Lotusphere Sunday

Well I'm here in Orlando at Lotusphere 2009, a few beers last night helped me sleep a bit longer. Two laps of the hotel walkway helped me burn off some of the beer from last night. Jogging that early in the morning is really good fun, the steam rising from the swimming pools and the mist along the river are great mood setters. Listening to Lilly Allen on the iPhone seemed to work this morning, some nice rhythms to run too. Not too fast and nothing slow that has you walking. I've decided not turn on the mobile phone reception on the iPhone this week.  I don't want lots of charges for calls to me at 09:00 GMT arriving at 04:00 EST, and then more charges when they leave you a message. I still don't get how the mobile phone companies get away with that roaming charges stuff. It's pure criminal from a customers point of view.

Looking forward to the rest of the day, I have 45 laptops to check and make sure they are working and then lab staff to assist with whatever problems they find if they come in to check their labs. After that is the mandatory staff briefing for all our lab staff at 6pm followed by the Beach Party by the poolside of the Swan and Dolphin hotels. We'll probably follow that with a little karaoke in Kimonos before heading back to the hotel for another fitful nights sleep.

That is of course if all 45 laptops work. If they don't it's a case of keep going until they do work...... RedBull and ProPlus anyone?

Well it's wet on holiday.

I had to go to the fracture clinic today to find out why my wrist still hurts 4 months after breaking it in a rugby match.I happened to be in the right place at the right time on a rugby pitch for once, and caught the ball after the first kick-off of the game. Catching the ball I managed to break a bone in my hand/writst and I did the only thing that was sensible to do at the time, I played on for the rest of the match. Well I wasn't about to leave my team down to 14 men after only 30 seconds of an 80 minute game. Where's the glory in that? I iced it at half time and it took me ages to change and shower after the game. I got some food and then drove some of the team mates back to the club house, drove home and explained to the long suffering Mrs C. A discussion then ensued about going to the hospital that night or waiting till the morning. Needless to say that Mrs C. quite rightly won and off we went to the hospital. 1 1/2 hours later I was walking home with my arm in plaster. 3 weeks until the rugby tour to Barcelona. To say I was down, was a bit mild. It's been hurting again since I started playing pre-season rugby again. So I booked myself into the fracture clinic at Frimley Park Hospital as I want to know why it's still painful and I've lost a bunch of range in all movement axis. The reason this article is titled "Well it's we on holiday" is that it is. Wet that is. I'm camping with a bunch of buddies and I didn't sleep well last night. Too hot (Mrs C has bought the thick duvet with us), too much rain and too much on my mind to be able to sleep. And to top it all I woke up at 5am with a bitching hangover. Self inflicted injury, but none the less, definitely not feeling at my best. So I'm awake at 5am and the rain drumming on the tent roof is nagging at that little part of your brain that controls your bladder. I'm going to have to get up and got to the toilet, in the rain, across a field and at 5am. When I get to hospital at 9:40am they tell me it's not still broken, (why did I think that?) and it's probably tendons that have not healed properly, so they are sending me for emergency physiotherapy sessions. They will see me again in 8 weeks time to make sure the physiotherapists have not totally destroyed my wrist and that they don't need to operate. Argh. So I have to wait for a physio appointment now. I know this is going to hurt. A lot. So I'll keep you all posted so that you can all laugh along as I take it in good humor. Yeah right.

Anyway, back out into the sunshine rain. AGAIN

Classic games

I was recently alerted to that fact that Rockstar Games are soon to be releasing to the world Grand Theft Auto IV. This massive game genre has generated good and bad press probably in equal numbers. I love it for the game technology alone. The ability to go through the environment and roam around and do nothing but drive, ride or fly about without any limits is amazing.To my delight I have found that Rockstar in their infinite wisdom have deemed it suitable to give away three classic games from their website. GTA, GTA2 and Wild Metal. All for the PC and all for free. I know these games are now classics, based on modern technology and gaming stuff, but download and play GTA if you do nothing else before you die. It's the single game that turned the gaming world on it's head. Even before "id" and all that had a clue what they doing in Wolfenstein and Doom and the 3D world. These guys stayed 2D and went free form and blew the gaming world apart.

http://www.rockstargames.com/classics

Lent day 3

Still no confectionary and/or junk between meals. Yipeee. Still the same weight though. Boooooo!Drinking lots of water instead of snacking. I'm sure it's going to help soon, but at the moment is just makes me wee like a race horse. ;o)

New car arrived yesterday. Pics on webshots. http://community.webshots.com/user/tcsoft Also went to the gym to sweat a few pounds off before dinner.

