4th May 2011 : ESC Silicon Valley

STOP PRESS - just returned from ESC where I won 4 prizes and about $1500! Courtesy of Renesas and the co-sponsors Micron, Micrium and Total Phase

Renesas Earthquake Monitor

Renesas Electronics will be demonstrating my earthquake monitor live at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose. Feel free to stop by the ESC Theatre at 2:30 pm on Wednesday 4th May!

Renesas Earthquake Monitor

Apart from the fact that it goes up to 11 (on the European Macroseismic Scale) the main features of the design include :

- real time display of X, Y and Z motion
- zoom function to show all 3 axes or just one axis
- seismic data recording and playback from Micron flash
- data download via Total Phase Aardvark

February 2011 : Earthquake Monitor

This is my entry in the Renesas RX Design Contest - an earthquake monitor using an RX62N microcontroller, Analog Devices 10-bit MEMS accelerometer, Micron serial flash and Total Phase Aardvark. The video was shot in HD with my Olympus E-P1.

5th December 2010 : Dallas White Rock Marathon

My first road marathon went well for the first 19 miles, with a steady 8:10 pace, then it all went horribly wrong. The last 7 miles took about 70 minutes! But it was totally worth it thanks to my mobile cheering team (see below) who appeared at miles 10, 16, 19, 22 and 26.2!

November 2010 : Yan Kanji on Giapponizzati

Giapponizzati, the premier website for Italian fans of all things Japanese, posted an article on my Yan Kanji app. Most of the comments so far seem to be along the lines of “Bellissima”, and one person even went as far as saying “This app is very well made”. Eccellente!

Giapponizzati Yan Kanji

September 2010 : Tour des Fleurs

A 20K race around White Rock Lake, starting and finishing at the Dallas Arboretum. Another scorcher and a humid one too, with temperatures around 80 F (27 degrees C) as the race began.

Tour des Fleurs 20K

Quite a few ups and downs towards the end but I managed to finish in 1 hour 34 minutes and 31 seconds, for an average pace of 7:37. Running a marathon in 3 hours 30 minutes should definitely be do-able!

June 2010 : Blenheim, Blencathra and Berlin

Starting off with the Blenheim Palace 10K run for the British Heart Foundation. The course around the palace was very hilly, and probably only flat for a mile or so. The first 5K took only 19:40, but the hills and sun took a toll during the back 5K so my total time was 41:46. Overall an encouraging race, and a 19 minute 5K and 40 minute 10K should be within reach.

Derwent Water near Keswick

Then off to the Lake District where we tackled Clough Head, Stybarrow Dodd and Blencathra, all from a base near Derwentwater (above).

The main event was the ascent of Blencathra (2848 ft) via Sharp Edge, descending Hall’s Fell ridge back to Threlkeld. Since the weather was mainly dry and sunny the walk was pretty straightforward. Sharp Edge was exciting and enjoyable, but never scary, although it might be in wet or windy conditions!

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Onwards to Berlin in Germany. Two days is not enough for such a huge city, but we covered a lot of ground and visited the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and the underground bunkers from the Cold War.

April 2010 : Marathon 1-2-3 Plan

After running a 5K race in a reasonable time, 20:34, I have decided I should try a marathon by the end of the year. There is no shortage of training plans on how to achieve such a goal, for example the Hal Higdon plan and the Jeff Galloway marathon program. However, these are all incredibly detailed and it can be exhausting just ploughing through the tables that tell you when to run and how far to go.

So I invented the Martindale Marathon Plan, or Marathon 1-2-3 Plan.

Run no more than 3 times a week, but make every run count. Run long, run hard, or run uphill!

1) Long run : start at 1 hour and build up to 3 hours of SLOW running
2) Race pace : 4-6 miles with 1-3 miles at a decent clip
3) Hill repeats : 40-60 minutes of uphills and downhills, concentrating on good technique

And by posting these targets online I hope I will be encouraged not to give up!

1) 5K in 19:30
2) 10K in 40 minutes
3) Marathon in 3:30 (might be a little optimistic)

January 2010 : 14er Finisher

It's official! According to the Colorado Mountain Club I am the 1340th person to climb all 54 peaks over 14000 ft (4267 m). Although the actual number of 14er finishers is undoubtedly higher, since the existence of “the list” isn’t all that well publicised.

CMC 14er Files 2009

The above is from the Winter 2010 Trail & Timberline magazine.

