Day 4 – Vancouver to Osoyoos

Heheh, Osoyoos.

We’re on the road today after some delicious Holiday Inn Express sausage patties and cheesy omlette om nom nom.

Armed with the TomTom with Canadian maps we set off at just past 10am (we didn’t meet Aidan’s optimistic 9am start time!) with a 500km drive ahead of us, through some amazing views of little towns, mountains and trees. It’s still quite cloudy over here but you still get fantastic countryside views, with the tip of the mountains going into the clouds… And not to worry, the forecast for Osoyuss is 33 degrees and sunny!

We went up to about 3000 feet on a small detour to look at the view and the pictures are the only things to describe how amazing it is (Todays pictures here). Chipmunks running right up to your hand and feeding off it, and birds that were doing the same. We saw some other exciting wildlife too. Nothing could beat the fantastic views of the mountains though. You could see right into the U.S.

For the next 250kms it turned more and more deserty, more dust, and less and less people! We’ve ended up at a small hotel which is completly the opposite of our luxurious Holiday Inn stay; one bedroom with two double beds, and a kitchen/diner.

We had lunch at a place conveniently placed over the road, and now I’m sitting out the front of our place overlooking… A petrol station.. in order to use the free wireless 😉


Day 3 – Grouse Mountain

Today we embarked up the huge Grouse Mountain… An absolutely amazing view after going up a rather fun cable car, drifting up over the huge trees.

We spent most of the day there, watching fun things like a lumberjack show and grizzly bears 😀 they were rather cute, splashing around in the water.

The pictures are better here, available here

After that we went on a fun in-car trip around Downtown Vancouver, which was an odd experience, it was like nothing I’d ever seen before. We went to Chinatown too which was eye opening… The number of homeless people everywhere, it was like a different world.

The Vancouver fireworks, which I’m told used to be a quiet affair a few years ago, were on tonight… And even 4 hours before they were due to start the beach was packed! People everywhere, with their food and chairs ready for the wait. We decided not to bother in the end, with so many people everywhere. Got a glimpse of them on TV though, they looked pretty amazing

Also on the TV was Pemberton Festival, which are sponsering, and it looked pretty damn dusty! We were pretty close and had the oppurtunity of free tickets but it was very hot and they said anyone with allergies had a hell of a time, so I’m glad we didn’t bother!

For tea we headed out to Boston pizza, which was awesome, tasty platter for start, proper pizza and brownie for dessert. And glad to be back at the hotel at the end of another tiring day!

Day 2 – Vancouver: Kitsilano, Granville Island and Steveston

10pm to 8pm with no interruptions until Rosie woke me up. Rude! But I probably would’ve slept hours more without.

Ian and Sally, Aidan’s family were coming over from the island to go out for the day and we settled on going to Kitsilano Beach for a nice wander round the outside to Granville Island to the Public Market which had loads of amazing fresh food and every genre you could think of. Rosie and I ended up at the mexican and I had a fantastic soft taco, which we enjoyed outside looking over to the high rises of downtown Vancouver.

We then came over to Steveston had a wander and am now sitting outside “Totally Juiced” enjoying the free wifi to finally write my ramblings!

We had a wander around the shops, and had a nice early tea in Steveston. Back at the hotel nice and early as we’re all very tired! Bit of catching up with the web, Aid sorting out the pictures and watching High School Musical! Oh dear.

Day 1 – Heathrow to Vancouver

I’m trying to remember what I did on my 26 hour day but failing miserably!

Having never been on a plane (that I actually remember) it was a pretty exciting experience (which I’m sure sounds totally lame but hey). Very odd suddenly rising up off of the land… We had Aidan’s GPS set up (with an ingenious use of the belt clip on the window blind) so I was amazed as we blasted off to 250mph and then we left it running the whole journey, so we actually have a Google Earth export of the entire path we took (especially for my Dad!) as well as Geocoded photos as we went over the amazing views of Iceland and Greenland. It’s especially random when you think you’re going to go over Canada and see loads of things and towns everywhere.. But in actual fact you’re passing over a huge, empty expanse.

The actual plane ride was pretty fun. I had my iPod with a couple of films but in the end just listened to music and being very surprised by the constant supply of food and drink being provided in my direction!

