Saturday, March 31, 2007

24 hour contrasts

Yesterday morning I went out to start up Cathy’s car and found the following pattern on the roof

Frost on car roof 1

not so unusual but the car door being frozen shut was.  Maybe i had just missed the weather forecast that mentioned it but we certainly weren’t expecting anything so severe.  in West Cornwall the weather has tended to be much milder than say a country like the east of England. 

That was the first time we have had frozen car doors here all winter.  Not quite Marianne’s experience with the weather but notable all the same. 

Today was the contrast.  We had lunch in the garden for the first time since last summer and in shirt sleeves too.

Seafood in St. Ives

We had a great day in St.Ives last Monday for Cathy’s birthday. 

The weather stayed bright and dry and the town wasn’t too crowded, (unlike now, the start of the Easter holidays sees the massive annual start of the tourist season).  We opted for a birthday lunch and hunted around for a seafood restaurant.  the one we had been recommended, The Blue Fish, was closed on a Monday (we found by walking all the way to it).

After much wandering, during which we encountered Dame Judi Dench (we didn’t go up to her, despite being a fans, because everyone deserves some peace on their holiday), we found the Seafood Cafe.

They had what was, in our opinion, an extremely reasonably priced menu, (having tramped the streets we had seen other menus to be able to make the comparison).  Inside it was light and airy, light coloured wood and glass and, despite being nearly full, the noise levels were reasonable too.  I would definitely recommend it.  Here are photos of the seafood main course for two,  range of fish plus a scallop in sauces of your choice, and the side dish of types of mash that we chose.

 Seafood Cafe main plateSeafood Cafe side plate


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hexagonal Structurs seen at Saturn's north pole

This is bound to stir up the alien's exist camp: Hexagonal structure at Saturn's north pole; though the phenomenon has been around a while according to this report

I have to confess I did check the date when I read it but we are still 4 days from April Fools' Day.

Having just finished the latest book in the Saga of the Seven Suns by Kevin J Anderson, a most enjoyable read, I must admit I am particualrly intrigued.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Response to Marianne, Zorba the greek and others

After a 15 minute posting disappearing when posting a comment over on marianne’s Virtual Saloon, I am going to put it here and link to it from her comments section.  let’s start to marianne’s response to me: Notes from the arboretum

Jenny, you live in one of the places I hope to visit someday.

Phil, I’m having a wonderful time fooling with specimen trees. One of these days, when spring is a little further along, I’ll post a few pictures as she requested. Did you ever see the movie “Zorba the Greek”? One of the main plot lines is about harvesting the monks’ pines from a hillside. If you’ve never seen it, you’ve missed a really fine commentary on what it means to be human, and fallible

We don’t have room for trees much in the 1/2 acre behind our place, being the location where I have grown up and lived for my 43 years so far, maybe it has fed my love of forests.  What we do have is an 80 year old Red Roller apple tree.  This is a rare species so we have some cuttings placed in various locations for backup purposes.

Nikos Kazantzakis the author of Zorba the Greek is a fascinating chap and far less inhibited than me.  If I could take a book to a desert island, as per the BBC Radio 4 series Desert Island Discs, it would be his Report to Greco – his (IMHO) semi mythical memoir. 

I cannot watch the film Zorba the Greek without tearing up in places.  [For a feel good film try Captain Corelli’s MandolinThe book is greater than the film (again IMHO) (even if it is considered by some to have played down the work of the resistance in Greece at the time of the film.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Eddi Reader coming to Cornwall

Tomorrow it’s Cathy’s birthday.  We are taking the day off and going to have a day out around St Ives.

While we are looking forward to it, we are even more excited about our date in may to see Eddi Reader at the Du Maurier Festival in Fowey in Cornwall.

For anyone who hasn’t encountered Eddi, she has the most amazing voice.  Pop over and visit Eddi’s website, hearing her sing the song Clare a cappella brings the hairs up on the back of my neck and gives me goosebumps.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Often the simple things are the best

I wish I could remember this.


