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Monday, 21 December 2009

Open Link in New Window

Because every time I add a link to a blog post of forget the code to open it in a new window.

So here it is

Create the link using the blog button, switch to HTML view and add target="_blank"

eg

<a href="http://www.website.com/" target="_blank">Text Link in Post</a>

Shoulder Update II

Been back training since the Summer, started off slowly with a full body workout 3 times a week, light weights, 10-12 reps. Slowly built the weight up and started to notice some pain from the top of the right shoulder. Very specific point on the AC Joint when doing pushing movements. So Bench press, gets worse on the decline and dips are out of the question - anything that really compresses the ACJ. Interestingly over head pressing is fine.

There was an in surgery decision made by the consultant to clean up the right ACJ, although it was causing no problems and hadn't even registered on the MRI.

Been visiting the Physiotherapist at the gym, same guy that worked on post surgery rehab. http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/profile.php?ref=sgm&id=513253527

The diagnosis is scar tissue which needs working out. And man working it out is painful. But its working.

Also been in touch with my consultant, Simon Moyes, who said the shoulders can continue improving for up to 2 years and some pain is to be expected.

So persevere and carry on ...

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Checking Boxster Drainage Holes

There are two drainage holes in the space where the roof retracts to. When up the water from the roof will run down into this area, and in theory down the holes and out the bottom of the car. If these holes get blocked up the water backs up and enters the cabin. The first place it heads is under the seats where the cars brains are. So its a good idea to check these and the two holes in the front by the battery.

Open the roof into 'service' mode. Which means just open it 30cm which causes the rear cover to open. The holes are in each corner, check they are clear and pour some water down to confirm.

There are also two holes for the front, each side of the battery. Looking at the car the left hand hole is pretty easy to spot and there's what looks like a mirror on the right, its not, that's some kind of grommet.  The actual hole is about another 5-6 cm to the right.

Installing Anti Bot Question Mod to PhpBB Forum

Each and everytime I do this it takes me at least an hour .. unlike the instructions which say 5-10 mins. Mostly because I forget all the lessons previously learned so here are my notes for next time.


Open the xml instructions and read carefully !! note that some lines are inserted after and some before.

In the 1.2.0 Mod instructions the following are wrong ..

'S_CONFIRM_CODE' which you are asked to search for has been replaced with 'S_CONFIRM_REFRESH'

Edit the text against language/en/common.php to reflect where the question text appears. This will vary depending on the theme being used.

'AB_QUESTION_EXPLAIN' => 'For protection against spam, Answer the above question.',

Finally don't use CoreFTP to edit the files. It must add some hidden characters and screws the files up. Download BlueFish or Notepad++ and edit the files locally.  When you upload dont forget to check permissions - 644.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Treating Boxtster Roof

As the winter approaches and theres a chance, a slim one, but a chance the car might get caught in the rain I thought I'd treat the roof with some waterproofing. The roof sucked up water, I don't know if it leaked as its not been in the rain since we bought it but better safe than sorry. I guess it all helps.

I pretty much got the instructions from www.boxta.net and then did some follow up reading in the TVR and Lotus forums.

Theres a couple of options which all start with a good clean and then apply a product, spray, bottles, tins .. theres a few to choose from. I went with Fabisil liquid. All the other treatments required you (for a good job) to mask off the windows etc. I wasn't comfortable doing this, worried about sticky glue left around and using a liquid meant you could apply with a paintbrush which I was more confident with.


  1. Give the roof a really good clean. I heavily diluted some baby shampoo in a bucket and used a stiff brush in circles to work the shampoo in.
  2. Soak the roof with water and using the same brush scrub until you get no more soap suds.
  3. Sit back and wait for the roof to dry.
  4. Grab a clean 2" brush and poor some of the Fabisil in a clean container. This was the part the heart starts. Its an expensive car and worried this could wreck the roof. I started my first coat front to back. Keep a cloth handy to mop up any spills on the paintwork or windows. It goes on really easy, keep overlapping the previous part so you keep a 'wet edge' and you should get good coverage.
  5. Sit back and wait for the roof to dry. The tin says 6 hours, but mine was dry enough, outside on a sunny autumn day about 12 degrees, in a couple of hours.
  6. I applied a second coat, which is optional, some apply up to 4. My second coat was side to side. Others then go on the diagonal both ways for coats 3 & 4.

 



Sunday, 1 November 2009

Suunto Vyper Battery Replacement

Tools : Small flat head screwdriver, tweezers or small cross head screwdriver
Parts : Battery replacement kit

Simply ScubaMikes #1 Dive Shop eBay

  • REMOVE THE STRAPS !! all the other documentation I found neglected to mention this when they simply state - Remove the computer from the boot.
Use the small flat head screw driver and remove the straps like any other watch. The straps are held in place by a bar with a spring on each end. Use the screw driver to push the spring in and the strap will come out. Now spend 10 mins trying to find the bar as it pinged off.


  • There are two holes holding the batter cover in place. I had a handy pair of tweezers or a small cross head will do. Rotate the cover clockwise and it will lift out.



