About Me

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Cornwall, United Kingdom
A married Cornishman who still doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up. I currently work for a charity and am trying to expand my horizons. [See bottom of page for Blog Archive and Links.]

What am I doing?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Chinatown

No photos for a moment, until I get a battery based recharger for this P910i I am conserving power.

We are excitedly waiting to meet up with a colleague of Cathy's who is now in London.

For the first time in 15 years or so we are going to eat lunch here.

I fibbed, attached is a picture.

Views of London

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Travel to London

The trip up to London, as far as the M25 , was remarkably smooth. We stopped off to make a surprise visit to a friend on the way up, unfortunately she was working on an emergency so we left a message and headed off.

Reaching the M25 we found that traffic was very slow but bearable and we only had a few juctions anticlockwise then got onto the M40\A40. I had planned to reach Arsenal from the North as it seemed to be the most direct route but, thankfully, I had an excellent set of directions from Rachel at the accomodation we were heading to. Never having driven inside the M25, things like "Head past King's Cross", "head along Pentonville Road", were quite daunting - I worried over nothing. We sailed into the car park at NCH HQ as easily as anywhere we had been outside of Cornwall.

Stephenson Hall where we are staying is an excellent location. Arsenal itself is a typical London suburb, built up and with little respite from traffic, or so I thought. The Hall is at the rear of the main building and quiet away from the traffic's roar. The dominating sound in the vicinity of the buildings is birdsong from the garden and mature trees that are on the site.

Stonehenge part 2

Without a gprs connection I am reluctant to go online just to check my previous blog post, so zi shall continue from here.

Once we entered the subway via the ticket booth, we crossed under the road that passes within 500 metres of the stones; it is not the main A303 but a smaller but still quite busy road. Worth stopping for, after the booth, is a stand that allows you to pick up a complementary wand that gives an audio tour of the site. As first time visitors it was well worth carrying the wand and activating it when we saw numbered discs; it acted as a reminder about things we had forgotten about the site.

My first impression once we crossed to the site was how small the stones seemed. Second was the number of different nationalities that were around us, but this would be because of the relatively tight circle that the visitor path takes around the stones.

From the approach to the 1/2 metre high token rope barrier around the stones the site takes on a different impression. The day was fine, a slight breeze and a blue sky with a scattering of cumulo nimbus clouds. As I moved along the path the weight of history pressed heavy on me. I thought about the massive numbers of people who must have laboured for so long to create the site, along with it's sister site known as Woodhenge; a people who would have laboured hard to sustain themselves but devoted time and valuable energy to creating something that did not,in itself produce food or shelter or warmth. I know, you say that in a religious context the site is likely to have been central to the existence of all these things, the belief structure around cycle of life and death; in this as in other ways there is a direct link between the now and then.

But back to the corporeal. Apparently the stones would have stood higher originally but even now, at something like two or three times my height, it is impressive. The transporting of the stones alone makes one stop and think; I have felt for years that the common man failed to appreciate the sophistication of pre-hitoric people, I still carry misconceptions from what I learnt from textbooks when at school over 25 years ago. Ancient peoples the world over laboured with the materials available at the time and pushed the envelope of what could be done with it. From the stone built homes such as at Skarra Brae in the Shetlands to Matchu Pichu in Peru, the materials were used in all sorts of ways to make life more than just bearable. Stonework is a good example of where the skills of ancient peoples surpass those of this age. Part of the march to our current age involves a shift from an individuals reliance on their own abilities to those of the community. Survival of people, in the Western hemisphere, relies on the work of massively dispersed communities; also, as we have increased what people can achieve in a given space of time we have moved the responsibility for the achievement more onto the tools than the man. I am not saying that the production of tools was not specialised even in prehistory, there are lots of examples of sites whose reason for existence seem to be as tool factories, but a person's ability to survive lay more in their own and the family unit's abilities, than a wider community. Enough on my speculations, (I have no qualifications in this field, as you could probably tell), but I have all these thoughts buzzing through my head and a desperate need to set them down somewhere. It's just an example of how the site fired up my brain.

