Tuesday, 27 August 2013

So right now we are in international waters, having left Chiwan this
afternoon. The route through the harbour is long and torturous, involving
pilots from both Hong Kong and China. It takes ~4.5 hours each way so we
ended up spending more time in the harbour than berthed!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Have just left port of Hong Kong en route to Singapore by sea.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

 I cannot express what a disaster internet connectivity has been.
There's a guy onboard to fix the internet - we have taken to referring to
him as the Master of Disaster. 'Nuff said.
Plus a screwup with immigration means that there is and has not been
any shore leave at Chinese ports. :-( So I haven't been able to get ashore
to hit an internet cafe.

And needless to say, my plan to spend my birthday shopping and hitting the
spa in Yantian has had to be cancelled. Instead I will be baking
*something* with Cookie for all hands. What that will be I do not know
because as a result of the immigration snafu, we are short of supplies and
there is no flour. I'm guessing I'll end up doing a bread and butter
pudding or a kugel of some sort. Captain has promised to open a few
bottles of bubbly as well. I'll be sure to take some photos, particularly
of the baking, to add to my collection of cooking in odd places.

What else? Well, I have been learning an awful lot about ballast
operations and cargo planning. So much so that I have begun carrying my
notebook with me and have been jotting down ideas for improving the
software. Plus I taught J how to work with csv files so now he can
manipulate the output from the cargo program to generate his report for
Dangerous Goods at each port - a major time savings as he was having to
copy/paste each item from a PDF and this could take hours!

So, I go now to return to the evening watch. The sun has set and we are
surrounded by loads of fishing vessels. There is a steady background
murmur of chinese fishermen taunting each other on the distress band, but
the sea is calm and the humidity is down to 85%, so a lovely night.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

It's 05:00 and I'm on the bridge. The morning shift is from 04:00 - 08:00 so
the wakeup call comes in at 03:40. The bridge is kept dark so that the
lookouts aren't blinded, the only light a subdued glow from the radar,
sonar, etc. There are so many machines that I am reminded of the Monty
Python bit - The Machine That Goes Ping...

Anyway, we have just crossed from the South China Sea into the Taiwan
Strait. A Search & Rescue notification has come in of a man overboard from
another ship not too far away. Meanwhile we must constantly adjust course
due to the prevalence of fishing boats added to which we now keep watch for
the guy in the soup.

Monday, 19 August 2013

I'm onboard and we left Hong Kong about 2 hours ago...

Hong Kong is my kinda town. Much like NYC in that it's fast-paced, good
for walking and window shopping (hell, great for REAL shopping!), great
transportation, food, people-watching, etc. Plus, much like NYC, it's a 24
hour burg.

I got a new business wardrobe run up for me over the weekend - 3 skirt
suits and 3 suit dresses plus 10 business shirts for GBP1500. A bit
extravagant but as I'm launching myself back into the corporate side of
the business world, it's sadly necessary.

At 01:45 the port agent met me at the hotel and transferred me to the
ship. The captain now has my passport and yellow fever immunisation
booklet and has threatened to sell me into white slavery if I don't
behave. ;-)He obviously knows the cut of my jib.

So after much offloading of containers and ballast balancing we have left
port. I took plenty of pictures. There was some excitement on the bridge
as we passed an amusement park but I had to sadly inform the crew that
that was not Disney Hong Kong - which would be far more fabulous and have
a flipping castle. Plus I think that Disney HK is the other way from the

Thursday, 13 June 2013

New Gallery at TNMOC


New Software Gallery opens at The National Museum of Computing
Young people invited to participate in 'The Grand Digital', a new computing world record attempt

13 June 2013

A new Software Gallery was opened yesterday at The National Museum of Computing by Sir Charles Dunstone, Chairman of The Carphone Warehouse Group and TalkTalk Group. The new gallery, sponsored by Insightsoftware.com, traces the development of computing software from its beginnings on huge computers to its presence in everyday household items. The Software Gallery complements the unrivalled collection of seven decades of working hardware on display at the Museum.

