by Geoff Taylor
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ADO.NET ConnTest A simple, free Windows program to test ADO.NET connection strings.

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XmlTools Free tools to process XML files from the command line.

Ram’s Island isn’t even big enough to merit a name label on Google Maps (even if you zoom in!)

View Larger Map

Still, on Saturday we traipsed off there to take part in a de-littering. There are already a bunch of pics up on the official Ram’s Island site about the event.

I like the way they’re trying to turn the island into a wildlife reserve. There’s no in-your-face environmentalism or conservation, just a bunch of folks trying to make that bit of the world a better place.

It’s only a small island, but there was a lot of litter washed up from the recent floods (and a huge number of spent shotgun shells). I think we managed to make a big difference on the day, but we probably need another one to tackle the bits of the island we didn’t get to last time… If you want to join in, let me know.

Posted by 'geoff' on Monday, 08 February 2010. No comments.

You probably couldn’t give a monkey’s about such things, but SWMBO and I went for a walk around Glenariff Forest Park on Friday and I used my phone’s GPS to trace the path. Here’s where we walked:

It may not look like much in the map, but it’s a beautiful bit of the country.

As a side note, even though we took a brief detour, we did the 8.9km walk in only 8.7km. Our next job is to do the Kessel Run in less than ‘less than 12 parsecs’.

Posted by 'geoff' on Monday, 08 February 2010. No comments.

Just over a week ago, I ran my first public 5k. With other people! I still find 5k tough going, and I’ve only run beside another runner once (and that was only about 3k), so it was quite an experience.

I thought I’d beaten my fastest 5k time because RunKeeper pinged the 5k alert at 33 minutes 40 seconds. (Look, it’s a record for me, OK? I’m slow – I admit it.) Unfortunately, the iPhone’s flaky GPS had got a couple of points wrong, and it thought I’d run further than I had.

I edited the GPS track on RunKeeper’s web site (I love being able to do that!), and it tells me I did the 5k in 36 minutes 9 seconds, which isn’t my best. (The course was a bit easier than the one I did my fastest time on too!)

Still, it was a good experience, and it was fun seeing folks I’d only ‘seen’ on Twitter. And – most importantly – it raised a lot of money for charity. They’d hoped that the fun run and the music event would raise £20,000, but one week later it’s raised (so far) £40,819.79! Well done all!

Posted by 'geoff' on Monday, 08 February 2010. No comments.

It’s a fairly damning indictment of someone who has set up a system for playing poker via Twitter, but it looks like I’m just no good at poker.

I busted out of the 19th annual World Rec Gambling Poker Tournament (WRGPT19) in 674th place. That’s out of 1059 entrants. I’m not even in the top 50%!

Still, it’s better than last year, when I came 1029th, when I was eliminated in November. That was a bit embarrassing. At least this year I made it to January (and nearly February!) My best performance is still WRGPT15, where I came 72nd.

Here are my results from all the WRGPT tournaments I’ve participated in:

Tournament Year I Finished Out Of Elimination Date
WRGPT15 2005-2006
7th April 2006
WRGPT16 2006-2007
16th November 2006
WRGPT17 2007-2008
12th January 2008
WRGPT18 2008-2009
17th November 2008
WRGPT19 2009-2010
31st January 2010

(* That’s the number left in after the first hand, which is all the data I have).

My excuse is – this year I just didn’t get the cards. I know, I know, we all say that. This time though, I really felt the hole cards were against me, and I couldn’t get anything to play with. I was getting blinded out of the tournament, and everyone else’s stack was increasing. So I went all in pre-flop with suited AQ. I know it’s not the best possible hand to go all in with, but my options were limited and it really was the best hole cards I’d had in a long time.

I lost.

Ah well.