Rugby tomorrow is in Wandsworth against BEC Old Boys so that should be a laugh. I don't know what possition they might want me to play, but I hope it's blind side flanker.

Working from home today on writing up a project. Very dull but needs to be done.

I'm still waiting to see if the job I have been waiting for gets approved, but I heard something good on this today so it seems to be moving along at last. I'm so ready for a new challenge at the moment. The current job seems to be dull and dragging a bit. Still it pays the mortgage. "I wonder if we'll see the interest rate cut that was announced yesterday by the Bank of England? I bet not."

Genius comedy

A major flood hit on Monday evening . Epicentre: Rotherham, England.

News of the disaster was swiftly carried abroad by the town's 35,000 racing pigeons, as victims were seen wandering around aimlessly muttering 'fookinhell' and 'chuffinnorah'.

The flood decimated the town, causing £30 worth of damage. Several priceless collections of mementos from the Balearic Isles and the Spanish Costa's were damaged beyond repair. Three areas of historical burnt out cars were disturbed.

Many locals were woken well before their Giro arrived. Radio station RotherFM reported that hundreds of residents were confused and bewildered, still trying to come to terms with the fact that something interesting had happened in Rotherham. One resident, 15 year old mother of 3, Tracy Sharon Braithwaite said: 'It was such a shock, my little Chardonnay-Madonna came running into my bedroom crying. The twins, Tyler-Morgan and Megan-Storm slept through it all. I was still shaking when I was watching Kilroy the next morning'. Locals were determined not to be bowed, as looting, muggings and car crime carried on as normal.

So far, whilst the British Red Cross has managed to ship 4000 crates of Sunny Delight to the area to relieve the suffering of stricken locals, rescue workers searching through the rubble have found large quantities of personal belongings including, benefit books, jewellery from Elizabeth Duke at Argos, and bone China from Pound-stretcher.

Can You Help?

Please respond generously to our appeal for food and clothing for the victims of this disaster.

Clothing is needed most of all, especially: · Fila or Burberry baseball caps · Kappa tracksuit tops (his or hers) · Shell suits (female) · White sports socks · Rockfort boots or any other product sold in Primark

Culturally sensitive food parcels are harder to put together, but your efforts will make a difference.

Microwave meals, tinned baked beans, ice-cream and cans of Colt 45 or Special Brew are ideal.

Please do not give anything that requires peeling.

Remember: · 22p buys a biro for filling in compensation claims · £2 buys chips, crisps and a blue fizzy drink for a family of 9 · £5 will pay for a packet of B&H and a lighter to calm a child's nerves

Urgently required: Tinned whippet food. Bones for Jack Russells

Please do not send tents for shelter. The sight of such posh housing will cause residents to believe they have been forcebly relocated to Sheffield.

What a fantastic wedding.

Marissa and I have just returned from Colin and Ange's wedding in Scotland. What a great weekend and fantastic weather. We had a great time catching up with old friends and making some new ones.The pictures will be online soon and I'll post a link to them here.

Congratulations to Angela and Colin for a great weekend and a fantastic wedding. We love you both and wish you all the best.

Why do I bother?

A friend of mine has recently passed his motorbike test, so he called me to ask for some advice on which bike he should get. I asked him what he wanted to do with the bike and where and when he thought he would ride it. His answer was interesting.
"I want it to ride to and from work (Paddington in London) and I'm not having a Japanese bike."

Hmmm, That's going to be interesting then.

"Oh, and I really like the look of the BMWs."

Ah, well there we have a problem then. Personally I think that buying a BMW bike as a first bike would be a mistake. They are nice bikes, if you like that sort of thing, and very capable. But not the sort of bike I would want to ride into London every day. They are big, heavy and expensive to buy and fix when/if you drop it. My recommendation would be to buy something like a trailie type bike as they are very maneuverable and light for use in the city. Anything below 600cc would be ideal for this and would not cost a fortune as a first bike and insurance would be reasonable too.
I also point him to the www.bikemagazine.com website to check out the bike selector pages.