Sir Charles Dunstone said: "This is my first visit to The National Museum of Computing and I have been astonished at the amazing displays of working vintage computers. The Museum dramatically demonstrates the pace of change in computing since Colossus, the world's first electronic computer, a British first which has been such a well-kept secret and which the Museum displays so well as a working rebuild. Since then hardware and software have combined to give consumers access to so much information in a way that could not have been conceived of even a few years ago. I was particularly impressed to see the enthusiasm and wonder of a party of school pupils learning about their computer heritage as I toured the new Gallery and the Museum."

To read the full release with pictures from the opening see http://www.tnmoc.org/news/news-releases/new-software-gallery-opens-tnmoc

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Quick update from the Himalayas

Brief email from Astrid this morning:

I'm ok. Have been going off-piste, following yak trails and such. Too
much to cover by email but having a lovely time.

Monday, 29 April 2013

News from Nepal -

Asti arrived at Kathmandu airport at 5am hoping to get on her reserved 6:30am flight to Lukla. But she discovered there had been some inexplicable mix-up with her reservation and it turned out to be in her former-married name. Of course she had no documentation or ID in that name and it was heading toward disaster until she phoned her contact/friend in Namche Bazaar. A quick phone call from there to some Powers That Be and the difficulties eased and Asti was able to get on a flight to Lukla. Ah the pleasure of power.

The flight to Lukla is infamously difficult and dangerous and this one lived up to its bad reputation. The wind and weather conditions were so bad that right after Asti's flight landed, the airport was closed for the day.  But after its difficult start, the day started going really well. The helicopter was waiting and took Asti directly to Namche Bazaar. She said it was a great flight and she got some terrific photos she will post to the web as soon as she can.

So far, no altitude sickness this trip but she was prepared. She's acclimating to the altitude well.

Random notes
1. Doha airport is excellent! Great shopping! Smoking Lounges!
2. Breaking the flight in Doha is much better timing than in Mumbai. More even flight segment and saner departure and arrival hours.
3. The connectivity of the new iPad is awesome!
4. Picking up a new sim card in Kathmandu is a wise move.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Packing Done

So as I passed a sleepless night last night, my mind incessantly whirring and plannig, it dawned on me that I haven't had a vacation where I wasn't working 50% in friggin' years! So while I had been toying with the idea of maybe trekking in Mustang or doing some Annapurna Circuit, I've decided instead to just relax for once. Or at least try?

That's the theory anyway.

So I've got my guidebook out and have been referring to it. Checked the weather. And packed accordingly. It's getting fairly warm in the Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara with daytime highs hovering around 30C so I've packed shorts, shirts, sundresses and a swimming cozzie. Plus some warm layers for Namche where it gets as warm as 14C during the day but as soon as the sun gets behind the mountain the temperature plunges back to freezing.. And sunblock. Oh, and my whiskey of course. ;-) And my new 100 lumen head torch.

Will also pack the new iPad from Atlassian. It will com e in very hand because, while I will not be working I will still be job hunting. Indeed, I had a phone interview this morning and will follow it up next week with a video conference interview from Namche.

Gosh, this is sounding less and less relaxing.

Anyway, I've emailed my flight details to Norbu. Just waiting on confirmation back from him. We tried to call earlier but he had way too much background noise. And I've let Sushila know to expect me after all.

So that's pretty much it. Just charging all gadgets and getting ready to pack my technology drysack. And my first aid kit needs to be packed - it's ready but I can't tuck it away until after I take my steroids tonight.

Surely I must be forgetting something. This is too easy.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Bowing to the Inevitable

Well I guess I'm going to Nepal then as no contract has been offered to me. So I trotted off to the Post Office today to get my passport photos for my Nepali visa. I'm not going to bother getting the visa before I go but will rather get it at the airport when I land but what I will do is print out and fill in the form so I can run to the queue instead of filling it out  while the line grows long.

