ADS-B receiver – Want Better Results ? Give away technology. 

A raspberry pi I bought in a NYC vending machine and left in cupboard in Faridabad, India found it’s way to Los Angles, USA in 2016. I was a little surprised, as I have also left a unopened bottle of Bombay Sapphire which was untouched.

The Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer about the size of a credit card.  My very clever cousin Ankush an avid aeronautical enthusiast turned the device into a ADS–B. I had to look it up too. Apparently ADS–B determines an aircraft position via satellite navigation. He told me that to buy a commercial device it would have cost him about $800-$1000 or more. This one cost him around $140 and it including dual band, weather and traffic reports.  On the ground trials produced traffic reports for a 60 kms radius but he is hoping to track 150+ when he finally gets the device on a plane.

He told me “It wasn’t a big deal. An hour. Just assembly and some tweaking. Need better spanners “!

CWT Health and Tech Hack Day 2 – Micro:Bit’s and More

CORE HACK DAY
Local Newspaper Hackney Writeup

Following on from our very successful Micro:Bit hack day we ran a second day at Petchey Academy.

The ‘Tech in Health Day’ has three aims: to fulfil the sponsors’ objectives of imparting new technology skills to children; to promote new healthcare software applications; and to build awareness for CORE, a new and radically innovative charity aiming to provide affordable osteopathic care whilst undertaking valuable research into chronic pain and illness. The event entailed a 1-day workshop for Key stage 2 students.

We used the donations  of award-winning Micro:Bit’s from the BBC and this time had Anne Currie speak about Medical technology and life as a developer.

CORE Hack Day 2

Practical Steps – Avoiding the Internet Echo Chamber

How on earth do I break out of my online echo chamber ? So widely discussed that this concept even has its own wiki entry and yet I can’t find any adequate answers on how to find the chamber door. I get it. We gravitate to like-minded people both offline and online.  Articles on ditching toxic friends encourages us to construct perfect social communities. Read something vile or toxic online, the unfollow button is a click away.  Then a close friend unfriended me from Facebook. I don’t normally notice such things except I really value his conservative perspective and was seeking out his opinion.  Not only trapped, the walls are now closing in on my echo chamber.

So can you keep you sanity and friendships but not live in an online echo chamber ?  Well here is my template;

  1. Decide your topics
  2. Find the topics sourced. The people, brands, events which produce the content on your topic
  3. Create a place to collect good secondary sources on your topic
  4. Experiment with your favourite ‘Live’ source for the topic
  5. Create specific times for consuming your topic and for the sake of sanity keep media out of reach till then

The following explains how I apply this template to my current media landscape, (Twitter, Broadcasters and a tiny bit of Facebook)….

Why focus on Topic ?

I have worked with enough recommendations algorithms to know it is based on rules and topic taxonomy. Facebook are monitoring your reaction to a politics post relative to share of a baby photo. Facebook then serve you up more of the same letting advertisers know at the same time. Not only that, various apps such as Tinder use your preferences to provide you with human contact.

My suggestion is that we actively choose our topics. My usual topics are technology and tennis which align to work and play. For this analysis we shall add UK politics (now known as Brexit) as this is what brought my friendship into question.

Go To The Source

Now we have out topics we need to shed the noise. What is the point of reading an article that simply tells me about a tweet? Why not read the tweet itself ? The same goes for a press release or live statement rather than reading an opinion heavy version of the same thing from a journalist. Where possible I have actively stopped consuming anything that is second-hand trying to read the original material without the extra spin.

On twitter I follow tennis players and competition organisers. I follow people I support as well as all the tennis players that annoy me. This is true of MP’s in UK politics. I often find the source statement from a politician sounds balanced compared to the way it is reported. As nothing is official unless it is said in parliament really the best source would be to watch live parliamentary debates.  In technology this is easier as I get to go to conferences and directly talk with the people who make the news.

Follow any and all source regardless of their sentiments.

