The four-minute-kilometre, or two minute 500m as it's generally measured in rowing, has been a bit of a magic number with my erging.
It didn't take long to beat over a 2000m distance, I managed that the third time I rowed 2km, and since then I'm rather disappointed if I don't get below 8 minutes. It was harder to pass over longer distances though, and I've only managed it once on a 6km erg - near the end of five months of averaging over 2200m per day to hit my "half-a-million metres rowed in total" target.
I don't do 6km workouts any more, they were mainly to give me an easier shot at hitting the half-million metres. 2km and 5km seem to be the favoured workouts as far as the rankings go on the Concept 2 website, and fit nicely with giving me a choice of short or long session.
Having beaten the two-minute split time over 6km, I was obviously capable of doing the same over 5km; however, as I hadn't had a period of regular erging since that last challenge, my rowing fitness had dropped and I developed a bit of a mental block about rowing 5km at all.
That was supposed to change with this winter's challenge to replace my Thursday evening exercise "slot" with an erg whilst it's too dark to play football. I managed a few in October, but with the added complication of not working at home that slipped to 2km ergs, and not enough to make the 5km/week target.
So now I'm back working at home, there's been a renewed effort to get my rowing back on track. Given that I'm no longer cycling eight miles a day to work and back, I've started a "2km erg commute" in the mornings as I can do it first thing, before having my morning shower, so it only takes around ten minutes out of my day. I've also forced myself back into the 5km ergs - not caring about the times, the important thing was to make the distance.
Which was why it came as a bit of a surprise when last week I found myself hovering around the 2minutes/500m average for the first 1km of a 5km. It was quite possible that I'd just got my pacing all wrong, and I'd just "blow up" (rowing equivalent of the runner's "hitting the wall") before finishing, I decided to see if I could get below that average for the full distance.
I think the knowledge that I'd rowed at that kind of pace in the past helped me believe it was possible, but I was still amazed to find I'd averaged 1m59.2s/500m, which brought me in a whole eight seconds below twenty minutes. That put me 605th of 1062 in the Concept 2 rankings, so still well below average but in the top 60&percent;
I knew I wouldn't run another sub-twenty minute 5km straight off, so didn't even try for it and somehow only ended up six tenths of a second over! I suppose setting a new personal best ratchets up what I expect to achieve even on a "coasting" workout. Today I didn't start off pushing for my second sub-twenty minute 5km, but with only 2km left it looked achievable so I raised my pace a notch and came home over six seconds under. Give it another few workouts and I'll start expecting to come in below twenty minutes every time.
That was a long-winded way of saying "Woo! I rowed 5000m in less than twenty minutes" wasn't it?
The Fray - band without a recording contract, band without a website (still! it's getting to be "no joke"...), band I tipped you off to a while back, have just won the TFM (Teeside radio station) unsigned band competition. Maybe with their prize of professional recording they'll get round to putting up some sort of online presence...
If you can read this, then you're getting McFilter from its new home on 34sp.com. I finally decided it was time I got some proper hosting, rather than having www.mcqn.net live on the machine sat in the cupboard under my stairs.
I think the whole site has been migrated properly, but if anyone finds any broken links, or has problems getting to the site over the next couple of days, please drop me an email.
I doubt many of you use the Windows Offline Files feature, so this is unlikely to be of any interest. I'll probably need the info again in the future though, so I'm recording it here.
To make it easier to access all my data from the assortment of machines scattered round the house I store as much as possible on the central server, including my "My Documents" folder. So that I still have access to the important stuff when my laptop isn't in the house I use the "Offline files" feature in Windows. It pretty much works.
Recently though, my laptop has been repeatedly complaining that it was running low on disk space - each time it did, I'd scavenge half a gig or so. I didn't think I'd been adding new things at the rate it was filling up, so yesterday I spent a bit more time investigating what was consuming all the space.
I discovered that around 13GB of my 30GB hard-drive was taken up by the Windows\CSC folder. Some investigation showed that that's where Windows caches the offline files. That's a little bit more than the "use 10% of my hard-drive" setting says the offline files will use!
Deleting all the offline files didn't help matters. Nor did turning the offline files feature off. In the end I had to follow these instructions to reinitialize the offline files cache and then set-up my offline files again.
Lo and behold, I now have over eleven gig free on my laptop hard-drive again.
