Thursday, August 31, 2006

Anyone for a ride - here is where we are going ...

I received a link to another Google Maps site recently from one of my mates who I cycle with (thanks Greg). So anyway on this site you can track the course, locale, and distance of where you are exercising - how cool!

So, this is ideal for organising cycling trips; basically a map is plotted out - posted to the Internet, discussed, agreed upon, printed out and then basically executed (ah the hard bit - getting out and cycling in 14 degrees and rain - like I did last Sunday).

I have cycled this course three times and believe it is an ideal 2-3hour ride out of Zurich and v.scenic and (in parts) exhausting ;)

Zurich - Egg - Zurich: 35km cycle

One site to keep for training for 'Around the Bay' - 2007; yes Jacinta - I am committing to this!

Friday, August 25, 2006


Like I said last post, I have been rather slow in using podcasts - I am probably on the tail end of the early majority (ie. mid 34% of the popultation using podcasts, but behind the innovators - top 2.5%, and the early adopters - top 13.5%) on Everett Rogers - theory of diffusion. Nonetheless, I have found that podcasts are ideal for the 15 minute train ride to/from work each day. I can listen to what I want and take in the scenery!

To give a sample, today I listened to:
  • Triple J's Megan Spencer (who is pretty cool) movie reviews - Miami Vice
  • Australia War Memorial address - 'Siege of Tobruk'; a recount of the role 14000 AUS troops aka 'rats of Tobruk' played in denying the 'Desert Fox' Rommel in taking over this strategic port in the second World War
  • The Economist - 'Wide World of Wikis'
A great way to start / end the working day ;) Does anyone know any other good podcasts I am missing?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Are you interested enough in the world?

Ok, so I just thought I would reiterate how in recent years technology has revolutionised the way people find out about the world (i.e. mass media).

And a related question how are you tapping into this to fuel your interests, expand your thoughts, and find out more about the world you live in.

So this is how I consume information at the moment (ranked in importance):

1. news print Internet-sites; with access to the world's newspapers (e.g. NY Times, the Guardian, the Age, etc.), I start my day by finding out what is happening in it - it is a cursory glance, 10-15 minutes at most, but provides me with an update of all news, special articles (to be read later via a tag), sports and weather.

2. blogs; unbelieveable, but blogs really provide a specific, finite focus to most individual's interests (e.g. whether it is software engineering, the environment, travel, friends, etc.). I don't believe it will be too long before RSS aggregators like Bloglines (yes it is excellent!) and blog profiles will be mainstream (maybe with the advent of Internet Explorer 7 - shudder ...)

3. email; yes still useful, but in terms of providing informational content; often too static, and more importantly I receive email involuntarily at the time the sender chooses to include me. Unlike a blog (which is read on demand, or subscription and organised implicitly), email requires some significant self-discipline / self-organisation to retain, read-at-a-later-date and process.

4. podcasts; phenomenally interesting . I am only a recent subscriber, but podcasts follow a similar paradigm to blogs: that is, an individual subscribes to informational content that he/she is interested in and then this is updated at regular intervals. Unlike blogs which are read, podcasts are listened to. So it is like choosing the favourite audio snippets of a day's tv / radio show (currently listening to 'the Economist' editor comments - v.good on the train in the morning).

5. news video Internet-sites; sometimes, it is necessary to see what is happening. And yes, most important information can now be streamed via the internet (e.g. watching last year's Melbourne Cup win ner Maykbe Diva, AFL, etc.).

So yes, I too will join the chorus to in saying that the trend for use of traditional media in the form of TV, magazines, and even newspapers (in hard-copy form) will be downwards. A recent 'The Economist' podcast likened the new media to the advent of the Gutenberg's printing press in the late 15th century. At that time, this led to significant social improvement (e.g. everyone being able to read literature) and upheaval (e.g. reformation). Unlike then, I believe the paradigm shift to new media (e.g. internet, blogs, wikis, etc.) will be rapid - by definition the Internet allows for distributed, rapid, mass-contributed, and concentric uptake of information (e.g. Google, Wikipedia).