In a nutshell, as people say, Stonehenge is well worth a viisit. The site has a few seats that you can use to extend your stay and fully contemplate this world heritage site. If one cannot or is not willing to part with the entry fee, lower prices available for children and pensioners, you can get a view of the stones by walking around the outside of the site but through a 2.5 metre high wire fence.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Views of Stonehenge

The calm before the storm?

I may be gone sometime

Stonehenge Ancient and Impressive - Part 1

I have seen this place countless times on television and film, acknowledged it's iconic status but I didn't believe it would have an effect on me. (You just know from the title of this and the paragraph above that I'm going to tell you it did don't you?)

It did. (One of my issues is I so dislike disappointing people, even if makes me predictable).

We hadn't even intended anywhere near here; we set off intending to head up the M5 and M4 like we always did. On a whim we decided to give the A303 another try. (20 years ago our first trip was a nightmare, with 5 metre visibility from Porthleven to London - [yeah right, like I meant I could stand in Porthleven and instead of seeing London, as I normally would, I could only see 5 metres ahead of me]. From when we left to when we arrived in London we had complete fog cover, which made for a horrible trip as the road was mainly single lane and windy.

Today we travelled from a damp and misty West Cornwall to blue skies and white clouds over Salisbury plain - marvellous.

Back to our arrival.


When we arrived at the English heritage car park, we could see the henge (hanging or gallows stone) and opted to cross the road and walk along the fence to get to a gateway into the site. Let me tell you now, you can only get close to the stones, ie the other side of the 2 metre high fence, via the subway - this will cost you ?5.90 ($11).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Kudos to PC World

Having discovered that we had a router instead of modem\router meant another trip to PC World.

I got there in daylight, fortunately, as they actually have a parking meter - I don't believe I have ever seen one in a retail park before. I did not expect it to be easy.

I was very pleasantly surprised. For 45 minutes, an extremely helpful young lady called Dee scoured the store, looking for the one modem\router the computer said was there. Unfortunately, the cupboard was bare but I got a different make. The store was PC World in Farnborough, I recommend it to the house.

Setup for the wifi turned out to be fairly straightforward, I just followed the "quick" guide. The problem came with the Dell AIO 924 printer, there was no way that I could get it to install. An hour after I could not believe I might have to resort to phoning the Dell helpline. It had been a long day for me too and I could feel my vision blurring as I typed my way through Google.

I eventually landed on a Dell help page where it stepped me thyough uminstalling the drivers - the strange thing being an absence of printer name after running the install cd. The steps eventually, after turning off the powersaving mode on each USB socket, led me to a selective boot-up configuration - this did the trick. As soon as I booted the install process ran smoothly; it did have strange phrases that were displayed during instalation, such as ''Human USB interface installing" but the main thing was that the printer now appeared in the installed printers list.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wireless Trials and Tribulations

I don't take all the blame for the problem I am about to describe, it really started with Tiscali. My friend called them and explained that he wanted the equipment to be able to connect wirelessly to the internet; he was told that they would supply the wireless kit needed - they did not. A small thing to their credit, Tiscali admitted immediately when I phoned that their kit would need
to be ditched and a wireless set bought.


In a rush last night I dashed with my friend to pickup a modem\router for his broadband connection.

As for many people he has a phone connection that is in a hallway and not at all convenient fir connecting to his computer. He has also elected, rightly in my opinion to purchase a laptop rather than desktop computer; it's a very nice Dell Inspiron 6400. To enable easy connection, while avoiding loads of trailing wires, he is going wireless, hence the dash to PC World.

We had an advert from a national newspaper for wireless equipment at a very good price, better than the sale I got mine in last November. We got back and I immediately set about installing the kit. It was when I had unpacked everything that I realised the reason I could not get it to work - I had picked up a Router rather than Modem.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A walk in Godolphin Woods

Today we are getting much needed exercise by walking with Porthleven Old Cornwall Society, in the woods adjacent to Godolphin House.

The walk is being led, by Stephen Polglase who has written a book about the history of Breage and Germoe, (The Book of Breage and Germoe - the Heart of the Godolphin Tin Dynasty is by Stephen Polglase. It's published by Halsgrove. ISBN 1 84114 243 3), so I'm looking forward to learning some new things.