We touched down and picked up the car, a Chrysler Town and Country which is absolutely HUGE! 7 very comfortable seats, aircon controls for the front (driver and passenger) and separate in the back, it’s like a tank. No need to even mention it’s a V8 auto.

It took me about 10 minutes of being in Canada to already be fascinated by the talking and the absolutely amazing views. Every direction is beautiful trees, mountains and on the plane you see these huge beautiful lakes.

We went straight to pick up Rosie and B from the Ferry, and then we went to Tim Hortons for lunch, my first experience interacting with a Canadian without assistance 😉 Which I didn’t do too badly, manage to order myself some lunch! The woman wasn’t too impressed with my complete confusion though (It was 1pm but of course I’d been up for 16 hours already)! Still trying to get used to the odd “we’ll give you a price but feel free to try and calculate the extra 12% or whatever on top of that price *confusion*!

After this we went to the beach and had a wander round, purchased an amazing Ben and Jerrys ice cream.. Like the “half baked” we have at home (Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Cookie Dough) only in ice cream bar form, way cool (people are teaching me Canadian woo!)

Time for the hotel, we pull up to this Holiday Inn Express slightly set off the road, looks brand new (turns out it’s only been open 3 months). It’s totally amazing how nice the Canadians are.. The woman explained where everything was, offered us freshly baked cookies, asked us how our flight was etc. at which point we went to the room… A fantastic 2 bedroom suite with a 28″ TV in each room, two huge beds, two bathrooms, kitchen with dishwasher, aircon in each room, but unfortunately no view of anything other than the car park!

After lounging around for a while we went just across the road to The Old Spaghetti Factory where again had amazing service.. the people are just so nice (at this point I’m still laughing at all the Canadianisms “For Sure!” the girl waiter said after every question). $12 buys you a “complete meal” as they put it.. A salad with your choice of dressing (delicious), garlic bread (delicious), Lasagne for me (delicious!) and then ice cream for desert (also delicious!) not bad for £7! At this point we were mostly falling asleep at the table.. Only 9pm local time but we’d been awake for 26 hours (and I’d only had 2 hours sleep the night before!) so back to the hotel for sleep, in a very comfy, absolutely huge king size bed in a lovely and beautifully air conditioned room, bliss.

Sitting at Heathrow

Well, nothing much interesting to write about so far. This whole experience is very new and odd.. the cool xray machines, huge planes landing right next to you and stuff like that. Sitting waiting for boarding now, it still hasn’t really occured to me I’m going to Canada, and I still have totally no idea what to expect.

When we got to the duty free section a guy outside Dixons was demonstrating this rather fancy new printer doohicky, the Polaroid Pogo. It’s a battery powered, very light very small device that you can bluetooth pictures and it prints them out instantly. I’ve seen things like the Canon Selphy before but this thing really is tiny, and it’s about £100, which is a pretty good price point considering. Very decent quality prints too, considering it prints them in about 30 seconds.

Anyway, more boring blog posts to come 🙂

Fruit Pastilles

I recently went into Tesco’s and saw Fruit Pastilles… It’d been a long while since I’d had those, and I was never allowed sweets or chocolate much as a child, and at 30p I thought it was a bargin. I also happened to be quite ill with manflu at this point, so was hoping they would cheer me up. So imagine my dismay when most of the sweets were the lemon or lime flavours! Eugh! Okay I like these, but come on, nothing can beat blackberry or strawberry! (If you follow my boring ramblings on Twitter you’d already know this far)…

So I decided, you know, this is the internet age, and after having my second packet with the majority of lemon and lime, I complained. The Nestle website made it very easy to do so, and even limited you to a silly number of characters so you couldn’t rant for ages. I didn’t really expect any response, let alone an interesting one but I arrived at my parents place this evening to find a letter from Nestle, woohoo! “Blah blah blah, very sorry, we know people have favourites so we try and evenly distribute, some must’ve slipped through, blah blah” but the best bit, a cheque for £2! Woohoo! Do you know how many packets I could buy for £2?! 6.6! 😀

Hopefully with over 6 packets, I should finally be able to enjoy lots of non crappy flavours! Thanks Nestle! Beta – Yay!

So we launched a super exciting new beta today.. It’s not very finished, and it’s going to get a lot better, but I’m very excited and here are some quick reasons why.

