Saturday, 31 May 2014

by the light of a magical moon

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Tonight it's time for dinner on the beach.

Best to add in a pleasant sunset.
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And maybe then watch the waves by the light of the moon.
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Thursday, 29 May 2014

moving further west

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Today we had to say goodbye to the three hundred year old house we've been staying in and had to 'up sticks' further west across the island. We've been in a location with wonderful views both across the island and towards the Atlantic, so wondered what we'd find at the new spot.

Nothing to worry about.

We're now in a little cottage which has its own secret bay around the back and a marina at the front. Gorgeous views all around and only a three minute walk to the beach.

I can handle that for a few more days.
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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

knowing pink means towards centre and blue means away

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Travelling around the island is never dull. There's no hire cars for foreigners and most people use the diverse public transport options.

It's quite varied, from the little boat that can pick us up at the end of the golf course, to the super speedy catamaran that crosses from one side of the island to the other in about 20 minutes.
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We've used all permutations, as well as the frequent buses, with their pink pole and blue pole bus stops (pink is towards the centre and blue is away).

Catch one mid-afternoon and see it progressively fill with lively school children in neat uniforms from the various schools, heading back to Hamilton, the capital.

Or pause in the same city, to watch the intriguingly futuristic police go by.
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*shows busy status on outlook*

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Anyone reading this blog over the last few days may think it was all about spending time sitting on beaches in the sunshine.

I'll have to upload some of the other pictures. In the meantime. Here's the current busy view.
Busy beach

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

rum swizzle

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We've figured out the ways to get around now, using a fair amount of boats to get from place to place.

I'm not complaining, the slow pace seems just right for a few days away from work. I noticed when I eventually let the mac onto the wifi it started to download 800 emails.

Instead of attempting to read them, I'll follow Mark Twain's advice and regard here as the right place for a jaded man to simply 'loaf'.
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Monday, 26 May 2014

a few days in a straw hat

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We had hardly arrived when we were invited to a bit of a party by the pool. Actually the party was in full swing and we had to change gear from just off plane to sociable in a few moments.

Ice cold beer and food accompanied the hospitality, even if this early evening felt like some time after one o' clock in the morning.

By next day, things had readjusted, although at breakfast there were already sounds from a bicycle race passing the balcony, followed shortly afterwards by a half marathon. And did we know there was an all day festival in the town?

We decided to have a look. After all, it was celebrating the official start of Summer in this part of the world.

Only one thing for it.

Beach.
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Sunday, 25 May 2014

hey there, jet airliner


Bags packed. Ready to go. Standing here outside the door.

Heading for the other London Airport.

And just enough time to hit the lounge.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

no cycling for a week

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The sign says it. No cycling.

Not for me this week anyway, and only a few miles last week. Instead I was running around and being in meetings.

I'm not complaining, though, because I'll be going somewhere nice.

Friday, 23 May 2014

what colour ties can political presenters wear?


Now I'm puzzling about the television presenters' ties as fallout from the recent election coverage. There's been a general trend towards male presenters having purple ties during election coverage, so that it is neither red (Labour) nor blue (Conservative). Green is its own statement and orange and yellow (Liberal Democrat) are quite difficult to pull off. Only the quirky and high-end presenters seem to get to wear Jackson Pollock splattery-styled ties.

So purple became de rigueur during election coverage, until that extra party appeared and has taken the colour for its own logo and backgrounds.

Yesterday I saw one of the pundits wearing a kind of pink and black and white striped number.

This could all go a bit weird.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Other Desert Cities


We popped along to the Old Vic to see 'Other Desert Cities', which is just nearing the end of its run.

The Old Vic has been converted back to an 'in the round' seating again and looks good for it. Kevin Spacey has been the Artistic Director at the Old Vic for many years and as he bows out from the role, he will also be performing there again, as Clarence Darrow, the grisly crimes lawyer.

So what to make of Other Desert Cities?

It is set in Palm Springs, where novelist Brooke Wyeth is back home to spend Christmas with her wealthy parents. After a breakdown and writer's block she intends to publish a memoir about the family. There are inevitable repercussions.

The play has received good reviews everywhere, with a strong cast comprising Sinéad Cusack, Peter Egan, Clare Higgins, Daniel Lapaine and Martha Plimpton.

The writer Jon Robin Baitz, has mainly written for television and I sometimes wondered if this was written as one imagines a piece of 'proper' drama should be written, losing something as a result.

It was a kind of vehicle for debates about American politics and wealthy viewpoints flagged up to be challenged. A British version of something similar would probably have more of a study of manners than was apparent in this production. Admittedly there were some twists, but I found the 'big reveal' to be a tad predictable.

