Bag of Spoons
Just off the A1(M)

Sat, 18 Apr 2009

Travelling and stuff

I've been semi-offline for the last couple of weeks. We were up in Edinburgh for most of it visiting family. Apart from helping them get their new (old) house habitable we took in some of the activities at the Science Festival, which the kids enjoyed. We also did a little bit of walking with the most adventurous being a trek across the causeway to Cramond Island. There's some fascinating WWII history there that includes a spectacular line of anti-boat pillars

Pillars in the mist

Whilst away I did not have daily access to a PC, but didn't want to be totally off-line. The house had wifi, so I used by new BenQ E72 phone to access that. Using the internet on a small phone screen is a different experience to using a nice, big monitor, but you can do quite a lot, especially on sites that cater for mobile users. Sites I used included iGoogle, Gmail, Google Reader, Facebook and BBC News. So I was able to keep up with email and my RSS feeds, apart from items that needed Flash or things my phone can't do. I also used pocketwit for microblogging. I don't think I could get by without a PC, but it was better than nothing. I could access the net via GPRS for a small fee, but that would have been a much slower experience.

Just before I went away I had an issue on my Kubuntu system. An upgrade went wrong due to two packages trying to use the same file. The effect was to stop me using KDE. The system fell back to using Xfce. This was actually quite usable. I could still use most of the apps I am used to and it may have been more responsive than KDE. I still wanted to fix the issue and eventually found a blog entry from someone with a similar problem. So as of yesterday I have KDE back and everything is more or less wonderful.

Today I got in a hour of skiing at the Milton Keynes Xscape indoor slope. It's been a year since I skied, but it went pretty well. No falls and it felt good. I did find it tiring, but that may have been having to push myself back to the lift after each short run.

My friend Wulf is running some items about being eco-friendly on his blog. I'm doing similar things to help the planet and save myself a few pennies. A tip I picked up from ooffoo is that you can cook pasta by turning off the heat after putting it into boiling water. Leave the lid on and it will be done in about the usual time. We're all wasting vast amounts of energy by keeping the water at a 'rolling boil'. I plan to install some more low energy bulbs at home soon, but that involves a little re-wiring due to our use of X10 control units. Their dim-able lighting units don't like non-incandescent bulbs.

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