Monday, 27 April 2009

Marathon Man

Today I went to the London Marathon for the first time. My cousin Adam was running, and we went up to provide some moral support. My brother & his wife stayed over at the Travelodge at Tower Gateway, so they were able to secure a great vantage point just down from the Mint Pub on East Smithfield, behind the elite runner refreshments. Having never been before, I had no idea what to expect, and from the various articles I'd read, I thought that the area around East Smithfield and Tower Bridge would be incredibly busy (it was even listed in the "Places to Avoid" sections). However, arriving at around 10.20am, although there were a lot of people it was fairly easy to find a space with a good view, even right up to the railings. East Smithfield is a great place to watch from, as the runners go past you in both directions, first at around 13 miles and then again at around 22 miles after they've cleared the Isle of Dogs and are into the final stretch.

We were able to see the elite wheelchairs hitting mile 22, followed by the elite women, before the elite men arrived at mile 13. After the elite men, the main body of the runners arrived and given Adam's target of 3hr 30mins, we were able to work out when to start looking for him. We didn't know what he was going to be wearing and the task of trying to spot a face in the throng is a tricky one. You watch the runners for so long that when you stop watching, everything still seems to be moving. It's one of those times where you can really appreciate how smart the human brain and visual system are, enabling you to quickly sort through so many faces and find ones you recognise. A few minutes after we spotted Gordon Ramsay (let's go, yes?), cousin Adam came past us at mile 13. I was pretty impressed that I managed to spot him, shout his name AND capture video at the same time! He ran past looking very comfortable and also looked very pleased to see us.

Next, we moved to Canary Wharf and arrived just in time to see Adam come past mile 19, still looking enviably calm and composed in comparison with some of the other runners. A few minutes behind Adam was Gordon Ramsay, so he must have executed a neat overtake! I was quite taken with the sheer volume of people running, and also the wide variety of good causes being championed. The marathon looks painful enough as it is, but there were plenty of people in hot/heavy/uncomfortable fancy dress (guy in silver thong, owww) enduring it to raise maximum money for their charity. It was very refreshing and quite moving to witness such human achivement and to share in the excitement and joy of the race (nb. not all the runners looked joyful, some of them looked totally pwned, particularly the guy with obviously over-chafed, bloody nipples). My summary is that it was a great experience and I recommend you go and watch if you haven't before, or to use the summary from the spectator's guide "The London Marathon is a celebration of all that is great about sport and all that is great about people." - well put.

Adam finished in 3hr 36min, which is an amazing achievement; well done, Adam!

Monday, 13 April 2009

Status: March

01 March
13:06 Tim is generating quotes for a new company car.
21:28 Tim is putting the finishing touches to his Seefeld video.

02 March
07:14 Tim slept terribly, and now has to commute to London. :(.
21:59 Tim is loving the new Calvin Harris tune.

04 March
08:03 Tim just missed his first commuter train due to morning hot tub and unfamiliar Basingstoke ticket machine.
20:42 Tim is checked into the Metropole again. Off out to meet PLS for dinner, eating complimentary cookie as I go.

05 March
17:47 Tim is off to The Rake to meet Vik.
19:41 Tim thinks maybe synchronising podcasts over 3G made O2 angry. 475mb today = packet data authorisation failure.
20:51 Tim is back in the game, seems O2 kiss and make up quickly. Now, I wonder where that limit is?

06 March
08:38 Tim Jubilee line FAIL, so walking from Waterloo in the sunshine.
13:39 Tim is avoiding the Jubilee line and waiting for the Thames Clipper. It's late and I hate waiting.
19:48 Tim is cooking sausages from the Ginger Pig in Borough Market and being generally grumpy.

07 March
17:37 Tim has been tidying all day, the flat looks ace. Doing some final logistics before HSM3 then maiden voyage to Oceana.

09 March
04:05 Tim is developing a serious addiction to M&S sweets. Percy Pig & Wiggly Worms FTW.

10 March
15:48 Tim has performed his first properly smooth commute. Suspect this is more luck than judgement.

11 March
15:11 Tim is on the train trying out his new breakfast kit. Too much milk today.

12 March
16:07 Tim has a stinking sore throat.
06:33 Tim had a nice evening with Ant and successfully escaped the one man advert against alcoholism that was at the Hilton bar.

13 March
14:28 Tim just woke up from a weird dream and had a 'where am I?' moment. So much for my planned little lie in.
00:09 Tim has been using Facebook mobile all week and is now having a "new home page" freakout.

14 March
17:40 Tim just bought a netbook, Lenovo S10e White, Linux + 6 cell battery - £259.
19:01 Tim is hoping that the Estee Lauder shop doesn't disappoint May too much. She's been having dreams about it all week.
02:31 Tim is getting a bit obsessive about collecting Hilton points.
03:24 Tim is checking out his hairdresser's band -
06:08 Tim is trying to resist peeking as May prints out logistics for tomorrow's 6 year anniversary surprise.

15 March
20:58 Tim is spamming his neighbours to see if he can buy their houses on the cheap.
21:25 Tim is off to destination unknown for 6 year anniversary surprise planned by May.

16 March
02:30 Tim is back from surprise visit to Hotel du Vin in Poole. Thanks lovely May! Just a bit gutted I felt so ill throughout - damn you flu thing.

17 March
01:07 Tim is feeling a bit healthier today, enough to commute up to London for work. Meeting Stef tonight.
05:55 Tim has forgotten his toothbrush, waiting on Hilton to bring one. Wishing May was here so I could just use hers.

18 March
04:08 Tim is at the iMax to see Watchmen. It's rammo.

19 March
10:07 Tim enjoyed the first 2/3 of Watchmen, great narrative style and looks gorgeous. Final 3rd (after jailbreak) was a load of trite, predictable shit. Plot FAIL.
02:05 Tim is on the First Great Western service to Oxford for May's PGDip graduation feeling proud, Staying at the converted prison Malmaison too.