Long Form Sources

At this point you are probably saying “but I need the expert view of what is happening”. Well at least this is what Owen said when I explained my approach. I agree. Lets face it I am not going to be able to piece together why a tennis player has picked a certain training regime or why a senior politician is disliked for something they said before I was born. So super long narrative content such as books, documentaries or podcasts all come in play.

For this I have organised a screen on my iPhone where I have grouped my media apps. Things like Tivo, Channel4, BBC iPlayers and NPR.  I use it when I set aside time to consume. I use the Tivo app to store TV recommendation and Amazon for anything else including books. Others use Pintrest and Trello in the same way.

Yes, I am advocating books over newspapers and documentaries over news. I admit I can’t resist news articles that pop up on my twitter feed. In addition I let myself read article friends or co-workers recommend directly for me, as I hope they act as a good filter and we can have a real conversation. For these I open a tab on browser and read it when I block time for the activity. Owen uses an app and Steve has reverted to a print newspaper. Steve told me that he did not need all the news immediately and he can allocate a Sunday to finishing the paper. Lets face it I won’t finish reading the Internet anytime soon.

Language

We know that different languages and local culture gives genuinely different perspective. I noticed a long time back that a Hindi language tennis source actually talk about South Asian players often never mentioned in English newspapers.  I follow international newspapers such as Bilt, TV5,  NDTV and for an alternative to Silicon Valley stories MyStory.  Using pictures as my guide I use the translation service to check what is going on in the headlines which gives me enough of a clue to make the effort to translate.  In addition a lot of countries provide English language version of their content.

Live and Crisis Reporting

Diversity of sources is great while you have the time. It is another matter when you need to consume something live. In terms of tennis I turn to the broadcaster who holds the exclusive rights. If I have a choice of commentators then absolutely I gravitate to my preferred source which for Tennis is the BBC or Greg on ESPN. I also turn to the BBC for live news reports. I understand that people feel it’s biased but as a licence payer I work on the basis that they work for me. In a terror crisis they are slow only broadcasting verified facts or images but I know that and can compensate. Asides from a few places they are also available easily globally. I know people who watch NDTV, CNN or are hooked to NPR. Which is all great – in a crisis you need to know who you trust and that for me, is NOT Fox News.

I also know I reach for social media to check friends in a location are ok. It is human nature but for my closest friends I now email or text or even discuss in person. Post Brexit I ended up speaking in person to everyone that voted differently to me. I did this after I realised I had been unfriended. My unfriended friend came over and after watching a bit of Wimbledon we talked into the early hours about our post Brexit world. He left me with many articles to read that simply don’t feature in my social media feeds.

Safe spaces

So now we need to create safe times and places so that these topics don’t seep into our work and play. I do this in a few ways.

Firstly I have turned off all notifications on all devices. No breaking news. No Facebook updates.  The only notifications I get are from my diary. In my diary  block out specific times to tackle these topics (or watch tennis or go to a tech conference).

It is important to protect myself from certain topics at certain time. As I wake up or go to sleep or during a busy work day I must not consume news but tennis news is fine (well it was till Maria Sharapova failed her drugs test). On twitter I have set up a separate list for UK politics and I dip into these. An alternative might be hitting a content aggregated page.  Back on twitter I have unintentionally created myself a tennis account. So I flip to this Twitter account before bed knowing that I am unlikely to see anything but tennis news which is ideal for a snooze.

On Facebook I use dedicated browser on my desktop. It this stop Facebook tracking everything else I other websites. I always logout to stop myself sitting on the platform. While doing this I realise not of my topics are covered in Facebook. Instead Facebook is a marketing or gloating tool. For sharing things like visiting  Wimbledon. I do this by getting someone else to post for me in good humble brag tradition. I will then have to login and allow it on my timeline (as my settings are restrictive). While there I will allow myself to check notifications but if I can, I avoid scrolling the news feed. I have grouped all my Facebook friends into friends, family and acquaintances and people from my sports club. I unfollow anyone I can’t remember but I don’t unfriend them. So Facebook is an echo chamber of friends. I haven’t told Facebook where I live so it serves me friends content based on which location I have logged in from.  I don’t worry being liberal with my likes. It is changing the feed algorithm but as I try not read the news timeline and instead read specific friends or event pages I hope I might be preserved a little from the echo chamber.