I have just spent 3 hours, 3 precious hours, trying to get my x60s to connect and stay connected to my wireless network. 

Lenovo recommend that one uses their Thinkvantage software to connect to the net.  I have patiently waited the 3, 4 or even more minutes for a connection; for no readily apparent reason the connection would drop after a variable number of hours (while my Axim stayed connected).  Sometimes i could re-establish a link and sometimes it would take a restart of the notebook.

Out of frustration I decided to turn on Windows wireless handling – connection took 20 seconds!!

I am not complaining, there could well be a software upgrade that is needed, I shall just take advantage while I can.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

3 hour battery - 3.25 hour journey = problems

In a demonstration of the power of satellite navigation on the Pocket PC, I smugly set up the computer with assurances that getting to our destination would be a breeze.

It was around three quarters of the way into the journey that I realised I didn’t have the recharging lead plugged in from the power cradle; to rectify this I wold need to stop as the battery had been playing up and the cover shifting enough to put the device into standby.  OK I thought, I’ll make do as it hasn’t warned me yet.

Right on time, we reach the part of the trip that was most crucial, where we had to find the right route out of 5 possibles and the Axim dies.  Cue a red faced me, pulling in to a layby to switch batteries while my colleague calls for directions.  

In the end we got there through a combination of local directions and a rejuvinated x51v filling in the blanks in the local directions.  My friend isn’t convinced but had to admit the sat nav did help ease any stress.

(Will I never learn?  Keep calling back to find out).

Friday, March 16, 2007

Red Nose Day

Comic Relief's Red Nose Day.


Supported by Walkers Walkears for Comic Relief's Red Nose Day

The title of this post is probably quite innocuous for most people, maybe conjuring up thoughts of a sight of a clown from your past.  here in the UK it is more than that.

Tonight is the one night that sees me laughing while crying the whole night long. 

I can’t think of anything on television that is so bitter sweet. 

If you haven’t already, please go visit the link above, it might help explain my photo below (no, that is not a false nose just a wide angle camera phone – no, really it is…and, anyway, this year for Red Nose Day it is The Big One). 

I don’t ask you for much.

I am going to ask you something now.  If you can afford to and are the sort of person who occasionally donates to others,consider doing so tonight.  100% of the money donated goes to help children around the world.

If the site of a grown man crying drives you to doing things you might otherwise not do, make that thing a donation to Red Nose Day.


News feed and RSS reader for Pocket PC and Smartphone - NewsBreak brings news, weather and more to your PDA.

News feed and RSS reader for Pocket PC and Smartphone - NewsBreak brings news, weather and more to your PDA..

I love Blogjet, for the first time I can easily, seemelessly almost, post from where I am currently surfing.

Here is an example, I am currently downloading Prairie Home Companion podcasts for a the road trip to collect from Cathy (my beautiful wife, emphasis on the beautiful) from Stratford-upon-Avon; I am using this Thinkpad x60s to convert DVDs for use on my Dell Axim x51v so I decided to download the podcasts directly onto the Axim.

What I used to do was locate the latest RSS entry using Ilium Software’s Newsbreak programme, click on Read More (so it would launch the page in Pocket Internet Explorer) and then download the file; this process seems like the Stone Age now.

Newsbreak 2.0 now allows downloading of podcasts from within the RSS feed entry.  not only from within, I don’t have to open the actual entry, I can click to download the file from just viewing the headline.  It is so simple it’s brilliant!  The icon to the right of the headline is even large enough I can tap it with a finger nail.

Thank you Ilium.

A Prairie Home Companion from American Public Media: Podcasts

A Prairie Home Companion from American Public Media: Podcasts.

I had been trying and failing to clear a couple of hours to listen to the one of the excellent Prairie Home Companion episodes.  Now, if it was a podcast I could add it into my stable of podcasts that I carry. 

