Posted by & filed under Books, Mountains & hills, August 13 2007.

I recently watched the second episode of the BBC series ‘Mountain (with Griff Rhys Jones)‘ and found it pretty disappointing. It seemed to spend more time talking about Coleridge, Wordsworth and Kendal mint cake than about mountains. I also checked out the book that accompanies the series and my disappointment increased further. Of the 250 pages in the book, fully 150 are devoted to England and Wales.

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Posted by & filed under Military/Aircraft, Mountains & hills, August 1 2007.

Last Monday I climbed Beinn a’Bhuird in the Cairngorms. I camped in Glen Quoich on the Sunday evening beforehand to break up the long 33km walk and give myself an early start the next day. The path and easy gradient from Glen Quoich up the mountain makes for straightforward walking and I was on the enormous summit plateau of Beinn a’Bhuird before 9am. The weather was cold and windy with a cloudbase at an altitude of about 1100m, the same as the plateau. I think it was the coldest July walk I have ever done, and hat, gloves and gore-tex jacket were necessities.

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Posted by & filed under Mountains & hills, Science, July 17 2007.

I thought I’d follow up my last blog posting, ‘Yet more about climate change and the media (yawn)‘ with some details of my recent personal experiences of ice and snow in the mountains. Last Saturday I walked up to the summit of Cairn Gorm via Coire na Ciste and Ciste Mhearaidh. Ciste Mhearaidh is a small east-facing corrie at an altitude of 1100m a few hundred metres to the northeast of the summit of Cairn Gorm and is very not well known. I had never heard of it until I read about it for the first time on the Internet here a few days before my trip and it is not often visited by the many walkers who go up to the summit of Cairn Gorm as it is invisible from the main path to the summit from the northern corries where the ski runs and funicular railway are.

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Posted by & filed under Mountains & hills, Science, July 17 2007.

It is often assumed in many media reports that:

  • All the mountain glaciers on earth are melting and receding rapidly
  • They will all vanish in a few years
  • This is an unprecedented change in the Earth’s (and hence mankind’s) environment
  • This is entirely due to the effects of modern industrial civilisation, particularly increased air and road transportation

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Posted by & filed under Software engineering, July 9 2007.

An enduring aspect of the various academic IT-related jobs I have had over the years has been the ongoing and seemingly endless debate about the merits of the Perl and Java programming languages, with strong adherents on both sides. Perl in many ways is seen by some people (not just software engineers) as a poor contender in this debate – Java is more ubiquitous and widely-used after all, certainly outside academia. But Perl has been around for longer than Java and refuses to go away.

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Posted by & filed under Books, IT & the Internet, July 5 2007.

I’ve mentioned metadata in a few of my previous postings, and something else that is related to metadata is the concept of a ‘controlled vocabulary‘. This is a term that suffers from many misunderstandings so I’m going to try and define what it is and where it sits in the grand scheme of things, using my own experiences.

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Posted by & filed under Books, Travel, June 20 2007.

One of the best things about my recent trip to the Canadian Rockies was the huge amount of wildlife I saw. An excellent book for identifying the various animals one can see in this area is ‘Handbook of the Canadian Rockies‘ by Ben Gadd. I got this book in Jasper, but it seems to be hard to purchase in the UK. The book also has excellent information about the geology, ecology and history of the area, and was well worth buying.

Here’s a list of of the sightings I had.

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Posted by & filed under Travel, June 18 2007.

During my trip to the Canadian Rockies, the weather was all over the place and unpredictable – very Scottish in fact. This winter’s snowfall was larger than normal, but when Lesley and I arrived, western Canada was having an unseasonal heatwave. We got five days of this glorious weather, but for the rest of the trip there was a lot of rain, some of it in large thunderstorms. British Columbia had severe flooding problems and Edmonton experienced damaging hailstorms and at least one tornado. The town of Canmore was on a flooding emergency alert.

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