11th September 2009 : Pyramid Peak (14018 ft)

This was my 54th and final fourteener! To celebrate we carried a bottle of Glenfiddich and some quality Colorado microbrews (Breckenridge Avalanche and Boulder Beer Pass Time) into the wilderness. Twelve year old Scotch tastes amazingly smooth at 14000 ft :

Pyramid Peak Glenfiddich

We camped at Crater Lake which shaved 500 ft and a mile or so off the climb. The standard route up to the amphitheatre, across the boulderfield and onwards to the 13000 ft saddle was not that difficult, but because of the steepness it was rather time-consuming. The last 1000 ft to the top of Pyramid was all Class 3-4 scrambling on loose and steep rock, which made reaching the summit all the more rewarding.

Colorado 54 Fourteeners

Back in Aspen, a nice place for breakfast and lunch is Poppycock’s. For top-notch food Jimmy’s is great, and also fairly inexpensive providing you dine in the bar rather than the restaurant.

12th August 2009 : Mt Eolus (14083 ft)

My third attempt on Mt Eolus turned out well. The weather was perfect and this time I had my hiking legs on, so I managed to reach the top by 8:15 in the morning. I had to wait until 9 o’clock before someone joined me and took this summit shot!

Mt Eolus summit

On this trip I took the standard route - the Durango & Silverton train to Needleton followed by a hike in to Chicago Basin. With a camp at about 10800 ft, the next day I only had to cover 3300 ft plus a few miles up to Mt Eolus.

Summit day began at 4 am and I was walking before 5. The full moon was so bright I didn’t need my headlamp at first, although I did use it after the moon set and before the sun rose. Even in the dark I was moving swiftly, and it wasn’t long before I reached the crux of the climb - the “catwalk” and the northeast ridge :

Mt Eolus and the catwalk

The “catwalk” seemed wide enough to accommodate a small elephant, and it was much easier than I expected. The NE ridge up to the summit was really solid so the scrambling was a lot of fun. If the exposure became too much (on the sunny side) I just went over to the dark side (west of the ridge) where the hand & foot holds were easier to find.

Mt Eolus takes my tally of fourteeners up to 53. Only one more left - Pyramid Peak near Aspen!

26th June 2009 : Columbine Pass (12700 ft)

This 40 mile, 3 day expedition in the Weminuche Wilderness was supposed to involve the summit of Mt Eolus (14083 ft) but unfortunately the altitude and terrain proved to be too much. The small streams and rivers were all raging torrents, certainly too deep and fast for a safe crossing. Johnson Creek almost ended our trip, until we decided to build a bridge! Two North Carolina hikers appeared from nowhere and the five of us pushed some rotten aspens across the creek.

Vallecito Creek in Weminuche Wilderness

The plan had been to follow the Vallecito Trail north for 9 miles then branch off to Johnson Creek, up and over Columbine Pass, to a campsite in Chicago Basin. Due to the rough terrain, high waters and lack of bridges we only made it to a campsite at 10000 ft on the WRONG side of the pass. So the next day had all the makings of an epic - 20 miles and 7000 ft of ascent!

After climbing 2700 ft to Columbine Pass, descending 1700 ft to Chicago Basin, then ascending 1500 ft to Twin Lakes at 12500 ft I decided to call it a day. My hiking legs had deserted me and I was hindering Josh and Jay. I headed back to camp while they continued onwards, eventually reaching Mt Eolus (their 53rd fourteener) about 3 hours later.

It was a shame not to reach the top, especially since it would also have been my 53rd 14er. Oh well, next time I’ll know not to put a 12700 ft pass between base camp and the summit!

For the full trip report see Josh Friesema’s website Hiking in the Rockies

30th May 2009 : Mt Snowdon (3560 ft)

Mt Snowdon, at 1085m the highest peak in England & Wales, is usually a very wet & cloudy climb. We were lucky with weather that was more Colorado than Wales. One week later the summit was enveloped in cloud, with heavy rain and 80 mph winds.

The photo below was taken from the base of the Watkin path, at 50 metres above sea level.

Snowdon from Watkin path

April 2009 : Team Spirit and Bailout Ben

An adventure in iPhone apps and Objective-C. Quite interesting from a technology point of view, however, if I had a day job I wouldn’t quit it!

Team Spirit basically displays very large characters in different colours. So if you attended a concert with 6 other iPhone-owning friends you could stand in a row and show “YOU ROCK” or “YOU SUCK”, for example. Unfortunately, this has yet to catch on with the Facebook crowd...
Bailout Ben iPhone

Bailout Ben is a very simple game featuring a certain Helicopter Benny who flies around dropping bundles of dollars from the sky. Benny also has to evade the giant piggy banks who are upset at the lack of cash flowing their way!