All entries for October 2006

October 27, 2006

Back from South Africa

Follow-up to Off to South Africa from Kieran's blog

So, we got back from South Africa on Sunday afternoon. I’ve only just got around to uploading photos today, as I’ve been either too busy or too tired since then to do it.

South Africa 2006 gallery

I’m not going to write reams as the photos will tell the story…to sum up though:

  • Long but entertaining flights with Emirates…superb entertainment systems!
  • Great weather (mid 20s to 30C most of the time)
  • Free accommodation at my parents’s lovely house
  • Great food as the South Africans really know how to do good meat :)
  • Cheap, exchange rate is great at the moment (about R14 = £1)
  • Lots of time spent with the whole family who we don’t see often enough really now-a-days
  • A fantastic safari in Hluhluwe, staying at the great but wild Munyawaneni lodge

I was really pleased with my new camera as it helped me take much much better photos than I did last year. All of the pictures below and shrunk for upload, but otherwise unedited. I was particularly pleased with the zoom and low light performance of the camera as I wouldn’t have got half my shots on safari otherwise. I’ve only highlighted a few here, there are more in the gallery and a lot more (about 500) on my computer.

In Southbroom at my parents’s place

The view

Watching whales from the house

Tiro and Gina

South Africa 2006 13

Flying Tiro!

Vervet Monkey in the back garden

Me on a jetski!

Visting uSharka marine park

Dolphins

Steph and a shark

Turtle feeding time

On safari!

Croc and water monitor

Zebra running down the road

Elephants crossing

Rhino crossing

A lion pride stalking some rhino

Giraffe

My brother the bird spotter! :)

Game in the camp!

Being watched by lions

Zebra and birds

Hippo

Hyena

Goodbye


October 06, 2006

Off to South Africa

Well, in two hours time Steph and I will be in Birmingham Airport checking in on our first long flight to South Africa (via Dubai).

We’re gone for just over two weeks and will be staying with my parents in Southbroom, near Durban. I’ll be taking a load of pictures with my new camera, so I’ll upload those when I get back (if they’re any good).

It’s spring right now in South Africa so the weather’s going to be pretty mixed, some rain, but hopefully around 28oC.

Right, better go finish packing!


October 05, 2006

Files project dev server

Follow-up to Getting a project up and running from Kieran's blog

One of the important things to try and get ready as early as possible is a test/pre-production system that is fairly close to what you expect your live environment to be. This is so that you don’t spend the whole time developing on a single JBoss instance on a single processor Windows box with local storage and then deploy on a multi-processor, multi-JBoss and remote storage box and discover that nothing works!

We are now starting to run Solaris 10 which gives us the great Zones feature. Our sys admins have setup a zone on one of our new boxes that is a test/pre-prod environment for the files project. We’ll run something like this:

  • Single Apache 1.3x instance with HAProxy to load balance between the JBoss instances
  • Two JBoss instances both running live rather than a live and a standby
  • For now local storage, but eventually we’ll use our NetApp

The twin live JBoss instances means that our application will have to be completely stateless. This is a good thing for scalability, but it makes multi-step processes within the application a bit harder as we won’t have a session to store data in. This is usually not a problem for simple applications, but working on something like a mutli-step zip upload could be tricky.

The other advantage of having a test instance up and running is that you can start to point very early test users at it (rather than a local instance on your own machine). This gets you some good early feedback/ideas/bug-spotting.


October 02, 2006

New toy: Canon S3 IS

Writing about web page http://www.canon.co.uk/For_Home/Product_Finder/Cameras/Digital_Camera/PowerShot/PowerShot_S3_IS/

It’s my birthday in just over a month, but I’ve got my main present early this year :)

As we are off on holiday to visit my parents in South Africa in a few days time, Steph bought me the Canon S3 IS (bargin at £250 from Pixmania) to replace my aging Canon A40. I’ve not had much of a chance to play with it yet, but I’ll have loads of time on holiday. Only problem around the house is that poor Maggie is afraid of it :( I think there must be some high frequency sounds coming from it when the lense extends as she goes all pathetic whenver I turn the camera on (even if she can’t see it happening), poor thing.

The A40 went with me last year to South Africa on safari. It was ok, but I was very jealous of my Dad’s more up to date camera. So with this in mind, I decided it was time for an update. As DP Review puts it:

The PowerShot S3 IS features:

  • 12x optical zoom lens with USM and UD lens element
  • Optical Image Stabilizer
  • 6.0 Megapixel CCD
  • Larger size 2.0 Vari-angle LCD
  • 30fps VGA movies with stereo sound and Photo in Movie feature
  • DIGIC II, iSAPS and Flexizone AF/AE for fast, precise results and 2.3 fps continuous shooting performance
  • 20 shooting modes and My Colors photo effects
  • High ISO Auto and ISO 800 for low light flexibility
  • Widescreen (16:9) recording

Hopefully I can compete for the best photos this time around…at least I can’t blame the tools this time.


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