  • Use the flat head or tweezers to ease the cover off. This should be tight as its where the o-ring is. If you plan to re-use the o-ring (not recommended) then be very carful not to ruin it.


  • Lift of the black retaining bar and switch the battery. Don't touch the front or back. Again, tweezers useful, don't forget to put the black bar back on.



  • I used the replacement o-ring and applied some silicon grease. Same stuff used to lubricate camera o-rings.


  • Now this part was tricky. I don't know if the o-ring was slightly bigger or just a better fit but it needed a fair amount of force to push it down and hold it there while also trying to get the cover back on. You'll work it out.


  • Complete


I dropped it into a bucket of water, not a great test but better than nothing. No dive trips planned for a while so I wont find out if its 100% OK either.

Some useful links ..

Battery replacement video
Manual

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Going home ..

Breakfast- shit. I guess you get what you pay for and we've been paying allot.
Drove into town which just added to my already growing stress levels. Hung around for a bit and had some lunch while watching guys trying to hustle people. Interestingly they where hassling more Africans than tourists.

Dropped the car off at the airport and they didn’t spot the crack and signed all the forms. Result. They commented on the state of the thing. Bearing in mind we had it valet'd it could have been 300% worse.

Gave a pair of shoes to the guy just hanging out. He had a Manchester United hat on so couldn’t have him wandering around bare foot.

Enquired about a seat upgrade. N$300 per person! So much for last minute deals at the airport but at least by bag has gone down by 5kg's and they didn’t charge extra. So 10 hours of shit leg room and then an onward flight to the UK and a pain in the arse journey on Boris's tube network.

I hate going home.

Namibia

Stunning scenery, stayed in some fantastic places, met some really nice people and pretty much managed to see every animal we could have wanted to be setting off. Sure we did the luxury route and I very have conflicting feelings about that. Including not being able to deal with the poverty and the 'Africa' part you encounter when coming here. eg. I wanted to give those shoes away for a week but couldn’t. I saw kids walking bare foot but still I didn’t want to insult them by offering them my seconds. I think that’s bullshit. There’s such a range of poverty here that even the people that have jobs and appear OK really struggle.
I know where all my old clothes and stuff are going now.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Erongo Wilderness Lodge to Terra Africa BnB, Windhoek

Last day, current managers Mike (former owner) and Carol where excellent hosts and we really regretting not booking three days as our last place top on the Namibian road trip.

Slow journey to Windhoek - ROAD WORKS !! .. BnB Terra Africa. Cheap and cheerful. This was a last minute booking when Air Namibia cancelled the UK flight. Got a large room, TV and WI-FI, back to 21st century reality.

Ate at NICE - Namibian Institute of Culinary Excellence. It’s a Jamie Oliver ‘15’ type place run by the same people as Walverdans. Food was OK, if anything they are trying a little too hard with the presentation. I sound like a food ponce.

They were selling the sepia photos of the chefs at Walverdans. Wasn’t sure on which size to buy so will see if they can be bought on the internet.

Unfortunately for Max there was a price guide for staying at Walverdans in the back of the menu.

I can already feel my return to home/work stress levels rising.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Up early for a guided walk up to the highest peak. About 2 hours. Spectacular views and excellent guides.

Spotted some, what we thought where black stoats up at the room and around the dining room. Later found out these where Black Mongoose, extremely rare and only just discovered. Don’t I regret idling over to get the camera and missing the shot.

More relaxing, this place is so peaceful.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Ongama Tented Camp to Erongo Wilderness Lodge

All tarmac roads. We spotted two speed traps which I think maybe one of them got us. We'll see. At least they don’t hide in the trees like South Africa.

Had lunch on route at Omaruru at a funny old museum/curios/cafe place. There’s lots of hunting lodges in this part of the country. Shame on them.

Erongo is set up in the rocks, similar to Mawani. Same basic design as the places we've stayed, based around a tent with add-ons. We've somehow ended up in the honeymoon suite with the best views and a private outside plunge pool al-be-it the longest , but it’s worth it.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Late breakfast and sat reading in the lounge overlooking the water hole. Lovely and peaceful. Booked the PM drive, after confirming room 4 - Bride and co where not on it. Interestingly the manager didn’t seem too shocked by this stipulation.

In hindsight we think our ‘encounter’; I say attack, by the Elephant yesterday was because we got too close. Maybe that’s why one of the other guys at the water hole was such a moody prick when we bumped into him at one of the rest stops. Excitement got the better of us. So sorry Elephant, and moody prick - shame, I would have liked the photo you probably took with us looking completely shit scared.

Went on an afternoon drive around the reserve which was only Max and I which was a really nice end to our animal viewing part of the trip. We actually saw sweet f.a large game. Some birds, one species which impale their food before feasting on it. The butcher bird - nice. And a family of Ringed Mongoose which had taken over an old termites nest and happily posed for pictures. Nice drive though.

Termites - Queen, King, Workers and Soldiers. Each year around December, the Queen produces millions of Kings and Queens which then leave the nest to build others. Feeding frenzy, birds, animals, humans - all make the most of this event. Workers feed the other termites by feeding from the fungus garden they build in the bottom of the nest and then 'poo' into the mouth of the other termites. Termites produce zero waste.