20 March
09:34 Tim is bedding down in the amazing Malmaison Oxford, our room is 3 prison cells knocked together. Best renovated hotel in UK, FACT.
16:38 Tim is on the 0731 from Oxford to Paddington. Bit sad to leave May snoozing in the beautiful Malmaison 'cell'.
22:32 Tim is developing a love hate relationship with Borough market. Taste buds love, wallet hates.
02:16 Tim really needs to stop buying day returns instead of open returns. Stupid automated ticket machines.

21 March
09:32 Tim had fresh ravioli from the market for tea, it was delicious.
17:57 Tim is up early and has caught up on Skins. I heart Emily.

23 March
17:18 Tim had an excellent weekend with Ed and is now feeling travel sick and sad on the commuter train.

24 March
16:58 Tim is on the train again. Sainos Rice Pops have very disappointing snap crackle and pop. Think I'll have to switch to branded variety box.
01:22 Tim is daydreaming about buying some rollerblades and skating to work along the south bank from Waterloo.
04:14 Tim is going to Hotel du Vin Winchester on the 2009 voucher tonight, now extended to end of April. Go to your nearest.

25 March
17:37 Tim just read about the EOS 500D. They've trickled the 1080P video recording down from the 5DII.
20:38 Tim just got asked if he'd consider a trip to Dehli for work.
22:51 Tim is cursing Twitter for causing .
07:12 Tim is not waiting 40 minutes for Hilton room service. Going to forage on Edgeware Road.

26 March
08:23 Tim defaulted to McDonalds. I feel dirty, Won McFlurry and hot drink on Monopoly though.
16:11 Tim just woke up about 5 seconds before my alarm went off. Spooky.
02:31 Tim is off for massage in Pimlico, then Pilates in Belgravia.

27 March
04:19 Tim is on the LOLtrain. It's rocking around, rattling and has many hilarious people and announcements. Campest man ever on my left with good value phone calls.

28 March
20:03 Tim 's new netbook doesn't want to be ghosted (NIC won't load). It's about to get blasted for Windows 7.
23:47 Tim 's netbook is now purring along happily! I'm quite impressed.

29 March
11:58 Tim has been playing Guitar Hero and drinking cocktails all night.

30 March
04:10 Tim left his wallet on the train this morning, and still doesn't have it. Do I remain trusting & hopeful and try lost property at Waterloo in the morning, or give up faith in humanity and go on an cancelathon? YOU DECIDE.
07:10 Tim has cancelled all his cards. was incredibly useful.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Introducing the Lenovo S10e

I've finally sucumbed and bought a netbook. When Asus bought netbooks (small, light, low powered, cheap laptop) to the mass-market with the Eee PC in late 2007, I was interested, but the specification wasn't quite good enough to convince me to part with my cash. Then last year, new netbooks arrived powered by the Intel Atom N270 chip arrived with better performance and battery life, making me a little more interested. Of course, as with all technology purchases, you can always wait and get something better, and I'd decided to do just that and hang on for the dual core Atom processors rumoured for the summer.
Then I started out on my current project, and became a commuter. After 8 weeks of that and lugging my huge work issue Thinkpad T60p around, when I spotted a great deal, I couldn't resist. The choices for me where between the Samsung NC10 and the Lenovo S10e, I finally plumped for the S10e for the keyboard quality. Here are some pics to give you an idea of size:

The spec is Atom N270 1.6Ghz, 1.5Gb RAM, 160Gb HD and 6 cell battery. It weighs in at a very comfortable 1.3kg and the 6 cell battery gives it a nice weighting towards the back. The screen is clear and sharp, very usable on one-above-minimum brightness and downright impressive on maximum brightness. I've yet to time how long I get out of the battery, but the general expectation seems to be about 4.5 hours. Should you wish to upgrade it, pleasingly both the RAM (1 slot) and HD are user replaceable, with the obvious candidates being 2gb RAM and a 7200 RPM HD. My only minor gripe is that after 2 days in my bag, a small part of the silver "e" of "Lenovo" on the lid has come off.

I chose to save some money and gain some RAM by ordering the Linux edition, but I've installed Windows 7 beta onto it as XP is just too old and naff (I'm looking at you sleep mode), and Linux doesn't run all the applications that I want.

Loading Windows 7 beta was very straightforward, and installation from a USB key completed in under 25 minutes with very minimal input (partitioning and licence key only iirc). If you want to try out Windows 7, here's the links that got me up and running:
1) Installing from USB key (use the command "list disk" first to ensure you format the usb key, not your hd)
2) Get a licence key (requires a Microsoft Passport login, eg. MSN, Hotmail etc)

The S10e shows one missing device in Windows 7 (not sure what) and neither scrolling on the trackpad, the FN+F5 wireless key or the wireless off key work, but otherwise everything is functional right out of the box including the webcam and mic.

For applications I've installed:
The only thing I wasn't able to install was Comodo Firewall as the installation failed.

With that lot installed, Windows 7 boots, connects to wi-fi and gets me to Gmail in about 1 minute 25, goes to sleep in about 8 seconds, and wakes up in under 2. It runs very nicely and certainly feels snappy enough. I was suprised that there's enough power to run Ableton Live, but it runs pretty smoothly, although the screen height (576px) makes things a little tricky.

Windows 7 itself seems to be pretty stable, although the wi-fi connection tends to drop every once in a while. I can recommend not accepting the wireless driver Windows 7 offers for the S10e, as that completely knackered my wireless and I've found that AT&T causes the odd bluescreen, but I blame that on them not Vista. I'll post again about battery life in a couple of weeks.