The Godolphin family made a fortune in mining so there will be tin mining references.

Things I have learnt today.

First documented mention of the Godolphin family was around 1200 in a dispute over a common at Tresowes, not far from the woods here.

There is a phrase along the lines of "Copper rides a good horse". Copper is traditionally found on the edge of granite outcrops - in the vicinity of tin streams. At Godolphin the copper was mined but not the high quality tin beneath it, 600ft below.

We saw the Counthouse built in the 1840s. A tradition I wasn't aware of was that shareholders would meet monthly for a meal; for which it would have it's own marked dinner service.

We viewed a shaft down which an 80" beam engine & house disappeared overnight.

It was great to see woodland with maturing trees.

Below are pictures of Cathy who went with me on the walk. Now Cathy is very attractive and it's at times like this, I realise that the camera quality of my phone isn't enough. On a related note, the 'log' behind Cathy, the collapsed workings/shaft, is actually the trunk of a large tree.

Also there is a place tucked away that caught our eye, not sure how practical re things like broadband access but appealing all the same.

Places we'd like to live if our lottery came up 1.

Cathy by collapsed shaft & mine workings

Cathy in bluebells, Godolphin Woods

The Joy Luck Club

We caught the start of a film last night and thought it worth recording.

We started watching it over breakfast and have watched the whole of it, we just couldn't stop. Based on the Amy Tan novel, it has made me want to search out some of her other work.

"The Joy Luck Club" I thoroughly recommend it to the house.

Very wise words

I have been catching up on RSS feeds and came across the following on Dorkotech's blog:
Appreciating connection access.

Living in an area where wireless access can be a hit or miss affair, though things are gradually improving, I cannot agree more.

Blooming marvellous

Hal-an-Tow St.Michael & the Devil

Helston Bowling Club founded 1796 Castle Green Helston

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Life is full of little surprises

I don't expect my humble efforts at blogging to be of any great interest to anyone, I write it as much for myself as anyone.

It comes as a pleasant surprise when I meet a reader and they are someone special in my life. No names no packdrill as they say, but I was chuffed when I found out.

A little on the recently posted photos

Travel Inn

This was on a site referred to as the Island, not sure if it was reclaimed land or land that jutted into a watercourse that is no more; the entrance to the hotel is a floor lower than the car park. There was a pool outside of the hotel and I was lucky as my room looked out over it, a plus in feng shui terms I am sure.

The room was a twin and was spacious with plenty of room for two people although I was on my own it was handy to have a second bed to spread clothes on and the 'dressing table' had plenty of room to plug in equipment and spread out.

Nottingham railway station

This was a fine old building, in need of a good clean up. The red brick entrance and high roofed interior certainly left a better impression than platforms such as those I waited in recently.

Trams

The most innocuous thing I saw when I arrived in Nottingham was a sign for Trams. It's the first time I had seen such a thing and it just struck me as odd, something I only ever thought about as a piece of the past being an everyday event for others. (OK I haven't travelled enough). I missed the opportunity to catch an earlier tram and didn't want to miss this one, so took it as soon as I saw it.

I am quite pleased with the quality of the pictures that my current phone (Sony Ericsson P910i) takes. They do not blowup very well but on a blog site they give enough of an impression - except for the one of Cathy with Cousin Gill, for some reason it's a complete blur. The next version of the phone the P990i[b/] will have a 2MB camera, this one's 0.3MB, it'll be awesome - wifi too!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Travel Inn London Road Nottingham

Example of Nottingham train station entrance

Civic building and tram Nottingham

What's in my gadget bag?

I spotted the suggestion to record jkOnTheRun What's in Your Bag? post on the jkOnTheRun site. As my response is a little long I am putting it here and leaving a link on their site.

Gadget Bag

A four compartment very large Belkin laptop rucksak. I can't quote the model as it was given to me by our IT guy when he saw the amount of kit I packed. (I'll produce photos over the weekend as it's getting too dark, natural light is best and I only have the P910i). The rucksack format is invaluable and I use it when travelling to and from the office and my recent travels to different parts of the country for work.

