Friday, 30 November 2007

Trail Call

Just had a nice sounding lass call me about getting Trail magazine for just 1 pound for next 3 issues? I asked as a current subscriber, does that mean i'd be getting a couple of quid off my next 3 issues if i took them up on the offer? We laughed, she said she'd love too, and i went back to watching a packed episode of Landward. And having an evening off from the computer.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

I Heart Jimmy Shand

The blog seems to be turning into a request show, as a student of mine pointed me to this video.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Nature of Britain

Just caught the 'where you live' section of bbc1's 'nature of britain' programme. It was from the Mar Lodge estate in the Cairngorms. There were some NTS volunteers fixing paths and monitoring wildlife. Recognised many of the locations and will keep an eye out for shrews and ants in future. Now, the penultimate episode of "Heroes" on Freeview.

No Prior Warning

Upon returning to the AktoCave, I was surprised to see a parcel from R&R Enterprises. I didn't recall ordering anything from, but maybe I'd forgotten. Maybe it was a present. Maybe Darren felt guilty and bought me something - but Alpkit sell through their own site. Opening the packet, it turns out I'd won a Colin Prior "The Wild Places" calendar (yup, 2008) from The Outdoors Station. Huzzah. I hadn't had a chance to listen to this week's podzine yet, so missed the draw.

I've copied the player here in case you too had missed it. I think I heard Metric's name in the draw too.

The Podzine 26/11/07

Download MP3 File

Hmm - a bit negative start to the podcast news. Having ID when travelling between one part of UK and other part of UK on ferries as well as aircraft - all done via statutory instrument (SI) rather than debated laws. Starting with Northern Ireland, no doubt expanded thereafter. Then on to phone messages being sent from stores directly to your mobile phone (hmm - Data Protection implications? do they have an opt out/opt in clause?). I'll need to find more information on these.

On a more positive note, an interview with Expedition Foods. Yeaaa.

(More geese heard flying over AktoManor)

Bob lives dangerously with his language translation (from female to male).

The 2008 range of AKU boots are then discussed.


Oh, and Trail magazine came in post, with some artistic photos of Christmas wishlist gear. Love the effect of light on Cerro Chaltén.

iPM Podcast

Just subscribed to the BBC Radio 4 "iPM" podcast. More details on the new media formatted program at its website. Of course, getting the chance to listen to it is a different matter.

Earlier post.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Terms of Service

Almost all comments here have been replied to, and none deemed flippant and ignored.

I reply to comments as quick as I can.

I'll repost major comments that I've left elsewhere, on to this blog. And cross-reference back to the original poster's blog.

I use hyperlinks as often as I can to reduce problems of terms of reference. It is then up to the reader to follow the links or not.

At the moment I don't have AdSense on this blog, but who knows what the future will hold. Please do not post personal details on this blog, as they may be used by other readers. Examples of items not to include in comments - date of birth, email addresses, postal addresses, phone numbers, whether you are a single female librarian.

Any posts about site stats are merely surprise and feedback that people are actually dropping by here. I use Google Analytics, and that doesn't give detailed information, so I don't/can't drill down to IP addresses or the like. The ClustrMap is just there to quickly show where people have visited from, as I can't fake the results. Still no-one from Madagascar though.

There was an aim that I'd only blog about the outdoors, but these days, I've hardly gotten out to the wilds, even in the car. Who knows what is around the corner; I laugh in the face of fear and tweak the nose of the dreadful spindly killer fish ' '

In Kautokeino no one can hear you scream

I found this online - I must track down a copy of "Kill Buljo"

”Wouldn’t it be fun to make a north Norwegian Tarantino spoof of Kill Bill?”

More info


Posts, Shoots & Leaves

Monday, 26 November 2007

7 Deadly Sins of Blogging

Clearswift produced a guide to the 7 Deadly Sins of Blogging. The full document can be read here, but I've summarised the main points below for those too lazy to click a link and read the additional information.

1st Deadly Sin
Thinking you’re only talking to friends

The Golden Rule of blogging: never say anything on a blog that you wouldn’t happily say in public, that you can’t substantiate or that the organization would not permit. If in doubt: take it out!

2nd Deadly Sin
Thinking your blog is personal, not an organizational matter

If you’re publishing a personal blog, make it clear on your home page that the views expressed in it are your own (and don’t mention your organization).

Whether personal or corporate, here are some of the big no-nos of blogging:

  • Sharing confidential information
  • Sharing business plans
  • Engaging in controversial speech
  • Sharing copyright-protected material
  • Sharing illegal or distasteful material

3rd Deadly Sin
Linking to inappropriate material

It’s not just what you say in your blog, it’s what you link to. Linking to illegal material or inappropriate websites, videos or images is probably a breach of your policy – check it out if you’re unsure.

4th Deadly Sin
Thinking you can erase mistakes

You can’t. Once you’ve published a blog entry, it’s out there for all to copy, share, link to and discuss. Of course, you can remove a post (and you should if you have any doubts), but you never know who has already copied it, distributed it or put it in their own blog.