When Tom Reynolds was last on the radio talking about workplace blogging I created a link to let him direct people directly to the interview, rather than having to tell people how far into the radio show it was.
Although it's relatively easy to do, it requires a bit of geek hacking so I spent some time looking into how easy it would be to knock up a little web service to make it more user-friendly. And added it to my list of projects to do sometime.
Of course, before I get chance to build the web app, Tom gets himself another radio appearance, this time on BBC Five Live.
So, hand-coded again (partly so I could listen to it easily myself), for the next week here's the link to Tom's interview on Five Live.
In a not at all recent email, Richard MacManus wrote:
"how's your business going? I keep waiting for you to write something about it on your blog (hint hint)"
Good point. Well made. I should blog more often about what's happening with the business, and my first product. So, as promised over a week ago (good to see my predictions are as reliable as ever...) here's an update.
It doesn't feel like much has happened, but I think that's because to me, it only feels like things happen when progress is made towards finishing PeerBackup. And there wasn't much of that over the last couple of months of 2004. Instead, there was a very useful injection of cash into the business from my fifteen weeks of contract work. The initial twelve week contract which took me through to Christmas was extended by a few weeks to the end of January.
That's eased the cashflow considerably, and I now expect to get PeerBackup finished and launched without needing any further injections of cash. One fewer thing to worry about, although there'll no doubt be a host of other things to worry about in its place :-)
It's taken a little bit of time to get back into the swing of working from home again; the first two weeks of February I had long weekends booked which meant the weeks were short and also meant I had additional things to sort out before the weekends. Still, progress is being made, pretty much according to plan and the end is in sight.
The plan for the next month or two remains head-down coding, but as time progresses I'll have to work out how I'm going to come up with a plan to market and sell it...
I'm a bit disappointed to have to do so, but I've removed the ability to leave trackbacks on McFilter.
Not that anyone much will notice, given that I've only ever had two or three trackbacks, but it will stop me having to delete the forty or so trackback spams I get each day.
Where to begin? It was such an excellent and jam-packed three-day weekend that it's taken me all week to get the photos up and write up the event. The photos are all available over here.
Like the groom, and quite a few of the other wedding guests, I stayed at the hotel hosting the reception on both Friday and Saturday nights. This meant that my ushering duties could start early with me helping to ferry items to be set-up at the reception and pick up the suits for the groom and his attendants. There was a minor panic when I didn't find a shirt with my suit, but one of my fellow ushers, Johnnie, had bought a rather fine new shirt for the groom so we had one spare. Of course, when I was hanging my suit up at the end of the Saturday what did I find hiding in the bottom of the suit carrier but a brand new shirt still in its packaging...
The Saturday morning dawned clear and dry, if a little gusty. At least the continual rain of the previous night had abated. After a hearty breakfast (for those of us not nervous of giving speeches later ;-) the best man's and my cars were both bedecked with ribbon and we headed over to the church.
Dan, the third usher, had done an excellent job of finding out what we had to do at the rehearsal so when we arrived at the church we had our strategy set: who would affix buttonholes, who would hand out the orders of service and who would show guests to their seats. Of course, as soon as the guests started arriving all our plans went to pot, but we soon recovered our composure and got everyone seated before the bride arrived.
It's a cliché I know, but Sam and her bridesmaids looked stunning. The service went without a hitch (well, apart from the obvious one... pun not intended, but I'll leave it in); the readings were lovely and during the signing of the register we were treated to a wonderful violin and piano duet. I was curious to see how Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "The Power of Love" would sound with just the two instruments; and the answer is it sounds rather good.
During the Address, the reverend discussed St. Paul's letters to the Corinthians. Luckily I managed to keep a straight face, as when he started all I could think of was Eddie Izzard's sketch on the same topic... "Don't do bad things, only do good things. Always treat your neighbour like someone who lives near to you. Never put a sock in a toaster..."
After a few photographs in the church grounds, and once we'd seen everyone safely on their way to the reception, we *ahem* chased the bridal convoy to the hotel. It's quite hard to sneak past in a bright yellow Integrale covered in ribbon, so we gave the bride and groom a wave as we overtook to ensure we were ready for their arrival.
