After getting a silly quote for the insurance renewal for the MR2, I did a bit of shopping around, and I got a quote for €200 less than the previous company was going to cost me, so I’ve gone for that. So, the red car is back on the road, just in time for the supposedly fine weather for our summer.
It’s really good to give it its legs again after a while sitting up. Next thing for it is to make it properly glossy deep red again!
Today included a trip to Gower, for the first real test of the Jed on a working Curragower main wave. Well it’s great.. Made the ferry on a few times, got half-decent surfs, nailed my first flatspins in a long time on that wave. Does wonders for the confidence that does.
Video to follow of my favourite 2-minute run on the wave.
When I noticed that the latest Facebook app for Android has such wonderful permissions requests as
- “making calls without your permission”
- “editing your call list”
- “taking photos or video without your permission”
I decided that this was the last straw, and I needed to get rid of this application. There are no legit reasons why a social media application needs to go anywhere near my phone functionality – especially without my knowledge or permission.
So goodbye Facebook Application from my phone, and good riddance.
Been a busy few days from a sporting perspective..
In the past week it has been a trip to Killaloe for a tour of the XC course with the fantastic dryness of the ground. Definitely not the easiest of the trails I’ve been on but it was a whole lot of fun. Tested out the new Minion tyres and they grip like limpets. Tested out the armour again ;)
Been in Lahinch for a surf in the Jed. It’s a lot of fun in surf, but it’s not a true surfing boat.
Got ~35km done on the road bike later that day, always nice to be cycling in company. Next time out we’ll go a bit harder and faster, maybe Killaloe and back eventually of a weekday evening post-work.
Then it was a training day on Castleconnell with Dan and Richard, working those two harder than they have ever been worked on a river. Huge progress by everyone, Richard was sidesurfing a hole successfully, and Dan was splatting properly on the splat wall with the biggest grin on his face.
Now tomorrow may be the Glens race – depending on water levels..
So, I’ve made a few changes to my 2009 Giant Reign X1 from the standard build.
- Instead of the standard 500lb spring on the rear DHX 3.0, I’ve fitted a 650lb spring. Big difference as I’m not bottoming out on normal cycling. I’d like to go to e.g .a DHX 5.0 air shock but that’s in the future.
- En route from TF Tuning suspension are two replacement springs for the front. Firmer, and extra firm, as the forks are set for a bodyweight of approx 65kg and I’m a fair bit over that.
- Tyres are choosable from either Advantages (2.25 and 2.1), Minions in 2.5 supertacky and WetScreams also in 2.5 supertacky. There are DH-specific innertubes in place as well at the moment with the Minions, though they have certainly added to the weight of the bike.
- The seatpost appears to be bent a little bit (again) so I’ve ordered a Kind Shock LEV hydraulic seatpost, 125mm 30.9 which should allow full height dropping of the saddle from climbing to descent positions at the click of a lever. A few hundred grams extra in weight but a stronger seatpost and a lot of comfort gained.
- Pedals are a definite upgrade needed from the dual-sided flats+SPD that are on it at the moment, so I’ll probably get a set of SLX SPD pedals in the near future.
- I’ve installed a CatEye strada wireless cycle computer, gives speed and distance and that’s all I need on that bike for the moment.
- There are spoke reflectors on it and the little orange spoke reflectors that every bike gets sold with. I’ll most likely leave them on as they provide a useful reflective purpose.
- The front brake is now a 200mm disc and the old front is now on the rear – 180mm.
- There’s a lovely neoprene crud catcher between the fork bridge and the wheel stopping the spray of mud out towards the front and up into my face. Big difference.
As for myself, I’ve got a few bits and pieces that help the confidence a lot..
- 661 comp elbow guards. Sufficient for their purpose and I’ll be using these kayaking as well.
- 661 comp fullface helmet.
- Oakley O-frame with fire lens, very comfortable and with rain-x application on the inside it shouldn’t fog up easily.
- RaceFace D3O-based knee pads with shin protection. Fantastic pieces of kit, and I wish I got these earlier.