Always on my person

Dell Axim x51v
Stowaway Bluetooth Universal Keyboard
Emergency battery charger (runs on rechargeable batteries)
Sennheiser PX200 Headphones
Sony Ericsson P910i
Victorinox Swisscard
512MB Memory stick

Always carried in my rucksack

Combined USB\Mains Charging lead
USB lead and set of tips
2 memory sticks
Rapid battery charger
Bluetooth dongle
USB phone charging lead
8-in-1 card reader
Collapsible cup


Often carried in my rucksack

Laptop - very old Samsung 600Mhz Celeron - but reliable (mains lead)
Wifi dongle

That's pretty much it, I have not emptied the bag out so I will edit this post if I've made a glaring omission.

I have not mentioned the other bits and pieces such as highlighters, glitter pens for paper mindmapping, notebook, fountain pens & ink, etc. as they aren't really in the spirit of the post.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Deja vue - travel complications

It's happened again.

A couple of trips to London ago I decided to save time and fly to Stanstead. It made a lot of sense to land at that airport and be able to get to Arsenal without going through the centre of London. The trip up was a dream and I was at the accomodation at head office within 2 hours of leaving Newquay. Then it came time to return home.

I flew up the day before as the morning flight would not get me in early enough; travelling back I was catching the evening flight, as I could then go into work the next day. The checkin was smooth, there was wifi to keep me busy and I even got a decent seat in the grab what you can when you get onboard system of the low cost carrier.

Halfway through the flight came the dreaded announcement, fog at Newquay - diverting to Bristol. To begin with people thought that this meant we would wait there then fly down when it had cleared but the Captain soon put us straight. We would land at Bristol and the company would look into coaching us back to Cornwall. In the end, instead of getting in at 22.00 hours and home at 23.00 I got to Newquay airport by coach at 01.45 the next morning and home around 03.00 (slight detour on the way to drop off an elderly lady visiting family in the Redruth area).

I have already written about the delays a colleague suffered and then myself on the way up, now we have a delay on the way back into Cornwall. Being in Nottingham I was unaware that there were severe electrical storms in Cornwall, not the strength of thunder and lightning we've experienced in Corfu I feel certain but enough to cause chaos.

We are stuck at St Germans and have been told that the train signalling was knocked out across the county for a while today. We had a report, via the guard an hour ago, to say that staff were giving signals along the single line stretch of line near Trago and that there were trains at every signal between St Germans and Truro. It is 21.09 now and we have begun moving now the Bristol train has come up past us.

I am so thankful that we are on a Virgin Train. I have radio powered by the train and, most importantly, electrical power points to run this computer while charging my phone. The train is that quiet, four people in a carriage of 28 or so seats, I could plug in my battery charger to charge the batteries for my emergency Axim charger and fire up the laptop I am carrying too. In fact I have only fired up the laptop once this trip and that was to extract a couple of files from exe files to install on the Axim.

I am hoping that it is not raining when I get to penzance but I think I will treat myself to a taxi ride to the office, where I can get the work's car to get me home. Cathy is feeling very rough and, given the reported weather conditions, I am not going to ask anyone else to come out to collect me.

I just need a signal now so I can post this via the phone. I have used Diarist as it is definitely faster than my email client for posting to my blog and email posts have been a little patchy.

21.43 we are waiting for the Pilot to board us - yes I did say pilot. It seems that where there are no signals on siingle line track a signaler comes aboard a train and only then can it go through; there's only one pilot so only one train gets to go through, he shuttles backwards and forwards changing trains when he gets to the dual track. It was only last year that a second portion of single track was upgraded to two lines.

Latest estimate is that we are 1.5 hours behind.

More on the train types, having checked out the train magazine the trains that head up the West Coast e.g. Penzance to Glasgow, and that I am travelling on, is a Voyager train.

The radio stations on the Voyager trains, known as Voyager FM, are: Red Hot presented by Heart FM's Emma B, Over Easy presented by Radio 2's Ken Bruce, Kidz presented by Dick & Dom and Radio 4. I'd swear that we had Classic FM on the way up and no Radio 4.

