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Welcome to www.matt-allen.co.uk
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Thanks for visiting www.matt-allen.co.uk it is basically just a series of rants and is desperately in need of a revamp. Bear with me, it will be updated soon...

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Date
Stuff

Blog 1
Spuggie Spuggie WiFi Man
20/05/06

Blog 2
Joggers’ Nipple
22/05/06

Blog 3
Picky Mickey
23/05/06

Blog 4
DV or not DV: that is the question...
25/05/06

Blog 5
Waterstones Paper Scissors
05/06/06

Blog 6
3 Peaks, 2 Humps and 1 Big Mound...Phroar
30/06/06

Blog 7
Mam(mary) Tor
03/12/06

Blog 8
Got Any Gear On You Mate?
05/02/07

Last Updated:
07/12/09





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    Blog Roll

    Xmas Cold - 08/12/09
    It's fair to say that I've not been up to much recently. Being full of a cold for the last two weeks is starting to test my patience. I booked last Monday off work as I was feeling run down and went ice climbing. Since then I've been snotty and knackered and have a head ache I just can't shift. The ice climbing itself was great though. After working out I'd not been for well over 6 months it was good to get back into it. I didn't go for anything too outrageous at first, just sticking with a warm-up and then a few other drawn on routes. The wall has changed somewhat since the last time with the guys flattening it down to allow for an easier start for the beginners - previously the bottom section started with a bulge which mean a lot of new starters crampons would slip off at they tried to climb over it.

    I personally thought the ice wall was looking a bit ropey as the ice was 'dirty' in appearance. Though, the staff member said that it wasn't in need of maintenance and wouldn't be touched until the week after. I wonder if she'd thought that if she'd seen all the holes towards the top. In fact, there were so many pockmarks that I was able to hook my way up, swinging the axes only once.
    I'd planned to go indoor climbing later that evening, but my mate came round to drop off some equipment he was going to need for fitting the boiler. As it happened the cold kicked in and I couldn't be bothered moving even when my mate was finished dropping off the gear. The plan is to go climbing this Thursday, but at the moment I'm goosed. I normally always get a cold around xmas, but in this case it's before the proper festivities start, rather than during. So I suppose it's not all bad. Time to nail the vitamin C, me thinks!

    Rubber Ducky - 08/11/09
    Over the past few weeks I'd thought about how I could make taking photographs of Mountain Hares on the moors in the Peak District easier. For too long I've simply had shots of them running away, as they are spooked far too easily. As Hares have large ears they can pick up our clinky walking, rustling Goretex and loud voices from a good distance away. They have a better field of view that us humans, with almost 360-degree vision, but that vision is not as clear. They also have a blind spot in front of their face, which is why they and rabbits look at your side-on. See here for more information.

    As I didn't want to be sat in the dirt in a hide waiting for some movement I needed a way of getting the shots I want in reduced time. Figuring that we could use out noisey walking to our advantage I decided that Jonny could be the distracting pawn piece in the game of hare chess. Typically Hares, when avoiding predators, will run across the moor and then up it; usually running to the right, though this is not always the case. So with that in mind I would sit at the top of the moor and let Jonny come in from my left and the walk towards me. This would hopefully get the Hares running towards me, rather than the usual of them running away.

    Of course, communicating with him was going to be an issue. How could I tell him that he needed to stop for a second whilst I changed lenses, or to change direction as I'd clocked a Hare some where other than where he was? Shouting was out of the question as it would instantly give away my position and scare the Hares. Hand/arm signals are going to be difficult if I'm sat in the mud under the line of the heather. Also, apart from the confusion it may cause, I would look a bit of a fool doing it. So I decided to buy something which I've wanted since I was a kid and now I kind of had an excuse to buy a set - Walkie Talkies.

    After browsing the net for a bit I went for the Motorola TLKR T7 walkie talkies. Okay, they're not the cheapest and I doubted they would cover anywhere near the 10km quoted (though actually on the Motorola website it says 10km2), but they did look good and the reviews were all positive (bar the critisism of the quoted range). I also nipped to Maplin and picked up a remote PTT and ear-piece system so that I could operate the radio without having to hold it in front of me and therefore operate the camera freely.

    In the field the walkie talkies were clear, though we were only 1/4 a mile away from each other. The remote PTT worked well allowing me to be discrete. Jonny could have done with one too as at some points I heard him without the radio - he had problems understanding the whole push-to-talk thing. The battery life seems good, showing full after over an hour of talk-time. They are solid units and feel good in the hand, so wouldn't be annoying after prolonged use. As there was thick mist we decided not to implement my flush-the-hare technique and simple walked in a triangle to see how they performed. I think the next step will be to pick a day where the weather isn't crap and try out the technique.