- NukeProof spine protector, also with that funky soft elastomer armour.
Getting the chest mount for the GoPro has made a big difference to the watchability of the recorded video even though it looks really weird when cycling uphill. More to come with that one.
All I need to do now is work at improving my bike handling as well as my overall fitness, and it’ll be a fun time ahead!
I’m still working on the Masters thesis, and as part of making my life easier with this, I made a few changes to the machine I am using for it and a few changes to the OS that I’m using for the practical portion.
The hardware changes were:
- The installation of a PCIe wireless card instead of the USB device I had been using, meaning less hassle with dropped connections and finally having drivers already in the Linux kernel. I had been getting dropped connections up until now, and I had a lot of trouble in initialising those connections as the drivers were vendor provided and less than stellar in reliability.
- The graphics card was upgraded from an AMD Radeon 5770 to an nVidia GTX660. Quieter fans, twice the performance for the same power usage, and better linux support for this card for what I was using it for.
- A new front mounted card reader for access to the SD cards and microSD cards that I am using for my cameras and phone. The previous one gave up the ghost and was preventing booting so it had to be returned and that model was discontinued.
- The standard Corsair fans on the H8o water cooler were a little too loud for my liking so a set of Noctua focused-flow fans went in instead. Much quieter for no apparent difference in performance, even when working the chip at 4.3ghz.
I had been using Debian Stable as the desktop of choice under Linux. I decided to change this to the most recent Ubuntu flavour as the packages I am using for the virtual environment are better supported under Ubuntu, and there is the side benefit of being able to run Valve’s gaming platform Steam natively under Linux as well. First impressions are good with Ubuntu – they have done a good job getting it to work well and appear polished. Still getting some bits of it properly set up, but it looks and feels good so far.
Specs of my Behemoth:
- Intel I7-3930, 6-core 12-thread cpu running at a lovely cool and stable 4.3ghz
- 16gb of G-Skill memory, may get another 16 or 32gb at some stage.
- Asus GTX660 DirectCU-II graphics card, w/2gb of video memory.
- Asus P9X79-Pro motherboard.
- Intel 520 120Gb SSD as OS disk.
- 4x 1Tb WD Green harddrives in raid 1+0
- Running Win7 or Ubuntu 12.10
It’s very fast and not as power hungry as you’d expect, idling with monitor and printer and UPS inline all included is under 180W idle, <20W sleeping. It can hit 350W under full cpu and graphical loads though so no bitcoin mining for me.
So I went out foreign to get a bit of sunshine and a break from the crappy weather and cold temperatures that we have been having since November. Gran Canaria was the destination of choice, to Maspalomas as I’ve already been in Puerto Rico a few times. Flights and apartment were cheap enough, and about €150 cheaper than Tenerife.
I had brought out a little telescope in the hope of getting a view of comet Panstarrs, but that didn’t work out that well as the local weather conditions meant a layer of cloud from just before sunset until the early part of the night. It was good though to get out at that stage of the night and see some southern stars that I never see from home, such as Canopus. I didn’t get a chance to get to a really dark place to get some proper stargazing done, but a fair bit of binocular and naked-eye from the apartment complex.
The apartment complex was basic but sufficient. It’s not somewhere I’d go if I wanted more comforts, anything above a bed was pay-for. A kettle would cost you €10 a week! TV was coin operated and the only english channel was CNN so I watched no telly during my time, but I didn’t miss much, only the election of a Pope, and the elections in UL (I managed to vote though, after buying WiFi access for €20 for the week).
The highlight of the holiday was going to Freemotion.net and doing some of the hardest mountain bike trails that I have ever been on. Fantastic views, the rent of a great mountain bike, the scariest routes down a mountain that I’ve attempted and I got half-decent video of it as well with the GoPro (32 minutes, best bits at 2 minutes and 15 minutes):
It was hard to come home from there, to the freezing temperatures and back to work then ;) Really glad for the break, and I’ve got a little bit until my next break away with the Kayak club.
Been a fairly fun-filled and busy time these past few weeks.. Lost of things have been really cool for me.