I've also laid in my supply of travel stuff like shampoo, conditioner, etc. and picked up my hair colour so I can freshen it up tomorrow. There's not really much else for me to do other than my laundry. As usual I'm only packing 3 sets of clothes for the mountain and 1 or 2 sundresses and flipflops for town. I picked up snickers bars last night and I've selected the whiskey for this trip. What else is there to do? This is feeling too easy or maybe I've just done this enough times now that I'm not stressing it?

Thursday, 18 April 2013

London Girl Geeks Dinner

So I went to the London Girl Geeks Dinner last night. It was held on the Google London Campus which seems to be some sort of space set up by Google as a startup incubator. I would be interested to learn a bit more about that but the focus last night was on the GGD.

Atlassian sponsored the food and drink last night and muggins here was the speaker. Not sure how it went as I wasn't allowed to use slides so instead I pulled out my bag of tricks and talked though the decision making process for which equipment I bring to run my team from remote locations. I was also utterly shattered from all of the running around I've been doing lately (ACCU conference in Bristol, etc.) and hadn't had any sleep the night before. Still, there were some excellent questions from the audience.

To cap it off, Atlassian presented me with an iPad so now I'm having enormous fun setting it up, installing applications, etc. This will definitely be better for running a project remotely. Don't get me wrong, the kindle was sufficient to get the job done BUT having a bigger screen makes it easier to run the management dashboard, it's easier to use the onscreen keyboard, the web browser is faster and more responsive and it's far more convenient to have the cellular connection built in rather than juggling a mifi or tethering via my phone (which is expensive, burns up phone battery and doesn't work with the iPhone/kindle combination).

There was a great deal of interest in the tech that I use, particularly the powerbars. Quite a few of the gals hadn't seen them before and my point was that they are enormously useful in everyday life, not just when in remote locations. It's always wise to have backup power. I also passed on the point that you have to be careful with li-on batteries and that it's best to have 2 spares and alternate using them - when we hear stories of li-on batteries melting down or blowing up it's usually because they have been used too soon after charging. You should have two that you alternate using so that they have time to sit after charging (tip of the hat to my baby bro Andrew for that info).

The USB dongle that I use for transferring data/files/photos from an SD Card to main machine was also a piece of kit that some hadn't seen before. I use it so that I'm not burning up battery on my camera or other peripheral when I want to transfer items. It's tiny and cost me the princely sum of ~£2.75 so definitely a worthwhile investment.

Another question from last night was "Why don't you use a satellite phone?". I have had this one before (actually, I may have to compile an FAQ) and it's a good question. After all, connectivity can be rather problematic and a satellite phone would certainly reduce the risk of not being able to connect to my team. The answer is, I would love to have/use a satphone but my budget prevents it. If some company like Garmin would like to donate one then that would be awesome but even then  that is just offsetting the cost of the basic equipment. The cost of actually using a satellite connection is still a major consideration.The cost of a phone that works well for both voice and data (as a satellite modem) including a minutes/data bundle would be ~£1500. Realistically the most cost-efficient thing would be to get a satphone sleeve adapter for my iPhone but between that and a bundle of minutes for voice we are still talking about £600-700. Either way we are talking about crazy money and as I pay for my own equipment, that's a big NO. If someone would like to sponsor/donate a satellite phone then this may change and I'm certainly willing to try this method of connectivity.

Anyway, many thanks to Atlassian for the iPad, it will almost certainly make managing my team easier. Now I just have to find a new team! Speaking of Atlassian, I will be at their London RoadTrip in Camden tonight. I'm looking forward to it as there are new versions of a bunch of their tools that have come out recently and I'm quite interested to see what has changed and what new functionality is available. Expect a report from me tomorrow although I am also heading up to the National Museum of Computing tomorrow so results of that visit may supersede tonights event.

Speaking of TNMOC, I have just downloaded and installed their smartphone app  which looks fun. It has a floorplan of the museum, highlights of the displays, events, etc. but I think they missed a trick in that there is no button to make a donation. Until that is rectified though, you can use the button to the right on this screen to make a donation to TNMOC. Don't hesitate, do it now. Remember that 100% of the funds that I raise go to the museum, I do not use my fundraising as a mechanism to subsidise my trips or the technology used on those trips.

