Sunday, November 25, 2007

WideFinder - late entrant

Snagged me a log file and starting cranking out some code tonight. I had some free time to think about this a couple of weeks ago, and got some sketches down, but I've only recently got the data to start seeing how the code can fly. So, I'm starting out on my work Dell laptop, Dual Core Pentium 2GHz with 2GB RAM and a really shitty disk, judging by the slowness and noises it makes (or is that just Vista?) [stay on topic! - Ed]. The Ruby version runs in just over a minute, once all of the caches are warmed up. My initial naive Java version runs in 14 seconds (I haven't figured out yet how to run it using time as per *nix environments - Cygwin says it can't find the time command when I pipe zcat output into it).

Now to start implementing my ideas. I have what I think is the shared update of the accumulator as well as I'm going to get it. I'm hypothesising that most of the updates are uncontended and so don't require the full weight of Java's locking capabilities. Now I just need to parallelize the I/O and determine the most efficient matching algorithm, which seems to be Boyer-Moore from reading the Wide-Finder series. That particular algorithm seems to pop up fairly regularly in searching. Might be interesting to see what else is available in that field, but it should be in a library, surely?

Development updates

Just logging the early signs. Connor was walking to nursery with Al the other day, and kicked a cat. There is a history there, the cat had previously scratched him, but even so! The other sign to be aware of is from when the boys recently watched the middle Star Wars trilogy. Afterwards, Callum wanted to role play and be Luke. Connor wanted to be Darth Vader. Enough said.

Oakley For Ever

I love Oakley [1], and not just for the quality of the purchased product.

  • From Lance Armstrong's book, he recounts telling his Oakley sponsor that he's been diagnosed with cancer, but he's not got health insurance. The guy from Oakley tells Armstrong not to worry and he sorts it out by telling the insurance company that Armstrong had better damn well be covered, otherwise Oakley will stop doing their company heath insurance scheme through that insurance company. I'm happy spending money with a company that employs that sort of human being.
  • When I recently lost one of the rubber noseclips from one of my pairs of Oakleys, I phoned up customer service and they posted some out the same day, no charge. That's just great service, and ensures that I'll continue to buy Oakleys and will probably be getting them from my three sons over time as well. Why aren't more companies that switched on about having a great long-term relationship with customers?

[1] Ok, the website does appear to suck somewhat!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Albarracin trip day six - return to Sol

Went back to Sol, to go to the other end of it. Really struggled warming up; my arms would not work, and I have very mushy thin tips on all of my fingers and thumbs. Scott did a nice roof, first or second go. I really struggled to link it until I just got really angry, and just pissed up it. Why didn't I do that the first time and save all of the skin and energy, fool? Found it hard to get pysched today, tiredness and missing the family is starting to tell. Next we tried a really cool roof traverse into a slopey top-out. Great moves, but a bit hard for me in that state. Around 7a again, but I split a tip on about fourth go and that was me done. I'd got overlapping halves on it apart from topping out, which I'd split my tip on. Scottie got overlapping halves and topped out, but then seemed to lose power, the sun came around a bit more or something and he didn't look as smooth on it. I then tucked into the baguettes while he thrashed himself on a couple of other things.

While we were in the area, we went over to Masia. That looks like it's got a few nice things to do as well, so something else to go back for. Final night, we went back to El Molina del Gato, which serves nice beer, has strange music and all of the climbing topos, including French ones so we could work out where we'd gone wrong in looking for Tierra Media. And then another disappointing meal in a place off the main square. Not sure about Spanish food; it must be better than that. Maybe we couldn't speak the language that well, but people couldn't recommend stuff either, and we were getting cold peppers out of a tin served with bad fries and indeterminate meat. Not inspiring. I was already dreaming of Thai green chicken curry.

Albarracin trip day five - return to Arrastradero

Had some unfinished business with a sit down start to an arete here, so wanted to go back. Mint conditions, quite cold and hard to warm up. Skin still felt trashed. Met up with the two guys from Bristol that we'd met at the car park earlier in the week. I think it was their first time to the area, so they were running around dead keen. Managed to do a few nice things; there was a place round the back quite similar to l'Elephant with sloping flared cracks. There was a really good-looking 7a rib (8a sit start) which I didn't try due to trying to preserve skin, and the original walls that we'd seen on our first visit to this area that we still hadn't tackled. Oh well...