Well, my thoughts must have been received by the erudite Mr Keeler because here it is; not the whole show I must admit but it’s a start. 

(Yes, i know there are programs to record shows that are streamed but it doesn’t feel right – not cricket you might say [if you were a retired Colonel living in torquay]).

Thursday, March 15, 2007

PocketPC's, Laptops and airport security - Life on the road - Modern Nomads

PocketPC's, Laptops and airport security - Life on the road - Modern Nomads.

Yet another reminder as to why this Thinkpad is such a good idea.  I am very grateful for the reminder about how the security currently stands.  I am not due to fly till end of April but it doesn’t hurt to think about it before then.

YouTube - Taste of India (Part 1) with Trudy

YouTube - Taste of India (Part 1) with Trudy.

the things one finds when surfing and trying out various media on one’s new laptop.

Here is a video of my friend Trudy on holiday with her partner Graham, the Director/Cameraman

[I tried to include the clip here but it doesn’t allow embedding].

This is my first attempt to include a Youtube clip in my blog using Blogjet.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

British approval of open skies deal looks likely

British approval of open skies deal looks likely.

Maybe the opening of UK skies to flights from the United States will drive prices down so I will actually get there. 

I have family over there and a whole host of people I would like to meet; actually that’s partly why it’s so difficult.  We are geared up for visiting a small location like Corfu, where we can get to see everyone we want to.  america is s vast we’d need a lot of money for the travelling plus oodles of time. 

Fingers crossed and watch the flight sites I guess.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Probe reveals seas on Saturn moon

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Probe reveals seas on Saturn moon.


This has got to be good news in the search for life on other planets. 

Now, I wonder if any science fiction writers predicted that, (I know science fiction is not about predicting specific things neccesarily but Arthur C Clarke didn’t do so badly).

Byte Night

Byte Night.

I came across this through my work’s intranet, (I work for the charity NCH but do not have official sanction from them to blog about it hence the organiation does not appear here).

he charity event for senior IT staff in the UK is not something I was previously aware of and wanted to raise it here.

A bunch of IT professionals, mostly working in plush/air conditioned conditions meet together once a year and after a get together, (last year it was the House of Lords I believe), they sleep outside overnight (now that’s what I call Mark One air conditioning.  The link is above.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

What a particularly great day

Today we have had blue skies, sunshine, fresh breeze and, for me, two more packages.

I ordered a case logic zip-up neoprene laptop case on eBay for £13.50 ($27), (pictures next week when I can borrow a digital camera [Cathy is taking hers with her for the week]).  I received an email just before midnight on the night I ordered it, to say it’s been dispatched!  It came today along with my second best bargain of the week.

Yesterday I received my ThinkPad x60s with base unit (x6) thrown in.  I saw a minute mention that it had basic Office 2003 installed, it was better than I had hoped and included the usual suspects plus Publisher.  I won OneNote 2003 separately (a bargain in itself at £21.50 [$47]), so I have the set.  The base costs somewhere near £150+ ($300) without an optional HDD or optical drive, given that the laptop was less than half price, it made the package so much more of a bargain.  (In addition I see that the warranty has life in it yet which is piece of mind). 

The second best bargain of the week was an optical drive for the X6 base unit.  The description said it would be suitable for the x41 base unit but I took a chance and it paid off.  The drive is a slim one that slots into the very tight space of the x6 and only cost £21.50 ($43).

I was resigned to not having an optical drive but this DVD/CDRW is the icing on the cake!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Test post from Blogjet

It did well, finding the blog but not letting post

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Lunar eclipse

The clouds closed in when the moon was around 3/4 covered by tge earth's shadow, but it cleared for the moon coming out.

It was great to just stand and contemplate things so much bigger than my corner of the world. With only a background touch of a slight breeze and the sound of crashing surf, we stood in front of our kitchen and stared up.

Missing bees

I saw this report on Digg and, speaking selfishly as a lover of honey, it really concerns me; no indication that it is happening over here or in Greece (yet) thank goodness.