Hammer head bird - superstition surrounds this bird. If it flies directly over you then apparently a member of your family has died. They build massive nests containing anything they can find, which last up to 70 years. If you break a nest you will catch a mental disease.

Weaver birds, not the social ones, will nearly always build their nests on the west side of a tree. Namibia's prevailing weather comes from the east so this protects the rather hap hazard nests.

Dinner was better but the fish was still causing rumblings.

so all in all the camps not managed to jump ahead of the other two in my rating though. The tent is by far the best and the water hole is great. But taking into account privacy and ambience I think it comes a very close 3rd, just behind Mawani, Walverdans is #1.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Halali to Onguma Tented Camp

Got up early again to go out for dawn. Made it this time but didn’t see anything of any note.

Checked out and drove to the East of the park heading for Ongama Tented Camp. Nothing much to see on the drive as we started to think our game spotting luck had run out on the first day. We took a scenic route via the salt pan.

In the distance, is that an Elephant! .. Fuck yes. Foot down, bumping through puddles (it rained again last night) following the road around the pan, taking us in the wrong direction, shit, more panic, more foot. There’s the water hole, oh shit that’s a big fucking Elephant. The road around the water hole was all the way around. The Elephant - a big bull was in the middle with 2-3 cars parked on the other side. We crept in, turned the engine off. Mr Elephant spotted us and decided to investigate. Hmm he's coming over here, no its OK he's going to cross the road. No he's coming right here! He stopped maybe 3-4 Meters in front of our car, there’s no way for us to go past and no way for us to reverse quickly if he's pissed. He just checks us out, seemed like hours, and stands there almost at the end of the bonnet. Panic starts to set in, what do we do!! .. Can’t take pictures the screens too dirty and he's TOO close for the lens on the camera. He stands, and stands, waves his ears and then ambles of to the right. My heart was doing cart wheels. SHIT we didn’t take a picture. We start to follow parallel with him in the scrub and then we go forward and wait. He walks out onto the road, this time we're facing the right way so hopefully got some great shots.

We leave him alone and head off. 20 mins later, look another!! .. This one, even bigger, was also crossing the road but he decided to scare the crap out of the car nearest him. We help right back after the previous close encounter. My pants couldn’t handle it. The guy did exactly the same. I think it must be a game they've worked out. See if they can get the cars to back off. Check this YOUTUBE clip .. Got some more great shots. Hopefully.

Arrived at Onguma. It’s the third camp of the top three Namibian places to stay along with Walverdans and Mowani and I think by far the best tent. Will it top Walverdans ? Will wait and see. I think Ben and his family might help keep that one top. The tented camp faced a water hole and is on the reserve which is completely open to all the animals. Lion, Rhino, Leopard etc so after and before sun rise everyone has to be escorted by staff.

Mike and Margaret from Walverdans are also staying here and unfortunately so are the Older German ladies and their guide - the knob. They have now been renamed to Bride of Frankenstein (she has the worst plastic surgery), Chucky and Herr Porno (He looks like a failed 70's porn star).

Dinner service was very good but given the choice of Kudo fillet or King Lip I went with fish - wrong. The fish wasn’t cooked, it had thrown me so declined a replacement. The fish came back with a vengeance this morning.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Okaukuejo to Halali - Etosha

Set the alarm for 05:00 to have some tea and biscuits by our personal water hole before the gates open at 06:45 and then go for a morning drive. Needless to say the alarm went off, I sat bolt upright looked at the hole and we both fell asleep until 06:30 - bugger.

We stormed out and within 1km of the gate we spotted a male lion, full mane - the works. Tucking into what must have been a pretty fresh kill. We sat and watched for 45 mins and then pretty much drove the same route as yesterday afternoon. Some Elephant in the distance.

Made the drive to Halali which is a smaller camp and supposedly newer. First impressions are it’s not as good. The water hole is a slight walk away and it’s not even right outside our window! What kind of place is this ! The bungalow is OK, clean and has everything we need.

Little to see on the afternoon/Evening drive.

Dinner - The novelty of the food has worn off. That didn’t take long. Coupled with the fact we asked to eat inside and they turned the AC off meant we ate what was possible, mainly the rice and left sharpish. Paid a visit to the water hole where a young white rhino was just making off. Stayed there for an hour or so and went to bed.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Mowani Mountain Camp to Estosha - Okaukuejo

Normal gravel roads, we stopped at Outjo for petrol and some beer and wine. The supermarket was an experience, way more busy than we're used to and I guess as it’s the last stop before the park there’s lots of street selling and pestering. We seem to have got the hang of walking off.

The accommodation this time was out our first government run place. Heard and read polar reviews so we were a little apprehensive. No reason to be. We're staying in one of the water hole bungalows which is modern, clean and boutique hotel in its styling. Really impressed, and, it has a birds eye air conditioned view of the water hole!

