessories.  Her favourite part is the dedicated shoe draw.  It took several hours to build - those glass doors weigh a tonne!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Darwin Launch Day

Today we launch our new product to the marketplace.  As part of the 'hype' for the day we came into work to find a load of animals strewn around the office - Lions, Rhinos, Zebra and a few of these Monkeys.  One was quite near me - so, of course, I've had fun dressing it up :)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Webcam Working

Got the webcam working - although not sure K will be happy about all the wires over the kitchen :(  Might have to relocate it to the study (once it is unpacked).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Moved!

We're in - well, we turned up on Mon but the internet only came today.  It has been an exhausting week.  The house was far from perfect when we turned up - we've filled a skip with left over rubbish and spent 4 days straight cleaning!!!  The cigarette ash, tar and general grime on just about everything had to be seen to be believed.  I took 5 aierials, and empty water tank and 6 bags of loose rubbish out of the attic yesterday not to mention the numerous bits of glass, brick and sludge from the gardens.  To top it off the drains blocked on Wed with one being beyond repair and the toilet is leaking.  HUFF.  Good news is that we finished one of the bedrooms, the kitchen is usable and I have my own server room under the stairs :)  I have lots of photos but no easy way to upload atm so they'll come later....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Moving

Today is the last full day that we'll spend in our current home.  We've spent the last 3 days packing and cleaning and are exhausted.  Tomorrow, early, a lorry is coming and we have to move all this stuff into it - presuming it will fit.  This is also the last day for a week I'll be connected to the net :(