5th Deadly Sin
Ignoring comments to your blog entries

Your own blog entries may be completely responsible, but that doesn’t mean the people who post comments will be.
Most bloggers experience unpleasant, inappropriate comments to their posts at some time. This can include racial or sexual abuse, harassment, personal attacks and links to pornography or illegal material.

You are responsible for all comments posted on your blog. Make sure you regularly monitor all comments, remove offensive or illegal ones, block irresponsible contributors and report any serious incident.

And of course, when you comment on other people’s blogs, the same rules of professionalism and security apply as they would on your own blog.

6th Deadly Sin
Devouring resources

Simple text-based blogs are generally resource-friendly. But when you start to share recorded webcams, presentations, music, video and multimedia files, you may be eating valuable bandwidth, slowing down the network and using up storage space.

7th Deadly Sin
Leaving yourself open to virus attack

A new generation of computer viruses, worms, Trojans and ‘malware’ (malicious computer code) has risen up to exploit the opportunities presented by blogging and other Web 2.0 services.

Ask Not for Whom the Dog barks

I posted this comment across on BG!'s blog. Not sure if there's a prize for the longest comment, especially when OP was only 4 lines long. I've repeated it here, and added in some hyperlinks.


Often the growling dogs are difficult to detect. Especially if the howls are across various streets. A comment here, a post there, and a dig somewhere else. If a wolf beys for blood, they should expect the huntsmen to come after them. A bite here, a nip there, a rip somewhere else.

Orwell was warning against the evils of the Soviet totalitarianism. Pastor Niemoller warned of the silent majority allowing the Nazi regime to grow. No-one was talking about people arguing about outdoors forums, blogs or magazines.

Unlike the world of the past, we are more at risk from getting snippy comments than being made to disappear by the NKVD or the Gestapo/Abwehr. The worst that happened to me was taking some snippy comments into the Cairngorms with me in the summer. The worst that seems to have happened on the Trail forum is that some jerk called up and cancelled a campsite booking. Hardly events that merit writings by a modern Eric Blair, is it?

“Each human mind’s an outpost
And the frontiers of Freedom expand
Conquering minds and hearts
Prelude to the conquest of cities and of states
Till the world is wholly free
And then?
We will strive for higher freedoms still”

Bob Cooney wrote that some years after his return from fighting fascism in Spain in the 30’s.

I await a report in TGO or Trail or Country Walking in to the conditions that factory workers in China and other non-EU countries are working in. The evils aren’t who said what on blogs or forums or magazines, but on the morality of outsourcing.

Then maybe, just maybe, the hounds could be unleashed not on the desire to pay less and less money for the goods, but on outsourcing work to countries where workers do not have the legal protection that EU workers have - one of the many reasons that the goods are cheaper. Perhaps then we will have “higher freedoms” instead of merely lower costs, higher unemployment and our own industry can start on equal terms.

Every time I hit return on the keyboard, another child worker has been crushed my machinery in a factory somewhere in the world (¥). Next time you buy your cheap jeans or cotton t-shirt, think on the kid cotton-pickers who’s hands have been scarred by the hand-picking techniques caused by the lack of machine parts to fix the post-Soviet era machinery.

Life is a bitch. Let’s not forget the true evils being hidden by the real growling mutts of the world. Not some keyboard commandos, but some people who don’t give a damn where products come from, and what hardships people went through to make them and ship them, so long as they’re a few quid cheaper than the ‘ethical’ ones.

But I’ve obviously missed these editions of the outdoors magazines that investigated these issues.

{¥   I made that bit up.}

How I Blog

The technicalities are usually set out by the communications device:

1. Windows Live Writer from computer. A great free program. Even allows me to download, amend and repost articles. Eg adding better photographs than the ones sent from the mobile phone.

2. Blogger editor online if computer I'm using doesn't have WLW. I find this clunky, as I like opening linked articles in a new window, and Blogger's editor doesn't allow me to do this, unless I go through adding target="_blank" code.

3. Mobile phone - blogging when walking or travelling. I use the email facility, rather than the built-in blog software. If the blog post doesn't connect, I can't send another post, but a failed email will just sit in the outbox.

Topic - generally this comes first. What have I to say? George Orwell wrote about the four great motives for writing, and I think every post can easily fit into at least one of those categories:

(i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc.

(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed.

(iii) Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

(iv) Political purpose. Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.

For me, I don't tend to bother about (i) or (iii). I like the idea of doing something first, showing photographs of areas that others may not have seen, pushing the new media of blogs a bit further than they were before - I think that is a category (iv). And most of the rest are (ii) - aesthetic.

In less prosaic terms, the types of blog articles that I post are either:

1. Input - reposting information that has come in from elsewhere, e.g. news items, articles from forums, weather, what was first communicated in a non-Web medium e.g. tv/radio/podcast/book/magazine, site statistics.

2. Processing - taking information and forming new ideas from it.

3. Output - sharing an event or thought that I have experienced.

4. Feedback - I rarely revisit old posts, old journeys.

Once I have the general idea for the post, I start writing. Well, sometimes it takes me a while if it is a "processing" article. The recent article on Convergence 2.0 took me a couple of days to formulate in my brain - aided by some cold walks, when my brain needs to think to keep working. It often gives me time to come up with a snappy title.