Kayak stuff; My helping with the organisation of the kayak Intervarsities took a fair amount of time, the competing in that was absolutely brilliant and the victory was icing on that cake. Then becoming webmin for the Kayak Club’s new committee – leading to the revamp of the ULKC forums and a rebuild of the ULKC webpage making it plug into Twitter and the new ULKC “Like” page on FB – means I have a little bit of outside work to manage along with everything else. Hopefully my writeup for the “Paddy McHugh Fresher of the Year” submission will have made the shortlist, and then hopefully it’ll be a winner for the candidate we have in mind.. Also the pool sessions are good this year. Getting to bowstall the Jed, learning the mechanics of the frontloop, rolling differently and polishing up old techniques. Teaching the new students in the club is a lot of fun, it’s fantastic to meet these new people and getting them up to speed. I love the enthusiasm there in the American girls that have come over this semester, always brilliant to see.
Mountain bike stuff. I’ve gotten back on the Reign and getting my bike legs back slowly but surely, with a few trips around the White in Ballyh as well as a fun Sunday’s spin in Curraghchase. I’ve decided to get a few items for my upcoming trip to GC with the purchase of a set of body armour that I can also use kayaking. Those pieces will arrive next week, with Oakley goggles, elbow pads, knee/shin pads and a spine protector as well. In preparation for the summer’s trip with MBUL, I’ve also included a set of full-on DH tyres to make that a bit more accessible to go full-on down the Les Gets runs. Next on the list, next month is a new front spring to behave better with my weight, instead of the 150lb spring that’s currently in there.
Car wise, the Audi is due for NCT shortly, we’ll see how that goes. At least it is behaving itself now :D The MR2 is behaving itself as wel, if a little low on electricity at the moment ;)
Astronomically, the weather hasn’t been that good recently, and the clear nights have coincided with long nights at work. Still getting snatches of good views with the small scopes but I’ve not had a long viewing session in a while, and I don’t see that changing until I get to the Canaries.
College? I’ve paid up my fees for this year, and I pick up my ID card on Monday. Time to get cracking properly on the writing :(
The new gels in addition to the usual jab has made a huge difference to me, fortnightly stability is a novelty now, and I really appreciate being level in the levels again :D
Waiting on confirmation of the dates for the ULKC kayak trip to Slovenia and Italy in the summer. Hopefully the dates will work out okay with work and I won’t have to take more than 2 weeks off to go and do this trip. Really looking forwards to getting to Alpine waters again, and with the current crew in the club it’ll be in great company with a lot of craic, all hopefully making it an experience to remember for all the right reasons.
There have been some brilliant nights out recently as well, with the Friday evenings after work when I get to the tail end of TGIF in the stables. Great atmosphere, and loads of beautiful people around. Lots of friends being made just from being around that place – it’s magnificent. And as for the celebrations night for the kayaking IV win – Epic. Simply epic. It’s good to get back into going out.
Oh yeah, if anyone is thinking of buying an electric toothbrush, it’s well worth taking a look at the Oral-B Pulsonic range. I got one recently after I immersed my decade-old rotary toothbrush in the sink accidentally, and the new one is weird but really effective at cleaning. First time in a long time that I’ve had that post-dentist feeling, and I think it’s worth what I paid for it..
The weekend just past was a busy one. The University of Limerick Kayak Club hosted the 2013 Intervarsities, with 15 colleges from all around Ireland attending.
I was involved in the building of the whitewater course on the Falls of Doonass on the Castleconnell section of the Shannon, an area that is known to kayakers as the S-Bend. 4 gates were set up, with an upstream slalom pole, two buoys at the rock halfway down to get around and a touch banner at the Castle wall, with a sprint to the end. A lovely course that everyone could attempt, but only the good could hit all the gates.
My run, resulted in a bit of an embarrassing swim, but only the pride was hurt. The others on the team did so well that we ended up with a 3rd place in that event.
So overall the UL teams did well, with a 3rd in whitewater, a 2nd in the Long Distance, and a first place in the freestyle, WE WON!!!