So a few days I instant message my friend to ask him how he's getting on with looking at the bike shops and I get a very coy message back that says something like "The dirty deed is done"

Cool, what have you got? Well....

I know already that the he's gone a bought a BMW and that the 40-45 minutes I spent on the phone with him was wasted time and effort.

vis_end_r1200gs_02.jpg

So a BMW R1200GS now sits on his drive and I guess that he has paid in excess of £7000, from a BMW dealer, for it. I have no idea what a brand new rider would have to pay for insurance, but my guess is not much change out of £500 -£750 a year for fully comp insurance. Plus all the riding gear to go with it, and you're looking a the thick end of £8000.

Phew, not my idea of "easy access" to the biking world.

But the thing that worries me the most, is that I know that everyone drops a bike in their motorcycle career. I just hope that this guy does not drop his bike anytime soon. I have no idea what BMW charge for replacing the cylinder heads, but I bet it's not cheap. I would also reason that the insurance company are going to be non too impressed with that bill either, so his insurance will go up, and in turn mine will too.

So I guess the moral of this story is, for me at least, don't offer advice to your friends as they probably won't use it. Even if you do have 15+ years experience in the subject. 

Big Head

We have a friend / colleague staying with us at the moment, before he has to go back to Uni in Loughborough. Last night on the way home we talked about coming into work today on the ZX-10R. Nice idea, but it didn't happen. The only reason we didn't clad ourselves in cow this morning and hoon down the M3 to Winchester? His BIG head is the problem, I simply don't have a helmet that will fit him. This is a first for me, but I guess it was bound to happen some time. I was really looking forward to taking him round my favourite set of bends and then blatting down the motorway.

Never mind, maybe in another life. 

Lara Croft rocks my world

Now I have to admit that is a totally sad post.

My wife was at a firends hen party on Saturday night and stayed over so I hot footed it to Blocbkbuster and hired Tomb Raider : Legend on the XBOX for the weekend.

OMG, I started playing at about 19:30 and finally went to bed at 03:30 on Sunday morning. I've not played any of the other Tomb Raiders and I have to say that it's all a bit "samey".

It reminds me of one of the 007 games I played. Go here and solve this, go there and do that. It very linear, but good fun along the way. Some of the puzzles are a bit enfuriating, but the medium level is way too easy. I guess I mighte have to do it all again on the hard level. Finding all the stuff in Croft Manor is a nice little side game, but also very easy once you get into the mindset.

Once I'm all the way through it on "medium" I'll see if I can find all the tokens in all the levels and see what that gives me.

I know that these games must cost a fortune to produce on PC, PS2, PSP, X-BOX and X-BOX 360 but can't they spend a bit more time making the game longer. 8 levels is not enough and if it wasn't for the tokens to find, I'd only want to play this for about 2-3 days.

All in all, I'm glad I rented it and didn't buy it. In my opinion it's not worth the £30 ish that they are asking for it.

But I still have to finish it, so I'll you know how I get on.

Time to put my money where my mouth is

Some of you may know that I used to do some voluntary work. I used to get a lot out of it, and I put a lot into it. I guess we parted company evens.

Time to do something worth while again.

When I was in London on Monday night having dinner with a chum who used to work in development of Lotus QuickPlace, My wife found a postcard of a motorbike against a kind of countryside background. On closer inspection it was a Royal Enfield Bullet 350 in the middle of India.

Nice postcard, good composition of the images, eye catching design.

But there was something else about it, something that stired something inside me. The words at the top of the postcard said "enduroindia - the adventure of a lifetime".

Erm, sorry, but did you say "adventure"? Yes they did, and they ment it. Boy do they mean it.

Here's what was on the back of the postcard

Enduro India 2007 is a 14 day 'Once in a lifetime' motorcycle adventure through the high mountains, dense forests and chaotic cities of southern India. Join us and ride a Royal Enfield 350 Bullet motobike to raise money for children with a terminal illness in the UK and India. To sign up contact Enduro India on 01225 852 286 and ask for Simon Smith, or go to www.enduroindia.com for more information

Now before you go and check it out, and I really want you to, I want you to read the rest of this blog entry. This is really important.