  1. Activity feeds. For me, I can remember what I shouted, who i added as my friend, what forum posts I made, and more. For my friends, the same, and I can see what’s going on with them. For any other resource: interesting stuff that people have done. Simple but so effectively because its live.
  2. Live updating charts. This makes me happy, because the charts look more like Audioscrobbler ones, and not only that they update every single damn play. Yay!  Every single play means something new to look at!
  3. Notifications. Easy way to see shoutbox posts and other stuff, other than checking my email.
  4. On the fly recommendations. Again, live updating goodness. No need to explain that!
  5. Library. Big, shiny, pretty view of everything you ever played. And finally you can delete that stuff you thought “jesus, why did I play that”? Apparently I listened to 50 cent! I never realised!
  6. Loved Tracks. They’re finally useful! Remember those tracks you loved but you never remembered because we didn’t have them streamable.
  7. The design. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but I think it’s looking pretty nice. Much more up to date than it was before, but it’s got a little way to go.

There are tonnes more awesome stuff going on, and more stuff to be tweaked, improved on, and cool stuff to be added, we’re not done yet! But it’s 11:30 and I’m not exactly sober. Goodnight!

Automatic Bluetooth Sync for Windows Mobile 6

My housemate dragged out his old Windows Mobile 2003 PocketPC and got it all hooked up for ActiveSync to our corporate mail server, and whilst doing it he found this awesome hack that lets you assign a single button to a) connect the bluetooth port and b) start an ActiveSync.

Handy, I thought, since at the moment with my Vista laptop and Windows Mobile 6 device you have to open the ActiveSync application and then right menu then “Connect using Bluetooth…”

I failed on the first step, however, when if you go to Menu in ActiveSync on WM6, then connections, you can only choose to automatically connect to “`USB”, not Bluetooth. D’oh! So the “replog.exe” hack kinda worked.. It was triggering ActiveSync but it wasn’t really sure what do. I tried editing the registry key (HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ControlPanel\Comm) to “`BlueToothActiveSync” which is how it worked on WM2003 to no avail.

After some Googling I found HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Comm\Rasbook.. A list of all your connections. And in there, voila, the name of my laptop. Windows Mobile 6 obviously handles it slightly differently and allows many different Bluetooth AS connections. I gave it a shot, and changed HKCU\ControlPanel\Comm\Cnct to the name of my laptop, and voila! It started the Bluetooth port, and then start the ActiveSync. The only thing is doesn’t do is disconnect again, which it does on WM2003, but no matter; it’s not too bad hitting the disconnect button 🙂

On a completly seperate note, I wish the rain would go away. I don’t like getting soaked walking to and from work! 🙁

IRC and BES and You

I got this wonderful Blackberry device courtesy of work, since I’m on call and people want emails answering quickly etc, etc.

The miracle of BIM and Google Talk is fantastic.. lots of ways to talk to my fellow operations coworkers, but there was something missing. We use good old IRC at to communicate, so when something goes a bit wrong its nice to be able to jump in and see what’s gone on (or whether no one is fixing anything and its up to you..!)

On a first search there was plenty of good IRC clients around. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any to work… They just said disconnected from server. Using MidpSSH I telnet’d to the server and got a connection refused.. Then I changed the connection method to “TCP” and it worked fine. Great! But no such option exists in any IRC client (Mobilirc is the best one at the moment it seems).

So, the BES won’t forward the traffic, the BES isn’t even managed by us, and both apps are open source. Let’s delve into the code!

else if ( spec.blackberryConnType == SessionSpec.BLACKBERRY_CONN_TYPE_DEVICESIDE ) {

References to “deviceside”… basically it proxies via the BES, so that’s deviceside=false, which is the default if not specified. Funnily enough. Mobilirc doesn’t specifiy this, so I jump in and add the line, so it now looks like this:

connector = (StreamConnection)“socket://” + host + “:” + port + “;deviceside=true”, Connector.READ_WRITE);

After a couple of hours of trying to get the Blackberry Development Environment working for me, I managed to get a .jar, .jad, .alx, .cod, and using javaload, got it on my device and SUCCESS! IRC running, backgrounded, highlights, always on. Hurrah!

I don’t know if this affects anyone, or if anyone else really cares, but if you do, let me know and I’ll send you the stuff. At least we’re happy now 😉 and I’m happy that I still vaguely understand Java! 😀