I used to use random titles, taken from the music track that I had been listening too. Nowadays, I find it difficult to locate articles written back then.

I also used to post a day's-worth of articles in one post. Again, I find it difficult to locate articles written back then.

My posts tend to be reasonably well cross-referenced. This gets round one problem with communications, where people from different cultures don't have the same terms of reference.  So, talking about "Dad's Army" may get UK readers thinking of the old BBC comedy, but others around the world may not have a clue. Using Wikipedia or YouTube helps greatly.

Most "processing" posts then to have a beginning, middle and end. They are formed articles. Sometimes the "output" posts fall into this system too, but often they are linear, telling the reader about what happened at the start, middle and end of a journey.

Most "input" articles are brief and to the point. Sometimes very short indeed. Much depends on my mood and the amount of time I have available.

In conclusion

I blog using the best hardware/software available to me at that moment. I tend to write about different things. I often go back and change posts, adding in more links, better photographs or fixing mistakes.

If you are not blogging about what you are experiencing, or sharing information or adding your visions to the human consciousness - then what the heck are you doing in the 'Sphere, dude?

WLW 2008

New version of Windows Live Writer came out earlier this month. It is "out of beta", and is now WLW 2008.

Downloading it just now. It is taking a while, and seems to have quite a few more additional products

that it wants me to install. So more to uncheck.

It offers 3mb of Family Safety - to help keep my family safe online. I'll refuse that offer just now until some goons turn up to break my laptop.

The installation says that I am "free to do other things while you wait." Which is nice. It doesn't offer to go an get me a coffee though.

A few "please wait" windows flash up, and I stop typing as I lose control of the text box.

It has kept the plugins that I downloaded a few days ago, and everything seems like 'normal'.


Copy/paste from Notepad, and continuing writing in WLW 2008. So far I have noticed nothing new about the program. There's a list of features here. Still no symbol insertion for complex HTML codes, so I'm still using FoxInternet's page for characters that the Insert Symbol plugin can't cope with. Useful stuff if writing in Gælic; Frénch; Spaniçh - in fact almost all languages except Ænglish. Ôó ∏

Back on the main site, I read that there is now a UK English spell-checker available. Huzzah. You can also spellcheck in French, German and Spanish. Spiffing. As well as Canadian and the original US English.

In summary - a nice, free, working blog writer program. It allows me to rapidly switch between normal and HTML views so that I can copy/paste in Embed codes from other sites (eg Flickr, Zooomr, YouTube). It allows me to set the default to be 'open in new window'. It can pick up Tags from the blogs, and can grab posts down to allow me to edit them and repost them.

New features may not seem worth the download, but, heck, it is free anyway, just watch out for the 'extras' it offers. I prefer WLW to the clunky, online Blogger editor. I even use it to create comments with complex HTML tags, then just switch to HTML Code view and copy/paste the code in to the comments window. Just make sure no 'P' tags and no 'open in new window/_blank' tags either.

The Prevention of Literature

Just noticed that Project Gutenberg in Australia has some different books to read than the main Project Gutenberg. I noticed that George Orwell wasn't listed on the .ORG site, but is listed in the .AU site. And, yes, I did check under Eric Blair too. I can only assume that it is to do with different copyright laws.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

WD's Kit List

Whilst following up a thread on OM, I found the testimonial page for the Delta Ground Anchors, and the comment from John King reminded me that maybe Darren needs some of these to hold his tarp down on the 2008 TGO Challenge. *g

If you're not sure of the back-story to this, here's George's brick-film.

On This Day in History

My namesake, Duncan, inherited the Scottish crown in 1034.

The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan

According to Shakespeare, he was murdered in his sleep by MacBeth. Boo, hiss.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Out of Boddam

Having a laugh listening to "out of doors" on radio scotland. In a cold car, rain hammering against the windows and against me when i open the window to see where the sun will rise. I doubt i'll get the chance to use the tripod. Hey ho.











MapLink: Car park, south of Boddam, on A90.

This useful site has the sunrise/sunset times, but the sunrise was mugged today by a North Sea cloudbank. Warm clothing and a thermos in the car. I had intended to stop in Peterhead and get some snaps, but the light was poor, so went shopping (bumping into Stu from the wargames club), then to a mate's for tea, and got a free pub lunch for helping fix a problem with her Dad's computer. Then spent most of afternoon asleep on my sofa. A lazy day.

Just noticed that I hadn't set the EOS clock to GMT. Oops. I can't try and blame Lay for that one.

Coincidentally, "Scotland's Music" on the TV just now has Phil Cunningham talking to Aly Bain about the light that falls on Scotland (MediaLink).

Friday, 23 November 2007

Traffic Update

As the weather starts to get more wintry, I can't help but want to see what the rest of Scotland is like. Traffic Scotland have expanded the number of webcams available. They also have reports of incidents and road closures.

Don't forget the Met Office webcams, and this nice one featuring Buachaille Etive Mór, at the gateway to Glencoe (maplink and pronunciation).