Missing Bees

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Thoughts on a Thinkpad

Well, I have been giving it some thought and I am part way through to a solution - for now.

The thing about the blogs I like to read, Jkontherun, Marianne's Virtual Salon, Buzznovation, Creating passionate Users, TinyScreenfuls, Chris Pirillo, Scobleizer, amongst others, is that they make me think.

I have lusted after a tablet computer for ages, always putting myself off due to things like not being able to afford one. I did remarkably well until recently, when I discussed it with Cathy, my wife. Work s very supportive but if I just got a little newer machine through work I would not get admin rights.

We decided that if I was going to replace my ancient work laptop I should not put it off any longer. I have covered my debacle already, ending in what do I do next?

This has been an illuminating exercise. where I really sat down and mapped out how I use a computer and when, it included when I am most productive and where. I faced up to the honest fact that for 90% of my time at the family centre where I am based I use a desktop computer. When I am travelling I don't often have the room and power options afforded by Virgin Trains, (which gives me a charging option); I will not have the budget for extras like powerpacks or even an 8-cell battery for quite some time to come. I have my x51v and it has sufficient power for nearly 24 hour without access to a mains supply, it has a a full wordprocessor, SoftMaker Office, and a Stowaway keyboard - that I have quite comfortably used for hours at a stretch.

My use of a tablet at this time would be strictly at home in the evening and at weekends. I do not have a main computer at home, a couple of Windows 98 machines that would be good combined as a Network Storage Device but that's all.

Given all of the above I am leaning strongly towards keeping the Thinkpad x60s as my main computer, when it arrives and if it is in as good a condition as described - I have no reason to think otherwise, but I have not heard from the seller nearly 3 days after the sale. The laptop is second hand and I am hoping that it is not locked by fingerprint still as this will surely stop me getting into it.

So, in brief, keep the Thinkpad and put off the tablet option for this year until I can afford it again, maybe just get an 8-cell Thinkpad battery in a few months.

A feeling of Spring

What a beautiful day today.

The sky is blue, a few white clouds gently sailing past and the sun high and warming. It's perfect walking weather, such a shame for poor Cathy who currently has an ear infection.

We went to the out of regular hours medical service, called KernowDoc (Kernow being Cornwall in the Cornish language). The doctor said that she had not seen such a sore and swollen ear in an adult. We picked up a prescription and some provisions and Cathy is now resting in bed. At least she will get the sun later today when it streams into the bedroom, currently it is flooding the kitchen and have opened most of the downstairs windows to encourage a breeze.

We are so lucky living where we do. I noticed the various scented household products lining the shelves in our supermarket, sea breeze and it's derivatives seems quite popular, when the breeze or wind is in the right direction we get loads of the real stuff. Living in what I call the main valley of the village, just up from one of the oldest parts, we are sheltered from the worst of the storms but get the air from off the sea. I may have mentioned before but I have virtually no sense of smell, certainly on a conscious level. I feel sure that various aromatherapy scents will have an affect on me, I find some things uplifting, like citrus products, and others relaxing, like lavender; what I don't seem to get is the release of memories attached to smells. I can remember in the past having memories triggered by smells but not for 20 years or more. Still, the sea air is a tonic and I am certain that it does me good even if I can't notice it directly.

Marianne writes about the daffodils not quite out and some really challenging weather, I see them flourishing all over down here, I must take my camera out with me.

Well time to go and do some chores. I'll write more later, as i really want to put some thoughts down on what I have been thinking about over my laptop buying problems, haven't heard back from the seller yet, (I would cross my fingers but that's a little premature as I only bought it a day and a half ago - once i buy stuff i want it to appear asap but that's just gadget restlessness).

Friday, March 02, 2007

7 Deadly sins

But it only takes one to bring you down.

This will be a long post - I need to get this off my chest.

Here I stand, a victim of one of the 7 deadly sins. In my case it was lust.