Waiting at the station Nottingham

I thought I would experiment with the Letter Recogniser handwriting option on here while I had time to spare.

I find that I am quicker writing on my P910i's screen, setting out each letter individualy, than when I write cursively. As I do this I am finding I like writing on this apportioned screen and am helped by the predictive text that comes up as I type a word, something the P910i does not do.

Starbucks

As promised an update.

Connecting was a piece of cake, Chocolate Indulgence to be specific, (once again, please do not tell my wife). The one thing that I would like to stress, when you get the screen saying that you are connected please bookmark it. If you don't properly logoff it can be 15 minutes at least before the system logs you off through inactivity. .I have managed to close the whole browser 3 times to date. (There is a setting to set the x to just close the window open on top and I am going to investigate that.

Here is a might be a good example of where ActiveWords could be used to go to the bookmarked logoff page and disconnect or at least close just the open window not all of them.

The platform is filling up so I will write more later.

Starbucks Leicester Gate Nottingham

Getting here, in a roundabout way

Meeting over, time for some 'real' input.

I arrived here by heading from the Train station towards town, I don't have exact instruction but a map will show a road directly away from the entrance that opens up into a street full of shops; when I arrived at the station last night I walked down Station Road, heading away form town, heading in the opposite direction and straight across the T-junction is what I did today to get to the start of the shopping area. I was heading, under the guidance of a colleague who had been here a previously, towards the main square - a lot of which was closed off for some sort of construction works where a fountain and chillout area used to be.

Starbucks loomed out at me on the right as I headed up the Leicester Gate (I had the street shouted at me over the sound of coffee making, background music and chatting customers. If I had continued on past, which I did actually do and then came back to here, I would have reached what I call the square; this has a magnificent and imposing building with a collonaded entrance, it must have been at least equivalent to a three or four storey office block, it also had the first actual tram tracks I had seen since leaving the station.

Starbucks

The premises are much like any Starbucks, the cash desk is directly opposite the entrance and noise levels there are quite high, with the coffee machines, music, etc. But the staff are very polite and smile, (smiling gets past a lot of inconveniences in my book).

I am seated opposite the disabled toilet, just around the corner from the cash desk and within sight of the counter where customers collect their drinks. While waiting for my drink I fired up the Axim and picked up two signals that held, both reading poor strength, a third disappeared when I refreshed.

Starbucks in the UK operate in conjunction with T-mobile and I could see a T-Mobile signal and a Wifi-zone - which is part of the cloud network. Once seated the T-mobile network went to normal strength, which is what I would expect as this is a seating area for customers. I cannot speak for the table furthest two closer to the outside window and above the stairs, nor for the signal strength in the additional seating area downstairs.

Signal strength on the built in WLAN facility on this Axim x51v reads on average -49 in the normal range and, on the bar that shows signal strength that is 3/4 of the maximum or 4/5 of the columns on the today screen. I have not yet connected but will report in a separate post of any problems I might have.

I have learnt to not log on and then spend 15 - 20 minutes hardly using the connection. I will write a few posts\emails and then connect.

Refreshments

Today I had the banana caramel frappaccuino (?spelling) that is being promoted. I was asked if I wanted it coffee or cream based but misunderstood, thinking they ment did I want whipped cream on the top. Mine is made without the coffee and is very tasty, (I will talk another time about tastebuds - mine in particular), and very refreshing. (In Corfu I have to ask for my frappe to be 'dthen me gala' (without milk) as it becomes cloying if made with loads of milk as Corfiots expect visitors to like it).

All in all a pleasant visit. Now to connect.

Thursday 10 May 2006 13.20

This is also a second posting as the email version has not appeared on the site - another point scored for Kevin Daly's Diarist blogging tool.

It's late and still I blog


I never sleep that well when I'm away on my own, I'll probably sleep most of the way back to Cornwall.

