Posted by & filed under Music, Personal, April 21 2007.

Last Wednesday, Lesley, Ali and I went through to Glasgow for the evening to see Porcupine Tree at the ABC venue. Lesley has also written about the gig on her blog here. Porcupine tree are an amazing band, playing what could be described as contemporary prog rock, but with a very heavy guitar sound. They have just released a new album, Fear of a Blank Planet, which they played all the songs from at the gig.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Mountains & hills, Music, Personal, Travel, April 19 2007.

On Saturday I went to see Maiden Scotland, an Iron Maiden tribute band with Lesley at the Studio 24 venue in Edinburgh. She has written about it on her blog here. It was a good gig with some great Iron Maiden tracks played the way they should be, and Maiden Scotland really sounded good. The singer particularly brought the screaming Bruce Dickinson vocals off well. I really recommend that any Maiden fan goes to see them play. Standout tracks for me were Fear of the Dark and Phantom of the Opera.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under IT & the Internet, Personal, April 19 2007.

Ever since January 2003, I have used the services of Pickaweb Internet Services to host my website, but a few days ago experienced such poor service that I immediately cancelled my account with them. The behaviour of their technical and sales support would be comical if it wasn’t for the fact that it was me that was on the receiving end and I wasn’t actually giving them my money.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under IT & the Internet, Mountains & hills, Personal, April 9 2007.

Ever since I can remember, the Ordnance Survey (the OS; the National Mapping Agency of Great Britain) maps (particularly the Landranger 1:50 000 scale maps) have been the passport to many things that I do in my spare time: from cycling through cities to driving through countryside, they have been, and remain, invaluable and as important an item of equipment to me as a waterproof jacket or a compass. I have used them to carry out practical navigation in the field (night-time military exercises, winter walking across mountains in whiteout conditions) and to learn map-reading and cartography skills in the classroom.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under IT & the Internet, Travel, April 4 2007.

On Monday I travelled to Cambridge University to attend the ‘Google Earth and other geobrowsing tools in the environmental sciences workshop‘, organised by NIEeS and ReSC. The workshop consisted of one day of presentations and one day of practical sessions. I only attended the first day, which entailed an early morning easyJet flight to Stansted, and then a late evening flight back to Edinburgh.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Mountains & hills, Music, Personal, Travel, April 4 2007.

Last Saturday (as well as moving flat) I went to the Glasgow SECC to see the The Australian Pink Floyd (a Pink Floyd tribute band) with Lesley. We’ve seen this band once before, and they’re probably the closest that you can get to seeing the real thing live, so closely do they recreate the sound and stage show. Highlights for me were seeing the The Gunner’s Dream (from the Final Cut album), and a section of the Animals album performed, and an inflatable pig and kangaroo(!). Lesley has also blogged about the show here.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Mountains & hills, Travel, April 4 2007.

On Thursday last week, I climbed the 879m summit of Creag Uchdag with Chris, a colleague from work. Both of us have climbed all the larger and more well-known summits near Edinburgh, so we decided to climb something a bit more out of the way. The weather forecast was also not that great, and a less ambitious walk than we had orginally planned seemed like a good Idea. More anonymous and smaller hills are also free of the hordes of Munro-baggers that congregate on other hills, so we were guaranteed a peaceful walk.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Mountains & hills, Travel, March 23 2007.

Yesterday I walked to the 1008m summit of Beinn Dearg, near Blair Atholl (photographs here). It was a very long walk, just over 30km and took me about 9 hours. A long walk like this, to reach a remote Munro summit, would normally be quite difficult this early in the year, but the weather was so settled, the snow cover so patchy, and the paths so good, that it was a fairly straightforward if tiring walk. I managed to get back to my car just before sunset too.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Mountains & hills, Science, March 21 2007.

The answer to this is unquestionably yes. I’ve been walking in the Scottish mountains regularly since 1993 and in that time I have noticed a definite change in the mountain environment, specifically the conditions in the winter months. Since about the year 2000, the number of trips during the winter months where I have needed to use my ice-axe and crampons to get to the summit of a mountain seems to have reduced noticeably. This is not only due to decreased snowfall and higher temperatures, but also because several of the winters in recent years have had spells where a major thaw has occured, and it has become possible to walk to altitudes of 1000 metres and higher and encounter no snow or ice at any month of the year. This happened when I climbed Ben Starav in February recently.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Books, Personal, Science, March 18 2007.

My previous posting, ‘Is global warming really caused by human activity‘ caused some debate, notably on the Scran Scribble discussion forum. The television documentary that prompted my posting has also generated a lot of discussion, and the blog of the science journalist Ben Goldacre (who writes for the Guardian) contains a good sampling of the debate and gives one a flavour of the many issues surrounding this topic.

Read more »