Even though there was a freely available chocolate fountain at the reception, the guests were all well behaved and we didn't need our (impeccably colour-coordinated of course) riot gear, which freed us up to assist with the various groups together for the remaining photographs. And gave me opportunity to demonstrate how useless I am at shouting.
From then on the ushering role was greatly, although not entirely, reduced. We got to enjoy the meal and the speeches - the best man had enlarged a number of photos to suitably embarrass Ian. I forgot to take a picture of the one featuring me on my bike but the one of Ian streaking across the Coliseum is in the set.
As is to be expected, the celebrations continued well into the night. Much drinking, conversing and dancing was had by all; the bride's father's tireless dancing, even to the hip-hop tracks; Paul's (the best man) flamboyant and energetic style; and his girlfriend Natasha's Beyonce-style rump-shaking all deserving of a mention. I'd also taken a few of my finest Cohiba cigars so we ushers could celebrate the marriage properly.
Sunday morning saw us cram more and more of the dining furniture together in one corner of the restaurant with the ebb and flow of guests arriving for breakfast. We used the remainder of the buttonholes and ribbon to decorate Ian's car after he foolishly entrusted us with the keys so we could help with the luggage, and with our final act of ushering we escorted the honeymooners to a brief stop at Sam's parents' place.
There we went our separate ways, Ian and Sam heading west whilst I turned south giving Johnnie and his fiance a lift back to Cambridge. And to round the weekend off beautifully, we were treated to a musical send-off of "So long, farewell" (from the Sound of Music, as if you needed telling).
Just recently, I've started using iTunes to listen to music, mainly so that I can try out audioscrobbler. iTunes seems okay as a music player, although it chews up a lot of processor when it's running.
Audioscrobbler keeps track of what you've been listening to, in order to match you to people with similar tastes and generate recommendations of other music you might like. It also builds a personalised "radio station" for each user, so you can browse round and listen to new music.
I'm not sure I'm going to use the personalised radio station stuff, but if nothing else my weekly listening charts are of interest. So if you go to my user page you can see what I've been listening to.
When I signed up for del.icio.us part of my reasoning was that there were often things I'd found which weren't quite worthy of their own blog post, but were things that were interesting, and which I'd like to keep for future reference. Plus I figured it would at least mean that somthing was posted to the blog whilst I've been busy.
No sooner had I started collecting links than I started to get "but my blog will just be full of links" paranoia. So I started bundling links together so that there weren't as many full posts with the odd link in, or just holding off putting links into del.icio.us until I'd written some content. So much for it helping ease my content famine.
Over the past few months, I seem to have embarked (not deliberately) on a mission to only write longer, more "important" posts; I think, because of a desire to provide better content for my readers. Rather stupid, given that I'm always surprised that I actually have any readers, and also rather self-defeating as the combination of increased demands on my time and longer posts has meant the frequency has dropped somewhat.
There may be other reasons that I could theorise on for far too long (and have in my head whilst taking ages to write this) but I'll just get to the point: I hereby solemnly swear that I shall endeavour to be less serious and worthy. And hopefully that'll mean I can post more often, and shorter things as well as long things.
Coming soon, although possibly after the weekend as I've got some CDs to burn before Ian and Sam's wedding on Saturday, an update how the business is going.
Recently, I had an email conversation with Carl which went as follows...
Carl: Hi, strange question, but have you got a tuxedo?
Me: Pretty much, although my trousers don't have that stripe down the side.
Carl: That would do fine, I'd imagine... So the question is, are you free at all on the weekend of 29th/30th Jan, and would you like to play 007's legs?
Me: I'd be up for that. Sounds like fun.
Which is how I ended up spending a rather tiring, but enjoyable weekend on the set for Carl's short film project "Office Devils."
My character wasn't needed for filming until Sunday afternoon, so I got to help out as a member of the crew the rest of the time: positioning lights; holding reflectors and diffusers; and even had a brief stint with the sound boom. I missed out on doing the clapper though, disappointingly.
It was an interesting insight into the amount of work that goes into making even a film as short as this one (I guess it'll be about ten minutes long) - there's lots of repetition as everything has to be shot from all sorts of different angles. Even though I spent two days seeing it done over and over again, I think the finished article will look quite different, and I'm looking forward to getting to see it.
When I know some more about what's happening with it, I'll give an update so you can all watch for the coverage of the premiere on the news...