Category Archives: Off topic

Computer Aid cycle ride

My brave (and crazy) friends Jane Lewis, and Beatrice Nicolini have taken on a massive challenge which will take place later this year.

  She’s taking part in a charity bike ride in Madagascar for computer aid international – which aims to provide refurbished PC’s to schools across the developing world – a really worthy cause.  Several Premier Field Engineers from across Europe will go on a cycle ride for 5 days in the north east of the island.

This ride builds on the success of Computer Aid International’s first cycle challenge in Kenya in 2007 and the popular Cuba Cycle Challenge in 2008.

The £2,700 sponsorship that is raised is enough to provide an entire 20 PC lab to a disadvantaged school for the first time.  and at Microsoft, we match the amount of money received too.  So if you want to sponsor this, click on this link and hopefully manage to fund a couple of labs with much needed PC’s

So if you’d like to sponsor Jane, click this link – and help out with recycling those PC’s.

Sad thoughts about cars

I didn’t blog yesterday as I had a sad day.  I crashed my Trans Am on the way out of the airport and spun off the wet road into a ditch damaging all of the front and the rear quarter – fortunately I’m not too badly hurt, but I think the car may be a write off.  The problem is that 2001 Pontiac Trans Am body panels aren’t available in the UK and I’ve  searched on the web for some replacement panels but couldn’t find too many (If you have any links that will find me a rear quarter passenger side panel and rear lights, please let me have the link so I can fix my baby).

I was trying to distract myself today by trying to catch up with all of my RSS feeds and I found this fun post on Robyn’s blog.  I thought I’d do the test for a bit of fun and find out what sort of car I am…

I’m a Chevrolet Corvette!

You’re a classic – powerful, athletic, and competitive. You’re all about winning the race and getting the job done. While you have a practical everyday side, you get wild when anyone pushes your pedal. You hate to lose, but you hardly ever do.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Perhaps it could be my next car – if mine can’t be mended…

Much more scary than doing live demos

I get nervous enough when I’m on stage, demoing beta products – especially the first time I demo stuff live (remember all the problems I had when I demoed Exchange unified messaging to a live audience when there was lots of background noise).  But sometimes I like to get scared for fun.  Like roller coaster rides, horror movies and Stephen King novels.

But this is just scary. Really My legs were twitching and trembling the whole time I watched this video.  The man is totally mad!

So I did a little bit of research on the Camino Del Rey. Thanks to Wikipedia and discovered that mad souls have been walking this highway for over 100 years now.  Even though the government has closed the road 8 years ago, people still walk the walk.  Aargh!

I think I’ll stick to demos – they seem rather safe after seeing this…

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Love, Chaos and Dinner

I had a really bizarre experience last night with 15 other IT Pro’s from around the world.  The IT Pro role owner Orlando, invited us to join him for dinner at Teatro ZinZanni in Seattle (close to the Space Needle).


Hmm, I thought.  I don’t really fancy Italian food for dinner, but in the absence of any better offer, I tagged along with a few of my Evangelist colleagues from around the world (photos below).  And I was totally stunned with the experience.


This little video doesn’t do it justice at all.  It was a totally amazing dining experience.  And the food was fantastic too!

We’re not good at superlatives in the UK, we’re quite underwhelmed by most things.  We don’t do the high fives, shout “woohoo!” or anything like that when we’re out.


But this show was totally AWESOME.  Totally. To see all of the diners leave their food to get up and dance in the aisles was amazing.  Watching the acts, the acrobats, the singers, the jugglers, the waiters running in with the food.  I’m still trying to work out how best to explain this to everyone who asks me where I went. But I can’t.

Now if only evangelism had the same effect on our audience – what a WOW that would make!…

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Your 6 word memoir

Now I’ve just got to share this with you to muse over the weekend.

I’ve been catching up on our internal social alias – where you can buy everything from a slightly used sofa, find a roofer in the Reading area, sort out your tax form woes or have fun commenting on the oddities of life.

Here’s today’s “Friday thread” (the fun thread that gets everyone commenting and engaged)

John told us: “There’s a website based on Ernest Hemmingway’s bet-winning 6 word story, “For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn”. 

John’s favourite was “Objects were closer than they appeared” whilst I loved:

“can I breathe underwater? uh-oh…”


So I’ve been musing about my own 6 word memoir:

“Loved lots. Giggled lots. Need more time”

(once you start thinking about it you’ll think of loads)


First footing into 2008

Well the New Year has started and I’ve purposely not made any New Year resolutions as I’ll be disappointed when I fall by the wayside and fail to do all of those good things I’ve promised myself in the wine haze of midnight,   although having some time at home has given me enough free time to paint my fingernails and do other girly things that I never have time to do.  Perhaps I’ll resolve to spend more time relaxing in 2008 – let’s see how long that lasts eh? 🙂

I always like to be home on New years Eve to let the New Year in by first footing.  First footing is a tradition from the North of England (where I’m from) and from Scotland.   Just before midnight you have to open the back door (to let the old year out) and await the arrival of the first foot to let the New year in.  This year, my first foot was (supposed to be) my husband who had rushed round from the hot tub in the garden, to the front of the house to let the year in bearing gifts of a piece of coal (for warmth),a piece of cake (sustenance) and 20p (wealth) which joined the other gifts of money from years past on the picture rail.