Maybe it's because I haven't done a lot of this. I enjoy the travelling, meeting people and doing a good job, it's just the sleeping. Oh well, there's plenty worse that could happen, I could hate the travel for a start and living in COrnwall there's always plenty of travel.

I don't understand what the people next door are doing, it sounds like moving furniture or some other less than pleasurable experience - mind you who am I to judge, each to their own.

I found the other day that emailing photos with no body text and only some in the subject line worked; tonight this does not seem to be the case. Why is it so intermittent? First I lose the ability to send a blog entry at the same time as the photos and now this. Most frustrating.

Time now to hit the sack and see if I can get to sleep.

Thursday 10 May 2006 13.18

I am posting this via Diarist as it seems to have been lost in the ether when I emailed earlier and checked just now.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Nottingham Part 2

I was worried I would lose the connection, so I posted the last piece rather than lose it.

Having had the bad news on wifi at the hotel I knew I'd have to venture into town, even if I was tired. I showered and fired up the location spreadsheet I had downloaded from The Cloud site. Filtering the spreadsheet to show relevant postcodes I found a couple of possibilities near me. Setting off I passed a Hooters but guessed that, as they were not on the list of wifi locatoions I should give them a miss. (My wife would probably call them broad-banned as far as I was concerned).

Icame to the street I thought was correct to find that it was 'Road' not 'Way' so I decided to stroll with wifi turned on and see what came up. In a short while I was passing a bar and glancing at the screen saw that a wifi Zone was present with a poor signal. On entering I asked the barman if the had a wifi connection, he said no, I looked and the signal was normal strength so it would do me, whatever he said. I ordered a J2O and he served me with a pint of some lager and a J2O, OK ,maybe my Cornish accent coupled with the loud muzak was to blame. Not being one to argue I paid for both, found a seat and promptly went on line. I have been surfing for a while now, I'm at a bar called Via on, what I think is, Queen Street. The bar has large couches scattered around and seems to have a restaurant upstairs. There were menus scattered on all the tables that said order food from the bar. I went up with the menu and ordered food, only to be told by the barman that "they don't serve food anymore", now the first time I wrote off but this seemed odd to say the least. I have taken it that they don't serve food in the evenings, hard work this language barrier.

The connection has been great, helped by there being very few people on the premises. The barman is helpful and I am quite comfortable.

Being quiet here has helped me, I would rather not have a lot of people watching me with two drinkls and looking like I had been stood up, I haven't but how else do you explain a chap sitting there tapping away on a keyboard with a pint and a non-alcoholic drink in front of him? Adventures in the life of a geek I guess.

Time to move on soon. I need to get back at a reasonable hour as I feel tired, helped by the unexpected pint of lager - maybe it's the law up t'North to have to have at least one alcoholic drink when buying a non-alcoholic one. I have caught up on RSS feeds, emails and posted a couple of blog entries so I can return to the hotel with my head held high.

I may make a couple more entries when I get back, I can post via the phone and I'll upload the couple of photos I have grabbed.

More anon.

Ah well

Travel Inn, London Road, Nottingham

What a swiz!

Hang on, let me start from the beginning.

Having arrived too late at Birmingham New Street station to make my connection I go up to the main concourse, only to find that the next Nottingham train was arriving at the platform I just left; still no need to hunt for the platform and it wasn't that far away, in fact the Virgin train I got off was still at the platform I was so quick.

The trip to Nottingham was fine. There was only a small table in the section I was sitting in and a chap hogged it with his laptop but I checked out alternatives and this keyboard and Axim setup fitted fine on the flat back of my little backpack, (a present from my wife, who knows of my tendency to go kitted up, it folds into it's own pocket for carrying discretely when I don't need it).

Getting into Nottingham station, a fine red bricked building, I'll post a picture of the entrance later, the first of two streets on the route to my hotel was clearly sign posted along the Way Out route.

Something that really caught my eye, apart from the plethora of red brick buildings seen through various windows, was a sign for Trams. That is something novel for a chap from West Cornwall. You hear about these things but it's only when they crop up in the context of what is normal for the locals that they really register.