Furthermore, I've just learned that the ground rent that the museum pay has been raised to £75,000/year so it's more important than ever that we reach in our pockets and help to preserve our computing heritage.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

New Tablet?

Atlassian - my corporate sponsor - have kindly offered to buy me a new tablet to help me with me Managing  From The Mountaintop. Any tablet I like. Which is tremendously kind of them.

The problem is - do I need a new tablet? And if so, which one do I go for?

I confess that the ability to includea sim in my tablet holds tremendous appeal as at the moment I have to use a mifi so 3G->WIFI from the tablet would be very convenient. But other than that what, if anything, do I need? For example, more real estate (bigger screen) would be great for running a management board and for  onscreen keyboard but a PITA for reading books.

I've also tried to think of any other kit I could possibly use but haven't been able to think of anything. The best I've been able to come up with is something like a tracking thing so people can follow me but even that isn't necessary when I have the right tablet/connectivity.

So, opinions please? iPad or Nexus or WTF?

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Music by Programmers

Quick Update on fundraising for Bletchley Park and The National Museum of Computing - Apr 23rd listening party for the Music By Programmers album (http://www.musicbyprogrammers.com/)!

It's going to be small and intimate at a jolly spiffy pub nr Holborn. Every penny of the £20 ticket price goes directly to Bletchley Park for maths workshops and a programming club at TNMOC.

And every ticketholder will get a very limited edition CD with bonus tracks. We're only printing 100 of them.

Isles of Skye & Harris

My trip to the Isle of Skye turned into a bit of a fiasco and in retrospect I probably should have stayed home having only just returned from a week in New Orleans but I couldn't resist the romance of Scotland and so I was up at batshit-crazy-o-clock last Thursday to catch the 6:02am train from Greenwich. I had foolishly packed my North Face kitbag - the one without wheels, so had to carry that thing which became a bit much after a while. Lesson learned.

Anyway, Gatwick was dreadful. I can only assume that it was so busy because of the holiday weekend but it took me 32 minutes on the queue just to drop my bag!

But enough of those trivialities. The flight was fine, with me snoring and spluttering as I slept. On arrival at Inverness I liaised with the rest of the group but they were going to tour Inverness while I had Nigel picking me up for the drive to Skye. He'd driven up, spent a night at Glencoe and then met me. We stopped off to pick up supplies then headed to Skye, stopping off at Eilean Donan on the way.

We then headed toward the bridge that crosses over to Skye and made our way to Sligachan. Sligachan basically only has accommodation for hikers and, to be fair, it's an awesome location for a number of hikes up into the Cullins. Accommodation consists of a hotel or a bunkhouse or a campsite. We were a group of 9 with 7 in the hotel, 1 in the bunkhouse, and 1 camping. Unfortunately we only discovered on arrival that the campsite was not yet open so although one could camp there was no water, no toilets, and no showers. :-(

Slight disaster but it gets worse. Stick with the story.

So, next morning we assembled after breakfast for the 10 mile hike to Carbost to visit the Talisker Distillery.

The distillery tour was interesting. Of course I already knew the principles of distillation but the actual equipment is impressive. The tour cost £7 and included a £3 coupon for buying a bottle at the end of the tour plus a natty lapel pin. At the end of the tour we all got a generous dram of the 10 YO which went down a treat plus I had to help one of the other girls to drink hers which all set me up perfectly for hitting the distillery shop. At the shop they have a wide selection of whiskies, not just Talisker. I started tasting pretty much whatever they had an open bottle of so by the time I made my selection I was well on the way to getting hammered. :-)

In the end I think I was remarkably controlled, just buying 3 bottles. For tjose interested, my selections were the Talisker 18 YO because that can be hard to get hold of, the Talisker Storm as it was just released 3 weeks ago and again is a bit rare at the moment, and then a bottle of the Talisker Distillers Edition because I'm a huge fan of a sherry cask finish. All in all, I think I was remarkable restrained but wonder if I should have picked up a bottle of the 57 degrees.

