June, 2004

Jun 04

This is a recorded message

I received a phone call the other day from one of those recorded messages. You know, the ones where you pick up and get a recorded voice telling you you’ve won the Russian Big Cheese lottery and all you’ve got to do is call this number to collect your £1bz (bazillion).

Stuart then told me how he had got home from work one day to find one of these messages on his answer machine. “It’s a really strange concept – a recorded message phoning my recorded message”.

He’s right – it’s absurd! Hehe. It’s a thought that’s had me chuckling to myself when I’ve just been walking along recently.

Jun 04

Surfing makes sense

Surfing: an odd game to me for a long time. I could never see the point – all that paddling for a few seconds on a wave. Why not just use a kite and be having fun all the time? Realistically I said that because I couldn’t surf. With a few friends who have allowed their lives to be fully taken over by surfing, I had splashed about on non-kiting days a few times before but somehow it just wasn’t happening.

Last year I went off to South Africa and New Zealand and, after months of berating the lack of wind, I bit the bullet and bought myself a mini-mal to try to get into surfing properly. It was obvious it was going to be good and I knew I just needed to stick at it to find out what it was all about. A few sessions later, just at the end of my trip, it happened – it was good, really good. Clean shoulder high waves let me get up and charging and make a couple of slow turns. Suddenly it all made sense. Encouraged, I tried to get out again, but my lack of knowledge and perhaps luck meant that the last couple of weeks were free of decent surf so I was frustrated with it again.

As soon as I was back in Scotland my kiting exploded and all thoughts of surfing were gone. At the end of the summer highs I broke my back and everything was put on hold as I was out of any sort of action for months, with a twelve month rest from kiting prescribed by the surgeons. That was ten months ago and lately I’ve been starting to get back into things. In the last week or two I’ve managed in the water a fair number of times and the bug is starting to bite. Things have improved immesureably now I can get planing along a wave and I feel like I’m at the stage where if I can have a few sessions in good conditions I’m going to improve loads more. With any luck I’m just at the point where it all goes ballistic – a wee bit more and I’ll be happy, always just a wee bit more. I live for the feeling of getting into and learning new sports – you can’t beat this shit.

Jun 04

Punk rock

I had promised Dave that I would go along to a wee metal gig on Monday night because he had to go (his mate Martin is the ‘manager’ of one of the bands) but didn’t want to go on his tod. Anyway, after some beers and some food (ta Dave) we headed to the Mercat and prepared to stick out like the proverbial sore thumbs.

It was actually really good. The first band up was Mister Z, who I thought were excellent. Reminded me of another band who did a cover of “Come on Eileen” (I forget the name of that band now, but will try to update this later when I remember!), kind of rocky but with trumpets and stuff too – cool. Pummel, Martin’s band, were next. They’re a pretty heavy punk rock band which I enjoyed again and they even managed a metal version of “No limits” which was interesting.

I don’t remember much about the third band, Misled Youth. I might have been starting to feel quite pissed. I think most of the people preferred the last band – Howards Way, a ska band from Southhampton – I’m sure they were very good, but to my untrained ear it sounded like occasionally organised noise. Well, it’s not techno is it? :)

Jun 04

Nokia 7610

Another mobile phone post! Some people reading this might think I’m some sort of phone geek, which I certainly am not. However, this is one phone that looks superb. I’m backtracking on all my statements from about a year ago about camera phones being fairly useless gimmicks. I was wrong.

I think there is massive potential for a fairly decent camera in a phone. Basically anything that would let me publish pretty good quality photos on the web would be awesome. It’s impossible to count the number of times I’ve seen something and thought: “I wish I had my camera with me…”. Not sure about the lens quality or anything like that, but this phone certainly seems to heading in the right direction. Shame they cost about £400, I want one.

EDIT: found this in-depth review of the phone.

Jun 04

One of those weekends

I’ve just had a great weekend, but it did leave me wondering exactly how much I should be doing with regards to my back. Friday saw me go climbing at North Berwick, but it’s OK – I was on a top rope. Saturday I went mountain biking, but it’s OK – I could have gone faster. I went Surfing on Sunday, but it’s OK – the waves weren’t that big. Hmm.

It’s now becoming harder to see where to draw the line. In fact, the line appears to be moving around at a fair rate. Is top-roping an ‘impact sport’? My easy fireroad ride quickly turned into a not-all-that-slow technical singletrack affair, what does that mean? And surfing, I know it’s in the water, but it’s not really like swimming, is it? But, despite doing more and more, and despite some pretty kick ass wind recently, I haven’t been tempted to start kiting again. Something’s just telling me not to. So far everything is all good, or as good as can be expected, but kiting just seems that little bit different to other sports to me. It’s not just that you need to use a harness and that your back gets jerked quite hard – Stuart and I have commented before that when something goes wrong and you lose control there is this extra, unpredictable element which can put you in the shit. Kites are dangerous toys that need to be respected and I’m perfectly happy to give myself some more time before I get involved with them again. For everything else, I’m just going to take it as it comes. I’ve been pretty sensible so far and I’m not wanting to mess things up now.

