Just back from the Wickerman Festival, a sort of laid back early Glastonbury, less commercial sort of affair. There were no real big names playing unless you count the Fun Lovin’ Criminals (who we missed) and the Proclaimers (who sadly we didn’t miss) and the Orb. The highlights for me were the Peat Bog Faeries who were excellent on the main stage and a few good bands who’s names I forget in other tents, especially the acoustic tent. The festival is loosely based around the Wickerman film which is shown on a small outdoor cinema each night and culminates with the burning of a giant Wickerman.
At my age there’s not many places I’d feel comfortable dancing to ‘rave’ music but at this festival it seemed natural and I had a great time dancing with my wife and daughter. Perhaps it’s because your virtually outdoors all the time that makes people less inhibited, or maybe it’s because everyone else is doing the same sort of thing. There were inevitably some characters who went out of their way to give others a good time, I particularly liked the dark Spider Man especially when he was being hoisted aloft the crowd at the main stage. There were also a couple of guys who provided a few photo opportunities dressed as Frank-n-Furter from the Rocky Horror Show, I don’t know how they managed the soft grassy field in those heels.
On the Saturday night we hung around the top of the hill so we could see the Wickerman, we were quite a way from the main stage but unfortunately we could still hear the Proclaimers, fair go to them for building a career on one hit song but I really can’t stand them. At around 23:40 my daughter and I went to the toilet…bad idea, by the time we got out it was wall to wall people gathered to see the Wickerman go up in flames, it was just luck that we managed to bump into my wife again. The show started with fire juggling with giant poi which was pretty impressive but I had to laugh when two cyclists on burning bikes cycled round the Wickerman in opposite directions, what mad genius came up with that idea? I did notice they got off the bike pretty sharpish after riding round the front of the Wickerman. Then the Wickerman itself went up slowly at first then into a giant running man shaped inferno. What is it with people an fire, we all seem to be totally fascinated by it and any show involving fire draws a crowd. It was all over pretty quickly though and the night was rounded off by watching some poi jugglers practising and listening to the Axis sound system from London. I think I’ll be back next year.
Got tickets for the Shins gig in Glasgow on Sunday, they were sold out when I found out about the gig but I managed to get a pair on Ebay, paid a bit over the face value but not much. For some reason the venue has been chaged from the ABC to the Barrowlands, I’ve never been to the Barrowlands so don’t know if it’s any good, looking forward to a great gig though.
Well we finally received notification from the National Trust for Scotland that our application to live on the Isle of Canna was not successful. Apparently they received over 500 applications from the UK, Europe and from as far away as Australia. I will be interested to see who is finally chosen though.
Some time last year we heard that the National Trust for Scotland were looking for families to live on Fair Isle, one of the islands owned and managed by NTS. We thought about it long and hard but in the end decided Fair Isle was perhaps a little too remote, even for us. Since then we have often talked about moving to the western isles, possibly Skye and have looked at many properties. Then last Sunday I bought the Sunday Times, which I havn’t done for ages and there was an article about the people who had moved to Fair Isle last year. In addition there was information that NTS were going to be looking for two families to live on another of their properties, the Isle of Canna in the inner Hebrides, a small island to the south west of Skye. We are not fooling ourselves that this will be easy or in fact we will get selected as we know there will be a lot of applicants but we are hopefull and have sent for the information pack and application forms, so keeeping fingers crossed.
I started using a new browser called Flock which integrates a few nice features like drag and drop images on your Flickr or PhotoBucket accounts, search results as you type, a news reader, a blog editor and the ability to synchronise and share your favourites. You can of course already do all of these things in other ways but it’s quite nice to have them all packaged together in the browser. It’s early days as Flock is still in beta form but the outlook is promising.
