Friday, April 13, 2007

Re:Publica Day 2

Despite my distinctly poor German Re:Publica has been an excellent conference that I've enjoyed hugely.

Three presentations in two days is quite a lot but the last one, under the aegis of the truly inspired and brilliant 'Powerpoint Karaoke', was so funny that I still haven't stopped laughing. That said, several people are giving me some distinctly knowing grins this morning after my lecture on the evils of European Bread (Remember - say no to bread).

Jan Schmidt, who gave, I thought, one of the most insightful presentations of the conference on day one excelled at the less serious topics too and my understanding of the oversized female shoe market has been well, if not actually extended, certainly tickled !

Looking forward to Day 3 and the chance to go back to work getting feedback on the proposed new version of coComment.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Separation Anxiety

Wed 4 Jan 06 11:42
It's not just for children you know :-)

Today was my younger child's first day at full-time school. Hitherto, she's been going off to nursery for a couple of hours most mornings but, this morning, she's in her uniform and off to school for the whole day.

She's excited; I'm devastated. I don't want her to go and grow up. Well, I do, but I don't if you see what I mean. She is just so lovely at the moment and I don't want to lose my 'little' girl.

It was hilarious in the event; the kids were in the classroom chatting away excitedly whilst the parents took pictures, broke into tears (I manfully avoided this - thank goodness) and nearly had to be manhandled out of the classroom. We all then stood like a bunch of lemons at the windows waving and blowing kisses whilst the kids ignored us.

My wife is threatening to go and pick her up midday just in case she doesn't like it. I pointed out that she loves school, is with all her friends and would probably refuse to leave but logic and mums don't mix.


Mon 24 Apr 06 17:26
The ground gets harder as you get older. I can't prove this scientifically but I am utterly convinced that it's the case. The following, I think, proves the point;

I fell off my motorbike at Cadwell Park in Oct 04 and twanged my ankle and broke a couple of ribs. When I used to race, many years ago, I remember falling off in a race, having a couple of drinks and generally feeling OK the following day. Well, after Cadwell I was getting wheeled around the office on my chair because I couldn't walk and I was desperately trying not to laugh because it hurt so much :-) (and I didn't get much sympathy from my wife either)

On Saturday I suffered a severe bruising of the ego as well as the body. Challenged to try a 'drop off' on my mountain bike I decided to give it a go. However, it was hard to see the four foot drop so I rode towards it carefully .... only to miss the lip and then try to stop just on the edge ... and, of course, the edge gave way pitching me head first off the drop.

I lay there in the dirt, listening to my 'friend' trying not to laugh too loudly and asking me if I was OK. "I'm OK ... but I may lie here for a moment or two!" I said.

Yesterday, Sunday, I'd developed a great collection of bruises and scrapes and could barely walk. I'd managed to give myself two dead legs when my thighs hit the handlebars !

Pics showing my ignominious fall to follow ..... if you're lucky


PS. Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch
Yesterday was a complete, total and utter nightmare.

I had a meeting in Shoreditch in the morning and then had to get to a funeral in Suffolk for the afternoon.

Ah ha, I thought, take the bike ... will get me to both comfortably irrespective of the traffic situation.

However, as I entered Chelsea I felt the familiar 'loose' feeling on the back end which signalled a flat tyre. Bugger ! Oh well, time to call the AA .... oh damn, mobile phone battery is flat.

Walked a way back up the road to buy some tyreweld to get me to the meeting. Tried it .... made it another mile before tyre deflated again .... pushed it a further half mile to Vauxhall and a handy bike tyre shop.

Got taxi to get me to Shoreditch. Took forever and I was sweating heavily in my one-piece leathers. Found I only had Euros in my wallet when I finally arrived, one hour late, at my meeting. Taxi driver, fortunately, took pity on me and accepted payment in Euros !

Business partners looked somewhat askance as red-faced, sweaty and leather-clad individual arrives to discuss serious matters ! Good meeting though ... once they'd finished laughing.

Then, get taxi all the way back to Vauxhall, collect bike, pay for expensive new tyres and head off to funeral. It won't surprise you to learn that I got lost en-route and only just made it in time ....
Spent Tuesday 16th May at Cadwell Park.

An amazing circuit; I vacillate between it and Oulton Park as being the best in the UK. I usually end up deciding whichever I've just ridden is the best.

Anyway, was my fifth trackday on my new bike and, finally, I really started to feel at home on it. I'm a creature of habit and my old bike, nicknamed Old Smokey as the bores and piston rings were starting to get a little tired after 45k miles around most of the UK's and several French and German tracks, felt like a comfy pair of slippers. I felt that I could really push it and know what it would do.

However, when I first got the new bike despite it's massively higher performance potential I was actually a bit slower. Not surprising really. So, I set about learning its quirks and setting it up the way I like it.

I ditched the standard fitment tyres for Pirelli Diablo Corsas, replaced the pads with Carbone Lorraine SBK3s, fitted braided hoses and, most importantly, got the suspension properly setup for my weight and riding style.

Well the end result was stupendous. With the more familiar feel of the tyres and brakes I was able to start to push it a bit more and ...... wow ! Was at least 20mph faster into both Coppice and Park and then held most of that extra speed all the way around.

Barn was a revelation; it's an off-camber fast bend which is absolutely critical because it slingshots you onto the start/finish straight. It's also where Steve Hislop lost out on a BSB championship and broke his collarbone like many riders before him because it can be slippery under the trees and there is very little run off if you get it wrong.

However, amazing, the new bike just shimmies sideways a little as you reach the limits of grip; not a scary feeling at all and you can control it really nicely. I know a real racer would be going a lot faster but, for me, it was really exhilarating.

So, a great day and I can't wait for the next one at Mallory.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Vista is full of rocks and gullies ....

I'm sure I'm not the only one to write something similar but Microsoft have REALLY failed with the Vista launch.

Why ?

Well, today I bought a new computer for my home office from Dell. Dell, according to its website, officially recommends Windows Vista. I had heard nightmares from various sources of people trying, and failing, to upgrade but thought that since it was a new machine and that Dell were recommending Vista I may as well go ahead with it. So, I specced the machine; dvd/cd drive, graphics card, internal modem etc etc etc.

Short while after placing the order online I receive a phone call from Dell. "Sorry, your optical drive is not compatible with the software ... is it OK if we substitute another drive ?". Well, OK, reluctantly I decide that it is OK.

Short while later again, a further call arrives from Dell. "Sorry, your internal modem is not compatible with the software ... nor is the graphics card .... can we substitute the graphics card and use an external modem ?". No, I decide, you can't ... I don't want an external modem ... they're a pain in the posterior. And then, suddenly, it clicks .... "by software you mean Windows Vista don't you ?". "Well, yes, it is a very new system" comes the reply. "So", I ask, "if I just buy it with Windows XP installed does everything work ?". Guess what, the answer is yes !

So, needless to say, I have ordered my new desktop with Windows XP installed. And this is where I start wondering how on earth Microsoft can have got it so wrong. I wasn't ordering anything strange or esoteric; I was ordering from a reputable manufacturer; I was ordering Microsoft Office as the only other pre-installed software. Yet, despite that, Vista was incompatible.

How ? Just what were those five years of development spent on ?