I'm NOT going to ask anyone for money or sponsership. If they offer it I'm going to humblly accept it. The cost of doing this is £3850, and if it costs me that to do it, then so be it. Both you and I know that this is an unlikeley event, but I'm prepared to pay that much for this experience alone.

Now the charity bit. There are three charities that EnduroIndia support. The WWF (not the wrestlers), The Rainow Trust and The Mother Theresa Educational and Charitable Society. All of which do fantastic work in their own repective fields.

If you think, after reading all the info, that this is something you would like to support, then why not sign up?

What a weekend

WOW, I finally got my bike to a circuit and gave it a good seeing to. OMG that new bike of mine just goes and goes and goes. I went to Silverstone and hurled myself and my bike around the track at what seemed like far too many miles per hour to be in the realms of reality. I got there at 07:30 on Sunday morning. It was a very, Very, VERY cold ride. Did I say it was cold? Only 0°-1°c on the way up there. Someone who took a car up told me about it whilst I was thawing out with a cup of tea and a bacon roll.

The Silverstone circuit, if you've never had the chance to ride/drive round it, is one of the longest (in GP format) and widest circuits in the UK. In other words it's very forgiving if you are offline. There is enough circuit to cope with that and you can still have a nice safety margin left. The pit facilities are also very good and well laid out. But you'd expect all of this from the cicuit that hosts the Formula 1 Grand Prix each year.

The 3 warm up laps for my group got cut short as someone felt the need to find out if the tarmac would scratch their bodywork. How they managed this at 40-50 mph is still confusing me a day later. So we only had 2 "sighting laps", but that was enough for me as I've been here before, back in 2004.

The first 20 minute session was a blast and for the first 3 laps were used to get my crappy Dunlop 218s up to something like a reasonable temprature. I had dropped the pressure by 2-3psi front and rear for the day to help the tyre squash a bit more and warm up quicker. It also means the tyre will wear it bit quicker too. After the first flying lap, albeit a slow flying lap, I was laughing so hard inside my crash helmet that I could hardly see the track. I was so blown away by the amount of power I have in my bike. This is the first time I have really "pulled the pin" and let the motor run up as far as I dared. There is something very sureal about letting lumps of metal wizz around at 13000-14000 rpm between your legs. It's best not to think about it two much or you'd never drive a car or ride a motorbike every again.

I was pulling 150mph down the Hangar Straight at the back of the circuit. That was a real blast, but I found that my visor kept misting up at the next corner as I was breathing so hard. Probably something to do with the amount of force the bike was exerting into my arms. In other words, it was trying to fly off down the road on it's own and I was still trying to hang on. It's just the most extreme feeling I have ever had.

The handling is really, really good. It seems to hold the line extremely well and gives huge amounts of confidence in the corners. I just can't belive how good this bike feels and handles.

One of the highlights of the day was blasting past my chum Richard on his race prepared R1. I will admit here and now that they had a problem with the bike above 6,000 rpm as the clutch started to slip above this. Whilst there were a few poor soles who dropped their bikes, I was not one of them. But I did get the feeling that I'm a little too fast for the beginners group now. Maybe it's time to try the intermediate group.

I'm in love again with my bike. I was beginning to wonder if I was over this bike stuff and I needed a faster car to play with instead. But it's official now, I'll never get the same buzz as tipping in at 110mph and then gassing it out of the turn upto 150mph before hauling out the anchor and almost crashing into the screen as the bike stops dead, turn in again and repeat until huge grin appears on face that does not go away until you are asleep. Even then I'm sure I was still smiling, dreaming about the next time.

ZX-10R at Silverstone

Sleepless nights and PSPs

So here I am blogging from the dinning room table while my wife sleeps soundly upstairs. It's 06:07 as I start this entry and I've been awake for just over 3 hours now. I still have the dreaded lurgey, known in the office as "Man Flu", and my running nose could have completed several marathons by now. It's not fair to inflict the nightly sniffles and trumpetous nose blowing on the one you love and I couldn't sleep anyway so I thought I'd take a look at the PSP one of my colleagues has lent me.