Finally I am fine tuning newsletters I get. I am a member of the BCS, Fabians and British LTA so I read these but unless I am paying good money I try to unsubscribe from newsletters.

The Troll

So we know our topics, the primary sources, the great secondary sources and time boxed it into sections of our lives dedicated to consuming knowledge. Yet somehow terrible injustices of news seep through and people negatively engage with us. Now that we have reset everything we no longer need to hit the block button.  Specifically in UK politics following Brexit I have created a list called Health Warning where I place people who tweet with a frequency that fills my feeds about things that frankly disgust me. Half truths, accusations and dead body images. For the purpose of the echo chamber I read what is being said occasionally but it also shifts the search function on twitter to include their tweets on a topic I am searching.

If I see anyone who crosses the line of the Twitter’s policy I report them. I don’t block but do mute people.

The Template and New Platforms

Many years ago I wrote about how transient social media platforms were. While the magic user number has gone from 3million to 1Billion I don’t think that the transient nature of social media platforms has changed and another platform will emerge. Fingers crossed the following template will work regardless

  1. Determine your topics
  2. Find the source content producers (people, brands, events) on your topic (create a troll sub list if required)
  3. Create a place to collect good secondary sources on your topic (make it multilingual)
  4. Experiment with your favourite ‘Live’ source for the topic
  5. Create specific times for consuming your topic and for the sake of sanity keep media out of reach till then

And finally reiterate. A month after Brexit and inside my world of Technology I find I only care about certain sub topics (namely PR and Robots)  although in Tennis there is never enough new material. So now I shall follow the template again and reorganise my social media and hopefully stop living in an online echo chamber.

Choosing a Book Self Publishing Partner

I have decided to self publish my book starting with the Indian market. My main reason is that I want the control to manage the book into launch. Also time is important but traditional publisher such as Harper Collins suggest that it would take at least five to six months for your manuscript to be considered. I just don’t want to wait that long.

Deepak helpfully broke down the Publishing Process as follows ; Continue reading “Choosing a Book Self Publishing Partner”

The Lean Kite Fighting Machines – Creating an online brand in 12 hour

Some businesses you start are not so much of a good idea but a nagging obsession that you can’t get rid off.

As a result of several nagging obsessions I decided to create an online clothing brand, selling actual products. Remarkably Kalari Kites took a grand total of 12 hours to launch. This is how I did it…

Seeds for an ideaScreen Shot 2015-08-20 at 6.15.46 pm

In a book I read about 10 years ago, the 4 hour Working Week, Tim Ferriss describes two concepts that I haven’t been able to shake off. The first is having a self operational business. When you create technology that is available every hour of every day, having a project that is self sufficient is revolutionary. The other concept is testing your ideas quickly. In Tim’s case faking a t-shirt range and publishing it on ebay to see if there is a customer base.

Goal One : Create a business that runs itself

Which means I can undertake tasks that might be quicker for me to complete but would outsource all operational and ongoing work. I decided I would create a website that show cased my products but sends the orders to a partner that shipped the product. In addition I would have to find a manufacturer to produce my products and a designer to create the brand.

The spreadsheet

With all this in mind I got down to researching and creating a business plan. I had a concept, no name, no brand assets and a big spreadsheet. Continue reading “The Lean Kite Fighting Machines – Creating an online brand in 12 hour”

Design your own Book Cover in Microsoft Word

I am writing a book. It needs to be promoted or I need to find a publisher. It needs a press kit.

So can I without any credible designs skills and without spending money create a temporary book cover to help the project gather momentum ?

Template of Inspirations

The first thing I did was to look at Canva. This growing Australian company is great for producing a quick book cover based on pre made templates. Looking at everything they had I was inspired by a simple template with a single full page image.

As mine is a non-fiction business book I also found some great example templates but they looked a touch too American for my British tastes plus this is a business book for India. The key is to find an example template that matches the genre you are targeting but also attracts the specific audience you are targeting. In my case young people who probably never read business books.