    Homeplug or Powerline? - 31/10/09
    With my PC being used for editing this, that, or the other and my laptop used for the internet I thought it was about time I hooked up the PC to the world wide web. I didn't fancy getting a WiFi USB device as I didn't want the signal to drop out - not that it does on my laptop mind you. The speed of ethernet did interest me, but as I'm in a rented house I didn't fancy drilling holes through the floors. Next best thing? Homeplug / Powerline. I'd heard good things about it as I knew people on the 85Mb/s adapters and they said the could stream video. Going one step higher would take me to 200Mb/s. These are classed as AV devices, suitable for streaming high resolution video. I was about to buy a 200Mb/s adapter of some brand or other when I stumbled across the Belkin HD Powerline 1Gb/s homeplugs. Ordered two of them which set me back �92.91 - they were from Scan.

    Unpacked and sitting on the kitchen table I couldn't wait to plug them in. The setup seemed simple, plug one in, press the button on top for encryption for a couple of seconds. plug the second device in and press the top button. They light showed that they had successfully paired. Immediately I went to my main PC and tried to view the thumbnails. To my shock performing said action looked as though explorer had crashed. I then opened Media Player and loaded a video for it to sit for ages and then after a stuttered attempt it crashed. I downloaded the 'Network Meter' gadget for Windows 7 and it showed 1.6Mb/s; no where near what I was supposed to get. Now I know that I'm not ever going to get 1000Mb/s, but I would have liked to get 100Mb/s. 1.6Mb/s isn't worth bothering. Disappointed I browsed the net at work - probably should have been working, but it was a Friday. I found that Belkin had already put out a firmware update, but this was not really looking like it would fix my issue - it was to fix stability problems. I decided to re-run the hole sync process and plug the homeplugs in the same room just to see if it's because I'm off the ring main. I couldn't even get access to the internet when I used it this way. Frustrated I returned back to my PC and decided to run the update on both adapaters.

    Updating has given me 8Mb/s maximum. This is 1MB/s, which is acceptable. Way off what I wanted, but still, better than it was. I've been transferring photos from my external USB drive to my NAS and though the throughput is up and down I am getting 6Mb/s average. Still need to try them again on the same ring.

    Would I recommend them? Well, they look great, but perform poorly. At this moment I wouldn't recommend them to anyone until Belkin (or Gigle, as it's their chipset) sort things out. Problem now is that I bought a pair for my brother! Doh!

    UPDATE - Have done some 'lab' tests and have found that it's my Belkin N1 router which is causing the slow down, or at least some of it. My older Belkin 125G+ router managed to get around 11MB/s which is great for me; it allows me to view the thumbnails and associated images without any problems. Plug in the new router and the speed starts the same, but dips to 3MB/s. I'm sure a firmware update to the router will sort it, but it's a little irritating that two Belkin products don't work efficiently together out of the box. I rate Belkin stuff. It's relatively cheap, yet performs well. However, this sort of incompatibility, or instability together is very annoying.

    Controlled (non)Fires - 03/10/09
    Today was quite an interesting day. I'd wanted to go out for a walk, but Jonathan suggested something slightly different, but would still have us going out in the Peak District. We'd (he) been invited to attend a controlled moorland fire to test how the Fire Service responded and dealt with the issue. It was a test of coordinating the resources across two Fire Services; in this case Staffordshire (the host) and Derbyshire. It also included the support and coordination of the FOG (Fire Operations Group) which is a advisory panel made up of 6 Fire Services, Pennine Helicopters, Severn Trent Water, Chatsworth, The National Trust, The National Park Ranger Service (Peak District), United Utilities and The Moorland Gamekeepers Association.

    Late night and early morning means tired Matt, and that's what I was. A cool autumn morning was a perfect day to test out my coLAB Belay Jacket from Alpkit.com. I knew there was a spot of rain due in the afternoon, but I hadn't expected the wind. Looking on Metcheck showed a brisk wind of 25-30mph. Unfortunately the high winds meant that we were not going to see the spectacle we'd hoped for. Setting a fire in these sorts of winds would be catastrophic as the fire would rapidly become out of control.

    Our plans were not cuppard all together as there would be simulated fires instead with the use of smoke machines. Not quote what I'd hoped for, but better than nothing. The pyromaniac in me would have to stay dormant for a little while longer!

    My role, different than the other observers, was merely to take photographs of the event. The other observers in the group were university lecturers and the like, with their PhD followers. During the course of the day each one of the PhD students asked whether I was too working towards a PhD. I'm sure their question was answered as soon as I opened my gob. I brought two lenses, the wide-zoom (18-70mm, f3.5-4.5) and tele-photo (70-200mm, f2.8). I wanted to get some could blurred out backgrounds with a shallow depth of field and so stuck with the 70-200mm. Of course this meant that I had to be a fair distance back from the subject matter. Fine if I'm shooting a fire, but not so good if it's people close to me. Therefore, my only option was to run ahead and snap them walking towards me. Not an easy feat when the ground I'm trying to run through is actually knee to waist height, 15 year old heather, interspersed with boggy sphagnum moss.

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