This blog is going to have surfing, snowboarding, tech stuff and maybe some 'meaning of life' stuff if I'm feeling particularly stoked.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Wi Fi

To be honest I wasn't sure how many wi-fi hotspots there were in Northern Ireland, but I found an Irish hotspot directory on the blog site of a US journalist living in Dublin. It didn't make good reading, nine in total, if you don't count the one in Waterford which definitely wasn't part of Northern Ireland when I left but I haven't been keeping a close eye on the peace talks (apparently the DUP have improved their negotiation skills so who knows)!

To contrast this I did a quick search for hotspots in Seattle and found 203 which I think is a pretty conservative list to be honest, it seems like everywhere in this city has internet access.
I'm blogging this from a Starbucks in Kirkland while I'm waiting for my car to be fixed (I know I just bought it, don't ask).

Anyway, I realize the security implications of 802.11 but it's just so convenient!

Are there enough places in Belfast where people "hang out" to make hotspots viable? I suppose the obvious place for them in NI would be in the pubs but I can't see anyone pulling out a laptop in Laverys unless they wanted it wrapped round their head!

I've now been in Starbucks for over 4 hours, I expect I would have been thrown out, or at least glared out, if I'd sat in any place in Belfast for that length of time; here it's actively encouraged.

I suppose pubs are Irelands "third place" but I can't help thinking that the coffee shop (Seattle) or cafe (mainland Europe) is just a much better third place.

Too much time on my hands I suppose.


Sunday, January 23, 2005

Back on Track

We're starting to feel a little more settled here in Seattle, we've now got a house and a vehicle and hopefully there's not too much to do next week but hang out and check out a few more of the old haunts.

We're going to see Kings of Leon on Tuesday night at Neumos, a new venue since we were here last and next Monday I'm starting work!

Snow has deteriorated substantially this week with high temperatures (18 C on Thursday) and rain. Stevens & Snowqualmie are both closed, Crystal is just about operational and even the legendary Banked Slalom at Mt Baker has had to be postponed to April.

Still, we've got a weekend in Whistler booked for mid-February so that's something to look forward to.

Hopefully this post sees me back on the blogging track although I think I'm maybe a bit disheartened to find that everyone in Seattle wants to be a writer, and quite a few already are!

Saw Million Dollar Baby tonight, didn't think it would be my cup of tea but have to say it was a great movie, oscar material for sure.


PS I tried to post some of my own pictures using Hello but it seems to still have a few rough edges, hope I don't have to switch to MSN Spaces!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Withdrawal Symptoms

Getting things set up here in Seattle is helping to take my mind off it, but there's no avoiding the fact that I'm missing the best waves the North Coast of Ireland has seen for a decade. Match that with one of the worst snow seasons in recent years, here in the Pacific NorthWest and you've got a recipe for one depressed Seattle Surfer.

However I can't really complain, the transatlantic move has been going pretty well so far, Gina is moving from the nauseous/irritable phase of pregnancy into the hungry/randy phase and I've just bought a brand new digital camera.

That third blessing has nothing to do with the second by the way!

So, this week we got a house, bank account and social security numbers. Next week we need to get a vehicle, some furniture and a job for Gina.

As soon as that's done we're heading for the mountains!

One more thing, I bought an interesting little book at the Crossroads news stand this evening, it's called Microsoft in the Mirror and it's published by a small local (Redmond) publisher. Basically it's 18 first person accounts of life inside the Empire and I think the minimal editing/production is the books great strength.


Friday, January 14, 2005

Code Complete

We spent all afternoon in Borders book store in Bellevue. I had forgotten just how huge & comfortable US bookstores can be. While Irish booksellers actively discourage people from sitting around reading books, in the US this is encouraged with comfy chairs, large tables and in-store coffee shops. I think the logic at home must be: "well if they sit around reading the books for free, they'll never buy anything" but this is so short-sighted and couldn't be further from the truth. While I did spend half an hour reading "Buying a Second Hand Car" books which I had no intention of buying and perusing all the latest surf magazines I also purchased "Caught Inside" by Daniel Duane, MSDN February edition and Code Complete, the second edition, by Steve McConnell. Gina also had to persuade me to leave at least two other books back!

Anyway this isn't about US retailing, it's about a great book which was overdue an updated second edition. The original "Code Complete" was published over 10 years ago and a personal copy was given to every new hire in the company I worked for as a placement student (and subsequently joined as a graduate). The book is on many peoples list of software engineering "classic" titles along with the likes of Knuths Art of Programming and Design Patterns by the gang of four. Unfortunately, as good as the book was, it really was in need of an overhaul in the light of many new (it's been 10 years remember) software development trends such as web development, agile methods and collaborative construction. It looks like it has got all this and more while retaining the very practical tone of the original.

Haven't read much of the book yet but from looking at the reviews on Amazon I reckon it will be just as good as the first edition.

Note to anyone reading from my old workplace back in Belfast: What about buying a personal copy of this book for new starts as part of their induction?

The snowboards have finally turned up, they were delivered by British Airways courier tonight. Maybe some riding next week if we get the forecast dump of snow which is badly needed.


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Arriving's Tough

Well, the Seattle Surfer is now actually blogging from Seattle.

Gina and I arrived here on Monday evening after a (luckily) pretty uneventful flight. We lost a couple of bags along the way but that was a fairly insignificant hiccup given the worries we had about Gina flying long-haul while pregnant. British Airways doled out the compensation cash straight away which also helped.

We're holed up right in the middle of the Microsoft campus, staying in a friends apartment in Redmond, while they are back in Ireland. While this area is very convenient to the major tech employers it has absolutely no soul and neither Gina or myself could imagine spending a minute of our free time here. We've spent the last couple of days hanging out around our old neighbourhood of Fremont and looking for an apartment/house in that general vicinity.

The weather has been cold but dry, clear and sunny, perfect NorthWest Winter days. The Cascades have had some trouble with snow lately, a warm December melted away alot of the base pack, but all resorts are open and Mt. Baker has been an anomaly with a 62 inch base. No snowboarding yet, our snowboard bag was one of the bags lost, but to be honest we need to get the basics sorted first.

In that regard we have procurred social security numbers, a bank account and a mobile phone. Our next priority is accomodation, then transport. We have looked at a very nice apartment in Fremont (big money) and we are looking at a beautiful house in Wallingford tomorrow. We're driving around in a rented Chrysler PT Cruiser (yuk!) and haven't seen anything for sale privately yet. Hope we don't have to go to the dealers, not even sure what we want yet.

OK, that's everyone up to date with what we're up to in Seattle, please leave some comments as to what you're up to in Belfast/Anywhere.


Friday, January 07, 2005

Leaving's Tough

Today was my last day working for the HBOS E-Commerce Development Centre in Belfast.

It was difficult to say goodbye to such a great bunch of people but I very much hope that if we return to Belfast maybe I will get the opportunity to work with them all again.

Leaving's tough but I've got to put the Seattle into the "Seattle Surfer" so thanks to everyone (especially the Sainsburys team) and good luck for 2005.


Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Photo Torture

I haven't been able to surf since New Years Day for personal reasons (not much blogging either) but the North Coast continues to serve up epic conditions and what's worse, Andy Hill of Troggs is photographing every bit of it.

He said he took 620 pictures yesterday! Some of them are here.


Saturday, January 01, 2005

Hello '05

2005 has picked up exactly where 2004 left off with heaving barrels on East Strand.

My New Years Resolution is to post more tech in 2005. Being in Seattle should certainly mean a reduction in surf posts!

Will they be replaced by snow posts? Maybe.