Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Three Peaks Challenge - Ben Nevis (The Ben)

We started at about 3pm on Saturday afternoon. One of my work colleges
had done the challenge before. He said that Ben Nevis was the longest
one of the three peaks, but it was easier than Scafell Pike. I was in confident mood as we started.

confidence was completely misplaced. As soon as we started I knew it
was going to be tough. The first section on Ben Nevis is fairly steep
and everybody else in the group was powering ahead, I was struggling
straight away. I was using a completely different set of muscles then I
ever did playing football or even normal running. On top of that it was
quite hot and I had a big back pack with me. I had been ultra cautious and packed the back pack with lots of extra stuff.

about half an hour of trying to catch up to the other, we decided that
we should all carry on at our own pace and then meet at the top. That
was fine by me because I was struggling to keep up. I carried on at my
own pace.

One of the things that I wasn't prepared for at all was the terrain. It was so varied. Some of it was big boulders that you had to climb over, some of it was bricks and some of it was like pebbles. The big boulders were really draining because you had to lift your leg up that extra bit for every step.

were lots of people coming back down as I climbed, they were all saying
that I was nearly there and there wasn't long to go. Some guys coming
down stopped where I was resting and we started talking about Monty Panaser
and how he was going to bowl out all the Aussies in the Ashes. It was a
really friendly atmosphere and everybody was trying to encourage one

I really couldn't wait until I was coming down.

I reached the top. the rest of the group was waiting and taking
pictures of the view. They said that I was only about 10 -15 minutes
behind them. I was quite happy with that because all the way up I had
been thinking I was miles behind everyone else.

I had my photo
taken on the highest point in the U.K., had something to eat and
quickly prepared for the journey back. We split into two groups with
two fastest ones of the group going ahead and the rest of us in another

Walking downhill felt completely different to walking up
hill. At first it felt really good because I was no longer using the
climbing muscles but the more we walked the more it felt like my knees
were going to explode. For some reason it felt better when we started
to jog down than when we were walking. I think it was because when you
walk you are constantly trying to stop yourself from running down, this
causes a greater impact on your knees whereas if you run / jog you can
go with the flow more and this reduces the impact on your knees.

We finally reached the bridge where we had started ( the other two and the driver were waiting for us ) the three
of us took our boots off and soaked our feet in the river under the
bridge. It felt good. We finally managed to get out of the river and
struggled into the people carrier to set off for Scarfell Pike...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

My Media Centre Setup

I got a digital camera a few years ago. The family has taken loads of photos with it and I have been downloading photos and saving the photos on my computer. I have also been making DVD backups of the photos all the time.

The problem I have found is that digital photos are difficult to share with family. I know what you are saying. What about emailing your pics or uploading pics to a site like Flickr. That is all well and good but if you live in the same house as your family or you live in the same street and most of your family doesn't have broadband then I don't think it is practical. I wanted to share my photos and music so people who came over could see the photos and listen to my music down stairs.

I was also concious of the fact that I didn't have any backups of my music and video.

Keeping all this in mind I decided to create a media centre in the living room.

(I also had a spare computer lying about which help the decision to set up a media centre ;-)

I decided to try out Linux as the operating system because I wanted to try it out and I heard Myth TV was a very good media centre application. I used Ubuntu 6.06 as the Linux distribution.

One of the main requirement of the media centre was that it need to be downstairs so I had to use a wireless network card in the media centre pc.

I had a spare D-Link DWL-G650+ wireless card (ACX111 chipset) which I wanted to use. I setup the PC on a wired network just to install Ubuntu and get all the updates. Then I tried to configure the wireless card.

Ubuntu didn't detect it by default so I looked for information about how to get the wireless card installed. I found out the Ubuntu 6.06 had the wrong version of the drivers so didn't detect the card properly. I found the open source ACX 111 driver on sourceforge and tried them out, they didn't work. I tried ndisWrapper with the windows drivers from the D-Link CD that I got with the drivers, they didn't work.

I had been trying to sort the media centre for about two weeks on and off so I was getting abit peeved off with the situation. I read somewhere that Ubuntu 5 (breazy) had the correct version of the drivers that I required. So I decided to scrap my Ubuntu 6.06 installation and install Ubuntu 5 instead. I put the media centre close to the wireless router and began the installation. I was glad to see that Ubuntu detected the wireless card while installing, it asked for the ssid and the wep key.

It looked like I was finally ready to continue with the project.

Unfortunately the wireless signal where the Media Centre was to be kept, was non existent. (Even though a Windows machine works ok in the same area). This is probably because the D Link product uses a proprietary driver that the Generic Linux driver doesn't fully replicate. This mean that the whole project was stalled.

Finally with a heavy heart I had to turn to my Windows XP CD and install it on the Media Centre.

I don't blame Linux for not supporting my wireless card. The simple fact is that D Link is a company that openly uses open source code in it's products but it doesn't give anything back to the community by opening up it's driver specification so that the Linux community can make drivers for D Links products.

It's all about the money!!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Three Peaks of Great Britain Challenge

Last weekend my work collegues and I did the three peaks callenge. The callenge is to climb the three peaks of Great Britain in 24 hours or less. The three peaks of Great Britain are Ben Nevis (Scotland), Scafell Pike (England) and Snowden (Wales).

It was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done. I thought I would be fine doing the callenge without specific training because I am quite fit and play football a couple of times a week. I WAS WRONG. If you try to do the callenge please do some specific training before attempting it.

I completed the challenge in 22 hours 57 minutes. I am glad I did it but I won't attempt it again in a hurry.