Well lets start with the basics. They cost a fair bit in the shops in the UK, £179 for a value pack, but what you get is a smart black shiney media system that seems capable of pretty much anything. Checking around for prices, I found a guy on ebay selling them for £138 + £9.99p+p.

The "Value Pack" (VP) appears to contain, 1 x PSP, charger, headphones, case, cleaning cloth and crappy Sony demo disk.

So the PSP is shiney, black and very sexy, if not a little complicated, looking device with a big clear screen. It's got so much going on on the front that it looks like it was designed by the boys at NASA and not Sony. In addition to what you might expect from a Play Station Portable; the four action buttons, analog control thingy, direction button, start and select buttons, it has a menu button and a set of volume controls. it also has stuff on every side, just to keep up the impression it's been made by a button crazy maniac.

The screen is VERY clear, well lit and a great resolution. The refresh rate seems to have no problems at all and the DVD movies seem to run really smooth. The music videos I watched were are little jumpy and the lipsynch was fractionally out, enough to notice it and more than enough to be annoying. I have to admit I was doing all this with a high quality set of headphones on, so it was probably more apparent than it would have been normally.

The "UMD" media is a bit gimicky for my taste. I guess it's a great idea to wrap the media in a small protective case and bearing in mind that kids are going to be stuffing these things in backpacks and school bags, it's probably essential. Let's look at what is on offer then. Pre-recorded media only. Hmmmm, kinda limiting. I guess that someone somewhere is trying to create a writable media and snaplock case for it so it will fit like a cart into the back of the PSP.

Sony's previous record on Digital Rights and DRM has not been the best on the planet, and their anal rententive style has not been welcomed by the artists/publishers or buying public alike. So to see that you can buy a PSP anywhere in the world and it will run games and media from anywhere would appear to be an admission that Sony realise that if you proport that the Global internet is a good thing, then you have to reflect that in your business and products. The Internet has created a truely global marketplace that all suppliers have to deal with, and I'm glad that Sony this time have recognised that fact. Bring it on for rip-off Britain, and watch the prices fall in Japan and then the US and then here. However for this little device I suspect that will happen sooner than Sony would like. Getting out there early with the PSP in the nest generation handheld market will enable them to get market share just like they did with the original Play Station and PS2. On the whole, a very nice machine. A little pricey right now and the media could do with a little more usability. Do I want one? Hell yeah, time to start saving the pocket money... ;o)

The excitement builds

So I'm off on holiday (not vacation ;) ) tomorrow, at the crack of crow fart. Flying out of Gatwick North, which should not take as long as it took Ed to get through Heathrow the other day. We are going to the little know Newfoundland and staying in the Humber Valley Resort. We are lucky that they have had some snow at last and all the runs look like they should be open by the weekend.

I'm really excited about this trip in particular as the better half of Mr & Mrs T. Clark is coming with me and going to try out snowboarding for the first time.

I only started it last year in Bulgaria with a mate of mine. But I found it a lot easier than skiing. I was doing black runs after only 3 days. OK so I wasn't flying down the runs, but I was getting down them at some pace and safely. Never would I have attempted that on a pair of skis even after 5 years of lessons.

So here's to holidays and snow :D

Weekend of events

[b]Friday night[/b]Cooked dinner for my friends and played an enfuriating game called Cranium. Man that could drive you mad.

[b]Saturday[/b] London Motorcycle show, was a good laugh. If nothing else I managed to catch up with some of the folks I'll be riding with later in the year. A great lunch was ruined by a over zealous parking attendant, who ticketed one our cars. :o( A 50th birthday party followed and we had a great time. I helped out my mate the DJ, by organising the kareoke side of things for him. That's funny to watch.

[b]Sunday[/b] Bicester Outlet shopping. My wife had heard that they had a Jimmy Choo outlet there now. So we had to go. OMG how can a tiny pair of shoes cost £130, let alone the RRP of £360. 8| Once home we watched "Shall We Dance" with J-Lo and Richard Geere. Very slow start to a predictable end. Nice no-brain Sunday evening movie.