We checked in and went straight out for a drive.. Around 16:00. Went towards the water holes in the west of the park. Didn’t stop at any but on loop back to the camp two cars where stopped looking at what appeared nothing. Closer work with the binoculars and Rays pap lens picked out three, three !! Lions .. What looked like two young boys and a girl just lying down. It was 17:30 and the park gates close at 18:45. We waited, we waited and where rewarded. The main lad got up and started walking while his two friends/siblings lagged behind. We followed him along the road to which he gradually got nearer to. I hope those pictures come out!!

We made it back to camp with about 5 mins to spare before the gates close. The next issue was the food. Buffett which always sets Max off. But again, way better than expected. The staff where friendly and welcoming and the meat was cooked to order.
Water hole at night - When we got back from dinner there was a herd of elephants,, maybe 20-25. Loads of giraffe and three White Rhino. Queue 20 mins of me trying to work Rays Pap camera in the dark. Needless to say the pictures are crap, but enough to act as a reminder of a crazy night of animal visits.

In day one we have pretty much achieved all the big game possible, Leopard and Cheetah excluded.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Day of relaxation. We'd declined the excursion which was a nature drive with the possibility of seeing one of the last remaining desert elephants. Although tempting we'll be spending the next 3-4 days in the car while going through Etosha.

Went for a walk after breakfast, it must already be in the 30's. Not too much to see but plenty of flies pestering us.

We seem to have adopted a Bee, massive thing, now named Duncan - after my dopey friend, as it’s big, dark and clumsy. Flies into walls, rocks, anything.. Daft bugger.

Dinner of fillet steak - I keep going on but the food here is superb.

Some new guests have arrived - A couple of German 'Older' ladies - 60's and their guide. Who is a knob. Arrogant and rude beyond compare.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Sam's Giardino to Mowani Mountain Camp - Damaraland

Started early so we could go and get the windscreen fixed. They drilled a hole at the very end of the crack through the top layer of glass (apparently there are two) and injected some resin/glue which they activated with a UV light. This should stop the crack spreading.

Another 4 1/2 hour drive over gravel roads, the crack didn’t spread so I think we're safe. Left Sam’s around 9:10 and arrived at the next lodge 13:30. The dust is back. Luckily we bought some J-Cloths at Swakopmund.

Number 2 of 3 of the best lodges to stay at in Namibia - which we're staying in all three. Set up in the mountain around the massive boulders liberally scattered around the region. A tent on a platform design similar to Walverdans and Kulala. Stunning scenery.

This is probably the poshest place we've stayed so far. The service is equally as good as everywhere else but you can tell they are briefed on professionalism. Dinner was either main of Kudo fillet or Chicken, Kudo then. Brilliant.
Just after dinner the X Factor started. The guides, waiters, chefs etc threw together a medley of songs. Each taught to the others from the local area they came from.

Our waiter for the evening was Epson - I wonder if he has a brother called Hewlett Packard.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Up early to rendezvous with Jean of Eco Kayaking Tours. Which involved a 4x4 drive out to Pelican point and the paddling along the coast to the seal colony. At which point they all leapt into the sea to come and play with us - brilliant, jumping, shouting, biting the paddles. They've been known to jump on the boats and float alongside for their tummies to be rubbed. Sadly nothing as intimate on this trip but still an exception experience, not to be missed. Jean is passionate about the wildlife and this really shines through on her tour. There were also a couple of Jackal pairs guarding their dens and newborns.

Noticed a crack, maybe 10cm, in the windscreen. Called Euro car and they seem happy to just carry on. We're going to see a man in town early tomorrow, maybe there some African magic he can do to stop it spreading.

Had lunch at the Light House, Bar and Restaurant down by the beach. This town is growing on us, its a real oldie worldly place. Kids playing (white and black) in the park, people hanging out on the beach. But if you look hard then can still see other, sadder part of Africa, a small kid checking the bins and some drunks sleeping off. It’s a real mixture.

Filled up with crap food, biscuits, crisps etc in preparation for the stay at the two Government lodges in Etosha - just in case.

Dinner was the 5 course affair offered daily by Sam along with wine which we could select from his huge wine cellar - he also does a wine tasting in the evening if you want. Food was simple but nice, King Lip fish and homemade ice-cream.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Day of rest.

Wandered into town and down to the restaurant we're eating at tonight - The Tug, and then around town. Weird place. Its an old German town on the coast with a mix of old a new buildings. The new are, well, weird. Odd colours, architecture like the design was smoking really strong skunk.

Drove out to Walvis Bay to scope where we're meeting the kayak lady tomorrow morning. Around the bay are some really nice houses, much like Camps Bay in Cape Town. Lunched at The Raft and got guilt tripped into buying a wooden Rhino O'Neal from the man from Zimbabwe. 100 N$. Drove out around the bay to the salt works and hundreds of flamingos hanging out.

From our room on the 1st floor I watched the gardener open what I think was his pay packet, I don’t know if it was a day, a few days or a week. But it was 60N$ and what looked like some tokens. 60N$ is about £6. That’s the part of holidays you don’t see unless you look hard and the part that I find hard to balance when you compare the amount of money spent on car hire and staying at some of the places on this trip.