It was interesting to view, but somehow difficult to really feel for the situation in the way it was portrayed.

It's still good to be at the Old Vic and to see a production that isn't simply amongst the west end musicals.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

clocking the view

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Back in the smoke this week and with an interesting view from my evening accommodation. The large clock, at night from my bed, is like a distant alarm clock face.

It doesn't quite work as an alarm, however, because my room seems to have triple glazing, so the noise from the big clock's bell chiming is rather subdued. It means I'm still using my phone not just as a camera to take the photo, but also as my alarm clock.
My alarm clock

Sunday, 18 May 2014

punctures at the not quite paperless office

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I've somehow managed to do all the things on my list for today, including packing a wheely-bag ready for another week on the road.

Last week's lightweight bag had a puncture on Friday. By that, I mean the little wheel's rubber tyre gave up. First it somehow split into two parts, creating a very efficient brake on just one side of the bag. I hauled it around like this for some time before I realised what had happened. Then I removed the tyre remnants, gaining black hands in the process and also noticing that the tyre from the other wheel was already missing. I'm suspecting a design fault. It doesn't look replaceable, unlike my other less lightweight luggage.

I've also filled two supermarket jute bags with paper that is to be shredded. Even my 50 page at a time shredder would have a problem with what amounts to two complete boxes of A4. That's around 5,000 sheets, I think.

Virtually cycling through 8 days in California


All 8 stages of good fun with TrainerRoad, now completed.

Stage 4 had a sensor problem, but luckily the ride uploaded to count before it deleted itself.

Job done.

Just saying'

Saturday, 17 May 2014

first balloon of the approaching season

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Like the early year snowdrops heralding spring, an equivalent sign ahead of Summer around here is the first sighting of a balloon flying over the house.

This is the first one that I've noticed this year, on what is also one of the warmest days so far. I think I'm as pleased to see the balloon as the people in it are to look down on the view. Tomorrow, I'll need to be locked away working, but maybe I'll see if I can spend some part of my thinking time outdoors.

Maybe gazing at the sky.
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Friday, 16 May 2014

St. Vincent plays guitar


Curries most evenings this week, varying from quite modest to the full monte. It wasn't in a grand plan, but more a result of erratic changes to schedule. Then a curious co-incidence on Friday was meeting an Austrian colleague at the exact bakers that made the cake featured in the the Eurovision transmission last weekend. Curly Whirly Cake, or what?

By Friday evening, I managed to get back home, although not until late evening.

Flick on the telly to see Annie Clark being the sonic goddess St. Vincent. I'm sure the Jools session will eventually turn up on t'internet, but until then, here's some Strange Mercy, featuring another version of the otherworldly guitar wielding songstress.

Don't have time to watch it all? try Surgeon around the 3:15 mark.

Or learn a few harmonics and moves from Annie...

Sunday, 11 May 2014

in which I try the Trainerroad 2014 8DC Stage 1


Last year, I tried the Trainerroad '8 Days' challenge (8DC), which is a sort of virtual cycle ride in California. And yes, I finished it and have the little trophy cup.

I'm trying it again this year, although the middle days might get tricky because of work commitments. It started today, and runs until next Sunday. It would be fun to keep up with the segments, which are released on a daily basis, but I'm not sure about Wednesday to Friday, when I may be travelling.

This time I tried the first stage ahead of the official start as well. My practice session was fine for the first 2/3 but then went a bit haywire at the end, which requires a bursty increased turn of speed. Today I managed a more successful completion.

I've also had my number turn up for the L2B London to Brighton bike ride, which is in about a month's time. I've some time away ahead of that too, although I'd certainly prefer to do one similar length session ahead of the main event.

Limited time, as usual.
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Saturday, 10 May 2014

apple beat but no wrist waving yet


I see that Apple are buying a hop-hop headphones brand. It's those big round ones with thick red cords, seen on tube trains and buses everywhere. I can't believe that Apple really want the headphones or brand, so it must be to do with something else.

The Bill Gates playbook used to say something along the lines of "buy the second in a market in order to dominate."

I suspect that's the real Apple move. Defend a market? Maybe use the Beats streaming services contracts to outgun Spotify? Spotify has around 6 million paying subscribers (averaging £10 per month?) so Apple would need to bridge the gap from MOG's/Beats half million subscribers.

I suppose it can happen, what with the music taste predictors already in iTunes? This will presumably see the next version of iTunes better integrate streaming, in a way that Spotify have already achieved.