Anyway, finding the hotel was made even easier when I passed a building under construction that had an aerial photograph of the area mounted on one of it's screens along the street. I turned a corner, crossed the road and could see the Travel Inn, right next to Nottingham's BBC station (this only has significance as it made me think of Rebecca, a BBC reporter whom I'm related to - in that convoluted Cornish method of reckoning).

I went in to the hotel and was dealt with by a very helpful young lady, from her badge it said in training and I could see that she was new enough not to be jaded unlike her colleague. I asked if they had wifi, as their website said all their hotels would have it by end of July. What he said rang faint alarm bells but I put it down to tiredness or a lack of understanding on his part - I was wrong.

When I got into my room and fired up this Axim the alarm bells rang loud and clear. I have been dipping into the world of roaming and making use of the monthly deal I have to get onto T-Mobile and The Cloud hotspots. Travel Inns have their own setup in partnership with a company called Spectrum. The deal is you select the amount of time you want to pay for and then give your credit card info; no roaming option, just ?4 for 30 minutes, ?6 for 1 hour, ?qw for a day, ?24 for a week and I forget what the other offer was.

The moral of the above is, if you are hoping to roam on a hotel's wifi, it will not always be possible. Maybe Travel Inns are an exeception but I know I will take more care in future. Research, research, research will be my watchwords. (I realised after that last November I stayed in a Travelodge, where they had a Swisscom hotspot that had roaming partners).


Monday, May 08, 2006

wifi at Starbucks Taunton and Little Chef Chiverton Cross

Starbucks
I parked in the 5 storey carpark above the library and shopping centre in town, Starbucks is on Fore Street (part of the centre that is on the street), so no problems finding it.

I know generally that Starbucks has wifi but did not know there was one as close to home, (hah! 3.5 hours' drive away), until I used the Cloud's search option, the night before my trip, to pin down the various hotspots available in the town.

The provider was T-Mobile and all I had to do to make the connection was choose the roaming partner I was with and enter my login details.

I managed to find a comfy chair tucked out of the way and free as a family occupied the other two plus floorspace for their child. I got comfortable and, as mentioned in my briefest post before this one, got connected with only the slightest of hiccups.
Bandwidth was reasonable, ie not as fast as home but I do have hotspotvpn switched on. I did not notice anyone else using the facility so I guess I had the best of the speed. Connection strength was good on this Dell Axim x51v.


Little Chef
Sits on a roundabout on the A30 at a junction with the St.Agnes, Newquay, Bodmin and Truro roads.

The supplier is The Cloud and I had a choice of clicking on the symbol for my service provider or choosing from a pull down list. Connection was smooth and would have been quick, but for a couple of false starts when my browser (Opera) insisted on resetting itself. Signal strength was the full five bars and again I seemed to be the only one using the bandwidth; there was a small degredation in speed but less so than Starbucks, maybe someone was using it there - there were 25 or so people whereas here there are 8.

I have not pulled up stats from my connections manager for now as I want to be heading home soon and have finished my food. It has been a long day today, up at 5am and while tomorrow is a later start it will still need to be by 6am. It is 7.15 now and time I sent this from diarist and got on my way; another 30 minutes drive till home and packing my bag for tomorrow.

Starbucks Taunton

Just time after my meeting to grab a quick coffee, cake (hope my wife doesn't read this) and wifi session.

I was worried at first that the Hotspotvpn was playing up, I hadn't gotten a login screen so assumed (for some coffee induced reason - this is my second today) that my login to t-mobile yesterday was recognised and let me in, [hotspot newbie that I am].

Once I opened Opera instead of PIE and logged in all became well.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Flora Day ups and downs

Ups

Spent the day with our best friends and Cornish Godson.

Met up with cousin visiting from the US and saw some old friends, particularly my big sis - a sort of adopted big sister, from when we were at school together.

Having pasties handmade by one of the best friends we spent the day with.

The good weather, with only the lightest of splashes of moisture.

Downs

The speed with which my phone battery drained with no backup mobile charger with me.

Not going near any of the buildings recorded as having wifi.

The time with our friends going so quickly.