Ate at the Tug, fish extravaganza. We're learning, only a main meal, which was as per the norm in this country, massive and good.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Kulala Wilderness camp to Sam's Giardino-Swakopmund

Spoke to deputy manager of the lodge about the guides driving yesterday. He mentioned that he had heard there was something wrong with the back of the Land Rover. Maybe, maybe not. We'd still go back there but not take any of the excursions. The main reason was the private gate into the park which didn’t actually buy us anything other than £200 lighter.

400km of gravel road, more cars on this that we'd seen so far. Left at 09:00, arrived at 15:00. Some nice early roads with up's n down through some passes then about 90k of complete straight road in the most deserted place ever. Star Wars could have been filmed here.

Found the noise in the car. When the dashboard gets hot it starts to squeak. Nice, perfect on gravel roads in a desert!

Bumped into Ben and family at Solitaire - 200km outside Kulala and the last gas station until Swakomond. Really nice surprise and they greeted us like old friends. They had a great time staying at the Government lodge near the park gates and hired a guide to take them over the 4x4 section. The bakery at Solitaire is a must - ask him his opinion of South Africans. Prepare to hear colourful language.

Staying at Sam's Giardino in town. It’s a motel type place in an almost Alpine chalet type design. Clean, cheap and comfortable with a couple of legendary dogs, the last of which sadly died last week, and which Max immediately put her foot in it by asking about them. Sam is a Swiss guy, I think pretty eccentric but I doubt you could find a more helpful person in Africa.

Gave in, had the car cleaned. Inside was disgusting, everything must have had a 2mm layer of dust on it, could hardly read the clocks or operate the radio. Even though it won’t last, all the roads for the next 1500km 'ish are gravel but it was minging. I think because the road was busier we used the AC more when following behind other cars, I think this just sucked all the dust off the road and spat it into the cabin - fuck knows what our lungs are like. Will try the cabin only circulation button next time !!

After the recent culinary gorging we wanted something simple. Neapolitan in town, pizza and pasta. Book it. Starters, main, sure .. WRONG ! They have the biggest portions of excellent food, the calzone must have weighed 2kg and mostly went in a doggy bag which a girl on the street asked for it. I hope she makes it last, she could feed a family for a week.

Walked to and from the town, it’s OK, seems pretty safe. It’s a complete contrast to the previous places. Busy, still got the hoodies and los locos we have at home.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Sossusvlei

Paul 1 Mosy's 0 - no need to release enough chemicals to wipe out Maidstone, there where none around.

05:00 wakeup call by Teek - the guide for the day. Sunrise drive to Sossusvlei to look at the dunes. This lodge is part of a group that has a private gate to the reserve - the main reason for us staying here. The hoy-poloy can either stay at the government run lodge or get to the public gates for 6/7 o'clock and then purchase park tickets.

Due to leave at 06:00. 06:20 finally board the Land Rover, 06:30 still waiting to leave. The lodge had booked 9 people for an excursion with 7 seats. Fortunately (or so we thought) for us but unfortunately for another couple we where 2 of 7 that had inadvertently sat down before anyone realised there weren’t enough seats. The other couple decide to drive themselves. They have a 4x4 hire car so can go all the way to the end of the dunes. Our little Hyundai was only 2x4 - something we'll change next time.

Because we left late we probably didn’t get as far into the park as we should have but the guide stopped at a couple of places for some nice photos while the light was good.
Stopped at Dune 45 with the option of walking up. We declined and stopped at the bottom taking pictures. Some of the guests braved the climb, 20-30 mins .. pah, screw that this is a holiday not a step class.

Carried on to the last 5km which is strictly 4x4 only and visited Deadvlei followed by lunch.
So, to the journey home, supposedly via . The vehicle for this excursion was a Land Rover Defender. Bearing in mind Land Rovers are shit at handling on tarmac even before you screw with them (I know I've owned one) this one had had a lump welded onto the chassis making it maybe a 130?, then a hi top roof conversion, closed sides and seating for 7 in the back, add to this tires with low pressure in order to deal with the sand (which it did admirably) and you have a pretty fucking scary thing to drive at and speed on tarmac. Add to the inherit instability issues and a bunch of modifications an increasingly tired/sick or maybe hung-over driver who's been up since around 04:00 (it’s now 13:00) and some gusty wind on the main road and speeds of 100-120km/h then it equates a drive home worthy of any ride at a theme park. Needless to say after the 5th or 6th time he nearly ran off the road one of the Toblerone twins asked him to slow down. By which time we were all white knuckled on the seat in front. He did slow down but the driving was still completely erratic, veering off course, missing lines on corners, really shit and pretty scary to be honest. When we hit the gravel road back to camp I thought the worry was over, how wrong I can be. As before, missing bends, slamming on the breaks when the same springbok we drove past on the way out, in the same place, jumped out. Bumps in the road taken way too fast. This guy supposedly drives this route every day, these shouldn’t be surprises.
Needless to say he didn’t get a tip and I sit here contemplating a conversation with the manager. The trip wasn’t cheap, 1000 N$ per person and for that I was expecting some real value add over what we could have done self drive. The guide even without his crazy, actually no, dangerous driving didn’t seem particularly happy in the service industry or really make much of an effort - maybe more evidence of him being sick. But even if he was sick he made mistakes, if he was sick then he should have called in and we drove slowly back not faster! Maybe he gets punished for being late back, so then the lodge is in the wrong. Or, if that’s his normal driving then he is going to kill someone.