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Dreich is The Word

I like having a choice of waterproofs. I noticed, however, that i was procrastinating as it got near time for me to leave the warm, dry baseroom and leg it across town to the Foyer. As much of Aberdeen is built on a grid system, some streets funnel the strong winds whilst others are reasonably sheltered. Umbrellas are often worthless, often essential. I did wonder about wearing my Paramo trousers today. I didn't.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Site Stats

I haven't done a site stat report for a while, and today seemed like a good one, as visits slid over the 2 thousand mark today (21 October-20 November).

  • 2,013 Visits
  • 1,022 Absolute Unique Visitors
  • 3,208 Pageviews
  • 1.59 Average Pageviews
  • 00:01:39 Time on Site

Country/Territory in order of average time spent on site (00:00's removed)

South Africa (19:05), Malaysia (04:34), Australia, Japan, Egypt, Germany, Chile, Finland, United Kingdom (01:59), Switzerland, France (00:54), Taiwan, Denmark, Canada, Poland, Sweden, Netherlands, United States, Brazil, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, South Korea, Hong Kong, Czech Republic (00:03)

The reason for the high figure for South Africa, was one visitor from Cape Town who spent 35 minutes on site. A visitor from Gateshead in England spent 22 minutes here. In the USA, a visitor from Talent/Oregon spent just under 17 minutes on site. Talent - great name for a place, as the name means something else where I was brought up "just going in town to chat up the talent". Good news that they have a programme to clear up the falling leaves - here we have the high winds to blow the leaves against walls, to make it easier for the cooncil cleaners to do their sterling work.

And the hero of Canton was back (songlink). Dusseldorf and Frankfurt am Main in Germany averaged about 13 minutes per visit. Oulu in Finland averaged 12 minutes for their visit. Shibuya/Japan averaged 10 minutes per visit (just read that "Shibuya is known as one of the fashion centers of Japan" - does that mean I'm fashionable?).  Kuching in Malaysia supplied a couple of visits averaging just under 7 minutes on the blog (NB: love the cat statues in the photos). 6 visits from Melbourne in Australia spent average of 6.5 minutes on site.

Cheers, sir/madam (delete as applicable).

Still no-one from Madagascar, though.

Meditation by Paddyrasta

Paddyrasta's "Meditation" video, filmed here in Aberdeen. See how many locations you can spot.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

The Gaelic Adventure

Cameron has written a great piece entitled: "Let's preserve the Gaelic".  He was interviewed for Radio Scotland's "Out of Doors" programme (link). Frankly, I feel that preservation isn't enough, and that an audit needs to be carried out to check that placenames have their original meanings. If a place was mis-named by a surveyor, or renamed by the first climber, then should not their original names be used?  Was Sgurr Alasdair always called that? No, so why should that Gaelic name be preserved?

Position originally stated after watching "Tir is Teanga, 21.05.07" (link).

Drummond's book on "Scottish Hill & Mountain Names" is an excellent addition to the library. As Cameron writes:

The people who once lived in these remote parts were the people who gave the hills, the lochs, the glens, their names and if we were to lose those names we would be losing part of our culture.

Why not do it properly, so that the culture is preserved, the real culture. Is Sgurr Alasdair any better than "The Devil's Point"?

BBC Alba links to their Gaelic learners page. Air Splaoid's blog.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Do You Want One of Those?

Animation of the space putty shows how it can be made into a poncho. Is it waterproof?

If you want one of those, here's the link to the store. I'm not sure if it has a big enough coverage to cover a clad hiker. May be useful on the next TGOC "Killer" game as a Lurker Above?

Sunday, 18 November 2007

PodZine 19.11.07

Colin Prior is interviewed by Bob Cartwright in this week's TOS Podzine. Bob catches Colin before he leads a photographic tutorial group to Bhutan.

The Podzine 19/11/07

Download MP3 File

An earlier interview still exists in Bob's old page (link).

I have his work on a screensaver on my works laptop. His work is inspirational for me. For instance, sitting on top of Ben Hope in 2005, I noticed the clouds below me, creeping around the eastern side of the hill. So, I'm freezing at 3,041 feet, after sleeping on the lower slopes, and I do what I can with my point-and-click. All because of the articles in TGO magazine, which got me thinking about what I was seeing.

PodZine released a day early. Bob uses the unforgivable term "Crimble", shudder. He also has some new sfx for his competition winner machine, I was just waiting for it to go "quack, quack, oops". And the winner of the Alpkit down sleeping was ... not me.

Scotland's Music

There's a fine programme on BBC2 called "Scotland's Music with Phil Cunningham", with Phil Cunningham presenting a programme about music from Scotland. He delves into Scotland's past, meets people, and discusses the tunes and who wrote them.

In this week's episode he covered work. Which meant that he looked into waulking songs, with Anne Lorne Gillies and Capercaillie; shepherds (with a trip to Tibbie Shiel's Inn in Ettrick); fishing in Stonehaven and whaling in Peterhead; jute in Dundee, and travellers and Doric balladeers, "fit fit fits fit fit?"

So you get a better idea of aspects of Scottish people, history, the environment, oh, and some music too.