The only problem is that when the door opened, he was usurped by Scooter the cat, coming in and looking rather pleased with herself.  ho hum – at least she’s dark grey – but not the tall dark stranger I’d been hoping for…

I do like the tradition in places like Ecuador and Columbia too.  To celebrate the New Year, families buy life-sized male dolls, which are dressed in a family member’s old clothing.  The burning of the so-called “Mr. Old Year” is a way to symbolically erase the pain of the past year, and to welcome the next year with a clean slate.  And in Denmark, it’s customary to hoard old, unwanted plates all year long. On New Year’s Eve, you head over to your friends’ houses, where you can smash the plates into their front doors. Yes, it sounds a bit destructive, but strange as it seems, the more broken plates you find on your doorstep in the morning, the more friends you have, according to local custom.

So whatever your custom in your part of the year to welcome the New Year in, I hope you had a happy New Year, and that 2008 brings you the answers to all of your technical problems.  May your cache never get dirty, may your restores be as perfect as your backups, and your auto save and previous versions always work when you need them.

Happy New Year!…

Reflecting and learning

It’s nice to work when the majority of the world are taking some time off – I can get time to catch up with bits and bobs, read those mails and look at the sites I’ve been meaning to look at for some time.  I found this site on Gimundo and thought it was worth sharing.  As we head towards the end of the year,  reflecting on things that have happened this year and planning for what we’d do better next year, this site has a list of things that people have learned.  here are a few of my favourites that have made me think:

 11. Mary Jane C 9/18/2007
I’ve learned that 99% of what I’ve ever worried about, never came to pass and all that worrying was for nothing….

69. Heidi S. Morgan 9/18/2007
…that letting go, and accepting is so much more enjoyable and peacemaking than having to stand my rigid ground in every small matter…

224. Debbie T 9/18/2007
to let go of grudges and bad feelings because they serve no other purpose than to spoil your own mood

260. Martina A 9/19/2007
I’ve learned that even the smallest act of kindness makes someone smile.

413. Brooks N. 9/20/2007
I’ve learned that those around us put a lot more weight on what you do than what you say in evaluation of your character.

420. Ann W 9/21/2007
I’ve learned that I should be myself – everyone else is taken.

425. Stefanie C. 9/21/2007
Let go of expectations – People do things for a reason, look at the obvious. Seek understanding first and the rest will follow.

598. Marilynn P. 9/28/2007
I’ve learned that a positive attitude will get you much further in life than a negative one.

624. Lola P 10/1/2007
I’ve learned that hanging on to the past won’t make my present better.

And what have I learned this year?

Everything happens for a reason – we just don’t know at the time what the reason might be.


I’ve also learned that people are much more important than email – so if you’re reading this outside of work hours, put the PC down and go and spend time with those people who really matter to you…

Christmas – the 9 day weekend…

Well everything is winding down for Christmas.  In the UK the roads have been jam packed all weekend with cars loaded with Christmas presents and extra duvets have been wending their way around the country to get to relatives.  Everyone tends to finish work early on Christmas Eve, and as Christmas Eve falls on a Monday (and we also get 26th December as a holiday in the UK), people generally won’t be coming back in to work till Thursday 27th.  Well that’s almost the weekend isn’t it?  Then, with new Years day falling on a Tuesday too, it’s reckoned that most of the country will be enjoying a 9 day break.  Unless you feel compelled to take your laptops with you on holiday, or work on Christmas Day itself.

So I’ll blog off now and wish you the very best of the festive season and if you’re thinking about reaching for yet another drink, try not to go outside.  Someone may just be there with a video camera…



I hope you have a really Happy Christmas anyway – beer or no beer.   🙂

Proving Turings computer


I’ve always been fascinated by unanswerable questions, and I’m totally convinced that there are answers and they must be somewhere.   Alan Turing, the father of the computer and the man who helped to break the enigma machine (ciphers) spent a lot of time working on the simple computational computer.  

Well the BBC have reported that a $25,000 maths prize has been awarded to a 20-year-old Birmingham University student in the UK.   Alex Smith worked the problem out in 5 weeks or so and who who has created the “simplest universal computer“.  This proves that Wolframs 2,3 Turings machine is universal.  Wow.  After 50 years without an answer too…

But I’m glad that they haven’t solved the 4 colour map problem yet – or worked out where all the missing socks go from the washing machine. we still need just a little bit of mystery in our lives…

Eurostar to Paris – from the loveliest station in the world

It’s not often I go on about architecture.  It passes me by most of the time.  I don’t often notice the lovely buildings around me when I’m wandering around London.   But getting to and coming back from Leicester yesterday took me through the newly refurbished St Pancras International station in London.  The refurbishment has been going on for a while now, turning the original dark dirty Victorian railway station which has been in use since 1868  into an international masterpiece of light and pale blue metal.  There’s even a replica of the original station clock hanging at the end of the arch.


With a 90 metre long champagne bar and the ability to hop off one of the trains from the Midlands and get straight on to the Eurostar is simple and stylish.  Paris Gare du Nord looks old and tired compared to St Pancras.  And I don’t think that even Grand Central station in New York comes anywhere close to this amazing place.  St Pancras has totally bowled me over on all counts.  Or are there any other beautiful stations that I’ve ignored of not yet seen?

So if you’re coming in from Paris to London, don’t fly.  Take the Eurostar for a change, come to St Pancras International and see what I’m talking about.  and hopefully you’ll be as amazed by St Pancras as I am.