Afterwards we repaired to the The Old Inn across the street for more drinks and dinner. Dinner was decent enough, the local ales were delightful but the real winner was the view of sunset in the mountains.

Needless to say, I got back to our hotel that night and fell asleep immediately. A marvellous day but unfortunately the next morning disaster struck. While I was having breakfast I let Nigel use my shower and apparently that just wasn't on. As I mopped up the last of my egg I got a text from him telling me that the owner had caught him and that he was being thrown off the campsite and I was being thrown out of the hotel.

On a holiday weekend when there are no other hotels or B&B's nearby and what few I had spotted the day before all showed No Vacancy signs. Nigel gallantly offered me his spare tent but it was getting down in the neighbourhood of -10C at night so I refused and instead we headed to Uig to catch the ferry to the Isle of Harris.

South Harris, as it turns out, is fairly dire. And we were stuck there until the 4pm sailing the following day. So we drove along the east coast "road", a narrow one land strip twisting among the rocky coast along a narrow causeway. Very stressful driving. In the end we cut across the south tip to Leverburgh where I booked into a sweet little B&B - Sorrel Cottage where the proprietress (Paula) graciously allowed Nigel to set up his tent on her lawn.

Having established a base of operations we then drove up to the next village along the west coast - Nprthton where we walked across the common grazing area and Nigel scoped out some possible locations for photography at sunset.

We then drove down to Rhodel to take a look at St. Clement's Church.

At this point I went of to The Anchorage for a rather indifferent dinner while Nigel went off to take some pics at sunset. I was uninspired by the light and the locations so just took one or two pics of the ferry to St. Kilda.

The next morning we continued along the west coast and discovered the beaches of the Sound of Taransay and got a few good shots.

I had fun playing with different effects so sorry about the large number of pics.

Not much more to tell really. We got the 4pm sailing back to Skye, I stayed in a hostel ::shudder::  in Portree so I would be sure to get my bus back to Inverness in the morning and then had a top notch dinner at The Granary on the village square. I suspect that, should I return to Skye, I will stay ion Portree as it's got loads of nice places to stay, restaurants, bars and artists galleries.

The next morning I caught the bus to Inverness at 9:10 and along the way we picked up the rest of the team at Sligachan. WARNING: It's a 3 hour trip between Portree and Inverness so be prepared!

Many thanks to Ray from 1000 Ft. Hikers for organising. Will I return to Skye? Maybe. I feel like I've barely explored it and I would also like to spend soem time exploring the work of local artists but I think that next time I will rent a car from Inverness and I certainly will not return to the hotel at Sligachan!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

ACCU 2013 Shirts

Today is the last day to order your ACCU 2013 T-shirt. Only £15 each!!

Image T shirt

If you wish to order a limited edition ACCU 2013 T-shirt, then you can do so by logging back into your registration (you’ll need your email address and confirmation number).  Once logged in just click the modify button, and this will take you back into your registration where you can add your T-shirt.

Please note that t-shirts are only available on pre-order and all orders must be placed TODAY.

T-shirts cost £15, and must be paid for on collection, we accept cash or cheque (made payable to ACCU).
T-shirts will be available for collection from the Wednesday afternoon onwards, from the registration desk.
Look forward to seeing you at the Bristol Marriot Hotel City Centre. 

Friday, 15 March 2013

Stop the Presses

Still no project lined up so I have taken the decision to cancel next month's trek and eat the cost. I just can't imagine securing a new client and them then being thrilled that I'm going to go off gallivanting in the Himalaya for three weeks right after my start date. Business just doesn't work that way.

Realistically of course I still have my flights so if I'm NOT working then I can certainly still go ahead and fly to Kathmandu and then I'll have 3 weeks to do any trek I like. I can call Sushila and ask her to find me a porter to do a bit of trekking in the Khumbu or try my hand at Island Peak or do something else like Mustang or a bit of the Annapurna Circuit. Anything really. I'm actually leaning towards going back to the Khumbu but doing it via walking in from Jiri.