Albarracin trip day four - rest day

Day four for the first rest day? Well, not really. The first day wasn't much; an hour or so of tinkering. So we've pretty much done the 2 days on, 1 day off thing. It seems to have worked out well, as this was a planned rest day, and it started raining last night.

So a very late start today, after a lot of vino tinto last night. We decided to go exploring and work out where best to go on our last two days. First off, up towards Techo. This was the first area that we found using the topo and didn't get lost! This looks like quite a brutal hardcore place. OK, so it was a rest day and we're feeling (or I am anyway) quite shredded, but most stuff here looks like you need to be doing 7b to get much out of coming here. There were some inspiring roof lines that looked around 8a; I'll save them until I've lost 10 kg and got strong again.

We carried on up the hill towards Madriles and Pyschokiller; more big stepped roofs again. Although apparently Pyschokiller might not allow climbing there. Some of the areas are restricted, but not at the time we were here.

Then we went looking for the visitor's centre that was listed on the national park signs. Unfortunately, our written Spanish was enough to understand that it was only open at weekends and holiday periods. But the drive to get there was quite something. The park seems to be raised about the plateau, and we had some fantastic views of the flood plain and the sandstone towers elsewhere. It looked like going for a walk in that area would be worthwhile on the rest day as well, if we were there for a longer period.

To round off the day, we tried to find Tierra Media, but our Spanish wasn't up to the task. We did find some striking red trees though; not sure if they were seasonally that colour, or that was their natural plumage, so to speak.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Albarracin trip day three - Sol

Well, a bit more about where we're staying. We're at Camping Albarracin. It's a somewhat strange place in terms of requiring an international bank transfer to pay the deposit, but they accept Visa when I came to pay the balance on arrival. We're in a bungalow advertised as being suitable for four, and it would do that, but it feels very bijou with just the two of us. Not sure how Andy, Emma et al will find it next week!

Went to Sol today, and again had slight problems finding our way there. We followed our Spanish topo, but went a bit far before breaking up the hill parallel to the road. Sol was good, lots of stuff to warm-up on. My skin is feeling it already though. Trying a big roof today; I couldn't quite use Scott's sequence due to not having sixty foot arms, but need to work on press moves a bit more. I couldn't quite press out over the lip enough.

Albarracin trip day two - Arrastradero

Had the most awful food at Hotel Albarracin last night. It was steak, but well-done at one end and completely raw (proper raw, not just the raw that I've had in certain French establishments. So, late start before getting up to go climbing. Lovely day again, got a bit lost going to where we intended. We went up to the main car park, and then along the road a bit before striking left into the forest, past a collection of cave paintings. This was thanks to our reading of the topo, and we had inadvertently gone to the wrong side of the hill. We noticed some enticing looking walls on the left (minimum 7a?, so a bit hard to warm up on) and eventually got to where we wanted to be. What we should have done is walked up past the swing park, until you see the climbing area on your right. But our Spanish was non-existent. Another good day, good rock and lovely area. I'm not getting any power onto the rock really, been pulling on blobs too much and got no topping out skills for these slopey topouts, so I'm struggling on everything except the crimpy overhanding walls. Scott is climbing really well, but then he climbs on rock lots! Jealous, moi!?

Albarracin trip day one

Flew into Madrid, managed to get all of the bouldering kit including my unfeasibly large extending stick on the plane and then drove the Albarracin. No map in the hire care (thanks Europcar!) but a combination of the AA and Google Maps directions got us there without any mishaps. We got there at about six in the evening and Scott was mad keen. I was more up for a beer, but we went for a drive, found some rocks and had a quick play. The rock and national park is really cool, and we were climbing as the moon came up. Beautiful. Sadly Al's got the camera this week, so I hope that my phone will suffice. Think we're going to have a good week.