Not seeing some people I hardly ever see except Flora Day and not always even then.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

More Flora Day 2006

Flora Day 5 May 2006

Cross Street

Well we have arrived and, true to form, forgot to turn a corner, walk 500 yards and see the 7 o'clock dancers 20
minutes earlier than we will now.

I can just hear the band approaching.

Just below Nettles Hill

That was a close run thing. There was the recovery of a van blocking the route until the very last second. The lorry secured it's load and pulled back when the band were with a couple of metres.


Decorated Doorway Flora Day Helston 2006

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Things only get better

Posting to my blog by email, from my Pocket PC, started to get flaky. First I had to post pictures and texts separately, then not all posts appeared, coupled with an absence of notices about it, I was definitely getting frustrated.

Following a period of Googling I found a programme that resolved all issues. Kevin Daly's Diarist allows me to create posts, include links and pictures and post with immediate confirmation of success; at one point I made a mistake about the size of pictures I included, the post button had immediately changed to an Update one, all I had to do was edit the post and click Update.

When I first looked at how images were added, I was disappointed to see it meant having to use URLs. When I thought about it and looked at Flickr my worries evaporated. Posting pictures to Flickr could be done by email, posting pictures as part of a Diarist post needed three clicks.

Diarist is efficient, it does exactly what I need it to, is only 109k, it continues to be supported (the new version - 1.2 - out Tuesday 2 May 2006) and is freeware. What more could one ask?

This is one occasion when things only get better.

An interesting week

I have been having a fun week. Not only did I get a nod from Kevin Tofel on James Kendrick's jkontherun, but I have had exchanges with people at the heart of things I am very interested in. If you asked me to pick up a pen and drop a line to someone leading in a particular area, I would not hold out much hope of a personal reply; the beauty of email, out in the morning and courteously replied to by the afternoon.

It's the access to people I might never get the opportunity to meet that makes me love email.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Godolphin House day out

Godolphin House from across the garden
Godolphin House facade from the old house

diarist link

I just realised that I should set a link to Kevin Daly's Diarist, since I find it so useful.

He has a presence on the net Kevin Daly non-blog presence and is found, for the more technically minded, at Dotnetjunkies presence.

I am going to have to get in touch as there does not seem to be a way to donate something for using the programme; it has helped me that much, I would really like to do something to show my appreciation.

A day out at Godolphin House

Godolphin House is a historic country house just 6 miles from us. It is a classic position I guess, I have lived here all of my life (so far) more than 40 years and I had never visited the house and grounds.

I am embarassed and amazed when I think about this, especially now I have looked over the property. The previous link gives the lowdown on the house and stands in for the photos I have to work out how to post from my phone. (More on this later). The best bit has to be how the house was in a "natural" state. What I mean by this is more how you'd expect it to have appeared to people hundreds of years before, not in it's heyday but a generation or two after it's height.

The tour does not take that long; at ?6 it might seem expensive for the relatively short viewing but it's the closeness to the fabric and the intimate feel that compensates. We've been "spoilt" as members of the National Trust, not having to pay out of our pocket at the door for a multitude of magnificant properties.

There was a food market at the House today and this was the bait that drew us . We will now return there in the future to picnic and walk the grounds. The estate once had a deer park based across a hill, the second highest in the area, now an open area with public access. We have walked over Godolphin Hill to look across the fields to the towns of Camborne and Redruth and surrounding countryside and to the neighbouring Tregonning Hill. In the area there have been people living for an age, the National Trust site refers to evidence of occupation in the Bronze Age.

I would reckon Godolphin House to be worth a visit and you could plan a day there if you are into picnics and country walks.

The food available at the market held there, over the last couple of days, was extensive. The emphasis was on Cornish produce and that we sampled was of a high quality, in our opinion. One thing that saddens me slightly is the fact that local produce has to be quite so expensive. Then again, these products were often specialist and you always have to pay more for someone to prepare it for you. If I was to try to live on the local products I saw there today I would have to be on a non-local salary. Or maybe that's unfair, after all, it's not about living off specialist products everyday, what makes them special is the occasional treat.

Anyhow, that's enough on our day out this Bank Holiday Monday.

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