If I do find a contract then the cost of cancelling is utterly negated by what I can earn and then I'll have time to establish myself and rearrange things to go back in the latter half of August (as I did in 2011) toward the end of the monsoon to do a "solo".

So to my sponsors  I'm not abandoning things altogether, I just have to ensure that I can do this while keeping the wolf from the door.

In the meantime, I'm off to New Orleans on Monday to speak at the AIIM Conference. I'll be speaking next Friday so I'll have a few days to network and build up an audience for my talk. I'll also, of course, be bringing my business cards and my CV on a memory stick to hopefully drum up some work. And managing the end-game of my project remotely.

In other news, when I get back from the states I'll be dashing off to do a few days in the Isle of Skye for the Easter weekend. It's looking like it might still be crampon weather when I get there! There's still plenty of snow on the mountains...

The bright side of all of this upheaval is that there is now even more time to donate to TNMOC!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

New Role New Schedule?

Well, while on the one hand I've been busily buying new supplies and tech for the next trip, I've also been frantically job hunting because my project ends at the end of this month.

New supplies have consisted of more base layers from Icebreaker (damn you Sport Pursuit and your awesome sales!!!) plus a new MIFI (portable 3G-> WIFI converter) as well as a powered 10 port USB hub and the inevitable stacks of wet-wipes.

The problem is finding a new client who is sympathetic to my schedule. It's one thing managing a project from the Himalaya once trust and communication have been established but I just don't see where I will have the opportunity to do that in the 3 weeks between my current project ending and leaving for Nepal.

Honestly, I need to have a word with Really Wild about when my deadline is to reschedule. I may have to go at the end of August again rather than in April.  OTOH, if I haven't found something to start at the beginning of April then I may as well just say "Fuck it" and do the trip and just look for projects to kick off mid-May. ::shrug::

Monday, 25 February 2013

Camera for Return to Base Camp

I just realised that I never got around to writing about my new camera that I will be bringing on my return to Nepal. Previously I'd just had a little Fuji Trek pocket camera which was good enough outside but utterly dreadful indoors and in poor lighting.

So after much deliberation I picked out the Sony NEX 5RK. This is my first "real" camera with interchangeable lenses. I chose this model because I want good performance in all conditions, fast shots, and lightweight. If a camera is too heavy and/or clunky I won't carry it around and what's the point of that?

I also invested in three 16Gb ExtremePro SD cards plus a spare battery and camera case.

And finally, I bought 2 C-clips which I have attached to the camera case so that I can suspend it from the belt loops on my hiking trousers, thus ensuring that my camera is always ready to hand rather than buried in my rucksack or bouncing off my boobs (another argument for small/lightweight cameras!).

Tip o' the hat to my hiking buddy Nigel from Creative Photography Wales who spent two days squiring me around Wales and teaching me how to use the damned thing both in terms of where functions are but also covering light, composition, focus, aperture v. shutter speed, white balance, iso, etc. Now I'm no longer reliant on auto-everything settings!

Unfortunately I now know all about the vast array of lenses and other expensive tidbits like filters and tripods that I need to buy. :-( But at least the photos from the next ABC2EBC Challenges should be much finer.

And don't forget to donate to The National Museum of Computing at my Just Giving page where all donations go to the museum

Oh, and I'm immensely pleased with my choice. It's a sexy bit of kit; very satisfying to use and beautiful results.I'm thinking about getting a small tripod so that I can do some time laps photography of the sunrise over Everest from Kal Pattar.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Project Manager Availability

Bit of a bugger this but my project is due to end at the end of March. So if I do my job correctly and everything is delivered on time I will be out of work at the end of March AND not have a project/team to run from Everest Base Camp! Not good. Worst timing possible really as I'm back to Nepal in April and shan't be back until mid-May. :-(

So anyway, if anyone has some software projects coming up and need a capable PM or test manager/trainer/business analyst and would like to experiment with improving communication leading to a percentage of remote working, please get in touch!

