Sunday, July 20, 2008

Matt's Stag Night

As my best friend Matt's Best Man I had to organize his stag night. The first thing we did was go for a superb champagne flight on the London Eye. Not only did a couple of glasses of bubbly make the flight more decadent but the other advantage of a champagne flight is that you get to jump the long queue. Even better the long queue of people get to see you jumping the queue.

Next up it was a trip to the excellent Benihana Japanese restaurant in Piccadilly. This is great place to dine as they mix excellent surf and turf style cuisine with with what can only be described as a performance chef who practically juggles the food in front of you as he cooks it on your tables personal hot plate.

The over to the The Comedy Store for some fine stand up comedy. Finally we all piled back to my place. I take my Best Man duties very seriously so this is how I had prepared the fridge. Full of Lager, Guinness and Wine with just enough room left for sausages, bacon and eggs for a fry up in the morning. (And a bit of friable Halumi cheese because Jason is a filthy vegetarian).

Jason looking in remarkably good health despite being a vegetarian.

Alex starts off with a Guinness.

And then in a rather strange move for a stag night - we start playing chess!

Chess might seem an odd way to finish a stag night but as you can see - the stag enjoyed it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Matt Graduates as a Security Don

Completing any degree is hard work, but it is especially challenging when you are doing it in your spare time whilst also having a full time job. So I was very proud when my buddy Matt invited me to attend his graduation ceremony after gaining a distinction in his Masters degree in Information Security from Royal Holloway. Interestingly the degree is part of the school of mathematics rather than the school of computing. Here are Matt with his Mum, Dad and Fiance looking appropriately chuffed.

Time for the group photo. Matt is in the middle.

What could be more traditional that the Mortar Board (hat) throwing ceremony.

After spending 4 years earning his Masters, Matt decides to continue wearing his mortar board to the amusement of many passers by.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tom's Stag Night

For Tom's stag night his brothers Olly and Ben first arranged for us to got to the famous Ice Bar where you are provided with a very fetching smock, locked in a sub zero room and plied with vodka cocktails. An interesting experience.

Stag Tom sits on his ice throne.

Obviously being a stag night we had to have a couple of ales.

Olly and Ben had also provided fine Cuban cigars and champagne outside.

Al is no expert on smoking cigars.

Ports has got the idea.

Back at the pub Neil and Ian plot strippers (not really)

Olly and Ben congratulate themselves on being excellent Best Men who laid on a cracking stag night for their brother.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Gadget Overload

I love a gadget me. I mean I really do. The problem is that there are so many of them but none of them are quite good enough to make the others redundant. This means that on any business trip I carry 5 gadgets. An iPod Touch, A Blackberry Pearl, An AT&T Tilt, a Samsung SGH-U600 and my trusty T61p Thinkpad laptop computer.

The iPod may be thought the poor relation to the iPhone but is it a better media player because it has more memory (32Gb) and is significantly thinner. Of course all the other devices can play an MP3 but they cannot sync with podcasts with anything like the straight forwardness of the Apple device. Also none of the others can so seamlessly integrate with my jalopy when I want to listen to audio books on long trips. Of course it has built in wireless networking so I can access my mail and calendar using the forthcoming Lotus iNotes Ultralite in Domino 8.5 as well.

Talking of email on the move, the Blackberry is very much the vogue for secure enterprise messaging and is indeed an excellent device for syncing with Lotus Domino mail. But the fact is that it isn't really a full PDA and despite what the fan boys say, the keyboard is a challenge for someone with sausage fingers like me. The real limitation for me is that it doesn't support wireless networking.

The AT&T Tilt (HTC TyTN II) on the other hand is a proper PDA with full Windows Mobile capabilities. Again I can access my Lotus Domino email and calendaring using Lotus Notes Traveler. Also it supports both GPRS or 3G dialup and wireless networking. Lotus Mobile Connect VPN software makes a pretty good job of ensuring the most appropriate (cheapest) service is always used. The slide out keyboard is also pretty good. The downside of this device is that it is about the size and shape of a house brick.

The Samsung may seem a little light in functionality compared to these super gadgets - but that is the point. It is my personal phone that I keep with me all the time and the most important attribute is that it is small and light so it can hang off my belt without making me look like a Star Trek nerd.

So my real challenge in life is not connectivity or functionality - its big pockets in suits!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

When the impossible happens

There are some things that should just never happen. Some time lines that by all rights must be impossible. Normally strange intersections are reserved for Science Fiction. Just think Marty Mcfly fighting off the attentions of his teenage mother in Back to the Future when he visits his past.

But it isn't just science fiction - you may remember the story about the twins parted at birth who went on to marry before discovering the unpalatable truth.

Well a similar if not quite so serious situation has befallen me. For 31 years I have been supporting the mighty Manchester United football club. Some may wonder why I didn't support my local team of Hull City, but they were so laughably inept that there was no chance that they would ever play in the top flight. In fact their claim to fame was they they were in the semi final of the FA Cup in 1929. Beside which, Hull was really a Rugby town.

So how has this happened? In just five seasons Hull City have risen from the bottom division of the English Football league to being promoted to the Premier League! For many years Hull was famous for being the largest city in Europe to have a football team that had never reached the top division. Now they are up there with the elite. The dilemma of course is what do I do when the plucky Tigers are playing Man United? Do I root for the team I have always supported or do I hope the underdogs from my ancestral home will triumph? Very simple - I'll stick with ManU but really hope Hull beat Chelsea. And Arsenal.