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Archive for May, 2007

IMG_7300 We got home last night from Paris, the whole trip was amazing, the first part of the week I spent out at TLE in Disneyland, and the second part of the week, Michelle came over and we spent the weekend, and our anniversary exploring Paris.

The week started very very hot, and it was only really the Sunday and Monday that was wet, we walked over Michelle’s favourite bridge; the Pont Alexander III bridge, and then headed back there on the Monday after giving up on trying to get up the Eiffel Tower.

Monday was probably the most important day I’ve had in my life, lots of things have come and gone in my life, people have passed by, some have stayed and some have gone, good and bad things have happened, but just before Christmas 2005 I met someone who would change my life forever, and most definitely for the better, and someone who I wished to spend the rest of my life with.

Michelle and myself started going out on January 28th 2006, and around September 2008 she will become my wife. Michelle is my closest friend, my soul mate, my confident and advisor, the woman I love, and on the 28th May 2007, the woman, under Pont Alexander III who I asked to marry me.. Thankfully she said yes, and all my fears and worries about the day vanished..

There’s little more I can say, other than she is singularly the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I am so glad she wants to spend the rest of her, and my, life together.. I am very lucky to have such a wonderful person in my life..

..and for the rest of the time we where in Paris… the large number of photographs we took are here

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IMG_2273Tonight, well actually tomorrow, is our anniversary, and since we fly back tomorrow night we thought we’d have a nice dinner out this evening instead. We’ve walked up to montmarte a few times in the last day or so and we’ve passed this restaurant a few times. OK so the photo is a windmill, but theres a restaurant under it; Moulin de la Galette, which apparently translates to windmill of the biscuit!!

I have quite a few other photos of the windmill, but the restaurant itself looks fabulous, and since dinner at the Eiffel Tower and cruise was fully booked for this evening. This option seemed to be just as good.

When it comes to eating, we’ve actually done our fair share this week, that and drinking the rose wines, there’s been quite a few afternoons and evenings that we’ve felt like we needed a long lay down and sleep following one or two many of the local wines..

Today was actually very very wet, It started raining just as we left the hotel, and required me to head back here to pick up a jacket, which thankfully check most of the rain off me. So todays sightseeing was mainly based round inside activities such as the Louvre, and the inside of the l’arch de triomphe.

I have so many photos to edit when I get back, that and geotagging them all so we know exactly where they were taken. I took a few HDR pictures as well, so it will be interesting to see how they come out.

I dont think I’ve enjoyed a few days away before as much as the last few days, and it makes a great change from the business of TLE at the start of the week.

One more day left, and half a two gigabyte compact flash card to go before we have to head back to England.

Tomorrow will be interesting, busy and nerve wrecking..

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Yesterday we did some exploring of Paris, TLE was quite exhausting (mainly the heat and the early and some late nights) so we didn’t actually get up until about 10am.

First stop of the day was Sacré Coeur, and as the weather was still very hot, it was a slow walk up from our hotel (along side the Moulin Rouge) to the top. I got some pretty good photos on the way up, although I’ve yet to geotag them and get them onto Flickr.

When we reached the top of montmartre the views were amazing, montmartre itself is gorgeous, like a small French village in the center of Paris with many winding alleyways, stone walls, and glimpses down streets over the city in the distance.

We met some friends at the steps of Sacré Coeur, although the definition of which set of steps was not quite clear!! Once we’d met up, we headed off towards the main part of montmarte to find a cafe soem some well earned and typically parisian food and the odd bottle or two of wine.

Obviously a bottle or two of wine on a sunny Friday afternoon meant that the walk back down Moulin Rouge.

Unfortunately Paris decided that it was time for one of the biggest and loudest thunderstorms I’ve seen for some time, It eased off slightly before we headed out, and our hotel was less than a minutes walk to the Moulin Rouge.

The Moulin Rouge is amazing, although they pack in lot of people for dinner (if you book as a couple, you will be sat next to at least one other couple) with table sizes ranging from 4 to 12. Cameras are not allowed inside the theater, so I reluctantly gave over my Cannon for safe keeping (thankfully it was only the Ixus 700 and not the 350D!) before being shown to our table.

The inside is a spectacle, set out as a mixture of theater and village square, with trees pushing up into the tented ceiling, the odd street lamp and house frontage, surrounding a dance floor and large stage. We got the chance to dance between meals to the band and singers before the stage extension silently slid out to cover the dance floor.

The show itself is fabulous, and excellent value at just over 2 hours (and no interval). I’m sure there is some reason why most of the girls are topless, although I cant think of any better misdirection than having 20 girls on stage naked from the waist up whilst a massive fish tank the size of the dance floor comes up through the floor filled with snakes and girls.

