plaza de la Catedral, habana Cuba
plaza de la Catedral, habana Cuba
  • Photos from Tignes
    • 18/04/2015
A quick nod to a fun week snowboarding in the Alps.

Sunshine and valley mist (shown)

Blizzards and scrabble (not shown)

fresh tracksshenanigansthe mist...fork in the roadtop of the world
  • Every End Is A New Beginning
    • 16/04/2013
The boring bits first

So in only 10 days i'll be setting off on the waste of a day and a half of my life which will be the bus journey home from the Alps. But in the meantime:

Spring has finally sprung, snow is turning to slush, and avalanches are going off everywhere, both naturally and due to controlled explosions. Marmots are appearing out of their newly uncovered burrows. There is still loads of snow on the piste, but after about 11am it is so slushy that you are forced up to the higher altitude sanctuary of the glacier. It's our last week of guests - Only 8 were booked into our chalet, but we've ended up with a full house of 24 since head office decided to close 3 other chalets which were also under occupancy. Needless to say, the guests who have been forced to move are not impressed. We've all run out of will to care though, as the previous week of really nice guests seemed like a fitting end to the season already.

The previous month of overcast skies has given me time to consider my options for the near future, and the more i research it, the more excited i am by the idea of walking Lands End to John O'Groats. Probably from June - October.
This will hopefully ease my guilty conscience from last years travels abroad, when people in faraway lands would ask "what's britain like then?", and i'd say, well, i haven't really seen enough of it to sum it up. And i don't expect that it will ever be the case that i can say i know it all, but a better idea would be nice. We always mock americans for not having passports but in reality most people never explore their own surroundings, and jetting off for a week on a spanish beach is hardly intrepid foreign adventure.

Obviously i'm already looking back on my coast to coast walk with rose tinted glasses - well, i did enjoy 90% of the scenery, but there was a lot of foot pain, back pain etc. I would intend to break myself in gently, and take more time to stop and smell the roses on this outing, rather than rushing through on a strict timetable. I want to wild camp and be self sufficient as far as possible, as far as modern society allows.
I just finished reading a book from 1948 by a guy called Theo Lang about his own pilgrimage up our island, it was a compelling read filled with observations on the changing face of the country post war, and the warm encounters he had with locals in each part of the country. I worry that the cynical, commercialised modern world will have vanquished that element of the journey, but the hills should be broadly unchanged.

One quote at the start of a chapter stood out for me, (the start of a chapter named "the bus can always wait", in which wonderfully a bus on the isle of skye delays a ferry, and subsequently a train to glasgow, because the driver insists on waiting for two french girls to eat a proper breakfast before setting off) -

"Have the past struggles succeeded?
What has succeeded? Yourself? Your nation? Nature?
Now understand me well - It is provided in the essence of things, that from any fruition of success, no matter what, shall come forth something to make a greater struggle necessary."
  • X-GAMES!
    • 25/03/2013
typical mental snowboarding:



some proper footage:

http://onboard.mpora.com/events/x-games-tignes-slopestyle-finals-medal-winning-runs.html
  • Mountain weather etc
    • 25/03/2013
Got peeling sunburn from last week -
Finally a big dump of snow, so was out on the powder off piste, lovely. Now its back to cloud and bad light. Too many days like this.
Also last week Tignes hosted the X-Games, so spent some sunny lunchtimes sat on the mountain drinking and watching crazy people doing triple corks and the like. Will upload a video shortly.

Read this article on bbc website the other day, starts off being about a 19th century chess playing robot and ends up m postulating on modern day pressure to achieve and succeed. If money was no object, what would you do?
  • Ipod breaking / fixing
    • 22/02/2013
well preparedmessy operationwhoopsthe new insidesnew and empty

So a few weeks ago my ipod classic fell on the floor (not for the first time), and from then on started making nasty noises and crashing.

Great, second time in a year. When it happened in the summer i went to the Apple store in Boston, and they gave me a replacement for $50, which seemed fairly reasonable given that they charge like $200 to repair anything. Which is more than a new one costs.

So pretty fed up with this build quality, but there's not really anything else on the market with the same capacity (100gB+). So i thought, well, how much does a new hard drive cost? And did some research.

Turns out lots of people have upgraded their old ipods with much larger hard drives, you can get a 240GB one from ebay at a reasonable cost.

But that could break again just as easily. So some people have been sticking solid state disks (SSD's) in instead.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/566780/official-ipod-video-classic-5g-5-5g-6g-6-5g-7g-ssd-mod-thread/930



Immune to drop damage, faster access and more efficient battery consumption.

Sounds good! But further reading shows that no-one has yet got one working in a 7th generation ipod classic (my model), only in older ones. So one option is to buy a broken old ipod from ebay for about 15GBP and put an SSD in it.

Then i discovered the existence of an adapter (http://www.tarkan.info/20121226/tutorials/ipod-and-sdhc-sdxc-cards)

that would allow you to use a compact flash memory card in place of the hard drive. Very interesting - especially since you can get a compact flash to SD memory card adapter, and then use an SD card in it instead (cheaper, higher capacity)

someone else's DIY guide

So that's what i've done. 128GB SD card from amazon for 73GBP. In the future, when there are robots living among us, SD cards will be even bigger and cheaper. So yay.

Here are some photos of the mod.

The hardest part is definitely opening the case.

http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Installing+iPod+Classic+Hard+Drive/564/1 Apple designs stuff to be user tamper-proof in this regard.

The special "ipod opening tools" that i bought turned out to be useless, as they were plastic and snapped easily. However a tiny flat blade screwdriver, a metal "pudger" or thin palette knife, and a guitar pick were all useful in splitting the thing open.

Success! However in the process it transpired i had dislodged a small chip from the headphone jack board. Tarnation! But just on the offchance... oh it still works! Hmm, what was that chip for???



Finally the moment of truth, booting it up, itunes recognised it and set it up. Great!



Now part 2: Rockbox.

Rockbox is a free alternative firmware to that supplied with your mp3 player.

I already installed it on my Sansa Clip and it gives loads more functionality (including especially managing playlist on the device) and significantly improved battery management.

Plus final release from dependance on itunes, which i hate.

I already use the program Floola to manage and load music on my ipod as an alternative.



So Rockbox! Is not officially supported on the ipod classic. But as usual, some enthusiasts have found a workaround, via a custom bootloader called emCore.

I ploughed ahead with the step by step guide. "warning, this is not dual boot, will replace official stock firmware, yadda yadda" ok whatevs.

Oh, it doesn't work

PANIC! "ATA: Error 800000000 while reading BBT (sector 0, count 1)".

A lot more googling reveals that two other people have previously modded their ipods with SD cards and encountered the same error with Rockboxing. Gutted!

Back to itunes to restore official, boring software. (mini panic when itunes refuses to do it - turns out the firewall was preventing it from connecting to the apple server to download the restore tool)



End. The piste is really hard and icy this week so waiting for some new snow. fingers crossed!


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