Monthly Archives: January 2005

Les Arcs

Well, that was fun. Got back from Les Arcs yesterday at about 6pm.

We picked the right week to go: for a few days before we arrived, and for the first day and a half of the holiday, it snowed constantly. For the rest of the week it was clear blue skies (and very cold).

Our hotel had ski/boot hire on site, so all that business was painless. I started with snowblades but there was too much powder: I swapped to grown-up skis after the first morning (they’re like planks!). After the weather cleared up I swapped back again (to constant moans from Barrie about “snowbrakes”). I much prefer snowblades, even though skating on the flat is much more effort than poling. It’s good aerobic exercise anyway.

I also swapped boots, since my first pair were causing my left calf to shriek with pain by the end of Monday. Probably just a bad fit: the second pair were much newer, and painless.

Chris and I let Barrie be our tour guide. Consequently we both did a great deal more skiing than we’ve ever done before. On Tuesday we were out from 9.30 until 5, although not all of that was skiing: there were a few stops for chocolate chaud, lunch, and for helping Andy down a too-steep-for-him blue. (Les Arcs has no designated green runs: just blue, red and black.)

After Tuesday’s exertions Chris and I had an easy Wednesday (giving up at lunchtime), and a Dodgy Back Experience on Wednesday night convinced me to take Thursday morning off. For lunch on Thursday we met some of Andy’s orchestra mates, who were staying in Arc 2000 (we were in Arc 1800), and afterwards Andy showed off his new-found blue skills to them. I have the video.

I planned to do a few black runs during the week but somehow ended up doing none, though one or two of the reds were pretty dark. Barrie took me down a mogully red on Tuesday morning, which I didn’t really want to do, but I found myself giggling most of the way down until it tired me out.

On Friday Barrie failed to convince me to ski down from the Aiguille Rouge, at 3200m or so (but Chris went with him). I stayed at 2700m and wished for summer as my toes lost feeling (it was about -15°C, plus windchill). I should have done a run or two while waiting for them but decided to be lazy. Lazy and frozen.

Chris turned into a speed demon on Friday. I haven’t reached that mental place yet; my knees and legs tire easily and if I go too fast I’ll just wipe out spectacularly (which might not be true, but as I said, I haven’t reached that mental place yet).

My Les Arcs photos are up. So are Chris’s photos, which are much more interesting and varied than mine. I haven’t looked at the video yet to determine whether there’s anything worth editing together.


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Me, Chris, Andy and Barrie are off to Les Arcs for a week, in about 15 minutes. Must finish packing.

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Just back from badminton. It’s the first time I’ve played since about September of ought-three.

Not too bad. I’ve lost some fitness, naturally, but I was surprised at how well I played. I missed some easy shots (I always do), but the reflexes weren’t that dull.

And most importantly of all, I don’t seem to have damaged myself. There’s some soreness, but I think it’s exercise-soreness rather than spine-splintered-soreness. Ask me again in the morning…


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Loose maths sinks ships

Slashdot reports on a survey of a gazillion project managers on why their projects fail. The results are interesting, but the authors also present an all-powerful mathematical formula that lets you slice and dice your project into a single number that supposedly indicates risk. So far, so statistical.

They (or the ACM, publishing the article) helpfully present a “worked example” of the formula, which uses subjective ratings in six areas, each multiplied by a weighting, then all added together to give you your distance from doom. Great. But they (or the ACM) get their maths wrong.

In case the graphic is fixed, here’s a transcription of the worked example right now:

Fit between blah blah blah: 5 x 3.0 = 15.2

Level of blah blah: 6 x 1.9 = 11.6

Use of blah: 1 x 1.7 = 1.7

Similarity to blah: 3 x 1.5 = 4.5

Project simblahcity: 7 x 1.1 = 7.4

Stablahlity of blah: 9 x 0.8 = 7.3

Overall blah: 48

2/6. See me. (And their numbers actually add up to 47.7 not 48, but they’re probably “rounded”.)

I make the correct answer 47.5, due to my superpower ability to both multiply and add. But hey, it’s all fuzzy semi-meaningless stats since it starts from a subjective score. Simply bias your biases to reduce your risk!

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You can’t see the join

Tonight’s bank holiday viewing highlights:

7.15, Channel 4: Carry On Screaming
12:15, BBC ONE: Carry On At Your Convenience
— this is 2005 not 1975, surely?

7:30, BBC ONE: Airport
8:00, ITV 1: Airline
— and both up against soaps.

8:30, BBC ONE: Bend It Like Beckham
9:00, ITV 1: Uncle Adolf
9:00, Channel 4: The Unseen Eric Morecambe
— what do you think of it so far?

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Torvalds, Wall, Binns…

Our Rog gets noticed:

When people talk about the heroes of open source, you tend to hear such familiar names as Linus Torvalds, Larry Wall, Brendan Eich, Guido van Rossum, Monty Widenius, Miguel de Icaza, and Rasmus Lerdorf. No question about it: These people are my heroes. But so is Roger Binns, and so are the countless other unsung heroes of open source. For solving a host of vexing problems with quiet competence, and for doing it in ways that invite others to stand on their shoulders, I salute them all.

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