We sipped champagne though the show, and wandered back to our hotel at about midnight completely knackered…

Tomorrow we’re hoping to explorer the river and surrounding areas..

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So TLE is now over, and it was great, due to network issues I wasn’t on as much as I’d liked to have been blogging the sessions as I attended but thats another matter. I have a whole bunch of thoughts I’m going to post over the next week or so, both on my internal and external blogs.

I short I think I’ve gained a huge amount of new knowledge about IBM, in the ways employees work internally, who’s who and I’ve connected with a lot of new people, and attended some great sessions. It’s very hot out here, much hotter than I expected, and it’s fortunate that I decided to book tomorrow off for the long weekend to spend some time with Michelle in Paris.

Work blogging will need to wait a little while whilst we enjoy the sites of Paris, and unlike the TLE convention, wireless (free at that!) seems to work from my hotel overlooking the Moulin Rouge, which means I should be able to get our photos up onto flickr pretty quickly

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Great as Walt’s dream of the magical kingdom was, he obviously didn’t really envisage a bunch of techies trying to get onto wireless networks in the land of Micky.. Wireless access at the TLE as been pretty bad, and although I’ve not really needed it, it has meant that I’ve not been able to post as many blog entries as I wanted to from TLE.

The event itself is proving to be very useful, for me personally anyways. I’m not quite so keen on the 6:30am breakfast, but thats a small point. I started my TLE with the first session of the poster program. Mine seemed to go down well, I got alot of interest from people wanting to chat to me about the subject matter, bizarrely most of them seemed to be from GBS, It was nice to start linking up with some other areas of IBM, and trying to get them to understand what the Information Server was, and how it fitted with other aspects of the IBM portfolio

The Tuesday sessions that I attended where, for the most, very useful. I started with Jeremy Cohen’s session on changing your career in IBM. I decided to swap to this at the last minute, because I’d been talking with a few people here aboiut IT architect roles, and having been in the IT Specialist role for almost 10 years, I thought it might be nice to see what other areas I could explore. Jeremys session was great, a confident speaker, and his content was very interesting to me, a newbie in the real world of IBM. In particular he explained how his current role is to aid IBM’ers get to, or change their career through a number of new IBM tools. The first of these is the Careers Index, a portal to help ytou understand the career change requirements, availability and process. Also from the same place, there is the Advance Your Career site, both of these sites provide vital information if you’re thinking of moving in IBM, probably the most interesting of these seemed to be the ability to see statistics on career changes, such as what at the most popular migrations career wise (say IT specialists to IT Architect) and also areas of size, growth and shrinkage, for instance, the IT architect role is growing, and currently quite small compared to the number of IT Specialists. Once I get back next week I think this will be of great use..

The second session of the day was by Luis Suarez, now this was quite a bizarre networking round loop.I booked onto Luis’ session about social computing and improving your socal network through tools, and I then found his blog internally when I was searching for something completely different. I left Luis an email on his blog saying I was looking forward to his session, and he left me a reply, saying that he’d try and find my poster and have a chat with me. His session was very good, and this really proves the point of what he was talking about. I also know Andy Piper (virtually since we’ve never met), and Luis knows Andy (although Andy has never met Luis), after the session I spoke with Luis, and then bumped into Roo Reynolds, metaverse evangelist, who also knows Andy. He was talking to someone, who’d also been looking at some integration requirements, so by a round about route of blogs, and virtual buddies, I got to find a new contact in IBM that I could help out with my knowledge on something he had a need for..

But I digress slightly, Luis’ session was great, he was talking about the social computing aspects of IBM, in simple terms the tools such as Blogs, Wiki’s Media Library, eMeetings and Sametime. I, personally try and update both my internal, and external blogs as often as possible, sometimes with the same content, sometime with different content, but one thing I didnt see before that Luis pointed out, was that social computing is really about building up social capital. That is by sharing, blogging and committing to a socal community, you build interest and credibility in yourself, and allow others to feed you information, relate to you, and ultimately respect you and your opinions. The concept of sharing something via email, is a very limited (unless you’re emailing all of IBM) , publishing the same information on a blog, wiki or other social network can reach a much wider audience, most importantly people that you probably didnt either know existed, or you’d normally not contact. The other important aspect here is that we are talking communities,that is people with similar interests or needs, NOT you local team that you work in, the idea of a community is a free open, growing and dynamic group of people that are far outside your normal sphere of people you’d meet. I’m definitely going to be writing a bit more on this next week as I had quite a few good ideas from Luis’ session.