Choose your Image

Canva have lots of great images provided by artists across the globe. I was worried that I would accidentally pick one that was already very popular I remembered that I had an image from my own collection of photography. I often use and publish images on Flickr under a creative commons licence which allows us all to share our work. Like a giant homework swap.

At this point I could have uploaded my image to Canva and created the template but I wasn’t sure if then everyone else could use my image. Probably unwarranted ego getting in the way. More lazily I had to find my credit card to pay the very reasonable one dollar download rate.

Use Word

So I turned to word. Following Derek Murphy suggestions I created a 6inch by 9inch page template. On my version of Word on Mac this was hidden away under;

File > Page Setup >

Page Sizes drop down select choose Custom Paper Size.

These were the values I ended up using.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 5.04.09 pm

Then I dropped in my image. By right clicking the image we can tell Word to make the image a background and have all the text sit on top. On Mac my copy of Word annoyingly kept moving the image around when I flicked between applications. To fix this I ended up cropping the image outside word to make it fit and stop jumping around.

Find a Font

Next I had to add some text which meant picking a font. Do not use anything you can find in word so Derek Murphy tells us. I really liked creativeindie’s epic list of fonts. However they didn’t actually have any suggestions for a business book.  Joel Friedlander suggests 5 fonts and I chose League Gothic.

The font had to be downloaded, installed and the machine rebooted.

Do a Screen Grab

To get an image I simply did a screen grab. The image was ready to publish on this blog.

Put It All Together

I wasn’t expecting this exercise to turn out as well as it in did. In two hours I had a cover for my book which I was happy to publish and get back to very hard job of writing the book. Obviously I first stopped for tea.kabi kushi

Update 12 Oct 2015 – Spellcheck

Ok. This was a super fast exercise and you can see comparing the image above to the final image on the Book page that the entire copy especially my totally incorrect Hindi title has been updated. However that is what is so wonderful about doing self publishing. The control to republish.

2nd Update 4th Nov 2015  – Amazon Cover

Today I decided to stop procrastinating and publish through Amazon for the Kindle. I found that they require the image to be JPEG or TIFF, a minimum of 1000 pixels on the longest side and various other things. Which means the image I had need to be converted and resized. After some trial and error I used Preview application that comes free with the Mac. By opening the screen grab image and resizing based on pixels and then saving as a Jpeg I was able to move forward. Having said that I am not terribly happy with final result so I shall experiment and will let you know via twitter how it goes.  If you get there before me then please let me know.

 

How to Attempt a Guinness World Record

On Saturday 13 June, The British Computing Society Women brought together 1093 people across 30 sites in the UK to attempt a Guinness World Record and promoted it as an Appathon. This is what I learnt;

Not getting your first choice can be good.

I signed up to the challenge late. Of course I did. So I ended up at The Crystal one of the world’s most sustainable buildings. Located in east London its somewhere I had never been before. They kindly threw open their doors to their cities exhibition which was fun.


Kids are programmingProgramming Class

With so many articles about skills shortage in the industry, to find myself in a room of kids and their parents who knew tons about programming, lifted my spirits.

I love programming

I had forgotten how much I loved this stuff. For the second time this year BCS had taught me a programming language and boy am I delighted. Continue reading “How to Attempt a Guinness World Record”

Ensuring that your Companies Glamorous Away Day in Goa Sucks

Ross and Russ
Fifty – Prague 2014

One of the most exciting things about working at Fifty is meeting up with our international diaspora once a quarter. Our most recent meet-up was in Prague, the next is in Barcelona. Reykjavik is the one after. Obviously we are choosing fun, not sucky cities. Its easy, as that is where our team have chosen to live. Ok not Reykjavik, that really is picked for fun.

Functional away days can be incredible, none more so than the ones I have experienced at London 2012. We have learnt to sing, dragon boat race and walked over the Millennium Dome looking like super heroes in blue jump suits. They stick in my memory more than the Games themselves. Sadly one had Boris Johnson banging on about being the murder capital of the world, so even the best organisation can get it wrong.