So complain and maybe he will lose his job or not and maybe something worse.
Next time we'll hire a 4x4 and self drive, get to the gate at 05:00 and be first in line, save ourselves £200.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Wolwedans Dune Camp to Kulala Wilderness Camp

Slept through the sun rise, the previous day trip was brilliant, but long. Filled up on the excellent breakfast, homemade bread and muffins etc. Dinesh drove us and our companions down to the main lodge to check out and collect our car.

Very sad to be leaving. Said our goodbyes and hope the other people we on this trip will be as nice as Ben and his family. Maybe we'll make the Octoberfest trip one day, and if they come to London they'd be more than welcome.

Short 80km drive to Kulala Wilderness camp, again on gravel roads, the dust gets everywhere and its futile trying to fight it. Although Max is trying - she'll learn. Spotted a Zebra heard grazing about 500m from the road side.

The car has developed the most annoying noise, its almost like water running. Maybe the AC? Can't identify.

A canvas and thatched room with granite rocks being used to build the bathroom. Just a relaxing day in preparation for tomorrows 05:00 start for the trip to the Sossusvlei dunes.

Staying with us we have Dart anion and his girlfriend - direct from Wolwedans, Swiss family Robinson, toberlerone twins, nightmare English moody cow & the no chins. Everyone gets a nickname.

Mosy alert, its not malaria time but I hate the bastards so will be using all possible don’t bite me fuckers technique’s and chemicals.

Dinner of ... yes Oryx, again .. although there was also a choice of fish. But fish in the desert just seems wrong. This time the Onyx was in a stew, which I think used a poorer cut of the animal as there were a few chewy bits. But nice flavours and service.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Slept with the tent doors open and awoke just before sunrise @ 6:45. Fantastic. The day was a picnic trip out. Started with Dinesh leading us around the dunes and reading some the night creature’s tracks. Tracked a White Lady Spider, Snow Boot Cricket. Drove out into the wilderness with a lunch spot at a set of prehistoric boulders - now called Flintstone picnic spot.

Dinner was again four courses of some of the best food we've had. London, New York, Paris - These guys match it. Apparently Walverdans run a culinary school in Windhoek for all thier chef's which then go to the resorts and also work at a restaurant in town. Tonight’s main course of Oryx steaks and again, not shy of keeping the wine glasses topped up.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Bagatelle Kalahari Gameranch to Wolwedans Dune Camp

400km drive to Walwedans dune camp, left @ 09:00, arrived at 13:15. Gravel road from Maltahoe. At the end of town the road signs for C19 completely disappeared and the road turned into gravel - pretty scary as there’s a fair drive before we actually got to the sign for the C19 with no bugger around to help/ask. The road to the camp is totally 4x4, big rocks, sand drifts etc. Driving across Zarishootgte pass was crazy and certainly needs a high clearance vehicle. No prius drivers here. Once you turn off for the road to Walwedans its pretty rocky for the first 1km and then turns sandy. Met at the main reception area by a guide called 'Promise' - seriously. He drove us up to the Dune Camp, theres also the Dune Lodge and the Private Camp for the Hollywood stars. In fact Angelina and Brad hired entire site for their visit, no private camp for them.

We met and had lunch with three other German guests from Munich who also turned out to also to be our companions during the activities. We'd been assigned a guide called Dinesh who we'd meet at 17:00 for the sundowner drive.

The accommodation is a tent!!! Brilliant. Doors can be left wide open 24 Hours with fantastic views over the mountain and sunrise. There’s no electricity and the water is solar heated. Luckily the guide book had told us this so everything electrical was super charged before we left Baggatelle.

Evening sundowner with our new companions Ben, Lisa and thier daughter Anna. A short drive with a story about fairy circles. And then drinks watching the sunset. Dinesh found (I say found they seem to have a diesel addiction and immediately gather around the Land Rover when it stops) and explained about the Armoured Cricket AKA - Brown Booby. And how it ingeniously eats any part of its body thats causing pain, but this ultimately means 'the brown boobie can eat itself to death'.

Dinner was a communal affair with all the guests in the dune camp - 11. Met a Dutch couple of which the guy - Mike is a serious amateur/semi pro wildlife photographer, currently in the final 7 of national geographic with what sounds like a stunning photo of a tree frog.

Excellent four course dinner, main being Zebra. Plenty of wine, seriously plenty of wine flowing.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Awake at 06:30 - fuck its cold in the desert. If any bugs survived last night’s temperature plummet then good luck to them, tomorrow they can feast.

We got up early to go on the morning drive, or so we thought. Some confusion caused by now named 'hat man' - one of the local guides. We thought there was a AM and PM drive, actually its just PM. So we had breakfast and christened my Barmah hat with a 2 hour walk around the dunes along with the resident kudo and her baby. We stumbled across Meer cat manor, vlads long lost family.