We’ve had broadband for just over a year now and recently we were upgraded to 8Mbs download speed, it averages at about 7.6 Mbs which isn’t bad. There was always a queue for the PC which was our only connected computer, either my wife shopping on Ebay, my daughter playing games or me just wanting to read my email. So I finally shelled out for a 3Com wireless router and I have to say the install went like a dream. Our main PC is connected directly to the router and I’m currently writing this in my garden on my laptop using the free wireless card that came with the router. I reckon I’m a good 50 feet from the router as the crow flies. The problem I have is in connecting my daughters iMac to the WLan. We also got a USB wireless stick with the router unfortuantely it did not have a Mac driver with it. I did eventually track down a Mac driver for the chipset and have installed this on the Mac. The instructions with this driver say you have to create another network access point and that this should automatically detect the new Zydas WLan which can then be configured to connect to the router. No such luck, the Mac just doesn’t see this network adapter at all so I may have to resort to a patch cable from the iMac to the router. I’m no Mac expert however and it’s possible I’ve missed something so I’ll keep digging and hopefully I’ll crack it. The alternative of course is to buy a USB wireless stick whick does come with a Mac driver. Anyway, it’s nice to be able to get online without having to wait in line.
We’ve wanted to go to the Traquair Fair for quite a while but something else always cropped up. This year though I thought we’d cracked it, we got tickets well in advance, we had a new (second hand) car, and were all set to go. Then on the day we planned to leave the car developed a coolant leak, so that was that, even if I managed to fix it it would be too late to get to the fair. So the day wasn’t a complete loss I decided to fit a new aerial on our roof so we could pick up Freeview digital TV. The ladder was a bit short; the angle was a bit steep so I knew I was taking a risk. Standing at the very top of the ladder I tried to throw a rope around the chimney breast for safety, but no matter how I tried I couldn’t get it to go round. So I somehow got onto the roof without knocking over the ladder and managed to secure the rope. It was then I lost my footing and almost came right off, luckily I managed to grab the rope I’d just tied and suffered no more than a few grazes. If I’d slipped a few seconds earlier I reckon I’d have gone through the garage roof about 40 feet below, I don’t think it would have killed me but it would certainly have hurt…a lot. Anyway, after a couple more trips up and down the ladder I eventually hooked up the aerial and we now have digital TV…..I’m going to have a drink.
I regularly cycle the 8 miles to and from work and enjoy it immensely. The views of the Ochil hills along the A91 more than compensate for the numerous car drivers who appear to think that passing within a couple of feet at 60 mph is OK. Over the last few years I have been using kevlar ‘puncture proof’ tyres and have suffered only one puncture, until today that is. The last time I had a puncture I knew the tyre walls were in poor condition, I’d been meaning to buy new ones for ages but never seemed to get round to it, so it was really my own fault that time. However, I had grown so used to not getting punctures that today took me by complete surprise. I don’t carry tools, patches, spare tube or even a pump, and I was sure that hissing sound had to be coming from the car behind me, right? No, my front tyre was flat. This, after I’d done so well to catch up and overtake another cyclist, who then stopped to ask if I needed help. We found a tear in the wall of the tyre, so how this happened is anyone’s guess. I now faced a 2.5 mile walk home, it had just started raining, I was wearing cycling shoes and very fetching Lycra shorts and shirt. It’s odd but when your on your bike with this gear on it feels fine, but as soon as you get off to walk suddenly your acutely aware of how ridiculous you look. Even pushing a bike you feel odd, it’s amplified ten-fold when you don’t have one. And as for the shoes, they’re OK for cycling but that’s it. It wasn’t an altogether unpleasant experience walking home, at a slower pace you have more time to take in the scenery and as your on the pavement you don’t have to worry about the high speed vehicles who’s drivers regard you as an obstacle rather than a legitimate road user. So I arrived home a bit later than usual, rather wet and resolving to carry a repair kit in future.
Using the free VMPlayer you can run a virtual environment on your PC. There are of course other virtual PC systems but the great thing about this one is you can download pre-built systems and run them right away. Very Cool.
Steve Rubel explains on his blog how to access and read some books on-line using a using Google Book Search. he deatils how to read O’Reilly’s Hacks Books, but it does work for many others.