Here’s the log of the hand from the WRGPT server:

! Table c17, Hand 71, Day 77
! unn folds
! Pot right ($73325), flopping/dealing/drawing cards
! 3 players, 3 all in
! Flopped cards: 5s 8s 6s
! Flopped card: 7d
! Flopped card: 5c
|#|   Name                     |Bankroll| Action |Status|Pot#|Pot Size|
1|   Ed Kearns                |      0 |  25375 |all-in|  2 |  23150 |
2|D  skatesave                |      0 |  31450 |all-in|  1 |   6075 |
3|   Randy Collack            |  48650 |    500 |folded|    |        |
4|   ksbigfoot                | 121000 |    900 |folded|    |        |
5|   Marc Rind                |  29500 |    100 |folded|    |        |
6|   ncvandy                  |  32950 |    100 |folded|    |        |
7|   OpinionatedGeek          |      0 |  13800 |all-in|  3 |  44100 |
8|   erich                    |  25875 |    100 |folded|    |        |
9|>  unn                      |  81750 |    900 |folded|    |        |
10|   Puddy                    |  33500 |    100 |folded|    |        |
! History of this hand:
! 01/28/10 20:19:21! Dealing a new hand
! 01/28/10 20:19:21! Everyone antes $100
! 01/28/10 20:19:21! Randy Collack blinds $400
! 01/28/10 20:19:21! ksbigfoot blinds $800
! 01/28/10 21:28:15! Marc Rind folds
! 01/29/10 07:07:10! ncvandy folds
! 01/29/10 07:17:34! OpinionatedGeek calls
! 01/29/10 07:17:34! erich folds
! 01/29/10 07:36:22! unn calls
! 01/29/10 07:53:29! Puddy folds
! 01/29/10 08:55:57! Ed Kearns raises $24475 and is all in
! 01/29/10 10:10:53! skatesave raises $6075 and is all in
! 01/29/10 10:10:53! Randy Collack folds
! 01/29/10 10:10:53! ksbigfoot folds
! 01/31/10 09:50:11! OpinionatedGeek calls - side pot
! 01/31/10 13:31:39! unn folds
! 01/31/10 13:31:39! Pot right ($73325), flopping/dealing/drawing cards
! 01/31/10 13:31:39! 3 players, 3 all in
! 01/31/10 13:31:39! Flopped cards: 5s 8s 6s
! 01/31/10 13:31:39! Flopped card: 7d
! 01/31/10 13:31:39! Flopped card: 5c
! Hand over, current board is:  5s 8s 6s 7d 5c
! Ed Kearns                has: 8d 8c
! skatesave                has: Ks Kc
! OpinionatedGeek          has: Ah Qh
! Pot 1: uncalled $6075 returned to skatesave
! Pot 2: Ed Kearns wins $23150 with Full House (8 8 8 5 5)
! Pot 3: Ed Kearns wins $44100 with Full House (8 8 8 5 5)
|#|   Name                     |Bankroll| Action |Status|Pot#|Pot Size|
1|   Ed Kearns                |  67250 |        |      |    |        |
2|   skatesave                |   6075 |        |      |    |        |
3|D  Randy Collack            |  48650 |        |      |    |        |
4|   ksbigfoot                | 121000 |        |      |    |        |
5|   Marc Rind                |  29500 |        |      |    |        |
6|   ncvandy                  |  32950 |        |      |    |        |
8|   erich                    |  25875 |        |      |    |        |
9|>  unn                      |  81750 |        |      |    |        |
10|   Puddy                    |  33500 |        |      |    |        |
! OpinionatedGeek is eliminated!
! 673 players left in the tournament, 0 tables down to six players
! A new hand will be dealt shortly



Posted by 'geoff' on Sunday, 07 February 2010. No comments.

Last weekend I managed to persuade Tall Paul to take a photo of my razor, ‘The Birkbeck’:

I’ve no idea if it’s a particularly rare specimen, but I can’t find any information out about it on t’internet.  All I really know is that the manufacturer – Joseph Rodgers and Sons of Sheffield (‘Cutlers To Their Majesties’) - were in business from 1682 to 1971.

I’ve now put up some details of the razor itself on Straight Razor Place’s razor database.

Update: Forgot to mention that the razor cost me £1.04 on Ebay.  Bargain!

Posted by 'geoff' on Monday, 03 August 2009. No comments.