Although at 7-7:30 its fleece and long trousers, by 8-8:15 is warm enough for shorts. So at least today’s mistake was a good lesson for the other early morning starts on the trip.

Sun downer trip arranged for evening. Spotted some local game, Kudo, Oryx and some others that I've already forgotten the names of.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Windhoek to Bagatelle Kalahari Gameranch

Collected the car from Euro Car, Hyundai Tuscan, Toosan, something like that - 4 door 2x4 hatchback from Eurocar and hit the road. Saw a pride of baboons within minutes. Windhoek seemed OK for the brief part we drove through. Its Africa, we were worried about being rolled as we left the airport but its fine, much like South Africa, well Cape Town and the South, no need for the fake grab bag with old credit cards and money we'd made up, and promptly left in the boot/trunk anyway!

Arrived at Bagatelle Ranch via 15K of gravel road, the rest of the380km journey was tarmac. The white car aint so white now. Beautiful location on the edge of the Kalahari Desert with two days of relaxation planned with maybe a couple of excursions around the local area.

Snooze in the afternoon and an excellent dinner of Ostrich, Kudo stew and pumpkin. Followed by I think the best apple crumble I've ever had.

Some interesting fellow guests. Gouk Ghan and his grey haired boyfriend playing footsy, the three bottles of wine Germans and the brilliantly excitable girl and boyfriend/husband (they could be honeymooners) from the plane. So we'll be seeing them all the way round the country.

Went overboard on the insect prevention. Repellent, plug-in and net over the bed.

Friday, 18 September 2009

London, UK to Windhoek, Namibia (via Frankfurt)

Due to a recent purchase of a totally in-appropriate car it meant our normal itinerary of getting to Heathrow and driving the car and parking at the parents wasn’t possible. So East London to London Heathrow Terminal 5 this year involved navigating the DLR and tube with two bloody great bags and rucksacks. The TFL website estimated 1:40 journey time, 1:40 my arse - there must be a thousand stops on the Piccadilly line. Flight departs at 16:45 to Frankfurt. So we left at 13:00 heading for the Piccadilly line rather than Heathrow express which leaves from Paddington. Journey went swimmingly; luckily all the interchange stations had lifts - something we'd completely overlooked.

LHR - my bag over weight, actually really overweight, 32KG. Payup or leave stuff behind. £25, thank you BA. Maybe the North Face trek bag with 10KG of protection before clothes wasn’t such a good idea, or maybe I just packed to many clothes - I think the latter.

Customs confiscated the cooler blocks for our ice bag.. And then Frankfurt customs confiscated water we'd bought for the flight.

And what’s with T5. There’s enough space at check in for 3 terminals but as soon as you’re past security the queue and space for the metal detectors is tiny. Shoes off/shoes on, belt on/belt off... Make your mind up!

Windhoek - Night flight from Frankfurt so slept most of the journey. Oh, and Air Namibia give the most space I've ever seen to First/Premium class, not that we were in it. But we’ll be enquiring for last minute upgrades on the way back , you never know.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Shoulders - Update

All is well, left is a bit clicky and the right has a slight movement pattern problem but the consultant has signed me off and the physio is working on the movement .. finally been allowed to start real training again after a year ...

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Shoulders

I just had my second shoulder arthroscopy and subacromial decompression (right shoulder) 4 weeks after my left shoulder was done. Same surgeon Simon Moyes @ the Wellington Hospital.

So far so good, similar pain as previous op. In fact very little. The nurses kept trying to pump me full of morphine but it was fine. Left shoulder is still a bit weak and I'm not allowed to raise it over 90ยบ for another 1-2 weeks. In fact it goes over, I tried it in the first week. Then physiotherapy starts.

So now I have to sit around not doing much for 6 weeks while the right heals ..

Then finally back to the gym and pain free shoulders - well pain free 'er than before I hope.

I'd had shoulder pain for 2-3 years in my left after a fall playing sport. I had physio at the time and it healed OK ... I then think I started down the normal man down gym routine and didn't pay too much attention to posture. Causing my shoulders to get impinged. More physio which didn't really work and finally an MRI scan revealed a genetic problem. The
supraspinatus tendon was basically taking a chicane as it went under the acromion. Made worse by being 30+ apparently. Tendons thicken !? .. so the operations main goal was to shave some of the bone away to allow that tendons path to smooth out. They also cleaned up some arthritus and fully re-attached the bicep tendon which they think got damaged in the fall 3-4 years ago ..

Saturday, 9 May 2009

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http://www.simplebits.com/cgi-bin/simplecode.pl?mode=process

Why is Vista so slow copying files .. !

350MB File on a Gb network - no jumbo frames just straight vanilla config.

From vista to NAS- 60 seconds 6MB/s
NASto vista - 35 seconds 10MB/s

Tried IPerf to make sure the network was OK.