Being a modern media company, the BBC have a website where you can watch (and listen to) clips from the shows so far. Heuch.

The Time Sponsored By

The Time, Sponsored By AktoMan, is

I thought of adding it to the sidebar, but I couldn't find the space.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Tamrac Expedition 5

I collected my new Tamrac Expedition 5 (code 5575) from the depot today. Due to other commitments, I didn't get a chance to play with it. It is big. It ate up my meagre gear, and still has room for more. Of course, I've added to the camera gear a shemagh, buff, gloves, headtorch, snacks, pen and paper. And a waterproof rucksack cover.

My bag came from Fotosense. Shiny.


iPM Radio Blog Show

Radio 4 have a new show about the world, constructed through their blog, commented and expanded therein. Also discusses blogging in general. Eddy Mair's enthusiasm for life shows through.


Show Link

Model Railway Exhibition 07.1

On at AECC in Aberdeen over Saturday and Sunday. Not just model railway layouts, but lots of small sale engineering projects and tools for same. Also able to pick brains of the exhibitors to help you with your own projects.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Tescos Danestone

Place has been renovated. Now you have a split level shiney new-looking store. Ooh. "sorry pal, but this isn't the customer entrance, that's further into the store". Good start. Besides the count-the-folk in gates is a gap for staff. Not customers. My bad. Some sort of gate might be in order. Upstairs, the gents clothes are away at the back. I hate being treated like a 2nd class shopper, so turned instead to the geek stuff. Bigger range, including a Nikon d40. But it was out of stock, and just on display, so no info. Downstairs again - i am reminded that i have to push my trolley when travelator stops - they are selling their 2skin tents for under a tenner. Same for a small LED headtorch. Multitool for 2quid. Reflec strips for safety at night and even gear for horses and riders. I bought a few items and my first Christmas present of the year. No idea who it is for, and i feel no more festive than i did in the rains of summer.


So, the car thermometer reads 4'c and i'm glad that the rucksack that houses my camera case also holds warm bunnet and gloves. Taking photos of moon after checking our tables at the exhibition centre. I hear the boy racers driving by and remember popping in to Checkpoint earlier in the year. To see the cargeeks in their natural habitat was an eye-opener for me. Students who show little interest in infotech were getting exited about some tyres! To me a car is something practical, to them it was something more. GeekPower!


MRE Friday

The nice folk from the Aberdeen Model Railway club have invited us along to the Model Railway Exhibition for a few years now. The engineers of the railway, aircraft, boats and cars all come along. They have big complex assemblies. I feel lazy, as us wargamers have everything in boxes ready to set out on Saturday morning. So i'm cutting up some club business cards to leave on the tables to mark our territory, and, of course, typing this post into my phone, pretending to look busy.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Convergence 2.0

Yesterday I watched Alan Yentob's "Imagine...WWW" again, as he covered the future of the Web. Although a year old, I was surprised to find a couple of items from it being cited later that day:

  1. David Firth, of SaladFingers fame, was on ScreenWipe last night on BBC2.
  2. "The Long Tail" being discussed on the new podcast. (YouTube video)

To me, this reflects the power of Web2.0. It is about sharing ideas, just-in-time learning, and creativity. A real meritocracy. Participate or not, it is your choice, just don't complain about missing out. Learn Japanese if you want. Learn how to create spheres in Photoshop if you want. Learn how to fold a lightcube if you want.

Leo and Amber described themselves as being Internet Content Creators. Not being pigeon-holed into one particular format. I thought back to the Yentob programme, where he mentioned convergence. The two ideas, memes if you will, merged, intertwingled. I had been thinking of convergence in a Web 1.0 way: the technologies coming together so that, for example, my mobile phone has a media player, so I don't need two devices. What if I think of convergence in a Web 2.0 way? The sharing, the communities, the people, the learning, the exploration, the fun, and the meritocracy is all that is important, and not the hosting technology.

Do I care that you are listening to this on a podcast? Nope. Do I care if you are using Safari on a Mac, or browsing via a mobile phone? Nope. So why should you care if this is posted on a blog, written on a forum or a wiki, in some class notes or discussed in a YouTube video. Is this not what converging technologies should be really about? Share the knowledge, share the creativity, share the power. In return you will gain new knowledge, find new creativity, and be empowered to take new strides forward.

Any media that fails to keep up has a problem. Any technology that fails to keep up has a problem. But that is their problem, and not ours.


On saturday there was an RSPB team looking over this view from Union Terrace. Sadly, i didn't have (or take) the opportunity to stop. Using the listen again feature to catch Radio Scotland's excellent "out of doors" programme, the chaps spoke to the RSPB folk about the birds of prey that live and, well, prey above Aberdeen. Wow. Aberdeen has some amazing architecture happening above our heads, and now you can have your own AutumnWatch too. Watch the skies.

This and That




Wednesday, 14 November 2007


Before leaving work tonight, some of us were chatting about "Heroes", and it got me thinking as I (finally) left the office in the cold and dark...