Now, before you go thinking the worst of me, let me say that the only person really harmed in this debacle of which I speak is me and the only person to blame for it is me.

For anyone who knows me well, and I will be the first to admit I have friends and readers out in the blogosphere who only know me from my Internet presence, we are talking about the lust of gadgets and not of the flesh variety. [Should my mother ever be reading this (however unlikely) I would add that I don't really know what the fleshly variety of lust is and must have heard the phrase when in bad company or something].

Here follows a tale of lust and maybe even a little greed. You may not think such a thing will happen to you and I hope it doesn't but I will reveal my story all the same for the edification of you all and the public embarrassment that I am hoping will teach me a lesson I won't ignore.

Cathy, my gorgeous wife, agreed that I could invest in a new computer. While a large purchase like this will stretch the domestic budget for a few months, I am finding myself hampered when it comes to doing somethings that can only be done on a screen larger than my 3.5 inch Axim x51v. (The laptop I have from work is 5 years old, for the technical it's a PIII 600Mhz Samsung that just runs XP Professional and is starting to fail and we are a charity with 1 year left of funding and not in a position to kit out with new gear now). I will soon have to think about my future career prospects (i.e. where I might be working after March 2008) and the ability to keep up with newer technology and to have it available to use in my searching (and my 20 week Open University course) will be a boon.

I went to eBay as I knew early on that I could not afford to buy one of the latest laptops. For over a week I poured over laptop configurations and matched my current and future needs. I then placed carefully crafted bids on a particular M200 tablet, things got exciting towards the end and i was swept up in the bidding, missing out by £2 ($4) on my last bid and 30 seconds to go; as anyone who has been to an auction you may as well have lost by £1,000,000 ($2,000,000) if you come second. A flurry of other tablets came and went, all slipping out of my grip as I decided on a maximum figure and kept to it. A comment on a Thinkpad item brought me up short as it suggested that had the Lenovo Thinkpad x41 on sale for £650 ($1,300).

I checked the Dabs website and saw the x41 for even less at £550 ($1,100). That was the one for me I thought, it had a 3 year warranty and was less than similar second hand items on eBay that were coming with 2 year warranties. I went off on the web doing my final pre-buying checks and decided to have a final glimpse of eBay.

This was the eginning of the end. I couldn't believe my eyes, I saw a Thinkpad x60s for auction and only around £500 ($1,000) - I began lusting. I decided it was too good an opportunity to miss, so I did a surf to check out the specifications, prices and reviews prior to bidding. Amongst other refences I read great reviews of the pre-production model x60(or whatever the phrase is for the version released to reviewers just before it's produced for retail). My lust for this object blinded me to the fact that it did not say tablet in it's description, it said Notebook and my brain helpfully (NOT) added the word tablet; after all, many of the supplier websites of new x60 Thinkpads had them in the tablets in the Notebook section was my addled thinking.

You will have surmised already that I did ended up winning (this term always strikes me as a little odd) a Notebook version x60s and not the Tablet version x60 I so much wanted.

The word of the day has to be SCOTOMA as I learned from Lou Tice on (IMHO) the brilliant Investors in Excellence course. I could not see what was before me as I wanted so much for the Thinkpad x60s to be the improved x41 at a bargain price, I totally missed the absolutely clear description and picture on the sellers page that clearly laid out that it was a Notebook.

Today I know so well the adage, There are none so blind as those who will not see.

I have options and my brain is screaming for me to get the new x41 and just sell the x60s I have just won and paid for on eBay, but I will take the weekend to mindmap my options and then give the new (to me) notebook when it arrives. At least this has made me look at my options and actually think about what I will use it for and how much of the tablet side is desire and how much actual use.

For me the wake up call to start actually thinking first and not just reacting is almost worth the money - more on this when the laptop arrives.

About Me

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Cornwall, United Kingdom
A married Cornishman who is getting an inkling of what he wants to be when he grows up. I currently work for the NHS. [See bottom of page for Blog Archive and Links.]

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