Meanwhile, the amount of hi-fi gear in most households is steadily reducing, no record decks, CD players built into gaming units, Airplay used for background music, downloads dominating.

The Dr Dre 'down with the kids' street branding is interesting given 49 year old Dr Dre is one half, with 61 year old Jimmy Iovine as the other half. Iovine has good form as a record producer (Springsteen, Patti Smith, Lady Gaga amongst others). He's also spoken out on the increasingly pervasive use of compression and loudness management to flatten sound in pop music.

It will be interesting to see the revised Apple proposition when the next generation devices arrive. Probably we'll get wearable lifestyle fitness first (increased use of motion and telemetry), but will there be further new approaches around music consumption or merely copycat catchup?

Thursday, 8 May 2014

about 80 minutes of 24


Okay, so now I've watched the opening episodes of the new 24 and it's very much a reprise of the old formula.

The main difference is that it is set in a version of London Town where no-one speaks with a British accent and Americans with guns run around council estates, sorry, Projects, shooting in all directions.

The new glass walled secret CIA station seems to be set in the old Gillette factory off the A4, although internally it has striking similarities to the previous ones set in L.A.

Except for its high security doors, which look as if they have come from a medieval castle, made of oak to channel the style of ye well-groomed olde English keep.

Other parts of the London geography are suitably haphazard, in a way that doesn't particularly matter to the storyline, but is fun to notice.

It didn't take long to get into the CIA politics, threats and general disobedience of orders, to suspend disbelief and to be overcome with a wish to shout advice to the screen when it was obvious that someone in up to no good. But, as Jack would say, there's no time to explain that now.

Without spoilers, it has got the US President conveniently in London, foreign countries in varied states of armed readiness, gunfights, torture, mysterious computer hacking, threats to important people. And that's probably all int he first fifteen minutes.

When I started watching it, I had a mild panic that only episode 1 was available, but I guess I watched it late enough that by the time I'd finished, episode 2 had come on line as well.

So yes, I watched that as well. And in part two there was some pukka British dialogue.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

copy that


Nope, I haven't seen it yet, but it's on the emergency viewing list.

I'm up-to-date with the previous 192 episodes of 24, so it shouldn't be that difficult to get into the new ones. This time set in London, albeit with an array of almost entirely American accents, judging by the trailers.

Taxi? Check.
Red bus? Check.
Red phone box? Check.
Gherkin in skyline? Check.
Union Flag? Check.
That's just the opening 2 seconds of the trailer.

Tube train? Check.
American TAC teams moving around the heavily CCTV'd capital undetected? Check.
Twists? Undoubtedly.
Geographical inaccuracies? I can't wait.
Phone call to Spooks' Harry Pierce? Unlikely, but would be a great moment.

Different greyer colour grading for the London external shots? Copy that.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

sleeve notes

supermarket
My bike is still sending its own little blog stream into the cloud. It's not exactly writing its own posts, but logs how long it's been out, where it's been and other 'quantified self' statistics like my heart rate, cadence and an estimate of wattage.

Naturally, I switched most of the options to 'private' so that I could access the information without it being published to the whole wide world.

Just for fun today, I decided to see where this kind of information streaming could lead, as organisations are beginning to turn attention to 'wrist share' as a way to get further marketing and demographic information.

So, I detached the bike gizmo and walked into the supermarket with the data logging still switched on. The diagram above shows my apparently raggedy route around the supermarket and my detailed private logging even shows footsteps and heart rate, which actually rose slightly at the checkout.

When I visited The Crystal in east London a few weeks ago, the RFID card they provided when I started to look around provided this kind of tracking, but it's interesting to see that with wearable technology (like a fitness tracker) there's already much of this routine functionality available.

Some supermarkets already use aspects of this detection technology for queue management, and public transport is eyeing it up for congestion control.

I explicitly allowed it to be used for my tracking in my supermarket visit, but I wonder what will happen as equivalent new functions are exploited from phones (e.g. through near field communications) and to wearable technology such as watches?

Shades of that 60's show and its village?

Thursday, 1 May 2014

retrospective park bench moment


The first of May, and an opportunity to revisit a couple of items from very early in April ;-)

The ‘borderless café’ in Dalston wins this blog's prize for entertainment in the early hours of last month. It described how customers could book a park bench online before arriving to drink their own coffee. Local entrepreneurs Taff McGinley and Peach Bubbles set up the BYOC café to make it easier to guarantee a seat at popular benches around London Fields, Hackney Downs and Shacklewell Green during the summer months.

If it hadn't been that one, then I suppose the Scottish drive on right Lego road interchange would have won.