  • Maggie - she had seen series 1 on Sky. Her son had seen part of series 2 abroad.
  • Duncan - had seen next week's on Freeview, but would be recording the terrestrial showing of it tonight as the Freeview picture isn't great quality. So the 0900pm showing was a 'repeat'. Wasn't sure if I'd be watching the next show on Freeview when it came on. [I decided that I'd better as "0.07%" was gripping].
  • Doreen - seen some, but lost her place. Would like to borrow the series when I've finished recording it.

So my brain, in an attempt to keep warm, starts thinking thus...We all watch the same TV series, but we can't discuss it openly without the fear of dropping a spoiler. Is "on demand" stopping the promotion of television programmes? Is it making us more insular in our watching habits? Is too much choice watering down television? If you are constantly switching channels, does it become easier to just switch off?


What can I say in response to Chris Cowell's article about me? I'm touched, thank you.

The camera is a reconditioned dSLR from eBay. The skills are second-hand from my old college-mate, Mike, and a pile of books from the works library. My eye comes from being trained as a quantity surveyor, and I tend to "work the angles".

"Time off work"? As if. I've had time off the hills with illness, suspected muscle damage that was all fine by the time the physiotherapist poked, prodded and tickled me. The rest of it has been looking out the window at the weather and wondering what I can do with an evening off (AECC), or the mist (Fittee), or during a morning in Ullapool waiting for the ferry. I've only been out trekking once with the dSLR (Glen Ey).

It gives me something to do, and is my retirement plan - I hope to have a skill so that I can sell postcards and tourist photographs.

Once more, thank you for the kind words, Chris.

Odiogo Update

I got an email through from Odiogo, and was shocked.

Total MP3 file downloads since you have signed up to the Odiogo service:7105.
Month           Downloads     Listen Button

Doing the maths (or 'math' if your American..I never understood that), in October I posted 86 times, so 1458/86 is approximately 17. Seventeen people listen to the RSS feed! I don't even subscribe to me on iTunes!!

If you're not familiar with Odiogo, it's text reader that  converts these posts to mp3 format, and also hosts them as an RSS feed for subscription via iTunes, Juice or similar. You can here the samples here (down the bottom of the page) or by clicking the   Subscribe to the Odiogo podcast. button on the sidebar. I just liked the accessibility of the company's ideas. Although free, the service is advert-supported, so you may find some subliminal advertising buy Chris Townsend's "Backpacker's Handbook" in there occasionally.

Although a great reader, it's not my voice. Maybe that's a good thing? Here's a video of me speaking...and smelling.

So, to the 17, cheers, this post is for you. Ping, pong, piddly pong. Here's some lines from Robert Burns to see how the reader copes:

The deities that I adore
Are social Peace and Plenty;
I'm better pleas'd to make one more,
Than be the death of twenty ' '

Monday, 12 November 2007

TV: This World

From tonight's TV listings, BBC2's award-winning investigative documentary "This World" series: "Inside Burma's Uprising".

In September, Burma's population rose up once again against their military rulers. Civilians joined demonstrations by Buddhist monks across the country, but the rising sense of anarchy was cut short in just days when the army were ordered to shoot. The film documents the accounts of bloggers, monks, student leaders and protest organisers who were lucky enough to escape. Their friends are dead or in jail. (Source: Radio Times)

BBC's article on the program can be found here and a watch-again feature here.

Bag a Prize Today

Email just in from Bob Cartwright, but I'm too busy to do anything more with than repost here:

Great new Podzine 12/11/07 show just released and the chance to win a Alpkit 400 Pipedream sleeping bag!!

Plus of course some interesting interviews with Ordnance Survey regarding digital on-line mapping and Alpkit for their Colab 08 competition.

Plus a quick review of Camping and Trail Magazines! Oooooo ;-D

Get it here;


With a prize like that I'm going to have to make time to listen to the podzine during my 60 minute lunch break (hahaha - soz, I always laugh when I think that stuffing a sarnie into my gob classes as a 'lunch break').

Sunday, 11 November 2007

1000K Marathon

Just broke a thou posts across on

Outdoor Bloggers' Forum

There was a Soldier

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Unleash the Hounds

Opinionated rubbish posted in response to Chris Townsend's article "Alladale Again: Bothy Closed, PR Machine Ramped Up"

Well, the landlords are doing it again. Bring it on, and we'll see if Scotland really is a democracy. My great-grandfather was a Pairc raider, spent time in jail for standing up to the landlords. Is this a land fit for heroes, or a place where the law is pochled when money is on the table.

A few jobs (some for locals, or just open to all?) and ignore the tourists that come worldwide to hike in Scotland, bringing money to local communities and not just the estate. Hey ho, the money can go elsewhere, I'll certainly not be visiting after I've bagged the Munro.

I'll second Chris' comments - I'd love to see some more re-introduced species. Unlike some people, for me I like new experiences rather than speed and running. Slow and steady, taking in all I can, enjoying life and enjoying the experience, trying not to pi55 off too many people - okay, no-one that doesn't deserve it anyway. And a quick knee in the nuts of any wolf that gets too close, crying the old Gaelic warcry of "gwan yah bass!"

