New years!

Not the standard new year’s celebrations. Myself and Sarah were up in Achill for the new year, staying Chez Hayes. The rest of the usual crew made it up too, staying in holiday homes at the foot of Sliabh Mór.

There was cycling done, up the Deserted village path and back, and from Chez Hayes via Sliabh Mór holiday Homes to Keem Bay. Then a bit of a climb to the coastguard station at the top of the hill to the west, back down and cycling to Keel and Chez Hayes again for a quick coffee. Still looking for more punishment, it was up to the deserted vilalge and up to the top of that track and back again. Legs were not happy, the body was though..

A day off and rest followed.

A hike was suggested by DaveBrady, to start at the deserted village and climb to Croaghaun, at the western end of the island. The Trooper dropped us off at the bog road, and we trekked across frozen bog along the spine of the island, and heading for the large seacliffs. The air temp was about -5, and the winds were 40+ km/h.. from the east! Ready to blow us over hte 600m high cliffs if we weren’t careful. Most of the party turned back at the cloudbase, as those wearing jeans weren’t dealing well with the cold at all. That left myself, John and DaveT to yomp up the last little bit, through the screaming cloiuds to reach the top in good form. We caught back up to the others, though DaveBrady and wench were on a time pressure, so they headed off ahead. I learned the advantage of the Quechua trekking pants over a helly-hansen thermal layer but thermal underpants are the way of the future in the future..

EeePc

I’m in possession of probably the best little laptop that you can get – after a collaborative effort from my wonderful girlfriend and my parents, for Christmas there was a new toy in my hands.

White, 1gb memory (upgraded recently to 2gb for €30), 160gb harddrive, Asus EeePc-1000H, Linux preinstalled. I installed Ubuntu with the eeepc packages, and I installed XP as well (transferring a license from another computer I retired here). It plays most of the games that Ilike – including Q3 and UT, as well as some that I have yet to play like GTA-VC. It has fantastic battery life of well over 5 hours of good use, and I have a lot of TV shows to play on it as well – it’s perfect for a frequent traveller!

Updates

Hmm. It’s been a while..

Concussion? I spent 14 hours waiting to be seen by the A&E in Galway Regional. Never again! They couldn’t even tell me at 7.30am after my presenting at 18.00 the previous evening, whether I was going to be seen at all – just told ‘keep waiting’. Well with a headache and a swimmingly sense of consciousness, I decided to buy some proper medical care as the standard emergency medical care system failed me. Pfft. At least the Galway Clinic were professional about it, for 40% more cost and a saving in time and effort..

Mary Harney – I’m pointing out your incompetency here.. Get your act together, or step aside and leave someone that can do the job, do it.

Ebay feedback back to 100%!

At last after that disastrous ebay transaction involving that deceptive unhelpful idiot (hid4u) that failed to complete their end of a transaction jsut over a year ago, I am back up to my usual 100% feedback.

The failed transaction was for a set of HID bulbs for my car. The seller advertised them for $35, with $60 shipping and $5 insurance. However, they had contacted me privatly looking for another $30 to ship them. This wasn’t part of the finalised transaction that they were bound to by the Ebay TOS so I complained them, to be given retaliatory negative feedback and a lot of hassle. Paypal refunded my payment, and all was sorted out – the seller went to great lengths to try to get me to remove the negative but seeing as he wouldn’t ship as per the original agreed sale, I said pretty much ‘screw that’.

His negative feedback is visible to all, and the story really reads bad for him. Now, 12 months later I got better bulbs from a better seller who deserved my money!

hids4u, you can go and screw yourself for your poor site setup, and your agressive aftersales lack of service.

iPhone!

I write this from the newest addition to my toy collection – a nice and shiny black 16gb iPhone. It’s a bit weird typing after being used to the little on-screen keyboard of the WM6.1 HTC wizard that was my communications device of choice for the past 2 years…
My first impressions are good enough, I like the feel, and the interface. I’ll get back soon with the second impressions.

Toys for Christmas?

It’s that time of the year again when we start looking at gifts for our friends and relatives, and of course for each other!

