April, 2005

Apr 05

Some physiotherapy

I went to see a sports physio today. It was extremely interesting and uncovered a bunch of little things that I would never have thought of. After a whole load of strange stretches and positions she thinks that she’s nailed down what the recent troubles with my ankle and knee are all about. It was pretty funny in a way – we’d do a stretch and she’d say:

“You know, you’re really flexible”.

Then we’d do the same stretch on the other side and she’d say

“That’s strange, you’ve got a lot less movement on this side”.

“Ah yes, I broke X/Y/Z a few years ago.”


We did one exercise that highlighted something strange happening with my right leg, that exactly mirrored what Dave had spotted the first time my knee got sore mountain biking. Then there was a bunch of other stretches that showed me what effect the position of my back had on my legs – the difference was eye-opening. For a fairly long time after breaking my back I was getting strange shooting nerve pains down my thighs from the extra pressure on my spinal cord. Over time these have improved so that I rarely get them now, but it seems that I haven’t totally healed. The physio thinks that all of my little tweaks are back/nerve related and that the pain is coming out in my ankle because it is already weakened from when I broke it. Referred pain – strange stuff.

This was highlighted when she stretched my ankle while I was lying down – it didn’t hurt. Into a strange position, stretch, still no pain. Then another strange position – leg out here, back twisting and stretching, the other leg up – then the same ankle stretch, ow! She likened the nerves to a garden hose. The more you twist it and bend it around things, the more it complains until it just stops letting the water through. As I twist and turn, I’m putting more pressure onto my nerves which is hurting my ankle. I was starting to worry that I’d be told to take a rest, but she said what everyone who’s into sport wants to hear, “You don’t want to rest it, just keep doing what you’re doing” – big smiles.

To be honest, I haven’t really thought all that much of physiotherapy and stuff in the past and if someone had told me that I would have to go for several sessions and spend a few hundred pounds, I would have laughed (politely). But a lot of what I found out today made a lot of sense and, while I’m not about to start singing the praises of physios from the rooftops, I’m starting to wonder why I haven’t though much of this in the past (actually, that answer is obvious – I got duff NHS physio after my broken ankle). Of course, the real test will be if I actually improve after some of this stuff, but I’m not as sceptical as I was when I woke up this morning. I think it’ll be interesting.

Apr 05

Ruby, Rails and some KDE stuff

Like many, I’ve been checking out the Ruby on Rails framework. Jonathan at work had reckoned that it was worth investigating to see how good it is for quickly deploying content managed web apps. For the last couple of weeks I have been developing a project management thing for us to use internally in Rails and I’m starting to get a feel for how things are pieced together. It’s really quite nice and getting something quick and simple up is Formula 1 fast. Once things become more complicated the development slows to a more sedate Subaru Impreza speed. Still quick. I know that it’s something that could be done in other languages, as some blog posts have pointed out, but that is missing the point – it hasn’t been done before, at least not as nicely as this. I’m certainly no expert on develpment frameworks, but the array of built in functions and facilities is impressive, and growing. This is the nicest thing about Rails – it allows you to get on with programming the site, rather than buggering about setting stuff up and performing database queries. And what a joy programming it is, largely thanks to Ruby.

Ruby is a pleasure to use and, in many ways, I’ve taken to it more than Rails. After a couple of WTF? hours at the start, things started to make sense. Then I got hold of The Pickaxe and things really started making sense. The more I poked and prodded Ruby, the more I liked it. Small and concise blocks of code started doing some pretty smart stuff. I ported a wee PHP-GTK program that I have written over to Ruby and it was around 30% smaller – not bad for programming a new language, day 1 (this is a testament to Ruby, not my talent). Ruby is a beautiful object-oriented language – it’s the best thing since sliced linux.

Recently at work I have had to develop some sites remotely, via FTP – a nasty practice that I don’t enjoy. It hasn’t been made easier by the fact that I’ve been unable to find any decent FTP program for KDE/linux (a minor untruth – Kasablanca is nearly OK). So I have decided to write my own, using Ruby and Korundum. I’ll write more about this little project later, but I will say that it’s a complete pleasure to write an application after writing websites. No browsers, no CS-fucking-S, ahh….

Another KDE thing that is on the horizon (but, for some reason, hasn’t had as much coverage as I would have expected) is the forthcoming Mozilla/Gecko Kpart. This should give the ability to swap between using KHTML and gecko for rendering at the touch of a button in Konqueror (or any other Kpart aware browsers) and should be a great feature for web developers, or anyone who likes one browser, but prefers the rendering in another etc… Very cool.

Apr 05

Some wee things

A few wee snippets from my life, in no particular order:

  • Leaves appeared on the tree outside my window almost overnight.
  • I’m trying out some new hosting (not on any live sites yet though – I have learnt from past mistakes!).
  • My radiator is damn hot – I scalded my testicles on it yesterday.
  • I’ve been programming loads recently, but that would (will) fill at least another post.
  • I have discovered Tesco Crunchy Oat Cereal with Tropical Fruits. This is a big deal – I’ve always loved the look of these sorts of cereals, but this is the first one I’ve found without nuts and I’m loving it.
  • I’ve been having injury management issues lately, mostly stemming from old broken bones – occasionally sore back, sore ankle (out of nowhere, after four years in retirement!), tendon in my finger, tweaky knee… I’m falling apart!
  • We’re just about to break into some great weather – I know it.
  • I’ve been to the pub in Haddington the last two weekends, but I live in Edinburgh – not sure what went wrong there.

Apr 05

The West highland Way (well, the top half)

Stuart and I had a cool mountain bike ride on Saturday – we rode the West Highland Way north from Crianlarich to Fort William, about 50 odd miles. We had ridden very little of the track before and it was partly a scoping mission for my half-baked plan to ride all of the Way in a day this summer (only two and a half months to the longest day – I should get training!). There was plenty of good singletrack and I thoroughly enjoyed this ride through a great part of the country. If you’re going to do it though, be warned – after a lovely singletrack climb and short fast descent after Bridge of Orchy, there is a section of trail which gently climbs on military road for a few miles. It’s a nasty kind of cobbled affair that gave us both seriously sore arses. The Devil’s Staircase is a nice bit of path. Despite my best efforts, I was reduced to walking about half way up (unless you count a couple of ditches low down and a sneaky dab). I actually think all of the sections are rideable, but getting up that thing would be an amazing endurance effort and well out of my league. After a cracking long, rocky descent there was some more walking after Kinlochleven and I think if I’m to do the whole thing, this final section may be a grim battle to the death.

We arrived in Fort William just after 18:00, half an hour after a train back to the van at Crianlarich had left. So we chilled out, drank coffee, ate horrible greasy chips from that shite chippy that I always seem to end up at and got onto the train for the 20:05 train. Feeling quite smug about life, I happily told the approaching guard that we were going to Crianlarich. “Not tonight you’re not – this train doesn’t run on a Saturday.” was his equally smug reply. Note to self: don’t let Stuart do anything (like check train times) on his own ever again. I decide we should hot-foot it to the other side of town and start hitching, despite the fading light, because a night in a hostel doesn’t appeal. We don’t even get half way when we bump into John Birnie who is up here for a kayaking event and is, happily, going back down south that night! Excellent – all we had to do was survive the next few hours in a pub and at a ceilidh in cycling shoes and lycra. Ya, we’re lucky bastards.