Yet, Boris was not as jaw dropping or sucky as the off-site that I attended in Goa.

Here is a summary of what I learnt on how to royally screw up.

Subdiffusion: “Tell nobody what is happening”

No one was formally told about this away day. Unless you count office gossip. The one formal email explaining the travel arrangements was sent the night before by the office manager. None of the leadership team explained the plan or issued an agenda. This was a great way to create a sucky start to the experience and let rumours fly. It was only when I saw people from the office at Nizamudean train station did I actually think I might make it to Goa.

Continue reading “Ensuring that your Companies Glamorous Away Day in Goa Sucks”

Networking to find a new Job

I came across an email where I gave this advice for a friend worried about networking. I thought it was good advice so here you go…

Firstly do a list of what you want your next job to include – just a few key bullets. Memories this for your conversations.

Next do an Influence map. Put yourself in the middle and then have bubbles for Work, Study, Friends, Family, Flat mates, Sports etc In those groups start determining the key contacts that you would want to mail your CV too.

Next where you can set up a coffee or a call with every one you identified above, have one key question to ask which is “I am looking for a job that has who should I speak to too to find this role ? ” They may have something but better still they may pass you on to a couple of people.

Follow up with a thank you to the person you met and if required a CV or a Linkedin link.

Keep in contact with these folks even when you are not looking for a job. Especially when you not looking as that is when the best things come up.

Hope this helps (its taken from a London 2012 training course)

My first EC2 Amazon Web Service

Being locked away on the Olympic Park I was wondering has the technology world moved on a pace leaving me in need of Usain’s ability?  At first everything looked the same. The services, the websites. Silicon roundabout. Then Ross stopped by for dinner and asked if we could spend the evening playing with the cloud.

Why not? I have bought a lot of cloud hosted solutions in the last few year and had a small army of people to look after them for me. However here was an opportunity to create my first “Hello World” html page on the cloud without having to interact with a single human. Not even Ross who was busy with his much more crazy Hadoop project bug. More of which when it is announced.

Continue reading “My first EC2 Amazon Web Service”

Make a Book – with a needle and thread

Don’t just write one. Make one. In the quest to make code sometimes it is good to diversify and do something non tech. Cook. Garden. Make books ?

After all books are the lifeblood of development. When I was small I needed magazines and books for copying little bits of assembler codes. Now google has the answers. Last year when I learnt Ruby I didn’t go near a book. It was some delight that the Arduino hack day this month had books littered around.

The book making class jcn and I attended was part of Selfridges Words Words Words campaign.  Continue reading “Make a Book – with a needle and thread”

Inspire coders, value coders and make coding accessible

The lovely Dr Sue Black has created a little facebook poll asking us about our first programming language. Mine was Basic. I must have been 12. My family were on the usual Saturday drudge around central Milton Keynes shopping centre. Instead of spending it in the library we wandered into a store selling computers and walkman‘s. My dad walked up to a computer and showed me how to program the following ;

10 Print "Hello World";
20 Goto 10;

Within a week I was locking up school computers with naughty hacks of the above. Within a year I was buying computer magazines and copying out assembler code on my Acorn Electron.

It wasn’t my first machine. That was a games console called Soundic. I was 4.  Continue reading “Inspire coders, value coders and make coding accessible”

Mountain Boarding – Lesson 4

Lesson four was rather amazing but my next session on the slopes went too fast and resulted in a crunched ankle.
We took lesson four at Haredown and just as my martial arts teaches me I decided to set some goals for our instructor Les. We had found that our first few lessons has been the same focusing on traversing the slopes with the toe and heel turns. I therefore wanted to know ;

  1. The Power Slide
  2. Rollers
  3. Haredown’s Blue Run

The Power Slide is the way one stops in Mountain Boarding we were shown it on our first few lessons. However we thought it was to stop by falling flat on your bottom. However learning to stand after the slide and even move to a switch stance is what we spent our time learning.