The last session yesterday was by Mandy Chessell, distinguished engineer and master innovator, her session was very interesting, and I was pleased to see that her recommended reading list consisted of all the books that I had ordered from the IBM Learning bookstore here on site earlier in the day. Mandy talked about how people resisted innovation, and how good ideas could die due to that resistance. She gave a very competent talk on how to help innovation and inventions within the business. This was very interesting as I’m currently in the process of putting forward my first patent for consideration by IBM, she also agreed to help me through that process, which I think will be very useful to me in many aspects.

I’ve also managed to do a fair bit of magic, both for people that know me, and (fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at it!) lots of people that I never knew before.. They seemed toi remember me, although I’m hoping thats for all the right reasons

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Seems the new plazes for bloggers arrived just in time.. from the first looks there seems to be some nice new functionallity in there.. mainly the ability to add future places into plazes, ala Dopplr, and the ability to trusted and non trusted contacts..

you can also put why you are, or will be at a location. there’s is also the concept of groups meaning that you can see and collect plazes into particular areas, for instance theres a group for Reboot 9, ..best of amsterdam(!) and geek gatherings. As there’s isnt a plazer yet for mac or windows to place you into the sneek preview, I dont know how plazes can be added to groups yet from SMS or the Plazer.

This release of plazes seems to be pretty good, it’s certainly more like what I thought Dopplr was going to be.. As well as the current and future logging of plazes, you can log past plazes as well..

Looking at your plazes allows you to pick a plaze, and decide if you’re here now, or plan to be or was there as well as adding to groups, or recommending to other plazes users (and for IBM’ers there is a IBM’ers group I set up!)

Plazes also seems to have mashed up a Twitter type interface in there as well from the looks of Fiahless’s profile… This looks like a really funky release, and once the extra missing bits (plazer, sms, sharing location on a flash map again) this will be a seriously nice bit of Web 2.0.. I guess the next few days will show..

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Well today is going to be quite nerve wracking.. It’s one of our friends wedding today, and somehow, I’ve managed to become the main photographer. It’s obviously my extensive knowledge of reading books on wedding photography that landed me the part!!

I believe I’m all planned, that is except the weather, although I have found some references to the art of ‘cloud busting’ in some old magic books, that is, the art of being able to disperse clouds at will.. well anything is worth a try!!

I have three lenses with me, the Standard 350D 18-55mm, a borrowed 24-85mm and my 75-300mm, the venue at The New Mill in Eversley looks great, and I have a shoot list ready for rain, or slightly less rain.. I’m working on the bride and groom formals first, then large groups, removing people to take it back down the the bride and groom again. I’m thinking this will ease the loosing auntie Flo in the toilets because she got bored waiting syndrome I’ve always seen at weddings..

My problem is whether to go semi automatic, or manual.. I’m airing on the side of Aperture override, hovering around f11 for the formals and then semi automatic for the non formal shots.. Time will tell I guess!!!

There’s nothing like pressure!!!

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24Hours

Today is 24 Hours of Flickr.. What happens around the world in one day? In a word, life.

Flickr is celebrating the global community by running “24 Hours of Flickr” today. A day-long global photo project; On May 5, 2007 in which they are encouraging you to grab your camera and whatever else you need, and chronicle your day in pictures.

The group’s photos will be featured at Flickr events around the world this summer and in a companion book, which will contain a selection of photographs chosen from the group

The “24 hours of Flickr” book will be published by Blurb, and If your photograph is selected for publication in the 24 hours of Flickr book, you will receive a copy

The book itself will be sold at cost (the amount will be available in the near future) with Flickr donating $1 for each book sold to Médecins Sans Frontières up to a total of $10,000 USD.

Join the “24 Hours of Flickr” group to get ready for the big day!

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I’ve long wanted a copy of the book ‘The Mind and Magic of David Berglas‘ unfortunately it was limited to just 1000 copies, and I didn’t manage to get one the first time round.. The book, written by David Britland, was described as the most eagerly-awaited book of the decade, three years in preparation, an enlightening account of over 50 years of miracles from the renowned, legendary man of mystery, David Berglas.

It talks about Berglas’ adventures on radio, television, in live shows, corporate shows, with stage illusions and consulting on major motion pictures, and his secrets. David Berglas techniques for his amazing phenomena, including his commercial Magic Square Routine, Newspaper Prediction, Blindfold Routine, ESPacology, chair Balance Routine, and many, many others. The remarkable Berglas effects, explained for the first time, including The Vanishing Piano in a ballroom, the Picture Post Challenge, the Box Over Regent Street, and The Ten shilling Note.

I was urged into looking for the book again when Genii magazine ran a full issues spread of Berglas this month.. With quite a lot of phone calls, and emails I managed to track down a copy in an auction house in New Jersey.. and given the current US to UK exchange rate.. I paid less than £150 for it..

Hopefully as long as the international couriers don’t lose it should be here within a week or so..

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