In the meantime my hikes for this weekend have had to be cancelled as I am now officially in the "death march" phase of my project and working wacky hours 'round the clock. Ironic, isn't it? Bleeding professional ethics, that's the problem!

More cheerful news is that I have written my presentation for the AIIM conference next month. Maybe I can pick up some work there? Pity it's in New Orleans though as I'd prefer work in Europe.

Monday, 4 February 2013

London Mystery Walk

Saturday I was supposed to attend the Exploriens Lewes Castle & South Downs walk but I overslept (I blame the jaunt to the Mile End Climbing Wall the night before) so rather than do no walking at all I joined Anna B and Magda H at the London Hikers Westminster Mystery Walk which was meeting at 3pm (far more civilised) by Covent Garden tube.

It was a good sized group at about 35 (plus the odd party crasher like myself) a few of whom I of course already know from other walks/hikes. We headed off from M&S, with the first stop at Bow Street Magistrates Court.

Bow Street Magistrates Court is famous in particular for the Bow Street Runners but I leave it to the reader to click through for further info. Our guide explained to us that the reason the lights outside of this police station are white instead of the usual blue dates back to Queen Victoria finding the blue light upsetting because her Prince Albert died in a blue room. ::shrug:: I'm dubious.

Anyway, the Magistrates Court is across from the Royal Opera House and there is a lovely statue dedicated to all of the ballerinas.

We then went west to Lazenby something or other. Alley I suppose. It was interesting because there were original gas lamps there which are run off of the methane that is bled form the sewer system.

We then went down past the English National Opera toward Trafalgar Square, passing London's narrowest Alley along the way.

Thence to Trafalgar Square where we heard a bit about the history of the square and Nelson's Column. I had had no idea how recent all of it was/is!

We then went up Pall Mall a trifle, passing the British Council and the touring statue of Yuri Gagarin (with a very strange Moebius orbit thingie).

We then walked up by the Royal Society to hear the story of the statue to the Duke of York as well as the statue of Florence Nightingale. And some mulled wine.

Then it was across the Mall to Horse Guards.

At which point the battery on my camera died so I had to resort to using my iPhone. :-(

So a quick wizz past Downing Street to the Cenotaph.

Down past the Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Past the memorial to the Terrorist Attack in Bali and across the road to the Duck Pond House

Then down to Westminster Abbey

Through the Dean's Yard, the around the back to the Houses of Parliament.

Then off to the Silver Cross Pub for drinks and a pub quiz. Not the lengthiest of walks but it was ruddy cold and I was aching from climbing the night before so probably just as well, eh? I'd also say this walk was more touristy/history than mystery but hey-ho. Still good to be off the sofa and out with mates.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Health Prep - Blood Results Are In

OK so I have some issues with my health that I am trying to address before I go back to EBC. Here's the sitrep...

Back - After the fall in Phakding last November my back is slowly healing. I've been going to the Back Clinic at my local hospital for treatment. I'm not too convinced that it's helping much. I think what's making it get better is just time and gentle exercise/stretches. I'm told by the guy that my L5 S1 is damaged. Who the hell knows? I think they are all shysters but at least it's on the NHS. Anyhoo, I went climbing with some friends on Friday and I'm really aching all over so I think I'll try to incorporate this into my weekly routine to build core strength. It was good fun and it's cheap enough plus I think it's a sort of natural progression from the hiking thing.

Crohn's - Thanks to my friend Ivan (who has a promising future as a Jewish Mother), I have been nagged into yet again seeking treatment for my Crohn's. To this end I made the journey to East Acton to meet with a specialist from Imperial College London at Hammersmith Hospital. He ordered blood tests and I am scheduled for some nuclear investigations to check my bile and (oh joy) a colonoscopy (the less said abot that the better).