Friday, 9 November 2007

Frozen windscreens

I'm having a Totoro morning. Can't get the song out of my head. Passed a chap clearing frozen snow from his car windscreen. A light dusting of same can be seen in gardens.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

November Snows

The kindly people at the Met Office have a few webcams in Scotland. A great idea, and whoever came up with it should get a pat on the back. There is a light dusting of snow at the Loch Glascarnoch weather station (between Inverness and Ullapool), and the 3pm temperature has dipped to 2.3'c, whilst Glen Ogle had dipped to -0.2'c.


Nothing but blue skies

With the weather conditions today, it might be cold and gusting but the sky is just so clear. Shame about phonecam quality as i leg it to my class at the Foyer.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Hilltrek Blues


Chris Townsend (left) and me (right) and my expanding waistline (centre).

Photo provided by Dave at Hilltrek.

If you only ever buy one backpacking book, buy "The Backpacker's Handbook" . Unless you are doing the Duke of Edinburgh awards, in which case you'll probably need three, just to be on the safe side.

The Day After Today

For part of Scotland, the Met Office forecast for Thursday 8th November includes...

Showers will turn to snow at times mainly over high ground which could bring some disruption over the higher routes.
[Edited as part of a 40% chance for parts of Central, Tayside & Fife]

Here's hoping no-one gets caught out by it. Be careful out there, folks. Check the regional forecasts for details and updates.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Sunset from the towerblock

One of the advantages of working here is seeing Nature at work.

Another glorious day at work

Wakee wakee, rise and shine.

IT Room/Crowd

Just saw a trailer for the IT Room. Hmm, wonder if it is the US version of the IT Crowd. Nothing at IMDB at time of posting, but found a couple of blog entries to find others wondering the same:

I gave up on the IT Crowd quite quickly. Funniest thing about it was the goth in the server room. Not enough goths around. Maybe they're drinking too much Irn Bru?

Monday, 5 November 2007

Blogito, ergo sum

Should I blog about the HMIE visit to the class today? I think I should wait until after Friday, as I'm my own worst critic. After the feedback session, I gave the Inspectors my works Blogger card. I have every faith in my students and that their blog posts will reflect their professionalism.

I love the ThinkGeek t-shirt and must get one sometime: I blog, therefore I am.

Social Networking Love Song

Ze Frank's modern love song: "a social network for two" is hilariously catchy. On line all the can invite me, and I can invite you....

Shaun Moriarty has done a good job illustrating the song.

I originally sourced this via Net@Nite

TV Times

As we live in interesting times, this lecture should be fun.

Royal Television Society Huw Weldon Memorial Lecture 2007

Monday 05 November, 11:20pm - 12:00am , BBC2

Interactive media guru Anthony Lilley examines the changing media landscape. With thousands of cable TV channels, how will broadcasters survive? What can audiences expect from this new era in entertainment?

BBC Source

I've got my video set (or the 21st century equivalent of it).

Additional information:

Everyone seems to be worried about the social aspects of the Web. Even Radio4's "Thinking Allowed" took the opportunity of marking Channel 4's 25th birthday to mention people making movies with their mobile phones.

Expect an additional post after I've watched the programme. We live in interesting, educational and entertaining times.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Shemagh Shenanigans

Not being able to properly use wear a shemagh is just such a social faux pas. Solution. It is such a useful piece of kit.

Rosan cobal...and it works...and is very warm too.

Biblio: video clip, wiki, fansite

High Rise at Dusk

Hardly worth the effort of fighting the uncaring, speeding traffic flow, but here they are anyway.


Just off King Street (maplink). 20seconds, f/11, ISO 100. tripod, remote control


Seaton flats (maplink). 20seconds, f/11, ISO 100. tripod, remote control

Is there really a sniper living there?

Dogfight on Ellon Road

To escape from my pc, i decided to head down to the beach to get some relaxing night shots of the city light, sea and moon. Grabbing camera bag, tripod and cold weather gear, i set off. Except that the Cooncil has coned off part of the beachfront 24hrs before tomorrow's fireworks display. My car is now headed out of town and streams of traffic speeding 30plus means i can't cross the unofficial dual-carriageway to park on the northern section. I finally manage to get across to park up by the Donmouth nature reserve. A couple of snaps taken.

Facing out of town with no hope of turning, i decide to head up to Peterhead and get some nightshots there. I forgot how offensive some of the drivers were. Yellow VW beetle on my tail flashing their beams, putting on their left indicators as i'm doing only 60 in a 60 zone. When we got to the Ellon bypass, i slowed down on to dual-carriageway as we came to the roundabout, to give them the opportunity to overtake and pulled into the same lane as them for Peterhead. Now behind them, a burst of .303" would have sent Fritz into the Drink, but i was just in my car and not flying a Hurricane. So i just kept up with the VW, decided not to be a git and watched as they kept accelerating beyond the speed limit. Then to be overtaken by a speeding peoplecarrier, and blinded by an oncoming vehicle who didn't bother dipping their lights.