Next we focused on the Rollers. We were able to take them on slowly building up speed. Till I was able to do this;

The second hour of the class was focused on the top of the blue run at Haredown. Again building each roller up slowly. It was a real thrill to be able to do the run. It didn’t stick mind you and later when we were playing around on our own the conditions rather wet and warm I crashed like this;

Uploading Video on Cisco EOS

My notes for uploading video on Cisco EOS platform. If the video is more than 100Mb  then you’ll have to use FTP to upload (which requires FTP login gained from contacting Cisco).

  1. Login to the Eos admin system
  2. On the top of the screen hit the ‘Library’ tab
  3. On the left hand side choose ‘Web Uploader’
  4. Choose a Group and Folder (I have everything set up into Default Group and Default Folder – but what would happen if I were organised?)
  5. Upload Media (navigate hard drive)
  6. Now I don’t enter a description and title (because it isn’t shown to the public)
  7. Once the red bar completes hit submit
  8. It appears in your list ready to use
  9. Next the video needs to encode – in the deafult list choose to make available on the screen
  10. Once done it sends you an email

My First Steps with Ruby On Rails

It is time I become acquainted with the Ruby programming language. It served me well on a recent project and my friends at Indaba Music love it.

Installation on a Mac

I did try the following, but I think actually you can go straight to the tutorial and follow the steps there.

  1. Download the latest zip file
  2. Unpack into a directory and move into your directory
  3. Open a Terminal
  4. cd from your home directory into the new directory  (cd rubygems-1.3.X/)
  5. run: sudo ruby setup.rb

Warning

It appears that Ruby on Rails has changed a lot between versions. So starting the server was harder than the Internet said it would be (as script/server approach has become defunct). So I spent some time getting confused by online tutorials, such as Apple. Installing XCode from the Apple Developer Center however was useful.

Learning Rails

I have found much more joy by following the tutorial at http://guides.rubyonrails.org/getting_started.html and a basics tutorial. Oh and my good friend jcn helped explain some stuff too.

Creating a Basic Form

Next I wanted to create a basic HTML Form where the Controller catches and processes the results. I got most of what I needed from an online answer. However I needed to know that creating the controller is done at command line using

rails generate controller Searches

and then place in the following code.

class SearchesController < ActionController::Base

 

def search

lookup = params[:lookup]

@models = Model.find_by_lookup(lookup)

end

end

And place in the following code for the view.

<% form_tag searches_path do %>
<label for="lookup">Lookup</label>
<%= text_field_tag :lookup %>
<%= submit_tag "Submit" %>
<% end %>

But the stumbling block for me was linking the View to Controller by placing the following in the config/routes.rb file

resources :searches

Enterprise Architect for the Mac

I adore Enterprise Architect. I have used a vast array of tools for software and network modeling  but none make me as happy as opening up Enterprise Architect. Partly it is because I love UML. However I take a lot of ‘stick’ for this adoration. My friends often mock me suggesting I will one day draw diagrams for getting us all a drink in a brewery. I can’t help it. Once,  while working with a design agency on a paid pitch for the iPlayer interface, I was asked if the stick men could wear outfits.

I am now a Mac user and am porting across my copy of Enterprise Architect. First I have had to install Wine using WineBottler. A double installer. Jolly clever. I dragged the wine box into the folder and then the glass of wine. A nice boy on the YouTube said that I could have dragged both together.

Once done there should be a ‘Wine Box’ icon in the application folder and a glass of wine near the wireless bars. Download the Enterprise Architect exe file and execute it. Wine will kick in, ask a few questions and install it for you.

To run the application, so far I have just used the wine glass and opened up a “File Manager” traversed down to the application folder got cracking. Probably heaps nicer ways but I must get to work on my model before my client complains.

Adding a Title Card in Final Cut Pro

How to edit text in Final Cut Pro

Just working through how I can add Title Cards with quotes in Final Cut Pro. In other editing tools I would have made a card in some paint program and then dragged it into the project. In the end I followed Guide for Dummies. This was after  William Stopha showed me how to do this and then immediately forgot what he had said.

