Changes to the website…

You might have noticed that the site has had a bit of a facelife. For a while now I’ve been meaning to give it an overhaul, and make it easier to update.

Things I’ve done:

  • Made templates wider.
  • Used amazon web services to get keywork and browse based item links
  • Added google ads at the bottom of the page
  • Created my own PHP base web service (using NuSOAP) to allow me to write a .Net application to manage my walks and blog posts (Moveable Type API) (this is partially completed – walks are done – blogs aren’t).
  • Created above noted app for managing walks database, written in .Net with some nice looking custom controls.

Things still need to be done:

  • I’d love to make the whole site run off one template – at the moment its 4, 1 in Dreamweaver for the walks, 1 for the index page and 1 each for the category and article pages.
  • Complete the above .Net application to cover blog editing
  • Add some caching to the above app, as at the moment it pulls a big list from the web each time it starts and slows everything down, probably churning my bandwidth as well)
  • Maybe improve the amazon keyword searches based on some info from each post – might be interesting :D

I think I’ll share some of the stuff I’m doing above later, specifically the .Net MoveableType class library and the amazon php soap client code, but both need a bit of tidying up first (especially the MoveableType bit).

I just got a book through the post yesterday from my very first auction. I can’t believe someone as technical as me has taken so long to give it a try. Now I’ve been buying stuff off the internet for years now, but the idea of buying off another person, rather than a company just never seemed to appeal. Then there was the fact that I suppose you could never really be sure you’re getting a deal, and the unknown quantity about the state of the end product. Anyway, finally did it and it went fine – might just do it again (is it addictive do you think?)

[Listening to: Super Duper Love (Are You Diggin’ Me?) Pt 1 – Joss Stone – The Soul Sessions (04:20)]

Local Climbing Walls

Sunderland Wall
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but I (and my wife) currently frequent Sunderland Wall for our weekly climbing fix (well, twice a week usually).

We’ve been going about 5 months now and have been steadily improving, climbing bigger and bigger wall, harder routes and things on bigger overhangs.

I can’t really compare Sunderland Wall to any other proper climbing walls yet as I haven’t been to many (plan on going to RockAntics at some point as its been recommended) but its been a good place to learn to climb. During the beginning of the year it was awfully cold, and now the summer is upon us its often awfully hot instead and the staff range from grumpy to mad/weird (mad/weird is good, but grumpy isn’t).

Berghaus Wall, Eldon Leisure, Newcastle
The first thing I will say about the Berghaus wall is that its hot, damn hot, and I sweat lots. But enough about my personal problems.

The wall itself is a brilliant bouldering venue, although it can be dauntingly high to start with. People keep complaining about the mats, but provided you move them to the right place (assuming they aren’t in use) then they are fine.

I would say that there isn’t altogether that much stuff in the very easy category, especially if you get hold of the little topo guidebook, which has barely anything in the 4a-4c range, and most things 5b+ (yes, thats right, it uses British technical grades).

Whickham Thorns, Dunston
At first sight this has to be one of the strangest looking structures ever, a convoluted giant exploded doughnut. But once you get used to that, plus the dizzy feeling you get when you stand up on the top its actually really good. Luckily I’ve been going with some people from work and I’ve found that really good, both from an encouragement point of view and also for finding interesting problems to try that a) aren’t obvious or b) I wouldn’t even sniff at under normal circustances. Whether this is just my lack of bouldering experience I’m not sure.

I have taken on nasty fall off the top when I just couldn’t pluck up the courage to get over the top and hand holds seemed to disappear, a nasty gash along my arms was the response from the gravel below, but generally you can get by without a mat provided you’ve got a spotter.

Rumour also has it that they’ve opened up a shop in the indoor complex (and there is also a climbing wall in their too, bizzare brieze block/stone affair but good for when the weather is crap, although it is often booked out by groups so phone in advance) but I haven’t been in yet.


[Listening to: Bite The Hand That Bleeds – Fear Factory – Archetype (04:09)]

Getting through my work proxy

Well, finally managed to get W.Bloggar working from work. Seems it really doesn’t like the NTLM proxty we have here and isn’t providing my username/passsword correctly.

Thankfully found this post pointing me at a piece of software which does just what I want – it acts as a pre-proxy proxy. Its called Ap Server (don’t ask me why) and uses Python so should work on pretty much any platform.

Lovely! Now I’ve just got to work out how to easily configure it to work when I’m at home (no proxy) without changing 23 different configuration settings.

Success with the A70 as a webcam

Following on from my post about the hope of getting my Canon A70 to work as a webcam using the Cam4you utilities I can report some measure of success.

However I really would need a power supply for my camera, a longer usb cable to connect to the camera, and a better tripod than the crappy little thing I have at the moment.

Oh well…

Edit: Followup post here about how to set this up.

16metres and climbing

I remember the first moment I successfully managed to complete a 10metre route at the local climbing wall. It was a triumphant moment – especially as I was about 2 weeks behind the lovely wife in this task.

The climbing wall has lots of wall. There is a bouldering wall that reaches about 4m, then an A-frame and a number of smaller routes at 8m. The majority of the routes are then in the 10m range, some with overhanging sections (between 20 and 40 degrees I think).

Finally there is the large central section, consisting of 2 walls at 16m on either side of 3 large 23m walls. The 16m walls are the last walls with top ropes on, to do the 23m you have to lead climb (you can lead on the 16m as well as most of the 10m walls).

Well Sunday was the first time I made it all the way to the top of a 16meter wall without a ‘roped’ rest (i.e. relying on the rope to rest, rather than resting an arm at a time and still holding onto the wall).

Its mainly been a battle of endurance, and pychology to get that high, and not really much technique (although when I get tired at the top I can feel my technique going to pot – resting then makes the next moves easier because you are rested and using better technique).

Next step: more 16m routes, lead climbing, then the 23m wall!

Langdale Boulders

Well after the day of bouldering over in Kentmere we very nearly didn’t go again. After being completely disheartened by our complete crapness I plucked up the courage to advocate an small trip after a half day walk.

We walked up to Crinkle Crags, along near Langdale so the boulder of choice was obviously the Langdale boulder. We’d seen a sign saying it was to be laser scanned the following tuesday so went to see what all the fuss was about.

Turned out to be a good session, completeing most of the V0 problems. Particularly enjoyable was the bottom boulder, with 2 excellent problems on the large face and two more on the top face.

So maybe there is a future for me in the bouldering world after all.
Lakes Bloc for a partial guide to the Langdale Boulder and Rockfax website for a miniguide (£2.50).

Little Font – Kentmere

Well after the nightmare that was Badger Rock – we thought we’d give the ‘Little Font’ area just along the path a quick look before giving up on the entire day.

Turned out to be slightly more fun than Badger Rock, with a couple more problems I could at least start on.

The landings where a different type of bad from Badger Rock, some with very close pine trees to hit on the way down and others with large rocks sticking into the air just where your mat should be. Plus some of the higher boulders had been taken over by large colonies of flies!

Managed a couple of the V0’s on the Pine Stone but couldn’t get some of the others which seemed to indicate sitting starts (boy am I crap at sitting starts!)

Maybe I should just give up on this whole bouldering lark, nah, must get stronger!

Check out Lakes Bloc for topo guide.