Anyway, it was a brilliant weekend – I climbed a technical F6C+ route I’d never tried before with Mike, Dave and I went for the best mountain bike ride I’ve done for years and surfing is starting to click (albeit slowly). I love sport.

Jun 04

Being ‘powered up’

The term “powered up” is used a lot in kiting, and should be a pretty easy one to get to grips with, but I’m going to try to put it into words.

There was a recent discussion on a forum about how weight affects one’s ability to ‘edge’ a landboard. The gist of it was someone saying that Blades are better suited to heavy guys because they are able to edge better (I have a feeling we were actually getting our wires crossed, but let’s assume that’s what was meant for the sake of this post). This is wrong. I think the confusion comes from there being a difference between how much power the kite is producing and how much of that is usable power. The amount of usable power is how ‘powered up’ you are.

Three things affect how powered up you are: wind speed, your kite and your weight. The windspeed and the kite combined create a certain amount of power, then your weight affects how much of that power is usable. Obviously, heavier people require more power to jump a certain height than lighter people. So, assuming the wind speed and kite remain the same, but a heavy person is flying the kite, he is less powered up than the light guy. Therefore, when he’s edging a board he’s holding less usable power.

I daresay someone clever could work out a formula a little like this:

poweredupness = (windspeed * kitepower) / weight

Okay, so I’m probably missing a to-the-power-of in there somewhere and I don’t know of a way to measure the power of a kite, but you get the point. Weight is extremely important in kite selection and is in direct relation to how powered up you are. The important distinction is the difference between how powerful a kite is in a given wind and how powered up any idividial rider on that kite is.

This was also posted on the Wind Things team site, but comments are closed there.

Jun 04

Well, it’s done.

As readers who aren’t reading this via RSS will probably have noticed, the site re-design is complete. Actually it’s only about 95% complete, but I got fed up with this version not being live as it has already taken much longer than expected and I want to get back to having time to write things occasionally!

What’s new then?

Quite a lot actually, although prepare to be bored by the next few sentences. Obviously the look of the site has changed quite a lot – I think the flowers and the colours are cool – and the CSS is pretty well supported across browsers. Big thanks to Stuart for coming up with the background and the header image, nice one man. The previous site templates were poor, so I’ve re-constructed them to use better valid markup (still not perfect, but getting there) and used the re-design as an opportunity to migrate to WordPress (more on that coming at some point). I’ve started to use a ‘link blog’ on the right of the main page for somewhere to put potentially interesting links for folk to read.

I’ve also added a little gallery to the site, something that I’ve wanted to do for a while. It’s not as complicated as the SC one, which is exactly what I wanted. I also added a few pages to the WP admin panel to add and manage photos so expect more to go up in the near future. These are quite hacky and specific to this site so I won’t be releasing the code for them. I will release a little plugin that allows you to run PHP in your posts though, just as soon as I get round to posting about it.

The referrer logging has gone, I was getting too much referrer spam! Hopefully the comments system is better and the comments, trackbacks and pingbacks are now integrated on a single post if that makes sense. I’ve now setup redirects for the RSS feeds (as promised ;)) and hopefully all of the previous permalinks. Please let me know if you spot anything like this that isn’t working.

What is still to do?

There are a few little things still to do. IE5/5.5 on the PC still has some little display problems that shouldn’t be too hard to fix and there are the inevitable little CSS tweaks here and there. The links page is still to come. I haven’t tackled this yet as I’m not exactly sure what I want – it’s a shame that WordPress doesn’t support nested link categories like it does for posts as I want it on links but not posts! I’ll get round to sorting out the search results page to somthing more sensible soon and a a link blog RSS feed would be cool too.

Phew! That’s all I can think of just now, but there is probably more. A post or two about WordPress coming soon.

Jun 04

Site re-launch

I’ve finally got off my arse and re-developed this site. Expect it to go up in the next week or so and when it does for some of the permalinks and stuff to break (hopefully temorarily).

The RSS feed URLs will be changing – I’ll try to setup redirects so that it all sorts itself out, but be aware that you could be missing out on loads of amazing content if it doesn’t (whatever).

Once it’s up and running I’ll post a few more thoughts about the migration from Movable Type to WordPress and maybe something about my WordPress hacks. Until then, stay tuned.