The hard part was managing the location where your text appears on-screen. This can be done by clicking the Origins cross icon in the Controls tab. Your mouse pointer becomes a red cross symbol, and you can then click anywhere in the Viewer window to reposition your text at that spot. However finding the right spot is a pain. The easiest way is to do it by numbers and count from the left corner.

Hang on, What is Mountain Boarding Exactly ?

I told my house guest I was going Mountain Boarding and she asked what it entailed. I had to admit, I had no idea.

I still had no idea when my friends picked me up and we started our drive out of London. I imagined it would be a like Sandboarding and therefore Snowboarding. However slight panic set in when I was told the boards had wheels. Skateboarding especially down steep slopes was something I had long ago discounted as sensible. I calmed myself. After all there isn’t a mountain anywhere in England.

The first thing that struck me was how lovely the setting for our adventure was going to be. Haredown is a working farm set in lush Sussex Downs. Very much off the beaten track. We paid, padded up, petted the new born cows and got onto the nursery area.

Language for this sport is the same as Snowboarding or Skiing. The boards are less like skateboards and more like the boards Dave Cornwaith used to cross Australia. Longer, flatter and really stable. Like snowboards, straps keep you in place and next time I hope to have snowboarding bindings. Also I will wear a pair of skaterboi trainers, heavy duty Vans maybe. Although one of my mates did really well in walking boots.

Our lesson taught us to set off, turn and finally a bizarre form of stopping which is more like falling face forward or bottom first and jumping back up as quickly as possible. Lots of emphasis was placed on the experiencing the feeling. Much like other  Zen hippie sports such as surfing. Despite this Steve did an awesome job teaching. As did his assistants, all seasoned competitors.  I was surprised how quickly all three of us girls, three times older the average age of the rest of the boys on the hill, got to grips with the techniques.

Very quickly we were traversing the greens runs. This was my favorite part, riding down the slope, wind in the hair, carving up a turn, the sensation of skiing came flooding back. Which isn’t a surprise as this is a sport invented independently on several continents by off season snow boarders. What is a surprise is that despite long ago discounting boarding as a sport for me and the lack of local mountains, I may yet become a fully fledged mountain boarding addict.

Free Press Release Sites

We have used a number of methods to increase traffic on our sites but for once we have decided to use a free press release service. These are the ones we used.

pitchengine.com
PRLog.org
PressMethod.com
Free-Press-Release.com

It didn’t have much of an impact but we did get noticed by our competitors who dropped us congratulations.

Mac, Drupal and XAMPP

Loving XAMPP . It’s a kin to having the messiah arrive in Trafalgar Sq without media coverage.

The team on whatsmysize.com suggested I use XAMPP when I asked for a replica dev environment on my shiny new Mac. As I used to have a 10 page installation guide for Digital Deli (a LAMP setup) I was somewhat reticent to embark on this adventure. Especially on a mac, which reminds me of the La Nausée opening chapter by Jean-Paul Sartre

Firstly check out  http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp-macosx.html . If you are also installing Drupal then ignore it’s flipant remark of getting the latest version. Instead get the one that has a php version in line with the Drupal you want.

So I used version o.7.1 which uses php 5.2.9 and drupal-6.15. As did the dev team at whatsmysize.com

As a slow newbie it took me a couple of hours to find the sexy self installing version in the complex folder structure on sourceforge. Scroll down to XAMPP for mac and download the dmg version.

references

Using Fantastico to update Drupal

I decided to use Fantastico to take my Druapl 6.07 to 6.10 this evening. After following the instructions in Fantastico I had a nasty scare when the Drupal website failed to come back up.

To fix it…

1.  I needed to save my theme again. Go to the Admin -> themes.  Choose to configue the theme you have previously used.

2. I then had to update any php scripts that I had changed including user-profile.tpl.php. The thing that got me scratching my head however was that Drupal needed to be told to override the default user profile layout and rebuild the theme registry, which can be done by clearing the caches (for example using the button on the admin/settings/performance page), or simply by visiting the admin/build/modules page