Vista as server 'iperf -s' and NAS as client - 8MB/s
NAS as server - 19MB/s

Time to hit google .. or install Windows 7

Thursday, 7 May 2009

TeraStation Pro (TS-TGL) - Home Media Server

So I 'borrowed' a TeraStation Pro (TS-TGL Models) from work. The idea is to use it as a POC before I buy my own NAS to see if it can replace my Windows 2003 server currently running in the garage. Its my file and network services (DNS, DHCP, IIS etc) server & also runs a virtual XP workstation which uses TVersity to push my media around the house. Really I have to leave it running 24x7 to get what I need from it. This is a total waste of money and since I recently installed an ecoeye mini wireless monitor I can now see how much !! http://www.electricity-monitor.com/ecoeye-mini-wireless-electricity-monitor-p-41.html.

My requirement list :

1 - DNS
2 - DHCP
3 - File Serving
4 - Web Server
5 - UPnP Media Server
6 - Power off / Wake On LAN (WOL)

The Buffalos run an imbedded version of Linux. An OS I use at work on and off, comfortable enough to tackle it. I found a hacked version of the NAS firmware which allows TELNET access : http://homepage.ntlworld.com/itimpi/buffalo.htm and some excellent help @ the forums http://forum.buffalo.nas-central.org/viewforum.php?f=42. And so then allows you to butcher the OS and install apps enable NFS etc.

Loading the new fw was easy enough and this gave me telnet access. But its a really old Linux build so didn't have any of the package loaders. I stumbled across Ipkg for the linkstation also based on the PPC chip (same as TS-TGL) - worth a try. Downloaded, setup the repositories and it worked a dream :

http://buffalo.nas-central.org/wiki/Ipkg_Package_List:_PowerPC

Command reminders : 

ipkg update - update list of available packages
ipkg list | grep [package_name] - list package and filter on [package-name]
ipkg list_installed - list installed packages





DNS

I've used BIND before so that was my first try. There is a package in the Ipkg resources which installed and seemed OK.. But running it gave some scary errors. Googling for a fix led me to DNSMASQ which seems a way more lightweight SOHO DNS Server and probably more suited. Again it was in the repo so I installed, started, easy .. It uses /etc/hosts to serve my home domain, matrix.com .. #1 Done

DHCP

I have a mix of static and DHCP devices. When my servers running it serves the DHCP range, which is just a 20 host range from my home static, W2K3 also give me DDNS which is nice but not essential. My DSL router also provides DHCP and as I discovered some basic DNS resolution. With some 'manipulation' of the router from the CLI it turns out I can serve DHCP from the router which is always on and create a DNS Server entry for matrix.com pointing to DNSMASQ. #2 Done

File Serving

Its a NAS, thats its job so by default comes with SMB... Setup my shares #3 Done

Web Server

Currently IIS which I run a basic Home navigation page, links to shares, HTTP views of files. Reminders of host names etc. I have an XP running TVersity which has always been fine for music, but was never great for Video, maybe lack of CPU etc but I found I could just serve my files using HTML file lists and browse using the PS3 browser and play .. works fine. So either I need to find a 100% reliable UPnP app or I need a replacement to IIS to keep doing this.

I also wanted to play with Apache :) .. The Buffalo's management app is web based, turns out being server by Apache. Its 1.3 but still does the job (2.x is in the Ipkg repo so thats a future task). I created some Virtual hosts for the sites I run and messed around with the config a little. #4 Done

10/5/2009 - I say done .. It turns out apache 1.3 has a file size limit of 2GB. Which is not good when I'm trying to push files to the PS3. This is resolved in 2.2 and I tried to upgrade but started to have problems with missing libraries. I have installed LIGHTTPD running on port 8081 to server the film part of my web site ..

Media Server

I knew this would be a pain. Having messed with TVersity for a while its pretty clear that this 'technology' is still developing. Add to that OpenSource and and OS I'm not entirely comfortable with then it becomes a world of pain. The forums discussed UShare & MediaTomb with the later tending to get the more favourable posts. Its also in the Ipkg repo.

Installed it and ..........

I ran a small test and imported a selection of files, music & pics (Theres no way this NAS CPU will do transcoding so I'll stick with my apache file lists for now) which it seemed to do OK and even better my PS3 found it.

I need to work on the list structure, the default one is OK but I prefer Artist | Album | Track so I need to get that working. It looks like the import.js script is the key to solving that. I also have a problem some file name characters. The doc talks about loading charsets which after 2 days I realised I had put in the wrong part of config.xml. Now I've corrected that MediaTomb errors with un-supported code page. # 5 In progress :)

To change mediatomb character set add :


</server>
<import hidden-files="no">
<filesystem-charset>UTF-8</filesystem-charset>
<metadata-charset>ISO-8859-1</metadata-charset>



to config.xml under the 'import' section. Make sure you dont what I do and add them under the script section, cause then it wont work (well its not actually working for me but at least I get errors now) ..

09/05/2009 - Given up with the international characters. The log file reported that mediatomb didnt support the charset I was trying, in my case I tried iso-8859-1 / 10 & 15 .. Maybe the version in the optware repository is older than current.


Power off / Wake On LAN (WOL)

Not with this NAS. But assuming this one does all I need (so far so good) then I can research which onces do. At least my POC device has a lower power usage than a sodding great server ..

Friday, 1 May 2009

Paul Regan

Hi

I am Paul Regan, born Isleworth, London, UK and this is my blog of nonsense.

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