So far only the bloods have been done but the results are interesting with a CRP level of 7 (VERY high), and low iron and Vitamin D. The Vitamin D thing is probably because it's winter time and I've been working from home plus I'm fairly careful about wearing sunblock. My trip to Marrakech next week should sort that out. The low iron is of more concern, particularly with a return to altitude looming. Low iron translates to low oxygen levels in the blood, a problem that will cause fatigue at sea level and will only be exacerbated at altitude.

I haven't yet had any feedback from the doctor about supplements or injections or whatever the anaemia but at least in this household red meat and liver are going back on the menu (we had cut back out of environmental concerns).And I will keep a bag of frozen spinach in the freezer so I can nuke some to accompany my dinner each evening.

I guess what I'm saying is that it might not be a bad idea to see your doctor and get your bloods done as part of your prep for a trek of this type.

Smoking - The big elephant in the room is my smoking. I've downloaded an app that's supposed to help me wean myself off the fags by tracking my smoking. Not sure precisely how that's supposed to help. ::shrug:: What I need is something that not only tracks my smoking but gradually extends my time between smokes, sounding an alarm when I can have my next one. If anyone feels like finding or making one of those for me it would be much appreciated. I haven't found one and wonder if there could actually be a gap in the market? In the meantime if there is any progress on this front then I'll post it here.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Using JIRA and Confluence to Work From Mt. Everest

Nice blog post about the trek from my one and only corporate sponsor - Atlassian. I think they ought to do a special Angry Nerd shirt for me with the bird wrapped up in a down jacket and hat on top of a peak.

In other news, I have just ordered a Teach Yourself Nepali program. Honestly, I just want to learn some basic vocabulary before I head out there again. Just to be polite, you know?For example, I know some numbers, days of the week, etc. but I need a bit more than that, eh?

And finally, I have bought, received, charged, and will be testing some powercubes. I got a big 8000mAh and a smaller one at 2600mAh. I'm planning to use the bigger one for my kindle and camera and the smaller one for my iPhone. I should almost get 1 full charge for both kindle and iPhone from the big beast and 2 from the small one for the phone if my calculations are correct. I have to say they look dead sexy and I only hope that they work as well as they look!

The Perfect Presentation Template

So I've started working on my presentation and found the perfect slide template in Open Office

Anyway, writing has begun even though in many ways I'm still composing my thoughts. Nonetheless, I need to at least throw enough together for the 30 minute presentation in New Orleans. That one needs to be business oriented then rejigged for a longer 90 minute more technical presentation. Plus I may be presenting at 2 other conferences this year so who knows what length and audience those will be but it's all good publicity for The National Museum of Computing so it's worth it.

Which reminds me to remind you, please donate to TNMOC. All donations go to the museum! Here's a link to further info about the education program at the museum that I am raising money for - Computing in Education.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Planning for return to EBC

So a little over 3 months from now I'll be flying out to Nepal again. Which means that my obsessive planning for the next trip has officially commenced.

Topics I'm thinking about include:

Photography - R got me a very nice camera for christmas so I need to get at least another lense and maybe a carbon fibre tripod

Language - Have ordered a basic book on the Nepali language. I'd like to be able to do a bit of bargaining, order in a restaurant, etc.

Fitness - Have had my back problem diagnosed. But that doesn't fix it. Need to work on my back while also getting into shape for the trek.

Writing - And I need to start pulling together my notes to write an article and presentation on the Managing from the Mountaintop thing as I'll be speaking at AIIM 2013 as well as ACCU 2013

In other news, I met up with Sushila (and her very patient and well-behaved son) while I was in NYC. We did some shopping and I got a steal - a pair of blue  Spyder snowpants with cute suspenders for $100. Then we were off to Woodside where we had tea before I was given a tour of the neighbourhood (fascinating) and then dinner at the Himalayan Yak (I recommend the Sherpa Stew). I must remember to get a date from Really Wild for which day I'll fly into Lukla.

And finally, I must post the photos and recipe from when I made momos!

Please vote for which topic you think I should cover first.