Yesterday SWMBO and I went on a walking tour of Belfast.  This is the sort of thing tourists normally do, but this particular tour was about some of the archaeological digs that have taken place around Belfast city centre and what has been uncovered.  Most folks on the tour were from Norn Iron, finding out more about their own city.

It didn’t stop everyone else from treating the tour group like we were tourists, mind you!

The tour itself was taken by Ruairi O`Baoill, who is a Real, Honest To Goodness archaeologist.  He worked on many of the digs he was telling us about, which meant he could give lots of interesting details (like the trepanation training in Skipper Street, on the other side of the road from The Spaniard).

This is the route we took (although I’m dubious about the doyble after Pottinger’s Entry – I think the GPS got a bit confused).

Here’s some more info from the Beeb on the Hidden History tour.  It’s free, and they’re running more in July.

Posted by 'geoff' on Thursday, 25 June 2009. No comments.

It has been a bit quiet here lately, but that’s mostly because I’ve been busy, away, or doing other stuff.  Here’s one of the ‘other stuff’.

Sunday was the summer solstice, and the good folks at Lagan Valley Regional Park organised a walk and talk at the Giant’s Ring, a 200m-diameter henge monument in Belfast.

Here’s the route the walk took (plus a wee dander around after the end of the talk), courtesy of TrailGuru:

Posted by 'geoff' on Wednesday, 24 June 2009. No comments.

Yesterday we went on Lagan Valley Park’s “Of Mottes And Men” organised walk (warning: link goes to page where you can download the PDF).  It was a lot more fun than I’d expected.  SWMBO is into all sorts of stone-age stuff, but it’s not really my kind of thing.  I go along to these things anyway, just to make sure SWMBO doesn’t get into any mischief.

These events are usually fun though – they take you around some of the sights in the many Belfast parks, and they tell you a bit about the history.  We went on one before, but the weather scuppered a lot of the plans and it was cut short.

The weather was good to us this time, and we covered about 4 miles on foot through 3 adjoined parks:

The highlight (for me, at least) was seeing (and touching) Ireland’s oldest tree.  Getting up close with the ancient oaks in Belvoir Park was fun – those old oak trees really are gorgeous, and hearing about how they came to be there was fascinating.

Oh, yeah, the mottes and raths were fun too.  But the trees were the best bit.

Posted by 'geoff' on Sunday, 24 May 2009. No comments.

I read Peter Temple’s book “The Investor’s Toolbox” over two years ago now.  I wasn’t too impressed with it at the time, because it was a fairly shallow book that featured lots of intrusive adverts.  I thought (and continue to think) that books, unlike magazines, are bought on the assumption that they’re not subsidised by adverts, and selling a fairly expensive book with adverts in it is Just Wrong.

So I sniggered a little last week when I read in MoneyWeek that Peter Temple’s “income portfolio” on Interactive Investor is down 73.4% since it launched in April 2002.

Does that make me a bad person?

Posted by 'geoff' on Thursday, 19 March 2009. No comments.

We had a bit of stormy weather last night, and the big tree in our cul-de-sac blew over.

The only damage was to the street light – the cars that are often parked there weren’t there last night, which is a good thing for the owners.

The most distressing thing was for the wood pigeons that had nested in the tree.  When we were out last night examining the tree (well, making sure it wasn’t going to fly off into one of our houses), there was a curfuffle and we spotted a pigeon sitting on a branch in the now-fallen tree.

I don’t know if the pigeon was in shock (it wouldn’t surprise me – his whole home had just come crashing down), but he just sat there.  We shone a torch on him and he didn’t move.  Didn’t even blink.  Jiggling the tree didn’t disturb him.  He just sat there.

I wondered if he was still asleep.  I’m not quite sure how he could have slept through the tree falling, but I don’t know very much about wood pigeon sleeping habits.

There was no sign of his mate, which was a little worrying, and the fact that he was sitting there about three inches off the ground (well within the reach of predators) was also disturbing.

This morning I spotted both wood pigeons flying around the tree, so both of them seem to have survived OK.  At least I hope they’re the same pigeons…

Posted by 'geoff' on Sunday, 08 March 2009. No comments.
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