I’m thinking of gifts for myself that have a good chance of satisfying the gadget geek and true techie in me.

  • The iPhone 3g, 16gb, Black
  • The Asus EeePC 1000h 160gb w/Linux also in black.

The iPhone looks like a good upgrade for me, as my HTC Wizard with a WM6.1 rom image upgrade, is starting to behave badly. The HTC is losing the SIM card sporadically, losing the connection to the phone network more often, and up to 3 times per text message it white-screens and requires a quick double-press of the power button. It’s still a fantastic PDA but I think that it’s time as my primary phone is soon to come to an end to be replaced by the shininess that is the iPhone. This would be my first iPod as well as my first Apple product. I have enough music that I could use a good mobile player, and I have to say I do like the UI on the phone. I am also fascinated by the nerd possibilities of a jailbreak and openssh server on it, and being able to access all of the files on it for backup or replacement.

The EeePC now, for about €350 via laptops direct, gets me a light sub-notebook that does everything that I am looking for in a laptop. The plan is for viewing of tv shows that I obtained, watching the odd film if I’m travelling for work, communicating with people using the inbuilt webcam and mic via Skype or similar, working on various documents for work when out of the office, doing some online studying for some professional qualifications that I have planned, and for some simple game playing. I have already tested out Quake3 on one owned by Florian at work and it gets a respectable 50FPS timedemo of ‘Four’ with all the shiny switched on. Playing normally gives 80-90fps. I have a lot of games that are Q3 engine derivatives and I would like to play them! Adding in to the mix the fact that the battery runtime is so good, I have to see this upgrade over the Dell Inspiron 4100 that I got upon my graduation as a really good thing!

Wasting the court’s time..

Where to start with this one..

It’s a pain in the ass when a private company that is the sole provider to a state-sponsored monopoly fails in its role. Typical example is the NCTS : They appear to be unable to book a test over email, even though they advertise this service on their website. As a result of their failure, I had a day in court, nothing major, just the waste of time for myself, a garda and the judge.

To top it all off, the NCTS group seem to be unable to provide simple information like “how long did it take to get a booking in this particular centre on this particular date if you used the online (non-email) booking system”! I really do hope that this crowd of incompetents lose the contract to stiff us all of our money and time next year when the contract is reviewed. At least the current review puts them in 2 out of 3 bidders for the contract!

Foglights!

What is it about drivers in this country? People do a ‘test’ that barely checks whether you know which pedal is which, then they get left loose onto the roads. Where they promptly forget all of the rules, recommendations and regulations involved in the act of driving.

A case in point: This morning, there was a bit of mist around, maybe 1km of visibility, more for bright lights. Why on earth would some moron put on their foglight in conditions that really don’t merit it, then refusing to switch it off in slow-moving traffic? Very little more aggravating than a car 3 metres from your bonnet with a pair of high-contrast red lights shining straight back at you because he thinks this make it safer for him to travel.

If you can see the body of the car behind you, you no longer need your rear foglight to be on. If you can count the teeth of the driver behind you, you definitely don’t need it on. If you are the last in a queue of traffic driving in real fog, then you certainly should have the rear foglight on…

Charity cycle

With my shiny new full suspension bike, I took part in the charity cycle that took part yesterday (Sunday 19th) at the Ballyhouras trail centre in aid of the Cancer Care Foundation that is assisting the Mid-West Cancer Centre in the Regional Hospital, Limerick.

On the white loop for the first time, and for the first time doing that distance off-road, made it a bit of an epic undertaking. This was the first real endurance event that I’ve undertaken in 2 years, so there had to be a bit of preperation involved. Getting the powergels, energy bars and special drinks was a good idea.

Getting up at 6.30 on a wet sunday morning wasn’t!

Out at the trailhead at 8.30, registered and ready to go, we (myself and 5 other MBUL heads, Mr. Landy, and John the local forest manage) were on the trail at 9.10.

Full-suspension is definitely the way to go. So nice to be able to push and pull up and over bumps, with the knowledge that if you get it right, you feel so good! I’ve started taking risks on manualling over bumps to get both wheels landing flat on the downslope to make for a smoother ride..