So, i'm at the Lido car park in Peterhead, looking at lights reflecting on the water, and quite frankly, i can't be @rsed. I used to drive this road regularly for work, and a good day was one when i could get back to Aberdeen without almost dying. I even got as far as categorising the near death experiences. I heard that every fatal crash costs the country a million quid. I doubt that's correct, but i've seen road closures and diversions because of crashes. I have vague memories that last year the number of road fatalities in the police district was twice the forecast. From what i've seen tonight, i have little intention in ever driving the a90 again unless i have to. If the driving is still that bad at Sunday teatime, it must be worse when people have work to in to.

Toodle pip, old bean, best take the old crate back to base. Smoke me a kipper, i'll be back for breakfast.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

A Walk in the Wilds

After failing to get anything in Tiso's, I nipped in to work before continuing my circuit of shops and then home. With my congested head and constant sniffles, I'm not exactly my usual cheery self, but at least I'm not outwardly hostile, unhappy and swearing at people in the open. Unlike quite a few of the jay-walking, couldn't care less shoppers out on the streets of Aberdeen. I fail to see the point of doing something that makes one so un-freaking-happy.

Nevisport - nice to see it open. Trespass gear, but also some other ranges. Hopefully they'll be getting some gear in, and not just clothing.

Blacks - good range of stock. Even had a few Ajungilak Air Pillows in. If I hadn't been on a mission (and skint), I'd have asked what the price was. Minor gripe - not having a price on an item is laziness. I could ask, but I wasn't really after one, so didn't bother.

Craigdon - the Hagloff bag looked good, and at 80quid, was better than anything Jessops had to use as a camera bag. That Osprey courier bag made form recycled materials looks odd with too many things going on.

Millets - discount on a Berghaus 20 litre pack, but was too similar to the one I have just now. I could fit the tripod on the outside of the bag, but I prefer having it inside. Makes it less obvious, and less prone to damage.

Walking back out of the wilds, I saw the sticker below, and was instantly cheered.


Bought nothing. Snarled at no-one. Felt sorry for soooo many unhappy people that I was in danger of exuding smugness. Life is too short not to enjoy it. If you don't have time to enjoy the joy of shopping, avoid towns on a Saturday. It isn't difficult.

Maybe the council should employ some clowns.

If it looks to be good to be true

Nice bargain in Tiso's. Winter 2 litre camelbak for 15quid. Last one in stock. Until i got it scanned, and with MCoS discount took it up to 20-something quid. I walked away quickly to catch up with the overwork i was late for.

The Pulse


Went for a wander up the road to the Aberdeen Exhibition Ccentre and took some snaps (maplink). The dishes in the next field were more interesting. I started referring to Mike as Mr Quatermass.




Channel 4 is 25

Gosh, so Channel 4 is 25 years old today. For those of us who were out in the boonies, that celebration will come in later as it took at least a year for it to go to the Western Isles (was it 2 years?). Most of the good programmes now aren't on Channel 4, but on their Freeview channels, eg E4, More4, Film4, Fantastic4, Radio4. As has been mentioned elsewhere, I only get a few digital channels - so, 25 years later, I'm in a similar situation.

In the meantime, station bosses wonder why customers are switching off their tv. My answer: you have diluted the quality over too many stations and so this customer just switches off the tosh as I often can't receive the good stuff on Freeview.

Channel 4, that hard-hitting tv channel shows a programme about buying property overseas on a Friday night. Cutting edge my fat arse!

Happy birthday, but I'll be waiting for the Channel4+1 celebrations next year.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Nights are fair drawing in


Some stunning views west across the city. Shame that i'm just phone-blogging.

--updated photo later--

Thursday, 1 November 2007

LotC Wins Top Award

Well done to blogger, Lord of the Crinkles (aka Steve Walton) for winning at the British Professional Photography awards. Read his article here, as the MPA site doesn't do him justice.

His photographs and text say more than I can, so go and look, go and read, go and be amazed.

I Hate Gaelic TV

I'll say it again: I Hate Gaelic TV

Should I explain my statement, or shall I just leave it at that?

Being off work ill today, I was curled up on the sofa watching some great programmes about Scottish history, Scottish maritime news, Scottish arts, and European politics. 3 of the programmes were in Gaelic, and so were shown in their Ethnic slot, and the other programme only had half an hour to tell the history of a Scottish clan. In context, I'm focusing here on the BBC, and not STV.

The non-Gaelic programme didn't get its timeslot mucked around with, unlike the Ethnic programme slot on a Thursday - which gets ousted if something on BBC1 (usually sport) 'forces' schedulers to put the normal BBC1 shows on to BBC2.

The scheduling of BBC Gaelic TV is, therefore, unreliable. often does not advertise the contents of Gaelic programmes, so I'll set the recorder for the slot in case there is something interesting. I've known people to miss a series on the Lordship of The Isles because they didn't know it was on.

The advertising of BBC Gaelic TV is, therefore, unreliable.

Take an excellent hiking show like Tir is Teanga, for example. Where "Mountain" was shown on mainstream tv at peak time, Tir is Teanga was an Ethnic programme, in an Ethnic slot.

Why are schedulers forced to categorise a programme firstly by the Language used instead of the Content of the programme?

I Hate Gaelic TV, but I Love watching programmes about subjects that I like, no matter what language they speak, so long as there are English subtitles available.

End the language bar now.