And this raises a number of questions to me about new accessing media:
  • what can I learn from others? and other's interests? (looking at other's Bloglines, FlickR profiles are a fascinating view on a person's interests) what am I missing that other people are using? (yes I know, I should have a myspace ...)
  • what are companies doing to target individuals accessing this media (e.g. could there by product archetypes that are ordinary people rather than athletes, movie stars)? currently, most of the media I access is free, when will they start charging me to for all this information?
  • and finally, when are my friends / family going to join (as 'The Economist' says) this participatory media?!
So stop watching TV, and get out there and comment on the world ... there is enough to talk about thats for sure ;)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

92 kilometres later ...

Well, with a detour to Buchs, Sargens after abandoning the mighty climb - me, Ian, Greg clocked in and finished our ride at 92kms; the weather held up (it was forecast to rain), the scenery awe-inspring, the route interesting and varied, the body - fatigued! Have not stopped eating since I got home, and will sleep heartily tonight.

And here is the profile ...

The cycle (dive?, plunge?) downhill from Wildhaus was phenomenal ;)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Another weekend; another long ride!

Ok, I just thought I would share in my excitement that I am going on a 65km ride over the weekend. The route is Ziegelbr├╝cke - Kaltbrunn - Wattwil - Nesslau - Stein - Amden - Ziegelbr├╝cke and reportedly includes a 10km climb of 600m (this is significant for an amateur cyclist!). So why do I blog about this? well with inspiration from Martin Dugard's excellent blog I look forward to the physical challenge before me.

I have only been cycling for the last 2 months - but whoa it really is enjoyable especially over long distances. You get to see wonderful scenery, there is no impact to old, sore muscles (like running, which I do enjoy also) and there is a some exhiliration when you are flying down a hill (current top speed recorded is 75km; man that feels quick). I also like the challenge of cycling. With cycling, it really is easy to cruise (especially with a good carbon fibre bike which weighs next to nothing - here is mine) ... and that is the crux - you can either stay within your range / cadence or push beyond. So whenever I can, I try to be a little uncomfortable when riding, especially on the flat.

All this is void once you start climbing! On my climbs of Birgenstock, Engelberg, you notice that in the lowest gear on a triple crank that there is no anaerobic impediment (i.e. leg muscles) to climbing, however, there is significant aerobic strain. So what does this mean? well I haven't been wearing a heart monitor (on the way - will blog about it when I get it), but it feels like your heart rate is resting at its top 10% range - and this goes on, and on for the entirety of the climb. And typically when I am in the lowest gear I am only averaging 10-15km/h so those climbs can take some time - but what a feeling when you get to the end of the climb - wow! To exert yourself to the limit and to achieve (this does not occur too often in daily life). I will hopefully have a profile of the cycle next week. Until then ...


So, I am sure I am not the only one, but I intentionally decided when I began my new job that I would not use Microsoft Word. Why? well in my occupation the need for written documentation is typically: taking notes, formulating design(s), FAQs, reverse engineering, technical specifications, white papers etc. and this means I need: dynamic references (blogs, homepages, design patterns, industry standards, etc.), inlining of images (all types of formats), varied formatting of text (eg. various code formats - xml, java, sql), some pretty-print widgets (eg. graphical buttons, etc.), and version control would be ideal. And so where I am heading with this ...

So yes, I use a personal wiki server for all my documentation. Currently, the personal wiki server I use is Confluence (a personal license is free) - it is v.good; I must admit if you use it daily, it does have its quirks (the WYSWIG is not quite advanced), but its feature-set for a software engineer is fantastic. And this area is hotting up, with Apple announcing a personal wiki server as part of Leopard! So why are you still using Microsoft Word - stop! it is inefficient, unwieldy, and doesn't scale (and Google office may actually retire it - here's hoping).